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Lusty Lady

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Smut, politics, and community and a little story called "Auschwitz Blowjob"

This photo of me and Zaedryn Meade was taken by the fabulous Viviane at last night’s PACKED joint reading for Best Lesbian Erotica 2007 and Best Gay Erotica 2007 at Bluestockings. It was hosted by BLE editor Tristan Taormino and organized by Sam J. Miller and reminded me once again that I am part of many communities and that I need them. I was going to say “just as much as they need me” but that sounds totally pretentious. It still thrills/freaks me out when people say they’ve read my stuff. I want to qualify, explain, preempt whatever they may think of it, good or bad. It’s not that the stories don’t stand on their own, it’s just that not all are as near and dear to my heart as others. They can’t be, and while the funnier, lighthearted ones, like the one I read last night, “On Fire,” work, I feel I’m at my best when I’m not funny, just raw.

Sam J. Miller read his story (that apparently was cut from Best Gay Erotica 2007) “Auschwitz Blowjob” (which I encourage you all to go read at Velvet Mafia) and gave out a little zine with the story in it as well. I like to read along and Sam’s story, to me, is what good erotica should do: make you think. Make you think about how sex is intertwined with everything else in our lives. Where and when sex is appropriate, and where it isn’t, how our minds sexualize everything, or can. And I don’t mean that in a negative way, I mean how sex permeates every aspect of our lives, and vice versa. Sex is not exempt from death, grief, betrayal, etc., and Suki Bishop’s story was intense like that too, working out bisexuality and jealousy and confusion and all sorts of other things. It wasn’t all skipping off into the sunset to have endless orgasms under the sky.

Now, I know not everyone likes that. Later, at Candida Royalle’s premiere party for “Under the Covers” (in which Naughty Spanking Stories from A to Z makes a cameo thanks to the fabulous Jamye Waxman), Selina Fire was saying she likes my books because you can jerk off to them. They’re dirty, sexy, designed to get you off. I’m all for that too, and I don’t think it’s a competition between the two types, but Sam’s story, with its Sylvia Plath reference, with its questions, with its in your face title, with its unabashed demand that sex not be cleaned up, that what we desire sometimes makes us feel dirty, and not in the hot way, is vital if we’re to talk about sex honestly. If we’re to admit that we don’t always understand our desires, or our lovers’, that “complicated” is the biggest understatement of all.

So that’s what I took away from it. Then I went to Madame X, which I’ll talk a bit more about later. I was tired and the two blocks from the subway to Madame X with the wind tackling me, were not fun, but when I got there, I realized that those are my people. Sometimes I bristle at the idea that this is a “sex blog” or that I’m a “sex writer,” because I, and all of us, are so much more than that. At the same time, seeing people who are out there doing such amazing work, people like Barbara Carrellas, Kate Bornstein, Veronica Vera, Christen Clifford, Lillian Ann Slugocki, Audacia Ray, and others, and being welcome by them, and celebrating a work that’s one woman’s vision of what porn for women should and can be, was just what I needed. I realized I’d forgotten to tell Veronica about the crossdressing erotica anthology I’m editing. I smiled when she said I look like I “haven’t been eating enough cupcakes.” I realized what a complete and total book nerd I am as I gushed to Audacia about how smart her book is (it’s called Naked on the Internet, it’ll be out in May or June, and you should definitely add it to your Amazon⎯or other⎯wish list). That room was a place where I didn’t have to do any explaining or preempting or anything and while I can’t go out every night, and had to just chill at home away from the cold on Sunday and just be on my own, realizing we don’t work in a vacuum, that smart, talented, amazing, and kind people are all over this business I’m in, and that we can all validate each other (I don’t really care how hokey I sound) renewed my enthusiasm for what I do and made me less wary about embracing some of those labels. I am a sex writer, even though I’m also a lot of other things, but I don’t have to disown that to be me. And major thanks to Viviane and Selina and Lolita for coming to the reading; seeing friendly faces always helps. And Jefferson and Madeline were a lovely addition to Madame X too.

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