We can learn so much about sex from the vixens of the '40s and '50s
High-tech toys and dating apps may have changed the way we have sex, but there’s a lot to be said for old-school sensuality.
Welsh-American musician Judith Owen has spent her life immersed in the world of jazz and blues, touring the world and racking up a million streams from her 13 albums.
The singer/songwriter’s latest record celebrates the industry’s most seductive chanteuses of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, focusing on their (perhaps surprising) empowered, independent and unapologetic femininity.
Speaking this week on Metro.co.uk’s Smut Drop podcast, Judith tells host Miranda Kane just how much we can learn from the divas of days gone by.
‘I first heard these women when I was six years old, because my mom and dad were classical musicians,’ she explains. ‘My father was an opera singer at Covent Garden, but his incredible love was of jazz and blues.’
Her parents’ vinyl collection included works from the likes of Nellie Lutcher, Julia Lee, Dinah Washington, Blossom Dearie, Pearl Bailey and Peggy Lee.
One of Judith’s favourite songs as a child was Fine Brown Frame, which describes ‘a woman staring at a good looking, I mean, I drop-dead fit man, and just oozing over him – flirting in the most preposterous way.’
‘As a six-year-old, I didn’t know it was sexual,’ says the performer. ‘All I knew was it was filled with joy and humour, and made me want to dance around the room. Then, as I grew up, it made me want to dance around the room and take my clothes off.’
Many of the tracks she loved most growing up – and learned to properly appreciate as she got older – are now pushing 70, and Judith feels the women behind them have been ‘mostly forgotten’.
She says: ‘They were the trailblazers, singing about sex and celebrating it at a time when nice girls were meant to be singing about romance.
‘These women were absolutely nodding, winking, double entendre, innuendo, they were luxuriating in their female power in their female sexuality.’
In researching her most recent album, she was ‘deeply affected’ by the vixens’ lives and work.
‘A lot is left to learn,’ says Judith.
‘I think women over 40 have been fed the line for a very, very long time that somehow you become invisible, irrelevant, you turn to dust, you’re not sexy, everything dries up and turns to a husk. But it’s not the truth.’
Now 54, she says there’s a particularly freeing thing that comes with age: ‘When you get to a point where you don’t give a f*** about what anybody thinks about you, or you don’t give a s*** if somebody judges you.’
Judith continues: ‘What this music teaches you is to be your authentic, unapologetic, badass self. Embrace it, enjoy it because there is nothing sexier than confidence.’
She finds her confidence on stage wearing men’s tailoring and taking on an alter ego, Lady J, feeling sexiest with an androgynous old Hollywood look. However, she believes there’s a fine line between owning your sexuality and being objectified.
‘[My idols] made me want to be bolder and braver and stronger and take risks; to be sexual but on my terms, as myself. You still had to have that mystery,’ Judith says.
‘I’m keeping it on, I’m not taking it off, but I’m still sending out a ton of sex vibes… For me, sex isn’t about stripping off, and basically looking like you should beclimbing the pole.
‘If that’s what you’re going for, fantastic. But that’s not the only way, and that’s what I do want to say to young artists: there are many ways to be sexual and sexy.’
To get in the mood, she recommends Dinah Washington’s Big Long Slidin’ Thing, Julia Lee’s King Size Papa, and Aretha Franklin’s Respect, as well as her own album,Come On and Get It, which covers many of these classics.
‘I just want my listeners to know about this incredible music that I’ve been fascinated by and in love with since I was a kid,’ adds Judith.
‘And I want everybody to listen to this and put some red lipstick on or whatever makes them feel sexy, put their headphones on and sing along to it.
‘Sing along and dance your a** off, do all those things that make you feel connects you to your own sexuality, because that’s the point of it all.’
Smut Drop is a weekly podcast with host Miranda Kane from Metro.co.uk, touching on sex, dating and relationships.
With no holds barred, it’s the home of sex positive chat, where Miranda will be joined each week by sexperts and special guests to explore the world of the erotic.
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