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.
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org