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Happy 14th Anniversary, Sugarbutch

Sugarbutch started on this day, April 29, 14 years ago in 2006.

I had been in New York City almost a year. I was drifting away from my girlfriend from college, who moved to New York with me; she was in law school, and I was miserable. We weren’t having sex — we barely felt like partners, to me, just roommates, and I was having no luck repairing things.

I had no internet connection at my apartment. I went around the corner to the cyber cafe to apply for jobs. But I had hopped through some temp work long enough to get a job at a finance firm, doing layout & design, where I stayed for about 3 years, which meant I was in front of a computer all day for the first time since I worked at Microsoft — my schedule in Seattle before I moved to New York had been a patchwork mix of writing groups & performances, working at a bookstore, college classes, and homework.

So once I got in front of a computer, I started diving in to the online worlds of personal expression: creative writings, the “personal essay” (or, if men were writing it, the “essay”), and blogs. I stumbled into a just-born world of sex blogs, particularly New York City based sex blogs, discussing their sex-capades and life in New York. Most of these folks weren’t queer, though some were. I started writing fantasies and stories and started liking what I was writing, so I shared them.

I’ve had dozens of lovers online. My first long-term-relationship I met in a telnet chatroom in 1994, we were together five years. I’ve courted, fucked, and wooed women online when I was dating men and not really out as a lesbian. I’ve met for dates, one night stands, and courtships through the internet.

And so I’m turning to the internet yet again, in this anonymous blog, to detail my overspilling desire and try to curtail some of the want that is really painful for me, since my needs aren’t being met. And, ultimately, to decide how much more of my own pleasure and desire and needs I’m going to sacrifice in order to stay in this relationship.
from the first post on Sugarbutch: Bed Death, Standard Variety

The early stuff is all password protected now. It was such a journal, so much personal writing, so much uncensored writing. I’m not sure I’d want to re-read it, but it is still there, buried in the archives. (It’s the old password, btw. Join the mailing list and get the password used to be the deal. But now it’s join the Patreon.)

Toward the end of 2006, I wrote a piece after a foursome and it got some notoriety, and Sugarbutch started building a little tiny audience.

After that, it’s such a whirlwind … falling for someone else, breaking up with the college girlfriend, taking about a year to try to get my life together before going after the person I fell for, the magic of that six month relationship, then the trauma of the breakup and the realization of how damaging that relationship was. That was another peak, and I started getting asked to teach places, to be part of sex blogger meetups and groups. Writing beautiful, heart-wrenching, raw things through that breakup. Then healing, slowly. Dating. Meeting and courting Kristen. Opening that relationship and dating other people. That was another peak, and I had two books come out in the same year. Meeting rife, and then my dad’s death, and then the breakup with Kristen, and moving to Oakland.

There are other posts about the first 7 years of Sugarbutch, the first 7 anniversaries:

Hard to believe I didn’t write anything for the ten year anniversary, but April 2016 was the beginning of the relationship crisis rife and I have been in the past few years. I have written about it some here, but not a lot, for two reasons: 1) it’s ever difficult to share deep emotional things when they are currently happening, because this does have a lot of readers now and the feedback, comments, or criticism I get is just unnecessary and the opposite of helpful; 2) part of what I uncovered is how, when I journal, I tell myself a version of my story that I want to hear, and that can actually just reiterate and solidify my story, rather than be supportive of it. Generally that’s not true of my relationship to writing — I write to discover what I don’t know that I already know, I use it as a tool of self-inquiry and growth. But when I’m in a triggered state, it can just keep me spinning out, rather than helping me re-center. So I have journaled a lot less in recent years in general.

(I’m trying to get back into journaling, now that I have a different relationship to the c-PTSD. But that’s still in progress, and offline.)

It’s more valuable to write a summary of the last seven years, since I have a lot of summaries of the first seven years. I’ve been with rife that whole time; I’ve been in Oakland, California that whole time. This is the most stable that I’ve ever been, probably my whole life. We had a collaring ceremony, we got married, we ran for two leather titles and won.

We started teaching online — we launched Submissive Playground, Mastering Dominance, Dom Club, which has now evolved to be D/s Playground (which is an on demand, downloadable course, free to the folks on Patreon who support at $5+).

I have traveled to do guest lectures and workshops at colleges, but in 2015 I re-entered the workforce and have had a few different jobs since. I’m looking for a full-time job now.

After rife and I had a major relationship conflict starting in 2016, we started couple’s therapy, which we’re still doing. I don’t know if we would have stayed together if it wasn’t for her — and for our stubborn commitment to each other. The conflict ignited all kinds of past traumas in both of us, and I have spent the last few years really teasing apart my history of relational trauma, my complex PTSD, and dealing with the wounds that happened because of a lot of emotional neglect in my childhood. We’ve been in a much more solid place in the past year and a half.

Making a full account of those seven years is more than I can do at the moment, but that’s a start of a summary.

I’m constantly thinking about how I’m going to evolve this space. In some ways, it is a ball and chain I carry around, rooted in the me from 2006 who was so naive, so young. Some of the peaks of this project have revolved around relationships and break-ups, and instances where I am not only not proud of my behavior, I am at times deeply ashamed. I’m working on forgiving myself for all of that. It isn’t easy. Sometimes I think: if I was starting a project today, would I write about my sex life on the internet? The answer is, emphatically, no. It’s a laughable idea. Too intimate, too vulnerable. I know that’s part of what makes it radical, but I’m also just more private than I used to be — and the internet is a lot less private than it used to be.

The last four years have been laying the foundation for a huge leveling up. Mostly laying the emotional foundation, but also the financial foundation, relational foundation, and spiritual foundation. I’ve been building three things in a much deeper, more intentional way: 1. roots in a geographic place – where do I want to live? 2. financial security, particularly having my own income that actually supports the life I want to live; 3. building a family, both as a head of household Dominant to my boy, but also expanding it.

I’m frustrated that it has taken me so long to prioritize these kinds of stability — my 20s and 30s were so much about transformation and not about the usual adult things of career path and saving money and “settling down.” I got a lot of value out of my deep studies of embodiment, leather, kink, queerness, gender, polyamory, relationships, and sex in general, but wow if it wouldn’t be nice to have some savings. I guess my mid-life crisis at 40 has been about reprioritizing things like that.

I believe in the ability to reinvent myself, and to make this space serve me. Ultimately, it’s a personal writing project about writing myself into the next phase of my life, using writing to level up myself, and it has served me well for that all along.

So, thank you, Sugarbutch, for fourteen years of support. Thank you for the structure. Thank you for the place to process and express and create and share.

Thank you, readers, for reading, commenting, engaging, sharing your stories, bringing me to your colleges and towns and community centers, buying my books, reading my books, sending links of my dirty stories to your lovers and folks you wish were your lovers.

Thank you, patrons, for casting some financial support my way. The last five years of Sugarbutch have been completely different because my expenses are paid. I feel more motivated. Thank you. Sign up on Patreon if you’d like to support my work.

Thank you, rife, for being with me on this journey, for letting me write about you, for trying out sex toys with me, for sharing your ideas and stories. Thank you for sticking with me, even when things were/are hard.

Much gratitude out into the world tonight.

I’m Still Not Tired of Your Company, aka A Valentine

Happy Valentine’s Day! To all of you: beloved friends, community acquaintances, readers, family, old friends, and new.

I appreciate you and I’m grateful we have this weird, modern medium to use to keep us connected. Valentine’s day is weird and can be isolating and too full of Hallmark for comfort, but I still think excuses to celebrate love, tell people we love them, and spend quality time together (well, that’s my love language anyway), are all generally positive and I gratefully accept an excuse to focus on it, and let you know that I am glad to know you all.

and:

To this incredible person, my partner, my spouse, my boy of almost 9 years, rife: I love you.

I’m grateful for our intense, beautiful, swoon-worthy courtship, grateful for our years of struggle to figure out how we fit together and what we are really going to do together and how we, two flawed humans, are going to make a life together, and grateful that we are looking forward into the future again with a vision for our partnership that stretches long beyond the horizon that I can see. I adore you. I never get tired of your company — ?? Which still confuses me, because I get tired of almost everybody else, massive introvert that I am. But I love you next to me on the couch, in the woods, crafting and listening to podcasts, or watching another episode of the Great British Baking Show when we should be sleeping. I love the way you take care of your chillest dog and my grouchy old lady cat, and how determined you are to make the world a better place by tending the earth, and how you are so patient and kind, and how you make art out of everything, even the flaws and things I used to label as decay or destruction. that you are in my life inspires me to be better, motivates me to step up and dream bigger, and makes me want to impress you.

I love you — today, & all the days we get to will have together, and the 3,072 days we’ve been together already.

Resources For Sex & Chronic Pain

A friend of mine recently asked me if I had any resources for chronic pain and sexuality. I knew of a few off the top of my head, but I started looking around, and querying in a few of the sex educator groups I’m in, and on Twitter, and compiled this list.

Thanks to everyone who weighed in and made suggestions!

What else do you all recommend? Please leave them in the comments.

Spoon Theory

Y’all probably know about the spoon theory — it is very widely popular in many circles, not only when talking about ability, written by Christine Miserandino. If you don’t, highly recommend you familiarize yourself with it — here’s the sweet article that started it all, over on ButYouDontLookSick.com.

Websites

Chronic Sex – & their Podcast
KinkAcademy.com – Shanna Katz & Wintersong Tashlin have series on sex & disability
Sexability.com – Rafe Biggs
Disability After Dark – Andrew Gurza
SexAbled – Robin Wilson-Beattie

Twitter

SexAbled – Robin Wilson-Beattie

Corey Alexander

Articles

Books

Partners in Passion – short section starts p374, but there are resources throughout the book
The Monster Under the Bed: Sex, Depression, & the Conversations We Aren’t Having – JoEllen Notte’s new book, forthcoming March 2020
Am I Ugly? – from the author: “First third talks about chronic illness, and the last third talks about sex in relation to surgery scars.”

D/s Books

Kneeling in Spirit: Disabled Submissives

Conference

Sex & Disability conference – happened in 2017 but there are listings for presenters and resources here

Cartography of Control: A Map For Areas of Dominance & Submission

When it comes to control in D/s dynamics, there are a lot of questions to ponder and theorize about.

How do you give over even more to your dominant? How do you take more from your submissive?

How do you work out what your limits are?

How do you take or give more control?

How do I start making rules and protocols outside of the bedroom?

Or maybe you’re just in a D/s dynamic that is excellent, but you both want a little … more? So perhaps the question is simply, How do you step up your D/s dynamic?

This theory can help address all of these.

The Cartography of Control is a Map

The cartography of control maps out areas of someone’s (generally the s-type) life, and codes them into categories to share which areas they would like to have under someone else’s control and which areas they would like to keep for themself.

The first step is to brainstorm different life areas. These are probably endless, but there are some broad umbrella categories that applies to most folks. Here are some areas to start with:

Kink/BDSM activities
Orgasms/sex
Partners
Friends
Community
Family
Pets
Tidiness
Money
Spirituality
Gender
Emotions
Sleep
Speech
Stuff/possessions
Medical
Goals
Time Management
Media
Opinions
Education
Work/profession
Body modifications
Posture
Grooming
Dress
Politics
Hobbies
Fitness
Drugs
Therapy
Food
Alcohol

It’s always possible to think of more things, or to get a lot more specific about things within the categories — grooming, for example, could be divided into how someone keeps their hair, shaving, what products they use in the shower, makeup, their skincare routine — all sorts of things. But for now, we’ll keep the categories broad and divide it into specifics later.

Sort the Categories Into Yes, No, or Maybe

Now that you have a somewhat robust list — it doesn’t have to be exhaustive, but at least is a complete enough list for you to start — sort them into three different categories:

  1. Areas the submissive would like the dominant to have control over
  2. Areas that the dominant could possibly have control over, depending on [certain] circumstances
  3. Areas the submissive would like to retain their own control and final decisions over
One of the things rife often says is that he can’t give over any area where he himself does not have control. For example, if he was a smoker, he couldn’t give his nicotine addiction over to me, because he isn’t in control of it. I could help him with a plan to stop smoking, but I couldn’t just say, “You are no longer addicted,” and exercise control.
This is quite simplified; you could develop more categories to sort things in to, like “areas I will give over after the permanent collar is on,” or “areas you can control

For now, don’t worry about whether or not the dominant wants to control these categories. That’s a separate step. Just think about the submissive’s part in it, and whether they could or are willing to give up control.

One way to sort these is to write all your categories out on paper, then use different colors to denote which ones are which. Red could mean “no, I will keep control,” yellow/orange could mean, “maybe, depending on circumstances,” and green could mean, “yes, I would like my dominant to have control over these.”

Yes, you can change your mind — fine tune it, think through it, do thought experiments and make educated guesses about how future you would feel if certain areas were under someone else’s control.

Like this:

After you have the areas sorted, it’s time for the dominant’s part.

Next, make a separate chart of areas the dominant would like to have control over, could maybe take control over depending on circumstances, and would not like control over.

Now you should have two sets of lists. Time to compare them

Start with the yeses — those are the low-hanging fruit, the control that is easily on the table! Find the areas where you are both a yes — that’s your sweet spot. There are probably months of explorations inside just those areas alone!

But if you want to keep digging in, find the areas where one of you is a yes and one of you is a maybe, and discuss. Maybe you’ll discover some places where you want to grow more trust, or some parameters for the relationship that you hadn’t previously discussed.

When you’re ready to start exploring a particular area, brainstorm all kinds of things within that category that you could control, and start experimenting with protocol.

But first, a quick word about protocol:

Remember — only add one or two protocols at a time into a dynamic. It sets up the submissive to actually succeed at remembering what the protocols are, and doing them. Plus, it helps the dominant to remember and recognize when the protocol is or isn’t being done, and to act if it does not happen — which is another key piece of managing protocol.

You’re also perfectly set up to start playing with the Protocol Game, if that appeals to you! The cartography of control is a perfect way to figure out some of your training areas, and build the game from there.

Hopefully, figuring out your cartography of control will help identify areas where you can dive deeper into your dominance and submission.

Five Essential Apps for Sex Bloggers

Over the 13 and a half years of blogging about sex (that’s right — since April 2006!), many folks ask me about the tools that I use. Here are some of my favorite tools, the ones I’m in almost every day, the ones that are now the core of the work I do here at Sugarbutch.

All of these include affiliate links! If you sign up through one of them — first of all, thank you! Second, if you want me to help you set it up or walk you through how I use it, I’m glad to share some of my best practices as appreciation for using my links.

1. You must have a mailing list. Try Convertkit

You have a mailing list, right? You gotta set up a mailing list. The free services are great — don’t pay for something until you use the free service and outgrow it.

When you start noticing you want more features — like segments, or drip campaigns, or tags, or landing pages — take a look at Convertkit. It starts at $29 a month, and it does all the fancy email tricks that you can imagine, plus it’s beautifully designed, intuitive, and plugs in to all the major web apps. 

Sign up here (with my affiliate link — thank you!). 

2. And you want to promote your blog posts on social media. So, Coschedule, obviously

In 2019, it’s not a blog if there isn’t all kinds of social media attached to it.

Coschedule is a social media manager — like Buffer or MeetEdgar — plus an editorial calendar. You can have multiple users all working on the same blog and create to-do lists and other assignments. I love their “Requeue” feature, which will automatically recycle certain content on social media based on criteria. For example, I have about 25 tweets in a Requeue folder called “holidays,” and set it to be active around Thanksgiving and let it run through the New Year. It automatically rotates through the tweets, publishing one a day at the “best time” (as determined by Coschedule — but I could set specific times, if I want).

I use it to push all my WordPress posts out to social media after one is made. 

Starts at $40/month, but there is a referral and benefits program that cuts that in half if you write a blog post about it, and can get the price even less with more referrals.

Sign up here.

3.Once you grow, you might want to offer webinars! Crowdcast is the best

There are many platforms for this. Zoom is a common one, which is great for discussions and meetings where you want to see everyone on the call. But if you want to do more of a lecture type webinar, look at Crowdcast. It includes a chat, a place to ask questions and then mark if you are currently answering that question, polls, and the ability to bring someone on screen with video or audio to talk to you. Plus, replays at the exact same link. 

Starts at $49 a month. Worth it. Sign up here.

4. You gotta make everything pretty — Canva is better than Photoshop

Maybe don’t tell Photoshop I said that. I’ve been a photoshop user for e v e r  and I love that program, but honestly? I have barely opened it up since I started using Canva. It’s so much simpler and all of it is right there. 

It includes all sorts of design templates for just about any image you can imagine — book covers, instagram posts, facebook event covers, featured images, business cards, resumes, brochures, flyers. On and on. And they’re adding more all the time. Now there’s a Pexels integration, too (which is still one of my favorite photo stock sites). 

Check it out over here.

5. Once you’re ready, launch a Patreon

The only one on the list that gives you money, rather than costing you money.

You know what this is by now — Patreon has been making a splash in the blog world for years, and it seems to only be growing. I really hope they will get themselves sustainable, the creator world needs this service so desperately! It has seriously changed what Sugarbutch is for me the past five years. I’ll ever be grateful for the structure it offered, and all the people who support me through it. (Here’s my own Patreon, if you’d like to become a patron. Like a patron of the arts! Thank you!)

Sign up over here through my affiliate link, & I’ll help you launch yours.

 

5. Last, but not least: WordPress.org, not .com

First of all, watch out for the adult content rules on .com. Make sure you know what the guidelines are, whether or not you decide to adhere to them.

And while we’re talking about it …

It’s not a resource, but you gotta brush up on the kinds of content that are allowed on every platform. Guy New York has collected a round-up on the various content platforms and what is allowed and not allowed. 

WordPress.org is different, and gives you more control than the .com. Your mileage may vary here, and you should consult your web designer to figure what is really best for you. Even though there are small differences, sometimes they can mean everything. 
 

Those are the essentials, in my opinion!

What am I missing? Leave your very favorite, top five web apps for blogging in the comments.

 

These Eight Years

Eight years ago, you offered me a blow job and I didn’t usually date boys but you were so fucking cute. We immediately had chemistry and I immediately wanted to make you wince and melt, and I can guess what you wanted, so we had a scene.

Seven years ago, we were still talking. Getting more serious. Navigating the other partners we both had, navigating my crippling grief, navigating long distance D/s turning into M/s and what does that even mean how could we ever use those words. You were about to leave California and spend the winter in Texas, a slower life, with your dog and your horse and your family ranch, chopping wood and sending me photos of you topless with leather gloves and an axe. I came to visit you four times that winter, for weeks. We finished writing and signed our first temporary contact.

Six years ago, we were settling in to our first apartment together. My cat your dog all our baggage together. My moods and unresolved grief, your deep desire to serve. We made caramel apples and went to a pumpkin patch and I found out you love dressing up for Halloween. You set up a peg board in our bedroom with hooks for all the toys, a hard point in the wall for me to chain you to, a hand-made sling. We had a beautiful collaring ceremony and I told all of my closest folks that I was your owner, and what that meant to me.

Four years ago, I was recovering from some major physical health challenges. A digestive issue had me on a medical diet for six months and was way harder than I expected. A breast reduction surgery was easier than I expected, but significantly changed what I could do – soon, for the better. These changes were helping, they changed things. But it wasn’t enough.

Three years ago, we were in the depth of it. Deep trauma demons clashing in ways that I was pretty sure would be the end of us. My terror up against yours. We still don’t agree on the story of what happened, but that’s how I see it. It would get worse before it got better. But first, I would formally propose.

Two years ago was the summer we got married. It was a leap of faith and my deepest heart’s desire. We can manifest together so well. We visioned, we created. It was so much more beautiful than I expected. We were still in the deep battles, but they were more often our own, and less often each other’s.

One year ago, I was starting to see the forest and not just the trees. I was back to myself. We were still repairing, are still repairing, but we were ourselves again, and better. We were already preparing to run for the leather title in spring 2019 and spending a lot of time talking about our dynamic, our foundation. I had to revisit everything. I had to relearn everything to apply to where we now were, what I now knew. About myself, and about you. In some ways, we were starting over. In some ways, we were stronger than ever.

This year, it has been eight years since our first date, seven since our first contract, six since you were collared, two and a half since we got married. You have stayed past the trauma monsters that have shown up in every other relationship – of course they have – and you have persisted. You have turned toward me again and again where others have turned away.

I have witnessed you change and grow and evolve and strengthen. You are pursuing just what you want: your work, your relationship with the wilderness, your storytelling, your friendships, your community. Your family has grown, your work has grown.

I’ve never passed this precipice before, so I don’t really understand what comes next. How we just keep going, keep asking ourselves what our needs are now, keep asking each other. But apparently that’s ther plan. And I plan to carry it out, until I can’t.

I’ve learned so much about me and us and you. You continue to excite, entice, and enliven me. You bring my life so much joy.

Thank you.

Happy anniversary.

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Kintsugi

She fingered the teacup at the sink. Hands wet, dishes stacked waiting, overhead light off but the light under the cabinets on which made for dramatic shadows and underbelly.

The teacup was her grandmother’s. Used to be. She didn’t put it in the sink anymore because of the porcelain on porcelain danger. The sliver of gold around the rim and edge of the saucer were still the ring she loved most, even since the one on her finger. Her lips touched it and she was kissing like King Midas was touching, she was drinking like the sorceress at the waterfall. The way it balanced in between her fingers felt like a fine Japanese knife, like a feather compared to a cairn of rocks, like the sacrum loose in the pelvis.

The rest of it was white. It still held it’s gleam, though it could use a deep polish by one of those harsher chemicals. The glass of the glaze was still diligently strong, protecting everything after all these years, protecting hot sweet poured flow like a mountain cradles the lava.

She used to beg her grandmother to get it down from the high glass shelf of the cabinet and let her hold it. Gently, gently, with two hands, only when she was sitting on her bottom, only when her hands were clean and steady. She learned to keep her hands clean and steady. Learned to ask the way her grandmother wanted to hear. Learned to remember the settled feeling in her belly even when it wasn’t in her hand.

The hairline crack was still visible. He fixed the break, the fracture that separated it into half-moons, splitting into duality, no longer whole. He was as precise as she was. He researched how to repair fine porcelain on youtube. He had tears in his eyes as he mixed the chemicals to make the sealant, and again when he smoothed the outside until she couldn’t even feel it with her fingertips. He presented it to her again. He gave it back to her. He as much as raised it in both hands on bended knee.

There was nothing to do but go forward. She cradled it in both hands, careful not to have too much soap. It was reparable, she told herself. The sealant was made from gold, too. A fine river-shape down the side where her thumb sat. It was stronger than it had ever been before. But she knew the line was there. She will always know it is there. And someday it will be more beautiful than it was before.

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The End of Innocence, Guest Post by Guy New York

Growing up, Vogue had more naked pictures than Playboy. Or at least they were more appealing to my budding teenage imagination. Maybe they spoke more to my aesthetic, or perhaps they felt illicit because they were so unexpected, but whatever the reason, I used to pour through my mother’s magazines almost as much as my father’s. I remember one ad, a double page spread I believe, of an elegant dinner party where the women were all stark naked while the men wore suits. And that was hotter than any centerfold had ever been.

But to be fair, I also remember flipping through the giant collection of New Yorker cartoons we had sitting on the coffee table in the old farmhouse. It was an oversized paperback of every single cartoon in the magazine over the course of thirty years, and I read it from cover to cover again and again. I have no idea how much my twelve-year-old self understood any of the jokes, but again, there were glimpses of nude bodies, albeit inked with a pen, that while I didn’t lust over, I relished all the same.

What is it about naked bodies that fascinated me? Was it more the dirty magazines or the sex-ed textbooks from my mother’s library? Maybe it was the naked girls and boys in my room as we played doctor, or possibly it was a trip to a nude beach when I was nine, where for the first time in my life I looked up to see a woman, spread eagle on a blanket, less than ten feet away from me. That image has stayed in my mind although it’s more the feeling of watching than it is a photograph. She was an adult, and she had a thick covering of pubic hair between two round thighs, but the rest is a blur as much as everything else. I know I wandered the beach after that, my own naked body irrelevant to my interests. I don’t remember feeling shame, in fact, the only thing I recall firmly is the desperate interest to see new bodies, new shapes, and new people.

But home from the beach I was left with the familiar images in my father’s house. But I had seen the National Geographics, and I had flipped through the one copy of Playboy dad had a photo in. I had explored the old photography magazines until I knew them by heart, and my mother’s sex-ed manuals all knew the shape of my fingers.

Which meant there was only one choice for a pubescent boy in the northern wiles of New Jersey. I had to head to the woods.

When I was maybe twelve or thirteen I spent as much time as I could in the woods not far from the house. Sometimes with a friend or two but often alone, I’d wander through the small nature preserve kicking rocks, climbing over streams, and searching out the hidden grottos where older boys might have hidden the greatest treasure known to man: a truly dirty magazine.

And lo and behold I would find them! As I’ve gotten older, I’ve met other men who also found porn in the woods, and it’s become something of a joke. Kids these days with their internet! When I was young, we used to have to look for porn under a rock or hidden in a hollowed out tree. We didn’t know what it would be. We couldn’t search for “Blonde Teens” or “Big Titty MILFS” like they do these days. No! We’d find something, often half a page, and we loved it for what it was. Most often it was a centerfold from a Playboy, or if we were lucky a few pages of a Hustler where you could not only see some bush but some skin as well! My god, is that girl holding her pussy open? I had no idea what that looked like.

And once, maybe in sixth grade, Matt and I found a whole magazine that must have been European. It was black and white, with photos covering the paper like stamps. And there, on those wrinkled, rain-soaked pages I saw a woman fucking herself with a carrot! My god, I had no idea that’s what women did! Why did I never think of it?

The truth is, the thrill of discovery was always more exciting than the final reveal. The long hours walking through the woods, the digging through our father’s closets or basements, and the channel surfing late-night cable in hopes of seeing some semblance of nudity was all the more exciting because of how rarely they panned out. But the searching got my heart beating, and the hope was a drug. And when the web finally appeared it was still the same. In those early days of surfing, it was a hunt to find good nudity, and sometimes we’d wait for an hour as the file downloaded only to discover a girl in a bikini from a sports illustrated we had already seen a hundred times. Often it was the same model, the same naked girl that popped up on every site, and some of those faces are still familiar even if I don’t know their names.

What I don’t remember is ever getting off to a picture. I don’t remember crawling under the covers with a stolen Playboy or jerking off fantasizing about Miss May. The New Yorker cartoons didn’t get me hard, and even the impossibly beautiful models in Vogue didn’t drive me to self-abuse. The longing was there, the desire for discovery was overpowering, but the sexual release was seemingly disconnected as if my lust for the images was separate from my want for release.

The first pornographic movie I ever saw was on a VHS, and I barely remember a thing about it. I’m sure it was enticing, and I have a strong sense of attachment to it when it somehow ended up in my possession, but as for the scenes? They’re as much a blur as anything. I’m reasonably sure there was a blonde but after that?

None of this is to say that I didn’t like to get off, that I didn’t get turned on, or that my love of dirty pictures was disconnected from my sexuality. But if I was going to touch myself to a magazine, it was going to be a Penthouse, because dammit if those letters didn’t do something for me! There were two magazines in the house that had stories in them, and I don’t know how many times I read them. Strangers fucking on a beach during a summer vacation, a young man picked up by a woman only to discover that her husband liked to watch from the closet and a road trip that ended with a beautiful hitchhiker getting fucked in the backseat of a truck.

I read them over and over again because while the pictures were enticing, the images in my mind were something else. Because when that husband came out of the closet to watch his wife have sex, the story was only beginning! I read it with my cock in my hand, and I’ll never forget my shocked delight when our hero knelt on the floor by the bed and learned how to suck the husband’s cock like a pro! It was a Penthouse, a magazine for straight men, and yet there he was, on the floor with a big dick in his mouth as he struggled not to choke.

And if they could put that in a Penthouse then where else could it appear? What else had I misunderstood about what was allowed and what was not? It was easy to look at the pictures of the pretty women and the nude models, but the men were something else. And if I was lucky enough to find a magazine with not just a man in it, but a hard cock as well, then my year had been made. Because in those days, men were rare in straight printed smut unless you read the words.
But the more I searched, the more I found them! Hidden in the middle, between articles, nearly every single men’s magazine had a letter about a man discovering a new side to his sexuality. Maybe he was “forced” into it for plausible deniability, but sometimes he jumped into it gleefully, as if to tell me that nothing was as it seemed.

No one is as straight as they look.

And the books were even better because in books anything could happen and often did. There were a few books in particular that worked in the same way, and I vividly remember the scene in Eric Van Lustbader’s classic novel The Ninja about two women in a bathtub fucking a pistol which turned out to be a shower attachment. But lo and behold, there are a man and a boy (can I possibly remember that right?) who fuck as well because nothing was off limits to Mr. Lustbader. I think there was a rape scene and possibly a sexy murder, all of which I slotted into my mind’s rotation or horrible jerk-off material.

Clan of the Cave Bear had a scene which got dog-eared as well as Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose because those were some graphic sex scenes. A girlfriend in high school revealed the secrets of Anne Rice, and at some point, I discovered hidden among my brother’s comic books the filthy ones whose names now escape me. And I’m sure there were others, although those are the only ones I remember this morning.

It would be easy now to jump forward to Literotica, but there’s a middle that’s even harder to ignore.
Because before that, there’s Innocence.

At that point, I had only recently come out. My senior year of high school I wore a skirt to school one day, which prompted a whole lot of questions from other boys and cemented my reputation as the gayest kid in school. We had one gay teacher who was barely out, and he was as close to a community as I had. Because when it came to the students, I was it.

But once I found my way to college, I discovered at least a few other queer men, which meant that thankfully I was no longer the expert. I attended a meeting of the alphabet soup committee and helped organize the Midwestern Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual College Conference which brought in a hundred queers to our tiny college in Indiana. And one night, I found myself in bed with two men, trying desperately to navigate my desire for one and my fear of the other.

As a newly minted bisexual, I had work to do, and since I only knew those two other gay men and they identified as full-on gay, I was still somewhat adrift. It was better than high school, but the pickings were slim, the community complicated, and room to explore negligible. Because let’s face it, all of us were awkward and confused, and that didn’t make anything easier.

There was one place, however, where I might have better luck. It was new, and it was confusing, but I heard enough rumors to believe something was out there. It wasn’t just a place to form community either; it was a place where stories were told, and sexuality was explored. And I was going to find it no matter how complicated and confusing this new-fangled Internet thingy was.

My first foray online came from an old friend of mine who shared the log-in to a bulletin board system out of the University of Chicago. I had to dial in via Telnet or some other technology I only understood well enough to make my way into the text-based heaven of chat rooms. And there, one afternoon, hidden deep in the basement of the school’s library, sitting in an imaginary hot tub in what was called the Bisexual Cafe, I met Innocence.

I found my way there through dumb luck and sheer force of will, and once I had arrived, I learned how to chat, how to use the basic commands, and how to interact with other perverts halfway around the world. Innocence was the handle of a girl in England who had also managed to Telnet into to the BBS and make her way through the ether to the Bisexual Cafe where she too climbed naked into a “hot tub” to chat with strangers. And my god was she enticing! I pictured her in my mind’s eye that very first day I logged on, and we talked for an hour as I fantasized about all the imaginary sex we would soon be having.

We flirted, her and the others as well, and in that one afternoon, I joined a small community of queer and questioning people desperate to find others like them. When I finally logged off, I felt alive and afraid. I had discovered something new, something foreign, and yet something that I was sure was unstoppable. It was just a taste of the future, a hint at how the world might be, but in my heart, I knew everything was about to change.

I just didn’t realize how quickly.

The next day I found my way back to the computer lab, worked out how to gain access to the BBS once more, navigated my way through the text-based interface, and then once again landed in the Bisexual Cafe, sitting in the hot tub. Which is where I heard the news.

“Hey, where’s Innocence?” I asked someone. There was silence on the board for a few moments until someone sent me a private message.

“Sorry, didn’t you hear? Innocence was hit by a car in London last night and was killed. Sorry to have to tell you.”

And my god, if right then, hidden in the basement with a broken heart, I didn’t realize the truth of it all. I had found the internet. I had discovered a brave new world that would soon change everything. And at that moment, after my initial discovery, right then as it all began, Innocence died.

What a fucked up metaphor, I thought to myself. What a completely messed up, disturbing, and in your face lesson to learn. And my god the poor girl! She was a teenager, maybe a year younger than me, and just as she too found her way into the new digital closet, her life was snatched away seemingly so that I could be hit over the head with a message from the future.

The internet is here. The world is changing. And Innocence is dead.

Erotica, Journal Entries, and Feminist Kink: What I Wrote in 2017

The Novellas!

Getting these ebooks compiled, uploaded, and released into the world was a HUGE accomplishment of 2017. They weren’t actually written in 2017, but the publication is part of the writing process, so it definitely counts.

View From The Top on Autostraddle

While my column about topping, View From The Top, over on Autostraddle ended in the spring, there were still quite a few pieces that are notable.

  • Topping While Butch: The reconciliation between being masculine and being a top, the questioning of the assumption of the power alignments and coming to my own conclusions.
  • The Thing About Sadism: This one was quite controversial, and generated some of the more … colorful comments. I’m particularly proud of the writing on this.
  • I’ll Take That Risk, And That Knife Play: The trust of dominance and submission, the believing that is necessary for the tension to take place.
  • Where I’ve Been: The penultimate piece, a retrospective of the series but also of my topping journey.
  • Where I’m Going: The finale of the series.

Cock Confidence

In addition to publishing half a dozen posts about strap-on technology & psychology, I updated the Cock Confidence page here on Sugarbutch to be a better list of ALL of the posts and reviews I’ve written in the past. It’s fun to see them all together!

Private journal entries

I started publishing private journal entries on Sugarbutch again in 2017. After writing private entries for almost two years for the folks on Patreon, I moved the private entries over to Sugarbutch (about 30 of them) and made them visible to the world. They’re still only readable by the folks who are part of Patreon. This has been a big focus and growing edge of my writing this year.

Guest post

My Dog by Avery Cassell is the top guest post of the year. I’ve been publishing a few things by authors I admire here and there, which I’ve liked doing … there are so many good erotica authors out there. Thanks to Avery for sharing this one.

Body Trust

I write monthly over on the Body Trust blog on a theme connected to the wheel of the year and my personal journey with spirit and connection and resilience.

One more thing: #2017bestnine

How I’ve been using Instagram and posting photos publicly has changed this year, and I mostly keep my Instagram account private, but I still really enjoy posting there. It’s kind of funny, I used to have such a huge photography habit and eye, and carry a complicated camera with me everywhere, but as smartphones have taken over my (and everyone else’s) life, I feel less inclined. I guess snapshot photography became more accessible, and I got a little less interested. But the self-portraiture used to be so valuable to me. Not sure why that’s changed exactly.

Here’s my top nine photos from 2017 over on Instagram. Come on over and follow me.

Two of the nine are (professional portrait) photos by Bill Wadman from November — I’m working on a sort of retrospective post with a lot of the photos he’s taken of me over the years. More of his work soon.

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“Even between the closest people infinite distances exist.”

rife and I are getting married next week.

I’ve been keeping it close to my chest. Private. Sharing it with my closest folks, but not really even sharing the photos online. I feel protective of them, like I don’t really want to scroll through Tumblr someday and see one just randomly on some queer reblog. I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s thrilling to see my work being passed around the internet … but sometimes it feels like something personal is now public property.

So I’ve been quiet about it. And working so hard to make it happen. I’ll be writing through it, no doubt, and I’ll share more with you after I’ve had some time for it to settle.

Meanwhile, here are some of our “engagement” photos.

Najva Sol is a photographer we love, and have shot with before, and she’s now all fancy over at a big wedding site. She happened to be in San Francisco for a work trip a few months ago, so we carved out half a day to shoot some photos.

These are some of the slightly more power-dynamic-y ones, the ones we didn’t send to family.

These next few have a special story. rife woke up from a dream, a few months before we took these photos, about frolicking through the woods in a dirty wedding dress and then being in this very specific pose with me, where I had my boot on his thigh. He woke up, told me about it, and drew it that day, excited to recreate it in a photo. He knew I was wearing red with black suspenders, he knew what kind of dress he wanted and ordered it online. So we did it.

All photos are by Najva Sol. Thank you!

Oh, the quote above? It’s from Rilke, in a little piece about marriage, individuation, and the journey of walking two paths together. We’re going to read it as part of the ritual. I see it as a reminder, since I can often lose sight of myself and my own needs in relationship, and a wonderful goal to aim toward as we take next steps forward.

On Marriage

Rainer Maria Rilke

Marriage is in many ways a simplification of life, and it naturally combines the strengths and wills of two people so that, together, they seem to reach farther into the future than they did before. Above all, marriage is a new task and a new seriousness, a new demand on the strength and generosity of each partner, and a great new danger for both.

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of their solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side by side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky. For the more we are, the richer everything we experience is.

And those who want to have a deep love in their lives must collect and save for it, and gather honey.

Thanks for being part of this journey y’all <3 You’ve seen this relationship since the beginning really, and while I’ve been more quiet about it (here, anyway — you can still get some of the more nitty-gritty through the Patreon), I still share a lot and I appreciate your witness and reflection. Sincere gratitude to you all.

PS: Because people have asked, here’s the link to our wedding registry.

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