“Heels and red lipstick will put the fear of god into people.” -Dita Von Teese
Just stumbled across this gorgeous photo series:
Juliette Dragon is a total badass. In addition to singing in a ‘Sensual Garage Rock Band’ with her husband called Rikkha, she puts on scintillating cabaret productions with her burlesque company, Le Cabaret des Filles de Joie, and founded the first burlesque school in Paris: Ecole des Filles de Joie. Girls at her school learn more than just how to dance– they are learning not just to shake but to own and feel good about what their mamas gave them. “You have to like and to love yourself to be able to be loved by someone else. In my school the girls are learning how to love themselves and love each other.” Forget the girls in the magazine- “I think every kind of woman is beautiful and the sex appeal isn’t a question of age or skin color… just an attitude.”
For bookings and more information about des Filles de Joie, check out www.lebison.com.
I first met sex educator and Cuddle Party co-creator Reid Mihalko in 2011 at the Los Angeles Pleasure Chest where he was leading one of his classes. He referred to himself as the “golden retriever” in the sex education world and it’s easy to see why; his sweet charm and goofy personality helps put people at ease when grappling with topics that are still considered scary and taboo by many.
I have long been frustrated by America’s seemingly endless war on sex; sure, pornography has never been more readily available and vibrators are being sold in local drug stores, but sexual shame still grips a large percentage of men and women. The glimpse of a woman’s breast on national tv in this country causes public outrage. Influential (albeit crazy) politicians wage public campaigns against masturbation and contraception. Sex is considered more obscene than violence. There are still places in this country where the sale of sex toys is considered a crime! I don’t know about you but I think something is seriously wrong here. But teachers like Reid give me hope that the tide can be turned with open dialogue and encouragement from coaches and educators to look within and own our desire.
On a sunny day in Oakland I interviewed Reid at his spacious yet cozy loft in Fruitvale (lovingly dubbed “Fruitopia”) where he shared with me the early inspiration for his career, how he’s helping to further the sex positive movement, and his philosophy about life, love and relationships.
For more information about Reid and his teachings, check out ReidAboutSex.com.
Many people over the years, particularly women, have expressed concern over the role pornography has played in setting unreasonable expectations in the bedroom, especially amongst young people who are receiving all of their sex education by watching Redtube and YouPorn (damn those abstinence only programs!). Cindy Gallop, the creative mind behind Make Love Not Porn, proclaims to be “pro sex, pro porn, pro knowing the difference.”
Now a NY production company called Kornhaber Brown [KB] has put out an amusing short film illustrating some of these differences with food:
The only access to porn I had as a kid was the scrambled variety on channel 99. One early confession from an anonymous girl submitted to FKMYSELF.COM described repeated viewings of sex scenes from Jerry Maguire and Soul Food (rewound on VHS) as masturbatory material. Man do kids have it easy these days.
But is all this easy access to pornography warping their minds? Does every teenage boy assume that every girl enjoys anal and swallowing? A lot of the sex education I received was from reading Cosmo magazine, which can’t be much better, but have unreasonable boudoir expectations become amplified by YouPorn? I’d love to hear what the readers have to say about this one- please weigh in below.
Before I entered an open relationship, I thought it would be a great way to have your cake and eat it too. You could have all the benefits of being in a relationship – stability, security, and regular sex, as well as all the benefits of being single – freedom, exploration, and invigorating “new relationship energy” (often referred to as NRE).
However, after I started delving into the tumultuous world of polyamory, I came to learn that it was much, much, more than that.
I came to learn that open relationships were fundmentally about truth, communication, and transparency. It was about facing my own fears, my own insecurities, as well as learning to love unconditionally. Many people I talk to would love to be in an open relationship – one way. They would love the freedom on their end, but would not want their partner to share the same freedoms.
For me, a deeply intimate, loving relationship is about loving your partner enough to allow them the ability to completely experience life to its fullest capacity. Even if that means them having sex with somebody else. This is where the rub lies. In our society, there is a deeply ingrained modality of ‘monogamy’. This often leads to issues of “should”, “should not”, pain, and insecurities.
If we *KNEW* our partner deeply loved us, and they have dinner with a friend, would this cause us pain? How about if they slept over at their place? How about if they hugged them? Kissed them? Had sex with them? And that these actions didn’t come from a place of deceit, lies, and untruth, but they were in constant communication with you throughout the entire process? For some people, dinner is already crossing a threshold. Others are okay with kissing, but not sex. Others, only certain kinds of sex (maybe oral only). Each of these thresholds depends on our own level of trust in our partner, and confidence in our own self-worth.
The first time my partner engaged in extracurricular sex, there was some suffering. I examined it. Why is it there? What belief structure was I holding onto that gave rise to the suffering? (Suffering only comes from holding onto a certain belief.) I realized there was some fear of my partner leaving me. There was some fear of the third person being ‘better’, which, when I followed the thought train far enough, eventually also led to the fear of my partner leaving. As I examined and followed each of these fears WITH my partner, there was constant reassurance and I eventually came to see through all the fears as ultimately false, and I was free to return to the present moment with my partner.
When I engaged in an extracurricular relationship, my partner’s belief set was something around the concept of “access”. That they would no longer have “access” to me. Each of us will have different sticking points, different reasons why we believe something is wrong or shouldn’t be done. With clear, honest, and open communication, we can move through the restrictions of closed relationships and experience a much freeer existence in life.
It is natural and expected for some pain to arise whenever an action takes place that challenges our belief structures. What makes all the difference in the world is how soon you can see through it, let go, and move on. This is where complete honesty and constant communication is required. An open relationship requires both partners to *gradually* push the boundaries of their reality together. “Can we live in a reality where we are both truly happy for the other person being happy in whatever they’re doing?” (This is called “compersion”). Push too hard, and the relationship may break. Gentler never hurts.
So should you engage in an open relationship? Not if you’re in it just to have sex with more people. You might as well just stay single, or you could do that in a monogamous relationship and not tell your partner (as frequently happens). An open relationship is for people ready to face their own fears and insecurities head on. An open relationship is for people that want to grow with their partner through the most intimiate details of life – which extend far beyond the superficial sex. An open relationship is for people that understand that being in a relationship with someone does not mean restricting them, but instead, freeing them. And in the process, freeing yourself.
Have you ever experimented with an open relationship? Weigh in below.
By Kristine Deguzman | Reposted from Em & Lo
A few years ago, when I was a bright-eyed junior at UC Berkeley, I wrote about how my boyfriend and I were going on a break before I left to study abroad in Spain. At the time we had been together for two years, and I remember the reaction I received — from friends and readers alike — who thought I was being unrealistic in thinking that I could hook up with a slew of Spanish men and return to my relationship unscathed.
Well, I’m happy to report that that three years (and many attractive foreign men) later, my boyfriend and I are still together and still as much in love as we were before — if not more so.
Though our relationship has passed the five-year mark, this is not to say that it has been without its difficulties. I’m not going to lie and say our relationship was full of sunshine and daisies after I got back from Spain, because it wasn’t. We dated other people and, yes, slept with other people, and like any normal relationship there were fights and there was jealousy and there was crying — lots and lots of crying.
But in the end, there was and is always a decision — do we give up or do we work it out? And amidst all of the fights, we always chose each other. (Plus, it became kind of kinky to talk about the other people we’d had sex with while having sex with each other — how’s that for dirty talk?)
In the two years that followed my trip to Spain we stayed in a mostly monogamous relationship, though there were a few occasions at parties where he gave me permission to kiss other people (and I, likewise, extended the same courtesy). However, since my boyfriend moved back to LA last September, we’ve returned to experimenting with the boundaries of our relationship, and we’re currently in a long-distance, open relationship.
We don’t have a timeline for when we’ll no longer be long-distance, since I work in the tech industry (which is booming in San Francisco) and he works in the entertainment industry (which basically doesn’t exist outside of Hollywood), but we have talked about moving to New York together within the next two or three years. As far as whether or not our open relationship will continue once we’re back in the same city — it’s kind of unknown. Though, it does seem hard to justify either of us sleeping with other people when the other is just a quick Metro ride away.
Most of the people who I talk to about our relationship are either really supportive or really confused. The confused ones often ask, “Why waste your time with other people if you have a good thing?” Others have admitted that they think it’s hubris for my boyfriend and I to think that we can have our cake (each other) and have sex with other people on the side too.
I think that most of the people who question our relationship do so because they could never imagine themselves in the same situation, and that’s perfectly fine. I don’t think my boyfriend and I have the gold standard of relationships upon which all other relationships should mold themselves, and neither of us goes around telling other couples that they should try spicing things up a bit by sleeping with other people.
What it boils down to, at least for us, is communication — my boyfriend and I talk everyday, several times a day, to the point where my sister now rolls her eyes and says, “Again?! You just talked an hour ago,” whenever she sees my boyfriend calling. We also have pretty specific “rules” in our open relationship (in contrast to the “anything goes” policy we had during our break when I was in Spain). The rules are as follows:
• Dates must be disclosed in advance.
• Potential suitors must know about the existence of the other person.
• Kissing is basically like shaking hands – doesn’t need to be disclosed unless it leads into a date.
• Condoms must be used with all extraneous sexual partners.
We’re so honest with each other that we rarely even fight anymore. I told him when I joined OkCupid, and he joined soon thereafter. We deactivated our OkCupid accounts somewhere around the same time, since neither of us had any luck meeting people in whom we were truly interested. A few months ago, when a trio of boys chatted up a couple of friends and I at a bar, I joked with him about it afterwards. We still talk to each other about our crushes, including one in particular that was so deep and overwhelming that I thought for sure it would tear us apart.
But even with the most destructive of crushes, honest communication was and is the key to making it work – in this particular scenario, my boyfriend ended up giving me permission to date this person despite his misgivings about the situation. The crush fizzled out anyway, but I had even more respect for my boyfriend afterwards for being so rational and levelheaded about it all.
When I envision the trajectory of my life, he is the one I see at the end. He will always be the person I choose when it comes down to it, and I know he feels the same. So why not have some fun with other people along the way?
How do you feel about monogamy vs. open relationships? Have you and your partner ever tried an open arrangement? Weigh in below.
*Editor’s note: if you’re looking for a convincing case for open relationships, read the brilliant book Sex At Dawn: How We Mate, Why We Stray and What It Means for Modern Relationships.