Giveaway! Want a membership for Indie Porn Revolution? Of course you do.

I’ve already waxed poetic about the amazingness that is Indie Porn Revolution, so I won’t keep going into that here. So I’ll just put this here …

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I know, it’s hard for me not to curate images that reflect my personal bias. I suppose I could’ve just taken ten images at random from the “Free Tour” page? But I wanted to look through ’em all and pick some of my very favorites for you. FOR YOU, you guyz. I looked at dozens and dozens of fucking hot sexy queer porn shots ALL FOR YOU.

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Femmes, cocks, cleavage, tattoos, really nice legs, curves, more femmes, lingerie. I’m so predictable.

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I really did try to grab a variety!

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What I DO have is TWO Indie Porn Revolution trial memberships to give away. So riddle me this, folks, and I’ll be drawing two of you who at random and passing on your info to the inimitable Courtney Trouble so she can set you up an account.

To enter:

I’m trying out a new experiment and using Rafflecopter to run this giveaway. You can enter one (or all!) of four ways.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Drawing will happen first thing Monday morning, April 28th, so you’ve got the weekend to tweet and share and look at the free preview images over and over again. Thanks Courtney & Indie Porn Revolution!

Happy Birthday, rife!

It’s rife’s 27th birthday today!

So far, we have stayed in bed late, toured the chalk art birthday greetings that I drew all over our sidewalks last night, had an epic “hash brown heaven” breakfast, looked over the composite astrological chart I had done (basically the astrological chart for our relationship) done by a queer dominant (so it includes a bunch of fascinating stuff about our power dynamic!), opened a few gifts, and returned home to do some work before we head down to the opening queer happy hour for International Ms. Leather weekend kink event & contest tonight.

Would you you wish him happy birthday over on twitter (he’s @rowdyferret) or here in this post for me? Mostly because I want him to know how deeply loved he is.

And, if you’re starting to get a little crush on this hot piece of ass, here’s a present for you: a little rife collage of some of my favorite photos of him from the past few years. Some are shots I’ve taken, some he took (with a timer).

Collage

There are so many different cities on this little collage … I see Oakland, Baltimore, Hudson Valley, NY, DC, LA, Houston, Seattle, Oregon, and Brooklyn at least. It definitely accurately reflects how much adventuring we’ve had even in the short two and a half years we’ve been together.

And, it reflects how damn sexy that boy is. Fuck. I feel really lucky to have him, that he chose me, that we are a good match.

If you’d like to do something else sweet for the birthday boy, go check out The GENDER Book’s store and buy some goodies! The ebook is a sliding scale of $0+, the hardback is $30, the posters are $12+, the GENDER Booklets are DIY free or $4 printed, the Safe(r) Spaces kit with resources and posters and etc are $0+. There must be somethin’ over there of interest! Check it out, & support his project and labor of love.

Oh yeah and also: The GENDER Book Release Parties!

If you’re in the Bay Area, there’s a book release party/shower on Sunday, May 4th, and if you’re near Houston, there’s another big release party on Thursday, May 15th. Perhaps you’d like to go pick up your book in person?

Happy birthday, beautiful special boy. I love you so much.

Treehouse Poem

soundtrack for this poem

Once upon a time there was a boy who lived in sunny states like California and Texas and his beating heart of leather and gold, so big he had to be a lover with dimples and a dog. He liked berries heavy and ripe on the vine in the spring, bursting juice in his mouth. He liked to remember the shape of faces, hands, with his pen. He liked to feel the edges of his body thrown up against something solid.

Meanwhile, there was a poet who lived in northern states of Alaska and New York and their pine treehouse of aching fists. They were bursting open with gift and overspilling with a fountain of voice. They liked bergamot and the boy’s skin and tall mountains and sandwiches and smooth flat beach stones and getting fucked by the planet.

Their gravity together is undeniable. They make fingerpaintings of their inner visions on each other’s insoles, on each other’s tongues. They try on their places, their callings, in the haven of hotel room walls. Their pulses become synched.

On days in the north like this where the birds are flocking and the sky is clear, on days where the boy’s car is clean and ready for the yellow dotted line and return, there is little more than a single pane of glass between them. An arbitrary distance of separation, because the moonbeam pulled like taffy stretched between their chests keeps them imperceptibly drawn to the other’s orbital motion. The string between them keeps them ready to snap like rubber bands, ready to pounce like predators, ready to take their leather and gold hearts and suspend them on a chain to hang from the ceiling of their treehouse. They pull the ladder up and take it apart to use the rope, but put it back together anytime they needed kale or whiskey or tacos. Their bed is scraps of paper and scattered recordings of bliss and scars.

Happily ever after is many, many moments, strung together in lines of text and pressed leaves and sketches, and worn like a crown.

Ask Mr. Sexsmith: I struggle with my feminist beliefs and my bedroom preferences … help!

Dear Mr. Sexsmith,

I am a strong, opinionated, sometimes bossy, lesbian. I have a huge passion for the empowerment, education and advocacy of women. I volunteer as a sexual assault advocate and have been involved as a Planned Parenthood educator. I am very vocal about breaking the cycle of female oppression in our culture.

I feel a personal conflict, as I also identify as femme and am very much a bottom in the bedroom. I like to be dominated and controlled in sexual play and I very much get off on fantasies that boarder on roughness and non-consent. I guess my struggle lies in the dichotomy between my feminist beliefs and my bedroom preferences. I do not consider myself to be a weak or oppressed female, but in the bedroom I love to be controlled, punished and made to serve. Is there a way for the two to be harmonious? I fight for women to have power and to stand up for themselves. Can you help me sort this out?

Tara

I hear you.

I too have come up within the lesbian feminist movements (and in their wakes) with a strong passion for smashing the patriarchy and a vehement dedication to working on less pain for the various gender minorities in the world. And I too like to do dirty, “perverted,” un-politically correct things in my erotic life. I struggle with reconciling my own feminist beliefs with my desire for sadism and wanting to physically cause “pain,” and with my masculinity and dominance and the ways that both masculinity and dominance are seen as corrupted ways of having power in some feminist’s views. I was asked just this morning about my consumption of porn, and my candid talk about how porn is fun and can be useful and good and valuable, and how I reconcile that with feminism. And, oh yeah, I forget that’s a part of that feminist reconciliation process too.

And all of these took a long time, and were long processes.

I have had lots of judgment about sadism, masculinity, dominance, and porn in the past. Some of it was a reaction formation, at least in a minor way, I think. I had reactions and judgment both about other people’s visible execution of these things, and the tendencies in myself—my own desires. I struggled to reconcile those tendencies and how they went with my feminist commitments to gender liberation and my sensitivities to surviving abuse and being in a rape culture.

I think it absolutely is possible to reconcile, to sort this out.

Here’s some of the ideas that I kicked around—for years and years, with trusted friends, at kink conferences, with lovers. It was not an immediate process. It required adopting a new kind of feminism, I think—a BDSM- and kink-friendly feminism that is rooted in agency and consent, and that understands the difference between play and abuse.

Consider these things:

1. Bottoming, service, and surrendering control, comes from a place of great strength and power.

[Bottoming] is absolutely making yourself vulnerable. But vulnerability is not about weakness—it comes from a place of great strength.

People have the idea in their heads that bottoming is weak, but I think that is not true at all. Bottoming is incredibly powerful. Being able to know where your own boundaries are, hold yourself safe, be able to speak up for your own needs, ask for what you want, and negotiate trust with a person who is going to assist your body and self on a journey takes a lot of skill and sovereignty. People who do it well have an extensive amount of intelligence, self-worth, and self-knowledge.

It absolutely is making yourself vulnerable. But vulnerability is not about weakness—again, it comes from a place of great strength.

The notion that bottoming, receiving sensation, and submitting to someone else’s desires is weak comes from a twisted version of what those things really are, versions that show only the completely non-consensual and abusive sides of these experiences. But when done consensually, the gift that is bottoming to another is precious and strong. It’s amazing to serve someone else; we serve community, family, friends, and other valuable relationships all the time. We give our power or authority, or cede our control, away intentionally in order to empower others in a variety of contexts, and we can get great pleasure from doing so. And when we find someone worthy of our trust such that we will put our body into their hands for intense sensation, cathartic release, and the deep pleasure of being in the present moment with whatever is happening … how does that not come from a place of power?

The difference, in my opinion, between it coming from power and strength or from oppression comes down to some simple traditional feminist concepts.

2. Consent makes all the difference. All of it.

When done within a framework of consent, I believe it is possible for just about anything to be empowering.

I would guess that you do not have a fetish for a scenario where you are forced to serve against your will, when you were thrown around aggressively and had your body played with when you didn’t want it. Fuck no! But what you do want is within a safe, negotiated relationship, to be “forced” to serve, to play with giving over your will entirely.

Consent changes experiences completely. In the activist cultures around female oppression, we often talk about consent in a “no means no” way, and stress the value of enthusiastic consent and the “just because they didn’t say no doesn’t mean there was consent!”

But I think an incredibly important piece of examining the feminist concept of consent is also that YES MEANS YES, and that the consent itself is what makes the act possible or okay.

Let me give you an example: I like playing with Daddy/girl and Daddy/boy role play in my sex life. I know that is something kind of extreme to some people, and many people misinterpret it as incest fantasies, which it is and it isn’t (more on that another time). Sometimes I hear people say things like, “But what if you/I/someone crosses the line with an actual young person!”

But for me, that would not happen.

I do not have a fetish for sleeping with and playing roughly with people under eighteen. I have a fetish for sleeping with and playing roughly with adults who adopt a younger persona (usually temporarily) with enthusiastic consent. It’s not about actual incest or actual under-18 youths. No no no no no. It’s about adults tapping in to other parts of ourselves, to open up new experiences.

The consent is actually an essential part of that fetish.

And likewise, I would guess that for you, Tara, you do not have a fetish for a scenario where you are forced to serve against your will, when you were thrown around aggressively and had your body played with when you didn’t want it. Fuck no! But what you do want is within a safe, negotiated relationship, to be “forced” to serve, to play with giving over your will entirely, to be punished for doing something “wrong,” to be used for someone else’s pleasure.

There is a huge, huge difference between the actual thing and some sort of play consensual version of the thing.

3. BDSM—and being punished, controlled, and made to serve—are completely different from abuse and oppression.

And consent is a key piece of that, yes, but there are a lot of other specific, clear, and measurable differences, too.

Read the “BDSM is Not Abuse” list released by the Lesbian Sex Mafia, one of the oldest women’s BDSM groups in the country, based in New York City. I think it articulates things very well:

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The Difference Between BDSM and Abuse

SM: An SM scene is a controlled situation.
ABUSE: Abuse is an out-of-control situation.

SM: Negotiation occurs before an SM scene to determine what will and will not happen in that scene.
ABUSE: One person determines what will happen.

SM: Knowledgeable consent is given to the scene by all parties.
ABUSE: No consent is asked for or given.

SM: The “bottom” has a safeword that allows them to stop the scene at any time should they need to for physical or emotional reasons.
ABUSE: The person being abused cannot stop what is happening.

SM: Everyone involved in an SM scene is concerned about the needs, desires and limits of others.
ABUSE: No concern is given to the needs, desires and limits of the abused person.

SM: The people in an SM scene are careful to be sure that they are not impaired by alcohol or drug use during the scene.
ABUSE: Alcohol or drugs are often used before an episode of abuse.

SM: After an SM scene, the people involved feel good.
ABUSE: After an episode of abuse, the people involved feel bad.

Souce: lesbiansexmafia.org

Because they are so different, I sometimes think the hyper-articulation of different language is important. It’s one of the reasons that people sometimes use the phrase “consensual non-consent” instead of “rape play,” for example.

The difference between BDSM and abuse goes back to consent, yes; but it goes back to all sorts of other things, too. Like trust, and skill, and agency.

4. Trust in your own agency. Trust in your own experience.

If you negotiate with a lover to get what you want, have an experience, and then everybody feels good after … as long as the experience is “doing no harm” in the world, then I say FUCKING GO FOR IT.

Have some play. Have some ecstasy. Have some screaming release. Have a big bold messy weird experience that maybe other people would judge but it just felt so goddamn good for your body and your mind and your emotions and everything sings a little brighter the next day.

You get to say what happens to your body. You get to have your own experience, and then decide if that was pleasurable or not, enjoyable or not, and whether you’d want to do it again, with this person or with a different person or in a new way or not at all. You get to have your experience of a non-ordinary thing and then, if you feel like fuck yes that was amazing! More more more please! then you can trust that that is real and true. Agency is trusting the answer that you come up with, authentically, when you ask yourself: Does it feel good or bad? Am I left with icky residue or release and joy? Do I feel closer to my play partner, or farther away?

Of course, not every BDSM scene is that easy to evaluate—but some of them just are. Start there. Start with the ones that are easy to tell. Start with trusting your own consent, and agency, and your own deepest experience of what you like or don’t like.

If it matters to you that other people do sometimes see these things you want as contradictory, seek out feminist kink communities. They do exist! This was a topic that came up in the Submissive Playground ecourse quite frequently, actually, and we had a lot of lively discussions about the feminist reconciliation process.

I actually have a dozen more notes about things to say around this process of reconciliation, but this is already more than 2,000 words, so I’m going to call it good for now. Feel free to ask more about specific things in the comments and I’ll do my best to reply!

I hope that gives you lots of places to start. If you’re still stuck, remember, I do one-on-one coaching sessions, and I would be very happy to help you with resources, experiments, ideas, support, or just talking in depth through this reconciliation process. Contact me for more information and pricing.

Got a question for Mr. Sexsmith? Ask it here!

Comment Zen …

Readers, do you relate to Tara’s question?

If you do, would you share your own story about your relationship to feminism and kink? Did you reconcile the two? What was the process like? Slow, fast, hard, simple? What kind of resources helped you on your journey? Books? Anything to recommend for others who are going through this? Do you have any recommendations for feminist kink Fetlife groups?

Leave your story anonymously if you like; your email address will not be published, and if you don’t want your usual “gravitar” picture of you to show up, just type “+sugarbutch” in your email address (like mrsexsmith+sugarbutch@gmail.com) and I’ll know you want to be anonymous.

The Longest Running Queer Porn Site, Courtney Trouble’s Indie Porn Revolution, is the April Feature

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When did you first discover Courtney Trouble’s queer porn work? Did your BFF email you a link recently, now that her entire empire is under the Indie Porn Revolution umbrella? Were you following links in sidebars back in the day before search engines magically indexed every single page on the web, and you stumbled on NoFauxxx, back in the day? Did you notice some sexy sexy queer salivating at you from your favorite sex blog and follow the link to QueerPorn.TV or QueerPornTube?

I remember discovering Courtney through Bitch Magazine in the late 1990s when I still lived in northern Colorado. NoFauxxx had ads in the early issues, and I spent a significant amount of time online (trying to escape the life I was confused to find myself living), and I of course went to visit the site immediately. Being a cheapskate, and not yet understanding and feeling how important it is to support artists with money, and not having any idea how to really use my own money yet, I didn’t get a membership for probably almost ten more years, but you better believe I followed the work in that time.

And now, Courtney Trouble has an epic network of websites, hundreds of thousands of photographs, numerous Feminist Porn Awards, and a solid place in the porn world as a revolutionary. She’s not only changed queer porn—or, practically invented queer porn—her queer porn ethics and methodologies are radically effecting the mainstream porn world, too.

Bad. Ass.

dorian-ipr-bannerJust a quick tour around the FREE parts of Indie Porn Revolution and you’ll know that Courtney’s saturated color, penchant for sexy sexy queers, ladies, and artists of all kinds of stars and stripes, and authentically shown orgasms and laughter and fun and mistakes are absolutely worth diving deep into.

(And yes, that is exactly what I mean, pervert.)

So, April is Indie Porn Revolution month this year here at Sugarbutch. I’ve got a variety of ads up in the sidebar (come onto the site and check it out, if you’re reading this by RSS) and I’ll unveil and feature a few of my favorite scenes from Courtney throughout the month on my own social media networks.

So keep an eye out for those! And meanwhile, go check out Indie Porn Revolution!

From the Dirty Faggot Archives: You’re Fucking Mine

From one of the early dates with the boy. The story contains some sensual knife play.

This is how it began.

Two hotel rooms, one park, one bookstore, two restaurants, two—no, three—cocks, eight gloves, who knows how many condoms, who knows how many orgasms, dozens for you, one for me plus dozens of moments of shuddering energetic overwhelm, twice we were barged in on, three dams, one blade you put in my hand, three times you got your waterproof blanket out, at least two pairs of my briefs you soaked through, one tight little fist, four sets of three minutes, hundreds of kisses.

I took myself to the airport moments after gathering you in my arms, our hearts lined up, pounding. Waiting for my flight, I sat still, closed my eyes, to harvest the myriad sensations running through my body, to sink down into it, to catch my breath after running for an airport shuttle, after gender panic through security, after rushing to my gate.

I could feel my blood pressure like waves through my veins, rising and swelling, back and forth in an internal rocking. Connected to my heartbeat, no doubt, which, I’ve read, syncs up after hours of sex. That thrum through my veins was the same one that thrummed through yours, or had been, half an hour ago. What was your heart doing as you drove that twenty minutes north, as you returned to your little city on the Bay, as you went back to your partner with my marks covering your chest and thighs? Mine felt heavy, sore, thick and red, pulsing, alive. My whole body feels alive, each nerve ending aflame and perked, awake and eager for the feel of our skins, slick, against each other.

Maybe this even more than any particular action is what I remember: the aliveness. The awareness of my body, of all my edges, of all my pieces, weaving together.

And I remember your eyes. How shy you were to look at me, even after I asked you for eye contact while you sucked my fingers down, how rare it was to hold your gaze. I remember how little you said, patient, knowing how interesting your thoughts are when you do share them. I remember waiting for you to calm and soften, wanting that before moving in to take, play, shove, hurt.

The three afternoons come back to me in snippets, treasures, a rock in my pocket I’d forgotten I put there, a poem in my notebook I forgot I wrote, tucked away in my memories and then surprising when it emerges—was that real? Was I really there? Did I really leave? Why am I not there right now?

I pulled you to me at every possible red light while you drove. Teasing you on my one-way trip to the last hotel, on the freeway, first your knuckles against my lips, then sliding one of your small fingers into my mouth to hear you gasp and shudder. My fingers on your tongue, my hand at your throat, just for a minute. Your heat. The way you squirm.

Eager and impatient within hours of arriving, making out in the sunshine and already drunk on your smell, your everything, I couldn’t help myself and had two fingers in you until you said gloves please and I had to unzip my suitcase, dig into my toy bag. It is different to keep my hand gloved, but I can still feel so much: how you liked it deep, that spot by your cervix I reached twice when I got deep enough and both times you said ohh right there.

That moment of sliding my cock inside you. Every time. The first day I thought I’d shoot and lose it the moment the tip of me touched your hole and I felt you give way, hips upturned, and a firework exploded up my spine. I thought I’m going to collapse right here and that will be that. Done. But that was when you opened your eyes, brought your arms around my shoulders, and I was so bolstered, held up, supported, that I could fuck for hours. And we did.

Look at me while you’re sucking my dick, boy; where are your manners. You can do it, just a little more. That’s it. Mm, nice. I like that. That’s what I wanted. That’s exactly what I wanted.

You kept shying away from me. Squirming, hiding, closing your eyes. I can tell you like to drink in the sensations, but I want that exposure that comes from your eyes open. From seeing. From knowing what your eyes are tracking and watching your responses. So I started calling you on it. Teasing. Pushing. Where do you think you’re going? Do you think your hand over your face really hides you from me? You like it. Tell me you like it. It doesn’t matter; I’m going to take from you whether you like it or not.

Thank you sir.

Good boy. You said I could. You said I could have you. You said you’re mine. Can you take it? I think you can. You keep squirming; lie fucking still. Trying to get away from me? Do you think you can? Go ahead, try. Let’s see what you’ve got. Go ahead and twist, try to get away from my punches, I can hit you other places, too.

I’m fucking yours.

Look at me while you’re sucking my dick, boy; where are your manners. You can do it, just a little more. That’s it. Mm, nice. I like that. That’s what I wanted. That’s exactly what I wanted.

I’m not shy about taking what I want, but you are. How many minutes did it take for you to sit back and pull that knife from your pocket? When I opened up my palm between us and the weight of it dropped, something clicked. Something clicked and I wanted to open you up, do some damage, mark you. Instinctively I could see the scar I wanted to leave, but knew better than to follow that. That didn’t mean I was going to hold back: I let it pour out of me, almost as good as the thing itself, watching that flash of fear come up through you: would I do it? Mark you, take you, own you like that? Not this time. Not yet. There’s more, so much more, to come.

Your hand in mine while I held you down and spread open your chest, blade to skin, I remember it was the fourth slice that brought the first beads of blood, your mouth open and swollen under mine, ankle turned around mine, entwined as we opened together.

Could you feel how I split open with your tongue on the pulse of me? Could you feel my heart in your palm when you curled inside me? (Go get a glove. A small one, for you.) Messy, red, bleeding out, nonetheless translucent and whole, and tastes like sugar when it touches your mouth.

When you touch my mouth you taste like fall. Like falling. Like I’ve fallen from whatever I thought I was reaching for and find myself at the mercy of gravity. I couldn’t keep my mouth off of you. I didn’t have to. Most of the bruises happened the last day, though there were a few in the afternoons before. But these, I didn’t hold myself back for, even though you squirmed and hissed through your teeth and gasped and cried out. I loved watching them bloom on your skin, marks so deep you could see the impressions of my crooked teeth.

I wanted to hurt you, and I did. My fists contract around you, hips shift and switch and I want to throw you up against walls, push you down to the floor, drag you by your hair. (Not enough of that yet. Just wait. I want to scare you.) Punch you. Use my knuckles. Leave bruises. I pulled your belt out from your jeans and the leather in my hands made my shoulders and cock ache. What are you going to do with that belt, you whispered. So eager, aren’t you. I hadn’t decided yet. Curl it around your wrists, around your throat. Snap it at your skin. Which is what I did, eventually, rolling the buckle and letting it fall from my hands onto your body. Oh the growl that comes up from somewhere low and dark in me. Then there were the boxing wraps, something to protect me as I threw. You took it so well, so nice and good. Every time I got heavy you tensed, shouted into the hotel sheets, braced yourself against the bed. Relax, I kept telling you. I’m going to keep hitting you one way or the other, you may as well relax. I can tell you want it. I can feel how wet you are on my thigh.

Another time I pulled out a glove and fucked you, watched you come, held you down, got you off five, ten, a dozen times, before I started really hurting you. Pain is easier to take when the pleasure comes first, and I’d learned from the first day that you get worked up and need release. Such whimpering, such desperation, I couldn’t tell if I should back off or go harder, but now I know: harder. More. You can take so much. After your eyes got starry and your smile got lopsided, I started in on the punching, the biting, the slapping. (It stings, you said. Take it, I said. You like it. And you whispered back, I do like it sir. I know you do.) Shoving your face with my open palm. Knuckles against your jaw bone.

Spitting onto my fingers and between your legs as I steadied myself to slide inside.

It was when I said my sweet boy and you said thank you … thank you … thank you (breathing out that missing word with your mouth shaped around it) that something in my chest cracked open. I didn’t know I was looking for you, didn’t know I was missing you, but now you are here and I’m not sure how I could have not seen this you-shaped space in my life before. I want to throw open my arms and show you the full body embrace you are invited to come into.

Maybe you should tell me what your limits are, you said. I can’t imagine anything you would ask for that I would deny you, I said.

Later you said fuck me sir fuck me sir fuck me and I spread my forearm across your sternum and what else could I do but everything you wanted.

I’m yours.

And you’re fucking mine.

Featured image from Indie Porn Revolution.

March Book Roundup: Sex, sex, and more sex

It’s been a review and work month for books, but I’m still eager to keep finding those titles that are breezy-easy reads, that engage me fully, and that are extremely fun and satisfying to finish.

Here’s what I’ve been reading this month.

partnersinpassionI wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Partners In Passion: A Guide to Great Sex, Emotional Intimacy and Long-term Love from Cleis Press to be part of the blog tour for this book, but I was immensely impressed. Mark Michaels & Patricia Johnson have penned quite a few books on Tantra, and they teach extensively on the subject, but I believe this is their first more general book encouraging sexual engagement and interaction for couples ongoing. Bed death is another one of those topics that I am fascinated in, so I was very curious what they would say and what they recommend. It is an excellent read. I loved how they portrayed Tantra in that chapter, and the many chapters on experiments for couples, keeping sexy times alive, and ways to work through your own internal blocks are essential and fantastic. I appreciated the extensive amount of gender inclusion, including some testimonials and quotes from trans folks in very respectful and interesting ways, and of sexual orientation inclusion, too—I worried Michaels & Johnson would be very heteronormative in their work, but it didn’t feel that way to me at all. On the contrary, it felt like they were over for dinner at my house and they were just chit chatting about the very real challenges that I have faced in many relationships. (But in a deep, personal, open, insightful way, not in a superficial chit-chat way.) It was much more than I expected and I think everyone curious about enhancing your sex life, and your connection to your partner, should read it, and every one of us who teaches about sex, bed death, and maintaining erotics in a long term relationship should look to it as an excellent resource.

bigbookofsextoysThe Big Book of Sex Toys: From Vibrators and Dildos to Swings and Slings—Playful and Kinky Bedside Accessories That Make Your Sex Life Amazing by Tristan Taormino is not a new publication, but it’s new to me. I remember when it was released a few years ago and I just didn’t have time to pick it up and check it out, but because it’s Tristan, I knew it’d be good, and I figured I’d get to it eventually. I finally did, and glad I did. It’s not so much a bible of all available sex toys (perhaps you want Hey, Epiphora for that) but it’s an excellent primer on the types of toys available and highlights of some of the very best. Since the world of sex toys changes constantly (which is one of the reasons it’s fascinating, and one of the reasons it’s frustrating), the book is not comprehensive—but doesn’t claim to be. In addition, it is about SO MUCH MORE than just sex toys—it has excellent essays on communication, experimentation, and owning your own desires mixed in, almost disguised under the premise of sex toys, which is extra clever and a really good entrance point for people delving into more creative sexualities. It belongs up there with The Good Vibes Guide to Sex and Moregasm: Babeland’s Guide to Mind Blowing Sex.

daddyI was severely disappointed with Madison Young’s new memoir Daddy. I expected it to be the story of her life, highlighting the daddies she had along the way (as the back cover blurb implied), and including her rise to her pretty famous position of “feminist pornographer.” She wrote about her family-of–origin father, and her partner-cum-dominant-cum-daddy James, but virtually nothing was said about her feminist politics, and very little was depicted or delved into about the sex work and porn that she is particularly famous for starring in and creating. I thought the conflation of her “daddy issues” with her biological father and the daddy role and play that she and her lover take on was irresponsible and cliche. I would have hoped for something more in depth, more thought out, and more, well, feminist, in that it would depict power dynamics with awareness and consciousness and show personal agency. Maybe it’s just because I know Madison’s story has so much more to it than what was shown in this book, but the many claims (two of them being “feminism” and “the many daddies”) just didn’t deliver.

lesbiansexShanna Katz’s book Lesbian Sex Positions: 100 Passionate Positions from Intimate and Sensual to Wild and Naughty was one of those review books I mentioned, that I picked up because I have deep respect for Shanna, and because I have a kinda quirky fascination with sex positions. On the one hand, having sex in different positions seems like a kind of irrelevant thing to teach or know about, but on the other hand, it is an amazingly popular way that couples “spice up their sex life” and begin seeking more in the worlds of sexuality and toys and kink. It’s also incredibly useful to know about sex positions for people with different physical abilities, be that from injury or disability, and often useful for differing size issues, too, both “my partner is a full foot taller than me!” and “I weight a lot more/less than my partner.” Also, someone (Megan Andelloux I think?) once told me that she believed there are only four real sex positions, and all the others are variations of those four, and I’ve been trying to figure out which four those are ever since. So I was curious to see lesbian-specific ideas for positions. I was disappointed by the skinny-white-girl depictions of the positions, though I think I remember seeing Shanna say that herself too, and that she didn’t have any choice, it was the publisher’s decision. It doesn’t highlight Shanna’s extraordinary skills around disability and size and gender-diversity, so the book doesn’t feel like a very good representation of Shanna’s sex educator smarts. Still, her introductory essay is great (and probably the best part of the book), and I think it’s fascinating that there’s a market for gift books like this.

runningmeditationI’m really into Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind by Sakyong Mipham. I devoured it from the library and then went out and bought my own copy so I could follow along with the stages of running (and meditation) that he talks about. I miss studying Buddhism—I haven’t found my place here in the Bay Area yet (mostly because I haven’t really looked yet). I love looking at running through the teachings of meditation, and I was moved, inspired, and curious about the ways he interweaves the two. He does say explicitly that though running can be meditative, it is not a replacement for a meditative practice—”running is not your meditation,” (I’m paraphrasing), “any more than meditation is your exercise.” This book made me want to run better and meditate more. Which is just what I wanted it to do.

sexpositionI’m not sure what it is, but I have a small collection of funky queer coloring books. I don’t color in them (though maybe I should—I try not to treat my objects as too precious to be used for their intended purpose), but I seem to collect them anyway. I picked up the Sex Position Coloring Book as a review item because I am—what did I write up there?—quirkily fascinated by sex positions as a thing that sex educators teach, and I’m trying to figure out how it’s useful to my own teachings and workshops, particularly since I teach strap-on workshops so frequently. The book depicts only heterosexual cis male & cis female couples, but that’s one of the fun things about a coloring book: you could always add harnesses or other bodily modifications. In full disclosure: I also picked this up partly to inspire rife to possibly do some of his own coloring pages, maybe of sex positions even. That secret covert plan hasn’t worked yet, but I still have some ideas up my sleeve.

farmcityI’ve just finished Farm City: Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter this week, so it just squeaked on to this list. I have TWO beautiful big photo books about beginning to grow food in your (urban) backyard, but I haven’t quite devoured them because, well, I’m still so intimidated by the process. I moved into the house I’m in now in August 2013, and we spent the winter prepping the yard and getting it ready to plant and grow more things. Now that it’s spring in the Bay Area it is clearly time to plant things and start planning. It’s exciting! The options feel limitless! And also, eek! We do already have quite a few things in the ground, kale potatoes peas tomatoes pumpkins, and some herbs, sage dill mint basil, and a wildflower patch and a jasmine bush and a satsuma orange tree in a container, but I want to know how to do it all better and want to play in the dirt. So, in order to get myself a bit more excited about these kinds of ideas, I picked up Novella’s book. She had an urban farm in Oakland actually not too far from my house, so I loved hearing about the changes in the neighborhood and the local events. She raised ducks, rabbits, and even pigs for meat, and I will absolutely not be doing that, but in comparison it sure makes growing kale seem easier. I love how extensively researched she is—every few pages she quotes another book, another writer, another hippie back-to-the-land philosopher who came before. I’m definitely more inspired to get out to my own backyard garden and see what I can help grow.

dreambizI’ve been devouring some business books lately, and Start Your Dream Business was one of them. It, unfortunately, is almost completely about motivating the reader to follow their dreams and pursue that wacky business idea that you might have, and it is not at all about the nitty-gritty how to do it. In fact, often the business profiles completely skip that part, going from “I had this great idea!” to “and now it’s a 6-figure business!” Great, good for you—and also, how’d ya do that!? Regardless, I picked up the book from the library because I was interested in the premise, and zoomed through it because it included so many people whose work I’ve been familiar with online (like Tara Gentile and … lots of others I can’t remember now). Sarah Wade is UK-based, so many of the references and business owners are not American, which honestly made it even more interesting, since I am mostly familiar with American methodologies of entrepreneurship. I still don’t feel like I’m a pro at this whole business thing, but it’s curious and I am enjoying the learning.

switchI picked up Switch by Astrid Knowles because it’s in that BDSM-novel genre of power dynamic romance that I have enjoyed picking up recently, because I zoom through them and sometimes they’re kind of fun and mostly I can ignore the problematic gender/power alignment assumptions. This one had a curious class premise—that the dominant the narrator meets and falls for is homeless and jobless at the beginning of the book—but other than that, it was pretty fluffy and not very memorable. I ran into a quote from this book about switching, which is what turned me on to it in the first place, but I might have put the book down before I got to the switching part, or just didn’t notice it. The writing is less than average, so I often skimmed through chapters.

Um okay so that’s all I have to say about that.

One more sidenote: I decided at the beginning of March that I would do my best to NOT read online, and to read books instead. It was interesting—it took a lot of discipline, and I noticed how many times, over and over, I clicked through to an article on social media or via email. I didn’t realize how much I was reading online every day, and how many of those articles had so much throw-away content—not things that were actually enriching my life, or teaching me things, but more sensationalized what’s happening in the world things. So that practice has helped me both focus on work more when I’m at the computer and read more books, which has been excellent. I aim to continue that habit.

You can support my reading habit, and encourage me to read and write book roundups like this one, by buying me gifts through my Amazon wish list! (Did I mention it’s my birthday today?)

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What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations?

I’m obligated by the blogger’s code to let you know that the Sex Position Coloring Book, Daddy by Madison Young, The Big Book of Sex Toys, Lesbian Sex Positions, and Partners in Passion were all sent to me by the respective publishers as review books. My opinions on those books are solely my own, however, and they did not pay me or influence me in any way to write them. Pick up these books at your local independent bookstore, or, if you must, on Amazon.