Dec 1, 2011

A Holiday for the Holidays: I'll be back in a month

Dearest darlings, my pookies:

I'm taking some time off. Not much time--just a month, four weeks, 28-days-ish. But I won't be here writing. I won't be answering most of my e-mails. I won't be on Twitter more than a few times. I'll probably share some links and etc. on Facebook, and it's possible that I might check in and type up a few things for this darling little blog, but for the most part, the month of December will see me dipping under the radar.

There are many reasons for this, but suffice it to say that all the forces at work in my life are telling me that I desperately need a break and that this is the time to take it. I've been struggling with my health, which is difficult to keep up in the presence of abject exhaustion, and I need to spend some time focusing on the interviews and preparation for my art show in the spring. I've also realized that my writing about sex and porn has become diffuse; I feel that in the past few months things have gotten so busy that I've lost sight of what it is I'm actually trying to SAY. I feel as if I'm just treading water to keep my head up, and the only way to find a direction to swim in is to get my bearings. Crawl onto a little porn-free island for a month. Get a good look around. And then of course, there's this quote from Susannah Breslin that hit home really hard: "The sex industry can be really ruthless and brutal. If you’re around that enough, you start to wonder if everybody’s impulses are really base and everyone’s either trying to fuck or kill each other."

It's true. I need a break.

This is also an experiment. I'm going to try my hand at a porn-free life for one month (not very strict--I don't think this is the time for cold turkey, although given the recent holiday I guess it really is) and see what happens. I have an idea brewing for a book with a real point to it, and I think this will help me find out if it's worth a shot.

But the point is, my dears, I will see you all in about a month! Keep fighting the good fight and having fanastics sex, and feel free to tell me all about it in e-mails or in the comments. Happy merry enjoyable early winter and holidays of all kinds to you, each and every one!

Smooches!

Nov 30, 2011

A Pervert's Gift-Giving Guide: from one degenerate to all of you

Thanks to ColumbiaChronicle.com for this awesome pic!
This might sound a little weird, but bear with me: this holiday season there are a lot of excellent reasons to spend some money on the sex industry. I have a feeling that a lot of you who read this are interested in promoting sex-positive points of view and like to do your best to promote ethical and excellent sex products. I applaud that, and I think it's incredibly important to put your money where your junk is when it comes to porn and sex. In a landscape where free porn of the worst kind is everywhere, where it's so easy to go online and purchase toys and other products from literally anywhere, the holiday season is a good time to make sure that your purchases count toward what you really WANT them to.

Many of us make donations to charities in the names of friends and family for holiday gifts, and even more buy products that support causes we agree with. But one cause that often gets overlooked in the family-friendly season is good sex. But why? Is it really so weird to give a friend an account at your favorite online sex toy purveyor, or a membership to your favorite pay-for-porn site? It's not as if you're asking them to use these in front of you, and spreading the word about excellent, ethical, incredibly hot sex industry goods is super-important for those of us who want to support the best of sex. These companies can't exist without income--help them out!

Here's a list of companies, causes, and carnal corruption to consider spending some bucks on for your loved ones this year:

  • Genderqueer superstar Jiz Lee's Karma Pervs: "What is Karma Pervs? In a nutshell, I post unique photo sets of images taken by exciting photographers and visual artists. The proceeds are donated to non-profit organizations in my community." Or of course you can support Jiz directly by purchasing one of their excellent, mind-and-groin-expanding films. If you do either by tomorrow, Dec. 1, you'll get a gift card from Jiz!
  • Help support Madison Young's vision for Building Our Own White Picket Fences: an art exhibit-turned-movement that celebrates and explores queer families. Forthcoming books and DVDs commemorating the show still need funding! 
  • Donate to The Red Umbrella Project a sex-worker advocacy group based in New York that uses storytelling in public venues as a platform for building understanding of sex work and sex workers. I've attended; it's fabulous.
  • Get your honey a membership to The Crash Pad, Shine Louise Houston's groundbreaking queer porn series that will leave misconceptions about queerness in the dust, and everybody's underpants on the floor.
  • Or, for those with a penchant for penis, The Heavenly Spire offers a queer look at the glories of masculinity. 
  • Good Vibrations is a San Francisco-based feminist and LGBTQ-friendly sex mall! Get what you need from them, or donate to their GiVe program: "By donating products, advertising and sponsorship for fundraisers, along with a percentage of retail sales, we've provided much needed support for women's shelters, HIV/AIDS research, art programs, LGBT benefits, breast cancer awareness and much more."
  • Smitten Kitten is your one-stop shop for sex toys, porn, books, and how-tos, with equal variety for men, women, and all other genders. The website features excellent articles from many of my favorite porn peeps including Danny Wylde! 
  • Subscribe your friends and fuck-buddies to Whore! Magazine, "a quarterly print publication dedicated to celebrating the current and historical qualities of women who have defined a role for themselves outside the status quo." 
  • Want something a little hardcore-er? Try Salacious Magazine, a queer feminist sex magazine that just MIGHT be featuring an interview with moi in the next few issues...
  • Donate or subscribe to Bitch Magazine, the feminist response to pop culture! No weird sex-issues required for this one, so you can give it to family with no awkwardness... except the inevitable, "Yes I'm a feminist get over it" talk.
  • Send a donation in your gift-receivers' names to Planned Parenthood. Because why would you NOT want to do that?
  • Support the Free Speech Coalition, "the trade association of the adult entertainment industry. Our mission is to lead, protect and support the growth of the adult entertainment industry."
  • Purchase from Papaya Toys, the new, no-nonsense, socially-conscious sex toy company winning awards like it's going out of style... and all of it is pthalate-free!
  • Donate to one of love artist and sexecologist Annie Sprinkle's ongoing, always entertaining, mind-opening, and totally sparkly projects.
Go forth, good sirs, madams, and others... spend thy money in a way that matters!

Nov 29, 2011

Cabaret Desire


CABARET DESIRE
Lust Cinema
A film by Erika Lust
CABARETS AND CABARETTES Toni Fontana, Sofia Prada, Saskia Condal, Mario Mentrup, Lady Diamond, Matisse, Liandra Dahl, Didac Duran, Samia Duarte

Here’s why Erika Lust’s films are so awesome: they’re really films. I don’t mean that they’re super-arty or intellectual, even though sometimes they are. And I don’t mean that they have totally engrossing plots and developed characters, although that’s sometimes the case. I mean that Erika Lust makes films that are about sex and that are totally unafraid of showing the sex graphically, but that’s not all that’s going on. There’s music—really good and very sensual music—and background and imagination and realism and eroticism all rolled into sleek, utterly sexy packages. They are entertaining to watch and definitely breathless enough to spur couples to shag or singles to whack it. And they are made with loving care — Cabaret Desire, for instance, was filmed this summer and has just been widely released. For comparison’s sake, most porn movies are released within a month of shooting. Lust Cinema gives more than a shit about its films — it gives a heart. Cabaret Desire has all of the above going for it, and perhaps more. It’s taken the best of Lust’s films and boiled them down into a slick, delectable mix that’s driven more by desire than by sex, a difficult balance to strike and an even more difficult one to keep.

Cabaret Desire is a heady series of vignettes tied together by storytellers at the eponymous cabaret where poets and storytellers mingle with burlesque dancers and jazz singers in a sensual environment, titillating clients with tales of lust for a fee. Members of The Poetry Brothel from New York City and Barcelona serve as narrators for the four carnal encounters that unfold as actors pound out the action to great effect. I’m not sure how she does it, but Erika Lust always pairs actors who seem to have been wanting desperately to get into each other’s pants for years. The chemistry on screen between Sofia, for instance, and her two lovers of different sexes both named Alex, is face-melting hot. Sofia fucks both of them for the viewers’ pleasure, but in two different scenes spliced together into one fluidly delicious scene that manages to be explicit, immoral (in that she’s sleeping with both of them behind their backs), and tasteful all at once.

With a deftness that would be dazzling on its own if it weren’t overshadowed by the panties-moistening sexiness on screen, Lust juggles casting both male and female actors in an equally desirable light, a feat that American pornographers and even mainstream filmmakers are generally incapable of accomplishing. Not only are the men in her films usually as well-rounded in character as they are in their jeans, they’re shown to be objects of not just lust, but full-fledged desire: in a cat-burglary scene that could easily have become a woman-in-latex ogle-fest, Lust instead decides to undress and expose a skinny older man who is physically unimpressive while leaving the curvaceous actress entirely sheathed in a catsuit — except for her crotch. And even with her face in a mask and her body concealed, the degree to which she wants to bone the scrawny old naked dude is undeniable and carries the scene from creepy territory into absolutely fappable land. It’s like magic: desire can transform people.

Ok, let’s be honest. I could go on and on about Cabaret Desire. It’s a film by one of my favorite filmmakers. It’s European and therefore exotic, but it stars several people I happen to know personally from The Poetry Brothel, which makes the super-sexy mood even more surreal. It’s filmed in such a way that fans of softcore (are there fans of softcore? I don’t know any) can enjoy it, but hardcore hand-lovers still have plenty to appreciate. The scenes are cut together so that the sex is part of the story: flashbacks layer over the present and sex mingles with background in beautifully filmed patchwork that gives the brain something to do while the body responds. The music is fantastic. The cabaret environment is stunningly sexy. The whole film drips sensuality and sweats eroticism. You should watch it. Right now.

Nov 24, 2011

Stuffing My Face to Keep My Mouth Shut

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope it's a fun time for you all, even if the presence of family can be tense. Trust me, I understand.

We've dicsusssed this subject before. Every time I go to visit my family for a holiday, I must perform a careful balancing act. Everyone around me, with the exception (maybe) of my grandmother, knows that I spend much of my time watching, reviewing, thinking about, and talking about pornography. My parents and siblings know. My cousins know, and they've all told their parents and friends. My friends certainly know. But I have been very specifically forbidden from discussing any of this at family gatherings. My parents do not want the topic to come up at the dinner table over turkey and cranberries, and they definitely don't want it whispered about during hors d'ouevres. They want to preserve the never-actually-extant illusion that their family is "normal." That's their right, of course: it's their house. But if any of my friends and relatives who watched me growing up and didn't expect me to end up doing something like what I'm doing now, or if any of them think it's actually normal for a house full of people to  never once bring up sex... something is very wrong.

But the end result is that, rather than discussing the fascinating ins and outs of the adult inddustry, which I am absolutely certain all of my extended family members have plenty of questions about, we discuss our even-more-extended family's health problems, in grotesque detail, while stuffing our faces. This seems strange to me. Obviously there are some things in porn that might turn stomachs easily, but I find colostomy bags and surgical details much more repellant than insider knowledge about pay models in adult entertainment.

Well, whatever. As  long as there is food, friends, and family, who cares what we talk about? I get kind of sick of all the sex talk, anyway, so it's a nice break. And it's slightly less alienating to know I'm in the presence of like-minded individuals, even if we're not allowed to mention it: last year my aunt sidled up to me in the living room and asked, in a whisper, if I thought Hilary Clinton was into BDSM in her private life. I said yes, definitely.

Nov 22, 2011

I Wonder

I like to think of myself as a realist. I've read much on human evolution and sexuality. I have always been tuned toward the sexy side of life, finding innuendo in the most innocent of places and shaping my life around my sexual desires; how could it be shaped any other way? I have placed myself in the world of pornography in some ways accidentally, but in most ways deliberately--I hoped to find like-minded people here. People who see everything for what, biology tells us, it really is: an elaborate construction built up around the urge to fuck. Everything we do goes back to that basic need to try to pass on our DNA, to become immortal through our offspring, to collapse into each other over and over until our seed has taken to the soil of a new generation. And then to keep doing it because we like it. Sex is the basis of every movement of our heads, every building we design, every purchase we make, everything we do. Everything.

Or so I've thought for some time. And I still believe I'm right. But it occurs to me sometimes, when I watch people at the office or overhear conversations on the subway, that this reductive view of humanity is isolating me. It's impossible to know what those guys on the sidewalk actually thought when they turned around to watch that woman in tight pants walk by. Maybe they simply thought, "How pretty." But my brain, saturated in the hardcore and held up by my almost-thirty years of perversion, immediately assumed that their brains took this to an extreme: "How would my dick look in her mouth? I wonder if she can deep throat."

I'm starting to feel like I don't have any firm grounding in the rest of the world. I sometimes fear I've run straight through the looking glass without noticing and landed deep in Lalaland, where everything is distorted, oversized, oversexed. I'm sometimes happy here: these people get me to a degree. They're not afraid of sex or sexuality and they're fun to hang out with and their brains do the same things mine does when they're in public, I'm sure. For us, it's normal to wonder what that guy is packing beneath his skinny jeans, to speculate briefly on his fetishes, to be oh-so-close to just asking him before remembering that sex is not easy for everyone to talk about. It's a huge block in the road for many. For us, though, it IS the road.

I wonder if my sense of up and down is still intact. I wonder if there is an up and a down or just this slippery slope I've been on for years now. I love being able to talk to people about their perversions, to be an understanding ear for their insecurities and a source of answers for many of their questions. I like being the Mama Bear of all things porn for my friends. But this work is doing something to me, to my expectations about people, to my estimation of people. I still think, and always will, that sex is what drives us, but that equation is so simple--if everything came back to this so simply, we'd have never invented calculus. Being an essentialist is easy most of the time, but I've begun to wonder if I can handle the complications that arise when you attribute more than just lust to people's motivations. I wonder if I have any motivations of my own anymore.

I wonder.

Nov 18, 2011

Why We Should All REALLY Hate "Jack & Jill"

"Wow, I actually FEEL like I'm worth less as a human being when I'm dressed like this! It's working!"
The reviews are in, and it seems that despite its No. 2 spot at the box-office this past weekend, Adam Sandler's drag comedy Jack & Jill tanked with critics. I haven't seen the film myself, nor do I plan to spend two precious hours of this life trying to force a laugh over jokes so bland and overused they hurt my jaw like old gum... so I may just be making assumptions. But based on what I've seen in reviews so far, Adam Sandler, who once made me laugh till I cried with Opera Man and "Lunch Lady Land," has fallen pretty far for this trite take on a man-in-lady-clothes-ha-ha-ha. So I feel pretty much ok with saying the following:

The reason to despise Jack & Jill, and other movies like it, isn't necessarily because it's just a trite and all-around bad movie, although those reasons aren't oh so terrible. The reason isn't even because trans people and cross dressers and those of us who don't find the men-in-plaid and women-in-skirts stereotypes very interesting are sick of seeing the same tired stereotypes trotted out to be reinforced by mocking people who break them--although that's also a very good reason, in my book, to cast shame on Sandler and everyone else involved in this film. But so many other films have done these things that one can hardly cast stones at just the aging SNL star for taking part in it without taking up a whole lot more rocks. No, the reason this movie pisses me, and I hope you as well, off so much is that from the first teaser poster I saw for it in the subway months ago, it has relied heavily on the idea that a woman who isn't classically beautiful--aka Sandler in drag as "Jill"--is funny because she's so ugly. The poster, which bore the faces of both "Jack" (a predictably flummoxed-looking Sandler as a dude who's not all that attractive but who still gets his own feature film) and "Jill" (Sandler in drag as a girl who's not all that attractive and is thus obviously the butt of many jokes), with the legend, "His twin sister is coming for the holidays... and it ain't pretty."

BAM. Right there. Guess what, holiday movie-goers? In case every advertisement you've ever seen for every other product in existence hadn't already driven this point home, along with every facet of modern entertainment and pretty much the rest of the world, if you aren't stunningly gorgeous and you're female: you're a joke. A punchline. You're pretty much worthless unless you go into comedy to make fun of yourself.

Uck. I'm sure that in this movie, Jill bears the brunt of her large jaw, broad shoulders, large nose, and what I'm sure is a very unpleasant, squeaky, nasal voice, but in the end redeems all of woman-kind by proving to Jack just how wonderful a person she is and how he's a jerk for judging her on her looks  instead of her winning personality, or something yawn-inducing along the same vein pumping ever-more sluggish blood along a bored and boring circulatory system of overused comedy. I'm sure that the creative team behind Jack & Jill really thought on some level that they were being kind to ugly girls everywhere by redeeming their character in the end somehow. But they're not being kind, they're just being just nasty and small-minded about people's real experiences in life. They're taking advantage of half the population, which is already so terrified of not being sexually attractive that it injects faces with weird hormones and chemicals, forces feet into uncomfortable shoes, debases itself if it thinks guys are watching, and feeds its own kind on jealousy and in-fighting instead of support and caring. Do we need more of this? No, no we don't.

People, stay out of the theaters for this one. I can guarantee none of the jokes will be original enough to be worth your overpriced ticket, and there are other options that treat women with some dignity. Not very many, sadly, but they're out there.

Nov 16, 2011

Links: Lust, Ladygasms, Leg-Ups, and Lunacy!

This pizza? For slightly effeminate bisexual men only, obviously, as denoted by the vegetables. More effeminate bisexual men only like olives..
To all of you out there who make a habit of reading my blog: thank you for bearing with me. The past few weeks have been non-stop and have involved a whole lot of me feeling hypersensitive and sad, and I just haven't had much of a will, or the time, to come up with original content. So thanks for sticking with me if you have; it means a lot!

Now moving on to more interesting things than my own navel-watching (which I think is a much more interesting hobby, personally, than bird-watching--after all, there's sometimes lint in there!)! Some brief thoughts and links and the like:

1) Lust: Erika Lust's newest feature film from Lust Cinema is officially OUT! Keep your eye on this blog and on WHACK! Magazine for a review from yours truly (I'm way more excited to watch this one than I've been about a sexy movie in quite some time), and in the meantime, wrap your brain around this little small-world weirdness: I review porn and other sexy fare for this blog and other websites, as you well know, and I also perform as Fanny Firewater with NYC's own Poetry Brothel--an intimate salon with dressed up poets parading around as whores and giving private, sensual readings for poetry nuts in speakeasies around New York. The Brothel has gotten a lot of attention here in New York and has spread to a few sister brothels here and abroad; one is in Barcelona. Erika Lust's new film, Cabaret Desire, is based on the idea of, and actually set in, Barcelona's Poeetry Brothel. Am I the nexus for the coolest things in the world, or what?

2) Ladygasms: In what may be the most flat-out cool and also exciting science I've heard about in months (yes, "science" is a broad term but I like keeping it all in its place, you know?) scientists at Rutgers (hell YEAH New Jersey, way to be cooler than I thought you were!) have made the first-ever brain scans of a woman before, during, and after orgasm... and put it all in a video so we can watch it! The results are absolutely incredible, with oxygen levels and activity in almost every part of the brain lighting up like fireworks at the moment of climax. Basically, or at least as some journalists have optimistically implied, the female brain is at its most functional during orgasm. That explains a lot, no? While Professor Barry Komisaruk, the lead researcher on the project, stresses how learning about the brain during orgasm can help in a wide range of other areas--as I'm sure he has to do in order to keep his funding--the implications seem clear to me: sex is good for your noggin, and so is masturbation! Rejoice!

3) Leg-Up: (I realize that the term "leg-up" might not be that familiar to everyone, though I use it a lot... I'm not sure if this is something I've taken as a known fact for a while or if other people actually sometimes use it, but just to cover all my bases: a "leg-up" is when someone cups their hands together so that a short person can put a foot or knee into the offered hands, then boosts that person up onto a horse's back... I use it to refer to generally giving someone a hand, but "leg-up" just sounds so much cooler.) Madison Young and her fierce cadre of queers in San Francisco are looking for support for their "Building Our Own White Picket Fences" project. Madison is using this project, which incorporates art, sex, love, and writing, as a platform for discussing the new models of the American family that the queer community is forging; it's not only super-hot and super-cool all at once, but it's mondo important for our society moving forward into a post-prejudiced society. Please go preorder some goodies to help fund those goodies being made, or support the project at its Kickstarter page. For progress! For love! For art!
(Also, I wonder if "leg-up" is pluralized as "legs-up" or "leg-ups." Hm.)

4) Lunacy: I have stayed pretty hands-off with the whole Penn State scandal for several reasons. I'm from Pennsylvania, from a staunchly pro-Joe-Pa family, and I've been very hesitant to make any bold statements until more of the facts about what actually happened came in. I absolutely can't condone the behavior of anyone involved in not reporting the incidents to the police (or maybe not, since the assistant coach who witnessed something [rape? "horsing around"?] now says he did talk to police), but it's been very difficult to watch an icon that made many of the hours of my youth gleam with moral rectitude be torn down, and I don't want to go pointing fingers until I know what really happened. But this morning I heard a short piece on NPR that made me crinkle up my face. I can't remember the correspondent's name, because I'm terrible at names, but on WNYC this morning right around 8:00 am, he read a piece about how he can't help wondering if the cult of hypermasculinity surrounding the sport of American football might have helped this horrible failing to stay quiet--if the fact that men who play football are perceived as SOO-OOO manly that it seems like twice the indignity, twice the shame, twice the wrongness, to imply that they might get involved in the least masculine of all activities: the rape and destruction of young boys' childhoods.
I see what he's saying. I can make the connection myself. Football in America is the ultimate (or at least close to the ultimate) expression of manly manness. There is no women's football league--except the lingerie one, which is pretty much a reinforcement of every male stereotype, just in reverse. Football is accompanied by beer and wings. Football is chest-pounding, Budweiser-swilling, we-are-so-tough-it-hurts fodder for the male masses. And to think that something so absolutely not traditionally American-man-and-flannel-and-workboots as pedophilia could be mixed in with it in any way--it's almost sacrilege. The fact that this piece came on the radio right after a piece about how there have been more people coming forth to talk about their experiences of childhood sexual abuse after the Penn State scandal than after the Catholic Church scandal really drives home the sacrosanctity of the pigskin.
But... Really? Are we really so concerned with masculine stereotyping, so absolutely shit-the-pants terrified of anything breaking the hetero man facade, that we might be able to overlook one of the most abominable crimes known to our species to protect it? That's overstating it--I doubt anyone involved saw or heard something and thought, "I better not say anything because it'll make football seem less manly." But... I just don't know. It's sure food for thought.
And then this afternoon I raed this article in Salon about how Herman Cain doesn't eat "sissy pizza" with "vegetables." Seriously, Herman Cain really said this in an interview with GQ: he associates pepperoni and sausage with men "because the more manly man is not afraid of abundance. A manly man don’t want it piled high with vegetables!" And he meant it.
And I thought... "Oh my god. How did we get here? How the hell did our society reach a point at which we are so completely wrapped up in make-believe ideas about what makes a person with a penis 'normal' that we are now calling vegetables 'sissy' food? How did this happen? Where did we take a turn down Lunatic Alley?" This is utter craziness. Seriously, people: your food preferences, sporting interests, clothing color choices, sexual orientation... they're just parts of YOU. They're not the things that define who you are, and if they are... they're still your choice. What you like on a your burger and fries does not give you a free pass into some secret society of the manly or womanly or sissy or whatever. How did we get to a point where we think it could?
Uck. I'm going to go home now, and sigh a lot, and then eat some tofu and vegetables in broth. I guess we know what my genitals look like!

Nov 14, 2011

Misused Quotes and Misunderstood Quips

I'm casting about for what to say right now and it's not coming easily. I feel like no matter what I end up writing down will come out wrong and upset someone out there. But if I don't try to write about this I'll be upset. So I guess it's worth a shot.

I don't know the exact context of the famous Voltaire and/or Evelyn Beatrice Hall quotation, "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." It's so overused I feel as if it's got to be some sort of sham that gets misappropriated all the time, but I'm going to go ahead and nab it today because it fits so neatly into this situation. The situation being something along the lines of the following:

One of the writers at a publication I'm closely connected to wrote an article that has gotten a lot of very negative attention lately and that publication has decided to stand behind the author rather than taking down the offensive material. There has been a lot of noise made about how offensive this material is, and that noise is not exactly wrong. As someone who is very intimately connected with the publication and thus the material, I feel terrible that it's out there and upsetting people. I am far, far too sensitive for this stuff. In any situation in which someone is upset by something, I almost always take the blame and the hurt feelings very much upon myself. I get upset. I blame myself. I feel absolutely terrible and try to make everyone in the situation happy again.

But sometimes that doesn't work and sometimes it's not even possible. And sometimes it's not even right. The offending material made jokes about two very serious topics: racial stereotypes and rape. They were made absolutely in jest, and the writer, being one of the sweetest people I've ever known, didn't expect anyone to take them seriously. But some people did. And here we enter into that big nebulous grey cloud of foggy moral responsibilities around humor and sensitive topics. Where are the lines drawn in this murky morass of bruised feelings, innocuous humor, insidious inequality and ignorance, and morality? These are subjects that people spend their whole lives trying to understand, but no one in their right mind can claim to have all the answers to.

So here I am, watching this meant-to-be-funny article being taken as very, very not funny. And I'm asking myself all these questions about what's more important here: the offense people have taken to the article, or the right of the author to say it in the first place. The feelings of people who see no humor in touchy issues, or the importance of free speech? Vast, sweeping overstatements I want to make to defend the article, or taking an honest look at how these things really affect our society?

On the one hand, I believe absolutely that sexual assault and racism are deadly serious topics. When I read this article in HuffPo from Eve Ensler today, I almost wept. I myself, and a huge majority of the women I know, are all victims of sexual assault. It is a force of unspeakable evil in our world, and it is perpetuated through silence, sexism, and, yes, mockery. Making the issue of sexual assault seem less important or earth-shattering than it really is in a way defeats everything I stand for as a writer: I believe that the rights of all people are damaged by the pervasiveness of rape in the world today. And it makes me sick to think that I might contribute in any way to that pervasiveness.

The same is true of racism. A few months ago I made the definitive decision to stop reviewing any adult materials that come my way that make use of racial stereotypes as a selling point: I won't review Cougars Like it Black or any of the other silly stuff that feeds into racial stereotyping in the adult industry. It's needless and damaging and gross. And I don't believe that mocking racial stereotypes is a universally good thing--it can be just as damaging as bald-facedly perpetuating those stereotypes.

So I hate to sit by and watch this all happen. I hate to think that people are reading this material and thinking that the people I work with might actually espouse these vile notions. But I also have to ask: what's the point of humor and satire and public writings if not to give some air, some levity, some space to the topics that so offend us?

I absolutely don't love it that neo-Nazis can go around saying awful things about other groups of people. I find it disgusting that some conservatives say hateful things about women who want reproductive rights. I don't love it that there are places on the internet where people can voice their bigotry. But would I rather live in a place where things that offend people are censored? Would I rather live in an eerie silence in which jokes can't be made because they might be offensive? It's the silence we shroud certain topics in, like sex and rape and race, that often does more damage than the words themselves being uttered, called out, decried, and discussed, isn't it? Or am I just making myself feel better?

I have a friend who was so annoyed by a stand-up comic that, last week, he walked up onto the stage at the club and punched the comic in the face for his racist comments about the bartender. I'm certainly not promoting violence in public places on a whim, but I think there's a bit of an analogy here: sometimes it's maybe better to let the unpleasant things you don't like be said and then express your dislike... than it is to tell the person who said it that they had no right to say it or to try to revoke that person's speech. Maybe it's better to deal with the consequences of free speech and to let its not-so-positive iterations be platforms for discussion than to revoke things that are done. As Stephen King said once, "What's done is done and can never be undone, as the Irish have been saying for centuries, and which just goes to show what assholes they are."

Or somesuch. But you see what I'm saying? I'm not sure if I do. But I think the Voltaire or whomever quote above says a lot. This whole thing makes me want to curl up and cry. I don't like it that it happened. But it did. So let's talk about it.

Nov 9, 2011

Two Things Real Quick

1) People from Mississippi are officially called Mississippians. I learned this a few weeks ago when perusing a list of what to call people from different states. I guess with a name for the state as ridiculous as Mississippi (sorry Native Americans, I mean no fun-making, it's just... well... it's a funny word) in the first place, you don't need to get very creative with your suffixes. Mississippian still sounds pretty fantastic. But it could be more fun. Behold: Mississipponian. Mississippander. Mississippianian. Mississippizippity-doo-dah.

2) I may have been into the chocolate vodka.

3) I am into the chocolate vodka to celebrate Mississippians rejecting Initiative 26 at the polls today. Inituative 26 would have legally established "personhood" as state law, making the moment of conception the legal definition of the beginning of a human life. While this may be true in some very abstract scientific ways, the idea that two cells constitutes a human being was very close to becoming the most anti-woman, anti-reason, anti-everything-civilized-society-has-been-built-on piece of hooey legislation ever to endanger women's lives and freedoms and roll back decades of gains in understanding. So whatever they're called, I celebrate the people of Mississippi today for being less zany than the state they're from. Cheers!

Nov 7, 2011

The Post-Convention Wrap-Up: Can't We All Just Get Along?

Well, Exxxotica NJ has come and gone, and I am once again exhausted, energized, and voiceless. This weekend went by in such a whirl of interviews, parties, connections, and craziness that looking back on it I hardly know what to say.

The first thing to be said, of course, is thank you to Exxxotica for making it all happen. This year's convention (the only adult industry convention that comes near NYC, and would be in the city if not for our weirdly prudish government, but that's another story) was bigger than ever and impressively well attended by industry and fans alike. I rubbed elbows with so many of my favorite performers and behind-the-scenes folks that I actually missed seeing and talking to a lot of my other favorites, and that's the suck. But I feel slightly less bad about it knowing that I was simultaneously carting around a gang of WHACK! staffers with me while trying to promote a media event/party we were throwing Saturday night.

Which really is the most... hm... the most interesting, shall we say, aspect of this weekend for me. The party craziness. I've heard it repeated again and again that porn is an insider's industry, and I've seen and heard of many examples of pettiness in the ranks. But I wasn't prepared for the shit that went down surrounding the event WHACK! magazine threw on Saturday night along with HedoOnline. It really brought some of the rumors I'd heard into reality for me.

I have my suspicions about what it was that actually sparked all this nastiness, but the short story is this: WHACK! began to plan a party with HedoOnline that would provide some mainstream press coverage for adult industry people who were in town for the convention this past weekend. The planning began over a month ago, when we sent out feelers to clubs for hosting, stars for attending, and Exxxotica to see if they would like to sponsor the event as one of their official after-parties. We love the guys who run Exxxotica and were eager to work with them to make everything go smoothly. They told us that they'd already worked something out with another venue for their after-parties, so they'd have to decline, but they hoped our event would go well. So we proceeded to plan for the event without using their name on it. We called it a "media event" to avoid the "after-party" moniker, and we made no mention of Exxxotica in our official press for the event, just to keep everything on the level. Especially after I got screamed at by a performer who apparently was misinformed about what was going and threatened with lawsuits if any copyright infringement occurred, we were very, very careful to make the event as positive and well-publicized as possible, but to keep the "Exxxotica" name out of it. We didn't want anyone to get the wrong impression about who was throwing the event.

So in late October we sent out a press release to every major media outlet in the adult biz and in the mainstream. Nowhere in the release did we mention the word "Exxxotica" or "party." We were treating the event as a red carpet media extravaganza that we wanted to invite adult industry professionals to so that they could get some media exposure while they were in town. We invited them to stop by on their ways to other appearances, or stay and have a few cocktails with us. Whatever worked. Let's all be friends, right?

Not so much, apparently. By the beginning of last week, we'd had several media outlets rewrite our headline to read "Exxxotica After-Party" or some variation thereof, which immediately pissed off about... well... everyone. We immediately contacted every place we could that had run this headline, and many of them retracted their rewritten headlines, switching instead to something less inflammatory. But it seems the damage was already done. Rumors flew around, people freaked out, managers pulled their talent, and by the time Saturday morning rolled around, we literally had no idea who would be on our red carpet, even though we'd confirmed attendance weeks in advance from many stars. We spoke via phone and in person to talent managers and stars, and we got a lot of lip service, but it was too late. The rumor mill was hard at work, turning our good intentions into a nefarious scheme to steal Exxxotica's name and reputation for our own self-serving wishes. Exactly the opposite of what we'd tried to do.

Damage control can only get you so far. In the end, we had a fabulous night, and the convention itself was great. We had a great turnout at our event despite everything, there was a big media turnout for the red carpet, and we all had a great time. But it could have been a lot better if some people hadn't decided to get their knickers in a twist over an entirely mistaken impression that they chose to stand by even when there was no need to. I think this has been a learning experience: the industry on the inside is a lot like high school. Lots of fun to be had, but you always have to be watching your back because people actually want to sabotage you. Egos are massive. People take themselves very, very seriously, and a smile and good intentions will not change their minds.

I hesitate to say this because it might come out all wrong, but here goes: It's just porn, people. Relax. I don't mean to say that porn isn't serious business or doesn't deserve real consideration and respect, because it does. It VERY MUCH does. But it's also not the U.N. You know what I mean? We're not holding the fate of nations in our hands here. We're trying to throw a party and do some interviews for everyone's benefit. Can we all just calm down a little bit and get along?

Nov 3, 2011

The Pre-Convention Jitterbug

I’m heading out to Exxxotica, NJ in a few days’ time to hang out with the crew of WHACK! magazine and all the adult industry people who flock to the unlikely hole-in-the-wall of Edison, NJ each year for the event. This will be my third time at the Edison convention center and hopefully this year I’ll have as much fun as the past two. I just have to get over my pre-convention jitters.

See here’s the thing. I am apparently pretty good at interviewing people. I’ve been doing interviews with adult industry people for over three years now, and I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with the process once it starts. Especially when face-to-face with someone, a conversation usually flows pretty easily. One thing I’ve realized is that generally speaking, porn stars love to talk. I just direct the flow. But the days and hours and minutes leading up to the talking? I panic. I get sweaty palms. I convince myself that this person will never want to talk to me and I’ll be an outcast from porn society for sticking a microphone in their face. It’s ugly. I convince myself that I’m ugly and can’t be on this video, immortalized forever on the internet with my weird voice and stupid hair and OHMYGOD!

And then the camera starts rolling, I say a contrived introductory phrase or two, and we’re off! And the interview goes on for a few minutes, and then we’re done. And usually I give whoever it is my card and we agree to do other interviews later on, and all is well. And then later when we post the video on WHACK! people compliment me for my interviewing skills and I feel like my hair was totally not stupid. It’s one of those strange things in life that turns out well almost every time and yet I still suffer the throes of anxiety for days beforehand. I used to get that way before my horseback riding lessons as a kid—I never wanted to go and would try to make myself get sick all day leading up to it just to get out of a lesson, and then as soon as I got near the horse I was riding I’d be so glad I was there I couldn’t stop grinning. Life is strange.

Anyway, everyone, wish me luck! I’ll be doing some live tweeting and maybe a blog post while I’m in the midst of the mania this weekend in NJ (and NYC on Saturday night for the Provocative Press media event we’re throwing with Lola from HedoOnline—it’s going to be ha-yuge!), but right now, what I need is positive vibes, people. I’m kinda stressing out.

Nov 1, 2011

The Shortest Question with the Longest Implications

I got this question the other day on Twitter:


does size matter?

Well. That's a hell of a simple question. But the answer is so not simple. And hey, if you ask ME a question do you REALLY expect it to have anything like a short answer? If so, you're sadly misled.

The answer depends on so many things, but let's get it down to two basic parts:
1) The person you;re asking, and what that person wants. If you're asking me personally, my answer is yes. Size does matter because--assuming we're talking about the male sexual organ, which I think we, are based on the way you asked the question--the size of the member vastly changes the experience you have with it. There is just no way that engaging with a long, thick something is going to feel the same as engaging with a short, slim something. They're different experiences. Just like sitting through a three-hour movie is different from watching an hour-and-ten-minute movie. They're just not the same. So of course size matters in that way.
But that isn't to say that one is inherently superior to the other. Not by a long shot. Again, if you're asking me personally, I'm a very delicate person physically, so big isn't always best for me. I get sore very easily, I'm teeny tiny, and I'm generally not made for big things. They look ludicrously huge next to me and it's kind of silly. So while a big ol' salami size can be fun, it's a lot more of a process to get it to work with my fragile frame. Sometimes smaller can be easier to manage, and present less of a challenge to giving me pleasure over pain. For isntance, I once dated a very "well-endowed" man, and it took me a full two months to even allow the thing near me when naked. I was terrified of it and what it might do to me if it were wielded incorrectly. In the meantime, he was good enough to learn how to please me orally, so that when we tried to get our down-belows together, I was more, shall we say, ready for it. Conversely, I've been with many guys who were more moderately sized and never had to go through the fearful phase, which was very nice indeed, and provided they were able to use their equipment to everyone's enjoyment, I had a great time with them.
And furthermore, as do many other people, I don't always find that the swizzle stick is the most important part of the experience. It's one of the items on the menu, but it certainly isn't always the main course. If you can use your hands and your mouth, sometimes the cock can be done without, or sampled as just part of the meal. So in that way, while the size makes a difference in the experience, it's just one of many variables that can add up to a good time. It's not the all-important ingredient that makes or breaks it.
As far as other people to whom you might put the question of size, I can't speak directly for them, but bear in mind that these answers are different for everyone. I know a woman who is so small and tight down below that she has serious trouble using tampons--her partner is on the small side, and thank goodness for that. She could never handle a bigger person.
But there are people who are built differently and who find bigger members suit them just fine, or in fact are all they're looking for. To each his or her or their own... cock. Impromptu rhyme: "Whether it's flesh or silicone, rubber or plastic/use what you like and you'll feel fantastic!"
....anyway. There are people who don't get sore easily, and for whom the phallus is the centerpiece of any sexual outing. There are others who are grossed out by phalluses and won't even touch them. It's a big world out there, and all sizes have a niche that works for them if they're willing to figure out which one that is. And personal preference is what it is--you can work with it, work against it, and try to change it, but it is what it is. People who like 'em big have their reasons, and vice versa.

2) The person whose "size" is under consideration is also a very important piece of how to answer this question in any particular situation. What does this person want from a partner? What does this person want for him/her/themselves? The truth is that for people who are smaller, wanting to be bigger is just not going to work out. Coveting a huge porno cock won't get anybody anywhere, because A) most guys who do porn are NOT normal. They do porn for many reasons, but one of those reasons is that big dicks sell more porn, so porn dudes have massive members that are way, way, way above average and would be really uncomfortable for your average woman to handle. That's why porn stars get paid to deal with them. And B) those pills they advertise online... they don't work. You've got what you've got, and wanting it to get bigger just won't help anything. So who's asking the question, and why? If they're curious as to how to use what they've got to please their partners, then that's utterly doable no matter what the dimensions of your diddler. It's all about knowing your own body and being communicative with the person or people you're using it with. Finding out what your partner wants and learning how to do it will always, always get you farther than just having a big battering ram and bashing away at it. 
Big dicks might give some people more instant gratification (if those people are built for larger logs), but instant isn't always the best kind, now is it? It's fun for those who like it, but I find that a lot of people--and women make up a large percentage of those people--are much more satisfied by a longer, slower buildup that isn't the result of merciless pounding by big boners, but rather the end climax of a long, drawn-out session with skilled and creative lover. In a way, I sometimes think that guys with large logs can actually get short-changed by their massive manhood. It's easy to get a loud verbal reaction out of a partner if you're stabbing them with a sizeable salami (sorry, the alliteration is just too easy to resist), but that shriek might be one of pain or overwhelming confusion about their insides being scrambled. A really good, really powerful orgasm can come after hours of foreplay, teasing, coaxing, and refined technique that people with massive schlongs might never feel they need to learn. But if they did, they'd be well served by their new skill set. So again, depends on the person whose size is being examined and what it is they want to get out of it.

So, here's the short answer to your question about whether size matters: it all depends who's asking, and who that person is asking. It's all relative, even rods.

Oct 30, 2011

Madison Young: My Porn/Art Hero


I’ve been trying to figure out how to blog about my afternoon with Madison Young last weekend. It was a week ago today that I went to the art space where she was setting up for her current show, “Building Our Own White Picket Fences,” sat down on the floor with her, and talked for an hour and a half about motherhood, sexual hypocrisy, pornography, art, and consent. And in that week I’ve been replaying our conversation over and over in my head, enjoying it every time. Because Madison and I seem to have each taken half of the same brain—her, the more action-oriented extroverted half, and myself, the more introverted, thinky, writerly half (thought both of us seem to exhibit traits of both halves)—and taken some genetic material and life experience from elsewhere to fill up the rest of our skulls. In the interview, which I filmed, she said everything I’ve always wanted to hear a porn director and performer, artist, and human being say about human sexuality. We were vibing like woah.

But the thing is, since this interview was for use in the art show I’m curating for a spring show at apexart here in New York, I kind of have to keep the details under wraps for now. Not that any of it was groundbreaking or entirely new or would hurt anybody if it were let out of the bag, but I think I need to spend some time thinking about it in my own quiet, private way to see how it fits into the larger ideas I’m working with in my show, before I share with the world.

So let’s get past the details. Let’s say that in San Francisco there is a woman who inspires me. A saucy redhead with pale skin and beautifully clear, blue, penetrating eyes who says what she thinks, does what she says, and lives a life so open and honest that it makes me want to reexamine my tendencies toward secrecy and the way I jealously guard my privacy. Maybe, she makes me think, privacy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As an artist she takes her guts and raw emotions, tangles them up and unties them again, and fits them into and around art installations she designs. As a pornographer she unwraps the veils of propriety that society tries to shove onto her body and steps forward boldly, as naked and exposed as a person can be, and revels un-self-consciously in her body and her pleasure. She’s a living tribute to the bravery of the queer movement, the danger and joy in the sex-positive movement, and a personification of the kind of courageous radical living that I wish I knew how to engage in, myself.

I’d always thought that Madison would be this way, but it’s difficult to judge people from afar in some ways. A woman of her intelligence, discerning, business acumen, beauty, and balls could easily have proven aloof, pretentious, unfeeling. She could have been uninterested in our conversation. She might have found my questions simplistic and treated me accordingly. Who knows? Our heroes are often much more intimidating before we’ve met them. But I found Madison to be open, kind, interested in what I had to say, and welcoming in every way. When we hugged to say goodbye I knew it wasn’t a cursory way of saying goodbye, but an acknowledgment of her appreciation for me and I of her. It was just….

Hehehehe, ok I’m geeking out. I’ll give it a rest. But the point is: Madison Young is amazing. As a pornographer, an artist, and a human being, she makes me want to be a better person. Please check out her newest art show for Femina Potens as part of a queer community-building project (which you can donate to on Kickstarter) if you're in the Bay Area, or check out her writings and films online.

Oct 26, 2011

San Francisco Wrap-Up: Masquerotica

Last Saturday night I went to the first-ever Masquerotica soiree in San Francisco, the kinda-sorta replacement for the city's long-running Erotic Ball. Having never made it out to the Erotic Ball, I hoped Masquerotica--a costume-mandatory behemoth of a rager with nine stages of entertainment ranging from burlesque to go-go dancers in bubbles and leather to pole dancing to latex showcases-- would be a sexy and sophisticated replacement. San Francisco, after all, is the modern ethical hedonist's mecca for all things sexual. San Francisco is so liberal that I expected the entertainment and partygoers to maintain a sense of detached frostiness--a willingness to party, of course, but a recognition that in a city where big burly bears can walk blocks to a sex party in fairy outfits without being heckled, erotic parties can be a bit banal.

And to some degree I was right. The entertainment was nothing short of fabulous all evening. Some technical difficulties in lighting and sound were a tad annoying, and the space itself was far too large with the stages often much too spread out to get a good rager going. But the shows being put on, even if far apart, were really great. I particularly enjoyed the zombie strippers, performing shamblingly inside a large wire fence and beind handled by white coverall-wearing men. And Unkle Paul's Dark Kabaret showcased remarkable talents (I saw a guy blowing bubbles INSIDE other bubbles!! If I'd been on drugs my brain would have exploded) as well but also stunningly gorgeous latex and corsetry that wowed me. And the dance parties were all great--there were many. And I was right about the crowd being a bit "meh" for the most part. Because of the awkwardly oversized space in which it was held, it was almost impossible to get anyone together in a tight enough knot to get a serious energy buzz going, so the whole affair was rather laid-back.

But it was also unnervingly familiar. The thing about sex parties and sexy parties alike--and you're reading the ramblings of a seasoned pro at swing parties, erotic parties, porn star parties, and so on--is that, no matter how sophisticated the crowd, one element will never disappear. That element? It's not the super-hot fun. No, sadly, it's the creepy staring dude factor. No matter how cultured the clinetele, no matter how liberal the city, at every single party I've been to that has ever had an openly publicized sexual element to it, there has been a gaggle of gawking males standing around and ogling the women who pass by, sometimes following them around (at Masquerotica this was particularly apparent, since that often meant whoever was following me would be doing it for a half mile of corridors and dance floors), sometimes reaching out to try to touch, sometimes dancing too close, sometimes saying innapropriate or unwanted things... you get the idea. Basically, it seems that if you're selling tickets to the public (and often even if you're screening heavily or not allowing single men in at all) for an event that will bring out scantily clad women... you will get a creep factor of way higher than you want it to be.

Now let me make it perfectly clear that I'm not trying to be snotty. As a matter of fact, I've been to so many events where guys stare longer than necessary at me or other women that I hardly even notice it anymore. I've adoped an "I know I'm amazing, so it's only logical that you'd be struck dumb by my coolness" mentality at events like this. I notice the stares in my peripheral vision but usually just walk by. Unless someone accosts me, whatever. They can look all they want. But at Masquerotica I was with a dear friend who doesn't go to this type of party often, and she was unnerved by the dilated pupils, sweaty hands, and panting breath of many of the guys we walked by that night. I couldn't blame her. She'd gone in with the same expectation I had--that people at this party, in this city, would be a bit more inured to people being dressed up and beautiful, or at least more able to hide their astonishment when a pair of beautiful bouncing breasts covered only with pasties or latex walked by. But alas, we were both mistaken. Over the course of the night, we were approached by hyperventilating, handsy clowns; followed by tall men in masks for the length of the show floor; aggressively danced with by sweaty strangers we didn't want to dance with; and otherwise creeped upon. Ick.

I could try to go on some evolutionary-psychology-fueled rant about how men are visually oriented and are stimulated more by looks than women. I could apologize for asserting that guys like this are just creepy and I don't like them. But personally, while I wish this all hadn't happened and that the guys in question would just cool their jets a bit, I think the indictment for this behavior doesn't lie on men per se. But on the culture.

Even in San Francisco, it seems, our Puritan-rooted society hushes up sexuality to such a  stifling degree that, when faced with a sexual situation, people become slobbering stalker-y creepsters. So much of our basic desire to be able to be free with our bodies and comfortable with their sexual natures is so pent up for so long that when a party is offered that promises some small release... it turns into an explosion of awkward. We're not trained or prepared by normal life to be in a situation where there are beautiful bodies bouncing here and there in lingerie. We're used to hands-off environments--even in strip clubs you are not allowed to touch--and Masquerotica was hands-on (if you got permission). We're used to tamping down, shutting up, pretending not to be looking, pretending not to be interested, because we're told it's never appropriate. But what we end up with is not a culture of adults who can handle themselves around sexuality, but a culture full of people reverting to outright rudeness and middle-school behavior because there is no other context in which to get comfortable seeing nearly-naked people. Even in San Francisco, where nakedness and sex is a whole lot more out in the open than in most places, the fun of the evening was transformed for many into a chance to unleash the drooling thirteen-year-old who never grew up because he couldn't find enough free air to feel comfortable around open sexuality. It's a sad state of affairs.

I don't have a solution, but I do have a suggestion: talk, keep talking, write, keep writing, read, keep reading. Go to sexy parties. Open up. Learn how to be appropriate and mature. Sometimes the only way to do that is to be inappropriate and immature first: that's ok. Just know that sometimes you might not get the best reaction to that. But it's all about learning, owning yourself and your sexuality, and moving forward. So here's to Masquerotica! I'd go again in a heartbeat.

Oct 24, 2011

San Francisco Wrap-Up: Ultimate Surrender at Kink.com

Well, my lovelies, I have returned from the Wild West. I wouldn’t call myself a changed woman, necessarily, but I have seen things that I will never forget, learned a lot, and eaten one hell of a delicious burrito.

On Friday evening, October 21, I hied myself with all haste to the San Francisco Armory with a dear friend who is far less involved in the porn scene than myself, to witness the spectacular spectacle of Ultimate Surrender, Kink.com’s live telecast nude wrestling/domination/sex show. I’d read about Ultimate Surrender before, in several places ranging from Tracy Clark-Flory’s offering in Salon to interviews with some of the adult stars who double a wrestlers for Kink.com, and to be honest, I had no idea what to expect. It seemed bound to be enjoyable—I’ve always had a fondness for the staging and pageantry of WWE-style scripted wrestling, and with naked people and sex as part of the show… the fun would be doubled or perhaps trebled. But then again, this was live, unscripted, and featuring women forcibly shoving their fingers into each other’s vaginas and holding each other down to lick their clits. On the one hand, it could be fun—the competitors jus ttrying very hard to have sex with each other… first! But on the other hand, it could be kind of like watching… well… sexual violence as carnival fun. I was nervous, to say the least.

The match I saw was Ultimate Surrender’s first-ever tag team match, featuring 4 featherweight fighters. These women were all under 105 lbs. I found this in itself promising, not because it’s more fun to watch small people beat each other up, necessarily, but because I myself weigh in far short of 105 lbs, and people are forever telling me that I’m “so cute” because of my size. Personally, I think of myself as more of the “fearsome warrioress” type than the “awww, she’s so cute” type, so I was edified and feeling kind of validated that people my size would get to show their toughness to a live studio audience, and the entire world via the internet.

And then things got real. Really awesome. There are, I won’t deny it, many ways in which what I saw was hella un-PC, and in which it certainly brings up  legitimate questions about women’s bodies as commodities. The fighters earned points for face or neck licking and kissing, breast fondling, face sitting, breast smothering, pussy licking, fingering (external), and fingering (internal). Control was rewarded. Submission penalized. It was rough. It was straight-up violent. And sex was the ultimate goal. You don’t have to squint very hard to read a whole lot of patriarchal control and gender issues into it.

But you know what else? It was fun. Everyone in the room—audience, referees, and fighters—was having a blast. Team Yellow (Gia DiMarco and Lyla………) were grinning practically the entire time, even when getting smashed into the floor by their opponents, Team Blue (Emma Haize and Selena……..). Team Yellow were both long, lithe, and lean… and so wiry that Team Blue could scarcely pry them off each other’s backs. But Team Blue had Emma Haize. And Emma Haize is a CHAMP, people. This small but fierce powerhouse fought like a compact cannonball with a grim determination on her face that was kind of awesome. And yes, they were naked—they started out with bikinis but went immediately for the straps and stripped each other quickly—but it was refereshing to see women in a sexual context get to be strong, too. The beauty of the scene wasn’t just in watching Emma ride Gia’s face (although that was pretty nice), it was also in watching their grappling and straining. Whatever it was the Greeks saw long ago in naked male wrestling, it was legit. And boobs can only make things better.

And furthermore, this being Kink.com and people who opt to work for them being generally of the rough-and-tumble kinky sort, the women seemed to really enjoy being held down, dominated, and fucked by the other team. Orgasms put several brief stops to the fighting, and even though they struggled to keep their legs tightly closed, when they were forced open by the other team, most of the women didn’t object too strongly. The exception here may have been Selena…….. She seemed a little less than enthralled by the whole thing, and there were several times when her face contorted in a pained grimace that made me feel like a sexual predator for watching. But she fought hard, and appeared sometimes to be having a blast. Just not the entire time.

Team Blue eeked out a victory in a final round so intense that the crowd was left in a hysterical frenzy (by the by, this event is BYOB, a fact I wish I had known before I’d gone in totally sober, but those around me with beer and wine were having a fantastic time). After a short break during which the winners and losers negotiated the terms of the losers’ punishment, all four women came back out onto the mat with two of Kink.com’s most hardcore and seasoned fighters, Isis….. and ……., and gangbanged the two losers to great effect. Emma looked exhausted after having almost single-handedly won the match, but she destroyed any elasticity that may have remained in her opponents’ holes with almost as much relish as they received her tough love. Isis and …. Took turns fisting both Team Yellow members and parading them around the mat for the audience’s enjoyment, and it being International Fisting Day, the crowd went wild. In retrospect, I’m not sure the crowd or the fisters knew that it was International Fisting Day, but it was appropriate nonetheless. Both the losers ended their sessions with gushing, squirting orgasms and exhausted grins—in Ultimate Surrender, everybody wins.

When I walked out of the Armory later that evening, I had to admit to myself that despite any earlier reservations, I had just had an entirely enjoyable time, and so did everyone around me. I felt a bit strange, though—hadn’t I just witnessed a spectacle of sexual violence that might send all the wrong messages? But then I thought about Mel Brooks’s response to a reporter who asked him if mocking Hitler was really a good thing to do, given the seriousness of his crimes. I don’t remember his exact words and I don’t feel like looking them up, but Mel responded with something along the lines that it is the most serious crimes and the most terrible realities that need to be made fun of the most. If Hitler were alive to see himself being mocked in a musical comedy on Broadway and then in Hollywood, the laughter of the audience would have hurt him. Our serious, solemn, respectful discussion of his abominable crimes might have only pleased him. And so, in a way, while sexual violence is a horror that I can in no way condone or promote, I think that in a lot of ways things like Ultimate Surrender might be throwing that seriousness, that awfulness, into the light of the high-def cameras, making some fun of it, and ultimately letting women (who are all too often the victims of sexual violence) play with it in a safe and professional environment that the rest of us can watch and appreciate. Nobody here was being taken advantage of or harmed. Nobody was being victimized. Everybody was smiling, laughing, cheering, and enjoying sexuality with a  generous dollop of violence that we had consented to, and really, how much better does it get? That’s freedom right there. On International Fisting Day.

Oct 21, 2011

It's International Fisting Day! Let's Party!

I've discovered that today is (unofficially-officially) International Fisting Day. I discovered when Jiz Lee and Courtney Trouble told me about it. Seems there's a movement going on to, more or less, raise awareness about fisting as a legitimate intimate act. Seems there's a generally-held belief in this country that fisting is an extreme sex act that can't even be safely filmed without fear of obscenity charges, so most scenes where fisting takes placed are actually cut so you can't see what's going on.
This strikes me as about as close as we get in America to censorship. And I do not like that one little bit.
I, myself, don't know much about fisting on a personal level. I've never tried it, probably owing a lot to that misconception prevalent in society about how it's a "fringe" act. But I've seen some porn in which fisting happens (mostly off-screen, leaving only the general pumping motion of the arm and wide-eyed gasping facial expressions to clue me in), and I have never seen anyone who's doing it look sad or pained or unhappy. I've seen faces open into what can only be described as transcendent smiles and wide-open pleasure. I've seen women squirt. I've heard people scream in orgasm... In general, I've only ever seen good things.
But I've never tried it. And you know, now that I think about it, maybe it's not just this seemingly unfair prejudice against fisting that has stopped me. There's the logistical issue--I'm very very sensitive and small down there--but more than that, there's the syntactical issue. The word itself--fisting--brings to mind images of faces being punched. It's not that there's anything wrong with the idea of putting one's whole hand into someone else's orifice, at least not so far as I'm concerned, it's that the terminology applied to the act is so violent-sounding. So aggressive. Why not "handing" or "five fingering" or something slightly less heavyweight-champion-esque? If regular sex was called "face-smashing" I might be less inclined to try it, too.
But that's only the veneer, the very outer skin of the deliciously sweet fruit that I'm told by many adult performers and friends is the truth about fisting. And a rose, by any other name, would still feel fantastic. I don't know that I'll try to jumpstart my personal experience with fisting today, but I will talk to people about it and ask them about their experiences to find out more. There is no reason under the sun not to be open-minded about it, to discuss it and make it more generally understood. Nor is there any reason not to let it be shown on camera. But one step at a time, I suppose, is the way these things go.

Oct 20, 2011

Putting Flowers in My Hair as I Type

...not really. I don't have any flowers. But I am damn well going to get some when I get to San Francisco tonight, baby! This weekend is going to be absolutely packed to the gills with activity for me, between hanging with old friends, covering the Masquerotica ball, appearing as an extra(?) in a Kink.com shoot, and interviewing several adult industry luminaries, so I can't promise much in the way of updates until my return, folks. I do, however, plan to post on Fisting Day (tomorrow), so tune in for that!
Oh, but when I return, I shall be laden with video footage, photos, and awesome. Yes, full of awesome. I'm sitting at Newark Liberty Airport right now and I'm almost shaking with anticipation. I've been so excited all day that I got up before dawn ON MY OWN and have been tapping my feet impatiently all day. I better pass out on the plane or I'll be so exhausted when I arrive tonight that I won't be able to go out on the town. And that would be a travesty.
Anyway, check back over the weekend just in case I have a chance to post, and if that doesn't happen, check in next week because I will be posting pics and writeups and details and footage like it's my JOB. (Ok it IS my job. My life is amazing.)
In the meantime, check these out:
1) My interview of the international sex sensation Katsuni... in the back of a Lincoln SUV stretch limo... on the way to VIP service at Sapphire Gentlemen's Club in New York City. Guys, seriously. My life is amazing.
2) Katsuni is also amazing. And beautiful and talented and smart and... Aw, jeez. I'm kind of in love with her. Ok, a lot in love with her.
3) My review of The Fate of Love from writer/director Stormy Daniels, a couples porno that made me seriously question my moral fiber, but probably not in the way you're thinking.

Oct 19, 2011

The Unrwitten Rants of a Porn Reviewer, Volume 1

Things I haven’t said in reviews but which I got to thinking about while watching them:

1)      What is up with the constantly terrible sound editing, people? Most high-end porno movies have excellent, or at least well-planned, lighting. Some have elaborate sets, fancy costumes, character names, scripts… the whole nine. But the microphone work, sound mixing, editing, and production are more often than not bottom-of-the-barrel. I know most porn films aren’t working with gigantic budgets, but if you can afford the rest, how much extra will it cost to pay a sound technician? Common complaints? Vastly different volumes between “dialogue” and sex scenes—I don’t want to turn the volume way up to hear what they’re saying because it’s so quiet, only to have all my neighbors suddenly alerted to the fact that I’m watching porn when the action begins due to uneven sound levels! And in group sex scenes, it often appears that though there are at least two or three camera crews making the rounds of all the action, there is but one lonely stationary mic set up in the middle of the room, resulting in close-ups of one couple in which it sounds as if the noises they’re making are coming from a far-flung corner. It’s confusing and incredibly unprofessional.
2)      Another thing about group/orgy scenes. I personally enjoy them. They up the ante of sexiness without getting crazy in the shock value department, or so I like to think. But as far as I can tell, the point of a group scene is that there are more than two people in the room—it’s the whole vista of skin and sex, taken in at once, that gives it its zing, right? So why, then, are so many of these scenes simple back-and-forth shots from couple/threesome-to-couple/threesome? The whole room panorama is a rarity, often overshadowed by extreme closeups of one coital corner. Seems to me you could cut out one of the many camera crews and let one do more sweeping shots, install another microphone or two, and improve everything.
3)      Ladies, can we cool it a little with the over-acting? There’s a difference between making your pleasure in the little things known and screaming when someone touches your earlobe. If people think that all you need to elicit a wail of pleasure from a woman is a kiss on the wrist, they’ll be very disappointed someday.
4)      Also, why the tooth-sucking sound when people breathe in? You know what I mean? The “impassioned” hissing noise a lot of porn stars make during foreplay? Like, “Oh, yeah—hssssss­—right there—hsss—mm-hmm…”? I get that breathing heavily is a sign of arousal, so I understand how loud breath intakes like that make sense… to a point. But I’m not into serpentine porn, and when the performers I’m watching sound like a nest of vipers, I get too annoyed to be turned on.

That’s all for now… more to come…

Oct 17, 2011

The Pimp on 86th Street

Ok. I'm pretty sure that I will offend some people with this post. But I'm a little confused about how to feel about what I'm about to describe, and I do my best thinking when I'm writing. So please bear with me.

The other day I was walking down the street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, on my way for a much-needed leisurely stroll through Central Park. I was wearing a short sweater dress with tights and cowboy boots, my leather jacket, and a scarf. I was feeling very attractive, as far as it goes, and listening to my headphones and generally enjoying myself. The Upper East Side is a fairly conservative neighborhood where one most typically encounters rich older people the Caucasian persuasion, lots of joggers, families, and so on.

So when I got very publicly, yet quite tastefully (again, as far as it goes) by an older gentleman who looked for all the world like a very high-class pimp... I wasn't quite sure what to think. I'm still not. I may be jumping to very premature and highly politically incorrect conclusions about this man's profession, and it may be tasteless to some to say that his overt check-out was tasteful. But this is how I experienced it:

This gentleman came around the corner as I was walking past. He was older--I'd say mid- to late-fifties, wearing a shiny (not sure of the material, but it was woven, shiny cloth, not like satin or silk) cream-colored silk suit jacket with matching (but not as shiny) slacks, a perfectly matched pale cornflower blue shirt with a cream-colored tie and elegant golden tie pin, understated aviator sunglasses, and a cream-colored fedora with a blue band around it. He was wearing alligator-skin loafers and had a cornflower blue handkerchief in his breast pocket. He was carrying but not using a gold-knobbed cane that matched his outfit. And when I walked by, he stopped in his tracks, lowered his sunglasses just a bit, and watched me walk by. He looked me up and down, but not in a real head-nodding, exaggerated motion. More an appreciative once-over.

Now, this was a Sunday afternoon. It is possible that this gentleman was on his way to or from a very well-dressed and flashy uptown church service. Or on his way to a high-priced benefit gala at the Metropolitan Museum. Or any number of things. But if his outfit and demeanor and not-too-overt-but-still-noticeable look at my body said any one thing louder than all other options, that thing was: high class pimp.

Ok, so yes, I'm making sweeping generalizations based on outmoded stereotypes. But here's the crux of the matter. Whether he was a pimp or not, we're assuming he was... should I be flattered in some way? Angry? Should I feel demeaned because he looked at me like a piece of meat in cowboy boots, or kind of flattered that he did it so respectfully?

The inherent question here is: is it ever ok to get stared at on the street? Different women have different answers, and it's an ongoing topic of debate that I don't have an answer to. But knowing how to feel is even more problematic when the person doing the staring is possibly someone who makes money on selling women's bodies, which might be with their consent or might not be, and who is now staring at mine. In about as complimentary a way as it's possible to stare open-mouthed at a woman on the street. But still. Staring.

Hm. Ideas? Anybody? What do you think about this based-in-reality-but-still-hypothetical-because-we-don't-know-he-was-really-a-pimp situation?

Oct 14, 2011

The Buzz is All Justified!

This week keeps getting better! I wish I'd had more time for substantive posts, but your questions and suggestions are coming in way handy, and I'm super busy planning for my trip and etc. Newest news?

1) I'm going to be tracking down Jiz Lee for an interview for my art show. Oh man. I get all fluttery when I know I'm going to see them, and now I'm getting a whole bunch of their time just for ME? Swoon! What am I gonna WEAR?!

2) Plans have officially been announced for a big ol' porntastic event here in NYC the weekend of November 5, when Exxxotica will be on the East Coast for the yearly trade convention! We're teaming up with Amnesia and the indomitable Lola Bastinado of HedoOnline to throw a mega event. This is going to be a huge media circus, so if you're a blogger, journalist, writer, or just a fan or a gawker, or a performer who wants a shot at the red carpet, spread the word! We want mainstream media there to cover--Time Out, Daily News, Gawker, Fleshbot... all y'all! COME ONE, COME ALL!
3) Someone sent me this link and I can't stop laughing about the many good points it makes about what's considered appropriate for women being... umm... kind of ludicrous. Men Posed as Pin-Ups. Their kissy faces are kind of adorable, especially the bearded guy.
4) If you haven't watched or shared this trailer yet with a woman you love... do so. Miss Representation. It's easy to think that what we see every day about women in advertising and media is normal and expected, but when it's presented in such bald-faced terms, it really makes you think. Huge question: how do we make this better for those in the adult industry? Is this where the changes have to happen first? Or never? (Thank goodness for new queer porn!)
5) The picture on this particular iteration of this story says it all: here come a bunch of wealthy, out-of-touch white dudes in suits to legislate against women's rights to choose and/or receive important medical treatment based on a bunch of morality/religion-dredged moral hoo-hah. I am LIVID about this "Protect Life Act." Protect whose lives? How on earth did it become more important in the minds of the GOP to protect an unborn life than a life that has grown up already and is... duh... PAYING TAXES? And who the HELL do these guys think they are? These congressmen who think they have the right to legislate against my right to make healthy decisions about my own body and future? Oh, wait, I know--they're a bunch of privileged white men who will never, EVER have to go through a decision like this about their own bodies or live in fear that they may not be able to get necessary treatment for their condition just because somebody somewhere doesn't like it. They will never be faced with serious risks to their health because of pregnancy complications. They will never be burdened with a pregnancy as a result of date rape. They will never... ever... TRY to understand those who do. I just... GRRRR!!!

...and I'm done. So. Mad. But so excited! Wow, I think I need a drink.

Oct 11, 2011

OMG This is Gonna Be So Awesome!

F'realz you guys OMG I'm soooo excited right now! I can't give out details on all of thus juuuust yet, but be warned! The next month is going to be a cornucopia of crazy fun for me, and you--yes YOU--are invited to join me or read about it ALL!

First up: this weekend I'll finally be meeting the incomparably intelligent and incredibly attractive Katsuni when she performs here in NYC at Sapphire Gentleman's Club! I interviewed her for WHACK! a while ago and was blown away by her smarts, and now I'll finally get to see her lovely visage--and va-va-voom!--in person. I can't wait!!

Then: on October 20 I'll be flying to San Francisco for a whirlwind weekend that was originally just a visit to a friend's but has become a decadent, delicious series of sexy events!
1) On Thursday evening I'll attempt to attend an event at the amazing Madison Young's Femina Potens, the queer, sex-positive, utterly unique art space! Not sure if I"ll make it, because my flight doesn't land until pretty late that evening. But either way, Madison and I plan to get together for an interview sometime over the weekend! I've written for Madison's TheWomansPOV and have admired her spirit, creativity, and brazen sensuality for ages! Swoon!
2) On Friday, Oct. 21, I will attend a live shoot at Kink.com's SF Armory for Ultimate Surrender, with an old porno acquaintence. Exclusive pics and writeup to follow on WHACK! Despite all my polemic ranting... I have NEVER actually been on a live porn set before. Thank goodness that cherry is finally being popped!
3) On Saturday, Oct. 22, I will be attending the first ever Masquerotica ball, the new, costume-mandatory erotic Halloween-themed ball with NINE stages of frenzied fun. I'll be taking two WHACK! readers with me--whoever wins the award for coolest costume idea submitted by THIS SATURDAY AFTERNOON! Get in on that! E-mail me ideas at editorial@whackmagazine.com or leave 'em in the comments section!
4) Somewhere in amongst all this insanity in the Bay Area, I'll be attending my friend's hot tub prayer space. Yep. It's naked. That's all I know right now, but, um... I'm going.
5) I'll also be meeting up with the smart and sassy Lexi Love, the intriguing and introverted Vid Tuesday, and anyone else out there in the SF scene that I can get my grubby fingers on!
6) I'll be TRYING to fit in a reading with Sean Labrador Y Manzano for the Conversations at the Wartime Cafe anthology release reading series. No details for certain yet, but keep an eye out if you want to hear me read non-sex stuff. It's actually ok. I promise!

And THEN! The fun keeps coming!
1) Exxxotica NJ, one of the adult industry's biggest trade conventions, will hit Edison, NJ on November 4 and stay until the 6th! I'll be manning the WHACK! Magazine booth with my sleazy compatriots, and we would love to see you there! We'll be hosting several stars' signing tables, set up some ridiculously raunchy carnival-style games, and generally be causing mayhem all over the convention floor! Stop by!
2) That weekend we're planning a massive media event and party in the city at a top of the line NYC club, but we can't release details yet. Because it's going to be THAT amazing! Stay tuned!

As you can see, I'm a bit too excited right now to do anything except drool on myself. So why don't you go read about:
-Danny Wylde's latest contribution to Smitten Kitten, Porno Romance?
-International Fisting Day (which isn't exactly my area of expertise, but it's on October 21, right in the middle of my San Francisco trip... anything could happen!)?
-Occupy Wall Street condoms? Cause... hilarious!
-How right I was about Occupy Wall Street and the need for sex activism?
-Jiz Lee becoming art again at Pornsaints? I heart them!