Yes, you read that right so buckle up and hang-on tight. We’re going in baby!
So, a friend of mine recently tagged me in a post on Facebook, linking to this image
It was mildly entertaining, some quite accurate tropes. And I’ll admit I was a little disappointed to find out that male slave Leias is common enough to be a ‘thing’ at conventions (I thought I was so special).
As is almost inevitable on the internet, a comment appeared that pointed out that the comic makes explicit reference to “fat dudes” but doesn’t do so for female bodied people. Needless to say the person who placed this comment preceded down a tediously predictable route of escalation, inflammation and outright trolling. I didn’t want to waste my energy there but I did want to expound a little on a couple of points.
First up, let the record show that I’m writing this as a clinically obese short guy with ridiculous facial hair and a lisp. I’m also writing this as someone who’s gone through their own struggles with negative body image and low self esteem (which is material for a blog post that I’m not ready to write yet).
Essentially the argument came down to, “So you’re ok with people using the term ‘fat dudes’?” and, in short, my answer is yes. It’s yes for two very different reasons.
First up, I find that it’s a really helpful way of filtering for arseholes. Basically anyone who references my body shop as a pejorative immediately flags themselves as a bit of a shallow person who really isn’t worth spending my time and attention on.
The second reason stems much more from context. You see, when someone calls me fat, it isn’t the same as when someone calls a woman fat. Why? Because when someone calls me fat it doesn’t come with an implicit threat of sexual violence.
“Whoa now; wait a minute!” cries the comment-troll, “surely saying you’re not attracted to someone is the absolute opposite of threatening sexual violence?”
Which completely misses the point. It’s not suggesting that someone is attractive that carries the threat, it’s the simple attitude of being free to comment and pass judgement on women’s bodies that’s threatening. It perpetuates the attitude that women’s bodies are not their own, that your opinion matters. So the woman you call fat is both being insulted but, also, is being reminded that they could be the target of sexual aggression. Just not from this guy, this particular time, because they’ve deemed it so. Aren’t you lucky, shouldn’t you be grateful?
So, can I tolerate a supposed double standard around “fat dudes” actually yes, yes I can.
Imagine you’re a necromancer (trust me, there are boob jokes coming, I swear). Your ultimate goal is to raise a terrifying army of the undead right? But nobody can just do that straight off the bat. I mean if it were that easy we’d be swamped in apocalyptic hordes.
It stands to reason that before you can raise a terrifying horde, you need to start a little smaller… by raising an annoying army of the undead. You know, a horde of animated corpses that, instead of killing, mutilating and dismembering people, will just sort of, get in the way. You wake up in the morning and you can’t find your car keys, why? Because the annoying army of the undead have hidden them. You go through to the kitchen and they’ve used all the milk, forcing you to have dry cornflakes… you get the idea.
That’s what I thought of the first time I encountered an “Internet of Things” device. The “IoT” (as it’s referred to by utter bell-ends) is the idea of having lots and lots of objects and appliances all connected to the internet so they can talk to each other, to you and to relevant outside parties. So, your fridge spots when a zombie has slugged the last of your semi-skimmed and orders a fresh pint from the milkman (do we still have milk men? Where am I? What year is it? Who stole all my clothes?). It’s potentially a revolutionary technology. It’s also, I think it’s fair to say, utterly shit at the moment in terms of cyber security.
So when I first saw an IoT device (a light-bulb in a friend’s living room) I immediately assumed that hackers will, at some point, gain complete control over it. Which is probably fine. I mean what’s the worst they can do, turn it to a really obnoxious shade of yellow? turn it on in the middle of the night hoping to startle you as you make a late-night pee run? It’s the annoying army of the undead, but in cyber terms (do people still use the word “cyber”? What century am I living in, the twentieth?)
But this is the modern world, and the great thing about technology is that it’s only a matter of turning your back on it for a second and then BAM! somebody’s put knobs on it (and probably, boobs too). Thus, it wasn’t entirely surprising for me when the first I heard about the We-Vibe IoT vibrator was in a news report that simultaneously said it was hackable, oh, and that it was harvesting a hefty amount of data on its use to send back to its makers. The full article is here.
So the zombies have crawled into bed and are taking notes and, potentially, grabbing a quick fumble when your back’s turned. Now, I’m not saying the horrific sapient toaster apocalypse is upon us, but this could be how it all begins, not with a bang, but a whimper.
The ever-lovely Horny Geek Girl recently gave me a goodie bag she picked up at the ETO show 2016. It was a pretty full one and, as I upended it and let the contents sprawl over my floor I started sifting through the contents. And as I sifted I became distressingly aware of how much effort had gone into things that I was dumping straight into my “bin” pile.
A friend once told me that the greatest honour you can show for a gift is to use it. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d offer up my view on what I find in goodie bags from adult industry events and what stays and what goes:
Flyers – bin
They don’t provide a huge amount of information and, even if it is something I’m interested in, I’m unlikely to keep a pile of loose paper and card kicking about for long, it makes the place untidy and is, quite often, not very actionable (more on this later).
“But wait!” I hear you cry, “Charlie Forrest, you’re a dirty damned liar, I’ve seen your flat!” Well, yes, ok my flat doesn’t need any help to look untidy, but at least by pro-actively dumping fliers I stop it getting any worse.
Business cards – bin
Unless I’ve actually been chatting to you and been physically handed one of these then it’s not going to work, I just haven’t made a connection, so these fall into the same category as the flyers.
Sweets – Nibbles pile
These can vary from the god-awful (seriously, love-hearts? Am I five? Those things taste like lightly sweetened asbestos) to the actually pretty nice (mini bar of Green & Blacks, you can come again!) The upper echelons of these might end up in my play bag for aftercare purposes.
Lube and condoms – sex kit
Bottles of lube are fantastic and definitely find a place in my bedroom. Sachets can be put into a little purse with condoms for portability, both very welcome. The only slight drawback is some folks have preferences for lube and/or condoms that work well for them. Parabens, latex or coatings that make sensitive bits “tingle” are all potential deal-breakers.
Little vibrators – sex kit
I think the perfect trio to have in an emergency sex kit is condoms, lube and a small (but powerful) bullet vibrator. These definitely find use, sometimes lots of use.
Big Vibrators -Oh yeah!
Unless you’re providing an item from a company that’s made a series of exceedingly poor marketing decisions, a high quality toy will probably earn it a great deal of appreciation and maybe even a review depending on who receives it.
Keyrings – keep
These are useful, but the solid built and/or entertaining ones are best. The key (art art) factor is that they need to be small. I sometimes send my leg numb with my keys as it is without adding to the bulk of them.
T-shirts – keep
If it fits I’ll wear it, if it fits and has a cool design I’ll wear it a lot! If it fits, has a cool design and isn’t too explicitly adult I’ll even happily wear it in public. Even an ill-fitting or ghastly t-shirt can often find use… I mean I only have so many socks right? Alternatively, a t-shirt that truly won’t fit can always be reduced to rags for cosplay purposes… although the company logo may no longer be legible.
There are two key factors to making a really good bit of giveaway material (in my humble opinion). Usability and acitonability. So on the usability front, flyers are pretty poor. sweets better, stationary, toys, lube and condoms all good, as are a variety of novel items I’ve encountered in the past (Renee Rose’s spanking paddles from Eroticon 2014 for example). But this needs to be followed through. Put simply, a novelty flogger isn’t any more than a novelty unless you can actually use it.
The second point is actionability. Assuming I like you/your work/your product, there needs to be a straightforward way for me to do something about it. Again flyers are really bad for this, it’s typically an interface between me, a piece of card and then having to get a phone or laptop and manually enter a web address. It’s probably going to be less effective than a half litter bottle of “lubey armstrong” that sits next to my bed and I reach for twice a day or “sexponies.com” catching my eye every time I reach for my keys and see that adorable rainbow unicorn keyring.
“We’re doing a mud run,” says a work colleague. “We were going to invite you but we know you’re anti exercise.” I fish-gulped a bit before protesting that, far from it, I actually enjoy exercise, I just can;t stand the tedium of doing exercise purely for its own sake, of spending time in a gym running or cycling etc and going nowhere in a sterile environment surrounded by the kind of people that make me think Tyler Durden had a point… Anyway, I defiantly expressed interest in joining said colleagues on said run of mud.
They sent me a link and, when I clicked through to sign up, I was told that the price was only £49.99 Dude, wait, what? Yes, the organisers of the event wanted me to stump up dozens of pounds in actual sterling in order to be given the privilege of running through five miles of countryside with occasional obstacles, ditches or potentially an electrocution or two.
Now, I’m not averse to running or walking cross country over stupid distances. I’ve done this before several times, but that’s always been for charity. I’m not saying the aforementioned mud run isn’t charitable (I haven’t bothered to look it up) but it seems to me to get the motivation completely ass-backward.
Being sponsored to do something gruelling or challenging is great, it pushes the person doing it and gives them both a strong motivator (“Save The Kittens!”) and an extra sense of accomplishment afterwards because, quite often, one can raise more in sponsorship than they alone could afford. Whereas paying to take part? Couldn’t I just give the money to charity and not do the horrible thing?
Yet I’m quite happy to spend money on opportunities and events that, on paper, are just as physically demanding, as gruelling, as painful as any mud run. But why do I do those and not the other? I guess it’s largely about context. I mean, if I were in a D/s relationship and the other person signed me up for aforementioned mud run (and maybe booked themselves a spectator slot because, oh yes, such things can be arranged) then that’s a different matter entirely…
It seems these days that lots of guys, particularly the lithe, well-groomed hotties, spend a lot of their time wearing headphones. Be they listening to music or a podcast, watching a tv program on their tablet, directing large aircraft in to land. But mostly the headphones are just there to make them seem coy and aloof and pretend they don’t just want to be tongue-bathed in our adoring attention.
Knowing the right way to approach a hot boy in headphones can make all the difference between getting their number (preferably along with their sort code) and having an A380 arrive in East Dulwich…in flaming pieces.
Guys can be shy and struggle to be sure whether a woman is interested in them. So be sure to stand extra close when engaging a guy wearing headphones. ten to fifteen centimetres is ok, any more than that and they’ll assume you’re talking to someone else.
It can be a bit intimidating to directly violate their line of sight. That angry bird, or fuel-critical passenger liner can seem pretty important right in the moment. Instead try speaking loudly at the little cutesy target of your attention. Don’t be afraid to actually shout, it just shows how assertive you are and will be something you can laugh about later.
If all else fails, physically pull the cans or buds from their ears. It’s the only way to make them really sure it’s them you’re talking to. As a bonus, the feeling of something brushing their ears is a really intimate gesture that’ll have them eating out of your hand.
Once you’ve got their attention the hard part is over and you can get on with the important stuff:
Try complimenting him on his man-spreading and how it shows off just how huge his penis must be, or how his sitting in a priority seat really underlines his alpha-male-ness.
His ears might feel a little vulnerable so now’s a good time to place your hands on them. Hold them firmly and don’t be afraid of pulling, men have much higher pain tolerances than women.
buttock-slapping is really just a friend thing. To show him you’re really interested in more than just getting past him and off the train try giving him a playful punch in the crotch, he’ll get the message.
Of course, not every single guy who’s wearing headphones is doing so in the hopes that he’ll be approached by you. But those are in the minority and, at the end of the day, that’s what autopilots are there for right?
Back at Eroticon Live in May I was one of the readers for the closing erotica slam on the Sunday. When I took the microphone I explained to the audience that, despite urgings of several friends, I wasn’t going to read the explicit bits of a story (one that, incidentally will appear later this year in an anthology edited by the adorable Leonora Soloman).
This raised one comment that suggested it was ironic that I was hesitant to read mere words when the previous evening I’d happily had my buttocks on display and received a spanking in front of a room full of writers. It was a comment that baffled me for two reasons.
Firstly, I didn’t see any contradiction. My body simply is and, whilst I’m actually for the most part pretty happy with it, I don’t feel that anyone judging it is really a judgment on me. I’m not ashamed of the meatbag that is Charlie Forrest. Whereas my words, that’s something different. The words I trick myself into pouring onto the page, the honesty, bluntness, sheer unadulterated lust and greed and desire I express. That’s me, and that’s me in a way that I’m far more scared of being judged on, because then it means something, then it’s based on a real tangible aspect of me as a person.
The other thing that baffled me was that, despite not reading the explicit sex bits at the end, I did something that, even by my own logic, was a lot more daunting; I read the really hot bit. You see, this particular story is focused on the idea of humiliation and, in that regard, the absolute peak of it, the realisation of the narrator that they are in a very very bad place, comes right at the beginning.
So I guess I can stand in front of a room full of people and do the scary dangerous stuff; it just might not be what you expect.
I think it’s fair to say that 2016 has been a pretty amazing and awesome year for me thus far in terms of my personal life and the new things I’ve had the chance to experience. Mingled with that is a colossal pile of poo going on in the wider world, which can lead to a strange feeling of disconnect. It reminds me a little of 2008 to 2009; a period in which, while the world’s economies staggered, I was making my first steps in my career and in the most financially stable position I’d ever been in.
The wider world can take a back seat for now, or rather, you can read better thoughts than mine on it elsewhere. But what I do want to share are two of this year’s highlights:
The second thing I want to write about is a little more abstract, and a lot more personal. I’ve struggled for a long time with one of my biggest gender hangups; crying in front of others. I don’t consciously choose not to do this, it’s just something that doesn’t really happen for me, whether I want to or not. Except it would seem that sometimes it does happen. It’s hard to write about because I have to dance the invisible line of what I want to share and what’s just for me so I’ll keep it simple. I was in the woods, blindfolded and fastened to a tree while people, hands, pain happened. Threats were shouted and whispered, pressure points worked mercilessly and I ended up as a sobbing puddle of flesh on the floor. And it was glorious.
It was a feeling of being, just being. For once I wasn’t performing any kind of role, I wasn’t trying to be an acceptable version of me I was just me.
Afterwards some of the people who’d seen it happen were concerned, others told me it was incredibly hot. Most of the men who saw it, though, didn’t seem to know how to react. It was just a complete unknown, brains failing to fully comprehend what they’d seen. Nobody seemed to grasp quite how good it had been, how liberating and empowering it could be to be reduced to great hulking sobs.
But I understood, and I guess that’s what matters.
In which I shamelessly reference two bits of geek culture, hell maybe even three.
I’ve got a lot fo thoughts and a lot of feels about what happened at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in the early hours of Sunday morning. But there’s just one part that I really want to share with everyone.
There’s a line in the Lord of the Rings films that I’ll paraphrase here (because Tolkein just loved having nothing but bearded white guys talking to each other) “What can people do against such reckless hate?”
You see, that’s the key word here, “reckless”. Hatred isn’t a straightforward controlable thing. It’s wild and dangerous. If you let it out you can’t stop it, it grows and builds and doesn’t pay heed to any rules. What happened on Sunday was the product of this recklessness.
There’s the old story of someone describing their feelings of love and hate as being like two wolves fighting in their belly. When asked which of them will win the narrator simple replies “The one that I feed.”
So with all the words that are being said right now, please just bear that in mind. Where are these words coming from? A place of love, or a place of hate? Because the most important thing you have to give right now isn’t money or thoughts or prayers, it’s time and attention, it’s the soil for ideas and feelings to grow, so please, whatever you do, don’t give in to the easy path, don’t let the seeds of hate and fear start to grow.
I think “Action” is more traditional, but this was way more fun. I reached for my tie… but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Rewind a couple of hours to the closing workshop of Eroticon Day 1. Pandora Blake, having given a presentation on how to go about making your own porn, happened to mention that she was available if anyone was interested in shooting something that evening. Suddenly a few disparate thoughts coalesced and I sent a text message to the delightfully devious Zak saying, roughly, “I know this sounds a bit weird, but how do you feel about shooting a porn film?”
Logistics (lack of phone credit) meant that I couldn’t get a response immediately. But when I left the workshop and made my way to the coffee area I was met by a certain writer with a gleeful grin that said, “Oh yes; this is happening!”
So, we found ourselves a little while later in a gorgeously appointed sitting room giddy with excitement, nerves, fear?
What unfolded was something really quite special. I felt incredibly comfortable, in a safe space with two women I trust and doing things that are both familiar and fun. At heart it was a fun, connective little play scene, the kind we’ve shared many times, and the presence of a third person, and of a camera, really didn’t take anything away from that, and it added something, a feeling of sharing this thing of ours.
I’ve avoided porn in the past, mostly through the kind of discretion that means I keep face pictures off the internet, never use my real name or details for kink stuff and am weirdly vague with my colleagues about my weekend activities:
“Oh, I went paintballing,” I say, without adding, “naked, in the woods, without a gun.”
I’ve also always filed it under “that’s great, but not for me,” something that I’m glad exists but I could never do. Why? Because I’d find it too impersonal? Because the pressure would be too much and I’d never be able to get hard under such circumstances?
I was wrong. And I’ve never been happier to say those words. Saturday’s shoot made me reassess what porn means to me and it’s intensely, gleefully liberating, for me at least. If nothing else I have a sensation of putting my money where my mouth is. I’m sure there’s no better comeback to the inevitable ‘porn is misogynistic/exploitative’ line of argument than “well none of the stuff I’ve been in has been.” Fuck it, be the change you want to see in the world.
I came out of Saturday with a real feeling of having made something beautiful; something I am immensely proud of. And what’s more, the idea of creating something like that, and then sharing it, sending it out into the world is a lovely feeling, damn near spiritual. Because we can be the other, we can be defiant in honesty and vulnerability.
“In a world that profits from your insecurities and self-loathing, loving yourself is an act of rebellion.”
Oh, and as for face pictures, well, this was the morning after:
As for when the film itself will be available? Well that’s all very up-in-the-air what with the complications, vagaries and bumbling of censorship law in the uk over the last two years. But if you’d like to help Pandora in her fight freedom of expression against censorship her Patreon is here.