The Birthday Shoes Tradition

I have a little bit of a birthday tradition around here, where I ask readers to send in photos of their sexiest shoes as a little birthday card, if you feel so inspired. “Sexiest” can mean whatever you think it means, though I am partial to the tall, delicate, girly ones that tie around the ankle, but big stomping boots are awesome too, and toe cleavage is pretty darn sexy. Your call, I’m curious to see whatever makes you feel the most sexy.

Here are a few of my favorites from the last few years:


From Sex in Power in 2010


violetwhite in 2010


J. from Toronto in 2009


Missy in 2008

Email me your photo sometime in the next week or so, or leave the URL here in the comments, and I’ll be compiling them and featuring in the next few weeks. Sugarbutch turns 5 at the end of April and I’ll be doing the Ask Me Anything tradition again, so let’s get this done before that starts.

If you’d rather not send in a birthday photograph, maybe you’d consider buying me a beer? I know it’s tough financial times, for many of us, and I so appreciate the support y’all are sending by way of emails and comments. If you’d like to treat me to a birthday present, I would so appreciate it. If you’d like to do something other than a donation, I will (this one time!) provide the link to my Amazon wishlist that has mostly books and a few kitchen things. I really want to keep writing here, and to stay afloat, and every little bit helps as I’m still struggling into this freelance career.





Sincere thank yous! Now, I have a big to-do list to get through before Kristen and I take off tomorrow, so I better go do some work and stop looking at the Mac store.

The Struggle for Growth

The couple’s therapy session last night went pretty well, and I think we’re going to see her again.

The therapist mentioned the stages of a relationship, first by saying, “What stage do you think you are in?” and later by reflecting back to us that she thinks (and I agree) we are in a conflict stage, which is completely normal, after 2+ years, for the development of a long term partnership.

I spent the morning looking up articles on relationship stages. I think most of us can pretty easily identify the Honeymoon phase, or the NRE (new relationship energy) phase, which is pretty commonly discussed in my world anyway. It’s clear Kristen and I are past that … though to be honest, I feel a little sad about that, even just writing down that we’re no longer in it, I don’t want to admit that, to myself or to you, I’d rather be one of those couples that says, “The honeymoon never ended,” and be all blissful and gooey eyed at each other. I think I am grieving for that loss a little. We stayed there for a long time, certainly longer than I’ve ever been in it before, and we even were able to get back into that blissful wrapped-up-in-each-other feeling for a good year and a half into our relationship, maybe even a little longer.

I have read many books on relationships and taken some relationship classes, so it kind of surprised me that I’m not more familiar with these relationship stage theories. Some of the articles I read have four stages, some have five, some have five or six, some have eight, but all of them mention this key stage of growth, which is where I think Kristen and I are, and most of them refer to it as The Power Struggle. One place writes that it is “sometimes also known as the “Growth Struggle” by those who like to think positively,” which I think is more apt, not just because I like to think positively but because growth requires the temporary suspension of security, and that as much as many of us gives lip service to wanting to “grow,” most people don’t seem to be capable of doing so. And “growth” is what the Power Struggle actually means—we are struggling against each other, with power dynamics, monsters, whatever, and if we can work through it, it will be a huge stage of growth for us, into the next stages.

So, before I keep going into my personal reactions to these stages, here’s what I understand from my readings to be the major relationship stages, as compiled from multiple sources.

1. The Honeymoon

New Relationship Energy, Bliss, Enchantment, Falling In Love, Romantic Love—this stage has many names, but all the models I read seems to be clear and in agreement about what it does. It brings two people together, blissfully, and makes everything seem great. Better than great—wonderful.

“When you see things that you don’t like, you might deny or at least minimize them. You tend to go above and beyond what is required or expected. You feel energized, alive, and filled with new dreams.” Dawn Lipthrott writes at The Relationship Learning Center. She also explains that, “Your brain is flooded with feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine and PEA (phenylethylamine). Like most endorphins, PEA increases energy, feelings of well being, positive outlook, and diminishes pain. It increases sexual desire. PEA is what allows you to skip meals and sleep. If you usually tend to be anxious, PEA may help you feel safe and calm. If you are usually depressed, you might have more energy and see things more positively.”

Seems like most of these places say it tends to last 6-8 months, but completely vary depending on the couple and can be longer or shorter.

2. Settling In

Some places have more phases between the Honeymoon and the Power Struggle, like Discovery, and Commitment, or Accommodation , but most of the others go right into the Power Growth Struggle.

But I think there is more to the beginning of a relationship than just the blissful honeymoon, and that most of the time, more things happen before going right into the Growth Struggle.

“The initial excitement of being together is subdued so you can actually discover who the other person really is. You and your partner begin to discover each other’s quirks and neurosis, and you uncover things that bug you about each other. You also begin to discover what you truly love and respect about one another. Your communication should deepen to a soulful level, where you begin to open up to each other,” love coach Rinatta writes.

“Roles are established, expectations are set and compromises are made,” Dr. Marty Tashman writes.

I think Kristen and I spent a bit of time in this, settling in to each other, building, working on foundations, having small fights but recovering, still holding that deep bond between us. In relationships I’ve had in the past, we skipped this stage, and I think it’s important for a strong foundation.

3. The Growth Struggle

“Eventually, for virtually all couples, the enchantment phase ends, the drugs wear off and are no longer secreted, the negative traits emerge with a greater impact, wounds and protections from childhood start being activated and the relationship moves into the “Power Struggle”. Where a partner once wanted to spend lots of time and energy in the relationship … now the partner is quiet, pre-occupied, unavailable. … Where a husband or wife was, in the Romantic Phase, kind and respectful and listening; now in the Power Struggle Phase, he or she becomes impatient, authoritative, unresponsive … somehow familiar from childhood or teen experiences. This can be very distressing and even frightening. At some point there is often the panicky thought, “What have I done? I’ve married my Mom!” from Stages in Love Relationships, Gary Brainerd

“This is the stage at which most couples split up. The power struggle can be a gut-wrenching, painful place for a couple to be. This can be a time of arguments or silence, a time that truly will test the couple’s love. Couples at this stage wonder how they got here since it can come on unexpectedly out of nowhere. This can be a shocking stage for a couple,” love coach Rinatta writes. She continues: “There are two prime stumbling blocks. One is that when couples get to this stage they do not realize it is a normal stage for all relationships, and that they can get through it. Instead, the couple thinks something is wrong – perhaps they are no longer compatible or they no longer love each other. The second stumbling block is that the couple can get stuck in this stage, with one or both partners being unwilling to move forward.”

Men’s relationship advice (I know, cheesy, but I’m only picking what I think is useful and, in my opinion, accurate) says that the Growth Struggle is “a troubled – but necessary (like puberty) – developmental stage.”

Aha—puberty, I like that correlation. Awkward, bumbling, coming of age, growing up, sometimes it feels like the world is ending.

“I like to call this stage, “The Invitation to Growth.” It’s also a struggle for protection. One of the biggest illusions in our culture is that Romantic Love will last forever, if you just find the right partner. We hear that love is supposed to continue happening ‘naturally’ and if you have to ‘work’ on it, it must not be real love,” writes Dawn Lipthrott at The Relationship Learning Center.

I think more commonly in my life there is a sense that “relationships take work,” but also a lot of confusion about how much work is okay, how much is good, and how much is too much. But I like the idea of this being an invitation to grow.

How easy it is to forget that conflict and problems are invitations for growth, change, and evolution in general! This is a basic principle of Buddhism that seems to pop up in my life frequently, but somehow I can’t seem to remember it before I am already dragged down into the mud of, “Oh my god this is never going to change this sucks argh stuck stuck stuck.”

“In this 2nd stage, you might start feeling anxious or disappointed. Things that you once liked about your partner have become sources of frustration and hurt feelings. … Anger and resentment can build. Sometimes it feels as if you are walking on eggshells. Little things seem to so easily turn into big things.” Dawn Lipthrott continues. “For some couples this stage can get to the point of desperation where you’ve tried everything you know and it seems the only option is to get out—temporarily or permanently. … This stage can be the door to deeper connection and intimacy, and a fulfilling relationship, if you learn and use some of the tools to transform it into the path to real love. Conflict is growth trying to happen to help you and your partner realize more of your potential as individuals and as a couple! Conflict can be a door to healing and personal growth. Conflict is NOT the problem. What you do or don’t do with it can be a big problem.”

“There are no simple solutions to a power struggle in a relationship. It’s a complicated phenomenon that is inevitable. But it is resolvable,” Rinatta writes.

“If your relationship is not completely compromised, this is where you need to get help! No, not well-meaning friends or a self-help book – what you need is qualified, impartial third party assistance. Choose [a] relationship counselor in your area,” writes Men’s relationship advice.

“The Power Struggle is growth and healing trying to happen,” writes Gary Brainerd.

I don’t know how people resolve this on their own. Some couples must be capable of it, but I know I can really use some assistance. I’m not sure if any of my relationships have moved out of this phase, to be honest. They always end here, often because, in the past, my conflict resolution skills have been awful, with my tendencies to shut down and run away. I am working hard on that in my individual therapy work, and I’m definitely in a new place.

Because I haven’t really gotten out of this, I’m not sure what the next stages are. But I’ll try to summarize and bring together as much as I can, according to what I’m reading.

It seems like there are two options from the Growth Struggle: unresolved, and resolution. I’m interested in what happens when people stay in an unresolved relationship, it probably would explain a lot of my parent’s marriage, for example, but I’m more interested in a model that I can possibly follow, and a place for which to aim. So you can go read up on the further unresolved stages, though I’m going to focus on what happens when a couple is working toward resolution in this particular relationship stages model.

4. Transformation

Assuming the couple makes it out of the Growth Struggle and stays together, which it seems most couples can’t, the next step is work, work, work. And developing skills. And developing a common language to talk about our individual monsters, our needs, and our relationship’s needs.

“Couples who choose this route will find themselves learning a lot about themselves, about their partner, about relationships,” writes Brainerd. “The emotional patterns of each are clear and they have established patterns of dealing with their differences. It is common for problems to arise in this stage, but because you have already experienced a great many shared challenges, you stand the best chance of working through these issues,” writes Tashman.

“This is the stage in which you not only recognize that your relationship can be more than it is, but also that you have the power to make real changes. You choose to become conscious and intentional, and begin a whole new chapter in co-creating the relationship you both dreamed of,” writes Lipthrott. “In this stage, when you use good communication skills, you can gain new information and insights about yourself, about your partner, and about the nature of marriage or relationship. You discover the hurts, fears and unmet needs that are the roots of conflict and you can find more effective ways to address the REAL problems, not just the symptoms. … you consciously practice the skills you are learning about communication, stretching into new behaviors, creating emotional safety, etc. You become partners in the healing and growth of the relationship, your self and your partner. You hold in your mind and heart the vision of the relationship you want and you work each day to make it a reality. You also find that you are realizing your potential more in other parts of your life.”

“It takes a lot of soul searching, self-discovery, intimacy work and deepened communication to break out of the power struggle and move beyond it. Now both partners must grow emotionally for the relationship to thrive. Those who are committed to their relationship do grow, no matter what may be required of them. Think of this period as your second chance to create the relationship you have always wanted with a partner you have always wanted to be with,” Rinatta writes.

“Beyond the power struggle, in the transformation stage you understand that avoiding conflict is not an option any longer, as it makes you angry and resentful, shuts you down, and breaks the trust. You realize that guilt trips, justifications, blame, criticism, sarcasm, and violent behaviors deeply damage your relationship, brake your partner’s heart and destroy her respect. As hard as it may be, you must stop wasting time on useless distractions (TV, games, shopping, pointless activities) and start spending time with YOURSELF. Walk, run, or sit in quiet meditation; let go of your mind and enter your heart – the answers you are looking for are here. It is time to find yourself again: your needs, your wants, your passions and your dreams. Write them down. Keep refining and upgrading the old ones until you feel ignited again! Little by little, you start seeing your partner with new eyes: she is your best friend and you are both in this together.” writes Men’s relationship advice

Does that ring a bell or what? It seems like I have almost written that paragraph here lately, at least from the part about wasting time and spending time on myself. I have been feeling a strong pull to do that lately, maybe it will help me pre-build this transformation stage. Or maybe we’re already starting to be in it, since we are finally breathing a little more freely around each other, and I know I feel more hopeful that we can get through this than I have before.

5. Gold

That’s how the therapist last night referred to it, anyway: as in, “you hit gold,” or “you’re golden.” I forget what she said exactly, but it’s The Point, I guess. Eventually. I don’t know how long it takes to get there—probably depends on the Growth & Transformation stages, and maybe even once you hit Gold you still go back and grow and transform sometimes again. That would make sense, given that life is ever-changing, ever-evolving, and that there are always crises to deal with.

“It’s not that there will never be hard work or hard times again, but you have reached a new stage in your relationship – a stage where you cherish and treasure each other, appreciate the good, and accept the bad. You have bonded, connected, joined. Now this is what love is all about. … Life happens to a more mature, seasoned, happy and vibrant couple. You move together and separately through your life and know when you need to connect and when you need time apart. You know how to meet each other’s needs and seek increasingly deeper connection. Your relationship is the rock, the wellspring of love in your life.” Rinatta writes.

“This is the stage of deep respect and cherishing of one another as separate and unique individuals without losing the sense of connection. It is a stage of joy, passion, intimacy, happiness and having fun together. It is the stage of living out the vision of true partnership, unconditional love and safety, and of coming to see your partner as your best friend. It is the stage of moving toward the spiritual potential of committed relationship the journey toward wholeness, the love in which you taste Divine Love in whatever way you imagine or language that,” writes Lipthrott.

“The final stage … is what is sometimes called “Realistic Love”. It is a much higher level of marital or relationship satisfaction, but unlike the Romantic Phase, it is based on a mature, realistic love that is grounded in understanding, healing and growth. It is a goal worthy of the best you have to offer,” writes Brainerd.

“The stage of real love, or blissful relationship, is what follows after the winded journey of discovering each other and consistent personal growth for mutual healing in committed relationships. According to researchers, if you reach this ultimate phase of complete acceptance and love you are part of the lucky 5% of the couples who make it. Much like the first infatuation stage, blissful love is full of joy, passion, fun, and deep physical and emotional intimacy. But unlike that phase of “no control and least awareness” you now live out your vision of collaborative partnership, deep respect, and true friendship,” via Men’s relationship advice.

I know I’m giving you a lot of quotes here, but I can’t write from experience about these stages as much. I can probably summarize them (and maybe I will condense this down and into my own words, and pitch it elsewhere, as I keep thinking about it) but I’m still now just trying to understand what the phases are and how we move through them. I have a much better sense of that evolution than I ever did before—not sure how exactly I’ve skipped this theory in all my readings on relationships, or maybe it just never quite resonated because I never got to the Growth Struggle phase and thought that I would actually get through it, and wondered what was next. It was so clear in past relationships that we weren’t going to get through it, so the struggle was simply to get out, rather than to move on.

Here, though, the struggle is to move forward, to open up, to face the growth and transformation, and to keep turning toward this wonderful person who has chosen me, as I’ve chosen her.

Reminder: Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 Submissions Are Due April 1

This is one of my favorite erotica series, not only because the 1997 version was one of the first books of lesbian erotica that I ever picked up, and because I’ve submitted to this anthology every year starting in 2006 (though I haven’t been included every year). I always pick it up, always, regardless of the table of contents or the guest judge, because it is a high quality collection that I always enjoy.

Next year, 2012, I’ve heard rumors that there is a special guest judge. I can’t tell you who, but I am excited.

If you’re an erotica writer, consider getting something together for the April 1 deadline! Specific guidelines for submission are below:

Kathleen Warnock is now accepting submissions for Best Lesbian Erotica 2012, to be published by Cleis Press in December, 2011.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Submit short stories, self-contained novel excerpts, other prose
  • Unpublished material will be considered
  • Previously published material will also be considered
  • Submit two hard copies of each submission (you may print double-sided).
  • Include a cover page with: Author’s Name, Pen Name (if applicable) Title of Submission(s), Address, Phone, and Email Address, and short (50-ish words) bio.
  • All submissions must be typed and double-spaced; number the pages.
  • Each submission should be a maximum of 5,000 words (list word count on title page).You may print double-sided.
  • You may submit up to 2 different pieces of work
  • No email submissions will be accepted, except in the circumstances detailed below; you can email queries to Kwarnockble (at) gmail.com
  • Manuscripts will not be returned, so please don’t send return envelopes.
  • We will consider stories that have been published in other themed anthologies.

E-mail submissions:
You may submit your story via email (as a Word document or PDF) under the following conditions:

  • You live outside of North America or Europe
  • The cost of postage would be prohibitive from your home country
  • The content of your submission may be illegal to send via postal mail in your home country

Submission Deadline:
Submissions will be accepted throughout the year. The final (postmark) deadline is April 1, 2011. All submissions will be responded to by the end of September. Early submissions are encouraged.

Mailing Information:
Send all submissions to:

Kathleen Warnock
31-64 21st St., #319
Long Island City, NY 11106
Attn: BLE2012

If mailing from the US, First Class mail is fine. If you require a confirmation other than the USPS Delivery Confirmation, please included a self-addressed stamped postcard (not an envelope). If mailing from Canada, Airmail or XpressPost USA are recommended.

Please note: April 1, 2011 is a postmark date. You don’t need to overnight it as long as it is postmarked by then. If you are unable to make the postmark date, please email to discuss the possibility of an extension.

Questions? Email the editor at kwarnockble (at) gmail.com.

Tomcat’s Barber Shop

It’s been a long time coming, this ode to my favorite barber shop in New York City. It took a while to find it, but now that I have I don’t go anywhere else.

When I moved to New York City, I went to the barber shop around the corner, which happened to be on 2nd avenue and 3rd street. It was a reasonable place, the guy who owned it, I think, he was always there cutting hair and was nice enough. I never witnessed any overt homophobia or weirdness about me being in that space, though it was clear it was a dude’s space, with Maxim and Playboy and other kinds of girly magazines on the tables near the waiting chairs and with an eventual upgrade to big-screen TVs that were always playing exploitive (or so it seemed to me, anyway) music videos or sports events. Sometimes the guys in there, who were obviously the barber’s friends, carried on elaborate conversations I would have rather not overheard. Most of the time there weren’t any mentions of queer folks, but very frequently they were talking about women in ways that I didn’t like.

It was affordable, and convenient, and reliable—he would almost always give me a good haircut. Maybe not amazing, but good, and that’s important.

Later I saw a shot from Sophia Wallace‘s “Bois & Dykes” series (which I can’t find online anymore, someone point me to the link if you’ve got it) (which fimgfound on the GAQ, thank you!) of someone getting her hair cut in that same barber shop, with that same barber, which I thought was pretty cool. I’m glad they are known, at least a little, to be cool and warm toward queers.

But then I moved to Brooklyn, and it became a huge challenge to find a place to get my hair cut. Maintaining this kind of short hair takes a cut about once a month, so I had plenty of time to try out places, (sometimes) get horrible cuts, and try out somewhere else.

I knew I needed some hip, reliable place to go, but couldn’t find it.

So I started asking around. I decided that when I saw someone with the kind of hair I wanted, I would ask them where they got their hair cut.

The first time that happened, I was on the subway on the way to Brooklyn. He had a pompadour of some sort, slicked back and poufy in the right spots. That, I thought. That’s what I want.

He got up from his seat to get off at the next stop, and I swallowed, told myself it was now or never. I don’t like talking to strangers. “Excuse me,” I said, “Sorry to bug you, I’m just wondering if you’d mind sharing where you get your hair cut? Love it.”

Tomcat’s Barber Shop,” he answered easily, and exited the train.

I looked it up. It is in Greenpoint, near Williamsburg, known as The Hipster Neighborhood. Hm. Not sure that’s where I want to go. I continued to go to other barbers, even made a special trip down to the East Village to go to my old barber because he was reliable enough. But the cut wasn’t great. A little too quick, a little too short, not quite styled enough, just average. It was fine when I was getting faux hawks and all-short-with-a-little-bit-flippy-in-the-front, but now that I wanted something more retro and stylish and grown up, it wasn’t quite right.

Then I saw a guy in a big department store one weekend. Also with a pompadour of some sort, this time with tattoos and a motorcycle jacket. Okay, maybe it was time to step up my rockabilly look. Maybe it was time to push my style.

I kept catching glances of him at the ends of aisles, or passing each other, but not quite near enough to ask him a question. Then, magically, we both got in the same elevator to get down to the street level after we’d checked out.

“I have to ask—your hair is amazing,” I said to him. “Where do you get it done?”

“This retro barber shop called Tomcat’s,” he answered.

Another vote for Tomcats. Clearly I had to try it out.

So I did. And I’ve been going there ever since, for more than two years now.

Actually, I’m not sure when I started going there. I’m sure it was before Kristen and I got together, but not sure how long before. Maybe a year? So maybe it’s been more than three years I’ve been going there.

I have never had a bad cut from Tomcat’s. I’ve had cuts that weren’t exactly what I asked for, but they were still awesome. I’ve had cuts from Katja (though she doesn’t work there anymore), Joey, and Derek. Erin and Chris are great, too. I always ask for Joey, but I would recommend anyone on staff.

The cuts are $20 and they will do a wash and razor shave on your neck if you want (you might have to ask, I rarely get a wash, but they will do it). You’ll also get a beer while you’re waiting, if you want that.

This is how they describe themselves:

Tomcat’s Barber Shop specializes in Classic cuts (pompadours, 50’s biker cuts, Blade cuts for the Psychobillys, Mods, Glamrockers, Punks etc) military cuts, and shaves, and any of the modern cuts. Tomcats is known in NY as the premier Rock ‘n’ Roll barbershop.

They moved around Halloween last year, but just across the street, and the new venue is gorgeous. I’ve taken various shots the last times I’ve been there and I’d love to do a photo shoot there, eventually. I love the feel.

A few months ago, when I went in, Joey, the owner, who seems to like to talk while he’s cutting hair, was talking about his clients and how he’s still hiring barbers for the new place. “I have all kinds of barbers working here,” he said to me. “But what I don’t have is a girl with a flat top and tattoos.”

(If you know of a queer barber looking for a chair, this might be a place for them to try out!)

So he’s keeping an eye out for more queer clientele to come in, and I told him I’d tell my story and tell y’all to go check them out. I know plenty of you have regular places you already attend, but I am telling you, this place is an experience.

If you’re visiting New York from elsewhere, think about stopping here on your first day—then you’ll have a killer coif in all your vacation photos. They have all the (affordable!) products you need to keep it waxed and pomped and defying gravity, and the cuts are only $20.

I’m overdue for a cut myself, but I’m trying to grow it out for the Gay Ol’ OpryDapperQ requested I pomp my hair up for it so I’m letting it grow. I’ll get it done later this week, probably before I leave on the birthday weekend trip, so it’ll be all set for the event on the 7th.

I have fifteen more stories to tell you about barber shops and hair and my gender and masculine spaces where I feel safe and product, but perhaps I’ll leave those for other times. Tell me, folks, where do you go get your hair cut? Is it an important event for you? Do you cut your hair yourself? What’s your barber/salon like? Is it queer (friendly)? What have you witnessed there?

(Perhaps this would be a good Butch Lab Symposium topic.)

Oh, and if you stop by, tell Joey I sent you.

Angie Evans: Mini-Interview

Angie Evans, singer-songwriter, performer, musician.
www.angieevans.com & www.facebook.com/angieevansmusic

Photo by Michelle Bandach

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

Well, to start, I have the word tattooed on the back of my right arm, if that tells you anything. It is a central part of my identity. The word represents the way I walk in the world and represents the sisters and brothers who have come before me. It is a part of my herstory. By owning my female masculinity I own the word butch, thus, I own myself. I want to be an example for young baby butches out there, to show them that you can be a womyn in the world and have complete freedom to express your natural masculinity, because it is fucking natural! And goddess damn!, you can look good in a suit and tie. Being butch makes me feel empowered and proud! It is my other butch sisters and brothers (and definitely the femmes out there!) that make me feel special, loved and embraced. Everyone should feel that way and that is why supporting, not criticizing, each others identities within the queer community is very important.
Butch also provides me with opportunities to build community. When I attended both Butch Voices conferences in Oakland and LA, I was able to see the huge variety of folks who identify as butch, making me feel like I was not alone, yet a part of something. I think that embracing female masculinity and butch-ness is on the rise. Or at least I am pushing for it!

I was a “tomboy” all of my life and began to identify with the word when I was dating a femme and I started exploring the butch-femme dynamic, fucking and playing with gender roles. When I met the first butch-femme couple in my life, who were tied to a feminist community, I saw how the femme adored her masculine partner and thought… hey, maybe I can be as boyish as I want and maybe my hair can be as short as I want and still be a radical lesbian feminist as well as desirable in the world. In fact, I think becoming more butch has made my sex appeal go way up! Not only because it is sexy, but because I am expressing who I am in a way that makes me feel like my authentic self, and THAT is sexy! Butch is beautiful and butch is handsome.

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

Queer, feminist, butch, dyke, womyn, lesbian, poet, musician, activist, lover, amazon. Sometimes the order changes, but that is how it came out today.

I feel proud to inhabit all of these labels. A lot of folks feel like labels, identity politics, etc are so passe. I find power and unity in the labels that I choose. They help guide me in the world and have been helpful signposts in the growth and change that has occurred in my life.

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

Don’t worry. Your body is beautiful. You’re not confused. You do have a dick, you’re just not old enough to buy it/them yet. :)

4. Anything you would like to add?

A thank you to Butch Lab for creating space to let butch voices be heard. Praise Butch!

Wendi Kali: Mini-Interview

Wendi Kali, Writer/Photographer
wendikali.com & astrangerinthisplace.blogspot.com

Photo by Kina Williams

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

My relationship with the word “butch” has changed over time. There was a period of time when I felt it was too much of a box to put myself in and I questioned whether or not I actually identified as butch. Over the years I have learned that the word encompasses many things and has so many definitions. For me, the thing about words and titles is that I can take them and define them for myself. I like to think of myself as mostly a guy but also a woman. I like things that are stereotypically things that guys like and I present as masculine but that’s only a small part of who I am. I am a complicated being filled with thoughts and feelings and likes and dislikes with a little bit of mystery locked in there. I challenge gender stereotypes on a daily basis simply by existing in this world. I have grown comfortable and almost proud of the fact that I am called “Sir” on a daily basis. On the outside I may look like a man, but under these boots, jeans and t-shirt, I am all woman. Comfortable and confident in these clothes and in this skin. I am me.

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

I identify myself as a motorcycle riding butch lesbian, writer, photographer and self-explorer learning to love and accept myself. I will answer to “Sir” or “Ma’am” but prefer to be described as “handsome” rather than “beautiful”. I am a woman who enjoys binding, packing and moving fluidly between genders.

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

Since I didn’t come out until I was 30, I’d like to tell my younger self that being gay is an option. Your parents, family and friends may have had a hard time with it in the beginning but they would have figured out how to be ok with it because you are an awesome human. It’s ok to only want to wear boy’s clothes and play sports with the guys. It’s ok to have crushes on girls and your best friends. You are a girl who likes girls and it’s ok. No matter what anyone else thinks. Love yourself just the way you are.

There Were Actually Two Porn Parties This Week …

The one on Twitter, and Rough Sex 3: Adrianna’s Dangerous Mind release party. Director (and general badass hottie) Tristan Taormino posted some shots from it on her Tumblr and on Facebook, including this one of my firecracker fierce hot girlfriend.

Oh and she’s framed by butches Davis and Lori, the geniuses behind Sexquire, which provides professional business solutions for the adult sex industry.


Photo by Nate “Igor” Smith (drivenbyboredom.com)

(Regularly scheduled posts will return next week, I swear.)

Erotic Energy Workshops for Women in May

If you read between the lines around here, you probably know I’m involved with an erotic energy school. I’ve been studying there for about ten years now. I’ve been assisting for about five, and started coordinating workshops last year.

There are two advanced retreats that I am coordinating coming up in May near Albany, NY and in July near Albuquerque, NM, and if you are experienced with erotic energy work you are invited to come join me there.

I kept writing “workshop” here, because that’s what we call them, but really they are retreats, either 3- or 5-days long.

A good friend of mine (and fellow butch!) is also coordinating the level one class in Oakland in May. Perhaps you’re a beginner, and interested in what all this subtle energy, erotic energy, tantra stuff is about? This one is perfect for you. It explores subtle and not so subtle energy in the body, as well as mapping desires, reclaiming pleasure, and healing old wounds. I’ve taken it probably ten times and it is always full of learning, fascinating, challenging, and beautiful.

I call it “level one” or sometimes even “beginner level,” but it is totally applicable to folks who have experience with this too. Kind of like how in yoga, an advanced student can come into a beginner class and still get tons and tons out of it. There is a lot of room for everyone’s experience, level of comfort, and personal life history in each of these courses and I highly encourage taking them. They have significantly changed my life in the last ten years and I have taken many, many of the foundations of my sexual self away from the teachings of these workshops, with these particular teachers.

I’m not posting all the details here, but I would be glad to send them to you if you want to know more. Email me at mrsexsmith (at) gmail.com and I will send you more information. I’m glad to answer questions you have, too.

Free Queer Porn Party (on Twitter) Tonight, and You’re Invited

Y’all didn’t forget about the #pornparty tonight, did you?

What is a #pornparty, you ask? Well, it’s a worldwide gathering on Twitter of folks who like queer porn. Simply tune in at 6pm PST / 9pm EST, press play at precisely that time, and then follow the hashtag #pornparty while you watch for commentary and discussion. If you want to join in, make sure you have your own Twitter account, too, and tag your posts with the hashtag so we’ll all see them.

Tonight, we’ll be watching Artcore through Hot Movies For Her, and viewing this film is completely free. You don’t have to buy it or download it or purchase VOD minutes to watch it with us. You will need a HotMoviesForHer.com account (which requires a credit card for verification purposes), and simply use the code ArtcorePornParty (which IS case sensitive) when you sign up and you’ll receive 80 minutes free to watch with us tonight! Those 80 minutes will expire tomorrow, so watch ’em quick!

Watch the trailer and read the description of the film if you want even more inspiration to join in.

So all you have to do is:
1. Make a HotMoviesForHer.com account and use the code “ArtcorePornParty” for 80 free minutes
2. Tune in tonight! March 23rd at 6pm PST, 9pm EST
3. Enjoy the film with us
4. Follow & contribute to the Twitter discussion with the hashtag #pornparty

You can also follow me (@mrsexsmith) as well as some of the porn stars in the film, like @fatty_d, @courtneytrouble, @drewdeveaux, @kellyshibari, and of course our fabulous #pornparty host, @hotmovies4her on Twitter.

So, are you game? Who’s in?

Review: Taormino’s Rough Sex 2 & 3 (Release Party Tonight!)

It occurred to me while I was thinking about the Rough Sex 3: Adrianna’s Dangerous Mind party that is happening in New York City tonight that I still haven’t commented on Rough Sex 2. So hey, let’s do that.
I never wrote up Rough Sex 1 with Sasha Grey and Derrick Pierce (as well as others, but they stood out), but I remember it well. Especially Derrick’s scene, though the premise of the whole film series by feminist queer pornographer Tristan Taormino is also awesome, and I love the way it unfolds on screen.

The scenes are based on the female performer’s fantasies, where they get to choose what they do and who they do it with. The interviews and descriptions about what the porn stars want to do, how they establish trust, and why they like to play rough are interspersed with some clips from their scenes before you watch the whole thing. It’s great—what an intentional, articulate way to not just explore but also record this kind of rough play.

Here’s the description about the series from Tristan’s website:

The scenes are based entirely on the real fantasies of female performers, which run the gamut from dominance to submission. Through deeply personal interviews, you’ll discover their definitions of rough sex, why they love it, how they establish trust with their partners, and what they need to feel safe to play on the edge. With scenes that are part documentary and part erotic vignette, Rough Sex dares to challenge conventional wisdom about the fantasy lives of women.

They create the scenes. They choose their partners. They control what happens. Each woman shares her most intimate desires, tests her own boundaries, and rides the seductive line between pleasure and pain. Witness female sexuality at its most extreme: raw, rough, and real.

Rough Sex 2 is directed by Tristan Taormino, starring Claire Adams, Chayse Evans, April Flores, Sinnamon Love, Adrianna Nicole, Dylan Ryan, Bobbi Starr, Madison Young, Mark Davis, James Deen, Shane Diesel, Richard Mann, Nathan Menace, and Orpheus Black. The scenes are described as: Mistress Claire takes her pet April on an unforgettable ride. Bobbi tastes total submission at the back of her throat. Ponygirl Madison gets trained. Chayse and Mark double team slave Adrianna. Madison bakes a cake for her Mistress with interesting results. Sinnamon serves her Master (and his friends) at a poker game.

Two of those really stand out: Madison Young’s pony play scene, and Sinnamon’s poker game. I don’t have any interest in pony play, myself, but watching that scene was fascinating, in part precisely because I don’t have much interest in it, and because Madison Young is such an amazing performer that we can actually watch the desire grow and build in her facial expressions and in her body, which gave me a different understanding about why that kind of play would be intriguing. See some shots from that scene on Tristan’s tumblr if you are intrigued. Sinnamon’s poker game was intense, and I can clearly tell why she chose that dom. He was precise and deliberate, and so obviously experienced. Here’s some shots from it on Tristan’s tumblr, where she also says, “There is so little black on black BDSM in mainstream porn that I am especially proud of this scene for its groundbreaking representation.”

Rough Sex 3: Adrianna’s Dangerous Mind I haven’t seen yet, but I have been following Tristan’s tumblr as she’s posted many shots from the scenes: Adrianna Nicole & Jiz Lee, “Cash” starring Adrianna Nicole & Ramon Nomarxxx, Adrianna Nicole & Jada Fire, and “Jock” Nat Turnher, Danny Wylde, Keni Styles & Evan Stone give Adrianna Nicole a workout.

The release party is tonight in New York City and features free hard cider from 7-8pm, gift bags, a raffle when you buy a copy of the DVD, and more. Stop by if you’re around. It’s FREE tonight, Tuesday, March 22, 7-10 pm at Fontana’s, 105 Eldridge Street (between Grand & Broome) in NYC. No RSVP Required.

Tobi Hill-Meyer: Mini-Interview

Tobi Hill-Meyer
Trans Activist, Writer, and Pornographer
www.nodesignation.com, www.handbasketproductions.com

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

For quite a while I felt like I couldn’t transition because it would mean that I’d have to be femme in a way that was uncomfortable for me. The genderqueer butch expression that I saw on female assigned genderqueers worked well for me, but when I was being perceived as male it was next to impossible for that to be visible on me. One day a friend told me, “You know Tobi, you can be a butch trans woman,” but it took a few years to sink in.

When I did transition and was having a hard time at work, I tried for a year or so to dress more feminine, hoping people would be more likely to get my pronouns right. It was difficult for me, but I kept a separate butch wardrobe that I only wore on the weekends – ironically, it was the most like a crossdresser I ever felt. Eventually I decided to screw trying to fit into other people’s images of gender and just be myself. Being butch is an important part of that.

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

I used to call myself a butch-femme switch, because even though my life has been punctuated with social pressure to be femme in ways that didn’t work out for me, I still find occasion when I want to do femme my own way. I dropped that term, though, when I realized that I was probably butch 98% of the time. Now I keep it simple and just call myself butch, or maybe andro-butch and occasionally andro-femme. Of course I’m also genderqueer and trans, pansexual and a dyke.

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

I think the key thing would be to tell my younger self “What you want is possible, you can be who you are,” and perhaps offer other words of encouragement. Any specifics or “spoilers” would only deny myself the insight and perspectives I have learned from figuring it out myself. Although, I might not be able to resist sharing a few amazing sexual experiences both as encouragement that you can be a trans woman and butch, be desirable, and have great sex, as well as reassurance that the things I was once most anxious about eventually turned out just fine.

Bonus: Anything else you’d like to add?
As a butch I think it’s important to speak to my relationship to femmes, femmephobia and the privileging of masculinity. I certainly get crap for being gender non-conforming (on top of crap for being trans), but as a butch trans woman it’s easier for me to separate being gender non-conforming and being masculine. I can easily see the difference between how people treat me when I’m gender non-conforming and masculine as opposed to when I have been gender non-conforming and feminine.

Even in queer and trans spaces I can see how masculine folks are more readily assumed to be radical, with it, and hip, where feminine folks are more readily assumed to be conformist, ignorant, and conservative. I have even noticed that difference just in how I’m treated on those days that I’m doing femme as opposed to my more usual genderfuck and/or butch. I’ve found myself connecting well with a number of femmes and I believe part of that is how my experience of transmisogyny that gives me better insight into femmephobia. Similarly I think that, at least for the femmes I’m spending time with, their experience of femmephobia has made it easier to understand transmisogyny.

Review: Belladonna’s Strapped Dykes (DVD)


I’ve had a copy of the 2-DVD set Belladonna’s Strapped Dykes for months, and still haven’t managed to finish it. That’s because it is damn hot. I keep getting distracted! Two whole discs of fucking? How can I last that long?

Clearly I need a new strategy. I’d like to get an external monitor for my laptop (someday) so I can watch porn while I work, but then again that might be too distracting.

This set features (pretty famous) porn star Belladonna, who has quite the empire of her own, though I don’t really follow the mainstream porn world so I know very little about her. Turns out she’s quite good at queer sex, and she brings along well-known queer porn favorites Jiz Lee & Syd Blakovich to help out in this film.

Also stars April Flores (who we are watching in Wednesday night’s porn party!), Bobbi Starr, and Sinn Sage. Aside from April, I’m not familiar with any of those porn actresses but they are quite fun to watch.

It’s clear everybody here is having a really good time. The fucking is dirty and real, with great noises from all involved—clearly they are enjoying it all. Especially worth checking out are Jiz Lee’s opening scene with Belladonna, which includes some very impressive throat fucking and finger (um, fist) sucking, and Syd Blakovich’s scene with Bobbi Starr which opens the second disc. In fact, the whole second disc features scenes with Syd, so if you’re a fan of her work—and hey why wouldn’t you be? She’s hot and talented and inspiring to watch as a porn performer—I especially recommend this for you.

Glad it’s in my library.

Belladonna’s Strapped Dykes DVD 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.

Friday Reads: Lambda Lit & Publishing Triangle Awards

This week, the Lambda Literary Awards and Publishing Triangle Awards announced their finalists for their 2011 prizes.

I was a judge this year (can I reveal that yet?—I won’t tell you what for until I know for sure) so I’ve been reading reading reading many books in the past few months. I read a lot anyway, but this has been a crunch. It was exciting to have a part in choosing the best ones.

The Lammys award ceremony will be held Thursday, May 26, 2011 at the School of Visual Arts Theater in New York City (333 W. 23rd St), followed by a private after-party nearby. I’ve attended the last two years (and wrote about them both for CarnalNation.com), and I’ll be attending again this year. It’s such a pleasure to show up and be familiar with so many of the books and authors, so many of the presenters and judges, and to feel like I’m really part of the queer literary community.

(And next year, I’ll have my own book out!)

I encourage you to look through these great lists and pick a couple to read, even if you don’t usually read queer stuff, even if you don’t care about the awards, just to show your support. I still have quite a lot more I would love to read, I haven’t read any of the poetry this year, and there are many that I haven’t Here’s a couple of my favorites—out of the ones that I’ve read, anyway—that I highly recommend.

  
  

Two of the nominees even include my stories: Best Lesbian Erotica 2011 and Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica.

Some Spring Cleaning

I’m trying to do some morning pages every day, and sometimes those turn into blog posts, so you might be noticing that there’s been more password protected posts than usual. They are personal writings, usually about my relationship or about my personal psychology.

You can have access to the password protected posts if you want to read them. Just join the mailing list, and when you confirm your subscription you should get sent the password automatically. I usually send out a newsletter once a month that includes updates to what I’ve been doing and the upcoming events for the next month or so. (Sometimes it’s not as often as monthly. I try, though.)

In fact, the newsletter should go out next week. So even if you don’t care about the password, you can still sign up for it and receive updates from me once a month or so.

This is a kind of old theme that I’m using, but I love how simple it is. I’ve always meant to do some upgrades to the comment structure but haven’t gotten around to it. I finally separated out the trackbacks and pingbacks from the actual comments, you can see that in a post like My Slutty Little Girl if you want to check it out.

I also opened comments on old posts again, so if there are older writings you’d like to comment on, please do. This fixed the issue of the sidebar (did you notice that? It would be down below the main body instead of at the side on the old posts).

I still want to update this theme such that I can have nested or threaded comments, but I messed around with it this morning and I couldn’t seem to make it work. If you are a WordPress coder and are interested in helping me with this, I do have a little bit of money I could throw your way, and I’d really appreciate it.

Someone commented recently that they didn’t know there were new posts because I’ve left the What’s Happening in March calendar post at the top of the blog this month—I did that in February too. Does this matter to y’all? Do you notice? Is it helpful to have the updated schedule there all the time? Or is it in the way? I’m not sure it’s doing what I want it to do. Maybe it’d be best to have this in the sidebar, but I haven’t figured out how to automate that yet.

If you’ve got any other suggestions for how I can improve the site, I’d be glad to hear ’em. Leave them in the comments.

On Running Away and Boundaries

Just one more thing, then I’ve got to get focused on some other work today.

Hugo Schwyzer has a post up today called Why Men Run When They Lack the Words to Stay, and it resonated with me with some of the recent complications in my relationship with Kristen and with my emotional landscape history in general.

Give it a quick read, then come back and read my comments on it, which I’ll try to keep to a few.

For the record, Schwyzer divides this into men and women, and generally I think what he’s saying is true, but it may not be true for individuals, and it may not be neatly applicable to a butch/femme relationship—meaning the butch might not have the same experience as the man, in this scenario. And there are parts that he describes that apply to me, parts that apply to Kristen, parts that apply to neither of us. Still, I think it’s relevant in examining some of the over-arching things we get taught that run along the gender divides, and interesting to think about these dynamics in any relationship, regardless of gender.

I have certainly “submarined” a lot in my past. I think that mostly comes from having a history of abuse, though, not a history of me not being able to articulate my emotions and being overwhelmed by my partner’s, though there is a piece of that too. And even though I am a poet, and highly emotional, I haven’t always been able to verbalize what was going on for me, especially not in the moment it was happening. I’ve been working on that a lot in recent years.

I also really like the breakdown of iron vs copper, of using those words to talk about certain styles of boundaries (or lack thereof). Though I’ve done a lot of work on this too recently, I do tend to get overwhelmed by my surroundings, and sometimes I cope with that by running away or shutting down. And Kristen has some aspects of being copper too, especially in taking things personally. It’s interesting to think about those tendencies as a boundary issue.

I do take issue with Schwyzer’s work on occasion, especially around men, masculinity, and pornography, but I find much of his work fantastic and I encourage you to subscribe to and read his blog if you don’t already. Lots of food for thought.

What does ‘Genderqueer’ mean?

On Gina Mamone’s mini-interview, a commenter named MS wrote: “Can you post a definition of or primer on what gender queer means?Kyle Jones was kind enough to comment in reply and explain a bit, and I proceeded to ask him to write up his own primer on genderqueer. Here it is.

This is a guest post from Kyle Jones, Butchtastic.net

Genderqueer people, by definition, are united by their rejection of the notion that there are only two genders.

Beyond their rejection of the gender binary as the sole way to describe gender, there is much diversity within the group of people who call themselves ‘genderqueer’—it’s a catch-all term that includes sometimes contradictory identifications.  For example, some genderqueers identify as neither male nor female, some as both male and female.  Some see ‘genderqueer’ as a gender in and of itself, some may identify this way because they feel they are beyond gender—genderless or a-gender.

I led a discussion on genderqueer identity at Butch Voices Portland 2010 and almost everyone who attended came to this identity from a different place.  There were those who described a fluidity of gender, a sense that they were a mixture of male and female.  Some people wanted to move beyond the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ entirely.  They didn’t see genderqueer as being a region along the gender binary axis, instead many described it as independent of that spectrum.   Based on the diversity of personal definitions expressed in that session, we started to talk about a gender cloud rather than a gender spectrum.  Because ‘genderqueer’ is an umbrella term, to really know how an individual relates to it, you’ll need to know their personal definition of genderqueer.

The term “genderqueer” can also be used as an adjective to refer to any people who transgress gender, regardless of their self-defined gender identity.  And some genderqueer individuals also identify as transgender, because their gender identity does not completely correspond to their physical sex.  Genderqueers may have any sexuality/sexual identity, any physical sex.  There is also diversity in the way genderqueers relate to pronouns.  Some prefer gender neutral pronouns such as ‘they’ or ‘them’ or the alternate forms “ze,” “per,” “sie” and “hir,” “zhe,” “hir.”  And some prefer to stay with traditional male and female pronouns, though they may use them in less traditional ways.  Other terms similar to genderqueer are genderfluid, gender-variant, bi-gender, third gender, two-spirit and gender non-conforming.

If you find all of this a bit confusing, you’re not alone.  When I come out to people as genderqueer, I’m more surprised to find people who are familiar with the term than those who aren’t.  And when I’m asked to define genderqueer, as I was for this article, I find it challenging, especially with people who aren’t comfortable or experienced in considering gender beyond male and female.  In my experience, most of the world is still not ready to go beyond the gender binary.  It takes a lot of work and effort to learn the new vocabulary and open your mind to alternative ways of seeing gender.  One challenge I still have is trying to get my head around the idea of being ‘genderless’.  I know that much of the way my brain has organized information about the world is still ruled by the existence of distinct genders.

As I mentioned, I identify as genderqueer.  Butch describes my appearance, genderqueer describes my gender and queer describes my sexuality.  My personal genderqueer definition is that I am not male or female, I am male and female.  I have two distinct gender identities, each with a name, a set of pronouns and sexual preferences.  Sometimes the distinction is obvious and sometimes more fluid and combined. One visualization I use is that of a tree with two trunks, each coming from the same root structure and base.  My male and female identities have some shared history as well as some that is separate.  As I visualize my ‘tree trunks’, they start together, then grow apart, come close again, intertwine and grow together, then diverge again as you look up the tree.  My male side has a distinct personality, accent, sexual drive and issues.  It has also been suppressed more, being less accepted by the outside world and, as a result, is the less developed and mature of my two identities.  My female side, having had more time at the forefront, takes the lead in most situations, although my goal is to become more balanced.

You may be thinking, this person has multiple personality disorder.  Though I’m not a professional, I know that’s not the case.  I have multiple genders, which means I also identify as transgender, because the male side of me does not match my female body.  I’ve had some awesome and unexpected experiences lately where strangers have seen my male side.  It’s hard to describe the feeling of being recognized and acknowledged as male—something like a rush of adrenaline combined with a strong sexual charge—a big ol’ ego boner.

This is a frustration I share with other genderqueer and transgender people—the feeling of being partially invisible, of spending most of my days being partially unseen.  I think we all share a common need to be seen and celebrated for who we truly are, and not just the easily understood fragments, but all our wonderful complexity.

This article is meant to be a starting point for people new to the term ‘genderqueer’, but it’s by no means the last word.  If you’d like to learn more about variant gender identities, here are some excellent starting places:

Kyle Jones runs Butchtastic.net and was interviewed on Butch Lab earlier this year.

The Next Porn Party: Artcore (for Free!) on March 23rd

The next Porn Party on Twitter will be March 23rd, 6pm PST / 9pm EST, and we’ll be watching Artcore through Hot Movies For Her.

This time, though, the Porn Party is extra special: Viewing Artcore during the Porn Party will be totally free. You don’t have to buy it or download it or purchase VOD minutes to watch it with us. You will need a HotMoviesForHer.com account, but we’ll have a special code that will enable you to watch this film during the party. More on that will be announced as soon as I have the details!

So all you have to do is:
1. Make a HotMoviesForHer.com account
2. Tune in on March 23rd at 6pm PST, 9pm EST with the code
3. Enjoy the film!
4. Bonus if you follow & contribute to the Twitter discussion with the hashtag #pornparty

I’m excited about this film, there are quite a few people in it that I’ve never seen in porn before, and a few I do recognize, like Courtney Trouble. She posted some notes on the filming including what it was like to be there and what they did. Check out some photos from the film on fattyd.com, where I also read that there’s an official release party 3/26/11 in LA.

And, to top it all off, Artcore is one of the 2011 Feminist Porn Award nominees! I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch all of them, but I’m going to try. Right now I count 18 that I’ve either seen or want to see, so perhaps I’ll concentrate on that list. There are quite a few I still need to review, too. I’ll get on that one of these days.

Meanwhile, hope you’ll join me for the next porn party. Here’s the official trailer and description to whet your palette further:

ARTCORE from cbattsfly on Vimeo.

ARTCORE

Director: Carlos Batts
Starring: April Flores, Kelly Shibari, Courtney Trouble, Drew Deveaux & Damali Dares
Approximate Running Time: 01:18

Get ready for the revolution of hardcore. Get ready for Artcore.

The latest erotic adventure from the mind of Carlos Batts, “Artcore” features his beautiful muse, April Flores, and documents a diverse range of sexual interests, from body image and gender identity to fetishes, rubber and role playing.

Playing with the ever evolving interest in sexuality in the media – movie stars playing adult stars, celebrity sex tapes, runway fetish shows and reality television – “Artcore” becomes a sinful digital mix tape blending music, mood and tempo to create a new approach to recording sex.

It’s April as you’ve never seen her before, showing off a mind-blowing display of versatility to match the explosive curves and deadly sex appeal we already know and love.

First she gets kinky with “The Hoodman”, indulging her dominant side with fabulous fetish wear and a high heel-clad foot job. An all-girl threesome with Courtney Trouble, Kelly Shibari, two Hitachis and an N-JOY dildo results in a multi-orgasmic, voluptuous extravaganza. They laugh, they cum and they make you want to cum with them.

Want more? In a bowler hat and drawn-on mustache, April is joined by queer porn heartthrob Drew Deveaux for a steamy gender bending romp. And then the nightcap. Hooking up for an after-hours interracial rendezvous, Damali and April have a lesbian BBW fling for the ages.

Featuring hot and heavy lesbians, dominance and submission and toys (but no boys), “Artcore” is Batts’ most erotic film to date, an aesthetically rewarding and unapologetically explicit homage to his Latin siren and the perfect playground for her fantasies – and yours.


Photo by Courtney Trouble

Follow @mrsexsmith, @fatty_d, @courtneytrouble, @drewdeveaux, @kellyshibari, and @hotmovies4her on Twitter. Thanks to JD over at Hot Movies For Her for helping to make this happen!

Friday Reads: Sub Rosa by Amber Dawn

Written by Amber Dawn, a queer femme (among other signifiers—she says, “when I say “myself” I mean a queer, kinky, femme, survivor, Canadian small-town born, poor, sex-worker, feminist with a strong passion for experimental artwork and transgressive identity-based art making” in this interview with Shameless Magazine), Sub Rosa published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2010 is a masterpiece I couldn’t put down.

It’s creepy and odd and confusing and strange, but touching and smart and beautifully crafted. Oh there were so many sentences that made me stop reading just to sigh at the beauty of their simple and elegant construction.

I read it in two days. It’s kind of hard to describe, since it has a bit of world-building and you just kinda have to dive into it in order to understand it. But that is the style of some of my very favorite books (The Sparrow, The Time Traveler’s Wife)—a book where the reality pretty much follows all the same rules as this one I live in, but there are a few key twists which make it able to better comment on the state of things. I love that.

Arsenal Pulp Press’s description is as follows:

Sub Rosa’s reluctant heroine is known as “Little,” a teenaged runaway unable to remember her real name; in her struggle to get by in the world, she stumbles upon an underground society of ghosts and magicians, missing girls and would-be johns: a place called Sub Rosa. Not long after she is initiated into this family of magical prostitutes, Little is called upon to lead Sub Rosa through a maze of feral darkness, both real and imagined―a calling burdened with grotesque enemies, strange allies, and memories from a foggy past.

So perhaps that will give you an idea. It’s creepy, don’t say I didn’t warn you, but it’s worth it. And Amber Dawn’s style is amazing, I will gladly pick up anything else she writes.

Miriam Zoila Perez: Mini-Interview

Editor at Feministing.com; Founder of Radicaldoula.com. www.miriamzperez.com

1. What is your relationship with the word or id

entity “butch?”

While I think there is a whole crew of people now who are reinventing what it means to be butch, I came up feeling afraid to claim it in case people decided I wasn’t butch “enough.” My butchness isn’t particularly tough, or hard. My masculinity is more akin to queer male masculinity–faggy butch, you might call it.

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

I would identify with the label genderqueer before the label butch, although I like both.

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

I wish I could tell my younger self not to be so self-conscious, not to care so much about other people’s judgments. There is room for all of us inside these labels, and the way we reinvent them is what keeps things interesting.

What’s Happening in March

It’s March! And it’s almost spring! I’m hoping with that will come increasingly easy months of light and play, and less struggle and coldness, which the winter has been full of.

Here’s what’s happening this month.

Events with Mr. Sexsmith

Tuesday, March 8th, 8pmSideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival: Spring Fever with Arianne Benford, Beth Greenfield, Genne Murphy, and LOVE the Poetat The Phoenix, 447 East 13th Street at Avenue A in New York City

Wednesday, March 23rd, 6pm PST / 9pm ESTPorn Party on Twitter featuring Artcore—for free! Click for more detailson Twitter

Saturday, March 22nd, 11am-5pm (1:15pm)Rainbow Book Fair. I will be reading at 1:15 as part of the reading series. Description: “This is the largest LGBT book event in America, and it is free and open to the public. Be a part of the most exciting lgbt book event in the U.S. Join authors, poets, publishers, university presses, and the entire reading and writing community in this diverse spectacular of words, images, and talent. With the Center’s dramatic large 3rd floor exhibition space, additional rooms for panels, poetry readings, and author events, free books and hourly book giveaways, mingling, and meeting authors and readers like yourself.”at The LGBT Center, 208 W 13th St, New York City

I’ll update this if any other events get added. I’m not doing a lot in March, but I have more things in progress and quite a few coming up in April and May. I’m hoping to get to Santa Cruz, California in May, and to Minneapolis, Minnesota in early April, and possibly Seattle in late April. If you are nearby one of these places, it might be possible for me to pop over and do a workshop for you, too. Or if you don’t live nearby, there’s still time to book one of my workshops about sex and gender in the coming year.

I’ve updated my 2011 workshop offerings in a PDF so it is easy to download. I incorporated many of the ideas you all suggested when I asked what workshops you’d like to see me teach, thank you for the feedback! (You can also download my one sheet PDF or high res photos in my press kit). Get in touch if you’re interested in booking me, you can contact me directly—mrsexsmith(at)gmail—or my booking company, PhinLi, at bookings(at)phinli.com.

Other Exciting Community Events


Monday, March 14th, 6:30pmJuxtaposition: A Humorous Happy Hourat Stonewall, New York City

Friday, March 18th, 8pmLesbian Sex Mafia presents: Hands-On Rope Body Harness Workshop with Midori. Body harnesses are fantastic for creating beautiful, effective, and sexy bondage for all types of bodies and many different sorts of scenes. You can use a harness for very secure rigging. Or you can make a pretty rope outfit. Create intense harnesses for pain sluts. How about sensual breast bondage? Well go through at least three different harnesses with plenty of time to practice. LSM member: $5; Non-members $10at The LGBT Center, 208 W 13th St, New York City

That’s it for now; new events will be added as dates are announced. Hope to see you out & about in the queer, trans, and literary world in New York.

What A Lovely Way to Burn: Spring Fever at Sideshow

It isn’t quite spring here yet, but it’s getting close. The light is changing. The snow has been mostly washed away by the recent rains. I’m hoping by next week the light will be even higher in the sky and full-on spring fever will have sprung, just in time for this month’s Sideshow theme.

The sad news is that Fran Varian can’t make it up from Durham this time, but rest assured! She will be here to perform her kickass work another time. Meanwhile, you can learn more about Lyme disease and help heal Fran over at her website, and you can buy some of her books if you were dying to hear her work (and I know you were).

While Fran is a fan of the Peggy Lee version, I am really into Elvis lately, so here’s a little something to get you in the mood …

Join us at Sideshow on March 8th with readers Arianne Benford, Beth Greenfield, Genne Murphy, and LOVE the Poet.

Sideshow: The Queer Literary Carnival – Spring Fever
Hosted by Cheryl B. & Sinclair Sexsmith
Tuesday, March 8th @ The Phoenix
447 East 13th Street @ Avenue A
Doors, 7:30pm. Reading, 8pm
Free! (We’ll pass the hat for the readers)
RSVP on Facebook
See the bios for the readers.

Still Time to Contribute to Symposium #2

Butch Lab’s Symposium #2 is in progress, and I have some great submissions so far! I’m compiling them this week, so if you can get them to me by Friday you will still be included. I hope you’ll consider contributing!

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?

The easiest way to get your post URL to me is by filling out this form on ButchLab.com. You can always email butchlabproject (at) gmail.com if you have problems, but the form is preferable.