Seventeenth Post: Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain

Today Purple Prose: Bisexuality in Britain is published. 

I contributed a couple of passages to this book and attended the fundraising party last year to read these out loud. 

I backed the crowdfunding campaign and received my advance copy which I have loved browsing through. To read a collection of experiences and observations from bisexuals in the UK is really important. Within the book there is an amazing range of perspectives and I recommend this to anyone interested in learning about bisexuality or exploring their own sexuality.

Check out an early review from The Book Bag for more details.
It was great to be part of this project and to meet Katy Harrad, the editor, who has worked incredibly hard to bring this representation of British bisexuality to print. I also met some of the contributors, the chapter editors and Eve Rickert and Franklin Veaux, who own publishing company Thortree Press.

Their collection of published work is fabulous and I’ve had the pleasure of unexpectedly reading Frankin’s own book, The Game Changer.

Please check out Purple Prose (print and kindle versions are available) on Amazon or via publisher Thorntree Press’ website.

Sixteenth Post – Do You Find My Feet Suckable?

  Erika Lust makes erotic films. I am a huge fan of her work, her ethics and the way she is bringing beautiful, sex positive films to the public. 

The inclusion of her work at last years Raindance Film festival in London and such high demand for her work in Berlin that a second screening was organised signalled a positive step in how we not only consume pornography but how we acknowledge it as a healthy, commonplace sexual expression.

Last month Erika, and her company Lust Films suffered a set back in this development.

YouTube have removed a safe for work edit of Erika’s film Do You Find My Feet Suckable? and a subsequent response video by Erika from their website on the grounds that the nudity and sexual content is in violation of their guidelines.

Erika’s response video is full of nudity and sexual content – all taken from music videos and sexually explicit films still showing on YouTube. There were too many bums for me to process on a Thursday morning. Too many silicone breasts stuffed into tight tops to feel comfortable before coffee.

Do You Find My Feet Suckable? has no nudity whatsoever. There is some male torso action and a couple of lovely long legs but thats it. That is it.

The premise of the film is a male fantasy of approaching a woman in a library for her to ask him the eponymous question and then invite him to worship her feet when he answers in the affirmative.

The erotic film, which I have seen the SFW version and a cinematic cut (at Raindance) and loved both, uses subtle sexual tension and a strong, relatable narrative. It has been adjusted to remove the explicit content but the overall effect remains the same. It is incredibly sexy, sex positive and beautifully made.

Check out the edit, available on Vimeo here and the response video here and decide for yourselves. As yet, YouTube have yet to answer to any of Erika’s responses. 

Show your support for this unreasonable censorship of filmmaking by sharing as much as you can, publicly or privately with friends.

Follow Erika on Twitter @ErikaLust 

Fifteenth Post – XConfessions in Berlin

Erotic filmmaker Erika Lust is showing a director’s cut of XConfessions tonight in Berlin. 

The event is hosted by the Berlin Film Society. The XConfessions series is inspired by online confessions posted by visitors to her website. This is the first time an event addressing explicit erotic films that explore the narrative of sex as cinematic creations has been held by the society. 

   

I was able to see XConfessions at London’s Raindance Film Festival in September. Watching a director’s cut of pornography in a public cinema space felt exciting and strange – we are so used to keeping our sex lives locked away in our bedrooms, confined to a computer (or smart phone) screen. 

Sharing this moment with strangers felt new and dangerous. An act of sexual expression which had nothing to do with any of us getting naked. A declaration that we watch pornography – it was significant that on the night I went, the majority of the audience were female. 
Despite a lot of questions I still get for being a woman interested in writing about pornography, it just shows women do watch porn!

Lust’s work looked incredible on the big screen – a testament to her artistic filmmaking as well as her bold approach to depicting female sexual agency and pleasure.
Due to high demand for the screening, which has now sold out, the Berlin Film Society is hosting an encore screening of XConfessions on Friday 12th February (Babylon Kino, 9:45pm). If you are in Berlin, go and experience this for yourself. Details here.

If you’re not in Berlin go to xconfessions.com to see the full online versions of Lust’s work, featuring incredible performers and created by a nearly all female production team.

For more information on Erika Lust’s work in feminist pornography check out my recently published article in the International Business Times.

Fourteenth Post – Written in The International Business Times

Last month I wrote an article for The International Business Times featuring erotic filmmakers Erika Lust and Vex Ashley. 

The article was published at a time when Bollywood actress and former porn star Sunny Leone was praised in social media for her grace under the pressure of a sex-shaming interviewer. A positive moment for women in the porn industry but highlights how far we have yet to go.

Read the full article here.

Thirteenth Post – Coincidences

I’ve just finished The Game Changer: A Memoir of Disruptive Love by Franklin Veaux. 

The Game Changer

I will be writing another post once I’ve processed how much this book has influenced me to take stock of my experiences of polyamory in the future – but I wanted to express my amazement at a coincidence I did not realise until the penultimate page. 

Franklin mentions publishing a book with one of his partners Eve Rickert in the epilogue of The Game Changer – this rang a bell. 

I had previously met Eve at the launch event for Purple Prose, a book on bisexuality I have contributed to. Eve’s company, Thorntree Press, is publishing Purple Prose next year. 

After recognising Eve’s name I then flicked to the back pages to investigate further. It turns out Thorntree published this book and there is an announcement about Purple Prose in the final pages. 

A mention for Purple Prose

I didn’t realise I had met the author Franklin, briefly, at the Purple Prose launch. I didn’t make the connection until the end of this fantastic book. He and Eve run Thorntree together and I have therefore indirectly worked with them. The world is small, in the nicest way.

This is such a lovely coincidence. I received this book from a friend as a Christmas present. She works in a second hand book shop and often sends me care packages of erotica and kinky/poly writing as she is unable to sell “naughty things” in the shop. 

She was even present at the Purple Prose book launch and didn’t realise the significance of gifting me this book either. 

I really enjoyed reading Franklin’s story; it was like being confronted by some neuroses and struggles I’ve had about polyamory in the past, which was unsettling, but it gave me the inspiration to start thinking constructively about my self worth and how I can negotiate my needs in open relationships. 

Twelfth Post – Happy Birthday Porn Protest!

A year ago we assembled at Old Palace Yard in Westminster to protest against the changes in the law banning certain sexual acts 

The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 which bans sex involving using bondage and/or gags, fisting, facesitting, urination, female ejaculation and spanking or caning beyond moderation was brought into effect on 1st December 2014 – without any public consultation. 

On 12th December 2014 we gathered together to show our frustrations, to meet other like minded people and to whip up a media frenzy to raise awareness of the suppression of sexual and creative freedoms within independent pornography. I covered the event in my blog last year.

In the following months I interviewed Courtney Trouble and Jiz Lee for a small series of posts on the changes in legislation called Criminal Behaviours and wrote a guest blog on consent for a Girl on the Net. It formed a huge part of my writing in the past year, and when I got the email from Charlotte Rose announcing a second protest I cleared my Saturday afternoon and dug out my warmest jumper for more activism in the cold.

Exactly one year on, we gathered back together in the same place to show our solidarity and defiance against the threat to our sexual freedom.

Charlotte Rose, organiser of both Porn Protest 2014 and 2015, is keen to raise as much public awareness as possible on the changing laws.

“If we stop fighting, the next generation will have nothing left to protect,” she explains.

“The excuse of ‘protect the children’ is the only reasoning that the government claim, yet all children that want further information about sex are being denied this education in school.”

The Internet provides a resource to learn about anything you could think of, but when it becomes the only method to learn about sex this warps our understanding of a fundamental human impulse. Both young people and adults stand to suffer if we remain silent about sex and let erotic entertainment perpetuate misconceptions about sexual expression. 
 Charlotte Rose adds “the attack on consensual activities is growing. If we don’t do something now we will be put into sexual oppression and no government has the right to take your personal liberties away!”
There were speeches from key players in the fight against the legislation at the protest, such as Jerry Barnett from Sex and Censorship, Jane Fae of Backlash and obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman. We also heard from representatives from the NHS, a plethora of sex workers and a women’s sexuality group which had not existed this time last year. It was inspiring and galvanising to witness speeches from these men and women.

Pandora Blake, who was present at last year’s protest, is an erotic artist, producing, directing and performing in films featuring spanking – illegal since December 2014. She has been a visible public advocate of sexual expression since, had sent a message from her holiday to be read out at the protest.
Pandora’s website, Dreams of Spanking, was shut down in August 2015. We spoke before the protest about her experiences in the past year. 

“When the regulations came in I wasn’t sure how they would play out in practice. Sometimes vaguely worded or ill-thought out laws are brought in, but not actively enforced. However, the enforcement was far swifter, and more heavy handed, than I expected.”

During the several months of investigation, with the support from Backlash and Myles Jackman, Pandora fougaht the actions every step of the way. The final decision was given in August and the website was taken offline. Pandora remembers being informed of the investigation swiftly after appearing on a panel on pornography for BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour. 

“It seems likely that my public criticism of the new regulations brought me to ATVOD’s attention,” she concludes.

“Many of my fellow pornographers who distribute similar work depicting spanking that leaves lasting marks have not yet been contacted, so it’s hard not to see it as political censorship.”

This targeting reflects a growing concern that it isn’t about the content, but how we publicly express our rights to sexual freedom. Pornography is only the first step on a much more sinister journey to suppress freedom of speech. Encouraging people to speak out against restrictions on UK pornography is problematic in that barely anybody will admit they consume any kind of erotic media. 

It is important to keep having these conversations, with as many people you feel comfortable with, to make as many people as possible aware of how online expression is being affected. We cannot leave it to porn producers and sex workers to fight for our rights as consumers of online media. This has the potential to affect everybody, and you know you will miss it if (/when) it goes.

Follow Charlotte Rose on Twitter, check out Sex and Censorship and Backlash‘s websites and join the conversation.

Eleventh Post: Queer Experiments at Wotever World

  Last night was the best Monday night I’ve had in a long time. 

I did my reading for Purple Prose at Wotever’s queer literature night at The Hackney Attic.

I realised when I got there, I’d been before about a year ago to see a collection of queer films. It’s a really intimate, welcoming space. I met the other speakers, who were lovely, friendly and fascinating people.

My reading gave me another opportunity to plug our book, so I’m getting pretty good at it now:

Check out our Indiegogo campaign to offer support and receive some exciting rewards, follow our editor Katy Harrad on Twitter, log onto purpleprose.co.uk for updates on the project and check out our publishers Thorntree Press.

Phew, that’s enough self-promotion for a Tuesday morning. I’m going for a coffee.