Audacious, challenging, talented. She is Betony Vernon, an American designer who lives in Paris, sexual anthropologist, writer and teacher of sexual well-being. Her creations have been showed in many international exhibitions, from London to Paris and also in Milan. With her jewelry collection “Paradise Found – Fine Erotic Jewelry”, her mission is that of removing the society’s taboos about sex and spreading a freer and more conscious image of sexuality, linked to the self-acceptance and to the well-being. MANINTOWN interviewed her to satisfy some curiosities.
You define yourself a “sexual anthropologist”. Why did you choose to study human sexuality?
Like pretty much everyone else I have always been fascinated with sexuality, and this fascination was never inhibited. I consider it one of the upshots of not having much parental guidance when growing up. When I started to design the Paradise Found Fine Erotic Jewelry collection I was actually quite naïve in thinking that everyone viewed the sexual experience as I did. I just wanted to have fun, explore and enjoy myself. I started to design my Sado-Chic collection 25 years ago as a response to the market at the time. It led me to understand that our sexuality affects every aspect of our lives. Over the years, I also became aware of how our sexuality is shaped by religion, politics and the establishment in general. The study of human sexuality informs all of my work and it inevitably led me to deal with relationships and the disappointment of sex as much as the pleasures of sex. Ultimately I strive to dismantle the pleasure taboo. It’s impossible to hurdle sexual limits if we are not aware of how these limits were imposed upon us, and thus my fascination with sexual anthropology. I am constantly asking myself how our sexuality has been shaped over the centuries. This is essential to understanding, reshaping and redefining our sexual identity today.
According to you, how can a harmonious intimate relationship be reached?
Positive intimate relationships are hinged on the openness and willingness of partners to explore and experience the sexual realm together. Being open to experimenting new sensations and situations is crucial to an enduring intimate relationship. In fact, like any other relationship, intimate relationships need to be kindled and nourished. Newness is crucial to sexual excitement and this requires that we have the knowledge, understanding and a sense of adventure to constantly renew our relationships. I also believe that learning to treat the entire body as a sexual whole is fundamental to enhanced sexual satisfaction. It requires that we learn to use the tools and techniques of full body stimulation. This is the heartbeat of my book The Boudoir Bible – The Uninhibited Sex Guide for Today (Rizzoli.)
What is the link between design and sensuality?
As a designer I believe that it is my duty to make every day experiences more exciting and sensual. No matter what I am designing I aim to engage the senses and whenever possible reinvent the sensorial experience. My designs stroke the senses. For me design and sensuality are interdependent.
Which is the main function of your erotic jewelry line?
The function of my erotic designs is to enhance the sexual experience. My aim as a designer is also to dissolve the age-old idea that sex is something cheap or dirty. I want to elevate our sexuality as something sacred. I create a durable and body safe response to a market where these values are rarely taken into consideration. I invite my collectors to reevaluate sexual aesthetics. I aim through my erotic jewelry and jewel tools to bring full body stimulation, which was and still is considered by many to be “deviant” or “perverted”, into the realm of the acceptable and perfectly healthy sexual behavior.
Which is the most representative piece of your collection?
Well, I think it would be The Boudoir Box. The Boudoir Box is an object that I kept secret for 18 years, and today it’s part of the Medusa exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. Exhibiting this piece was a difficult decision to make but I came to terms with the fact that it was time for me to stand in the light. I used the Boudoir Box to travel with my work for private appointments with collectors before there were any suited retail venues. I must say that retailers were unnerved by my work at the turn of the century. The Boudoir Box can hold from 21 – 70 pieces from my erotic collection and it includes one of the objects that I believe best represents the entire collection. It is called The Petting Ring. Its shape “forces us” to make the Chi-Mudra gesture, which we normally associate with yoga, meditation and a one-pointed focused mind. A good lover is also in the moment and focused on the pleasures of the senses alone! The Petting Ring is dedicated to the gentlemen and it brings a whole new dimension to male masturbation.
Can jewelry make women more confident?
Absolutely, I witness it all the time, for example when I put a Lovelock Collier around a woman’s neck. She immediately straightens up and smiles because she feels beautiful and sexy and thus empowered. The same goes for men. Empowering people is a huge element of what I do.
Your tricks to seduce a man?
Dress to undress… it makes you feel sexy! But most importantly love yourself, take care of yourself, seduce yourself, and you will inevitably seduce others.
What do you think attracts men to women?
It’s all about chemistry at the end of the day, I know this doesn’t sound very romantic but we all know that when there is no chemistry, there is no desire. One of the questions I am most often asked by people is how to keep desire alive. Desire stays alive when we keep the child spirit within us alive, because the child in each and every one of us is playful, it wants to learn, it wants to explore and discover, it wants to love and it does not question whether or not that love is merited. The child spirit also wants to enjoy life, and this is very attractive.
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