Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vaginal health

Premarin vaginal estrogen cream

Vaginal Health: Thanksgiving weekend I had nine men as guests along with the women they were escorting, they were: Chris, Robin, Jeff, Pirate, Peter, Colin, Clark, Adolph and Jon. The tenth is Jacques, Gigi’s father, and my main squeeze and live-in lover. With the exception of Colin, who Fiona (Cyndi’s Mom) tried to put off limits (except to me) the other men; including Jacques were shared for the weekend so every woman got to bed every man at least twice. Well, that was the plan. Since most of the women, other than me, have GyneFix IUDs implanted pregnancy wasn’t really a concern. I could sense Fiona was afraid I would take Colin away from her, or be so much better in bed that he would begin comparing her to what he got from me. I don’t think so. Jacques is an excellent judge of a woman’s sexual abilities and had bedded Fiona before. He says “she is a very good lay, tight, deep, wet and very exciting with a marvelous scent” were his exact words. Colin is fun and a good lover with a better than average package and technique, but as a Brit he is a bit too reserved for me and I’m not in the mood to collect British SAS officers right now either. So Fiona is quite safe in that regard (aside from my using him temporarily to fill me with sperm) but she was still edgy when he was around me.

I understand her not wanting to share Colin, but it was only for the holiday and it wasn’t like she had taken a vow of chastity herself. We were all draining semen the entire weekend and this morning as well. Even with SET – semen emitting technique – using Kegels and tissues to squeeze most of the semen out - we still drained into our thongs. I left packs of party thongs for the girls in each of their rooms and in the bathrooms in the formal area so they could change as necessary and toss the old ones.

Everyone had a recent full STI panel so there was no concern there, but by taking that many different men bareback - which is how we all wanted them - in such a short interval there is always a chance of unbalancing the vaginal flora and ending up with a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis. Neither of those are STIs (like Chlamydia, Herpes or gonorrhea are) but still they are uncomfortable and can be frustrating to treat. So I took Jeff up on an offer he had made several months ago to add an experimental biocide to Dive-Gel. He wanted us to trial it and he’s calling it DiveGel+.

DiveGel+: The biocide has been in clinical trial as Gel-33 in Thai brothels. They were hoping for a reduction in the transmission of the HIV virus, but that hasn’t materialized. What the results did show is the cases of YIs and BV dropped to nearly zero. So Jeff added 4% of the experimental biocide to Dive-Gel as the application medium and packaged it in a case of 48 100 ml tubes and is calling it DiveGel+. We all used DG+ as a lube for the long weekend and it will be interesting to see if anyone comes down with a YI or BV.

As part of getting Jeff to provide us the DG+ I agreed to have our clinic enroll the female escort trainees, my circle of friends, my ballet company and the ballet classes and swim teams at St Lucy’s as participants in the clinical trial so he can get some data closer to home. That way he is also covered in providing an experimental drug to a limited number of local women. The clinic had already been talking about wanting to participate in a clinical trial of a biocide so I didn’t have any problem getting them to agree to sign on with Jeff’s DiveGel+ formulation as they were already using and recommending Dive-Gel to their professional patients.

Premarin and well hung men: Shortly after Fiona arrived last Tuesday, while I was telling her about the men we would be sampling over the holiday weekend she confided that her vaginal tissues weren’t as stretchy as they once were. At 44 she’s not that much older than I am and she uses her well preserved body in her work, just not as blatantly as I do, so I thought she would have had any vaginal atrophy already being treated, but she said that the congressmen, senators and lobbyists she works with weren’t super-sized as far as their packages were concerned so she had been putting it off. She only realized she had a problem because her largest dildo that she had been fond of using was becoming painful to insert, not from lack of her natural lube but because her tissues weren’t as stretchy as they were a few years ago.

At 39 I knew exactly what she meant and when I found myself getting that way two years ago I started a regimen of the topical estrogen Premarin, a finger full to coat the external vaginal tissues around the introitus that are subject to tearing with penetration by a very large diameter man or one who corkscrews as he buries his shaft which can sometimes catch a fold of labial tissue if I’m not fully aroused when he enters me. I use the .025 mg/gram strength which is the lowest dose and is enough to make me super stretchy w/o noticeable estrogenic side effects. I had Chuck our male Gyn write her an Rx and give her a tube of .025 mg Premarin and told her she might want to hold off taking Peter, Clark and Jon until Saturday as they were spectacularly hung as far as diameter (the critical dimension) is concerned to give the estrogen cream at least three days to work it’s magic. I’m pleased to say she was able to easily handle Jon the largest and the one with the most corkscrew thrust. She confided afterward that after using the Premarin for three days she felt as though she was twenty-five again.

Cyndi and Peter: Cyndi especially enjoyed taking Peter (as a change from Chris) so the weekend was special for her in that way. I think it’s not only because his package is so large and he uses it so well, but because Peter has impregnated so many women who thought they were quite safe using an effective method of birth control only to find a few days after sleeping with Peter that they tested positive for hCG. He seems to be especially good about fertilizing the eggs of girls on hormones who have either forgotten to take a pill, change a patch or insert a new ring. Taking meds that reduce the levels of hormones in the bloodstream leading to breakthrough ovulation is another way Peter’s pregnancies (as they are called) occur. He has a really high sperm count so every time he plants his seed in a woman’s belly she has to wonder, regardless of how good her contraceptive protection is. Actually Peter is in demand by women for that very reason; his groupies love the unknown waiting breathlessly for the results of their pregnancy tests after having an encounter with him to find out if they need to take Mifeprex.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Apollo’s Angels

Apollo and his Angels in January 1969

The New York Times
November 26, 2010

Taking Flight

A History of Ballet
By Jennifer Homans
Illustrated. 643 pp. Random House. $35

It has never been done, what Jennifer Homans has done in “Apollo’s Angels.” She has written the only truly definitive history of the most impossibly fantastic art form, ballet, this most refined, most exquisite art of “aristocratic etiquette,” this “science of behavior toward others,” as a 17th-century ballet master put it, in which lovely young women perch upon their 10 little toe tips (actually, it is really just the two big toes that alternately support the entire body’s weight: think about it) and waft about where the air is thinner — but heaven is closer. She has taken this world where wilis, virgins, sylphs, sleeping princesses, the “women in white” embody the eternal — the eternally unattainable — and set it into the fabric of world history, and we see, miraculously, their pale tulle and satin pointes peeking out from the crevices of war, of revolutions, of political machinations, and on the stages of the monarchies and empires of the kings and czars who gave birth to this improbable art.

Homans’s accomplishment is akin to setting the most delicate and beautiful of all the imperial Fabergé eggs into a fissure high on Mount Rushmore and tracking its unlikely survival. And the question of ballet’s survival lies at the core of Homans’s moving story. “Ballets,” Théophile Gautier wrote, “are the dreams of poets taken seriously.”

The tale of the tutu is indeed the story of a bunch of crazy dreamers, dancers, warriors of anatomy who have worked ludicrously hard to formulate, shape and perfect the highest form of the human physique, and the result is a glorious paradox: the manifestation of morality in muscle, truly Whitman’s body electric. What a noble and superb cause! What folly in the face of guaranteed evanescence!

Ballet is the body divined, and it is not by chance that all the work started at the royal court in France in the mid-16th century. Homans begins with what has long been considered the first ballet, “Ballet Comique de la Reine,” which had its premiere in 1581. It was an extravagant six-hour affair, performed among the guests — elevated stages did not yet exist — in a large gallery at the Petit-Bourbon, and told an allegory of “the enchantress Circe vanquished by the powerful gods Minerva and Jupiter,” ending with Circe presenting her magic wand to the king himself before a ballet of naiads, dryads, princesses and a queen. The purpose of the ballet was nothing short of elevating man, “to raise him up a rung on the Great Chain of Being and bring him closer to the angels and God.” So the bar was set for this new art — and it couldn’t have been higher; ballet is about Highness — and the angels of Homans’s title take their first flight. Ballet became so revered in France that by 1636 the Abbé Mersenne, a contemporary of Descartes and Pascal, referred to “the author of the Universe” as “the great Ballet-master.”

Thus ballet was born as the dance of kings. Louis XIII designed costumes, wrote librettos and danced leading roles, being particularly fond of portraying the Sun and Apollo, god of music and poetry. His son, Louis XIV, made his debut in 1651 at 13 and studied with his ballet teacher, Pierre Beauchamps, daily, for more than 20 years. The dancing master in Molière’s “Bourgeois Gentilhomme” declares that “all the misfortunes of mankind, all the disasters of which history is full, the bungling of politicians and the mistakes of great generals, all come through not learning to dance.” Where, I ask you, is Obama’s Beauchamps?

It was Beauchamps who first codified the five positions of the body, providing “the crucial leap from etiquette to art,” and they remain to this day the beautiful base of outwardly rotated feet and legs from which classical ballet rises and expands centrifugally. Homans documents this passionate path with impressive grace — she was herself a professional ballet dancer and is now the dance critic for The New Republic — across Europe from its birth in France, with stopovers in Italy, Denmark, Germany and Austria, landing in Russia in the mid-19th century and then returning to Western Europe in the early years of the 20th century, and finally, here, to America, where it reached its apogee in the last half of the century.

The stops along the way often provide great charm. It was the enchanting French ballerina Marie Sallé in the mid-18th century who introduced the novel idea, with her revealing drapery and sensual movement (she was much admired by Voltaire and Montesquieu), that women, including ones of humble origins, might dance, not just men and kings. The history of ballet is also a story of class; ballet is a language of vertical ascent, physicalized nobility. “Ballerinas,” Homans writes, “acted like aristocrats even when in real life they most emphatically were not.” But mix they did, and more than one young dancer rose — or descended — to positions other than an arabesque in the famous corridors of the Paris Opera, “the nation’s harem,” as one police official termed it, where wealthy men trolled for pretty girls with limber limbs.

It was the magnificent French dancer Auguste Vestris, a favorite of Marie Antoinette’s, who “pried the feet open” to 180 degrees (Louis XIV had maintained a dignified 90), and they have remained there ever since. He also insisted on fully pointed feet, and thus soft, flat ballet shoes with ribbons wrapped around the ankles were born. A teacher of mammoth energy and passion, he gave lessons lasting three hours that would include “48 pliés followed by 128 grand battements, 96 petits battements glissé, 128 ronds de jambes sur terre and 128 en l’air.” Any dancers reading this are now rolling their eyes in empathic agony, but ballet, like prayer, is ritual repetition: the more you do, the closer you get to perfection, to God. (Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hours-to-genius rule is a mere drop in the rosin box for a ballet dancer.) Vestris also forbade any “provincial insecure shuffling of the feet.”

The French ballet master Charles-Louis Didelot, in “Psyché et l’Amour” (1809), kept “provincial” shuffling to a minimum, and his most famous ballet literally took flight not with angels but with 50 live white doves “outfitted in minicorsets and attached to wires,” carrying the chariot of Venus to the heavens. What delightful imaginings are those of dancers, ever searching to soar — though one does worry about those corseted doves.

Marie Taglioni, the first ballerina still generally recognized, was born in Stockholm in 1804 into a dynasty of Italian dancers, and her rise to immortal fame is fascinating not least because she was one ugly duckling. According to Homans, she was “poorly proportioned, with a bent posture and skinny legs,” though she came to symbolize not only exquisite feminine beauty but the best kind, the kind you can’t have. How this determined young woman overcame these apparently extreme deficiencies and danced her way into history is a mesmerizing tale of body and soul outwitting gravity and that somewhat more horizontal pull: the male gaze.

She made her debut as ballet’s iconic sylph in “La Sylphide” in 1832, a supernatural creature who was “strong but frail, sexually alluring but chaste, in love but fiercely independent.” Inspired by Taglioni, Chateaubriand called the sylphide a “masterpiece” of a woman and was driven, Homans says, into “frenzied states of uncontrolled imagination and desire.” Not bad for a “famously ugly” woman.

Taglioni’s success reached far beyond the stage, and she became “a force of anarchy and dissolution,” Homans writes, “a woman’s dancer” (in Gautier’s words). “Decent” women “had to settle for a subdued and controlled life, but underneath they were desperate to ‘abandon their soft and calm existence’ for ‘storms of passion’ and ‘dangerous emotions.’ Taglioni lived what they could only dream: a . . . fully expressed life.” And you wonder why little girls want to dance? They intuit that inside a corseted tutu lies untold freedom.

August Bournonville, an almost exact contemporary of Taglioni and a friend of Kierkegaard, was born in Denmark, but he traveled throughout Europe, studied with Vestris in Paris and even fought a duel to defend his teacher’s honor. He came home from his sojourn to direct the Royal Danish Ballet for 47 years, creating some 50 ballets, though only a handful remain. In his emphasis on precise, unsentimental footwork, free of passion and angst, he added to the lexicon of ballet as few others have.

“Excelsior,” the most successful Italian ballet in history (that you have probably never heard of), claims its place in Homans’s narrative for less than artistic reasons: it has yet to be surpassed in sheer spectacular display and bad taste. Choreographed by Luigi Manzotti in 1881, it offered a cast of “more than 500, including 12 horses, 2 cows and an elephant.” The lead roles were Light, Darkness and Civilization (the ballerina), and they were joined by Invention, Harmony, Fame, Strength, Glory, Industry and Science. This extravaganza ended with Light banishing Darkness and communing in a “warm embrace” with Civilization.

“Excelsior” had 100 performances in Milan at La Scala, and then in virtually every other city across Italy before it zoomed around the world: South America, the United States, Berlin, Madrid, Paris, Vienna and St. Petersburg. By 1931, the ballet had incorporated the “progress” of Fascism.

But as Homans points out so lucidly, while “Excelsior” was, well, ridiculous, it had an amazing side effect: it produced hundreds of performers who traveled abroad staging, dancing and teaching, spreading the seeds of ballet like dandelion florets. Among them were the illustrious Italian teacher Enrico Cecchetti, who staged Manzotti’s ballet in St. Petersburg, and Carlotta Brianza and Pierina Legnani, who became the first Princess Aurora and Odette/Odile, respectively, for the great Russian ballets of Marius Petipa, “The Sleeping Beauty” and “Swan Lake.”

While Manzotti spawned an international dynastic dancing family, all ballet dancers since the mid-19th century are the progeny of Petipa. Like Sallé, Vestris and Taglioni, Petipa was from a long line of dancers. Born in Marseille, he studied with Vestris in Paris, traveled widely and, like Bournonville, fought a duel, in Madrid with a French marquis, though Petipa’s was not over the honor of his art but over the apparent dishonor of a young lady. Petipa shot off the marquis’s jaw and jetéd away unscathed. It is comforting to know that two of the three great choreographers in ballet history — we will get to George Balanchine soon — were winning duelers, willing to risk their bodies for honor, as all dancers do.

Yes, only three men of such genius to add to and permanently change the language itself in all 400 years, so rare is the great dance maker. It would be as if all classical music had only Mozart, Bach and Beethoven, no Wagner, Verdi, Brahms, Schubert or Chopin, or all literature had only Shakespeare, Dickens and Tolstoy, no Dante, Cervantes, Dostoyevsky, Austen, Thomas Mann or Elmore Leonard.

Petipa arrived in St. Petersburg in 1847 and lived there for more than 50 years, dying in 1910 at the age of 92. He had two Russian ballerina wives, nine children, and never learned to speak Russian, though he became an eager and respected member of the czar’s court. Interestingly, he produced his masterworks, the cornerstones of the art, the Latin of all classical ballet — “The Sleeping Beauty,” “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake” (he also rechoreographed “Giselle” in the form we know it today) — in an astonishing late flowering after the age of 70!

This outpouring — some done with the significant help of the ballet master Lev Ivanov — was attributable, in part, to Tchaikovsky, “the first composer of real stature to see ballet as a substantial art,” Homans writes. “Petipa became a great choreographer because of Tchaikovsky, and he knew it.” She evokes the sweetness of their close collaboration: Tchaikovsky would visit Petipa’s house and play his new composition on the piano “while Petipa shifted his papier-mâché figurines around a large round table.”

By 1903 Petipa was forced to retire, and the Imperial Theaters were floundering. But within only six years Serge Diaghilev brought Russian ballet back to Paris, the place of its birth — his company, the Ballets Russes, never danced in Russia — and unleashed a frenzy of modernist creativity the results of which were widespread and groundbreaking. Never before had so many artists of note been pulled together by one man, whose edict was “Astonish me!” His grand experiment lasted only 20 years, but its legacy is vast — perhaps most notable for two artists whom he helped usher out of Russia: Stravinsky and Balanchine. Working together and separately, they would become two of the great artists of Time, their shared subject.

Homans provides good overviews of the major players of the 20th century. British ballet, led by the formidable Ninette de Valois, Frederick Ashton and Margot Fonteyn, had its culmination in the Fonteyn-Nureyev partnership in the 1960s, though it produced its best — and certainly most enduring — gift to ballet in Michael Powell’s 1948 cinematic masterpiece, “The Red Shoes.” “During the war we were all told to go out and die for freedom and democracy,” Powell said. “After the war ‘The Red Shoes’ told them to die for art.” And why not?

Homans does justice — and then some — to the propaganda dram-ballets under Soviet Communism and their extraordinary dancers: Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya — “a fierce and undying swan” — Vladimir Vasiliev, Natalia Makarova, Nureyev and Baryshnikov. While calling ballet “Britain’s finest cultural hour,” Homans states that “the Bolshoi’s rise signaled a sharp decline for the art of dance.” About its signature ballet, “Spartacus,” she writes, “Even at its most thrilling (Vasiliev), it was quite clearly a degraded form of art.” But ballet was an important national symbol, even if Nikita Khrushchev complained that he had seen so many “Swan Lakes” that his dreams were laden with “white tutus and tanks all mixed up together.”

The British Antony Tudor (William Cook) and the American Jerome Robbins (Jerome Rabinowitz) each get an in-depth assessment; together they form the angst-driven sadists — onstage and off — of 20th-century ballet, and each created a few classic ballets. Tudor, choreographer of “Pillar of Fire,” “Lilac Garden” and “Dark Elegies,” liked his performances to be “executed in cold blood.” “Breaking down a person isn’t hard,” he explained, but then “you’re terribly tempted to lay them flat and walk on them.”

Robbins is the undeniable King of Broadway, with works like “West Side Story,” “On the Town” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” but his ballets, his second language, never quite reached the same apotheosis. He was top second-rate (“Dances at a Gathering,” “The Cage,” “Afternoon of a Faun”), and Homans is unafraid to say so. His torture of his dancers and others — he named names before the House Committee on Un-American Activities — was matched only by his well-earned self-hatred. His parents owned a kosher deli on East 97th Street in New York, and he admitted to a strong desire “to become an American and by American I mean WASP American.” He wrote in his diary that he thought his fascination with ballet “has something to do with ‘civilizationing’ of my Jewishness. . . . The language of court and Christianity.”

And it is with “court and Christianity” that Homans arrives in the end. When she finally reaches the story of Georgi Balanchivadze, her book takes flight. She lets go of the professorial traces and dutiful descriptions that have occasionally punctuated previous pages — an editor should have fixed the multiple repetitions of “as we have seen” — and comes into her own with absolute authority. Her writing becomes inspired. Balanchine had that effect on people, and Homans was a student at his School of American Ballet (the “West Point of dance,” as his co-founder, Lincoln Kirstein, called it). Moreover, it actually feels as if she wrote the book in order to get to Balanchine, the one she loves, to put him in his deepest context, and to present him as the pinnacle of the towering pyramid of dance that she has built for him, for us. There he is, the undisputed “Yahweh” of all dance history, the Apollo of her title, accompanied by his beloved muses, his dancers, his angels, leading his chariot, no corseted doves in sight.

“His ballets are the jewel in the crown of 20th-century dance,” Homans writes. “Their depth and scope far surpass those of the dances made by Robbins, Tudor, Ashton or any of the Soviets. . . . Few doubted that Balanchine towered over them all.”

While it took a Frenchman, Petipa, to make ballet Russian, it took a Russian, Balanchine, to make it American — the most unlikely transposition the art form has ever experienced. “Classical ballet was everything America was against,” Homans explains. “It was a lavish, aristocratic court art, a high — and hierarchical — elite art with no pretense to egalitarianism,” designed “to promote and glorify kings and czars.” Whose divine right would it promote in the land of the equal, the free, the duly (and unduly) elected? But as Balanchine was fond of saying in the face of the impossible, or highly inadvisable, “Nevertheless. . . .” And he proceeded to give American dancers an aristocracy all their own.

The story of Balanchine has been told before and at greater length, but never better. Homans’s account is the best that exists — for both the novice and those in the know. The opening of the School of American Ballet in 1933, the short-lived companies, the work on Broadway, in Hollywood, and then in 1948 the birth of the New York City Ballet, the incubator for him and his dancers, where he produced his greatest work. She gives us terrific appraisals of “Apollo,” “Serenade,” “La Valse,” “Liebeslieder Walzer,” “Agon” and “Stravinsky Violin Concerto.”

Homans even risks some close truths when she points out the reasons for the “unusual physical luminosity” of his dancers, who had “more dimension, more depth, more range” than other dancers. “Foremost among them was love,” she writes. “Not love for dancing, although that was part of it, but Balanchine’s love.” The fuel his dancers ran on was not the cottage cheese, muffins and Tab they consumed but the sheer adrenaline of love, that immeasurable, magical component that takes a body beyond itself.

Unlike Tudor and Robbins, Balanchine “was not interested in ordinary people or real social situations,” Homans says. “Rather, for him ballet was an art of angels, of idealized and elevated human figures, beautiful, chivalric and above all strictly formal.” Balanchine brought the art full circle back to Louis XIV.

“Ballet is woman,” Balanchine proclaimed, and he elaborated in a letter to Jackie Kennedy in 1961: “Man takes care of the material things and woman takes care of the soul. Woman is the world and man lives in it.” Among his multiple images and portraits of women, one dominated: “a man and a woman who come together but cannot stay together,” Homans writes, “dances that show the man alone, or abandoned by a woman who is too independent, too powerful, too goddess-like to give him the solace he needs.” Balanchine said his biography was in the ballets — and Taglioni’s anarchist sylph reigns on.

“Balanchine’s legacy was immense,” Homans concludes. “He had given the world the greatest oeuvre in the history of dance and made classical ballet a pre-eminently modernist and 20th-century art.” But “over the past two decades,” she writes, it “has come to resemble a dying language,” and thus she announces the awful truth. Ballet is such an ethereal, such a deeply moral exercise that it would appear to have less and less of a place in our current technology-driven world: there are no bytes for ballet.

But ballet always seems to be ending; it has been finished, in fact, many times. The ballet master Jean-Georges Noverre saw it sliding into “empty and meaningless virtuosity” by the late 18th century, and Bournonville despaired for his art when he saw the “disgusting cancan” showing its garters in Paris theaters. And in 1936, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of “the catastrophe of the death of Diaghilev. The sorrow of it that Zelda felt, as did many others, who seemed to feel also that the ballet was ended.”

Now, it would appear ballet is ending yet again. But this time, Homans thinks, it really is the end. “In the years following Balanchine’s death,” she writes, “his angels fell, one by one, from their heights.” Her explanation is, sadly, convincing: “Contemporary choreography veers aimlessly from unimaginative imitation to strident innovation,” while “today’s artists . . . have been curiously unable to rise to the challenge of their legacy. They seem crushed and confused by its iconoclasm and grandeur.” Terpsichore, like Victoria Page, has put on the red shoes and danced her last, no longer willing to “die for art,” so her art dies.

“At N.Y.C.B.,” Homans writes of Balanchine and Robbins’s old home, “the understandable desire to preserve its masters’ legacy has led instead to a stifling orthodoxy,” and she reports with restrained outrage of “a small but telling departure” from its former grace. “The New York State Theater, named for the people it served, was recently rechristened: it is now the David H. Koch Theater, for the millionaire whose ego and resources substitute for the public good.” In a wickedly ironic footnote, bedbugs have also recently taken up residence with Koch in Balanchine’s theater.

The Fabergé egg has fallen. Today’s ballerinas use Twitter, securing the fall of the fourth wall, and even Darren Aronofsky’s new ballet film, “Black Swan,” presents, uncannily, a haunting final image of a white tutu oozing blood. So what is one to do now, having seen, having known, a thing of such beauty that is facing imminent extinction? Jennifer Homans has put her mourning into action and has written its history, an eloquent and lasting elegy to an unlasting art. It is, alas, a eulogy.

Toni Bentley danced with the New York City Ballet for 10 years and is the author of five books . She is writing a book about Balanchine’s ballet “Serenade.”

Personal Comment: Bentley makes me want to start reading Apollo’s Angels now! I’m waiting for my company to leave before starting my copy. Sigh!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Under-thrusting, an explanation

A vintage Kirby Morgan Mk 16

Foreword: This under-thrust explanation is being written in reply to a comment posted by Eric on my entry for November 24, 2010 entitled “Under-thrust training” in which he wrote: “I've never understood how someone could thrust around it. Of course, I would think something like that would have to be a fluke or someone would have to have a lot of skill. However, you might've mentioned the possibility of poorly-fit diaphragms.” An explanation requires some detail so I want to post it as a blog entry rather than a comment so more readers will see it.

Under-thrusting defined: What I’m talking about is the intentional under-thrusting (forcing the tip of the penis under the rim) of a diaphragm worn for contraception and/or upper reproductive tract protection. Under-thrusting of a contraceptive diaphragm is far more likely during vanilla sex if the diaphragm is too small, but it is fairly rare if the diaphragm is properly sized and correctly inserted because the male partner is almost always interested in giving his partner her pleasure first or just getting off himself and most guys I’ve been with are trying to reach my cervix and none of those goals are easily accomplished by acute angle thrusting of the male penis which is necessary for successful under-thrusting.

Arousal: There are two factors that will determine the ease with which a correctly sized D can be under-thrust. First is the degree to which the woman is aroused. That matters because when fully aroused a woman’s vagina will lengthen (called tenting) by 5 cm or more (depending on the woman) as the uterus and cervix are pulled up and back out of the way of a thrusting penis. That means that the anterior rim of the diaphragm will be pulled out of the wearer’s pubic notch at least to some extent so there may be a gap between her pubic bone and the anterior rim of her diaphragm.

Missionary position: A few minutes after correct insertion the dome of the D should have developed a seal against the anterior wall of the vagina so the rim should not drop down unless the seal is broken, but if the woman is on her back and penetrated in missionary, if her partner thrusts up at an acute angle (into her anterior vaginal wall) when she is fully aroused he may be able to push his way between her pubic bone and the rim and thrust beneath it. Then he is inside the dome and if he ejaculates sperm is placed against her cervix. That’s why spermicide is used as a back-up.

From behind: When the woman is taken from behind while bent over so she is penetrated doggie style, the gap (after tenting) between the pubic bone and the rim of the diaphragm is even larger. That’s because the uterus and cervix are pulled deeper still by gravity when the woman is on all fours or standing bent over with her hands on her knees. With his partner in that position the man has to thrust downward at an acute angle if he is going to try under-thrusting his partner’s diaphragm. Even with a correctly sized diaphragm and during vanilla sex because the rim can be pulled so far out of the woman’s pubic notch it’s in this position that there are the most complaints from men about hitting the rim, which is uncomfortable for most of them.

Rim Style: The second factor that determines the ease with which a diaphragm can be under-thrust is the type of rim (coil, Arcing or flat spring) of the diaphragm the woman is wearing. There are practical reasons for a woman to wear an arcing spring or a coil spring rim, however both the arcing and coil spring rims are easy to distort when thrust into at an oblique angle without much indication to the woman that it is happening. That is not the case with a flat spring rim.

The only way a flat spring rim will compress is when it is compressed in the plane of the rim, thrust into edge on not at an angle to the plane of the rim. Therefore, when the rim is hit at an oblique angle as it almost always is the rim will not compress and it’s like hitting a metal wall. The penis will drive the uncompressed rim painfully into the woman’s vaginal walls alerting her that her partner is doing or trying to do something he shouldn’t. And ramming a flat spring rim that way will be painful for both partners.

The arcing spring rim is the most popular with doctors because it can be worn by women with a wide range of vaginal muscle tone and it is easier to insert correctly. However if the woman needs a menstrual gas guard that can be used effectively during dives deeper than 30 feet and one that is difficult to intentionally under-thrust then the flat spring Reflexions is the only one that meets those criteria. There are a few men in Vegas who are masochists and sadists and these are the guys who will enjoy the pain of trying to under-thrust a flat spring diaphragm and enjoy hurting his partner and perhaps impregnating her. But if they try she will certainly know what he is doing.

Tradeoffs: Ideally, except for when a woman is on her period a cervical cap would be the best barrier to wear for dive-sex as it can’t be under-thrust and if correctly fitted it is very difficult to dislodge with a thrusting penis. The problem is that for petite women or women in their teens their pelvic anatomies may be too small to be fitted with FemCap (the smallest is 22 mm) and quite often their partners are hurt by hitting the removal strap or if that has been trimmed away the dome and find it uncomfortable. So a latex Reflexions flat spring diaphragm is probably the best all around gas guard available for petite or very young women.

Sex in a Kirby Morgan

In the Pit: On Thanksgiving Day while my other guests were watching football I took Adolph to the bottom of my 68 ft deep pool, the pit. He isn’t interested in American football and he wanted to see what it would be like if we both wore surface supplied Kirby-Morgan 47 helmets. I was CD7 and we both enjoyed ourselves. He is something of a sadist and I’m a masochist so when he battered my cervix through the dome of my Reflexions he actually hurt me enough to bring on a cervical orgasm which was awesome! He was bouncing me around pretty severely, but with chin strap, fitted head cushion, neck pad and the neck dam/neck ring assembly and twin-pin locking collar to hold the helmet securely in place I was quite safe, not in nearly the danger I would have been in if I had been wearing a KMH 16 [shown in the image at the top of this entry] where the latching assembly could be unexpectedly broached and have the helmet separate from the yoke assembly. I wouldn’t say the KM 16 is unsafe, but the latching mechanism that holds the helmet to the yoke and neck dam is an obsolete design more than 30 years old.

The KM 47: Adolph and I helped dress each other in our KM 47s so I got to pay close attention to how it should be done. It was a bit of a struggle though we put on the helmets standing on the shallow ledge so we could just submerge after we locked ourselves in to get rid of having the heavy helmet on our shoulders as quickly as possible. If I’m being thrown around during an intense sexual encounter I’m a lot happier with the much more secure latching assembly of the KM 47 holding the helmet sealed. I love the way the head cushion snaps into the helmet shell and can be custom fitted to make sure I could get my long hair (in French braids) comfortably and safely contained in the helmet. With everything fastened properly (including the chin strap) I felt snug and safe in my KM 47. The helmet’s weight is about 33.5 lbs and mine has been adjusted with weights for balance and neutral buoyancy in fresh water. A drawback of the KM 47 (or any KM mask or helmet) is that there is limited visibility through the polycarbonate lens when compared with my Ocean Reef Space Raptor FFM and because of the helmet’s size there is inertia as the diver turns her head.

But the reduction is visibility was offset in my case by the head protection the fiberglass and carbon fiber shell and head cushion provided when Adolph repeatedly shoved me into the wall during our encounter. When I tried to stay against the wall he would pull me away and then shove me back so the back of my helmet was repeatedly slammed into the pool wall as he thrust into me. I wouldn’t have escaped w/o a concussion if I had been wearing only a neoprene hood and FFM. But that’s just the way Adolph is. He extremely strong and goes after sex with a woman with amazing intensity. He knew better than to try and under thrust my gas guard though it is one of his fave tricks with most of his other partners. I would say he was brutal if I hadn’t enjoyed our encounter so much.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010


Thanksgiving Day:
Cyndi’s mom, Fiona, and her boyfriend are with us again this year to celebrate Thanksgiving! The Honorable Lady Fiona etc, etc (known to her friends as “Fi”) and her current stud-muffin an SAS Major, Colin Tree, who is with the Military Attaché unit of the Embassy in DC were able to come! She flew out with Senator Reid, to brief him on an Anglo-American project, while Congress is on Thanksgiving break. Limnaea was on the east coast so it was no trouble to pick up Maj. Tree at Dulles. I will fit Fiona with a Reflexions so she can dive the pit She prefers a diaphragm which she used before having her GyneFix implanted rather than the 30 mm Oves I fitted her for last year. That will work out well because we now know Reflexions is quite safe as a gas guard down to at least 200 feet.

Like last year I have a team of chefs - hired off-duty from the casino - working my commercial grade kitchen to prepare the traditional turkey dinner. There will be Parade watching and football for the men but I expect to be able to lure them away from the games for plenty of sex.

For the weekend there will be:

1.Cyndi & Chris,
2. Anya & Robin,
3. Shelly & Jeff,
4.Marie-Claude & Pirate,
5.Diané & Peter,
6. Fiona & Colin,
7. Cara & Clark an experience escort new to our group
8.Abigail (Abi): pool-assistant and Lorelei in residence to Adolph & Adolph
9.Gigi & Chuck, my fave Gyno and Taryn’s old BF.
10.Beth: My Pool Assistant/Dresser & Jon a lovely male escort
11. Jacques & me.

The lovely thing about having a very large house is I can bed them all here for the entire weekend. My circle, since they are in synchrony with me, will be CD 7 – 10 from tomorrow through the weekend so we should all be fertile by Saturday and ready to test the stamina of out partners. Fiona is a few days ahead so will probably ovulate this weekend.

The only sadness is that Taryn won’t be here with us. She sends her love and asks to be remembered to all. She is enjoying Trinity College Cambridge and her tutor says she is doing well in her studies while having an active social life at her country house, Cunt Castle, on weekends.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pointe shoe quiz November 24, 2010

What obvious modification has this dancer made to her pointes?

Under-thrust training

My Gaynors and a latex Reflexions gas guard

AST and under-thrusting: My Advanced Sexual Techniques class at St Lucy’s has a symbiotic relationship with the male escort trainees. One of the ways that the two groups learn from each other is by participation in the diaphragm under-thrusting lab. The AST students get to experience what under-thrusting feels like and the escort trainees learn how to intentionally under-thrust and how to avoid under-thrusting, mutually valuable lessons. This is very valuable to the 80% of students who are not involved in competitive swimming or taking the pre-professional ballet syllabus. Swimmers and dancers now get additional under-thrust training because from their touring to other schools they are at higher risk of becoming involved with more adventuresome men. They begin with a Semina (coil spring rim) which is easiest to under-thrust and then when they see how easy it is for a guy to get under the rim they switch to a Reflexions fiat spring where for all but the most determined man it is too painful to thrust under the dome.

Diaphragm changes at St Lucy’s: I have convinced the dean of students that for the students reproductive health the students enrolled in ballet and swimming should routinely be fitted with Reflexions flat spring diaphragms because they provide greater dynamic protection, both from the possibility of being under-thrust and for dive-sex below 30 feet. Under-thrusting has become more of a problem as more and more women out here have started using diaphragms as gas guards for upper reproductive tract protection because of their increased interest in dive-sex, especially when menstrual.

St Lucy’s girls have had one or two instances of under-thrusting by prep-school boys they hooked-up with while at dance or swim competitions at co-ed schools in surrounding states. The girls have been fitted with GyneFix IUD implants so pregnancy wasn’t a concern, but emboli during submerged sex is always a potential and serious problem. The girls had been allowed to use Semina diaphragms which work well if a lover just wants vanilla dive-sex no deeper than 30 feet, but there are more and more men who think its fun to try to compromise their lover’s protection and a flat spring diaphragm makes that very difficult to do using only an erect penis.

Our male escort candidates appreciate the St Lucy’s swimmers, ballet and AST students wearing flat spring rim cervical protection because it gives them more of a real world feel just as though they were having an encounter with a female escort candidate or a paying client rather than an adventuresome teen and it gives the students experience with men who are expert at how to manipulate a woman’s body to completely exhaust her sexually from the intensity of the encounter. The St Lucy’s swimmer/dancers are the envy of the other girls for their access to as much of the very best sex it’s possible for a girl to have in Vegas and get paid walking around money for it.

Stalking staff: We take precautions that our instructor’s identities are hidden from students outside the entertainment industry. They work using professional names and carry no personal ID. Even so we occasionally have a very determined former-student who develops an obsession for an instructor and s/he attempts to force themselves on the person on whom they are fixated. It’s mostly male students stalking women staff, a testosterone thing probably and last week we had another instance. The object of this stalkers obsession is a dancer/diver therapist on the staff of the ASCE course that I wrote about in my entry for November 6, 2010 “Sexual addiction and Vegas”. She was his partner for the training and he obviously formed a strong (but unreciprocated) romantic attachment. Swift and firm action is the only way to stop that sort of behavior.

The head of a freshly euthanized dog (of the same breed as his pet - from a pound that euthanizes strays) was sent by courier to his wife at their home in the mid west. A hand delivered note addressed to the wife was slipped through the mail slot in the front door of their home that said if he didn’t stop the next gift she received would be part of something far more precious to him. After a hysterical call from his wife he seemed to take the warning to heart because he immediately left Vegas and two days later I heard he checked himself into a rehab facility. Go figure!

Ballet and the pointe fetish

A pointe fetish divertissement; the scent of a sweat soaked shoe

Pointe fetish ballet: We are experimenting with having tours of our ballet training complex and they are becoming popular with fetish groups. Where the audience can watch dancers rehearse through glass walls. I have choreographed a series of special erotic divertissements in the classical idiom to show off the ballerina’s feet and her pointe shoes. For this sort of pas de deux only pointes made of traditional materials; satin, linen, paper, leather and paste should be used as then the blocks will soften and deform from being soaked with the dancers estrogenic sweat. I think Freed Classic shoes are the best for this as they use English paste which has a distinctive and I think erotic scent that mixes well with the other fragrances; the musk of dancer’s estrogenic sweat, damp fabric, tanned leather, powdered rosin and liniment.

My women dancers all have high arches so they are really hard on Freed shoes even though the shanks are Forteflex and three-quartered. The insides of the blocks of a pair used for this sort of dancing are not treated with jet glue to delay the paste in the blocks from melting. Leaving them untreated increases the strength of the scent, but shortens the life of the shoes for these roles to no more than twenty minutes, but they can still be used for romantic roles and class work. The air circulates from the studio into the observation area before being drawn back into the A/C so the audience gets the full scent bouquet of the dancers. None of the divertissements the tour members see include penetrative sex although there is aggressive groping by both sexes. We are, after all, trying to sell tickets to the shows at Naughty Pleasures so we want to feed the audience’s lust not sate it.

Meeting a need: I thought we would have more men on these intimate rehearsal tours, but more than 80% are women, and from the research we have done most are or have been dancers. From the looks on their faces it’s obvious we have tapped into a niche market for adventuresome women who are looking for new erotic roles they can play with the men in their lives. None of the moves I’ve choreographed involve Karma Sutra contortions, the divertissements are made up of classical steps and poses that any advanced pointe student can do so for a woman with a good memory (no cams or cell phones are allowed) there is a lot that she can learn that she should be able to put to use herself. There are a few sensual lifts where the woman is rubbed against the man as she is lifted so there is full body contact which always causes erect nipples easily seen through the cotton lycra of her compression top. Even with the man in a dance belt and tights you can see that he becomes aroused, which can be very frustrating for him, except the couple uses the pas de deux as foreplay and have penetrative sex immediately afterward in her dressing room, or if she isn’t up for that he masturbates.

Jacking and Jilling: Speaking of masturbation, watching one of these intimate rehearsals can cause some of the audience to take things in hand to care for urgent personal needs, mostly women because it’s easier for us to get away with it in public. In the case of the few males who find themselves in that situation I think most will roll a condom on, to prevent staining their slacks. You know it’s pre-planned because they do it under a sweater with the arms tied around their waists. It is unusual, but does happen when the lights are turned down in the observation area. Security first picked it up with the low-light cams watching the area. Around the waist is a common way sweaters are carried while inside (but not worn in front so it’s a pretty clear give-away what’s going on) and empty foil packets are occasionally found on the floor afterward. I’m sure at least some women in the audience realize what the guys are doing if they aren’t themselves too intent on watching the dancers dry-fuck each other or getting off themselves, but none of the women has complained. It’s a fairly short program so a guy has to be fast or be caught out when the lights come up.

Women don’t have that problem. We are able to have a pressure orgasm by concentrating and squeezing our legs together. The thing a woman has to be careful of when masturbating in public is to be able to stifle a scream or moan. If she can’t, then disguising it as a cough or sneeze or at least trying to can sometimes divert suspicion. With a little planning a girl can wear a diaphragm to collect her fertile cervical mucus and a thong with a cotton liner to absorb her natural lube when she becomes wet when aroused. Otherwise she might put a wet spot on her skirt when she sits down. A lot of the women in the audience visit the ladies room afterward to change into dry thongs. You’d be surprised at the number of perfectly good but slippery-wet thongs tossed into the trash in that restroom.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Is Ballet Dying?

Third year students at a major ballet school

The New York Times
November 19, 2010

This Ballerina Found History In Her Footsteps

IT is not the typical academic who studies the political and cultural history of nations by trying to locate those histories within her body. Yet that was precisely the approach taken by Jennifer Homans, a former professional ballet dancer turned historian and critic, whose enormous new history of classical ballet, “Apollo’s Angels,” was published this month.

In France Ms. Homans unearthed rehearsal notes that sent her back to the ballet studio. They were “longhand things a dancer might write — pas de bourrée, port de bras — and sketches by choreographers,” she said during an interview in her Washington Square apartment. One set of notebooks had music written above the dance notations, so she found a violinist to record the music, then spent hours reconstructing the original movement, setting steps to sound.

“Apollo’s Angels” traces four centuries of ballet — from its origins in 16th-century France to its elevation in the court of Versailles, through the Renaissance, Bolshevism, modernism and the cold war — describing the dance’s evolutions and revolutions in the context of political, philosophical and aesthetic currents. “The steps were never just the steps,” Ms. Homans writes. “They were a set of beliefs.”

The book took 10 years to research and write, but it was a lifetime in the making. “I think I was always stranded between two worlds,” said Ms. Homans, who has been the dance critic for The New Republic since 2001 and is a distinguished scholar in residence at New York University. “When I was dancing, I always had a book in my hand, and when I was in the world of my childhood — and later the academic world — I always had a foot in the dance studio.”

Early response to “Apollo’s Angels” has been spirited, with critics driven to both high praise and high pique. Rachel Howard, who reviews dance for The San Francisco Chronicle, called the book “intellectually rigorous” and “beautifully written,” though she objected to the American chapters’ narrow geographical perspective and criticized the omission of choreographers like Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky and William Forsythe.

What’s most ruffled swan feathers is the melancholic epilogue, in which Ms. Homans writes, “After years of trying to convince myself otherwise, I now feel sure that ballet is dying.” (Ms. Howard, for one, faulted the book’s final pages for abandoning “admirable analysis for unsubstantiated forecasting.”)

Ms. Homans began developing her case in her earliest articles for The New Republic and in a 2002 article in The New York Times, in which she bemoaned New York City Ballet’s lack of luster in the post-Balanchine era. After that article appeared, the critic Clive Barnes wrote a fierce rebuttal in Dance Magazine, condemning it as “a cult/fashion view rather than a truly critical opinion.”

Ms. Homans said she would be pleased to stir reaction again: “To the extent that the epilogue of my book addresses choreographers and artistic directors, it is to say: ‘Look at the history. Ballet is in decline. Something needs to change.’ ”

At 50, Ms. Homans still has a dancer’s lithe arms and legs. When she walks, she moves with nimble grace, her feet turned out 45 degrees. Her apartment is filled with books and family photographs: Ms. Homans as a teenager, sewing her pointe shoes. Her sons Daniel, 16, and Nicholas, 13. And on a mantelpiece Ms. Homans embracing her husband of 17 years, Tony Judt — the historian, author and New York University professor who died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in August.

Ms. Homans was deep into the writing of “Apollo’s Angels” in 2008 when Mr. Judt’s illness was diagnosed. Even as he lost the ability to walk, to breathe on his own, he continued working, composing a series of memorable essays for The New York Review of Books. Ms. Homans, meanwhile, was dealt additional blows: her father died suddenly following a stroke last year, and her mother succumbed to cancer five months later.

Ms. Homans preferred not to revisit that period. But friends spoke of her ordeal.

“She completed this book through a torturous time,” said Catherine Oppenheimer, a former City Ballet dancer who met Ms. Homans when both were students at the School of American Ballet. “A lot of people would have dropped it,” she added, “but I think that was the dancer’s discipline coming back.”

Ms. Homans began ballet lessons at the age of 8 in Chicago, where she grew up one of three daughters of University of Chicago intellectuals. Literature, music and art were a part of family life, and it was a given, Ms. Homans said, that “ideas really mattered.”

The notion of ballet as a calling came later, when at 13 she enrolled in classes at the University of Chicago taught by a former National Ballet of Canada dancer who was pursuing a doctorate in physics. “There was an intellectual component to the classes that was very appealing,” she said. The teacher “would come in and say, ‘I was just studying the physics of centrifugal force, and this is how you’re going to turn.’ ”

Ms. Homans left Chicago to pursue more serious training, first at the North Carolina School of the Arts, then at the School of American Ballet, at a time when Balanchine still reigned. She had hoped to ascend to City Ballet, but when Balanchine made his annual visit to select dancers for his company, she was out with an injury.

Picking herself up, she traveled west, to San Francisco Ballet and finally to Pacific Northwest Ballet, where she danced for four years. But at 26 she chose to stop.

“I was bored,” Ms. Homans said. “It’s strange to say, because I still loved to dance. But you’re in a studio many hours a day, and often you’re waiting for someone else to come up with ideas. At a certain point I wanted to be the one with the ideas.”

Her decision took her to Columbia University and then to the doctoral program in history at N.Y.U. There she became convinced that the story of ballet was a valid subject for scholarly investigation. And there she met Mr. Judt.

“Tony always had a kind of moral core to the way he approached history,” Ms. Homans said. “He believed in truth, and I do too. Not that there is an absolute truth that you can hold on to, but that you have to at least strive for a coherent story that’s going to make sense of everything in ways that are honest.”

Ms. Homans’s stringent standards, depth of knowledge and belief in scrupulous argument seized the attention of Leon Wieseltier, the literary editor of The New Republic, who invited her to be the magazine’s dance critic and has been a friend for 10 years.

Among critics “you can find people who can do the aesthetic, formal and sensual dimensions, but they can’t do the social, cultural and political dimensions,” Mr. Wieseltier said. “Or you can find critics who will tell you about politics and society and ideology, but they don’t know the steps or they can’t read the music. So to find someone who can combine all the dimensions — that is rare.”

In “Apollo’s Angels” Ms. Homans writes that she worries about ballet in part because artists today seem “confused” by their inheritance, “unable to build on its foundation yet unwilling to throw it off in favor of a vision of their own.”

She acknowledged that when she was dancing, she did not often look to history. Even when she did turn to books, she said, the few she found had little of interest to say.

She hopes, then, that “Apollo’s Angels” may fill a void and become “a resource for artists — choreographers and dancers — who will now be able to go back and say, ‘Wait a minute, here are some ideas from the past that might inspire us.’ ”

The New Republic

Is Ballet Over?
Jennifer Homans
October 13, 2010 12:00 am

In the years following the Balanchine’s death his angels fell, one by one, from their heights. Classical ballet, which had achieved so much in the course of the twentieth century, entered a slow decline. It was not just New York: from London to St. Petersburg, and Copenhagen to Moscow, ballet seemed to grind to a crawl, as if the tradition itself had become clogged and exhausted. In part this could be explained by generational change: by the turn of the twenty-first century the artists who had made ballet so vibrant were dead and retired. Balanchine, Robbins, and Tudor; Stravinsky and Kirstein; Ashton, Keynes, and de Valois; Lupokhov, Larovsky, and Vaganova—they were all gone, and the dancers who had brought their ballets and so many others to life had left or retired from the stage.

Today’s artists—their students and heirs—have been curiously unable to rise to the challenge of their legacy. They seem crushed and confused by its iconoclasm and grandeur, unable to build on its foundation yet unwilling to throw it off in favor of a vision of their own. Contemporary choreography veers aimlessly from unimaginative imitation to strident innovation usually in the form of gymnastic or melodramatic excess, accentuated by overzealous lightening and special effects. This taste for unthinking athleticism and dense thickets of steps, for spectacle and sentiment, is not the final cry of a dying artistic era; it represents a collapse of confidence and a generation ill at ease with itself and uncertain of its relationship to the past.

For performers, things are no easier. Committed and well-trained dancers are still in good supply, but very few are exciting or interesting enough to draw or hold an audience. Technically conservative, their dancing is opaque and flat, emotionally dimmed. And although many can perform astonishing stunts, the overall level of technique has fallen. Today’s dancers are more brittle and unsubtle, with fewer half-tones than their predecessors. Uncertainty and doubt have crept in. Many of today’s dancers, for example, have a revealing habit: they attack steps with apparent conviction—but then at the height of the step they shift or adjust, almost imperceptibly, as if they were not quite at ease with its statement. This is so commonplace that we hardly notice. But we should: these adjustments are a kind of fudging, a way of taking distance and not quite committing (literally) to a firm stand. With the best of intentions, the dancer thus undercuts her own performance. There are, to be sure, dancers whose larger vision and more sophisticated technique set them apart—Diana Vishneva (Kirov/Mariinsky), Angel Corella (American Ballet Theatre), or Alina Cojocaru (Royal Ballet)—but too often they waste their talent in mediocre new works or plow their energies into reviving the old.

Especially the old. Today the modernist proviso “make it new” has been superseded. In dance as in so much else, we have entered an age of retrospective. This means, above all, the nineteenth-century Russian classics, and audiences everywhere are awash in productions of Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and The Sleeping Beauty. In one sense, this is nothing new. The twentieth-century Moderns, as we have seen, self-consciously set their art on these very same foundations. But they had a confidence and connection to these dances that today’s artists lack: they grew up in the shadow of the nineteenth century. Thus when Balanchine choreographed Raymonda Variations or The Nutcracker, he was drawing on nostalgic memories of productions he had seen as a child in St. Petersburg. Yet these stages were emphatically his own, never slavish reproductions. Ashton mounted Swan Lake so beautifully because he was at once emerged in Russian classicism and free from its orthodoxies. Even in the Soviet Union, where ideology often obscured choreography, many artists shared—and valued—their direct links to the Imperial past.

The current generation of dancers and choreographers faces a more difficult situation. They are far removed from the nineteenth century and know it only secondhand. Hence, perhaps, their anxiety to preserve the past, as if the tradition were at risk of ebbing away. There is a palpable desire to hold on: slippage and erosion are acutely felt and much discussed today. The result, however, is ironic: the world’s major ballet companies—companies that built their reputations on new work—have now become museums for the old. The ubiquitous presence of reconstructors, notators, and directors—ballet’s curators and conservators—rather than choreographers is further evidence of this obsession with preservation. London’s Royal Ballet and New York’s American Ballet Theatre have both devoted vast resources in recent years to new productions of The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. Even the New York City Ballet, vanguard of modernism, now has its own full-length productions of these nineteenth-century classics with new but blandly conventional choreography.

But nowhere have the classics been more important—or controversial—than in Russia. By the end of the Cold War, Russian artists were deeply ambivalent about Soviet culture and their own past, many were eager to excise or forget the dances they had grown up with, tainted as they were by totalitarianism and a failed social experiment. One way to do this was to “bracket” the twentieth century and reclaim the Imperial heritage. Thus the Kirov, named after Stalin’s minister, became once again the Mariinsky Theater (except for touring: Kirov sells tickets, Maryinsky does not).

Some years later the company added two “new-old” jewels to its repertory: lavish reconstructions of the original Sleeping Beauty and La Bayadere. These productions were painstakingly pieced together, like large mosaics, from fragments of past knowledge: Nokolai Sergeyev’s (incomplete) choreographic notes in a now-defunct notation system, old costume and set designs, printed and visual sources, interviews, snatches of memory. Where the texts fell silent, as they often did, ballet masters retouched “in the style of.” The result was historically and politically riveting but artistically moribund; what is gained in authenticity is lost in art.

The same is true of the more recent past. Today the work of Balanchine, Ashton, Tudor, Robbins, Zakharov, Lavrovsky, and Grigorovich is being preserved, filmed, and set for future generations. In this spirit, there has been an impressive effort to revive or document lost works, especially those of George Balanchine. His known works are now copyrighted and controlled by a trust established after his death (comparable organizations control the works of Robbins, Tudor, and Ashton). If a company wishes to mount one of his ballets, they must apply to the trust, which dispatches repetiteurs—dancers who worked with the ballet master directly—to stage the work.

In this way, many of Balanchine’s ballets have become standard repertory—classics—for companies around the world, perhaps most notably at the Kirov/Maryinsky, which has been eager to reclaim the St. Petersburg born Balanchine as their own posthumous prodigal son. The result has been welcome, if ironic: today Balanchine’s ballets are danced with at least as much vigor and interest in St. Petersburg, Paris, and Copenhagen as they are in New York.

The twentieth-century masters also remain the cornerstone of the companies they helped found. The ballets of Balanchine and Robbins dominate the NYCB repertory, Tudor has a strong presence at Ballet Theatre, and after years of unforgivable neglect) the Royal Ballet now dotes on Ashton. Celebrations of their work abound. “Balanchine technique” has even been codified and enshrined: there are books and DVDs by his dancers detailing its principles and practices. Here too there are problems, however. Balanchine’s style never stood still—it was an expansive and open-ended way of thinking that changed over time and with each dancer. The more the steps (and the ways to do them) have become fixed, the less they recall the era. Consequently, at NYCB the understandable desire to preserve its masters’ legacy has led instead to a stifling orthodoxy.

These old ballets are now housed in stately new theaters, steel and stone monuments to a fragile and ephemeral past. In the years following Balanchine’s death, the New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet acquired shiny new facilities as Lincoln Center. In 1989 Paris got the Bastille Opera House, a charmlessly modern tribute to the cultural ambitions of the French state; London’s Covent Garden, home to the Royal Ballet, reopened ten years later after a $360 million renovation; and in 2005 Copenhagen (and the Royal Danish Ballet) outdid them all with a palatial new $442 million state-of-the-art opera house built by a local businessman (the ceiling is studded with 105,000 sheets of 24-karat gold leaf). Not to be left behind, Moscow’s crumbling Bolshoi Theater is undergoing a major face-lift.

Ironically, however, the great national traditions—English, Russian, French, and American—these memory palaces are meant to house have all but ceased to exist. The Cold War is over: the “us and them” thinking that shaped Soviet and Western ballet styles no longer matters. Dancers from Russia and the former Soviet bloc, but also from Cuba and South America, are flocking to the West. Europe has no borders. Thus, to take the most obvious example, England’s Royal Ballet is not so very English anymore: Romanian, Danish, Spanish, Cuban, and French dancers fill its ranks. Indeed, by 2005 only two of its sixteen principle dancers were British. This has provoked hand-wringing and a halfhearted backlash: the recently established Fonteyn-Nureyev Ballet Competition, for example, was explicitly designed to encourage British children to take up the art. But nobody really believes this will happen. If anything, the Royal Ballet has been saved by its willingness to open its ranks to the world: what vitality the company now possesses comes from its international breadth, not its English depth.

Everywhere national distinctions have been flattened into a common international style. Dancers from St. Petersburg and New York, London, Paris, and Madrid are practically interchangeable. More than that, they want to be like each other, to absorb whatever they did not have before. The Russians want Balanchine’s speed and precision, the Americans want Russian grace, and everyone wants French chic and allure. It is not that all dancers look alike: the vestiges of national training remain—especially in Russia, which is still relatively isolated (the flow of talent is one way: out). But the lines have been visibly blurred. Rather than perfecting a native tongue, they speak a mellifluous hybrid language.

Living in an age of retrospective does not necessarily mean that dancers have an accurate grasp of the past. Consider the fate of Vaslav Nijinsky’s Rite of Spring, to Stravinsky’s celebrated score. After its original performance in 1913 Nijinsky’s choreography as completely forgotten. But this in no way diminished the ballet’s iconic stature, which only grew with time. In the 1970s Millicent Hodson, an American scholar and dancer from Berkeley, California, set out to bring the ballet back to life. Working with the designer Kenneth Archer, she meticulously reconstructed the dances. Since there was no record of the choreography, Hodson used Stravinsky’s annotated score, interviews, reviews, and contemporary sketches and rechoreographed the ballet, following Nijinsky’s ideas as she understood them. Her version was first performed by the Joffrey Ballet in 1987 and has since become a calling card of modernism: Hodson’s ballet has entered the repertory of the Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Ballet in London, and the Kirov Ballet.

There is no reason to believe, however, that Hodson’s choreography has anything to do with Nijinsky’s. Her new Rite consists of ritualized stomping, sharply angled elbows, and flinging, free-form movements: it is American postmodern dance masquerading as a seminal modernist work. What was by all accounts a radical and shocking dance is thus rendered tame and kitschy, a souvenir from an exotic past. It is a sign of our times that some of the world’s most prestigious ballet companies rushed to embrace this travesty as a way to regain a past they had lost—or, in the case of the Kirov, never had. Rite was originally created by Poles and Russians in Paris; what the Kirov brought home was instead a “ready-made” pieced together from found historical objects by an American from Berkeley.

Other periods in ballet’s history have been more fortunate. Since the 1970s Renaissance and baroque dances have returned to the stage, reconstructed by scholars and performers working across Europe and America. Here the ground is more solid. Although the dances are older, the notation systems developed at the time (and feuillet’s in particular) remain legible today. Some of those involved have also found a foothold in American and European universities, where they have joined musicians interested in early music to spark a lively debate over interpretation and style. This is important, for the academy has traditionally focused rather narrowly on modern dance. The growing presence of scholarship on other periods represents a welcome expansion.
Never before, then, has the history of dance been so fully on display. If we cast an eye across the landscape of ballet today, that is what we will see. Through the frame of the proscenium arch, we can glimpse Renaissance or baroque dance, Danish Romantic ballet, or the Russian Imperial tradition. There are, of course, vast gaps; we know little of the seminal ballets of Jean-Georges Novarre, and we have nothing from Pierre Gardel. Missing too are the danced dramas of Salvatore Vigano and the Russian ballets of Jules Perrot, among many others. Closer to our own time, we know little of Massine and less of Nijinsky. Even Balanchine is only partially represented—he created more than four hundred works, of which only a fraction remain today. None of this is really surprising: dances have always had a short half-life. The gaps are part of the tradition too.

However, thanks to technology, the gaps themselves may be a thing of the past. Film, video, and computers are changing the way dances are remembered. For the first time, we have a body of texts: many of the great works of the postwar era have been recorded on film, and today dances are routinely taped. Thus the problem of notation, which has vexed ballet for so long, may be resolved: who needs to memorize or write down a dance in an age of instant digital recall? Who needs an oral tradition—dancer to dancer—when you can watch it all up close, with options to pause and rewind? The electronic dissemination of ballets, foreshadowed by grainy bootlegged videotapes of American dances pirated by the Soviets and used to mount ballets they had barely seen in the flesh, has accelerated dramatically.

But film, video, and computer imaging may also be part of the problem. The dull, flat-screen look of today’s dances and dancers surely owes something to the media revolution. Learning a ballet from a screen, or even using film or video as a memory aid, can be disorienting and misleading. First, the dancer sees the ballet—a live three-dimensional form—as a two-dimensional image. Then she must transpose the flat, already diminished steps in mirror image, thus adding another layer of distance between the dancer and the dance. Moreover, the assumption that the film is true can be its own nemesis—rather like seeing the movie before reading the book: once the image of a performance is fixed in the mind’s eye, it is harder to imagine the ballet performed differently. Nor does video distinguish accidents and mistakes, idiosyncrasies and departures. Not surprisingly, some directors are using screens more sparingly, wary of closing off possibilities and encouraging the idea that the dance text is inflexible or fixed.

We are left with a paradox. We revere great ballets; we know—we remember—that ballet can be, as the critic Arlene Croce once put it, “our civilization.” Yet inside today’s brand-new theaters a tradition is in crisis, unfocused and uncertain. We all know it; we talk reassuringly of patience and waiting, of safeguarding the past until the next genius comes along and lifts ballet’s fallen angel’s back into the sky. But the problem may run deeper. The old ballets look flat and depressed because the new ones do. If today’s ballets are mere shells, the reason may be that we no longer fully believe in them. We linger and hark back, shrouding ourselves in tradition and the past for good reason. Something important really is over. We are in mourning.

Classical ballet has always been an art of belief. It does not fare well in cynical times. It is an art of high ideals and self-control in which proportion and grace stand for an inner truth and elevated state of being. Ballet, moreover, is an etiquette as much as an art, layered with centuries of courtly conventions and codes of civility and politeness. This does not mean, however, that it is static. To the contrary, we have seen that when societies that nourished ballet changed or collapsed—as they did in the years around the French and Russian Revolutions—marks of the struggle were registered in the art.

That ballet could change from an aristocratic court art to one which captured a new bourgeois ethic; from pomp and ceremony to the inner world of dreams; and from Louis XIV to Taglioni, from Nijinsky to Fonteyn: this is a sign of its flexibility and malleability, and of its innovative character. Ballet has always and above all contained the idea of human transformation, the conviction that human beings could remake themselves in another, more perfect or divine image. It is this mixture of established social forms and radical human potential which has given the art such range, and which accounts for its prominence in otherwise divergent political cultures.

Today we no longer believe in ballet’s ideals. We are skeptical of elitism and skill, which seem to us exclusionary and divisive. Those privileged enough to obtain specialized training, so this thinking goes, should not be elevated above those with limited access to knowledge or art. We want to expand and include: we are all dancers now. Ballet’s fine manners and implicitly aristocratic airs, its white swans, regal splendor, and beautiful women on pointe (pedestals), seem woefully outmoded, the province of dead white men and society ladies in long-ago places.

Even the idea of a high art for the people and the twentieth-century ambition, lived out in different ways across Russia and the West, to open the gates of elite culture to a larger society has now stalled. Once again, as under Louis XIV, ballet is a privilege or private right largely reserved for connoisseurs and the wealthy. Tickets everywhere are costly; queues rarely form around the theater. In a small but telling departure, the New York State Theater, named for the people it served, was recently rechristened: it is now the David H. Koch Theater, for the millionaire whose ego and resources substitute for the public good. (Balanchine had seen it coming: “après moi, le board.” This is of course not a new story: Balanchine also played lavishly to patrons. But then the tone was ironic and the dances superlative; now they are not.

As for the people, they have been forgotten. Not only in boardrooms preoccupied with the next gala, but by scholars, critics, and writers. Dance today has shrunk into a recondite world of hyper specialists and balletomanes, insiders who talk to each other (often in impenetrable theory-laden prose) and ignore the public. The result is a regrettable disconnect: most people today do not feel they “know enough” to judge a dance.

The fragmentation and compartmentalization of culture do not help. We have grown accustomed to living in multiple private dimensions, virtual worlds sealed in ether: myspace, mymusic, mylife. These worlds may be global and simultaneous, but they are by nature disembodied and detached. They are also fractured, niche environments and virtual “communities” based on narrow personal affinities rather than broad common values. Nothing could be further from the public, physically concrete, and sensual world of dance.

I grew up with ballet and have devoted my life to studying, dancing, seeing, and understanding it. I have always loved watching it. When I first began work on this book, I imagined it would end on a positive note. But in recent years I have found going to the ballet increasingly dispiriting. With depressingly few exceptions, performances are dull and lack vitality; theaters feel haunted and audiences seem blasé. After years of trying to convince myself otherwise, I now feel sure that ballet is dying. The occasional glimmer of a good performance or a fine dancer is not a ray of future hope but the last glow of a dying ember, and our intense preoccupation with re-creating history is more than a momentary diversion: we are watching ballet go, documenting its past and its passing before it fades altogether.

Could the decline be reversed? It is hard to see how. In western Europe and America ballet no longer holds a prominent place. The world of dance, moreover, is increasingly polarized: ballet is becoming ever more conservative and conventional, while contemporary experimental dance is retreating to the fringes of inaccessible avant-garde. The middle ground, where I first encountered ballet, is small and shrinking. In Russia and the former Soviet bloc ballet has greater stature: it still matters there more than anywhere else in the world. But there too, for different reasons, dance is polarized. Ballet represents the memory of a repressive and conformist Soviet state, and as a result, artists eager to embrace newfound freedoms have embraced the Western dance avant-garde (prohibited under the Soviets). Once again, the middle ground lies vacant.

For classical ballet to recover its standing as a major art would thus require more than resources and talent (the “next genius”). Honor and decorum, civility and taste would have to make a comeback. We would have to admire ballet again, not only as an impressive athletic display but as a set up ethical principles. Our contemporary infatuation with instability and fragmentation, with false pomp and sentiment, would have to give way to more confident beliefs. If that sounds conservative, perhaps it is; ballet has always been an art of order, hierarchy and tradition. But rigor and discipline are the basis for all truly radical art, and the rules, limits, and rituals of ballet have been the point of departure for its most liberating and iconoclastic achievements.

If we are lucky, I am wrong and classical ballet is not dying but falling instead into a deep sleep to be reawakened—like the Sleeping Beauty—by a new generation. The history of ballet, after all, abounds in spirits and ghosts, in hundred-year silences and half-remembered dreams, and The Sleeping Beauty has been its most constant companion and metaphor. At every important juncture, Beauty has been there: in the court of Louis XIV where ballet formally began; in late nineteenth-century St. Petersburg where Petipa, Tchaikovsky, and Vsevolozhsky awakened and elevated it to new heights; in the imaginations of Diaghilev and Stravinsky in 1921 as they clung to their own fast-receding past; and in the mind of Maynard Keynes as he sought to usher Britain back from war to civilization. The Soviets leaned on Beauty too, and George Balanchine began and ended his life with the ballet: Beauty was his debut performance as a child in Imperial St. Petersburg and his final dream at the New York City Ballet.

If artists do find a way to reawaken this sleeping art, history suggests that the kiss may not come from one of ballet’s own princes but from an unexpected guest from the outside—from popular culture or from theater, music, or art; from artists or places foreign to the tradition who find new reasons to believe in ballet.

But Beauty is not only about sleep and awakening, the court and classical ballet; it also tells of fragility and breaks in tradition—of sleep that may not wake. Over the past two decades ballet has come to resemble a dying language. Apollo and his angles are understood and appreciated by a shrinking circle of old believers in a closed corner of culture. The story—our story—may be coming to a close.

Jennifer Homans is The New Republic's dance critic. The following is an excerpt from her new book, Apollo's Angels: A History of Ballet, which has just been published by Random House.

Personal comment: I’m as pessimistic as Jennifer Homans about the future of ballet, but for different reasons. That’s because it takes an open enquiring mind and determination to train as a classical dancer or choreographer and today with the availability of personal electronics with Facebook, MySpace, Twitter etc social media can be a huge distraction. And the rise of the political Cable channels, Fox and MSNBC are fragmenting society, keeping us contained within affinity groups where we hear only what we want to believe is true rather than having real world interactions. So far fewer people are thinking for themselves these days. This is luring away from the arts young adults who will be producing and raising the next generation of potential ballet students.

I think Homans ballet career occurred at the height of the ballet craze in the U.S. in the 1970s which was at an unsustainable level then. In the 60s and 70s Balanchine was not universally revered as he (seemingly) is today. There were a lot of conservative old-line classical companies whose backers were very upset because Balanchine and his neo-classical choreography was getting the recognition, and the financial backing he did then. Whether Ratmansky and Wheeldon, to mention two relatively new choreographers and others yet unknown will be able to bring new energy to ballets only time will tell. My concern is if there will be enough talented dancers and audiences willing to pay to see them perform.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pointe shoe quiz November 16, 2010

Who is the maker of this dancers pointes?

An easy quiz to make up for the last one.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

1950s Cosplay pregnancies

A Reflexions flat spring diaphragm & its introducer

Ballet Cosplay and pregnancy: There have been some unintended pregnancies among the UNLV cosplay women. In my entry for October 18th 2010 entitled ‘Ballet Cosplay & Horizontal Academics’ I discussed helping Taryn’s friend in a UNLV Cosplay club train for some 1950s ballet role playing involving pointe shoes and sex using female barrier birth control devices available in the 1950s.

The girls I coached have now debuted in femme fatale and ingénue ballet roles and been very successful in their portrayals of 1950s ballet dancers (Moira Shearer, Zizi Jeanmaire, Cyd Charisse and Leslie Caron) and well protected by their latex Reflexions flat spring diaphragms. However, two of the more senior members of the sorority’s cosplay club who had been the most verbally abusive weren’t as well protected and found themselves pregnant just after my October 18th entry. Male UNLV cosplay partners are not required to use condoms – in keeping with the dislike of them by men and the more subservient social position of women 60 years ago. And that’s come back to bite some of the most fanatically detail oriented and verbally abusive women in the group. Curiously, the ones insisting men ride bareback are the ones who found themselves with a bun in the oven and (were) very vocal about being against abortion, believing that life begins when an egg is fertilized, not after implantation in the lining of the uterus which is the medical definition of pregnancy.

An emergency call: Suddenly I’m getting an emergency call from Taryn’s friend wanting to know if I can smooth the way for discreet menstrual extractions at our clinic for the two fourth year girls who were then about six weeks preggers, because they didn’t want to go through Student Health at UNLV where their condition might become known. Getting them on the schedule wasn’t a problem and they paid for the procedures with their own credit cards. I went over to see if there was anything I could do and talked to both of them. I asked them how they felt about the right-to-choose now that they needed the option and both where in tears when admitting they had not understood what it meant to find yourself pregnant with medical or law school on the horizon, tens of thousands in student loans and no male partner for support and now, in their need, had found themselves with a total reversal of opinion and very much pro-choice. I was saddened that it had taken a personal crisis, but very pleased that two more women understood the need to have abortion available as an option.

Barrier blues: While they were waiting to be prepped for their procedures I asked what barriers they were using and both had been using three year old latex Ortho coil spring rim diaphragms. Neither of them had had a fit check since the initial fitting and both had been frequently sexually active in the intervening months and both had started an intensive training regimen for track and had lost weight and toned their bodies. So I thought that both women’s diaphragms were probably too small because of the stretching of the vagina from an active sex life and from the fact that they had both lost about fifteen pounds.

The women said they had enquired about getting new barriers since early 2009, shortly after Ortho stopped making latex diaphragms, and whoever they consulted told them, incorrectly, that latex diaphragms were no longer being made. By that time they were so involved in the cosplay community that they kept using their old barriers, since the rubber domes appeared to be in good condition with no pin-holes, thin spots or cracks in the rubber, though the latex was beginning to lose its elasticity. Continuing a very active sex life using a two to three year old latex diaphragm that hadn’t been fit checked was just asking for trouble. They lucked out for about eighteen months before testing positive for hCG when they both lost stamina and began having nausea in the mornings.

Reflexions fitting: Both extraction procedures went well and while shaken and glad the ordeal was over neither women seemed remorseful. But remorse, while in my experience not common, can occur at any time, especially when the woman has had time to think about it and been staunchly pro-life, so one or both may need therapy later on, or not. They were so newly pregnant that the size cannula used didn’t require cervical dilation which sped their recovery time. I told them both that I would personally fit them with latex diaphragms when they felt that they had recovered enough to withstand the fitting process and two weeks later they called to set up a fitting visit and asked for me as their fitter. I volunteer at the clinic on most Saturdays and do nothing but cervical barrier fittings, about ten or twelve a day on a busy day. When they came in they both looked good and accompanied each other during their fittings and asked lots of questions so I could tell whoever fitted them the first time wasn’t really into teaching their patients about how to use the barrier they were being fitted with. Both women took a Reflexions two sizes larger (a 75 mm and a 80 mm) than the ones they had originally been fitted with and with the soft coil spring rim a D two sizes too small is easy to under-thrust which completely compromises the effectiveness of the diaphragm and that is probably how they were impregnated.

Under-thrust training: I had had them bring in their old Ortho coil spring diaphragms and while each was on the exam table I asked if they would like to have a brief under-thrust lesson which we teach in the AST class at St Lucy’s. They both said yes so I had them insert their old diaphragms and then feel the gap between the anterior rim and their pubic bone. When not aroused they could get a finger between the rim and the bone with room to spare which was an obvious sign that the device was too small. Then I took a warmed silicone dildo, lubed it with Dive-Gel and while the woman was on her back with her feet in the stirrups I inserted it and then at an acute angle gently but firmly thrust it into the anterior wall of her vagina and she gasped as the chisel-head tip of the dildo pushed between her pubic bone and the rim and slid under the rim compromising her protection. I withdrew the dildo had her reseat her D and while still on the table helped her get on her hands and knees as though she was preparing to be penetrated doggie style. Then when she was ready I spread her labia and inserted the dildo, thrusting it downward this time, but not at such an acute angle because the gap between the pubic bone and the rim was wider in that position since gravity pulls the uterus and cervix deeper into her body. I immediately had the tip of the dildo under the rim again, but this time it was far less noticeable because there was a much larger gap and the thrust angle wasn’t anywhere near as acute. Then I had the second girl remount the exam table and repeated the demonstration under-thrusting with her old D inserted. All they could say was, “I had no idea!”

Then I had them both insert their new Reflections flat spring diaphragms and went through the procedure with the dildo again in both missionary and rear entry positions showing them that with a properly sized D and with the flat spring rim it was very difficult to do and it hurt when a flat spring rim was under-thrust, so now they know if they feel anything like that during an encounter they should use their safe word and stop the scenario that is being acted out while they check their protection.

The Sorority and latex fetish: While they were in the exam room the women, who are also sorority officers in addition to running the cosplay group asked what I thought about the sorority becoming involved with a local latex fetish group. That sort of thing wouldn’t be approved by the UNLV administration (if they knew about it) so I recommended they do nothing to raise the school’s or public’s awareness of their interest in latex as a fetish.

I advised them to start small with a sorority based latex fixation group. That way they can control the rules, membership and male guests. If they try to affiliate with a local Vegas fetish group they will find themselves relegated to being prey for local Alpha males. Not that that might not be fun if you are a Sub, but being at the bottom of the food chain is a very bad place for a group of young inexperienced women to start.

I passed on to Taryn’s friend and her circle that the sorority officers are considering starting a latex fetish group and was told that there were already signs of a serious interest in latex especially in the “rotten rubber” stench aspect of latex diaphragms left inserted for more that twenty-four hours. So the sorority’s member’s interests are beginning to expand into more kinky areas and she asked if they started a latex fetish group would I be willing to be an advisor. I agreed as that would give me a renewable source of candidates in their twenties for some fetish projects I have in mind.

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Powys , Wales, United Kingdom
I'm a classically trained dancer and SAB grad. A Dance Captain and go-to girl overseeing high-roller entertainment for a major casino/resort