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SMUT STAND REPORT: September 5, 2015 (Montreal, QC)

I don't look quite this put together on the Smut Stand...

I don't look quite this put together on the Smut Stand, not when it's approaching 30 degrees Celsius out there...

 

WHEN: 4.5 hours (4-8:30pm), September 5, 2015. WHERE: Prince Arthur Street near St-Laurent, Montreal. OUTPUT: three full-length pieces, including a lovely nipple-torment scene out in the woods; a rain-dampened back-alley, no, not blow-job, but pegging; and a tender blow-job session for a woman who loves to swallow.

The day before this I had tried out a new-to-me spot—on St-Denis, where the neighborhood had set up a blocks-long public terrasse for the summer—and it was a complete sizzling dud. The people passing had places to be, and there were a lot of families and ALSO mostly they were Francophones, which is the particular challenge of this city. I got a few people stopping and inquiring and taking business cards, but when I'm not at a festival or otherwise promoting my shows, general visibility takes the back seat to making money.

SO, yesterday I decided to go back to my old tried-and-true, the pedestrian street of Prince Arthur, across from the slightly seedy bar/terrasse whose name I can't remember because it's been worn away from the awning, that's the kind of seedy that I'm talking about. There's not a heavy flow of foot traffic, but the sight lines are fantastic and the fact that no cars are allowed means that the typewriter noise carries well.

But OH MY GOD COPS, SO MANY COPS. When I arrived, there were already two police cars parked facing St-Laurent. I rapidly reviewed my history with Montreal police—they are generally curious/bemused, and have never closed my stand—and decided to just, you know, set up like there were no cop cars there. But all the while, in my peripheral vision and attention, I was keeping an eye on them. That spot seemed to be a traffic trap, for drivers running the red light at that intersection. One car would take off with lights flashing, and then within 5 minutes another car would roll around the corner and take its place. At one point there were two cop cars and an unmarked police van there, and I was just, FUCK FUCK FUCK, any minute. But though they walked by me several times, I kept my outward cool, and eventually they all left. My intersectional experience of cops while being a busker and a sex worker (of sorts) and a woman and white is specific and weird.

Business was oh so slow for the first hour and a half, but I was getting a few inquiries, people who didn't just gawk but came up and asked for the pitch, so I elected to stay. The first customers were a young couple on bikes who had pedaled past and then did that thing 20 feet on, where they slowed to a wobbly stop, conferred, and then walked their bikes right back to the Smut Stand. (This is a safer option than the other common response, sudden braking.) They were super fun to talk with, as was the next customer, a young man whose green eyes stunningly matched his t-shirt. (I forgot how fucking gorgeous people can be in Montreal.) This guy was super upfront about all manner of things, and gave enough detail to make the smut—which was to be a gift to one of his lovers—really sing, WITHOUT dictating, which I hate. I didn't get to deliver that to him in person, as he was in a meeting; a young woman, who I think was the person who was supposed to be receiving the smut, came to pick it up. I warned her that she was NOT to look at the smut, and sent her on her way.

Right around when I was doing this guy's interview, I got a special surprise visit from Allison Von Der Lande, my guitar-playing busker friend who I often see down in New Orleans in October. Allison had taken my earlier half-joking FB plea seriously ("please stop by and bring a latté or friends who would like some smut"), and brought a couple of friends (who ended up not getting smut, but still very nice) AND bought me a latté. We had to catch up quickly, because that's when the customer rolled up, but spoke long enough to establish that we were in fact going to cross paths in New Orleans and that UK Muse was every marvelous thing ever.

My last client of the day was a single MILFy woman, slender and tall with an amazing rack, dressed in a style I would call "dressy biker babe", and she walked in her heels like she had never worn any other footwear in her life. When she found out what I did, she plopped right down on the pavement next to me and said, "Let's do it." She was absolutely forthcoming with me, talking about her several lovers and occasional exhibitionism, but when we got to the bit about a pleasant sexual discovery, she kind of hrrrrmed and lowered her voice and got a little fidgety. "The thing is, I really like pleasing my lovers, making them feel good, you know, stroking their egos," she said. "Like, one of my guys, I squirted with him for the first time recently. I totally squirt with other men, but hadn't with him yet. So… I let him think that was the first time, and he loved it. I like different things with my different lovers, with him that was new and fun." The way she talked about pleasing them, and the fact that I couldn't actually get any answers from her about what she personally liked made me feel a little queasy, I'll be honest. But something to think about, isn't it? If that is what gets someone off, being that much in service to someone else's needs, then so be it. You can't argue with a turn-on. But I do hope she thinks a little more, after our conversation, about what she likes. Because I really feel there ought to be something.

All through the shift I enjoyed occasional manifestations of what it might be like to become a cult phenomenon. I mean, that's not my GOAL—I would like to make it big in my own particular way—but there's no denying that there is starting to be some kind of low-level collective awareness of the Smut Stand and, I guess, of me:

  • Five people recognized me from shows: "Weren't you in the Fringe?"
  • Two people recognized me from Smut Slam, and asked when the next one would be.
  • One person recognized me from the description of Smut Slam that she had gotten a couple of weeks ago from a friend, and asked when the next one would be.
  • One girl with bright blue hair walked by and said, "WUT I SAW YOU IN LONDON." Brick Lane? "YES, WUT THE HELL."

And one customer from last year walked by just as I was closing the deal with my first customers of the day and said, "Do it. It's the best present you can get for yourself with $20." He stopped by again later and said he would be coming around today with his girlfriend for another piece. REPEAT CUSTOMERS, AWWW YEAHHHH.

OH! And I got a religious guy stopping by! He looked like an ordinary hipster grad student, but the red flags started going up almost immediately. "Wow," he said, after I gave him the pitch. "But, don't you feel that it might be better to turn that energy to something more meaningful?" What do you mean, turn that energy? "Well, you seem like a very intelligent woman..."—at that point I was definitely starting to give him some side-eye—"it just seems like you could put those talents into other projects." I do other projects, I said, and reeled them off. They all have to do with sex, but I personally believe that what I do with all of work can be pretty fucking meaningful. I try to create an encouraging safe space where people can think and talk about their authentic sexual selves. In our culture, as it is, that is really really rare. GRRRGH. Don't you tell me what to do with my talents, you fucker, was my thought. For all of his insinuations and assumptions, which I cleared out like I was wielding a rhetorical machete in the jungle, this guy was so mild-mannered that I didn't feel the need to brush him off immediately. But WHOA, I don't often get sex-negative people actually stopping to talk.

And then my friend Scott Ryder stopped by on his way back from a démontage (theatre load-out, I learned a new French word!) that actually wasn't happening until next week. As soon as Scott rolled up, the White Knight with sex issues took off, which I was glad about, because he was starting to get into hypotheticals around fantasies, like sheep fucking and incest, and it was all heading toward something that was going to get a little more confrontational and nasty. Scott had brought a container of Indian takeaway, and after I had cleared away the typewriter, I tucked into a samosa and half a naan and some saag bhorta (spinach). The evening, against all odds, ended on a high note.

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