AT: Mini-Interview

AT, Psychologist, Writer, Jock, Artist, Blues & Swing dancer.

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”
Butch says it as no other label can. Butches, for the most part, present tough and perform tender. I love the word Butch as it well characterizes the stuff of Butch.

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

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?
Thanks to me as frequently I give my younger self a big pat on my back for having never once wavered throughout my entire life in my presentation and performance of my identity, sexuality and gender as a Butch guy and Transmasculine. Everywhere I held fort, as a former teacher, getting my graduate degrees and later, in my years of private practice. I strutted my stuff and swaggered and loved special women all as the jock I was, athletic prowess and all taking my space the same as I did as a teenager able to kick a high and distant spiral while barefoot. The same too I did at thirty-something at Jones Beach out in the ocean far from shore, with my swimsuit tied around one ankle and swam naked in the deep ocean. It was my return to shallow waters and the shore fearing each time I would reach down to my ankle and discover my swimsuit no longer there. :-( It takes guts to live Butch!

Bonus: Anything you’d like to add?
Feminism near destroyed Butch and Femme, their attempts to bury us deep in a graveyard and to be forgotten and dismissed. Feminism failed at that, notwithstanding the years of pain and suffering on the part of so many Butches and Femmes forced underground, their presence denied during the many years of Feminism. Remember: only Butch and Femme existed pre feminism! I am deeply appreciative to the Butches today whose persistence of who they are validates our identity, gender and sexuality. It is the zing of the strings in my heart!

Jenni Olson: Mini-Interview

Jenni Olson is a writer, director, curator, filmmaker, and co-founder of PlanetOut.com. She is also director of e-commerce at WolfeVideo.com and author of The Queer Movie Poster Book. www.butch.org

Photo by Cheryl Mazak

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

Butch is a word that helps me speak proudly about a very important aspect of myself. I love that it enables me to embrace so many of my unique and special qualities in a celebratory way and to connect with others who are interested in dialogue about gender difference in society (especially other butches, and the girls who “get” me).

Like the word “queer,” the word “butch” has an outsider quality which reflects the reclamation of an identity that our larger society has historically (and currently) held in contempt. Proudly flying this flag is the first step in my personal manifesto of gender integrity in the face of perennial societal disapproval. It is part of a journey towards wholeness, healing and self-esteem — a journey which becomes somewhat easier as I get older, stronger and smarter. Somewhat.

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

Butch dyke, lesbian, queer. I am not a “gay woman.” I love that my kids call me Mom! I also proudly claim Q. Allan Brocka’s hilariously honest term from his Logo series, Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All The World: “Versatile Top.” I am also a closeted bisexual.

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

I would start with the currently popular phrase: “It gets better.” And then recite what I just wrote above in Question 1.

“It’s All Butch” 2011 Calendar

Photographer Debbie Boud has put together a 2011 calendar featuring butch pin-up photos, It’s All Butch.

Says Debbie:

“The It’s all Butch calendar came about from a blog on myspace a friend of mine did about Butch women from the L word and how sexy they were. I thought to myself that most of the women on the L word were not lesbians so I decided to create a venue that showed that Butch Lesbian women could be just as sexy as the femme women. The idea was to create a diverse array of Butch women. In 2010 Maria is 68 yrs old and was a professional roller derby gal in the 70s. In 2011 Torie is 17 yrs old. There are thin Butches, big Daddy Butches, and FTM [folks].”

She sent on some shots to show off here.

More information is available at cabelgalshideout.com, including bios and personal profiles of the models.

Good Girl, Bad Girl (Part Two)

WARNING: This story contains Daddy/girl play (and dirty talk). Read Part I.

Part II.

She is a bad girl.

There is very specific protocol if she wants me to fuck her. She is supposed to ask for it, nicely. If she’s embarrassed, she is to sit on my lap and tell me she has a secret.

She wants it, all the time. She is the first girl I’ve dated seriously who has a higher sex drive than I do.

I want her to own her desires. To know there’s nothing wrong or shameful about wanting to be fucked, to be opened, to be taken. But sometimes, she can’t. She forgets she’s supposed to ask, and instead drops hints and tries to turn me on, to entice me. Sometimes, this frustrates me. Sometimes, it becomes a game, reminding her she is a bad girl for wanting it and not being able to tell me.

This is what happens.

I sit on the couch reading a book and drinking tea after the dinner she made. For me. She finishes the dishes, brings her book out too, sits next to me. She doesn’t look at me as she finds the place marked by a small piece of paper and starts reading. I’m not paying attention; she’s watching me from the corner of her eye. Her legs stir, she shifts position, pull them underneath her as she inches closer to me.

I turn a page. She turns her eyes to the pages of her book, moves them along the words, not reading. She’s tried to get my attention all through dinner. Touched her foot to my ankle under the table. Gazed at me, lusty and devourous. Touched my hand and forearm, leaned across the table to display her breasts. Kept her thighs apart. Crossed them, rubbed her legs together.

She gets frustrated that I’m not paying attention. Starts pouting a little. She sighs, audibly.

I ignore her.

We read a while. I’m deeply involved in the middle of this book, and besides, didn’t she just get fucked this morning? I am impatient with this seduction routine, it makes me feel anxious, itchy. And simultaneously, something dark in me growls from down low.

I finish my tea, put my book down, and get up to brush my teeth. When I emerge, she watches me from the couch, waiting for some cue from me, and almost rolls her eyes when I give her none. She sets her book down on the coffee table a little harder than necessary and gets up to brush her teeth, wash her face, prepare for bed.

We cross next to each other in the hallway and I slam her up against the wall, face first. She whimpers, gasps. Breathes in.

“Is this what you wanted?” I grip her arm and twist it behind her, my mouth close to her cheek.

Boston & Syracuse This Week!

I’m off tomorrow to Boston for two workshops—Cock Confidence and Afternoon Delight—until Wednesday, then Friday I’m heading upstate to Syracuse, New York, to do a Radical Masculinity workshop.

I’ve been updating the details in that “What’s Happening in February” post that’s been at the top of the Sugarbutch feed since earlier this month … Has that been useful for you folks, or do you find it annoying? It’s a new thing I’m trying.

Hope you can join me at one of these workshops! Here’s the details:

Cock Confidence: Strap-On 101 Workshop at Good Vibes in Boston

Tuesday, February 22nd, 8pm
Good Vibrations, 308A Harvard Street in Brookline, MA

Many of us have experience with strapping on, packing, and playing, but there are lots of new products out there on the market that might be exciting and that you haven’t encountered yet. Plus, she’ll delve into some cock confidence, getting into the psychology of penetration, and discussing what it’s like to shoot from the hip.

(Thanks to Syd London for the great photo!)


Cock Confidence at Butch Voices NYC (photo by Syd London)

Afternoon Delight: A workshop on sex toys and getting what you want in bed at Harvard in Boston

Wednesday, February 23nd
8-10pm
Ticknor Lounge in Boylston Hall (right by Mass Ave)
Harvard, Boston, MA

Produced by Girlspot, the queer women’s group at Harvard. We’ll explore how to turn up the heat on our sex lives, what gender expression and performance has to do with sexuality, and all the fun tools we can use in the bedroom—from vibrators to strap ons to butt toys to light bondage and sensation. Includes a sex toy giveaway! Open to the public.

Radical & Responsible Gender Masculinity, Misogyny, and Feminisms at Syracuse, NY

Saturday, February 26th, 1-4pm
Syracuse University
Hall of Languages 102
Syracuse, NY

Academics break down and deconstruct gender. How do we build it back up radically and responsibly? How does one adapt masculinity or femininity “positively?” How do we become responsible about gender? How do we continue to break down the gender role restrictions that are hurtful and traumatizing? How can queer communities and spaces be improved by gender reflection? Open to the public; RSVP to Lauren Hannahs at [email protected]

Claudia Rodriguez (aka C-Rod): Mini-Interview

Writer, activist, teacher/student, parent. agentezeroocho.blogspot.com

C-Rod is also part of the performance group Butchlalis de Panochtitlan.

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

Butch is word that I’ve grown to embrace, I love being butch but sometimes I hate the baggage, mostly expectations and misconceptions others, friends and foes, impose on me because my gender presentation is butch. This is a poem which, I feel, truly encompasses my relationship with the word butch:

To my butch scholar

Butch aesthetic…
what does that mean?
Reflect what you see before you into words.
make sure you address my big boobs
and expand on how my tight ass
makes you salivate at the thought
of your fingers
sliding up and down your keyboard
as you recreate me, separate me, turn me upside down
and label me.
ME-your idea!
For you to relive every time you, she, I read.
Butch aesthetic?
that captured by your eyes
digested by your mind
and ends up on everyone’s tongue.

Reflect what you see before you into words.
Please include the smells-
is that hot wax or the smell of hot skin?
Hear that?
Your heart beating in MHz at the sound
of the whip against my back,
Um, my moans.
Butch mystique?
That surrounding my butch Papi
who stirs fag/boi/tranny fantasies
you fucking me in your mind
as you witness
gender fucker
fucking
gender fucker
performing Butch identity against what is Queer/Butch.
Gender fuckers gender fucking,
performing Butch identity against what it means to be a chicana/butch
butch violating butch…
This is butch to me…

I feel the marks of my identity
I’ve been the butch top in this femme-butch matrix
where my desire IS draped in femme fatigues
where my identity manipulates my desires
Where I’ve enjoyed being somebody’s bitch
Really, I just want to be ok
with wanting to be manipulated by you.
Feeling your cock-hard Domness
Top this sub
makes my cock hard
femme or butch both can top me the same
as long as I get spanked the way I want to be spanked.

The personal is political
but the political is not always written on the skin
I know you see me as a cabron…ladies don’t deny it
But can you tell I like to fuck boys/bois?
Yes
I am
one of those butches that flew over the coo-coo’s nest
the kind that fucks other butchas…
go ahead and say it “where are all the real butches.”
Act surprised that I’m down with getting down butch on butch?

Hola Papi,
I was thinking about you, how the other day you stretched yourself out before me, slid your hand under your boxers and touched yourself. You scooped some of your juice up! I know cause I saw as you first smelled your scent then ate it. As if nothing you slid your hand down there again. You face twisted this way and that with pleasure and lips parted with your moans. You got the legs twitching, chest heaving types of motions. I watched until your eyes rolled to the back of your head with satisfaction and closed with bliss.
Here I go again
Talking all that little boy fetish (gag motion, and bj motion)
I like short hair, ( here voice over comes on, continue bj)
peach fuzzed, tittie tottin’ cara de niño
The prettier the better
I’ll say it
Son mi cochinita pibil
Carne tierna y picosa.
Won’t I ever quit
Shed this skin
Step into the post pony-tail dyke
Post-drag king
Post-andro
Post-trans
Post post
Post Pomo
all I want is to step into my post-heroic masculinity
Stop suppressing mine to uphold others’
Does it make you feel good?
Does it heave your imaginary man pecks
to put me down? To walk around me like everything is cool
even though you didn’t play by the rules,
Then I’m down to let you
If you think you’re Top enough to top this.

Reflect what you see before you into words….

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?
Lesbian, jota, gender queer, gender fucker, papi, sub/slave, switch, Chicana, lesbiana, sinvergüenza

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

The void of not having female masculinity role models will haunt you like a missing limb. But don’t worry little one, one day you’ll figure out how to step into your/my post-heroic masculinity stop suppressing your’s/mine to uphold others’. You have to have lots of love and compassion for self and it will be returned ten-fold to you.

Happy Birthday, Shine! And Recommendations For the Best Queer Porn

Purely for fun, and because a little birdie told me it’s Shine’s birthday today, here’s some of my favorite Crash Pad Series episodes.

I’ve said this before, but I can’t really stress enough that if you aren’t watching the Crash Pad Series you are missing out on the best porn out there, period. Not just in the queer porn category, but in the broader sense of the people-having-sex-on-camera world in general. In fact, I think even calling it “porn” turns some people off to what it is—I mean yes, it is sex on camera, but the word “porn” for most people who aren’t so versed in the huge variety of things that fall into that category calls to mind bleach-blonde silicone-implant girls and bow-chicka-wow-wow soundtrack and awkward movements and no actual plot.

Not that I think you necessarily need a plot, just that some sort of context or reason for these two people to be fucking on camera is kind of important, mostly because otherwise it looks so incredibly awkward to go from sitting next to each other on a couch to screaming orgasms.

And hey, what do you know, Shine took care of that with this simple premise of her series: The “crash pad” is a place where you can go and have sexy escapades with someone who’s already there or with the person you bring. Or, hell, by yourself (there are some solos available in the vast library). Just putting this one thing in place has meant that Shine (from her voyeuristic position of the secretly installed cameras in the crash pad) has completely bypassed the awkwardness of “plot” in 90% of porn.

You could even look at the Crash Pad Series as a cultural artifact: This is how queers are having sex in the 2000s and ’10s. This is authentic and real. This is what we like to do with each other, this is how we like to explore our bodies, our sensualities, our sensations, our energetic meridians, our love, our desires.

To paraphrase some conversations I’ve had with Barbara Carrellas, queers are more deeply in touch with this stuff. I’m not sure why (though I’m sure if Barbara and I sat down we would have some interesting theories to discuss), maybe it’s that we have to un-learn the biggest cultural assumption about sex (that we’ll sleep with the opposite sex) that we can more easily open up and explore other aspects of it, too.

We queers are damn good at fucking.

Maybe you’re one of those people who believes that there’s so much free porn out there, that you can’t afford to pay for it—which I understand, I have made that oath to myself in the past. But as I get older, and as the Internet gets older and as big business owns so much of the art that we all consume, I believe more and more in paying artists and supporting queer community ventures—not just by attending or promoting or sharing the cool things, but also with my dollars. Syd London and I were just talking last night about radical capitalism and how every one of our dollars is a vote, and every one of our votes adds up. It’s part of why I’m a vegetarian, it’s part of why I purchase albums from my favorite indie singer/songwriters (even though it’s inconvenient to sometimes have the iTunes restrictions on them) and go to their concerts.

If we support these artists, then they will be able to continue doing what they (we) do. Not just because we will be able to pay our bills, but also because we will feel like what we’re doing has a valuable place in the world, and specifically in these communities in which we run.

It’s like Jiz Lee has said: “The ONLY time I’ve felt exploited in porn is from people pirating my work.” Or like Tori Amos said (to me, actually, in direct answer to my question) once, “If I taste wine, and I like it, I’m not going to put the bottle in my purse, because I want them to continue making that wine.”

So I know $20 a month for a Crash Pad membership seems like a lot to pay for porn, but how much do you pay for your smart phone? Or your cable? Or the beers you have on the weekends? I’ve come to think it’s pretty important to put my money where my mouth is, as they say, and order artist’s work, to pay good money for art.

And this is really worth it. I promise. Give it a try for just one month and see what you think.

Shine has been documenting, directing, recording, and showing off the many, many ways we fuck and play and explore through the Crash Pad and other projects of hers, and I am ever glad she is part of this world and doing what she does. Happy birthday, Shine. Thank you for sharing your hard work with all of us!

On to some of my personal favorite episodes, the ones I go back to over and over.

Season 1 Episode 1, Starring Dylan Ryan & Trucker Cash: Still my very favorite. I love the fisting and Dylan’s outfit and mm everything. They were a real-life couple so the chemistry and connection is there.

Season 1 Episode 5, Starring Shawn (Syd Blakovich) & Rozen DeBowe: Because Rozen is one of my favorite porn crushes. Doesn’t seem like she’s doing much lately, but I do like going back to this one. Rozen mostly tops Syd in this one, lots of cock sucking and fucking.

Season 1 Episode 6, Starring Princess Donna & Jake: Dirty knife play in a kitchen, with ice and a blindfold. Sexy. Donna’s profile says she’s usually a top, but she does quite a nice job giving in here.

Season 3 Episode 21, Starring Princess Donna, Jake, & Lorelei Lee: Good threesome (and decidedly not awkward! I should take some tips from this one). They are all sexy and lots of hot play.

Season 4 Episode 24, Starring Ex & Muscle Beach: Long-time lovers, which is clear in their joyous smiles and giggling and sweetness toward each other. Lots of pain play, I’m inspired by Ex’s badass toppy-ness.

Season 5 Episode 33, Starring: Carson & Syd: Who are apparently lovers off-screen too. SO much chemistry. And Syd is so fucking badass. I love watching her top.

Season 5 Episode 35, Starring Mickey Mod & Syd: The Crash Pad’s first cis guy, and it is SO so queer. See Micky Mod also in Heavenly Spire.

Season 7 Episode 44, Starring Julie Warren & Kuma: Kuma is a leather daddy, Julie is femme, they’re a real couple and it’s clear. Knife play, stockings, garters, caning, flogging, cocksucking, and it’s SO sweet and tender and hot.

Season 12 Episode 83, Starring Tina Horn and Roger Wood We watched this as part of the Crash Pad Series Twitter #pornparty and it was my favorite of the night. These two are skilled at their play and it shows. Plus, three words: Tina Horn’s ass. Oh my god.

Season 13 Episode 89, Starring Hilt and Rusty Nails: Love the ripped up fishnets on Rusty, and I love the noises she makes. Hilt clearly knows what he’s doing.

Season 13 Episode 91 Starring: Arabelle Raphael and James: Arabelle speaks French and teaches James some naughty phrases. She leaves her stockings, garter, and shoes on. Pretty switchy scene, they go back and forth. Arabelle is so hot, I would watch any of her scenes.

I haven’t kept up with as many of the episodes after Season 8 or so—Clearly I need to catch up! And now that Kristen is working during the days, I’ll have a lot more time to do that. File under: things to do right before she comes home.

So I’ve told you about my favorites … What about you folks out there, do you have favorite episodes? Which have you seen? Do you have the DVDs, are there certain web episodes you go back to? Which ones am I missing? Which from Season 8 onward should I be sure to watch? Who’s your favorite Crash Pad “character”?

And hey, be sure to wish Shine a happy birthday, on Twitter or elsewhere.

“I Want To Be Fearless”

Ever since I got Ellis’s newest album Right On Time I’ve had it playing over and over. I like to listen to it at the gym (along with the Bryan Adams anthology) because I can crank it in the headphones and hear every word, every note. Somehow she has captured every emotional state that I’ve been going through lately on that album, and I’m continually surprised by her eloquent writing.

When I ordered Right On Time I got a note back from Ellis thanking me. I kind of assume she does this with everybody, though I can’t guarantee she’ll send you a note too, maybe she just happened to have some extra time on her hands right then. So I emailed her back and we corresponded a little, which is what led to her mini-interview on Butch Lab, which I’m so happy to have there. I’m keeping a watchful eye on her summer tour schedule—I hope she’ll be somewhere in the Northeast that I can easily attend.

I just ordered her Scrapbook 2-disc set which includes a DVD and an mp3 CD with her entire backlist (64 songs for $40!). I used to have a couple of her early albums, but I’m not sure what happened to them, they disappeared in one of my moves. I’m excited to hear the other albums, can’t wait to get to know all of those other songs of hers.

Here’s one from Right On Time that I’ve been obsessing over lately, listening to a lot and trying to keep in mind while things sometimes feel tumultuous.

(She adds another verse in this live version … “Let’s pretend we’re smaller than / the ants under the grass” but these lyrics are for the album version.)

Close to You
Ellis

let’s pretend we’re taller than
the highest part of everest
giants with a lions roar
but lighter than a bird
and we build upon our shoulders
buildings high into the sky
and we look out of our windows
wishing we could fly

I want to be close to you
to know how close we are
I want to be fearless
in the face of love
and not be afraid of falling apart

each day there’s a sunrise
beauty I can barely see
if I saw it all my heart would fill so full
I couldn’t breathe

I want to be close to you
to know how close we are
but I cover up my heart
afraid I am weakening
I have ways to escape when things get hard

here we are
this is
the way it is
the sun, the rain
how things are always
changing

let’s pretend we are at the end of our lives here
all our troubles that seemed so big
have all disappeared
when we are deep in the shadows
bringing light into the dark
I will reach for you till the end of me
when I can’t tell us apart

’cause I want to be close to you
to know how close we are
I want to be fearless
in the face of love
and not be afraid of falling
I’m falling apart

Raquel Gutierrez: Mini-Interview

Performer, writer, arts promoter in LA. myspace.com/butchlalis & raquefella.com

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

I love butch; it is onomatopoeic. You have to say it like you really mean it for it to register its true power. Being butch scared me, which obviously means I really wanted it. I’m in my mid-30s and these boots have finally been broken in just right. So, as I age, butch feels richer, more deserved than it did when I was a baby gay colliding blindly into language of identities and anarchy of desires. It was an arduous road getting here and it was worth it.

Is butch an insult? It has never been enough of an insult to warrant my having to comment on the banality of someone’s limited observation.

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

Bilingual. Brown. Butch. Los Angeles. Napoleon Complex. Performance Writer. Pretty. Queer.

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

Take it slow; subvert the scarcity model of relationalities; feel emboldened to ask partners a fuck ton of questions before having sex; lovingly challenge mentors out of their uncritical machismo even if it means risking invalidation; find, create and nurture a radical gender genealogy; believe what people tell you about themselves; take extra doses of vitamin Compassion; and to state my truth like my life depended on it.

What Workshops Would You Like To See Me Teach?

My spring schedule is coming together, I’ve been talking to maybe a dozen different places and continuing to keep up my contacts as I plan to visit various cities this spring. I’m hoping that even if some of them don’t work out right away, perhaps they’ll work out in the future and I can come visit in the fall or next year.

I’ve got a pretty long workshop list right now, and while my most popular workshops continue to be Fucking With Gender, Radical & Responsible Gender, and Cock Confidence: Strap-On 101, I’m interested in continuing to develop other workshops that will be appealing. Someone just mentioned she’d like to go to a Daddy/girl workshop about the continuum of the dynamic from the bedroom to living that lifestyle 24/7. That’d be fascinating (I’d attend that workshop certainly). And another friend of mine just asked if I do anything for teens, which prompted me to start thinking about a How To Survive High School workshop for Queers, Freaks, and Gender Outlaws. Working on that one, too.

Point is, sometimes other people see workshops that I don’t necessarily see. So while I’m updating my workshop list for 2011 and thinking about other things I could start thinking about and developing, do you have any ideas for me of what workshops I could add to my repertoire? What would you love to see me teach? What do you wish I would come to your town and lead at your local college, community center, or sex toy shop?

I don’t have my spring schedule finalized yet, but I’m keeping it updated at mrsexsmith.com/appearances and in the What’s Happening in February post at the top of Sugarbutch.net (until March 1st, anyway, where I’ll replace it with a What’s Happening in March post instead).

If you’d like to bring me to your town for a workshop, I would love to go! Or perhaps I’m already coming to your town, and can do an add-on workshop with your group? You can email me directly, mrsexsmith(at)gmail.com, or you can contact my booking company PhinLi.

But, in the meantime, I would love to hear any ideas you have about what you’d like to see me teach. And thank you, it is helpful!

Butch Lab Symposium #2, Feb/March 2011

WHAT IS THE BUTCH LAB SYMPOSIUM?

The Symposium is a cross between a blog carnival and a round-up, where participants write about a monthly topic and submit links to Butch Lab which are then recounted. Participants are requested to a) link to the

Butch Lab Symposium in their post, b) reprint the roundup on their own blogs within five days, and c) commenting on the other participants’ entries would be an added bonus (let’s support each other eh?).

You do not need to be butch to participate, anyone is welcome to discuss their opinion.

The topic for the second Butch Lab Symposium is Butch Stereotypes, Cliches, and Misconceptions.

Here’s the writing prompt:

What do people think “butch” means? What are the stereotypes around being butch? What do people assume is true about you [or about your masculine of center friends], but actually isn’t? What image or concept do you constantly have to correct or fight against? How do you feel about these misconceptions? How do you deal with them? Do you respond to these stereotypes or cliches? How?

To participate, write about this topic in some form on your own website and email the link to butchlabproject (at) gmail.com before March 1, 2011. The full roundup will be released mid-March.

Butch Lab Symposium #2: Call for Participation

Hey, writers and folks interested in gender!

The next Butch Lab Symposium topic has been decided, after much deliberation, and posted.

WHAT IS THE BUTCH LAB SYMPOSIUM?

The Symposium is a cross between a blog carnival and a round-up, where participants write about a monthly topic and submit links to Butch Lab which are then recounted. Participants are requested to a) link to the Butch Lab Symposium in their post, b) reprint the roundup on their own blogs within five days, and c) commenting on the other participants’ entries would be an added bonus (let’s support each other eh?).

You do not need to be butch to participate, anyone is welcome to discuss their opinion.

The topic for the second Butch Lab Symposium is Butch Stereotypes, Cliches, and Misconceptions.

Here’s the writing prompt:

What do people think “butch” means? What are the stereotypes around being butch? What do people assume is true about you [or the masculine of center folks in your life], but actually isn’t? What image or concept do you constantly have to correct or fight against? How do you feel about these misconceptions? How do you deal with them? Do you respond to these stereotypes or cliches? How?

To participate, write about this topic in some form on your own website and email the link to butchlabproject (at) gmail.com before March 1, 2011. The full roundup will be released mid-March.

What Roses on Valentine’s Day Are For

Kristen spent the weekend at a work-related conference, and I spent the weekend watching Pushing Daisies, going to butch burlesque, reading, doing various housekeeping tasks, and gathering a few little things for Valentine’s Day.

I had the dozen long-stem red roses on the table when she got back last night, and I had bought the ingredients and was already preparing dinner: roasted beet, goat cheese, and candied walnut salad, and homemade butternut squash tortellini with a brown butter sauce. Most of the components were about done by the time she arrived home, so we got the wonton wrappers out and folded up the butternut squash puree.

Ravioli, tortellini, and other kinds of stuffed pasta are Kristen’s favorite, so I thought I’d just cook some up, but when I started looking for sauce recipes I found that Giada De Laurentiis recipe and figured it didn’t look too hard—I had no idea you could use wonton wrappers to make tortellini! It had a lot of components, and took a while to roast the squash, but it wasn’t all that difficult and was delicious. And we still have about a dozen tortellini in the freezer, all ready to be cooked.

But enough about the food.

We watched a flick and made out on the couch. Before we went back into the bedroom, I pulled a rose out from the vase.

Which is why there are only eleven in the vase this morning; the 12th was dragged all over her body after I stripped her clothes off, the soft petals tickling her nipples and hips and inner thighs and cunt, then the long stem used as a makeshift cane on her inner thighs.

It didn’t last that long—it broke in two places before I could really get her warmed up and start delivering some harder swats. I don’t think I left any marks from the rose, but some gentle welts on her inner thighs were a bit raised last night. And this morning I noticed a couple handprint-shaped bruises on the backs of her thighs.

Valentine’s Day is off to a good start. Today, after I go to the gym and do some work, I’m going to make some extra-chocolatey brownies. And tonight’s plans are only a simpler dinner; I’ve requested her signature noodles with peanut sauce.

Grace Moon: Mini-Interview

Grace Moon, Writer, artist. gracemoon.net | @gracemoon

1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”
Me and butch go way back. We had a brief falling out in my early 20’s, we rekindled our relationship later that decade. We now enjoy each other immensely, albeit with some disagreements here and there. Relationships are a growing process.

2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?
Queer, lesbian, dyke, butch, trouble, left of center but not centrist.

3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?
Don’t worry one of these days, one of these pretty girls will want to date you. Come to think of it, the message hasn’t changed…

4. Anything you’d like to add?
“Butch is a noun and a verb.” (c) gracemoon 2011

Friday Reads: Favorites from 2010

2010 was the first year I was pretty diligent about using GoodReads to record what I’ve been reading, and it tells me I read about 50 books in 2010—I think that’s not quite right, but I’m going to try to be even better about it this year. In fact, I’ve made it a “goal” on GoodReads to read 100 books—given that I’m reviewing lesbian erotica for Lambda Literary Foundation, editing two books, am a judge for a literary contest, and my monthly book group, and just that is more than 50 books, I think I can make it.

2011 Reading Challenge

Sinclair has

read 16 books toward her goal of 100 books.

hide

Looking over the books I have listed on GoodReads as read in 2010, these are the ones that stand out. Not all of these are queer explicitly, though queer novels remain my favorite thing to read. And not all of them were published in 2010.

All are linked to Amazon for research purposes, but please do order and buy them from your local independent bookstore—Support booksellers! Support local culture!

In alphabetical order, because it’s hard to compare:

Aud Torvingen trilogy: The Blue Place, Always, & Stay by Nicola Griffith. I remember when Stay came out while I was working at the bookstore in Seattle (where I worked for almost 5 years as a bookseller), many people recommended it to me, saying I would like it. I think they assumed I would like it because I’m queer and it has a queer protagonist, but whatever. I (mistakingly) thought it was science fiction, and wasn’t so inclined to pick it up, but I finally picked up The Blue Place a few years ago (GoodReads says I read it in June 2009) and I was impressed. Well, first I kind of hated Aud Torvingen, the know-it-all, independently wealthy, accomplished-at-everything ex-cop turned private investigator who was trying to get her life together. But the end of the first book is so heartbreaking and good, I couldn’t just leave the characters suffering, so I had to read the other two in the series. I got hooked. And they just kept getting better. Easy, deep reading that I got lost in. I would read all of these again from the beginning.

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser. I’ve been a little obsessed with books about healing and trauma the past few years, and I ran into this in a bookstore and picked it up from the library right after. Frequently my favorite books in about this kind of thing take a very Buddhist perspective (like When Things Fall Apart, Radical Acceptance, and When the Past Is Present), and while I love that, I also know that until I had a pretty strong base in Buddhist philosophy, I didn’t quite understand what they were talking about, and I found them difficult to read. Not this one, though. Broken Open talks about trauma, loss, grief, and healing from lots of different perspectives, weaving in stories and techniques from her workshops over the years. Very readable and very inspiring.

Enlightened Sexism: The Seductive Message that Feminism’s Work is Done by Susan J. Douglas. It’s not out in paperback yet, so I’ve still got the hardback copy from the library and have renewed it about 25 times now. I keep thinking I’ll get to a full review of it on Sugarbutch, and so I should go back and look through my notes and dog-ears to figure out exactly what I want to say. So here’s the paragraph version: I have thought about this book often since I read it. The descriptions of the 1990s especially made me realize I grew up in a unique time, full of the closest we’ve gotten to the manifestation of the feminist and gender equality movements, and the 2000s have brought plenty of backlash—but in a more subtle, twisted way than the backlash of the 1980s and early ’90s. Now, the backlash makes feminism look like it is outdated. Feminism? Pshaw, who needs that, women are equal now! But through various examinations of entertainment, celebrity, films, TV, and other pop cultural artifacts, Douglas argues that it’s far from over. It changed the way I am looking at feminism, and gave me some new ways to talk about what’s going on now. Now excuse me, I want to go re-read it.

Lynnee Breedlove’s One Freak Show by Lynn Breedlove (Manic D Press, 2009). Just, awesome. I’m a fan, but I had no idea Breedlove is so funny! And readable, and smart, and clever. I identified with many of the struggles within the queer communities about gender, and loved the bits about cocks and sexuality. It was more than I expected, and made me feel like Lynnee is my buddy. I was able to be there when Lynn won the Lammy for in the Transgender category last year, and it was a thrill to hear a few of the best lines in the book delivered in person. My full review is up on LambdaLiterary.org.

Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation edited by S. Bear Bergman & Kate Bornstein (Seal Press, 2010). Things have changed since Kate Bornstein’s book Gender Outlaw, and this is the updated proof of the celebration and liberation that’s happening within the trans landscape right now, and the proof of how much further we have to go, and what else we need to work on. I would put this on my “required reading” list, and I bet a lot of other people out there would too. It’s a beautiful anthology. I especially love Bear and Kate’s introduction, which is a conversation via internet chat. My review on Sugarbutch and my companion piece, Ten Ways I am a Gender Outlaw.

Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son by Michael Chabon. A personal account of gender and masculinity insights throughout life, with illustrations of various relationships—friendships, marriage, kids, parents. I really love his writing, he has such a beautiful way of constructing a sentence, and I was really moved by his descriptions of feminism. Though maybe I shouldn’t be, I was surprised to find a straight white cis man writing so eloquently about gender dynamics and providing insight into so many of the difficulties that are imposed upon us in gender roles, and I think his accessibility brought these concerns to a lot of people since this book was published. It’s a great starting place for examining masculinity in more depth (which is one of the things I hope to do this year, and I have about five books waiting for me).

Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel. I didn’t expect to like this one as much as I did—I thought it would be pretty elementary, but it had some great insight into American culture and relationships. Perel is not American, and that outsider perspective was at times really interesting and useful. Of course, it is 99% heterosexual, and when she tries to include queer couples it doesn’t really account for any sort of difference in culture, but glosses over the difference and goes right to “all relationships have their difficulties, doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight,” which I get, but I think there’s a little more to it than that and it’s a little bit of a privileged position to be able to dismiss the queerness as just a personality trait akin to liking sports or being into cooking. Nevertheless, the tips and consciousness around building a long term relationship that remains sexual are important, and I’m glad I read it. My full review on Sugarbutch.

Missed Her by Ivan Coyote (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010). It wasn’t until I was telling a friend about the book that I realized that “Missed Her” is often mistaken as “Mister” in speech. What can I say about Ivan? She’s a masterful storyteller. She and I grew up in a similar region, and her tales about her childhood and her extended family feel so familiar and nostalgic and articulate in such a beautiful way. I love the descriptions of her new relationship love. I will continue picking up every book she puts out, and I’ve never been disappointed.

Mr. Benson by John Preston (Cleis Press, 2004). How is it possible that I did not read this book until last year?? I can’t believe I missed it. And now that I’ve read it, any time I mention it to queer folks—especially ones older than me—they all know about it, and know it well. So: It is a gay men SM novel first published as a serial in 1979, and then in full in the early 1980s. It’s from a time before the AIDS crisis. More good stuff on John Preston over at GLBTQ encyclopedia, if you want to know more context. The book is dirty and full of power and strength and dominance. The actual storyline is a little boring (I just wasn’t as invested in the human trafficking/exploitation part as I was in the beautiful D/s scenes), but the book does need something to keep it going. Apparently the book was so popular that there were both “Looking for Mr. Benson” and “Looking for Mr. Benson?” tee shirts all over in the ’80s, though of course they are not around now, at least not that I could find. I handed the book to Kristen as soon as I was done and she zoomed through it, then had a “Looking for Mr. Benson?” tee shirt made for me for winter solstice. It prompted me to think a lot about how I play with dominance, especially in my domestic life with Kristen, and we have talked about it frequently while trying to iron out difficulties between us in that play. And who knew piss play could be so awesome?

Origami Striptease by Peggy Munson (Suspect Thoughts Press, 2006). I’ve had this one on my shelf for a few years, not sure where I picked it up but I didn’t know much about it. I started reading it and was hooked: It is so ethereal, so surreal, at times it reads like poetry. The intention and clarity behind the word choices are so specific. It reminds me of Rebecca Brown or Jeanette Winterson, two of my favorite authors. I love getting lost in words and images like I did while reading this. Looks like it’s a little bit out of print now, which is too bad. Maybe the publisher still has it directly.

The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue. Historical fiction that recounts a divorce trial in the 1860s. I’m not so in to historical fiction, though on occasion I find it fascinating—particularly when I find it relevant, which, for the most part, I don’t find the genre, but I have found some of the recent books, like Sarah Waters’s novels, with lesbian content. I read this one for my book group, and I was skeptical—it took a while to really get into it. The first half of the book is elaborate descriptions of the two women’s friendship, and the details that lead up to the divorce, then the divorce trial happens for another 1/3 of the book (which I found terribly dull, though my lawyer friend thought was fascinating)—but the very end made it worth it. Though I was a bit triggered by all the psychological manipulation one of the characters continues to exhibit, I have still been recommending this quite a bit. It’s pretty fascinating to hear about the politics of marriage, family, cheating, and legality from 150 years ago—really not that long ago, but it exposes some of the ways we have directly evolved from those cultural standards.

Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch Femme Erotica edited by Tristan Taormino (Cleis Press, 2010). Call me biased if you like, because I have a story in this book, but this is my favorite erotica collection to come out for a long time. Not only because it’s butch/femme, but also because the stories are just good. Editor Taormino had a decade worth of Best Lesbian Erotica collections to pull from, and she picked the best of the best of the best, in my opinion. Plus, there aren’t very many explicitly butch and femme erotica anthologies, so I’m glad we’ve got one more. This one is still on my nightstand. My review on Sugarbutch.

Toybag Guide to the Taboo by Mollena Williams (Greenery Press, 2010). I’m a fan of Mollena‘s work in general, and when I saw her at the Lesbian Sex Mafia for her workshop Taboo Play and Working Through Extremes in early 2010 I admired her even more. This book is kind of the written version of her workshop, with many of the same stories and philosophies about what it’s like to be exploring the “taboo” sides of sexuality, like incest play, bestiality, force, and race play, and it is thoroughly thoughtful. Obviously Mollena has been thinking about these things for a long time, and it shows with her respect, care, and detail.

Follow my author profile over at GoodReads if you’d like to see more of the books I’m reading.

So let’s hear it: What were YOUR favorite books of 2010? What are you reading right now? What else do you recommend that I read?

Daddi Dice: Mini-Interview

Dice is a 23 year old lesbian women, who identifies as a stud, and a cool collected Aries. “I have a open mind. When it comes to life, it’s to short to be shy.”
@iStrapStroke & Crashpadseries.com under the character “Dice”

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

When I think of the word “butch,” I picture the old school lesbian with a buzz cut and one dangling earring of a cross on the right ear. When I was a kid, that’s what I heard, that’s what the more masculine lesbians where called. I think of it as a old lesbian term. Also, when I think of butch, I think of the word “dyke”—both to me are old school lesbian terms.

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

The term I closely identify with is stud. A stud is my generation’s butch. Some people say that within the LGBT community when they hear “stud” they automatically picture a blk, hispanic, often times Asian aggressive more masculine female, emerged in the hip-hop culture, but when you hear butch more then likely your going to think of an androgynous/masculine white female. A stud/butch to me is a beautiful/handsome women who is masculine. A stud/butch has a style close to a male and when in a relationship we wear the”pants.”

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

If I could tell my younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender I would let myself know that it’s okay to be the way I am. When I grow up there will be others like me if I would just open my eyes.

When I started dressing more tomboyish in elementary I use to have a lot of problems with the girls in school. I always got random questions like, “Why do you dress like a boy?” My answer would be, “It’s comfortable.” I realized in middle school that it was more than “It’s comfortable;” while all the girls in my grade where experimenting with make-up and shorter skirts, I was stealing my mom’s dildos and making panty harnesses for my favorite one. In high school most girls had already had sex with men and was more open to trying something new, so to speak it got easier to get laid, I was a attractive women with a boi swag, girls loved it.

Cock Confidence: Pack & Play

See also: My Packing Cocks 101 on Sugarbutch

Speaking of pack & play cocks: There just aren’t very many available right now.

The technology that enables cis men’s penises to soften and get hard (which is flesh & blood) is quite difficult to reproduce. You’d think we had better tricks for it, Batman-style tricks like how his cape gets taut to enable him to fly hang-glide. But as far as I know, we really don’t.

Maybe there are things available for thousands of dollars that I don’t know about? But there’s a reason I don’t know about them—that is really not accessible to me. And probably not to most other gender exploring queers, either.

So the problem is, either good soft packing cocks are too soft to play with, or good solid fucking cocks are too hard and big to pack with (and end up giving you a tent pole in the pants rather than a modest bulge).

Here are a few that you can actually do both—pack and play—because they are bendable enough and still hard enough.

Also, before I get to the cocks, here’s an important packing tip: Unless you’re going for the big bulge in the pants—which hey that can be fun, but most of us want it to be more subtle than that—make sure you wear loose, even baggy pants or skirts while packing. Your tightest jeans, though hot, will absolutely show off what you’re packing. Try loosening the harness just enough to tuck the cock under one of the straps, and wear tight undies to keep it in place.

So what’s available out there for packing and playing?

Tantus VIP SuperSoft
VIP SuperSoft by Tantus

The VIP SuperSoft by Tantus, Inc. is the newest pack & play cock that I’ve seen, and it works quite well in my opinion (and experience). I’ve heard that a few toy shops aren’t carrying them because it’s too obvious and not packable enough, and well, yes, it does create quite the bulge in your pants. But if you know how to wear that well, or if you don’t care if it’s obvious, this is a good option. Since it’s silicone, it’s fully sterilizable (top shelf of the dishwasher with no soap, boil it for 5 minutes, or a 10% bleach solution).

What makes this special: The curve is great for g-spot play, and the “SuperSoft” silicone material specific to Tantus is great. Love the shape for both stimulation of the wearer and the receiver.

Drawbacks: It is kind of floppy. Not great for the heavy pound-pound kind of fucking, it will slip out pretty easily, so make sure to stay in communication with each other if (when) it does. It’s not widely available (yet … perhaps it will be, eventually).

Specifications:
6.5″ (5.5″ insertable) long by 1.7″ in diameter
Silicone (sterilizable)
Made by Tantus, Inc
Available in vanilla, caramel, and chocolate colors
Cost: $60
My review on Sugarbutch
Buy it directly from Tantus, Inc.

Goodfella by Vixen

The Goodfella by Vixen Creations is part of their Vixskin line, which is my favorite material for cocks. It’s soft and touchable silicone, so it is fully sterilizable (top shelf of the dishwasher with no soap, boil it for 5 minutes, or a 10% bleach solution), yet it still has a strong inner core that makes it hard enough to fuck with.

What makes this special: The balls go in front of the O-ring! That is quite unique and awesome. Watch the video on how to back it into a harness, since you can’t put it in from behind like most cocks.

Drawbacks: It is slim and pretty short, especially when you take into account that it is really only insertable up to the balls. Pretty good size for ass play and blow jobs, but for folks who like anything sizeable, this one is going to be pretty small.

Because the balls sit outside of the O-ring, it’s pretty hard to pack comfortably. In order to pack it, the cock part needs to be bent under the harness strap to hold it back, which can make the base pinch your sensitive flesh.

Unfortunately, it is also very expensive. But it comes with a lifetime guarantee from Vixen, which means if it gets damaged, if your dog finds it and chews it up, you can replace it easily. Whoops, sorry—I’m wrong here, let me clarify. Or rather, let me quote you what Kitty from Vixen emailed me: “The Goodfella is one of the only products not covered by warranty (another is the Mr. Right) This is mentioned on the commercial packaging. It simply cannot take being bent back-and-forth on a daily basis as the Vixskin is rather delicate. Our warranty actually mentions NOT being able to return things since your pet ate them.”

You can read the full warranty statement, which says: “Vixen Creations, Inc. wants you to be completely satisfied with your silicone dildo, plug or attachment, which is why we offer an unbeatable lifetime replacement guarantee on damaged items. Please note that damage resulting from misuse of our products is not covered by this policy. For example, “My dog or cat ate it,” “I forgot it was on the stove,” “I bit it,” “My girlfriend left me and took the dildo,” do not qualify for product replacement.”

(Thanks for the clarification!)

Specifications:
7″ (5.5″ insertable) long by 1.5″ in diameter
Silicone (sterilizable)
Made by Vixen Creations
Available in vanilla, caramel, or chocolate colors
Cost: $100-120
My review on Sugarbutch
Buy it at Babeland, Eden Fantasys, The Stockroom, or directly from Vixen Creations.

Silky Pack & Play Cock
Silky aka Mr Bendy

The Silky by Vibratex is the first usable pack and play cock I ever found, and I love it. It’s my favorite of these three.

What makes this special: The internal spine means it is flexible enough to completely bend sideways (or down) for packing, but perk right up when it’s time to fuck. Great size, not too big or small, excellent for blow jobs and for fucking. This one is my favorite.

Drawbacks: Not silicone. The elastomer material is phthalate free, but it is not sterilizable. It’s easy to clean with soap & warm water, but do not boil it, and always use a condom since it cannot be sterilized.

Because it has an internal spine, which is bendable, it will probably break. Mine has—in fact, I’ve gone through probably eight or so of these, about one per year. The spine has never broken through the elastomer plastic, and it has never hurt anyone, and in fact I’ve never heard someone say that theirs has broken the skin, either (though many people who I know who have used this have broken the spine at some point). That’s just what happens when you bend a bit of plastic at the same place over and over—it weakens the plastic, and eventually breaks. But like I said, mine lasted about a year, and if I had not packed it in the exact same position every time it might have lasted longer. After breaking two, I decided it was worth it to keep investing in a new one every year or so, that I just had to look at the $40 cost as a temporary investment that would last me a finite amount of time, not forever.

Some folks have said that they keep using theirs, even after the spine breaks, and this works too—it’s just not quite as perky or bendable as it used to be. From my experience, after it breaks it is not dangerous, and the spine part probably wouldn’t poke through the plastic to harm your delicate parts.

Specifications:
7″ (6″ insertable) long by 1 5/8″ in diameter
Elastomer (Phthalates free, Hypo-allergenic, latex free)
Made by Vibratex
Available in pink, purple, blue, and black (the pink and blue seem to be the most commonly available)
Cost: $40-50
My review on Sugarbutch
Buy it at Babeland, Eden Fantasys, The Stockroom, or Good Vibrations.

So, am I missing any particular cocks that you think I should try out, or include here? Have you heard of others that work for packing and playing? Have you used any of these? What did you think? Any other recommendations?

Extra Sexy Valentine’s Day

So Babeland did this sweet Valentine’s Day gift guide, and it got me thinking about what sexy toys and gifts I would highly, highly recommend, above all others, for you to pick up for your sweetheart (and, uh, yourself) for this Valentine’s Day.

I’ve been reviewing products for more than two years, and these are some of my personal favorites. The queer porn is especially good as a Valentine’s Day gift I think … plus, if you get a year-long membership, or even a month-long, that will be an ongoing present, one you can enjoy together and that might help take your sex life to a new level. It’s much easier to point to some sex act or product on screen and say, “So what do you think of that?” in order to open up conversation than it is to say, “Hey, I want to try …”

Hope you find something you like, and that the day is fun, regardless of how you celebrate.

You can also check out more of my favorite toys over at Good Vibrations, where they have various celebrity picks.

So let’s hear it: what are you getting your sweetheart, or yourself, this year? How, if at all, are you celebrating? What are your very favorite toys that I might have left off this list?

Syd London: Mini-Interview

Photographer, sydlondon.com
Photo by Maro

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

When I think of “butch” I think of the women I’m attracted to rather than myself. Butch is beautifully mind blowing to me. It’s the contrasts of masculinity and hardness in a person who still has the soft skin of woman that drives me crazy. It’s the refusal of butches to kowtow to society’s “should’s” that I continually admire. There truly is nothing sexier than butch to me.

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

This is a question I’ve yet to truly answer. I think of myself as a proud dyke and many other things but haven’t found a word that truly encompasses all of me. Though my drag name Syditious does contain a bit of me. In the end I’m just me. I love to play with the biggest power tools I can get my mitts on but I also like to make soap and developing fragrances. Go figure.

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

There’s is so much I wish I could tell my younger self. In many ways I try to communicate those things to our queer youth now through my photography. Above all I’d tell myself to hang on. Life isn’t easy, that’s part of the nature of it – BUT things are going to get so much better than I ever dared dream. If you told me ten or fifteen years ago that I’d be a pro photojournalist covering our exquisite community I never, ever would have believed you. I wish I could tell myself about the queer family that I’ve found and am lucky enough to be part of. And I wish I could tell myself that one day not only will women actually cheer for me as a drag king but also there are women out there who will like me for me ( when I came out at 15 I thought no woman would ever like me, let alone kiss me. I wish I could tell myself about a few of the hot make out sessions I’ve had over my life). And I wish I could tell myself about the love and support the community gives me, though I don’t think I could have believed me. Or you. Or anyone.

Bonus: Anything you’d like to add?

As un-butch as it sounds, I wish I could give all the butches who came before me and helped pave the road a big bear hug of gratitude.

Friday Reads: Gotta Have it: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex

It’s out!

I just received a copy of the newest erotica anthology, Gotta Have It, which includes my work, this time it is The Dirty Things She Says which is a piece in a lot of dirty talking dialogue that’s only about two pages long. All the pieces are extra-short, which is why they’re called “sudden sex” stories in the title—they’re short-short stories, which in my opinion make the erotica extra-condensed and hotter than usual. Not nearly as much wading through character and plot. And personally, I like that kind of thing in erotica.

Well, I mean, I still think the literary elements are important, but generally I think people spend way too much time being sure to establish those things in an erotica story. Most of the time, why are we reading the erotica? To be turned on, to get off. Of course, that’s just my opinion—plenty of other people really want to have context and plot and non-sexual build-up. But have you ever read Micro Fiction, or another short-short anthology? It’s a brilliant example of how literary you can be in very, very few words, embedding plot and character into every phrase, having each sentence hold two or three or four levels of meaning for the story. I still find them fascinating.

And the good stories in this anthology do that, too.

It includes some of my favorite erotica writers, including Cecilia Tan, Kiki DeLovely, Teresa Noelle Roberts, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Kristina Wright, D.L. King, and Maria See, and I’m sure once I read through it I’ll have a few more favorites to add to the list. So, I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

Rachel Kramer Bussel edited this anthology (I haven’t mentioned that yet), and put together another one of her brilliant and fun book trailers for it, this one including video or audio of many of the contributors reading a piece of their own story.

Lots more information about Gotta Have It is over on Rachel’s Gotta Have It official book website, including a copy of her introduction, the table of contents, the author’s short bios, and announcements about readings.

Cleis Press, who published this anthology (and who publishes all of the best erotica anthologies, in my opinion, and I don’t just say that because they’re putting out my forthcoming lesbian BDSM anthology), has a special going on: “To celebrate this February 14th, receive 14% off all orders! Enter discount code HEARTS14 on your web order to receive your discount.” So pick up Gotta Have It over at www.cleispress.com, or at (or order it from) your local independent bookstore (assuming you want them to be around next year).

Ivan E. Coyote: Mini-Interview

Writer & performer. ivanecoyote.com
Photo by Eric Nielson

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

After many years of rambling and banging around in the “identity and labels” aisle of the english language, I have happily settled on butch. It is a big and beautiful enough category for me, and includes enough other folks that I can identify with and see as my family, my blood.

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

Butch, queer, writer, artist, storyteller, Yukoner. There are others, but those are the first that spring to mind.

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

Be kind. At least try to be kinder. To yourself, and to others around you, both strangers and intimates. You are just figuring all of this gender stuff out yourself, and things you think are absolutes right now will one day seem a lot more blurry, and complicated. Respect the differences of others, and honour who you know you are in your heart.

What’s Happening in February

Events! Here’s what’s going on in February, exciting New York City events that aren’t mine but that I highly recommend and my own events in both New York and elsewhere. Come on out and support queers and sex activists doing exciting, entertaining stuff.

Events with Mr. Sexsmith

Tuesday, February 8th, 8pmSideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival: Achilles Heel featuring Melissa Gira Grant, Rohin Guha, Aimee Herman, and Christa Orthat The Phoenix, 447 East 13th Street at Avenue A in New York City

Tuesday, February 22nd, 8pmCock Confidence: Strap-On 101 Workshop: Many of us have experience with strapping on, packing, and playing, but there are lots of new products out there on the market that might be exciting and that you haven’t encountered yet. Plus, she’ll delve into some cock confidence, getting into the psychology of penetration, and discussing what it’s like to shoot from the hip.Good Vibrations, 308A Harvard Street in Brookline, MA

Wednesday, February 23nd
8-10pm
Afternoon Delight: A workshop on sex toys and getting what you want in bed with Girlspot, the queer women’s group at Harvard. We’ll explore how to turn up the heat on our sex lives, what gender expression and performance has to do with sexuality, and all the fun tools we can use in the bedroom—from vibrators to strap ons to butt toys to light bondage and sensation. Includes a sex toy giveaway! Open to the public.Harvard, Boston, MA
Ticknor Lounge in Boylston Hall (right by Mass Ave) for 8-10PM

Saturday, February 26th
1-4pm
Radical & Responsible Gender Masculinity, Misogyny, and Feminisms: Academics break down and deconstruct gender. How do we build it back up radically and responsibly? How does one adapt masculinity or femininity “positively?” How do we become responsible about gender? How do we continue to break down the gender role restrictions that are hurtful and traumatizing? How can queer communities and spaces be improved by gender reflection? Open to the public; RSVP to Lauren Hannahs at [email protected]Syracuse University
Hall of Languages 102 Syracuse, NY

I’m still booking spring events! Would you like to bring me to your college or local queer center or somewhere else? Check out what kind of workshops I offer, and get in touch with me or my booking company, PhinLi.

This post will be updated with any new events added and further details, as I get ’em, and it’ll stay at the top of the blog until the March event schedule is posted. RSS readers probably won’t notice the difference, but if you’re reading here on the site, scroll down for the updates.

So, Hi. I’m Back.

January is over, so my official hiatus is through. I had a very particular writing schedule for myself in January (that if I was being really honest I’d tell you I rarely adhered to) and some specific goals, very few of which were met. But it was a start, and I do feel like I have a better idea of how to grow this manuscript that I’m working on and what I need to do. Which is, mostly, work my ass off.

So I wrote some, I went to the writer’s space that I rent out, I worked at home, I focused, I cut out all sorts of unnecessary distractions except for Sideshow and the sacred sex coordinating and the weekly column and the porn party. Which I know sound like a lot but were actually relatively easy to coordinate and still write. Amazing how many of the things I do that fill my days are actually superfluous, extraneous, unnecessary. It’s a good thing to remind myself.

For the last week of January I was on a DIY writing retreat up at a nearby retreat center, which was an interesting experience too. I’ve never done that before, never taken myself somewhere else to just focus on writing. The internet was out for two of the four days I was up there so it was really just me and my words. I would’ve liked to have gotten farther than I did, but I do like what I did do, so that’s good. It wasn’t completely successful but I think it’ll be easier to do next time, and it is something I’d like to do more regularly than I do.

January was not without challenges, though. I wrote about the snowstorm at the very beginning of this writing leave of absence, and the weather has been a factor, since feet (feet!) of snow, ice, and rain are often a good enough reason to stay at my lovely little home office and not trek to the writer’s space. But aside from the weather, Kristen and I have had some kind of awful fights. It seems like January hit and everything changed, though of course it’s not everything, it’s just a couple key things, things to which I’m still adjusting. That was part of the point, and part of the reason I started this month-of-writing leave-of-absence in the first place, that I was getting itchy and dissatisfied and she was going through her own stuff, so we both decided that separately and together we needed to shake things up, make some significant changes in what we do daily and, to a certain extent, our emotional landscapes too.

I don’t want to get too much into that. Partly because some of that belongs to Kristen and partly because I don’t have a good grasp of it in my head yet, so I’m not ready to write through it publicly. But we’ve been fighting. And it has at times completely thrown off my writing.

And then, on top of the weather and the fighting, I’ve been sick. It’s actually kind of rare for me to get sick, I generally take good care of my own health, but somehow this cold has gotten away from me. I’m still sick, actually, and this is the third wave of the sickness, I’ve gotten better twice before and then had some sort of relapse where it seems like it started all over again. I went to the doctor when it started up the second time, which I rarely do, and of course they just told me it was a cold, but I guess it’s good that it wasn’t bronchitis or something. But I thought I was getting better! I even went to the gym! And I went on that retreat! I was okay! But now: sore throat, congested sinuses, which is how it started the other times. This time I’m so congested that I can’t taste anything, or smell anything. Isn’t that weird? I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything and had absolutely no taste of it before, it is kind of freaky. I’m sure it’s just temporary, and I really should remember that, both about the taste thing and about the sickness, since I can be a kind of lousy patient and just sit around moaning about how sick I am. That’s not very attractive or fun or Daddy-like. Not that I’m saying I should “take it like a man” or anything, just that I could probably have a bit more self-control and that would be fine. It’s just so annoying to be sick, it’s hard not to express that annoyance.

And it really is getting in the way of writing!

I guess this is something I need to learn: how to keep my writing steady even if other shit is going on. How to let writing be my refuge from all the other shit, instead of needing the other shit to be calm and fine and in place in order to do the writing. Problem is, my brain really has not worked for the last four weeks! So of course the writing I’m producing has been pretty, well, thoughtless. And extremely frustrating.

Even if these distractions weren’t going on, this writing project would still be hard. I’m kicking up some memories and trying to wade through them, organize them, and write about them eloquently. I’m not sure if this will end up where I think it’s going, but for now I’m just trying to generate content, and have something to edit and improve.

So, my point is that my hiatus may continue in February—I’m going to keep focusing on this manuscript. But I also hope that I’m going to write here, too, and use this place as my morning pages. And of course I still have some events I’m hosting, and I need to get the manuscript together for the lesbian BDSM erotica anthology, so there is much to work on. Oh yeah, and I have some events too, so I’ll be doing some traveling to Boston and Philadelphia and upstate New York to Syracuse. (More about those soon, I’ll post a full event schedule.) And you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been posting some reviews lately; I still have a few in my back-log but I’m not taking on nearly as many as I used to. It’s great to have access to new products, and I’m enjoying building up my porn collection, but I don’t have the time to review all that I used to, and I have a very specific wishlist of products I’m picking from these days.

It’s a new year, and things are changing. Time to pick up the pace and jump over the hurdles and accomplish some shit. Which for me, first and foremost, means writing a book.

Review: Aslan Silicone Ball Gag

I’m totally sold on Aslan products in general, so it’s no surprise that I love this Aslan silicone ball gag. Aslan’s leather is beautiful, finely made, soft and buttery, and consistently high quality. Their toys are superb. I don’t really have anything bad to say about the company, or their toys.

Years ago I picked up one of those cheap, typical red ball gags with the single-buckled nylon head straps. It basically did what it was supposed to do, to keep someone’s mouth open and impede their speech, but it wasn’t particularly pretty and it would slip. It felt cheap in my hands.

Which is the complete opposite of this one. It feels high quality. It looks pretty buckled around my girlfriend’s jaw. It is adjustable and it stays in place. The ball is just the right size, maybe even a little bit small.

Though Kristen is very oral, she hasn’t expressed much interest in gags and early on even said that she didn’t like them and didn’t want to play with one. I didn’t expect her to like them—but it turns out that her sexual interest continues to evolve (as does mine, but that’s a slightly different post). I would’ve thought that it’d be too much for her, even a year ago, but she’s more interested in having her body parts restricted and restrained than she used to be, and combined with her continued oral fixation, playing with a gag makes a lot of sense.

Though to be honest, I really like it when she talks, so I don’t get this gag out very often. But I’m happy to report that when the urge strikes, this beautiful gag is right there waiting for us.

I didn’t expect to like it as much as we both do, but upgrading from that former cheap red gag opened up the new possibilities of playing with gags that neither of us expected. I’m even interested in another type of gag, one that has an o-ring instead of a ball gag, so things (fingers, cocks) can be inserted into her mouth while it has to stay open. It’s a bit more intense, and I’ve seen o-ring type gags that are made of metal, too, which I think are called spider gags?, that look even more intense and less attractive, but that might be something worth exploring eventually as well.

I had no idea this would become a thing for us to explore, but I trust Aslan’s products, so it was easy to pick up and try out.

The Aslan silicone ball gag was sent to me from Babeland for review. Pick up other sex toys from Babeland, still my favorite feminist, queer, friendly, educational neighborhood sex shop.