Sunday, 31 March 2013

Weegee

You know... I never realised just how cute those little red polka dots look on top!
- Luigi
I even like the box design this time.
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon is out soon, and I am (almost) seriously considering buying a Nintendo 3DS simply in order to play it. Yes, I really am that enthusiastic. I've always been a Luigi fan - he's my Ninty favourite by a long way - and, of the two games in which he's taken the lead role, Luigi's Mansion is far and away the better, both on account of the fact that it's a good, addictive, spooky game in its own right and Mario Is Missing! sucks balls.

I know Mansion has its haters, a lot of the reviews being mixed and the game being criticised for its short length, but nevertheless, it opened new ground for Luigi, gave him a theme to focus on (in most subsequent games, Super Mario Galaxy for example, he's usually found in a haunted house), and was very playable, which was good. However, there was something else in the game... something more noticeable.

I wasn't the only person to spot it. On a forum I used to haunt (I won't say which, but my user icon was a Magikarp for a while, so you can sort of guess what the theme of the forum was), one of the regulars pointed out that Luigi might be gay. I looked at the clues that she pointed out, and was suddenly overwhelmed by them... I saw subtle hints everywhere! I pointed this out to a close friend who's now hosting a video gaming webseries, and he started picking them out, as well. So... the big question...

Is Luigi gay?

Yeah, sure he couldn't be gay, could he?
Let's look at the purported evidence first. His brother, Mario, rescues Princess Peach on a regular, and almost daily, basis (the exception being Super Princess Peach, a game referring to Luigi as "the green man?" in which she kicks serious arse). Throughout the Super Mario Bros. series (and its spiritual successors, the New Super Mario Bros. games), Luigi is usually player two, aiding and abetting Mario in his quests. He's never been so "romantically" linked to Peach as Mario - although I always thought of Mario/Peach as more of a platonic thing - and was usually regarded a bit of a second-stringer (something that's poked fun of, later, in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, wherein he embarks on a side quest of ridiculous proportions).

It's been noted that Luigi doesn't really have an equivalent. Princess Daisy has been put forward as a potential romantic partner for Luigi, but I don't think so somehow. Although her trophy in Super Smash Bros. Mêlée mentions rumours of her as "Luigi's answer to Mario's Peach," it places a lot more emphasis on her being a tomboy in comparison to Peach, which is a much more important part of her character. Additionally, Luigi didn't even appear in Super Mario Land, the game in which she made her first appearance.
This dress looks kind of comfortable... Nah, I'll stick with my duds!
- Luigi
But it's not the lack of girlfriend that makes me think he's gay. It's a combination of the stuff he says and how he acts. His voice is the first clue - it's much higher-pitched and more, well, camp, than his brother's. He shrieks, rather than yells, stutters when he's scared, and generally sounds a lot more effeminate than Mario - Mansion is a good game for this, as pressing button A will have him call out Mario's name, usually with increasing pitch and tone. His quotes - although they're few - point towards a more feminine side and an eye for the aesthetic and, although this isn't a trait limited to homosexual men, stereotypically it does tend to be.

Then there's the way he physically acts. Originally he was just a palette swap of Mario, but since Super Mario Bros. 2 he's has his own characteristics - in addition to being taller and thinner. His jumps, while a lot higher than any other character, are frenetic and seem uncontrollable - in SMB2 he kicks his legs in a "fiddly" fashion (thanks to Robinson for the adjective there), and in Super Mario Galaxy - another game in which he plays a minor role, but a good one - his triple jump involves flailing limbs, as opposed to Mario's, which is a mid-air flip. His Final Smash in Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a crazy dance with weird exotic music, causing everyone else to fall asleep, whereas his taunts all do look slightly ridiculous. He's not a muscleman, but he isn't weak either - yet he does have a tendency for stringy, bendy and exaggerated movements.
Too faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast!
- Luigi
You've never seen gay until you've seen Rainbow Luigi.
And finally, there's the way he reacts to things. Luigi doesn't like being out of control. He's terrified when his kart goes too fast in any of the Mario Kart series (I always played as Luigi, of course). Throw a star at him in Galaxy and he almost overbalances, grab a star to make him invincible and he turns into a living, breathing symbol of gay pride everywhere. He totally freaks out in Mansion when fighting with the ghosts (suck up a Portrait Ghost with the Poltergust and he'll close his eyes and pull!), frenetically waving his hat around when it gets set on fire. And lead him to victory in any of the games and he will be nothing short off flamboyantly gleeful, his Mario Kart Wii tag being one of my favourites: "Yay for me - Luigi!"

It's true that there are some more openly homosexual characters out there in Nintendo canon. Birdo is a transsexual (she's presented as a girl now, but in the earlier days, Nintendo cards - given out with Frosties - actually read, "this batty bird thinks he is a girl!"... verbatim), something they could have made more of a deal about. Chrono Trigger for the SNES featured a transgender villain named Flea.  Bully contains gay content, a number of recent FPSs have hinted at it, and let's not forget the slew of South Park games featuring Big Gay Al. But I think Luigi deserves special attention. He's a main character. Maybe he's gay - maybe he isn't. But he acts in an openly camp way, and what with the option to hump tables in Mansion (seriously, go up to a table and press B, it's hilarious), I think that, whoever or whatever Luigi is, he's enjoying life when he can... and doing it with a healthy amount of joie de vivre.

Luigi, I salute you. Now please excuse me while I go and buy a 3DS.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

It's rape o'clock!

From 2011's SlutWalk. Yes, really!
I've never been raped. Although I know some people who have. And yet I've also been in groups of people who have made rape jokes. And laughed about it.

Before you all start blocking me, I'll explain. The idiots over the last week who have been using the #RapeLOL hashtag on Twitter are just that: idiots. There's no indication that they are promoting rape, although the whole "it's not rape if..." prefix is no doubt moronic to use, the thing that offends me the most about the whole deal is the fact that the jokes they're telling simply aren't funny. They're not. Rape is a very sensitive subject because it's an incredibly serious issue, and if you're going to tell a very limp joke that doesn't work, it's going to end up being incredibly insensitive.

Ignoring the whole issue of why people seem to think that using a #RapeLOL hashtag is perfectly acceptable use of their time - and the inevitable backlash from people who actually seem to use their brain - it brings back memories from another time, when things seemed a little more innocent...

I was 20 years old. (This is eight years ago!) I was at Woodcraft camp with a group of people around the same age as me, and although I was only there for a couple of days (I had to leave after two in order to go on to another holiday I had planned), I made the most of it... although I'd forgotten to pack my sleeping bag. I slept under a towel. Camp usually takes a while to get going, however, and because of this, the first day was spent just chatting. Rape entered the conversation... in the form of some throwaway jokes.

I used to note down some of the quotes from these events, and while browsing through them on the train later in the day, I noted with alarm how often rape was mentioned, and nobody seemed to raise any objection. "It's all fun and games until someone gets raped," "make rape history" (á la "make poverty history" and the aforementioned "it's rape o'clock!" were all used... although all by the same person. One of my nearest and dearest. I laughed. Everyone laughed. It was an uncomfortable laugh, and in a few cases a drunk one.

Why the laughter? I've already said the #RapeLOL jokes aren't funny, and these "I shall rape you this afternoon!"-type jokes weren't either. Woodcraft isn't the kind of group where crowd mentality takes over, plus we're genuinely nice people and have a lot of sexual health and control workshops and the like. The difference here, as I see it, is that this was genuinely not serious. We (or, to point fingers, my friend) weren't putting rape forward as a serious threat... or even promoting it. There wasn't any of the "if she doesn't/can't say no, it's not rape" bollocks like in the #RapeLOL tweets. We were ridiculing rape. Using the concept as something idiotic, brainless and shameful... which, of course, it is.

It may seem, at first glance, that these sort of things trivialise rape, and in some ways, I can see that argument. It's a very serious crime and not something to be tossed aside lightly, nor is it a word to be "reclaimed", like "slut" for the liberated or "whore" for sex workers. But I don't think that that's what we were trying to do. In fact, I believe there was an anti-rape, pro-consent workshop later in the week (after I had left). There was certainly one a couple of events beforehand

 It brings to mind the recent adverts for the Race for Life in which cancer is treated in the same way: "Hey, cancer. We're coming to get you." Or the comedy concert in aid of Parkinson's UK: "Shake with Laughter." Even the paper I once read entitled "What is dyselxia?". Those are, I'll grant you, all medical conditions, rather than a sex crime, but it's a similar practice: making the problem seem like something ridiculous, something that can be beaten, overcome or, yes, even joked about. And I'm pretty sure we all remember this.

Yes, it seems like a weird thing. Serious issue made unserious. But I think that if you are going to make jokes about rape, that's the way to go about it. Do it in such a way that they are just that - jokes. Nothing more and nothing less. And if you are going to talk about rape seriously, you have to make sure that it's carefully handled. Because everyone needs to know where you're coming from on this issue.

I haven't even mentioned those on Twitter who use "rape" as a synonym for sex. But that's a completely different issue.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Do you want cashback with that?

"21 pages? Do we have enough ink for 21 pages?"

It's a rhetorical question. I know - I hope - that we have enough. My clunky old printer has been a stalwart for a while, handling both stuff-I-need-for-work and random-things-I-want-to-print with aplomb, despite looking like (and possibly actually being) something from the '90s. But it still guzzles ink at a tremendous rate, and thus I was somewhat worried that our request form for housing benefit (yes, really) would cut out halfway through printing. You can't submit half a claim, apparently.

I checked.

Jilly couldn't reply, because she was giving me a blowjob; therefore, it was quite difficult for her to talk. This was something of a surprise - in fact, she suggested it as something of a joke to begin with - but since I was down with the idea (it's a bit of a cliché, being given a blowjob while doing office-related sundries, but if it works...), here we were, me printing out a housing benefit claim and her on her knees with my penis in her mouth.

You can't say our life isn't always uninteresting.

I took her hand and led her up to the bed, leaving my printer chugging away reels of cheap paper. Lying on my back, she recommenced what she was doing, before I asked her to stop.

"What do you want to do?" she asked.
"I..." don't know.
"Hmmm?"
"I..." don't know what I want.
I cranked my brain into action. It took a while.
"I want to pleasure you," I said finally, "but I also want to come." The words fell out of my mouth as soon as I started thinking. Perhaps not too much of a dichotomy as it may seem. I mean, I'm sure we all know from experience that you can share pleasure; it's not one or the other, no matter what Japanese porn seems to be trying to tell you.
"You want to pleasure me..."
"I do."

"...but you also want to come."
"Yes..."

Pause.

"Do you want me to come on you?"

Pause.

"Yes!"

We stripped off what remained of our clothes. My shirt ended up on top of a few sheets of housing benefit claim. She lay down in front of me, naked. I knelt up, looking down at her, my cock hard, pulsing in my hand, my head dizzy and heart racing.

Steadying myself on my knees (being thankful for my sense of balance, developed by standing on the Tube without hanging onto a pole), I started masturbating, quickly building up a sense of rhythm, recalling the one that I'd had from her oral sex a few minutes earlier. My eyes fluttered to a close as I felt my orgasm raising up, but not quite taking hold. I was ready, but not quite there. I needed, it seemed, another stimulus.

"That's so hot," she said. And that did it... immediately after that, I came, all over her stomach and chest. A split-second afterwards, my knees gave way, and I fell forwards onto her, feeling the warm, sticky mess over my abdomen as well.

There were a few minutes of nothing but heavy breathing and occasional spasms and kissing.

"Do you want a wet wipe?" I asked eventually, my body willing itself back into working order like The Bride's at the beginning of Kill Bill Volume 1.
"Sure..."
I went over to get the box while my steam-powered printer ground to a halt. The silence was almost tangible, punctuated by her occasional light giggle.

"Do you want cashback with that?" I said, handing her a wet wipe.

It seemed like the right thing to say at the time.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Open My Eyes

When I was 17, I was bought a porn magazine - Hustler - by 47 and another friend, who I've never mentioned so far on this blog (I'll call her !!!.). We were spending a week in Edinburgh: a week in which I had my first sexual experience, and my first real feeling of over-confusion and rejection. I realised, later on, that I was being played with - although, to be honest, it did lead to 47 and I becoming best friends. Even if it took a while.

At the beginning of the week, !!! had taken it upon herself that it would be her job to "corrupt" me, although that seemed to boil down to two things: coercing (read: forcing) me to drink alcohol, and "teaching" (read: forcing) me how to masturbate (!!! was convinced that it would be good for me - bear in mind that, at this time, I hadn't had any kind of sexual experience, and I didn't start masturbating until after sex for the first time). As part of her campaign of Making ILB Feel Uncomfortable, she and 47 went into a sex shop (with me standing outside looking shifty and out-of-place) and emerged with a copy of Hustler, to which I was supposed to suddenly know how to wank.

And a pack of playing cards with naked women on. Which we later used for poker.

Although I'd seen adult material before (c'mon, I was 17!), I wasn't exactly aware that a magazine would contain anything except lesbian pictures. I was used to softcore - a medium that relies entirely on people not having sex but pretending to - and therefore I hadn't really seen a lot of penetration. I didn't download porn off the Internet, I didn't have any cable channels that showed it, and because I didn't masturbate, I didn't need anything particularly hard to get me off (although later studies, over the last ten years, have shown that softcore works fine in that respect as well!).

I'd never really done a lot of investigation into the matter, but I had always thought, beforehand, that male/female interaction in magazine form would be totally illegal, and that all we would get in print media form would be lesbian stuff - something which, as I knew from watching soft porn for six years, didn't really turn me on much. Why? Because in what they showed on television no actual sex happened, and therefore in a hardcore magazine the same would be true.

It wasn't true.

!!! practically burst into laughter. "It won't all be lesbian stuff," she stated. "A few of the stories will have male interaction in them as well."
How? I thought. But I didn't say anything. I think I nodded... weakly.

I didn't enjoy reading the magazine - although !!! did, perhaps a little too much in fact, and 47 as well. It became a sort of albatross for me; since they'd bought it for me, it was mine and I had to lug it back across the border and all the way to London without actually having looked at it much at all (I knew it wasn't going to work, and considering what else happened in Edinburgh it was pretty much the last thing on my mind). But what to do with it - if not to wank to it - I had no idea once I got home and settled back into the routine of watching soft porn and getting aroused but not having any orgasms.

I chose to take it on holiday with me about a week later.

But then that's a completely different story...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Raised eyebrow

I wonder what it is about having sex that activates my more dirty side. Although not exactly disturbing or rude or even violent - I'm not sure those sides can be activated within an ILB - I do notice that, in the hours after sex, I seem to have more of a propensity to be a little dirtier than usual, with slightly profane tweets and even the occasional blatant sexual outburst (no, not like that) in various odd situations.

Not that I think people should be restrained about expressing their sexuality. I'm all for it... evidently. But I'm aware some situations seem like the wrong (I don't use the word "inappropriate") time and place to start a sexual discussion, and yet...

Last night I had sex. It was amazing. It had been far too long and I didn't even get to have sex on my birthday. I had belated birthday sex... and not before time, either. We flirted, kissed and then devoured each other hungrily, at which point I said something which was a mixture between romantic and creepy, like "I can't believe my penis is inside the vagina of such a beautiful woman." Yes, I am a truly lexical lothario.

Then I had a shower and dried myself with a new towel. And so, satiated, I slept well enough for a man who's dreaming about zombies.

Then I go and tweet something like this:

It's very uncannily similar to something I did last night.

And, before long, I find myself trying to explain the concept of bisexuality to a couple of clients at work who have very little grasp of the principles behind it. It's nothing to do with what we were originally talking about I take a break, aware that I'm falling asleep, go downstairs to the reception area and sit down. I fall asleep and dream about some more zombies who all have the face of Nick Clegg (he was on TV as I was falling; don't judge me!) and wake up with last night's sex fresh in my mind. I was also very aroused...

...although hopefully not about Nick Clegg.

Then I retweet stuff like this...

Many thanks to Yummy for not ripping off my head and spitting down my neck for using her tweet.
...and before I know it, I'm sitting on the train home debating about what may be the best way to ask the question "do you want to have sex?", or if it's technically rape if I kiss my girlfriend and carry her to bed the instant I walk through the door. (I doubt I have the strength to lift anyone up who's over the age of two, never mind carrying them to bed, but that's hardly the point.) It's on my mind, I have it, and I crave it for hours afterwards... at this point, stretching into days.

I know this is not unexpected; I am an ILB, I am a sex addict, I am aware of who I am and what I like... and what I like to like and who I like to be. I just feel very much like I should be revelling in the world of sex now I've had it again.

And why not?

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Soft Porn Sunday: Debbie Gibson & Vic Chao

"Who played the main character in that?" asked the young raver inquisitively. I knew the answer immediately, having stared at the DVD case for over a year but having resisted the urge to crack it open, knowing that watching Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus would be more entertaining with my group of friends than on my own with a stuffed rabbit and a bowl of sadness popcorn.

"Debbie Gibson," I supplied, "that woman from the 80s."
"Fair enough," replied the young raver, his fingers flashing across his iPhone's screen, tapping out the words "Debbie Gibson naked" into Google.

"There was a sex scene," I pointed out. "Isn't that enough?"

Although, to be fair, there wasn't much of one.

Appearance: Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (2009)
Characters: Emma MacNeill & Seiji Shimada

Oh, hai background.
The Asylum is a strange beast, existing mostly to sell itself - it works with three prongs of operation: mockbusters, both lampooning and ripping off big-budget films (Snakes on a Train being a prime example), Christian films published under a fictitious company name "Faith Films" (Sunday School Musical being particularly disappointing, because the songs are quite good, but the sound balance is awful!), and - its most famous output - this little series of films with giant cardboard beasts battling other giant cardboard beasts. Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus and Mega Piranha are all examples of this, but the first - and by far the best - has to be this one. The title alone says it all.

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.

You can't resist a title like that.

So what, you may be asking, is it doing in Soft Porn Sunday? I shall inform you. During the course of the film, we have the main plot (which involves something to do with sharks and octopuses, I'm not sure), several subplots, including the best one: characters spouting various exposition on why they're on a 'plane ("We're about to get married!") before Mega Shark flies through the air and eats it, and the necessary romantic subplot which involves completely gratuitous sex.

Which is what I will attempt to dissect.

The three leads in this film (read: the characters who don't either disappear from the cast with no explanation or get eaten) are Emma MacNeill, played by 80s pop sensation Debbie Gibson, her mentor Dr. Lamar Sanders - the Obi-Wan Kenobi character played by Sean Lawlor - and Seiji Shimada, who couldn't get any more Asian-American if he tried, her romantic interest/sex partner played by Vic Chao.

Who can't act.

Mega Hair vs. Giant Hands
As most of the film centres around these three characters in a lab illegally working out ways to contain the two battling creatures (who both end up dying anyway, so it's kind of pointless, except Mega Shark returns a few films later, OMGZ SPOILERS), the writers clearly had to struggle for something to tide the viewers over until the gore-fest begins* (*it never begins), and so there's a romantic subplot shoehorned in at the last minute. I say that because it literally lasts a minute.

There's no explanation or any hint that Emma and Seiji are at all attracted to each other until they share a kiss in the lab (completely ignoring Lamar, who's RIGHT THERE WORKING ON THE EXPERIMENT THEY'RE MEANT TO BE FINISHING) without preamble (other than a few whispered words). This quickly leads into the best dialogue in the whole film, clearly of a standard Joss Whedon could only ever hope to emulate:

Emma: "I'm gonna go take a walk."
Seiji: [complete silence]
Emma: "You know... a... walk?"
Seiji: [complete silence]
[Emma walks off. Applause please.]

Lamar, who's just remembered he's in the scene, then adopts a very creepy creepy-old-man smirk as Seiji still looks blank and then JUMP CUT OH MY SEX!

Fifty Shades of Blue
Oh no, wait, there's no actual sex here, it's just hardcore porn music (and I mean that, there's the kind of soft jazz swing thing going on with electronic beats in the background, the only thing missing is an "oh yeah" in deep baritone) and something resembling a kiss between Emma and Seiji, except it actually looks like Gibson is attempting to throttle Chao, masked by the fact that the television appears to have forgotten red and green and instead hands you the entire scene in blue; even the bright white lab coats they are wearing appear to have no effect on the scene at all.

Still, the kiss is kind of hot. It's not brilliant by any means, but I get the point of the whole idea. I mean, repetitive and possibly tedious work in a laboratory trying to find a way to neutralise two potentially apocalyptic creatures threatening the Pacific Rim? Wouldn't random sex with an attractive co-worker be a good prospect? I can see the point of the scene... it's just a bit out of place. Still, I wonder what they'll JUMP CUT WHAT THE FUCK AFTERGLOW?

Yes, it seems what they have decided to do is edit out the sex (and the music, which stops just after it gets going) and end with a might-but-it-doesn't-matter-be-naked scene of the two basking (or, actually, sitting) in the afterglow. And that's when Debbie Gibson comes out with another absolute cracker of a line:

"That felt good."

I'm so pleased for you, Emma.

"Soft kitty, warm kitty..."
As you can tell, I have a problem with this - but why do I? It's a mainstream film, so why should there be sex? Well, it seems almost like a prerequisite. Designed for laughs and a bit of gore rather than being a major turn-on, Mega Shark doesn't have to have anything titillating in it at all, but one might think (I would, anyway) that if there was going to be any sex, they might make good use of the 15 rating and hot female actress and put a little inoffensive nudity in? A lot of genuine soft porn has sex scenes where you see nothing more than somebody's back and bum!

Not that I'd probably enjoy a scene with these two in. The effect on my friends may not have been exactly pleasant. But that's not really the point I'm getting at. It's badly cut, completely random and totally superfluous to the film. It would be a lot more worthwhile if even the littlest amount of sex were shown - a few seconds might be enough, the scenery (a stock room) is one of the classics - rather than just a vocal report on how it felt! It's not going to make anyone come, so why not at least use this opportunity to show a bit of flesh? It's called Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and you're definitely showing everything else!

So would I recommend Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus? Yes. Yes, I would. But not with your pants down. That's all kinds of wrong.

Unless you're into that sort of thing. I mean, tentacles are involved somewhere...

Friday, 8 March 2013

Eroticon Fallout V: Fiction (part two)

The final thing I want to post from Eroticon (even though it seems like years ago already!) is the short story I wrote during KD Grace's "Finessing Sex" session. People have been posting their stories over at Irregular Voice; I'll write mine out here and cross-post there when I'm done - hooray narcissism!

This is actually one of the things I'm proudest of, although it does lose something when not read out loud. One of the things I realised upon writing it was that a lot of my stuff really needs to be read aloud in order to be fully appreciated, but since I didn't attend the podcasting session...

Just kidding. Here's the story.

*

Even though my eyes are closed, I can almost see him. Or, at least, I know what he's doing. He's paying a lot of attention to my breasts.

I wonder if he's like this with Harriet. Maybe he does this all the time. Maybe Harriet really likes this - it's not exactly unpleasant. Maybe he's thinking of Harriet right now. It's her house; it's not impossible. Still, that doesn't really matter. They're my breasts and he's doing something to them with his mouth. I suppose that's what counts to him right now.

I like my breasts being touched. It's nice. Gentle - except not now, but he's using his teeth. A few of the boys - and one of the girls, I remember that one very clearly - liked the whole sucking licking kissing biting smacking smooching lusting thrusting thing. Ollie seems really into it, though. Were it not for what I'm doing with my pussy muscles, he may as well not have penetrated me to begin with.

Not that I'm complaining. I like this. It's interesting. It's certainly different from last night. Except that was a different boy.

There's a noise like something out of a Mario game and Ollie surfaces. My nipple's rock hard. He looks curious - a little like an excited goldfish.

"I love you, Louise," he whispers.

Oh. Didn't see that one coming. Now what do I do?

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Eroticon Fallout IV: The Sessions, Day 2

Day 2 of Eroticon was full of thrills, spills and a squeezable pontiff. Here's the lowdown on the sessions I attended.

The Anthologies Panel with Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Lucy Felthouse and Victoria Blisse
A great opener to the second day, this panel was essentially formed as a Q&A session with four seasoned anthology editors - the sort of thing that Eroticon's made for, really! Even though I wouldn't define myself as an erotica writer - there's barely a whiff from me on that front in any case - and I'm not the sort of person to go for every anthology under the sun, I took loads of notes in the hope that they'd be Useful, someday, in a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances.
It's good to be told some things that I wouldn't have thought editors would say - word counts can be a little flexible with regards to quality, Twitter is useful for getting ideas to snowball, and that there's no magic formula for the running order of stories in an anthology. Although, as was said by the panel, start with one of the best and end with a bang. Just like a sandwich, really.

Porn Challenge with Justin Hancock
I've read this dude's sex education website, bishuk.com, via a link on Girl on the Net's website, so I was pleased to meet the hairy, bespectacled face behind it. After a quick discussion with Points Being Made - the one I made being that porn can be inclusive, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is - we split into groups and had a thwank* about how to create an inclusive bit of porn. My group flustered a bit, but came up with some good ideas; we just didn't formulate much on paper. When it came to speak, I drew all the ideas together into something cohesive.
I really liked this session, as well. All the groups came up with good ideas, and it was especially interactive - a good reward for those who had stayed on to Day 2, to take part in something creative...
(*thwank = think-wank. It's a thing now.)

Storytelling & Sex with Justin Hancock, Emily Dubberley and Alison Robert from Brook
...which leads into this one quite nicely. Another panel discussion, although less of the focus was on questions and answers, with more discussion about integrating safe-sex practices in erotica, making it "safer" for everyone (to my shame, non-entry sex - inclusive of softcore - makes little to no references to birth control whatsoever), and opportunities to introduce this sort of stuff (including "Meta!", a meme which I wrote down but have yet to remember why!).
The second half of the session focused on including pleasure in sex education, which Alison Robert got her teeth into. After some horror stories (and some more positive ones) from the audience, both challenges and opportunities were mentioned - with me making the point that taking a stand is very important, even if means you're automatically gay. Long story.
This was a good one too, a real community-based session, and it was good to quickly catch up with Emily Dubberley, who I seem to be bumping into on an annual basis.

Finessing Sex with KD Grace
This is the one that everyone's raving about, and for good reason. Although not everyone apprecoated being thrown into having to write a scene of erotica with ten minutes to do so, I was really up for it at that moment (although that was pure luck, as I'd have had no idea had I not been in the mood!). The five steps that we went through were something like:

(i) Creating characters
(ii) Causing some chaos
(iii) Choosing a pair
(iv) Create the photoshoot
(v) Write it! 

I don't like having to follow strict guidelines, but once we'd planned the scenes like this, I found it somewhat easier to write that I would have otherwise. Almost unnaturally pleased with what I'd written, I volunteered to read mine out (as it doesn't really hold up on a page as well as it does out loud - as with nearly everything I write). I got laughter and applause, and that's about the best I could hope for. I'd like to read some more of the scenes that were written, too.
Mine will be up on this blog tomorrow. No more fiction after that, I promise.

Sex & The Media with Zoe Margolis and Nichi Hodgson
As everyone who has reviewed this ever has said, last year's Sex & The Media panel was so good that this was almost necessary attendance, and that's my viewpoint too. However, I didn't think it was as bad as some people (no naming names) made it out to be. It's true that it wasn't as good as last year's, but with a smaller panel (well, panel's not really the word... pair, maybe), you're bound not to get the same sort of discussion. Still, it was a good pair. Zoe - erudite as ever - and Nichi (an unknown quantity to me, but pleasantly smart once she got going) made a good job of answering the questions as best they could, and it can't be too easy to deal with such a ravenous audience.
The one thing I would say is that a lot of the responses were quite negative - not without good reason, mind you. Blacksilk's question about how much things have changed since last year's Eroticon highlighted how little change there has been - especially in the UK, despite the 50 Shades phenomenon. 
But, having said that, I think that if there's going to be a change in attitudes towards erotica it will be gradual, and that it may be a little overoptimistic to expect anything big to happen in one year... although I suppose that is the point!

That was the end of the sessions overall. The closing plenary failed to excite me, although maybe that's just me. I think I was suffering from overtiredness by that point, and I'm completely unaware of makelovenotporn.com - Jilly had to explain to me what it was - also, although Cindy Gallop had the head screwed on, I did wonder why she placed such an emphasis on everyone making lots of money from erotic writing - I don't want to make lots of money, myself! However, I was happy at the mention of sexting and the ending phrase: "don't let the bastards get you down." Yes, very wise indeed.

Ruby's closing  was classically hilarious. Books were handed out, there were some sniggers about people who had left by then and I won a prize completely at random, although when I got up to claim it I managed to trip over two chairs - after which I gave myself an ironic bow and earned some more applause. I'm such a whore.

All in all, a splendid second day. I enjoyed it even more than the first, I think, on balance. Fallout happened when I went with Jilly, Blacksilk and Emma for a drink in Waterloo Station afterwards and we chatted about the events of the weekend. It's the kind of event where everybody gets something out of it - whether inspiration, excitement, new friends or just something to do - and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Really.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Eroticon Fallout III: Fiction (part one)

This didn't take long to write. It's a piece of microfiction - a ficlet - inspired entirely by Kristina Lloyd's excellent session at Eroticon and the sex machine that came with it. Bear in mind it's an early draft, but I'm not really going anywhere with this. I just felt like I had to have a go at writing something with it, and I wanted to share.

*

Feel that. Just feel it.

Again. Feel it again. You know you want to. I know you want to. You love it - I can see it in your eyes, hear it from your heart, sense it from your aura, long before the point where our thighs intertwine. You want to fall into it, bathe yourself in it, give in to that loss of control that takes you.

I want to come with you.

I am cloudy with desire, fired up like the fizz of sherbet. I almost tip over the edge at your touch, melt into your sapphire kisses, give in all too quickly as my walls squeeze inside me, getting closer and closer and closer and closer. Closer to God. Closer to you.

I want to come with you.

Feel that. It's close. It's almost here. I can feel it. You can feel it. It's about to take us. Don't resist it. I won't if you won't. Take my hand, hold on tight. Let yourself go. Dissolve into white.

I'm coming too.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Eroticon Fallout II: The Evening, Day 1

After a long period of hustle, bustle and other things which may or may not rhyme with "Russell", a break - often with food - is almost always exactly what you need. In a high-energy environment like Eroticon, whereas the temptation is to say something like "FUCK YEAH, LET'S KEEP THIS PARTY GOING!!!", it's easy to wear yourself out. Nevertheless, Harper Eliot had taken it upon herself to organise an evening of readings and cabaret called "Aural Sex" (geddit?) in Kennington that night. I was keen to go, but had a few hours to fill before that.

We corralled the troops, and before long, I found myself with Jilly, Blacksilk, Lady P and Emma Whispers in the restaurant area of the nearby Travelodge, the will to grab a hearty meal coupled with simply not wanting to go anywhere either expensive or far away. After a brief wave to Ruby Goodnight (who was randomly in the same restaurant), we ordered a few pretty standard meals while wondering what exactly possessed them to have the music channel on at such a volume (and why Emma seemed to know the words to all the songs; I, admittedly, have never heard of a Bassline Junkie). This reminded me quite strongly of the escape and quiet meal we had during the Erotic Meet Christmas party - a slightly different lineup, perhaps, but nonetheless food with lovely people... and quite nice it was, to boot.

We ended up in Blacksilk's hotel room and... no, this isn't going in the direction you think, really it isn't... after a lot of banter (and some very tired limbs in my case) we made our way to the venue in Kennington, ready for some Aural Sex... okay, that one was deliberate.

I'd talk about how the venue wasn't very good, but you don't need to hear that. The event - although it started late, but I'd always expected it would - was fun. Readings I've often found are of variable quality, but I certainly liked all of these, and the cabaret performers did a good job of compèring the whole shebang, eliciting more than a few laughs along the way. It's not a very common experience to get troll sex, rhyming plastic love and stripping from a strait-laced anti-sex campaigner within the same evening (or ever, really), but that we got, and in abundance.

Jilly and I had to leave in a bit of a hurry afterwards (as we didn't have the luxury of lodging in central London and were dependent on trains), but I was incredibly pleased we'd taken the time to mess about with our friends and stick it out for Aural Sex. Last year's Eroticon had had a meal and a chat as the end tag, but I was certainly despondent as I left - again, due to the fact that I was train-dependent - and the chance to do it all again, without cutting anything short, was certainly appreciated. Home turf advantage, I suppose.

Oh, and the fact that there was another entire day to go... which reminds me...

Monday, 4 March 2013

Eroticon Fallout I: The Sessions, Day 1

To write the general fallout of Eroticon 2013 would be undeniably foolish, as I'm not entirely sure when it finished. As with all good stories, there's a beginning, a middle and an end - although in what order? 

When did it begin - when Ruby did the opening address? When I walked through the revolving door into the Novotel for our pre-convention drinks? Or at some point in between? And what's the ending, as well? The closing plenary? The ending address? Tripping over and taking a dramatic bow before collecting my raffle prize of books? Or going for a drink afterwards?

And what about the middle? Where's that exact point? Well, that I actually know - but that's another blog post entirely.

As for the sessions:

Creative Writing with Kristina Lloyd
If you'd told me I was going to spend the first session of Eroticon in the company of a sex machine which was actually an Excel spreadsheet, a physical/emotional dichotomy floating around in my head and references to silver prose and light creating an extra form of erotic medium... I probably wouldn't have been surprised, actually. And, throughout the threads of woo, shininess and concrete versus sublime hilarity of badly-written sex, this actually got me very much inspired. Me, that is, and probably also the entire room - Jilly was scribbling frantically by my side - as it was genuinely inspiring and incredibly helpful.
I must say I don't write much erotica - the occasional foray into bouncy sex notwithstanding - and, although I'm not going to go through a massive transformation into the next [insert name of male erotica writer here], I certainly am going to have a go at writing a couple of ficlets or so, drawing on inspiration from her many-shaded sex machine. This was, actually, probably my favourite session of Eroticon, and certainly set it up to be a good one.

Eroticism and Romanticism with Remittance Girl
I've always had slightly mixed feelings about Remittance Girl, as I tend to flip between agreeing heartily with everything she says, and having massive disagreements in my head. But, to her credit, this was a pretty good session, despite the title making it sound like a university module worth thirty credits. I actually took three pages of notes, so maybe I was in that headspace, too.
Anyway, the most useful bit of this session was almost definitely the "how?" bit at the end. RG went through four things to think about - intention, structure, style and substance (eerily similar to a checklist I used to go through for reviewing video games) - and reminded us to think about the effect on our characters.
Although I'm not entirely sure I want to put my characters through the wringer - RG at several points seemed close to shouting "MAKE THEM BLEED!" - I totally agree with the overall tone of the session, which I summarised in my notes as "be honest!". Thus, I will. As sure as I'm riding this bicycle.

Erotica in Relationships & Expanding Sexualities with Petra Boynton and Meg Barker
There was a handout for this one - very helpful indeed, as there was a lot of information to take in. Arranged in a democratic circle, things were purported such as erotica as a form of sex therapy, the need to communicate more, different times/situations/people affecting what you may like and/or dislike, and the flaws of the idea that there are good and bad types of sex... all of which are in the first paragraph on the handout. This set the tone for the thorough, thoughtful session as a whole.
My favourite part of this session had to be the group thoughts discussion, wherein we flipcharted a load of ideas about how we might use our own erotic fiction to expand our "sexual menus". I made everyone laugh at one point by saying "fuck". One concept that intrigued me involved writing an erotic story about yourself from the point of view of someone who finds you attractive - something that would be, as I'm sure you'd agree, difficult for myself to do.
It's a real shame we ran out of time on this one, as there was a lot more to explore. But, as I say, there was a handout.

Writing for the Adult Industry with Ruby Goodnight
As interesting as the concept of writing for the adult industry might be, I doubt it's something I have the tenacity to do (I'm too floaty - *ahem*). However, from the point of view of an outsider - as opposed to an adult writer or a wannabe - this was genuinely fascinating. I took lots of notes, including a little picture of a troll going "rah!", although the thing that stood out most for me was the reminder that you are, in fact, writing for someone else. Being able to do that and not crack under the strain earns massive amounts of respect from me.

Short 'n Tweet with @VenaRamphal
And then we have this.
Although I understand the appeal of a Twitter session at Eroticon - without Twitter a lot of the erotica-based things I go to probably wouldn't be happening at all - the way this was run was... well... slightly questionable. The first half was fine - a good introduction to Twitter for the newbies and a reminder of the basics for old-hands - and the setup was okay, with intermittent tweeting from Vena, using a hashtag (#shortntweet) and some good points were made (Twitter is a public profile; it creates a recognisable identity; you are tweeting for the reader). However, during the second half I think we lost our thread.
As a philosopher of love, romance and erotic pleasure (her words), Vena started to make a few points about things that weren't really relevant, and for those of us who've been using Twitter for a long time, I started to question the usefulness of this session. From a quick glance at Emma, I could tell she was thinking the same, and by the end, we were both desperate to finish and amusing each other (as an example of five words we tweet a lot, I came up with "cats", "cake", "me", "soft" and "and"; Emma's were slightly more... uhm... taboo). We exited in laughter and rushed to the closing plenary
However strange this session may have been however, this started the #sandwichtweet trend, to which here's my contribution. All is forgiven.

Ruby's closing plenary, although slightly disjointed, was focused on the future of sex blogs and bloggers, and thus was extremely appropriate to my interests. Very inspiring stuff, and by that point, I was feeling at ease with the people, the emotions around me, and the embraces of the Pope. Time for something to take the action down a notch... and there was. The middle of the weekend...