So this time last year, on Super bowl weekend, I’d been pretty much swinging from the chandeliers at a dominatrix dungeon. This year, the dominatrix was out of town so I thought I’d go to an event that billed itself as a “Sex Book Festival.” It turned out to be quite an earnest San Francisco experience in a bookshop ( a very cool book shop called Adobe in the Mission district) with a panel of women discussing the state of the sex nation. Carol Queen who is the sex cheer leader in this town and who is “staff sexologist” at the famous feminist sex toy store, Good Vibrations, led the panel by saying that she thinks people in the media are less negative about sex now. “In the past, if you wanted to talk about sex you had to be a little negative around the edges. I think that’s changing now.” I’m not sure about that. My friend at the Times in London says that they’re always looking for sex stories but that they can’t be too “icky.” It felt like a very San Francisco panel with one trans man using the phrase “hetero-normative paradigms,” and another woman announcing that her 9 to 5 job was “de-shaming pleasure.” Sounds like a useful job. When the part about sex tips arrived, one charismatic disabled black woman panel member said, “people need to remember that sex is not just about your genitals,” which is a very good point. Someone from the audience asked, “What can you do if you have only 30 seconds to improve your sex life?” And the answer was, “Focus on your breath. Feel the breath in your touch.”
And then suddenly we were back in the 1960s when another of San Francisco’s “are they/aren’t they a bum?” people walked into the book store and made his way to an empty chair on the panel. He didn’t have any advice to offer on good new ways of having sex. Instead, the panel leader generously let him recite some, what he called “Beatnik poetry”. I can’t remember it all now but the last line was “Don’t panic. Keep it Organic.”
Here he is.
The panel discussion ended with the good point that people who keep pleasure in their lives look after themselves better than people who don’t. Then the evening’s MC came on, Polly Whittaker a.k.a Polly Superstar. She did a reading from her racy new memoir about her sexual awakening in San Francisco, “Polly – Sex Culture Revolutionary.” A serious sex-positive crusader, Polly runs the Kinky Salon sex club here which caters to the more white collar, Burning Man demographic. It’s more like a cabaret club night where you can have sex in front of your friends if you feel like it.
I chatted to her for a bit and then went in search of a back room. There wasn’t a back room as such but I did have to luck to bump into Annie Sprinkle’s protégé, Madison Young who was selling, guess what: anus prints!
Here is Madison with one of her prints. I think it’s a broken heart with a bum hole. It looks kind of ethereal, no?
Annie says that her pictures won’t sell unless the nipples come out well, and Madison agreed that you have to get the anus to come out well. It’s not easy, “You have to pucker your cheeks open,” she confided. Madison is also putting on a show this coming Valentine’s weekend (given that San Francisco is the clitoris is America, Valentine’s weekend is gold rush time) called “Reveal All Fear Nothing,” although she joked that it’s become known unofficially as “The Anal Fisting Play” because this is one of the things she will be doing on stage. The play is an anal-centric reworking of one of Annie Sprinkle’s famous shows. It will take place in the San Francisco Armory, a real Fifty Shades venue where the world’s largest kink sex company is based. I can’t wait.