pdf - Betony Vernon
fashion editor Sascha Lilic
hair Global Creative Director
Nick Irwin for Catwalk by TIGI
makeup Linda Öhrström at Link Details
nails Jessica Hoffman at Caren using Sally Hansen
words Becky Davies
dress Vivienne Westwood Gold Label
shoes Christian Louboutin
all jewellery Betony Vernon
V E R N O N
Jewellery designer and sexual
a n t h r o p o l o g i s t B e t o n y Ve r n o n
opens up about her craft.
When Betony Vernon started crafting erotic
jewellery in 1992, she did so “in hiding”. Looking
back, she says, “The world was not quite ready for
it.” More than two decades later the red-headed
sexual anthropologist is about to launch her first
book, The Boudoir Bible, and her recently completed,
self-penetrating, marble-sculptured chair is
displayed at The Triennale Design Museum in
Milan. How times have changed. US-born, Parisbased Vernon comes to our studio for a photo
shoot, and tells us more about her work and the
philosophy behind it.
Is there any part of the body on which you shouldn’t
I think the body can be adorned from head to toe.
The Hunger: You do so many different things. Could
you talk us through your work?
Betony Vernon: It’s true. I do work in several different
mediums. I’m fascinated by human behaviour
especially when it comes to sex. I also design
furniture, and I am fascinated by space itself. I like
working with different materials; interior design
allows you to do that. Recently, I’ve worked in
marble – it’s my new love.
Do you have a favourite piece of all time?
I think my petting ring is a signature piece. The ring
forces you to do the chin mudra, which in yoga and
meditation is the gesture that is used for a pointed
mind. It heightens your presence in general. It’s
also a hand job ring, and it brings an aesthetic to
such a simple gesture.
Can you give us some examples?
I’m wearing two on my hands now [she waves her
fingers in the air]. I like the idea of [having] an object
that allows us to do something that we couldn’t
do with the body alone, so there’s a prosthetic
approach to my work. These rings actually spin
around, and provide a massage that you could
never provide with your hands alone. But they’re
also jewellery, so there’s this bifunctionality that
I’m also fascinated with in everything I do.
A designer once gave me a piece of advice: “Just
because you can get it on, it doesn’t mean it fits.”
What kind of advice would you give about sex?
The best advice that I can give about sex is to be
present with yourself and your partner – that’ll
already make you a pretty good lover.
Do you think there’s a specific thing that men get
wrong in the bedroom?
It could be that they consider female pleasure or
the evolution of female pleasure to be similar to
their own. Women take a little bit more time to
get warmed up, but once they’re warmed up they’re
unstoppable, so it’s good to learn to slow things
down. That’s one of the things I talk about in the
book: how to extend play time; therefore begin to
pump endorphins, the body’s natural love drug.
B E T O N Y
You mentioned earlier that you make jewellery for
the inside and the outside of the body.
Yes, I do. The body is my limit in many ways.
I respect the body. When you make things for the
inside of the body, you have to do that to a whole
new degree. My game and aim is to jewel the body
in general – the inside and the outside of it.
Who illustrated the book?
The book is illustrated by my dear friend, François
Berthoud, and I’m super happy with the result.
Using illustration helped me move away from
a pornographic image.
What do you think would be the most unusual place
to put on jewellery?
Well, the pieces that I make for the inside of the
body may be rather odd. I work in silver and gold
for things like dilettos and prostate stimulators,
both for men and women, and I work in silver for
Ben Wa balls. I think the body should be adorned
with the finest materials.
You’ve also made jewellery for Lady Gaga.
I made a piece for Swarovski that Lady Gaga chose
for her “Paparazzi” video. She understood it really
well – it was about being glamorous. It’s a neck
brace that keeps the head in a frontal position.
Can we talk about your sculpture/chair? Where did
the concept come from?
The Origin chair in marble is the fruit of a vision:
I was in Versilia on the Mediterranean Sea in the
marble quarries, and it just came to me. I drew it
quickly to make sure I didn’t lose it. Then when
I got back to Milan, I went to the studio and made
sure that I could actually make it happen. It’s a
piece that came from a primordial part of myself.
There’s something primitive about it, and it’s selfpenetrating. It’s a celebration of man and woman
and sex; therefore it’s the Origin chair: it’s the
origin for the soul.
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Have you put it to use yet?
The chair is finished. It’s at the Triennale Design
Museum in Milan until March. I haven’t had a
chance to try it out yet.
Where will you progress from the chair? Are you
going to add to the series?
I plan to do a series of objects in marble, and I’ll be
working on those before the book signing kicks off.
So yes, there’s more marble to come.
That leads us to The Boudoir Bible. Why did you
decide to write the book?
It was an obligation. I realised that the things I was
building and putting out there for the world are part
of an underground that is no longer underground.
In the 70s and 80s, before the internet, people were
initiated to certain practices; today that doesn’t
happen. Anyone can go online, and buy any sort
of erotic tool, whether it’s bondage gear, a whip
or a rope. These are tools that should come with
instructions, but they don’t. One of my goals is
to make sure that we don’t have front page news
about erotic play that has led to death or injury.
One should be initiated to certain techniques.
Have you actually tried everything you talk about in
the book yourself?
What about women?
I think women often make the mistake of thinking
that if they’re providing pleasure, then they’re
doing it right. They tend to do what the porn world
teaches us, which is just to make sure that your
man is getting off, and it’s done with.
Would you say you’re a romantic?
I have my moments.
What would be your perfect first date?
My perfect first date would be over a big plate of
oysters and crab, and some champagne.
Where do you consider home now?
My physical home now is Paris. My spiritual home
is Italy, and my mobile home is the world. As long
as I’ve got a friend in the city where I’m going,
I feel at home.
What have you got planned next?
My next big plan is to launch the book. I launch
in New York in February. I imagine that’s going to
take some time. In the meantime, I’ll be working on
my marble projects, and I think that will generate
other things – one thing leads to another.
Betony Vernon’s Boudoir Bible is available now.
I think we should get to know each other a lot better!
You moved to Florence at a young age.
I moved to Florence at the age of 20 to teach
goldsmithing. Being in Florence gave me the
opportunity to work with lots of different kinds
of artisans and masters of dying crafts. I was very
interested in things like enamelling, forming and
chiselling metal. So while I was teaching at such
a tender age, I was also learning a lot.