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Archive for Sidewalk Smut

SMUT STAND REPORT: August 17, 2015 (Edinburgh, UK)

WHEN: 3 hours (3-6pm), August 17, 2015. WHERE: On Grassmarket, Edinburgh, UK. OUTPUT: five full-length pieces, including one each for a pair of sisters (they didn't witness each other's interviews, but wound up with mostly the same tastes); a cowgirl scene for a short, plump middle-aged lady in a pantsuit who was THRILLED by the whole process; and a vicious little "plow position" piece for a young (subby) woman who didn't look old enough to know about any of that stuff, but when she opened her mouth and started talking about it, then, yes, clearly she well knows her thing.

I haven't written a Smut Stand report in over a week, but let me assure you, I'm out there, every fucking day from 2 or 3pm to 6pm, when I have to close up shop and get ready for my show at 7:05. This is really the only way I promote my shows here in Edinburgh. Some days I get no paying customers but a lot of brochures flying into hands; other days it's all business and fewer brochures. The dueling demands of Smut Stand at a festival—promote the show, and then actually make some grocery money—can be tricky, but really, I just enjoy talking with people about sex, whichever way the interaction goes.

I do wish there was some way for me to better sell to the people who come up while I'm working on something else and don't have time to wait. Like, they say they'll look for me on another day, but I know I'm losing some of them. Maybe I could have a little display scrapbook of "off-the-rack" microsmut that people could flip through and purchase for £5. Hmm. Gotta find more ways to make impulse buys easier!

Sometimes it takes a while for a location to wake up to the fact that I'm there; I mean, usually it takes at least 20-30 minutes before someone steps up and orders something, sometimes as long as an hour. Yesterday I didn't even have a chance to roll the first sheet of paper in for the first warm-up piece, before a young woman from Chicago stepped and said, "I'm in." She and her younger sister had seen my show in the program book already, and when they saw the stand, she knew right away that she had to do it. Some people are like that. Her sister had been a little more tentative, but I guess when she saw how happy her big sis was with her piece, she didn't want to be left out.

The best part of today's session was both a properly festive sale—one couple in a straight, double-date group bought a commissioned work for the other couple to celebrate their 25th anniversary—AND a learning moment for me. The woman in the couple used a wheelchair, and I found myself having to think very rapidly about what was the relevant information that I needed, and what would be the best way to ask the questions to get that information. This lady had clearly lived a while with her condition; her matter-of-fact attitude about the information that I needed pretty much mirrored my matter-of-fact demeanor when asking the other questions, the sex stuff that made her blush a little. She had some kind of disease that was getting worse over time; it weakened her, and on some days, like yesterday, she had a struggle to even move her arms. So her husband needed to move her into position, and he needed to do all the hard work. "I get to just lie back," she said with a smirk. "Oh, and we do like 69, but he has to be on top, of course."

She liked the outdoors, but the wheelchair made that really difficult now, she said, so I placed the scene in their enormous backyard, with him rigging up a special sex hammock, sitting on a stool between her legs, then eating her out until she dripped on the grass.

That was a fun piece to work on.

*****

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SMUT STAND REPORT: August 9, 2015 (Edinburgh, UK)

WHEN: 3.5 hours (2:30-6pm), August 9, 2015. WHERE: On Grassmarket, Edinburgh, UK. OUTPUT: one full-length piece for an older gentleman who thought his girlfriend would fancy it, but had a REALLY hard time articulating what they liked to do. I ended up giving him a medium-core cowgirl scene, and broke my own rule about including proper names, because fuck it, I needed the money.

Out here in Edinburgh Fringe, Smut Stand usually goes one of two ways: lots of business and fewer flyers out, or lots of flyers and less business. This day was one of the latter. There are always people who are running off to try to catch a show, or eat some dinner—I cannot argue with people for custom porn over self-care, especially in the middle of the festival!—but when they tell me they will TOTALLY find me later, I kinda roll my eyes, even while I am grinning at them and thanking them. 95 percent of them will not make it back, and that's okay. They got one of my brochures anyway, and the remaining fanatical five percent? Will find me repeatedly, and bring their friends.

Yesterday really was a day to remember what the Smut Stand originally was meant to do: promote my shows and me. With the pull-up poster behind me, it cannot fail, at least in terms of public visibility. There are points, at about my 10:30/1:30 positions, as people are walking past me and they cross those lines, when they become aware of me, and look at me. It's a little cone of awareness, starting with me and radiating outwards, that affects maybe 90 percent of the passersby (and 100 percent of the people sitting out on the terraces). If they are by themselves they may smile or grimace, but if they are with someone else, inevitably they will read one of my signs out loud and start discussing it. When I'm out there, there's a constant hum, rising and falling—there on Grassmarket it depends a lot on whether the buskers have just wound up their acts, which means a bunch of people suddenly are out on the pavement again—but it's always there, a susurrus of "smut while you… abrupt erotica, what does that… smut… did you see that?… smut while you wait… I want that!... oh my god… erotica… smut while you…" It's funny to hear!

I met some fun folks out there yesterday, including a German woman who had seen slut (r)evolution the night before and was so excited to have seen a show that dealt with bisexuality at all. We talked about the feminist scene in Berlin, and she gave me the name of the most-read German feminist blog that she said I must get in touch with when I tour there in 2017. I also met two couples from Ludlow! (WUT.) I didn't recognize them, but they recognized me, said they had been volunteers there, so they hadn't had the chance to see my shows. (Of course they got a flyer. "Now's your chance to catch up!")

My one commission? He made me sad. Not the writing part or even the interview part, that was very straightforward. He was a simple man with simple pleasures: drunk sex with his girlfriend.

What positions?

"Uh…"

Okay, um, do you like cowgirl?

"That's where she's on top, right?"

Yes.

"Aye, that's good."

And what else?

"She likes my knob."

Does she? Excellent!

… and so on. I wrested the information I needed from him, got his money, took his mobile number so I could text him when it was time to pick it up, but when I texted him… no response. Twice I texted him, and then, after 45 minutes I had to leave and get ready for my show. I HATE it when that happens; I feel like that's confirming their worst suspicions about street performers, but DUDE, I read your number back to you! Either he was too drunk and switched a digit, or he just ignored my texts. <sigh> This means I have to carry around his piece in an envelope for the rest of the Fringe, in case he turns up and demands it.

Fucker.

*****

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SMUT STAND REPORT: July 18, 2015 (Manchester, UK)

WHEN: 6 hours (4-10pm), July 18, 2015. WHERE: On Thomas Street near Kelvin Street (across from Cane&Grain bar), the Northern Quarter, Manchester, UK. OUTPUT: two pieces of microsmut and three full-length pieces, including one soft-core early morning fuck against the dresser and a hardcore camping story about what happens when the woman is on top and the fire has died low.

Tonight was the night I was going to try staying out a little later. I was going to brave the wilds of Saturday night on Thomas Street, I was going to edge out of my comfort zone a little… I shouldn't have set so early. The problem is, I keep thinking that I really would rather talk to people on the more sober end of the spectrum. I think I need to admit that the bulk of my patrons, in every location I've ever done, have had at least one drink in them; it is also possible that British people need a few drinks in them more than most, in order to even consider getting a piece of smut done, because the late afternoon shift, even on a Saturday, just isn't cracking here.

I started out with a microsmut piece from a man who had been in a group of men staring at me from the window of one of the bars facing my stop. I got the feeling that the group had been daring each other for an hour to go out and get something done—at least two members of that group came up separately and asked me the same questions, about what the fuck I was doing—and he got the short straw to actually go through the process. He didn't feel that interested or excited in our consultation; to be honest, his eyes were a little dead, and I didn't think that he was giving me the real truth about what he wanted. Like, he said he wanted a softcore piece because he'd be sharing it with his girlfriend, but he totally had the vibe of someone more on the medium-hard end of things. I think he would have enjoyed the process a lot more, if he had just said, "Fuck it, I'm going for hardcore." I know I would have enjoyed it more.

Thankfully, the vibe picked right back up with my second customer, a tall, scruffy-faced ginger fellow wearing a precisely tailored jacket, shirt, and tie on top, and Daisy Dukes and some high, HIGH heels on the bottom. GodDAMN, he had long legs. Yes, he was the star of a stag party. His friends were being so pushy about it, I thought he would end up opting out entirely, but eventually they came back and he said yes, he was down for it. His friends needed a LOT of sternness to get them to bugger off during the consultation, but thankfully the groom-to-be was almost entirely sober and did the work. He was an ideal customer, actually: held good eye contact, answered the questions thoughtfully, didn't over-explain. He was an absolutely trustworthy respondent in every way, so much so that when he came back out of Cane&Grain to collect his smut, I asked him to watch the stand while I popped in to use the bathroom. Finding someone to trust with my kit while I take a pee break is not easy, let me tell you! When I meet someone who feels safe, I make myself go pee, because who knows when I'll get that chance again?

The next full-length customer was moderately amusing—the couple had completely forgotten that it was their five-year wedding anniversary, until the man's parents had given them a card yesterday—but there was definitely a lot of downtime between customers. At several points in the evening I did an income-to-time spent analysis in my head. My average income per hour declines with each passing minute that I get no commissions, and at a certain point I need to pull the plug.

And too, the way that British people seem to go out, at least in these heavily clubby districts, is a serious trial to my soul. It's almost always single-gender groups, men and women completely segregated. (What is that about, holdovers from single-gender schooling?) And then in this particular spot, I am in direct line of view of two bars, where people have had a couple of hours to suck down drinks and speculate about me. When they finally get up the nerve to come over and ask, they come in a fucking group. THEY SWARM. Tonight a group of seven men came swaggering over en masse, clearly determined to Find Out What The Actual Fuck (and ogle my tits, of course). Before they could even open their mouths, I said, hey guys, you understand that, for a woman in my position, having an army of men push in close like this is actually kind of awful, can you please step back? To their credit, they did.

I was glad I stuck around though, because a young man who had been watching me from the other bar across the street, stepped up while I was doing a quickie piece of microsmut, asked to be texted when I became available for the next consultation, and generally displayed all of the important signs of interest and earnestness of intent. He was SERIOUS, and when we started talking it become clear why. He's a German lad, a professor here of some sort, in a long-distance relationship with a young woman back in Berlin. They were approaching their one-year anniversary and he wanted to send her a little surprised love-letter packet, and include a piece of smut in it. (Everyone together: AWWWWWWW.) They had met while he was an adjunct in her college course; I asked whether they had ever role-played the whole teacher-student thing, and he cracked a shy grin and bobbed his head up and down: "Oh, yes!"

I asked if they talked or made a lot of noise during sex, and he said no, they couldn't. His girlfriend was living in a student dwelling with very thin walls. He went on to tell me that this building had actually been converted into a dorm; previously it had been a sex club for American officers stationed there after World War II. … I know, right? The things I learn doing the Smut Stand!

The whole time I was working on his piece, though, I could tell that it was time to pick up and get out. The roving gangs of lads had gotten bored with the skateboard demo a block away and were pushing past the stand in ever-increasing numbers. The girl gangs (the hen parties) were starting to get up in my face too. I've said before that I pack up when things get weird, and I never know the exact time that's going to be, but I identified another red flag for myself last night: the moment when someone leans over and randomly hits one of my keys as they swing past the stand. That is the moment. That is my number-one red flag that my moment to depart the scene has arrived. It is a sign, before anything gets actually violent or rape-y, that there are people on the street who are happy to carelessly violate my work space and touch my property without asking. That is a sign that it is time to go.

*****

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SMUT STAND REPORT: July 17, 2015 (Manchester, UK)

WHEN: 4.5 hours (3:30-8pm), July 17, 2015. WHERE: On Thomas Street near Kelvin Street (across from Cane&Grain bar), the Northern Quarter, Manchester, UK. OUTPUT: two pieces of microsmut and two full-length pieces.

I set up too damn early, for starters. The shop fittings store that I had picked as "my spot" was still unloading things out of the other door, and the first hour of pedestrians was still obviously stuck in business/travel/gotta-catch-my-train mode. (As someone pointed out to me the day before, Thomas Street is a major channel for people on their way to and from Piccadilly Station.) But, I had committed, so I just pounded away for an hour. There were already some dedicated young drinking lads at Cane&Grain across the way; they had the veneer of hipsters, but they were definitely lads, they weren't blasé enough to be hipsters. Their determined regard gave me that nice zoo-specimen feeling, as they just sat there and looked aggressively at me, but as I always say about situations like that: FUCK 'EM. If they can't get off their asses and bring their impertinent questions and lifted eyebrows 25 feet across the street, then they deserve to be permanently befuddled for the rest of their active sex lives. (This is the Sidewalk Pornographer's Curse.)

I would have to be superhuman to not let the vibe of a slow Smut Stand affect me, though. When it is slow going, or the wind keeps whipping up the signage to get in the way of my typing, or I'm just getting a lot of attitude from a table of gawkers… yeah, I feel that. But I got a nice moment of uplift after an hour of emotional trudging when a straight couple bounced up to my table: "What are you doing here?" These people had ordered a piece of microsmut from me last year in Edinburgh, when they had only been going out for two months! Oddly enough, I didn't remember them, but I remembered the microsmut.

They wanted to get another little bit—"this time I'm going to frame it," said the woman—and while we were talking, a young lady walked up and was listening in. "I walked by here yesterday and wanted to talk, but you were busy," she said. "I write for an online magazine, and I am totally curious!" I got her number and texted her later, when I was free. Quick little interview on the pavement, some photos, and she even bought herself a full-length piece of smut. I hope you're making the magazine pay for that, I said. "Hell yes I am," she said and laughed.

Anyway, hopefully the interview comes out on Monday (Manchester Confidential), in time for it to do me some good in terms of promoting my shows in Manchester this coming Wednesday through Friday. Hopefully even a quarter of the people who take my flyers from the Smut Stand will come out to the shows. I mean, that's basically why I started doing the Smut Stand in the first place, lo these 4.5 years ago.

Got one more commission for microsmut--doggy-style with some neck-biting--and then there was another empty hour. Not entirely empty. I had a couple of nice encounters with curious passersby, one of whom was a feminist former theatre professor, who was immediately intrigued by the title of my show, and then when she learned that I was going to Edinburgh, stood there on the pavement reminiscing about taking student groups to EdFringe 25 years prior. She was a SUPER sweet older lady, and didn't blink an eye about my content warnings, and I _really_ hope she comes to my show.

People are funny about commissions, let me say. Some people need to walk by me two or three times before they work up enough nerve to stop and ask me what the hell I'm doing; other people pass me, go 10 feet, stop and turn around, and then march right up to me and say, "I'll take it, whatever you're selling, whatever the price, I'll do it." My last customers for the night, a straight couple, were the latter types. They were surprisingly shy as I started into the interview, considering how quickly they had decided to get the smut in the first place, but they warmed up and I got a nice sloppy 69 scene done up for them, completely with a subtle ass-play reference. Hooray, ass-play!

I wanted to stay out a little later, I was definitely starting to get more folks approaching toward the end of the shift, but it was actually getting a little cold AND the people approaching were getting more confrontational. When I publicize my smut stand hours, I usually say something like "6pm until it starts getting weird," which isn't helpful to other people, but it's a good internal guideline for myself. I mean, I can tell when it's getting weird enough to quit. So I did.

******

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SMUT STAND REPORT: July 16, 2015 (Manchester, UK)

WHEN: 3.5 hours (7-10:30pm), July 16, 2015. WHERE: On Thomas Street near Kelvin Street (across from Cane&Grain bar), the Northern Quarter, Manchester, UK. OUTPUT: two pieces of microsmut, three full-length pieces, and a photo op from a fellow American, a lovely gray-haired lady from New York who was cycling over to Liverpool the next day.

The last time I did Sidewalk Smut in Manchester, I had set up in Canal Street, Manchester's gaybourhood. That experience really rubbed me the wrong way; that little stretch of gay has been drawing raucous hen parties—and therefore groups of straight lads, too—for years, which means declining quality for both Mancunian gay men and for me. Hen parties make terrible customers, and lads just leer, so I was desperately seeking a spot in Manchester where I could actually make my Smut Stand work.

On the advice of a few Manchester friends, this year I checked out a part of the Northern Quarter, Manchester's … hipster borough? I dunno, that's what everyone said, and when I went to check out one specific street someone mentioned (Stevenson Square, and then wandered up Thomas Street), sure enough, there were plenty of beards and quirky hats and vintage dresses paired with converse sneakers and sidewalk cafe tables to go around. And yes, I actually did go out there the night before to check out the vibe, a luxury that I wish I always had. It was just too long of a haul on the bus and walking to drag the Smut Stand out to a spot, sight unseen.

On my scouting night, a Wednesday between 8:45 and 9:30, the stretch of street that I was eyeballing already had crowds spilling out of two different bars and onto the pavement, so I was concerned that it would devolve into a bad patch on the weekends, and determined to keep my hours early, something like 6 to 10pm. Unfortunately, the night I was taking my stand out, I just got a late start. I got out there closer to 7pm, and held my breath a little. I always get nervous trying out a new spot, always always always. The Smut Stand is such a weird little phenomenon, and while mostly the response is good, there's always a chance that a neighborhood will turn on me, that people in a city actually aren't that hip with it (hello, Cincinnati!), that bar patrons in that neighborhood will be terrible mean drunks (hello, Exeter!). I feel so vulnerable, sitting there and looking "normal", all the while keeping my eyes and ears peeled and just not knowing.

Well, the nerves faded after about 20 minutes, once I got my lipstick on and started typing. First customer I thought was going to be trouble; he was already kinda drunk, in that slow-blinking smiling sort of way, and his answers to my interview questions were… conflicting. Like, he said he was doing it to share with his girlfriend of 10 years, and therefore it should be more soft-core, but then he said "pain" when I asked "pain or no pain." I asked him then if he was into pain actually, and he thought for a moment and then shook his head with a guilty smile. Did the same thing with the public/private option, too, choosing what is normally the more hardcore option, and then confessing afterward that it wasn't something he had done before or was particularly interested in.

I got stern with the customer for a moment, took his money, and started thinking—like, I wasn't even sure that he had a girlfriend, maybe he just wanted a joke piece that he would share with his mates—but then he came back out of the bar with a lady, who waved at me and then came over and introduced herself as his girlfriend of 10 years—yes, I asked, for corroboration purposes—and filled in some of the holes in his interview for me. I had just finished with her intake interview when her boyfriend came running out of the bar. "I just wanted to tell you how happy I am, that you're right here, in my town," he said. What? I said. "Oh, I've read about you on Twitter, I've read all about you, I thought you looked familiar, and I just can't believe that you're right here, in front of me, doing a piece for me!" I tried to figure out exactly what he had read about me, and where; I thought maybe he had seen the thing on Reddit last fall, my picture that went semi-viral. I still don't know, but it's interesting to consider the paths of word of mouth.

I got to do a piece for one young man who actually came back in response to my text notification—this doesn't always happen—AND he gave me some great fem-domme-y preferences to work with. Fem-domme or male-sub options get so little play out here on the street, and the reverse, the more dominant male, is so common as to be a cliché; I don't know if it's because it's actually less common or because men are so socialized to be embarrassed about stuff like that, like, it's a negative mark against their masculinity. ANYWAY, got a chance to work with some of those themes.

OOOH, and my third commission was for customers who were on their FIRST DATE. People who do Sidewalk Smut on their first date are a special kind of brave, and this couple was no exception. They did tend to over-explain their answers, but I figured that was first-date nerves and more for each other's sake and not for mine, so I let them ramble. The guy was joking about reading their smut at the wedding reception. I couldn't tell how into that idea she was, but I did tell them to look me up on Facebook if everything, you know, worked out.

*******

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SMUT STAND REPORT: June 14, 2015 (Ludlow, UK)

See the transcript below; this photo is shite, sorry.

See the transcript below; this photo is shite, sorry.

WHEN: 1.5 hours (2:30-4:15pm), June 14, 2015. WHERE: Courtyard of Chang Thai, Ludlow, UK. OUTPUT: one tip sheet.

I returned to the scene of last year's oddly successful Smut Stand, even though I knew business wouldn't be as good, since the owner of Chang Thai, who had been so diligent about promoting my smut to his patrons last year, was not on site; he had opened up a new pub the day before and had been over there non-stop since I arrived in town. People had also predicted that the new pub, the Blue Boar, would pull some of the normal business away from Chang Thai, so I had already decided that I would have to try a shift or two at the Blue Boar, just to find where the people would be. But I wanted to give it a go at Chang Thai, for old times' sake.

No smut session is a failure where I get at least a couple of people taking cards; by that low, I mean, attainable standard, I did all right. My posters had been up for a couple of days already, so I was starting to get noticed. Visibility is not readily quantifiable, but it does add up. One well-sauced birthday party/"hens night" almost ordered something, but there was a lot of "she needs one" "no, you get one", and in the end it came to nothing.

Then a young woman came up, porn-star beautiful and smiling wide. She and her boyfriend had already walked by me a couple of times for drinks and food ordering. They had asked for a card in there somewhere, but now she came up by herself. "Do you teach people how to do dirty talk?" I have done, I said, wondering where she was going with this. "I do webcam stuff and phone sex, and I could really use some tips. I don't need a story, but maybe you could write me up a few ideas?" AH. Huh. Was this… a consultation?

I told her that I also did phone work, and we indulged in a bit of water-cooler chat. She's been doing phone work for just under a year, and she said she still had challenging moments. And then I said, well, I could do you a half-page tip sheet, but I couldn't do it for free. We settled on £10 on a fair price (I figured this was less creative work than my normal wares, and you know, industry discount...), and then I asked her what were the sorts of things that she found challenging in her work. Keeping the caller on the phone, she said, and the domination calls. "It's not something that comes naturally to me, you know?" Oh yes, I said and laughed. I know.

The tip sheet came out very easily; I think about my work a lot, and even though I may not have laid them out explicitly before, it seems I do have, well, not scripts, but strategies. When I read the tip sheet to her, my PSO patron was very enthusiastic about the content. And I had a great time standing over by their table afterward, laughing really loudly about inside-joke situations. She and her boyfriend said they usually come into a town and look for the sleaziest place or event they can go to. "We saw your poster, and we said, that's the one." Thanks? I guess? Anyway, they ended up buying tickets for my Friday night show, which means, though I hadn't made much money at all, my short afternoon of smutting was nonetheless a success.

TRANSCRIPT OF THE DOMINANCE TIPS:

HOW TO KEEP THE GUTTER FLOWING

They want you to dominate, but that doesn't mean you need to dominate the conversation. Asking the right questions is the best way to expand the encounter and give you the information you need to really give them a satisfying experience. Things like:

"What have you done to get ready for me?"

(gotten naked, shaved themselves, put on some pretty knickers, gotten the toys out… Whatever they answer, as them questions about that. Make them give you the details that are important to them.)

"What do you do with other dominatrixes?"
(Maybe they have real-life experience that you can grill them about. Maybe they have no experience, but they've watched some porn or have a favorite fem-dom website. Ask them straight up to tell you about what they watch, and to describe how they jerk off. It's that little touch of humiliation, having to lay everything out for you.

"How do you think you can please me?"
(In their fantasy, they will do whatever you tell them to, but in reality they probably have one thing, or one very specific set of things, that they are interesting in doing for you, and they are not actually doing this for _you_, but for themselves. Get them to tell you what they want, by phrasing it as you assessing their offering. Of course whatever they say is exactly what you want, but they don't need to know that. Hint that you are hard to please, and their answer may not please you.)

Other useful approaches:

  • Make them do specific tasks. Depending on their other answers, you can give them step-by-step instructions in some activity that fits the fantasy. If they want to be told how to masturbate, tell them, and make them spend a decent amount of time on each new touch or stroke. If they like to cross dress, have them describe the outfits, put them on (describing the sensations), look at themselves in the mirror and tell you what they look like, maybe tug or manipulate an article of clothing to give themselves a wedge or show more cleavage.
  • Check in with them often, with the right tone of voice. "how hard is your dick right now?" "Are you having a hard time standing in those heels, you little sissy?" "You're still on your knees, right? I didn't say you could get up yet." With all questions, make sure you give them at least a little time to respond.
  • Work on your evil laugh, and use that to buy yourself extra time to figure out what to do next.

*****

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SMUT STAND REPORT: June 6, 2015 (Exeter, UK)

WHEN: 5.25 hours (2:45-5:30pm and 9-11:30pm), June 6, 2015. WHERE: corner of Gandy and Little Queen streets, Exeter, UK. OUTPUT: 2 full-lengths and one micro (first shift), four micros (second shift), from some rough sex on a picnic table for a young couple moving in together to a lyrical lead-up to a blow-job for a couple on their first date (I somehow felt a little involved in anything that might have happened for them that night).

I have never set up shop as a double-header before, or split shift, if you prefer to think of it that way, and I probably never will again. I got a bit of business in the afternoon, with a lot of interest in the show, but the spot I had found for the afternoon had a dead zone of two or three hours, so I rushed back to my billet, roasted a chicken for the rest of my dinners here, and then raced to get back in time for a few more hours. I had high hopes for the evening, since I would be back next to the gay bar, at a time when it was actually getting patrons, and usually gay bars feel like a safer place to be near. It wasn't that I expected to get a lot of takers for my flyers, but since I hadn't set up the stand on the night that I arrived in town, I was down one day's worth of smutting and felt some financial urgency to catch up. I did catch up, but had to take a bit of psychological pummeling to get there.

For starters, when I set back up in the same spot, a … fellow busker? I guess?… who I had passed in the narrow alley on my way from the high street to my target corner, came up and accused me of horning in on his pitch. I immediately felt guilty, but then caught myself and analyzed the actual situation: he was sitting more than 100 feet away, on the other side of a busy intersection, playing the same four chords on a harmonica over and over. No one stakes out a pitch that big, not without flaming torches or chainsaws involved. I knew this, but still, my ever-lurking angst about being a carpet-bagger took a while to recede.

And then the front-door staff at the gay bar was surprisingly ambivalent about my presence. I was a good 20 feet down from their entrance, but was getting side-eye from door staff all night. No one said anything directly, but every now and then I heard bits of conversation they were having about me, and it was not a positive vibe. I should have come up and talked to them when I first approached, but i was far enough away that I thought it was out of their sphere of influence. Apparently not.

All this to say that it would really easy to get all woo-woo about the weirdness of the night, like, maybe I deserved the flak that I got, that it was a message from the neighborhood's collective psyche that I shouldn't be there, but for fuck's sake, if I pulled the Smut Stand down any time I got any funny looks, I'd never set it up anywhere. So, I just kept breathing and started typing, and eventually got a few customers, a couple of really nice ones, actually. The couple moving in together said they were going to frame their piece, which is always very flattering to hear.

I said "weirdness of the night"; it wasn't that weird, actually, compared to shit that has gone down on, say, Frenchmen Street in New Orleans. It was just the first time I have done night-time smut in the UK since my first Edinburgh Fringe in 2013, when I didn't know any better and tried to do late-night work in Cowgate. Why didn't I remember that shit-show before setting up here in Exeter? Because BOY HOWDY, British drunks are lousy fucking drunks. Sorry, my British friends, but I have been in party neighborhoods on two continents, and British drunks are, by and large, mean fuckers. The lads get exponentially laddier, and the birds get super nasty—plus they don't know how to walk in these uber-high heels—and everyone is going about getting drunk in this really stolid, determined way, not like they are having a good time, but like it's a civic responsibility. It is extremely unpleasant to be in the middle of. And the drunk switch happened suddenly on this night. One minute people were walking around normally, just looking where to start out the night, and then the next minute, right around 9:45 or 10, everyone was WASTED, the collective blood alcohol level just SKYROCKETED.

So, as you might imagine, the douchiness was unparalleled by anything I had ever experienced before. The real trough of the evening, I mean, the real swill-filled low, was when three guys came up and were asking me about the stand. The fact that they kept interrupting me while I was going through the quick details gave me that bright red flag, a signal that I should brush them off quickly and completely, but before I could do it, one guy pulled out a handful of change and asked what 20 pence would get him.

Nothing, I said.

"Okay, will £1.45 would get me laid?"

I beg your pardon?

"Will £1.45 get me laid?"

Not by me, it won't.

"You wouldn't let me fuck you for £1.45?"

At that point I just stared at him, waiting for him to catch himself and mumble an apology, but he didn't. "Don't give me those eyes," he said. I wanted to say something really cutting, but I didn't feel confident that the bouncers at the gay bar would actually have my back, so instead I pulled out my phone and was getting ready to take a photo of the offender. He thought I was calling the cops, and chose that moment to grab his mates and wander off, muttering some insults about me.

That's when I knew it was time to go. The vibe was not going to improve as the night wore on, and even with this season's slightly raised rates, I don't get paid enough for that shit.

*****

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