As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not one to easily warm to technology in any form. And, as an adult person in the 60s and 70s — when privacy not only still existed, but was held in high regard, I learned to eye social media with suspicion and mistrust. My initial responses to suggestions from others that a Twitter account could positively impact my career as a writer was to express my complete lack of knowledge of what it was about. But, in spite of my resistance, I finally set up a Twitter account a few months ago, and have been tweeting my little heart out since. I still can’t claim any significant understanding of how it works, but I dove in headfirst anyway, which has always been my style.
One thing I liked right away about this form of social media is that at 140 character maximum per tweet, it cuts straight to the chase with no chance of rambling. It was, according to Wikipedia, initially defined by Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsy, as a “short burst of inconsequential information.” Okay, I got that, but still the whole concepts pretty well mystified me.
What really led me to an at least minimal understanding was the way my friend and fellow writer, Amy Butcher, explained it to me. “Tweeting is like standing on a street corner shouting,” she said, “And anyone who hears you may respond if they wish. Well, that makes sense, I thought, and the next day I sent out the message, “I’m standing on a street corner shouting. Can anyone hear me?” Amy heard me and responded by not only favoring my tweet, but following my account, as well, which I took to be expressions of approval. She also sent me an email with suggestions of Twitter accounts I might enjoy following. Inspired, I tweeted out a compliment about an anthology edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, a sex writer, editor, and blogger that I’ve long admired. She responded by favoring and re-tweeting my tweet, and following my account, as well. Cool.
After that the thing began to snowball. I began getting all sorts of suggestions about who to follow, with more to come each time I began following a new account. Consequently, I’m now following a rapidly growing number of writer, editors, and publishers I admire, and am pleased to report that many of them are now following me. Hopefully they’re also logging on to my website and drinking in the word on this blog.
Yea! What a woman. First I conquered email, then forged ahead, not only to a website, but a blog as well. And now, onward to Twitter and who knows what else. I’m sure I’ll find out as I skip down the Yellow Brick Road of self-promotion, on my way to transforming my coming-of-age story, PERFECT STRANGERS: One Woman’s Journey Through The Swinging Seventies, into a published book.
I realize I’m meandering all over the place on my way to blogging about my life as a sexual adult that began in 1961, and has now spanned six decades. I’ve had a lot to distract me lately, in the form of a writing class, a family visit, a May vacation to plan, B&Bs to decide on and a new and frequently mystifying Twitter account to learn the ins and out of, (all fun and exciting things) — plus an injured shoulder from doing the Bridge pose dead wrong, and a knee and a toe injury, not to mention my computer running amuck and requiring money spent on repairs, (not fun or exciting things at all) — I’m just now getting around to a short post about my recollections of sex in the 90s.
My husband an I continued to enjoy the Bay Area BDSM party scene until about the mid-90s. As a straight male, moderately bisexual female couple, our sexual interactions were primarily with each other — punctuated by the occasional and delightful safe sex encounter. And as such, our focus was on enjoying the social aspects of membership in the kinky community, in addition to the considerable stimulation of the live theater aspects of public BDSM.
Still, the raging STD epidemic was unarguably of grave concern to the entire sexual community. By then, never mind personal safety precautions, most clubs and play spaces had adopted a mandatory safe sex requirement on their premises — a sensible measure with which most thinking people agreed — although I still shake my head recalling one outraged male dominant expound on the outrage and indignity of being required to wear a condom while penetrating his own wife. I suppose the issue of how a dungeon monitor could be expected to know whose wife he was penetrating, evidently did not occur to him.
All in all, I have relatively little to say about the public BDSM scene in the latter part of the mid-90s. I’d turned fifty by then. For me, those were the menopausal years, the years of mood swings and hot flashes, accompanied by unwanted weight gain and plummeting sexual desire for the first time in my more than thirty-five years of sexually active life. For my husband, who was three years older than I, it was a time when most players around us seemed younger with each party we attended — and we were no longer that super hot, still youngish couple with whom everyone wanted to play.
Those were also the years of increasing career responsibilities and aging parent responsibilities, combined with young adult offspring responsibilities and that our aging dogs grew infirm, making us loath to leave them. By mid-decade, although we continued to play privately and occasionally with other couples, as time and hormonal imbalances allowed, we gradually and regretfully dropped out of the public BDSM scene.
I got a kindle as a gift over this past holiday season on which I’m planning to use as an erotica library The first book I downloaded into it was Sex and Cupcakes: A Collection of Juicy Essays, by Rachel Kramer Bussel. I’d been wanting to read this book since it was published in the latter part of last year. I’d heard it was exceptionally good. I read it in bed the same evening I purchased it, and my only disappointment with it was how quickly I devoured each of her nine gemlike essays, which whetted my appetite for her writing and left me hungry for more. Rachel is not only the excellent editor of more than fifty erotic anthologies, each of which contains a story she’s written, she also writes for Bust, Dame, Salon, the Daily Beast, Elle, Glamour, and well, you name it — if it’s about erotic issues she writes for it and she does it well.
The first essay in the book, I Have Trouble With Orgasms, touches on a subject near and dear to my heart — not to mention other key portions of my anatomy. It is, in fact, a major theme in my now completed, but not yet published book, PERFECT STRANGERS: One Woman’s Journey Through the Swinging Seventies, which deals with the tremendous pressure put on women of that era to have vaginal orgasms — simultaneously achieved ones prefered, if you please — and my personal torment as a young married woman, and later as a still young divorced woman. when I fell short of that goal. I was consequently impressed, not only by Rachel’s unflinching honesty about such an intimate issue, but also to learn that one of the foremost sex writers of current times, doesn’t come easily either — although as a thirty-something, post feminist woman, she seems to be far less hard on herself about the issue than I was at the time.
Her second essay, I’m Pro-Choice and I Fuck , wowed me as well — another dear to my heart subject that it’s hard to believe is still in need of discussion — but it absolutely is, and Rachel did it well. I also loved MONOGAMISHMASH, a discussion about her potentially monogamous relationship and what that might mean. This essay grabbed my attention because three decades ago, my husband and I began a committed and openish relationship, which luckily served us well, although after dropping out of the scene in the mid-nineties, we gradually evolved into a monogamous couple. But then a few years ago while in our sixties, we mutually decided that an occasional threesome, or moresome, and an occasional foray into the party scene, would effectively enliven our desire for each other and spice up our marriage. I’m delighted to say it definitely has and that, for now, we’re pleased with our monogamish relationship. Having now been partnered for over three decades, I ‘ll venture to say that the sexual evolution of a relationship is a work in progress throughout.
I’m also reading Master Of O, by Ernest Greene, husband of porn star, sex educato,r and sex positive femininst, Nina Hartley, and the capital D in their D/s relationship. The book is the Story of O, from the dominant male point of view and set in modern-day Los Angeles. I ‘m really enjoying this book and recommend it to anyone with a genuine interest in BDSM — it’s everything Shades of Grey isn’t, complete with skillfully written and natural dialogue, and great interplay between Dom and submissive.
Good news on the home front, Rachel Kramer Bussel recently informed me that the print date for Dirty Dates will be this November, and my story, The Corset is the first one in the book. I hope to have the book cover up on my site before long. I still have other stories waiting in the wings for publisher approval and will hopefully have good news about those very soon.
It seems that with the advent of the holidays and delightfully distracting visits by adult children, combined with the first nasty bug I’ve succumbed to in years — not to mention the unbelievable and stressful time-suck of composing an engaging query letter and story synopsis preparatory to submitting my now completed manuscript, PERFECTSTRANGERS: One Woman’s Journey Through The Swinging Seventies to publishers and agents — I’ve ended up taking an unplanned hiatus from my blog.
My best gift to myself this past holiday season was the purchase of a written critique by prominent writer and editor, Rachel Kramer Bussel, of two stories that I felt were well-written and hot, but never quite jelled into finished work that pleased me. The critique, followed by an hour-long phone conversation was money well spent. Rachel honed right in on the trouble spots in those pieces — to my credit, the very spots that troubled me from the first — and offered clear, cogent suggestions on how to write my way out of them. I was so impressed by her editorial abilities that I splurged and signed up for her four-week long, Erotic Writing class set to begin February 12th. Since meeting deadlines has never been my strongest suit, I’m a bit worried about keeping up the pace — but at the same time am looking forward to getting caught up in the momentum of fast hard writing, trusty feedback, and growing as a writer.
Good news from Rachel during our phone talk was that her forthcoming anthology, DirtyDates, isslated for publication in September of this year — with the even better news being that my story, The Corset, will appear in the book. I haven’t yet seen the table of contents, but knowing the overall quality of Rachel’s story collections, I’m sure to be keeping company with some awesome writers. Yea! I’ll never get tired of seeing my name in print. Hopefully my next piece of good news will be from a publisher or agent about my book, or from another well-respected editor awaiting publisher’s approval of one of her manuscripts with three of my pieces in it.
A recent literary adventure I shared with my husband was the celebration of our January 10th anniversary at San Francisco’s 1st Annual Sex Culture Book Fair, which took place that same day. The fair was held at Adobe Books on 24th Street — a collaboration between Adobe Books, Belle SF magazine, and the sex positive social club, Mission Control. Throughout the evening, we were treated to a series of interesting presentations of the trials and tribulations of independent publishing, the best information sources for polyamory advice, a sex worker’s panel, a kinky demo, a D/s demo, bawdy story telling, Naked Ladies Reading, and a whole lot more. The stimulating evening feature a variety of sexual literary luminaries such as Dr. Carol Queen, Violet Blue, Ron Turner, Allison Moon, and Polly Superstar, to name a few, who offered their educated opinions on the past, present, and future of publishing and sex.
Now what better way could there be for an erotic writer and her life-partner to celebrate thirty-one kinky years together than that? Well, yes, I realize that only a few years ago the question would have been a no-brainer. But aside from that, this book fair fit the bill. Here’s wishing a heartfelt happy anniversary to this happy and long-lasting couple — and to the book fair, as well. May we all live to attend many more.
It turned out that my decision to change my lifestyle for a less promiscuous one was excellently timed on my part. During the 60s and 70s — as far as the average, sexually active person knew — STDs resulting from indiscriminate sexual contact could be treated and cured with antibiotics — and dreaded exceptions, such as Herpes or genital warts, could at least be treated to manage symptoms. And this mindset, based as it was on lust and ignorance, generated a less than desirable level of vigilance about safe sex. But with the advent of the 80s and the newly discovered AIDS epidemic, for many people sexual behavior underwent an immediate and radical change.
The term “safe sex” entered our vocabularies. Bowls of condoms began appearing at party houses and sex clubs. Casual hook-ups, even with the use of condoms were viewed as potentially dangerous behavior. Consequently, one-on-one came into vogue again. Romance was back. Celibacy was celebrated. True love waited. People talked of marriage again.
Personally, I didn’t plan on taking matters that far, but although I retained grave reservations about the institution of marriage itself, I did feel ripe for a committed relationship. What I wanted was a special type of partner — a sexual main-man, so to speak, someone strong and emotionally secure — with the steadfast dependability and trustworthiness of a platonic best friend, combined with the erotic focus of my most favorite lovers. And I wanted this, please, all rolled up into one hot, hard, erotically adventurous man, to be enjoyed on a longterm basis.
Missing from this equation was someone to have that relationship with.
With further pursuit of casual hook-ups now off the table, I found men who turned me on and who were likely candidates for commitment to be disappointingly few and far between. But although I felt lonely and horny without my accustomed sexual distractions, I was unwilling to settle. My main social interactions were with my young adult children or women friends, or an occasional fling with an old friend-with-benefits. Aside from that I stayed home a lot, adopted a dog who turned out to be excellent company, and began to clarify my specific relationship needs in my mind, based on my plethora of personal experience.
The culmination of this semi-celibate time in my life was the personal ad I placed in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, in late 1983. The responses were many, but the one that mattered came from a man who had somehow read between the lines of my relationship ad, and responded with a letter — we wrote actual letters in those days — offering me “a special kind of erotic intimacy”, that he sensed I craved. I have no idea how that clever man knew that the most secret desire of this strong, capable, feminist woman was sexual submission.
How could he know, I wondered, when I barely knew myself?
But the man was right on, and I became his woman on that same night we met, following our initial meeting and negotiation at a San Francisco coffee-house — although I always maintained I wasn’t easy, because I made him buy me coffee first. And to our genuine surprise and delight, our alternative lifestyle relationship resulting from my newspaper ad has endured to this day.
Yes, there was a life after promiscuity. And yes, there was life after vanilla sex.
We were fearless in the 70s. Our sexual adventuring knew no bounds. The process of erotic liberation that began with the sexual revolution of the 60s continued on, in spades, in the decade that followed. It was a time of discarding inhibitions and prohibitions, and of embracing personal freedom, and of self-discovery above all.
It was a time of living out sexual fantasies, via impromptu hook-ups anywhere and everywhere: on sandy beaches, and swimming pools, and hot tubs, and saunas, and on water beds with black satin sheets. We did it in vacation cottages, and at ski resorts, and nudist colonies, and on cruises — and at organized events , and encounter groups, and alternative lifestyle playgrounds, such as swing clubs, and BDSM party houses, not to mention our own private homes.
It was a time when female sexual gratification was viewed as a birthright — and casual sex with perfect strangers was as easy as shaking hands.
If it felt good we did it. If it felt really good, then, by god, we did it again!
Still, by the end of the 70s, having accrued enough sexual experience to eroticize a small, sex-starved country, I’d taken a giant step back from my promiscuous lifestyle. But not because I felt I had an out-of-control addiction requiring a twelve-step program for recovery. Or fear of disease either — believing as I did that God protects both fools and innocent, and I fit somewhere into one or both of those categories.
Instead, I stepped back for two primaryreasons: First, I’d learned over time that for me, as a woman, sexual freedom was not necessarily synonymous with sexual satisfaction — and casual sex with strangers, exciting and potentially perfect as they appeared to be, often left more to be desired. Also, by then I’d come to understand and accept my intrepid erotic nature, and perceived how easily I could continue on as I was, until my life evolved, or devolved, depending on viewpoint, into an unending series of casual, sexual encounters.
And in the end, I realized I wanted and needed a greater level of intimacy than that.
I was born in the mid-1940s and brought up in post-World War II America. Women were housewives then; they stayed home with the children. They baked pies, waxed linoleum, watched soap operas, and joined the PTA, while men ran the world and brought home the bacon. As a girl-child, I understood that I was expected to do the same.
With the advent of my entering puberty, my dad began eyeing teenaged boys with mistrust, and my mom, foreshadowing Nancy Reagan, strongly advised me to “just say no” to any touching below the neck. Consequently, I married straight out of high school, in 1962, having swallowed whole the prevailing myth that girls who had sex before marriage were sluts — but not so much if they married the boy they’d had sex with. And as a young wife and mother, I pretty much missed out on the sexual revolution, occupied as I was with diaper changes, shopping lists, and earning my university degrees.
As a stay-at-home mom, I was far removed from gender inequities in the workplace. Still, certain glaring inequities between the sexes did not escape me. For instance, I gave up my last name when I married, while my husband did not. And while my husband experienced orgasm each time we had penetrative sex, I did not — despite coming frustratingly close. Over the years, although I did achieve some splendid orgasms via sufficient oral or manual stimulation — vaginal orgasm, my alleged birthright as a modern woman continued to elude me, becoming a source of friction and disappointment for me and my husband and casting a pall on my sexual life. By the time my marriage collapsed, twelve years later, I was twenty-nine-years-old, believed myself frigid, and set out on a personal journey of erotic self-discovery.
I’ve been dragging my feet about blogging for months now, since in addition to being a technologically challenged individual, I’ve had concerns about writing enough of interest to sustain continued postings. But with my website up and running, I realize it’s time to get moving because my birthday is in September after which I’ll no longer be sixty-nine, and I’m not sure seventy and still sexual would have the same ring.
So welcome to my blog and why am I starting one anyway? One reason is that as a relatively new erotica writer whose publishing credits are gradually mounting, it seems appropriate to begin publicizing myself and my stories, as well as the awesome editors who chose to include them in their oh-so-hot erotic anthologies.
Speaking of oh-so-hot, I can’t say enough about the latest book I’m in: Sex Still Spoken Here, an Erotic Reading Circle Anthology (ERC), published by the Center of Sex and Culture (CSC), in San Francisco. And kudos to editors: Dr. Carol Queen, ERC co-facilitator and CSC co-founder; Jen Cross, of Writing Ourselves Whole and ERC co-facilitator, and Amy Butcher, author of Paws forConsideration and ERC participant.
Being included in this book has special meaning to me, since I’ve joined this writing community in 2010 as a fledgling writer, and found in it the inspiration, support, and encouragement I needed. I have a hunch there will be more ERC anthologies to follow and hope to have a story in every one. ERC meets on the fourth Wed of each month. The book launch party will be Wed, 9/24, at CSC, 1349 Mission Street. I’ll be there reading from my work and others will too. I hope to see you there.