When Pheromones Fail

The Art of Seduction: Courtship and Marriage in Africa

The art of seduction is just as expensive as any other art in high demand. It requires dedication to a strict regime of hygiene, a certain level of social skill and, in some cases, the ability to expose one's gold card frequently and without care. Seduction is corruption in the purest sense—it is the act of luring one away from his or her duty or chastity; of using one's skills and wherewithal to convince a member of the opposite or same sex to follow you wherever you may go; to leave their village for the bed of a stranger.

And it's not just an obsession of the western world either. Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith, collaborators since 1978 on the mammoth African Ceremonies box set (a book of 850 photographs covering African ceremonies from birth and initiation to death rituals and healing exorcisms) will lecture, using different media including slides and video, on "the intriguing practices that attract men and women to each other across the continent of Africa". Listen as they discuss, among other subjects, "the Hamar people of Ethiopia whose men jump over the backs of bulls before they can marry, and the Berber Bride's Fair in the high Atlas Mountains of Morocco where virgin girls are chosen as wives." Wait, there are techniques beyond street cat-calls, Axe body spray and incredible-shrinking mini-skirts? Oh, Africa, right.

The Art of Seduction at Bowers Museum, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 567-3679; www.bowers.org. Sat., 3 p.m. $18; members, $15.

 
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