Archive for August, 2010

Review: Love Bumper Iceberg

August 31, 2010  |  reviews  |  No Comments

The Love Bumper Iceberg was not as exciting as I expected. I don’t have any sex furniture, but it’s making a big splash out there in the sex toy marketplace these days, and so I figured eventually I’d get around to trying one of the ramps or wedges or whatever else they’re called.

Good Vibrations sent me this one to review. It showed up and sat on my bed for a while, its microfiber faux-suade cover attracting cat hair and dust like a magnet. And it was really hard to clean, since the material is kind of textured, so it catches things. Eventually I cleaned it thoroughly and put a pillowcase on it, which helped, but it looked less sexy and more like an odd-shaped hard throw pillow.

Still, we didn’t much use it. I left it out to be inspired to do so, but just wasn’t. It seemed awkward to try to grab and move her into a different position in order to try it out. I couldn’t really work it into the flow of things.

We did try it, once, eventually. And I found, sadly, that the dimensions are kind of off. I was hoping it’d lift her just a little when she’s on her stomach, but the height is just a little short for the length of my thighs, I think. So someone shorter than me might find it’s the perfect size for them. I’m not that tall, though, and considering it’s mostly marketed toward guys, and most guys are taller than me, I think that’s a bit of a design flaw. It measures 13 3/4″ x 13″ x 7 1/2″, but unless you can really pull it down and try out a few positions with yourself and your sweetie to see if it will be the right size for you, I kind of doubt you’ll be able to tell from the dimensions if it will work or not.

Then again, maybe this is just the small model, and it’s made to make you want to go out there and try the bigger sizes!

But did it inspire me to do that? No, not really. I’m not impressed enough with the option of “sex furniture” that I’m interested in comparing or investigating other products. Worth a try, I suppose, because perhaps I would have always wondered, but to be honest, I wasn’t all that curious in the first place. I do pretty well with positions and support, and when I find myself wanting, I can usually just grab a regular pillow, and we’re good to go.

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The Love Bumper Iceberg was sent to me from Good Vibrations for review. Check out more sex toys, vibrators, and other lovely items at your local feminist queer sex-positive sex toy shop, or online at goodvibes.com.

Countdown to the Butch Voices NYC Conference: Four Weeks

August 27, 2010  |  on butches  |  No Comments

I’m still on vacation. But I wouldn’t deprive you of the Butch Voices countdown! Sugarbutch will resume regular posting on Wednesday, September 1st.

The Butch Voices Regional Conference in New York City (and then in Portland and LA) is coming up in just four short weeks. (And as someone who is part of the organizing committee, can I just say: GULP. So much to do!) And in honor, I’m counting down the Fridays with classic and modern butch book titles that I highly recommend. Just in case you want to start that butch library you’ve always been saying you might.

Dagger: On Butch Women edited by Lily Burana and Roxxie Linnea Due is, heartbreakingly, out of print. But it still exists out there in the world, especially with all the online booksellers. It was published by Cleis Press in 1994 and remains one of the only anthologies about butch identity out there … in fact, it’s the only one that I know of. There are other books on butch identity (as I’ll feature in the next few weeks!), but nothing quite like this.

I came across it when the Femme Top loaned me her copy and I immediately went out to pick up my own. It remains something I flip through and contemplate frequently, full of interviews, personal essays, analysis, gender dynamics, love letters to femmes, and touching stories of female masculinity out of compulsory femininity.

Pick it up at your local bookstore (who does used book searches, hopefully) or online, if you must, through Amazon.

And don’t forget, there are lots of great events coming up in September around the Butch Voices conference, starting with Butch Brunch on September 18!

Boxers Off! An Evening of Butch Burlesque in NYC

August 24, 2010  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

I’m going to be out of town … so you all better go for me!

Photo by Syd London, www.sydlondon.com, from the last Butch Burlesque night at Dixon Place, August 2010

Boxers Off! An Evening of Butch Burlesque
a fundraiser for BUTCH Voices
With your emcee Lea Robinson

Stonewall Inn (53 Christopher St.)
Saturday, August 28th, 2010, 7pm
$10-$15 Sliding Scale

BUTCH Voices is proud to present Boxers Off! An Evening of Butch Burlesque. Join us and explore the representation of butch identity in a bold, new, sexy way. Lea Robinson emcees this evening of hot and campy burlesque from some of New York City’s finest performers, including Becca Blackwell, Dapper Q, Glenn Marla, Luscious von Dykester, Natt Nightly, Kelli Dunham, Drae Campbell & Kimberlea Kressal appearing as SirMamSir and the Missus, Molly Equality Dykeman, Paris, Dom Juan, Daddy T.Y.E, and of course your host Cocoa Chaps!

All funds raised will go towards the BUTCH Voices NYC Regional Conference on September 25th.

RSVP for this event on Facebook. Have a great time! And if you go, report back on how it was, so I can know how it went? I’m sad to miss it (but then I think of the hot springs, and I don’t feel so bad).

Oh Yeah! Butch Voices Conference in NYC

August 23, 2010  |  miscellany  |  3 Comments

So I’ve mentioned that the Butch Voices conferences are coming up, but I haven’t actually officially done a post and announced it to y’all! So just in case you want to take the day off (I’m looking at you, Ali), mark it on your calendars and work it out.

It’s not a butch-only conference—partners, allies, femmes, genderqueer, and non-identifying folks of all kinds are welcome to attend. Assuming that you have respect for and see value in discussing and paying attention to butch identity, of course, since that’s the focus of there conference.

Here’s the mission statement, and the description about what “butch” means, from ButchVoices.com:

The mission of BUTCH Voices is to enhance and sustain the health and well-being of self-identified Masculine of Center* people by providing activities and programs that build community and empower individuals to advocate for their whole selves inclusive of and beyond their gender identity and sexual orientation.

Who we are: We are Butch Voices. We are woman-identified Butches. We are trans-masculine Studs. We are faggot-identified Aggressives. We are noun Butches, adjective Studs and pronoun-shunning Aggressives. We are she, he, hy, ze, zie and hir. We are you, and we are me. The point is, we don’t decide who is Butch, Stud or Aggressive. You get to decide for yourself.

* Masculine of center (MOC) is a term, coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project, that recognizes the breadth and depth of identity for lesbian/queer/ womyn who tilt toward the masculine side of the gender scale and includes a wide range of identities such as butch, stud, aggressive/AG, dom, macha, tomboi, trans-masculine etc.

So there are four regional conferences in 2010, after the national conference in 2009. There are plans to have another national conference in 2011, every other year and on opposite years from the femme conference. The first regional Butch Voices conference was in Dallas in June, and I hear it was a great success.

Next up is the regional conference in New York City. It will be held Saturday, September 25th, 2010 at the Queers for Economic Justice Performance and Conference Space, at 147 West 24th Street, in New York City. On site Registration will be on the 4th floor.

The day-long BUTCH Voices NYC Regional Conference will include workshops, panels, a butch hospitality lounge as well as a very special keynote celebration of our history and community of butches.

Evening events will also include: Butch Voices NYC 2010 Queer Memoir/Sideshow Mash-Up at Bluestockings Bookstore and Cafe as well as a later Butch Voices Cabaret at a Brooklyn club.

If you’re coming from out of town, please email Kelli Dunham directly at kellidunham(at)gmail.com so we can assist you with any hospitality needs.

I’m thrilled to be helping with media for this conference. I’ve never planned a conference before, actually, so it’s good experience, and the other folks on the steering committee are so experienced and organized and hard-working, it’s been a delight so far. I’m working on putting together the conference program (or I will be, when I get back from vacation) so if you have ideas for queer and/or genderqueer organizations who might want to give us money advertise in the program or sponsor an aspect of the conference, please do get in touch.

I recommend registering for the New York City conference as soon as possible, if you’re planning to come! We have limited space, and we expect it to be full.

After the day-long conference, we’ll adjourn to an evening of entertainment, including a very special Queer Memoir/Sideshow mashup “Butch Voices Speak” performance at 7pm at Bluestockings, and then a later Butch Cabaret in Brooklyn. More details about those as I get them!

The weekend after the New York City regional conference is the regional conference in Portland on Saturday October 2nd , then the weekend after that is the regional conference in LA over the weekend of October 8-10. I really hope to make it out to Portland, but I’m trying to figure out how to fund my trip. (Anybody out there in Portland looking for a speaker to visit your college over the first week of October?) I might do a fundraiser of sorts.

If you run a blog or website, perhaps you’d like to put up a sidebar image to help promote the conference? Or write a post on it, telling your readers about it? Mention it on the message boards you frequent? Tweet about it? Put it on Facebook? Send an email to all the people you’ve ever met? Seriously, every little bit helps. This is happening mostly through grassroots effort and word of mouth.

At New York City’s conference, I’ll be moderating a panel on Butches in the Media (mostly, creating our own media and self-promotion) and doing a workshop on Cock Confidence. And of course, I’ll be co-hosting the Butch Voices NYC 2010 Queer Memoir/Sideshow Mash-Up. I’ll let you know what, if anything, I’ll be doing in Portland.

So? Will I see you there, perhaps?

I’m Off to the Desert

August 23, 2010  |  journal entries, miscellany  |  1 Comment

For the second year in a row, I’m heading out to the Southwest to do a week-long erotic energy retreat through the school I’ve been studying with for nearly ten years and two of my favorite teachers.

Photo taken by me last year

This year, it’s different because I’ve been the one who is actually coordinating the workshop, doing a lot of marketing and outreach to get participants, then answering any sorts of logistical questions that I can while attendees are planning their travels. It’s been a bit stressful, but I’ve really enjoyed it, and I’m so looking forward to being done with all the coordinating and start in on the relaxing and exploring and erotic energy depths.

I always learn so much on these retreats, about myself especially but also about energy and erotics. Remember last year, I came back with a whole new theory about yin and yang and masculinity? It’s a very different workshop this year, but I’m sure there will be something that will toss my brain inside out for a minute and help me see things anew. Or, if nothing else, to hang and share space and time and erotics with some very fantastic people.

I’m coordinating another workshop in November in New York, this one is for beginner practitioners who are interested in deepening their own connection to erotic energy. It’s a women-identified only residential weekend workshop at a gay retreat center (with a sauna, hot tub, pool, and hiking trails). The workshop itself, which I’ve done many times over the ten years I’ve been working with this school, is very powerful, sometimes life-changing, and now that I’m coordinating I’m trying to encourage lots of genderqueer and queer folks to come and take it. If you want more information about that, email me.

I’ve got a couple things scheduled to pop up while I’m gone, but know that if you contact me I likely won’t get it until I get back to work on September 1st.

Have a wonderful week, y’all, and will chat with you when I get back.

Review: Talula

August 21, 2010  |  reviews  |  1 Comment

This is the Talula softskin dildo by the new company Vamp Silicone, who generously sent me two different cocks to review.

Shape:Doesn’t it look like it’s about to blast off? Shouldn’t it be secured to some sling-shot or something? That angle! I was pretty skeptical about how it’s shaped, it seems like it would be really pokey, awkward to wear.

But it’s not. The angle means that it can sit lower in a harness, almost between my legs, and instead of having a slight downward angle like most other cocks, it stays firmly upright. While Kristen and I tried it out she actually started moaning about “that spot right there that spot that spot,” which she almost never does, so it is clear it’s a very effective g-spot stimulator.

Material:It’s softskin—did you catch that in the introduction? So when I ran across this new company I wondered if this would be the Next Big Thing, the new version of super realistic, flesh-like silicone. But before I received them, I talked to a sex toy shop owner who said they didn’t think the softskin was really any different from their regular silicone, so I was prepared to be disappointed.

It’s nothing like that other famous kind of softskin, which, in my opinion, is more realistic-feeling and more fleshy, but it’s definitely softer than regular silicone. In fact, I like it quite a lot.

It was hard to find a good shot of it. The website has a shot of the three different sizes of Talula, in black, all right next to each other, but it’s not quite an accurate shot of what it looks like. I’ve got one in the cream color, shown above, and it apparently also comes in ruby, cocoa, and cafe au lait.

Size:The medium one, which I have, is 6.5″x1.5″, with the smaller one at 5″x1″ and the bigger one at 7″x2″. That must be including the length of the balls, which makes it a bit smaller insertable length. It was a little bit small to be my favorite cock for fucking, but it was just about right for blow jobs. Perhaps if I get my hands on the larger one, it’ll become my new favorite. I can see that as a possibility.

I’m definitely keeping this one at the top of the toy box.

Thanks to Vamp Silicone for sending this to me to review. Pick up your own Talula dildo over at their website, or at your local feminist sex-positive queer sex toy store.

Review: Spur

August 20, 2010  |  reviews  |  No Comments

It’s been a while since I’ve written a review of a cock! The Silk, since it’s so non-realistic, doesn’t quite feel the same as something made of realistic feeling material and in a realistic shape.

Though anal week is long over, Kristen and I have still been experimenting, still interested in find a (or some) good cocks for anal. This one, the Vixskin Spur made by Vixen Creations, is small, but a step up from butt plugs – not quite ready for the Goodfella, though perhaps we’ll work up to that (a la Chase & Dylan in Roulette Dirty South).

And now for The Sugarbutch Cock Breakdown:

Material: Silicone. Non-porous, sterilizable (dishwasher’s top rack, no soap, or a 10% bleach solution, or boil). This one is Vixen’s line of Vixskin, silicone made softer to feel more realistic, but with a hard inner core to still have enough rigidity to fuck hard. Which is my personal favorite and, in my opinion, the best cocks on the market. Et cetera, et cetera, you’ve heard read me say write all this about Vixskin before.

It’s the best quality materials out there—which is why it’s pretty expensive.

Shape: Spur has a little bit of a crooked bend to her, which looks to me more prominent in photos than when she’s all strapped on. As with all of the Vixskin line, it is realistically shaped, with texture and contours and a head and corona on the cock. This one has a nice base to go into O-ring harnesses, but you might need some smaller O-rings to snap into your (hopefully O-ring changeable) harness in order to keep it from slipping out. I used a very small one and it still had some wiggle room.

Size: This one is small! 4-¾” x 1-¼”, which is a lovely size for bend over beginners. Or aficionados, probably; even if you’re experienced this still might be the perfect size for anal play.

It seems silly to even review Vixen’s Vixskin line seriuosly. Their materials are top-notch, I already know I like the look and feel of this kind of silicone. Vixen’s cocks come with a lifetime guarantee: they’ll replace it if it breaks or wears down. The different sizes are a question, I suppose, for reviewers to test out which sizes are good for what, but that also really depends on the person. I know enough about sizes of cocks that I want for a given situation (especially when choosing for myself or Kristen, whose bodies I know really well) that I can generally anticipate what size will be needed for what play. So when I am seeking a new cock in a particular size and Vixen has one around the same dimensions, it’s seems like a no-brainer: I’m going to like it.

Still, it’s always good to be proven right. I guess you never know.

This one is definitely going to the top of the toy box, and I’m looking forward to playing with it more.

This toy was sent to me & Kristen to review from Vixen. Pick up the Spur or other sex toys through Vixen Creation’s website, or at your local independent feminist queer-friendly sex toy shop.

Femme Conference Begins Today! & Countdown to the Butch Voices Conferences

August 20, 2010  |  essays, on butches  |  4 Comments

It’s happening right now! Well not quite right now, since it’s earlier in New York City than it is over in Oakland, on the other coast where the sun sets over the water just like it’s supposed to.

The 2010 Femme Conference: No Restrictions begins today and an extravagance of femmes have gathered, including Kristen.

The hashtag for the conference is #femme2010 if you’d like to follow along on Twitter.

How do you like that collective noun, by the way? An extravagance of femmes? Not bad really. There’s a fascinating collective noun site connected to Twitter so that when you tweet your suggestion for the collective noun with the hashtag #collectivenoun it gets automatically updated and counted on the site. Plus, you can “like” other people’s suggestions (which also goes to Twitter). So what say you—what’s the best collective noun for femmes? Tweet it, or leave it in the comments. And check them out as they come in.

Okay, enough of that. You’re dying to know what the femme book is for today, right? Since we’ve got the Butch Voices regional conferences to count down to now, in NYC (September 25), Portland OR (October 1-3), and LA (October 8-10), I figured I’d do a butch/femme joint anthology.

There are other good femme books out there, though, don’t let me mislead you into thinking that Visible: A Femmethology, Femmes of Power, and The Femme Mystique are the only ones. There’s also:

And there’s Glamour Girls: Femme/femme Erotica by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Harrington Park Press; 2006) and With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn by Amber Dawn and Trish Kelly if you’re into erotica. Which, you know, you might be.

So now that I’ve recited pretty much every femme book that I know of and think are worth knowing, let’s get back to today’s feature. The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader edited by Joan Nestle, published by Alyson Books in 1992. It looks like it’s out of print, but you can probably still get it used in various places, like Powell’s online or, of course, Amazon (but only if you have to. Don’t you want independent bookstores to stay in business?).

The description of The Persistent Desire from Library Journal is as follows:

This anthology of stories, poems, and nonfiction accounts pays homage to a host of femme and butch lesbian relationships that have flourished over four decades. The narrators recount their experiences, describing how they met, how they took care of one another, and how they tried–or defiantly tried not–to fit in. The selections themselves bubble with passion and pain. Some dive beneath the surface to explore the varied meanings of gender roles, but most describe highly ritualistic manners of dress, hairstyle, and gesture that at times left the protagonist open to ridicule. In collecting these pieces into one volume, Nestle has made sure that the integrity and diversity of femme-butch relationships will not be lost. She has included narratives from women of many backgrounds and ethnic groups and from outside the United States.

This book was for me, as it was for many people, eye-opening, validating, breathtaking. I found it while I was still trying to articulate my own butch identity, and come into my orientation of dating femmes, and it blew past most of my doubts as if doing 80 on a motorcycle. I wanted to be part of that, I felt so connected to it. It changed the way I thought about myself and the way I thought about femmes.

It’s dated now. It was published almost two decades ago, and it reflects a different era of thought about gender identity and alignment assumptions. And while the trans movements were alive by then, much has happened on that front in the past 18 years since it was published and much transgender theory has affected gender theory deeply in wonderfully deliciously complicated ways.

We’re really due for an update.

And how about that, one is just on the horizon! Partners and butch/femme couple Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman have been working on an anthology titled Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme (see the connection to the first anthology’s title? Smart!) that is due out from Arsenal Pulp Press soon. Not sure what the exact date of publication is yet, but you can be certain I’ll be mentioning it here again. It looks like Ivan just picked up the postcards for the book from her publisher the other day, so it must be coming fairly soon! I will report back as I know.

There are more books, especially more butch/femme books, and more books just on butch identity by itself (look for more of those featured on the upcoming Fridays as we countdown to the Butch Voices NYC conference). I’ve made a new section in my Amazon Store exclusively for butch and femme books, so if you’re curious what else is out there, that’s a good place to start. And if you’ve got suggestions for what I missed, I’m glad to hear ‘em!

UPDATE! Persistence: All Ways Butch And Femme has a webpage on Arsenal Pulp Press, a description, and is due out in the spring of 2011. Isn’t that cover great? It’s done by Elisha Lim, who also has a book of her own newly out from Alyson, 100 Butches, Volume 1.

If you see Zena at the Femme Conference, she supposedly has postcards for Persistence, so that’ll give you an excuse to say hi. She’s aka “The Silver Fox” because (guess) of her hair, so that should narrow it down for ya.

(Don’t you just love the Internet? I do. Thanks, Arsenal, for answering those questions.)

Butch Brunch in Photos

August 16, 2010  |  miscellany  |  12 Comments

Butch Brunch on Saturday was a blast! Thanks to all who came. Mark the next one on your calendars: September 18th, Cafe Orlin on St Mark’s in the East Village. It was pretty loud in there, if we can find a better venue it will change, but right now that’s the best we’ve got.

I’ve got much more to say about it, but I’m running around today, so here’s a great shot of the butches who brunched. Thanks to the lovely femme who took this photo.

     

Queer Memoir/Sideshow Mashup for Butch Voices NYC

August 16, 2010  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

Butch Voices NYC Regional Conference
in collaboration with
Queer Memoir
and
Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival
present

Butch Voices Speak: A Queer Memoir/Sideshow Reading Series Mashup

7pm Saturday, September 25th
Bluestockings Bookstore, Lower East Side, New York City

Hosted by Kelli Dunham, Sinclair Sexsmith, Cheryl B., and Genne Murphy

www.queerliterarycarnival.com | www.queermemoir.com
www.butchvoices.com

Call for performers: Butch Voices Speak: A Queer Memoir/Sideshow Reading Series Mashup

Butch Voices New York City regional conference is happening on Sunday, September 25th, and Queer Memoir and Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival have teamed up to bring you an evening of stories, performance, and readings from queer butch voices.

Are you interested in participating? Butch Voices Speak is currently in search of people willing to stand up and tell your quick 6 minute story. You need not have performance or writing expertise, just an interest in telling your story.

QUEER MEMOIR IS an opportunity to give voice to our collective queer experiences, and preserve and document our complex queer history for writers, performers, and anyone with a queer story to tell.

SIDESHOW IS serious literature for ridiculous times, hosting established writers, performers, comics, and storytellers who have literary experience.

Q: Should I submit to Queer Memoir or Sideshow?
A: Is this a personal story written by you about something happened to you? Submit to Queer Memoir. Is it more literary, or are you a seasoned performer or writer? Send it to Sideshow.

To be considered, email [email protected] or [email protected] before September 1, 2010, with your name, website, brief bio, and a brief 1-3 sentence proposal of what you’d like to read.