Sex Lit: Joanna Angel’s Night Shift

Last year we did three editions of Sex Lit—a book club, meeting in Gowanus, Brooklyn. We started with Story of the Eye, continued with The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, and closed with Story of O.

Some books on the list for future events:

Laura Antoniou’s The Marketplace

Nicholson Baker’s House of Holes

J G Ballard’s Crash

Colette’s The Pure and the Impure

Guy New York’s The Island on the Edge of Normal

Henry Miller’s Under the Roofs of Paris

Anais Nin’s Spy in the House of Love

Charlotte Roche’s Wetlands

The next Sex Lit will feature adult performer and porn company owner Joanna Angel’s Night Shift—a choose your own adventure erotic novel. The author will appear for a q&a during the event.

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BOOK CLUB: 2/18
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House of Scorpio
presents
Sex Lit: Stoya’s Book Club
with special guest Joanna Angel
Sunday, Feb 18*, 6-9pm, $20 (limited tickets), 21+ (25+ suggested)
Gemini & Scorpio Loft in Gowanus, BK – see site for address
No PAL or dress code requirement, but HoS Code of Conduct always applies
The body’s largest sex organ is the brain. Come stimulate yours with a rousing discussion of an explicitly erotic book led by pornographer Stoya. Drinking encouraged throughout, and mingling will follow the talk.
Your book for this edition of Sex Lit is Night Shift: A Choose-Your-Own Erotic Fantasy penned by Joanna Angel, founder of adult company BurningAngel and award-winning adult actress and director. Joanna herself is also our special guest for the event! She will participate in the discussion, with Stoya as moderator, and stay after for photos and signing.
Book summary: After graduating college, Taryn finds herself lost and uncertain of what to do next. With a self-imposed friendless and sexless life, Taryn unexpectedly winds up working the graveyard shift at Dreamz, a seedy sex shop. Your mission: in a sketchy world filled with tissues, gallons of lube, sex toys, tiger print, and swinger parties, help Taryn choose her way as she learns what happens in this small, unexpectedly kinky town. From butt plugs to cross-dressing truckers to being held-up at gunpoint over dildos, experience this fun and sexy journey along with Taryn, as she goes from shy and sweet to skilled and empowered— but how she gets there is up to you.
This should be obvious, but: read the book before joining the book club! In this case, the book only gets released on Feb 13, so you may want to pre-order for fastest delivery.

Loop

It was still there, years later. That immediate magnetic comfort. When I did pull away from our hug I didn’t pull away by much. Our faces stayed close together for long enough to wonder if they might kiss me, if we did kiss whether it would still feel like inhaling some kind of balmy cloud. The attraction hadn’t waned at all.

———

I’d thought he might kiss me after the show. I had my arms wrapped around his neck, we were swaying gently, his eyes looked so large because his face was so close to mine. He didn’t.

I’d thought he might kiss me when he came into my apartment. I’d also thought he might kiss me two hours in, with my leg draped over his and my face snuggled into his neck. Finally, four hours after he’d arrived, he kissed my cheek and made a move towards my mouth. I held his head in place with both hands and met his lips with mine.

His tongue thrust into my mouth. I flattened my own tongue against the bottom of his, enjoying feeling so open. Or maybe the feeling was opened. Every muscle in my body relaxed, towards him. I thought “This is the kind of kiss you dream of capturing on pornography.”

He said something about how he remembered that weekend so vividly. I said “What weekend?” and immediately regretted it. I could see in his face that he’d thought I was serious. “I’m sorry—I shouldn’t have been flippant. I remember the weekend you’re talking about relatively well.”

———

We’d spent every possible hour together, outside of work and a wedding. We’d hooked up, had sex, lounged talking with skin pressed against skin. He’d found it romantic, the way I was bouncing from hotel to hotel. I’d felt near-disastrously irresponsible—what gainfully employed adult can’t manage to secure long term housing quickly?

I’d written about it afterwards, around the time I started taking capitalization seriously. It was the first—but far from last—time I zoomed in on the joys of all the kinds of touching that aren’t directly sexual. It was the first time I tried to pen in with words that gravitational pull of ease.

CC 4.0 BY-NC-SA

To Roll an R

“Radno Vreme,” said the sign on the front of the shop. I assumed it meant something about hours of working, from context.

“Vrlo rado,” said my brain, which insisted on drawing a connection that isn’t really there. Many words that have to do with work begin with “rad” but not all words that begin with “rad” pertain to work. A big chunk of them pertain to rejoicing.

My mother used to warn me not to take out a map on the sidewalk in any city. The concern being that I might as well shout “I’m not from here, take my wallet.”

That particular issue hasn’t occurred since the spread of smartphones and high data speeds, but I did one better yesterday; I pulled out a thick hardcover English/Serbian dictionary on the sidewalk to look up ‘vreme.’

It means time, in case you’re curious.

———

I have a list of projects I intended to think on while I’m here. I had all these plans of sitting down and carving out structures, marketing plans, feasibility projections.

Now that I’m in Belgrade, all I want to do is, well, be here. I’m sure this is complicated by the fact that I’m off my ADHD medication, due to the way the US handles controlled substances and the amount of time I’m out of the country for. Without those pills, I struggle to maintain a linear thread of thought.

Of course, without them I also have an appetite and am better hydrated. And I lived without them for over 30 years.

———

Anyhow, I’m here, I’m happy, and my Serbian language skills are atrocious. Off to register with the Serbian workshop my friend Carol recommended I go.

-Stoya

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Acting

I’ve always had a thing about the term “porn actor.” The phrase never felt accurate when applied to my work. Sure, some of the on-camera talent in pornography thinks of what they do as acting, but I don’t. I think of my day job as performing.

Yes, many of the scenes I’ve done during my career contain what we refer to as “set-up” or dialogue. This precursor to sex is usually treated as secondary and the more vocal consumers often express derision for it. The shooting conditions rarely allow for more than a handful of takes per angle. There’s no rehearsal.

The actual sex scenes are easiest to do all in one take. Every pause or stop reduces the energy. They’re more like a feat of athletic prowess. The bulk of the story—a very simple one that focuses on physical sexuality—is told with the body, not the mouth. This makes performing in porn more like dancing to me than acting.

So then why am I talking about acting? I’ve done some.

———

A couple of years ago I went to Serbia to make a movie. (Lazar Bodroza and Dimitrije Vojnov’s Ederlezi Rising, releasing 2018) I’d agreed to do the project based on a five-page treatment. It sounded like a challenge, and I like Serbia.

Securing the funding took years. There were rehearsals and coaching and screen tests before the actual shoot, and the actor I’d initially worked with was replaced.

Just before we began principal photography, we had another week of rehearsals. We tried each scene multiple ways, with different sets of blocking. I had to learn a few simple martial arts moves, and how to safely perform them, so we drilled that all week as well.

We shot an average of two scenes per day. When we thought we’d gotten the shot, everyone would gather around the monitor to watch it. One time I noticed that my hand was contradicting both my statements and the rest of my body language, so we re-did the scene.

Days were almost exactly twelve hours. There was a single instance of overtime at the request of both the lead actor and I, and we were only granted one more take, so only a few minutes. Everything was precise.

———

From late October to late November, I was in a play. (Ian W. Hill and Dean Haspiel’s Harakiri Kane or Die! Die, Again!!) It started with a reading in Phil Cruise’s living room so Dean could hear the play out loud. Then Phil asked if I’d participate in a public reading. Apparently these things are useful for feedback.

Later, around the time Ian decided to direct the show, they asked if I’d be interested in doing theater. It sounded like a challenge, and by this point I liked the people who were involved.

I read with potential lead actors during casting. We did another private reading and rehearsed. About a week and a half before the show opened we did a run-through as a group. That was when I realized I was about to be in a play, in New York City, with a bunch of experienced and well trained people. I started to get nervous.

See, there’s no doing it over or checking your script in live theater. There’s no “let me try it a different way since the timing didn’t quite land on that one.” There’s no “oops, when do I talk?” You have to remember your lines, blocking, which emotions change at what points, and—the most difficult for me—to project your voice.

A few minutes before the house opened for the first show I started to feel the physical symptoms of nervousness—the dizziness, pounding heart, sweat. They stopped when the show started. Weirdly, they came back about 15 minutes after I got home. Like the adrenaline of showtime had given me a pause but not a reprieve.

I started to relax around halfway through the ten show run. The last show, of course, is where I did my best work.

———

It turns out there’s a commonality with all three types of work (pornography, video acting, and stage acting) of being in the present moment, in the little bubble contained by the viewer or lens. If they can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

I was surprised by the differences between video and stage acting. Stage is much more difficult, but the sense of accomplishment is stronger and occurs after every show. There’s a stronger connection to the audience and there’s immediate feedback. Both can be very fun with the right people.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I don’t tend towards flowery speeches of gratitude. I am grateful to every person who came to see the show. A full house that is engaged with what they’re seeing makes the experience of performing that much better. An audience that participates—gasps, cringes, laughs—is the best reward.

Thank you.

-Stoya

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Friend Love

I’m so happy F was there to meddle. I wanted to reach out earlier this year but I could see from the internet that you were busy with hugely important political work. I was afraid of introducing turmoil into your life when you seemed already swamped.

When F came up and asked if I’d like to talk to you I said what I’ve been saying for months, which was “if she would like to talk to me.”

I didn’t want to make a scene in the middle of Molly’s birthday party. I watched from across the apartment while he asked if you were willing to come to me in the kitchen.

As soon as I saw you nod your head in assent my face crumpled up in that ugly-happy way that photographs terribly because it’s so genuine.

It felt like the conclusion to a Lifetime drama about estranged friends. I suppose that’s a sign of how epically I’ve missed you.

A wise science fiction writer once said something along the lines of real being what doesn’t disappear when you stop looking at it. I was pleasantly surprised to find you hadn’t disappeared. That we haven’t disappeared.

I know you did the best you could last year. Intellectually I’ve always known that, it just took a very long time for the rest of me to get there. I floated home and can barely wait to catch up properly.

Love, I hug you, I kiss you. I’m so happy to have you in my life again.

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Belgrade, I Love

We’d just returned to my apartment from a museum. They turned to me and asked “If you could do anything you wanted to right now, what would it be?”

I didn’t even have to think about it. I would go to Belgrade and walk in a spiral.

Belgrade makes me vibrate. There’s no other way to describe it. Every time I enter the place it’s akin to a religious experience. I miss it when I’m gone, flipping through my cyrillic flashcards as a poor substitute.

(Not to imply that learning another alphabet is wasted time.)

The first time I went to Belgrade I remember thinking there was a brittle sort of joy. Mine or theirs doesn’t matter so much as the fact that the second I landed at Nikola Tesla airport I wanted to hug the concrete sidewalk.

The weather was cold and I kept to the new side. All I did was walk around the residential area, talk with the hotel’s bartenders, and breathe the air.

Belgrade makes me feel more alive. So alive that other times in other cities feel like a disappearing dream, or some lukewarm pantomime of living.

The second time I went to Belgrade the weather was warm and I stayed around the corner from the former US Embassy (it was vacated after being set on fire a couple of times during a war.) I was happy to just lay on the floor in the late evening, listening to the city wind down.

Frankly, Belgrade makes me feel like I do when I’m fucking—the sensory input of something as simple as a gentle breeze lights up the nerve endings in my skin.

I remember noticing that I was free to walk around without harassment, that catcalls and wolf whistles were (delightfully) absent. It was the same in Greece and Turkey.

During my third visit I felt so safe I finally was able to fall apart, something that had been a long time coming. I had responsibilities at home, but leaving as scheduled is one of my deepest regrets.

I want to know the city deeply, memorize its streets and small landmarks, be able to visualize its monuments when I close my eyes.

Beograd volim te, will you ever feel like mine?

If you were subscribed to my Tiny Letter you’d have received this via email.

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But What is Porn-Porn?

Apneatic was in my kitchen the other day. She’s a human nude model, not a personification of sleep disorder.

She was describing a shoot she’d done recently, and Steve Prue said he didn’t realize she’d started shooting porn-porn (as opposed to soft-porn, art-porn, sort-of-porn.) Both of us turned to him all like “That isn’t really porn-porn,” prompting him to ask what the demarcation line of porn-porn is.

I shouted, as I do, that it’s only really porn when you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about a spelling error on the 2257 age verification documents. It’s only really porn when you dread some kind of cop busting in demanding to see that paperwork.

It’s only really porn when VISA gives you a hard time and AmEx won’t even touch you. When you don’t know when your bank account might be closed, much less have any chance of getting a small business loan.

When you’re shut out of PayPal, paying ~13% instead of ~3% for a payment processor. When Big Cartel will host your store but you can’t sell videos because that violates Stripe’s TOS.

When you’re unsearchable on Patreon/Tumblr/etc., waiting for Facebook or some armchair hacker to out your legal name—making it easier for strangers to call every aspect of you garbage, instead of just your public persona.

I’d add it’s only really porn when doctors routinely insist on an even fresher HIV test than the  one you just had done the prior week, but that’s specific to on-camera talent.

Clearly, I’m a bit tired of art dudes collecting the street cred of pornography while knowing that they can talk their way out of trouble if they shoot in the streets, while Kickstarting their books, while keeping their mainstream clients.

Even though a lot of those dudes are acquaintances, and some them are close friends and confidants. Their nipples are not a deleting offense on Instagram, and mine are.

It isn’t about sharing the suffering so much as it is sharing the effort to get access to the same level of infrastructure that media companies who broadcast hardcore violence or hateful misogyny get to use.

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Before I installed a sufficient buffer in between myself and the comments section, I noticed some things. The most topical being the way that my smiles and laughter during sex scenes resonate with some people as “not how real women have sex” or just “fake.”

The thing is—I tend to be even more giggly off camera. A and I are particularly boisterous together. Learning the knack of spanking seems to be only as high of a priority for him as blowing a solid raspberry.

(I’m into it, in case that wasn’t clear.)

Last night though, mid finger stroke across my clitoris, A said something about Uber.

Immediately my mind jumped to some discussion of Jon Ronson’s audio-only piece on Manwin (currently operating under the name MindGeek), piracy, and independent pornography. My vulva went “NOOOOO, we’re doing something fun” while my brain went “80% of pornography is viewed through them. MONOPOLY.”

And, you know, monopolies aren’t particularly sexy to me. He quipped about only name-dropping Lyft or Juno from now on when we’re in a bed, and the laugh was as good for me as the orgasm that followed.

Stoya x Team Rockstar

Steve Prue and I made a book…

…called Stoya x Team Rockstar…

…published by and available at Bad Books Ltd.

Limited run of 500, and I’ll have special editions with the original instant photos available in Chicago at Exxxotica.

xo

Stoya

 

Are You There God? It’s Me, Stoya.

Before Wonderlust started I had most of a day with nothing scheduled in Helsinki. Mitcz sent me a couple of lists of things to see. A Finnish burlesque performer named LouLou D’Vil reminded me that walking can be fun by pointing out how walkable Helsinki is. Steve Prue (my platonic domestic partner) emphasized the Temppeliaukio Church—I’m uncertain about whether he wanted to live vicariously or wanted me to see something specific there.

So I walked over to it. Even though the sky was intermittently pouring rain and hail. Perhaps because it was—when in Rome/when in Finland, yes?

The Temppeliaukio church is carved into rock. It’s Lutheran, which is a branch of Christianity I’m unfamiliar with. The ceiling is a giant coil of copper, ringed with windows. I laid on a pew to look up more easily.

My memory tossed up two things: Rebecca West’s descriptions of the underground worship spaces she reported as being Bogomil (bog is generally slavic for god, and the Bogomils were a Christian sect that was considered heretical) and the boisterous fire & brimstone church my family went to when I was very young.

———

That church practiced a form of the laying on of hands, but the thing is they didn’t actually touch people until they’d already begun falling backwards. Whole lines of adult humans would be gently guided onto the floor as they started twitching and babbling in guttural syllables.

Whether you believe in a god or not, what sent those people keeling over was the intensity of their faith in one. Other strong themes included our bodies as temples of the lord which should be cared for as such, and the concept of being called. If a member felt moved (by the hand of the lord) to the pulpit then it was believed they should preach from it.

———

Back under the copper coil, I wondered what the Lutheran God would think of my work and of the fact that I had felt called to it. Since the practice of candle-lighting in Catholicism always seemed like a way of attaching a high-priority flag to a message to god, and there were candles on the wall, I lit one.

———

As a child, I thought these adults flailing on the floor were driven by the same intensity that made me into a perpetual hyperactivity machine. School looked like a process of removing intensity, therefore adults must need somewhere that they could be intense, and this speaking in tongues must be it.

A few years later, sex sounded like exactly the same thing—a place where adults were allowed to get their intensity out. However, I would not have been able to articulate this at the time.

———

Back under the copper coil, I remembered being wrist deep in Jiz Lee a few years ago. I felt as though I was touching the inside of god. My hand inside Jiz in my memory was touching the inside of god, my body contained in the rock was inside a representation of god.

Because whether you believe in a god or not, I believe it is important to understand how powerful beliefs and intentions can be. Those two things with little else can create and destroy entire worlds. They can unite people, and turn us against each other. They can do things so incredible they might as well be magic.

———

Are you there god? It’s me, Stoya.