Aug 30, 2011

"But what about those who swing both ways? AC/DCs?"

I realize that in writing this I'm holing myself up quite solidly in my ivory tower, but I'm prepared to deal with that. This is, after all, my damn blog.

I've been waiting around to hear some responses to the new bisexual men study from Northwestern University before talking about it here because I find the news that--shock!--there might actually be men who are attracted to both sexes out there not particularly amazing. And I find it totally head-shake-worthy that scientists are just now getting around to taking a more legit look at the topic. So the whole thing left me kind of happy but annoyed at the same time. Like, "Really, guys? That's the best you can do in 2011?"

I guess it's a good thing that the subject is getting a good look, I'm reserving excitement over it. The discussion has been solidly centered, so far, around the term bisexual. Which is fine. There are lots of peeps out there who are totally bisexual, and like guys and girls as such, and awesome! Rad! But despite the numerous references to the Kinsey scale in most of the articles I've read about this study, lots of people are overlooked when you restrict the conversation to "bisexual." Especially for men in our mixed-up nation in which the gay/straight binary is hugely problematic if you wish to get into the far-more-seductive gray area, "bisexual" presents sexuality as a simple equation. Man + woman = straight. Man + man/woman = bisexual. Man + man = gay. But how boring is that? How unrevealing? Can't we go farther?

The study in question selected for men who self-identified as gay, straight, and bisexual, which is a bit limited to my way of thinking. From a scientific method standpoint I recognize that setting up control groups and measurable criteria for a study of fluid sexuality and gender expression and so on might not be the easiest thing to do. Science does, after all, like things to be easily quantifiable, and as the ongoing struggle for a definition for the term "queer" proves, taking sexuality at face value and giving it the dignity of an ability to fluctuate is a very difficult thing to grasp hold of linguistically, socially, and definition-wise. But this study looked at, according to Slate, "erectile arousal while watching videos of male and female same-sex intimacy" in men. The "bisexual" ones had to prove "sexual experiences with at least two people of each sex, in addition to a "a romantic relationship lasting at least three months with a person of each sex." Sure, easy to quantify and study. Got that part... 

But what about men who identify as queer, who have had relationships with trans people or genderqueer people who identify as neither? Do their partners not count? Are bisexual people, now that they exist (at least the men do--god knows what the scientific community will do with the idea of female sexuality; the existing track record is not oh-so-impressive), limited to identification only if they have been fortunate enough to find understanding partners of typically recognized genders and had sex with them? What about people who have trouble finding dates because they're "bi" and that can be tough to negotiate with a new partner? Are those people not bisexual?

It's not that I have answers to any of these questions, or that I think I have some solution to the gender binary assumption the study is imposing on its subjects. It's not that I know how to study these things less black-and-white-ly. But I feel it's important to vent my frustrations about a study that is ostensibly cracking open a door of legitimacy for a part of the population that has rarely seen the light of recognition before, yet which is imposing the same kind of biased, problematic thinking that forces these people into the dark locked closet in the first place. It's maybe a half step forward, I guess, after digging down deeper into the already-well-traveled path.

...anyway, anybody recognize that little quote I used for the title?

Aug 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene: A Great Excuse to Stay Home and Masturbate

Oh yeah. She's coming.
Well, that was insanely anticlimactic. Come on, Irene! You call that a storm?

But I know myself, and the moment I heard that Hurricane Irene was heading straight for my fair city, I prepared. I'm from the country originally, where rain and snow and power outages happen all the time and the idea of evacuation would be scoffed at. Just get some canned soup and candles and chill out, we'd say at home. So, yeah, I got my candles lined up, my flashlights ready to go, some Spaghetti-Os and bread, just in case. But I wasn't too impressed by the predictions of widespread devastation: we've heard it all before here in NYC and it never happens. But if they were gonna be pansies and shut down the power, I knew how to be sure the storm would be the climax they were talking about:

I put new batteries in all my sex toys, charged the rechargable ones, and had a fantastic night watching the rain and providing the storm with some very devastating climaxes. Irene likes it that way.

The morning after, I feel great, and the city is fine. Win-win!

Aug 25, 2011

Porn Star Pros or Pro Athletes

Go ahead. Tell me she doesn't work really hard for that body.
I did an interview with international modeling and adult video star Nina Mercedez for WHACK! Magazine this week, and I've been pondering a lot of the things we discussed. Nina, from the beginning to the end of the interview, was unfailingly professional. She is one of those business powerhouse people you meet every so often who succeeds at every thing she puts her mind to because she goes hard and never goes home. She has modeled for huge retail clothing chains, been featured in and on the covers of major fitness magazines, won the top awards for exotic dancing in America, won every major national and international nude body pageant (taking home Miss Nude Universe in 2003), nabbed several AVN nominations and one award, and recently started two of her own businesses. As she put it, "I’m either going to do it all the way or I’m not even going to bother"--words of wisdom, indeed, for someone in the world of pornography and nudity. This is a woman who does not fuck around.

I got to thinking about how so many women in the adult industry these days are like Nina, at least to a degree. Making a name and a career for oneself in the business today isn't just about being pretty and horny, it's about building a brand and WORKING it. And a lot of what goes into maintaining the business one makes for oneself is constant work. I think it's all too easy for most of us to dismiss the efforts of porn stars, sex workers, and models of all kinds, like Nina. For whatever reason, our culture often sees using sexuality and beauty as a "cop out," as an "easy" way of making money. And I suppose it certainly CAN be for some people. After all, when many of us not in the know hear something like "Miss Nude Universe," we think, "Ok, so she gets naked and struts around. What's so hard about that?" But when I asked her about it, Nina said:

When I say I won Miss Nude Universe, a lot of people say, “Well, what does that even mean?” But I worked all year long to win that award. You don’t understand how much work I had to put in to win that. It’s not like I just showed up and I had a stupid song and I won.

This made me start thinking: just because one's work involves working out and looking pretty, or working out, looking pretty, and having sex on camera... does that make one's work any less significant? It shouldn't. It might sound like a life of luxury for some of us to think of porn stars who spend their days eating healthy food, going to the gym, getting mani/pedis, tanning, and having lots of sex, but think about how that changes when one's livelihood depends upon it. Working out is no longer just a vanity project--it's part of your job. Getting your butthole bleached isn't just something wacky you do on a dare--it's an important part of maintaining your image. And while I hestitate to throw around the term "sexual athletes" because it's pretty hokey, the women at the top of the adult industry really are like a rare breed of thoroughbred racehorses. They can perform superhuman contortion acts in six-inch heels (as can strippers), perform sex acts most of us could never dream of while "opening up" for the camera and smiling, stand at signing booths at conventions for eight hours a day after partying all night, and never even smudge their makeup.

>When you really think about it, what's the big difference between a football player and a porn star? They both--at least the top-tier ones--spend most of their time working out and performing athletic feats. They're held to standards most of the population could never aspire to, they're constantly being tested for all kinds of stuff, they're in it to win it and take home the big bucks, the best ones get contracts with one company... I mean, you can't tell me that the arduous rituals most women in porn perform before their anal scenes are much less trying than the ridiculous lengths NFL players go through before a big game.

The only real difference here is how the rest of the world treats them. Professional athletes are emulated, given huge product endorsement deals, written about in every major publication, put onto posters for middle school kids, and have biographies written about them. But porn stars, who are doing the same thing as athletes--using their bodies to the utmost to make careers for themselves--get joked about, ridiculed, looked down upon, and preached at. Some of them get cameos in mainstream movies or TV shows, and that's about the extent of their "real life" credentials. But hell, I'd wager that the drug use and hard-partying habits of most professional athletes rival--if not surpass--those of most porn stars, and while more adult industry professionals go through cosmetic surgery and a few rounds of antibiotics for STIs in their time, the danger to one's physical well-being is much higher in most pro sports. Who ever heard of a torn ACL in porn? (Well, actually, I did. Sean Micheals. But that guy is a PRO among pros!)

Aug 23, 2011

If You're Going to San Francisco...

I'll be wearing flowers in my hair! I'm heading to San Francisco the weekend of October 20 to visit with all my favorite Bay Area peeps! If you're out there and you want to hang out, give me a shout!

misslagsalot@gmail.com

In the meantime, I'm totally exhausted and burned out this week... bear with me as I recuperate!

Aug 22, 2011

Danny Wylde: Probably the Most Articulate Artist and Porn Star You Know, Part II



The story [of This is Love] is, to put it lightly and succinctly, about sexual obsession. And it feels, to me, very, very real. While I’m totally impressed with your acting talent in some feature movies you’ve been in, I fail to believe that you are that good of an actor. Is this based on a real experience?

At face value, it's very much a work of fiction. In fact, the subject matter is heavily influenced by one of my favorite authors, Dennis Cooper. His characters often have these obsessive desires to know, or understand, their love/lust objects. And those desires take on a very physical/sexual/violent process. So while I've never been non-consensually violent with anyone, I can relate to some of that obsession – particularly in my youth.

As a teenager, I think emotions are amplified. It can feel like the end of the world to fall in love with someone and not be able to really understand them, or get to know them in the way you'd like. So things like death and suicide can seem like very romantic ways to express unattainability. 

These days, I'd say I'm less overwrought. But I still like the idea of belonging to someone, and that person belonging to me. I like to be able to obsess over them when appropriate. And I really like to know that person is completely into me. Obviously (or not), the sexual part of that is a big deal to me.

In your mind, what happens in between the scenes we get to see in this film?

I think the characters go to work, and watch movies, and read books and stuff. The details of their daily life is not that important. I mean, I guess my character might have to stay home every once in a while to physically heal. But I like to think the relationship exists in an otherwise conventional setting.

I think in its omissions and its rawness, this could classify as an art film. And I hear that you’re having trouble selling it through the usual internet channels because it’s pornographic. Do you think you’ll label your next film an “art” film to facilitate selling it?

I have been running into trouble given that it's both pornographic and violent. It seems you need to be either one thing or the other in order to find any real distribution, even on an indie scale.

Right now, I'm just exchanging the video for Amazon.com gift cards.

But I'm not entirely sure what I'll be doing in the future. One idea is to bypass the porn market and just start submitting these types of works to short film festivals. But I'd really like to give people access to them on the Internet.

Film festival audiences are very specific and my audience is already so small. If anyone's going to relate to this stuff, I need to allow access for more than just festival and film buffs.

And speaking of selling it… you’ve decided to go about releasing your film differently than the normal porn distribution channels. Is this a way to deflect piracy?

Yes, it's primarily to deflect piracy.

Do you think other performers could do the same thing with their independent material to protect it? Should they?

I think performers should do whatever they can to deflect piracy. I'm sure a lot of them have better avenues in which to distribute their product than I do. But maybe this could catch on. Who knows?

You’re an outspoken believer in fighting piracy and advocating for the adult industry. In these dire times of free online clips, Cal-OSHA’s interference, anti-porn activism… What do you think the industry can do stick up for itself?

I think the first step is just to speak up in general. Be conscious that you represent a very visible, but somewhat ostracized minority. If you like what you do and want to continue doing it, let people know you work a legitimate job and contribute something to society. You don't have to walk around with a sign attached to your forehead. But people are interested in porn stars, so there are plenty of outlets in which to deflect negative impressions and correct flat-out fallacies. Even if it the mainstream press seems to bury this stuff, the more of it out there, the better.

If you're really interested in sex work activism, there are a number of organizations you can become involved with like the Free Speech Coalition (FSC) and the Sex Workers Outreach Program (SWOP). 


How can it change to make the most of new technology and changes ideas of intellectual property?

Good question. I'm trying to figure this out too.

And yet, while you support the industry vocally and openly, you’re also very candid about your reservations about it: you blog about the fine line between empowerment and degradation and ask other performers about their experiences. It’s kind of surprising that your recalcitrance hasn’t gotten you more negative attention. How do you explain your popularity in the industry and with fans despite your conflicts?

Look, bad stuff goes on in this industry and it's not always a fun job. But I'm pretty sure this is the case with any line of work. Sometimes I get completely jaded and hate my fucking job. Other times, it's the best thing in the world.

My honesty in regards to how I feel about the industry is something I think people can relate to because it is so honest. And at the end of the day, it's not really about the industry, but about how I feel about my own life, how I treat other people, and how they treat each other. The context may be foreign, but the themes of my short stories are something most people can latch on to (I think).

No one can be positive all of the time. I think my audience understands that.

Ok, ok, enough with the long thinky questions. I read on your blog a revelation something similar to one I had on my own recent European vacation: the world isn’t all sex and porn. For us degenerates, it’s important to keep that in mind. So… Tell me something: when you come home at night and are finished with your performing, art films, and super-smart blogging… What do you do with yourself?

I like to read, I like to spend time with my girlfriend, and I like to play music. I actually have a two-man band that I started with fellow performer, Chad Alva. We put some demos up a couple months ago and are working on getting our live show together. It's called Children. You can find some rough demos here: http://www.soundcloud.com/childrenmusic

What have you been reading lately?

I'm reading a novel called 2666 by Roberto Bolano.

Listening to?

My girlfriend has been introducing me to a lot of electronic music lately. One of the better acts I've seen live is a dubstep DJ called Rusko. At home, I've been listening to more minimal techno like Richie Hawtin.
As for the stuff I've discovered on my own, the new Black Dahlia Murder album is frequenting my playlist, as is a short EP by a band called Light Asylum.

Watching?

I recently got back from a vacation, and have been actively staying away from my television. I watched half of a movie called Ex-Drummer the other night, and I plan to finish it soon. But I haven't been watching anything really.

The last show I was really into was Ancient Aliens.

If the porn industry totally collapsed tomorrow, what would you do to make a living? First gut-reaction answer.

I would start bugging my film school friends for any leads in the mainstream world. In all likelihood, I would be a production assistant on some low-budget, Hollywood movie.

What if you won $5 million on the same day that aliens landed and said they’d blow up the planet in two days: what would you do with the money?

Give it away and run into the forest? I don't know. It seems like not enough time to do anything really interesting with that kind of money.

Pop quiz: what movie is that question from?

I honestly have no idea. [Editorial note: It’s from Heathers.]

Ok, ok, I’m done. Any big movies coming our or projects you’re working on I can share with readers?

I'm about to start editing a movie directed by Lily LaBeau and Lou Charmelle that we shot in Ibiza.
There's a music video project that is in the works for my band, though that may take a few months to get off the ground.

I'm still performing in a bunch of pornos. I think there's some stuff coming out through Smitten Kitten sometime soon that was directed by Tristan Taormino. I have a feeling it turned out pretty well.
I also had a small sex role in the upcoming Star Wars XXX parody, which blows my mind in more than one way.

Check out Danny in his own words on his blog, Trve West Coast Fiction, and in his many movies, and his band, and his new film This is Love, and everything!

Aug 20, 2011

Danny Wylde: Probably the Most Articulate Artist and Porn Star You Know, Part I



Hi Danny! Thanks for taking some time to talk to me and my lil’ blog about your new film, This is Love! After my absolutely gushing review a few days ago (which I might be a tad embarrassed about but I’ll stand by), hopefully readers know who you are. But in case they don’t, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

First off, thank you for the review! It's always nice to hear people appreciate your work, no matter what the job. And given this project is a bit of a departure from what people normally associate me with, it's great to hear all the positive feedback. 

As far as what I can tell you about myself... Hopefully we'll get to a bit of that with the following questions/answers.

You are mainly a straight adult performer, but you’ve worked with a wide variety of companies on an even wider variety of movies, from the more “vanilla” (Wicked) to the “pretty out there” kink and gonzo companies. If vanilla were a 0 and Kink.com were a 10, where would you say your average performance falls on the kink scale?

To be honest, my typical performances are for pretty mainstream, vanilla companies. I don't want to knock these companies. In fact, I think they've given me the ability to perform in some pretty hot scenarios.

But if you're looking at an average Danny Wylde scene, I don't think you're going to find anything too extreme. If Kink.com is a 10, you're typically going to see me performing at a 5 or below.

That said, there's a decent amount of content where I'm at a full 10. You may just have to search for it.

Speaking of scales, in the world of big-time porno, you’re rather far out in the middle of the Kinsey scale. You’re openly bisexual in an industry that’s regularly called out for its homophobia. Is this a difficult line to walk?

Well, when I first started doing porn (nearly six years ago), I wasn't working full time at all. So I took the jobs that were available to me. Many of them came from the heavy S/M or gay sides of the industry.
It wasn't until about a year later that I learned of the stigma attached to crossover male talent (those who work on both the gay and straight sides of the industry). The way things have panned out, I've developed a stronger connection to the straight side of the industry. So as a business choice, I have decided to primarily work in straight porn. There have been a few instances over the years where I have continued to do bisexual work, but it's pretty rare these days.

In a perfect world where sexual orientation weren't so much of an issue, things might be different. But I have to be realistic. Performing in porn is my primary source of income. Paying my bills is a priority over making a political statement.

You perform with other men, but seem to have so far dodged the “crossover star” bullet that takes down a lot of male performers, especially after last year’s HIV scare. How do you manage to avoid the stigma the industry often places on men who perform with men and women?

Well, like I said before, you can find gay/bi content of mine. But the most recent video is probably over a year old at this point.

It's also something I don't tend to bring up around people who might take issue with it. By the simple fact that I'm performing in heterosexual porn, I think people tend to assume that I'm purely heterosexual. I haven't made enough of a splash in the gay world for anyone who's not actively looking to notice.


Personally I think it’s fantastic that you’re open about it. While the gay and straight porn industries are separate for practical (testing/condoms/etc) reasons, it seems a shame to me that while women are urged and paid to perform with other women, the larger social stigma of a man who digs other men gets applied so harshly in most porn. Why can’t we all just get along? What do you think?

Obviously, there are practical concerns, and they've been brought up more than enough times. Gay porn does not have a universalized testing protocol (though most productions require condom use), and according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), men who have sex with men bear a statistically higher risk of contracting HIV.

My issue with the straight porn industry is that crossover male talent have been singled out as the only “high risk” group for disseminating HIV among the talent pool. Those who participate in prostitution, intravenous drug use, and other “high risk” activity do not seem to be taken into consideration (albeit these activities are harder to prove). Crossover talent are held to the same standards as everyone else working in straight porn. And they are just as likely, or unlikely, to participate in “high risk” behavior off-set.

So when you really look at the issue, it seems that the stigma attached to male homosexuality in general trumps the concern over HIV transmission. Getting into why that stigma exists in the first place is a bit much to handle in the context of this interview.

All this talk about your sexuality and performances makes me think: you’re pretty damn young and yet you seem to have a very firm grasp of your own sexuality. How did you come to be so comfortable with yourself?

Hah. Thank you.

I guess all I have to say in response to this is that I'm twenty-five years old and have spent the majority of my adult life as a sex worker. Doing so has probably streamlined my ability to learn about my own sexuality and grow fairly comfortable with it. There's always room for evolution though.



Speaking of comfort with yourself, let’s talk about This is Love. I know you’ve read my review of it and so you know how impressed I was with the authenticity I felt it brought out of you. You’ve gotta be hella comfortable with a camera pointed at you to be able to look at it with eyes wide open and telling a story like that. You’ve gotta be hella comfortable to write, direct, and perform in your own movie. How and why did you decide to make This is Love?

Thank you again for the kind words.

“This is Love” is hopefully the first step in something that will continue (perhaps slowly) over time. I think what I'm trying to do is meld some of the themes I'm interested in artistically with the reality of my role as a pornographic performer.

In the case of “This is Love,” there's a few things going on here.

First, I think that examinations of male sexuality are lacking in US media, or else they're grossly over-simplified. I guess you could say the same thing in relation to women. But the fact is that representations of female sexuality are in your face all the time.

I'm highly aroused by women, but I don't find anything interesting about seeing another pair of tits in a film, or watching a woman get off (unless it's porn), or even seeing her degraded. If you watch a contemporary horror film, you almost expect to see a woman raped and brutalized. And it's generally an attempt to demonstrate the deflowering of innocence or some other trite shit.

The fact remains, however, that a great deal of contemporary audiences get off on degradation. It's in our films, television, and magazines all the time. But it's also in our desire to be seen in these forms of media. People jump at the chance to be humiliated on reality television. It's like a way to force someone's interest in your own life.

But I think that there's maybe something more innate going on. Like, why would you let someone beat you up in bed, or piss on you, or even seriously injure you in the name of love, or sex, or whatever? And why is it arousing?

I mean, I find it arousing to hit someone or piss on someone if I'm in the mood to fuck them, and to a lesser extent, let someone do that to me. In the context of a relationship, I think it actually makes me feel closer to that person, or more intimate. So I think there's something about it that relates to desire and/or being desired.
However, in mainstream American culture (I can't speak so much for other parts of the world), these types of acts – when sexualized – are often defined by gender. Simply put, men are aggressors and women just take it.

The idea of men as objects of degradation appeals to me because I don't think it's been explored much in contemporary society. To really deal with it as a subject matter, I think it has to be severed from any relationship with femdom, or even female sexuality in general. Because a lot of this pornography, and other media, that centers around female domination; it just continues to sexualize the woman. It's about putting her on a pedestal and worshiping her. The male experience is almost beside the point.

So I think it was very important for me to remove women from this film. I wanted the focus to be on the male experience. 

Stay tuned for part two of this super-awesome interview, to be posted on August 22! We'll discuss more thinky stuff--and also aliens! In the meantime, check out Danny and buy his film at his blo, Trve West Coast Fiction.

Aug 18, 2011

Sex Isn't All Porn, and We're Not All Porn Stars

A totally unimaginative cherry...
This from a guy on Jezebel's "How Guys Lost Their Virginity" article: "Losing my virginity was like watching the hottest porn ever, but instead of having roughly 40% success at imagining that the porn guy is me, I had 100% success at imagining that the porn guy is me."

I'm really happy to see a major feminist website like Jezebel taking guys' sexual experiences seriously, and I think it's fabulous that we're getting firsthand accounts of something that should be just as momentous for young men as for young women, but which is rarely presented from the male side of the coin. That's not done often enough. But the quote above makes me sigh really loud because it implies that guys aren't taking their OWN sexual experiences very seriously. I mean, yes, ok, so most people in America coming of age now probably see porn and experience sex that way before actually engaging in it themselves, but... Aaaah, porn is not normal sex! It's not! It's soooo different! Losing your virginity, unless it's actually FOR a porn film, is not like being in a porno! If it is, then you're basically handing over your own reality to some (probably) sleazy guy in LA who's following a script of rote repetition made to sell to the unwashed masses instead of even trying to have a real, honest, firsthand experience of a huge moment in your life.

On the one hand, I kind of love how entertainingly meta this idea is. This guy is owning his status as a child of the pseudo-reality generation for whom video games, pornography, and online interaction actually form a large part of lived experience, and that's actually fascinating. But living one's own life experience through the filter of what one has experienced in virtual reality seems to cross a certain line when it comes to sex, and certainly more so when it's one's first time having it. Sure, it's great to put yourself into someone else's shoes sometimes, but since when did "the porn guy" have a more authentic sexual experience than you? How do you think the woman he was with would have felt if she knew she was being looked at through the eyes of someone who can only contextualize sex in relation to porn?

I wonder if that guy's first time was well lit. If he and the girl both "opened up" for a nonexistent camera. If they did ten different positions. If he came on her face. If they followed the standard make-out/oral/oral/missionary/cowgirl/doggy/reverse cowgirl/popshot formula. If they used their imaginations at all. It's times like these that make me appreciate Cindy Gallop's MakeLoveNotPorn.com even more. All porn is sex, yes, but that doesn't mean all sex is porn.

Aug 16, 2011

This Is Love by Danny Wylde

Dudes. I just had my brain blown out the back of my head. I finally got my grubby paws on a copy of This is Love, a short art/porn/snuff/? film by Danny Wylde, one of my personal porn faves and a guy who's gotta be one of the coolest, smartest young men on the major porn scene in LA these days. It's a short art/porn film that's about... well... hard to say what it's about, really. But you've gotta see it.

I say all this in a tone of surprise, honestly. I think Danny Wylde is one of those types of people who's kind of a visionary and an artist without even really wanting to be, which makes me inherently trust his creative output. But I have to admit that when I saw the trailer for it:


...I kind of went, "Ummmm.... crap." Because, hey, look, I live in New York. I know hipster art films. And this gave me a strong East Williamsburg PBR kind of vibe. Then again, I'm a bit paranoid about hipsters cause I despise them so much and find their art so generally stupid, so maybe it doesn't breathe "I wear neon pink framed sunglasses and jeggings" quite as much as I thought it did, but suffice it to say I was apprehensive about the film.

But no more, friends. No more. This is Love is, I really hope, the first in a series of films from Danny that are absolutely and completely worth watching. Now.

It's a graphic and gritty depiction of the lengths sexual obsession makes us go, but it's also a heartbreaking portrait of what love, or a twisted idea of what love can and should be, can do. And it's... I really don't want to sound like a starstruck fangirl here, but it's really kind of incredible to watch Danny Wylde perform in it. In a tense, pared down scene he films for his lost lover, he masturbates and then shoots himself, his eyes glued to the camera--the stand-in for his love--the entire time. And it's intense. Because I know that Danny is acting--he's a better actor than ninety-nine percent of the field of porn performers but rarely gets to show it off--but it feels so deeply, deeply real. His eyes, his open-posed body, his desperate jerk-off motions... I guess the thing that's blowing me away is how vulnerable he is showing himself to be in this scene, which is obviously filmed and acted for a movie he's making but is using very real emotions. He's really felt these emotions and he's really showing them to us through a thin lens of fiction. Anyone who's ever been obsessed and depressed recognizes that face-slap, that look of unhealthy glee when he stares into his lover's face, that panting, breathless need. It's powerful subject matter, and it's a powerful depiction of it. It's brave to show that face to a camera and to the public.

And how crazy is that? No, really, think about it: when's the lat time you watched a film that could classify as porn (though I think This is Love is more art than porn, at leas as far as established film genres go) and really felt a connection with the male lead, whether it was gay, straight, queer, or anything in between? How many times in professionally made film in which a male character is shown in a sexual context do you get a feeling of authentic vulnerability and not a phoned-in version of it? Sure we have the occasional "uh-oh, he lost his hard-on" scene in a mainstream film where we get to see "male vulnerability" in effigy, but how often do the realities of the complexity of sex and sexual obsession get to be shown from a powerful emotional male perspective? Not many a' tall, friends.

Of course, Danny Wylde is not in any way a typical male performer, and that's worth bearing in mind when you're thinking about his performance in This is Love. He works for companies all over the spectrum from vanilla to kink, he openly admits to his bisexuality and films a lot of it; he caters to fans of all orientations and genders who follow him around in very lost-puppy fashion; he dominates and subs with ease; and he even records his experiences and thoughts in a very honest, very insightful, very well-written blog. He interviews other porn performers about their experiences with empowerment and degradation; he's an outspoken advocate of the porn industry while being openly critical of its shortcomings. He does these things with a quiet honesty that one doesn't often see in Hollywood, much less in porn. He more or less breaks every stereotype that the mainstream media and the porn establishment has set up for men in America, and yet he continues to work with some of Porn Valley's biggest names and hottest companies. And now he's making art-house/porn/snuff films that speak very clearly about the male experience of obsessive lust? Yes, PLEASE!

I very much want all of you to watch This is Love, but Danny is only releasing it through private sale via his website to avoid piracy--kind of a good idea, no? If you'd like to see it (and you probably do if you're an open-minded fan of artistic film), you have to contact him directly. I think you should, because it's a short film that will really make you think and feel slightly uncomfortable that you're turned on, and because you might get some personal attention from Danny, who, as you can see from my trying-really-hard-not-to-fawn fawning above, is so totally cool you definitely want to get to know him. It's only $10, and it's so worth it.

Aug 15, 2011

Behemoth

Well, if it's not a writer's duty to post videos of herself reading her writing, then I don't know what is. But... man, I really hate watching myself on video. And I hate to think other people might see it. But that's what video is FOR, and I DID record this video for the Poetry Brothel of New York as my character Fanny Firewater... I just... now that it's up all I can think of is what I should've done differently. Ain't it always the way... Ah well, next time will be different!

Anyway, it's a little sexy but mostly just poem-y. Enjoy!


Quartier Rouge: Behemoth by Lynsey G from Quartier Rouge on Vimeo.

Aug 11, 2011

Reflections on Going to the Gyno

I wonder what it's like to be a gynecologist. I'm sure the experience varies wildly depending on your type of practice, geographic location, specialization, and so on, but every time I go to visit my gynecologist I just can't help thinking that the job must be joyful and joyless at the same time. Joyless because there you are, consigned to look at female reproductive bits all day almost every day in the most sterile, clinical environment imaginable, which to me is kind of the opposite of when those bits are at their best. But then again, the knowledge that you are doing much good for many women by keeping them reproductively healthy and counseling them through the difficult terrain of womanhood must be a source of much pride, too.
I mean, as a woman who's knee deep in smut and butt-cheek deep in constantly thinking about sex, and also neck-deep in loving women, I find vulvas, vaginas, and all that goes along with them totally awesome and fascinating, but just like reviewing porn for years left me a little "meh" on actually watching it for personal pleasure, I can't imagine that looking at the least sexy possible version of those parts on exam table every day wouldn't put a bit of a dull pallor on your feelings about womanly goodies.
But then again, being an expert on some of the most mysterious parts of the human anatomy must be very empowering. Helping women navigate the numerous confusing twists and turns of having internal sex organs isn't just a job--it's a moral calling. There are few things in our world we know less about than how to understand the female body--I think we probably know more about the surface of the moon and the bottom of the Mariana Trench than we do, collectively, about why our bodies do what they do on a daily basis. "Does it look funny?" "Is it supposed to smell like that?" "Is that supposed to be this color?" "Is something wrong with me?" These are questions I find myself asking about my own body almost every day and having almost no way of answering on my own... and I know a LOT about human sexual anatomy, biology, evolution, and etc. I imagine for women with less research under their belts, the things going on under their underpants are even more confusing and sometimes terrifying.
Going to the gynecologist only once or twice a year for the most part, a lot of women end up sitting around worrying about their private parts for months at a time, and the visit itself ends up being less of a physical examination than a laundry list of anxieties and paranoias. Gynecologists are less MDs than therapists for a lot of us, and especially when the news isn't good, they're witnesses to, I'm sure, numerous spectacular emotional breakdowns, tears, and fears. They deal with the results of sexual trauma, lost and unwanted pregnancies, emotional dysfunctions, and countless other difficult-to-navigate areas of what goes into being a woman in this world. And all while smiling, nodding, and trying to make the speculum as comfortable as a device designed specifically to be uncomfortable can possibly be. The best of gynecologists can make a visit into a warm, rich, educational, and safe experience--a feat not to be underestimated, given that it's constituted of a nervous waiting room experience, embarrassing gown malfunctions, breast groping, and all sorts of unpleasant pokes, prods, and insertions. People lie to you, get embarrassed, blurt out things you don't need or want to hear, cry, giggle uncontrollably, over-prepare, under-hygiene themselves... God.
It's got to be a thankless job. I wonder if there's a National Gynecologist Appreciation Day. There damn well should be.
That being said, I just got back from mine. She's great. But I am SO going to take a shower and wrap myself up in a bathrobe and feel quietly, mildly, uncomfortable for the rest of the evening. Where'd I put my favorite tea cup?

Aug 8, 2011

The DP Debate: MMF Threesomes in Real Life


Dear Dr. Lags,

It seems that straight males feel that the sexual holy grail is having a threesome with two women. However, there are women out there who, while open to such a possibility, face a double-standard. If a gal asks entertaining two dudes at once, her male partner often refuses to allow another guy into bed to participate.

MFM and double penetration are common in porn, yet men gawk and scoff at male nudity in TV and film.

Where do you think this anxiety comes from? Could it have to do with male possessiveness and virility? Perhaps a phobia that it will affect their sexual identity?

Thanks for all you do.

Sincerely,
- DTDP

Dearest DTDP:

First of all, let me congratulate you on the best sign-off name in Dr. Lags, Sexpert history. I do believe that this may garner some friendly attention from my female readers; should you wish to extend your magnanimity in sexual “down to’s” to any of them, please send me your e-mail addy privately to dole out to the other DTDPs out there.

Moving on: wow, what a question. There are so many, many ways to come at this question (pun very much intended) that I’m a little uncertain how to begin or how long to ramble on about it. Let’s start with the most basic, shall we?

Male anxiety over masculinity. I’d like to say it’s plain and simple, but this subject is anything but those epithets. Male anxiety is as nuanced as the most neurotic weight-terrors brought on in women by pop culture images of rail-thin “beauties” that, no matter how often we’re told most men (and most women) prefer a gal with some padding on her frame, will never just go away. Just like women are trained through implicit and explicit reinforcement from early childhood that to be “feminine” is to be thin, polite, retiring, and unendingly beautiful, and so on and so forth, men are trained to value their sexual virility, dick size, aggression, and ability to maintain alpha status in any situation, especially sexual situations.

Watching porn may not always reinforce certain feminine ideals (many women in porn are highly vocal, aggressive, and alpha in sexual situations), the masculine ideal is upheld pretty rigorously in most mainstream straight porn. Men are virile to the nth degree, sporting boners that seem to need no encouragement to appear and remain hard for hours at a time. They maintain a stoic quietness throughout their scenes and are absolutely unthreatened by any other dicks and their attendant sizes because, after all, they have monstrous members. And they spend exactly zero time interacting with the other man or men in most group scenes—hardly even glancing around to compare dicks or speak to one another unless it’s to egg each other on—because they’re all perfectly contented with their status as hyper-masculine, monster-donged professionals. It looks like all fun and games.

But translate that into a real-life situation, minus the professional mantle, and suddenly questions of masculinity and virility come blazing into question. For seasoned performers who are accustomed to performing sex acts in front of cadres of near-strangers under hot lights and in difficult positions (see Evan Stone’s excellent recap of “How to Be a Male Porn Star” at the AEE convention in 2010), questions of masculinity aren’t much of an issue. But for the average guy who might think having a threesome with another guy could be fun, there are a lot of questions to ask that can only be answered if they go through with it: “What if my dick is smaller than the other guy’s?” “What if I can’t keep a hard-on as long as he can?” “What if I come way before he does and he just ends up fucking my girlfriend?” “What if he fucks her better than I do and I lose my alpha status?” “What if I like it a lot? Does that make me gay?” “What if I get super jealous and this ruins our relationship?”

These are all legitimate questions for any man who’s trying to uphold the masculine ideals set forth by the Powers That Be. It really, really, really sucks that these questions are so daunting for most men, but the truth is: they are. Just like far too many women are terrified of disrobing with a new partner with the lights on because they fear they won’t look good enough, far too many men are very concerned with questions of their own masculine credentials in the face of another man doing the deed with or around them. If only we could all just get over it and have fun with our bodies! And yet, while I totally want to batter down some of these anxieties, I can in no way presume to know how to do that. The pressure on men in this country at this time is incredibly high, as sexual dynamics and power plays between men and women continue to change in the post-sexual-revolution modern world, and many of these questions are truly unanswerable until put to the test. For most men, I think that even if a healthy level of curiosity exists about the MFM threesome, it’s a whole lot safer-feeling to just not put it to the test than to risk everything that seems to be on the line in an MFM situation.

That, it seems to me, is the real shame. As interviewee David S. told Rachel Rabbit White for her “Man Project” recently, “the culture shoves a version of sex down your throat that is just a poor, pale version of what is really possible.” It’s so true, especially for men who are taught to be sexually alpha or just goofy. Because the limits of what our culture has defined as masculine are incredibly rigid, it’s difficult for men to even consider that perhaps not matching up to their perception of adequate performance or virility in a sexual situation with another man could actually be a positive, eye-opening, horizon-expanding experience. Sadly, failure is a much broader category of possibilities for accepted male sexual performance than success.

Of course, I think it's only fair to mention that there's probably a strong evolutionary, biological component to this whole deal, as well. All the evidence (I'll name a few examples but you guys are responsible for looking up the details because I just don't have time to go into it: relatively large testicles in human males, highly aggressive male tendencies, the oft-overlooked male desire to have intercourse when he suspects his mate has been unfaithful, the female proclivity toward secretive extra-couple copulation, the female multi-orgasmic capability, etc.) all point to the fact that human females have evolved to be pretty damn promiscuous. A male wanting to pass on his DNA (we're talking biology here, not modern social male behavior) has to work at it to make sure his female counterpart is having his kids and not somebody else's, and as such, men have a pretty hair-like trigger when it comes to getting jealous of other men with their mates. Interestingly, however, men also have a pre-programmed (and admittedly still-controversial amongst scientists) tendency to desire sex with a woman more when he sees her with another man or suspects her of such. So while an MMF threesome might hit home in the horny department, it might also, if one is easy prey to one's biological nature, be a source of acute jealous rage. Some guys are more naturally jealous than others, and some won't know until they give it a shot just how jealous they can get. The key to figuring this out in a good way, I think, is to remember that one is not just the product of DNA and evolution; as highly evolved homo sapiens sapiens, we can control our base instincts pretty damn well. So why not give it a shot?

The only way to find one’s own boundaries and limits and put one’s curiosity into practice is to bite the bullet and do it! Which is what I encourage anyone who’s interested in finding out about their own limits and sexuality to do, of course. In a very, very safe setting with people you know and trust and feel extremely comfortable around, for whom embarrassment is not much of an issue. Because, let’s face it, embarrassment with an MFM, particularly a DP situation, is highly likely to occur. And the only way it can occur in a positive light is if everyone is willing to laugh and try again.

This is why, for most people attempting such high-faluting fornicating formations, I recommend bringing in a trusted friend rather than a stranger. This in itself is contentious, and understandably so. I’m sure what will work is different for every threeway, but I would venture to say that a friend is usually better than a stranger. Several reasons:

1)      STI status is much easier to find out, discuss, and negotiate with someone you know.
2)      It’s easier to laugh off humiliation/bad positioning/difficulties with someone you actually like than someone you just met and are still kind of trying to impress.
3)      Your lady friend will want to be with two people she really trusts.

Which brings me to my other point about why MFMs so rarely seem to happen outside of the hallowed halls of porn: it’s not so easy for women.

From what many porn star acquaintances tell me, DPs are great—if you are with the right people and willing to work very hard at it. Let’s be honest, while the option is open for anyone with a vagina and a butthole, positioning three people in such a way that two are penetrating the aforementioned holes is not exactly an easily accomplished feat, and can be very painful and embarrassing for the woman involved. The three people must be very comfortable with one another—this is a high-contact sport. So, while pulling in a stranger with all his tests up to date might seem like a better option for the “what if she likes him better” contingency plan, it seems to me far better to involve a guy you’re both really comfortable with already. There will probably be discomfort, laughter, fumbling, and much silliness, and why not share that with someone you like?

But it’s not just physical discomfort that discourages many women from pursuing their double-dick dream. There’s just as much of a possible stigma for women who engage in threesome play with two men as there is for the men involved: the slut stigma. While a woman group-sexing it up with another woman seems to be considered pretty acceptable by most, the idea of a woman getting it on with two men carries, unfortunately, very different connotations. Namely, slutitude. This hardly makes sense, and I’m sure there are many out there who would argue that this isn’t really true, but while an FFM threesome would probably place most women at a 5 on the Kinsey scale, a woman known to have DP’ed in an MFM threesome would probably be considered much closer to a 10 on the Slutty Scale. That’s just unfair: for women who love having sex with men, wanting more than one man in bed seems pretty natural, but there’s such a stigma attached to women who sleep with multiple male partners that it’s tough to get around. So, if you ask a friend to join you for your MFM adventure—a friend that both of you trust completely not to go around blabbing about his conquests if your lady cohort doesn’t want him to—your female companion will probably be much more relaxed and more likely to enjoy herself. Nobody wants her all anxious and clenching down on all her sphincters for this kind of action.

All that being said, my free-loving friend, I wish you the greatest of joys in this, your MMF journey. I encourage you to spread your open mind and willingness to work your wang to all you encounter. Maybe if more guys like you start being open about your willingness to play in the bedroom with other men—and be comfortable about it—you could start a new and very-much-appreciated new trend.

Also, give me your number.

Yours in DP ponderings,
Dr. Lags, Sexpert

Aug 6, 2011

Naomi Wolf Annoys Me Again

Oh, Naomi. We are gonna just keep doing this, aren’t we? Ah, well, why not? After all, every superhero needs a supervillain in order to really thrive. I’m not sure, in this situation, which one is which, but we’re surely diametrically opposed, and I know I’m super, so we may as well get some cool Spandex outfits and go for it.

Look, I kind of see what you’re saying about Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin as having legitimate claims to feminism as legitimate as anyone else. Far be it from me to try to take the name of feminism away from anyone. I totally agree with you that the feminist cause has largely been represented and championed by left-leaning thinkers since the 60’s, and as such is often thought of as a liberal-only cause. And this certainly alienates more conservative women who value things like marriage, family, militarism, and etc. And that, it’s true, is a real shame: feminism, as you say, is about personal choice and freedom, not just for the liberals amongst us but also for everyone: male, female, trans, and everyone else. Feminism is about all of us being equal and autonomous members of our society, whether tattooed queer punks from San Francisco or soccer moms from Iowa, and it’s in a way fabulous that more conservative women are taking up the word and cause in their particular way.

But the thing that pisses me off about conservative “feminists” like you, Naomi--and I say this because your line about finding Michelle Bachmann "slightly unhinged" is, I'm sure, true, but I can think of no-word for a knee-jerk reactionary anti-porn "feminist" like yourself that suits better than "conservative"--and particularly about Tea Party women in the national spotlight, is that the rhetoric they spout is not at its root about equality, freedom, and personal choice. It is about the superiority of certain choices and selected freedoms over others. Women should by all means be free to vocally not support abortion and contraception and relationship models if they don’t approve of these things for their own lives and situations. But feminism, at least as far as I understand it, is not a mantle to pick up and wave around and use as a blanket for prejudice and intolerance of other people’s decisions. Feminism is about respect for the values we share and equal respect for the differences amongst us. Bachmann and Palin and Wolf all argue their points from the position of a soapbox that looks down upon people who dissent or value different choices. They aim to tear down the legitimacy of other people’s opinions not because those opinions might be misinformed or generally counterproductive to the cause, but because they are different from their own, assumedly correct, ones.

I’m sure that it’s not as black and white as all that—I’m sure that these women would tell me that I’m not right about that. And maybe I’m not. But the impression that all three of these women make upon me as pertains to their ideas of feminism and womanhood more generally is one of an almost fascist view of what it should mean to be a feminist based entirely upon what they themselves see as the correct mode of life for women and, by extension, feminists. Mama Grizzlies with big families who value fossil fuel burning, monogamy, and guns are Palin’s "feminists.," and anyone who would dare raise a voice against them can't be part of their club. Heterosexual conservative firecrackers who don’t, apparently, need to be very up on their facts or education because of the strength of their personalities seem to be the "feminists" Bachmann is interested in. And Wolf? Well, her crew seems to be comprised of feminists willing to swallow everything she says hook, line, and sinker, up to and including that pornography is bad for all women and all people all the time and that feminism can be legitimately coopted  by anti-Muslim, anti-pornography, anti-abortion (ahem, anti-freedom-of-choice) totalitarians.

These women all seem much more inclined to react to other people’s ideas and actions with violent opposition, thus, as Wolf says, using powerful emotional rhetoric to gain momentum, than to spend time or effort considering their validity and attacking them on solid rational grounds. They say that personal freedom is important to them, that women should be allowed to make the choices they want to make, but seem to find it completely untrue that women might have real and legitimate reasons for making decisions different from their own. Freedom is only freedom if it allows for personal decision-making based on a variety of motivations, personal creeds, and often wildly disparate backgrounds. Yet Bachmann and Palin seem to want everyone to have their freedom to act in a specific set of preapproved ways. And if one steps out of line with these approved modes of behavior, then those with the freedom to do so will rip you down.

This seems to me very reminiscent of Jim Crow laws. Sure, you’re free to be different and that’s fine, but if you step out of line and try to actually use your freedom to act differently… Well, that’s not fine. But that’s not what feminism is about, and I don’t mean to sound like I’m just grabbing it up to hold over my own personal ideals. I hope to wave it around and point out the fact that different ideals about femininity, feminism, and freedom, can be acted out and respected on their own terms without all this finger-pointing and shouting and rallying people to one cause. Feminism is, or at least can be, big enough for us all to hold hands whether we get along or not, and that’s the beauty of the idea. Right? ...right?

Aug 5, 2011

Jealousy for Grown-Ups

I was discussing the ins and outs of sexual jealousy with a friend last week and have been pondering it since. An interesting article interviewing one of the authors of Sex at Dawn in Salon made me think about it even more, and I've realized that there's a strange paradox that seems to circle around the subject of sexual jealousy in American culture. Jealousy over our lovers' sex is possibly the only purely negative emotion we experience that we are virtually never told to "suck up," "get over," or "deal with." Whereas with other forms of jealousy (over material things or family love), most types of anger (aside, perhaps, from Denzel Washington style righteous anger), depression, anxiety, and so on, there are multitudes of ways in which we are encouraged to move forward, battle through, and learn to make the best of the situations that cause these feelings, we are never told to "get over" our jealousy. We tut-tut and headshake over rage-filled testosterone junkies, bend over backwards trying to rally the spirits of depressed people, and teach our children from a very young age that to be a grown-up they have to share their toys and time and space. But significant others? Share them? Absolutely not. Far from it--our entertainment and upbringing teach the exact opposite. We're not just allowing sexual jealousy to control us, we actually promote paranoia and misery by endorsing the idea that sexual exclusivity is tantamount to happiness, while any transgression equals a perfectly acceptable excuse to go completely apeshit.

Think about it. How many romantic comedies are there in this world that pivot around the central idea of jealousy? How many girlfriends and boyfriends in film and TV are so insanely jealous of their significant others that they spy on them, invade their privacy, and drive themselves literally insane with fear over what might be happening, meanwhile turning themselves into anxiety-ridden lunatics and sometimes criminals? There are lots. And how many characters in film and TV really go whole hog and turn into criminals with violent pasts over sexual jealousy? Plenty. And how many people in REAL LIFE do these same things? Way too many.

Why is it that this one emotion, based on centuries of repressive thinking, which is based largely on misogynistic ideas about sexual and reproductive ownership, still rules us so firmly? Is it because, given that as adults we're expected to rein in our other explosive negative emotions to a certain degree, we covet and protect this one outlet we still have for our irrational, childish selfishness? I kind of think it is. I mean, hell, I'm not one to argue on behalf of emotional temperance. I've got one gob-smacking doozie of a bad temper on me. I'm incredibly impatient and throw tantrums in my head every time the subway is late or I sit in traffic for more than ten minutes. I'm prone to crying when I'm frustrated. I'm no model citizen when it comes to acting like a grown-up. But you know what? I try my damndest to keep control of my negative, destructive feelings, because I'm an adult and I recognize that these feelings are destructive. And make no mistake about it: sexual jealousy might be one of the most destructive forces on the planet. But because it comes riding in under the banners of much-prized ideals like love, fidelity, propriety, and monogamy, it gets to tromp around all over our hearts and gives us an excuse to behave like big, sexually-active children instead of the emotionally mature people we're supposed to be in every other area of our lives. Because the transgressor in most sexual jealousy situations is always seen to be in the wrong by the greater society, the one making a huge deal out of an outside dalliance gets a free pass to throw a hissy fit and wallow in his or her own misery in a completely childish way. It's kind of gross.

I'm not saying everyone acts like a baby about sexual jealousy, but I am saying that the overwhelming majority of our cultural indicators point toward sexual jealousy being the last holdout of violent, all-consuming negative emotion in adults, and that's silly. But I want to make it clear that I'm not saying that we should all "move past" our jealousy, either. I think it's pretty natural for most of us to feel it--we might be grown-ups and know that it's polite to share our cake at our birthday parties now, but that doesn't mean we don't WANT to keep all the cake for ourselves. Just like our evolution made us likely to hoard food and money and other resources, there's a certain, probably inborn, tendency in us to hoard our sex partners, too. We want to keep them all to ourselves sometimes, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that. It's just that, like every other negative emotion, jealousy can be dealt with instead of wallowed in. When I find out that one of my partners dallied with someone else, I get jealous every single time. And it hurts, man. It really does. It's tough. I get all morose and thinky and grumpy and internally criticize everything the partner does for a day or two. But you know what? It goes away after a while. It doesn't magically disappear, but when I work on remembering that my partner being with another person in a responsible way is far from the worst thing that could ever happen, and is in fact way better than MOST things that could happen, it hurts less. And after a while, it becomes almost a matter of pride for me to be able to work through my dark days and be happy for my partners because they did something they enjoyed. Isn't that what being a grown-up is supposed to be about?

Aug 3, 2011

Paging the Not-Doctor

Guys, it's been MONTHS since I did a Dr. Lags, Sexpert column! WTF! What have I been DOING with myself? Well, ok, we all know what I've been doing: ranting and raving about other things. But it's time for me to get a little less spleen-y and more helpful! Anyone out there got a question they'd like the wise Not-Doctor Lags to field for them? A sex question? A relationship issue? A random existential meaning-of-life kind of pondering? Whatever you've got, throw it at me! Let's INTERACT!

Leave questions in the comments section, Tweet 'em to me at @misslagsalot, or e-mail me at misslagsalot@gmail.com. Pleeeease!

Aug 1, 2011

Weddings Make Me Go "Huh"

Weddings always get me thinking, and summer is always jam-packed with weddings when you’re in your twenties and early thirties. You see your friends and family all happily pairing off in the trappings of tradition, doing silly things like tossing bouquets and garters… and the Electric Slide… ugh… And you find yourself whispering under your breath, “Don’t fuck this up, guys. Good luck!”

Maybe that’s just me. But suffice it to say, I’m not thirty yet and I’ve already been to several second weddings, a few weddings I knew damn well shouldn’t really be happening, and a few weddings that were just confusing. It’s not that I have a problem with weddings. Far from it—I totally and completely support the rights and choices of other people to declare their companionship in whatever way they choose, especially if it makes them happy to do so. And weddings are fantastic ways of announcing the noble intentions of a couple to be partners, lovers, and supporters of one another. Weddings make the families of the nuptial pair happy. They provide a great excuse for excessive eating and drinking. And it’s so lovely to see the bride all dolled up and the groom looking spiffier than usual. They’re great fun.

But they often leave me scratching my head. What, I can’t help asking myself, is the point of all the rigmarole, really? In this day and age (I love using that term—it makes me sound way old and wise), is a wedding really anything more than an elaborate ritual? Isn’t it just a good luck charm on an already-established relationship in most cases? Again, nothing against good-luck rituals. Hell, why not? But I watch the bride tossing a bouquet over her shoulder, the tears that the lucky catcher or unlucky un-catcher sometimes shed, the “something borrowed, something blue” trope that nobody can explain, the white gown that becomes the centerpiece for the entire affair even though there’s no real reason it’s not a blue or red dress… And I just go, “Huh.” Here we all are, dressed up to the nines and waiting patiently for the bar to open, often having traveled long distances and spent huge wads of cash on some ridiculous set of cutlery you know the couple will only use when you come over for dinner, to watch people behave in elaborately codified rituals that mean next to nothing. And it’s really fun and it’s fabulous if those rituals make everyone happy. But, still… huh.

I say, why not have un-weddings? I have no intention of putting a ring on it and I’m happy as can be! Would it be disrespectful to, like Sam Jones in Sex and the City (which had its many faults but also some really good ideas, I think), have an “I’m Not Getting Married” party, buy myself a fabulous dress that’s not white, and get everyone drunk on my tab? Would it be ok to throw a joint “We’re Not Married” party with one or both of my partners and invite all our friends and family to witness our vows of love and respect without putting rings on each other’s fingers that, to me, would only symbolize outdated notions of ownership and exclusivity?

…am I just too bored at weddings to appreciate how pretty the bride looks and enjoy the free hooch?  …that might be it.