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I got my two-year working visa for Germany last month, which means I have two years to establish myself as a working artist here. Which is actually the longest period of time ever that a country has given me to be in it and work as an artist. (I’m not counting the US, I only got by there because random dudes on the phone liked my MILFy voice.) Fuck the US anyway. I’m here, I have documentation, and I feel like I could maybe find my people.
Problem is, I can’t remember how.
Touring around for seven months out of the year has always been a problem, in terms of finding friends and connections. Add to that the fact that I’m actually only an extrovert when I can promote my work. When it comes to reaching out on my own behalf just to set coffee dates with people or show up and be part of the crowd at someone else’s show, I’m awkward as fuck.
Top that whole weird sundae off with the perfect bittersweet cherry of blended professional and personal lives: even when I’m out socializing, I’m always repping the brand. This seems to be the default for independent artists: everyday we’re hustling. So I wind up feeling stymied in terms of finding my space and making community. How can I get out of my promoter zone, my wheeling-and-dealing brain, and just find my people?
You may not be an indie artist or promoter, but you can just substitute whatever thoughts/obsessions/work shit are actively getting in your way and freezing you up: too much work, not enough work, worry about family (who can do fine without you), insecurities about schoolwork… what is getting in your way of connecting?
I know what is getting in my way, and even though as an artist I need to keep one ear trained to that ambition and hustle and fear of missing out, I still need undiluted social time, time with people that does not involve me promoting my show or otherwise worrying about my fantastic new two-year-plan creative lifestyle in Berlin.
I don’t always know how to talk with people in that non-work way, but I feel like maybe the first step is to just get out there and be with them, in spite of my anxieties. Being ever the bulldozer type, I decided to make myself get out there. So here is what I’m doing:
- I set aside time for one acquaintance date per week, where we are not venting about touring and ticket sales, even if that would be mutual, and if we do end up talking about my next show, it is only in a sort of sharing of workplace grievances, not like a brainstorming session about living my best performer’s life.
- I’ve got one night a week where I am going out to a place to not perform. Someplace with a sort of theme that I would enjoy experiencing anyway, but nowhere that I am supposed to be performing.
- When I go to a place where I’m anxious about what I’m doing, I set a time limit for how long I have to stay there: just a half-hour, just an hour. I set my timer for that, and I check in with myself when the time is up
Most importantly, I don’t get mad at myself if I don’t manage to do these things every week. I'm trying to change some extremely whack-a-doodle thoughts. That takes time, and hell, I’ve got two years to work up to it.
A little personal note from the middle of an arts-frenzy life. If you like what I'm doing, both in and out of the sex-aware performing arts, and you have a bit of extra cash, consider becoming a patron of mine on Patreon! If you're not sure about Patreon, you can also do a one-time donation to me via Paypal. There are lots of ways to show your support!
Sometimes you can helpfully provide a list of resources, and sometimes you get tired of it. Help me support the cause of Better Sex Ed for People of All Ages, including Those Old Enough to Know Better, and become a patron of mine over on Patreon!
FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: “Why are sex toys like a ‘pocket pussy’ stigmatized, while dildos are commonplace? Is it the clean-up? I bet it’s the clean-up.”
When someone says they have no limits in their kink, I give them so much side eye.
I haven’t seen many other subs in action, because I don’t go out to play parties much, but when I was doing phone sex, I heard that sort of thing a lot. These greedy subs would phrase it as a tolerance for pain or humiliation—even though I could tell that they’d never done face-to-face, paddle-to-ass play ever—but really they just wanted to be forced to take a cock the width of the entire known universe into their hungry little butthole.
No shame in having a hungry butthole, but if that’s all you want, then just say it and admit that you do have limits after all.
I laughed at my phone-sex clients for their notion of being the perfect sub, the bottomless receptacle for whatever jizz and verbal abuse I could hurl at them during our few minutes together. They could just ask for whatever they wanted; they didn’t have to say “I have no limits.” They could actually have asked me to shove the entire universe into their ass, and without cracking a smile, I would have described the bumps of the asteroid belts and everything.
The human brain is built to play around with mad pangalactic fuckery, but that wasn’t enough: my clients wanted me to see them as being able to take anything and everything, and they had very specific words for that: "I have no limits."
I could write it off as sheer macho posturing in the face of often “effeminate” fantasies. There is also a compelling gonzo component, when you take “no limits” to logical extremes: you could die from four inches thick and not enough lube, but yes, LET’S GO FOR THE UNIVERSE IN YOUR BUTT.
But hell, I have been known to say “I can take anything” to my partner, and I know damn well that’s not true. So why do I say it? What is that fantasy about? What is it that I’m trying to say?
For me, at least, I’m an overachiever. I want to do better than anyone else. I also imagine that I know what my partner is getting out of topping or dominating me, and I want to be the best target for topping that they’ve ever had. I want to show off, I guess. My ego is there in my submission in a hundred different ways, in the internal tasks that I set for myself: not to move, not to flinch, not to cry at all or not too loud. I want to show to my partner what a good girl I am, that I won’t jump.
But it is not only ego, not by a long shot. With my partner, as with no one else, there is a strange cyclical alchemy of pain and love. I love him so much that I want to give him the gift of my utter submission, to take everything he can dish out. When I endure it, and he sees that endurance and praises me for it, my love expands more and I want to give him even more of that, show him that. And so on, around and around and back and forth.
Thankfully, he knows when to stop, even if I haven’t said my safe word. I am that in love with him that it feels like I could go on forever there, and he knows it, and he also knows that someone gets to put down limits when I am that far gone in my love/pain spiral, and he is that someone. He understands, I think, the space I want to go with my submission.
My body has limits, but my heart does not. I have to balance between the two, and he will catch me, either way.
My heart has no limits, and neither does my artistic imagination. My budget does, though, and that's where my patrons come in. By pledging a little bit of money on Patreon per blog post I create, you help create sustainability for my work in sex-aware theatre, storytelling, and writing. Do that thing, if you've got the money. It goes a long, long way.
FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: “How does Mister/Miss Straitlaced keep up with the action in Berlin without burning out?”
I would like to play well with others.
I used to. Growing up, I had to; with seven kids in the family, you share your toys or someone is going to get an actual piece of leftover two-by-four in the face. Plus we were all sporty, so we could do a pickup game of soccer just on our own and to be honest, big sprawling board games like Risk and Monopoly were pretty epic.
But at school, I was a bit of an outcast—for my family’s poverty, for my incipient nerdiness, my weight—so I wasn’t in demand for a lot of teams. When there were artificial collectives for academic projects or student associations, I was rarely in a position of power, and yet in those same groups, I frequently ended up carrying the lion’s share of the work. I just wanted to make The Thing happen—hi, super keen nerd girl here!—and other people coasted on my labor.
Many of the projects I have taken on in my adult years have followed the same pattern: solo because I want to get shit done. And the groups that I worked with, for performance purposes, frequently wound up with conflicts, if not outright implosions, because I wanted to get shit done, sometimes at the expense of group process and consistent ethics and people’s feelings.
I stopped trying to do those things and decided to focus on my solo work. As my touring schedule got more intense, it was easy to pretend like wanting to work by myself was ENTIRELY my artistic choice, that it wasn’t some flaw or trauma of my own that I couldn’t work through.
What? I was touring! I was never in the same place for more than five months at a time, and usually I was passing through places for just a week or two at a time. How was I supposed to meet anyone to play with? How could I set regular writing dates with other performers? How could I go to networking events or other people’s shows when I wasn’t in any one town long enough to do it? I convinced myself of the futility of such endeavours, and accepted my lonely lot.
For a time. Except I kept seeing what other people were doing in collaboration with each other, great shows and writing, really interesting cross-disciplinary happenings and zines and videos. Here in Berlin the potential is real and exciting, so really feel it, this tiny, almost infinitesimal nudge…
You could do that, it says. You could get in there and play. You’re in Berlin for a while, go on, try it out, ask people, get involved. If not here, where else is it going to happen?
These are all very reasonable words that my subconscious tries to whisper in my ear. I shrink a little inside and shake my head, or puff up in self-importance at my loner status, I’m a rebel, I do things on my own, nobody else is going to do it the way I want things done, I play by my own rules.
But to be honest, I’m tired of worrying about everything on my own. Some art is better in collaboration. I want to play with others, which I think means I’m going to have to figure out some new rules soon.
Always looking for interesting opportunities and new performing connections, but the core of my vision remains true: making space for those awkward conversations around authentic sex, sexuality, and relationships. If you also think those conversations are important to have, then consider becoming a patron of mine on Patreon.
The erotic imagination lives in the brain, and you know what they say about the brain…
It’s a muscle. Stretch it. Exercise it. Keep it flexible.
It’s a channel for electricity. Throw out lots of synaptic points and see what connects.
It’s hungry. Give it lots of food for thought.
There are any number of excellent metaphors for what you need to do, but it all boils down to this: to expand your erotic imagination, you need to feed it, use it regularly, and push outside your known zone every now and then.
Feed it. Where you get the fuel for your particular machine isn’t that important, as long as it’s legal, ethical, and interesting for you. Porn can be a good source, if you’re visually inclined, but you can also read erotica, or have a partner read erotica to you. The good thing about written or audio erotica, versus visual, is your mind gets to fill in the blanks. Try reading a piece to yourself, and then having it read to you, just to see changes for your between the two different takes!
What you feed your erotic imagination doesn’t have to be straight-up depictions of sex or kink, either. You can get out there and experience activities that are aimed at the senses. Get a massage; play in water; carefully cook a dinner that requires more than one napkin. Hit a museum or sculpture garden, or visit a fabric store, where you can run your hands all over the silks and satins. (Don’t make groaning noises, that’ll just freak the sales people out.) Go dancing to different kinds of music to see how they feel in your body.
(PSST: go to a Smut Slam near you and hear about other people's sex adventures. You will definitely get some ideas, and possibly some good cautionary advice, too.)
Plain ol’ conversation helps keep your well full, too. Talk with your partner(s) about the things you already do together, as well as the things you might do. Take them with you on these fieldtrips, and talk about what happens there. But don’t just make these forays a one-time thing. You need to…
Use it regularly. That phrase “use it or lose it” is not just a nicely rhyming platitude. This is true of all skills or abilities: if you do not regularly do a thing, your ability to do it will eventually atrophy.
With the erotic imagination, this means both going out and getting your “source material,” as it were, AND THEN making space in your life for playing. Don’t worry about any direct correlation between what you are doing on your sensual dates and what you are doing in your sexy times. You don’t need to force the connection; your brain will do the alchemy on its own.
Push your boundaries. I don’t mean break through them like a randy rhinoceros, or ignore your own internal misgivings or pain warnings or actual hard limits. I just mean, if you discover something that makes you shiver a little, or if your partner suggests something that you know nothing about… maybe try it.
Normally, in the course of your regular sex-having schedule, you’d probably push unknown items back in favor of activities you know and love, right? Go for the sure thing. But in the interest of stretching your boundaries, go ahead and lean on that question-mark spot, when one arises. Obviously, do all the safety prep and checks first: discuss it beforehand, including safe words/signals, investigate accurate technique, and even maybe plot out baby steps to this new and possibly scary thing, if it’s something you really aren’t sure of.
But look: if you’re already making the time for sensual dates, and making regular space in your life to incorporate all that new material, you’ve got enough time to slow down and gently push. Leaning into a stretch is how you make it bigger.
I'd like to think that I'm helping to broaden people's erotic imaginations too. If you think so, and you'd like to help me to more of that, please think about getting over to Patreon and becoming a patron of mine. Rare footage of stand-up comedy sets, exclusive backstage interviews, and more as perks for my supporters!