Jul 28, 2011

Farewell, Vibrator Diaries

As you may have noticed if you read this blog regularly (I hope you do!), I might not have been entirely serious about my quest for the perfect vibrator a while back. I may have… kind of… abandoned that little project.

See, sometimes I drink WAY too much coffee and start fixating on things. You  may have noticed this in some of my incredibly long-winded rants about relatively small topics. Ahem. I go a bit overboard sometimes. Caffeine can be a real bitch. The Vibrator Diaries was definitely a coffee-bean fueled descent into a project I had neither time nor energy for, but which I became fervently devoted to for about a week. It was also a feeble attempt on my part to get free sex toys from as many places as possible, which isn’t a bad idea, but it’s… a bit superfluous. I get free sex toys aplenty for my reviews at WHACK! Magazine, and though they’re not pouring in from all sides, nobody really NEEDS that many toys.

At my last count I was in possession of seven vibrators (two of which don’t work, but still), two butt plugs, one rotating doohickey, a whole slew of dildos that attach to said doohickey, and a set of ben wa balls that I still haven’t reviewed after having owned them for months. I in no way need more toys, or more reviews to write about the ones I already have. I’ll make do with these until the right one comes along! It’s a tough life, I know.

And anyway, there are so many great reviews all over the web that what does anybody need my lil' ol' blog for? I'm better at ranting, anyway.

So, to put it succinctly: Farewell, Vibrator Diaries. We hardly knew ye.

Jul 27, 2011

Big-Time Announcement About My Big-Time Art Show!

Big  news, my dearies! Remember that post I wrote a while back about porn is and is not art at the same time? Well I wasn’t just examining the nature of art for fun… although really it is a fascinating subject. No, I was brainstorming. For what? Well, folks,yours truly has been asked to curate an art exhibit in TriBeCa, NYC, next March-May… on the subject of “video sex”! Am I the bomb or what, folks? I won’t give away too many deets just yet, as I’ve still to sign the contract and settle on a specific set of ideas, but check out apexart.com for more information on the space, and check out… well the rest of my writing on the internet… for info on me!

Right now my major thoughts are focusing on the difference between how we all perceive our own personal experiences with pornography and how we exhibit our ideas and feelings about those experiences to the rest of the world. To my way of thinking, for many of us on both the consumer side and the production side of video sex, there is a gulf between what we show to the world as our “public face” about porn—we laugh it off, make fun of it, denigrate it, overthink it, pretend we don’t use it, get all vehemently against it, love it too much, modify our bodies or behaviors to fit into what we see in porn, hate porn stars for their bodies… The list of ways in which we behave toward porn in public conversation is almost neverending. But it is not nearly as nuanced or interesting, I think, as the real, unfiltered, unchecked response that we have privately to this material. The interaction that goes on between us and our TVs or computer screens or romance novels or what have you, the stuff we don’t talk about that happens in our hearts and minds when we encounter porn… That’s the good stuff. Not the masturbation—that’s boring. The thoughts and feelings and ways in which we reconcile the ones we don’t like with the ideals we hold. The ways we ignore or fixate on those things we hate and let ourselves be bared completely, physically and emotionally, to what we DO like. And even more interesting than these private thoughts and experiences or the outward displays we show each other is the space between. If we can assume that people’s public faces with regard to filmed sex, whether we take a positive or negative or somewhere-between stance, are held an arm’s length away from the real experiences we have with pornography when we’re alone in our intimate spaces…. Then what happens between point A and point B? How do we get to point B at all?

I want to examine this idea. I want this to become art. I’ll keep you all updated!

Jul 25, 2011

Linkyamory: This is Serious

A very worthwhile call for essays over at QLit: Rejecting the Bedroom: Sex and Sexuality as a Site of Queer Resistance and Space. Anyone with a bent toward queer theory should get up in this biz! The question being asked is totally fascinating: how can queer people make the bedroom not the only place in which it is safe to "be" queer? And how can they "queer" the bedroom on their own terms? I can't wait to read the answers people come up with to these questions.

It raises all sorts of questions about how much the sex we have identifies/shapes/distinguishes us and how we make that sex part of ourselves as a meaningful contribution to the lives we want to lead. And it's an important question, particularly right now, as same-sex marriages start up in the wonderfully accepting city of New York. There have been many articles and many photos from this past weekend, when the first same-sex marriages were performed here in the city (on a lottery system to avoid overcrowding, which is kind of funny and kind of annoying all at once), but this photo set by the Washington Post almost made me cry. You'll see why.

This website, however, DID make me cry. The struggle to discover and claim a space in which to be oneself, whether queer or anything else, is one that is so vitally important, and yet in so many places it is forced into a position secondary to the struggle to simply exist. These are the people who get left out of important discussions like the one QLit is opening, not because the issue is unimportant but because the marginalized and forgotten are busy trying to make their very existence a reality, in their own lives and in the minds of others. The struggle for queer recognition and space is the same struggle as the fight for awareness of native people everywhere, but nowhere more so than in this country, where we are so fascinated by the exotic and the "authentic" but forget about the promises we've broken to our own people. Please visit HonorTheTreaties.org and spread the word. Educate others. If you live in America and don't know about the Laramie treaties or the Supreme Court Ruling about the Black Hills or the fact that the war against the Lakota was the only war in which America negotiated for peace by conceding every demand made by the enemy... You SHOULD.

We who espouse the ideology that we can all get along if we are willing to listen to one another must remember that even the voices that are often unheard are the ones we must endeavor most to heed.

Jul 23, 2011

An Ode to Xena

I don't have time to watch much in the way of TV these days, but I have a friend who recently discovered Xena: Warrior Princess and fell completely in love. She bough herself seasons 1 and 2 on DVD, but when someone gave her the entire series box set, she sent me season 1, confident I would love it. I remember watching a few episodes in high school, and one of my best friends was absolutely obsessed with it, but I was lukewarm. It was fun, definitely entertaining, but totally ridiculous. I took myself pretty seriously back in those days.

So lately I've been playing Xena in the background while writing and doing all manner of work. And it's pretty easy to have on and not pay attention to, if you're busy. But a few weekends ago I was very sick and couldn't do any work, so I laid on the couch and watched episode, after episode, after episode. And you know, I kind of fell in love.

Not only is Lucy Lawless completely stunning, and the lack of continuity in accents and historical time period and general... everything... endearing, and the sexual tension between Xena and Gabrielle way fun to ogle at... But Xena: Warrior Princess is awesome in another, more important, way, too. See, the thing about the character Xena is that, yes, she's totally foxy. But that's her secondary characteristic. Her first is that she KICKS ASS, and the fact that she beautiful is just an added bonus. That might sound silly, but think about it: how many shows or movies revolving around strong female characters take the strength and ass-kicking more seriously than the sex appeal? How often does a sexy female lead get to be strong first, sexy second? Especially when skimpy armored breastplates and stunningly beautiful eyes are involved? It's not that it's unheard of for a female lead to be sexy second, but it's very rare that her physical prowess is applied to righteous ass-kickery than to the ogling of the audience.

Not that Xena doesn't use its title character's sex appeal to attract an audience. Not that Lucy Lawless's amazing body and stunning beauty aren't exploited. She's definitely eye candy. But her character is a lot more than that, no matter how cheesy the acting: the Warrior Princess (who, by the way, from all I can tell, is not actually a princess at all) is a justice-doling machine, a conflicted human being, and a strong woman who doesn't need a man or a lover to be bad-ass. She doesn't need to shake her money-maker to get her work done. She's smart, strong... and sexy. But the smart and the strong come first. How many role models do we have like that for girls these days? We've got characters that are smart and strong, sure, but most of them only let their ass-kicking come out after they've used their sex appeal to get our attention. But Xena is more than that, whether her acting is Emmy-worthy or not. In fact, the only female character with the same ratio of strong-to-sexy I can recall in recent memory is Evelyn Salt in Salt... and that part was written for a man before Angelina Jolie came in. The truth is that today, most of our female heroes in entertainment are cute first, heroic second. Sexy before smart. Xena is one of the very few who got it right, and kept doing it for years.

So, I just want to send out a little love note here to the Warrior Princess and all her kick-ass kin: you guys rock.

Jul 20, 2011

Dammit, I'm a Cliche

I've actively resisted as many cliches as possible for my entire life. I've never gone with the flow, so to speak. Something in my basic genetic makeup makes me want to be different. As does, as far as I can tell, everyone else in my generation. Hence, hipsters.

And yet I'm slowly realizing that I can't avoid all of them. Like wearing business-casual clothes to the office. Just can't get around that one. And, dammit, I look good in a pencil skirt! But the one that's really getting to me right now is the whole, "Women like story in their porn" thing. I've strained against this one for a long time. Part of me really wants to be the exception to that worn-out old rule. I want to be able to flaunt my visual porn-watching prowess and make people be all, "Oh, you're so atypical! And it's so cool!"

But the other day, for the first time in ages, I sat down with a romance novel, and damned if it didn't get me all kinds of worked up! I was kind of taken by surprise by how swiftly I got carried away with the action in the book, even though the characters were badly developed and the story was, as Maude Lebowski would say, "ludicrous." But something about the slow build-up of the sex scenes, the pages and pages of preliminary tension, the fact that I could pace my reading speed to suit my mood... I really  liked it. It got me all tingly. Much more tingly than video porn has gotten me for a long time now.

Well, actually, that's not entirely true. A few weeks ago I held a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show followed by The Rocki Whore Picture Show: A XXX Parody at a friend's apartment. I invited a group that was completely, patently platonic, and we sat around and watched a sexy movie followed by a sex movie. It was around 6 hours of nonstop sexual innuendo and sex. And though we all made jokes and discussed the things going on onscreen the whole time, keeping the tension in the room to a dull roar, by the time I left, I definitely needed new pants.

And it strikes me, when I compare the reading with the tension, that I'm a total "chick." I totally get off on context. And I'm kind of disappointed in myself. Falling in line with tired tropes about womanhood is just not my thing. But at the same time, you know what? Context is hot. It's the thinking woman's turn-on. I don't know if the back story and slow build of excitement would affect me the same way now if I hadn't spent the past four years getting inured to watching straightforward porno films that are light on the story and heavy on the humping. Maybe I'd still find filmed sex a total turn-on by itself if not. But these days, I find that while I certainly can get turned on by porn, I have to either already be aroused in some way (ie, "Man, I'm horny! I'll watch some porn!") or have some sort of constraint placed on the situation that makes it impossible to do anything about my arousal (ie, the party the other night) so that what could otherwise be a passing flush of excitement is turned into a long, drawn-out event that leaves me breathless.

It's not about the bodies going at it for me, I guess. It's about why and how those bodies are doing what they're doing. And I think that's why, in the end, so many women go for romance novels, story-heavy erotica movies, and "feature" porn: we need to be stimulated mentally first and only then move on to the physical. That's why so many of us love foreplay. Why sex in romance novels is so hot for us--even if the writing is abysmal, we can still paint a rich picture in our minds about these people. They can look however we want them to. They can think and feel and emote as much as our brains allow them to. That's what makes it interesting, and if it's not interesting to us, it's not hot. And while there certainly is sexy film out there that meets these standards (see: Erika Lust, Jennifer Lyon Bell, Tristan Taormino...), the majority of porn is just the spectacle. There are surely some porn performers out there who can act and do so quite well, but the adult industry isn't exactly famed for its nuanced performances. Although it bears mentioning that porn scenes in which the actors are obviously completely into each other, in which they are so chemically matched and turned on by one another that the viewer can tell in an instant that they've been wanting to bone each other for ages... Those go a lot farther toward my arousal than do standard in-and-out. You don't need nuance when you've got raw desire--its peaks for itself. But we lady-folk, I think, often get the nuances we seek, those initial gasps of pleasure, from a book or a situation that brings together people we can more fully understand and get into. And get off on.

Jul 16, 2011

Why Anti-Porn Ideology is Totally Wrong-Headed

You know, I've been thinking a lot about this whole Naomi Wolf anti-porn line of reasoning, and though I have many arguments against it on small levels, it suddenly occurred to me yesterday that there's a much bigger and glaringly obvious fault with anti-porn ideology. Especially the "feminist" kind. Namely that its major, though often unstated, goal seems to be to shut down the porn industry for its gross moral indecency, unsafeness,  exploitation of women, and the affects of all the aforementioned degeneracy upon the masses of seemingly hapless consumers who develop addictions and sexual dysfunctions when drowned in smut. But for "feminists" and anyone else who gives a shit about sex workers at all, these perceptions about what comes out of porn valley are not only willfully ignorant of the realities of the porn making process, they are actually the very reasons why it's of the utmost important for outspoken human rights activists to stand up for the porn industry instead of bashing it.

Here's why.

If you think porn should be shut down in southern California and other bastions where it's established itself because it's immoral, indecent, exploitative, unsafe, and dangerous to the general public because of these things, just spend a few seconds thinking about what would happen if the generally well self-policed, self-monitored, self-contained industry that has built itself up around this commodity were to vanish. Before you make a call for the professionally-made porn industry to be outlawed or taken apart at the seams, consider the consequences.

I can't, of course, say that all porn is made ethically or that there aren't companies with big budgets out there doing very unpleasant things that stretch the limits of what can be considered consensual. It's not that I agree with everything that established pornographers do, or that I think their wares always have a positive effect on the people who consume them. Far from it--there are a lot of things I'd like to change about how the "jizz biz" is run in a lot of situations. But the truth of the matter is that nobody cares more about the health of porn performers, the legality of porn operations, the quality of pornographic movies, or the safety of everyone involved... than the porn industry. Certainly not porn critics. Certainly not Cal-OSHA, at least until the AHF began making a huge stink about condom use. Definitely not any level of government. And certainly, not by a long shot, the general public. The porn industry, like every single other legal industry in America, has its flaws. The self-imposed testing system used by the straight industry and the largely condom-mandatory policy used by the gay industry aren't failsafe. And it's not cool to me that they're held so separate in the first place. Not every director and performer is exactly a NICE person. Agents are just as often sleazy and underhanded here as they are anywhere else, often with more dire physical consequences to the well-being of their clients. There are outliers who are really nasty people who really want to see women degraded. It's not all a pretty picture by a long stretch of the imagination.

But even with all these flaws and icky little nuggets of unpleasantness, the porn industry is the most interested body of human beings in the welfare of its own people, the public's perception of itself, and the legality of its product. The porn industry goes to the utmost lengths to prove the age and documented consent of every person it employs. It bends over backwards to make sure every person filmed has recent STI testing because it simply cannot afford, monetarily or public opinion-ly, for there to be epidemics among its ranks. It takes itself very seriously, and it wants nothing more than to please consumers enough that they will spend money in appreciation of its wares. It wants to survive, and it will do what consumers want it to do in order to reach that goal. It will change, morph, stretch, condense, and move itself with a rapidity and liquidity almost unknown in other industries to please its consumers. It has a lot to lose if it goes down, including billions in annual income. It has a vested interest in keeping everything it does above the board, safe, legal, and consensual.

No imagine if some activist group or powerful anti-porn special interest group forced through some sort of legislation (ahem, AHF) that could manage to tear apart this existing structure, either by outlawing the production of pornography in the US or by imposing such rigid constrictions upon it in its southern California nest that the industry fell apart or fled. I mean it, Naomi Wolf, Gail Dines, AHF "activists," soccer moms, Tea Partiers, Michelle Bachmann... all of you. Really, actually, spend a few minutes thinking about what would happen instead of knee-jerk reacting or spewing some dogmatic bullshit. Think.

If the porn industry were taken down, people would NOT STOP MAKING PORN. It is virtually impossible for human beings to stop making porn. People like sexual imagery. We always have. From cave paintings to paleolithic sculptures/totems, to papyrus, to the printing press in its early years, to early photographs, to some of the earliest moving pictures to home video technology to VHS to DVD to HD to 3D to the internet to mobile phones, we have used every major mode of human expression developed during our history to produce versions of pornography. It's in our nature. It's not going to just stop because a few of us think the people running aren't very nice.

Mark my words: if the legal outlet for well-produced, well-paid, safe, consensual sex to be performed and filmed and sold in the United States is torn asunder by activists or conservatives, people will continue to make porn. In their bedrooms, in their basements, in anyplace they can go to bone and film it. With more technology than ever before available at our fingertips to document our sexual adventures, amateur pornography--already a huge presence online--will blossom into a massive underground, largely non-legal, behemoth of a pseudo-industry. But not just the amateur couples at home with a camera on their laptop will be involved--with the existing structure and the big boys out of the way, underground, unsafe, exploitative pornography will flourish. Without a place to call home, pornography making will become a free-for-all. Remember what happened during Prohibition, with the gangs, crime, and violence? Think that. Except with the health and well-beng of thousands of nubile young people at stake in a very real way (as opposed to the limited risk of their becoming involved in the well-monitored, well-taxed, and well-lit existing industry). Think mainstream porn is degrading to women? Well, think what could happen in someone's basement late at night to a drunken teenager when the chances of the video getting millions of hits skyrocket because there's no more professional stuff out there. Feel like porn workers are in danger of contracting STIs and drug addictions in the legal industry? Imagine the likelihood of amateur, underground porn rings requiring test results before filming. Think porn stars are underpaid or overworked in an above-the-board industry? Imagine if filming porn became like bare-knuckle boxing matches or dog fights because it had no place safe to go. And you think agents and directors are sleazy glorified pimps? Imagine if their legal livelihoods were taken away and they became just pimps. Imagine what might happen to the stats on sex trafficking, violent abuse of pornography workers, and underground performers' health and safety.

Chew on that for a few minutes, anti-porn activists, speakers, writers, thinkers, and legislators. Spend just a few seconds realizing the reality: that the world loves pornography and will not stop demanding its production, no matter what you do to the industry that exists to make it. Spend a lot more time, like a few hours, mulling over what would happen if that industry gets wiped out due to your efforts. If you consider yourself any kind of proponent of human rights, especially with regards to sexuality, you should not only support the porn industry in thought but in action. Want things to get better for performers? Fight piracy. Stand up for porn profits. Demand fair compensation for porn performers and autonomy in the porn industry. Be a real activist. Be realistic.

Jul 13, 2011

Vid Tuesday: The Shy Queer Pornstar Web Comic Geek with a Deckle Fetish You Really Want to Know, Part II

Photo by Naked Eye Photography
(Not Safe for Work, But So Much Fun from Home!)
So you draw a queer webcomic: Monsters Union. This has got to be a pretty new genre of comics—do you think you’re its founder?

(I should clarify something I’ve never made explicitly clear: the comic title is actually Deckle Fetish, and everyone works for Monster’s Union.)

Oh my, no! Queer comics themselves have been around for decades, and queer webcomics have been circulating since before most of us knew what a webcomic was. A big part of my nerdiness is an intense love of comics ever since I was a kid, so I follow a LOT of webcomics. Just off the top of my head, some of my favorite queer webcomics are Rooster Tails by Sam Orchard, Curvy by Sylvan Migdal and the works of Erika Moen (Dar! and Bucko). I geeked out so much when I met Erika at WonderCon; she is such an inspiration as an artist.

I think about the only unique thing I’m bringing to the table is myself (which is the case with any artist). I’m enjoying making a queer porn comic as a queer porn star.

Tell us about the comic—who are your characters? Where did they come from?

My comic is set in a world populated by sci-fi, fantasy and mythological creatures as well as humans. All of these non-humans have various governmental organizations that work with them, but the focus of the comic is on the Monster’s Union, whose expressed purpose is to “facilitate monstrous activity in a safe and consensual environment.”

Our more-or-less main character is Whitehall, a librarian and caseworker at M.U. who seems pretty human, but is quickly revealed to be something else entirely. The cast is filling out slowly with his boss, Amunet Banoub, an ancient mummy with a penchant for sexually harassing her employees; Mary Kiss, director of HR (she literally only deals with humans involved at M.U.); Malcolm, a giant green gorilla and star client of M.U.; Von, a human who is very reluctantly taking an internship with Whitehall; and Sheila, a library page who’s only just now making an appearance. The aim is to portray monster activities as just another day job. Malcolm punches the clock, kidnaps a buxom princess, throws some barrels, and then at 5, maybe he goes to have a beer with his friends (and invites the princess, too).

Your comic explores issues of gender fluidity and queerness and sexuality, your self-proclaimed favorite topics. Why do you think the comic medium is a good one for discussing these ideas?

Comics are a medium of storytelling, and these sorts of human experiences of gender and sex are fascinating stories to tell. I have a storyline planned to play with gender fluidity, but I’m a little restrained in what I’ve been able to get into so far, just because of my snail-paced production schedule. There are lots of comic artists out there tackling these subjects and are much better about updating than I am. (The comic is currently my third job.)

Is Monsters Union a way of expressing the marginalization of queers and kinksters?

I think that monsters can be a metaphor for a lot of different types of marginalization. They’ve been used as literary devices for homophobia, misogyny, racism and even religious persecution. I’m leaving it open to what the reader sees in it. My job is to take these characters who are labeled as monsters, and show that they’re just ordinary people. They have day jobs, love lives and hang-ups.

So you’re pro-monster, then?

Absolutely. In fact, I think I’m going to steal that. If I ever do merchandise, that has to go on it. Pro-monster.

What is the sexiest standard monster, do you think? Vampire? Werewolf? Mummy? Swamp thing?

I’m gonna be a bit of a contrarian here, because the standard monsters just don’t do it for me anymore. I actually find myself drawn much more towards the unusual, lesser-seen monsters. It’s why Ms. Banoub is the only normal-ish monster that has popped up in the comic so far. I find myself doodling shy yetis, hipster nagas and white-collar goblins. The sexiest monsters make me go “Oh!” and reach for an encyclopedia to learn more.

Being a genderqueer male-sexed person puts you in an interesting position, as it seems many of the genderqueer porn performers who have established themselves already female-sexed, either by birth or transition. You are one of very few who looks the way you do in this world. Do you find it difficult for people to wrap their minds around your body and expression, or do you think there’s just more of a public desire to see female bodies sexualized, and therefore fewer male bodies being filmed seriously?

I agree that there are a lot more female-bodied individuals identifying as genderqueer, but I’m certainly not the only male-born person who has settled into this identity. I’ve encountered very little resistance about my personal identity, and often it’s more about the identity itself than about me using the identity. I’ve had a few curious fans who asked me to explain the whole genderqueer concept, and I’m always happy to educate.

As to your second point, that’s a bit more difficult. There is a lot of talk about male talent in the porn industry being undervalued, but I think that’s a mainstream issue that queer porn and ethical porn in general is working to combat. I mean, look at Heavenly Spire. It’s a brilliant love letter to masculinity. I’ve always felt appreciated for my body and my identity with all the performers and producers I’ve shot with. I can count off a handful of cis-males who are participating in queer porn, but I think it’s just another piece of getting all bodies represented in porn. We need to work harder to show the sexual beauty of the individuals who are underrepresented in porn, whether that be people of color, plus sized individuals, disabled individuals or any dot along the gender spectrum.

Photo by Cocksexual
Have we just crossed some way-too-intellectualized line by suggesting maybe there’s still some discrimination in the way queer porn is viewed by its fans? Should we just stop?

I don’t think so. I think part of queer porn is always critiquing pornography. There’s a certain intellectual bent in the way that we’re queering pornography at large, and we should be able to look inward to do that, too. We need to be able to point out and discuss any potential discrimination in our industry, whether it be in casting, marketing or consumption. However, we also need to do it in a constructive manner.

Let’s at least transition. If you had to pick out the hottest experience you’ve had making adult films so far… which one would it be?

Obviously the sex is hot, so I'm going to go with an experience that really stuck out in my mind. Whenever I do anal, there's a lot of prep and I try to wear a plug when I'm in transit to the shoot, just to make things easier. One time, though, I was shooting over in Oakland, which meant about an hour+ of buses, trains and walking. So there I am, sitting on the BART train with all these people, and I can feel this big Pyrex butt plug grinding on me every time I shift in the seat or we hit a turn. And it hits me: none of these people know what I'm up to. I was on this morning train with these everyday passengers, but they had no idea that I had this sex toy rubbing my prostate for the whole commute, or that I was about to do porn. I felt so kinky.

What do you WANT to do on film that you haven’t yet?

I’d really like to do a boy/boy scene, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I just think it would be hot, and I think a lot of people would enjoy it. Also, I just haven’t had many opportunities to shoot with male talent. My only scene with another boy was my very first, the Bordello threesome with James Darling & Tina Horn.

I’d also like to do a costumed shoot sometime. It just seems fun, and if you know me, I take any excuse possible to throw a costume party.

You definitely have a particular style about your dress and carriage. Who are your style heroes?

I had a long stint where I dressed like J. Jonah Jameson almost every day (go check out my QTube video for more of that). Like I said, costumes are a big draw for me, so I collect a lot of odd pieces that I like to base my outfits around. I spent a good week wandering SF in search of a garrison cap that would fit me. I also spend a lot of time on my glasses, tights & shoes collections (whether they be sneakers or high heels). If I had the time and wherewithal, I’d settle into a style somewhere in between Josh Homme and Jiz Lee.

What kind of music do you jam out to?

I have a tendency to get intensely infatuated with one genre of music for weeks at a time before moving on to something else. My favorites are psychobilly, nerdcore hip hop, prog rock, psychedelic rock, thrash metal and desert rock.

I would have to say my favorite bands are The Flaming Lips and Queens of the Stone Age.

Where can we find your work?

My site, vidtuesday.com, has my comic and will direct you to most of my work, which has been for Cocksexual, Heavenly Spire, Courtney Trouble and Delores Park Studios.

Where can we find you?

At a used bookstore or a library. I also love old wood bars, so it's been great that queer porn parties often happen at places like El Rio or The Lex here in SF.

Jul 12, 2011

Vid Tuesday: The Shy Queer Pornstar Web Comic Geek with a Deckle Fetish You Really Want to Know, Part I

Dearest readerly ones. I've encountered Vid Tuesday's work here and there in my explorations of queer kinky porn, and I've been very impressed. Vid seems to me like a laid-back, very comfortable in his skin kind of person who enjoys the pleasures of the flesh. I love watching people like him, particularly male-bodied people, because it's a sight that we rarely get to see in the mainstream, let alone mainstream porn, where masculinity too often equals aggression. Vid is all enjoyment, ecstasy, and sweet smiles. When I found out he had a web comic called Deckle Fetish and called himself shy (and a porn star? what?!) I had to know more. Here's part one of our interview...
Photo by Natophile
Ok, so, Vid Tuesday, you told me that you’re terrible over the phone, but you’re definitely ok with getting naked on camera… So you’re a not-talkative book-lover who has sex on video… You are just all kinds of contradictory! Let’s just use labels for a moment to see how this turns out: how do you identify yourself? What, instead of who, are you?

I get told I'm contradictory pretty often. I am (or am a), in no particular order: geek, exhibitionist, shy, queer, cartoonist, genderqueer, nerd, country boy, goofy, cuddly, handsy (with permission), distracted, dandy, Halloweenophile.

Tell me about this deckle fetish stuff. This deckle. This fetish. Dub tee eff?

Deckle fetishism is “[t]he overzealous, undiscriminating (and often very expensive) passion for uncut edges in books which were intended to have their edges cut.”* Most modern books have cut edges, the sort of smooth, mechanical edges to the paper that machine-made books have. In the period of handmade books, handmade paper had a “deckled edge” which is the rough, uneven edges most people equate with old books. Deckle fetishism is the obsessive need to own these sorts of books. I just wanted a book-related term that sounded dirty for my site/comic, and it has turned out to be quite a conversation piece.

* ABC for Book Collectors by John Carter & Nicholas Barker

So would you say you’re a bibliophile in the more common usage of the word—a person who loves books? Or a bibliophile in the really, you know, loving books kind of way?

Oh, not quite. I love books for a variety of reasons. Their content, history, provenance (previous owners) and even physical state. I collect books about books, almost obsessively. There are certain sensual aspects of books, but I don't want to have any physical relation with them aside from gliding my hand across the page to see if I can feel the chain lines. No, I would much rather fuck someone up against a bookshelf.

Tell me about your work with Shine Louise Houston for Heavenly Spire! I’m totally in love with this set of ideas and I want to hear what the experience was like for you.

Shine was incredible. I love what she's doing with the Crash Pad Series, and as soon as I heard she was working on a site that focused on masculinity, I knew I had to get in on that. The shoot itself was very fun and relaxing. Shine and Tristan (a talented photographer/videographer Shine often works with) knew the vision and formula for the site, and how to make a model very comfortable. There was a brief interview about my fantasies, how I masturbate, and what I find sexy about myself. Then came what Shine called the “Pretty Pretty” segment, where they filmed me showing off my body in some gorgeous lighting, and then finally down to the sex. I played with myself kinda slowly, teasing it out for a good video length until I let Shine know that I was dragging it out, and could finish whenever. She thought she had enough footage, so I went for it. Of course, the climax after masturbating for ten minutes is pretty powerful, so I'm all wiped out and making these faces, and the video actually ends with Shine and I audibly laughing, which was just a perfect cut.

So what have you been doing about testing in the post-AIM world?

I haven't shot since the crashing of AIM, but I do hear good things about Talent Testing Services. In SF, we also have St James Infirmary, who provides testing and health services to all sex workers. Also, queer porn is very pro-barrier, which makes the performers feel very safe. A lot of mainstream genres rely on testing because so much is done bareback, but a lot of queer porn uses barriers for even oral sex and fingering, and makes an aim of showing and sexualizing safe sex practices. When I shot with Dolores Park Studios, they provided gloves, condoms and dental dams for Drew and me, which is a nice transition…

You just did a scene with Drew Deveaux, who I adore! How was it? How is she to work with?

Drew is phenomenal, as everyone knows. With the distance of SF & TO, we really only knew each other from reputation and tweeting at each other. We exchanged a few emails talking about the scene ahead of time, and then on the morning of the shoot, we swapped more ideas and were all nervous energy. We came up with a sort of concept we both liked, talked comfort levels, and then on set, she saw this tall mantle above the fireplace and was just instantly like “I want to get fucked on that!” so we made it happen. We both like playing with gender, and so we started out with her tossing me around and pegging me, and then we made a big scene of her putting lipstick on me and me leaving these lip marks all over her thighs and hips. Drew is supremely talented and charming, and just on the up and up as she's finding herself more in her performances.

Photo by Queer Lens Photography
You’re an exhibitionist—how did you realize this about yourself?

Ever since I was a teen, and discovered the thrill of the nude form, I found myself drawn to being the nude form that gave people that thrill.

How and when and why did you decide to go the extra mile with exhibitionism and start doing porn? Were there any steps along the way?

I had a few stops along the way. For most of my college career I worked as a figure drawing model, which was fun in its own way, and meant getting to see my body transformed into pieces of art. I did a little bit of photography modeling as well. Then, a few years ago I got involved in making and posting my own content on XTube, various short videos and photo sets, and really enjoyed the experience. It was moving to SF and the easy access to companies like No Fauxxx and Pink & White that pushed me that extra mile.

Tell me about your tattoos! What are they, and where are they?

I currently have four. On my ribs, wrapping around to my back, there's a koi fish and lotus pad; on my lower back I have my little gender equality symbol; on my right thigh I have Hellboy (with books, of course!), and lastly on my shoulder is a skull drawn by Mike Mignola and decorated in Day of the Dead filigree. All were done at The Studio in Roseville, CA.

When did you get your first one?

At 19 I had my koi fish done (the lotus pad was added later). Rib tattoos are excruciating, so I didn’t choose well for the location of my first tattoo. I did not handle the pain well. I’ve gotten much better since then.

When did you first see porn?

I’m not sure at what age my first glimpses of porn came about, but I first actively sought out porn when I was about 11, being a technologically minded kid in the internet age.

When did you first discover queer porn?

Sadly, I don’t think I found queer porn until about 3 or 4 years ago. As a part of my exhibitionism, I was always looking for sites I could potentially model for. As a male-bodied, slightly alt, very nerdy, non-6-pack-having person, my options were pretty limited. In that period there was no shortage of Suicide Girls clones offering chances to female models, but many of the sites I could apply to sort of fell off the face of the earth without warning. I remember sending out applications to several sites, most of which I can’t even remember the names of, but distinctly remember discovering—and loving—No Fauxxx.

How did you make the decision to really go for it and start performing in porn?

It was really sort of a surprise for me. After moving to San Francisco, I realized that No Fauxxx was based right here, so I should put in that model application. I met Courtney Trouble through a friend, did a very brief stint volunteering some web work for one of her sites (Reel Queer Porn), and then submitted the application, thinking I could do some photo shoots for No Fauxxx. What I didn’t know at the time was that she was strongly branching into DVDs, and so she came back and said “Yes of course I will cast you!” and then, suddenly I was in Bordello.

Do you think this will be a short part of your life, or are you in the video biz for the long haul?

I’m honestly not sure what the future holds. I would love to keep making porn; it’s been amazing to me, and I feel like I’ve grown a discovered a lot through the experience. I have a tentative shoot sometime in the coming summer, and a scene in the can with Syd Blakovich that's just waiting to be released, but for the most part I’ve been on hiatus for a while. I’ve been idly thinking of getting involved beyond performing, more behind-the-scenes stuff. Not behind the camera (I’m not a director nor a videographer), but getting in on the leg work that helps keep things going. I think it’d be fun to be a porn grunt.

You said on your blog that you’ve found a real community in queer porn in San Francisco and that you’ve really felt like a participating member of it, which is fabulous. Do you think that what’s happening in San Francisco can ever happen elsewhere? Is it a model other places can follow?

Yes! I love my San Francisco community. Of course, the queer porn network is pretty far spread. I’ve done scenes with Sophia St. James from Portland and Drew Deveaux from Toronto. I think those are particular cities that stand a chance of replicating the sort of scene that’s been established here in SF. The trick is finding the right group of motivated folks and to really connect and work together to try and build the community you want. It’s all about the support you give.

How do you hope to widen the community through your work, on screen and off?

On screen my goal is to just be myself and have fun. I want to show that someone who looks like me (take that as you will) can be queer, and can enjoy queer sex.

Off screen, I promote talents and events that I enjoy, and encourage people to buy porn, so we can keep making more of it. I don’t pirate any materials, and I no longer visit free sites unless they’re genuine user-uploaded material. If you’re somebody who has purchased and viewed the material, I think a producer/performer is more apt to listen when you say “I think you should expand and include more of x.” The broader our appeal, the broader our audience gets.

Part 2 to cum... Oops, I mean come... Ahem...

Jul 9, 2011

Logical Fallacy #2 (Ok Maybe Not a Fallacy, but Still Bad Writing)

More on Naomi Wolf's ridiculous "Is pornography driving men crazy?" article, which has now been reposted on HuffPo. Thank goodness, the commenters there are taking her to the cleaners for her myopic writing. I'd like to keep taking her there.


"Given the desensitisation effect on most male subjects, researchers found that they quickly required higher levels of stimulation to achieve the same level of arousal. The experts I interviewed at the time were speculating that porn use was desensitising healthy young men to the erotic appeal of their own partners."

Well, again, I'm not a brain scientist. I don't know much about how this all works. But it seems a safe bet (that I've read about, too, but hey look at me I'm not trying to deploy factoids I don't fully understand! Wheee!) that the dopamine hit that men get from jerking off to porn is similar to the one they get from having sex. Orgasm itself releases a flood of chemicals that provide a variety of pleasant effects--dopamine is just one. All of these chemicals are powerful and they work to make us feel happy, slightly sleepy, and emotionally close to the thing or person we've just shared our intimate act with. It applies particularly well if that partner is a human being, and facilitates bonding (evolutionarily, of course, this was meant to help pairs bond in case a child had been produced, so they could both stick around to take care of it).

Many theorists have concluded that perhaps this bond gets shared with porn and develops an even stronger emotional attachment--I'd argue it might make someone bond more with his or her hand. But, hey, what about sex partners? Does this mean that people who have sex with their partners will eventually need more extreme sex to get off?

Well, yeah. I mean that's kind of the whole thing about even the healthiest of sex lives, isn't it? When they start out, most male-sexed people are so excited they have an orgasm in seconds. But after they've done it a bit more often they can go a bit longer, and sometimes after a while they take for-friggin-ever. Right? So does this mean that men who have sexual relationships with other people are going to go around needing to be choked, slapped, and submerged in wax or something every time they get it on, because they've been overexposed to sex?

Well, for some men, yes. But so what? The assumption Ms. Wolf is making is that "extreme" sex acts are always bad. But that's another blog post.

The point HERE is that masturbation and porn are blamed for all sorts of social and sexual evils when both masturbation and porn are simply pieces of the larger sexual puzzle. Yet, when it comes to the things that make these two habits "bad" to commentators and the larger culture, these same things, as applied to other sexual behaviors (like sex with a partner), cease to be as bad. If you need more and more stimulation to get off with your partner, there seems to be little in the way of a stigma attached to it. When things do get out of control, people often divorce or go into counseling for sex addiction, which, incidentally, is just expression the same issues inherent in pornography addiction. It just tends to involve more people in the "addict's" life. I'm not sure where I stand on the idea of sexual addiction in general, and again, I'm not a scientist.

But I'd venture to say that it's not the sex or the porn itself that causes compulsive behavior and addiction that we can write condescending articles about; it's the need for the dopamine. It's the chasing after the rush. It's the inability to put the rush together with a healthy feeling of self-worth, intimacy, or attachment that makes it dangerous, or the ability to find only the rush worth pursuing at the sake of real, meaningful human interaction.

Jul 7, 2011

Logical Fallacy #1

Ok, Naomi Wolf. Let's discuss some of this theory you're working with over on Al Jazeera.

One thing at a time. There are so many issues I see in what you wrote about how porn may be "driving men crazy" that I'll take it nice and slow. Ease into it, like a man eases into a hardcore porn habit.

I'm going to just talk about one issue for the moment, and it's succinctly stated in this little paragraph, that's basically restating... ummmm.... your argument:

"As with any addiction, it is very difficult, for neurochemical reasons, for an addict to stop doing things - even very self-destructive things - that enable him to get that next hit of dopamine. Could this be why men who in the past could take time-delayed steps to conduct affairs behind closed doors now can't resist the impulse to send a self-incriminating text message? If so, such men might not be demons or moral ciphers, but rather addicts who are no longer entirely in control of themselves."

Ok, so, you've just spent a few paragraphs building up the idea that porn addiction is the result of a chemical addiction to dopamine that's released when men watch porn, and that technology is making it easier than ever for them to access the porn that they're addicted to. I'm not enough of a scientist (and I'd dare say you probably aren't either) to really extrapolate on whether you're right or wrong about the addiction of pornography (though I'd venture to say that your argument falls short of convincing me because it ONLY talks about porn and not about other modes of sexual release, but we'll save that for another time). But I am definitely enough of a thinking human being to see that what you've built up as the basis for your argument (the effects of jerking off while watching porn) is not the same thing you're trying to make a point about (sending dirty pictures of yourself via text). Not the same thing, like, at ALL.

Again, I'm no neuroscientist. There may, for many people with exhibitionist leanings, be a similar release of dopamine in the brain when revealing pictures are taken and sent to other people, but you haven't really bothered to find out, have you? You've basically set up an argument based on one sexual behavior you consider deviant and then tried to use that argument, with no brandishing of studies or science or even logical extension, to condemn another. But, Ms. Wolf, jerking off to a porno video is not the same thing as pulling down one's pants, snapping a photo, and sending it to someone. They are just not at all the same thing. One is voyeuristic, one is exhibitionist. One is an act of consumption, the other is an act of production. One comes into one's technological device to be used, the other is recorded upon it and then sent out. The first is made, most often, by professionals in a well-lit environment with lots of paperwork having been signed about age and consent--the other is a spur-of-the-moment cock picture. They're just... They're not the same.

I can understand using current news items (or in your case, slightly over-with-already news items) to back up a point you want to make. As a fellow writer, I understand that pitching articles can be a circus trick of delicate timing and balance, and when something really mainstream pops up that even marginally goes along with what you have to say, you have to pounce on it. There's not always time for thorough research or interviews. But, Ms. Wolf, you should try to make sure the point you want to make at least matches the evidence you're amassing. Just because someone really likes drinking wine, that does not make him a vintner. Nor does sending naughty texts of oneself make one a porn addict. This isn't quite apples to oranges, it's more... oranges to, like, planting an orchard or something. Vaguely related in that both tend to involve penis pictures (or oranges). But if you want to blame "extreme porn" for the behavior of certain male politicians, try at least equating them using some data or at the very least a logical argument. Otherwise... well... You get blog posts like this happening.

Jul 5, 2011

The Woman's POV Part IV

I'm proud (kind of) to present my last in a four-part series on Madison Young's TheWomansPOV.com about searching for the woman's POV in porn. I wrote the series over the course of a few months, and as so often happens when writing about difficult theoretical and sexual terrain, my thinking on the subject changed massively over the time I was allotted. And it's changed again in the time between when I submitted the piece and now. Looking at an essay written even a few weeks in the past is always agonizing for me--I think, "Why didn't I fix that sentence? Why wasn't I more specific? I repeated that word too many times," and so on anytime I read anything I've published. But particularly in these pieces where I realize I was using the terms "female" and "woman" almost interchangeably, loading them both up with assumptions and values I didn't even think about at the time. At the time I was too busy trying to figure out how to say everything I wanted to say about the importance of giving the usually-objectified person the camera in porn and elsewhere. Allowing them access to the ownership of the creative output is massively important, and finding or cultivating viewers who are willing to take the time to perceive the differences is just as important. I needed to say this, using interview material and photos and my own experience, in not too many words and in a way that would sum up the last three articles, all of which were now in that past-tense, difficult-to-confront place in my mind.
It's all tough. But this is important stuff and I believe very strongly that the people I mention: Richard behind the IShotMyself project, Jennifer Lyon Bell, and Kimberly Kane, are massively impressive for the work they're doing. I just wasn't oh so good at articulating it as well as I wanted to, which is more or less the struggle of the writer. And sometimes we just kind of fall short of our expectations for ourselves. But, hey, I still want people to think about this stuff, so, yeah, rock on, and read on...

Jul 3, 2011

Oooooooh This Makes Me Mad

A not-very-thought-provoking read on Al Jazeera (to their credit--in the Opinions section--by Naomi Wolf: "Is pornography driving men crazy?" An interesting title, actually, because she doesn't really talk about what she means by "crazy" in the first place. I think "crazy" here might be retranslated to "those who willingly watches pornography." I'm frankly hoping someone else titled the article to make it sound more provocative than just yet another ho-hum "porn will poison your mind" piece. Goodness knows we haven't had enough of those yet. *eye roll* But I doubt that's the case. It seems far more likely that Wolf just wanted to trap as many people as possible into reading her predictable, uninspired, and unhelpful article about how men are silly, simple creatures easily taken in by their own brain chemistry when confronted with the monolithic evil that is modern porn. I think she wanted as many men as possible to read her rant and say, "Well that must be what's wrong with me! It's not MY fault I act like a bit of an idiot--it's PORN'S fault!" And I think she wanted equally as many women to read it and say, "This must be what's wrong with my husband/boyfriend/son/male friend! It's all PORN'S fault!" Porn, of course, and the frail and obtuse psychology of the male brain.

The fact that this article is blazingly, unrepetently sexist is only the beginning of its problems, though. Wolf, like many other "feminist" writers like her, seems to miss the fact that by adopting fundamentally anti-sex and anti-porn views when they sit down to write without examining them first, she is helping exactly nobody. She's so eager to upset some mythical apple cart in which the rest of us are supposedly sitting, twiddling our thumbs and assuming that everything is hunky dory with the way we all relate to sex, that she fails to realize that none of this finger-pointing or irresponsible wielding of scientific information they are not qualified to apply helps anything. When I read articles like this, which feint toward taking arms against a sea of smut that hurting all of us (apparently) without actually picking up a single spear, I want to write in the comments: "...so? What are you going to do about it?" I usually don't, though, because, what's the point? Here's what I'm up against: thousands of years of patriarchal assumptions about sex and gender being turned neatly upside-down in an unimaginative and unproductive way. Opposing something isn't difficult, Ms. Wolf. Coming up with with a whole new way to approach gravity is.

There's nothing new in what Wolf says here. The assumptions she's going on are almost too numerous to bear listing, but here are a few I took away from the article:
1) men are rather simple creatures with very little in the way of defenses against compulsion,
2) porn is bad and feeds right into the male sex's reprehensible sexual compulsions,
3) sending people naked pictures of oneself is inherently a bad thing,
4) there's not really anything we can do about it, because porn in unchangeable,
5) so let's bitch.

Well, I see a few major problems with each one of these assumptions. Actually, many. But let's pretend for a moment that "feminism" is a blanket one can throw over blatant sexism. (Or, for that matter, the parenthetical statement: "There is some new evidence, uncovered by Jim Pfaus at Concordia University in Canada, that desensitisation may be affecting women consumers of pornography as well." Well by golly, I didn't know women had compulsions, too! Good thing you put that in there!) Let's pretend that it's only men who are affected by all of this horrendous porn-related degeneracy, shall we?

So... then what? So you think that hardcore pornography and the fact that it is easily available for free on the internet to feed these poor, sad male creatures' compulsions is a negative thing? So you wish there was less free porn online to fan the fire? You wish men would stop watching so much of it? So what are you going to do about it? Are you going to single-handedly shut down the porn industry, like Shelley Lubben wants to do? Good luck turning the entire history of the human species on its head and denying us our sexual imagery. Not gonna happen.

So then what? Are you going to spend some time making serious inquiries into what can be done to make this situation better? Are you going to talk to pornographers about how you'd be more likely to assure their bottom line by purchasing their products if they would make more responsible, less shocking material that feeds into "porn addiction"? (This question stands upon a pyramid of other assumptions about why shocking material is popular and whether it's "good" or "bad," but I don't have time to get into that at the moment... maybe more to come on that later.) Are you going to work with the porn industry to help curtail the piracy of their video content, thereby making free pirated porn less available to the sadly semen-besotted masses? Are you going to help in any way to make this situation better?

Or are you, like Gail Dines and Shelley Lubben and a whole lot of other small-minded people who would rather rely on an entirely unrevolutionary set of assumptions about sex, gender relations, morality, and sexual imagery to make a boring pseudo-point that helps you wag your finger in the face of a multi-billion dollar industry and click your tongue about how naughty it is? Are you going to actually face the music and try to affect real, positive change in the way we talk and think about sex, thereby helping do away with the attitudes that make viewing porn such a compulsive, addictive, surreptitious behavior in the first place and diminishing the shame that surrounds it so we can have healthy, honest, open discussions about sex? Or are you going to throw up your hands like so many, declare that porn is just too terrible to get involved in, and bitch?

Jul 1, 2011

Head-Desk News of the Day: Violence and Sex and Guns and Reliability

I think I'm getting sick. So I'm going to nap instead of writing much today, and I'll beg forgiveness, but I'll also point you in the direction of an interesting article from Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon: Court reaffirms: Sex much worse than violence.
It's not exactly groundbreaking stuff--this is a dichotomy that's existed in American culture for a while now--but it's interesting to keep putting this idea into real-world contexts to show just how much more appropriate we seem to find graphic violence than graphic sex. Genitalia engorged with blood and giving pleasure? Heavens to Betsy, that's obscene! But blood freed from the skin via swords, guns, and other weapons, flying about willy-nilly on gigantic movie screens for kids to watch? That's... not... obscene...?
Following news of DSK's release "on his own recognizance" because the woman who accused him of sexual assault might not be so reliable (because if she's not reliable, obviously she either wasn't raped or, if she was, it doesn't matter) and news that Ohio has made it legal to carry concealed weapons in bars, a picture seems to emerge. Sex = bad. Violence = ok. Sexual violence = meh. Let's shoot up a pub!
I wonder when that supervolcano in Yellowstone will go off. Some days I think it can't be soon enough...