The Interview/Sarah Forbes Curator, Author, Sexual Culturalist
From health, to beauty, to fashion and art; the people in this feature designed their lives based on their very personal interests, talents and goals.
1. Who? Sarah Forbes, 34 (London) Curator + Author + Sexual Culturalist
2. You are an anthropologist and were the Curator at the Museum of Sex in Manhattan New York for over a decade.
You have also written an amazing book titled ‘Sex in The Museum; My Unlikely Career at New York’s Most Provocative Museum’ that featured in Cosmopolitan, on CBS and Huffington Post.
In short a career that is so unique it will be difficult for most people to grasp.
Can you tell us a little bit about the professional journey that led to the Museum Of Sex.
I certainly didn't set out to be a "Curator of Sex" but like most great adventures in life, it happened by chance.
I was 22 years old, had just graduated from University and was heading straight into a graduate program in Anthropology with a focus on gender.
If you asked me then I was going to become a professor and live with indigenous tribes across the Amazon.
But while signing the lease for my first apartment, my boyfriend at the time, was sent off to wander my new neighborhood. And by fate, he stumbled upon the recently opened Museum of Sex.
A little dubious, I met him there, and was so pleasantly surprised to find a real and rare Museum talking about sex openly, honestly and without censorship. I fell in love. And in the longest of long shots dropped off my resume.
With another anthropologist on staff leaving, it was nothing less than serendipity. I started as a researcher, then Assistant Curator and when finally done with grad school was offered the role as Curator of the Museum of Sex. After curating more than 20 exhibitions, and serving as the public spokesperson for the Museum, that one chance encounter resulted in the next 12 years of professional experiences. How could I not write a memoir about this once in a life time adventure.
3. In beginning of 2016 you departed the museum with a final exhibition called ‘Object XXX’ What is the craziest object/artefact you have come across whilst curating the exhibition?
Sex brings out the best of our human creativity. I've seen everything from every type of sex machine possible to $10,000 customized sex dolls, made from such an incredible high grade silicone, they truly deserve their name "RealDolls."
In the exhibition, "ObjectsXXX," I featured a contemporary resin chastity belt (the artists' girlfriend wore it for 15 days straight once), a braile Playboy, a merkin (a pubic wig, once used by sex workers of the past to burlesque dancers of the early 20th century trying to convince their patrons they were getting to see more than they were in actuality) to some vibrators from the 1920s (originally created by doctors to be used on their patients). And those are just the top of the iceberg...
4. There is a lot of conversation at the moment on female empowerment, and the right of women to be entitled to own and show their sexuality, a lot of it driven by Celebrities. How much of that conversation is actually reflective of a real historical shift in attitudes and perception of women when it comes to sexuality? Have you experienced that change in attitudes yourself in your decade long career at the museum?
The growing fame of the Museum of Sex, a cultural shift in our societal attitude toward sex, and my personal evolution as a woman, are so deeply interwoven in this specific cultural moment. Across the last decade I've seen sex toys evolve from novelty objects sold in hushed tones, to beautifully designed luxury objects; now found in 1 in 4 households. This trend shows that women are taking their own sexual pleasure seriously, as a right.
I also see my personal generation of woman, wanting a fulfilling life on all levels---professionally, personally as well as sexually.
With celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Beyonce, continuing to rock their sexuality post motherhood, I think it represents a desire of women today to sustain a sexually empowered identity through every chapter of their lives.
5. You have recently moved from New York to London. Two Global Cities with similarities but equally a lot of differences. What would you say is one of the biggest cultural differences in attitudes towards sex and sexuality.
Since the day I moved to London, Londoners keep asserting to me they are actually "very European when it comes to sex." I translate this to mean, "don't think behind this culturally reserved facade we don't really love sex."
To me, it's a tremendously English way of saying, but not saying directly, they are actually very down for a good time. I could never imagine a New Yorker saying something similar. But it doesn't mean I think New Yorkers are more sexually active. Years of experience in this field has taught me, it's often those you don't expect it of that are often having the most kinky and boisterous sexual encounters behind closed doors.
6. What such an remarkable career so far, what is your next step. Will you follow a similar path in London and help educate people about sex and sexuality?
I'm forever committed to being an educator that guides people to think outside the box and beyond the textbook. For me that is rooted in IRL experiences. So whether they are exhibitions, installations or brand activations, I plan on continuing to create content on sex, sexuality, gender and identity that is both educational and entertaining. In our digitally saturated world, I think people are genuinely craving these kinds of experiences. As a consultant and sexual culturalist, I'm excited to start working with a wide range of London institutions, content creators and companies who seeks out these very opportunities. As long as I'm engaging in the craft of "making," I'm open to a wide range of projects. It's a very exciting time, starting fresh in such a vibrantly creative city.
7. Finally, is there any scientific evidence for the popular belief that a Red Lip really makes a woman more sexually attractive?
Yes! Whether it's being considered more attractive in a social situations, or even professional gains (studies have shown waitresses wearing red lipstick gain more in tips) there is an evolutionary reason red lips have a certain power. It's tied to signals of fertility...and the fact that much of the animal kingdom often advertises this with a reddening of the vulva during ovulation. That's right, you wearing red lipstick is our human equivalent of displaying sexual receptivity.
Photo Credit: BFA, @mcgawesome
Follow Sarah Forbes @curatorofsex
To find out more about The Museum Of Sex New York visit www.museumofsex.com
Who? Jasmin Allen, 29. A born and raised Londonder
Senior Colour Master/ Creative Director for Colour at Errol Douglas, Belgravia
2. You are part of the team at one of London’s most renowned salon’s Errol Douglas. What started you on this journey?
Unlike my friends I always knew what I wanted to do, I was obsessed with hair and wanted to be hairdresser. Colour was exciting to me. I loved art and I suppose it was always more like art to me than just colouring hair. It was painting and creating - my passion. Having mixed race hair I always felt it wasn’t catered for – in Afro salons the products were too heavy and in the European salons they didn't know how to handle my hair – I felt like my hair was a problem from a young age.
My hair experiences and passion for colour convinced Errol (Errol Douglas MBE) I was worth investing in as his Junior, it also answered personal goals and motivations to work somewhere were the clientele was just as multicultural as the staff.
A few years ago I travelled to Australia as his assistant, I met Jane Stacey (Creative Director, Tony & Guy at the time) who was an inspiration, she was fearless when it came to colouring.
3. Hairstylists with a starry client list are becoming celebrities themselves? What is the main difference when working with celebrities compared to working with ’normal’ people?
Throughout my career I have worked with celebrities and popular influencers. From television to film. And I approach every head of hair with the same ethos. From a creative, professional perspective I understand the impact of ‘the celebrity’. It can be a catalyst for new trends through their fans, who get inspired and want to copy them. However. I believe every hair type, every person and every time I colour hair is as important and I create with a bespoke attitude to achieve what the client wants whilst balancing that with what they need and fits them best.
Whether I am a Celebrity myself? Hahaha I prefer to concentrate on my clients.
4. what is the hairstyle you had that you most regret?
Haha my 'breakup' hairstyle. I was 17 and devastated and had it cut when I was emotionally fuelled after a breakup; although I use the term ‘breakup’ loosely as I was only 17 he probably just didn't fancy me back lol!
It was a bob, it didn’t suit my hair type, me or anything that I was about.
5. How does Beauty fit into what you do as a hairstylist? How do you ensure that you keep glowing no matter how busy you are? Any specific beauty tips.
Everything. Quite literally everything, fashion influence hair, beauty influences products, hair influences design – inspiration can come from anything! Creatives work together and talk the same language. I am a trained make up artist, so it is natural for me to take beauty into consideration with every client.
It is a wonderful industry to work in.
What do I do to keep Glowing? I have this holy grail product which is a peach eye brightener. I swear by it. Peach neutralises dark circles under eyes in the same way the green neutralises pink in cheeks. It keeps me looking bright and feeling sparkly even when I'm not.
6. What would you advice anybody wanting to get a new radical hairstyle?
Go for it but don't necessarily go for it. Always go for a bespoke version suitable for you. To enhance your qualities and beauty. Take into consideration Your skin, Your hair type. Your face shape. just because it's in fashion doesn't necessarily mean it will suit You…….
Oh! and don't do anything emotional charged. Remember what happened to me…..’The Break Up Bob’.
7. In 10 years I will be …..
Teaching! I love helping people and guiding them. To repay the industry for what it gave me, to help the new up and coming generation of hairdressers. I am an example of where hard work and passion for hairdressing can lead, I want to let young people know they can do it too.
Jasmin's Career Path
Studied a master with Matrix colour and became one of their first Colour Masters in London*year* (studying the science behind the colour)
Worked on 6 of Errol Douglas' collections for British hairdresser of the Year awards, as colour Director and pushed a lot of My boundaries coming up with new effects.
Nominated as colour expert for the Creative Head awards
Regularly featured as a colour expert in trade and consumers Magazines advising on colour trends and technics
To find out more about Jasmin's work visit erroldouglas.com
I love the buzzing fashion world but I am most comfortable in the Kitchen creating recipes or on the sofa cuddling my sons.
My youngest son also has many food allergies which increased my interest in food and health.
without resorting to temptation and unhealthy quick fixes for energy for yourself or your children, and keeping your fitness levels up.
I always like to emphasise that I am not perfect, far from it but I try. The key for me is preparation. I find it easier to keep on track with healthy eating if I have plenty of healthy options around me.
That said everyone that knows me knows that I am partial to cakes and cookies. I always try to make my own healthy but delicious variations of treats which but will cave to a victoria sponge cake at any time and I feel no guilt about it.
I strongly believe we should all try to eat mindfully and if you do have something unhealthy own it and don't feel any guilt - be kind to yourself.
I personally believe in the phrase beauty is skin deep. I feel that if you are a kind beautiful person on the inside it will always shine through on the outside, that said a little concealer never did any harm.
I try and keep my make up and beauty routine simple and where possible use organic clean products.
I find that having had professional makeup artists for most of my adult life at work when it comes down to me doing things myself I keep it basic and as natural as possible!