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Shock ‘n’ roll: The art of Allen Jones and sexual fetishism

“I’m a friend of Mr. Pastry/I’m a friend of Allen Jones/I’m a friend of Shirley Bassey/I’m a friend of your chromosomes” (Opening verse to ‘Friends’, song by Adam and the Ants)

It was Adam and the Ants song ‘Friends’ where I first heard the name of the British pop artist Allen Jones. The song was first officially released in 1981 as the B-side of ‘Ant Rap’ but earlier versions had been recorded for a 1978 John Peel session and during the sessions for the 1979 Dirk Wears White Sox album. The Dirk version was eventually released on the 1982 ‘Antmusic EP’ (and ended up being Adam and the Ants last single before Adam Ant went solo).

In two previous blogs, I have looked at both the psychology of Adam Ant and an in-depth look at all his songs about sexual fetishism and paraphilias (based on an academic article that I originally wrote for Headpress: The Journal of Sex, Death and Religion). In one of those articles, I noted that Adam’s predisposition towards sex came not from musical influences but from figures in the 20th century art world. Adam Ant’s final year thesis was on sexual perversion and he was inspired by the iconographic images of Andy Warhol, the autoerotic paintings of Allen Jones, the neo-sadomasochistic fantasies of Hans Bellmer, and ‘sexpop’ travellers like Eduardo Paolozzi, Francis Bacon and Stanley Spencer. In 1977, Adam said:

The S&M thing stems from (when) I was at College Art School, with John Ellis (of The Vibrators), and all the time I was at Art College I was very influenced by Allen Jones the artist. All my college work is pretty much like this, this is just a musical equivalent of what I was visually doing at college”

As a teenager I collected badges and the ones designed by Adam Ant were clearly indebted to Allen Jones’ interest in fetishism (you can check out the designs in more detail here). Others in the pop world noted this including Justine Frischmann of Elastica. In a Melody Maker article by Simon Reynolds, Frischmann noted that Adam Ant “epitomised the brilliantly elegant side of punk, using all that Allen Jones type imagery like that table which was a woman on all fours with a glass top on her back. All his paintings were developed from Fifties porn – lots of airbrushed women in black leather. The Antz used a lot of that imagery. On one level, it’s very titillating, but it’s also very pop. So we’re gonna make the next album S & M, with us all in black leather. Actually, I think Madonna‘s ruined that for everyone, ruined the concept of pervy sex forever”.

Jones (born in 1937 in Southampton, UK) is arguably Adam’s greatest single influence and has been cited by Adam in many early interviews. He is best known for his use of slick fetishistic and obsessive objects, often of a sexual character (legs, stockings, shoes, etc.) taken from pornographic and women’s fashion magazines (with rubber fetishism and BDSM themes being very prominent). He was an early and leading figure in the pop-art movement as part of the so-called “dynamic generation” at the Royal College of Art (along with David Hockney, Patrick Caulfield, Peter Phillips, and Frank Bowing), and from where he was expelled in 1960 because of his controversial paintings. He was Britain’s ‘shock art’ bad boy decades before Damien Hirst. His early work was influenced by the Futurism school or art, and by reading the psychology of Freud and Jung, as well as the philosophy of Nietzsche. One of Adam’s songs ‘Ligotage’ (French for bondage) was directly inspired by his paintings. In the Wikipedia entry on Jones, he is quoted as saying:

“I wanted to kick over the traces of what was considered acceptable in art. I wanted to find a new language for representation… to get away from the idea that figurative art was romantic, that it wasn’t tough”.

It was in the late 1960s that Jones first started sculpting what art historian Marco Livingstone describes in his 1979 book Sheer Magic by Allen Jones as “life-size images of women as furniture with fetishist and sado-masochist overtones.” The three most (in)famous works (sharing as art curator Edith Devaney argued “a visual language”) were the erotic sculptures Hat Stand, Table and Chair made of fiberglass that featured busty mannequins dressed (or rather barely dressed) in patent leather. These works were met with both acclaim and disdain both in and outside of the art world with critics perceiving the sculptures as being misogynistic. Livingstone later went on to say “these works still carry a powerful emotive charge, ensnaring every viewer’s psychology and sexual outlook regardless of age, gender or experience”. One of the better descriptions of the three pieces was by Zoe Williams of The Guardian in an article provocatively entitledIs Allen Jones’s sculpture the most sexist art ever?’:

“’Hat Stand’ is a mannequin in radial leather knickers and thigh-high boots. ‘Chair’ is the most famous of the three: a woman lies on her back, with her knees against her chest and a cushion on top of her. That’s the seat, her calves make the chair’s back. While all the clothes – black leather gloves, boots and a strap – reference bondage, she also looks dead, trussed up ready for some inept suburban disposal. ‘Table’, being topless, is more classically provocative. It would be pushing it to say the figure was adopting a more active shape, though: she’s on all fours, holding up a pane of glass with her back, her head looking down into a hand mirror. Yet the physics of the position make her look more like a doll than a corpse…Does Allen Jones’s art expose how female stereotypes are performed and maintained, by presenting us with overtly sexualised hyperboles, or is it just another part of the age-old tradition to objectify and sexualise women? The debate goes on… One thing is sure though, Jones’s work still provokes reactions”.

More infamy followed when the sculptures were referenced in one of cinema’s most controversial films of all time – A Clockwork Orange directed by Stanley Kubrick (in 1971). In a later interview, Jones recalled a telephone call from Kubrick. “[Kubrick said], ‘I’m a very famous film director, this will be seen all over the world and your name will be known.’ I held the phone away from my ear, I was just staggered anyone would say that. It showed an ego that dwarfed that of any artist I’ve known”. Because of this, Jones declined Kubrick’s offer but the director’s prop team made copies of his work. His BDSM designs were also a key feature of the 1975 film Maîtresse about a female dominatrix directed by Barbet Schroeder (and which also caused controversy because of its very graphic depictions of sado-masochism). Zoe Williams in her article for The Guardian goes as far to say: Jones’s images have been so influential that almost no image of woman-as-object or woman-as-other-object can be created, even 40 years later, that doesn’t nod to them”.

In 2014, the Royal Academy of Arts hosted a retrospective of Jones’ work and Richard Dorment in the Daily Telegraph asserted: “you could argue that Jones’s work isn’t really about women; it’s about men and how they look at and think about women. Men use various strategies to neutralise or control desire. One is to fetishise the female body…[while] another is for the man to appropriate it”. The brief biography of Jones on the Artsation website also noted that: Allen Jones was accused of being sexist and depicting women as undignified, mere willing objects of lust. Jones obviously never intended to show women in such a way, he wanted to question prohibitions and moral boundaries. ‘Nothing is as it seems’, the artist once said and also in this case one should not confuse the appearance of the object with its message. With his objects the artist carries trivialities like sexual connotations from advertising and show business into fine art to stylize and satirize them”.

Bizarrely, perhaps one of Jones’ unforeseen legacies is that his work appears to have unwittingly spawned a new sexual paraphilia – namely forniphilia. As I noted in my previous article on forniphilia, it is a form of sexual objectification and is viewed by many as a form of sexual bondage as the human body is typically incorporated into the shape of a piece of furniture where the person has to stay still for extended periods of time. The difference between Jones’ art and forniphilia is that forniphilia involves real humans whereas Jones’ works of art uses ‘humans’ made of fibreglass. The term ‘forniphilia’ was allegedly coined by Jeff Gord, the man behind The House of Gord (“The Home of Ultra Bondage”). In The House of Gord, there are many types of furniture that women had been temporarily turned into. This included many different types of table, lamps, pedestals, various types of chair (office chair, rocking chair, etc.), footstools, ceiling decorations (including chandeliers), lawn sprinklers, and bird tables. If Jones’ art was the direct inspiration for Gord and his followers, I wouldn’t be surprised. But even if it wasn’t, Jones’ work will continue to live on and will continue to garner controversy and feminist critique.

Dr. Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Ant, A. (2007). Stand and Deliver: The Autobiography. London: Pan.

Artsation (2015). Allen Jones – Biography. Located at: https://artsation.com/en/artists/allen-jones

Deurell, J. (2014). 10 key facts about Allen Jones. AnOther, November 10. Located at: http://www.anothermag.com/art-photography/4103/10-key-facts-about-allen-jones

Dorment, R. (2014). Allen Jones, Royal Academy, review: ‘dangerous, perverse and brilliant’. Daily Telegraph, November 14. Located at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-reviews/11220351/Allen-Jones-Royal-Academy-review-dangerous-perverse-and-brilliant.html

Gregory, H. (2014). Fetish, fantasy & “women as furniture”: The complicated legacy of Allen Jones. Artsy.net, December 3. Located at: https://www.artsy.net/article/editorial-fetish-fantasy-and-women-as-furniture-the

Griffiths, M.D (1999). Adam Ant: Sex and perversion for teenyboppers. Headpress: The Journal of Sex, Death and Religion, 19, 116-119.

Guadagnini, W. (2004). Pop Art UK: British Pop Art 1956-1972. Milan: Silvana.

Levy, P. (2014). A Fetish for Art. Touring Pop artist Allen Jones’s London workspace. Wall Street Journal, November 14. Located at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303309504579185690844235078

Livingstone. M. (1979). Sheer Magic by Allen Jones. London: Thomas & Hudson.

Wikipedia (2013). Allen Jones (artist). Located at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Jones_(artist)

Williams, Z. (2014). Is Allen Jones’s sculpture the most sexist art ever? The Guardian, November 10. Located at: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/nov/10/allen-jones-sexist-art-royal-academy-review

Seats of yearning: A brief look at ‘furniture sex’ and the naming of a new paraphilia

What’s the first thing that comes into your head when you hear the words ‘furniture sex’? Maybe you think about people having sex on particular items of furniture? Maybe you think of specially designed ‘sexy furniture’ such as the items featured on the Pinterest website? Maybe you think about people displayed and used as pieces of human furniture (see my previous blog on forniphilia if you have no idea what I am talking about). There are also those who design bespoke furniture to enhance sexual pleasure. For instance, a recent article in The Frisky examined the ‘sex furniture’ designed by Josh and Jasmine whose entire house is furnished with sex furniture. According to the article “each piece [of furniture] supposedly accommodates multiple positions and enhances orgasm”.

The origin for this blog came when I read a September 2012 story in both the Smoking Gun and The Inquisitor about an American married man (46-year old Gerard Streator) who was accused of having sex with a yellow sofa that had been abandoned on the pavement in Waukesha (Wisconsin, US). At 11pm on September 3rd (2012), Streator had the misfortune to be spotted by an off-duty policeman (Officer Ryan Edwards), who saw Mr. Streator copulating with the sofa while he was out on a late night run. The police officer was quoted as seeing:

“A subject leaning over the couch facing down and it looked like he was having sexual relations with someone on the couch. [I] could see the male’s hips thrusting up and down on the couch [and] could see that the defendant’s penis was erect. [He] had been thrusting his pelvic area against the cushions and trying to sexually gratify himself by rubbing his penis between the two cushions. [He was] thrusting his hips as if he was having sex with a person”

The officer chased Mr. Streator back to the suspect’s apartment and was arrested the following day for the criminal misdemeanor at the County Springs Hotel where Streator worked. The article in The Inquisitor described Streator as a “couch fetishist who engaged in bizarre sexual conduct with the abandoned couch”.

Another strange case involved a man in Hong Kong who late one night attempted to have sex with a local park bench. He penetrated one of the holes in the park bench but disaster struck when his penis got stuck and the emergency services had to be called out to try and cut him free. Unfortunately, there is now a video that was posted on the YouTube website of the emergency services cutting the man free which has already been seen by almost 750,000 viewers. (You can check it out for yourself here, and if you are really curious, there are also other videos on YouTube of sex with furniture such as this one).

In March 2008, the Daily Telegraph here in the UK reported that an American married man (40-year old Art Price, father of three children) had been observed on four separate occasions in Bellevue (Ohio, US) of having sex with a picnic table (the most recent being March 14, 2008 when a neighbour filmed the incident to show the police). The neighbour had observed Mr. Price in his garden turning over a round metal table before performing a sex act upon it”. A spokesman for the local police, Police Captain Matt Johnson said: “He was completely nude. He would use the hole from the umbrella and have sex with the table. Once you think you’ve seen it all, something else comes around”. Mr. Price was charged with four counts of public indecency because his sexual frolics with the picnic table occurred near an elementary school. For others, sex with furniture doesn’t seem to be a problematic issue. Consider this little snippet I came across online”

“Is there anything wrong with having sex with furniture? I mean really? It doesn’t hurt anyone, and it’s a very natural thing too. Just look at animals. They do it all the time! How would you think that it’s wrong? And what if you don’t like falling in love with people? How do you tell me who or what to love?

This quote would probably find a lot of support from objectophiles (that I examined at length in a few previous blogs including those who have had sexual relationships with cars). Object sexuality refers to those individuals who develop deep emotional and/or romantic attachments to (and have relationships with) specific inanimate objects or structures. Such objectophiles express a loving and/or sexual preference and commitment to particular items or structures. Such individuals rarely (if ever) have sex with humans and they develop strong emotional fixations to the object or structure. Unlike sexual fetishism, the object or structure is viewed as an equal partner in the relationship and is not used to enhance or facilitate sexual behaviour. Some objectophiles even believe that their feelings are reciprocated by the object of their desire.

As far as I am aware, there is no specific paraphilia that is associated with getting sexual pleasure and arousal from furniture items so I decided to name a new paraphilia based on this (and other similar cases) I have read about. There are three ways in which paraphilias appear to derive their names.

(1)   The paraphilic word can be derived from two or more Greek words relating to the focus of the sexual desire with the Greek word for ‘love’ (i.e., ’philia’ added). For instance, Professor John Money coined the word ‘acrotomphilia‘ (sexual desire from amputees) from the Greek ‘akron’ (‘extremity’), ‘tome’ (‘a cutting’) and ‘philia’  (‘love’). In ‘stigmatophilia‘ (from the Greek, stigma, “mark”; philia, “love”—Money, 1986)

(2)   The paraphilic word is derived from the opposite of an existing word for some kind of phobia. For instance, the fear of clowns is known as coulrophobia and the love of clowns is coulrophilia,

(3)   The paraphilic word is simply derived from the English word for the focus of sexual desire followed by the greek suffix ‘philia’. For instance, ‘acnephilia’ (sexual pleasure and arousal from those individuals with acne).

Therefore, I could perhaps call this type of sexual behaviour ‘furniturephilia’ (which certainly has an alliterative ring to it) but is not very original. As far as I am aware, there is no named phobia for fear of furniture, so this avenue is closed. Finally, I tried to track down the Greek word for furniture. The word ‘furniture’ is derived from the French word ‘fourniture’ (which means ‘the act of furnishing’) so does not really exist historically in Greek. However, one of my research colleagues (from Greece) informed me that ‘epiplo’ is the singular for furniture and that ‘epipla’ is the plural. I am therefore going to name those with a ‘furniture sex’ paraphilia as engaging in epiplophilia. Additionally, given that some individuals seem to only like seated furniture, I found out that the word ‘throne’ is of Greek origin (from the word ‘thronos’). Therefore, in the absence of any other names for paraphilias involving seated furniture, I hereby name this as ‘thronosphilia’ that I will operationally define not just as the gaining of sexual pleasure and arousal from furniture chairs and seating.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Angelowicz, A. (2012). TLC’s “Strange sex”: Sex furniture and sleep orgasms. The Frisky, Augsut 28. Located at: http://www.thefrisky.com/2012-08-28/tlcs-strange-sex-sex-furniture-sleep-orgasms/

Barton, D. (2009). The 6 strangest objects people were caught having sex with. Cracked.com, February 28. Located at: http://www.cracked.com/article_17098_the-6-strangest-objects-people-were-caught-having-sex-with.html

El Dorado Furniture (2010). Wordplay: Etymology of Furniture Terms, October 4. Located at: http://eldoradofurniture.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/wordplay-etymology-of-furniture-terms.html

Hazell, B. (2008). American caught having sex with picnic table. Daily Telegraph, March 28. Located at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1583118/American-caught-having-sex-with-picnic-table.html

Jowaheer, R. (2012). Hotel worker could face jail after being caught ‘having sex with sofa’. AOL Travel, September 26. Located at: http://travel.aol.co.uk/2012/09/26/hotel-worker-faces-jail-caught-having-sex-sofa-street/

Marsh, A. (2010). Love among the objectum sexuals. Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality, 13, March 1. Located at: http://www.ejhs.org/volume13/ObjSexuals.htm

Money, J. (1986). Lovemaps: Clinical concepts of sexual/erotic health and pathology, paraphilia, and gender transposition in childhood, adolescence, and maturity. New York: Irvington.

Money, J. & Simcoe, K.W. (1986). Acrotomophilia, sex and disability: New concepts and case report. Sexuality and Disability, 7, 43-50.

Rigney, T. (2012). Abandoned couch sex: Man arrested for getting busy with furniture. The Inquisitor, September 27. Located at: http://www.inquisitr.com/345157/abandoned-couch-sex-man-arrested-for-getting-busy-with-furniture/

The Smoking Gun (2012). Man busted for curbside sex with old couch. The Smoking Gun, September 24. Located at: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/man-busted-for-couch-sex-684512

Stopera, M. (2010). The 15 hottest objectum-sexual relationships. Buzz Feed. Located at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/the-15-hottest-objectum-sexual-relationships

Smoker face: A brief overview of capnolagnia

Watch any film or television programme made before 2000 that features a post-coital couple in bed, and odds on, one (if not both) of them will be smoking a cigarette. I started with that anecdotal observation just by way of establishing that sex and cigarette smoking are (quite literally) not so strange bedfellows. However, for a small minority of people, smoking in and of itself can be sexually arousing and for some may even be a sexual paraphilia (called capnolagnia). Dr. Anil Aggrawal in his 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices defines capnolagnia as a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and sexual arousal from watching others smoke. The Collar ‘n’ Cuffs website adds in an article on smoking fetishism that the smoking can either be normal cigarettes or the smoking of marijuana spliffs.

The defining features of capnolagnia are outlined at the Right Diagnosis website. It is claimed that people who experience one (or more) of the following symptoms are considered to have a smoking fetish: (i) sexual interest in watching other people smoking, (ii) recurring intense sexual fantasies involving watching other people smoking, and (iii) recurring intense sexual urges involving watching other people smoking. As far as I am aware, there is almost no empirical or clinical research on capnolagnia. Given that there are no treatment papers in the clinical and medical literature it suggests that either capnolagnia is rare and/or people who have the fetish live with it happily without feeling the need to seek treatment.

Arguably, it wasn’t really until the advent of the internet in the 2000s that people were even aware that smoking fetishes even existed. As with many other fetishes, like-minded people began to meet on online newsgroups (such as early groups like alt.smokers.glamour and alt.sex.fetish.smokers) and then escalated to trading stories, pictures, videos, and (now) DVDs. The overview on Wikipedia (arguably the most in-depth overview I’ve seen on smoking fetishism) claims that (like most fetishes) it has its roots in early childhood classical conditioning where smoking becomes paired with sexual response and/or psychodynamic theories rooted in Freud’s oedipal complex.

“These could include seeing the smoker as a stereotypically sweet, innocent individual behaving in ways that are considered taboo. For others, it stems from an attraction to more worldly people whose smoking epitomizes their strength and self-confidence. Within gay culture, this fetish often stems from the image of masculinity… Another cultural source for the fetish may be eroticized depictions of women who smoke that come from older motion pictures, especially from the film noir era… it has also been speculated that men who have smoking fetishes are more likely to have mothers who smoked, going back to the old belief that all men are secretly attracted to women who are just like their mothers”.

In a short article on “bizarre” fetishes, the Religious Sex website claims that there is a “darker and more extreme version” of capnolagnia found among the BDSM [bondage, dominance, submission, masochism) and female domination subcultures in which submissive partners may be treated like a human ashtray and forced by their dominant partner to swallow cigarette ash, have cigarette smoke blown continually into their face, and/or have cigarettes stubbed out on their naked flesh. The use of the submissive here as an inanimate item has overlaps with the humiliating and masochistic world of forniphilia (i.e., use of people as human furniture for sexual pleasure) that I examined in a previous blog.

The article in Wikipedia claims most smoking fetishists are heterosexual males but that there are significant minorities of gay men and bisexual men that also enjoy the behaviour (and an even smaller number of heterosexual women). More specifically, the article claims:

“Among heterosexual men, the fetish is often associated with oral fixations and fellatio and it is rather caused by the image of the woman smoking, than by the smell. It seems that the smell and taste of the cigarettes have a greater role to play in women’s smoking behavior than in that of men. Some fetishists have a fascination with the addictive properties of nicotine, and its ability to cause harm, and there is a sub-fetish relating to women being harmed by smoking, sometimes called “the dark side”, “black lung fetish” or “lung damage”. This has been interpreted as an element of misogyny in the community’s psychology”

The article on Wikipedia claims capnolagnia among gay men differs from that among heterosexual men. It is claimed that gay men become aroused at either ‘dominant’ men smoking or young (“innocent”) men initiating smoking for the first time. According to some online female domination sites, there are other sub-types of capnolagnia (described online as “sub-fetishes”), particularly in nicotine’s potential to cause harm and sometimes called “lung damage”.

For women this is seen in videos showing women smoking and coughing, suggesting self-destructiveness. More common videos are those showing a woman or a man in bondage, being forced to smoke or to inhale smoke. ‘Glamor’ smoking and ‘dark side’ smoking are the major divisions within the fetish. The glamor aspect of the fetish emphasizes the way smoking visually enhances women’s sexual appeal; the dark side links smoking to female domination, bondage and domination, and sadism/masochism. Both elements may be related to the appeal of the “bad girl” and the fantasy that even a “girl next door” type who smokes may be a tigress in the bedroom. A handful of producers specialize in videos appealing to one or both sides of the fetish…Ironically, as mainstream society has recognized the dangers of smoking, the effect has been to heighten interest in smoking fetishism. The more we recognize that smoking is bad for our health, the truer it becomes that only ‘bad’ girls smoke, and the more attractive they become to the smoking fetishist”.

I did a literature search on psychological databases for empirical research into capnolgania and identified only one paper that had even mentioned it. This was in a 2012 issue of the journal Tobacco Journal where the authors Dr Mary Carroll, Dr Ariel Shensa and Dr Brian Primack (all at the University of Pittsburgh, US) systematically analyzed YouTube videos with cigarette-related content. Their systematic search online yielded 66 cigarette-related videos for qualitative analysis. The researchers coded the overall portrayal of smoking as positive if the smoking was largely portrayed as attractive, fun, powerful, pleasurable, relaxing or sexy. Their findings showed that 9% of the videos analyzed contained fetishistic smoking content. Given the small sample size and the selective search methods used by the research team, we have no way of knowing if the results can be generalized.

However, I realized that after reading this paper that this was the latest in a number of studies that have looked at smoking and smoking fetish videos on YouTube (except in the previous studies no-one called it capnolagnia). For instance, an earlier study published in a 2010 issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research, by Dr. Susan Forsyth and Dr. Ruth Malone (both at the University of California, US) examined 124 of the most popular YouTube videos about cigarette use. They reported that the videos they analyzed frequently associated cigarettes with sexual themes and commonly portrayed cigarette smoking in a positive light (however, smoking fetishism wasn’t studied in isolation).

In a 2002 issue of the Journal of Health Commerce, Dr. T. Hong and Dr. M.J. Cody conducted a content analysis study of 318 pro-tobacco websites and examined the models in the photographs displayed on these websites. They reported that female models were most often portrayed in sex/fetish sites and were slim and attractive. Similarly, in 2003 in the journal Health Education and Behavior, Dr. Kurt Ribisl and his colleagues in North Carolina (US) also conducted a content analysis of over 1600 photographs displayed on 30 smoking websites and examined the amount of smoking and nudity displayed. Five of the websites mentioned smoking fetishes and 7% of the photographs contained nudity and smoking.

Another study, in a 2007 issue of Tobacco Control by Dr. Becky Freeman and Dr. Simon Chapman (University of Sydney, Australia), examined YouTube videos with smoking content and identified those videos were most commonly watched. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most watched pro-smoking videos were the smoking fetish and female smoking videos. Similarly, in a 2010 issue of the journal Health Communication, Dr Kyongseok Kim and colleagues conducted a content analysis of the smoking fetish videos on YouTube. Among the 139,000 videos that were located, a total of 2,220 (1.6% of all smoking videos) were smoking fetish videos. Although none of these studies tell us much about the etiology and psychology of smoking fetishes, they do tell us that there are a significant minority of smoking fetish sites out there, and that maybe capnolagnia is not as rare as first believed.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Amos, A., & Haglund, M. (2000). From social taboo to “torch of freedom”: the marketing of cigarettes to women. Tobacco Control, 9, 3-8.

Carroll, M.V., Shensa, A. & Brian A Primack, B.A. (2012). A comparison of cigarette- and hookah-related videos on YouTube. Tobacco Control, doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2011-050253.

Collar ‘n’ Cuffs (2010). Smoking fetishism (capnolagnia). February 19. Located at: http://collarncuffs.com/resources/doku.php?id=capnolagnia

Forsyth, S.R. & Malone, R.E. (2010). I’ll be your cigarette-Light me up and get on with it”: Examining smoking imagery on YouTube. Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 12, 810e16.

Freeman, B., & Chapman, S. (2007). Is ‘YouTube’ telling or selling you something? Tobacco content on the YouTube video-sharing website. Tobacco Control, 16, 207-210.

Hong, T., & Cody, M. (2002). Presence of pro-tobacco messages on the Web. Journal of Health Commerce, 7, 273-307.

Kim, K., Paek, H.J. & Lynn, J. (2010). A content analysis of smoking fetish videos on YouTube: regulatory implications for tobacco control. Health Communication, 25, 97-106.

Religious Sex (2012). “Bizarre” fetishes (Part 1). Gothic Fetish, May 8. Located at: http://www.religioussex.com/bizarre-fetishes/

Ribisl, K.M., Lee, R.E., Henriksen, L., & Haladjian, H.H. (2003). A content analysis of Web sites promoting smoking culture and lifestyle. Health Education and Behavior, 30, 64-78.

Right Diagnosis (2012). Capnolagnia. February 1. Located at: http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/c/capnolagnia/intro.htm

Wikipedia (2012). Smoking fetishism. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoking_fetishism

Sitting pretty: A beginner’s guide to forniphilia

As someone who teaches my students about sexual paraphilias I have to admit I had never heard of forniphilia until very recently. Forniphilia is a form of sexual objectification and is viewed by many as a form of sexual bondage as the human body is typically incorporated into the shape of a piece of furniture where the person has to stay still for extended periods of time. The first time I came across the word was in an article on sexual paraphilias in The Times of India that reported forniphilia was:

“A seemingly sexist wish to see the opposite sex being installed as pieces of furniture (the person is tightly bound and made to remain immobile in a particular position for any period of time)”

The term “forniphilia was allegedly coined by Jeff Gord, the man behind The House of Gord (“The Home of Ultra Bondage”). The submissive person that is positioned into a piece of human furniture typically has to wear a gag and may be at risk of being smothered. However, it is up to the dominant person to regularly check on the psychological and physical wellbeing of the submissive. The House of Gord’s website notes that:

The act of turning a woman into nothing more than a piece of functional furniture is the ultimate goal for many bondage enthusiast. Often completely immobile the woman finds that she is at least useful to her owner, perhaps performing the role of a table, chair or even hat stand. Many find this type of sexual objectification highly erotic, especially if the subject is in someway vulnerable…Knowing she cannot move she can only hope she will be of some use. Awaiting use, she is forced to wait and obey until needed”.

Forniphiles bind up their submissive partners very tight and for the submissives can be extremely dangerous. The House of Gord does not recommend people trying this very specific and stylized type of bondage unless they are very experienced and have the requisite “safety measures” in place. Jeff Gord describes the practice of human furniture as the ultimate in artistic expression. Gord claims that:

“Over the centuries, mere mortal man, artists and sculptures of renown, have struggled to capture the essence of femininity in various inanimate and inadequate mediums of paint, stone, plaster-of-paris, bronze, and a host of other organic materials. Whilst they came close, none really managed to portray that indefinable something that is womanhood; a mystical state-of-the-art life form that guards its secrets jealously. In my opinion, they never will. They were using the wrong materials”.

Forniphiles believe they are choosing the most erotic and exciting “ultimate material” – in this case, women. Gord also notes (and I’m quoting this verbatim as I don’t agree with this personally) that:

“A second description of forniphilia would be man’s desire to render a powerful and dangerous adversary to the role of utility item…It is in man’s nature to conquer and control, and in this respect the female of our species probably represents the only adversary he has never managed to subdue…Reduce a woman to a usable object and she becomes so damned sexually alluring that she has you by the balls so to speak…Try sitting on a human female chair, with a human female table, and a human female foot stool, and you really stop caring about the battle of the sexes”.

Other articles I have read on forniphilia suggest that some woman are active willing participants in such activity and actually enjoy it. For instance, an online article in Sensuality News reported that the:

“Reality is that some women – more so than men – enjoy behaving existing as pieces of furniture. Any version of doormat furniture will do. Bottom line, they are women or illusions of women – meant to be seen and not heard. There’s no doubt that forniphilia is an ultimate act of submission…Often the submissive is in danger of being smothered or in the case of Alva Bernadine’s ‘The Philosopher Illumined by Candlelight’, having her vagina set on fire… We’re interested in forniphilia as an extension of 1930s surrealism, exemplified in Hans Bellmer’s photo ‘The Doll’. ‘Scorn for Women’ is a key plank of ‘The Futurist Manifesto’, a document that eventually paved the way for the artistic movements of Surrealism and Dadaism”. 

In response to the article on Sensuality News, a transvestite male (calling himself ‘Bekki’) wrote that he and other males are forniphiles:

“I am a male cross-dresser who partakes in ‘furniture play’ exclusively for the use of Women. I am sure I am not the only one out there, but I do see how it is more of a female activity. Even when I partake, it is usually as a girl, but always for women. For some reason, being a chair or a table, or even a coat rack for a single woman or a group of women is infinitely sexier than if it were for a male”.

A quick look at the House of Gord FAQ page revealed the many types of furniture that women had been temporarily turned into. This included many different types of table, lamps, pedestals, various types of chair (office chair, rocking chair, etc.), footstools, ceiling decorations (including chandeliers), lawn sprinklers, and bird tables.

It perhaps won’t surprise you that I didn’t manage to locate a single piece of empirical research on the topic of forniphilia. In Gregg Norris’ 2010 book Illustrated Sex Guides: Dominance and Submission, it gains only a passing reference in a section on “Dominant/submissive relationship styles” under the categories of ‘objectification’ and ‘dehumanization’. Other than that, I don’t think the word ‘forniphilia’ has made it into hard copy print. Certainly looks like an area in need of some research and/or feminist critique.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Norris, G. (2010). Illustrated Sex Guides: Dominance and Submission. Brian Phillipe

Scoch, I.R. (2012). Forniphilia and other words I learned at my first fetish part. Global Post, March 2. Located at: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/wanderlust/sexual-fetish-parties

Sensuality News (2011). Is forniphilia essentially women’s sex slave work? May 23. Located at: http://www.sensualitynews.com/living/is-forniphilia-essentially-womens-sex-slave-work.html

Social Kink (2007). Jeff Gord interview. October 24. Located at: http://www.socialkink.com/articles.php?do=view&id=92

The Times of India (2007). The kinks of virtual men. April 15. Located at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/sunday-toi/The-kinks-of-virtual-men/articleshow/1911674.cms?flstry=1

Wikipedia (2012). Human furniture. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_furniture