Posts filed under Sexuality

Toy Closet NYC - Sexy Toys

ToyClosetNYC.com is a sponsor of #GoldenLadyBurlesque

ToyClosetNYC.com is a sponsor of #GoldenLadyBurlesque

I had a chance to chat with Janine of Toy Closet NYC.  Toy Closet has been a sponsor of Golden Lady Burlesque from almost the beginning.  

Read what she has to say about being in the sex toy biz:

1) Who is Janine of The Toy Closet?

I wear several hats outside of The Toy Closet. I am the owner of a natural skincare company, Ms Jannie's Baby. I do small business consulting and corporate infrastructure management. As if that wasn't enough, we recently decided to take our adult line of t-shirts to the next level. I'm also a writer. I released a collection of erotica in 2013 and I am one of the sex & romance writers for HelloBeautiful.com. I stay busy, but I do try to maintain a balance.

2) What keeps you driven to keep selling the sexy?

I started selling toys nine years ago. I joined a multi-level marketing adult novelty company, that has since gone out of business. From the first party I did, I was hooked. I loved sharing romance tips and tricks, talking to women about their sexuality, and educating my clients. Sexuality is a very important aspect of a woman's life. I realized that there were so many women who weren't being sexually satisfied either through self love or within their romantic relationships, and I truly wanted to see that change. Women confide in me. I've always appreciated how significant that is. I love my job.

3) What's your best memory from working events/parties?

I'll give two. Since we don't have a brick and mortar location yet, our business is basically mobile and online. Three to four times per year, we do large trade shows, where we set up our store. I love these events because we get to interact with thousands of people. We also use these events as a barometer for the climate in the adult industry. We get to see up close and personal how people are reacting to our products. It's also an amazing opportunity to share our business in areas other than New York.

I have spoken at several colleges over the years. My presentation at Medgar Evers University in Brooklyn was by far the most rewarding. My mother came to help out. Afterwards, she told me that she finally realized what it is that I do and that I'm good at it. That validation I received from her was priceless! She's my biggest cheerleader and supporter.

4) What advice would you give single folks out there about getting someone to share their toys with?

Women are often apprehensive about introducing toys into the bedroom. I truly believe that it is impossible to be fulfilled in a relationship if you don't know what it is that you truly need to be happy. That may sound like an odd way to describe the significance of toys, but think about how many women have never had an orgasm. Some don't know what they need to be sexually satisfied. Toys are a good and safe way to explore one's body and identify sexual appetite and desires. Once you have identified what turns you on, you will be able to relay your turn-ons to your partner. Have a new partner watch or let them use your favorite toy with you. This also helps alleviate the issues that some men have about toys being a replacement.

5) Anything else you want the people to know about?

*Be sure to check out my websites, ToyClosetNYC.com and MsJanniesBaby.com.

*Stay tuned for new products and my next book.

*We offer fun-filled ladies' night toy parties. Contact us to schedule yours today!

*We bring the store to your front door and we have something for everyone.

Self Loathing in Conservative Clothing

I’ve seen a plethora of pieces passing me on the information super highway bashing sexual women, especially women of color - specifically Black women.  Often it’s in the attempt to pump up or encourage the existence of the “good women” who cook, clean and dress conservatively, etc.  You know, because only That is respectable behavior for a woman.  Others mask it in claiming these are the ingredients of a Queen self actualization and autonomy be damned.  I wish I had a nickel for every meme I see shouting down a woman’s choice to twerk.  I mean, we know how detrimental dance styles can be on a woman’s entire complex life (sarcasm intended).  Never have a seen a dance style kick up so much hatred towards Black women while simultaneously popping off a fun, trendy dance craze for white women.

These types of things represent the heights of hypocrisy that make me shake my head at society.   There is a breed of outwardly appearing “respectable” woman that is so desperate for a man; she’ll even knowingly date someone else’s man (and we all know what stellar examples of mates these men turn out to be).  I know, she thinks she'll be the one to change him.  I’ve seen it up close and personal.  There are super successful career women earning multiple six figures who don’t care if a man says he’s in a relationship.  She’ll over look that fact just to have a man appear to be by her side even if it’s just for one night at a big event.  I’ve heard stories of women willing to essentially trick off their children just so she can pretend on social media to be gratified at finding “the one”.  We will act as if a woman with a young child pretending that dating a man that doesn’t want children isn’t borderline child abuse.  Your child and you are a packaged deal.  Perhaps, she deludes herself into believing he'll just fall right on in love with her little one.  I myself work in the realm of sexuality and am naked on worldwide stages, so people assume that I have all types of loose behavior going on.  I don’t.  Clearly these women are reveling in slackness more than I am.  Another difference between women who openly embrace sexuality vs. these women is women who embrace all facets of themselves tend to choose self-respect, self-definition and refuse to settle.  These settling women are not to be hated.  I believe them to be deeply pitiable.  Their up bringing and societal pressures to have a man, any man have done them a great disservice. 

Yet, there is no shortage of beating down Nikki Minaj for her sexual marketing genius (yes borrowed straight from the book of Little Kim whether Nikki wants to admit it or not).  It’s a marketing ploy that sells and Nikki does it well.  I’ve seen Beyoncé berated by men and women alike for being sexual with her own husband who she’s building an empire along side and raising a child with.  Even married women get no pass when it comes to embracing the sexual parts of our beings.  I’ve seen Will Smith and Jada Pinkett given side eye for granting each other the freedom to be authentic and openly be who they are with each other.  It’s as if society wants more couples lying to each other for fear of being judged by one another.  It’s fine for some male hip-hop artists to use being a gangster and illegal activities as a marketing ploy.  Last I checked it was completely legal for a woman to choose to be happy about the sexual aspects of her being.  It is also legal for a woman to have agency over how she displays said sexual aspects of her being.  Yet, we keep persecuting women in the court of public opinion for it.  Stop worrying about what women outside of your household are teaching children and pay closer attention to what the women in the house are teaching the children in their very charge.

Can we talk about the fact that if a successful woman decides to be a sugar mama, the man is praised or left alone for his “come up”?  Yet, if a successful man decides to be a sugar daddy, it is the woman that is beat down for being a gold digger.  If a woman is sexually conservative, she’s bashed for being uptight, stiff and boring.  If she embraces the fact that sexuality is one aspect of her and it’s being worthy of celebration just as is her intellectual, financial, spiritual, familial self she’s degraded at every turn.  It’s as if a woman can’t win for loosing when it comes to being a proud sexual being. 

It’s cool if a woman makes self-loathing decisions as long as she dons a business suit or some other conservative garb.  Extra points will be given if she goes to church many Sundays.  So what if she sits in the pew hand in hand with the man who molested her daughter.  No one will make mention of these types of things.  No memes made, no poems written only silent, blind eyes turned.  I’m really going to need the interwebs to miss me with all this tomfoolery.  There need to be more messages directed towards women desperate to claim any man that comes along.  They need encouragement towards self-love, self-respect and self worth.  They seem to have no grasp of these concepts at all and no one calling them on it to boot.  I know more sexually liberated women with a higher sense of self valuation than many of the church going, conservative appearing, low self-esteem having chicks can ever hope to muster.  No, not all women who are conservative or church going or successful are self-loathing.  I don't think in absolutes.  However, I need to see more of the calling out of the truly self-deprecating women in "proper woman" hiding who are and less of the “if you twerk you hate yourself” crap.  Forget the wolf in sheep’s clothing.  There are self-loathing women in conservative clothing someone needs to write a poem for or make a meme about.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

There does come a point as an adult where one has to make decisions for oneself despite lessons learned in youth about your value being tied to marriage or a man.  Whether one is monogamous or open to an alternative model for relationships, self-love has got to remain job one.  What can a child learn from a mother willing to expose them to a man uninterested in taking part in helping to raise them?  Let's remember children learn by what parents DO not by what they say.  What fulfillment comes from pretending online to be in a whole relationship when one isn’t?  If a committed life partner is the goal, what message to the universe does sneaking around with a cheater actually send?  There are women in hiding willing to debase themselves.  Meanwhile, women who live out loud with all their true colors boldly showing are insulted, mocked and disrespected.  Let’s get it together, world.  Let’s get it together.  We are all beautifully flawed beings trying to do our best to get through life without a playbook.  We all make it up as we go along.  We get blessings, we get lessons, we adjust and we keep it moving.  Stop acting like one kind of journey is more deplorable than another.  It insults my intelligence.  I can’t.

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"Sexuality poorly repressed unsettles some families; well repressed, it unsettles the whole world." - Karl Kraus

 

Sugar Can Unsweeten: My Kara Walker Exhibit Experience

My family comes from Barbados, a place that thrived for years from the mid 1600’s through the 1900's on the sugar industry.  Our carnival type celebration is called Crop Over and happens at the end of the sugar harvest season.  I’ve passed cane fields with people working in them since I was a child.  My mother bringing home stalks of sugar cane would incite excitement in my sister and I as if we were getting birthday presents for no reason.  My mother would hack the stalks into three to four inch pieces.  She would cut a T-shape into the top so that they could be separated into four pieces.  My sister and I would chew on each section sucking the sweet sugar juice out until each piece was dry.  We’d bop around with our pieces then go running back to my mother for refills.  My mother and father would both also take part in the sweet treat until the long stalk was gone.  As an adult, I have sipped on Barbados’ good sugar cane brandy.  Yet, behind all the joy of my memories of sugar is the history.  Barbados’ thriving sugar industry was run from plantations & slave labor.  The island at one point had about twelve plantations.  This is a tiny island which has a modern day population of only about two hundred and seventy-five hundred thousand people.

 

It is with all of this that I walked into the Kara Walker exhibit on June 22nd at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn.  A group organized a “We Are Here” event on that day for women of color to experience the art installation as a majority in the space.  I’d seen the articles filled with disrespectful selfies and group pictures that white people took of the sculpture’s body parts.  They took the time to get precise placement to look as if they were holding, groping or poking fun at the sphinx’s nakedness.  “We Are Here” served as a support for the myriad of feelings and experiences we may have in the space.  Art moves us. 

 

Once inside, the pungent smell of an old sugar factory seeps into my nostrils.  Then I started to see the little boys, made of candy, carrying baskets.  The exhibit has been open since May 10th.  Some of the boys were melting.  Some had collapsed and lay in shattered piles.  The decay of the candy sculptures was difficult for me to see.  It made me so sad to see them shattered on the floor in pieces and piles.  At one point I looked up and there it was, the huge sugar sphinx.  The sun was shining on her creating a glare.  She was a massive presence, wide and tall.  Still, I slowly made my way to visit many of the little boys first before getting to her.  I have to admit visual art often makes me feel like I’m not smart enough to discuss what the artist intended through the creation of it.  I mentioned this to some friends that I came with then decided to not worry about that and just experience it.

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I peeked into their baskets.  I imagined them bringing her sweet treats.  I imagined them working for her in reverence.  I wondered about the babies that may have been strapped to their mothers as she worked the cane fields.  I marveled at the details and textures in the baskets themselves.  Something about the brown sugar sprinkled on the little boys heads made me smile at their sweet heads.  Then I end up in front of the massive white sugar sculpture.  I stared at the sugar and melting molasses like substance on the walls of the factory & thought about the way in which the past can endure.

 

I eventually end up right in front of her.  Her head wrap doesn’t make me thing of Mammy.  I think of the women I’ve passed working in cane fields with their heads wrapped much the same way to protect from the heat of the sun and catch their sweat.  I want to touch it.  I always want to touch art.  It’s always so textured and tempting.  This is no different.  But I don’t even want to get close enough to walk on the sugar at the ground spreading out from her.  I see the evidence of footprints telling me others did not feel this same deference.  I stay at the front and the side of her for quite some time.  I chatted with strangers and greeted friends as we took it all in.  Finally, I feel ready to walk to the back.

 

I’m standing back watching the crowd watch her.  I’m brought out of my people watching when a Black man announces loudly that before people take disrespectful pictures at the vulva of the sculpture they think about the very ideas that this installation are looking to make commentary about.  There was a group of people snapping pictures as he spoke.  They finished snapping quickly, awkwardly and scurried away.  But they made sure to get the picture of them by the sugar vulva.  Some people (of all colors) found his loud announcement to be disruptive to people having an individual experience of the art.  I felt better by him stating it out loud, myself.  Discussions started happening.  I think discussion is the point and is good.  

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It is right around this point that a woman with a name tag that said Arden starts telling the man who made that announcement to make sure that people knew that he wasn’t connected to the company Creative Time.  He had on no badge, isn’t carrying a clipboard or anything else that identifies him to me to be an employee or even a volunteer at the event.  A woman starts recording Arden telling him this.  Arden doesn’t want to be recorded.  She grabs the woman who is recording her to stop her.  Arden then sends over two security guards (one of which isn’t even on duty in the space) to remove the woman for causing a “ruckus”.  There was no ruckus besides the one Arden caused by trying to have a woman of color removed from the exhibit.  Arden physically grabbed her.  The woman was talking.  She said she was going to file a police report.  Was that the ruckus Arden meant?  Several women of color, myself included, wanted clarity on what exactly was the ruckus because we had all been there and hadn’t seen any ruckus besides a woman of color being grabbed by a white woman at an exhibit about a part of brown history.  Arden became flustered and could not answer the questions well.

 

Everyone that I saw speaking to Arden were clearly upset but talking in calm tones with their inside voices and best vocabulary words.  I know that I have long since learned that no matter how rightfully upset that I am as a woman of color if I scream or yell, I automatically become in the wrong.  I automatically become to blame for being an “angry Black woman with attitude”.  Arden even completed the exchange with what I’ve seen called elsewhere as the “white girl Waaaaaaaaambulance”.  Yep, this is a part of racial discussions I know all too well: the white woman who starts crying and bemoaning her victimhood.  “I believe in this work more than anyone, I am here every single day,” says Arden.  She also wailed something to the affect of us all coming at her. 

 

Yes, Arden, we are coming at you with words, questions, and requests for clarity that you became way to flustered to give.  Sorry Arden, but you being at an art exhibit each day of it’s installation & run does not trump the reality I live everyday as a Black woman in this world.  You cannot and don’t have to care more than the women of color standing before you hurt at the wrongful ruckus you are orchestrating in this space.  Here we are now watching you exert the very privilege, which proves how little you have to care as a white woman.  You physically touched someone, and then called security to have THEM removed for causing a ruckus.  You work for Creative Time so security seemed very willing to take your word over hers.  Were there not a slew of women questioning you, you would have gotten away with it no questions asked.  I was so saddened to see this happening in this space at all but especially on the “We Are Here” day.  I am so very proud of the grace, intelligence and power that the women of color took in speaking up for each other.  We Are Here. 

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Submission and Power Exchange

 

“I stand behind you because I trust you to lead the way.  I lead the way because; I know you have my back.” – The Dish with Ward & June

It’s been my experience that a good sub is hard to find but hard subs abound.  Every person exposed to “a million shades of what you will” is creeping slowly out of hiding to seek safe spaces to explore alternative lifestyles.  But are they really?  There is a breed of people calling themselves submissive.  However they are not looking for any type of power exchange.  Power Exchange can happen without there being any stereotypical “kink” involved.  Not everyone is into everything.  This is why it’s important to be clear about how you want Power Exchange to be played out on your relationships.

  

Or when she says Good Boy or when...  ;-)

Or when she says Good Boy or when...  ;-)

 

I’ve had some very odd approaches from potential subs recently.  One was just downright creepy and weird.  Several emails a day only about all the sexual ways in which he would please me (how would he know when we’ve never had that kind of conversation?).  Face to face he had a scary unwavering, stare that sent the warning sirens from the depths of my soul blaring.  Could I end up in Tupperware containers labeled by body parts???  …or something like that. 

I was perplexed why a submissive would assume that he knew what would satisfy a Dominant’s desires.  This is not “one size fits your limited fantasy”.  A Domme/sub (D/s) relationship is not about absolute rule like a Master/slave relationship (even within that BOTH parties have to agree to it).  It’s my personal belief that people in relationship with each other get to create their own unique “contracts”, so to speak.  There is definitely a mutual exchange that happens within D/s.  Everyone should be getting their needs met.  However, a basic principle of a D/s Power Exchange is the strong desire the sub has to please and be led by their Dominant.  Yes, submissives get to let their Dominant partner know what they do and do not want.  The Dominant partner should know the hard and soft limits of their submissive.  However, ultimately it is about the submissive deriving satisfaction from being of service to and guided by their Dominant.

 

 

 

There are no cut and paste ways to be a submissive.  Every relationship is going to have unique dynamics.  However, these are always five great elements for a submissive to consider within a Power Exchange relationship with a Domme:

1)     Integrity – Do what you say you will do.  Whether you deem the commitment small or a big deal, keep your word.  A good sub will own up to it to their Dominant, even if they would never find out.  Short comings should be addressed according to the agreement made between the two of you.

2)     Honest & Open Communication – Dommes are not clairvoyant.  Be open, honest and clear about yourself to your Dominant partner.  A small lapse in communication can easily be interpreted as purposeful insubordination.  Communication bridges the gap between what it means to be a sub behaving badly or needing a specific kind of guidance. 

3)     Trust – The space shared between Domme and sub should be the safest place in the world.  A sub should know for sure that only their best interests are being considered by their Dominant partner.  A Domme may push the edges of a sub’s comfort levels but never put them in harm’s way.  Part of leading the way is having a sincere interest in seeing your sub win.  Are their areas of improvement being worked on within this D/s exchange?  A sub may bring an issue to their Domme.  A Domme may initiate something that they think will improve their subs life: ie… goals, nutrition, making/breaking habits.  The sub knows that there will be after care, especially after intense sessions.

4)     Mutual Respect – None of the above is possible without a mutual respect of one another.  I suppose in commercial dungeons, these rules may or may not apply depending on the situation.  What I’m writing about in this blog are personal interactions.  It would be difficult to trust someone you didn’t respect.  It would be a waste of time to guide someone not worthy of respect.  With this respect comes the ability to lead and be led.

5)    Great Desire to Be of Service – Can a sub’s need to be of service be the intention behind any task their Domme asks of them?  The potentially menial task takes on meaning then.  A sub may despise doing laundry but because it pleases their Domme, it is done with an intention of care.  A sub pleasing their Domme should be satisfaction enough for them.  However, earning rewards for good behavior are a great motivation.  It can be extremely beneficial for a sub to be meticulous with the service they provide to their Domme.
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There is so much focus put on the proverbial “whips and chains” of BDSM.  It feels sometimes like there is more of an interest in a limited and particular “kink” related fantasy.  That type of curiosity could be explored with a pro Domme.  An equally curious partner may present themselves as you go thru your day that you can have occasional play with.  However, by my estimation, it is not satisfactory enough for an interpersonal D/s practice of Power Exchange.  One of my aunts always says, “Every pot has its cover.”  Therefore, whether Dominant or submissive there is no reason to be involved in relationships that doesn’t satisfy you.  Find your perfect match.

 

Black Female Bodies on the Street

I’m standing at the Goddess Walk (anti street harassment rally) next to its creator, Sweet Lorraine.  There were several Black female bodies on the street.  Actually, we were standing in a park at first.  An eight year old boy walked up and read the sign she was holding.  “I try to tell my Dad not to say those things to women.  You have to be a gentleman.  I told him if he keeps doing it, I’m writing him off my list!”  Moments later, his father walked up without knowing we had that conversation with his son.  He was bemoaning the plight of men “like him” who only say polite things as compliments to women on the street.  He refused to hear what the women at the walk were saying (as women who deal with it).  He cut us off and he wasn't listening.  Finally, I said, “You know what?  You’re a pretty man, I’d like to put you in a dress and wig and have you walk once around the block like that.”  He stormed off, arms in the air, exasperated that I’d even suggest such a thing.  “Come on, brother!  I’m just giving you a compliment.  Look at your face, it’s precious!”  He came back later and said with a serious face, “You turned the tables on me.  It hit like a boomerang.  I didn't like that.”  Yeah? Well, neither do we.  Point went to team woman.

Unfortunately, this was one of the few points earned.  On most days, I’m just trying to get to all of my appointments on time.  I’m really good at being over scheduled so it’s not personal if I don’t stop to engage everyone that makes a comment to me on the street.  Oh, and by the way, I don’t owe you any engagement.  This summer has been off the charts with street harassment.  Honestly, I feel a bit lucky, as if I have a remote control on street harassment.  For me, when I dress down, I don’t get harassed much.  However, I hear many women say that this makes no difference.  I am around two such women very often.  I’ve heard stories from these two women that are beyond anything that I have ever had to personally encounter on the streets.  Then just last week I bore witness to a similar such horrible incident of harassment.

Sweet Lorraine is another burlesque performer and also one of my closest friends.  She tends to dress up often.  I tend to dress down when not on stage.  It’s safe to say that I've watched many a human loose it in her presence.  I've watched people struggle to keep their eyes off her breasts as they speak to her.  I've also experienced walking with her when she is dressed down.  Clearly we don’t have the same remote control.  The comments and reactions from people on the street can be non-stop.  In fact, I believe she was dressed down on the day that her being harassed on the street ending with her being pushed by the cat callers.  These and experiences like these led her to create The Goddess Walk.

 

 

 

After watching her video promo for the walk, I had to admit to myself that dressing down is mostly about my being comfortable.  However, a big part of my dressing down is also to take a break from crazy comments like, “I’d bend that over and be all up in it,” while I’m trying to get where I’m going.  The walk has already happened but the conversation continues.

Toy!!! is my laptop buddy.  A fellow entrepreneur and primarily a vocalist, she uses her voice for many of her life’s passions.  She is one of the most passionate people I know.  In addition to using her voice for work and creative expression, she also does a great deal of charity work for the homeless and children.  She’s also a voluptuous red head.  When I say red head, I mean Crayola crayon, currently cut into a fly faux hawk, red.  When I walk down the street with her, I often hear people compliment her for how funky her whole style is.  If I hadn't actually had conversations with her, I’d never know about all the insults and street harassment that also come with that same packaging.  From a very young age, she’s had to deal with extra attention because of having full breasts.  For example, she’s long been given unsolicited advice as to what she should and should not wear.  She’s been coached strongly around how she should and should not act.  Often, it can be a challenge to grow into who we authentically are when others have taught us to believe how they think we should be.

She recently made her voice very heard in this Ladies Remix of the Robin Thicke & Pharell's Blurred Lines.

 

Just last week, I was headed back to Brooklyn with Perle Noire, who had just performed in a benefit show honoring the memory of burlesque legend, Dixie Evans.  We decided to grab a slice before getting into a cab home.  Many people in the pizza shop stopped her to compliment her performance.  There was a drunken white couple who stopped her as she passed their table.  The woman hugged Perle while she sang the praises of her performance.  The woman then decided to take a nibble of Perle’s nipple.  I was shocked and disgusted.  Perle handled it with way more grace than I could have mustered.  Clearly upset by it when she came back to where we were sitting she said, “I don’t know what it is.  My whole life, people just feel like they can just touch my breasts.”  I imagine that one reaction to this would be to try to hide her breasts at all costs.  However, just the inverse, she has won awards like Most Dazzling Dancer at the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend Miss Exotic World Festival.  For many performers, the pasties are a reveal at the very end of an act.  Not for the Black Perle of Burlesque.  See her here performing a piece that is a tribute to the Nigerian Goddess of sensuality, intelligence and abundance - Oshun.

Soon after witnessing that incident with Perle Noire, I read When Your Brown Body is A White Wonderland by Tressie McMillan Cottom.  Please read it.  The three women I mention are beautiful by anyone's standards, so that element of the article didn't resonate.  It was the lack of reverence and value of her body that did.  It (and the comments of those who are trying to invalidate her particular experience) made me think about the ways in which women’s bodies are often removed from their humanity as a whole.  No, this is not limited to Black bodies but these are the bodies that I am speaking about in this post.  I, myself, have dealt with people in dressing rooms of strip clubs and burlesque shows grabbing at my behind.  It’s usually followed by a giggle and an “I just can’t help it…”  These are, however, women that I have a working relationship with (a working relationship that involves us being nude or near nude in dressing rooms together while enjoying the break from societies demands on how we should use our own bodies), not strangers on the street.

I am grateful that I have not experienced strangers on the street feeling at liberty to touch me.  So many people are asking why a white woman can’t do a particular dance. Beyond the historical African roots of our dances being ignored by many, it isn't just about that.  Google mapouka, soukous, soca and reggae dances. As a proud stripper, I’m here to tell you that no strippers or New Orleans didn't invent the moves.  What's really troublesome is that "Miley Gate’s" message is that my brown body is OK to be smacked and used as a prop devoid of full human value, yet again, for the sake of pop culture's gain and amusement.  Miley Gate be damned... Goddess bless the fool that now thinks they can grab my ass as if it's their own.

It just is not OK, period.

 

 

A Human, Being

I’m a human, being.  A human being the best way I can figure how day to day.  I've been thinking a great deal about the imperfection that it is to be human.  Yet, here we all are human, being.  Our spirits are housed in these bodies as we have our individual human experiences.  We are all that - spirit.  Somehow, there are those among us that refuse to accept or see that we are all one.  It boggles my particular mind why the people who most likely to miss these facts seem to be wielding the most control, resources and access.  Do they also hold the most power?

Some days, more recently than I care to admit, I truly do think so.  I wake up not wanting to do another day.  A world that can allow Trayvon Martin to be murdered and George Zimmerman to walk free surely has an imbalance of power.  This imbalance seems to be bearing down on our backs in such unbearable, sadness and awe inducing ways.  However, when I really stop and consider it, perhaps they see too much power in us.  Is it possible that the need to control and hoard come from the fact that they can see that we are powerful beyond our own recognition?  I think about a fraction of the humans I know personally.  I especially think of the ones I call friend.  Many of them are creative and caring to a degree way higher than I've ever experienced from people I've encountered with control, resources, access.

In New York one can be privy to experiencing numerous worlds at once.  I know I have. Sometimes, it happens all in the same night.  I remember one night being in a bar uptown that was filled to the brim with people who had big titles in big companies, their own or internationally recognizable brands.  I sat quietly listening to them talk at each other about the things these types go on about: material possessions, vacations in the trendy places, clothing from labels I know nothing about, real estate locations, etc.  A woman I was sitting next to exchanged cards with me saying that we should meet up for lunch or drinks soon.  That never happened.  She LA’d (a term I coined for when people flake) me every time I followed up.  We would all know the brand she helms if I named it.  Anyway, off I went to a poetry open mic downtown.  This was also filled to the brim but with people happy to have a space to share the words they’d written.  People talked to each other about ideas, current events, and plans for future creative projects small & large.

That lady from uptown did not see me fit for her level of human after a quick Google search, I’m guessing.  Strippers are not human at all as far society is concerned.  If we are human, we certainly aren't respectable ones.  People who are involved in any kind of sex work or sex education work are for sure hugely flawed humans.  Add to the equation all of the things that these people with control, access, resources deem value-less.  I personally can add quite a few marginalized communities into my own human basket – person of color, queer, female, 1st generation (I guess I would be what they call an “anchor baby”) for example.  So what if we are all skeletons beneath it all?

Yet, I exist among a great big wide network of people creating beautiful things despite.  It is one of the reasons that I lend my talent, time and abilities to projects like The Red Umbrella Project.  I’ve certainly benefitted from being a part of the memoir writing class that they offer to current and former sex workers.  It is an amazing experience to sit in a room full of people who can see each other for the spirits we all are as opposed to the flawed human experience we exist as a part of.  This experience has led to two literary journals which tell the stories of sex workers (Prose & Lore).  Prose & Lore 2 was recently launched on July 10, 2013.  It is my hope that through sharing our stories (sad, happy, shocking or fun) all work toward the end of educating the world of sex worker’s humanity.  I think about the world before the internet where sex workers only knew the sex workers at their club or on their stroll or with their agency or, worse, in hiding going it all alone.

Skulls

I am grateful to be a part of different communities which strive to share with the world the stories of our humanity despite and in spite of our flaws (women, people of color, queer, managing mental illness, survivors, I could go on.  You get the point.).  They are not perfect worlds.  Even within this world, issues of marginalization breed ignorance and callousness.  There is an unwillingness to simply empathize without feeling threatened or becoming needlessly defensive.  I personally find myself in a space that is never enough for anyone.  I’m not militant or loud enough for the activists or feminists.  I’m not gay enough for the queer community.  “How dare you say you’re a sex worker,” say the strippers.  “How dare you say you’re a stripper,” say the burlesque performers.  Daggers for being thin though I’ve worked out like an athlete since the age of twelve (for years with trainers).  Mind you, I’d also get daggers were I overweight.  “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.  There’s no such thing as depression,” say the "positive" thinkers.  It never ends.

At least, however, even with that, we are able to harness true power by creating, community building and bringing awareness to society at large.  This tribe which is not cut from mainstream cloth has issues.  It is surely not utopia.  But every merry band of misfits I know finds their own chosen family within which they can build no matter what lack of control, resources or access society at large imposes.  It’s because the things we do, we do because we HAVE TO for our own survival and peace of mind.  Those of you in the tribe know exactly what I mean.  To those of you not in this tribe it probably makes no sense.  Yet, when we serve it to you as only our creatively unique selves can, you get it a little more each time.  I hope.  I have to believe that these are the things that change the world.  This is the power within us that is feared and attempting to be extinguished.

  ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She's been published in two anthologies: Pros(e)Prose & Lore 2,  &  Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chicken Hawks.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.

 

Brown Girls Talk Burlesque

During the first BGB All Stars Show, we took some time to chat about burlesque. :-D

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Also, I recently shared some of my thoughts with Corset Magazine (The Go To Magazine for All Things Sexuality)  too.

 Check it out HERE!!

ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She's been published in two anthologies: Pros(e) &  Johns, Marks, Tricks & Chicken Hawks.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.  Help Essence get to the Milan Burlesque Awards!

Female Empowerment

Transient

When I was an undergrad I became a Sexual Health Advocate.  Honestly, I think this is where my interest in helping people talk freely about sexual topics began.  We were put through training and sent off on campus to do various workshops with different groups of fellow students.  It's there that I met Amy Jo Goddard.  I secretly had a crush on her and her girlfriend at the time.  I don't know that I ever told her that.  Hey, Amy Jo, if you're reading out there, yes, it's true :-).  I got to lead workshops about safer sex, sex toys, contraceptive options and I even owned my own plastic speculum which I used in workshops about GYN exam related topics.  We gave people tools to use when communicating about sexual topics with new partners.  We taught  facts and stigmas around STI's.  I even got to teach people how to put a condom on with no hands.  Yes, I've been talking about sex with strangers for a while now.

I wasn't studying anything having to do with human sexuality.  I just was very interested in freeing myself from a very strict up bringing & healing as a sexual abuse survivor.  I was fascinated by the fact that so many people seemed uncomfortable talking about sexual topics.  Volunteering and community service was at the core of who I was.  This was a perfect fuse of all these things.  Amy Jo however was actually studying Human Sexuality.  "How cool was that!" I thought.

I had the opportunity to work with her in a play she wrote, produced and directed called Vulvalution.  It is one of my favorite projects to date because I got to play a very butch character named Blue, *b-boy stance* ;-).  I think it was around that time that she  had a book called Lesbian Sex for Men coming out.  We lost touch soon after that I believe.  Then the Facebooks happened and re-connection happened and lo and behold she was a full-blown sex educating star-uh!  She's even been endorsed by Justin  "Bringing Sexy Back" Timberlake.  Whaaaaat?!?!  Needless to say, this is a totally biased plug but a totally honest evaluation:  Amy Jo Goddard is doing the dern thang.

She has a free class coming up April 3rd at 8pm EST:

Coming Home to Your Sexual Self... When You Didn't Know You Had Left

Free Call on Wednesday, April 3rd with Amy Jo Goddard, Sexual Empowerment Coach Register here.

It can happen so easily -- when sex falls to the bottom of the priority list, when the relationship plateaus, when you look in the mirror and can't remember when the last time was you had amazing sex, powerful orgasms, deep intimacy, and truly satisfying pleasure.

Or when something happens with a partner and you feel knocked off your center, disconnected from your sexual confidence and power.

Could this be you right now? Is it possible that you've left yourself somewhere along the way… perhaps without realizing it?

My friend and colleague Amy Jo is a sexual empowerment coach who does amazing work with women and couples on their sexuality and relationships. And she's offering a free 75-minute call, no strings attached, for people who feel like they've gotten off track sexually and want to find their way back home to a place of radical self-love, authenticity, and openness to all the pleasure, abundance and rockin' great sex that life has to offer. It's called "Coming Home to Your Sexual Self... When You Didn't Know You Left."

What a great topic!  To get on the list for this free call, go here. Come home, beautiful! It's time!

ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.  Help Essence get to the Milan Burlesque Awards!

Vibrator Review 2 - Lelo INA 2

INA 2 Lelo

Guess what?  I got another sex toy to review from The Toy Closet.  I was excited to do my homework, but I had to get ready to go to a show.  One thing that was especially interesting about this toy is that it's ReChArGeAbLe!  :-D  I got home from the show.  I opened the package and looked at the box.  I thought it was so pretty, so, so pretty.  And it was my favorite color, purple.  Yep, I was biased from the start!  What I did not do was plug it in to charge before I left for the show.  Which was fine because I was tired and wanted to get to bed anyway *side eye*...  *Sigh*.  I plugged it in.

While it was charging, I checked out what was in the box.  A carrying case, lube (glycerine & paraben free), a warranty and an instruction manual were in the box.  A charger was, of course, in there as well.  I promise, I have never before thought about registering a toy.  Now I have.  There was a product registration card.  I also, don’t typically use toys with penetration.  I had to wait until the following night before I  had time to test it out.

Transient

For the sake of research, I pushed through, so to speak.  I was curious about that shape.   There are 8 vibration settings as well as intensity control.  Is this the "luxury vehicle” of sex toys?  I can say that whether you do use penetration or not, it is a fun toy to have.  It’s like a sex toy, video game controller and you are in the command center.  You know, in a sexy time kind of way.  Yes, it is fully water proof as well.  Perhaps, one of you could test it out in water and let me know how it was?  In the bath, perhaps?  I always think that fully water proof  is a great option, especially if you take showers with your partner.  I don't need details: a yay or nay will do!!!

The battery life seems to be excellent.  I haven’t charged it for days and have been able to use, I mean, test it out a time or two or three or...  Thumbs up to the Lelo.

Transient

Guess what else?  The Toy Closet will be available at the Brown Girls Burlesque "She's A-Shake-A-Ning" show in Phili, Washington DC & New York City this weekend Mar 21st - 23rd.  If we won’t be in your city Toy Closet can be reached 24/7 online.

Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!

ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.  Help Essence get to the Milan Burlesque Awards!

Strip Clubs, Why Do Men Go?

English: Signage on the exterior of a strip cl...

I was recently asked why men go to strip clubs.  It was a text message and I was responding in way too many parts.  So, I decided to write it out here.  I think this question is similar to what kind of woman strips?  There is no "typical" customer as there is no "typical" stripper.  There are many reasons why the men who enjoy strips clubs go.  I suppose, though, the short answer is in the same way that the kind of  woman who strips is the kind of woman who needs to earn money, men go to strip clubs to see T & A.  Some more A than T and vice versa but you get my drift.

1) Men are highly visual.  The Club, the endearing nick name for strip clubs, are chock full of visual stimulation.  There are beautiful women.  The attire depends on the club.  It could be long evening gowns.  It could be nothing more than coordinated bra's and panties.  Then there is everything in between.  At any rate, it's a sight to see.  Numerous women dressed up with full hair and make-up.  Nails done and, hopefully, smelling good.  There are usually big screen televisions showing sporting events.  There are cocktail waitresses bringing you your cocktail of choice.  Or if you choose to sit at the bar you'll be catered to there.  The folks at the door welcome you with open arms, if the club is doing their business the right way.  No one is going to tell a strip club customer that they are being disrespectful for looking at numerous beautiful women.

Strip Club Customers Seated at Tip Rail

2) A break from societal expectations is enjoyed.  The conversations had with dancers and staff can range from sports & current events (personal or news worthy) on down to sharing the raunchiest of stories, jokes and fantasies.  It could be a conversation about the divorce that he's going through right now.  No one at the club knows the people in your life so you can say what you want.  There is no need to worry about what type of talk is socially acceptable.  There's the company of beautiful women and dances.  I've spoken to guys who enjoyed coming to strip clubs because they are shy and they know dancers will approach them first.  This is another nice change of pace for men.  Traditionally, men are expected to be the initiator in the real world.  (Though, ladies, I hear that you making the first move is more than welcomed contrary to traditional beliefs.)  And after a conversation, she may seductively take off her clothes just for you.  If a dancer isn't digging your chat she most likely will politely walk away.  A.  Why would she want other potential customers see her be hostile.  B. A successful night often depends on attitude so why would she want someone to take her away from her happy space.  C.  There's the dressing room where dancers can vent, share experiences, give warnings or accolades, etc.  So the main floor is like a safe zone unless he gets way out of hand.

Transient

3) He's treated like king of the castle.  One thing you can expect to be stroked is your ego.  One night, I sat talking with a customer while he ate his steak.  At one point he stopped and said, "You know, I go to work, my employees don't appreciate me.  I go home and I'm taken for granted.  I come in here and I get treated like a king.  The door men know my name.  Beautiful women talk to me.  Everyone wants to make sure I'm having a good time..."  He shook his head then continued with his meal.  After being in relationships or a marriage for a while, messages go from "I wanna do xyz (insert sexy, flirty action here) to you..." into ,"Can you get some milk on your way in?"  I know I've been guilty of it.

Need we say more?

If  a guy with expendable income is into strip clubs, this can be a very welcomed part of his day.  However, the reasons why are wide and varied.  Some may go because they had a good day and want to celebrate.  Perhaps, he had a hard day and wants to get away for a moment.  Maybe his partner is sick and he doesn't want to cheat on her.  Maybe he cannot stand his partner and wants an escape.  It could be a business meeting, birthday or a bachelor party. It could be "boys night out".  It could be he enjoys the conversation and company of a particular dancer(s). One thing is clear.  Either it is a man's thing or it is not.  But for those who enjoy it, you never can pin the reason why on just one thing...  Well, except the T & A of course!

ESSENCE REVEALED - Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan born & raised in Boston.  She got her BFA at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and MA at NYU's Steinhardt School of Education.  Her writing has appeared places such as $pread Magazine, Corset Magazine, BurlesqueBible.com and 21st Century Burlesque.  She now performs & teaches nationally and internationally both solo and as a member of Brown Girls Burlesque.  Her favorite thing to do besides reading is to lay on the beach in Barbados to rest up for a night of calypso dancing.  Help Essence get to the Milan Burlesque Awards!

Posted on March 18, 2013 and filed under Essence Revealed, Sex, Sexuality.