Archive for May, 2007

four-dimensional gender (theory du jour)
May 31, 2007

“Perhaps gender happens between bodies, not within them.” – Indra Windh (with Del LaGrace Volcano), “GenderFusion”

***

Such a simple thought with so many complex ramifications.

I read that quote today in another essay from Queer Theory, which continues to be a wonderful read, though I’m currently attacking a Judith Butler piece in which she predictably takes seventeen words to say things that could have been said in four. But I digress.

I remember the exact moment I went from tomboy to femme. It was when I attended my first queer women’s event – a weekend up North with Tip of the Tongue, the queer women’s group I joined when I was first coming out and which I ended up running for almost seven years. (Gah. What a thought. I feel old.)

Seriously – I walked in, and my gender flipped instantly. No, I didn’t change clothes; no, I didn’t adopt new mannerisms. I just appeared in a new context.

The prior context included my mainly straight crowd of friends, and the gym I mentioned in a recent post. Within that context, I was the boyish one. I had long hair, but I didn’t perm it or dye it or style it. I wore high heels and lipstick, but I didn’t wear foundation or mascara or lipliner or blusher or eye shadow or eyeliner. I painted my nails, but I didn’t get a French gel manicure every two weeks. I dated guys, but I didn’t want to marry one and buy a house and have babies and put up with sexist behaviour and please my parents. I swore. I talked about sex. I had sex in ways that were not strictly missionary position. I liked being on top, even if sometimes that meant letting someone think they were. I lifted weights. I left home at 18 and moved in with a friend, instead of waiting to get married and move in with a husband. And so on, and so forth. I was a tomboy. Sure, I happened to pull off a reasonable facsimile of femininity most of the time, but I was nowhere near as good at it, or genuinely invested in it, as most of the women I knew.

Then I met 35 lesbians in a cabin in the woods. And I had long hair and lipstick (not so much the high heels that weekend; practicality has its merits after all) and nail polish, and I liked masculine gals. What did that make me? Femme, of course!

It was kind of baffling, really. All of a sudden girls were opening doors for me and stuff. They liked that I had shaved my legs. They wanted to drive me places and carry my things and take me on motorcycle rides and watch me put on my lipstick, as though it were an erotic mystery written in a foreign language. It was… weird, man. Just plain bizarre.

Of course it was also pretty nice. It felt fun to play with these things – things that sometimes felt irritating to me when men did them, but that in this case felt more… I dunno… egalitarian. We were engaging in a wink to heterosexual behaviour patterns, queering the equation, playing with the erotic codes of a sex pairing not ours, imitating but not duplicating, dancing in steps that were not meant for us. I kissed a cute boyish dyke that weekend – or maybe she kissed me – but neither of us were stuck in a particular role that dictated who got to touch whom how and when and with what degree of insistence. It just flowed. It was transgressive, ironic, delicious. It was queer.

As time went by, I discovered a deeper understanding of my own experience and definition of my gender. Yes, I have a gender (a fluid, multifaceted one) independently of my relationships with other people, and it expresses itself through my body in thousands of tiny ways. Just to take two examples, conveniently located fairly far apart on the “spectrum”: one day a couple of weeks ago, I was feeling kind of yuppie boyish, semi-casual but a little dapper, so I wore a shirt and tie and a sweater vest and jeans and combat boots. A couple of days later, it was hot out and I was feeling pretty and languid, so I wore a tank top and skirt and heels and touch of lipstick. Simple, ya?

It would be simple if this happened only in the privacy of my home – a single point. (And even then.) But the next dimension, the line, is about how others perceive the gender signals that I feel to be congruent with who I am on a given day. And that’s not simple at all.

In a tie and a sweater vest and jeans and combat boots, I’m soft butch (to my dyke friends), a gender ally (to my trans friends), a mannish dyke to be sneered at or ignored (to straight folks, aside from the occasional dude who gets a little thrill out of the tie), and a stubbornly contrary feminine daughter who insists on dressing to raise eyebrows like all those lesbians she’s friends with (to my parents). In a tank top and skirt and heels and lipstick, I’m femme (to my dyke friends), potentially campy depending on my behaviour (to my trans friends), straight with too many piercings but whatever maybe she’s adventurous in bed so let’s catcall her (to straight folks, the latter piece to the men), and that’s a little dressy for dinner but you look lovely darling, and why didn’t you bring your boyfriend oh never mind he has blue hair and lives in San Francisco and has three other girlfriends (to my parents).

But it doesn’t end there, oh no sirree. Here comes dimension number three, in which we square things.

Because it is also true that much of that gender is played out not in my embodied and performative self as I am perceived walk down the street, but in the way that embodied and performative (okay, Judith, I don’t always hate you) self interacts with other embodied, performative people out there. In addition to my own understanding of my gender, gender happens when someone is attracted to me, or vice versa, or preferably both at once. Gender happens when someone is gallant or graceful. It happens when someone sizes me up depending on my clothing, my body language, my voice, my gait, my speech, and decides how to treat me as a result. Gender happens in that space between us – in what we each see and what we decide to do about it, and most importantly, why.

This space is where I eventually discovered the limits of butch/femme. Oh, it still holds a deep appeal for me – I just need the freedom to move in and out of it as it suits me, unsurprisingly. (Don’t get me started on my encounters with butch dyke sexism.)

Sometimes I want to be the curvy gal in the halter top straddling the back of a hot dyke’s motorcycle. But sometimes I want to be a fag with my lovers, pink bits irrelevant – whether we’re two female-bodied guys, or one plus one male- or trans-bodied one. Sometimes I want to be high femme, and play the gentleman while I’m at it, hold the door for my date in my dresses and heels. Sometimes I want to be relatively neutral. Sometimes I want my partner to be femme, regardless of my own gender that day; I want to tell them they’re pretty, stroke their smooth skin. Sometimes I’m like a teenage boy, stammering when confronted with the powerful pull of dangerous curves and sharp shoes and chiselled cheekbones. Butch/femme is still strongly erotic, but so are many other gendered dynamics – and being stuck in just one of them feels maddeningly restrictive. This is about my own gender, but now it’s also about how I choose to experience my gender in relation to others.

And it doesn’t end there, either. We’ve got the first three dimensions of our gender – 1) alone, 2) alone and perceived by others, and 3) in relation to one another. But now we get to the really fun part: dimension number four, the tesseract. 

Because there aren’t just two or three of us interacting and creating gender as it stands and bends and flexes and breathes between us. The gender that exists in the space between two or more people also exists between them (as a pair or group) and the people outside their interaction – like the second dimension multiplied. One can watch a solo gender, but when one is watching the gender that arises in the space between two solo genders, one sees something different. There’s a new relationship created between the watchers and the watched, the audience and the performers, however unconscious any of them are of their role in the show.

My solo gender, plus lover or partner of any other solo gender, creates gender between us. A watcher creates gender too. Add that all together, and we need to consider the new experience of whoever might be seeing us in the midst of our performance… from within their gender du jour to boot! In that case it looks more complex still. Nummy!

Butch on butch? Dykes! (to straight folks and queers alike). Butch with masculine (with all the complexities and inadequacies of that word) man? Depends on who’s looking. With straight guys, they’re not sure, but it’s a little weird, maybe intriguing, maybe we’ll call him/them “faggot” depending how closely we look and how homophobic we are. Butch with feminine (with all the complexities and inadequacies of that word) man? Depends on who’s looking. With straight guys, maybe we’ll call him/them “dykes” depending how closely we look and how homophobic we are. With dykes, they’re not sure, but it’s a little weird, enough for a double take, she looks like one of us but he’s – oh never mind, this is too complicated. Femme alone is straight by default, but femme with butch? All of a sudden I’m a lesbian to both the straight folks and the queers, except maybe the dykes who think all femmes are bi, or the queer guys who know a fellow flexible sort when they see one.

And so on, and so forth.

It’s pretty strange, knowing that my gender morphs into a new state of being depending on what cloth is covering my skin that day, who I’m standing next to, and who’s looking. It’s one thing for gender to rise in me when I wake in the morning or dress to leave the house; it’s another for it to bubble up between two people; but it’s an entirely different one to have that gender flicker between any number of people who may cross paths with one another on a given afternoon. My gender may be seen as three or four or ten different things by people in the exact same instant without me ever knowing.

In other words – my gender is completely out of control. Mine, theirs, all of ours. Or perhaps it’s under control from so many people’s differing perspectives at once that control itself becomes meaningless.

I take great comfort and pleasure in that.

***

“Vast sliding movements over different positions on the gendered spectrum. Slippery changes. (…) It’s not simply that I disguise myself well; what they don’t recognize is that I cannot be discovered behind these appearances. If anything, I am the differences between them.” – Indra Windh

all the king’s ladies and all the kings’ men
May 28, 2007

I really should be getting to bed, but I’m not the least bit tired. I went to a fetish night on Friday and wound up staying out with friends until the sun rose, and then had a really lovely date on Saturday night that kept me up (having a good conversation) until past 4 a.m. So I suppose it’s no surprise that at 3 a.m. I’m feeling like it’s barely midnight.

Anyway, I’m offering you another rather shameless plug, but with a few treats this time. Tune into CKUT 90.3 FM tomorrow night (Monday the 28) from 7 to 8 p.m. for Dykes on Mikes, which I’ll be hosting for the second time this month. Our guests this time will be a couple of gals from the Montreal roller derby league (article here), specifically from the team Les filles du roi (my sources tell me it’s the most lesbo-heavy of Montreal’s three teams), and three gentlemyn from King Size, Montreal’s rising stars of drag – specifically, Billy King, Rod Screwheart and Little Big Horn.

The cool thing about this particular show is… well, there’s a lot of cool things, not the least of which is that all the guests are fabulous. But the part that tickles me the most is the neato historical reference of the roller derby team’s name, and the resulting pun in this particular combination of guests. 

I’ve got to explain the last thing before the first one will make sense. The website civilization.ca gives a short description of the original Filles du roi:

“In addition to female children accompanying their families, two types of unmarried women, including a very small number of widows, settled in New France after the founding of Québec, in 1608, and of Montréal, in 1642. History has grouped them under a general heading: girls for marrying. Although they were girls for marrying, les Filles du roi are distinct from that group and the expression used to designate them applies exclusively to the women and girls who emigrated to New France between 1663 and 1673. These young women of marriageable age and capable of bearing children are so called because their transportation and settlement expenses, as well as the dowry for some of them, were assumed by the royal treasury.”

That’s the first part. But there’s a reason why our proud local roller derby team has chosen to subtitle their name “sluts and criminals.”

Sluts:

“If it is true that out of some 800 Filles du roi not all were models of virtue, it should be said that the majority never created any problems at all. In spite of that, from the start of the 17th century, the morality of those unmarried women who emigrated in the hope of finding a husband in New France was often questioned. Some of their contemporaries have claimed that they were prostitutes, forced aboard ships leaving for the new world. In subsequent centuries, others endorsed this view which was widely broadcast. Those who suffer most from this are the descendants of these pioneer women who, for generations refused to mention the special status of their courageous ancestors…”

Criminals:

“The fact that the majority of the few women for marrying found in New France had been recruited by families and religious communities does not dispel the rumour that, in 1654, gave the idea that New France would be a penal colony for the worthless.”

There you have it, folks. The Filles du roi, 2007 version, have done a very unique job of reappropriating a piece of Montreal’s history. I bet the ladies in 1663 would never have imagined that over 350 years later, their descendants would be proudly claiming their name in order to sling themselves all over a roller-skating rink wearing thigh-baring purple-and-yellow uniforms.

But of course, “roi” meaning “king,” i.e. “the King’s girls,” you can see why I think it’s funny that the other guests on the show are drag kings. It remains to be seen whether the Filles du roi will end up actually being the kings’ girls by the end of the show, but both sets of guests seem awfully keen on meeting each other. I’m not sure if they’re going to want to make out or arm-wrestle; if it’s the latter, my money’s on the derby girls. But hey, I’m just the radio host. As long as the pink bits and packers stay in their pants while I’m trying to interview their owners, I’ve got nothin’ to complain about. 

the nature of the erotic, or straddling the boundaries
May 25, 2007

“There are many people in this world who masturbate with a picture in their mind of being spanked or spanking somebody. I am positive that a picture of this kind, if it falls into the hands of susceptible persons – and there are many of them – they will continue and continue masturbating and will make no effort to get on a normal path.” – Dr. Karpman, “expert” witness in the US Post Office hearing on the distribution of pornography by mail, in 1955

“What drives me to create is trying to forget how to accept oppression.” – anonymous participant in Midori’s LLCXI pre-conference workshop, “Painted Into a Corner: Freaks Make Art,” April 20, 2007

“The difference between pornography and erotica is lighting.” – Gloria Leonard 

 ***

I promise, this is not going to be a debate on the relative merits of porn versus erotica. It’s old, folks; and really, I don’t care. I know what appeals to me in the realm of sexually-oriented artistic and commercial expression, and what doesn’t; some of it’s sleazy, most of it’s not. But really, don’t we all just want the shit we like to be called erotica because it sounds cerebral (“artistic merit,” anyone?), and that gross stuff other people like to be called porn because it sounds crass? Yes indeed. So I’m dropping this one like a hot, um, something.

In fact, the inspiration behind today’s post is a finer distinction, and one I haven’t often come across: the fuzzy line between fiction that’s about sex and fiction whose primary purpose is to titillate – whether you call that erotica, or porn, or whatever else spins your beanie propeller. (Thanks for the expression, H.)

Not long ago, I had the pleasure of reading the entire Marketplace series, a five-volume saga (so far!) by Laura Antoniou. At the midway point through book 5, I attended a reading she gave at DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis during the Leather Leadership Conference in April.

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Antoniou, the first thing I have to say is that she is damned funny. The Marketplace isn’t particularly funny; that’s not really its purpose. But the writer in person? Hilarious. Insightful, self-deprecating, wonderfully wry, deliciously deadpan. She’s not my type, but I think I fell a little bit in love with her brain when I first met her last year (she gave a dominance/submission workshop in Toronto), and this most recent encounter served only to once again confirm that dang… she is one smart smart-ass.

In the weeks prior to her reading, I had spent more than one interesting conversation with more than one charming and intelligent individual discussing whether or not the Marketplace is erotica.

According to Laura’s website, quoting Consent magazine, “Instead of simply focusing on a series of sexual encounters, the novels examine the complexities of a hidden slave-holding society and the motives and the inner quandaries of slave-holders, trainers and slaves, while still delivering an enticing, passionate and hot story.”

It’s really unique in the realm of BDSM fiction in that there’s a whole lot going on that’s not erotic. Except that it is. Another quote from the website, this time excerpted from one of the Marketplace books, explains: “To be thrilled at the touch of leather, aroused by the sound of harsh words, or satisfied by the security of rigid bondage is the mark of a lover. To be thrilled at the opportunity to provide useful service, aroused by a pleased nod, and satisfied by the proverbial job well done, is the mark of a slave. It may sound severe. Almost anti-erotic. Until you see two people, owner and owned, existing in a complementary relationship where each suits the other like balances on a delicate scale.”

If you’re not into it, you won’t get it. If you are into it, this makes perfect sense. It’s the eternal joy, and eternal contradiction, of human sexuality: anything can be erotic if it feels erotic, whereas even the most sexual situations can be completely non-erotic if you don’t feel erotic about them. Thus, having someone provide a perfect shoe-shine or wash my dishes to sparkling or simply kneel and wait for me while I decide what to do with them next – these things can be indescribably hot for me. Whereas the most intimate of sexual acts can be completely void if we’re not connected and in tune with one another.

Anyway, Laura’s work does a fabulous job of both maintaining the eroticism of the overtly sexual and eroticizing the mundane, plus occasionally even de-eroticizing the sexual just for variety’s sake. I haven’t enjoyed a fiction series this much since I was a teenager and really into David Eddings, and, well, the enjoyment isn’t exactly the same kind.

The Marketplace is hot. Really really hot. The kind of hot that sinks into your subconscious and whispers to you all day long for weeks after you’ve finished reading. The kind of hot, for me at least, that has had a profound impact on the way I understand what makes my own erotic mind tick. The kind of hot that grabs me by the brain way before it grabs me by the pink bits, and that, as a result, stays with me much longer than a six-page jerk-off ever could.

That being said… my argument, in conversation with said intelligent and like-minded women, has been that the Marketplace is not erotica. Why? Because I have a whole row on my bookshelf stuffed with the best of the best erotica – Carol Queen’s The Leather Daddy and the Femme, Best Bisexual Erotica vols. 1 and 2, and Switch Hitters – gay erotica written by lesbians and lesbian erotica written by gay men. Raven Kaldera and Hanne Blank’s Best Transgender Erotica (now sadly out of print). Luscious, Alyson Tyler’s latest, a book dedicated entirely to tales of anal eroticism. The classics, too: Story of O, some Anaïs Nin, Califia’s Macho Sluts, a copy of John Preston’s re-issued Mr. Benson. I could go on!

And I’m telling you, the Marketplace is nothing like those stories.

What’s the difference? Well, that’s the hard part. I like good writing, so I have a minimal amount of paperback trash and quite a lot of high-quality, well-plotted, character-rich, beautifully articulate work. So it’s not a question of quality per se.

And while I don’t think Laura’s work contains quite enough sex scenes to be compared, word-to-word or page-to-page, with the concentration of sex scenes in the rest of my books, that’s not really the point either. I don’t evaluate such things by volume.

No, it’s more about the flavour. Some unidentifiable whiff of difference that tells me her purpose, as a writer, is not the same as that of other erotica wordsmiths.

If my usual choices in erotica speak to my sexual orientation and proclivities, perhaps the Marketplace speaks to a part of me that transcends such things and extends into everyday life and interpersonal power dynamics in innumerable ways that often just have not got a thing to do with foreplay and orgasm. I don’t know what I’d call that piece, but it’s most definitely there.

That being said, my dear friends disagreed with me at least in part; at least one vote was firmly in the erotica camp. So I made up my mind to ask at the source.

Interestingly, she beat me to the punch. I didn’t even have the chance to formulate the question; Laura just out and said, partway through her talk: “I write the books as novels first and as erotica second. And as a reader, you should be responding to the novel first. If you’re reading it for the sex scenes, I don’t know what you’re getting out of it. None of my sex scenes are long enough to jerk off to.”

The problem is that when I asked her what motivated her to write in the first place, she then proceeded to answer, “Because I couldn’t find any porn that I liked, so I figured I had to make it myself.” 

So… what am I supposed to make of that? It’s not intended to be erotica, but it was written to compensate for the lack of erotica? Ummm… Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction?

Except that maybe it’s not. Maybe that’s kind of the whole point – that this series is unique precisely because it straddles the nameless and eternally fluid triple boundary in fiction writing that lies between the standard, the erotic and the sexual. The Marketplace exists in, and draws its strength from, that mysterious place in such a way that the distinctions become immaterial. And in the end, do I need to know what to label it? Does it need to make sense to me… any more than I need to intellectually understand why it turns me on when someone judiciously hunts down a piece of helpful information with just the right service-minded attitude, or remembers to walk on my left instead of my right as per my preference, or knows exactly how I like my dinner served and can do so with elegance and grace? 

Laura’s fiction transcends the more basic (however cerebral) pleasure I might take in my personal equivalent to Karpman’s “pictures of people being spanked.” Perhaps it appeals to the part of me that sees dominance and submission as being an oppressed form of sexuality – oppressed in that even a lot of avowedly kinky people find many forms of D/s to be distasteful or uncomfortable to watch or hear about. In fact I’d venture to say that most people I know have a way, way easier time listening to a tawdry recounting of a torture scene than to even the simplest description of the ongoing D/s dynamics I maintain in my world. Even in my highly BDSM-ful life, I rarely get a glimpse of a world, fictional or real, where these things are acceptable and valued and desired.

But really, some things just speak to me, and I can’t provide a perfect rationalization, no more so than I can figure out what genre the Marketplace falls into. Perhaps in the end, the best thing to do is just sit back and enjoy.

have tits, will travel?
May 24, 2007

I’m a longtime reader of Bust mag, which is sort of like… hmmm… a glossier, less cerebral version of Bitch, with more ads. A friend of mine was telling me she feels like Bust is going downhill, which I hadn’t particularly noticed, although that could be because my expectations of it are different in the first place. But I’m mostly through last month’s issue, and I gotta say, I may have to agree with her. And it’s mainly one particular article that’s got me frowning.

The article in question is entitled “Travelling Broke: a young and foolish girl’s guide to seeing the world on the cheap,” written by Jessica Lloyd. It gives a bunch of ideas about how, basically, to take advantage of friends and strangers in order to travel the world without paying too much for it.

The general tone of the article is a bit… I dunno… unsavoury. It just feels kinda icky to me – the idea that travel planning should explicitly include things like “Have at least one person who will lend you money in an emergency. (…) It’s best to spring your emergency on them suddenly in order to gain the full measure of their concern and generosity in your hour of need. Collect calls at 4 a.m. are especially effective.” I mean… instructions on how to be a manipulative freeloader? Ew.

The article is full of questionably ethical tips and tricks, and while I recognize there’s deliberate irony in some of them (“If you go to a place where the currency is worth less, you are already a winner. There are many countries much worse off than your own that you can exploit”) – or at least I hope it’s deliberate irony – others just plain gross me out: “If you can draw or paint, do caricatures of people. Or if you can massage, start up a business working out of your hostel. Even if you can’t do these things well, everyone always wants a massage and a self-portrait, and after they find out how crappy you are, they’ll probably feel bad enough to pay the agreed price (…).”

But the tips that make me feel really gross are those where the author advises women travellers to use their sex appeal. This ranges from the reasonably innocuous – “Summer is always better than winter when it comes to getting stuff for free. (…) maybe it has something to do with bikinis and breasts – both of which it would help you to have” – to the explicit: “There are many ways to get things for free in this world, but the best way is still to exploit a man’s everlasting hope of getting laid. (…) you need to offer something in return: stimulating conversation, a dance partner, a blow job – whatever your skills are, use them.”

Now, I’ve got pretty darned progressive politics around sex work. I’ve volunteered my time with Stella, the local sex workers’ rights group; I count a number of working girls among my friends and acquaintances; I’ve edited master’s theses for more than one hooker-cum-grad student; I’m totally behind the idea that people who choose to work in the sex trade deserve to be considered legitimate workers like anyone else, with the same rights and the same protections, and that sex workers are worthy of respect, consideration and decriminalization.

But this is a far cry from thinking it’s cool to advise women to offer blow jobs to men in foreign countries in return for food or lodgings. Not because the exchange of sexual favours for money or other forms of compensation is by its nature a bad thing, but rather, because if you’re going to write an article that advises women to do so, that opens up a whole load of other concerns that really are worth the ink – and which this article fails to address.

For example, for women who want to do actual sex work – “…I’m not talking about prostitution. (Though, if you are interested, this is certainly another option.)” – the writer might want to look into the laws surrounding sex work in the country of choice. In some places, you can get in serious trouble if caught, and North American gals can be pretty darned visible when they’re not on home turf. Stella has published more than one booklet providing information about how to travel as a sex worker or stripper and how to stay safe in other countries. And you might not want to consider that option if you haven’t tried it at home already to get your, um, feet wet.

Whether we’re talking about the more formal sorts of sex work or not, it would also be worth at least mentioning the basics about safer sex, and possibly advise people to look into HIV infection rates in the country of choice, particularly if they’re related to a lack of condom availability (i.e. if there aren’t any at the nearest corner store, or there isn’t likely to be a corner store, have a load of ‘em handy!). Not to mention the country’s rape statistics, general approach to women and sexuality, and other such information.

I appreciate that Lloyd includes the caution that “A little flirtation usually suffices quite adequately, but be careful: every country has different mating-game rules, so be sure to know what they are before commencing play.” But that just seems insufficient to me somehow. There’s something wonderfully direct about sex work: you solicit, he says yes, he pays, you perform, goodbye. It seems to me that things get a lot more complicated, less ethical and above all more risky when we’re talking about outright manipulation of the male libido, especially in a country where you likely don’t have a social safety net to catch you if it goes wrong. 

On top of all this, I can’t help but wonder where the rest of Lloyd’s supposedly helpful advice might be. Before advising women repeatedly to fall back on the tired old “seduce him into paying your way” routine, you’d think she would put some more thought into less dubious ways of getting around. I’m hardly a globetrotting backpacker, but even I can tell you it’s worth looking into student-rate train passes, couch-surfer exchange websites (there are even all-girl ones), government work-visa programs for youth (like the one in Canada that lets people under 26 work in Australia and vice versa), campgrounds (how could you forget camping in an article on cheap travel?!), and even basic networking – look up groups that share your interests in the destination country, make friends by joining yahoo groups and such, and ask for advice on where to go. Who knows? You might be offered a spare bedroom, or at the very least you’ll have people to hang out with who can tell you where the cheap grocery stores are.

There are tons of ways to travel cheap without resorting to the option of manipulating friends and strangers alike (sexually or otherwise). They just require a little planning and foresight. I know, how terribly boring. Less dramatic than strumming your grandma’s heartstrings so she wires you her hard-earned cash, and definitely less risqué than bikini-clad boobs and blowjobs. 

Instead of publishing an article aimed at “young and foolish girls” who’d rather suck cock than do some travel research, I’d rather see a supposedly feminist magazine (!) publish one aimed at smart gals who want to travel on a budget, and beef up the valuable advice while minimizing the distasteful assumption that the average woman is totally blasé about putting out for material rewards and the attendant reliance on male sexual gullibility.

cinékink sunday, june 3 – beyond vanilla
May 23, 2007

Welcome to the June edition of CinéKink, Montreal’s kinky film and discussion series! This is the last film of our 2006-2007 season… we’ll be back in the fall!

What? “Beyond Vanilla”
Directed by Claes Lilja, 2004

Film synopsis: Much as the title suggests, Beyond Vanilla explores the kinkier aspects of sex on the other side of vanilla. With interviews, demonstrations and a good dose of how-to instructions, this documentary covers the gamut of fetishes and SM practices. From bondage, flogging and fisting to knife play, fire and golden showers, director Claes Lilja (pronounced class lil-yah) takes you on an unforgettable journey to the wilder side of sex. Sharing fantasies, experiences and pleasures, the over 100 people interviewed in the film help blur boundaries and shed new light on sexuality and sexual practices. For the curious, the voyeur, or the enthusiast, this is a fascinating journey into the world of high performance sexual athletes, where the boundaries of gay, straight, bi or transgender seem almost irrelevant. The subjects are academics, doctors, lawyers, pornographers, porn stars, sex workers and fulfilled, freelance hedonists who offer an insider’s view of how to embrace extreme fantasies. Open your mind and the rest will follow. More info at http://www.beyondvanilla.net/BVWebFeb04_files/page0001.htm

When? Sunday, June 3. Doors open at 6:00 p.m., screening starts at 6:30. There will be a short break followed by a discussion for up to 90 minutes.

Where? The Secret Playground at 1410 Wolfe St, Suite 301, corner of Ste-Catherine E., near metro Beaudry (http://attitudes.cc/Eng/events.htm#spintro). No food is provided, but feel free to bring your own; there are numerous restaurants and dépanneurs nearby and the kitchen is available for use.

How much? We ask for a $5 contribution to cover the costs of space rental, equipment and movie acquisition. This is a not-for-profit event.

About CinéKink: The CinéKink film and discussion series aims to be challenging and stimulating to all – from staunchly vanilla to total SM newbie to seasoned kinkster! Every first Sunday of the month, we screen an SM-related film. Each screening is followed by a one-hour discussion facilitated by local kinky sex geeks Andrea Zanin and Mylène St Pierre. People of all backgrounds, genders and persuasions are welcome. Come for the cheap flicks, stay for the quality conversation!

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