The Invisible Web

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Posts Tagged ‘Pucker Up’

Pucker Up Finale: Why People Get Off on the Sex-for-Money Scenario

Posted by invizweb on October 11, 2008

By Tristan Taormino for the Village Voice

Every year at kinky sex camp, we create a multi-room erotic play-space for attendees, and for one night, each room has a theme. We like to keep things fresh, so we change up the themes every couple of years, but one never seems to go out of style: the Brothel. It’s a modest space with eight stations, each with a bed, a little table, and a flimsy curtain separating it from the next bed, plus a back room with a double bed and a little more privacy (which costs more, natch). We have our own currency at the event (kundalini kash), which campers can win, earn, borrow, and eventually spend. There’s a madam who recruits and organizes the whores, collects kash, matches clients with workers, and generally oversees the place. It’s always the busiest room.

People don’t tire of the sex-for-money fantasy. Actually, there is no one fantasy, but multiple scenarios, dynamics, and roles possible within the brothel setting. I talked to a bunch of this year’s whores (who included men, women, transfolk, and cross-dressers) about what they got out of their experiences. Some said they like being a whore because it’s taboo, naughty, and transgressive; the fact that it’s illegal prevents them from pursuing it in real life. For others, being a sex worker is a longtime fantasy, like Nikki, a newcomer to both the camp and the brothel: “Being paid for sex is an ongoing fantasy of mine. If I had had more confidence in my looks and body, and much less emotional baggage when I was still a young woman, I would have loved to have been a call girl or mistress in my real life.” Nikki said she enjoyed the experience so much—with one client, she had her first orgasm ever in a position she usually can’t come in—that she wants to do it again.

Playing this role can trigger other turn-ons, like having sex with strangers, no strings attached, and no pretense of romance. Mr. G., a fortysomething straight guy from New York, told me: “It creates a ‘container’ for the experience of sex. We’re both there for the same reason. There’s a beginning and an end, and no confusion about our roles once they’re negotiated.” Pink Pet, another whore, agreed: “At a club or even a play party, there is usually a certain amount of small talk and flirting that takes place. Don’t get me wrong—I love flirting, but I also love when that barrier is removed and you can get right to the lust. You can walk right up and suggest what scene you want to do. It’s a way to cut to the chase.”

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What If the Bachelorette Was Polyamorous?

Posted by invizweb on August 2, 2008

How TV shows represent open relationships—and how they could do better

By Tristan Taormino,for the Village Voice.

I watched The Bachelorette. There, I said it. I’ve always been fascinated by these reality dating shows where one person has multiple girlfriends or boyfriends simultaneously. Not only do all the suitors know about each other, but they live together, and some are even friends. On paper, the setup sounds like a recipe for a progressive vision of non-monogamous relationships. The execution is, well, a little trickier. For example, when 25 women vie for one man’s affection on The Bachelor, I can’t get over the subtext of patriarchal privilege: It always feels like a cross between a never-ending catfight and a bad harem fantasy. But when a new season of The Bachelorette (one girl, 25 guys) returned in May (this was the fourth one, compared to 12 installments of The Bachelor), I was anxious to see if, this time, it might live up to its radical potential. Imagine: an empowered woman with multiple partners, calling the shots!

See, when it comes to open relationships on television, there’s pretty slim pickin’s, starting with the scripted HBO series Big Love, which follows the trials and tribulations of a Mormon family consisting of husband Bill Henrickson, his three wives, and their seven children, all living in suburban Utah. They grapple with living in a non-traditional relationship, being in the closet about it, and clashing with their crazy relatives—most of whom live on a cult-like fundamentalist compound full of child brides in prairie dresses. The interactions here are often complex and nuanced, and can even resonate with people who identify as polyamorous. However, it’s all framed in the context of a controversial religious practice. I’d love the show a lot more if they got rid of the Mormonism and the wacky fundamentalists. But then it would probably last 10 minutes.

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Sex, love, art, and pornoterroristas in Spain

Posted by invizweb on July 30, 2008

By Tristan Taormino

Is pornography a universal medium? Does sex speak a common language? I contemplated these questions last week when I presented a history of alternative porn in the United States at “PornoPunkFeminism: Queer Micro-Politics and Subaltern Pornographies,” a conference held at Arteleku (arteleku.net), an art center just outside San Sebastian, Spain. It was a four-day event of multimedia presentations and performances by artists, filmmakers, performers, and activists from around the world. The theme centered around the concept of “post-porn,” a term coined by artist Wink van Kempen. “Post-porn” is defined by feminists and artists as sexually explicit work that critiques dominant representations of gender and sexuality and creates a politicized space for alternative, subversive imagery. As conference coordinator B. Preciado explained it: “This event takes post-pornography as a place where three political movements providing a cultural critique converge: feminism, the queer movement, and punk.”

Del LaGrace Volcano (dellagracevolcano.com) is a gender-variant visual artist whose pioneering photography has documented lesbians, punks, transpeople, genderqueers, and other outsiders in stunning, often sexually explicit photos. Volcano presented work from his latest book, Femmes of Power, where he and co-author Ulrika Dahl profile dozens of people around the world who embody queer femininities. He also showed his classic smut film, Pansexual Public Porn, which follows the adventures of several transmen having sex in a popular gay cruising spot in England.

Annie Sprinkle and her partner, Beth Stephens, presented a stunning retrospective of their individual and collective work over the past 30 years, which has ranged from Sprinkle’s famed Public Cervix Announcement to Stephens’s sexually charged multimedia exhibits. In 2004, they began a seven-year performance-art piece together, Love Art Laboratory (loveartlab.org), which culminates each year in a huge wedding. Because Sprinkle’s work originated in porn and has become increasingly about love, she challenged the audience with the questions: “Is there a place in porn for love? Is love the last taboo?”

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Why Is Sex With Someone You Don’t Know Such a Powerful Fantasy For So Many?

Posted by invizweb on July 14, 2008

By Tristan Taormino

I spent Memorial Day weekend reading submissions for the latest edition of Best Lesbian Erotica, the annual anthology I edit. Each year, I like to spot the trends in storytelling; it’s like taking an informal poll of what queer women (and others who write about them) are jerking off to. There was a year when lots of stories were about butch/femme dynamics in the bedroom. Another year, everyone left the bedroom—literally—for erotic escapades in unique settings. Then I got an overwhelming number of strap-on stories with lots of genderplay and cock-sucking.

I have stepped down as editor, so this collection will be my last, which has had me thinking about what, if any, themes have remained constant in the 14 years I’ve been doing it. One narrative tops the list by a mile: sex with a stranger. This theme really stood out this year; it seemed like about half of the stories were about women getting it on with someone they’d just met. Of course, most of their strangers—in addition to being drop-dead gorgeous—were sexy, available, and highly skilled lovers. Many of the scenarios were romanticized: the “she knew just where to touch me” or “it was like she could read my mind” kind of thing. In other words, no awkward silence in the conversation, no insecurity or doubt, no fumbling with bra straps—everything was smooth and perfect. (Well, they are, after all, fantasies.) Stranger sex is not just a dominant fantasy among lesbian-erotica writers or dykes themselves—it’s pretty universal regardless of gender or sexual orientation. So what is it about sex with someone you don’t know that gets so many people so hot and bothered?

Before I go there, I want to acknowledge that there is a spectrum when it comes to how people define “stranger.” Some are purists and want a truly anonymous hookup with someone they’ve never seen before, whose name and history they don’t know. Others have a looser definition of “anonymous”: They will exchange first names, and maybe a few pleasantries or e-mails, but then it’s right to the sex. Still others need to have just enough information to feel comfortable that the person is sane and safe.

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