F*ckin’ Snowflakes

In the 6+ years that I’ve been blogging about sex, and the 4+ years I’ve been an educator in sex, I feel as if I’ve watched humans evolve a surprising amount when it comes to our sexuality. It could, of course, be that I’ve become more thoroughly immersed in communities that are more sexually liberated, but I would like to believe that we are evolving at least a little bit, so I’m going to go with that for now.

What hasn’t changed much, however, is the questions that people are asking about sex. In the stores I’ve worked in, on my blog, on social media. There is no such thing as a stupid question in this industry, but there are so many questions that people are still asking me years later that I would think would be more common knowledge by now.

Then the other night, it hit me: It’s because their questions aren’t being answered. At least not by the people they’re listening to.

Don’t worry, I’ll explain myself.

I was investigating TLC’s new sex talk show “All About Sex,” simply because Margaret Cho. (I mean, is there any other reason?) I was hoping for something new in the field of sex. Not expecting, but hoping. And honestly? It’s okay. Margaret manages to keep things pretty interesting, and Dr. Tiffanie knows. her. shit. But then Marissa Jaret Winokur gets poked in the boob with a Lelo Mia and freaks out and I just heave a sigh of despair.

They address reasonably important issues in a fun and respectful manner. But I don’t feel like I’m seeing anything I haven’t seen before. It’s those same questions that I’ve seen in Cosmo, in Savage Love, in the sex shop…things you would think would be hella Google-able by now. But most people aren’t getting the answers they need. Why? Well, unfortunately, you can’t ask a complete stranger for sex advice and get a substantial response without spewing some dirty details, and most people are asking these complete strangers because they’re too afraid to share these dirty details with people they know. If you want your sex to be more satisfying, you’re going to need to come out of your shell a bit…starting with your partner. The first person you should talk to when you need sex advice is the person you’re having sex with. Easier said than done, but true nonetheless.

On their second episode, they had a…erm…special guest…join them on their couch: Self-proclaimed ‘bad boy’ (translation: ‘professional douchebag’) Steve Santagati. I’d never heard of him before, but he immediately repulsed me. The primary reason being that he bases all of his sex ‘knowledge’ in sweeping generalizations, i.e. “All men want a blow job”, “All men get turned on by this”, “all women want a bad boy”, etc. The secondary being that he actually got a book full of this bullshit published. And people bought it.

I know we all want simple sex advice, because we want sex to be easy. But sex isn’t easy. Sex is complicated as hell. We all have different bodies, different desires, different thoughts. We all have our own unique approach to sex. We’re like fucking snowflakes. You will never get the right answers if you’re asking for what an entire group wants, and telling people that an entire group of people wants the same thing only makes people more afraid to ask for what they really want.

The best piece of sex advice that anyone can give you is this: You are normal. Your desires are natural. If you think you’re the first person to get turned on by something, however niche, you aren’t. You may be a fuckin’ snowflake, but you aren’t that special. I say that with love, of course. The first step to getting your desires is embracing them. After that, they become even hotter once you actually get them.


Where is Gay Culture Going?

I am deeply concerned about the current state of gay culture. The future even more so. Concerned, and perhaps…confused? Definitely terrified. As we move forward in our battle for equality, it seems as if with every step, we immediately forget our roots and embrace the shallow. From fashion to television to nightlife, the vast majority of us seem eager for an opportunity to abandon our integrity in pursuit of the fabulous. I’ve always felt that one of the best parts of being gay was our colorful methods of artistic expression and experience, but as I observe queer culture in our present day, I feel less pride in what we’re creating and consuming.

It’s a thing I’ve struggled with for quite some time now, both as a writer and as a performance artist. Both on stage and in cyberspace, other gay men are still hard to woo if you aren’t rocking a six-pack or a sick sense of humor (the two rarely mix, for some reason). I’ve accepted by now that whatever I do, my place will always be against the current. It’s not about my ego anymore. It’s about challenging the faces of our culture to be more complex, because I still have faith that they can be.

Last week I attended the GLAM Awards, an annual celebration of New York City’s gay nightlife, where my alter ego Lucky Charming was a nominee for Best Burlesque Performer. For the last few years, I’ve been on a roller coaster of feelings about this event. I like that it exists. I really do. I think that nightlife is a very important part of gay culture, and it should be celebrated. Extravagantly, of course. However, as the whole operation is based on a jury of peers, it all seems incredibly self-indulgent and…dare I say it? Yes. Masturbatory.

I’ve been following this event for the last four years, and I’ve seen a lot of the same people win the same award 3+ years in a row. From year to year, I see the same names filling up the list of nominees, and most of them fall into three categories: drag queens, muscle-bound boys, and local pop divas. (And Michael Musto, but I think he counts as a drag queen in this case (and that’s not a read.))

Boylesque Festival 2013I’m incredibly proud to be a part of the growing ‘boylesque’ movement, but it certainly hasn’t made me feel any more welcome among the gay ‘community’. Because, let’s face it…if gay men are going to go out to a burlesque show, they want to see abs and pecs, abs and pecs. I’m fairly confident that the promise of such bodies is the only thing that draws in most of the audience for the New York Boylesque Festival every year, because I can tell you that 95% of that crowd has never come to any other show that I’ve been in. And it’s not that I think they aren’t capable of being attracted to anything else, but there’s a really strange peer pressure that’s manifested amongst gay men regarding who you want to sleep with. In certain circles, if you express any interest in anyone who isn’t traditionally ‘hot’, someone will definitely be on hand to ‘yuck’ your ‘yum’ and keep your libido on the right path. And I don’t want to discredit any (well, most) of the stunningly attractive men who have been successful in the nightlife scene, because I know that many of them work very hard and take what they do seriously. But there are others…on stage, on the internet, everywhere…who I am sick of seeing constantly praised for being a mediocre talent with a hot body.


I know I’m going to make some enemies with this statement, so you may want to take a seat: I think RuPaul’s Drag Race has ruined drag. Yes, I said it. I’m not judging anyone who watches it, because I sure-as-hell have never missed an episode, but it’s drained a great deal of the art and excitement that comes with an actual drag show. Drag should be about taking risks, but RuPaul and her contestants often punish those who take risks. Even when I first moved to the New York in 2005, cleverness was a quality that was much more highly valued. In order to be successful in drag, you had to have a quick wit to go along with a sharp tongue. This excited me, because growing up in Michigan, I didn’t see a lot of risks being taken at drag shows.  As I’ve mentioned before, Michigan is very pageant-focused, so it was mostly about creating the perfect image. And now, so is the rest of the country. Drag Race has taken some of the world’s most brilliant queer artists, told them that nobody’s wants to see their weird shit, and polished them up into something that lacks the soul that it once had. But it gets worse, because then they get flown around the country to take on bigger, better paying gigs and the locals are stuck being entertained by a bunch of boogers who only started drag because they watched Drag Race and think that they can be the next drag superstar after only one year.

*Deep breath*

The main thing that frustrates me is the catch-22 that has developed with the portrayal of gay men in the media. Bars and clubs, magazines, and television stations are only going to want to book what they think will make them money. Their audiences are only going to be able to enjoy what they are given. If they aren’t given permission to enjoy something that’s outside the umbrella of what’s ‘hot’ or ‘fierce’, they’re never going to grow. Our culture has remained stagnant for the last few years, and we are forgetting where we’ve come from and what we’ve been through. We still have struggles, and that needs to be apparent in our art. We’ve turned on each other in an attempt to be socially acceptable, and our community is imploding rapidly.

GLAM-AWARDS-Credit-Wilson-Models10At the conclusion of the GLAM Awards, recent Drag Race winner Bianca Del Rio (who also co-hosted the event with Michael Musto) was named Entertainer of the Year, which was not the slightest bit shocking (and I say that with all T and just a little shade). During her acceptance speech though, she acknowledged her “golden ticket,” her privilege that came with just being a contestant on Drag Race, an opportunity that her drag queen predecessors never had. She expressed her admiration and respect for older queens (such as Joey Arias, who had announced her as the winner), and encouraged members of the audience to pay closer attention to their history, saying “Pay attention to who came before you, not just who came on your chest.” This speech was music to my ears, and left me feeling relieved that at least one person (a person of influence, nonetheless) was informed and inspired by her history.

We’ve gotten too comfortable. With the political progress we’ve made in recent years, our culture has become more digestible to the masses, and in response to that we’ve fallen into an assortment of patterns, all of which I, personally, find painfully boring, and don’t feel accurately represent the extent of our culture at all. I want to implore drag artists to be drag artists, not pop stars. I want to motivate show-goers to see something outside of their comfort zone. I want to inspire gay venues to book something they’ve never seen before. I want to see people I can relate to on LOGO. I want to see different bodies on magazine covers. I want to dare voters to stop voting with their dicks.

I also want a fucking nomination for Best Blogger next year, but I’m pretty sure I just blew that chance.

Flirting with Respect

Gay men have a very particular way of expressing interest in each other. It often involves very little talking and a great deal of eye contact (see: cruising). When words are exchanged, they are typically dripping with innuendo, not very direct, and not very personal. I suppose that straight men do this quite a bit too, but the difference with gay men is that other men respond to it better.

I…am not one of those. I’m a little old-fashioned in that way. Even if you’re simply trying to pick me up for a casual romp, I want to feel like you’ve at least noticed me and are interested in something unique that I have to offer. It’s been a while since I’ve felt that way. Sure, I get hollered at on the apps and what not, but rarely do I get anything that makes me feel the slightest bit special.

I really think that’s the key to successful flirting: making your flirtee feel special. Letting them know what you’ve noticed about them out of all of the other people in the room, rather than treating them as a potentially willing orifice. It isn’t that hard, but yet it seems like most people can’t be bothered. Even if you’re just looking for a casual fling, you can be suave and still get your point across. “Hey, I was noticing you have really terrific lips. I was thinking you’d be fun to make out with. Would you like to do that sometime?”

In our day and age, between reality and cyberspace, whether you’re gay, straight, or something in between, there is one element to flirting that I think is dangerously lacking: respect. It is rare that we see anyone flirt with anyone with any semblance of respect in our culture. We see each other as an object, we say “I want it,” and for some reason, actually expect this person(object) to say “take me.” I’m pretty sure it almost never works that way.

Some examples, from my own personal collection:

NO: May 2014. I’m in Orlando, performing “VGL 5’4″ Top” in the Fringe Festival. A pair of older fellows find me, know my face from my postcards, and strike up a conversation. One guy starts talking about how hot/hilarious it would be if I fucked the other guy because he was about six-and-a-half feet tall. He’d want to see it. He’d want to film it. I’m embarrassed. The tall guy is embarrassed. Neither of us are given room for consent in this fantasy. I might have been into him, he might have been into me, but any opportunity that might have been there is ruined because one guy assumed that because I’m performing a show about sex that I’ll just fuck anybody.

YES: July 2006. I’m at a bar in my hometown in Michigan. The usual one I go to, where the drag queens always perform. That is, in fact, what’s happening at this moment. A boy walks by whom I’ve never seen before. He puts his hand on my shoulder, leans in, and whispers: “You are so cute.” I respond “Thank you!” very eagerly. I want to return the compliment, because he’s also totes adorbs, but he’s already gone. While I still wish I could have made out with him a little, it’s always nice to receive a compliment without any expectations.

NO: September 2014. I’m performing in a burlesque show in Boston. I go to the bar to order a drink. A patron sees me, smiles at me, and reaches out his hand as if to shake mine. I take it, and he tugs me forward, whispers in my ear “I just wanted to tell you…you have beautiful eyes,” and smooches me on the cheek. I did that thing that five-year-olds do where they wipe the kiss off their face with their sleeve. Sure, he did point out something he observed about me, but he also physically violated me in the process. Don’t do that.

YES: March 2014. I’m at a friend’s birthday party. There’s a guy I’ve been talking to on and off throughout the evening. He’s perfectly pleasant, but he arrived with a female and I assumed they were a package, so I don’t think much of it. Cut to the end of the evening: he sees me putting on my coat and asks if I’m taking off. I confirm that I am. He asks “well, do you mind giving me your number so we can get together some time instead of just awkwardly staring at each other across the room all night?”

THIS. THIS IS HOW YOU MAKE A GENTLEMAN FEEL VALUABLE AND CLASSY. (Or any person really. I’m just talkin’ ’bout me right now.)

There was a time when cruising when necessary for the sake of one’s safety, but now I think gay guys are using it as a defense mechanism of sorts because they’re afraid of being shot down. I know a lot of us are getting laid plenty regularly, but I think we’d all have more luck with sex and dating we could just learn to be fucking direct about what we want from a person. Granted, I’m not always great at practicing what I preach, but I have been putting this plan into action recently and, from what I can tell, it’s working pretty damn well.

Circumcision Bananas

Foreskin Envy

Circumcision BananasI am an uncircumcised man. I think I’ve said this at least a few times before. I’m pretty content with it. Very content, actually. I like my foreskin quite a bit. At the very least, it makes masturbation much easier and much more pleasurable (in comparison to other penises I have manually stimulated.)

I’ve met others who also like my foreskin as well, either as it’s own entity or as a general concept. So I’ve been wondering…is foreskin envy common among circumcised men?

I know that circumcision can be a very polarizing topic, but I am asking any circumcised (cisgender) men to tell me…respectfully…do you wish you still had your foreskin? Would you care to elaborate?

P.S. I just wanted you all to know that Google Image-searching “uncircumcised” is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I suffered for science, god dammit.

My Life on the Swingset

Swing This Way: Cooper Beckett’s “My Life on the Swingset” is Now Available!

Looking for a good read? Well, I got one for you right here:

My Life on the SwingsetFellow sex nerd and educator Cooper S. Beckett, frontman of the blog Life on the Swingset, is also now the author of a motherfucking published book, y’all. It’s called “My Life on the Swingset: Adventures in Swinging and Polyamory,” and it is on sale as of today.

Not to brag or anything, but I got to read it before you did. And it’s terrific. No, I’m not just saying that. Seriously…it’s terrific.

I was there in the hotel suite on the night that Cooper was knighted with the nJoy Eleven by its creator, Greg DeLong last year at Catalyst Con East. And if he did not earn that knighthood with his dildo-wielding skills alone, he has definitely earned it in the pages of this book.

As a poly-curious person with no actual experience in non-monogamy (yet), I’ve read most of the primary resources on the topic… Tristan Taormino’s “Opening Up”… Easton and Hardy’s “The Ethical Slut”…and these are still very important pieces of literature But Sir Beckett of Elevenshire’s first-hand retelling of his dances with swinging and polyamory left me feeling much more confident in my pursuit of non-monogamous relationships. His outlook is warm, respectful, and downright hilarious.

You don’t have to be poly or a swinger, or even interested in non-monogamy to enjoy this book though. It’s just a really good memoir on it’s own, with just a few more graphic details than what you might be used to. Grab it. Grab it now!