Spanking for Stagefright

Spank_3I don’t generally expect to get turned on by the New Yorker. But I just read this in the 8/26/06 issue, in John Lahr’s article about stagefright:

“(Carly) Simon has found that physical pain often trumps psychological terror. ‘If you have something that’s hurting you physically, the pain is the hierarchy,’ she said. To that end, she has been known to take the stage in tight boots, to jab her hand with clutched safety pins, and even, just before going on, to ask band members to spank her. At a celebration for President Bill Clinton’s fiftieth birthday, at Radio City Music Hall, in 1996, Simon, terrified of following Smokey Robinson, invited the entire horn section to let her have it. ‘They all took turns spanking me,’ she says. ‘During the last spank the curtain went up. The audience saw the aftermath, the sting on my face. I bet Olivier didn’t do that.'”

Horn_sectionSo does anyone else find this (a) totally hot, and (b) somewhat baffling? I mean, I get that stagefright is freaky-ass stuff, and I get that not everyone obsessively eroticizes spanking the way I do. But if I were suffering from severe stagefright and looking for some physical pain to snap me out of it, I’m not sure that “ask the entire horn section to spank me” would be the solution that would leap to mind.

I’ll have to remember it, though. The next time I do an erotica reading, I’ll have to insist on getting a spanking beforehand to cure my stagefright. Of course, I’ve never suffered from stagefright in my life… but that’ll be our little secret.

Hide and Seek: Dirty Found Magazine, issue #1

Dirty_found_1In my continuing attempt to keep this sex-writer’s blog at least marginally focused on sex, here’s another smut review I wrote for Adult Friend Finder magazine — my review of “Dirty Found” magazine. I do have a couple of rants-in-progress that I was hoping to finish this weekend, but with three parties plus picking up my mother-in-law at the airport, somehow having a life got in the way of writing about it. I promise to be out in the next few days with my rant about people who disrespect science while drooling over exciting techy toys. In the meantime, you’ll just have to settle for porn reviews. Enjoy!

Hide and Seek
by Greta Christina

Dirty Found Magazine, issue #1
Davy Rothbart & Jason Bitner, editors
http://www.foundmagazine.com/
$10.00

I can tell you this for certain: it’s not like any other dirty magazine you’ve seen.

Found_1Here’s what it is. Have you ever heard of Found Magazine? It’s a magazine of “found” art and writing: love letters, to-do lists, snapshots, doodles, diaries, etc. People find stuff on buses, in garage sales, at cafe tables, even just on the street or in the trash — and they send them in to the magazine, which publishes them. It’s a cool thing, a fascinating glimpse into other people’s secret hearts and minds.

Dirty Found is the same thing, but… well, dirty. The letters, the photos, the drawings, the to-do lists, the email printouts… all of them have to do with sex. The photos found tucked into used books show people proudly displaying their naked or half-naked bodies. The drawings found on the street depict naked people, explicit sex, bizarre erotic scenarios. The journal found in the trash pile gives meticulously explicit details about the journal writer’s wildly kinky sex life — and the extreme sex fantasies that even she’s scared of.

Dirty_found_4In a way, it’s like a magazine of amateur porn: like letters written to dirty magazines, or photos published with adult personal ads. But unlike amateur porn, the stuff in Dirty Found wasn’t meant for public consumption. It’s not about what writers or artists or photographers think their audience will find hot. It’s about what ordinary people personally and privately think is hot. It doesn’t show the sex lives people deliberately show to the public — it shows the sex lives people meant to keep to themselves and their lovers. (There’s arguably an ethical problem with making this material public; but the magazine does make an effort to conceal people’s identities, with names blacked out in the writing and bars over the eyes in the photos. Anyway, if people wanted this stuff kept private, they probably shouldn’t have left it lying around.)

So like I said, this is definitely not your grandfather’s porno mag. It’s much more personal than that, more intimate. 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. It’s a peek through a keyhole at the dirty freaky things people do but never tell anyone about; it’s the naughty, nasty, voyeuristic thrill of seeing things you aren’t supposed to see.

At the same time, it’s unbelievably sweet and touching. The photos especially: the people in them look so pleased with themselves, so proud of their bare asses or their sexy underwear or just their cocks and cunts. And it’s so ferociously personal. Seeing these pictures and reading these notes, you almost feel like you’re the one they were meant for. It’s as if you’re the naughty secret lover these folks were thinking of when they scribbled their fantasies in a notebook, like you’re the giggling, dirty-minded boyfriend or girlfriend who snapped the picture when they took off their clothes and spread their legs for the camera.

Dirty_found_3_bedAnd the variety is staggering. There are love notes about sexy moonlit walks, and love notes about vibrators and jacking off. There’s a carefully typed story about watching a neighbor girl undress, and hastily scrawled notes about doing meth and getting gang-banged. There are drawings of women being pissed on, and of medieval gay orgies, and of schoolgirls fucking themselves with high-voltage vibrators. And there are photos. Oh, my God, are there photos. There are photos of naked girls with their legs spread, and of guys in bondage getting enemas; girls on all fours and guys with their hands in their pants; close-ups of hard-ons and close-ups of feet; women in lingerie and men in lingerie; and photo after photo of plain old ordinary happy naked people, in beds or on sofas or God knows where.

My personal favorite is the journal. Several pages of this one journal are reproduced in Dirty Found, the journal of a writer/performance artist/dirty dirty girl that someone found in some New York trash. The journal describes this woman’s kinky sexual adventures with her lover and her fantasies about him, adventures and fantasies that would put many a smut writer to shame. She writes about ordered to dress up like a slut and display her ass, being ordered to lick his asshole and beg to get fucked. She writes about pissing on her lover, and getting pissed on by him, and fucking him with an enema nozzle before she delivers the enema. She writes about the freaky shit fantasies they talk about while they’re fucking, and the even more freaky shit fantasies that she thinks about when she masturbates. (She draws, too, so some of these stories come with illustrations.)

But this is a journal, not a smutty novel… so not everything in it goes right. For instance: She describes a moment where her lover began to beat her bare ass with a belt; but he hit her too high, it was unpleasant and un-erotic, and she made him stop. Now, in a smutty story, this could be jarring, the sort of thing that jolts you out of the fantasy and back into the yucky real world. But here, the real world is the whole point, and the mis-strokes and awkward bits just make the image even more real, more immediate — and therefore, a whole lot more hot. I love what a shameless pervert this woman is, how intense she is about her dirtiness and how much she enjoys it. And I like her style — her journal is unpolished but quite well-written, probably the best-written thing in the whole magazine.

Dirty_found_2_drawingWhich leads me to my next point, and a bit of fair warning. The smut in Dirty Found isn’t professional, and as a result… well, it isn’t professional. The writing is badly spelled and often rather trite; most of the drawings are kind of cheesy; the photos are poorly lit, and the people in them are pretty average-looking for the most part, and their sexy poses are often awkward and less than entirely flattering. I’m not saying this as a criticism — if it were all super-professional and well-made, the magazine wouldn’t be what it is. I just want you to know what to expect. Don’t get Dirty Found expecting slick stories of perfect fantasies, or beautifully lit photos of exquisite models. Get it expecting a sweet, sloppy, vivid, unsettling, funny, tacky, and utterly true picture of what’s going on inside other people’s libidos.

Going Wild: A Feminist’s Defense of the “Girls Gone Wild” Girls

Ggw_doggy_styleIn case you haven’t read this already, Joe Francis, the guy who runs the “Girls Gone Wild” empire, has been revealed by the L.A. Times to be a crazy, abusive, profoundly fucked-up asshole. I don’t actually have a lot to add on that particular topic apart from “Damn, what a crazy, abusive, profoundly fucked-up asshole.” Actually, the phrase “crazy, abusive, profoundly fucked-up asshole” would seem to be an understatement.

EverythingsexBut I do feel somewhat compelled to comment. I wrote a fairly lavish think piece about the “Girls Gone Wild” videos for the big Disinformation anthology Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong (you can read it on my website if you like), and since then, I feel like I’ve become the Feminist Sex Writer Who Thinks The “Girls Gone Wild” Videos Are At Least Somewhat Defensible. So whenever the topic of these videos comes up, I feel like I need to chime in.

What I want to talk about now is not the people who run the “Girls Gone Wild” empire, but the “Girls Gone Wild” videos themselves — and the women who perform in the videos.

And more specifically, I want to talk about what’s being said about the women in the videos.

Ariel_levyThe writing I’ve seen about Girls Gone Wild is largely taking two directions. One is pity/concern for the poor exploited girls who are being taken advantage of when they’re too excited/too young/too drunk to know what they’re doing. The other is pity/contempt for the vulgar idiot girls who are squandering their feminist heritage by pulling their shirts up on camera… and are ruining things for the rest of us.

And I have much the same problem with both. I think there’s more than a whiff of patronization, and elitism even, in both attitudes.

Ggw_girls_who_like_girlsLet me talk about the first one first. In the strict Marxist sense, of course the women in GGW are being exploited. They’re being paid a disproportionately low amount for their labor — they’re getting paid in T-shirts and Mardi Gras beads, so duh — and someone else is getting rich off that labor. But I’ve seen a few of these videos, and it sure looks to me like most of these girls know what they’re doing and very much want to be doing it. They like the attention; they get off on exhibitionism; they enjoy feeling sexy and wild; they like having an excuse to do dirty things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.

Will they regret it later? Maybe. Some of them almost certainly will. But you know, a lot of us have done things in our youths that we now regret and can’t take back. (My entire first relationship leaps to mind.) Making dumb choices that you regret is part of being young. It’s the flip side of risk-taking and adventure.

TequilaAs to the women being too drunk to consent goes, I’m not seeing it. I’ve seen tipsiness in the GGW videos, high spirits, probably even some impaired judgement — but not blackout drunkenness, not drunkenness that would obliterate consent. I could be wrong, I’m not there on the streets of Spring Break with a Breathalyzer and a lie detector test (those don’t work, anyway)… but it sure looks to me like, hammered though many of them are, most of these girls know what they’re doing and know what they want.

Which brings me to my second point: the “they’re squandering their feminist heritage” argument.

This is the one that really bugs me. It’s as if sexual liberation is only for those of us with the right sex-positive feminist credentials — not for yahoo sorority girls who want to pull their shirts up on camera. Like they don’t deserve to have sexual choices, because they’ll make the wrong ones.

UlyssesBut we all deserve sexual liberation. We all deserve the freedom to make sexual choices — even dumb ones or crass ones. As someone whose name I can’t remember once said, not all censorship battles can be about Ulysses. (Does anyone know the source for that quote, btw? I couldn’t find it.) And the battle for sexual liberation and the right to sexual expression can’t always be about brilliant sex-themed performance art, or beautiful ecstatic lovemaking in loving long-term relationships. Sometimes it’s about college girls at big drunken parties pulling their shirts off for the video cameras. That’s the whole point of feminist sexual liberation — we don’t get to go around scolding other women for their consenting sexual choices. (Not on moral or political grounds, anyway. On aesthetic grounds… that’s another story.)

Nina_hartleyI’ve seen arguments that the problem with GGW isn’t the girls whipping their tops off for the camera — it’s the people behind the camera, the crassness of the videos and the company and the grotesqueness of the main man behind them. It’s not liberated or empowering if you’re whipping your top off for exploitative assholes, or so goes the argument. But while I’m certainly not going to defend the motives of the GGW empire (especially not now), I still think we should support the sexual agency of the wild girls themselves. Do you think every single porn movie that Annie Sprinkle or Nina Hartley ever made was a delicate work of artistic beauty and profound insight, made by sensitive feminists, with the profits going to rape crisis centers and saving the rainforest? I sure don’t. I’m sure that at least some of their movies were silly and dumb, and that the profits from at least some of them went to pay for the sports cars and coke habits of nitwit Silicone Valley porn producers. That doesn’t negate Nina and Annie’s sexual agency and power.

Guys_gone_wildAnd I think a lot of the “won’t somebody please think of the children?” hysteria about the women in the GGW videos is just flat-out sexist. The same company that makes the “Girls Gone Wild” videos also makes “Guys Gone Wild” videos as well… and I think it’s extremely interesting that nobody, not one person that I’ve heard or read on this subject, has gotten upset about the poor stupid young college boys with low self-esteem who got drunk and let themselves be manipulated into flashing their asses and dicks on camera, and who are going to feel violated and ashamed the next morning and will regret it for the rest of their lives. It’s apparently just young women who are incapable of making their own sexual decisions and living with the consequences.

Ggw_bad_girlsSo here is my plea. Can we please, please, try not to extend our excoriation of Joe Francis to an excoriation of the women who’ve performed in his videos?

Can we please treat them like adults, and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they do what they do because they want to do it?

Can we please at least try to remember that other people like different sexual things from what we like… and not jump to the conclusion that if someone is doing something sexual that we wouldn’t enjoy, therefore they don’t enjoy it either, and therefore they’re only doing it out of manipulation, desperation, coercion, drunkenness, low self-esteem, cultural brainwashing, etc.?

Annie_sprinkle_1Because when we treat the Girls Gone Wild with patronizing pity and contempt, when we stop respecting them and their sexual agency, it’s a small step to disrespecting Nina Hartley and Tristan Taormino and Annie Sprinkle and Carol Queen and all the other great exhibitionists of the world. And it’s a small step from there to disrespecting every woman — and every man — who makes unpopular sexual choices.

For Better or Worse: “Taboo: Forbidden Fantasies for Couples”

TabooIn an attempt to inject some more sex into what is ostensibly a sex writer’s blog, I’m going to start posting some of my smut-and-sex-toy reviews here. Don’t worry — I’m not abandoning the rants and musings about skepticism and politics and music and weird dreams and Harry Potter and stuff. But since I am primarily known as a sex writer, I thought some of you might want to read some of my thoughts about, you know, sex.

This review originally ran in Adult Friend Finder magazine, where I’ve been writing for about a year and a half now. I’ve done a lot of good work for them, but this is one of my favorites. It uses a dirty book review as a jumping-off point to think about the anatomy of a dirty story, and how porn fiction works — or doesn’t. Enjoy!

For Better or Worse
by Greta Christina

Taboo: Forbidden Fantasies for Couples
edited by Violet Blue
Cleis Press, $14.95

OceanI realize that calling an erotica anthology uneven is like calling the ocean wet. It’s practically built into the definition of the thing. When you have a couple dozen or more stories by a couple dozen or more writers, you’re going to have ups and downs, higher points and less high points. And in an erotica collection, you’re naturally going to have stories that turn you on and ones that don’t, stories that cater to your favorite delectable desires and stories that cater to other people’s weird-ass kinks (or their totally boring ones).

But while all erotica anthologies are uneven, some are more uneven than others. Some hit a consistently high note, ranging from damn good to fucking great; others wobble about in the range from mediocre to pretty decent. And some, like Taboo, are all over the damn map, with stories that send you flying… and stories that make you wonder why even the writer cared.

Sweet_lifeTaboo was put together by the editor of the Sweet Life anthologies, and it’s in a similar vein: stories about (and for) committed long-term heterosexual couples acting out fantasies and exploring new sexual possibilities, aimed at a couples’ audience and meant to both arouse and inspire. But Taboo has an important twist. While the fantasies in the Sweet Life books are on the gentle, not-very-threatening side — first-time spankings, three-ways, dildos, and the like — the stories in Taboo are kinkier, edgier, more extreme. Taboo has public sex, public kink, medical scenes, rape scenes, gender-fuck, sex with strangers, sex with guns, and heaps upon heaps of heavy-duty hard-core dominance, submission, and sadomasochism. It’s all about couples consensually exploring fantasies together — but there’s a huge variety in the fantasies and fetishes that the couples in the stories are exploring.

And there’s a huge variety in the quality of those stories. 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.

SpeculumLesson 1: You can’t write a good porn story by just describing a series of physical events. Really effective porn gets inside the characters’ heads and bodies, makes the reader feel what they’re feeling. “After Hours” by Dante Davidson does this exquisitely. One of the better and more twisted stories in Taboo, it describes a medical scene between a doctor and a nurse, a gynecological exam with a sexual edge that gradually crosses the line from nasty, forbidden thoughts to nasty, forbidden deeds. Davidson does a remarkable job of conveying how the doctor feels, the line he walks between detached professionalism and intense arousal and invasion — so much so that it takes a while to figure out that this is actually a consensual, planned-out scene between an established couple. And Davidson doesn’t just get you inside the doctor’s head — he gets you inside the nurse’s as well, conveying not just the man’s excitement but his awareness of the woman’s as well.

CucumberOn the other very disappointing hand, we have “Forbidden Fruit” by Pearl Jones. This is a prime example of the “series of physical events” theory of porn writing. In it, a couple has a series of sexual encounters involving fruits and vegetables. The woman masturbates with a cucumber, and later on her husband fucks her with a cucumber, and then they go to the grocery store and buy more sexy fruits and vegetables, and then he goes down on her with the cucumber inside her, and then they eat raspberries off each other’s bodies, and then she cuts a hole in a melon so he can fuck it, and then… and it goes on like this. Jones gives detailed descriptions of each act, occasionally even describing the couple’s physical sensations… with no sense at all of what it means to them, what it is about fucking their produce that they find naughty or sexy or special, how it all feels to them emotionally as well as physically. Admittedly, the “sex with food” thing doesn’t do much for me (and frankly, I’m hard-pressed to see what’s so all-fired taboo about it). But I’m not particularly into the medical fetish, either; yet “After Hours” got me inside that fantasy — and made me feel exactly what was hot about it.

Which leads me to Lesson 2: A porn story should be… well, a story. At the risk of sounding pretentious, it should have a narrative arc: it doesn’t have to have a lot of non-sexual plot, or indeed any, but the characters should be in one place at the beginning of the story, someplace else at the end of it. You can get away with a series of disjointed sexual images in video porn, since it’s such a visual medium; but unless it’s written by an exceptionally good experimental writer, a porn story has to unfold, with some suspense about where things are going. This isn’t just a literary nicety — it makes the porn hotter, making it easier to identify with the characters, and giving it a sexual tension right along with the dramatic tension.

James_deanFor an excellent example, take “James Dean, One Thousand Bucks, and a Long Summer Night” by Emilie Paris. “James Dean” starts out as a fairly standard (albeit unusually well-rendered) fantasy about a couple picking up a street hustler for a voyeuristic three-way. But as the story unfolds, the wife changes her mind about what she wants — and takes charge of the scene, directing it into an area she and her husband hadn’t anticipated or even agreed on. The moment when the wife takes control and shifts the fantasy from the standard “man watching his wife fuck another man” to the rather less commonly-seen “newly dominant wife watching her straight husband get fucked by another man” is a moment that’s both unnerving and fiercely exciting. The story gets across the essence of what makes taboos hot — not simply breaking society’s rules and boundaries, but breaking your own, with the excitement of genuinely unfamiliar territory that might actually change your life while it’s getting you off.

And of course, any good narrative has to have conflict. This may be the lesson Taboo was in the greatest need of. Far too many of its stories gloss right over the hard parts: couples venture into three-ways with never a blink of jealousy or insecurity, and try freaky new fetishes with pure eagerness and no hint of anxiety or doubt.

BabysittersI could once again cite “Forbidden Fruit”: a twelve-page story, packed with multiple sex acts, in which absolutely nothing happens. It’s a near-perfect example of how the lack of development or conflict makes for truly boring smut. (I’m sorry to keep harping on this one story; it was just so pointless and rambling and dull that it actually stood out, making me wonder what on earth it was doing in an erotica anthology with obvious aspirations to quality.) But I don’t want to keep hammering on this one poor sad piece of supposed erotica. And I actually have a better example of bad conflict-less porn: “Sometimes It’s Better to Give,” a “couple fucks their babysitter” story by Bryn Haniver. It’s a fun fantasy (or it could be), loaded with potentially hot taboo elements: the depraved older couple seducing the innocent girl, the wicked employers taking advantage of their employee, the moment when the young woman’s surprise and resistance turn to curiosity and lust, etc. etc. But the author goes to an absurd effort to de-fang the nastier parts and make it all safe and nice. The babysitter’s actually their ex-babysitter, a horny and flirtatious college girl with loads of sexual experimenting already under her belt, and when the couple propositions her, she says yes with barely a blink of an eye. The author didn’t let her be shocked or reluctant or even surprised, not even for one paragraph. As a result, there’s no suspense, no conflict — and no tension, sexual or otherwise. And it’s not even remotely plausible.

Dark_alleyAdmittedly, I have a personal bias towards smut fiction that’s plausible. It’s hard to lose myself in a sex fantasy if I’m picking holes in the backstory or thinking, “There’s no way she would do that.” But my desire for porn with real conflict and problems isn’t just about believability. It’s about sexual tension, the heat created by personal friction. As a marvelous counter-example, there’s “Dinner Out” by Erin Sanders, one of the best, scariest rape fantasies I’ve read. It works because it lets the rape be both terrifying and safe. It’s clear to both the reader and the “victim” that this is a couple acting out a rape fantasy and not a real rape — and yet it lets the victim feel panic and helplessness, violation and pain. And it doesn’t shy away from the tension in her own feelings, the unsettling and exciting disconnect between feeling violated by a stranger and feeling cared for by a loving partner. There’s also “In the Back of Raquel” by P.S. Haven, an entirely different “couple tries a voyeuristic three way” story that lets the scene be imperfect, that explores and even revels in its weirdness and jealousy and competitiveness — and that finds the fierce, driven, urgent intensity at the heart of the weirdness, the almost-angry tension that makes the story both arousing and believable.

Exam_tableAnd while we’re on the subject of plausibility, we have our final lesson: respect for the fetish or fantasy. The two medical-play stories in Taboo are perfect examples of what I mean. I’ve already talked about “After Hours,” (the perverse and lovely doctor/nurse medical exam fantasy) and how it made the gradual unfolding of the story feel like exquisitely tantalizing foreplay. But the story also works because it lets the characters get into their roles and act as if they were real. Their nasty thoughts and feelings are clearly there from the beginning, but they act like doctor and patient for a good long while, keeping the reader in suspense and sticking within the fantasy’s boundaries until almost the end. It lets you believe these dirty dirty things could really be happening, in a real medical exam — and this lets you have the fantasy, lets you crawl inside it and feel it down to your blood vessels.

Nurse_bootIn contrast, we have “Medical Attention” by Skye Black. In this one, the medical attention doesn’t get to be clinical and detached even for a minute before it becomes blatantly and explicitly sexual. It has no patience, doesn’t let you believe that this could really be happening even for a paragraph: it jumps to the sex right away, giving you the barest taste of the fantasy — and almost immediately smashing it to pieces.

Okay. All this babbling about the anatomy of a porn story is all very well and good. But it’s not helping you decide whether to buy the damn book or not. What’s my final verdict? Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Taboo_1On the whole, I’d say thumbs up. While Taboo is seriously uneven, enough of the stories are good to make the book worthwhile — and several of the stories are better than just good. If you like porn that’s about taboo sex and edge play, do check it out. And if you’re intrigued and inspired by the idea of acting out edgy taboo sex fantasies in solid long-term relationships, then this is your baby. Just be prepared: you’re going to have to do some skimming. Even more than you usually would with a porn fiction anthology.

P.S. You can buy Taboo at Powell’s.

Bending and Bottoms: Erotic Reading by Greta and Others, Thursday 8/17

Threekinds“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.”

Want to hear more? Come hear me read it in person! The Inside Story Time reading series is having an evening devoted to the topic of Bottoms, which they’re describing as “a literary exploration of the theme of sexual submission.” I’ll be reading from my erotic novella Bending (excerpted oh-so-briefly above), which was published in Susie Bright’s three-novella collection Three Kinds of Asking For It. Other readers at the event include Carol Queen, Stephen Elliott, and players to be named later.

Greta_in_top_hatSo why should you come? Well, at the risk of sounding appallingly arrogant, I’m a really good live reader. I love doing it — I’ve never understood the “fear of public speaking” thing, to me it’s like eating bon-bons and getting a neck massage — and I do it extremely well. Dirty stories especially. And this novella, “Bending,” is easily one of the best things I’ve ever written. It’s smart, it’s funny, it takes its subject seriously, and it’s unspeakably filthy. I love it, and I love reading it aloud. (And it’s been a while since I’ve given a reading from it, so I’m no longer sick of it.) Here are a few of the nicer blurbs, about “Bending” in particular and “Three Kinds of Asking For It” as a whole:

Kirkus_cover“Greta Christina’s ‘Bending’… is a surprisingly moving odyssey of exhaustiveness and exhaustion.” -Kirkus Reviews

Annie_sprinkle“A smart and delicious trio of erotic novellas — a must-read in bed with towel near by. I’ve been a long-time fan of Greta Christina’s writing, and here she is at her very best — and in excellent company. I was inspired, and perspired.” -Annie Sprinkle, Ph.D.

Sarah_silverman“The perfect book for intellectual sex freaks… Even the ones I thought were disgusting aroused me wildly.” -Sarah Silverman

Cleo_dubois“‘Bending’ is amazing. Kept me from sleeping. Truly brilliant.” -Cleo DuBois

Pwcover“Who needs a beach for this summer treat? Bright’s imprimatur guarantees heat sufficient to melt an ice floe.” -Publisher’s Weekly

M_christian“This is not a good book, or even a great book, but rather is an excellent book. The writers here have managed the near-impossible by presenting stories that are not just touching, amusing, amazing, evocative or poignant but also powerfully erotic. I cannot recommend it too highly!” -M. Christian

Alan_ball“Intense, unjudgmental, hilarious and wise.” -Alan Ball (yes, that Alan Ball, creator of “Six Feet Under” and writer of “American Beauty”)

The “Bottoms” reading will be on Thursday, August 17, from 7 to 9 pm, at the Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell Street in the Hayes Valley district of San Francisco. $3-$10 sliding scale. If you can’t come, you can read a more extensive excerpt from the novella on my Website. Plus, of course, you can buy the book at Powell’s.

And if you can make it to the reading, please say hi afterwards — I’d love to meet my blog readers. Hope to see you there!

The Erotic Illuminati!

Bay_guardianYippee! According to the San Francisco Bay Guardian Best of the Bay 2006 issue, I am part of San Francisco’s “erotic illuminati.” It’s a little mention in the Best Parliament of Perverts award they gave to Femina Potens Gallery for their “Sizzle Erotic Open Mic” (which they totally deserve, btw). And I quote:

“In the past 18 months, Sizzle has already featured many of the city’s erotic illuminati, from Carol Queen to Greta Christina… Come prepared for skin-tingling sexuality, but also for breathtaking insights.”

I now feel strangely compelled to write occultist conspiracy-theory porn about the number 23. Anyway, it’s a nice little plug, so thanks to the Guardian for thinking of me. I’ll do my best to live up to the honor, and continue to erotically illuminate.

Oral Arguments

Lips1I was originally going to call this post “A Dyke’s Defense of Blowjobs,” but lots of my readers get these posts sent as email, and I thought some of you might not appreciate having that subject line show up in your In box….

Anyway…

I recently found out that there’s been an entertaining flare-up in the blog-world about blowjobs. It all started when Twisty of “i blame the patriarchy” said, on the topic of blowjobs, that “no woman, since the dawn of the patriarchal co-option of human sexuality, has ever actually enjoyed this submissive sexbot drudgery.” Several other folks have been joining in the fun, including on Salon and even the Daily Kos (although there the conversation quickly degenerated into a argument over whether it was a waste of time and energy to discuss blowjobs when people are dying in Darfur).

So of course, I have to throw my belated hat into the ring. Here it is: my dyke’s defense of blowjobs.

Please note: Very personal sex talk ahead. If that will embarass you, please turn the page.

*****

UltimatecunnilingusI love going down on my lover. I love it partly because I love it — but I love it largely because I love giving her pleasure. And I don’t mean that in a noble, self-sacrificing, martyred way, or even in a kinky submissive way. Giving her pleasure is unbelievably hot. When I go down on her, I get completely lost in her pussy and in her pleasure. It works almost like a meditation to get me out of my head and into my body, and when it’s going especially well, it feels like my tongue is a clit. It’s fun. It’s sexy. I love it. And besides, it feels so very lesbian.

But in fact, I’m not a lesbian. I’m bisexual. It’s not completely inconceivable that I might have wound up in an LTR with a man instead of a woman.

And if I had, I’d feel exactly the same way.

Okay, not exactly the same way. I’m not quite as crazy about cock as I am about pussy. But pretty damn similar. I’ve certainly felt that way when I’ve been involved with men in the past.

And here’s what I want to know. If you don’t feel that way — then what the hell are you doing involved with men? If you think giving men sexual pleasure is patriarchal drudgery, why on earth would you have sex with them at all?

UltimatefellatioOf course, there should be some sort of reciprocation. It always bugs me to see studies about how more teenagers today are having oral sex instead of “regular” sex — because I know damn well that means blowjobs for the boys, not muff-diving for the girls. Of course men shouldn’t be assholes about it — no hair-grabbing or deep-throating without specific negotiation beforehand, guys. And of course, if you absolutely hate giving blowjobs (or any other particular sex act), naturally you shouldn’t do it.

But don’t act like your personal gross-out is some sort of righteous political stance. That’s just ridiculous. Most people like giving their lover pleasure. Some of us like doing it with our mouths. If you don’t, then don’t do it. You have every right to your quirks — but they don’t make you a superior feminist.

Spank_1And for God’s sake, please don’t start pulling the “no woman likes that and if she says she does she’s a co-opted tool of the patriarchy” bullshit. I’ve now heard that about spanking, buttfucking, porn-watching, porn-writing, and just about every other kind of sex that I love. I’m sick unto death of it. Can feminists please stop telling other women what they do and don’t like in bed — and stop trying to make other women feel bad because they don’t like the right things?

Thoughts? About blowjobs, or the political complications of male-female sex, or how we should all be ashamed of ourselves for wanting to talk about this instead of the slaughter in Darfur?

Oh, and a quick shout-out to the Nettles here (my longsword dance team). I polled them tonight about whether my next blog posting should be about North Korea, Matthew Barney, or blowjobs — and blowjobs won unanimously. Global politics and conceptual art are just going to have to wait.

If You Believe in Bisexuals, Clap Your Hands: My Letter to Dan Savage

DansavageSo a couple of months ago, Dan Savage of the sex advice column Savage Love wrote this column about bisexuals. While it did get my dander up, it was certainly a sight better than some of what he’s written about bisexuality in the past. In his own words: “I no longer believe that most bisexuals wind up in [heterosexual relationships] because you’re all liars and cheats, or that you’re all dying to access societal perks reserved for heterosexuals, or that you’re all cowards and it’s hard out here for a homo.”

Gee, thanks, Dan.

No, instead he now says, “I think most bisexuals wind up in heterosexual relationships because most bisexuals are mostly hetero.”

Once again — thanks. Heaps.

I wrote the following letter in response — fairly reasoned, I thought — but he hasn’t printed it yet, and I’m assuming at this point that he won’t. (Which is fine — he must get hundreds of letters, most shorter than this one and actually asking for advice.) But I thought I made some important points, and I hate writing good stuff that never makes it out into the world (I’ve never kept a journal with anything like the regularity of this blog), and I thought y’all would be interested to see it.

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Bi2Dear Mr. Savage:

I’m not going to yell at you or call you names. So please hear me out.

In your recent column, you asserted that “very few bisexual women wind up ‘sharing their lives’ with other women,” and that “most (bisexuals) can only fall in love with an opposite-sex partner.” I’m wondering: What data are you using to come to that conclusion?

I ask because your assertion is radically different from my own observations. In my own extended circle of friends, acquaintances, colleagues and family, the significant majority of bisexuals — both women and men — are in serious relationships with women. (BTW, that includes both me and my partner.)

There are certainly exceptions, and admittedly my extended circle is not a scientifically selected statistical sampling. But your claim is so drastically different from my own experience that I have to at least question it. Do you have data to back it up, or are you simply basing it on your own unscientifically-selected circle of people you know?

Bi4I also ask for another reason. I find it very troubling when people tell other people what their sexual orientation “really” is, based on their own definitions. And I find this especially troubling when it comes from a widely read and influential sex advisor. So many different factors go into deciding which sexual-identity label fits you best — does sex count as much as romantic love? does desire count as much as behavior? does sexual and romantic history count as much as present status? does present status count as much as potential future involvements? etc. etc. etc. — and thus the definitions vary enormously depending on who you’re talking to.

And because the definitions are both so variable and so heavily loaded, I think we need to let people define themselves, based on their own definitions. Saying that most bisexuals are really straight (or even “mostly straight”) isn’t very helpful, and it’s on the insulting side — as if we don’t know enough about our own sexuality to know what to call it. I appreciate how much you’ve changed your position on this subject over the years, but when you tell bisexuals “You think you’re bisexual, but actually you’re pretty much straight,” it really is just as annoying as all those annoying goddamn bisexuals who run around saying that “everyone is basically bisexual.”

Sincerely,
Greta Christina

P.S. I have seen at least one paper backing up my assertion that both women and men are more likely to get involved with women, at least under certain circumstances — but I’m not sure how much I trust it. Anyway, one paper is just one paper. If you’re curious and want to look it up, it’s by Andrew Francis, and there’s a pdf at http://home.uchicago.edu/~afrancis/research.html .

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Bi1So anyway. Thoughts? Observations? What are the bisexually-identified people in your life — including you, if you’re one of them — doing sexually? Romantically? Are they/you mostly in hetero relationships, as Dan Savage asserts? Mostly in relationships with women, as has been my observation? Mostly sexual with one but romantic with the other? All over the map? Something completely different?

And if you do see a pattern — do you have a theory about why that pattern is? I have one about my “bis tend to end up with women” observation, but it kind of boils down to “men are pigs,” which I don’t actually believe. (Actually, I have a bi friend who was going to make T-shirts saying “Bisexuality: Men are stupid, women are crazy,” which, while still an obvious oversimplification, does, I think, hit closer to home.) But I’m very aware of the fact that my circle of close friends does not constitute a stastically accurate sampling — so I want to expand the sampling to my circle of people who read my blog. Much more accurate…

And yes, I was once one of those annoying bisexuals who insisted that everyone was basically bisexual. Mea culpa.

A Sex Writer’s Defense of Visual Porn

MyeroticxfilesWords or pictures? When it comes to erotica, what turns you on? And why? For me, it’s almost always about the pictures — something I feel a little odd about, what with being a porn writer and all.

The Good Vibrations magazine has just started running a photo gallery — and they’ve published my piece, A Sex Writer’s Defense of Visual Porn, as part of their opening festivities. If you’re interested in the “dirty pictures versus dirty books” question — or if you’re curious about why a dedicated sex writer turns to photos and videos when it’s time to get off — come check it out. Here’s a taste:

“It’s about feeling like I’m really there. The pictures don’t just make it easier for me to imagine the scene — they make it easier for me to project myself into it. Having a picture thrust into my brain makes me feel like I’m there; like I’m one of the people in the scene, or a new person wedging myself into the goings-on, or even an invisible voyeur watching it all up close. And that’s true whether the pictures are photos of real dirty people doing real dirty things, or drawings of dirty people doing made-up dirty things that an artist thought up.”

SpankTo read the rest, come visit the Good Vibrations Magazine. There’s tons of great writing in addition to mine — and now they have dirty pictures, for drooling perverts like me!

Screaming Annies and Found Porn: Recent Smut and Sex Toy Reviews

Jasmine_1Silkensleeves_1Whitelightning_1Dirtyfound2_1Vulvamassage_1
It’s been a couple of months since I updated you on my Adult Friend Finder reviews. Since then, I’ve written about teasing vibrators, women’s art-bondage videos, women’s regular smut videos, found porn, and vulva education.

A quick note of explanation: I’ve been writing an every-other-week column for the Adult Friend Finder magazine for a little over a year, reviewing porn and sex toys and stuff. I’m having a lot of fun with the gig, and doing some interesting, entertaining writing for them.

Anyway, here’s an index of reviews I’ve written for them in the last couple of months. (You can see a complete index on my Website if you like.) FYI, you don’t have to be an AFF member to click these links (although you do have to join if you want to surf around and visit the rest of the magazine). Enjoy!

The Scent of Jasmine:
Jasmine Vibrator (June 2, 2006)
“I masturbate almost every day, and if I turned it into a sensual adoration of my inner sex goddess every time I whacked off, I’d never get to work on time.”

Silken Sleeves (May 28, 2006)
“The video is wordless as well, thank God. Most porn videos would be vastly improved by shutting the actors up. With duct tape, if necessary.”

White Lightning Strikes:
White Lightning (May 14, 2006)
“This isn’t one of those pornos where the women moan and thrash a little and then get on with the important business of getting the men off. The women in this video come.

But Now I’m Found:
Dirty Found Magazine, issue #2 (Apr. 21, 2006)
“Plenty of the pics in this magazine weren’t chosen just to illustrate the sexual Zeitgeist. They were chosen to make you stick your hand in your pants.”

Pat the Bunny:
The Best of Vulva Massage (Apr. 7, 2006)
“Annie Sprinkle’s ‘megagasm’ may sound too New Age-y for words… but when you watch her scream for five minutes straight with a Hitachi Magic Wand shoved against her clit and two hot young dykes fingering her pussy like jackhammers, you stop worrying about these finer points.”

Enjoy the reviews, and drop me a line here to let me know what you think!