Vol 6

The Natalie Issue

Vanessa Cuccia is the founder of Chakrubs - sex toys made from natural crystals to bring a sense of sacredness to personal exploration and playtime.

Vanessa Cuccia [VC] is the founder of Chakrubs – sex toys made from natural crystals to bring a sense of sacredness to personal exploration and playtime. She spoke with Babe Rally [BR] about her relationship with sexuality and the journey of getting there.

 

Growing up as a shy kid, Vanessa says she remembers the neighbours starting to tell stories of sexual fantasies but not knowing know what sex was because her parents never talked to her about it.

“A memory I share is walking around my pool, innocently touching my nipples and being shamed for doing it. And then also being a kid and watching a romantic movie and watching the couple kiss, and being like ‘EW’ and my parents being like ‘this is a beautiful thing.’”

What she gathered from that was, “sexuality is okay when it’s romantic but pleasure for pleasure’s sake is not.”

[BR] How did you learn what sex was?

[VC] A book about menstruation, in 5th grade.

[BR] What did you think sex was as a young girl?

[VC] I don’t think I really knew – or I was OK with not really knowing.

[BR] At what point in your life did you start to redefine what sex was?

[VC] When I lost my virginity I was very disappointed; it hurt me. Sex is sacred and should be honoured. After I created CHAKRUBS, [it] was me accepting that I had a different view about sex than a lot of my peers did [that] ‘losing your virginity is never anything special.’

[BR] You were born with a condition where the inner labia of your vagina were closed, and had to receive treatment from doctors and your mom for six months. Because of that experience, what was your relationships with your formative body like?

[VC] It was very traumatic, having a doctor touch me in this really intimate way, while also causing so much pain. While my mother was rubbing cream on my vagina she would make sure to tell me ‘don’t let anyone touch you like this.’ I guess she was nervous that I would think it was okay for anyone to touch me there, like that.

[BR] What is your relationships like with your body now?

[VC] I take time to be grateful for the different areas of my body, to point appreciation at parts of my body. I take better care of myself, exercising but also taking time to be grateful for the different areas of my body just for doing what they do. Like my feet, for holding me up. I have my insecurities that everyone experiences, but all in all, I know that’s just noise. I have a deep appreciation for my body.

[BR] Has Chakrubs helped you transform that relationship?

[VC] When I first started, I realized that it was important to care about what I put into my body and who I let into my body. I’m not somebody that can feel okay with one night stands; I’ve accepted that I’m sensitive to energy [and] I had to really know and trust the energy that was going to be exchanged. I developed this knowing within me that I have to be more discerning about what I put into my body. It made me change a lot of things, like appreciating my own pleasure and seeing that as a good thing I can do for my body and my spirituality. Acknowledging that it is there as a tool for me.

 

[BR] Can you tell me about the relationship between pleasure and performance as it relates to the female experience?

[VC] What I was learning subconsciously was that, when I lost my virginity, I dated him for six years, and I never came. He wouldn’t let me use a vibrator or anything to do with my pleasure or what I wanted. For six years, I was his sex toy. I performed as an escape from the feeling. It was more about him and his pleasure, and that is something that I am still working through. In my current relationship, I am dissolving that.

Chakrubs was created by me. It’s just simple. It’s natural. It’s from the earth. A lot of traditional sex toys on the market are created by men and with the notion of: what does somebody want to watch a woman pleasure herself with?

So many young girls think that pleasure is derived from performance, that is how it’s portrayed in porn a great deal. The act of being pleasured is just that – an act.

[BR] Sex toys are so taboo. How do people respond when you tell them what you do?

[VC] It depends on who I’m talking to, when asked what I do. It’s funny because some people are so open, but I still get this: You do what? What is this for?

I feel like it is growing. We’re transitioning into this open-minded sensibility. We project so much shame and insecurity into these aspects. Up until recently, it wasn’t talked about that women could experience pleasure just for pleasure’s sake or just for the fun of it. We can experience sex for more than procreation purposes.

[BR] Have you noticed that there are differences in the connections and loving intimate relationships between people who openly use sex toys and those who don’t?

[VC] In the spiritual community I was in talking about sex toys, and it was still taboo. And yet, in the sex toy store there was no judgement and nothing to be ashamed of. There is so much growth still to be done. Sexuality is still a place with some taboo.

When I first started, that’s when i got the initial “…you’re doing what?” kind of thing. Since it’s become popular and mainstream, in my circle it has dissipated, and I am seeing that change firsthand.

I remember being out with my friends and we were talking about sex toys and the boyfriend got very ‘I wouldn’t let you use that, you don’t need me anymore,’ attitude and that’s not a useful attitude to have. I love when men approach me and ask questions for their partners. You’re still the provider but you want your partner to feel pleasure; it’s so beautiful.

 

[BR] Any tips for a women who would like to start integrating self-pleasure into the intimate act?

[VC] It has to look like you. There are so many articles and how-to’s for sexual acts, but for me and with Chakrubs, it’s a spiritual practice and creating sacred space. It has to come from an authentic place, if you want to incorporate sex toys into your space, ask: how would you do it? There’s no right answer; go with what’s true and get to know yourself. Meet yourself with any block you may be experiencing, and ask why that’s there and work through that. Make sure you’re in a relationship where your partner is receptive to you and your needs.

[BR] Why are we so uncomfortable with self-exploration and self-pleasure?

[VC] Because I think it has a lot to do with where we live. It’s conditioning in our society; the TV shows and movies that we watch have an impact on us and how we relate to these things.

We’re conditioned from a young age from parents that it’s ‘not under this roof.’ I don’t understand why it’s been like this for so long. That’s what I try to do in my work. I am trying to neutralize this idea that being sexual and [experiencing] pleasure is something you should be ashamed of. It doesn’t make sense to me. It makes sense to accept this, explore it, and talk about it. Opening up the conversation around our spiritual beliefs, deepening that conversation, and being connected to people, I see the affects it has on other people through simple questions that I ask myself.

[BR] Some people use porn – hopefully its body positive porn – to get “in the mood.” What do you do?

[VC] I’m very auditory: I love talk, dirty talk. Even when I’m self-pleasuring, I talk to myself and hear the things I want to be said to me. With Chakrubs, when I started using the rose quartz, I started manifesting a lover and that’s, I think, where it started. I started saying what I wanted my partner to say. I wanted someone to say I love you, and now it’s gotten very dirty. It opened up a portal to evoke sensual feelings.

[BR] If you were going to summarize the perfect intimate sexual experience in a few words, what would those words be?

[VC] Evolving.

I like a slow build.

Exploration.

Depth.

It’s great because I am actually thinking about my boyfriend, and our sex life is really what I needed. Our sessions are all different. I can’t say there is one way, because there are some times where it’s very full of passion then other times it’s very fetish, or it’s full of love. It touches on so many different aspects of life, which is what makes me happy. The more it touches on, the better it is.

Natalie Krim is an artist living and working in Los Angeles whose work was recently shown at Vice’s Creators Project at the NYC Museum Of Sex for the Female Gaze show.

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