Radical Masculinity #3: When Men Wear Skirts

… is up at Carnal Nation!

A little taste of what I discuss:

One of my basic tenets of gender is the deep belief that gender should not dictate one’s personality. Personality traits are made up of hobbies, interests, and activities; one of the classic ways we police gender in this culture is to require that men only do “manly things” and women do “womanly things,” and when a man does a womanly thing, we get all up in arms about it. Ask my sister’s boyfriend: he’s a cop, the man carries a gun for goodness’ sake, but when he started growing sunflowers, he got teased incessantly by his best friends and coworkers alike. Someone—anyone—is extra quick to criticize when one of the activities we like to do is outside of our gender assignment.

Yet it is more socially acceptable for a woman to cross over into seemingly masculine hobbies than for a man to cross into feminine ones (at least at the amateur level—men still dominate fields traditionally seen as “female” such as cooking, baking, and sewing at the professional level, but that is a slightly different topic). The advances that the various feminist movements have made in the last 100-plus years have made it more acceptable for a woman to get really obsessed with NASCAR racing, or World of Warcraft and video games, or pro-wrestling, or environmental engineering, or the stock market, or any of those other supposedly “masculine” interests and hobbies. She may be insulted for these interests, she may be called a dyke (equating her gender identity with sexuality), but she has support. She has other women who have gone through this, she has documents, she has a feminist history to call upon to tell herself—and others—that she can like these things and still be a “real” woman.

However, if a man wants to grow sunflowers or bake cupcakes or learn how to needlepoint or host fancy dinner parties or make greeting cards, there are consequences: the people around him, friends and strangers, will police his hobbies, words, and actions around things seen as “unmanly.”

Head on over to Carnal Nation for the whole thing.

And the Crash Pad Membership Goes To …

Oops! Sorry about that, I am just now getting the winner chosen for the Crash Pad Series Giveaway.

The winner is: #41, Morgs! Congrats! I will email you and set you in touch with the folks at The Crash Pad Series to get your membership.

Better luck next time, folks! Don’t forget, you can still go get your very own membership whenever you like … click on over to crashpadseries.com.

Welcome back from wherever you went for the holidays. If you’ve got a minute, read the holiday comments on the Crash Pad Series giveaway post, because they are full of details about what queers (especially) go through in dealing with our sometimes very un-understanding families. They’re comforting, actually, in knowing you’re not alone in dealing with some of the hardships of marginalization.

e[lust] #4: Reconciling Butch Top + Feminist in the Top Three!

Thanks to the lovely judges over at e[lust], my post Reconciling the Identities of Feminist & Butch Top is featured this week in the top three.

I’m glad somebody stepped up to fill the shoes of the former Sugasm. This’ll keep me busy on this freezing cold New York pre-January afternoon.

Welcome to e[lust] - your source for sexual intelligence and inspirations of lust from the smartest & sexiest bloggers! Whether you’re looking for hot steamy smut, thought-provoking opinions or expert information, you’re going to find it here. Want to be included in e[lust] #5? Start with the rules, check out the schedule in the site’s sidebar and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

This Week’s Top Three Posts

  • Interrogation - I looked up at him, feigning cluelessness. “I know you can understand me. So I ask you again. Where are the lenses?” Another strike. I crumpled into the bench.
  • Reconciling the Identities of Feminist & Butch Top - There’s something supposedly anti-feminist about wanting to dominate. There’s something in the feminist rhetoric which says we are all equal especially in bed, so that means I-do-you-you-do-me….
  • Fire and IceThe rain comes down harder around us, the freez­ing drop pelt­ing what­ever skin lies exposed over the sur­face of the water.

e[lust] Editress

  • By the Twinkling Lights… - His lips found my nipples and I forgot about the cold. If a car were to drive by and the passengers were to look past the twinkling lights on the tree, they would have seen a naked woman’s rear end pressed against the glass wall..

Featured Post (Lilly’s Pick)

  • Ronjazz: Late Night Rendezvous - Meet me in the parking lot at the post with the broken lamp. 10PM sharp! Do not be late! Stand facing the post, eyes closed. Wear a flimsy dress and heels – nothing else!

See also: Pleasurists #58 and #59 for all your sex toy review needs

All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

Yes, No, and Consent

In much of the workshops and trainings around sexuality and sexual expression that I have attended, we have often started with one basic concept: saying no.

For example, I have been part of a circle of pairs where the instruction was for the person on the outside of the circle to think of a place on their body that would really like to be massaged right now. Hands, feet, wrists, scalp, shoulders – wherever there might be some great tension released. And the instruction was to ask the person on the inside circle, politely, “would you please massage my ____.” The person on the inside was instructed to say “No.” They could say, “I’m sorry, not right now.” Or, “I really can’t, no.” Or to couch it in some other softer “no,” but the instruction was specifically to practice saying it – even if they actually wanted to give the massage! (There would be time for that, later.)

The point of that exercise is to practice saying no. To know that it’s okay to say no. To have permission to say no – to have instruction, even, to say no. It’s actually really hard! But it’s so, so important, especially when building trust, especially when deepening a relationship, especially when working to assert your own needs and desires, as I feel probably all of us struggle with, in some ways.

The idea behind this, in erotic work is without no, there is no YES. And the YES is what we’d like to get to. The delicious, hungry YES, which is so excited and juicy and ready for what’s coming.

Without the ability to say no, the yes is virtually meaningless. Without the reassurance of my partner or girlfriend or lover or wife or toy or submissive saying no to me every once in a while, how can I be sure that she really can say no? It feels good, to me, to hear someone create limits on something, because then I have a better idea of how far I can go. I hate to discover dealbreakers in the middle of something, that is not good.

That’s pretty explanatory, right? The no-gives-yes-value thing?

This happens in relationships, too, not just with sex. For example, my friend and her girlfriend were planning to do something, one of those big relationship things. The details are a bit unimportant, but it’s something her girlfriend had expressed skepticism about in the past, and my friend was really into it. At the last minute, her girlfriend decided no, actually, it isn’t something she wanted to do. Oops sorry! My friend was mad, for a while. We talked and talked and she was upset. After the dust cleared a little, though, my friend said she was really grateful to her girlfriend for being honest. She was really grateful that her girlfriend wouldn’t be the kind of person who would just go along with something her partner wanted, even if it wasn’t something that she truly wanted herself. How much worse would the resentment build up if she had gone and done it anyway, secretly knowing she didn’t want to! How much more tension and stress would their relationship be under! My friend’s girlfriend risked hurting my friend’s feelings, and risked the consequences of being honest, but also has a lot of trust and faith that they will be able to talk through things, to reach some sort of mutually appreciated conclusion. And my friend has said, many times, since, I value honesty over consistency any day.

They are closer, as a result. Telling the truth doesn’t have to mean being disappointing or disappointed, it doesn’t have to mean steps back in a relationship. I would rather be with someone who I could trust to tell me no when they felt no and tell me yes when they felt yes. And if she never tells me no, can I be sure she really can?

Audacia Ray has said that working in the sex industry taught her to say no. She’s also said, “‘No’ is a complete sentence!” (especially when she and I have talked about how overcommitted we are), which I find myself saying to myself in my head frequently. Lots of the productivity blogs talk about turning things down as a way to really take control over your own time and owning your own sovereignty. This is important in sex play and relationships, too.

I know lots of these concepts around “saying no” are taught in sexual assault, survivor, reclaiming sexuality, and power play workshops all over, but I want to reiterate where it comes from, because the next part is this: about saying yes.

As I have been writing about a bit lately, I have struggled with being a top and dominant in bed. Sometimes, upon expressing to my lover something that I’ve wanted to do, and after they say, excitedly, that they have always wanted to do that too, I still have trouble, I still doubt that it’s okay, I still hesitated.

It’s like what J. said, in a comment on the Reconciling the Identities of Butch Top and Feminist essay:

Recently, my partner and I have been experimenting with some new things in bed and I was constantly asking her if she was okay with what we were doing. I was so worried that I asked her several times in a row, not taking her first yes for what it was. She told me that if I’m going to trust when she says no, I also have to trust when she says yes.

Bingo. I love that explanation of this process – so succinct. Yes, exactly.

As the dominant, I think I can ask whether my submissive is okay with what we are doing (or going to do), even more than once, until I am satisfactorily convinced of her consent, but – BUT! – it is also my job to trust her answer, to believe her, and to let that be enough.

If she consents, and uses it against me later, that is, most likely, NOT MY FAULT and she is a jerk. (See Dan Savage’s Savage Lovecast Episode #165 where a guy gives his boyfriend permission to fuck other guys, then gets completely pissed and refuses to see him again after he does. Not okay!)

If I have chosen to date this girl, then personally I do have some sort of assumption that her consent means that she knows herself, and she is able to gauge her own reactions, and has enough self-knowledge that she will know whether being in whatever situation we’re discussing will make her freak out or not.

I can, of course, check in with her during the scene (hopefully in ways that do not break the scene entirely – see The Topping Book and The Bottoming Book for more about that), but I also have to accept that if something was wrong she would tell me or communicate it to me somehow, and that it is not my job to be a mind reader. It is my job to ask when I notice something, it is her job to communicate with me actively.

This is one of those ways that BDSM is actually Relationship Communications 401, way beyond the basics. And this is why I personally have had a tough time playing with people who were not self-aware, people who were not impeccable communicators, and people who were not afraid to be honest and assert what they needed.

This stuff is really damn hard, I know. Sometimes I don’t even know what I want, let alone being able to articulate it. But if we can’t trust each other to say yes, and no, and mean it, then we can’t go farther, we can’t play with consent and force, we can’t establish deeper trust to be able to get to the darker, juicy stuff, like domination and submission outside the bedroom, and role play, and deep, late night conversations untangling some of our control issues. Ideally, a good relationship works to bring parts of you to light that weren’t quite visible before, and supports you as you work through them, and possibly enhance or change them – and I have found no better tool for that than the many varied practices of BDSM.

Review: Midori’s Expert Guide to Sensual Bondage (DVD)

Midori’s Expert Guide to Sensual Bondage DVD is directed by Tristan Taormino and written & hosted by sex expert and author Midori, and I am familiar with both of them in general, so I knew I would probably enjoy it. When it arrived, though, I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t a video version of her Art of Japanese Bondage book – I don’t have a copy of it, but I’ve been eyeing it in Babeland for years. I was hoping the DVD would be elaborate, beautiful rope bondage, but it’s not.

In fact, it might be better.

One of the things that has kept me from doing more bondage is that it seems difficult, elaborate, and highly skilled – but that’s really only one kind of bondage, the fancy rope artistry kind. And though I have a few moves (see: Crab Tie), I often just don’t even practice what I know because I feel like it’s time consuming and will interrupt what we’re doing.

Kristen, though, I know, really likes bondage. Really likes to be tied up and tied down and restrained. While she does not love much pain, as a bottom, she really gets into that submissive mindspace when restrained and bound. She has often requested it more frequently and though it is frequent in our play, I could do it more often I’m sure. She has said that every time would not be too often, in fact. And though I often restrain her with my hands, holding her down or holding her wrists or ankles or under her knees, I could do more.

This video very much inspired me to do so.

And, it gave me a whole lot of ideas of things to use aside from elaborate rope ties – in fact, very little rope is used in this film. They use the Under Bed Restraint System (which I highly recommend, I got one for Kristen’s house that I still need to write up and it’s fantastic), wrist cuffs, ankle cuffs, belts, scarves, and some great snap hooks to hold it all together.

Midori’s introduction was pretty basic, had some great solid concepts and guidelines for bondage play, though nothing I wasn’t already familiar with. When she started demonstrating with some pretty purple scarves, I thought, damn, where do I get some like that?! (Lucky for me, I have some Liberator Silk Sashes just begging for Kristen’s return from her holiday family visit.)

I thought this video would be for beginners, but I don’t consider myself a beginner with bondage, and I got a lot out of it. It has four basic scenes: Midori’s introductory instruction, a hands-on demo with Midori, Adrianna Nicole, and Mark Davis, a scene with Adrianna and Mark, and a scene with Madison Young and Danny Wylde. Midori has some comments throughout the two scenes, but it’s fun to see some of the bondage ‘in action,’ which is a good way to get familiar with putting bondage on and taking it off during an actual scene.

I was kind of waiting to watch this video so Kristen and I could watch it together, but now I’m kind of glad I watched it on my own – the tricks will be more mine and less like I copied them from an instructional video. (Not that she won’t know that’s where I got ‘em, she reads my posts. Still, she won’t have the visual of seeing someone else do it first.)

There’s a particular moment in Adrianna and Mark’s scene where Adrianna has wrist and ankle cuffs on, and they are cuffed wrist-to-ankle with a double snap ring (like a two-sided caribiner). She is on her back in bed with her head near the edge, he is fucking her mouth with his cock while he’s got his fingers in her pussy. It was nice – I am looking forward to testing that out.

Now I’ve just got to add some double snap rings and wrist cuffs to my toy box. Perhaps I’ll use some of that Christmas money from Grandma and invest in a few of those.

Pick up Midori’s Expert Guide to Sensual Bondage at Babeland, or your local feminist sex toy shop.

Happy Solstice Crash Pad Series Membership Giveaway

Though I did grow up celebrating Christmas, my family is not particularly religious. I’ve been to Christian church services probably less than a handful of times (I can think of twice, off the top of my head). The past few years, I’ve resolved to celebrate the holiday as winter solstice, rather than Christmas – we’re getting more and more broad in our “happy holidays” wishes, more inclusive, I think, in the mainstream, and the difference of celebrating on the 21st instead of the 25th is negligible.

My family still does gifts on Christmas morning, and that’s fine with me – tradition, familiarity, ritual. But being some form of pagan & buddhist, what I’m really celebrating here is the darkest day of the year, and the return of the light.

Winter solstice is an astronomical event. It has to do with the placement of our Earth in the solar system, the rotation of the Earth’s axis, how we spin around the sun. It is the day – in the Northern hemisphere – where the hours of daylight are the shortest, and from here until summer solstice, they build to longer and longer hours of daylight.

The Winter Solstice occurs exactly when the earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun [in the Northern hemisphere] at its maximum of 23° 26′. Though the Winter Solstice lasts only an instant in time, the term is also colloquially used as Midwinter to refer to the day on which it occurs. More evident to those in high latitudes, this is the shortest day, and longest night, and the sun’s daily maximum position in the sky is the lowest. Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time. – Winter solstice at Wikipedia

That last part is especially interesting to me – that most cultures have holy days around this time of year, that many of the festivals involve pretty lights or candles (to signify the darkness and cold days), family gatherings (to signify love and support despite the potential affects of SAD), gifts (to show how we are cared for), and resolutions (symbolizing rebirth and renewal). And to me, the ritual that is the least stripped of human prosthelytizing is the one that celebrates the earth, the seasons, the move around the sun, the changes in our relationship to light.

I’ve often mentioned the Wheel of the Year here on Sugarbutch, and have often said it is something that I’d like to more intentionally observe. And the combination of Kristen’s obsession with eating seasonal, local foods, means that I’d really love to throw four wheel parties next year, at the solstices and equinoxes. (There are four lesser holy-days too – candlemas, beltaine, lammas, samhain – that occur at the midpoint between a solstice and an equinox, and I would love to do something to acknowledge them, too, but I’m not sure what – probably not a whole dinner party, just lighting a candle and acknowledging the day – perhaps with a blog post – would be plenty.)

So, Kristen made dinner: butternut squash soup with ginger, garlic, and peanuts, kale with garlic and butter, baked sweet potato fries, and cardamom-orange sugar cookies, on Monday, December 21st, in celebration of solstice, and we talked about the rebirthing process, the things we wanted to allow to blossom in our lives as the days get longer through to the summer solstice.

This is the post where I wish all my best to YOU all, readers and visitors, friends and strangers. Thank you for reading, for following along, and I wish you the best and brightest in this dark time of year.

Oh, but my spiritual beliefs probably aren’t why you’re reading this post. What you really want to know about is the giveaway, right?

Well here it is: to warm your midwinter, I’m giving away one single two-month long level 2 membership to The Crash Pad Series, which I am constantly touting as THE BEST QUEER PORN available. Hands down. No contest. Anytime Kristen and I watch anything else, we usually say, “well, it’s not Shine, but …”

I made up this rule for myself oh, about ten years ago, that I would never pay for porn on the internet. And it’s pretty easy to keep that rule, with all those big amateur porn sites and an easy enough Google image search and all the trailers and freebies at the good porn sties, sure. But as soon as I got a Crash Pad membership, I kicked myself: why didn’t I do that sooner?! It really is that good. It might not even be the best queer porn, it might be the best porn, PERIOD. The skill and smarts and aesthetic and filmmaking … even the premise! I love it. I anxiously await the next episode.

There are so many different types of queer folks depicted in their scenes, no matter what kind of queer you are attracted to, or what kind of sex you like to watch, there is tons of it in The Crash Pad Series. Strap ons. Vibrators. Punky girls. Tattoos. Piercings. Shaved heads. Femmes. Butches. Long-term lovers. Skilled rope work. Belts. Flogging. Slapping. Fisting. Anal. Knives. Force. Negotiation. Melted wax. Punching. Threesomes. Squirting. Sweet lovemaking. Begging. Dirty talk. Oh yeah, there is a little bit of everything.

For some of my favorite scenes from The Crash Pad Series, check My Favorite Scenes in Porn Flicks. And if that’s not enough, watch this teaser, featuring Julie and Michelle Aston.

The Crash Pad Series also puts out DVDs, many of which I have reviewed here on the site, but for about the price of the DVD, I’d recommend instead a one-month level 3 membership, which has permissions to download the videos that you like. Then you can test it out, go through and find the ones you want, and download them. The DVDs generally have about 5 scenes on them, but with a site membership you get access to every episode, and can save your favorites.

Tell ‘em Sinclair sent you. (That’s the same as using that link < —- to purchase a membership, since if you do it through my links on this site, I get a little bitty kickback from the purchase. I’ll even do my Elvis impression for you: thank ya, thank ya very much.)

How generous of The Crash Pad Series to offer a membership to one of you lucky folks! Thanks!

So, to enter this little giveaway:

Leave a comment with one thing about the holidays: why you love them, what your favorite family ritual is, how hard it is to be queer and deal with extended homophobic family (h/t Essin’ Em), the ways you keep your kinkiness under wraps in order to be “appropriate,” your blessings for brightness in the wintertime, your favorite thing about winter, the way you celebrate this time of year, or something else entirely. You get the idea. The winner will be chosen at random from the comments on Monday, 28 December, after we’ve all had a chance to eat with our families and come back to our queer lives.

Reconciling the Identities of Feminist & Butch Top

I received quite a few questions about my recent post, Kristen’s Homework, especially around how the power imbalance asymmetric balance of power works when adding our gender dynamics into the mix. It’s really hard to explain, and sometimes hard for me to feel like what I’m doing is in question. I do want to keep writing about how my relationship with Kristen is evolving, and this is precisely one of the reasons I haven’t been writing about the sex we’ve been having as much as I used to – because we have entered into some domination and submission in lots of aspects of our relationship, and I’m just not sure how to express that well, yet.

But I would like to try. I’m working on an introduction to what we do, and our basic relationship assumptions, as we explore d/s more and more, so hopefully that will fill in some gaps.

Meanwhile, here’s some more back story to how I got to where I am.

I wrote this piece for Shira Tarrant‘s recent Feminist Sex reading for her book Men & Feminism (Seal Press, part of Seal Studies) at Bluestockings radical activist bookstore here in New York City. In brainstorming about the concept of “feminist sex,” most of what came up for me was the conflict around being a feminist and being someone kinky, specifically someone masculine, a top, and a sadist. This piece begins to try to explain how I’ve reconciled those identities. I do feel like I’ve made peace with their coexistence in me, but I am still struggling with how to articulate how that happened and what it means now.


Feminist Sex: Reconciling the Identities of Feminist & Butch Top

A few years ago, a girl I dated wanted me to slap her. To hit her face. She asked for it specifically, I still remember the conversation on the subway and the precise way that she looked over at me and said, I want you to hit me. Something big swelled in me and I wanted to, I wanted to feel the sting of impact on my palm and see her recoil, to do it again before she was ready, to push something so sensational onto her experience that she was jolted to the edges of her skin and had to feel, to feel herself, to feel me, to be fully present.

This girl and I had already done some other light percussion play, using my hand, or even a paddle, me hitting her ass and thighs, the fleshy parts that I couldn’t possibly do damage to beyond some light bruising. She liked it, we both did. It made sense to escalate, at the time, to something new; we were deepening both our romantic relationship – our trust in each other – and our power dynamic, and it was time to push a little, to see where we could go.

I was terrified. After she asked, after we talked about it extensively, I even tried, a few times, when we were in bed and she said, hit me, now, please, and I couldn’t, I’d bring my hand up and chicken out.

I was terrified of what it would mean for me, as a masculine person, as a butch, to be more dominating in bed. To like it. To like to cause someone pain. To like to cause a woman pain. To hit someone in the face. To hit a woman in the face, to sexualize that act and that power dynamic specifically.

I was paralyzed by that terror – I wanted to do it, the idea, the very thought of it, the discussions with her, turned me on, the girl I was dating wanted me to do it, but I couldn’t.

Beyond wanting to do it, this was the kind of sex act that was in the sex life I was dreaming of having. This was what haunted my fantasies and what I looked for in porn that I watched and erotica that I read. And I was on a very serious quest to figure out how to have the sex that I wanted. I’d just gotten out of a bed-death relationship; I felt like I barely escaped a noose. I was committed to studying sex hard, to figuring out: what I wanted, how to get what I wanted, how to build a relationship with that as an element, how to maintain something sane and hot over a long period of time. That’s precisely why I started this site, Sugarbutch.

I’m a sadist, and a top. That means I like to dominate. And already there are conclusions being drawn by those of you out there who think well of course you like to dominate, you’re masculine, and that’s prescribed for you or in other words you misogynistic asshole, I already knew you were one of “those” butches who needs to make up for your inadequacies by dominating women. Because that’s what we think, isn’t it? Maybe not consciously, but a little bit, somewhere in our brains, we associate these particular identity alignments – butch equals masculine equals top equals dominating equals men’s prescribed gender role. We’re relieved when they line up how we think they will, or maybe we are challenged and uncomfortable – though perhaps in a stimulated way – when they misalign.

There’s something supposedly anti-feminist about wanting to dominate. There’s something in the feminist rhetoric which says we are all equal especially in bed, so that means I-do-you-you-do-me, or that means we have sex neither above nor below each other, and with no reproduced heteronormative misogynistic patriarchal power dynamic.

But I didn’t want that. I’d had that, in early girlfriends, but it didn’t keep things hot enough to sustain a relationship. And secretly, I want to dominate. In bed. I wanted to top and control and hit and demean and humiliate.

Power dynamic theory has many similarities to gender theory. Like the gender identities of butch and femme are not reproductions but pastiche copies at best of prescribed societal gender roles, putting on and taking off power roles in power sex play is a pastiche reproduction of power in our lives, of which there are thousands of examples of interaction on a daily basis. And when we can put on and take off these roles intentionally, the act of adopting becomes further proof that the power positioning in our lives is not inherent, or “real,” or immobile, or prescribed, or “normal,” but part of a hierarchical society of social power that can be deconstructed.

As in my experience with coming to a butch gender identity, when I finally came to a power identity that really deeply aligned with something inside me that just clicked and make sense, I felt like I was coming home to myself in a way I hadn’t experienced previously. Through my personality and tendencies and psychology I have my own set of quirks and workings and functions, and for whatever reason, it makes a lot of sense to me to let out some of my power and control issues in the bedroom by being dominating. It is deeply satisfying the way a glorious meal or a delicious book is satisfying, one of my life’s greatest pleasures. I’m not sure I understand why I like what I like, but what I like does not harm others, and is consensual, and I know myself well enough to accept what I like as what I like – and to let that be a simple truth.

How did this change for me? What happened between the time when I was terrified to slap a girl in the face and today, now, where I am fairly comfortable in my identity as a top, and even as a sadist, as someone who enjoys hurting someone else?

Little by little, I had lovers who pushed me, lovers who were more experienced as bottoms than I was as a top, lovers who wanted more from me and who could take more than I was able to give who made enough space for me to walk into a bigger version of myself and occupy it, try it on.

I did come to a reconciliation with my feminist self and my top self. Phrases – like men should not hurt women or rather masculine people should not hurt feminine people, or even more broadly that people should not hit each other and violence is bad bad bad – I had accepted those phrases as Ultimate Truths, and I started to understand deeper the ways that sensation was not violence, and hitting was a way to be sparked into the present moment, to release whatever our musculature was holding onto, and to deepen trust between people and in a relationship.

I didn’t realize how little trust I had in others until I started playing deeper with BDSM. Because I would tell myself, it’s okay, she wants to do it, but then I would think, does she really? Maybe she wants to because I want to. Maybe she wants to because society tells her she should want to. Maybe she wants to for fucked-up reasons, like she thinks it’s okay for her to feel humiliated and less than me because of her own internal misogyny … but that was me not trusting that what she said was true. That she wanted me to hit her face. And that was me, further controlling both myself, her, and our relationship, in unhealthy ways, because I didn’t trust her.

When I started playing out my control issues in BDSM, in the bedroom, in sex play, the control issues I had in my relationships began to heal.

This was an issue of agency, in feminist terms – my not trusting my lover to communicate with me what she wanted, to explain to me how far I could go, and my not trusting that she would let me know if I was going too far or too hard, either with her physical communication or her words or both, was me not trusting in the agency of my lover. I have to trust that she will tell me, she will let me know, if I am going too far. And I have to listen, apologize, understand what I did, and trust that she will accept that it was an accident, a mistake, and that I’ll do whatever she needs to feel safe again.

In learning my way into being a top, I had many, many conversations about consent and intention and communication, I talked to my lovers when things broke down or didn’t seem to work and I learned more about my own tendencies when things went well. I figured out that sometimes, it was really hard for me to be with someone who bottomed so well, and who I trusted so deeply, that I did harder, scarier, bigger things with them that took me even deeper into my topping and dominance and sadism and power, and sometimes that meant I needed to be comforted afterward, to be told I liked that, and that wasn’t too much, and you didn’t hurt me, and that was what I wanted and thank you. Hearing those things is always a relief.

(I give good aftercare too, of course. But top aftercare is less common in the BDSM world – we don’t usually talk about the toll it takes for the dominant to dominate.)

I practiced, a lot, to be bold and trusting through my topping. I tried scary things and it turned out they weren’t so scary, they were in fact incredibly hot. I got to know myself, and I learned more about the things I wanted to play with, and I talked to smart people whose experiences were similar to what I was going through and who assured me it was possible to come out the other side of it a masculine, queer, butch, sadistic top feminist.

And whatdayaknow, here I am.

How to Wear Red Lipstick, from How to Sew A Button Author Erin Bried

buttonI was lucky enough to catch the book release party for Erin Bried’s new book How to Sew A Button and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew this past week, which was much fun. Erin interviewed grandmothers to gather all this knowledge, and the result is a lovely little book, easy to thumb through and includes useful and interesting things for any reader.

Though it’s marketing seems to be pretty girly, there are plenty of tips for butches like me. (I did pick up a copy for myself.)

Here’s Erin’s first little blurb from her website’s blog, which I think sums it up well:

If you’ve thumbed through the first couple of pages of my book, How to Sew a Button, then you know that until recently, I was pretty hopeless on the home front. Case in point: I actually once baked a strawberry-rhubarb pie, using strawberries and Swiss chard. (I mean, chard does look a little bit like rhubarb, right? Let me tell you, it sure doesn’t taste like it.)

Anyway, after baking that lousy pie, I had an epiphany: Not knowing how to do stuff for myself is not only disempowering, but also, especially in this crap economy, downright irresponsible. So, in writing my book, I set out to learn everything I needed to know to feel confident, simplify my life and save money.

And who better to turn to for that advice than our grandmothers, especially those who’ve survived The Great Depression? They certainly know how to make due with what they have. From interviewing them, I’ve learned important lessons about cooking, entertaining, saving, and loving—and I’m going to keep learning more stuff everyday.

She also has some video demos! I thought some of you might particularly like these.

How to Wear Red Lipstick:

How to Tie A Tie (on somebody super cute):

A few more demo videos – like how to make a pie and how to fold a fitted sheet – are on the How to Sew A Button site.

Pick up How to Sew A Button on Amazon.com, or your local independent bookseller (if you’d like them to be around next holiday season too).

Year One With Kristen (Happy Anniversary)

Today, December 13th, marks the anniversary of my first date with Kristen. I didn’t actually tell the story of how we met, so here’s a short version:

I was invited by a friend of mine, Mr. M, to speaking on a panel at the university where he went to school, in Connecticut, in November last year. It was one of the first big speaking gigs I’ve done, actually. Kristen also went to school there, and they knew each other. Mr. M introduced Kristen and I at the panel before it was starting, we said polite hellos. I remember her smile, remember thinking she was cute and femme. As it got a bit busier, and Mr. M and I got comfortable at the front of the room, Kristen approached us again and stood in front of us.

“My ex just walked in,” she said.

“Want me to beat him up?” I looked up at her, presuming her ex was a trans guy.

“She’s a she,” she said, “and no.” She thought I didn’t know she was queer. Oh, I knew.

“Well then,” I shifted, “want to make out with me?” To make her ex jealous, of course.

She blushed a little, looked down, giggled, “Um … nooo.”

Oh yeah she did. Interesting.

I think we said some other things about exes and shared space and events, but she took her seat shortly after and the panel began. I was listed on this panel under my other name, so I introduced myself, saying, “I’m also known as Sinclair Sexsmith, and I run the online writing project Sugarbutch Chronicles.”

There were a couple of gasps. One girl dug her nails into the arm of the girl next to her and widened her eyes. Kristen, meanwhile, had this little knowing smirky smile on her face (a smile I would later get to know quite well).

Later, she tagged along with the panel as we all went out to dinner after, and I knew there was chemistry. I’m not sure how it happened exactly, but eventually I took the empty seat next to her, and everyone else was at the opposite end of the long table.

“I have a confession to make,” she said.

I raised my eyebrows. Oh? Already?

“I read your blog.”

“Ah.”

“I have so much to talk to you about!” And so we did. I remember specifically a big conversation about books, and how much she loves reading fiction; I recommended The Book of Salt as something queer that my bookgroup had just read. She mentioned that she was planning to move back to New York City and that she came and visited Mr. M very frequently, nearly every weekend. She lived in Connecticut, but I gave her my email address, and we got in touch and made a date for the next time she was in New York. And, well, you already know all about that first date.

That she was familiar with my work online wasn’t a problem. That I wanted to write about her and the sex we were having wasn’t a problem, either – she has often said she likes to be written about, a lot. I have written less about her and the details of our relationship here than I have about other girls, mostly because I am busy telling her about my interpretations of our relationship, instead of everybody except her. I don’t want to write myself into a relationship I’m not having. Sometimes, I want to keep the things between us just between us.

Also, some of the sex and power dynamics we’ve been exploring are hard to write about. The Daddy/girl roles, the d/s that we’ve taken outside of the bedroom are hard to explain and articulate – but I would like to try, and I do hope to keep challenging myself to articulate the things that we play with.

I am so, so lucky to have found someone to explore these things with, someone I trust deeply, someone who I know will tell me if things don’t feel right, someone who will push back on me and stand up for the things she thinks are important, someone who is not afraid to be honest. It’s hard to find someone to go this deep into sex play with, it’s hard to find someone stable, who knows themselves, who is strong and capable. I’m so, so lucky.

I’m actually writing this (and setting it to publish in the future) two days ago, because this weekend, right now in fact, Kristen and I rented a cabin out in the woods with a big fireplace and a well-stocked kitchen outside of cell phone range. I packed two of my For Your Nymphomation cases (the Flogger case and the XL Adult Toybox) with toys and ropes and cocks and restraints and the spreader bar and the throe and a particular special piece of jewelry I expect her to wear for part of the weekend. She’s packing some very nice things, the liberator lingerie, her red apron, and lots of food. She’s in charge of cooking this weekend, and she has an extensive, romantic menu planned, including fondue, peanut butter cookies, stir-fried vegetables, her famous buttermilk biscuits, bloody marys, brownies – all my favorites. She will also be providing me with wine and whiskey, as needed, on demand.

What a year it’s been.

I’ve never known myself as well as I do now, and I’ve never felt so good about a relationship. One year into my relationship with The Ex (who maybe needs a name at this point) we were already falling apart, already not having enough sex, already fallen into lesbian bed death patterns, already not talking to each other, already not being honest. None of my relationship/flings since have reached a year, none of them have lasted longer than six months, and most of them were much shorter. Not to compare her to others – really she is incomparable. The places we have reached are so far beyond what any of my past relationships have been able to get to. And things are just consistently good, consistently building – even when we have disagreements, or when we don’t understand each other, we are so good at talking through it, we are so good at being honest and kind to each other in ways that have been so important and impressive to me.

There are a lot more places I want to go, and she and I always have a list of things we want to do more of (rope and other restraints, anal, daddy/girl scenes instead of just talk), and this relationship just feels so full of potential, so full of promise, so full of love.

The Dirtiest Kristen Stories

Today is my one year anniversary of dating Kristen. There’s another post coming shortly about our year together, but while that’s coming, here are some of my favorite stories of her from this past year. Many of the most viewed posts on Sugarbutch are stories about Kristen, though to be honest we have had sex probably hundreds of times more than are written about on this site. Sometimes I feel guilty for not keeping you updated about all of the awesome fun we have in bed, but hey, I bet you would rather I was having this awesome fun than interrupting it in order to write about it, right?

Here are some of my – and your – favorites:

My Slutty Little Girl, April 2, 2009:

I pushed her back on the bed easily. Kneed her legs apart and pressed my cock up against her, bare, through my slacks. Kissed her, hard, felt her body under me.

I pulled back after a minute and lifted myself up. “Take my dick out,” I ordered softly.

She did. Unbuckled, unzipped, palmed it in her hand, let out a low satisfied hum of pleasure when she touched it. I tightened my harness, lowered myself back on top of her, kissed her neck. “I want to fuck your mouth.”

She arched in response, but whispered, “But I want you to fuck me.”

I almost laughed. Her desire handed to me on a silver platter, I took it gratefully. “No.”

“Please, baby, I need it, I want you to fuck my pussy.”

I do like the way she begs. I nearly acquiesced, but said “no” again, pulled back to shift to my knees on the bed. Took her hair in my fist as she bent in front of me. “Do it real pretty, and I’ll fuck you.”

(Read the entire story)

Wait For Me On Your Knees, January 29, 2009:

t the dining room table in her living room. She sits on my lap, kisses me. I pull her hair and move my mouth to her neck.

“Ohh yes, yes,” she breathes.

“Mmm, I like it when you say that. Say yes again,” I demand softly, next to her ear. She hears me, and says nothing. She bites her lip and looks right at me, which tells me she’s refusing to say it. Am I pushing her too far? Does she know – she must know – that saying yes is playing with consent, that I am warming her up for saying no. Does she feel pressed? Pressured? I study her face, wait for her to say it for what seems like minutes. “Say it,” I say again, low, with a grip on her hair, desire and dominance building in me. I pull back a little to get enough distance between us so I can hit her. I wonder how fast I’ll have to do it for her to not see it coming. I want her to be surprised.

Underneath her resistance, she’s got that tiny self-satisfied smirk on her face.

She is surprised. A quick, hard smack against her cheek. Then five, six, softer, in rapid succession, warming her up. And another, stronger. Another. Her whole head turns on impact. I don’t stop. Harder. I vary the rhythm and let her have a breath, a quiet moment in between, when she straightens her body and feels the sting.

This is the hardest I’ve slapped her, but I can feel the way she can take it, now, differently. She’s not scared or wincing but open and accepting, drinking in the sensation.

I stop. Pull back a little and watch her recover.

When she can, she whispers, “yes,” hand to her stinging cheek, eyes dark and smoky and submissive, that look, that look, that strong and active giving over that makes my knees weak (and oh I’m glad I’m sitting down).

I kiss her. Smooth her cheek with my fingertips, feel the warmth with my lips. “Good,” I say between kisses. “Good girl.”

(Read the entire thing)

“I’m Kind of … Insatiable.” (aka, our first date), December 15, 2008:

We lay together and I catch my breath, flex and stretch my fingers. I run my palm along her hips, the sides of her body, and she is all nerve endings and sensitive skin, writhing under my touch, rubbing her feet against the blanket on the bed. I could take her again. Could roll her into her back and listen to her breathe and moan.

I like the way her moaning becomes practically laughter as she gets closer. How she turns her head to the side and strains with every muscle like she’s trying to press all the edges of her, like she’s going to tear her way out of herself, la petite mort indeed.

She shifts next to me, I balance on my elbows on top of her again. I still have my tee shirt, my slacks, on. She’s stripped bare.

“Did I mention I’m kind of … insatiable?” she asks, a little embarrassed, a little shy, a little excited.

I grin. So am I.

My hand between her legs again, my mouth at her neck. “You’re wet.”

“Yes,” she breathes in my ear.

(Read the entire thing.)

Her Dirty Talk Got Me Off. Twice. March 31, 2009:

“Fuck my hole,” she whispered, “take me, fuck me hard, pound your big cock in me deep. I’m your slutty little girl.”

(Read the entire thing.)

Rocking Chair Blow Job, January 12, 2009:

“That’s right baby, suck it.”

I lean back again and my dick swells, puckers when she sucks hard and fast. She keeps it deep in her mouth and pulses and I cry out. Fuck.

I pull her up again and lean forward to kiss her, mouth swollen and red, opening for me as I keep my hand on the back of her head, on her cheek, on her jaw, holding her just where I want her, tongue in her mouth and she sucks that too. I reach my other hand down between her legs and push the thin fabric of her panties aside, enter her easily with two fingers and swirl them over her clit. She gasps.

“I like the way you suck me off,” I say, low, into her ear. “Your mouth feels so good. Oh god you’re so wet,” I trace my fingers along her lips and flick her clit, swollen, thick and sensitive. She moans.

“I want you to stand up, bend over, pull off your panties and hand them to me. Understand?” I pull back and remove my hand and she nods. “Do it then.”

She does.

(Read the entire thing.)

Hogtied, May 28, 2009:

After a minute I catch her by the hair. “You’re starting to squirm.” I say, low in her ear.

She breathes out, a tiny voice. “Uh huh.”

I’m still mostly clothed, but my cock is out, hard, stiff from my fly. I kneel behind her, push on her shoulderblades so she’s facedown on the bed again, and tease her pussy with the head of it. “Waiting to get fucked?”

“Yes,” she says in a small voice.

“What?”

“Yes.” Louder.

“Yes what?”

“Yes, I’m waiting to get fucked. Fuck me, please, please, put your cock in me, baby, ohhh … ” and I do, of course I do, when she asks so pretty like that.

(Read the entire thing.)

Am I forgetting your favorite Kristen story?

An Emasculating Truth

Update: This documentary is part of the recent ad campaign by Dockers about masculinity. I tweeted about these ads recently, Sociological Images has a good article on it too.

Bitch Magazine has a good post about the film, and I’m supposed to be running my last minute errands and getting ready to go away with Kristen for the weekend, so I can’t spend a lot of time fixing this post.

I did think the film’s perspective was a little questionable … Sounds like there might still BE a movie, but it’s clearly got a secondary agenda: aside from being sponsored by Dockers to some degree or another, it’s attempting to police masculinity as something fixed, limited, and engrained, and puts absolutely no value on the range of accepted masculine expression.

Man, this Dockers campaign is making the rounds, huh? I’ve got lots to say about it. But ack, I gotta go! I’ll be away for the weekend, but don’t worry, I have a couple posts set in my absence, so there will still be Sugarbutchery for you to read. Be back Tuesday.

A new film on masculinity, An Emasculating Truth, has just released the trailer. I have some skepticism about the perspective that this film takes, based on the clips in the trailer, but I am looking forward to seeing it.

Seems like there are a lot of people writing and thinking about intentional, radical masculinity these days! Or perhaps it’s just that I’ve stepped up my noticing of it, so it seems like there’s more. It’s a big, significant issue, and I like that there are more perspectives on it all the time.

Kiss & Tell on Tuesday, Dec 15 in NYC

I’ll be reading at Abiola Abrams‘s new series Kiss & Tell here in New York City on Tuesday, December 15th at 7pm. Abiola is one of the other models in the 2010 Sex Blogger Calendar, and she and I (along with Audacia Ray and Shira Tarrant) were on a panel on feminist sex recently, and I was glad to get to meet her. She’s got some great stuff going on and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

I don’t know what I’m reading yet, but it’ll be juicy. Perhaps I’ll see you there!

Abiola’s Kiss & Tell
Storytelling & Performance Reading Series
A Party Like A Book Star-Studded Monthly Soiree
Bestselling Authors, Skanks, Intellectuals, Comics & Everyone In Between
Every 3rd Tuesday at MADAME X
94 West Houston Street between LaGuardia & Thompson
FREE with $5 Kiss & Tell Champagne Cocktails and $4 beers
Drinks & Mingle at 7PM;
Show begins at 7:30PM SHARP

December 15 Premiere Show:

Debut Show Honoree CANDIDA ROYALLE, author of How to Tell A Naked Man What to Do and Feminist Erotica Pioneer.

Inaugural Readers & Performers: (alphabetical order): Mo Beasley, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Anna David, Dave & Ethan, Hollie Harper, Demetria Lucas, Nando Rodriguez, Candida Royalle, Sinclair Sexmith, Kenya Stevens aka JuJuMama, Urban Gypsy, featuring hot Burlesque Dancers SHiNE & Lady Luscious.

Your personal invitation to be in attendance comes from Miss Abiola herself:

More information at abiolaabrams.com

The Sugarbutch 2009 Holiday Gift Guide

There are some standard gendered gifts – belt buckles, cuff links, handkerchiefs, pocket or wrist watches, ties & tie accessories, makeup, perfume, jewelry, lingerie – and while I do in general highly recommend them (though maybe not makeup and perfume unless you know what they like), I want to branch out to more than just gendered beauty products.

(You can of course find any and all of those things I just mentioned on Etsy, and they will be amazing and worth it.)

Consider some more important things while you’re buying your gifts this year: SUPPORT LOCAL ARTISTS. Buy from craft fairs. We artists & activists are the ones who have been hit hardest by these troubled economic times. Consider doing your best to put your money back into the communities you love to keep them strong and thriving. Try to avoid shopping from Amazon (but if you do, follow links from your favorite websites who are Amazon affiliates – like me – before you check out to help us get a small kickback from your purchase).

Consider giving less stuff. Always give less stuff. There’s a great anti-stuff holiday gift guide at Get Rich Slowly this year. Consider art memberships to art galleries, sculpture parks, web sites. Consider ordering from friends who make their living through their craft.

Pay artists. Support us with money. Donate, if you can, to Scarleteen – or me – if you want to see us continuing to do this work. See also: Why I am not afraid to take your money by Amanda Fucking Palmer, and The Season of Freaking Out by Susie Bright.

Alright: back to the gift guide. Here are some ideas for folks, regardless of gender.

For Writers

  • Tul pens – particularly the needle point (0.5) gel or rollerball. I know, I’m old school, but I still write a large part of my work by hand in a notebook. So I am always going through pens, and always finding new ones. The Tul pens are my new favorites, but others include Pilot Precise Grip (extra fine, black); Pilot Precise V5, Staedtler Liquid Point, Pentel Energel Liquid Gel Ink, and the Bic 537R.
  • Lined notebooks – I am constantly going through these, and it’s wonderful to have a backstock on my shelves. Writers tend to be superstitiously specific about their notebooks, but I am not – though I love nice paper (like the clarefontaine notebooks which are part velum), I can write in anything. It’s about the words, not the object.
  • New Yorker magazine subscription – after a couple different very impressive articles recently, I think I’d like to keep up with this more often than I do. It’ll be hard – it’s so much reading! – but I want to try. This is on my wishlist this season.

For Chefs

  • Salad Spinner – not quite a perfect wintertime locavore tool, but something I’ve been wanting to add to my arsenal for a while now
  • Dutch Oven – Kristen has one of these on her wishlist. Versatile and specific baking tool.
  • Cast Iron Pan – a really good one. I love mine, they are broken in and 100% vegetarian and beautiful. Highly recommend a nicely sized one for the aspiring chef or cook you know.
  • Good Knives – I have one, but I would like one more, perhaps more than one more. I’d like to retire my tacky beginner knife block, eventually. Always a welcome gift for those who work with lots of vegetables

For Lushes

  • Spirits – a lovely bottle of whatever they drink – or an upgrade of whatever they drink – is always a great holiday gift. Myself, I am a whiskey guy, preferably bourbon, and lately I have been loving Bulleit Bourbon, Hudson Baby Bourbon (going to the distillery for this one soon! So excited!), Makers Mark, and Woodford Reserve. Of course, Jameson, Jameson 12 year, and Gentleman’s Jack are quite welcome in my house at any time.
  • Wine – if you know what someone likes, why not give them a nice upgrade? A $20 or $30 bottle of wine is usually too much for me to spend on myself for dinner, but whoa it’d be a lovely and very welcome gift.
  • Bourbon glasses – I just bought a cheesy set of 4 for $2, but someday I would like to have some real bourbon snifters. Heavy ones, very plain design, very classic. Someday.

For Gadget Lovers

For Dapper Folks

  • Leather care – do you know this person has a fairly extensive leather collection, be it boots or harnesses or jackets or whatnot? Perhaps they could use a refill on some of their leather care products. I go through Saddle Soap, Mink Oil, and black polish pretty frequently, and some of my brushes could use an upgrade. I’m sure if someone sneaked into my shoe shine kit they could tell what it was I needed to replace.
  • Metal pocket comb – I’ve always wanted one of these. Retro, suave.
  • Pocket knife – someday perhaps, I’ll get a nice pocket blade. This is on my general eternal wish list. To be honest, I don’t know a lot about the craft that is pocket knives, but I bet I’d love to learn.

For Folks who Grumble About the Cold

  • Cozy Robe or a Kimono Robe – For those of you who don’t like to wear winter clothes (ahem, you know who you are), a nice cozy robe might be a wonderful wintery addition. The problem is getting one that is sexy and sleek instead of bulky, but still warm. I haven’t solved that dilemma yet, but I have some ideas …
  • Cozy hat & gloves & scarves- I’m thinking extra soft and warm. Who cares that ze has some from last season? These get old and worn through and threadbare, and upgrades are always welcome. Search your local craft fair for these, find some beautiful local soft soft soft wool.
  • Knee socks – Oh Sockdreams. They border on pornographic. Order the knee socks for the folks whose legs get cold in the winter. Check out their arm warmers & leg warmers and fishnets & fencenets too.

Whew! That’s a lot of little bits & ideas, but hopefully something useful. I’ve been thinking a lot about the separation of personality from gender lately, so this particular list reflects that – these gifts are not based on gender, but based on interest, for the most part.

What’s that? You want some books & media for the smarty pants gender theorist on your list? Oh! Well, check out my Amazon Sugarbutch store (then go buy your books at your local queer feminist activist bookstore, if you want them to be around next holiday season)!

If you need a little somethin’-somethin’ for the smarty sexy people in your life, consider one of my Sugarbutch Star Chapbooks. Only $10, and much easier to snuggle up with (and jack off to) than your laptop. Support your local, queer, feminist, sex-positive activist artists this holiday season! Send us support (in the form of money)!

If that’s not enough ideas for ya, go take a look at 2007’s holiday gift guide and 2008’s holiday gift guide. You’re bound to find something in there!

Oh yeah, one more thing: if you’re on Fetlife (and I am, under the user name mrsexsmith), you can sit on Santa’s lap over on Fetlife and tell him if you’ve been naughty or nice, and possibly win some pretty fabulous gifts.

I probably didn’t mention that one thing YOU really are wishing for – what is it? Which sex toys do you wish you could add to your arsenal? Which beauty products are you coveting? Are you desperate for new ties or new leather boots? What do you always wish someone would buy you, and never get? Femmes, help me out here: what should I get Kristen? (Shhh.)

My Favorite Scenes in Porn Flicks

After I mentioned my favorite porn scene of all time in the Strap On Motel review the other day (which happens to be Dylan Ryan and Trucker Cash in The Crash Pad Series episode 1), I started thinking about my other Very Favorite Sex Scenes Of All Time.

I’ve been watching a TON of DVDs lately, and I’ve said quite a few times lately that queer porn is just exploding, so it’s time to do a list like this. Generally, these scenes are butch/femme with some sort of power dynamics, top/bottom or otherwise.

Here’s a list of scenes that come to mind:

  • Syd Blakovich & Madison Young in Champion (Pink & White/Shine Louise Houston)
  • Jiz Lee & Dallas Fivestar in Speakeasy (No Fauxxx/Courtney Trouble)
  • Dylan Ryan & Trucker Cash in Crash Pad Series (Episode 1) (Pink & White/Shine Louise Houston)
  • Kuma & Julie Warren in Crash Pad Series (Episode 44) (Pink & White/Shine Louise Houston)
  • Jake & Princess Donna in Crash Pad Series (Episode 6) (Pink & White/Shine Louise Houston)
  • Roxie Hart & Derrick Pierce in Chemistry 3 (Tristan Taormino)
  • Derrick Pierce & Satine Phoenix in Rough Sex (Tristan Taormino)
  • Dylan Ryan’s solo in Crash Pad Series (Episode 17) (Pink & White/Shine Louise Houston)
  • Carson & Syd Blakovich in Crash Pad Series (Episode 33) (Pink & White/Shine Louise Houston)
  • Dylan, Jiz Lee, & Jo in the original Crash Pad DVD (Pink & White/Shine Louise Houston)
  • Roxie Ryder & Dusty Ryder in the original  Crash Pad DVD (Pink & White/Shine Louise Houston)
  • Jackie Strano & two others (?) in Sugar High Glitter City (SIR Productions)
  • Lorelei Lee & Billy Castro in Speakeasy (No Fauxxx/Courtney Trouble)
  • Dylan Ryan & Javier in Champion (Pink & White/Shine Louise Houston)

Some notes … I have yet to see No Fauxxx’s Roulette, No Fauxxx’s Nostalgia, Belladonna’s Strapped Dykes, the upcoming film Taxi, and lots of really good stuff by Madison Young … perhaps by the time this project is finished, I will have, and can add or subtract as needed.

This list is not necessarily in order, just a list. And a work in progress that I will keep adding to as my search goes on.

So, I gotta know – what’s your favorite? What scene do you go back to over & over? What one particular pairing (or trio) of folks gets you every time?

Review: Black Cat G (Harness)

blackcatAre you getting sick of harness reviews yet? I hope not, because I still haven’t found The Perfect Harness (which may or may not actually exist).

This is the Black Cat G harness by Aslan Leather, sent to me from Eden Fantasys. Let’s break it down by the basic harness features:

Material
The Black Cat G is vinyl, which is why I picked it up, actually. Seems like most harnesses – the really nice ones, anyway – are leather, but I’ve been having trouble keeping my leather harnesses clean, so I thought I might try a waterproof material instead. It’s alright – definitely easier to clean, and I’m less worried about it, but the straps are pretty wide and the material is not very pliable. I recently reviewed the new one-strap version of the Jaguar harness, called the Jaguar G, also from Aslan Leather, and the leather is just so buttery and soft and beautiful, something this thick and dense and kind of, well, hard, is fairly unpleasant, especially when it’s between my legs and pressed up against my, ahem, slightly more delicate places.

Shape
The front panel of this harness is pretty big. I much prefer minimalistic harnesses (like the Bare as you Dare, though the buckles are weak and it slips a LOT) and the excessive material gets in the way of being pressed skin-to-skin, which I don’t like. I want the harness and cock to feel like part of me, I don’t want it to cover up my skin and make me less sensitive and less feeling of the experience.

This is especially a problem in the triangle front panel part, where the O-ring resides, but it’s also a problem with the straps. It’s kind of nice to have wide straps around my hips, they don’t dig in as much, but the wide strap between my legs pinches and is rather uncomfortable. It’s not so bad in the front, but especially in the back, it’s way too wide.

Buckles & O-Rings
The buckles are standard, locking, and very decent; it doesn’t slip around and since it isn’t leather, it doesn’t stretch with body heat, and stays tight. I like that.

The center strap, that goes through the legs, is connected with snaps instead of buckles, which means that there are only a few options for how tight it can get – I tend to wear harnesses very low on my hips and very tight between my legs, and that’s not possible with this one, because in order for the center strap to be taut it has to be much longer, and the tautness is ultimately most important. So, I don’t like that it snaps instead of buckles (or instead of having D-rings to make the length more variable).

The O-ring is rather difficult … it has two snaps, at the top and bottom, so the ring itself is interchangeable, so you can use any size O-ring (and thus any size cock), but there is also a hole in the front panel behind the O-ring. So you can either put the cock through the panel AND the O-ring, or just put it through the O-ring. The hole in the panel is only 1 3/4″ (and thus not big enough for my favorite go-to cock, the Maverick by Vixskin), and if trying to get a rather big cock into the O-ring without putting it through the panel, it’s hard to get the snaps closed. It’s not really made to use with a cock that is outside of the back panel – but again, Maverick, the cock I use 95% of the time, is too big for the panel, so I this harness isn’t The Perfect Harness.

One Last Thing …

I do like the vinyl material though – I expected it to be kind of squeaky and weird, but I would try another harness that is not leather in my quest.

In going over the Sugarbutch tag for “harness”, I noticed there are some harnesses I’ve reviewed but haven’t posted about here yet, like these two:

joque jaguar G

Buy the Black Cat G harness from Aslan Leather at Eden Fantasys or your local independent feminist queer-friendly sex-positive sex toy shop. Thanks to Eden for providing me with one to review.

Jaguar G - G-string | Review by Sinclair Sexsmith

Visions of Sexual Freedom

Need a fabulous gift this holiday season? Don’t know what to get your (least) favorite boss or your Grandma? Well! Here ya go: the New York City Sex Blogger 2010 Calendar: Visions of Sexual Freedom.

You’re welcome.

This year’s calendar features 16 bloggers, including myself, Audacia Ray, Calico Lane, Abiola Abrams, Jamye Waxman, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Melissa Gira Grant, Elizabeth Wood, and plenty of other hot pinups, and benefits Sex Work Awareness, a fantastic non-profit organization that puts on the annual Speak Up! media training workshop.

This year, I was photographed with Audacia Ray by Amanda Morgan and featured in April – which has my birthday, Sugarbutch’s inception date, and Dacia’s birthday.

ss_cal
Me, my photo in this year’s calendar with Audacia Ray (photographed by Amanda Morgan), and Kristen (and her amazing princess dress) at the Sex Blogger Calendar Party in New York City. Photo by Nick McGlynn (thanks!), more photos from him in this set.

The theme for this calendar was “SEXUAL FREEDOM,” and while Dacia and I were discussing what to do, we both were inspired to feature something very New York-y, since New York has been a big part of sexual awakening for both of us. I moved here almost five years ago now, and my sex life and sexuality has changed significantly since I did.

We talked about iconic photographs and couples that we could imitate or reproduce, and eventually settled on the famous shot of the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square. Amanda was totally game for it (though she insisted that we shoot early in the day so we’d have the best light), I hunted down a sailor suit, Dacia queered up her nurse outfit, and voila, there’s the shot.

Vj_day_kissThe original photograph, V-J Day in Times Square by Alfred Eisenstaedt, was taken just after the radio announcement that World War II was over – that the US had “Victory over Japan” – on August 14, 1945. This is a significant time period particularly for queers in the US, as World War II brought people massively congregating in coastal cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. For the first time in US history, more people lived in urban environments than in rural environments, and suddenly, queers were finding dozens, hundreds of others like us. This led to those sudden “oh my god I’m not alone” revelation moments, the increasing recognition of the systematic marginalization of us because of our sexuality, and, ultimately, activist organization and the birth of the gay rights movement!

Post-WWII and the subsequent activist movements – like the second wave of feminism – also gave rise to all sorts of new sexual activism, which is absolutely the root of the work I do today. Safe sex, STI information, sexual health, sexual choice, sexual advocacy, sexual agency, ability to have control over how many children we have and how far apart they are, birth control, knowledge, BDSM skills, gender theory, power theory … all of that is built upon earlier movements. And all of those movements, and their intersections, allowed me a significant study of gender and sexuality that has lead me here, to Sugarbutch, and to the 2010 New York City Sex Blogger Calendar.

I bet you can think of a couple people on your holiday list who have been nice enough to get a gift like this calendar, hmmmm?

All proceeds from the calendar, don’t forget, go to Sex Work Awareness which puts on the annual Speak Up! media training workshop. Help support the efforts of this wonderful and much-needed organization through the purchase of a calendar!

Calendars ship upon order and cost $20 a piece plus $3.25 for shipping. And – as a special holiday bonus – through the holiday season, when you buy the 2010 Sex Blogger Calendar you will also get a free MP4 download of the 25 minute director’s cut of Audacia Ray’s film Dacia’s Love Machine, which debuted last year in Berlin. (Link to download will be provided on checkout.)

Review: The Crash Pad Series: Volume 5 (DVD)

Another quick little DVD review, this one of The Crash Pad Series: Volume 5 which is just now released by Blowfish.

cpv5It is no secret that I am a big, big fan of The Crash Pad Series. Shine Louise Houston and Pink & White Productions have raised the standards in porn film making so high, I think the porn industry in general will be struggling to catch up for a while. (In fact, Kristen and I just sat down to watch a couple films that a particular unnamed (unmentionable) company sent me to review recently, and I was slack-jawed in awe of just how bad bad porn can be. Holy. Crap. No wonder most people have such awful associations with porn, if things like THAT are what they think of or see!) Shine has spoiled me, big time – I expect the porn that I watch to be respectful, hot, full of desire and chemistry, smart, skilled, diverse, queer, and beautifully filmed … I know that sounds like high standards, but blame it on The Crash Pad! They DO that, constantly!

You can get subscriptions to The Crash Pad Series website, or you can purchase the compiled DVDs by volume. This is the fifth DVD, and though it isn’t the one I would recommend if you’ve never seen The Crash Pad before, it’s got some very interesting scenes and one in particular that I would definitely watch again.

Here’s the description:

The Crash Pad Series: Volume 5 returns to the titular no-holes-barred sex space that caters to an ever-changing group of sexually voracious dykes, femmes, butches, and bois (and even the occasional lucky bio-guy) under the ubiquitous secret surveillance of a mysterious voyeur played by director Shine Louise Houston. This installment features five scenes of wall-to-wall sex, including some dripping candle play, a little bondage, tattooed beauties, strap-on fucking and sucking, and other sundry delights. One standout scene features Kuma (a trans leather daddy with a shaved head and goatee) topping the curvylicious Julie Warren with a pair of floggers, some lashing canes, and an extremely hot choking strap-on blowjob sequence. The final scene has the always-enjoyable Shawn fucking a guy, something of a novelty in the Crash Pad series, though Mickey Mod isn’t averse to sucking Shawn’s big strapped-on cock when the time comes. She rides him vigorously and later rubs one out over his face while he jerks off beneath her — a good time is had by all. The Crash Pad series continues to set the standard for queer indie kinky excellence.

And, though that description of the five different scenes is pretty thorough, here’s my take on ‘em:

Scene 1, August and Stacy Staxxx, features hot wax and some switching. Scene 2 is the porn debut of the Essin’ Em we all know and love, under the name Scarlett Chaos, with the cute toppy boi Rex – make note of Essin’ Em’s fabulous femme red heels that she leaves on, I liked that. Scene 3 features Red and Cyd Loverboy, who are both pretty genderqueer and boyish and I liked the top/bottom dynamic here especially.

Scene 4, however, was exceptional. It features Kuma and Julie Warren, who appear to have a fairly strong daddy/girl thing going on, and definitely seem to have played with each other before. There is a beautiful two-handed flogging, and some lovely caning that made me wince (and also made my inner sadist grin). I liked the sadism and masochism in this scene, more pain than sex really, though Kuma does wield a cock very very well. I loved the skill, and I will watch this one again.

The last scene, 5, features everybody’s favorite queer porn star Syd Blakovich in a scene with cis guy Micky Mod. Interesting, and unusual for The Crash Pad Series, but it is very queer and very well done, and clearly they are both enjoying each other.

It’s not my favorite of The Crash Pad Series, but it is quite good, always beautifully filmed, and interesting.

Buy The Crash Pad Series: Volume 5 and other volumes at Blowfish or your local independent feminist queer-friendly sex toy shop.

Review: Strap On Motel (Film)

straponmotel1It’s time for a little video review from VOD.sugarbutch.net!

This one is Strap On Motel, directed by Maria Beatty and produced by Bleu Productions (same with Post Apocalyptic Cowgirls and The Black Glove & The Elegant Spanking).

After I reviewed Post Apocalyptic Cowgirls and was, ah, less than enthusiastic about it, Dylan Ryan mentioned (on twitter? I can’t remember) that Strap On Motel might be more my style. And I mean, just right there it’s got a lot going for it – strap ons, and Dylan? – YES PLEASE. Definitely sounds like my kind of porn.

Here’s the description:

2009 Feminist Porn Award Nominee – LA, on the west coast, along a humid motorway enlightened by the red neons of the strip clubs. London, a gorgeous and wild brunette, arrives. An erotic dancer in a club, she remembers this particular night where she has been struck by her desire for another dancer, Dylan Ryan, tall sculptural blonde who knows exactly what she wants and how she wants it. Hallucinated flashbacks of their nights of fever at the clandestine and muggy Strap On Motel, haunt her. The chemical reaction of their bodies is explosive, and their desire insatiable! Their mouths devour each other and their burning hot caresses explore all the lesbian kama sutra spiced with dildos. Strap on lesbian sex will never die.

Okay, that sounds alright … I don’t like all the fluff really, “devour” and “burning hot caresses” and “spiced with dildos” … uhwhut? But, whatever. Beatty’s asthetic is beautiful, and Dylan is beautiful, and yay lesbian fucking.

Aside from Dylan, this film also features London, who was also in Post Apocalyptic Cowgirls.

The film opens with a shot of Dylan walking outside, at night, with some commentary that is a little ridiculous and rather forgettable. There are some beautiful scenes. I love the blow job in the beginning. But then, the commentary starts in, completely unnecessarily, and kind of ruins the moans and heavy breathing that was building.

For example, during that gorgeous blow job scene, the narrator says, “She was exciting me so much that she made a huge sticky cock grow from me, erect and ready to satisfy her. A man would have died under her sucking and devourous mouth. But, my cock was the best cock in all the galaxy.” (9:34)

Sorry, but no. I really don’t find that sexy. Later she describes someone’s “deep vagina” and that nearly made me cringe (and made Kristen and I laugh). Tight, yes; wet, yes; deep? Makes it sound like a well or a cavern or crevasse or something.

So, I muted the sound when the narration came on, which unfortunately means I couldn’t really hear the kissing or the gasping, but generally worked to not completely lose my boner. The narrator has a fairly distinct accent, so perhaps it’s a translation issue?, though I think it is more just trying too hard to be sexy.

Regardless, there are some really sexy scenes, and it’s beautifully filmed, as seems to be Beatty’s style. Dylan Ryan (who doesn’t have a website yet, but you can be a fan on Facebook or follow her on twitter, not that I’m stalking her, I’m not, really) is fantastic – it was filmed back when her hair was still blonde, and she even has it back in pigtails in one scene, kind of like how it was in episode 1 of the Crash Pad Series (which still is my favorite porn scene of all time), and I just love that style on her, probably because that’s how she looked when I was introduced to her work.

som1 som1
som1 som1

Strap On Motel is worth seeing, definitely my favorite film from Bleu Productions that I’ve seen so far, though you might have to put up with the unsexy and slightly annoying narration now and then. It’s occasional, though, and only lasts for a few sentences, then it gets back to the very good and rather beautiful fucking.

Watch Strap On Motel at Sugarbutch’s Video On Demand site through Hot Movies 4 Her.

World AIDS Day: Safer Sex, History, and Interconnectivity

To be honest, I don’t use Sugarbutch often enough as a platform (ahem soapbox) to preach about safer sex practices, and I should. It is fucking important. Since I came of age in the ’90s, pretty much after the Lesbian Sex Wars and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, the people in the queer and kinky and sex-positive community I came into pretty much see safer sex as a given, which is what I learned early on in my process of coming to my sexuality. I am unapologetic about my use of safer sex practices, and while some folks I know have that pang of “oh crap I have to put a damper on the mood and go get my gloves and condoms,” I think that’s just part of the fucking.

I do get occasional comments about my stories on Sugarbutch and how the characters do not use condoms or other barriers. There are a couple reasons for that (in my head) but ultimately, whatever excuses I have for it are kind of futile. It doesn’t really matter if I understand it – the point is, I need to be modeling safer sex, so I will make a commitment to do so.

HIV and AIDS are obviously just one small part of what safer sex means. Honestly I’ll have to do some particular research if I want to make a whole safer sex post – I think in a nutshell it means a) use condoms, dams, and gloves and b) talk to your partners about their sexual history and c) get tested.

It also means, however, sexualizing the act of using barriers. Condoms are still seen as ugly, stifling feeling, and inconvenient – and if we can remake that sexy, more people will practice safer sex. I don’t particularly know how to do this, but I do know that in my own sex life, adding condoms into the process of strapping on a cock feels very gendered in a really hot way, and I have sexualized that act quite a bit. I have more to say on this, but until I get my own thoughts together, think about it: how would it look to sexualize safer sex practices in your sex life? How could you model safer sex in better ways?

If others have suggestions on important things to tell readers about safer sex, please let me know in the comments.

But: back to World AIDS Day. That would be today, December 1st.

wad
more World AIDS Day materials for download

Started on 1st December 1988, World AIDS Day is about raising money, increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. The World AIDS Day theme for 2009 is ‘Universal Access and Human Rights’. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done. According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 33.4 million people living with HIV, including 2.1 million children. During 2008 some 2.7 million people became newly infected with the virus and an estimated 2 million people died from AIDS. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35. The vast majority of people with HIV and AIDS live in lower- and middle-income countries. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world. – World AIDS Day text from avert.org

I don’t really consider myself an AIDS activist, not specifically. Indirectly, though, yes – through safer sex advocacy, and through my ever-evolving knowledge of gay history – but I haven’t been heavily involved in a lot of direct AIDS activism.

When I think of AIDS, I always think of the history – specifically, the gay history, the ways that in the US, AIDS has been associated with gay men since the early 1980s. In fact, the first name for the disease, in 1982, before anybody knew what it was, it was called the “gay cancer” and then GRID – “gay related immune deficiency.” That turns my stomach, even now.

I identify more as the child of the AIDS activist movements rather than part of it myself; the activism has significantly declined since the 1990s, probably because the treatments have become more and more effective and the stigmatization around AIDS has lessened.

I often feel a really specific loss when thinking about this epidemic and the direct effects in the GBLT communities. The estimated number of men who have died from AIDS by contracting it through male-to-male sexual contact is more than 22,000 (according to avert.org’s transmission stats).

The LGBT communities lost thousands of people.

I remember meeting some older gay guy in college who was a guest speaker at one of my queer classes. He came in with a photograph of a big group of gay guys at a retreat weekend they’d been on, horsing around and cooking and having a great time being with each other. He said, of all of these guys, I am the only one left. I am the only one who made it beyond 1992. There is no reason it should’ve been me – I was no more or less careful than any of them. But for whatever reason, here I am. They are all gone.

And the absence was so tangible, in his voice, in his stories. He pointed them out, one at a time: this one was in grad school to be a social worker, this one worked with kids, these two were a couple who dreamed of adopting a baby, this one was an amazing writer, this one a pianist. There was so much talent, so much activism, so much potential, lost.

When I think of AIDS, I think of that history. I think of that scar left on the LGBTQ communities that I have inherited. I think of how scared some young queers are of sex, having been brought up on all this knowledge of disease and death. I think of some of my mentors, whose eyes still get glossy with tears when they talk about some of their dearest mentors, lost to this disease.

And now, in the 2000s, AIDS is portrayed pretty differently: a lot of the focus is on Africa and the rate of infection over there, and the rate of apathy over here. This is partly where this topic gets huge and nearly incomprehensible to me (like the difference between five hundred million and five billion dollars. I know there is a difference, I can do the math, but I can’t actually comprehend those amounts in worth and money):

Two-thirds of all people infected with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa, although this region contains little more than 10% of the world’s population. During 2008 alone, an estimated 1.4 million adults and children died as a result of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. Since the beginning of the epidemic more than 15 million Africans have died from AIDS. (source)

Sometimes it seems like this is so far removed from me, but because of globalization and our increasing interconnectivity, and because of the injustices of a system which turned a blind eye to thousands of GBLT deaths, I still know I am connected to it.

I still wish I knew more about what to do about it. It feels like such a big, huge thing, and all I can do is scream into the void and pretend like my voice will do something. Ya know?

It seems like all that anybody’s doing in the US these days are those various (RED) campaigns – I think Starbucks has one, and The Gap, and somewhere I read today said Nike is selling red shoelaces – and I feel kinda torn about the way corporations do that. I think on the one hand, raising awareness, and using an already established brand to get information exposed to all sorts of people, is good, and raising more money is good. I feel like it’s not “real” activism, though, and not very effective, and often thinly veiled attempts to get more sales (because really, these are capitalistic corporations who honor the bottom line of making more money, no matter what their occasional campaigns to help humanity might be). So, I’m skeptical, but I suppose any money at the issue is good, and any awareness raised is good.

Alright, </soapbox>. Thanks for reading.

A few notable links I’ve run across today, also relating to World AIDS Day:

A New Sex Blog Roundup – e[lust]#2

e[lust] has come along to fill the void left when Sugasm closed down. I’ve had a lot of comments from folks saying that the Sugasm posts I used to post were probably the things they skipped most often – and I do understand that, it’s not my original writing. But I continue to participate in the link roundups because it’s good promotion for Sugarbutch, and because I often also hear from folks that they found this site through one of the link roundups. It’s useful to reach the sex blog readers who haven’t meandered over to this place yet. Plus, I like to keep up with the good sex writing going on in the blogs, and this is a great way to do it. I do encourage you to read the top featured posts, at least, as they are usually above average quality.

And thanks, e[lust], for all the work (and it is a lot) of compiling the list.


Welcome to e[lust] - your source for sexual intelligence and inspirations of lust from the smartest & sexiest bloggers! Whether you’re looking for hot steamy smut, thought-provoking opinions or expert information, you’re going to find it here. Want to be included in the next edition? Start with the rules, check out the schedule in the site’s sidebar and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

This Week’s Posts

  • The Heart of Darkness – “I swear that man can sense my fear like a hound scenting a rabbit, and just like the hound, his blood rises to it.”
  • Forever… – “Forever is a beautiful idea, a wonderful goal, but it’s not a magic spell.”
  • His First Fuck – “He stood there, obviously nervous, obviously aroused by what he had been witness to seconds earlier.”
  • e[lust] Editress: I Dare You – “Aided by our clutches of printed papers, me hiding my nipples that could cut glass and him hiding the hard bulge in his dress pants, we scurried back to our cubes where the messages flew back and forth.”
  • Featured Post: Who am I? – “I’ve been through a lot of shit in my life and couldn’t fit it all on one piece of poster board.”

See alsoPleasurists #55 for all your sex toy review needs

All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!