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Sexual Anthropologist


"Modern Séductrice"

A vision in crimson, lilac and cream (hair, dress, and skin, respectively), Betony Vernon reigns on her dominion like a lethal Eve- a fiery, modern séductrice who has created her own take on paradise. The 19th-century boudoir looks like it came straight out of a book by Sacher-Masoch, complete with tied-up dolls and phallic statues. Lines of books remain hidden behind heavy curtains: in the boudoir, nothing can serve a purpose beyond that of pleasure.

Sashaying through the velvet-lined rooms to pick up a silver ring, a giant white feather, or a pair of vintage reading glasses, Betony has vertiginous command of herself and the room, and we sit, raptured, wondering how we are going to measure up to this prodigious dose of sexy. But there is a distinct generosity in the way she introduces herself, and immediately includes us in her world. Trying on different pieces of jewelry for our photoshoot, she demonstrates an elaborate knot maneuver on a high-waisted belt, rejoicing: “I love a good knot!” The girl is funny, and unself-conscious in such a way that we don’t blush through an entire conversation covering geisha balls, foreplay and virtual sex.

It has only been five minutes and already we are in love. Is it her purr of a voice, warm like a shot of whisky? The way she punctuates her sentences with « no? », Italian style? The way she’s noticed a tiny speck of blue on our hair and coyly enquired about its source? One thing is sure: Betony Vernon is unexpectedly moving, and her passionate defense of intimacy and slow sex leads us to consider our sexual lives as rarely before. That, in itself, could be her gift to the world. But she’s also got the cerebral end of sex talk covered, calling herself a sexual anthropologist instead easing into a conversation about the larger picture of what it means to be human today, bringing up AIDS, gender imbalance beyond the bedroom, and the internet’s impact on our senses.

One gets the feeling that Ms. Vernon is a sort of scout for an invisible contingent of sexually adventurous women, exploring practices and defending freedom of choice: “Sometimes, we are attracted to things we might not expect to be attracted to”, she argues. Such a simple affirmation is rarely heard nowadays, when the sexual has never been more political, and acts are so crudely discussed that they bear little resemblance to the experiences we are having behind closed doors, that happen on a human, skin-to-skin level. “Touching each other is the way we build bonds”, she declares. “Making love is important. People are afraid of relationships. Afraid of getting hurt.” She insists: “Porn is the worst teacher that we could possibly have. There is such a phallocentric vision that we are conforming to”. It’s all about discovering what turns us on, and reclaiming the sphere of intimacy in an increasingly disconnected world, where Skype sex and porn are ubiquitous. Ms. Vernon locates her work at the crossroads of wellbeing and design, and it is not surprising to learn that she studied art history, religious studies and metalsmithing in college. Her knot-inspired jewelry (not naval, she assures us) recalls Shibari, the Japanese art of bondage that Nobuyoshi Araki’s photographs helped popularize in the West. The word literally means “decoratively tie” in Japanese, and her jewelry makes plain the aesthetic appeal of SM paraphernalia, moving beyond sex toys (which, mind you, she’s not opposed to) into fashion territory. Style is in her DNA, and as she changes from her high-heeled black fur slippers into the Alaia platforms she selected for our photoshoot, we get a whiff of the playful relationship she has with her shoe closet. Betony has a love of « fine materials – durable materials. Clothes that don’t necessarily come straight from a shelf, but are tailored by a seamstress. »

The young girl hailing from a small village in the Appalachian trail has become a modern-day priestess, illuminating the connection between the sensual and the spiritual, and rekindling the archaic belief in the sacrality of the sexual act. “The sexual energy is transcendental. There is something sacred about that and there is only one way to do that, to share that vibration.” Sexual ceremony has always been a way of communicating with the Divine, and the title of her new book, The Boudoir Bible, sounds like a playful takedown of Modern puritanism. Historically, along with religious marriage came the burden of monogamy, which she believes can be sustainable, if sufficient effort to spice things up is provided by both partners. In order to escape boredom, she recommends: “Don’t get sensorially bored. Learn as much as you can. Build a relationship that can continue to grow. Marriage is a license to make love to each other. You’ve got to be incredibly creative, but I think it’s possible with a powerful sexual bond. There is no need to seek elsewhere if you’re fully happy…Learn some new tricks!”

A question remains. How does she reconcile her praise of both bondage and women’s lib? Isn’t it contradictory to dress-up like a pin-up, literally images that are meant to be “pinned-up” on a wall, and yet argue that we can command the sexual game? Says Vernon, “I was one of those girls in the 80s that were fighting for their freedom. I am the daughter of a revolutionary, Anne Vernon, who sat at a whites-only counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1960. I was wearing very strict corsets and high heels, and still fighting for my rights as a woman.” She argues that the pin-up look can be an asset: “I was very young when I was first corseted and put into very high heels. Suddenly I felt empowered. Let’s not confound being bound and constricted from a social point of view with something that is politically incorrect. Any woman who is wearing a corset or a beautiful garment is turning her silhouette into the absolute. It changes your attitude – and it makes you stronger, not weaker. Your power is also in your beauty! How do you feel when you slip into a 10cm Louboutin? You feel like a woman, no?” Undoubtedly so.

By Marie Winckler and Audrey Guttman for Semaine.
Photography by Giada Mariani.


"Boudoir Essentials"

It's no surprise that Betony locates her work at the crosswords of wellbeing and design, nor that she studied art history when you discover her beautiful jewelry and objects crafted from the finest material. Heighten your sensorial pleasure with these essentials.  

"Unicorn Whip" Horsehair and Sterling Silver 925,

Betony Vernon


The Boudoir Bible,

Betony Vernon


"Shibari Belt" Sterling Silver 925 Rope,

Betony Vernon


Paradise Found: An Erotic Treasury for Sybarites,



1-on-1 Online Therapeutic Sessions,

Betony Vernon


O-Ring Cuff Kit,

Betony Vernon


Nobuyoshi Araki. Bondage, Art Edition,



Kama Sutra,

Dot to Dot



"The Betony Way"

Betony’s curated list of her favourite places to stay around the world.

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"Hands down my favorite place to stay when in LA—Blame it on Dita Von Teese!"

Paramour Estate,

1923 Micheltorena St Los Angeles CA 90039,

United States

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"I love staying here because I can walk Hollywood, glam up my night views and my meetings poolside too."

Sunset Tower Hotel,

8358 Sunset Blvd Los Angeles CA 90069,

United States

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"The most comfortable beds lead to the best breakfast in Rome."

Hotel de Russie,

9 Via del Babuino 00187 Roma,


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"The most decadent hotel in Rome- God forbid they ever refurbish the glorious Hall of historical beauty. Initially built as a private residence in 1860 - it's a perfect place to meet for drinks (after you go shopping) in the centre of the eternal city."

Grand Hotel Plaza,

126 Via del Corso 00186 Roma,


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"Just a few minutes from Pisa, this is one of my favorite places to regenerate after a stent of working with my artisans in Italy: It has the hottest healing waters and Pisa airport is just minutes away."

Bagni di Pisa,

18 Largo Shelley 56017 San Giuliano Terme,


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"This jewel box is close to my show room in the Marais so I recommend it to my collectors who seek the beauty of Hotel coasts with the privacy that the mother Hotel can’t provide. The rooms are tiny but the beautiful bathrooms and decor make it worth the compromise if you are only staying in Paris for a few days."

Hotel Bourg Tibourg,

19 Rue du Bourg Tibourg 75004 Paris,


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"Who doesn’t love a 5 star time warp in the heart of Venice!"

The Gritti Palace,

2467 Campo Santa Maria Del Giglio 30124 Venezia,


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"Because my friend David Downtown is holding court in the Fumoir."


Brook Street London W1K 4HR,

United Kingdom

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"Marie-Louise Scio will give you one the chicest escapes from reality if you are in Tuscany and craving the mediteranean sea breeze- the devil is in the details!"

Hotel Il Pellicano,

Località Sbarcatello 58019 Porto Ercole Italy,


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"This hotel is on the top of my bucket list - as soon as we can fly long distances comfortably again, I will be there."

Asaba Ryokan,

3450-1 Shuzenji, Izu Shizuoka 410-2416,



"Betony's Book Shelf"

From the classics, to powerful catalogues, and her own writing, Betony’s shelf has it all.

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The Boudoir Bible: The Uninhibited Sex Guide for Today,

Betony Vernon


“The uninhibited sex guide for today. My contribution to the sexual revolution in course.”

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Gore Vidal: Sexually Speaking,

Gore Vidal


“A collection of brilliant essays about the founding of the LGBTQ+ movement in America, sex and the Catholic church, gay bashing and other taboo topics that sadly remain as hot as when it was published 20 years ago"

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Nicole Canet


“This rare catalogue represents a collection of works in pen, ink and gouache by an anonymous artist that were exposed in the gallery Au Bonheur du Jour in Paris last year.”

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Three Women,

Lisa Taddeo


“Three brave women tell Lisa Taddeo the truth and afford us precious insight into the often traumatising dynamics of relationships.”

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Fetishism in Fashion,

Lidewij Edelkoort


“A comprehensive overview of how fetishism shaped fashion. I am proud to be part of one of my favourite coffee table books!”

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Power Vs Force: The Hidden Determination of Human Behaviour,

David R. Hawkins


“If you are interested in the science and power of Truth- this read is a must!"

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Carlo Mollino,

Fulvio Ferrari


“This rare book led me on a mission - to shoot my jewellery and the Boudoir Box in the house of my all time favourite designer Carlo Mollino. Books change lives!"

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The Omnivore's Dilemma,

Michael Pollan


“If everyone took the time to read this classic (and other works by Pollan) humanity (and the planet) would be healthier and happier for it!"


"Binge-watch with Betony"

Find out what media has Betony at the edge of her seat.

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"Sometimes I feel the need to get out of my bubble and watch what everyone is watching and talking about."

The Social Dilemma,

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"One of my favorite movies, I can never get enough of Federico Fellini."

La Città delle Donne,

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"We all need a bit of old school Hollywood glamour and Bettie Davis in our lifestyles."

All About Eve,

Amazon Prime
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"I champion Greta, her determination to beat the system and save the planet for her and future generations fills me with hope."

I Am Greta,

Amazon Prime
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"When Sophia Loren goes to Palermo, I follow her!"

The Life Ahead,


Travel Guide

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"Finishing what I start"

What does the word “taste” mean to you?
Everything that feels good to have, hold and behold.

Do you have a life motto that you live by?
Be here now.

What was the last thing that made you laugh?
My own voice.I was listening to a registration that required approval for my podcast (which has been put on hold due to COVID-19) I was speaking of something very serious, but my voice sounded unexpectedly sultry — dare I say pornographic! It was so ridiculously out of place that it made me laugh for hours and the mere thought of it, for days to follow.

What are your favourite qualities in a human being?
Authenticity, honestly, punctuality, a good sense of humor, pro-pleasure, emotional as well as cultural intelligence, bravery in love, lust for life

Who is your hero?
My mother and Martin Luther King

What is your biggest flaw?
I tend to forget that there are only 24 hours in a day which can create a domino effect of flaws!

What is your best quality?
I have no expectations so I am rarely disappointed.

What would your last meal on earth be?
Dinner chez TABLE – the restaurant of my dear friend Chef Burno Verjus in Paris.

What does success mean to you?
Finishing what I start.

If you had the power to change anything you wanted in the world, what would you change?
I would make sure that LOVE and the importance of pleasure was taught in schools.