Here’s a way of crossing off a few naughty names on your Christmas list: Shop Sensual, an erotic pop-up shop happening at Reunion studio in Humboldt Park from Friday to Sunday. Organized by designer Leah Ball and photographer Chelsea Ross of Feminist as Fuck, and Kristen Kaza of No Small Plans Productions and Slo ‘Mo Party, Shop Sensual will be offering sexy creations by more than a dozen local artists and designers— Leah Ball herself, Noelia Towers, Claire Arctander, Silk Shaman, Morgan Reed Jewelry, Gnat Glitter Kink, Mano Y Metal by Desiree Guzman, Remix by Giselle Wasfie, Humboldt House, Cities in Dust, Emma Alamo, and Solid Air by Taylor Mauch. The event will also feature intimate performances by Darling Shear and Kiara Lanier in addition to three pleasure-centered workshops thorughout the weekend: “Unlocking the Erotic Mind” with sexologist Rena McDaniel of Intraspectrum Counseling, “Slow Jams Yoga” with Lauren Ash of Black Girl In Om, and Erotic Drawing I with Leah Ball.
I interviewed Ball, Kaza, and Ross—they responded collectively by e-mail. Read their responses below and check out a few items that you can find at Shop Sensual.
Isa Giallorenzo: In your press release you mentioned that the goal of “Shop Sensual” is “to participate, instigate, and further activate the current wave of sensually-woke zeitgeist, expressed through art and culture. Shop Sensual transcends the pornified, hyper-sexualized status-quo by providing products and pieces for a more pleasurable future for all people.” Could you tell us more about this current “sensual wave”? Why do you think it’s happening at this point in time? How do you think it differs from the “pornified, hyper-sensualized” status quo?
Shop Sensual: Sensuality is so very human, and the erotic is a powerful tool for the human condition. Porn is not inherently bad; the problem is that it is often stripped of the erotic: personal agency, humanity, sensuality. We are responding to and further provoking a wave of mainstream and avant-garde cultural expression that specifically draws from and instigates sensuality. In many ways, we are seeing a major resurgence of the radical work and sexual liberation of the 70s. We hope to engage this contemporary momentum with the resilient history from which we came—the Womanist Movement and Queer revolution. The more we can centralize pleasure and intimacy as a life-affirming act of resistance, the more poignant and steadfast our communities become.
Who do you think could benefit from the programming featured at “Shop Sensual”?
Shop Sensual’s participants are majority women and femme-identified, and all are independent makers, artists, and entrepreneurs. This is a great environment to invest in a local economy as the purchases make direct impact on an artist/makers’ business. We hope to create a space in which anyone who enters may engage with their own relationship to sensuality/pleasure/eroticism, inspired by the range of objects, personal items, and fine art presented. We also have focused programming around different ways to access sensuality. Come curious!
What advantages do you think a more sensual life can bring to the general public? How can people incorporate sensuality in their often busy lives?
Tapping into a more sensual state is grounding. Self-care is our greatest tool in healing and fortifying ourselves against the stresses of the world. Sensual Shop will offer items to engage all the senses . . . touch, sight, sound, taste and smell, as well as the underappreciated sixth sense: intuition. One thing we hope to convey is that the sensual lives everywhere. It’s not necessarily one action or activity; it is an attitude and an approach to life.
What are some of your favorite products being sold at the event?
The night market on Friday features over 15 makers and artists, so there is truly something for everyone. Some highlights include slick, curvaceous jewelry by Morgan Reed, ceramic dildos by Manal Kara, wooden paddles by CV Robe, and textile restraints by Silk Shaman, as well as one-of-a-kind work by Noelia Torres, Cities in Dust, Eye of the Sun, Kangmankey, and more. The market is also worth attending for the experience: it will be candlelit, there will be cocktails and a provocative performance by Darling Shear and Kiara Lanier. It’s an immersive experience. Beyond Friday’s market, we are offering the related programming throughout the weekend: Slow Jams yoga with Lauren Ash (Party Noire, Black Girl in Om), a sexual pleasure workshop with sex therapist Rena McDaniel, and a first-of-its-kind erotic drawing class with artists Leah Ball and Tine DeFiore.
Do you envision other projects stemming from “Shop Sensual”? Will “Shop Sensual” happen regularly in the future?
Yes! We hope this is the first of many. Right now, we are playing with the possibility of staging a market as a manifesto. It’s a breathing experiment in participating in capitalism (because that is the water in which we all swim), but subverting (perverting) its typical patriarchal structure with the feminine and sensual in order to exploit the system—use it in service of our own principles, politics, and material dreams. We are asking what happens when you contaminate the professional with the personal, the public with the private, straight lines with soft curves, the boundaries with blurs.
More info at shopsensualpopup.com.