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The spirit of Smut Slam in a small town

I’m a city girl, through and through. As long as I’m not more than 10 minutes away from decent public transportation, drop me in a big city and I thrive.

Not surprisingly, this is where my art does best too. Outside of actual Fringe festivals, my sex-aware, no-holds-barred, “fringe-y” plays require a certain critical mass of people who pay attention to adventurous theatre. That number of people is only really available in populous areas.

And Smut Slam? I started thinking about this recently, while offering Smut Slams to various festivals in the UK. Some of the festivals there are big and established enough, as festivals, but they’re in tiny towns. I had offered the slam two years ago to a venue in a small festival, and they had said, no, I don’t think it’ll work here. I was a little miffed at first, like, no, try it out. I thought they were underestimating the residents there. But 2+ years older and at least a little bit wiser, and I begin to see the truth of that stance.. Smut Slam wouldn’t work there.

Turns out that Smut Slam is also a big-city sport. Most people get incredibly nervous at the thought of public sharing of intimate stories about their own actual sex lives, all the more so if they know that they might run into people in the audience at the grocery store tomorrow, or wherever. In a big-city, that just doesn’t happen that often. Standing at the mic, you’re going to look out and maybe see two of your friends, but everyone else? You’ll never see them again, WHO CARES WHAT THEY THINK. Also, small towns breed gossip like kudzu on damp wood, so people are naturally going to be a little hesitant, in spite of whatever efforts and force of charm I bring to bear as the host.

This bothers me, the knowledge that whole swathes of the country may not ever get to experience what can happen at a Smut Slam: the openness and support and encouragement and learning. The freedom, the excitement, the liberation and love. Those are the intangibles that swirl around at a Smut Slam. Smut Slam does this for people, and I would really love to keep spreading that around, make it available and accessible to people in more and different parts of the world.

I’ve been brainstorming with friends, about how to bring the Smut Slam experience to a smaller town, and came to the strong hypothesis that the Fuckbucket, with those anonymous questions and confessions, needs to be the center of small-town smut. And even that might be too risky for some places; I can imagine reading those revelations out loud and audience members giving each other the side eye, wondering about each other.

Setting aside the fact that an all-Fuckbucket Smut Slam would be a LOT of work for me as host—I would become much more a performer—I’m also stumped by the space between the Fuckbuckets. What are the easier bits? What are the lower-risk elements for people who are too shy even for filling in a Fuckbucket form? What is less risky than the Fuckbucket, but still involves audience participation? I don’t think such a thing exists; there is no lower level of acceptable risk before this show becomes a spectacle, no longer interactive in a way that supports a real Smut Slam experience.

The truth is, any activity that asks you to contribute something real is risky. Someone might find out. Someone might now. Maybe there are some places that will never get the Smut Slam.

<GRGGHH> Why does that bother me so much?

*****

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