Betony Vernon, a “forbidden” journey along with the queen of Eros

Sexuality has always represented a taboo in our society; a hidden and unexplored universe, particularly when treated publicly. Nowadays, when dealing with issues related to sex, one is often subjected to forms of censorship. A decidedly bizarre reality if we think that, at the dawn of the 21st century, there are still mental and cultural limits to these topics. It is evident that the lack of communication about it has led to living one’s intimate sphere in a way that is totally wrong and lacking in self-awareness. Therefore, having arrived at this point, I think it’s fair to ask what the origin of this conception is and, above all, in what ways it is possible to change it. To answer these, and many other questions on the subject, we decided to give the floor to the American designer and artist Betony Vernon.

Betony Vernon 2022
Betony Vernon (ph. by Guillaume Thomas)

Recognizable by her thick red hair and an unparalleled charisma, Betony is also an activist, intellectual and researcher in the world of eroticism. She has skillfully combined her greatest passions, jewelry and sexuality, resulting in what she calls “jewelry-tools”; it’s about accessories that can be worn and, at the same time, generate pleasure for themselves or their partners.

On the occasion of the publication of her latest book “Paradise Found: An Erotic Treasury for Sybarites“, and the celebration of her wonderful 30-year career, the queen of Eros tells MANINTOWN about herself in a really interesting and insightful interview. 

Betony Vernon book
The cover of the book Paradise Found: An Erotic Treasury for Sybarites

What do you draw inspiration from to design your jewelry?

The human mind, body, and spirit, especially but not only in relation to the art of loving, are my greatest sources of inspiration… and neverending awe!

“Every society views sex differently”

During your time in Italy, did you notice any difference in the way sexuality was experienced compared to the American way?

While Italians are inevitably shaped by the Roman Catholic church’s points of view when it comes to sex and pleasure, at heart, they are sybarites! Sensual pleasure is an inevitable part of everyday day life in Italy. Sadly, when it comes to sex, the puritanical “American Way” has gradually penetrated Western culture as a whole, and the importance of pleasure in our lives and its positive impact on the individual, the couple and thus society as a whole, is still ignored by the majority, no matter where you may be because pro-pleasure education is still systematically prohibited by the establishment.

The recent overturning of Roe v. Wade in America is a flagrant example of way we must never sit on our laurels when it comes to our sexual freedom and choice. Sex is still used as an element of control, not freedom, in most of the world today. The unfortunate relationship between sex and power is something that took me time and maturity to fully understand. Thanks to my erotic designs, I am granted rare and unfiltered insight into the current state of intimate affairs. Over the past 30 years, my often less than reassuring discoveries served to bolster my determination to stick to my mission to empower sexually mature adults to experience enhanced pleasure. In spite of the difficulties this can present, both on and off line, dismantling the pleasure taboo not only in the West but around the world, remains the height of my ambition.

Betony Vernon jewels
A Betony Vernon jewel

“I felt responsible for debunking age-old myths that have been preventing us from exploring the power and importance of greater sexual satisfaction in our lives”

Do you think there are still taboos related to the use of objects of pleasure? If yes, where do you think they come from?

The taboo related to objects of sexual pleasure, including those devoted to extra genital stimulation persists. The pleasure taboo emerges long ago with Socrates, then Aristotle’s increasing separation of body, mind and spirit. The advent of monotheism reinforced this philosophical division and the idea that the mind is “good” and the body “impure.” In spite of the commercialization of all things sexual today, the diffusion of pro-pleasure information in relation to sexual pleasures that do not revolve around procreation or penetration alone is still censored or simply banned. This is why I wrote my first book, “The
Boudoir Bible: The Uninhibited Sex Guide for Today”.

“We live in a sexually traumatized society”

You began teaching Sexual Well-Being salons in 2002 and you offer one to one, couple and group consultations. What is the most important advice you give people to live their sensuality and sexuality to the fullest?

Dealing with this and any other pleasure inhibiting trauma is essential to restoring our unique sexual personae and taking the reins of pleasure into our own hands. One of the greatest pleasure-inhibiting myths is that learning anything about pleasure enhancement kills the mystery of sex. This misconception must be shattered for it is only with sexual knowledge and understanding that we can stop fumbling around and start experiencing greater realms of pleasure. Confounding sexual ignorance with mystery honestly gets us nowhere on the path to greater pleasure.

“I coined the term “jewel-tool” to describe all of the Paradise Found designs that are discreetly imbued with the possibility to please oneself, or a significant other”

In your latest book Paradise Found: An Erotic Treasury for Sybarites you have grouped all your most iconic works together. What is, if you had to choose, your favorite and most challenging work?

One of my favorite pieces is the Double Sphere Massage ring. I wear them everyday and in pairs, one on each middle finger. I feel naked if I leave home without them. Like most of the objects in the Paradise Found collection, they can be worn discreetly as body ornamentation, but turning the spheres into the palms of the hands will reveal their ultimate potential.

The most challenging objects in the collection are by far those which are designed specifically to adorn, and obviously stimulate, the inside of the body. Posting images of these jewel-tools, much less speaking openly about their use on-line is dangerous in our “cancel culture”. Ongoing censorship is what forced me to accept the challenge to continue making these objects and since 2018, I have very happily returned to my “by appointment only” policy. These objects can be custom ordered during private viewings without putting me and my on-line presence at risk.

Betony Vernon jewelry
Ph. courtesy of Nicola Carignani

“I am also aware of my fortune to have found my path in life from a very early age”

This year you celebrate 30 years of your career, what is the secret of your success?

I love what I do! This is an essential ingredient to my definition of “success.” In spite of increasing censorship, which made promoting most of my work on any social media channel next to impossible by 2015, everyday takes my mission and my creative endeavors another step forward. The ongoing and unpredictable twists and turns are just part of the wild journey and luckily, and I am never bored. But I couldn’t have pathed this path or had the possibility to inspire others to embrace a pro-pleasure point of view if it wasn’t for the  support of my very open minded collectors and journalists like yourself. The diffusion of sexual information is as crucial to our sexual evolution as sexual satisfaction is to our overall health and happiness. So, thank you.

Betony Vernon Numéro
 Veneration Tickler (ph. by Guillaume Thomas)

Opening image: a portrait of Betony Vernon (ph. by Raul Higuera)

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