“She Loved…” An Excerpt from “Bending”

ThreekindsAnd now, a dirty story.

I’m going to be away from my blog for a few days while I take care of some other stuff. So instead of starting another big heavy discussion topic, I thought I’d give you a nice dirty story to tide you over for a few days. (Family members and others who don’t want to read my porn: Now would be a good time to stop reading.)

This is an excerpt from my erotic novella “Bending,” part of the three-novella collection Three Kinds of Asking For It edited by Susie Bright. FYI: While I usually illustrate my blog posts with lots of pictures, I’m not going to do that here. I want you to be able to picture the characters yourself, the way you imagine them, so I’m leaving this one picture-less. Have fun, and I’ll be back blogging next week!

*****

Bending
Copyright 2005 Greta Christina

She loved being bent over. More than any fiddling that might precede it, more than any fumbling sex act that might follow. The moment of being bent over was like a sex act to Dallas, like foreplay and climax blended into one swooning, too-short moment. A hand on her neck, pressing gently but firmly downward, felt like a tongue on her clit; a voice in her ear, telling her calmly and reasonably to bend over and pull down her pants, felt like a cock in her cunt.

She always masturbated in that position. She sometimes masturbated by getting in that position and then doing nothing else. She would stand by the arm of her sofa, by the side of the bed, at the edge of the kitchen table; and she would bare her ass, slowly, and slowly bend herself over… and then she would stand there, bent over, hands on her hips or behind the small of her back, thinking. Thinking about what she looked like, thinking about what she felt like. Thinking about the feel of the air on the skin of her exposed ass. Thinking about hands on her thighs, paddles on her bottom, dicks and dildos in her asshole and her cunt. Thinking about what a dirty hungry girl she was. Thinking, until she came.

The furnishings that crowded Dallas’s apartment would be a dead giveaway to anyone who knew what to look for. Sofas and armchairs with wide, firm backs and arms; tables and dressers that were all waist height; a small but varied collection of hairbrushes, vintage and modern. A padded table she had had made for her, its height easily adjustable so her head and torso could be raised or lowered as the mood required. It could pass for a sewing or card table. She called it the bending table. She tried not to use it too often, for fear of using up all the magic.

It was hard sometimes. She saw a video once, where a man bent a woman over a toilet and shoved her head in it while he fucked her in the ass. She thought she would pass out. She watched the scene ten times, pale, wet between her legs, a shaking hand on the remote. She watched it ten times, and then took the video back to the rental place and never watched it again. It made her stomach hurt, the thought that this act had happened — literally, physically, factually happened — to someone who wasn’t her.

She did have lovers. Many of them over the years. Dozens if you counted them all, more if you counted very carefully. More than one of these lovers had accused Dallas of being a black hole, an accusation she felt was deeply unfair, not to mention inaccurate. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to give anything. She simply felt that what she did have to give was sufficient. Her pain, her submission, her ass in the air presented like a jewel on a satin pillow, her willingness to do almost anything a person could do in that position… Dallas felt that all of this was a tremendous gift. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to give anything. It was that she had yet to find a lover who wanted what she had to give. She found this tremendously annoying. Hurtful, too, for sure, and frustrating at times to the point of despair, but mostly just annoying as hell.

And the accusation that “you only like to do one thing” completely baffled her. It wasn’t one thing, she argued to herself on her way home from a particularly frustrating squabble. It wasn’t one thing, any more than so-called regular sex was one thing. Being bent over was a whole field of things, an entire genus, with a zillion details that could vary. Wriggling and weeping versus serene submission; being gently guided to the edge of the bed versus being shoved onto the floor; jeans and cotton panties yanked down to her knees versus a flimsy skirt slowly pulled up to reveal her sluttily un-pantied bottom… these were distinct sex acts, obviously and self-evidently, as different as, say, intercourse and oral sex seemed to be for the rest of the world. The portion of the world that she’d been fucking, anyway.

Certain details about her lovers didn’t much matter to her. Male, female, neither or both, any of these were fine. Age, race, height, weight, occupation or lack thereof, smoking habits, voting habits, all those things that kept showing up in the personal ads; none of them made much difference to Dallas. Lately, it was beginning to make less and less difference whether she even found them attractive. It was beginning to matter only whether they were willing.

For example.

There was Daria, the photographer. Daria loved seducing people into taking things a little too far, loved getting them to sign the release and then leading them, step by gentle step, from a tasteful, soft-focus nude session into something she’d have to take to Amsterdam to get published. She loved the blush, the not-so-reluctant reluctance, the shame and relief on her subjects’ faces at being exposed at last. She was good, and she got what she wanted a lot. And God knows she got good pictures out of Dallas. She got a whole book’s worth of pictures out of Dallas, a book she’d have been hard-pressed to get published even in Amsterdam. But she never got the blush. She had Dallas doing things that almost made her own bad self blush, and she talked to Dallas in a low voice about how many people were going to see these pictures and know her dirty secret, and through it all Dallas just smiled, a beatific half-smile like she was gazing on the face of the Holy Virgin. Daria even got out the video camera, a last resort if there ever was one, and she told Dallas about all the filthy leering perverts she was going to sell the tape to on the Internet, and Dallas just spread her asshole wider, and smiled wider. Daria did finally get the photos published, some of them anyway, and she sent Dallas five copies of the book, and Dallas sent back a very sweet thank-you note with an order for ten more copies at the twenty percent discount agreed on in their contract.

There was Jack. That was good for a while. Jack liked a lot of different things, but he was happy to oblige Dallas as long as she was happy to oblige him back. It was pretty damn fun, actually; he knew where she lived, so he could keep her on the hook for hours, groveling on the floor begging for his cock, smacking herself in the pussy and calling herself a cheap whore, bound on her back with his Jockeys in her mouth while he jerked off in her face and told her what a good girl she was. As long as he held out the promise of bending her over and doing things to her from behind, she’d do just about anything for him, and do it with a song in her heart. But he knew her heart wasn’t in it. He knew that all she really wanted was the bending over part, and someone who craved it as much as she did. And he didn’t. It was perfectly fine, but he didn’t have that sort of dedication to the one fetish. His fetish was variety. And ultimately, what he wanted was someone who wanted him, someone desperate for his particular cock, his Jockeys in their mouth, someone who wasn’t just lending him their mouth as a trade-off for his hands on their ass. So the two of them broke it off. They were still friends, though, and they still did it sometimes, when her ads were running dry and his boyfriend had other plans.

There was B.J., a butch top who’d call herself that to anyone who would listen. She loved having cute girls bend over for her, loved to beat them until they cried prettily and begged her to stop. But Dallas never would. Oh, she’d cry alright; she’d cry and whimper, scream and wriggle, yank frantically against her ropes or beat her fists on the bed. But she never asked B.J. to stop. Not once. B.J. would beat her until the welts ran together; but when she dropped the belt and sneered, “Had enough?” Dallas would inevitably draw a breath and say, “No, sir. I can take more.” Like it was a fucking gift or something. B.J. didn’t think it was a fucking gift. She thought it was a challenge, or a mockery even. The last time Dallas said it, B.J. shrugged in disgust, tossed her paddle into her bag, and said “Fine. You win.” She picked up her bag and her motorcycle jacket without another word, while Dallas stayed in position, bent over with one foot on the floor and the other splayed out on the bed, looking over her shoulder with a puzzled expression. B.J. gave Dallas one last withering look and slammed out the front door — and hovered in the hallway, waiting for Dallas to run out and call after her. She stayed long enough to hear Dallas make herself come, quickly and loudly. She didn’t stay long enough to hear Dallas pick up the phone and call Jack for a lengthy gripe-fest about asshole tricks who thought sex was a competition.

There was Jeffrey — Jeff, Jeffrey, he didn’t care — who met her through her ad online. He couldn’t believe his luck; they’d been talking in the coffeeshop for maybe five minutes when she looked him up and down and said calmly, “So if I take you back to my place now, will you bend me over and fuck me in the ass?” At first he thought it was a scam, thought her boyfriend would jump out from behind her door and mug him or something; but she sighed impatiently and said “Fine. Your place, my place. A motel. Whatever,” and he dropped a twenty on the coffeeshop table and took her to a motel down the block. And then he really couldn’t believe his luck. The door shut behind them, and she tossed her purse in the corner, jerked up her skirt, flopped over the dresser, spread her ass cheeks apart with her hands, and started begging him to stick it in. She didn’t have to beg him twice. He scrambled out of his pants, shoved a condom onto his dick, and hastily guided himself into her open, gentle asshole. He fucked her slow and sweet until she squirmed and bucked and whimpered for him to fuck her hard and fast, and then he slammed her, five or six good slams before he came. But then she started getting weird on him. She stayed bent over the dresser even after he pulled out, and she started talking about him putting things into her ass. She had some things in her purse, she said. When he went silent she started sweet-talking, saying they could do it anywhere he wanted, on the floor, against the wall, in the bathroom over the toilet seat. Her voice trembled a bit when she mentioned the toilet seat. When he stayed silent, she looked abashed, said she knew she was hard to deal with sometimes, said she could see why he might be angry, said if he felt like he had to punish her she’d understand. At which point he remembered an urgent appointment, scrambled back into his pants, and made the most graceful thirty-second exit he could muster. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he saw her reaching for her purse as he closed the door.

There was Betsy.

Threekinds_2Most of the rest of the story concerns Dallas and Betsy. If you want to find out what happens next, you’ll have to buy the book.

Dream journal, 4/3/07: Ingrid’s Wedding

Wedding_dressI dreamed that Ingrid and I were visiting Ingrid’s relatives in Arkansas. She had a couple of old friends there who she was still in touch with, and one of them was a guy who, for complicated legal or logistical reason, needed to get married. So somehow it got decided that Ingrid should marry him, right away, within the next few days.

ChurchAt first I went along with this, and didn’t think it was a big deal. But as the dream went on and the wedding plans moved forward, I got increasingly upset. It started occurring to me that Ingrid’s marriage to this guy would have real legal standing, greater legal standing than our domestic partnership. And the wedding was happening in a church, apparently to make Ingrid’s fundamentalist relatives and the groom’s fundamentalist relatives happy… and I was getting very weirded out by the fact that Ingrid was going along with this. The dream ended with me at the church just before the wedding, feeling like I had to keep our relationship a secret even though most people pretty much knew about it (a bunch of the other wedding guests were glaring at me), and not sure if I was supposed to sit in the front row with the family or sit in the back as if I was just another guest, and getting very freaked out and and hurt and increasingly sure that this was a very bad idea.

California_flagThis was obviously a pretty upsetting dream, and I was very relieved when I woke up (although bummed that Ingrid had already left for work and I couldn’t ask her to reassure me). I also woke up remembering that, in fact, California law says that domestic partners have to dissolve their partnership before one of them can re-marry — which helped bring me back to the reality that Ingrid would, in fact, never do this. (It sometimes takes me a while to realize that my dreams aren’t real and don’t make sense.)

Reality note: Ingrid has fundie relatives in Mississippi, not Arkansas. I have no idea why my dream-brain translated that into Arkansas.

John McCain on AIDS: “Gee, I Never Thought About That!”

Mccain1Over on Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Ed Brayton has an excellent piece about a recent interview with John McCain on his “Straight Talk Express” tour bus, where he was asked whether the U.S. should fund condom distribution in Africa and elsewhere around the world to help prevent AIDS. You can read the whole transcript (much of which is appalling) on Ed’s blog, or on the New York Times blog he was citing. I just want to point out the comments that really jumped out at me:

“I never got a question about it before.”

“You’ve stumped me.”

“I’ve never gotten into these issues before.”

So let me get this straight.

Act_upHe’s been in Congress since 1982. He’s been in the Senate since 1986. He ran for President in 2000. In other words, his national political career dovetails almost perfectly with the emergence of the AIDS epidemic in this country.

And this is the first time he’s considered the question of what the U.S. government should and should not do to help stop the spread of HIV?

That, just by itself, makes him grotesquely unqualified to be President. Heck, it makes him grotesquely unqualified to be in the Senate.

Baptizing_of_americaOf course, I don’t think that’s really what’s going on. I don’t think this is the first time he’s considered this question. I just think it’s the first time he’s considered this question since he decided that, if he wants to be President, he has to start sucking the dick of the religious right. (The more I read about McCain, the more I realize that the whole “free-thinking maverick who’ll fight for the little guy” schtick is one of the most successful snow jobs in the history of American politics. You can read more about him in the Culture Wars archives and on Making Light.)

Mccain2But look at it this way. The very fact that he thinks “Gee, I never really thought about this before” is a remotely valid response to the question “What should the U.S. government do to help stop the spread of HIV?” — that, just by itself, proves beyond any doubt that he is not qualified to be dogcatcher… much less a Senator, and much, much less a President.

When Art Porn Works: “Ecstasy in Berlin 1926″

Ecstasy1Once again, I’m trying to inject a little sex into this increasingly less sex-oriented sex writer’s blog, and am posting one of my Adult FriendFinder magazine porn reviews. This is one of my rare straight-up raves — and as is so often the case with my porn reviews, it’s simultaneously a review and an analysis of what makes porn work. Enjoy!

*****

Ecstasy in Berlin 1926, DVD
Produced, directed, and edited by Maria Beatty
Available at Bleu Productions and at Last Gasp.

Yes. Oh, dear Lord, yes. This is what I’ve been waiting for, what I’m always waiting for and so rarely get. “Ecstasy in Berlin 1926″ is art porn that’s actually both artistic and pornographic. It’s smut that’s exquisitely framed and impeccably timed and created with a passionate creative vision… and that is, at the same time, filthy and nasty and explicit, catering to my most perverted and degenerate voyeuristic lusts.

Ecstasy2The movie is set in Berlin in 1926. A blonde beauty, sensual and delicate and a bit like Jean Harlow, injects herself with an unnamed drug, and slips into a fantasy about a dashing brunette woman who appears from nowhere and kisses her passionately, a gloved hand at her throat. The fantasy lover takes control with an increasingly firm hand, slicing the blonde’s lingerie off with a straight razor, and caressing her breasts with a touch that’s both sensual and sadistic.

Ecstasy3As the blonde woman sinks deeper into the drug, the fantasy changes scene. Her lover is now clad in a corset and severely high laced leather boots — boots for the blonde to grovel at and worship with her lovely mouth. At this point, the fantasies become increasingly intense and perverse, as the submissive girl is bound with ropes, flogged, spanked, paddled, caned, whipped, chained up, and more — all flawlessly pictured in her mind’s eye.

Black_gloveThe film is the love child of Maria Beatty. Beatty has produced and directed a number of erotic videos for her company Bleu Productions: most of them featuring lesbian SM, and many of them quite extreme. I’ve been a fan of Beatty’s for years, and her kink videos The Black Glove and The Elegant Spanking are among my favorites. She has an eye for the perfect moment, the pose that perfectly captures the moment of submission or pain or taking control. “Ecstasy in Berlin 1926″ is a beautiful example. When the blonde is bent over her mistress’s lap, or on all fours in front of a mirror, or on her knees with her face on the floor and her ass in the air, the position is always classic, an iconic example of that pose, perfectly blocked and framed to make a delicious picture for the viewer.

Ecstasy4But unlike many other “perfect moment, perfectly framed” porn directors (like, oh, say, Andrew Blake), the performers in Beatty’s movies aren’t merely standing and modeling. They seem like they’re really there. The tongue on the boot, the paddle on the bottom, the lash on the back, the look of concentration on the dominant’s face, the look of fear and bliss on the submissive’s — all of these feel genuine. The performers aren’t thrashing and screaming, to be sure, but they seem very much intent on what they’re doing, and deeply satisfied by it. Maria Beatty is herself a lifestyle submissive, and she’s clearly devoted to making videos that capture both the intensity of her fantasies and the truth of real SM play. And when she’s at her best, her videos are an exceptional blend of artistry and authenticity.

Metropolis2And “Ecstasy in Berlin 1926″ is definitely one of her best. Filmed mostly in black-and-white and sepia-tone with only occasional color, the movie’s perverse pleasures are expertly filmed and deftly framed, giving it an air of luxurious decadence. Watching it made me feel like a wealthy sybarite in an elegant bordello, with lovely and expensive girls performing a series of degenerate sex acts carefully staged for my benefit. It looks like a German art film of the 1920s, like a dirty movie by Murnau or Fritz Lang, or like vintage porn photographs come to life. (“Ecstasy in Berlin 1926″ was, in fact, inspired by a series of vintage girl-girl kink photos, and one of the extras on the DVD is a gallery of those photos.)

Ecstasy5There are a few things you need to be prepared for. One of them is the slow pace of the film, the long, lingering buildup before you get to the “good parts.” Personally, I think this is one of the movie’s strong points: I think foreplay and teasing and excruciating anticipation are “good parts,” some of the yummiest good parts, and one of my biggest complaints about mainstream porn is that it rushes straight to the fucking or the whipping without giving me time to get excited about it. But even if you do get impatient with the teasy buildup (which you can, of course, fast-forward through), I think you’ll appreciate the movie’s patience. Because once it gets to the juicy bits, it stays with them. It doesn’t jump from fetish to fetish or from shot to shot like a music video on speed; it finds a groove and stays with it, letting your eyes linger on the leather boots being lovingly tongued, the chains being carefully wrapped around the naked torso, the bare bottom being paddled again and again. When you come to a bit that you really like, you can relax and trust that you’ll be able to watch it for a little while.

Ecstasy6You also need to be prepared for the complete lack of dialog. The movie is silent: there’s music, but no conversation at all. Again, I personally think this is a huge plus; most porn actors can’t act for beans, and most porn dialog makes me want to crawl under the sofa and die from embarrassment. In “Ecstasy in Berlin 1926,” there are no awkward, wooden, ineptly written, clumsily memorized speeches to distract you — the focus is entirely on the image. If what you like in an adult video is the image, this movie will come as a huge relief — but if you’re a fan of dirty talk, it may be a bit disappointing.

Ecstasy7Finally, you should be prepared for the somewhat abrupt finish. This is my only actual complaint about the film. The blonde girl’s fantasy scenes follow on one another with grace and heat, expertly edited and overlaid, building from firm but gentle dominance to increasingly intense scenarios of blissful pain and submission. But then they just kind of stop. There’s nothing to mark the last scene as the last scene — nothing but the credits. I don’t insist on a classic Big Porn Finish, a final orgy scene with six guys shooting on the star’s face and boobs. But I do like some sense of closure, something to give shape and context to all those beautiful dirty images, something that tells me to breathe again, or to come. This video doesn’t have it, and it’s a bit… well, anticlimactic.

Ecstasy1_1But this is a minor nitpick, really, like ragging on Dickens for having a spelling error. I love this film, and I recommend it passionately. “Ecstasy in Berlin 1926″ is that rarest of all rare creatures: art porn that works, where the filthiness makes the art more beautiful, and the art makes the sex more hot.

Copyright 2005 Greta Christina. Originally published in Adult FriendFinder magazine.

Well, It Beats A Nice Hot Bath: Ted Haggard and the Straight Man’s Cure for Stress

Ted_haggard_1So of course I’m all over the “Ted Haggard now says he’s straight” story. But what I’m really interested in is how many people are getting it wrong.

If I read the pertinent quote correctly, then despite what you may have read or heard, Haggard isn’t saying that his homosexuality has been cured, and that after three weeks (!) of intensive therapy, he has now become heterosexual.

No. What he said (or what his church overseer the Rev. Tim Ralph said on his behalf) is, if possible, even more preposterous.

What he said was that he’s always been straight. He didn’t become heterosexual in therapy — he “discovered” his heterosexuality.

Ted_haggard_3“He is completely heterosexual,” Ralph said. “That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place.”

Right. Because straight men “act out” by sucking cock all the time.

No, really. It’s a natural stress response. Long hours, money problems, illness in the family, trouble at home? Every straight guy I know would be running to the nearest male prostitute to suck his cock. It’s a perfectly normal reaction. Very common.

My question: Just exactly how stupid do these people think we are?

Dan_savageBTW: My favorite writing so far about the Ted Haggard kerfuffle has been by sex columnist Dan Savage, who pointed out that the Haggard story competely gives the lie to ex-gay movement. The pertinent passage:

“Describing a lifelong battle against temptations that were contrary to his teachings,” says the Denver Post, “[Haggard] had sought assistance ‘in a variety of ways,’ and while he had stretches of ‘freedom,’ nothing proved effective. ‘There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I’ve been warring against it all of my adult life,’ Haggard wrote.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ can change the sexual orientation of a believer, why on earth did he refuse to cure Haggard? He founded a church that has 14,000 members! Thousands were brought to Christ by Haggard’s preaching. Mixed in with Ted’s meth-fueled gay sex romps and hypocritical gay bashings were, without a doubt, thousands of good works.

JesusDid Jesus help Haggard out? No. Haggard tried to battle off his “dark” desires, but nothing proved effective. There was no cure for Haggard, no miracle. No matter how long he struggled, no matter how much faith he had, Haggard’s sexual orientation remained unchanged. Nothing helped.

If giving his heart to Jesus couldn’t cure Haggard, what hope is there for the likes of me? If Jesus can’t be bothered to work a miracle for the most powerful evangelical minister in the country, what “hope” is there for the average dyke?

Oh, and in case you haven’t seen it yet: Here’s a video clip of Richard Dawkins interviewing Ted Haggard (pre-kerfuffle, of course), in which Haggard admonishes Dawkins “don’t be arrogant.” (The clip is all good, but if you don’t have time to watch the whole six minutes, the really good stuff comes about three minutes in. Video below the fold.)

[Read more…]

Happy Anniversary to Us, or, An Absolutely Fun Thing We’ll Never Do Again

I swear to God, we’ll put a more complete set of these on Ophoto or something soon. But today is our wedding anniversary, and I wanted to get the best of these on the blog. Thanks eight million times to everyone who made this such a magnificent, goofy, fabulously fun event. We love you all.

Portrait
The best formal portrait.
Aisle
Walking down the aisle. We are, at this point, completely insane.Chip_speech
Chip (one of my two best men), reading a piece he wrote just for us.Cynthia_et_al_song
Ingrid’s sister Cynthia, her partner Dusty, and mom-in-law Lori, singing “The Book of Love.” (The Magnetic Fields one, not the doo-wop one.)Laura_speech
One of Ingrid’s two maids of honor, Laura, reading the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.Rick_song
My brother Rick, singing “O Mistress Mine.”Vows
Vows. Eep!Ring_1
Ring.Ring_2
Ring.Kiss
Kiss. Very happy now.Sword_arch_1
Sword_arch_2
Recessing through my longsword dance team’s sword arch.Right_after

Right after the ceremony. Totally manic.Gi_after_posed
No words are necessary.Gi_rebecca_big_chair
With our officiant Rebecca (the friend who introduced us), in the Stonecutter’s chair.Dinner_line
In line for dinner. Everyone looks so colorful! We told our guests to wear glamorous and festive attire, and they came through in trumps.Kids
Awwww… (The adults are Jenine and Kristine; the moppets are Katy, Lexy, and Seneca.)Mark_tom_big_chair
Mark and Tom, patriarchs of The Fez Family.Nilos_chris
Nilos and Kris.Russ_toast
Russ (Ingrid’s Dad), giving his toast.Dick_toast
Dick (my dad) and his toast.Judy_and_lori_toast
Ingrid’s mom Judy and her partner Lori, also known as the co-madres or the “mothers-in-love,” and their toast.Rick_toastbags
My brother Rick’s toast, which involved giving us Chicago White Sox World Series Champion T-shirts.Chip_toast
Chip’s toast.Gi_being_toasted
Us being toasted. Also a really good shot of Ingrid’s hair.
Corrie
Ingrid’s cousin Corrie, and our volunteer wedding co-ordinator. No possible way we could have done this without her.Princess_royal_men
Berkeley Morris (Ingrid’s dance team) doing Princess Royal, traditionally done at weddings.Princess_royal_women
More Princess Royal.Sword
My sword dance team, Stinging Nettle Longsword, dancing “Bryde of Entropie.”Morris
Berkeley Morris, dancing “Four Lane End.” Those are axe handles.Julia_after_morris
Julia, the Morris dancer.Cake
The wedding cake. Lemon meringue. I want some now.Cutting_cake
Cutting the cake. One of the few things we did just because it’s traditional.Day_of_dead_cake_toppers
Our Day of the Dead cake toppers.
1st_waltz_1
The first dance. (Not counting the Morris and sword dancing, of course…) We danced it to a waltz tune our friend Tim wrote for us for the wedding, called “Newsom’s Twosome.”1st_waltz_2
More 1st waltz.
Ecd1
English country dancing.Ecd2
More English country dancing.Ecd4
And still more English country dancing. I wrote this dance for the wedding, as a wedding gift to Ingrid. It’s called “With Whom To Dance,” danced to the tune of the Magnetic Fields song of the same name.
Ecd3
The last waltz.Alan_and_naomi_waltz
Alan and Naomi.Ben_robert_waltz
Ben and Robert.James_cathleen_waltz
James and Cathleen.Jocelyn_and_peter_waltz
Jocelyn and Peter.Jonathan_and_jenny_waltz
Jonathan and Jenny. (Jonathan is wearing his Willie Wonka costume.)Kalia_victoria_waltz
Kalia and Victoria.Mark_ton_waltz
Mark and Tom.Nilos_and_anita_waltz
Nilos and Anita.Rob_marian_waltz
Rob and Marian.Ruth_lise_waltz
Ruth and Lise.Steve_jen_waltz
Steve and Jen.The_very_last_photo
The very last wedding photo of the evening. We have never been more exhausted in our lives.

The Aging Slut

FishnetsIt’s not just about clothes.

Although a lot of it is about clothes.

Here’s what I want to know: How do you dress like, act like, be like, a sexy slut, when you’re in your mid-forties? What about in your fifties? Your sixties?

SelmaThe sexy slutty clothes I used to love so much just don’t look good on me now. I don’t know if it’s that my body’s different, or my personality, or what. But ripped fishnets and miniskirts and skimpy tops don’t make me look like a punk rock waif any more. They make me look like an aging tramp.

And I don’t know why that is — or whether I’m okay with it.

Beauty_mythIs it just cultural standards, mainstream perceptions of what makes women sexy, blah blah blah? Because if it is, then fuck that. I didn’t pay attention to the beauty myth when it told me that fat women weren’t sexy, or that dykey women weren’t sexy – so why should I pay attention when it tells me that middle-aged women aren’t sexy, and I should just shroud myself in Land’s End and call it a day?

But what if it’s something else? What if it’s me that’s a different person — with a different character and different ways of seeing my sexuality — and the old ways of displaying my sexuality don’t actually represent who I am now?

I think it might be. At least partly.

Which brings me to my next question: What represents my sexuality now? How is my sexuality different at 44 than it was at 25 or 32 – and how do I dress and act in a way that’s authentic to who I am now?

FishingSome of it is that I’m married now, and while I’m in a non-monogamous marriage and thus theoretically still available for a fling, in practice I’m not chasing tail with nearly the same verve I did when I was younger. So even though I still want to dress with sex in mind, it’s because I’m a very sexual person and I want to be true to that – not because I’m trying to bait the hook.

Snape_1Some of it is that I’ve been on a downward slide on the Kinsey scale lately. Ingrid apart, I’ve been in a phase where I’m paying more attention to guys than to women. (And before you ask, the Alan Rickman/Snape fetish is only part of that
) And while I feel pretty confident about my attractiveness to other dykes, my experience has been that men tend to be, not more picky exactly, but less likely to be attracted to unconventionally attractive women – and so as I get older, I feel a lot less sexually confident with them. (That actually makes me feel better about this whole question, since a downward slide on the Kinsey scale is almost certainly a phase that’ll pass.)

ElbowAnd some of it is that I don’t feel the same about my body as I did when I was younger. My body is crankier, harder to take care of, both more fragile and more demanding. When I’m feeling my never-quite healed elbow and my bad knee, my allergies and my asthma, when I’m watching my cholesterol or scheduling a colonoscopy, it’s harder to feel like my body is a gorgeous, well-oiled machine that I want to parade all over town.

Sarah_wiggumBut some of it is more complicated than that, more fucked-up. I don’t feel the same now about my body, not just because of how it feels, but because of how other people see it. I hate that that’s true, but it is. When I see myself through my own eyes, I see a smart, sexy, fun, adventurous bi-dyke slut who can bench press 60 pounds. But when I see myself through the eyes of the world as a whole, I see a chubby middle-aged lady.

I want to dress in a way that challenges that. I want to dress in a way that reclaims my sexual power. But I want to do it in a way that doesn’t make me look, or feel, pathetic and desperate.

And I’m not sure how to do that.

Any thoughts? How do you age gracefully without giving up on sex and sexiness? If you’re dealing with this and have ideas about it; if you have lovers or sex partners who are dealing with this and you have ideas about it; or if you just have opinions about it; I want to hear about it.

Shortbus — my complete review

Shortbus1_1So Adult Friend Finder magazine has given me permission to run my review of “Shortbus” (the original, unedited version) here on my blog now, without waiting the usual 90 days. So here it is. Enjoy!

The Holy Grail Is Filled With Lube
by Greta Christina

Shortbus. Starring Raphael Barker, Lindsay Beamish, Justin Bond, Jay Brannan, Paul Dawson, PJ DeBoy, Peter Stickles, and Sook-Yin Lee. Original music by Yo La Tengo. Written by John Cameron Mitchell, in conjunction with the cast. Directed by John Cameron Mitchell. 102 minutes. Unrated. Opens October 4 in New York, October 6 in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Shortbus10John Cameron Mitchell has done it.

He’s cracked the code. He’s found the Grail. Best known until now as the director/co-writer/star of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” John Cameron Mitchell has done the thing that it seemed was going to be done in the ’70s but never quite happened; the thing that those of us who care about sex and movies have been hoping for decades would happen but never really expected to see.

Shortbus9He’s made a movie — a regular, non-porno, arthouse-circuit, movie-type movie — with real sex. Explicit, non-faked, “actors actually doing it” sex. Lots of it, not just a scene or two. And he’s made it good. The smart, funny, engaging, “stay up ’til two in the morning talking about it” kind of good. Serious, top-notch, deserving of many awards good.

And now nobody else can ever again say that it can’t be done.

Shortbus5“Shortbus” is unquestionably about sex. I mean, come on — the working title was “The Sex Film Project.” But it’s not about sex in the way that, say, “Debbie Does Dallas” is about sex. It’s about sex in the way that “The Godfather” is about the Mafia, the way “Babette’s Feast” is about food. Sex is the hook, the peg to hang the ideas on. It isn’t so much about sex as it is about what sex means, how people use it, what place it has in our lives. It isn’t so much about sex as it is about the problem of intimacy — the problem of how to connect with other people without losing yourself.

Shortbus14It digs into that question through seven main characters, who intertwine and intersect at a New York sex club/art salon called Shortbus. There’s Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee), a couples’ counselor/sex therapist, who’s never had an orgasm and fakes it dramatically with her husband. There’s Rob (Raphael Barker), Sofia’s sensitive and supportive husband, who has no job or direction — or indeed life — of his own. There’s Jamie (PJ DeBoy), a former TV child star with an unsettling attachment to his old TV catch phrase, who can’t let go of his former fame and who wants more than anything to “love everyone in the world.” There’s James (Paul Dawson), Jamie’s lover, a former hustler, who’s obsessively filming his life for the lover he’s getting increasingly detached from. There’s Ceth, pronounced Seth (Jay Brannan), a dishy young model in constant search of a husband, who hooks up with Jamie and James — and leaps giddily to the assumption that the two of them are the husband for him. There’s Caleb (Peter Stickles), a quietly creepy freelance proofreader who stalks/spies on Jamie and James and has become scarily obsessed with their relationship. And there’s Severin (Lindsay Beamish), a professional dominatrix and amateur artist, a woman with perceptive and profound insight into other people’s lives and problems — and an equally profound inability to connect with those people in a way that’s anything other than confrontational.

Shortbus11And right from the beginning, you see these people’s characters — and their neuroses — sketched out in their sex lives. Sofia and Rob, who look like a perfect couple from a Gap commercial, start the movie having wild porn-star sex in every position in the Kama Sutra, followed by a smug little post-coital chat about how great their life is. (Sofia actually says, “I feel sorry for couples who don’t have what we have.”) But we soon find out that Sofia’s not getting off and is faking it so Rob won’t leave her… and a bit later on, we learn that Rob isn’t getting the one thing he needs to wake him up sexually and make him feel connected. James starts the movie masturbating into his mouth on camera, for the film he’s making for Jamie… but when Jamie comes home and wants to make love, James turns him away. Meanwhile, Caleb is watching James jerk off — actually, he’s watching James filming himself jerking off — through a telephoto camera lens from a neighboring building. Ceth starts his stretch of the movie using a hand-held electronic dating-service device to try to meet guys… while he’s at the Shortbus sex club and art salon, surrounded by amazing people of all genders and preferences. And Severin is half-heartedly whipping the ass of a smug trust-fund hipster who keeps pressing her with nosy questions that seem profound and probing on the surface but are actually glib and meaningless.

Now, the thing that strikes you right off the bat about the sex in “Shortbus” isn’t just what a natural facet of the characters it is. What strikes you about the sex in “Shortbus” is how natural it is, period — how authentic it feels, how much it looks like real human sex.

Shortbus13I mean, if you’ve heard anything about this film, you’ve heard that it’s the Real Sex movie. And even if you’ve seen a lot of porn, you might expect to be somewhat startled by that, either shocked or titillated or both. But the very explicitness of the sex actually makes it less jarring. In most non-porn movies, when you see someone naked, it’s so fleeting — and so out-of-place — that you can’t help but be jolted out of the narrative while you stare at their goodies. But in “Shortbus,” the nudity and the sex are so upfront, so un-selfconscious, and such a fluid part of the story, that you almost immediately stop being surprised by it. The sex in “Shortbus” doesn’t push you away from the characters, to drool over them from a voyeuristic distance — it draws you in, to identify with the characters and care about them.

Shortbus3_2And I think because of this, the sex doesn’t get used as a symbol of the characters and their strengths or flaws. In most movies, good sex and bad sex are handed out like lollipops or spankings — rewards or punishments for being the right or wrong kind of person. But in “Shortbus,” bad sex isn’t a finger-wagging punishment for being neurotic and troubled. It’s just one aspect of a neurotic and troubled life. The sex isn’t a consequence of these people’s lives. It’s part of their lives. It isn’t separate.

Shortbus6There are so many examples of this, and I could gas on at great length about every single one. But my favorite is the remote control vibrator. After going to the Shortbus sex club on her own, Sofia brings Rob along — along with a remote control vibrating egg, the egg portion of which she tucks into her panties, and the control portion of which she hands to her husband. The idea is that they’ll wander around the party on their own, but when he wants to connect with her, he can give her a little remote control buzz, and she’ll feel it and know that it’s his touch.

But Rob is distracted and uncomfortable at the party, and he sticks the remote in his back pocket and pretty much forgets about it. He does set it off, several times — but he does it by accident, without even knowing he’s doing it, leaning against a door or flopping down on a sofa. Eventually he loses the remote… and it gets picked up by someone else at the party, who tries to flip channels on the TV with it.

Shortbus15So Sofia keeps thinking that Rob is sending her happy little sexy “I love you” messages by remote control… but in fact, he’s not. He’s in his own little world, and isn’t really thinking about her at all. And the buzzes keep going off at exactly the wrong moment, interrupting connections and conversations that Sofia’s having with other people, turning moments of genuine intimacy into awkward erotic faux pas. Once Sofia discovers that Rob has lost the remote, every shred of her therapy-speak “own your own feelings” relationship style gets blown into shrapnel. She flies into a rage — probably the most honest and direct communication she’s had with Rob in ages — and smashes the egg into pieces.

In other words, the device that’s meant to create a loving and sexy connection between them winds up just being sexual static — the illusion of a connection without a real connection — that gets in the way of any closeness they might have with other people, without fostering any intimacy between the two of them.

Kind of like their marriage.

Shortbus7That may sound depressing and grim. But “Shortbus” is anything but. It’s a serious movie, yes, and at times it’s fucking tragic. But it’s also funny and clever, touching and sexy, engaging and sweet. And it’s hopeful. This is actually one of the things I like best about the movie — it’s positive about sex, without being deluded about it. It doesn’t pretend that good people will always be rewarded with happy sex; it doesn’t pretend that all sexual problems are easily solved with the right toy or technique or even the right partner; it doesn’t pretend that sex will save the world. It acknowledges how complicated sex is, how wrong it can go, how badly it can hurt when it goes wrong. It sees all that — and it still sees sex as joyful, and necessary, and worth trying to do right. It sees sex as an essential form of human connection — and it sees human connection as worth doing, maybe the only thing worth doing, even when it’s difficult and frustrating and doesn’t go right.

Shortbus8I could go on an on. This could easily have been a five-thousand word movie review, and I’d still have felt like I had more to say. I could talk about the recurring theme of documentation and self-documentation: how everyone in the movie is filming and photographing themselves and each other, so busy trying to connect through art and technology that they wind up making themselves distant and self-conscious. (Like having your primary form of connection with the world involve sitting at a computer by yourself at two in the morning telling everyone what to think, just for example…)

I could talk about how non-simplistic that theme is, how the movie isn’t just a heavy-handed ironic screed about the isolation of the modern world. I could talk about how the tools people use to connect in the movie do sometimes help them connect, even when they’re crossing their wires… and how the crossed wires sometimes turn into real connections.

Shortbus12I could talk about how, unlike almost every other movie ever made about love and sex, “Shortbus” doesn’t view every dissolved relationship as an unredeemed tragedy. I could talk about how rare it is for a movie to acknowledge that some relationships make people unhappy — even good people who are trying their best — and that sometimes a break-up is the beginning of a happy ending.

I could talk about the fact that all the jobs the main characters have — actor, model, sex worker, proofreader, therapist — are all jobs that are about communication and connection… and yet are also about keeping a leash on self-expression, molding the face you present into something other people need.

Shortbus4I could talk at great length about the repeated theme of boundaries and boundariless-ness: the delicate balance between too much distance and not enough, the question of how to keep reasonable boundaries without building impenetrable walls, and how to let the world penetrate you without losing your own skin.

I could talk at very great length about how fluid sexual identity is in the movie, and how naturally people from different sexual identity groups connect and interact. The lesbians and gay men and straight people all have their little worlds; but this is a modern American city, and these worlds all overlap, and these people all know each other. This is actually one of the most striking things about “Shortbus,” and it’s a little depressing to realize how unusual it is. There’s no Gay Best Friend in an otherwise totally straight movie; there’s not the One Lesbian Couple at the party, or the Tranny Comic Relief who shows up for five minutes to be laughed at and disappear. There’s just gay men and lesbians and straight folks and bi folks and transfolk, and they all know each other and like each other and irritate each other and get tangled in each other’s lives. You know — like real life, in any major city anywhere in the Western world.

Shortbus2_1I could talk about the fact that, for once in my goddamn life as a movie viewer, I didn’t feel insulted by the depiction of sadomasochists. I could talk about how sadomasochism isn’t used as a sign of evil or craziness or misery in “Shortbus,” but is shown as just another way to be sexual, with its own special pleasures and complications, and as much potential for trouble and joy as any other way.

I could talk about how the movie seems much longer than it is — not because it’s dull or sloppy, but because there’s so much going on. The movie is so rich, with so much nuance and complexity and detail, that it doesn’t seem possible that it all got packed into just 102 minutes.

Shortbus16And I could talk about the places where the movie doesn’t quite work — the false notes, the plot turns that feel forced, the character developments that don’t seem plausible. There are undoubtedly a few of these: the therapist who smacks her client in the face and then spills out the details of her fucked-up sex life; the clients who then invite her to the sex club; the voyeur/stalker who turns out to be just another caring guy who needs love and connection. The dead body in the Jacuzzi that nobody notices until they bump into it. That sort of thing. “Shortbus” is not a perfect movie, and I like and respect it too much to pretend that it is.

Shortbus17Because this is much better than a perfect movie. This is a great movie. This is a true movie. This is a unique movie. And this is an important movie. This is a movie about sex that’s explicit, not just in the standard sense of the word, but in every sense. It tells the truth about sex, as clearly and precisely and honestly as it can.

And that, all by itself, makes it invaluable.

Shortbus: The Holy Grail Is Filled With Lube

Shortbus1John Cameron Mitchell has done it.

He’s cracked the code. He’s found the Grail. Best known until now as the director/co-writer/star of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” John Cameron Mitchell has done the thing that it seemed was going to be done in the ’70s but never quite happened; the thing that those of us who care about sex and movies have been hoping for decades would happen but never really expected to see.

Shortbus2He’s made a movie — a regular, non-porno, arthouse-circuit, movie-type movie — with real sex. Explicit, non-faked, “actors actually doing it” sex. Lots of it, not just a scene or two. And he’s made it good. The smart, funny, engaging, “stay up ’til two in the morning talking about it” kind of good. Serious, top-notch, deserving of many awards good.

And now nobody else can ever again say that it can’t be done.

Shortbus3Thus begins my review of “Shortbus” — a movie I’m tremendously excited about — which just got posted to the Adult Friend Finder magazine. Lately I’ve been putting my Adult Friend Finder reviews in their entirety here on my blog — but my contract with AFF says I have to wait 60 days to do that, and since the movie opens this weekend, I thought y’all would want to read it now. I’m not ecstatic with the editing on it, and I’ll almost certainly post the original version in its entirety here at some point… but in the meantime I’ll tell you that you absolutely cannot miss this movie. If you care about sex and movies, you have to make seeing it a high priority. And I’ll leave you with how I closed my review:

Shortbus_4This is much better than a perfect movie. This is a great movie. This is a true movie. This is a unique movie. And this is an important movie. This is a movie about sex that’s explicit, not just in the standard sense of the word, but in every sense. It tells the truth about sex, as clearly and precisely and honestly as it can.

And that, all by itself, makes it invaluable.

Sixteen Candles: The Rep. Foley Scandal

Mark_foleyWell, the main thing I was going to say about the Rep. Foley teenage boy dirty text message argle-bargle, Susie Bright has already said, and better than I would have. The upshot: Congress just abolished habeas corpus and legitimized torture, and the story got buried with the department store ads (the SF Chronicle put it on Page 3). But a gay teenage sex scandal in Congress — that’s the lead story everywhere, our top story tonight, front page above the fold, and probably will be for days. (Except for the Chron. The headline story in today’s Chron was the Michelin guide giving three stars to only one Bay Area restaurant in its new Bay Area guide. You kind of have to love the Chron sometimes. Foley did make Page 1 — just not above the fold.)

So here, instead, is the other thing I want to say about the Foley scandal.

*****

SixteenI was sixteen when I first had sex. (According to how I defined it at the time, anyway.) I had it with an adult, a man in his thirties. More than once, in fact: the affair lasted roughly a month and a half.

And while I don’t think the guy covered himself with glory, I also don’t feel that I was molested. My memories of the experience aren’t stellar, but they fall into the “stupid decision/learning experience” category — not the “invasive violation/abuse of power” category. I think the guy was a schmuck, but I don’t think he was a predator, and I don’t think he was a pedophile.

CongressBefore you flip out and hit the comment button, let me be very clear — I’m not trying to defend Foley. There’s a lot of stuff Foley did that the guy I’m talking about didn’t do. As far as I know, the guy I fucked didn’t make a habit of going for teenagers on a regular basis. He wasn’t aggressive or forward about pursuing teenagers, including me. He wasn’t taking advantage of political power and status to pursue teenagers — he didn’t really have any to speak of. And, of course, he didn’t head up a Congressional caucus on protecting teenagers from people like him. Foley is a Grade A asshole, and I’m watching his fall with shameless, gleeful Schadenfreude. As Molly Ivins once said, Mama may have raised a mean child, but she didn’t raise no hypocrites.

JusticeAnd let me be very clear as well — I support the idea of age of consent laws. They’re never going to be perfect — no matter where you draw it, there are always going to be people under the line who are ready for sex, and people over the line who aren’t — but I get that that’s what laws are like. I do think age of consent laws need to be tinkered with (I personally support a three-tiered system, in which under a certain age you’re off-limits, between certain ages it’s only okay with people close to your age, and over a certain age you’re fair game), but I think the basic idea is sound.

BritneyMy point is this. When we talk about the Foley scandal, I think we need to be extremely careful about we’re getting irate about. I don’t want to reflexively join in the hysterical chorus about pedophilia and molestation and “won’t somebody please think of the children?” There’s a big difference between having a thing for 16-year-olds and having a thing for, say, 12-year-olds. Having a thing for 16-year-olds makes you a chicken-hawk — but it doesn’t make you a pedophile. (If it did, everyone who watched the Britney Spears naughty-schoolgirl video with lust in their heart is a pedophile.) In particular, lots of gay men had their first sexual experience as teenagers, with older men — and lots of those teenagers had warm, positive feelings about the experience, and continue to have those good feelings into adulthood. A good case could be made that adults having sex with 16-year-olds should be against the law, and a good case could certainly be made that it’s creepy and fucked-up — but it doesn’t make you an evil despoiler of innocent children.

No, what makes Foley evil is the hypocrisy. What makes Foley evil is that he made political hash out of Scary Disgusting Sexual Predators On The Internet Who Are Trying To Seduce Your Children… while he was using the Internet to try to seduce teenage boys.

And what makes his Republican compatriots evil — more evil than Foley, I would argue — is that they apparently knew about the Foley thing and covered it up… while they’ve been busy frothing at the mouth about those awful liberals who supposedly want to protect criminals and terrorists.

By, you know, granting them habeas corpus and stuff.