Par Femme Book Club: Double Disco's Ana Ifould

by Par Femme

Welcome to our Par Femme Book Club: a safe space for well-read women to reveal the titillating, back-arching, lascivious literature that's been ruling their worlds. This week's selection was curated by Double Disco founder, Ana Ifould. Happy reading!

1. The Erotic Mind by Jack Morin

This is more of a reflection on learning where our erotic behaviour comes from, starting at childhood and looking at how those experiences shape our Eros. Jack Morin is a psychotherapist, and the book delves into the beginnings of where our erotic behaviour and desires stem from—why some of us are into kink, why some of us want to be needed, where the Madonna/whore complex comes from. It’s really interesting when you know a bunch about yourself and what you’re into, as well as intimate details about people who are in your life, and if you’re interested in learning more about why your partner does or doesn’t like certain things (without having to get to the bottom of what happened in their childhood!). It’s also an amazing reflection on parenting that makes me think about how much we shape those small creatures we bring into our lives from everything down to how they end up fuelling their erotic desires, fantasies, and bedroom behaviour. If your partner has an intense relationship with his or her mother, get reading!

2. Sweet Sweat by Justine Frank
If you like Georges Bataille and that whole French erotic scene, this is a great insight into a wild female character of the time. I always thought Justine Frank was Georges Bataille’s girlfriend (she had a brief affair with him but was ousted by the scene for being too weird). Sweet Sweat is probably one of the dirtier erotic novels, and it was written by a woman. Instead of the prominent Catholic symbols often woven through these types of books, Frank dots in her Jewish background in the filthiest way. You can smell the filth: pimples, throbbing pubis, stench, orgies, counts, cunts in underarms—it’s like a surrealist orgy dream, written in 1931. The introduction by Roee Rosen is fascinating, about how Frank’s life unfolded and the mystery that surrounds her death. There are inclusions of Frank’s beautiful watercolour drawings. An erotic alphabettakes on posters of the time that she repainted with Jewish and other political comments. It’s a great present if you want to talk about sex and symbolism. Leave a couple of pages open and you’re guaranteed a sexy message from your lover. Plus, the art direction of the book is really beautiful.

3. The Sexual Life of Catherine M by Catherine Millet
An amazing excerpt from French art critic Catherine Millet’s real-life sexual adventure. She’s fearless in how she pursues her desire. Gang bangs, swingers clubs. Relationships with friends, other well-to-do people, and critics. There’s a lot of sex, and it feels like Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac definitely drew likes in capturing the insatiable sexual appetite of Joe in similar ways to those that Catherine works through in this book. All sorts of sex in all countries, in sometimes mundane situations, and then in picture fantasy ones, too. Powerful female desire and erotic behaviour on every page.

4. The State of Affairs by Esther Perel
You probably know Esther Perel from her TED Talks: rethinking infidelity, the secret to desire in a long-term relationship etc. She wrote Mating in Captivity, and this is her latest book. It’s a real-life understanding of relationships (how hard and magical they can be), sex (who needs it, how we need it, how it affects our relationships), affairs, forgiveness, monogamy, polygamy, and all the sorts of things this wild world has to deal with when it comes to relationships, all coming out of her therapist's room. She explores and explains how we've morphed into a society that thinks one person can fulfill each of our needs when marriage and partnership never started out like that. It’s an easy read, relaying her patients’ stories, her advice to them as to how to work through these ideas and what to accept in a relationship. A really open, nice way to know that the idea of a “perfect relationship” (whatever that is) doesn’t actually exist. Unconditional love—are you willing to do the work?

5. After Kathy Acker by Chris Kraus
Cookie Mueller felt like the pin-up of how I imagined downtown New York to be when all the grime was still on the streets in the early 70s and 80s. Kathy Acker is the art version of this. A feminist artist with a wild sexual appetite and total softness for falling in love, writing openly about it, and then performing it! STDs, live sex shows—New York’s midtown in the late 80s and 90s is described just as you would imagine. It’s art, it’s lofts with no sheets, it’s no money, it’s sex work, it’s moving to San Francisco and back again, all told by Chris Kraus (author of I Love Dick). Kathy Acker has a multitude of lovers—names you’ll want to Google search because you’ve definitely heard them before. It feels like you’re reading about your parents’ friend who was wild and came to dinner every now and again, and as a kid you wanted to know way more than you needed to about the stories that were being told while you were meant to be asleep. If you want to immerse yourself in a rabbit hole of just-under-the-surface pop culture, great art references with sex thrown in, and wild antics of friendship and love affairs, READ.

—Ana Ifould

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