The “Butch Buddy” Movie

Did you ever see the film By Hook Or By Crook? When I saw it at a little indy theater in Seattle, with my then-girlfriend, I heard it called the “butch buddy” movie. (It’s too bad it didn’t click for me then that because the film reminded me of our relationship, that the relationship probably wasn’t going to last. But that’s another story.)

Apparently Lesbian News called it “The top butch buddy movie of all time!” … Are there other butch buddy movies that I don’t know about? Is there a whole butch buddy genre? Where are they hiding?!

Anyway here’s the trailer.

And the description of the film:

This innovative Sundance hit spins a tremendously entertaining adventure story about two butch/trans buddies on the streets of San Francisco in search of love and money. Starring LA performer/artist Harriet “Harry” Dodge (Cecil B. Demented, The Joy of Life) and former Tribe 8 dyke punk rocker Silas Howard, By Hook or By Crook remains one of the most popular queer cult movies of all time.

Shy (Howard) is a small-town loner who dumps a diner job and thumbs to San Francisco to pursue a life of petty crime. Along the way, Shy stumbles into the off-kilter Valentine (Dodge). An unexpected and magical friendship sparks, as they steal and grift their way towards understanding themselves and the crazy world around them. Co-starring performance artiste’ Stanya Kahn and super sexy San Francisco dyke poet Carina Gia.

Why am I telling you this? Well, two reasons. One, it’s on Netflix Instant Watch, and if, like me, that service has pretty much replaced your television, you might want to curl up one of these wintery nights and watch it.

Second, Silas Howard is reading at Sideshow in December! Come join us for the last Sideshow of the year and hear some great stories. Along with Silas, comic Heather Gold, one of my favorite buddies Whitney Porter, and hot queer all-star couple Elizabeth Whitney & Lea Robinson will be sharing their work also.

This month’s theme is FAMILY/TRADITIONS, starring:
Heather Gold (Tummelvision.tv)
Silas Howard (By Hook or By Crook)
Whitney Porter (Ping Pong Literary Journal)
Lea Robinson (Butch Mamas) and Elizabeth Whitney (The Secretaries)

Black Swan. Just, Wow.

The new film Black Swan opens today.

When the trailer came out and Dorothy Snarker wrote about every detail, I was intrigued. When Kottke posted the international Black Swan movie posters, I was impressed.

And then I was offered a ticket to the screener in New York a couple weeks ago, and I can’t wait to see it again.

Here’s the trailer, if you haven’t seen it.

So, a couple quick things about the film. I’m not going to go on & on about my analysis of it, you should just see it. Though you should know that it’s kind of a horror movie, definitely has some gore, and lots of suspense. They do an amazing job of showing the glamour and beauty of ballet while also juxtaposing the damage that kind of work does on the human body, the reality of starving (or being bulimic), of broken toenails from pointe shoes, of the competition and near-impossible stress the work demands of a body.

And don’t forget that this film is directed Darren Aronofsky, the man behind “Requiem for a Dream” and “The Wrestler.” That should give you a sense of the level of creepy emotionality behind this film (if you’ve seen either of those).

The queer blogs are all painting it as though there’s this huge rivalry between Lily (Mila Kunis) and Nina (Natalie Portman), and the trailer certainly does a lot to back that up. But it isn’t about that so much as it’s about Nina against herself. About coming into her own sexual power, about striving so hard to be perfect that she’s lost her passion and delicious gusto, and is losing her bite, her teeth. Well, I don’t want to ruin it or anything, but she gets it back. Nina’s restraint through the beginning of the film is practically frustrating—but the release and climax is all the more satisfying.

I read a quote about the depth and bredth of female experience that this film portrays, and I really have to agree:

Using loaded code words — from “WHORE” scrawled on a mirror to the suffocating “mother” character, and infantilizing endearments like “sweet girl” and “little princess” to the domineering father figure who blatantly eroticizes her — the film is a hotbed of symbolism and Freudian psychology. Phrases “letting go” and “live a little” are spoken repeatedly. Jealousy, transcendence, paranoia, lust, the decay of the body, fragile self-esteem, self-mutilation — it’s like an early Liz Phair record in its interest in showing the fascinating breadth of the female experience.

And the conceit of the white swan and the black swan—reflected both on stage and off in the costuming of Portman and Kunis (who has black wings tattoed on her back)—provides a perfect visual and thematic metaphor for the warring factions of fear and desire inside a scared girl’s fraught relationship with her body. (Aronofsky explicitly referenced Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion,” David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s “The Red Shoes” as cinematic touchpoints.)

Despite the fact that the film was written by three men (Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz and John McLaughlin) and directed by another, Aronofsky said that they sought input from nearly a dozen professional ballets dancers, active and retired, to inform the world and the girls’ relationships. He also noted that there were aspects he filtered into his directing from watching how his wife, Rachel Weisz, approaches performing. One also suspects that there was a bit of a meta motivation in casting Winona Ryder in the role of the aging ballerina pushed aside to make room for Portman’s character as the new star.

Portman’s performance is a marvel in that so much of the camera work is done directly in her face. A potent transformation she makes during the story is remarkable, and this will surely do her the twin favors of shortlisting her for an Oscar and erasing any remaining memories of her participation in “Star Wars.” Well, that, and the scenes of her masturbating and having sex with Mila Kunis.

For a graphic sex scene the actresses, who are friends in real life (Portman suggested Kunis for the role of her rival, Lily) suggested that a couple of drinks would help grease the wheels, so to speak. A bottle of tequila was procured for the occasion, and though a day and a half were blocked for the sequence, Aronofsky, feeling guilty, took a half day away and moved on.

from Darren Aronofsky talks about making a ‘disturbing’ ballet film

There are plenty of other things to watch and read about this online if your curiosity is piqued, like the music video trailer and the featurette. And I am a little bit in love with the clutch Natalie carried to the New York premiere on November 30th. But—$1330 for a purse? Really? Even if it is a first edition of Lolita, I don’t think so. I’m told by my trusty Twitter friends that Rebound Designs on Etsy is the first to do those book clutches, and those prices are way better (and great to note with the holidays coming up).

I’m not an expert on these things, but everybody seems to be Oscar buzzing around this film, and I can see why. Natalie Portman is amazing in it. So restrained, controlled, precise. The control and precision of her facial expressions alone, wow.

If you see it, let me know what you think?

Wednesday Dec 1: Twitter Porn Party featuring Crash Pad Series

Don’t forget, Garnet Joyce & I are hosting a Twitter Porn Party on Wednesday, December 1st at 6pm PST / 9pm EST. Log on to twitter and follow us through the hashtag #pornparty if you’d like to see what we think of recent Crash Pad Series episodes (check out some still photos and descriptions of the scenes we’re going to watch).

Pink & White sent this out today:

“Wednesday, December 1st, bloggers Sinclair Sexsmith and Garnet Joyce will host an online porn viewing party on Twitter.com. They?ll be using the hashtag #pornparty so log in and follow @mrsexsmith & @garnetjoyce. They will be watching and commenting on four episodes from Season 12: Episodes 81 (CinnamonChocolate Chip, and 9), 82 (Drew Deveaux and Dylan Ryan), 83 (Tina Horn and Roger Wood), and 84 (Arabelle Raphael and Billy Castro).”

If you haven’t seen the Crash Pad Series, you’re missing out. Seriously. I know there’s that old adage that there’s no good lesbian/dyke/queer porn out there, but that is just not true anymore. Shine Louise Houston is an artful director and has been leading the way in the queer porn headway during the 2000s. If you think porn is too harsh, not tender enough, too much bang-bang-banging, not enough talking, not enough real people—I bet you’ll be surprised by the Crash Pad. With nearly 100 episodes, I bet you’ll find more than a few you really, really like, too.

Join us on Wednesday night! Use Coupon Code 14E for 10% off any level of membership. (Recommend level 2 – video streaming; level 3 – downloads and behind the scenes). Offer Expires December 1st.

I’m giving away a membership today! So hopefully the winner can join us on Twitter Wednesday night. Leave a comment in this thread and I’ll pick a winner at random tomorrow (Tuesday) evening to receive a one month level 2 membership. Comment on this post with your favorite sexy way to get woken up or what you did this morning or something else entirely and you’ll be entered. Must have a valid email address!

Review: Foxy Bombshell Panties

As of 2/8/16 This product is no longer available at Babeland

(Actually, Babeland’s website calls this a Foxy Bombshell Panty, but shouldn’t it be plural? Kind of like “pants,” right: you don’t wear “a pant,” you wear pants.)

Babeland recently started carrying Booty Parlor products, and I picked up the Foxy Bombshell Panties as a gift for Kristen. The design is cute and flirty and fun, so I figured we’d try ’em out.

They come in very broad sizes—small (23″-38″ hip) or large (27″-42″ hip), which means that while they fit Kristen quite well, it was a little bit of a gamble and I wasn’t certain they’d be very flattering if they were cut to accommodate a 15″ range of hip sizes. Hard to tell, too, when you order things off the Internet. But it worked out—they are quite lovely, and I love the bow at the back (I kind of have a thing for ribbons). They are made of Poly silk (whatever that is) and Lycra. They should be hand-washed in cold water.

I like the look of the Peepshow Princess Panty too, I might try to get my hands on those next.

The Foxy Bombshell Panties were sent to me from Babeland for review. Pick up other sex toys from Babeland, still my favorite feminist, queer, friendly, educational neighborhood sex shop.

The Kids Are All Right is Now On DVD

the-kids-are-all-rightI’ve been waiting for The Kids Are All Right to come out on DVD since I saw it this summer. I was ready to see it again, even right after I saw it the first time. I debated and deconstructed and philosophized and puzzled over the plot for a good solid week before I had various lightbulb moments and felt like I “got it,” like I understood what director Lisa Cholodenko was going for. (My thoughts on it culminated in this post on AfterEllen, The “Lesbian Sleeps With A Man” Trope in The Kids Are All Right.)

I’ve referenced this film many times since I saw it. Not just the characters or lines or this particular plot, but the affect Cholodenko has had on this trope, the way this film has gotten into our collective social consciousness, and the result—that the man is totally left out, that he has not spent years building a family, but that he was, in fact, practically irrelevant to the building of their family—will effect any future film that attempts to use this trope to invalidate lesbian identity. I think Cholodenko took that stereotype and ran with it so far and hard that it is kind of, well, over. I think it changed the landscape.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with me about that, it’s a beautiful film. It really is. If you’ve seen either of Cholodenko’s other films, like High Art or Laurel Canyon, you know her style of cinematography is stunning and unique. She’s a mainstream queer female director—on the masculine-of-center side of gender, I would argue—and this film depicts a lesbian relationship, women in love with each other, sincere emotions and care for the building of a family, overcoming hardship, all of those wonderful things that are so rarely depicted responsibly or artfully in a mainstream film.

It came out on November 16th. I can’t wait to see it again.

Here’s a nice clip from the bonus features on the DVD, where you can see many of the beautifully framed shots from the film as director Cholodenko discusses her relationship to the concept of “family:”

Here’s the blurb from the film, in case you were somehow under a rock all summer and missed the hours and days of discussion when it came out:

The Kids Are All Right stars Academy Award® nominees Annette Bening (American Beauty) and Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights). Nic (Bening) and Jules (Moore) are a suburban couple raising their two teens, Joni (Mia Wasikowska, Alice in Wonderland) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson, Journey to the Center of the Earth), in Southern California. But when the kids track down their “donor dad” Paul (Mark Ruffalo, Shutter Island), an unexpected new chapter begins for everyone as family ties are defined, re-defined and then re-re-defined.

The Kids Are All Right is on DVD and Blu-ray November 16th

It is really worth seeing. Annette Bening in particular is phenomenal, and I’m pretty excited to see her as Nic on screen again. I wish we could just crack a bottle of wine and sit up on the Hollywood sign and talk about girls until the bottle’s empty.

  

(Yes, clearly, I’m a sucker for glasses.)

Pick up The Kids Are All Right from Wolfe Video, the largest exclusive distributor of gay and lesbian films, or, if you must, from Amazon.

The Next Porn Party: Crash Pad Series

Garnet Joyce & I are hosting (or, “hosting”) another queer porn party on Twitter next week Wednesday, December 1, at 6pm PST / 9pm EST.

If you don’t know Crash Pad … well, you should! I think Shine Louise Houston is making pretty much hands down the best porn out there right now, and it happens to be queer and gender-inclusive and kinky as hell and hot hot hot. It started out as a single DVD film, but has expanded in recent years to a web-based series of episodes divided up by “season.” Memberships range from $20 a month for level 1 (photos only) membership to $35 a month for a level 3 (photos, video, behind the scenes, and downloads).

But! We have a special deal for Porn Party viewers: Use Coupon Code 14E for 10% off any level of membership. (Recommend level 2 – video streaming; level 3 – downloads and behind the scenes). Offer Expires December 1st!

I’m also giving away a one-month membership! Hopefully the winner can join us on Twitter on December 1st to tell us what they think of the episodes. Details of the giveaway announced next week.

If you haven’t seen any of the Crash Pad episodes yet, now’s the chance to do it! Regardless of what your kink or interest is, there’s got to be something in there you’ll enjoy—there are nearly 100 episodes up!

I used to try to keep up with them all, but there are so many! So Garnet and I decided it’d be fun to choose a few and watch ’em on Twitter with whomever wants to watch. We’ll be using the Twitter hashtag #pornparty as we narrate what we think of the scenes.

We decided to watch season 12, episodes 81, 82, 83, and 84, so I picked some photos to show you the people who are in the scenes. Here’s the details (behind the cut to attempt to keep this site slightly more readable at work) …

Friday Reads: Sex, Gender, & Erotica By Cleis Press

October and November have kind of gotten away from me, with three conferences and four college gigs and an erotic retreat and travel to three states and a new workshop, and oh yeah that whole new butch project thing. So I haven’t really been keeping up with the “Friday Reads” series I was trying to start, but I’ll just pick up where I left off, how about that.

Good timing, too, because Cleis Press, one of my favorite publishers, is having a winter holiday special: 20% off everything in stock!

We would like to extend a special invitation to Cleis Press & Viva Editions friends, family and colleagues to take advantage of our 2010 Gratitude and Giving holiday special. This is our way of saying we’re incredibly grateful for your enthusiasm, talent and support! From now until December 31st, we offer you and your network (your friends, family, coworkers, colleagues and neighbors) a 20% discount on all titles. Enter special offer code GG on your web order to receive your discount.

Here’s the fine print: Order as many or as few books as you like. Order as many times as you like. Offer good on any book in stock at time of ordering. Order through our web sites to receive discount. Must enter special offer code GG to receive discount. Cannot be combined with any other offer.

So hey, I have some recommendations for books you can pick up, if you don’t already have ’em. And who knows, maybe somebody on your holiday gift list would like some books too, hmm?

Books Which Include My Work:

Many of these aren’t explicitly queer, but the sex is delicious and sensuous and sweet and brilliant, the power dynamics are amazing, the writing is impeccable. So file these under Classics You Should Read:

And last but not least, here’s some notable Queer Titles that I’m not in, but that I’ve read and are excellent:

I know you could probably just order all of these on Amazon, but the publisher and authors benefit greatly when you get ’em from the source. All of these I highly recommend belong in your personal library.

Head over to Cleis Press’s website and browse through their dozens of other titles. If you like reading about sex and gender, chances are you’ll find a book or two you’ve been coveting over there.

Early to Bed in Chicago

I’m adding a new affiliate to Sugarbutch this week: the Chicago-based sex toy store Early to Bed. If you live in Chicago you probably know about it already (if you don’t, now you do! Go visit), but even if you don’t live there you may have seen them online. They have a wonderful, simple site with fantastic products that anybody can order.

From the owner, Searah: “Many years ago while shopping for sex toys at a store filled with tacky blow-up dolls, raunchy gag gifts and walls of over-priced vibrators, I asked the sales person a simple question about lube. The question was met with a blank stare while she grabbed what was closest and said “um… ah…I think this one is good…?”. It wasn’t good at all and it was at that moment that my mission became clear: Chicago needed a sex shop with smart staff people, fair prices and a warm, women-friendly environment. I wanted a place where anyone could ask a reasonable question about sexuality and not be met with a snicker or black stare. … I opened Chicago’s first women-owned, women-oriented, boy-friendly, queer and trans-positive sex shop. We have worked hard to support the local women’s and queer communities and will continue to do so in the future. With our ongoing workshops and outreach events, we are striving to provide a place where people can come to learn more about sex and themselves. It is my hope that Early to Bed will be known as not only a retail store, but as a safe space to explore sexuality and foster a sex-positive community.”

In addition, they recently launched Early to Rise, their male-focused site:

Ever since our women-oriented sister store, Early to Bed, opened in 2001, one of the most frequent jokes made by customers has been “hey, you should have another store for men called Early to Rise next door.” For years we just chuckled at the notion, as there were plenty of sex shops designed for men and we were women who knew much more about women’s toys, bodies and sexual needs. Besides, with the majority of the shoppers in our store being female, it just didn’t seem necessary.

Fast forward eight years and our male clientele has grown and grown. Apparently, there are just as many men interested in a sex-positive shopping experience as there are women. With Early to Rise we are hoping to create a sex-positive site with good sex information, honest reviews of male-oriented sex toys and advice for men, written by men. Additionally, we have selected some of the finest and best-loved adult toys designed for men to sell in our online shop.

I love what Early to Bed is doing, and I’m excited to support them through my work. Check ’em out.

Cher Thursday

So, sometimes I get random things offered to me by promotional companies. Most of the time I just hit delete and whatever. But this time … well … I thought that a certain buddy of mine would be oh so appreciative of something like this in their DVD collection, so I made a little request, started some rumors, and waited.

And then …

The pleasure is mine, certainly.


Cher: The Film Collection: Timed to the release of Burlesque, this 6-film collection includes: Good Times, Chastity, Silkwood, Moonstruck, Mermaids, and Tea with Mussolini. Arrives on DVD November 2, 2010.

CHER: THE FILM COLLECTION FAST FACTS:

Street Date: November 2, 2010
Pricing: $49.98 (Canada: $59.98)
Rating: Good Times / NR
Chastity / R
Silkwood / R
Moonstruck / PG
Mermaids / PG-13
Tea With Mussolini / PG
Language: Dubbed: English & French / Subtitled: English, French & Spanish

Theatrical Aspect Ratio: Fullscreen / Widescreen
Total Run Time: 634 minutes

CHER: THE FILM COLLECTION SYNOPSES …

Chains and Containment in “Black Snake Moan”

A few weeks ago, when one of my oldest and dearest and favorite-est friends, BB, was in town visiting, Kristen and BB and I had a night at home and sat down to watch a film. Having recently discovered the joys of both Paperback Swap and Swap A DVD, I have some DVDs that I haven’t seen in quite a long time, if ever.

Black Snake Moan was one of them, and we decided to put it on.

I saw it once before, as had Kristen, and I remembered liking it. But putting it on, I was nervous. What if it wasn’t feminist enough? What if they thought it was exploitive and weird? What if I thought it was exploitive and weird?

It sure doesn’t seem like a feminist, conscious film on the surface—it seems fucked up, about gender, race, and sexuality. Why would I want to see that? Why would I like that? But it’s more complex than it seems.

Here’s the basic premise: Rae (Christina Ricci) has an extreme sexual appetite. Rae’s boyfriend, Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) is off to the army and while they usually keep each other sane and balanced, she is losing her control and getting in dangerous situations, such as getting completely intoxicated, half-naked, and then beat up by a guy she occasionally sleeps with. Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson), whose wife just left him for his younger brother, finds Rae unconscious on the road near his house and brings her inside, attempting to nurse her back to health. She, though, has all sorts of night terrors, which cause her to run around and scream—while pretty much still unconscious—so he chains her to the radiator. But when she comes to, two days later, he doesn’t unchain her, but decides she’s not healed yet.

I know, I know: I want to start yelling, NON CONSENSUAL! You can’t do that! But the thing is … she’s out of her mind, a little bit. I know it sounds like shaming a woman because she likes sex, but frankly I don’t think that’s what’s behind this. It isn’t that she likes sex too much, it’s that she is destroying herself through her pursuit of sex, which is clearly depicted as compulsive, and absolutely not something she is choosing from an empowered place.

Ricci is bone-thin in a very unattractive way, she looks so strange sometimes, so unlike her for this role. I wanted her to come over so Kristen could feed her baked goods and get a little bit of that glow back. But she plays the role amazingly—I even read a critique that said it was the highlight of her acting career. And Jackson is genius! I love the scenes where he’s playing the guitar and singing, the blues just dripping off of him. Healing music, no doubt.

All through the re-watch I kept thinking, why is this okay? Why is this not totally fucked up? Because it seems like it should be, on the surface—but it’s not, and I love this film. Maybe it’s because it’s so well written? Or well acted? Or well crafted, in general? I could go on and on about the layers of this film and the dozens of ways you could interpret the character’s actions (the Christian angle; the sex is bad angle; the men as savior angle), but really what I want to do is encourage you to see it for yourself, if you like to think critically about consent, feminism, character, and kink.

And oh yes, it is kinky. All the stuff with the chains, well …

I love the way she becomes attached to that chain. There is a part, after she regains consciousness but before she’s healed, where she consents to stay. Where she kind of doesn’t want him to take the chains off. And another part (in that photo, above) where she comforts herself with the weight and restriction of the chains, in part to get through her own triggers, and to break the automatic reactions in which she’s been stuck.

I would argue that hits on exactly what she needs: containment. Not in a repression kind of way, no, but in the tantric sense, that she is all energy and river and no riverbank. (Interesting, though, how she is able to be that container for Ronnie, as stated from the very beginning of the film when he says she saved him, onto the last scene.)

Plenty more happens in the plot after that: Lazarus teaches her things about life and living, she confronts some demons (including her mother), we get some abstract insight into the things that have been haunting her, and she seems to come to a stronger, more capable place. Personal growth, healing from trauma, and breaking through her own samskara: makings of a good film, if you ask me.

And, the chains …

Well, Kristen liked the chains. She has a thing for metal, more than I do I think (I’m more of a leather guy myself—not that I’m opposed to chains). I had, I remembered, received Metal Wrist and Ankle Cuffs from Sextoy.com that I’d never reviewed, nor had we, in fact, ever even used them.

I thought it might be time to break those out.

Yeah, so that was a good idea.

That image is from Griffin Leather & Metal, not the actual cuffs that came in my set. Mine are not nearly as gorgeous as these, but that’s basically how they’re set up. And the photo on the box that mine came in is pretty awful, it is something that would have steered me clear of buying it.

But in fact, it’s very much worth having around.

They’re relatively cheap, but they’re sturdy, and they don’t feel like they’re going to break (unlike some of the other bondage toys I’ve occasionally reviewed). The chains could be a little shorter, especially the chain connecting the wrist cuffs to the ankle cuffs, but that also might be because Kristen is kind of short, so perhaps with someone a bit taller they would be the perfect size.

The product description reports:

Nickel plated heavy duty locking wrist and ankle cuffs. Includes 4 keys. Wrist size up to 7 inches and ankle size up to 10 inches. The chain connecting wrists is 3.5 inches and the chain connecting ankles is 17 inches. The chain connecting ankles and wrists is 16 inches.

Those dimensions don’t seem quite right (longer connection between the feet than from the feet to the hands?), but that’s what the website claims.

And I’d like to tell you all about what we did when we played with them, but the truth is, I can’t remember the details. I don’t know how it started exactly, I don’t know how it ended. I don’t remember how I put them on her, but I do remember holding on to the chain, choking up on it so she couldn’t move. I remember telling her to get up and walk to the other side of the bed so she could look in the mirror. I remember watching her touch herself for a while, while I watched. And I may have snapped a few photos.

You know, maybe.

The Metal Wrist and Ankle Cuffs were sent to me for review from Sextoy.com. Pick up the Metal Wrist and Ankle Cuffs or other bondage toys from sextoy.com, or your local queer feminist sex-positive independent shop.

I’m still thinking about this film sometimes, even now, two or three weeks later, and looking forward to watching it again.

I’m not going to write a blow-by-blow account of the film and all the complex, phenomenal moments (like, “You’ll have to ask the chef.” “Paprika.” And everything about the characters of Miss Angie and Ronnie both), or an elaborate argument on why it might border on offending my feminist sensibilities, but doesn’t actually. I’ve enjoyed the extensive conversations I’ve been having with Kristen about the film since we saw it, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

If you haven’t, perhaps you’d like to watch the trailer for the film, and see if it’s something you’d try out. I was skeptical, but it is much more than what it seems.

It’s That Calendar Time of Year

It’s the calendar time of year, where activists, artists, and photographers come out with annual affordable wall art to decorate your lovely walls. And here are some of my favorites from queer and activist organizations that you might want to pick up.

Sex Blogger Calendar

I was a pinup in the Sex Blogger Calendar for the last two years—in 2009 I had a solo shot by Stacie Joy, and in 2010 Dacia and I posed for a photo for our shared birthday month as shot by Amanda Morgan. I wasn’t in it this year, and I didn’t make it to the epic calendar party, but I heard it was a great time and I look forward to receiving my own copy of the calendar. And of course, I had to write a little note on Sugarbutch’s birthday. 2011 features Jiz Lee, Nina Hartley, Lilith Grey, Essin’ Em, Mollena, and more.

I Heart Brooklyn Girls

is back! After incredibly gorgeous 2007 and 2009 calendars (and a disappointing 2008 calendar), and no 2010 calendar, I was worried they were gone forever. But thank goodness, the 2011 calendar has arrived, and the shots on the I Heart Brooklyn Girls website look beautiful. The release party for that calendar was this past weekend, but I didn’t make it (too busy recovering from Bad Habit Brunch). I’m excited to pick up a copy of the calendar elsewhere.

bklyn boihood

If a femme pinup calendar isn’t your think, maybe you’ll dig the bklyn boihood calendar instead. I met Ryann at the Butch Voices NYC Conference. She also read at the Queer Memoir/Sideshow Mashup and did a fabulous piece about how the bklyn boihood calendar came to be. Of course Kristen and I couldn’t resist, and we picked up a calendar on the spot. I thought we’d have to wait to put it up, but it’s a 16 month calendar that started in September 2010, so it’s already on the wall in my office!

the first ever bklyn boihood calendar was created to celebrate all queer expression and identity. bklyn boihood is a community entity whose purpose is to provide visibility and promote empowerment for lesbian, queer, or trans identified studs, doms, butches, ag’s, and bois of color with gender presentation on a masculine spectrum. a percentage of all proceeds will be donated to LGBTQ organizations.

The calendar’s on sale for $10 over at the bklyn boihood website. Just sayin’.

I Love Global Girls

Remember the I Love LDN Girls calendar from a few years back? This year, they’ve got an I Love Global Girls calendar.

The photos look great. I probably won’t order this one—between those other three and the inevitable hometown calendar that my mom always sends as a holiday gift, I have more than enough places to see the date. But this one is tempting; I love the international design.

Hope you find a good one for next year. These might make good holiday gifts, too, hm?

Review: Tantus VIP Super Soft

I haven’t been reviewing many products lately, on purpose. I’m getting a little bored reviewing products. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to have the chance to play with these toys, and I still have some things to tell you about, but I’m being pretty picky about what I consume and what I say I will write up here and what I won’t.

This one, though, is worth a mention.

This is the new VIP Super Soft from Tantus. It’s not quite available yet, but they are taking preorders. Tantus sent one to me (and one to Diana Cage) to make it’s debut at the Butch Voices NYC Regional Conference. They sent two other cocks to be given away during my Cock Confidence workshop, which was really fun to do, and I kept this one for myself.

Especially when I was single and dating, having a packing cock was extra important to me (remember my motto: It’s better to have a cock and not need it than to need a cock and not have it), and I did quite a bit of research about what could pack and play, and what was just for packing or just for playing. It turns out, there is very little out there that can pack and play comfortably.

In my opinion, I found the Silky to be the only cock that you can comfortably pack and play with.

Until now! The VIP Super Soft is exactly made for that. So I put it to the test. Does it work?

From the former comparison on pack and play cocks, I’ll talk about this one with four components: materials, packing, playing, and realisticness.

1. Material

Tantus cocks are all made from medical grade silicone, and this one is no exception. It is also Tantus’s “super soft” material, which is somewhat like Vixen’s Vixskin, but a little bit softer, and feels less porous. It doesn’t have the hard inner core that Vixskin does, however, which is what makes it easier to pack.

2. Packing

Yeah, it packs. It’s easy to pack. Metis Black, president of Tantus, wrote on Twitter yesterday: “Just read a review of someone who thought the Super Soft VIP was “too large to be worn discreetly” as a packer.” But in my experience, that’s not true. Packing is half in the cock and half in the pants, though—if your pants are too tight, any packer is going to be really obvious. And if that’s not what you’re going for, I’m sorry, but you’ll probably have to get some baggier pants if you want it to be a bit more discreet. I tend to go a little baggy (a style I have adopted in recent years in part because of the packing, I’ll admit), so I had no trouble with discretion whatsoever.

3. Playing

Because it’s soft enough to pack with, it’s kind of hard to fuck with. It is hard enough, sure, but only for some light play, nothing too heavy bang-bang-banging, because it’s going to be a bit too floppy and probably won’t stay in place. But for lighter stuff? Sure! And for blow jobs? Yeah, it’s really quite nice for that. Good length, good size (6.5″ long by 1.7″ in diameter), not so hard.

4. Realisticness

It is semi-realistic … the shaft is smooth, not veined or textured really, but it does have a head and balls, and it comes in three skin-tone colors of vanilla, caramel, chocolate (or whatever flavors Tantus calls them). I’m still waiting for a company to come out with more subtle shades of skin tones, but meanwhile we’ve just got these three basics.

It’s got a great curve to it so it stays a bit more erect than some other cocks which are just straight, and it hits some good spots while playing.

Any other suggestions?

It needs a slightly smaller O-ring than I usually keep on my harnesses, so it has popped out more than once at the top while I was wearing it. Pretty easy to fix, either by just shoving it back in there or by changing up the O-ring to something smaller.

This is the video by Tantus for the regular silicone VIP, that is not the super soft material. You can see the size a little better, and the curve, so it’ll give you a better feel for how it looks.

I’m glad to add this one to my collection, and I’ll definitely keep packing with it. I don’t think it’ll break quite as easily as the Silky, which will be a good change.

The Tantus VIP Super Soft was sent to me from Tantus to review. Pick it up at your local neighborhood sex positive queer feminist sex toy store, or online from Tantus directly.

Ellis’s New Album “Right On Time”

On a whim, I downloaded (meaning, ahem, purchased from her website) Ellis‘s new album Right On Time after hearing this song on one of the music blogs I follow:

Maybe you remember that Ellis is Top Hot Butch #53 from the 2009 list. Maybe you’ve been a fan of her folk-rock guitar for a long time, maybe you even already have “Right On Time.”

But me, I had lost track of her work in recent years, I think the last album of hers I have is “Everything That’s Real” from 2001. And I’m thrilled to rediscover her work and to support this new album. And WOW is it amazing. I’m still playing the title track and track #7, “Without A Compass,” over and over. Do consider purchasing & downloading Right On Time—if you like this kind of music, you’ll like this new album.

Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation

You’ve probably read Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us by Kate Bornstein, published in 1995. (If you haven’t, you should.)

To follow it up, fifteen years later Kate Bornstein has teamed up with S. Bear Bergman for a new anthology, Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation, published by Seal Press.

Kate’s premise in the original Gender Outlaw is that ze is neither a man nor a woman, and discusses hir stories in forming a trans identity. It was one of those books that sunk into my stomach like a stone, that I gobbled up in a weekend, thinking, oh my god there are people like me out there. Not only that, but there are mentors on this path, there are people who have been deconstructing these identities—and building them back up in our own ways, let’s not forget that part—and changing the ways we perceive gender to work in this culture. That book was a revelation, for sure—it is widely used in college classes and read by all sorts of gender outlaws.

But now, Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation picks up the premise of the original Gender Outlaw and runs with it, telling stories of the many, many ways that gender outlaws struggle, celebrate, and live.

I could write something about each individual piece, what it meant to me, what I thought about it, how meaningful it was, what I liked or (occasionally) didn’t like. I could mention Katie Diamond and Johnny Blazes’s graphic essay about the many meanings of “trans,” like transgress, transcend, transpire, transform, translate. I’d love to mention pieces by Sassafras Lowery and Tamiko Beyer (both of whom have read at Sideshow), and my friend Fran Varian’s piece about gender and class and respect. I could say something about every piece in this book—even the introduction, a smart and sassy IM exchange between Bear and Kate about the contents of the book, what it’s been like for them to edit it, and the state of gender outlaws in general.

Julia Serano’s piece has been sitting in my head for days as I chew over it. She’s such a genius, I am seriously crushed out on her brain. In her piece, she takes that entirely too commonly heard phrase, “all gender is performance,” and explodes it:

Instead of trying to fictionalize gender, let’s talk about the moments in life when gender feels all too real. Because gender doesn’t feel like drag when you’re a young trans child begging your parents not to cut your hair or not to force you to wear that dress. And gender doesn’t feel like a performance when, for the first time in your life, you feel safe and empowered enough to express yourself in ways that resonate with you, rather than remaining closeted for the benefit of others. And gender doesn’t feel like a construct when you finally find that special person whose body, personality, identity, and energy feels like a perfect fit with yours. Let’s stop trying to deconstruct gender into nonexistence, and instead start celebrating it as inexplicable, varied, profound, and intricate. —Julia Serano, from Performance Piece, published in Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation and reprinted in full by Jezebel

Just, chills. I love what she’s saying here. I feel like I have my own piece in conjunction or response to that one. In fact, I feel like I have twenty pieces about gender that I’m itching to write, after reading this book.

I’m so glad I had the chance to check out this book, it’s definitely going to be something I recommend all over the place and mail as gifts. It belongs on my essential reading list, for sure. I’m excited to contribute to the virtual blog tour, as well! It has been amazing—just check out Riot Nrrd Comics’ graphic review, as a great example, and read through the rest of them if you like.

Just in case you haven’t seen it, and if you can’t wait to pick up this book and you want more Kate right now, check out Kate’s contribution to the It Gets Better Project. And you can always follow @katebornstein & @sbearbergman on Twitter. If you’re in the New York City area, you can also come in to Bluestockings Bookstore tonight, Friday October 8th, for a reading from Gender Outlaws!

Pick up a copy of Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation direct from the publisher, Seal Press, from your local independent feminist queer bookstore (if you want them to stick around), or, if you must, from Amazon.

Friday Reads: Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica

In keeping with the tradition I started this summer, featuring a butch or femme book on Fridays to countdown to the Femme Conference and then the Butch Voices regional conferences, I’m going to keep that up and continue featuring books on Fridays.

I was going to write about The Well Of Loneliness, Gold mentioned it when I wrote up Crybaby Butch last week and I thought, “Of course! Why didn’t I have that on my list?” It’s such a classic butch book. I expected it to be droll and depressing, but when I finally read it (in a british women writers of the ’20s class in college) it was incredible—so engaging, so well written, so articulate in the feelings of this “mannish” woman’s love for another woman. I definitely recommend picking it up, if you haven’t read it.

But … in light of the ridiculous amount of depressing news this week, let’s not even go there, let’s not mention a book called The Well of Loneliness, let’s not fall down a well of loneliness ourselves. Instead, let’s move on to something much more fun: smut.

I know I’ve mentioned it here before, but it’s worth revisiting. Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica, edited by Tristan Taormino, is a collection of the best butch/femme stories from the 16 years Taormino was the series editor for Best Lesbian Erotica. There are very few smut books specifically and exclusively with butch/femme content; this is the most recent, and, arguably, the best.

It is steaming hot.

“Butch/femme is erotic iconography. Butch/femme is bulging jeans, smeared lipstick, stiletto heals, and sharp haircuts. It’s about being read and being seen. Sometimes it’s about passing or not passing. It’s about individual identity and a collective sense of community. It’s personal, political. It’s a sexual electricity and power exchange. It’s the visceral space between the flesh and the imagination.” — from the introduction by Tristan Taormino

Here’s the description from Cleis Press:

Does the swagger of a sure-footed butch make you swoon? Do your knees go weak when you see a femme straighten her stockings? A duet between two sorts of women, butch/femme is a potent sexual dynamic. Tristan Taormino chose her favorite butch/femme stories from the Best Lesbian Erotica series, which has sold over 200,000 copies in the 16 years she was editor. And if you think you know what goes in in the bedroom between femmes and butches, these 22 shorts will delight you with erotic surprises. In Joy Parks’s delicious “Sweet Thing,” the new femme librarian in town shows a butch baker a new trick in bed. The stud in “Tag!,” by D. Alexandria, finds her baby girl after a chase in the woods by scent alone. And the girl in a pleated skirt gets exactly what she wants from her Daddy in Peggy Munson’s “The Rock Wall.” Sometimes She Lets Me shows that it’s all about attitude — predicting who will wind up on top isn’t easy in stories by S. Bear Bergman, Rosalind Christine Lloyd, Samiya A. Bashir, and many more.

Includes contributions by Alison L. Smith, Joy Parks, S. Bear Bergman, Amie M. Evans, Samiya A. Bashir, Rosalind Christine Lloyd, Kristen Porter, Tara-Michelle Ziniuk, D. Alexandria, Anna Watson, Shannon Cummings, A. Lizbeth Babcock, Sparky, Elaine Miller, Isa Coffey, Skian McGuire, Jera Star, Toni Amato, Peggy Munson, Sandra Lee Golvin, and Sinclair Sexsmith.

Pick it up at your favorite local independent feminist queer-friendly bookstore (if you want them to stay in business, that is), from Cleis Press directly, from Powell’s books in Portland (hi, #bvpdx!) or, if you must, from Amazon.

Review: Leather Pleasure Harness by Aslan Leather

So when Carrie at Aslan Leather sent me the Rubber G, I also got the Leather Pleasure Harness, one of Aslan’s signature harnesses, and to me the most versatile. It has various configurations: two-strap, one-strap, driver pad or not, variable sizes of O-ring. The straps are thin and high quality leather, the craftsmanship, as I’d expect from Aslan, is lovely and detailed.

It has become my current go-to harness. It’s what I pull out when I want to play, it’s what I use.

1. Materials

This harness is leather. Beautiful leather. Buttery soft, well-treated leather. There’s nothing wrong with this leather whatsoever. Oh wait—yes there is: it’s porous, and absorbs liquid. For that reason, as with many other leather harnesses I have known and loved, I do not expect this harness to last.

2. Metal (Buckles & O-Rings)

I continually stress the quality of construction in Aslan products, and of course this is no exception. It’s lovely: there are buckles on both hips around the waist and sliding O-rings on the other two (or one) straps.

3. Style, Shape, Padding

This harness comes with a “driver pad,” the bit of padding that would sit behind the base of the dildo against the wearer, but I’ve removed it so there isn’t as much separating me from my cock and my girl. The straps are a little thin, which personally I like, but you may not—I do find they can dig in a little bit. I love the convertible strap style, and if you for example aren’t sure whether you prefer one style or the other yet, this is a great one to buy because it’s easy to change for one to the other as desired. It’s very adjustable and fits hips from 26″-44″ (and the larger version fits up 56″) comfortably.

I’m still in search of a harness this simple that is not leather, or perhaps just a harness with a replaceable or removable center strap that is not leather (probably rubber). But this is getting closer!

I’ve got a slightly customized Rubber G that I still need to report about … the center strap is a bit thinner, and I do like that better, and oh the rubber is growing on me. I love how easily it cleans up.

PS … Did I mention that Aslan Leather sent me a harness to give away at my Cock Confidence & Strapping It On workshop at Butch Voices NYC this weekend? Hope you got a ticket, because registration is sold out. I hear if you come early with a lot of patience you might (might) be able to get in. Thanks Aslan—can’t wait to draw a name and send someone home with a new toy.

Aslan Leather sent me the Leather Pleasure Harness for review. Pick it up over on Aslan’s site, or at your local independent feminist queer sex toy store.

Review: Female Masculinity by Jack Halberstam

Countdown to the Butch Voices NYC Conference: 1 Week!

I’m counting down the Fridays with classic and modern butch book titles that I highly recommend because the Butch Voices Regional Conference in New York City (and then in Portland and LA) is coming up in just a week.

If you haven’t registered yet, you better get to it! We probably have something like twenty tickets left, and it’s filling up fast. The workshops and the schedule, and don’t forget that there are other events on Friday and Saturday nights. More information on those events (open to the public!) shortly.

This week’s book is the classic text Female Masculinity by Jack Halberstam. See how I called it a “text” instead of a book or a pile o’papers? Well that’s ’cause it’s pretty academic. But don’t let that stop you—it’s an important, classic piece of writing on masculinity and femaleness, and deconstructs gender in ways that paved the way for gender activism and theory in the years after. It was first published by Duke University Press Books in 1998.

I know it sounds like it’s unreadable and intimidating, but it’s worth struggling through. I haven’t read it since college but it kind of blew my mind. I should add it to my list of books to re-read, especially with all this butch stuff coming up, I’m inspired to delve into the theory again.

Here’s the description of the book:

Judith Halberstam’s deft separation of masculinity from the male body in Female Masculinity. If what we call “masculinity” is taken to be “a naturalized relation between maleness and power,” Halberstam argues, “then it makes little sense to examine men for the contours of that masculinity’s social construction.” We can learn more from other embodiments of masculinity, like those found in drag-king performances, in the sexual stance of the stone butch, and in female-to-male transgenderism. Halberstam’s subject is so new to critical discourse that her approach can be somewhat scattershot–there is simply too much to say–but her prose is lucid and deliberate, and her attitude refreshingly relaxed. Essential reading for gender studies and a lively contribution to cultural studies in general.

In addition to this book, Halberstam is the keynote at Butch Voices LA on October 9th! She’s scheduled for 1:30 – 2:30pm on Saturday, and boy I would love to be there. I had to pick between the LA Butch Voices conference and the Talking About the Taboo conference at the CSPH, and with other travel I’m doing, it made sense to stay in the region. Plus, Megan is kickass and the lineup at the CSPH conference is going to be fantastic, and I’m attending two other Butch Voices conferences, so … not much of a contest. But if you’re going to LA, know that I am envious! And I hope her keynote is amazing and inspiring.

Jack Halberstam currently writes online at Bully Bloggers. Here’s her recent bio, lifted from there:

J. JACK HALBERSTAM, Professor of English, American Studies and Ethnicity and Gender Studies at USC. Halberstam works in the areas of popular, visual and queer culture with an emphasis on subcultures. Halberstam is the author of Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Duke Up, 1995), Female Masculinity (Duke UP, 1998), In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (NYU Press, 2005). Halberstam was also the co-author with Del LaGrace Volcano of a photo/essay book, The Drag King Book (Serpent’s Tail, 1999), and with Ira Livingston of an anthology, Posthuman Bodies (Indiana UP, 1995). Halberstam is currently finishing a book titled “Notes on Failure” and beginning another on “Bats”…yes, the ones with wings and teeth.

Pick up a copy of Female Masculinity from your local independent queer feminist bookstore (if you want it to be around next month, ya know), or, as usual, if you must, from Amazon.

Review: Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

Countdown to the Butch Voices NYC Conference: 2 Weeks

Did you see that? Does it really say “2 Weeks” up there in the title. Um, reality check. So much to do! And I’m going camping with Kristen this weekend. She’s already made her famous (or what should be famous) potato salad. Which seems like a bad plan (the camping, not the potato salad) because there is so much to work on. But I’ve been working all week, and am still re-integrating after the New Mexico trip, so this will be good for me, I know. And we’re going to our favorite campsite that we’ve visited so far, still on the hunt for the perfect one, far enough from the city that it’s quiet and spacious but not so far that we have to drive all day to get there. I think I will be sneaking away during the days to find a coffee shop with wifi in the northwest Catskills so I can spend a little bit of time on The Smut Machine, aka my laptop, working on Butch Voices media.

Meanwhile: I’m counting down the Fridays with classic and modern butch book titles that I highly recommend because the Butch Voices Regional Conference in New York City (and then in Portland and LA) is coming up in just two weeks. If you haven’t registered yet, now is the time! We are very near capacity and can only hold so many folks in the space, so make sure you put your name down if you want to come. The workshops and the schedule have been announced, and they look fantastic, it’s going to be a great day. Stay tuned for the full announcements of events around the conference, on Friday and Saturday nights.

I’m really talking about classic butch titles here, so I can’t not talk about Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg. How many of us have had someone give us a copy of this book, early on, perhaps before we even know ourselves, and say, “I think this is you”? How many of us first felt like we were tapping into something larger than our own struggle when we started reading about Jess.

I had the opportunity to hear Leslie speak here in New York a few years ago, for her newer book Drag King Dreams, and it was thrilling. I love that about New York, that sooner or later, everyone does some sort of gig here, everyone comes through. It’s a magnet for some of the most amazing writers and activists and I do not discount the value of that (even in all my complaining about the big city).

If this book has been on your list for years, if you always meant to get around to it, if you kept meaning to read it, consider this a sign: it’s time. Go pick up a copy from Paperback Swap or your local indy bookstore or heck, even Amazon.

From Alyson Press, the publisher:

Published in 1993, this brave, original novel is considered to be the finest account ever written of the complexities of a transgendered existence. Woman or man? That’s the question that rages like a storm around Jess Goldberg, clouding her life and her identity. Growing up differently gendered in a blue–collar town in the 1950’s, coming out as a butch in the bars and factories of the prefeminist ’60s, deciding to pass as a man in order to survive when she is left without work or a community in the early ’70s. This powerful, provocative and deeply moving novel sees Jess coming full circle, she learns to accept the complexities of being a transgendered person in a world demanding simple explanations: a he-she emerging whole, weathering the turbulence. Leslie Feinberg is also the author of Trans Liberation, Trans Gender Warriors and Transgender Liberation, and is a noted activist and speaker on transgender issues.

Leslie Feinberg’s website has some other great information about the book, including the covers that were published in countries outside the US, a video of her reading from the book, and her afterward to the 10th anniversary edition.

When I was at the Lambda Literary Awards last year, the honored Leslie Feinberg, but she was too sick to appear and give her speech—someone else, her publicist I believe, gave it for her. So she hasn’t been doing many appearances, but I hope she is still writing.

She has been publishing quite a few photographs through Flickr and Twitter (@lesliefeinberg) if you’d like to follow her there. And of course more information about her work is over on her site, transgenderwarrior.org.

Pick up a copy of Stone Butch Blues directly from Alyson Books, or head out to your local independent queer feminist bookstore, or, as usual, if you must, from Amazon.

Review: Butch Is A Noun

Countdown to the Butch Voices NYC Conference: 3 Weeks

The Butch Voices Regional Conference in New York City (and then in Portland and LA) is coming up in just three weeks. And in honor, I’m counting down the Fridays with classic and modern butch book titles that I highly recommend.

Butch Is A Noun, S. Bear Bergman’s first book, has been re-released by Arsenal Pulp Press just in time for the fall series of regional Butch Voices conferences. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it. It’s a personal collection of essays about what it’s like to live outside the binary gender system, in more ways than one, and what the identity, word, noun, verb, and adjective “butch” means to Bear.

The first chapter of Butch Is A Noun, “I Know What Butch Is,” is one of my favorite essays that I think I have ever read. Bear has a PDF of it over on hir website, if you’d like to read it as a preview to perhaps buying the book, and there’s also a great video of Bear reading the first chapter (that I have posted before, but it’s time to post again):

(Just ignore the girls in the background. Seriously.)

One of my favorite comments about the book comes from Kate Bornstein, who says: “Butch Is A Noun is a book that… a) should be required reading in any gender studies curriculum, b) femmes should read whenever they’re feeling unloved, lonely or misunderstood, c) butches should read, d) all of the above. The answer, of course, is d. Thank you, dear Bear.”

There’s lots in there for not just butch-identified folks, but also for folks who love butches, regardless of your gender.

Here’s the description of the book from Arsenal Pulp Press:

Butch is a Noun, the first book by activist, gender-jammer, and performer S. Bear Bergman,won wide acclaim when published by Suspect Thoughts in 2006: a funny, insightful, and purposely unsettling manifesto on what it means to be butch (and not). In thirty-four deeply personal essays, Bear makes butchness accessible to those who are new to the concept, and makes gender outlaws of all stripes feel as though they have come home. From girls’ clothes to men’s haircuts, from walking with girls to hanging with young men, Butch is a Noun chronicles the perplexities, dangers, and pleasures of living lifeoutside the gender binary.
This new edition includes a new afterword by the author.

There’s lots of ways to connect with Bear online—read hir livejournal, follow @sbearbergman on Twitter, and of course sbearbergman.com.

In case you don’t know about it, Bear also has a new anthology, co-edited with Kate Bornstein, Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation just released from Seal press. Pick that up directly from Seal Press, at your local independent queer feminist bookstore, or, if you must, from Amazon.

Pick up a copy of Butch Is A Noun directly from Arsenal Pulp Press, or head out to your local independent queer feminist bookstore, or, as usual, if you must, from Amazon.

Review: Love Bumper Iceberg

The Love Bumper Iceberg was not as exciting as I expected. I don’t have any sex furniture, but it’s making a big splash out there in the sex toy marketplace these days, and so I figured eventually I’d get around to trying one of the ramps or wedges or whatever else they’re called.

Good Vibrations sent me this one to review. It showed up and sat on my bed for a while, its microfiber faux-suade cover attracting cat hair and dust like a magnet. And it was really hard to clean, since the material is kind of textured, so it catches things. Eventually I cleaned it thoroughly and put a pillowcase on it, which helped, but it looked less sexy and more like an odd-shaped hard throw pillow.

Still, we didn’t much use it. I left it out to be inspired to do so, but just wasn’t. It seemed awkward to try to grab and move her into a different position in order to try it out. I couldn’t really work it into the flow of things.

We did try it, once, eventually. And I found, sadly, that the dimensions are kind of off. I was hoping it’d lift her just a little when she’s on her stomach, but the height is just a little short for the length of my thighs, I think. So someone shorter than me might find it’s the perfect size for them. I’m not that tall, though, and considering it’s mostly marketed toward guys, and most guys are taller than me, I think that’s a bit of a design flaw. It measures 13 3/4″ x 13″ x 7 1/2″, but unless you can really pull it down and try out a few positions with yourself and your sweetie to see if it will be the right size for you, I kind of doubt you’ll be able to tell from the dimensions if it will work or not.

Then again, maybe this is just the small model, and it’s made to make you want to go out there and try the bigger sizes!

But did it inspire me to do that? No, not really. I’m not impressed enough with the option of “sex furniture” that I’m interested in comparing or investigating other products. Worth a try, I suppose, because perhaps I would have always wondered, but to be honest, I wasn’t all that curious in the first place. I do pretty well with positions and support, and when I find myself wanting, I can usually just grab a regular pillow, and we’re good to go.

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The Love Bumper Iceberg was sent to me from Good Vibrations for review. Check out more sex toys, vibrators, and other lovely items at your local feminist queer sex-positive sex toy shop, or online at goodvibes.com.

Review: Dagger: On Butch Women

Countdown to the Butch Voices NYC Conference: Four Weeks

I’m still on vacation. But I wouldn’t deprive you of the Butch Voices countdown! Sugarbutch will resume regular posting on Wednesday, September 1st.

The Butch Voices Regional Conference in New York City (and then in Portland and LA) is coming up in just four short weeks. (And as someone who is part of the organizing committee, can I just say: GULP. So much to do!) And in honor, I’m counting down the Fridays with classic and modern butch book titles that I highly recommend. Just in case you want to start that butch library you’ve always been saying you might.

Dagger: On Butch Women edited by Lily Burana and Roxxie Linnea Due is, heartbreakingly, out of print. But it still exists out there in the world, especially with all the online booksellers. It was published by Cleis Press in 1994 and remains one of the only anthologies about butch identity out there … in fact, it’s the only one that I know of. There are other books on butch identity (as I’ll feature in the next few weeks!), but nothing quite like this.

I came across it when the Femme Top loaned me her copy and I immediately went out to pick up my own. It remains something I flip through and contemplate frequently, full of interviews, personal essays, analysis, gender dynamics, love letters to femmes, and touching stories of female masculinity out of compulsory femininity.

Pick it up at your local bookstore (who does used book searches, hopefully) or online, if you must, through Amazon.

And don’t forget, there are lots of great events coming up in September around the Butch Voices conference, starting with Butch Brunch on September 18!

Review: Talula

This is the Talula softskin dildo by the new company Vamp Silicone, who generously sent me two different cocks to review.

Shape:Doesn’t it look like it’s about to blast off? Shouldn’t it be secured to some sling-shot or something? That angle! I was pretty skeptical about how it’s shaped, it seems like it would be really pokey, awkward to wear.

But it’s not. The angle means that it can sit lower in a harness, almost between my legs, and instead of having a slight downward angle like most other cocks, it stays firmly upright. While Kristen and I tried it out she actually started moaning about “that spot right there that spot that spot,” which she almost never does, so it is clear it’s a very effective g-spot stimulator.

Material:It’s softskin—did you catch that in the introduction? So when I ran across this new company I wondered if this would be the Next Big Thing, the new version of super realistic, flesh-like silicone. But before I received them, I talked to a sex toy shop owner who said they didn’t think the softskin was really any different from their regular silicone, so I was prepared to be disappointed.

It’s nothing like that other famous kind of softskin, which, in my opinion, is more realistic-feeling and more fleshy, but it’s definitely softer than regular silicone. In fact, I like it quite a lot.

It was hard to find a good shot of it. The website has a shot of the three different sizes of Talula, in black, all right next to each other, but it’s not quite an accurate shot of what it looks like. I’ve got one in the cream color, shown above, and it apparently also comes in ruby, cocoa, and cafe au lait.

Size:The medium one, which I have, is 6.5″x1.5″, with the smaller one at 5″x1″ and the bigger one at 7″x2″. That must be including the length of the balls, which makes it a bit smaller insertable length. It was a little bit small to be my favorite cock for fucking, but it was just about right for blow jobs. Perhaps if I get my hands on the larger one, it’ll become my new favorite. I can see that as a possibility.

I’m definitely keeping this one at the top of the toy box.

Thanks to Vamp Silicone for sending this to me to review. Pick up your own Talula dildo over at their website, or at your local feminist sex-positive queer sex toy store.

Review: Spur

It’s been a while since I’ve written a review of a cock! The Silk, since it’s so non-realistic, doesn’t quite feel the same as something made of realistic feeling material and in a realistic shape.

Though anal week is long over, Kristen and I have still been experimenting, still interested in find a (or some) good cocks for anal. This one, the Vixskin Spur made by Vixen Creations, is small, but a step up from butt plugs – not quite ready for the Goodfella, though perhaps we’ll work up to that (a la Chase & Dylan in Roulette Dirty South).

And now for The Sugarbutch Cock Breakdown:

Material: Silicone. Non-porous, sterilizable (dishwasher’s top rack, no soap, or a 10% bleach solution, or boil). This one is Vixen’s line of Vixskin, silicone made softer to feel more realistic, but with a hard inner core to still have enough rigidity to fuck hard. Which is my personal favorite and, in my opinion, the best cocks on the market. Et cetera, et cetera, you’ve heard read me say write all this about Vixskin before.

It’s the best quality materials out there—which is why it’s pretty expensive.

Shape: Spur has a little bit of a crooked bend to her, which looks to me more prominent in photos than when she’s all strapped on. As with all of the Vixskin line, it is realistically shaped, with texture and contours and a head and corona on the cock. This one has a nice base to go into O-ring harnesses, but you might need some smaller O-rings to snap into your (hopefully O-ring changeable) harness in order to keep it from slipping out. I used a very small one and it still had some wiggle room.

Size: This one is small! 4-¾” x 1-¼”, which is a lovely size for bend over beginners. Or aficionados, probably; even if you’re experienced this still might be the perfect size for anal play.

It seems silly to even review Vixen’s Vixskin line seriuosly. Their materials are top-notch, I already know I like the look and feel of this kind of silicone. Vixen’s cocks come with a lifetime guarantee: they’ll replace it if it breaks or wears down. The different sizes are a question, I suppose, for reviewers to test out which sizes are good for what, but that also really depends on the person. I know enough about sizes of cocks that I want for a given situation (especially when choosing for myself or Kristen, whose bodies I know really well) that I can generally anticipate what size will be needed for what play. So when I am seeking a new cock in a particular size and Vixen has one around the same dimensions, it’s seems like a no-brainer: I’m going to like it.

Still, it’s always good to be proven right. I guess you never know.

This one is definitely going to the top of the toy box, and I’m looking forward to playing with it more.

This toy was sent to me & Kristen to review from Vixen. Pick up the Spur or other sex toys through Vixen Creation’s website, or at your local independent feminist queer-friendly sex toy shop.

Mentor Series #2: Free Will Astrology by Rob Brezny

I’m not one of those people who is obsessed with astrology, though I’ll admit that I’ve had waves of getting really into charts and types and analysis from books. I know I’m an Aries with a Cancer moon and Taurus rising (though I don’t know that off the top of my head, I had to look that up to find my rising sign), I know I have four major planets in the 12th house, and I have a copy of my psychological horoscope which I go back and re-read sometimes.

So when I say I’m a bit skeptical of astrology, know too that I see it as a useful tool. I am a fan of pretty much any method, any system, any mailing list, that can be a tool for a better understanding of myself, people I care about, and the world around me. I think chart reading is slightly different than the weekly horoscope newsletters, too; the charts tell you much more about an individual than just grouping all people together by sign and having one little drop of wisdom for the week apply to all the Cancers or all the Geminis.

But I take them much like I would take a fortune or advice from a friend or a random story on the Internet: if it resonates, and applies to me, great. If not, disregard it.

Much like Savage Love, Free Will Astrology by Rob Brezny is also syndicated in alt-weekly newspapers across the country, and with good reason: it’s smart, psychologically complicated, and often incredibly relevant. I’ve only recently resubscribed to his weekly newsletter, and I have been looking forward to receiving his forecast for the week and meditating on it.

This week’s was particularly interesting, which is what sparked the inspiration to write about him in this mentor series:

Free Will Astrology, July 29th 2010. ARIES (March 21-April 19): Success coach Tom Ferry says our ability to pursue our dreams can be damaged by four addictions: 1. an addiction to what other people think of us; 2. an addiction to creating melodrama in a misguided quest for excitement; 3. an addiction to believing we’re imprisoned by what happened in the past; 4. an addiction to negative thoughts that fill us with anxiety. The good news, Aries, is that in the coming weeks you will find it easier than usual to free yourself from addictions 1, 3, and 4. On the other hand, you may be extra susceptible to addiction 2. So take action to make sure you don’t fall victim to it! What can you do to avoid distracting adventures and trivial brouhahas?

That list of four things that can damage our ability to pursue our dreams is something I’m going to have to write in my journal and make into an image to print out and hang over my desk or something, because that really explains a lot. I can say I am particularly susceptible to 1 and 3, though I have had my share of melodrama and anxiety, certainly.

But see what I mean about tools? This weekly horoscope just gave me a little bit of a structure in which to contemplate my own addictions, behavior, and tendencies, and that’s what I love about it. I really should pick up his book Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia. I’ve been on the library waiting list for quite a while, but his writing is so good, maybe it’s just worth owning.

Certainly Brezny is not the only weekly horoscope writer. Michelle Tea was writing for the San Francisco Bay Guardian for a while, now it’s done by Jessica Lanyadoo. Oddly enough, Town and Country magazine also had an amazing horoscope for 2009 that I still often think of, but they don’t seem to have updated one for 2010. Do you have any other favorite horoscope writers to recommend?

Review: Heart 2 Heart Blindfold

As of 2/8/16 This product is no longer available at Babeland

Remember those Heart 2 Heart bondage cuffs? The ones made of red leather, that are perfectly fine, average, pretty, well-constructed? The Heart 2 Heart blindfold goes with them, as part of a set, along with the collar and whip, neither of which I have gotten my hands on yet, but I am curious to. There’s something about a set of matching things that is just so … cute. I like that idea.

Like the cuffs, the blindfold is pretty much as you’d expect. It’s leather, with an elastic strap, little hearts cut into the leather on the front side, red stitching, and black suede on the underside.

The thing about getting products off the Internet is that you can’t really try them on. I got it out the other day to play with Kristen, restraining her wrists to the bedpost, pulling the blindfold on, and then getting the hitachi out. The blindfold was a little bit big for her, she’s on the small side and it didn’t quite fit right on her face, the elastic wasn’t quite tight enough so that it didn’t slip and slide when she squirmed, and the bridge cut out for the nose was just a little too big, so she could kind of see through the middle. Not that I was doing anything that I didn’t want her to see, really, but just for the sensory deprivation, and I think sometimes it was a bit distracting.

(She didn’t seem to mind.)

I forget how much I like blindfolds. I don’t have any nice ones, just some cheesy ones that probably came in a fancy overnight traveler’s kit. I really like blacking out my eyes, though, both when I’m trying to calm down, like at night, going to sleep, and when I’m meditating, and when I’m getting off. Sometimes I even put a pillow or eye-pillow over my eyes to block the light.

Unfortunately, this one doesn’t quite fit me, either: It’s a little too tight, a little too small. It cut into my nose a little, the edges are just a little bit sharp where the leather is cut, and it wasn’t that comfortable.

I love the idea of a set, and I am now really craving an upscale blindfold, but I’m not sure this was the one. I’d love another leather one, the silky ones seem too flimsy I think, but I’ll make sure to try it on first.

The Heart 2 Heart Blindfold were sent to me from Babeland for review. Pick up other sex toys from Babeland, still my favorite feminist, queer, friendly, educational neighborhood sex shop.

My Take on “The Kids Are All Right”

I spent almost a week on this after I saw the film. It turned out to be a bit of an opus, about six pages long, and AfterEllen.com graciously told me they would run it.

Here’s a little teaser of my thoughts:

What if this depiction of that trope, of that storyline of lesbian-sleeps-with-a-man, is actually a step forward? It’s actually a step away from the old versions of this story? It’s something new. We haven’t actually seen this before. What if it’s a sign that we’re actually getting farther from this trope, rather than recreating it yet again?

Untangling that trope means entering into some grey areas, unseeing the black-and-white of this issue and looking at some of the larger contexts and contents; reigning in our own projections a little bit to consider this with fresh eyes, from a place of a beginner’s mind, without quite so much anger directed at this trope. I know that sounds like you have to give up your very warranted anger, but that’s not quite what I mean. It’s just having enough looseness to be able to allow new information to be observed, even if we already think we know exactly what we’re looking at.

Because that’s really the problem here, isn’t it? We hear “a film in which a lesbian sleeps with a guy” and we roll our eyes and get that disappointed, sinking stomach feeling, and we pretend that we aren’t disappointed in yet another depiction of us, of me, of my life, my legitimate love, my legitimate orientation, in a mainstream film that had so much potential, so we squish that potential and we squish that disappointment and we try to sound so damn smart about the wrong that is this film that we might actually miss the film itself, what it’s saying, and what it’s doing.

Read the whole thing over on AfterEllen.com.

And go see this film. It is really beautiful.

Review: Slick G Harness by Aslan Leather

Thank heavens, someone finally answered my prayers: I’ve been in search of The Harness for quite many years now, with some successes, but no amazing clouds-parting-rays-of-sunlight perfection. The Aslan Leather Jaguar G is my current favorite—or has been, up until now.

Aslan sent me two different harnesses to review: the Leather Pleasure Harness and the Slick G.

I jumped into the Slick G immediately. Couldn’t wait to try something other than leather or faux-leather or vinyl, which is all I’ve really ever tried. It just feels like leather never really comes clean, because, well, it doesn’t, it’s absorbent, and the kind of sex I have tends to be messy. Seems like my leather harnesses only last six months or so before I’m turned off by their … obvious wear.

So, rubber. I was a bit skeptical. But Carrie over at Aslan told me this the go-to favorite, so I wanted to try it out for myself. Would it be too thick? Too sharp around the edges? Not melding-with-my-skin enough?

And most importantly: would the shape and tension be enough to get me off?

Short answer: not quite. But I haven’t yet given up hope on the Slick G.

Here’s the harness breakdown factors:

1. Materials
Obviously, Aslan Leather uses really high-quality stuff. They make arguably the best harness available, and most people’s #1 choice, the Jaguar. (It’s not quite my favorite—mostly because I prefer 1-strap to the 2-strap style, but I do like the Jaguar G, as I mentioned.)

So: The Slick G is made of rubber. How does that work? Quite well, really. It’s a little bit stiff, not the pliable leather I’m used to, but it is such a relief to scrub it clean. It is pretty thick, it doesn’t really warm up and mold to my body like I’m used to with leather, but it doesn’t feel like a huge barrier. I am really fond of barely-there kind of harnesses, just three little straps and an o-ring (which is basically what the other harness, the Leather Pleasure Harness, can turn into), so this definitely feels like something there, but how could it not? It’s a slab of rubber. It does kind of cut into my skin around the edges, but not enough that I’m not into it. For the clean-up factor alone, I’m game.

2. Metal: the buckles + O rings
There is no O ring, so in theory some cocks would fit better than others through the opening, but it fits my favorite (the Vixskin Maverick, which is 2″ in diameter) quite well, so that’s all that really matters.

It’s beautiful, of course. Really nice work. The buckles on the waist strap are locking, and easily tighten. This is the ‘average’ size version, for hips from 25″-44″, and Aslan makes a slightly larger version too, for hips 36″-56″.

The strap that goes between the legs has three snaps for a choice of large-medium-small fit. At the smallest, it doesn’t quite go as tight as I like it (what can I say, I like it tight). This is the only problem I have with the harness, and I like it so much that I think I might actually try to get another snap installed, or move one of the snaps (I’m sure I don’t have the tools for it, but I think one of the local leather shops might).

I think because the center strap wasn’t really tight enough, I have yet to get off while fucking with it. Could it have been me, just a fluke, just need more times trying it? Yeah, maybe. But some other harnesses (like the Jaguar G) I can get off while using pretty much every time. Sometimes I know there are times when I just can’t do it, but times when I think it can happen, usually it can. And I thought it could happen, and couldn’t get the friction or positioning or feeling right enough, and I think that’s because it just wasn’t hitting at the right place. Everything else was so perfect! Perfect girl, perfect dirty words, perfect calmness and openness and sweet kisses and skin-to-skin and all of those lovely luscious things that happen when K & I are just in it, but: no go.

3. Style, shape, & padding
I like how the cock rides, I like how it drives, I like how low it rides. I like the shape of the harness. It doesn’t have much padding behind the base of the dildo, but I don’t mind that. It’s not very “padded” in general, since it’s rubber, but I’m not minding so much. I do wish the between-the-legs strap was a bit more narrow, though; especially in the ass cheeks area, it gets just a little bit pokey.

A slightly thinner center strap, and more options for the snaps in the center strap so it can sit tighter, and I think that’d be a winner.

Here’s how Aslan describes the Slick G harness:

This one strap harness made with sexy strong 100% water resistant rubber delivers the ultimate dildo control. Tough rubber stays in place when the fun get’s heavy let’s you play in the shower, tub wherever you choose! No “o” ring for greater intimacy.

ASLAN Rear Strap adjustment system ensures a comfortable fit for all body types! Low rider dildo placement provides excellent control and lovely clitoral stimulation. Discreet one strap design can double as a ANAL plug holder. No “o” ring for greater intimacy and less chance of bruising your partner from heavy thrusting.

The folks at Aslan know what’s up, know the kind of sex I’m having and even (I suspect) have some of that kind of sex themselves, and build wonderful tools that are some of the highest quality sex toys available. I’m thrilled to be reviewing some things for them. This isn’t quite The Harness, but it’s close. It’s damn close. And I am almost totally sold on the rubber, I would definitely try another one, or slightly modify this one, to try to get it closer to perfect.

Maybe The Perfect Harness doesn’t actually exist out there, I know, I might be kidding myself. But I have found pretty much The Perfect Cock, and The Perfect Leather Wrist & Ankle Restraints, and The Perfect Butt Plug—can’t I have a perfect harness, too? If there’s one to be found, I think it’s probably made by Aslan. Can’t wait to review more for them, I’ll let you know what I think of the Leather Pleasure Harness as soon as I have a chance to adequately review it.

Aslan Leather sent me the Slick G harness for review. Pick it up over on Aslan’s site, or at your local independent feminist queer sex toy store.

Review: Heart 2 Heart Cuffs

I don’t have a lot to say about the Heart 2 Heart Cuffs Babeland sent to me for review. They work exactly as you’d expect them to work. They are comfortable. They are made of very high-quality leather, very smooth and buttery and pliable. Pretty cute, too, with the red bands around the middle. They’re a great price, and they are part of a set, so you can pick up the matching blindfold (which I’ll be reviewing soon) if you like that kind of thing.

So here’s a shot of the easy way I rigged my bedposts to be easily bondage friendly.

I used a pair of plain black leather wrist cuffs and tightened them as much as I could around the bars of my headboard, then attached a snap hook. Those basically just live on my bed now, and all I have to do is put a second pair of cuffs on Kristen and reach over to the snap hook to connect them.

In the past, I have almost always associated bondage with rope work, and while I love rope, sometimes I just want a little easy restraint without having to pause and tie knots and secure someone. Midori’s Expert Guide to Sensual Bondage helped me see a whole lot of other possibilities, and sometimes less time-consuming, options for restraint play.

Definitely recommend these cuffs. Kristen really likes the other wrist cuffs we have, the scalloped cuffs, because of how they look, I think, but they’re not quite as wide and they feel a little different because of the padding on the inside. I think these Heart 2 Heart Cuffs will get a nice place on the top of the bondage drawer.

The Heart 2 Heart Cuffs were sent to me from Babeland for review. Pick up other sex toys from Babeland, still my favorite feminist, queer, friendly, educational neighborhood sex shop.

Review: Laid: Young People’s Experiences with Sex in an Easy-Access Culture (Seal Press)

Laid: Young People’s Experiences with Sex in an Easy-Access Culture Edited by Shannon T. Boodram. Seal Press, 2009

Perhaps I had unrealistic high expectations for this book. “The basement smelled like sex,” the book starts. “That thick, musty scent that sits in the air and clings to everything it touches. I inhaled deep and hard, thinking about the heated moments that had just passed. The moments when I was too busy creating the odor to even notice its sticky presence.” Maybe I thought it’d be a bit more upbeat, positive. I have a skewed perspective of sex education and what’s going on with sexually active youth, after all, consuming places like Scarleteen.com and attending queer and kinky events occasionally open to young people.

Laid is separated into five different chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of sex: hookups, positive experiences, physical consequences, date rape, and abstinence. I expected “consequences” and “date rape” to be harder chapters to read, but in truth they were all hard. I kept cringing from the negative, stereotypical information being given out at every turn. But because these stories are full of people’s real experiences and opinions, they can’t exactly be “wrong;” but I cannot recommend this book as any representation of sexual education, as it sells itself as being. The honest, real experiences expressed are valuable to read, but I clearly do not agree with these contributor’s value systems, and many of them I would disagree as plain old bad information.

As I got further into the book, I even doubted the values and knowledge of the editor, as each chapter wraps up with a series of questions about that chapter’s content from the contributors. Questions from Boodram such as “What does lesbian sex include, since it’s not possible to have traditional vaginal/penile intercourse?” (p55), asking a bisexual woman, “Do you have a preference?” (p110), and asking a woman who authored a piece on her abortion, “Why did you decide to abort your child?” (p178) all got me hot under the collar, for both the content and the phrasing.

Boodram admits that a book agent wrote to her, “This book is too negative. Despite having some good information I think the chapter on rape really drags things down” (p185). First, including a quote from an agent’s rejection letter in your book seems like a bad idea. Second, the book is too negative: but not just because of the rape chapter. The “physical consequences” chapter reads like a warning: Don’t Have Sex Or This Will Happen To You. And while it’s true that there are real consequences to sex, and that young people need to be educated about safety and caution, sex is not all bad! Despite the “positive experiences” chapter, the prevalence of scary, negative, and frightening stories was so pervasive that I can’t help but think I would be all the more inclined to agree with Boodram’s encouragement of abstinence after reading through these stories. Boodram used to run the site SaveYourCherry.com, which seems to be down now, and knowing that bit of information makes it even easier to see Laid as an advertisement for her philosophies about waiting to have sex because the consequences are too risky. Save it for the one you love! every chapter seems to shout. Or you’ll end up like me. It seems like a cheap way to use the honest, rare stories that these teens and young adults shared about their sex lives.

Boodram did include some men’s voices and perspectives in this collection of stories, but I found myself disappointed in that, too. In the introduction to the date rape chapter, Boodram admits, “My biggest regret about this chapter is that it does not include the voice of a male who experienced rape or sexual abuse. Twice I was contacted by different men … both expressed that they were interested in sharing their stories, and neither ended up submitting. … I had to give up” (p186). There must be more than two young men out there who have experienced sexual assault and who may be willing to share their stories around it. Rape is more complicated than women as survivors and men as perpetrators, and while that is the most common scenario, I wish she’d looked a little harder to include multiple perspectives.

But that’s the problem with a “sexual education” book based on real experiences: it is much harder to include content to create a full, varied, and wide representation of experience, since the editor may be limited to the contributions she received. And it’s difficult, as a critic, to disagree with someone’s personal experience.

Contributor Anthony writes in his story, “Teenage Pregnancy,” that he “never saw abortion as an option. I also know how selfish it may seem because I wasn’t the one carrying the child, but I don’t regret how firm a stance I took” (p180). This is a tough position on which to take a stance, controversial even, and while perhaps it makes sense to include multiple perspectives on the same situation, there was no corollary young woman with a feminist stance, saying she has the right to choose over her own body and that her boyfriend (or one night stand or hookup) was supportive, but understood that it was more her choice than his. In fact, there was kind of the opposite: another abortion story by Lorie who writes, “I did not include my partner in my decision. This I regret. I truly felt that the child was as much mine as it was his: thus, the decision should have been as much his as it was mine” (p178). I’ll skip over the part where she calls a fetus a “child,” and give her the benefit of the doubt that he was a great guy who would have listened and negotiated with her about what to do after they both got into this situation together. Hopefully, he would not have taken such a firm stance as Anthony, described above, forcing upon Lorie that abortion was not an option for her.

Perhaps abortion decisions are never so simple. Perhaps if Lorie had had a partner she could trust and confide in, she would have felt that pregnancy and birth was an option. Perhaps she wouldn’t say things like, “I get sad when I see a little girl who looks like me, or when I see pictures of a fetus. … I almost feel as though I’m not worthy to have another child because I let one go” (p179). But what about the flip side of that experience? What about when women have abortions and they feel okay about it, even good about their decision? What about the women who do not feel guilt? What about the right to exercise one’s choice? Those women are out there, that perspective on abortion is out there, but the sad regretful stories are far, far more prevalent in cultural narratives.

These experiences are clearly important, valid stories, real scenarios that these real people have gone through, and their real thoughts and feelings about them. I wouldn’t tell Lorie that her response to her abortion is “wrong” any more than I can tell someone else that theirs is “right”—I can only say that I know there are other responses out there, too, and when a book like this is touting itself off as an educational resource, I am not impressed.

There was one part I quite enjoyed: at the very end, almost as an afterthought with no bolding or italics, Boodram includes Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier, and those points were right on. Those ideas, concepts, and general content I could get behind. “Sex is not just put it in, take it out. … Everyone thinks they’re good at sex without even really knowing anything about it. … Demand the truth about sex from your teachers and make sure they take adequate time to talk about myths verses reality. … Be confident and deliberate, especially when it comes to your personal life” (p278-279). She even includes Things the Contributors Want You To Know, a similar list of inspiring statements and personal revelations. Now this, this is useful. What would a book based on those ideas look like?

If it were simply a collection of essays on young people’s experiences with sex, it would have been an interesting essay collection. If it had been only a sexual education book written by Boodram, it may have stood up a bit stronger, and not had to answer to the long, real-life scenarios by her contributors. Regardless, there are better essay collections and much better sexual education books available; skip this one.

Thanks to Seal Press who sent me this book for review. Order it from them or from your local, independent, queer, feminist bookstore, or, if you must, from Amazon.

Review: Good Porn: A Woman’s Guide by Erika Lust (Seal Press)

Good Porn: A Woman’s Guide by Erika Lust, translated by X.P. Callahan. Seal Press, June 2010

It’s difficult for me to critique this book: Lust consumes porn in similar ways that I do, and we have a similar history with viewing porn, so most of my responses to this consist of, “yeah, so what?” It’s not new information to me, nor would it be to anyone who is aware of the ways that the porn industry is rapidly changing to include more female directors, more perspectives from and by and about women, and more woman-oriented pornography.

Really we’re talking about films here. Porno films, from kink and gonzo to erotic documentaries: Lust writes about ‘em all.

If you’re a woman who doesn’t like porn, or who has seen some porn and thinks that it is all the same, icky, unrealistic, performance-y, useless, and not even sexy, this is a great guide to finding directors, stars, and content that you may enjoy. There is a world of new porn available, even in the last five years, and if you can suspend your judgment for a bit to open up to the new materials that Lust describes, you might be greatly rewarded, discovering some new ways to explore your own sexuality through finally some videos of sex that are actually made for your consumption.

I can’t imagine that readers of Sugarbutch—or Carnal Nation, where this review will be cross-posted—will find this new information, however. In my experience, most of the readers understand this new world of porn films, as I might argue that both Sugarbutch and Carnal Nation are part of that new world, perhaps on the fringe, as we don’t produce video content, but as cultural commentary, certainly.

So who needs to pick up this book?

Those women who, though they have already made up their minds about something, are willing to be surprised. Women who believe that porn could possibly be good, that the definition of porn is not “exploiting women” but that the industry has had a lousy history in the hands of repressed men who will sell any act of a penis pounding a vagina to make a quick buck, and that if women or queers or respectable men were making porn, it could be better. It possibly could be interesting, even. Women who believe that it is not porn itself that is the problem, it is not taking video of people having sex, enjoying their sexuality, and getting off that makes porn bad, it is the perspective and the industry in which most of these videos have been made that is problematic. And look—there is a whole industry and perspective popping up, thanks to the feminist movements, queer movements, and the rise in sexual information, sex education, and the Internet.

Ah yes, the Internet. It’s a challenge to write about the Internet in a book. Books are somewhat fixed documents, the Internet changes all the time. Long lists of web addresses in books are not so appealing, since they aren’t hypertext and I can’t click on them, and I have to be really inspired to actually go look up the URL on my computer from a book. Plus, I spend a lot of time online, reading information about sexuality, keeping up with the feminist- and queer-positive directors of porn, and following the new big releases from Blowfish or Good Releasing, so the information in Good Porn wasn’t new or shiny or opening my mind in any major (or minor) way. I was hoping Lust would tell us more about the worlds of women’s porn in Europe, since she’s Swedish and in fact this book is translated into English for it’s release on Seal Press, but there was very little content and description of films that I wasn’t previously aware of. It seems that the major impetus for this new women-centered porn world is here, in the US.

If you need some convincing that porn for women is real, happening, and, yes indeed, valuable, check out what Lust has to say on the subject. But if you are already part of this world, while I recognize that it’s good, solid information and important to write about, it may not keep your interest.

Thanks to Seal Press who sent me this book for review. Order it from them or from your local, independent, queer, feminist bookstore, or, if you must, from Amazon.

Mentor Series #1: Dan Savage & the Savage Love Podcast

If Reconciling Feminism & Sadism is something that comes up for you a lot, I’m going to give you a bit of homework: Go listen to the Savage Love Podcast.

You probably know Dan Savage’s advice column, Savage Love—it’s printed in alt-weekly newspapers around the country. The podcast is an upgrade, in my opinion, where people call in their questions and Dan records his answers, sometimes calling back to discuss the quandary personally. I’ve been reading Savage Love since I moved to Seattle in 1999, but when I started listening to the podcast my interest and understanding of Dan’s philosophies jumped exponentially.

I’ll admit, I don’t really listen to podcasts. I subscribe to a couple dozen of them in iTunes but I can’t make time to listen to most of them. But I really love listening to Savage Love. I usually put it on the computer while I’m making brunch on Saturday or Sunday morning, pausing here and there to discuss the question with Kristen (or whoever happens to be over, but it’s usually Kristen) before Dan gives his answer. I make time for this one because it’s useful, stimulating, and interesting. I always learn things, even if I get annoyed at Dan’s harsh feedback or at his occasional asshole statements.

Speaking of that. Some of you who have already read some of Savage’s work, or listened to this podcast, or just read about him, know that sometimes he can be really abrasive. Sometimes to the point of being phobic, in fact: he’s been deeply criticized for being size-phobic, using the word “retarded” (which he still does), and occasionally bordering on sexist around women’s bodies. He does that gay male ick factor thing, so sometimes conversations about things like not-good-smelling vaginas freaks him out and he says stupid shit.

Here’s what I have to say about that: I totally agree. Sometimes there are whole podcasts where I’m just shaking my head, saying, “ugh. Daaaan. Really?” I don’t agree with everything he says. Hell, I don’t agree with everything anybody says. And I don’t expect you to agree with everything he says. I do expect you to be critical of him in moments when he is fat-phobic or sexist. But that doesn’t mean that the other 90+% of the time is not useful—it is. His philosophies of sovereignty, relationships, sex, BDSM, kink, negotiation, fetishes, long-term relationships, poly, open relationships, kids, religion, politics, and all sorts of other things are very useful.

So what I’m saying is, even if you disagree with lots of what he says (and I expect you will), there is much to learn from this podcast. I credit it up there very highly with The Topping Book, The Bottoming Book, Tristan Taormino, and Babeland for my background in kinky sex education.

And hey, Savage Love has a new iPhone app! Which I’ve downloaded and it’s pretty awesome. It’s all of his best columns, indexed by topic, plus the podcasts, and you can submit questions directly from the app. No, this is not a paid advertisement, this is just me going off in praise of something that I really support, and that has really changed the way I relate to sex and sexuality and relationships, and something I highly recommend for everyone.

Try it out, listen to a few of the past podcasts and see if you like what he’s got to say. Look beyond your annoyance (if you are one of the ones who gets really annoyed at his methods or his occasional asshole statements), and see the value, the kink-positivity that he encourages.

Read up at TheStranger.com/Savage and check out the podcast, or the app, if that’s appealing. Hope you like it.

UPDATE: A couple commenters have mentioned what Dan Savage said after Proposition 8 passed in California, where he basically blamed black voters for the passing, which was racist and basically unforgivable. I can’t believe he hasn’t apologized for that yet. I do not agree with what he said there and he definitely lost some of my respect. Most of what he addresses in his podcast are issues around sex, sexuality, kink, and relationships, and his advice, as I said, is often really good, and I’ve learned a lot from him. I don’t know at what point these kinds of ignorant, racist, occasionally sexist comments will or should become a dealbreaker, but as long as I am still learning about sex and sex advice, I’m interested in learning from him. I do not listen without criticism, and I do not agree with everything he says. I hope you’ll put on a critical ear too.

Review: Lesbian Cowboys (Book)

“‘Cowboy’ is a calling, a vocation, not a gender,” starts the book Lesbian Cowboys: Erotic Adventures by Sacchi Green and Rakelle Valencia, published by Cleis Press. And the first review of it I saw online (which now of course I can’t find) said, “This book has nothing to do with gender.”

But of course, I have to disagree. It has everything to do with gender.

I know what they both mean, though—they mean men and women, they mean cowboy does not necessarily mean a cisgender man. But this collection of erotica is full of genderqueer cowboys, dykes, crossdressers, even possibly a trans guy, though the characters in these stories never identify themselves as such, partly because some of the stories are period and set in a time when this language didn’t exist. Possibly also because the authors, or even the characters themselves, do not have this kind of language.

None of the stories came across as particularly smart about gender theory or politics or identity, but all of them have specific life experience of what it’s like to be different, masculine and a “woman” in a man’s world and a man’s profession, or feminine and a woman in a man’s profession. There are femmes and butches, women who pass and those who don’t want to, women who feel the need to prove themselves capable despite their gender, trans male characters who go by he and him as his chosen pronoun, even a leather “phallus” strap-on in a scene in a brothel.

I am quite fond of “The Hired Hand” by Delilah Devlin, which is sexy and tense, about a woman who comes looking for work at a ranch and proves she is just as capable as any man would be. In many of the stories, I like the tough American accents, vaguely southern but also just western, I like the descriptions of the landscapes and rodeo circuits, the mountains and connection to the land.

It’s a lovely collection, and if you like gender play (and butches or masculine women) in general, there aren’t a lot of lesbian erotica collections exploring those dynamics, and this is definitely one of them.

And, as an exciting side note, this collection won the 2010 Lambda Literary Award in the Lesbian Erotica category!

Pick up Lesbian Cowboys: Erotic Adventures by Sacchi Green and Rakelle Valencia directly through Cleis Press, the publisher, or through your local independent bookstore.

Review: Deluxe Packing Pouch

As of 2/8/16 This product is no longer available at Babeland

“Excuse me, could you pass me my penis?”

This is something NOBODY wants to say, especially not in a men’s bathroom, especially not in a women’s bathroom, especially not in ANY bathroom to any stranger whatsoever. And if you, like me, have used those lovely cute little soft packers to have that extra weight and bulge in your undies, you may have experienced that little phenomena that happens when you pull your pants down and they roll and tumble right out of their nice little packed spot and … onto the floor.

Oops. Man that sucks. Not only do I not want to put it back in my pants before cleaning it (bathroom floors, ew) but now I might have to either ask someone in the next stall to pass it back to me, or go in there and fish it out myself.

(I don’t think I’ve actually ever lost my packer in a public restroom. But I will totally admit to having had that nightmare, and even the occasional jiggle when I am trying to piss makes me nervous as hell.)

Point is: I love packing straps! I’ve had the cock sock for many years now, it was an easy cheap investment for like fifteen bucks that makes me feel sooo much better about wearing a packer. The Mr. Right packing strap is out there, too, but only really works with Mr. Right, which is a little bit hard for me personally to pack with (see my review here), I like the squishier packers, they’re more comfortable.

So when I saw that Babeland had a new packing strap—well, this one is a pouch, it doesn’t strap around your waist—I definitely wanted to try it.

I was kind of skeptical. It attaches with velcro to the front of your underwear, and that seems a little weird. I want my packer to feel like it’s attached to me, not to my underwear. And I wasn’t sure the velcro would be enough—is just a regular underwear elastic enough for velcro to grab onto?

Turns out, yes. It doesn’t go anywhere when you just give the velcro a little press. I tend to use not the smallest (mini) but the small soft packer, and it was pretty easy to get into the pouch and is comfortable to wear.

I think I prefer the other packing strap called the Cock Sock a little more than I like this one, just because I prefer that it’s attached to me and not to my underwear, but then again sometimes if I’m already dressed and decide that I want to pack it is kind of a pain to get it on (either I have to stretch out the elastic to pull it over my jeans, or I have to undress. Annoying), and with this Packing Pouch I can just slip it in whenever I think of adding it to my outfit. Both are easily hand washable, and while I can’t say how long the Pouch is going to last, I know the Sock has lasted for quite a long time and it seems that the Pouch is slightly higher quality material. Hm, it’s a toss up, I’m not sure which one I like better.

Definitely worth trying if you like to pack, and if you use the soft packers.

The Deluxe Packing Pouch was sent to me from Babeland for review. Pick up other sex toys from Babeland, still my favorite feminist, queer, friendly, educational neighborhood sex shop.

Review: Silk

Nearly six months ago, Babeland sent me the Silk anal dildo by Tantus to review while I was collecting things for anal play, trying many options to see what Kristen and I would like. I had visions and fantasies of fucking her ass, strapped on, like I would her pussy, but see, sometimes fantasies don’t quite work in real life.

So, I have used this Silk cock once. No, maybe twice—before the night I had it strapped on, I think I had it out a few times, as an option, and once may have used it with my hand.

Gotta work up to things sometimes, ya know?

So I’ve been avoiding writing this review, thinking I needed more data, that I needed to use it a few more times, that I might have a hot story to share about it, eventually.

And it was hot—the once I used it—don’t get me wrong, but sometimes with something so new, the newness of the act distracts from the use of the toy and what that was like.

On one hand, I don’t have a lot of other toys to compare this to. I do still have the first cock I ever bought, a slim, hard black silicone one that I’m not sure is around anymore, and that is just about the right size for ass fucking, but it is awfully hard. You know that hard silicone that is so hard you can’t bend it, it doesn’t give at all? Even the silicone that is not Vixskin these days is not as hard as this first cock is.

The Silk is hard, too, but not that hard. It’s very, very smooth and, um, silky. Especially slick with some lube on it, which of course should always be used with anal play. It is so hard, though, that I’m not sure it’s great for anal play—it seems kind of pointy and pokey, and doesn’t give at all. (I have my eyes on a Spur as a replacement.)

At this point, six months later, I had to just give in a little and write up something, since now my not using it for so long is part of the review. It is a fine cock—good material, good shape, decent size for anal play, but nothing special, and not something I rush to use excitedly.

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

Review: The G-Ki G-Spot Vibrator

I don’t usually go for vibrators. I have my magical masturbation toy combination all figured out, and most other vibes pale compared to the Hitachi. I’ve tried lots of the fancy-schmancy ones that are all the rage these days, and I just don’t like them very much. I don’t really want to read a manual to figure out how to use it. I just want an “on” button.

Despite all my reservations, I wanted to give the G-Ki G-Spot Vibrator a try. Mostly because I thought, hey, that might be my two favorite products combined into one!

Turns out that was wishful thinking. It’s very pretty, and sleek, and I can see liking it if I liked vibrators. I like that it has some movement in the neck that can be angled any which way. It’s not one of those vibes like the Sasi which you have to understand complicated astrophysics in order to operate, the controls are pretty simple, but still strong.

Still, my reaction is like my reaction to most vibrators: “eh.” Nothing particularly impressive. Interesting design, perhaps, yes, and enough so that I picked it up to try, but not enough so to pick up again. Unless you’re someone who likes subtler vibration, I’d say save your money for a Hitachi or a Pure Wand.

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The G-Ki G-Spot Vibrator was sent to me from Good Vibrations for review. Check out more sex toys, vibrators, and other lovely items at your local feminist queer sex-positive sex toy shop, or online at goodvibes.com.

Review: Tristan Plug

As of 2/8/16 This product is no longer available at Babeland

Okay, maybe I spoke too soon. Of course, as soon as I call something the “ultimate” anything, I’m going to find something missing. Hello? Sinclair? Did you not just host Anal Week (which lasted at least two weeks)? You make an Ultimate Masturbation Toys list, and forget something for the butt?

Whoops, my bad!

Well: good thing I can remedy that right away, cause I’ve got the Tristan Plug right here, not just waiting to be reviewed and written up but waiting to be used. And Kristen’s off at her baking apprenticeship …

You know who Tristan Taormino is, right? Her column in the Village Voice (largely compiled in the book True Lust: Adventures in Sex, Porn, and Perversion) changed my life and changed the way I think about sex. I’ve admired her work for many years, and still follow her everywhere I can.

Tristan has two—not one, but TWO—butt plugs named after her. The second and most recently produced plug is the Tristan Plug Anniversary Edition, which is, of course, a bit thicker. I got my hands on it and reviewed it about a year ago, but reflecting on it now, a year later, it’s not something I use very often. It’s kind of intimidating.

The original Tristan Plug was a bit slimmer and longer, measuring 3-1/4″ x 1-1/2″. And finally, I’ve added one to my arsenal, thanks to Babeland. What makes the Tristan Plug unique from all the other dozens of perfectly adequate silicone butt plugs on the market? Babeland describes it quite succinctly:

Designed by the Anal Sex Queen herself, Tristan Taormino, this power plug is ample in size and features. The combination of the bulbous head and pronounced elongated neck make this plug easy to keep in place. Rectangular flange makes retention a little easier by allowing a bit more room for your butt cheeks. Regal in shape and short on length, pop in the Tristan for anal satisfaction and play everywhere else.

That’s just it: the head and neck, plus the “flange” at the bottom, the shape of the flared base, mean that it stays in place easily. I haven’t tried it as a toy for longer wear, I know sometimes people like to wear a plug in public, but I’ve never tried it for that kind of thing. I hear it works very well, though.

So, while Kristen is still off and I’ve got the apartment to myself, I’m going to spend a little extra time with my favorite toys, and add the Tristan Plug to that list.

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

My Ultimate Masturbation Toys

Since it is National Masturbation Month and all, and while I’m not participating in the Masturbate-a-Thon or creating my own ritual like Curvaceous Dee‘s Wankfest, I figured I’d still up the masturbation talk a bit.

Maybe it’s the (perceived or real) body and gender dysphoria, but most of the butches I know—even those who write sex blogs—don’t write about masturbation often, if ever. Including me.

After years and years of getting myself off, I’ve tried many dozens of toys. My favorite early on was the basic little silver bullet (I used to go through one or two of those a year), but they are only about $15, so they are worth an annual investment.

It took a while for me to upgrade to a Hitachi. It’s pretty intimidating, regardless of how sensitive you are, and very intense. The thing plugs into the wall, for goodness sake. I (and many others) often joke that you have to rev it up like a chainsaw. Yeah, the thing is intense, but that’s because it doesn’t fuck around. It is serious vibration, serious power.

And I love it.

I do get off without it, sometimes, but I prefer to use it. I come harder and quicker with it, and it gives a bigger release. I know some folks claim that it dulls one’s sensitivity over time, and I’m not sure what I think about that argument. I know I’ve been using it for years and it hasn’t dulled my sensations, as far as I can tell. Nothing permanent or irreparable, certainly. It does seem like when I’m using it frequently (I have had some patches in my life where masturbation has been more frequent than others), it’s harder to get off other ways. But that seems to quickly change if or when I take a break.

The thing about the Hitachi, though, is that it comes with this plain white “head,” this porous, non-sterilizable material that just begs to be replaced. If you love your vibration to also be insertable, you want to go with something like the Gee Whiz attachment, but me, I just want it to be silicone, and a little added texture is a nice bonus. For that, you need the Off With Your Head attachment.

At this point, that attachment is practically a requirement. If I ever got someone a Hitachi as a gift, I’d include one of those—it just seems not quite done or dressed or ready without it. One side has a little pinched vertical ridge, the other side has multiple horizontal ridges, and one of those is bound to be just the extra bit of stimulation that will go perfectly with your vroom vroom motorcycle vibration.

If you, like me, like something inside sometimes, there is nothing like The Pure Wand. Pure polished stainless steel, 1.51 pounds (POUNDS), eight inches long by 1.5″ at the thicker end and 1″ at the thinner end, and with a perfect g-spot curve. It tends to be pretty cool to the touch, adopting the room’s temperature, unless you warm it up first, which is another delicious side effect, that your body temperature warms it up and it feels different on the way out.

You might think the Pure Wand just isn’t quite big enough, you size queens you, but in my experience folks who like to feel full or filled up often are trying to get their g-spot hit, and this does a beautiful job of that. Perhaps you might need to upgrade to the Eleven, if you can afford it (I’m still trying to get my hands on one of those. Anybody? I should offer something special in exchange for the opportunity to have my own to review …), though I have heard from folks who have both that they prefer the Pure Wand. I’ll have to report back to you on that one in the future.

So there you’ve got it: my three favorite masturbation toys. The Hitachi + Off With Your Head Attachment + The Pure Wand. If there’s a better combination for a lovely afternoon, lounging around on my bed and lovin’ on myself for a while, I don’t know what it is.

Buy the Hitachi: at Babeland, at Good Vibrations, or at the Stockroom
Buy the Off With Your Head Attachment: at Babeland, at Good Vibrations, or at the Stockroom
Buy the Pure Wand: at Babeland, at Good Vibrations, or at the Stockroom

Morning Bondage (Review: Scalloped Cuffs & Snap Hooks)

I woke early the other day, with that familiar urge to hold and protect and control Kristen, maybe it’s the subconscious absorption of her smooth naked skin all night long, how sweet her body feels in my arms as we both turn and slumber, maybe it’s when we go in and out of whatever tough times we’re having, either about each other or just our individual general struggles against the world, maybe it’s just how I am wired, to protect and shelter, and sometimes control and dominate.

I began touching her before she was fully awake. She and I have talked about this, I have permission to take her whenever I want to, particularly in the mornings, she likes to be awakened that way. I kissed her neck and collarbone and breasts and shoulders, let my hand trail slow and soft over her skin as she murmured little sighs and stirred gently, eyelids heavy, not really awake and not really trying to be.

Slipping her panties down and off of her, I stayed low on the bed and kept my hands on her hips, using my elbows to spread her thighs open, the soft and sweet indirect morning light just enough to see the pink and pretty lips of her pussy. Delicate and velvety and I wanted to taste her, lowered my mouth down to run my tongue along the length of her slit. Just the tip of my tongue, breath hot on her cunt, keeping my mouth hovering above her and my hands gripping her hips. She squirmed. Pressed her thighs into the bed, pressed up as high as she could against my mouth, tensed everywhere.

I let my tongue flatten and drag softly, softly along her pussy again, from her hole up to her clit, and rest there, using the soft inner part of my lips to suck and tease.

Kristen comes easily this way. Tongue on her clit, one finger just one knuckle in and circling around the opening of her cunt, she quickly thrashes her arms down into the mattress and gasps, twisting her head and jerking her legs straight. I soften the pressure and go back in, tongue wide and lapping again, with quicker, smaller movements over her clit, until she comes again, crying out a little louder this time, and I shift up the bed to kiss her, hold her close for a moment.

I had set it up a week ago: taken the new fleece-lined wrist cuffs and secured them to another set of cuffs I’d placed around the bars of my headboard with some snap hooks. Kristen likes to struggle, likes to thrash around, and a little bit of restraint goes a long way: it gives her the opportunity to push or pull against something, lets a few more of her muscles tense and tighten and release a little deeper (and plus she doesn’t hit me in the face quite as easily). I took the fleece-lined cuffs down and buckled them around her wrists, then the easy click of the snap hooks secured her wrists to the bedframe.

She immediately calmed and quieted, not out of boredom but out of relaxation, watching me as I moved back down between her legs and set again to tonguing her pussy, making her come. This time I slid two fingers into her pussy, sucking her lips into my mouth and spreading them open with my hands to get to her clit. She strained against the cuffs and I felt the muscles in her stomach and ass tighten every time she pulled against the headboard.

I lost track of how many times she came in my mouth. Sometimes I let up, gave her a break, paused between orgasms, other times I just kept going and she did, too. I brought my elbows up to press her legs apart, kept my fingers inside her or spreading her lips open. I held her hips, pinched her nipples, gripped her ankles, held her legs up by the back of her thighs. I reached for the conveniently located pump bottle of Maximus lube on the nightstand and got a dollop on my third finger so I could slide it into her ass, just a little, filling her up, sucking her clit as swollen as I could and letting up just as she was about to come, changing my stroke down to a tickle until she contracted hard around my fingers and came again, again, again.

I lost track of time. I stopped caring if she was being too loud for this time in the morning, whether my neighbors would be home. I wanted to get my camera out, take up-close macro shots of the curves and lines and folds of her pussy, oh so pink and swollen and beautiful.

Not that she would have minded me doing that, but I didn’t. Next time, perhaps. That image of her arms and legs and pussy spread is still so clear in my mind, still a lovely mental image I’ve replayed more than a few times since then.

The cuffs were easy to unhook, left no marks, no bruises, no dye, were very comfortable. I pulled her close and noticed it was well past time to get up. “Morning, beautiful girl,” I murmured into her hair.

The Fleece Lined Buckling Cuffs w/Scalloped Edge and KinkLab Nickel-Plated Snap Hooks (4-Pack) were sent to me to review from JT’s Stockroom. Check them out for all kinds of other fantastic bondage toys.

Review: Jimmyjane Massage Stone

I jumped at the chance to review a Jimmyjane massage stone from Babeland. It might seem a little cheesy, an odd thing to add to a leather and silicone arsenal of sex toys, like edible underwear or feather ticklers, but I am definitely a fan of massage. Ever since Babeland sent me Bongers (which I traded for a DVD player, I really must get some replacements), I’ve had my eye out for other sensual, relaxing toys that are easy to slip in to foreplay and settling our bodies, before or after or completely separate from sex. Plus, I’ve seen other Jimmyjane products (I have one of those, now), and I trust their high quality.

The Jimmyjane Massage Stones come in three different designs: the I, a barbell for rolling; the M, this one pictured above and the one I received, which is good for broad strokes; and the Q, a smaller node for fine pressure points. They’re all porcelain, and very elegant. Here’s the blurb:

Contour Ceramic Massage Stones offer a modern take on traditional hot stone massage. Made of double-fired porcelain, they’re bio-compatible, durable, and easy to clean. With smooth, polished surfaces, they glide over the skin, relieving tension as they go. Use them individually, or pair the stones for different massage techniques. Warm them up to soothe, or cool them down to refresh.

It’s kind of hard to tell they’re porcelain, actually—the one I have feels a bit like plastic. But it’s hard to tell, it’s very smooth. I think I just expected it to be heavier. Since it’s porcelain, it could be warmed or cooled, which I haven’t tried yet, but I think that sounds lovely. Now, I just need to get my hands on some decent massage oil so the stone can go a bit deeper into the muscles. Makes me want to watch a bunch of the “how to massage your lover” films available on Netflix’s instant watch (though I suspect most of those will be too cheesy to get through).

The M fits very nicely in the palm of the hand, and feels great on the tight spots in my shoulders and back. I have some ongoing problems with my shoulders, actually, mostly from bad posture (read: early breast development) and from all the computer work I’ve done for the last fifteen years. Anything that can get in there and start lightening the knots feels great, I won’t ever turn that down.

Funny, I was just thinking last night about acts of service that I would always accept. A shoulder massage is pretty much always welcome. Glad I’ve got this little convenient tool around to make it easier.

The Jimmyjone Natural Contour Massage Stone M was sent to me from Babeland for review. Pick up other sex toys from Babeland, still my favorite feminist, queer, friendly, educational neighborhood sex shop, in Seattle, Brooklyn, two Manhattan locations, or online.

Review: Please, Sir (Book) & Book Tour

Please, Sir edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago and I was thrilled to see it. Right away I noticed how luscious and vivid the cover image is … Rachel always has great covers, but it’s one of my favorites. Her bright, open eyes and the colors of her skin and corset (!), digitally smoothed no doubt, but stunning.

And Cleis Press does such a nice job with these titles of Rachel’s. She’s got like a million published by now, I’m sure you’ve seen them if you’re an erotica reader, which you probably are, since you’re reading this site. Most of them are pansexual—written from various orientations, gay, straight, bi—and focused around a particular topic or theme, like shoes or spanking or short-short stories or, in the case of Please, Sir, “erotic stories of female submission.”

They are strictly from the perspective of the female submissive, and so the stories are written by women. Most of the contents are heterosexual, with the dominant in the story being a guy. They are not so gender-forward or radical, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t lovely: they are. And that doesn’t mean that a queer like me didn’t enjoy the book: I did, very much.

It’s kind of like Kate Bornstein’s WALL-E theory—that it’s possible to superimpose your desired gender combination into stories and songs and art, even if it isn’t what the author initially intended. And in this case, it’s not so hard to consider that this “guy” is a butch who goes by male pronouns (at least for this scene), and to read it with a queer eye, imposing my own desires and orientation and gender identities on top of the dominants.

Reading it this way makes the stories really hot, actually. Whereas it’s still kind of a challenge for me to read stories of male dominance and female submission, since I suspect so easily and quickly the ways that dynamic is prescribed and unquestioned, when I imagine it a butch and femme, or more of a queer dynamic, I can quickly see the dynamic as a parody of itself, an intentional play upon the prescribed roles, and that is, for whatever reasons, precisely what I like.

A couple stories stand out: the one by Kissa Starling, about the brat, the woman in a little girl role acting out by flirting with other guys while her Daddy is observing her, then punishes her, ultimately asking her what it was she really needed, why she was acting out. There were a couple rather complex concepts explained in there that I connected with. (I didn’t love the end, where it seemed like the girl didn’t actually learn anything but was going to simply continue acting out, but the rest of it had some good stuff.)

I really appreciated Rachel’s introduction, too. Here’s a snippet:

Introduction by Rachel Kramer Bussel: Risk and Reward

If you ask me, submission is an art form. It requires dedication, focus, commitment and desire and there’s no single way of doing it. It’s about unlocking something within yourself so you can reach beyond your normal limits, exposing your body and soul in order to go somewhere you cannot get to alone.

I had a lover who always told me that the key to life is “High risk, high reward.” The same is true about kink, and this is evident throughout the stories in Please, Sir, which explores female submission and male dominance from the sub’s point of view. When these characters take risks, they are rewarded…even when those rewards look like “punishment.” They are rewarded in all kinds of ways, from being bound to being praised to being choked, spanked or put on display. They are rewarded by being tested again and again.

Hot, eh? This whole book is like that, intentional and beautiful in its descriptions of submission and surrender. Sometimes I don’t get enough of that perspective in my own work, I get so involved in topping and in describing the topping and dominance that sometimes, it feels strange that anybody would not want to be the top, or be the dominant, since that is so clearly what I want and what I like. It feels deeply validating to be reminded that there are people out there who need to submit in similar ways to how I need to dominate, that our desires run parallel and complimentary, that we fit into each other. This book is a really lovely validation. I’ll certainly pick it up again and thumb through it on occasion, finding more gems of stories, connecting to new ones each time I read or re-read.

Kristen and I brought it on our camping trip a few weeks ago, and read a few stories aloud to each other, which was a lovely way to spend an evening curled up in a tent. I also love reading erotica aloud on road trips (though Kristen can’t read while in a car, and I tend to drive, so we don’t do that often).

As if that isn’t enough to encourage you to check out this new publication, here’s the amazingly sexy book trailer that Rachel put together:

Yeah, okay, so that’s all that needs said.

Check out the rest of the Please, Sir blog tour on pleasesirbook.wordpress.com, and buy it at your local, independent, feminist, queer activist bookstore, or, if you must, on Amazon.

Giveaway: Pleasure Panties

As of 2/8/16 This product is no longer available at Babeland

I go back and forth on the word “panties.” Usually, I think I use “undies,” and I do like “thong,” as a word, though my girl rarely (never?) wears those.

But, y’know, when Christina says it’s sexy, I listen.

“Panties is a wonderful word. When did you stop saying “panties”? It’s sexy. It’s girlie. It’s naughty. Say it more.” —Christina Hendricks in May’s Esquire.

So: I introduce to you, I introduce you to, to you I introduce, the Pleasure Panties. The idea is that the wearer gives the remote to someone else, and has to endure all kinds of turning-on and buzzing and vibration up against her clit while trying to keep her composure.

A lovely little torture indeed.

I’m not usually such a fan of little gimmicky vibes like this, but you know what sold me? Of course you do. You know me so well. Yeah, it was the ribbons. The ties on the side. That casual little bow that says, “Oops! I didn’t mean to come untied, silly me.” I even have a whole “ribbon” category over on my Tumblr. I’m easy sometimes, a sucker, it’s true. But hey, it’s good to know what you like!

Want these little Pleasure Panties? (It still sounds funny, sorry Christina!) Leave a comment on this post with one naughty thing you’ve done in public, or one thing you wish you’d done in public, or one thing you fantasize about in public, or, you know, something else entirely, and I’ll pick one random lucky winner on Monday morning.

PS: If you live outside the US, you’ll have to throw in a few bucks for shipping.

These Pleasure Panties were provided by Babeland for giveaway. Visit the Babeland website for more great sex toys like this one. Thanks, Babeland!

Review: Moon Glass Plug, and How We Played With It

This, my friends and readers, is the Moon Glass Plug from Good Vibrations, and it is beautiful.

Can’t you tell already, just by looking at it? That blown glass with the gentle blue coming through it? (Maybe that’s just me. I do have a thing for blue glass. If I had it my way, all of my dishes would be blue glass.)

The other night, when Kristen and I were playing, I had her on her stomach in front of me, her chest down on the bed but her knees under her, ass up. We’d already been fucking for a while, she’d come three or four or eight times, who can keep track, and I slid my cock in from behind her while lubing up my fingers. For a while I just touched her asshole gently on the outside, I could feel her relaxing and starting to enjoy the feeling, opening up a little, pushing back against my finger and cock. I had the Moon Glass Plug out, ready to use, and touched it too against her asshole, but she wasn’t really ready for it, so I started with my fingers instead.

“Put your fingers on your clit,” I said.

She did, brought her hand down between her legs. I started sliding my finger into her asshole, just a little, really only knuckle-deep, just so she could feel it for a while. But it didn’t take long before she was getting all hot and squirming against me, bucking her hips harder, and I worked my finger a little faster in her ass, not deeper, just faster, which she liked, oh I could tell she liked it right away. I’m not sure what she did exactly, moaned maybe, or just responded physically in a way that was clear that was it, right there, perfect.

I noticed I’d kind of stopped moving my cock, so tried to get my hips going while she continued to work herself up. Now, this is a girl who can come by her own fingers in mere moments, so that it was taking much time at all was telling in that she must’ve been very worked up. I could feel her clenching hard on my cock, so hard in fact that she started to push me out, clenching her ass too, hand moving faster, gasping, as she came, hard.

So hard, in fact, that she ejaculated, gushed all over my cock and thighs. I silently thanked my Liberator Throe, and out loud, groaned. “That was so damn hot.”

I moved forward up to the pillow to hold her closer and kiss her for a while. She asked if I’d used the glass. “No,” I said, “that was my finger, just a little of it. Do you want to try it yourself?”

She took it from me and slowly worked it into her ass. For a while she said, “it’s too big, it’s too big!” but didn’t want to give up, and was certain she could do it if she moved slowly. I stayed next to her as she took the whole thing, finally, then brought her hands down to her cunt again to get off a few more times.

I told her I wanted to watch for a while, asked if she wanted my help.

“No,” she said. But then, later: “Lay on top of me?”

She likes the weight, holding her down. I spread my forearm across her breastbone and kissed her, my body slightly lifted from hers as she continued to work her hands between her legs. I like to watch the way her body gets all tense, then releasing as she comes.

I like to watch in general.

She came again, once nice and hard, then another for good measure, collapsing onto the bed. It took a little more work to get the plug out of her ass, since it’s pretty thick and spherical in the middle and has that skinny little neck before it flares to a plug. It’s only 3 1/4” long x 1 3/8” wide, but the shape makes a difference, and even makes it feel more thick than it actually is (though it is pretty thick).

And it’s gorgeous. Did I mention that it’s gorgeous? The most beautiful butt plug I own, though I don’t know if I usually describe them as “beautiful,” so perhaps that’s easy. The glass is smooth and hard, and very simple to clean. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but since it’s easily sterilizable, I will be. And I’m looking forward to seeing it in her ass again, too.

The beautiful Moon Glass Plug was sent to me for review by Good Vibrations. Get your own, or a different butt plug, or many other fabulous sex toys over at the Good Vibes website.

Review: The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex For Women (Book)

One of the first things I procured when Kristen and I decided to undergo an anal sex educational adventure was Tristan Taormino’s book The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex For Women. It is clearly THE definite guide on the subject, she is, as Time Out New York quotes on the cover, “the go-to girl on anal sex,” and she is a fantastic writer.

So we picked it up. Kristen tore through it quickly, absorbing what she needed to, but I took longer, picking it up and reading a chapter here and there for the past few months. I’ve been around in sex positive circles and sex education circles long enough that none of the information was particularly new, but regardless, it was really helpful to see it all laid out clearly again, in a quick and easy guide type of style.

It’s really well-constructed, too. It starts with Myths About Anal Sex and moves into Anal Anatomy, both very specific basics to cover. And since Kristen and I both are pretty (okay, extremely) analytical, we like to do our research. We like to have all the information.

Tristan’s third chapter was especially a good one for me, which is “Beyond Our Bodies: Emotional and Psychological Aspects of Anal Eroticism,” and covers talking about it, fear, and trust. I think some of what Kristen and I come up against is some hesitation around this, the fear and trust, and struggling with wanting to do something (like take a cock up the ass) and having that actually be uncomfortable, but feeling bad that it doesn’t feel better. Well, it’s certainly possible that it won’t actually feel better, that you just don’t like that sensation, that you don’t come more easily from anal than from vaginal penetration (unlike Madison Young, for example). But it’s also possible that we just keep going slow, and I know some of the things we do are very pleasurable, and perhaps eventually we’ll build up into something even more so.

I’m writing a little cryptically in the plural and second person here, but probably you already know that what I’ve been talking about is me fucking Kristen’s ass. And she (and everyone else on the entire Internet) knows that I’m interested in doing that … but I am, first and foremost, interested in it feeling good. (I know some of the things we play with don’t directly “feel good,” like getting slapped, but there’s a release there that is not about discomfort. That’s not the same thing.) I don’t care how soon, or if EVER, we get to the point of playing where I can actually be strapped on and fucking her ass.

On the other hand, I know she likes it, sometimes, when she’s really turned on and I work just one knuckle of my finger in … and I know she’s interested in exploring more, she’s told me such explicitly. I’ve got to remember to be clear that this isn’t about the destination, but about the journey, and about the exploring.

I’ve kind of successfully avoided talking about the, perhaps, elephant in the room surrounding anal week: what about my ass?

Yeah. Well.

That’s actually really hard for me to write about! Which is why I haven’t yet really gone there. Even with my review of Tristan’s Anniversary plug (ooh la la) last year, I avoided talking about how I actually used it and how it felt.

It feels pretty intimate to reveal, I guess … and you all know that I do bottom, sometimes, or at least, I used to. I have, in the past. Quite a bit, in fact. And I have a lot of experience with anal sex, my high school ex-boyfriend of five years (whom I think I’ve referred to as Mike here on this site?) used to love it and we had quite a good time with it.

I know, I know! Wait, what? Not only am I talking about things going into my own ass, I’m talking about being fucked by a cis guy! Maybe I’m deflecting. You know, “Hey Mom, I have cancer. Just kidding, I’m gay!”

Anyway.

My own ass has been pretty much left out of the equation here, mostly because, these days, frankly, I’m a little bit stone. Not entirely, and I don’t have specific rules about the parts of my body that she can or cannot touch, but usually I actually ask for things done to me, and she doesn’t usually assert what she wants to do or make requests. Which I very much like. Nine times out of ten, or maybe more like ninety-five times out of a hundred, I don’t want to be touched, don’t really want the focus on me. Or, I want it to be directed by me, and focused on me in the ways that I choose it to be. It’s taken me a while to get here, and I like it. I’ve never been so sexually satisfied with a partner.

But … that’s not to say that I wouldn’t like something in my ass on occasion. I wonder if having a butt plug in while wearing a harness would make me come easier, in fact. It’s a subject I haven’t talked to Kristen about much (ahem, really, at all), but something worth playing with.

Speaking of trust, and fear.

Back to the review:

Tristan covers freakin’ everything. Hygiene, shaving, enemas, safer sex, lube, toys, masturbation, analingus (or, as Dylan reminds us, rimming), penetration, anal pleasure for men, BDSM, long-term butt plug wear, anal fisting … everything! She has nice little sidebars featuring questions from readers, which she answers expertly and clearly. AND it has great cartoon-y drawings of toys, people doin’ it, gloves, and all sorts of things that need visual representation.

So nice to have such a great resource available, eh?

If you’re interested in anal sex, either a beginner or a frequent lover of the activity, this will deepen your play, offer you lots of support for any questions or qualms you’re having, and maybe even give you some new ideas of hot things you can incorporate and play with. Absolutely worth reading.

I hear she’s also got a great DVD series, Expert’s Guides, featuring The Expert Guide to Anal Sex, which I’m going to do my best to get my hands on next.

Sex toys - EdenFantasys adult toys store

The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women (2nd Edition) was sent to me for review by Eden Fantasys. Get more books, anal toys, or other sex toys over at Eden. Thanks!

Review: Talk To Me Baby (VOD)

Do you remember Hard Love & How to Fuck in High Heels and Sugar High Glitter City? They were the very first butch/femme dyke porn I ever saw, and I have a special little place in my, uh, heart, for the work of S.I.R. Productions, and the smokin’ hot couple behind it, Shar Rednour and Jackie Strano.

I never saw their third (or perhaps fourth?) film, Talk To Me Baby: A Lover’s Guide to Dirty Talk and Role Play, but it was just released by Hot Movies 4 Her as a video on demand! So of course I rushed to watch it.

It’s 57 minutes long and I think it is mostly clips of scenes from their other films—the last scene, for example, is one of the first scenes in Hard Love where Jackie is jacking off and talking dirty, which is incredibly hot. There are a few hetero scenes, but the talking is lovely, sexy, and interesting.

Here’s the HM4H description:

Talk To Me Baby: A Lover’s Guide To Dirty Talk & Role Play: This lovers’ guide to dirty talk and role play teaches and shows how having a smutty mouth can spice up your sex life. Sex educator and performer Shar Rednour reigns as the Diva of Dirty Talk hosting a bevy of lust-driven lovers who melt the screen with passionate pillow talk and scorching sexual fantasy in this XXplicit viceo by the creators of the AVN Award Winning dyke hit Hard love & How to Fuck in High Heels and the groundbreaking Bend Over Boyfriend series.

I haven’t actually seen the Bend Over Boyfriend series, and I think the first two came between S.I.R.’s first two dyke porns and this one, but if some of what’s in Talk To Me Baby is clips from that series, it’s pretty damn good.

If you’re Shar & Jackie fans, like Kristen and I both are, you might be a bit disappointed that this isn’t actually Shar and Jackie talking dirty to each other on camera. Kristen said that’s what she was hoping it would be. (Shar and/or Jackie! You could still make that video, ya know? Please add it to your list of possibilities, if you feel inspired to make it in the future I would absolutely buy it. Video or audio recording!) It still has a lot of very useful tips, and some great examples, and it’s a great place to start if you want to add more dirty talking to your sex life.

Review: Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence (Book)

I’ve been reading Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence by Esther Perel this past week, and it was an interesting enough read to mention it here. I have written quite a lot about my own path to pursuing and finding a fulfilling sexual relationship, as this site was started primarily because I found myself in a lesbian bed death relationship with my ex and was trying to write my way out of it, and to a new sexuality.

Though the cover looks all mainstream self-help-y, it isn’t. Perel is a seasoned therapist and it is mostly full of psychological examples of her clients’ complications in keeping their long-term relationship strong while still having their sexual needs met.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

One of the world’s most respected voices on erotic intelligence, Esther Perel offers a bold, provocative new take on intimacy and sex. Mating in Captivity invites us to explore the paradoxical union of domesticity and sexual desire, and explains what it takes to bring lust home. Drawing on more than twenty years of experience as a couples therapist, Perel examines the complexities of sustaining desire. Through case studies and lively discussion, Perel demonstrates how more exciting, playful, and even poetic sex is possible in long-term relationships. Wise, witty, and as revelatory as it is straightforward, Mating in Captivity is a sensational book that will transform the way you live and love.

Perel quotes many authors I’ve read (and liked), has a very open minded view about kink and fantasy, and grew up largely outside of the US, which gives her a perspective on our achievement-oriented culture that I appreciate. She does include some gay and lesbian couples in her examples, and her examples and suggestions aren’t heteronormative.

The Amazon description reads: “Some of the proposals Perel recommends for rekindling eroticism involve cultivating separateness (e.g., autonomy) in a relationship rather than closeness (entrapment); exploring dynamics of power and control (i.e., submission, spanking); and learning to surrender to a “sexual ruthlessness” that liberates us from shame and guilt.” YES. Isn’t that precisely what I advocate here on Sugarbutch, in fact? Especially within lesbian cultures, the codependency that comes with the “merging” is so normal it’s practically expected, and I feel like we constantly have to fight against it to avoid it. Somewhere Perel has a line about keeping the spark going, how in order to have the spark you have to have friction, and in order to have friction you have to have a gap between you. That is autonomy, right there, and if one or both of the folks in the relationship don’t have enough of it, the spark won’t be cultivated. Obviously I explore a lot of the dynamics of power and control, and I write about why that stuff can be fun and liberating instead of reproducing some sort of dangerous power dynamic. And shame and guilt? I wish it was possible to just wave a magic wand and take away the shame and guilt about sex from this culture—wanting sex, wanting kinky sex, wanting more sex, our carnal desires in general.

To quote Tara Hardy: “This is the sweet glory reason for a body in the first place.”

I really believe that. Now, if only I can find a way to help teach the undoing of that shame and guilt. (I know, I know, that’s lofty. But hey, why not aim high?)

Perel has some great concepts around the conflicts between the dichotomy of love vs lust, stability vs passion, security vs adventures, occasionally misunderstood as a mutually exclusive binary, but, she argues, is really a “paradox to be managed” instead of a “problem to solve.”

It is a puzzle. Can you hold the awareness of each polarity? You need each at different times, but you can’t have both at the same time. Can you accept that? It’s not an either-or situation, but one where you get the benefits of each and also recognize the limits o each. It’s an ebb and flow. Love and desire are two rhythmic yet clashing forces that are always in a state of flux and always looking for the balance point. —p84

I’m not sure if “you can’t have both at the same time,” I think you can love someone and still feel passionate. But you can’t necessarily have security and adventure at the same time … though what if you’re on a backpacking trip with your sweetheart? You’re having an adventure, but you’re with your lover, so you feel the stability that that relationship can cultivate. And sometimes when I’m having kinky sex and talking all kinds of dirty with Kristen, what’s streaming through the back of my mind is I love you I love you I love you

Still, I get the point. And I really appreciate Perel’s encouragement of treating sex like a hobby, like something you pursue, like grown-up play—that’s what it is.

I was kind of hoping I’d come away with a better sense of how to “unlock” my “erotic intelligence,” but I can’t say I feel like that skill was cultivated so well. (Or perhaps I’ve already done that, for the most part, and while there’s more to do, a book aimed at a general audience might not be teaching me what I’m trying to learn.) I wouldn’t say I had any grand revelations from Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence, but it’s very well-written, open minded, and articulate, and it feels very much in line with the work I’m trying to do. I will likely recommend it in the future.

Review: Sugar High Glitter City (VOD)

I know, I know: I already reviewed Sugar High Glitter City! What am I doing mentioning it again?

Well, it’s worth mentioning twice. Because holy crap, Shar and Jackie. Swoon. I wish they would make some more porn.

sugarBut also, Hot Movies 4 Her (which powers the video-on-demand Sugarbutch queer porn affiliate site) JUST added Sugar High Glitter City to their repertoire. Lucky you! That means you can buy some minutes, check out each of the scenes, and only pay for the minutes you watch—so instead of making the DVD $30 investment (or whatever it is, jeez porn is expensive) you can watch the first few minutes (or the middle few minutes) of each scene and decide whether it’s worth it to see the whole scene. Or fast forward when you’re not into it.

Here’s the HM4H writeup about the porn:

Sugar High Glitter City
Studio: S.I.R. Productions Directors: Jackie Strano & Shar Rednour

It’s the future. Sugar is outlawed. Cane-addicted dykes stop at nothing to get it – even selling their own bodies! The dynamic dyke team of SIR Video slams the dykespoitation genre into fast-forward with this sticky-fingered belly-crawl through Glitter City’s underworld of sugar-pimps and sandy hos. Fabulously diverse cast and multiple dyke sexualities crunch to the center in this fast-paced futuristic farce. Urban-encrusted glam, gutter-glitter lust, and candy-coated sleaze.

And if you click on over to the VOD site you’ll see some of the photos from each of the scenes, too. That first scene—the threesome with two butches and a femme, where Jackie is talking dirty the whole time? Holy crap I love that one. I think I studied it about eight or so years ago when I had a VHS copy of it in order to learn how to talk that way. She’s one of the best dirty talkers in porn I’ve ever seen.

Actually, speaking of dirty talk, S.I.R. Productions also has a “Talk Dirty To Me” film, which I’ve still never seen, but that I hear HM4H will be adding to their collection in the near future. Will most certainly watch that as soon as I can, and report back to y’all how it is.

Books That Changed My Life

Back when Sugarbutch was a little baby new blog (did you know it will turn 4 in April?!), I used to write a Sunday Scribblings prompt often. This week’s prompt was “the book that changed everything” and I already happened to have a halfway done list in my drafts, so I figured I’d go back to it and finish it up.

It was going to be a “new year, new you” type of post, which gives away that I started it in January, and which kind of explains the self-help-y list. But of course I couldn’t make a list and show it off here without adding some of my favorite sex books, too!

But first, the stuff to enhance your renaissance-man (regardless of gender!) fabulous self. In alphabetical order:

  1. The Art of Civilized Conversation: A Guide to Expressing Yourself With Style and Grace by Margaret Shepherd. Excellent for dating, deepening relationships with people you already know and like, and generally elevating the discussion around you. I especially remember the part about how conversations between two people should start with facts, move to opinions, and then and only then should you discuss emotions.
  2. How to Cook Everything (Vegetarian) by Mark Bittman. Whether or not you know how to cook, this is a fantastic resource. I got a copy of the vegetarian version over the holidays. Though Bittman isn’t famous for his desserts (pastries aren’t really his strong point, or, let’s be honest, so says Kristen) he has a little bit of everything in here and chances are, it’ll be a great starting point, if not an excellent recipe. Lots of great tips for technique, too.
  3. The Modern Gentleman: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy and Vice by Phineas Mollod and Jason Tesauro. I have dreams of writing a butch equivalent, but shh that’s a secret. This contains excellent thoughts about conducting oneself socially, manners, conversation, style, how to tie ties, how to order drinks, how to be suave on a date, all sorts of things that a gentleman would want to know. Not impressed with the sex part (cheesy!) but hey you can’t win ’em all. Along with Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Style, this is one of the books about masculinity that I recommend most.
  4. The Power of Less: The 6 Essential Productivity Principles That Will Change Your Life by Leo Babauta. You probably already read Zen Habits, so you know Babauta’s style and simplicity. This book is a lovely collection of philosophies on productivity, minimalism, moving on, getting shit done, and focusing on what you really want to do. Along with The Four-Hour Work Week, this really changed my attitude about my time (a non-renewable resource!) and how I make decisions.
  5. There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate by Cheri Huber. Huber is a buddhist monk, founded two zen monasteries in California, has written about twenty books, and travels widely. I found her writing when I was in high school and have been reading and re-reading ever since. It’s kind of self-help-y, yes, but there’s a lot of spirituality, philosophy, and psychology in it too, which the best self-help books contain. She has many other titles that I’d also recommend, The Depression Book: Depression as an Opportunity for Spiritual Growth literally changed my life when I first read it, and Be the Person You Want To Find: Relationships and Self-Discovery is a great book for those of us seeking long-term valuable love relationships. Speaking of love relationships, I can’t not mention If the Buddha Dated and If the Buddha Married by Charlotte Kasl. Both were very life-changing and eye-opening to my own patterns and tendencies, and very useful. Kasl is a buddhist quaker feminist psychotherapist, and her perspective is so full of lovingkindness and sweetness and understanding that you can’t not be drawn in, only to learn about yourself and your tendencies. Though it’s pretty hetero-focused in its example couples, I tend to change the pronouns (or pretend it’s a butch going by him/her and a femme). Kristen and I have been reading through it aloud and discussing it, which can be intense but has been great.

And because I can’t make a book list without having sex books on it:

  1. Moregasm: Babeland’s Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex by Rachel Venning and Claire Cavanah, founders of Babeland. I’ve already mentioned this book on Sugarbutch recently, but it’s worth mentioning again. Modern, fun, wide-ranging, inclusive, sexy, kinky, open, welcoming. And the design is just so damn cute. If I had coffee table books, this would be one of them.
  2. The Topping Book and The Bottoming Book by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy. I recommend these books constantly to folks who want to get more involved in power play or topping and bottoming roles in their sex lives. So many of my philosophies come from these books, and they are incredibly full of useful tips and ideas about aftercare, safewords, top drop, negotiations.
  3. Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-First Century by Barbara Carrellas. Tantra books are usually way too cheesy for me to even get through, and I have some experience with tantra. But this one is different. Carrellas (@urbantantrika) is as grounded as she is woo-woo, as queer and kinky as she is accessible and open. If you’ve always been curious about tantra, this is a great place to start.
  4. Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships by Tristan Taormino. There are very few smart books written about polyamory and open relationships (The Ethical Slut, now in a new edition, by the authors of the Topping/Bottoming Books, being the classic cannon), and this is the most recent. I’ve admired Taormino’s work for a long time, since her sex column at the Village Voice (collected into a book called True Lust), and she’s done some pretty amazing things in mainstream porn since then. I love that she’s bringing and underground queer feminist perspective to the things she’s doing, it makes her work even more complex and fantastic. Her most recent book (aside from Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica!) is The Big Book of Sex Toys, which I don’t have my hands on yet but will be reporting all about when I do.
  5. Exhibitionism For the Shy: Show Off, Dress Up and Talk Hot! by Carol Queen. The Amazon description says “[e]xhibitionism as a consensual erotic pleasure and a means to overcome shyness and body image issues” and I LOVE that idea! I’m not actually sure where my copy of this has escaped to, perhaps I lost it in a break-up, but there’s a relatively new edition from 2009 that I should get my hands on regardless. Want to feel more sexy, show off, but feel self-conscious? Pick up this book. In case you don’t already know Carol Queen, she’s the owner of the Good Vibrations toy shops and director of The Center for Sex and Culture in San Francisco. She also wrote one of my favorite erotica books, The Leather Daddy and the Femme.

Whew! Okay, that should keep you busy for the next few months, hm? I hope at least one of these is interesting and might enhance your life in some way. Books can be so magical like that.

I’ve included the links to Amazon, and while if you click through those links I do get a teeny tiny kickback from your purchases, I still encourage you to visit your local independent bookstore and support them by ordering these books through them. If you want them to be around next year, that means spending your money in their shop. I know they aren’t as cheap as Amazon, and probably not quite as convenient, but you’ll miss them when they’re gone. Or at least, I will. A lot.

So? What books changed YOUR life?

Lambda Literary Nominees Featuring “This One’s Going to Last Forever”

The Lambda Literary Award nominees were announced today, and as usual I’m making a checklist of ones I’ve read, ones I’d like to read, and the ones I think will win be finalists. And, as usual, the only transgender content is in the specific “Transgender” category, though the “Bisexual” category has split into fiction and non-fiction because, it seems, there are finally enough nominees to warrant it. Are there really that few books on trans and bisexual issues? Puzzling. Overall this year, there are 112 finalists in 23 categories. I’m sure there’s got to be a book or two or five in there that you’d love to read. Check it out.

Special congratulations to Nairne Holtz, whose book This One’s Going to Last Forever (Insomniac Press) was nominated in the Lesbian Fiction category. Holtz has a short story called “Bait and Switch” in Best Lesbian Erotica 2009, an anthology in which I also have a story, and when we were both in New York City at the end of 2009 for the annual Best Lesbian Erotica reading at the Drunken! Careening! Writers! reading series at KGB bar, hosted by Kathleen Warnock (who is coming to read at the very first Sideshow!), and I have had a chance to read This One’s Going to Last Forever. It is a collection of short stories and a novella. Here’s the description:

This One’s Going to Last Forever reflects both the naive optimism of those who have yet to learn about love and the cynicism of those who feel that by now they should know better.

Clara, a university student working at the McGill Daily, discovers that in love and politics, commitment is often more imagined than real. Kelly and Sonya share a bond that has less to do with love than with their dependence on each other and a succession of friends who supply them with heroin. A middle-aged man who performs drive-through weddings dressed as Elvis realizes, as he marries his first same-sex couple, that the only domestic partner he is ever likely to have is his ailing father. But when he ends his latest relationship, an unlikely friendship results.

The characters in these darkly comic stories and novella may be searching for love in all the wrong places, but they are also able to find love in the most unexpected places.

The Lambda Literary Foundation recently relaunched their website and it’s quite spiffy, by the way.