Saturday, September 24, 2011

Twelve: Preferences

Desire enters at the eye, but it passes through so many levels and pathways before it's ever confirmed. Everyone has preferences, though I'm catching hints out there in the world of gender politics that preferences are regarded now as suspect. Preferences are regarded as exclusionary and as just a bit tainted. No preference, I've seen it asserted is ever "innocent". That's an unsettling choice of words. The clear implication there is that any preference is guilty, that anyone having a "type" that he prefers (and it's always a "he" under attack here) is accepting all the evil things about the culture. To have a type, the gender moralisers tell us, is to accept stereotypes and devalue the subjectivity of...well, you can fill in the ranting speeches.

I suppose I have to ask myself whether I have a type. My preferences aren't hard to determine. I like my companions much younger. There's no question about that. Tall is better than short. Slender and sharp-angled is always preferred. I've always been attracted to that look, and I can recall being twelve or thirteen and always looking at photos of actresses and models and choosing in my head the ones who were tall and greyhound-lean. I'm old enough to remember Twiggy, and how shocking her cohort was--- Twiggy and Jane Birkin and the young Marisa Berenson. Models were never very curvy, let alone zaftig--- curves distort the lines of the clothes being displayed ---but long, lean, coltish lines ("boyish", magazines like Playboy sniffed, with just a hint of panic) were still new when I was coming into puberty.   Still, that's a look I always preferred. I can remember taking silly multiple-choice quizzes in magazines that promised to tell you what your taste in female body types told you about your own personality and being informed that I couldn't be a "real man" since I didn't like "real women" with hourglass figures and D-cups. Well, my own tastes were formed by age twelve or so. I like to think that the culture changed to meet me rather the other way round.

If I were designing the perfect young companion, what would she look like? Tall, obviously. Long legs are a clear favourite. I'd prefer blonde to anything else. Yet preferences are just that, they aren't requirements. The tallest girl with whom I've been involved was just over six-one; the shortest was just five-one. The two I've loved most over the years were five-nine and five-eleven. Blonde would be the choice, everything else being equal, but again not a requirement. The two girls I did love most had raven-black and light chestnut hair. I grew up in an era where hair colour was endlessly variable, after all. Girls who were ash-blonde on Monday might be goth blue-black on Friday and add a few scarlet tips or streaks for Saturday night. I liked that. I liked the idea that looks could be changed and re-visioned; I liked the idea of colours that weren't "natural".

If I do have requirements--- stronger than preferences ---well, age might be one. Take that as a given. The others have to do with what's back of the eyes. Literate and literary, ironic, open to new ideas and a bit in love with crossing boundaries. A sense of play. A sense that one should live one's life as if inside a novel or a film. Those things I have to insist on.

And your own preferences, darlings? What do you prefer and require?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Eleven: Voix et Livres

I do have a certain fascination with classic erotica. Books, of course. There's the whole bibliophile attraction of collecting classic erotica--- things from that demi-monde of privately published editions in lavish bindings. Of course, the problem is that you're collecting the idea of a book; the text itself isn't all that important. Which may well be all to the good. The list of erotica, of erotic novels and memoirs, that can actually bear reading (let alone re-reading) is very, very small.

There was a time in my life when young companions asked me to read aloud to them. It's certainly a romantic enough idea, reading aloud to a girl curled up against you on a couch or in bed. I've read things by favourite poets--- Rilke, Cavafy, Wallace Stevens, Eliot, Pound ---aloud to lovers. I've read poetry aloud, but it's hard to imagine reading erotica aloud.

I suppose a more contemporary thing might be to watch DVDs of erotica with a companion, but the same set of problems applies. There are films that one can imagine watching with a young companion, but it's a short list: "The Lover", "Henry and June", certain Zalman King films, the French version of "Story of O" from the early 1970s, possibly "The Dreamers" or the 1997 "Lolita". There aren't too many more. The idea of the shared experience with the films would be to set a mood, to seduce and entice. But so far as I can tell, there are far too few films that actually set a mood, that don't just become trite or repetitive or silly.

Technology has made it actually more difficult to set a mood via music. When I was young, every young gentleman had a stereo system and could discuss the components and specifications. One played vinyl for a visiting young lady. One set the mood with jazz or classical or blues; one defined one's tastes with suitably hip and obscure tracks. Even when vinyl turned to CDs, the idea was the same: the girl curled up on the couch with a wineglass, her gentleman admirer playing music for her. That's not done so much these days. Music is on iPods and laptops; fewer people have stereo systems. I suppose I'll put that as a question: how does one set the mood now? Whatever are the guidelines for playing music as part of a seduction?  Do girls in their late teens or early twenties expect to have admirers play music for them as part of a seduction?

I'll pose this as a question. What counts as music for seductions these days? Does anyone even remember Juliet Greco or Miles Davis? Any girls reading this are invited to comment, too, on what they'd imagine having read to them by a lover. I think I'd be quite interested in that.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten: Prie-Dieu

I saw a photo the other day at Tumblr: a lovely girl, obviously naked, bending from the waist in front of a shadowy male figure. The caption read, "Good Girls bend the knee, Bad Girls bend at the waist". Clever line, though I'll admit that it took me a moment to catch the prie-dieu reference, that "Good Girls bend the knee" was about kneeling to pray. That may reflect on my own experiences with lovely girls who kneel (yes, some of them in schoolgirl uniform) or simply be about how long it's been since I've been in a church.   And males all through the Western world (and Japan) are programmed to think of lovely young girls in plaid-kilted uniforms kneeling for purposes that don't involve prayer--- that's just a given.

A friend--- a social-media maven and a fairly well-known sex blogger in her own right ---sent me an e-mail to say that "Kneeling should not be ignored as an essential component of sex. No position is more submissive, none more idolatrous." I can't disagree with her, though I think some distinctions have to be drawn. She grew up in a Peruvian patrician family, and her own teen experiences did involve both kilted uniforms and Catholic churches. And s/m has clear links to Catholic culture--- thus the author of "Story of O" consciously drew on "Letters of a Portuguese Nun" and on the idea of submission to a higher power, of yielding up the self. ( there an equivalent Zen colouring to s/m in Japan, or am I expecting too much of the idea?) Yet distinctions have to be drawn.

The lovely young girl kneeling to a lover is deliciously submissive, and I've certainly had girls (yes, sometimes in uniform) kneel in front of me. But I've never thought of it as a girl submitting to me. A young companion can kneel and still toss her hair or raise an eyebrow in a way that lets you know that she's submitting to the game, to the experiences that come with the game, and not giving up anything essential. And even in Catholic imagery, submission can be as purely instrumental as it is for sex games. Submitting to the older lover, submitting to God--- they're both instrumental: pleasure and salvation are both supposed to be waiting on the other side of surrender. I've had various girls over the years tell me--- sometimes with a shrug, sometimes breathlessly ---that they were "very submissive". I've always known that was about a role, not about me. Submissiveness was a tool to acquire experiences and, down the line, pleasure for themselves. Which is only fair, after all. I wouldn't think of not going through with my part of the exchange. Kneeling to a lover is never about giving up anything essential. But it is a powerful role and symbol--- a Good Girl proving to herself that she can be Bad.

The second half of the line--- "Bad Girls bend at the waist" ---is always a wonderful thought. A lovely girl bending at the waist and grabbing her ankles in one supple motion while she waits to be taken is something that I do love, an image that makes me catch my breath. So many things are encoded in that: transgression, submission, physical grace, a hint of risk. It's a pose I always hope young companions will strike for me.

The photo at the Tumblr site was lovely--- or at least the girl in it was attractive ---but it did lack the grace and power that a girl bending to grab her ankles should have. Still--- a caption that I did like, and one that brings back memories and offers up a Grail for the future.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Nine: Transmissions

There's always the question of what the more romantic way of communicating with a lover might be. I'm certainly fond of the telephone. Voices late at night, whispers and sighs, the exchange of stories and memories, the ability to flirt and seduce... I do love the telephone for those things. So much of what I am to lovely young companions is based on the things I can say, on the stories I can tell. I love long conversations late at night, and I love a girl's voice out there in the dark. I'm told that telephone conversations are fading from fashion, though. That's a generational thing, I think. There's less and less incentive to go beyond 160 characters on a screen, and I do find that sad. I remember nights on the phone for hours--- though I'm also old enough when "long-distance" was expensive and talking to a lover in another city was a sign of serious interest.

Telephone conversations have always meant a great deal to me, though I suppose in so many ways I miss actual love letters. I miss sitting late at night with a pen and stationery and crafting love letters. I miss the permanence of a love letter. Love letters, if they're done right, end up treasured and saved. They end up bound in ribbon and stored away to be read on bittersweet nights a decade later. Looking over a girl's handwriting from another decade, another city, brings back memories in a way that a phone conversation can't. The old word "quiddity" is involved here. A love letter is concrete, something to touch, a talisman for summoning up memories. And of course any love letter is a manuscript, a story, a set of images and hopes that can spin out for pages. I always like that. I like the idea that a letter is always a kind of novel, something that can be re-read and amended and added to. No one writes letters any longer, and more's the pity. I do miss that--- writing late at night to a lover while music plays in my rooms. I even miss the girls who wanted to exchange letters in character, to create personae and situations for us to write one another about.

I don't really enjoy text messages at all. Too brief, too awkward. And too many people fall into the trap of txt msg speak and abbreviations. I really don't sext at all. Not because it's vulgar, but because it's just awkward. I'm not a skilled typist, and I'd be embarrassed to send sexts that could be criticised for grammar and spelling as much as content. I have to say, too, that none of the ideas and images I'd deploy in a seduction are easily reducible to 160 characters. Sex for me is always about complicated images and baroque encounters: not something one can easily reduce to a text message. A message that reads I want you now should by all rights be followed within moments by one that reads Come over now! or At your door, buzz me in.  The rest of the night would proceed without smartphones at all.

Someone wrote me to say that she thought a text message reading Admiring office intern, imagining her in your stilettos. Be wearing nothing but those when I return home would be a delight to receive. Someone else commented that the message was cliched and trite. Well, I can enjoy the inferred backstory to the text, and I can smile about how it's all very Zalman King a vision. Myself, though, I'd bring the intern home. Stilettos have their place, and I love what they can do for a girl's legs in a short black dress. But the naked-in-spike heels look has never been a major image in my fantasies or in what I ask girls to wear.

I haven't received a sext, or even a deeply romantic text message, in a while. Sexting is just a skill I've never much thought to acquire. It's phone calls and letters that I prefer. But should a young companion ever text me something seductive,  I think a good way to begin might be something like This is a sext from my Past. Seventeen, school uniform, panty-free at Upper East Side cafe--- wish I'd known you then. Kisses from 2005. That I think would be a very good way to begin.

So what indeed would you send me, and what would you hope to receive in return? Any thoughts?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eight: Events

A young companion was discussing the difference between 'porn' and 'erotica' with me. I'd written about that, and she and I were talking about my ideas  on the difference. She told me that while she appreciates some classic erotica-- yes, "Story of O"  ---as literature, in the end she preferred porn. In porn, she said, at least something happened.  Well, I think she was talking more about film or video than about books, since in "O." lots of things happen. But she does have a point. There are films that get categorised as "erotica" that are lovely to look at and filled with beautiful people in elegant settings.  Let's say "The Lover" or Zalman King's version of "Delta of Venus". And, yes, the characters have sex. But there's no clear checklist of events, and the focus isn't on the mechanics of what the characters are doing.  My companion laughed about some of the films in the "erotica" category. Very pretty, yes--- but she wanted, she said, things she could use.

I do understand that. I came of age in an era when porn was in print, not on video or on the web. I'd read accounts in porn novels about what exactly the characters were doing and how exactly they were doing it. When I first saw video erotica and video porn, I already had lists of activities to explore and some idea how the mechanics of those things were done.  What video gave me, or to be precise, what "erotica" on video gave me, was a set of aesthetic and class markers. Places, fashions, locations, styles mattered to me in an aspirational way. A Zalman King film came with lovely soundtrack music and with catwalk-slinky high-fashion girls  in exotic and expensive settings.  The world of the film was more important to me than the sex itself.

My young companion had grown up on Vogue and its overseas progeny. She already knew about fashion and decor long before she ended up in my bed. What she wanted  was a guide to particular positions and activities. She knew what things should look like; she'd grown up in a social setting where fashion was taken for granted. She needed to know how things were done and what kinds of sexual activities were possible.  We both needed lists, just of different things.

I did show my companion some of the feminist criticism of porn that attacked the genre precisely for providing those checklists and for somehow making girls think that porn-sex was "authentic" sex. The critics' argument was that girls watching porn would feel compelled to do things that were somehow wrong in some politcal or therapy-culture way. My young friend was baffled and irritated. She told me that she the reason she was watching porn was quite openly to discover new things to try, and she tapped a finger on my chest and said that it was bloody well partof my job as her older lover to introduce her to new things. Well, yes, that's true. My role is to offer up possibilities. She knew very well even in her  plaid-kilted school-uniform years how to dress and move and pose and choose designers and boutique hotels. She'd grown up being taught those things. What she wanted in her life was events; she wanted to have things happen.  As much as I needed the world where things like Zalman King films are set, she needed to work through checklists of things to do.

We all collect things in our lives, we all aspire to things.  You want to look back and know that you've been certain places, done certain things, played certain roles. It's no more inauthentic to try a certain set of positions because you've seen them in porn than it is to want to go to Japan or Paris because you've read about them in travel memoirs or seen films set there.  Life is about things happening, about experiences that we can have and then turn into stories.  That's worth remembering. Life is about things that happen, and anything that offers how-to advice is valuable.