Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from The Art of Kissing by Pietro Ramirez — a funny little book first published in 1938. Ramirez begins by instructing readers on how to perform the basic “lip-kiss” (including an important section on “How to Kiss Girls With Different Sizes of Mouths”) as well as the “French ‘soul’ kiss.” He then suggests that readers expand their kissing repertoire, as “variation kisses are the spice of love.”
There might be some of you who may wonder why such kissing subterfuges and substitutes are necessary. It is only that man is a questioning animal. He is never satisfied with the ordinary and commonplace because the commonplace, after a time, becomes very boring. Not that I mean to infer that the usual “lip-kiss” is commonplace. Absolutely not. The “lip-kiss,” as I have mentioned before, is the piece de resistance, the main course in the “banquet of love” as the poet, Ovid, called it. But imagine a meal in which there were seven courses of filet mignon or seven courses of lobster. You’d get sick and tired of a tender filet after the third course, wouldn’t you? And after the second lobster, you wouldn’t be able to look a lobster in the eye, that is, providing a lobster has eyes. So you see why it is that if the lip-kiss were indulged in exclusively, you would reach a point where it would lose all of its rapturous savor.
PUT VARIETY INTO YOUR KISSES
1. The Vacuum Kiss
Here you start off by first opening your mouth a trifle just after you have been resting peacefully with closed lips. Indicate to your partner, by brushing her teeth with the tip of your tongue, that you wish for her to do likewise. The moment she responds, instead of caressing her mouth, suck inward as though you were trying to draw out the innards of an orange. If she knows of this kiss variation, your maid will act in the same way and withdraw the air from your mouth. In this fashion, in a very short while, the air will have been entirely drawn out of your mouths. Your lips will adhere so tightly that there will almost be pain, instead of pleasure. But it will be the sort of pain that is highly pleasurable. That may sound odd but, nevertheless, it is a fact. Pain becomes so excruciating as to become pleasure.
This kiss must, of necessity, last a comparatively short time. There is too much strain on the delicate mouth tissues and the muscles tire very easily. It is for this reason that this kiss should be shortened. However, there is a special technique to be used to terminate it. When you decide that you have had enough of it, don’t suddenly tear your mouth away. At least, don’t do it if there are other people present in the house. For, they will be startled by the sound of a loud report which will result if you act suddenly. Any vacuum when suddenly opened to air gives off a loud popping noise. The procedure is simply to open first a corner of your mouth. You will hear a faint hissing sound when this is done. Immediately, you will find the pressure in your mouth lessen.
The muscles will relax. And a delicious sense of torpor will creep over your entire body, giving it a lassitude that is almost beatific.
2. The Eyelash Kiss
After an intense period of “soul kissing” or vacuum kissing has been indulged in and both lovers lie back tiredly looking into each other’s eyes, the young man should lean over the face of the girl. But, instead of implanting his lips on hers, he should bring his cheek into direct contact with her cheek again. Then, when this is done, he should lower his eyelash so that they enmesh with the eyelash of his partner. This, of course, is done one eye at a time. And when the enmeshing process is complete, each should gently rise and lower his or her eyelids. The contact of the hair of the eyelash is one that is almost indescribable. Suffice it to say, it is a charming bypath in the meadows of love that is pleasant, provocative and yet not exhausting.
3. The Nip Kiss
Naturally, in the “nip kiss” the kisser is not supposed to open his mouth like the maw of a lion and then sink his fangs into the delicate flesh of the kisser. Ridiculous! The procedure is the same as the ordinary kiss except that, instead of closing your lips with the kiss, you leave them slightly open and, as though you were going to nibble on a delicious tidbit, take a playful nip into either the nape of the neck, the cheek, or the lips. Just a nip is enough. And the resultant pleasure, I assure you, will more than compensate for the slight inconvenience.
4. Delayed Kiss
Technically, [the delayed kiss] is not exactly a variation but simply a variation in the technique of the ordinary “lip-kiss.” It employs the use of the “delayed action” in its execution. The old story of the fox and grapes which were tantalizingly dangled over his head is the foundation for the method. Simply, the procedure is this: just before lowering your lips for the kiss, instead of planting the kiss, draw your head back again. Then, hold your lips in readiness but do not kiss. Hold this position for as long as possible, the while you smile tantalizingly into the eyes of the girl. Finally, when both you and she can stand the suspense no longer, then lower your lips, slowly, as slowly as you possibly can, and imprint the seal of love onto the avid mouth of your loved one. After that, the technique calls for no specific action. Kissing, like loving, is instinctive.
5. The Electric Kiss
Some few years ago, a very peculiar kissing custom arose which deserves mention here because, from it, we can learn how to adapt the method to our modern devices. At that time, when young people got together, they held, what was then known as “electric kissing parties.” Young people are ever on the outlook for novel ways of entertaining themselves. In fact, when ether was first developed as an anesthetic, the young bloods of the town used to form “ether-sniffing” parties in which they got a perfectly squiffy ether “jag.” But to return to the “electric kisses.” An excerpt from a contemporary writer will, perhaps, give us some idea of what happened:
“The ladies and gentlemen range themselves about the room. In leap year the ladies select a partner, and together they shuffle about on the carpet until they are charged with electricity, the lights in the room having been first turned low. Then they kiss in the dark, and make the sparks fly for the amusement of the onlookers.”
The same sort of experiment could be performed nowadays, on dry nights when the air is overloaded with electricity. But be certain that neither you nor your partner touches each other after shuffling furiously on the carpet with your feet. Merely lean over slowly and, when your lips are about half an inch apart, slow the process down even more until the spark jumps. However, considerable practice should be had before the kiss variation can be done successfully. The natural reaction to this sort of shock is to pull away from each other. But, try to resist this natural impulse because, if you do not kiss the moment after the shock has been perpetrated, the pleasure will be all gone.
Once you have practiced this for some time, you will become so inured to the slight shock that you will seek more potent electric shocks. These can be obtained with the use of an electric vibrator or, in fact, any device that is worked from a battery and a coil which steps up the weak 3-volts of the battery. Shooting galleries have electricity-testing devices of this nature which have two handles. No matter what you use, the method is as following: first you take hold of one pole of the live wire, of the handle of the machine, if that is what you are using. Then, your partner should take hold of the other pole, or handle. This done, bring the lips together until there is about an eighth of an inch separating your lips. At this moment, turn the rheostat that increases the current. As soon as the charge is strong enough, a sudden intense spark will jump the gap of your lips. Again, learn not to flinch but to seize hold of the opportunity of bringing your lips together in a grand, climatic kiss. The advantage of this method is that you can regulate the electrical charge so that, when you become inured to one strength, you can increase the current almost indefinitely.
A word of warning, however, is apropos here. Be satisfied with the current generated by this battery set. Don’t be like a young friend of mine who discovered that the battery set, even at its highest output, was too weak for him and his partner. Being of an experimental nature, he decided to see what would happen were he to use the ordinary house current as the electrical stimulus. And so, together with his partner, he placed himself in front of an electrical wall outlet into which he had screwed a plug and a wire whose end had been frayed so that the two wires were separated. Taking hold of one wire, he advised the girl to take hold of the other. Then, using the usual “electric-kiss” technique, he bent over and started to bring his lips slowly towards the girl’s lips. He got as far as about half an inch from her lips, and that’s all. Because, a moment later, he saw a blinding flame sear across his eyes and he felt an enormous blow jolt him off his feet. When he came to enough to realize where he was, he found himself asprawl on the floor, his girlfriend in a similar position a few feet away. The result was a pair of burned lips and combined determination to stick to the old fashioned way of kissing. The burned lip will always spurn the flame.
6. The Dancing Kiss
A very pleasant way to kiss is found in the “dancing kiss.” Here, again, it is the closeness of the bodies of the participants that adds to the enjoyment. What more could a pair of lovers ask for than a dimly lighted dance floor, the tender, rhythmical strains of a waltz being played by Wayne King, their arms around each other, their eager young bodies kissing each other in a myriad of excitable places, the while, their cheeks meet in glowing, velvety strokes? Naturally, in such situations, the rules of social etiquette will not allow the pair to enjoy an extremely appropriate “lip-kiss.” Although this can very easily be accomplished in the privacy of one’s parlor while the radio is broadcasting the music. In fact, the “electric kiss” can be ideally performed under these circumstances. But, when dancing in a public place, the only kisses allowed would be the most surreptitious ones stolen under the straying eye of the chaperone. Under the pretense of whispering pretty nothings into your partner’s shell of an ear, allow your lips to touch her earlobe, her cheek and her chin. A few covert eye kisses, perhaps, can be stolen in this manner, too. But, these stolen sweets should suffice the happy couple until they return home. Then, stimulated by the forepleasure of these previous non-lip kisses, the pair can indulge in all the variations listed in this booklet, to their hearts’ and their lips’ content. The while they recall, perhaps, those lines from Sir John Suckling’s “Ballad of a Wedding,” which went:
Oh, they sudden up and rise and dance;
Then sit again, and sigh, and glance;
Then dance again, and kiss.
7. The Surprise Kiss
A most charming manner of kissing is called the “surprise kiss.” This is performed when one of the parties has fallen asleep, on the sofa, let us say. On entering the room, when the other sees his lover asleep, he should tip-toe softly over to her. Then, lowering his head slowly, he should implant a soft, downy, feathery kiss squarely on her lips. This first kiss should be a very light one. But, thereafter, the intensity of the kisses should increase until the sleeping one has awakened and, of course, even beyond that. The effect of such an awakening to a sleeper is almost heavenly. For, while in the midst of a dream, a pleasant one, most likely, for it will concern the other half of the couple, she feels vaguely, faintly, as though it were the touch of a butterfly’s wing, a subtle kiss on her lips. Naturally, in the depths of her sleep, she imagines that it is part of her dream and the result is a pleasant sensation, indeed. Then, gradually, although still asleep, she feels the kisses continue. And the pleasantness continues. Then, as she starts to come out of her sleep, she realizes that the kisses are too real for a dream. But she is sure that she is dreaming. And so, immediately, a relapse from the happiness sets in and a twinge of sadness comes over her because she knows that, instead of being with her lover, she is only dreaming of him. Imagine, then, her extreme gratification, when, while thinking these drab thoughts, she feels the actuality of an intense, ardent kiss on her lips. Her heart flutters wildly. Her pulse runs riot. Perhaps she is not asleep, she argues to herself. Then she opens her eyes. And she sees the darling face of her beloved bending over her. And she feels the sensuous touch of his lips on hers. Truly, no awakening can be more pleasurable.