For Decent Company February: LUST, Cristina Pitter will be performing a burlesque number based on the classic song “Fever” by Peggy Lee. Cristina sat down with Decent Company producing director Josh Boerman to talk about the differences between sensuality and sexuality, her unusual childhood literary treasures, and her big plans for February’s show.
JOSH BOERMAN: So, obviously you spend a great deal of time working as a sex educator. The issue of sex, the questions of lust, all of these are near and dear to your heart.
CRISTINA PITTER: Yes. (LAUGH)
JB: I just wanna know a little more about that.
CP: I have always been a firm advocate for sex and sensuality and the freedom to explore that, within safe confines. And that increased more as I became much more comfortable in my body, and expressing what I want. And I would say that’s the last three to four years, has been a really strong push forward in that aspect.
But I discovered my sexuality, and sensuality, more importantly, when I was very, very young. And it’s only now that these issues of shame and repression, and just getting by, and doing things actively but not with freedom, without any reservation or shame, has only come very recently.
JB: I’m interested in the idea of sensuality versus sexuality, what you consider to be the difference. You know, where they interact with each other, how, and why that matters to you.
CP: For sure. I feel like too many times, sexuality is all about aggression and desire and primal urges, which, sure, it can be. But too often, sensuality, literally just being sensual, focusing on your senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing, is thrown away, and often disregarded when it comes to sexuality and combining the two. And I think that you can be very sensual and not be sexual.
Like, taking away the sexualization of holding someone’s hand, of giving someone a hug, of laying down next to someone, you know? Like, you can be fully aware, and dive into your senses without making such a sexual thing. And knowing the layers of sexuality as well, of being soft in sexuality versus aggressive, versus it needing to be such a throbbing, animalistic thing.
They often do intertwine, but I feel like so often, when people first see it or approach it, it’s very separate. Like, you can’t be one without the— you can’t be one, separately. I feel like I’m crossing them over, because there’s so much. (LAUGH)
JB: Well, let’s put it this way. Do you feel like in American culture these days, we have a problem with being able to honestly express ourselves as sensual beings?
CP: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
JB: Like, what does that mean? What does that look like?
CP: Like, I’m drinking tea right now, and those senses of, like, “Oh, this is soothing me in a very visceral way,” and my senses of feeling the warmth of a hot cup of tea and tasting the chai and tasting the honey and the sweetness and loving that and being sensual in that.
And there is that line of, like, how much are you loving the senses of that, that it becomes a bit more heightened and sexual. Now, I’m not denying that’s there, but I feel like we, as a culture, immediately put the term “sexual” on there as almost like a bad thing.
Like, “you’re sensual,” and thinking, “well, now it’s sexual. Now you’re just hypersexualizing drinking this cup of tea,” where it doesn’t have to be that way. And the same with the sexuality being so strong, where you can be softer in it, and not be afraid to be vulnerable. I think that’s a big challenge that we encounter as a society, being open and vulnerable to all these emotions and feelings and senses that happen with being sexual, with exploring a different sexual act/person/feeling.
JB: So obviously, you work at a sex shop, and you do a lot with educating people with how to enjoy their own bodies, enjoy their partners’ bodies. And I would imagine you have a lot of times where you have to re-educate people in that very aspect of sensuality, about what it means to actually say “Yes, these are the things I enjoy, and that is good,” right?
CP: Uh-huh. And that’s good, and to honor that. To not be afraid of that, and to also respect, yes, these are my urges that I want to explore and I want to feel, and if it’s involving someone else, I know to take safe measures within that, with measures of consent. And in bringing my partner into this conversation of, let’s learn about these things together. Let’s talk about things that we both enjoy, what we don’t enjoy, and how to navigate that.
And very much so, it is the education that drives it into letting someone be okay with themselves and discover that. Because I’m not there teaching people how to have sex, you know? It’s more of relearning your body, and things that enhance your pleasure with relearning your body and your partner and trying different sexual things.
JB: What you said, just people being okay with themselves, and learning to be okay with themselves and trust themselves and go forward with that, I feel like is, in a lot of ways, the antithesis of the more puritanical kind of way that a lot of us have come up. Right?
CP: Yeah. I remember, and then when I mentioned earlier, having discovered my sexuality and sensuality at an early age—
JB: Yeah, tell me more about that.
CP: I wanna say six? Six. Yeah. And not knowing what masturbation is. Not knowing what sexuality is per se, because it’s a pure thing to feel these emotions.
JB: What did that look like for you? What happened?
CP: I just remember liking the way things were, when I would rub up against something, and what kind of feelings that sparked. And not overthinking it, ’cause I’m six years old, and all I could think was, like, “Oh, this feels good.” But then there’s something that clicked over, I wanna say, like seven, where it’s like, “Oh, I happen to only do this when I’m alone,” ’cause that just happened to be that way, and then during, like, “Oh, I don’t want other people to see me do this. Also, I don’t think this is a good thing.”
‘Cause it was never taught for me not to touch myself or to act a certain way, but it was a matter of, like, you know, “You’re not gonna run around naked, we have guests in the house.” Like, that type of deal. So learning that basic decorum.
JB: And did you talk to anybody when that sort of came alive in you?
CP: Oh, no. Very much a self-educated child, so much that when I was seven and we had a yard sale, and I learned how to read very young and fast and well, and there was a yard sale, and there were— I remember distinctly, at Manatuck Boulevard and Clarissa Avenue, that was the corner we lived on.
And there was a box of books in the near far corner by the street sign, and whatever, rummaging through, and I pick up one, and it’s this woman that looks like Medusa. And I’m reading these stories, which I figure out are erotica stories. Which, I figure out, “I don’t think anyone else knows about this.” (LAUGHS)
JB: And how old did you say you were at this point?
CP: Seven. I was seven. (LAUGHS)
And just knowing, ’cause, like, you get exposed to things as a child, and you don’t question them. You really just absorb it, and then when these other factors come in via education, via that sense of decorum that’s instilled in your parents or your religion, and I wasn’t brought up in a strict religious house.
And my parents were very much, you know, “Read what you wanna read.” Like, obviously, safe. And the curiosity got the best of me and I got this book, and I was like, “Great.” And I just remember this guy wanting a potion to make his dick bigger, and I believe it was called a “cock” in the book, and this magic, you know, witchy woman— oh, Lord, a lot of things are coming to me. Christ. (LAUGHS)
Made this potion, and she gave him, like, specific instructions, and he couldn’t wait, ’cause he really wanted to go on, like, this date or something. You know, prove himself to this woman. And it just got out of control, and it turned into, like, a snake, and just literally whacking around the room and breaking things. And I went, “Wow, this is a story. All right then.”
And I went and I got the encyclopedia and the dictionary and I looked up every single word that I did not know, and I taught myself every single thing that I possibly could about the body, and how we function, and what is sex. And so from a purely— how would you say? Book? Wow, I’m—
CP: Thank you, literary, and scientific approach. Like, I knew what sex was, I knew about babies were being made, I knew what this is, and I knew from my own experience, I know what sexuality is and what makes me feel good. And now I know that these things cannot be done just in broad daylight in front of people, and there’s a certain way of living, and doing things in a private manner.
So I was good. My parents never had the birds and the bees conversation with me. They trust— they were like, “You’re smart, you know, don’t be an idiot.”
JB: But now, obviously, you’re here. You’re doing a show where you’re performing this wonderful burlesque number. And I was just hoping you could tell me a little bit more about, you know, what you’re hoping to get across to people through this.
CP: Yeah. Yeah. So with this piece, I chose “Fever” because it’s one of my favorite songs, and I love the temptation of letting fever take you over, and succumbing to those feelings. Whether it be in a person, in an event, and whatever it is. And enjoying it, enjoying that ride.
And I love that. There’s something fun and dangerous in that, when you truly let yourself give over into something that you crave. And yeah, I like the danger of it. And I like the seduction, and I like making people squirm and make them think about what it is that they really want and their urges.
And that little bit of indecency, sometimes. And not always acting on it, and knowing that we all have a thing, we all have things that we want, urges, and it’s great to address them. Yeah, that’s where the piece came with me, and so adding, you know, the dance and the singing and the little bit of my own poetry to enhance that? I love it.
JB: It feels very you.
CP: It’s entirely me. (LAUGHS)
JB: And I remember you telling me a little bit about the last show that you did for We Are Animals, the piece you did for that. And I was hoping you could tell me again about that story that you told me before about that guy.
CP: The guy in the audience? (LAUGHS)
JB: The guy in the audience. I was hopin’ you could talk a bit about that guy in the audience and tie that into what you’re hoping to bring to bring to the audience this time around.
CP: Oh, oh yeah. So when I did We Are Animals, which is a series of shows based around a theme that Catya McMullen and company bring about, and Scott Klopfenstein. And she’s a rapper, and we tell all these different stories, and he writes songs. And so then what we did was We Are Animals 4: Fucking, and it was all about sex and sexuality and, god, it was amazing.
And I played a fem dom, and I came in, walking down the aisle in a body stocking, with only a thong and heels and a riding crop, and what people thought were pasties but in actuality, it was just body paint over my nips because I didn’t have time to make pasties that were big enough for my nips.
So that was that, folks. (LAUGHS) And when we got done with that first night, Catya’s mom proceeded to tell her that, “Uh, just wanna let you know, guy sitting next to me had a— had a boner. Had a boner the whole show. And I don’t know if that’s something that you wanna address or have her change.”
And Catya’s like, “No, I’m telling her, this is amazing.” (LAUGHS) And so my goal with this piece for LUST is that I can have that same effect on everyone, but, like, tenfold. Because I’m gonna be getting on top of some people.
JB: So, bigger boners.
CP: Uh-huh. I want bigger boners all around.
JB: That’s it, man. That’s the name of the game.
CP: That’s all I want. I want bigger boners. All around. (LAUGHS)
To buy tickets for Decent Company February: LUST, click here.