I don’t write much about my work here. There are lots of good reasons for that. I’d like this space to be friendly to a wide variety of people with whom I relate, and not all of them want to read about my work for erotic websites. I love them and want their readership, so I choose to respect that. I also like to reserve this space for other parts of my identity that are not about getting naked on the internet. That helps remind me how very many of them there are. I am creating some virtual space for me to write sex but it’s not ready yet, but that will be a more appropriate place for me to discuss that part of my life. This is a rare time when I feel compelled to speak about my sexywork, and so I shall.
A year and some many months ago I worked on an experimental project for one of the Feck websites. I produced a ‘video diary’ of my masturbatory life over a certain period of time. It was a difficult thing to start because it’s so very personal and the intention was for it to be documentary, and as anyone who has ever endeavoured on one of this ‘self-portrait-a-day’ projects, it gets tiresome quickly and sometimes gets a little too far into the banality of our daily lives than is comfortable. Because I felt it impossible for me to document all of my orgasms over a given week, I had to change my approach slightly to actually make the thing. So I basically just opened the whole thing up to whatever might happen and just allowed it to evolve on its own. I wrote the thing as I went. There is some artifice involved in that I did plan some of the setups and the times in which I could actually make some of my ideas. The ideas themselves, however, came as I opened up to the camera and to the possibility that I might make something really beautiful with my own moving image. I thought sexy thoughts and images and figured out how to make them with the skills I do have. That was pretty much the go. I talked about that as I went. And then I made that all into 8 videos and now they’re going on the internet, one-by-one, over a period of three months.
This project was extremely self-reflexive and self-conscious. I am entertaining the thought that, when you are making porn of yourself with yourself, you cannot escape this. If you are making this specifically for someone whose arousal you know well enough to direct yourself right into it, or if you have a formulaic understanding of sexy that your audience repeatedly responds to, perhaps you can involve yourself with those things more than with yourself. I had no one in particular in mind when I made this. I do know what has made me successful or appreciated or gotten me more money in the past, and I worked with some of that. Apart from that, though, I just played out my own ideas of sexy and my own understandings about what I find sexy about myself, my own perception of how I occupy a frame, and my own estimations of what makes me sexually (and personally) valuable.
For some folks who find themselves quite distant from such an experience, it is quite feasible to see it as utter narcissism or self-obsession. I’ve made videos of myself wanking, and (literally or metaphorically) wanked over them. The act of capturing them is one thing – and the fact that I frequently watched myself in the LCD screen as I made them – well that gets me a little closer to a gratingly enamoured self-perception. But for me to be proud of them, to think they are beautiful and subtly sexy and honest; now that’s downright arrogance. Isn’t it. I entertained this thought as I went along making these films, but I am compelled to look underneath such ideas to find some of the elements that compose them. And I had some thoughts about that.
How often do you actually get to see yourself as a sexual object (/subject)? To displace your erotic gaze from the lovely folks of your fantasies and from the images that make you squirm in your chair with your slippers on, and place it upon yourself? How healing is it to bring yourself to an orgasm, to practice auto-eroticism, to burst into ether at the mercy of your own mind and physicality and expert touch? I don’t think we should all do that, all of the time – if we did, my co-workers and I would be out of our jobs as smutmakers – but I do take the stance that we should all have the opportunity to do that once in awhile. I believe in affirmation through sexuality and I think it is healthy to source it in balance between yourself and others. That is why I’ve chosen to do what I do in the places I currently do it.
I like the way people self-represent their sexualities. I think that gives us the most insight into what’s happening inside their erotic imaginations, and that satisfies the voyeur in me. One of the sexiest things I have ever seen was made by my friend for a video hosted on I Shot Myself. The opening scene was edited in a way in which clones (or doppelgangers!) of herself appear one-by-one in the frame, until there are four of them, each undressing, perhaps for each other. She made and edited the scene herself. In some ways I experienced the diary project as a chance to see what it’s like to watch me. I found that it’s not bad. On the surface, to my viewer, it may seem as though my pleasure comes from displaying myself to others. In my reality, however, my pleasure is actually as a voyeur. I feel a kinship with other voyeurs, I have insight into what appeals to them and why, and I take pleasure in trying to create that myself, knowing that I’ll feed back into the voyeur economy from which I frequently consume. This is complicated. It is complicated for anyone to view themselves in a sexual context. This is part of the essence of the Feck projects. Some people run with that. Some people don’t. I am one of the former.
To dismiss this project as a simple matter of self-obsession is to un-complicate it. Perhaps not coincidentally, we sometimes have to un-complicate sexual imagery to find it sexy. We have to remove it from the context in which it was made, which is something many of us are still uncomfortable with, as the world of pornography makes us uneasy, tainted as it is with the exploitation and sexism and coercion with which it has sometimes been associated. The complication of someone viewing someone viewing themselves without necessarily knowing that they were doing so – that’s a lot of stuff to take in, and many of us do not want all of that stuff cluttering up our sexual headspace. I recognise that, by creating these levels of complication in what I’ve made, I run the risk of losing people who want to uncomplicate it and see it for nothing more than what’s there on the screen: a woman masturbating in view of a camera, enabling you to watch her, maybe as though she is doing it for you. However, I don’t actually ever demand that anyone watch it in the context of its complications – I simply make it possible for them to do so if they choose. I digress.
As the product is released I am getting lots of lovely feedback. I have the relative privilege of a viewership that appreciates the subtlety of what we are doing on that site. Therefore lots of people think this is a rad idea, or are just happy to see me make something, as I have very few contributions going live lately. I am lucky that I even work for a site where you can receive direct feedback from the people who have watched your videos that will contain a lowest common denominator of ‘you have a lovely vagina’, as compared with the mainstream LCD of ‘OMG U MADE ME CUMMMM LOADZZ HAHA LOL’. There are rare cases, however, where I do receive negative feedback, and I generally have a hard time gauging how to deal with that. I don’t want to see these people as primitive punters who see me as nothing more than the sum of my pink bits, whether that’s because they aren’t or because I just don’t want to believe that they are. I am not naive enough to think that all of them are interested in entertaining my twenty-something progressive sexual liberation art project – I actually believe that a very small minority of them are, and I’m grateful that they exist. I do not, however, want to accept disrespect or misogyny, which does occur in the rarest of cases. So I end up standing up for myself in those situations, and that’s not because I’m demanding that you look at my art look at my art look at my art. It’s that I want to interrupt your cycle of consumption that allows you to uncomplicate me to the point where I’m not human. Cos I just want to do that right back to you, and then we’ve stripped this exchange of humanity and meaning and undone all of its sexy.
And I suppose that part of what the diary was about, for me, was an investigation of my humanity at a certain point in time. My physical humanity – the colours and shapes and gradients of my body – and of my mind and my spirit. That’s really honest, that extends beyond exhibitionism and voyeurism and is me writing a text of myself and offering it up to be read and discussed. And I guess you can’t read it if we don’t speak the same language.
I feel that there is more for me to dig for in looking back on the process of making that (which I wish I had been more diligent about documenting off-camera), and probably a year later I’ll actually be able to think about the process of releasing it. They are very intense experiences. For anyone who has ever shared work on these sites, especially that which they’ve thought about extensively, I think that is the case, and I wish we all talked about it more.
This is Wayne. Wayne was a good friend and a rare sort of being. Impossibly intelligent and sardonic, and always all this with love. He’s so fucking humble that he’s too modest to even say so. This is how I want to remember him, and overwhelmingly, it is. With good gratitude for the stuff that defined him, the big personality and the trustworthiness and the overflow of giving – interestingly, the stuff that cult leaders are made of.
Alright so I have no business going in there in the first place because I know how to combine my own herbs which I can purchase in bulk at very low cost into mixtures that satisfy my various desires. But T2 has a wide range of tea-straining devices, and you think, ‘how bad can it be, it’s a tea shop’, but it’s really that bad.
Upon entry I was offered some tea from one of several plastic jugs which sat upon light boxes so as to emphasize their state-of-the-art design. I declined, remarking that I was just looking for a teacup, which was also true, though that was only part of the mission I undertook when I walked through their doors. The ‘sales assistant’, whose appearance I cannot describe as I could not bring myself to look at her long enough to retain a mental image, pointed in the direction she was walking and told me that if I’m looking for teacups, these are good teacups. She did not know why they were good teacups, but she did know that they were in front of her and they were teacups, and so they must be good ones, ones that you could recommend to someone without even having to ask what exactly they were looking for in a teacup. These teacups are good for everyone.
As it turned out there was nothing about these particular teacups which appealed to me, nor was there anything about any of the other teacups there which appealed to me. And so I carried out the other half of my task in T2. I procured two mesh globe tea strainers, one for me and one for a friend, and presented them to the girl at the counter whose face I do not remember. (I do recall sensing, however, that a hair straightener had been in the vicinity of her head over the last five hours. It’s just something you can feel about a person.)
‘Tea strainers!’ she remarked, amazed at my power of selection. I made no response. None was needed – she had already figured it all out.
‘Good for…brewing some tea’, she continued, and I nodded in agreement. I wondered if they were trained to talk you through your purchase. I hoped she would stop soon.
‘No tea to go with that today?’ she asked, as though perhaps I hadn’t noticed the wall displays stocked generously with little cubes of boxed & bagged teas (the packaging isn’t that good for the earth, but it keeps your tea like, really fresh, until you open it). It was as though she was saddened by the image of me with my steaming mug of hot water and an empty globe mesh tea-strainer, having overlooked such an important variable in the production of a cup of tea.
‘No, thank you’.
‘You already have plenty at home, right? Heaps.’
‘Sooooooo did you want a little bag for carrying those?’
‘No, I think I can manage these just fine, thanks.’
‘Ok have a greaaat day, yeah?’
I have learned my lesson.
My digitised methods of ‘writing’ are challenged by this machine. Analogue composition requires a deeper state of concentration and connectedness with the text as it moves from your snytactical locus through your body – spinal column to arms to fingers to depress the keys of tiny hammers which instantaneously solidify things you may wish you hadn’t said. The faster you type the more smoothly the action is rendered, and in one of those rare situations the writing body tows the writing mind, which follows inchoate behind those patterns of strangely familiar motion. There is no turning round at the dead end of incomplete thought, and so your well-intentioned lines of prose smash head-on into the wall and shatter into fragments of ‘poetry’.
I find that the language my body speaks takes a more arcane tone than the one I am used to having spoken by this modern mind. I am blown away by the (inter)locutionary gap which must exist between us writing now and them writing then. The relationship between the body and the text is directly addressed: who’s in charge here?
There are going to be some changes around here.
I’ve got a lot of time on my hands these days. I work two days a week and the rest of the time I do this other thing, living. It’s very exhilarating. There is very much to do in life as it turns out. So much so that you can have five days to do it in and still be behind. How exciting!
So I’ve been updating lots of things, making new things, refinishing tables, washing items of clothing by hand, and trying to balance out. There’s a lot of me that got lost to the energy vortex of being someone’s full-time employee, lots of things I’ve been wanting to make but that just haven’t come to the surface, so now I get to just relax and wait for them to show up, and they do, well-dressed and very eager.
Negotiations are in process for the creation of my own domain (I’ve always wanted one), which would host my blog(s) and any other little bits I’d like to add. This has been, and will continue to be, mainly a personal blog. Food has been nagging at me to blog it for sometime, thus this little project. I haven’t given out the url much, I’ll probably just do it here and there until the whole site is put together. I don’t like giving out packages that aren’t neatly wrapped. The food blog is very exciting for me, I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, and I like getting to write so topically.
I also plan to start a sex blog. Food and sex are my two topics, things I’d want to write about professionally, and I want to use these spaces as little writing exercises. I also just like to talk about sex. This is tricky territory because I want to be able to write about my experience working in the online sex industry whilst also establishing my sexuality outside of it whilst retaining some of my privacy and integrity. I’d like an elevated level of discussion and I need to figure out how to ensure that I’ll get it. This is something I might have to protect a lot more – I don’t moderate comments on any other blogs, I don’t make private or password-enabled posts, but this might be a place where I’ll need to do that. I find that I am constantly negotiating just how much I want to reveal, and this is just another situation where I have to do that because I got naked on the internet and got myself some ‘fans’.
I’m also tweeting these days, because eventually I cave to most social media, and flickr is going to see a revival. You’ve been looking at the same two photos of my cat in the sidebar for far too long.
Also there will be zines, there are two in the works at the moment. One sex, one food, appropriately.
But most importantly, this:
Opinions? I don’t have to choose between the two, I just don’t know whether to do it at all.