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.”
“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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