Posts Tagged ‘things to do with extra money’

Saving & Changing Lives: Scarleteen’s Activism

November 15, 2010  |  essays  |  No Comments

So this month, Scarleteen has had a Fund Raiser and Blog Carnival coordinated by AAG going ’round the sex blogs. Dozens of writers and bloggers and sex-positive forward thinking folks took part, just take a look at the list here

You probably already know about Scarleteen. I certainly mention that site frequently here. Here’s the description:

Scarleteen has been the premier online sexuality resource for young people worldwide since 1998, and has the longest tenure of any sex education resource for young people online. We have consistently provided free, inclusive, comprehensive and positive sex education, information and one-on-one support to millions, and have never shied away from discussing sexuality as more than merely posing potential risks, but as posing potential benefits, something rarely seen in young adult sex education. We built the online model for teen and young adult sex education and have never stopped working hard to sustain, refine and expand it.

Sometimes I feel like I’m preaching to the choir when I say that teen sex education is important, and that beyond that reliable information about sex available for anyone and everyone on the internet is also important. I go there frequently when I need to look up the details of STIs, for example. It’s a great resource for all kinds of things, and the testimonials from teens and folks who have been users and contributors to the site for years are very moving. They have a whole community, people talking to each other and taking care of each other and sending love and information to each other honestly and openly. That kind of interaction and information is invaluable.

In 2009 and 2010, Scarleteen has had around 1 million overall hits to the site each day from an average of 25,000 unique users daily. And you know, I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to say that sites like this, with frank and real and honest and non-judgmental resources about sexuality, kink, sexual orientation, gender identity, and relationships, can and have had real impact on the complicated and sometimes life-threatening teenage years of folks with marginalized genders and sexualities. Sex education saves lives, at best, and absolutely changes lives.

I’m closing out the blog carnival today, along with pieces by Violet Blue on Tiny Nibbles and Heather Corinna on Scarleteen, with the end of the call for financial support for Scarleteen.

Scarleteen is very undersupported financially. We always need more financial support and I would very much appreciate having yours. I think we do a fantastic, important job, think we have for many years, and I intend to do all I can for us to keep doing that job for many more to come so we can remain a place young people know they can come back to, and don’t have to worry about passing in the night when a media or cultural tide shifts. I think Scarleteen and all that happens at Scarleteen is very worthy of being supported and sustained. To make that happen, we need more than just my own stubborn and dogged commitment and that of our volunteers: it also takes some dollars. (Quoted from Heather’s post on Scarleteen.)

Thanks to some generous donors, up to $2,000 in donations will now be matched for donations made from today until Saturday the 20th. If you’ve got an extra few bucks, now’s the time to toss ‘em toward an organization that does some important work.

Early to Bed in Chicago

November 15, 2010  |  reviews  |  1 Comment

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.

Ellis’s New Album “Right On Time”

October 16, 2010  |  reviews  |  No Comments

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.

Review: Please, Sir (Book) & Book Tour

May 6, 2010  |  reviews  |  No Comments

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.

Go See Decadent Acts in New York City

April 16, 2010  |  miscellany  |  No Comments

In honor of President Obama’s newly announced policy on hospital visitation rights for gay and lesbian couples, I’m encouraging you to go see a play, Decadent Acts, here in New York City, set in the 1980s and facing precisely this issue.

The Washington Post reports, “Officials said Obama had been moved by the story of a lesbian couple in Florida, Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond, who were kept apart when Pond collapsed of a cerebral aneurysm in February 2007, dying hours later at a hospital without her partner and children by her side. Obama called Langbehn on Thursday evening from Air Force One as he flew to Miami, White House officials said.”

I remember that. I’m glad she got an apology, and acknowledgement, though of course that won’t really provide much solace after losing her partner of eighteen years. Still, that is a great example of something personal becoming political, with the tragic story being capable of moving people to action.

Perhaps someday plays like Decadent Acts will be artifacts, things that the next generation studies when they learn about the history of oppression, instead of current policies and struggles.

I hope you can make it to see it while it’s playing.


Decadent Acts
Written and Directed by Ashley Marinaccio
April 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th at 8:00pm
April 24th and 25th at 2:00 pm
Theater: Beckmann Theatre @ American Theater Of Actors
Address: 314 West 54th Street, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10019

Set in late 1980s New York City, Decadent Acts chronicles the story of a lesbian couple struggling against legislated discrimination. When television personality Farah White falls fatally ill, her partner, professor Jolene Shatila, along with their daughter Nicole, are faced with unexpected challenges that will change their lives forever. From child custody laws, to hospital visitation rights, Decadent Acts spotlights the harsh reality of discriminatory regulations against same-sex partners, plunging emotional and political depths with grace and searing honesty. At a time when the push for full equality is finally building real momentum across the country, this play couldn’t be timelier.

Cost:$18 General/$15 Valid Student ID
Buy Tickets Online or Call: SmartTix at 212-868-4444

Books That Changed My Life

March 18, 2010  |  reviews  |  6 Comments

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?

New Book! Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch Femme Erotica

February 5, 2010  |  reviews  |  3 Comments

Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch Femme Erotica Edited by Tristan Taormino is due out February 16th, and I have a story in it! (I believe it is The Diner on the Corner, also published in Best Lesbian Erotica 2009.)

There are very few books exclusively focused on butch/femme erotica—Back to Basics edited by Therese Szymanski is the only one I can think of—and I’m thrilled to see another one come into print. Cannot wait to get my hands on it!

“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

From Cleis Press’s page about the new book:

Does the swagger of a confident butch make you swoon? Do your knees go weak when you see a femme straighten her stockings? In Sometimes She Lets Me, Tristan Taormino chooses her favorite butch/femme stories from the Best Lesbian Erotica series.

Even if you think you know what goes on in the bedroom between femmes and butches, these 22 stories will delight you with erotic surprises. In Joy Parks’ delicious “Sweet Thing,” the recently arrived town librarian shows a butch baker some new tricks in bed. On a chase through the woods, the stud in “Tag!”, by D. Alexandria, find her baby girl 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.”

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.

Tristan Taormino is an award-winning author, columnist, editor, and sex educator. She is the editor of Hot Lesbian Erotica and fourteen editions of Best Lesbian Erotica series as well as the author of The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women. Tristan is a former columnist for the Village Voice and currently has a column in Taboo; her writing has appeared in Velvet ParkVibeSpectator,The Advocate, and more than 15 anthologies. She has been featured in more than 200 publications, including the New York TimesRedbookCosmopolitanGlamourEntertainment WeeklyDetailsNew York magazine, Men’s Health, and Playboy. She has also appeared on CNN, MTV, Oxygen, the Discovery Channel, The Howard Stern Show, Real Sex, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, Scarborough Country, and over 50 radio shows. Tristan directed the adult videos the Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, Tristan Taormino’s House of Ass, and the Chemistry series. She lives in upstate New York. Visit Tristan at www.puckerup.com.

Scarleteen: Help Lift Sex Ed to a Higher Plane

November 17, 2009  |  essays  |  1 Comment

stfund09_160I’ve written about the sex education network Scarleteen before, calling for support and donations to help keep this invaluable resource going strong.

I’ve been following Scarleteen and the work of its Executive Director, Heather Corinna, since probably around 1997 or ’98, and have been enamored especially of her photography and her work on her site femmerotic.com. Seems she’s not doing quite as much photography these days as she used to, though perhaps that’s partially because she’s working full-time AND running Scarleteen. (Yeah, sounds like something I would do, I know.)

Scarleteen’s had a big year – it’s now part of The Center for Sex and Culture out of San Francisco. But it still needs support, by which I mean DONATIONS.

littlesxCorinna also released her book S.E.X. in 2007 – “the in-depth and inclusive sexuality guide! Covering everything from STIs to sexual orientation, body image to birth control, masturbation to misogyny, the anatomy of the clitoris to considering cohabitation, and written for you whether you’re male, female or genderqueer; straight, gay or somewhere in between, this is THE everything-you-need, comprehensive, progressive sexuality handbook to get you through high school, college and the rest of your life.” Donate more than $75 and get a copy of the book.

Please consider passing on $5, $10, $100, $500 to this fantastic resource. You can also follow Scarleteen’s blog to keep up with some of the discussion.

More information about the site and its activism follows.

You probably know Scarleteen has been the premier online sexuality resource for young people worldwide since 1998. We have consistently provided free inclusive, comprehensive and positive sex education, information and support to millions for longer than anyone else online. We built the online model for teen and young adult sex education and have remained online for nearly eleven years to sustain, refine and expand it.

What you might not know is that Scarleteen is the highest ranked online young adult sexuality resource but also the least funded and that the youth who need us most are also the least able to donate. You might not know that we have done all we have with a budget lower than the median annual household income in the U.S. You might not know we have provided the services we have to millions without any federal, state or local funding and that we are fully independent media which depends on public support to survive and grow.

You also might not know Scarleteen is primarily funded by people who care deeply about teens having this kind of vital and valuable service; individuals like you who want better for young people than what they get in schools, on the street or from initiatives whose aim is to intentionally use fearmongering, bias and misinformation about sexuality to try to scare or intimidate young people into serving their own personal, political or religious agendas.

To try and reach our goal, we’re asking supporters to consider a donation of $100 or greater. If that isn’t possible for you, whatever you give will still help and will still be strongly appreciated. To donate now (or to view or link to the rest of this email online), click here. If you’d first like more information on why we’re setting the goal we are, what Scarleteen has done in the last year and during the whole of our tenure, our plans for 2010, and what the scoop is with our budget and expenses, keep reading.

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Save About Face Theatre

March 2, 2009  |  essays  |  No Comments

One of About Face Theatre's many supporters emailed me recently with this call for help to keep the theatre's doors open, staff paid, and the youth theatre program intact. If you can help, please do.

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Important Calls for Support: Home Alive & Scarleteen

February 18, 2009  |  essays  |  2 Comments

I know there are dozens - hundreds - more organizations that also need support, but these two in particular are very dear and important to my heart, they're community organizations that have provided so much help and support and information to underserved, underrepresented groups. SAVE HOME ALIVE is a grassroots effort to save a grassroots organization, Home Alive, out of Seattle. And Scarleteen, which I've linked to here often and hopefully you already know about, is a sex education and resource center aimed at teens.

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