Archive for April, 2010
I was incredibly moved by the turn-out and feeling of community that happened this past Tuesday night at the Phoenix Bar with the launch of my new reading series, co-produced and -hosted with Cheryl B., Sideshow. There were so many people there and such fantastic stories. I feel really grateful and lucky to be part of such a great literary community of readers and writers and community builders and friends. Thanks, everybody, for coming.
For some of you who weren’t able to make it, here’s a photo recap of the evening. Taken with Cheryl’s camera (though I think Whitney was the one actually pressing the button):
Cheryl B. opened the show with some spectacular poetry, and revealed a secret about the very bar where we’d all gathered.
Kathleen Warnock read an erotica piece about secrets we keep from ourselves. Beautiful. I’ve heard her do this one before and I hope to see it in print soon.
Seth Clark Silberman, aka PhDJ, read a vibrant sexy piece. The plan was for him to DJ, back when we had a different venue, but after the first venue fell through there was no DJ option. Would’ve been great to hear his music, but I’m glad we got to hear his story.
That’s me! I read a new piece detailing some of the reasons I’m a sadist. Which isn’t really a secret, I know, but it’s still not so widely known or articulated. The green tie matched my new hunter green handkerchief, which I also wore (flagging left of course), that Kristen gave me on my recent birthday.
The inimitable Kate Bornstein read about her twelve years as a scientologist, and how she left.
Sam J. Miller was perfect to close the show, everybody loved his eloquent turns of phrase.
The full cast of the kick-off of Sideshow! l-r: Kate, Kathleen, Cheryl, Sam, Seth, and me.
Bonus femme shot! Because, hello, there should always be a bonus femme shot. Here’s Cheryl with Kristen. Kristen made a few dozen special birthday cupcakes that we brought along and shared. They were car bomb cupcakes, in case you attended and were wondering what the amazing orgasmic thing in your mouth was.
Now don’t you really wish you’d been there?
There is video, too, that Cheryl is processing and I will most certainly let you know when it’s available (probably by posting it here and on the Sideshow blog and on my Twitter stream and on my Tumblr log you’re going to be sick of knowing that it’s available, believe me).
Big thank yous—thanks Whitney for taking photos, Kelli for filming, John for the use of the Phoenix bar, Kristen for making cupcakes and being such a fabulous hostess. Thanks, Cheryl, for plunging forward on this project with me! And thanks, all you folks who came and listened and ate cupcakes and tipped the bartender (well) and tossed a little something into the hat for the performers.
Save the date—the next SIDESHOW! Queer Literary Carnival will be May 11th, and the theme is naval gazing (aka omphaloskepsis) in honor of National Masturbation Month. Full line-up and details to come!
This is just a quick little announcement, because I COMPLETELY forgot to post that I was going to be at Drew University in New Jersey when I was there earlier this month (hi Drew! I had so much fun with you all, Ryan and Kestin and Arielle and Paula and that talented Classics major who made amazing green tea cupcakes with coconut icing whose name I didn’t catch, thanks for inviting me!).
I’ll be at Brown University next week, April 21st, at 6pm. Kristen is coming with me and we hope to stop by and see the lovely Megan Andelloux and her Center for Sexual Pleasure & Health while we’re visiting.
April 21st, 6pm
on the Brown campus (exact location TBA)
And here’s the (new!) workshop description that I’ll be leading:
Fucking With Gender 2.0: Gendering Power
Fucking With Gender is an interactive workshop which begins with Sinclair Sexsmith’s basic gender tenets and follows up with a discussion of how to have the kind of sex you want to have. Gendering Power takes these gender tenets and puts them into action: playing with gender in the bedroom through role play and power play, with a discussion of how gender identity can grow and change through intentional intimate sex play. Bring a pen & paper, or something to write with and on, as there will be writing prompts.
I’m checking to see if this workshop will be open to the public, or if it is restricted to Brown students only. Will get back to you on that (check the comments).
Looking forward to being back up there—Kristen and I were in Providence for the Kink For All Providence Unconference in March, and the area was quite lovely. I’d never been up there before.
Any recommendations for anything specific we should do on our day trip?
I’m still reeling from all the Sideshow amazingness last night, will have more of a recap/update soon.
Meanwhile, here’s an amazing new piece by Ivan E. Coyote at Speak Up! on 4/10/2010.
Yes yes yes ditto to all of that. What a pleasure to hear.
Mo sent in this photo (and another outtake from the same shot) for my birthday shoes project, saying: “These are my favorite 6 inch Aldo heels- they make me smile every time I wear them. I feel like a Goddess- I call them my Death By Sex heels.” Thank you Mo!
Do you remember Hard Love & How to Fuck in High Heels and Sugar High Glitter City? They were the very first butch/femme dyke porn I ever saw, and I have a special little place in my, uh, heart, for the work of S.I.R. Productions, and the smokin’ hot couple behind it, Shar Rednour and Jackie Strano.
I never saw their third (or perhaps fourth?) film, Talk To Me Baby: A Lover’s Guide to Dirty Talk and Role Play, but it was just released by Hot Movies 4 Her as a video on demand! So of course I rushed to watch it.
It’s 57 minutes long and I think it is mostly clips of scenes from their other films—the last scene, for example, is one of the first scenes in Hard Love where Jackie is jacking off and talking dirty, which is incredibly hot. There are a few hetero scenes, but the talking is lovely, sexy, and interesting.
Here’s the HM4H description:
Talk To Me Baby: A Lover’s Guide To Dirty Talk & Role Play: This lovers’ guide to dirty talk and role play teaches and shows how having a smutty mouth can spice up your sex life. Sex educator and performer Shar Rednour reigns as the Diva of Dirty Talk hosting a bevy of lust-driven lovers who melt the screen with passionate pillow talk and scorching sexual fantasy in this XXplicit viceo by the creators of the AVN Award Winning dyke hit Hard love & How to Fuck in High Heels and the groundbreaking Bend Over Boyfriend series.
I haven’t actually seen the Bend Over Boyfriend series, and I think the first two came between S.I.R.’s first two dyke porns and this one, but if some of what’s in Talk To Me Baby is clips from that series, it’s pretty damn good.
If you’re Shar & Jackie fans, like Kristen and I both are, you might be a bit disappointed that this isn’t actually Shar and Jackie talking dirty to each other on camera. Kristen said that’s what she was hoping it would be. (Shar and/or Jackie! You could still make that video, ya know? Please add it to your list of possibilities, if you feel inspired to make it in the future I would absolutely buy it. Video or audio recording!) It still has a lot of very useful tips, and some great examples, and it’s a great place to start if you want to add more dirty talking to your sex life.
I’ve been reading Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel this past week, and it was an interesting enough read to mention it here. I have written quite a lot about my own path to pursuing and finding a fulfilling sexual relationship, as this site was started primarily because I found myself in a lesbian bed death relationship with my ex and was trying to write my way out of it, and to a new sexuality.
Though the cover looks all mainstream self-help-y, it isn’t. Perel is a seasoned therapist and it is mostly full of psychological examples of her clients’ complications in keeping their long-term relationship strong while still having their sexual needs met.
Here’s the publisher’s description:
One of the world’s most respected voices on erotic intelligence, Esther Perel offers a bold, provocative new take on intimacy and sex. Mating in Captivity invites us to explore the paradoxical union of domesticity and sexual desire, and explains what it takes to bring lust home. Drawing on more than twenty years of experience as a couples therapist, Perel examines the complexities of sustaining desire. Through case studies and lively discussion, Perel demonstrates how more exciting, playful, and even poetic sex is possible in long-term relationships. Wise, witty, and as revelatory as it is straightforward, Mating in Captivity is a sensational book that will transform the way you live and love.
Perel quotes many authors I’ve read (and liked), has a very open minded view about kink and fantasy, and grew up largely outside of the US, which gives her a perspective on our achievement-oriented culture that I appreciate. She does include some gay and lesbian couples in her examples, and her examples and suggestions aren’t heteronormative.
The Amazon description reads: “Some of the proposals Perel recommends for rekindling eroticism involve cultivating separateness (e.g., autonomy) in a relationship rather than closeness (entrapment); exploring dynamics of power and control (i.e., submission, spanking); and learning to surrender to a “sexual ruthlessness” that liberates us from shame and guilt.” YES. Isn’t that precisely what I advocate here on Sugarbutch, in fact? Especially within lesbian cultures, the codependency that comes with the “merging” is so normal it’s practically expected, and I feel like we constantly have to fight against it to avoid it. Somewhere Perel has a line about keeping the spark going, how in order to have the spark you have to have friction, and in order to have friction you have to have a gap between you. That is autonomy, right there, and if one or both of the folks in the relationship don’t have enough of it, the spark won’t be cultivated. Obviously I explore a lot of the dynamics of power and control, and I write about why that stuff can be fun and liberating instead of reproducing some sort of dangerous power dynamic. And shame and guilt? I wish it was possible to just wave a magic wand and take away the shame and guilt about sex from this culture—wanting sex, wanting kinky sex, wanting more sex, our carnal desires in general.
To quote Tara Hardy: “This is the sweet glory reason for a body in the first place.”
I really believe that. Now, if only I can find a way to help teach the undoing of that shame and guilt. (I know, I know, that’s lofty. But hey, why not aim high?)
Perel has some great concepts around the conflicts between the dichotomy of love vs lust, stability vs passion, security vs adventures, occasionally misunderstood as a mutually exclusive binary, but, she argues, is really a “paradox to be managed” instead of a “problem to solve.”
It is a puzzle. Can you hold the awareness of each polarity? You need each at different times, but you can’t have both at the same time. Can you accept that? It’s not an either-or situation, but one where you get the benefits of each and also recognize the limits o each. It’s an ebb and flow. Love and desire are two rhythmic yet clashing forces that are always in a state of flux and always looking for the balance point. —p84
I’m not sure if “you can’t have both at the same time,” I think you can love someone and still feel passionate. But you can’t necessarily have security and adventure at the same time … though what if you’re on a backpacking trip with your sweetheart? You’re having an adventure, but you’re with your lover, so you feel the stability that that relationship can cultivate. And sometimes when I’m having kinky sex and talking all kinds of dirty with Kristen, what’s streaming through the back of my mind is I love you I love you I love you …
Still, I get the point. And I really appreciate Perel’s encouragement of treating sex like a hobby, like something you pursue, like grown-up play—that’s what it is.
I was kind of hoping I’d come away with a better sense of how to “unlock” my “erotic intelligence,” but I can’t say I feel like that skill was cultivated so well. (Or perhaps I’ve already done that, for the most part, and while there’s more to do, a book aimed at a general audience might not be teaching me what I’m trying to learn.) I wouldn’t say I had any grand revelations from Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, but it’s very well-written, open minded, and articulate, and it feels very much in line with the work I’m trying to do. I will likely recommend it in the future.
After hearing about the fake prom that Constance McMillen was sent to last week, I ranted a bit about what was next in that string of activsm. Many readers had fantastic comments and I want to highlight a couple here:
AllysonIvy said: “What can we do? Join in the movement that’s already happening. Work to get non-discrimination laws passed. ENDA would change so much on the federal level. My state (Tennessee) not only excludes LGBT people from protection against housing and employment discrimination, but has a Democratic candidate for governor who supports an adoption ban. We need federal protection, and we can all work for that. 150,000 people marched on Washington in October. Arrests were made recently when activists protested both DADT and ENDA in Washington. They were speaking up. We speak up in order to make a change. … We need to pay attention to her, sure.. but we also need to pay attention to DADT, DOMA, and ENDA. We need to pay attention to the fact that a man in Oklahoma who was denied the right to have a license plate that says “I’m Gay” was found dead a few weeks ago after having reported threats against his life. We need to pay attention to the fight for gay marriage in all states, not just California. … Southern queers are an amazing bunch. I can say with experience that we are strong as hell. We are strong as hell, and we fight hard. I welcome everyone to join us.”
Sarah quotes Izzy Pellegrine on Feministing: “My name is Izzy Pellegrine and I’m a founding member of the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, a group that has been working for two years to promote LGBT student rights in MS. MSSC has been working with Constance for months to help organize her fellow students and educate members of her community. We’re hosting our annual Second Chance Prom in her city and opening it up to all young people in the state. (And this is no seven person event!!) Check us out at www.mssafeschools.org”
ayellowdog said: “we MUST be aggressive with the government – especially at the federal level. We must make sure that the government is not allowed to forget that there is a huge portion of the citizenry of this country that is not being treated equally and thus is always at risk. We must demand to have it made clear that the 14th amendment includes us too. Legislation for the protection of our rights is crucial, obviously, and we should all work in whatever way we can to make it happen as comprehensively and quickly as possible. However, we will never be able to legislate the opinions of others. Opinions must be swayed, nudged, gradually overcome by the opinion-holders themselves. And this kind of change can only occur if we are strong enough to live among those who think they fear and hate us, usually because they don’t know any better, to befriend them in spite of themselves, to share a common world with them, highlighting for them our common ground. Our (legitimate) defensive outrage at how we are allowed to be treated should be directed towards our elected officials. Everyone else should receive a genuine offer of friendship and goodwill.”
EliDeep recommended GetEqual (on Twitter at @getequal): “GetEqual was founded by Kip Williams and Robin McGehee, who both grew up in the South. Kip’s from Knoxville, and Robin is from Mississippi. I first heard Robin speak at the National Equality March in October. Her speech was the most touching to me because she told all us Southern queers that we weren’t forgotten. Often, the gay community writes off the South as a lost cause, and tells us to just move to more gay friendly places. This is NOT a solution.”
You can still contact the school superintendent and high school principal:
Itawamba County Schools Superintendent Teresa McNeece: email@example.com, 662-862-2159 ext. 14
Itawamba Agricultural High School principal Trae Wiygul: firstname.lastname@example.org, 662-862-3104
And a few more things:
- Donate to the ACLU LGBT Project
- Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend to Prom Facebook Page
- Sign the HRC petition to say I Stand With Constance McMillen
Happy Friday y’all! Here are the winners of the 2010 Sex Blogger Calendar giveaway:
#2 Lia Sphere who loves Namio Harukawa
#9 Ash-a-Fresh who loves Kat Von D
#13 Alisha who loves Gil Elvgren
#14 ButchTay who loves The Pretty Things Peepshow
#18 Havi Brooks (and duck) who love Persinnamon
I liked seeing all the different pin-ups that people linked to! And was introduced to some new artists, too; thanks, everybody, for the comments and links.
And since the Marilyn Monroe shot of her lifting weights, specifically, got mentioned three times, I’m posting it here. (I like the ones of her reading, personally, but there are so many to love.)
Don’t forget, you can STILL order the 2010 Sex Blogger Calendar, in case you somehow don’t have one yet!
Will be in touch with you winners—just need your mailing addresses to send out the calendars.
(More details & information at SideshowReadingSeries.wordpress.com.)
New York City: home to some of the best performance art, spoken word, poetry, and literary culture in the world. Also home of the freaks, the queers, the outlaws, the weirdos, who have all sought refuge from their narrow-minded little towns across America—across North America!—by congealing at the big cities on the fringes of the country.
It makes sense that thus, this little town of mine houses some amazing queer literary reading series, though few of them are explicitly queer—rather they are run by queers and promote queer voices and perspectives. Vittoria Repetto runs the Women/Trans Poetry Jam & Open Mic at Bluestockings, Rachel Kramer Bussel runs In The Flesh erotica reading series at Happy Ending, Audacia Ray co-hosts Sex Worker Literati at Happy Ending with David Henry Sterry, Kathleen Warnock runs Drunken! Careening! Writers! at KGB Bar, Charlie Vasquez runs Panic! at Nowhere bar, Shelly Mars runs the Bulldyke Chronicles at Dixon Place, Kelli Dunham and Gene Murphy run Queer Memoir at Collect Pond in Brooklyn. And that’s just off the top of my head.
Why does New York City need yet another literary and queer reading series? Despite the many other series, very few of them are explicitly places for queer’s marginalized voices to express ourselves. Perhaps these are actually a newer wave of reading series, born out of earlier waves of explicitly queer series, and these focus on a particular theme or style of work as opposed to the gender or sexuality of those reading it. But still, we have not conquered homophobia, heterosexism, or transphobia, and though many in the queer literary scene might think we can have queers and straight folks reading right next to each other in a line-up, we still face sometimes insurmountable issues because of our sexualities or gender identities.
I’m grateful New York City is different, encouraging art and expression of all flavors. Still, in comparison to some of the medium- and small-sized cities, New York City’s collectivity can be fragmented. The queer literary scene in Seattle, for example, is teeny tiny, and everybody knows everybody, and thus we have to rally around each other and go to each other’s shows and be kind and embracing, because there are only so many of us. Seattle has an extra fabulous queer monthly reading series and open mic, the Seattle Spit at the Wildrose, Seattle’s only dyke bar, and I cut my performing teeth there, attending every month and wishing I was brave enough to read my own things until finally I did.
When I moved to New York City I wondered why there wasn’t an equivalent. Perhaps the communities and scenes here are just too large to sustain any single reading series, we need multiple perspectives, we need lots of different styles, lots of different reading series coordinators who all have different circles within the queer and literary worlds.
Kathleen is a playwright, for example, and there’s such a large play and drama world here in New York City that is very queer and literary, but since I don’t tend to run in those circles myself, I often don’t know of the writers who are on the Drunken! Careening! Writers! roster. But they are always a best of the best, skimmed off the top, extremely talented bunch, and I certainly trust Kathleen’s own literary discernment.
Shelly Mars’s new series the Bulldyke Chronicles is quite the phenomenon, if you haven’t attended yet—comedians, performance artists, and storytellers are primarily in her circles, and she has pulled some amazing folks out of the woodwork to come share where they’ve been and how they see the world. Her performers by and large are not folks that I know, but they are amazing and I’m so glad they’ve been brought together in a forum where I get to see them perform.
It’s amazing how many subtly different queer literary scenes there can be in one place. It still amazes me that a city can hold so many different worlds, so many different circles which do overlap, though sometimes only touch. After four and a half years in New York City, I think I’ve finally made enough contacts in many of the different circles that I could help to pull together some amazing artists, to encourage the lifting of their voices high.
And so, the lovely and talented Cheryl B. and I have teamed up to start SIDESHOW!: The Queer Literary Carnival, which will be spoken word, poetry, storytelling, comedy, and performances of all kinds. It is “serious literature for ridiculous times by freaks, jokesters, and outlaws,” as our tagline boasts. We are booking seasoned performers whose work explores what it’s like to embody and move through the world with marginalized identities, be it sexual or gender or something else entirely. This one particular series is explicitly queer, specifically to encourage the expression of that weird, freaky, perverted, marginalized, queer point of view.
Cheryl has run series in the past, most recently she was the producer at the Poetry Vs Comedy Variety Hour, which started at Galapagos and moved to the Bowery Poetry Club. It was a blast—and I don’t just say that because I was the first poet ever to win the two rounds, or because I won twice. It was so much fun to attend, the judges were always just as fun as the poets and the comics, and of course all the participants went home with a prize, because winning was not the point, and we’re all losers anyway.
When we ran into each other at a holiday party last year, I mentioned that I’d been kicking around the idea of coordinating a reading series, and she said she would love to co-produce and co-host. Since Cheryl has much more expeirence than I do at hosting a reading series, and since she’s a damn fine poet, I immediately thought this was a wonderful idea, and we got into the nitty-gritty planning details in the new year. We secured a home at The Phoenix (thanks to Charlie Vasquez, who I previously mentioned as running the Panic series at one of my favorite queer watering holes, Nowhere Bar), and we booked an amazing first show.
To add some cohesion to the show, we’re going to have monthly themes, and the very first SIDESHOW kicks off in April on Tuesday the 13th. April’s theme is SECRETS, starring Kate Bornstein, Sam J. Miller, Seth Clark Silberman aka PhDJ, and Kathleen Warnock.
Did you see that part where I slipped in that Kate fraking Bornstein is going to be reading at the kickoff of the series? Like it is all casual and not a big deal? Except that I’ve been reading her books for the last ten years, and she’s such a major pioneer not only in gender work but in queer memoir, and the re-valuing of queer lives and experiences in general.
Kathleen Warnock, too, I’m thrilled to have in the line-up; I mentioned earlier that she runs the reading series at KGB Bar, but she is also the new series editor for Best Lesbian Erotica, put out annually by Cleis Press. I’ve admired her work since I first heard it when I moved to New York City and began attending her series, particularly for the extra-special holiday celebration in December that always includes Best Lesbian Erotica writers reading their own work.
Sam and I met because he’s in the brother series, Best Gay Erotica, and we read together at a joint reading a few years ago, and my best memory of PhDJ is his story about getting an apartment through the power of The Secret. Hey, when the shoe fits, you may as well wear it!
Since April is my birthday month, I’m telling friends there’s no need for gifts or a party, just come to Sideshow on April 13th at The Phoenix. I’ll be there from 7pm on, taking photos, kissing Kristen, and trying not to drink too many Jamesons on ice. Can’t wait to hear what everyone has to read, and how this gathering of queers might bring us together in an open, supportive environment.
See you there, New York.