| Gary Getz with wife Lorrie Clemens at the kissing school. (Reuters)
Seattle, Feb. 15 (Reuters): There's more to a kiss than meets the lips, as couples are learning at a kissing school in Seattle.
Psychotherapist Cherie Byrd, 56, got the idea for kissing classes while dating a man who was a horrible kisser. 'Yuck. He was clumsy, unskilled and half-hearted,' she said. 'I told him if he wanted the relationship to continue he had to let me teach him to kiss.'
The boyfriend didn't last, but Byrd, a self-described 'luscious kisser', said that gave her the idea to teach the art and craft of kissing to other couples. Since 1998, more than 500 couples have paid $275 to learn Byrd's secrets for giving or receiving a passionate kiss.
On a typical class day, up to a dozen couples create 'love nests' with sleeping bags and overstuffed pillows on the carpeted floor of the classroom.
Each class begins with foot rubs, back-to-back dancing and tender kisses on the hand. Students slowly graduate to neck nibbles, ear exploration and finally lip locks.
As Byrd guides couples through exercises, such as kissing only the bottom lip or licking an ear, soft music plays. In a calm, breathy voice she tells them to 'tease, surrender and risk' touching their partner in ways they've never tried before. Most are married and in their late 30s to mid 50s.
Byrd's school, simply titled 'Kissing School', appears to be the only one of its kind, although there are websites that offer kissing tips and techniques. 'It's more than a smashing of lips,' she said.
Byrd says that more important than technique is the connection between two people. 'It's hard to truly connect with your beloved in our society because we're in such a hurry.'
Gary Getz and Lorrie Clemens, married for nine months, flew from their home outside Palo Alto, California to Seattle to attend a kissing school on Saturday. 'It was Lorrie's idea to take the class,' Getz said. 'But I certainly benefit from her interest.'
The instructor's top tip for creating a kiss that is satisfying and sensual is to slow down. 'Men in particular rush through kisses and let their minds wander too much. A kiss is really a gift of your heart. It's your energy transferred to another person's body.'
Although the class is very intimate, Byrd has never had couples go too far with their kisses. The room, in an old school building, is well lit and not the most comfortable place to get carried away, even with the fluffy pillows and blankets.
As couples left Saturday's class, Byrd went home to an empty house. The kissing school teacher is not married and at the moment doesn't have a boyfriend.