The Invisible Web

Your Trip Into the Chapel Perilous

Posts Tagged ‘Tristan Taormino’

Tristan Taormino…

Posted by invizweb on May 9, 2009

I wish a very happy birthday to Tristan Taormino, the writer of Pucker-Up, a long-time column in the Village Voice, and the awesome book, True Lust, which compiles many of the past articles as well as other essays on human sexuality.  The articles and the book brought great joy to my life as it discussed a wrongfully stigmatized subject in western society in an educational yet witty manner the reflects the experiences of Tristan as  explores these usually marginalized worlds and expresses them to readers.

Me, my friend, and Tristan.

Me, my friend, and Tristan.

Other readers of her works can impart well wishes to her on Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter.

Advertisements

Posted in Human Sexuality, Internet, New York | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

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.”

Read more.

Posted in Human Sexuality | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Nina Hartley’s Guide to Pregnant Sex

Posted by invizweb on September 12, 2008

Her latest movie offers a sex-positive approach to that oft-neglected subject

By Tristan Taormino for the Village Voice.

I flew to Minneapolis last month to celebrate the fifth anniversary of feminist-women-owned sex shop the Smitten Kitten (smittenkittenonline.com). Co-founder and owner Jennifer, with her partner Davis, just had a baby, who was then two and half weeks old. Usually they’re up to their eyeballs in dildo harnesses and butt plugs, but this trip, these two sex activists were all about cloth diapers and breast-feeding. Their baby was one of the most chilled-out infants I’ve ever met—he even slept as we partied at a local lesbian bar! The proud parents were so funny: They asked Penny Flame and Adrianna Nicole—stars of my porn reality series Chemistry and special guests at the store’s big anniversary party—to pose for some pictures with their son for the baby book! I mean, I’m sure there’s a page for “My First Photo With Porn Stars,” right? Several people I know have recently gotten pregnant, and as they pore through resources on every aspect of being knocked up, there’s one topic that’s still challenging to find clear, sex-positive information about: sex.

It makes me think of one of the first essays I read on the subject, in a book by Susie Bright (susiebright.com)—she talks frankly and specifically about some of the sexual changes she experienced while she was pregnant in the ’80s. For one thing, she found she couldn’t masturbate the same way: “I was stunned and a little panicky. My engorged clitoris was different under my fingers; too sensitive to touch my usual way, and what other way was there?” She theorizes that one of the reasons some couples stop having sex during a pregnancy is that they’re unprepared for some of the radical changes: “What happens is that your normal sexual patterns don’t work anymore. Unless you and your lover make the transition to new ways of getting excited and reaching orgasm, you are going to be very depressed about sex and start avoiding it altogether.” But who prepares you to cope with such a dramatic shift in your sex life? It’s not usually part of the typical birthing class, your mom’s advice, or the girl talk at a baby shower.

Finally, two of the most capable names in sex ed have created a resource unlike any other. Nina Hartley (nina.com) and Ernest Greene, her husband and the director of her video series for Adam & Eve, have produced Nina Hartley’s Guide to Great Sex During Pregnancy. As porn-industry veterans, this duo knows well how pregnant women are portrayed in the industry: They’re fetishized as Bare-Assed and Pregnant and Maternity Nymphos. (Notably, they’re also often featured alongside big girls and transwomen in series like Fuck a Freak and Perversions). Pregger porn has become a small but viable niche, but no one has ever represented pregnant women in a sensual and thoughtful way, or treated pregnant sex as anything other than a kinky turn-on. No one has made a video that addresses the many issues of pregnant sex. For the mom-to-be, there are changes to her body, hormone levels, and libido. Some women feel extremely sexy when they’re pregnant, while others struggle with their body image. Everything is in flux, from their sexual desires and fantasies to how responsive their bodies are and what positions are comfortable. Their partners can feel neglected, confused about how to interact with their partners sexually, or ambivalent about sex during the pregnancy.

Posted in Human Sexuality | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tristan Taormino’s PuckerUp: Vice Tries to Bust Me on the Porn Set

Posted by invizweb on August 30, 2008

For the Village Voice:

from “Vice Tries to Bust Me on the Porn Set”

Unexpected visitors on the porn set

By Tristan Taormino

…Things had just started to get rolling (i.e., the fucking had commenced) when I looked behind me and saw two men I didn’t recognize.

“Who are you?” I asked quietly, knowing that the performers couldn’t see them from their vantage point and not wanting to disturb the fantastic handjob in progress.

“L.A. Vice,” the one in front responded, and he flashed his badge. It looked pretty real to me. I didn’t want to stop rolling, so I led them away from the bedroom into the dining room.

“Do you have a permit?” the vice cop asked.

“Yes, I do,” I said. “I’m not sure where my production manager is—he must be getting lunch. Um, let me look for it.” I started looking through the production binders somewhat frantically as the officers rolled their eyes at me.

“You’re going to have to stop filming until we see a permit,” the first cop said firmly.

“It’s here somewhere, I swear.” They continued to look skeptical. At this point, they clearly did not believe me…

Read more.

Posted in Civil Liberties and Social Justice, Current Events, Human Sexuality | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

PuckerUp – Deflower Power: New play recounts sexual encounters of the first kind

Posted by invizweb on August 16, 2008

Tristan Taormino wrote:

I Iove a good sex survey, so when I arrived with my friend Denise to a preview of the play My First Time,we eagerly filled out the questionnaire left on each seat in the theater: Are you a virgin? How old were you when you lost your virginity? Where were you? What was your partner’s first name? Do you still keep in touch? Did you feel pressured by anyone to lose your virginity? Did you plan your first time? Did you use contraception? How would you describe your first time? Afterward, we swapped cards and read each other’s answers before an usher collected them from us.

My First Time (myfirsttimetheplay.com), which opened July 28 at New World Stages, is billed as “a play in the style of The Vagina Monologues,” where four actors share both brief snippets and detailed stories about first-time sexual experiences without costume changes, props, or sets. The stories are culled from more than 40,000 posts on myfirsttime.com, a website launched in 1998 by Peter Foldy and Craig Paddock. The duo originally created the site to do research for a teen-movie script they were working on, and it quickly became a phenomenon. Ken Davenport, who adapted the play from the site and produced and directed it, told me, “I’ve clipped things out and fixed some grammar, but otherwise not a single word has been changed.”

The stories range from funny and touching to sweet, sexy, and silly to downright disturbing. In fact, the darker tales—of date rape, coercion, and incest—are the most complex and compelling. “It’s one of the very few things that almost every single person has experienced no matter where you come from or where you live,” says Davenport. “To me, it’s a unifying experience. But for so many reasons, it is one we rarely talk about.” He has clearly made a conscious effort to represent a fair amount of diversity, with stories from both straight and queer voices of different ages, backgrounds, and abilities. The two men and two women in the cast embody the imagined identities behind the very personal postings with skill and grace. One actor, Josh Heine, was so convincing in both his recounting of the first time with his cousin’s pretty friend in a basement on a pile of laundry and the first time with a boy he sat next to on the bus ride home from school that I left the theater questioning his sexuality. I was struck by the range of feelings and emotions on display in the narratives: love, hate, lust, curiosity, ambivalence, anger, confusion, denial, anxiety, and hope—all of which we still can experience through sex beyond that first go around.

The most crafty and powerful part of the play was the juxtaposition of two stories: One is by a sweet high schooler telling the story of his girlfriend going to the prom with the boy her parents hope will be her future husband, the bishop’s son. The bishop’s son rapes her in a car and leaves her bruised on the side of the road. The other is told by a sleazy bartender played with a brilliant mix of subtlety and terror by Bill Dawes. The bartender gets his friend’s girlfriend drunk and high and fucks her, even though she clearly says no. This play has the potential to make people not only reflect on their first time, but to see what complicated terrain sex can be. “I thought it would attract a hip young crowd, but the audiences are much more diverse than I expected,” says Davenport. “I have seen families with their teenage daughters, all filling out the survey side by side. Hopefully, the play will start a discussion between parents and kids.”

Read more.

Posted in Current Events, Human Sexuality | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

Read more.

Posted in Civil Liberties and Social Justice, Current Events, Human Sexuality | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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?”

Read more.

Posted in Civil Liberties and Social Justice, Human Sexuality | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

Read more.

Posted in Human Sexuality | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »