Sep 22 2017

Episode 062: Sinclair Sexsmith

Episode the sixty-second; wherein the Pageist discusses consent, feminism and just why so much erotic writing is so bad with author Sinclair Sexsmith.

.43 Intro and Announcements:

  • I’ll be teaching a class on lucid dreaming for otherwise impossible sexual fantasies at Eroticon in March! My bio will eventually appear on this page.
  • From the endlessly wonderful Reid Mihalko, I won a ticket to next year’s Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, which I will hopefully get to attend (dependant upon finding a sponsor for airfare/lodging).

2.27 Interview:

photo by Bill Wadman

43.07 Closing Remarks:

Sep 19 2017

Sweet and Rough: Queer Smut by Sinclair Sexsmith

(source)

[This is the text of the book review from episode 61.]

The book this week is Sinclair Sexsmith’s Sweet and Rough: Queer Smut. I got this as a bonus for supporting Sinclair’s Patreon. So I paid for it…sort of.

I read the first story and immediately went to get a copy to send to my Big Spoon, which is what I call my gentle Dominant type lady friend. Because, like when you spoon with someone you can be the little spoon or the big spoon and she’s the big spoon. Anyway. First story and I put down the Kindle and went ‘Must send copy to Joan.’ Because. Yes. But—read on for why it’s a yes for me and why it may be a yes for you.

The book is a collection of sixteen short pieces—some very short, just a page or two Kindle-wise—focusing on butch/femme lesbian erotic encounters. There’s pretty much always a tinge of Dominance and submission and there’s always a strap on.

This is a collection of stories about packing, which is where a female-bodied person wears a soft or hard dildo whilst going about their day. Some people use it for sex purposes, some for gender purposes, others just for fun—there are many reasons. Sinclair and I did an incredible interview all about packing for the Patreon patrons.

The point is—if you’re into strap ons—or butch/femme hotness, this is the book for you. It’s extremely well-written.

And with that—before I get to the review, I’d like to have a sidebar with you fine individuals.

When I tell people about the show—that I review books about BDSM—the first reaction is that I must only review erotica (it’s like they don’t know non-fiction exists, which makes me sad, because you can actually learn things from books) and the second reaction is, ‘Thank god, because I read a lot of erotica and most of it is so bad.’

Later this week is an interview with Sinclair and we’re going to talk about why that is. People, sex writing doesn’t have to be badly written. You don’t have to suffer for your jollies.

Back to this book, which is A+ on the writing front.

Each story features Sinclair—don’t stop reading—I know having the author as a character sounds like solipsism city, but I’ve been reading their posts on Patreon and their blog and knew them to be…not incredibly self-centred—we talked about how they came to write a bunch of stories featuring a version of themselves in the interview and it was pretty interesting.

It doesn’t ruin the book.

Though the stories all have a butch/femme element and there’s usually power and control being played with, each one has a different setting. Well, I think three take place in a library or a classroom. I’m all on board for that. Kinky literary fucking is always a plus.

In one of those stories, there’s this line:

I think what I often think when I see a gorgeous, leggy girl, reading some intellectual book, in barely enough clothing: if she’s queer, man, all is right with the world.

Indeed. In. Deed.

It’s not just about the sex, though. The author also covers how gender plays into packing and sex. With lines like:

It was daring of her to be so bold with a bj, but I really like that. It forgives me the apology I constantly carry for being a cock-identified lesbian-feminist queer-dyke. A butch who fetishizes gender dynamics and craves gendered play in the bedroom—if she wants my cock so bad she’s willing to take it, I know it’s okay that I want it that bad, too.

Yes, slip some intellectual into my sexy, baby. Erotica doesn’t have to be about perfect people who are always confident and the ultimate lovers—they can be human. They can be messy and complicated. I love it.

In some of the stories the kink is blatant with graphic flogging or spanking. So, you know, thank you, for that. In others, the power dynamic is there, but played with more subtly. There’re also insightful descriptions of the psychology behind certain types of play. Like:

She pulls against me, not to get away, but to heighten sensation. Struggling has such varying degrees. She doesn’t want out, she wants more.

Yes. That is true.

Reading the author’s descriptions of a woman’s body during passionate sex—it’s obvious Sinclair greatly appreciates the female form and pays close attention to every sinew, muscle and breath. They’re a veritable connoisseur of feminine pleasure—clearly enjoying giving it and observing the results of their ministrations.

There are bjs, vaginal and anal and all sorts of goodness in this set of stories. You can purchase it from Amazon or the publisher’s site, or get it like I did by supporting Sinclair’s Patreon.

5/5 if you’re into the sort of things I’ve described in this review.

Sep 17 2017

Episode 61: Sweet and Rough

Episode the sixty-first; wherein the Pageist marvels at the wonders of hormones and 3D model clitorises. The book reviewed is Sweet and Rough: Queer Smut by Sinclair Sexsmith.

.44 Intro and Announcements:

  • Thank you to all of my patrons–you make the show happen! Mwah!
  • Big, huge hugs to the newest supporter, Dedria!
  • Two new Facebook likes, from Kitty and E, welcome to the group!
  • The show is now in Bahrain, Belarus and Ecuador.
  • Someone took the survey and had very kind things to say–if you’d like to fill in the survey, the link is here.
  • If you haven’t checked out the BDSM community The Cage–it’s growing. Give it a look.

4.09 My Submissive Life:

  • My 3D model of a clitoris from Lumberjill a.k.a. Shoulda Wooda arrived and I love it! Check out the Etsy shop here. See more of his work on his Instagram. Below are photos of mine.

A post shared by Paige La Marchand (@thepageist) on

  • For an incredibly informative slide show on how genitals are formed in the womb click this link. Thank you to Sinclair Sexsmith for that link!

9.48 Book Review:

  • (source)

    This episode’s book is Sweet and Rough: Queer Smut by Sinclair Sexsmith, which is a collection of short, very sexy, very well-written pieces of erotic fiction featuring butch/femme relations and packing scenarios.

  • ‘Packing’ is when a female-bodied person wears a dildo–either soft or hard–in a harness as they go about their day. This collection explores gender and celebrates the female form.
  • Sinclair did a bonus interview for my Patreon subscribers about packing–what it is, why people are into it and so forth. It’s available here.
  • Sinclair’s Patreon is here. Their blog is sugarbutch.net and has some great writing. Fiction and non-fiction.
  • You can get the book from here. Or by supporting Sinclair’s Patreon.

16.35 Sexy Section:

  • The section this episode is about a strap on blow job. It’s the short, short piece from this week’s book ‘Her Mouth on My Cock’.

19.45 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be interviewing the author of today’s book, Sinclair Sexsmith!
  • Support the show and site on Patreon!
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Quora, Medium, and Instagram and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to the website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • The libsyn feed is here and can be used in your favourite podcast feed reader.
  • All episodes can be heard in an embedded player on this page.

Sep 02 2017

What the Pageist Did in August 2017

Great strides were made in upgrading the recording booth.

Podcast Episodes

Episode 58: Reviews of two novels by Francoise Sagan: Bonjour Tristesse and A Certain Smile. The text of the reviews are in this post.

Episode 59: Jillian Keenan, freelance journalist and author of Sex with Shakespeare (which is fantastic and you should read it) came on the show for an interview about spanking, fetish-as-orientation, imaginary friends and other fun things.

Episode 60: Mike Merrill, publicly-traded individual, was on the show to talk about what it’s like letting friends and strangers make his life decisions for him, how power exchange concepts can benefit vanilla people and a pretty cool Kickstarter book the backers will help write. (It’s kinky erotic fiction.)

Writing

Over on Kink Craft, I had a piece about Asexuality and Kink published.

Here, I proposed A Solution to All of the Unsolicited Dicks going around. The link is safe for work.

I also wrote a piece about what it’s like dealing with gynecologist appointments when you’ve been sexually assaulted. That piece is a little heavy, but has a happy ending.

Patreon Rewards

Monthly Greeting ($1+) The greeting for August pertained to new starts and new slates and referenced watermelon slingshots. It made since in the greeting, I promise.

Poetry for Patrons ($3+) were three sensuous offerings by Robert Herrick.

The Mix Tape ($5+) was an excerpt from Jillian Keenan’s Sex with Shakespeare–a fantasy sequence involving the author, one of Shakespeare’s heroines, a switch (the spanking implement, not kink role) and some lesbian action. Sexy, literate and funny.

Website

The sidebar has been updated and rearranged for a more user-friendly feel.

Index pages (just, all of them) and the Resource pages all have collapsible sections to save time scrolling.

Some changes have been made to improve user-experience on mobile, since about half my traffic comes from people on their phones. Now those users will have access to all of the resource pages. Huzzah!

The Support page has a new look.

Aug 26 2017

Gynecologist Appointments and Sexual Assault

[CW: sexual assault]

I’ve had six pap smears and one colposcopy. Seven times speculums have been introduced into my body. The colposcopy (which is to test for HPV after an abnormal smear result) was done under anaesthetic, due to the pain involved during regular exams.

So I can remember six glorious experiences. Only one of which wasn’t horrible.

Doctors, you need to do better. It can’t be that I’ve just happened to get three uncaring physicians. (One person did three of my delightful procedures, another did two.) And I do give them credit—they were each awful in their own distinct ways.

If I’ve had to deal with this level of callousness, then other people have, too. People have to deal with this every day.

Dr. Guy

So named because he was the only male doctor I’ve seen for gyno reasons. (Did you think all of them would be men since they’d been terrible?)

I can’t recall how old I was—due to sexual assault and mental illness my late teen years 16-19 blur together. This happened after my assaults and molestation and I was probably 18 or 19. Possibly 20.

There was a nurse in the room with us and all I recall was bursting into tears during the actual speculum part of the exam then, as I was crying, him putting his finger in my rectum as I sobbed. He didn’t tell me he was going to do that and because there was a sheet covering my lower body and legs the nurse couldn’t see it.

He’d been a long-time friend of my mother’s so for years I thought that must be part of the exam until no other doctor ever did that.

The doctor and nurse were both very consoling and calm and saying how it’s humiliating and the nurse said, ‘You never really get used to it—even after you get married.’ Because I come from a place where people stay virgins until marriage. Whatever, lady.

Several years go by before I wanted to have another pap smear. Even then, I didn’t want to, but I thought I should.

Nurse Doesn’t Listen

I’m not sure of this person’s title. She may have been an RN or a PA. I don’t know.

I do know I told her I didn’t partake in penetration (and hadn’t done so) and so needed whatever speculum she used on virgins.

Fine. Sure.

We do the exam and it hurts like hell. I nearly pass out.

This is when she informs me she used the regular speculum because ‘You’re a grown up now—you can use the regular speculum.’

Sidebar: I don’t have vaginismus, for those of you wondering, I’m just unaccustomed to penetration.

Those results came back fine and I was relieved not to need another smear for years.

But years do pass and I needed to see her again.

I know it seems insane that I would return to the same person. Life is difficult for me to manage. I thought if I explained about the previous time and made myself really clear, she’d listen.

Nurse Doesn’t Listen Round Two

My husband went with me this time, as I was married, but we explained we were asexual and didn’t have sex and last time, etc.

I don’t know which speculum she used but I thought I was going to faint and informed her of this.

Her response: ‘You’re not going to faint.’

Weirdly, she did tell me to lie back and rest a bit, though. If she really thought I wasn’t going to faint she would have hurried me along.

What? Is just saying ‘You’re not experiencing the things you’re experiencing’ supposed to work?

Then there was a reprieve! I got a doctor would was good and listened. The experience was still difficult and painful, because trauma and such, but…

Doctor This Is How You Do It

She listened to how things had gone at the previous place and that I was small and nervous and so on.

Her approach was military-like. Got in, did what she needed to do and got out again, while just asking questions about what I did and my hobbies to distract me.

It was the most pleasant unpleasant experience you could have.

Alas, my insurance changed and I had to switch providers.

We return you to our previously-scheduled horror-show.

Doctor Stunningly Beautiful but Cruel

This doctor was a doppelgänger for an actress I had a crush on for years—someone who was my ideal of beauty. When she left the room the first time I turned to my husband and said, ‘Is it just me or does she look like [Probably Very Nice Actress]?’

Him: I was just thinking that!

That didn’t stop her from being the worst of the bunch.

You might ask yourself how a person could top the crew I’ve listed above, well, hold on to your britches.

The first round doesn’t go well because it never does and I nearly pass out. They do bring me orange juice and crackers, though.

There’s some abnormal cells and they need to do a colposcopy.

Dr Maleficent (she doesn’t look like Angelina Jolie, it just seems like a good name) did the colposcopy, but that was under anaesthetic, because apparently it was unpleasant even for people who handle smears well, so no thank you. The bill for the anaesthetist was $1000, though, which they didn’t tell me about beforehand and yes it was with the ACA. Don’t need health care in the States, kids.

The colposcopy came back and yup, I had the HPV. I’m not thrilled with how this is handled, as I find out through my insurance provider rather than the doctor’s office. So that’s how I found out I had HPV and when I had to come to terms with something I had been in denial about for many years—having been sexually assaulted.

We finally have a face-to-face meeting about this after I’ve processed and written about it and done my own research and cried and all sorts of things. She’s telling me how it’s spread and talking about sexual activity and I tell her I got it from an assault. It’s the first time I’ve said this out loud to another person. So she knows and I assume it goes in my file.

During this conversation I also learn I’d need smears every six months for 18 months to 3 years to keep an eye on the cells

This was when I decided to take up medicinal masturbation, so I could at least get through each smear without wanting to die.

The next smear came up. I’ve been fiddling with myself even though I didn’t really want to and it was less terrible. Dr Maleficent exclaimed, ‘You’re getting better!’ Like I’m improving at being able to take a stranger touching me somewhere I really don’t want to me touched.

She knew how I contracted HPV. She knew I had no other, positive sexual experiences and she congratulates me on getting better! at dealing with pap smears.

Then, the second the exam is over, she’s off, out of the room. To see another patient, I guess. They must be busy, I figure. Nope. She’s just chatting in an empty room with her nurse. Really? You couldn’t sit and make sure the assault victim was okay after that?

Trauma Doesn’t Vanish in the Exam Room

Just because you’re a doctor and you’re trying to help or don’t mean any harm or aren’t even doing anything you consider sexual doesn’t mean the person on the table in front of you is experiencing the situation the same way. After awhile all bodies probably look like lands to be mapped or mysteries to be solved, but we’re individual people with fears and traumas and pains.

Luckily, the results of that final exam were clear, but I have to have a pap every year now to be sure it doesn’t return. I had a go at the medicinal masturbation last week and it hurt like a motherfucker. I thought I was warmed up and ready to go, but apparently not. Really looking forward to my next smear test, which is this Thursday. It’ll be a brand new person. Can’t wait to find out what their nickname will be.

[Update: Post-appointment]

Nurse NHS FTW

The more I deal with the NHS, the more respect and admiration I have for it. My appointment yesterday was with a nurse, who listened, was compassionate and said, ‘There’s no need for that [attitude from the doctors and nurses]’ when I explained how I’d been treated in the past. When I gave details of my lack of sexual experience, she switched out the medium speculum for the small without prompting and even had me laughing by the end of the procedure.

I felt a little light-headed during, but she checked on me in that regard to make sure I was all right, and it passed quickly. There was no physical pain for the first time during one of these exams.

I actually don’t dread returning for my next exam, which is pretty much a miracle. Perhaps I should have called this one Nurse Modern Miracle.

Aug 24 2017

Episode 060: Mike Merrill

Episode the Sixtieth; wherein the Pageist talks with Mike Merrill, the publicly-traded guy about power exchange, allowing strangers to make his life decisions and not filming porn.

.45 Intro and Announcements:

  • One new Facebook like: Hello to Grayson.
  • Two new survey responses. Thank you! You can take the survey here.

2.18 Interview:

  • In this episode I speak with Mike Merrill, the world’s only publicly traded, private individual. We discuss power exchange, including the ways traditional, negotiated power exchange can benefit vanilla relationships, as well as how he decided to allow strangers on the internet to make life decisions for him.
  • His main website is kmikeym.com if you’d like to buy shares or see what that’s about.
  • The Kickstarter for the book is here.
  • There’s also a website about the book’s project, Publicly Traded, Privately Held.
  • His Twitter is @KMikeyM

53.45 Closing Remarks:

Aug 23 2017

A Solution for All Your Unsolicited Peen Woes

If WikiFeet is a new site to you, please read my post first. It’d mean a lot to me.

In episode 56 of my show I mentioned a writer and comedian named Sarah Benincasa. She wrote a book called Real Artists Have Day Jobs.

Awhile back on Instagram she posted a photo of her entry on WikiFeet, which is an open source wiki for images of celebrities’ feet. A couple people were appalled and her response was, ‘It’s just a site for foot fetishists—nothing wrong with that.’ So, you know, A+ for her on that front.

This was my introduction to WikiFeet, which of course I had to share with Walter and he instantly had an idea.

WikiDicks. :extravagant hand gesture:

It’s not what you think, though. Or maybe it is.

It’s a site where people can send aaaaall the unsolicited dick picks they get and then, like WikiFeet, they can be rated from one to five stars.

There could be a second rating for quality of the photo, because there’s a skill to taking a shot of your junk.

There are problems, yes. Like if it’s a really good photo and a really attractive dick (that still doesn’t make it okay to send to someone without their permission), then people would be stealing it to send when someone requested a dick pick to find out what they’d be getting.

So this conversation would become common:

‘Hey, how’d that date go?’

‘It didn’t. I asked for the dick pick and he sent that SAME WikiDick I’ve got from the last three guys. I don’t have time for liars.’

‘You know, one day, that actual dude is going to send you a pic of his actual dick and you’re going to turn him down. Imagine—that dick with those photography skills and you’re going to miss out.’

One set of ratings on WikiFeet.

There could also be user-submitted pics, if they wanted tips on how to take a better crotch shot or were simply looking for a rating in general. That would be a paid service.

Because we’d need to make money to fund the massive number of servers we’d be operating.

I could totally see groups of women cracking open a bottle of wine or four and cackling over the stories of the unsolicited cock-shots. Because that would be part of the fun—the story behind the photo. ‘This was this guy’s opening salvo—his salutation, if you will. No words, just a blurry shot of…this. Luckily, he then included eight more angles in case I didn’t get the message of the only thing he was offering. Not a word did he type, though. For I did not need to know more. And he was right!’

I’m sure gay men would have a great time with it, too. Oh honey, would the gay men enjoy it.

There could be tags! Like keywords, so if you were in a mood to see a whole bunch of five star photography level, veiny cocks with a slight leftward curve, there you go!

Strangers around the world have provided them for you. With comedy commentary.

Another set of info. Guess who I searched for.

There could be a third rating, as well. ‘Ability of user’ or ‘cocksship’ or something. For those who’d tried out said appendage. It would be difficult to verify actual contact, of course, so all reviews of that nature would have to be taken in the of spirit of camaraderie. Or some other gender-neutral term for people exposed to unwanted cock. Cockraderie? ‘We’re all cockrades. Putting up with unsolicited dick in the inbox. Pass the wine and let’s gripe.’

Inevitably, dicks would be recognised. ‘Wait… that’s my ex. He was such a douche, always sending his dick out to everyone and had that birthmark that looked like Texas. Let me tell you—it’s a nice piece but he just lies there.’

Others would be okay with this. ‘Yeah, but I’m into that… do you still have his number? Private message me.’

WikiDicks could work on many, many levels, I’m telling you.

Of course now, someone is going to contact me and say, ‘Oh, this is a real site—it just has a different name.’

I pre-emptively respond to that with: WHY ISN’T IT CALLED WIKIDICKS—THAT’S THE PERFECT NAME.

{I used male pronouns for the cock-owners throughout because it seems unlikely female cock-havers are throwing it around without consent.}

{This originally appeared in an abbreviated form as part of the My Submissive Life segment of episode 58 of The Pageist podcast.}

Aug 17 2017

Episode 059: Jillian Keenan

Episode the fifty-ninth; wherein the Pageist talks with author and spanking enthusiast Jillian Keenan about spanking, Shakespeare, consent and all sorts of other things.

.45 Intro and Announcements:

  • Hello and a big welcome to the new Patreon supporter, Devan!
  • Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belize
  • Jim liked the Facebook page. Hiiiiii, Jim!
  • Two very positive survey responses–thank you! You can take the quick, anonymous survey about the show here.

4.01 Interview:

  • Jillian Keenan is a freelance journalist, author of Sex with Shakespeare, spanking enthusiast and children’s rights advocate.
  • I reviewed Sex with Shakespeare in episode 42. The text of the book review is here.
  • You can find her on Twitter: @jilliankeenan
  • Her website is jilliannyc.com
  • Her interview with Tina Horn on Why Are People Into That?! on spanking is here.

46.15 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be interviewing Mike Merrill, the publicly-traded guy.
  • Support the show and site on Patreon!
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Quora, Medium, and Instagram and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to the website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • The libsyn feed is here and can be used in your favourite podcast feed reader.
  • All episodes can be heard in an embedded player on this page.

Aug 15 2017

Bonjour Tristesse and A Certain Smile by Francoise Sagan

 

This is the text of the book reviews from episode fifty-eight.

This episode’s book reviews are two novels by Francoise Sagan. Bonjour Tristesse and A Certain Smile. The versions I read were both in one edition by Penguin Modern Classics, translated by Heather Lloyd in 2013. These are the unexpurgated versions of the books. Certain passages had been cut when initially issued in the fifties, though reading it now I couldn’t figure out which ones they’d be without the help of the notes in the book. It’s not exactly scandalous.

I’ll start with Bonjour Tristesse. Which means ‘Hello Sadness’ in French. This is the opening paragraph.

This strange new feeling of mine, obsessing me by its sweet languor, is such that I am reluctant to dignify it with the fine, solemn name of ‘sadness’. It is a feeling so self-indulgent and complete in itself that I am almost ashamed of it, whereas I had always looked upon sadness as being a worthy emotion. Before, I did not know what sadness was, though I knew what it was to be languorous, to have regrets and, more rarely, to feel remorse. Today it is as if I am enfolded in some silken thing, soft and enervating, that sets me apart from others.

It’s about a carefree young woman, Cecile, and her equally carefree widower father, Raymond. They’re spending the summer on the Riviera with her father’s girlfriend-ish sort of person, Elsa, and an old friend arrives. Anne. Anne is the Dominant who would straighten out their lives if they’d let her. Neither of them are very responsible human beings.

This is how the narrator protagonist describes her very early on:

Anne was a fine person. To my mind there was nothing mean-spirited about her. She would guide me, she would take responsibility for my life, in every circumstance she would show me which path to follow.

A Dominant by any other name would still run your life.

Then there’s this:

‘My poor little girl,’ Anne’s voice went on quietly. ‘My poor little Cecile. It’s my fault in a way. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so strict. Do you believe me when I say that I didn’t wish to cause you distress?’

She was gently stroking my hair and the back of my neck. I didn’t move. I had the same impression as I did when, on the beach, the sand disappeared from beneath my feet, sucked away by a receding wave. A longing for defeat and gentleness had overcome me and no other feeling, not anger, not desire, had ever swept me up as this one did. I wanted to abandon the play-acting, to entrust my life to her, to put myself in her hands for the rest of my days. I had never before experienced such an intense and overwhelming sense of helplessness. I closed my eyes. It seemed to me as if my heart were ceasing to beat.

Cecile is supposed to be studying for exams and she’s only seventeen but spending time with an older boy and that’s only going to get her into trouble with a capital baby.

Of course, as she’s so different from what they’re accustomed to, they’re both attracted to her—she offers a sort of stability and structure that’s foreign and therefore intriguing.

But she’s also, ultimately, radically different from who either the girl or her father is on a fundamental level.

Cecile, the little manipulative minx she is, concocts a plan to break up her father and this woman—though she also still wants her in her life (she’s quite indecisive) by getting the guy she likes, Cyril, to pretend to be romancing Elsa, the woman her father threw over for Anne. Raymond is the sort of man who’ll be wildly jealous and will cheat with Elsa, thereby ruining the prospective marriage with Anne.

It’s very French.

Sagan published this when she was eighteen, which is remarkable for multiple reasons—one of which is the self-awareness. It was originally published in 1954.

This book came up as recommended when I was looking at Georges Bataille books and the blurb said, ‘Funny, immoral and thoroughly French.’ I thought, ‘Check, check and yes, please!’

Both books are amusing in a dry sort of way, and they are very French. ‘Immorality’ is, however, subjective. I kept waiting for the immorality to kick off and… it turned out to be people having extra-marital affairs. Which I suppose was immoral in the mid-50s, but I thought was par for the course in France.

Really, the characters in both novels could have benefited greatly from some ethical non-monogamy workshops, as the woman in the committed couple and the ‘other woman’ always have a sympathetic relationship. I kept hoping they’d get it together and be a happy menage.

It’s like when you’re watching a film from the 80s and think, ‘All of this would be over in five minutes if even one person had a mobile phone. Or the internet.’

On to the second book.

A Certain Smile was published in 1956 when Sagan was twenty. It’s similarly self-aware and angsty. But the first novel’s protagonist was quite flighty and carefree and the second one was more cynical. They seemed to be polar opposites.

The general plot is young woman-has-affair-with-married-man-while-admiring-his-wife. The plot is the affair—from start to end. This time the ‘other woman’ is a university student, Dominique—the author would have been twenty when the novel was published. It’s written from the point of view of the student.

Something the author writes about in A Certain Smile on more than one occasion is what it’s like not being allowed to be yourself—having to perform a version of yourself. Something those of us with low affect can identify with. Here’s an example, she’s talking about going to visit the man she’s having an affair with:

My visit to her depressed me. I went to Luc’s without much enthusiasm and even with some trepidation: I was going to have to chat, be friendly and project an image of myself to them. I would have preferred to have lunch on my own, twirl a jar of mustard round between my fingers, and be vague, vague, completely vague.

It’s interesting that in both books the young, female protagonist greatly admires an older, more sophisticated woman and likes being doted on by that woman, but also does things that makes that woman’s life difficult. Not intentionally—not, ‘I’m going to wreck this woman’s life because I like her,’ but, ‘Boy, I really like so-and-so; she’s great! It’s too bad this other thing I want means I have to make her miserable.’

Stop wrecking these women’s lives over men. Screw the men. They don’t care about you! The women do! The women think you’re great!

Here’s one of the passages from A Certain Smile that was swoon-worthy for me. Francoise is the wife.

Francoise took me into her bedroom to try on one of her coats, which was more stylish than mine. She got me to put on one or two, made me turn round, stood the collars up. At one moment, while doing so, she held my face between the two lapels of the collar and I thought, stifling the same laughter: ‘I’m at her mercy. Perhaps she is going to suffocate me or bite me.’ But she merely smiled.

‘You’re drowning a bit in this.’

‘That’s true,’ I said, not thinking of the coat.

‘I really must see you when you come back.’

‘That’s it,’ I thought. ‘Is she going to ask me to stop seeing Luc? Will I be able to?’ And the answer came to me straight away: ‘No. I couldn’t do it.’

‘Because I’ve decided to take you in hand and dress you suitably and introduce you to things that are more fun than those students and libraries.’

‘Oh, goodness,’ I thought, ‘this is not the moment, it’s not the moment to be saying that to me.’

‘Should I not?’ She went on, in response to my silence. ‘I rather felt I had a daughter in you.’ (She laughed as she said that, but in a kindly way.) ‘If that daughter is going to be rebellious and purely interested in intellectual things…’

‘You are too kind,’ I said, stressing the word ‘too’. ‘I don’t know what to do.’

‘Just let yourself be done to,’ she said, laughing again.

Neither book was what you’d call explicit. As it was recommended for people who enjoyed Georges Bataille I was expecting a sadomasochistic, or as least sexually explicit, good time.

Alas, these are more delicate and poetic, which is nice some times.

Here are two passages from Bonjour Tristesse.

And then began love’s merry dance, where fear goes hand in hand with desire and where, too, there is tenderness and rage and then that brutal hurt giving way to the triumph of pleasure. With Cyril’s gentleness playing its part, I had the good fortune to discover it that day.

 

My body responded to him, became fully itself and blossomed when close to his. I kissed him passionately, I wanted to hurt him, to leave my mark on him so that he would not be able to forget me for one instant that evening and would dream of me that night. For the night would be endless without him, without him close to me, without his lover’s skill, his sudden passion and his long caresses.

I do recommend the edition I read—the Penguin Modern Classics Edition—the particular translation and with both novels, as they compliment one another beautifully and highlight the parallels as well as differences between the protagonists and stories.

If you’d like to really experience the mercurial moods of a teenage girl, these are the books for you—they’re exceedingly well-written—Sagan is far more eloquent than many authors twice her age—but they were an accurate representation of a certain period of my life that I do not miss.

I could also see how reading about a person who doesn’t seem to know her own mind could feel like an experiment in self-torture. So, pick these up accordingly.

I give both books 4/5.

Aug 10 2017

Episode 058: Two Novels by Francoise Sagan

Episode the fifty-eighth; Wherein the Pageist returns from an unplanned break with a revolutionary idea about what to do with all the unsolicited peen going around and remembers that morality is highly subjective. The books reviewed this episode are Bonjour Tristesse and A Certain Smile by Francoise Sagan.

Intro and Announcements:

  • Thank you, everyone for the kind words regarding Walter’s brain tumour. His treatment is going well.
  • Especially thank you to Naiia.
  • Thank you to the Patreon patrons who stuck with me even though I didn’t post anything last month and didn’t get rewards out until the end of the month. You’re all rock stars.
  • Hello and welcome to the show’s newest supporters, ItGoesto11, who also sent one of the loveliest notes, and M and Keith.
  • Huge thank yous to Beau Gest for the Kindle paperwhite and the permission to return it since it was the second one–the return will fund most of a new microphone, which will be enormously helpful. Also in that shipment was a copy of Jay Wiseman’s SM 101, which I’m very much looking forward to.
  • New Facebook likes include Kasia and Eleanor.
  • New countries include Slovenia, Armenia, Uganda and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • There were six survey responses! Oh boy! If you’d like to respond to the survey (it is quick and anonymous), you may do so here.
  • Later this month I’ll be interviewing Mike Merrill, the publicly traded individual. His website is KMikeyM.com.

My Submissive Life:

  • It feels like a million years ago, but it was episode 56 where I talked about Sarah Benincasa.
  • This is her Instagram. This is the photo that kicked off the entire WikiDicks conversation.

Book Reviews:

Bonjour Tristesse and A Certain Smile book cover

(source)

  • This episode’s books are two novels by Francoise Sagan, both of which were in one volume by Penguin Modern Classics. The first is Bonjour Tristesse, which is about a mercurial young woman who plots to break up her widower father from his new relationship, even though she’s quite taken with the woman.
  • The second was A Certain Smile, which follows the affair from start to finish between a young woman and older man, while the younger woman is quite fond of the wife of the man she’s involved with.
  • Both were delicate, well-written, must less explicit than what I usually review on the show, explorations of the inner world of a young woman. The first book was published when the author was eighteen (in 1954), the second when the author was twenty (in 1956). Both are a reminder that what is considered immoral and scandalous at one time hardly raises an eyebrow in another.

Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be interviewing … someone. A few options are possible.
  • Support the show and site on Patreon!
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Quora, Medium, and Instagram and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to the website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • The libsyn feed is here and can be used in your favourite podcast feed reader.
  • All episodes can be heard in an embedded player on this page.

Jul 10 2017

Anxiety, Indecision and the Looming Spectre of Death

[CW: suicide, depression]

I’ve taken a break from all the work I haven’t been doing to write this, in the hope it’ll help get some of it out of my system. This post has a little to do with kink, tangentially, but if you’re looking for something hot and sexy, it’s not going to be here.

How It Started

Three weeks ago, my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour—it’s highly treatable and most likely he’ll be fine. If you have to get a brain tumour, I recommend one on your pituitary gland.

Cognitively, I know this will probably be a blip in his health history. That hasn’t stopped The Anxiety from creeping in and settling in my stomach like an unwelcome thing that’s had too much coffee. It’s got the jitters and it won’t stop yammering.

My husband is my best friend and the first person I’ve known whose presence doesn’t drain me. We can spend days together and I don’t feel the need to recharge. I can’t imagine my life without him. He is kind and sweet and funny and gentle and nerdy and goofy. He’s the first person I fell in love with—prior to him I didn’t know I had the capacity to love anyone.

What I Worry About, How Likely it Is, and What the Outcome Would Be

I worry…

he’ll have another seizure (or some other medical emergency) when we’re not together. The seizure he had that prompted the trip to the emergency department didn’t look like anything from the outside. He just got very confused and couldn’t think of the words he wanted to use. Now that he’s taking medication to shrink the tumour (the seizure was caused by the tumour pressing on his brain) it shouldn’t be a problem, but that doesn’t stop me worrying about it.

he’ll die in his sleep. That’s not a listed side effect of the tumour or treatment, just an irrational side effect of being confronted with his mortality. Cue picturing what that would be like to wake up to and cope with step-by-step. Thank you, brain.

if something does happen to him, I won’t be able to support myself. We have life insurance but who knows if it would pay out and, at this point, no, I wouldn’t be able to support myself. More on this in a later section.

if something happens, I’d have to return to the States. I would, as I have no claim to remain in the U.K. This would be particularly terrible, as I love it here. This is the first time I’ve been happy in a geographic location in my life. Not only would I have to return to the States, I’d probably have to live with my mother, which is a circle even deeper in Hell for reasons covered in a later section.

The idea of having to deal with an international move after losing the best person I know… it’s doing my head in, as they say here. Usually when I should be sleeping.

How These Worries Manifest Themselves

I can’t sleep. I can’t read (which is part of my job so it’s important). I can’t write (see previous parenthetical). I can’t get back into a routine, which is important for my mental stability.

Trying to form a plan in order to feel a bit more in control, let alone implement the steps in said plan, is shall-we-say ‘difficult’ under the circumstances.

The phrase ‘paralysed by indecision’ keeps coming into my head. What should I do? Should I give up trying to make this business work and try something more stable, if I can even make that happen? How long will it be before I feel safe and can stop worrying about him every second he’s not in my sight or asleep?

‘How Is It Possible a 39 Year Old Can’t Support Herself?’

Mental illness is a hell of a thing, what can I say. It prevented me from finishing high school and college/uni. The jobs I’ve been able to hold in the past never paid enough to support a whole human being. My mother helped pay my rent for a long time (and I didn’t live extravagantly, my two jobs and still no insurance simply didn’t cover rent and food and bills) and I had some delightful credit card debit. Because food had to be purchased so I didn’t die.

My mother can’t afford to help with rent now, but she’d be thrilled for me to move back in with her. She lives in a town of 8,000 in the Deep South in the U.S. When I lived there I bit my nails until they bled and pulled my eyelashes out compulsively. It’s called trichotillomania and it’s not a good time. I don’t like there and there don’t like me.

In the last two years I’ve actually figured out what I can do with my life and I’ve begun taking steps to make it into a career. It’s writing and podcasting about kink. Also eventually doing voice-overs and audio books and teaching and other things in this field. Other people do this and don’t starve so I know it’s possible; it’s about building an audience and marketing and doing the boring business stuff that’s required while your incredible partner does most of the financial heavy-lifting in the household.

I recognise how incredibly privileged I am to be able to attempt to do this full-time from the start. Simultaneously, if I wasn’t doing this, I don’t know what I would be doing, as mental illness is a hell of a thing, as I’ve said, and doing jobs out in the world were both mentally and physically draining to the point where I was only just surviving—going to work then going home. I wasn’t contributing anything to the world, I wasn’t improving myself and I wasn’t making enough money to even pay all of my own bills.

The thought of having to return to that non-existence, in my hometown, with my mother (who is nice in her own way but drives me completely insane) is enough to put me back in that headspace of ‘I could always kill myself.’

I know that sounds glib, but that was a serious option in my mind from the time I was 12. And remained so until shortly after I married my husband. Finally, for the first time in 25 years, suicide and self harm didn’t seem like a good idea or even an option. I wanted to be alive even if I didn’t feel like I had a purpose. Then, I found a purpose in life! Something I never thought would happen—figuring my life would be spent passing time, just trying not to be a raging jerk to other people.

Discovering a reason for living was a revelation. Partially because I didn’t think I’d ever have one and partially because looking forward to getting up in the morning was an entirely new experience. Rather than having zero ideas or motivation for living, I suddenly had a plethora of ideas and plans for what I wanted to do and it could benefit other people. I felt useful and energised for the first time.

I’m not having suicidal ideation now, but remembering what it was like living like I was before immediately puts me back in the ‘what’s the point of this again?’ state of mind. I could easily be right back there again, mentally.

How I’m Trying to Combat This

I may need to return to seeing a therapist, but who knows how long it will take to get in and whether or not that person is kink-friendly, since part of my anxiety is being able to make my kink-based business self-reliant while staving off the terror my favourite person in the world is going to die horribly and far too young. I’ll never meet anyone else like him and living without him scares me to death.

I’m trying to be rational, though. This tumour (that he has named Lurker, since it’s been there for months) will most likely take his leave with little fanfare, in the grand scheme of things, and it would be best for me to focus my efforts on building the business. Knowing I was working towards being able to support myself (as well as being productive in general) would help allay much of my anxiety about life, the universe and everything.

Knowing what would help and actually implementing the plan are two different things, however. I try to work and … just can’t. My brain would rather play mindless games on my phone or check social media for the hundredth time. I can’t seem to get it together to do the things I know I need to. My brain goes to white noise when I try to concentrate. I’m probably supposed to be being kind to myself right now, but that would be much easier if myself would do the things that would help mitigate my anxiety most.

Me: ’Hey, brain, if you do these things, it’ll help you feel better.’
Brain: ’Yeah, I know but have you considered [hanging cadence].’
Me: ’Focus! Just do this one thing! You’ll make money and it’s been on your list for two months!’
Brain: ’Okay, let’s check Twitter for five hours first.’
Me: ‘Fine. I’ll lower the bar. How about we accomplish this one thing today. One thing? Please?’
Brain: ‘Okay. Have you seen this game, though?’

I carry the (quite good!) book I was supposed to have finished reading days ago from bed, where I intend to read a bit before sleep but don’t, to the sofa in the morning, where I intend to read, but don’t. I make notes on the various pieces I want to write for my site and to pitch to other sites but can’t wrangle the attention span to send the pitches or write the actual pieces. I can’t sleep until I’m utterly exhausted and the sun is high in the sky. Then I sleep a bit and get up and have that conversation with my brain again.

It’s exhausting not accomplishing anything and I don’t know how to deal with it because I’ve never been in this situation before. I’ve never had things I wanted to do and not been able to make myself do them because everything just seemed to require a bit too much brain power.

So here we are. I’m trying. I’m struggling, but I’m trying.

Jul 01 2017

What the Pageist Did in June 2017

The Pageist Logo

Patreon

The Monthly Greeting was about the Roman Goddess Juno–where we get the name for the month of June. The Roman’s were kinky… If you want to know why I say that you’ll have to support the Patreon.

The Poetry for Patrons in June was from one of my favourite Victorian writings–The Pearl. It was the first poem in the piece and regarded what men could get up to once they grew bored with vulvas and their accompanying bits.

This month’s Mix Tape was an interview with Graydancer on how to receive blow jobs gracefully. Wooboy. I learned some things.

Podcasts

Episode 53: Podcaster, sex educator and rigger, Graydancer joined the show and we talked about consent. It turned into my longest episode yet, but the topic is an important one.

Episode 54: This episode includes a review of Cooper S. Beckett’s second novel, Approaching the Swingularity, and I was finally well enough to read the sexy section from The Reunion, so there were two sexy sections, since there was one from Swingularity, as well. I reviewed The Reunion by Laura Antoniou in episode 47. The text of the book review for Approaching the Swingularity is here.

Episode 55: A review of my favourite lesbian porno comic, Small Favors by Colleen Coover, and I express beaucoup gratitude for friends, the sex educator community and my listeners. The text of the book review, with several images, is here.

Episode 56: A very brief episode about my husband’s recent diagnosis of a brain tumour and how that will affect the show. Also, two short book reviews and some resources for people interested in improving their dominance or submission.

Episode 57: Cooper S. Beckett returns to the show to discuss his book Approaching the Swingularity, and we also talk about pegging, male bisexuality and more.

Writing

Some cliches are such for a reason. That one about being careful what you wish for… Well, yeah. I got my decades-long dream of living in Oxford and it hasn’t all been roses.

All the Smaller for it is an essay about two of my very favourite topics–kink as orientation and non-sexual kink. With a bonus fav sub-topic of the devaluing of sex education.

Meditations for Submissives 009: Maximus. June’s Meditation was a good mix of advice for people on both sides of the slash.

My birthday was in June so I made a post about it. It has my face in it if you’d like to know what I look like.

The essay Sexual Health and Kink is about dealing with STDs/STIs when kinky, myths surrounding the chronic ones and ways to handle a diagnosis of the same.

Submissive Journal Prompt 011 is a response to the Max De Pre quote: ‘We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.’

Personal News

As mentioned in episode 56, Walter was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Luckily, it appears to be the easiest type to deal with. He began treatment and that’s going well, thus far. Whether or not I have to take a break from doing the show and site will depend on how long he has to be out of work and if I have to get a vanilla job. Or if I can miraculously start making enough money from the show and writing to pay our food bill.

I attended my first Pride in many, many years and that was nice, if remarkably vanilla–next year I’m wearing a Leather pride flag as a cape. It was still lovely to live somewhere that had a parade and festivities in the first place.

And, as mentioned above, it was my birthday. That keeps happening, but every year has been better than the last (this month’s health scare and general political climate notwithstanding) so roll on, forties.

Also

I also added an ‘In the Works’ section to the sidebar of the site so you can see many (but not all–gotta keep the mystery alive) of the things I’m working on.

Jun 30 2017

Episode 057: Cooper S. Beckett Returns

Episode the Fifty-Seventh; Wherein the Pageist welcomes Cooper S. Beckett back to the show and they talk about his newest book, Approaching the Swingularity, as well as pegging, male bisexuality and more.

.45 Intro and Announcements:

  • Thank you for all the kind wishes about Walter’s health. He’s doing well and is mostly bored at the moment.
  • An extra thank you to GentleEnglishman for ordering the Kindle from my wishlist! MWAH!
  • GentleEnglishman also got Sex with Shakespeare for me, which was great and I reviewed in episode 42.

1.57 Interview:

57.57 Closing Remarks:

Jun 22 2017

Episode 056: Brain Tumours and Real Artists

Episode the fifty-sixth; Wherein the Pageist has a big, scary announcement and offers up two very brief book reviews.

.45 Intro and Announcements:

  • Listeners in new countries–the Bahamas, Hungary and Lithuania.
  • Swingset.fm is a swanky bunch of shows–check it out. Eventually I’ll be over there, technology cooperating.
  • Thank you to my Patreon supporters for making this episode possible!

2.53 My Submissive Life:

  • My husband has been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Treatment begins on Monday, but the show may be a bit different (more interviews and fiction reviews) for a bit.
  • Thank the heavens for the NHS.

6.50 Book Review:

In this episode, two very short book reviews:
Real Artists Have Day Jobs Sara Benincasa

11.04 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be reviewing either a fiction title or interviewing Cooper S. Beckett. Time will tell.
  • Support the show and site on Patreon!
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Quora, Medium, and Instagram and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to the website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • The libsyn feed is here and can be used in your favourite podcast feed reader.
  • All episodes can be heard in an embedded player on this page.

Jun 21 2017

Small Favors Deluxe Hardcover Edition by Colleen Coover

Small Favors deluxe hardback cover

The hardback cover. (source)

[This is the text of the book review from episode 55.]

This episode’s review is of Small Favors by Colleen Coover, published by Limerence Press.

Unlike some of the books I review I did not receive this one for free—I’ve purchased this book many times, in fact.

First, I bought each of the separate comic issues when they were released—there were eight of them between 2000 and 2003.

Then both of the collected volumes, which, between the two of them, brought together issues one through seven.

The edition I’m reviewing today is the hardcover deluxe version that was just released in May.

It collects all eight issues—the final issue is in colour—as well as sketches, pin ups, other behind the scenes bits and pieces and a new short story.

First, book as object. Since it’s billed as a deluxe edition.

It’s quite lovely—there’s no book cover to flap around and get in your way, the cover image and title are printed on the front. It’s rather classy.

The pages are sewn in so it’s solid and the headband (that cloth bit that sticks up at the top of the spine of some books) has gold glittery thread in it, which is a nice touch.

Small favors glittery headband

The end papers are a heavy weight colour I’m not going to describe because it’s not gold or beige and whatever I say will be wrong. It’s in the lightish yellow range.

Small Favors end papers

It’s whatever colour you call this.

About the only thing missing is a sewn-in bookmark, but you don’t really need it, as it’s a comic and it took around an hour and a half to read the entire book. I could have definitely spent more time over certain pages, though.

Oh yes, and it smells good. Because it’s a nice weight paper with lots of ink due to it being a comic.

Now, on to content.

Issue one of Small Favours is about Annie, who is fantasising about her cute girl neighbour. She’s having quite the vigorous wank, totally nude in the back garden, when suddenly, she’s absorbed by the ground and lands in some nether-realm where a stately, Queenly type figure and her apprentice (who are both teeny, tiny) paralyse her with magic.

These two beings represent her conscience. They stand on her naked chest and inform Annie that at the age of twenty-one she’s already used her life-time allotment of masturbation. To prove how salacious the girl is, she produces polaroids of her fiddling with herself in all sorts of situations.

Annie protests saying, ‘So I masturbate a little’

Queenly exclaims: ‘A little?! These were all taken on the same day!’

Small favors proof

They tell her she’s simply got to behave herself from now on and in order to facilitate this, she’s been assigned this pixie-like creature named Nibbil. Nibbil has big blonde pigtails and appears to be wearing a black latex bikini with over the elbow matching latex gloves.

Her job will be to ensure Annie acts like a proper young lady from now on.

While the Queen and her assistant—whose name is Janus and I’ll get back to her—are blathering on about her moral turpitude or whatever, Nibbil has an eye-full of those polaroids of Annie diddling herself hither and yon.

The Queen and Janus go off to magically bond Nibbil and Annie together forevermore and our little pixie girl has discovered she’s utterly turned on by those photos.

Whatever is a tiny pixie girl to do?

Sometimes things are so large we don’t see them. Annie is just so big she doesn’t notice her there anymore—she thinks she’s alone. She’s super turned on, though, and sees a protrusion (hint: it’s Annie’s nipple) and hops on.

She’s having a grand ol’ time, then notices that she’s being watched and introduces herself.

‘Ummm, Hi, Annie! My name’s Nibbil! Gosh! I hope you don’t mind me fucking myself on your nipple!’

‘No. I like this. I like dirty girls.’

Having been given permission, Nibbil resumes her previous endeavours, now with the onomatopoeia of ‘boing boing boing boing’ and an expression of utter glee on her little face.

Small Favors dirty girls

This entire comic is very funny. I laughed out loud many times.

Then, Annie is all turned on, but she can’t move—she’s immobilised by magic still—so she asks Nibbil to help her out.

And she does—what a sweetie.

Small Favors Nibbil Helps Annie

Nibbil ‘helping’ out.

Once they’re both thoroughly satisfied, the Queen and Janus return to announce the women are irrevocably bonded. Nibbil will be keeping Annie in line in perpetuity.

No, they didn’t see what happened.

The takeaway is Nibbil is magic and very sweet, if not the brightest crayon in the box.

Throughout the following issues (which become chapters in the deluxe edition) we learn that Nibbil can grow to human size. So they take turns wielding the strap on. They’re switches in pretty much every way.

Sometimes Nibbil stays small and they play with that in all sorts of ways.

There’s a poly element in that our pixie friend encourages Annie to approach the hot neighbour she was lusting over when they were first introduced and thoroughly enjoys Annie’s enjoyment.

They also meet another girl at one point and have some three-way fun.

Small Favors Threeway

Like so.

Then there’s an orgy involving five people—all women. There are only vulva-having ladies in this book.

Small Favors lesbian orgy

Why isn’t this a live-action film yet?

At one point, Janus, the Queen’s assistant, is sent to check up on Nibbil and Annie.

I love Janus.

Janus wears glasses and a prim dress and has her hair in a bun and is usually carrying books—the titles of which reflect her inner thoughts. Like ‘The Clean Human Being’ and ‘Humility’

Her goal is to please the Queen and receive her approval and admiration. This is her kink.

Small Favors Janus is the best

This is what Janus thinks will happen when she finds the girls debauching one another.

As she’s walking up the drive to do the check in, she grouses,

small favors janus

That being at the top is Bean (not my Bean–she’s an actual person.)

Meanwhile, inside the house, Annie is going down on Nibbil, who suddenly starts crying and then this conversation happens:

Annie says: Oh no! I’m sorry! I thought you liked it when I licked you there! Oh no!

And Nibbil says:

small favors colleen coover nummy titties

So they’re running around the house like lunatics trying to clean everything up so Nibbil won’t get into trouble.
And something really good happens, but I’m not going to tell you what because spoilers.

Part of why I have such affection for Small Favors is nostalgia—it was released when I was a young-ish lesbian. And I hadn’t seen anything like it—I still haven’t.

It’s as graphic as it’s possible to be.

I gave a copy of the first collection to my friend Bean for her birthday one year and we were walking in public when she flipped through it and went, ‘Whoa, that’s graphic, I need to put this is my bag, hold up.’

It’s pretty much cartoon labia on nearly every page.

small favors annie masturbate

So

small favors nibbil masturbating

Many

small favors toys

Labia.

But it’s also very sweet and funny.

It’s also quite kinky! I didn’t realise. Because I was a kinky person but didn’t know it back then—I just thought it was the normal way to be—but looking at it now a vanilla person might be annoyed by all the spankings and bondage and such.

There’s even a story called ‘How to Spank Girls’.

Small Favors spankings

Which includes one of my all-time favourite comic panels, ever.

Note to my younger self: This isn’t the sort of thing vanilla people find normal. Find a clue, your life will be better for it.

I mean, in the very opening—Annie is fantasising about attaching her cute neighbour to the washing line with clothes pins by the nipples so she can do other naughty things to her. Sure. Everyone thinks about that.

Small Favors clothes pins on nipples

Really.

At the same time—there’s so much explicit consent. There’s a lot of people checking in or affirming their desire to do things. Which is definitely not something you see in BDSM porn—or any porn, really. People usually just go with the fantasy of power. I give Coover much credit for that.

So, it’s super fun and the physical version is high quality and I’m very happy. The end.

5/5

Jun 20 2017

Unforeseen Circumstances

This week’s podcast episode & posts will be delayed due to a family medical emergency. Many thanks to the staff and doctors at John Radcliffe Hospital & the NHS for their caring, thorough attention. Regularly scheduled programming will resume… when it does. We don’t have all test results or a diagnosis yet.

Jun 18 2017

The Things We Wish For: A Cautionary Tale

At eleven pm last night, as I was finally settling down in my too hot bed (because they don’t really do A/C in England), after being awake thirty-two hours (because I have a terrible time sleeping) there began fireworks.

On a June 17…

It wasn’t a long display, but immediately after, live music kicked off.

Was it for the Queen’s birthday? I asked my English husband. No, they don’t usually do that (fireworks or live concerts in the middle of the night) for her Majesty.

It sounded like it was nearby.

The music was loud enough I could make out songs—it was a cover band. ‘Living on a Prayer’ and a manic version of ‘I Will Survive’ a la Cake were a couple choice selections. The bass was reverberating in the bed that I desperately wanted to be sleeping in.

Mystified, my husband went out to investigate while I lie there, looking through dailyinfo.co.uk, the local events schedule for Oxford. Nothing that matched this cacophony was scheduled in our suburb or in Oxford itself.

Eventually, Walter returned and reported that it was ‘so strange’ because the music seemed loudest on our street, but it wasn’t even in our suburb. As he was walking, the cars driving by and the wind seemed to be knocking the music in different directions, but it became clearest when he turned back up our street to return home.

Enigma unsolved, he got on NextDoor, a neighbourhood forum, and asked any neighbours who may be awake and aware of what was going on.

One responder didn’t know the exact reason but added jovially, ‘Oxford in summer, eh?!’

Wait. So this is normal? But why? They didn’t say.

Finally, someone else on NextDoor did know. It was the Christchurch end of year ball.

We live nowhere near Christchurch. But sure enough. Fireworks at 10.20 and live music until 3. Then a silent disco from 3 to 5am. (That’s where you wear wireless headphones to listen to the live music.)

So this is something that happens every year this time. Okay.

Of course, other colleges have them, too. Not all 33 colleges, thank the old gods and the new, but several. Enough that the upcoming weekends are going to be an emotional whirlwind.

This is a Difficult Timeline for Me

Oxford has been my happy place since I was 22. England has been my happy place since I was 16. When people have difficult childhoods they develop ways to escape—some use drink or drugs or sex, others use fantasy worlds they create or read about.

England was my escape. It was a real place I could move to one day. I understood people left you alone in public and didn’t pry, it was beautiful, liberal, and, most importantly, it was very far away from where I grew up.

So when I decided to really settle in to writing my first novel (my actual first had no plot or direction and was abandoned a few chapters in at 17 years old) it would, of course, take place in England. So I could live there in my mind at least.

I chose Oxford University as the setting and the more I learned about the city and the university, the more I loved it.
After that, Oxford was my go-to fantasy place. All of my stories were set there. It’s just where I lived in my head.

That novel was 2,400 words long and took two years to write—I learned much about England and Oxford in that time, but somehow not about these end of year balls. Or, if I did, I didn’t realise how loud they’d be. When I’d visited the city for research it had been in November so I’d missed out on the music blaring across the city.

I didn’t really think I’d ever get to move to England. And certainly not to Oxford. When it happened it was a dream come true.

But the dream wasn’t supposed to work out this way. And when you only get part of a dream you’ve had for the majority of your adult life it can be disappointing. If you want to laugh at the white woman who didn’t get everything she wanted, that’s fine. I understand how entitled that sounds. Read on—my pain can be your hilarity.

The University and Why End-of-Term is Going to Be Unpleasant

Oxford University is the second oldest university in the world. It’s the oldest English-speaking one. People have been teaching in Oxford for a thousand years.

In my first novel, my protagonist was a student at the University (New College). Because I thought I could have gone here. And I probably could have if I’d had help for the mental illnesses that kicked off when I was eight and if my alcoholic father had spent more time giving me confidence rather than telling me women couldn’t do anything.

Instead, my mother was dealing with her own burgeoning alcoholism and mental health problems—possibly due to dealing with my father. She didn’t have a lot of time to pay attention to me or my issues.

I had a high I.Q. though and everyone told me I was going to do amazing things—my parents were already saving for college when I was eight. This was something no one in my family had done before—gone to college—so saving for it seemed like they were doing something radical, but I was crazy smart, so it was going to be worth it.

(Yes, my father simultaneously told me I was pointless for being female and put money aside for college for me. I don’t pretend to understand him and I didn’t cry when he died.)

The thing about achieving academic success is that you have to show up. And study. It’s much easier to do both of those things when you don’t have untreated depression and anxiety and don’t go through a period every. single. year. where you want to kill yourself.

So Oxford was the place I could have gone in the timeline where my parents weren’t shit parents but I had the exact same genetics.

Everyone in our culture receives the message that in order to be smart you have to have a degree. (I worked at a university in North Carolina—plenty of people got degrees by simply showing up and doing what they were told. Trust me—a piece of paper proves nothing.)

If you’re naturally intelligent, though, you really receive this message. You have to use your intelligence in a way that involves getting paper that can be framed. When I was converting to Judaism, after several meetings and a dinner with his wife, who was a professor at the local university, my rabbi said to me, in a rather surprised tone, ‘Rose* noticed how smart you are, too,—now we just have to get you a degree.’

Not in anything. Just a degree.

Being smart doesn’t count unless someone else says so. You have to prove it by following the rules.

The Degrees I’ve Attempted—The Money I’ve Wasted

Every dinner I had at Rose and the Rabbi’s house people would ask what I was studying (I was young enough to be a student). Then I’d have to explain I wasn’t at university (while my face turned brighter red than my hair) because I just wasn’t any good at organised education.

People don’t take your word for it, though. They never do with mental illness. They don’t see what goes into dealing with whatever you’re dealing with because it’s invisible.

‘But you’re so smart!’ They’d all exclaim.

They don’t give degrees for just being smart, though. You have to be able to walk into the classroom. And sit for the duration. And focus on the topic—not on the fact that you’re surrounded by people or your own breathing in an effort to calm down.

You have to be able to actually get out of bed and get dressed and washed and there and still have the energy to do all of those other things.

And not only once. You have to do it a lot. For many classes.

Then you can’t just go home and collapse from the exhaustion involved with all of that—you have to study and do coursework.

This is if the only thing you have to do in life is school. No chores, no family, no work to pay bills.

For a person with depression and anxiety that was impossible.

It took me six years (and three schools) to get to within two classes of an Associate’s degree, signing up every semester for full-time and winding up dropping (or just not showing up).

An Associate’s degree is usually a two-year degree that can be obtained at the easiest of easy institutions in the U.S.

I was at one of these institutions, during one of my better periods, taking a class that was easy for me and the teacher said, ‘You shouldn’t even be here—you should be at Harvard.’ He said it like he was disappointed in me for being in his class.

Professors at the university I worked at as an admin assistant would mistake me as another professor and be surprised I didn’t at least have a Masters.

Other people should really be thankful for their neurotypicalness.

It doesn’t matter if you’re intelligent, though. It’s that degree that says you can follow the rules and show up and turn things in on time. That’s what matters.

And it is so hard to not internalise this.

I offer these examples not as a way to brag, because they only made me feel good for a quarter of a second. Then, the message behind the statement gets nice and comfortable in my brain, which hates me.

‘You are a failure.’

‘You are inferior.’

‘You have a natural gift—this should be easy for you.’

‘You’re wasting your potential.’

‘If this is how you are without formal education, can you imagine what you’d know with it? Can you imagine what you could accomplish in the world?’

‘Oxford in Summer, Eh?’

Every year we’ll be able to hear those celebrations. And fair dues, those kids worked hard! They deserve to have a party.

Some part of me feels cheated, though. Years ago, I should have been at one of those celebrating my hard work and graduation from one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world.

I could feel it. Lying in bed, I could imagine being at that concert in black tie and evening gown, surrounded by other people who had their whole lives ahead of them, but at that moment, who were there, celebrating the achievement of making it as far as they had. Some coming from other countries to study here. How hard did they have to work? How proud they—and their families—must be. It must have been a night to remember.

I was jealous and miserable.

That was before learning there would be balls over the next several weekends, as well.

The Degree I Could Get

The University of London, Goldsmiths has an English literature degree that can be achieved online in three years. Unlike courses in the U.S., you only study the subject you’re there for in the U.K. Part of my difficulty in America was the requirement to take classes I had no interest in, which gave me much more time to focus on panicking or simply left me with zero motivation to show up.

But why should I get this degree now? I’d finally have one and I’m sure I’d learn a lot—Goldsmiths is highly respected. But the chief reason I’d go for it is to be able to say I had the degree. I would have to put my new business on hold (or at least devote far less time to it), just when I’ve finally found what I want to do with my life.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want a degree. Those voices up there are still there. But, rationally, I don’t have good reason to spend the money or time getting this one.

This Timeline, Man. It Gives and It Takes.

I’m writing this in the tiny back garden of our bizarre little terraced house in suburban Oxford, where I never thought I’d live.

Neighbour’s lives in every direction are audible, because people live right up next to one another, but it’s not stifling like it would be in mid-June in coastal North Carolina, which is A+. A posh couple has just moved in next door and hearing the woman say ‘Funky’ in her accent makes my day.

I’m ridiculously happily married (to a man?!) and we had our eleventh anniversary last month. He’s having some sort of male menopause at the age of forty and has become obsessed with grilling chicken on the barbecue—something he’s never cared about before in his life.

He’s just worked out how to warm English marshmallows (3/4th the size of U.S. type) on the prongs of the tool he uses for moving the meat around and offers one to me. ‘Gooey,’ he says, offering one. They’re excellent.

If it weren’t for his financial wherewithal I’d be in who knows how much debt, as I like to shop when depressed or drunk. Now we’re completely out of debt. We have no savings to speak of, but we don’t owe anyone anything. This is basically fantasyland for me.

I’d probably also be a raging alcoholic—it was a lot easier to stop drinking with his help.

Or dead. Honestly. I’ve been suicidal in the time we’ve known one another and he got me to the hospital when I was unconscious and vomiting.

When I finally worked out what I wanted to do with my life—a podcast and website about kink education—he’s been enthusiastically supportive from the start.

It was through his English citizenship we were able to move to England. Neither of us could believe when he got the job at Oxford University, as he doesn’t have a degree, either, and U.S. institutions wouldn’t give him an interview without even a Bachelor’s.

They flew him out for an interview—the first time he’d been to the city as an adult—and he loved it. He was as in love with it as I was by the time he left.

So we got to move here. For weeks—maybe a few months—I’d wake up in the morning and think, ‘I live in England!’ I still have these moments.

He was so happy to have been able to bring me back. He was happy to be here with me, too.

And we both love Oxford. It’s beautiful and has such history and so many things to do.

But after dreaming about living here for twenty-two years, I relocated just in time for Brexit. For the Tories to try to dismantle the NHS. For a coalition government with the DUP (?!)

Americans, imagine if the Tea Party (picture the most right-wing humans you can) was its own party and they only had three senators, but in order to have a majority number of votes in the Senate, moderate Republicans formed a whole government that included teaming up with them in order to secure their votes when they needed them.

And for the Digital Economy Bill to pass.

I finally work out what I want to do with my life, after nearly forty years of a philosophy of, ‘Everything is a way of marking time until we die,’ and that thing revolves around kink and sex education and the DEB happens.

The DEB aims to ‘protect the children!’ by banning all sorts of things on the internet that anyone with VPN or Tumblr can still see. It’s poorly thought out and misogynistic. This country is supposed to be liberal. Are they going to bring back capital punishment and handguns next?

The Big Blue Tick Mark of External Validation

I’ve never been more myself or more of an adult—I have solid plans for growing a business I’m serious about that I feel has value. For the first time, I look forward to working. There are so many ideas jostling for attention it’s difficult to focus on just one sometimes.

That doesn’t stop the voices saying what I do isn’t worth as much or that I’m not living up to my potential because I don’t have that piece of paper and that I didn’t get it when I was supposed to. That I’m not doing something more conventional that can be written about in the paper. That I can’t get that blue tick mark—that I can’t be verified by life.

When your worth is measured by external validation from a young age—by a degree, for example—you value verification over your own feelings of self worth or accomplishment. Perhaps I don’t trust my own ability to judge my achievements. I just have to be happy being happy. I’m working on it.

*Not her real name.

Jun 17 2017

Episode 055: Small Favors

Episode the fifty-fifth; Wherein the Pageist expresses gratitude for community, friends and the best listeners in the world. The book reviewed is Small Favors: the definitive girly porno collection by Colleen Coover.

.45 Intro and Announcements:

  • The show has a new Patreon supporter! Effusive thanks to Dave!

1.48 My Submissive Life:

10.15 Book Review:

Small Favors deluxe hardback cover

The hardback cover. (source)

  • This episode’s book is Small Favors: the definitive girly porno collection by Colleen Coover.
    It collects the full run of the popular (very) explicit lesbian comic that ran from 2000-2003, including all seven of the black and white issues and the previously uncollected eighth colour issue. Also included is a new short story, pin-ups, sketches and other bits and bobs.
    It’s kinky and fun-loving (and hilarious). I had forgotten how funny.
    The premise is that Annie has used her lifetime allotment of masturbation by the age of twenty-one and the adorable Nibbil has been sent from another realm to make sure she behaves herself forevermore. They are irrevocably bonded through magic and, well, Nibbil is a naughty little someone herself.
    They thoroughly enjoy their bond (and bondage). Though it doesn’t remain just the two of them for long, as Nibbil understands compersion well and encourages Annie to explore whatever and whomever she’d like. Her cute neighbour, for example.
    This is such a fun time while demonstrating healthy kink and that lesbians can get down with the best of them.
  • Check out the artist’s website for more information about the author and her work: ColleenCoover.net

 

20.48 Closing Remarks:

Jun 15 2017

All the Smaller For It: Kink as Orientation & Nonsexual Kink

All the Smaller For It a.k.a. Everyone Doesn’t Have to Experience Relationships the Way You Do

This week hasn’t been so swift, as my Mother likes to say when she doesn’t feel good. ‘I don’t feel so swift.’

I started Monday morning being compared to a rapist and pedophile for being kinky. Here’s what happened.

Sunday, in a conversation on Twitter, giver of hilarity and taker of will to live, I pointed out that some people believe kink is an orientation, since it’s unchangeable and present from an early age. This didn’t feel like a controversial statement to me.

Monday I woke up to someone saying that NO, kink is only sexual and if we’re going to include kinky people in LGBT then we have to include rapists and pedophiles.

I said that first—kink doesn’t have to be sexual—asexual people can be kinky (the person disagreed) and that kink is all about consent. Rape and pedophilia very much aren’t.

Then I realised—this person doesn’t know what my job is.

So I explained this is what I do—I read (books, articles, essays) and write and listen to podcasts and learn from other people and have a show, sharing information about kink. Teaching is an excellent way of learning—it helps you remember what you’ve read, synthesise information from various sources and forces you to solidify your opinions, as well as form sound reasoning behind those opinions.

This is what I do all day, seven days a week. It’s my job and my personal life.

Sarah McDonald Kinky Nerd

This is the safest image that came up when I searched for ‘kinky nerd’. It’s Sarah McDonald.

I figured they just thought I was a random person with as little information as they had.

The response I received: Good for you.

Then they told me to pick up a biology textbook because I didn’t understand how sexuality worked.

That person (and the people who agreed with them in the thread) will never listen to my show (or read this) because they aren’t interested in learning anything. They’ve decided what kink is and is not. And that is sad and infuriating, but their lives will be all the smaller for it.

They know what kink and sex is for them specifically and that’s enough for them. Which is fine—my knowing that other people experience the world a different way because either I do so myself or because I’ve read about or spoken to people who experience the world differently is enough for me.

Some people don’t believe other people when they talk about their experiences of the world—if they don’t experience it for themselves it doesn’t exist for them. They believe only their experience of anything is ‘correct’ and everything else is wrong and must be explained or accounted for rather than simply accepted as a different way of living in the world.

I need to learn to leave people alone when they don’t want to learn.

I have this wacky thing, though, with information. It’s free—here—understand the world and humanity better.

If you’re reading this, perhaps you’d like to understand some of the world and your fellow humans better. So, here is some information.

My presents often come in the form of information. (source)

Kink as Orientation

Kink is an orientation—for some people—because it’s how they relate to others intimately. Not just sexually, but emotionally. They are ‘oriented’ that way.

You can’t un-orient someone from their particular thing.

I should say ‘we’. Looking back, my service-oriented submissiveness was present for years before my romantic feelings for women were. I didn’t have a word for it, but I knew I wanted to be useful to a woman I admired.

For years I could describe, with many, many words how particular women (who I’d now just call Dominant) made me feel using many, many words, (which I’d now just say submissive). I could also sort of describe the type of relationship I wanted (now it’d be called a power exchange) and all the things I’d like to do (now it’d be service).

When Jillian Keenan was on Why Are People Into That?! with Tina Horn and they talked about spanking Tina asked her if she had to give up spanking or sex which would it be Jillian said sex without much pause. Tina said the same.

If that isn’t oriented towards spanking, then I don’t know what is.

(Keenan has a great article on Slate called Is Kink an Orientation.)

In the recent episodes of Tina’s show about masochism with Dirty Lola (pt1, pt2), she actually said she felt she was oriented towards sadomasochism. That it was profoundly part of her.

For some people, BDSM isn’t an orientation. It’s just something people do on occasion to spice things up—to goof around. To feel naughty. There’s nothing wrong with that.

To say that kink isn’t an orientation is like saying that because some people fool around with the same sex at a play party, no one is ever completely gay or romantically oriented towards the same sex.

Just because something works one way for you doesn’t mean it has to work that way for everyone else. Other people’s experiences are just as valid as yours.

If it’s something that you couldn’t give up—if it makes up a part of your core being and has been present since a young age—you’re oriented that way. Just like you’re whatever gender you are (or aren’t), or whatever sexuality you are.

Speaking of sexuality.

Relax. It’s not what you think. (source)

Non-Sexual Kink

Kink can be non-sexual. Even for sexual people. If your thing is rope you can enjoy tying up everyone for the art and creativity and challenge. You don’t have to want to fuck everyone in the rope.

Though I suppose some people could be so turned on by the act of tying—if they were pansexual and had a high libido—maybe they could find everyone in their rope sexy.

The point is—lots of kink can be non-sexual. Power exchange isn’t called ‘sex exchange’. It’s about power and control and trust and a thousand other things. Sex can be involved, but it doesn’t have to be.

A lot of people think power is sexy, but a lot of people think cars are sexy, too. When someone buys a new car you don’t automatically say, ‘When are you going to fuck in it?’

Just because something is deemed ‘sexy’ by the wider world doesn’t mean sex is involved.

Someone I know who is a Master and is married to his slave—he also had another slave for a time (they were all poly) and he intentionally didn’t have sex with his second slave because he didn’t want that energy to cloud the power exchange. If a full-time Master/slave relationship isn’t kinky, I don’t know what is, but they didn’t have sex.

There are also several groups of asexual kinksters on Fet. I don’t know what to tell them. ‘Some people on Twitter think you don’t exist so… Sorry.’

Kink is definitely about sex for many people. Just because it is for you doesn’t mean it has to be for everyone.

Because I’m a creative person and this is how my mind works—I began trying to work out if there were any kinks that couldn’t be practised non-sexually. The only ones that were really difficult were chastity and things like prostate milking.

Even forced orgasms could be non-sexual. It’s not something I have any interest in, but if I were in a long-term power exchange and my Ma’am was really into that, I’d do it as an act of submission. Orgasms feel good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not something I’d ever ask for or care about. After about the third I’d be yawning.

But with penises and their accoutrements—if you don’t care about that stuff…I mean, I could lock my husband’s junk up and his biggest issue would be bathing. Trying to clean an uncircumcised cock in a chastity cage is probably a real issue.

But: ‘Now, keep your hands off yourself!’

‘Okay.’

I really never thought I’d wind up writing about Walter’s dick, but there we are. It has a little turtleneck and he washes under it and then goes FOONK and pulls the covers back over its head. It’s sweet.

And it never bothers me for anything. That’s the best part.

It couldn’t make me happier if it had its own Minion sweater. (source)

The Devaluing of Sex Education

Now. The ‘Good for you’ where the person dismissed the time, energy, money and effort I put into learning and sharing information about kink.

I was shaking with rage. I’ve never had my intelligence dismissed before—to that degree, I mean, I am a woman—and I did not care for it.

They had made up their mind about what kink (and kinky people) were and didn’t care that someone else knew more and was happy to share.

I think much of this comes from our culture’s devaluing of sex education. Sex is simple and straightforward and anyone can have it. There’s nothing new to learn about it, right? So you probably already know everything there is to know. And you certainly don’t want to know more—especially about anything deviant like BDSM. Mainstream media will tell you everything you need to know about that, except that’s nearly always written by non-kinky people who don’t do research and perpetuates incorrect and harmful information from other non-kinky writers.

One of the most profound things I have learned in studying sexuality—about myself and the rest of humanity—is that sexuality is far more complicated and nuanced than we’ve been led to believe by religion or government or society. It’s beautiful and amazing. If people were just allowed to be themselves and explore, with other consenting adults, obviously, we’d all be better off. I don’t know how much work we’d get done. But there’d probably be fewer wars.

How we are oriented—how we connect with others intimately—whether it’s sexually, emotionally, how we need to structure our relationships to be most fulfilled, whatever… is when we’re being most true to ourselves. If we have to lie about that—about who we are at our core—then we’re lying about everything else. You can’t build an honest life on top of an untruth.

People who give you resources to help you be more honest with yourself and those in your life—because we can’t ‘teach’ you anything, we can just give you resources and hope you make the most of them—hope they work for you. We want you to be your most authentic self. Because when you are—you’re happier, as are the people around you. And there’s no reason to be miserable. Some people have to remain closeted due to the country they live in—or the specific area—and my heart goes out to you. But knowing yourself and knowing you’re not alone is vital, I think.

I’m a fucking sex and kink resource librarian. It’s my goal in life to accumulate even more resources to help even more people in future. If you ever come across a useful resource, send it my way, (thepageist [at] gmail) and I’ll add it to the pages on my site.

I’m going for the virtual, kinky version of this. It’s the long room at Trinity College, Dublin. More photos here.

We’ve Been Here For Years, Mofos

So this Twitter person (and several agreed) that we shouldn’t allow kinkily oriented people under the LGBT umbrella unless we were going to allow in rapists and pedophiles, too.

Well, uninformed individual who didn’t want to listen to the person who devotes their life to this, but who has a podcast, kinky people have been marching in gay pride since 1981. So HA-HA.

I thought so, but I wasn’t sure of the dates, so I would like to thank Laura Antoniou for the following information, who very graciously answered my questions on Twitter (which isn’t all evil).

My question to her was when did Leather people start marching in pride?

She had to look it up—thank you, Laura! (I wasn’t even sure where to start with that) and said the Gay Male S/M Activists (GMSMA) and the Lesbian Sex Mafia (a lesbian BDSM community) marched in 1981 in Gay Pride in New York. There was also a big Leather contingent at the 1987 March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, which was possibly the first appearance of SSC—Safe Sane and Consensual—on a banner.

It’s not like regular old gay folks are promoting consent on banners out in the world. Neither are non-kinky people, for that matter. But the Leather people were.

SSC was created by the Leather community, as a way of putting the non-kinky people’s minds at ease. Because, you know, we’re so terrifying. Doing things with other people who want to do them.

Meanwhile, thirty-five years later, the vanilla world still hasn’t caught up and started using the consent model we do, which is more conscientious than theirs. The irony. It burns.

Back to Laura, though. She said her first Pride was in 1984 and she was marching with the Lesbian Sex Mafia in the early 90s, where they had regular debates on whether or not to march with the lesbians of the leathermen. To which she added ‘Imagine!’ I can just hear that in her New York accent.

She also said back then there were protests to them marching, where they were called rapists and child molesters. Charming. Good to know the haters haven’t come up with anything new in decades.

This comes back to people thinking they already know everything they need to know about those dirty perverts, though, right?

Anyone reading this who worries they are anything like that—you are fine how you are. As long as what you’re doing is consensual with another adult human being you are fine exactly how you are. It’s not your fault the people around you think they know everything there is to know about human sexuality. I know I don’t know everything and I’m excited to learn more. I know that my world is only going to expand, though; it’s not going to contract—that’s not how it works. You just learn about new and varied ways people connect and relate—both to others and themselves. Physically and emotionally, sexually and intellectually.

This experience has made me endlessly grateful for the community of kink and sex educators I am proud to call my peers and mentors and it makes me even more determined to work to eradicate such narrow thinking. It also makes me grateful for and proud of my friends, who have been open-minded and supportive and of me and my career from the beginning.

This is for you. (source)

(This piece originally appeared in a shorter form in episode 54 of The Pageist podcast.)

Jun 13 2017

Approaching the Swingularity by Cooper S. Beckett

(source)

[This is the text of the book review from episode 54, which includes a reading of one of the steamy scenes.]

This episode’s book review is Approaching the Swingularity: Tales of Swinging and Polyamory in Paradise by Cooper S. Beckett.

I received this book for free and Coop runs swingset.fm, but I auditioned to read the part of Paige in the audio version of this and didn’t get the part. So, fuck this guy. This book is a piece of shit.

I’m kidding. Cooper is the sort of author who would want an honest review anyway and he can take criticism. With that as a preface, I don’t have a great deal of negative to say except, like in A Life Less Monogamous, the first book in the series, everyone appears to be drinking, all the time.

But I’ll get to that in a minute.

I was going to review this on the show long before there was any plan to join the network, because I loved the characters of Paige and Bruce from A Life Less Monogamous, which I reviewed in episode 5.

To recap that book—Ryan and Jennifer are a youngish couple in a lacklustre, monogamous marriage. They meet vibrant, older couple Bruce and Paige and zoom into swinging. And they all drink a whole bunch and almost never seem to get drunk unless they need to be for the plot.

That was one of my quibbles with the last book. I said you shouldn’t read that one if you struggle with alcohol because I don’t usually have a problem saying no and I wanted a drink.

This book takes place some time after that one—not years, but it doesn’t pick up the next day, either—and all four of them have gone off to a swingers’ resort in Mexico, Xanadu X, along with one hundred and eleven other couples.

That’s a lot of genitals to possibly interact with.

That’s also many characters to juggle. Which the author does admirably.

The book is broken down by day—the holiday lasts a week—then, within each day there are chapters, each are told from the point of view of various characters.

Some chapters are by Ryan, Jennifer (who now goes by Jenn), Bruce and Paige, then we have new people, including the person who has run the get away for ten years, Raymond and whose partner has recently left him. He’s not exactly in an orgy-mood, as you can imagine, but has to put on his party face for the benefit of the other attendees. There are chapters by Alejandra and Crista, Xanadu’s first lesbian couple and all I have to say is Coop seriously knows some lesbians, because he’s nailed what lady relationships are like.

Crista also has a reactive libido, rather than proactive, meaning that it’s a special flower that needs careful nurturing. He uses the book to educate on many subjects including things like reactive vs proactive sex drives, but also things pertaining to poly and swinging and has his characters demonstrate safer sex and kink negotiations as well as STI and STD conversations. And the conversations come across as quite natural. It’s obvious this was written by a person who actually does these things.

In terms of ‘doing these things’—people did a lot of things. There were many sexual activities experienced including a gang bang and an orgy and pegging and a lesbian foursome and a standing sixty-nine and… just… so many things.

But the book isn’t just one scene of debauchery after another—each of the characters are going through their own woes because obviously your week-long orgy isn’t going to happen when life is going perfectly, is it? At first I was thinking, ‘Jeez, is anyone’s life going well?’ but then I realised that of course life is going to happen to you when you just want to get your junk out on a Mexican beach.

There are some profound moments and some heart-wrenching ones, as well.

There were a few laugh-out-loud moments, too. Someone gets stung by a jellyfish at one point and a Mr Helpful type comes running up the beach to pee on the poor bastard in a scene that had me cackling… That’s an urban legend, by the way. Don’t pee on someone who’s been stung by a jellyfish. It doesn’t help. No one’s in the mood for watersports just then.

The people narrating the story aren’t the only ones around, either. The author isn’t enough of a masochist to attempt to introduce us to all one hundred seven other couples, but some other people are regular players.

There’s Strom and Kitten—the podcasters—who start out obnoxious and … well. They’re fun.

Then there’s Will and Madison. We’ve all met a Will. He’s that guy you want to shoot into the sun. We’ve also all met a Madison. Where you think, ‘Why, girl? Why him?’

There’s James and Debra—the much older couple who’ve been to every Xanadu since its inception. I loved James and Debra. They appeared to be the only couple who weren’t having some sort of relationship or personal crisis. That reminds me—fuck you, Coop. I know you’re reading this.

Xanadu had its first triad—in the form of a gay guy, bi guy and straight woman—Rory, Terrence and Marley.

And finally, perhaps my favourite character, Lydia. The person Ryan has his first thuper kinky experience with. (It’s the steamy scene I chose to read at the end of the episode.)

There were a few others who appeared by name, but those were the big ones—the ones with plotlines.

As a writer—respect to juggling all of that. I was mentally keeping up with how all of the 500 plotlines were going at any one point and whether they would or would not be resolved and how believable those resolutions would be.
Well-fucking-done, man. I’ve been going over various subplots in the days after finishing it and just wind up being impressed all over again.

Ryan is curious about exploring his bisexuality and his thoughts on this were really well expressed, as were Crista’s experiences as someone with a less-than-naturally-enthusiastic sex drive.

We learn more about Bruce and Paige—who, in the first book—seem to have this whole Swinging Open Poly thing down. We learn no one is perfect and people are just trying to make it work as best they can. And that even people who know swinging or poly is right for them can still have fears and doubts.

We also get to see how the foursome’s relationships have grown and changed in the time between books. It made me happy. That’s all I’m going to say. Dear god, a lot happened in this book. Not until writing this did I realise just how much. It didn’t feel like a Russian novel.

I highlighted lots of bits and pieces, but I really liked this one:

‘when does time ever truly allow for our desires in full? Instead, it keeps us humble, parceling out moments, making them precious.’

Yeah well, time’s a jerk. I desire more time to read and write. So, you know. Who wants to be humble.

Quibbles:

I read the final, pre-editorial draft, so there were more than the usual typos, but because I didn’t read the final draft I’m going to give Coop and his editor the benefit of the doubt—they both probably caught a lot. I’m just covering my bee-hind with this note.

As mentioned before, everyone drinks, all the time. Which may simply reflect the swingers’ resort culture, but, again, if you struggle with that sort of thing—wave off, wave off. I really want an espresso martini, though, and I can’t have either of those things without regretting my entire life.

That’s it. Which is a fairly short list of quibbles.

Overall: The author’s writing improves with each book—this is his best yet. Character, pacing and plot are all on point. This one is sexy, hilarious and full of heart and you might learn a few things, too. You don’t have to start with A Life Less Monogamous, but you might as well, as it’s a good one, as well.

5/5

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