It takes a village to raise a child

I’ve been silently fuming about something that happened last weekend, and have finally reached the apex of thought and consideration to put a post together. At the SRL party I finally got a chance to catch up with my pal Scott Beale since his trip to Seattle’s Gnomedex 6.0, where he shot lots of his trademark stunning photos of the event. We got to talking about Second Life, as we do, and he asked me if I knew what happened. I didn’t.

I never talk about kids and adult content policies, but here goes. Oh, and in case you forgot, this blog isn’t always a hugfest.

Updates: after the jump.


* * * * * * *

I was too busy finshing a book and working at SRL over the weekend to catch all the fur flying about Robert Scoble, Beth Goza and Second Life’s new participation in the trend of gaming/social networks becoming proactively prudish. If you’re not familiar with all the “web 2.0 brat pack” gossip, bear with me; there’s an issue here that directly relates to censorship and how adult content is perceived. I met Scoble at Vloggercon 2006 and he’d just announced that he was leaving Microsoft (big evil corporation) to work at Podtech (podcast network), which was like a totally big deal for everyone involved.

Scoble did a session at Gnomedex. While he did that, his 12-year-old son sat off to the side and made stuff in Second Life, which was projected up on a big screen behind the panel. Second Life is, above all else, an amazing development tool centered on building things within the interface; during the session his son built part of Scoble’s virtual office (in Second Life). And according to the Wired article Beth Goza (a Second Life employee) had watched Scoble’s son build things onscreen within the eighteen-and-up-only world and immediately told Scoble’s son afterward, “You’re toast”. Then, representing Linden Labs she sought out the father — Scoble — and told him he was going to be banned as a user for violating their mature content/membership age policy and for putting Second Life at risk.

According to Scoble’s blog,

“After the session was over Beth caught up to me and explained that my account was turned off and that my more than $100 I had invested in Second Life would not be refunded (my son and I had bought a variety of things in Second Life, including a virtual Macintosh, a house, and several other items).

We did get a podcast out of it, cause I turned the microphone on and interviewed a variety of people hanging out in the hall, along with Beth. She explained why the rules were the way they are. First, there’s the threat of a lawsuit (MySpace was sued for $30 million by a parent of a child who was alledgedly sexually assaulted by someone she met on MySpace).”

Read his whole post about the experience.

On one level I don’t care about Second Life’s messes because I don’t work there — but what really smelled bad to me about all of this was that after the conflict, Beth Goza approached Scott Beale and asked him to remove photos from his Flickr photostream related to the session. Surprised, he asked her if she was attempting to censor his photos. She specifically wanted him to remove this one:
http://flickr.com/photos/laughingsquid/178591591/in/set-72157594182613064/

I’ve known Scott for a long time. Scott takes pictures of people and events; he is also the nicest guy in the entire world. He doesn’t take pictures to “expose” or “out” anyone, and isn’t a sensationalist. So why would he be asked by Linden Labs to take that photo down, especially after the confrontation?

Let’s examine this: Second Life, adult content, MySpace hysteria, and Scoble’s transgression. As I’ve said on this blog numerous times and in interviews with media outlets, SL isn’t an “adult” or porn site; it’s an online game that encompasses all of human life and interaction — the people who make SL accept that humans are naturally going to sexualize *part* of their existence and give people the freedom to do so. And although members are allowed to freely express their sexuality (albeit by self-filtering community standards), the sexual parts of SL are small in relation to the whole rest of SL. It’s like — surprise! — when you have sexual freedom, you don’t become a sex “addict”, just as hot sauce fanatics don’t go from wasabi to sucking on glowing BBQ coals, and SL isn’t a teeming porn world — not by a long shot. In fact, if you don’t make things, it’s not terribly exciting. (I know I’ll get spanked for that.) But because there’s adult content to be possibly found in that world, SL rightfully has age restrictions.

Now, using MySpace as an arbiter of how you police your adult/mature terms of use (TOU) is a bad, bad, bad idea. Second Life is a million years from MySpace in every way. True, you can argue that ignorance and gold-digging lawsuits can make a mess of anything fun. For instance, a snip from a May 11 Fleshbot entry:

“MySpace hysteria reaches the federal level as a Pennsylvania congressman — displaying a stunning ignorance of how the internet actually works — introduces a bill to ban minors from from accessing social networking sites. Which will solve everything, because teenagers will never be able to crack the “enter your birth date here” defense. (abcnews.go.com)”

We really need to be talking about what’s prosecutable (and not) in the world of porn and minors before anyone starts making scenes about media-fueled sexual predator lawsuits, social networking/online games, and the law. Especially when publicly making an example of someone and their kid. I’ve done a lot of speaking, writing and advocacy around 2257 laws, which in concept are created to keep minors from seeing/participating in explicit adult content in photo or video (*not* animated or illustrated) form. But recent Bush administration changes to these laws have made perfomers vulnerable to stalking and identity theft, have made managing records according to the new confusing definitions of “explicit” impossible for many businsesses, and have put people out of business.

Not to mention being a huge blow to free speech. These laws also spun a few social networking sites into chaos, as it put the burden of proof on sites hosting images to have full legal documentation on file in a business open to public access. (Tribe.net handled it badly, and is now for sale.) 2257 does very little to protect minors. Same goes for COPA (the Child Online Protection Act). In Scoble’s post’s comments, COPA was cited as the arbiter of sheilding children from access to adult material. Again, things like COPA and 2257 are pushed through and implemented under the guise of “protecting the children” but seldom work and have a lot of other fucked up things they’re used for. For instance, COPA is what the DoJ uses to supoena search engines for user data; its constitutionality is highly questionable for a lot of reasons.

I’ll never say that age restriction rules should be broken, because I don’t believe that for a lot of super-obvious reasons. But I will say this: kids are not stupid. They know adults break the rules all the time — and even in the strictest of corporal punishment upbringings, every kid sees hypocrisy somewhere. And they learn from it. It’s up to us as role models to help them navigate the difference between, say, a government that breaks its own laws spying on citizens (and gets away with it), and why some rules are really helpful and can keep you from seeing something you might not be ready for. That not all rules are to be followed (in an emergency, breaking rules might save a life), and some rules might indeed save your life (like wearing seat belts).

It sucks that Second Life had to police its morality so publicly. I have to wonder what the assumption was here — the worst, that Scoble was flaunting his personality (nyah!) and that his son was going to go right offstage and jump into a Second Life hot-oil plushie orgy with his two favorite Suicide Girls and that the government was going to *get* everyone there (photographic evidence of the lawlessness!), and that all the bluenoses freaked out about MySpace were coming with torches and more cameras and lawsuits and Dr. Phil to get everyone?

Erm, no. Yes, I’ll agree that putting his kid onstage in Second Life (especially with excitable SL cops in the audience) was a not-good decision. He obviously felt safe at Gnomedex and wanted to show off his kid’s mad building skillz. But Scoble is a smart guy. He knows there’s mature content in SL; I’ll bet he also knows how to talk to his son about it since this wasn’t the first time he’d broken the rules. His son is a young man living in a world of adults. (And how I *wish* gurl.com and Scarleteen were around when I was his age.)

Second Life *absolutely* takes the utmost precautions in regard to age restrictions — they have a teen-only game, too. But what they don’t need to do (and shouldn’t) is make someone’s parenting decisions for them by punishing them as a public (and high-profile) example, and threaten to ban the adult as a user. Bringing the underage MySpace rape lawsuit into it doesn’t make sense, but it gets ink — of a certain kind.

So how *do* you deal with social miscreants like Scoble? He’s a big client who has gotten SL a lot of positive publicity, in many communities. And also, obviously, he wasn’t putting his kid in a position of sexual vulnerability (though I think blasting him off the service in public makes it *seem* like that’s what was going on). Answer: you talk to him. You say, “Hey — you’re putting me in an awkward position by showcasing your kid in the adults only area. I need to acknowledge that you did this, but let’s not make a big deal out of it. How should I proceed?” You see what he says. You tell him what you’re supposed to do about it. Then you talk to your CEO or company lawyer just to get some reinforcement about procedure and know that you made the right decision, and you settle it. You don’t make it seem like something *really bad* happened, because nothing bad happened. And because above all, this is a community — in and out of the game Second Life. *Our* community. We talk to each other.

There was parental consent here. And how else are kids going to learn about why adult stuff should be for adult eyes only? The government is really fucking up how kids navigate their way into adulthood (COPA, 2257, absitnence-only teaching in schools). Companies — especially ones that are communities as well — need to acknowledge this by balancing policy and practice, too.

Updates:

Here’s the podcast (thanks, anonymous); also here’s this:

Quote from Robert:

“Update: Beth Goza just called me and told me that I haven’t been
banned officially yet. She said Linden Labs still hasn’t decided what
to do with my account. She also asked me to explain why I was making
this an issue.

I told her: because I want to work in Second Life with my son and
right now that’s impossible because even if he were 13 I am not
allowed in the teen grid and he’s not allowed in my grid. And, if he
builds something cool, or I build something cool, we can’t share
items between the two worlds.”

Link.

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Best podcast ever

This afternoon I got my pirate radio fix in the Mission and recorded a live session of Open Source Sex, interviewing Shine Louise Houston, the mastermind behind Pink and White Productions. I think it was one of the best interviews yet — it was hot, sexy, hilarious and really really fun. We chatted about lesbian porn, her movies, and that crazy party I went to last Saturday where some of the performers from her next film got jiggy with the bread products. I found out that everything, *everything* was totally unexpected. It was just supposed to be a meet and greet! I’m going to get the MP3 in a day or so and do a little post-production magic on it, creating seperate video and audio versions, especially because I got the other set of photos back from the other camera I shot with. It was an expensive, profy camera of some sort that really makes me wish I could afford one. The photos came out incredible, and in them you can see just how much the women let me crawl around on the floor taking snaps in the second set (good thing I wore jeans that night!).

I went through the photos tonight and I’m going to wait to let them loose on you until the podcast. After that I’ll put the whole set up on Fotki, which will probably beg for mommy, come harder than its ever come in its life, then pass out from the bandwidth overload, just like last time. But I really like Fotki and think they handle mature content perfectly, so it’s a trade-off.

Of course, since I’m just sitting here tonight looking at sexy pictures and working on (yet another) book, I’ve posted a taste for you, after the jump.

But it was really a great day, thanks to the podcast and Shine. Makes up for the fact that today I picked up an SF Bay Guardian because my sweet friend Danny is on the cover and there’s a great article about the Marching Band in it, only to discover that I was dissed/snarked on in their sex column. Or rather, I was bitchily accused of being a flake. Whatever. I don’t deserve that. I work really hard.


Stars: Princess Donna and Lorelei Lee; Shawn and Jizz.

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La Dolce Sunday

bisang_gallery_3_04.jpg

Courtesy of Bruno Bisang, via my friends at Touche Sexy. Today, an article in the NYT about pro-anorexia online, not as thoughtful or informative as the one I asked Thomas Roche to write four years ago for the GV Magazine. Yesterday, pirate radio with Annalee Newitz (soon to be an episode of Open Source Sex; check out her sexy new blog).


Friday, a depressing conversation “off the record” with YouTube. Put a big “alleged” in front of my comments from an off the record conversation, but know that they consider anything not squeaky clean family fare a niche they shan’t bother with, and in the niche goes anything with nudity, the arts community and stuff for grownups (inlcuding, as I asked about, say, videos from Abu Ghriab). And yes, they’ll yank your membership if you repeat offend, and no, you don’t get your videos back. Don’t you just hate “community” services that have cool stuff and yet treat everyone like children? I suggested making “mature” areas for non-porn (but edgy not for kids) content retaining the ability to embed a player into a blog, and got the “niche” response. It’s nuts — my site is for adults, and that is *my* responsibility; I have an age check gateway to keep out people under 18. They could just make the content off limits to the wider YT community but still available for embed on outside sites who would then be responsible for the content being seen by adults. That way I could enjoy all the dumb Hollywood trailers I wanted in my YT favorites and blog embed those as virally as I wanted, but could also entertain myself as appropriate to my age, culture and interests. Too bad, like so many sex-negative entertainment venues, in their TOU they see all nudity as sex, and all sex as bad or a liability.

Kudos to iTunes for their grownup-friendly parental controls. I’ll still link to YouTube now and then, especially since I think their community flagging censorship approach makes for an amusing trainwreck (and one that’s rife with contradiction). I mean, why have Naked News on there, make people have to log in to prove they’re 18, but then indiscriminately yank other videos with nudity in them (like mine)? Doesn’t that parlay into believing that their own mature content filters don’t work? Anyway, I’ll be linking to them always with a caveat that the link is temporary and unreliable, and I’ll be trusting my non-explicit and artsy videos for grownups to another service. Who wants a world without something like the playfully erotic Naked News? Especially Naked News Daily Male, yum. Certainly not me. (And I’ll start experimenting with embedding my own video players while direct linking to content makers — why give YouTube thousands more hits when they don’t care about retaining users like me?)

Besides, their RSS is seriously fucking broken. Jonno and I were talking about doing more YouTube video links on Fleshbot, but with traffic like ours we can’t link to anything that’s unreliable. We’re still talking about it, though.

A more well-rounded video service? Right now, Blinkx.tv has my vote, especially since they include podcasts — they just need to simplify their interface.

Update: Tiny Nibbles reader Gabe tells me in an email with the subject “YouTube bores” that I might want to check out Daily Motion. Thanks, Gabe! I’m just happy to find a sensible service that doesn’t obfuscate its practices or change its mind about how and when it enforces its Terms of Use — blogging and my web presence is my livelihood, and I depend on having these services keep their promises to me. For instance, the YT rep (off the record) told me that they’re going after anything with nudity right now, but nowhere in their TOU are the words “nude” or “naked”.

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Don’t hurt the pussy

You know, it’s been a busy week. But I just found a pocket of mental relief (about to be followed up with a tasty alcoholic beverage). You see, last weekend I read that damn awful New York Times Magazine article about vaginal reconstruction surgery. And I had the usual reactions; sadness, at the shame driving patients to chop their pussies to fit porn ideals, anger at the cosmetic surgery industry making big bucks on re-virginalizing women, more sadness that the women don’t know that vaginal surgery fucks with orgasmic potential. But I already knew all this. And my personal perspective is not what I wanted to read reflected back at me, just a thoughtful exploration of the topic; and as with every piece they do on sex, there was *no news* in this NY Times article.

What rattled my cage was the writer — and dear mother Mary in a strap-on, the writer’s name is Daphne Merkin. No, that’s not it either: it’s the 1950s-mentality, sex-negative, self-hateful way the writer, as a woman, approached the material. She tells us she can hardly bear to look between her own legs, and that Brazilian waxes fall into the same category as this surgery trend. *And* she criticizes women who are not afraid to get out a mirror and a flashlight — and might like it. I now wonder, after last year’s dismally weak sex coverage, is sexual ignorance the hiring policy of their publication? It can’t be — they had Natalie Angier writing for them. Please bring back Natalie, for the sake of all of us reading your paper and crossing our legs in ghost pain, like when a guy sees another guy get kicked in the balls on TV. I thought, fuck, will I ever see mature articles about sex and sexuality in a major newspaper without the rotten stink of sexual shame, before I’m like 70 years old? Dammit, the topic is so very interesting; why ruin it with your own baggage?

Anyway, I just discovered on Mark Pritchard’s blog that I wasn’t the only one who walked away from this article with a sore spot. Mark’s awesome post lead me to, among other things, this nice piece of writing on Bats Left Throws Right:

“I really don’t care whether Daphne wants to look Down There or not. But the idea that women realizing their health had for too long been in the hands of ‘experts’ who were largely male and largely clueless and uncaring is not a quaint cultural icon of a bygone era. It’s those same experts who were telling women that the clitoris had nothing to do with orgasm. Better we spend every late night watching Girls Gone Wild ads than another generation be lied to by sexophobic guardians of decency. (…) It’s enough to note the etymology: Latin pudenda, used as the noun form of the neuter plural of pudendus, the gerundive of pudere, meaning to be ashamed.”

Thank you. A toast tonight to all journalists who *like* sex. And write about it. But not The Merk.

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Tribe and 2257

Tribe.net started implementing their version of adhering to 2257 laws, and the Smart Girls’ Porn Club, among other tribes, is affected. My permanent link to the discussion group of over 450 women about porn, may not be a valid link for much longer. Women in the club lamented Tribe having the “2257 brick thrown at them”, but I have a different story to tell. My Smart Girls’ Porn Club post is below:

This might get me kicked off Tribe, so I’ll reproduce the text on my blog 🙂

Tribe has not been hit with the 2257 brick. Tribe is *voluntarily* applying the 2257 laws to itself — its members, the tribes and the very architecture of Tribe itself.

Two weeks ago Tribe asked me for a phone meeting; I didn’t know what it was about but I figured it had something to do with Tribe’s mature content. They explained to me in a half-hour conference call that they were gearing up to change Tribe’s architecture (entry pages, etc) to conform to updated 2257 laws, which are record keeping requirements. The federal law now requires website owners to keep *physical* records documenting, among other things, that “a book, magazine, periodical, film, videotape, digitally- or computer-manipulated image, digital image, picture, or other matter that contains a visual depiction of an actual human being engaged in actual sexually explicit conduct” is over the age of 18. Visual depictions *after* 1990, mind you.

Link to text of law.

“Sexually explicit conduct” and “obscene” are the key words bandied about by means of definition of what falls into the law. Keeping records, according to this law, means that for each image the webmaster must have copies of the person in the images’ Social Security info and legal photo ID, and all names they have ever used in a physical location somewhere; a business that is open at least 20 hours a week.

When the Tribe guys told me what they were doing, I first lamented that I’d just finished wirting a great book about our porn club due out next year (full of awesome quotes from y’all). Then I asked just how they were going to try and define images depicting “sexually explicit conduct” and “obscenity”. I explained to them that the definitions in the law are shadowy and subjective at best, and here’s why:

Over at adult site Eros Zine, my friend (the editor) had to go through all of their images and try to define the difference between a photo that was sexually explicit vs. not. It made him insane; “Is her butt red from a sunburn or a spanking?! Is she holding her breasts in a sexually explicit way, or just posing!?” Then there’s the matter of images that fall into the freedom of speech category — 2257 would prohibit *everyone* in the US from seeing images such as the prison photos from Abu Ghraib. The law is so broad, it can include bloggers, publishers, television and Hollywood. A political or human rights tribe would be wiped off the Tribe map for failing to conform to the laws, by including an Abu prison photo in their photo album.

I then explained that they were putting themselves in the tricky position of defining obscenity — that by considering Tribe a porn producer and conforming it to 2257, the law would put them in that position. I explained to them how obscenity is defined in the American court system.

I told them that the state of the law in the United States about sexually explicit material revolves around keeping pornographers and adult retailers on their toes, never knowing for what, or when, they might be prosecuted for offending “community standards.” The law in the U.S. states that something is considered “obscene,” and therefore illegal to create or distribute, if a court *somewhere* says it is. You might hear people in and out of the adult industry say things like, “Showing urination is illegal,” or “Showing S/M with sex is illegal,” or “Portraying Bill O’Reilly as a journalist is illegal” (and if isn’t, it should be) — and all these cautious statements are incorrect. In fact, there’s only a single test, which is when a court in any of the 50 states decides that a particular thing (DVD, book, picture, fake journalist, whatever) is, by the “standards of the community,” obscene.

No one making porn knows if what they are doing is illegal or not. This situation, I explained, is reminiscent of organized crime tactics, and is not an oversight; the U.S. Supreme Court is quite aware that the only way that retailers and pornographers can really be sure they won’t be prosecuted for “obscene” material is for them to avoid portraying activities that might possibly be interpreted as obscene (and now, sexually explicit) — anywhere. In a court case for obscenity, the accused is held to whatever the local community’s standards are for obscenity, as determined by a jury.

Okay, I probably left out the part about Bill O’Reilly, but I was on my toes enough to rake them across the coals a bit to try and let them know what they were about to step into. They told me flat out that they felt that the definitions in 2257 in regards to sexually explicit conduct were absolutely clear — I even asked them to repeat the statement. I asked them to think about the fact that they were going to enter an arena of applying community standards to tribes all over the United States, and what is not obscene here in SF, like a picture of a leatherman in assless chaps, would most certainly be considered obscene to someone in a Kansas tribe.

Their reply to all this was that they were going to rely on users to “flag” images and tribes as obscene. And that they were going to rely on the architecture of Tribe to force people to join in order to even look at a URL. Of course, I was instantly upset about what this means — the links I have put on Fleshbot, and on my site to the Smart Girls’ Porn Club are essentially dead links that lead through a multiple page signup process requiring personal informaiton. No one, I told them, would click through that. Linking to Tribe would be pointless. We’d lose the women who are just curious and maybe a little nervous about porn and exploring their own sexuality — many of which are in this 450+ member tribe.

I thanked them for the courtesy call; it was clear that they had already decided all of this and the call to me was just to make nice. I told them to please call and talk to Jason Schultz over at the Electronic Freedom Foundation before making a move. I don’t know if they did; I have yet to talk to Jason. I got notices in my tribe mail about removing images as the moderator of mature tribes, the penalties and the changes to Tribe’s Terms of Use. I have done nothing. I am waiting to be penalized.

I think they are making a huge mistake, based on a law that is unenforcable. The law violates privacy — I was sent the 2257 information for the porn performers I featured in my last podcast. I now have enough information to steal the actual identity, and stalk, every performer in that film. They performers don’t even know I have that information, or who else might have it as a legal requirement, and nothing makes me more uncomfortable than having that information in my posession.

The law is meant for primary and secondary producers of porn, not online communities. The law violates our federal right to freedom of speech. The law is obstensibly created “to protect children from being exploited as [porn] performers”, not healthy adult enjoyment of human sexuality. In truth, 2257 laws are less about protecting children from porn exploitation, but instead about regulating porn businesses, free speech and healthy adult sexual expression into unfesability.

My boyfriend sent me a link this morning, “check out this dude’s Tribe profile!” I clicked the link and went to a signup page, with no login. I signed in, and tried to go to the URL, and went to the same signup page. I can’t get to the link. And what will happen to our RSS feeds!? This tribe is now frozen in Tribe time.

Update: video interview on Geek Entertainment Television: Violet Blue tells us what 2257 means to Tribe.net (post + link to video)

Update: a dear friend (who has a big famous site and wants to remain anonymous) writes me:

“Very powerful post you put up this morning (yesterday?) about Tribe eating itself. I’ve never been to their sites except once following your links to the porn club; now I clearly never will. They have just commited suicide in response to vague-but-real dangers, like a man jumping off an urban bridge because he hears approaching sirens.

A suggestion, though, if I might — please don’t confuse obscenity with “sexually explicit behavior.” I doubt you have, but your post could lead to confusion on that point — whether something is obscene has zero impact on whether 2257 applies to it, nor is 2257 content rescued by redeeming social value or a context of supportive community standards. That’s exactly why the Abu Graib torture photos are in no danger of being deemed obscene, but could still be prosecuted under 2257.”

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Practical Bestiality

I’m still catching up. Last Sunday I had the sheer pleasure of speaking at San Francisco Sex Information, the local (though national) sex hotline. They are one of the most needed and fantastic resources in the world — you can call or email them with literally *any* question about sex imaginable, and they have a staff of thoroughly trained sex educators to answer your queries. It’s totally anonymous and if they can’t answer you (which is rare, I assure you) they refer you to where you can find your answer. They should be a national treasure, and I think they are truly on the front lines of sex ed. So I got to talk to their students and feel like a sex ed badass. Or maybe that’s just "ass."

The interesting part was the panel of speakers I was on and the topic at hand: fetishes. I talked about fetish dressing (no, it doesn’t go on your salad), and the other panelists spoke about extreme pony fetish, furry (plushy) fetish, bodily fluids and sex (piss, shit, blood, and yes, vomit and a sentence or two on snot), bestiality, infantilism and necrophilia. Unlike any other forum, book or video, the discussion was about the attraction to these forms of sex, the practicalities involved and things to keep in mind when talking to callers about the subjects — no judgments involved, no psychoanalyzing, no ghettoizing.

It was fascinating to learn the practicalities of necrophilia, for instance; one should avoid cadavers deemed for medical use because of the high amounts of formaldehyde — ouchy on the genitals. And male cadavers do not get boners after death unless they died having sex, though formaldehyde can make penis skin firm feeling. Also, you cannot catch feline HIV from having sex with a cat (!). In fact, there are few things you can catch from sex with animals, save a jail sentence.

I could tell you more, but PayPal yanked my account today, so I’m feeling sheepish (no pun!). Apparently I’m in violation of their "Mature Use" guidelines, though I think they’re the ones acting immaturely. They’re retarded if they can’t tell a sex ed site from a hardcore porn site. I just hope they’re not closing my personal account for eBay use, because that wouldn’t be fair.

I was the most boring one on the panel, I think. I was there to speak as a fetish dress practitioner, a fetish model and someone who gets turned on by dressing in fetish clothes. I described my first experience trying on a corset. I bought it in a used clothing store in Upper Haight ten years ago — that I put it on when my boyfriend wasn’t around (he thought fetish stuff was for posers). And when I put it on I had a direct, immediate physiological reaction; I became aroused like a light switch had been flipped. And no, I had no experiences with corsets or binding as a kid, grandma never made me wear a corset while she spanked me, or any of that cliché BS. I have no explanation for it; it just is. It just worked for me. Now, it turns me on to wear rubber dresses and high heels — the outfit becomes a hyperextension of my feminized sexuality, sending a direct message to viewers, making my curves more obvious and jiggly, and the heels make my legs long, butt curvy, and the height gives me a feeling of erotic power.

That’s what I talked about, and it felt unusual because it was so personal. Anyway, it was a great class, I learned a lot, and afterward I got to entertain everyone with my LA trip descriptions, flapping my arms for emphasis and making faces of disbelief. I bet it would’ve been funny to watch me tell my story with no sound. It was nice to relate my experience to other sex educators, it felt good to hear their comments like, "was there, perhaps, a guy riding though the house on a unicycle, juggling?" The episode airs in September on Playboy TV, and it’s going to be awesome.

I really do have some awesome pictures from Wired’s Nextfest to post, but I’m too swamped to wrangle the 100 or so photos I shot — I will. I’ve been finishing the final edits on my next book The Ultimate Guide to Sexual Fantasies (due in a few days, release end of July), which has the world’s best cover. Okay, I got to pick the cover photo, so I really like it — but it rules over the covers of my other sex guides, whose covers I don’t really like. But they weren’t up to me, so what can you do? I am thrilled with the new book — it’s everything I want in a how-to book on sexual fantasy. I’m not going to go into the details yet, but it’s really a practical guide to making sexual fantasies come true, every fantasy you can imagine, all the ones in Sweet Life, etc., and I’m pretty proud. After having writer’s block for two days I finally wrote the introduction last night, and now can move on to the other books on my plate… The wonderful hour-long conversation I had yesterday with Tony Comstock surely helped, as did his offer to send me a nice bottle of Scotch — now *that’s* the light at the end of the tunnel.

In fact, it’ll be the perfect reward; I don’t drink or party when I’m on deadline, and I’m especially not drinking because I’m doing some fetish modeling this weekend. I’ve been dying to do some modeling, and my pal Thomas Roche has entered into a new phase as an erotic pin-up photographer. And his photos are stunning — check them out. It’s not a paying gig, but will get my ya-ya’s out, and I’ll be styled by a really cute and sassy gal-pal of mine who teaches at SFSI.

I can’t wait for this week to be over. My problems never went away at work, they got worse, and now I’m being CC’d on emails as a way of communicating with me — it’s an awful feeling. Maybe it’s time to find another sex ed magazine to edit — or here’s a new concept; maybe I could work less? I don’t know if it’s physically possible, my brain might explode. I might miss something fun, or have to stop writing and reading and thinking about sex. Gasp!

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Manginas and Shenises

Whew. I have barely had a moment to sleep, let alone write entries, and that’s tough when I have entries piling up in my brain like the piles of my panties next to my closet that need to be washed.

The art show last Tuesday was great, though I worked a 13-hour day to make it happen. The Valencia store was packed until 10:30 pm, and many beer-drinking revelers listened to Extra Action music, watched their videos, and had dueling matches with sex toys. The band’s favorite sex toy by far was the Audi-Oh, the sound-controlled vibe, and they wanted to be official promoters of the toy, or maybe sponsored by the makers or something. That’s kind of perfect — skaters are sponsored by skate companies, snowboarders by snowboard companies, the Extra Action Marching Band sponsored by a sex toy company. Oh wait, that’s what my company is doing.

I went to a terrific party last weekend where I had an actual drunken exercise in anger management. Every year we have an unofficial SRL party in Oakland at the warehouse/shop belonging to two of our members, a female and male blacksmithing duo (who are not a couple). It’s not really an "SRL party," but lots of us attend and do what we do at parties, which is drink a lot and play with fire. Fireworks that is. This year there was a theme, a high school theme, which was really a transparent excuse for us all to dress like schoolgirls, teachers, school nurses, principals, janitors, cheerleaders, jocks and nerds. We all had to get "shots" (jello) and build homemade rockets, which were lit off and went in every imaginable direction. My thumb is still numb from getting it too close to a fuse. I dressed as a cheerleader with a really rotten attitude. I got to pester the very sexy nurse with questions like, "Can you get pregnant if you blow the football team?" I faked SARS to get more shots.

My attitude came to the fore when I went to pee in the unisex bathroom (for the second time that day). I was in there alone, did my business and was standing at the mirror fixing my lipstick when these two older guys walked in. They saw me and shouted, "whoah," and went out, slamming the door shut. They started talking about me outside the door and I could hear every word they were saying. They remarked about me being there, how they just can’t "do it" with a girl right there, because "it’s not like they’re handing out Viagra at the door or anything." I felt my anger rising — what the fuck does that mean, anyway? I mean, duh, what fucking dinosaurs with 1950’s mentalities still only see women as nonhuman sex objects? Who invited them? Clearly all the irony of the party was lost on them. So I slowed down my lipstick fixing and pretty soon they started pounding on the door. I told them to come in, that they were waiting for nothing, there was no line. That they could pee with me in there unless they had some kind of a problem. They came in and one rushed into a stall while the other stood in front of the urinal staring at the wall. I said, "I heard what you guys were saying out there, heard what you said about needing Viagra." Urinal guy said, "What!?" "I said, I heard you talking out there about needing Viagra. It’s not like when you come in to pee in here anyone’s going to be looking at your dick or anything." He said what again, so I repeated myself and left. Then I realized I had just berated a scared man with his dick in his hand while I was wearing a cheerleader outfit, pom-poms, pigtails and all. Next time I hope those guys barge in while I’m in a cheerleader outfit standing peeing at the urinal with my pee shooter. Then I can punch them both in the eye and run around them in tight little circles with my pom-poms shrieking "someone get the Viagra, these guys have to pee!"

I took my pee shooter to work at the Good Vibes store so that all could marvel at the wonders of urinary technology. It was clean and in plastic so no one would get hyper about germs. There was much excitement and exchanging of knowing looks, and someone asked me if I had bought a "shenis." What a gross name, I thought, then I said, "What a gross name. What’s a shenis?" Mother Mary in a sparkly rubber thong — they showed me. Then they made me look at a mangina. Then I found out that all the floor staff surveys had been turned in (see entry from 5/22), and I did not win the stupid prize for the stupid survey, and that someone else did, and I wanted to find the goody-two-shoes who won the prize and give them a wedgie while they wore latex panties.

There is a very underground group of boys and girls my age here in SF that have a very underground sex club. They have a secret mailing list that is absolutely hard as hell to get on, and their sex parties happen sporadically every few months at undisclosed locations and you can never find out where they are until you actually end up there (nor are they free). It’s pretty cool when you think about it, and it’s a nice way of keeping out gawkers and guys who are freaked out about peeing in front of women, and also creating a safe atmosphere. I called in a favor about a year ago to get on the list, and I’ve been on the list for some time but have never gone to a party, sort of being a virtual email list voyeur. From reading posts on the list I know that they’ve been making porn for a while at their parties, then showing the footage at the next party as loops. This is all done in the spirit of sexual adventure, affectionate pleasure seeking, equality and respect. I know this from reading everyone’s intelligent, mature, thoughtful and heartfelt posts on the list. It has made me feel really good about people seeking higher, smarter and more fun ways to express themselves sexually, which I really needed to be reminded of while I was researching my next book about the porn industry. Because sometimes during my research over the past year I saw things that made me upset, made me question my ability to honestly tell people that porn was a place where people with a brain and integrity could explore their sexuality, or at least feel good about jacking off to it. I got in a discussion that went sour with a close colleague in which I realized that she still sees women (especially women in porn) as sexual victims, not as wholly sexually autonomous people, and I realized that the minute everyone stops seeing women that way (and treating them that way), women will stop believing it. I went to porn conventions where I saw that the "mainstream" porn industry was suffocatingly conservative and homophobic, racist and sexist. I saw men and women at their worst, at the heart of which they all relied on the notion that sex is bad and shameful. That men are sexually simplistic. That women are sexual marionettes. C’mon people, what are we, ten years old? I had the hard hard job of seeing all this, clashing with my peers, and still telling people from my heart that porn is a fucking fantastic sex toy, which I actually believe because I still love to use it, and enjoy watching it. When it’s good, that is.

I saw some really hot porn tonight. I finally decided that I had to see why I’m still on this super-secret mailing list, so I went to a screening of scenes from several of their parties. And I have to say, I was astounded at the high quality, superior camerawork and incredible sex I saw onscreen. You could say it surpassed my expectations, which it did by far. I thought it would be spycam kind of stuff, and though one or two scenes were obviously in a room with other people around, it was excellently edited, storyboarded, had music that fit the mood perfectly and the people were laughing, playing, kissing, smiling, loving each other like nothing I’ve ever seen. It put all other amateur porn to shame, especially the porn made by my own company, which I think sucks by the way. The atmosphere of the screening was casual, lots of people, but they were all friendly and relaxed. I left early to come home and work, and when I left I noticed that I was walking through several of the people I had seen onscreen, who smiled politely at me as I thought "wow, I just saw you do that to him, and they did that to you, and…" I left with a smile on my face that brought me all the way home, one happy rotten cheerleader for porn.

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