A seriously classy gig: Hastings Women’s Law Journal 2006 “Sex and Reproduction” Symposium

HastingsThis is one of the coolest, classiest speaking engagements I’ve done to date. The Hastings Women’s Law Journal is having a symposium on sex and reproduction law this Wednesday… and because of my book “Paying For It: A Guide by Sex Workers for Their Clients,” I’m going to be on the panel discussing sex workers. (Hastings, in case you’re not familiar with it, is one of two law schools in the Bay Area connected with the University of California, and is the oldest law school in the state. So this is a serious goddamn gig.)

PayingcoverbigIt’s a little daunting — after all, I’m not anything resembling an expert in sex work law. But I told the organizers that, and they said that was fine: they already have legal experts, and they want my perspective on the effects of sex work laws on the day-to-day working lives of sex workers. Which I now do seem to be an expert in. What with the book and all.

Best of all, I just found out that the event is open to the public. So if a scholarly symposium on sex and reproduction law is your cup of tea, do come check it out. It’s going to be Wednesday, February 15, starting shortly after 4:00. There will be two panels before the one on sex work; one on same-sex parenting at 4:30, and one on late-term abortion and disability law at 5:30. The sex worker panel begins at 6:30; there will be a reception afterwards. It’s in San Francisco, at 198 McAllister, room A, on the first floor.

For this particular gig, friends and family are requested not to bring giant foam rubber “We’re Number One” hands and shout “Woot, woot!” Thank you for your co-operation.

The oddest interview yet

Bannerinterviews_1It was with RomanceJunkies.com.

No, really. I was as surprised to be asked as you probably are to hear about it. But it seems that the world of romance novels and the world of erotica are beginning to overlap quite a bit. Romance novels are apparently getting more and more explicit — many of them are essentially becoming erotica. And romance novel readers and reviewers are paying more attention to barefaced porn, and paying attention more openly and unabashedly — especially if it’s written by women.

ThreekindsbigSo when “Three Kinds of Asking For It” came out, (for those of you just tuning in, that’s a collection of three erotic novellas edited by Susie Bright, one of which is mine), this website called RomanceJunkies.com asked me for an interview. It just recently went up…

…and it’s one of the oddest, most interesting interviews I’ve done.

Not because it’s with a romance novel website. Because of the interview itself. The interview is a melange of serious questions about my writing career, personal questions about my life and hobbies… and almost surreastically random questions about what kind of food I like, what my favorite appliance was, and whether I was right- or left-handed. And although they were interviewing me because of my erotica (and had reviewed “Three Kinds” earlier), they never once asked me about sex or erotic writing. In fact, they edited out my comment about the Hitachi Magic Wand in the appliance question.

Anyway. Odd, interesting interview. Check it out on their website. Enjoy!

Porn and Musicals: An Analogy

Topsecret_2So I was watching a movie musical on TV (actually, I was watching “Top Secret,” which has a sequence making fun of movie musicals), and it occurred to me that there’s an interesting similarity between musicals and porn.

Here’s what it is: Nobody watches musicals for their plot. With some notable exceptions, the plot of a musical exists solely as filler: to provide some sort of excuse for the music/dance numbers, and to get from one number to the next. And of course, the same is true for most porn. There are exceptions, of course; but in the overwhelming majority of porn, the plot — if there even is a plot — exists solely to set up the sex scenes.

So here’s what strikes me as unfair. Nobody really objects to plotless movie musicals. Many a musical ranks high in the pantheon among fans of the genre despite its laughably predictable story. As long as the music and dance numbers are superb, people are perfectly happy to grant full marks to a musical, even if the plot is a dumb, hackneyed, formulaic joke.

SlidebimeBut people constantly use the plotlessness of porn to point out its worthlessness or triviality. And I don’t think that’s fair. If you think “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” is a great musical despite its silly plot, then you should judge “Barbara Broadcast” or “Slide Bi Me” on the same basis. If a porn movie has great sex scenes — sex scenes that are passionate, enthusiastic, affectionate, fierce, beautiful, wild, or in any other way inspired and inspiring — then it makes no more sense to lambaste the thinness of its plot than it does with “Gold Diggers of 1935.”

After all, I’d sure rather see a porn movie with great sex and a dumb, pointless plot than one with a great plot and dumb, pointless sex. In fact, my biggest complaint about mainstream video porn isn’t the repetitive, predictable, formulaic plots — it’s the repetitive, predictable, formulaic sex. I have actually seen porn videos where I’ve fast-forwarded through the boring sex in order to get to the next bit of interesting plot. And I don’t count those videos as successes.

CabaretNow, it’s certainly true that a good, genuine plot can help a musical along. I’d even argue that it usually makes the difference between a good musical and a great one. A good movie musical can certainly carry itself on the strength of its music and dancing — but a great musical, a musical like “Cabaret” or “The Music Man” (or, I would argue, “Once More With Feeling” from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), is great because it’s a whole movie, a real movie, a movie that transcends the limitations of the genre even as it embraces it, a movie that expresses something other than “Singing and dancing is fun.”

And porn is much the same way. The rare examples of truly great porn are, in my opinion, the ones that work as whole movies, the ones where the sex is blended into the story as a natural next step for the characters to take, and you care about the sex more because you care about the characters. I agree that that’s a noble goal to reach for, and I’d love to see more pornographers reaching for it. But it’s also an extremely difficult goal, especially given the limitations of porn production (see my review of “Dream Quest” and my comments about the inherent difficulties of a collaborative porn medium). I applaud it heartily when I see it… but I applaud almost as hard when I see a series of vastly entertaining sex scenes, stitched together with a bit of dental floss.

Porn and Sex Toys: Amusing Opinions and Top Whatever Lists

So I was writing my year-end “Top Five Sex Products” piece for my online magazine column, when I realized that I’ve been writing this column for the last ten months and have neglected to actually mention it to y’all.

Oops. My bad.

Here’s the deal. I’ve been writing an every-other-week column since March 2005, reviewing porn and sex toys and such for the Adult Friend Finder magazine. (Adult Friend Finder is sort of like Friendster, but for sex.) I’m enjoying the gig hugely. They’re a cool magazine, with other good writers; they give me a lot of leeway to write what I want to write, in the style I want to write it in (within the column’s basic parameters, of course); the editor is easy to deal with and clear about what she wants — and they pay like Swiss clockwork, which, as any writer will tell you, keeps the creative spirit flowing like nothing else in the world.

So here’s a quick index of the columns I’ve written for them (including the Top Five Something-or-Other List), with teasy little pull quotes to give you a flavor of each piece. (FYI, you don’t have to be an AFF member to click these links. You do have to join if you want to surf around and visit the rest of the magazine, but joining is free, so why not.) I’m also putting this index on my Website, in case you want to find it later. Anyway, here goes.

Year End Top Something-or-Other List (Jan 5, 2006)
“I deeply respect the eternal human yearning for the sense of order and completion that year-end Top Whatever lists provide.”

Cheese Factory:
Dream Quest (Jan. 14, 2006)
“See, in the midst of all the zany Tolkein-in-Vegas costumes and sets and makeup jobs, someone forgot to come up with the zany sex.”

Learning Can Be Fun:
Nina Hartley’s Guide to Spanking (Dec. 20, 2005)
“I love it when information makes me want to whack off.”

Is the Pyrex Half Empty or Half Full?
Vibrating Blue Swirl Pyrex Dildo (Dec. 6, 2005)
“There’s nothing that makes you feel more like a sensual, decadent libertine than taking an exquisitely-made art object and sliding it into your lover’s cunt.”

Art or Sex: Pick One:
True Porn 2 and Dirty Stories Volume 3 (Nov. 16, 2005)
“It seems clear that these are meant to be serious comics about sex., not sexy comics about sex. (Well, except for Sam Henderson’s stuff, which nobody would accuse of seriousness — but even his pieces aren’t meant to be sexy.)”

Artburn:
Art School Sluts (Nov. 4, 2005)
“I had no idea that watching a girl with dyed black hair in Japanese rope bondage getting spanked by a guy in a Mohawk could be anywhere near this boring.”

Shock Treatment:
Electric Paddle (Oct. 21, 2005)
“Yes, it looks doofy as hell. It looks like a racquet from a cheap backyard badminton set. You just have to get over that.”

Playing the Race Card:
Caribbean Heat (Oct. 1, 2005)
“Unlike most adult videos with a non-white cast, this movie treats its Latino characters like… well, like characters.”

Try, Try Again:
The Butterfly Effect (Sep. 13, 2005)
“It was surprisingly liberating to have a vibrator that just went about its business without me having to screw around with it.”

Mighty Real:
9 Songs (Aug. 30, 2005)
“By the second or third scene, the fact that they’re having sex is no more surprising than the fact that any two people in a relationship are having sex.”
(P.S. Yes, unlike every other critic in this or any other universe, I actually did like “9 Songs” a fair amount.)

High-Speed Wireless:
Wireless Vibrating Nipple Clamps (Aug. 29, 2005)
“I could jerk myself off, or fondle my partner, or just keep my hands submissively behind my back… all without having to carry around some stupid battery pack.”

More Talk, Less Rock:
Orgasm! Faces of Ecstasy (August 11, 2005)
“Maybe I’m too bourgeois in my sensibilities, but it seems to me that a ‘making of the video’ video shouldn’t be three times as long as the actual video itself.”

A Hankerin’ For Some Spankerin':
Spank Me: The Art of the Spirit (July 28, 2005)
“This is erotic art with nothing at all to say apart from ‘Girls getting spanked are hot.'”

Fashion Police:
The Fashionistas (July 13, 2005)
“It’s that rarest of gems, a porn plot that makes the sex more interesting by making you care about who’s fucking and why.”

Gag Order:
Rubber Penis Gag w/Airway, a.k.a. Inflatable Rubber Gag with Breathing Tube (July 13, 2005)
“I like this sex toy because I have chronic allergies. No, really.”

Comic Relief:
Casual Sex Comics (May 31, 2005)
“Comic artist El Bute has an eye for the casual encounter that means something: the slight acquaintance who winds your balls into a twist, the complete stranger who makes you stop dead in the street.”

Finger on the Pulse:
Pulse-Right Bullet Vibe and On Porpoise Sleeve (May 21, 2005)
“When I was whimpering and writhing and begging for it to stop, I was also spreading my legs as wide apart as I could, which I suppose casts some doubt on the sincerity of my pleas…”

For Better or Worse:
Taboo: Forbidden Fantasies for Couples (May 6, 2005)
“‘Taboo’ is so interestingly uneven that you could almost use it in a writing class, an object lesson in what makes porn fiction work — and what doesn’t.”

When Art Porn Works:
Ecstasy in Berlin 1926 (Apr. 28, 2005)
“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.”

Hide and Seek:
Dirty Found Magazine, issue #1 (Apr. 13, 2005)
“Dirty Found is like a secret spy camera in a motel room, like being a fly on the wall in dozens of bedrooms at once.”

Ramp It Up, I’ll Take It:
The Ramp (Mar. 26, 2005)
“When I bent over the Ramp for the first time, I was immediately filled with a warm, glowing sense of well-being and the rightness of the universe.”

Throat Culture:
Inside Deep Throat (Mar. 16, 2005)
“My personal favorite was the grandmotherly old lady coming out of the porn theater, saying firmly and with great spirit, ‘Yes, I enjoyed it. I wanted to see a dirty movie, and I saw a dirty movie. I should have the right to do that if I want.'”

Home is Where the Naked Girls Are:
Stripped Naked (Mar. 4, 2005)
“They seem like real people, with real personalities, real sex lives, real pleasures and kinks. And consequently, they seem like women you could actually fuck.”

The Adult Friend Finder magazine has also been kind enough to do some interviews with me, on the occasion of the publication of my books. They’re good interviews, with smart questions that I actually had to think about before answering. Check them out.

The Bent World of Greta Christina, Part 1, Jun 28, 2005
“I had this strong visual image in my head of a woman bending over, with this very insistent, hungry quality to her. Everything else grew out of that image.”

The Bent World of Greta Christina, Part 2, July 13, 2005
“Writing smut is like digging down into the bones and muscles of my libido, and while that’s difficult, it’s also exhilarating. I want more.”

Paying For It (Behind the Scenes), Feb. 26, 2005
“I didn’t just want to talk to regular customers of prostitutes and pro dominants — I wanted to talk to folks who go to strip clubs now and then, or who like to check out interactive Webcam porn, or who might hire a stripper for a birthday party.”

Watch this space for future developments. And have fun!

Come listen to me talk dirty!

Payingcoversmall
Come listen to me talk dirty! (I know, like that’s such a rarity…)

I’m going to be doing a reading this Friday, December 16, along with three other writers from my book “Paying For It”: Carol Queen, Cleo DuBois, and Roxie Rosales. We’ll be reading bits from our chapters in “Paying For It” — plus we’ll be doing readings from our other sex writing as well. So there should be a fun, entertaining variety of dirty talk, from a fun, entertaining variety of dirty women.

Details: The event will be at the Femina Potens gallery, at 465 South Van Ness in San Francisco (between 15th and 16th, just a block and a half from the 16th and Mission BART station). All four readers in the event contributed to “Paying For It: A Guide by Sex Workers for Their Clients,” the book I edited of advice for sex customers written by sex workers and former sex workers. The event is part of the “Sizzle” series, a monthly series of erotic open mic nights at Femina Potens. Admission is very cheap at $5.00, or $3.00 if you sign up for the open mic. It’s this Friday, December 16, starting at 8pm.

Here’s some info on the lineup:

Carol Queen’s newest book is “Whipped! Stories of Dominant Women.” She’s the author of several books, including “The Leather Daddy and the Femme” and “Real Live Nude Girl.” She works at Good Vibrations and is the founding director of the Center for Sex and Culture, but before all that, she was a call girl.

Cleo DuBois is a renowned BDSM educator, ritualist, personal trainer in the kinky arts and educational video maker. She currently writes a monthly leather column for Alt.com. Her Academy of SM Arts, created in 1995, is in its third year of offering Erotic Dominance Intensive Weekends for Women and its second year of offering Dominance Intensive Weekends for Men. Her skills in SM, bondage play, safety, and communication reflect her sense of humanity and respect for others’ erotic sensibilities.

Roxie Rosales is a performance artist, writer, and dancer whose work strives to implode classic and modern form and create social change. She has contributed to Girlfriends Magazine, The San Diego Gay and Lesbian Times, and of course, “Paying for It.” A former stripper and sex worker, she now spends most of her time writing and dancing with her clothes on. Currently she teaches pole dancing classes at Good Vibrations and other venues around town, and is re-starting her pole dancing performance group. Rosales is a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Literature Program. She lives in San Francisco.

Greta Christina (that’s me!) is editor of the collection “Paying For It: A Guide by Sex Workers for Their Clients.” She is also the author of the erotic novella “Bending,” which appeared in the three-novella collection “Three Kinds of Asking For It” edited by Susie Bright for Simon & Schuster and published in 2005. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Ms., Penthouse, and the Skeptical Inquirer, as well as several anthologies, including Best American Erotica 2005. She has worked as a stripper, a pornographer, an order-taker for a phone sex company, the buyer for a mail-order sex products catalog, and the personal ad manager for a gay newspaper — all of which she considers sex work.

Okay, I’m done talking about myself in the third person now. Do come down to the reading and say howdy if you can. Hope to see you there!

Porn: Visual or Written? Also, my book is out!

So I’m writing this essay about the differences between visual erotica and written erotica, and I wanted to spew about it here for a bit. As a long-time sex writer, I’ve always felt faintly guilty about the fact that I usually prefer visual smut to the written variety. It’s not that I don’t enjoy and appreciate good sex writing — I do — but it’s often more of an aesthetic or cultural appreciation. When it comes to actually getting off, I almost always head for the dirty pictures or videos.

I’m just so very picky about written porn. It’s rare to find erotic stories that are as well-written as I want them to be, *and* that hit my own particular erotic buttons (which are very particular indeed). Compared to my own sex fantasies, I almost always find other people’s dirty stories a bit disappointing.

And visual porn has this immediacy that I really like. Photos and videos especially: I like the fact that the camera is capturing real people doing real sexual things. It makes it very visceral, and easier for me to suck into my own fantasy world.

But obviously this is very much a matter of taste. After all, I’m a porn/erotica/smut writer myself, so I obviously think sex writing is a pretty cool thing, with potential to be arousing both sexually and otherwise. And it’s not like I’ve never been turned on by a dirty story. There are a few that live in mind and my libido years after having read them. (“The Hit” by Aaron Travis comes to mind…)

So I’m curious about how this works for other people. What do you think? What are the differences for you between written and visual porn? If you enjoy porn, which do you prefer? Or do you prefer comics, with its elements of each? And why?

P.S. My new book is out! My erotic novella, Bending, has just been published as part of the three-novella collection Three Kinds of Asking For It, edited by Susie Bright and published by Simon & Schuster. “Bending” is an erotic novella about a woman who is sexually fixated on being bent over. More broadly, it’s about obsession and what happens when you finally get enough of the thing you’ve been craving.

Three Kinds of Asking For It is in stores (both the physical and the online variety) right now. I’ll blog more about it in a few days: in the meantime, you can go to my Website to read an excerpt from it, or get the details of my book tour. Quickie details on the tour: I’ll be in San Francisco at A Different Light Books on July 7 (with Susie Bright); Los Angeles at Skylight Books on July 16 (with Jill Soloway of “Six Feet Under” and Susie Bright); New York at Bluestockings on July 19 (just me); and Capitola/Santa Cruz at the Capitola Book Cafe on August 3 (with Susie Bright). Come by and say howdy.

Kirkus Reviews and the Hollywood Reporter Say “Make Greta’s Book Into A Movie!”

No, really.

This is probably the most hilarious review I’ve ever gotten.

Here’s the deal. Kirkus Reviews and the Hollywood Reporter apparently team up for a regular series of "books-to-film recommendations" — and my new erotic novella, "Bending" (part of the three-novella collection "Three Kinds of Asking for It" from Simon & Schuster’s Touchstone) recently got listed. It was part of a piece they did on sexy books that might make good movies, ranging from PG-13 to unrated. My book, needless to say, was one of the unrated ones. Here’s what they say:

"If you look carefully, you can find novels whose sexual charge makes them natural movie fodder in nearly every rating category… Contributors Eric Albert and Greta Christina provide an even more inventive pair of sex fantasies in Susie Bright’s latest collection of erotica, ‘Three Kinds of Asking for It’ (Touchstone, $14). A young man’s deal with a witch to make every woman he meets powerless to resist his advances? A young woman who can be satisfied only when she’s bent over and taken from behind? What would L.B. Mayer say?"

If you don’t believe me, see for yourself.

In case you’re wondering why I’m laughing my ass off about this instead of scrambling to find a movie agent, it’s because it’s so unlikely. Don’t get me wrong, I’m immensely proud of "Bending" and I think it’s one of the best things I’ve written — but it’s unbelievably smutty. It’s very sexually explicit; the sex is, shall we say, extreme; and there’s pretty much nothing in it other than sex. With the exception of a sentence here and a paragraph there, every word of the book involves either people having sex, talking about sex, or thinnkig about sex. It’s a little hard to imagine it being made into a movie directed by anyone other than Rocco Siffredi. (Even if the sexual climate were otherwise, it’s hard to imagine "Bending" being made into a movie, since so much of the book consists of internal monologue and mental landscape. Vividly depicted internal monologue and mental landscape, but still.)

But hey. What do I know. Any movie moguls out there who want to take a flyer on "Bending," drop me an email. We’ll do lunch.

P.S. "Three Kinds of Asking for It" comes out at the end of this month. You can get more info about it on my Website.