“I know I’m submissive. But where do I start?” aka “I just read Fifty Shades of Grey and I want THAT.”

1. Read a fucking book

Read fiction, sure—Carrie’s Story, The Marketplace series, Mr. Benson, The Leather Daddy and the Femme (these are some of my personal favorites)—hell, even Fifty Shades of Grey—read the fiction, but know that it is designed for one thing: Arousal. The reality of it is both much, much sexier, erotic, and mind-blowing and also sometimes very different, full of realistic mundane problems that aren’t sexy at all.

Read non-fiction. There are many good ones: ask a bookseller at your favorite local bookstore for recommendations on where to start if you’re exploring kink (I know, it’s old fashioned, but do it anyway.) Go in to your local feminist queer sex-positive sex toy shop (is there not a good directory for those online yet!?) and ask them for their book recommendations. Go to your favorite queer sex blogger’s list of recommended BDSM books on Amazon and browse around. Go intellectual-butt-sniffing (aka, look over their bookshelves) at your bibliophile friend’s place.

All of those recommendations are worth reading, but these are essential. Consider them assigned to you as homework.

You can do this step while you also do the other steps, but do not skip it.

2. Find a buddy

It doesn’t really matter where you find your buddy, but you gotta have that person you can talk to about this thing that is growing and that you are beginning to voice and give weight and value to. It’s great if that person has lots more information about kink than you do, if they can guide you on the path, if they can be your mentor, but that’s not the most important thing.

They must:

  • Feel safe to talk to
  • Listen to what you’re curious about
  • Be supportive and not judgmental, not shaming of your interests
  • Ask interesting questions

And, most importantly:

When you leave the conversations with this friend, you feel invigorated, empowered, stronger, braver. <— Pay attention to this, to how you feel after visiting with your friends and relations in general. You don’t need anyone else stomping on this new baby-green identity that is just starting to sprout and grow. It needs some scaffolding, a tomato cage of strength and nurturance around it, one that won’t disrupt it’s growth but is there if it needs something to hold on to, some guidance of how to get to the sun, some support if the fruits get too heavy.

Find those tomato-cage friends and lovers and confidants and beloveds. Identify them. They are out there. You probably already know a few of them.

3. Brave up and go to a Thing

BDSM, kink, and fetish events abound. You may not find “your people” or “your community” or your next mind-blowing fuck at the first, second, third, fifth, or even twentieth event you attend—but then again, you might.

Depending on where you live, this might be harder than it sounds. Your Thing might have to be on another coast, in another city, while visiting that one friend from college who is always posts “interesting” things on Facebook.

Look up whatever might be happening in your local kink community on Fetlife. (I wish I knew of another good source for you, but that’s the best I’ve got. And hey, I’ll be your friend!) Yes, you might have to wade through unsolicited solicitations. Yes, you might not have the exact right orientation or gender or fetish event that you’d really most want, in your heart-of-hearts, to attend. But that’s okay. You don’t have to go to the only very most perfect events. Go to the events that kind of weird you out, that you don’t get, that you are totally “meh” about.

Regardless of the Thing, you’ll learn. Pay attention. Put your phone away and really listen. Think about it as if you’re a scientist studying what these kinksters do. Why do they like it? What’s amazing about it? What makes them squirm, in good ways or bad ways? Even if it isn’t for you, you can still observe and learn.

The more brave you are, the more you’ll feel strong and capable and badass, and the more you’ll be able to do.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be in person, though I do encourage you to make sure to attend at least one kinky event every two months. But if socializing is too too hard, if your schedule just doesn’t work, it could be online. Lots of kinksters host online events. I’m just about to launch Submissive Playground for the second time, which is a more in-depth study for anybody who knows they’re submissive (of some kind) and wants to explore more submissive headspace. It’s great for folks who are beginners, for folks who have done so much kinky bottoming that they are practically bored and stagnant, for people without much kink community around them geographically, and for people wanting to dip their toes back in after something hard happened (be it a breakup or a bad scene).

Regardless, the point is to prioritize your kink. Prioritize your submission. It’s important, and nothing to be ashamed of.

4. Brave up and ask a top to play

Step 0: Go to a kink/bdsm/fetish Thing.

Step 1: Identify the hottest person in the room. If you’re trying to develop your submissive self, then filter for whether or not that person is a top. (Hint: You might not know until you talk to them!)

Step 2: Dare yourself to find a reason to talk to them, and say hi. Maybe it’s to give a compliment (people like compliments!) or ask a question (it’s flattering for someone to be curious!).

Step 3: Find common ground, and elevate the discussion. (This is something my mom taught me and I think about it all the time.)

Step 4: If you’ve talked for 2-5 minutes at the event and are still curious and have more compliments to give, offer your phone number. Ask if they’re on Fetlife and give them your user name. Say that you’d love to be in touch and talk more.

Step 5: If you’re really bold, ask them on a date. If you are less bold, ask them on a date via whatever contact information they give you or when they find you on social media or email you later.

One more note about asking tops to play:

They are not better than you are, they are not (inherently) sexier than you are, they are not more entitled to play than you are, just because they are a top and you are/might be a bottom. Tops sometimes act like they own the scene, but they don’t. They need you just as much as you need them, and they are just as nervous/excited/lonely/wishing for the right person to come along as you are.

Sometimes s-types are nervous about asking for dates or being forward, because that is seen as a trait that dominants or tops have. I say, fuck that. There are absolutely ways to hit on someone from a submissive or bottomy or masochistic perspective. The more you hit on people and the more trial and error you do, the more play you’ll get and the more you’ll be able to read the signs better and better.

Rife has some great tips for how to get more kinky play from a submissive’s perspective—Watch for his video on that later this week!

5. One last tip to help you open up your submissive world:

Recognize that no matter what you consume about submission, there’s no one right way to do it, and your way is just as good as anyone elses. You don’t have to love service, or being hit, or playing in public, or being naked, or having your orgasms controlled, or body fluids, or blood, or ANY thing at all really. Your kinks are okay and your icks are just fine too.

Whatever you learn through any sources you take in, people or meetings or mentors or books or events or lovers—you get to remix everything into your own identity, and who you are, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, is exactly right.

PS: AMAZING illustration by rife, who drew an infographic for the stages of kink and power dynamic identity development and formation. (I helped with some words and theories.) Watch for the full thing to be posted in a few days!

There are FIVE days left to register for Submissive Playground’s summer session, and there are limited spaces left! Sign up today and reserve your spot: submissiveplayground.com

March Book Roundup: Sex, sex, and more sex

It’s been a review and work month for books, but I’m still eager to keep finding those titles that are breezy-easy reads, that engage me fully, and that are extremely fun and satisfying to finish.

Here’s what I’ve been reading this month.

partnersinpassionI wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Partners In Passion: A Guide to Great Sex, Emotional Intimacy and Long-term Love from Cleis Press to be part of the blog tour for this book, but I was immensely impressed. Mark Michaels & Patricia Johnson have penned quite a few books on Tantra, and they teach extensively on the subject, but I believe this is their first more general book encouraging sexual engagement and interaction for couples ongoing. Bed death is another one of those topics that I am fascinated in, so I was very curious what they would say and what they recommend. It is an excellent read. I loved how they portrayed Tantra in that chapter, and the many chapters on experiments for couples, keeping sexy times alive, and ways to work through your own internal blocks are essential and fantastic. I appreciated the extensive amount of gender inclusion, including some testimonials and quotes from trans folks in very respectful and interesting ways, and of sexual orientation inclusion, too—I worried Michaels & Johnson would be very heteronormative in their work, but it didn’t feel that way to me at all. On the contrary, it felt like they were over for dinner at my house and they were just chit chatting about the very real challenges that I have faced in many relationships. (But in a deep, personal, open, insightful way, not in a superficial chit-chat way.) It was much more than I expected and I think everyone curious about enhancing your sex life, and your connection to your partner, should read it, and every one of us who teaches about sex, bed death, and maintaining erotics in a long term relationship should look to it as an excellent resource.

bigbookofsextoysThe Big Book of Sex Toys: From Vibrators and Dildos to Swings and Slings—Playful and Kinky Bedside Accessories That Make Your Sex Life Amazing by Tristan Taormino is not a new publication, but it’s new to me. I remember when it was released a few years ago and I just didn’t have time to pick it up and check it out, but because it’s Tristan, I knew it’d be good, and I figured I’d get to it eventually. I finally did, and glad I did. It’s not so much a bible of all available sex toys (perhaps you want Hey, Epiphora for that) but it’s an excellent primer on the types of toys available and highlights of some of the very best. Since the world of sex toys changes constantly (which is one of the reasons it’s fascinating, and one of the reasons it’s frustrating), the book is not comprehensive—but doesn’t claim to be. In addition, it is about SO MUCH MORE than just sex toys—it has excellent essays on communication, experimentation, and owning your own desires mixed in, almost disguised under the premise of sex toys, which is extra clever and a really good entrance point for people delving into more creative sexualities. It belongs up there with The Good Vibes Guide to Sex and Moregasm: Babeland’s Guide to Mind Blowing Sex.

daddyI was severely disappointed with Madison Young’s new memoir Daddy. I expected it to be the story of her life, highlighting the daddies she had along the way (as the back cover blurb implied), and including her rise to her pretty famous position of “feminist pornographer.” She wrote about her family-of–origin father, and her partner-cum-dominant-cum-daddy James, but virtually nothing was said about her feminist politics, and very little was depicted or delved into about the sex work and porn that she is particularly famous for starring in and creating. I thought the conflation of her “daddy issues” with her biological father and the daddy role and play that she and her lover take on was irresponsible and cliche. I would have hoped for something more in depth, more thought out, and more, well, feminist, in that it would depict power dynamics with awareness and consciousness and show personal agency. Maybe it’s just because I know Madison’s story has so much more to it than what was shown in this book, but the many claims (two of them being “feminism” and “the many daddies”) just didn’t deliver.

lesbiansexShanna Katz’s book Lesbian Sex Positions: 100 Passionate Positions from Intimate and Sensual to Wild and Naughty was one of those review books I mentioned, that I picked up because I have deep respect for Shanna, and because I have a kinda quirky fascination with sex positions. On the one hand, having sex in different positions seems like a kind of irrelevant thing to teach or know about, but on the other hand, it is an amazingly popular way that couples “spice up their sex life” and begin seeking more in the worlds of sexuality and toys and kink. It’s also incredibly useful to know about sex positions for people with different physical abilities, be that from injury or disability, and often useful for differing size issues, too, both “my partner is a full foot taller than me!” and “I weight a lot more/less than my partner.” Also, someone (Megan Andelloux I think?) once told me that she believed there are only four real sex positions, and all the others are variations of those four, and I’ve been trying to figure out which four those are ever since. So I was curious to see lesbian-specific ideas for positions. I was disappointed by the skinny-white-girl depictions of the positions, though I think I remember seeing Shanna say that herself too, and that she didn’t have any choice, it was the publisher’s decision. It doesn’t highlight Shanna’s extraordinary skills around disability and size and gender-diversity, so the book doesn’t feel like a very good representation of Shanna’s sex educator smarts. Still, her introductory essay is great (and probably the best part of the book), and I think it’s fascinating that there’s a market for gift books like this.

runningmeditationI’m really into Running with the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind by Sakyong Mipham. I devoured it from the library and then went out and bought my own copy so I could follow along with the stages of running (and meditation) that he talks about. I miss studying Buddhism—I haven’t found my place here in the Bay Area yet (mostly because I haven’t really looked yet). I love looking at running through the teachings of meditation, and I was moved, inspired, and curious about the ways he interweaves the two. He does say explicitly that though running can be meditative, it is not a replacement for a meditative practice—”running is not your meditation,” (I’m paraphrasing), “any more than meditation is your exercise.” This book made me want to run better and meditate more. Which is just what I wanted it to do.

sexpositionI’m not sure what it is, but I have a small collection of funky queer coloring books. I don’t color in them (though maybe I should—I try not to treat my objects as too precious to be used for their intended purpose), but I seem to collect them anyway. I picked up the Sex Position Coloring Book as a review item because I am—what did I write up there?—quirkily fascinated by sex positions as a thing that sex educators teach, and I’m trying to figure out how it’s useful to my own teachings and workshops, particularly since I teach strap-on workshops so frequently. The book depicts only heterosexual cis male & cis female couples, but that’s one of the fun things about a coloring book: you could always add harnesses or other bodily modifications. In full disclosure: I also picked this up partly to inspire rife to possibly do some of his own coloring pages, maybe of sex positions even. That secret covert plan hasn’t worked yet, but I still have some ideas up my sleeve.

farmcityI’ve just finished Farm City: Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter this week, so it just squeaked on to this list. I have TWO beautiful big photo books about beginning to grow food in your (urban) backyard, but I haven’t quite devoured them because, well, I’m still so intimidated by the process. I moved into the house I’m in now in August 2013, and we spent the winter prepping the yard and getting it ready to plant and grow more things. Now that it’s spring in the Bay Area it is clearly time to plant things and start planning. It’s exciting! The options feel limitless! And also, eek! We do already have quite a few things in the ground, kale potatoes peas tomatoes pumpkins, and some herbs, sage dill mint basil, and a wildflower patch and a jasmine bush and a satsuma orange tree in a container, but I want to know how to do it all better and want to play in the dirt. So, in order to get myself a bit more excited about these kinds of ideas, I picked up Novella’s book. She had an urban farm in Oakland actually not too far from my house, so I loved hearing about the changes in the neighborhood and the local events. She raised ducks, rabbits, and even pigs for meat, and I will absolutely not be doing that, but in comparison it sure makes growing kale seem easier. I love how extensively researched she is—every few pages she quotes another book, another writer, another hippie back-to-the-land philosopher who came before. I’m definitely more inspired to get out to my own backyard garden and see what I can help grow.

dreambizI’ve been devouring some business books lately, and Start Your Dream Business was one of them. It, unfortunately, is almost completely about motivating the reader to follow their dreams and pursue that wacky business idea that you might have, and it is not at all about the nitty-gritty how to do it. In fact, often the business profiles completely skip that part, going from “I had this great idea!” to “and now it’s a 6-figure business!” Great, good for you—and also, how’d ya do that!? Regardless, I picked up the book from the library because I was interested in the premise, and zoomed through it because it included so many people whose work I’ve been familiar with online (like Tara Gentile and … lots of others I can’t remember now). Sarah Wade is UK-based, so many of the references and business owners are not American, which honestly made it even more interesting, since I am mostly familiar with American methodologies of entrepreneurship. I still don’t feel like I’m a pro at this whole business thing, but it’s curious and I am enjoying the learning.

switchI picked up Switch by Astrid Knowles because it’s in that BDSM-novel genre of power dynamic romance that I have enjoyed picking up recently, because I zoom through them and sometimes they’re kind of fun and mostly I can ignore the problematic gender/power alignment assumptions. This one had a curious class premise—that the dominant the narrator meets and falls for is homeless and jobless at the beginning of the book—but other than that, it was pretty fluffy and not very memorable. I ran into a quote from this book about switching, which is what turned me on to it in the first place, but I might have put the book down before I got to the switching part, or just didn’t notice it. The writing is less than average, so I often skimmed through chapters.

Um okay so that’s all I have to say about that.

One more sidenote: I decided at the beginning of March that I would do my best to NOT read online, and to read books instead. It was interesting—it took a lot of discipline, and I noticed how many times, over and over, I clicked through to an article on social media or via email. I didn’t realize how much I was reading online every day, and how many of those articles had so much throw-away content—not things that were actually enriching my life, or teaching me things, but more sensationalized what’s happening in the world things. So that practice has helped me both focus on work more when I’m at the computer and read more books, which has been excellent. I aim to continue that habit.

You can support my reading habit, and encourage me to read and write book roundups like this one, by buying me gifts through my Amazon wish list! (Did I mention it’s my birthday today?)

Or, check out more books that I recommend:


What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations?

I’m obligated by the blogger’s code to let you know that the Sex Position Coloring Book, Daddy by Madison Young, The Big Book of Sex Toys, Lesbian Sex Positions, and Partners in Passion were all sent to me by the respective publishers as review books. My opinions on those books are solely my own, however, and they did not pay me or influence me in any way to write them. Pick up these books at your local independent bookstore, or, if you must, on Amazon.

“Reading erotica is a GREAT way to explore your sexuality.” Tristan Taormino Interviewed Me On Sex Out Loud

Laura Antoniou & I were guests on Tristan Taormino’s Sex Out Loud podcast this past Friday, and the show is now up & available to listen to online.

This week’s episode of Sex Out Loud has two different guests talking about their work giving voice to sexual minorities, specifically the leather & BDSM communities. Laura Antoniou, one of the most published female writers of the queer/BDSM erotic genre, will discuss her popular Marketplace erotic novel series as well as the publication of her first mystery novel, The Killer Wore Leather. Sinclair Sexsmith is the kinky butch top behind the the popular Sugarbutch Chronicles. They’re also a writer, storyteller, and performer who studies critical feminist & gender theory, sexual freedom, social change activism, archetypes, and the tantric and buddhist spiritual systems.

Check it out!

Open Relationship Mini Interview with Katie: Fluidity in Long Term Relationships

1. What insight about open relationships do you wish you had when you started?

That no matter how progressive your family might be, they might have a very difficult time accepting plural relationships. In my adulthood, I’ve only had one protracted fight or falling-out with my mother, and it was over my concurrent relationships with two men. Her inability to understand came out as disgust and it hurt me tremendously for quite some time. Also, that you yourself must want that type of love in your life – don’t ever get into it because of someone else’s ultimatum.

2. What has been the hardest thing about opening your relationship, and how have you overcome that?

Initially, when I began, it was pretty much a neverending onslaught upon my sense of security and self worth. Living in a world that upholds monogamy as the ultimate form of love really shapes the way you view loving and being loved — when someone doesn’t approach you and your relationship in the de facto ways, it can be very disorienting and scary. I struggled a great deal with jealousy, but much of that had to do with my (at the time) primary partner’s adherence to the old adage “it’s easier to beg forgiveness than it is to ask permission”. I felt like a lot of stuff happened without consulting me first, and that my concerns about partner selection were not being heard. In the end, I suppose I overcame that by not remaining with that partner. He was a lovely person who was not a good partnership fit for me — acquiring the knowledge that you can love and respect someone a great deal but not “fit” with them was a real eye-opener.

3. What has been the best thing about your open relationship?

It forced a great deal of introspection in my early/mid 20s. I learned myself, my emotional patterns and my weaknesses very, very well. Through a great deal of reading (I’m particularly partial to Tristan Taormino’s “Opening Up”), I learned a tremendous amount about non-violent communication. How to know what I wanted or needed and how to ask for it without resorting to passive aggression (or straight-up aggression) has been a boon to literally every other aspect of my life, too.

4. Anything else you’d like to add?

I’m no longer actively nonmonogamous. In short order, I’m marrying the person who was, for several years, my secondary partner. Meeting each other on the terms of an atypical relationship structure forced us to communicate on a different level than if we had met each other as single people. There was a lot of deep discussion that might not otherwise have happened at such early stages. The raw honesty that was required forged an incredibly solid bond between the two of us. We’re certainly keeping ourselves open in theory if not in active practice, as we feel it stops us from lapsing into bored complacency. There’s a bit of a safety valve built in there, too. If we become infatuated with someone else, knowing we can talk to each other about it and possibly negotiate for a very happy conclusion really takes some of the pressure off of a long-term commitment to each other. It’s very unlikely either of us would run off with a sexy coworker or what have you, if we acknowledge the truth fluidity of desire within a long-term relationship.

Recent Other Books of Note: New Works by Barbara Carrellas, Kate Bornstein, Diana Cage, & Tristan Taormino

I have been so busy telling you all about Say Please that I have barely even mentioned some of the other recent notable books I’ve picked up. All are fantastic reads and have plenty to offer for the novice or the very experienced kinkster.

   

Ecstasy is Necessary by Barbara Carrellas I’ve already mentioned on Sugarbutch, but it’s worth mentioning again if you haven’t read it yet. If you’re interested in exploring your own sexuality, getting closer to your own desires, having a lovely introduction to some tantric explorations, or taking a good, long reflective look at your sex life and relationship/s, this is an incredible place to start.

Queer & Pleasant Danger by Kate Bornstein is a beautiful, stunning memoir about Kate’s time as a scientologist (!), then being excommunicated and losing her family, then transitioning and coming out as a kinkster on the West coast, and finally moving to New York. It’s an incredible story and I loved every page.

The Ultimate Guide to Kink by Tristan Taormino really is the Ultimate Guide to Kink. There are essays in here from all sorts of mentors and experienced authoritative kinksters, and the book covers all kinds of fascinating topics. I’m especially excited about Barbara Carrellas’s chapter on kinky tantra, the age play chapter, and the “inside the mind of a sadist” chapter. I haven’t finished it yet (I’ve barely started it, actually) but I’m already thrilled. Cleis Press is contributing amazing things to the kink and sexualities worlds and I’ll read anything they put out.

Mind-Blowing Sex: A Woman’s Guide by Diana Cage might look like some basic women’s sexuality book, but it isn’t. It’s a complex commentary on our sexual culture and includes tons of ideas, exercises, and prompts to get you digging into your own sexual self. Kristen read it cover to cover and pronounced, “I’m going to send a copy to my sister.” It’s the kind of book that all our younger sisters should have (after we finish reading it).

There have been so many great books released this spring! I’m also really looking forward to Are You My Mother by Alison Bechdel and Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson. I haven’t been all the way through the Lambda Literary finalists, though I like to pick through that list because they are often the best of the best. And of course I’ll be at the Lammys this year! Very excited to continue attending and being involved.

What have you been reading lately? Anything good?

Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 is Here! My Introduction & the NYC Release Party

BLE is here! Kristen’s copy from Amazon arrived last week and we had a toast, read the first and last story out loud, and of course found a few typos. (Can’t have everything!)

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.

Introduction
Sinclair Sexsmith

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.

Quick Things for Your Weekend

A couple notes from around the blog world that you may be interested in. Have a lovely weekend, all. More updates here are in progress.

BUTCH Voices Conference Requests Blog Links

BUTCH Voices folks are gearing up for the second bi-annual national conference in August, and they are looking to put a list of queer bloggers in their program, “open to all our Masculine of Center and Queer allies much like the conference“.

To have your blog listed, DM or @-reply their Twitter account, @BUTCHVoices with your linkand contact information and they will be in touch with you.

Madison Young Launches “Perversions of Lesbian Lust”

Madison Young has launched her newest addition to her Feminist Porn Network, Perversions of Lesbian Lust. I’m helping her with the structure of the site and having a lot of fun with it so far.

Here’s a shot from one of the first galleries, featuring Bettina Doll:

I suspect you’ll hear more from me about Perversions in the future.

Review of Boi Meets Girl on Amazon

I wrote a review of Boi Meets Girl: Brett & Melanie on Amazon for Tony Comstock & Comstock films. I caught a screening of that film at the LGBT Center a few months ago and it was fantastic, as was the Q&A with Tony after. I highly recommend it if you’re a queer porn collector. It’s real and fun and hot, and the interviews with Brett & Melanie are so familiar. It almost felt exposing, but I think that meant that it was incredible effective.

Taormino’s new anthology Take Me There: Transgender & Genderqueer Erotica

Tristan Taormino’s latest anthology has been announced, and this time it features transgender and genderqueer smut stories.

In mainstream media, the erotic identities, sex lives, and fantasies of transgender and genderqueer people are often oversimplified, sensationalized, or invisible. Take Me There is an erotica collection unlike any other that celebrates the pleasure, heat, and diversity of transgender and genderqueer sexualities. The power of seeing and being seen is a central theme in the anthology; it’s not simply about passing or not passing (an idea often explored with transgender characters), but about being acknowledged and desired in a sexual context.

The book takes you from San Francisco to Israel, from heartache to lust, from stranger sex to a 10 year anniversary, from ballet shoes to butt plug bondage tables, from fumbling teenagers to leatherclad bears, from MTF and FTM—and in between and beyond.

There is an incredible line-up of writers who have contributed to this anthology, including Kate Bornstein, S. Bear Bergman, Ivan Coyote, Patrick Califia, Julia Serano, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Toni Amato, and many more. I’m really thrilled to have one of my stories included in here. More details on the book are available on Tristan Taormino’s tumblr.

If you’d like to support this book, the best thing you can do is to pre-order it on Amazon. Amazon bases its in stock copies on the amount of pre-orders, so it would significantly help to make it widely available if you can spare the $11 on the pre-order copy.

Lesbian Sex Mafia kicks off Leather Pride Week with Laura Antoniou Tonight

At the LGBT Center, 8pm. She’s teaching Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want:

“Often, when we try to tell our partners what we like or want, those words are filtered through things like expectations, projection, fear, shame and verbal shortcuts. Play a little card game with Laura and push your flirting talents up a notch! Expand your creativity and verbal skills beyond “I like flogging” or “anything you want” through an interactive game and exercise. Learn how creative communication and courageous risk-taking can make your relationship and play more intimate, satisfying and fun. Say what you mean, and mean what you say – and make it seductive.”

Where: LGBT Center, 208 West 13th St. (7th/8th Ave)
When: Friday, June 17, 2011; 8:00-10:00PM (Leather Pride weekend)
Cost: $5/LSM members, $10/Non members

Laura Antoniou is the author of the well known Marketplace series of erotic novels. As a presenter, panelist, and keynote speaker, Laura has appeared at dozens of conferences over more than twenty years, both entertaining and delivering an occasional verbal indictment. She has also appeared at colleges and universities, including NYU, Rutgers, Columbia and the University of Washington. Laura lives in Queens, NY with her wife Karen, and happily serves as boy to Kim Attica. Friends have called her all sorts of names. Current favorites being “Renaissance Perv” by Midori, “Good Boy!” by Kim and of course, “best thing that ever happened to me” by Karen.

There Were Actually Two Porn Parties This Week …

The one on Twitter, and Rough Sex 3: Adrianna’s Dangerous Mind release party. Director (and general badass hottie) Tristan Taormino posted some shots from it on her Tumblr and on Facebook, including this one of my firecracker fierce hot girlfriend.

Oh and she’s framed by butches Davis and Lori, the geniuses behind Sexquire, which provides professional business solutions for the adult sex industry.


Photo by Nate “Igor” Smith (drivenbyboredom.com)

(Regularly scheduled posts will return next week, I swear.)

Review: Taormino’s Rough Sex 2 & 3 (Release Party Tonight!)

It occurred to me while I was thinking about the Rough Sex 3: Adrianna’s Dangerous Mind party that is happening in New York City tonight that I still haven’t commented on Rough Sex 2. So hey, let’s do that.
I never wrote up Rough Sex 1 with Sasha Grey and Derrick Pierce (as well as others, but they stood out), but I remember it well. Especially Derrick’s scene, though the premise of the whole film series by feminist queer pornographer Tristan Taormino is also awesome, and I love the way it unfolds on screen.

The scenes are based on the female performer’s fantasies, where they get to choose what they do and who they do it with. The interviews and descriptions about what the porn stars want to do, how they establish trust, and why they like to play rough are interspersed with some clips from their scenes before you watch the whole thing. It’s great—what an intentional, articulate way to not just explore but also record this kind of rough play.

Here’s the description about the series from Tristan’s website:

The scenes are based entirely on the real fantasies of female performers, which run the gamut from dominance to submission. Through deeply personal interviews, you’ll discover their definitions of rough sex, why they love it, how they establish trust with their partners, and what they need to feel safe to play on the edge. With scenes that are part documentary and part erotic vignette, Rough Sex dares to challenge conventional wisdom about the fantasy lives of women.

They create the scenes. They choose their partners. They control what happens. Each woman shares her most intimate desires, tests her own boundaries, and rides the seductive line between pleasure and pain. Witness female sexuality at its most extreme: raw, rough, and real.

Rough Sex 2 is directed by Tristan Taormino, starring Claire Adams, Chayse Evans, April Flores, Sinnamon Love, Adrianna Nicole, Dylan Ryan, Bobbi Starr, Madison Young, Mark Davis, James Deen, Shane Diesel, Richard Mann, Nathan Menace, and Orpheus Black. The scenes are described as: Mistress Claire takes her pet April on an unforgettable ride. Bobbi tastes total submission at the back of her throat. Ponygirl Madison gets trained. Chayse and Mark double team slave Adrianna. Madison bakes a cake for her Mistress with interesting results. Sinnamon serves her Master (and his friends) at a poker game.

Two of those really stand out: Madison Young’s pony play scene, and Sinnamon’s poker game. I don’t have any interest in pony play, myself, but watching that scene was fascinating, in part precisely because I don’t have much interest in it, and because Madison Young is such an amazing performer that we can actually watch the desire grow and build in her facial expressions and in her body, which gave me a different understanding about why that kind of play would be intriguing. See some shots from that scene on Tristan’s tumblr if you are intrigued. Sinnamon’s poker game was intense, and I can clearly tell why she chose that dom. He was precise and deliberate, and so obviously experienced. Here’s some shots from it on Tristan’s tumblr, where she also says, “There is so little black on black BDSM in mainstream porn that I am especially proud of this scene for its groundbreaking representation.”

Rough Sex 3: Adrianna’s Dangerous Mind I haven’t seen yet, but I have been following Tristan’s tumblr as she’s posted many shots from the scenes: Adrianna Nicole & Jiz Lee, “Cash” starring Adrianna Nicole & Ramon Nomarxxx, Adrianna Nicole & Jada Fire, and “Jock” Nat Turnher, Danny Wylde, Keni Styles & Evan Stone give Adrianna Nicole a workout.

The release party is tonight in New York City and features free hard cider from 7-8pm, gift bags, a raffle when you buy a copy of the DVD, and more. Stop by if you’re around. It’s FREE tonight, Tuesday, March 22, 7-10 pm at Fontana’s, 105 Eldridge Street (between Grand & Broome) in NYC. No RSVP Required.

Review: Tristan Plug

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.

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!

Anal Sex Week Starts Today

It’s long overdue, I know.

Remember back in September, I posted something about how I’d like to fuck Kristen’s ass? Then there was a bit of controversy, people thinking I was trying to use the Internet to get her to do something she didn’t want to do. Clearly that is not the case.

(Not to open an old can o’worms or anything.)

Even so, there was a follow-up post with some more details about what this meant for us and what I was intending when I put the first post up. There are some great tips from commentors for folks interested in getting started or having more anal sex, too, which I do recommend you read.

We are far from pros at this whole anal sex thing, but it’s been working quite well between us, and we’ve both got comfortable enough with it that I can slip it in (ha, ha) at various times when we’re doing other things, already playing, and we do that somewhat regularly.

I did get out the lovely Tantus Silk cock, that I got from Babeland, and strap it on and fuck her ass with it, but so far that’s only been once. We both express interest in doing that again, I guess from my perspective it just takes a bit of warm up, and preparation, and I tend to stick with what works. I get impatient, is what I’m saying.

But clearly that should change if I want to continue to help push our sexual explorations into new territory.

In the past six months since I first put that post up, I have collected a host of anal toys and resources that I want to share with y’all. Some of them I’ve already mentioned or written up, like the Njoy Fun Wand and Tristan’s famous butt plug, but there are more goodies that we’ve explored since and I want to share them with you, too.

So, in the next week, I’ll have for you a review of the Tantus Silk cock, perfectly sized for ass fucking; a beautiful glass butt plug from Good Vibes; and Tristan Taormino’s legendary book The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex For Women, sent to me by Eden Fantasys. I’ll write up some lubes that are particularly good for ass play, some tips for beginners, some of my very favorite anal scenes in queer porn, and write up a dirty story or two about what the anal exploration has been like here at Chez Sexsmith.

What about you out there? What are your favorite anal scenes in queer porn? What are your favorite toys to use? What’s your favorite lube? What position do you just love to be in? Let’s get the conversation going while I focus on the upcoming posts.

Giveaway Winners! Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch Femme Erotica

Comments and entries to win Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch Femme Erotica edited by Tristan Taormino are now closed! The winners are:

bifemmefatale, whose favorite erotica “of all time is Pat Califia’s “Macho Sluts”. It’s female-centric but includes men as well, it’s unabashedly kinky, the Tops are racially diverse, butch and femme, and there’s a wide variety of styles of kink. … The only problem I have with the book is that it raised my expectations too high—I have yet to meet a real-life Top quite as hot as those in its pages!”

And the second copy goes to Irene, who said “I want this book so bad I can’t even think of a coherent comment.”

Will be emailing you both individually, and sending it out to you within a week or so.

And I hope those of you who didn’t win will check out this book, and pick it up! More details about the book here, or order it on Amazon, or from your local feminist queer indy bookstore.

Here’s the screenshot from Random.org:

Giveaway! Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch Femme Erotica

Thanks to Cleis Press and Tristan Taormino, I’ve got TWO copies of the lovely new erotica anthology called Sometimes She Lets Me: Best Butch Femme Erotica edited by Tristan Taormino (in which I have a short story). More details about the book when I mentioned it a few weeks ago here.

Shall I mail you a copy of it? Just comment on this post and let me know what your favorite written erotica anthology is, or your favorite erotica writer, or that one erotica story that you always get out when you want to get your blood going. Bonus points if you describe what it is you love about the story. Or comment that you’ve never read erotica, or that you kind of hate it … or something else entirely, the point is just that you comment. I’ll pick two comments at random and notify you by email.

If you’re outside of the US, that’s fine, but I might ask you to kick me a few bucks for shipping. You just have to include a valid email address to enter.

Winners will be picked Friday morning, March 26th.

Thanks Cleis! Thanks Tristan!

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?

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

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.

Review: Midori’s Expert Guide to Sensual Bondage (DVD)

Midori’s Expert Guide to Sensual Bondage DVD is directed by Tristan Taormino and written & hosted by sex expert and author Midori, and I am familiar with both of them in general, so I knew I would probably enjoy it. When it arrived, though, I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t a video version of her Art of Japanese Bondage book – I don’t have a copy of it, but I’ve been eyeing it in Babeland for years. I was hoping the DVD would be elaborate, beautiful rope bondage, but it’s not.

In fact, it might be better.

One of the things that has kept me from doing more bondage is that it seems difficult, elaborate, and highly skilled – but that’s really only one kind of bondage, the fancy rope artistry kind. And though I have a few moves (see: Crab Tie), I often just don’t even practice what I know because I feel like it’s time consuming and will interrupt what we’re doing.

Kristen, though, I know, really likes bondage. Really likes to be tied up and tied down and restrained. While she does not love much pain, as a bottom, she really gets into that submissive mindspace when restrained and bound. She has often requested it more frequently and though it is frequent in our play, I could do it more often I’m sure. She has said that every time would not be too often, in fact. And though I often restrain her with my hands, holding her down or holding her wrists or ankles or under her knees, I could do more.

This video very much inspired me to do so.

And, it gave me a whole lot of ideas of things to use aside from elaborate rope ties – in fact, very little rope is used in this film. They use the Under Bed Restraint System (which I highly recommend, I got one for Kristen’s house that I still need to write up and it’s fantastic), wrist cuffs, ankle cuffs, belts, scarves, and some great snap hooks to hold it all together.

Midori’s introduction was pretty basic, had some great solid concepts and guidelines for bondage play, though nothing I wasn’t already familiar with. When she started demonstrating with some pretty purple scarves, I thought, damn, where do I get some like that?! (Lucky for me, I have some Liberator Silk Sashes just begging for Kristen’s return from her holiday family visit.)

I thought this video would be for beginners, but I don’t consider myself a beginner with bondage, and I got a lot out of it. It has four basic scenes: Midori’s introductory instruction, a hands-on demo with Midori, Adrianna Nicole, and Mark Davis, a scene with Adrianna and Mark, and a scene with Madison Young and Danny Wylde. Midori has some comments throughout the two scenes, but it’s fun to see some of the bondage ‘in action,’ which is a good way to get familiar with putting bondage on and taking it off during an actual scene.

I was kind of waiting to watch this video so Kristen and I could watch it together, but now I’m kind of glad I watched it on my own – the tricks will be more mine and less like I copied them from an instructional video. (Not that she won’t know that’s where I got ‘em, she reads my posts. Still, she won’t have the visual of seeing someone else do it first.)

There’s a particular moment in Adrianna and Mark’s scene where Adrianna has wrist and ankle cuffs on, and they are cuffed wrist-to-ankle with a double snap ring (like a two-sided caribiner). She is on her back in bed with her head near the edge, he is fucking her mouth with his cock while he’s got his fingers in her pussy. It was nice – I am looking forward to testing that out.

Now I’ve just got to add some double snap rings and wrist cuffs to my toy box. Perhaps I’ll use some of that Christmas money from Grandma and invest in a few of those.

Pick up Midori’s Expert Guide to Sensual Bondage at Babeland, or your local feminist sex toy shop.

Happy Anniversary, Tristan! (and butt plug review)

Really, this is a review of the Tristan butt plug for one of my favorite sex toy stores, but it’s also a shout-out to Tristan Taormino, who designed said butt plug, in celebration of her tenth anniversary in the biz. Babeland’s running a special sale on some of her goodies – get ‘em while they’re cheap!

Tristan Taormino is the acclaimed female director of sex-positive adult DVDs, award-winning author of how-to sex books, editrix of erotica, and designer of her own butt plug. To celebrate her 10th anniversary in the biz, we are introducing her new Anniversary Edition Plug (solo or in a Combo), plus her Expert Guide DVDs are on sale for 15% off.

tristan_packs_a_punchI’ve known about Tristan’s work for a long time. Even before I was out, I scoured the Best Lesbian Erotica series (I read 1998’s so many times that it practically crumbled in my hand and I had to replace it) and pored over her Village Voice sex advice column, Pucker Up (if you missed it, pick up her book True Lust which is a compilation of some of her best). I’ve had the privilege of working with Tristan in a rather minor way, as I’ve been published in three different Best Lesbian Erotica books that she has edited, and I’ve had the chance to chat with her (briefly!) at release readings. I’ve been so excited to have even a small part in the BLE books – to help contribute to the same series that helped me mold and shape my lesbian identity feels like coming full circle, which is such an honor and humbling.

Lately, though, Taormino has not just been writing – she’s been directing porn, too. Mainstream porn, one would probably call it, as it features some well-known porn stars and most of the content is straight. While I do wish more queers were making good queer porn, I’m also glad that there’s straight porn being made by queer folks – maybe some of our radical sexualities can seep in when they least expect it, muahahaha.

I have a copy of her Expert Guide to Cunnilingus, but I’ll be honest, I’ve never watched it. Anybody out there seen it? Maybe I should dust it off and see how it is.

Have you seen any of the Chemistry series of DVDs that Taormino has done? I’ve seen a few – I don’t usually care for straight porn, but I really did enjoy watching the interviews with the porn stars (no really!) about their experience in the industry. Honestly, it was Roxy in Chemistry 3 that sold me – I even looked up some of her other work after seeing her in this one, she was just so damn hot and cute.

And I have yet to see a better blowjob scene than the one in the beginning of Chemistry 3 with Derrick. I mean, yes, Dylan Ryan is quite impressive, don’t get me wrong, and a queer femme with a butch cock in her mouth wins, hands down – but, wow. Roxy, and her tongue. Wow.

But wait – this isn’t about blow jobs. This is about butt sex! Tristan used to be referred to constantly as the “anal queen,” ’cause she was all about the ass. I remember her saying something like, I know my asshole so well, I can shave it perfectly smooth without a mirror. Now that’s impressive.

tt-anniversaryI like ass-sex as much as the next guy, but honestly I don’t have as much experience with it as I do with other things (fingers, dick, mouth, fist). Nevertheless, I’ve always wanted to get my hands on the custom-designed butt-plug that Tristan created a few years back. It’s been on various sex toy wishlists of mine for literally years now.

And for this Tristan Taormino anniversary sale, Babeland’s got a special Anniversary Edition of the plug.

But wait! What could they possibly do to improve the famous Tristan butt plug? … Make it bigger, of course! The first edition of the plug is 3 1/4″ x 1 1/2″, and the Anniversary Edition is 3″ x 1-3/4″. Just a little more squat and stout, perfect.

The Tristan butt plug is uniquely designed with two things, in my opinion: one, the insertable part is kind of long, but more bulbous than most butt plugs, which means it stays in place better; and two, the base is narrow and rectangular, which means it kind of fits between your ass-cheeks easier. Brilliant!

To be totally honest, I haven’t used it yet. It’s a little … gulp … large. But I’ll be sure to report back when I do.

It is 100% high-quality silicone, which means it can be easily boiled. I know you’re dying to get your ass around one of these; high-tail to Babeland and pick it up – there’s even a special Anniversary Plug & Expert Guide Combo. Seriously, all of Tristan’s stuff is on sale – there’s got to be something in there that would be a great addition to your own collection.

Bet you didn’t even know that this woman is your hot queer sex mentor, but she is.