Saturday, January 22, 2005

Another email question…

I read your blog the other day. I began the experience as an innocent, with no knowledge of BDSM whatsoever, and finished with an understanding of some of the motivations of the people who follow the lifestyle. You are in a polyamorous relationship that you find very satisfying. I get some understanding of why that is in reading your blog. What I don't understand (and I don't mean this in a judgmental way) is why you have chosen this kind of a lifestyle over a monogamous one. What are the benefits of a poly relationship for you that have lead you to prefer it to a more conventional one? In my admittedly naive view, a poly relationship would seem to entail a large number of costs - jealousy, a large commitment in terms of time, work and emotional support to multiple people, societal disapproval, interpersonal relationships that shift between friendship and being openly sexual, greater STD concerns, and greater vulnerability to being hurt emotionally. For you to undertake such a relationship with your primary partner, there had to have been some benefit beyond having more varied and enjoyable sex. In my experience, I have had very close and satisfying relationships with people without having sex with them. So I don't see the non-sexual reasons for polyamory. Could you enlighten me?

I've heard this kind of question before, and while I'm not offended by it – uh, yeah, it's pretty naive. What this questioner is essentially saying is: why do you have to have sex with anyone besides Max? Why can't you just be friends with other people?

In some ways, I think this is rather like asking a gay person why he/she can't "just be friends" with people of the same gender instead of having sex with them. I can't be truly happy being monogamous because I'm not wired that way. I haven't "chosen" anything – it's just the way I am.

The strange part of the way this question is presented, however, is that the writer takes a position that both over- and under-emphasizes the power and importance of sexuality.

He over-emphasizes it by setting monogamy up as the gold standard, giving me arguments to show how much better it is – safer, easier, more time-efficient – and by questioning why I'd risk all those supposed benefits.

Yet simultaneously, he under-emphasizes it by acting as if having a sexual love relationship is just like having a good buddy with whom you also like to do the wild thing. This writer talks about sex like it's going bowling or something - he seems to think that Roman and I could have built exactly the same type, and the same level, of affection, intimacy, trust, closeness and love, without having had sex with each other.

Now, I have a good friend – Miss K. We've been good friends for about ten years. She and I know each other in certain ways that no one else understands, and I love her dearly. But I'm here to tell you: it ain't the same. Friendship is a vitally important part of being fully human. But a sexual love relationship is a whole different thing. You cannot substitute one for the other.

(Yeah, I've had casual sex with friends before, and while it's not on par with an intense sexual love relationship, I still consider even the most no-strings of sex to change the nature of a platonic friendship. But polyamory means "many loves" and sexual love relationships are what we're talking about here. Casual sex is a whole other discussion.)

Poly is complicated, no question about it. But if one is going to argue strictly on the virtues of minimizing risk and maximizing efficiency, one could say: why have sex at all? Remaining a virgin would eliminate all the concerns that the writer brings up. Jealousy, STD risks, the possibility of being hurt emotionally, loss of time for other things – they all become non-issues. But I'm guessing he wouldn't advocate that. Nor would I.

In a sexual love relationship, you open your heart to your partner. You expose yourself, you make yourself vulnerable, and you do that because you want to. You want to be seen and be known in the most intimate of ways, and part of that intimacy is physical. But - I know I don't really need to explain this, I know that the writer must understand the power of physical intimacy, because he's essentially saying that it's so important it should be reserved for Max. But at the same time he's saying that it's so trivial he doesn't understand why I can't just subtract it from my relationship with Roman without altering that relationship's essential nature. I don't think one can logically hold both those positions at the same time.

What I say is: there is a connection that only happens when your body and your heart move as one, and I call that love. I am actively polyamorous because I have the ability and the desire to share that kind of love with more than just one person at a time. And because of that, I have a life that's filled with love. I happen to think that's worth a few inconveniences.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Whatever man first said, "It's better to get pissed off than pissed on," and thought himself ever-so-witty, had clearly never met some of the guys that call me.

Ring ring!

Me: Hello?
Caller: How much do you charge for golden showers?

I think this guy has mistaken me for an a la carte menu. In fact, I have a feeling he's hoping he's at McDonalds. He's wrong on both counts.

Me: I do not charge per activity. I charge a per-hour fee for my professional time, regardless of what kind of scene I'm doing.
Caller: Oh. Well, what's your fee per hour?
Me: Two hundred and fifty dollars.
Caller: Oooo. That's kinda steep, isn't it?

It's not – it's exactly the same as everyone in town has been charging for some time. (Although I did notice lately that there's a newcomer charging three hundred. More power to her, if she's getting it.) Of course, he might also just mean "steep" relative to his discretionary income, which would be a not-my-dog situation. Either way, one always wonders how guys who say this think I might respond to such a remark. "Oh, do you think so? Tell me, dear man, how much would you like to pay me?" Surely, surely not. So I just say…

Me: Did you have any other questions I can answer for you?
Caller: Do you do fifteen-minute sessions?

Oh man. I get requests for half-hour sessions, and that's bad enough. But fifteen minutes? What the fuck does he think this is, a chair massage at an airport?

Me: No.
Caller: No?
Me: No.
Caller: But, I mean – you can't really pee for a whole hour, anyway. Can you?

I swear to god that's what he said. And there was the faintest little breath of crazy, I-know-it-can't-really-be-true-but-I'll-ask-anyway kind of hope in those final two words. I was so incredibly tempted to say "Oh, yeah! Sure I can." Just because then the little piss slut would be jerking off in a frenzy for the rest of his life, thinking about a woman who an hour-long bladder. A woman, I might add, that he'd never, ever get to meet. The torture of it!

But he'd never stop calling me. So instead I say…

Me: I think we're through talking now. Goodbye….

Piss off, indeed…

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Health, Kink, and Silliness...

Well, I don't think I'd want to go run a marathon or anything today, but, on the whole, I seem to be well again. Thank god, I hate being ill, it sucks. So that's the health update. Now on to pervy stuff...

Hey, all of you out-of-towners, this is the excuse you've been waiting for to come to Seattle...

Two Day Bondage Intensive - Bondage Basics Through Suspension
Saturday, February 12th/Sunday, February 13th at Studio 120 in Seattle. It's 11 hours of focused rope bondage instruction, starting from the basics and going all the way through suspension bondage. If you have a practice partner, register them too. If you don't, that's OK - we'll form small groups and everyone will get a chance to practice. Class size is limited, so early registration is strongly encouraged.
Max will not be doing stand-alone suspension workshops in the future, so if you want to learn suspension bondage from an expert, now's the time. This will almost certainly sell out quickly, so register soon. I'll be there, it'll be a great event, and you can go from rope novice to bondage whiz in one weekend. Go read all the details on Max's site.

Now that we've covered the educational thing, let's have some entertainment...

While I was ill, I was amusing myself pasting bits of my own blog into this thing and seeing if it says I'm a boy or a girl. It's only right about half the time, which either means the algorithm is lame or I'm a hermaphrodite.

Oh, this woman may actually have me beat for the most Completely Insane Email of the Century. Caution: Do not drink anything while you read this, because you will spit it all over the keyboard.

New blog: Trinity, who comments here often and who has kindly allowed me to post nekkid pictures/video of her, has begun her journal, here.... So go check her out, and say hi to her, if you've got an LJ account.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Well, my temperature has dropped down out of triple digits, and my voice is sounding much less like Harvey Fierstein. That's progress. However, I'm still not feeling wildly creative, so we'll just pull the top letter off the email stack and answer it here….

I have been reading your blog for about a month now and have to say keep up the good work!...Anyway, I wanted to ask a question and I understand that you probably don't have time to answer all the questions you must get. I was wondering if you, as a sex worker, and particularly as a dominant female, have any sort of body image struggles, or could speak to that piece of being part of the sex industry. I know that in your blog you mention going to the gym and stuff, but I am wondering if having many people find you desirable improves a person's body image. I realize that this could be an incredibly offensive question and I am not so much asking you as in what is your personal experience, but more asking you as an expert. Thank you in advance if you have time to answer this and if not thank you anyway for the lovely blog.

What a sweet letter. This lady is right, I don't have time to answer all the questions I get, but I can answer this one. I'm not sure I'd call myself an expert on women's body image in a general sense, but I am definitely an expert on my body image.

Let me admit one thing right up front: I like having people think I have a pretty body. And it's my opinion that since I'm a sex worker, it is not only a personal but a financial benefit to me to have what the average America thinks of as "a nice figure". Yes, my feminist side deplores the endless barrage of you're-not-good-enough messages that are beamed at women by fashion/beauty magazines. But realistically, I see those types of messages as a "take some, leave the rest" situation. I am actually not a runway model in New York. So do I need to be a size 1 with 10% body fat? No, I don't need that. But – do I think I'd be as personally happy or as professionally successful if I were a size 18? No, I don't. For me, it's a question of keeping everything in balance.

I also think what I do to maintain my body affects how I feel about myself. I am not the jock-ish type by nature. I'd much rather lie on the couch and read a book. But unfortunately, I lack the kind of hyper-speed metabolism that will allow me to do that while looking the way I want to look. And strict dieting is such a negative, pleasure-denying place to live in all the time. I think it makes you a bit neurotic, and it doesn't even work all that well, either. Thus, I've made my peace with the gym. Two hours a day, three days a week, and I can eat pretty much whatever I want without angsting about it. 6 hours out of 168? I can do that.

(Plus, yeah, it's making me healthier, cardiovascular benefit, weight-bearing exercise wards off osteoporosis later in life - yes, I know all that, but right now we're talking about the visible effects.)

So if you call that a "body-image struggle"…Well, okay, then - I guess you could say I'm struggling. But it doesn't feel like psychological trauma to me, it just feels like: this is what I want, this is what I have to do to get it – so, that's what I'll do.

Do I think there's pressure to look a certain way in the sex industry? Yes, although more so in some places than in others. In the strip clubs I danced at, for example, anyone over a size 6 was at a disadvantage, and anyone over a size 10 was pretty much dead in the water. But I see plenty of big beautiful women who are doing just fine as escorts and sensual touch workers. I think just about any woman, regardless of looks/size, can make a living in some aspect of the industry. Obviously, the more people your looks appeal to, the more clients you'll attract based on that, so from a purely business perspective, it behooves you to make your looks as broadly appealing as possible. If you're targeting a narrower potential-client demographic, you may have to compensate for that in some way, like aggressive marketing or superior customer service. However, I witness this being done successfully all time.

Do I think being a professional dominant has affected how I feel about my body? No, not particularly. I do think pro domming is an area where skill and experience are definitely valued, perhaps more highly than in other areas of the sex industry. But a pro-domme's potential clients are certainly not above making their choice based on the mistress's looks. There was a time – I'm talking the 1950's here - when this particular branch of the industry was so taboo, and thus the market so underserved, that you could make money no matter what you looked like. But those days are long gone.

Do I think having people think I'm desirable improves my body image? I wouldn't say "improves", exactly. It's nice, although women of different shapes and sizes than I are also lusted after just as ardently. But the bottom line (no pun intended) is that if you don't feel good about yourself, no amount of praise from other will convince you you're beautiful. I can remember being in strip-club dressing rooms with women who were - I do not lie - goddesses. Fucking beautiful goddesses, with flawless bodies. And they'd stand in front of the mirror and say, "Oh, God, my tits are sagging, my ass is fat, I'm so ugly." It used to kill me that they couldn't see how gorgeous they were. But you couldn't tell 'em – they wouldn't listen. Guys threw handfuls of money at them nightly, howled and whistled and rolled on the floor like dogs in front of these girls, but…"I'm so ugly!" If you have a negative image in your head, that's all you'll see when you look in the mirror.
So, you have to feel good about myself, and then having other people praise you will be icing on your cake. The trick, of course, is to figure out just what you need to feel good about yourself. And that's likely to be more about what's above your shoulders than below it.

Monday, January 17, 2005

You Give Me Fever...

Sorry, no dirty stories about the sex party last night. As you may have inferred from Rossi's comment below, the Mistress is feeling a bit...under the weather. The sore throat isn't the bad thing, it's the 101 degrees of fever that's making me feel like I took some bad Extasy; the high is interesting, but my body feels terrible.

I'm reasonably sure it's the same bug that got Twisted Monk - although he's about 36 hours ahead of me with it. (Gee, how'd that happen? Hmmnn.) So I'm gauging my probable recovery by watching his. Survey says: I should be fine by Wednesday.

Hey! The Tylenol seems to have kicked in - thermometer now says 99.8. That's helpful - I have to conduct a telephone interview today for The Stranger, and I'd really prefer to be lucid for that. Maybe I'll go take a tepid bath and see if that gets me down to 99.

When I'm better, I'll tell you about the two naked chicks who were in the cage in my bedroom last night. And no, I did not hallucinate them...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

What am I up to? Well, I'm busy with houseguests and such - Midori and her partner are staying with us this weekend, and if you're a kinky girl in Seattle, you should be at her party tonight.

Speaking of divas, I got a nice mention the UK newpaper, The Guardian, courtesy of the ever-gracious Belle De Jour, whose book is just out.

If you haven't already, check out this week's column, and the Kink Calendar.

I had dinner with Jake earlier this week, and in the wake of that, I have a private message for Jake's Canadian heartthrob. (This won't make sense to anyone else.) "Brionny, tell Vanessa to get over whatever weird issues she's got going on. Jake's a great guy, and she should definitely meet him face-to-face."
There. Now I've done my part for Romance...

Hey, remember to go vote for me in the "Best of Blogs" Contest! You can vote once every day. Voting ends Monday!