Going to Bed with Caroline Vreeland: Capturing Fantasies on Film

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Going to Bed with Caroline Vreeland is a new column on CR about everything between the bedsheets and more. Have a question? Comment? Flirty note? Email CV at online[at]crfashionbook.com.

In this digital age there is literally nothing I wouldn’t film. Someone else’s wedding, meeting a friend’s new baby, trying on outfits, eating my pasta. What’s scarier, is I’ve developed this need—nay an obligation—to film everything that happens. My friends and I will turn to each other laughing, saying „If you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen!” With all of us silently wondering if the other is fully serious or slightly joking.

Recently I spoke to a friend of mine who—among exploring his other fantasies including threesomes with men or women—likes to film his encounters. Now don’t get to thinking about the Sex and the City episode where Samantha is filmed without her knowledge. My friend, who we will call Jamie, loves and respects women, considers himself a romantic, and would never film one of these special occasions without consent. Jamie described how this type of subject could come up during intercourse: “I’m a very visual person. While someone is going down on me, for instance, I will just see how cinematic and wonderful it all looks. I’ll say to her, ‘You’ve got to see this: how beautiful you look. Do you mind if I film it, to show you? We can do it on your phone, and if you feel comfortable, you can send it to me.’” Imagining how I might react to such a request, I asked him if a lot of women turned this down, and he said I would be surprised how often they reacted fondly to it. This may just be indicative of Jamie’s infectious personality and charm; he’s the guy who’s always super friendly and can light up a room.

I asked Jamie how he became so open. “Ok, I know it sounds corny but it’s actually because I read a quote by a monk that really spoke to me: ‘You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.’ Once the weight of this truth hit me and clicked into my life, my whole world became better. I knew that implementing this would in turn make me free. I finally had nothing to hide.”

Although I haven’t personally indulged in this medium of art (if you will), I do think that, among safe and trustworthy lovers, it can be done in a fun way, as an expression of one’s sexual self. After all, in order to live in a censored and civilized world, one needs to find healthy outlets for their repressed desires. If we can’t do this, I fear mere mortals could snap on someone, whether it be a forced sexual act or things much harsher. This speaks to one of the literary references I’ve always loved from Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. “We don’t like to admit it, but the idea of losing control is one that fascinates controlled people such as ourselves more than almost anything. All truly civilized people—the ancients no less than us—have civilized themselves through the willful repression of the old, animal self…because it is dangerous to ignore the existence of the irrational. The more cultivated a person is, the more intelligent and the more repressed, then the more he needs some method of channeling the primitive impulses he’s worked so hard to subdue. Otherwise, those powerful old forces will amass and strengthen until they are violent enough to break free, more violent for the delay, often strong enough to sweep the will away entirely.”

Videos of sexual art have taken other, more extreme forms, such as the work of Emma Sulkowicz, who shows in one of her works an act of sex with a man which at first seems consensual and then turns rough, with her left whimpering in pain. After the video, Sulkowicz prompts the viewer with these questions: “How well do you think you know me? Have we ever met? Do you think I’m the perfect victim or the world’s worst victim? Do you refuse to see me as either a human being or a victim? If so, why? Is it to deny me agency and thus further victimize me? If so, what do you think of the fact that you owe your ability to do so to me, since I’m the one who took a risk and made myself vulnerable in the first place? Do you hate me? If so, how does it feel to hate me?”

I’m learning now that using a filmed sexual act can be something unique and beautiful, just for the people involved to remember the beauty of their encounter not just replayed in their minds but actually captured tangibly for revisiting. Or it can be used to make a larger statement, like Emma’s questions.

Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if some things should remain sacred. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually not film something for once? Just let it happen and let the magic of it be something that can slip away only into the memories of those involved? To be remembered and even slightly edited in the mind, as we humans so often tend to do with facts? Maybe even retold with new details; a new vigor, not unlike Diana Vreeland’s unique method of spicing up her storytelling which she coined as “faction: half fact, half fiction.” Even in this digital age, in which big celebrities, who literally rose to fame/infamy because of their sex videos, are finding this initial reason for their fame is fading into the background. The public is desensitized; we’re not appalled by this anymore. These celebrities have created empires upon empires built from those videos. Now we praise them and put them on the cover of Forbes.

So would you film yourself during sex? For art or otherwise? Would you take the risk? Personally, I love being able lose myself in sexual abandon and I love even more the idea of being able to watch and study my sex after the fact. I’m in a constant state of trying to understand who I am, and I believe it would be a spiritual experience to see myself coming undone in exultation, in ecstasy. The reality, however, is that I’ve chosen to live a pretty public life, and I want to keep just this one thing private, for now.

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createdAt:Mon, 27 Aug 2018 19:12:44 +0000
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