Posts Tagged ‘books’

Ecstasy is Necessary! The New Book by Barbara Carrellas

March 8, 2012  |  reviews  |  4 Comments

I’m finishing this up from the plane, 10,000 feet above, on my way to Alaska to be with my family. Good thing I had it mostly written already. More soon.

I am a little bit in love with Barbara Carrellas, so of course I jumped on the opportunity to be part of her book tour for her new book, Ecstasy is Necessary. I admire her in lots of ways, from a presenter to an erotic energy/tantra practitioner to a badass toomuch queer to a coach. Kristen and I have worked with her—together and separately—and her interpretations of what’s going on, advice, and practical solutions are things we have widely incorporated into our relationship.

She’s kinda known for teaching (and experiencing) “energetic orgasms,” and this book takes you through that—from her experience having one in an fMRI machine to the aftercare (appendix) which takes the reader through the steps for doing it ourselves.

This book is also a workbook—or, perhaps as she’d put it, a playbook—with many small exercises for exploration. Call it “My Ecstatic Sex & Relationship Operating Manual,” she writes. So yeah, you might need a little notebook or a blog to accompany your explorations in this book, which for me was an exciting bonus. From “What do you desire?” to “If you know what you wanted, what would it be?” to BDSM yes/no/maybe lists, she takes us readers through all sorts of inner explorations with the goal of greater sexual freedom, an improved sex life, and, yeah, ecstasy.

I read quite a few erotic guides, self-help books, tantric writings, and generally whatever I can get my hands on around these self-awareness subjects, and I particularly love this one because of Barbara’s perspective. She includes all sorts of queer, kinky, gender-forward, non-monogamous, and social media-based examples and insights that really speak to me. So frequently the authorities of these subjects are so normative, and that is just not the case with Barbara.

I get a lot of questions from folks in my email inbox and in that ask me anything inbox about how to have a satisfying sex life, how to overcome shame, how to get what they really want in bed, and I gotta say, this book is an amazing place to start with that. I bet I’ll be recommending it frequently. It’s not just for beginners, though—as I went through the exercises myself, I toyed through all sorts of useful things. I love how she discusses boundaries, radical acceptance, communication, erotic risks, and safer sex; I love her weaving in of the love languages and NVC, both tools that have been very useful for me; I found myself writing down many of her book sources, thinking, “oh I want to read that too.”

Here’s the official blurb for the book, which sums it up clearly:

From Barbara Carrellas, sex expert and author of the best-selling book Urban Tantra, comes Ecstasy is Necessary. This is not your average tips-and-techniques sex book; rather it is an exploratory journey of the sexual self and the infinite possibilities of ecstatic expression. In Ecstasy is Necessary, Carrellas teaches readers how to discover, nurture, expand, and embrace their authentic, ever-evolving, sensual, sexual self.

Everyone goes through different phases of sexual expression and desire, and there are an infinite number of erotic and ecstatic possibilities available at all points along the way. The insights readers will gain in their journey with Carrellas will help them confidently approach sex and relationships in a way that works for them no matter where they are in their sexual evolution. They will get tools for solving the inevitable challenges that arise. They’ll even receive permission not to have sex at all, if that’s what’s right for them, because it is possible to create ecstatic experiences even when sex itself is not possible, available, or appropriate.

Using stories and simple exercises, Carrellas helps readers understand how they are wired for sex and relationships, what their personal warning signs look like, and what they need for optimum care. Plus, they’ll learn how to effectively communicate this information to others so that they can be loved more easily and effectively.

As readers discover their authentic sexual selves, they will learn how to create the conditions that allow more and more of their experiences and relationships to be opportunities for—and invitations to—ecstasy.

Follow along for the rest of the tour, if you are inspired, and check out the book Ecstasy is Necessary and the website ecstasyisnecessary.com for excerpts and more.

1 March Kate Bornstein : Kate Bornstein’s Blog for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws. Alternative to suicide-or simply to a really bad day. Kate’s post is titled Got Ecstasy?

2 March Viviane : Viviane’s Sex Carnival~A Blog about Sex and Sexuality. Viviane’s post is titled BarbaraCarrellas” Ecstasy is Necessary: Virtual Book Tour.

5 March Betty Herbert : Love in the Long Run Today we’ll celebrate the publication of Ecstasy is Necessary in the United Kingdom. Betty’s post is titled Ecstasy is Necessary!

6 March Bevin Branlandingham : The Queer, Fat, Femme Guide to Life. Bevin’s post is titled Get Me Embodied: Ecstasy is Necessary Book Review and Interview With Author Barbara Carrellas.

7 March Kendra Holliday: Striving to bring shy folks out of their shell, and offer a safe haven for those exploring their sexuality and creative side. Kendra’s post is titled Barbara Carrellas” Ecstasy is Necessary.

8 March Sinclair Sexsmith : The sex, gender and relationship adventures of a kinky, queer, butch top. (That’s me!)

9 March Nancy L. HillCultivating a Beautiful Life

12 March Andrea Zanin : Thought on Sex and Life

13 March Rubyyy JonesLove Lust & Light

14 March Jill Boyd: Smart-ass Virgins Make Better Whoopie

15 March Official publication date of Ecstasy is Necessary. Barbara will be live blogging with friends and fans at HealYourLife.com.

Open Thread: Empowering Femme Sources Needed

January 17, 2012  |  journal entries  |  12 Comments

Here’s another question from the Ask Me Anything inbox, and I hope y’all might be able to help me out.

Dear Mr. Sexsmith,

As a new Femme, your blog has been VERY helpful. I am frustrated by, although I completely understand, the focus on femme invisibility. While it’s absolutely true, I need a more empowering story for myself.

As I spend more time with butches and listen to Ivan Coyote’s “To all the kick ass, beautiful, fierce femmes out there,” I have begun to think of femmes as modern day Robin Hoods. We femmes take power (given freely) from those who have it and help to redistribute it to those who have been denied it … sometimes by changing the way the world sees queer, sometimes by simply being changing/challenging how the world sees the person we are with, always by being purposeful about the way we see ourselves and how we accept and carry and use the power and privileges that are granted to us as we walk in, between, and among worlds.

Are there other empowering femme stories out there that I should know about?

—Kim

I humbly submit my own piece, A Love Letter To Femmes, to possibly add to your arsenal, which was published in Visible: A Femmethology Volume II.

I thought I published the whole thing on Sugarbutch but can’t seem to find it; if you follow this link you can download the mp3 of me reading it (thanks Dacia for recording it all those years ago, remember that?).

There are many femme books that I recommend, mostly ones that I have in my Amazon a-store, the classics of the femme canon. Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme, A Persistent Desire, Brazen Femmes, Femmes of Power, Visible: A Femmethology Volumes I & II, The Femme’s Guide to the Universe, The Femme’s Mystique (that I mentioned in that Femme Invisibility & Beyond post) and more I’m sure.

I’d love some help here: What femme sources do y’all recommend? What was instrumental in coming to your femme identity or feeling a part of the femme world? What was part of your femme history? What should every new femme read?

Review: The Big Book of Pussy

November 18, 2011  |  reviews  |  2 Comments

I returned home from the (very long and amazing) two week trip out west to this book waiting on my desk. I love that shit like this shows up at my house. (Today I got a box full of cocks with HITACHI in huge letters printed on the side of it—more on that soon.)

My job is rad.

This book piqued my interest because Buck Angel on his Twitter stream (the exact tweet I can’t find, but it was probably a month ago) mentioned that he’s featured in it, and I was curious. His interview is in the last chapter, the 2000-2011 decade, and he’s featured in a wig and heavy makeup and fishnets, goatee covered in all of the photos except one. Still, the accompanying text makes it clear who he is, and the interview is pretty good.

Here’s the description of the book:

Editor Dian Hanson delves into the historical significance of this humble os, to show how the yoni has been coveted, feared, reviled, and worshipped by civilizations worldwide, from New Guinea to old Ireland. The text is supported by playful photographs of women exposing their vulvas, from 1900 to the present day. Because depiction of this body part has long been wrapped in unwarranted shame, The Big Book of Pussy reframes the subject, featuring models who expose their most private part enthusiastically, happily, with smiles spread wide as… well, you get the picture. And with 400+ photos the point is made emphatically, in images both naturally furry and stylishly groomed.

Included are interviews with the auteur known as Pussyman, the ex-cop who turned masturbation into millions with a toy called the Fleshlight, Vanessa del Rio, squirter Flower Tucci, vaginal performance artist Mouse, and the singular Buck Angel. Contemporary photographers Terry Richardson, Richard Kern, Ralph Gibson, Jan Saudek, Guido Argentini, Ed Fox and others share their favorite pussy photos, so that by page 372 even the shiest reader will be calling, “Here, kitty, kitty!”

Worth flipping through the next time you’re at Good Vibes or Babeland or whichever local bookstore might be carrying such a thing. Or in my living room, if you ever come over, since I can’t imagine a better thing to leave on my coffee table.

The Big Book of Pussy was sent to me by Taschen Books. Pick it up at your favorite local independent bookstore, or if you must on Amazon. Thanks Taschen!

“Sinclair Sexsmith presents a cornucopia of lesbian kink …” Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica Book Cover, Due Date, & Table of Contents

October 12, 2011  |  miscellany  |  11 Comments

I’m thrilled to announce the table of contents and cover for my upcoming (and very first!) anthology, Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica, coming in April 2012 from Cleis Press.

The description, via Amazon:

Sinclair Sexsmith presents a cornucopia of lesbian kink — tantalizing tales rich in variety and saucy details of girls put in their place — and held there firmly. A girly-girl reaps a sweet punishment for refusing to mess up her oh-so-pink lipstick and a well-equipped top takes charge. Whether readers dream of surrendering to a lover or of taking control, Say Please offers plenty of erotic inspiration and gives readers exactly what they want!

In “The Cruelest Kind,” Kiki Delovely’s naughty narrator gets her just desserts from her butch girlfriend with some fierce back alley bondage while D.L. King’s domme makes her submissive strip before un unseen audience, binds her to a bench, and gives her a good strapping in “A Public Spectacle.” Anna Watson’ bored housewife gets more than she bargains for in “The Keys” when she follows a lesbian animal trainer out to a queer bar and anything goes in Xan West’s sexy “Strong” when a transgender butch and genderqueer sub engage in some very tough love.

And here are the contents. I am SO thrilled to have so many pieces by amazing writers. Seriously, these are some of the best of the best, I can’t wait to see the whole thing all together.

Introduction by Sinclair Sexsmith

Baseball Cap by Miriam Perez
First Ride by Wendi Kali
A Slap in the Face by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Housewife by Gigi Frost
Call Me Sir by BB Rydell
All of Me by Amelia Thornton
Taking Direction by Vie La Guerre
Black Hanky by Sassafras Lowrey
Spanking Booth by Dusty Horn
The Cruelest Kind by Kiki Delovely
Going the Distance by Elaine Miller
She Spoiled Me by Shawna Elizabeth
Gentleman Caller by Sossity Chiricuzio
Three Weeks and Two Days by Meridith Guy
Counting Love by August InFlux
Purge by Marie See
A Public Spectacle by DL King
The Keys by Anna Watson
Coming of Age by Dilo Keith
Not Without Permission by Sinclair Sexsmith
Feathers Have Weight by Alysia Angel
Strong by Xan West
Unworthy As I Am by Elizabeth Thorne

I’ve created a Twitter account for Say Please, a Facebook page, and a Twitter list to follow the authors, so you can keep up with all of us if you’d like. There is nothing at all at the book’s wordpress site yet, but there will be.

Keep an eye out for a blog tour, book release party in New York, review copies, and readings around the country, including (but hopefully not limited to) New York City, Seattle, Portland, Durham, and Boston.

I am so excited about this!

The “Bring Down the Chandeliers” Winner

September 20, 2011  |  journal entries  |  1 Comment

… is #23, Sabina! I’ll contact you individually to follow up.

Hope you all get a chance to see Tara Hardy perform, please do seek her out. Sabina, I hope you enjoy the book!

Sabina mentioned Tamiko Beyer as her favorite, another queer femme poet of whom I am a big fan. Tamiko read at Sideshow last year, and I’ve seen her perform a few times around the New York area. Actually, I have a piece in the literary journal that she edits, Drunken Boat, that you might recognize called Rocking Chair Blow Job.

Review: I’ll Show You Mine (Book)

September 2, 2011  |  reviews  |  3 Comments

I’ll Show You Mine edited by Wrenna Robertson is a beautiful hardcover coffee table book that came out in February 2011 from Show Off Books. It features 120 photographs of 60 women’s genitals, and accompanying each woman’s photos is text written by the woman, detailing her challenges and/or successes as pertains to her relationship with her genitals. According to the website, there are two trans women included in the book (Ashley and Emily), and the book’s introduction says that the range of age is from 19 to 60. I notice a lot of piercings—more than I thought would be included—and that the majority of those photographed seem to be partially shaved or at least heavily trimmed, but there are some very full hairy bushes in there too.

It’s quite a beautiful book. I’m looking forward to bringing it to workshops and having it there for people to leaf through. Thank you, Show Off Books.

 

Best Lesbian Erotica 2012, selected & introduced by Sinclair Sexsmith

June 28, 2011  |  miscellany, reviews  |  16 Comments

I’m so excited to announce that I am the guest editor for Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 published by Cleis Press and edited by Kathleen Warnock—and here is the amazingly hot cover!

It is due out in December 2011 and it has a fantastic line-up of well-written, gender-smart, dirty, smutty, hot stories (which are very queer, not just lesbian).

I’m sure you’ll hear endlessly about this volume as we get closer to publication, but in the meantime the best thing you can do to support it is to pre-order it on Amazon as Amazon takes pre-order numbers very seriously, and depending on how many are pre-ordered they keep a certain number in stock, which helps for the success of the book tremendously.

I’ll be doing as much promotion as I can, hopefully with a virutal book tour and some copies available for review. If you have any other ideas how I can get the word out about this book and market and promote it, I’m open to brainstorming! What do you think? What would make you run out & buy it?

Friday Reads: Better

June 24, 2011  |  reviews  |  2 Comments

Because there isn’t much else to do, I am working.

Reading books, going through to do lists. I’m webmastering for both Butch Voices national conference and Cialis online orderingcgi?CA=929655-0003&PA=1694067&html=http://femme-cash.com/affiliates/feminist-porn-network/1514″>Perversions of Lesbian Lust, and I’m working on some freelance projects. I’m keeping my inbox as emptied out as possible (sometimes I use it as a place to hold information. I know, the GTD and time management people would not like that. But sometimes it really helps me find that info quick).

I have a lot of reviews to do. There are a lot of products on my desk waiting patiently for me to get ‘em out and play with them. A lot of DVDs, quite a few books, some toys, especially from the new “Gender Expression” category at Babeland. I’m excited about these products, but it doesn’t make much sense to toss in a random review post now. I don’t even like that that piercing & body mod post is in the last page of updates. It doesn’t make sense here, not part of the narrative of the last week.

Has it really only been a week? Only barely.

I picked up and finished Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction edited by Sabrina Chapadjiev this week. It’s not quite the same as coping with grief and loss, but it was interesting to think about how creativity can be a tool. In a conversation with my tantra teacher recently, she said some of her most creative growth periods have come out of profound grief.

I picked up Live Through This—or rather, the fine folks at Seven Stories Press sent me Live Through This when they sent me Rose—but I was drawn to it because of the amazing writers included. Seriously, look at that lineup: bell hooks, Patricia Smith, Cristy C. Road, Carol Queen, Annie Sprinkle, Elizabeth Stephens, Carolyn Gage, Eileen Myles, Diane DiMassa, Bonfire Madigan Shive, Inga Muscio, Kate Bornstein, Nicole Blackman, Silas Howard, Daphne Gottleib—and more. I loved Inga Muscio’s piece, but I’ve loved her style and voice and words for ages now and that’s no surprise. I had no idea that Kate Bornstein draws, and I loved the insight into her life that she opened up in her very personal essay. Eileen Myles’s essay freaked me out because it was about teeth, shudder, but it sure was effective. I love Nicole Blackman’s poetry and her piece was incredibly moving.

I’ve also been reading It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living edited by Dan Savage & Terry Miller. I’m supposed to review it for Lambda Literary, but I don’t even know what to say about it; so many people have said so many things. It is such a stunningly successful campaign, and I love what it has done and what it has inspired. I’ve been watching It Gets Better videos this week, reminding myself that it does get better, even when sometimes it doesn’t seem like it will.

I didn’t realize what a stellar line-up the It Gets Better book had in it, either. Ivan Coyote! Kate Bornstein. President Obama. It’s amazing, the list goes on and on. And sometimes the ones that are the most moving aren’t from anybody in particular, just someone who happens to be articulate about their gay experience and what it was like for them to make it better, or how it got better.

I’ve also been mulling over Kate Bornstein’s Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suidcide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws, and over Kate’s addition to It Gets Better, which is the essay that closes the book. It’s still one of my favorites.

So I’m trying to remember to take care of myself, to do whatever I need to stay alive, to keep going. This weekend, I think that’s going to involve cherry picking and watching a movie or two and hanging out with good friends, going outside to feel connected to the earth, reading some more books, eating strawberry shortcake made with our very fresh, very ripe CSA strawberries. And continuing to breathe, one more breath at a time.

Ask Me Anything: My Favorite Smut

May 6, 2011  |  reviews  |  5 Comments

Meredith asked:

I’m excited for the anthology and your turn at editing. I’ve read some of your other published pieces and of course this blog so it begs the question: What is YOUR favorite smut to read? Got a favorite anthology? Author?

Oh sure, I have a few thoughts about that.

My Secret Garden by Nancy Friday changed my life and was significantly formative to my sexuality. I hunted down a copy in the last year or so and was pleasantly surprised that her opening introduction is still amazing and relevant, though that’s also kind of sad—it was published in 1973, it is almost forty years old, yet the limitations, stereotypes, and restrictions placed on women are still relevant. I wish I still had my teenage copy with the spine broken at all the best places.

Amazing single-author smut books are hard to come by, so the anthologies are easier to mention. I love Doing it for Daddy edited by Patrick Califia, Back to Basics: A Butch/Femme Anthology edited by Therese Szymanski (especially “The Trick” by Amie M. Evans), and Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica edited by Tristan Taormino—but those are very specific to my butch/femme and daddy orientations, so they might not be your favorites. I adore the stories “Poster Boy” by Carol Queen and “Dress Leather” (one of my favorite short stories ever, of any genre) by Robin Sweeney in Switch Hitters: Lesbians Write Gay Male Erotica and Gay Men Write Lesbian Erotica, edited by Carol Queen & Lawrence Schimel. The stories “Clash of the Titans” by Karlyn Lotney and “Ridin’ Bitch” by Toni Amato in Best Lesbian Erotica 1998 edited by Taormino were very formative for me, as I started obsessing over lesbian erotica in the late 90s while I was working up the nerve to leave my boyfriend and come out, and they are cock-centric and butch/femme in a way that made me realize that I still had a lot more to explore.

I’ve also been really into the “sudden sex” stories lately, the super short ones. Often the longer short stories feel like they just drag on to me, especially when I just want to pick something up in order to get off and I’m not leisurely reading. Got a Minute?: 60 Second Erotica edited by Alison Tyler and Frenzy: 60 Stories of Sudden Sex edited by Alison Tyler are great, and Rachel Kramer Bussel just put one out called Gotta Have It: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex (which I have a story in, but the book is good regardless). I’d pick up just about anything Rachel publishes, she has great taste and her anthologies are always well done.

    
    

It’s harder for a single author to sustain an entire book, so there aren’t as many of those that I go to when I want inspiration (for writing or for getting off). I am kind of in love with Mr. Benson by John Preston and The Leather Daddy and the Femme by Carol Queen. I have read them both many times. I can’t believe it took me this long to read Mr. Benson.

Cherry by Charlotte Cooper, Breathless by Kitty Tsui, and Macho Sluts or Boy in the Middle by Patrick Califia (or just about anything by Califia, really) are also amazing and worth reading. It’s been a while since I read Cherry but it comes to mind immediately as fun and readable and great.

I also really love Jack Stratton’s stuff at WritingDirty.com, especially What’s in a Name. He’s got an eBook of Writing Dirty volume 1 which I haven’t purchased yet (I should go do that right now), but I’ve read all the pieces on the site (seriously I’m sure I’ve read every single one), so I highly recommend the collection if you’d rather read it on your reader than in a blog-form.

Other things I read online … well, I read a lot of Daddy/girl stories these days. I’ve been quite enjoying the recent Bedtime Stories blog. I still think The Provocateur has some of the best writing ever, but it’s generally more literary and fancy than I turn to when I want to get off. For that, I like the quick and dirty stuff.

Many of these books can be found on my smut bookshelf … and there are more of my favorites in my Amazon A-store.

And now, what about you all? What are your favorite books of smut? Got any recommendations for things that I perhaps haven’t read? What is your go-to story when you want to get off? What do you love in an erotic story?

Ask Me Anything: Non-Cheesy “Self-Help”

May 2, 2011  |  advice, reviews  |  2 Comments

J-femme wrote:

Happy Anniversary! I think I’ve been reading almost that long!

You posted something that looked like a pie chart once. It dealt with something like life goals, or values, or time management as it relates to life goals or values–that I remember being really interested in and haven’t been able to find since on your site.

It was like a non-cheesy “self-help” book (sort of). So my question is– do you have any idea what I’m talking about and what the name of the book is? And barring that or with that what are some nonsmut, nonfiction books you use for personal betterment? thank you muchly!

Thanks!

I think I know the chart you mean—it is from the book How to Be, Do, or Have Anything: A Practical Guide to Creative Empowerment by Laurence G. Boldt, called the Integrated Life Matrix. I posted it in 2007.

It’s a lousy title for this book, it is actually better than the sensationalized “how to have anything!” style that the title suggests. It is a step-by-step guide for creating your life the way you want it to look, in many arenas, not just professionally, but also personally, which is where this matrix above comes in.

My favorite non-smut non-fiction book recommendations for personal betterment I have mostly compiled into a self-awareness section of my Amazon A-store, makes it easy to keep track of in a list that way.

I’m a big fan of these kinds of books, actually—I know it’s a huge industry and many of them (70%? 90%? A LOT) are complete crap and useless for me, but even if I just pull one tool out of reading a book like this, that can be helpful and I’m glad I read it. At their best, they can be fantastic personal guides combining spirituality, philosophy, and psychology, three of my favorite subjects. I think it’s kind of silly that we don’t value self-improvement or self-knowledge very much, to the point where these books are put into a very easily dismissible category of “self-help.”

I used to call it my embarrassing indulgence, reading these, or my guilty pleasure. But I’m not so embarrassed about it these days. I’m very picky, and there are terrible books out there in this genre, don’t get me wrong. But there are also some very amazing writers and teachers in this genre who have significantly changed my life and world view.

Cheri Huber’s The Depression Book was completely life-changing for me. I credit Sharon Salzberg with a lot of the sparks of my committing to the Buddhist path and learning to meditate, she is incredibly down to earth and easy to follow, and she is phenomenal at teaching beginning meditation. David Richo has excellent psychology books with a Buddhist bent about healing and relationships. Charlotte Kasl’s book If the Buddha Dated really helped me make good (well, better than I would have otherwise) decisions through the recent period of dating. Many of the books in my A-store are also about creating your own career, carving out your own career path, and figuring out what it is that you want.

All of these have brought me here, to the teaching, writing, studying, and performing that I do now.