We proceeded with caution as we moved through the 80s, realizing the potentially dire consequences of the “if it feels good do it” school of thought, regarding impromptu hookups and unprotected sexual encounters. But propelled by our lust and unflagging desire, and armed with rubbers, dental dams spermicides and the like, we proceeded, none the less.
When thinking back on the 80s, I remember big hair and over-sized shoulders — influenced by TV shows such as Dallas and Dynasty — strong-hued lip color, sharply accented cheekbones, enormous earrings, fingerless gloves, and darkly outlined eyes. We were hard-edged in that decade, in our Doc Martens, high platform boots and needle-toed pumps, and in our formfitting skirts and slashed jeans. Leather was in, bigtime, along with a rise in popularity of tattoos and body piercings — in a blatantly sexualized look that glamorized both Punk fashion and the trappings of BDSM Culture. Heavy chains worn as belts and ripped fish-net stockings; safety pins, studded leather collars and wrist cuffs became mainstream fashion accessories — worn by teeny boppers who were drawn to the look because it was in — with little or no inkling of the counterculture lifestyles they emulated.
Art at that time was hard-edged as well and designed to be decorative. Think Patrick Nagle and his stark female illustrations , and the deliciously strong-hued, lushly erotic individuals painted by Polish artist, Johanna Zjawinska. For me, strong memories of music videos recalls Robert Plant and his pale-faced, red-lipped, hypersexualized women with darkly made-up eyes, in the mid-80s video Addicted to Love — and, of course, Material Girl, Madonna, whose lyrics and images typified the aspirations of the decade — as did fictional character, Gordon Gekko’s memorable statement, “Greed is good”, in the 1987 film, WallStreet. Prominent books on my reading list at that time included, Anne Rice’s now immortal BDSM trilogy, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, published in the mid-80s, and 9 1/2 Weeks, the cautionary tale of a Dominant/submissive romance that escalates beyond limits, that was made into a film a few years later.
On a personal level, my entrance into a committed relationship in 1983, brought about a major shift in focus from the swing parties and indiscriminate couplings I’d experienced in the prior decade — as well as a shift from primarily vanilla sex.
My husband and I, as a BDSM couple, were fortunate in that our erotic fantasies were compatible, both in nature and intensity — and that we were both strongly attracted to the excitement of the party scene and public play. This led us to an ongoing erotic adventure involving an agreed upon power exchange and intense forms of foreplay, such as sensation play, bondage, and the use of sex toys. Such play occurred with or alongside other players, and was enormously arousing in itself, even to orgasm — without involving risky behaviors such as penetrative sex, thus radically minimizing our STD risk. For me, my new, non-promiscious lifestyle provided an opportunity to play and explore with multiple partners, within the confines of commitment — offering me, from my point of view, the erotic best of both decades.
At the time we entered the scene, the main venues for play among straight kinky couples was the now defunct, Gemini club, which catered to Male Dominant and female submissive pairings — as did its counterpart, the Scorpio club, in LA, where we once attended a never to be forgotten Story of O party. The still active, pansexual, Society of Janus, was dedicated to the promotion of safe, sane, and consensual BDSM play, with bi-monthly programs designed to educate, as well as provide the kinky community with a non-sexual, highly arousing sexual outlet.
My husband and I also attended parties at the Catacombs, which was originally a private men’s fist fucking club. When the club closed its doors in 1984 due to concerns over the AIDs epidemic and consequent restraints on freedom of play, the space reopened as Shotwell Meeting House, in SF’s steamy South of Market — emerging as the primary play space for straight and bi couples in the kinky community, as well as the site of Janus’ educational programs.
My husband and I continued to be active in the scene throughout the decade. By the time the 80s drew to a close, we were old-time members of the Bay Area BDSM community — and as we neared our fifth decade, the hyper-intensity of virgin experience was behind us, and the effects of late night parties began requiring abit longer recovery time. But still, we partied on.
I’ve never attended the Lit Quake Festival in San Francisco before. Last Saturday evening was my first time.
And what better way to dive into this iconic literary experience than as a participant — joining writers, Jen Cross, Amy butcher, Horehound Stillpoint, Anain Bjorkquist, Seeley Quest, and Erin M, at the Good Vibrations Store on Valencia Street, where we teased our audience by reading hot bits from our stories in Sex Still Spoken Here — a new anthology of stories and poems from the Erotic Reading Circle, co-edited by Dr. Carol Queen, Jen Cross and Amy Butcher.
My story, The Gambler, is a semi-autobiographical tale, inspired by a hot erotic encounter I had with a professional gambler, whom I met at Bay Meadows Race Track back in 1977 — when I was a girl of thirty-three.
The receptive audience of perhaps one hundred, steamy story enthusiasts filled Good Vibrations to overflowing, making it the largest group I’ve addressed to date. I’m pleased to report I felt entirely comfortable standing before them, and the most relaxed I’ve felt at a reading thus far. So relaxed, in fact, I even ventured to lift my eyes from my page as I read, to engage in eye contact with audience members — beginning with my husband, always the friendliest face in the crowd and always there to support my endeavors.
I’m also getting a sense of pacing my words and pausing at strategic points during a reading to let my words sink in. I don’t think I’m imagining that my story was well received. Afterwards audience members stepped up to congratulate me on my reading, and I was asked to sign newly purchased copies of our anthology. And as my husband and I left Good Vibrations and joined the Lit Crawlers heading up Valencia Street, several people called out their congratulations on my offering.
Virgin experiences are so exhilarating, don’t you think? Before ending this post, let me offer a huge than you to Carol Queen, co-facilitator of the Erotic Reading Circle and founder of The Center of Sex and Culture, for inviting me to participate. Sorry you were down with the flu, Carol, and missed out on the evening. But rest assured we did you proud, and thank you again for the opportunity. Reading is in my blood now. What better way to celebrate a published piece than to read it in public? I hope to do so again at Lit Quake next year with a new story — with many more readings at other venues to come between now and then.
In the meantime, I invite you to come hear me read my latest story and bring a story or poem of your own, to the Erotic Reading Circle, at the Center of Sex and Culture, 1349 Mission Street, in San Francisco, from 7:30 to 9:3o PM, on the fourth Wed of each month.
I attended the Folsom Street Fair on Sunday, 9/20, my first time ever at this iconic San Francisco evcnt. I can’t say why, considering my long history in the local erotic community. Over the years I’ve attended Gay Pride celebrations, partied on Polk Street, visited the Bizarre Flea Market, and been a vendor at the Castro Street Fair. Somehow I never got around to attending Folsom Street until now. Sicne my recent big birthday, I’m all for doing anything interesting I haven’t done before — and if it feels good, I’ll do it again. (This might mean you can take the girl out of the 70s, but can’t take the 70s out of the girl.)
I’ve heard Folsom gets rowdier and raunchier as the day wears on. Consequently, being a very small person who tends to avoid large crowds, my friend and I arrived when the fair opened in the morning at eleven and left before two, while the streets were still easily negotiable. What impressed me the most about Folsom St. in the time I spent there was not the naked people, or folks on leashes, or public floggings, or pony girls, or Master/slave interactions — although I must say it all seemed like good clean fun to me. But what stood out for me was the solid feeling of community I felt as I wandered along, checking out the information displays and artisan booths and the people around my. As a horny old girl who has been in an alternative style relationship for decades, I didn’t see anything of a sexual nature that shocked or offended me in any way — although in the year 2014, I was really sorry to see displays of kinky toys made of animal fur.
I particualy enjoyed seeing more than a few mature BDSM couples, walking hand in hand, or in some cases, leash in hand, along the street — just old timer kinky folks, out having a stroll though their neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon — and from the look of things, still hot, after all these years. For me, attending Folsom St. was a delightful journey into live theater and I enjoyed myself a lot. I many go again next year.