X

Tagged personal life

Browsing all posts tagged with personal life

relearning to play the monogamy game

Two years ago I was still writing, at length and in various places, how polyamory felt like the right path for me. I was busily engaged in setting up some kind of love network—the “sailor in every port” model, I called it—and was having a few fun and interesting encounters as I traveled, and came back to a couple of more “steady” lovers during the winter months, and it felt fine.

Included among my sailors was a special man here in the UK, who I fell entirely in love with. Originally I had intended to simply make space for him in my “inner circle,” but after some time building a relationship with him I realized that there was no one else in that inner circle anymore. Not only that, but about a year ago I realized that I wasn’t even remotely romantically interested in anyone else, in any circle, at any level. I met up with past lovers during that strange emotional fugue period, and just could not find the sparks again. My mind said, wait, but polyamory, but my body and heart had flown to him and I could not coax them back.

But this sudden swing, this flip of the switch, felt just … impossible. I was almost angry with myself, and spent a fair amount of time poking away at my psyche. I was disturbed that somehow, after sacrificing so much and working so hard at building a life around ethical non-monogamy, my curiously meandering path had led me to an intense and important relationship that was the only place I wanted to put my heart and sex and everything.

How fucking retrograde, I thought as I beat myself up some more.

I still tried to fight it for a little while. I corresponded with a few people on OKC, met up with a couple of 'em, even. But making myself go on dates that I didn’t want, purely out of political convictions, didn’t feel fair to me or to the other person. And when I tried holding hands with soon-to-be-former lovers, it felt… friendly, but not sexual in the slightest.

Fortunately, at some point in my angst-ridden veer into romantic mono-vision, I started connecting the dots between this most recent sea change and my similarly unsettling shift at the age of 28, when my sexual focus widened dramatically to include cisgender dudes again. After 8 years with a woman, I had been crushed; I felt betrayed by my desires, and felt as though I was betraying everyone else. Follow your bliss, is what I said to myself. I said it like a prayer, held onto it like a lifeline. There was no going back on what I knew, no denying what my heart and body said.

Follow your bliss. It helped me come to terms with wanting dudes with dicks again, and the same affirmation kicked in for this new development as well. I was able to relax into this new facet of myself, but only after exoticizing the fuck out of it. Seems I still can’t stand the default, really, so he and I had to make my monogamy kinky, a cross between chastity games, tease & denial, and playing house.

The fact that I chose this way of being with my partner, in spite of the long separations that still remain, helps me to feel more comfortable in this new desire. Making radical monogamy part of our play, rather than absorbing it whole-cloth into my identity, means that when things shift again—as they surely will—I hopefully will have more stable ground to stand on. The change will feel less like a tsunami, and more like a swing. Yes, it can hurt if I fall off, but it’s not the end of my self.

Besides which, this new “monogamy” game super-charges the time in between, and fits extraordinarily well in our 24/7 dynamic. When my partner and I do get together, and I present him my carefully banked desire like a gift, the way that he accepts it and gives his own to me feels like divine confirmation that my choice this time, for now, is good.

*****

There is nothing new under the sun; I'm just trying to get at a different angle. If you appreciate the work that I'm doing, in writing, performing, and just "putting it out there" in the world, please consider becoming a patron of mine on Patreon.

FROM THE FUCKBUCKET: “Watching/being watched?”

Watching/being watched?

Such a seemingly simple, seemingly binary question to pull out of the Fuckbucket a couple of weeks ago. In the heat of the moment, with fifty people laughing, I went straight for the answer that made the most immediate sense. Watched, of course. I want to be doing, I said. I want to be throwing the goddamn party, or at least be an integral part of it.

But it’s not that simple, this question and sex, the sex that I like to have, at least. Yes, I want to be watched, but whoever is doing the sex with me, their watching me is the most important. And yes, I want to be watched, but you best believe I have my eyes open at least part of the time, and that a good part of my pleasure is gained from watching my lover watching me, an echoing eyeful of erotic bliss, an “I-know-you-know-I-know-you-know exactly how much I love this” moment.

Watching, you see, is not a passive thing. Those of us in live performance know this, that the quality of observation can be quite different between two people sitting right there in the same row. One person is seeing you only. You may be shimmying or orating or slamming down a prop right there and they are seeing that happen, but it’s a surface sense, a passive view. They won’t remember 30 minutes after they leave the room what you were doing. And then the other person. They’re seeing you, too, but they’re watching as well, actively engaged. They may be leaning forward, even, craning to hear every word, and you can see in their reactions, their facial expressions, that they are right there with you.

Before I understood the different kinds of viewing energy in theatre, I knew about them in sex. Or maybe it was sex performance. Here, let me explain:

When I used to go around to the Power Exchange in San Francisco—when I lived two and a half blocks away and it was an easy walk over, even in high heels—I would occasionally climb up into a sex sling in the basement areas and masturbate, separated by a chain-link fence from a stream of mostly naked humanity. I was new to kink and fetish, and newly discovering cock, and this just seemed like a good, safe way of getting to explore a bit of both.

Even in the dim basement lighting, I could mostly see the men who stopped to jerk off in front of my “station,” and mostly they were just staring right into my cunt, seeing that display, watching my fingers move. I liked this okay, but I was always looking for someone who could manage to set up a visual connection, eye-to-eye, without words AND while tracking all the activity happening in that sex sling at once.

These people could watch my face, gaze into my eyes, and then tear away from the eye contact to look back at what my fingers. And I in turn could see their cocks get harder as they jerked it, seemingly transfixed, for the moment, by my pussy pounding activity. But they always managed to tear themselves away, look back into my eyes, see me get excited and then that in turn, back and forth, watching and watched… only a handful of people of the hundreds who passed me during the eight months i hung out at the Power Exchange ever stepped into that connection, but it was beautiful when it happened, so I didn’t mind the rarity.

Watching/being watched?

Actually, now that I think about it, I want both.

*****

Keep the Cameryn Moore machine chugging along by becoming a patron of mine over on Patreon! Your per-piece pledge becomes part of the pool in which my little shows and big plans survive and thrive.

Fringe essays and origin stories

Fringe season has started, and with Fringe come the requests from publications who want to look like they’re being oh-so-active in covering Fringe productions, but all they’re basically doing is sending us lists of awkward/precious questions to answer and email back to them.

It’s Fringe essay season, in other words. I’m never in the mood for it, because who has time to introspect about process at the point when we're done creating and have actual performing to get through? But the truth is, these “interviews” offer us artists the best chance of getting our own actual words into the piece, and I have to really think about what it is that I do. It’s remarkably clarifying!

For example, this fellow in Edinburgh runs something he calls the Dramaturgy Database. One question there is: How did you become interested in making performance? It's good for me, right now, when I'm struggling to establish myself in a new location... It's good for me to remember my roots.

I first started creating works for plus-sized dancers 16 years ago, because I had started dancing myself and was tired of feeling completely left out of the creative and performance part of the dance world. After the very first dance recital I was in, at the age of 28, I was told that I had a very compelling stage presence. I had had so much fun creating a couple of partner moves with one of the other dancers, and that experience of creation, combined with the positive reinforcement of that praise and the adrenaline rush of the performance itself, led me to want more.

Over the course of the next years, my works for the company went into more narrative-driven pieces—dance musicals with a plot—and at the same time I began working as a phone-sex operator. I found myself wanting to write a solo play about that, because my experience as an actual sex worker was not really represented well out there in the performance world. (Again, representation matters.) When I toured Phone Whore and found that people wanted to hear what I had to say, and that I was good at it, a whole new world opened up.

Now, sever years after that first terrifying tour of Phone Whore, it's very clear that I love performing. I've also realized that part of my internal pressure to create my own works is that if I didn’t, there would be nothing for me to perform in, as a fat person. The roles allowed to us are limited and boring. I create the works and the characters that represent me, in some way, and what I want to see out in the world.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” That’s part of how I became interested in performance: I want to make a world where I have room to create, as a fat middle-aged woman. The other part of it is just something I picked up from two years at Burning Man. They don't have many rules there, but this is on: “No spectators.” In other words, don’t show up to Black Rock City expecting other people to entertain you. Become part of the pageant, as a performer or a caretaker or a technician or as an active, generous audience member. I’ve heard that Burning Man ain’t what it used to be, but I will always be grateful to it for that one concept. In terms of my creative work, I don’t wait any longer for other people to start the party; I bring the party myself.

I want to bring the thing that makes people move inside, that demands thinking and maybe some uncomfortable reflection on one’s own actions. My work ends up being both activism and art. I want that mix, I’m good at both, and in performance is where that finds a home.

*****

Financial support from friends and fans makes my performance/Smut Slam schedule possible. Please consider becoming a patron of mine over on Patreon!

 

“Did you get the invitation?” and other Fringe-season faux pas

I’m finally getting to the point where I know other artists in my stop-over cities, and by “know” I mean they’ve been a Smut Slam judge or I appeared in one of their gigs and at the very least we’re friends on Facebook. It’s also coming up on Fringe touring season, has been for a month already, actually. This means that the steady trickle of event invitations on FB is starting to become a stream, and when Brighton Fringe hits in three weeks, we’ll all be drowning in the stressful convergence of two vast rivers of theatrical output and social expectations.

In the interest of managing expectations, avoiding hurt feelings, and generally being transparent about how I integrate the arts with my personal network, I would like to share my personal etiquette around EVENT INVITATIONS.

When I have an event…

I will invite you, if you’re in the area. This invitation carries no expectations with it at all. You can decline, mark “interested”, mark “attending” and then not attend, or show up and that’s okay.

If we are friends and I know that you’ve seen my work, I may drop you a private message and ask you to share with your people in the area. I try to ask selectively, making sure that we’re in the same wheelhouse, you know, you’re not a kids’ clown or choral singer.

If we are really good friends and we’ve talked about my show or event before, I may drop you a private message and ask you to come to opening night for moral support, or whatever, and I will offer you a comp. But I will not take it personally if you can’t.

If we are reasonably well acquainted and I know you have an event going on too sometime soon, I may suggest a comp swap. I firmly believe that artists are not each other’s target demographic, and I don’t expect other artists to buy tickets to my shows. We are all broke. I do not expect comps—so please feel free to turn me down!—but I appreciate them.

If I ask to swap comps with you, and you agree, I will make every effort to attend. If you ask to swap comps with me, there is a possibility I may not be able to attend your show. Whoever initiates the comp swap convo needs to be really committed to coming.

When you have an event …

I do read the event listing. I am very assiduous in my attention to invites that come in through Facebook. I will mark “interested” if I’m interested, and will only mark “attending” if I am really planning to attend OR if it’s part of a festival-wide campaign to attend each other’s events and boost the FB algorithm.

If you direct message me with an invite that does not mention a comp, I will politely decline. I may have had other valid reasons, but the sales pitch is one of them. (See the bit about not being each other’s target demographic.)

If you really want me to attend for some particular reason, DM with that comp offer and explain that you really want me there.

I only recommend shows that I have seen, if not the actual show, then something by the performer. Keep that in mind when you’re asking me to promote your show. I’ll need to see it or you in action first.

Out on the Fringe…

I will never knowingly flyer another artist, with the purpose of getting them to buy a ticket to my show. (I may hand them a flyer as a sort of business card, though, if they ask for one.) If I find out mid-pitch that you are a fellow fringe artist, I will hurriedly take my flyer back and apologize, saying something like “let’s save our paper for the punters.” You are welcome to keep an accidentally bestowed flyer if you like it, or you really want a reminder, but please don’t then favour-shark me into taking one of yours. I don’t want it. Tell me the name of your show, and if I want to know more, I will ask. I expect the same in return.

In person…

If I ask, “have you seen my show?” it is NEVER meant as pressure to see it. Usually that is me trying to either avoid spoilers OR figuring out what background information you need, if we are talking about our shows or audience responses or whatever.

In general…

My hierarchy of interest, separate from any personally connection I may have to anyone involved in the show is as follows:

Solo theatre > storytelling > variety shows with a strong MC > everything else

Fringe festivals are and have always been my chance to study up on my craft informally. I want to see shows that are close to my wheelhouse first. These are my classrooms.

AND

I have given myself permission to not see any shows at festivals, if that’s what I need to stay balanced. My fellow EdFringers know what it is to run a show back to back to fucking back, for a few weeks at a time; even smaller festivals and shorter runs can take their toll. We all have promo to do, and I personally can’t really see a show for two hours before I’m on or for one hour afterward.

Take into account recovering from travels, getting some groceries in, and trying to get some sleep, and you can see that sometimes… we run out of time. That has to be okay: show first, self-care second, then everything else.

*****

Become a patron of mine over on Patreon and keep me crankin' through the tough times out on tour! Because it ain't easy doing sex-aware theatre. It's important but not easy.

My truth is a weapon, and it cuts both ways

I have spent the last eight years peeling my life open for public scrutiny, through my blogging and the plays and the Smut Slam and the Facebooking… you’d think I’d have no boundaries left, if I had any to begin with.

You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. I’m finding boundaries I didn’t even know existed, thanks to my efforts at relocating to the UK. People who are stuck in the visa and immigration pipeline don’t get to keep boundaries, not in the UK, certainly, and nowhere in the world. You learn right away to set those aside, because you have to answer those questions and you cannot hedge or hesitate.

I keep thinking this shouldn't be a problem for me; I strive for transparency and honesty in my work and personal life. A lot of what I’m doing is building a bridge out in front of me, hacking through the underbrush and not knowing where that path goes. But being honest about not knowing, being real about not having my ducks in a row, that is not the kind of honesty that wins me friends at the borders to countries. They want to know my path, and they will push me right out onto it, onto some path, even if I’m not ready.

They precipitate decisions, these moments in the queue at the airport, and when I still don’t have clarity and still manage to get through, I am left trembling in front of the baggage conveyor, wondering what I am doing with my life.

How did I end up here being lectured by someone whose uniform includes a jumper with epaulets, who in spite of that still has the arbitrary right—which they reminded me of at least seven times during a 20-minute conversation—to restrict my global movement, event though my paperwork matches up?

I guess that’s what makes these people perfect border guards: they see staying-in-placeness as a thing to strive for. They question fluidity and shifting and change. They don’t understand how I could have been married and still fallen in love with someone else (don’t even try talking about polyamory), or if they do understand, they call it something else with a sleazy, disbelieving sneer. They don’t really believe that I make enough on my theatre and emceeing to get by over here; “that’s not a real job,” I can see it in their eyes.

Most challenging of all, in terms of my path, is that they don’t believe that it’s possible to have more than one purpose in being in a place; my being in the UK is suspect because I dare to both have professional ambition AND the love of my life here. I must be using the first to avoid going the marriage-visa route. I am skirting the spirit of law, they said as much, and I have to stand there and flush hot under their scrutiny.

I told them about UK Muse because one doesn’t lie at the border, and I thought for one wild minute, maybe radical honesty is the way through. Yes, I want to be with him, and yes, I am working toward that. At the same time, yes, I want to make it with my performance work, here in the UK, where it’s actually possible. But this transparency of dual purpose becomes a weapon in their hands, and now I am left thinking, why is this not enough for you people? I am bringing you the best I have to offer. I am bringing you whatever skills and passion I have for the work that I do and the life that I live.

I am telling the truth, the whole truth, but it’s messy. Sorry, visa and immigration folks—and you might be reading this—but at this stage in my life there’s no way of making this tidier. My life and my love are sprawling and grand, and there are always going to be some glorious bits that end up straying outside the box.

*****

Now more than ever, Patreon is a great way for you to support the work that I do in sex-aware theatre and storytelling, around the world! Your per-piece pledge help make the magic happen, so become a patron today!

Visa delays and situational sadness, aka Bereft in Berlin

There are many good things about Starbucks: their coffee is pretty much always the same over-roasted blend everywhere (at least you know what you’re getting?), and you can always get free Internet, which is a boon when you’re out and about in a strange city. There are usually power outlets somewhere in the walls, though you might have to hover a bit. And the typical Starbucks is busy enough that nobody will notice you sitting in the corner crying.

I’m doing that right now. I'm totally happy with people ignoring me; I don’t think I could really handle a well-meaning stranger asking me if I’m okay. I’m sure I am okay, intellectually I know I am, but the reasons why I don’t feel okay would take too long to explain.

It’s just international bureaucracy in the end, a mismatch between what the visa processing web site says and what the harried but polite people in the visa-processing office said in person. I had planned to get back into the UK on Monday—with the 3-to-5 day processing window, that was optimistic, but hope thrives like a cactus on very little. But in the office this morning, after waiting an extra half-hour beyond when my appointment was scheduled, they informed me that it was actually five to seven business days for processing, and that did not include the amount of time it would take to courier the passport back to me.

So I will almost certainly be missing both the London and Bristol Smut Slams this month, and maybe even the one in Brighton, and I am a little taken aback by how much that upsets me. I think my co-producers can pull together the show just fine—they’ve been watching my shenanigans for three months now, and the structure is of course easy enough to follow—but I hate being away from the slams at this critical point in their development.

We’re starting to getting regulars at those events, and I think they want to see me, in part, and I know I like seeing those people and knowing that I know people. This is where it starts feeling personal. Do you know how hard it is for me to get to know people? Everyone knows me but I don’t know anyone, and that was just starting to change, in all those different cities, but now there’s this fucking glitch and I have to wait until May.

And then, I didn’t plan to be here in Berlin past April 9, so obviously I didn’t plan anything to DO. I don’t do tourist stuff; I don’t care about architecture. Maybe I’ll try out some baked goods and Turkish kebabs. But really, the thing that I enjoy the most about touring, besides the performing aspect, is meeting people, and I don’t mean in bars. I mean, I want to do the things that I know how to do—performances, Smut Slams, Sidewalk Smut—and then start conversations with people that way, and then we get to talk. My performances are this week, and that’s it, and then I have at least four days hanging empty in front me.

It's not that I have nothing to do. Patreon. Videos. Catching up on social media and all the assorted admin. Sidewalk Smut, I guess, if I can find a useable typewriter and table/chair combo to borrow. It’s still a bit chilly here, but I can wear my Lumberjack Lingerie ™ and find some fingerless gloves and do a few evenings. Hell, I could be really decadent and spend a few hours a day working on my next show ("Cameryn Moore Is HEARTH-CORE").

I’ve got lots of stuff to do, I guess, but it’s not what I had planned, and I was just starting to find my feet, get my routine in the UK. Now I just feel lost and terrified all over again.

*****

Normally I have some fun way of phrasing this, but today I'm drained. I got nothing. Become a patron of mine over on Patreon, and help me build the Cameryn Moore network of heartfelt, sex-aware performance and community. You support my work; I pop you over some exclusive videos every now and then. It's a weird little relationship, but it works.

Talking about desire is my superpower

I don’t know where I got the idea that I shouldn’t talk about what I wanted sexually. Same place everyone does, I guess: pop culture. The music I listened to in the mid-80s definitely had sex in it, but if the girl in the songs went after what she wanted, she was a tiger, she was an animal, she was dangerous, and ultimately not trustworthy. I read voraciously, but the books I huddled up with in the stacks didn’t help; they told me that sex was mysterious if not actually surreal, with frequently upsetting aftermaths, maybe eating disorders or teen pregnancy, or possibly an alien invasion (I read a lot of sci-fi, what can I say?). And my Mormon upbringing meant that I had no way of talking about it at all; there were no words, only shitty metaphors like defiling a temple or crushing a rose.

Somehow I continued to not really talk about sex through high school and college, well into adulthood, in spite of the fact that I fucked a lot during some of that time. I had boyfriends, and later, a couple of girlfriends. I had partners, and we fucked. So there must have been communicating, right?

But there wasn’t. I can’t remember asking my high-school boyfriend if he would finger me or reciprocate oral. I can’t remember talking with my long-term lesbian partner about whether she liked my oral sex skills or not. I think she did, I mean, she let me do it for a long time, but maybe she was just putting up with it.

I definitely don’t recall talking with anyone else about what I felt when I read Patrick Califia’s Doc and Fluff, and wanked repeatedly to the gay-male extreme fisting scenes and came so hard that I nearly fell off the Murphy bed. I didn’t tell anyone about that. I just hid the book under my pillow, never returned it to the Gay and Lesbian Association library—they added “bisexual” to the name a year later—and I never mentioned it to anyone. I went through all that time not talking, just absorbing ideas about sex and my own behavior from various books. I “made moves” and hoped I was making the right ones, or had moves made on me, but saying anything out loud about sex and my desire was never something I learned how to do.

Eventually, I learned to speak up as a survival response. I cheated on my female partner with a dude at a conference, and I realized how fucked up that was to her, and also how fucked up I was being to me. I felt that I was slipping off the deep end, into a spiral of endless shame and blame, so I decided to see a counselor once a week for a year. With her was the first time that I really got to say, out loud, what I wanted sexually.

It was actually pretty simple: I want dick. I remember saying that to my counselor and getting SO ANGRY at myself. It sounded so shallow and ridiculous, so greedy. It sounded, even to my inexperienced ear, like bad dirty talk. I burst into tears at how stupid it sounded, what a pitiable excuse for sending my 10-year relationship through the wringer. And yet there it was. When I said it, there was no going back. Taking it back, pretending that it was a slip of the tongue, was not possible. The truth will out.

Feeling that realness, at the ripe old age of 30, was the catalyst for my power. I'll call it power, maybe even a superpower, because saying what I wanted changed things. Not immediately, not like magic, but the change happened. At first I was terrified of this new-found force; how not, when it had so utterly up-ended my existence and identity and all of it? But then I saw how it made things better; I saw that I didn’t have to feel isolated by my own desires anymore, and I started asking more and more for what I wanted. I want this kind of sex. I want an open relationship. I like doing this sort of thing. I like the way that feels. Can we try playing with that? No, I’d rather not do that. Wait. Stop here. May I kiss you? And things did change. They continue to change. I speak my desire, and oh god, I love where it is leading me. But it wouldn't have happened without that long year of pain.

When people ask me for advice, on how to have those challenging conversations, the ones that seem to push back against everything you think you know about how you're supposed to behave, well... I can tell you what I've learned. I can give you some ideas. But you have to be paying enough attention to know when the pain of holding something in outweighs any possible risks of letting it out.

*****

Want to keep seeing this kind of thing out in the world? Support the sex-aware culture that we need: become a patron of mine on Patreon!

1 2 3 4 5