Prostrate they display themselves in desperate attitudes of boredom . . . smoking cigarettes to kill time.
--Baudelaire, Les Salons de 1848
I know, you like girls, sure. Young, hot girls--no problem. Young, hot, elegantly dressed girls. Am I right? Okay, then!
Give me another second here--what you're really looking for are young, hot, elegantly dressed girls who smoke. Yes, you are an individual of rare tastes.
And therefore, you gotta meet Anna, Samantha, Dianne, Kelly, Cathy, Elizabeth, Jennifer, Alexandria, Sarah, Leeann and Natalie. The SMOKING MODELS.
I'm not making this up, your wildest dreams have come true. They really do exist.
If the idea of watching lovely young ladies--fully clad, mind you--practicing the suck-and-blow turns you on, then trot over to your computer and poke in www.smokingvideos.com.
There you will see still photos of each and every one of the above-mentioned femme puffers. Do any of them French inhale? Mon dieu! But of course! And after a tantalizing online taste of exotic action like that, you'll want more. Nothing to be ashamed of, bub, and plenty easy to get.
For only 30 bucks per volume (there are six so far), the folks at Video Solutions Incorporated will supply you with 30 minutes of tape displaying three "very attractive women, elegantly dressed and smoking!"
That's very attractive women.
Elegantly. Dressed. And. Smoking.
Before we proceed, let me quote from Richard Klein's masterful treatise on the forbidden habit, Cigarettes Are Sublime:
"Cigarettes are positively beautiful, but they are sublime by virtue of their charming power to propose what Kant would call 'a negative pleasure': a darkly beautiful, inevitably painful pleasure that arises from some intimation of eternity . . ."
And who, I ask you, is a better poster child for a description of a sublime intimation of eternity than a stunning young lady caught languidly exhaling a ghostly cloud of smoke?
That's what Charles Harris is banking on. He's the man behind Video Solutions Incorporated, the pioneer of classy, high-gloss cancercore. And, like the Hair Club for Men's Sy Sperling, he's not just the boss, he's a member of this exclusive fetish group.
Harris is 31. He says he does not smoke. He says his mother does not smoke. He says he is bothered by actual cigarette smoke. He lives, makes his videos and recruits his models in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina, where tobacco is as commonplace and natural as boob jobs are in Hollywood. Like Einstein and Larry Flynt, he is a man creating in a field that he honestly loves. Watching ladies smoke, see, it turns him on.
"Yes it does," Harris admits boldly. But how this desire came about, he can't tell you.
"I don't think anyone could tell you where it comes from, I don't think there's a connection to anything else," he theorizes. "I just think it's something that's been in our culture for a long time in sort of a subtle way, in movies and TV, album covers and magazine covers. It's something that's never really talked about or discussed, but it's always been there in an unconscious way. Watching women smoke, I think it just clicks with certain people, or it doesn't. But for someone who has that interest, it's like being in heaven."
Harris figures he is not alone out there, that there are plenty of others who are knocking on those nicotine-stained pearly gates.
"It's hard to say yet, but I think there is a market," he ponders. "Whether it's profitable or not in the long run, I don't really know." Since making the videos available online in November (and placing print ads in Playboy, Penthouse and the perennial favorite Leg Show), Harris says that the staff-of-three VSI team has fielded some 500 orders for tapes from all parts of the country.
"Though they aren't my customers yet, I know that there are tens of thousands of people that would buy these videos," he states. "If they had the money, they would buy them."
Just as Hefner took smut from under the counter to top shelf, so is Harris acting as a filter to respectability for his own brand of turn-on, albeit tar-based.
"There's a newsgroup on the Web that's dedicated to people who are interested in that subject," he explains. "And there are two other companies that make sort of similar videos, but their women look like prostitutes in my opinion. They're dressed in real trashy clothing, that sort of thing. And we just knew that we could do a much better job."
Dr. S. Lee Spencer is a professor at Arizona State University specializing in Sexuality and Sexual Functioning. I asked her whence the babes-with-butts fixation would, perhaps, come.
"I really don't know," she said. "My impression was that most men do not find smoking women attractive. I really don't know what to say. It's possibly like a Freudian thing; if you could find out that the men who do it had mothers who smoked cigarettes. But I'm really at a loss. Nothing comes to my mind to think about how to understand this."
In my ceaseless efforts to search out answers, to gain more insight into this particular kink, I crossed the drawbridge at Castle Boutique, the Valley sex mart that caters to all stimulations of mind/flesh. Or so I thought.
In the rack offering magazines of specialized areas of sexual excitement, I found a potpourri of titillating publications whose titles speak for themselves:
Tied and Tickled, Latex Maid, Rubberist, Armbinders, Rubber Nurse, Boot Lover's Digest, Hogtied, Slave Boy, Motorcycle Mistress Mamas, Diapers and, for lovers of quaint Victoriana, Stays and Gloves.
Yet nothing dealing with handsomely attired ladies sporting cancer sticks.
I asked the lady at the counter if I had missed something.
"We don't have anything like that," she sniffed. "Weren't you in here last week asking for the same thing?"
But this would seem to indicate that Harris is on to something, that there really are guys out there who want to look at pictures of women with nice ashes.
Since few of you speak French, as I don't, allow me to translate from Theodore Burette's 1840 work La physiologie du femeur . . .
"The cigarette is congenial, lively, animated; she has something spicy in her charms."
She also has something else that goes considerably beyond "spicy"; the ability to cause death. This is a point not overlooked by Harris, who claims to abide deep concerns as to exactly what activity he is pushing.
"Promoting smoking was a real issue for us," claims the videographer. "That's why we only hire girls that already smoke. It doesn't work unless they do."
Certainly, it's one thing for a porn queen to complain of pain or weariness after a multitake gang bang, but for a Harris model to begin hacking away during a lengthy shoot, well, it's simply unconscionable.
"We only shoot the models once or twice, and the photo sessions last an hour or two and they go through maybe three cigarettes in one session," he reveals. "I'd rather have them have to come back than smoke more than they normally would. It's sort of a paradox; it's sexy, but there are health issues from it. We're not interested in promoting smoking to women. We don't feel like we are, and the Web site is not for women. I've never had a single order or e-mail from a woman."
Of the e-mail that VSI does get, Harris says that "99 percent of it says 'It's the coolest thing I've ever seen.'"
For those who prefer to observe women with their lips around something slightly more impressive than a cigarette, don't fret; cigars are right around the corner.
"Yes, that's been in our plan from the beginning," Harris says. He wants his stogie tapes to adhere to the same rigid standard of quality as the cigarette tapes. Realism is a premium at VSI.
"That's a little bit harder to do, because by far there are a lot more women that have experience smoking cigarettes than cigars. If they don't have experience, it doesn't quite look that natural."
Mel Roman is a Valley artist/psychologist. In the 1970s, Roman served as a producer and "house shrink" on the Today show, doing twice-weekly pieces on psychology and psychiatry. Here is his response to my prodding for some definitive fumo-analysis:
"It'd be very difficult to answer what led [Harris or others] to it. If this guy is serious, and it really is a big turn-on for him, then it serves as some sort of fetishistic activity," he offers. "The fetish is usually for some object that the person needs in order to be aroused or to have orgasm. I don't know if this thing goes that far.
"I'm not surprised that for some people this would be an arousal thing because of the orality of it. The whole idea of putting something in your mouth, smoking, sucking on it, whatever . . . and he doesn't think he's promoting smoking? That's a little strange. But it's also interesting. I was trying to review in my head if I'd ever had a patient or heard of any case studies, but I never worked with anyone who was symptomatic of that in any way. But, after all, most of my shrinking was done pre-Web sites."
As with most pioneers, Harris has found that his is a learn-as-you-go experience. The directing of models, the delicate, evocative positioning of feminine hands gesturing smoldering filters and nons; there's an art to it.
"We're learning the craft of shooting women smoking," he says. "It presents a difficult lighting problem. Telling the models what to do, that just sort of evolves."
Contrary to what you might think, being the man behind the camera at these sessions is not a fantasy come true.
"Not really," agrees Harris. "Things are so technical that you really don't have time to enjoy what you're seeing." But VSI is always searching for ways to harness technology and produce better and better videos for his loyal customers.
"We're starting to integrate audio at this point," he reveals. "Again, this won't make sense to anyone who doesn't have the fetish, but it's going to be the models asking if they can smoke, or if you like watching them smoke. That kind of thing."
Perhaps it makes perfect sense that, as smoking comes closer and closer to extinction, a voyeuristic thrill may be had by watching carefree young foxes engaging in this naughty, deadly, stinky act. Despite the dangers of AIDS, relatively safe sexual intercourse is a mere rubber away. But science has yet to create a condom for cigarettes.
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