Monthly Archives: November 2011

Porn is the Best Sex Education We’ve Got

On the Metro with Judy Minx

On the Metro with Judy Minx

Pornography is the most effective method of sex education.

As we grow up and learn about sex, we do so without any real point of reference. We enter our first sexual encounter uncertain of how we should conduct ourselves. Rather, we jump into the backseat with the faith that we have listened to the right people and the right words, hoping that our biological impulses are strong enough to make up for the difference.

Unless, of course, we watch porn.

Pornography is the only demonstration of sex we ever get. It is the hard, visual confirmation of the soft, often implicated words and diagrams through which we formally learn about sex. It is the visual evidence that substantiates rumor and experience. Porn is our only model for comparison. It is our standard of truth.

Further, because any visual representation of sex is by definition pornographic, porn monopolizes our knowledge of sex.

In the way that all students speak the words of their teachers, we are all disciples of pornography. Our sexuality is pornographic because there is nothing else for it to be. In order to make sense of contemporary sexuality, we have to study pornography and its conventions. One such convention is a sex position called the reverse cowgirl (pictured below).

porn as sex education

Reverse Cowgirl (as drawn by my roomie)

For the reverse cowgirl, the man and woman both face the same direction. woman sits on the man’s lap while he sits down. Both face forward in the same direction. The woman’s legs and pussy are spread wide and her torso and breasts are fully exposed. The man’s balls are visible and his penis alternates between hiding and visibility as it penetrates. Every body part of pornographic value is condensed on the screen (this position can also be used for hetero anal sex or with two male partners).

Porn as Sex Ed Sex Positions

Reverse Cowgirl (as drawn by me)

Although the reverse cowgirl succeeds in maximum visibility, assuming this position is not necessarily beneficial to those who are performing and aiming to feel sexual pleasure. The penis isn’t aligned with any especially erogenous zones (such as the g-spot). The partners can’t see each other’s bodies. It’s not comfortable to be in. It’s not easy to get in to.

How does this analysis of the reverse cowgirl can forward our understanding of the relationship between pornography and sexuality? Do you think that the reverse cowgirl is a result of our pornographic epistemology? In this world in which truth is equated with seeing, is there another way for us to learn about sex besides pornography?

Beverly Fre$h Interview: Art, Rap & Pu$$y

Beverly Fre$h BED

Beverly Fre$h in BED

I’ve been waiting my whole life for Beverly Fre$h. He’s an artist with papers, a rapper with tear sheets. He brags about having a big heart. He’s got his own dance, the “how-ya-do.” He performs a capella on international landmarks. His full resume includes solo art exhibitions, published design work, a lifetime of experience in the Midwest underground hip hop scene, and about a hundred other points of interest that are just as cool. Beverly Fre$h also has a record release party for his new album BED this Saturday 11/19 at the Magic Stick in Detroit. Enter to win free passes to the show and a limited edition red translucent 12″ vinyl of BED on MOTORCITYBLOG.

Last summer I interviewed Fre$h while he was shooting the video for his first single from BED, “Dead Millionaire.” I arrived on location at the rapper’s childhood home in St. Claire and was welcomed by Fre$h–a swarthy, soft-spoken man who stood at the foot of a cellar staircase and waved me down. The basement walls were covered in rope link sausage and synthetic wigs. A group of men in formal hats and suits sat in a cloud of smoke in front of a plate of fried chicken. I tip-toed down the stairs and stood at the back of the room, whispering with Fre$h as he oversaw the shoot…

Jane Fader: Your first single, “Dead Millionaire,” has a rather provocative chorus: “The name is Beverly Fre$h. My heart’s just too big. Been working off my pussy just to feed the kids.” Let’s talk about the pussy…

Beverly Fre$h: Well, the name Beverly Fre$h came from a woman who would always come in to this architecture firm where I used to work and show carpet samples. Her name was Sandy Lavender. I always thought, “if I was an R&B singer, my name would be Sandy Lavender.” When I got back into rap and needed a name, Sandy Lavender seemed too R&Bish, so I had to look at other women’s names. Beverly looked good and had a nice ring to it. I added the Fre$h to make it more hip hop.

That’s how the name Beverly Fre$h came about, and pussy is part of that, too. I put pussy in the chorus because of the repetitive, catchy thing. A lot of people blindly follow lyrics…just memorize them without even thinking about it. The majority of people probably won’t pay close attention to the lyrics, but if you spend some time and think, they give you a lot to respond to. I’m trying to use something that’s the complete opposite of male posturing, which is really common in hip hop and rap battles–big dick jokes and things like that. So what is the inverse of male posturing? It’s to be a female.

Beverly Fre$h

Beverly Fre$h Photo Series by Monica Breen

Jane Fader: Oooo, you just hit me in the feminist bone! What’s with the gender deconstruction?

Beverly Fre$h: That’s something that just came about. When we started sUPERIORbelly, our first inspiration was the body (we were like 18 years old). We went through an anatomy book and found the term superior belly, which is a muscle in your neck. It seemed to sum things up because it’s superior–it’s grand, it’s important—but it’s funny at the same time. So it has the same high/low duality that runs through a lot of the work. From that we got inspired by diseases and started talking about the corruption of the body. Then we dropped it all together. It came back later in a weird way with the wigs and the sausage.

Jane Fader: Tell me about the wigs and sausage.

Beverly Fre$h

Beverly Fre$h, the Abject / Photo by Monica Breen

Beverly Fre$h: It’s just something inherent in my interests. Even humor. The act of laughing. It’s an abject, biological function where your body is shaking, you’re making weird noises…

Jane Fader: …out of control…

Beverly Fre$h: Yeah, exactly. So that kind of thing—in a weird way—relates to a certain spirituality. The idea of the unexplained, the unexpected, the intangible…The body is a symbol or a vessel for these kind of things and it’s really bizarre but really familiar. There’s always this repulsion/attraction. Like hair can be really beautiful and attractive, but also disgusting and gross. It’s defining of the relationship to the body in general, and that’s really fascinating to me. Ideally, my work has these two levels where it’s kind of disgusting but there’s something easy to digest and familiar about it at the same time. If it can meet that sweet spot…that’s where I want my work to be.

11 Hee Bee Geee Bees (Featuring Dial81)

Don’t miss Beverly Fre$h, Dial.81 and other sUPERIORBELLy boys (Belly Boys?) at the Magic Stick on Saturday, November 19, 2011.

Beverly Fre$h (right) records BED with main man and producer Dial.81 (left) / Photo Series by Monica Breen

Everyone Is An Icon: Becoming Twiggy

I don’t remember ever seeing Warhol’s photograph of Twiggy before Adrienne Williams sent it to me †ø use as a reference for ICON. and its cruel revelation deter way that Adrienne revealed it to me–side-by-side with a photo of my own face–it toso all of my thoughts about the image are spawned by their comparison with my own self-image, and twinged by the hyper self-consciousness that comes with all complements.

Suturing two photographs–Twiggy on the left and me on the right–Williams presented me with a single image that inherently calls attention to difference. For me, this photograph of Twiggy is first and foremost a meter to which I can compare myself.

The photo that Adrienne proposed resembles Twiggy has its own significance in my interpretation. It was taken by Jef Bourgeau.

About a year ago I visited Bourgeau’s Museum of New Art to see The Facebook Show and became immediately aware of Bourgeau’s brilliance as an artist, a curator and intellectual. After having known me for an hour and an email, Bourgeau took the most honest and true photographs that I have ever seen of my/self(s), and presented them as an exhibit called The Jane Show (2010). This was the first time that I had ever been photographed, and the first time I met someone who I recognized as an expert. Of the past twenty years of artistic ventures in Detroit, his work and the work that he has touched by itself demands engagement and will significant on the rtistic ventures that has threatened broad cultural significance and that asked questions worth engaging deserved consideration or significant projects held over the past twenty years in the Detroit art scene have been touched and (usually) fully produced by Jef Bourgeau.

I am embarrassed by my immediate reaction to the comparison that Adrienne faciliteted: I thought about my body and the fat that distinguished it from Twiggy’s.

Studying the Twiggy image independently, I fixated on the dead helplessness in her eyes. I considered the possibility that my own eyes communicated the same sorrows but came to no conclusions.

At the shoot, I struggled with widening my eyes while containing the naivete.

Looking at me as Twiggy next to Twiggy, it’s hard to see anything except for the failure of the copy. Looking only at Adrienne’s photograph, I see a thick layer of sexed up androgyny masking a version of myself that I have never liked.

Letters From Gypsy Rose Lee to Royce Howes (2 of 2)

Correspondence between the famous burlesque performer, Gypsy Rose Lee, and 1954 pulitzer prize journalist Royce Howes (my great grandfather). Written from the Rialto Theatre in Flint, Michigan (estimated date: 1940). I found these letters taped inside the cover of my family’s copy of The G String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee.

In this letter, Lee gushes about writing (particularly, her writing) and how it has overcome even her love of stage performance. The first few sentances give the impression that Howes responded to her last letter quite flirtatiously.

You can find a transcript of the letter below the image.

Gypsy Rose Lee Letters

1940 (approx.)

Rialto Theatre, Flint Mich.

Darling:

You sealed your doom with that letter; I’ll never call you Mr. Howes again. It arrived just before I was due at the local book store…autographing, it’s such a bore. Isn’t it? (she said, lying in her teeth.) I was so set up with the letter, after damn near wearing out showing it to anyone that stopped for a moment, I had several photostatio copies made.

I’m so glad you like G String. I was pretty proud of it myself. Read it four times yesterday but on account of I’m going near blind I’m only reading it twice today. Did you feel that way about your first book? This is making a ham of me after all these years. I can’t move around in my dressing room for books…when I finally get on stage, after missing cues like mad, I forget my lyrics…I’m working without cosmetic; the time I use putting it on I spend patting the jacket. A New York columnist mentioned the book a few days ago and I sat down to my typewriter (yours is a lovely thing in comparison)  to drop the usual note of thanks. I wound up writing a four page biography “From Strips to Scripts” or sompin’. It’s a bad case of being fascinated by ones own words.

I hoped that I could play one of Detroit’s department stores but my bookings take me to Akron, Youngstown, and Dayton. (winding up at Macy’s) Boy! This making with the words is for me…..I dearly love it. And I dearly love you for your faith and for your letter…

Gypsy Rose Lee

Gypsy

Illustration G String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee (1941)

Gypsy Rose Lee at the Book Cadillac Hotel in 1940

Correspondence between the famous burlesque performer, Gypsy Rose Lee, and 1954 pulitzer prize journalist Royce Howes (my great grandfather). Written from the Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit (estimated date: 1940).

I found these letters taped inside the cover of my family’s copy of The G String Murders by Gypsy Rose Lee. It is rumored that Howes provided some sort of editorial assistance to Lee, but these letters don’t provide any evidence of that…

You can find a transcript of the letter below the image.

From Gypsy Rose Lee to Royce Howes at the Book Cadillac in Detroit

1940 (est.)

Dear Royce Howes 1: (dammit I hit the wrong button again.)

The story is wonderful. On page nine it would be swell, on page one…..may as well face it, I’m plum tickled/.

(The Book Cadillac had an off night in the kitchen…I blame them for all the mistakes.)

Beely and the Barbarian were so happy. Beely had one bad moment when he called you about Gill’s item, but from then on the Bowery was a Glee Palace. Copies of the Free Press were being pushed under my nose from nine until four this morning.

I think “Stuss” is editor talk for padding. (Actor’s talk for stretching.) At least I hope it is. They COULDN’T mean….oh, no.

I enjoyed dining with you. Missed you tonight, in fact. Gawd what a dull dinner. Cold soup, fatigued salad and chicken that shouldn’t happen at the Bowery. As a floor show, the waiter wasn’t bad, but as a waiter…

Around November The G String Murder will be in your mail box. I only hope it proves worthy of your boost. Thanks.

Gypsy Rose Lee

Wikipedia Entry on Royce Howes
Wikipedia Entry on Gypsy Rose Lee
Wikipedia Entry on The G String Murders