Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bi Lines - Celebrating Bisexual Writers



Last night the Bi Writers Association hosted their second annual reading by bisexual authors to coincide with the Lambda Literary Awards (Lammies). Since it is a requirement of all bisexual events that the name has to be a pun, last night's reading was called Bi Lines: A Celebration of Bisexual Writing in Reading, Music and Theater. Sheela Lambert was the master of ceremonies.

There was a wide range of subject matter, including a readings by Edmund White from his new book about Arthur Rimbaud and Jenny Block from Open (reviewed here), musical performances by Rorie Kelly and Rob Barton, a slideshow of artwork from Christy Road's graphic novel Bad Habits, a bisexual Jane Austen parody by Ann Herendeen, memoirs by Bobbie Geary and Honor Moore, and Ron Suresha's thoughts on the sixtieth anniversary of the Kinsey Report. Rachel Kramer Bussel was there too (not really a surprise, she shows up everywhere) with a reading from a soon-to-be-published story about a girl getting off to her boyfriend's tale of his lust for his college roommate. The story was freakin' hot. It was nearly open insurrection in the room when the organizers cut this story short for time.

I think most people would probably agree the evening's highlight was an excerpt from Erika Kate MacDonald's one-woman show Fluid, which is about her sexuality. With the help of some hilarious visual aids Erika postulated a mathematical theorem to explain how gay a bi person is, which involved a stunning array of variables and calculations that would have boggled Isaac Newton's mind. Though the formula clearly proved she was 90 percent gay (ironically, in case you're wondering) Erika also told the story of how she fell for a guy at age 25 and had to explain to him that she'd never slept with a man before.

All in all it was a fantastic evening. I don't go to many bisexual events. I'm not bisexual (so far, but I am experimental so anything could happen) and a straight guy's motives for showing up at a bi event are rightly suspect -- so I always feel a bit like I'm the riff-raff they're trying to keep out! Last night was more a gathering of writers and I definitely felt at home in that crowd. I was very impressed with the variety of the works which transcended a narrow topic and offered a lot of insight on everything from gender roles to bi eroticism to history; and showcased the work of some very talented people.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

IML Leather Market

I spent last weekend visiting my partner Annabelle and her fiancé R. in Chicago and had a wonderful time. Last weekend in Chicago is what has been referred to a "Kinky Christmas" because both Shibari Con and International Mr. Leather are happening simultaneously. Unfortunately I didn't get to go to the first one (maybe next year) but I did spend a wonderful afternoon at the IML Leather Market which Annabelle tells me is the largest sale of kinky products in the world.

Imagine a hotel convention room full of nothing but BDSM paraphinalia -- floggers, ropes, S&M porn, hot clothing made of leather and rubber and vinyl, elaborate whipping posts, dudes getting laced up in leather body bags or trying on straitjackets -- and a whole bunch of gay men wondering around in fetish gear shopping. And then, just when you think you've been through it all you discover there's another convention room the same size with even more stuff. I woke up really early to catch my plane out there so it might have just been sleep deprivation but I was overwhelmed. I went there planning to splurge and buy some stuff but there was just so much selection I found myself making mental notes of what I might want to come back for -- and then forgetting! It was a bit like being a kid and suddenly being turned loose in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Where do you start? I did get a wooden paddle and pair of SAP gloves, basic items that I've been looking for, so it wasn't a total loss. I also tried on a vest from North Bound Leather that I really liked and found a flogger I was particularly fond of at Mr. S (couldn't find a picture or link, unfortunately). So I definitely have an idea for a souvenir I'd like to buy on my next trips to Toronto and San Francisco.

As an added bonus I ran into and got to briefly talk to Cunning Minx from the Poly Weekly podcast but didn't get to talk to her too much. Annabelle and R. know her so much better than I do that I barely have anything to add when they're together! Dan Savage was also at the Leather Market that day but I didn't see him (Annabelle might have). He wrote a great article on Slog about IML that drives home one of the reasons it's so great.

Speaking of Annabelle and R., take a moment to read Annabelle's newest article at Sexgenderbody which is about why a poly person such as her would possibly want to get married.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Prop 8 Opposition Crosses Partisan Lines?

This morning the New York Times has a very interesting article symbolizing the way that the fight for gay marriage is now crossing partisan lines.

BUSH V. GORE FOES JOIN TO FIGHT GAY MARRIAGE BAN

SAN FRANCISCO — The David and Ted show is back in business.

Eight and a half years after their epic partisan battle over the fate of the 2000 presidential election, the lawyers David Boies and Theodore B. Olson appeared on the same team on Wednesday as co-counsel in a federal lawsuit that has nothing to do with hanging chads, butterfly ballots or Electoral College votes.

Their mutual goal: overturning Proposition 8, California’s freshly affirmed ban on same-sex marriage. It is a fight that jolted many gay rights advocates — and irritated more than a few — but that Mr. Boies and Mr. Olson said was important enough to, temporarily at least, set aside their political differences.

“Ted and I, as everybody knows, have been on different sides in court on a couple of issues,” said Mr. Boies, who represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore, the contested 2000 vote count in Florida in which Mr. Olson prevailed for George W. Bush. “But this is not something that is a partisan issue. This is something that is a civil rights issue.”

I grew up around a fair number of Republicans and I understand that party's pre-Bush philosophy. While I think their individualist policies can be a tad heartless at times they hold some appeal for me. What I never got was why so many Republicans got so bent out of shape about what other people decided to do in their sex life, since that opposition seemed at odds with their fierce support of self-determination and a person's right to live their life without interference from the government. Now that the GOP has fallen on hard times I'm overjoyed to see some Republicans are reexamining their hypocrisy.

However, not everyone is so happy by this indication that Republicans are pulling their heads out of their asses. A lot of people who have been fighting the battle for gay marriage a lot longer than these two seem to think they're a couple of ambitious glory hounds trying to argue another major case before the Supreme Court and are on the verge of a colossel blunder that their more experienced comrades have been avoiding. A bit further down in the article you'll read:

Not everyone in the gay rights movement, however, was thrilled by the sudden intervention of the two limelight-grabbing but otherwise untested players in the bruising battle over Proposition 8. Some expressed confusion at the men’s motives and outright annoyance at the possibility that a loss before the Supreme Court could spoil the chances of future lawsuits on behalf of same-sex marriage.

“It’s not something that didn’t occur to us,” Matt Coles, the director of the LGBT project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said of filing a federal lawsuit. “Federal court? Wow. Never thought of that.” (...)

“We think its risky and premature,” said Jennifer C. Pizer, marriage project director for Lambda Legal in Los Angeles, adding that a loss at the Supreme Court level could take decades to undo.

The ACLU and Lambda Legal are probably two of the largest players in the fight for marriage equality and their opposition is not a good sign. I admit when I read that I had a paranoid thought -- what if this isn't two celebrity lawyer hogging the limelight. What if it's deliberate sabotage? Are Republicans that smart?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sad News, Fellow Geeks: Prop 8 Upheld

Today the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage that passed Election Day. Prop 8 was one of the few dark clouds of last November’s election. The Yes on Prop 8 campaign consisted largely of Mormons from Utah using disinformation of interfere in California politics despite the fact that getting involved in politics violates their tax exempt religious organization status and the fact that their own members have been persecuted over marriage. By spreading a lot of crazy rumors (like their claim that if Prop 8 wasn’t passed kids would be required to learn all about gay sex in kindergarten, no matter what their parents’ wishes) and, to a certain extent, preying on the homophobia of the huge black electorate that turned out toe elect Barack Obama, Mormons and other bigoted gay marriage opponents managed to pass the law.

Opponents sued on the basis that denying one minority the right to get married when everybody else can is clearly against the law. Well, apparently the Supreme Court didn’t feel like wading into civil rights issues because they upheld the ban. They did give the gay community a tiny consolation prize: the 18,000 gay couples married in California before the ban took effect will remain legally married. We can only hope the fact that so many gay people can be happily married without undermining straight marriage will change a few minds in 2010. If you look at the statistics, gay marriage has been gaining ground almost everywhere, California included, as people get over their initial knee-jerk reaction.

Closer to home (for me at least) the debate of whether gay marriage should be legalized continues. Today, the state comptroller issued a report that states the economy of the State of New York would benefit greatly from gay weddings. Something to the tune of $210 million would be pumped into the economy in the next three years by gay couples getting hitched, the government estimates. Considering how hard California has been hit by the financial crisis, maybe they should reconsider…

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stop the Presses: Late May 2009

Open Source Sex 5/7/09 (SF Chronicle): Violet Blue interviews pornstar Sasha Grey, star of the upcoming non-pornographic Steven Soderbergh film The Girlfriend Experience.

Open Source Sex 5/14/09 (SF Chronicle): Violet Blue interviews the founder of Carnal San Francisco, a new website with sex-positive material and comprehensive listings of San Francisco sex events.

Savage Love 5/21/09 (The Stranger): Dan Savage lets a bar full of drunk Slog readers answer letters for him this week, with hilarious results. Thus it is once and for all proven that you should ignore the opinion of anyone who comments on Slog.

Control Tower 5/19/09 (The Stranger): Mistress Matisse interviews sex workers who service couples.

Kink Reality vs. Kink Fantasy: Annabelle River reflects on the role of fantasy in making kinky sex hot.

Friday, May 22, 2009

In the Flesh 5/21/09



Last night found me and one of my friends on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in a bar named, quite appropriately, Happy Ending. The occasion was Rachel Kramer Bussel's monthly In the Flesh reading, where writers of erotica and other sexy writing come together to read their work. Bussel, a prolific erotica writer who also edits Penthouse Variations and numerous books such as Spanked and the Best Sex Writing anthology, has been hosting this event for several years and it's apparently a great success. The bar was standing room only.

The first reader was Anna David. She read from Bought, her second novel, about a naïve journalist who is investigating the world of high-end LA escorts. The scene we got to hear was about the journalist meeting a call girl she is destined to befriend and being shocked by the tale of her relationship with a powerful, married film producer.

Robin Glasser read next from her book My Life as a Concubine. This turned out to be a rather Henry Miller-like book, a memoir of the author's bohemian life in Paris. In the section we were lucky enough to hear, the author's hot sex with her boyfriend is made even hotter because he is arguing with his visiting brother through the closed door -- a "verbal ménage à trois."

Mara Altman graced us with an excerpt from The Quest for My Orgasm, a sex scene described in some of the funniest, wittiest terms I've ever heard. Altman was particularly good at capturing the humor in sex, one of the most delicious parts of the whole experience and one of the most often ignored.

After the break Craig Yoe graced us with a slide show from his book Secret Identity, about Superman creator Joe Shuster's second career illustrating kinky pulp stories. I read and reviewed Secret Identity a few months ago. Yoe's goofy sense of humor doesn't come across in the book, so I was happy to see him read in real life.

Jeremy Edwards read next from Oysters and Chocolate, a story about a man whose fantasies about a coworker who doesn't know he exists finally come true.

The last reader Suzanne Guillett read an untitled memoir of "a very memorable summer that happened a few years back." Recently engaged and on a month-long writer's retreat in Prague, the author joined a gym and studied boxing with a Czech man. The piece is the story of how she fell in love with him through boxing lessons, the only kind of touch their situation allowed.

If you're not lucky enough to live in New York and can't attend the readings yourself, never fear: RKB posts video clips of the readings on You Tube. As of this writing the videos from last night aren't up yet but there's a wide variety of other videos there, so eat your heart out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Annabelle River

This is a long overdue post to let everyone know that my partner Annabelle River has been writing some fantastic articles for the newly launched website Sexgenderbody.

So far her articles have been about finding your local BDSM scene, puppy play, the lack of good polyamorus writers and the important distinction between reality and fantasy in BDSM.

Needless to say I'm extremely proud of her for doing such wonderful work right out of the gate -- a sure sign of more great things to come, without a doubt.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sex in the Media


Study: Children Exposed To Pornography May Expect Sex To Be Enjoyable

Susie Bright reposted this Onion video on her blog about a month ago. I missed it. Fortunately that's why I have friends who send me stuff! Not safe for work for five seconds at the beginning, then fine with headphones.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Geeky Sex Material: What Gets Posted and What Doesn't

A friend of mine recently sent me an article she thought I’d want to post on this blog. It was a review of the book by Laura Sessions Stepp called Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both. My friend thought I might want to review the book or link to the article in a "Stop the Presses" post. I explained to my friend that wasn’t the kind of thing I post about on this blog. Then I tried to express what my criteria are for something deserving a link or a review on this blog but all I could come up with was the phrase Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart used to define porn: “I know it when I see it.”

So today I’m going to get to the bottom of what is Geeky Sex blog material and what isn’t. First of all I do know it when I see it. I can instantly tell if something belongs here or not. I started this blog to be a resource for people who approached sex in a geeky way—that is to say, people who are open-minded, curious and enthusiastic about this subject. All too often when people talk about sex they focus on its negative aspects. Christian evangelicals tell you you’ll burn in hell and the nice people who work at Planned Parenthood (bless each and every one of them) can't come back with anything better than alarming facts and statistics about unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, date rape and abortion. One side says “Sex is a sin!” and the other side yells, “No, it’s not, it’s just a disease!”

The sex geeks out there—the people who are approaching this subject from the perspective that “sex is nice and pleasure is good for you,” as the authors of The Ethical Slut are fond of saying—are fighting a lonely battle. This blog was intended to help them out by helping people find them. I don’t presume to pass myself off as an authority on this subject. I’m just like the people who are (hopefully) reading this blog: I look hard for positive and fun sex information and I like to share it when I find it. Some people will object that sex really does have negative consequences and I’m being irresponsible by not acknowledging them more. Well, everybody and their uncle, and their uncle’s Christian Taliban son are out there "acknowledging" the negative consequences of sex as loud as they possibly can, so I’ll just take that for rote and focus on something positive, if it’s all the same.

Why would I never review a book called Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both? Because, upon perusal of the review my friend sent me (and yes, I read articles that I don’t turn around and repost here, probably around 70 percent of the articles I read are disappointing enough that I never share them), I detect that the author might be writing from a sex-negative bias. The book is about a trend that the author perceives in which young women in college are less interested in long term relationships and more concerned with “hook-ups”—by which the author means short-term casual relationships without the expectation of love. An honest researcher would need to substantiate that this trend actually exists. The fact that young women today are more open about sex and more willing to admit that they are interested in sex without love doesn't mean their behavior has changed from previous generations. The honest researcher would then need to examine the trend without bias. Is it possibly a good thing that women in the 18-22 age range are postponing serious relationships to focus on their educations and careers? Could their negative feelings about love be a result of being disabused of the unrealistic expectations our society instills in young women? Years of research would be needed to answer these questions. It’s much easier to title your book Unhooked, implying your feeling that the behavior of these young women is not sane, then follow it up with How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Fail at Both, implying the young women of previous generations were totally successful at love and sex but because of this new lifestyle they have begun to fail. It may have no basis in reality but that’s a recipe for selling a million copies in supermarket check-out lanes across America.

It’s also a recipe for never getting mentioned on the Geeky Sex blog (on any day but today). Why don’t I simply read the book and review it badly? Because I don't get paid for this and I have better things to do with my time than read a book that I know I’m going to hate just so I can tell my blog’s small audience how much I hate it. I know, it’s a time honored tradition for bloggers to do that. I’m untraditional. Also—and this is more the point of the post—you don’t need my help to find a negative book about sex. Pick one at random, and the odds are in your favor. I don’t have time to read every negative book about sex. Sadly, I might have time to read every positive book about sex, ’cause there just aren’t that many of them.

So, by all means, continue to send me articles. I find them fascinating (including the one about this book that my friend sent me). But when it comes to Geeky Sex material—I know it when I see it.

Gay Marriage Passes NY State Assembly

I feel proud today. My home state just took the first step towards marriage equality and even a few Republicans backed the law. The measure, which just passed in the State Assembly, was initiated by the governor so his support is certain but there is going to be stiff resistance in the State Senate.

Read all about it in the New York Times.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

McCain's Daughter Defies the GOP Over Birth Control

Last week in her Daily Beast article "The GOP Doesn't Understand Sex" Meghan McCain, daughter John McCain, took a stand against the Republican abstinence-only approach to sex education and endorsed the use of birth control. She particularly took aim at Bristol Palin, the daughter of her father's former running mate, who with masochistic self-sacrifice to her mother's political ambitions has taken up the abstinence-only cause despite being living proof that it doesn't work.

Meghan McCain writes:
(...) the American public and media remain overly engrossed in our politicians’ sex lives and, as in this case, those of their families. There’s an especially unhealthy attitude among conservatives. Daughters of Republican politicians aren’t expected to have sex, let alone enjoy it—as if there were some strange chastity belt automatically attached to us female offspring. God forbid anyone talk realistically about life experiences and natural, sexual instincts. Nope, the answer is always abstinence. (...)

Here’s what I’ve never understood about the party: its resistance to discussing better access to birth control. As a Republican, I am pro-life. But using birth control and having an abortion are not the same at all. Actually, the best way to prevent abortions is to educate people about birth control and make it widely and easily accessible. True, abstinence is the only way to fully prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Still, the problem with abstinence-only education is that it does not make teenagers and young adults more knowledgeable about all the issues they face if or when they have sex—physically and emotionally.

The key, honestly, is communication between parents and children. At the end of the day, the worst thing parents can do is raise children who are not prepared for the situations they may encounter, especially when they’re not planned. (For anyone who remembers their teen years, you know what I mean.) Unfortunately, Republicans typically don’t like to discuss or deal with things they think are wrong or immoral. And that’s a huge mistake. If we can’t discuss birth control in addition to abstinence, and in a nonjudgmental way, kids will continue to make bad choices for lack of having access to informed, safe options. Not everyone shares the same beliefs, and more importantly, people don’t always react the same way to their circumstances. Which is why it is so important to encourage honest, open communication about the realities of sex within the party at large, and more specifically, between parents and their children.


The entire article is well worth reading. Also worth reading: Susie Bright's response to Meghan McCain on Bright's blog.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Top 5 Star Trek Sex Episodes

As Star Trek makes its triumphant return to theaters all over the world after four years of oblivion, I'm rounding off my Star Trek related posts with a look back at some of the show's sexiest episodes.

5. "Amok Time"

In the imagination of some Trekkies, it's not too far from this:

to this:


But even without homoerotic overtones "Amok Time" is pretty sexy! Once every seven years Vulcans are have to return to their home planet to get it on! So great is the desire that Vulcans will die if they don't score. In this episode Spock goes so mad with passion that he doesn't balk at a fight to the death with his best friend Kirk when his beloved's machinations cast Kirk in the role of Spock's rival.

4. "The Perfect Mate"



This episode proves it is possible to be startlingly hot without showing much skin! Famke Janssen (who later played Bond girl Xenia Onatopp and Jean Grey in X-Men) plays an alien woman who has been born and raised to be the perfect male fantasy. Aboard the Enterprise as a gift meant to end a war, her pheromones arouse everyone around her and her telepathy allows her to become exactly what they want -- the perfect flirt. But things go wrong when she forsakes the man she's supposed to marry and falls in love with Captain Picard!

3. "The Cage"



The official story is that this first attempt at a Star Trek pilot was rejected by the network because it was "too cerebral" for your average TV viewer. Somehow I doubt that was the real reason.

In this episode aliens kidnap the captain of the Enterprise (played by Jeffrey Hunter in those pre-Shatner days) and use their power of illusion to try to get him to mate and breed a race of slaves. The aliens run the gambit of our hero's sexual fantasies to do it, culminating with one of the most famous scenes in Star Trek -- a strip tease by a green Orion slave girl who "actually likes being taken advantage of." Too cerebral, my ass! There's no way this would ever be shown on 1960s television!

2. "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places"



Groups for young BDSM enthusiasts are often called "The Next Generation" or "TNG." Is the link to Star Trek a coincidence? Definitely not.

Klingons like pain. They jab each other with cattle prods for fun. So when Worf tries to teach the Ferengi bartender Quark how to put the moves on a Klingon woman some kinky sex is definitely on the menu. But while Worf is playing wingman, his bombshell friend Jadzia Dax decides to seduce him! The episode ends with both couples happily in the hospital... and "the next generation" of kinky teens was born!

1. "The Outcast"



In its later years Star Trek rightly got a lot of criticism for never having a gay character. But in 1992 it took what, at the time, was a pretty courageous stand for gay rights.

The Enterprise visits a planet of asexual aliens, a small minority of whom identify as male or female. One of the female-identified aliens falls in love with Commander Riker but when their relationship is discovered her people threaten to subject her to ex-gay brainwashing. The episode also contains one of the only pop culture examples of a polyamory negotiation I can think of, as Will Riker tells his sometimes-lover Deanna Troi about his new love.

Using the asexual allegory, Star Trek made the heterosexual love its viewers regarded as normal into the forbidden love. Even a homophobic viewer had to support the alien Soren in this impassioned scene, and examine their assumptions about homosexuality in the process:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Podcast Round-up: Recent History

Swingercast, ep. 63 and Sex is Fun, ep. 174: This week both Swingercast and Sex is Fun are reporting on the fun and hijinks at the Swingercast's group excursion to the Desire Resort in Cancún, a resort Kidder refers to as "the sexiest place on Earth." I was seriously green with envy hearing about their vacation. And if you want to hear the dirty stories (you do!) listen to Kidder and Jade in BathTalk Weekly 4/13/09, BathTalk Weekly 4/15/09, BathTalk Weekly 4/22/09, and BathTalk Weekly 5/7/09

Savage Lovecast, ep. 133: In this week's Lovecast the emphasis is on the savage 'cause Dan apparently left the empathy at home. However Tristan Taormino drops by to cheer him up and discuss polyamory with one caller planning to open her relationship.

Sex is Fun, ep. 172 and 173: Kidder, Laura, Coochie and Gay Rick discuss sex addiction with clinical social worker Jim Stoltz. Our beloved hosts are obviously kind of resistant to the whole idea, since the term is frequently thrown around in a sex negative context. However Stoltz's expertise and patient explanation quickly win them over to the idea that it is possible to have too much sex, and a fascinating discussion follows. The second part is here.

Polyamory Weekly, ep. 202 and 203: In her past two episodes Cunning Minx has brought us a lecture by Oberon Zell about the history of polyamory, including his own thirty year experience in the lifestyle. The second part is here.

KIRK + SPOCK 4EVER!



As long as I'm sharing funny Star Trek sex videos this one caught my eye at the Revolving Door Commune Blog. It's pretty funny but its basis -- eroticism between Captain Kirk and his loyal sidekick Mr. Spock -- is hardly original.

As an interesting article in this week's Newsweek points out, Kirk and Spock are one of the oldest and most popular subjects of slash fanfic. It isn't difficult to see why. Kirk is such a philandering ladies' man that at times one suspects overcompensation. Meanwhile Spock, as a half-human trying to live a Vulcan's emotionless lifestyle, is filled with shame over his repressed feelings -- "Jim, when I feel friendship for you I feel ashamed," he tells Kirk in "The Naked Time." These totally repressed feelings come bursting out once ever seven years during the Vulcan mating cycle when Spock is driven -- compelled -- to mate. Violently and with abandon, we can easily imagine from episodes like "Amok Time," "Blood Fever" and "Bounty."

With all this, a person can't be blamed for imagining Kirk and Spock in a gay relationship -- going where no man has gone before, as it were. (Yeah, I did.) Slash fanfic writers have been pairing the two in fanzines or on the Internet for years. Check out Farfalla's Kirk/Spock Happyplace for more than a hundred examples of their work. If that doesn't satisfy you the Star Trek Slash Ring probably has what you need in English or German. These stories are written mainly by and for hetero women and the stories seem intended more to amuse than to actually be titillating (though I could be wrong, who knows).

Even Gene Roddenberry weighed in on a Kirk-Spock romance. In a footnote to his 1979 novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the creator of Star Trek wrote:
The human concept of friend is most nearly duplicated in Vulcan thought by the term t'hy'la, which can also mean brother or lover. Spock (...) did indeed consider Kirk to have become his brother. However, because t'hy'la can be used to mean lover, and since Kirk's and Spock's friendship was unusually close, this has led to some speculation over whether they had actually indeed become lovers. At our request, Admiral Kirk supplied the following comment on this subject:

"I was never aware of this lovers rumor, although I have been told that Spock encountered it several times. Apparently he had always dismissed it with his characteristic lifting of his right eyebrow which usually connoted some combination of surprise, disbelief, and/or annoyance. As for myself, although I have no moral or other objections to physical love in any of its many Earthly, alien, and mixed forms, I have always found my best gratification in that creature woman. Also, I would dislike being thought of as so foolish that I would select a love partner who came into sexual heat only once every seven years."

Needless to say, Roddenberry's denial didn't close the issue.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gay Marriage Legalized in Maine!

Yesterday the Maine Legislature passed a law legalizing gay marriage in their state. This morning the governor signed the bill! Gay marriage is legal in Maine. However, citizens have the right to challenge laws in Maine (the "people's veto"). If opponents can get 55,000 signatures there will be a referendum this fall. No one can get married until then.

Star Trek Opens Tomorrow

In honor of the new Star Trek movie coming out today, I'm embedding this humorous video. If you've ever sat through Star Trek: The Motion Picture (most of which involves the crew staring in wonder at the magnificent alien creature on the viewscreen while the whole audience stares at their wristwatches) this is going to be particularly satisfying.




Safe for work, as long as you use headphones!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Stacks - The Ethical Slut

The Ethical Slut, 1st ed.
by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt
Greenery Press, 1997

This is it -- the original polyamory manifesto, the old stand-by for college students looking to sow some wild oats, aging hippies holding on to free love... and, of course, the rest of us. In a single volume Dossie Easton and her writing partner Janet Hardy (writing under a pen name here) lay out the case for having multiple relationships concurrently with the full knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

The Ethical Slut was a truly groundbreaking book. It came out at a time when the idea that a person could practice nonmonogamy openly and with the full consent of everyone involved was a revolutionary one. Very few people had proposed that jealousy is a cultural construct that can be fought, dealt with and overcome rather than a bred-in-the-bone instinct against which we were completely powerless. It was the dawn of the Religious Right, so Easton and Hardy were certainly bucking the trend by suggesting that sex is fun and pleasure is good for you.

The book had some faults that later books like Tristan Taormino's Opening Up would improve upon. Easton and Hardy were focused primarily on what Taormino would later term "partnered nonmonogamy" (where each person has one primary partner, plus a few secondary partners) and more or less neglected other kinds of polyamory. Their research was limited mainly to their own experiences and those of their friends, and so the book left some doubt that nonmonogamy could be successfully implemented outside of San Francisco aging-hippie circles. But despite these shortcomings and a multitude of other books that tried to do better (with occasional success) The Ethical Slut remained the gold standard in polyamory guides for more than a decade.


The Ethical Slut, 2nd ed.
by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy
Celestial Arts, 2009

This past March, Easton and Hardy (now fully out of the closet and publishing under her real name) finally returned to give their most famous book an update. You're probably asking, "Should I bother reading the second edition if I've already read the first one?" I think the answer is probably yes.

Twelve years ago The Ethical Slut was doing something that was totally unheard of -- presenting ethical polyamory with all the attendant consent and communication as an alternative to lifelong monogamy. This absolutely revolutionary proposition required the book's authors to set up a dichotomy between monogamy and polyamory, examining the underlying assumptions of a monogamous culture. Well, times have changed. In the last twelve years open relationships have gone from being the subject of shame, scandal and intense secrecy to the subject of popular TV shows. A few years after the first edition came out in 1997 people widely began to speculate that Bill and Hillary Clinton might have an open relationship and the visibility of nonmonogamy only increased from there.

There's no need for The Ethical Slut to be a polyamory manifesto anymore. The idea is in the zeitgeist already. At times, reading the second edition, I missed the old, proselytising Slut with its blatant and sometimes slightly outrageous challenges to conventional relationships. But when I feel a sense of loss I have to stop and admit that it's probably a good thing that Easton and Hardy have stopped trying to pass themselves off as sociological experts by floating complicated theories about monogamy's supposed roots in outdated agrarian cultures. The Ethical Slut has given up this type of missionary work to finally become what it was intended to be all along -- a relationship book.

The new edition is a longer read and it's been edited so it focuses more purely on relationship styles. Passages of the old book that presented polyamory as a challenge to monogamous values have been cut or placed in a context that deemphasizes them. In their place Easton and Hardy have supplied even more wise suggestions for communicating with your partners as well as exercises that can be done alone to gain insight into oneself or as a couple to build intimacy.

The second edition builds admirably on the shortcomings of the first but doesn't overcome them completely. In 1997, Easton and Hardy's expertise on polyamory seemed to come with a lot of speculation and optimism. Now after twelve years as polyamory experts they've encountered enough poly people to speak with real authority. However the focus remains limited to San Francisco -- readers who are put off by talk of hippie ideas like tantric sex had best read Jenny Block's Open instead. While the book remains focused on partnered nonmonogamy the chapters on solo polyamory and group arrangements are more prominent.

My overall impression of the second edition is that The Ethical Slut has grown up. The book, like its authors and readers, seems to have gained experience and become a little wiser with the years. This book is no longer a polemic. It's just a guide to the hard work necessary to live a polyamorous lifestyle.

Stop the Presses - Gray Lady Edition

Some interesting stories on the New York Times website today.

Teenagers Get Sex Education Information Via Cellphone: Jan Hoffman writes about The Birds and the Bees Text Line, a North Carolina service. Teens text questions about sex and receive a short, accurate, non-judgemental reply within the day.

In the Barracks, Out of the Closet: The Times gets a variety of opinions on legalizing openly gay people serving in the military.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hedda Lettuce Is Poly!



We crazy polyamorists love it when we can claim a celebrity -- what sexual minority doesn't? Poly NYC just sent out a mass e-mail because NYC drag queen Hedda Lettuce (the most environmentally friendly drag queen, or so I've heard) just came out as polyamorous on her blog.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Kink.com Under (Lame) Attack



There's been a bit of a controversy out in San Francisco during the last week. It started on April 22 when a local alternative weekly paper, the San Francisco Weekly, published an article by Matt Smith called "Bound and Gagged." Smith, it seems, had discovered that a city program to train workers in multimedia was being used by employees of Kink.com, the world's leading fetish porn website. Smith quickly reported this to the government of San Francisco which denied Kink.com access to its services.

Smith writes:
Talk about an economic stimulus. California taxpayers have paid $46,791 so that employees of the San Francisco pornographer Kink.com might produce more perfect web-based depictions of motorized dildo impalements on www.fuckingmachines.com; do a better job displaying women as they're bound, gagged, and repeatedly electrically shocked on www.wiredpussy.com; and more effectively transmit images of, well, people doing pretty much what you'd imagine they'd be doing on www.whippedass.com.

That's right: California's government has been subsidizing torture-based pornography. The subsidy has been routed through the California Employment Training Panel (ETP), an agency set up to make state businesses more competitive with foreign and out-of-state ones by paying contractors who train in-state workers. (...)

Sadly, this story doesn't have a happy ending, at least from a porn industry perspective.

After I submitted a state public records request to find out how much money Californians had been paying to train workers of Cybernet Entertainment LLC — Kink.com's formally registered business name — I received a letter from ETP general counsel Maureen Reilly, who said the government had been unaware that Cybernet was in the business of narrowcasting videos depicting sexualized torture.

Well, Kink.com isn't quite the monster that the Weekly claims in their sensationalist article. Its policies to protect its workers' safety put most other porn websites to shame. Performers always practice safer sex, which is neglected by many production companies. Like all good BDSM scenes, the scenes in Kink.com videos are the result of negotiation with the submissive. These negotiations, along with a post scene check-in with the submissive, are video taped and included on the site to dispell the illusion that actual violence is occuring. For a first hand account of what it is like to work at Kink.com, I highly recommend a truly fantastic 2007 article in the New York Times Magazine or a recent episode of The Ropecast in which Gray Dancer describes a week he spend directing and rigging rope bondage for videos there, or

The reaction to Smith's article was immediate, strong, and probably not what the San Francisco Weekly expected. San Francisco is, after all, a pretty sexually liberated place! Posters are appearing in the Castro calling for a boycott of the Weekly. Tee shirts with the logo at the top of the post are on sale here.

Some of the responses that have been popping up in the sex-positive press.

San Francisco sex writer Violet Blue responded to Smith in her weekly Open Source Sex column in the San Francisco Chronicle:
So we've learned, according to Smith's terminology, sexual penetrations at Kink are "impalements." Women who work at Kink (who incidentally script their own scenes) are "bound, gagged, and repeatedly electrically shocked." To him, Kink makes "torture-based pornography." He states that Kink is "(...) in the business of narrowcasting videos depicting sexualized torture." Smith entices us to believe that what performer Lorelei Lee does is "something women would rather not do, but they feel they have to."

Lee tells me that her job at Kink represents, "The respectful, consensual, pre-negotiated, intimate, and often-joyful interaction that is BDSM. Every staff member at Kink.com, from the talent department to the directors to the production assistants has been trained by the company to make the health and safety of their models a top priority. This policy of prioritizing worker health and safety is in obvious contrast to many other big employers in California. Further, I find Mr. Smith's implication that I, as a model and porn performer, have been coerced, victimized, or exploited by my job to be profoundly degrading and insulting. To imply that I have not exercised the same autonomous judgment as anyone else has in choosing a career, is to completely dismiss my will, intelligence and rational capability."

In the Huffington Post, Stephen Elliot writes:
The article is heavily anti-porn, and anti-BDSM, focusing on women being dominated, avoiding mentioning Men In Pain, a kink.com site with women dominating men, or TS Seduction, where men are dominated by transexuals.

Gay lifestyle site The Sword writes:
Watch out, Jessie Helms -- someone younger and hungrier is about to push you down the stairs! SF Weekly writer Matt Smith has he's gotten porn site Kink.com banned from a California-subsidized program that trains Bay Area video professionals because the site is "medieval" and grosses him out. (...)

While we're at it, we should probably also take away Kink employees' rights to unemployment benefits and healthcare protection. Because it's not like they are a legally recognized entity in California, and it's not like they pay payroll taxes or anything. Oh, wait--they are and they do. But it doesn't matter when you're a second-rate city paper trying to sell pitchforks and torches.

San Francisco Bay Guardian:
Kink.com is a legitimate, legal San Francisco business that employs 100 people, treats them and pays them well, has transformed a wasteland of an empty building into a going concern ... and I think it's great that the people who work there (who also happen to be part of the film and media industry in San Francisco) got to use a state job-training program.

SFist:
SF Weekly's Matt Smith has written an indictment this week against S&M porn producers Kink.com for being able to send their video editors to state-funded classes at the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC). Why? Because kinky shit grosses him out and he feels taxpayers shouldn't be funding the training of Kink's workers, despite their being employees of a legitimate, taxpaying California business. (...)

Smith even goes so far as to invoke the 1998 Supreme Court case National Endowment for the Arts vs. Finley, which stemmed from the late 80s conservative brouhaha over "obscenity" in NEA-funded artworks started by one Jessie Helms. That's a hellava model to follow, Matt!

Stop the Presses: Week of 4/25/09

How Male Bisexuality Got Cool (Daily Beast): Rachel Kramer Bussel writes about how homoeroticism has become a fad from straight guys, from Internet media moguls to movie stars. Are the late 2000s going to be for bi guys what the early '90s were for bi gals, she asks?

Open Source Sex - "Bye Bye Bisexual" (SF Chronicle): Violet Blue is also writing about the recent bisexuality trend -- specifically the fact that everybody is trying to be bi these days, but not everybody believes bisexuals really exist. Violet explores some of the difficulties of really, truly being bi.

Savage Love 4/30/09 (The Stranger): Dan coins the term "leotarded" and gets a lot of use out of it as he counsels a girl who is upset by her boyfriend's porn habit and slaps some sense into a boy who is considering breaking up for no good reason. He also catagorically refuses ever to use Twitter.

Control Tower 4/23/09 (The Stranger): Following a rare visit to a swingers club, Matisse reflects on the different etiquette and mores of swinging and BDSM clubs.

A Sex Worker's Guide to Craigslist (Daily Beast): Author and former sex worker Tracy Quan explores the world of prostitution on Craigslist and outlines why it isn't necessarily as dangerous and all the recent Craigslist Killer media coverage is suggesting.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Not on Green Porno



Isabella Rossolini apparently skipped this species when she made her insect sex web series Green Porno.
A violent but evolutionarily effective mating strategy has been spotted in spiders from Israel.

Males of the aptly-named Harpactea sadistica species pierce the abdomen of females, fertilising their eggs directly in the ovaries.

The so-called traumatic insemination gives the first male to inseminate a reproductive advantage by bypassing structures in the females' genitalia. (...)

Typically, spider males deliver their genetic package via sperm that is deposited into a small web and manually inserted using a pair of appendages on their undersides known as pedipalps.

The sperm are then held in a receptacle between the ovipore and ovary known as a spermatheca until an egg is released.

However, the spermatheca is a "last in, first out" structure, so that if any further males inseminate a female, the last mate's sperm is the first in line to fertilise an egg.
Read the entire story on the BBC website.

Via Slog.