Belle de Jour: “Semen Retentum Venenum Est”


The mysteriously carnal Japanese client, brandishing a lacquered box that quivers with the sounds of the occult insect within…

The onanistically grieving Duc, desperate that his blind valet doesn’t allow his cats into the chamber to disturb his religious zeal before climax…

The gold toothed black leather psychopath who won’t trust a whore who takes her stockings off, in case she strangles him with them…

Everyone says that Belle de Jour is the story of a frigid wife who experiments with prostitution in order to become more sexually liberated with her husband.

Everyone also says that retained semen is poisonous.


I think Severine is only fantasising that she needs her double life in order to be intimate with her facile, flaccid husband.

Instead, she is the vortex that confuses, fascinates, excites and devastates the world around her… She isn’t a naive tourist in a dark and scary world, she’s the common denominator: the majestic and tyrannical Alice romping through Wonderland and only pretending to be afraid of the cat’s naked grin. She’s mining the dream world in order to enrich her waking world, she’s getting to work on her husband before letting him get to work on her.

When Jane Eyre leaves Mr Rochester alone just long enough for that obscure object of her desire to become crippled, just long enough for her to become phenomenally wealthy and utterly independent, we know that this is all her joke, her mistress plan at banality’s expense…

And when Severine allows her dream lover to follow her up out of her fantasy to cut the mediocrity out of her husband and allow her secret life to be unveiled and applauded with a couple of stiff drinks, we know that this has been an exceptionally fruitful therapy session for her. Therapy for the husband, not for her.

No, I don’t believe a word of it. But I’ll have what she’s having…


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