The book offers an up-close look at people who distance themselves, and asks why, in a seemingly overly sexual society, do we still shy away from conversations About self pleasure?
Grooming, flicking, bishop bashing, throwing yourself, hitting meat, digging for oysters, blistering oysters, snake charmers – these are just a few of the colorful hiccups when opening London VagabondThe latest book that explores masturbation in current sexual culture. poetic sounding Oyster cream, snake charm It became the title of the book – Exposing the many taboos and code words surrounding our actions for self-pleasure. It begs the question: Why, in our seemingly hypersexual society, do we still shy away from being open and honest about masturbation?
The London Vagabond are two London-based artists and romantic partners by the name of Gold and Cummings. With individual backgrounds in the art, together they are best known for documenting the kink, BDSM, and Fits communities, and their endearing quest to capture the most earnest, authentic, and seasoned expressions of desire, power sharing, and prickly pleasure. Working with Polaroids, film photography, and videography, they have mostly put their work into book form – the best way to avoid internet censorship and celebrate their transition to analog media. Oyster cream, snake charm It is their first book that explores a specific topic rather than one that stems from their artistic practices and sexuality. The reason is: The past few years have been a very special time to masturbate.
The idea for the book appeared in 2021, when Gould had a conversation with an old friend bobby scarlettFun nanny who runs a sex toy store Self and more. The conversation quickly turned to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact many lockdowns have had on our sexuality: Depriving us of human contact, many of us have found new solace, self-discovery, and a cure for boredom in masturbation. Gold and Scarlett together made a call to people who would like to have their picture taken while they are at it.
“Our job was to explore masturbation as deeply as the contributors feel comfortable. We wanted to understand what people had in mind when they touched themselves, and we were interested in their relationship to subjective pleasure and how this has evolved over the years or during the pandemic,” Gold explains. “There are many different ways in which one pleases oneself and many places to make a solo show; using toys and fingers in the public toilet, in bed, watching pornography and after reading erotic literature, in the car, in church, while texting a loved one.”
The couple was open to all circumstances, as long as those involved were safe and whatever happened was completely consensual. “We wanted a raw, real representation of masturbation: showers, using toys, people wearing clothes, all body types, including disabled bodies and people with dark skin, people who haven’t reached climax, beds, tall and fancy ones,” Gould adds.
“One of the reasons I was so excited to contribute to this work is to help document masturbation as an activity of concern,” says Bobby. “The reality of this time period during the pandemic has been that so many of us have been so distracted by our sex-starved bodies that we have spent hours sending sex messages to lovers and strangers from dating apps, relentlessly adding to the hidden folder on our iPhones and grabbing what’s next. Which will be inserted in our holes will be. I think this is a particularly real part of the masturbation story and I am glad I undo it endlessly.”
“We wanted a raw and real representation of masturbation: showers, use of toys, people who dress, all body types, including disabled bodies and people of color, people who haven’t reached climax, the bed, the tall, the fancy ones” – London Vagabond
The result is a beautiful, wild, and unabashedly honest ride. Comprised of written submissions and photography, it is a truly intimate insight into the pivotal role that subjective pleasure plays in our sexuality. Furthermore, seeing facial expressions, bodies, and postures makes one realize that there is probably not enough real representation of masturbation there. We may still be bound by mainstream patriarchal visual culture and outdated sex education – and it’s time to trade it in for something more sympathetic and festive.
“The beauty of self-love is that no one likes it and no one else is happy to think of it but you. It is selfish. Everything is expendable. There is no assumption that you will ejaculate and there is no pressure to fake an orgasm, nor is it expected to last forever or end quickly. Gold says. “This series was very insightful, not just through the photos we took but through the writing that was submitted for publication. I never thought of masturbation as a form of ‘self-care’, and I never thought of myself as a ‘darling.’ This may not apply expressions on me, but it sparked a thought process about what masturbation could mean.”
The book is technically private, but also as a documentation of sexuality in the current era – reinforced by the vulnerability and openness of everyone who contributed through filming or through submissions. Who knew that such a solitary activity could provide such a warm feeling of sharing something with other people?
“The average person doesn’t often get the chance to watch how other people masturbate. The positions they do, the toys they use, the way they handle trash, the look on their faces when it climaxes,” Scarlett adds. “I am so excited about this project because of Raw sexual expression given by subjects to The London Vagabond. It is a special feeling to see such diversity and vulnerabilities so generously presented by the participants.”
Oyster cream, snake charmer is out now. Get your copy over here.