So! I’ve banged on quite enough about the tricky bits of Eroticon 2019. Here are some of my best bits:
1. Sharing a room with Hannah Lockhardt. It is broadly unnecessary at this juncture to go into detail about the degree to which my time spent with Hannah could be characterised as TRAUMA BONDING. Suffice to say we had some issues with our hotel, mostly due to ugh, probably teenage hacker wankers who decided to fuck with her for the lulz. But there was also a small mountain of cheese straws and peanut butter cups, a lot of giggling and talking about writing, and, uh, she gave me lots of GIFTS. It was a wild ride and I’m glad Hannah was in the cab with me- even if we spent much of the ride swinging queasily back and forth 30 feet about the fairground- because she is hilarious, adorable and extremely good company.
2. Putting faces to names/ bosoms. As I said many times over the weekend, when in the middle of a large, often text- centric online community I often find it difficult to individuate and connect with people if I can’t picture their face. I’m not sure if it’s to do with having a visual learning style, but having seen more faces I now have room in my head for more Twitterers. I can recall body language, and smiles are imprinted on my memory and will be pinned to profiles like secondary avatars. I know I will hear people reading their writing in their own voices, and the thought makes me excited.
Some of the faces I was able to put names (and voices) to were: Exposing 40 (super- inspiring photography wizard), @Lovelustlondon (managed to look interested while I bombarded him with ill- thought out opinions about sexuality and Buddhism), Exhibit A (gave very very good hug when I needed it most), Cara Thereon (quite the loveliest, most welcoming smile), Jayne Renault (disgustingly stylish and interesting) and Master’s Eye (who I remembered to greet with a quote from Withnail and I, as I promised I would)… There were so many others and I’ll have forgotten loads, for which I apologise.
4. I had a few great conversations about sex toys- about how I still don’t feel they’re massively relevant to my sex life but would like to. After a conversation with Tabitha Rayneabout how her invention of The Ruby Glow came out of a moment where she realised exactly what she wanted and needed to get off in a particular moment I’m really excited about reviewing the resulting toy very soon.
This conversation also led to some interesting thoughts about how I can explore sex toys from my own unique perspective, using what I know about my likes, dislikes, and individual physiognomy- what I need and want in a toy if I’m going to get off. For instance, texture- wise I’m very into hard toys, and don’t like internal vibration at all. Without putting too fine a point on it, I also really like having things in my butt (preferably things without too fine a point on them, boom boom). These are things I know, and perhaps I can make use of this information to carve myself a little Joy- shaped space in the world of sex toys.
And then there’s this:
Like, I could describe the weirdness of this orgasm! The location and physical origin of it. I've been having wankgasms for a LONG TIME, and a lot of them, longer than some reviewers have been alive. The fact that with mechanical assistance novelty is possible is SO INTRIGUING.
— The Joy As It Flies (@BeStillMyBeaten) March 20, 2019
3. I didn’t make it to as many of the sessions as I would have liked, although I made it to roughly as many as I expected and exactly as many as I had the energy to absorb. As data security and privacy was something of a running theme of my weekend, it was brilliant to see Zebra Rose talking with such ease and passion about human rights and sex blogging. It’s a subject I had spent almost no time thinking about beforehand which she presented from a unique perspective. I made lots of notes about manageable actions I can take to preserve not only my own privacy and anonymity but the privacy of my readers.
Cara Thereon’s session on invisibility, racism and marginalisation was the impetus for a really interesting realisation. Cara opened the session, in which the entire audience was people who read as white, with a clear and direct reminder that we are all, in our own way, racist. We talked about what makes a good ally, and what makes an ineffective one- most specifically, a desire for acknowledgment from members of minority communities of the excellent and laudable work that the self- appointed ally has done As Cara put it- ‘Buy your own biscuit, you’re not getting it from me!’
I was also massively inspired by Exposing 40’s session on photography, even if I did have to run out of the room just before it started to have a little stress cry. As a fumbling know- nothing whose best photos have in the past been total happy accidents, I loved the idea of intentionally copying the work of photographers who’ve gone before me in the spirit of ‘Talent borrows, genius steals’. I’ll be using my eagle eye to look out for erotic photos I can copy from now on. The whole session was a fabulous reminder of the power erotic self- portrait can have to revise the ways we see our bodies.
On a practical level, I was reminded that even I don’t like my arse, I’ve still managed to take some photos of it that I did like, and that it’s possible that if I tried to take more such photos I might enjoy my arse more than I currently do. This realisation is in line with some advice from the crowdsourced keynote speech which I know a lot of people enjoyed: When in doubt, photograph your bum.
As a reminder to myself of this deathless wisdom, here is an old photo of my bum. I like it a lot, and commit to replicating its goodness again in the future:
4. The readings. The main reason I was stressed out on Sunday was because I was reading after lunch and hated that I had to do it when so deprived of sleep. I generally have very little fear about reading my work out loud or public speaking, but this was the first time I’d read smut innpublic and the piece I’d chosen is pretty full- on: visceral and incredibly intimate. I didn’t want to fumble my words, or space out, or start weeping in the middle, and I was depleted enough that all of these felt like things that could potentially happen.
In the end the 35 minutes of weaving paracord really did help- thank you so much, @kinkcraft! I had some lunch and by the time I came to read I felt nervous but centred. It probably wasn’t the calmest of performances- I don’t know if people could see my nervous leg twitch! – but I really enjoyed sharing my words with the audience. It felt like such a privilege to be up there with the other readers, all of whom had done things with language which were so hot and tender and brilliant, and the response was amazing. People have said such kind things and the reading session was just the kind of boost I desperately needed after a few months when my confidence has taken a bit of a hit.
5. Swag! And prizes! I won an Electrastim toy in the raffle which was genuinely thrilling. I haven’t tried it out yet- I’m in Berlin as I write this and thought about putting it in my case but was scared it looked too much like an explosive device for comfort. Wires and stuff…
And that’s all I have to say about that. Fuckin’ the end.
(thank you to @kajaecho and @dallahalla for their assistance with ending this post, which would otherwise have languished on my drafts folder while I perfectionised myself in to a corner).