Feb 23, 2012

An Idea I'm Putting Out There: is this how The Secret works?




I was talking to someone at my day job yesterday about an upcoming book we're publishing called something like "How to Attract Wealth with the Power of Your Mind" or some other ridiculous BS, and we got to talking about The Secret, and its attendant BS. But then, later that afternoon, I was perusing some links posted on Facebook by the indomitable Cindy Gallop about entrepreneurialism (btw, hardest word ever to spell) and spreading ideas to get what you want. And then later that evening I was watching the interview I did with Cindy for my art show (which, by the way, is moving right along--there are postcards bieng mailed out next week, the press release is up, and the brochure will be ready to go in two weeks). After that, I watched the interview I did with Sinnamon Love for the art show. Both of them are fascinating. And, looking back on all the others... so are they all. Really.

I'm not a big go-back-and-look-at-your-work type. Especially if my work includes my own voice or image being played back. (It gives me the creeps, and I can't possibly really sound like that!) But over the past few weeks, as I've been digging into the 20+ hours of video interviews I've done with people of all kinds about their relationships to and thoughts about pornography, I've been able to forget that I was in the room when they happened. I forget that I've heard all of this before. Because, really, you guys, these interviews are riveting. Every single one of them is so interesting that I end up with pages upon pages of notes, and the overwhelming desire to go do more of them.

I went pretty far overboard as it is. I interviewed around twenty people, and had myself interviewed, as well. I'm looking for around an hour of finished-product video footage for this art show. One hour out of over 20. I have about three weeks in which to do all of this editing. I couldn't possibly interview anyone else for the show. But I still want to. Sitting down with people in their homes and having long chats, often upward of an hour, about how they feel about porn and how it relates to their own sex lives... It's just SO interesting. Everyone has something new to say, some interesting anecdote or novel point of view. Everyone is an expert on this subject. It's fantastic.

I've been forcing myself not to keep asking more people for interviews. The ones I've got now are enough and I can't possibly handle any more footage. But this stuff is so, so interesting. It's so, so worth sharing with the world. I kind of want to put the full videos of the interviews out there for everyone to see someday. And I really want to keep doing these interviews.

So I'm trying something "Secret"-like. I'm going to put a thought out there and see where it goes. Right now this is just a tiny seed of a thought and one that's very undeveloped, so I'll let it float for a bit before I make a decision about whether to pursue it; what I'm looking for now is feedback and ideas on how this could work:

What if I were to do more interviews? Spend maybe the next year collecting them from anyone who wants to do them (within certain limits of course)? Then maybe put them all together somewhere, on a website, in a documentary, something like that? I think the information in them would be interesting to everyone and maybe useful to sociologists and other scientists. I think the general public would find them so, so interesting. I'm putting together a website right now that will hold my blog, links to other articles, some creative pieces I've done, etc... and maybe I'll create a page for viewing the full interviews I've got so far. Maybe that would be interesting to people, and from that I could get more feedback to determine where to go next.

But the point is--this art show has begotten some of the most interesting and important conversations I have ever had. They are fascinating. They are important. I don't think these interviews should necessarily stop here. There are so many more people I want to talk to that I didn't have enough time or the right location to talk to yet (some of you already know who you are) whose stories and ideas are just as interesting as those I've already talked to. This could be one hell of a project.

What do you think? Help me out here, folks.

Feb 17, 2012

A Cinekink 2012 Wrap-Up Part I


Well, dearest degenerates, Cinekink NYC 2012 has come and gone. Many have cum thinking about what they saw, and much debauchery has gone on at after-parties. The festival was, as before, a place for weirdos and pervs and sophisticates to come together, learn, and celebrate each other’s kinks and craziness. I was once again delighted to count myself among their number, and honored to be asked to do on-site interviews for the event this year. Video interviews are posted at Cinekink.com, featuring myself and many of the filmmakers who repped their films. Check it out, please! I think I did a rather excellent job.
Sadly, I didn’t see all the films at the festival this year, as I wasn’t able to make it to the opening gala or to some of the other screenings over the course of the week. However, I did see a boat load of them, and I, as always, have got some commentary to offer.
The winner of the Best Documentary Feature, Stage Brother, by Richard Buonagurio, was… well… it was weird but riveting. (Interviews will be up soon and I’ll link to it.) The real-life story of a young man who decides to become his sister’s manager on her journey to try to get into Playboy magazine, the film documented not only the baldly pseudo-incestuous relationship between a budding maybe-porn star and her doting brother, but also the havoc her career trajectory and narcissism wreaked upon the rest of the family. Tinged with sexual danger, rooted firmly in familial love, featuring WHACK! favorite Brittany Andrews (who served as a mentor to Jennifer), and spiked with fake-tan and melodrama, Stage Brother was Jersey Shore with an actual emotional connection. It was creepy and sometimes too-honest, but I couldn’t look away.
After Fall, Winter, the second in an ongoing series by Eric Schaeffer, was described as an S&M love story, but unfolded in on-location-in-Paris cinematic splendor as more of a troubled-kink primer on What Not to Do as a Kinkster. The acting was superb, the pacing mostly on par, the visuals lush… but the take-away message? While director/star Eric Schaeffer insisted in the Q&A that the film was kink-positive, I saw some problems in its Romeo & Juliet gone awry ending and its treatment of BDSM as merely an outlet for the negativity built up in both characters rather than a part of a healthy sexual experience. The film was absolutely beautiful, but I felt that it may have oversimplified its characters motivations for involvement in their kinks. But don’t let that minor indictment keep you away from this movie—it’s truly beautiful and well worth your own assessment.
SirwiƱakuy, by Amy Hesketh, an oddball modern take on an Aymara practice of “trail marriage” in which a bride is essentially kidnapped and “tested” by a prospective husband, was beautiful in a classic French film way—long silences, awkward moments, wan heroine and all. A truer S&M love story, along the same lines as Secretary, but with a much more artistic flair.
Sisterhood of the Sash was a shorter and obviously more female version of last year’s feature-length documentary on International Mr. Leather, Kink Crusaders. Sisterhood of the Sash, a reflection on the 25th annual Internation Miss Leather competition, was a beautiful, thoughtful, and lovely ode to the women of the leather community, who turned out in force to support it. The leather community never ceases to impress me—as far as kink communities go, this one has come together in a very real, very powerful, and very political way. Both IMsL 2011 herself, the indomitable and beautiful Sarah Vibes, and IMsBB (and Salacious Magazine editor in chief), kd, were there for the screening and to represent the leather family.
Cabaret Desire, Erika Lust’s most recent major release based on the idea of the Poetry Brothel (of which yours truly is a practicing whoreish member) was… Well, you all know or can very easily discover how much I love Cabaret Desire. The film is fun, sexy, and utterly appropriate for Cinekink, though seeing it on the big screen as opposed to my teeny tiny television at home was a bit of a revelation. For one thing, I hadn’t caught, on my tiny TV, that there is a vajazzled vagina in this movie. I don’t think the filmmaker was particularly thrilled about it, as it’s only indirectly shown in two small flashes, but, still. Vajazzling. You heard it here first. And, though I am a massive fan of Ms. Lust’s work as an erotic filmmaker and had advocated for the film’s legitimacy among members of the Poetry Brothel beforehand, I did realize during a few of the more wet-slapping-sound intense sex scenes that watching sex in a dark theater can be a bit weird.
The documentary (A)sexual, about the small but increasingly vocal group of people worldwide who identify as absolutely not interested in sex, was enthralling. It didn’t pretend to be a purely objective docu, as it followed closely the exploits of ­­­­­­­David Jay, the leader of the asexual movement, with all his eccentricities on unapologetic display. It didn’t take asexuality as a reality an more than it denied its existence as a sexual identity, and it showcased the problems inherent in such an identification. But it also, very adeptly and almost lovingly, addressed the importance of the right to self-identification in matters of sex. The haters who declared that asexuality was not real, the television commentators who demanded an explanation, the shaming attitude that sexual people tended to take and the apologetic stances that asexuals were forced to adopt in response… it all made me sit up and take note. What was going on here? If sex positive people like myself are forever complaining about the existence and prevalence of sexual shame—if we are concerned that sex is considered shameful by our culture, rather than beautiful—and if we thought that one way to escape this shame might be to renounce sex… well, then we were wrong. Apparently to have sex is shameful, but so is not to have sex. There is no way to win. This is perhaps even more problematic than I thought it was. There is no way to win, aside, of course, from having marital sex in the dark with the lights off in missionary position for the purposes of procreation. How depressing. And how important! Asexuals may be a largely unstudied minority, and who knows? Maybe they’re not even a real phenomenon as far as psychologists are concerned. But the issues they bring to light, and the community they provide for one another, is of the deepest cultural importance imaginable.
—Miss Lagsalot

Feb 15, 2012

FUCKSTYLES of the Queer and Famous

Up this week on WHACK! Magazine, my review of FUCKSTYLES, the newest amazing thing from Courtney Trouble and Tina Horn:

FUCKSTYLES of the Queer and Famous — “By the time [your brain’s] gotten comfortable, you’ve already taken your pants off!”
Directed by Courtney Trouble and Tina Horn
STYLISH FUCKERS Arabelle Raphael, Jiz Lee, Wolf Hudson, James Darling, Papi Coxxx, Jolene Parton, April Flroes, Sophia St. James, Maya Mayhem, Max Wellander, Varina Adams, Tobi Hill-Meyer
Queer porn is awesome. I know you all know how I feel about it, but I think I realized one of the main reasons why I feel that way as I watched Trouble Films’ newest release, Fuckstyles, which drops today (and yes, that is romantic). Not only is this movie filmed beautifully with lots of natural light and attention to detail and incredibly hot, juicy sex between partners so fucking into each other that sometimes they don’t want to open up for the camera at all, but also because this movie gets your brain and your boner going. I love it, and other porn like it, because you have to pay attention for at least a little while. There is no niche, no neat little category, that can tell you what’s going in any of the scenes here. This is not “tranny” porn or “lesbian” porn or “gay” porn or “straight” porn or any combo, really, of those easy compartments. Oh, no. In queer porn, there are no givens, and there are no niches. You can’t make assumptions about any person you see, because each person has their own distinct way of identifying, behaving, sucking, fucking, licking, and cumming, and many of them don’t match up directly with what you’d think when you see that person on the screen for the first time.
For instance, watching Maya Mayhem and Tobi Hill-Meyer go at it, it might take a few minutes of adjustment for many of us. They are both trans women who have not opted for bottom surgery, yet they use a strap-on when they go at it. Tobi wears it over her panties for about half the scene. This takes a few moment to process in your mind, before — whether you’re into what they’re doing or not — you have to admit that they are loving it and it’s pretty hot. And when April Flores goes solo with a large black dildo, there’s nothing typical about her masturbation — this one takes some time and some thought. Likewise, James Darling, a trans man, and Wolf Hudson, a biological man, go at it, by the time you’ve caught up with the bodies you’re dealing with, you’re far too deep into a searingly, sizzlingly, my-eyeballs-might-pop-out-of-my-head-if-I-don’t-touch-myself scene. It’s almost a trap: your brain has to get into the action and by the time it’s gotten comfortable, you’ve already taken your pants off without realizing it.
The point here is that you have to watch carefully for at least a little while to “figure out” what’s going on in many of these cases. Who is topping, who is bottoming, and whether this is working or not for you. (Certainly not everyone will enjoy a trans-man and cis-man scene any more than everyone will enjoy a scene with two femme lesbians, for instance.) But in queer porn, it’s harder to get an instant read than it is for a standard boy/girl scene from, say, Vivid. And that’s awesome because it makes you pay attention.
And that’s the beauty of it. Realizing that I had to focus on the people in queer porn made me realize one of the things that’s most disturbing about porn and often with the way we approach sex: we sometimes do treat people’s bodies like they’re a given. Like we know everything there is to know about the people we’re watching or fucking because they’re doing what we expect with bodies that are predictable. But in reality, it’s never a given. You can look at someone who identifies with their birth gender and every single societal norm dictating the expression of that gender and its attendant sexuality, but you cannot know anything about that person just from glancing at a box cover. We all have our secrets, our backgrounds, our fetishes, our own little tics that make us the interesting and sexy creatures we are, but in most porn those differences can get ironed out. We assume we already know everything we need to know about a person when we see whether they have a cock or not, and so on. But that’s ridiculous. We need to pay attention to everyone, not just queer people whose bodies and sex look different enough that we have to spend a little time thinking to come to a small understanding of who they are. But in queer porn, those differences and nuances are simply on display. They are not feared or squashed or shoved under any rug — they are flown high, like sails on the queer pirate ship, and they are fascinating and sexy because they are not just bodies. The bodies they have bring some of their stories with them, and they become interesting and much, much sexier because of that interest. I can’t get enough.
—Miss Lagsalot

Feb 13, 2012

Monday Funday Links-o-tron!

Good afternoon, all you beautiful people. It is my birthday (yes, please, lavish me with gifts and compliments and cupcakes and happy vibes!) and so I am not going to spend too much time doing anything that requires effort, like blogging. Instead, I am going to redirect you to some awesomeness. Behold:

1) The Cinekink film festival wrapped up yesterday after five days of fabulous filminess, with some of my favorite filmmakers (Courtney Trouble and Erika Lust) winning for their smutty offerings (Live Sex Show and Cabaret Desire, respectively). More to come soon with a writeup and picture orgy over at WHACK! Magazine, and you'll be able to watch all my live interviews with filmmmakers on the Cinekink website at the end of this month!

2) The San Francisco Bay Guardian published a sweet-ass story on queer porn's showing in Vegas for the AVN awards this year, with a so-sexy-it-hurts-in-a-good-way photos of Courtney, Dylan Ryan, and Billy Castro hitchiking nekkid. Hell. Yes. There were some issues with the journalist's representations of Jincey Lumpkin throughout, as you can see in the comments, but all things told this is a BIG victory for queer porn visibility. And boobs. Of course.  HAWT.
3) In more-serious-but-still-happy news: MTF transsexual porn performers are getting together and demanding more visibility and better treatment from their indusstry peers. I'd heard some rumors here and there, and read some press releases about how trans women were making a stink about being treated like second class citizens at the AVN awards this year, and that AVN had promised to do better in the future. AWESOME. And now there's this article in Salon, a major news source! I am so excited  to think that trans performers might be getting to a point of more acceptance in their community--after all, as Tracy Clark-Flory points out, TS porn is MASSIVELY popular and brings in millions for the adult industry, yet gets little attention or recognition because it's "taboo." I've always thought it's odd how TS women in the industry get shunted to the side, after all the hard work they do and the difficulties they face--shouldn't all of us here in the sticky-floored, taboo underworld be able to stand together as a community? It looks like we're starting to see that happen, and to get some allies outside the industry, too. Happy, happy day! 

Feb 11, 2012

Apexart and Lynsey G Present: Consent

I'm stealing this press release, but it's ok, because, ummmm IT'S MY SHOW!


Consent
curated by Lynsey G

March 21 - May 12, 2012

Opening Reception: Wednesday, March 21: 6-8 pm





By entering this exhibit, I consent to viewing and considering its content,thereby releasing the 
creators from all liability which may arise should I find myself unexpectedly offended, aroused, or 
embarrassed.
Have you ever opened up to anyone about your private relationship with pornography? Despite the 
common knowledge that the use of porn, particularly online, is nearly ubiquitous—according to 2010 
statistics compiled by OnlineMBA.com, 25% of search engine requests are for porn and over 28,000 
people are looking at online porn at any given second—few of us think or talk about it honestly. In the 
internet age, although porn is easier than ever to access, it is also easier to consume surreptitiously before 
"x-ing out" and deleting the web history. If the statistics are even close to correct, most of us are consenting 
cogs in the wheels of the porn industry's massive turnout, yet we often show a very different face to the 
public than the one we put on when we are alone with adult entertainment. The gap between our intimate 
moments and our public reactions to porn is rarely bridged with conversation or dialogue. Consent aims to 
close the gap between what we think about porn and what we say—to collapse the space between the 
"them" of the porn industry and the "us" of the consumer.

Lynsey G, a copywriter, reviewer, interviewer, columnist, and blogger writing for and about porn since
2007, has one foot in and one foot out of the adult entertainment industry. As something of a middle-man
between porn insiders and consumers, she has spent years talking, thinking, and writing about porn with
friends, foes, performers, directors, and everyone in between. Consent features video interviews with both
consumers of pornography and the people who make it, along with footage from dozens of adult films.
Exploring such topics as porn's relationship to body image, sexual behavior, addiction, performer and
consumer consent, piracy, sex as performance, personal and private identity, and more, Consent includes
interviews with several anonymous sources; performer and director Sinnamon Love; multiple AVN
Award–winning performer, artist, and author Oriana Small; performer and entrepreneur Nyomi Banxxx;
MakeLoveNotPorn.tv founder Cindy Gallop; artist, activist, writer, and performer Madison Young;
performer, director, and producer Mr. Marcus; performer, model, and activist April Flores; veteran
screenwriter Daniel Reilly; Fleshbot.com owner, writer, and sex educator Lux Alptraum; performer,
writer, and musician Danny Wylde; entrepreneur, director, and performer Kelly Shibari; and performer  
Natasha Star; and the show's curator, Lynsey G.
Image of Sinnamon Love courtesy of Vivid.com.

--Lynsey G

Lynsey G, sometimes known as Miss Lagsalot (and a few other, more ridiculous, pseudonyms), is a
writer, thinker, and porn critic operating in New York City. She splits her smutty scribblings between
DVD reviews, set copy, sex toy reviews, performer interviews, "sexpert" advice, think-y analysis and
criticism, and memoir-like musings in SFW publications like McSweeney's Internet Tendency,  
WHACK! Magazine, her blog conflicted eXXistence, The Whiskey Dregs literary journal, and The
New York Poetry Brothel, as well as a few NSFW outlets like Madison Young's TheWomansPOV
and some very "dirty" printed magazines.

Feb 10, 2012

Reflections from Cinekink 2012: Part One

It's that glorious time of year here in NYC when the Cinekink film festival returns to the Anthology Film Archives to entertain, educate, and bring oft-hidden communities of kinksters and the curious together. I'm loving it so far! I've been chosen as a juror to help select winners from this year's short film offerings, which has been tough already given the quality of many of the shorts, and I'll be interviewing directors this Saturday after the Bring It! porn marathon, which is, of course, the most anticipated part of the festival for horny little me.

In the meantime, however, a few observations that will probably all get some more attention later on, when I have a bit more time for reflection.

1) Vajazzling. Cinekink has brought me my first-ever sighting of an in-porn vajazzlement! What's hilarious about this, besides the fact that vajazzling is even a thing, is that the film in which it glitters is one I had already seen. At home, on my teeny tiny little television. I even reviewed it--positively, because it's really a great film. But on my teeny tiny little television at home, I didn't notice the jewels where pubic hair should be because, weirdly, the woman's pubic region is hardly shown at all from the front throughout her sex scene. When I was watching Cabaret Desire on the big screen on Wednesday, however, I caught a glimpse of some raised bumps in the pubes region and thought, "Either that's a vajazzle, or he's eating stone-ground mustard off her private parts right now, and I REALLY don't think he's doing that." Now, reader, please understand that I was very hungry when that thought occurred to me, but also that the color scheme of the sparkly lumps on her pelvis did in fact fit with the idea of mustard seeds, ok? I am a little crazy, but I'm not that crazy, all things told.
But ok, back to vajazzling. This is a trend that I thought had a small upstart kind of flame that went out very quickly, but there it was, in a film that I happen to know was filmed last summer. Now, it was filmed in Europe last summer, and we all know that Europe and America operate on different time lines vis-a-vis trends, but still, I was intrigued. I have no issue, really, with vajazzling. I mean, I love vulvas. And I love sparkly things. So all in all, it seems like a win-win, except for this little nagging, ultra-feminist, "But vulvas are beautiful all by themselves" voice that keeps squeaking at me from the back row. But I mean, why not get some sparkles put in down there for giggles, right?
But then it occurred to me that this actress actually did it for a porno she was starring in. I wonder if that was a giggle. Like, was she so amused by the fact that she was doing something as out-there as performing in a porno? Or was she worried about the lack of inherent glitter on her pubic area, and she wanted to fix that before anyone saw it up close? Or is vajazzling like a thing in the Spanish porn community? I have no way of knowing. But... weird.

2) Anyway, the word "vajazzling" got me thinking about the word "vagina," because I was sitting there in a dark movie theater listening to wet, "slap-slap-slap" noises as the film was playing and thinking, "The 'g' in 'vagina' is pronounced like a 'j' because there's an 'i' after it. So when the 'i' is taken away, it would be pronounced like a hard 'g.' So that means you must have to turn the 'g' into a 'j' in 'vajazzling' or else it'd sound all wrong, but then you're changing the whole root word. This is WAY too confusing!" And it is. The word "vagina" is a huge pain in just about every way. It's super unsexy, as Eve Ensler pointed out. It sounds very medical. It's not a pretty word to look at, and obviously, trying to play with it to make it more fun, a la vajazzling, makes it even weirder. Like, now there's jazz somehow incorporated into lady bits. Because otherwise it'd be "gazz" and then you're just talking about the angry purple-haired girl from Invader Zim. It's ridiculous.
But then, do we want to settle for "pussy"? That's so inappropriate for many contexts. Or there's always "vulva," which is more correct, actually, in many contexts. The inside is the vagina. The outside is the vulva. But "vulva" is even less attractive. It sounds like a lace doily on your great aunt's dining room table. Just. Ick. There's got to be a way around this. There's got to be a better term. Anyone?

3) Asexuality and shame. This is a huge topic and one that I will revisit shortly, hopefully with an interview with the director of the documentary (A)sexual, which screened at Cinekink last night. So I won't get into too much detail here. But here's the gist of it: in clips from television interviews with the founder of the asexual movement, sexual people lightly mocked and also shamed asexual people for identifying as asexual. Asexuality--the state of being uninterested in sex, and a budding identification for about 1% of the population who don't experience sexual attraction--was discussed in the same voice that homosexuality used to be. There were stories of unaccepting families, worried friends, intolerance, and shame. This was mystifying. In the Q&A session afterward, Angela Tucker, the director, said that she was surprised by the vitriolic response a lot of people had to "something that doesn't affect them at all." The same could be said for defenders of "traditional marriage" and other bigots who routinely shame people living sexual lifestyles they don't understand, but that's the thing. Being shamed for one's sexuality is terrible, but commonplace. One could assume, then, that people who renounce sexuality for a life without it would be free from the cycle of fear and shame that centers around sex in our culture, but (A)sexual proved that assumption to be false. It seems that nothing involving sex, or the lack thereof--no lifestyle, no identification, no practice, no lack of practice--can be right. There is shame in every corner. What the hell are we supposed  to do?
The answer, I think, was in the short film by Courtney Trouble and Tina Horn, What Makes Us Queer, which screened directly before (A)sexual: just fucking do what the hell you want and be open, loving, honest, and fearless. And just do it. If you're going to be shamed and castigated for your choices no matter what--just do what works for you.

And that's it for now, folks. Stay tuned! I'll be returning to Cinekink on Saturday for the smutty stuff!

Feb 7, 2012

Cinekink and Links! (And also, the MTA is awful.)

This morning has been a testament to the indignities that New York inflicts upon the people desperate and/or crazy enough to be determined to live here, come hell or high water. I spent about 20 awful minutes trapped in a subway car with an incredibly stinky person--and, readers, when I say "incredibly stinky," I really mean it; in New York I am exposed daily to numerous horrific smells, and this was about an eleven on a scale of putridness--before being stranded while trying to transfer to another train for another 15 minutes. When the train finally came, it was too crowded to fit onto, so I ended up walking 15 blocks to get to my dayjob.

Luckily, I love New York, and it was a warm, sunny morning. And also luckily, New York is awesome. Because, disgruntled and grumpy as I was by the Meteropolitan Transit Authority's absolute inability to operate according to its schedule, I still get to go to the Cinekink film festival from Wednesday-Saturday in the East Village this week, acting as a juror for the Kinky Film Festival's short films, and interviewing directors from all over the world. Because New York is amazing.

If you don't know about Cinekink, go to the link and find out more. It travels, so even if you're not in NYC you can catch the kink- and sex-positive awesomehood that is this super-fun film festival. It's one of the best experiences you'll have all year. I say that without any irony--I went last year and I'm SO psyched to be taking part in an official capacity this year that I'm slacking off many of my other duties just to do it. F'realz. Go.

Anyway, on to fun early-in-the-week links to peruse at your liesure (btw that should beproncounced "leh-zherr" like you're British because that's cooler)!

1) The rock star stuff: A fantastic interview in Richardson Magazine with the ever-awesome Jiz Lee, along with a whole lot jaw-droppingly sexy and powerful images of the genderqueer powerhouse!
2) The hilarious-yet-troubling stuff: Nightline did a short piece last week on James Deen. Sounds great, right? "OMG a popular male porn star on a network news show?! That's so great! Men in porn are getting more attention and porn is becoming less taboo!" That's what I wanted to think, too. But, true to form, prime time network television couldn't be progressive or even intelligent about this one. Apparently, according to Nightlime, James Deen's everyman appeal, charm, and sex positivity are "deeply disturbing" because, obviously, Deen is luring underage girls into watching porn. That's right, folks, this nefarious sin-monger is after your children! He'll make off with them in the night and... expose them to new sexual positions and pornography in which he kisses and respects his costars... which is... terrible?
Honestly, I'm annoyed by this bilge, but the way they cherry-picked the quotes for the interview to make him seem as ridiculous as possible (because, let's be real, I'm sure James Deen has got his dark secrets and what-not, but all things told, I don't think he's exactly the plotting, scheming, supervillain type, so they had to go for ridiculous over evil) is just so entertaining. And I'm not sure if the creators of this knee-slapping little segment are aware of this or not, but telling people on prime time that something is bad means more people will Google it. D'oh! Porn and sex-positivity: +1, sex-negativity and small-mindedness: 0.  
3) The absolutely fucking terrible: spoon-feeding semen to elementary students for a "taste test." Worst. Teacher. EVER. Holy CRAP. Let the fact that nobody had any idea this was happening for so long be a reminder that sexual predators are not always the monsters we want them to be. Not ever child molester wears a mustache and skeezy, too-tight pants and goes around gaping openly at children. They're part of our communities. That's why talking to kids about sex. their rights, and their bodies early is so important--so they can learn how to feel empowered enough to say no to weird shit like this. Ugh. This makes me want to go join some other class of animal altogether--amphibeans are looking pretty good right about now.
4) The redemption of humankind through positivity and sharing and porn--and Jiz Lee, again: They've put out a call for submissions to an open-ended "coming out about porn" project that you MUST get involved with if this story applies to you. If you work in or around the sex industry, particularly porn, Jiz is asking that you share your "coming out" story/stories with them. Personally I think this is the best idea anyone's had in a while: sharing stories of similar problems overcome is a surefire way to humanize the experiences and to bring people together. Sometimes the porn community is so dispersed and possessed of so many different types of people that it's hard to reach a consensus or feel a sense of community, but everyone who's worked in the sex industry has got some kind of story about how their friends/family/etc. "found out." They're funny, uplifting, heartbreaking, and ultimately SO human. Porn and sex work of all kinds needs as much humanization as it can get. Please, if you've got a story, submit.

5) Kind of sigh-worthy but still generally good: Susan G. Komen changed its mind about cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood after massive displays of outrage swept the country last week. This is awesome. Not because a bunch of fickle fucks at a bloated charity enterprise were brought back into touch with women's needs and how important listening to the people you serve is (although, yeah, that's great), but because its decision to stop donating to Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screenings brought out the sleeping dragon of Fucking With Women. Last year's Boehner-led assault on federal funding for Planned Parenthood was well-timed in that everyone was so busy worrying about Iraq, the economy, and so on that it met with resistance but still managed to pass. This year, though, when Susan G. Komen for the Cure tried to follow suit, Americans had had enough and vocalized as much--loudly. It's about time that the non-conservatives amongst us who value women's reproductive health all shouted about it at once. "What kind of fuckery is this?" we asked. "The kind we are SICK of taking." Go team!

Feb 5, 2012

My Porn Collection and What It Means to Me: or, porn titles are so lame

So I've been going through my stacks and stacks and stacks of porn DVDs. I haven't counted the pile-o-porn just yet, but I'm guessing it's holding at just over 200 all together, and I'm still waiting for the friends and colleagues to whom I've loaned out some of the better ones to return them to me, so that when my show at apexart opens on March 21, I will be in possession of nearly every porno DVD that's ever been mailed to me for review. I'm hoping the number will be somewhere in the vicinity of 300. As of a few weeks ago, before a few new additions came in, this is what the stack looked like (photo snapped on my phone):

C'est magnifique, no? Ah, how proud I am to own such classics as Sperm Sponges, Fuck Truck, Throat Yogurt, Fucked Up Handjobs #3, Chestnuts, and the classic Elastic Assholes #4! Such testaments to the human creative capacity! Such shining examples of the dignity of our 1st Amendment! It brings a tear to my eye.

...Ok, yes, I'm being facetious. As these DVDs have amassed themselves in my giant Rubbermaid trunk of smut over the years, it's been easy for me to forget about the bottom-of-the-barrel titles like Sperm Receptacles and the at least half-dozen iterations of Fresh Faces and other barely-legal bilge that I've been mailed. I tend to remember, and to actually review, the titles that stand out in some way. That seem to tell a story that might be interesting, or that have truly creative titles, or that simply don't seem to cater to the lowest common denominator of perversion.

But I'm not being all facetious about my pride at owning even these bargain-basement homages to our filthier nature, either. It really is a beautiful thing that our freedom of speech extends to such things as naming movies that highlight gaping assholes with absolutely no irony, much less a real need to mask what those movies are all about. Porn, though I often try to cloak it in higher-minded language, is filthy, and that's why it's so fucking important. I'm absolutely not a fan of being able to see the inside of an anal cavity lit up and focused upon by an HD camera--surprise! it's pink inside, just like everything else!--but it does give me this odd stomach-flip of grossed-out-ness and simultaneous joy that it's ok for people to distribute that material.

And furthermore, these movies--Buttworx, No Cum Dodging Allowed, Ass Stretchers POV, and the like--may not be on my top-ten lists for most important films ever made, and they may not be what I'll point to if I'm ever recommending my favorite stars' ouevre to a porn novice. But they are what make the world of porn go around. As much as I love to point people in the direction of some exceptional movies that my faves have made, or to fun/funny parodies, or to excellent scenes sizzling with chemistry, the reality for people who are making their livings on pornography is that you can't be so picky. Most days, you pack up your bags, head out to some house somewhere, do a scene with some specific act in it, and go home. That scene gets smooshed into a movie with a bunch of other scenes that are similar, packaged with a stupid title, and sent out to DVD warehouses... and sold separately online on VOD sites. You never see it, you never hear about it, you never get paid for it after that one day's paycheck. And if you don't just keep doing this, well... You don't last in the industry very long. So, much as I might not be a huge fan of Big Ol' Black Booties because it's not the most politically interesting, or the most progressive, or the most thoughtful porn film out there, I can't denigrate anyone involved in making it or pretend that it's not important in its own building-block kind of way.

Just a few thoughts to chew on before the Superbowl. I won't be watching--got an interview scheduled for my art show and plenty of other work-y things to do. Hope y'all have fun, and have a brew for me!

Feb 2, 2012

I Am SO Pissed Off

People. What the fuck. I'm having trouble articulating here. I'm an inchoate mass of seething rage. I really should just stay away from the news--it only ends in wrath. But maybe wrath is what we need. More people need to be as pissed off as I am right now, so that we can do something about this bullshit. And when I say "we," of course, I mean everyone who gives a shit about sexual education, screening, and healthcare for men and women and trans people and everyone else. So, most of us. As, you know, a species.

It's not so much that I'm pissed specifically at Komen for the Cure, which has withdrawn the funding it used to put toward breast cancer screenings for women at Planned Parenthood. I mean, yes, I'm really peeved at them for widening the gap that conservatives have been hysterically trying to open between "ok" healthcare for women (the stuff that married women of high moral standing and conservative Christian values need access to, like breast cancer treatment because breast cancer isn't their fault) and "dirty" healthcare for women with looser loins (STI screenings, access to effective birth control, PAP smears, and... dare I say it... sometimes abortions, which, of course, are the kinds of things needed by women who make the conscious decision to be "slutty" and who therefore deserve some kind of shaming or punishment, or something?). That is stupid, and I'm sick of hearing about abortion funding as if it's something that's negotiable or even half of what this whole debate should be about, which is providing people with access to healthcare they need in what is supposed to be the freest country in the world.

What is really, really pissing me off here is the creeping notion that certain proponents of Medievalism and backwards asshattery are spreading. The idea is that people, and particularly women, don't know what they want or need. Planned Parenthood has been in operation for decades and has become the nation's largest provider of sexual health services because people need it. People need it, and they go to it, and they use it. A lot. Every single person I know has either gone to a Planned Parenthood for screening or treatment, or knows someone who has. I got all my sexual healthcare from Planned Parenthood for the first six years of my adult life, -and to this day prefer the treatment I received there to any private practitioner's ministrations I've received since. I felt welcome there, un-judged, and supported. Millions of others have felt the same. We went there, and we go there, because we know what we need and Planned Parenthood is one of the few places where we can be sure to find it. We want and need to have some of control over our bodies, our sexual health, our futures, our lives, and yes, even the lives of our children. We do not deserve to be thrown to the wolves just because someone out there doesn't agree with our lives, and being infected with an STI, needing birth control to help us feel safe in pursuing our careers, being raped and needing access to Plan B... these things are not our fault any more than breast cancer is the fault of the millions of women who get it. There isn't fault here. There is human nature and the omnipresence of sex as a driving force in our health, welfare, and lives. We need to be able to control it, and we have the ability to control it. We need access to this ability. This is, in a country like ours, one of our fundamental rights, as the Supreme Court has ruled.

And yet there is this group of people who read select parts of the Bible like it's our legal code who want to tell us that we shouldn't have it because it doesn't fit in with what they consider moral--because 3% of the budget of Planned Parenthood goes to abortions. As if Planned Parenthood were devoting all its energies to butchering babies in back alleys, or as if it were running around on the streets promoting abortion as a cure-all for life's problems. As if we, the confused, look at Planned Parenthood and think, "Ah, sweet, sweet abortions! There's no such thing as the consequence of a bad decision, because I can get an abortion. Happy day!"

Holy crap. As if abortion is the kind of thing that people take lightly. As if it is a banner under which every human ill can be pasted. But Planned Parenthood, and its mission to provide adequate sexual healthcare to the masses of underserved Americans (those masses, let's be clear, have been getting bigger in recent years as healthcare costs skyrocket and unemployment grows), is there specifically to prevent these kinds of things from happening. By educating people about contraception and sexual health, by providing people with information and material help, it certainly prevents more abortions than it provides. It absolutely does. Along with the spread of STIs, the perpetuation of false infromation about sexual health, and the innumerable other ills that will come from the hushing-up of sex education and the shutting down of healthcare.

And I am sick to death of some deluded camp of weird, Puritanical, repressed, confused, and angry telling me otherwise. I am literally nauseous that there are women out there, like Handel at Komen for the Cure, who are ready and willing to take up the flag of these morons in the name of some fringe idea of moral rectitude that makes no sense in the real world. I want to pull out my hair when I see photos of women with sandwich-board signs picketing abortion clinics as if they were the living, breathing embodiments of The Madonna and the rest of us, just by being involved in getting treatment for sexual health concerns, are confused about our needs. I know what I need.

 This is not about abortion, or even about Planned Parenthood, or even about hypocrisy, it is about freedom and choice and my fucking right to do what I want to take care of myself. So who are you and why do you care if I take birth control or not? Who do you think you are that you can try to preach to me about the choices I make? And why the fuck do you think you can take those choices away from me?

I... have to go. Do something else. I am too angry this morning to make any good points. Thank god for blogs, or I'd be sitting here at my desk with steam coming out of my ears. This way, it comes out my fingers.