[SSEXBBOX] Magazine #1: Genderly Phrased
On summer of 2011 the first issue of [SSEX BBOX] magazine, 10 page preview. [SSEX BBOX] aims to reveal the various faces of sexuality as they collide with censorship and civic borders throughout the cities of São Paulo, San Francisco, Berlin, and Barcelona. [SSEX BBOX] Magazine is the tangible manifestation of the [SSEX BBOX] web documentary series. [SSEX BBOX] Magazine will aid in the continual queering of our culture. It is our goal to expand consciousness by questioning the archaic and obsolete patterns that bind us to our two-dimensional understandings of gender and sexuality.
1. GENDERLY PHRASED sexu e box of th t u o ali t y LIMITED EDITION 07.2011 US$ 8 Q U E E R Q U A R T E LY M A G A Z I N E TABLE OF CONTENTS 06 WHAT IS [SSEX BBOX] ? 07 08 CARD CATALOGUE Photographs and poem by Library Vixen. Thirteen ways to be a respectful tranny-chaser. 12 HOW TO FUCK A TRANS GUY 20 22 26 GENDER IS A TEXT FIELD The intersections between gender and technology. 13 28 WHERE SPIRITUALITY AND FETISH MEET Alex and Skeeter talk about leather, spirituality, and celibacy. 19 30 POLL Find out what queers around the world thought about the construction of gender. 3 E LETTER FROM THE EDITORS veryone is dying to know, “What’s inside the [SSEX BBOX]?” The [SSEX BBOX] holds the questions you are afraid to ask about GENDER, SEXUALITY, and RELATIONSHIPS! Let us introduce you to the queer artists, sexperts and exceptional human beings who are deﬁning the answers. These individuals are leading the queer revolution, making sex fun, sexuality accessible, and gender even more complicated! Based in San Francisco, São Paulo, Berlin and Barcelona, [SSEX BBOX] is a web documentary series. [SSEX BBOX] pocket-size zine is the tangible manifestation of this web documentary series aiding in the continual queering of our culture. It is our goal to expand consciousness by questioning the archaic and obsolete patterns that bind us to our twodimensional understandings of gender and sexuality. Our ﬁrst issue, “Genderly Phrased,” celebrates the diversity of queer gender expressions. Gender is as complicated as biochemistry, it’s as vast as the galaxy, and it is as unique as a snowﬂake. We thought it would be fun to explore gender beyond the linear perspective of masculinity and femininity, and talk about gender from a more dimensional perspective. What other elements form your gender? Maybe you have seahorse energy; perhaps you are pulling in androgynous aspects; or maybe your gender has elements of color. It’s complex and deserves some exploration... [SSEX BBOX] pocket-size zine will use beautiful imagery, moving stories, and highlight some extraordinary individuals to celebrate the magic and dynamism that is gender. All we ask is that you keep an open mind and heart, and that you have fun! ENJOY, EXPLORE AND EXPLODE! Sincerely the [SSEX BBOX] Pocket-Size Zine Team, Alex Rosan (Executive Editor) Kelly Lovemonster (Editor-in-Chief) Priscilla Bertucci (Art Director / Editor) WE WANT YOUR SUBMISSIONS! Photos, articles, illustrations, rants and more... email to: email@example.com If you would like to subscribe to [SSEX BBOX] Zine you can ﬁnd information at: ssexbboxmagazine.blogspot.com “I want you to stop being subhuman and become ‘yourself’. ‘Yourself,’ I say. Not the newspaper you read, not your vicious neighbor’s opinion, but ‘yourself.’ I know, and you don’t, what you really are deep down. Deep down, you are what a deer, your God, your poet, or your philosopher is...” — Wilhelm Reich 4 CONTRIBUTORS Alex Rosan is a healer living in San Francisco, here to harness love and wellbeing for the surrounding community. Antone Martinez is a mermaid with a crayon wand, wandering around the bay area. Antone’s imagination and education are leashed together trying to follow and lead each other to Antone’s truest self. Caio Borges has a Bachelor of Arts and Post-Graduate in styling and fashion. Lives in São Paulo where illustrates books, magazines and commercial ads. He enjoys going to the movies and loves cats. Christine Hummell is the Graphic Designer of this magazine and Filmmaker. Originally from Curitiba, Brazil; currently lives in San Francisco. She loves music, art, design, playing the guitar and cooking. Kelly Lovemonster is a queer magical being living in the city of San Francisco. Kelly spends their time working on a mater’s degree, dancing at cute queer parties, and playing with they’s kitty cat. Kyla Wagener gets off on feelings of know-it-all omnipotence from editing other people’s writing. Liam Snowdon has worked in the counseling ﬁeld for 20 years. Liam has worked in a variety of settings including on the streets, in schools, group homes, clinics and in family homes. Maymay is a social justice technologist whose work primarily intersects with issues of digital civil liberties and sexual freedom. Maymay is the co-author of Foundation Website Creation and Advanced CSS. Maymay’s seminars on technology and sexuality have been featured at conferences from coast to coast. Priscilla Bertucci has been a multimedia artist, photographer and designer since 1997. She has worked with some of the best directors of Brazil’s Cinema. Priscilla is the founder of Kumba ﬁlms and is currently producing/directing documentaries ﬁlms around the world. Robbie Sweeny is an Irish born internationally published photographer and artist. Robbie has exhibited extensively throughout the UK. Robbie’s work deals with personal issues such as sexuality, identity, the Irish diaspora and the remnants of catholic guilt. inguttersandstars.blogspot.com Library Vixen, just a baby when arrived, has been living and playing in the glorious city of SF for over 12 years now. Of those 12 years, many have been spent serving the city’s denizens at the public library. When Library Vixen is not writing about sex, Library Vixen is having it. www.libraryvixen.com 5 WHAT IS SSEX BBOX? [SSEX BBOX] is a social justice film project that aspires to create awareness and accessibility around sexuality issues worldwide. The web series is based in San Francisco, São Paulo, Berlin and Barcelona, and uses film to explore Sex outside the Box. Film crews in the four cities interview sex educators and regular people about topics such as gender, sexual orientation, sex work, polyamory, relationship skills, and much more! Different languages and cultures compose a colorful collage of sexualities. [SSEX BBOX] exposes our commonalities and our uniqueness when it comes to gender and sexuality. We believe that sex should be discussed more. Explored more. Felt more. [SSEX BBOX] will help make this happen. Forget your fears and enjoy your passions! Let’s break the barriers of conversation. Let’s talk about condoms, gender versus sexuality, quality lube, anal sex, and more. Let’s participate in forming a cohesive vision of healthy sexuality by creating space for the dissemination of honest, inclusive information. It is our goal to expand consciousness by questioning the archaic and obsolete patterns that bind us to our two-dimensional understandings of gender and sexuality. Our commitment extends beyond sexuality to all human rights, including access to knowledge and information. [SSEX BBOX] is the first video web series exploring sexuality as a way to create social change. Presented in bi-weekly ten-minute episodes, the fifteen episode web series will air online in January 2012. sexuali t y ou t o f t he box www.ssexbbox.com 6 “In these times of breaking out of old patterns and changing paradigms, we can’t leave sexuality out!” Photos by Caio Castor QUEER FEMME VISIBILITY by KYLA WAGNER C isgender* women who identify as femme may experience privileges in the mainstream world that those with less binary gender expressions don’t experience. Yet within the queer community, the cisgender queer femme identity has been largely ostracized. Perhaps this exclusion is fueled in part by the perceived privilege of gender normativity, yet cisgender queer men who have a very masculine gender expression don’t tend to be ostracized the same way - and are in fact celebrated to the point of becoming idealized in mainstream gay culture. The exclusion of cisgender female femmes from queer spaces most likely can be attributed in large part to patriarchal programming associating inferiority and weakness with femininity. There is a national backlash of femmes demanding to be seen in queer spaces, with groups like: • The performance group The Femme Show out of Boston thefemmeshow.com/blog • The Bay Area’s own Femme Sharks firstname.lastname@example.org • Alpha Femme alphafemme.net • The Queer Fat Femme Guide to Life queerfatfemme.com • Femmes of Power published in 2008, this book of stunning photographs, interviews, and queer theory explodes traditional assumptions about femininity. myspace.com/femmesofpower * Cisgender means someone who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth, unlike transgendered individuals who identify as something other then their assigned genders. Photo by Library Vixen card catalog by LIBRARY VIXEN 8 deceptive like springtime most passionate of street scenes I caress, ogle– snap my shutter photographic memories of love snatch time beats methodically moment to moment fast living captured in slow motion examine my landscape my ridges—hills—mountains You move me with assertion commitment—proof fill my void, fuck my architecture word thief with stolen heart deconstruct my language in measured fragments of chronology confident in my sex wet lips–cunt–thighs surrounding the lost remnants of two that time has carved away fuck my architecture wet lips–cunt–thighs photographic memories of love HOW TO FUCK A TRANS GUY Learn to separate sex and gender! 13 WAYS TO BE A RESPECTFUL TRANNY-CHASER BY DR. LIAM SNOWDON Be shameless! Do your own work around gender! Don’t assume the kind of sex we want to have with you by what is or isn’t in our pants. Honor our boundaries. Ask and/or follow our lead about what we want our parts called. Understand that your sexual orientation is not affected by fucking us. Don’t assume the kind of sex we don’t want to have with you by what is or isn’t in our pants. Be respectful and considerate around disclosure. www.elementalsexology.com Be a proud tranny-chaser and remember there is a person in here. 12 Get the pronouns right! Don’t assume transition is from A-Z. Acknowledge our journeys. portfolio Robbie Sweeny is a dynamic Irish Queer Photographer currently living in San Francisco. His images explore the complexities of gender, the beauty of performance, and uniqueness that is SF. I had the pleasure of interviewing this beautiful being and here is what he had to say... By Kelly LoveMonster FEATURING Robbie sweeny Photo by Robbie Sweenie What inspired you to move to San Francisco from Ireland? About five years ago, I was at a point in my life where everything had become a bit safe. I had been working in a very stale and frustrating office job. In fact, I would hide in the toilets throughout the day listening to my ipod trying to keep sane. I had just bought a house and was very “comfortable” but very bored. I had just started taking photos again after a long period of being creatively stagnant. I needed an excuse to escape, and I decided to follow a friend to London and just start fresh. I spent 3 years in London living a very hedonistic and crazy life. I studied for a BA in photography during the day and got fucked up in the dirty clubs of London at night. I had flipped things to the polar opposite of my life in Ireland. Things were too chaotic and crazy. So after 2 years in London, a friend and I decided to spend a summer in San Francisco to decompress and have an adventure. I came to San Francisco and fell in love, not just with a boy, but with a city and a way of life. I felt like I had come home. So I dragged my miserable ass back to London at the end of the summer, finished University, and got back to San Francisco as soon as I could. Are American boys way cuter than Irish boys? Oh, the grass is most definitely greener on this side of the Atlantic. Do you consider your photography queer? Yes, a lot of my photography is queer. Its the world I live in, and its the people I surround myself with. I am telling their story and in doing so, I tell my own. We are queer, so it’s an integral part of the tale. You currently shoot a lot of event photography for the Off Center. What is it like to shoot art in motion? It’s incredibly rewarding. There is something really exciting happening in San Francisco. All these amazing talents have created this beautiful community here. Shooting events like “Squart” is such a blessing. As the photographer, I am presented with this buffet of imagery. Its just incredible. Capturing art in motion is an interesting task. I know that I can never truly capture it. I can only interpret it. You really need to be at these events to really feel whats going on here, and I just hope that my images will help encourage people to go see them live. If you like my images you will LOVE the performances. A lot of performance art is about being in the moment. How do you feel as the individual who preserves that moment in time? Do you feel a sense of responsibility? I feel a huge sense of responsibility. It’s something that is on my mind often when trying to photograph a performance. I feel the need to do the artists justice. There is so much going through my mind when shooting a performance: Am I at the right angle? Where are the performers going to move next? What is important in this scene? Can I understand whats trying to be said in this piece? How can I get the shot without obstructing the audience? Is my camera being too loud? What lens should I use for this moment? Do I want to represent this moment exactly as it is? Should I interpret this section? And then next thing you know the performance is over, and I can’t remember having seen any of it. I get home and I see the performance for the first time really when I am editing the images. Its an interesting process. How do you identify with your gender? My own gender is a composite of varying states of masculinity and femininity. I dress in what could be defined as mostly masculine attire, but I think that’s mostly out of laziness and a sense of self consciousness. I have long idolized gender ambiguous stars. As a child, I would drive my family mad on car trips playing David Bowie tapes over and over. Its funny, I sometimes feel jealous of → 14 → my friends who are so finely in tune with both their masculine and feminine sides. I guess as queer as I think I am, I still have my own subconscious gender hang ups in regards to the portrayal of myself. Is your gender reflected in your photography? More so than any other theme I think. And I think this goes to show my admiration of people who can fuck with the gender binary. My admiration and respect for all the amazing gender anarchists of this town is hopefully evident in my work. Are you currently working on a new body of work? I am going to be curating and exhibiting in a two week show over Pride in San Francisco called “Metamorphosis.” The show is about how we all have a perfect version of ourselves that lives in our minds eye. We strive to be that person. Some days we succeed and other days we fail. San Francisco has been a mecca for queer folk for generations now. San Francisco has called out to its queer children far and wide and beckoned them to come. It is here where so many feel they can become their true selves. This city acts as both a physical and psychological cocoon. It feeds and nourishes us. San Francisco allows us to blossom into the creatures we have always dreamt of being. “Metamorphosis” is going to feature a mix of queer up and coming artists along with some already established names. The launch night will be the 22nd of June at the Roll-Up gallery at the Public works on 14th and Mission. In conclusion, what’s your biggest turn on? Speedo’s, facial hair and puppy dog eyes. 18 THE COLONIZATION OF GENDER BY KYLA WAGNER I f you’re looking for some intriguing reading/podcast listening, Beyond Masculinity is an online literary project I came across a few years ago that’s definitely worth a gander. From the website: http://www.beyondmasculinity.com/ Beyond Masculinity is a groundbreaking collection of 22 provocative essays on sexuality, gender, and politics - all written by gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer men. Part audiobook, part-blog, and part-anthology, [it] brings together a smart, diverse group of queer male writers all critically examining maleness and the construction of masculinity and gender norms for men. Contributions focus on five key areas: Desire, Sex and Sexuality; Negotiating Identities; Queer Feminist Politics; Beyond Binary Gender; and Transforming Masculinity. Did we mention that it’s free? Leaving aside the (interesting) subject matter for a moment, I just want to bask in the amazingness of a free online book/ audiobook interactive project. Nice work, Trevor Hoppe (he edited the anthology). My favorite was a really fascinating piece by Qwo-Li Driskill, a Two-Spirit indigenous scholar of Cherokee descent. Hir piece explores the connections between the colonization of Native peoples and the violent introduction of a gender binary that didn’t exist in a starkly delineated fashion prior to colonization. S/he discusses the importance of duyuktvbalance, truth & justice-in pre-colonial Cherokee culture, and the ways in which strongly enforced European gender norms contributed to the devastation of this central component. S/he calls upon (for some reason, only male-embodied) Two-Spirit people to recognize the role they can play in healing, rebalancing and strengthening their communities. Not only is the article amazing, but to top it off the entire story is modeled on a traditional Stomp Dance. You’ll just have to check it out for yourself – and I highly recommend listening to the audio version, if you have that capability. 19 Photos: Sendi Morais GENDERLY PHRASED BY KELLY LOVEMONSTER Harris Kornstein My gender is, like, really important, you guys. Photos by: Julie Michelle, Emma Goldman, Peter Werner Sissy trapped inside a grandma trapped inside an indigo girl trapped inside a dandy butch trapped inside a drag queen trapped inside the body of a fag. LEAH PERLOTT JACKSON BROWN To me, gender is about energy and presentation. so, Im definitely hella femme but i guess i feel like my gender shifts slightly depending on who iâ€™m interacting with or what shoes iâ€™m wearing. More than anything, i try to do like ciara = both a thug and a lady. layered. kenetic. examined. authentic. faggy. deviant. queer. reformed. privileged. heavy. tender. mine. double duchess interview BY ANTONE MARTINEZ About two years ago, I found myself in a queer dance celebration in a grimy Chinatown basement, where I first experienced two fine ass fools in fringed booty shorts owning their jams. Double Duchess is a fierce and colorful, ass shaking, beat killing duo, engendered by DavO and Krylon Superstar. Double Duchess is an up and coming San Francisco based, musical tag team, with their debut album due to come out the closet later this year. What are some of the main themes in Double Duchess? Krylon: I would say raising queer consciousness through exaggerated dance music. DavO: I would say capturing the everyday life of two gay friends. Going out, dancing, looking at other boys, looking and feeling cute and talking shit. What influences and inspires Double Duchess? DavO: Vogueing, shopping, dancing, eating sweets and lots of laughter. Krylon: Lil black girls on the school playground. Running shit!!! Because your lyrics and music are so queer, do you write and perform from a specific gender role? Krylon: No, I don’t cuz I am within the limitless gender reality. DavO: I think Kry is the high fashion front woman, he thinks in diva. I am more producer: male minded. How does having a flexible gender influence your music? DavO: We’re into being more musically masculine and more artistically feminine. Krylon: Having a flexible gender is essential to my creativity. It makes me balanced. Was it difficult to find and develop your artistic voice? DavO: I think finding our voice came from Kry and I just kickin’ it. Our music is light and not very thought provoking, so finding our content came very easy. We make songs out of making fun of somebody or an instance, and then turn the joke into a song. Krylon: My voice, well I don’t think my voice matches the way I sound. It is fun and satisfying experimenting with what my voice is and who the person is behind the voice. → 22 How does your music play a role in destabilizing some of the pessimistic views the queer community faces today? Krylon: By breaking queer stereotypes; such as all people are that “Castro cookie cutter gay”, not to discredit that type, but to give credit to all queer realities. DavO: I feel I have to sacrifice quality or musical integrity when listening to other queer artists. With us, I don think that’s the case. What are the intentions in making the music you two do? DavO: Just to kick it and be ourselves. We’re not trying to make it anything, we’re just trying to make it. Krylon: To bring back some fun with sound! To inspire people to dance! What sets Double Duchess apart? DavO: I think its important to announce being a gay artist. The content is gay and the music is raw and hard. Krylon: We are really good at not trying to rule over each other. Double Duchess is unique in that DavO and myself have experienced deep ghetto pain. We both have strong roots in both soul and rock music. What is sex to you? Krylon: The celebration of the human connection with each other. It’s a deep rooted ritual in celebrating human connection in its most raw form. DavO: Sex to me, is a physical expression of love. Are there barriers in society that inhibit your sexual freedom? What are they and how can we remove them? Krylon: Barriers exist where people place them. I choose to do as I want, where I want and from them the consequences, and let the cosmic energy guide me. DavO: Yeah those sexual barriers depend on the individual. I think the barriers are heterocentric. Do you think that a society without gender or sexuality stereotypes is possible? Krylon: I do believe it’s possible. DavO: Yes it’s possible. It will take a lot of years; there’s a lot of correction being done currently. Eventually I think people will be able to embody both masculine and feminine and that will make us more whole. I think once we can safely embody both, we will be able to move more freely in and out of our sexual and gender identity. Krylon: I think it would be different from our own in that it will not be a human perversion. It will be to celebrate in the human conditioning. We would hardly be human without sex. Double Duchess Songs are sexual, sassy, brave, and have a staunch and colorful, “I don’t give a fuck” attitude. How much of the persona we see and hear, are that of your own in your day to day lives? DavO: Its pretty persistent as far as the ‘I don’t give a fuck’ goes, but I think Double Duchess is an outlet for me to act out in and be more free in expressing these parts of myself. I think Kry’s on stage/off stage is very similar. Krylon: All of it is who I am… and then some. Double Duchess is music by freaks, for freaks. Do you want to normalize that aberration, or keep the anomaly at large? DavO: I think if it can give the next generation of queer people more space to be themselves in, then normalizing is what we’re after. Krylon: Keep the anomaly at large! I would suggest people to find a little freak inside them. Sings: “Cause I will be a freak until the day until the dawn!” Hah! 24 YIN SPACE SF Kelly Lovemonster and Alex Rosan are certified massage therapists serving the San Francisco area. Knowledgeable, insightful, therapeutic, and highly skilled in the art of bodywork. Yin Space SF is dedicated to supporting the queer community in healing and is committed to local sustainable business practices. For more information on services and availability please contact Kelly or Alex at email@example.com Feel the Heat, Heart and Spirit of connected sexy kinky play... Gain erotic power and confidence. Cleo Dubois Academy of SM Arts www.sm-arts.com Out and Around is a collection of conversations with gay people around the world who are creating change for the LGBT community. The project mission is to strengthen LGBT communities by sharing their experience of world travel. In June 2011, Jenni and Lisa leave San Francisco to travel the world in search of these, â€œSupergaysâ€?. They will write about the journeys as a lesbian couple and share the accounts of these extraordinary individuals they will meet during their not-so-straight travels. Visit: www.outandaround.com 25 gender is a text field by MAY MAY D evelopmental psychologist Gertrude Wyatt once remarked, the “symbolic transformation of bits of reality into language [is] part and parcel of the individual’s ego development.” If we can accept that, then finding our own words is more than merely good communication, it’s literally necessary for growing up human. There is no more universal human experience than that of describing one’s own identity. As “wrongologist” Kathryn Shulz said, “the miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is. It’s that you can see the world as it isn’t.” This is no more profoundly expressed than through our species’ incredible use of technology, the force of which transforms the impossible into the possible. We have reached a point where arguably the most fundamental of God’s gifts to humankind - words - have come full circle. It is now our words, in the form of programming languages, that are driving the evolution of technology. The corpus of this technological literature changes our physical reality, offering us everything from hormone therapies to space shuttles to online social networks. And as new technologies are developed, technology itself mimics its creator. Except, that is, in at least one very crucial arena: the description of ourselves. To our technology, our genders are among our most baffling human properties. The binary coarseness with which our technology encodes this information should serve as a humbling reminder to anyone arrogantly proclaiming humanity’s superior intelligence; if your laptop’s screen can display millions of colors, why can your Facebook profile only display one of two options for gender? Today’s standard for such things is defined in the International Organization for Standardization’s specification titled “Information technology - Codes for the representation of human sexes,” referred to as ISO 5218. This worldwide standard, most recently updated in July 2004, defines 4 mutually exclusive options: “male”, “female”, “not known”, and “not applicable”. It’s a simple scheme that takes a total of 2 computer bits to record. That’s woefully inadequate-and we can do better. But how? One early attempt called “Yay! Genderform” offers you 947 options using checkboxes, which allows you to combine each “ 26 As Darwin first observed in “On the Origin Of Species”, Kevin Kelley observed in “What Technology Wants”; just as biological organisms evolve and they become more diverse, specialized, complex, and social, so too does technology evolve. “ option with any other option for “a total of 1.1896×10285 or 1.1 quattruornovemgintillion possible combinations, more than there are elementary particles in the universe. If each option were a computer bit, it would take 119 bytes to encode a combination.” Though a good illustration of the problem space, staring at an interface of 947 possible boxes to check isn’t merely practically unusable, it fails to free us from the flawed paradigm’s constraints: we need to break out of boxes altogether. A simple interface can be a gateway to endless possibilities. Take, for example, Google’s famously simple homepage; using just a single text field, Google gives you access to the entire searchable Internet. So, too, can a text field access the symbolic gender galaxy or at least a coordinate within it. The words we use to communicate are the tools with which we teach each other-and our software-about ourselves, who we are, who we like, and why. Designing sexist systems might sound brain-dead, but it’s actually how many people think of gender issues in their mind. They quite literally don’t see different humans as being equal; when two men marry, they need to figure out “which is the wife” and so they literally imbue the code “ For all that our technology knows about you, there are some things it simply does not have the capability to understand. Most websites will offer you a binary option: male or female. After all, computers are good with binaries. But can all of Facebook’s 500+ million users be so neatly categorized? Can you? they write, and the technology they build, with rigidly gendered, technically inaccurate world views. Ultimately, it’s up to us to build a world where we can either limit or accept the possibilities of the people we interact with. Therefore, we ought remember Internet pioneer Jon Postel’s Law: “be liberal in what you accept.” Put another way: don’t limit us with boxes, because, as Eddie Izzard said, “there’s gonna be a lot more guys with makeup during this millennium!” “ Maymay’s: Blog: http://maybemaimed.com Talk show: http://KinkOnTap.com Community: http://KinkForAll.org 27 Illustration by Caio Borges where spirituality and fetish meet by alex rosan S keeter is an awesome inspiration to many of the San Francisco Bay Area inhabitants. Here is a being with a genuine and authentic heart of gold. Her lessons in class range from being okay with, “blossoming your buttocks” to deeper personal and yogic philosophy. She’s also the manager of San Francisco’s most acclaimed fetish leather store. This mix of occupation and her beautiful spirit was the motivation for this interview. You can find Skeeter at Yoga Kula in San Francisco on Monday and Wednesday evenings 7:45-9:15 and Namaste Studio in Oakland Friday evenings 6-7:30. Tell us a little about your role as a yoga teacher and also as a spiritual activist in the world of fetish leather attire and also if and how they tie in together. I see my role as Yoga teacher to be one of a guide back to who we are, a friend to the whole self. I have spent many years finding my way home into this body, after I had spent years trying to leave. I am here to remind us of how to find the way home to an embodied place again. It is an honor. My job as a production manager at a leather store also, in a different way, is about facilitating folks in their journey of self discovery. We all have fantasies and desires, ways in which we feel our sensual selves. Often through shame or secrecy, this can become a warped or negative self image. Bringing that part of ourselves into the light , dressing up, “playing” is part of being able to celebrate the whole, quirky, beautiful way in which we have manifested ourselves in this lifetime. Both roles are a wonderful tantric blend of “all is good” with me. How does gender, in a physical or energetic level, effect the way you approach the practice and teaching of yoga? I enthusiastically encourage people to show up on their mat however they find themselves. Knowing that this can be an ever evolving process, I attempt to create a space of non-judgemental, respect and love, encouraging the community of students to do the same. Including ourselves in the circle of compassion can give us the opportunity to understand that the swirl of masculine/ feminine and spaces weaved between the two, are contained in the fabric of us all... and then it will shift again and again. What inspires you about teaching to such a gender-diverse group of people? It gives me the gift of seeing all parts of myself reflected back. 28 Photo by Priscilla Bertucci Are there practices or techniques you would suggest to get more in touch with the raw and authentic nature of our gender or even of ourselves? Breath a lot and often, breath into the truth of this moment, knowing that it will change and that everything is fluid. If it is all fluid, then we are more able to get unstuck in those boxes and ideas of who we should and need to be. We can begin to enjoy who we truly are. Know that we are all aspects of every gender and move your body around often so that you can learn where you are stuck in belief patterns that are not authentic to your spirit. Your body knows, listen. Where do spirituality and fetish meet? Wherever you want it to. How can we use sexuality to practice a higher form of consciousness? When we truly explore all our desires, those hidden deep and those dancing lightly on the surface, then we are already working on a conscious level that is expanding. To keep parts of us hidden, in the dark, under cover of shame, means we have to cut parts of ourselves off and put a lid on mindful, conscious living. Our sexuality is integral direction... we can suppress it and therefore some truth about us, or use it as a loud blow horn to distract ourselves and others from all else that we are. What are your thoughts on the yogic practice of brahmacharya (celibacy)? I think that for some beings, this lifetime may be about following paths that can be diluted or distracted from, by sex and sexual intimacy with another. Sex has so many facets that can get twisted and the story can be one of old patterns and issues being worked out. By taking a period of time (maybe a lifetime) where the the concentrated focus of desire, love and yearnings are turned towards one self, where the body, it’s meaning and value are exclusive to one’s self... then we may be better able to open that wellspring of love and devotion to a wider appreciation of all the ways in which we manifest our sensual selves. However, although I think it is of benefit for us all to experience the meditation of celibacy, I also don’t think it is everyone’s journey at all and that exploring sexuality with another is a joyful and heart stretching exercise. What is your message to the world? Live a big life, so that we may have truly experienced you. 29 Photo by Ana Grillo 100 queers polled The construction of gender is? Genetic (1%) Biological (0%) Social (19%) Psychological (4%) Some or all of the above (69%) Something else entirely (7%) USA (75.71%) Brazil (11.43%) Canada (4.29%) Great Britain (2.86%) Germany (2.86%) Turkey (1.43%) Spain (1.43%) www.ssexbbox.com Photos: Priscilla Bertucci and Lara Castagna