Reveal All, Fear Nothing: Madison Young screenings in Melbourne and Sydney

In a week’s time I’ll be hosting an evening of erotic film and discussion with my sex-industry colleague  Madison Young in Melbourne (and in Sydney in the week to follow).  Over the last few months, I’ve previewed a portion of her rather massive catalogue of porn production and performance work, selected some of the work I find most compelling, and curated it into an event for my community.  This is a fantastic opportunity for me – it’s not often that I get to look into someone’s work in such depth, and as someone who has kind of come of age in the alt porn, feminist porn, and sex-positive sex-ed movements, it’s a chance to see it through the eyes of one of my peers.  Madison and I are close in age and have a number of shared identities, aspirations, and influences.  So it’s a privilege to talk shop on these topics with someone who’s been there, done that, and lovehates the internet as much as, if not more than, I do.

It’s been about 5 years since I last sat down to chat with Madison for an interview we did for a local porn site.  I’ve reviewed some of that footage over the last few days and reflected a lot on the things we talked about then, and on my own personal history with some of the same topics we explored.  I’ve been thinking about the fact that there’s this dense archive of my personal and sexual development available for purchase online – an archive that is very particular to a time and place.  I’ve been thinking about the way in which my politics became my art and my art was my body.  About the edgy practice of revelation, and the consequences we experience.  And about how the stories we tell about that – and how the way other people interpret them, or just overwrite them – changes over time.

From Arthouse Sluts, featuring Sadie Lune as Andy Warhol Prototype, with a cast of queer art sluts just dying to take it off for a chance to exhibit in Andy’s gallery…

Story is where modern Madison is at.  She released her memoir Daddy in 2014, and this is the first time she’ll be in Australia to promote and read from it.  As the book was coming together she began to throw out the phrase, ‘reveal all, fear nothing’, which came to be a sort of slogan for the project.  It’s a threatening concept.  Particularly for someone who conducts themselves in the public eye and / or has some accountability to a community of co-creators and supporters.  But as someone who puts a lot of thought into all of the aspects of her work, and who is channelling a background in performance and visual arts, I reckon she’s got a wrangle on this one.

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The way that Madison describes some of the more memorable scenes of her porn career, and how those weave into the story of her relationship to her partner and to herself, are perhaps some of the most fascinating aspects of the book.  It’s always refreshing to hear stories about sex work told as first-person narratives from those who’ve experienced them, and Madison doesn’t play to the idea that she needs to tell an easy story in order to be taken seriously.  You also get a sense of the breadth of the work she’s been involved in – from high-budget hardcore fetish porn to indie feminist smut made on a shoestring and with the help of her porn-performing friends.  I’ve tried to bring together a little bit of everything in this programme.

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Having spoken with Madison a year or so before the release of Daddy, I knew that there was a scene from a shoot we’d done together being written into the book.  The thing about making professional sex films is that you don’t necessarily get to debrief that much after the production wraps and you move onto the next thing – it’s rare to experience those long, heartfelt post-fuck D&Ms you’d have with a lover when folks are trying to pack away the lights and prep for the next shoot.  Reading Madison’s experience of that shoot was a little window into what it might be like to work with me, and in some small way served as another step to my own processing and meaning-making.  What I love about telling stories like that, especially in longer-term retrospect, is that they are necessarily subjective.  They are given to the vagaries of memory and coloured with our own intentions and contexts.

So I thought that this was as good an opportunity as any to add something to that story.  And to reflect on the ways in which we are co-creating with every instance of eroticism we share with another.  What we make may be entirely ephemeral, fading into the background of our memories, or be documented for perpetuity, or become a story to be volleyed back and forth, a blending of truths, told lovingly.  One of the selections I’ve made for the screening will come from that experience – one that was actually quite formative for me – and Madison and I will have the chance to look at it again, five years later, with all that has evolved about our careers and our relationships to our imagery.

To see this collection of Madison’s work and hear us in conversation about a whole mess o’ stuff, check out the event and ticketing pages to follow.  We’re screening in Melbourne on the 30th of July, and again in Sydney on the 11th of August.  Madison will also have books available for purchase and is very happy to sign your copy.

GV + CLAUDE Bloodplay Film Collaboration

Call-out for community input:

 

I am really excited to be collaborating with CLAUDE – the NSW queer women, trans, and gender-diverse health project – on a short film project addressing the pleasures of practicing bloodplay.  The film will take an artful, contemplative, and celebratory approach to the complexity of crossing the border of the skin.  We want this film to speak to a queer audience, and are thus seeking to crowd-source some of the content and inspiration for imagery.  Here’s how you can help:

If you’re into bloodplay, tell us what you love about it, what it feels like for you, where it takes you, what contexts you do it in (i.e. as a ritual, as kink / BDSM play, as a performance, with a lover, with a friend, in public, by yourself, hanging from the ceiling, etc).

If you’re curious about bloodplay, tell us what you want to know!  Tell us what barriers you’ve found to engaging in this type of play.  Tell us what anxieties you might have about it.

If you’re interested in potentially appearing in the film, whether that’s your spoken word, your identifiable image, or your anonymous image (yes, we can do that), please get in touch!  Potential shooting locations include Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.

Please email your responses and any questions you have about the production to this address.  By responding to this call-out (particularly items 1 & 2) you’ll be acknowledging that we may use your words as titles or voice-over in the film.  You will be contacted if they’re chosen and credited in the film.  Be as literal or as poetic / florid as you like.

Bloodplay can be any type of play that breaches the skin, and can include cutting, piercing, suturing, hook suspension, stapling, and maybe stuff we haven’t thought of yet.  This film will model safest practice in regards to this type of play and is intended to be de-stigmatizing, educational, beautiful, and queer and aims to position it as an act of empowered intimacy.

Deadline for responses is Saturday 24 July, 2015. 

Thanks in advance for your help!

Cheers,
Gala

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There’s nothing ‘radical’ about abolitionist approaches to sex education

A less-colourful version of this piece can be found in Archer Magazine.  It’s in part a response to this Archer piece, and in part a response to the cancellation of my BDSM101 workshop at Monash University Rad Sex & Consent week in April 2015, which I also wrote about here.

I was to be the facilitator of the BDSM101 workshop which was cancelled at Monash RSC Week. I’ve run BDSM101 at Melbourne Uni RSC for the last two years, and it’s gone off with no conflict with students who’ve had a variety of perspectives on and experiences with BDSM and kink philosophy and practice.  Admittedly, I was quite shocked to hear about how this played out at Monash, and the flimsy and presumptuous rhetoric upon which the objections were based.

I also feel regret for those students whose education and perhaps identities as kinky, queer, or simply curious people were effectively shut down by the course of events that played out here.  This is the sort of situation in which someone will always end up being silenced.  In my personal experience with radical feminism, it’s usually everyone else’s voices but theirs that get silenced and / or denied, and this is a pretty classic example of that – I suppose I just expected an environment like RSC not to attract such behaviour.

I understand and have respect for the position the Women’s Department rep and RSC organiser was placed in by her peers, and whilst I don’t believe that the decision she made was optimal for offering ‘the sex ed you didn’t get in high school’, I do think that it took to heart people’s personal experiences of BDSM-related abuse and / or trauma, which is also an important aspect of creating a safer space.  She takes her role seriously and was put under a lot of pressure at the last minute (the workshop was cancelled late in the week before it was intended to run), and I don’t condemn the decision she made.

It is my understanding that the students in opposition to BDSM intended to picket the workshop, which would have created an environment in which students who were curious about or interested in kink would be outed and publicly shamed for crossing the picket line.  While I find the idea of picketing something like this to be politically ineffective, and feel that the workshop was actually a very appropriate space to discuss the very concerns raised by some of the students, I also care about constructing a safe container for education to happen, and that would have been compromised had the workshop been picketed.

Radical feminism is a social determinist philosophy.  There is simply no space in the scope of its teachings for individual agency of any kind, which makes it a really unsatisfying feminism for a really large percentage of the population, including queers, people of color, gender diverse people, kinky people, and so on.  It deals in binaries.  For those of us who fall on so many other parts of social and cultural spectra, it is a feminism of erasure and denial.  Whilst I certainly encourage debate around its tenets, I must also acknowledge that there is a point at which that debate will necessarily circle back onto itself.  I have engaged in enough of these in my experience as a queer, sexworking, kinky, sex-positive feminist to know that they will always end in the same empirical fallout of agency-denial.  So instead of engaging any further with that condition of the discussion, I’m simply going to offer a few key points about BDSM that I intended to include in the workshop, and can answer to some of the concerns raised.

Education in and communication about sexuality in general, and BDSM in particular is absolutely essential, especially in light of its current popular-cultural mainstreaming, which gives more people access to superficial representations.  The greatest ‘unsafety’ that’s present here is the fact that people have had their access to that education cut off.  This can result in things like unsafe play, poor communication and boundaries, unchecked presumptions about what actually happens in a BDSM exchange, and the like.  I would suggest that the key to healthy sexuality, kinky or otherwise, is about access to education, self-awareness, a complex understanding of consent, healthy relationships, the construction of one’s boundaries, and one’s relationship to pleasure.  The work we do in BDSM101 discusses all of this at an introductory level, and provides resources for further research.

Abuses of BDSM negotiations and dynamics occur when people either choose not to receive and integrate education about these topics, or when they don’t have access to it at all.  And even then, sometimes it still happens, just like it happens in all sorts of other relationships.  However: if the only understanding of BDSM you ever got was from reading ‘Dworkin-critiques-de Sade’, or from kink.com or 50 Shades of Grey, it’s my opinion that you should neither be practicing nor condemning it.  This is why I do the work that I do – because none of those perspectives are enough, and all of them oversimplify.

I am not particularly interested in ‘promoting’ BDSM.  I don’t really need to – its got plenty of promo dollars behind it already, ones that reach much further than I do.  Which aspects of sexuality people choose to engage with is absolutely their choice, and I concern myself with helping people to make those choices consciously.  What I’m interested in is providing some information about what BDSM is – and is not – so that people can make their own decisions about it.  I’m sure that those who have opposed its discussion at Monash RSC feel the same way, which is unfortunate and perhaps a little premature (much of the opposition seems to be academic, which is only one of many ways to engage with the topic).

The rhetoric used to campaign against the workshop illustrated, for me, the precise reasons this workshop was needed in the first place.   Simply: abolitionist perspectives on sex education put people in danger.  I can liken what’s happened at Monash to the idea that we shouldn’t teach children about things like condom use, because it encourages them to have sex.  The fact is that they’re having it anyway, and that there are students in reach of the MSA who are practicing kink anyway.  To deny them education on how to do that in a risk-aware, consensual way is to fall into a position of negligence.

For those in the Monash student body who would have attended the workshop, I’d like to say the following:

BDSM does not equal abuse.  It’s ok to be curious about your own sexuality and to venture into some of its more nuanced spaces.  It’s GREAT to question the philosophy and the practice.  It’s also ok to question ‘the scene’ (whether that’s on-campus feminism, BDSM, tantra, sex-positivity, etc).  All of this helps you to figure out exactly what it is that YOU want from your sexuality, your embodiment, and your health and wellbeing.  Ask questions.  Be intrepid.  Get some education and then play, experiment, try things on.  Not everything will fit.  What doesn’t fit, you can leave behind.  What does fit, you can wear fabulously.  And no one has the right to deny your experience – it is yours, you own it, and you can find spaces in which you can be proud of it.  And learn to care for yourself in the process.

When I was an undergraduate with ill-informed anarcho-feminist politics, it was simply impossible for me to make space for something like BDSM, because anything existing within a power structure was something I wanted to dismantle.  You can see how this would quickly become unsustainable, because that means opposing everything – a joyless and exhausting task.  But I did what any decent liberal-arts education should encourage you to do: I stayed open to other arguments and possibilities, and it didn’t take long for me to make some rhetorical and personal evolutions toward embracing things like nuance, queerness, non-binary-ness, subjectivity, and the like.

So my suggestion is that the effects of this degree of backlash will pass.  Sure, there will always be someone who wants to deny your experience – it’s an easy rhetorical roadblock and ‘radical’ politics love a blockade.  But the more experienced you become and the more you integrate into reality outside of campus dramas like this one, the more possibility there is for your experience to be owned, cherished and celebrated, if you so choose.

If you’re looking for some basic discussions of BDSM outside of a radfem viewpoint, or looking for some practical skills, I am more than happy to be a resource to you where possible.  I can point you towards some great workshops, books, podcasts, and other educational and social resources, and you can make your own decisions and ask your own questions.  The resource guide I created for the workshop is here.  And it’s very easy to get in touch with me should you be seeking any further resources.

I regret that the workshop wasn’t able to occur in this venue, and deeply question the political discourse which has made it so, but hope you’ll all look out for other opportunities provided on and off campus for education and discussion.

All the best,
Gala

Cinematic Intimacies: ‘Church of Carnality’ Film Guide

Here’s a digital guide to my selections for the first official ‘Cinematic Intimacies’ programme.  This short film event opened in Sydney in March 2015 and will tour to a few other cities in Australia in this incarnation.

This guide links to the places where you can purchase either the film mentioned, or the director’s other work.  It also links to biographical and CV info where relevant.  I urge you to support independent erotic cinema wherever you can, whether by sharing it, buying your own copy, or perhaps even organinsing a screening!

SLUTS AND GODDESSES (EXCERPT) (1992): Annie Sprinkle and Maria Beatty, USA (9 mins)
Here’s some great info about the Sluts and Goddesses concept.  This is a video version fo the workshop, which is still amongst Annie’s continued offerings to sex-positive sex-ed.  Annie now focuses a great deal of her time on Ecosexual projects, and has recently put out Goodbye Gauley Mountain with her partner Elizabeth Stephens.

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SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL PORNOGRAPHERS (2014): Toytool Comiteé, SPAIN (12 mins)

LIANDRA LOVE 1, 2, & 3 (2014): Michelle Flynn, AUS (8 min)

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CAMPOS DE CASTILLA (2014): Post-Op, SPAIN (5 mins)

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LET’S MAKE A PORNO (2013): from the X Confessions series by Lust Films, Spain (13 mins)

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MISS ALYX AND THE RUBBER SLUTS FROM HELL (2012): Alyx Fox, USA (11 mins)

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PINK & WHITE VIDEO COMPILATION (2014): Shine Louise Houston for Pink & White Productions, USA (6 mins)

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ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS AN UNFAITHFUL MUMMY (2014): Joanna Rytel, SWEDEN (10 mins)

FISTS ARE FOR FUCKING (AN OPEN LETTER) (2013): Louise Lush & Zahra Stardust, AUS (10 mins)

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Listen up.

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Once when I was a wee baby ho, before I knew enough about boundaries to work healthfully, I got into a rather complex relationship with a client, which ended dramatically and painfully with the hope that I wouldn’t have to take out the second intervention order of my career in the sex industry.  Towards the end of this torrid affair, I received an email from him that read along the lines of a ‘cease and desist’ order, demanding that I permanently delete all evidence of contact with him from all accounts and devices.  I’d look the email up and quote him now, which would perhaps be more journalistically effective, but why dig up what’s been laid to rest?

For some reason, this demand just destroyed me.  Sent me into a tearful rage-followed-by-deep-sadness that completely confounded me.  Obviously his words weren’t legally binding and couldn’t be enforced.  But they caused an intensely visceral reaction, something like grief, but redder.  After doing some verbal processing with a friend and co-worker not long after I received his ‘order’, I figured out what it was that made me feel so fucking violated by something that wasn’t technically very threatening at all: he was trying to take my story.

I’ve done enough undergraduate cultural studies writing to know that storytelling is a primary mode of historical creation for that vast majority who don’t get a mention in conventional (‘white supremacist capitalist patriarchal’) his/tory.  And I have enough experience working and existing in marginalized communities (mostly in regards to gender and sexuality) to see this in action, in effect.  And because I often find a therapeutic quality in the intellectual, I toyed around with that idea, looked back on some old essays I had written on the subject, and made sense of my intense emotionality at the idea that someone could, in some great sweep of impulse and bravado, erase that story.  Remove my access to the story that we were writing as we went, one that told itself remarkably enough to help me avoid ever writing myself into one like it again.

But the idea that someone could prevent me from telling it, should ever I need to, was overwhelmingly disempowering – thus the tears and the anger.  And I recognized that this was not just an isolated incident of pedestrian hookerdrama – it was, in fact, part of a larger and more systematic erasure that takes place when the oppressor feels the need to ensure that they’re never held accountable by the oppressed; when they perhaps begin to feel the guilt creeping in; when they feel the imperative to have the final word on the matter.  I felt instantly connected to a collective history of women, of queer people, of sex workers.  And it hurt all the more that people are always tryina take our stories.  To silence them.  To make us feel like we have to ask politely for a willing ear to hear them.  Like we can’t tell them when and where we know they need to be heard.

This happens to so many folks, every day, all the time.  Histories are erased, lost, stolen, overwritten.  Our storytelling is policed.  Our lived realities are regulated, trimmed, censored like the labia in Picture magazine.

Last week I watched a community event revoke an opportunity for a friend and colleague of mine to tell her story in a public space.  The backlash was intense, dramatic.  The shit was slung.  Various accusations of ‘silencing’ were made.  And no one’s really any better for it.  For the person at the centre of it, there’s a lot at stake in being able to share her story, which is one about fighting back against an experience of violence against sex workers; she took her client / rapist to court, and she won.  Writing it was a monumental labour, telling it will be another one, and it’s not a story we often hear in a culture where sex workers’ own stories are so frequently marginalized, glossed over, crassly joked about, and silenced.  Where those stories rarely make it to court, let alone are heard and declared to be truth.

The infighting that has resulted has been, for me, a testament to how deeply we cling to our stories, sometimes so much that we can’t even make space for the ones that others have to tell.  We fight over how ‘your story isn’t my story’, and I pick which stories deserve to be told; we fail to see that just because my story’s backdrop of intersectional oppression doesn’t quite have the same tonality as yours (I’ve since learned that this is called ‘oppression olympics’), we’re still working within the same shade and we do share history, we do overlap.  We collapse the stories with the people telling them, which dictates which ones can be told.

Today, December 17th, is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, and I can’t stress enough how significant it is for people both inside and outside of the sex worker community to take the radical action of listening.  Listen to as many stories as you can get close enough to hear.  Whether or not they’re comfortable, whether or not they match your perception of sex work and the people who do it, whether or not they resonate with your politics, whether the person telling them identifies as the victim or the victor.  The best way we can understand and affect change in the violence done towards sex workers, or any group that loses out when inequality and hatred reign, is to shut the fuck up and let them talk.  Let them tell you how it is for them.  And how they’d like it to be.  Every worker has a different story, and there is simply no one-size-fits-all politic, policy, legal structure, working modality, or stiletto size.  So gather up as many stories as you can get your hands on (not just the ones that are immediately available through mainstream channels) and let those collected works inform your understanding of this his/herstory.

Listening is an action.  Often it’s the beginning of a chain of actions.

Thankfully Ruby found another, more widely-visible venue to tell her story, and appeared on 3CR’s Queering the Air on Sunday.  The episode can be streamed or downloaded here.

For resources on the growing body of sex worker storytelling:

ProVision, magazine published by the Scarlet Alliance
The Red Umbrella Diaries (podcasted here)
Sex Worker Literati
Every Ho I Know Says So

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This won’t be the first time ima write about the subject of birthing, fertility, mothering.

Now, you might say that I’m not totally qualified to talk about this, seeings as I haven’t actually done it.  Well, I haven’t birthed a human anyway.  I’ve made life of a few other kinds of babies; kombucha, Amber, a few wonderfully erudite turns of phrase which live on in my annoyingly-unsearchable archive of Facebook mail.  I’ve never even attended the birth of a human.  But lately it’s taken a front seat in my consciousness, calling me to address it both personally and professionally.

I have not always felt a particular affinity with birthing, pregnancy, or mothering.  Like any good early-20s gender studies major, I did my time deconstructing my sociobiological imperatives and self-declaring my intentions never to be anybody’s mumma, scoffing at the prospect of having some parasite feed off me.  I think working at a Barnes and Noble in Orange County during a release party for a Harry Potter book really sealed the deal for my pre-peak-fertility self.  That many under-10s and their objectionably-OC parental units up after 10pm will make any rational eggs shrivel up and die.

But you get older, and your politics shrivel up like your rational eggs.  Or at least they soften round the edges.  Just as an antagonism towards parenting fell under my feminist umbrella in those petulant undergraduate days, an affinity with parenting, mothering, birthing, and supporting falls under my much larger, functionally intersectional umbrella today.  And, like many things in my life, I’ve got porno to thank.

My first close encounter with a pregnant body was in a pornographic context.  Madison Young came to town a few years ago, which was pretty exciting for me as a fan of her work; she’s inspired me in more ways than one and I have an affinity with her multi-faceted approach to sexuality.  I helped to hostess her stay in Melbourne, interviewed her on camera, fucked her mouth, asked her to hurt me (she obliged), came on her, and brought her some takeaway ramen.  Not all of these things happened in the porno, but most did; reader, can you guess which ones?

Madison was in her second trimester at that time (and I do believe you’ll be able to read more about that in her upcoming memoir, Daddy), so her daughter was taking real shape in her body, and so this was very much an element of how I engaged with her and her body.  The belly was there, it was something to wrap around and to make space for.  Another curve on the frame, but one that seemed to beg even more reverence than the others.  There were a lot of reasons why that scene was one of the more memorable in my career, but one most clear to me now was the power contained in and commanded by Madison’s pregnant body.  While I didn’t explicitly identify that in the moment, this was the first time I was able to eroticise fertility, to connect with it in the way that I personally prefer to connect with most things (through fucking, obvs).  I was humbled by the belly and what it represented in a way that evoked a sense of submission.  Fertiltiy worship, I now like to call it.  And that was a very appropriate time for something like that to manifest for me as I began to explore the states and sensations of submission that are now a key part of my kinky sexuality.

Of course Madison sexed her pregnancy particularly well.  As a performance artist, porn performer, sex educator and advocate, she had a pretty deep connection with sexuality as enhanced by and mediated through pregnancy, and now gives talks, coaching and workshops on that very subject.  She’s got a decent background in practices of embodiment, which is one of the ways in which I’ve come to view pregnancy and birth.

While of course my life’s circumstances would make this a more likely occurrence for me than for someone who works in finance, most of the incredibly fabulous, thoughtful, and intentional mothers and pro-birth folks I know I’ve met through porn.  Jennifer Lyon Bell, Sadie Lune, Liandra Dahl, Ingrid Ryberg, Anne Sabo, Wendy Delorme, and a few other colleagues and friends who are or were porn performers and producers are doing their mothering in the context of careers that address sexuality, and many of them did their birthing in it, too.  While not all of them have spoken with me specifically about the connections between pregnancy, birthing, and motherhood with sexuality, they have all been visions of the ways in which we as women bridge the mother and the lover, the Madonna and the whore, sacred and profane, the imperative (procreation) and the luxury (sexual self-actualisation).  Folks who have in some way challenged or blurred the sharp split our culture would like us to maintain between the incarnations of our generative bodies.  This force of smutty mums, which grows stronger as another generation of the feminist porn movement comes of procreative age, has provided some pretty fertile ground for me to consider my own relationships to fertility and sexuality.

Doing this comes at a risk to us that begs a certain level of hypervigilance about how we might appear to the wider public.  Kids and sexuality, let alone pornography, are simply divergent issues.  Never mind that sexuality makes kids, or that kids have sexuality.  It’s a no-fly zone.  Parenting and porn-peddling or -pontificating can be a risky mixed business, and more than one of my colleagues has endured the hypocrisy of consumers and audiences who will onanise over your words and images with one hand and write shaming commentary of your value as a mother with the other.  There can also be backlash from our own communities about the ‘appropriateness’ of allowing one element of our lives to be informed by or engage with the other.

The ways in which these things (sexuality and fertility, birth, parenting) might intersect in my own experience is something I’m driven to observe through the forms of cultural production in which I do my work.  But I keep reminding myself to check in with the ‘standards of the community’ from time to time, which I’ve tended do less and less as I de-value the standards of the mainstream.  Despite myself, I feel sensitive to the fact that the work I share around my own research and experience with birthing as I train to become a doula (and perhaps at some point a parent) might be such a far cry from that standard that the act of putting it out into the world undoes my intentions and my drive to dig deeply into something so intensely primal and, for me, essential.  But this is the process of engaging with taboo.

And so I look to the various ways in which the many mothers in my professional and personal network continue to cultivate constructive discussion about this subject, and relish the times when we are able to share space, compare notes, and appreciate one anothers’ processes and practices of creation, genetic and otherwise.

 

gala’s (abbreviated) guide to hooker art

This week I’ll be chatting with Christian Vega, creator and host of the world’s only sex-worker-run radio show The Vixen Hour, on the topic of ‘sex work and the arts’.  We both have a list a mile long of topics and examples and gripes and excitements, and we know we won’t get to it all.  In preparing for the show I’ve had a chance to do a little more research on the sex work / art crossovers I already know, which has of course revealed loads of other incredible performers and creatrixes whose work I’m only just coming across.  For listeners of the Vixen Hour and just those who are interested in just another wonderful thing that sex workers give to the world, I’m compiling a resource guide to hooker art.  If you have anything that you think should be added to the list, please contact me and share!

Annie Sprinkle

Madison Young founder of Femina Potens, which specialises in LGBTQ artists and frequently features art created by sex workers.

Sadie Lune self-declared ‘Artist, Performer, Lover, Whore’.  Her work often, but not always, addresses themes of sexuality, and she’s currently working on a project called Biological Clock, which addresses her experience trying to become a mother with the confluence of identities she creates – queer, sex worker, broke, feminist…the list goes on.

Maria Llopis  founder of GirlsWhoLikePorno

BuBu de la Madeleine

Veronica Vera

 

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Goodness.  The last few months have really made the word ‘occupation’ feel very full for me.  Occupied.  In addition to the muchness I’ve had happening in Melbourne, I’ve also been spending an uncharateristic amount of time in airports getting liminal and trying to sneak really heavy bags in as hand luggage.

I have always moved with sex.  When I go through my history of travels and transversings along the earth, I find I have very often moved around the place by the vehicle of my existence in the field of sexuality.  In this way my connection with sex has created a lot of space in my life, has allowed me to repeatedly bust my geographies with a dildo-handled mallet and touch my feet to new grounds.  Travel and sex are both pretty trippy.  Journeymaking, life-altering, self-constructing, horizon-bending.  They are ways in which we feel into new territory and shine light on elements of ourselves and our surroundings.  Other bodies, other lands, other modalities of being.  I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to combine these two things.  They’re an intense but revelatory match.  Sometimes I am jumping off of corporeal cliffs when I’m far away from home.  This can be completely disorienting / rupturing.  But sometimes that’s necessary.

While the roaming I’ve done recently has often been saturated with labour and frenzy and general exhaust, I’ve tried to hang on to some of the rituals that I associate with travel and becoming acquainted with place.  The networks and webs I’ve grown into continue to provide me with little perks that still allow me to explore within the constraints of extremely long days, that call me to slowness when I’m feeling the absence of the deceleration mechanisms I employ at home.  I’m currently tearing up Sydney’s hills on a friend’s single-speed, looking for the green blocks on the map and gravitating towards them, making sure I walk around with headphones on, cooking my own food.  I try to cultivate some sense of my daily normativities and domesticities in these places, to carry my homeness around with me.  Like a turtle.  Self-contained.

For someone who is personally shifting intensely into a desire for roots, for foundational work, to ground deeply, this movement does shake me a little, and I attempt to respond by just allowing that and being grateful that I have access to this motion and the meditative qualities that can offer.  Being out of your element can make you quite focussed, and I think I require that mental training at this moment when the breadth of my labour has become a little more broad than can be comfortably reached.

outtake

With a few exceptions, at this stage I make my own promo images, time-consuming as it may be.  Things feel a lot more specific when I do them myself.  This was an outtake from a little session today trying to get a profile picture for webcam work.  It’s technically better than the one I went with, but 5 out of 6 friendlies say it just doesn’t have enough ‘come hither’.

kink of calibre

It’s becoming clear to me that I’ve been blessed with some pretty incredible mentors, teachers, and other cohorts in my time in the sex industry.  I’m sure that this is in no small part because much of my current work is quite focussed on BDSM, which thrives on peer education, and where the quality of the information and tutelage you receive does really determine the quality of your play / execution.  I’m currently reading John D. Weal’s The Leatherman’s Protocol Handbook, and as someone who’s lived through about half a century of leather culture, he’s got a damned good grasp on the value of passing the right information in the right way.  This is basically what I’ve been receiving since I began my BDSM practice, and I’m beginning to realise how very cushy I’ve had it, in both commercial and private play.

Recently I was taken on as an apprentice by Mistress Electra Amore, whose reputation precedes her, but please feel free to check her credentials.  At Barbara Carrellas’ Urban Tantra training in 2011, I ended up ditching my cabin and spending my nights talking shit by the fire in the main hall with her and Lady Ambrosia.  At the time I didn’t really have much sense of the calibre of women I was surrounded by.  But as I’ve seen them in their contexts since then, I cannot believe my good fortune in being at the right place at the right time.  The first professional BDSM session I ever witnessed was in Ambrosia’s dungeon, and that set the bar pretty high for what I expect from myself as a professional player.  The first person who ever tied me up was Phillip Gordon, and the first to suspend me was Erin Kyan (via another keen rigger who had commissioned Erin for an intensive lesson).  I couldn’t have asked for better guides into restraint.  And now, as I begin the first assignments in Mz Electra’s kink curriculum and realising how very thorough and heartfelt and engaged this experience is going to be, I’m feeling pretty honoured to have such incredible guides into this realm.  Never have I felt so empowered and worthy in my work.  Enough, now, to call it a ‘career’.

The Leather tradition emphasizes homage to those players of the past and an acknowledgement that each person you connect with in the Leatherworld becomes a part of your identity as a player.  If these folks are my foundation, I feel like I’m going to stand on some pretty solid ground by the time I’m able to pass my knowledge on to others.  And for that I am most grateful.