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These interviews were conducted by me as part of an upcoming Huffing Post piece (will post link when I have it) about Sex 2.0:
Name: Amber Rhea
Title: Organizer, Sex 2.0
Why did you decide to organize Sex 2.0 and how did the event match up to your expectations?
Honestly, Sex 2.0 was borne out of frustration. I had been going to a bunch of social media unconferences, and there was always this persistent discussion about how to present oneself online. People – especially women – were very concerned with presenting a “professional image” of themselves and not doing anything to tarnish that image. Whenever they would give an example of what it means to be unprofessional, without fail it would be something sexual… for example, “…so I’m not going to go around posting nude photos online!” And everyone would laugh, because of course we all understand that being openly sexual online (especially as a woman!) it totally unprofessional.
I would push back on this assumption, and I always felt like the lone voice of reason in the crowd. I wanted people to question why being openly sexual is seen as unprofessional. I wanted the woman who declared, “If you work nights as a stripper, you deserve to get fired from your day job!” to examine where that idea comes from. But instead everyone would, basically, try to shame me into silence, and eventually I’d shut up, because it was too much to deal with.
So I wanted to have a conference geared toward people who have gotten past that very 101-level stuff, and who understand that “sexual” and “professional” are not mutually exclusive (especially if your profession is sex!). Women in particular are doing some really amazing things online in the realm of sexuality, and I wanted to highlight and explore those things.
Did the event accomplish this? Definitely so! It exceeded my expectations, and I think this was due to the energy and enthusiasm the participants brought with them.
What was your favorite part of the event?
It’s really difficult to pick a favorite part, but if I’m forced, I’ll say that my favorite part of the conference itself was Elizabeth Wood’s session, “Creating the Sex Commons: Sex Blogging as a Feminist Project.” There was some really great exploration of a variety of issues in that session.
My favorite part of the entire weekend was, without a doubt, Ellie Twittering while onstage during a somewhat sketchy “boob contest” at the Flesh and Fetish Ball. And with all of us sex nerds cheering her on, she won by a landslide!
I liked that there was a mix of people across professions, orientations, levels of outness, etc. What were you trying to achieve by bringing this group together? What can people who were there (or wanted to be there) do now to foster that sense of community both where they live and online?
I wanted to show that no matter what our various differences are in background, profession, age, race, gender, sexual expression, etc., one thing that we share in common is an interest in advancing the cultural dialogue about sexuality. I think it’s safe to say that no one at Sex 2.0 felt that people should be shamed (or fired!) for how they experience their sexuality.
How do you see the “sexual community” where you live vs. the community you’ve found online? What do online communities offer that offline ones don’t regarding sexual openness?
It’s not always a simple matter of delineating “online” and “offline” community; the beauty of social media is that those barriers are breaking down. My online community is my offline community. Maybe not all the time, when things like geographic distance comes into play; but all these people who knew of each other thanks to the internet came together at Sex 2.0 and had a really kick-ass time in Atlanta.
But speaking of geographic barriers, online community can fill the gaps when people aren’t able to get together IRL. If you live in an isolated area, you might feel pretty cut off from others who share your sexual interests; but with access to the internet, suddenly you’re not so alone anymore.
Also, online, people may feel more comfortable talking about things that are painful or embarrassing for them to discuss face-to-face. This is a useful facet of online community regardless of what one’s offline community looks like.
Is there any post-Sex 2.0 organizing going on?
Elizabeth Wood has created an online forum at Sex in the Public Square to continue the discussion begun in her session. And several people have been inspired to start new blogs, join Twitter, or get involved in others ways with social media.
Are there plans for another one?
Yes! Even before this one had ended, people were already brainstorming about next year. The idea is to move it to a different city every year, and have different organizers to put their own spin on it. Locations proposed so far for next year are Washington, DC and Burlington, Vermont.
Anything else to add?
I am blown away by the positive response to Sex 2.0. I’m still kind of in that post-orgasmic bliss stage! The only complaints I heard about the conference were that there were too many awesome sessions going on at once. So, next year, we’ll make it two days!
Name: Viviane, librarian
You host teas in New York for what you lovingly call the “perverts” amongst us. Why was it important to you to foster this sense of community, largely bringing online personalities together in real life?
Why did I start this? Because there’s so much nuance that’s missing if you only engage with a person online. I started my blog in May 2005. By early 2006, thanks to what I was contributing to the Fleshbot Sex Blog Roundup, I knew there were a lot of bloggers in NY, was curious about who they were, what they were like in real life. With a blog, you only see what the author wants you to see. At the first gathering, we were all pretty nervous – it was a big risk. I remember scouring my living room and hiding everything with my real name on it! We may be sexual outlaws, but it’s important to know we’re not alone.
Also, when I travel, I make it a point to try and meet the bloggers I’m in touch with or read online.
What is the relationship between the online and offline sexual communities you’re part of?
There’s lots of cross pollination. Being a part of the online communities led me to check out what was available in NY. For me, the catalyst was going to Dark Odyssey in 2006 (with Jefferson, Selina Fire, and Marcus), where I met Lolita Wolf, who’s a NY based BDSM educator. Through her, I started reading her Livejournal, joined The Eulenspigel Society (TES.org) and Lesbian Sex Mafia. And the Pleasure Salon, created and hosted by Mark and Patricial Michaels (www.tantrapm.com) and Selina Fire. I was just at Dark Odyssey Winter Fire and there were a number of sex blogger who I’d convinced to attend – including you.
How did Sex 2.0 fit into this vision of sexual community?
I didn’t know what to expect. This conference was a year in the planning and Amber Rhea had invited me to give this talk when we met at BlogHer in Chicago last year. Many of the sessions I attended were about activism and learning how to represent yourself online. Turns out my talk was one of the few nuts and bolts sessions and was the last session of the day. The vision and energy are there, but people need help understanding how to use the tools to get them on there and how to protect themselves online.
Speaking of tools, many of us were on Twitter, before and during Sex 2.0. I used Twitter to ask questions of my following me when I was updating my presentation, to learn more about my co-presenters, to follow everyone during the day and to coordinate when we were traveling somewhere.
What would you want to see at the next Sex 2.0?
I wanted to go to all of the sessions – perhaps scheduling less sessions in each slot, for longer time periods. And if the wireless is as good as it was at 1763, we could do more hands-on tech sessions, similar to what you do in your erotic writing workshop.
Name: Twanna A. Hines
Title: writer | editor | blogger | sexpot
Why did you attend Sex 2.0 and what did you get out of it?
I attended Sex 2.0 because I was giving a presentation titled “A Brief History of Sex.” I blog FUNKYBROWNCHICK.com, and I have an online column over at Nerve magazine. I also write freelance articles about sex, dating and relationships. So, I wanted to meet other people who were penning and keystroking pieces on the same theme. Of course, I already knew you and some of the other New Yorkers such as Elizabeth from “Sex in the Public Square” and Viviane from “The Sex Carnival.” I had yet to meet Valleywag’s Melissa Gira Grant, Wired.com’s Regina Lynn and others.
What would you like to see at a future event?
I’d like to see even more people of color and additional folks who self-identify as “vanilla” sex lovers, that is, people who practice so-called boring sex. From sodomy laws that are still on the books to discrimination against our LBGTQ friends and laws governing reproductive rights, this stuff effects all of us. Every sexually active person — regardless of kink, or relative lack thereof — could benefit from further discussion about the politics, laws and social dynamics of sex.
Do you feel you’re part of a “sexual community,” online and off?
I’m definitely a sexually active, heterosexual single woman. If we define the term community as a group of people sharing a collective social environment, yes, I think we’re all part of the sexual community. I’m not a fan of segmenting public discussion. For example, I’ve never believed conversations about race should be limited to people of color — nor, for that matter, should women be the only folks talking about sexism or feminist ideas. Likewise, why should sex positive discussions be restricted to our lovely perverts?
Most circumcised male foreskins are fairly mobile when the penis is erect, but may be too tight to slide up to, or around the head of the penis. That’s one major difference in understanding pleasure principle differentials between cut and uncut men. Uncircumcised men have a “turtleneck” of skin richly endowed with nerve endings inside a thin, slippery mucosal layer that covers the unerect penis and slides back to reveal the tip when the member is at fill tilt, so to speak. This layer of skin can be pretty movable and slidey at most stages of arousal, and is basically the uncut penis’ own pre-loaded sex toy.
It’s those nerve endings that everyone’s wondering about. While working at a sex toy store, selling sex toys for boys and condoms alike, I’d routinely get questions about what sex toys might be better or more fun for uncircumcised men, and what condoms were recommended for those with intact foreskins. The overview of advice and recommendations we’d give was that because the head of the uncircumcised penis is often described as more sensitive than the shaft, some toys might feel more intense.
I myself recently penned an ode to uncircumcised cocks for Jewcy.
I’ll be teaching Erotica 101 at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday in Atlanta for Sex 2.0, a one-day “unconference” where you can learn everything from “Sex blogging as a feminist project” with Elizabeth Wood of to “HOWTO: Gt the most out of sex/tech” with Regina Lynn to “Sex Styles of the Internet Famous” by Melissa Gira, description below, to my friend/roommate Twanna A. Hines‘s “A Brief History of Sex.” Also, not about sex, but on Sunday at 3 p.m. I’ll be playing cupcake bingo at Sweet Pockets – stop by if you like!
On the Internet, we’re all famous to fifteen people. Inevitably, you’ll date at least one of them. So how does one gracefully navigate Relationships 2-point-whatever? Is post-coital Twittering acceptable? Should you block an ex from your Flickr? Do we need to call in a couples’ counselor to revise our Facebook relationship status together? After the breakup, who gets custody of the secret sex vlog? A seriously self-effacing facilitated discussion of social networking & managing your identity online when that comes close to and at odds with that of your lovers & partners.
Read more about it with Amber Rhea’s interview with Cory Silverberg at About.com
Host Carol Queen:
Tristan Taormino photo taken by me
Best Sex Writing 2008 contributor (and the force behind Dark Odyssey, which I recently attended) Tristan Taormino has just launched a new website called Opening Up to promote her new book Opening Up: Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships, which comes out this month.
Welcome to OpeningUp.net. I created this site as a resource for folks interested in all kinds of open relationships, including: nonmonogamy, partnered nonmonogamy, polyamory, solo polyamory, polyfidelity, swinging, open marriage, mixed orientation marriage, and mono/poly combinations. Check out the Resources section to see an up-to-date version of the Resource Guide in the book. The Open List is a list of professionals (therapists, psychologists, doctors, coaches, etc.) who are knowledgable and experienced with nonmonogamy. Check them out!
Here’s more info about the book, and here’s an excerpt
In a society where many people feel dissatisfied with monogamy and dishonesty in relationships runs rampant, Opening Up offers a bold new strategy for creating loving, lasting relationships. Relationship expert and bestselling author Tristan Taormino gives readers practical advice on how to craft responsible, fulfilling nonmonogamous relationships. Refreshing, accessible, and jam-packed with information, Opening Up dispels myths, explores the real-life benefits and challenges, and helps readers decide if an open relationship is right for them. It offers strategies for making an open relationship work, including tips on communication, negotiation, jealousy, boundary setting, and conflict resolution. With her trademark down-to-earth, sex-positive style and sharp wit, Taormino covers different styles of open relationships from partnered nonmonogamy to solo polyamory as well as topics like coming out, finding community, and parenting. Woven throughout the book are the diverse voices of real people—from a woman with two husbands and a suburban swinger couple to polyamorous parents and a gay male triad—who candidly share their struggles, fears, hopes, and the secrets of their success in open relationships.
“A superbly informative, sympathetic and literate guide to polyamory. Important reading for anyone curious about how multiple relationships work, and for everyone seeking solid advice on how to make those relationships satisfying and successful.” —Dr. Gloria Brame, author of Different Loving: The World of Sexual Dominance and Submission
“This is a courageous, stunningly thorough and inspiring book. If you need a pathfinding guide on how you might take the next steps in evolving your relationships to ever more expansive containers for that one great energy which is Love, this is it.” —Daphne Rose Kingma, author of The Future of Love
From the latest issue of Forum UK:
Rounding up the most incisive, provocative and bizarre articles on sex published in the last 12 months, author and senior editor at Variations magazine Rachel Kramer Bussel presents a selection as mouthwatering as her other area of specialist interest, the cupcake. The collected articles range from Kevin Keck’s wryly amusing Double Your Panic, in which he tells how every man’s dream of bedding twins becomes a nightmare when you’re about to become the father of a set, to Tristan Taormino’s alarming look at the use of phthalates in cheap sex toys, Dangerous Dildoes, which is guaranteed make you think twice when you buy your next vibrator, and Ashlea Halpern’s harrowing Battle Of The Sexless, which examines the plight of men who will go to any length to become eunuchs. If that’s not enough, there are also investigations into the phenomenon of ‘naked parties’ on campus, the unsafe sex lives of the over-fifties and the truth about wedding night sex.
Scott Poulson-Bryant’s profile of Lexington Steele, The Hung List, fails to say much beyond ‘America doesn’t like its black porn stars to be too black’ (a comment which could be leveled at its black female singing stars and potential Presidential candidates…) and the think pieces on the whole are less interesting than the reportage, but Best Sex Writing 2008 proves that the quality of writing about sex I generally as high and thought-provoking as it has ever been.
Best Sex Writing 2008 Reading
Thursday, March 27, 7 pm
Best Sex Writing 2008 features the best writing from across the sexual spectrum. Hear contributors talk about sex in academia, mainstream porn reporting, hiring a professional submissive, sexual abuse and butch/femme, circumcision, and working in the field of sex. Hosted by Carol Queen, with contributors Amy Andre (“The Study of Sex”), Violet Blue (“Kink.com and Porn Hysteria”), Greta Christina (“Buying Obedience”), Jen Cross (“Surface Tensions”), Paul Festa (“How Insensitive”), and Melissa Gira (“The Pink Ghetto”).
At the Center for Sex and Culture, 1519 Mission St. (between 11th and South Van Ness), San Francisco
Free (donation requested)
Details from the Center for Sex and Culture site:
The Center for Sex and Culture presents the best in sex journalism! Join the local contributors of Best Sex Writing 2008 for a reading on Thursday, March 27 at 7:00pm. From dangerous dildos to professional submissives, the erotic appeal of twins, sex work, pornography and much more, these authors delve into the far reaches 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.
Authors Violet Blue, Paul Festa, Amy Andre, Greta Christina, Jen Cross and Melissa Gira will read and sign books afterwards.
Violet Blue (“Kink.com and Porn Hysteria: The Lie of Unbiased Reporting”) is author and editor of nearly two dozen sexual health books and erotica collections. She is a professional sex educator, lecturer, podcaster, blogger, vlogger, porn/erotica reviewer and machine artist. She has written for outlets ranging from Forbes.com to O, The Oprah Magazine. Violet’s website is tinynibbles.com.
Sex essays by Paul Festa (“How Insensitive”) appear in Nerve, Salon, Best Sex Writing 2005 and Best Sex Writing 2006. His award-winning movie, Apparition of the Eternal Church, about the music of Olivier Messiaen, has its San Francisco premiere at Grace Cathedral on April 18. His related book, OH MY GOD: Messiaen in the Ear of the Unbeliever, was recently published. He can be found online at paulfesta.com and apparitionfilm.com.
Amy Andre (“The Study of Sex’) has a master’s degree in human sexuality studies from San Francisco State University. She works as a sex educator and writer. http://www.amyandre.com/
Melissa Gira (“The Pink Ghetto [A Four-Part Series]) is the editor of Sexerati, the award-winning blog about smart sex, the co-founder of the sex worker group blog Bound, Not Gagged, and a reporter for Valleywag. Visit her at melissagira.com.
Greta Christina (“Buying Obedience: My Visit to a Pro Submissive”) has been writing professionally since 1989. She is the editor of Best Erotic Comics 2008 and Paying for It: A Guide by Sex Workers for Their Clients. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and anthologies, including Ms., Penthouse, the Skeptical Inquirer, and two volumes of the Best American Erotica series. She blogs at http://gretachristina.typepad.com.
No charge — but we will ask for donations if you’re able to contribute. At The Center for Sex & Culture: 1519 Mission near 11th St. CSC can take checks, Visa, M/C and Discover.
What great news – my publisher Cleis Press has asked me to edit Best Sex Writing 2009. If you’re reading this site, you have an idea of the kind of work I’m looking for; I’d also love any tips or recommendations.
Call for submissions: Best Sex Writing 2009
To be edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Publication date: November 2008
Deadline for submissions: May 1, 2008
Editor Rachel Kramer Bussel is looking for personal essays and reportage for inclusion in the 2009 edition of the Cleis Press series Best Sex Writing, which will hit stores in November 2008. Seeking articles from across the sexual spectrum, covering alternative sexuality, reproductive rights and sexuality, sex education, sex and technology, sex work, sex and aging, sex and parenting, sex and religion, sex and race, sex and disability, BDSM, polyamory, gender roles, etc. These topics are just starting points; any writings covering the topic of sex will be considered. Personal essays will also be considered. I like work that looks at sex in new and unusual ways, that challenges us to think about sex and our own sexuality, is thought-provoking and possibly disturbing. I want sex journalism that’s found in the most unexpected places.
Previous editions of the annual series have featured authors such as Susannah Breslin, Susie Bright, Stephen Elliott, Tristan Taormino, Virginia Vitzhum, Gael Greene, Michael Musto, and others. See Best Sex Writing 2008 for examples of the types of writing being sought (introduction and more information at https://bestsexwriting2008.wordpress.com). I’m especially looking for reported pieces that are political, timely, intelligent, surprising, and insightful about sex in American culture (and its many subcultures).
About the editor: Rachel Kramer Bussel (www.rachelkramerbussel.com) is a prolific author and editor. She hosts In The Flesh Reading Series and has edited or co-edited over a dozen erotica books, most recently Yes, Sir, Yes, Ma’am, Best Sex Writing 2008, and Crossdressing.
Requirements: Story must have been published (or slated to be published) between June 1, 2007 and October 31, 2008, online and/or in print (book, magazine, zine or newspaper) in the United States.
Instructions: Please send your double-spaced submission (up to 6,000 words) as a Word document or RTF attachment to bestsexwriting2009 at gmail.com – you may submit a maximum of TWO pieces for consideration. You MUST include your full contact information, a bio, and previous publication details as per below.
If for some reason you are unable to send a Word document or RTF, send your submission in the body of an email. Put BSW09 in the subject line. Include your name, email address, mailing address, phone number, and exact publication details (title of publication, date of publication, and any other relevant information). ONLY SEND WORK YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REPRINT.
Editors may submit up to three submissions from their publication, following the guidelines above. Please make it clear that you are the editor submitting work for consideration from your publication, and have the author’s contact information available upon request.
Email address (for queries and submissions): bestsexwriting2009 at gmail.com
Deadline: May 1, 2008
Expect to hear back from me by October 2008 at the latest.
The Sex Workers Art Show, founded by Annie Oakley, which is consistently creative, thought-provoking, and powerful, has been in the news a lot this year. Oakley went on The O’Reilly Factor to talk about the show:
Oakley is also the editor of the recent Seal Press book Working Sex: Sex Workers Write About a Changing Industry, which I blurbed:
Working Sex is a radical, powerful, vitally important book. Presenting takes on various kinds of sex work from men and women, it will open your eyes and dispel the umpteen stereotypes about whores that, sadly, still seem to flourish. The best part? It’s also an entertaining read that’ll have you tearing through its pages not just for the politics, but for the extremely well-written, soul-baring prose.
From The Weekly Dig
Some of the show is more demonstrative. In New York, pro-domme Keva Lee dominated a female volunteer, someone who would not be considered a sex object according to conventional beauty standards. The piece left audience members a bit awed, not by the demonstration, but by a woman who manifested such believable desire for a stranger and by the way that desire transformed someone she didn’t know.
Sex workers are repositories for our most secret, most frustrated or even most mundane desires. We put so much of ourselves onto sex workers that we often forget to ask who they are. Or rather, who else they are.
Maybe we just expect them to be complicit in our own shame. The penitent whore is a better-known character than the escort who is not a drug addict and can criticize her job without condemning her peers and her work. Chris Kraus’ reading is a good example of this—acknowledging that strip clubs are, behind the scenes, often dystopian and unhealthy … just like so many other American workplaces.
Maybe we are just afraid of what sex workers would say if they started talking. “They line up for me like children lining up for Santa Claus at the mall. They want to tell me what they want,” recounts Lorelei Lee of her experiences with fans at sex industry trade shows. A pretty blonde porn star, Lee reads anecdotes about her sex work as well as those on more commonplace aspects of her life, like watching television with a sick roommate or picking out frozen food. These pedestrian vignettes serve as healthy inoculations—for her and the audience—against pure fantasy.
“People think you’re supposed to be continuously sexually available and excited and really enraptured with whomever you’re having sex or giving a lap dance to, and therefore that you’re this constant nymphomaniac,” says Oakley—who is also selling on tour her anthology of writings by sex workers—the first ever to be edited by a fellow sex worker. “People don’t grasp that it’s a job.”