6 Reasons to Get Your Ass to SMUT in the 6ix

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Did you know that Toronto is one of the up-and-coming porn hotspots of the world?

Well, sorta. We’re no L.A., but there’s some exciting stuff happening here in the realm of indie porn. And there’s an event coming up that’ll prove it.

SMUT in the 6ix is a “magnificent celebration of perviness” masterminded by Caitlin K. Roberts of Spit, Samantha Fraser of Playground Sexuality Events, and Sophie Delancey of Tell Me Something Good. It’s happening next Saturday, the 14th of May. Here’s six reasons you should buy your ticket now and join me there…

The panels.

SMUT’s daytime programming consists of four panel discussions on topics related to porn. These sessions will cover several aspects of #PornLyfe, from social stigma to diverse representations to camera skillz.

They’ve got a ton of great speakers lined up, including MakeLoveNotPorn.TV curator Sarah Beall, CinéSinclaire bosslady Kate Sinclaire, and indie porn darling Rebecca Deveaux, among others. And – drumroll, please – I’ll be moderating one of the panels! So you’ll get to see me being a Smartypants McCutieface. Bonus.

The performances.

SMUT’s nighttime gala will feature burlesque, spoken word, live music and dance. All the performers are local and you can be assured their acts will be appropriately smutty. Emceeing the evening is Dane Joe, who I can tell you from firsthand experience is charming as hell. (And also knows how to wield an Eleven like a fuckin’ champ. Unf.)

Plus… I’ll be performing, too! I’m gonna bust out some dirty ukulele songs. You don’t want to miss that, surely?!

The party.

The gala will have DJs, dancing, and general merrymaking. S’gonna be a hoot!

In particular, I’m interested to see what everyone will wear! The sartorial intersection of “fancy” and “smutty” is always an interesting one.

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The babes.

There are soooo many attractive people in our local porn scene. And I’m using the word “attractive” in a deeper sense than just the physical one (though they are visually babely, too). If you (like me) are attracted to smart, funny, easygoing, sex-positive, feminist cuties, you’re not going to find a better event to get your flirt on than SMUT in the 6ix.

The porn.

Of course, no porn-centric event would be complete without, y’know, porn. Rebecca Deveaux and my pal Taylor J. Mace are curating and co-presenting a selection of homegrown porn at the event. If you’ve never watched porn in a roomful of people before, you should – it’s a unique experience, and can be a lot of fun!

The bragging rights.

Spit‘s going to be a big deal in the porn world one day, and so is the city of Toronto! Get in on the ground floor of our burgeoning indie porn scene, so you can say you liked Toronto porn before it was famous.

 

Check out the SMUT in the 6ix website and then buy your ticket! At just $37 for the whole day, it’s one of the cheapest sexuality conference tickets I’ve come across. I hope to see you at SMUT; make sure you say hi if you spot me!

Playground Diary, Part 1: Biscuit Porn, Short Skirts & Special Brownies

Ha. Remember last week when I prophesied that Playground would be “one of the best weekends of my year”? Yep, I was right.

imageMy Playground adventure began with a Thursday-night porn party hosted by the beautiful and wonderful Kate Sinclaire. Kate knows porn: her softcore site Cherrystems and soon-to-launch porn site Ciné Sinclaire are the cat’s pajamas. She showed us some stuff she’d been working on, all of which was hot and fresh and compelling. Then we watched various other clips, including this adorable one in which Zander Storm shows you how to make biscuits, while wearing nothing but an apron. CUTEST.

I got to meet several cool folks at that get-together who I would see intermittently for the rest of the weekend – including Rogue, who has been a Snapchat buddy of mine for ages! Yay!

The next day, I had two psychology exams practically back-to-back, and got through them only by reminding myself that I was going to Playground that night.

imageBex came over to my house and it was sooooo good to see her again. (We last hung out at SHE and, before that, at DildoHoliday.) She waited around for me while I got ready (a recurring theme of the weekend – sorry, Bex) and then went for dinner at my fave, 7 West. From there, we headed over to the hotel where Playground was taking place.

We missed the opening keynote but arrived in time for Tell Me Something Good, the monthly sexy storytelling event which is always one of the highlights of my month. I got to see (and introduce Bex to) a bunch of my favorite folks from the local sex-positive community. We got drinks, listened to stories, and laughed our asses off. (Dan and Tynan are two of the most hilarious people I know.) I even got to tell a story of my own – in a very, very short dress. Whoops.

We went upstairs for a tiny, intimate hotel room party that involved “special” brownies, Truth or Dare, and ridiculous mispronunciations of the word “boudoir.” Ooh la la.

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Bex and I began our Saturday morning at a talk on solo polyamory, given by Eva Dusome of Polyamory Toronto. I am just at the veeeery beginning of my foray into poly life, and while this workshop wasn’t the 101-level introduction I probably needed, it still gave me a ton of insight and food for thought about what kind of poly person I might want to be. By the time the session ended, my brain was positively abuzz with thoughts of autonomy, connection, individuality, introversion, the illusion of control, and the ways in which self-care is vital to relationships.

After that, we went to Create Your Own Porn, a panel featuring (among others) Kate Sinclaire, Sophie Delancey, and Taylor J. Mace, three of my favorite pornographers who also happen to be three truly delightful people. Also there was Sonya JF Barnett, whose work I remembered from a feminist porn screening I attended earlier this year. They shared many useful tidbits about the technical and back-end side of porn creation, probably launching the careers of several audience members with porn ambitions!

imageAfter lunch, we had intended to go to the Spit erotic boudoir shoot, but there was a huge lineup (yay, good for them!) so we went back down to the exhibitor room instead. I bought some fancy lingerie from EmMeMa and we also ogled leather kink goods, stainless steel sex toys, and fetishistic femme hair accessories. It was truly a cornucopia of Cool Sex Stuff.

It was fitting that I followed up lingerie shopping with a panel on femme identity. Some femmes on this panel I already knew, and some I didn’t, but all of them brought perspectives to the table that opened my eyes and engaged my heart. This was easily the most emotional session of the weekend for me, because femme erasure, femme competition, and femme underappreciation are all things I’ve experienced and things I’ve felt stupidly alone in. So much of what the speakers said was relatable, not only to me but seemingly to everyone else in the room. The sense of crowd-wide solidarity was palpable and it took a lot of restraint for me not to cry – but I don’t think anyone would’ve judged me if I had.

After that last session, I located Bex and we headed back to my place to get ready for prom night… (This story to be continued in part 2 of my Playground diary!)

Feminist Porn Week Diary, Part 3: Fuck Dolls, Phoenixes, & Accountability

On Thursday April 16th I went to the Public.Provocative.Porn screening at the Bloor cinema. Good For Her hosts this event each year as an accompaniment to the Feminist Porn Awards: it’s an opportunity for attendees to see a broad sampling of the nominated porn films before the awards ceremony.

I crowded into the theatre with a tiny cup of wine and some peanut M&Ms from the Dollarama next door and settled in to watch the 14 (!) different porn shorts on the program. There was a lot to talk about in those clips but here are some personal highlights:

• Last year’s Heartthrob of the Year, Zahra Stardust (a.k.a. the world’s cutest Australian femme princess), screened her film “Fuck Dolls,” in which she and Lexi Laphor writhe around on the girliest bed of all time, fucking with Barbies. By which I mean both “making Barbies fuck each other” and “using Barbies as sex toys.” Zahra wears silver glittery thigh-high boots, there’s a pink sheath over her Hitachi, and the whole film is chock full of cute girly underwear. I turned to my friend and said, “This is the femmiest thing I’ve ever seen in my LIFE!” and she replied, “I know! This is my dream!!”
• Tobi Hill-Meyer’s film “Bound By Borders” is a “docu-porn” in which she and her long-distance partner intermittently have sex and discuss the injustice of their situation: immigration laws, marriage laws, discrimination against poly relationships, etc. We got only a brief taste of the film at the screening but it was enough to leave me and my friend crying quietly into our sleeves. I’d love to see more of this blend of real-world unsexy emotions with sex in the porn of the future.
• Skyler Braeden Fox made his film “Hello Titty” as a goodbye to his breasts before getting top surgery. What we saw was trippy as fuck and included my favorite on-screen domme, Sadie Lune, being delightfully weird and capping off the scene with a lactation money shot. Yes, you read that right.
• I was excited to finally get to see a clip from Shine Louise Houston’s side project Heavenly Spire, after hearing her mention it at the Feminist Porn Conference two years ago and being immediately intrigued. It’s a porn series that celebrates masculinity on all sorts of different bodies. The clip we saw was a kinky tryst between two cis guys, and it was hot as fuuuuck.

After the screening, there was a brief Q&A with some of the filmmakers and performers. It was cool to see so much local Toronto talent on that stage, including my buddies at Spit!

The next night, Friday April 17th, was the centrepiece of the whole week: the Feminist Porn Awards gala! I spent a couple hours getting thoroughly dolled up (outfit details in a minute) and then rode the subway to the Capitol Event Theatre. (Taking public transit while in full formalwear is always a laugh and a half, lemme tell ya.)

I arrived during the pre-show cocktail hour for VIPs and nominees (and media folks comme moi), so I spent some time milling around the bar sipping white wine and chatting with various porno folks. I am super awkward and the idea of approaching my favorite pornographers to compliment their work is utterly terror-inducing, but I managed it a couple times with the help of alcohol. Hallelujah!

As per usual, the event was emcee’d by Ryan G. Hinds and Lex Vaughn. Some of the presenters were folks I know, like Sophie Delancey and Sam Leigh from Tell Me Something Good, and fellow sex bloggers Lorax of Sex and Kara Sutra. The acoustics in the theatre unfortunately made it really hard to hear what people were saying, but, y’know… they looked fantastic.

CoCo La Creme did some burlesque for us, and was ravishing as always. Her act involved a gas can and a handful of baby oil. The crowd was flabbergasted in the best possible way.

Morgana Muses won the Heartthrob of the Year award, which, hell yeah. She got involved in porn after leaving her marriage in her mid-40s, and the film for which she was nominated this year showed her suspended in gorgeous rope bondage, dressed as a stunning phoenix, symbolizing her “rebirth from the ashes” of her old life. I watched the scene in awe and it is a perfect example of how so much eclectic, emotional, life-affirming stuff shows up under the umbrella of feminist porn. I’ve never walked away from a mainstream porn scene feeling profoundly affected or inspired to change my whole life around, but feminist porn has this effect on me regularly. Amazing.

I was also thrilled about Spit winning an honorable mention award. They’re still a very new company but are deadset on proving they earned this honor and having even better stuff to show off next year, and I totally believe they can do it!

There was some controversy surrounding the FPAs this year, which unfortunately the hosts opted to make light of instead of addressing in any real way. Tobi Hill-Meyer’s acceptance speech on behalf of Courtney Trouble touched on these issues in a tactful and respectful manner; I’m glad someone said something about it (thank you, Tobi) and I sincerely hope the FPAs will address some of the community’s concerns by next year.

Before I sign off this series, some quick outfit pictures!

For the Thursday night screening, I kept things casual and wore a lilac tank top tucked into a black bandage skirt, with a black leather jacket and harness boots. My lips were also painted deep purple, because the feminist porn crowd is a community that can truly appreciate a gothy lip, methinks.

For the awards gala, I wore a strapless black tulle dress that I’d scored at Value Village for $10 (#blessed) with red T-strap heels and a little red bag, both also thrifted. I did a red lip with NARS Cruella and a L’Oreal glossy stain, and felt preeeeetty babely.

Well, that’s my whole Feminist Porn Week wrap-up! (Read the two previous parts here and here.) How did your week go?

Feminist Porn Week Diary, Part 2: Dildo Platters & Tampon-Twirling

On Wednesday April 15th I went to the Royal Cinema to see Erika Lust speak about her vision for the future of porn. After her brief talk, she screened several scenes from her inspirational paysite XConfessions – which, as you might remember from my review, I loooove!

Erika’s porn is aesthetically gorgeous, undeniably feminist, and often quite funny. When “I Wish I Was a Lesbian” started playing, I turned to my friend and said, “This is the one with the platter of dildos!!” and I think she thought I was joking… There was also a scene where a man fellated a penis-shaped lollipop in the middle of a public park, during which the audience laughed uproariously. Erika’s sense of humor really shows through in her porn, in addition to her sexual and artistic proclivities!

I think my favorite scene I saw at that screening, however, was “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” in which a seemingly straight cis man starts dressing up in drag and is surprised to discover his partner gets turned on by it. This scene is such a perfect example of how Erika refuses to shy away from topics other porn companies might find distasteful or just hard to categorize.

My outfit that night included a navy and white striped shirt tucked into a black and white polka-dotted skirt, with red tights, red lipstick, and black Doc Martens. I was kind of going for a “50 shades of grey” theme, because of where my evening went next…

After the XConfessions screening, I literally sprinted to the streetcar stop so I’d be on time for the Drunk Feminist Films screening of 50 Shades of Grey. Drunk Feminist Films is a new screening series at the Revue Cinema and it is exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of clever intersectional feminists crowd into a theatre, load up on wine and beer (if they want to), and watch a movie through an analytical lens. Now that’s my idea of fun!

DFF’s 50 Shades event began with a brief talk on BDSM and consent given by kinkster, trauma survivor, and game-maker Soha Kareem. She contextualized the abuse perpetrated by Christian Grey by contrasting it with how real kinksters operate. I felt so proud and fortunate to be at the kind of event where this potentially life-saving information was expressed.

We were all given fliers bearing the drinking game rules for the movie. They encouraged us to drink every time Christian employed abusive tactics, every time Christian ignored something Ana said, every time Ana said something self-effacing, and so on. Needless to say, most of us got pretty drunk. (That movie is a fucking mess.)

My favorite thing about this event, however, was the feeling of feminist sisterhood directed at Ana’s character. Lots of 50 Shades critics have targeted Ana as complicit in her own abuse, or stupid and naive – but at the Drunk Feminists screening, we were encouraged to yell “AGENCY!” and twirl tampons in the air* every time Ana stood up for herself. And, contrary to what I remembered from the last time I saw the film, there were plenty of moments like this. I found myself practically crying each time Ana pushed back against Christian and the whole theatre of feminists erupted in applause and celebratory tampon-swinging.

*Yes, tampons were provided. Yes, it was awesome.

Then I rode home on the subway while sleepily resting my head on the shoulder of a feminist male friend of mine, who asked for my consent before stroking my hair in a comforting manner. So overall it was a pretty fantastically feminist evening!

The next and last part of my FPW wrap-up will cover the Thursday night screening and the Friday night awards gala, so watch out for that!

Porn Review: XConfessions

When asked to explain what “feminist porn” is, one of the definitions I often come back to is: it’s a genre of porn that prioritizes women’s authentic sexual fantasies and desires.

It seems like that’s the definition favored by Barcelona-based feminist porn director Erika Lust, too, since that’s exactly what her XConfessions series sets out to do: bring real women’s sexual fantasies to life on screen. Users of the website submit their juiciest fantasies, and Erika picks her favorites and turns them into porno shorts.

I first discovered XConfessions this past February when I attended a porn pyjama party at my local sex shop Come As You Are (yes, CAYA is awesome and does awesome stuff). Two of the films they screened that night were Erika Lust’s I Ama Verry Badx Secvretary and Let’s Make a Porno. What immediately struck me about these films was that they are beautiful, visually: they use a lot of natural lighting, and they have a lot of genital and face close-ups that are fabulously dirty without being porno-gross.

Audio is important to me in the porn I watch, and XConfessions gets it right, in my view. There’s a good mix of music and natural sex sounds (moans, the slapping of one body against the other, etc.): neither overpowers the other. Overall these scenes have the production value of a really well-done indie movie. I think it was smart of Erika Lust to prioritize quality visuals and audio so highly; it seems to me, to generalize from purely anecdotal evidence, that women tend to care more about these things than men do, and so if you wanna make a women-friendly porn site, you have to make sure it looks and sounds nice.

While XConfessions could do a better job of featuring non-normative bodies (fat folks, trans folks, folks of color, etc.), they do feature an impressive amount of body hair, including pubic hair. There’s also a lot of sexy accents in these films: French, Spanish, British, and various others. These are small details but they add to the overall appeal of the scenes for me.

Some of the fantasies depicted are fairly “normal” and close to vanilla: romantic sex, lesbian sex, sex with a male escort. Some are a little kinkier: spanking, pegging, being bullied by a sadistic personal trainer. But the scenes I find most interesting are the ones that really push boundaries and explore territory that other feminist pornographers might shy away from.

There’s a scene about being taken advantage of while drunk, one in which a couple roleplay as a pair of animals in a predator-and-prey situation, and even a scene that takes place in a slightly creepy kids’ playroom (it reminded me of that weird scene in Wolf of Wall Street). These scenes are risky, sexy, unusual, and brave. They’re in line the same feminism I subscribe to, the one that says no sexual activity is “unfeminist” so long as it’s mutually and enthusiastically consented to.

Some of my favorite scenes include Cinéma X (sex in a porn theatre, including some fabulous cunnilingus on top of a piano), I Believe in Happy Endings (a sensual woman-on-woman massage followed by manual and oral stimulation), and A Weekend in the Garden of Eden (an idyllic outdoor fuckfest that begins with the handsome British star explaining the benefits of fruitarianism). Most of the scenes are between 10 and 20 minutes long, which I find is ideal.

A lot of these scenes build up slowly, taking a few minutes to create context and atmosphere before getting to the sex. This plays well with the old stereotype about women preferring “storyline” porn, but if you’re not into that, you could either skip the first 2-3 minutes of each scene or skip the site altogether. Personally, I don’t mind a little backstory in my porn.

Tech-wise, I sometimes have issues streaming the videos directly on the site, for reasons that might have to do with my setup or with theirs; I don’t know. Luckily, however, members can download videos in HD or SD, so I quite often do that instead of streaming them. I know that it can present piracy issues for porn providers to allow their videos to be downloaded, but I always appreciate when that option is offered, since it enables me to watch even when I’m having internet problems or experiencing any other barriers to accessing the streamed versions.

Membership is $19.95 per month if you sign up to be billed month-by-month, but as with many porn paysites, you can get a discount if you sign up for multiple months in advance. It’s $39.95 for 3 months or $99.95 for a year. I think those prices are very reasonable, considering what you get: full streaming or download access to the 38 films already on the site, plus the two new ones posted every month. Membership also allows you to submit your fantasies to the XConfessions database and to read and comment on others’ fantasies.

Overall, I really, really love this site. This is the kind of porn I am always looking for, and I know lots of other women (and men, and non-binary folks!) who would love this kind of thing too. It’s visually stunning, well-produced, sexy as hell, and it’s based on real people’s relatable and delicious fantasies. Yes, yes, yes!

Thanks so much to the good people at XConfessions for letting me review their beautiful porn!