Tag Archives: Sex

Hollywood Should Totally Make a Movie from my book “The Year of Loving Dangerously”

In 2009 I published “The Year of Loving Dangerously,” my graphic novel about my anni horribili, 1984-1985. I was expelled from college, fired from my job and evicted from my dorm — and dumped on the streets of Manhattan during a long hot summer in Reagan America. I discovered that sex wasn’t just my favorite thing, it was also good for finding a place to crash. Manslut – that was me.

Year was my first book collaboration. I wrote the text. Spanish artist Pablo G. Callejo, best known for “Bluesman,” did the artwork. The results were spectacular: Callejo is a genius and evoked 1980s New York like no one else could.

There was interest in turning Year into a movie. Also a TV show. You know how that goes. I think the time wasn’t right.

Now, however, everything is coming up 1980s. I keep thinking someone should make a movie or TV show out of it. Not because I want a movie or TV show, which of course I do, but because it was so fucking cool and would make an awesome adaptation.’

So, smart Hollywood peeps, if you’re out there, here’s a few pages. If you want to see the whole thing, ping me by hitting the Contact tab on Rall.com.

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Hugh Hefner Said His Critics Were Prudes and Puritans. The Negative Obits Prove Him Right.

 

No one has ever accused Ross Douthat of excessive astuteness. “Donald Trump isn’t going to be the Republican nominee,” he wrote in January 2016. Dude is paid to prognosticate politics. Even so, Douthat probably pulls down six figures at The New York Times, which doesn’t grant me the courtesy of a rejection letter. So people pay attention to him.

Hugh Hefner’s death didn’t move me. Penthouse was my print media stimulus of choice. I only read Playboy after the magazine’s late delightful cartoons director Michelle Urry commissioned some samples during her campaign to update the magazine’s hoary cartoon section with edgier, more political work. (Alas, those weird Marxist sex cartoons are lost to history.)

The worst cartoon editors are former aspiring cartoonists. Hef was one of those; he killed my stuff for being too edgy and political.

But Hefner sure managed to rile up Douthat.

“Hef was the grinning pimp of the sexual revolution, with Quaaludes for the ladies and Viagra for himself — a father of smut addictions and eating disorders, abortions and divorce and syphilis, a pretentious huckster who published Updike stories no one read while doing flesh procurement for celebrities, a revolutionary whose revolution chiefly benefited men much like himself,” Douthat wrote upon the Playboy founder’s passing.

As if syphilis hadn’t existed pre-Hef.

Or abortion.

Or porn, for that matter.

Banging out an all-out assault so shrill it would come off as over-the-top if it concerned Charles Manson, Douthat even blames Hefner for the sins of the political class: “Liberals should ask why their crusade for freedom and equality found itself with such a captain, and what his legacy says about their cause. Conservatives should ask how their crusade for faith and family and community ended up so Hefnerian itself — with a conservative news network that seems to have been run on Playboy Mansion principles and a conservative party that just elected a playboy as our president.”

Get real: I never met a liberal who considered Hefner a leader, much less the captain, of liberalism. And where exactly are these devout family-values crusading conservatives? Sending other people’s kids off to kill Middle Easterners for fun and profit, or pimping trickle-down economic BS to benefit their rich patrons?

I align myself neither with liberals nor conservatives nor Hefner. Honestly, though: the vituperative nature of so many Hefner postmortems have done more to validate Hefner’s claim that his critics were prudes and anti-sex identity feminists than everything he ever said or did.

There is more than a little ageism in these “The Loin in Winter” depictions of a porn entrepreneur who lived too long, couldn’t figure out the Internet and counted out his final years like a male Norma Desmond in the fading grandeur of a decaying Playboy Mansion, in denial that the culture had moved past him. Douthat opined: “Early Hef had a pipe and suit and a highbrow reference for every occasion; he even claimed to have a philosophy, that final refuge of the scoundrel. But late Hef was a lecherous, low-brow Peter Pan, playing at perpetual boyhood — ice cream for breakfast, pajamas all day — while bodyguards shooed male celebrities away from his paid harem and the skull grinned beneath his papery skin.”

A disgusting depiction — one that reflects upon its author more than its target.

Hef’s passing prompted a few genuinely positive assessments of the man and his product, like this from the refreshing Camille Paglia: “Pornography is not a distortion. It is not a sexist twisting of the facts of life but a kind of peephole into the roiling, primitive animal energies that are at the heart of sexual attraction and desire…It must be remembered that Hefner was a gifted editor who knew how to produce a magazine that had great visual style and that was a riveting combination of pictorial with print design. Everything about Playboy as a visual object, whether you liked the magazine or not, was lively and often ravishing.”

But most post-Hefs were like Peggy Drexler in CNN: “The terms of [Hefner’s] rebellion undeniably depended on putting women in a second-class role. It was the women, after all, whose sexuality was on display on the covers and in the centerfolds of his magazine, not to mention hanging on his shoulder, practically until the day he died.”

True enough. But not really fair.

Porn is weird.

Porn commodifies women, reducing them to flat 2-D imagery crafted to titillate. If you feel dirty after you use to it to masturbate, it’s because you feel at least a little guilty about the high probability that the women in those photos and videos almost certainly wouldn’t expose themselves if they didn’t really need the money. Yet Drexler misses that visuals are key to sexual attraction, and that includes the way hetero women assess men based on their physical appearance. We are all commodified by this culture of consumption and relationships based at least in part on mutual opportunism and exploitation.

Really-existing feminists rarely frame their critiques of pornography where it belongs, within the construct of a slave-labor capitalism in which construction workers and yoga teachers and professional athletes and UPS workers and cartoonists wear down their bodies for cash — or starve.

Largely divided between anti-Hefner obits and anti-Hefner obits that give the marketing genius his editorial due, what shines through is a deep discomfort with sex in mainstream American media. What is wrong with a 91-year-old man, even if he looks 91 and resorts to Viagra, viewing himself as a sexual being? Or a 101-year-old woman?

May we all be so alive until we are just dead.

Why does Douthat assume we should share his revulsion when he describes Hef as “a pack rat in a decaying manse where porn blared during his pathetic orgies”? The aesthetics may not be yours, but the choices were his — which is as it should be. (On the other hand, criticism of Hefner seems legitimate when it attacks the man as manipulative of women in his orbit.)

As Paglia says, “Second-wave feminism went off the rails when it was totally unable to deal with erotic imagery, which has been a central feature of the entire history of Western art ever since Greek nudes.”

Relax. It’s just sex.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall) is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

Venice Beach declares war on our infantile obsession with nudity

Originally published by The Los Angeles Times:

Nekkid Ladies

Not many people are aware of it, and few exercise the right, but it is legal for women to walk around topless in New York City and other cities. (A bare-chested New Yorker even got $40,000 from the city to settle her lawsuit alleging harassment by the NYPD for her nudity.)

Now, if the Venice Neighborhood Council gets its way, toplessness will become legal somewhere more pleasant than the gritty, often slush-filled streets of the Northeast: Venice Beach.

“I think this is a serious equality issue, and I’m not going to shy away from it,” Melissa Diner, the Venice council community officer who sponsored the resolution told the Los Angeles Times’ Martha Groves. Diner said she hoped to “start a conversation about not only wanting to show our nipples on Venice Beach, but about what else people want to see.”

“Venice Beach was founded and designed around the European culture of Venice, Italy,” the neighborhood council said, “and … topless [sun]bathing is commonplace throughout Europe, much of the rest of the world and many places within the U.S.”

In many states and municipalities, the legal basis for prohibiting the exposure of female breasts falls apart because public lewdness laws are specifically targeted against genitals, which obviously breasts are not. Aside from the inherent gender discrimination of anti-toplessness statutes, the widespread social acceptance of breastfeeding in public beginning in the 1970s and 1980s, and the fact that many American travelers see that topless sunbathing in other countries don’t spark riots of sex-crazed males, exposes — pun intended — the utter absurdity of such laws.

So, yes, it is an important political, social and cultural issue. It’s a question of equal rights, body image, addressing the problem of oversexualization driven by, among other things, advertising. But it’s also a matter of maturity.

I’ll admit, when I first read the headline about Venice considering this change, I giggled. Sorry, that’s the 14-year-old boy I used to be. But then after thinking about it for two or three minutes, I shook it off and got serious.

Which is not unlike what happened the summer that the dorms at my college, Columbia University, converted from single-sex, all-male to coeducational. The showers were old, no curtains, one big room. The first female students moved in before they got around to putting in individual shower stalls.

One morning I stumbled in bleary-eyed to the shower, and found several of my new female classmates taking showers. Yes, I was surprised. I was 19. Then I found a spot on the other side of the room, lathered up and got over it. Within a day or two, it wasn’t a big deal.

As Nathaniel Hawthorne so brilliantly documented, America’s original sin, alongside slavery, is Puritanism. Four hundred years after the first colonists arrived in America — people who were so uptight that they couldn’t get along with the British — it’s time that we declared war against our infantile societal obsessions with nudity, especially female nudity.

Sheryl Sandberg’s Choreplay: Not Too Sexy

Originally published by Breaking Modern:

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, famous for her “Lean In” book and its advice to women to be aggressive in the workplace, is now advising women to institute “choreplay” at home — basically, wives exchanging marital favors in exchange for husbands’ completion of household tasks. Whatever its merits, Choreplay certainly doesn’t sound sexy.
Choreplay

ANewDomain.net Essay: How Not To Be a Monogamist

Originally published at ANewDomain.net:

America is experiencing another sexual revolution. Under the radar and certainly ignored by the vast majority of mainstream media and popular culture, tens of millions of men and women have opted out of traditional monogamy – boy meets girl, girl has baby, boy and girl get divorced or grow old together, not always happily – in favor of alternative sexual relationships.

Most marriages end in divorce or dysfunction. Eric Anderson, author of The Monogamy Gap, makes a convincing argument that these relationships crash and burn due to the intrinsic contradictions of monogamism:

“Young men entering into romantic/sexual relationships are misled into thinking that monogamy is capable of providing them with a lifetime of sexual fulfillment and that if they truly loved their partners they would not desire others. This, we are told, is because monogamy is healthy, proper, moral, and natural. Anyone deviating from or challenging this script is stigmatized.”

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation about these different lifestyles. (I don’t say “new” lifestyles because, if anything, marriage and monogamy are still in their early experimental stages by anthropological standards.

Marriage only goes back a few thousand years in the Western world; marriage for love is barely 100 years old in the West and anything but the global standard even at this writing.)

Here are some of the most common nonmonogamous relationship formats in the United States today:

Open Relationship

An open relationship is just what it sounds like: you are free to have sex with people other than your partner. And so is she.

“There are a wide variety of open-relationship models out there, and they can vary drastically from one couple to another,” psychology professior David Barash and co-author of “The Myth of Monogamy” told Men’s Fitness. “Having an open relationship can work really well for some people. However, as people, we’re also inclined to be sexually jealous of a partner being with someone else, and from a biological standpoint, we’re resistant to that partner having another relationship.”

The actors Mo’Nique and Will Smith have been reported to be in open relationships. The hip-hop artist Pitbull, 26, has been in an open relationship with his girlfriend for the last nine years. He says it works for them: “I’m not going to be worried about what she does when I’m not around. I think men are more bitches than women. They let their ego and insecurities come into play.”

Estimates of the frequency of open relationships in the United States vary between 1% and 9% of sexually active adults in committed relationships.

Generally speaking, open relationships work as complements to – as opposed to replacements for – powerful core relationships where trust and sexual attraction are strong. Communication is absolutely key. People don’t have open relationships in order to lie – they do it so they don’t have to.

Successful open relationships rest on adherence to a set of rules negotiated between the two of you: how often are you each allowed to have sex with other people? Can you stay out all night or do you have to come home by midnight? Do you want to meet the other man or the other woman? Consider your needs, don’t hesitate to ask for them, and always meet your partner’s needs if you can. And if you can’t, talk about it.

Polyamory

People in polyamorous relationships – which are a subset of open relationships – usually belong to a network, or “pod,” of people who either know each other very well or at least get together from time to time. Polyamorous people often arrange their relationships hierarchically. You might have a “primary” partner – this might be someone you live with, or your husband or wife – plus a “secondary” with whom you spend less time and to whom you are expected to be less devoted than your primary.

As any poly person will tell you, this can be a lot of work.

There are, of course, as many variations on polyamory as there are in mathematics. People belong to triad relationships (three people), quads and so on.

The main aspects that distinguish polyamory from ordinary open relationships are that polyamorous people usually know their partners’ partners, and that they typically have more elaborate rules concerning romantic hierarchy. “It’s like having a regular, monogamous relationship but having more than one of them,” a poly man named Mark told CNN. Mark and his wife “live alone and have no children, but they’ve been involved with two other couples with children for the past six years. Mark and his wife spend time with the adults and their children doing family-friendly activities but the adults also go out on dates, cuddle and more.”

Polyamory has become increasingly visible in recent years, thanks to shows like Showtime’s reality series “Polyamory: Married and Dating.” Researchers believe that as many as 5% of Americans are actively involved in polyamorous relationships. Anecdotally, the poly lifestyle seems to be especially attractive to Americans under the age of 30.

Swinging

Swinging is no strings attached sex with the consent and/or participation of your partner. Couples, single men and single women set up dates with each other to meet for sex. As with polyamory and open relationships in general, transparency and honesty are key. The main difference between swinging and polyamory is that emotional attachments are minimal to none in swinging. It’s all just about the fun and the sex.

That said, swinging can become a long-term relationship when, for example, to couples get to know each other and start spending more time together.

Swingers are also more likely to go on adventures together, as opposed to separately. Not only is jealousy not supposed to be an issue, many swingers say they are turned on by watching their partners have sex with someone else. “Our best sex is with each other,” Sara told ABC News, while attending a sex orgy in Manhattan with her boyfriend Michael. “We have pretty amazing sex at home when we’re alone. When we come here it’s a physical attraction, not an emotional attraction.”

There is sizable swinging infrastructure of sex clubs, parties and even cruises that generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year in business in the United States.

There is no way to know exactly how many married couples are actively swinging in the United States, but it is generally agreed that about 15% will try it at least once.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

 Otherwise known as the relationship that everyone assumes Bill and Hillary Clinton have, this is where you can pretty much do whatever you want as long as you are discreet. Since DADT is not part of any kind of established infrastructure or ideology, it’s more of a do-it-yourself form of open relationship, and as such has been around for many years.

Among the generally accepted principles are: don’t bring home any drama and don’t bring home any STDs. In other words, don’t be having the boyfriend or girlfriend call up at 2 a.m. demanding that you move in with them.

This relationship is for the couple that wants to get a little on the side, but doesn’t want to deal with the jealousy, or the hard work of communicating that makes the jealousy go away.

And then there’s old-fashioned promiscuity

People forget this, but you don’t have to be pair bonded in order to have a good sex life. Quite the opposite. Thanks to the Internet, which allows you to pick up fellow sluts from the comfort of your home or smart phone, this is a golden age to sew your wild oats! Have as much fun as you want, but there’s one big rule: try not to hurt anyone.

What’s Best for Me?

The most important question to ask yourself when considering how you would like to structure your life sexually is: who am I? What do I like? What do I love? What do I see? It sounds incredibly obvious, and in some ways it is, but most people never take the time to be truly honest with themselves. They allow societal judgment, family, friends, colleagues to define them, and as a result they often end up in boxes. No one has to live with you more than you. Whatever it is that you want to do, as long as it is legal and doesn’t hurt anyone, go out there and do it.