I'm going to try not to make this post super long since I have an Accountability Partner (Clover) for room-cleaning and we have both promised to clean our rooms by Friday (tomorrow) and keep each other accountable. Although Clover will know what has distracted me. :B [Post-writing comment: I failed. But I like the post, so tough beans, Kiwi: go clean your room.]
I am not LJ-cutting all of this post because while the actual items of the topic I discuss are NSFW, I think the discussion itself is SFW (unless you are at work and have people with hawk eyes around who will see the word "porn" from yards away). I also wouldn't say this post is blatantly sexual; there is a paragraph or two about my personal relation to porn, but I wouldn't say any of it is rated highly or would make people who know me uncomfortable. I just want to stress that. As I was writing this post, I kept in mind that I didn't want to make people uncomfortable--although I found that what I wanted to write really wasn't the sort of thing to make most people uncomfortable, I think. I also wanted to take a step back into being more open about this because I used to be, before I entered more into the LJ fandom world. I suppose I could make a filter if you all would like, but I'm not sure how often I'll write on any of this and I find filters to be a bit of a headache for me--but I'll respect requests, if a number of you don't like the idea of skipping over anything that might make you uncomfortable. I don't personally think anything here is triggering; I certainly hope not. This post is also about sex education, comfort and sexual self-esteem, some of my new sheroes, and a few other things. I guess in a way I'm trying to say "please don't just dismiss this, because it's surprisingly important to me".
Here's a first step to the coming out: Through the years, I have 'researched' porn. I don't say 'watched' porn because, really, I wasn't watching it with any sort of enjoyment; I was researching porn to find some that, please please please fingers crossed, wouldn't make me cringe and close my browser. (I also say 'researched' with quotes because it wasn't the sort of research with hypotheses, gathering data, using statistics, or drawing conclusions. People do real research on porn; at the moment I am not one of them.) Now, I'm fine with the fact that my personal preference for erotic displays is mostly written: erotica. I've been reading that (and my parents have been buying me books of that) since I was 14/15. It can be pretty great. And fanfic is free. So that's yay!
But I had to think that, with the decades of industry production and the amount around now, there had to be some things around that wouldn't make a real lesbian (or at least me) cringe. Even if it was just some small proportion of it--it'd be a small proportion of something huge, which is pretty significant. Especially given that I'm into a lot of things (something I'm aware of because sex hasn't been a Big Taboo Thing in my life). I just drew the line at terrible acting that made me doubt my own humanity, women who were clearly not into it, talon-like nails (I am less squicked by somewhat-long nails now, but real talons still make me wince), and this idea that serious=sexy so no smiling, laughter, or anything the slightest bit silly.
I first want to make a point of saying that I don't watch porn to do anything. I don't at all judge what people do during bouts of porn viewing--go you!--but I just don't tend to, so I don’t want that to be the idea as I talk about viewing porn. I guess that's where it gets personal, since I still tend to think that people see me as this non-sexual being, even when I write erotica or talk about sex all the time (especially in 3D life). And in a way, for the moment, I'm agreeing or semi-agreeing with that: I watch, but I don't do--and I'm fine with that. It makes friends question why I watch it at all (or why I keep going through these 'research' phases to no previous avail), and me a bit too, but again I try not to judge in general so I extend that to myself. I guess it's for the same reason that I read erotica: it's stimulating to different parts of myself, even if I don't consciously respond to it. Then, I guess with many interests people will read/watch/interact with the topic without doing it themselves; I'll include porn in that category for me.
A few years back, in college, I found the up-and-coming queer porn places, with people like Jiz Lee (genderqueer androgynous hotness) and others. Examples: CrashPadSeries and QueerPornTube (for amateurs), and things like that; I found the first years ago and the second last year. The latter is especially awesome since it's free; most of the videos don't really do it for me since it tends to jump straight to sex or masturbation, but I still appreciate its existence. CrashPadSeries I would really love to join but it butts against my main problem: money, and how I don't have any.
So that put a stopper on most of my pursuits with queer porn. It's one of those things I'd love to support, but can't really do monetarily at the moment, so I just have to send it kudos and help spread the word around. The no-money, no-porn realisation also took me out of that bout of porn 'research'.
Until the next time, which started something like a week ago. I don't even know what came over me. I guess I had some free time late in the evening and thought, "I wonder." I'm not even sure where I started.
I do know that I ended up with Nina Hartley. I was gazing at her face and thinking, "I recognise your face from something specific. I know I do." I went back to QueerPornTube, where I recalled a beautiful, intelligent blonde woman talking about anal play, health, and preparation. I saw immediately that yes, that was Nina Hartley--someone in the industry set on education! I learned that it was part of a weekly video blog with her, "Tuesdays with Nina". An older woman in the industry who had stuck with it, educates, and clearly has a great time with her job! I watched more of her educational videos and loved the way she interacted with her partners on screen, laughing and joking and enjoying her kisses (and everything else), as she educated the viewer by removing the 4th wall and speaking right to us. She spoke in interviews about how she entered into the industry (after a nursing degree, hot damn!) because it meant she got to make out and get sexy with women without dating them (she considers herself a "heterosexual butch dyke" and part of the Queer Tribe, a Trojan Horse for Queerness in the mainstream industry) and have sex with all sorts of people without having to go through the dating/relationship madness. She speaks openly about her polyamory, her loving relationship with her husband, her kinky sex with her husband (and playmates), her vanilla sex with one of her lovers... And, having studied nursing, she educates with scientific terms and knowledge along with her experience. I wish I could say I joined right up with her website, but money was again a problem, so I have to admit that I was only able to go to free sites that no doubt stole her work. I watched a few of her lesbian videos and was thrilled by how her acting didn't suck (I quite liked it), how much she clearly enjoyed kissing (and was good at it), how she smiled and laughed and enjoyed herself, how she gave directional comments and educated even within the scenes, and how she was open with her pleasure. Her BDSM scenes are wonderful too.
Which is to say, I fell a little bit in love. I'm not fond of everything--implants aren't my thing, possibly because I am a busty woman myself, or because they look a little odd hanging--but there are less-enchanting things about everyone, and so the overall impression is "yay Nina!" I'm sad I don't have the money to directly support her industry work, but I will try to find a copy of her book that will send the money most directly to her. Perhaps I'll even ask on Twitter. (;
I then looked up at the top of the QueerPornTube page and my eyes settled on the 'Live Sex Show' banner with 'Nina Hartley and Jiz Lee'; my two worlds collided. I searched their names together and realised, asdjflajsdf, Nina contacted Jiz after that event about joining up with the CrashPadSeries--and that they did, for the 100th episode! So to see this mainstream porn industry idol who's been around since the Golden Age of Porn actively want to get together with the up-and-coming Queer Porn world, in one of the best series, with one of my favourite Queer Stars...it was amazing. I haven't actually seen the video because I'd have to join for some amount of time to do so (and for that video, I'd want to join, and to see the behind-the-scenes talks), but I'm just incredibly happy that the video exists. Two of my favourite sex educators and sex stars, huzzah.
I also read this interview with Nina Hartley, about her one-year with "Tuesdays with Nina". She mentioned the industry workers she has admired, the ones she loved working with, and some sex-writers/-educators worth looking up.
That included Betty Dodson, who frequently works with Carlin Ross (in great educational videos), and I find myself in love again. (Probably worth a mention that when I say "in love" in this post I mean more "in the tight grasp of deep admiration and attraction for these beautiful, intelligent, humorous women set on education and pleasure", just for clarity's sake.)
Which finally leads me to the page that made me actually want to make this post: Betty and Carlin talk about refusing to label the Bodysex Workshop Documentary as 'porn'. (NSFW talk and terminology, but fully clothed and everything, if you have headphones.) Mainly for the line "Are they gonna put a granny in jail for porn?" (Betty Dodson is the leader of the Old Lady Smut Brigade, I think.) Anyway, I will definitely be spending more time on their site and am thrilled to have been introduced to them--and I have Nina Hartley to thank!
(With the trend these days to have websites that one pays to join, rather than purchasing DVDs, I sometimes wish that there was an "all-entry pass" to buy--but of course it would end up way out of my range. Plus, I'm sure once this bout of in-depth research/experience ebbs for a while, I wouldn't be using any memberships enough daily/weekly to justify paying the membership fees. I also have fantasies of there being a sort of porn industry BandCamp--where there is the option to set a low minimum price with encouragement to donate--for different stars and production companies, for broke-arse college or post-college or whatever-else people like me who would like to support specific people/companies in the industry but don't have enough money to go the whole way, and thus find themselves guiltily going to the free places instead. But I'm sure that with the Internet and these changing times in porn, I'll notice new people and companies going about things in new and unique ways; I can only hope that some of them work better for me--but more that the techniques work for them, since Internet piracy is hitting the industry and people like Nina Hartley pretty hard [she had to open a donations site online to raise money for the recovery period following her uterine fibroid removal operation]. I wish I weren't being part of the problem here!)
I've also done the shocking, for me, in making a tumblr for my 'research'--which I am now at the stage of calling 'watching porn', because I have found things that do not make me cringe; instead they make me smile or laugh or bite my lip. Some of it's just educational, some of it's the most corny and unrealistic student/teacher or doctor/nurse or whatever else stuff that has ever existed (like stuff from the 80s or from Sweet Heart Video, which I'd really like to support by buying DVDs some time).
Mainly I'm really enjoying just immersing myself in sexual culture--with porn, and people like Nina, Betty, Carlin, and Jiz Lee, with books like The Whole Lesbian Sex Book (which I managed to borrow from my library network as an eBook for 21 days! Hot shot!), and other educational things. It's making me more aware of what I like--the fact that I like 'silly' and 'not serious' is no great surprise to me--and more aware of my body and its movements, just in day-to-day life. (I also think it will help me in one of the next chapters in my life, in which I will be pushing myself to get fit--not necessarily "get skinny" or "lose weight", but just get back to that place in which I feel confident in my body and the way I can use it. Strong, mobile, active, trustworthy...as much as it/I can be with my disability.)
The The Whole Lesbian Sex Book talks about how, for sexual self-esteem and comfort, it's great to have a friend to with which to just talk about sex, openly and non-judgementally. Over the last month or two I've had some great, long, non-judgemental conversations with my sexually-active friends about sex--their sex lives, what they like or don't like, what they'd love to try--and after each one, I get comments like, "It's really nice to just be able to talk about this. Thank you!" And since I'm That Person with Those Conversations in real life, I guess I just wanted to be more open about it on my online home, too. (I'm actually way more selective about what goes in my LJ than what I'll say/talk about offline, which I know is quite the opposite of a lot of people.)
It's a little funny to me that I'm This Person while being a virgin; by society's definitions, in many ways I am deemed a "slut" and yet here I am, a virgin. It makes me laugh. But it also reminds me that I'm not a virgin out of any real sense of mystery, misunderstanding, or misery...I am happily not yet involved in a hands-on way, but involved in many other ways, and pleased to have sex as part of my life without yet partaking. I don't feel any true sense of lacking, or even impatience, beyond rare little moments in which I would be feeling lacking or impatient about something else if virginity weren't on my mind. Sooooo, for the drum roll…
Coming Out: I watch porn; I even enjoy some of it.
ETA: Apparently I am following Betty and Carlin's hopes, which made me laugh. (I love all their videos. Well, I haven't seen all 196 yet, but I can tell I love them, so I have little doubt.)
So there is another section of the "Kiwi Comes Out" saga. Maybe I'll see you back some time? (: Also, with this post I would love to know who has read some of all of it, just out of personal curiosity; of course I always love comments, but if you have read and wouldn't find yourself normally leaving a comment, could you leave something simple like a heart (♥) or an X? (They wouldn't mean anything particular, I promise, I just know that some people don't like leaving one or the other! :Þ)