Posts Tagged ‘Melissa Gira’

Sex 2.0 conference in Atlanta 4/12

April 10, 2008

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

Photos from the San Francisco reading

April 2, 2008

Marlo Gayle took some amazing photos from the March 27th San Francisco Best Sex Writing 2008 reading. They can all be seen in this Flickr set.

Paul Festa:

Violet Blue:

Amy Andre:

Jen Cross:

Melissa Gira:

Host Carol Queen:

Thanks to everyone for reading and to Carol Queen for hosting and Kara Wuest at Cleis Press for organizing it!

Best Sex Writing 2008 contributor interview: Lux Nightmare and Melissa Gira

December 7, 2007

This is part 1 of a series of interviews I’m conducting with contributors to Best Sex Writing 2008 about their pieces in the book and their work generally. Consider them and this blog a companion to the book itself. Lux Nightmare and Melissa Gira wrote about “The Pink Ghetto” in a series of posts at Sexerati, which I reprinted as one piece in the book. The bios below are from the book.

Lux Nightmare has been obsessed with the Internet since 1994, obsessed with computers since 1987, and obsessed with sex since 1982. Career highlights include founding and running That Strange Girl (the first altporn site to feature both male and female models), interning at Nerve (back when it was cool), and keeping the masses educated about sex since 1997. She is the former Features Eeditor for Sexerati.com, a blog about sex, culture, and everything in between, and is working on a book about her years in the altporn scene.

Lux Nightmare

Lux Nightmare

What was the genesis for your piece on the Pink Ghetto?

I’ve been working in sex, in one way or another, for over ten years now, so I’ve had a lot of experience with the pink ghetto⎯and, more specifically, with the difficulty of promoting work (even intelligent, academic work) that might fall under the label of NSFW. I finally got so frustrated with the entire state of affairs, with being told that my work wasn’t “appropriate” because it dealt honestly with sexuality, that I had to put a name to my frustrations. Hence the Pink Ghetto.

What kind of reaction did you receive to it, both from others in the pink ghetto and those outside of it?

I think the most vocal reactions have come from people who’ve found themselves ghettoized for their interest in, or work around, sex–and those reactions have all been positive, thanking me for putting a name to this phenomenon. People outside of it have also reacted in a positive manner–for many, I think it was the first time they’d really even taken time to think critically about the way sex-related material and work is ghettoized.

How have your thoughts about the topic changed since you wrote the piece?

Yes and no. Though I’m still convinced that there’s a lot of stigma attached to sex-related work, I’m starting to feel more hopeful about the possibilities for breaking down the barriers and removing the stigma. These days, I’m more of the opinion that if you present sex-related–even sexually explicit–material in a very straightforward, noncontroversial manner, you can usually get people to accept it as noncontroversial material.

Lux, at the end, you talk about some of the pros of the pink ghetto and the opportunities you’ve been given within it. Do you think the pink ghetto shouldn’t exist at all (even though clearly it now does)? What would your ideal pink ghetto look like?

The nice thing about being discriminated against is that if you’re able to overcome that discrimination, you’re pretty much automatically in a place of power. The bad thing about being discriminated against is that it makes everything that you do that much harder.

I recognize that I’ve gained a lot from my choice to work in a stigmatized field⎯but it’s also cost me a lot as well. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think anyone benefits from stigma. There is no “ideal” pink ghetto: I’d much rather see the pink ghetto completely dismantled. We’d benefit far more from living in a society where sex and sexuality are not taboo topics, where we can speak freely about these subjects without fearing for our reputations.

What are you working on now?

I spend a lot of time working on Boinkology, my blog/podcast about sex and culture, and educating the masses about sex any way that I can.

Melissa Gira (melissagira.com) is a blogger, writer, editor of Sexerati: Smart Sex. (sexerati.com), and a contributor to $pread magazine and the blogs BoundNotGagged, Gridskipper. An international sex worker rights’ advocate, mobile media maker, and shameless sex futurist, she fully unpacked three times in the last year and prefers to work out of her purse-sized office: cell phone, wireless keyboard, and dv camera, wherever a cheap GPRS signal and fancy lipgloss can take her.

Melissa Gira

What was the genesis for your piece on the Pink Ghetto?

Sex blogging has been a decently fertile ground for some smart new sex thinking, and at Sexerati, I’m always pushing for more. I approach the sexblogosphere as a community for generating dynamic and collaborative sexual theory & of course, practice–though the practice is what gets a disproportionate amount of the attention. There’s nothing wrong with writing about fucking, with foregrounding your sex life in your sex writing, but to do so means that as a writer, you are not choosing sides–writer vs. subject, expert vs. participant–and this still requires taking a risk: that you might be minimized for doing what we new media types are supposed to value, stating our biases and situating ourselves in our work. When it comes to sex, that means risking being a slut, and I say, it’s the only ethical to do, to own that, to challenge that. My hope is that we can be so brazen about it that it becomes utterly uncontroversial.

What kind of reaction did you receive to it, both from others in the pink ghetto and those outside of it?

I’m just glad for Technorati, so we could track who was calling back out to the essay series. It resonated far outside the sexblogosphere, which to me means it actually succeeded in reaching its intended audience.

How have your thoughts about the topic changed since you wrote the piece?

Death to the Pink Ghetto, and Long Live the Pink Ghetto. Writing on the so-called sex ghett–which, even at the time, I knew was a deeply racialized and loaded choice of frame–drew out other sex professionals, put us into conversation around why we think what we do is important, and offered opportunity for us to consider the rules of working in sex. Will we use the ghettoization of what we do to support one another, as outsiders unified, or will we play that stigma as a way to gain respect from those “outside” sex? The ways that those at the margins regulate their own success by imposing an internal hierarchy of stigma back on one another fascinates me, and saddens me. Addressing this internal stigma forms the next prong of the dismantling the “pink ghetto” altogether. So long as we regard our work as outside the scope of “normal” journalistic investigation or normal human curiosity, well, we do it to ourselves.

Melissa, you wrote, “What is so less noble about thinking sex rather than money, rather than politics, religion, or art? Sex being so fully embedded in the human experience, I want to put out there that there really is no way to engage the culture on ‘what really matters’ without looking at sexuality.” I confront this all the time, too. Why do you think sex, as democratic and accessible a topic as it should be, is so threatening to so many people?

I used to think this was because sex had somehow been made occult, that real sex education was hard to come by, that sex media wasn’t reflective of most people’s sexual desires, and it was that lack of credible information that perpetuated a fear of sex, both for “consumers” and to scare off those who might want to start doing one better and make their own sex ed & media. After over ten years now of working in sex online, I have to double back on that assumption, one that still reigns. We have no lack of cultural conversation ongoing about sex, but it’s one that outright alienates many people from their sexuality. The supposedly positive “answers to sex” that are proposed–to buy more sex toys, sex manuals, sex recreation–presume that sex is a problem to be solved, and who wants to believe that, really? Deep down, no one wants to told they are damaged and need fixing, ignorant and need educating.

What our sex positive forebears were pushing for, in their innovating sex stores, sex publishing, and sex culture, was not a consumer-based “answer” to a problem. The sex-positive paradigm shift they were pushing for, and that we’re facing backlash for now, never arrived fully enough to hate on as much as we, the next generation, are being asked to. We as sex professionals could change this sex alienation fundamentally if we could just drop this “sexpert” thing–it might be a great tool with which to sell books, but it’s not doing much to help folks find sexual self-reliance in the longterm. The “answer” to sex isn’t in a book, much as it pains me as a writer to say this; it’s in sex itself.

What are you working on now?

I’m doing a fair amount of traveling and community education around blogging & social media as tools for advocacy and social change. In two days I’ll be Malaysia for an international gathering of sex worker activists, in January I’ll be presenting at sex::tech in San Francisco and the Spring brings me to Atlanta for Sex 2.0, and summer to the Desiree Alliance’s conference in Chicago. You can always catch up with me at melissagira.com.

Read their piece and more (see below for table of contents) in Best Sex Writing 2008.