Wow, a lot has happened!
Which is pretty much always the case with me, so let me try to catch you up. The Naked Girls Reading? Much fun. I wish I had an audiotape of it, because no description of mine can do it justice. Except to remark that it was great to meet a lot of new people - and that I loved hanging out with Tamara the Trapeze Lady and Jo Weldon. Tamara and I have known each other for years, we danced together at the Lusty Lady back in the day. Jo Weldon and I have not spent a ton of time with each other (although with Jo, it's always quality time), but we have such a seamless consciousness-of-kind that she can just about finish my sentences, which is almost spooky.
You see, I consider women like them my professional peers, although they both have different career paths than me. Both of them were sexual outlaws who decided what they wanted, saw that it didn't exist, went out and worked really damned hard, and created it. I love being around people like that.
And aside from just respecting their accomplishments, it is immensely cool to be around other women who have also lived lives that are much less-ordinary, and who are perfectly at ease about that. After the reading, Jo Weldon addressed a question from an audience member about class structures and hierarchies in sex work by remarking matter-of-factly, “Going from taking off your clothes in front of a roomful of people to pissing on people for money? That’s a lateral move.” If I hadn’t been on the other side of the stage, I would have kissed her.
The whole event was great, the producers are wonderful, and I’m super-pleased to have been asked. Perhaps I’ll be asked back again sometime. But whether I’m there or not, you should definitely go, so here's a link to the calendar.
What did I read at the NGR? The theme of this was: "Evolution As Sex Workers", so I went through my stacks and found the books I read when I was just starting out in the industry. One was a sex worker memoir I got a hold of when I was a teenager, called “Working”. The author’s name is Dolores French, and it’s a great book. French writes with both candor and compassion about her lengthy career as an escort. I read a bit about how French got started finding and screening clients her client, via snail mail, in the seventies.
And I read two selections by Patrick* Califia. I knew from the start that I would read something by Califia, because when I was very young, and very sexually different, and utterly clueless about how I was going to construct the life I instinctively knew I wanted to live, Califia’s writing, both the essays and fiction, had a huge effect on me. It was from her/his writing that I learned how to be a sexual outlaw with dignity, honor, integrity and kindness. "Melting Point" is one of the books I read from at NGR. The story is entitled What Girls Are Made Of, and it's about three peep-show dancers who hijack a bratty butch-dyke for certain nefarious purposes.
My other selection was from an essay that is the preface to Califia's short story collection, "Macho Sluts". Califia’s essays are about the sexual-minority politics of the late 80’s and 90’s – which means now they seem like Ancient History. But it’s very useful to understand where the kinky/queer/gender-queer/whatever community has come from. I see the ghosts from these bloody battles over gender and sexual behavior hanging around even now. I have a fantasy about teaching a class entitled “The History Of Sexual Minority Community Politics, or, How To Not Spend Countless Hours Bickering Over The Same Old Bullshit”, because I see some of the newer activists getting caught up in some of the same old arguments that I heard when I was a little baby sex radical.
So, while some of the specific incidents and publications Pat refers to are long-gone, the way s/he analyzes and critiques the various debates are quite useful. If this interests you, I’d start with a book called "Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex."
Whew! I think that's enough for one day. More about nakedness tomorrow...
*At the time of publication, Patrick was Pat, and identifying as female. Since then, Patrick has gender-transitioned from female to male, so the same author has different writings published under both names. I have not yet figured out a way to express this that isn't terribly unwieldy.