an interview with BETONY VERNON
photography by ELODIE CHAPUIS
make up EVA RONÇAY

An Interview with Betony Vernon

Written by Eva-Jo Hancock by Carolin Fleischer

Ground breaking designer Betony Vernon explores new paths with her erotic jewelry. A self-described “sexual anthropologist”, she delights in dismantling the pleasure taboos of our time – through design, lectures and writing. Many, including EL James, have come to her salon to listen to her. Her latest book, “The Boudoir Bible – The Uninhibited Sex Guide for Today” has just been launched with signings in LA, New York and London. In the book she aims to liberate our sexual joy and let go our sense of guilt and shame.

Betony divides her time between Paris and Milan. Her Paris apartment, situated in bohemian chic Saint Paul, is calm and serene in shades of dark green and protected from from the city throbbing right next door. Betony serves green tea in the petit salon. Tall, striking and crimson haired, she has the combined movie presence of Julianne Moore and a black panther.

Betony, are we really, still in 2013, inhibited enough to need the gospel of The Boudoir Bible?

I didn’t think it was an issue either. But in 1998 I showed my first erotic jewelry collection in Milan to a client from a noted American luxury department store. The client went:
“That?! No way.” She was offended by the erotic connotations. And I thought “How interesting!” I heard people in the fashion business say to me “Oh my god, what are you doing? We could never sell that in the shop.” I realized they were right. They were saying things like “Oohh, we didn't know that you were that kinky or into S&M”.
I have never really categorized myself like that. If I am a openminded, playful individual, whether it is in the bedroom or not – I never put myself in the category saying I am one of THOSE

Betony Vernon had a steady flow of regulars buying her classical jewelry. When she presented the erotic collection in 1998, she lost them all.

Have we – the market – changed since then? Could for instance 50 Shades of Grey have appeared back then, and has that book helped us to dig deeper or – on the contrary – made the concept of sex exploration more shallow?

Oh, that? That is just romance! There is no danger in it. Unless of course people start to reenact scenes without knowledge. I learned last week that EL James has been taking my salon in London, so she knows my work very well.
I think 5o Shades of Grey has taken a language that used to be underground and thrown it to the supermarket. Nothing wrong with that, it is mass culture but I think … I prefer to read “The story of O” or the great French erotica. I mean, phallocentric vanilla sex gets boring after a while.

Why did you write your book?

Because it was missing! The only thing I can do in this world is actually to help spread more love, more understanding, more sexual wellbeing. My book is a initiator to expand your horizons. It was really early when the concept of sexual wellbeing was pretty foreign, and I thought “I’ve got to take this risk and go for it.”
I didn’t expect the book would cross the Western borders, but we just signed with Taiwan. And soon it will come out in French. Exciting!

How does your jewelry intertwine with your visions?

The use of the jewelry is both esthetic, fun and allows us to provide sensations we couldn’t provide with our hands alone, to stimulate your whole body, head to toes. To take the time and charge the body with sexual energy and uncover a world from within.
I have designed prostate stimulators for both men and women. The Petting ring is another example. It reinforces mental focus, and it designed specifically for male masturbation.
The body is our temple and should be adorned with noble materials. This is a market with a lot of plastics.
I work in gold and silver. Silver has an antibacterial quality, is and both metals are body safe – plastics we are not sure about. I don’t particularly want to put plastics into my vagina. And I suggest if you use flexible plastics, that you dress it with a condom.

If you would get 10 minutes global air on how to make the sex life better, what would you say:

We have to learn how to focus our attention. Our society is so distracted. And a distracted lover is a lousy lover. It is about being ready in that moment to fly out of here … great sex has nothing to do with reality … taking a moment to do what I call erotic meditation. When we are one with our lover. Going places that we can’t go otherwise.
When we are one on one with someone in the sexual union everything else disappears.
You as a woman are multi orgasmic.
A man is also able to ride the orgasmic wave for hours, in the book I teach men how to do it.
You can ride that orgasmic wave. You hit a peak, I did it all day yesterday with my lover. The endorphins can get pumped into the blood stream so that you experience the sexual high. The chemical make up of beta-endorphins is very similar to that of opiates. You get high.
Last night when we walked out of here eventually to have dinner we were high – floating, and connected. J’adore!

One thing I have encountered a lot in my consulting is the fear of intimacy. Hook-ups and fast consumer sex – that white sugar sex – fills you up in that moment but leaves you empty.

Fast sex leaves you with no understanding with where your body can take you, It does not prompt the flow of the bodies natural love drugs like endorphins and oxytocin, that promotes bonding.
And it doesn’t promote female , or male pleasure either for that matter.

If you have to have to choose between quick sex and no sex?

– Oh, I would have quick sex! (Laughs.)
It is a question of prioritizing the time with your lover.
The word “libertine” to me signifies seeking a partner.
When I hear “I am single”, I answer: “then why are you not multiple? There’s no one holding you back.”
Some women say “I can’t make love unless I am in love with him or her.”
But isn’t it through making love that you find love?
It does, it creates a bond. Thats why fast sex with multiple partners with that “I’ll never see you again” – it can be quite emptying and leave a bit of a void – and be quite dangerous.
Thats why I encourage people to take care of themselves.
Make love to yourself, so that you are attractive. Masturbate, keep the sexual energy on the surface!

The time is up, life outside our green velvet cave is calling. Betony says, with the lightness of someone asking for a cigarette: “Could you unzip me?”

If feels like just the thing to do in a salon like this. I help her with the zipper, feeling secretly enlightened and chosen, thus assisting her in getting out of the black pencil dress to go to the bathroom.

A small thing to say. Still a symbol of her strong appearance: Betony Vernon´s combination of integrity and disarming directness – always with a mission to share her knowledge and strong beliefs to make a difference, both aesthetically and for life.

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