Fantasy: Titillating and Taboo Workshop at the Lesbian Sex Mafia

I’ve been helping out with some of the programming for the Lesbian Sex Mafia based here in New York City, and our first workshop in January was just announced, featuring one of my favorite femme sexuality educators: Megan Andelloux.

So if you’re nearby, join us.

Lesbian Sex Mafia presents:
“Fantasy: Titillating and Taboo: What Gets You Off and How to Get It”
with Megan Andelloux

Does dirty talk turn you on? Want to be punished? Want to force someone to do naughty things? Really want to make those wicked thoughts a reality? This workshop will cover some common desires, like restraints, impact play, and dirty talk, as well as how to communicate your desires, confront personal shame/discomfort around fantasies, and maneuver such desires into your sex and play. Through small group discussion, interactive and reflection activities you’ll explore expressing your deepest fantasies and how to get what you really want.

Date: Fri, January 21, 2011; 8pm – 10pm
Location: The LGBT Center, 208 W 13th St, NY (Google Maps). Get directions using Hopstop.
Cost: LSM member: $5; Non-members $10 (Members – renew now and continue to get all the benefits of an LSM membership!)

About Megan Andelloux

Megan Andelloux is a nationally certified Sexuality Educator through A.A.S.E.C.T and a board certified Sexologist through A.C.S. She is the Founder and Director of the non-profit Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, located in Pawtucket, RI.

Ms. Andelloux lectures internationally at colleges, universities, medical schools, and sexuality institutions on issues surrounding sexual politics, pleasure, sexual health, and erotic justice. To date, she has taught at over three dozen higher educational institutions, including medical schools and Ivy league universities such as Brown, Yale, and Harvard.

She is an author in the books, We Got Issues A Feminist Response to Cultural Attitudes On Feminism and Sex and Society, a comprehensive guide to current knowledge and expert analysis of sex and sexuality.

Ms. Andelloux was named “Vagina Warrior of the Year” from the Vagina Monologues for her work regarding sexual communication and fear reduction. She has been labeled as “The Princess of Pleasure” and more recently, “The Sex Ed Warrior Queen”.

She is listed on Wikipedia as an American Feminist, Writer and Sex Educator and on the Erotic Heritage Museum’s Hall of Heros, which showcases icons of sexual revolution.

Year In Review On Sugarbutch: 2010

Another year is coming to a close, and aside from reflecting on my life personally, I’m reflecting on the accomplishments. I did a Year In Review On Sugarbutch for 2009 and I like it, it feels like a nice wrap-up of some of the accomplishments of that year, so I’m going to try to do this again.

To get started, here are the most popular posts on Sugarbutch during 2010:

  1. Desperation & Dominance
  2. Lipstick Blow Job
  3. Waking Up
  4. Nominations Needed for Top Hot Butches
  5. Sweat & Summer
  6. Gabrielle, Guest Star
  7. Best Anal Scenes in Queer Porn
  8. On Making Sex Last: Cheerleading & Open Relationships
  9. Occasional Effects of D/s
  10. The Relaunch of Top Hot Butches

Clearly most of these are smut stories, ya pervs. Two of the posts are about the relaunch of the Top Hot Butches project, which is now Butch Lab. And then there are a few random others, the anal sex scenes post is a nice representation of that anal week (that turned into anal month) exploration I did in early 2010.

Remember when I used to do monthly roundups? I still kind of miss that, but I can’t seem to make time for it. It was a really nice look back at the last month and what has happened here, which also told me what else I should focus on in the coming month. It made it easier to do these year-end roundups, too. So I’ve been going back through and making some notes about the year.

So, what happened.

I dated Kristen the whole year. She moved in with me in September, and we celebrated our second anniversary in December. We did manage to have a couple threesomes this year, one of which I wrote about in Gabrielle, Guest Star.

At the end of 2009, Kristen and I started exploring heavier D/s, and we still are, though I haven’t been writing about it as much. My public appearances have picked up tremendously (more about that later) and it’s been harder to put all of this in public. So I wrote a lot more password protected posts this year, and 2010 kicked off with three big ones in January: Occasional Effects of D/s, then a piece about D/s “homework” and why I was taking a break with it, and a piece about articulating what I need when I need it, which, though it sounds simple, is probably one of those life skills we all have to learn and re-learn and re-learn, something that hopefully gets easier but is never easy.

The good news is, late in 2010 I finally got the password/mailing list working, so I don’t have to do that manually anymore. If you want the password, I’ll trade you for adding your email address to my mailing list, where I (try to) send out updates on my work once a month.

Events:

February kicked off my year of travel, and boy, did I travel. After I got a booking company, PhinLi, last year, I have been doing more and more public events. I went to KinkForAll Providence in Rhode Island, Brown University in Providence, SXSW in Austin, Texas, Drew University in New Jersey, Tuscon Arizona for a strap-on workshop, Portland Oregon for a Strap-On workshop and a second time for the Butch Voices regional conference, Seattle for the Sex 2.0 Conference, Seattle and Southeast Alaska for Kristen to visit where I grew up, Albuquerque for an erotic energy retreat, The 2nd Annual CSPH Conference in Pawtucket, RI, and Northampton MA to visit Smith University. Am I missing any? I think that was it. Aside from that, I also did quite a few workshops in New York City, including at the Lesbian Sex Mafia, cunnilingus class at Purple Passion, Conversio Virium, Columbia University’s BDSM student group, and NYU for Trans Week.

The national Femme Conference was held in 2010, as well as regional Butch Voices Conferences in Portland, LA, and New York City. I was on the committee for the Butch Voices NYC Regional Conference which happened in September, which was a huge success. Some of the pieces I wrote up were: What’s going on at the BV NYC Conference?, the conference starts today!, BV NYC is over … … but BV Portland is this weekend. Syd London took photos. I did a countdown to the national Femme Conference that happened this year in August in Oakland, too, by mentioning and reviewing some of my favorite books about femme identity.

I started hosting regular porn parties on Twitter, starting with Fluid. We also watched Tight Places: A Drop Of Color (which was so good) and four episodes of the Crash Pad Series. I also hosted Butch Brunch a few different times, mostly in leading up to the Butch Voices Conference in New York City, but I’m interested to do a bit more of that. It’s fun to get together and talk about gender (go figure).

I launched Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival in April, a reading series I am co-producing and co-hosting with my good friend Cheryl B. Syd London took some amazing promotional shots of me & Cheryl for Sideshow’s materials, and we launched queerliterarycarnival.com after running it for a few months. We even have an intern, as of December! (More on him soon.)

Cheryl launched her own new project in 2010, WTF Cancer Diaries, after being diagnosed with hodgkins lymphoma. And perhaps as a nice counter, if you need a pick-me-up, my girlfriend Kristen started a Butches With Cute Animals tumblr. Submit your photo!

Perhaps the biggest project of my year was the relaunch of the Top Hot Butches project, which is now Butch Lab. I also put a call out for nominations and the “list” is now more of an unordered, unnumbered database, and the site is more community-based and includes a blog and a monthly writing prompt carnival called Symposium. I wrote a piece about being butch enough.

Publications:

Early in February 2010 I started a weekly column with SexIs Magazine called Mr. Sexsmith’s Other Girlfriend. I kept writing columns for CarnalNation.com until they closed in the fall. I’d love to find another place to house my Radical Masculinity column, but haven’t yet. I’ve written there basically weekly since then, with a few weeks off. I’ve also written pieces for AfterEllen and the Lambda Literary Foundation this year, and I am writing a quarterly roundup of lesbian erotica on LambdaLiterary.org, two of which were published in 2010, in the fall and in the winter.

If you’d like to follow the pieces I write elsewhere, you can follow to the blog over on mrsexsmith.com online or by RSS.

In books, I have pieces in Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica and Best Lesbian Erotica 2011. Stories of mine were accepted to Gotta Have It: 60 Stories of Sudden Sex and Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, but I haven’t seen copies of either of those yet. Persistence is due out in the spring or summer of 2011, I’m not sure exactly when.

The big news for publications, though, is the BDSM lesbian erotica anthology I am editing for Cleis Press! Deadline for submissions is January 1st 2011, and it is due out in the fall. I’ve had some amazing submissions so far, but there are still a few more days and I haven’t read everything. I’m really excited to be editing an anthology, and I’ve had some fantastic submissions so far.

Reviews & Affiliates:

I wrote a ton of reviews in 2010. In fact, in looking back over the archives, sometimes the reviews were completely dominating any other types of posts. I’m sure you can understand it is really fun to get sex toys in the mail. And it’s hard to turn them down when they are so generously offered. But … I have an overflowing toy box. I have most of the toys I’ve wanted, and I’m being a lot more discerning about what I review and what I take into my (not so spacious) apartment. I haven’t completely stopped doing reviews, though I hope you’ve noticed that there are significantly fewer posts about products than there used to be.

I’m trying to review more books than I used to, so I introduced Friday Reads. I’m trying to feature a queer or gender or sexy book on Fridays, though it doesn’t seem to be every Friday so far. So it goes! But one of my own personal goals is to read more books, so this is a good way to do that.

I added quite a few affiliates in 2010, including my own store at the Stockroom, Early 2 Bed in Chicago, and Cocksexual (because everyone can have fun with cocks), as well as affiliations with the new sites Heavenly Spire and QueerPorn.TV.

Awards:

You all voted Sugarbutch as the Best Sex/Short Story/Erotica site for the Lezzy Awards for the second year in a row! And I was included on the Best Sex Bloggers list at #27.

Last but not least, after that roundup, here’s some of my favorite pieces from the year that weren’t top viewers but are worth reading, and told the story of what was going on for me.

There is still two more days to December, so perhaps I’ll get something else written and up. But if I don’t, then I hope this will keep you occupied while I take my break and write like mad in January.

Happy New Year, all.

January’s Leave of Absence

You know how sometimes, something happens, like an explosion, an emotional evening where you end up yelling and crying and rushing out of the house in the middle of the night for some fresh air, and beating yourself up for being in the same patterns … and how sometimes, when that happens, your brain makes a sudden leap forward, and BING a light goes on, and you kind of “get it” in a new way? And then you know how sometimes when that happens, you create this whole new system for yourself, A New Way Of Being Or Operating, and you gear up to implement that in your life?

Yeah, so that happened last week.

And I decided I’m going to take January off of writing here, to remove all the tasks that are not essential (which leaves me with writing my SexIs column weekly, and promotion for Sideshow, LSM, and Body Electric), and devote the whole month to a larger project I’ve been dreaming of the last two months.

So I’ve been letting this idea percolate as I’ve been preparing to go on a self-imposed writing retreat, and this week I decided I would get up early on Monday morning and head out to the writer’s office space that I rent near my apartment.

But yesterday, the snow showed up, and this morning, the subways around my house were down. The MTA advised we should stay inside.

The winds are up to 50mph and I hear the wind chill is 6 degrees. But out my window, the South Brooklyn rooftops look beautiful.

You know how sometimes you make a decision, and you think, “Okay, this is it, it’s going to be different this time, this is gonna work, this is how I’m going to move forward,” and then something conspires against you? So weird. I guess this is just the world telling me to prove it: Prove how much I want to make this really happen, for reals, not just something my head intends to do but I don’t actually follow through with.

So I’ve been working at home today, and one of my tasks is to write a blog post. I’m going to try to write through some of the posts I’ve been intending to get to in this next week, to clear my to-do list and be prepared for this month-long retreat in January. I’ve got some word count aims, some daily aims, some weekly aims. At the end of the month, I’m going to head upstate for a week and write there, isolate myself a little more for the final push.

This is a new experiment, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m going to have to ramp up my discipline and structure and really go for it. It kind of seems like it corresponds with the whole New Year’s resolution things, and in some ways I guess it does, since I tend to get pretty reflective in the dark time of year, but in other ways it’s just what is next for me.

Who knows if this will work, and take me to where I want to go—but it’s a start, and it’s an experiment, to see what happens. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t.

I have plenty of emails to catch up on, Butch Lab to work on, the next Symposium to plan, articles to write, Sideshow … no shortage of projects and fascinating things to think about. So I’ll be writing a few more things this week, and then I’ll see you in February.

But now, I’m going to take a walk in the snow, and get back to work after the sun sets.

Femmes Needed for PhD Study

UPDATE: Matt has more than enough interviews for his study, thank you for helping!

Why hello femmes, I have a request:

One of my most favorite people, Matt, a buddy of mine from Seattle who now lives in the Bay Area, is doing his PhD research on femmes who are currently partnered with a trans man. He’s coming Eastward in early January and is looking for subjects to interview in New York City and possibly Northampton as well. I think he prefers to do these interviews in person, but he is willing to do them by Skype, too.

Here’s the flyer for the study, which describes who he’s looking for and what he’s seeking:

Study Recruitment of Femmes

Are you a femme identified woman over the age of 18? Are you currently coupled with a FTM identified person who has begun medical transition? If so, you may be eligible to participate in a study regarding the nature of a range of feelings and attitudes about body image. Study participants will be asked to participate in a 1-1.5 hour recorded, confidential interview. This study is part of a dissertation, a requirement for completion of a PsyD at the Wright Institute. If you are interested in participating, please contact the researcher, Matt Goldenberg, M.A Thank you very much for your interest.

Contact him directly if this describes you, and you’re interested in participating. I’m including his Letter Of Introduction here in this post after the jump; read on if you’re interested. And please do pass this on.

Kelli Dunham: Mini-Interview

Kelli Dunham, writer, comic. kellidunham.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

I love the word butch for myself but also love the umbrella term masculine of center which seems to encompass a lot more folks in a very positive way. I’ve learned over the years that I don’t have to do what Grace Moon calls “Butch/Femme realism” to be butch. I don’t have to fix cars or even be tough. I’m not tough, I cry at dog food commercials, I cry on the subway. I like that part of myself, and I’m glad as I’ve gotten older that I’ve been able to move away from needing to pretend to be the strong and silent type (which I ain’t) in order to be butch.

2. Which words and labels, if any, do you use to describe yourself and your identities?

Butch, Mama Butch, Genderqueer (if describing myself to folks under 30, usually), Wanna Be Glitter Butch. And Boi, but only to those with whom I’m close. Like my girlfriend calls me boi, and have another close friend who calls Munchkin, who is her own variation, I think, on boi. I think people who are closer to me (rather than those who see my on a stand up comedy stage) see me as more Boi than Butch.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

It doesn’t matter, I wouldn’t have listened since I already knew everything. But for starters:

“Saunter in a dignified manner away from the flannel drawstring pants. NOW!”

AND

“Good fucking Lord goofball, you can wear men’s underwear and you’ll be FINE!!!”

AND

“Don’t wait for the grown-ups. They aren’t coming. You’re the grown-up now and you get to make it up as you go along.”

Elisha Lim: Mini-Interview

Elisha Lim, artist. newhearteveryday.blogspot.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

I’m a gay butch, I’m attracted to other butches. That seems to immediately abandon a lot of butch stereotypes. Domineering, possessing or even providing for a feminine person doesn’t profit me, and I hope I can always confront any accompanying butch sexism, in myself and my surroundings. I’m a proudly feminist butch.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

I’m queer, I’m trans, I’m a they, I’m a s/he, I’m easily confused, but one thing’s for sure, I’m always thrilled when you call me handsome. In other words butch forever.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender

Oh man, this question can bring tears to my eyes. You never needed to be a girl! You’re something else, and it’s okay, and it’s natural, and it’s as old and real and sure and plain as the birds and bees.

Bonus: Anything to add?

I’m working on 100 Butches, 100 Femmes (with Leah Lakshmi) and a wall calendar called The Illustrated Gentleman.

A Queer, Divine Dissatisfaction

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive.
—Martha Graham

I find myself thinking about this quote often lately, the “queer, divine dissatisfaction” frequently bouncing around in my mind. There’s something up with me these last few months, something askew, something just not quite right that I can’t place.

Despite that my writing and freelance design (did you know I build websites professionally?) work is going quite well, despite the launch of Butch Lab last week after three months of work, despite having my very first erotica anthology in the works and the inbox filling up as the deadline approaches, something still feels unsatisfactory.

Unlike many folks, I actually enjoy the winter holidays, and I’m having a good time building a home out of my lovely apartment that I share with Kristen, especially since my former roommate left and we have the space to ourselves. It’s our first winter holiday season together—I haven’t been going back to where I grew up the past few years and Kristen decided not to go this year, so we are going through our families’ traditions and choosing our favorites, making up some new ones as we build our life together.

I feel better and better about New York City, I never would’ve guessed I’d be here this long and despite traveling to the West Coast four times this year, I had a dream a few months back that I had to move back to where I grew up, and I was all for it, excited to be returning, until I realized I would be leaving New York. No more Sideshow, no more readings at Happy Endings and the Bowery, no more D train across the Manhattan bridge and events at the Center, no more Lesbian Sex Mafia, no more Kelli and Cheryl and Dacia and Mamone and Anne and Em and Grace and Diana and IDP and Prospect Park. And I panicked, in the dream, and yelled NO I’m not ready! and I woke up realizing I really wasn’t. I’m not. My Brooklyn freelance life is great, the best way I’ve lived in New York so far. I’ve been in the same apartment for three-plus years, longer than I’ve lived in any single place since the house I grew up in. I’ve been in New York five and a half years, and I left Seattle after being there six and a half years, so I’m getting close to having lived here longer than anywhere else. And though I thought I’d be way ready to go after this long in this concrete jungle, that I’m staying and making a life here actually feels pretty good.

And hi, have you seen my very sexy, gorgeous, radiant girlfriend? Not to objectify her, except well, yes, to objectify her just a little, because she likes that and I generally have permission to do so here in my little online world, and because her sexy gorgeousness is just one part of her and one part of what I’m madly in love with about her, other things being: her adventurous baking experiments, her kitchen tenacity in general, her extraordinary ability to communicate emotionally, the way she can work a room at a party, the shade of blue her eyes sparkle when she’s excited, the shade of pink her skin flushes, her high high sex drive, her openness to playing, how determined she is to make a place for herself in the world, how incredibly thoughtful she is at making the people around her feel comfortable and safe and interesting, her sensitive big heart.

I could go on.

Not to brag, except well, yes, to brag just a little bit, out of an honoring of what I’m grateful for, and because I really thought I’d never find somebody this amazing, and I was starting to get really convinced that I’d have to settle, that I wouldn’t find someone this good for me.

I almost feel stable! I love what I’m doing, I love where I’m going and what plans I have in 2011, this last year has been probably my favorite time period my whole life, I’ve never been this happy or satisfied … so why am I feeling a little bit unhappy and unsatisfied? My logical brain can’t quite wrap my head around it, but there’s something kind of shadowy that I get a glimpse of every once in a while, lurking behind my lungs somewhere.

And … well, that’s about it. On the one hand, my beautiful life. On the other hand, this shadow. I don’t know what it is. Hello, shadow, what are you? Who are you? Where do you come from? I’m not that scared of you right now, more just … curious. Tell me what it is you came here for. Let me know what you’re hiding from me.

It seems to be so quiet, subtle. I’m not sure I can force a shadow to reveal itself, especially not if I go after it with a spotlight.

So I’ll try to wait, and make a space for it to show itself, and be ready to hear whatever is going on, when it is ready to reveal itself.

Lesbian BDSM Erotica Anthology: Submissions Due January 1st

Reminder! I’m editing my very first anthology for Cleis Press of lesbian BDSM erotica to be published in fall 2011, and submissions are due January 1st.

I’m especially interested in some play stories, with impact toys, floggings, knife play, bondage, leather gear, whips and chains, play parties, saint andrew’s crosses, role play—things like that.

If you haven’t submitted yet, or written a story for this anthology yet, there’s still time and I’d love to read what your dirty minds can come up with.

Call for Submissions: Lesbian BDSM Erotica Anthology
[Title Forthcoming] To be published by Cleis Press in fall 2011

Editor Sinclair Sexsmith is looking for hot, sexy, well-written stories about kinky sex between queer women, from bondage scenarios to power play to role play to sadism and masochism to sensation play for a new anthology of lesbian BDSM erotica. Looking for characters with a range of age, race, sexual experience, gender identity and gender expression: butch, femme, genderqueer, gender-non-conforming, dapper, and others will all be considered. Cis women, trans women, and genderqueer characters who identify with the lesbian community are welcome. Stories should have strong literary voice, characters, tension, and rising action. All characters must be over 18, prose only will be considered. For examples of what I am looking for, see Tristan Taormino’s collection Best Lesbian Bondage Erotica.

Payment: USD $50 and two copies of the book upon publication.
Deadline: January 1, 2011
Unpublished stories preferred.

How to submit: Send your story in a Times New Roman 12 point black font Word document (.doc) with pages numbered of 1,500 to 5,000 words to [email protected] Double space the document and indent the first line of each paragraph. US grammar required. If you are using a pseudonym, provide your real name and be clear under which you would like to be published. Include your mailing address and a 50 words or less bio in the third person. Publisher has final approval over the manuscript.

About the editor: Sinclair Sexsmith runs the award-winning personal online writing project Sugarbutch Chronicles: The Gender, and Relationship Adventures of a Kinky Queer Butch Top at www.sugarbutch.net. With work published in various anthologies, including the Best Lesbian Erotica series, Sometimes She Lets Me: Butch/Femme Erotica, and Visible: A Femmethology volume 2, Mr. Sexsmith also writes columns for online publications and facilitates workshops on sex, gender, and relationships. Find her full portfolio and schedule at www.mrsexsmith.com.

John Gagon: Butch Mini-Interview

John Gagon, data application programmer

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

My relationship with the word is that it carries with it something that’s not necessarily pure masculine and not necessarily rough and tough, it’s more the voice, appearance, trim hair, compatible with leather and less so with silk/feathers/lace or ghetto-silk (nylon). It’s not too stylish, it’s plain, feels Jimmy Dean, cool and relaxed and comfortable in skin. It also has a ballsy feel and while not necessarily rough and tough, it can be and it can be prone to a little anger. It’s adventurous and playful, not overly ticklish. Can be emotionally sensitive but not too physically sensitive, can play dom and appreciate masochism. Not too shy of verbal… or anything. The masculinity is incidental and it’s not always macho or aged. A spikey haired boy is butch just as say a biker. There’s often a mechanic penchant, it can be a little intellectual too and suave. It’s more rough around the edges than just leather and chain with cigar and scowl. It’s all a bit butch but the visual is less soft, shiney, no sequins, not flashy or sensitive/impractically fashioned. It’s pragmatic and useful. Someone who is butch can serve but also expects some loyalty or submission in return. Butch lesbians are butch if they like to crop their hair but they can have long hippy hair or something else. A good pair of jeans and cap, tshirt are butch. Usually not in a dress unless it’s cultural like sarong/kilt etc. But it can bend and mix. A bearded dude in a burlesque wedding dress or a female in a suit can be butch but a bearded man with lipstick and a roll of the eyes/queen is not so much. A soft lipstick lesbian is not going to seem butch except in that general appearance just like bears and leathermen can have lisp and peakybrows.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

Butch, burly, scruffy, woofy, natural, bearish, (insert animal here), hairy, wolf, pup, dog. The butch honorifics tend to be masculine: master, sir, boy, pup.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

I would tell my younger self that sex isn’t evil, isn’t going to damn me to hell if I love someone or fornicate. that religion is dogma and unrealistic. That gender is flexible. We are all a bit hermaphroditic in our brains. I would promote safer sex, responsible sex (disclosure of risks), honesty with self. Don’t do things for others, do things for yourself. Rules are not absolute. I would reveal more of what I’ve found out through genetics and research… that while it’s not a choice, honesty is a choice and so in a sense, you can promote the freedom for people to define themselves. I’d teach myself love, trust, a bit more about what BDSM is all about. A bit more about finding the right guy.

Kestryl Cael Lowery: Butch Mini-Interview

Kestryl Cael Lowrey
Performer/Writer/Activist
pomofreakshow.com/kessmain and/or kestrylcael.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

I didn’t learn what ‘butch’ was until I had been out for several years. It was the same summer I got my first motorcycle jacket, and a lover asked if I had read ‘Stone Butch Blues.’ Of course, I hadn’t; I devoured the text within days, which then led to library searches and more and more reading as I found a sense of history. I was amazed to learn there was a word, an identity, a community that matched what I’d been doing (I thought) on my own. Looking backwards, I came into butch.

For me, butch is the best word I’ve found to articulate the way that I do gender. Over the years, my own interpretation of ‘butch’ has grown and shifted—and I know this will continue as I live in/with ‘butch’.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

I’m suspicious of labels, but I use a lot of them. Queer, butch, dandy, trans, leather, Daddy, performer, artist, activist, writer, scholar, and theorist are the ones that I use most frequently.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender

For sex and sexuality: It’s okay to have a lot of sex. It’s also okay to not have a lot of sex. Either way, get your first cock, and make sure it’s a good one. It will make all the difference.

As for gender: It will always be complicated. Trust me, you don’t want it any other way.

Friday Reads: Best Lesbian Erotica 2011

I had the pleasure of reading at Kathleen Warnock‘s New York City literary series Drunken! Careening! Writers! on Thursday night in celebration of the new release from Cleis Press, Best Lesbian Erotica 2011, in which I have a story.

Kiki DeLovely, Xan West, Charlotte Dare, D.L. King, Theda Hudson, and I all read excerpts from our pieces included in this year’s book, and Kathleen read from her introduction (and was her all-around amazing hostess self).

It was a blast of an event. It’s become a little bit of a holiday tradition, since BLE always comes out around this time of year and Kathleen has hosted the official New York City kickoff for quite a while, for as long as I’ve been in New York anyway. Kathleen always jokes, “Pick one up for grandma. Perfect gift.”

It’s my favorite erotica series. The quality is always amazing, and the 2011 edition is no exception. I think Kathleen said there are contributors from six different countries this year! I had to mention it in my recent Cliterotica: Lesbian Erotica Roundup for Lambda Literary Foundation, regardless that I have a story in there it’s an incredible anthology.

Here’s the description:

Edited by Kathleen Warnock, Selected and introduced by Lea DeLaria. In Best Lesbian Erotica 2011, women find love and lust in all the right places – kitchens, cars, dance clubs, dungeons, and even a flowerbed. This year’s guest judge is the anything-but-shy Lea DeLaria, the multi-talented writer, stand-up comic, singer, and actor. She has selected work from some of the best-known writers of lesbian erotic fiction as well as debuts of startling new talents. A 1958 Mercury Park Lane rides like a sexual time machine in D.L. King’s “Walk Like a Man.” In Betty Blue’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” a lost boi encounters a firespirit on a romantic celestial plane. In Kiki DeLovely’s “The Third Kiss,” a woman discovers it’s not a good idea to tell your crush your dreams about her – unless you want them to come true.

And remember, there’s a 20% discount on orders by December 31st. Or you can always pick it up from Amazon if you must.

Ellis: Butch Mini-Interview

Musician, ellis-music.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

I identify as a butch woman. I think of “butch” as being a synonym for being a more masculine woman. When I was younger, I thought that butch meant tough, and I worried I wasn’t tough enough. I love pretty ladies and I used to think the only way to have a pretty lady love me back was to be more tough.

But now I’m realizing that toughness isn’t as strong as I thought it was, or at least it is different than I thought it was. Now, for me gentleness is king and I’ve found kindness to be the path to a more steadfast and stronger me.

So my understanding of what it is to be a butch woman looks different then it used to, maybe softer in some ways, less defensive. And, happily, it turns out that my pretty lady loves this gentle butch!

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

Butch, queer, woman loving woman, woman, buddhist, peaceful warrior, runner, musician, songwriter, human …

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

Hmmm… I would tell myself to relax and be patient more.

I’d tell myself that sex isn’t about being someone who is good in bed or having to perform. When I was younger, I had a bit of defensiveness about wanting to be as good as I thought maybe a man would be. Now I know that it’s so not even the point! Loving someone is loving someone. The parts aren’t a big thing. Connecting to the person you are with and loving them is better when there is vulnerability and real sharing.

I would also tell myself that there is a joy in discovering who you are and really the thing that matters most is cultivating the heart. I would encourage myself to care about the feelings that come up as a butch woman living in a culture that doesn’t see or recognize butch. I would tell myself that the fear, inadequacy, anger, and sense of outsider-ness that I felt wasn’t about me, and that it is a result of being in a culture that doesn’t recognize the butch woman.

Vittoria repetto: Butch Mini-Interview

poet, poetry host, chiropractor, applied kinesiologist
vittoriarepetto.wordpress.com
www.drvittoriarepetto.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”
It’s an ID that I’m comfortable with and femmes and other butches see the butch in me. Old guard lesbians from my life have a problem seeing it but that is their problem.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?
My tag line is the hardest working guinea butch dyke poet on the lower east side.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?
I would tell my younger self that you didn’t have to be freaked out as a feminist because you wanted a “penis” to make love to your girlfriend.

Emma Crandall: Butch Mini-Interview

Emma Crandall
Brooklyn, New York
writer, college professor, organizer, fashion inspiration

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

I haven’t always identified as “butch,” but it was definitely my first queer identity. There have been people who have told me I’m not butch, and people who have laughed in my face if I said I wasn’t. So many people assume “butch” is a rigid category, but I don’t find that to be true. Still, I like how polarizing butch can be as an identity/identification. I love our history as butches. For me, butch is the only word that explains my past experiences, my particular lesbian heritage, and my style of queerness.

2. Which words and labels, if any, do you use to describe yourself and your identities?

BUTCH BRUT.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

I think I had really good instincts as a young queer, but I should have trusted them more. I always interrogated identities and made up my own vocabulary. I understood my queerness as something that was inborn but also creative. I feel really lucky that I had that knowledge at a young age.
Oddly, I think the biggest thing I would teach my younger self would be about self-protection. I put myself in damaging situations just because I didn’t feel valuable yet, or didn’t know how to love myself. I want queer kids to know they don’t have to put up with all the damage that’s thrown at them, from within our communities or outside of them. Standing up and saying, “This is violent and damaging to me and it has to stop” is one of the most empowering things you can do.

Butch Enough: Butch Lab Symposium #1

The problem with butch identity—well, any identity category of social, sexual, political, geographical, or other significance really—is permission. If you get past the problem of stereotyping, of course, and how stereotypes are based on fact but simplified, sprayed down with fake plastic snow and called a tree when in fact they don’t grow or move or change or catch breezes or encourage nesting.

The problem with butch identity is permission. Who gives you permission to be butch? Are you butch “enough?” I questioned myself. I wasn’t sure I bought in to what I saw reproduced around me. So I sought out mentors: S. Bear Bergman, Ivan E. Coyote, Patrick Califia, Karlyn Lotney, Jack Halberstam. People whose writings I could adore secretly in the dark and examine with a microscope, searching for myself hidden between the lines.

“You’re not that butch,” others would say to me. “Oh don’t say that,” they’d shush me with pursed lips after I dropped That Word into casual conversation. As if I’d just called myself something insulting, something demeaning. A bad word. Butch is a bad word, one of those locked and loaded words used against us by classmate and teacher alike. Such a different, awkward, not-right way to be, according to the eyes of the world.

But I didn’t see it that way. From the minute a girl—a femme—I was madly, stupidly, unrequitedly in love with leaned in and whispered, “I think you’re butch,” I knew it was tattooed on all the walls of my heart and when they split this body open they’ll find those five simple letters ink-stamped over every organ. Butch heart. Butch lungs. Butch stomach and trachea and diaphragm and sternum.

I saw it as an honor.

(I still do.)

And so I started reading, and I saw it as a lineage, connecting me to dozens of other writers and thinkers, radical activists and dapper dressers, people I could look up to for style, advice, insight.

But still: Was I enough? Was I “faking” it? Was I an imposter? Goddess knows that’s the most dangerous thing to be.

My experiences told me no, this is real, but my head took convincing. I craved permission. A card to carry, a gold stamp: certified, verified, “real” butch. I tagged along, hanging on my mentor’s every room for approval, validation. I consumed like I’d been starved of knowledge of my own people—which I had.

Ultimately, it wasn’t anyone else who gave me permission: it was me. I splashed around enough to know that while I didn’t have the answers, no one else did either. They only had guidelines, ideas, what had worked and what hadn’t, the stories of their own piecemeal patchwork lives. But boy, did we have questions.

Questions like: What is butch? What does it mean to me? I savor these questions like a fine rich dessert. I turn them over and over in my mouth with my tongue. And as much as I crave their answering, I crave the questions they raise even more.

So here’s what butch is, for me: Permission. Permission to be myself, that little solid stardust shiny nugget I feel somewhere in my core, like a diamond lodged between L5 and L4 of the lumbar spine vertebrae. Permission to wear what I like, to love who I desire, to play how I crave, to decorate and adorn my body how I choose. To experience all the things this world has to offer, without guilt or obligation, but with curiosity and an open heart and experimental hands. Permission to be right where I’m at, regardless of whether that’s where I was yesterday. Permission to explore and seek pleasure, to connect and create friction, to question and make change. Permission to be exactly who I am, doing exactly what I’m doing, to have bright burning faith that everything I do works toward the greatest liberation for everyone, as much as possible, all the time, in all ways.

And just in case you need it: I give you permission, too.

Patricia “Cacahuate” Manuel: Butch Mini-Interview

Patricia “Cacahuate” Manuel
Elite amateur boxer
USA Boxing profile

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”

The older I’ve become and the more comfortable I have grown in my own skin, I have realized how much of myself is tied into the word “butch”. When I was younger, I was self-conscious of having my sex misread by other people. Eventually as I grew up I realized that there wasn’t necessarily a contradiction between my female sex and my masculine gender identity. For me, this is the meaning of butch and it truly expresses who I am.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?

Like I stated earlier, butch is probably the best word/label to describe me. I usually don’t care much for whatever words people use to identify me. Unless of course I feel like I can make a joke of it.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?

I’d definitely tell my younger self, “Cut your hair off. The chicks will totally dig it.”

It’s Official: ButchLab.com Has Launched!

This is the new butch project I’ve been cryptically describing for the last few months: www.butchlab.com.

Here’s what’s over there right now: the Inspiration list, which is the new Top Hot Butches database of folks; the Symposium, which is the blog carnival link round-up (the first of which will be posted later today!); and the Butch Lab blog, which you can subscribe to for updates on the project, interviews, announcements, and all sorts of other things.

I have so much to say about it, so many things to describe and explain. HUGE THANK YOU goes out to the interns who have made this possible: Kyle, Lauren, Sarah, Roxanne, and Yvette, I am so grateful for your help in compiling the Inspiration list and for helping me knock around ideas.

We do have an official press release out, if you’d like a copy here’s the PDF. You can also follow @butchlab on Twitter if you’d like to be notified of updates and publications.

Please forward the URL widely, comment, share, and keep up with the new project. I really hope you enjoy it.

Second Anniversary

Yesterday marked two years together with Kristen. You can read all about our first date, if you wan

t to, since I used to write up everything, and since that night was particularly notable and so hot.

This was my gift to her, yesterday. I’ll post a shot of what she got me later.

It’s a garter flask. And if you promise not to tell Kristen, I’ll tell you that it came from You-Nique Garters on Etsy and they come in lots of colors.

Friday Reads: How To Build A Fire by Erin Bried

Remember Erin Bried’s first book, How To Sew A Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew? This week she releases her second book, How To Build A Fire: And Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew. One of those things might be just right for that person on your holiday gift list you haven’t bought anything for yet, hmm?

Here’s the description:

As members of the Greatest Generation, our grandfathers were not only defined by the Depression but also by their heroic service to the country in World War II. Courageous, responsible, and involved, they understand sacrifice, hard work, and how to do whatever is necessary to take care of their loved ones. They also know how to have a rollicking good time.

Sensible, fun, and inspiring, How to Build a Fire offers a rare glimpse into the hearts and minds of grandfathers near and far by sharing their practical skills and sweet stories on how to be stronger, smarter, richer, and happier. Inside are more than one hundred essential step-by-step tips for fixing, leading, prospering, playing, and hosting, including how to

• buck up and be brave in the face of adversity
• play hard and break in a baseball mitt
• bait a hook and catch a big fish
• look dapper and tie a perfect tie
• get a raise and earn more
• write a love letter and kindle romance
• change a flat tire and save the day
• stand up and give a sparkling toast
• play the harmonica and make your own music

Loaded with charming illustrations, good humor, and warm nostalgia, How to Build a Fire is the perfect handbook for guys or gals of any age. The first of its kind, this collection of our grandfathers’ hard-earned wisdom will help you build confidence and get back to what’s really important in life.

I haven’t had a chance to read it all yet, really, but it’s so much fun to flip through.

Check out howtobuildafirebook.com or follow Erin on Twitter @niftybutton.

The “Butch Buddy” Movie

Did you ever see the film By Hook Or By Crook? When I saw it at a little indy theater in Seattle, with my then-girlfriend, I heard it called the “butch buddy” movie. (It’s too bad it didn’t click for me then that because the film reminded me of our relationship, that the relationship probably wasn’t going to last. But that’s another story.)

Apparently Lesbian News called it “The top butch buddy movie of all time!” … Are there other butch buddy movies that I don’t know about? Is there a whole butch buddy genre? Where are they hiding?!

Anyway here’s the trailer.

And the description of the film:

This innovative Sundance hit spins a tremendously entertaining adventure story about two butch/trans buddies on the streets of San Francisco in search of love and money. Starring LA performer/artist Harriet “Harry” Dodge (Cecil B. Demented, The Joy of Life) and former Tribe 8 dyke punk rocker Silas Howard, By Hook or By Crook remains one of the most popular queer cult movies of all time.

Shy (Howard) is a small-town loner who dumps a diner job and thumbs to San Francisco to pursue a life of petty crime. Along the way, Shy stumbles into the off-kilter Valentine (Dodge). An unexpected and magical friendship sparks, as they steal and grift their way towards understanding themselves and the crazy world around them. Co-starring performance artiste’ Stanya Kahn and super sexy San Francisco dyke poet Carina Gia.

Why am I telling you this? Well, two reasons. One, it’s on Netflix Instant Watch, and if, like me, that service has pretty much replaced your television, you might want to curl up one of these wintery nights and watch it.

Second, Silas Howard is reading at Sideshow in December! Come join us for the last Sideshow of the year and hear some great stories. Along with Silas, comic Heather Gold, one of my favorite buddies Whitney Porter, and hot queer all-star couple Elizabeth Whitney & Lea Robinson will be sharing their work also.

This month’s theme is FAMILY/TRADITIONS, starring:
Heather Gold (Tummelvision.tv)
Silas Howard (By Hook or By Crook)
Whitney Porter (Ping Pong Literary Journal)
Lea Robinson (Butch Mamas) and Elizabeth Whitney (The Secretaries)

“The Complexity of Butch and Femme”

Perhaps you remember: about two summers ago Esther D. Rothblum, Ph.D., who is a Professor of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University, was conducting an extensive survey about butch and femme identities, both independently and in relation to each other.

I put the call up here and she let me know that many of the participants interviewed were from having announced it here.

The article is finalized and now out, published in Psychology of Sexualities Review, Vol. 1, No. 1.

Dr. Rothblum sent me a PDF copy and said it was fine to reproduce here, so in case you’d like to read it, here it is: The complexity of Butch and Femme among sexual minority women in the 21st century.

The Sugarbutch 2010 Holiday Gift Guide

The last few years, I’ve done a holiday gift guide of sorts, ideas for gifts. Last year I focused on non-gendered gifts, gifts that could be for anyone. In 2008, I specifically listed things of masculine-of-center or dapper interest. When I started this in 2007, I had a butch/femme guide which included some typical girly girl gifts as well. Because I’ve got a gender fetish, I like gift giving excuses, and I like to give gifts that are highly gendered (well, when I know the person who is receiving it would like that kind of thing, of course) and gifts that are a little decadent, maybe classic and a little uncommon, things that we wouldn’t necessarily buy for ourselves but that add that little extra pizazz to our outfits, our gender presentations, our fashion.

This year I’m focusing on my own personal wishlist: things butch-related that I’ve always kinda wanted in my arsenal, but don’t yet have. If you’d like to buy one of these things for me, well gosh, thanks in advance, I’m flattered, and if you email me we can perhaps figure that out. (You can also make a donation to Sugarbutch by using the Paypal button over there at the bottom of the sidebar. This site is an expensive endeavor, and is a labor of love, and any financial support is greatly appreciated, and will probably go toward the new bed that Kristen and I need.) But that’s not the purpose of this list so much as to share some inspirations and ideas for the holidays.

One more note—if you are an Amazon shopper, consider clicking through my Amazon links before your final check out, will you? If you start here before you check out, you’ll give me a tiny amount of kickback, a few bucks here and there that I can put toward the cost of this site. And hey, if you’re going to be shopping there anyway, why not help me out? I’d appreciate it.

These gifts could be for girls or boys or grrrls or bois or your mom or your lover or whomever, and is not intended to be restricted to one type of gender. It’s just things that I am currently coveting, and would love to receive this year. On to the ideas!

Monogrammed handkerchiefs seem so classy. I have definitely picked up the habit of carrying one around, though usually it’s one of the hunter greens that Kristen has given to me. Sometimes I need to wear something a little more classic and upscale, though, and something a little more delicate and monogrammed would feel special. I know it seems a little indulgent, but isn’t that partially the point? To get someone something they wouldn’t necessarily get on their own, to encourage a dapper or polished expression that makes us just a little extra sparkly.

It seems silly to pay a lot for a gym bag, I mean just any bag will do. I have a cheap canvas bag from the national scuba diving association because my sister is a member and ended up with two bags from them, so she let me use one. It is, sadly, on its last legs and the zipper just broke, but it’s still pretty much functional, and I can’t quite find the perfect bag to replace it. What I really want is the Fred Perry Gym Bag, but it looks like I missed that window and it’s no longer available. But that style! The retro two-toned barrel bag is exactly what I want. Wish I could find one with a similar look! Any leads?

While I’m talking about gym bags … I already have one actually, but a personalized dopp kit might be a great gift. A “dopp kit” is another word for a toiletries bag for travel, basically. Not sure where that came from but it’s a kind of sophisticated word for a (in my mind) necessary accessory. Etsy has quite a few, I like this traveler bag in navy seersucker. I always keep one packed for quick & easy traveling, and I take one to the gym also. Makes it easy to have everything all in one place, I don’t go around searching for things when I need to pack for a trip. Makes it much easier. There are ones that hang, too, and ones that have lots of little pockets … just depends on what you’re looking for. I like these, probably because it reminds me of the one my dad had when I was growing up.

I can’t justify the cost of a Bookbook Macbook cover when I just don’t have the disposable income these days, but oh my gosh I love them. I see they have iPad covers too. Oh, I suppose I can add an iPad to this wishlist, while I’m at it. For all the traveling I’ve been doing these days I think it’d be really useful to be able to carry around books in one device, since often a third of my carry-on is filled with books. Because they’re necessary! What if I get to Portland or Northampton or Providence or Tuscon and I need to reference something and I don’t have it on me?

I’ve been a little obsessed with shawl-collar sweaters this season, and of course they’re $200+. American Eagle has a nice one, though, for only about $60. I’m not crazy about the color navy but I bet I’d wear it regardless. I keep seeing guys in this kind of sweater everywhere, and I love the look of the shawl collar. I’m not usually one up on fashion trends, but this seems like a new thing for me. I’ve looked at other stores in my price range (like Old Navy and H&M) but it doesn’t look like they have these kinds of sweaters … doesn’t it just look like the kind of thing you’d wear while skiing the French Alps, or sipping hot chocolate by a fireplace while going over an important document on your iPad, or getting out of the car with bundles of holiday packages in tow to greet family? Seems so classic and boyish and adult.

I’ve had my eye on a valet stand for a long time. If I was still working at a daily office job, I would definitely pick one up—I’m never quite awake enough in the morning to make smart decisions about my clothes, so it’d be better if I set ’em all out the night before and had them all ready for me. Seems like there are lots of valet stands available online, ranging from about $75 to $250 plus. I wouldn’t need anything too fancy, just somewhere crisp and easy to lay out my next day’s clothes.

Anything by Kenneth Cole. Seriously, anything. Even if I already have that shirt or those pants or that leather bag, I would not mind another one. I will probably wear through it eventually, may as well have a backup. I mean how great is that raspberry scarf with the grey vest and black tie and jacket in that photo? I love it. If I had to pick one store that was the only place I’d get my clothes from, it’d probably be that one. Okay, that and Etsy. I know that’s kind of cheating, but the accessories at Etsy are essential—belt buckles and cuff links and ties, oh yes. I even requested an Etsy gift certificate on my wish list to family.

That’s all for this year! Hope this is useful in your gift-giving in the next month or so. I’ve been making the slow transition to celebrating solstice instead of christmas, so I think this year the gift exchange will be done on the 21st.

I’m curious, though: what are you most wishing to receive this year?

Oh, and … got any good gift ideas for Kristen, or for femmes in general?

PS: Fist Me This Christmas by the Wet Spots has been stuck in my head for the last week.

UPDATE: A couple more ideas, and some more links.

  • Holiday Wish List Made by Femmes from the Fuck Yeah Femmes tumblr. Support femme artists! Such as these aprons by Radical Muffin!
  • Feminist Gifts for Teen Girls from Bitch Magazine, in case you have a teen girl in your life
  • Other gift ideas that I didn’t mention and are great ideas: wooden hangers. Might seem a little anti-climatic, but they really upgrade a closet. And also, giant ice cube trays for my whiskey. Apparently, regular ice “bruises” the whiskey by melting and watering it down, but giant ice cubes don’t melt as fast and keep the whiskey more pure.

Black Swan. Just, Wow.

The new film Black Swan opens today.

When the trailer came out and Dorothy Snarker wrote about every detail, I was intrigued. When Kottke posted the international Black Swan movie posters, I was impressed.

And then I was offered a ticket to the screener in New York a couple weeks ago, and I can’t wait to see it again.

Here’s the trailer, if you haven’t seen it.

So, a couple quick things about the film. I’m not going to go on & on about my analysis of it, you should just see it. Though you should know that it’s kind of a horror movie, definitely has some gore, and lots of suspense. They do an amazing job of showing the glamour and beauty of ballet while also juxtaposing the damage that kind of work does on the human body, the reality of starving (or being bulimic), of broken toenails from pointe shoes, of the competition and near-impossible stress the work demands of a body.

And don’t forget that this film is directed Darren Aronofsky, the man behind “Requiem for a Dream” and “The Wrestler.” That should give you a sense of the level of creepy emotionality behind this film (if you’ve seen either of those).

The queer blogs are all painting it as though there’s this huge rivalry between Lily (Mila Kunis) and Nina (Natalie Portman), and the trailer certainly does a lot to back that up. But it isn’t about that so much as it’s about Nina against herself. About coming into her own sexual power, about striving so hard to be perfect that she’s lost her passion and delicious gusto, and is losing her bite, her teeth. Well, I don’t want to ruin it or anything, but she gets it back. Nina’s restraint through the beginning of the film is practically frustrating—but the release and climax is all the more satisfying.

I read a quote about the depth and bredth of female experience that this film portrays, and I really have to agree:

Using loaded code words — from “WHORE” scrawled on a mirror to the suffocating “mother” character, and infantilizing endearments like “sweet girl” and “little princess” to the domineering father figure who blatantly eroticizes her — the film is a hotbed of symbolism and Freudian psychology. Phrases “letting go” and “live a little” are spoken repeatedly. Jealousy, transcendence, paranoia, lust, the decay of the body, fragile self-esteem, self-mutilation — it’s like an early Liz Phair record in its interest in showing the fascinating breadth of the female experience.

And the conceit of the white swan and the black swan—reflected both on stage and off in the costuming of Portman and Kunis (who has black wings tattoed on her back)—provides a perfect visual and thematic metaphor for the warring factions of fear and desire inside a scared girl’s fraught relationship with her body. (Aronofsky explicitly referenced Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion,” David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s “The Red Shoes” as cinematic touchpoints.)

Despite the fact that the film was written by three men (Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin) and directed by another, Aronofsky said that they sought input from nearly a dozen professional ballets dancers, active and retired, to inform the world and the girls’ relationships. He also noted that there were aspects he filtered into his directing from watching how his wife, Rachel Weisz, approaches performing. One also suspects that there was a bit of a meta motivation in casting Winona Ryder in the role of the aging ballerina pushed aside to make room for Portman’s character as the new star.

Portman’s performance is a marvel in that so much of the camera work is done directly in her face. A potent transformation she makes during the story is remarkable, and this will surely do her the twin favors of shortlisting her for an Oscar and erasing any remaining memories of her participation in “Star Wars.” Well, that, and the scenes of her masturbating and having sex with Mila Kunis.

For a graphic sex scene the actresses, who are friends in real life (Portman suggested Kunis for the role of her rival, Lily) suggested that a couple of drinks would help grease the wheels, so to speak. A bottle of tequila was procured for the occasion, and though a day and a half were blocked for the sequence, Aronofsky, feeling guilty, took a half day away and moved on.

from Darren Aronofsky talks about making a ‘disturbing’ ballet film

There are plenty of other things to watch and read about this online if your curiosity is piqued, like the music video trailer and the featurette. And I am a little bit in love with the clutch Natalie carried to the New York premiere on November 30th. But—$1330 for a purse? Really? Even if it is a first edition of Lolita, I don’t think so. I’m told by my trusty Twitter friends that Rebound Designs on Etsy is the first to do those book clutches, and those prices are way better (and great to note with the holidays coming up).

I’m not an expert on these things, but everybody seems to be Oscar buzzing around this film, and I can see why. Natalie Portman is amazing in it. So restrained, controlled, precise. The control and precision of her facial expressions alone, wow.

If you see it, let me know what you think?

Welcome to Butch Lab!

I’m so thrilled you’ve stopped by! I’m your host, Sinclair Sexsmith. I run the online writing project Sugarbutch Chronicles, and I study gender and sexuality. I identify as butch myself, and a huge part of my journeys in recent years of coming to myself has been about my gender identity.

I’ve been working on Butch Lab for most of the fall of 2010, and I’m really excited to share the space with you.

I want to thank Kyle, Lauren, Yvette, Roxanne, and Sarah, who have been helping me set up this space and research hot inspirational folks who are featured on this site.

And I want to thank my lovely partner Kristen, who has been holding my hand since the beginning of this project, urging me onward and listening to my complaints throughout the process. I so appreciate the love and support.

Here’s some of the background about this project:

THE MISSION OF THE BUTCH LAB PROJECT

The mission of the Butch Lab Project is to promote a greater understanding of masculine of center gender identities, expressions, and presentations, through encouraging: 1. visibility, because we feel alone; 2. solidarity, because there are many of us out there, but we don’t always communicate with each other; and 3. an elevation of the discussion, because we have a long history and lineage to explore and we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

THE HISTORY OF THIS PROJECT

BUTCH LAB is the 2010 relaunch of Sinclair Sexsmith’s 2009 Top Hot Butches project, which was a list of the 100 “top hottest” butch, stud, AG, androgynous, genderqueer, and trans folks. What began as a visibility project, intended for fun and amusement and to encourage eye candy objectification, has evolved into a community-focused site discussing butch identity in its many manifestations.

Borrowing from the recent Butch Voices conferences, Butch Lab is a place for a myriad of masculine of center* identities, including, but not limited to, stud, macha, boi, andro, and genderqueer.

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. (From ButchVoices.com

Cis and trans women who are masculine of center or not feminine presenting in some way are included. Trans men are welcome and included, as are cis men, gay or straight, who identify with butch or intentional, radical, responsible masculinities.

THE BUTCH LAB WANTS YOU! TO CONTRIBUTE!

Butch Lab is seeking submissions! Here’s what you can do to contribute:

  • Comment! Talk to each other, engage in the disucssions about these identities.
  • Submit an image, video, or other media to the Fuck Yeah Butches tumblr site. It can be a depiction of yourself, someone who identifies as butch, someone who represents butch identity for you, or someone who serves as butch inspiration.
  • Submit to the monthly Butch Lab Symposium. It’s a cross between a blog carnival and a link round-up. Monthly, there is a question posed on the Butch Lab blog, and blogs which write on the question are featured on Butch Lab the following month in a carnival-style roundup. In exchange for participation, please repost the Symposium; see the full guidelines here.)
  • Submit an article to the Butch Lab blog. It can be reprinted from elsewhere. We can’t afford to pay you (yet), but we will provide you a byline. We are seeking writings on topics such as, but not limited to: why I don’t call myself butch; dapper fashion on a dime; bridging butch and trans; being better in bed; navigating the health system’s gender discrimination; haircuts, grooming, and the best products; radical masculinity; and more.
  • Participate in the Butch Lab Interview series. Email butchlabproject (at) gmail.com if you’d like to participate.

Please, have a look around!

Crash Pad Membership Winner—Join us for the Porn Party Tonight

And the winner of the one month level 2 Crash Pad Series membership is … AfroDisiac! Will email you directly with more information. And I hope you can join Garnet Joyce & I for the Porn Party tonight!

Didn’t win this time? Aw, sorry. Next time maybe. But you can still join us for the Porn Party—use coupon code 14E for 10% off any level of membership! Check out some of the beautiful stills from the scenes we’re going to watch.

A few folks have said things like, “Boy, that sounds fun! Too bad you live so far away!” But guess what? It doesn’t matter where you are, you can take part in the Porn Party—it happens at your place, and on Twitter!

Maybe I haven’t explained it quite well enough. Here’s what you do:

1. Make sure you’ve got a membership to the Crash Pad Series! Level 2 or 3 recommended (for streaming video—level 1 is photos only). Use coupon code 14E if you don’t have one yet, that’ll getcha 10% off. Dig up your password and have it on hand so you don’t have to scramble for it later.

2. Log on to Twitter and follow the hashtag #pornparty. You can also do this through TweetChat, which is a great way to follow conversations happening on Twitter.

3. At the specified time, in your time zone (6pm PST / 9pm EST) tonight, Wednesday December 1st, start up episode 81 of Crash Pad Series, and start up Twitter, watch, and post your thoughts. You can follow what we’re chatting about even without having a Twitter account, but it’d be more fun if you post your thoughts too (and include the hastag #pornparty so we see it!).

4. Bonus: follow @mrsexsmith and @garnetjoyce, the hosts of this Twitter Porn Party, and follow @crashpadseries and @pinkwhite and @shinelouise who are the makers of the Crash Pad Series, and follow @cinnamax, @tinahornsass, @billycastroxxx, @arabelleraphael, @thedylanryan, and @drewdeveaux who are some of the stars we’ll be watching in the scenes tonight! (Did I miss anybody?)

Get it? I hope you’ll join us!