- Xtra West article - Expanding Community: Mayhem's New Definition of Queer
- QueerPorn.tv press release - 2012 AVN Awards
- WE (formerly Westender) cover story - Born This Way: Transmen Let it All Hang Out
- Capilano Courier featured column - Sexual Healing
- Maclean's article - When Boys Would Rather Not Be Boys
Select Video: (YouTube links)
- OutlookTV interviews the sTeam Collective
- QueerPorn.tv interviews Charlie Spats
- Good Dyke Porn: post-scene interview with Miss Pussy Liquor & Charlie Spats
- Good Dyke Porn: post-scene interview with Montgomery & Charlie Spats
XTRA WESTExpanding Community: Mayhem's New Definition of Queer
May 17, 2012
Vancouver's preeminent leatherdyke play parties have broadened their guest lists to welcome members of the queer community not previously included.
Well known and appreciated in kink circles for their regular sex-positive play parties, Mayhem's events were previously geared primarily toward women, though past and future women were also welcome, thereby including some trans people.
But for the last two years, organizers have been experimenting with a broader vision of community. Now, queers of all expressions on the gender and sexuality spectrums will join those women and trans people who felt comfortable within the original parameters to create a broader sex-positive space for all.
For Mayhem organizers Arleigh and Mel, the move toward greater inclusivity stems from a desire to welcome all their kinky queer friends at their parties.
"When we first started [throwing Mayhem parties], we started with the idea of throwing a party that we really wanted to go to. And what we've discovered over the years is that a number of our friends were actually not coming out because they didn't feel like they met the descriptors," explains Arleigh, who asked that only her first name be used for fear of professional repercussions in a world still prone to misunderstanding and stigmatizing kink.
"But in 2010 we shifted the language to just say that it was a queer party, and that meant that gay men, trans men, bisexual men and anyone who identified as queer -- male or female, any gender -- could come," she continues.
"It was really a success," says Mel, who echoed Arleigh's request to use only her first name.
"So many people were just so enthusiastic about us opening it up, and so we just haven't looked back," Mel adds.
Arleigh says the broader, more inclusive definition of queer is consistent with Mayhem's original mandate to provide a safe, fun, sex-positive party space for all.
Mayhem regular Pussy Liquor says she, too, has been actively carving out all-inclusive, queer, sex-positive spaces with the sTeam Collective, which hosts gender-inclusive bathhouse nights.
"It makes me feel more welcome and included in queer communities when parties open themselves up to a wider array of genders and sexualities," Liquor explains.
"If I feel more welcome and included at events that are open and inclusive, then I'm pretty sure other people feel the same way," she adds.
"The events I'm focused on are for people who fall outside of the traditional 'men for men' or 'women for women' events that happen in the queer community," Liquor continues. "That's a pretty diverse group of people: some who are trans, some who are cisgender, and some who are either in between or outside those definitions."
"The sTeam Collective creates a safe, sexy space for queer-identified men, women and trans folk," agrees Charlie Spats, who is part of the collective.
"As a trans person, I always feel most comfortable in spaces without gender restrictions because I am never sure how I'll be received once I get there," Spats says.
"I think that inclusive sexual events are a fantastic way to introduce people to what trans bodies look like and to introduce them in a sexual context," he adds. "Most people don't understand what a trans person is at all, let alone how they fuck! It demystifies trans bodies to see them all around you."
"That being said, I recognize the need and desire for gender-exclusive spaces as well," Spats says. "Men and women do socialize in sexual spaces very differently, and because there is no firmly established bathhouse culture that integrates male/female/queer sexuality, it's being developed now by the people who attend the events."
In a shared sexual space, participants may need to rethink the way they approach each other and initiate interactions, Spats notes. "In a traditional all-male bathhouse, flirtation is extremely forward and often approached hands-first. Queer and women's communities have a much stronger sense of consent culture, which not only means that the interactions with the men there have to be established out of some kind of commonly understood ground, but it also means that the men's community is learning how to integrate consent into flirtation."
So far, both sets of organizers say, community response to their inclusive queer events has been positive.
"We've had a lot of enthusiasm," Liquor says. "A lot of people are very excited to have a sexy space that's open for them to come play in and feel comfortable showing up as they are."
"We're just tossing the party we want to toss," Arleigh says of the Mayhem events. "I imagine that there have been people who have been surprised by the penis action because perhaps they hadn't actually read the poster. But interestingly enough, the same people came back, so if they were offended, they got over it.
"Besides, there have always been dicks," she grins.
"They've just all been made of silicone," Mel adds with a laugh.
written by Shauna Lewis of Xtra
COURTNEY TROUBLE & QUEERPORN.TVPress Release - 2012 AVN Awards: Historic and GroundBreaking Weekend for Queer Porn: queer and trans visibility on the red carpet, nominations, and very expensive hotel rooms.
January 26, 2012
As most of you know, this weekend was the 2012 Annual AVN Awards. In celebration, the QueerPorn.TV cast and crew rented out an enormous two bedroom suit at Planet Hollywood in Vegas to host the largest group of Queer Porn Stars in AVN history! James Darling and Charlie Spats became the first trans men to walk the AVN Awards red carpet in 5 years, preceded only by Buck Angel in 2007. Although we got no wins, Queer Porn as a genre also got tons of recognition through nominations this year, including QueerPorn.TV's monumental Best Alternative Website nod, making it one of the best weekends in Queer Porn History.
Since QueerPorn.TV was nominated for Best Alternative Website, we made sure to take on the red carpet in style. Babes in our red carpet crew included Sophia St James, James Darling, Maxine Holloway, Tina Horn, Charlie Spats, and Quinn Valentine. Wolf Hudson walked with cutie pie Presley Hart, while Arabelle Raphael and Akira Raine walked with the Burning Angel crew.
We also met a lot of amazing trans women working in the adult industry in Vegas, including BBW transsexual porn star Michelle Austin and porn performer and producer Tobi Hill-Meyer, who spoke alongside Nina Hartley, Sophia St James, and Dylan Ryan at the Smitten Kitten "Future of Sex Ed" Porn Panel.
While AVN as a whole may be focused on the marketability and popularity of heterosexual, cisgendered pornography - the trans men and women in the porn industry are becoming more and more popular and were to be found everywhere at the AVN Awards. It was thrilling to be surrounded by so many expressions of gender and sexuality. The mainstream porn world is the last place you'd look for it, but it's there just under the surface. And it's about to explode.
In line with these leaps and bounds in gender expression in the industry, we were super jazzed about James Darling and Charlie Spats being able to follow Buck Angel's footsteps on the red carpet as the first, second and third trans men and so was Buck, who said "I'm excited to see more trans men in the industry and would encourage other guys who are interested in participating in this field to go for it! Congrats to James and Charlie."
James told us about his honor as well and the huge leaps made in Queer Porn, "This was my first trip to Vegas and my first time attending a porn awards ceremony. Two films and two websites I'd been a part of had been nominated this year. Buck Angel's "Sexing the Transman" for best Transsexual and Educational release, Crashpadseries.com "Volume 6: Wide Open" for Best Specialty Release as well as GoodDykePorn.com and QueerPorn.TV for Best Alternative Website. This was a great year for queer porn. While none of these incredible productions took home any awards that night, I was gifted a very special opportunity. I was able to walk the red carpet at AVN alongside friends and many industry professionals I have long respected, lusted after and admired. I would never in a million years have dreamt that this would be my life!
"While getting to walk the red carpet was a huge honor to me, I didn't realize until the day of the awards that this would be the second time a transsexual male porn performer has ever walked at the AVN Awards! Buck Angel walked with his wife in 2007, the same historic year he won TS Performer of the Year. He has always been a huge inspiration to me and for so many in and out of the porn world... The world of porn is changing, if there was any time for transsexual men to be acknowledged in the adult industry, that time is now. I think the industry and porn audiences everywhere are ready for something new. I think it's time transsexual men received some respectful, hard-earned recognition for the hot, sexual beings we truly are!"
Canadian trans man Charlie Spats also attended the AVN Awards as a performer of QueerPornTV, a blogger for Good Queer Porn, and as the sole representative of Good Dyke Porn, a Vancouver-based queer porn company also nominated for Best Alternative Website. On his first experience to AVN he said, "The AVN Awards are weird. Both the show and Vegas in general are entirely artificial environments that reflect the polar opposite of what queer porn is all about. But the advantage to being in a space like that is that it brings us Queers closer together, and reminds us all how important our work is. All of us went home filled with new inspiration and collaborative ideas!"
Vegas was a blast and such a great stride forward for the faces and names in queer porn. As Tina Horn said on QueerPorn.TV's blog, "We stood together as a community, as a unified front of strong-willed, open-minded, sex positive people going against the grain of the industry." That in itself is an awesome win, and we truly had a blast.
written by Courtney Trouble of QueerPorn.tv
WE (formerly WESTENDER)Cover Story - BORN THIS WAY: Transmen let it all hang out
August 27, 2011
Though incidence of trans men is on the rise, visibility is lacking -- T-Bodies hopes to change that
Shayne Forster and Jack Fox want you to know they are partners in crime only.
"We're not a couple," Forster insists, playfully nudging the best friend sitting beside him in an East Vancouver cafe.
They may not be romantically entangled, but the way their lives have intertwined, a little destiny might just be at play.
It was Forster who broke the ice with a "Hey, I know you," at the now-defunct Lick Club six years ago, and filled in the blanks of the person he used to be until Fox connected the dots with an "Oh my god!"
Though they had gone to the same high school, they'd never really hung out. Forster was two years younger, and had changed a lot in the time between leaving White Rock's WASPy clutches and venturing into Vancouver and adulthood. And back in high school, both young men were still young women.
You know my dates better than I do," Fox says to Forster when recalling his transition. "I started May 29 of '06 and he started June 19th, so it was not even a month apart," Forster chimes in. He was 19, Fox was just 21.
After separately coming to the conclusion that they both identified as men, the two cemented a bond supporting each other through the years long process of transforming their bodies. First, they started on T -- testosterone -- then came the "hystos" and then several "top" surgeries that took a financial and emotional toll.
"In truth, it's like we're actually married," says Fox with a laugh describing their strong love/hate relationship.
Not everybody has that support going through such a profound life change. So Fox and Forster started T-Bodies, their non-profit advocacy group, in 2008 dedicated to raising awareness of trans men and providing resources to those in or considering transition and their allies (T-Bodies.ca).
On the alphabetical spectrum of LGBTQ identities, the T for Trans is often ignored, Fox and Forster point out.
And for many people, even for those well versed in the queer lexicon, it's difficult to talk about.
But the two are taking action o nthat front. For the last three years they've released an annual T-Bodies calendar featuring models in every stage of transition and tonight, July 28, T-Bodies hosts sTeam, Vancouver's first bathhouse night for trans men and their allies.
It's important for the queer community and the general public to start getting fmailiar with bodies in all states of the process they point out, because the community of trans men in Vancouver is growing quickly.
In three editions, the pair has never had a problem finding models for their calendars, and there are currently 70 people on the waitlist for surgeries in Metro Vancouver, Fox notes.
But resources aren't keeping up and public awareness is low, partly because many trans men easily blend into background once the metamorphosis is complete.
People look at us and go, 'you're not trans men are you?'" says Fox. It's a good feeling on the days he doesn't feel like being an advocate - on the days he wants to be stealth.
For those whose bodies are a work in progress, or may ultimately choose not to have the same extent of surgery, awareness becomes an issue of safety. "Ignorance leads to hate and hate leads to violence," says Forster. And there are precious few places where men in transition can show their bodies without fear of, at best, judgment, at worst, reprisal.
That's where sTeam comes in. A test run several months ago showed a demand for more safe spaces where trans men don't feel compelled to hide their bodies. Tonight, T Bodies will supply fruit, water, safer sex supplies and a safe and inclusive environment in celebration of Pride Week.
They're hoping to see lots of other Shayne's and Jacks whose brush cuts and muscles obscure pretty much every physical hint of their femininity. But it's also for people like Micael Skold, a former calendar model, who, six months after having his hysto, is still coming to terms with his shifting body. He's on the waitlist for top surgery and wears a corset-like chest compressor every day to bind his breasts.
It's for Charlie Spats, who, with a newly grown beard that hardens his baby face and toughens his petite frame, has no problem baring his pre-surgery body in porn films and isn't sure if he'll ever choose to go under the knife. And it's for people who are only beginning to think about transitioning, for those who love them and those who want to get to know them.
Above all, Fox and Forster are hopeful tonight's event will truly be a place where literally every body feels welcome.
written by Jessica Barrett of WE Vancouver
CAPILANO COURIERFeatured Column - Sexual Healing
November 8, 2010
What about queer porn?
Everybody has watched porn, but is everybody represented in it? The majority of pornographic materials depict men having sex with women, and anything that differs from that is considered to be in the "fetish" category. Queer people in particular have strained role in the porn industry, as the majority of "lesbian" porn is performed by two very femme women with little to no chemistry and six-inch fingernails. It is generally understood that this type of lesbian porn is made for straight men to watch, rather than actual lesbians.
My friend Charlie Spats is a transgender man (female to male), and at the age of 20 has just begun his career in porn. He isn't desperate for work, acceptance, attention or any of the other things one might assume would "force" someone into acting in porn. he is just passionate about sexual health, and passionate about movies. "When I combined the two," he says, "pornography was the lovechild that resulted." Another reason for putting himself in the industry was to help other transgender people be more comfortable with their bodies.
"The only space in which I have ever seen another transmale body has been in pornography."Spats explains, "When I started taking testosterone, I had no idea what would happen to my body, and there have been significant changes that have severely impacted my sex life. Not only did pornography expose me to how transmen might go about having sex, it also showed me that transmen could have awesome, hot sex."
Spats is currently interning at GoodDykePorn.com, founded by Bren Ryder. It is one of the only queer porn companies in Canada. "First of all," Spats explains, "it's crucial to understand the word 'queer' as the queer porn industry understands it. 'Queer' does not, necessarily, mean 'gay.' Or even LGBT. Being queer is a form of expression, a statement, a political movement. It's being attracted to people based on who they are, not what bits they have, or what race they are, or how big they are, or any other trivial physical feature. It's a performance, a space to play, where everyone can be a boy, a girl, or both, or neither, or whatever else they choose to be. Being queer is...well, it's fun."
The representation of queer people in porn is a constant struggle, and the solution has so far been to have queer people directing themselves. The majority of mainstream queer porn is made in San Francisco, and it is trying to balance out the false stereotypes of queer people having sex, as well as produce a product for queer people to watch.
"The porn aspect of the queer porn industry is actually capturing what it looks like and feels like to be queer," explains Spats. "I'm not okay with how lesbians are represented in mainstream porn. I am okay with straight girls fooling around with other girls. Fluidity is great, but they should only be doing it if that's what they really want. Telling one girl to have sex with another girl isn't going to be lesbian sex, that's just going to be bad sex."
Over the years, Spats says that he has identified as "a heterosexual female, bisexual female, lesbian, heterosexual male, bisexual male and now, just kind of a sexual person." Having experiences from all of these viewpoints gives him a diverse understanding of the way various groups are represented in porn. As a transgender person, he views the way transgender people are portrayed in porn with hesitation.
"I am very nervous about the 'chicks with dicks' portrayal of transwomen in mainstream porn," he says. "I'm glad that it exists, but I feel like it's regarded as a sort of freaky fetish, which is not a healthy way to view transgender people. I also fear for the people who only know transpeople exist because they've heard of 'tranny' porn."
The portrayal of transmen in mainstream porn is basically nonexistent, but stars such as Buck Angel have brought moderate attention to transmen in a sexual context. Buck Angel is the self-dubbed "man with a pussy" and he shows it. Muscular, gruff and unmistakably a man, Buck Angel acts in gay porn with other men, and watching him in scenes is a very impacting eye opener. Nobody would be able to say that Buck Angel is feminine in any way, even after seeing him get fucked in his pussy.
Although Spats isn't acting in such intense scenes yet, he has certainly made some pivotal life choices early in his life. Transitioning while still in high school obviously isn't an easy decision. "I refuse to let fear hold me back," Spats explains, "I'm a very queer person in a world that likes to beat, rape and murder people like me, and I come from a mother who is facing a terminal illness. I understand how short life is. I don't have time to think things through until I'm blue in the face, or to wait until the absolute perfect time."
He also isn't afraid of being extremely public about his life, sex included. This full-disclosure policy is both admirable and shocking in its honesty, and even I have been impressed with the intensity of what Charlie Spats shares on Facebook. "I talk about sex a lot." he admits, "I probably make people uncomfortable, but I do it because no one else is doing it. And I've found that the more I talk about sex, the more people approach me to talk more about it because they've never been able to talk that openly with someone else before." He recently posted a detailed blog entry about his first orgy. It was public to all the past classmates, childhood friends, coworkers and every other person he is Facebook friends with to read. I will admit it was the best thing I have ever read because of Facebook.
If people get awkward when I tell them I'm a sex columnist, I can't imagine how difficult it must be telling your friends that you work in porn. "People have their own automatic assumptions about what your life is like when you say you work in porn, and so I always feel the need to back that up with the conversation about why I've chosen this career and why I think I'm making a positive difference in the world," explains Spats, "but sometimes I don't feel comfortable bringing [my porn career] up, and I'm not sure the person I'm talking to wants to talk about it either, so it's tricky when someone casually asks about my life and I have to skip over so many details. I usually end up talking about it anyway, occasionally at the expense of my conversation partner's comfort."
Talking positively about pornography undoubtedly brings up the question of prostitution. The definition of a prostitute is "somebody who has sex with another person in exchange for money." That, of course, fits both the traditional idea of a prostitute as well as the role of a porn actor. Regardless of prostitution laws, the public opinion on prostitutes versus porn actors is obvious.
Though a traditionalist parent would not be pleased to hear that their child is acting in pornographic movies, they would probably be much more upset to hear that their child is working as a prostitute. Porn stars can become dirty celebrities, praised for their skills and bodies and even awarded at the annual AVN awards. Prostitutes are the shameful part of society, hidden away and neglected by the law, often abused and murdered. Not to say that the life of a porn actor can't be dangerous and full of exploitation, but it is generally regarded as a cleaner and better-paying job than street or escort work.
"They are both totally valid forms of sex work," says Spats. "When somebody says that they are in sex work, the automatic assumption is prostitution. They are both totally legitimate and often done for the same reasons, which can be the sort of negative exploitative reason that a lot of people associate with it, but it can also be from a very sex positive doing-this-because-you-want-to reason."
GoodDykePorn.com is a small company, where models are paid much less for doing scenes than they would be if they were doing mainstream porn. While this may seem like a negative thing, it also helps ensure that the actors are doing it because they want to, rather than out of economic interest. Spats says that "a lot of the time, people forget if you're getting money for sex that the money isn't necessarily the only motivation for doing it."
And anyway, having sex as your job would be awesome.