The kiss is the most deceptive gesture. Seemingly simple, it is in fact a highly complex action and - depending on the depth of passion used - can ignite a plethora of emotional, sensual and physical reactions including lowering blood pleasure, extending life expectancy and helping to choose a mate.
But the kiss we know and practice today, didn't always have emotional and erotic overtones. In Roman times a kiss was used as a symbol of power: the lower the rank the nearer the ground you planted your kiss, only kissing someone on the mouth if you were their equal. The Greeks believed that breath was the life of man, and kissing an adored object represented a sort of sacrifice. And when European explorers introduced the practice of kissing in South Africa, the Tsonga people were horrified exclaiming "Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt!" So you see, the idea of kissing someone on the lips hasn't always thrilled people.
Today, just about every culture on the planet kisses - but some cultures are still reluctant. In Arab countries, public displays of affection can land you in prison - and if you kiss someone in Japan, you can find yourself engaged to be married!
In "A Kiss is...Never Just a Kiss", the former Editor of the Erotic Review Rowan Pelling tries to discover how and why our views of kissing have changed and whether it has lost some of its magic with over-use, and takes a lesson in how to do it for stage and screen when you've never met the person you're kissing before.
Presenter: Rowan Pelling
Producer: Angela Hind
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.