Archive for February, 2013

Review: Leather Ever After edited by Sassafras Lowrey (book)

February 27, 2013  |  reviews  |  No Comments

leather-ever-aftercover1I’m back in Texas, visiting Rife, and we have had a great time reading Leather Ever After aloud to each other in the hammock.

Once upon a time, in a dungeon far, far away the kinkiest writers in the land were summoned to pervert beloved fairy tales with tales of dominance, submission, bondage and surrender. In these stories twisted princesses take control of submissive princes, witches play with power and fairy tales come to life in our homes and dungeons …

In Leather Ever After, celebrated queer author Sassafras Lowrey brings together some of the most beloved leather writers in an enchanting collection published by Ravenous Romance with a foreword by Laura Antoniou! Leather Ever After is Learn more about about Leather Ever After at LeatherEverAfter.wordpress.com and to get more information about Sassafras and hir work visit www.SassafrasLowrey.com.

It’s a star-packed anthology: the forward was written by Laura Antoniou (if you haven’t read The Marketplace series, I highly recommend them!), and also features stories by Lee Harrington, Miel Rose, DL King, Ali Oh, Raven Kaldera, Sossity Chiricuzio, Mollena Williams, and of course the anthology’s editor.

My favorites have been the ones set with modern language—Lee Harrington’s piece was unexpected and fantastic. I won’t ruin it by telling you which story it is, there’s kind of a slow reveal toward the end as the clues start adding up, but I loved the leather twist on it. It’s been much fun to read and discuss and get turned on and talk about fantasy and fairy tales.

Pick up Leather Ever After on Amazon or order it from your local awesome bookstore.

Opportunities with the BUTCH Voices Media Team

February 27, 2013  |  essays, on butches  |  No Comments

In addition to teaching workshops and traveling everywhere, one of my other major jobs recently has been working as the Media Chair on the board of BUTCH Voices, gearing up for the 2013 national conference. It’s starting to pick up—we’ve got a lot of stuff going on, and there will just be more between here & the conference.

Most notably, the BUTCH Voices website has a facelift!

Doesn’t it look great? I wish I’d taken a full-screen screenshot of the old website, it looks so different. I’m now the web editor there, and still looking for folks to work with me on the Media Team. I’m really excited about the conference and this is a unique opportunity to work behind the scenes to make it happen, and gain some experience and expertise in the web and media fields.

Media Team (Reports to the Media Chair)

Benefits include: cultivating butch community, discounted entrance into the BUTCH Voices 2013 National Conference in August, service to your community, volunteer time, media experience of all kinds (social media, web content management, print media), working directly with Sinclair, and more!

You should be: masculine of center identified, trans-positive, coming from an anti-oppression framework; have some time to volunteer, self-motivated, able to work on tight deadlines, have a reliable computer & internet access where you can stay in touch at least on a weekly basis.

Tasks include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Responsible for completing tasks relating to the website, social media (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc), newsletter
  • Design components for print and web using BUTCH Voices branding standard colors, fonts, and logos
  • Respond promptly and keep in contact
  • Available for last-minute tasks and able to complete assignments within 24-48 hours
  • Timely and efficient, hard working, able to take direction and ask for clarification, able to work in a team environment digitally from a home office
  • Reliable internet access, computer access; some HTML skills, WordPress, CMS, text editing, Photoshop, and graphic design skills are a plus
  • Keen eye for detail

Interested? Contact me, [email protected], with your resume and a few brief paragraphs about why you’d like the job and what you can offer. I’m excited to get this team going, to practice my management skills, and to make the BUTCH Voices 2013 conference excellent.

Protected: Back on the Path

February 24, 2013  |  journal entries  |  Enter your password to view comments.

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

So I’m still doing that crazy traveling thing …

February 13, 2013  |  miscellany  |  1 Comment

… and I have just arrived for a week in Washington, DC, with a little side trip to Virginia.

I’m especially looking forward to being at Dark Odyssey Winter Fire! While I’m teaching four classes in two days (gulp), it’s also incredibly fun, with lots of folks I’m looking forward to seeing, and lots of fascinating workshops for kinky skills that I don’t yet have.

Here’s where I’ll be stopping:

In March, I’ll be visiting New College in Sarasota, UW Madison in Wisconsin, Oh My! toy shop in Northampton, and the CSPC in Pawtucket, RI. I’m still interested in doing workshops around those venues and dates—if you live somewhere near those places and want to bring me to do something, let me know!

My complete schedule is always updated on mrsexsmith.com/appearances.

Hey Seattle! Beauty and the BUTCH April 27, a BUTCH Voices Benefit

February 11, 2013  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

Please forward widely!

Announcing … Beauty and the BUTCH: A 2013 BUTCH Voices Benefit

seattle

BUTCH Voices in conjunction with Lily Divine Productions and the Center for Sex Positive Culture invites you to indulge in an evening of deliciously BUTCH revelry, hot performances and choose-your-own play party adventures.

Saturday, April 27, 2013
7pm – doors open – socializing, raffle ticket sales, negotiations for later adventures
8pm – Lily Divine Productions presents a thrilling show of tantalizing teases from queers of all genders!
9:30/10pm til 2am – BUTCH Voices and the Center for Sex Positive Culture present one amazing queer play party

Get your tickets in advance at http://beautyandthebutchseattle.eventbrite.com/
Price for admission is $25. We will be offering a discount to attendees of LDP/Debauchery at $20.

At the Center for Sex Positive Culture (Main Space)
1602 15th Ave. W.
Seattle, WA 98119

Open call for raffle items and date auction candidates – send information to [email protected]

Details about the play party from the CSPC:

Want to have sex? Want to do bondage? Want to hang out and socialize? Want to spank or beat on someone? Want to poke someone with needles? Come on in and have some fun and support a good cause! Dungeon equipment as well as all of the side rooms and the back room will be open for play. Be forewarned, depending on play styles of attendees, it may be loud.

There will be a Men’s-only event in the adjacent Annex & Raw spaces, but the Main Space will be open to queers of all genders and orientations. If it is allowed here at the CSPC, it is allowed at this party!

All proceeds from this Benefit will support the 2013 BUTCH Voices Conference (taking place August 15-18, 2013 in Oakland).

More information about BUTCH Voices: www.BUTCHVoices.com
More information about Lily Divine Productions: www.lilydivine.com

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Aida: Exercise the Love Muscle

February 7, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

Aida Manduley, www.smutandsensibility.com, @neuronbomb

1. What insight about polyamory/open relationships would you share with your younger self?

Don’t assume that because someone you are dating is poly and one of their partners gets tested regularly, that your partner in common ALSO gets tested (or is STI-free for that matter). Do not make ANY assumptions about people’s sexual health; bring it up! If someone doesn’t want to talk about that with you, run far away! And if it’s you that feels nervous because you’re a n00b and you don’t know what poly etiquette is because you’re not the primary/spouse/etc., BRING IT UP ANYWAY. This will help you take care of yourself and your future partners PLUS it will show that you are a mature, responsible individual. In a relationship, unless explicitly negotiated otherwise or something, you can and should ask questions (albeit respectfully).

Even if boundaries make sense, make sure to ask and/or be explicit about the reasoning behind them, so when someone makes decisions on the spot and needs an educated guess to proceed, they have all the information they need.

Also, remember that poly is something you need to work on and think about even when you’re not “actively” pursuing/seeing other people. Think of it as exercising the love muscle.

2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating multiple relationships, and how have you overcome that?

When it’s me juggling multiple partners, it has come down to time-management and making everyone feel valuable while not being able to give everyone equal time. My calendar is busy as is, and when trying to stick in multiple romantic/sexual relationships, it can get pretty wild. The only way it works is because I have BusyCal/iCal/GoogleCal and I’m not afraid to use it.

When it’s a primary partner expanding their relationships, it has been confronting seemingly irrational, sudden feelings of sadness and jealousy. This actually happened recently, when my long-term primary partner began to explore outside our relationship after a long time of not doing so. I felt this intense possessiveness and it was deeply uncomfortable for everyone involved. It’s easy for me to say “heck yeah!” to partners dating others when I LIKE and know the people they’re dating, but when it’s a random person I’ve never met or someone I don’t particularly like? I get uneasy and nervous about it. The reasons could be different depending on the relationship, but in this case, it wasn’t a fear of being abandoned or replaced or anything … it was a fear that the “outsider” wasn’t good enough; it was about not wanting to feel out of control, like the outside stuff would progress regardless of how I felt about it; and it was the discomfort with having to “share” my partner with someone I didn’t necessarily like when I ALREADY was only able to see them one or two days a week.

I consider myself a level-headed and logical person capable of compersion, so in the instances when I reacted very negatively or surprisingly, it really shook me. I have high standards for myself in every way, and not being able to be the partner I want to be (or that my partners deserve) is upsetting. Add that guilt/feelings of temporary weakness/failure to the feelings of jealousy/sadness over whatever the situation is and it’s a pretty shitty situation. The way I’ve dealt with it has been to WRITE MY HEART OUT; have lots of honest, open, and difficult conversations; and cry. Part of it has also been re-reading things I’ve written about polyamory in the past, revisiting blogs I consulted when I was first getting into this, talking to other people going through some rough times, and just immersing myself in the issue instead of trying to avoid it. It’s also been about trusting my partner.

Speaking in general, though, part of it has been unlearning some of the more ingrained ideas about what love, commitment, and relationships are “supposed” to be like. There was a LOT of unlearning and deconstructing when I embarked in my first relationship with a poly (and married) man, but I still find myself unlearning things to this day–things I didn’t even realize were part of those “packaged” notions. I’ve found it’s also about being able to come to terms with those things I DO want and feeling no (or little!) shame about them, since there are ideas floating around about what “perfect poly” is like and how “evolved” some models are, and there’s pressure to conform to those ideals.

3. What has been the best thing about being open/poly?

Aside from the obvious “being able to let relationships take their own individual courses without having to fit into a perfect mold” and “fulfilling more needs in multiple places,” I think another super cool piece of it is being able to feel New Relationship Energy and those exciting sparky feelings of flirting with (and/or crushing on) people many times throughout my life (while still maintaing steady relationships). Furthermore, being able to share that with another partner (whether it’s because I’m feeling NRE or they are for someone else that we both like) is fantastic.

Also? It was AWESOME having a loving support system (in the form of my primary partner) when I went through a rough breakup. Having him around as I grieved/dealt with the debacle of that other relationship and its roller-coaster ride helped immensely. It was nice to know someone still loved and supported me in that situation! In fact, my partner even helped me process and think through a lot of what happened, giving me perspective and reassurance when my morale was low.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

Read up on the Love Languages. Figure out what your style is, and think about what ways you like to communicate. Make sure your partners are aware of their own style, and that you all communicate about this.

Finally, it’s okay to want a label for yourself and your relationships. So much focus gets placed on exploding binaries and breaking categories down that sometimes we forget how labels can be HELPFUL and comforting, how they can help people carve a space for others in their lives and vice-versa. The trick is to figure out what those labels actually MEAN on your own terms and to be intentional about those definitions.

Outside the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic in Philadelphia March 1-3

February 4, 2013  |  miscellany  |  1 Comment

boxesI’ve been working with The Body Electric School since 2000, since I was just barely out and hadn’t even slept with a girl yet, since the year after I left my high school boyfriend of six years right before I had an abortion and decided that was how certain I had to be in order to become the me I was meeting in dreams.

Body Electric changed and formed and forged my adult sense of both sexuality and spirituality. It has interwoven the two of those things, my callings and my desires, my body and my understanding of god, such that I can almost not untangle them anymore—my sexual explorations are a way to deepen my spirituality and sense of energy and self on the planet, my love of and relationship with the planet is a way to fuel my relationships with and energetic exchanges with (read: fuckfests) other people.

Since I got involved almost thirteen years ago, the work has been divided into “men’s workshops,” “women’s workshops,” and “men and women’s workshops.” But the teachers that I’ve been learning from and am coming up under—Alex Jade and Lizz Randall, namely, who are both queer and genderqueer, Alex being on the dandy masculine side of things and Lizz being a femme—along with my friend and butt buddy (long story) Amy Butcher, the coordinator in San Francisco, and I have all decided that we want to bust open the binary gender system within BE, create more room for trans and genderqueer folks to be able to be included in this work, and to start doing more work with those populations.

And voila, the Outside the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic workshop was born.

It is based on the Celebrating the Body Erotic (CBE) workshop model, which is a finely honed workshop that builds on itself from very gentle interaction on Friday night to an intense community experience on Sunday afternoon. It is a clothing-optional workshop where some erotic touch is invited and possible. Everything is done with deep consent, with lots of checking in with one’s self and lots of trust that the others in the workshop are doing that too, and the work is deeply trauma-informed, meaning that we know and expect that we hold a lot of trauma in our bodies, and when we are working specifically on our bodies and our genitals and our relationship with them, we know many things come up. Feelings of shame, fear, being threatened, memories. Lots of things that we may have the ability to actually bring up in a safe enough container that we can let it go. That, to me, is part of the essence of the healing.

But, the integration of new gender policies into the larger Body Electric School has been very hard. The organization is majority run by gay men and serves gay men, probably 80% of the workshops are men’s workshops, and yes, that pretty much means cis men.

We are trying to change this.

The women’s teams have made the decisions to go forward with the women’s workshops as including ALL WOMEN, all trans women regardless of body or surgery or whatever, and all people born female who can bring our female or women-identified parts into the circle. There will be an ALL MEN’s workshop coming soon, hypothetically, that BE is working on. And as we are offering more “mixed gender” workshops, like the Power, Surrender, and Intimacy workshop I’m doing in New York this fall, we are making it “all genders” instead of “mixed,” and inviting anyone with a body to come.

And of course, there’s the Outside the Boxes workshop. It (or another CBE or equivalent) is a prerequisite for any of the more advanced or intermediate workshops. It gives an amazing introduction to how this work is done and what we do with it. It teaches all sorts of basic tools, like consent and breath, and encourages deep embodiment.

I am so in love with this work. I have been working so, so hard to bring this work to my people—you genderqueer trans queer genderfluid gendernonconforming folks whom I adore and whom I am dying to be in erotic circles with. Please come. There are still spaces available in this workshop, though we are going to cap it at 24 to keep it a manageable and good size. Please come. I know it’s expensive, but it is worth every dollar and probably more, and we made it a sliding scale so that we can get as many people there as possible. Please come. Prove to the Body Electric School that this work is worth it, is lucrative, is needed in the world, and is received when we offer it. Please come.

Dear universe, please send a full, abundant, explorative group of people to explore this work in Philadelphia in March. I cannot wait to meet them all. I want more colleagues on this path, and I want more playmates, and I want more support as I pursue this work. I believe so deeply in the power of this to heal us, and I know that my people need this healing as much or more than anybody. It is my calling. I know it’s important in the world. Please send abundance. Love, Sinclair.

Are you buzzing? Are you intrigued? Get in touch with me, even if you aren’t sure if you’ll do it or not. I can tell you more about it. I want to give it to you, want to give you this gift of this work. Are you feeling called? Listen to that place beyond the “oh I can’t make that happen logistics logistics” “ugh it’s too expensive” “I don’t know I’m so scared!” chatter, and see if it’s time.

Here’s the details on the workshop. Please share this widely with friends and folks you might know near Philadelphia!

Facebook event

Qcbe postcard 2013 rev

Your gender. Your body. Your energy. Your beautiful self. How often has the world tried to force you into the gender binary, asked you to assure it that your pronouns matched what it saw rather than what you felt, required that your genitals conform to expectations, demanded that you deny the complexity of all that is you?

What if you could come into a community in which all expressions were possible? Where gender, sexuality and expression were aligned according to your truth? Where no one assumed what parts would go where? Welcome to Out of the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic!

Come explore your erotic potential through the mind, the body and the heart using conscious breath, movement, process work and massage. Awaken the erotic energy that lies within all of us. Through a queer tantra lens, explore archetypal masculine and feminine energies and the myriad ways they can be expressed. Break down silos of gender and sexuality.

This workshop focuses on the entire body and is conducted in a container that is playful, safe and reverential. Using carefully designed experiential embodiment practices participants will:

  • explore the innate wisdom of your body
  • expand awareness, sensation and pleasure through conscious breath, movement, touch, and communication, where each person’s choices and rhythms are honored
  • learn how to more deeply tune in to your body, mind, heart and spirit
  • to receive more fully from yourself and others, and to give without losing yourself
    learn to give and receive full-body massage and to focus on the healing potential of sensual/spiritual energy
  • learn from your own and others’ unfolding, and feel awed witnessing and supporting our uniqueness and commonalities

Out of the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic is a 2 1/2 day workshop (Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday), often clothing-optional, for those who are ready to vigorously explore new levels of feeling and aliveness, both within themselves and within a community of queers. Space is limited, so please register early.

NOTE: Couples are welcome to attend Out of the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic and have the option of working together or with the other participants.

WORKSHOP FEE: $250-495. This workshop offers a sliding scale fee dependent upon personal financial circumstances. We believe the work is important and those who need it be considered. Please contact the Coordinator to discuss.

March 1-3, Philadelphia, PA: contact Sinclair Sexsmith, [email protected]
October 11-13, Oakland, CA: contact Amy Butcher, [email protected]

Register on the Body Electric website.

“Twice the Pleasure: Bisexual Erotica” Has My Butch-on-Fag Story “Right Red Flagging”

February 4, 2013  |  miscellany  |  3 Comments

twiceSo I don’t usually write “bisexual erotica.” I don’t see my erotica as girl-on-girl or exploratory times with women, my characters are usually anything other than straight-up gay.

So when I saw this call for erotica submissions from Rachel Kramer Bussel, I wondered what it would look like for me to write some bisexual erotica. What would that mean for my main character/narrator voice, for “Sinclair”? What would I write about? Where would my edge be?

I talked it over with rife, months ago, and he had a great idea of a butch who picks up a fag at a fag bar and proceeded to have a one night stand. I wrote it up, and Rachel included it in her new book, Twice the Pleasure: Women’s Bisexual Erotica! It seems like a kind of unlikely place for a butch/fag pickup story, but hey, maybe someone will stumble on that one-of-these-stories-is-not-like-the-other kind of piece and discover something new about themselves, in one way or another.

Twice the Pleasure comes out in April, but you can preorder it now! Rachel is doing a buy-one-get-one book sale for the book, so you can buy this one and get any other book of hers in addition. Here’s an excerpt from my story.

      Right Red Flagging

      Tonight, I see him as soon as I enter the room, eyes adjusting to the dankness that still feels full of cigarette smoke, even though it’s no longer legal to smoke indoors, and he sees me. He’s at the bar sucking on a long neck beer, wearing a snap down worn through cowboy shirt and jeans, and we make eye contact. In gay boy world, that means we may as well have been dating for three years and have just walked into the hotel room after our prom. I order a beer, too, and wait at the curve of the bar.

      He watches me while not looking like he’s watching me. I notice a red hanky in his back right pocket and as he brings the beer up to his mouth for the last swig, I slip off my bar stool and make my way toward the back hallway, the bathrooms, and the door to the back patio. I lean against the wall in a dark patch of the path, thumbs hooked into my belt loops. He follows a moment later, sauntering slowly into the hall and stops, seeing me.

      “Hi,” I say. He grins, a crooked half-smirk that darkens his already deep set eyes. He’s more plump than muscle but still has a good shape, firm and solid.

      “Hi,” he says.

      “So,” I say. He waits. I curl my finger without moving my hand from my hip, and he takes a few steps toward me. I can’t tell who he thinks I am or what he thinks I expect, but he seems willing to find out. When he is just a foot or two from me, and I can smell his sweat and make out the stubble on his chin, I reach out for his upper arm and grip it. “Are you going to kiss me, or what?”

    This book has a lot of other great contributors, whose stories I regularly enjoy, like Lori Selke, Giselle Renarde, and Shanna Germain. I haven’t read it yet, but I suspect it’s a great collection, and I’m looking forward to reading the whole thing.

    Open Relationship Mini Interview with Sassafras Lowrey: “I live the queer life I’ve always dreamed of”

    February 1, 2013  |  essays  |  No Comments

    Sinclair’s note: This concludes the open relationship mini interview series! I’m debating if I should do more of these mini-interviews, and I might. I’m thinking one about breakups or transitioning relationships, one about healing, one about long term relationships, one about D/s and protocol … Alright so I’ve got plenty of ideas.

    Sassafras Lowrey, pomofreakshow.com

    Note: I personally use the term “poly” to talk about my relationship(s) not “open.” Additionally possibly useful information – I’ve been in a primary partnership with my partner for coming up on 9 years. Our relationship has always been poly. I came out into a community where poly relationships were very much the norm. Every “serious” relationship I’ve ever been in has involved 24/7 D/s, and my partner and I were already very poly experienced when we got together.

    1. What insight about open relationships would you share with your younger self?

    I think the biggest piece of advice I could ever give my younger self would be to spend less time worrying about what other people think, or trying to create what I thought I should want, as apposed to what actually felt good to me. What I mean here is I have at times felt pressure to enact being poly in certain ways (dating, sex etc.) because of queer cultural pressures that normalized or privileged certain kinds of interactions or relationship dynamics when the reality is I’ve never been happier or felt more fulfilled than I have in my D/s leather focused relationships which is at this time as a general rule non-sexual.

    2. What has been the hardest thing about navigating your open relationships, and how have you overcome that?

    I suppose I’ve already talked about this a little bit above. I think the biggest challenge for me has actually had very little to do with my relationship(s) and everything to do with the queer culture relationship norms that I found privileged sex, and specific dating focused types of romantic connection. I consider myself Leather oriented as apposed to sexually oriented. My primary partner/Daddy and I have been together for nearly 9 years. Ze has a wonderful girlfriend (a “good egg” I call her) and they have been together for upcoming 2 years. Previously ze has dated other people, and I have been involved with others as well. My partner and I live in a 24/7 Daddy/boy D/s dynamic and are (at this point and for quite some time) happily non-sexual with one another – a fact which shocks/horrifies/confuses many queer folk.

    On top of that, I have a complicated relationship to sex/dating/relationships. As a general rule I am fairly uninterested in that type of connection to other people though I have dated and/or hooked up with folks in the past. Generally I find it particularly rewarding to date the books that I am writing, and very intimate though entirely non-sexual relationships with my leather/queer family.

    3. What has been the best thing about your open relationships?

    One of the best things about being poly and having non-normative relationship structures has been the ability to live the kind of queer life I’ve always dreamed of. We create the rules for our life, building the kind of relationship(s) that are fulfilling and engaging for us, knowing that for each person that will take a different form. My partner and I are better together as a couple/family because of the connection we have to others in our lives – for my partner that looks like romantic “grown-up” relationships, and for me that primarily looks like the way I engage with my queer/leather family. Because we are poly and don’t expect the other to meet all of our needs be they emotional/intellectual/creative/sexual/etc. We are able to hone and focus our relationship on what is best about who we are to each other. In our case, that means that we create a beautiful home together sharing the ups and downs of daily life, we support one another creatively, and at the core of our relationship is the playful, whimsical magic of our Daddy/boy dynamic.