Anaïs Nin Myth of the Day #10

Myth #10: Anaïs Nin’s sex life was ideal.

Fact: When Anaïs Nin married Hugh (Hugo) Guiler at the age of twenty, she was a virgin. Her sexual relationship with her new husband was very unsatisfactory, according to Nin in a diary passage written some twenty years later:

[We] were never made for each other. He was too big for me. And then he would always come too quickly, almost immediately, and I was slow. In fact, for months I did not know the deeper orgasm. I only felt the superficial orgasm of the clitoris, which he excited with his hands, but nothing deep down. The amazing thing was that it was only a year later in Paris that I felt the deep orgasm. (unpublished diary, 1943)

The lack of sexual fulfillment with her husband prompted her to seek comfort elsewhere. She had a botched affair with writer John Erskine in 1928, which left her feeling depressed to the point of contemplating suicide (Early Diary 4). It was not until 1932, at age twenty-nine, that she had a bona fide affair with another man—Henry Miller. Miller was the one who taught Nin about sex, but a month into the affair, she said:

I am thinking that with all the tremendous joys Henry has given me I have not yet felt a real orgasm. My response does not seem to lead to a true climax but is disseminated in a spasm that is less centered, more diffuse. I have felt an orgasm occasionally with Hugo, and when I have masturbated, but perhaps that is because Hugo likes me to close my legs and Henry makes me open them so much. (Henry and June 130)

Gonzalo More, 1930s
Gonzalo More, 1930s

Eventually, Nin would achieve the “deeper orgasm” she sought with Miller, and he would prove to be one of the very few lovers who could consistently satisfy her, but only while she was not sharing herself with other significant men. In 1936, Nin began an affair with the Peruvian bohemian Gonzalo Moré, whose style was radically different than Miller’s: while Miller let Nin dominate their sexual relationship, Moré demanded complete submission from her. (The diversity of these two relationships is represented in her erotic story “Hilda and Rango,” from Little Birds, the topic of which is discussed in Anaïs Nin Myth 5.) It took Nin a long time before relinquishing Miller as her primary lover and adopting Moré, but her relationship with the latter was tumultuous, to say the least. As Miller’s, and then Moré’s, sexual prowess declined, Nin’s frustration grew.

So, while it is true that Nin had sex with more than one man at a time, she rarely enjoyed it freely and completely. She was “faithful” to one lover emotionally, which affected her sexual response, and this was something that troubled her, something she tried for years to conquer. When she began an incestuous affair with her father, Joaquín Nin, it did not result in her unrestrained sexual pleasure. Instead, the gravity of the affair denied her of the “supreme spasm” that she desired, despite the fact her “yielding was immense, with [her] whole being” (Incest 211).

Nin’s often awkward forays into casual sex could be summarized by a bungled ménage à trois she had with a couple in early 1936. When she felt arousal but no orgasm, she lamented:

It is the abandon I like…freedom from care and jealousy. The smoothness. There is a world where people play joyously and naturally the tricks I play for alibis, without being blamed. (Fire 230)

When she met a dashing opera singer, who called himself “Chinchilito,” in Provincetown in 1941, they had an encounter in the sand dunes. Her description:

Slowly I got undressed as his hands searched for buttons and bows. Afterwards, his nakedness as he stood in the wind, laughing. Truly godlike in his physical magnificence. The waist and hips slender, not thick, the torso marvelously ample, shoulders wide. A golden blondness. If only I didn’t have the usual stage-struck feeling, it would have been magnificent. (unpublished diary, 1941)

It wasn’t until two years later when Nin finally declared:

Let me celebrate my freedom. I am as free as man has been—I am free to enjoy—today with Chinchilito…, I experienced for the first time an orgasm within adventure. For the first time I did not feel the orgasm linked to emotional fidelity, as an emotional surrender, as necessarily and fatally bound to love. So that love, being a slavery to a master who could not fulfill me, became an anguish. (unpublished diary, 1943)

Nin’s “freedom,” as she put it, would be short-lived, however, as the problems achieving sexual fulfillment continued, especially when she began to experiment with young gay men.

Her decades-long search for an “ideal lover” who could truly satisfy her didn’t end until she met her future “California husband,” Rupert Pole, in 1947. While vacationing in Mexico in 1973, at the age of seventy, she wrote in a notebook: “Rupert is passionate several times a week. Once our lovemaking was so pleasurable I cried! He is too much!
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  1. What an amazing entry. Fascinating how differently her sex life has been percieved in comparison to how it actually was. Like so many things in her career, no?

  2. Val, good question. Anaïs Nin’s relationships with gay (or sexually ambiguous) men usually ended up in failed attempts at coitus. An example is in Incest (pp 191-2), in which she says of Antonin Artaud: “He kissed me devouringly, fiercely, and I yielded. He bit my mouth, my breasts, my throat, my legs. But he was impotent. There was a dead, heavy pause. His faced twisted, then set, stony: ‘Go away,’ he said, go away.’ Hard, cold, brutal… ‘Go away now or later, it does not matter. You’ll despise me anyway…’ [Nin said,] ‘I don’t despise you. All this has no importance…’ [Artaud replied] ‘It has terrific importance for all women.’”

  3. Darling – it is entirely possible to have sex with gay men, depending on their shade of grey – nothing is black and white. How do you think many gay men manage to be married to a woman for years before they finally come out? I myself have had amazing sex with a man who knew he was gay but took a while to fully admit it to himself and everyone. We continued having sex for several months after he came out as we knew we were compatible and made fireworks, however, as he began to get emotionally involved with a man, the sex dwindled and I now know he will never be with a woman again.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth. Nin’s forays with various “shades” of gay men didn’t always end up unfulfilled, in the sexual sense at least, and Anais’s upnpublished accounts during the “transparent children” phase support your observation that nothing is black or white–she felt her masculine side was aroused by the feminine aspects of men, whether gay, straight, or somewhere in between, her husband included. In the end, for Nin, the chasm between the emotional bond and the sexual with gay(ish) men (the case of Gore Vidal, for example, with whom she shared a deep connection that was at least partly sexual for her but not at all for him, and William Pinckard, which was the opposite scenario) was too deep and painfully frustrating to bear. She was seeking an ideal Lover who could fulfill all facets of her needs, and she was willing to subject herself (and the men) to all sorts of “experiments” and risks to find him.

  5. Did she ever loved Hugh Guiler or she pretended to be his lover? while she fulfill her sexualy desires to other men. Did Hugh ever found out about any of her lover that she’s been with?
    She found herself in some tremendous, sexual joy with other men, that her husband could ever give. She even slept with a gay man or maybe she wanted to experienced it. After all she was a great writer. Maybe she’s just doing this, to know that how far things can go and how long she kept the secret away from her husband.

  6. Anais Nin loved Hugh Guiler in a sensual way for the first 6 years of their marriage, but because they were sexually incompatible, she began to turn her attention to other men. She went to great lengths to keep her many affairs a secret, and for a long time Guiler, while suspicious, had no actual proof that his wife was unfaithful. However, in the 1950s, Nin admitted to him that she had a lover in California (the subject of the new diary Trapeze), and he was devastated (but remained married to her). In the meantime, he had affairs of his own when Nin was away (which she knew about and actually encouraged). Nin called her love for Guiler “fraternal” or “paternal,” and while it was a deep love, it was in no way sensual. She had sensual love for Rupert Pole, the California “husband.”

  7. You’re asking for evidence that someone is NOT gay? Interesting, rather like proving something DOESN’T exist. But let’s go with that. I’ve been reading the man’s work and letters for 30 years.
    1. He had no male partners, either self-reported or anyone who has come forward. Even Jacques Prevel, who kept his own diary on Artaud and met him daily, only reports Artaud being attracted to women.
    2. When his male friends got married, he often corresponded with their wives (Youki Desnos, Jacqueline Breton) and had a coterie of younger women (Anie Besnard, Marthe Robert, Sonia Mosse, Colette Thomas) that he was also attracted to.
    3. I’ve read Artaud’s correspondence. With women he is romantic, angry, sexual, emotional, and expressed deep longing. With men, he wrote about his projects and ideas. No letters to and from Hugh.
    4. Gaston Ferdiere, interviewed by Sylvere Lotringer, mentions having spoken with Artaud’s romantic partners, especially Genica Athanasiou, who reported a functional sexual relationships.
    5. I find it interesting that the commenter above who quoted Nin’s diary conveniently stopped before Artaud blames his impotence on his drug addiction – “I take too much opium.”
    6. None of the doctors who diagnosed him, either during his treatment in early adulthood or after his incarceration in 1937 reported any homosexuality at a time when it was considered a mental disorder.
    7.The only people to call Artaud gay was Nin, Rene Allendy, and Dr. Jacques Latremoliere – not very good company.
    It is far more likely that Artaud, like Robert Desnos, was open-minded about sexuality though Desnos did more exploring.

  8. Am I not correct that unlike other intellectuals of France she was never for adult-child sex, namely, pederasty or pedophilia. She never signed any petitions as for example Misses Simon de Beauvoir did to allow for sex with minors, which could include even as young as five, six, or even, God help us, infants. Did Misses Anaïs Nin ever write against such practices? God Bless, Aristo Boho

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