fetlife and fall fun

A few months back, I got an earnest comment on this blog from a guy I’d never met, named John Baku. He invited me to take a look at the new site he’d created, and post a review here if I liked it. That site was FetLife.com. Now, I get a lot of people sending me requests to review sex toys, porn sites and the like, and it’s generally not my particular bent – I’m much more interested in the intellectual and emotional analysis of sexuality than in product ratings and porn (though there are, of course, always exceptions).

I did check out John’s site though, and I liked the idea – a sort of Facebook-style interface for kinky people. So I joined… and I totally loved it. After a few weeks I killed my Alt.com profile (what a waste of my time) and have been happily FetLifed ever since. But I never got around to posting a review here.

Not long ago, a friend of mine from Montreal casually mentioned that she was volunteering as a greeter for the site – because John insisted on welcoming every new member with a personalized greeting. She said there were 30 such volunteers because the site was growing in leaps and bounds, with hundreds of new people joining every day.

Needless to say I smelled a scoop. So I sent in a pitch to the Montreal Mirror (since John’s a Montrealer), did a very cool interview – he’s really quite the character! – and voilà. Check out my article in this week’s paper. Enjoy! And of course, feel free to look me up on FetLife and say hello. (Unless you’re a stalker. Then please go away.)

***

Meanwhile, across the provincial border, it would appear that fall is in full sexy swing in Toronto. There are a ton of cool things happening for the sexually geeky in September and October. I’ve got my picks summarized here, with links and details for each event posted below in case you’re interested! Really, it’s quite the impressive line-up. I’ve been rather lax in the “blogging about thought-provoking events” department in the last month or two (blame it on summertime) but I will aim to be more disciplined in the future, ‘cause there are just that many excellent occasions that will be well worth writing about!

So here goes.

September 16 has two events of note. At least they’re running one directly after the other so with a well-timed cab ride I should be able to make it to both!

The first is the CIHR Café Scientifique hosted by the Institute of Gender and Health, on the topic of “He’s a player, she gets played: Challenging gendered stereotypes about youth sexual health.” It’s at 5 p.m. at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre.

The second is Shannon Bell’s famous Female Ejaculation Workshop at Come As You Are, which runs 7:30 to 11 p.m. I’ve been wanting to go to this for years, and it never seems to fall on a date when I’m in town. Yay for squirting!

September 22-28 is Sacred Sex Week at Good For Her. They’ve got a ton of cool workshops going on. For starters, Sheri Winston is teaching two workshops and I strongly encourage anyone who’s interested in sexual energy to check them out. I can’t say enough good things about her – she’s definitely one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever met when it comes to women’s anatomy and sacred sexuality, and just a whole lot of fun to boot. Sheri rocks. Other treats include a variety of workshops on sexuality and sex-positivity from the perspectives of several non-Western cultures. And I’m definitely taking Boi M to the sexy partner yoga class. Yum.

And just when the focus on body knowledge needs to be balanced out by some good ol’ intellectual stimulation, there are three consecutive launches in the space of three days… I’m telling you, this is gonna be a good week.

The first is the Bisexuality, Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being Research Project Community Forum and Celebration on Tuesday, September 23 (which just happens to be International Celebrate Bisexuality Day) at the Sherbourne Centre. The group will be launching the results of their research study. MMmmm. Brain food.

The second, on Wednesday, September 24, is a book launch of Miriam Smith’s new work Political Institutions and Lesbian and Gay Rights in the United States and Canada, which looks at the differences between queer political progress in the two countries, followed by a screening of Nancy Nicol’s 54-minute documentary One Summer in New Paltz: A Cautionary Tale. It all goes down at the Gladstone.

Last but not least, on Thursday, September 25, there’s a book launch for Reclaiming Eros: Sacred Whores and Healers by Suzanne Blackburn and Margaret Wade at WonderWorks on Harbord.

That same night – back to the body we go – there’s a women and trans bathhouse event. The details aren’t up on the website yet but I promise it is indeed happening.

Friday night, September 26, is the annual Bi Bash, an evening of fun and entertainment by and for bisexuals and their friends. Last year it was a blast; this year it’s at Goodhandy’s so doubtless it’ll be even better.

That weekend I’m teaching two workshops at Come As You Are. The first is “Hole Lotta Lovin’: An Anal Play Workshop” on Saturday the 27, and the second is “Body Language: Creating Erotic Scenes” on Sunday 28. Tell all your friends about them! Check out my Workshops page for more info.

And coming up in October – Saturday the 4th to be specific – the GRUE comes to Toronto! GRUE stands for Graydancer’s Ropetastic Unconference Extravaganza, run by my friend JP and super-awesome rope bondage nerd and all-round good guy Graydancer. The concept is a very cool one: a bunch of people interested in rope bondage (and other lovely things) get together in a big space and come up with a conference on the spot, with people sharing knowledge and asking questions on a variety of topics. The concept sounds chaotic but apparently it works out really well, plus tickets for the day are only $40. I hope to make it. Whee!

*****

DETAILS! Click on the links here (included when available) or scroll down for more info on each event.

***

** Free public event. Please distribute widely.**

CIHR Café Scientifique hosted by the Institute of Gender and Health
He’s a player, she gets played: Challenging gendered stereotypes about youth sexual health

Tuesday, September 16, 2008, 5:00 p.m.
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
12 Alexander Street, Toronto
Light refreshments provided
Please RSVP: ea-igh@exchange.ubc.ca

Young people of all genders and sexualities are sexually active; the average age that Canadians first have sex is 17. So why is it when a girl is sexually active, she can be considered to be easy, but when a guy is sexually active he can be called a stud? How do these gendered stereotypes affect young people’s physical, emotional and sexual health? How do they intersect with race, class, and oppression? In what ways do these stereotypes influence how parents, teachers, researchers and health care providers talk and think about youth sexual health? Join us as we challenge these stereotypes in a lively
discussion with experts in the field of youth sexual health.

If you have accessibility needs, please contact the organizers and we will do our best to accommodate you.

The expert speakers featured at the Café are:

- Dr. Sarah Flicker, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
- Dr. Jean Shoveller, Associate Professor, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia
- Jessica Yee, Founder & Director, Native Youth Sexual Heath Network

The event is moderated by Dr. Joy Johnson, Scientific Director, CIHR Institute of Gender and Health.

What is a Café Scientifique?
Remember when you used to spend untold hours sitting around a table over a beer or coffee with your friends, solving all the problems of the world, debating all the “big questions” of the day? Café Scientifique is, simply put, a larger and slightly more organized version of those conversations. It’s an opportunity to bring together researchers with members of the public to spark a discussion about some of the most interesting – and sometimes contentious – research currently underway in Canada.

What is CIHR?
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada’s agency for health research. CIHR’s mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health-care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 11,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada. http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca

For more information about this event, please contact:

Zena Sharman
Assistant Director | Directrice adjointe
Institute of Gender and Health | Institut de la santé des femmes et des hommes
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) | Instituts de recherche en
santé du Canada (IRSC)
University of British Columbia,  Room 208, 2259 Lower Mall, Vancouver, BC  V6T 1Z4
zsharman@exchange.ubc.ca
Telephone | Téléphone 604-827-3284
Facsimile | Télécopieur 604-822-1622
Government of Canada | Gouvernement du Canada

***

Female Ejaculation Workshop

Returning with her popular seminar, Shannon Bell will discuss female ejaculation from a historical perspective, followed by an overview of anatomy and technique, plus a demonstration. Learn about female ejaculation, see the real live clitoris (g-spot), and discover new techniques.

Tuesday, September 16, 2007. 7:30 – 10:00pm (For women, trans people, and men accompanied by a woman.)
Where: Come As You Are
Cost:$30/person (Sliding Scale Available)

***

Bisexuality, Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being Research Project Community Forum and Celebration

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Time: 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Location: Sherbourne Health Centre, 333 Sherbourne Street
Phone: 416 260-4138
Email: bisexual_health@camh.net

The goal of this community-based research project was to better understand the factors that affect mental health and emotional well-being among bisexual people across Ontario. We also hoped to learn what services bisexuals find helpful and what services they wish existed to address their emotional and mental health needs. Over 50 people participated in the research and we are pleased to be able to share our findings on September 23, which is Celebrate Bisexuality Day!

Join us at the community forum to:
- celebrate the completion of the project
- learn about the research results
- connect with bi community and resources
- enjoy a reading by Debra Anderson, author of Code White – “an innovative story of psychiatric confinement, rippling with sardonic humour, sexual tension, and rebellious honesty, in a setting that often lacks all three”

All are welcome at this free event. Light refreshments provided. RSVPs are encouraged but not required: 1-866-371-6667 or (416) 260-4138 or bisexual_health@camh.net

This project is a partnership between Sherbourne Health Centre’s LGBTT Program and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and has been sponsored by the Community Research Capacity Enhancement Program of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

***
WEDNESDAY, SEP 24, 2008
7PM-9PM

US/CANADA: QUEER POLITICS TODAY

FILM PREMIERE AND BOOK LAUNCH
Political Institutions and Lesbian and Gay Rights in the United States and Canada by Miriam Smith, Routledge 2008.
One Summer in New Paltz, a cautionary tale (54 min., 2008) by Nancy Nicol
With Performance by: D-lishus: poet mother fire goddess diva storyteller, dispensing words of wisdom, laced with dub and framed by womanly hips, hard hitting political sistah telling it like it is.

What accounts for the rapid pace of change for lesbian and gay rights in Canada compared with the laggard status in the US? What inspired 1000s of lesbian and gays, as well as straight mayors, city officials and clergy across the US to engage in civil disobedience for the right to marry? How do issues and legacies of racism, nationalism, political and legal institutions play a role in the same-sex marriage debate in the US and Canada?

BOOK LAUNCH: Political Institutions and Lesbian and Gay Rights in the United States and Canada
Miriam Smith examines why these similar societies have produced such divergent policy outcomes, focusing on how differences between the political institutions of the US and Canada have shaped the terrain of social movement and counter-movement mobilization. Miriam will briefly explain why dry topics such as federalism, state constitutions and the division of powers are relevant to queer rights.

FILM PREMIERE: One Summer in New Paltz, a cautionary tale (54 minutes, 2008)

Director/Producer Nancy Nicol will introduce the film.
Set against a backdrop of the Bush administration’s policy of endless war and assault on civil liberties, One Summer in New Paltz is a cautionary tale of a young mayor of a small village who decided to do the unthinkable.

President Bush’s call for an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to enshrine a heterosexual definition of marriage ignited a wave of civil disobedience same-sex marriages across the USA. One Summer in New Paltz focuses on the small village of New Paltz, NY, where the mayor Jason West began performing same-sex marriages on the steps of village hall and 1000s of couples flooded the village seeking to be married. The film goes on to document civil disobedience same-sex marriages and demonstrations across New York State, the Nyack Ten legal suit against New York State and the first day of legal same-sex marriages in Boston Massachusetts in May 2004.

One Summer in New Paltz probes into the debate on same-sex marriage examining the intersection of same-sex marriage, war, the Constitution, race and the family. A strong work about grass roots organizing, straight/gay alliances and confrontation with state repression from an intersectional perspective.

With special thanks to: Inside Out Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival, Night at the Indies and Meow films, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, Sexuality Studies, and the Faculty of Fine Arts, York University and Vtape

Contact Name: Nancy Nicol
Email: nnicol@yorku.ca
Phone: 416.656.3415

***

Thursday September 25 7-9 pm
Book Launch for Reclaiming Eros: Sacred Whores and Healers
With Suzanne Blackburn, FREE! No pre-registration required
At WonderWorks (79A Harbord Street)

In this new revolutionary book, Suzanne Blackburn and Margaret Wade, Suade Publishing, challenge us to examine what roles eroticism and sexuality play in our lives, how we regard these powerful forces and how we might, if we dare, change our beliefs. Reclaiming Eros puts sexuality back where it belongs – with all of life that is sacred and beautiful. Hear her read, ask questions and get your own copy personally signed!

***

Bi Bash 2008
Host: Toronto Bisexual Network
Friday, September 26, 2008 at 8:00pm
Goodhandy’s, 120 Church Street
Email: info@torontobinet.org

Join the Toronto Bisexual Network for a kick-ass party for bisexuals and our friends, showcasing local bi talent and performances celebrating bisexuality. Our variety show will feature: Burlesque, Spoken Word, Musical Performances, Hula Hoop Dancing, Zombie Burlesque and more!

Doors 8:00, Show 9:00
DJs and dancing starting at 12:00
Cover: $8 ($5 sliding scale tickets available)

Performers include:
- Clara Engel, apocalyptic folk singer
- Annanda DeSilva, Spoken Word Artist
- Cinnamon Hearts, sexy and satirical burlesque stylings
- Tomboyfriend, Rogue Cabaret Style
- Susan Tarshis, a hot reading to warm up a cool fall night
- Circus Alchemy’s Hooping Three
- MEA, cellist & singer/songwriter
- Angela Sinclair, singer/songwriter
- The WiKiD, zombie burlesque
- Zombie Apocalypse, rocking your brains out
- Lassie Vicious, burlesque
- Jon Pressick makes a bold statement about what he likes…
- Snoovy, songstress in groovy folk/girl rock style
and more!!!

DJs: Nik Red, DJ Polybear
Cheryl Dobinson will be your host for the evening’s festivities.

Brought to you by (with proceeds benefiting): the Toronto Bisexual Network. http://www.torontobinet.org * info@torontobinet.org * (416) 925-XTRA x2810
Sponsors: Sherbourne Health Centre and the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario
Media Sponsor: Xtra

Celebrate Bisexuality Day (CBD) is an annual international event, held on September 23 of each year, aiming to promote bi visibility and celebrate the wonderful diversity of bisexual lives. The Toronto Bisexual Network holds an annual celebration in honour of CBD taking place the weekend before or after the 23rd.

This is a 19+ event.

***

TorontoGRUE 2008 – Graydancer’s Ropetastic Unconference Extravaganza (A Day-Long Meeting of Kinky Minds)
Saturday, October 4, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Graydancer, a friend from down south, is a man of many titles: Podcaster, RopeSlut, Published Author, Burlesque Performer, Sex Blogger, Educator and fellow sukebe. Now, thanks to his flexible schedule, a bit of a break in my workload, and the wonderful people at Goodhandy’s, Graydancer is bringing the GRUE to Toronto: Saturday October 4th, 2008. The GRUE is an unconference that he has facilitated around the US, giving people of kink a chance to come together in a non-mediated way and discuss issues they themselves find important and compelling. You can read his post about the first GRUE here (http://www.graydancer.com/2007/08/21/the-grue-ate-my-friends/ ). As well as in Madison, the GRUE has also been held in Lansing, MI, Minneapolis, MN, and St. Louis, MO, and the techniques have been used to teach at events like Shibaricon, TES Fest, and the Spankfestival.

Tickets for the ToroGRUE are 40$ CDN, and are limited. For more information about the TorontoGRUE visit http://www.thecontrolenthusiast.com/?p=94. Due to the size of the venue and the intimate nature of the Unconference, we are making 80 tickets available for the event. If you’re interested in taking part, email me at grue@thecontrolenthusiast.com with any questions about the event, or to reserve your tickets. 2 per person, first come first served. I will email you back with confirmation of your tickets.

Keep checking http://www.thecontrolenthusiast.com for more information and updates about the TorontoGRUE. As details become clearer I’ll both post more on the site and email updates to those who’ve expressed interest in participating. I’m very excited to welcome Graydancer to Toronto, and facilitate what I hope will be the first of a series of events for the community on the whole. Remember, this is a conference put together by and for You. The more intelligent & hungry minds that attend, the better it’ll be for all.

10 Responses

  1. My whole life I have been called a character… I am still trying to figure out what people mean by that :-p. Thank you so much for an amazing review! I loved the article!

  2. Oh yeah, and for the record, I am 31, not 41! Now I definitely will not find a date LOL! :-p

  3. Thank you so much for passing along the FetLife site. I took a look after reading this article, joined, and love it so far! Always nice to come across such lovely kinky gems. ;)

    PS – I really enjoy reading your blog and look forward to more!

    Warmly,
    Rose

  4. Aw, that is a neat article.

    I’ve seen you on FetLife, but I’m not friending you because I am a stalker. (Or maybe I’m shy – it’s hard to tell sometimes.)

  5. Thanks for all the listings!

    By the way, ever thought of podcasting? Our own little Toronto-based polykinkyqueer podcast! Think of the possibilities!

    (I could help out. I have no experience with podcasting, but I’ve got spirit ;-)

  6. I loved your article and it is great that you are enjoying FetLife. I’ve really enjoyed being a greeter there and I think the discussions are top-notch.

  7. [...] I have joined).  The community has grown tremendously. For a second opinion I recomend you look here. I found the link and her background about Fetlife interesting. She even wrote an article about it [...]

  8. I joined fetlife back when you first mentioned it. I still like the site.

    I also created a wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetlife), and your article in the Montreal Mirror got it published, and kept it from being deleted. It makes it notable!

  9. While fetlife may be the most queer-kink friendly online network and savvy to the way we communicate in real life, it is some of the forum culture found there which downgrades the progressive female-friendly interface Baku has designed. In one forum community known as ‘rants’ the users debunk default and oft fake niceness and instead openly play up to the ‘flaming and trolling’ bantering style known throughout the internet on forums. This was fine with the forum itself being queer friendly, or so I thought. One poster, a young mtf, wrote about being shy over pre-transition photos they couldn’t get taken down from another site due to some technical difficulty. One of the MODS (forum referees), a middle aged heterosexual man, responded by telling the person they were ‘so ugly they needed plastic surgery’. There is a dark side to fetlife because whether or not it plays by the queer and female positive vibe depends entirely on the users.

  10. I agree with puppy. I was on the site a while and met a few wonderful people but ultimately got off because I felt that it was not very female or submissive positive overall and felt stalker-y sometimes. And then there was the drama…

    It really broke my heart sometimes to see people be so open in certain forums, only to be mocked by some butthole. The site seems like such a great thing – you can finally share with like-minded people! You’re not alone! Etc, but in reality it’s still the Internet, people are anonymous and some of them use that anonymity to act like turds.

    Finally the bad outweighed the good for me and I deleted my account. Problem solved.

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