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Author: camerynmoore

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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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CALL OF THE DAY: the penultimate Bilingual Papi

Bilingual Papi is a savvy phone sex user; he usually comes within 30 seconds of the end of his time package. He always ends up wanting a little more time with me, but he almost always only needs the amount of time that he has purchased.

Yesterday, though, WHOA. I could hear it in his voice when he reacted to my initial sallies: he was wound up TIGHT, giving a way stronger response than he normally does to my questions and comments, which were not noticeably different in pacing or tone from my usual. But I wasn’t expecting him to come that quickly, I only caught the note of urgency maybe 10-15 seconds before he came, not enough time to dial back my approach. He came maybe four minutes into his 15-minute call.

Papi, what happened?

“Baby, it’s your fault!” he gasped out.

NOOOO. I didn’t do anything different from the other times. You were all wound up, I couldn’t stop you!

“I know, I know, sweetheart. I don’t know what happened! You always know how to get me going. Today I was just ready to go a lot faster.”

I’m sorry, daddy. I didn’t want to say it, but I was thinking it: he knows it is almost our last time. He is all wound up because I am leaving.

As if he somehow heard my thoughts, at that moment he asked, “When are you leaving again? When is your last day?”

December 18. My boss had asked me not to be so specific with my regulars, just to say the end of the month, so that they would call back and she would have a chance to capture their business with another operator, but with Bilingual Papi, I think we all knew that I was going to be as up front as possible with him.

“Next week. Next Sunday. For sure you’re going to be on?”

Yes, I will, I promise, I said. But, um, you should maybe start talking to other girls, you know.

“You don’t think I have?” he laughed dismissively. “No one is as good as you are. They don’t know how to just try stuff out. They think I’m strange for wanting what I want, and you never did. You just said, okay, and tried it. No one else is like that.”

For wanting what you want? What do you mean, the rough stuff?

 “No, just, like… you know, asking them to stay stuff in Spanish. They just ignore it.”

Oh! Well, I never say it very well.

“Yes you do! Anyway, at least you try! No matter what I wanted to do, you always said, okay, I’ll try it.”

Well, I said. As long as we’re sharing stuff, I love how… earthy you are, how joyful. You always wanted to be here. 

“Doesn’t everyone want to be here? I mean, they’re getting sexy with you! Who doesn’t want to be there for that?”

I don’t know, I said, but a lot of the guys have a lot of shame around it. You never ever do. And you’re so creative, you always are, you and your cake and song and sparklers in my ass on the Fourth of July.

At that, he really burst out laughing. “Okay, I know I get a bit silly sometimes, but why not, you know? We can do anything here!”

I know. I just really appreciated how much creativity and excitement you brought. Phone sex, it should be a…”

“A conversation,” he finished the sentence when I paused. “It should be a conversation. And I will really miss our conversations.”

******

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TERRIBLE SEX TIPS: “6 places you can have sex when you’re home for the holidays”

Every so often—like every other week—I read a sex tips column that has clearly been written for a very, very specific audience, and that audience ain’t me, but I don’t know it right away, because they write as if, “Duh, everyone knows this is the way things are!” Only we don’t all know it, and that disconnect makes me feel like a clueless idiot for just a split second, before I snap out of it and realize, no, actually, the problem is that the writer is an insular, privileged posh nob.

In the case of this week’s Terrible Sex Tips, I don’t know fully 75% of what they are talking about, because they are talking to a whole internet full of people who still get wound up about family shit. I have so many questions about this approach!

“No matter how old you are, there's something about having sex in your parents' house that makes you feel like a kid again. For one, you still have to hide it — because, you can't get caught! It's illicit. You're breaking the rules. And as a result, it can actually make the entire process pretty hot.”

Wait, why do you have to hide it? You mean, hide it like no one can know that you are a sex-having individual? No sex in the living room with other people around? That seems sensible. Are there other rules? If you still have to leave the bedroom door open, even if you and your spouse have been married for years, then you have other problems. Deal with those first, before strategizing about your next fuck session.

“And going home for the holidays will almost undoubtedly make you feel like a kid again. … It all just transports you back to a time when life was simple, unfeathered (sic) and wholesome.”

What is this mythical time when life was simple, unfeathered (I suspect she means unfettered), and wholesome? Who the hell is she kidding? Teenagers’ lives are entirely fettered, until they have a chance to get OUT.

“Back to that getting caught thing, although you won't get grounded this time, it's just as awkward should you get found out.”

Why does this writer think it must be awkward? Is your family very conservative, with the echolocation skills of bats? Do your parents live in a traditional Japanese house or other places with thin walls? Is this the sixth person you’ve brought home as your “significant other” in the last year? Because seriously, there is no reason why grown-ass adults in acknowledged relationships shouldn’t be banging away properly in a proper bed, if they want. Or an air mattress, or a futon on the floor. Lock that door. If there’s no door, then you know, you could try to keep it in your pants for four days and make homecoming, to your own home, that much more exciting. No? You gotta get laid? All right then, let’s see what the author says about:

1) Your childhood room

"This doesn't even necessarily have to be on your childhood bed. It can be on the floor, preferably on the side of the bed that's obstructed from view. If you do opt for the bed, just make sure to get rid of any stuffed animals. Creepy."

What’s creepy is if your parents haven’t taken that childhood room and immediately turned it into an office or a painting studio or a dungeon. Or moved out of that oversized family home into a cheaper condo in a neighborhood where they don’t have to care about how good the school system is.

2) The attic/basement

"Let me specify, this is for those homes with somewhat built-out versions of these. Because let's be honest, a tryst in a crawl space could be dangerous... although you would by lying down already. Same goes for basements; bonus points if you have a ping pong table you can utilize for this non-ping pong purpose."

Attics and basements always will have splinters or loose tufts of insulation, just FYI. And ping-pong tables, those edges, man, don’t be daft.

3) Your car

"Let's bring it back to high school, guys and gals! Here's the best part: when you don't have to use your car as a sex vessel, like you did when you were actually living under your parent's roof, an impromptu tryst in one can actually be fun. Maybe even have car sex right before your previous "curfew" to really get back into character."

When you don’t have the actual urgency to find a place to have sex—when you could actually have sex in your proper bed-type location—then trust me, car sex isn’t that appealing. Its only appeal is when it is the only option.

4) The laundry room

"It's perfectly legitimate to want to do some laundry when you're home, and maybe while you're waiting for your clothes to dry, you can just hop up on top of it and enjoy your own little spin cycle."

Laundry room?! Who has a laundry room any more? Are you living in the Brady Bunch house? What the hell?

5) Your favorite secluded spot

"Everyone had this place in their home town — the abandoned parking lot where you would throw back Natty Lite's before high school pep-rallies... or that one spot in your yard that can't be seen from any vantage point, and therefore was the perfect place to make out with your junior high boyfriend."

Someone has been watching Grease too many times. "Pep rallies"? Those "secluded spots" were all built over years ago. And again, what kind of posh yard do your parents have where you can just get lost in it?

6) Your parents' room

"Come on... you know you've always wanted to."

Um, no? I was just curious about the bookshelves. If you've always wanted to, that's worth mentioning to your therapist.

If you don't have a therapist, here's my non-Terrible Sex Tip: get one, or write in a journal. Learn how to talk with your parents and set boundaries. Do whatever it takes to get over the obvious charge that your childhood home and family dynamics still have in your life, and do it before you go back and do any fucking.

*****

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Borrowing insults and adding irony

A singer friend of mine pinged me a few weeks ago after having received feedback about one of her songs; in the song she plays around with the word “hooker” to refer to herself after a guy bought her breakfast the morning after. The feedback was that someone found the song sex worker phobic, and my friend wanted to know what I thought, knowing that I'd heard the song before.

I reminded her that I’m hardly a voice for all sex workers, this is just my opinion, right? And I told her that I knew she is supportive of sex workers, and I applaud her filthy feminist tactics and content, both on stage and off, and she’s got a voice that would make an angel cream in its robe. But yeah, I said, the song always gives me a little pause.

The thing is, she's by far not the only person who uses that word, so I've thought about this for a long time, ever since I starting getting politicized about sex work. Here are my thoughts:

For starters, “hooker” is one of those words that is maybe better left for the people who have been called it, as an insult, by outsiders to their world. The h-word is like “queer." It's a word that has almost always been used in a derogatory or dismissive way. In these cases I have argued, and would do so again, that reclaiming the words has to happen from within the targeted groups. (I don’t even know what happens when we are done reclaiming this linguistic territory. Is it forever protected as a wildlife refuge, or put up on the market for condo developers or what?)

I don’t even say “hooker” out loud—and when I write it I use quotes—but I’m not saying that you can’t say “hooker.” It's a (relatively) free country, at least for a little while yet. You can say whatever you want; go on and say the h-word. Does that feel good? Fine, but it’s not reclaiming. It’s appropriation, of a sort. It’s stealing, or at best borrowing.

Sex work terms get picked up all the time and used for shock value. The h-word, in this case, is used to drizzle a little bit of impropriety over breakfast with a one-night stand. It’s a dusting of irony and a gritty street twist to an otherwise straightforward post hook-up ritual. These are the background thoughts that come bubbling forward when I hear that song, but also every time I hear someone use the h-word and I know they're not actually an h-word.

I have similarly visceral reaction to the use of the word “brothel” in non-sex-worker contexts, especially the Poetry Brothel, which has a chapter in New Orleans and one in NYC. When I first heard of it, four or five years ago, my teeth gritted reflexively and I hissed. Poetry brothels involve poets sitting around and murmuring poetry into your ear, which frankly sounds pretty awesome. But couldn’t they have spent a little more time coming up with a name? No. They sought the feel of illegality and persecution, without feeling the burn. They get the romanticized feel of plying a trade that is economically marginal and socially suspect in this country, but they will never feel the actual fall-out.

Same thing can be said for constructions like “media whore." The speakers are trying to show edge and grit and a certain sort of in-your-faceness that, in their minds, is best exemplified by terms for sex workers. They will even claim it as a badge of honor, but at the end of the day they are not going to be illegal in 49 states and most of Nevada for pursuing media coverage at any cost. Poetry brothels are trying to convey decadence and disrepute—usually of the late 1800s, for some reason, I think it’s the corsetry—but they are not actually in danger of being busted by the cops.

In the end, my friend's song is super popular, and she's had lots of other sex worker friends enjoy it, so my opinion isn't meant to be law. I get the connection that she was drawing, which is one of the reasons why I never said anything to her before she asked for my opinion. Another reason is that I didn't want her to think I was making a petty, unjustifiable stand.

But language isn't petty. It's can be powerful. Who claims it and reclaims it is powerful. I've already had this conversation with my friend, so I'm having it with you: Consider letting the targets keep those words for now.

*****

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CALL OF THE DAY: saying goodbye to Bilingual Papi

About two weeks ago I finally told Bilingual Papi that I was leaving. I had been dreading that conversation for months, but it wasn’t as awkward as I feared it would be. He didn’t blow up at me, or pester to give him exact details about where and why I was going. He just told me he would miss me, and said “well, I guess I’m going to be calling you a lot, then, these last few weeks.”

Afterward I found myself wishing he had exploded, because I was bracing for that. His simple, affectionate sadness felt like it was breaking my heart from the inside. I’m gonna miss him.

I suppose it’s partly because Bilingual Papi is such a contrast from most of the rest of my callers, whom I will not miss or even remember if I don’t pull their cards out from the box to remind myself. They will fade away into a vast undifferentiated mass of need, the appendages and attire changing, but the basic process and outcome remaining the same as it always ever was for phone sex: do this thing and make me come. Some of them even say as much: “make me come.”

I go back to what my character says in Phone Whore: “Some of my callers aren’t even paying attention. They’ve already got a magazine spread open or a DVD running. They just want to hear a live voice in their ear. I’m just a sex toy. You can tell by the way they hang up without saying goodbye, like you’d switch a vibrator off and throw it on the floor.”

That’s your average phone sex client, whereas Bilingual Papi pretty much is the opposite. He is a good example, in fact, for how a good phone sex client behaves, demonstrating good behavior and people skills on multiple fronts:

He brings the party. Not every client needs to bring the party; some of them specifically ask for the story, or they’re in a place where they can’t talk, or their role in the sexual dynamic or role-play demands silence. If I’m telling someone to suck on some dick, and don’t stop until I say so, then he better not be talking! But for the people who want to engage in a game of equals, this means putting something on the table. Reciprocity makes the experience richer for everyone. Bilingual Papi always brings something for the mutual feast, whether it’s a craving for a specific style of underwear or a theme for today because ¡Feliz Navidad! (Sung out loud in a mumble, because his dick is in my mouth.) Whatever he wants, he brings it to our calls.

He pays attention. He remembers roughly my birthday. If I tell him what general region I’m traveling to, he usually remembers that, too. I mean, he’s never asked me for my political opinion or what I’m fixing for dinner. But Bilingual Papi listens, and ever since I told him, on the first call, that I love learning phrases in Spanish, he offers up new ones and doesn’t get irritated when I ask him to repeat them.

He understands the system. Bilingual Papi has occasionally expressed a passing wish that we could play in person; when I told him that I was leaving, he was very open in expressing his sadness to see me go. But he has never pushed for any off-the-grid contact info, and when in the past our schedules haven’t matched up well, he doesn’t rebuke me or whine “why can’t I find you?” He instead says, “Looks like our schedules haven’t been matching up.” He holds no illusions about me being a service provider.

And yet…. I have always said that service providers can still get attached to our clients, even when all parties fully acknowledge the explicitly transactional nature of the relationship. Therapists can get attached to their patients. Waitresses can wonder what happened to their regulars, and be overjoyed to see them again after a long time. And apparently phone sex operators can feel sad about their faves when they leave the biz.

Apparently I’m not as tough as I thought.

******

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CALL OF THE DAY: a conversation with Extreme Top, with counterpoint from my raging inner voice

- Hi, Daddy.

“Hi, baby girl. How are you?”

HOW DO YOU THINK I AM, YOU OBLIVIOUS TOOL? IT’S TURNING INTO 1933 GERMANY OUT THERE, FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK….

- Okay, daddy. How are you?

“I’m fine, sweetheart.” <heavy breathing> “Tell me about your tits, when you’re in middle school.”

GOD, AGAIN? DO YOU EVEN KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CUP SIZE AND BAND SIZE, YOU FUCKNOODLE? NO OF COURSE YOU DON’T, NONE OF YOU FUCKERS DO.

- Well, Mommy pumps them every night, so they’re up to a 28GG now.

“Oh my god, oh my god.” <heavy breathing> “And how does she like to dress you? She likes to show off your tits, doesn’t she? Tell me. TELL ME.”

FUCKIN’ CHILL YOU ASSHOLE I’M TRYING TO ASSEMBLE A PRE-TEEN SLUT WARDROBE IN MY HEAD UM…

“TELL ME!”

- Yes, um, well, I’ve got a tight tee-shirt…

“It shows your freakishly large nipples, doesn’t it?”

YES OF COURSE IT DOES, BY THE WAY THE SHIRT HAS CHE GUEVARA ON IT, WITH THE EYES RIGHT OVER WHERE MY NIPPLES ARE POKING OUT.

- Oh, yes, daddy, and the fabric rubs against my nipples and gets them all hard even before I get to the school bus stop.

“Everyone can see, can’t they? They can see.” <heavy breathing> “They can see how you’re dripping milk.”

RIGHT <flipping through the Book of Extreme Top Motifs> HERE WE ARE, THE PREGNANT TEENAGE SLUT SCENARIO WITH MILKY BREASTS UPGRADE, THIS PAGE IS ALMOST WORN OUT.

- They can totally see the milk, daddy and they can see my round little belly stretching the t-shirt and sticking out between my shirt and my teeny tiny little mini skirt.

“What else are they gonna see, baby? What are they gonna see when you bend over?”

WELL, I’VE GOT A 50/50 CHANCE…

- They’re gonna see my white panties stretched over my tiny little cunt…

“No, you know what they’re gonna see?”

I DON’T KNOW, YOU JERK, I’M NOT A FUCKING PSYCHIC.

“They’re gonna see that bare naked cunt of yours and that stretched-long clit; Mommy’s been pumping that as well as your tits, hasn’t she?”

NO I’VE BEEN SECRETLY PULLING OFF THE SUCTION CUP AND STICKING IT TO THE WALL AT NIGHT.

“TELL ME!”

EEEEP!

- Yes, daddy, mommy’s been pumping my clit. It’s gotten all long, it’s hanging down three inches…

“How long?”

GODDAMMIT, YOU FUCKING SIZE QUEEN. <eye roll>

- Five inches, daddy.

“Mommy’s made a little clit-dick out of it for you, hasn’t she?” <heavy breathing> “Your girlfriends can’t get enough of it, can they? They want you to fuck them because they want to try sex, but they don’t want to get pregnant…

BECAUSE IN YOUR ACTUAL REAL WORLD, YOU PROUD TRUMP VOTER, GIRLS WHO WANT TO TRY SEX AND DON’T WANT TO GET PREGNANT ARE FUCKED, AND YOU’RE SO TURNED ON THAT YOU’RE THINKING WITH YOUR DICK, ANYTHING THAT COMES OUT OF YOUR MOUTH IS DEFAULT AND YOU RESORT TO WHAT YOU KNOW, WHICH IS ANYTHING THAT TURNS YOU ON TRUMPS ANYTHING REMOTELY RELATED TO REALITY GODDAMMIT I SAID THE T-WORD

- I know, Daddy. Which girlfriend should I have suck my clit-dick?

“You decide.”

GARGGGGGGGHHHHHHH

********

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Keep making art: an artist’s manifesto for troubled times.

I normally write two blog posts a week, but I just couldn’t this week. The US elections got me seriously strung out. The day after hit me like a hangover, and I hadn’t even been drinking. I went to bed early with a sinking heart, tried to sleep for over an hour, and woke up at 3:30am knowing without even looking that the world had direly shifted.

For a few minutes, as I thought about what I needed to do next, what I could do next, I felt acute despair, and I really just wanted to, you know, clock out for a while. I could just cancel all of my remaining shows for this tour, I thought, and get out of the States as soon as possible, hunker down in Montreal for a month before catching my plane to the UK. I wrestled with the weight of this choice, knowing that audiences were going to be a tough sell, and wouldn’t it look a little, I don’t know, callous to put on dirty storytelling shows in the middle of this?

Underneath that was the tiny little shame of an artist: what good is art at a time like this? Especially art about sex? Who cares? This is a luxury, all of this swanning about around sex stuff. The apocalypse is upon us! No one has time for a dirty storytelling open mic, no one has time for silliness. What is theatre but self-indulgence?

I think most performers, most artists of all stripes, feel this at some point or another, this internalized illegitimacy. Mine is not real art. Real art can start revolutions! My art just gets people squirming in the back rooms of bars and maybe feeling a little horny afterward.

Fortunately, I recognize this barely breathed thought for what it is: the internal critic, the voice that has and will take the same tone with any art I try to create. It’s the internalized skeptic: art doesn’t change anything, never mind sex art, never mind hosting open mics. This is all helped along by my activist side, which learned and still believes that the only real activism is on the front line, chaining oneself to the gates of the nuclear power plant and blocking freeways, or at the very least going to rallies and being loud. That’s the stuff I should be focusing on that, my activist mind keeps saying. That is the only way to effect real change.

But this is not true, I was reminded today. Change can come from many directions. Art can change things. In addition to bringing the message—whatever message, I know what mine tends to be, but there are many others—doing art, if that’s what we need to do, contributes to a world in which we are all doing the thing that feeds our soul. That can't be the only thing—there are petitions and signs and money to be donated—but in a world that feels soulless, it needs to be top priority to put our souls back out harder than ever.

*****

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“Wow! Do you have an agent?” HAHAHAHAHAHAH

People ask me sometimes, when they see all the shows I do, the vast sprawling itineraries and the multiple cities and the boom-boom-boom schedule, they say, “Wow! Do you have an agent?” it’s inconceivable to them that I could get all of those dates without one.

And then I say, no, I’m almost entirely self-produced. I set those up myself. I can tell from the awkward pause and blink that they were really thinking that I must have had an agent, and it would confirm all the glamorous notions that they have about touring performers, I dunno, hotels all the time and no green M&Ms in the dressing room.

Whereas when you take a good look at my tour stops, at the venues where I go and the gigs, it should be obvious that agents just wouldn’t bother. It wouldn’t be worth their time. Smut Slams in the back rooms of bohemian vegetarian cafes or the upstairs of a pub. A solo play in a dungeon in the Midwest where I can run the address, but can’t mention the name of the place, because they can’t risk being outed. A house show with 15 people in attendance and a spaghetti dinner beforehand that I cooked. Fringe festivals where I am solely responsible for my expenses and income, and spend 12 days flyering for my own show like a hyperdrive flyering beast.

These are not winning propositions for an agent. But they are winning for me. I’ve come to terms with the idea that I am not ever going to create a blockbuster show; it’s not in me to write the comedy that sells, nor am I a young, conventionally attractive person. But I also believe, more strongly than ever, in my own mandate: to make space for awkward but essential conversations about sex and sexuality and relationships. I believe in that … zealously, might be the right word.

In that mandate, there must be room for smaller audiences in unconventional and intimate spaces. So then, the challenge for me becomes finding the audiences. This too is not something that most agents would truck with. I hunt around for my people like a trained pig in a vast orchard that has truffles in there somewhere, but scattered about and only under every sixth or seventh tree.

I follow countless leads on the strength of “please, can you come to my town?” (I’ve stopped doing that recently, because most people don’t have experience producing performance, or the connections for doing so.) I look to see where other alternative performers go. I sign up for emails from countless festivals, waiting for application forms and deadlines, knowing that, most of the time, my stuff will be considered “too edgy” for their existing audiences. I talk with other performers and talk and talk: where have they been, what have they done, what have they heard?

I look for leaders in storytelling groups and Fringe theatre groups. I approach feminist organizations and kink organizations and student sexuality organizations, waiting weeks and weeks to get the right contact to pitch that yes, my stuff would fit into their mission. Sometimes the right contact is going on maternity leave or they’ve graduated, and I have to wait some more.

I won’t even bother going into the minutiae of production logistics, the reams and wads of administrivia that go into making the performance go, once we’ve agreed that the performance should go. Just making things fit into a calendar to make sense from a travel point of view, that is its own post. Ditto for promotions (I’ve already written at length about that), and billeting and driving and grocery shopping. Yes. This is a book. (Yes, I'm thinking about writing it.)

Here I am only talking about finding my audience, the one that really wants what I have to offer and that has the ability to make space for it and pay something reasonable for it. (I suspect that my reasonable and an agent’s reasonable are miles apart as well.) It’s not glamorous, this part of the work. This is pounding the virtual pavement and sweating virtual sweat that sometimes trickles out into real sweat, and frankly I get tired of it, All the Fucking Time.

But if this is the only way that my work, the work that I want to do, will get out there, then this is what I’ll do. I will pick the green M&Ms out of the bowl myself. I will beg for pictures of the performance space, and if there is actually a green room, I will consider myself even luckier than normal.

*****

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CALL OF THE DAY: the many lies of Lesbian Surfer Dude

I’m never sure what it’s about when a regular tells me they’re going to be calling me less frequently. Maybe they feel a connection and don’t want me to be concerned or confused. Maybe they are trying to convince themselves that they’re going to be cutting back, because they got their bill for the previous month and they’re going through a bout of buyer’s remorse. Usually they do end up calling back eventually, and rarely do they offer any explanation for their absence.

Lesbian Surfer Dude has been one of these callers. In the last year or so, it’s mostly been about his new girlfriend. He offers her up as the reason that he’s going to be cutting back. Of course I tell him I’m happy for him. I honestly am happy for him. I do believe that if my callers—hell, if everyone everywhere—could get their sexual needs met by their partners or other caring people in their lives, the world would be a better place.

So when LSD has told me about going off on road trips with his girlfriend, or in any other way that he’s going to be spending more time with her, I have been 100% supportive and in no way offering recrimination or guilt trips or anything. Good, I say, I’m glad. I hope you really have a great time.

But I also asked him once whether his girlfriend knew about his fantasies, whether he ever shared them with her—not to pressure him to do so, just curious—and he firmly came down on the side of “No way, she would never be into it.” Right. That cleared the table, and I never asked again.

He called last week, after a couple of months’ absence. He had warned me that he was probably not going to call anymore, but he and I have done this cycle before, so I wasn’t surprised to hear from him again. As a conversation starter, I asked him, so what have you been up to? It’s been a while. And he so casually said, “Well, I got married on Friday.”

What, last Friday? As in three days ago?

“Yep.”

Is it the girl that you’ve been going out with for a while?

“Yeah, she’s awesome.”

Oh! Well! Congratulations!

And then we went on with the usual, where he pretends to be a girl named Wendy and I am a hot woman of some random girl-on-girl-porno profession, but always sweaty and foul-mouthed and very into frottage all over his luscious ass before fucking his lesbian pussy with a strap-on and begging for him to do the same.

Every muscle in my throat was aching to let me say something like, why are you calling me, three days after your wedding? Why aren’t you on your honeymoon? Why have you married someone who you will seemingly want to hide one of your sex things from forever? How do you think she will feel if she ever accidentally finds out? 

Of course I didn’t ask. My priorities are authenticity in my sexual relationships, but those are not everyone’s. People are scared. People compartmentalize. Maybe he just doesn’t see this as important enough to share with anyone. Why go through the stress of that awkward conversation, when he can just call up and work it out once a month with someone whom he will never look at over the breakfast table and wonder if she’s secretly disgusted with him? It’s not the kind of relationship I’d want, but hey. He’s the one paying for it.

So congratulations, Lesbian Surfer Dude, and every other dude who marries someone but gets their yayas out with a sex worker on the side. I hope you stay with your partner long enough, and get comfortable enough, that you can tell them more about yourself some day. That’s my wedding wish to you.

*****

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SMUT STAND REPORT: Oct 26, 2016 (New Orleans)

WHEN: 5 hours (7:30pm-12:30am), Oct 27, 2016. WHERE: Frenchmen Street (in front of Bicycle Michael's), New Orleans. OUTPUT: five full-length pieces, including a blissfully unconcerned fingering in a parking lot, a first-time visit to a sex club, and a lesbian, medium-softcore, clown-on-clown pie-splosh party out in the country (see below).

My old car rattles loudest on the days when I am feeling particularly poor and worn-out, and tonight I could barely hear myself think as I drove home from the Smut Stand.

No reason in particular; I did decent trade. I think it was just a badly paced night, coming in fits and starts, as opposed to the night before, which had kicked into gear at around 9:30pm and just didn’t really let up. Tonight I didn’t get my first customer until I had been sitting there for nearly two hours. So many couples passed by where one person wanted smut and their partner objected or talked them out of it; I’m sure that happens all the time, but I don’t normally hear about it. And there were herds of unaccompanied Australian men roaming around. For some reason, Australian men are some of the biggest jerkwads to come in contact with the Smut Stand.

For the last couple of days, I’ve also been feeling a little dry. I can still pound out the pieces, and people love them as much as ever, but I have to dig a little deeper and the sides of my brain get scraped a little from the effort. I remember having this feeling in other years, but I can’t remember how I replenished the well.

Part of it, I think, is that I miss Matt-the-Poet, who is determined not to have to come out and do poetry anymore. I think that’s a great idea for him, but I miss him. When he’s out there next to me on the sidewalk, I always feel good, like, there’s some regular social exchange going on. When he’s not there, there is no break in my creative exertion. I can feel the strain of the mental work. I can’t convince Matt-the-Poet to come back out, so I guess I’m going to have to figure out some other way to take the pressure off.

Things weren’t all bad tonight. Two customers from years past stopped by, including one from three years ago! The other came up and asked for a hug. “You won’t remember me, but my husband and I got a story from you last year, the day after we got married,” she said, gesturing at a man who was standing near a rickshaw and waving. “It’s our one-year anniversary, and we still have that up on our wall.” An hour later she came back with a pint-sized go cup full of wine. “We’re going back to the hotel to make some more smut, but do you want this?” she asked. “It’s a really good Chardonnay from dinner, but I just couldn’t finish it.” (It was amazing Chardonnay.)

On the other end of the marriage spectrum were the parents of a large Asian family whose giggling adult daughter (“our fifth daughter,” mentioned the mother) wanted to treat her parents to some smut on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary. English was not their first language, so I had to go through my explanation twice, and occasionally had to repeat a question, but they got it. Oh yeah, they did. That old dude could not keep his hands off his wife; like, he patted her ass at several points throughout the interview. They both enthusiastically voted for “graphic,” but at the end of the interview, she said, “Please keep it classy, I don’t want it to be crude.” Well. I guess I did all right there, because their smiles were so big, and he patted her ass again and really let his hand linger. I love seeing lascivious couples who have been married for a long time! It gives the lie to the other married couples who insist on playing around with that old ball-and-chain, tired-of-sex trope.

As for the clown piece? I honestly thought the young woman was yanking my chain. I mean, girl clown-on-girl clown pie-splosh party out in the country? Gimme a break! But no, she explained that she had been in circuses and clown troupes for over a decade, was thoroughly bisexual, and had actually filmed some amateur food porn a few years back. Okay, then. When I read her piece out loud—complete with a bike horn, whipped-cream covered pies, and a pair of panties that squirted water in her lover’s face, like the flower in the buttonhole—she jumped up and down for a couple of minutes, laughing with glee and excitement until she almost cried.

*****

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