My birthday is 10.10.1984 so I just had my 27th birthday which I spent very quietly with Ned and the pets exactly to my heart’s desire. A hike, good sex, and an exceptional homemade steak dinner. It was perfection. It was just what I needed for the annual inventory of what I’ve done and where I’m heading.
It was a busy year for me filled with lots of achievements and adjustments. Our puppy grew up from a small and easy to carry fluff into her full grown lab/mastiff frame. I grew up with dogs and I’m happy to finally have one in my life again. It felt as though something snapped into place when we adopted her. I’m endeared to my cats but they don’t want to go backpacking with me in the mountains.
We moved out of our indoor apartment to something with a yard and plenty of space in September. I’m still unpacking my boxes and recalibrating normal for myself but I got that one in under the wire. Ned constantly impresses me with the way that he steps up to the game and works hard with me to build the kind of home that we want together.
In the spring, we decided to start working on Meet The Mayhems and the site may have been rolled out early but it’s sprouting and a fun project. The PSIgasm has been in development for awhile it made its piblic debut in workshops and at the Arse Elektronika festival where we took home a “Golden Kleene” award for sex machines, orgasmotrons and teledildonics. It’s been a productive year for the Mayhems and we have no plans to slow down any time soon.
Every year has its ups and downs and course. We also fielded the pornwikileaks fiasco which had a bit of a lengthy aftermath for me. I’ve joined the board of the Adult Performers Association board to help disseminate information, education, and resources about sex education and HIV/STI prevention. I don’t want something like PWL to ever happen again. The only way to do this is to reduce stigma, lobby for ways to help protect our privacy, and empower performers by connecting them with resources to help manage their finances and taxes, personal health and wellness, and communication skills.
I have also been exploring the skeptic and an atheist communities more even though I’m taking something of a beating right now at the James Randi Foundation for a brief essay on why I relate to skepticism. To be fair, it’s not my best writing but it’s frustrating to see people dismissive of the notion that my life pretty much relies on skepticism. I remember going out on my early gigs as a newbie in the industry and just how much I really pulled from videos by popular skeptics on the scams pulled by snake oil salesmen and exploitative preachers. The videos showing a scam in action along with point-by-point narration on how a cold reading works have saved from ass from people who had intentions beyond my wallet and into my body.
It’s more emotionally accessible to tap into a mental database of strategies that a scammer, con artist, or exploiter can use to part you from your money than it is to dig into a mental database of red flags that you may be talking to someone who wants to hurt your body. When it comes to people using psychological manipulation to deceive you, the sooner you get the fuck out, the better. I look back on some of the situations that I exited early on because they resembled a scam and I’m grateful I took the time to learn how one effectively “cold reads” another person and decided that it was of no benefit for me to stick around only to find out that they went on to hurt and take advantage of others. I can look back and say that watching those debunking videos, even as pure entertainment, has saved my ass on more than a few occasions because they gave me the confidence to walk away early before the situation escalated.
In a broader political sense, my life depends on skepticism because right now the popular dialogues about sex work are full of outright lies and falsehoods. It’s going to take more than sex workers and sex positive people to make sure that the separation between church and state is maintained when it comes to legislation about adult sexual freedoms. I need skeptics, loud skeptics, to keep demonstrating the times when religious ideology and policy collide to help keep my unincarcerated liberty in tact. I’ve been a longtime fan of Bullshit because it addressed the hypocrisies and inaccuracies of sexual morality to an audience that isn’t necessarily keeping sex positive or sex worker activism and highlighted the fact that the prohibitions against sex work, porn, and sex education are not based in factual evidence and primarily fueled by dogma.
The end result of this year has been reading Susie Bright for her amazing narration of political horror instead of the sex. Well, alright, in addition to the sex. I picked up her books for the erotica but now I run back to them for some kind of insight into just what the fuck I’ve gotten myself into. The first time I read stories about the bomb threat against one of her lectures I felt detached shock. When the pornwikileaks harassment escalated when I spoke out against it I looked back over Susie Bright’s body of work with different eyes.
It is so much fucking safer to be like me now than it would have been to be like me even just a few decades ago. I had to go back to those Susie Bright books because I’m a sex organizer who talked about labor and got harassed and she was a labor organizer who had to deal with bomb threats for talking about sex. It seemed like a good time to go back and see what I could learn keeping my own email inbox in mind. I cannot use the stars of another to plot my own course but at this point in time I’m just trying to figure out where true north is and what I can generally and vaguely expect to find when I get there.
There are times when I open my inbox and I wonder aloud what I’ve gotten myself into by listening to my own voice on these issues. I’m on the other side of a cultural divide and I can never go back. The gap looks wider every time I look. At the same time the idea of not doing what feels right for me sounds awful. Then again, I’m hardly unique in my ambivalence. So many of my peers from my graduating college class are clutching diplomas that aren’t getting them the jobs they need to pay for the degree that isn’t even relevant to what they’re doing for a living.
I studied literature and I guess I took away the idea that you can write your own story. This is mine and as Dr. Gonzo famously said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
I’m happy with what I’ve carved out for myself and the terms that I’ve kept. I enjoy my new home and yard space with fruit trees. I’m exceptionally happy in my relationship and I’m invigorated by the excitement of building something with him. Still even with this I feel fettered with nagging questions.
Do I want to be a better writer? Do I want to put in the amount of work I know that I really need to put into it? Or do I want to be a better activist and put my ideas for what could be into action? Do I want to work on being a better erotic performer and pornography producer? Do I want to throw myself into sex technology and continue developing the software and hardware in the PSIgasm at full throttle? Most of all, do I want to keep putting myself out there even though I know I’m going to get burned?
What kind of mayhem do I make this year?