Sunday, March 28, 2010

Everything & Nothing

The other night I was looking at TS porn from Asia. I always knew when a Japanese model came up on the slide show because her make-up, hair, clothes, and posture would convey that culture's sexual aesthetic of the young, innocent doe-eyed girl. This contrasted nicely with the more knowing, brazenly sexy aesthetic of many of the Thai kathoey.

When I lean heavily towards any particular preference, I notice how the others that are not in my sights can seem absolutely digusting. Yet pick another night, and my mood could be totally different, with the things that formerly seemed disgusting now making me really hot. This has made me think about how we create false dichotomies. In aesthetics, there is young vs. mature, innocent vs. knowing, blonde vs. brunette, fair vs. exotic, skinny vs. shapely, petite vs. statuesque, dominant vs. submissive, real vs. fake, down-to-earth vs. classy, femme vs. butch. Which ever ones we like, we think are "the best." Yet the longer I have played in this bounty of creation, the more I see that our own tastes can be ever changing. And thank the gods for that, for then we can taste life's many sweetnesses.

This binary thinking permeates our very belief systems and spiritual practices, where we search relentlessly for the "right" path, judging the ones we are not on as "incorrect." We over-apply our faculties of judgment, in our strenuous efforting to "get it right." Maybe Battlestar Galatica's Caprica is on to something with this monotheism vs. polytheism story line. Maybe our current paradigm limits us to seeking only one right way.

What I'm realizing more and more is that the truth lies in diversity, in all its mess, uncategorizable, contradictory. The path to strive for and protect is not any one path, but Diversity itself - this is the thing of value. Paths of peace and mutual respect, of course (and excellence works for me, but yes that is a preference). Beyond that, there is nothing that needs to be one way or another. Omnia et nihilum.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On my mind...

The one that got away... when I let the domain name lapse. At least it's being put to use now. For a while there, it was being wasted as an Amazon redirect.

An injustice that irks me... that a place like Mitchell Brothers/O'Farrell Theater can flaunt itself as a virtual legal brothel in the city while women like me who have the talent to run a kick-ass house of domination (something sorely missing from San Francisco) are too afraid to even try because of the very real threat of legal repercussions. Shouldn't such an enterprise, with its limited sensuality, be welcomed in a town where strip club handjobs are a dime a dozen? It seems like another case of male-centric double standards.

A meme that I am noticing, that I seem to have helped spread... The use of blogger as one's primary website. When I decided to downsize from my website, I found google's free hosting (and pre-set warning page) an easy way to park my images and highlight my blog using custom domain names. Now I see numerous BDSM providers on Eros doing the same. I spent way too much time managing my site before, though I admit I enjoyed obsessing over it. With grad school, I just don't have time for that kind of self indulgence!

What I'm excited about... Meeting new faces in the kink scene, exploring means of advocacy for kink and poly issues within the mental health arena, playing with old friends, getting a second wind, remembering what drew me to all of this in the first place.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Great Happiness Space & other Japanese Adventures

If you have not seen it already, I highly recommend watching the documentary about Japanese host boys called The Great Happiness Space - it's available streaming on Netflix. This film caused an important shift in my outlook, fundamentally altering how I view companion work and female/male relations. After years of sessioning as a professional dominant at The Gates, I had started to develop the all-too-common, cynical attitude towards men and the work, as well as a mindless acceptance of my own complicity in games of deception which traded false intimacy for ego strokes, gifts and money. I had begun to lump all men into the category of liars, perpetrators, and insensitive, selfish assholes. Conversely, I had begun to see myself and the other women as slighted victims of men's transgressions.

Yet this documentary helped me to see that that this dynamic is not one dictated or limited by gender. When men are the providers and women the clients - as is the case in this documentary - the same complaints surface but with the sexes flipped. In the film, veteran host boys speak in jaded tones about how their female clients are selfish and manipulative. They complain about rude things said to their face and say that the women don't feel as obligated to be polite because they are paying. One host boy said they were all liars, and that he no longer saw them as attractive women but only as money in the bank. It was amazingly eye-opening for me to hear these Japanese male companions saying the same sort of bitter complaints that I have heard come out of the mouths of female sex workers in the States. All of a sudden, I realized that the misery we had all been party to wasn't a case of biology as destiny, but really was a construct of our time and place. And that the touchy dynamics of pay-for-play is a dance of the human condition, not a battle between women as providers and men as clients.

I had an opportunity to see the host boys working the corners in Kubukicho, Tokyo last spring. Kubukicho is called a red light district but it's not like the dank and dirty places in the west, filled with shame-ridden folks and junkies with nobody making eye contact. No, Kubukicho aka "The Sleepless Town," is jammed full of hip young people, arcades, restaurants and bars, as well as the companion- and erotic-oriented venues. Even in the ordinary bars, you may pay a table fee in addition to a drink minimum, in exchange for which you are conversed with by one of the employees, male or female.

Paid company seems to be an accepted part of Japanese culture, whether erotic in connotation or not. In the crazed mega-technology district called Akihabara, we had our maid cafe experience. Here, sweet girl geeks in modest dresses with aprons and frilly hats served us on their knees. As kinky as that sounds, it was really quite innocent. Others in the cafe included a group of young people, two older women, and one lone young foreign man. We did actually find a BDSM dungeon during our foray through the city, not too far from Harajuku. We noticed a woman in full kimono escorting a man in a business suit out to a waiting car. After some time, we entered the discrete little office building where she had retreated to, and guessed that she was now behind a door that read, "Sakura," which means cherry blossoms. The building also held a graveyard-themed restaurant. We were about to leave when we noticed a beautifully wrought sign, in the style of samurai art, which depicted a ball-gagged man under the foot of a dominatrix. We rung the doorbell and a man with many facial piercings, long hair and a goatee answered. A woman in a corset in the background appeared to be getting herself out of the remnants of shibari suspension. Another corsetted woman flitted across the doorway. We were intrigued and excited. Unfortunately, our Japanese was virtually nil, as was the proprietor's English, so in the name of safety and common-sense, we called it a night, scenes from Tokyo Decadence flashing through our head.

I had already seen The Great Happiness Space, so I wasn't as perplexed as my friend when I saw the cadres of attractive young men in stylish dress clothes with big, highlighted hair flirting with Japanese women passers-by, though I was still delighted and surprised to actually see the boys in action. We passed by medium-size billboards with rows of their headshots, each one like an anime come to life. There is no corollary to this phenomenon in the west, and my friend, who hadn't seen the film, insisted that their customers must be men. Then we passed by the entrance of a club. Two giggly young women made their way down an ornate spiral staircase. At the top of the stairs, two hosts boys, looking like impeccable rockers in their designer duds, gave them the royal wave.

The full title of the documentary is The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief, but I don't really agree with the latter part of the phrase, especially because I think it skews the host boy phenomenon to fit it into a more traditional view of female-male relations, with women as passive weaklings and men as the ruthless aggressors. The film itself does not back up this view, but rather shows men and women both engaging in a range of behaviors from combative to supportive, and from affirming to unethical. If a woman familiar with the provider point of view had been behind this film, I don't think it would have the same title, nor do I think it would have been quite so negative a take on the host boy's role. Certainly, the relationship between clients and professional companions can be tainted by exploitation. Yet to tar the entire enterprise as innately without merit seems too simplistic. Similarly, while I loved the twisted scenarios which lit up the erotic classic Tokyo Decadence (the scene with the dominatrix was a pivotal early influence for me), in order to fully enjoy it, I end up having to force myself to ignore the film makers mixed messages (portrayals of seemingly liberated women engaged in kinky, tawdry sex on the one hand, portrayals of the same women as heroin addicts and lost, needy loners on the other), messages which I think reflect a need to reaffirm the traditional female-male dynamic.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Own Best Friend

Women sing and cry about not being seen or heard. Yet if that other person truly did not see you, then you were also not seeing them. For if you were, then why would you stay? At the very least, you have willingly put blinders on. We cannot cling to our sense of injustice and abuse if we allow ourselves to fully grasp this truth.

Why do patterns of dysfunction keep playing out in some people's lives? Of course, this is a complicated question. Yet at the heart of it, I think it's partly that we have memories of pleasure and connection along with the ones of trauma and dissolution. The awful truth is that love and pain are too often intertwined, and the things exposed to us at a young age become engrained within us, so that life's impetus can be a journey of undoing and remaking of oneself. To be whole again, from the fragmented pieces.

Sometimes in the course of that journey, we are drawn to that which can only lead to our undoing, the link between our deepest impulses and our self-destruction too strong a pull to deny. If we come close enough to the flame, perhaps we will learn. For some of us, it takes more than being singed - for the more we can take on, the more we seemingly must endure to learn. Somehow, life rarely pushes us far enough. So on and on, we seek the extremities of experience, for our salvation or destruction, whichever comes first. And if we manage to escape from a hell of our own making, wounded yet spirit stubbornly intact... maybe then we will have come close enough to the vast void to say our prayers of gratitude, and finally become the loving keeper of ourselves, protectors of a unique spark of creation.


Elektra is a beast, four feet long, thick, with a beautiful golden brown pattern. She is a three-year-old royal python. A slight dilemma has emerged since taking her home. She is a hunter and her appetite leans toward the living. I have not been able to wean her off her taste for live rats. In one sense, it is easier than handling a frozen one, which in its own way is creepier. Some of my friends have tried to guilt me for sacrificing living rats to my snake. None of the naysayers are vegetarian, so this argument doesn't really fly for me. Maybe it's not such a bad thing to get closer to the source, not be so detached from the experience of being a carnivore. We will see. I realize I have a soft spot for predators. Part of me wants to embrace the whole world. I am learning it is all right to want to connect and at the same time, that boundaries are very important for my own self-preservation. Immersing myself in the healing profession has helped me draw those lines, allowing me to reach out and connect while maintaining my own integrity. I am learning that connection does not necessarily have to mean baring my naked soul to everyone, that real intimacy is a gift shared with a special few, and that there is nothing wrong with taking care of myself first. As Tracy Chapman sings, "This Time, I'm gonna be my own best friend." I am still learning, thank you universe.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ch Ch Changes

I'm a science junkie and read New Scientist every week as well as the science section of The Economist and the comic book/sci fi/all things geeky site It's pretty incredible - all the latest developments coming from seemingly every field imaginable. From potentially revolutionary energy technologies like the $3/gallon algae-based jet fuel being tested by the military and the Bloombox fuel cell, to new pieces of the puzzle like a proposed new theory which would finally explain gravity's force using the holographic model of the universe (on a side note, Michael Talbot's Holographic Universe was a seminal work for me when I read it over a decade ago), to the hacking of the code which forms all life on this planet and the subsequent creation of new proteins based on a novel four-codon structure. This last development may be a complete game-changer for life as we know it.

Things are seemingly moving at a breakneck pace in so many directions, no doubt made possible by the immense processing capacity we now have in this computer age. Accelerating change is a reality. And I'm not entirely sure our social or political institutions can keep up. Culturally, many shifts are happening as well. I see much cause for hope and celebration, yet people still cling fearfully to cynicism and negativity. There are real things to be concerned about, issues we need to stay on top of - yet reflexively sinking into the same old grousing is the opposite of where we want to be. We must stay awake not only to the dangers, but also to the wondrous possibilities. It has always been this way.

Whatever time we find ourselves in, we think this is the time it will be different. There are those who believe this accelerating change is leading to an end point, a singularity. To me, even radical transformation will likely lead to a continuation rather than some grand finale.

I have been experimenting with my dreams lately. Willing myself to become lucid in the dreamscape is as difficult as willing myself to become lucid when I'm awake. Yet in both settings, such a goal is a worthy challenge - to increase one's consciousness, to connect with the timeless divine, to see through the illusion and transcend boundaries. My explorations in this vein only reinforce my sense that, no matter how much we accomplish in this material plane of existence, it is only scratching the surface of all that is and all that may come to be.