I interviewed the totally kickass Oakland sex-biker-housing-politics-porn duo of Poppy Cox and Reverend Phil from BikeSmut for WHACK! Magazine, and check out this totally badass photo I got in return, of Rev. Phil with a sticker from my art show on his flask o’ whiskey! I think this makes me count as Teh Koolzies.
So last night, it finally happened. The inevitable. I walked out of a screening of Remedy, the quite-graphic film about a young New York woman who goes into professional BDSM work, basically on a dare, and faces a lot of semi-nude challenges, as part of the Cinekink NYC festival… and ran smack into someone I work with at my day job.
It’s not that big of a deal. My day job involves working on books that span the spectrum from nonfiction parenting to Wild West fiction to really hardcore paranormal erotic romance. Cinekink is a sophisticated scene to be spotted at. The film in question was undeniably excellent from every angle. Lots of people at work already know a little bit about my “other” life, and I’m proud of being allied with Cinekink. Being public about my sex-positive and pro-porn leanings is part of the soapbox I stand on. So, no, I’m not totally freaking out that my coworker saw me there, or that I told her I do the red carpet interviews when she said she knew the filmmaker.
I’m ashamed, however, that I totally forgot to mention that I had a film running as an installation upstairs. I’m pretty embarrassed that I, Miss Lagsalot, editor-in-chief of WHACK! Magazine for three years, curator of an art exhibition about pornography at a Manhattan art space, VIP attendee of strip clubs in Manhattan, outspoken columnist, and so on… got so nervous about seeing my coworker that I totally babbled on about chupacabra in front of my coworker and her group of friends, who obviously were not interested. I just was so unsure of how to act that my brain reverted to awkward eighth-grade level chatter to fill the void of “holy shit, this is weird” that gaped between us.
I guess you can be as pro-porn and sex-positive and kinky as you want on a blog and at insulated porn industry events, but when your two different lives smash together unexpectedly… it ain’t ever gonna be comfortable. Woof.
Anyway, after the encounter, I went in to the next show and saw the gender-bending, sex-club-drenched, hilarious and hot Mommy is Comingby Cheryl Dunye, and starring Papi Cox and Jiz Lee. And I giggled a lot. And I really enjoyed the short film “Krutch,” which is basically contextualized and awesome disabled porn, and I encourage you to try to find it somehow. Rad stuff. I watched all the numerous sex scenes in these films next to a complete stranger and had a blast. Strangers are so much easier to be silent with.
1) My review of Courtney Trouble’s latest full-length film, Lesbian Curves, is up on WHACK! Magazine today, and getting much love from Ms. Trouble herself. A teaser, if you’re interested:
“…it’s nice to be reminded that even the performers here, many of whom identify as queer and kinky, sometimes like to giggle through a jiggle-fest without hot wax or safe words, and that watching their playfulness can still be pleasing. Of course, I suppose just the spectacle of two larger women having sex on screen could be a kink for some people, and for those lovers of female fleshiness, here’s your fantasy, served up full-bodied and fresh. The bodies in this film range from the relatively svelte frame of Sandy Bottoms to the bountiful folds of Peppermint Fatty, but each of the women featured in Lesbian Curves offers more in the way of feminine curvature than the entire casts of most porn or mainstream movies combined. ”
2) I’ve gotten a tentative acceptance letter from the Cinekink Film Festival for one of my short films from my art show! More info to come, but I hope to see all y’all bitches at The Kinky Film Festival in early March! I’ll also be doing the red carpet interviews, as per usual, so you can watch all the fun after the fact if you can’t make ti to the main event. (Seriously, click on that link and watch that interview I did with the cast of “Sweet Prudence & the Erotic Adventures of Bigfoot.” It’s fun.)
3) You know you’ve been in involved in the adult industry too long (or long enough? or just-as-long-as-you-should-have-been?) when the designation on an e-mail rejection letter from a literary magazine says “subs” (as in “submissions”) and you automatically think, “I haven’t e-mailed anyone lately about sub/Domme interplay, have I?” Anyway, sigh… time to submit my awesome story somewhere else…
4) My submission (hehe, “sub”) has been sent off to the Feminist Porn Awards, and hopefully will arrive by the Friday, February 1 deadline. It’s so weird how Toronto is closer to me than California, but mailing stuff there takes longer and costs more. Stupid national borders.
5) HOLY CRAP OH MY GOSH RON JEREMY IS IN THE ICU FOR A HEART ANEURYSM! He and I may have a storied history (ok not really–he just groped and gnawed on me once and I’ve avoided him like the plague ever since), but I hope he pulls through! All my best thoughts and vibes are with him! (Once again, if you’ve got some time, click that link; the story is hilarious.)
I had a blast talking to Gianna Michaels at Exxxotica New Jersey in November. The video’s just went up on WHACK! Magazine’s YouTube last week (not my fault), but it’s still worth watching. That lady is smart, funny, and so laid back. I kinda wanna spend a Saturday afternoon watching bad TV with her and eating potato chips. (Disclaimer: giraffe penises are mentioned. So this is SFW but don’t turn the sound up, mmmkay?)
I got this e-mail from Christian Madsen at WHACK! Magazine:
I’m putting together a series of articles for WHACK! magazine called “Yokozuna” (Japanese: Grand Champion). It centers around doms writing a letter/poem to a sub: a real but anonymous sub, a fictitious one. The perfect sub, the imperfect sub. The sub they themselves feel they have inside them, or any submissive they feel a need to write to.
So, hey, all you friends who are doms! Do you have a story or idea or fantasy or anti-fantasy you want to write about? Christian would love to hear it! E-mail him at email@example.com! These pieces can be anonymous or attributed, and they can cover anything you’ve wanted to say or not say to a sub. Personally, I’m verrrry interested to read them!
A word of advice: when you get invited to a fundraising event thrown by Joshua Darling to support his upcoming print magazine, Darling House, which will be all sexy art and arty sex all the time, and that event includes performances by JM Darling, Brandon B, Eric Walton, Bastard Keith, The Reformed Whores (look them up if you don’t know!), Madame Rosebud, STORMY LEATHER (in case you didn’t know this, I am a little obsessed with her), and Stoya, with photography by Natasha Gornik, Dick Avery, Nathan Appel, Bob Coulter, JM Darling, Dastardly Dave, Haus of Seven, Kencredible, Dave Naz, George Pitts, Steve Prue, Collin J Rae, Holly Randall, Nate “Igor”Smith, Corwin Prescott, Otto Von Erotic,Tony Stamolis and Viva Van Story, and an after-party panel with Stoya, Lux Alptraum, Buck Angel, and Sovereign Syre… GO. Motherfuckin’ GO.
Last night I got to hug an almost-naked Stoya and an even-closer-to-naked Stormy Leather, slobber over incredible photography, snuggle up to JM Darling and Natasha Gornik, see Lux Alptraum with her shirt off, and watch Buck Angel take his pants off on stage. Pictures to come as soon as I get over this hangover.
For real, dude. Next time there’s one of these things, GO. Cancel your other plans. Go. It will be one hell of a party.
For those who don’t know: Measure B will appear on Los Angeles County ballots in tomorrow’s election, and if passed would require adult performers to use condoms, gloves, and/or dental dams in all porn shoots filmed in LA County. It would also require the funding and deployment of LA County Department of Health employees to oversee the enforcement of this new measure. In case you’re not aware, LA County is currently one of the few “safe zones” for porn filming in America; whereas filming porn isn’t strictly illegal anywhere, in LA it is specifically protected speech. Therefore, most of the country’s multi-billion dollar porn industry is based in LA.
Here’s a short, easily-digestible list of reasons why, if you live in LA, you should vote against Measure B at the polls tomorrow. (Please note that there aren’t links to sources here as of yet, but I plan to add them as soon as I can get to my home computer.)
1) Measure B won’t actually protect performers. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has poured $1.6 million into campaigning for Measure B , making the seemingly-logical point that condoms protect people from HIV, and so condoms should be used on porn sets to protect performers. That seems to make sense… if you have no idea how porn works. The sex filmed on porn sets in and around LA county isn’t the kind of sex you have in your personal life–it’s not a few minutes of fun, during which a condom will protect you from fluid transmission. It’s a long, drawn-out process that can take anywhere from 20 minutes to half a day of filming. There are plenty of adult performers who prefer to use condoms on set, and there are also lots who don’t because condoms don’t hold up well in those conditions. They can cause chafing. They can dry out. They can easily break. During a normal porn scene, several condoms can be gone through, much to the discomfort of the performers.
Furthermore, while the testing system the porn industry used for years has recently been undermined (largely by the efforts of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation… suspicious much?) and there have been a few slip-ups as the industry tries to find its footing, professional porn protocol requires all performers to be tested for STIs at least every 30 days. Many performers are tested more often. Test paperwork must be shown before shoots begin. While there have been cases of STIs infecting performers in the past few years, the industry has regulated itself incredibly well using mandatory testing for years. As a matter of fact, recent estimates state that there is a lower instance of STIs within the porn community than in the non-porn segment of the LA population (although this has recently been disputed… by the AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION…), and most STIs come into the industry from outside.
If Measure B were to pass, regulations on testing would almost certainly become more lax, and then when a condom broke on-set after having chafed the skin of performers, untested performers would be much more likely to pass STIs–unknowingly–from person to person. Nothing is guaranteed, but the likelihood of performer infections skyrocketing if condom use is mandated is so high it may as well be written in stone.
2) Measure B will drain LA County’s economy in several ways. First of all, Measure B would require LA County’s Department of Health to enforce the new law. If it passes, LA county employees would be required to visit porn sets to ensure that all DoH protocols were being followed. While I’m not sure if this would require hiring more personnel, it would surely require taxpayers to fund these unnecessary excursions to porn sets. That won’t be fun for anyone, and it will be pricey.
Furthermore, if this measure passes, it is incredibly likely that a lot of the filming now done in LA will move elsewhere to escape these new highly restrictive and annoying requirements. (It’s not as simple as using barrier protection in front of the camera–if this passes and all bodily fluids are treated as potentially-hazardous waste, so: cast and crew would need to be wearing protective gear; biohazard equipment would need to be bought, set up, and maintained; etc…) That could drain the estimated $1 billion of revenue that the porn industry brings to LA county every year through taxes and local industry.
And even furthermore, there are an estimated 10,000 people employed directly and indirectly by the adult industry in LA County. If they lose their jobs or end up moving elsewhere to work, the income taxes they pay will disappear from LA. Between the money the county would need to spend on enforcement and the drain of a valuable industry’s tax and employment benefits to the area, Measure B could be ridiculously costly.
3) Measure B might actually endanger performers. I’ve already pointed out some of the more glaring physical dangers to adult performers if barrier protection is valued above testing in the industry, but there’s a wider ripple effect to consider here. If, as I just mentioned, a lot of the industry currently based in LA County were to move elsewhere, performer safety would be put in danger from a variety of new angles. As I said above, LA County is sort of a safe haven for porn production: as I understand it (and I don’t have much of a mind for law, so take this with a grain of salt), it’s explicitly legal to produce porn there, and that comes with a host of protections. It’s not likely that you’ll be arrested or held for making it if you’re doing it with a permit in the county of LA. It’s likely that if you work with an LA-based company, that company will follow industry protocol that will keep you safe and healthy and get you paid in a timely fashion (not guaranteed, of course, but more likely).
If filming moves elsewhere to escape the restrictions of Measure B, however, the same protections don’t exist in other places. It’s far more likely that a person involved in a porn shoot outside LA may be arrested on any number of charges. And because the same climate of porn-friendliness doesn’t exist in other places, it’s also more likely that the relatively high standards of professionalism, cleanliness, and safety found on many sets around LA won’t be found elsewhere. Less oversight and less industry tend to equal poorer working conditions in an industry that is already frowned upon in many places. Porn shoots may be driven somewhat “underground,” to less safe places with less safe working conditions and with much less access to STI testing and healthcare. Performer health and safety stands to be put into serious danger if this happens.
4) Measure B is the beginning of a slippery slope where the First Amendment is concerned. While there’s a legitimate argument to be made, as the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has pointed out, that porn sets should be held to the same standards of workplace safety when it comes to biohazardous materials as other places of employment, there’s another side to that coin. Namely that if the LA County government is given the go-ahead to mandate what types of actions are allowed to appear in porn films, this could be the gateway to a whole boatload of First Amendment violations. Right now, porn is protected free speech in LA County, but if regulations start to go into effect about what can and cannot be filmed (even if everything being filmed is legal and consenting), what could happen next? What if someone in power doesn’t like cunnilingus? Body hair? Kissing on film? Freedom of speech is just as important in pornography as anywhere, and potentially more important since it’s easier to roll the porn industry over than it is to take on all of mainstream film. It’s a foot in the door of government oversight of art. I don’t like it. Smells like Big Brother.
5) Showing safer sex in porn films won’t promote safer sex the way you might think it would. Think about the porn you’ve seen recently. If you follow this blog or like Cindy Gallop or Courtney Trouble or Madison Young, there’s a chance you saw some porn that showed realistic body types and the mundane details of safer sex practices (getting the lube, putting on the gloves, etc), but the statistical probability of you having seen porn that shows anything in a very realistic way is… pretty damn slim. Most of the humdrum details of what it’s really like to have sex are edited out of the vast majority of the porn you see. Like the fact that most men don’t walk around with 24/7 raging hard-ons, most women aren’t wet and ready and orgasmic within ten seconds, and so on. Porn masks the less-fun things because it’s produced to be a fantasy. And while it’s admirable to want to show adult performers engaging in sex practices that are safer in the hopes that the viewing audience will pick up those same safer sex practices… what are the chances that the way barrier protection gets depicted in porn will be any more realistic than anything else? I’m willing to bet that even if safer sex becomes the norm in porn (which it won’t–production will probably just move elsewhere to escape Measure B), we’ll be more likely to see condoms magically appearing on penises with no how-to, dental dams being miraculously easy to figure out and use, and latex gloves that seem to require no lube. They might help get the idea that safer sex is still sexy across, but I don’t think porn featuring safer sex practices will add a whole lot to the knowledge base of aspiring boners than anything else porn does. Which says a lot, and very little, all at once.
But really, the idea that people will do what they see in porn, at its very root, is ludicrous. Porn performers shouldn’t be tasked with teaching the American public how to have sex, because the American public should know that porn is not real life. Mandating that porn reflect “the correct” way to have sex, according to so-and-so (ahem, AIDS Healthcare Foundation), implies that it is not the responsibility of parents or educators to make it known that pornography and private sex are different, and that’s a slippery slope we’re already so far down I don’t even want to consider giving us another push.
Also, just listen to these guys. They know their stuff.
After much thinking and much talking it over with friends and colleagues, I have decided to step down as editor-in-chief of WHACK! Magazine as of this week. It’s been about three and a half years now since my buddy j. vegas and I started WHACK! Initially it was all a big joke–we were going to run a fake porn news magazine (think The Onion of porn) to help promote a webisode we were working on together, and write as some of the characters on the show. But as things got rolling, we realized that we were really on to something. The adult industry didn’t have much in the way of news outlets at the time, and certainly none with a sense of humor. Before we even took stock of what was happening, we were running a fully functional half-news, half-parody online magazine that poked fun at performers while also doling out honest reviews of DVDs, interviews with the stars, press releases, product reviews, and scathing yet hilarious op-eds. We collected a cohort of the smartest and most deranged writers we could find, from the razor-witted Maxxx Peters to the sweet yet filthy Lolly Gagger to the passionate yet pervy Christian Madsen, and soon we were getting press passes to conventions, VIP passes to events, and requests for interviews from everyone from newbie performers to porn legends.
It’s been a fantastic experience, and many of my greatest professional achievements so far have come as direct results of my involvement with the “provocative periodical for the cultured degenerate” I oversaw. The contacts I’ve made and the good times I’ve had have been many. But to every thing, turn, turn, turn, and so on; for the past year I have had less and less time to devote to WHACK! as I have pursued other creative projects. It has gradually become clear that while I love my magazine very much, I don’t enjoy administrative roles. I’d rather be writing or interviewing or painting or curating than handing out deadlines, editing, posting, formatting, and networking about advertising costs. Likewise, my cohort in crime all this time and my editorial director, j. vegas, has begun work on some other projects, gotten married, and had a baby, and has found less time available to work on the magazine. And so, as of this week, we will be both be turning over the magazine to our indomitable friend Christian Madsen, who will become the Freak in Charge at WHACK!
I will continue to write reviews and conduct interviews for the magazine, and to help Christian out during the transition. I’ll still be showing up at industry events and shoving a microphone in people’s faces, waxing philosophic over movies with titles like “Ass-Eaters Anonymous #32,” and ranting about pubic hair, but as time goes on I will be working more on my graphic novel, taking “Consent” out of New York to conventions and museums all around the country, and pursuing my other creative projects on my own.
It’s been a wild ride. To quote the late great Doctor, “I never knew where I was going, but I ripped the tits off everything that got in my way. By the time they figured me out, it was too late.”