Friday, September 30, 2011

Pendard: Now On Facebook

I have just started a Facebook profile, Le Pendard. Please be my friend!

And for the full social networking experience, follow Pendard on Twitter too!

Thoughts on Kidder Kaper Leaving Sex Is Fun

A few years ago I got really into podcasts about sex. There was a period of time when, on a weekly basis, I was listening to Savage Lovecast, Polyamory Weekly, Kinsey Confidential, Ropecast, Mistress Matisse and Open Source Sex on nearly a regular basis, along with one of my favorite podcasts, Sex Is Fun. Then I decided I could better spend my subway commutes reading and I backed off a little, but I still tune in on a semi-regular basis.

Early week I downloaded a recent episode of Sex Is Fun where they interview Susie Bright -- you should never miss a word out of Susie's mouth, if you can help it -- and I got an unpleasant surprise: at the beginning of the interview, one of the show's four hosts, Kidder Kaper, announced that it was going to be his last interview. Then on Tuesday, Kidder explained his reasons for leaving on his farewell episode.

If you haven't listened to Sex Is Fun before, you really should. It's a fun and informative podcast. It isn't as polished a production as some podcasts. It often feels like a morning talk radio show, with all the spontaneity that comes with it. There are four hosts: Laura Rad, a sex educator and recent mom who prefers not to put too much of her personal life on the show; Coochie, a experimental, kinky girl who supplies some dry humor; Gay Rick, who provides a gay perspective and also works as a sex educator in the fight against HIV; and then there's Kidder. It's difficult to explain exactly what Kidder's role on the show is, but he's definitely the leader. His on-air personality is a well informed frat boy, rude but fun, for whom the whole subject is one big party, and who's always ready to stick a new sex toy in his butt for the sake of his loyal listeners. And if the line of duty takes him to a totally hot swingers resort on the Gulf of Mexico, it's not too much of a price to pay. In recent years Kidder written sexy party games for (I've had a couple of really fun parties with his Super Thoughts & Actions), wrote a Sex Is Fun comic book sex guide, and he's prone to daydreaming on the show about writing sex ed guides for Christian teens, or starting a sex-positive cable network. It seemed like, if any one could do it, it would be Kidder with his endless supply of enthusiasm.

Considering I'm not an all-that-regular listener anymore, I found myself getting really sad listening to him talk about how and why that endless enthusiasm has run out. I have difficulty explaining exactly why I feel that way. I can't fault him for wanting a change. My enthusiasm for writing this blog ebbs and flows and it's not a tenth of the work Sex Is Fun must be. And I certainly don't expect the guy to live up to an online persona he has cultivated. Besides, if I ever miss the sound of his voice I won't have to go far. With 295 episodes in the archive, I could listen for years before I ran out.

All the same, it's sad to see someone so unique move on. The other hosts of Sex Is Fun are great and I'm sure the show will continue to be good, but there was nobody quite like Kidder on sex podcasting and personally I'm going to miss listening to him. When I hear him talking about how the show has accomplished everything that he wanted for it and it seems like the right moment to leave, I wonder if he knows just how good he still is. His enthusiasm (which he claims has been feigned lately, but you'd never know it) is infectious. He sounds like a big kid, the kind who's impossible to be mad at even when he says something that offends you, whose eagerness to talk can overpower any inhibition. He spends a lot of his final episode praising his colleagues -- and rightly so -- but I wonder if he understands that it's his zeal that opens the door and lets Laura, Coochie and Rick's message in.

Kidder's not going away. He's still prolific on Twitter and Facebook, he and his wife Jade are writing a new blog, Kaper Life, and he promises new projects on the horizon in the farewell episode. (I'm still hoping for to see that cable network some day.) But when he says he's coming at the world from an angrier place these days, when he says he's tired of answering the same questions from people who are ignorant about sex, and when talks about confronting religion like he's fighting a war, I hope he hasn't lost the fun. I wish Kidder luck on all of his future projects. I just hope he doesn't forget to Play With It.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sex in the DC Universe Reboot

There's been a lot of talk lately about the portrayal of women in the DC Universe reboot. The controversy is centering around Catwoman, who sleeps with Batman in Catwoman #1, and Starfire, who hooks up with both of her male teammates in Red Hood and the Outlaws #1.

The objection, of course, is that these characters are not behaving like real sexually empowered women, but like male fantasies of women. Laura Hudson makes this argument very eloquently in her post at Comics Alliance. She hilariously points out (with illustrations) that we are shown two pages of Catwoman's breasts before we ever see her face, and that Starfire constantly strikes swimsuit model poses, apparently for nobody. In an article for her That's My Cape column at Newsarama, Jill Pantozzi goes farther, saying that DC's relaunch is supposed to attract new fans, but instead of trying to expand their audience to women and younger readers DC is apparently making a play for the audience they already have -- men, ages 18-35.

Here's my two cents: I think that Catwoman and Red Hood are not sexist comic books, per se -- I think they're just BAD comic books. DC has 52 new ongoing series -- some of them are good and some of them suck. These two comics are just not worth reading. Their lousy characterization of women has less to do with the fact the the writers are sexist and more to do with the fact that they're awful writers and realistic characterization is simply beyond them. Jill Pantozzi is right that these comics are unlikely to attract new young or female readers. But more to the point, they're not likely to attract any new readers at all. Because they're bad. And because readers who are not familiar with comics start with Batman and Superman, not Red Hood and the Outlaws.

It's unfortunate that these two titles have created bad publicity for the DC's new initiative, because there are plenty of good comics in the relaunch and a lot of them have very positive portrayals of female heroes. The relaunch of Wonder Woman is the only take on that character that has interested me since the original Golden Age version, which was empowering and delightfully naughty and subversive at the same time. Meanwhile, DC is starting a Batwoman series about a former US Marine who was kicked out of the Corp because she refused to dishonor herself by lying about being a lesbian. There has been some controversy about the new Batgirl series but it has all centered around the publisher's decision to heal the title character from a physical disability -- no one denies that she's a strong and realistic female character, before or after her miraculous recovery. And personally, I laughed outloud at the scene in Demon Knights that reveals that Madame Xanadu (a long-running hero in DC's lesser known magical world) is cuckolding her boyfriend Jason Blood with his alter-ego, Etrigan the Demon, because Jason is just too vanilla for her.

The first issues of the new DC titles have plenty to offer, whether you're looking for good storytelling, realistic portrayals of women, or romance and sex that won't insult your intelligence. Unfortunately, there's also Catwoman and Red Hood. You can't win 'em all.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Listen to Me and Teresa on Poly Weekly!

Well, that was fast! Cunning Minx interviewed Teresa and me about geeks and kink on Monday night, and our episode of Poly Weekly is already up. Teresa has listened to it and says it's good -- hooray! I'm going to fight hard against my natural aversion to listening to my own voice recorded, and go listen to it soon.

You can download the show through iTunes or find it here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Five Fun Links #6

1) Charming and random naughtiness from the 1950s.

2) Need a vibrator? Maggie Gyllenhaal will loan you one!

3) Abstinence explained for girls and boys!

4) Scarletjohannsoning is becoming a craze after a recent photo leak. (Both NSFW.)

5) If you're in New York, don't miss SlutWalk on Saturday, October 1!

Interview Report

The interview with Cunning Minx of Poly Weekly went pretty good. Teresa and I talked to Minx about geeks and kink, in the wake of Teresa's article on the subject, in which I was quoted. There were some technical difficulties with Skype but I think it mostly went well.

I'm dreading listening to it 'cause I hate the sound of my own voice and I think I may have droned on a little too long about Wonder Woman. But I'll definitely post a link once the show comes out. Not that you should need a link -- Poly Weekly is awesome and you should listen to it every week!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Geeks and Kink on Chinashop Mag

Stop by Chinashop Mag for a great article on the links between geeks and kink.

I'm quoted in the article at the end. The author, Teresa, contacted me for a comment just a few hours before the deadline so I dashed off a rambling, three-paragraph-long reply that wasn't very well organized, thinking she would just find the best sentence or phrase. Instead, she used what I wrote almost in its entirety, which made me wish I had taken a little more time on it. The amount that can be said on the subject of kink and geeks is enormous.

Fortunately, I'm going to have a chance to expand on my comments a little bit. Teresa is being interviewed by one of her other sources, Cunning Minx, for the Polyamory Weekly podcast, and I'm going along for the ride. Should be fun!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Five Fun Links #5

1) Men like to cuddle more than woman. I always kind of suspected...

2) NYC has a topless outdoor pulp fiction appreciation club? Books and boobs, that's the most awesome idea ever!

3) Hurricane Irene, as covered by drag queen blogger Hedda Lettuce.

4) Sex blogger Chelsea Summers comes out under her real name.

5) When asked if they'd rather give up sex or cell phones, 33 percent of people had really screwed up priorities!