You’ve seen them, those women who derive oral satisfaction from an object by making it hot-- and wet on one end. I am, of course, referring to femmes fatales who smoke cigars.
Health concerns aside, cigars have long been a cultural symbol of power, pleasure, and prestige. It is perhaps, the ritual of clipping, licking, lighting, and a quiet, contemplative enjoyment that holds allure. Or maybe it is the sense that with the cigar, a woman holds in her hand a power that was for men only for centuries.
There were always rebels of course, Catherine the Great of Russia was one, but she was a queen and could do as she pleased. It wasn’t as easy for women elsewhere. Detractors of smoking in general sought to have it banned almost from its commercial start. Bad enough that a man would smoke in polite society; it certainly wouldn’t do for a woman. In 1904, a woman was sent to jail for 30 days, under New York City’s blue laws, for smoking in front of her children. The stereotypical bad woman was the only one who dared to light a stogie in public: Bonnie Parker springs to mind. Foreigners too could breech the social taboo. Marlene Dietrich, the German-born actress popular through the 1920’s and 30’s was known to light up public and to enjoy it.
In the 1980’s less than ½ of 1% of cigar sales were made to women. By the end of the 1990’s female consumers accounted for over 5% of sales. Many famous women are known to smoke. Madonna always willing to push the envelope, was an early advocate who incorporated the cigar into her act. Raquel Welch, Sharon Stone, and Demi Moore are just three of many famous women who have graced the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine.
While a woman smoking a cigar may no longer cause the social hysteria it once did, there is no doubt that the visual is sensual, seductive, and sexually provocative. If there is any doubt, just watch the video above and scan the many more dealing with and planned for the same subject on YouTube.