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Archive for Sidewalk Smut

SMUT STAND REPORT: Edinburgh Fringe (Aug 3, 2018)

WHEN: 4 hours (3-7pm), Aug 3, 2018. WHERE: Grassmarket, Edinburgh Fringe. OUTPUT: three full-length pieces, including a romantic, gender-fluid, outdoor threesome up against a tree; a passionate fingering in an overheated tent; and a voyeuristic group-sex party on a houseboat with lots of nautical puns.

It has been nearly six months since I went out for a hardcore work shift on the Smut Stand. I’ve been trying to find a productive location in Berlin since the spring, but NOTHING. I cursed the lack of income and dearth of smut in my life, but consoled myself with the knowledge that I would be coming to Edinburgh in August and here I would find my people.

It is more accurate to say that my people find me, and here in Edinburgh they always do. The poster banner goes up and I start typing away, and they just step up and ask. I don’t do any persuading or selling, soft or hard (heh heh). I just explain the service and the process and the price, and they either go for it or they don’t. Sometimes peer pressure or begging from a partner persuades someone who might be on the fence. But some people know; they have some intuitive sense before I even open my mouth.

During this particular shift, everyone was fully down. No hesitant customers, I didn’t have to drag anything out of anybody. That’s another great quality of the real eager beavers: their interviews are FULL and COMPLETE. If anything, I have to tell them to stop overthinking, but I'm happy to let them ramble for a bit, because it gives me all the material I need. I was worried about the bridegroom whose buddies chipped in for his piece, but he was actually the most sensitive, considerate bridegroom that I’ve ever encountered out on the stand. It was sweet.

I found myself particularly challenged—in a good, writerly way—by the customer who wanted a romantic piece for herself and her partners, one of whom used “them/they.” Since I don’t use proper names in these stories (I think it gives it a Mad Libs feel), pronouns actually are REALLY important, and third-person singular pronouns in a three-or-more situation can get confusing if I’m not careful. It turned out really well though—reminded me that I’m ALIVE!

The customer was from a city in Germany that is on my target list for taking Smut Slam to, and when I told her more about Smut Slam, she was like, “Hey, I know someone there who would want to help with this.” GREAT. Networking is soooooo random sometimes.

The paying customers aren’t the only things that make doing Smut Stand rewarding. I get to meet ALL KINDS of people. Yesterday’s Passerby of Note was a young woman, mainstream attire, mainstream makeup… she looked young and conventionally pretty and mainstream, the kind of girl that would normally be walking with friends and pass me with lots of giggles. But she was by herself, and she stopped and asked about the smut. And then she asked for one of my brochures and studied it for a few moments.

“Are you a feminist?” she said. “Because you say ‘slut-shaming’ here, I just figured.”

- Yes, I am a feminist, and so is my show, basically.

“Oh.” <pause> “This is a pretty unpopular opinion,” (I braced myself) “but I think that convicted rapists should get the death penalty.”

- Um!

“It’s because in the UK rapists don’t get long prison sentences, they just get out of jail and go free and most of them go and do it again, so I think it would be better, you know, for society.”

- I see. I personally don’t think anyone should get the death penalty, but I can see why your proposal is attractive.

She further went on to say that assault weapons should definitely be banned, but she thought concealed handguns for women would be a good idea, “to defend themselves.”

- I would prefer a less deadly defense, I said, like cat-ear keychains or pepper spray.

“Pepper spray is illegal in the UK, unfortunately. But there are youtube videos on how to make your own! You just have to boil down a handful of really hot papers, and let it soak for a long time…”

And then she went into really detailed recipe mode, and it was slightly terrifying how specific she was.

By the end of our conversation, she said she wanted to bring her cool mother to see Terrible Sex Tips. I hope she does. I also hope she can talk with her cool mother, because something is clearly going on there in this young woman’s life, or most likely already has. It was a weird combo: she was noticing the fucked-up things, but was being drawn to strangely anachronistic solutions.

Watch out, Edinburgh straight men. There is a very pretty young woman out there who has had enough of your bullshit, and she will not hesitate to shoot you, chop your balls off, and/or douse you with homemade, organic pepper juice. And probably laugh while she’s doing it.

*****

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SMUT STAND REPORT: Perth, Australia (Feb 9, 2018)

WHEN: 4 hours (8:30pm-12:30am), Feb 9, 2018. WHERE: Pleasure Garden (Russell Square), Fringe World, Perth. OUTPUT: five full-length pieces, including an awkward first-date piece, a bit of (M-on-F) pussy-eating in a garden shed, and some gritty girl-on-girl action in a shower.

The first commission I got last night was for a guy who was clearly trying to get in the pants of this woman, a friend of a friend whom he had met no more than two hours prior. When the guy saw the stand he ran over like a puppy who just spotted a tennis ball. Except creepier. When he brought the woman over and I started talking with them, and they revealed that they had not yet slept together, I considered calling a halt to the process, because the woman was… less enthusiastic than he was. She liked him, she seemed into him, but wasn’t as excited about the concept of sex, sex, sex at that moment. I asked her a couple of times did she want this, and she shrugged and smiled and said sure, so I went ahead with the interview. The guy wanted it harder core, but I delivered at her level, with a couple layers of swimsuits and something gentle in the sunset. You shouldn't ask for literary butt sex on the first date, dude.

From here on out, I am going to refine and raise my standards for mutual consent, in the case of first dates: they both have to be gagging for it. Anything less than both parties trying to get in each other’s pants at the same time is a no-go.

The next four commissions were MUCH more to my taste, especially the gentleman who ordered a piece for his wife. They have been married 30 YEARS. And their wedding anniversary is on VALENTINE’S DAY. The fact that such a blatant romantic would choose Sidewalk Smut for a present on such an occasion feels like an honor.

Also of note were my final two pieces of the night, both for lesbian couples (not a double date, they were separated by about half an hour). For one couple, they were just so happy that I didn’t assume they weren’t a couple that they were already bouncing with excitement. Clearly I was the right sidewalk pornographer for them!

And both pairs did that thing that I love with couples when I’m explaining the process: they held onto each other’s hands and kinda kept swaying and bumping into each other like, we’re gonna do this, aren’t we, we totally have to do this, omg, but I kinda want to take you behind that storage container right now. Like, they were already clearly in love and in lust, and my presence and the whole process just set the whole chain of pheremones off all over again.

One of the women in one of those couples was a little tipsy, but also very in love. It’s hard to tell between tipsy and love when both are happening at the same time. “That’s us,” she said, over and over again, gazing at her partner after I read their piece out loud to them. “That’s us.”

*****

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SMUT STAND REPORT: April 9, 2017 (Berlin)

WHEN: 4 hours (1-5pm), April 9, 2017. WHERE: Mauerpark, Berlin. OUTPUT: two full-length pieces, including a deliciously wet sit-and-spin session (with a focus on the ass) and a summer afternoon of semi-public pussy eating with the smells of sausage on the barbecue in the background.

I wanted Berlin to go better than this, on my first time out with the Smut Stand here. Better = more stories, more interactions, more money (more people buying me drinks 😀 ). I have long held the idea that Berliners, in general, are massive perverts, and every person I’ve met here who has lived here for a while has disabused me of that notion.

However, this city is no different from any other: the spot has to be right. Multiple people suggest Mauerpark, a big park next to a weekend “fleamarket.” I thought sure, if that’s the only time the weather is going to be good while I’m here, but I better try it.

Well. On a sunny Sunday afternoon the foot traffic is certainly there, but as a friend of mine tentatively pointed out, a lot of people go there because they know they can get in an afternoon of cheap entertainment, e.g. people watching, drinking, and haggling over mass-produced picture frames. “You might want to operate on a sliding scale,” my friend suggested. I don’t think so, I replied to the text message, and spent my subway ride to the park fuming about cheap-ass trust-fund-baby hitchhikers.

(I stopped offering sliding scale to the general public several years ago. The spaces where the Smut Stand operates are not conducive to honesty in self-pricing, and I value my labour too much. I don’t do this to be cute, I do it to earn money, and I know what my work is worth.)

The further problem with daytime Smutting is that I must be in the shade. At night this is not a problem—instead I’m looking for good lighting during those times—but even a partly cloudy afternoon, even with decent sunblock, can leave me a little crispy fried. In this park, there simply was no place where I could take advantage of the stream of sausage grillers and sun-worshippers, be in the shade, AND STILL have my back against a wall.

So I set up on the grass underneath a partially leafed tree, everything at the Smut Stand borrowed, right down to the typewriter and the tape I used to attach the usual signage to the table. (Big thanks to Marc from Sticky Biscuits for lugging the Smut Stand gear out, and to Liliana for letting me use her typewriter.)

And then I waited. Typed a piece or two, to continue getting used to the typewriter. To be honest, that was the most frustrating part of typing yesterday, as the typewriter had several keys that stuck. Also, the z and the y were switched on this German/Czech? Keyboard. All of that slowed my typing speed down considerably.

I persevered, though, and eventually got two customers, neither of whom boggled at the (I thought reasonable) price, and both being strangely vanilla for Berlin. The older Irish expat in particular was just entranced by the whole process, and sat right down on the grass in his pinstriped suit and smoked a cigarette while answering the interview questions.

 

It could have been really lonely out there for me, but one of Sticky Biscuit’s friend circle, whom I had met at my show of Phone Whore here last Saturday, she came out to visit for a couple of hours, and even brought a cup of coffee like I begged someone to do on the event page.

(Yes, I put up an event page for the Sidewalk Smut, after Marc suggested that I do so he could share it around with his friends. Seems weird, and it’s yet another page on FB that I need to manage, but I’ll give it a shot.)

In short, 6 out of 10, would do again, in the evening on a different street.

*****

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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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