The link between female orgasm and creativity

The Onstage Orgasm, and Other Creatively Climactic Tales, by Naomi Wolf

One evening I attended a crowded premiere party in New York City, where I was surrounded by film and theater professionals. The din was deafening. Standing at the crowded bar, I introduced myself to a statuesque woman in her early forties who was waiting next to me. She was radiatingly elegant; she wore red lipstick, pearls, and a black cocktail dress that evoked the flapper era. She told me that she was an actress — she had had a minor role in the film we had just seen — and she asked me what I did for a living. I told her that I was a writer, at work on my next book. She asked what it was about. “It’s a book about the vagina,” I said. She smiled. Her pupils dilated.

By this point it had happened often enough that I was aware that many people had immediate, probably measurable physical reactions when they asked me this question and heard the word vagina in my response. Some, both men and women, smiled immediately, beautiful, heartfelt smiles. Others looked frightened or disgusted, as if I had suddenly produced from my handbag a trout and placed it on the table before us, or had held it up for discussion. Still others, usually men, burst out laughing, angrily and inadvertently, usually to their own embarrassment.

Given the actress’s dreamy smile, something suggested to me that I could go ahead. “Actually, right now,” I confessed, “I am trying to figure out a possible link between female orgasm and creativity.”

The actress turned pale and self-conscious. “I can’t believe you said that,” she said. “I want to tell you something. “It’s something I’ve never told anyone.” She took a deep breath. “I’m a Method actor.” I knew that Method actors use visualization to act “from the inside out” — that is, they invoke the consciousness of the character whose role they are playing, to experience and then express that character from the inside out, rather than “acting” as if they are that person. “When I start to rehearse a role and go deeply into the character, my orgasms change. They start to become more, more…” She was gesturing with her wineglass, as if at an imagined cosmos, at a loss for words.

“Transcendental?” I asked.

“Exactly. Ask my boyfriend. And then” — she looked around, to make sure no one was listening — “I find it a heightened erotic state for me to be in character, performing.” She looked around again, but soldiered on, wishing, it seemed, to get this insight on the record. “I have had an orgasm while I was onstage. Just from being in that heightened creative condition.”

I clutched my wineglass. So it was not just that orgasm might heighten creativity in women; maybe creativity also heightened orgasm.

“Really!” I said.

“Really,” she said.

“Wow. Do you think that has ever happened to anyone else?”

“I know it has. It has happened, I am certain, to other women in the creative arts. I know women who have had orgasms while painting. And I know the two feed each other: the sexuality fuels the creative work, and the work fuels the sex.” She gave me her card and promised to introduce me to these female creative artists who had orgasms from their creative work.

I thanked her and walked out into the night, making my way gingerly past the actresses around me to the coat check, as if they were demurely dressed minefields of Eros that might erupt at any moment. But as I looked up at the starry New York winter night, I felt light-headed myself.

That night I began work on an informal survey. I put forth a set of questions to the women in my Facebook “community” of 16,800 people at that time. The questionnaire asked them if they had ever experienced any seeming connection between sex and creativity; if they had ever had a sexual experience boost their confidence levels and sense of self-love; if a sexual experience had ever led them to see better the connections between things; and if, on the other hand, periods of sexual loneliness, depression, or frustration had negatively affected their confidence, creativity, and energy.