“I would rather someone make love to my mind than my body.”
Those are the words of Isadora Van Camp, my friend and co-creator of Melbourne’s longest standing swingers parties. Her reference has stayed with me for over a decade and become a mantra for my writing, teaching and art as a musician and burlesque performer.
This is what makes provocative art so alluring, and its impact so long-lasting: the hint of sex, rather than the flagrant display of it. When you see erotica in this way, you realize that it is everywhere, including in some surprising places.
Erotica in The Bible
The Song of Songs, better known as the song of Solomon, is a unique book that doesn’t share prophecy or teachings. Instead, it’s a lavish poetic dialogue between two lovers.
In my early years raised in a Christian Brethren sect, I would spend every Sunday at Church, in worship and meetings. No other book was allowed except the Bible. So I scoured it, cover to cover, and let my mind run wild with the seductive discourse I found in the Song of Songs 7:
How beautiful your sandaled feet, O prince’s daughter! Your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of an artist’s hands. Your navel is a rounded goblet that never lacks blended wine. Your waist is a mound of wheat encircled by lilies. Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle…. Your stature is like that of the palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit. I said, “I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit.”
And on it goes, until the female lover ends with, “Let us go early to the vineyards to see if the vines have budded, if their blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates are in bloom— there I will give you my love.”
Good heavens! That is some pretty erotic language – in the Old Testament, no less!
Erotica in Fabric Shops
We all know the power of wearing or touching a beautiful fabric. As CR Fashion says, fabric is also a glorious tool for erotic inspiration. The magazine dedicated an entire blog post to the sexiest fabrics to wear for Valentine’s Day.
Their top picks: lace, velvet, chain mail, leather and latex. These materials give both the wearer and the viewer a sexy boost!
I love strolling through fabric shops and letting my hand idle across the rolls until the sensation of one more than another calls me to pull it out and give it a closer inspection. I run my hands over the material and imagine how it would feel as a garment or bed sheet. Could it be used as a home decor item, or for a costume?
All of this comes to life in burlesque with the feather fan dance, a signature performance of the art. The fan dance features a huge stage fan built out of feathers.
Also used frequently in private seduction, feathers possess a movement and texture that add to their allure on stage.
Erotica Through Scents
A variety of essential oils are known to provoke arousal. Lavender, sandalwood, ginseng and yiang yiang are among those most noted by Healthline for their stimulating properties.
When it comes to perfumes, It’s more than just the fragrance that attracts me to them as aphrodisiacs.
The powerful words and imagery that perfume counters use to sell their products are inspirations that I drink in for hours. In fact, I instruct my burlesque students to browse perfume counters themselves for ideas to incorporate in their stage acts, or even for stage name inspiration.
The marketers in the perfume world are some of the best in the business; they understand that scent is a powerful attractor, and that their efforts need to do more than inspire the senses. Some brands I find especially provocative include Yves Saint Laurent’s Black Opium; Dior’s J’adore; Lancome’s Hypnose; and Paco Rabanne’s Lady Million.
Turns out I’m on to something, according to a 2021 study by Charles Spence. “Numerous peer-reviewed studies have documented that a variety of olfactory stimuli, from ambient malodours through to fine fragrances, and even a range of chemosensory body odours, can influence everything from a perceiver’s judgments of another person’s attractiveness, age, affect, health/disease status, and even elements of their personality.”
Erotica Through Sensory Deprivation
Have you ever eaten while wearing a blindfold?
Sensory deprivation, including while doing something everyday like eating, is another simple route to erotic inspiration. Removing one of the sense preceptors – for example, removing your sight by wearing a blindfold – enhances all the other senses.
In the case of eating with a blindfold, the sense of taste, touch and hearing are activated significantly. I learned this first-hand when I was invited to attend London’s restaurant, Dans Le Noir, where all patrons eat completely in the dark.
“Enjoying dinner or lunch in pitch darkness is an original experience,” explains Dans Noir on its website,”that allows us to re-evaluate our perception of taste by reawakening senses overwhelmed by the omnipresence of sight, to reinvigorate our relationship with the world and others and to experience a surprising encounter with something different.”
My gastronomic experience at Dans Le Noir was a revelation. I underwent so many waves of emotion. The first were anxiety and panic, as I settled into my surroundings with no vision to aid me.
But I soon felt elation and ecstasy, as the food arrived and my taste buds went into overdrive. Both flavors and smells were bolstered a hundredfold to compensate for not having my eyesight. It was exhilarating!
You don’t need to travel to London to replicate this experience. You can do it in your own home with your flatmate or lover.
As a dancer, I am innately tactile. Removing the sense of sight – to enhance what I feel with my hands, or what I smell – sends my creativity int overdrive. I end up with new ideas for lyrics, performance pieces and even ideas for this column. You might find the same inspirational triggers with some of the things I’ve suggested.
Join me in April for our next foray into the sensual world of Sapphira.