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SMUT SLAM: the intersection of chaos and community

It's amazing how forthcoming people are after you've read a few things from the Fuckbucket...

Here it is, folks, the truth is out: Smut Slam is not a professional storytelling show.

I mean, I’m professional. I’ve been hosting Smut Slams since 2011. I know what I'm doing. The other Smut Slams are professionally hosted, by emcees and artists who know how to work the mic and hold the room. But the people telling the stories, they are not usually professionals, because smut sharing is not a profession or even a generally recognized art.

There are no up-and-coming “spoken smut” artists, clamoring for stage time in which to polish their smut for other smut performances. There are no venerable smut elders, who have been touring with their smutty tales for decades and mentoring those coming after them. There are no national or world smut championships (yet). No Smut Slam host curates their program, not at all. In fact, Smut Slam is the opposite of curated. It is a chaos event, with stories frequently coaxed out of timid audiences as we go along.

People who have been to Smut Slams—and there have been hundreds and hundreds since 2011—know all of this already. I write this for those who are new, judges and journalists and audiences alike, people who may want to bring Smut Slam to their town or university or event. The details are in every press release, every event listing on Facebook, but I wanted to say it again:

Smut Slam is a community open mic. There IS no guarantee of some "objective" quality. I have never sold Smut Slam on the idea that it is quality storytelling. It is not an open mic for performers; it is a COMMUNITY dirty storytelling open mic. We are not trying to create the most amazing, polished storytelling show. My job as host is create an ENVIRONMENT where regular people—NOT PERFORMERS—feel safe and encouraged to share their stories.

Thing is, we DO NOT KNOW what is going to happen at Smut Slam. Rather than worry about that, I make that fucker a FEATURE. It's a bonus! WHO THE FUCK KNOWS WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN, I SURE DON'T. The hosts contain the uncertainty a little with the guidelines that are read at the top of every show, but other than that.... WHEEEEEE!

If you go to storytelling events already, you will have expectations of quality. Don’t worry: I can tell you straight up that, on the average, Smut Slams can keep up with those expectations. Anyway, curation is no guarantee of quality.

But “quality” is not the point of Smut Slam, nor has it ever been. I simply strive to facilitate the slam space such that ordinary people feel okay about getting up and telling their stories. This feeling of raw, authentic openness and support is what hooks audiences at a Smut Slam. They get to see other people, like themselves, get up there and be vulnerable and brave, and they ARE interested, trust me on that.

This is also what keeps me up there, sitting next to the stage, my jaw on the floor, watching the stories being told. People are brave, when you give them the space to be, and they will come out with something completely unexpected. It's a much riskier show for me to facilitate, with that in mind, but the rewards are much higher, in terms of what the community can get out of it. Hopeful, inspiring chaos is what I seek. And we hosts have ways to encourage that:

  • WE RECRUIT JUDGES WHO ARE NOT STORYTELLERS. Some are, but we also seek out writers, sex educators, burlesque performers, actors, heads of relevant/intersecting organizations, sex-toy shop employees (from our sponsors!). We still invite the judges to tell stories, but this way we have a wide background of telling experience to draw from.
  • WE REMIND THE JUDGES that Smut Slam is an open mic, in which we are encouraging civilians to get up there, and that we are not judging this like the Moth fucking Slam. That is really really really not the point of Smut Slam. It is for civilians, and the judging part is only a mechanism to deliver the sex toy prizes.
  • WE DON'T FOCUS ON INVITING STORYTELLERS TO ATTEND. They’re welcome, but in general storytellers and performers in general are NOT our target demographic for audience. We want folks who are not necessarily used to talking into a microphone, who weren’t planning to tell, but felt moved by the feeling in the room, who maybe have never spoken in front of a crowd in their lives.

That is who Smut Slam is for: people, not performers. It is for sharing, not grandstanding. It’s for people like you and me with something personal to say, and a roomful of other folks to witness the remembered joys and fears and awkwardness and amazingness of our sexual lives.

Smut Slam is chaos, and it is also profound community and learning and lively, full-immersion fun. That’s worth it, every time.

*****

When you become a patron of mine on Patreon, you're not just making it possible for me to do my cheeky writing and challenging theatre work. You're not just getting fun, behind-the-scenes peeks at the Fuckbucket, the Smut Slam, my travels, and more. You are supporting the international Smut Slam community, which now extends to nearly 20 cities around the English-speaking world, with more to come. Your patronage helps bring the encouraging and supportive space of Smut Slam to a world that needs it, now more than ever.

2 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “SMUT SLAM: the intersection of chaos and community”

  1. Loud-Word March 16, 2017 at 1:05 pm

    Interesting. I came to Smut Slam and loved it. As I left the stage I heard someone say ‘Yeah but she’s a professional story teller’. The tone is which those words were delivered suggested that I and my story didn’t count as I am used to talking in front of people. However. It was the very first time ever that I have spontaneously shared a personal story about myself in front of a crowd of people. It’s a very different thing delivering pre decided content to an audience and becoming vulnerable in front of my community.

  2. camerynmoore March 16, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    I find this is true for a lot of performers who come to Smut Slam: there’s nothing quite to compare to ad hocking your way through a super personal sex story in front of strangers. Many actors, for example, and a lot of our judges don’t dare do it.

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