The Move (pt. 1)

She thought of how he would react when he read it, if he ever did. “You killed me!” he would say with mock annoyance. This was partly why she had written it—because Sam would know that it was about him and it would wound him. She had been in Boston three weeks and had not seen him yet.

In that time she had bought and assembled their wardrobe on her own and their bed and couch with Paul’s help. She had cooked dinner six times, eaten out six times and couldn’t remember what they had done the other days. She had had sex twelve times. She had carried furniture on what seemed like half the streets of Cambridge. She had spoken to her mother every day except for the two days her friend Shannon came to visit them while she went on Med School interviews in Boston. She had gone on two job interviews, accepted both positions, and reneged on both. She had written two stories about sex, one about running into Paul unexpectedly on the street and feeling strange, one about the funeral she had lately spoken at, and one in which Sam had died suddenly in a freak accident—pure fantasy. She was trying to decide how she would survive if something actually did happen to him, having recently realized that she was still pinning a lot of her happiness on him. It was a psychological experiment, then, and a lesson she thought she should have learned long ago.

So when she finally did see she him it was after she had written three drafts of a story in which he died two different ways, one where she mourned him like a widow in a melodrama and another where she hadn’t known him at all, but happened to be standing on the street watching as he was hit by the M66 bus. The girl in the brown hat. Paul was t.a.ing his first class, she was idle truly for the first time since she had moved in with him. Now that school was starting, she guessed she’d have to find something to do with herself in general—but today, she had finally consented to seeing Sam. After all, he was her only friend in Boston.

The irony wasn’t lost on her—the two men who she had loved in the last four years were both joining the same PhD program. They were going to be colleagues. Sometimes she thought about her future—maybe she would stay with Paul and they would run into Sam at some Professor’s cocktail party. And they would all be friends, and her old love for him would simply be part of the tapestry of her life; she would finally find a way to integrate him into her life without letting him obliterate everything. Or, she thought as she turned the corner and saw Sam flirting over the counter at Starbucks with the girl who was making his coffee, maybe not.
She stopped outside and watched him for a moment, wishing she were able to walk without kicking mud up on the back of her legs. He was standing with his arms resting on the glass pastry tray, leaning over the counter. The tray was high and it should have been awkward for him to lean on, but it seemed natural. He had just made a joke and they were both laughing. She disliked her own desire to disrupt the scene as quickly as possible, but she couldn’t control it.

“Hi,” she said casually, placing her hand on his back and appearing next to him, not even looking up, scanning the dessert tray as if she were trying to make a decision.

“Here she is!” he said in a showman’s voice. He leaned down to kiss her on the cheek, right on the curve of her cheekbone, underneath her eye.

She looked up at him. His sandy hair was longer than it had been when she’d seen him last, when she had cut it for him for the last time. They were standing close together—it almost seemed like they were going to kiss, but when he reached to brush a piece of hair away from her face she pulled away and made a face. The girl behind the counter was casting Angela a sidelong glance, trying to ascertain the situation. Sam, as if suddenly aware that he had left her hanging, looked at her, nodded heartily and said “she’ll have a venti cappuccino—lots of foam.” To Angela’s amazement, he actually winked at the girl, expertly communicating both his intimacy with Angela and his interest in the barista.

“You’re unbelievable,” she said, walking over to a table by the window. When he finally joined her she was looking through a crumpled edition of the Harvard Crimson that had been left on the table.

“Paul’s going to start working for them.” She said absentmindedly, tapping the paper with her forefinger.
“Oh yeah? I went on a date last night with the Arts Editor.”

“Oh yeah?” She raised her eyebrows.

He mimicked her expression, “Yes, Angela.”

When it was difficult for her to accept an idea, she had a habit of pursing her lips and nodding to herself—as if just one vigorous shake of her head would get that tough to swallow thing down. “So how’d it go?”

He looked down and smiled to himself. “Good—she’s real cool.”


He smiled at her intently and leaned across the table. “So—“ he said with flare, “how’s life with the professor?”

She scoffed. “Can you not call him that?”

“I don’t know...he seems old to me.” He leaned back in his chair and smiled, “always has.”

“He’s the same age as you. And everyone seems old to you.” She narrowed her eyes at him, but couldn’t help smiling.

“That’s true,” he shrugged. “I guess I just can’t wrap my mind around you living with somebody. You’re the second most immature person I know.”

“Next to you.”


She laughed. “You’re right.” Her expression darkened slightly. His chest tightened a little—he could sense that she was going to talk about something serious. True to form, she glanced up at him with intention. He was well acquainted with the subtle changes in her face when she wanted to unburden herself. In their first few months of dating, he had loved the responsibility of being her confidant. In time, however, he had come to see that she traded secrets when she was scared that she had no other hold on him. “I’m way too immature to be living with him,” she said slowly.

“So move out.” He looked into his coffee cup, almost guiltily.

“I just got here.” She hit him lightly on the arm for emphasis. “Plus, I don’t want to move out.” She wanted to say, ‘I love him,’ but she could never bring herself to tell the absolute truth about things to Sam. He already knew too much, she thought, about everything.

“Are you guys gonna’ get married?”

“No, no. How can you even ask that?”

“I don’t know.” He shook his head. “It just seems like why would you live together if you’re not going to get married.”

“That’s not the point Sam—“

“Then what is?”

She raised her eyebrows. “There is no point—It’s hard to describe.” She said slowly. “I mean, I’m not with him because it means anything about 50 years from now or even next week. That’s not why you’re with somebody.”

“That’s definitely not why I’m with somebody.”

She laughed. “You know what I mean. I would never be with someone because I thought they were promising me something.” She smiled at him, “In fact, if they tried to promise me something I’d probably be out the door.”

“See that’s how Paul has you figured out.”

He paused. “Go on,” she said.

“Well see, Paul’s a huge hippie, and he’s had a totally crazy life. And you see that, and you think, here’s a guy who’s just sort of rolling along and doesn’t have it all figured out. And that’s what makes you feel comfortable.” She started to protest, but he said, “Come on Ang, I know you way too well. I actually remember when we all first met I could tell that you were so impressed by all the shit that’s happened to him.”
She looked at him seriously. “You’re right. You are right about that. He’s been through a lot.”

“You just can’t see him from the outside because you’re with him. I saw him with other girls before we ever met you and he’s totally hopeless. I promise you that he wants to get married.” He hit the table for emphasis.

“He just knows that you’ll flip out if you realize that. And he totally gets that you love that he’s unpredictable—he’s got you all figured out. I mean, what do you think, the guy’s practically a genius.”

She smiled and shook her head. “You’re unbelievable. I love how easy it is for you to dissect my life.”
“Who better to do it? I know you better than almost anyone.”

“I guess.” She looked around, almost guiltily. They had been there for a long time and the tables were filled by different people than they had been when they arrived. It looked like it had stopped raining. “So are you and Paul going to play nicely together this year?”

“I’m always nice.” Her hand was resting palm up on the low table, and as he started to stand up he tapped his forefinger lightly on her wrist, right on the large vein that was visible through her light skin. He shook his head in the direction of the door. “I have to go.”

That night she and Paul had dinner with the Professor he was working for, and his wife. They were young and cool, but the strangeness of being out with a married couple (Jake and Lynn) was profound. She thought she could feel the man’s wife wondering what her story was. Telling it was difficult, and she demurred to Paul who noticed this and kept trying to make her talk.

“We met at Oxford, I was at Christ Church and Angela was going to Teddy Hall. We actually met through a mutual friend.” He looked at her.

“What were you studying there Angela?” Jake asked.

“English Literature.” She smiled. She didn’t want to disappoint. “I was working on this project on Lewis Carroll, and so I was doing all this research at Christ Church. But that actually wasn’t how we met, although I had seen him around. But, like Paul said we met through a friend, we were both at this thing—they have these drinking societies that put on these parties. For like ten pounds you go and it’s black tie—it’s just an excuse to drink and dress up. Anyway, that’s where we met.”

“I didn’t know you knew who I was,” he said with pleasure.

She smiled and he reached for her hand under the table. She looked at the people across the table from them. “I knew who he was because I noticed that he was an American. There’s not that many Americans at Christ Church, so I had noticed the lack of accent.”

She had trudged home from meeting Sam earlier that day and found Paul in the shower. She cracked the door and a surge of dampness descended into the cold air of their living room.

“I’m home.”

He poked his head out of the side of the shower curtain and smiled broadly. “Hey hey.” She slid through the small opening between the door and the wall, careful not to open the door too wide and release all the steam, and sat down on the toilet. He bent down to kiss her lightly on the lips. “Sorry to get you wet.”

“It’s okay,” she smiled. “How did it go today?”

“Oh—it was great.” He shook his head vigorously. He closed the curtain and went back to showering. “It was really great Angela, I really liked it.”

“That’s great baby. I’m so happy for you.”

“I know, I know.”

She felt glad. Paul was generally sort of evenly happy—it wasn’t often that he got genuinely, outwardly excited about something. “You sound so excited.”

He pulled back the curtain and nodded, “I am.”

“So do you want to go out and celebrate tonight?”

“Actually, the guy I’m teaching with wants to take us to dinner.”

“Really? That’s awesome. Well hurry up because I have to take a shower too.”

“Just come in here.”

She pulled back the curtain a little bit and kissed his wet head. “I have to shower Paul, like actually cleanse my body, without getting fondled”

“You showered this morning.”

“I know but I saw Sam today so now I have wash the stink off me.”

He was a little affronted, having not realized that they were even really in contact. He scrunched up his nose a little. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’m telling you now.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Okay,” he said slowly. He understood the need to hang on to former loves—just that day he had gotten an email from the woman he dated before Angela, who had broken things off with him when her mother died unexpectedly. He genuinely thought that new loves and old loves could coexist in a well-ordered mind, and he understood that it was complicated. It was Sam that bothered him. He knew too well that Angela had a soft spot for him that defied logic. It was this knowledge that made him decide not to push the issue. “Well, like I said, get in here.”

“Paul—“ she looked at him. “Okay,” she said, pulling her shirt over her head. She paused and pointed a finger at him. “But don’t distract me.”

He put his hand above his head and smiled. “I wouldn’t touch you if my life depended on it.”

(...to the full post)

Dear Anna Nicole,
Why are you are so batshit crazy? There was a time in your life when things were simple. You moved out of that trailer park and moved to Hollywood. You struck a deal with Guess Jeans. You married a praying mantis in a wheelchair with a built-in respirator. You changed his diapers. You had two children. You changed a few more diapers. This time, a little less eroticized perhaps. And then you bombarded us with a media hailstorm that blotted out the sun, brought upon the deaths of 300 strong, and commemorated the day where a bunch of jocks stared intently at chiseled bodies and leather-encased crotches and not once questioned their usual locker room antics. Figuratively.

Clearly, there's something a tad askew. But who is to blame? Your corporate sponsors? Your eerily stone-faced (stoned?) lawyer boyfriend? Daniel and Danielynn? I direct your posthumous fame and attention to a few potential culprits:

Perhaps it was the enormous "US gender pay gap " plaguing our equal standing college grads. A year after receiving a degree where the"gender" pay gap should be the least pronounced, if existent at all, your biological counterparts were making 80% more than your bio-brethren (sistren). Studies also show that the women that took part in this here survey did much better in college that the men. But oh, would you really expect it any other way?

In a society where women have to wrestle their way through throngs of patriarchy, the role of the money-scheming younger woman that you wore with conviction was that much more frowned upon. (To which you replied, “Frown lines cause some bitch ass wrinkles so lighten the fuck up.”) While your college educated sisters tried to claw their way through the corporate rungs, your high school dropout self managed to land the crypt keeper’s favorite billion dollar chew toy. Well played, Anna. You took the brunt of the attack full force like a man(nequin). There was no way a little socially injected morality was going to beat you down. However, was the impact just too much for your fragile meninges to handle, causing it to pop like a shoddy breast implant?

Or perhaps it was the fact that some countries look towards making the woman the dominant sex as a form of tourism? China, as you may know – the land where historically, little baby girls flood the Yangtze River – has decided to build a township where the women are in charge. When you enter this little tourist locale, be sure to tuck your penis between your legs ‘cause you know that in the event of a mishap, you and your little boy parts will be…well, washing dishes. Anna, I know that you, like me, are into a little dom/sub play so this endeavor could be the best fucking orgasm ever. Then again, at the end of the day, after the hoopla and the fanfare, it does appear to be a backwards attempt to reiterate that women, are in fact, thesubmissive ones. Was it that notion that drove you to your sad, painted clown?

Yes, the world's special way of treating women is demeaning and diffusive. Remember Daria and her Sick Sad World? It's like a campy cartoon wonderland. In your head, at least. We, on the other hand, aren't as lucky. We experience it in live action HD. Can we really blame you for turning out the way you did after an onslaught of objectification and scrutiny? Maybe a little, but not entirely. At least you didn't turn out like these bozos.

So, Anna, I guess I'll never know the mysteries to your madness. You have left us in the dark for quite a while now, but the contents of your fridge have been forever engrained in my head. It's unfortunate that the light inside has already burnt out.

Love, your pal,

(...to the full post)


For a queer Mexico

So it seems to me that, so far, I am the most (for lack of a better term) straight-edge on this blog. And separately, perhaps not quite queer enough. It's something that a lot of us men-lovin', queer-supportin' ladies deal with. It's the struggle with knowing how to identify personally (generally as the majority), how to support those who identify differently (generally as marginalized identities), how to fight against those who don't support those who identify differently (the punks), and then how to meet a decent person these days (not easy).

Then I think of an increasingly favorable way to cope – just not identifying. What's the point? We all know that we've had urges to bat for both teams. And let's hope it stays that way. So, I'll be the first one on the page to lay it out – I'm in a straight relationship. And yes, you guessed it, with one of those Mexican men I mentioned in the last post. I'm laying it all on the table now because it occurred to me this is an important factor in the way that I digest my experience living in Zacatecas. Transitioning from being a single American to a non-single American woman in Mexico has provided me with very different experiences. But that will probably be addressed more in-depth later.

So what the hell does any of this have to do with gender and queer issues in Mexico? In terms of dialogue? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. That's because the majority of the people here just aren't thinkin' about it. I say the “majority” because it is a rare thing that I come across a little dialogue in my daily, weekly, or even monthly life. If I was living in a bigger city it would be different, but for now I become frustrated when I try to personally or socially address gender (and especially queer) issues. I think I was (surprisingly) spoiled by a certain pocket in U.S. culture and a more personal social circle that was more aware of these topics; I slammed a bit too hard into a metaphoric wall when I moved here.

I met this guy at a carne asada last week and he was describing one of the few gay clubs that exist here and it hit me – I've lived here for almost a year and I have yet to go out to a gay or lesbian bar. Why? Well, like I said, being in a relationship (for the good and the bad) allows you to not feel guilty for having a more relaxed social life. If I actually went out to bars and clubs on a regular basis maybe this detail would be different but I'm still trying to figure out this separation that exists in my social life that I never experienced before. But in the end, it shouldn't be so easy to exclude this part of the Zacatecas night life from one's social scene.

As one queer-identified friend responded when I asked him to come visit me, "Don't Mexicans hate gays?" Then the answer occurred to me: “Don't a lot of people hate gays?” Yes, you will probably find that a large percentage of Mexicans are uncomfortable or in disagreement with a gay lifestyle…but no, Mexicans don't "hate gays". They're not used to it. They have no experience with the idea. They live in a VERY different society than the one that the majority of our readers live in. They're vehemently taught by their political leaders, the church, and their elderly relatives that it's different, weird, and – yes— morally wrong. It's just that here, there is a lack of support, a lack of a place for gay culture in this society. You have to be REALLY out, or REALLY not out at all. There isn't much of an in between for identity growth because the culture just ain't havin' it. I've heard more than once that "gay" actually means having a penthouse and BMW in New York City…it's the idea of being gay that exists here rather than the actual thing.

In a city that is 98% Catholic, you have to give a little credit to the fact that this country just doesn't have the foundation in its politics, culture, or social values to keep in step with the good ol' U. S. of A. One of my co-workers once asked if I thought there were a lot more "gays" (as they are commonly referred to) on campus these days. And I said no, I think there are just more that finally feel comfortable in their own skin. The thing is, folks, a lot of times people think of "queer culture" but what they are really thinking about is "American queer culture". There's no room to talk about things like semantics, adoption rights, or anti-discrimination policies- we gotta get people used to the general idea before we can ask for their support on what we consider to be inherent expectations.

But hey, civil unions were legalized in Mexico City last November. And the truth of the matter is, you gotta start somewhere.

(...to the full post)

Dear Fannie,
I'm a 20 year old bi girl. For the past two years I have wanted a boyfriend/girlfriend (although I admit I lean more towards boys) very, very badly. All my friends seemed to be in relationships except me. Now, I've finally found someone – my current and first boyfriend of nearly 5 months. I really love him, and he loves me... but I've been noticing a rift developing between me and my friends. I get the feeling that it's causing my friends to distance themselves from me. I even found out that one of my close friends decided to "take a break" from our friendship, but didn't tell me about it. What am I doing wrong? Some of my friends have told me that I spend a lot of time with my boyfriend, but I don't REALLY. I only see him a few times a week and on the weekends. But isn't that the POINT of having a boyfriend to begin with? To spend time with him? And I totally hang out with my friends when my boyfriend is around. How does one have a boyfriend AND friends?

Wondering in Washington

Well, Wondering, the way I hear it there are a few possibilities of what's going down: A) You have a bad boyfriend, B) You have bad friends, or C) You're a bad friend. Given the fact that he's your first boyfriend, I think it’s safe to say you're probably very smitten with him. Ah, young love. Too bad it doesn't come with a nutrition facts label that tells you some of the possible side effects of relationships include: excessive cuteness, obsession with relationship, alienation of friends and obliviousness to much of what’s going on around you. I’m not saying that you’re exhibiting any of these behaviors, but a lot of newbies to relationships tend to latch on harder than a queen at a Barney's sale. And that's the thing with relationships, when you're in one, it's hard to see anything outside of it.

If you’re at the point where your friends are commenting on the amount of time you spend with your boyfriend, it's probably more than noticeable. Not that spending time with your boyfriend is a bad thing, but don't be surprised when your friends are irked that they stop seeing you. You also mention that you don't feel like your friends should feel as upset as they do since you often coincide friend time with boyfriend time. Wondering – as much as your friends must love you, no one really wants to hang out as the third wheel, even if you are their best friend. You may not realize it, but your friends probably feel like they have to censor themselves when they're around you and your +1, which again isn't fun... and frankly, not fair of you.

Granted, there's also the possibility that your friends are the kind of people who don't like their friends to be in relationships (it's actually a lot more common that you'd imagine). But from your email it sounds like there's a perception problem on your end. I'd advise keeping friend time separate from boyfriend time for the most part (unless your friend has specifically invited your significant other along). You need to remember that friendships need just as much, if not more, maintenance than romantic relationships. And while romantic relationships come with certain fringe benefits, friendships also have benefits that should be considered when weighing the importance of your relationships. After all, as sickeningly Spice Girls this is: “bedmates come and go, friendship lasts forever.”

…Well, you know what I mean.

++ fannie

send your questions to askfannie@gmail.com

(...to the full post)

My contribution to this forum will be a series of interviews. Names will always be altered to protect the privacy of those interviewed. Today: the subject is a late twenty-something woman living in New York City.

theinquisitor: How do you identify sexually?
Janice: Gay.

I: How would you characterize your gender identification?
J: I am female. My body is that of a biological female’s. My persona, though, is different from what the conventional idea of what femininity is. I am not delicate or passive. I am pretty aggressive, especially around women, and I suppose more feminine around men.

I: How has your gender performance, which you just stated differs when around men and women, affected your relationships and sex life?
J: I came out when I was 23. Before that, my first boyfriend was when I was 19. Between 19 and 22, I dated a bunch of men, and slept with several of them. For the most part, men were never able to make me feel comfortable or confident sexually, or with my body. I didn’t connect with men emotionally. I never felt as though I was sexy. Despite attempting to “perform” as a typical female – meaning I tried to dress feminine, wear my hair down, and act more passive than I truly am – I, objectively, did not succeed because a) I couldn’t keep up with the façade, and b) I could not carry myself with confidence, because I didn’t have it.

I: Why did you not feel “sexy” around men?
J: I was/am a bit of a tomboy. That’s not what most men consider sexy. That’s not what society in general considers sexy in regards to heterosexual women.

I: Were you sexually aroused by men despite the fact that you lacked comfort/confidence with them sexually/emotionally?
J: Yes.

I: Were you attracted to women while you were dating men?
J: Yes. I slept with a woman for the first time when I was 22. Something ‘clicked’ for me then. Sleeping with that particular woman showed me what sex could really be like. Up until then, I was having orgasms, not sex. With women, my aggressiveness that I perceived to be ‘un-sexy’ with men is attractive to women both on a sexual and emotional level.

I: Did you become more conscious of your of your gender identification/performance after you came out, and after you became sexually active with women?
J: No, I felt like coming out made me so much more comfortable in my own skin. I’ve been able to ignore a lot of the gender hierarchy within the lesbian community. I feel like I ‘came into my own’ in regards to my gender performance. I am able to act on my natural inclinations that are out of sort with the heterosexual expectations of women.

I: In retrospect, do you think you felt confined to a female identity that was not your own while you were dating men?
J: Yes. Sex was empty for me with men. There was no emotional component. I think that this was so because I was not comfortable with myself or my sexuality with men. I didn’t feel comfortable or confident because I didn’t feel attractive. I knew that I was not anything like the female ideal. So, I guess the answer is yes.

I: Again, in retrospect, if you had felt confident and comfortable with men, if being a tomboy was overwhelmingly considered ‘sexy,’ do you think you would still be with men, instead of women?
J: …maybe?...

[End interview]

(...to the full post)


Missed Connections

Flirting is Lust’s immature cousin, and like any embarrassing family relative at whom you just can’t help but laugh and point, he’s impetuous and uncontainable—he does whatever he wants whenever he wants, sometimes under the influence and often with a case of verbal diarrhea. Flirting quickly sneaks up on its unsuspecting host and, especially when aided and abetted by his trusty partner in crime Alcohol, steals the reins of the body’s every thought and behavior, convincing it to do stupid things that only seem stupid in retrospect.

The flirting game isn’t the easiest game to play; its many rules assign consequences for almost any wrong move—and that’s true even if you’re straight. The flirting game may offer heterosexual singles significant challenges, but in comparison to their non-hetero counterparts, they seem to have a better hand with which to begin: they don’t have to worry about being bashed for unwanted plays, and, if they’re playing the travel version of the game, they may find companionship much easier than someone who has to hunt down a bar or community center tailored to a specific audience. Drop a horny or lonely gay man in a random nightclub setting and chances are—by virtue of numerical and norm-based supremacy—that the club aims for a straight audience. To flirt successfully in a heterosexual setting demands that the gay man play with strategies more covert—maybe even shadier—than the average straight player would need to use.

Case in point: My attempts to make a connection at a concert Friday night. Sure, it wasn’t Gwen Stefani or Madonna, and, granted, I really should have known that a bluegrass show at a Texas bar wouldn’t have been the best of places to try meeting gay guys. The desire to flirt, however, cares not for time nor place (and neither should my right to flirt).

I spotted him from the back. He was taller than me, probably hovering around the six-foot mark, and, when he turned around, he was cute. He was laughing and giggling with a girl, yet not in the traditionally reserved, macho way that other guys might be acting around their girlfriend; no, his goofiness rendered a picture of good friends of different sexes—or, I crossed my fingers, a girl with her gay best friend. More clues to tip off the ‘dar: He never wrapped his arms around her as a protective boyfriend might; instead, he kept distance, as if to make body contact between them awkward. As if to send other people signals that he was not with this girl. As if to say I am available. I am single. I wouldn’t mind an eye-fuck. Or a fuck. Or sex. With the same sex. Or…

I digress. While the other men in the bar were dressed in cowboy button-downs or t-shirt and jeans, he sported a cleanly-ironed pale pink button-down that Ryan Seacrest have made a trend. If he were straight, he’d be classified metrosexual, but when he opened his mouth to speak, he leaned more towards my team: there was an lilt in his voice that rubbed off as slightly Valley Girl. Like he was used to rattling comments quickly to his girl friends at a mall while they window-shopped (or people watched—or, I had hoped, guy-watched).

Had he been a girl (and had I been a heterosexual male), flirting standards would have demanded that I make the first move, that I approach him and make small talk, try to charm him, and somehow pass my number along. But he was not a girl, and I am not a heterosexual male. Interestingly, one of the challenges in the flirting game is that the rules and norms themselves not only strangle open acts of homosexual flirtation, but also provide less defined structure. A guy-girl flirtation: sure, the guy should start. A guy-guy flirtation: uh… who makes the first move? The one who is more masculine? But how would you know? What if both of you were self-proclaimed queens? What if you both of you were big, bad muscle daddies? Who goes first?

Because I was standing behind him, I thought I’d go first. But by “going first,” I meant getting closer to him. I did—I scooted up immediately behind him. I couldn’t speak to him—no. What if he was straight? What if I pulled out an obvious come-on, or worse—a bad one? So, uh, you like this band? BORING. No—I would protect myself from rejection and play it safe, as homosexual flirting in a largely heterosexual space might demand: I’d just do all I could to make him make the first verbal move.

So I made eye contact whenever I could. I talked on the phone behind him so he could hear my voice, slightly infused with a Valley Girl lilt. When someone in the audience did something funny, I laughed to match his laugh. He sang out loud; I sang out loud. He joked with his friends; I joked with mine. Eventually, I got to the point where I was standing side-by-side with him, singing lyrics, dancing goofily together (but not together), and cheering the band along with all four of our arms pumping fists into the air simultaneously. Unforced, I might add—I was still being me. I did everything I could—while staying authentic to my own mannerisms and style—to signal to him: Look at me. We’ve got stuff in common. Maybe we should talk to each other and see if there’s anything else…

About three and a half hours of enjoying the concert in close proximity to him, the show ended. My friends drifted towards the exit. I followed, without any exchange of words with a guy I’ll never see again. The hopeful side of myself wondered if this is where Craigslist’s Missed Connections would come in handy. No, manontheside, no. How ridiculous.

Outside, underneath a corner lamppost, I waited for a few more friends to exit the venue. Instead of seeing one of my straggling friends, I spotted him. He stumbled down the sidewalk, towards me, with his best girl friend (I had hoped). He stopped. We recognized each other from inside the venue, a quick acknowledgement of eye contact and small, mutual smiles. Then he turned the corner, with his girl still at a distance from him, and continued walking to their car. Flirting, the immature cousin, strikes again.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a shy guy. Gay bars are great for looking, but it’s not easy for me to make that move – to go up and talk to someone I find ridiculously attractive. I’ve been on the market long enough to know I’m a good-looking dude, but something still stops me from confidently walking up to someone I’m interested in.

So one option here would be to suck it up manontheside-style and go after what I want no matter what. Another option: log on to one of many social networking sites (MySpace, Connexion, Match, Manhunt, Gay.com, Facebook [yep], GLEE, and even the fellas on Craigslist) and hide behind the emotionally protective barrier that is my computer screen. Let’s guess for a second which option I more frequently select.

If we were to look past the standard depressing moments that the e-hunt can bring, i.e. that moment when you realize you’ve been perusing picture after picture for an hour; or when someone e-flirts with you for the second time…despite the fact that they already e-flirted (and failed) over a month ago and forgot; or when you e-flirt with someone and then realize that you already e-flirted (and failed) over a month ago and forgot. We can and should acknowledge that many people can and do really find what they’re looking for online. And, well…sometimes it’s a nice feeling to log on and find a number of anonymous compliments.

Last time I logged onto Manhunt (what I seriously believe to be one of the most honest e-portrayals of “What I’m looking for” – nowhere else do people feel compelled to say in the most blunt fashion what they find attractive [and unattractive]), I counted: 250 out of 340 profiles online in the western area of Manhattan listed “masculine” or “str8 acting” as a requirement for potential hookups. A requirement! Some even dared to publicly interweave race with gender: “sorry, no asns…not looking for girls..haha.”

I find it very difficult to believe gay guys who claim they don’t think gender prejudice exists within the gay community. It’s one thing to acknowledge that it’s there and they don’t care, but it’s another to say that it just doesn’t exist. Shouldn’t we be responsible for what qualities we’re attracted to? Flamers should be valued just as highly as butch guys. Something has to be done.

So my brain was swirling with all these frustrated thoughts the other night, as I was wasting time skimming countless profiles and deciding which ones I wanted to click for more pictures. One caught my eye: muscular shot of a headless torso with a bulging bicep in clear view; his personal ad finished, “Femme need not apply.” Before I had enough time to blink, the mouse had clicked.

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I'm pleased to announce that AskFannie will be a weekly staple on belowthebelt.org. Check back every Wednesday for more fabulous Fannie fun:
Wednesdays with Fannie, putting the hump in hump day.

Part II: Doing the Deed

This is a continuation of last week's post concerning the wonderful world of commercial sex work. I highly recommended checking out the last post before taking a look at this week's column in case you haven't done so already.

So... you've set up your internet ads, you have a few prospective johns who have e-mailed you about your services. What to do now? The first thing that you should do is decide what criteria you will use for charging your clients. Some sex workers charge per sex act, i.e. X amount of money for a blowjob. Others charge per hour. It all depends on your own experience, and which is most cost effective for you. If you know that you give a killer blowjob and can get the job done in 20 minutes time, it may be advantageous to take that route. However, it is more typical, especially among more professional sex workers, to pay for time rather than service.

When meeting up with a john, whether at your place, his, or another location (sex club, public bathroom, saunas, xxx cinemas, hotels) it is important to have a contingency plan. Make sure you have a group of friends or support group to call as a safety net in case anything goes wrong. Also, make sure that your john knows that you have such a system in place. Try and keep a close friend aware of your location and your schedule in relation to your sex work. Have a system of calling your friend before and after meeting a john. These times should be prearranged so that your friend can know if anything is up. In addition, give your friend a detailed location and contact information of your john, that way, in the event of an emergency, you can be located.

Also, be fully aware that sex work can be a very psychologically taxing occupation. If you are considering doing any sex work you should be prepared. Sex work is best for people who are able to have anonymous sex with a variety of people. And remember that sex work is still work. While it can be highly satisfying and gratifying, it can also REALLY be something you just have to suck up and plow through.

In terms of dealing with clients, johns tend to fall into roughly four categories: easy trade, hard trade, rough trade, and heaven trade.

Easy Trade: These are johns that are your prime clients; the clients you want to maintain for the long run. They are regular, respectful, and easy to please. These men usually aren't in top physical condition, but are reasonably attractive and servicing them isn't particularly difficult. Keep these johns near and dear, because they will be your bread and butter. If you can get a steady line-up of easy trade, you won't need to go trolling around for new clients, which can be difficult and unsafe.

Hard Trade: These johns are usually the ones you service once and will try and avoid in the future. These clients tend to be unattractive, disrespectful of the trade, or generally undesirable as sex partners. This can prove especially difficult if you intend to perform a sex act that requires sexual arousal, like fucking. Hard trade sometimes becomes a necessity if you're running low on easy trade clients. I would advise performing quick easy sex work (i.e. handjob/blowjob). Go in, do the work, and get out. Easy as pie.

Rough Trade: Avoid at all cost. While many sex workers specialize in kink and can be very rewarding and liberating, rough traders tend to take kink to the next level, often without consent or pre-agreement. Physical violence, rough treatment of the sex worker, etc., is emblematic of rough trade. You should be able to weed these clients out, and they also tend to prowl primarily for street sex workers. But avoid at all cost. If you ever feel in danger or compromised, get out and fast.

Heaven Trade: These clients are a sex worker's dream. Think Pretty Woman… these men are beautiful, successful, respectful… someone you would have sex with outside of work. While heaven trade is a sex worker's dream, they can also be your worst nightmare. Namely, it's very common for a sex worker to fall for heaven trade, but you will always be a sex worker to them (unlike in the movie). It's important to really treat these clients as work, and not allow yourself to become emotionally attached.

That's all for now folks! Have a good Wednesday and happy humping!


send your questions to askfannie@gmail.com

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claiming spaces

In a society where binary gender equality has yet to be fully realized, few spaces exist—politically, socially, or linguistically—for transgression of gender categories. Those that do strive to transgress carve out these spaces with fierce courage and perseverance, often working tenaciously upon our very flesh. To be not just sexually queer, but genderqueer, is to enter an especially vulnerable space where our personhood itself is challenged.

How does this play out when one enters a progressive social justice movement such as the Equality Ride? LGBT may be the phrase scrawled across the side of our bus, but I find this abbreviation inadequate and stifling. “Queer” is the only label I claim. And it is a label I claim because it connotes shifting instabilities and fluid identities, a blurring of boundaries.

Shortly after being interviewed by a gay-themed newspaper for my work on the Equality Ride, I found myself pacing agitatedly. I had not mentioned my nonconforming gender identity or preferred pronouns. Trembling over the possible repercussions for my current job at home (no gender nondiscrimination policies where I live), I asked myself, ‘And yet, what kind of activist lets hirself be a silent participant in hir own gender closeting? Step up.’ I called the reporter back.

But as it turns out, I was informed by the reporter (for a prominent gay news magazine, no less): “Well, the problem is…it’s a copy-editing issue. Gender-neutral pronouns (like ‘ze’ and ‘hir’) aren’t real words. We can only use words from the Merriam Webster Dictionary. So unfortunately I don’t think we’ll be able to accommodate that request.” Pause. “I can write that you’d prefer gender-neutral pronouns be used, though.”

So hey, folks, forget petitioning society to change or calling on our queer-friendly publications to serve as revolutionary allies in this struggle. Instead, contact the administrators at Merriam Webster! On the Ride we speak a lot about the power of words in both Christianity and queer activism, but what about who determines what is a word? Do we really need a dictionary to affirm our existences?

Politics and language are inextricably and powerfully connected. And my goodness…are they both fucked up these days. We see nondiscrimination policies that explicitly include “gender identity” or “gender expression” under “sexual orientation” (when, if anything, the opposite would make sense). I mean, yay for nondiscrimination policies, but do we want to write even well-intended misinformation into the law? And here on the Equality Ride, we find additional bizarre misuses of language on many campuses. For example:

Does Northwest have any openly gay students?

While we cannot presume to know the private choices, struggles, and behavior of all individuals in our campus community, we are aware of students who have struggled with gender identity and have agreed to live by our Community Life Standards and remain celibate. We are committed to providing a safe, respectful, and loving environment for all individuals.
This answer demonstrates regrettable ignorance about both sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s a shame that “ignorance” carries such negative connotations. Places of ignorance are not necessarily places of blame. One of many goals of the Equality Ride is to point out these areas and provide an opportunity for institutions of higher education to better educate themselves. We trust their intentions and therefore challenge them to accept responsibility for remedying this not only unfortunate but outright dangerous misinformation.
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the affair

She couldn’t remember her father ever looking at her before in the same way he had when she told him. And she thought, this is the way we live now, this is being an adult child. You can’t just always spill your guts when you want relief.

But it was too late—the words had already dropped into the world. It hadn’t sounded so bad, she thought, when she said it to herself.

“I know daddy, I’ve done a horrible thing to him.”

Her father shook his head and stood up to leave the room, turning back only to say, “you’ve done a horrible thing to yourself.”

She had been living in his extremely comfortable apartment on the Upper West Side for nearly three weeks now. She hadn’t even seen her apartment since he’d picked up in his Jeep on a Saturday afternoon in November when he roommates had gone to meet their friends to watch the Lehigh/Lafayette football game. She left them a note.

She had been happy with him, rejoicing in being worshipped and well fed. It was only when he met her at the Port Authority on her way back from visiting her folks that her feelings about their situation began to change. Even when her father was looking at her like she’d stabbed him in the front, she was still feeling indignant about the whole thing. When Dan greeted her, taking her duffel bag from her instantly, she indulged the delusion that the people in the terminal thought he was a father whose beloved daughter had come home from college for the weekend. And then he kissed her forcefully and she had to swallow hard to defend herself from the muted expression of revulsion of a woman standing nearby. She suddenly noticed that this was becoming a familiar experience: actually seeing people change their minds about her. That was the moment—the first time she ever resented Dan, the first time a woman in nylon pants and a start jacket pitied her.

I am not some lost girl, she reminded herself as they walked toward the subway. And Dan is not that man. Dan was not indelicate. But she was twenty-two! There was nothing even wrong with them being together. Nevertheless, Dan was not distinguished from her other lovers only by his age. He didn’t need the things that they needed, he didn’t expect the things that she believed all men expect. Maybe it was because he had been married, but he certainly didn’t expect sex all the time. This she wanted to run back through the terminal and scream in the face of the nylon woman, but instead, later that night, she simply rolled over when he crawled toward her in bed.

Her head was extremely heavy when she woke up and she called in sick to work. He stayed around and made her breakfast, which was pretty standard. His heart, she knew, was chained to a sadness so expansive that he would do almost anything to keep her around and save him from being alone with it. He would kiss her or not kiss her, depending on her mood, he would feed her (dining in or out), he would make love to her the way he must have wanted to do to his dying wife. The last of these attempts to please was satisfying or heartbreaking, depending on factors as unsympathetic as the weather or the direction of the wind. When it was rainy, she took some vindictive pleasure in how close to the skin his feelings were during sex. When it was nighttime, she wasn’t responsible to reality, he wasn’t a man who’d lost his wife to cancer, who she’d met when she was working for his wife’s doctor. At night she would crawl on top of him and lovingly draw letters on his chest, trying to make him guess them in the dark, a game she had played with others before him almost as a rule. The rule in this quiet household was the indulgence of all things that interested or amused her, and that she rewarded easily at night. When his windowed bedroom was full of afternoon light, however, she couldn’t bare to touch him and would take a bath while he busied himself by changing the sheets.

He brought eggs and the paper in to her, and leaned down to kiss her on the head before leaving, a gesture which felt sickening akin to something her own father would have done, if he didn’t hate because she was fucking a forty-year-old.

“Dan,” she drew a deep breath. “I’m beginning to feel disgusting.” He sat down on the bed next to her. She was lying flat on her back on the dark blue sheets, staring straight up at the ceiling. “You know—half your neighbors think I’m your niece and half of them think I’m a hooker.” She saw his mouth tighten. She was beginning to hate his endless tolerance of her, how he didn’t just stand up and scream like a normal person, “I’m not that fucking old.” He could have said a million things, could have drawn a flow chart about they were both adults, how they were lucky to have met each other after a tragedy, how she had been the one who said her favorite movie was “Harold and Maude.” How she had said she wasn’t beholden to other people’s standards. Instead he looked at her with earnest, even interested tolerance, like he felt sure the tantrum would pass.

So she kept talking. “I feel like, so…sad.” Suddenly she was overcome by a wave of emotion and was over on her stomach, crying into the pillow. Anger surprised her—how much had she missed since they’d been together? She felt that she had robbed herself of an unforgettable afternoon of watching football with people her age, and going to bars where she didn’t know anyone and waiting to see if anyone talked to her, and sleeping in her bed, her very own bed, and totally alone. She wanted her parents back, wanted to be able to cry to them about this mistake. All this time, she had been hiding their relationship because she thought of how insensitive they were being to the memory of Rita, who had been her patient and her friend too. But it wasn’t that at all that made her hate to see him crawling over her while warm light from the window danced upon their every move and sway. It was her—she hated to see herself in bright light at that moment, giving herself to man whom she didn’t love.

It hadn’t always been like that. She had been tricked. When they first started to talk, while Rita was in with the doctor, their friendship had been sincere and uncomplicated. One day, the doctor had asked her to tell Dan how long Rita had to live. She called him, and haltingly read from her doctor’s note the devastating prognosis. Rita was living on borrowed time as it was, they all knew, but saying so was quite a different thing. “I just didn’t think this day would come,” he said quietly. It was a gift, she had begun to see, to give a little bit of yourself to someone like that, without hope of returned affection.

But she had gone and ruined that. The realization of her own immaturity invaded her now. She had needed to be loved back if she was going to give anything at all, it seemed. At the time, she had thought it was just talking on the phone. She knew he needed a distraction, needed to pretend for five minutes that his life wasn’t collapsing into hell. And so she thought, there was nothing wrong with flirting a little, because she cared for him and she knew—or indulged the idea that he needed it. It had been easy to feel righteous, but that was over now.

How she got from there to being made breakfast on the upper west side she did not care to fully examine. Regardless, now that she had figured it out, she knew she needed to be gone fast. It broke her heart a little bit, and as she climbed on top of him for the first time since the first time they had made love during the day, she regretted the chasm between them honestly, not because someone was judging her for it. The day that they had cried together on the phone, she had really felt what she could only describe as an affinity. She had actually been jealous of a woman with cancer that day, because she got to be loved by him. But it wasn’t that, she saw now, and as his expression of pain dissolved—was submerged by an expression of pleasure, she knew that she no longer wanted to give herself up to lead a life that had already been decided. She resisted the thought, but it came crawling back to her, sinking into her like her dread at afternoon sex with him had been. She defended herself from it by relinquishing her conscious mind to the act of fucking him one last time, one for the road and to make up for potentially ruining his life more. But as she rolled over, warm and tired, the old man came creeping back to her; and that, she knew, was what she had done to herself.

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Let's toast.

Now, I know you don't know me all that well, if at all, but I'm making a discernable effort to start on a positive note so just raise your damn glass.

Today's theme involves exhuming previous notions and casting them aside as misconceptions, although even in doing so, these new developments (un)surprisingly still lead us nowhere.

So in an attempt to follow current trends (of which I am not adept), I will smile a little retail clerk smile while I report. You know the smile. The one where they ask if you need help, judge your hair, and scoff quietly while they get you a larger size? Smarmy bastards.

Fun fact: That smile is, in fact, classified as the "Pan-American", known primarily for its use of only the Zygomaticus Major muscle and giving a look of insincerity. Pan-American…Insincere…Pan-American…Insincere. Funny that.

Moving forward! In the news:

NewScientist.com is reporting that cigarettes and coffee, contrary to popular belief, might actually be bad for you! For a long time (decades!), studies on Parkinson's disease [PD] have shown that double fisting a pack of Camels and a tumbler of Joe have an inverse correlation with the disease. However, a recent study shows that: 1. Indulging in either does appear to have an inverse association with PD. 2. The two probably do not have a direct cause and effect relationship. And, therefore: 3. The onset of Parkinson's is attributed to varying causes…

They close the study with this remark: "…relative to lung disease and heart disease, Parkinson's disease is far less common."

To that end I present you with a throwback to the early 90s: No shit, Sherlock. Eat red meat. Booze it up. Eat fiber. Drink urine. Die anyway.

Trudging along, according to Guardian Unlimited Breaking! International! News!, Turner County High School in Ashburn, Georgia (population: 4000) has decided to break tradition. So unbelievably forward thinking and progressive! I cannot bestow enough accolades upon their awesomeness. This year, for the first time, high school students will have an integrated prom!

This year. 2007 AD. For the first time, Turner County High will have a prom where students of all races are invited…All races. 2007.

Is this news breaking the fact that the United States is constantly backpedaling? Wasn't there that march in DC that one time? And wasn't there some emanci-procla-something-or-other signed 100 years before that? And didn't we learn anything from Mean Girls? C'mon! L. Lo at her finest hour! (Which is equivalent to feeling a sense of achievement from managing not to step in dog shit for once.)
Now, you might wonder why all this mumbo-jumbo has anything to do with gender at all. I could say that the intention behind shunning the discussion directly applies the notion that gender is so interconnected in society that there is no escape, much like one’s sexual history. (Impossible.) By deliberately denying face time to gender implications I am propelling the concept of society being wholly supersaturated in gender goop. I could say that. But then I would be lying. I had a mild brain fart and now I’m backpedaling in honor of my “land-of-the-free.”

My fascination with this Promenade article can be explained in simple terms: I got thinking. The prom at Turner County, like all proms, is engendered with feminine qualities. From the theme “Breakaway” a la Kelly Clarkson to the palm tree/waterfall decorations, we are clearly in straight girl paradise. Even your rabid event planning, interior decorator closet case is dreading the idea of going to prom with hag #1 in tow. Prom has and always will be considered the pinnacle of high school for the girls. So why is that? What in your gender makeup makes you want to put on a dress, break a heel on the dance floor and lose your virginity in a motel, drunk off one too many PBRs and then vomit in a toilet through mascara tears while your girlfriend holds your disheveled hair back? And, so, why has this article failed to address the girl perspective - the most passionate advocates for the largest, most lavish prom ever? Why are you interviewing your run of the mill guy who would prefer a tailgate party at a Limp Bizkit concert? Nary a quote or statement from the masterminds themselves! When did prom typify gender segregation in the years of adolescent development?

That is the news.

With that, I continue to smile and ponder in my gown, staring wide-eyed from the back of the bus. It might be a neurological disease, but who can say?

My mouth is starting to hurt.

Returning to a positive note though, a New Zealand octopus, Octi, has learned to open twist-cap soda bottles. She also likes to play by squirting liquids in her keeper's face. Speaking from experience, some people don't find that quite as amusing.

Bottoms up!

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I'm a woman. I'm a young woman. I'm a gringa. And I'm a proud gringa. I'm a gringa that stands out a LOT. I'm a post-grad. I'm a really confused post-grad. I'm both a friend and I'm a partner in a romantic relationship. I'm a friend and a partner that is asked to do a lot. I'm a friend and a partner that sometimes just wants to be the young, recently-graduated gringa doin' her thing. But I also live in a place where: domestic violence is not addressed, men are NOT nurses, there are numerous translations for the word f*g, abortion is illegal, 98% of the people are Catholic, I have yet to see two women holding hands in more than a "hey buddy" kind of way, and sex-ed is non-existent. But for some reason, I’m in a place where that brings me more excitement, hope, culture, energy, spice, and knowledge into my life than any other experience I've ever had.

At first it was the looks, the comments, the invitations, the smiles. And sometimes, even the cat calls. It was the sexiness that women exude by simply turning the corner. The odor of confidence that the men left behind them with each step. It was wearing things I had never worn. Doing things I had never done. Saying things that even as they tumbled off my own lips, made my eyes widen with surprise. In the end, it was the cambio, la transformación, the newness that had never existed before.

Then there was the guilt. The questioning and wondering. I was insecure about the quality of the security this place provided me. As a hot senorita walkin' the street, what about the obnoxious cat calls? The lingering-too-long stares? Shouldn't they piss me off? Shouldn't I shout back, make them realize how disrespectful, chauvinistic, and ignorant their gestures were? Why wasn't I upset?

With all the sureness in my voice, I will tell you that the first time I lived in Mexico (two years ago) my life was changed. With the same sureness I will say that I still don't understand the full extent of my transformation, though I sense that I will continue to figure it out far into the future. But at this point, what I do know is that my understanding of being a woman changes every day I wake up here.

I think one of the biggest revelations I’ve had is that Mexican women just really love themselves so much more than most of the women I have met before. And they love themselves in such a different way; it shows in everything they do. Naturally, our oh-so-supportive culture has made its way here from the States through the help of Paris Hilton, step class, Subway, and Slim Fast but the root of it all – the Mexican woman – is still present in everyday life: tight shirts despite the chub at the waist line, lots of makeup simply because it feels prettier, high heels to climb La Quemada, an archaeological site with steps measuring 2 feet high. It's everywhere. And for once, I felt the urge to flaunt it. To use it. To appreciate it. Granted, we've still got those who take two and a half hours to put on their fake eyelashes and another hour to get their lip liner perfect but they are less noteworthy to me in the grand scheme of things. I am surrounded by women who know how bad-ass they are and aren't afraid to show it.

Then there are the men. These damn Mexican men. One minute you can't handle the pride flowing out their ears, their pick-up lines dripping with sleaze and unoriginality, and the next…you're giggling at how romantic it can be. It's sickening. You just want them as friends, then you want them in bed, you just want them to want you, you just want to want them…doesn't matter. Hell maybe you thought you didn't even LIKE men! So many of them have so many of the words that hit you right there. They know how much they should touch you, say things to you, how often to look you in the eye. They're not afraid to hug you in public and at the same time they give you a sense of security you never knew you didn't have.

Who knows. Honestly, every day there's a new tidbit I see that brings a thousand questions to my mind. Hopefully you can tell me what you think it all means.

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Dear Fannie,

I'm a young gay guy in Montreal, Quebec. I've always been partial to the sexually liberated, and many of my friends are very open about their sexuality. I have a few friends who have done some sex work in the past and I've been thinking about pursuing some sex work myself. The problem is I don't know where to start! What kind of rules are there in sex work? Is it legal? How much should I charge? Where do I find johns?

Considering in

Thanks for a such a great question, Considering! Sex work is a touchy subject, especially amongst feminists who tend to fuel adamantly opposing camps of anti- or pro-sex trade sentiments. I am pro-sex work, but there are a lot of problems with how sex work currently works, especially for street sex work. I've decided to address this question with a multi-part How-To Guide to Sex Work intended for all genders. Note: This post does not address the legality of sex work in various parts of the world. Before engaging in sex work, be sure to read up on relevant state and federal laws.

Part I: Learning the Ropes

There are wrong ways and right ways to enter sex work. One thing to avoid at all costs: PIMPS. While the pimping of male sex workers (MSWs) is relatively rare, the majority of female street sex workers (FSWs) work under the supervision of pimps. Popular opinion situates the pimp-sex worker relationship as a mutually beneficial relationship where sex workers offer a cut of their earnings in exchange for the protection and networking skills of pimps. This is not the case for the majority of these relationships. Pimps are entrepreneurs who typically view their sex workers as products to be exploited for an easy stream of revenue with low cost. Further, I strongly recommend against doing street sex work, as street work has high incidences of violence and homicide against sex workers.

The ideal way to approach sex work is where the sex worker is one's own manager (read: sex worker as entrepreneur). Now, Considering in Quebec: being a potential male sex worker you have a certain privilege because self-managed sex work is the norm for MSWs. For all the potential FSWs or Transgender SWs out there, be your own manager! In this age of information and telecommunication, there isn't a need to have a pimp to do your scouting work for you. The best way to do sex work is through wonderful world of the internet. There are several websites which one can post adverts featuring the sexual services one is providing. Craigslist.org and rentboy.com are examples

Always be very clear when negotiating with a client exactly what kind of services he or she expects and what the price for those services will be (please note that the vast majority of clients out there are male). I'll go into negotiations later. In terms of venues, it really depends on the situation. Usually, work is split in between incalls and outcalls. Incalls are when the worker receives the client at the worker's home or apartment. Outcalls involve traveling to a location of the client's desire, usually a hotel or the client's home. Sex workers usually charge more money for outcalls, which may weigh into your decision on what kind of work to do. To give you a general idea of how much to charge, I consulted a good friend of mine who currently is doing sex work with his boyfriend. For outcalls he charges $200 per hour. "Meeting a client usually entails chatting, kissing, massage, oral sex and some hand. Anal if it's pre-agreed on, but I don't usually do anal with clients. I'll only consider it if he's a regular client of mine; and always safe."

Sex work can be a very rewarding occupation, and a great way to give your wallet that extra push. It's very possible to hold a "normal" job and do sex work on the side to augment your income. Stay tuned next week for How-to Guide to Sex Work pt. 2: Doing the Deed.

Send your questions to askfannie@gmail.com.


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New Beginnings

Although it took me a long time to even peek out the closet door at nineteen, it took less than a year for me to bravely swing it wide open. Three years later, the only thing keeping me from demolishing the closet altogether is the fact that I’ve yet to sever my gay umbilical cord and tell my parents. But for all intents and purposes, I’m out and about, and most importantly, comfortable with it, and deep down, I have a feeling that my parents are just playing the family version of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell anyway (walk-in closet game piece sold separately).

Have an English lit class analyze my seemingly successful coming-of-age story and they might brand it as the ABC Family rendition of Joy Luck Club meets Ally McBeal, an episodic and neurotic lesson-by-lesson play-by-play detailing an Asian immigrant’s post-adolescent metamorphosis in the Great White Way that is Gay America. However, unlike that winning pitch for a television series (copyrighted as of now, thank you), I have a feeling that my dive into the U.S. of Gay does not represent—or is even attractive to—the majority of my peers in the gay community… and it’s not just the fact that I’m uncomfortable in Abercrombie and Fitch or any Rodeo Drive establishment that might con me into buying a white t-shirt for more than $100. For me, the essential part of being a homosexual man is not the fashion or furniture choices I make, what music or musicals I listen to, or my ability to perfectly style my hair even if I’m just going out for a jog. I’m homosexual because I like men and I want to be with men; thus, I believe that my value in the gay community is measured in—what else?—the currency of men.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to imply that my value as a gay man is equal to my level of promiscuity, that my shares in GLBT and Company triple every time I get to third base. When I speak of the currency of men, I’m thinking in corporate lingo: I have to use factors that are measurable and quantifiable. I’ve got to cross-reference my data: how many men have I been with versus how long have I successfully been with each; how many of them have approached me versus how many of them I’ve sought on my own; and how many I’ve broken up with versus how many have parted ways with me. In short, if my value is measured in the currency of men, I’ve got to examine my dating history with a microscope... although, in my case, maybe I should be using a magnifying glass. My dating history is, well, already microscopic. If there were a Board of Review for gay dating, I’d have the following brief (aptly named) to place before the chairman and his officials:

  • 2004 / For three weeks, dated a college senior fraternity boy for three weeks; for the first time, went on a date and made out with a boy (place appropriate squeal here)
  • 2004 / For a five week summer fling, dated a twenty-three-year-old Catholic School teacher; was naïve enough to crown him with the inaugural title of My Boyfriend, which enabled him to swipe my V-card before we split
  • 2004 / For a few weeks, dated a Young College Republican until it seemed like he was a bit of a hermit... and I am one of the most anti-hermits you’ll ever meet
  • 2005 / Went on a few fun dates with the twenty-two-year-old manager of a Sprint store before having to end my summer internship and consequent fling
  • 2006 (yeah, that was all for 2005) / After having graduated college, went on a few dates with a player of a college junior who became the second person to swipe the V-card before ending almost all communication
  • 2006 / While visiting my family for Christmas, had a week-long winter affair with a friend of a friend that, of course, had to end once I went back to my post-college job away from home
  • 2007 (thus far) / For fifty days, dated a guy who was the closest thing I had since 2004 to being crowned My Boyfriend; we broke up because of several long-run dealbreakers that began to surface early in our relationship

And that’s all I have to show for my more than three years of being out: a handful of failures attributed both to personal obligations and mistakes. Whereas one of my closest friends just went on two dates each with two different guys last week. Whereas the guy who almost could’ve been My Boyfriend got a number at a grocery store parking lot last week. Whereas one of my friends with whom I danced the night away this past Friday was approached by five different guys in a matter of hours. And then there’s me—over three years, there have been a total of seven male figures in my dating history... and altogether, they make up just few months of my out-of-the-closet time. My gay value: Low. And I’m not too happy about that.

But I want to change that. I’m finishing this first column of mine just a few hours into Easter Sunday, and I don’t mind transcending my general irreligiousness to latch onto the symbolism of the occasion: This is a time for new beginnings—and part of the Perfect Twenties that I want to mold for myself is eventual success in the Department of Romance. So now that Lent is over and I can let myself access internet downloads again (as a huge music fan, believe me—it was a challenge), I’m going to make a new commitment: This time around, I’m not waiting for someone to approach me, to kick start a rise in my gay value, and raise my stakes in more ways than one. Change never came passively for the slaves, women’s suffrage, or the Emancipation of Mimi; change means realizing that something can be better and that it’s possible to act in order to better it. So I’m not just going to stand there; fuck, I’m a man who likes men—I’m going to use the cajones I’ve got and whatever it takes, I’m going to do the man thing and put my man self out there.

And by the way—you’re coming with me.

(...to the full post)

Actually, everything’s really coming together.

We’ve had a terrific number of applications for contributors just within the past few days (the plan is to have eight). Ideally we’ll have a mini-calendar available so you can anticipate updates, and the welcome page will serve as a better navigating tool for each writer. Not only that, but I caught a whiff of askfannie's upcoming post, and it’s going to be a doosie!

Here's a preview of columns to come:

• Dating columnist
• Book reviews
• Gender journal from Mexico
• Gender journal from Israel
• Serial fiction

…But can we get back to how incredible Jackie Warner is? Last night I watched my favorite show, Work Out, and swooned over her for a solid hour. I could talk about how I like the show because its characters are diverse and several represent common gender-types in society and Jackie’s presence challenges the gender norms by creating a uniquely reappropriated system of gendered power…but can we instead just talk about how hot this show is?

I want to first note that Jesse and Doug are really cute. Part of why I like them is because together they do a great job of addressing a few gay generational differences. One of my favorite moments was when they "had it out" to talk about their shared drama. Jesse was apologizing for something and I thought Doug (albeit a plastered Doug) was going to cry. Instead he followed with the half-joking "Want to come home with me?...Are you top or bottom?" right-hook and I was a little bit shocked. It almost seems like Doug's comment summarizes how a significant portion of his generation of gay men communicate. In Doug's hayday, romantic relations between guys were almost entirely governed by role.

But mostly, Doug was just being adorable. And I still can't believe he's actually dead. And what I really can't believe is how the reason for his death isn't talked about at all, anywhere. In a [fantastic] interview with Jesse and Brian, they reference that he "had been sick". Just say it. AIDS. It does more harm to not say it.

But the real deal here is the Jackster. Every time she talks to a woman she finds even mildly attractive the flirting just unloads in buckets. The sexual tension between Jackie and other characters on the show is so exhilarating it almost makes up for the fact that (real) lesbian porn does not exist. Jackie should abandon her gym and start a new company called Sky Labia. Zing!

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Welcome, welcome. Toughbot, here -- a mechanized version of toughstuff, designed to bring you general information and announcements related to the blog. My primary contributions will be to provide weekly updates ("Housekeeping") that include interesting news, notes about new folks joining the BTB team, and also -- in several months -- announce new "beltcasts", or Below the Belt podcasts, that are accessible from a widget on the right side of our page.

We hope that in addition to reading our forum allll the time, you will sincerely consider applying to be a contributor. New writers (guest contributors) typically write 600-800 word posts once a month or so, and if we like you (and you like us) there's a possibility to fill one of the glorified bimonthly slots left ("?" on the front page). Simply drop us a line at either toughstuff@belowthebelt.org or askfannie@belowthebelt.org.

(...to the full post)

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