Women Have Sex and Enjoy It. Get the Fuck Over It.
Women Have Sex and Enjoy It. Get the Fuck Over It.
Check us out at 5pm this Saturday on CIUT 89.5FM or streaming live on www.ciut.fm!
This looks like a great event!
Maggie’s: The Toronto Sex Workers Action Project Presents
Sex At The Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and The Rescue Industry
Thursday, November 24, 2011
7:30pm at The Raging Spoon
761 Queen Street West
Wheelchair accessible room and washrooms | Free
Books available for purchase, courtesy of the Toronto Women’s Bookstore
Dr. Laura Agustín, an internationally renowned sex worker rights advocate and an expert on undocumented migration and informal labour markets, is coming to Ryerson. She will be giving a talk based on her book, “Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry”. Sex at the Margins questions several popular beliefs about migrants who sell sex: that they are all passive victims, that the job of selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín argues that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe most migrants and that a Rescue Industry disempowers them. Based on extensive research amongst migrants who sell sex as well as social helpers, Sex at the Margins demonstrates how migration policy marginalises informal-sector workers and how anti-prostitution campaigns turn sex workers into casualties of globalisation.
Maggie’s: The Toronto Sex Workers Action Project
No One Is Illegal–Toronto
The Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Ryerson University
The Ryerson Students’ Union
I have enjoyed going to fetish nights in clubs for years. To be clear, I mean fetish-themed nights in night clubs and not dedicated fetish parties or dungeons.
One thing I have always had a bit of a twitch about was the dress code at these events. They inevitably include a variation on “black, leather, latex, pvc, goth, cyber, costume, lingerie, military, etc.” By no means to I have any problem with these types of outfits, quite the opposite. But what I do have a problem with is the restricted list. And what is usually at the top of that list? Blue jeans.
I will throw a bias out right now. While I am a pretty freaky-lookin’ dude with a fair complement of leather, pvc and black clothes in my closet, I am also a sucker for blue jeans. Specifically legs and asses in blue jeans. Such a fantastic sight when walking down the street. So, yes, I would definitely enjoy seeing someone in a pair of faded 501s getting spanked on a cross.
But that isn’t my main problem with these dress codes. My issue is exclusion for protection.
Generally, the dress codes have been established to prevent people from walking in off the street to these events, people who may not be understanding or accepting and who would cause a disturbance or possibly be able to out other people as kinky. I get that. Safety, when it comes to sexuality, is very important.
However, when you deny people entry because they do not adhere to a certain fashion sense, then you are denying those people the chance at community, at understanding and, most importantly, play!
Granted, people who do not want to conform are not obliged to play in clubs. But I argue they should be allowed. These dress codes, based on fashion, are as silly as keeping people who are dressed in black latex out of an event.
Here’s my latest contribution to Met Another Frog. They’re having a “Family Values” month with lots of great content about sex and relationships and how they relate to bringing up children. I am currently rereading To Kill A Mockingbird for the first time since school, and I read the quote at the beginning minutes after I submitted the draft for the article. As I continue to devour this magical piece of literature, I feel that my own parenting style has been, subconciously, modeled after Atticus Finch this whole time.
The design and craft of sex is, in my opinion, highly underestimated. When you go into a sex store or shop online, do you take time to consider the artistry and skill that has gone into creating those pervy products? Probably not, I mean, your mind is likely focussed on something else. But take a peek into your tickle trunk sometime and ponder the aesthetics and form of your toys and devices.
Mad_Scientist of Kink Engineering took his interest in latex, combined it with some good timing and a lot of hard work, and has created a company leading the way in latex kink products including their renowned sealing vacbed.
JP: How did Kink Engineering come about?
Mad_Scientist: In 2008 I had known about my kinky side for many years, but I had not truly acted on it in a meaningful way. Shortly after beginning my relationship with Archean, we took a course on latex crafting with the amazing designers at www.ego-assassin.com and learned the basic skills of crafting latex.
I had an interest in latex bondage devices and a background in mechanical engineering and thus set out to design some better functioning latex bondage toys for myself and Archean to play with.
Through some contacts from Ego Assassin we produced a Vacbed for an events promoter here in Toronto, and she showcased our work at the Everything To Do With Sex Show in 2008. From there we started a website and expected to sell maybe 6 vacbeds in a year just to pay for the web-hosting and to help us have a reason to continue honing our skills as latex crafters.
The business grew to the point that it began to put pressure on my full-time job and my relationship (time is a limited resource) and in 2010 I left my job to dedicate myself to the business full-time. Since then we have grown to add Archean to the roster full-time and also employ a 3rd employee part-time. We have also moved to a dedicated warehouse/workshop space to give us enough room to increase our production. Our most recent exciting move forward is the addition of a laser cutting machine to our toolkit to make insanely complex latex designs and overlays—and even custom engraved latex items.
In order to meet our own demand for the raw materials (latex sheeting) of our trade, we have also expanded from just making latex items to providing sheeting and supplies to other latex manufacturers and crafters here in North America.
JP: What kinds of products do you offer?
Mad_Scientist: Right now everything we offer is centred around latex. We actually run several distinct brands of latex products, which helps us to reach the target markets for each category of product.
www.sheetlatex.com provides latex sheeting and raw materials for latex designers, medical supply companies, artists, film/theatre designers and latex fetish hobbyists including “starter kits” for those who want to try out crafting with latex. www.kinkengineering.com is our bondage/fetish brand which produces latex-based bondage toys and some fetish/nerdy clothing items like capes and masks for latex superhero play. Our newest brand is www.laserlatex.com which provides latex cutting services with our computer-controlled laser cutting machine, allowing us to produce items that are simply impossible to create by hand. We are really excited about the new possibilities that are opening up with this technology in house, including 3-D inflatable work with fine details, engraved/textured latex, custom logo/symbol work on existing products, and more. All of these brands are owned by our corporation Elastica Engineering which houses the online store and handles the transactions for all of the brands in one place. It’s also a nice safe name to come up on your credit card instead of Kink Engineering—which most of our customers appreciate.
JP: What was the first product that got you noticed in the scene?
Mad_Scientist: Our latex vacbeds were the foundation of the company and we have been focussed on latex bondage devices ever since.
I have always had a fetish for latex and bondage play and the vacbed seemed like the grand-daddy of all combinations of those two things. However, many in the fetish scene complained bitterly about how the vacbeds on the market were A) too expensive and B) too leaky because of large zippers used to close up the vacbed once the person was inside. This leakage required the vaccum cleaner that provided the suction for the vacbed to work to be on ALL THE TIME. This made playing in a vacbed both noisy and tended to burn out the motor in the vacuum cleaner if it over-heated from continuous use.
My first order of business with Kink Engineering was to make a better vacbed. Mechanical design training came in handy here, and I came up with a cheap, simple, and most of all, really functional solution to the problems of the vacbed. I also gave options for how the person inside would breathe, with both “head inside” and “head outside” styles of vacbeds to suit both the enclosure-happy and the claustrophobic-but-latex-loving fetishists!
We were lucky to have some customers who sang our praises online after we produced our first few vacbeds, and that coincided with the early days of fetlife.com where we have continued to have a vocal group of satisfied customers and excited followers who have been happy to recommend us to those interested in latex bondage toys.
JP: What is a vacbed and how does it work?
Mad_Scientist: A vacbed is essentially a giant latex bag. A person slides inside and either breathes via a tube to the outside, or sticks their neck through a “turtle neck” gasket to have their head on the outside, and then the air inside the bag is drawn out by a vacuum cleaner.
A frame around the perimeter of the bag gives structure to the vacbed, and the person inside ends up with the latex suction fitted to every curve, nook and cranny of the body. It is like having latex spray painted onto the skin, and the restraint caused by the stretchy latex holds the person in place with only a little bit of wiggle allowed before the body is pulled back to the position it was in when the air was drawn out.
Play with a person inside a vacbed can take many forms. The sensation of touch is amplified by the sensory deprivation of “head inside” vacbeds, and the sensation of a full body latex hug can be very sensual for people who enjoy helplessness. Other themes that ring very true with vacbeds include power exchange, massage, touching, and a sense of struggle in sexual situations.
JP: Is it difficult to compete with companies producing materials offshore for much less?
Mad_Scientist: Yes and no. We actually run a side-blog all about this at knockoffknockdown.tumblr.com and it is a topic of much discussion between us and our designer friends locally and online. We recognize that we simply cannot work at the same hourly wage as sweatshops in China while living in a first world country. No matter how much a customer might like to pay much less for our products, we do need to charge a rate that gives us a living wage and leaves some room for growth of the company.
On the other hand we do compete with them through holding our prices at reasonable levels. Just because it is a fetish product does not mean that we have to price it to the moon. We base our prices on paying ourselves a reasonable 1st world wage, and extending that respect to our employees, but there is no insane markup.
We also have kept a keen eye on customer service, smart and elegant design, and super high quality standards. Because of that our customers are not just satisfied with us, but often amazed at how we produce exactly what they always dreamed of. From us you get a product produced by people who understand the usage of that product, and the mentality of our customers who will be using the product. We often ask questions of our customers in the course of our order production process that bring up elements of their purchase that they had not even considered.
We talk back and forth with our customers a good amount. That is a very hard thing to get from a business run overseas in the manner of traditional money-centric business where customers are only a source of income and products are to be produced as cheaply as possible. That leads to corners getting cut, quality in constant decline, and customers who are dissatisfied, but have served their purpose of giving some money to the machine. I often think that customers to some overseas companies are as disposable as the products produced. Our customers are part of our community, and we care about them.
We also help to build the latex community by offering advice, running events, promoting small designers (yes, our competition) who are doing great work, and generally making latex as accessible and fun as possible. We allow our personalities to touch the business and people are naturally inclined to want to support those that they feel connected to. You get great fetish gear… and you get to know that you might have paid to feed our cats today!
JP: What is the allure of latex for you?
Mad_Scientist: The particular draw of latex for me, when worn by a partner, is the cognitive dissonance of arousal coupled with denial. Latex both accentuates the form of the human body by highlighting the curves with total form fitting, but can also can cover the body completely and deny access to sex in a way that can reinforce that arousal by denying the act itself. A real “look but don’t touch” situation.
Latex is also a very sensual material for the wearer themselves in terms of how it stretches, slips and slides across the body when worn. It hugs and moves like no other material, and unlike most fabrics, can be either high friction (sticky) or low friction (lubricated) to suit the mood of the wearer.
I have been interested in latex since the early days of puberty when I became aware of that side of my sexuality. Since seeing latex in the mainstream media in music videos (Madonna’s HumanNature video being one of the first incidences I can remember of thinking “oh, wow!” to latex) I was hooked on the tight and shiny accentuation of the female form.
This was always a secret side of my personality, with only a few small feelers put out to girlfriends along the way through university. Somewhere during my education as a Mechanical Engineer, I stumbled across images of latex vacbeds featured on a German fetish-fashion site www.l-a-tex.com and instantly connected with the perfect form fit of latex suctioned to the human body.
My exploration of latex didn’t really get started until partnering with Archean a little over 4 years ago, and I am pleased to say that I have introduced latex to her, and she has accepted that fetish into her life to the point that she is both a latex blogger who gives advice to potential latex wearers (via www.latexcloset.com) and the current Miss Rubber World 2011. She has been a huge positive influence on me, and a tireless partner in Kink Engineering.
JP: Did you think you’d be doing this kind of design and manufacturing when you graduated?
Mad_Scientist: Nope. But that would apply to virtually every job I’ve had since graduation. Let’s see… Actor, Robotics Engineer, Special FX designer, Web Designer, Musician, Indoor Landscaping, Teacher, Professional Science Nerd, Set Designer, and now Latex Designer. When I graduated I had no Idea what my first job would be… but I promised to keep my eyes open for opportunity. I really did that! However, I never ever would have expected back then that a work day could include supervising photos and video of beautiful half-naked women bound in latex devices of my creation. Most days are a lot more like normal work… but some days are totally magical.
But if I could go back in a time machine to myself when I graduated from grad school in 2002… the me of back then would have laughed himself half to death with glee at the place that I am now. That said, I still feel like I am just at the tip of the iceberg and that I have a long way to expand as both a business owner and as a designer.
JP: What are your plans for the future of Kink Engineering?
Mad_Scientist: Our joke around the office is that the plan is ‘World Domination’… but realistically I see the future of the business as growing the manufacturing side to the point where I can stop working on day-to-day production and spend more time on the design of new products, and the production of artistic showcases of what the company can do. I also obsess about avoiding the pitfalls of growth… where employees don’t share in the joy of a business and end up “just doing it for the money.” That’s the first step down a path that leads to loss of quality, loss of creativity, and the eventual slow and painful end of a company that started out amazing. I have been inside companies in that end game state, and I don’t want that to be how my business ends up in 20 years. Archean and I spend a good amount of time planning for expansion, and how that will affect every aspect of the business. We assess where we are weak and try to shore that up with great people, and we do our best to keep the spirit that got the business going in the first place alive and well. “We love this idea… how can it be done better!” and “We love this community… how can we make it stronger?”
2920 Dundas Street West
“I’m the best thing to happen to you since you discovered masturbation.”
I love Sleep Talkin’ Man.
All in all, Playground was an interesting experience. The vendors were moved down to the ballroom for Day 2 (all 2 of us), so I got to take in some of the talk that happened. The Activism panel first thing in the morning was very good with Tori Scout reading Wendy Babcock’s last essay on sex work and some of the response it garnered. Michael Erickson and Derek Forgie of Heterosexuals for Same Sex Equality were also great to listen to. I also caught interesting chats on Feminism and Submission and Femme (Re)Volution. Much pause for thought in those for sure.
And I also got to catch the closing session of hits, misses and suggestions for the future. There is definitely much room for improvement and forward momentum for this event and I hope to see it evolve. I liked hearing the numerous suggestions but I’m just not about the touchy-feeling breathing and emotional aspects of these exercises. If you need them great, for me it was time to tune out.
For me, the best part of the day was having lunch with Sophie Delancey and Skye Blue. Two great people who I very much enjoy working with. They talked about bras. And they let me vent. Good friends!
Ultimately, I was happy with the event in many ways, disappointed in others (very much on a personal level).
I love sharing sex news, articles, research, opinions and views that I come across. This was one of my favourite weekly tasks on a different site. I also get the opportunity to go more indepth monthly on Met Another Frog. Now I’m going to bring it here, Sunday mornings. What better way than to enjoy a morning coffee than with reading about sex!
Thank you Michael Erickson for initiating this. Let’s pressure Quebecor Media (SUN TV) (for American friends, this is our equivalent of Fox News) to drop transphobic ads.
It has been a fun day here at Day 1 of Playground. Backtracking a bit, I thoroughly enjoyed last night’s opening reception and the performance by Hibou. They definitely rocket up near the top of my favourite Toronto bands. I look forward to getting their music, listening and hopefully seeing them live again sometime soon. Great stuff!
On to today. I’ve been up on the second floor, selling the Choose Your Own Sex Adventure books and pervy pins and it has been cool connecting with other vendors. Please come out and visit tomorrow! We vendors like some love and visits.
The panel this morning, Sex & the Media was a blast. I was up there with Cynthia Loyst, Lux Alptraum and Paddy Jane. The discussion was brisk and stimulating. I got kind of excited and blathery at times, but I think it was informative and smart. Love talking about this stuff! Got to chat about Sex City a lot, and my other work some too.
Looking forward to more Playground tomorrow!
As of Tuesday December 6, Sex City can now be heard every TUESDAY at 11PM!
This is a very exciting move for us that we are looking forward to. Join us every Tuesday night at 11pm for great sex news, views and reviews. Louise, Bryen and Jon will continue to bring you fascinating people and events that open the doors of discussion on sex and sexuality.
You can catch the show by tuning in to 89.5FM in the Toronto area or streaming online at ciut.fm.
If you miss a show, catch up with us here or at our archive site www.sexcityradio.webs.com.
Nothing gets sexy senses tingling like Halloween. Beyond the costumes and sugar rush, this fun-filled day is always a high point in my year. And to have a collection of hot erotic stories to read on the day? Even better!
Recently released by Naughty Nights Press, A Wicked & Wanton All Hallows’ Eve pulls together classic elements of horror, ghosts, aliens, sci-fi, pop culture with nasty, naughty fun. Challenging you to “open your mind, free your inhibitions and get ready” there is definitely much to consider with a wide range of sex and expression represented. Whether it be the fright factor or the smut, this collection is not for the faint of heart.
The standout tales of terror are those centred around significant psychological play and manipulation. Sarah Bella’s “Triage” is a sensual exploration of a mistaken trip into a BDSM club by a newbie. Bella captures in stunning clarity Charlotte’s nervous excitement and fear as she is overcome with desire for her new Master. You can feel the intensity of the moment in Bella’s writing, with Charlotte’s breathing heavy through the page.
Kim Faulks explores emotion and personal journey in a much different but equally effective manner in the most rich and strong ‘story’ of the collection, “Inamorata.” While it certainly involves and details some hot sex, it is more the tale of a man and his deceased wife’s sister who fall on hard times in the late 1700s. He is despondent over the loss of his wife and the sister has been tasked with taking care of him. To do so, she will do anything he asks, including falling in love with him and becoming a prostitute. The plot is realized with such elegance and ability that the sex is almost a throwaway to the story.
Halloween is most definitely a time to let all of your wild thoughts out and some of the writers in this collection do just that. But remember, with all things wild in writing, a little bit of restraint is needed to ensure the words aren’t out of control. “Haunted Party” by Abby Hayes and “I Dream of Dalian” by BL Morticia are strong in their sexuality and the plot is there, but the writing goes over-the-top and just needs to be pulled back and tightened up.
All told, A Wicked & Wanton All Hallow’s Eve is a fun collection of stories to spook and sexy up an evening. You know, a dark and scary night when the full moon is high in the sky…
LD: Right now I work as an independent kinky escort, so I do some BDSM work while also providing “full service” which is our industry lingo for penetrative vaginal sex. I offer other services as well. I have worked in brothels in Australia as a contract worker, which was a fantastic way to get lots of experience, meet lots of other workers, and also learn the ropes of working with clients without also having to learn and do all the administration work of running your own sex work business. The administrative work takes up a lot of my time now. I have been developing my lust and skills in BDSM activities but it remains to be seen what directions my sex work is going to take me—and I like how it takes me in unexpected directions.
JP: What are some of the things you like and dislike about work?
LD: I really like how unexpected my work is. I love knocking on a door and wondering who the man or woman is who will open it. I love the variety of people I meet and how vast the field of sexuality is. Also I love working with actual people’s bodies—touching and stroking and hitting and kissing. Working one-on-one with a lover’s body is really transformative and intimate for me. I love the intimacy of my work, but sometimes that aspect of it really burns me out. I work hard to be as open as possible with my clients, to accept them so deeply and give myself to them, and sometimes after I close the door behind them my heart has a little flare-out. I have to remind myself that it was a part-time fantasy and I have ways to return myself to myself, get my skin back so to speak. I think my compassion and open mind are what make me a great sex worker, but like any caring profession, it means you can burn out faster. The good thing about the sex work I do is that I get paid well for this intimate work, so when I need a break I can take one to rejuvenate and look after myself. That’s really important.
What I dislike the most about sex work is the way it is so isolating. I usually work alone in quiet rooms, doing things that everyday people don’t want to talk about, and I offer my clients discretion and privacy. When you couple that reality with the whorephobia that you encounter in everyday life, you can really feel alone in remembering that your sex work is valuable, ubiquitious, and worthy of respect. This whorephobia is also what makes you more susceptible to violence. I try to counter that by participating in sex worker community, working with other sex workers in sessions, and by being very open about what I do when it feels safe to me to disclose that information.
JP: What improvements can be made to the industry as a whole?
LD: From the community work I do at Maggie’s Toronto (I am a board member there) and in the workshops I give and the arts work I do on issues for sex workers, I would say that decriminalization of our work is a major step towards building more open community support and also towards more police accountability and reducing stigma against sex workers. I see how sex workers are very susceptible to violence and to getting ripped off, and I don’t just mean by clients but especially by police. With decriminalization we could work more openly and together, supporting each other and building independent businesses that benefit from tax and business law, not just hide from them. And while decriminalization would be a major step, it’s not a one-note solution. I think that sex workers come from all parts of life and need justice not just as sex workers, but as Indigenous people, poor people, people of colour, trans* people, women, migrant people, people with disabilities, queer people. We are fighting for justice in housing, immigration, sovereignty, access to social services, body autonomy, financial justice, reproductive rights—all of these struggles need to be understood as sex workers struggles, and other groups need to think hard on how sex workers are likewise part of their struggles and communities. It’s called community building, and only when sex workers are included in our notion of community will the decriminalization of sex work really benefit those who need it most.
LD: I feel most unsafe not in the room with a client, but in social environments where people make jokes about dead hookers. I feel unsafe when people tell me they feel sorry for me, because the next step is always that they will try to rescue me or save me in ways that completely deny my experience. I feel unsafe when people assume I have a disease that I brought upon myself and won’t offer me non-judgemental treatment options or kiss or hug me. I feel unsafe when people assume that the violence and danger in my life only comes from clients when my experiences of assault and boundary-crossing have primarily been with intimate partners.
Mostly I feel unsafe when I can feel that people don’t respect me, when they think my work and life is less valuable than other professionals, and this feeling can come from clients, yes, but also from doctors, bank tellers, social service providers, therapists, lovers, friends and family.
I stay safe by remembering I have a right to safety, the respect of others, and by talking openly about the challenges I face in being a sex worker. I think it’s important to note that not all workers can be out like that, and some are outed against their will. I have some risks in being out to most people in my life but the benefits have also been so amazing—so many people share their advice and stories with me. I honour and love the stories I have been given access to, and I am so careful with them. I make videos and offer workshops on sex work topics to other sex workers and to the general public and I am on the board of Maggie’s Toronto, a local sex worker organization. These are things that make me feel strong in who I am, and that help me feel safe by working with others to provide safety and a long-term vision of sex worker rights and self-determination.
I think the legal challenge will grind its way through the courts while legislators push for indirect new models of regulating sex work that will criminalize us, our communities, and our clients. I’m not that hopeful for positive legislative change but I am hopeful for the ingenuity of sex workers in staying safe and supporting each other no matter what is happening in the courts.
JP: What other work do you do, or hobbies do you have outside of being Lusty Day?
JP: Would you consider doing cam, video or other types of sex work?
LD: I have never worked on cam, doing phone sex or porn, in dungeons, or dancing… I am very happy in my niche and it would take a lot to pull me away from it. I don’t really love having myself photographed or filmed so lots of types of sex work feel uninteresting to me for that reason. I really love the one-on-one intimacy of escorting so I am very comfortable with what I am doing right now.
JP: What are your plans for the future, in both work and your personal life?
LD: I am not much of a long-term planner, but I do have a few dreams! In terms of my sex work, I would love to build a co-operative workspace with other sex workers and have it be a model for the world of what ethical and consensual sex-working business could be that is open to so many types of sex and sexuality and that is a groundbreaking place for new kinds of intimacy and connection.
Outside of sex work, in the future I would love to build an outdoor trekking organization that builds our survival skills as queers, people with disabilities, sex workers, community workers. I see it as a post-apocalyptic training ground that equally values different community-building skills, and it’s very much inspired by transformative science fiction by writers like Octavia Butler. I am inspired by the land and I respect those elders who have come before, especially those Indigenous peoples on whose stolen land I work and live on, and I want to make sure it is here for the generations of people yet to be born.