Thursday, July 29, 2010

Better than Reality?

In the past, my mother has told me that I have a way of writing that makes things sound better than they actually are. I laugh and wonder to myself if this is because I was a voracious reader of cereal boxes and other everyday snippets of marketing. It is true that what I create with words at once attempts to embody but also transcend that to which I refer.

With this in mind, I sadly must state my disappointment with the movie Salt. As much as I love Angelina Jolie, and as happy as I am about her breaking through the action movie gender barrier, I wish Hollywood could come up with a better quality script than that. We have come to the point where we are merely telegraphing ideas and going through the motions. Mainstream movies are getting longer, but not deeper! Well, there's still Inception. I'm excited to see if the film has any effect on my lucid dreaming explorations.

Speaking of better than reality, I was mildly shocked to see recent pictures of Megan Fox looking a little too plastic at a movie premiere. My first thought was she has succumbed to the pressures of Hollywood and dipped into Botox and other procedures. A quick google search revealed the truth: that the woman we know as Megan Fox is an almost completely artificial, surgically-induced creation. Not happy with her girl-next-door good looks, she has repeatedly gone under the knife to give her the vampish, high glamour appearance of an Angelina Jolie lookalike. I'm not one to censure such actions, as obviously her plastic pursuits got her this far. Yet it seems like she does not know when to stop, and as such has pulled the curtains away from the illusion. The next self-created star will hopefully also be able to act.

To make matters worse, I left my phone in the movie theater! Some part of me is even relieved. These smart phones begin to eat away at our existence, separating us from the immediacy of the physical world. It reminds me of the 1991 Wim Wenders film Until the End of the World, in which people become addicted to hand-held devices which capture their dreams. Eventually, the addicts do not want to do anything else but stare at their dreams, growing lethargic, neglecting to eat or sleep as their red-rimmed eyes stay glued to the tiny screens. In many ways, a prescient movie.

The disembodied effect of new media fascinates me. How awareness of time itself can disappear as we merge with the endless stream of data coming our way. In this era, I feel that it is even more vital to stay connected with the physical plane.

Recently, I had one of those intangible and highly internalized revelations which are hard to describe or fully make sense of with words. It was during some treasured alone time, when the exterior trappings of our self concept are allowed to fall away and we can attune ourselves with a greater consciousness. I sang from my soul and allowed my spirit to dance, loving and rediscovering myself. It was then, as I faced the mirror, that I began to sense my body in a different way. Not simply as a vehicle to be used by my thinking self, but a full-fledged complimentary intelligence residing within me. A body-centered intelligence which we all too often neglect and suppress, if not completely ignore. The duality of our existence is nested within us all.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Salt - Changes in Hollywood

I've watched the publicity surrounding Angelina Jolie's new action movie Salt with a great deal of excitement. Finally, a badass action hero who happens to be a woman! They are saying she is the first action star to transcend gender. I also was happy to hear that fellow hapa (he is half Samoan) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is going to be taking over a Clive Owen role that is in production. It is great to see a woman and a multiracial actor stepping into lead roles that had formerly been reserved for caucasian men.

I grew up pissed off at the sexism of the movie industry; my critical lens nourished by the cutting insight of a feminist mother. There have been some changes since then - more women in active roles, not just screaming victims breaking their stilettos at inopportune moments. But of course, there is still a lot of BS in the biz. In her memoir Suck It, Wonder Woman! The Misadventures of a Hollywood Geek, Olivia Munn mentions a sleazy blockbuster movie director who whips it out and masturbates in front of women in their trailers, another filmmaker whose nickname for his girlfriend is "whore", a studio honcho who shows off his sex toy to strangers, and an actor whose improvised dialogue detailed his desire to take a shower with Munn's character. Munn, who is yet another hapa, states that these men are pathetic for needing to debase their power like that. I hope her outing of them helps throw some sunlight on their dirty practices.

I know for myself, working on a studio lot just out of undergrad, I was amazed at how scantily-clad all the women were - not just clerical/gophers, but producers and the like. It hammered home for me that, in Hollywood, all women are expected to objectify themselves. I think that's why I've found only limited success in my dealings with SoCal Mistress seekers. In that environment, it is hard to have one's femme power taken seriously.

A few years ago I went up to the Bunny Ranch to hang out with a friend who was doing marketing for Dennis Hof. I got to watch them film the Cathouse reality show, and be an extra in the background while I privately studied the dynamics of a bordello. During that trip, I met a very attractive woman who had just flown in from LA. She was an aspiring actress, and was happy to be making some money on the side. In all too many ways, the two jobs are quite similar - indeed, for those without the benefit of nepotism, the casting couch is alive and well.

Changes are occurring, yet not as fast as they could be. Studies still show that the more TV a person watches, the more sexist, racist, and fearful of crime they are. The media skews heavy watchers' views of the world, regularly objectifying women, demonizing minorities, and scaring the hell out of everyone.

Back to Angelina, I read one male reviewer of Salt state something like the following: "Listen up kids. The physics is all wrong. Girlfriend has no throw weight." So let's just forget for a moment that movies are supposed to involve a suspension of disbelief. Does this reviewer really think that 5'7" Tom Cruise, who Jolie replaced in the role, would make a more believable secret agent? Homeboy don't have much throw weight himself. I remember reading a review of one of Jolie's Tomb Raider movies in which the male reviewer whined something to the effect of "Who does she think she is? Strutting around as if she were hot stuff." Such juvenile reactions. Ms. Jolie has stated that she never wanted to be a Bond girl, she wanted to be Bond. And not just for her, but for her daughters.

Yet the pushback does not always have to come from men. Olivia Munn has been severely criticized by several female bloggers who claim that the success she has achieved in Hollywood is due to her looks (she co-hosts Attack of the Show, did a gig with the Daily Show, and is starring in a new network sitcom). She counters that a woman can be both smart and sexy - interviewing politicians on the Daily Show and appearing on the covers of Maxim and Playboy. Why do they need to be mutually exclusive? Wouldn't it be reverse discrimination to disqualify her just because she is attractive? There seems no way to please the peanut gallery! Studies on the relationship between self-esteem and put-downs has confirmed my worst suspicions - that people actually can elevate their self-esteem by denigrating others. This goes a long way to explaining all the vicious, misogynist flames you can find in the comments section of articles about Jolie. The threatened reaction of the masses tells a lot about where the real changes are taking place. Keep fighting the good fight my Hollywood heroes - we are getting there!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The "articulate porn star"

I found the following link to a interview of adult video performer Lorelei on Max Fisch under the heading "Interview with an articulate porn star." I was struck by the title of the thread, which implies a common bias that a woman who engages in work of a sexual nature must be an air-headed bimbo.

Here is another link on the San Francisco Chronicle's website which features an award-winning seven-minute documentary on Lorelei.

Lorelei met a friend of mine, who is also a local pro domme, during a sex workers art show tour. She ended up taking sessions out of my alma mater, The Gates, when she lived in the Bay Area. You can actually catch a glimpse of the inside of the new house in the video.

In one scene in the documentary, Lorelei speaks of her disappointment in one of her professors. After having told him of her work in the adult industry, he told her that he would prefer that she not reveal this to her fellow students, so that she "could stay the smart girl who sits in the front of the class." Once again, that sexy girl=dumb girl bias. As if the two things - being smart and being a sex worker - are mutually exclusive. What follows naturally from this argument is that such work is inherently harmful to women and therefore only stupid ones would engage in it.

Certainly, there are a fair share of individuals within the porn who substitute sex for thinking. Yet in my experience, there are also quite a few players who are highly articulate and critical thinkers. Now in graduate school in New York, Lorelei's interview illustrates cogent arguments from a courageous and insightful mind. My favorite quotes from the interview follow:

The prevailing message women receive is that sexual aggression is unfeminine, that a woman's primary sexual role is as regulator of male desire — to say yes or no, but not to pursue desires of our own. Women are still often taught that sexy is the same as "pretty," that it means dressing a certain way and then waiting to be approached...

If we lived in a society in which women's sexuality was celebrated, and was seen as usually proactive rather than usually passive, I don't think people would jump so quickly to the concepts of exploitation and dehumanization when they thought of female performers.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hierarchy & Leadershp

I have been blessed with a certain degree of personal power, the effects of which I have often noticed in various situations involving group dynamics. I used to fret over the self-consciousness and existential angst that this would inevitably bring up for me. To feel watched and then imitated, a process which usually struck me as more unconscious than not, as if all the players involved were simply acting out a primeval, collective dance.

Hierarchy comes naturally to most primates, and on this instinctive level, we are no different. Yet I am not a believer in biology as destiny. Far from it. In this day and age, it may seem that the extra brains of our species have only burdened us with the folly of intelligence-driven destruction. Yet the one thing we may cherish as human beings is the ability to transcend the vestiges of our evolution and envision an as-yet-unrealized ideal.

As for the effects of everyday hierarchy, the reality is one of limited options and minimal personal control felt in the lower echelons of society. We are finding out that the stress of being on the bottom rung of the ladder is insidious, long-lasting, and highly impactful on factors such as life expectancy, overall health and well-being. Even just a small step up the ladder significantly decreases these negative effects.

This real-life exercising of heirarchy is toxic, not to mention boring and non-consensual. Though many people express resignation about this state of affairs, saying things like "It's always been this way and it always will be," I am not so pessimistic. Women's liberation and the civil rights movement has demonstrated how deeply engrained social structures can be transformed. Technology is also on our side, with scientists working to create a "vaccine" to combat the ravages of low status stress (though of course, a medical intervention of this kind would open up a whole other can of worms. Would the vaccine be used to substitute for more equal access to resources? But actually, this status stress has been measured in developed cultures where even the lowest rung has a fairly high standard of living. So it appears that the lack of heirarchical power, more than inadequate basic needs, may be driving these negative effects).

In the big picture, I wish for hierarchy to remain where it belongs; as a titillating game which gouds us into action, provoking innovation and the inspiration of passion. I would not support attempts to obliterate that which is in our nature. I simply believe in manipulating the variables, re-directing energies into more useful, playful, creative and positive avenues.

As for myself, I have spent quite a bit of time shying away from the leadership roles which have come my way. In some ways, I took humility too far. Now, I understand that to lead can be the fulfillment of duty and responsibility, not just a narcissistic crown on one's head. Particularly for my circle of supplicants, some of whom did not serve anyone else during my leave, I feel a desire to connect, fulfill, and transcend. I see my singular vision of what it means to be a domina as both an artistic impulse and a spiritual obligation.

And while, in the past, the gifts I have been blessed with may have seemed like a burden, my experiences during my break taught me plenty, including just how great I have it. Those down-time explorations which were marked by barrenness, banality, and the taking on of shame. Yes, there was dabbling in vanilla and femme sub to boot. No, it didn't work for me, but I suppose I had to see for myself once and for all. And now I am that much stronger and wiser for having gone down those paths, so that I could really know in my heart that this is where I belong. Amen.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rockin' to the Beat of Your Own Drummer

I rocked a catwoman outfit for a villains & heroes-themed gathering. I don't think I've ever worn such a transformative costume. Even friends did not recognize me. It was like I was another person, people reacted to me so differently. Children stared and grown-ups strolled up with smiles, saying "Hey Catwoman..." I was amazed how approachable one becomes when taking on such an icon. I felt very much the supervillain. Yet instead of super powers, these costumes actually seem to decrease one's senses. I could barely hear with my ears covered by a rubber mask, and others complained that their masks blocked their peripheral vision. We laughed at this irony. Isn't it funny how life is like that - a topsy turvy world where things are not always as they seem.

I recently had a chance to study the issue of conformity and as such have been contemplating the full extent of its force upon all of us, most especially at unconscious levels. We conform because it makes us uncomfortable not to, we feel it in our guts when things stray too far outside the norm. In kink, we play with this feeling, as with so many other conflicted dynamics.

One aspect of conformity in the vanilla world I always am disappointed to see is when a beautiful woman wearing a killer, original outfit gets the jitters and midway through the party changes into something more conventional or otherwise tones it down. Unfortunately, I have seen this happen on numerous occasions. I jokingly remember these long lost outfits as "the ones that got away."

Admittedly, it can be a bit trying to don an edgy outfit. But if it's sexy and works, then I think a woman has to learn to suck it up and go with it. We all benefit when we are blessed with a vision of beauty and creativity. Sure, you may be getting more looks than you're used to, but that's because you are rocking it. There's that intangible pull to want to shimmy back to the median, but you have to have the balls to resist and step up. Yes, that's right, women have to have balls too!

All right, well you've caught Mistress in a more playful mood today ;) I'll sign off for now. . .

Friday, July 9, 2010

Domination: Better as a Game in a Dungeon

Living in San Francisco in my carefully crafted unconventional life, I forget sometimes what it must be like for many of the seekers out there. We may play at games of subjugation and humiliation, but Mistress does not really want to cut off your balls. It's unfortunate that I have to state this, yet when I get glimpses into the vanilla dating world through stories that my guy friends tell me, it occurs to me how brainwashed most women out there are. They make all sorts of silly and draining demands on men because they've been programmed to think these are necessary to demonstrate that they are respected and loved. Once again, it's the replacement of true understanding between essentially equal beings with arbitrary signposts of the so-called "right" way to do things.

All of this is much healthier if constrained to the dungeon. We all play power games, but most do it subversively if not unconsciously. Better to name it and turn it into a game than let it secretly rule you, and be frustrated in one's attempts to escape this intangible web.

In coming back into the professional arena, I wanted to stay true to my vision of femme domme. And I still believe in my way. For serving an authentically powerful and wise woman is not unlike going to church - one's spirit is elevated in worshipful ecstasy. Yet I know I must scare some men away with my uncompromising vision. For all they probably have known of female domination is the cold-hearted scheming of those who, in their ignorance and weakness, must make others feel bad so that they can feel good. And I'm just speaking of everyday women in this world, not dominatrices. That is very far from what I am all about.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Double Trouble, Planned Excitement, Battling Vanilla

I had a lovely double session with Mistress Ai-Li. Actually, I think all three of us – submissive included – were amazed at how perfectly everything flowed . And to think, this was our first time running a scene together! I am definitely looking forward to more multi-Mistress sessions. Mistress Ai-Li and I have known each other socially for some time now, and it is gratifying to know that our affinity for one another carries over into our in-scene chemistry.

I was thinking about the idea of planned excitement. Some people’s idea of fun is chaos. They think adventure must be accompanied by pure spontaneity. That to plan things out is boring and somehow takes away from the thrill. I have been accused of just such a thing, and yet I’m afraid that my accusers could not possibly have as exciting a life as me. Waiting for the next fire to put out or some other unanticipated drama is not my idea of a good time. The whole idea of crafting a scene and organizing a session around it goes hand in hand with this idea of planned excitement. It is possible to have a highly pleasurable life that is also well coordinated. In fact, in the adept execution of our desires, we create a safe space to lose control.

I recently posted on Max Fisch in response to a thread which debated the question of whether or not a pro domme is a sex worker. This thread has mysteriously been removed, as I had meant to quote directly from my post. It was quite a long and involved thread, yet I believe that my late contribution to the discussion was the only one to explicitly state that I did in fact differentiate myself from other types of sex workers. It would seem that professional dominas have become so sensitive to the contingencies of political correctness that we no longer can simply state the obvious.

I believe that this distinction matters because without it, the essence of what makes dominatrices unique is lost. If we do not emphasize this delineation, we risk allowing the vanilla to seep in. Indeed, part of what goes on in the dungeon is a playful battle between femme domme and vanilla. Men seek out this alternative experience where traditional gender roles are reversed, yet deep down many unconsciously yearn to turn the tables, to be the one who is able to declaw the cat and transform her into a cuddly kitten.

To me, the oath of the Mistress involves commitment to her role as the anti-GFE, the woman who will not go with you down the well-tread paths of the everyday, but who instead insists upon the twist – and lives and breathes it with all her heart. Are we yet another pretty package to be bought, this time with a bit more naughty spice added to the mix? Of course, there will always be men and women involved in the game who see it that way. Yet that is the difference between play-acting at Dominance/submission and truly manifesting it.

It reminds me of that final scene in the second Batman film where Catwoman tells Batman that she would love to give up the fight and go away with him to live happily ever after in his castle. But in the end, she cannot. The destiny of the dominatrix is to stay on the shadowy path, liberated from convention, reveling in hot perversion… and whatever else her deviously creative mind can think of.