"I think porn [movies] and magazines are just tools for your relationship. I take charge of those things," announces Georgia Payne.
Well, of course she does -- Payne is among the country's top dominatrixes, and now co-author of How to be a Dominant Diva (Avalon, 2006).
"I'd rather be part of my husband [using porn] than have him do it without me -- then it's about our relationship."
Okay, so it might not be popular opinion that Teenage Mutant Ninja Dildos belongs in the DVD player. And it's not likely that most of us who've settled into long-term coupledom consider cheerleader costumes to be wardrobe must-haves, or sex stores to be favored lunch-hour pit stops. But Payne and her cohort Julie Taylor, a sex columnist for Redbook and Cosmopolitan, are asking women -- and not just the Victoria's Secret models -- to reconsider.
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Before you throw in the G-string, it's important to understand that Diva -- despite Payne's area of expertise -- isn't about how to be a domme. "What I bring to the table is telling women it's time to take charge of their power," Payne (who grew up in Asheville, and returns this week for an appearance at Malaprop's) reveals. "I'm not against men's pleasure [and a quick scan of the book reveals the guys certainly get theirs], but it's important for women to know [that] they're half of the relationship."
The book, a series of 69 (what else?) sexy games, is organized by subject matter rather than level of difficulty or athletic prowess. In fact, the second game, "Lap of Luxury," involves taking your man to a strip bar and buying him a lap dance. Not stuff for the faint of heart. However, each exercise is preceded by a Michelin-style rating -- one stiletto means it's on the tame side; four, according to the author, "means we double-dare you to try this."
While much of Diva involves feasting off one another's nude bodies, dressing up in sassy role-playing attires (naughty nurse, anyone?) or dripping hot wax over sensitive skin (don't worry, the writers offer specific guidelines), many games push boundaries.
"We do not advocate bringing a third person into the bedroom," Payne insists. It's a stance that seems almost at odds with the look-but-don't-touch lap dance, or another exercise that involves sending your guy to Hooters (not to mention the unsavory objectifying-women aspect of both adventures).
"If you're not into something and it doesn't turn you on, don't do it," the author shrugs.
So, who exactly is Diva for? "Couples in healthy relationships," Payne maintains. "If you're on a first date, this book is not for you."
Beyond that, the authors have found a strong response in 20- and 30-something women -- a fact Payne attributes to women having sex younger and knowing sooner what they want.
The book boasts a companion Web site (dominantdiva.com) which offers more sex tips, a host of products and links, and a chance for fans to sound off. "We really incorporate technology," Payne notes. "It's so much a part of our lives, especially in our 20s and 30s, so why not use it?" Expect iPods, cell phones and chat rooms to enter into the fun.
But, even if you're not a freewheeling 20-something, don't be too quick to pass Diva by. "Sometimes being a mom can make you feel really un-sexy. (Even though it was sex that made you a mom in the first place...)," co-author Taylor writes on Divablog.
"Julie is the mother of two children under age five," Payne reveals. "She doesn't have time to do these elaborate scenarios. What she brought to the table was 'no fuss, no muss.'"
The authors explain in the book's first pages, "Being a dominant Diva doesn't mean you're a whip-wielding drill sergeant who barks orders in the bedroom. On the contrary, a Dominant Diva is a woman who knows what she wants and how to get it in a way that's sexy, not scary."
So, recap: light bondage, tips on how to give a good spanking, naughty gadgetry, and enough quickies thrown into the mix to keep even the busiest diva happy. Less leather-bustiered domme, more hot mama and sassy exec -- but you can always spring for a PVC catsuit if the thrill goes out of the fuzzy handcuffs.
"Everyone falls into sexual ruts," Payne says. "Our mission in life is for couples to be more open and communicative in the bedroom, and to have an affair -- with each other."
Georgia Payne hosts a book signing for How to be a Dominant Diva at Malaprop's (55 Haywood St.) on Friday, April 7. 8 p.m. Free. 254-6734.