Posts Tagged ‘porn’

Violet Blue interview about porn and mainstream reporting

March 27, 2008

Don’t forget – you can catch Violet Blue and other Best Sex Writing 2008 contributors Amy Andre (“The Study of Sex”), Violet Blue (“Kink.com and Porn Hysteria”), Jen Cross (“Surface Tensions”), Paul Festa (“How Insensitive”), and Melissa Gira (“The Pink Ghetto”) TONIGHT at The Center for Sex and Culture, 1519 Mission Street (between 11th and South Van Ness), San Francisco. Free! Hosted by Carol Queen.

Violet Blue is the best-selling, award-winning author and editor of over a dozen books on sex and sexuality, all currently in print, a number of which have been translated into several languages; she has contributed to a number of nonfiction anthologies. Violet is a sex educator who lectures at UC’s and community teaching institutions, and writes about erotica, pornography, sexual pleasure and health for major publications and blogs. She is a professional sex blogger and femmebot; an author at Metroblogging San Francisco (Metblogs); a correspondent for Geek Entertainment Television; she is on the Gawker payroll as girl friday contibutor and editor at Fleshbot; in January 2007, Violet was named a Forbes Web Celeb 25. She is a San Francisco native and human blog. Violet is the sex columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle with a weekly column titled Open Source Sex, and has a podcast of the same name that frequents iTunes’ top ten.

What prompted your piece “Kink.com and Porn Hysteria: The Lie of Unbiased Reporting?” I know you were reacting to articles about Kink.com specifically, but how long had you been noticing this trend of unbiased reporting?

I write for the SF Chronicle; I’m their sex columnist. and on the same day my column ran “Open Source Sex” I had an interview with sex-positive alt porn director Eon McKai up. it was a great interview that showed the breaking down of porn’s redundant gender and physical stereotypes, the sex-positivity and inclusiveness of modern sex attitudes into the mainstream (which had been going on for a while, I was just drawing attention to the newest wave of it). porn from the POV of the makers, not the critics who don’t know what’s really going on. that week, local BDSM empire (and all-inclusive, sex-positive, politically minded local porn company) Kink.com had purchased the SF Armory for its new studio location. the Chron’s website bumped my column to the bottom of the page and ran a totally anti-porn, completely biased piece about a staged “protest” in front of the Armory — many have said that even the number of protesters stated in the piece was incorrect and more than the few who showed up. the website showed photos of Kink employees who were there to wash the building and called them “protesters” (though later corrected their mistakes).

the piece was so anti-porn, and especially anti-kink, I saw red. especially since Kink is one of the most incredible places to work — they threat their employees better than any company I’ve seen (except for Google), the performers are treated with respect, paid really well, have hair and makeup people and are regarded as Olympic athletes. the cleanliness standards should be envied by every restaurant in San Francisco and copied by every porn company in the world. and the owner’s mission is to demystify kinky sex, normalize it, and make the world a better place for all sexual outsiders for doing do. the Chron’s hit piece disgusted me, the rest of mainstream media predictably followed suit, and I wrote a powerful response.

the reaction at the paper was extreme. let’s just say mainstream media found it a bitter pill to swallow when I criticized their lock-step anti-porn and anti-sex bias within its own pages. it was quite a scandal. but that’s what happens when a paper hires a blogger, you know?

You contrast religious groups’ opposition to porn with the coverage in mainstream papers like The New York Times and your own San Francisco Chronicle. Do you feel the anti-porn groups have been successful in getting their POV into mainstream papers or is it simply lazy reporting?

it’s both; mainstream media still sits behind its cozy little Fourth Estate wall of authority and assumption that everyone agrees sex is bad and wrong; journalists don’t have to bother questioning this point of view, even though the world’s view on sex has changed (and is changing rapidly) around them. MSM needs to get sex positive, because we can only make fun of them for so long…ultimately their attitudes are causing them to miss telling real stories and reporting with accuracy, which I think the corrective nature of the blogosphere will reign in eventually. but not without scandal and humiliation first — on the part of the sex-negative press. sex is normal, and they need to get over thinking people will agree with their assumptions of sexual shame. but I do feel that the anti-porn groups, while way smaller than the millions of people who feel the opposite, have been effective in disrupting accurate reporting about sex and porn. they’re loud, they have government backing, and everyone at Fox wants to keep their jobs; they talk about sex a lot, just as long as it’s bad and wrong, no problem.

Was there or has there been any positive mainstream coverage of Kink.com?

yes: the New York Times piece was a real piece of reporting, and in its unbiased accuracy reflected Kink’s positive impact.

What do you make of the fact that the porn industry seems to be flourishing, and certainly there’s much more porn available in more varied forms, with this continued insistence on including anti-porn viewpoints in major papers?

I think the mainstream porn industry is struggling to keep up with changing technology and how it’s consumed (just like Hollywood), but porn in general — especially homemade — is totally flourishing. people don’t read the papers anymore, or they know they don’t need to; they shop for their news and information now, and I think the democracy of consumption is reflected in people’s refusal to swallow lines about sex and porn being bad, when their individual experiences online are showing them otherwise. sex has become normal and healthy for many people, and they might click on a sex scandal story to see what the sex workers say about their jobs, but most aren’t buying that sex workers are Diane Sawyer’s sad stereotypes. they can go to wakingvixen or $pread and see a bunch of empowered women. people aren’t stupid — or, at least they’re not in the dark for information anymore and know when they’re getting a one-sided view.

Is there anything porn fans/consumers, not to mention creators, can do to make their voices heard? It seems to me that the anti-porn lobby also preys on porn users’ insecurities over porn and sex and assumes that there aren’t people willing to stand up and say that porn is both legal, as you point out, and can be healthy.

blog. vlog. make more media. show that you’re real people. link to people who show sex is good and healthy; don’t link to douchebags.

What are the main ways you think mainstream media gets porn wrong?

MSM needs to erase all their preconceptions about porn and start over again. they’ve been so mired in sensationalism, religious dogma, erroneous studies pushed by fundamentalists and dated stereotypes about exploitation and degradation that they have no idea what’s really going on in the worlds of porn and sex online. who is being exploited by gay porn, by the way? and, with all the baggage MSM brings to ordinary, self-defined sex work and healthy sexual expression, we can’t actually find the real voices of the people who do get exploited and need help. it’s shameful.

Do you think mainstream journalists are anti-porn, or simply want to give the appearance of being so? Is there any advantage to them to not including a fairer portrait of the industry?

the tradition of their jobs force them to posit anti-sex and anti-porn points of view. to do otherwise would cost them their jobs.

What can journalists do to become better versed in porn and provided more accurate coverage? What resources would you recommend journalists covering porn to check out to get a broader view of the topic?

read fleshbot, read my site, read all the sites in Eros Blog‘s sidebar, in thesexcarnival.com‘s sidebar, and the Lusty Lady blog.

What are you working on next?

Best Women’s Erotica 2009, trying to pull a web show together, more GETV (always!), writing about my teen years as a homeless kid on the streets, finding time to cuddle with my cat, sip fine absinthe, good chocolates, and ravage a certain Hacker Boy. oh, and change the cultural conversation about sex.

Sex in the news roundup: Thurston Moore gets Pervy, Katherine Heigl’s sex life, SaSi sex toys, and more

January 20, 2008

“Thurston Moore to Soundtrack Arthouse Erotica Film,” Uncut

Thurston Moore has soundtracked an arthouse erotica film, made by acclaimed New York underground director Richard Kern.

The 60-minute film, titled “Extra Action (And Extra Hardcore)” , is released on DVD on March 18, and features original music from the Sonic Youth guitarist.Kern has collaborated with Moore in the past, directing the gory video for Sonic Youth’s 1984 single “Death Valley ‘69″ and supplying the cover image for their 1986 album“Evol”, which was taken from Kern ’s film “Submit To Me Now” .

Also: ”Thurston Moore gets Pervy,” Synthesis.net

”Marriage boosts Knocked Up star’s sex life,” The Times

Katherine Heigl has confessed her sex life has got “10 times better” since getting married.

The Knocked Up star — who married musician Josh Kelley in December — says her bedroom gymnastics have improved dramatically since tying the knot. She told the US’s Cosmopolitan magazine: “Our sex life has always been phenomenal, but I think it is 10 times better than it was. We understand each other better.”You feel sheltered in the moment, whether you’re being wild and crazy and you’re doing your striptease or it’s more mellow.”

”Teenagers’ cell nudity under fire,” The Salt Lake TribunePolice and school district officials are investigating several Farmington Junior High teenagers who traded nude photos of themselves over cell phones.

The latest incident is the third time this school year that Farmington schools have caught students trading photos of their genitals and other nude shots, said Christopher Williams, a spokesman for the Davis School District.

“This type of technology creates problems,” Williams said. “Imagine being a teacher trying to teach a class and you’ve got students sharing inappropriate photos of each other. You’re not going to have the attention of the students.”

A parent recently found the explicit photos on a child’s cell phone and contacted police with concerns about the material, said Farmington police Lt. Shane Whitacker. The photos were traced to 13- and 14-year-old students enrolled at Farmington Junior High School, he said. Both boys and girls were involved.

”Sex, Lies and Contraception: The Male Pill,” Blowfish Blog, Greta Christina

If I were a single guy, dating and screwing around, I wouldn’t want to leave the contraception question in the hands of some woman I’d just met, either. I mean, think about it. If, as a woman, I wouldn’t trust some strange guy who told me, “Don’t worry, baby, I’m on the pill” —

then why on earth should men trust some strange woman to tell them the same thing? The consequences for men of an unwanted pregnancy aren’t as intense as they are for women . . . but they’re not negligible. (Can you say, “child support”?)

And I think that might point to the real market for the male pill. (Or patch, or injection, or however the drug winds up getting delivered.)

Mark thinks that, even if pharmaceutical researchers could make it effective, male hormonal contraception will always be a niche market, mainly limited to men in committed long-term relationships with women who trust them enough to leave the contraception in their hands. But while I can see his point, I think he may be overlooking another key market: the market of single men who want control of their own damn reproduction, just as much as women do. I think the biggest market for the male pill might well be single men who want the moral equivalent of a temporary vasectomy: a way to guarantee that they won’t get stuck with offspring they didn’t expect or want.

”The Roots of Western Pornography,” Marianna Beck, Libido Films blog

Prosecutions against pornography were largely haphazard in England during the 18th century, although the publication of pornography was judicially declared to be an offense of common law. As noted, Memoirswas successfully driven underground without any legal prosecution and, generally speaking, there seems to have been little government interference in regard to publications described as bawdy or licentious. The main exception, of course, was if sexual activity found itself mixed in with politics and/or blasphemy. Although the major campaigns against obscenity didn’t start taking shape until the beginning of the 19th century, it was clear that the winds of tolerance were shifting as the 18th century ended. One of the more perceptible changes occurred in 1787, when King George III issued a proclamation against vice, exhorting the public to “suppress all loose and licentious prints, books, and publications dispensing poison to the minds of the young and the unwary, and to punish publishers and vendors thereof.”

”Sex-ed effort in Glen Cove focuses on Latinos,” Newsday

For Blanca Recinos, doing laundry in Glen Cove has become an opportunity to lecture about sex education.

Armed with brochures and pamphlets from Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, Recinos talks to her Latino peers about the prevention of pregnancy, HIV, AIDS and human papillomavirus. Recinos, a six-year resident of Glen Cove, is one of 14 women recruited by Planned Parenthood of Nassau County as part of a new, Spanish-language marketing campaign to inform the Latino community in the city and the surrounding area about the services the health center offers and to draw them in. ”The community needs plenty of information in this regard,” said Recinos, 39. “At the very least I can talk to them a bit and hope that it stays on their minds.

”‘Sensual Intelligence’ Gives New SaSi Sex Toy an Erotic Edge,” Regina Lynn, Wired.com

But we’re finally starting to see sexual appliances that can compete in coolness with The Sharper Image’s kids-of-all-ages catalog, although not necessarily with the Roomba robotic vacuum.

British company Je Joue launched a new product, the SaSi, at the Adult Entertainment Expo last week in Las Vegas. If the original Je Joue oral-sex simulator is like a 60-GB iPod with multiple playlists you design yourself, the SaSi is like an iPod Nano with an automated Most Popular playlist.

The SaSi takes the best of the Je Joue — soft surface material, firm massage finger, sensual movements — and simplifies the control so all you have to do is press a button to say “yay” or “nay” to a particular movement. It also has buttons to control speed and to add or remove vibration.

Interview with Tristan Taormino at Jezebel

January 14, 2008

There’s an interview with Best Sex Writing 2008 contributor Tristan Taormino up at Jezebel by Tracie Egan, while she was covering AVN:


Photo by Jeff Koga for Fleshbot

Porn has always been, and continues to be a huge issue for women. I don’t know if the debate will ever be over,” Tristan said, “But it’s hard to hear from other feminists. They haven’t seen my porn, they haven’t seen Candida Royalle or Belladonna. So they don’t see that porn is not one monolithic thing that’s all bad.”

When asked how she deals with that, she said that she believes everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that they should watch her movies before expressing it to her. “Porn is complicated. [The perception of it by the public] has been over simplified. Porn is as cerebral as it is visceral.”

And that makes sense, considering many of her movies are educational. Her Expert Guides series (for anal, cunnilingus and fellatio) sort of break the porno mold: She’s into organic and authentic climaxes. (“I would rather the actors share a part of their sexuality, than have me tell them what to do.”) And in the Guide to Cunnilingus, there aren’t any penis penetration shots, which, she said, Vivid initially told her wouldn’t work, because “if there’s no cock, there’s no scene.”

But changing the way things are done is all part of Tristan’s master plan. “Everything I do is deliberate–very deliberate.”

Video review of Best Sex Writing 2008!

January 14, 2008

I feel like I’m reporting this to you from the future…my first video review from my friend Audacia Ray of the video review site Live Girl Review. Audacia is also an editor at $pread, from which I reprinted Trixie Fontaine’s piece in Best Sex Writing 2008, “Menstruation: Porn’s Last Taboo.” Click on the image below to play the video OR watch it at Live Girl Review.

Video thumbnail. Click to play

Best Sex Writing 2008 will be out in December 2007!

November 5, 2007

Best Sex Writing is an annual series publisher by Cleis Press. For the 2008 edition, to be published in December 2007, Rachel Kramer Bussel is the editor.

Below is the publisher’s blurb and interviews, updates and event info coming soon:

Do Jewish girls give better blowjobs? What does it mean to be a modern-day eunuch? Would you want to work in the pink ghetto or live in the glass closet? How “hung” are African-American men? What happens to a celebrity sex tape star in Iran? Best Sex Writing 2008 answers these questions (and raises many more) as it probes the inner lives of those on the front lines — political, personal, and cultural — of lust. From dangerous dildos to professional submissives, the erotic appeal of twins, sex work, pornography and much more, these authors delve into the underbelly of eroticism. Probing stereotypes, truths, and the tricky areas in between, Best Sex Writing 2008 opens the bedroom door and explores the complexity of modern sexuality with thought-provoking, cutting-edge essays and articles.

Introduction: One Little Word, Infinite Interpretations

Big Mouth Strikes Again: An Oral Report • Rachel Shukert
Double Your Panic • Kevin Keck
Battle of the Sexless • Ashlea Halpern
Kink.com and Porn Hysteria: The Lie of Unbiased Reporting • Violet Blue
The Prince of Porn and the Junk-Food Queen from Insatiable • Gael Greene
Tough Love • Kelly Rouba
Dirty Old Women • Ariel Levy
Stalking the Stalkers • Kelly Kyrik
Sex in Iran • Pari Esfandiari and Richard Buskin
Surface Tensions • Jen Cross
Sex and the Single Septuagenarian • Liz Langley
The Pink Ghetto (A Four-Part Series) • Lux Nightmare and Melissa Gira
To Have or Have Not: Sex on the Wedding Night • Jill Eisenstadt
How Insensitive • Paul Festa
The Study of Sex • Amy Andre
Dangerous Dildos • Tristan Taormino
Absolut Nude • Miriam Datskovsky
The Hung List from Hung: A Meditation on the Measure of Black Men in America • Scott Poulson-Bryant
The Glass Closet • Michael Musto
Menstruation: Porn’s Last Taboo • Trixie Fontaine
Buying Obedience: My Visit to a Pro Submissive • Greta Christina

Introduction: One Little Word, Infinite Interpretations

Sex. One little word, so much drama. One little word, so many interpretations, definitions, permutations. For some, sex means ecstasy. For others, it means procreation. For some, it means sin outside the confines of marriage. Many believe that only heterosexual penetrative sex qualifies for that hallowed three letter word; everything else is either foreplay⎯or forbidden. For a lot of us, myself included, sex is an ever-changing, ever-evolving set of acts, philosophies and identities. It teaches us, thrills us, empowers us, confuses us, electrifies us. Sex drives our lives and our lives drive our sex, in all sorts of complex ways. Pleasure and danger, as the famous Carole Vance anthology called it.

When I thought about the kinds of writing I wanted to include in this anthology, I knew I wanted to read about the kinds of sex that make the world, not to mention one’s head, spin. The kinds of writings that throw our notions of what sex is into disarray. The kinds of writings that will long outlast the chronological year printed on the cover of this book because their meanings and messages will continue to be read, debated, questioned, and answered. These pieces, taken as a whole, give a broader view of sex than you’ve likely ever considered, dealing as they do with biology, gender, crime, politics, the environment, health, religion, race, and much more.

Here you’ll find a wide array of writings about the state of modern sexuality, taking you everywhere from the front lines of erotic activism to insightful analyses of everything from sexuality studies to menstruation porn to naked college coeds. From large publications such as Playboy, Penthouse Forum, and Out to smaller indie outfits like $pread, Heeb, and Other, as well as online publications and books, each of these pieces contributes to a whole that shows that sex, the act(s) and the topic(s), is much more complex than most of us give it credit for. Whatever definition you currently have for sex, prepare for it to be shattered.

Best Sex Writing 2008 includes two pieces that are very near and dear to my heart. As a Jewish woman with a passion for cock-sucking (not to mention Monica Lewinsky), I found Rachel Shukert’s “Big Mouth Strikes Again: An Oral Report,” a fascinating look at the ways Jewish women’s mouths have come to be, in the popular imagination, permanently open. While she offers up a few jokes and puns, she bolsters them with a thoughtful essay that goes way beyond the conventional wisdom. Bloggers Melissa Gira and Lux Nightmare break down the meaning of “The Pink Ghetto,” a place where I and many of my peers find ourselves, whether we like it or not, simply because we’ve chosen to write about that vexing three letter word that’s always stirring up so much trouble.

I’ve also included several personal essays here because I believe they demonstrate some powerful lessons about how sex plays out in our lives. The sexual karma delivered to Kevin Keck in the form of twin baby girls, after a high school career spent lusting after his own town’s version of the Doublemint Twins, is deliciously twisted. Gael Greene takes us back to a headier, more hedonistic time when, freed from her marriage, she could seduce the notorious porn star Jamie Gillis, inching into his supposedly seedy world while reveling in his dirtiness, literally. Journalist Scott Poulson-Bryant, in an excerpt from his excellent study Hung: A Meditation on the Measure of Black Men in America, a mix of personal experience and impassioned journalism, asks whether the stereotype of the black man as America’s most horny, the one who by his very definition signifies sex, is true or even relevant. These pieces you might very well be able to relate to even if you’ve never been horny for twincest, had an affair, or been a black man, because their authors’ words go beyond their individual circumstances to shed light on the current erotic climate.

And then we’ve got some more unique territory. Out of all the pieces here, Ashlea Halpern’s exploration of the lengths today’s eunuchs will go to remove their genitals, “Battle of the Sexless,” makes me squirm the most, with equal parts fascination and horror, yet I’ve reread it now numerous times. There’s something appealing and at the same time appalling about this state of affairs that Halpern delves into with a sympathetic eye.

Many of the authors here directly address the politics of sex, and demand that the status quo give way for a broader vision of sexual inclusion. Trixie Fontaine’s discussion of piss and menstruation porn is one that, like Halpern’s, may make you uncomfortable. And that’s exactly her point: while some may find her work abhorrent, others are equally turned on by it, and the fact that capitalism doesn’t trump human blood is indeed worth investigating. Tristan Taormino looks at the important issue of phthalates in sex toys, while Violet Blue takes mainstream media to task for its biases when it comes to porn reporting. Ariel Levy’s “Dirty Old Women” explores relationships between adult women and teenage boys, asking what it means to be molested when you’re male: “For many Americans, being a real grown-up requires a penis. And if you’ve got that, even if you’re only fifteen, you must have the maturity and the manliness to know what you want to do with it—even if that involves intercourse with a forty-two-year-old. Who among us would say the same thing about a fifteen-year-old girl?” Her exploration of the motivations of these teenagers and their seductresses (she calls Mary Kay Letourneau and Vili Fualaau “the poster couple for pedophilia or true love, depending on your point of view”) makes us reexamine our assumptions about male sexuality. It’s no surprise that Levy’s piece also surfaced in a volume of Best Crime Writing; the intersection of sex and the law has countless permutations, and it’s often to the legal system that we look for answers to help us define what “acceptable” sex is. Elsewhere in this collection, in “Stalking the Stalkers,” Kelly Kyrik examines real attempts to catch pedophiles in the act of luring children via the Web.

One of the great new frontiers of sex writing is college newspapers, where sex columnists are starting with a base of knowledge I wish I’d had when I arrived at the University of California at Berkeley, helping educate their fellow students and working out the logistics of sex in print. This new generation is bold, brave, brash, and ballsy, and one of the best and brightest is Miriam Datskovsky, who wrote the Columbia Spectator’s “Sexplorations” column. Here, she takes us inside the phenomenon of naked parties on campus, calling bullshit on them, in those precise terms.

For all the jokes, hand wringing, and ink spilled about Paris Hilton, even her recent jail time, we are a country whose consumers made 1 Night in Paris zoom to the top of the porn best-seller charts, resurrecting an interest in celebrity sex tapes that’s seeing burgeoning sales once thought to have gone the way of Pam and Tommy. But what happens when you’re an Iranian actress caught fucking on film⎯or possibly fucking on film? Pari Esfandiari and Richard Buskin investigate the case of Zahra Amir Ebrahimi, who’s embroiled in a sex scandal about a tape in which she may or may not star, offering insights into the changes in Iranian culture which have made sex both more and less taboo. The situation has seemingly worsened in recent months; in June 2007, Iran’s parliament, in a 148-5 vote, approved a measure saying “producers of pornographic works and main elements in their production are considered corruptors of the world and could be sentenced to punishment as corruptors of the world.”

As for the word “Best” in the title, I’m the first to admit that this is a fully subjective call. Sex is everywhere, and I encourage you to read more about it on the growing network of sex blogs and mainstream and alternative publications, or take pen to paper (or fingers to computer screen) and write your own sexual manifesto.

I thought I knew a lot about sex when I started working on this book. I’ve had dozens of lovers, I wrote a sex column for the Village Voice for two and a half years, I’m on staff at an adult magazine, and I have listened to countless confessions of sexual peccadilloes and adventures. But when it comes to sex, we can all learn something, as you’ll see from even a brief perusal of the table of contents or by skimming any of these chapters⎯I certainly did.

Sometimes I think sex is a code word for every dirty, naughty, perverted thought anyone’s ever had. For some it can be encompassed in a kiss, for others a flogging, a performance, or an intense masturbation session. For others, like that famous maxim about pornography, they know it when they’re doing it. Sex is broad enough (and powerful enough) that we will continue to write, talk, and debate about it for centuries to come⎯when we’re not busy engaging in our preferred version of it. When I tell people I write about sex, I can see immediately whether their judgment about me has changed in the second it took me to say it. Most of the time, I don’t have time to sit and explain how complex a topic we’re talking about. Now, I can just hand them this book, which asks just as many questions as it answers, and hopefully does what good sex should do: leave you wanting more.

Rachel Kramer Bussel
New York City


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