As far as human pursuits go, surely pleasure is one deserving of panoramic application. Smear pleasure all the way to the outer rims of your life; the edges, the corners. Is there any good reason to lump it all in one place?
New York-based art director, stylist, and designer, Ana Ifould, is one such believer in this pervasive kind of pleasure. Double Disco—Ana’s recent jewellery venture—is steered by intuition rather than schema or syllabus, coursing with feeling over foresight. Absent from the brand’s raison d'être are elements of intellectualisation or embellishment (after all, such is the role of her jewellery). And, after all, not every creation requires granular deconstruction by its creator, each whim and speckle of inspiration accounted for. Again, whatever feels good.
For Ana, the premise extends, too, down a more literal axis: erotic literature. We spoke with her about titillating written material and her all-encompassing pleasure paradigm.
Tell me about the genesis of Double Disco.
Double Disco started at the very end of last year, with a launch in February 2016. The reason was actually so I could do something creative for myself again that didn’t mean sinking a huge amount of capital into a project in the early stages, and to make something accessible to anyone who wanted it. I started off making earrings, then gave them to some friends, then people liked them, so I sort of made a little plan to give specific people earrings, and they loved them, so I made some more, shot them in my bedroom, got my friend Benedict to take some photos, and then made a website.
When I’m not working on DD, I’m still busting my ass for other people to pay the bills, making food, working out why my jun scoby now grows babies when it never has before, making sure I have people to dinner once a week, and thinking about how to buy this treehouse I am obsessed with upstate in New York.
What, if anything, makes jewellery special?
What I like about jewellery is much the same as what I like when you see someone dance. You get another piece of that person; it always makes a little bit more sense when you see someone dance, the same way it does when you see the way someone embellishes themselves. Plus, there’s something totally romantic about jewellery. You ask someone, “Oh wow, where did you get that ring?” and often you get some great story about how the person came into possession of it.
Ears are said to be the seventh most erogenous zone for women, with lots and lots of nerve endings. Where else can we go with ears?
I guess I can tell you about mine and that they don’t work very well because I spent so much time underwater as a kid, which stimulated the bone to grow abnormally and resulted in my now-terrible hearing. All those tiny hairs in there vibrating to send a signal to your brain which makes us register a sound and put a name or a memory to that—that’s cool. And that when you ear candle it makes you realise why ear wax is called ear wax.
There are devoted parlours in Japan for ‘mimi souji’ (ear cleaning), as well as couples that engage in recreational ear cleaning, which spills into the realm of fetishism. Do you care to describe something you find sexy that might surprise people?
I like the straight-up sexy stuff—old Playboy magazines, how someone moves their mouth, how willing they are to play the game, wearing your boyfriend’s unwashed T-shirt smelling of sex, cigarettes, and sweat, knowing that you stink and getting to daydream on the train about something hot they did to you.
I know you’re into erotic literature, a category with serious breadth. How to disentangle the good from the terrible?
It's personal taste, so maybe my good is someone else's terrible, so disentangling it is a tricky one. I like erotica, but if it’s a photographer I’m drawn to, it can be the novels or the stories that accompany. The stuff I like was written a while ago: I like Georges Bataille, and the pictures I like are more the funny old Chinese or Indian illustrative sexy stuff. [I also like] the vibe of photographer Carlos Mollino, mainly because he was an architect, and then someone discovered his box of nude photos. I like letters, and I guess in terms of classics you can find dirtier stuff that was printed quite easily. The old films I like are amazing visually, but half the time I end up falling asleep because they are long and don’t make much sense. Regarding the internet—it’s pretty easy to find whatever you’re looking for when you know what you’re after. Same as buying fake handbags or other illegal stuff—just go to the spot you know where to get it, sometimes you accidentally find yourself in a place that you maybe shouldn’t be. But maybe someone in that spot is going to have real Chanel!
If advising curious newcomers to the sport (of erotica), where might you direct them?
Start here: Acephale [a public review and secret society forged by Georges Bataille, active 1936–1939], which gets you to Georges Bataille’s girlfriend, Justine Frank [and her novel, Sweet Sweat]. Lots of the books written a while ago about erotica get heavy into Catholicism, but Justine Frank was Jewish, and her stuff is way more brutal and sort of comical.
I'm reading The Sexual Life of Catherine M at the moment, which is very unapologetic. The protagonist recounts her many orgies (each a partouze) with no glimmer of shame—despite shame often being an anchoring theme for female-authored erotica. The story itself has holes and is a little insipid, but I do appreciate the brazen ownership with which she tells it. Regarding Sweet Sweat, what qualities does her protagonist have?
In the beginning, the protagonist, Rachel, is just a curious young girl shrouded by her Jewish religion and village life. She sees sex in everything, from the older men’s hats to a pebble on the ground. Basically she’s a young girl that is so ready to be sexually adventurous (you know, there was always one of those girls in primary school. The teachers can see it but all the kids are just weirdly drawn to them); she then gets to take those thoughts and push them into real life sexual extremity through meeting the Count. She’s grotesque sometimes, an accomplice sometimes, submissive, then the instigator. She is kind of dark, manipulative, and fascinating in this young girl-like way—they know exactly what they are doing but are still completely vulnerable.
Gloria Steinhem says, "Though both erotica and pornography refer to verbal or pictorial representations of sexual behaviour, they are as different as a room with doors open and one with doors locked. The first might be a home, but the second could only be a prison.”
People have different interests and the more you dig, the wilder and more varied you realise our tastes are.
Is it coincidental that some of your earrings are named 'BJ' and 'Bush'?
BJ and Bush come from looking at Bianca Jagger and Kate Bush—women I’m drawn to aesthetically. But sometimes our brains want to tell us different things. BJs and bushes are on everyone’s mind, so it’s not hard to figure the double up on these two. It’s fun to find innuendo and it means I’m kind of doing my job in more ways than one.
Those women are two very different kinds of sexy. On par, but contrary. In 30 years’ time, which women of right now should have earrings named for them?
Girls who should have earrings named after them in 30 years’ time: all my powerful female friends who are killing it. Next collection: not in 30 years’ time.
What is your idea of pleasure?
Knowing that even if none of it lasts past this one day, you’ve always got this memory. That’s pure pleasure to me. Wake up, vacuum nude with playlist #81 on, drink coffee, look around to see some sleepy person watching you still in bed, they give you that one nod and you’re straight back in. Have the type of sex that makes your eyes roll back and your back arch like it never has before. Eat cheese for breakfast, drive to the beach. Jump off the rocks, don’t shower, drink cold red wine in some weird place. An afternoon nap. Make some pesto, wear some weird underwear under a big dress that no one knows about. Go dancing, make out, sleep.
Read Pleasure Centre: Squirting And How To Master It.