Pluck a clever, peripherally observant, and beautiful woman from the world. Literally any part of the world—far or near, rich or rare, physical or internet. A skyward follower count is not a determinant for selection. Ask her a set of questions that invite a discussion of sexuality, sensuality, modern feminism, career, and creativity, explored through her very personal lens. Have her answer them. And there you have it: that’s In Touch, a Par Femme segment, assembled, for you, with pleasure. This week, Tammi Ireland talks to your new favourite motoring journalist, Noelle Faulkner.
Have you ever read an article and wondered how it so eloquently put your curious thoughts into words, better than you ever could have? This is how we feel about Noelle Faulkner, a lifestyle, culture, and motoring writer with hedonistic tendencies. BARE Sexology’s Tammi Ireland sat down with Noelle to discuss dating (as a woman, a traveller, a millennial), driving, and down-right debauchery.
You write about travel, tech, music, arts, culture, futurist stuff, people, and motoring. What do you bring to that last field as a woman?
I cut my teeth working as an editor at fashion magazines, certainly not the path most motoring journalists take, so I’ve had to learn a lot (and still am). But I've loved cars from a very young age—all the women in my family do. My grandmother taught all the housewives on her street to drive and she famously used to hoon around in sports cars (most famously a white targa MR2), so I'll always credit her for my love of pop-up headlights. One of the first driving lessons my mum gave me when I was 16 was on the art of rev matching... so cars have always been there. Like you said, I stretch myself across many beats, so I'm always looking at the peripheries and Venn diagrams of how things collide. It's probably fair to say my take on motoring might look a bit more outwards from the industry and into the zeitgeist and cultural relevance. I am, however, totally besotted with global car culture. Maybe being a woman means I have more emotion in my writing? I'm not sure. But it does lend me to thinking about things in a divergent way to my male colleagues. Being thrown in the deep end a number of times, I've really noticed the differences between how men and women digest information. They're subtle, but they're there.
That amazing job offers you the opportunity to drive the fastest, most expensive cars as research. What’s the link between the adrenaline of putting the pedal to the metal and having an orgasm?
Increased heart rate, dilated pupils, intense cravings/addiction, and a heady rush accelerated by an acute awareness of the senses with refined control.
Is sex in the back seat of a car everything it’s made out to be in film?
It’s certainly as sweaty as it’s made out to be in film, à la Titanic.
Which seat would be best?
So here’s my theory: Europeans have traditionally designed the exterior of cars with heightened erotic intent and a seductive femininity. Whereas [with] Americans, the pulsating, bubbling sexual intent is still there, it's just hidden, or rather implied elsewhere on/in the car or its peripheral culture (bar some Euro-inspired models like the Ford GT40 and Corvette Stingray). I mean, we all know the connotations of muscle cars, right? (Side note: I'm deliberately skipping over the Japanese aesthetic/car culture here, which is less erotic and more practical, traditionally speaking.) So to answer your question, all-American classics like Ford Broncos or Chevy Impalas—with their wide bench seats, shallow dashboards, and lack of centre console gear sticks—are quintessential down-and-dirty rides. However, one can get quite imaginative with the body curvature of something out of a Bertone or Pininfarina design house...
What does sensuality mean to you?
It’s the elixir. I’m a hedonist—I can’t help myself.
Your piece for Side-Note on millennial intimacy is one of my favourite comments on modern dating. What inspired it?
A lot of research, notes, and way too many shower thoughts. I prefer to bury myself in my writing and am not really into revealing my cards. But there were droplets of me and my experiences in that piece. I’m fascinated with the psychological aspect of how dating apps are developed like card games, that false hope of matching with someone better on the next swipe being part of the problem. One of my favourite things to do, and I do this when I travel, too, is to sit at a bar and people-watch. I love observing human dynamics. You’d be surprised (or maybe not) how many men and women on dates around the world can’t go five minutes without a hit and start swiping as soon as the other person leaves the table for a moment. So the idea of modern dating manifesting as cheap gluttony served as the backbone for this piece.
The other part was more personal. I’ve had fleeting romances on the road and in other time zones, and sadly, the by-product of such connections (aside from falling for someone in another hemisphere) is building or becoming some kind of fantasy. So there were thoughts on that, because it can be a total headfuck. I think, for a lot of people of my generation, fantasy carries more weight than reality. Modern dating perpetuates it, and often it backfires and makes us lonelier. The dynamics of how we communicate, coupled with human desire and yearning for intimacy, fascinate me. Not to mention how we find ways to fabricate it... What do you think women can do to increase our agency in the modern dating world?
Don’t. Ignore. Red. Flags. Also, U-N-D-E-R-T-H-I-N-K.What do you love about travelling overseas?
Escapism, anonymity, sensuality, the unfamiliar, and the unknown. Things that, when combined, are sometimes good and sometimes a curse because I'll pretty much try anything once without second thoughts. To be honest, chaos is my natural state, so I think that suits the freelance lifestyle and last-minuteness of travel for work. Your work also sends you to so many places. Tell me about #lonelygirlsinhotels.
Ha. Well, brattiness aside (and I'm well aware of the privilege my work lends me), it really just started as a bit of a joke. It was just me being sarcastic and rolling my eyes, like “Oh, here I am again in my giant five-star bed that is covered in rose petals, with sunrise water views, completely alone!” I mean, it’s a bit of a ridiculous existence, no? I haven’t spent 30 straight days at home in over two years now. Most of that has been solo, so you can imagine how that might affect my relationships. #lonelygirlsinhotels was just a wry thing I started doing, kind of a play on the whole Instagram vs. reality thing.
What’s the best hotel you’ve stayed in so far? Any you’re dying to visit?
I have stayed in some incredible places, from chic resorts to penthouses that come with a private butler and personalised calling cards with your direct line and room number for you to give to people while in town (that was kind of spy-sexy, admittedly). I've become pretty savvy at calling bullshit on hotels held up by their ancient reputations as well as clocking luxury hotel fails. For example, one of my biggest twitches is when a hotel doesn’t have a full-length mirror. That’s when you know a man designed the room. I think Soho House does great things, as does Small Luxury Hotels. I recently reviewed Villa Spalletti Trivelli and I really, really loved that property.
Professional brat perks aside, personally speaking, I don't care all that much for big, bustling hotels and resorts. I'm attracted to things that are a lot more intimate than that. A little vintage airstream I rented on a ranch in Joshua Tree, California with just the stars, the coyotes, my little silver toaster and I; The Lautner, a small mid-century-designed boutique hotel built into the ground and surrounded by desert flora like a terrarium in Desert Hot Springs, California; a dinky room in an old castle/monastery atop a cliff face in Ischia on the Amalfi Coast that had bare bones but sweeping oceanic views (which I can't take credit for finding—my friend found that one). When given the choice, I’ll always choose nature, thoughtfulness, and intimacy over cotton count flounce. Your Spotify playlists are pretty epic. Which should we listen to when getting down?
I think there'll be something in one these playlists that might help with mood: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Prince, Sade, The Weeknd, Savages, Kyuss, Bill Withers, Massive Attack, FKA twigs, DARKSIDE, D’Angelo, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds... A good bass line combined with a visceral artist usually does the trick.
Playlists:velvettearssummerinautumn/daydrunkatnightbeadsofjamesonharderPar Femme means "by woman." Which female writers inspire you?
Joan Didion for her gaze, Patricia Highsmith for being able to change the temperature of a room, Anaïs Nin for her treacle-like sensuality, Sylvia Plath for her duality and darkness, Durga Chew-Bose for her millennial anxieties, Taffy Brodesser-Akner for her wry profiles, Virginia Woolf for A Room of One’s Own
, and Italian Renaissance poet and courtesan, Veronica Franco, for her smarts and love of pleasure.Interview by Tammi Ireland of BARE Sexology. Follow Noelle on Instagram.