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Archive for Sidewalk Smut

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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SMUT STAND REPORT: May 29, 2015 (Bath)

WHEN: 5.5 hours (6-11:30pm), May 29, 2015. WHERE: the Bell Inn, Bath, UK. OUTPUT: three pieces of microsmut, a custom typing job (see below), one book sale, and three half-pagers, covering everything from a kinda woo-woo gay buttsex scene (very spiritual, I assure you) to the prelude to a standing fuck in a shadowy corner of a pub courtyard (huh, I wonder where that came from 😀 )

Last night reminded me of why I prefer to set up the Smut Stand in a pedestrian thoroughfare, NOT at a bar. Out on the pavement (sidewalk), I'm in one place while everyone passes me by. I get the occasional fly-by harassment, but it doesn't really matter because people are just moving on. The gazes change, and so does the energy, and I have a bit of breathing room. In the courtyard of a bar—excuse me, a pub—I'm still sitting in one place, BUT SO IS EVERYONE ELSE. They're just sitting there, scrutinizing me, staring at me. The situation is further charged up by the fact that I can hear them: THEY'RE SITTING RIGHT THERE. You'd think this would give people time to consider the purchase in a reasonable fashion, maybe get up and ask me questions, and sometimes, yes, but oh god, not always. On the street, people move along and whatever speculation they might be indulging in about my writing skills or my signage or my tits or my face, I don't hear it as the groups move on down the pavement. In a pub, DUDES I CAN TOTALLY HEAR YOU. Very unnerving at times last night. It was definitely a Friday crowd, more sexed up, arriving more as one or two people and less in groups, as the previous night's clientele had done. Oh, Thursday night, I missed you so much last night.

I think I must have been there for two hours, maybe two and a half before I got anything. I spent that time catching up on subscription smut (YES, I offer 3- and 6-month smut subscriptions, inquire within!) and noodling about with some microsmut to get myself warmed up. In bars, see, the microsmut moves faster, and it remains a genre that I am uneasy in. I did also sell a copy of Bang It Out, vol. 2, to an older gentleman who admired the whole set-up, but when I handed him the book, he said, "Oh, I am quite sure it's amazing, but I can't really read, I'm dyslexic." We chatted for a bit, and I explained the whole process to him, and he bought the book anyway. "It's my daughter's birthday," he said. "Make it out to her. She's turning 21, she'll love it."

My first commission came a little bit later, a bit of microsmut for a lady who would turn out to be a very caring presence for me there in the courtyard for the rest of the night (she had seen me the night before, and finally got up the courage, I guess). After her, things started picking up, but it remained a night full of things that I don't normally do:

  • SMUT FOR SOMEONE NOT PRESENT. The guy wanted to get a full-length piece for his best friend's 30th birthday party. He seemed honest, and I needed the money, but I was prepared to pull the plug during the interview at the first sign of someone yanking my chain. He was able to tell me quite a bit about his friend's personality and general approach to sex and women (sounded like a real salt-of-the-earth gentleman, in a decent way), and I presented him with a titty-fuck that culminated in a sneaky little finger up the birthday boy's bum. (The patron said he knew for a fact that his friend had butt plugs and used them regularly.) I am really curious how the birthday boy likes the piece, but his generous friend was thrilled and not being at all sleazy about it, so that turned out all right. I wouldn't want to make a practice of it, though.
  • TYPING RANDOM SHIT FOR PEOPLE. This guy asked if I would type up one of his poems, and showed it to me on his iphone. "It's quite rude," he said, but I shrugged. He doesn't know what "rude" is, fuck. The poem was kinda rumpety-pum, good vocabulary, crap scansion. I'm not doing that for free, I said. "I don't have 15 pounds," he said. What do you think this is worth to you? I asked; when he hesitated, I said, how about 5 pounds. Whipped that bugger out in 5 minutes. It was an ode to Satan's "bum chunder", which is apparently British slang for diarrhea. Do I care? I do not. I have done Extreme Top in all of his scatological glory. A little bit of naughty high-school verse is not going to make me swoon. Five easy pounds, I'll fucking take it.
  • SPENDING ANY TIME LISTENING TO PEOPLE HAGGLING WHO CLEARLY HAVE DIFFERENT PRIORITIES. "Five pounds? I don't have that kind of money," says the hippie dude with the feathered hat as he sat down, clutching his third pint of expensive real ale. He rummaged through his pocket. I said, no, here, I'll give you this, and handed him a bit of microsmut that I had written earlier. He said, "Wait, wait… Nope, this is all I have," and plunked down six pence on my tray table. I am not the sort of girl to throw money in a person's face, but if I were, that would be a good occasion for it. Six pence. Oh wait, that's almost a dime!
  • DOING SMUT FOR TRADE. I have occasionally swapped writing with the poets down in New Orleans, but if a rando comes up to me on the street and starts the encounter with "I'll trade you…" I hop on the Nope Rocket right away. I don't know what their skills are! Plus they're usually drunk! And while I do hope for strong and interesting encounters out there on the street, I am there to provide a paid service. So, nope! HOWEVER, last night I made an exception for doing a piece for the collective of bar staff. One of the waitresses remembered me from last year—in fact, I think she said I did a piece for her—and around 9:30 she asked if I would consider doing a piece of smut for five of the bar staff, in exchange for a pint and a shot. I said, make it a half-pint of cider and a sandwich, and you're on. That's right around the time I started getting busy, and she kept saying, "No no, take your customers!" So I didn't get cracking on that piece until after the bar was closed and they were kicking everyone out.

I lugged my shit inside, with the help of that nice lady who had been my first patron of the evening, and finished the staff piece, with the typewriter click echoing weirdly in the empty pub. Over at the counter, the bar staff and a few lingering regulars danced to music and slugged back shots or pints of this or that. (So this is the sort of thing that happens after-hours in bars! I never knew!) When I'm done, I wave to them and tell them to make ready; the group comes over to stand in front of the stage while I place my feet wide, in my smut-reciting stance, and deliver a group-sex piece that will not go down in history as one of my best offerings. What? They wanted FIVE people in it, by name, in half a page! But they fucking LOVED it.

They passed the smut around, amidst talk of framing it and hanging it in the back room, while I huddled thankfully over the feta-salad sandwich and half-pint (they happily threw in a couple of packets of crisps). That was my first food in over 12 hours. I was grateful, they were excited. Sometimes it's worth making exceptions. The night ended well.

*****

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SMUT STAND REPORT: May 28, 2015 (Bath)

WHEN: 5.5 hours (5:30-11pm), May 28, 2015. WHERE: the Bell Inn, Bath, UK. OUTPUT: six pieces of microsmut and four full-length (e.g. half-page) pieces, covering everything from an improbable simultaneous orgasm (the young man assured me he knew how to reliably do it) to a deliciously softcore frolic in a pond after hiking.

I stepped in the Bell Inn, after approximately one year away, wondering who would be here. In my admittedly limited experience of bars, staff tend to rotate through quickly and I still don't really understand the concept of regulars and having a "local". However, within the first 10 minutes, I got really clear on all of that. I was greeted by a bartender who totally remembered me, and promised to let the new manager what was up. When I set up out in the back garden, the young woman at the nearest table turned and stared. "You're back!" she said. Yes? I said. "You wrote an amazing piece for me last year! I'm going to want another one!" Minutes later, an older woman walked up and said, "Good to see you!" I remembered her from last year; I wrote a nicely kinky camping story for her and her (now ex-)boyfriend. "Yeah, he dumped me," she said, and shrugged. "He doesn't know what he had!" And then my first customer of the night stepped up, a young woman with long dark hair and amazing green woolen vintage trousers. "I walked by you last year," she said, "and I didn't stop, and I always wondered what I had missed. Not this time!"

She was sitting with a group of friends, and her purchase set the ball rolling: three more of them ended up getting microsmut, too, including a birthday girl and a lanky young man who confessed to me that he was experimenting with channeling his sexual energy away from masturbating into non-sexual creative endeavors, like launching his own music label (I think that's what he said, I was still kinda stunned by the detail he went into behind the masturbation-channeling).

This peer pressure cascade effect is absolutely a thing in bar environments, and last night, wow. A little later, a friendly businessman, I think in his mid- to late 30s, peeled away from another table of friends and asked me what I was up to. He sprung for a full-length, and then when everyone else at the table wanted to see the result, he told them no, but that if they bought their own, that he would trade views with them. I AM TOTALLY STEALING THAT SUGGESTION, because four more of them decided to go for pieces. Toward the end they were crowd-funding a little bit, but they pulled it together.

In strange/awkward news, though, I ended up having to do a re-write last night, for one of the customers at that table. She had said in her interview that she liked to role-play sometimes, with older, more assertive guys, who knew what they were doing and would tell her what to do. I gave her a contained start of a scene, with a strong narrative arc, rather than a more in-the-moment, impressionistic piece, like the ones I had written for her colleagues. Nope. Didn't fly. They were all discussing their pieces while I was working on the last one, and I could hear her discontent. So I went over afterward and said, seriously, I have a money-back guarantee. I can rewrite for you or give you your money back, or give you a copy of my book. She was embarrassed, but I insisted on making it right. We did a follow-up interview, clarified a few points, and the second attempt she was thrilled with. I'm not sure what happened, if I lost my focus or was getting tired—it was approaching the end of the night—but that was a highly salutary and humbling reminder. I can NEVER phone this in, and I need to get my strategies in place to stay fresh and focused.

*******

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