Archive for June, 2016

These days it seems like history of sex is always happening in real time.  This week, we witnessed yet another key moment in this history.  On Monday, in a fierce reaction to the horrific shooting at Pulse Nightclub, Obama officially declared 7.7 acres of New York’s Greenwich Village as the Stonewall National Monument.  This is the first memorial named for the gay-rights movement of America and is (hopefully) a significant step towards a nationwide acceptance of the marginalized LGBTQ community.Stonewall_Inn_6_pride_weekend_2016

For those of you born post-1985 (ahem, millennials) you may be shocked to hear about the harshly homophobic laws in place in New York in the 1950s & 60s.  At the time, it was illegal to serve alcohol to anyone who was openly gay and/or transgendered so LGBTQ New Yorkers had to find inclusive and secretive places to drink and party.

Stonewall_Inn_1969The Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in the bohemian Greenwich Village was run by the mafia and in 1966 it became an (unofficial) gay bar.  The clientele was 98% men: gay men, drag queens and sometimes homeless youth.  Basically any members of the LGTBQ community who could not easily blend into regular NY society.  As you can imagine this led to quite an outspoken and unapologetic group of patrons. 

In those days, New York police were notoriously raiding different bars around town and arresting patrons, owners and staff.  Police and politicians would often go so far as to have the names and photos of those arrested printed in the newspaper, outing them for all to see.  Any man in a dress without the genitalia to match would be arrested and if a female patron was not wearing three articles of “women’s” clothing, she would be arrested too.  Police back then did not have iPhone cameras filming them so I don’t even want to imagine how rough they were on duty.Stonewall_riots

The mafia owners of the Stonewall Inn paid off the police to avoid interference in their business and therefore were usually warned if a raid was coming.  However, on June 28th 1969 (47 years ago this week!!) police conducted an impromptu raid on the Stonewall Inn and things did not go as planned.  The patrons bravely fought back against the police, numerous arrests were made, people got hurt, and riots ensued.  Almost all of this action was happening out in public, on the streets of New York, for all to see. 

stonewall-trans_arrest_corbis3058_t600This event sparked protests that began the very next night on Christopher Street, with people chanting “Drag Power!” “Legalize Gay Bars!”.  This trend quickly raised awareness of the discrimination faced every day by the LGBTQ community.  Following in the footsteps of civil rights and the women’s liberation movement, the gays of New York finally found their voice and inspired the entire country to stand up for themselves.

A year later on June 28th 1970, the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots,People celebrate outside the Stonewall Inn, late in the night in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York the first Gay Pride parades were held in New York, LA and Chicago.  The next year they spread to Boston, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm.  Today all over the world Gay Pride parades are held around this time of year because of these awful events at the Stonewall Inn, a true monument to the history of Gay Pride.

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I’m a social media person / business / entity. I have been for many years. Yet as the days, months and years grow, so do the number of social media platforms to keep up with. It makes my head spin. I guess the nagging question for me lately is WHY?

Like most of you in small business, or just trying to stay in the know, I spend countless hours tweeting, posting, clicking, drafting, composing, photographing, dictating, responding to…and for what? Sure, I’ve made a lot of ‘friends’ and have garnered a fair number of ‘likes’. I even have a substantial bunch of ‘followers’. But as a frustrated and outraged Tom Cruise blurted in the 1996 film, Jerry Maguire, SHOW ME THE MONEY. 

Enter cynicism.

If I was getting paid for all the hours spent on social media marketing, I would be a wealthy woman today. So why aren’t I? What exactly does Twitter, Facebook and Instagram do for me besides allowing me to play well with others, be more popular because I am ‘on’ those ever growing sites and apps? Sure, it gives me a presence that followers can (should) equate to profit of some sort, whether it’s items sold or jobs acquired. But that rarely seems to happen.

In defence of social media, I have made connections with people I never would have met otherwise, and have even done some successful and exciting collaborations with gifted creatives who have helped pave the way for new opportunities. But, as great as those experiences were, none of them actually brought an onslaught of fame or fortune, nor steady interest or income.

I know, it’s not all about the money, but even though I love what I do, I do work to make money. Time is money. My time is valuable. Lately I am really questioning the worth of this thing called social media.

I spoke to someone the other day about my newest blog post, commenting that I only got one ‘like’ on Facebook, which seemed unusual. She replied that yeah, Facebook probably changed their algorithm. They do that sometimes. So, guess who really holds the power and makes all the money, but we knew that, right?

Instagram is not exactly designed for writers but of course I have been told it’s the ‘platform’ to use now, so off I go to Instagram. I get the odd ‘heart’ and the very odd new ‘follower’. Big fucking deal. Again, she says it takes time. She got 33 ‘hearts’ on her recent post. Again, I say big fucking deal. Then what do we get? (By the way, she’s very good at social media. I’m just being the (frustrated) devils advocate here.)

But seriously, think why you are doing it. Is it because everyone else is doing it, because it is an expected part of living in 2016? What does it do for you in the grand scheme of things? I know, many of you are saying ‘give it time…it takes time to build a social media presence’, etc, etc. For me it’s been six years of time. Some of that time was trial and error – a huge learning curve. But the last two or three years have been more focussed and on task with still very little yield.

I am the cynic today. I question the validity of social media marketing and it’s worth. Are we just a bunch of robots, sheep following the herd?

If I were to go off of social media altogether, would I be missed? Probably not. I would disappear along with a billion others, into the ether.   ML

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The History of Sex – Part 209 – The Girl from Astoria

Posted on: June 23rd, 2016 by Madison Lake 1 Comment

Yesterday we celebrated the birthday of one of America’s original trailblazing feminist pop stars of the 1980s, Ms.Cyndi Lauper.  Honouring her True Colors, as usual, the fashionista rang in her 63rd birthday with pink hair and a concert in Birmingham, England. Cyndi Lauper

Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper was born and raised in Astoria, Queens and started making music with her first guitar at age twelve.   She was always a punky little rebel dying her hair brightly and changing the spelling of her name from Cindy to Cyndi. 

She left home at 17, fleeing her abusive stepdad, and lived in the woods of Canada alone with her dog, Sparkle, for 2 weeks.  After that she started a new life in Vermont, studying art at college and working odd jobs.  She started her

Photo studio de Cyndi LAUPER

musical career in the early 70s as a singer in cover bands.  In 1978 she damaged her vocal chords and had to take a year off singing to recover- this early damage could have led to the signature Cyndi rasp that we know today.

Her first original band was the retro-rockabilly “Blue Angel” which released a self title album in 1980.  The album was a flop, they fired their manager, he sued them, the band broke up, and Cyndi ended up bankrupt and band-less at the age of 27.  To make matters worse she got a cyst in her vocal chords and temporarily lost her voice, again.

Not long after these unfortunate events, Cyndi was discovered singingcl 80s in a New York bar in 1981 and signed a new record contract as a solo artist.  She released “She’s So Unusual” in 1983 and became an instant star.  The album was nominated for six Grammy Awards and won two, one of which was Best New Artist.

The most memorable mega-hit off the album was, of course,  “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, a 1980s anthem for women everywhere.  With lyrics that celebrate how girls are able to work and have fun, Cyndi has called the song “blatantly feminist”.  In 1984, the short film-like music video was nominated for six MTV Video Music Awards and won one for Best Female Vtony awardideo.  Another exciting and slightly controversial song on the album was “She-Bop”, an ode to female masturbation, with not so subtle lyrics like “I’m picking up a good vibration” and “They say I better stop or I’ll go blind”.   The song was included on the Parents Music Resource Center’s “Filthy Fifteen” list of naughty songs that also included songs by artists such as Prince, Madonna and AC/DC.  The music video was filled with double entendres and sexual imagery and, to add fuel to the conservative fire, Lauper claims to have recorded the vocal tracks while in the nude.

In a career that spans more than 3 decades, Cyndi’s debut album is still her best selling, but this star did not burn out like many famous 1980s pop sensations so easily did.  Since 1983 Cyndi has been consistently releasing albums, acting on stage and screen (winning an Emmy for her appearance on Mad About You) and more recently producing and writing Cyndi-Lauper-Barbiefor Broadway.  She wrote the score for the hit musical Kinky Boots and in 2013 was the first solo woman to earn a Tony award in the category.  In 2010 Cyndi was immortalized as a doll by having a “Ladies of the 80’s” Barbie modelled after her. 

An outspoken LGBTQ advocate from day one, Cyndi has performed at various Pride celebrations and in 2008 she founded the True Colors Fund to raise money for and awareness of the issues of LGBTQ youth homelessness.     pride cyndi

She remains one of only 20 artists to have won a Grammy, Tony and Emmy, achieving “GET” status in the award circuit.  The good news is that this pink-haired trailblazer shows no sign of slowing down.  Last month she kicked off an international tour promoting her latest album, Detour.  No matter how old she is, she is still proving that “when the working day is done, oh girls, they wanna have fun.”

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For some reason this topic has come up a lot in conversation lately. I’m not sure why. It might be because I write erotic romance so people are interested in what that means, what it is. Where the line is drawn or more specifically, where I draw the line.

That’s easy, but let’s explore the issue first.

Definition of erotica:

1 : literary or artistic works having an erotic theme or quality.

2 : depictions of things erotic.

3 : literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire

Definition of pornography:

1 : sexually explicit videos, photographs, writings, or the like, whose purpose is to elicit sexual arousal.

2 : printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.

3 :  the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction <the pornography of violence>

So in short, pornography is a show all and tell all. Erotica is a tease.

Personally, I’d rather be teased. I get no pleasure in seeing body parts in their raw and open form, seeing the act of intercourse or fellatio or anal sex at close range. It doesn’t mean it’s vulgar because our bodies are not vulgar nor is sex vulgar. I personally just don’t enjoy seeing it depicted in that form, however, I’m also not interested in banning or prohibiting porn.

Lately, I’ve been more aware of how television is becoming pornography in its own way. Nothing is left to the imagination anymore. There are so many shows I like. They have all the formulaic ingredients: action, adventure, who done its, love, sex, violence. But each of those categories is getting more and more explicit. When the ‘bad guy’ is killed, rather than shooting the scene right up to the moment of murder, the murder is shown in its entirety – being bludgeoned with an axe or stabbed multiple times. You can hear the skull crack, you see blood spurt, you see the violence in the killers eyes. It is so real and so explicit it’s frightening. Does it have to be so graphic?

Nothing is left to imagine, to fantasize, to wonder about. They have shown us everything. Our limits have been pushed to the max and we as audiences now expect this type of visual entertainment. Just think how this is shifting our consciousness into some extreme level of what could be considered ‘normal’. But I digress…

Why do we (as audiences) want to see more, see it all? It seems once you go down that road, you seek more and more. You are never satiated. Perhaps that’s human nature?

Reading a good book (erotic or not) leads you along a page turning journey, pulls you through the story by what is ultimately going to happen, intrigued all along the way. Even when all is revealed, there is still so much left to imagine because somehow all has not been revealed. 

Good erotica doesn’t give it all away. It can be explicit but (in my opinion) if written or filmed or photographed well, it has the nuance of sex, the ‘just the right amount’ to make you squirm.

I write romance with an edge. I write titillating. I enjoy writing the stories most of all, and if the stories are sassy and sexy and provocative, that’s okay. My line is easily drawn.

 

Music Monday

Posted on: June 20th, 2016 by Madison Lake No Comments

Another Monday has rolled around. How does that happen? It seems Monday just visited and poof. Back again! Time. It slips past us when we least expect it, which is why we have to take it all in all of the time. Enjoy another Monday, folks. Keep it going…all day, all night.