Dear Mr. Sexsmith,
Ok, this is a really dumb question. When you clean silicone toys used during anal sex, do you boil them? I know that you can clean silicone toys by boiling, or by soap and water, or 10% bleach, or by the top rack of the dishwasher. But like, if you boil them, does the leftover lube/etc stay on the pot? Do you wash the pot afterwards? Do you have a separate sex-toy pot for sey-toy cleaning? Why bother dirtying something else, especially something else used in food preparation?
Thanks for any help.
I am not an expert on toy cleaning, really—I have my own way of doing it, but I’m not always sure that’s the right way. Since my activities as of late are very low-risk (currently, I have one person I share toys with), what I do feels adequately good enough.
And, I have less knowledge of the healthcare side of cleaning toys and STIs than some of the other sex educators out there. So, instead of stumbling through my own answer, I asked my buddy Sejay Chu what their thoughts were on this question. They worked for Planned Parenthood doing sex education, and are one of the best workshop presenters I’ve ever seen. Their depth (heh heh) of knowledge is astounding. (And plus, they’re super hot, so that’s always a bonus.)
Thank you Sejay! The number (B) point was basically going to be my point too, which is that I’d use a mild soap to scrub down all the toys before doing the sanitizing of boiling it.
Sanitize, by the way, is more accurate that “sterilize,” even though most sex educators tend to say “sterilize your toys by boiling for 8 minutes, 10% bleach solution, or washing in the top shelf of the dishwasher.” However, in order to actually sterilize something, you need an AutoClave or some other hospital-strength unit. But as soon as something is exposed to the air, it’s no longer sterile. Regardless, what we’re doing is sanitizing sex toys, which kills most (idk, 99.9%?) bacteria and any STI viruses. (I learned this at Catalyst East in March and I’ve been meaning to write a post about it ever since—that I’ve been saying “sanitize” all these years and all along I had never actually sanitized my toys! I don’t think it’s just me, I think it’s a common mistake of words that sex educators often use. (Or maybe it is just me, and everybody else knows this difference, and I was the one always equating the two.)
Also, if you are worried about the extra santorum* on your toys or on your cookware, I suggest using a condom with anal sex toys, because that will add a protective layer to your toys and make them even easier to clean.
I didn’t know that (D) about the dishwashers. Sejay, do you know what the required temperature is, and how to figure out if your dishwasher gets that hot or not?
And, I love the idea of having a (C) sexpot, but I tend to just use the biggest soup pot in the house. I clean my toys first, and clean the pot after. All good!
* Definition of santorum: that frothy mixture of come and lube and other rectal contents created during anal sex. See: Savage Love, 2003. (I think the word “frothy” is the key part of that definition, personally.)
Have you read Visible: A Femmethology? No? It’s your lucky fucken day, because Volume 2 is available for Kindle download for FREE from today until the 21st.
(Also: Don’t own a Kindle? No problem! This book can be read with the Free Kindle Reader App for your Web Browser, PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, or Android Phone.)
It’s true! Homofactus Press sent out the news on their mailing list, and included a little bit about why:
“Please help us push the book to the top of Amazon’s lists. We are a micropublishing company and rely on you to spread the word about our work. Please forward this newsletter to two friends – just two – you know will want to download Visible: A Femmethology, Volume Two for free. And ask those two friends to forward it to two of their friends, and so on.”
I’d say it could be more than two, it doesn’t have to be just two. But either way, download and enjoy!
Visible: A Femmethology Volume Two includes my piece, A Love Letter to Femmes, and many other beautiful essays, praise, and thoughts about femme identity. But that’s not why I’m telling you about it—I’m telling you because it’s a great book and there aren’t that many recent publications out there on femme identity.
I’m in a bit of a pickle. I’ve been out for ages, but for reasons not worth getting into (for instance mostly due to lack of opportunity, not lack of interest or any deep seated issues) I’m still completely inexperienced when it comes to girl-on-girl sex. I have however had a fair amount of boy-girl sexcapades.
But now I have the opportunity to get some girl-on-girl action and I don’t want to tell her it’s my first time. I know I should, but I’m too embarrassed to admit that despite years of being out I’m a 28 year old queer virgin. I want to be a good partner and please her in bed but I need some direction. Will she expect me to go down on her the first time we go to bed together? Any websites or great tips to impart? Any help you can offer would be great.
Thank you Sinclair. You and your words have been helping me get off for ages. Now I’m hoping you can help me got off with a partner.
As a budding baby dyke, I relied on books. Nothing But the Girl and Best Lesbian Erotica 1998 spring to mind, because in 1998 and 1999 I was obsessed and barely out. I left my boyfriend of six years in August 1999 to move into a crowded little apartment on Capitol Hill in Seattle with a dyke I barely knew, eager to have my own room, my own space, a place for my own desires. It wasn’t until April 2000 that I slept with a girl. She was in my nutrition class, and we had the same birthday. “Did you just say it’s your birthday?” “Yeah.” “It’s my birthday today too!” We talked and started sitting together. I put my hand on her knee under the table, and she let me. Kissed me in front of the school after class when we went our separate way. “You’re bold, touching my knee like that,” she wrote in a note later. “I like bold.” She invited me to her house for lunch.
She’d never been with a girl either, but she like me (and you) knew she was interested and had some sexcapade experience. When we started getting undressed (awkward light from my only bedroom window that faced the parking lot, shaded by a fringed grey shall, moon poster up over my bed, feminist books stacked in every spare space), kissing, oh she was a good kisser, I had no idea what to do or what it would be like or how to please her. But when she paused and said, “I don’t know what to do,” I could feel my relief, at her admission of what we were both feeling, and knowing that she didn’t know what would to do meant I could step in and take the (gentle) lead.
Oh, I thought. I know what to do.
I didn’t, not really. But I suppose in some ways that was the beginning of me as a service top, taking some limited control and having bodily permission to touch in ways that pleased her. That’s all I wanted to do: feel her, please her, touch her in ways that she liked, connect with her.
That’s all sex is, really. Sure, the orgasm part is a really nice added bonus—but not everybody comes at all, not everybody is able to get off with a partner, and almost nobody comes with a new person the first time.
Carly, you wrote this to me in March 2012 (and I am so behind on advice/ask me anything questions, this year has been impossible, see: the Making Peace series and the last 18 months of this site), so I presume you weren’t waiting on my small piece of advice before you went for it. So hopefully, this advice comes too little too late. Hopefully this is all irrelevant. Hopefully, you’ll comment on this saying, Oh! That was me! But I totally forgot I even asked that. I’ve been fucking for eighteen months now, I have this completely different other question now.
But just in case you haven’t, and just in case there are other folks out there who read Sugarbutch and dream about queer sex but maybe haven’t had much of it yet, this is my advice to you.
Will she assume that you will go down on her? I have no idea. Depends on the person. Personally, I think going down on someone is an incredibly intimate act, and I wait quite a while after starting to date someone to do it. Also, I am STI-aware and don’t go down on someone without a barrier unless we are fluid bonded, which also often happens after a few (or quite a few) dates (or never), depending on our agreements and how in-depth we go into our own STI histories and whether or not we have other partners or whether we’re going to go get tested again. I have dealt with this differently with everyone I’ve dated, but the short answer is, I think, no, you shouldn’t assume you will go down on someone on your first date or in the first month or so, and if you decide you want to, it should be after you get to know them more and have some safer sex conversations.
Don’t assume anybody is going to come the first time. I believe you are responsible for your own orgasm—in general, not just the first time—so if you want to get off, assume you’ll be getting yourself off. And make it totally okay for her to get herself off, too. Offer to watch, if she finds that sexy. Or offer to help, in whatever ways would be helpful (lick her nipples? Kiss her? Hold her down? Whisper sexy things in her ear? Shove your cock in her mouth? To each their own …).
Unless you have a strong power identity established already, and do a bit of negotiating, don’t assume who’s going to top and who’s going to bottom. Just feel each other. You’re getting to know each other in a new way: physically, energetically. Go easy, take each other’s cues. It’s a complicated physical dance.
To get ready for your first girlon-girl time (or whatever—y’all know that I mean to extend that to other genders too, right?): Jerk off a lot. Notice what you do, how you touch yourself, what feels good. Try those out on her body.
And pay a lot of attention to how she responds. If you can talk, ask how to touch her, ask what feels good.
Feel into your own body, and follow the pleasure. What would feel good right now? Tell her that, and ask: “I really want to kiss you right now. Is that okay?” “I have this urge to spank your ass, would that feel good for you?” “I have some soft pretty rope just … right there … I wonder if you’d like it if I used it?” “Can I introduce you to my favorite vibrator?” “I really love using a strap-on, do you like penetration?”
As I have been thinking on this answer, I kept saying to myself, Self … damn. If only there was a Girl Sex 101 primer that I could point Carly to for more tips and tricks and ideas about communication and negotiation and following pleasure and how ladyparts are awesome and different and the same.
And then I realized that maybe there’s not a perfect one of those right now, but there’s this:
That Allison Moon and KD Diamond are building, and you’re just in time to get a copy for yourself by supporting their Kickstarter.
What is it? Well …
Girl Sex 101 is a road trip in a book! Combining fiction & comics with solid sex-education, Girl Sex 101 does what no sex-ed book has done before.
A collaboration between author and sex-educator Allison Moon (the Tales of the Pack novels about lesbian werewolves) and artist kd diamond (founder & editor-in-chief of Salacious Magazine) Girl Sex 101 is loaded with fun, color illustrations and entertaining stories that offer far more than the standard sex-ed fare.
Plus, “Girl Sex 101 is a collaborative effort of over 15 independent educators and artists, featuring fun & informative guest viewpoints by sex-ed superstars” like Megan Andelloux, Tristan Taormino, Jiz Lee, Carol Queen, Julia Serano, Tina Horn, Ignacio Rivera and more!
So clearly you should try that too.
I also recommend these books:
I wish I knew of other good resources! So I figure this is a great time to ask the readers. Hey, readers! What do you recommend? What books or websites or sources? What are your best tips for queer sex for the first time?
PS: If you asked for advice from me in the past few years, and never received it, I’m sorry. I know many (hundreds, actually) of you have emailed me questions or asked me questions, and I haven’t replied. It’s because I have not been on top of my shit in the ways I would like to be—it’s not because your question wasn’t fascinating. It probably was. It’s just that I haven’t been on a schedule or replying or corresponding in the ways that I want to be. But, I’m sorry you reached out and said something possibly vulnerable or sweet or real, and never got anything back in return.
If that question (or a different question) is still relevant to you, the way to skip the queue and come to the top of the list is to send me a donation or book a 30-60 minute session with me over Skype or over the phone. I’ll address your question, and more.
When I think about the past two years, and trying to put some sort of something together to explain how it’s been, I think in photographs. That one where he’s picking raspberries with his bare hands, crouched in his brown tee shirt, raspberry juice running down his wrists, pink staining his tongue. The one where he and his dog are surveying the moonscape of northern Yukon right before we turned past the “Welcome to Alaska!” sign. The one he called “doing important boy work” where he was sitting in a jock strap and nothing else on the porch at the ranch writing in his leather boy journal, writing reflections on tasks for me or writing about feelings of service and submission or writing a book report, I don’t know what the task was, but I’m sure it was important. The one with his dimples in that orange-red light that I looked at over and over before I really knew him.
I’d put together a collage post, an essay in photographs, but that doesn’t feel good enough, because who knows what you’d see. Maybe you’d see what I see, all the sweet boy tasks and dimpled smiles and creating art, but you wouldn’t see so many of the other things: the quiet contemplation, the complexities, the intensity of inner landscape, the artistry, the precision, the majesty.
It’s not easy, this intimate loving. I don’t know how it could ever be easy. It’s a practice of stripping away blocks, stripping away defenses, reminding myself over and over to let in, take in, open up, drop that protective layer. What a horrible thing to do, and how beautiful. What else is there, really, than to let someone see who I am as true as I possibly can.
This is my best truth, I whisper to him over and over, with each breath, while I sleep, while my lips touch his fingertips, while my key fits his lock. Right now, I am ruined. Right now, I am running. Right now, I am ruminating. Right now, I am rubber bouncing away. Right now, I am rumbling. Right now, I am rushed. Right now, I am a ruby shining. Right now, I am rusted through and I fear one touch will crumble everything. Right now, I just need you to hold me, take your hand and put it there, hold me from inside.
I have loved enough to know not to make grand declarations while I fall. I know I have said the same things, again and again. Falling always feels like that: brand new, awakened, like nothing else ever before. And it’s true. This time, it’s green green in all her shades, babygreen and lime and chartreuse, fresh mown grass, pine and spruce, fern and jungle, tea and olive, so many options. Let’s spend the life of our relationship cataloguing all of the hues and saturations, all of the chroma and light, every kind of value there may be. Let’s memorize the hex and RGB codes and recite them in each other’s ears when we need to remember the secret language in which we speak. This green that is growth and renewal, from budding seed to moss covering the old growth. Every stage, none more valuable than the other. None needing to be hidden. No forest does their mourning in silence, hidden away in holes or caves. Trees fall out in the open, unapologetic. This is my direction. I will now lay down to rest. We heard that great snap on the outer point trail and both looked to the canopy: which one would it be? The clear sound of tree death echoed, but it took a moment before falling. Like a ball bouncing tall tall tall and then less and less until the sound waterfalls. The tree was a waterfall as it descended, mortal, unrooted.
This is what happens. Unrooted I descend, mortal, and no one to be worshipped. And yet he does it anyway. So devoted, he whispers, and I whisper it right back. My noblesse oblige, my responsibilities, the placement in his life I continue to earn daily as I am to be and act from my best self. The deepest of forest greens. Living with him seems small compared to owning him.
I don’t know why I crave the power I do, nor does he know why he craves the submission he does. We puzzle, we theorize, we study, we muse. And we give to each other in these ways that we have always craved. Something in me didn’t know what I wanted was to own, to master. The verb, the job title—not the honorific, not yet (maybe that will come later). But as I study this path, I realize I’ve always been on it. Always been trying to encourage something more, and making do with my own limitations.
I’ve been making offerings my whole life, holding up gifts, looking at paths and asking if they wanted to walk it with me. This is the boy who has taken my hand and said yes. This is the boy who showed me paths he’s discovered, too, but had not yet walked, knowing the essentiality of having another with him. This is the boy who has been offering, over and over, to take more if they wanted it. I want more. I want the edge. I seek the razor on which we can both balance. I seek the calling to be my own best self. I seek one who will stay at my feet not because it serves him, but because it serves me. That is a fine line of difference, but makes everything change.
Right now, I am shining in the oldest forest, crackling descent to the earth, digging up rubies. Doesn’t green shine brighter when there’s red around? Isn’t my heart just oh so ready to pour this blood into the earth? Isn’t there so much more to love than heartbreak? Isn’t there so much possibility, when puzzle pieces find each other? Aren’t we so ready, so prepared and ready, to live our way to the answers, live our way to the creations of our quiet, deepest callings?
I don’t know what happens next. But I know this is the beginning of year three, and I’m listening. I choose.
Welcome to e[lust] - The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at e[lust]. Want to be included in e[lust] #51? Start with the newly updated rules, come back October 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!
This Month’s Top Three Posts
Featured Post (Molly’s Picks)
Readers Choice from Sexbytes
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It’s that time of year again … I am about to get back on the road and do workshops at colleges.
This year, I’ve narrowed down my workshop offering seven academic workshops:
- Fucking with Gender
- Build Your Own Gender Toolkit*
- Identities in a Label-Free World*
- Becoming A Queer Leader*
- Flirting Fundamentals
- The Dating Toolkit*
- The Sexual Politics of BDSM
* Starred workshops are brand new for 2013-2014, though frequently built upon other workshops I’ve offered in the past.
I also have some kink workshops, but I’m still working on gathering all of those together into a PDF.
I will continue to do talk about custom workshop requests, and I’ve got a Big List of All The Workshops I’ve Offered over on mrsexsmith.com in case there was this one workshop that caught your eye but you can’t remember what it was and it’s not on this new list.
Currently, I have these trips planned—and I have many more in the works that are just not quite finalized! If you are going to school somewhere near these places? I’m looking to add on gigs while I’m already going to be visiting. Get in touch with me or my intern Lori at [email protected].
10/6-7, Claremont Colleges, Claremont, CA. Writing ourselves into existence workshop, queer theory class, spoken word performance!
10/16 NYU, New York City, Best Sex Ever workshop
11/14 Wild at Heart, Seattle, WA – Cock Confidence
11/15 The Foundation for Sex Positive Culture (FSPC), Seattle, WA – Advanced Cock Confidence
11/16 The FSPC, Seattle, WA – Leaving Marks
11/17 Wild at Heart, Seattle, WA – Queering Power Dynamics
My appearances calendar is always updated at mrsexsmith.com/appearances.
Here’s the PDF for this year’s workshops (which you can download here if you prefer):
I’m really excited to get back out there and have more conversations with all of you. Did I mention that Pink & White gave me a box of porn for me to bring to you for giveaways?
In my last apartment, none
of the doors shut completely. I
hung hand towels over the tops
to make the seal tight enough not
to open with just the slightest
push. In this new apartment,
the doors all latch firm shut, but
I keep crashing into them, throwing
my shoulder into the wood, touching
them with my toe, a small kick,
an elbow, a slight push, expecting
them to open. Though the truth is,
they would all open, eagerly,
with trembling pleasure, if ever
I uttered the softest request.
After the workshop. I haven’t had enough of you (will I ever get enough of you) and strip you bare, glove my hand, slide two fingers inside you, sideways on our huge bed. The lamplight is different than the bright white of this room during the day, more warm, orange-yellow-gold and more full of shadows, and the shadows and the gold fall onto your skin like paint. In the car on the way back I couldn’t resist (can rarely resist, it’s so hard to resist when part of our dynamic is built around taking what I want) and slide your small fingers into my mouth. You miss the exit. Your fingers are blunt and I trace your jagged nails with my tongue, suck the salt from the pads, taste the day on your skin. I pull your wrist down to your pelvis and take two fingers in my mouth again when my two fingers are inside you, gently pressing, not a lot of motion, and I start to suck you off. Up and down your fingers like a cock. I hold your g-spot and feel it quiver in my fingers. I let your fingers out of my mouth so you can touch your clit, and keep my tongue on the back of your hand. You shudder and convulse against my mouth, your cunt grips my fingers. You slide your fingers back in my mouth, eager, and I taste you, just a little, at the tips, and I do it all over again.
On the side of the bed, but you’re not supposed to be coming that day, and you do. It sneaks up on you in a moan, but before you can really come you stop yourself, blurting out, “fuck!” again, and it’s the second time you’ve come without permission, and you’re in trouble. You back off and look at me shyly; I am laughing at your distress, you just feel so bad for defying the rules, and the guilt is more than enough punishment. I can feel how bad you want to please me. I am enjoying this too, too much: your attempts to do things just right and your scrambles to fix it when you are so happy, so pleased to be serving me, servicing me, kneeling before me, my cock in your throat. It’s enough for you to see that look on my face, that ecstasy you’re causing, that overwhelming lust and adoration as your tongue hits the head so soft and slow as you suck it down, which makes me want to pulse and shoot, makes me feel my balls (as if I had them) contract and swell, cocked and loaded. You move back toward my dick with your lips parted and I push you away. “No—I think you’re done sucking my cock. You lost that privilege when you came without asking. Down. Kiss my boots.”
Long slow aftercare. I let the beating settle into your body—the belt, my hands, the restraints on your ankles and wrists. After some time on the bed I move us to the chair so you can sit on my lap. You wrap around me, sink down. You quiet and calm and I ask, “Ready to suck my cock again?” You say yes, quickly, in a whisper, and kneel between my knees. I loosen the harness and touch my clit under it while you suck me down. (You’re not supposed to come today, still; one of us may as well.) “Good boy,” I breathe as I watch your mouth, tongue, lips, my cock down your throat. I let you guide it. I let you slide it however deep you want. I push a little, because that’s what I do, but mostly I just concentrate on the feeling and the sight. I almost come but it’s too much, I get overstimulated and don’t have the right angle so I get up and take my jeans off, my socks and shoes and briefs, and spread my legs wider, get a better grip under the harness. You start in again and I imagine what your mouth would feel like. I know every inch of it, know every ridge of the roof and every tastebud on your tongue and every valley of your teeth with my fingers and my tongue, but fuck how I wish I could feel those with my cock. We are making do with what we have and you are an expert at sucking me down, swallowing, and I think about how I’d get tight and build up pressure, ready to shoot. You moan around my cock and I feel it in my pelvis and I feel you squirt on my ankle and foot, you’re straddling my leg. “Ohh fuck you’re in trouble,” I manage. You whimper a little, give me those eyes, those sweet little boy eyes like you would do anything for your daddy, you’re sorry, you didn’t mean to, you couldn’t help it, and it doesn’t take long before I’m over the edge for you, coming in your mouth, yelling out and curling my spine and feeling how I’d shove and come to the back of your throat. I breathe, my body stills. You sink down onto your belly and put your tongue to my foot, clean it off, suck my instep. With your head still down low, you say, “Am I still in trouble?” and I laugh.
You walk over to me with your cock on, hard and thick and fitting you, jutting out from your hips. “Can you stand?” I ask. You nod. I sit on the edge of the bed. You let me feel it, with my hands and along my lips, my jaw, getting to know its new contours. I put my tongue on it, kiss it, and you shudder. I like feeling how hard you are in my mouth. I can’t take it as deep as I think I can, but I try, again and again, wanting you so far inside.
You start on your knees at the end of the bed after I have kicked you, hit you with my belt, after I told you to pick a number and you picked three, after you took more than you thought you could, after you crawled for me, after my hands in you at the edge when I said come on and shoot that load for your daddy, little faggot and I shove in, impatient and hard, to the back of your throat. You gag. I keep going. I hold you by the hair and work my hips so it goes in and out of your mouth. You gag again. I keep going. I stand over you and you rise up a little higher and I keep fucking your mouth. I wrap my hand around your throat. I pinch your nose closed and shove in. You look up at me, pleading, in a rare moment of eye contact. I don’t let up until I count to ten. I take my dick out and let you breathe and do it again. Count to ten. Sometimes I hold my breath with you, but I always let mine go before you do. I fist your hair and shove in deep. My hips shake against your mouth. Come on, little boy, take it, that’s right, that’s how I like it, fuck, yeah, give me that pretty little mouth, take it deeper, you can do better than that, fucker, do it, suck it down, yeah that’s right, nice. You stumble back a little and my fist holds you up.
My girlfriend and I have been looking for a decent pack ‘n’ play cock but can’t seem to find any that seem decent, and it’s hard to choose over the internet.
I read your 101 on packing cocks, which was useful and helped me know what to look for. Unfortunately, all your recommendations have been discontinued.
Do you have any more recent cocks you could recommend? (If it’s a UK website, that would be a huge plus as postage can be really expensive to get it over here.)
Thanks very much. Regards,
In recent years, there have been generally three cocks that are considered “pack and play”: The Silky (aka the Bendy), the Goodfella, and the Tantus VIP Supersoft. All of those are outlined in my Cock Confidence: Pack & Play article here.
Not to be all dramatic about it, except that OMG IT IS JUST BASICALLY THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO PACK AND PLAY COCKS EVER, a company called New York Toy Collective rolled onto the scene in 2011 and they are producing a brand new pack n play silicone cock called the Shilo.
And it is really, really good.
I think it’s so good, in fact, that I have teamed up with NYTC and I have a few of their cocks that I carry around with me and sell myself. That started because I kept RAVING about them in my workshops, but they weren’t in toy stores yet. Now, they’re in many stores, like Good Vibes and Babeland and Smitten Kitten. I don’t know if they’re in the UK yet, though (I don’t think so).
So, wait, backing up. Let me introduce you to the Shilo:
Made out of silicone, with a “proprietary core” (which apparently means “we can’t tell you what’s in it, but it has layers of silicone and other plastics”) that makes it bendable. BENDABLE. So you can tuck it down into your pants and then bend it back up straight and fuck with it well. I mean well.
It is 6 inches of insertable length, and 1.5 inches in girth. Which is a great size. A really really good size. A slightly larger than average size when it comes to cis penises, but perhaps slightly on the small side when it comes to strap-on cocks. Let me assure you that it is excellent for a) blow jobs, b) anal sex, and c) um all the other holes and fucking too. I often switch to a slightly (or massively) bigger cock when I want to really go at it for a while, but it is excellent for fucking. And because it’s very bendable, you can get it right to the g-spot or p-spot really easily.
Clean it like you’d clean any silicone: place in boiling water or on the top shelf of the dishwasher (no soap!) or wipe down with a 10% bleach solution.
Shilo is available in 4 skin tone colors, because more choices help you pick a shade that is closer to your skin tone. AND it now comes in blue/black, pink/blue and fierce pink!
So you can buy them online from various stores now, or from nytoycollective.com, or you can buy them right from ME. I’m selling them for $135, and I would much prefer to sell them in person, but I am willing to mail them to you. That’ll be $135 plus shipping (which varies depending on where you live. If you’re in the US, it’ll be flat rate priority mail).
Email me, [email protected], if you want one with the color and your address, and I will bill you via Paypal.
Or, of course, you can pick it up at your local queer feminist sex-positive sex toy store, which hopefully you already patronize frequently and support in many ways, or online from NY Toy Collective directly.
In the past two months, I’ve resigned from two major positions that I’ve held for the past few years: Media Chair on the BUTCH Voices Board, and national women’s coordinator and New York City coordinator for the Body Electric School.
There are various reasons for both of these resignations, and I’m not sure how much to really go in to here, so I’ll opt for very little.
I’ve loved working with both of these places. Body Electric, I have loved you since I set foot in my second workshop and cracked open my whole body and let something new flood in, some sort of pleasure-spirit cocktail that got me high and holy and eager for more. I’m still open to being a part of Body Electric in some form, but I’m no longer coordinating workshops (this October’s Outside the Boxes workshop will be my last one).
BUTCH Voices, I have been so touched and relieved and humbled to get to know all of you board members and advisory board members and steering committee folks, and I am lucky to have you as friends now, after doing this amazing community service of putting on the 2013 national conference. Media Team, special shout-out to you and all your amazing work you put in to our look and feel and communications. Thank you.
I’m so glad I did it. I’m glad I said yes to both of those, I’m glad I served those organizations. But unfortunatley, neither of them are sustainable financially, because the amount of work put in isn’t equal to the compensation I receive. It’s not just monetary compensation, and I didn’t go in to either of those jobs expecting that—but it’s also community compensation, contacts and networking, energy, gratitude, friendships, experience, and all those kinds of things. And it just hasn’t been enough.
Maybe it would be enough if I was sustaining my own financial self, but I’m not. I need to be more careful about all those hours I’ve spent volunteering my time and giving my time away for very little. I need to make smarter financial and energetic decisions. I need some serious self-care time, as I continue healing and moving forward from this transition.
And! I have some exciting new things in the works.
I’m finally starting to treat what I’ve been calling my “freelance” work over the past four years or so as an actual business, and trying to make some decisions accordingly. I’m doing a lot of re-visioning and planning in order to re-launch my business in three parts: writing, teaching, and coaching.
I recently got new business cards, which are actually bookmarks, and they are focused on this three-part business strategy thing:
They’re bookmarks that double as business cards, or business cards that double as bookmarks. What? It’s not like you have to identify as just one thing, anyway.
Want one? Ask me for them next time you see me in person, I’m carrying them around pretty much everywhere.
I’ve also got some new plans brewing to continue erotic embodiment workshops and collaborations, but nothing is official or public yet, so I’m just going to be secretive and let you know that new things are growing, and hopefully I will tell you lots more soon.
I’m excited for these changes! I’m not sure if they’ll work or not, but I want to keep trying. I’m practicing being determined, keeping my tenacity up, building strong movement forward.
To Love You
An adventure for which I
have been preparing, long before
we met. A practice in honesty
with myself and others. A crow
bar opening my ribcage wider
than I thought it’d go. A pill I swallow
to make all the colors brighter.
A zipline I can’t let go of for fear
of plummeting back to where
I’ve already been. A breakfast
in bed, lazy, perfect on a weekend.
A heartbeat to which I can count out
a 4/4 rhythm and always
carry a bass line. A harmony.
A tune I can almost make out of
a song I know so well but can’t
quite remember. A return to
myself. An exercise in becoming
supernova without exploding.
A crazy idea that just might work.
An adoration. A prayer with my whole
body, starting at my lips. A midnight
candlelight canopy garden of treasure.
A menagerie custom made for me.
A secret I hesitate to share because
I want to cherish it enough for the
whole world. A promise, but I’m not
yet sure for what. An anchor in my
marrow. A pen full of ink and not
enough paper. The slick oil of finger-
prints on glass. A smooth river stone
large enough to balance on one
foot. Lit birthday candles that won’t
blow out. A hike into the shady forest
with a picnic and a fairy tale. Your skin
shined with sweat. A relief. A tribute.
An ache that fills me more than any
ache should. A symphony of leaves.
A choir of hiding places. A quilt from
old tee shirts. Look, that’s from my
first concert. You saw that same tour,
but we didn’t know yet
what that meant, either.
Dear Mr. Sexsmith,
My butch lover refers to me as gorgeous, luscious, beautiful… [but] I just don’t think those kind of descriptive words work for her. What would you suggest? Thanks!
My personal favorites?
Some more ideas?
Striking. Charming. Dazzling. Gentleman. Stud(ly). Rough. Tough. Hero(ic). Attractive. Big.
And, do delve a little deeper:
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with calling someone masculine gorgeous or beautiful or any of those words. (I don’t know if I’d use “luscious” … not sure what it is exactly, maybe it implies curviness to me, and it wouldn’t resonate if someone used that for me. But I can think of some very luscious butches who would probably like that word used to describe them, so don’t take my preference as the norm.) I think we separate complimentary words by gender, and while many people have certain resonances with certain words regardless of their gender identity—and I think those should be respected, and it doesn’t really matter if the words someone likes happen to all fall in one generally gendered category or not—I think it’s good to take a look at why some of them resonate over others, and whether that’s personal preference or cultural habit.
I remember reading somewhere that “men want to be powerful, women want to be beautiful,” and while I think there’s some heteronormative/patriarchal/misogynistic deconstruction that should probably happen around that idea, I also think it is largely true and reproduced in this culture. And, I think we tend to compliment along those lines when we’re talking about complimenting someone feminine verses complimenting someone masculine. So first of all, women are powerful and beautiful, men are beautiful and powerful, genderqueer and trans and butch and femme folks are powerful and beautiful, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being both. In fact, I think it’s a radical act a) to recognize that our gender roles operate by trying to keep men striving for power and women striving for beauty, which reinforces the kyriarchy, and b) to intentionally break those gender roles by complimenting people for the incredible, sparkly, dazzling things that we notice them doing, by which we are touched and changed.
I think this topic of complimentary words warrants a fascinating conversation between partners. E.g., “Hey, when I use words like attractive and sexy and beautiful when I describe you, do you like that? What kinds of words do you like to be called? Are there words that I call you that sometimes bug you? Isn’t it interesting that certain words are reserved for femininity and others for masculinity? Would it feel strange if I called you pretty/strong/luscious/my hero?”
Brainstorm. Make a list. Do some google searches. Ask around to your friends next time you’re out and about and see what kind of lists they make of compliments for their girlfriends/boifriends/partners. Go back to your partner and try out some of those words, see what the response is. Maybe they just don’t like their body to be talked about or commented upon, even if you are in awe of their gorgeousness and want to tell them so every day. Maybe they like certain words to be used and they just don’t know why, but it makes more sense and resonates deeper. That’s okay. Listen to each other.
I like to use words that have the intended effect, and if I intend one thing and they take it another way, it isn’t actually effective, even if I intend it to be so. And regardless of gender identity, I like to call people what they want to be called.
Would y’all like to weigh in on other complimentary words for butches (or for anyone, for that matter)? What words do you call your butch lover? What words have you found that butches like to be called? What compliments stick?
The last thing we packed up: Mom’s rhubarb-raspberry crumble.
The ferry; our early morning departure from Juneau.
After sleeping on the ferry, we get on the road. Moonscape + roads near Skagway.
Then we got to the Yukon, and got a flat tire. Camped for the night and headed on to the junction the next morning … | Where we got the tire patched. Nothing around for miles.
Stopped for some of the sights. This is the signpost forest in mid-BC
Saw some herds of bison!
Baby bison! | Scenery. Seriously. The road just went on and on and on.
Just … beautiful.
Camped at Laird Hot Springs.
The path to the hot springs | hot springs!
QUINTESSENTIAL ROAD TRIP PHOTO (it’s a smushed bug, for the record, not bird poop. An epicly big bug.)
The driving-to-Alaska bible, aka The Milepost | Mile by mile
Women/men? Rest stop bathroom in southern British Columbia, Canada
I took this just to show you, to make that random reference in My Father’s Son make more sense.
breakfast. every. day.
We didn’t miss the entire berry season! The boy was sooo happy.
blueberries (by the handful!) | blackberries | loganberries
nom nom blueberries | “ohh I don’t feel so good.” | blueberry tummyache!
Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park campsite in Heart O’the Hills, my favorite campsite on the trip. The trees were so huge.
Hammocks are the best | Gourmet camp cooking
Old growth, so beautiful | “Four legged frolic” came up as a word in dirty pictionary (also called Pervartistry). I mean who calls it a four-legged frolic? Well, shit, I’m going to now, that’s for sure. Also, note rife’s drawing skills.
Best breakfast ever! With my good buddy Dr. G in Sequim before we got on the road to Oregon | Arriving in our Oregon hotel, first thing I did was unpack the toys. A real bed! Luxury!
Tree in Oregon farmland
us, somewhere | wine tasting in about four different Oregon vineyards
Sunset while arriving in the Bay Area | Realizing this was the first time I’ve driven after dark in more than six weeks
My late July ten-day trip to Albuquerque and the Jemez Valley in order to go on an advanced retreat was fantastic. I could add thousands of words, but I’ll let these photos speak for themselves.
Follow me on Instagram, mrsexsmith
Rounderwear contacted me offering products for review, and while their bubble-butt gay boy underwear is pretty cute, I wasn’t sure it was for me exactly. Then, the Body Tank sections caught my eye, and I requested to take a look at the Jam Body Tank.
Glad I did. I’ve worn it frequently since it arrived.
I really don’t like full-on compression shirts. They make it hard for me to breathe. They knock the wind outta me after walking a block or two, or up one flight of stairs. They shove my chest up into my collarbone and sometimes make me feel like my neck isn’t free enough, like I’m suffocating. They make my stomach feel all weird (and some other digestion things you probably don’t want to know about). I don’t like the feeling of wearing one.
I sure do like how my silhouette looks when I do, however.
So, I picked up a “muscle shirt” a while ago, which is basically a regular tee shirt on top and then an elastic band that covers the stomach, and I wear that over my usual binder (aka sports bra—my current pick being Enell) when I want to have a smoother silhouette, or when I want to wear a button-down. It’s not as intense as my compression shirt, but it still makes a difference.
This Jam Body Tank is a lot like that, except instead of being half-shirt half-elastic, it’s all elastic. It’s a lot more comfortable than a compression shirt, but it’s not quite as effective. It doesn’t create the same straight(er) lines that a compression shirt does, but it does still help, AND I can breathe! Yes!
Here’s the description from the Rounderwear site:
Seamless compression tank that provides back support and definition to the muscles. Its detailed design and construction help pull back the shoulders, straighten the back and slim down the waist.
92% Polyamide Sorbtek 8% Elastane
• Improves shape and posture
• Slims down
• Reduces back pain
• Controls body temperature
• Machine wash
I don’t feel it pulling back the shoulders or straightening my back, but maybe I already have good posture? Kind of doubt it, since I’ve got a long history of shoulder trouble. I also haven’t noticed any sort of “body temperature” control, but maybe it knows something I don’t.
What does seem to be true is that it “provides support” and “improves shape” and “slims down.” Basically, it’s Spanx for men. And butches, and whomever might want to slim down their curves into a more linear shape.
I’m very glad to have something other than that compression shirt to wear to “slim down” my shape and make it a bit more masculine, especially for long conference days like I had this past weekend. Wearing the compression shirt for a whole day (or two or four days in a row) is hard on my body. I’m glad for the chance to review it, I didn’t realize products like these are out there and I’m going to keep an eye out for more like this.
Oh hey there! So, the BUTCH Voices 2013 conference starts tomorrow. I’m at the conference hotel as I type this, in fact, sending out last minute press details and doing last minute updates to the website.
Speaking of the website …
Doesn’t it look fantastic? I’ve been managing the Media Team throughout the summer, but the last three weeks we have been in FULL high gear, with details and edits and errors and last minute additions. I’m so very grateful to all the people who have been putting in many hours to put the polish on the media presence. THANK YOU Miriam, rife, Roma Mafia, Amber, Angela, Broch, Kaye, B, and Tootie for all of the hours of work you put in.
I’ve been learning management in a trial-by-fire kind of way … I have only managed in small ways in the past, with some personal service relationships and some intern management experience, so this has been intense. I did hire a couple of interns for the summer, also, but because I’ve been traveling and so insanely crazy with all the things I’ve been doing for BUTCH Voices, I have barely had a chance to delegate tasks yet. I have a lot of ideas, though, and I’m really looking forward to getting back to my own tasks, writing more smut, launching my coaching business, and finishing some of the projects that I’m really excited about.
I’m really looking forward to the conference. Now that my job of setting up all the media is almost—almost—done, I can actually enjoy some of the amazing things that are going on. We’ve got a big Kick Off party tonight with an ally performance, a welcome from an Oakland city councilperson, an artist’s reception, and a meet and greet; and then tomorrow the workshops start, and the first keynote happens, and there are community dinners and a film night; Saturday is a BUTCH Nation performance in the evening after the first keynote and a day of workshops; and Sunday there’s a spoken word show (that I am performing in!) and the closing party. Whew!
So after that, what’s next? Well … I keep saying, “I’m (we’re) going to Disneyland!” And while I’m half-joking, I’ve also been having conversations about what my personal “Disneyland” might be, what it means as a metaphor.
Did I mention that I just signed a lease for an apartment in Oakland? Yeah, so I live in the Bay Area now. That’s kind of a big deal, though it’s also kind of overshadowed by this giant national conference. So part of my personal Disneyland in the weeks to come is going to be settling in to my new place, getting unpacked, going to estate sales and thrift stores and finding some key comfortable furniture, and then getting back to my own work. I’m really excited to set up the new apartment, and I really like it, it’s part of a house, really big and has beautiful old wood, was built in 1901, and it has a yard! I can’t wait to start growing things in the ground, that’s perhaps the most exciting part. I definitely have some shock about being in a new place. After traveling near constantly since January (or since last fall, really), I have kind of gotten used to being on the road. But now, it’s starting to hit me what I left behind in New York, how I completely disassembled the household I built for almost ten years there, how many things I just got rid of, cutthroat-style, and how much I am still grieving for that loss. It’s starting to stare me in the face in a different way.
I’m also going to be extremely focused on my own self-care for a while, and keep asking myself, “What would feel pleasurable for my body right now?” I’m really excited to be having some new ventures planted and just beginning to grow, and I can’t wait to reveal them to you, and to write more. I miss writing. I have loved management and event planning and identity politics and wording and branding and all the things that went into this media, but I miss putting stories together.
Disclaimer: This story includes some Daddy/boy lines and dirty cocksucking. Read it through at your own pleasure.
The first day I get back from the business trip, I call you into my office every hour on the hour for something. Water with ice and lemon. Print these documents and collate. But the requests get more interesting as the day goes by.
“Kneel for ten minutes in the corner.” I point without looking up after you enter the room. I don’t have to explain the parameters of kneeling, as you know the position (butt off your ankles, hands behind your back) and what you’re supposed to do (meditating on the concepts of submission and being owned). You’ve done this before, frequently. I don’t ask you to hold a piece of paper to the wall with your nose (this time).
You leave, and I call you back fifty minutes later. “Under the desk,” I tell you, my jeans already unzipped.
“That’s right. That’s good, baby.” And you choke me down and sputter thank you with big watery helpless eyes. I groan and push your head back down.
“Uh huh. I know you like it. You beg for it an thank me after, little one. But this isn’t for you. Just for me. Daddy needs this. Do it right. That’s good. Fuck. Good boy.” You start swelling up and moaning with each cool sucking breath. I know you want it. I know this is what you’re for, and so do you. I shove it in, feeling myself tighten, that delicious pressure building from deep.
“No boy, not for you. Don’t come, son. You better not. Little slave boy. I need you hard. Don’t fucking do it. Just suck it. I’m almost there. I need you to take a little more for me. Just … a little …” I groan and we feel the tremors move through us both. It would be easy for you to come when I do, but you hold yourself tight and let it pass over and around you.
When I’m done, you’ve swallowed every drop.
Your lips are swollen, throat still contracting and a little raw. You’re hard, but your boxers are dry. Good boy. I grab your package roughly as my breathing evens out. “Good boy. I like you like this. On edge all day. Hard for Daddy. Maybe I’ll let you, later.” I zip up my fly and kiss you, fisting your hair before turning back to my desk. “God, you’re good. Go get me a glass of water.”
And you do. Quickly, quietly, beaming all the way.
Featured image courtesy of Indie Porn Revolution
I’m ripe with danger and loss. Others have told me I hold violence like I’m cultivating a babygreen seedling, but I never believed them until now. You could try to pluck me from the tree but it takes no force, I will fall off into your hand. Don’t make a fist, juice will spill down to your elbow, stain more than any wine. And then the loss of limbs, branches destroyed by beetles and careless swings of an axe. A bronzed arm over the mantle because I asked you for it, and you said okay.
Harbor: choose anything but harbor—more like a cauldron. We boil and toil and burn from the inside out. I am no refuge, no dirty inlet with a dike sheltering from sea monsters. I am the sea monster, I am the barnacles on the underbelly you have to dry dock to deal with. I thought I was more for you than you ever received from any cracker jack box, more than a surprise plastic toy, don’t you know how to decipher my usage? But I lost the instruction manual long before we met. Threw it into the surf. Burned it at fahrenheit 451. My trees grow weary of giving up their paper so easily, but they have nothing else to give.
You gave me bloodlust, a hunger for the darkest taste of me, and there’s no turning back. I can’t undo the danger I offered up, my ripe organs eager for your piercing. Give me more. Open up an apple sideways so the seeds make a star. Dive into the honey thick with bees and sunshine. Liquid greens, that color of new growth, any time the daffodils die and birds start turning one glassy eye to the tundra of the north. Come to where the herring are abundant, bubbles caught in the air waiting to explode in a gaping yawp of need. Don’t we all have it, that bottomlessness, that sexy darkness that links back to when we were born. Birth is the real loss of the only time we are truly one with another. Isn’t that, under it all, the only thing anyone ever wants?
The third biennial national BUTCH Voices conference happens August 15-18 in Oakland, CA, and we are looking for awesome things that our conference attendees would want to know about.
Who are our conference attendees? Butches, AGs, studs, tombois, and all sorts of masculine of center identities, and a huge range of folks who want to spend some days talking about those kinds of identities. Largely queer, but not entirely.
Do you have:
– Flyers for your newest project?
– A little gifty item that could go in our conference swag bag?
– An exciting win for the BV raffle?
– Some amazing products to vend at the conference?
We want ‘em!
Or maybe you want to take out an ad in the program? Heck yeah!
Deadlines are fast approaching, so let’s get going with this if you want to be involved. Contact [email protected] to sign up and arrange the details.
Press passes and press kits are available if you’d like to cover the conference for your media outlet.
I’ve got way too many photos from this last week, and not enough time online to upload them and show them off to you. So I’m letting the “likes” be my guide this time, and any with more than 6 likes on Instagram are included.
Here’s some of the most favorite shots from my last week in Juneau. Follow me on Instagram for many more, and will post the rest of last week’s road trip soon.
After weeks of near-perfect weather, it poured for two days. It is a temperate rain forest, after all. AND: Instagram now does video! I never quite got into Vine, but I am pretty excited about Instagram’s video capabilities.
Salmonberries | Fresh rhubarb from my mom’s garden
the dog. in a box.
Douglas mountain … I think this one is Thunder? | Last Frontier Reindeer Sausages | Sunset on the walk home
Freshest fish at Twisted Fish restaurant
Little golden waterfall in the forest near the Brotherhood Trail. Love the rainforest sounds.
Forest near the glacier, Brotherhood Trail | Twisted fallen-down tree
Montage of color & texture from the Brotherhood Trail walk
The folks who march for peace and the Pride folks joined forces and marched with equality banners and origami paper cranes
The Fourth is the biggest holiday in Juneau, with the entire town coming out to watch the fireworks at midnight on the 3rd of July (because it doesn’t get dark enough until after midnight) and the parade on the 4th.
Rife had a sandcastle planned for the Sandy Beach sandcastle 4th of July contest before we even arrived in Juneau—lucky for him, we saw about four different porcupines before the 4th, so he was eagerly ready to design this one. The sad part was that the contest was cancelled, but we went down to the beach to build it anyway and there were a dozen or so others there, too. | If I’d been judging, this one would have been first place.
Treadwell Mine ruins
Detail of skunk cabbage
On the ferry, as it pulled out of Juneau at 7am, on the way to Skagway to begin the drive through British Columbia again.
There’s much more from the next few days, but I’ll save that for a part two of this post, since my internet connection is slow and precarious and I have plenty more.
“Have you ever witnessed a green growing thing and wondered why it could grow so effortlessly? is it possible for YOU to grow that effortlessly? How do you channel the force that drives the seedling toward the sun? Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be more at home in your own skin? Have you wondered what embodiment is, or really feels like? Have you desired to have deeper experiences of pleasure, joy, and ecstasy?”
That’s the beginning of the description for my new workshop, Pleasure Lab, co-taught with Amy Butcher. It’s an “embodiment” workshop—meaning, feeling deeper into one’s own body, expanding the senses, getting in touch with desires and pleasure, and encouraging more aliveness. We will spend quite a bit of time creating a safe circle to play within, exploring our own boundaries, and really feeling into our yesses and nos before we build to offering some supportive, healing touch to each other.
That sounds less fun than it’s actually going to be, though. We’re going to offer all sorts of experiments that are juicy and thought-provoking and heart-centered and we’re going to take risks and dive deep into ourselves and learn all sorts of embodiment concepts that we can take home with us, to our partners or friends or lovers or whomever.
It’s a half-day workshop, from 12-5pm, Sunday, July 21st in Albuquerque, New Mexico. $50 donation requested, no one turned away for lack of funds.
PLEASURE LAB: An embodiment workshop with Amy Butcher & Sinclair Sexsmith
Sunday, July 21st, 2013
12-5 pm in Albuquerque, NM
Cost: $50 donation requested (no one turned away for lack of funds; please contact Kat at [email protected] to discuss) space is limited; pre-registration is encouraged.
Pre-registration available at: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/6909818453# or contact Kat.
What is the Pleasure Lab?
Have you ever witnessed a green growing thing and wondered why it could grow so effortlessly? is it possible for YOU to grow that effortlessly? How do you channel the force that drives the seedling into the sun? Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be more at home in your own skin? Have you wondered what embodiment is, or really feels like? Have you desired to have deeper experiences of pleasure, joy, and ecstasy?
Come explore with us.
Come to this master workshop and begin to harvest the erotic knowledge in your body. Through experimentation, we’ll learn tools to be deeply present in our bodies, to feel the powerful connection between genitals, heart, and mind.
This program will help you tap into the nutrient rich soil of erotic play which will help fuel your erotic self-discovery, compassion, and self-confidence. Explore a variety of playful experiential exercises to increase embodiment while respecting everyone’s boundaries. Learn some simple games and tools to feel erotic energy, build connection to your desires, and feel more alive and at home in your body, and experience the taboo power of sharing this exploration within community. All exercises will be clothes-on, and any touch is optional and always consensual.
When completing this workshop, participants wishing for more will have a grasp on the skills used in the Celebrating the Body Erotic workshops offered by the Body Electric School (thebodyelectricschool.com).
The Pleasure Lab workshop is open to women, trans, and genderqueer identified people, regardless of ability, ethnicity, class, or experience. The Source is fully accessible. Food will not be provided but we will have breaks; bring a snack if you may need one. Please wear comfortable clothes that are easy for you to move in, and bring a water bottle and a journal.
About the Facilitators:
Amy Butcher (amybutcher.com) and Sinclair Sexsmith (mrsexsmith.com) met at a tantra retreat in 2009 and have worked together for deeper embodiment and gender liberation ever since. They both work with the Body Electric School, study erotic energy, and write smut.
About the coordinator:
Kat Heatherington is poet, artist, polyamorous ecofeminist pagan, with a background in literature, who lives in a sustainable intentional community south of Albuquerque, Sunflower River. She has been studying with the Body Electric School since 2010.
BUTCH Voices 2013 national conference postcards are here! Rife designed them, and I love how they turned out.
Now, we just have to get ‘em out into the world. And that’s where YOU come in. We are forming Street Teams in the Bay Area in California as well as in all the cities where we held Community Conversations in 2012-2013: Dallas, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Toronto.
If you are in one of those cities and want to help out, here’s what you’ll get:
- Big thank you from BUTCH Voices!
- Volunteer hour credit: 4 hours of volunteering = ticket to one day’s worth of the BV 2013 conference.
- The fuzzy-inside feeling you get when you’re helping to build community. Aww.
Contact the Volunteer Coordinators to volunteer, at [email protected].
Press release follows:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PLEASE FORWARD WIDELY
Contact: Sinclair Sexsmith
Media representative, BUTCH Voices
+1 (917) 475-6316
Opportunities available with BUTCH Voices: 2013 Street Teams!
June 24, 2013
Oakland, CA: BUTCH Voices, the organization which will host its third national conference August 15-18, 2013, in Oakland, California, has opportunities for volunteers to distribute flyers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area in July.
“Volunteers for BUTCH Voices can volunteer in exchange for comped days at the conference,” said Meg McEachin, BV board member, “but Street Team members can rack up volunteer time before the conference even starts. For four hours of volunteer time, we’ll give you a one-day ticket to the conference; for eight hours, two days.”
“It’s a great way to give support and a helping hand to the organization,” Meg added, “and for folks to get financial assistance to attend the conference.”
BUTCH Voices Street Teams are being formed in Dallas, Seattle, Portland, Toronto, Boston, New York, San Francisco, and Oakland. “We’ll have Street Teams in all cities where 2012-2013 BUTCH Voices Community Conversations took place,” said Meg.
People interested in participating in Street Teams should contact the Volunteer Coordinators at [email protected]. Postcard-sized flyers will be provided to you by mail and you must have them distributed by the beginning of August.
BUTCH Voices expects more than 300 attendees for the conference. More information can be found at www.butchvoices.com. Further inquiries can be sent to Sinclair Sexsmith, Media Board Chair, at [email protected]
Gold Rush Days! The loggers and miners competition
Kids playing in the dirt pile | Log rolling competition
It’s been gorgeous here. For weeks.
There isn’t a pride parade, but we did attend the Southeast Alaska Gay & Lesbian Association (SEAGLA) pride picnic!
Treadwell mine ruins in Douglas
Sandy beach, near the mine ruins
Rife’s hands are small, but the leaves here are sometimes gargantuan. They seem prehistoric. This is a cow parsnip leaf, they are wild and overgrown everywhere (and cause rashes when exposed to the sap inside the stalks). | Happy 62nd birthday to my mom!
Supermoon. I couldn’t capture it with my iphone camera, but it was a stunning sight down the channel from the bridge, just over the Taku mountains, so bright and yellow and looking even more huge because of the moon illusion
Old growth forest on the walk to Outer Point | Younger forest from the beach
Outer point on Douglas, the northern most tip of the island
The boy | & the dog are loving it here
Alaskan brewing company beer cap with the beach rocks
There was a thunderstorm after we came back in from Outer Point—this is the storm moving in, it’s only about 6pm so the sun won’t set for four or five more hours, but the dark clouds overhead made the sun far away look so dramatic. Thunderstorms are very rare here! All this gorgeous weather, and that kind of sky … global warming is real, man.
And then, OH YEAH, Prop 8 was thrown out of the SCOTUS, and the 3rd part of DOMA was repealed! Nbd … !! We went out to one of the bars to meet a high school friend of mine to borrow her xtra tufs where she was celebrating the DOMA news with a handfull of friends. Kimberly + Marguerite made the “equalipussy” (shown here) and hung it, we did shots and talked about marriage and laws and other gay things. | Here’s the xtra tufs I borrowed (thanks V!) to go on a 3.4-mile hike into a cabin on Point Bridget, which is pretty much the northern most point that Juneau’s road extends.
I took SO many photos on the Blue Mussel cabin camping trip, most of which are still unprocessed on my iphone, that I think I’m going to do a round 2 of This Week In Photos … it’s been a beautiful, outdoorsy, adventurous week.
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At the Northern Exposure kink conference in Anchorage earlier this month, Sarha, our 2013 IMsL and one of the producers of the contest, asked if I’d like to do a short performance set during her weekend finale, the seven deadly sins dinner.
I was lucky enough to land on “lust.” So after a salad (course of envy), halibut, perfect creamed potatoes, and asparagus, the strawberries with melted chocolate came out, and they called me up to the stage.
“The Right One”
These poems are actually kind of … well, old. I wrote them early on when I was living in Seattle, which was probably at least ten years ago now. They’re both on my spoken word album For the Record which was released in 2005 (and is online through bandcamp if you want to listen to it or buy it). The first piece, “Gender Architecture,” is also known as “the boots piece,” and there are some parts of my theories about gender that I’m not sure I still agree with exactly … no, it’s not that I disagree, maybe it’s just that I wouldn’t put it that way, at this point. The second piece is still one of my favorites to perform, especially because of the way the beginning starts, where it’s made to sound like I’m just still casually talking to the audience but then I launch into the poem. It’s kind of a surprise that way. And when the audience energy is good, it’s so, so sexy.
I’d really like to do more spoken word. Adding that to the list, and trying to strip away other things that aren’t as satisfying.
As I’ve been exploring deeper into power theory, like D/s and M/s, and as I’ve been trying to understand how my relationship with Kristen went wrong and in what ways power played into that, I’ve been thinking more and more about responsibility.
I’ve been meditating on the basics: What is it? How does it work? How does one “take responsibility”? What kind of responsibilities does one have—as a partner, as a lover, as a Daddy, as a dominant, as a friend? How does responsibility shift and changes when circumstances are not ideal, such as when someone is grieving (you know, hypothetically)?
Raven Kaldera and Joshua Tenpenny, whose books on M/s I have been recently devouring and whose theories I astutely agree with, mention in one of their books that a dominant’s hunger for responsibility must be equal to or greater than their hunger and lust for power. That resonated deeply with me, so I have been chewing on how to act from a responsible place, how to behave responsibly, how to hunger for responsibility, how to be responsible with my power.
We commonly use “responsibility” to mean our obligations—the things we have agreed to do, or the things other people have put on us to do that we may or may not have agreed to—and how we cope with those obligations. It is my responsibility as a cat owner to make sure my cat is fed, for example.
But when it comes to interpersonal relationships, what our responsibilities are vary greatly from person to person, and from culture to culture. My responsibilities to my parents might mean, to me, calling them on their birthdays and going to visit once a year, but to another person, their responsibilities to their parents might be visiting them every day, or might be sending one holiday card annually. Same with lovers and partners: I might think my responsibility is to respond to texts or emails from lovers is to respond when I can get to it, but my lover might think it rude and irresponsible of me not to reply right away (especially when now, with iMessage, you can see when your texts have been read). I suspect some of the expectations in relationships are built on our love languages (quality time, acts of service, gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation).
The expectations we place upon responsibilities of those around us are often unspoken and unconscious, and therefore difficult to make clear. Making those clear is a key piece of good communication, I believe.
But that’s just one piece. We also use the word “responsibility” to talk about one’s behavior in any given situation, such as, “They’re not being very responsible,” or, “they’re not acting very responsibly.”
I started breaking down the word responsibility into its two parts: response and ability. Response-ability. And that led me to my first conclusion about it: responsibility is your ability to respond to any given situation. But how does one “respond”?
Most of the time, I think we are reacting, not responding. Reacting is the knee-jerk impulse our combination of body, mind, experiences, emotions, and self tells us to have. We get an email from a boss with some critique, we feel insulted. Our lover asks something taxing of us, we feel put out. Not everybody has the same reaction, of course—depending on our unique histories, unique bodies, unique patternings, we react in different ways; many of us have different reactions to the same emotions, too. Some people feel insulted and fight back, some people feel insulted and become paralyzed, some people feel insulted and run away.
I think that responsibility is your ability to take the reaction you have, process it through your thoughtful higher self who wants the best for everyone involved and can see many perspectives, and choose your response and your next actions intentionally.
Let me put that another way. My ability to respond well to a situation, to be responsible in my role or job or relationship, depends upon my ability to notice my knee-jerk reaction and use that as one piece of the data that I gather before I decide what to do next. Other pieces of data you could use as you analyze the situation include:
- What would the high wise imaginary counsel inside your head, made up of all of your mentors and favorite people, advise you to do?
- What would your counsel of very favorite people advise you to do? (Perhaps you should call them to ask?)
- What would the best possible outcome for all people be?
- What would you say if you were really telling the truth about this situation?
- How do your ethics ascribe you to behave?
- What would yourself in ten years say about this situation?
- How do your spiritual or religious beliefs guide you in this quandary?
- Where are the places where your ego, pride, or stoicism are getting in the way?
- Where can you use your great strength to be more vulnerable in this situation?
- Where do you feel this pain, sorrow, longing, anger, or frustration in your body?
- What does your bodywork or therapy point you toward?
I’ve been chewing on this difference, between reaction and response-ability, for at least a year now, trying to figure out how to be sure I am exploring what it means to be responsible with the privilege and power that I hold. Because, as the cliche saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility,” and as I’ve been seeking more and more great power, I want to make sure I have the great responsibility part down as well. I don’t think “responsibility” dictates a code of behavior specifically so much as it dictates an intentional response, and that is a comfort to me, as I try to continue to sort our my own wounds, heal my own heartache, and continue to pursue my lust for power.
From last week—false outer point beach in Douglas. My phone was dead, so this shot is what rife took. My favorite beach.
Downtown Juneau evening walk. “Welcome to Juneau” sign on the cruise ship docks | 10:30pm dinner at the Warf (that’s mint ice cream “grasshopper” pie)
Perseverence Trail up the Silver Bow Basin, where the first mine in Juneau was constructed. It was warm! | Using the water filter for glacial run off. Probably not necessary, but it wouldn’t hurt. Also, it was delicious.
Us (bugs love hair product so I have mostly gone naked …) | Waterfall at the end of the trail | Shale
The view down the basin from a rock slide
Mica in the rocks | The pool above Ebner Falls
End of the trail (the bridge was out)
View from my mom’s house of downtown Juneau | Rearranging the kitchen! Our big home project this week
Whale Watching! The day was grey but still beautiful | Out on the water
We saw some amazing things, the whales were so playful and we saw them bubble net feeding, tail lobbing, and even two breaching whales right next to our boat! Unfortunately this is the best photo I snapped, but I was looking with my eye more than photographing anything.
The different flukes of the whales commonly seen in Juneau | Post whale watching beer tasting & tour at the Alaskan Beer Company
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Finally! I’ve been working a lot on my management skills lately, and one of the reasons behind learning that skill is to have an intern help me with some of the maintenance of my job that I either can’t get to or that is time consuming and keeps me from what I really should be doing, which is writing more smut.
So here’s the write-up that I came up with. I made a form to submit as an application (resumes are not required, but you can email them to me if you’d like to supplement your application with one).
Summer internship will be July – September, for three months, and then we will decide if we want to keep working together of if I should reopen the application and work with someone new.
Perks include free sex toys, books, and DVDs for review and for personal pleasure, as well as skills, learning, training, experience, and references.
Who I am: Sinclair Sexsmith, mrsexsmith.com and sugarbutch.net. Writer, educator and coach in the sex, gender, and relationships fields; works with queer, genderqueer, trans, butch/femme, and transformational communities interested in personal growth and social change in the fields of queer literature, sexuality education, blogging, and erotic embodiment.
Time commitment: Approximately 5-10 hours a week, minimum of 5. Weekly check-ins. Schedule is flexible. Internship will run for three months and we’ll decide if we want to continue or not.
Location: Telecommuting interns welcome. Must have access to the internet. Slight preference given to Bay Area residents so we can meet in person occasionally.
Projects include, but are not limited to:
– event production & creation
– booking workshops, gigs, clients
– blog maintenance
– editing, proofreading, copywriting
– prioritizing and replying to email
– graphics creation
– social media and marketing
– networking and contacts
– ebook editing, formatting, production
– maintain contact, keeping in touch regularly
– meet deadlines
– have an eye for detail
– catch grammar and spelling typos
– be able to do internet research
– be capable of basic web design (photoshop skills, HTML, wordpress, newsletter creation)
– have access to Gmail, google documents, gchat, Skype
Compensation: Experience and training in the fields above; products for fun and review; references. Willing to work with your school to get you college credit.
Bonus if you are good with graphics creation, back end domain maintenance, if you are skilled at video or sound editing, or press releases, if you have good visions and suggestions for making systems run more smoothly.
Apply online at http://bit.ly/1av4dRu
In early May, I posted a request for donations to help me get on my feet and keep me writing, and promised a special smut sponsor story if you donated $25 or more.
That was more than a month ago, and I finally sent the story. It’s a dirty Daddy/boy story with force play, consensual nonconsent, ass fucking, dirty talk, and age play (all characters are over 18 and playing consensually).
The special bonus smut story is a little late. I got all inspired and touched and eager to write after your slew of donations (thank you, thank you), and life is still getting in the way of writing here regularly. I’m trying to polish the “business” that I have apparently started, and I haven’t quite been able to implement all I need to yet. So that’s still … and blah blah blah I’ve said that a dozen times. Sinclair, repeat after me: I’m writing more smut. I’m writing more smut.
Without further ado:
Excerpt from “Curfew”
- “Please, Sir. Don’t be mad. Am I in trouble?” You touch my thighs gently with your hands, a request, making clear, open eye contact. Your lips tremble a little.
You’re not in trouble, not really. But I’m mad and hard, and there you are. Who’s going to stop me? You’re my boy, after all.
“Take it out.”
You hesitate. “Sir, I have to … I just want to go to bed.”
I fist your hair, the length on top I make you keep long enough for me to grab. “Now,” I hiss in your ear, “Or don’t you want to be able to breathe while you do it? Don’t make me pinch your nose shut, boy.”
You swallow. I can see your neck move from how I’m pulling your head back. Exposed. If I had my knife on me I’d slide it right to that ripple under your jaw, see if I could make the faintest of red appear. If I had to.
So that’s a little taste of that. Much more to come.
From the BV press release:
BUTCH Voices third national conference has extended our call for proposals to June 21st, 2013. We are currently seeking workshops submissions of all kinds, and in all formats: films, performances, skill shares, readings, meditation, and movement—anything and everything that addresses the cultural, sexual, emotional, physical, and psychological relationships that arise in the lives of butches, studs, tombois, aggressives, machas, etc. We are open to all perspectives–queer, feminist, womanist, neither or beyond! We particularly encourage proposals by and for people-over sixty, under twenty-one, by and for the working-class, people of color, and persons with disabilities.
“We have incredible submissions so far,” said Joe LeBlanc, conference founder and board chair. “We have received so many authentic, solid, and heart resonating responses that we want to leave the window open just a bit longer.”
The BUTCH Voices National Conference, happening at the Marriott Oakland City Center in Oakland, California on August 15-18, 2013, has happened twice before and boasted community conversations and regional conferences between national conferences. Each national conference has brought together hundreds of people to discuss issues related to masculine of center identities.
“There is currently a thread on our facebook page,” said Sinclair Sexsmith, media chair of the BUTCH Voices board, “discussing what kind of workshops the attendees would still love to see happen. Ideas range from latino/a butch identity to butch trans women to butch fashion to youth to allyship to hairstyles. We are expecting a wide range of offerings at the third conference. As always, the programming committee’s choices will center around our three initiatives: community building, social and economic justice, and physical and mental health. But there will be a lot of fun, playful things thrown in there, too.”
The full call for proposals is on the BUTCH Voices website at http://www.butchvoices.com/call-for-proposals .
BUTCH Voices expects more than 300 attendees for the weekend gathering in August. More information can be found at www.butchvoices.com.
I’m behind on the pictures post this week evacuee the Northern Exposure conference took up all of my weekend, and then their after party of adventures around Anchorage took up all of yesterday. I’m on a plane right now heading back to Juneau, so here’s the photo essay version of this art week.
Pulse! The annual Body Electric advanced women’s retreat is coming up at the end of July, and I’ve been working on it a lot this past week | Rand Leather wrist cuff (review to come)
cruise ships in downtown Juneau
sunset looking toward the valley. We watched four bald eagles fishing in the harbor while also watching the sun set around 10pm | the boy mowed the lawn (we’re doing a lot of house chores to earn our keep)
Mendenhall Glacier | Mendenhall lake and icebergs
the boy on the sandbar
rainforest | Devil’s club forest
Lupine in the meadow on the Boy Scout Camp hike
Friends walked out to the sandbar as the tide was going out | the boy carved an otter
From the plane flying into Anchorage … Chugak mountains, I think? On the way to Northern Exposure!
Welcome to Northern Exposure! | ha ha | Cleis Press’s contribution to the Northern Exposure vendor room
Epic brunch at Gwennie’s | the Northern Exposure afterparty! We all piled into cars after brunch and took a drive down one of the “most beautiful drives in the US”, Turnagain Arm. This is Beluga point
the Big Game Wildlife Refuge at the end of the Turnagain Arm drive
Baby musk ox | brown bears
the Big Game Wildlife Refuge musk ox
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I’m catching a plane tomorrow for Anchorage, where the third annual Northern Exposure kink conference will be taking place.
NE is run by Sarha, who was just sashed International Ms. Leather 2013 at the IMsL weekend and contest in April in San Francisco. I was on the judging panel for this year’s IMsL contest, and while I promise I didn’t play favorites (Alaska rules!), I’m thrilled that my home state is representing the leather community this year, and I’m really excited to participate in the conference she produces.
The lineup looks pretty incredible. Though NE is remote, Sarha has attracted an incredible group of presenters who are teaching on a wide array of advanced topics. I’m particularly interested in the many M/s workshops that are offered, and I suspect I’ll be sitting in on as many of those as I can, taking copious notes. That’s a recent study subject of mine that I am really enjoying delving deeper into. I’m also really excited that Midori is presenting! I have been in classes of hers before, but it’s been many years, and I’m looking forward to learning from her. Lee Harrington is also going to be teaching!
Northern Exposure happens to coincide with Pride fest, so Sarha hooked me up with the folks over there, and I’m going to be teaching Writing Dirty, my skills for writing about sex class, on Thursday night (tomorrow!). I’m up against Drag Queen Bingo, so I suspect it might be a small class, but I hope we’ll have some good discussions and write some interesting sentences. I LOVE teaching writing classes, and often the ideal class number is something like 7-12, so I will be very happy with a small class.
The boy is coming with me. We’ve met at leather conferences before, but aside from IMsL in April, we haven’t actually come and gone from one together. And at IMsL, we didn’t get to play much (you know, just once or twice a day for short scenes, no big epic gang bang like at Winter Fire, no long, elaborate scene like at last year’s IMsL. I’m glad he’ll be there with me. I’m only teaching one class, Cock Confidence, aside from the writing class for Alaska Pride, so I should have some really nice time to play.
(Hopefully I’ll come back with some good stories to tell y’all.)
And, speaking of IMsL.
International Ms. Leather 2013 Sarha and International Ms. Bootblack 2013 bella join the IMsL and IMsBB alumni on stage at this year’s contest and leather weekend
I’d never judged a leather contest before. I attended IMsL the year before, but I’m not particularly familiar with leather contests. I’ve been more and more involved with the leather scene in the past few years, attending more leather conferences, events, and happy hours, and participating in more conversations online about leather and reading up on leather history and culture, but I’ve only recently really come to understand the difference between BDSM, kink, and leather, which, though related, are slightly different.
I’ve been kinky since as long as I can remember, adding sensation play and power dynamics to my friendships, playtimes, and interactions since my first adolescent sexual experimentations, and probably even a bit before that. I’ve considered myself part of the BDSM communities since … well, at least formally since about 1999 when I got my official membership to the SPCC, the Sex Positive Community Center (now the Center for Sex Positive Culture) in Seattle. But I’d only ever really gone to classes or events to gain a particular skill to take back to my bedroom—I never really stuck around in the leather community.
Until recently. Really it was Dark Odyssey that started me on that path in a significant way. I thought I was familiar with leather culture and the kink/BDSM worlds, but when I started teaching more at leather events, I experienced how different it really was, and realized how I’d longed for leather community even without knowing it. I was on the board of the Lesbian Sex Mafia in New York City around that time, too—clearly seeking some more kinky community, not just to support my own kinky efforts but also to immerse myself in and learn new, different things.
I found a lot of what I was seeking at Dark Odyssey, and I found a lot of people who really felt like my people in a new way. (I’m kind of sad to be missing Fusion, which is next week! But it was either Fusion or Northern Exposure, and I’m so glad to be in Alaska right now. I don’t know if I’ll make it to Summer Camp in Maryland in September, but I would really like to. I’ve been two years in a row and I’ll miss it if I’m not there.)
So when I ran into Glenda Ryder, who runs IMsL, at Summer Camp last summer, I was thrilled to consider the possibility of being a judge for IMsL 2013. I knew very little about the history of leather contests, what it pertains, what a judge would do (aside from the obvious, duh), but I’d attended once (and watched almost exactly 20 minutes of the contest) and was interested in being more involved with leather culture, so I said yes.
The judges judging | The judges brief moment in the spotlight, onstage, when they introduced us
I spent more time with the judges panel than anyone else that weekend, and they were lovely people I’m thrilled to know. (One of my favorite activities was passing dirty fairy tale stories back and forth with Tillie during the contest.) It was great to spend some time with KD Diamond, and Sarah Vibes, both of whom I know from New York, and to meet Woody, the current International Mr. Leather, and hear more about the traditions of leather, fundraising, queerness, and history.I spent so much time at the contest part of the conference itself that weekend in April that I barely had time to do much else—I didn’t attend any of the workshops, though I wish I had. I did send my boy to attend a power exchange relationships class called “Exploring and Deepening M/s, D/s and PowerExchange Relationships” taught by Liza and Jody, which was excellent, from what he relayed, and he took many interesting notes and gathered some concepts we still discuss. I also participated in a author’s meet and greet with Mollena, Laura Antoniou, and Tillie King (one of my fellow judges), hosted by Mr. and Ms. SF Leather, where we read some snippets of our work (and got to see many of the literarily-inclined folks at the conference congregate in one place, which totally got me hard).
Oh! And, here’s a quick sidenote: Laura Antoniou read from her most recent book, The Killer Wore Leather, which is a murder mystery set at a leather contest conference weekend. I picked up the audiobook on Audible.com for the long 5-day drive through Canada to Alaska, and Rife and I have been listening to it and really enjoying it. The reader is excellent, and the story is really fun. It’s kind of amazing to see our community through an outsider’s lens, and it’s also a very tight insider’s satire. If you want to know more about leather community, this book is definitely a fun place to start. Full review to come when we finally finish the book.I also taught a Flirting & Foreplay class, for which Rife designed a little IMsL flirting bingo card, which was a fantastic hit. I want to do that again, and I think all leather conferences should have a flirting bingo card in their conference bags.
I don’t have tons to say about the actual contest itself, aside from that it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed being behind the scenes but still in an important role as a judge, as someone described it to me that weekend. I don’t always want to have attention on me, but I do like to be important, somehow, so that felt good. I thought the contestants were incredibly well spoken, all had very impressive resumes (and formal leather), and had both new young spunkiness and wise experience from many years of serving and guiding and participating in these communities. I learned a lot.
I’d prefer to go to more classes, and I’m looking forward to being more of a participant at Northern Exposure this coming weekend than I will be working. I hope to have some fun, learn some things, and have lots of conversations about what it’s like to be kinky in Alaska.
I’ve got lots more things to say about Sarha and how she won (she won!) on an excellent platform about outreach to leather in little towns and not just big cities, how she excited (and kinda scared) everyone with her black bear fur lined chaps (where do you think leather comes from, folks?) and how it felt to have my Alaskan identity coming together with my queer and kink identities, too. I could talk about the MC and how unimpressed I was with her racist jokes (just because you “make fun of everybody” does not exclude you from racism). I could talk about the beautiful redhead who had a pet girl on a leash with her all weekend, and a new friendship and relationship that has bloomed from a distance. But this post is already 1600 words long, and it’s time to go to bed, even though it’s 10:44pm and the sky is still light.
It’s going to be even lighter in Anchorage. I’m really looking forward to soaking up all the midnight sun I possibly can.
(Official conference photos by Rich Trove, thanks Rich!, except for the instagram ones taken by me.)
Kelli Dunham was in New York City last week at the Lambda Literary Foundation‘s annual award ceremony, the Lammys, to honor the latest best in LGBT literature. Cheryl’s book My Awesome Place won the lammy in the bisexual literature category.
Kelli wrote that it was “beautiful and horrible:” “Beautiful, of course, because it was well deserved and because it was made possible by all of you, who have worked and loved the book into existence. And horrible because Cheryl wasn’t there.”
I just keep hearing Cheryl’s voice in my head, in the sentence after she told me that the odd medical things she’s been looking into were the worst that they suspected, that it was cancer. “I am getting a book deal,” were her exact next words.
Here’s what Kelli said at the award ceremony:
“My Awesome Place details Cheryl’s long and sometimes difficult search for community, the very community that brought this book to life; the forethought of her friend Sarah Schulman to prompt “tell Cheryl I’m willing to be her literary executor, to get her book out” This was a query answered with “yeah duh of course” accompanied by classic Cheryl eyeroll; the community of Cheryl’s writers’ group, Anne Elliott, Maria Luisa Tucker and Virginia Vitzthum who had worked with the manuscript for years and put together a largely completed version for Sarah to edit; community in the form of Tom Léger and the brilliant folks at Topside Press, Riley MacLeod and Zoe Holmes, who took a chance on an author they knew would not be doing anything to promote her own book, and Julie Blair whose design made My Awesome Place as beautiful as Cheryl herself; community in the form of her friends, who have blogged and posted and emailed to get the word out about the book knowing that there is an artsy freak teenager trying to escape New Jersey, a women somewhere struggling with sobriety, and a smarty pants bisexual girl living on Staten Island, all who think they are alone, and who will read My Awesome Place and know they are not. Every day when Cheryl was her sickest, I prayed to a god I no longer believe in for a miracle. Perhaps this book is the miracle, the miracle of like minded, similar souled people, who believed that her words matter and cared enough to be present through the beautiful discomfort of bringing her words to life.” —Kelli Dunham
Please do read the book if you haven’t already. There’s an easy Kindle version, if you do that kind of thing, and the hardcover is beautiful. I’m grateful to Topside Press for publishing it, and grateful to Cheryl’s writer’s group who put together the final manuscript.