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Speaker uses couples to show students the art of kissing

Published: February 13, 2009, 10:55 am ET
Art of Kissing
Lily Ackerman/The Collegian
Couples experiment with one of Michael Christian's kissing techniques on stage in the Tyler Haynes Commons in front of hundreds of their peers on Feb. 13.
Collegian Reporter

Michael Christian has literally tried every kiss in the book — his own book, “The Art of Kissing,” an international bestseller that has been translated into 19 foreign languages and printed more than 250,000 times worldwide.

“I wrote this book to try to improve my sex life, but it didn’t work,” Christian said to an audience of almost 300 Thursday night in the Pier. People were packed into the seating area, standing in the back and on the sides, sitting on the spiral staircase and in front of the Think Tank and leaning over the second floor railing.

The show was made up of six couples — Tori Schwetz and Justin Grove, Colby Sheffer and Keon Piper, Meredith Dudley and Kevin Grayson, Jake Russel an Irena Stanisic and Jordan Trippeer and Patrick Burns — who demonstrated kisses and performed short skits while Christian explained the types of kisses, the technique involved and the ways men’s and women’s preferences differ, which was revealed through research for his book.

Types of kisses featured included the French kiss, the vacuum kiss, the upside-down kiss, lip-o-suction, the butterfly kiss, the Trobriand Islands kiss, the music kiss, the Eskimo kiss, the electric kiss and the hickey.

During the research for his book, Christian gave a 208-question survey to 100,000 people, asking questions such as: What do you like and dislike most about kissing? Do men like lipstick on women? And do women like stubble on men? He said he found that women liked being kissed on the ears twice as much as men and the neck 10 times as much, while men tended to enjoy biting more.

Eight percent of men said they liked the taste of lipstick, and 30 percent of women said they actually liked stubble.

Hundreds of students gathered in the Tyler Haynes Commons Thursday night to learn different types of kisses from author Michael Christian.
Lily Ackerman/The Collegian

Hundreds of students gathered in the Tyler Haynes Commons Thursday night to learn different types of kisses from author Michael Christian.

All of the skits had the audience in an uproar, but one of the highlights was the “dentist office fantasy,” for which Christian explained at rehearsal, “Ladies, throw your arms around his neck, kick your legs out and tackle that bad boy to the ground!” That’s when Grayson went from massaging Dudley’s shoulders to stealing second base on stage.

“It felt good, exciting,” Grayson said. Later in the evening, a demonstration of the electric kiss sent Burns leaping off stage and Christian’s method for spicing up a love life almost ended in one person’s pants dropping on stage.

Christian gave a myriad of advice throughout the show: “If you want a guy to kiss you, look at him and smile and flirt and watch his ‘excitement’ grow (an umbrella Grayson held as a euphemism for male anatomy) … Practice on your own with your thumb … Bite the lip, and it hurts, but it hurts good! … Never be ashamed of your hickeys, wear them with pride!

“I was always interested in relationships and romance,” Christian continued. “I teach English, and D.H. Lawrence’s Mr. Noon has some terrific kissing scenes that inspired me while I was writing the book.”

Christian has directed the show at 400 schools, the first of which was a student-driven effort at Boston College. He has answered thousands of letters, e-mails and phone calls since his book was published in 1991, he said. A Jersey City, N.J., native, he teaches English at the City University of New York at Staten Island and answers questions at mike@kissing.com.

Campus Activities Board members Colby Sheffer, vice president of administration, and Amy Newsock, vice president of campus relations, witnessed the program when they attended the three-day National Association for Campus Activities convention in Chattanooga, Tenn., last semester. They watched about 30 showcases, but “The Art of Kissing” and comedian Kyle Grooms, who performed on Jan. 31 in the Alice Haynes Room, stood out, Newsock said.

“I think people at this school have a hard time expressing themselves with public displays of affection,” Newsock said. “I’m hoping it can break some people out of their shells and make them a little more comfortable with it, that this isn’t something that needs to be hidden in the corner of a lodge.”

Sophomore Larry Enweze found the program to be “surprisingly informative.”

“I’m going to use them all tomorrow,” he said.

Contact reporter Avril Lighty at avril.lighty@richmond.edu

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  • GLBT

    Just another example of all the programming on this campus being geared towards the heterosexual community. I’m sure this speaker cost a lot of money and another example of campus programming that is heterosexist.

  • Avril Lighty

    Hi GLBT,

    Actually, a lesbian couple was going to participate but cancelled at the last minute because they had a test to study for. Mike Christian has always included GLBT couples in the demonstration whenever possible, but he needs the volunteers to make that happen. Amy Newsock expressed disappointment that they couldn’t make it because she felt UR could really benefit from a healthy display of homosexual affection. I hope you’ll volunteer with a friend or partner if CAB brings the program back next year!

    Avril

  • CAB

    GLBT-

    On behalf of CAB, we would like to apologize if this event offended anyone but CAB does not discriminate against homosexual couples. The reason there were no homosexual couples is because they simply did not volunteer. Like Avril said, there was going to be a girl-girl couple but they pulled out last minute. And in reference to the speaker costing a lot, it was actually one of the lowest costing events we have brought to the campus. And considering the turnout, the event was a success. Should you have any suggestions, requests or ideas for future events feel free to email cab@richmond.edu or contact us through Facebook.

  • LGBTQ

    I would also like to draw attention to another seemingly heterosexual based event: “Live Confessions of a College Male: On Dating, Sex, and Being in Love.” This is especially true with a tag phrase of their Facebook Event Page of “Well, ladies, this is your chance! Ask away! “

  • Allen

    the majority of students on this campus are heterosexual, thus the majority of programming that deals with relationships on campus will be heterosexually oriented. The organizers worked to include a homosexual couple, thats commendable. I’ve seen a fair amount of LGBTQ programs advertised on campus. Its perfectly logical, but it seems that a lot of people out there don’t seem to think logically.

    On another note, can CAB focus on getting a decent band before I graduate.

  • LGBTQ-2

    Dearest Allen,

    Could you please tell me 5 events that have occurred this year? I attended the comedian, which was sponsored by CAB, who continually mocked homosexuals and their sexual acts. It is not as though the GLBT community is asking for a full event but at least a few participants in the event, such as a homosexual couple at the kissing event or a homosexual at the “Live Confessions of a College Male: On Dating, Sex, and Being in Love.”

  • Garrett Pinder

    To LGBTQ about Live Confessions of a College Male:

    As someone who is part of the LGBTQ community on campus, I saw this event and spoke to the people involved. They said they were searching for non-heterosexual men who would be willing to sit on the panel. They said they didn’t know who to ask, or who would feel comfortable doing it.

    In fact, I was going to volunteer myself, but I had to go to a required event for a class and wouldn’t have been able to make it.

    If this sort of thing bothers you, why don’t you try taking Avril’s previously stated advice, and volunteer yourself for some events? I think you’d be surprised at how receptive most people can be to non-heterosexual lifestyles on this campus.

  • Jackson

    I agree with Allen, although I suppose people are going to whine no matter what CAB decides to do…

  • Trey

    BRING BACK YELLOWCARD

  • Josh

    Okay, as the president of CAB, I have to clear a few things up. The purpose of CAB is to provide events that appeal to the student body. The art of kissing was in no way heterosexual, because anyone could have partcipated had they had the nerve to get on stage. The program was about teaching people how to kiss, no matter who the partner. As for the band, we’re working on that. You have to understand that we literally can get no dates for the Robins Center. We have the desire to do a big band, but money and time is an issue. We were literally offered only two dates in the Robins Center for the entire year, the last two days of classes, and that really restricts what we can do. And if you think we can afford to bring Kanye, you are kidding yourself. While our budget has gone up a bit, it is no where near the budgets of other schools.

  • Ana

    Re: Josh’s comment that this event “was in no way heterosexual because anyone could have participated had they had the nerve to get on stage,” I think it’s worth considering *why* members of the LGBTQ community might not have what you call “the nerve” to perform public acts of affection or sexuality on campus. Heterosexuality is the assumed norm here (as it is most places), and one of the consequences of that is that those who don’t fit the norm can feel marginalized, excluded, stigmatized–and worse. If you’ve read the recent Collegian articles related to this issue, you’ll know that many, if not all, of the LGBTQ community on campus don’t feel that UR is a particularly tolerant, accepting, or welcoming environment for those who don’t conform. And given that this year’s “One Book, One Campus” selection is about conformity, I think it’s safe to say there are many on campus who feel that the pressure to “fit in” to social norms (sexual or otherwise) is fairly prevalent at UR.

    In theory, this event may have been completely open to gender and sexual diversity; but, in practice, it’d be hard to support the claim that an event featuring six heterosexual couples kissing on stage was “was in no way heterosexual.” So, while I think it’s great that CAB tried to get a same-sex couple to participate in the event, I also think it’s short-sighted not to recognize the broader culture of heteronormativity on campus and the fact that events like this, intentionally or not, perpetuate these attitudes and assumptions.

  • BigDeal

    I think the problem everyone here is having is with the intent of the program. Was the art of kissing designed to promote heterosexuality and normative behavior, or was it simply meant to be fun. I’m sorry we don’t have a huge homesexual population on campus, but to be upset that a organization who does something for fun is absurd. Lets look instead at the coordinate college system or the Greek system. And lets realize that you cannot please everyone. I know folks don’t feel comfortable all the time at UR because they are a minority or because they are gay, and that’s a real shame, but this is the real world. People’s feelings get hurt. Take other people’s actions with a grain of salt. Grow stronger beacuse of it.

  • Bill

    It really makes me sick that some people can take something innocent like this and twist it into a hate-filled anti-gay event. Get over yourselves! Everyone is not out to get you.

  • I agree

    Ana I agree with your ideas and theories. I think any program that is more inclusive and open to the student body would be a positive.

  • LGBTQ-2

    I really liked the film choice this weekend with MILK. I would encourage all members of the Richmond Community watch it. The only thing that was disheartening about the selection was it was paired with Cadillac Records. So far this year, it is the only film to have to be competing with another film. Cadillac Records may not be playing this weekend as programming may have changed. Yet, the fact that the only LGBTQ film was the only film paired with another is disheartening. I really encourage everyone to stop by and watch any part of the film.