Good Vibrations

HAVING just finished the Fifty Shades trilogy and looking for my next buzz, I’ve just been to the movies to watch Hysteria. For those who haven’t seen it yet, it’s a delightful British romantic comedy set in the 19th century, which focuses on female orgasms and the ultimate arrival of the vibrator’s place in history. Based on a true story, women who suffered from an array of “symptoms” from being too outspoken to being sexually frustrated, were relieved of their condition or “hysteria” by manual stimulation to their genitals to the point of climax. When Doctor Mortimer Granville found his hand was cramping due to the huge spurt (if you’ll excuse the pun) in demand for his services, he stumbled across what would become the first vibrator.

Hysteria as a diagnosis was eventually put to bed, so to speak, in the 1950s, which in my opinion is a bit of a shame, given I have been known to suffer from being both outspoken and sexually frustrated often at the same time and on a number of occasions and would happily have a good-looking doctor relieve me of my condition.

 

While not hysterical, it’s a fun movie, made even more joyful by some of the one-liners including Rupert Everett’s character who succinctly states: “All a woman wants is a good laugh and a hard p***k”. You can’t argue with that logic. Meanwhile, the good-looking Hugh Dancy’s character is told the “procedure” is “like rubbing your tummy and your head at the same time”. I knew I was doing something wrong. Certainly, the elderly gentleman sitting near me during this flick was also giving this some consideration, as I could not be certain from his heavy breathing whether he was over stimulated or had simply fallen asleep.

Make sure you stay while the credits roll for a true history lesson on the evolution of the vibrator. It’s enough to make your eyes water. Suffice to say, should I ever drop dead suddenly, you might want to clear out the top drawer in my bedroom, lest my parents try to figure out what that thing that looks like a rabbit and glows in the dark is doing in my underwear draw.

 

At the risk of sounding like I’ve acquired an addiction to porn (I did wake up the other morning unable to hear, which I later realised was more to do with my big night out rather than indulging in too much porn) it is probably worth giving my two cents worth on Fifty Shades of Grey now that I’ve finally finished the third book. While a rollicking romp on one hand, (and some less kinder souls say poor writing on the other), what interests me most is not the main character Christian Grey, but his girlfriend, Anastasia Steele. While I can understand how Grey’s neglect as a child, and sexual education/abuse by an older woman while he was in his teens could lead to his need for carnal control, I fail to see how Steele could be such a submissive soul. It’s not even about the sex, though at times even she admits she’s not happy about certain acts. It’s more the fact she no longer sees her friends, changes her surname to Grey despite not wanting to, and is promoted beyond her ability and experience at work thanks to her wealthy partner. If this is the post-feminist woman with an education, then we have cause for concern.

On one or two occasions in the past, male friends have quizzed me on what, exactly, I’m looking for in a man. Apart from a pulse and the fact he can spell as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, to quote the feisty Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character in Hysteria: “I don’t want a husband, I want an equal.”

 In the meantime, I’m off to buy new batteries.

 

Wham Bam Thank You Nam

IT’S 4am and already 28 degrees when I check into the dodgiest airport hotel I have ever encountered. I’m in Kuala Lumpur enroute to Saigon and my hotel is a cross between an Australian outback motor inn and a detention centre. In a bid to make the place sound more exciting, they’ve named the cell blocks “terminals”. “You’re in Terminal 4,” the receptionist tells me upon check-in. I have about 13 hours here to kill and tell myself things will look brighter when the sun rises.

Later that morning I stumble across Susan from Sabah, and her massage parlour. Susan speaks in a gravelly voice, sports a cackly laugh, and wears a long red silk outfit that looks like pajamas. Her masseuse guides me into the room and asks me whether I’d like a sauna. I’m so tired from my overnight flight from the Gold Coast I am unsure whether it is a question or an invite. At this point I should also mention I have been reading Fifty Shades of Grey. I decline and lay on the table. My masseuse smooths out a few knots in my back and then rolls me over, picks both my legs, and holds them together like one would to tie chicken drumsticks before baking. I am buck naked and my legs and buttocks are being held high in the air. Me and my modesty are about to profusely protest when I realise it’s Ramadan. The poor lady hasn’t eaten all day and IS probably dreaming about a chicken drumstick. No funny business here. I make a mental note to stop reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

The next night I arrive in Saigon and head out for a Vietnamese omelette stuffed full of prawns, pork and spices. I take my first bite when an old lady who looks at least 100 walks into the restaurant carrying a pile of books as high as her head. She points to Fifty Shades of Grey. “You want to read?” she asks, a twinkle in her eye. “I’m already reading it,” I confess as she punches her first in the air. “Boom, Boom!” she laughs and disappears into the night.

 I head on to the beach resort town of Nha Trang. I’ve asked for a Vietnamese massage, unsure of what it exactly entails. My masseuse slathers me in oil and starts to rub my naked body.  Then, without warning she slaps me, hard on the buttocks. I think it must be a mistake as she resumes her gentle rhythmic rubbing. Whack! She slaps me again. This continues for the next hour. Is every woman in south-east Asia reading THAT book, I wonder as I lay on the torture table. Have I entered the red room of pain? I finish my bondage session and head for a late-night skinny dip in my private plunge pool overlooking the South China Sea. The lights of the fishing boats out of the horizon wink back at me.

The next day, out on a boat tour where the sea lice bite as much as Christian Grey himself forcing me out of the water with welts on my thighs, I ask Trong, my tour guide, about how to find a man in Vietnam.

 “You put on some perfume, and some nice makeup on your face, then we march into the bar and look for a hot, young, horny boy. And then you have a happy ending,” he says, matter-of-factly.

 “If they are tall and skinny, then they have big dong.”

 I’m unsure whether by dong, Trong means the local Vietnamese currency or something else but there are no happy endings in Nha Trang and I head on to the mountainside of Dalat which is believed to be the City of Love.

 Here, on two separate occasions, I’m stalked by guys on motorbikes. “I have been following you all day,” they say without any irony. I wave them off and wander into a local restaurant for some Pho. Twenty sets of chopsticks stop chattering and 20 pairs of eyes fix firmly on me as I slurp on a bowl of chicken soup. For the princely sum of $4.50 I am their dinner and their show.

Back in Saigon, a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl befriends me in a museum. Her name is Thanh. She runs away and returns with a small doll as a gift. My mind frantically scans my handbag for a return present. All I can think of is a half eaten packet of chewing gum and a box of tampons. Where, oh, where are those skanky little clip-on koalas when you need them?

I apologise to Thanh that I don’t have a gift for her, and thank her profusely for hers.

“My aunt thinks you are beautiful,” she says before skipping off.

I stand there and smile to myself. Just my luck to pick up an ageing Vietnamese woman who may or may not have read Fifty Shades of Grey.