During one of my trips to Halifax, Nova Scotia (one of my favorite places on the planet), I savored a late breakfast in one of those quintessential used book stores with tasty scones and perfectly brewed tea. The store was literally stuffed with books, some dating back to the early 20th Century.
As I perused one of the stacks, a title screamed at me from its humble placement: The Sensuous Woman
Written by “J” in 1969, the back cover had the following review from Playboy:
The author of this book is not especially pretty.
Before “J” became “The Sensuous Woman” she went through life unnoticed.
It’s very different now. “J” is called “ravishingly sexy” by some of the world’s most exciting males. They describe her as “all woman, maddeningly exciting, a modern Aphrodite, a perfect bed-made and life-mate.”
Now “J” reveals her secret, step-by-step program that allows every woman to free her body, train her senses, and realize her tremendous feminine capacity for giving and receiving pleasure.
“J” is unmistakably female; no man could possibly be so exquisitely knowing about how a woman can make the most of what she’s got.
Have you ever wondered what it was like to stumble upon a parallel universe? That moment was something like it, I think.
After perusing the book’s contents, which expounded on the delights of masturbation, training the senses, sexual exploration and the like, I tried to imagine how this must have gone over in the late 60s. It was a #1 bestseller, so clearly women were aching for some kind of knowledge to break the monotony of sex-for-procreation and craft a more pleasurable life for themselves. The fact that “J” took on such a daring topic gave me a thrill I rarely experience. Oh yes, this book was coming home with me.
As a product of the late 70s, it is a bit foreign to imagine what it would be like to consider marriage solely for procreation and sex as a necessary chore. Happily, Garrity focuses on the importance of bringing pleasure to the self, and why it’s important for a woman to feel that on the inside in order to reflect it on the outside. The back cover copy may seem to be an effort at sensationalism, but its words are truthful: When you radiate sensuality, those extra 5 lbs. really don’t make a difference. If they do, that partner isn’t going to be very good in bed anyway, as the focus is not on the pleasure, but on the formula. Yawn.
It’s as if “J” is inside my head, explaining how we must awaken our senses to ignite higher levels of bodily pleasure. She gets it. She got it. I love her.
Incidentally, “J” now appears comfortable going by her full name, Joan Garrity, which appears in the updated version from 1982. I need to get my hands on that copy, too, so I can compare notes.
You might be wondering if I’m going to make any food references in this post. Why yes, in fact, I am. The Sensuous Woman has a section on awakening the senses, and it’s serendipitous that I read it last night, as her process is very close to what I envisioned when designing my new workshop Awakening the Mental Mouth™. In fact, Chef Mark and I are crafting a two-parter out of the idea: In the first workshop, I will take you through a series of exercises and explorations to awaken your palate, hone your senses and help you learn more about your taste preferences. In the second workshop, Cooking with the Senses, he will show you how to take those flavors and create customized goodies for yourself, from marinades to spice rubs and sauces.
So while my exercises are focused on the sensuality of food, and Garrity’s on the sexuality of the body, they both have the same root: In order to experience the highest levels of pleasure, we must first awaken the pleasure receptors. By focusing on — and exploring — the self.
Want to come and play?