How to Flirt With Your Conference Crush

I just got back from the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, and… wowza, y’all. There were a lot of cute people at that event.

While some of the cuties were folks I’d never heard of before I arrived, many of them were people I’ve low-key known on social media for a while. It’s maddeningly exhilarating to meet someone IRL and find that they’re even more adorable and charming than they were on the interwebz. That pleasant surprise can throw you off your game and make you nervous – maybe even so nervous that you can barely talk to your crush, let alone flirt with them!

I definitely fell into that trap with a few people this year. So I’ve put together this little guide to flirting with your conference crush. Hopefully it helps you – and maybe it’ll even help me at the next conference that rolls around!

Pre-game. If you start flirting with someone out of nowhere at an event, they might be confused or even put off – so it’s good to get a feel for their interest level and flirting style before the event itself. Build rapport over a period of weeks or months with jokes/jibes/compliments on social media. Find excuses to slide into their DMs, if they seem down to talk to you (our social media flirting episode of The Dildorks has some great tips on this).

Use this time to gauge how receptive they might be to your flirtations. If you’re particularly crafty, you might even be able to establish what types of activities you’d be up for at the con (“I have this new paddle I haven’t gotten a chance to use yet…” “It’s been so long since I’ve been properly fingerbanged!” “I’m looking forward to some possible makeouts at the event…”). Maybe you’ll plant a seed that’ll turn into a fun hookup later on!

Check in. Boundaries and consent are vital! Conferences are professional environments for many people, so your crush might not feel entirely able to say no if they’re not into you. This makes it super-extra important that you establish clear consent for any flirting-and-more that takes place.

Meta-communication is great for this, particularly if the crowd at your con is nerdy about sex and relationships. Flirting expert Reid Mihalko often recommends asking some version of “Is this a good time to flirt with you?” or “Are you open to being flirted with right now?” and I think that’s a good approach, so long as you’re attuned to hesitant yeses that are actually no’s.

If you’re not sure how you’re being received, you can also pay attention to the length and tone of your crush’s responses: are they engaging with your flirtation and coming back with their own, or are they simply acknowledging your comments with short responses every time? When you enter a room they’re in, do they look at you, smile, walk up to you, or do they avoid you? Pay attention to cues and do your best to be respectful. All the other tips in this post will only go well for you if your crush is receptive to being flirted with; if they’re not, doing this stuff will just be creepy or even harassment.

Use social media to your advantage. Many conferences have heavy social media engagement, so it won’t look too out-of-place to throw a few swoony tweets into your con coverage (provided, of course, that you’ve been getting good signals from them, as per my previous point). Some examples of things you could tweet: “OMG, @YourCrush’s outfit today is AMAZING 😍” “I keep hearing @YourCrush’s adorable laugh during panels and it makes me so happy!” “Thrilled I got to meet @YourCrush after loving their blog for months!”

You could also try tweeting general callouts like, “I’m going to the pool/business centre/balcony; y’all are welcome to join!” or “I’ll be at [x panel] next; come sit with me!” If your crush is creepin’ you like you’re creepin’ them, they’ll probably show up to some events you’re attending – at which point you can get yo’ flirt on.

More social media tricks for con flirting: send an “It was nice to finally meet you tonight; hope I get to see more of you!” DM a little while after saying goodnight. Ask them if you can get a selfie with them at some point (provided you’re also getting selfies with other people; don’t be a creep!). If they tweet about being at a panel they’re not enjoying, or not knowing what to do next, send a reply along the lines of “We’re at [x place/event]; you’re welcome to come join!”

Sync your schedules. Don’t follow them everywhere, obviously. That’s gross; don’t do it. But if you’re getting good vibes from them, you could try inviting them to lunch, telling them about a cool panel you’re planning on attending later, or letting them know about an after-hours get-together you’ll be at.

If you’re really getting good vibes, you could try straight-up saying something like, “Hey, I feel like I haven’t gotten enough time with you at this con! Wanna [sit together at this next panel/grab coffee and chat/come look at my dildo collection in my hotel room]?” Cons are busy enough that they’ll have an easy “out” if they want to say no but don’t feel comfortable being upfront (“Ahh, sorry, I can’t, I have to [go to a different panel/go talk to my friend/take a nap]!”).

Say yes to adventure. It’s easy to get tired, overwhelmed, or nervous at cons, which might lead to you declining invitations you otherwise might like to accept. While self-care is hugely important, you should also cultivate the ability to tell when you’re so tired that more socializing would actually burn you out, versus when you’re tired but still capable of going on adventures if you push yourself a little. Ask yourself which choice will make for the better story, or which choice will make you prouder of yourself in the morning. Maybe that’s going to the loud late-night spanking party, or maybe it’s ducking out early to have drinks with just a couple people at the hotel bar.

Cons can feel like a wacky dream, full of implausible situations with implausible people. If you receive an invitation that sounds fun but a little intimidating – like “Hey, come smoke weed with us in the parking lot!” or “We’re gonna play Strip Scrabble in my hotel room; wanna come?” – don’t just write it off immediately. It might lead to flirtation you would’ve regretted passing up.

Shoot your shot. Here’s what it ultimately comes down to: a conference is a time-limited opportunity to have lovely experiences with people you rarely get to see. If you want something to happen and it hasn’t happened, you can either give up, or take some action. If you’re getting flirty vibes from your crush but neither of you has taken much initiative, and the end of the con is coming up fast, it might be time to get real and make your move.

The best approach to this is going to depend on you and your crush and what kind of people you are. However, I asked some fellow introverty blogger friends, and their opinion matched mine: I think the best way to “shoot your shot” at a con would be to send your crush a DM saying something along the lines of, “Hey! You might have noticed by now: I think you’re super cute/charming/fantastic. If you feel similarly, would you like to [make out/play/hook up] sometime before the con ends? I’d regret it if I didn’t ask. If the answer is no, I’ll totally understand and won’t be offended at all, and I’ll still think you’re great!” My blogger friends agreed that a private message is better than a public tweet or an in-person convo for this, because it gives them an opportunity to think things over and phrase their answer carefully if they need to.

Have you ever had a conference crush? Did it ever turn into more than that?

10 Things I’m Looking Forward To At This Year’s Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit

The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit is about a month away, amigos! It’s “like sex blogger Christmas” – we wait all year for it to come, and now it’s nearly here. I hope to see you there, but if you can’t make it, you can follow along from afar by tracking the #SFS17 hashtag on Twitter and on Instagram.

There are soooo many things I’m looking forward to at this year’s Woodhull; here are my top 10!

The digital creators’ meet-and-greet. This is a fun opportunity for sexuality-focused digital content creators to meet up, talk shop, and get to know each other. There will be bloggers, vloggers, podcasters, and more. We’ll do skillshares and nosh on snacks – what could be better?! (You have to RSVP to this event in order to attend, so make sure to do that if you have your eye on it.)

Storytelling for Social ChangeI’m fascinated by the way narratives help us teach things, learn things, and feel things. Stories are powerful tools for anyone who has a message to share, and they can be particularly useful in areas where emotion runs high, like sexuality. This panel promises to explain “how storytelling techniques can be used to resolve conflict, reduce stigma, increase pleasure, and change the world.” Exciting!

Suz‘s butt after I spanked her with my Lexan paddle last year.

Spanking babes. I’ve only been to Woodhull once before, but hotel-room spankings there have already become a solid tradition in my mind. Let’s just say I’m packing some impact toys in my suitcase…

Femme As Fuck. This panel, put together by three glorious femmes, will discuss how the feminist movement has often devalued femininity and femmeness in its path toward empowerment and “coolness.” Fuck femmephobia forever, am I right?!

Bedpost Confessions. This yearly event involves sexy storytelling, provocative poetry, and carnal confessions. Then there’s a dance party. What’s not to love?!

Hurts So Good. This panel on pain disorders’ interaction with sexuality looks intriguing. I have some chronic joint pain in my hips and knees that’s often affected my sex life, so I’m interested to hear what folks with chronic pain issues have to say about self-advocacy and boundary-setting around pain and sex. (I wonder if they’ll talk about consensual pain, too?!)

Wearing ridiculous outfits. I feel closer to my “true self” at Woodhull than I do almost anywhere else, because everyone there is chill as fuck and knows me more as my brassy online persona than the awkward wallflower I often am “in real life.” As a result, I tend to dress weirder at Woodhull than at any other time all year. Last year, I rocked princess pajamas, a blue striped rockabilly dress, a sparkly mermaid ensemble, and a dress covered in vulvas. Who knows what silliness this year will bring?!

The Dildorks live recording. I’m absolutely thrilled to report that my bestie Bex and I will be doing a recording of our podcast for sex nerds, The Dildorks, in front of an audience at Woodhull! We’ll dole out our best tips for attending sex conferences, from making friends to absorbing workshop content to taking care of yourself. Come be a part of Dildorks history by watching our first-ever in-person live event!

Keep Giving a Fuck. This panel will discuss how to prioritize sex (or maybe whether to prioritize sex) when you’re going through tough times like health crises, financial problems, or – hell – the current political climate in the U.S. I always love seeing JoEllen speak, and I find her work so encouraging as a fellow sufferer of clinical depression, so I’m excited to hear her thoughts in this talk.

Hanging out with sex blogger friends. Chillin’ with the #BlogSquad was absolutely the highlight of my Woodhull experience last year, and I know this year will be more of the same! I feel so loving and grateful every day to have found a crew of like-minded sex-nerdy weirdos on the interwebz, and Woodhull’s one of the only times all year when we get to hang out IRL. I can’t wait to laugh til I cry, ogle each other’s sex toy collections, make bad puns, livetweet en masse, and feel surrounded by blogger love!

Will I see you at Woodhull this year? (If you spot me, come say hi!) What are you most looking forward to about the summit?

12 Days of Girly Juice 2016: 4 Fun Events

This year I was officially diagnosed with social anxiety disorder – a pronouncement so obvious to me and anyone who knows me that it was hardly necessary at all. My friends have seen me hyperventilate on the stoop outside a party, walk around the block six times before feeling ready to enter a gallery opening, smoke weed on my way to a networking event to make my presence possible, and break down crying in a busy Starbucks because I physically couldn’t walk into the newsroom at my school. Suffice it to say, events can be hard for me.

While social anxiety is moreso a curse than a blessing, it does make me extra grateful for events where I actually feel comfortable. It helps to have friends accompanying me who understand the anxieties I deal with, and I’m fortunate that wonderful friends accompany me to events more often than not these days. All my favorite events this year were favorites because of the fun, kind, welcoming people I got to hang out with – some of whom may not even know how much I appreciated having them there. Here are those events…

cg0oidxugaawrk0

#HaveDildosWillTravel is the official name and hashtag Taylor, Caitlin, Bex and I gave to our cross-country road trip in the springtime, after rejecting other options like #CarOfQueers, #RoadTripOfBabes, and #HitTheRoadJackOff.

Planned meticulously in Google Drive documents (mostly by Bex, my hero) over the course of several weeks, our trip began in New York, then meandered through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin, until we reached our destination, Minneapolis. Along the way, we attended a sex conference, bought kink implements at a toy store, oohed and aahed at the Leather Archives, introverted at queer cafés, ate artisanal donuts for breakfast every day, shopped at the Mall of America, ogled Colin‘s sex toy studio, and visited multiple queer-owned sex shops. On the morning of my 24th birthday, I woke up in Bex’s sister’s femme-as-hell bed in a Pennsylvania farmhouse; that night, I went to bed in a swanky hotel in Chicago.

The cast of characters on our wacky trip included, among others: a diner owner’s mother who didn’t understand our collars, an enthusiastic leather archivist who complimented my vulva ring, a helpful moustachioed hotel clerk, a hot domly dude who owned a kink-themed coffee shop, a beardy Tinder boy who owned far too many nerdy snapbacks, a self-identified radical fairy named Dragon who had once made “consent-based vegetable porn” on a commune, a friendly Tinder stranger nicknamed Face Tattoo, and a lifelong hero who kissed me on a sunny side street.

Although I’m 24 and have therefore theoretically been an “adult” for quite some time, it’s only within the past year and a half that traveling without my parents has become a frequent and normal thing for me. This feels like a rite of passage, a bastion of grownupdom, a milestone in my journey toward self-sufficiency. But though it makes me feel independent, I don’t have to do it all alone. Traveling with friends is so damn much fun. We laughed practically all day every day during #HaveDildosWillTravel, about everything from sex to scenery to selfies, and it’s a trip I will always remember fondly.

Photo from Smut in the 6ix’s Facebook page.

Smut in the 6ix sounded like a literal dream come true when I first heard of it. A collaboration between Playground and Spit, Smut was a day-long celebration of the burgeoning indie porn scene in my hometown of Toronto. During the day, porn nerds gathered for panel discussions about the technical, social, artistic, and political facets of porn creation. At night, there was a big gala with live performances, porn scene screenings, and lotsa dancing. Told you: a dream come true.

I was lucky enough to be asked to moderate a panel at Smut, and was also invited to perform some music at the gala. It was a terrific honor to be involved. I’m so grateful to Caitlin K. Roberts, Samantha Fraser, and Claire AH for organizing the whole shebang; as always, it was a delight to convene with my fellow sex-positive weirdos and get nerdy together!

In 2015, it made me super sad to see my favorite sex bloggers social-media’ing about all the fun they were having at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit. I resolved to do my very best to make it to the Summit in 2016 – and I managed to save enough money to make it happen. Hooray!

I flew to Washington by myself without having an anxiety meltdown (success!) and checked into the hotel, where I was sharing a room with Sarah and Artemisia. I hadn’t met either of them in person before, but they were so delightful, and totally ideal roomies for me!

Sex-positive events are where I feel most able to be myself. My anxiety mostly melts away and I throw caution to the wind: I dress weird, speak my mind, laugh loudly, and go on adventures. It helps that people actually know who I am at these events, making me feel like a powerful little starlet! Woodhull had also thoughtfully set up a “bloggers’ lounge,” perfectly appointed with coffee galore and sex toys to fondle. I felt truly in my element.

I wish I could’ve gotten to know everyone at Woodhull, but like many bloggers, I’m an anxious introverted weirdo and could only do what I could do. Luckily, though, I did make several new friends. April offered to let me borrow her lipstick for blowjob purposes; Mandi‘s laugh lit up my life; Lorax‘s dark sass slayed me; Sarah was so adorable and clever I wanted to high-five her constantly; I quaffed wine with Mary and Harry; I cooed over Crista‘s killer eye makeup and bought an Ethical Misandrist sticker from her; Polly‘s sex stories kept me on the edge of my seat; I finally got to ogle (part of) Lunabelle‘s epic dildo collection in person; I delighted in Girl on the Net‘s hilarious sexy poems; and Sugarcunt frequently made me laugh so hard I thought I might choke to death. Plus I got to spend time with several treasured blogger friends I’d met before: Suz, Piph, Lilly, CaitlinHedonish, JoEllen, and of course, my bestie Bex.

I spanked a beautiful butt, learned about sex ed and sexual freedom, attended a fancy gala, and snapped selfies with femme friends. It was truly – to steal a phrase from Lilly – “like sex-blogger Christmas.” I’m already daydreamin’ about Woodhull 2017, and it can’t come soon enough.

Photo via Taylor J Mace.

Bex wanted a spanking party for their 25th birthday, and so, #BirthdayBruises was born. It was lovely to celebrate this milestone with sex-savvy friends both local and far-away. I put on a ridiculous outfit and pranced around our cozy Airbnb playing hostess – a role which involved everything from serving drinks to administrating the livestream to spanking the birthday bean. When Bex had taken all they could take, they were accosted by cuddles on the couch and I brought them some refrigerated mint-chocolate truffles. Sex bloggers really know how to party, y’all.

I’m so glad that this experience was affirming and uplifting for Bex. It was for me, too, even though I barely got hit at all. It’s always comforting to marry my sex blogger life with my IRL/offline life, to blend those two friend groups together, to embody all my favorite parts of myself without needing to compromise or hide any of them. This party also demonstrated my friends’ immense generosity: guests helped us with tech troubles, took over hosting duties when Bex and I were otherwise occupied, and (of course) harnessed their brawn to make Bex’s birthday-spanking fantasies come true. Gosh, I love my friends.

What were your favorite sex-positive or sex-adjacent events in 2016?

Monthly Faves: Pink Dildos, Pink Lips, & Pink Butts

mosaicf943380c0b05bac4d0665c6c1e3518312835233d

This was my sluttiest month to date, if you use “number of different sexual partners” as your metric for sluttiness, and I’m having a lot of complicated feelz about that. Cultural messages tell us promiscuity is the domain of the love-starved, fucked-up, and emotionally empty. Vindictive slut-shamers tell us promiscuity is unethical, hurtful, and harmful. It’s hard not to take those messages to heart.

But when I get real quiet and listen to my own feelings, I get a glimpse of the truth. Sure, sometimes my sluttiness is a ruse to bolster my self-esteem and fill my oft-depressed days… but mostly, it’s not. Mostly, my pursuit of sex is a joyful one, rooted in self-love, excitement, and freedom. I’m always safe, I’m not reckless, and I maintain my emotional integrity in sexual encounters as much as I can – so it’s a happy part of my life, generally. It’s easy to forget that, but writing my Monthly Faves post at the end of each month is a way of reminding myself just how much delight is brought into my life by sex, in all its many forms. Gratitude rewires your brain and I think it’s good for your sex life, too. So here are some of the sexy things I treasured most in August…

Sex toys

Eroscillator sent me their Top Deluxe model and my clit is smitten. (“Clitten,” you might say.) I’ve loved my standard-model Eroscillator for over four years (!!) so it feels good and right to have finally upgraded to the fancier, more powerful version. I’m going to review it soon, but suffice it to say: holy hot damn, this thing makes me come like a mofo.

• I special-ordered Godemiche‘s new Ambit dildo in glittery pink silicone, and it makes me deliriously happy. It’s my dream femme cock. I can’t wait for the day I get to slide it through the O-ring of my pink leather harness and fuck someone cute with my sparkly dick.

• All of us bloggers got plenty of freebies at Woodhull. One of the treats I went home with is a little bottle of Sliquid Soul, a natural lube that’s primarily made of coconut oil. It’ll never be a go-to lube for my partnered encounters because I usually use latex barriers (and oil breaks down latex), but for solo fun or non-penetrative pleasures, it’s soooo sensuous and lovely. I love oiling up a glass or steel dildo so it’ll slide into me frictionlessly, and I love how moisturized and happy my vulva feels afterward!

Fantasy fodder

• I am an all-purpose spanking enthusiast. Whether I’m topping or bottoming, there is just something electrically hot and exciting to me about the impact of hands or implements on gorgeous butts. Sometimes there’s not even a particularly sexual element; I can spank or be spanked by totally platonic friends and I still get some kind of emotional satisfaction out of it. I try not to question it too much – who can tell why we like what we like? Spanking’s just something I enjoy, for whatever reason, and I’m glad I get so many opportunities to participate in it. (Check out the bruises I gave Suz. Yeesh. That lady is a champ.)

• You know, I don’t think of myself as much of an exhibitionist or sexual thrill-seeker, but I had two different sexual encounters in public places this month and enjoyed ’em both a lot. On one occasion, I got kissed, held down, and slapped around by a dom-y partner in an alley after a drinks date. Just a couple days later, I was out with another partner at night, and we walked through a deserted parkette and got a little handsy… and then a little more-than-handsy, naw’m sayin’? I’m not into involving spectators nonconsensually in my sexytimes, so I would only ever do this if I was pretty certain no one would see – but with that caveat, public fucktimes can be a rare treat!

• My kinks have shifted and changed a lot over the years, but one of the things that consistently and abundantly turns me on is when a partner knows my body really well. Maybe it’s my sex-as-a-service kink, but fuck, I love it when someone knows exactly how to get me off. My current longest-running sexual relationship is with an FWB who I’ve known for a year, and his expert grasp of my body’s erogenous zones and rhythms is so hot in and of itself.

Sexcetera

• It was so much fun attending my first Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit this year! I got to commune with several of my blogger pals, soak up sex-nerdy knowledge from smart folks galore, and feel like a renowned and respected maven. It feels so, so good to have a community of fellow sex bloggers to rely on for emotional support, professional advice, and commiseration. I’m so grateful that the internet has enabled me to connect with like-minded folks and build these friendships that matter so much to me. 💖

• I got to do a lot of sex-related writing on other websites this month! I wrote about introducing sex toys to a partner, alternative uses for sex toys, and buzzy vs. rumbly vibrations for Ignite, and I expounded on A-spot toys for Peepshow. (Did you know I’m always available for writing projects? Click here for more info!)

• I bit the bullet and launched a Patreon! Now you can support my work financially if you want to. Each reward level comes with perks – for example, for $1/month, you get to read regular behind-the-scenes journal entries about what’s going on in my life; for $5/month, you get to read each new blog post a day before it launches; and for $10/month, you get access to my Snapchat. Patreon is a lovely way for fans to support creators directly, so if my work is meaningful to you and you’ve got some money to chip in, I’d love for you to come join my crew!

Femme stuff

• Hot pink lipstick is a signature of sorts for me, and I’m always looking for that next life-changing pink. I recently bought Bourjois liquid lipstick in the shade “Pink Pong” (ugh, quelle terrible pun!) and it’s the exact type of cool-toned bright pink that gives me femme heart-eyes. Plus it smells good (sort of like pink grapefruit?) and the texture is smooth. Just don’t expect to be able to make out with someone or give a blowjob in this lipstick; whenever I try, I inevitably leave a pink residue all over my beau. (Luckily, I mostly date the kind of person who just finds this cute.)

• The beautiful Hedonish gave me an orangey-red Bobbi Brown lip pencil at Woodhull and I wore it obsessively for the rest of the trip (and then the rest of the month). I don’t normally like orangey lip shades on myself, but this one is weirdly flattering.

• My main femme obsession this month was my new tattoos! They make me so freakin’ happy every time I see them. At the time of writing, they’re still healing and a little itchy and sore, but I can tell they’re going to look incredible once the skin’s done regenerating. I used to be insecure about my chubby thighs, but it’s really hard for me to hate a part of my body that’s emblazoned with adorable pink bows and my favorite kinky term of endearment!

Little things

Lifestyles Tuxedo condoms, “the dressiest condoms on the market.” Woodhull inside jokes, like “Damn, he’s got a dick!” and #Dildough. Smoking weed in the parking lot like a bunch of teenage degenerates. Everything Joanna Thangiah makes. Meeting Nina Hartley. A smart, handsome boy calling me “a cool cute cinnamon roll.” The Adventure Zone, always. Coffee shop work-dates with friends. The feeling of accomplishment when I successfully navigate an airport by myself. Blogging on a plane. Stranger Things. My wonderfully kink-positive and poly-positive new therapist. Beer Doms. “I want to go somewhere quiet with you and just talk for hours.” Allison Moon’s inspirational talk on “self-publishing for radicals.” Tough-but-kind romantic advice from Epiphora and Lilly. Dungeons & Dragons. Carly Rae Jepsen. Goldilocks spankings. Mango smoothies. “Don’t take this the wrong way, because it’s a very good thing: your boobs are the boob equivalent of Mario in Mario Kart. They’re middle-of-the-road; they offer something for everyone.”