Silvia at the Act II Playhouse in Ambler; polyamory? beastiality?

This play was so well received it has been extended till October 9th. All about mid-life crises in the form of polyamory and beastiality, although those words are never mentioned. Trailer -

X-Rated Ethics: Sustainable Sex Industry – prostitution/sex workers

A valid argument for the legalization of prostitution.

X-Rated Ethics

September-October 2011

by Anna Simpson, from Green Futures.

Charlotte gently closes the door and slips into the adjoining room, where her colleagues are having a laugh over a cup of coffee. She flicks on her phone and scans her account. All the tabs are green: earnings high, health risks low, working hours reasonable, carbon footprint tiny, client feedback off the scale. . . . All that’s left for her to do is rate her own well-being. She thinks of the baths, massages, and caresses she’s given that week; the sweet, serene expressions breaking through from behind weary frowns—and gives herself a discreet pat on the back: She’s a do-gooder, and it makes her feel great.

It’s a far cry from the view most people have of sex work. According to the more familiar narrative, it is the industry that dare not speak its name, consigned to dark streets and seedy districts; rarely regulated, often criminalized. Women of low means and lower self-esteem shrink under its stigma. Their clients are aggressive and abusive, and they’re desperate for a way out. Any job would be better, wouldn’t it?

There’s certainly an ugly side to the sex industry. Exploitation and trafficking play a part—but the common assumption that sex work is inherently dangerous or degrading can, with bitter irony, actually make life harder for those involved. In November 2010, The Economist, citing a report by Human Rights Watch, warned that international laws designed to suppress human trafficking and sexual exploitation—leading to the closure of bars and brothels—have “helped the police to beat, rob, and rape sex workers with impunity.” The magazine asserted: “Most migrant sex workers have left home for good reasons of their own—among them a desire to work away from their families, and to earn more money.” Catherine Stephens of the International Union of Sex Workers agrees. “It’s not only inaccurate to suggest that the majority of sex workers do not choose their profession,” she argues: “it’s patronizing and disempowering.”

According to stereotypes, men who pay for sex are on a power trip. But in the vast majority of cases, says Belinda Brooks-Gordon, author of The Price of Sex: Prostitution, Policy and Society, the reality is very different. For many johns, “mutuality is part of the attraction. . . . Sex workers [actually] get bored by constant interrogation [from clients] about their well-being.”

Meanwhile, the public mood toward prostitution appears to be shifting. A recent BBC poll found 71 percent in favor of greater social acceptance; an online CNBC poll found 85 percent in favor of decriminalization.

Individuals selling sex to others is, of course, just a small part of the sex economy. Far from being underground or taboo, many aspects are legal, even glorified (think high-class courtesans or beautifully crafted lingerie). It’s a trillion-dollar cross-sector industry spanning live entertainment, pornography, pharmaceutical products, clothes, and accessories. And, as hackneyed clichés about the “oldest profession” remind us, it’s been here forever.

It’s certainly proved almost impossible to regulate out of existence. Though that hasn’t stopped us trying. Laws against selling sex litter the statute books of almost every country through the ages. There have been countless endeavors to keep erotica out of sight—from the Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum, to the prosecution of Penguin for publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960, to the X rating for sexually explicit films.

With the Internet, global access to porn has rocketed. A quick Google search cuts out the need for embarrassing trips to the pharmacist, sex shop, or red light district, and it’s easier than ever to find sex for sale. Demand remains stubbornly high, despite the best educational efforts of everyone from Christian fundamentalists to feminist activists. Like it or not, this is an industry that’s here to stay.

Attempts at regulating it, from licensed brothels to “toleration zones,” have proven patchy at best. The most effective framework, says Stephens, is New Zealand’s—precisely because it’s extremely light. But, as we know, regulation isn’t the only way to make things better. The whole basis of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is that businesses don’t need laws to make them behave. For the most part, they want to have sustainable supply chains and minimal environmental and social impact because it makes business sense, and it’s what their customers want.

Recent years have seen huge improvements in the way we consume food, fashion, and travel—partly thanks to positive engagement from sustainability professionals. But, as Solitaire Townsend, chair of the sustainable communications consultancy Futerra, puts it: “Whenever people talk about sex, they seem to forget what they know about sustainability.”

It’s a theme echoed by Sally Uren, deputy director of the UK sustainable-development organization Forum for the Future. “Even some unsavory sectors, from arms to tobacco, have been given the CSR treatment,” she says, “but the sex industry has slipped under the sustainability radar. Yet, guns and smoking kill. If we can have sustainable bullets, surely there can be sustainable sex!” So why isn’t there? Is it because we’re embarrassed by it? Is it because we feel we have nothing to add? More likely, it’s that we have difficulty imagining what a sustainable sex industry would look like—or have never even tried. So let’s have a go . . .

Feel like watching the latest fair trade–certified porn film? The actors all enjoy decent pay, health insurance, and pensions. The carbon impact of the set lighting and actors’ travel is offset through investment in clean, efficient cookstoves sold at affordable prices to women in rural Africa.

Perhaps you’d prefer an ethical lap dance? You can be sure the performers are all willing and well paid: Their employer has been approved by Care and Consent, the highly reputable international certification body for ethical sex. You tip generously, knowing that 50 percent of the profits go to the local women’s community center.

Or, maybe best of all, you opt for an evening in with your sweetheart. You’ve got everything you need: condoms made from rubber tapped sustainably in Brazil, hand-carved sex toys certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and delicious fair trade dark chocolate body paint.

Tempted? You’re not alone. Brooks-Gordon’s research has convinced her that there is huge latent demand for an ethical sex industry. Not only do most clients want to feel wanted, she says; many would be relieved to know that the sex workers starring in their favorite porn film, dancing onstage at their club, or available through their escort agency are there by consent, are paid a decent wage, and have access to services that promote health and welfare. Potentially, she says, it offers a pretty progressive working model: “Self-employment, flexible working hours, the option of working from home—what more could you want?”

It all begins to sound rather obvious. We already have organic food, low-carbon transportation, fair trade clothes, and renewable energy. Why not apply the same logic to all basic human needs and desires? Is there really any fundamental moral difference between paying for food in a restaurant and paying for sex, freely sold?

Of course, engaging with this particular sector isn’t as simple as a board-level partnership with a corporation. We can’t call up the World’s Chief Pimp and ask for a meeting. But, in many instances, the same broad principles can apply, says Sally Uren: “A sustainability framework would allow an honest evaluation of social, environmental, and economic impacts, and perhaps find new ways of tackling old issues.”

So if we shake off the stigma of selling—and buying—sex, how does it rate in sustainability terms? Sara Parkin, founder-director of Forum for the Future, suggests a “five capitals” analysis of the natural, social, financial, manufactured, and human value of sex. What would that look like?

As far as natural capital is concerned, sex is an admirably low-carbon, low-impact activity. On the social side, our desire for intimacy is so great—and mental and physical closeness so good for us—that some argue sex should be regarded as a human right. Tuppy Owens, chair of the Sexual Freedom Coalition, cites countless instances in which disabled people have benefited from sexual services—from a stroke survivor left unable to speak who is in need of close nonverbal companionship to a tetraplegic man enjoying a sensual head massage from a tantric specialist.

In manufactured capital, Parkin playfully points out, the heat generated by sex can help keep the electric blankets turned off, reducing our energy usage. And sex products, from online porn to toys and clothes, all lend themselves to thoroughly sustainable production (and consumption) methods.

As for finance, Catherine Stephens argues that one great benefit of the sex industry is that it “puts money in women’s pockets.” It arguably puts money in the pockets of lots of men too—but some of this could be channeled to meet other needs. Take the Berlin-based nonprofit group Fuck for Forest, which sells access to erotic photos and films—all made by unpaid volunteers and fans—and donates virtually all the proceeds to conservation. Since 2004 it has raised more than $300,000 for a range of causes, notably rainforest protection projects in Ecuador and Brazil.

And when it comes to human capital, it’s hard to imagine an industry meeting a more universal, basic human need—or at least desire.

We might conclude that sex is, potentially, eminently sustainable. And yet, “CSR professionals aren’t exactly queuing up to work in one of the biggest industries on the planet,” says Townsend. Part of the problem is that the criminalization of organized prostitution makes it impossible to set up the necessary mechanisms for traceability and accountability—something of a catch-22. But, Townsend argues, we could start by engaging with mainstream porn. “I’d love to see integrated environmental reporting by a porn company,” she says.

Sam Roddick, founder of London’s high-end sex shop Coco de Mer, agrees. “The porn industry has to be challenged,” he says. “It’s so formulaic, it’s not even funny. We need to challenge its content, distribution channels, and monopolies. We need to make sure that those who create new content are abiding by laws, and are traceable. Everyone needs clear and good boundaries within which to work.”

This is one sector in which consumers have more influence over the supply chain than they sometimes care to admit. As long as people are prepared to pay for erotica, there is a degree of accountability that can be leveraged. Certification schemes—monitoring anything from condom use to consent—are viable as long as people pay to peep. Buying the right sort of porn, as opposed to downloading it for free, could even become an act of solidarity. There are no shortages of parallels here with the music industry’s faltering embrace of an online model.

Meanwhile, it’s not just about making the best of a bad egg. Porn is perhaps the most effective vehicle out there when it comes to promoting safe sex. As Anne Philpott, founder of the Pleasure Project sexual health campaign, puts it: “We have to put ‘sexy’ back into sex education.”

Which is where, in theory, the government might come in. Sam Roddick thinks it’s about time it did. “We need to challenge the government to support [sex workers] with the same mechanisms that any industry has: health care, pensions, and so on. It’s really basic stuff, but it would legitimize the business, first of all, and then we could challenge it.”

For escort Syon Khan, it’s a simple quid pro quo. “I pay income tax on the sex work I do,” she says, “so I should be entitled to the same benefits as any other tax-paying professional.” Politicians seeking election, however, do everything they can to avoid any mention of sex.

So why is the sex industry so difficult to discuss? Why do so many in the sustainability world feel they would be tarnished by association? Some cite the subordination of women, others the 21st century’s weird mix of prurience and prudery. The Judeo-Christian notion that sex is only for procreation also comes into play. Some civilizations, like Japan, don’t share the same anxieties. In Japanese art, prostitutes are depicted with as much dignity as aristocrats. Take Kitagawa Utamaro’s kimono-clad beauty gracefully concealing her sex with a painted fan. Now try imagining a gilt-framed portrait of an elegant whore in action on the wall of a stately suburban home.

Whatever the reasons behind it, our reluctance to engage with the sex industry is doing no one any favors. If we refuse to recognize the value that sex brings to our society, environment, and economy, we certainly can’t add anything to it.

Anna Simpson is managing editor at Green Futures. Excerpted from Green Futures (Oct. 2010), the leading British magazine on environmental solutions and sustainable futures, published by Forum for the

TONIGHT – The Erotic Literary Salon – Live; kd Grace Blog Erotic Authors Assoc. Conference

Tonight, members of Shijin, a CT. poetry performance troupe will be featured presenters at the Erotic Literary Salon – live, in Philadelphia. Come early for a good seat.

The following account of the Erotic Authors Assoc. Conference I attended recently, was posted on K.D. Grace’s blog.

Friday morning, I arrive at registration for the Erotic Authors Association Conference to find Nan Andrews, DL King and Kathleen Bradean working the table. I’m in awe. My heroes are giving me a swag bag and a name tag! If that’s not enough, my name tag has a red ribbon that tells everyone I’m a panelist. That’s right, me. I’m a panelist!

Breakfast is a bit like Christmas morning. We’re all pawing through our goody bags when Hazel Cushion, my publisher from Xcite Books, arrives followed closely by the lovely Sharazade – at long last we meet face to face!

There’s barely time for greetings and to ask how everyone’s trip was before the publisher’s panel begins. Hazel, representing Xcite Books along with M Christian from Renaissance E Books, Brenda Knight from Cleis Press, Lori Perkins from Ravenous Romance, and Cecilia Tan from Circlet Press are all on the panel.

I take notes fast and furiously and there is no shortage of questions about ePublishing vs print as well as the future of self-publishing in the age of the eBook. Everyone agrees that in spite of all the upheaval eBooks have brought into the world of publishing and in spite of all the changes, it’s a very good time to be a writer. Now there are more possibilities than there have ever been before.

I’m on the Erotic Romance panel with Shawn Clements and Lorna Hinson from Torquere Press and Sascha Illyvich from Renaissance E Books. Talking romance, whether erotic or not, is always a chemistry lesson, and one of my favourite topics, so the hour goes fast.

As one who has a deep appreciation of the beauty and symmetry of grammar, the next session could have been tailor-made for me. I hurry off to Sexy, Sexy Grammar, taught by Jean Roberta and Sharazade. Grammar has never been so hot, nor so much fun!

For every session I attend, there are two I miss, along with a group of fabulous readings, and the readings are sizzling! I need clones of myself!

I have lunch in the darkly paneled, stained glass gloom of The Victorian Café in Bill’s Gambling Hall. What starts out as lunch with Sharazade and Katie Salidas ends up being a party when I. G. Frederick invites us to a huge round table where Jean Roberta, Jolie Du Pre, Zetta Brown, friends, partners and a totally cool waitress are all squeezed together talking promo, inspiration and lunch. It is then I realize I have fifteen minutes to finish my general’s chicken and get back to the Flamingo for my reading. Of course I’m in the middle of the big round booth, so everyone slides and I make a dash for it.

I feel a little nervous reading opposite M J Williamz, Cecilia Tan and Kate Dominic with Remittance Girl in the audience, but sex on a Harley from The Initiation of Ms Holly, I’m comfortable with, and everyone else seems to enjoy. We all end up laughing and talking after.

When the last session of the day is over, we are all invited up to Cecilia Tan’s suite for a wine, cheese, and chocolate party. Even without the wine, cheese and chocolate, who could resist a chance to chat with the fabulous Cecilia Tan! I don’t remember the wine and cheese, but I do remember being in a sun drenched pink and white sixties-style suite with the buzz of erotic writer-talk all around Cecilia Tan, who is seated on the sofa and Lori Perkins, who is standing by the door. Wow! Who needs wine?

The big event of the day is ‘One Very Steamy Las Vegas Evening’ at The Erotic Heritage Museum. Susana Mayer has brought ‘The Erotic Literary Salon’ on tour. There is an open mic and more readers than there is time for. There are at least twenty people, each with only five minutes to read. Rachel Kramer Bussel Kicks off the reading, Hazel Cushion make a rare reading appearance, Emerald, Jolie Du Pre, I. G. Frederick, Cecilia Tan, Laura Antoniou,  just to name a few, are all reading stories from the many facets of erotica.

Sadly, I didn’t know about the event in time to get signed up. Happily, in spite of a full house, enough people don’t show up that there is room for me and several others to read. Sadly,(and stupidly) I don’t have Holly with me. Happily (and smartly) Hazel is sitting next to me with a huge bag full of Xcite anthologies, one of which just happens to be Dark Desires: Love that’s Out of This World, which contains my story, ‘Flaws.’ Sadly, I’ve never practiced reading any of this story for an audience. Happily that doesn’t stop me.

In the end, I read about a sexy love spell gone awry. I do this while standing between two giant velvet draped beds and a plethora of white marble penises taller than I am. Oh yes, a good time was had by all!

Back at the Flamingo, Hazel, Sharazade, and a friend of hers, and I buy beer and peanuts at the hotel shop and find a quiet table outside the casino in the gardens next to the habitat where the flamingos stand sleeping with their heads tucked under their wings. Writerly people love to talk, and casino bars are not good places to talk. Sleeping flamingos, however, are the perfect ambiance for conversations about publishing and editing and story, and I realize that though Las Vegas wouldn’t normally be my cup of tea, a quiet table in the desert heat with other writers is certainly my bottle of beer.

The next day begins with a full house for the editor’s panel, with Miranda Forbes, D. L. King, Kelli Collins and Rachel Kramer Bussel. I attend two reading sessions, finally getting to hear the ever so hot and talented Sharazade read steamy tales of travel sex from her book, Transported: Erotic Travel Tales. I love the fabulous Blake C. Aarens’s John Malkovich fantasy and Emerald’s amazing tale of first-time rope bondage to the music of Pink Floyd is not only erotic, but moving. I find myself wishing I could attend all the readings. Listening to what other writers write, allowing myself to be pulled into their stories, is one of the best ways to learn to be a better writer. I know I can read all those stories, and that’s good too, but experiencing the tale aurally adds more depth, more sensuality to the experience.

Graydancer’s hands-on kink session is one of the highlights of the day. His basic introduction to BDSM and kink for erotica writers who want to make sure they get the kink right is invaluable. In fact, the rope bondage demo spills over into the cocktail party afterwards with the leotard-clad Sharazade volunteering to be bound, and volunteering yours truly to take photos.

As Sharazade sheds her bonds and leotard for the beads and sparkles of her evening gown, Aisling Weaver announces the party will continue over at her suite in the Cosmopolitan. She and her lovely partner even go so far as to shoo us all into a yummy stretch limo for the short, but luxurious drive to the Cosmo, where we all enjoy the views of the Bologgio Fountains and the Eifel Tower from their balcony. There are more readings from iPads and Blackberries as people come and go.

Eventually Hazel, Sharazade, Jolie, and I opt for one last photo session along the Strip, and I am once again back amid the holiday making crowds and the women in wedding gowns taking photo ops in front of the Bologgio fountains and the Saturday night revelers. We make it as far as The Venetian before the rain starts, then we hurry back to the Flamingo drenched and giggling, pushing and shoving our way through the press of people in the deluge.

Back in my room, I fall into bed and slept like the dead.

I end my adventure in Vegas over breakfast with Hazel and Sharazade back in the dark Victorian. After good-byes all around, I catch the shuttle to the airport. The Sunday morning shuttle riders are more subdued than those I arrived with three days ago, and it’s nice to stare  out the window at the city, now quiet and pale in the desert sun, and reflect on the adventure I had in Vegas, the things I learned, the new friends I made, and the intimations already being whispered about next year’s Erotic Author’s Association Conference.

“I wanna have sex” parody

This song is a humorous parody on having sex from a male perspective. Would like to see how three women would present this material.

Caution view in privacy.