The Protagonist of the Erotic
The Spectral Ear by Fatoş Üstek
A hearing aid. Perhaps not the most obvious choice for an erotic item. Yet, as Fatoş Üstek finds, deep listening is essential to unlocking the full potential of our carnal selves. After all, the ears are said to be among the most sensitive of the erogenous zones. Turning her high-tech prosthetic off, Fatoş' protagonist – our sensual narrator of this auditory realm – discovers she can hear hallucinations: spectral, sonic apparitions emerging from the noiselessness. Immersed in silence, she contemplates neurology and physics – the fact that the universe, like sound waves, is composed entirely of vibrations. Electrified by this cosmic energy, we begin to sense each other differently, newly attentive to the liveliness of connective matter. Many thanks to Wellcome Collection, London, Mark Watts of alanwatts.org for the archival material of the writer and theologian Alan Watts, and Jonie for her autonomous sensory meridian response recording. Soundscape by The God in Hackney. Editing and sound design by Tobias Withers. Introduction and outro voiced by Johnny Vivash. Produced by the Extra Extra team.
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The Hairdresser by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀27:18Hair grows through the echo of the past and the movement of the future. The hairdresser is a place of transformation, care, and conflict, where feelings weave like curls and rumours spin on the stool. Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ delves into the intimate story associated with type 4c hair, the tightest curl pattern variation in black hair. This story unfolds through a series of vivid memories: a wide tooth comb, lotion, car rides, an open-air veranda, and a line of recalcitrant little girls. The hairdresser's tender touch evokes a ritual characterised by both playful pampering and resistance, all accompanied by shared snacks. This intimacy twists an emotional journey from childhood to adolescence, encompassing experiences with hair relaxers, gloves, a bathroom's sink, wigs, and a motorcycle. Have you heard of the legend of the ghost girl? The voice of Ayọ̀bámi sheds light on how this deeply personal aspect of hair is woven into identity, beauty standards, and the most delicate dreams. Written by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀. Introduction and outro voiced by Johnny Vivash. Editing and sound design by Tobias Withers. Artwork by Karel Martens. Curated by Justine Gensse. Produced by the Extra Extra team.
Raving by McKenzie Wark29:58From the panic of wardrobe choices to the dissolution in between the anonymous bodies, McKenzie layers sensations of lust and fatigue. Droplets of sweat inside the thigh-high boots and hard beats unzip a universe in which dancing can help with the damage or switch on all sorts of futures. “A rave is just a pocket in time in which there's more time, but the pocket closes and spills us out.” In the end, we want to feel hot. And be desired, held, hugged, and crushed by the crowd. Or someone. Yes. So let the demon speakers come out of you; grab, climb, and fuck the decibels through the sonic fishnets. It’s not a hole in the stockings that could stop us, right? Written by McKenzie Wark. Introduction and outro voiced by Johnny Vivash. Editing and sound design by Tobias Withers. Additional soundscape by The God in Hackney. Artwork by Karel Martens. Curated by Justine Gensse. Produced by the Extra Extra team.
The Egg by Nina Folkersma30:00The egg is the most naked thing Nina Folkersma has ever seen. Yet, it is magical and mysterious. By stretching the egg’s metaphor close to her body, Nina feeds imaginations about motherhood and fertility. Surrealist paintings and writings are explored to meditate on the beauty and awkwardness of sensuality. Find yourself in a former pharmacy on Madison Avenue in New York to listen to the unreleased play of Leonora Carrington. Do you want to know what happens when an old lady – the ex-madam of a brothel – gains possession of the last surviving human egg? Perhaps you fancy some north of Catalonia sun in Salvador Dalí’s gardens until the heat makes you hallucinate an egg in the sky. Hold your breath before you shell the egg; it might be a sex toy in your hands. Or is it the female penis of a seahorse? Carrying many eggs in her pockets, Nina makes you spin into the circle of life and talks about the possibility of new beginnings. Ready? Steady? Egg!Written by Nina Folkersma. Introduction and outro voiced by Johnny Vivash. Editing and sound design by Tobias Withers. Additional soundscape by The God in Hackney. Artwork by Karel Martens. Curated by Justine Gensse. Produced by the Extra Extra team.
Anne Carson by Canan Marasligil30:00Anne Carson is a literary superstar. At sixteen years old, she fell in love with the ancient Greek language and pursued her passion by translating Sappho, Sophocles and Euripides. From the end of the 1980s until today, Anne Carson has published a plethora of works that investigate the twists and turns of love, sexual yearning and despair, affirming the tragic beauty of the monstrous and the fury of a desire that transcends all standards. Her radically modern oeuvre wonderfully disturbs categories as it blends poetry, prose, translation and academic thinking. Have you ever heard about brainsex? Lust is a glistening thread not quite taut in our lives; Canan Marasligil tightropes on tiptoes through the worlds of Anne Carson, intimately confessing about her own affective life and translation work. Between the twists of the tongue, Canan takes us on a journey to be displaced, where translating is the ultimate carnal experience, a necessity to grow wings, a desire to turn into desire.Written by Canan Marasligil. Introduction and outro voiced by Johnny Vivash. Editing and sound design by Tobias Withers. Additional soundscape by The God in Hackney. Artwork by Karel Martens. Curated by Justine Gensse. Produced by the Extra Extra team.
The Bed by James Taylor-Foster28:42A space of refuge and comfort where, while wrapped in bedlinens or a soft eiderdown quilt, our dreams and fantasies unfold. Under the clouds of the duvet, in the darkness, intimacies are exchanged between bodies, hands searching, flesh tenderly touched. A centrepiece of domesticity, the psychic landscape of the bed belongs to the private sphere. But, according to James Taylor-Foster, its role in contemporary society is far more expansive. On our phones and laptops, reading, texting, exchanging emails and taking meals propped up on pillows, this is where social lives are forged, corporate empires are built and great novels are written. Between the sheets, James speaks to the sensuous connotations of the bed, a piece of furniture which is far more than just a place of rest.Introduction and outro voiced by Johnny Vivash. Editing and sound design by Tobias Withers. Soundscape by The God in Hackney. Artwork by Karel Martens. Produced by the Extra Extra team. Many thanks to Michel Banabila for his music.
The Swimming Pool by Lara Haworth30:00Clandestine. Blue. Sparkling and full of promise. The pristine surface of an empty swimming pool is like a sensual invitation. 'Jump into me,' it seems to beg. 'Plunge your body into my depths.' During a summer of heatwaves, writer and artist Lara Haworth found herself at the poolside surrounded by beach towels and bare flesh. Cooling off from the soaring temperatures, she recalls childhood crushes, Deborah Levy's iconic novel Swimming Home, and the watery tumult depicted in the film A Bigger Splash. Following these rivulets of desire, she traces the history of public lidos and a cultural lineage of swimming, wondering how bodies of water seem to suggest the erotic. In these communal spaces, where exposed skin drips, young lovers meet and daredevils leap, anything seems possible. With the scent of chlorine and sunscreen perfuming the air, Lara lines her feet up at the pool's edge and dives in. Introduction and outro voiced by Johnny Vivash. Editing and sound design by Tobias Withers. Soundscape by The God in Hackney. Artwork by Karel Martens. Produced by the Extra Extra team.
Janelle Monáe by Dan Hassler-Forest29:14Singer. Dancer. Movie star. Activist. Afrofuturist. Android. Janelle Monáe is one of the most iconic pop stars of her generation. Her music is utterly addictive, full of infectious beats, bass-heavy funk, and that unmistakable voice, delicate and breathy, yet full of raw power. The high-concept songstress composes thematic albums, narrated by alter-ego Cindi Mayweather, a robot who dares to desire human love. Scholar Dan Hassler-Forest is unapologetically obsessed, counting himself as a 'Fandroid', the name given to Monáe devotees. Beginning with her chart-topping single, 'Make Me Feel', Dan lovingly extolls Monáe's life and vision, emphasising her ability to challenge the status quo through an ecstatic celebration of sex. In her sensual, sci-fi world, queer cyborg romance flourishes, pink vagina pants blossom and radical refusal gives way to orgasmic release. Following Audre Lorde's seminal essay, The Erotic as Power and José Esteban Muñoz's visionary text Cruising Utopia, Dan reveals how pleasure can be a force for liberation, a libidinous energy rising up to a four-chord climax.Introduction and outro voiced by Johnny Vivash. Editing and sound design by Tobias Withers. Soundscape by The God in Hackney. Artwork by Karel Martens. Produced by the Extra Extra team.
Coca-Cola by Seb Emina27:53Fizzling on the tongue, sugary sweet and deliciously cool, there’s nothing quite like Coca-Cola on a hot day. Cracking open a bottle, Seb Emina takes a long, deep sip. The iconic carbonated soda has been adding flavour to our imaginations for decades. Tall glasses, dripping moisture, their caramel-coloured contents glistening with bubbles and cubes of ice, adorn billboards. Coke is freedom, love, sex, nostalgia, modernity – in essence, just about anything you want it to be. The poet Frank O’Hara built fantastical worlds out of the common commodity, writing lyrical verses on the joy of sharing a glass with his lover, while the Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector ruminated that it is the drink of “Today… The Now.” For Seb, however, Coke conjures past memories. On a sunny afternoon in Paris, he sets off in search of the beverage. While on the hunt for a retro glass bottle – a rarity amongst the plastic and can varieties – he recollects a teenage crush, holidays to a Greek island and the youthful desire to get a taste of adulthood. Introduction and outro voiced by Johnny Vivash. Editing and sound design by Tobias Withers. Soundscape by The God in Hackney. Artwork by Karel Martens. Produced by the Extra Extra team.
The Smartphone by Nadine Botha30:00'Are you in a serious relationship with your smartphone?' The question headlines long-form news articles warning of the dour effects of incessant usage and screen addiction. Yet, for Nadine Botha, the intimacy we share with our handheld devices may be far more peculiar than we think. After all, it serves us both the overstimulation of the 24-7 office and the delicious jolts of adrenaline from text messages sent by lovers. In such exchanges, the vibrancy of electric connection transcends planetary locations and timezones. Scrolling, searching and seducing one another, constant connectivity permeates every aspect of our daily existence, from the way we find love to navigating unfamiliar city streets. Evoking philosophers, artists and designers, Nadine delivers an intoxicating account of the smartphone as a fetish object; a techno-sexual prosthetic, extending our bodies and selves in unfathomable ways.This episode includes interviews with Chen Yu Wang, Jan Schulz and Ginevra Petrozzi, who also shared a recording of her project Digital Esotericism (2021). Great thanks to Kluster5 for contributing passages of Perceived Reality (2022) – a record exploring the construction of identity. The first half of the visual album – Elevation of Self-Validation – is about a young woman who loses herself to social media. Introduction and outro voiced by Johnny Vivash. Editing and sound design by Tobias Withers. Soundscape by The God in Hackney. Artwork by Karel Martens. Produced by the Extra Extra team.