My new SFGate column — Open Source Sex :: with links!

I’m twirling in my office chair with delight! In my third (and newest) online column for the Chronicle/SFGate, they kept every single link I turned in with the piece! They’re starting to get it, woo-hoo!!!

I’m also tickled that whoever wrote their front page copy called the main man in the piece, “local perverati star Sean Kelly”. Awwwww.

Read Open Source Sex: San PantyCisco. And revel in the sweet, sweet linkage, just as I intended… Let’s hope it’s a trend that continues.

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HowTo: Protect yourself from The Craigslist Experiment

A few weeks ago I blogged about The Craigslist Experiment, where a creepy guy named Jason Fortuny posted a fake, explicit Craigslist ad from the point of view of a female submissive looking for rough sex, and then he maliciously posted all of the personal information on each and every one of the respondents to an editable online wiki. Since then there has been at least one copycat — miraculously, Michael Crook is of even lower social caliber, baiting his respondents for further personal information. Reactions around the blogosphere have been strong, even in many ways going uncomfortably far in personal attacks on Fortuny.

Meanwhile, the New York Times seems to have dropped the story. Why? I think it’s because it’s unclear where the ‘good vs. bad’ or ‘guilty vs. innocent’ lines can be drawn here — though while that’s a head-scratching conundrum for most media to interpret, for me that’s what makes this whole situation really interesting. Plus, the entire thing is centered on a very extreme sexual fantasy, and we can never, ever expect any media to discuss something like this in a mature, nonjudgemental or accurate context in our lifetimes. And to me, that’s a big reason why jerks like Fortuny and the aptly-named Crook can exploit a poorly informed, and sexually shamed public.

Think of it like this: when you upload a porn photo to Flickr, you are in violation of their Terms of Use rules and they take it down. When you use your work email address to answer an explicit sex ad, you are essentially in violation of your employer’s TOU. If you cheat on your wife, you’re in violation of your marriage’s TOU. In his “experiment”, Jason Fortuny violated several ethical and social TOUs that many of us accept as basic privacy and communication rules of conduct.

But not everyone outed in The Craigslist Experiment was violating one of life’s TOUs — I’ll even argue that the majority of the people who had their personal info revealed didn’t care, or notice.

So if you’re not doing something you shouldn’t, and you want to answer a personal ad on Craiglslist (even a sexually explicit or edgy one) and protect your privacy, how do you avoid getting exploited for entertainment and sport by creeps like Fortuny? And if you want to place an ad, no matter how explicit, how can you do so safely?

The howto is after the jump.


* * * * * * *

Howto: Protect Yourself from The Craigslist Experiment

* First rule: use a dummy email address. Everyone should have one of these anyway, just for all those lame-ass manditory registration sites that demand your email address and name just to read a news article or whatever — while ovbiously trading their information for the chance to gather your personal info for marketing or spam. So not fair. Use a free online email (webmail) service and make an account you won’t mind getting unsolicited spam sent to from news websites — or one you won’t cry about having someone publish in association with a sexual ad you might answer. Sign up with a name you will want to use in both instances.

* Your email address can be searched for on social networking sites (like MySpace) and on Google for further information; keep in mind what’s associated with your email address when replying to any random personal ad.

* Don’t respond to an ad if you have anything to really hide or lose. The internet is tracable and it’s really quite difficult to keep secrets here. If you’re lying to your girlfriend about your shit fetish and answering CL ads for brown shower enthusiasts, she *will* eventually find out, I promise.

* Read my porn surfing privacy howto for a lot of essential information about safeguarding your privacy, near the end of the article.

* If you’re really concerned about your web privacy, use Tor

* Use common sense when you read a Craigslist ad. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is — meaning, question the authenticity of everything you read on any free anonynmous ad service. Proceed accordingly with the way you respond, how you present yourself to the person you’re responding to, and how much information you reveal about yourself in your reply. Wait until you’ve had more than three emails from the person you’re corresponding with before you offer up anything like what I have listed in the next bullet point.

* Never give a stranger your real name, email address, your phone number, physical address or location at any given time, information that could let them know where you work or hang out, or send photos that reveal your face. This is basic rape and stalker prevention, by the way. We women know.

* “Your pic gets mine” is a red flag. Don’t do it, ever.

* Decide if you’re looking for an actual connection or just an email thrill before you even start writing your reply. If it’s just a thrill, be as outrageous in your reply as you want and have fun.

* If you want the possibility of making something really happen, be genuine about your intentions in your response while being open about your hesitations to play with a stranger. If you are looking for BDSM or otherwise sexually unconventional encounters, learn as much as you can about the specific acts you want to engage in and the associated terminology so you can spot fakes faster. A good number of experienced CD and BDSM practitioners emailed me about the original ad used in the Craiglslist Experiment stating that this was a typical fake ad style used by guys who like masturbating to extreme female-submissive fantasies where they themselves are in the female role. No revelations here for the world of sexual fantasy, but a disappointment for anyone looking for an actual female submissive who likes to play rough.

* Read up about physical, emotional and sexual safety when playing with fetishes.

Tips for placing your ad:

* Posting is much less revealing than replying, but still use common sense. Read all preceeding sections about revealing personal information. Don’t be duplicitous or try to subvert the Craigslist system with fake info, but be smart about what you reveal to all those clamoring strangers out there.

* Know that the Craigslist anonymizing email system is excellent and can be relied on.

* Assume that every kind of awful rotten hateful jackass in the world is going to read your ad and respond to it. Also assume that you will find a few cool people, too. Like operating a motor vehicle, get to where you want to go with your CL ad by driving defensively.

* If your ad is about intense sex acts, learn the right terminology to stay safe and attract people who will play safe with you. Don’t make the mistake in the fake CL Experiment ad and say things like “safe, sane, consensual” and then contradict yourself. Demand negotiation of boundaries.

* If you meet someone, do it in a public place you never ever go to — but check it out before you go so you know if it’s safe to get in and out of, if the parking area is safe, and that there will be lots of people around. Let a friend know you’re meeting someone and arrange for a series of phone calls to check in — better yet, meet your respondent with a friend planted at a nearby table, or even waiting for you in your car.

Update: my dear friend and fellow Fleshbotette Waking Vixen writes,

“**Never give a stranger your real name, email address, your phone number,
physical address or location at any given time, information that could let
them know where you work or hang out, or send photos that reveal your face.**

From both a sex worker and slutty CL’er perspective – if someone refused to
give me any of these identifying details, plain and simple, I would never
meet them. Though I understand that people are concerned about being
discreet (or “discrete” in the popular CL misspelling), this is a big red
flag to me and would make me feel like the person had something to hide.

I think the problem is that past the initial exchange, a certain level of
trust must be exchanged in order for online dating to work. Yes, this opens
you up to being stalked, etc, but without these details you might never get
a date.

Escorts are increasingly using services like date-check.com and
roomservice2000.com – where the client enters their personal info once and
then the sex worker checks up on them through the site. Its a nice level of
security without the personal exposure to another potentially not
trustworthy person. Of course, it also ads a third party to the equation,
which might not be all that desirable.

I’m a little surprised that online daters haven’t started using these
services – or if they have, I’m surprise I haven’t heard of it. I think
internet daters could learn a lot from the way sex workers do things,
personally.”

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Yaaaayyyy Fetish Sex is here!!!!

fetish sexMy latest book Fetish Sex: An Erotic Guide for Couples is here! Hoo-ray!!!!

I worked really hard on this book — I think I succeeded in creating a book that is the most thorough resource on the entire topic. For reals; a complete fetish compendium and sexual how-to, unafraid to address the most extreme fetishes alongside the ‘tame’ ones, and with oodles of links in the resource chapter. And I truly believe that it’s deeply compassionate, snarkily funny, warm, welcoming, resepctful, extremely informative and practical — and also bizarrely titillating and arousing enough to inspire. Plus, it’s filled with explicit, super-hot fetish erotica by Thomas Roche — pieces he wrote specifically under my instructions.

Read the table of contents here. Read the introduction after the jump. Tonight, I’m celebrating with strong sweet cocktails, vegan chocolate cake, and my favorite pair of fetish heels…!


* * * * * * *

Introduction:
Confessions of a Fetishist

About ten years ago I worked at a vintage clothing resale store in Upper Haight at Ashbury, in San Francisco. I loved clothes and fashion, and fetish fashion, with all its shiny, tight fabrics and slightly sinister overtones, was one of my favorite genres. Perhaps this is where my corset fetish came from — to this day, I’m still not sure.

Maybe it was the day when my gay male coworker, a sexy well-muscled drag queen who did the best Cher I’ve ever seen, put on a black patent leather corset during our shift and asked me to lace him up. It was around noon and the store was quiet, though he giggled, got on all fours behind the check-in area and looked over his shoulder at me with a wicked, wicked smile. I was instantly flushed and excited, aroused. It got even more intense when, while I had both knees on his ass and was pulling the laces as tight as we could make them go, I looked up to see another, very attractive man in a business suit waiting to use the dressing rooms — and he’d been watching with a devious smile the whole time.

It was just a matter of time before I stole my first corset from the store. My boyfriend at the time had no interest in fetish, in corsets or in anything even remotely kinky — he thought people who did S/M and dressed in fetish clothes were weird and “kinda sick”. At the store we received a new sale of vintage items, including a big, old-fashioned peach-colored corset, with about a million laces all up the back and even the sides. I stashed it in my bag when no one was looking, and hid it in my closet at home, when my boyfriend wasn’t looking.

One night, he went out with the guys for beer and I stayed home to work on some artwork. But the minute I knew he was gone, I pulled the corset out from under my shoes and hatboxes and… admired it. I looked it over, closer now that I was alone with it. I wanted to see how it felt on; I was out of my clothes in a second, though struggled to learn how the corset worked as I sweat, cursed and wiggled into it.

I hooked the front hooks, and they kept popping out as I tried to finish the bottom or top hooks; I was frustrated, but then once I got the hooks finished I had the back laces to contend with. I literally used my bedroom doorknob to tighten them. And then, tighten them again. It was a wholly new sensation, being so tightly wrapped. I could hardly breathe.

My figure looked amazing in the mirror, though my breath was labored. I flopped back on my bed, lying back to relax and feel the sensations that now flooded my body. The feeling of constriction somehow made my pussy feel hot, swollen, and alive. It was literally like a light switch flipped form the “off” to the “on” position in my libido; I had for the first time what I’d describe as an “instant hard-on”. Within a just few minutes of getting the corset on, I had to masturbate immediately to release. And once I came, off came the corset.

I grew up in the 1980s San Francisco Bay Area, a time and place when no one wore corsets… I don’t even think that I actually saw a corset until I worked in Upper Haight. But what a joyful obsession and a terrific sex toy corsets are for me; corsetry and tight-lacing is my fetish. I’m lucky to be in a place, and to have now surrounded myself with fetish-positive people (the kink-negative boyfriend is long gone). But as we’ll see in the following pages, fetish isn’t always easy and fun, though it is a delightful aspect of sexuality — nowhere do our sexual imaginations become more devious or playful than in the world of fetish.

Unfortunately, until now, fetish for the most part has been stigmatized; sexually it’s the last frontier, for the mainstream media it’s right out there with circus freaks and criminals, and worse. It’s sensationalized when people want to sell books or ratings — trot out the human ponies, look at the fat people. But most everyone has a fetish, and while sensationalizations are fun to watch, they often get their facts wrong, and miss the point that lots of people have really hot sex with their fetishes, and with lovers who share that fetish. No one’s necessarily “sick”, they’re just having more fun than most.

Take porn for instance. Typically many people see porn as where you can watch every twisted, bizarre fetish or activity you can imagine, when the truth is that if you take a look at porn, really look at what’s out there, you’ll see that the selection is really limited and fetish porn usually sucks (and not in a good way). Porn doesn’t even “get” fetish (actually I think most porn doesn’t even “get” sex, but that’s another matter entirely).

Smoking fetish is a good example; I never quite understood smoking fetish. I have a sex worker friend who has a smoker for a client: they meet, she smokes in her underwear and he watches and masturbates. He’s her favorite client — he’s polite, clean, and never pushes her boundaries, and pays her well. I rented a smoking video, and watched a series of very bored women smoke while wearing porn underwear and berating the viewer for being a “sick fuck”. (Hey, that’s me!)

But then I stumbled across the films of Andrew Blake; an erotic photographer who very clearly has a smoking fetish– or if he doesn’t, he’s got a very sensual, sexy appreciation for it. In his films I watched gorgeous European models smoke, blowing it into each others’ mouths, between their legs, through the crotch of nylons, and just plain sit around looking extremely sexy while smoking. Smoking fetish made more sense, but only because of this rare instance where a filmmaker made the fetish come alive — he didn’t stigmatize it like in the other video as something “wrong”. He got it, and so did I.

Hopefully this book will shine a sexier light on the world of sexual fetishes than has been done in the past; this book is written for the fetishist, for their lovers and for anyone who wants to make a fetish into a sex toy. Or, to maximize a fetish, figure out if you have a fetish, how to talk about it with a lover, “come out” about your fetish, or find community — or just hot porn. Not every single fetish is included here, and if your fetish is not represented (or given as much attention as you’d like), then I apologize, but know that there are plenty of fetish sex nuggets throughout these pages that can add a little something extra to your fetish pursuits. Enjoy.

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Bits and bobs

* Spent the day at SRL yesterday (and today) tarping machines before the rain hits this week; but first I was sent on a shopping errand (surprisingly) with one of my lifelong underground culture heroes, so I shot this video. I also started this SRL photo bin for random shots around the shop. The past 2 days have needfully been solitary and machine grease scented; feels good to be home with the machines and SRL family who make me smile.

* I was affectionately quoted in a Village Voice article about sex toys for boys, and my new book about sex toys for couples was cited! Read Lusty Lady: Boys’ Toys — Cock rings, butt plugs, finger massagers and other guy goodies.

* Thomas Roche wrote about billboards and my knockers in prose festooned with humorously groan-worthy references to my rack in the latest installment of Eros Guide’s News Briefs.

* The cover for my upcoming book has coyly, quietly appeared on Amazon.

* The Supreme Court thinks your right to sexual privacy is so 90s. Which means *now* it really is.

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The horrible secret of Soylent Internet

A non-sex moment of slightly under-the-radar hilarity: apparently Cicso is running a little contest where us internets-users can vote for Cisco’s next ad campaign slogan. They asked a select handful of famous tube-wranglers (like Om Malik, Mike Arrington, John Battelle, sweet David Pescovitz, etc.) for their soundbite definition of “the human network” to get a tagline quote to use on a banner, and maybe more promo stuff.

The also asked my adorably subversive friend Phillip Torrone (the new Charlton Heston of the interwebs), whose quote I feel is the clear winner (I voted for him here). That would be a rad Cisco ad! Read what he said, and wonder if Cisco even gets it.

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Erotic dementia praecox

I dyed my hair pink tonight; I’m digging it. I’m uploading video on a sunday night/monday morning and should really get some sleep; tonight is a strange post-weekend video housecleaning after seeing “my guy” with another girl on top of him, unexpectedly, hearing him say things to her I’d only heard him say to me. It hurt so bad it surprises me. He emailed today and told me not to blog about him. He told me a month ago he wanted to ‘see me’ but that he never wanted ‘to end up on my blog.’

I’m a curiosity. What I do, and represent is, too.

Now I know that someday I want a very certain type of love who is not just proud of me and my work, but also in touch with reality; who loves what I do as much as my obsession and passion for it and what it all might represent. Until then, work and fun. After that, work and fun and blogging and more machines — and whatever love is. It better be as good as writing, educating and the Running Machine.

My stomach hurts. Before I went to PME last weekend, my stomach hurt really bad and I was alone and just lay there on my bed texting friends when they sent me messages; I couldn’t get up to get water it hurt so bad. Hacker Boy insisted he come over; I acquiesced and he came and brought me Pellegrino and made me soup. Being a hacker, he was cat-like; they seem to all have this feline sensibility in common in this town. Lanky and long limbed, scary fucking smart and young, pale, black clothes — and if you pet them just right they *bite* you, or if you find the spot they like scratched they push you for more — but of you make them feel *too* good they either attack or turn away from you, though while not moving *too* far away.

He came over and — took care of me. He gave me whimsical security and privacy turorials and history of Vidailia lectures while I curled in a ball on my bed in pain from stress. I asked for more information and he crawled onto my bed (with permission), fully clothed, in his black. His body made a half-moon shape around mine. He fell asleep fast, having coded all day.

When I packed my belongings saturday afternoon in Ontario, fighting tears and being strong and all that bullshit we tell ourselves, I unconsciously performed a reflex — in garbage bags, I tossed everything fast and went in a routine circuit of my stuff, a mental checklist I hadn’t circumvented in years, not since I lived on the streets and had a few trash bags to my name for belongings. I mean, when I got home at 2am sunday after a harrowing solo drive, it was like unraveling the frayed knitwear of my life and hope for love and a whole weekend, all tossed hapahzardly asap into Trader Joe’s paper sacks like being kicked from the squats and abandoned cars I slept in during my teens in SF. Quick; escape the pain and get it all in a bag, hands shaking. Go. Now. Don’t let them see you hurt.

But the way my stomach hurt before I left, and now, I curl up — and strangely, with my Blackberry in hand on my bed I deny all pride and vanity and tell him, yes. Be here for me. It’s hard to ask for help. The Hacker Boy comes right over from the Haight, and lectures me on privacy, spoons me like a kitty in his black clothes and sleeps on top of my covers and blankets.

I found out he talks in his sleep. On top of my comforter, he whispers of packets and tor.

In his sleep, he tells me he loves me.

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PME wrapup + Vloggies

my badazz laptop

Anything I go to and write about here is always going to be seen through my glasses, whether they’re tinted by my cranky, happy, drunk, sad or excited experiences — and the Podcast and Portable Media Expo was no exception. Overall it was an eye-opener; I had no real reason to go, but I wanted to sort of see the state of things. Podcasting is way, way different than when I started out (for me as well as podcasting culture), and all the rapidly evolving information dissemination tools and culture coming out of it is fascinating.

If you want overview coverage, check out the Technorati Portbale Media Expo tag, and Steve Friess over at Wired wrote an informative piece from the expo about the Apple litigation that came down right before the convention started. As I mentioned in a previous post, Robert Scoble was there shooting video, but I don’t see anything of his from the weekend up yet (this is the page to watch for his video show updates). Let me just say outright that I think it’s a huge, glaring oversight for an audio/video new media expo to *not* have its own dedicated coverage. What gives?

Well, the wifi sucked, so maybe that’s part of why. But there were so many interesting people there and a signifigant number of companies who weren’t necessarily there to sell stuff but to just represent and share the crazy new things they’re doing with audio and video. The expo should have reflected all this forward thinking, and made their own media to show it off.

So far, the only video of a panel I’ve found is this video Sacredwhore shot of the Blip.tv videoblogging discussion (including Mike Hudack and Deena, Casey on Ms. Kitka’s Kitcast, me on Geek Entertainment TV).

Which is perfect for the point I’m making here. I know I joke about flirting with the Blip staff, but in reality I’m filled with fascination and awe at what they’re up to — Blip’s kind of media and information sharing is actively, shockingly forward-thinking, as I discovered in the panel. And a just bit thoughtfully subversive, too. I mean, I liked them already as a smooth videoblogging service par excellance, but whan I saw what they’re up to I was blown away. I already loved the kick-ass user interface, with Creative Commons options for each video, multiple media presentation formats seamlessly blended into the upload process, and cross-platform integration with things like Flickr. And my videos look ten million times better than YouTube, plus they have a great Google Safe Search style approach to explicit content (though note: no porn here — really).

But they’re free, free, free — and they want individuals to be successful and to build a videoblogging community. I chatted with them about this at length — they’re pushing to get media making into *everyone’s* hands and to blend it with traditional media to affect change. Why? Because everyone knows old media is broken. Example: Blip’s I-Report page on CNN, where anyone can upload video they think is breaking news (launched in August, then parodied on the Daily Show in Put Your Balls on Wolf Blitzers Head). Fun example: a Go Fug Yourself scented bad fashion photo upload page with Glamour.

And then the thing that really got me excited wasn’t a Blip feature or service, but a videoblog they’re especially proud to host and sponsor — Alive in Baghdad (actually featured in iTunes last June; see where this is going?) Here, “Through the work of a team of Americans and Iraqi correspondents on the ground, Alive in Baghdad shows the occupation through the voices of Iraqis. Alive in Baghdad brings testimonies from individual Iraqis, footage of daily life in Iraq, and short news segments from Iraq to you.”

This is the kind of stuff that really matters, and that’s what we can do now. It’s a shame that videoblogging wasn’t pushed at the PME like it should be (because it’s the *real* future of podcasting), but the value of I what walked away from the expo with is worth it. Granted, everyone was walking around saying that Vloggercon 2006 was the best convention they’d ever been to (!), so things like the PME have a lot to learn from all of us, its media makers. I’m more proud than ever to be actively involved in participatory media like GETV (and the multimedia integration I do with my own work), and incredibly honored/excited to be a judge in the upcoming Vloggies (submit a videoblog to the Vloggies here).

Now I need a real video camera! (Drool!)

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