Saturday, 25 June 2016

INnocent LovEUboy

On Friday morning I called work and told them that I had a sticky throat and that it hurt to talk. They gave me the day off and sent me something to do from home, which I duly did, after about an hour and a half of crying. Loud, racking sobs, squeezing a pillow to my chest, soaking the bedsheets below and occasionally swearing under my breath. It may have hurt to talk, but that's nothing, compared to how much it hurt emotionally.

I have always thought of the European Union as a positive thing, ever since I was a very young child. I was (and still am) fascinated by the concept of countries working together in a centralised system, even when in primary school, and was pretty much the only one in my A-Level Politics class who said joining the Euro was a good idea. My mother, who was around the first time the UK had an in/out referendum, admitted she was worried, but was confident that Remain would clinch this one. I, too, was confident of this - it would be narrow, but I credited the British public with the necessary intelligence to realise that freedom of movement, right of appeal, human rights protection, trade laws and millions of jobs were all pretty good ideas.

It's not the first time I've trusted people too much.

The say before the referendum, I posted some tweets about how the EU has affected the sex blogger community as a whole. While I am aware that there are many American sex bloggers, the European contingency is tight. Rose, Rebel, Abbi and Jillian are all bloggers who were able to travel here, no questions asked, to attend Eroticon and other gatherings. Jillian, of course, moved here from Belgium to seek work (which she found) and love (which she found) and a home (...buh?). She didn't get a visa, unlike DomSigns or Bunny (who would both probably tell you that it's a very difficult, and time-consuming, task. My hairy friend did the reverse, migrating to the USA to get married, and it took years.), but because of her EU citizenship, she didn't need one.

An EU passport. There are Syrian refugees drowning in the Mediterranean who would kill for one of those. To throw ours away because of some misguided, racist, patrioric, neoliberal jingoisms and falsified promises to protect our NHS and benefit services (which are both part-funded by the EU) is an insult to those people on the boats.

From a purely selfish perspective (to say nothing of the fact that I have a girlfriend from the European mainland!), the day job I do (and have been doing since 2011, on and off) is almost entirely dependent upon the EU for clients. Without the EU, I may not have had a job to call in sick to on Friday. I'm happy to say that my job is confirmed for at least one more year (phew!), but that doesn't mean that my entire future career would be in jeopardy. It's not just proles like me, either: my uncle, who works for a big auditing accounting company in London and is on a six-figure salary, is fearing for his job. In his words, we're "fucked".

The EU flag hangs in my office because we are partially funded by them as a small business. Basically, the EU pays my salary.

After months of campaigning, convincing all my family and friends to vote Remain, spending my lunch hour on Thursday walking up and down the high street handing out flyers and hanging a Remain poster in my room at work even though my boss told me not to, it's quite understandable, I think, that I spent most of Friday morning crying. I even tried to masturbate, but the sweet release of orgasm was difficult to achieve, and I had to resort to watching hardcore lesbian strap-on fucking to get me off.

Which reminds me - how does this affect the porn industry?

It's very difficult to think of a bright side to this (David Cameron resigning doesn't count). For what it's worth, though, I've heard in several places that it will take us two years to properly "Brexit". Much as I'd prefer us not to at all, at least we have that intervening time to regroup, campaign for social justice, and continue to enjoy the benefits the EU affords us. If we love the EU as much as we can, while we still can, then we will have shown Europe how special it is by the time "Brexit" is completed.

Certainly not in my name. I'm a European. I always have been and I always will be.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

2002

"I've never sung this one before," she grinned into the microphone, "so you may have to help me with the lyrics..."

Everyone geared up as Music Man started playing some chords we didn't recognise. For a moment, I thought that nobody would know the song, but then the bassist (wherever we came from; he was completely unfamiliar!) chimed in with the familiar bassline to Green Day's Longview and a roar came from the crowd.

Or what passed for a crowd. It was more like a mess than anything else - what had started as a collection of students crowded around tables and chairs with drinks had morphed, by the second half, into a largely open space with upended chairs as occasional hazards. The students, who probably weren't meant to be drinking as they were (mostly) under 18, had become an amorphous mass. I myself had typed out the band's set list in the library at school that week, but was still surprised to hear Longview.

"When masturbation's lost its fun, you're fuckin' lonely!" I hollered, mostly at Lightsinthesky, who was hollering it back at me as we hurtled to the front of the throng. Music Man, who would end the gig rocking back on his knees as he finished off Smells Like Teen Spirit, started playing a solo. It was a special moment.

That's when I noticed a small brunette sitting on her own in the corner.

Obsession had turned up earlier in the evening with her collection of friends. I knew her by association (and, by extension, LiveJournal) and she's always been civil, friendly even, to me. I saw her playing bass with a band she was in once, and then again, at these little gigs for the band that Music Man formed. And yet, here she was, all on her own. Why, I wondered, was she doing that, while the rest of us were pushing against each other singing Longview?

"Why Offspring?" I asked as we sat on the steps outside the pub, the heaving throng inside rocking out to All The Small Things. "In your MSN address?"
"Oh... they were my favourite band," she said sadly, pulling out her Nokia 3210 and showing me a The Offspring banner. "I still like them, but they're not my favourites any more." She paused. "Are you still into..."
"James?" I supplied. "Yeah."

All Obsession's friends, it transpired, had trickled away during the gig. They hadn't meant to abandon her, but had ended up doing so, drifting off in their ones and twos assuming there would be someone left over to accompany her. Evidently there wasn't. She was alone. Alone and short.

"Do you... do you want me to take you back to the tube station? So you don't have to be alone?" I ventured. 

Obsession almost smiled - almost. 

We went into the pub to listen to the final song and then beat the spill back out while she finished her drink. I convinced her that it wouldn't be any problem to walk her to the station and then set off. We had a nice chat, got to the station at the end. She hugged me as thanks and I gave her a quick kiss on the top of the head, then bid her farewell and walked back to the pub.

Lightsinthesky was surprised to see me back. Evidently he thought that "walking Obsession to the station" was code for something, and was a little disappointed that he didn't find someone to walk with too. We ended up on the bus home with the band, the Manics fan (with whom I would later want to have sex) and her slightly younger cousin, who was both completely oblivious to and hilariously impervious to Lightsinthesky's attempts to lay woo her. I texted Obsession quickly to see if she got back home okay, then 47 to tell him about the gig and, finally, Lightsinthesky, just to distract him.

Even though, a couple of days afterwards, I was starting to gravitate towards a relationship, Lightsinthesky wouldn't let it go. Walking into town with him at one point, he kept asking me exactly what was going on between us. I insisted that we were friends; there basically was nothing at all happening; I felt sorry for her because all her friends had vanished and was keeping her company; I knew her anyway so it was good to catch up; so what if we had a parting hug at the station? Hugs are nice.

Soon afterwards, I kind of lost touch with Obsession. As everyone was approaching university, people started pairing off (or, in Einstein's case, doing a Master's in Physics); Lightsinthesky had sex and wouldn't shut up about that either, my tall friend who now works at Pizza Hut learned to play Sweet Child O' Mine on the guitar. I was impatient, when I got to university, for some new experiences: I wasn't aware then, of course, that there had been so very many missed opportunities. The night before I left London, I was at a farewell party at Robinson's with all his mad friends, including Lovely - a missed opportunity for him, perhaps, that he managed to get back.

Just before we all left the sixth form, the band played a couple of farewell gigs, including a support slot for the band that Lightsinthesky's brother was in. This time, I took my girlfriend with me, and bought her a beer, unaware that a single pint would get her drunk. As I half-walked, half-carried her out of the familiar pub towards the bus stop, I noticed Obsession, sitting in a corner with the friends she had misplaced a few months prior. I waved.

She flashed a smile back at me. A genuine smile, full of warmth and life and the happiness that she'd claimed to be possessed of online, despite the fact that I'd seen her so low.

I only remember snatches of the night that followed. But I remember Obsession, the last person I saw in that pub. I've never been back since. But, for some reason, when I think back to those last few months, that smile's the thing that stays with me the most.

And I wish I knew where she is now.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Soft Porn Sunday: Keri Windsor & Brad Bartram vs. Melina Hanson & Anthony DeVilla

Some of you, if you've been reading this for a long time and haven't given up on me yet, may recognise the names of the actors above. Hanson and DeVilla have the dubious honour of being the main players in my first-ever Soft Porn Sunday back in 2010, and then again in 2015, but still missed out on a place in my top ten (it was a close-run thing, though; were I do to a top 11...). I haven't actually seen Melina Hanson in anything except this one episode of Passion Cove (and her IMDb page sugests that she hasn't actually done anything else), which is a shame, because she's hot. Still, in one half-hour episode we do get three sex scenes with her as Ruth, so I'm not really complaining much...

Appearance: Passion Cove, Series 2: "Practice What You Preach" (2001)
Characters: Elizabeth & Win vs. Ruth & Nick

The double sex scene is a rare breed, and a curious one. It's a rare thing to do (threesome scenes are more common), and probably also difficult to direct. You've got one couple doing one thing and another couple doing something else, which is probably different in order to create variability to identify which is which (this scene actually happens in the dark, which probably doesn't help!). A balance between two sex scenes is difficult to grasp, as (in terms of timing) the focus is probably going to be on one couple, with the others acting out, essentially, a "B-plot" of sex. Invariably, of course, it's the second couple I'm usually more interested in or aroused by.

That is, of course, the case here as well. Most of the sex that happens throughout the episode is between Ruth and her boyfriend Nick, whereas the main plot (without any sex) is focused mostly on
Oh, hai soft porn candle!
Ruth's boss, Elizabeth (Keri Windsor), a sex therapist who isn't having sex. Making up the shortfall is Win (Brad "Honesty" Bartram), staying next door to the resort at Passion Cove, a kind soul who ends up being the one who has sex with Elizabeth (putting paid to the saying that "nice guys never Win"). This is the final scene, the inevitable one, where Elizabeth suddenly realises her sexual potential with the guy WHO JUST HAPPENS TO BE STAYING NEXT DOOR AND HAS TWO HORSES, BY THE WAY DID I MENTION THAT SHE GREW UP ON A RANCH, ZOMG COINCIDENCE!. And, for some reason, it happens during a thunderstorm.


Because. I don't know. Symbolism? Maybe there was actually a storm happening at the time. It genuinely doesn't matter.

This scene actually starts with Ruth and Naked Nick (I don't think wardrobe could arange clothes for four) talking, flirting and then having the seks, and although it then switches in focus to what's going on in the next room with Elizabeth, who's Winning, it cuts back intermittently to Ruth and Nick. Essentially, then, you get two things happening, summarised thus.

Elizabeth & Win: Kissing; back onto the bed; more kissing; off go the panties; yet more kissing; soft porn cunnilingus (this is never realistic; kudos for giving it a go); jump! More kissing with laughter and some appalling dialogue; more kissing!; incredibly brief astride sex; sex in a sitting position which is probably impossible; a single moan, fade to black.

Ruth & Nick: Kissing; carried over to the bed (yes); disrobing; soft porn cunnilingus (less realistic, but hotter); bodies flip over with more kissing; quick and dirty doggie style sex; jump! Bouncy bouncy astride sex; more of this with moany noises; jump!

All of this is overlaid with occasional storm noises and flashes of lightning (well, somebody in the crew fucking about with a torch). You can't actually see the storm - throughout neither scene do we get a
Ruth and Nick "Flowers" Bartram.
window, although the ubiquitous soft porn candle does make an appearance - but it's clearly meant to be happening. Elizabeth and Win's bits all happen in the dark, so it's more apparent here, but the idea is that this is all happening at night during a tropical storm. Or something. It's a nice idea, anyway, and it sort of works. It gives the sound department a chance to piss around with thundery noises, but that's basically it - there's no rain, no wind, and (as I've said) you can't see it, so it even seems a bit superfluous.


Halfway through the scene, Elizabeth and Win stop kissing for one goddamn second to listen to Ruth having a orgasm.

No, seriously, that's what happens; they stop what they're doing to listen to Ruth and then exchange some dialogue along the lines of "looks like everybody's takin' the doctor's advice, even the doctor herself!" (delivered by "Honesty" Bartram with an attempt at acting which also almost works). Thin walls, eh? Passion Cove resort needs to be looked at; people may mention this on Trip Advisor.

While the bits that work about this scene do work, there are some bits that don't. Perhaps the most obvious one is the music. Ruth and Nick have their own, recognisable "theme", which starts them off.
This is, of course, impossible.
If you've seen Passion Cove you'll know the theme; it's used a few times and fits the scene well - a mixture of digital percussion, deep sexy bass and Spanish guitar. It's actually quite pretty and one of the best bits of softcore music I can think of. Elizabeth and Win, however, have different music (Ruth and Nick's cuts out to make space for it!): a kind of quasi-tribal arrangement with thudding congas and repetitive, ethereal synth lines like you might find on a level select screen. It's not as good, and it continues throughout the rest of the scene - including the bit where it cuts back to Ruth and Nick, only that transition's not very smooth, so there's a second jarring change in music. Very annoying!


And, of course, I'm not happy with the prevalence of Elizabeth and Winner throughout - even if they are the "A"-plot. It's erotic romance, so they were going to get together anyway, but throughout the episode we've been a little spoiled by the genuine chemistry and incredibly hot sex between Ruth and Nick (who are both attractive and put in steamy performances). Here, it's almost like we're going to be treated to a third scene between them, and then they strip this away in favour of a less hot, less enjoyable scene with two less believable characters! Also very annoying!

However, I would recommend this scene - even for arousal purposes, although it works best as a dénouement to the whole episode. Clunky bits aside, there's just enough of Ruth and Nick's lusty
Mwah!
lovemaking to make this enjoyable. Melina Hanson, in particular, carries the whole episode basically on her own, from the very first scene to the end, despite Keri Windsor playing the main character (and being a soft porn stalwart, to boot). This genuinely isn't a scene I'd just watch for the main pair, despite the fact that they Win, so the fact that I'm reviewing it at all is something of a miracle unto itself!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Panache

When I was little, my mum used to use a brand of perfume named "Panache". It took me a while to learn what the word panache meant, but since I could read by the age of one and a half, I used to enjoy trying to pronounce unusual words. Things like "smoking", "shark" and "manilla envelope" I had no trouble with, but - for some reason, "panache" escaped me. I ended up saying something like "paschy" (/pæ'ʃiː/), and since my mum had two sizes of perfume bottle (for reasons that elude me even to this day), I named them "big paschy and little paschy". I used to talk to them while brushing my teeth. This I remember.

Fast forward eleven years and you'll find me in year 8 - still talking to inanimate objects, still reading practically everything and still aware of the existence of manilla envelopes. In the slightly darkened corridors of my cavernous secondary school, while lining up for a French lesson, I overheard two of my main tormentors - the bully who gave me trouble and the... well, the other one... - talking with glee and zest about panache.

"Hey, ILB! How's your panache?" one of them yelled.

Half of me almost thought of thanking them for complementing me on my fashionable style and joie de vivre, but I conceded that was unlikely. Unwilling to engage them any further, I tried to think of a way to end the conversation right there, and into the other half of my brain rocketed a distant memory of two bottles of perfume in the bathroom cupboard.

Big Paschy and Little Paschy.

"Panache? Why, that's a kind of perfume!" I said, as brightly as possible.

Both bullies looked as if I'd just suggested that I'd won the lottery and would be giving them all my winnings. Confused at why the mention of perfume would be cause for them to share an evil grin, I started to turn away.

"Hey, ILB! Have you smelled your dad's panache?" came the voice of Bully #1.
"It's not my dad's," I replied, making things much worse for myself without realising. "It's my mum's."
"Hey, ILB!" said Bully #2, in a mock serious tone but shaking with fits of suppressed laughter. "Have you smelled your mum's panache?"
"I..." I started to reply, and then paused. Had I, at any point, considered the distinctive scent of oddly-named eau de parfum? Probably not. Whatever "panache" meant to the bullies (and I was beginning to get a pretty clear idea by now), I just had to answer "no", and that would be that.

"Yes," I said.

FUCK.

"And what does it smell like?" asked Bully #1, in a voice so loud that the rest of the class, and even several members of staff, turned around.
"Well, like perfume, I suppose... what else is it supposed to smell like?" I said, confused.

At which point the lesson started, and we filed into the classroom, both bullies now howling with laughter and being asked to remain outside because they were making too much noise.

Unfortunately, this happened in the morning, and this gave them the chance to repeat, over and over again, the story of how I'd smelled my mum's panache, and it was like perfume. I was on hand, of course, to verify this story, becoming more and more confused as to why this was at all funny - in most cases, the audience seemed to agree with this, either unfamiliar with the euphemism itself or just not thinking that teasing me was particularly funny.

Nobody really liked me, so I suspect it was the former.

Eventually, of course, the bell rang and I managed to escape to make my way home... at which point I typically realised exactly what these bullies had decided the word "panache" meant. Resolving never, ever, ever to use that word again - and, in fact, to limit my vocabulary severely in case something like "fishslice" or "dishcloth" or "Spanish omelette" had some unscrupulous double meaning invented by whomsoever had decided to pick on me on whichever day it was.

As I made my way towards my bedroom, I checked the bathroom shelves for signs of Panache. My mum, it seemed, had switched to something named "Fiji" (which may not had has the same ring: "have you smelled your mum's fiji?") - but, after a bit of searching, I did manage to unearth Little Paschy, still there, and still unopened.

And as I lay in bed that night, I fervently thanked God that I'd conveniently forgotten to confirm that my mum had a Big Panache.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows (of kink)...

I didn't really want to go to work this morning, but the sun smiling down upon London made waiting for the bus more bearable (after I'd found a tree to shade under, anyway); with the promise of exciting things later like "shopping" and "cuddles" and the cheeky memory of having brought my girlfriend to orgasm last night with my fingers and the fact that I got paid this morning left me feeling quite chipper.

If you forget about the EU referendum. I've spent years talking about how a Brexit is completely unworkable and counter-intuitive to a more peaceful world and some people are still going to vote for it. So let's not talk about that.

My faith in humankind was restored, to a point, when Pandora Blake tweeted a link to show that her outlawed BD/SM website, Dreams of Spanking, is... well... no longer outlawed. (Here's a post on her blog which explains why; although, if you're reading this, you probably already know it all. Come back in a year and this'll be a valuable history lesson.) While spanking isn't really my thing, and there's still a multitude of problems with the ATVOD Ofcom regulations, this is still a significant victory for free speech. And porn. It certainly made my day.

How to explain to my clients why I was smiling so broadly was a little more difficult.

"Well, I've got a friend who runs a... well, she runs a... business, and the British government decided to shut it down."
"Why did they do that?"
"Well, it's very complicated, but anyway, I just got the news, er, she tweeted about it..."

[Nobody here asked what the word "tweeted" meant.]
"...and that's not the case any more, so she can start her... business... back up. We're all very pleased about it."
"Oh! Tell her that's great news for local businesses!"
"Er, yeah, I will, thanks."

I was hard-pressed not to mention the fact that I've been stood behind a camera watching said local business owner thwacking my girlfriend's behind with a cane. Or that she recently made a film in a hotel room featuring two fellow bloggers planned on the spur of the moment. Or, indeed, that I stayed up to watch her talking about porn on Newsnight. I'd cheerily admit to any of these things, but not to my clients, and certainly not within earshot of my boss, who votes Tory and doesn't know what "LGBTQIA+" stands for (but is still voting Remain on the 23rd, to my relief).

It was later on, while browsing Twitter and pretending to work, that I noticed Laura Jenkins of Candy Girl Pass has also won an appeal against Ofcom, and let out a little laugh.

All my clients looked at me at the same time.

"...another business just got re-opened?" I ventured. 

At this point, I felt less like continuing to work and more like going out into the park next door, walking a few miles in a circle to burn off ALL THE FEELINGS, and possibly sing Don't Stop Believin' while using the exercise bike they installed before the Olympics. Or just go home, do the shopping, have a cup of tea and then finger my girlfriend to orgasm again. Anything, basically, before I managed to mention that I'd just spent the better part of two hours thinking about how much I support the production and distribution of pornography.

"Okay... onwards," I eventually head myself saying, as I fired up my USB stick to find the data I needed. Which, of course, I found... once I'd scrolled past all the porn first.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Boy with the good hair

Once, in the ghostland period between university and proper adulthood (I am possibly still in that ghostland), I was an active member of a community full of beautiful people.

That was actually part of the remit for membership of the community; you needed to be physically attractive. How the bloody hellfire I managed to get in can only really be conjectural at this point, but they also judged verbal dexterity and wit (so I repeat my previous statement). I worked incredibly hard on my application, rewrote it several times, and asked for a new digital camera for Christmas specifically in order to take pictures.

Despite walls of text and several shots of me looking like a rejected model in a hideous light blue shirt, I got in. When I joined, halfway through my final year, the community was in a slump; a boom happened shortly afterwards, followed by a redesign. I weathered it through the storm of changes, and it soon became a kind of home for me - a group of people who didn't necessarily have to be likeminded, but (as it turned out) were. Having left behind another community (due to age; you wouldn't go to the events past 21), I needed another one to embrace, and this was it.

One of the questions I was asked a few times, and I asked it myself almost once a week, was "how exactly do you justify the existence of a community like this?" It seems like a terrible idea: élitism taken to its logical conclusion, all accepted members given permission to vote other members out or reject potential applicants with the click of a button. I was, for a period of time, a moderator and it was my job to have the final say of "accepted" or "rejected", going by what the majority vote was. I remember voting yes because somebody was attractive; unlike the other members, I never called anyone fat, or ugly, or stupid. I tried to use good judgement and be more humane than this system called for. I'd like to think a good job.

I was, however, aware that I was part of an élitist, judgemental group and that this did not gel with my inclusive ideals at all.

Why, then, did the community appeal? I think that, originally, it was the "challenge" aspect that got to me the most. I stumbled across it, by accident, while looking for sex blogs (would you believe...?) and was both fascinated and repulsed by their application process. I applied to see if I had any chance at all. As it turned out, of course, most of the other members had joined for this reason as well; some had even signed up as a joke to shed light on seemingly snobbish, exclusivist behaviour and got accepted anyway.

Over time, I became less nervous and began to participate more. I joined in discussions. I voted. I posted. I promoted. I even took more pictures of myself to share with the community, something I'd never usually do. And I got to know other members more, eventually counting them as friends. For a time, being in the community was my safe haven: my go-to. My secret world.

Being, as it was, full of incredibly attractive people, the slightly vacuous part of my brain was thrilled as my inclusion. I've never thought of myself as physically attractive, but here I was, posting pictures of myself and being called handsome, even when dressed up in my auntie's old bridesmaid costume or while cradling my cat in my arms. I even posted a picture of myself crying once when I was having one of my "moments", and was comforted. In a way - a very real way - writing my posts, doing my pictures and reading other people's made me feel more attractive - both physically and personality-wise - than I'd ever been.

So that's why I stayed. Confidence. I've rarely ever felt confident. Here, surrounded by gorgeous people with brains and flair, I felt that spark that I've never felt anywhere else... except, perhaps, within the sex blogger community.

Eventually, for whatever reason, the community fizzled out. Some people left, some vanished, and the general deprecation of the social networking site we used to administrate it didn't help. The final post, officially, was by me, announcing that we were closed for maintenance. As for the woman who started it in the first place... she had long since vanished.

Every now and again, I am hit by a wave of nostalgia, and visit; many of the old posts are still active, and all of mine certainly are. I no longer feel the pull that I used to, but I do realise, in my head, that it was there. I don't feel drawn to the community, but I do think it.

It's strange, perhaps, to feel so fond about a group of people who were so selective about membership for the simple reason that one of them told me that I had nice hair in my application post. And that, even though it's long since dead, I've never considered it since my final post as anything but dormant. Why I feel this way, I can't really explain... élitism aside, however, were there ever any sign of movement that I picked up on - and if I were offered the chance to participate once more - I'd gladly take hold of the baton... and run with it once more.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Go West, Young ILB

I've only ever been to Exeter once, and I was convinced, back then, that it was a highly sexed-up place.

Maybe I'm wrong. I have genuinely only been there once. I've done the surrounding places - Bristol, of course, more than once (and I went there before the first Eroticon, too, twice, SO THERE!). I've done Bath numerous times, and even had a bath in Bath, which is less meta than it sounds. I've been further west, too - as far as Land's End. For some reason, however, Exeter just seems to pass me by.

Why am I mentioning it? Well, it came up in conversation the other day. My mother spent some time in Exeter in her youth, and insisted upon showing me bits of it (Exeter, not her youth) when we went there. I was about 13, obsessed with Warhammer and Super Mario 64 and other things; I wasn't particularly interested in lampposts that used to go off if you kicked them at the right point.

I was, however, more interested in the "candy condoms" box that somebody had dropped into the gutter. I'd never, of course, really bothered to find out what a flavoured condom did - I assumed it was like something Willy Wonka may have invented: you put the condom on, had sex and somehow managed to generate a taste in your mouth because of enzymes or chemicals or I know not what. (Nobody had bothered to tell me, so I didn't know).

I was also interested - very interested - in the condom machine in the motorway service station at which we stopped en route to Exeter (via Bath) on the outbound journey (the actual destination was Cornwall). It, too, sold flavoured condoms: minty ones called "After Elevens" (ho, ho) and other flavours given frothy names. I seem to recall spotting a hearty beef and potato one, but that may have just been my imagination.

Then there was the sign in the bathroom in the hostel we stayed in. "Please," it read. "No tampons, STs etc. down this loo. Put into bin." Followed by "please" again, just to make sure.

I hadn't been told what a tampon was - I wasn't even told when I did sex education in the following year, because I was a boy and didn't need to know, or something. I had a vague idea, but assumed it was something to do with sex. As for the mysterious "ST" - well, I had absolutely no clue. My brain got around, somehow, to assuming that an ST was a brand of condom, and that randy guests had taken to flushing them away, necessitating the neatly hand-written sign.

All this in a hostel run by a nice Quaker family. I just wanted to talk about millipedes and how not all cheese is vegetarian, and yet here I was, being constantly reminded of the existence of sex by the remnants littered all over Exeter. I was still a bit weird about sex then, trying to forget all about it, worried that I was some sort of deviant because I'd started to get erections and had sex dreams and stuff. But I couldn't let it go. Exeter just had to remind me.

Maybe that's why I've never been back. I just couldn't stand all the filth.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Soft Porn Sunday: Valerie Baber & Luke Anthony

Despite the things I love about soft porn (and I do love soft porn; despite any indications to the contrary, I really do!), there are problems with it - as there are with any porn, or any form of media. While I prefer it over mass-produced porn for many reasons, one problem that persists with soft porn is that it can be incredibly sexist.

Yeah, porn can be sexist. Someone call the media.

In softcore, it works both ways. Stories with male protagonists often objectify men by showing them as brainless, but loveable, adventure types with muscles that could be used as a washboard, and women as feisty but ultimately submissive, with a strong knowledge of blowjobs involving hair and thighs that could double as a nutcracker. Those with female protagonists often take the latter and make them more savvy, more self-assured and witty, reducing men to the role of wiser older guy, comic foil, fish-out-of-water-with-whom-to-have-sex or villain.

Whichever way you have it, at least one gender ends up slightly belittled, and shows that have it either way (Bedtime Stories and Co-Ed Confidential leap to mind; I genuinely can't think of any others) are rare. Add that to the fact that you get very little LGBTQIA+ representation (every single female character being bisexual probably doesn't count...) and there's something of an ethical pickle one can get into when talking about this sort of thing.

Which is what I'm doing.

Among the softcore pantheon that does the thing in a slightly more inclusive way is the Emmanuelle series, although in many cases it also tends to mess up. The original Emmanuelle series has its moments, but I think the male characters are too strong. Emmanuelle 2000 has plenty of admirable female protagonists, but all the men are stupid (even in Emmanuelle Pie, in which the narrator is a young guy); one wonders why anyone at all would want to have sex with them. In fact, the ones with most balance tend to be Emmanuelle in Space (where they're aliens, so their brainlessness is justified and adorable) and Emmanuelle Through Time (which is a comedy). Mostly, though, for a feminist series (feminist insofar as the main character is an independent, hedonistic female - it doesn't go any further than that), there isn't a lot of equality in Emmanuelle, mostly at the expense of men, who are often seen once, have sex and then never spoken of again.

Or get turned into vampires.

Appearance: Emmanuelle vs. Dracula (2004)
Characters: Jennifer & Bruce

This is the first of two Emmanuelle films featuring vampires (the other is Sexy Bite, which comes later, although they are both by the same writer). This is from the lower-budget end of the scale - Emmanuelle's Private Collection - and it's... well, it's not good. It's not the worst, but it's... not... good. It's not even fun - well, some bits are, but very few. It doesn't even have the weird snake goddess from the previous film in the series.

But, yeah, vampires.

He's a vampire.
So. This scene takes place quite late in the film. There isn't a lot of sex in the first half; there's a plot, of sorts: Emmanuelle (Natasja "there's a paycheque in this somewhere" Vermeer) is attending the hen night of her best friend Lucy (Mollie "how did I end up in this film" Green). While the rest of the friends - Mary, Susan and Jennifer - bicker and laugh at inopportune moments, savvy (and suddenly psychic! WTF?!) Emmanuelle manages to notice that Ernesto Perdomo's character - "Robertson", allegedly a stripper, although real strippers turn up later - is in fact a vampire, and proceeds to do absolutely nothing about it, even when he manages to turn Lucy, Mary, Susan and Jennifer into vampires - and even then she has to have sex with Dracula (who turns up at the end) before staking him through the heart!

What is this, True Blood?

For an Emmanuelle film, there really is a lack of simulated penetrative sex in this one. There's a fair amount of nudity; some odd fashback bits; there's even attempted lesbian fumbling. But, in terms of full sex scenes, there are two.

Red like blood! Blood for the vampire!
Jennifer's sex scene with Bruce takes its time to manifest. She leaves the living room with Bruce (who's an actual male stripper, although he's a man, so he's been turned by this point) at 48:21, despite Emmanuelle's warnings, which don't quite amount to "he's probably a vampire!". At 49: 23, they eventually find their way to a bed, at which point Jennifer says, "if I'd have known this was what private dancers were like I'd have started ordering them a long time ago!" - probably the best line in the movie. There's some disrobing behind a lace curtain and kissing with FANGS ON SHOW (because he's a vampire), plus some occasional boobs for him to caress (and suck on, because he's a vampire), but it's not until 51:39 that we actually get the start of the scene.

That's three minutes and a half before the sex starts. Shocking.

Once it gets going, though, it's actually okay. Jennifer has an odd, but kind of sultry, voice while Bruce is a vampire. There's more kissing and showing off but, quite soon after that, something approaching sex happens, Bruce lying on top of Jennifer with her legs wrapped around his hips (a good indicator). While it is true that we don't get to see a lot apart from their top halves - sex for the YouTube generation! - he eventually kisses down her chest, giving us some boob shots, and by 56:19 he's happily thrusting away, Jennifer making some nice sex noises incorporating giggles, moans and the sound you make when you're clearing your throat.

Make the most of it; you won't see any more than this.

From that point in, it intensifies. We got some full-body shots of the two of them, more vocalisations from Jennifer (nothing from Bruce, though, because he's a vampire) and even a couple of staccato pushes-forward on his part accompanied by a strangled cry from Jennifer - very nicely done! This is followed by a jumple of mix shots of limbs and other body parts, overlaid by a "generic sex noises" soundtrack. It ends at 57:49, where - SPOILER although not really a spoiler - he bites her and she gets turned into a vampire.

Because he's a vampire.

48:21 to 57:49. Nine-and-a-half-minute sex scene? Have my prayers been answered?

Boo! Er... boobs.
Well, no, because he's a vampire, and vampires don't answer prayers. The entire sex scene here is intercut with temporary vistas of what's happening to the other girls. Lucy, who's a vampire, is attempting to turn Emmanuelle; Susan is being caressed randomly by the other stripper, who's also a vampire, and Mary is having sex with Robertson, who - as I may have established - is a vampire. I'm focusing on Jennifer here for the simple reason that she's hot, and the fact that Baber is attempting something approaching acting makes me a little more invested in her storyline than that of the dreamlike Emmanuelle or glam-rock outcast Robertson.

There really isn't much more to this. Everyone becomes a vampire, Emmanuelle kills Robertson, at which point Dracula rocks up; Emmanuelle has sex with Dracula, and then kills him; everyone turns back into a human and nobody remembers a thing.

At which point Bobby comes out of the shower talking about how terrible a nightmare he had.

While Valerie Baber is very attractive and Luke Anthony is a vampire, I do honestly think they could have done more with their sex scene than have them behind a veil and intercut with other, less appealing, sex scenes. The music that accompanies Jennifer's squeaks and moans is straight out of an 80s video game: repetitive, good background noise but with nothing to really recommend it. You genuinely can't see much, which is frustrating, because there is a lot to be said for the hot peripheral character without clothes on. Short though it may be without all the cutaways, I'd much prefer to see a full sex scene with one character followed by another one with another character. This is just annoying!

So is this a scene I'd recommend? Well, I kind of would, were it not for the rest of the film that's wrapped around it. It is, however, perhaps the best sex scene featuring vampires in the Emmanuelle canon (that's a more impressive statement than it sounds...), so it has that to its credit. And, after all, by 2004 Emmanuelle's done everything else. Dracula was probably next on an ever-diminishing list.

Bruce is a vampire.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

#EroticonLive: Why Not?

"Why?"

I blinked, astonished. I can't, honestly, remember anyone ever asking me that. I do, usually, hear "yes!" or "fine!" or "thank you, God!" - "why?" generally isn't the first piece of vocabulary that comes to the fore.

"Because..." I started. "Because... well..."

But then, of course, without a "why", there can be no "because". I didn't have the answer... and that's what scared me.

I always had the answers.

I tensed, glanced away. He shuffled, maybe uncomfortably, waiting for an answer to his "why". A frantic recce, on my part, of the surroundings. Anything to latch onto? Something to come to my aid?

Scrabbling in my pockets, my hand suddenly closed around the cold metal of the Impulse I held in my jacket.

I stopped, looked him in the eyes, breathed in, and came back with:

"Why not?"

Flash fiction, prompted by and written at Jillian Boyd's session at Eroticon Live! 2016. Say hi again to Louise, everyone!

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

#EroticonLive: Rhyme

I'm not sure if these will work as well written out as they do when read aloud. But, then again, I'm not sure if they work well at all, so that first point isn't really particularly relevant. Great start, ILB. Well done.

Anyway, this was one of my favourite sessions at Eroticon this year. Whether or not that's because I spent half of my time channeling my inner Roger McGough and the other half trying to find some way to mentally bleach my brain so that I could unsee some of the things Ashley Lister was showing us on the screen, who can say?

Anyway, so yeah, I wrote a few (very) short poems. (I can't write long form poetry; I haven't since I was 15 and wrote all that love poetry for the girl in the swimming class with me. Ahem.) I didn't read them all out, so here they are in all their gory glory.

Couplets:
I thought, perchance, I'd never wake
But after shout and shoot and shake
The post-orgasmic pressing issues
Woke me up... to look for tissues.

Triplet:
There is some arse I'd like to tap
But first, I think, I must unwrap
(it's wise, and safe, to wear a cap).

Quatrain 1:
Lube me up and rub me down!
Caress my penis, nips and bum!
Take me to the brink of bliss! 
But for God's sake, this time, let me come!

Quatrain 2:
I don't know if you read
But, if anyone's caring,
My body has needs
And my blog is for sharing.

Prompted by, and written at, Ashley Lister's session at Eroticon Live! 2016. But, then again, I already said that in the introduction to this post. Great ending, ILB. Well done.