Posts Tagged ‘amy butcher’
I’ve been working with The Body Electric School since 2000, since I was just barely out and hadn’t even slept with a girl yet, since the year after I left my high school boyfriend of six years right before I had an abortion and decided that was how certain I had to be in order to become the me I was meeting in dreams.
Body Electric changed and formed and forged my adult sense of both sexuality and spirituality. It has interwoven the two of those things, my callings and my desires, my body and my understanding of god, such that I can almost not untangle them anymore—my sexual explorations are a way to deepen my spirituality and sense of energy and self on the planet, my love of and relationship with the planet is a way to fuel my relationships with and energetic exchanges with (read: fuckfests) other people.
Since I got involved almost thirteen years ago, the work has been divided into “men’s workshops,” “women’s workshops,” and “men and women’s workshops.” But the teachers that I’ve been learning from and am coming up under—Alex Jade and Lizz Randall, namely, who are both queer and genderqueer, Alex being on the dandy masculine side of things and Lizz being a femme—along with my friend and butt buddy (long story) Amy Butcher, the coordinator in San Francisco, and I have all decided that we want to bust open the binary gender system within BE, create more room for trans and genderqueer folks to be able to be included in this work, and to start doing more work with those populations.
And voila, the Outside the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic workshop was born.
It is based on the Celebrating the Body Erotic (CBE) workshop model, which is a finely honed workshop that builds on itself from very gentle interaction on Friday night to an intense community experience on Sunday afternoon. It is a clothing-optional workshop where some erotic touch is invited and possible. Everything is done with deep consent, with lots of checking in with one’s self and lots of trust that the others in the workshop are doing that too, and the work is deeply trauma-informed, meaning that we know and expect that we hold a lot of trauma in our bodies, and when we are working specifically on our bodies and our genitals and our relationship with them, we know many things come up. Feelings of shame, fear, being threatened, memories. Lots of things that we may have the ability to actually bring up in a safe enough container that we can let it go. That, to me, is part of the essence of the healing.
But, the integration of new gender policies into the larger Body Electric School has been very hard. The organization is majority run by gay men and serves gay men, probably 80% of the workshops are men’s workshops, and yes, that pretty much means cis men.
We are trying to change this.
The women’s teams have made the decisions to go forward with the women’s workshops as including ALL WOMEN, all trans women regardless of body or surgery or whatever, and all people born female who can bring our female or women-identified parts into the circle. There will be an ALL MEN’s workshop coming soon, hypothetically, that BE is working on. And as we are offering more “mixed gender” workshops, like the Power, Surrender, and Intimacy workshop I’m doing in New York this fall, we are making it “all genders” instead of “mixed,” and inviting anyone with a body to come.
And of course, there’s the Outside the Boxes workshop. It (or another CBE or equivalent) is a prerequisite for any of the more advanced or intermediate workshops. It gives an amazing introduction to how this work is done and what we do with it. It teaches all sorts of basic tools, like consent and breath, and encourages deep embodiment.
I am so in love with this work. I have been working so, so hard to bring this work to my people—you genderqueer trans queer genderfluid gendernonconforming folks whom I adore and whom I am dying to be in erotic circles with. Please come. There are still spaces available in this workshop, though we are going to cap it at 24 to keep it a manageable and good size. Please come. I know it’s expensive, but it is worth every dollar and probably more, and we made it a sliding scale so that we can get as many people there as possible. Please come. Prove to the Body Electric School that this work is worth it, is lucrative, is needed in the world, and is received when we offer it. Please come.
Dear universe, please send a full, abundant, explorative group of people to explore this work in Philadelphia in March. I cannot wait to meet them all. I want more colleagues on this path, and I want more playmates, and I want more support as I pursue this work. I believe so deeply in the power of this to heal us, and I know that my people need this healing as much or more than anybody. It is my calling. I know it’s important in the world. Please send abundance. Love, Sinclair.
Are you buzzing? Are you intrigued? Get in touch with me, even if you aren’t sure if you’ll do it or not. I can tell you more about it. I want to give it to you, want to give you this gift of this work. Are you feeling called? Listen to that place beyond the “oh I can’t make that happen logistics logistics” “ugh it’s too expensive” “I don’t know I’m so scared!” chatter, and see if it’s time.
Here’s the details on the workshop. Please share this widely with friends and folks you might know near Philadelphia!
Your gender. Your body. Your energy. Your beautiful self. How often has the world tried to force you into the gender binary, asked you to assure it that your pronouns matched what it saw rather than what you felt, required that your genitals conform to expectations, demanded that you deny the complexity of all that is you?
What if you could come into a community in which all expressions were possible? Where gender, sexuality and expression were aligned according to your truth? Where no one assumed what parts would go where? Welcome to Out of the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic!
Come explore your erotic potential through the mind, the body and the heart using conscious breath, movement, process work and massage. Awaken the erotic energy that lies within all of us. Through a queer tantra lens, explore archetypal masculine and feminine energies and the myriad ways they can be expressed. Break down silos of gender and sexuality.
This workshop focuses on the entire body and is conducted in a container that is playful, safe and reverential. Using carefully designed experiential embodiment practices participants will:
- explore the innate wisdom of your body
- expand awareness, sensation and pleasure through conscious breath, movement, touch, and communication, where each person’s choices and rhythms are honored
- learn how to more deeply tune in to your body, mind, heart and spirit
- to receive more fully from yourself and others, and to give without losing yourself
learn to give and receive full-body massage and to focus on the healing potential of sensual/spiritual energy
- learn from your own and others’ unfolding, and feel awed witnessing and supporting our uniqueness and commonalities
Out of the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic is a 2 1/2 day workshop (Friday evening, all day Saturday and Sunday), often clothing-optional, for those who are ready to vigorously explore new levels of feeling and aliveness, both within themselves and within a community of queers. Space is limited, so please register early.
NOTE: Couples are welcome to attend Out of the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic and have the option of working together or with the other participants.
WORKSHOP FEE: $250-495. This workshop offers a sliding scale fee dependent upon personal financial circumstances. We believe the work is important and those who need it be considered. Please contact the Coordinator to discuss.
March 1-3, Philadelphia, PA: contact Sinclair Sexsmith, email@example.com
October 11-13, Oakland, CA: contact Amy Butcher, firstname.lastname@example.org
Register on the Body Electric website.
One of my best friends, Amy Butcher, published a mystery novel this summer called Paws for Consideration. It’s about a wheelchair-bound woman named Daisy who lives in the Castro and loves dogs (more than people, most of the time). She stumbles upon a dog whose owner is dead on the street and vows to solve the mystery of his death when nobody else seems to be doing much about it—and stumbles into a world of BDSM play parties and leather and queers.
It’s such a fun read, pretty quick, hard to put down, and full of San Francisco references and internal dog dialogue (I have a theory that pretty much all that any/every dog thinks is, “I’m a dog I’m a dog I’madog,” but Ames is convincing me otherwise). I highly recommend it—it’s on Amazon!
This Thursday—tomorrow!—Ames is doing a big release party/scavenger hunt in San Francisco at the women’s building for this book. I wish I could be there! I was trying to figure out some way that I could, but it didn’t work out. Please go in my place and say congratulations to her for me—you can say I sent you, then you’ll have an excuse to talk to her. (She’s a hot silverfox butch, if you hadn’t noticed that yet, so you might want an excuse to say hi.)
- Thursday, August 30th
Audre Lorde Room, The Women’s Building
(3543 18th Street, San Francisco)
6:00-7:00 optional scavenger hunt
7:00-8:30 awesome event!
RSVP on Facebook
Join us in celebrating the publication of Paws for Consideration, the debut mystery novel from former Women’s Building board member Amy Butcher. Performers, readings from the book, an optional scavenger hunt with prizes, premier of the book trailer video . . . and more! All proceeds from book sales will go to support The Women’s Building.
Scavenger Hunt—How to participate:
The scavenger hunt will take you to real locations straight out of the mystery novel. In order to participate, you’ll need a QR code reader for your smart phone and an old-school paper Clue Sheet. Links for both of these are below.
At each site you’ll find a placard with a QR code (that’s how you know you found the right spot). Scan the QR code and it will bring up a video. The video will tell you about where you are, pose a challenge to solve, and then provide clues as to your next destination. In all, it should take you about 45 minutes and it should be fun!
The placards will be in place by 6:00 pm on Thursday, August 30th. Remember to bring your completed clue sheet to the party no later than 7:15 to qualify for great prizes. Doors open at 7:00.
Watch this video for more information.
Does that not sound like SO MUCH FUN? How often do you have the opportunity to attend a scavenger hunt around San Francisco? Hope you can make it, and hope you enjoy the book as much as I did.
As usual, series editor and reading series host Kathleen Warnock is hosting the New York City release party on December 15th at her Drunken! Careening! Writers! series at KGB Bar in the East Village. (When I have the Facebook invite and such I’ll let you know.)
Meanwhile, though, here’s my introduction to this year’s Best Lesbian Erotica. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, there are a lot of great (dirty!) stories included by many of my favorite writers. Pick it up if you get a chance. I really hope you like it, and I’d love to hear what you think after you get a chance to read it.
I know what I want.
I knew exactly what I was looking for when I read the submitted stories for this anthology: dirty, smutty, smart about gender, smart about power, packed full of sex with the bare necessary descriptions of setting and context, and, oh yeah, good writing. It doesn’t have to be dirty in my personal favorite ways—with sultry accoutrements and costuming like stockings and strappy sandals, or with strap-ons and lots of fucking, or with blow jobs and dirty talk. I like stories where the characters are so turned on and lusty that I feel it too, even if it is not my particular kink or pleasure. I like stories with unique descriptions and rolling prose and insatiable narrators and rising and falling action. I like stories where I want to recreate the action for myself, when I am inspired by the delicious positions and settings and words.
Yes, and the words, let’s not forget the words. That’s what these kinds of books are all about, really. If you wanted a quick, easy turn on, you could load up any of dozens of queer porn sites—there is no shortage of real, good queer porn out there these days. But for some of us that is too crass, and a well-done turn of phrase gets us swooning and biting our lips and rubbing our thighs together even more than a dirty video.
I didn’t always know what I wanted. When I was coming out in the late 1990s, though there was a serious lack of queer porn in the video stores, there were plenty of people paving the landscape for what would become the blossoming queer porn of the 2000s. Diana Cage, On Our Backs magazine, Good Vibrations, (Toys in) Babeland, Annie Sprinkle, Susie Bright—and, of course, Tristan Taormino. It was Tristan’s 1998 Best Lesbian Erotica anthology that for me clicked something into place, something I could no longer pretend wasn’t there. I would hide the book in the back of the shelves at the bookstore where I worked so it wouldn’t get purchased, and I’d sandwich it between two others and sneak it into the stock room to read when it was slow. I wore creases into the spine with Toni Amato’s story “Ridin’ Bitch” and Karlyn Lotney’s story “Clash of the Titans.” I was genuinely confused as to why I liked these stories so much. What was this affect they had on me? Why did I love them so much? What did it all mean?
I began to find other books, short stories, and essays that helped move my budding baby dykery along: Nothing But the Girl—oh, swoon. That essay by Anastasia Higgenbotham in Listen Up: Voices From the Next Feminist Generation. Cunt by Inga Muscio. Breathless by Kitty Tsui. And the Herotica series, which was erotica for women before Rachel Kramer Bussel’s prolific erotica editing career.
I bought one of the Herotica books at a little indy bookstore—now gone—on Capitol Hill in Seattle when I visited one summer, before moving there. But it proved to be too threatening to my boyfriend who, enraged some night after yet another argument about my sexuality, stabbed that book and two other lesbian erotica books with the wide-handled screwdriver which I’d used to masturbate since I was a teenager.
These books are filled with three powerful things: 1. women, who are 2. empowered, 3. about their sexuality (which, by the way, does not involve men). Even the books themselves are threatening.
These books of lesbian erotica are not fluff. They are not nothing. They are not frivolous or useless.
For queers coming out and into our own, they are a path.
Fast forward a few years and I’ve managed to snag myself a lesbian bed death relationship, going out of my mind with desire and disconnection. I stopped writing, because the only thing that I was writing was how miserable I felt, how much I wanted out of that relationship—a reality I wasn’t ready to face. I decided that to work off my sexual energy, I would either go to the gym or I would write erotica. Well, I ended up writing a lot of erotica, rediscovering this tool of self-awareness and self-creation that had led me to smut in the first place, and I began writing myself back into my own life, back into the things that I hold most important: connection, touch, release, holding, witness, play.
My first published smut story was in Best Lesbian Erotica 2006. Between the time I wrote it and the time the book came out, I was beginning to end the bed death relationship, in no small part because I’d reminded myself of the value of the erotic, of my own inner erotic world, of erotic words. Between the time I wrote it and the time it came out, I started Sugarbutch Chronicles, which has carried me through these last five plus years, often being my sanctuary, support circle, best friend, and confidant.
Writing these stories, for me, has not been frivolous. They have not been nothing. They are not fluff or useless.
For me, they were a path back to myself when I got lost.
When I was lost, I had no idea what I wanted, aside from the basic daily survivals: work. Eat. Pay bills. Sleep. Shower. But when I wrote, when I connected with my own desire, I felt a little piece of me bloom and become in a bigger way. I felt more like myself.
I turned again to the great books of smut to help me find myself, to help me find a way back to a partner, a lover, a one night stand—hell, even an hour with a Hitachi was sometimes enough. The Leather Daddy and the Femme. Mr. Benson. Switch Hitters: Gay Men Write Lesbian Erotica and Lesbians Write Gay Male Erotica. Back to Basics: Butch/Femme Erotica. Doing It For Daddy. And Best Lesbian Erotica, always Best Lesbian Erotica. I still eagerly buy it every year to see what the guest editor’s tastes are, to see what the new trends are, to read the emerging new writers, to get my rocks off.
I rediscovered what I wanted through reading smut and writing it. Through carving myself a path in connection with a lineage of sex positive dykes and sex radicals and queer kinksters and feminist perverts.
After six years of writing and publishing erotica, I am thrilled to be a guest editor for the series which sparked me into queerness in 1998, thrilled to be choosing stories for the same series that published my very first piece, “The Plow Pose,” in 2006, which helped spark me back to myself. It is so exciting to be contributing to this queer smut hotbed that Cleis Press has helped nurture all these years, and I’m so glad to continue to be part of it in new ways.
I know what I want, now. And lesbian erotica, or as I prefer to call it, queer smut, has helped me not only visualize what is possible, but create a path toward getting what I want.
The stories in this book reflect my taste, my favorites, my personal hot spots, certainly, but also the best-written stories from a large pile of well-written stories by some of my favorite authors, like Kiki DeLovely and Xan West. There are some less-well known writers in here whose work you may not be familiar with, yet, but who will leave an impression on you, writers like Anne Grip and Amy Butcher. I found dozens of moments of signposts, signals directing me toward myself, words illuminating my own meridians of ache. With each story, with each act of lust, with each dirty command or submissive plea, I rediscovered my own want.
I hope you find some of what you want within these pages, too.
I’ve been working my ass off getting gigs and performances this fall—posting my potential schedule for the next six months or so has helped. I’m still booking things in the spring and right now hope to get to Mills College in Oakland, American University in DC, International Ms. Leather in San Francisco, Smith College in Northampton, Atlanta, Chicago, Durham, New Orleans, and a few other places. It’s going to be a big year.
But, more immediately, here’s what’s coming up in the Northeast in the next few weeks.
Talk Dirtier: How To Let Your Tongue Go Tonight!
Monday, November 21, 2011, 9pm
Conversio Virium, Columbia’s BDSM Student Group, in 316 Hamilton, New York, NY
Free, open to the public
Talking dirty in the bedroom can be terrifying at first, but once you unlock your tongue, you’ll find yourself saying all sorts of delicious things! Come to this workshop and we’ll figure out what’s tying our tongues in the first place, what’s holding us back from being more free with our language in the bedroom, and what the heck we should say to enhance our sex and intensity our sensation. The brain is the biggest sex organ, after all, and the more we can turn on our minds, the better our experiences will be.
Radical & Responsible Gender Workshop
Tuesday, November 29, 2011, 6:30pm
Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA
Academics breaks down and deconstructs gender. How do we build it back up radically and responsibly? How does one adapt masculinity or femininity “positively”? How do we become responsible about gender? How do we continue to break down the gender role restrictions that are hurtful and traumatizing? In this interactive, engaging workshop, we will cover some basics about what gender is, what gender roles and stereotypes are, and how they work, then cover basic gender theory, breaking things down into small parts, in order to build them back up again “responsibly,” by which I mean thoughtfully and intentionally, with feminist principles and anti-sexist perspectives strongly in place. Participants will go away from the workshop with a better sense of how to use labels as liberation instead of limiting, as celebrations rather than restrictions, and be able to more fully embody whichever gender roles they choose.
Owning Your Birthday Suit: Embodiment for Queers, Genderqueers, & Other Outlaws
Monday, December 5, 2011, 8-10pm
$20 suggested donation, sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds
LGBT Center, 208 West 13th St. (between 7th & 8th Ave), New York, NY.
RSVP on Facebook
If you’ve been curious about all this erotic energy stuff that I do with the Body Electric School, or the tantra concepts I sometimes talk about, this workshop is a great one to attend to start getting some introductions to the concepts and foundational principles we use in that erotic energy work. It’s also about getting more connected with your breath, body, senses, and connection with yourself and others. I’m thrilled to do it with one of my favorite people, Amy Butcher.
Queer, genderqueer, trans, and outlaw folks often find it hard to be present in our bodies, to feel the powerful connection between genitals, heart, and mind. Explore a variety of playful experiential exercises to increase embodiment while respecting stone sexualities and everyone’s boundaries. Learn some simple tools to feel erotic energy, build connection to your desires, and feel more alive and at home in your body. Experience the taboo power of sharing this exploration within community. Amy Butcher and Sinclair Sexsmith met at a tantra retreat three years ago and have worked together for deeper embodiment and gender liberation ever since. They both study erotic energy and write smut.
Speaking of Body Electric: The schedule for 2012 has been announced. We are offering more workshops for women and queers than we ever have in a single year since I started doing Body Electric in 2000. Mark down the dates, and I’ll tell you all sorts of more information soon.
BODY ELECTRIC IN 2012:
Celebrating the Body Erotic for Women – 3-5 February, New York City
Celebrating the Body Erotic for Women – 27-29 April, Seattle
Outside the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic – 18-20 May, New York City
Pulse: Advanced Women’s Retreat – 1-5 August, Albuquerque, NM
Power, Surrender, & Intimacy for All Genders – 14-16 September, San Francisco
Tantra for All Genders – 2-4 November, Albany, NY
Celebrating the Body Erotic 2 for Women – 16-18 November, Albany, NY
Outside the Boxes: Celebrating the Queer Body Erotic – 30 November – 2 December, Toronto, ON
I know the “for women” part can be a little off-putting—I’ll write more about that soon, too, and the trans/genderqueer policies we’re working on. Bottom line is, though, don’t let that be a deterrent, and I mean that. Glad to chat with you about it in more detail, just email me.