Thursday, March 29, 2007

My beef with pole-dancing

A couple of months ago, I posted a cryptic and derogatory comment about pole-dancing. Naturally, I offended at least one pole dancer, who promptly left a polite but cryptic comment. This week, one of my podcast listeners sent me a few links to stories about the rising popularity of pole-dancing parties in the suburbs, including this one to a story in the New York Times.

I made a few disparaging remarks, which surprised him, but then proceeded to think about just why this whole pole-dancing thing rubs me the wrong way. (That pun just happened, by the way. I didn't plan it.)

I should begin by saying that I once knew a woman who was a dancer in Las Vegas, pre-pole-dancing era. She denigrated the pole dancers whenever the subject arose because she saw them as talentless. "They wrap themselves around a pole. Big deal. I've been dancing my feet off and wearing elaborate costumes for years. How can they call themselves dancers?" That was my first introduction to the pole-dancing phenomenon. My friend had led me to believe -- and I had no reason to doubt her -- that pole-dancers were simply an inferior version of exotic dancer.

What do I know from exotic dancing, really? I grew up in suburbia, was an honor student, and went to KC and the Sunshine Band concerts in high school. When an exotic dancer tells a non-exotic dancer that pole-dancers are the bottom of the barrel in the exotic dancing business, the non-exotic dancer tends to accept that information as truth.

So, my next exposure to pole-dancers was via The Sopranos. Here we have a seedy strip club with women who look like they'd just as soon scrub a toilet as let you watch them pretend a large pole is, in fact, your cock. They look bored and unhappy, and what the fuck, they work at a place called Badda-Bing! for cryin' out loud. Not a resume-enhancer, you know what I mean?

Now, I am aware that it is often unwise to base an opinion on what one sees on television or the movies. If we all did that, we'd think that all crime labs had the latest technology (a la CSI) and that everybody in America only eats barbeque between the months of June and August (according to the Food Network). Nevertheless, what else did I really have to go on?

When my friend sent me those links this week and was surprised by my reaction, I had to devote some time to thinking about why I felt as I did and figure out whether I was really being fair to the much-maligned pole-dancing crowd, whether they love their poles as a livelihood or a lark.

I read the New York Times article and had several reactions. It's always been my belief that anything that makes a person feel sexy is a great and worthy pastime. I also believe that an experiential one is better than a virtual or imaginary one, meaning that pole-dancing in your living room is going to make you feel sexier than doing it in Second Life or having me write a story about you doing it. I don't have children to sap my energy and I don't have a boring or sexless domestic life, but I know I'm lucky in that regard -- plenty of women do need activities or interests that will reignite their sexual selves. Who am I to find fault with whatever does this for them?

Pole-dancers who dance for money have made a conscious choice to do so, and whatever motivates them is obviously no different than whatever motivates any stripper or exotic dancer. That they choose a pole as their primary prop is of no never-mind to me. If they're happy and having fun, great. The world should be full of people who are happy and having fun.

My beef is not with professional pole-dancers -- it's with the women who do it in their living rooms, at parties, and such. I find it sad that a woman's sexual self could be so buried that she must emulate the movements, wear the clothing, and employ the props (namely, the pole) of women that society tells her are sexy.

For me, this pole-dancing-at-home phenomenon is yet another symptom of applying a topical treatment to a systemic ailment. Yes, women will feel temporarily exhilarated by pretending they are pole-dancers. Ten years ago, women were reading about how to strip for their men. Three years ago, they were learning to "make love like a porn star."

Yes, these are harmless pastimes and they may help loosen some inhibitions. But they may also frustrate women who approach them expecting to feel sexiness descend upon them. Lots of women will discover that sexing up a pole feels silly to them, that stripping for their husbands or boyfriends only makes their men look at them quizzically, or that making love like a porn star means that they are acting rather than feeling passionate. They will feel inadequate because aren't these things supposed to make them feel sexy? There must be something wrong with them, they'll think, if these activities are failing to meet that goal.

Realistically, what can we expect bored, confused, desperate, naive, young, or sexually shut-down women to do to feel sexy? They can't ship their kids off to boarding school or make their husbands work fewer hours. They can't afford to hire maids and cooks to relieve them of housework. (And in the case of young women, they aren't old enough to look within for their inner source of sexuality and sensuality. We have to excuse them, I guess. They are led to believe that if they look and move like a Pussycat Doll,, they will be sexy, not understanding that they will be perceived as sexy, which is different than the confidence that comes from knowing who you are sexually.)

Pole-dancing seems innocuous to most people. To me, it's just another way that our culture has distracted us from introspection and self-examination so that it can lure us with quick fixes and immediate gratification. After all, the former are free but the latter can be had at any price the market will bear. I feel sad that so many women think they have to pay somebody to access what is available to them 24/7 at no cost whatsoever.

Okay. Now go ahead and attack me. I'm ready.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Weird Al made me do it

Once a day, I used to check my MySpace account to see if there were new "friend requests." There usually were, although half the time it was some porn come-on or a sales scam. Tonight, though, I signed on and saw an ad for a Weird Al Yankovic video. Being a long-time fan of Weird Al, I clicked on the link.

It took me to his page but his video wasn't working.

And that was the straw that broke this particular camel's back. MySpace is a colossal waste of time and I think I was there for all the wrong reasons. Ninety percent of my "friends" were writers I never even heard of who thought I gave a shit about their books and their careers (I don't). Most of their pages had music players on them, so although I might be playing my iTunes, I was assaulted by their stupid music if I went to their page. Lunatics with pointless diatribes would post bulletins every other day. And several times a week, the ubiquitous "Tom" would explain why some functionality wasn't, well, functioning. Oh, and did I mention the plethora of flashing and blinking ads? Words cannot describe the sublime pleasure that is MySpace. I'd rather be kicked in the ass with a frozen boot than check my MySpace page.

And, by remaining a member of MySpace, wasn't I being just as disingeuous and hypocritical as the people I criticized?

So, when I had a chance to see Weird Al and MySpace couldn't even get that right, I finally said, "Fuck this." I closed my account.

I feel like I've just lost a bunch of weight. Or been told that men will still find me attractive if I let my leg hair grow. Or that chocolate is not only healthy to eat
but good to apply topically.

Good riddance, MySpace. You are such a piece of crap. And thank you, Weird Al, for making me see reason.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How an artist works

I feel the same way about art as I do about food -- I enjoy consuming it but find it best for all concerned if I don't attempt to create it.

So, I was intrigued to find artist Jackie Adshead's site, which not only displays her beautiful artwork but shows how a piece is created. Click on the "Online Demonstration" link to see the step-by-step process.

For a paint-by-numbers gal like me, I was quite mesmerized.

And here's something even more incredible. It's a real-time sketch of a woman that begins with her skeleton and ends with her being fully clothed. In the process, she is naked. Very cool.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Outlaugh-The Nellie Olesons-Ann Coulter Spoof-NSFW!

Here's a little spoof of the most sexless human on the planet. Doesn't it make you hot?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What's in the water of Lake Wobegon?

If you ever thought Garrison Keillor was an amusing, unassuming fellow with a liberal mindset (just because he's on public radio), you might want to read this blog post from Dan Savage.

Boy. You think you know a person....

I'm suddenly proud of the fact that I've always found Keillor to be boring in the extreme.

Addendum: Thanks to an anonymous comment to this post, I was alerted to the possibility that Keillor meant his remarks as satire. I did some research and found this ... apology? correction? clarification? ... by Keillor himself. It seems inadequate and yet, it does seem to suggest that Keillor understands his attempt at satire failed and that he has some 'splainin' to do...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Erotica writing in the SF Bay Area

I recently hired a few writers to help out at Custom Erotica Source. Some have written professionally, some haven't, but each and every one of them is creative in some awesome way. Jen Cross, for instance, teaches writing workshops here in the greater San Francisco area and I think hers are especially unique because they link writing to "wholeness." Her Web site is Writing Ourselves Whole and her mission is:

To offer safe, confidential writing groups -- that allow for transformation, risk, laughter, and artistic manifestation -- to a broad cross-section of the community, focusing particularly on those who've felt marginalized and silenced (survivors of sexual trauma and domestic violence, members of the LGBTQQI communities, and those who are poor, underemployed, or homeless).

What a beautiful concept. And she places a strong emphasis on erotica, which is utterly brilliant, not to mention inspired. Few things are more essential to the core of the soul than sexuality. And sadly, so many souls are damaged there... Check her site for a class schedule.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The best movie EVER

There are days when I think this Interweb thing is really going to catch on. Today is one of them.

After much planning and collaboration, Flash animator Andy Pinder and I have finally finished and uploaded our interactive movie about your erotic personality. (That's right. Yours.) It stars the lady you see pictured here.

I'd love to know what you think of it!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Don't stick THAT in there

I've been reading a lot about the evils of plastics in the past few months. There's a great site called Delicious Organics that goes into informative detail about which kinds of plastic will end up in your bloodstream and which won't. From this site, for instance, I learned that reusing a plastic water bottle is just about the worst thing you can do. And here I thought I was helping the environment by doing so. Little did I know I might be killing myself in the process.

So, anyway, turns out that not everything you need to know about plastics is at that site. Good Vibrations recently decided it's going to phase out all sex toys made with Phthalates. (Just trying to pronounce that word probably has a detrimental effect on one's health...) Science is still working to determine just how bad Phthalates might be for us, so Good Vibrations (and Smitten Kitten) is going to gradually phase out its inventory of toys made from this plastic. By October of this year, they won't be selling anything containing it.

Better safe than sorry, especially since they had been recommending that condoms be used on the toys. Am I the only one who finds that notion worthy of a giggle? Not only are condoms designed for people but what irony that we would be using one man-made substance to stifle the dangers of another.

I am a big fan of sex toys but when you hear stuff like this, it just makes you want to go natural and opt for fingers and cocks exclusively, you know?