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Advent Calendars That Aren't Cheap Chocolate

Anyone who has been around me for any length of time knows that I love Christmas. I love the lights, I love the music, I love the charity work, I love the cheesy movies, I love the cookies. Everything about it pleases me immensely. 

But one thing I really love? Giving people presents. And advent calendars are a really nice way to do that, with little presents all month long making December a little more fun. If you normally dislike the holidays, or find yourself cynical about it, gift yourself an advent calendar. Consider it a reward for making it through each day. 

The one issue is that in the US, where we don't really do advent calendars so much, we're often stuck with really shitty paper calendars with even worse, waxy milk chocolate. No longer! Here's some suggestions on advent calendars you'll actually be excited about. 

24 Days of Beard Treats 
Let's be honest, every advent calendar on this list is sraight out of hipster heaven. But this one, with tiny vials of beard oil, scented with everything from fresh cut grass to leather to steel, really takes the cake. It's practical, though, especially for bearded folks who travel.

Ciate Mini Mani Month
These tiny nail polishes allow you to sample a bunch of different colours and techniques without committing to the full size deal, which is great! The small size does mean they tend to dry out faster, so consider some nail polish revitalizer if these polishes might be sticking around. 

The Whisky Advent Calendar
Fuck cheapo milk chocolate - how about a taste of some real holiday cheer in the form of expensive whisky? Each year has a different collection to help you get through all your wrapping with the company of some good spirits. Not into whisky? They also have gin, tequila, rum... basically every type of booze, including a premium version of the whisky one. 

The LEGO Advent Calendar
Available in both a city and Star Wars iteration, this is a great calendar for people who like to fidget with something at work. Who doesn't like LEGO? Just don't forget to pick them up after - no one likes stepping on these plastic blocks! 

Christmas Beer Advent
While perhaps lacking in the specific holiday/winter beer categories, this advent calendar is great for those who enjoy good German beers. What's more holiday feeling than that? After all, the Christmas tree comes from a German tradition.

​Artful Tea Advent
Winter is the perfect season for getting cosy. What's more cosy than a steaming hot cuppa? This calendar offers up 24 numbered tea bags with different flavours of tea from an independent tea shop, in a nice assortment from black to green to herbal.

Lovehoney's Big Box of Sexual Happiness
I wouldn't be me if I didn't offer up a sex toy advent calendar. Lovehoney's offering isn't filled with expensive leather, but it's got some cute supplies for the couple who might enjoy a bit of spanking, and it's not intimidating. There's also masturbation toys for penises and clits, which is nice. 

Moonstruck's Truffle Advent Calendar
Finally, if you just have to have chocolate as your countdown treat? Moonstruck is an excellent chocolate company based in Portland. With 24 luxurious truffles to soften the blow, it'll be a little bit easier when you finally lose "Little Drummer Boy" while running errands. 

Categories: holidays, gift guides

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The Present Posse: a secret snowflake gift exchange

Do you wanna participate in a secret snowflake exchange with fellow artists, activists, makers and shakers? Wanna get something that'll expand your mind, expand the capability of your bug out bag, or just make you giggle?

I feel like as activists we end up exhausting ourselves and burning out a lot, so I wanted to do this little gift exchange as a way to lift our spirits.

Handmade stuff is awesome! Buying stuff from small businesses is awesome! Regifting stuff is awesome! Make sure you offer a diverse list of your interests/things you like to help your secret snowflake out. Also offer any limitations as they relate to the things on your list (gluten allergy, chemical sensitivity, Mac vs PC, etc).

Sign up here between now and December 7th

Categories: holidays

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Basic Bitch? Maybe.

Living with a partner when you're poly involves a lot of negotiation when it comes to sleepover dates with others. You have to be consistent with putting things in your Google calendar, for a start, and you have to be prepared for a certain amount of planning ahead of time. Impulse dates are hard to manage when you have only one bed between you. The advantage of this is that you begin to get creative about where you can fool around. As someone who loves semi-public play for the novelty of it but also cares deeply about consent and doesn't eroticize "getting caught", it's a challenge to find spots that tick all the boxes that also don't cost an arm and a leg. Public spaces are by their very nature public, which makes them risky. And while sex parties are the right space and the right time, I'm old and jaded about fucking in someone else's wet spot. So I have to think a little further outside the box.

It was a weekday and I finally had a daytime date with my boyfriend.  Boyfriend! The word felt new and unnatural still, even if I had a lot of joy from using it. Introducing him to old friends led to me still working out what to call him in relationship to me, and the syllables of "boyfriend" still felt a little like rolling marbles in my mouth. We had only just recently begun to say we loved each other, something that filled my heart to bursting. The sun was shining and everything felt perfect.New relationship energy is, for me, like the first pumpkin spice lattes of the season. It's exciting because I love autumn, I love Halloween, I love soups and pies and cuddling by fires and that pumpkin spice latte is like a symbol for all that. People who like to seem cool shun the pumpkin spice latte, which is their prerogative, just as people like to be too cool for being in love and having a bunch of mushy feelings. Fine, whatever. I enjoy my PSL, and my NRE, and when they fade they just transform into a love for something new and just as enjoyable. Novelty can only be novelty as long as it stays novel, after all, and all things change. 

I wanted to go to a pumpkin patch, and a weekday seemed like an ideal time to go. No crowds, no traffic, just a cute day holding hands and picking out the perfect Halloween decorations. And there was a hay maze at the spot I picked, a hay maze I had never successfully found my way through, so that was an added incentive. The farm was empty except for a woman at the desk and a couple of farm hands working, so we had the place to ourselves. We walked into the hay maze confident. He suggested we stick to the wall, which I mostly followed... well, until I didn't anymore.

I wanted to get lost.  

I led him by the hand and we explored probably every dead end in that hay maze. Soon we were using the dead ends as an opportunity to make out. At first our kisses were tender, brief, and sweet, as we giggled about feeling like a couple of kids at prom. Then we got more daring, our kisses heating up, hands up skirts and down pants as we took turns throwing each other against they hay bales. No matter how entangled we got, though, we had to keep moving along, trying new paths and retracing our steps. We found a chair along the way, and used that to prop up my leg so he could slide his fingers into my cunt, the hay prickling into my back as I tried not to moan too loudly. Or, in another dead end, I sat on the chair to suck his cock, the sun warming our bodies. 

Two hours later, we stumbled out of the maze through the way we had come in, picking hay out of our hair and giggling as we went to wash our hands before picking out pumpkins. My little orange reminders look wholesome on my front porch, even if they make me grin, remembering getting frisky for fall.

As much as I love this season, I had never had sexytimes in a hay maze before. I think it might become a seasonal tradition. And if that makes me a basic bitch, well, I'm a basic bitch who fucked in a hay maze, so. ;)

Categories: sexyfuntime, personal, boys, fantasy

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A little story about bondage...

mcuffs-front_0Last night I asked him to cuff me.

We've been fucking for months now, both in bed and in the wilderness, but always on equal footing. We took turns on paying bills and treating each other to beer at one local dive or another. After years of explicit power dynamics, I found it refreshing for my pleasure to be put front and center, my enjoyment his priority. He had been eating me out for weeks before I sucked his cock, a rare swapping of sexual roles in my experience. But then, he never held me down or held me back.

It used to be that when I asked for something kinky it was because the sex we were having bored me. I fetishize novelty, and I've been in these communities for 14 years. It's difficult to come up with something new and exciting for this jaded libido! So I would enjoy the vanilla sex for a while, then we'd get into spanking or toys or role plays because the sex on its own wasn't enough to hold my interest anymore. Developing a power exchange was not about trust or intimacy so much as it was about creating a distraction.

Not so this time. I realized that I wanted him to cuff me because I trusted him enough to be willing to see what he'd do if I was immobilized. I wanted to tell him what my fantasies were, the silly ones and the dark ones. This time is was about a deepening of intimacy, not a deflection. It wasn't about submission, or pain, but surrendering - not to him, but to my own desires.  I have always been both incredibly open about sex and very shielded about some of my own fantasies, but I have had nothing to fear from him. He has never laughed at me, never once made me feel self conscious. He caresses my belly, my upper arms, my thighs and I feel beautiful. He expresses concern when he sees blisters on my feet, not disgust. It's like we've known each other for years and it's only been a few months, yet I feel naked under his gaze in a way that's comforting.

As he wrapped the leather around my wrists I knew I could slip out of them easily. With other lovers, I would have been a brat, played a game, tried to provoke a punishment. But last night I linked my fingers together to remind myself I was bound, and I let his fingers and tongue travel over my skin, nestling into the hair of my cunt and armpits. He kissed me and I could taste myself on his lips. We fucked and I came harder than I had in months. I let go and exploded into a thousand pieces.

Last night I asked him to cuff me. He said he loved me for the first time in person, his own expression of surrender and intimacy. I cherish it as delicately as I cherish my own. It's beautiful and wild to love and be loved, to hold hands and walk around the lake, to press our bodies together in an abandoned hay maze unsure if we'll ever find our way out again.

I am a creature of control, and yet I delight in being lost with him, in him.

Cuffs from Aslan Leather

If you like this and want me to write more true life erotic pieces, please join my Patreon! Every $1 helps me make time to write things like this. 

Categories: best of, bondage, dating, love, mushy

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Review: "The Butters", a Lube from LTASEX

IMG_20160903_160148When my buddy posted a call for folks who would try out his new lube, I immediately volunteered. I know Jerome from his blog, LTASEX, where I had done an interview around the release of Hard Femme. He writes great sex ed stuff from a Black, gay, poly and kinky perspective (among other things), does a podcast covering mental illness, and does video interviews (and hey you should go sponsor him on Patreon!)

As someone who is possibly perpetually dehydrated and who tends to not produce a lot of natural lubrication anyway, I'm always on the lookout for something that will be a nice alternative. I'm sensitive to a lot of things in lube - flavours and glycerin in particular, but I also have preferences on gel vs liquid, and how easy it is to get it off when sexytimes are over. I was excited to check out this new lube.

What made me laugh when I went to the site to grab a sample I saw it was called "The Butters". Now, I dunno if you saw this video, but in 2011 this white lady went viral for posting a rant about how Black folks were hiding "the butters" from white folks - cocoa butter, shea butter, etc. I don't know what rock she's been living under, because I've been using coconut oil and shea butter for everything under the sun for years. But it lead to an interesting discussion online about the white supremacist construct of the "magical Negro" who has secret mystical potions for self care, and unpicking why that is. Why is it that white folks don't tend to know about how amazing cocoa butter is?

Anyway I got sent a sample in a little tub. I'm hoping as this lube takes off there will be a slightly more secure transportable container (I worry this one might leak in transit?) and my one complaint would be that you have to make sure you don't double dip and get intimate fluids into the tub (which is really an issue with all butter consistency lubes).

IMG_20160903_160252BUT. The lube itself is magical. It's so, so smooth, has a faint but pleasant smell, next to no taste, and it stays slippery for so, so long! I used it for masturbation and it was still slippery and lovely after 45 minutes with a hitachi, and I used it for sex with a sweetie, and it definitely took the sex up a notch from the lube we used the night before. He appreciated the lack of drippiness - the lube stayed where we put it - and I appreciated that it didn't taste funky so we could switch between PIV and oral without a nasty taste ruining the mood.

Now, that said, it isn't condom safe - oils break condoms - but it is fabulous for bareback (which, of course, do responsibly, etc). I expect it would also be an amazing anal lube and jack off cream. The best part is that it had most of the advantages of silicone while also eventually absorbing into my body... and I had one or two little cuts on my labia that were completely healed the next day.

(edited to note: I was made aware that actually non latex polyisoprene condoms like Lifestyle Skyns will have synthetic latex in them, and as such are still a bad idea to use with oil based lubes. Instead, you can use polyurethane condoms like the Trojan Bareskin ones.)

But that's not all. This lube is multipurpose! For traveling this is SUCH a practical formula. You can use it as a makeup remover, as a lotion, as a deep hair conditioner, as a leather conditioner, to take care of beards, to shave, to heal your tattoo... it's really all purpose in a way I really like. Did I also mention that it's vegan, pH balanced, and doesn't feel oily at all? Yeah. "The Butters" is a fucking fantastic lube and I plan to bring it with me everywhere.

AND most importantly? It's under $9 for a cup, which, considering how long this stuff lasts and how little of it you need, will last you a good long time.

Wanna try it for yourself? Order it at LTASEX, and while you're over there, check out the blog!

Thank you Jerome for sending me this in exchange for an honest review. You've directly improved my sex life. <3

Categories: lubricant, my nethers, review, sex

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A Brand New Brand

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 12.01.20 AMThanks to to support of my Patreon patrons, I was able to hire someone to redesign my site so I could take a step back from porn as my main focus and begin to rebrand myself. I am so excited for the site to be done- its so much cleaner now, and easier to navigate, and I got to keep my pretty colours and my rococo meets shabby chic aesthetic!

Because I'm making a huge step back from the adult industry. Formally, I've quit sex work- after 14 years in this field, I'm pretty done with being a performer in it. I'm overall happy with my experiences in XXX but frankly it's become less fun and more emotional labour than I wanted, and if I'm going to have a lot of emotions, I'd rather be writing about them and just make erotic art for fun.Honestly, I'm scared. I've been a sex worker for my entire adult life, and I don't really know who I am if I'm not identifying as an active sex worker anymore.  And can I ever really not be a sex worker? How many years from my last paid for blow job does it take to not be a sex worker anymore? Is it like sobriety, where I might fall off the wagon and start over? Is it fucked up to relate sex work to sobriety? In some ways I find myself reaching for booze and sex work for similar unhealthy reasons- it's easy and available, even if I feel unhappy with it.

Will I never do porn again? Nah, I love making erotic film! I might direct more than perform, and it will probably all be weird storylines and themes from now on, because that's what juices me up. And I'll still take sexy photos and write smut because as a person I'm a reasonably sexual being. The reason I needed to stop leading with my sex worker brand is because I recognized how often I disassociated around sex. I value my sexuality and pleasure and missed it when it was gone, but didn't know what else to do. I felt stuck.

Frankly, Patreon has made it possible for me to quit sex work and not be terrified about how I would pay rent or feed myself. I'm so grateful.

So I'm redoing my website, and redoing my Patreon. I want to be able to not be marked NSFW anymore so I can be searched for on here, so I will likely be hosting any sort of visual adult content through passwords on another site, so my patrons can still have access to it without hosting it on Patreon itself.

I'm hoping as of September 15th, when I'll be fully moved into my new apartment with my fiancee,  I'll have a lot more time for writing and pitching and maybe even making a podcast or something. We'll see! It's been a tough few months but it's looking up and I can't wait to find out who I am when I'm not trying to market my sexuality first. I hope you'll come along for the ride, and maybe even invite your friends. <3

Categories: best of, personal, update

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BBWCon 2016: The Long Con

kittybbwcon-6146Hotel: $500
Ticket/booth for the con: $135
Banner: $50 design + $50 printed
Zines: $37 printed
DVDs: $200 printed
Prep: $40 manicure, $25 haircut
Lingerie to shoot in: $75
Gas: $150
Mucinex when I got sick: $20
Food when the banquet wasn’t enough: $20

The experience of being around fat femme women who hate other fat femme women: ...incredibly emotionally expensive


***

I went to the porn convention with my eyes open, to be fair.

I had heard the rumors that because one company put it all together, the only models who got recognized were models for that company. I had raised my brows at the number of nominations that the one organizing company had, especially with a lack of transparency to accompany it, but I shrugged it off. I accepted that my nominations were very unlikely to amount to anything, as an indie queer performer that BBW companies don’t approach to shoot because my breasts, a mere 38E, aren’t seen as big enough to justify my belly and hips.

I had also beared witness to the extended drama prior to the event, which ranged in my mind from somewhat reasonable to absurd self centeredness and lack of professionalism. For the most part I thought I had stayed out of it - I was under the impression that I had managed to stay Switzerland in the various girl vs girl catfights that had popped up.

Well, except for one- the PR person for the event had been pretty much ignoring me in all the promo leading up to the event. It was something I chalked up to her being resentful because I had said in a review years earlier that her glittery, strawberry flavored analingus spray was one of the worst things I had ever encountered. We had gotten into it again when she offered to get interviews and press attention to girls who paid her an extra $100, something I felt strongly was a manipulation of her position and the newness of some of the performers who may not know better.

I figured, “eh, it’s drama, I’m used to that, it’ll be fine” but I didn’t anticipate just how segmented the various porn performers would be, or how saccharine the saltiness of those still-ongoing catfights would seem. Unaware that performers I thought were friendly were actually being mean girls behind my back, I began to sense there would be a lot more tension than I anticipated. I was relieved to be a part of my own, Bay area clique, who felt just as alienated and confused as I did. We also had matching denim vests, which is important, reader.

But even with all that in mind I tried so hard to be optimistic. I had been told that there were loads of fans coming, that events had been planned and would be fun, that this was shaping up to be the best porn con. I packed multiple outfits expecting to have chances to shoot, or at the very least to do some dirty photos with fans at the booth.

I did, and had, none of these things.

***

We arrived at the hotel and femme-sploded while preparing for the strip night only to find our room was a probable death trap. It had broken air conditioning (in over 100 degree heat), the shower refused to give us cold water, and the boiler was very likely to explode at any time judging from the racket (like a walrus dying slowly). My friends and I puzzled out how likely it would be to get maintenance to fix the multiple issues, and decided to move to another room instead the next day. My cold was going from bad to worse, and the room was like a dry sauna. Every time I stepped outside, it was so dry my throat would send me into a painful coughing fit.

Hell is Las Vegas in July, I’m sure of it.

Two of us were dancing that night, and it was one of the highlights of the trip even if I did burn myself on a cigarette and give myself two massive blisters. While it was a struggle to persuade people to go up on stage before the strip contest happened, when someone did it was exciting to watch. I gave my girlfriend and a friend some money to tip the strippers, encouraging them to spread the wealth. I flirted with men, a rarity anymore, and the energy I got back felt flattering rather than predatory. After all the drama I had seen online, the club felt full of people supporting each other and being lovely to each other, a welcome change.

We got home tired, with our friend as the strip contest winner, and smiling. Photos were taken of them showered in their earnings as we celebrated our raised spirits. Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all! We were ready for the con after seeing sexy fat naked femmes dancing… or so we thought.

***

THE CON

The night before the con began had felt somewhat hopeful, even if the party hadn’t been my kind of atmosphere. There had been a lot of fans who came out for the meet-n-greet, and while I wasn’t feeling much like dancing, I did get a drink from one lovely fellow who wanted to talk Pokemon Go and politics, two of my favourite things. I certainly had a chilly reception from the PR person for the con, who apparently left the next day and was gone for the entire weekend… an interesting choice for the person managing the con’s social media, but hey, not my circus.

My denim vest queer gang of femmes decided to ditch the party to go to the Old Strip to check out the Gold Spike, an adult playground that even made me reconsider ageplay for a second. We got drunk and played with huge LEGO, giant Jenga, and Connect Four while listening to a live band accompanying karaoke on stage. It was basically like my heaven. We eventually took off to check out Glitter Gulch, which was sadly closed, and the Golden Nugget, where we played penny slots until the smoke made it impossible to see anymore. We crashed into bed, grateful that we had been able to move into an air conditioned room even closer to the pool. Things were looking up.

And then it was the con.

I showed up bright eyed and bushy tailed with my brand new banner, table dressing, handmade zines and laptop to screen some of my work. The one room set up with tables looked a bit small, but I figured with 70 performers slated to come and the booths being all sold out, it would fill up quickly. I discovered that we weren’t assigned tables, like at AVN, so it was a first-come, first-served kind of deal. I picked a table about halfway between the doors and the bar, figuring it was as good a place to set up shop as any.

I had never put up my banner before, and my fake nails that I had gotten for all the porn I expected to be doing made putting the damn thing together difficult. I struggled for about a half an hour, desperately texting my girlfriend to come help me, blinking back tears as I realized that I was still feeling pretty sick and this con was very likely going to be an expensive waste of my time. After all, I didn’t work with any of the “big boys” of the BBW adult industry, and at least some of the other models whispered about me in the backchannels - I was too political, too tattooed, too queer, too much.

I’m always too much. I was never particularly good at being “feminine” - sexy and sweet, friendly and flirty. Even when I’m dressed like a 5 year old’s birthday cupcake, I’m still too salty and bitter for some tastes. I’m not much for sugarcoating. It makes the adult industry, one where we all say it’s empowering for women but try to ignore that at the end of the day we still have to cater a lot to misogynist men (producers, distributors, co-stars and consumers), a challenge for someone like me.

When someone says they like “real” sex and “genuine” porn stars… they’re not exactly lying, but they’re not exactly telling the truth.

***

Anyway. I got my table set up, finally figured my banner out, and scanned the room. Doors opened at noon. It was already past that, and yet ⅔ of the tables were still empty. I sighed, texted my girlfriend to bring me a beer, and settled in for what would end up being hours of watching my own porn. I took some time to read through the anti-Prop 60 pamphlets the Free Speech Coalition had sent my way to display at the booth, mastering my talking points on why porn fans should be rallying against this measure. I glanced around the room, feeling a bit like a nerd at a school dance, shy, unsure if anyone wanted to talk to me. Many of the other performers seemed to know each other already, and frankly I couldn’t remember who hated who anymore, so I retreated to my booth.

The fans, all 10 of them, were really solid, to be fair. In my experience, they asked for photos before they took them, they talked to me about my zine, and the adult industry, and I felt really seen and respected as a person. We talked extensively about Prop 60 and the dangers it would pose to the adult industry and those within it. I got to give out a ton of flyers and stickers and I felt really good about being able to talk about the important politics of porn.

Even so, I sold one book, one zine, and one photo. $60 total, which covered half my banner costs. Many of the other performers I spoke to had similar issues with fan engagement. One of my friends won a raffle because they were the only person who signed up. Performers outnumbered fans 4 to 1, and that’s with half the performers who were slated to have booths not showing up. Media coverage was spotty - as of today, Friday July 29, there’s nothing in the news about the con at all. The only thing with any coverage was the awards (more on that in part 3). Oh, and whatever my girlfriend ends up writing.

If a porn star goes to Vegas and doesn’t document it on Snapchat, was she ever even there?

***

I tried really hard to stay positive. I really did. I offered suggestions for improvement for months before the event on how to make it feel good for the performers. I was reassured that there would be a ton of fans, that the drama would be minimal. Instead, I showed up to find that as models, we weren’t given any sort of schedule, everything was very ad hoc, and while we were being asked to show up to parties to entertain the fans, we couldn’t even drink beer for free. The VIP poker night was reported to lack air conditioning - great for the fact it was strip poker, but kind of awful for a group of fat people. Chub rub is real, you guys, and when most of the performers were there to shoot content, you can’t afford redness between the thighs.

The saving grace was the pool. Or, pools, really, as there were three of them. Had it not been for the pools, I think we would’ve just gone right back home. But there was something that felt like an actual vacation when I was floating on a giant donut with my girlfriend next to me. In retrospect, my favourite parts of the con were when I wasn’t doing things relating to the con. Had I just allowed myself to have a vacation, I would’ve had a much better time. I’m sure if I had been shooting, it would’ve been a much better time. But it felt like a strategy game I didn’t know the rules to.

All I wanted was fun, playful experiences with cute fat femmes. Instead, I found myself tiptoeing awkwardly between worrying about people misgendering my girlfriend, or not being sure how to take BBWs saying that they hated women, especially fat women, or navigating men trying to flirt with me. I found myself wavering. I felt incredibly thirsty, wanting to make out with someone new, to get fucked by someone cute and nice who would help me forget my ex boyfriend who didn’t want to touch me for most of our relationship. And yet I also felt sick from my cold, and suspicious, like everyone who approached me had an agenda and my best interests were not on that list. I kept getting snippets from the backchannel that made me wonder if any of the other women there even liked me. I wondered why I was even there.

I came into this weekend fully expecting to love my body, and left feeling both shriveled and bloated, like I was both a husk of who I thought I was and yet I was also taking up too much space. My boobs weren’t big enough. My body was bruised and battered from daily living. My hair was too butch, my thighs too thick, my feet too callused.

Being a BBW porn performer has taught me that as much as I fight against the idea of there being a “good” fat and a “bad” fat, those categories exist. I am bad fat. My breasts are not proportionate to my hips and ass. I don’t do feeder porn, or fetishize my fatness by weighing myself on camera - my eating disorder would have a field day with that kind of content. My belly is large, and round, and hangs over my pubic mound, so those who are into BBW porn don’t want me. Yet I am apparently too active and mobile to be considered a “good” SSBBW either. So while fans, and even other performers, might find me intriguing for my brain and my brand, I’m not exactly a hot commodity to be seen with.

Normally, that’s ok with me, but over the last couple months I’ve lost my home and my job. I’ve been left adrift, wondering about my purpose. I thought this con was going to help me reaffirm that I do have a community, and that I am desired, and worthy. I wanted to fall in love with porn again.

I found myself reaching for it, and finding that it had moved on to someone else.

***

THE AWARDS

There’s a saying that participation is its own reward, and for many things that may be true. But after two days of seeing the same ten fans, and realizing that the models were expected to make the VIPs feel like VIPs for free… I wasn’t feeling too keen on singing cum-bay-ya anymore, let’s just say.

The day of the awards, I was willing to put my discomfort aside because I wanted to have fun so badly at this point. Also, honestly, I was very excited about my outfit, an ice cream themed confection that was more lingerie than red carpet. I even allowed myself a moment of hope that I might actually win an award. It was unlikely, as very few people know who I am in the industry, but I was certain it couldn’t possibly be as corrupt as people had been saying bitterly for months.

See, the thing is, while mainstream porn has organized reviewers who judge on categories for their big events, niche porn’s awards are almost always given out by a company in the business of that niche porn. One notable exception would be the Feminist Porn Awards, which was run by a sex toy company and not a porn studio awarding almost exclusively their own work. But trans porn and BBW porn are not that lucky. I had been warned in advance that if I didn’t work for the BBW company hosting the event, then I wasn’t going to win (in fact, there were plenty of rumours that the way to a trophy was sucking someone’s dick, but I have no actual proof of that).

All of this smoke and mirrors would have been ok, frankly, if there had been more fans there. I had almost decided to cancel my appearance, but was told that there were loads of fans signing up every day, and figured at the very least it would be a good opportunity to connect with people who had never encountered my work before. But instead, I found 40 models fighting for the attention and dollars of the same, far outnumbered fans. Maybe it was a good time to be a fan, and get lots of attention, but the fans I spoke to could taste the disappointment of the models.

So I closed down my booth early. I spent hours getting ready with my friends, as we tried on dresses and did our makeup. One lovely model gave me a set of false eyelashes, which I loved so much I didn’t want to sleep so I could wear them all the time. Putting my fluffy strawberry ice cream robe on made me feel like a princess - and frankly, walking around in that outfit was a highlight of the entire weekend. I loved how magical I felt, floating to the red carpet.

The magic ended there, though.

***

The red carpet was a small scrap in front of an event backdrop. You walked onto the carpet, had some photos taken, and walked off. That was it. No media to ask questions, few fans to gush and wave. Just a brisk, professional moment with as few bells and whistles as possible, which, now that I think of it, could be an expression of the entire event. Now, sure, I know this isn’t AVN, where you parade through a sparkling casino and people are shouting at you and excited to see you. But even small awards shows gave you some props to play with, or some champagne to drink.

We got champagne glasses at our table, stamped with the logo, and nothing to put in them.

My friends and I sat down at a table which, thankfully, was not assigned. We waited for coffee to fill our mugs (never happened) or any type of alcohol (also never happened but thankfully we brought our own). We did get unsweetened iced tea, which was so memetastic as a summary for the slow trainwreck that was this event I snarked about it on Twitter.

***

Let me tell you about the buffet.

When you think about a buffet, you think about a variety of foods, right? And you think about a buffet specifically for BBWs, many of whom are known for feeder porn, you’d expect that food to be decent, yeah?

This would disappoint you to your very core.

Nothing was labeled, for a start, leading my girlfriend to almost eat pasta salad with black olives which could kill her. Cool story. There was one other variety of pasta salad, steamed and unseasoned broccoli, salmon with a creamy sauce, chicken with a creamy sauce, and some sort of casserole I didn’t dare try because I had no idea what it was. And stale rolls. That was it, our luxurious award show buffet. And for dessert, there was mousse that left a film on my tongue, and cheesecake that was still frozen. Lovely.

Waiting for champagne that never comes is pretty much the best metaphor for this entire event.

***

Honestly I was expecting the award show’s comedian to be racist, sexist and awful. He surprised me by not being all that bad for most of his set… until he started joking about weight loss. See, he had lost a significant amount of weight, and he felt that this struggle was something a room full of fat women who made money off marketing their rolls was something we could relate to/wanted to hear about.

Deep, deep breaths.

That was the last organized moment of the awards. It became clear that there was no rehearsal, and that while the presenters did the best they could, they were working with no information at all. The PR person won an award for social media personality despite having started multiple fights with models and storming off from the event itself, because “it was a fan award” (I mean, with no transparency, who knows? She might’ve just written her own name in and no one would be the wiser). The company who ran the event, unsurprisingly, won a significant number of the trophies. One woman (who is a fantastic model, mind, and a lovely person) won an award for best site, which surprised even her as her site wasn’t up at the time.

It became clear that there were vanity awards, and then there was this shitshow. We weren’t here to be honored, we were here to line the pockets of the men who already profited off us.

***

We sat in our room, grumpy in our finery, eating pot noodles and Oreos. We didn’t even know what to say to each other about what we had experienced. We felt so cheated. I, personally, felt terribly guilty, as I believed the organizer when he told me that there would be lots of fans, that there would be awesome parties, that we would feel honored and cared for. I felt like a fool and an asshole, who had wasted my money and that of other poor queers who struggled to pay rent.

One of my friends offered to set up a shoot in my cute outfit, and I agreed. Thank goodness as it’s been several weeks and still no official photos from the event have crossed my timeline. We shot a bunch of pictures, and began to unwind, laughing, doing something together that we love with people who love us. We filmed me smashing one of the logo glasses for the event, threatening the camera with it like a shank, and I began to feel a little bit less angry.

We all vowed to never do an event like this again. We deserve better than to be used as bait, for money and trophies we’ll never see. We deserve transparency on where the money gets spent, money we help earn. We deserve a board of judges who aren’t influenced by any one company, who recognize indie porn studios alongside the bigger ones. We deserve PR that is offered equally to all of us, from someone who genuinely wants to see all of us succeed and get recognition. We deserve food that fills our bellies and an environment that fills our hearts. We deserve workshops to expand our businesses, time to relax and network, and fans who honor us.

It’s hard to be a niche performer. You have to fight twice as hard to be seen, and you get twice the stigma for being a sex worker and whatever your niche is. But we’re not in the 90s anymore. This is the age of internet porn, where performers are branching out into Hollywood again, where all different bodies have a chance to be worshipped. Porn companies need to get with the times, rather than staying mired in the past, or, quite frankly, they’re going to be left behind. Maybe that’s part of the idea of these awards, is a frantic grasping as relevance in industries where the talent is learning how to do it themselves.

Well, I can tell you, it only costs $15 to have a trophy made.

***

As we drove away from Vegas, we got an alert that we were driving into a firestorm of sand and smoke.

We exchanged a glance.

I floored it.

Categories: advice, angry, awards, best of, capitalism, community, fat is fit, feminism, male privilege, mistakes were made

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The Gendered Implications of the Word “Manipulative”

1-ZUvCxdW7gSrYa1vL98bsIA“I feel like you were being manipulative,” his email read, “and I cannot tolerate that.”

He had dumped me, as far as I could tell, because I was hurt he canceled two dates in one week.We had just had a long conversation about how I needed to see more investment from him, that I needed to trust that he was in this relationship because he wanted to be. He reassured me, told me how glad he was that I felt safe talking about my feelings so openly, sent me home with a kiss and a wave.

Then he canceled two dates in a row, with plans to have his ex sleep over instead.

We had been dating for almost 9 months. Every text, every date, every time he held my hand I felt like I was deciphering some cryptic text bound tight in the worn leather of toxic masculinity. He said he loved my body, but wouldn’t touch me unless it was to tickle me, something I hated.He said he loved me, but wouldn’t introduce me to his friends. I had read this writing on the wall before and refused to believe it to my detriment, so this time, I felt exhausted.

He never asked me to read his mind, exactly, but he also didn’t offer anything up. When I asked him to tell me what was going on if there was trouble, his response would be, “I probably won’t”. I would tell him, over and over again, for months, that I didn’t want to do the emotional labour of dragging his feelings and needs out of him, but I did it anyway, because that’s what women and femmes are taught to do, because at the end of the day no amount of feminist critique shields us from the overarching expectation that women are here to nurture men. Including at their own expense. Perhaps particularly when it’s at their own expense.

Frankly, it got too expensive for me.

During our texting conversation where he pulled out on one date, then the next, I said “you know, you can just drop my stuff off at my house.” It was a declaration of defeat, an acceptance of distance that he was clearly asking for even if he never used those words. I had fought to stay with a lover the year before and it caused nothing but heartache. If this one wanted to go, and was too cowardly to straight up tell me, then I’d give him an out.

And then I was accused of being manipulative.

I’ve been accused of being manipulative before. Always by fit, white, cis men who identify as queer and almost exclusively date queer femmes. Men who almost seem like they’ve got some intersectional framework but then you realize that maybe they just went to a feminist 101 class to try and get laid.These men almost seem like allies- until you ask them to give 50%, to stop expecting you to carry the relationship on your back like a burden. They’re allies until you put your foot down and say “what you are doing is hurting me and it’s not ok”.

What kills me, and the reason I wanted to write this out, is that it’sthese men who are being manipulative.

They never see it that way, of course. They don’t see the way they play both sides of the coin, that they’re socially aware and reject toxic masculinity, but also that they’re still wrapped up in it, leaving the women who love them to make excuses for their childish and selfish behaviour. “Oh,” we rush to say, “he knows this is hurtful, but he’s still unlearning old habits.” “Oh,” we say, “it’s not him, it’s society.”

We make so many excuses for these men that when they tell us that we’re manipulating them for snapping at their ridiculous expectations for constant emotional coddling, we almost believe that we might be.

This is my third white cis man to accuse me of being manipulative for having a boundary around being their mystical manic pixie therapist mother. The third lover to accuse me of disappointing their high expectations of me because I got tired of reading their minds. The third patronizing scolding for expecting them to give back the same amount they took.

Guess what, ex boyfriend? “I cannot tolerate that” either. I cannot tolerate being called a “filly” in your “stable”, or having you refuse to touch me or even TALK to me about intimacy while showing off other women you’re fucking.

I didn’t even notice how you manipulated me all along… while making me apologize.

Categories: angry, boundaries, boys, breakups, communication, dating, fake it til you make it, gender

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To Be Invincible

1-zppHtV77cIdj29KcvR5f7QThis piece was written for Write Club SF

I wanted to be invincible, so I put my armor on.

When I was 7, it was a karate gi. My parents took me to competitions where I won silver medals, and to Model Mugging, where I learned how to defend myself against a rapist. I was a child who knew how to kill a man. I remember when my dad and I were sparring once, as we often did, and he told me to “take my best shot” — I kicked him in the balls and he dropped to the floor like a stone. I thought I had killed him. My dad, gasping from pain, gave me a thumbs up. I felt I was prepared for anything.

No one ever told me that the one most likely to hit me would be a lover.

I wanted to be invincible, so I put my armor on.

When I was 16, it was black eyeliner and combat boots. It wasn’t easy being out as queer in my school, but the Goth aesthetic kept people from bullying me too much. I wrote dark poetry and painted myself as Ophelia drowning. There were whispers I drank blood, but I think they were really afraid that I was going to be the next school shooter. I basked in being weird and untouchable, because I felt that I would be safer that way.

I didn’t realize my graduating class didn’t invite me to the reunion because they assumed I had killed myself.

I wanted to be invincible, so I put my armor on.

I was 19 when I whipped a man for money for the first time. The Head Mistress at the dungeon I worked for insisted I wear black thigh highs, black lingerie, and pumps for every session. I didn’t know how to walk in heels so I would blindfold my clients as quickly as possible, kicking them off for the rest of the session. I took on a new name, a new life. I fashioned myself into a nanocelebrity, going to the right parties, making the right friends, doing the right drugs.

There’s no corset that constrained me like my desire to be “likeable”.

I wanted to be like Xena, like Buffy, like She-Ra. They were all tough women, warriors, with fierce loyalties and fiercer fashion. They were witty, passionate, beautiful, with a core of steel. I was a wreck of feelings, told so often that I was too much, too fat, too femme, too emotional, too intense.

All I desired was to be cool and strong. Invincible.

So I hardened my heart. Because that’s how we become tough, right, we wrap our hearts in leather and steel, build ourselves a wall that even Trump would find overkill. Feelings are vulnerable, and vulnerability is death. So I hid the softest pieces of my bleeding heart deep within and locked it away. I thought I was invincible, then. Untouchable. If I was going to be put on a pedestal than goddamn I was going to build a moat around it and fill that moat with crocodiles. I put my armor on, and I welded it shut.

But pedestals topple. Crocodiles grow old, and weary. Moats dry up. We’re in a drought after all. And armor, well, armor rusts. All these wards and spells I used to shroud myself in a cloak of being “intimidating” didn’t make me stronger. It just underlined my fragility, my heart, atrophying. This type of invincibility isn’t invincible at all, it’s rigid and it drags us down like a cement brick.

Humpty Dumpty fell off her wall and nothing could put her back together, no self help book, no casual encounter on Tinder, no epiphany brought about by a drug-fuelled bender.

I was told over and over how invincible I was and it shattered me into a thousand pieces.

I have been trained, as all women have, to heal, to excuse, to forgive. And I taught myself to fossilize rather than feel, a velvet fist in an iron gauntlet. To be tender, I thought, was to be devoured alive. I walked the streets afraid, went on dates afraid, went to sleep afraid. So I became a feral cat, all hissing and scars, not letting anyone near me because to trust was to be weak.

But then I shattered. I had a breakdown. It was public, and embarrassing, and my facade was scattered to the wind.

It was then I realized destruction is an act of creation. This is something I never believed, really, until it settled into my chest and I realized I was made new every time I fell apart. So I tattooed my heart on my sleeve and I let myself be radically vulnerable. I loved, and broke up, broke down, and loved again and will continue, on and on and on, because I can — hearts are made to be broken, and made to mend. Tears become diamonds on cheeks of satin.

There is no such thing as infinity. No promises of forever. There is now. And now. And now.

Real talk- I wrote this after being dumped. He told me that he loved me and we should run off to the woods together and let’s be fluidbonded… and then he dumped me the next day via text because I asked him to wear a suit to a gala and he’d rather wear motorcycle leathers. I may have left my heart in San Francisco, but here romance is a startup and angel investors are hard to come by. Impermanence has become my bedfellow in the last few years and while the heartache is strong, I am able to cry and let go more easily now. An emotional gymnast.

I can spend my life staring across the sea wishing for his return, or I can pack up and head home. I keep the seashells from those times but let the sand fall through the cracks. I allow myself to be a piece of ocean glass, tumbled and smooth, worn down but not broken.

Now I unpick the knotwork, the neurosis I tangled around my heart because suffocation was better than breathing as long as I had control. I can breathe again, and it hurts, oh fuck it hurts. But it’s better than being dragged under by armor too heavy to carry.

People talk about “survival of the fittest”. But Darwin told us that those who survive aren’t the biggest, or the strongest, or the toughest. They’re the most adaptable. Invincibility doesn’t come from having the best weapons, or the snazziest exoskeleton. It comes from baring my belly and trusting that the world won’t rip my guts out… and that even if the world approaches, teeth bared and growling, I will get through it, and I will survive. It’s staring the complete death of my ego in the face and saying “come at me bro”.

I wanted to be invincible, so I lay my armor down, and I let you in.

Categories: best of, don't tell me how to live, fake it til you make it, femme, personal

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"It's Just Porn"... Right? A Critical Insider's Response to the Call for Inclusion at XRCO

When trans porn superstar Venus Lux posted up a petition asking forXRCO to consider wider genre inclusion in their annual awards, I signed right up. In part, sure, because as a niche performer myself (BBW), I have a cock in this fight, shall we say. In part, because I trust in Venus, who is a performer, producer, winner of multiple industry awards, and a shrewd businesswoman to boot. And in part because I love porn, and I know that it’s long past time for us to take a good, hard look at the adult industry through a social and critical lens.

I read this piece asking if the petition was a “narcissistic bark”, a fancy way of saying “is it just a cry for attention”. While yes, part of the purpose of a petition is to bring attention to an issue, to think that taking a political stance in the world of porn is a career move is absurd, particularly for a performer who already benefits from mainstream acknowledgement. As I don’t necessarily expect Elaine Costellano to understand the ins and outs of… well, the ol’ in-and-out industry,  I wanted to chime in with an alternative view.

I’ve been in the industry for 6 years now, though I mostly make queer, indie porn. I’ve been on 8 DVDs. All of them have been reviewed by only 3 people on Xcritic, because there are very, very few reviewers who take on BBW content. In fact, there are only 3, and only 2 of them review it regularly. If it wasn’t for Rob Perez, Apache Warrior and Sex Reed? I doubt I’d be nominated for 2 Biggie Awards this year, because no one would have any idea who I was. Reviews are vital for the success of porn companies and performers, but many reviewers aren’t interested in covering niche porn… or, at least, they’re not willing to cop to fapping to it.

That’s the thing. It’s not like people aren’t watching BBW porn. Ask Pornhub, who put out data specifically about the niche last year. A 47% increase in searches is nothing to sneeze at (which is good, cause you probably have other uses in mind for those tissues!) AVN recently added a BBW category to their awards. Penthouse featured a BBW for the first time ever. Places like Mic.com, Cosmo, and Bustle are talking about the niche. So why are people (men, mostly, let’s be honest) so afraid to come forward about something they’re obviously buying into?

I agree that part of the issue around recognition by these award shows is getting reviewers to speak up and show up. The main reason I started writing for Xcritic was to address that very real problem, thanks in part to Rob’s urging and Don’s support. But I realized pretty quickly I needed to take on trans porn as well, because there’s also only 3 people reviewing that, and only 2 doing it consistently.

Trans women in the porn industry have had a difficult time of it too. Even though the market has been embraced by big porn companies since the 1990s, AVN only allowed performers to accept their award on stage in 2012 after outcry from trans women. The last AVN Awards saw a gender nonconforming person kicked out of the women’s bathroom by Hard Rock security… while the trans performer of the year accepted her award on stage. The hypocrisy is real.

It’s not just the award shows, mind. I mean, North Carolina recently passed HB2, a bill banning trans people from using certain bathrooms... yet they’re also heavy consumers of trans porn. Sure, XHamster decided to declare it was banning access to the site in North Carolina because of the bill, but that feels hypocritical considering their copious use of slurs to refer to trans people (even if that’s in keeping with the industry at large). As genderqueer performer and editor of “Coming Out Like a Porn Star”, Jiz Lee,points out on Twitter, “Hey tubesites, want to actually support trans rights? Stop stealing, segregating, and slurring trans porn on your site.” More to the point, Chris Lowrence, who lives in North Carolina, pointed out that no, actually, it wasn’t blocked after all. Whoops.

Elaine asks where the sponsors come into all this. Now, I don’t feel that a company should be expected to buy in to being included in an award show- that seems pretty shady to me. That strategy is certainly a rumor I hear about niche award shows like the TEA Awards and the Biggie Awards - that if you don’t work with Grooby you’re unlikely to have a chance at the TEAs, and similarly, if you don’t work at Plumperpass you’ll likely be passed over at the Biggies. I don’t have enough data to know whether that’s based in fact or not.

I do know that as award shows have embraced different niches, performers from those niches have been more inclined to buy a booth, sign at other booths, perform, and otherwise participate in AVN. Sponsoring companies aren’t going to bother giving money to an award show that won’t even notice their performers. I believe it’s in the best interest of these award shows to demonstrate that there is a place for trans and BBW performers in order to attract that patronage.

One of the things that came up in the discussion was why have a separate category? Trans women and BBWs can be nominated for female performer of the year, after all. In response, I would look towards the ways in which racism also impacts porn award shows. While yes, Blacked.com (a site specializing in interracial porn) had 15 nominations and took home 11 of them, 5 of those identified their work as “ethnic”, “interracial” or “niche/specialty”.

The ways in which the industry has begun to recognize interracial porn as not “taboo” gives me some hope for BBW and trans porn. I feel as society shifts, so does porn, and as porn drops slurs and normalizes sexual behaviour, society is encouraged to follow suit. While I do not believe porn SHOULD be educational, I do believe we have a responsibility to acknowledge how, in a country that lacks comprehensive sex ed, porn often stands in as the first place we learn about sex. When Elaine asks how this petition could possibly be about ethics, I can only respond - when it’s about the politics of representation, especially as it pertains to sex and the workplace, how can it not be about ethics?

We need to recognize the ways in which porn legitimizes some while casting aside others, and begin to address that disparity... before anti-porn activists do it for us. Part of that means we need to be on our game, doing our research, and citing our information. Before we dismiss criticisms coming from successful members of the industry, let’s do our due diligence.

I think that it's long past time for the porn industry, from reviewers to consumers to producers to performers, to embrace the diversity of talent that has allowed it to survive and thrive over the last 10 years. Porn is no longer some secret, shady industry, but is increasingly acknowledging it is, among other things, a legit workplace. This means acknowledging *all* its workers! Just as fashion modeling is expanding with the times, so should porn. I love being a part of this industry, as a consumer and as a performer/producer, and because I love it, I want to see it evolve and continue to get better. And we all need to be in this together.

What can you do?

-Become a reviewer of niche porn at Xcritic or other spaces! You can be as real as you like in your reviews (see mine as an example) and you'll get loads of porn to watch. Whether you have a hand down your pants or you're getting your academia on, we need more reviewers.

-Pay for your porn, helping your fave companies demonstrate the desire and market for their products

-Sponsor or help sponsor smaller niche companies having a presence at award shows

-Sign (and share!) petitions about changes in the industry you support, especially when spearheaded by the performers themselves

Happy fapping!

Categories: activism, best of, community, feminism, personal, politics, porn