Ivo Siromahov is remarkably unconcerned by censure, believing that anyone with a vestige of humour will appreciate his work. For some, his characterisation of his critics as priggish prudes merely adds to the offence.
He graduated from the prestigious National School for Ancient Languages and Cultures and studied theatre direction at the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts, hence the half dozen plays in his CV. Siromahov has now turned writing, once his hobby, into a fulltime occupation.
Siromahov wrote political satire and headed the cultural section at the 24 Hours daily for two years. Then he became a scriptwriter for Bulgaria's most popular TV programme, Slavi's Show. He writes for magazines like Playboy, Hustler, Egoist and MAX. His first book, A Night in the Cemetery, appeared in 1999. The second, An Optimistic Theory of Bulgarian Sex, has just been published to criticism from some conservatives who find joking about children's sexual education, for example, a bit too provocative.
The author never argues with those offended by his humorous advice on how best to undress your partner, what to say in bed or how to write a pornographic story. Besides being a parody of ubiquitous how-to manuals, An Optimistic Theory of Bulgarian Sex is also an ironic exercise in folk psychology, sociology and ethnography (the title alludes to a 1938 essay by Bulgaria's first sociologist). But it can be understood by everyone, regardless of nationality, he says. Read the extracts in this issue of VAGABOND and see if you agree. And remember: this is really hot stuff in Bulgaria right now.
What impelled you to write this type of text?
Stupidity, clichés and complexes. We are a small population in a small country, hence our desire to show ourselves as different and unique, as something better. Let's take the cliché of Bulgarian hospitality, for example. Aren't other people around the world hospitable? Or the boast that Bulgarian women are the most beautiful in the world – there are attractive women everywhere. There's bragging about sex too: Bulgarians are the world champions of sex. That's not something that anybody could prove.
Can you explain your theory of Bulgarian sex? How is it meant to be interpreted?
It's ironic, a parody of the type of advice given in the most popular genre these days, the how-to guide. All sorts of people are giving advice today, from “How to mend your washing machine” to “How to satisfy a woman”. I suppose that if you were to follow all such advice, you'd get into serious trouble.
The book is about Bulgarians. Do you believe that your humour can travel acrossborders?
I don't divide people into Bulgarians and foreigners. Nor do I think that some things are true of Bulgarians alone. In most respects, people are the same, regardless of their nationality, faith or politics: they all care about love, friendship, sex and death. The book is not typically Bulgarian and I don't think you need to be Bulgarian to understand it. I've been around the world and I know that people laugh at the same things. Some say that there is English humour, German humour, and so on. I don't think this is true.
Are you saying that there is no such thing as English humour?
The humour of Mark Twain and today's humour on British television are completely different. It's dangerous to generalise. People around the world laugh at the same things, usually issues related to their daily lives. Most jokesin any nation are about sex.
What's the funniest TV series you've seen?
For me, 'Allo ‘Allo! is tops: a perfect demonstration of how people can smile at one of the darkest periods in history, the Second World War.
Do you think that foreigners can understand the Bulgarian sense of humour?
If we can understand writers like P.G. Wodehouse and Mark Twain, why shouldn't foreigners be able to understand the things that make us laugh?
What impression will foreign readers have of Bulgarians if they take the book literally?
The book was not written to be taken literally. It offers an ironic, amusing point of view on the so-called serious things in life. I'd imagine that anybody with a sense of humour will enjoy reading it.
You seem to have a remarkably thick skin. How do you respond to your critics?
I don't. I avoid such arguments – they are pointless and futile.
Are humour and vulgarity in some way linked? Is there a line between the two in Bulgaria and, if so, where does it lie?
The two have nothing in common. The way some people drive in the street is vulgar and there's not a grain of humour in it. Relationships between people can also be vulgar. There is no vulgarity in humour because it adopts a joyful attitude to the world. People capable of such an attitude are rarely vulgar.
Do you really believe that the British have the same sense of humour as Bulgarians? Maybe UK readers would find your work a bit coarse?
I was in London in April and I left with very good impressions of the British. They are not so different from us.
HOW TO EFFICIENTLY UNDRESS A FEMALE PARTNER*
by Ivo Siromahov; illustration by Gergana Shkodrova
One of the most common problems in sexual life is undressing.
It has been proved that undressing impedes sexual intercourse, especially in winter, when there is a greater corporeal presence of clothing.
There are two leading schools of undressing. Under Communism, the most popular one in this country was Medvedev-Krasnoyarski's, but a more flexible method has caught on recently. It was devised by Nielsen and Strumpfstein, long-standing lecturers in the Garments Resistance Department at the University of Dusseldorf.
According to Nielsen-Strumpfstein, the most important thing in undressing is not to lose self-control. You have to approach the task of disrobing your partner with the firm belief that your efforts will be rewarded if you use the right strategy and take an appropriate position (see The Power of Positive Thinking in Undressing for the Purpose of Sex by V. Nielsen and H. Strumpfstein, published by Zucht und Geducht, 1997, paperback).
What matters mostly in undressing is to observe the Ziemerfeld Principle, also known as the Principle of Reverse Progression. According to this, clothes should be taken off in reverse order to the way they have been put on. For example, if your partner put on panties, a bra, tights, a skirt, a blouse, a jumper and a fur coat in the morning, it is recommended that you undress her in the following order: fur coat, jumper, blouse, skirt, tights, bra and panties.
Besides, it has been established that it is much easier to divest clothes that the man has bought out of his own pocket. Then the female partner has no moral right to grumble and cast ironic remarks about your clumsy attempts at undressing her.
But let us not get stuck in the treacherous quagmire of abstract theorisation that has taken a heavy scholarly toll. We should adopt a pragmatic approach instead and analyse the following case: let us suppose that your partner is wearing panties, a bra, tights, a skirt, a blouse, a jumper and a fur coat. What do we do?
Immediately proceed to remove the coat, because thick coats tend to increase the body temperature in warm rooms. This in turn leads to perspiration, which is not aesthetically pleasing.
The coat is removed by undoing the buttons, which is achieved by taking each button between your thumb and index finger and placing it through the buttonhole in the direction opposite to the one employed when the person was putting it on.
When you are sure that all buttons have passed through the respective buttonholes, take the coat by the two lapels and energetically remove it from your partner's body.
It is now the jumper's turn. Take the jumper with both your hands in the area around the hips (the rule is: left hand – right hip; right hand – left hip) and carefully pull it up in the direction of the ceiling. If your partner is intelligent enough, she will raise her arms in the same direction to ease the process.
The most delicate moment you'll encounter is when the jumper passes over your partner's head. It may get stuck on her earrings and this will probably instigate offensive words at your ineptitude.
Don't let this provoke you, keep calm and continue undressing her.
Taking off the blouse should be in accordance with its properties. If it is the “with buttons” type, act in the same way as with the coat. If it is the “no buttons” type, you should apply the jumper method.
Then it is time to proceed with the removal of the skirt. More often than not it has a zip fastener that usually jams. This zip jam can cause you to spontaneously curse like a sailor, which will reduce your partner's libido.
This is why you should try to remain calm and put some lubricating graphite on the zip. In case there is no lubricating graphite available, you can use other lubricants like olive oil or lard.
When you are finished with the zip, take the skirt with both your hands in the area around the hips (remember: left hand – right hip; right hand – left hip) and pull it down in the direction of the floor until the skirt reaches level zero.
The successful performance of all these actions may boost your selfesteem, but don't get swollen-headed. The most difficult part is next.
Take the tights by the elastic band in the area of the waist and carefully disengage the elastic band from your partner's skin. Then pull it in the direction of the floor. You have to be very careful because tights are commonly made of very fine material that is easy to tear. A torn pair of tights may ruin your partner's libido.
You may notice a lack of tights on some partners, which is compensated by the presence of towelling socks of the “rustic honour” type. Such socks are relatively easier to remove. But at average temperatures exceeding 25 degrees Celsius there is abundant perspiration on the bottom of the foot which can sometimes result in an unpleasant adhesion of the towelling sock to the sole and a sound resembling the undoing of a Velcro strip. In some cases the removal of such sweaty socks may be painful and ruin your partner's libido.
Problems most commonly occur while removing the bra. Here is Nielsen- Strumpfstein's expert advice on how to approach this task:
Stand facing your partner and position your hands on the area between her shoulder blades. Now your aim is to grope your way to the fastener, which is normally between the seventh and ninth vertebrae of the spinal column.
After you find the fastener, insert your right thumb under the elastic band of the bra and push it in a direction opposite the spinal column so that there is a gap of between 24 and 36 millimetres between the band and the surface of the back. Also insert your left thumb in the gap, just in case.
After both your thumbs are in position, find the fastener with your index and middle finger. It usually consists of a pair of hooked pieces of wire and two openings in which the aforementioned hooks are fitted.
Now you have to make opposite movements with the hands (not forgetting the thumbs which have to maintain the 24-36 mm gap between the elastic band of the bra and the surface of the back the whole time) to detach the hooks from the openings.
This does not happen immediately in 95 percent of cases. But this temporary failure should not discourage you. This is when you have to show your determination and continue with your attempts until you succeed. (Undoing a bra within six or eight minutes is considered a success.)
The divestment of the panties should not be underestimated either. The possible problems that you may encounter include: flesh-colour panties that are hard to differentiate from the adjacent skin or profuse pubic hair that impedes manual access to the underwear.
The type of panties most difficult to remove is the thongs because of the inadequate amount of cloth in them. In such cases, Nielsen-Strumpfstein's advice is to approach them from the front because it is harder to identify the cloth at the rear (especially with corpulent partners).
Thus your partner is completely undressed. Now the question arises what to do with all these clothes you have removed from her body.
Here the two schools are at odds. According to Nielsen-Strumpfstein, the clothes should be left in disarray until the act is finished. Medvedev and Krasnoyarski recommend that the clothes are carefully folded and arranged in military fashion.
Practice shows that both approaches could ruin your partner's libido.
I personally prefer Nielsen-Strumpfstein's method, not only because they are more liberal as far as undressing is concerned, but also because I am this theory's exclusive agent in Bulgaria.
* This is an excerpt from An Optimistic Theory of Bulgarian Sex, published by Ciela
THE SUPERSTITIOUS CAN'T SCREW
How shall we explain the fact that today, in this highly technological age, when rich countries invest huge amounts of money in the development of science, there are still millions of people who believe in all sorts of ludicrous superstitions? I have seen otherwise intelligent people shaking with fear at the sight of a black cat and panicking when they break a mirror.
These pagan superstitions escalate uncontrollably in those of more unstable mind and turn into overriding phobias that ruin their lives.
Isn't it pure madness to look for the insidious hand of fate in each chance phenomenon and blame your misfortunes on the fact that you got out of bed with your left foot? Do you believe that if all black cats in this world were hanged, our lives would be happier?
The worst thing is that fatalism has a harmful effect on sex too. If you see sinister omens in any situation, you are bound to develop perpetual impotence. Medical literature describes a number of severe cases of sexual fatalism, where patients go as far as to tie a red thread with a blue bead on their penises to ward off evil!
Being an advocate of a more peaceful and harmonious sexual life, I feel obliged to bring to light some of the most common superstitions in sex.
Here they are:
YOU WILL HAVE BAD LUCK
If a black cat crosses your path
Superstitious people regard not only black cats as bad signs but also the charming female organs known as “black pussies” by the porn industry. Today this superstition does not play a major role because due to widespread depilation you can hardly see whether the pussy is black, red or blonde. But, during my adolescence, exuberant pubic hair was something that the fair sex proudly sported and it was quite common for a “black pussy” to cross your way.
If you leave a hat on the bed
Trust me – it is much wiser to throw your darn hat on the bed before having sex than to leave it on your head. Especially if you are an officer. Women find the cockade particularly annoying while you are doing cunnilingusto them.
If you sing before breakfast
There are people whose singing brings bad luck to anybody listening to them. But if, after a relatively successful sex act, you warble a gentle O Sole Mio to your partner in the morning, you may even deceive her that you are a romantic soul.
If you bring eggs home in the dark
Being a shy, old-fashioned and not particularly broad-minded person, I am used to always carrying my eggs in the dark – in my boxer shorts. I have no intention of giving up this habit because I suspect that the neighbours would be unpleasantly shocked if one day I decided to take out my eggs in broad daylight when coming home one day.
If you go under a folding ladder
A friend of mine claims that his sex life was ruined simply because he passed under an open folding ladder. His fiancée was standing on it and painting the ceiling. Nobody knows why she had decided that she would do a better job of it with no underwear on. My friend went under the ladder and was terrified to bang his head on his fiancée's hanging balls. Oh God, there is so much misery in this world!
If you cut your nails on a Friday
I am sure that if you go on a date with your nails as long as those of a bird of prey only because it is Friday, you won't find much understanding. There are, of course, a lot of fans of naturalness who regard not only nail-cutting but also hair-cutting, shaving and washing as contrary to the laws of nature. But they don't enjoy an intensive sex life.
If you meet a pig right after your wedding
Well, my wife did meet a pig right after her wedding. I had found all the pomp of the occasion and Mendelssohnian pathos too much to bear and got drunk as a pig, starting from the morning. Today, my wife sadly admits that it is better to see apig after your wedding than to live with one all your life.
If you put your shirt on inside out
I have to agree with this. If you go out to buy two pots of yoghurt and return after a couple of hours wearing your shirt inside out, you will certainly be in trouble with your wife. Especially if there are lipstick smears on your shirt.
If you sleep on unpressed sheets
You will hardly find any understanding if you take out an iron right after the act and eagerly start ironing the creased sheets to escape the hand of fate.
If you take something out of the house on the first day of the New Year
Come on – don't use this as an excuse to leave used condoms lying on the floor until Epiphany.
YOU WILL HAVE GOOD LUCK
If you keep a shell in your pocket
Sexually experienced women claim, however, that they are much more satisfied andconfident when they carry a vibrator in their pocket.
If you hear a cricket's song
Yes, a cricket's song is more desirable than the dreary murmur of the crab lice.
If you put your dress on inside out
I am sure that in most cases this brings bad luck (see “If you put your shirt on inside out”)
If you sneeze three times before breakfast
It is certainly better than if you fart six times after dinner. As you see, superstitions are harmful cock-and-bull stories and it is good to get rid of them if you want to have an adequate sex life. I myself gave up all my prejudices and since then, touch wood, I have enjoyed an incredibly successful sex life. Even now, while I finish these lines, my phone rang and a really cute girl invited me to dinner. I may even get her into bed if a black cat doesn't cross my way…
HOW TO INCLUDE SEX IN THE SCHOOLBOOKS
It has become popular to say that young people do not want to study these days. Failed pedagogues and carping social activists are constantly complaining that teenagers have no interest in education whatsoever.
If this is true, the main reason for it is the duplicitous state of teaching in our schools. The ossified educators' minds fail to accept the fact that students' interest in sciences is not inborn. You have to develop it.
If we want students to stop playing truant from school, we have to make the teaching process motivating and attractive. What is the most exciting topic for an adolescent? Sex, of course.
If you talk to students about anions and cations, Newton's second law or how to calculate the surface of a cube, all you will get in return will be yawns and contempt. But if you just mention sex, you will see those teenage eyes, which looked on you with boredom and disdain, gleaming with curiosity and delight.
The inclusion of sex in school courses is an enlightening and patriotic task. Here areseveral practical ideas how this could be done.
Subtraction: the importance of taking it out in time, because if late it can lead to multiplication.
1. In March Ivanka's tits measured a total of 260 cubic centimetres. In April they suddenly grew to 820 cubic centimetres. Calculate the amount her husband Minko paid for cosmetic surgery.
2. During a sex act Margarita's legs open at 120 degrees. Evlogi's penis enters between them as a bisector 16.3 cm long. If the pressure exerted by the penis on the vaginal walls is 16 newtons per sq cm and the frequency of frictions is 23 Hz, calculate the time Margarita needs to reach an orgasm.
The chemical composition of vaginal juices or why some vaginas have a slightly sourtaste.
The viscosity of the most popular lubricants for anal sex.
Does the sperm contain chlorine and if not, why does it smell of bleach?
The law of gravity or why tits hang down.
The perfectly rigid body: does it exist in nature or is it only a figment of maidens' imaginations?
Were Joule and Lenz gay and if not, why are their names always spelt together with a hyphen?
1. When having standard sex Vasilka moans at 45 decibels. During anal sex her groans reach 82 decibels. Add Tihomir's grunts, which come at 67 decibels during ejaculation, and calculate the time needed for the neighbours to start banging on the wall.
2. Tenth-grader Dimitrichka keeps her legs closed with a force of 9 newtons. Her classmate Stanoy is trying to spread her knees applying a force of 4 newtons. While doing this, Stanoy is passionately kissing Dimitrichka and his kisses reduce her resistance by 0.25 newtons per minute. How long will it take for Stanoy to spread Dimitrichka's legs?
Does the reason for Napoleon's quick temper lie in the crab lice that Josephine infected him with?
“Gin a body meet a body”: sex motifs in Robert Burns's poetry. The Farm-Yard Cock and the Weather-Cock or the male sex organ in H.
C. Andersen's fairy tales.
Robinson Crusoe and Friday: homosexuality in Daniel Defoe's work.
The basic principles of suggestion or how to make her give you a blowjob.
Is the self enough: a critique of unadulterated masturbation.
The influence of the Dow Jones Averages on the sensitivity of the G-spot. Fiscal measures against impotence or why it is more important to be well-heeled than to be virile.
Devaluation of the female body after the age of 35 and inflation indices of former models.
The Donkovs generate a gross domestic product of 752 leva 34 stotinki per month. Mrs. Tsonka Donkova's current expenses amount to 824 leva and 16 stotinki per month, as follows: 46 percent spent on new clothes, 18 percent on cosmetics, 16 percent for her phone bill, 11 percent on coffee with friends and 9 percent on hairdressing.
Given this budget deficit, calculate how soon Tsonka Donkova will find a strategic investor using the “sex for debt” model.
Is the Amazon a river or a woman with one tit?
Why is there an equator between some hemispheres and an arse between others?
Dictatorship of the proletariat: why unemployed women prefer to be on top when having sex.
The antagonism between left and right wing: why men with a larger left testicle have predominantly rightwing convictions.
Principles of democracy: why the majority should take the decisions in group sex. Is the opposition capable of suggesting a constructive policy in such cases?
If you have had sex with a woman for four years, does she have the moral right to apply for a second term?
Ontology of copulation: using Wittgenstein's postulates, prove that each copulation is what it could not be if it was another, unless it is the same, because it cannot be what it is not.