Day 2 of Eroticon was full of thrills, spills and a squeezable pontiff. Here's the lowdown on the sessions I attended.
The Anthologies Panel with Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Lucy Felthouse and Victoria Blisse
A great opener to the second day, this panel was essentially formed as a Q&A session with four seasoned anthology editors - the sort of thing that Eroticon's made for, really! Even though I wouldn't define myself as an erotica writer - there's barely a whiff from me on that front in any case - and I'm not the sort of person to go for every anthology under the sun, I took loads of notes in the hope that they'd be Useful, someday, in a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances.
It's good to be told some things that I wouldn't have thought editors would say - word counts can be a little flexible with regards to quality, Twitter is useful for getting ideas to snowball, and that there's no magic formula for the running order of stories in an anthology. Although, as was said by the panel, start with one of the best and end with a bang. Just like a sandwich, really.
Porn Challenge with Justin Hancock
I've read this dude's sex education website, bishuk.com, via a link on Girl on the Net's website, so I was pleased to meet the hairy, bespectacled face behind it. After a quick discussion with Points Being Made - the one I made being that porn can be inclusive, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is - we split into groups and had a thwank* about how to create an inclusive bit of porn. My group flustered a bit, but came up with some good ideas; we just didn't formulate much on paper. When it came to speak, I drew all the ideas together into something cohesive.
I really liked this session, as well. All the groups came up with good ideas, and it was especially interactive - a good reward for those who had stayed on to Day 2, to take part in something creative...
(*thwank = think-wank. It's a thing now.)
Storytelling & Sex with Justin Hancock, Emily Dubberley and Alison Robert from Brook
...which leads into this one quite nicely. Another panel discussion, although less of the focus was on questions and answers, with more discussion about integrating safe-sex practices in erotica, making it "safer" for everyone (to my shame, non-entry sex - inclusive of softcore - makes little to no references to birth control whatsoever), and opportunities to introduce this sort of stuff (including "Meta!", a meme which I wrote down but have yet to remember why!).
The second half of the session focused on including pleasure in sex education, which Alison Robert got her teeth into. After some horror stories (and some more positive ones) from the audience, both challenges and opportunities were mentioned - with me making the point that taking a stand is very important, even if means you're automatically gay. Long story.
This was a good one too, a real community-based session, and it was good to quickly catch up with Emily Dubberley, who I seem to be bumping into on an annual basis.
Finessing Sex with KD Grace
This is the one that everyone's raving about, and for good reason. Although not everyone apprecoated being thrown into having to write a scene of erotica with ten minutes to do so, I was really up for it at that moment (although that was pure luck, as I'd have had no idea had I not been in the mood!). The five steps that we went through were something like:
(i) Creating characters
(ii) Causing some chaos
(iii) Choosing a pair
(iv) Create the photoshoot
(v) Write it!
I don't like having to follow strict guidelines, but once we'd planned the scenes like this, I found it somewhat easier to write that I would have otherwise. Almost unnaturally pleased with what I'd written, I volunteered to read mine out (as it doesn't really hold up on a page as well as it does out loud - as with nearly everything I write). I got laughter and applause, and that's about the best I could hope for. I'd like to read some more of the scenes that were written, too.
Mine will be up on this blog tomorrow. No more fiction after that, I promise.
Sex & The Media with Zoe Margolis and Nichi Hodgson
As everyone who has reviewed this ever has said, last year's Sex & The Media panel was so good that this was almost necessary attendance, and that's my viewpoint too. However, I didn't think it was as bad as some people (no naming names) made it out to be. It's true that it wasn't as good as last year's, but with a smaller panel (well, panel's not really the word... pair, maybe), you're bound not to get the same sort of discussion. Still, it was a good pair. Zoe - erudite as ever - and Nichi (an unknown quantity to me, but pleasantly smart once she got going) made a good job of answering the questions as best they could, and it can't be too easy to deal with such a ravenous audience.
The one thing I would say is that a lot of the responses were quite negative - not without good reason, mind you. Blacksilk's question about how much things have changed since last year's Eroticon highlighted how little change there has been - especially in the UK, despite the 50 Shades phenomenon.
But, having said that, I think that if there's going to be a change in attitudes towards erotica it will be gradual, and that it may be a little overoptimistic to expect anything big to happen in one year... although I suppose that is the point!
That was the end of the sessions overall. The closing plenary failed to excite me, although maybe that's just me. I think I was suffering from overtiredness by that point, and I'm completely unaware of makelovenotporn.com - Jilly had to explain to me what it was - also, although Cindy Gallop had the head screwed on, I did wonder why she placed such an emphasis on everyone making lots of money from erotic writing - I don't want to make lots of money, myself! However, I was happy at the mention of sexting and the ending phrase: "don't let the bastards get you down." Yes, very wise indeed.
Ruby's closing was classically hilarious. Books were handed out, there were some sniggers about people who had left by then and I won a prize completely at random, although when I got up to claim it I managed to trip over two chairs - after which I gave myself an ironic bow and earned some more applause. I'm such a whore.
All in all, a splendid second day. I enjoyed it even more than the first, I think, on balance. Fallout happened when I went with Jilly, Blacksilk and Emma for a drink in Waterloo Station afterwards and we chatted about the events of the weekend. It's the kind of event where everybody gets something out of it - whether inspiration, excitement, new friends or just something to do - and for that, I am eternally grateful.