April 2005

Julie Boulanger

la marquise

Exhibitionism 101

On the back cover of Carol Queen’s book Exhibitionism for the Shy, BUST magazine is quoted,“Every girl deserves a best friend like Carol Queen.” How can anybody who’s read the book argue with that? This Exhibitionism 101 book is sweet. It gives you much advice on getting in touch with your inner exhibitionist, which essentially is yourself. Yes, I admit it. I do wish Carol Queen were one of my best friends. Because of this, I feel it’s only right to be on a first name basis. So let me talk to you about this book by my friend Carol.

Carol is a smooth talker. She brings her readers step by step into the world of exhibitionism. She never makes you feel ashamed. She spells things out in case you need it, yet never makes you feel stupid about it. An important element, if not the most important element that Carol is trying to convey in her book is that exhibitionism is fun if it turns you on. She is very you-centered, yet never forgets to mention the importance of respecting your partner and his or her fears and restraints. Carol wants us to explore our personal tastes and turn-ons. She wants to awaken our sexual selves. She does this in stages.

First, Carol suggests that we look at the people around us and find out what we find sexy. What type of shirt is revealing just enough to be sexy yet not too much to make you feel uncomfortable? What kind of boots and shoes are attractive? How are they laced up? What kind of walk and mannerisms are hot? Exploring what turns us on in others can help us strike the right cord within ourselves
Then, Carol suggests we practice to ourselves. She wants us to practice talking dirty (the book is equipped with an appendix of dirty words that covers a few languages). She recommends actually saying the words out loud. This allows us to get used to verbalizing them before facing our partner with our mouthful of lusty words, and to determine what feels natural and sexy to say. We won’t all enjoy saying the same things, like we won’t all enjoy the same exhibitionistic fantasies. But that’s okay. Carol first wants us to practice by ourselves. She wants us to practice dancing and stripping for ourselves. She advises masturbating in front of the mirror and watching ourselves come. By seeing ourselves we 1) are not shying away from our own sexuality, and 2) get to be the first judge as to what looks good and sexy, and what doesn’t.

When we’ve reached our inner voyeur (of others and ourselves), we will be better prepared to face our own exhibitionistic desires and, hopefully, better equipped to express them. The next chapters of Carol’s book delve into the topics of hot talk, sexual personas, exhibitionism as empowerment, as a way to boost our self-esteem and self-love, as well as advice on couplehood, such as finding a good partner to practice/play with, the places where we can go to practice our sexual kinks and the ways to edge in a somewhat reluctant partner.

Carol’s expertise is unquestionable. More so, the fact that she practices what she preaches comes out loud and clear in her book. She’s been a sex worker -- for her own pleasure, might I add. She’s a bisexual woman who writes from no sexual orientation point-of-view. She’s non-monogamous, yet after explaining why she acknowledges that such a lifestyle is not for everybody. She garnishes her book with her life experiences as well as those of her friends, several of which are true high calibre sex stars, such as Annie Sprinkle and Nina Hartley. The reader can tell that Carol has been around, but in the best of ways. It has made her open, accepting and understanding. She forces nothing on us and continually stresses that we do what we are comfortable with and what turns us on.

It took me an excruciating amount of time to read Carol’s book. I put it down for weeks at a time! Yes, school kept me busy, but that’s really no excuse. Maybe this book is meant to be a long read. Maybe all “self-help” type books are. Not that I would exactly call it that. Carol is sweet and superbly open-minded -- you’d think I would want to spend more time with her, no? Well, you see, Carol makes a great friend because her book is peppered with words of wisdom, comfort and advice, but she does at times tend to tear me in two. Part of me sometimes feels like she is giving me a lesson I already know, so I listen because she’s so sweet and I wouldn’t want to miss one of her words of wisdom. The other part of me just plain envies her sex life! Which part is the one that pushed the book from my hands, or picked another one up instead? I don’t quite now. Yes, Carol is the friend we all should have, that great friend we kind of envy and secretly despise for being so darn great. Well, no matter. I did go lingerie shopping today because of her. Thanks Carol!

Exhibitionism for the Shy by Carol Queen
Down There Press
ISBN: 0940208164
248 Pages