Something About Smoking

A de-saturated still from Malena (2000), featuring Monica Bellucci. 

A de-saturated still from Malena (2000), featuring Monica Bellucci. 

I always hated cigarettes. When I was a toddler, I remember getting reprimanded for taking a pack of my mom's (she was a chain smoker throughout my childhood in the 90s) taking them out individually, and shredding them with my tiny hands over and into the toilet. I told her I didn't want her to die from smoking, and still support the idea of her quitting to this day. But there's something about smoking. 

I don't know where it began, truly. Almost every single person I've been in "a relationship" with, from mere months to years, has been a smoker (almost all have picked up a bass guitar in some capacity as well, psychoanalyze that). Maybe it's the familiarity of the smell to me, a person who has been a second-hand smoker since before leaving the womb. There's just something about smoking. 

I have always encouraged my partners not to smoke; the smell of smoke makes me unbearably nauseous. Smoking tobacco itself does the same, invoking headaches and severe nausea unless I take it slow and steady, not inhaling but holding. I only ever smoked cigarettes recently and do only rarely. I can't handle being in enclosed spaces with someone whose smoking. Regardless, there's something about smoking. 

Dita Von Teese performing "Teese'ing" at Crazy Horse Paris, which can be seen in the documentary Crazy Horse Paris Avec Dita Von Teese. 

Dita Von Teese performing "Teese'ing" at Crazy Horse Paris, which can be seen in the documentary Crazy Horse Paris Avec Dita Von Teese

Despite all of these things, there was something about smoking, in old films especially. Vintage flicks in black and white that are hazy with the stuff, laden with it. Glamorous women who struck me as this ideal, semi-fetishistic femininity. Handsome men seen smoking, or rushing forward to a tight shot of her gloved hand, jewels at the wrist, him taking out a silver lighter, flicking it open, lighting as she slowly inhales. A thoughtful moment almost suspended in time. 

The first realization that it was something I fetishized came only a few years ago. I was dating someone who chain smoked more than anyone else I've ever been romantic with, and we were often closed into his small bedroom. His beard and his hands had that distinct smell of someone who smokes frequently. Without disclosing too many details (I prefer to keep people I've been involved with off the blog), I can cite my first sexualized experiences of smoking. It involved a sort of tease and denial: he'd smoke a cigarette or stuff his pipe full with the tobacco I'd bought him and ignore me, the object and one rule of the game was that I had to climax before he finished. I don't know if anyone who doesn't have this preoccupation can understand what was so enticing about this. It was simply something about smoking. 

I have never tried to find people with aligning interests on kinky or non-monogamous dating sites, though I have occasionally brought it up in messages if it seems like they might be interested. The only real flags for this are if they have images of cigarettes or smoking in their profile: it seems that very few people advertise for this kind of interest. It's always been hard for me to "search" for people with interlocking proclivities; instead, I let chance take the wheel. It's also particularly difficult when it comes to smoking, which is increasingly taboo in western society. As with many fetishes, that something about smoking, that taboo, is part of the fuel that drives.

Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne in the original Twin Peaks (1990-1991). 

Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne in the original Twin Peaks (1990-1991). 

Smoking, personally, is like putting on a costume. Whether it's the typical "bad boy" with the thick black leather moto jacket draped against a wall, or the tomboyish flapper wearing a beaded, loose-fitting dress that weighs as much as she does, telling people they can fuck right off for suggesting her ciggie is unladylike. It's also the glamorous silver-screen vixen and her accessories: silver cigarette case and matching lighter, long cigarette holder, and gloves to protect her hands from sun and smell. It's the whiff of gender-fuckery that comes with a hobby that was originally reserved for men. A smoking fetish is, for many, comprised of a constellation of moving parts, references, sensations. It's something about smoking that catches the imagination. 

This is why there's no clear or concise way to explain something like smoking fetish. For me, it's comprised of snapshots, moving and still, from media and real life both. Sometimes it's that person who, without realizing it and without intention, becomes magnetic to your gaze as they light their cigarette. That moment becomes etched into your memory, irrevocable. It's something about smoking. 

Image shows an "anatomical venus" an antique wax figure used for anatomical study of unknown to me origin. It's from the book The Anatomical Venus: Wax, God, Death, and the Ecstatic by Joanna Ebenstein.

Image shows an "anatomical venus" an antique wax figure used for anatomical study of unknown to me origin. It's from the book The Anatomical Venus: Wax, God, Death, and the Ecstatic by Joanna Ebenstein.

*Disclaimer: There are many things that can be said about smoking fetish; the most important is that I don't endorse smoking or support it as a lifestyle choice, either in my personal life or online. Tobacco smoking is dangerous to your health and also highly addictive. I personally save it for special occasions, buying fancy cigarettes that I keep hidden away for most of the year. It is your right to make your own informed decisions about your health, but I always feel that I should make this kind of distinction when I write about my interest in smoking. It's not something I want to promote as healthy or good, and I'd encourage anyone who experiments to do so in moderation, but ultimately respect each individual's right to choose for themselves.*

Thank you to my sponsor Swingtowns for commissioning this post. All opinions and writing are my own.