“You can look at the menu, but you just can’t eat …”
That’s what it must be like—at least I hope that’s what it’s like—to have a cannibal fantasy. The glistening skin, the glowing fire, the girl on the spit, it’s all there …except for the actual consumption of human flesh, which is, let’s face facts, the definition of cannibalism.
“Interesting points,” says Mr. Muki, the top chef behind Muki’s Kitchen, a website he runs (with the help of his wife), dedicated to the artful depiction of ladies boiling in cauldrons and roasting over open flames “For us, we feel quite certain that reality could never live up to the odd little fantasy we’ve built up in our heads and we’re perfectly happy to never test that theory…”
He thinks, though, it is more fantasy than fetish. “It’s a fetish in that those who lean this way usually require it to achieve arousal and it’s a fantasy because you really can’t do much more than imagine it. It’s a fetish of the imagination...
The main course…
“And when you think it through completely, the reality of real cannibalism wouldn’t be sexy and could never live up to the stylized image that can be imagined. That is the main reason we stress the fantasy aspect of it so much on our website. We want to keep it sexy and we want it to be a sort of “safety valve” for people who feel this way. It should always stay a fantasy.”
It’s artful deception as well as depiction: the glistening comes from oil or honey, the props, like the giant pot, are made by Mr. Muki. The scenes are part pin-up (he’s inspired by Vargas, Gowland and others), part comic book: beautiful damsels—half of them in distress, half of them causing it.
“Calories? I’m not sure…”
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“One of our main goals is to take this rather dark and scary fetish and make it into something sexy and pin-up like,” Mr. Muki says. “Susie Bright once commented that our work was ‘theatrical.’ We both feel that she got it just right. We want to emphasize the fantasy aspect of the pictures.”
This is why, as a feminist, I feel I should freak over women literally portrayed as meat, but as a fantasist and humorist, I totally get Muki’s Kitchen: It’s surrealistic quality affords approachability, so much so that fans can use it to gently introduce this fantasy fetish to a partner.
Mr. Muki is about theater, but also hunger, desire and sensuality—nothing violent for him. You can find things with more of that aesthetic elsewhere, like the art of Dolcett, a pioneer in the field whose name is sometimes used to denote the genre, but Dolcett didn’t invent the fantasy for Mr. Muki.
Mise en Place…
“The physical sensations of mild fear are similar to arousal … this fetish fantasy goes as far back as I can remember, although it wasn’t about me attracting and eating women. I was the main course.”
As a child, he says, his body didn’t look very different to him than the chickens his mom prepared for dinner … and children’s stories—from Bugs Bunny to Hansel and Gretel—often include the threat of someone getting eaten.
“I remember I was in the third grade and our teacher was reading a children’s version of Robinson Crusoe. The whole idea that Friday was a cannibal and was about to be eaten…it appealed to me as a third grader in a way I don’t think my teacher ever intended.”
And Lady Fingers for dessert, perhaps?
Mr. Muki maintains that his male self doesn’t exist in his fantasies: “I identify completely with the women,” he says. “I’m either a girl preparing another girl, knowing tomorrow it might be my turn, or I’m the girl getting prepared.”
Vaughan gets oiled up to be roasted.
It's all about "trussed."
A tender meal requires proper basting.
Hmmm. Not done yet…]
It’s probably true for many people—the removal of [your actual self] from the fantasy, which would be the essence of fantasy.
“It’s true!” Mr. Muki says, “I don’t even think about my penis.”
Girl On the Menu
Some girls, Mr. Muki notes, imagine being the entrée.
“He’s really fun, and a total professional,” says artist Meghan Vaughan, who has been roasted, boiled and otherwise cooked five times in Mr. Muki’s Kitchen. “That’s why I’ve been back so many times.”
Vaughan has her own cannibal fantasy in life and art.
Her comic books and fine art depict voluptuous women as both the cooks and the main course, with a humor and lushness that give some of them almost an R. Crumb quality of supersexuality. “The artwork isn’t just busy work,” she says, laughing, “it’s my sex life.”
Vaughan concedes it’s sometimes difficult to explain to people that yes, this is what she likes. Kissing and cuddling aren’t as much on her menu as the build-up of food fantasy—creating her artwork is foreplay for her. Then there are the props, the trussing, the oiling up (her favorite position is hog-tied). Her description sounds almost Tantric in its patient, slow-burning use of sexual energy.
“A lot of what I do is be still, not in a necrophiliac way, but in a passed-out way.” While she admits a lot of guys are put off by a woman not moving, some are very much into it.
For some, the fantasy goes into the woman-cum-dinner being “dispatched … killed,” she says, but not for her. “Mine is more about being on a table, and slowly building up to a certain point. Now you’re finished, now it’s time for sex…now that you’ve been oiled and you have all the accoutrements and have been poked with a fork…Other people kiss and grope. That’s my foreplay. Kissing and groping is very … ugh! I don’t do that!” she says.
Vaughn has been happily coupled with her boyfriend of three years. Since they met via her artwork, he knew what she was all about. As for the stigma of cannibalism, Meghan says she gets away with a lot more because she’s a girl.
“A guy isn’t going to run out of the room freaked out because I say I like cannibal stuff, but if you’re on a first date with a guy and he says he’s into that there’s not going to be a second one.”
The fetish isn’t just women who fantasize about being entrees or whom people fantasize about eating. “Remember that there are two positions to this fantasy: entree and chef. Lots of people see themselves as the entrée—including men. We also have quite a number of female customers, and at least two of our models contacted us because it was their fantasy to be the main course of a cannibal feast. The gender of the eaten is definitely important to the person who has the fantasy.”
Painting by Meghan Vaughan
There was a Mrs. Muki’s Bistro on Muki’s website for some time where men were the main course. “But it didn’t generate enough business to make continuing worthwhile,” Mr. Muki admits.
And just in case you were wondering, there really is a Mrs. Muki. In fact, the couple has just celebrated their 25th anniversary. They met in high school, but didn’t actually get together until after college and started living together. “Very shortly after that, I came clean and told her about my little kink,” Mr. Muki says. “She was the very first person I ever discussed it with. She found it amusing and later said that it certainly answered a lot of questions for her! You see, I really, really like oral sex—and I mean giving even more than receiving. She completely understands where that comes from now.”
Now that’s what we call a Thanksgiving feast! Painting by Meghan Vaughan
So, are cannibal fantasists better at oral sex?
“That could be,” Mr. Muki says, laughing, “but we have no references for comparison. We heard that some cannibal tribes take heads, but we’ve never heard of cannibals who give head!”
Vaughn is less equivocal. “Yes,” she says, “they’re very into oral sex—which is fine with me because it’s something you don’t have to move around a lot for.
(All photos used by permission: Muki's Kitchen.)