hidden rooms and abandoned secrets

I don’t know what it is about abandoned buildings – the older the better – that gets my imagination fired up, but its seems I’m not alone in my fascination. Who doesn’t love those renovation shows where hidden rooms are discovered in historic, long-abandoned houses? I adore George Clarke’s Restoration Man.

abandoned-theatreRecently, while researching the setting for my latest story ‘Pokerface’  I found this glorious old theatre on YouTube.

This one is much larger than the one in my story, which is host to an underground poker game with an unusual prize, but the atmosphere and decor is perfect!

PS See my last post if you’d like to read more about ‘Pokerface’

And if you’re looking for it at one of the many ebook retailers, click on the cover:

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More hirsute times

I’m still watching the Hugh Hefner Story (boy, is it in-depth!) The latest episode, dealing with the ‘Pubic War’ between Playboy and Penthouse magazines during the 1960s and 70s (and Playboy’s first full frontal nude centrefolds) got me thinking…

Seeing all that rampant pubic hair can be a bit confronting in these times of brazillian waxes and careful pubic grooming. How times have changed since that first risque centerfold in relation to pubic hair and our preferences.

Image courtesy of Getty Images, photographer Nicola Tree

As always, I had fun Googling this and found a fabulous article. Apparently there is a hardcover book with every one of the 734 centerfolds, and someone wrote about perusing them all in one sitting!

“The most obvious signifier of the passage of time, and the thing every person has asked about when I’ve mentioned this book, is pubic hair. For the first two decades of centerfolds, there was none at all because it was obscured by strategically placed pillows, undergarments, or even roomy-cut khakis. Bits of hair didn’t start peeking out until around 1972, but by the mid-’70s, bushy vulvas were showing up in almost every photo. A decade later, hairstylists started to groom the puffs, though it wasn’t until the mid-’90s that what’s now known as a “landing strip” hit the runway. The relative newness of the thing about 84 percent of women now do to their genitals was a life-affirming revelation for this millennial, who suffered puberty in the aughts, or as Maureen Gibbon’s essay in The Complete Centerfolds dubs it, “the decade of the smoothie.” After enduring the entirely bare, child-like crotches of the 2010s, flip back to July 1977, where one magnificent image of pubic hair straight-up poking out of a butt crack will restore your internal calm.

“But for all the differences that emerge while flipping through generations of nudies, the similarities stand out far more. After looking at 734 photos of naked women, one can’t help but conclude that the human body has some very strict limitations and the human mind lacks any substantial creativity when it comes to sexy poses. There are only so many ways to slightly part a set of lips, only so many ways to mimic the act of putting clothes on or taking them off, getting in or out of a body of water, and stepping onto or off of a surface that looks reasonably prepared to support sexual intercourse.”

I particularly loved this comment, which reflects the theme of most of my short stories:

“The effect is a creeping feeling that any place can be a sexual place, and any activity a woman does—even those performed in the course of her job—can be a sexual activity. Playing golf, taking your order at a diner, exercising on a Stairmaster, applying a lure to a fishing rod, cuddling with a kitten, delivering the nightly news at a TV station—if you look hard enough, with a few years of Playboy centerfolds filed away in your brain, these everyday pursuits are actually a kind of foreplay. That cyclist lady is naked underneath her flannel, you know.”

What I Learned By Looking at 734 Playboy Centerfolds in One Sitting
Christina Cauterucci

Those sensual Parisians!

The French are known for their enjoyment of all things sensual – food, wine, art, sex… and its not only a recent phenomena. Some of the most daring, expressive and indulgent creations originated in historical France. Poets, writers, artists, chefs… and magazine publishers.

Chéri Hérouard

I love browsing through the titillating old covers of La Vie parisienne (the Parisian Life) magazine. Founded in 1863, it was published without interruption until 1970. When the magazine changed hands in 1905, the new editor Charles Saglio changed its format to suit the modern reader, transforming it from a general arts magazine into a mildly risqué erotic publication.

I imagine one of the main attractions for readers were the covers and full page color illustrations by popular Art Nouveau and Art Deco illustrators of the time such as George Barbier, Chéri Herouard, Georges Léonnec and Maurice Milliere.

If you like a your art a little bit naughty, you can immerse yourself in one of the largest collections of La Vie parisienne magazine artwork in the UK at The Advertising Archives

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l’amour de moi…

spending time with a gorgeous nude…

I had the privilege this weekend to view some beautiful paintings, including a striking and sensual work in pastel, by artist Kate Smith. The local gallery I visited is a feast for the senses, with a lush garden outside and eclectic décor inside, but this one piece captured my imagination.

My attention was initial drawn by the jewelry, makeup and hairstyle, so richly evocative of the Jazz Age (my favorite historically period) but it was captured by the sensuality of her expression and pose.

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“Master pastellist Kate Smith has for years been famed for her depiction of fascinating women. In this captivating piece, Kate conveys the sensuality of womanhood … The soft pastel medium is skilfully blended so that the rich chocolate tones in the background meld into the soft mauves and purples of the drapes that gently flow over and caress the model’s body. The provocative placement of a long strand of pearls over the woman’s breast enhances her sensuality…” Tiffany Jones, fine Art Consultant.

Continue reading

Getting hot in the library … ‘Atonement’

I absolutely adored the book when I first read it many years ago, especially Ian McEwan’s descriptions of the ripeness of Robbie and Cecilia’s sensual awakening.

After knowing each other all their lives, on a sweltering day of growing agitation, Robbie concedes to the force of their unacknowledged attraction by ‘accidentally’ sending the wrong note of apology to Cecilia prior to a formal family dinner.

robbie's letter

“The anticipation and dread he felt at seeing her was also a kind of sensual pleasure, and surrounding it, like an embrace, was a general elation – it might hurt, it was horribly inconvenient, no good might come of it, but he had found out for himself what it was to be in love, and it thrilled him.”

Cecilia is shocked by his note but his words make her realise that the friction growing between them is sexual and the cause of her frustration, resulting in ‘that’ scene in the library.

“Daringly, they touched the tips of their tongues, and it was then she made the falling sighing sound which, he realised later, marked a transformation. Until that moment, there was still something ludicrous about having a familiar face so close to one’s own. They felt watched by their bemused childhood selves.” Continue reading

The black pearl … Joséphine Baker

For as long as I can remember I have harboured a fascination for the legendary Joséphine Baker (the titillating image her nickname ‘the Black Pearl’ brings to mind may have contributed a tiny bit. She is well known for her erotic dancing, after all.)

I’ve only recently become aware of the many reasons she earned her status as a legend of the 20th century, though. For a poor, fairly uneducated girl, it is extraordinary all that she achieved in her lifetime.

Josephine Baker 1927

Continue reading

A Perfect Match: Mary Oliver and Brooke Shaden

I adore beautiful images and sensuous words and in my search to feed my addiction, I came across the evocative fine art photographic images by Brooke Shaden. Her creations are the embodiment of the atmosphere the poet Mary Oliver’s words paint in my imagination. I’d like to share some of my favourite pairings.

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“I want to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.”

Mary Oliver

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“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

Mary Oliver Continue reading

Sexy snippet – gorgeously erotic writing by Elsa Holland

I just have to tell you about one of the most beautifully written, erotic books I’ve had the pleasure to read (and I’ve read A LOT of books). I love to immerse myself in sensual writing AND I love historical fiction so I was thrilled to come across ‘The Veiled Heart’ by Elsa Holland.

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Set in Victorian London, Miriam is happily widowed after being damaged by marriage to a sadistic ‘gentleman’ and the failure of her peers to recognise or acknowledge his abuse. Miriam is no delicate, shrinking flower though, and is determined to use her freedom as a widow and her privileged position in society to help improve the lot of women on the street.

While purchasing sheaths in a plan to educate London’s prostitutes about sexual health, Miriam’s alter ego, Lily, crosses the path of a man who awakens her dormant sexual urges and challenges her vow to remain independent. Sparks fly as she gives in to her lust for Max – who she believes is a mechanic and safely below her station – while she struggles against becoming the possession of any man, even one who melts her with his passion.

And here’s the sexy snippet, as promised (making love in a carriage sounds like fun)… Continue reading

Beautiful sex, beautiful life

I’ve been bursting to write to share my recent tantra experience, but I wanted to let my life settle back fully into it’s regular routine so I could judge how much of an impact it has actually made on me.

After four weeks I can tell you that learning a little about tantra has truly influenced my life for the better. I realise the weekend workshop I attended recently only glanced the surface of what tantra is and how it can become an intrinsic part of your life. I had just a small taste, but what a sweet taste it was.

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With my limited experience, this is my understanding of tantra…

The underlying belief centres on the conservation of sexual energy in order to prolong youthful vitality. This is achieved by retaining the essence that is usually lost during ejaculation for men and menstruation for women. I think you would need a deep understanding and commitment to the practice of tantra to follow the path of virtually ceasing ejaculation/menstruation, but there is so much to be learnt from tantra without following that particular path.

To me tantra represents a shared and mutual awareness and respect of your own and your partners pleasure and needs – in relation to sex and in life.

The most significant insight for me was to realise that the difference between average sex and good sex is mindfulness. Often in long term relationships making love is rushed or has become an afterthought – a means for sexual satisfaction and release. It can become a shallow experience. By giving sex priority at the time you and your partner are truly together and at your most vulnerable (turn the TV off/don’t think about what you need to do when you’re finished or how busy your schedule is tomorrow) and focusing on what gives pleasure in that moment without thinking of the end game, orgasm, sex can become a communion between two people, a kind of meditation. Making love is not another task to be achieved in your day, it is a sensual experience, a joy to be savoured.

This awareness and generosity also spills over into other aspects of a couple’s relationship and into your relationship with yourself.

And couldn’t the same principle of being present and mindful during love-making be applied to life? Experiences had while on auto-pilot are not rich in sensual detail. Without the memories of smell, sound and touch (ie. atmospheric conditions of wind and temperature) an experience becomes forgettable, disposable. They do not enrich your life and make it memorable.

The taste I have had of tantra has awakened for me a deeper sensuality and respect for life. But what I really took away was how important it is to be present and live in the moment – whether you are making love, eating a meal or taking a walk on the beach.

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This mindfulness is the focus of Margot Anand’s The Art of Everyday Ecstacy. the idea of living a full, rich and pleasurable life. I would recommend anyone who yearns for inner tranquillity and purpose read it.

Her writing opened up for me a whole new attitude towards the true pleasure. Continue reading

Bonjour mes amis

Welcome to my dedication to all things sensual. I am a lover of beauty in all its forms and seek to capture the essence of what I admire in my writing and art: drawing, painting, photography.

This blog was inspired by a recent trip to Paris where my every sense was delighted, from the aroma of freshly baked delicacies to the unique architecture. I am now an admirer of the innate sensuality of the French and their passion for all forms of beauty: art, fashion, the human form, literature, conversation, food, wine, nature.

I hope to use this space to share my discoveries… be they images, words or both.

Josie

One Hot Day at the Palais Royale
One Hot Day in the courtyard of the Palais Royale