Welcome to Who's on Top?, HarpersBAZAAR.com's first sex series, where we ask couples the questions everyone else is too afraid to ask. From how they keep spark alive, to how they talk about sex, fight about sex, and how often they actually have sex, each month one couple will get candid about how they navigate the bedroom.
This week, we're talking with Javier Martin, 33, a Spanish artist that divides his time between New York and Miami, and Austria Ulloa, 26, a New York-based model from the Dominican Republic with many Harper’s Bazaar editorials to her name. One year ago, they made the leap from friends to lovers.
It’s the classic rom-com plot line: Girl realizes guy she’s always had around as a friend could become something more. After five years of friendship, Javier and Austria never quite ‘friend zoned’ each other. Rather, they engaged in a mild flirtation that kept on building and finally peaked last summer.
“I met her at my first art exhibit in New York,” says Javier, who is renowned for his pop art-infused pieces. “I couldn't stop looking at her. I was talking about my painting, and when I saw her coming over, I practically forgot everything I was saying.” Their connection was immediate, but the years that followed involved passions of the non-sexual variety: wandering around the Whitney Museum, going to Latin dance clubs, and spending afternoons on the rooftop at Soho House—as artists’ and models’ schedules can often permit.
But like many couples that cross the line from friends into the unknown, there were many question marks. Does the other person feel the same way? Will it be awkward if we have sex? And their primary concern: Will our friendship be over if this doesn’t work out? “It’s always scary to think about losing your friendship if you make the wrong move,” says Austria, echoing a sentiment that’s been acted out by some of the most notorious onscreen couples (Monica and Chandler; Pam Beesly and Jim Halpert; Chuck and Blair).
After sharing their first kiss on a balmy night in the West Village, they set off to Europe together for most of last summer, where their days played out on Instagram like sun-drenched scenes from Vicky Cristina Barcelona, filled with creativity and romance. Behind the lens, sexual experimentation was at the forefront, and al fresco intimacy in dreamy destinations became a part of their repertoire. Ahead, we speak to the couple about how their relationship has evolved over the past year.
Javier: In reality, I felt comfortable because I wanted to be with her for a long time. I think it’s really good to know each other first—to have a friendship and have things grow naturally over time. It’s better because you really get to know the other person. There may have been a little awkwardness, but we turned it into laughs.
Austria: It was all really natural, he made me feel super comfortable and made me laugh a lot. He pleasantly surprised me! Also, because you’ve come to know them and their secrets as a friend, you’re really aware of what they like and can use it to surprise them!
Javier: I love to be spontaneous. We don’t necessarily have to plan the moment—something that people would do on a Friday night, we try at midday on a Monday. Working flexible hours allows us to enrich our sex life. Simple things like waking up on Monday, knowing that everything is happening outside, we can decide to have breakfast in bed and make love all morning. Other times, we plan to have a lovely dinner at home, and before we get to put the plates, we end up making love on the kitchen island. It’s part of our daily life. We have sex everyday, and given we have flexible schedules, we can get carried away by the moment.
Austria: We’re always try new things. Imagine always having the creativity of an artist in your hands! There’s always something new to discover. When Javier is in production, creating new pieces, he spends more time at the studio and it excites me a lot to see him paint. Often, I’ll make him take a break—I’m addicted to getting paint all over my body! I like to experiment with sex in different places. I like looking around and feeling like the place where I am is different—like I’m unfamiliar with it.
Javier: Everyday, but it has changed a bit since we first started dating eight months ago. If we continued how we started out, neither of us could focus on our work because we wouldn't have time for anything else! We had five years to catch up on, so in the beginning, we had sex around four or five times a day, but eventually, we understood that we had to keep on going with our lives and careers, so we calmed down a little.
Austria: Me, but we both initiate sex. Sometimes he surprises me out of nowhere, and other times, I’ll do things that I know get him in the mood. For example, when he is painting or working at the studio I’ll start walking around with little to no clothes on—that will get him really excited and the rest is history. I also like to show him when I buy any new clothes and put them on and just walk around like a little fashion show, but I never get to show him everything because we end up moving to the bedroom!
Javier: Definitely her, to levels where I have stopped the car on the side of the road. I’ve normally been the one with the higher libido, but in this case, Austria has a higher libido compared to mine.
Javier: Super compatible because we both know how to use our sensitivity and connect on another level. We both speak the same language, and I think we get to connect even more with the things that we say to each other in Spanish. It’s actually funny, sometimes we say a phrases that mean something completely different to the other person and we start cracking up while we are making love.
Javier: We talk about sex often. I feel like communication is the most important thing with sex, to be able to really figure out what we both like. We like to talk about our fantasies and sharing them with each other. Having that freedom to talk about it makes us really visualize the things we like and we get to picture our own experiences and actually make it into reality, like trying on costumes in bed and role playing, haha.
Austria: We talk about it and always express how we feel and discuss the things that we like.
Javier: It’s important to keep seduction alive and always be connecting with what we feel sexually. I think seduction and always connecting sexually it is one of the most important parts of the relationship, because if you don’t continue to make the other person fall in love and feel sexually connected to you, then at some point, that flame will turn off because you didn't pay attention to one of the things that keeps the relationship growing.
Austria: Yes! We’re always trying to seduce each other and we pay attention to things that we know makes the other person feel sexy. I like wearing little to no clothes and dancing for him—I know he really likes it and it also makes me feel really sexy!
Javier: It’s really important to give yourself to one person when you feel it completely. And for that reason, I feel like you have to try things out before you commit to a serious relationship. I think one has to try different things to be able to discover what you really like at the end of it all - that’s how you get to really know yourself and know what you enjoy. Also, I think after you have experienced a lot, you can really say that you had tried it, and maybe it wasn't what you wanted in the end, and that you are willing to commit to something more deeply.
Austria: Yes, monogamy, is super important for me. I am very traditional in that way. For me, being in a relationship means that I want to give my entire self to him, open up completely, and show all of my love. I think you can only do that if you are faithful to that person and you prove with your actions that you respect them and that your relationship is important to you.
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