Sex and dentistry: I made a fellatio prosthetic for my mouth

2019-03-02 02:19:01

Kuang-Yi Ku By Frank Swain To my right, a woman with pink hair is struggling to keep a cup of goopy blue silicone in her mouth. To my left, a man is fashioning tiny nipples from alginate. Around us all are eyeless dummies with mouths gaping in silent laughter at the scene. We’re in the dentistry school lab at King’s College London, which has been taken over for the day by Taiwanese artist Kuang-Yi Ku for his Fellatio Modification Project. The workshop is part of a new exhibition in London by Science Gallery – a network of exhibition spaces focussed on art-science collaborations. The exhibition, called Mouthy: Into the Orifice, features a collection of installations, activities and lectures to explore the world of all things oral-maxillary. Having worked as a dentist for six years, Ku is now producing speculative design projects at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Science doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to incorporating human sexuality into research and practice. Dentistry, for example, considers three functions for the oral cavity: aesthetics, pronunciation and mastication. “There is another function, sex, which is never mentioned in the textbooks,” says Ku. “I’m from the gay community and I realised that the medical school is a very patriarchal system, very serious, and the professors are very traditional, particularly in Asian countries.  So I wanted to approach that relationship.” Instead of treating disease and restoring normal function to the mouth, Ku imagines dentists enhancing it along one particular line, the act of performing fellatio. To do this, he created retainers which offer a more intense sexual experience for your (male) partner. Kuang-Yi Ku Alongside 30 open-minded strangers, I’m here to try making one myself. The first step is having a dental impression taken. This is where the blue goop comes in. I’ve done this before when I was fitted for set of braces as a teenager, but I have something now that I didn’t have then – a full moustache and beard, which threatens to be clotted with cemented rubber by the end of the process. “Don’t do it,” warns an equally hirsute dental student, “It’s impossible to get out, and trying to hurts.” He’s using the training dummy in front of him as a stand in. I opt for the personal approach – in for a penny, in for a pound – and miraculously keep all the silicone in my mouth. Among the participants I chat to are several journalists, students, a designer who worked on the Mouthy imagery, an old school friend of the artist and several women from the student LGBT society. However, I can’t find anybody in the workshop willing to admit they’ve signed up for practical reasons. “I thought it would be interesting” is the stock reply. Crafting fellatio aids seems a tad irrelevant for the lesbians in the room, though Ku emphasises that the LGBT community are more openly interested in body modification as a whole. I asked Andrea Bandelli, executive director of Science Gallery International, why that is. “For many LGBT people there is so much social pressure on shedding or hiding one’s identity, and therefore an inner demand to find ways to design and express another,” he says. “This project was exactly hitting that note – allowing a conversation about this issue, and showing how art and science can provide a platform for this conversation.” Kuang-Yi Ku After filling the silicone cast with plaster, I have an exact copy of my teeth. Add one thin sheet of thermoplastic, a little heat and suction, and I have a personal retainer. The next step for everyone is to design our dream oral sex prosthetic, adding texture through tiny rubber bumps, cones, ribs and ripples. Which is where we come unstuck a bit, as many of the people in the room aren’t exactly sure what men want in their partner’s prosthetic. But by the end, I’m rather proud of my effort – a tidy arrangement of bumps and cones. Science gallery director Daniel Glaser tells us there’s a bigger point to be made. “A lot of health thinking is moving away from helping the negative of disease, the negative of death, the negative of pain, and moving toward something in its own right, the positive things we should be striving for through all kinds of interventions,” he says. “So this is part of a movement using technology and using science to improve life and not just to reduce harm.” The dimpled retainer is just stage one of Ku’s imaginative vision. Further iterations involve the introduction of living tissue onto the prosthetic for a more lifelike feel, and ultimately grafting these living protrusions into the mouth cavity for a permanent upgrade to your oral prowess. While tissue engineering exists for restoring normal sexual function, such as lab-grown vaginas, this would take the practice into the arena of human enhancement. “With this design no one knows you love oral sex,” says Ku. “But in the second part of the project we change the appearance of the mouth, to show your sexual preference by your appearance.” Like birds with specialised beaks, Ku imagines a world where we don’t simply embrace our diverse sexuality, but mould our bodies into a vibrant expression of it. That’s certainly something to smile about. Read more: The truth about porn: why masturbation won’t kill your sex life There may be an equation for love, but if you haven’t solved it yet then take a look at New Scientist Connect. Whether you are looking for friendship or a long-lasting relationship, discover thousands of like-minded people waiting to find a perfect match. Create a profile for free today and unlock a new connection. More on these topics: