When Sex in Space author, science journalist Laura Woodmansee, contacted Vanna Bonta to share the Flight author's personal experience in zero gravity in 2006, it took Woodmansee a few tries to get an interview, but she was successful and included it in her evolutionary book (Sex in Space, Apogee Books).
Bonta, a multitalented actress and novelist who has provided voice talent to a roster of major feature films, stated she was supporting a noble cause and paying respect to admiration she had for Woodmansee's earlier book about women astronauts and careers for women in space.
When Bonta later accepted an invitation to be a panelist at a conference, she did not expect that her presentation about the physics of sex in space, least of all its casual mention of special clothing items, would spark worldwide interest.
The 2suit, a garment Bonta designed for intimacy in weightless environments, was part of her presentation at a NewSpace conference. Bonta participated on a panel with Woodmansee and Dr. James Logan, who has held numerous positions at NASA's Johnson Space Center since 1981 and was NASA's first residency program in Aerospace Medicine.
Bonta reportedly reluctantly accepted the invitation to appear on the panel and lost a night's sleep to fit creating a presentation into her schedule in order to support colleagues and friends.
The presentation was picked up by MSNBC in an article that made global waves and international media translated into many languages. It seems the world is ready to take the next step in human evolution: sex in space!
According to Bonta, who has also has ridden a camel in the Egyptian desert, walked inside the great Pyramid, uses paper clips for hair barrettes and rebuilt a car engine, the only dirty three-letter word is "war." Her camp is known to turn down interview requests but when she does accept she doesn't hold back.
By the way, she gets her name from the Italian, pronounced like gio-vanna (nirvana).
Here's a Femail exclusive interview with Vanna Bonta about sex in space. With the advent of space tourism, far out sex may take on a whole new meaning!
How would sex in space be different from sex on Earth?Vanna Bonta
: Well, Earth is in space, too, so really sex in space isn't anything new, but as our concept of what our world is embraces the solar system and beyond, humans will need to adapt to different environments.
Many might think about sex in space as floating in total weightlessness, yet the force of gravity exists in different amounts from planet to planet, so there are varying gravities as well as total zero-gravity, like the z-g of orbit or outer space.
Negotiating motion and relating to another person physically would be different in each.
I've personally experienced zero gravity, and (also) simulated Mars gravity, and lunar gravity.
Gravity on the planet Mars is about one third of Earth gravity. The gravity (on Mars) is not quite as light as the moon we've seen people walk in, because Mars has more mass than the moon, so more gravity.
But Mars (gravity), it's less than on Earth. Imagine two thirds of the amount of gravity pressure that's on you right now just lifting away, and that's Mars. Nice for a waltz! Floating, but there's control!
Now, on the moon, like if we have hotels on the moon, we would find one-sixth the gravitational force that keeps our hats on and us sitting in our chairs on Earth. We've all watched video of astronauts walking on the moon, that gives an idea what its like to move in 1/6th Earth gravity. There's a nice float to the step but there's some gravitational pull that prevents floating off.
In lunar gravity, it was easy to do one-handed push ups and somersault effortlessly, too.
In zero gravity (z-g), you touch something and send it and yourself soaring. In z-g, I barely thought "somersault"
and I was doing one! Actually, multiple flips. In microgravity, even the slightest touch against something or someone can send you in the opposite direction.
In absolute z-g weightlessness of space, you can fly like Superman, and I say man genderless as in "human." It's marvelous. For the purpose of amorous rendezvous, though, you'd need to hold on to a sex partner pretty tight, or be fastened to each other, or to a cabin surface, or be in a confined environment to get thrust or leverage.
Even then, even when holding on, zero gravity makes even lining up lips and planting a kiss difficult and it requires concentrated exerted effort.
Wouldn't people get dizzy or sick?Vanna Bonta
: Beyond the glamorous fantasy of shared bliss floating around in z-g there is the physics with which to contend. The lack of gravity of space can create space sickness, also known as SAS, "space adaptation syndrome."
Any time a body goes outside the environmental conditions for which it developed it has to acclimate.
Earth gravity and a line of horizon is how we, as Earth humans, are accustomed to gauging spatial orientation, exerting effort, all of that. We derive our equilibrium from gravity, so adapting to a different gravitational force takes adjustment.
The thing is, the effects and adaption period vary between individuals.
If you're on a two day honeymoon and don't want to risk wasting time, transdermal dramamine patches can help. A pill used by space travelers and astronauts is a combination of scopolamine, which blunts sensations, and dextroamphetamine, a drug that counteracts the dulling. Motion-sickness medications can counter the effects, though it isn't an ideal solution, because of drowsiness. "Amazing and exhilarating"
: It's an amazing and exhilarating thing to experience gravity lift away from around the body. I mean, gravity -- a constant pressure and operational criterion we integrate as reality since birth -- suddenly lifts off, and you can fly! and float, and execute movement by almost mere decision, almost solely mentally, with no environmental counter-effort!
However, when that gravity, the force that has been ever-present since conception and birth, lets up from around the body - there is also consequence on biological functions, as well as orientation. So, the physics need to be navigated.
The main effect of zero gravity is on bodily fluid, the redistribution of fluids. In z-g, fluids redistribute to the upper body. Dehydration can result also because the brain reads increased volume of fluid in the upper body as an increase in total volume in the body, which triggers excretion of fluids.
The human heart is used to beating against the exertion of gravity, so in zero-gravity the heart might lessen its pace. Somebody making your heart pound might be experienced differently.
If we're talking super long honeymoons, well long term effects of no gravity on the human body include bone loss, decreased production of red blood cells, suppressed immune systems, and muscle atrophy. In any case, after the initial adaptation, strenuous exercise is prescribed as the best countermeasure against any of the downsides.
I imagine that eventually space environments could be created to provide the best of both worlds, such as, for one example, settlements or habitats designed to create their own gravity, with chambers where reduced gravity or weightlessness can also be experienced optionally.
It might be interesting for a couple to commune in a chamber with adjustable gravity - Mars (1/3rd gravity) or lunar (1/6th) to make maneuverability easier, and then going totally z-g at a synchronized moment of climax.
So are you never in one place in zero gravity? Vanna Bonta
: It is impossible to stay in one place in zero gravity, unassisted. Everything floats away. I was surprised and fascinated to experience the absolute lack of physical attraction, in terms of physical mass, in z-g. It's mass-less, which is really cool! Just sort of being your thoughts. Anti-gravity and no gravity has a lot of implications.
Yeah, in z-g, physical masses, objects, bodies, do not aggregate, have no pull, no help resting together because that cohesive force we take for granted in our world, i.e., gravity, is absent.
Experiencing that in general was curiously amazing. That experience mothered my invention of the 2suit because, even for emotional well-being of the human psyche, we do take comfort in a status quo sense of stabilized presence and physical proximity, cuddling or just hanging out.
The ISS (International Space Station) has wall-mounted sleeping bags, but to fully enjoy z-g for other purposes floating would be part of it.
What does zero gravity do for looks?Vanna Bonta
: As for looking hot, what might be unflattering would be some of the minor effects of weightlessness, like the face can look puffy but it's definitely flattering for other parts of the anatomy that get a buoyant lift. And flowing hair or fabrics can look beautiful.
What's would be the best thing about sex in space?Vanna Bonta
: The best part would be experiencing a new paradigm with a partner. It really is in many ways the apex of human possibility, surpassing limitations, exploring wonders that await us.
In zero gravity, SAS aside, it's possible to perform amazing physical feats. Ironically, it's more like being there as a mind. There's less encumbrance of logistics about getting into any position you want.
Unfamiliar environments heighten adrenalin, which might work for stimulating excitement, or against totally relaxing into any kind of intimacy.
Imagine gazing at Earth or other space views. That would inspire reverence and wonder about one's self and one's partner, and would have anyone feeling very beautiful. The view from space is described as life-changing...seeing Earth, our home planet, the jewel it is, a mass, a rock suspended in its neighborhood, our neighborhood, the universe.
Sure, the sheer animal aspect of our physicality is an intrinsic component of what we are. Sex is powerful, it's procreative, it's a force that drives salmon to swim up stream defying rocky obstacles to thrash new forms into existence and, physiologically, the human body is also rigged with that drive that ensures the human race will continue.
Yet there is also something more, like is the case with anything human, because as humans we possess, call it reason, spirit, consciousness, what ever, it's a numinous element beyond the perfunctory form following function. ".... the greatest sex organ is the mind"
: Sex is communication and creation. In my novel, Flight, two lovers have sex by becoming a forest and rain. Who knows? We are at the helm of not only our own physicality but our environment and other species, too, as sentient, conscious beings who can think of future and affect consequence, and create progeny with our minds as well as our bodies.
It's beautiful to contemplate that sex brings people into existence and that we are all here as a result of it.
However, whether we realize it or not, the human drive and fascination with sex is not merely driven by beauty, or pleasure, or progeny. Sex is a creative impulse toward infinity along the continuum, and communion between beings as we create it.
Sex is a component of perpetuating our very life force.
The etymological root of the word, sex, which originated around 1350 from the Middle English, sexus, means to divide. It's what divides and unites us and furthers us. It's communication with the future in a myriad of ways.
Really, other one-pop variations of sex pale after it goes cosmic. And there is an abundance of fake or imitation sex around.
I mean, we all come equipped with joy sticks and buttons, sure, and they work, but really there are only so many ways to push them. Then there are vested interests pushing them to trick our attention. Isn't it ironic that the US has more porn and "sexy" advertising yet the biggest population of Viagra users?
It's not surprising that the disconnection from real sex becomes unfulfilling. "Real sex is erotic." (erotic vs. porn )
: Because here's the distinction. One simple difference. Pornography is "writing about harlots." That is pornography's etymological root meaning. Whereas "erotic" is different. Eroticism means "caused by love." That is eroticism's meaning. Real sex is erotic.
Sex is as personally unique to individuals as it is universal.
Romantically speaking, the idea of lovers experiencing the ultimate orgasmic rapture while floating in zero gravity is a metaphor. Everyone is looking for that transcendent state. When real intimacy occurs, any where, any how, it comes close to feeling we live forever, and we are not alone.
It doesn't mean a free for all, it only means more reverence and respect and understanding. I mean, after a certain age you figure out just because a button works doesn't mean you have to push it. There's a lot to us as human beings.
As intelligent life that can impact a comet with total precision, send missions to Mars, and create beauty, art, dance, literature, and music, the greatest sex organ is the mind and my guess is there are orgasms awaiting us like none we have known before, provided we get there.
What would be the worst part?Vanna Bonta
: The worst part? If we miss the best part!
if sex stays on Earth, with myopic political agendas that trash and waste humanity's beauty, potential and resources.
Sex in space (Earth included) far exceeds our wildest imaginations, and is more than a big bang, that's for sure, it's cosmic.
Thank you, Ms. Bonta, for talking with us!
Vanna Bonta is the author of FLIGHT, a quantum fiction novel
now out in audiobook read by the author.
Outer-space sex carries complicationshttp://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14002908/