Last Friday was a knockout for me. I’m still a little high from it.
The main project that I’ve been involved in for the last few months, which has taken even more time and energy away from this blog (but worth it), has been co-conspiring with Elizabeth Wood on expanding her personal blog into a full-blown web community called Sex in the Public Square. The purpose of Sex in the Public Square, briefly, is to provide a public space for intelligent discussion of sex. Both Elizabeth and I are big believers in the idea that talk about sex shouldn’t be locked behind closed doors. What we have now is an obsession with sex, mixed with a conviction that sex is a toxic thing, and our public world, at least, should be kept G-Rated. We want to see the day that we put that idea in the ground and bury it so deep that no one can ever imagine it existed.
What better way to celebrate the creation of a website devoted to keeping sex out of the closet than to throw yourselves a massive coming-out party? Well, that’s what we did. It was last Friday the 17th, at Rapture CafÃ©, a very queer and very cool new coffee house/bookstore/bar on Avenue A in the East Village. For those of you in NYC, I highly recommend that you check out Rapture.
Our party was scheduled to run from 7 to 10 PM, and to celebrate our birth, we got five of the smartest, sexiest people in New York to read and perform for us:
- Lux Nightmare, one of the originators of the alt-porn genre, back when it was really “alt,” and the creator of Boinkology.com, read an essay about what she calls “the pink ghetto,” or how you basically resign yourself to not being taken seriously by the world at large when you make a career writing about sex. I thought this was a great way to start off our coming-out party, since it ties into a lot of the reasons that we exist at all. It’s still rattling around in my brain a little, and if I have the opportunity, I’m going to write more about the ideas that Lux talked about.
- Rachel Kramer Bussel is pretty much damn ubiquitous in the NYC literary sex scene. If you haven’t seen her read or run across her at a party, it’s just pretty obvious you just don’t take your perversion seriously. In fact, you just aren’t fucking trying. I’m kind of in awe of how many events Rachel attends, how many anthologies she edits, and how many stories/interviews/essays she herself creates. She read us a story that, in my experience, kind of unusual for her: it was written under a male pseudonym from a male P.O.V. about the main character getting his cock sucked. Rachel definitely heated up the room. Check out her monthly reading series, In the Flesh, if you haven’t already. Next one is “Best of In the Flesh,” on September 18, so that might be a good one for virgins.
- Ignacio Rivera, a trans poet, performance artist, and activist performed several excerpts from his one-man play, Dancer. This was the second time that I’ve gotten to see pieces from Ignacio’s play, and goddamn me, I’ve never gotten to see the whole thing. One of the things that I love about Ignacio’s work is that he addresses sex work from a viewpoint of economic justice — that is, it’s about work, and there are themes of class and race that often get left behind because any talk about sex often gets overwhelmed by adolescent titillation.
- Audacia Ray is another powerhouse of the New York sexual intelligencia. She read to us from her recent book about the phenomenon of cybersex and what it means for women in particular, Naked on the Internet. Fortunately, the bits she read from didn’t include the interview she did with my girlfriend, which has a particularly embarassing anecdote about myself from the early days of our “courtship.” (For lack of a better word to describe bouts of mid-afternoon fucking.)
- Veronica Vera took my breath away just by being there. She’s also known as Dean of Students and Founder of Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to Be Girls, and is one of the classic porn stars from the era before porn migrated to the San Fernando Valley and became all silicone and artificial tans, and her presentation lived up to that legacy. She showed an incredible photograph of her being eaten out by a graceful, powerful black man, called “Veronica and Marty.” The photographer was Robert Mapplethorpe, and she told us the story of modelling for him in the early 80’s. Listening to her talk about stories about a New York that I never knew, buried now under the fear and death that AIDS brought, and the petty authoritarianism of the Giuliani administration.
In addition, Lisa Vanderver, the founder and sick genius behind Cinekink loaned us a couple of shorts to show our audience. We showed The Wet Spots’ ode to anal sex, “Do You Take It?” and a great short film called “Filthy Food” which is really, really only about food. If you haven’t seen either of them, click on the links. They’re two of the most joyfully shameless films I’ve seen, and they were absolutely perfect demonstrations of what it means to stake a claim to pleasure openly and publicly.
I was terrified for the week before the launch party; I’ve really never, never done anything like this before, and I could imagine a million things going wrong without even trying. But nothing did. Everything went right, and now I’m imagining a million things that we can do beyond this. Elizabeth and I met today at Rapture to talk about the future, and I’m feeling really optimistic, something I haven’t felt so strongly for a long time. Plus, both the readers and the people who attended reminded me of something that I need to have driven home occasionally: what a fantastic, diverse community of perverts we have in NYC, and how much potential is there.
For those who were there, thank you very much. For those who missed it, whether because of geography or other reasons, Viviane shot some great pictures, which you can see here.