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Motif Magazine Covers "Bare As You Dare" (Covers... Get It?)

Katie Lewis of Motif Magazine.

Katie Lewis of Motif Magazine.

My Bare As You Dare clothing optional workshop has been called "life changing." I think it's safe to say that writer Katie Lewis of Motif Magazine got more than she bargained for when she attended: 

"My dare this month was to prove that my clothes don’t make the woman by taking the Bare as you Dare clothing-optional workshop at this year’s Fetish Fair Flea.

I figured it would be easy. Get naked and socialize? Piece of cake! But when I entered the workshop, my feelings changed entirely. People of all shapes, sizes and ages entered the room, and clothes started to hit the floor. I wondered, are ALL these people gonna get naked?" Read the entire article here

My Sexual Hang Ups: Assholes

Sexual hang-ups. We all have them. However, whenever I discuss mine, I’m always met with surprise. It’s as if, because of the work I do (as co-founder of Sex Positive St. Louis, as a traveling sex educator and freelance sexual guru) I’m expected to have absolutely no sexual hang-ups at all.

I’m human. I’m not made of wood, people. Prick me; I bleed (except that one time in 2002 when the EMTs couldn’t test my blood sugar because I was so dehydrated that after several needle sticks, I, in fact, did not bleed).

So here’s one of my sexual hang-ups:

Assholes.

Not people who are rude or annoying. Actual assholes. The anus. It grosses me out. Shit comes out of it.

I tried anal intercourse (unsuccessfully) when I was 16, and then not again until 20 years later when, during vaginal intercourse, a partner just took my dick and put it in their ass. I wasn't even sure what was happening at first. The only other anal intercourse experience I can recall as a top was the time when the condom we were using got completely obliterated without me noticing. I pulled out, looked down, saw the split condom blooming around the base of my dick like flower petals or a gun with its barrel peeled back.

This was followed by the awkward moment when I had to tell my partner that we had just had unprotected anal sex. And this was followed by a trip to the St. Louis Effort for AIDS for HIV testing…

I’ve had anal intercourse as a bottom exactly once and that was shortly after I turned 40. Yeah, I waited a good while on that one. So there you have it. I’m a forty-one-year-old sex educator who’s had anal intercourse about three time. That’s how asshole-phobic I am.

The sad irony is that I love the ass as a concept. But until pretty recently my love of the ass has been confined to the cheeks and maybe (when I’m feeling really adventurous) the crack. The asshole terrifies and grosses me out.

I’m trying to get over this. I’m trying to embrace the ass as a whole, which means embracing the ass as a hole.

Until recently, I had only eaten ass a couple times in my entire life. I’m trying to eat ass more enthusiastically now. It’s quite a leap for someone as squeamish and germaphobic as me (I hate using public bathrooms. Actually, I hate using anyones bathroom but my own). I have to admit that part of what turns me about eating ass is that it feels really dirty and wrong. I’m almost worried that if I overcome my hang-ups about the anus entirely, it will cease to be as much of a turn on, but these are the occupational hazards I’m willing to risk on my road to being a better sexual guru. You’re welcome.

I has occurred to me that my encounters with ass have been so fraught with fear and mystery in part because I’ve never really looked at an anus before. My normal encounters with the asshole have been in the dark, by candlelight or even when under normal lighting conditions, I’m too close and too focused on the job I’m performing to really look at the asshole.

To remedy this, I asked a friend to let me shoot a portrait of her asshole and she agreed. I approached it like any other portrait shoot (aside from the fact that the key light was on a boom, lowered to the floor and pointed up). Since it was a portrait, I used a long lens (250mm) to flatter the asshole and not give it any wide angle distortion.

During the shoot and while reviewing the photos I discovered that assholes are (or at least can be) very cute, and are not nearly as scary as I would have thought.

Oh, and if anyone would like me to shoot a portrait of their asshole, just holla atcha boy. I also gives volume discounts, so feel free to book me for your next asshole portrait party.

The Big Book of Domination Blog Tour: New York, New York!

So, back in November I flew to New York for the release of “The Big Book of Domination” the erotic anthology that my work is included in, from Cleis Press, edited by the awesome D.L. King.

I had the pleasure of staying in the home of author Laura Antoniou and her lovely wife Karen. I knew I was in the right place when I saw the Revenge of the Jedi poster in their guest bedroom (side note, as card-carrying member of the Star Wars fan club, I got a Revenge of the Jedi patch in the mail the year before the movie was released. I’m pretty sure I had already lost it by the time it was announced that the title of the movie would be changed).

 

My first night in New York I went to a BDSM party at a club called the Parthenon. They were playing really good music from Pandora, but it was the free version, so in the middle of the really intense scene, there would be car insurance commercials, which kinda broke the mood.

After the party we went walking around Manhattan looking for a place to get coffee at 1 a.m. and ended up in a 24 hour McDonalds. The girl behind the counter took one look at my date (six-foot tall in her boots and dressed from head to toe in black leather with matching gloves) and asked, “Do you ride motorcycles or hunt vampires?” Then she looked at me and said, “You must be her sidekick.”

The next day was the reading at Purple Passion. Karen had to drive us from Queens to Brooklyn, to pick up D.L., then from Brooklyn to Manhattan for the reading. The traffic was so bad that we were almost late for our own event. Karen told me the old joke that “no one drives in New York because there’s so much traffic.” In Brooklyn we cut through an orthodox Jewish neighborhood, and since it was Saturday, there was almost no one on the roads. A great time saver if you ever find yourself in the same situation.

We arrived at Purple Passion just in time. On the bill were with me were D.L., Laura, and Rachel Kramer Bussel. Funny story…

Rachel Kramer Bussel, D.L. King, me and Laura Antoniou. Photo by Stacie Joy

So, back when I was a frustrated, unpublished writer of erotica, I submitted a few stories to anthologies edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, and she always rejected my work. So, taking inspiration from 50 Cent’s “How to Rob” (the mix-tape track where the unsigned 50 Cent used each verse to describe how he would rob successful rap and R&B artists), I decided to write a story describing how I would fuck successful erotica writers and editors, sort of positioning myself as the "50 Cent of Erotica."  In said story, I articulated my desire to fuck Rachel Kramer Bussel from behind while shoving her face first into a plate of gourmet cupcakes. It was independently published in a little anthology sold locally in St. Louis, what were the odds that a New York editor like Rachel Kramer Bussel would ever read it?

...Well, the odds were pretty good as it turns out, because she read the book. And now we were performing at the same reading.

I asked Karen if she thought I should apologize to Rachel now that I would be seeing her in person. Karen’s advice was not to bring it up and all, and I thought that was a brilliant idea.

At the reading, Rachel stepped out of the room for a minute and while she was gone, Laura brought up the story (she’d heard me me perform it at a reading we’d done at Fetish Fair Fleamarket earlier that year). I quickly wrapped up the conversation so that we wouldn’t be talking about it by the time Rachel returned.

The reading went off without a hitch, Laura read her introduction to the book, which was hilarious, D.L. read her story and then introduced Rachel. When Rachel went up, she put in a plug for her her new collection of essays, “Sex and Cupcakes.” She held up a postcard of the cover art which features her... topless, bent over a table full of cupcakes.

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Getting Naked at Dartmouth: The IvyQ Conference

2014-11-07 WEB Me and Denice Frohamn WEB.jpg

Me and Denice Frohman, after her performance at IvyQ.

So last week I presented at the IvyQ Conference at Dartmouth University. It’s a conference of LGBTQ Ivy League students. To say the least I was intimidated. I’m used to presenting at kink conferences, not at schools I wasn’t a good enough student to get into.

Then I arrived in Hanover, New Hampshire and read the conference schedule. That’s when panic set in. I was scheduled to teach Polyamory 101 and my body acceptance workshop, Bare As You Dare. When I checked the schedule I saw that Janet W. Hardy, co-author of The Ethical Slut, was teaching an intro level polyamory class. Why would anybody take an intro to Polyamory class from me when they could take one from one of the women who (literally) wrote the book on polyamory? Then I realized that Janet W. Hardy’s class was at the same time as my Bare As You Dare class.  I had to call Elaine, my partner, to calm me down and convince me everything would be okay, but I thought I’d be facing two empty classrooms.

As time for my Polyamory 101 class drew near, I was, in fact, staring at rows and rows of empty seats. This has happened to me once before. It’s not the best feeling. You feel really silly, like you threw yourself a party and no one showed up. You start to wonder how long you’re obligated to keep hoping people will come before you give up and go somewhere and weep.

Luckily, people started to trickle in and I ended up with about twenty bright-eyed and engaged students and everything went fine. One down, one to go.

Then it was time for my clothing optional body image workshop. Joe, my tech assistant, came in to help me get the room set up and he sheepishly said, “Um… I was told that you usually teach this class… in the nude.” I have to admit, I enjoy that my life leads to situations like this one.  

At first I was worried that no one would show up. Then I figured that a bunch of Ivy League college students would be less willing to get naked than the older crowds I present to at kink conferences. I thought I would be the only naked one presenting to a bunch of clothed college kids, and wondered how that would feel. I was so wrong. This was the biggest, barest and best Bare As You Dare workshop I’ve ever done. I was in a room that held seventy students and it was packed. Kids just started streaming in and taking their clothes off. Presenter Vanessa Van Edwards gives out chocolates to people who answer questions during her presentations, so taking a page from her book, I gave out chocolates to students who were brave enough to get undressed. Once the chocolates started being given out, the clothes just started flying. The class basically came to a stop while I delivered chocolate to naked and half naked co-eds. By the end of the session, I was out of chocolates. I am now officially the old man who gives candy to students in exchange for taking their clothes off.

I somehow got it in my head that the class ended at 4:30, so I sped thought some stuff and cut out some parts where I talk about myself and was done around 4:20. I realized the class went to 5pm and we had 40 minutes left. I kinda panicked thinking I was going to have to fill time. I had built in a new part where I ask if any member of the audience is willing to come in front of the group, get naked and talk about their body image issues. I thought, maybe I’d get one or two takers. I lost count of how many people volunteered. Not only did we fill 40 minutes, but so many people were willing to share that we ran over time (but we only ran over time by two minutes, cause that’s how I roll).

Several students confessed to horrible traumas in their childhood and high-school years. There was so much radical honesty in that room. They didn’t just get physically naked, they got emotionally naked. There were several times when I thought I might cry, but I held it in for the sake of the students. I’ve never been so moved at a conference.

There was one young lady in the audience who caught my eye. She came to speak to me after the workshop and I flirted with her, which is probably somewhat immoral, if I think about it too hard. She told me how old she was and the next thing that came out of my mouth was, “You’re young enough to be my daughter,” and with that, any infinitesimal chance I had with her was brutally murdered.

After the workshop I went to see spoken-word artist Denice Frohman perform. She was amazing. I’m really happy to see poets at conferences like this. By the end of her set, she’d brought the crowd to their feet and received a long and very authentic standing ovation. Afterwards, I stood in line to buy a copy of her CD. When I told her I was from St. Louis, the conversation immediately turned to the situation in Ferguson. When I got back to my hotel, I listened to her entire album in a single sitting, which I almost never do. It’s that good.

Waiting for the shuttle back to my hotel, I found myself sitting in front of a building that was all lit up in the colors of the rainbow, underneath a billowing Gay Pride flag and a gentle snow fall. It was a beautiful and calming ending to a very healing event.    

Dartmouth WEB.jpg

Friday I'm off to New York City to perform my work at the book release party for The Big Book of Domination. St. Louis, please don't burn down while I'm gone. 

Bare As You Dare North American Tour 2014

 

Back in 2012, Stephanie Co, the co-founder and then coordinator of the World Naked Bike Ride St. Louis, asked me to put together a workshop on body image to help promote the ride. In retrospect, it’s a little embarrassing that the idea hadn’t occurred to me before that, but I jumped at the chance.

I did the first Bare As You Dare: Radical Body Acceptance workshop at the old Shameless Grounds in the Koken Art Factory. It was clothing optional within the limits of applicable laws, so a lot of brave people sat together in their underwear, among friends and strangers alike, and talked about their body image issues. It was pretty incredible.

I did the second Bare As You Dare at the new Shameless Grounds in Benton Park, not long after they opened their doors in 2013, and then decided to take the show on the road.

This year, I’ve held BAYD workshops in Providence, Rhode Island for the New England Leather Alliance, in Vancouver, Canada for Westcoast Bound, and I’m very happy, proud (and more than a bit surprised) to say that this Friday, I’ll be naked on the campus of Dartmouth University, conducting a BAYD workshop for IvyQ, an association of LGBT ivy league students. One bonus of holding this event in non-food and drink establishments is that participants can, and sometimes do, go completely nude.

When I was in school, there was no booth on career day for Clothing Optional Workshop Leader, and yet somehow, in the back of my mind, I was pretty sure I’d end up doing something like this. 

From the Web: The BMI is a Big Fat Scam

 

The Ethics of Polyamory by David Wraith

 

 

Photo by Insomniac Studios

The speech I gave to The Ethical Society of St. Louis on The Ethics of Polyamory is available as a podcast. Huge thanks to The Ethical Society for the opportunity and for making the recording available online. One important note: further research has shown me that the numbers I gave on infidelity are probably closer to 25% than 50%, so adjust your expectations accordingly. 

From the Ethical Societiy's website: This talk will discuss polyamory (consensual non-monogamy) as a type of relationship structure. Topics include the myriad of non-monogamous relationship structures, the ethics of polyamory, negotiation and consent, time management, how polyamorous structures can exist in an ostensibly monogamous world, and a personal perspective on a polyamorous life.

From The Web: The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society

One of my favorite things currently in existence is The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society. It's a group of ladies in New York City who take advantage of the their state's laws allowing women to be topless anywhere that men are by (among other things) gathering in public parks to read books, topless. After all, is a right that no one exercises really a right? 

As someone who's always looking for new and different clothing optional events to attend and produce, this entry about a meeting they hosted at Azya Wine & Chocolate Bar was near and dear to my heart. Rock on, ladies. 

From The Web: Can We Pray the Polyamory Away?

From Showtime's Polyamory: Married & Dating

I've been saying for years that religious conservatives (whether they will publicly admit it or not) see the writing on the was about marriage equality for same sex couples and are already sharpening their knives for polyamory. Case in point: 

Can We Pray the Polyamory Away? by Jennifer LeClaire from charismanews.com June, 19th 2014. 

I'm Sick of This

 

I’ve been crying all day. I don’t typically cry unless someone close to me has died, and I didn’t know Michael Brown. If I had to guess, I’d say the last time I cried over something not connected to me personally was in April of 1992, watching the LA riots on TV and smelling the smoke coming through my windows from vacant buildings that had been set on fire in Welston.

I’m tempted to write something about Michael Brown, but I doubt I know anything about this case that anyone who would bother to read it doesn’t know already, and my tendency when I don’t have something unique to add is to sit back, listen and learn before just adding to the noise.

Besides, every time I try to write something, I’m overwhelmed by déjà vu. Hasn’t it been written before? Could I just take something about Kenneth Chamberlain, or Trayvon Martin or Sean Bell and do a “find” “replace” with Michael Brown’s name in MicroftWord? Maybe I should just create a boiler plate document that I can fill in the next time this happens: Murdered Black Man Mad Libs.

Whenever someone (almost always straight, white and male) accuses me of not being patriotic, I inform him that I am in fact more patriot than he is. It’s easy to love a country designed by and for people who look like you. The trick is loving your country, even when your country doesn’t love you back. And I do. But it’s hard.

That said…

I’M SICK OF THIS SHIT.

I’m sick of being reminded, time and time again that my life has less value. That as long as my assailant is not black, and especially if he has a badge, that I can be killed with impunity.

I’m sick of having to unfollow white people on social media who I thought were cool 48 hours ago.

I’m sick of reading the comments.

I’m sick of not reading the comments.

I’m sick of having to blaxplain that just because the Post-Dispatch points a camera at someone and posts the video on their website, it doesn’t make him anymore representative of the black community than Geraldo Rivera’s televised interview with Charles Manson makes Manson a representative of the white community.

I’m sick of hearing people that don’t care fuck all about black kids on the south side of Chicago using them as a bait and switch tactic to pull the focus away another murdered black kid they also don’t care about. “Why are you so concerned with Trayvon Martin?” “Why are you so concerned with Michael Brown?” “How many black kids were killed in Chicago this weekend?” The answer is, I don’t know how many black kids were killed in Chicago this weekend and neither do you, and you can’t tell me a single one of their names because before they became a political talking point, you had no use for them.  

I’m sick having to re-answer the same questions that I answered the last time some shit like this happened.

How come there’s no protest when a black person kills a white person?

Well, because when a black person kills a white person, no one questions whether a crime has been committed. It usually doesn’t take any public outcry or outside pressure for the police to do their jobs.

How come there’s no protests about black on black crime?

Well, there are, you just don’t know about them because they’re not in your neighborhood and you don’t read the St. Louis American (or, fill in your local black owned newspaper).

And the truth is, these people could probably come up with these answers themselves if they thought about racism more often than when a black kid gets murdered and the rally causes them to get stuck in traffic or not be able to find parking downtown.  

I’ll close with this: I don’t follow sports, so when a sports related story occasionally piques my interest (say, Michael Sams becoming the first openly gay player in the NFL) of course, I’ll have an opinion, but I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on football, since I know nothing about it. I don’t closely follow the conflict in Israel, so even in times like these, I don’t say much about it as my opinion is an uninformed one.

So, if you move through the world on a daily basis, blissfully ignorant of your own privilege and the reality of racism faced by people of color, don’t pretend to be an expert on race all of a sudden, just because that QuikTrip on West Florissant was a really convenient place to fill up on your morning commute. 

We've Never Redefined Marriage... Except When We Did

Yo' dawg, I heard you like marriage equality... Photo by Adam Bouska - www.noh8campaign.com

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

Justice Leon M. Bazile, Virginia, 1959

Forty-seven years ago this week, in a unanimous decision, the US Supreme Court made it legal for interracial couples to marry in all of the fifty states.

Forty-seven years ago, or seven years before I was born.

Apollo 11 launched in the summer of 1969, so to put it another way, in 1967, in a country that was just two years away from putting a man on the moon, you could still be sent to prison for being in an interracial relationship.

Unlike the current state of same-sex marriage, where states that have not legalized it simply ignore marriages between gay couples that took place in other states, prior to the Loving v. Virginia decision, states where interracial marriage was illegal most definitely recognized interracial marriages that took place elesewhere. The Lovings’ marriage certificate was the smoking gun in the state’s criminal case against them.

I’m black and my girlfriend is white. It blows my mind that seven years before I was born, we could have been sent to prison for the crime of falling in love with each other.

Next week I’ll be officiating my first wedding. It will be a marriage between two men. If you’re reading this, you probably agree with me, but there is simply no credible argument against gay marriage. None. I’ve been listening intently for one my entire adult life and I haven’t heard it yet. Anyone who says that opposing marriage equality is about not redefining traditional marriage is either a liar or ignorant of history. And being ignorant of history that’s younger (or not much older) than you are is a special kind of ignorant.

Perhaps an institution with a fifty percent failure rate should be redefined, as it has been several times over the years (from its roots in this country as a transfer of female property from a white father to his white son-in-law) to accommodate the expansion of freedom to slaves, women and ethnic minorities.  

In a non-legal sense, I hope that everyone who gets married “redefines” marriage on their own terms. Why should anyone outside of the relationship dictate what the relationship should be? Have the relationship you want. Marry the person you want. Fuck the haters. Fuck ‘em in the ear. 

Single-Breasted Swimsuits, Topless Equality & Body Image

 

[Author’s Note: This blog started out as a quick shout-out to the folks behind Monokini, a line of single-breasted swimsuits, but has since morphed into a rant about topless equality, gender identity and body image. Just watch my feet for a minute, I promise there’s a point to all this.]

Monokini is social art project that designs swimwear collections for single mastectomy survivors who have elected to forego breast augmentation surgery. It’s also the thing that currently restores my faith in humanity.

I love this for two reasons. I have several friends who are breast cancer survivors, some have had mastectomies, some haven’t. Of those who have, some have elected to get breast implants, some haven’t. I think it’s pretty awesome that this project highlights the fact that there is a choice and it’s really the decision of the survivor (and, I suppose, her doctor, I know nothing about the medical ramications of these things).

The second, somewhat stranger, reason is that mastectomy survivors who forego implants call attention to how ridiculous it is that in so many parts of the country, it’s illegal for women to be topless in public. It begs the question, what part of the female breast is so offensive? The nipple? Men have nipples, but we can be topless in public. Is it the amount breast tissue? What about flat chested women and amply breasted men? And, if that were the case, why is it legal for women to be basically topless if their nipples are covered? It makes no sense. I think what the powers-that-be find offensive about the female breast is that they are attached to women.

To see how silly this can get, contrast the cases of Jodi Jaecks and Andrea Jones. In 2012 Jodi Jaecks was temporarily banned from swimming topless in a public pool in Seattle, despite having had a double mastectomy and electing not to get breast implants.

Jodi Jaecks photo by Kelly O./The Stranger

In 2011, Andrea Jones, a transgender woman living in Tennessee, was arrested for indecent exposure after walking out of the Department of Motor Vehicles topless. She was protesting the fact that the DMV refused to change the gender on her driver’s license from male to female. Her argument being that the state couldn’t treat her as both a man and a woman, and if she was legally male, she should be able to walk outside without a shirt on.    

Two women, one with neither breasts nor nipples, the other born biologically male and still treated as such by her state, both sanctioned for doing what cisgender men do all the time: being topless in public. It makes no sense to me.

Andrea Jones - Photo from WATE-TV

 

On a brighter note, photo below comes from bodybuilder turned body image activist, Taryn Brumfitt at bodyimagemovement.com.au. It’s part of a blog titled “The best reason to get naked in front of a thousand people!” and it tells the story of two total strangers, both mastectomy survivors, who met  and bonded at the world’s largest naked swimming event.

 From bodyimagemovement.com.au

Taryn is also running a Kickstarter campaign to fund a body positive documentary called “Embrace” and you should definitely support it by going here