Category Archives: feminisms

XBiz Awards & Upcoming Conferences

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Remember when I shot that incredible porn with Pink and White Productions called “Occupied” about a protestor from the Occupy movement who has a romantic interlude with a cop? Well, it won 2014 Feminist Release Of The Year from the XBiz Awards! What a way to start the year! As my usual pedantic self, I rambled on about why I love Crash Pad and why this win is important within the context of porn production over at their website. You can tell it was in post-production for awhile just from the length of my hair which is now mucchhh longer. It was obviously worth the wait!

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This film was an incredible shoot, one of my all time best performances, and a marker of incredible growth for me. I got take on some material that was close to my heart and play a character who was close to me and far, far, far from the image of a glamorous porn star. It was fantastic! When I was making this film, I was excited to do something hardcore that played off the tensions I was seeing and experiencing in Oakland. I wasn’t thinking about feminism so much as I was thinking very broadly about power and my relationship to it. It was great to take on a project where women occupying the traditionally masculine roles of protestor and cop weren’t treated as the punchline or end game. In your standard ‘lesbian’ fare, we wouldn’t be costumed anywhere near authentically. Usually those scenes are about ‘how cute she looks when she’s pretending to be in a position of that much power” which has its own appeal, trust, but gets old when that’s all you’re ever allowed to perform or see. There’s a lot of rich material to play from, we don’t have to get trapped in the same angle.

All my love to the Pink&White crew for always putting together a welcoming set, mad technical skills, a hot vibe, and great working conditions. I also want to encourage you to check out what Pink and White is up to because they’re going to keep getting bigger and better. They’re making waves in the world. I also want to say that I’m honored to have been in this category with other great directors and producers who are also doing cool things in porn. XOXOXO!

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Shibari Dojo Vienna

Shibari Dojo Vienna

 

I’ve also been accepted as a speaker for the 2014 Feminist Porn Conference in Toronto, April 5-6. I’ll be talking about the advent of moving picture pornography. We think of feminist-indie-queer porn as being an alternative to mainstream porn, but how did those norms become established and just how alternative is alternative porn anyway? This year I didn’t submit any projects for the awards because 2013 was the year I felt properly christened into my name “Mayhem.” I’m happy to come in and be the nerd I am and share some of the smut from great-grandma and grandpa’s attic.

You can also come see me at Theorizing The Web 2014 in Brooklyn, April 25-26. This conference is pay-what-you-can so please come out to see some fantastic presentations out in Brooklyn. I’m really happy to be on the lineup because this conference went out of its way to solicit presentations from sex workers and is being accessible in every way it can. It’s going to be hosted in a Brooklyn warehouse and I am always SO THRILLED when I get to speak in non-conventional environments.

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I’m interested in other speaking opportunities so please let me know if I should send an abstract to YOUR favorite conference. Let people know you want to see MAYHEM on the stage. I love challenging topics and I want to come to your local anarchist info shop, sex toy boutique, avante garde porn screening, death salon, sci fi panel, or dungeon discussion. If you get enough people together in your living room and feed me vegan eats, I’ll even come talk in your living room. True fact.

Shibari Dojo Vienna

Shibari Dojo Vienna

 

 

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Filed under About me, events, feminisms

Persephone Syndrome

To some, myths are stories. To others they are facts as real as any figure or number in a text book. To others still they are allegories or intuitive attempts to make sense of humanity. I belong to the latter category and I’ve long had an obsessive interest in religion and mystery cults largely inspired by the nightly reading of Greek mythology was blessed indeed to receive as a young child. It filled my imagination and did provide a guide to making sense of the confusing and conflicting acts of those around me and the confusion of my own consciousness.

The story of Persephone has been running through my mind as of late. Most know of it as an agrarian allegory. To the uninitiated, I shall summarize though bear in mind that her tale varies from tradition to tradition, time to time, and place to place. Greek mythology holds a stronghold in the imagination but this tale predates their dominance in the historical record. Most commonly, Persephone is the daughter of Demeter and Zeus and she is often know simply as “The Maiden.”

Persephone was a gorgeous little hippie baby, totally raised on organic food with lots of time in the company of nymphs and her mother Demeter who was a great goddess of fertility. Things were working out for them as the fields were vast as the sky and the world was warm and fruitful. Persephone had been gathering flowers and singing songs when she came across one she’d never seen before: a narcissus. When she plucked it from the ground a cavernous hole emerged with the thunder of a great chariot pulled by four terrible and beautiful black stallions driven by Hades, the god of the underworld. He had struck a deal with Zeus pointing out that someone had to be the keeper of the place where souls go and this was a shitty job, so far as godly duties go.

Hades wasn’t evil, he just tended to the more unpleasant part of life. There were no blue skies, golden rays of sunlight, or pretty little singing maidens for him to be sure. Moreover, his social life sucked. Everyone was polite when he made an appearance but no one really wants the god of the dead to arrive at their parties. He asked for a wife and Zeus, the patriarch that he was, told him to plant the Narcissus and to snatch his daughter Persephone when her mother wasn’t looking.

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Filed under BDSM theory, culture, erotic, feminisms, fetish, literature, myth, opinion, poly, rape culture, rough sex, sexuality

Women By The Wayside

I just read a fantastic essay called ” Green Screen: The Lack Of Female Road Narratives And Why It Matters” by Vanessa Veselka. One one hand, I had to smile and nod at the writer who questioned the lack of female road narratives because in so many ways she’s also describing the invisibility of whores with agency. What else is the street based sex worker but the quintessential “woman by the wayside?” Veselka introduces her piece with the shockingly large number of “Jane Does” recovered at truck rest stops and questions why the women who work at the businesses with the dumpsters where they are found never seem to recall any of these incidendents. I read between those lines with the solemn knowledge that sex commerce, either as a profession or an immediate survival tactic, is probably in the background of these stories.

Covering a fourteen-county area, I asked every senior truck-stop employee I could find about a hitchhiker found in a dumpster, but no one had ever heard of her. I broadened the scope of my questions: Had they heard of any homicides in any area truck stops over the past thirty years? They didn’t remember a thing. But what I was learning from the FBI painted a landscape of extreme violence, one that matched the world of my memory. By 2004, so many women had been found dead along the interstates that the FBI started the Highway Serial Killers Initiative to keep track of them. There were girls found in dumpsters, behind truck stop diners, off the side of the road on truck turnarounds—the national database listed over five-hundred Jane Does in or near rest areas and truck stops alone. Some of these were the very truck stops I was now passing through, and yet I couldn’t uncover even rumors of past murders. The strangeness of this crystallized when I visited a Pennsylvania truck stop where I knew for a fact that two women had been killed, one found only yards from where the woman I was speaking to worked. Still, she “had never heard of anything like that.”

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Filed under activism, community, culture, feminisms, sex work

This American Life v. This American Whore

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There’s a flashy literate opening to this story. It’s a tale of some sex workers out in San Francisco where the rent is so high, the top of overt prostitution is possible in even the most high end coffee shops favored by the wealthy white victors of the tech revolution. It has to do with a brilliant man with a great idea of sharing stories openly who came up with This American Life and its perfectly elegant title and its willingness to let a story happen as it does on National Public Radio. Ira Glass likes to put the spotlight on real people leading real lives.

Well, as long as those stories are neat and clean and don’t violate FCC standards.

Our stories aren’t often told because they’re illegal to talk about and that creates the isolation that can drive you crazy over time. What does it mean to be “NOT SAFE FOR WORK.” If you ask me, that’s the capitalist beast barking at people not to be distracted by their human drives for pleasure and spare time above directing their hearts, bodies, and souls for the profit of a hungry machine. Not safe for work…or not safe for “The American Way.” What we do for a living is in direct violation of actual FCC standards. We literally could not access the venue of “This American Life” because it is on NPR and yet what are we but whores trying to make it in a very hostile America?

We cannot access the resources that Ira Glass has to tell our banned, censored, taboo, NSFW stories but we live and experience every moment. To hear that NPR would threaten a lawsuit to a podcast being run out of an apartment that is telling a story that is just as real and American as all the others but is literally ILLEGAL to share in the format of its namesake is disgusting. No love of stories could be complicit in that bind. There is no profit being made. There are no grants for whores, there are no advertisers in the wings, and we only face criminal risk for speaking up the way we have about out lives on this podcast.

It’s obvious to me that they never even listened to the podcast. They just wrote the letter. Why bother to listen to what the whores have to say any way? We’re only murdered and thrown into jail for paying our rent. Not like we have stories to share, right? Right, NPR? The narratives of the anti-sex worker feminists who want to end sex trafficking without research or even the dignity of listening to the people they claim to want to rescue and insistent that incarceration is good for sex workers and the laws that imprison us are in our best interests.

This American Whore Flag

PRI has nothing to fear from underdog whores. It is gratuitous to make these threats.

Send your love to The Whorecast and your criticisms to This American Life. Check me out in Episode 4 and download them all!

EDITS:

The lawsuit is not from NPR. I wrote this after seeing the tweets to share my thoughts and opinions. HOWEVER, I do think that those who syndicate and carry “This American Life” need to hear from their listeners the same way that advertisers are held accountable for the content of shows that they support. If your local radio station carries “This American Life” then please tell them that you support “This American Whore.”

Also, here are more links and stories from:

Melissa Gira Grant
SF Weekly

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Filed under activism, feminisms, politics

Anarchists & Zines

street grafitti reading 'exercise empathy' on a light pole

So out in Oakland I made my way out to the East Bay Anarchist Book Fair which was a nice treat for a rainy day. I really value talking about social resistance and sharing literature and music and words with one another. The Humanist Hall in Oakland was the hosting venue who are tolerant hippies ready to take on the manarchists and chain smoking in the back.  It was also nice to match some faces to names and to get to re-know a friend I from college. It was strange and wonderful to realize that Laika Fox and I were taking our clothes off in Rocky Horror way back in the day. There’s something supremely awesome about crossing paths again and realize that political wheels in the mind can also be directed into swiveling hips and shaking tits.

This was a cool spread and I really do enjoy being in far left spaces. A lot of this material is niche and harder to find because it doesn’t have mass distribution. It’s true that you can access most of these ideas and many of the zines and books online but it’s also really empowering to create a space to see that others are browsing, too. I picked up books on anarchist queers, I bumped into a Syringe Exchanger that I met years ago at an HIV test training. I had been the one to roleplay his first practice positive test disclosure to and I was the intimidating one who had already been doing it for a long time. I remembered him instantly. I was so proud that he was still fighting the good fight. I totally love and support syringe exchange and overdose prevention and naxolene distribution. Sensible drug policy, to me, has always included overdose prevention as a part of first aid and CPR training. This should be integrated into all of our emergency care models.

Bash Back & Self Defense

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A Tower Of Babel

Mt, Wilson observatory, iPhone photo from the trail. 14 miles up and down, 4,700 ft elevation gain.

Politics is the art of articulating control and some voices have more profound global impact. Our modern age has given us dogma in legal language codified as legislation that was born of cowardice, forged in privilege, and wielded against the marginalized.

The “Tower Of Babel” is a great Judeo-Christian story of incredible relevance here. This was the story that made me doubt the existence of god but also awoke a kind of panic about authority within me. The Book of Genesis, in general, turned me off from the idea of God because it reminded me too much of Stargate. As a text the Judeo-Christian Bible does pick up quite a bit with all kinds of great philosophy and tremendous insight. But as a child I could not get behind the fascist god of genesis. The story of the “Tower of Babel” presented us with a humanity that came to gather after god’s genocide with the flood. Now, ostensibly, you might think this was the lesson of the flood–to learn how to love one another again, to work beside one another, to share a common language.

I have always interpreted this to mean sharing the language of love. This sounds hippie-dippie but stay with me: think of the time a stranger went out of their way to help you out with something simple. Maybe you were a little lost and in need of directions, maybe it was a quick freebie snack, maybe it was someone who didn’t make you feel like shit when you had to mention a boundary about personal space and genuinely accommodated the situation with humor. That was a time when you shared the language of love with someone and it does let you peek into a view of what those from “Shinar” experienced.

When people are taking the time to be present one another as individuals with a different contexts that require calibration for full communication they tend to get a lot of shit done. This is why you may have been subjected to work retreats even though that’s an industry in and of itself that has forgotten the purpose of the exercise. Another quick glance into the extent of empathy would be those rare and precious moments when you feel uncertain where your body stops and your lover’s begins.

The people worked together to build a tower to God because they shared a language, a purpose, and a plan to accomplish it and they were getting shit done. “A tower to god” is a symbol from my understanding. Perhaps, though, it was a tower. I look to our space programs and global space stations, I see the beginnings of a Tower of Babel. When you get to such heights you stop splitting so many hairs about the differences between individual humans because you’re united as earthlings exploring the cosmos. That’s the dream we seem to come back to across the ages, at least.

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Filed under activism, censorship, community, culture, feminisms, opinion, religion, skepticism

Happy Hippie Beauty Secrets

A very happy hippie.

The beauty industry is a lot of bullshit and you should check up on who you’re letting fuck your pores.

I’m a big fan of science and there’s lot of science innovations that are totally awesome for health and happiness and I don’t want to dismiss anything outright but one thing that’s important to remember about the word “industry” is that it usually means that money flows up to the top of a hierarchy that is usually a lot of rich white dudes whose motivations are to make more money, not to help you on your path to happiness. What they shill might be helpful or beneficial but when push comes to shove, the dollar they can make means more than you.

People in sex world know that phthalates are really bad for your health. We’ve smelled out gassing jelly toys and some of us may have felt the hot burning poker effect of a cheap shitty toy that apparently just expired by becoming an agent of chemical toxicity rather than an instrument of pleasure.

Well, phthalates are also in a lot of cosmetics. This is because phthalates  esters of phthalic acid that create a “plasticized” effect. They make the jelly toys bendy and soft, they make your foundation smooth. They allow for flexibility or transparency. Phthalates are actually in TONS of our products and in many ways I’m really glad that the sex toy activists started raising alarms about them in toys before the sex toy industry really grew to a monolith like the cosmetics industry. Sex toys were considered novelties with  really limited runs and few retail outlets because they were pretty much illegal (and are still treated as tenuously legal in a handful of American states). When I think of tangible things achieved by sex positivity, it was really strong messaging about phthalates that I would say has been much more successful than similar campaigns in other industries.

You would still be considered a “hippie” if you started asking for phthalate free cosmetics but you would be considered an uninformed consumer if this wasn’t on your mind while strap-on dildo shopping and you would run into a chorus of voices to pass on the good word.

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Filed under activism, at home, behind the scenes, community, culture, feminisms, harm reduction, hippie, opinion, sciences