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Sex Criminals (2013)

ajazmine2Two people who stop time when they orgasm team up to rob banks is Sex Criminals’ basic premise. Written by Matt Fraction with art by Chip Zdarsky, it’s a fairly new comic that’s been getting a lot of attention. The book sounds like it will be a fun sci-fi romp. And it really is. There’s chase scenes and puns and a musical sequence, but there’s more to it than that. It’s about sex and all its weirdness. How awkward it is. How if you have really, really compatible sex with someone after years of feeling isolated by your time-stopping superpowers, it can be hard not to feel like maybe you should spend all your time with that person.

The books centers on two characters: Suzi and Jon. Suzi is a librarian who happens to love sex. Masturbation is a way for her to escape her grief following the murder of her father. She refers to the time-stopped world she reaches through having an orgasm as The Quiet and retreats there when things got too loud. In contrast, Jon mostly uses his power to cause mayhem at a local sex store, Cum World, which he names his time-stopped world after.

Since this is a series about sex, with an issue focusing on a teenage boy’s adventures in a sex shop, the narrative naturally touches on sex workers—in this case, a porn star by the name of Jazmine St. Cocaine. And while I do love this series, and have been recommending it like mad to anyone who will listen, issue two offended me enough that I wrote to the creative team when I first read it a few months ago.

Interview with Stoya

When I first saw a clip of Stoya in action, I was awestruck. She was the only female porn performer I’d ever seen who genuinely seemed to be enjoying it—smiling, even laughing a little, and simply radiating happiness. With her pale cheeks flushed pink and her dark hair slapping up and down around her face, she made little pleased noises instead of letting out a forced litany of “dirty talk” while some male performer (can’t remember a thing about him) went to town. I’m not an expert on her body of work, which has earned her AVN’s 2009 Best New Starlet award, but I do know that both those in the industry and casual fans alike all seem to regard her as intelligent, multitalented, and sincere. You can confirm this for yourself by checking out her twitter feed or her tumblr.

She graciously agreed to answer the following questions over email.

Stoya in a self-made skirt at AVN. Photo by Jeff Koga.

HIV Scare in the Adult Industry Gives Michael Weinstein Another Chance to Act Like a Hypocrite

istockphoto/Pederk

On August 29th, my shoot was cancelled, and I had the day off from work because someone in Florida had tested positive for HIV. This is the bizarre result of working in an industry in which we necessarily disclose our sero-status to our coworkers, and negative STI test results are prerequisite for employment.

A few days later, the performer was retested. Results came up negative this time—a false positive result occurs occasionally when samples are contaminated—and business resumed. However, this latest HIV scare fueled the ongoing debate over mandated condom use and industry safety practices.

Two Excerpts From Coming Out Like A Porn Star

(Photo by Alexa Vachon)
(Photo by Alexa Vachon)

Coming Out Like A Porn Star is an anthology edited by award winning indie porn talent and author Jiz Lee consisting of essays by porn performers and industry workers on privacy and disclosure. It was featured by Reason’s‘ Elizabeth Nolan Brown as one of the best sex work books of 2015. Foreworded by renowned Black porn scholar Dr. Mireille Young, the book includes pieces by celebrated porn mainstays such as Stoya and Annie Sprinkle, as well as work by Tits and Sass’ own contributors and interviewees such as Kitty Stryker, Conner Habib, Tobi Hill-Meyer, and Cyd Nova. The collection spans a wide array of porn experiences from writers of color, trans and queer authors, and performers from every branch of the industry. With Lee’s permission, we excerpt two exciting essays by authors who are new to us, “Queen Beloved” by Milcah Halili and “Even Someone Like Me: How I Came Out As A Smut Starlet” by Betty Blac. They both feature stories of the authors communicating with their sex worker writer idols, so we were immediately hooked.

The Feminist Porn Book (2013)

Feminist_Porn4I’ve seen the question “where is women’s porn, made for women” before, and I’ve seen it answered, but I’ve rarely seen the question “where is black porn, made for black women?” The Feminist Porn Book asks that question and answers it, as well as others: where is feminist porn made for trans women, for fat women, for women with disabilities? This is not tokenism, but rather an attack on heteronormativity from all angles.

The Feminist Porn Book is both refreshing and challenging right off the bat—it announces its title in big yellow letters on its bright pink cover, the proud opposite of discreet brown paper bag packaging. The volume, clocking in at 432 pages, allows enough room to create a delightful blend of the academic and the historical, the personal and the political, mouthy smut with lengthy footnotes. It situates feminist pornography in its rich history in its first section, from Betty Dodson crashing a Women Against Pornography meeting in her leathers to Susie Bright inventing the genre of porn movie review. Then it gets into the meat of the book, which branches off into many herstories and histories, into the many different politicized identities, theories, and sexualities that make up our porn today; bringing womanism, intersectionality, and labor analysis back to porn while not settling for the more facile simplifications of “sex positivity”.