In Those Moments

In my experience when you read about poly relationships, people tend to cast it all in one light; it’s always either the greatest or the hardest thing that they’ve ever done. The truth is it’s a bit of  both and often at the same time. There is a lot of struggle but there is also a lot of reward if you can be patient even when it isn’t easy to be (and it often isn’t). Anyone that tells you that it’s easier than (or less of) a commitment than monogamy is misleading you; the struggles are different but they aren’t less and they are quite often more complicated.

We are all full of moving parts and the number of them that have to work together to keep everyone feeling fulfilled grows with each new addition to a polycule. It’s easy to think of only your own part of a relationship by default, but in order to maintain healthy boundaries and balance, you have to be aware of your needs, your partners needs and often their partners needs.

My time with Maeve has been filled with so many wonderful moments and some really difficult ones as well. Learning to balance needs and expectations in a new non-monogamous relationship has been a challenge for everyone involved and at times we’ve all alternately shined or failed. I’ve illustrated some of those moments below in hopes of giving a more balanced and realistic view of what struggles and triumphs poly life can bring.

Sitting on the floor of the hotel suite at the sex party the day we met; I wanted to kiss her on the forehead as she laid curled up in the chair falling asleep. Everyone else around us was still circling looking for sex and I just wanted to pull her up on to my lap and hold her as she dozed off. I  hadn’t slept with anyone that night and whenever she walked into the room, I  couldn’t help but look her way. This is the first moment in a long time I’d felt a real want for someone and it caught me off guard.

On our first date when she invited herself in and we fell asleep having fooled around but not fucked. The next morning we woke early and did sleep together and it was even better for having waited the night. Before she went home to Quinn I told her that I hoped that I could see her again. This is the first moment that I realized that I didn’t just want something casual with her, I wanted to date her non-monogamously.

Driving through the smokey mountains together, I told her things about myself that were deeply intimate and that some other girlfriends/partners had taken issue with in the past, particularly things about my work in adult entertainment. We talked about scenes I’d performed in and the people that I performed with and it was the first time in a long time a partner asked me questions with a sincere interest and not just morbid curiosity. This is the moment that I realized that I didn’t have to compartmentalize who I am with Maeve.

We walked through the isles of the leather shop that I’d frequented in my impressionable youth and we found a red leather posture collar with black piping on it. I told Maeve to lift her hair and turn around and when she did, I buckled the collar, making sure that it was a good fit. She turned around and I grabbed the ring, watching the flicker of  excitement crawl across her face as she looked deep into my eyes. This is the first moment that I felt like we were really committing to something long term. We’d been living in the moment up until then and spoke of future plans, but that moment felt like the promise of a tomorrow together. 

We sat there in the August warmth on a wooden bench, listening to the Celtic band playing music in the makeshift outdoor tavern. She had one foot up on the bench in front of us and when her leg poked out from beneath her dress, I ran my fingers along her soft skin. “I want to go to Edinburgh with you!” she said excitedly and I  realized that I wanted to go everywhere with her. She looked at me with those bright eyes and I thought ‘oh fuck’. This is the moment that I knew beyond a doubt that I was in love with her.

On the plane on the way home from our road trip she curled up on me and slept. I  ran my fingers through her hair and breathed her in as I  planted little kisses on the top of her head. She’d asked earlier in the day “”How are we going to make this work when we get home? We both have such busy lives!”. I’d reassured her in the moment, but holding her on the plane, I  was worried that seeing each other would be hard. She had another partner that she lived with (Quinn) and we both had a lot of travel coming up; I knew I  wanted to see her as much as I could but I wasn’t sure how much would be possible or how to reconcile that with what I    wanted from this very new relationship with her.  This is the first moment that I saw and felt the edges and limits of our relationship.

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Hellos & Goodbyes

I’d slept for just a little over an hour in two days when I got home from my trip and Emma’s going away party was planned for just a few hours after my touchdown. I was in a haze as I spoke to the woman next to me on the plane, collecting my bags, as I climbed in a cab to go back to my apartment.

When I got home, I emptied my suitcase and started a load of laundry, counting the number of minutes before I’d have to leave again. I had just enough time to shut my eyes for half of an hour and laying across my bed in the afternoon sun, I fell asleep fast and hard. I hit snooze twice when my alarm went off and then forced myself out of bed and into the shower, where I found that my hot water heater was out again. The spray of cold water helped wake me up as I shivered and washed away the feeling of airports and travel.

Emma texted me that she was running late and that she’d meet me at my apartment on the way to Daniels so we could go together from there. We grabbed a cab and caught up on the way, not having seen each other in a week.

We’d been seeing each other non-monogamously for a few months and her going away party was being thrown by one of her partners; this was the first time we were to all spending time together, though I’d met Daniel on one other occasion and his partner Harper on another.

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Non-Monogamy Q&A with Sailor Luna and Sofie Marie

For the second installment of my ‘Non-Monogamy Q&A‘ series with adult performers, I     interviewed Sailor Luna and Sofie Marie . Both are adult performer who you may have seen on sites like EvilAngel or Reality Junkies

Were you monogamous or non monogamous prior to working in adult?

Sailor Luna: I think before porn I was both but at different times. I’d have monogamous relationships but In between those I would sometimes have multiple partners.
Sometimes they knew of each other and others didn’t.

Sofie Marie: I was very monogamous and not that into sex, and I had had just 2 long term relationships, and literally a couple of other boyfriends I call the “3 monthers” (relationships that lasted three months). I didn’t even know what swinging was until I met the man that I am now married to now! Now I love sex, and I have had a “few” more partners!

What impact has working in adult had on your relationships one way or another?

Sailor Luna: It’s affected a lot of my relationships but not always negatively. The people I least expected to left me high and dry and others were just really cruel. So now my romantic partners are in the adult industry and I have good friends inside and outside the industry that genuinely love me. I’m lucky enough to have a good relationship with my parents and extended family
But only my parents know about my career choice. We talk everyday.

Sofie Marie: My husband has been in the “lifestyle” (swinging) for many years, and we
took my sexual exploration and discovery really slowly, at my pace. By the time I decided to start doing adult, I had been a bikini model… then nude model, and a sometime swinger. So I would have to say, doing adult has had no change in my attitude or relationship at all, except to make it all more fun!

Do you experience jealousy with partners? If so, how do you deal with it?

Sailor Luna: Actually it probably sounds like a lie but I don’t have to deal with too much jealousy at all, it mostly comes from me but I don’t really act on it. I just feel it and let it go. I’m really happy with the roughly two partners I have now.

Sofie Marie: My husband taught me that jealousy is a feeling, based upon our own insecurities, not the other person’s behavior. I have no need for jealousy in our relationship. Since my marriage is rock solid and we respect and love each other; so sex can be just sex!

How do you deal with jealousy from your partners about people you work with or are otherwise involved with?

Sailor Luna: They are both really cool and we all I think kind of do our own thing to an extent so there’s a lot of independence. However I feel very close to both of them and other “less serious” partners i have.

Sofie Marie: We don’t seem to have a “jealousy” issue in my adult work, but I do see jealousy in the swinger community, and we shy away from all of that drama.

What appeals to you the most about non monogamy?

Sailor Luna: That I am not putting all of my needs on to one person. I have a lot of feelings and issues, it can be super overwhelming and I think I’m doing everyone a favor by talking about with a lot of my friends.

Sofie Marie: The adventure and variety force me to experience new and sometimes
uncomfortable things, and those experiences have made me grow as a person, lover, partner, and performer. I have to get out of my sweats into lingerie! I love my job and it requires LOTS of partners!!

 

What does your ideal relationship look like?

Sailor Luna: I guess my ideal relationship is the one I have now maybe? I am in an open relationship with two people and one of them lives out of town so that’s easy for me to give him my attention when we are together because it doesn’t happen often. My other main partner lives near me and we see each other almost every day and he’s really just easy going. I let him know he’s free to do as he wants and i wouldn’t be mad. He tells me when he fools around with other girls off camera or when they go out. It’s nice really because then I can get to know a girl and maybe even make friends, i know his needs are being met, he’s happy and satisfied with his life, his career. He is making friends and other healthy relationships that will make him feel loved and cared for etc. etc. I suppose anyone else outside of that is just very casual and not really a “relationship” and mostly just friends or “fuck buddies”.
Another ideal relationship would be to have a girlfriend as my main partner and then we could both fuck other men and women, together or alone. Everyone I am with is free to make as many relationships as they want, serious or not serious. As long as they are happy and taken care of, I am happy.

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Non-Monogamy Q&A with Kayden Kross

As a long time adult entertainment professional, I’ve gone through different phases of monogamous and non-monogamous relationships, sometimes dictated by my work and other times as a matter of personal choice. Each of those relationships have looked a bit different and ultimately the boundaries and rules have been specific to each partner. I  decided to interview a handful of fellow adult entertainment professionals, beginning with superstar Kayden Kross, to get their take on how they balance commitment in their personal relationships and their work in adult entertainment.

Before we dive into Kayden’s answers, I wanted to take a moment to give a loose definition of non-monogamy and polyamory for those that may not be familiar. I’d also like to note that there are MANY different versions, variations, sub categories and definitions of non monogamous relationships and while I’m not going to dive into them all in this post, I have addressed some of them personally and will continue to do so in future posts and interviews.

Non-Monogamy: Sometimes referred to as ‘ethical non-monogamy’ (when everyone is honest and/or open about it), this can cover a wide number of situations, including cheating, polyamory, swinging, open relationships…pretty much anything that isn’t a traditionally monogamous relationship.

Polyamory: Like non-monogamy, this gives partners the freedom to sleep with others, but the key difference is that polyamory is a term more specific to love and long term relationships than it is sexual freedom.

I  found a post from Quora user Claire J. Vannette which it’s a pretty simple way of looking at polyamory:

If your relationship is polyamorous and open, then it’s kosher for you to take new relationships, and you may fall in love with your partners. My relationships work this way.

If your relationship is polyamorous and closed, then you have more than one partner but have agreed not to take any new ones. For example, you could have a closed triad, a group of three people who are only involved with each other and don’t get involved with anyone else.

If your relationship is open and not polyamorous, then you may take new partners, but these connections are not supposed to be romantic. Swingers often have sex outside their main relationship, but keep it casual.

If your relationship is neither open nor polyamorous, you’re probably monogamous.

I reached out to Kayden Kross, creator of Trenchcoat X first, who along with partner Manuel Ferrara are in a non-monogamous relationship. Both are long time celebrated adult entertainment performers, directors and producers (and two of my favorite people in the industry). I asked Kayden for her perspective because I’ve always appreciated the fact that she and Manuel are able to balance their personal and professional lives in a way that works for them. #relationshipgoals

Kayden Kross

1.Were you monogamous or non monogamous prior to working in adult?
I was supposed to be monogamous. I remember that much. But I tended to stray.

2. What impact has working in adult had on your relationships one way or another?
It’s forced me to focus on something beyond the sex in the relationship. I didn’t do that before adult.

3. Do you experience jealousy with partners? If so, how do you deal with it?
I do. Not sexual jealousy, per se. Attention jealousy, time jealousy. That’s been a mainstay in my relationships for a long time.

4. How do you deal with jealousy from your partners about people you work with or are otherwise involved with?
It’s a mixture of rationalizing it and trying to find the root of the problem. There’s usually something more going on by the time I begin to clearly recognize that I feel jealousy.

5. What appeals to you the most about non monogamy?
The non monotony

6. What does your ideal relationship look like?
Supportive, equally yoked, and passionate

7. How do you personally define commitment?
I think commitment is something you have when your first instinct is to fight for the relationship rather than let it wither when things get tough

8. Do you have specific boundaries in your relationship or things that you won’t do with anyone other than your primary partner?
Many

9. Do you have and/or believe in partner/relationship privilege?
Absolutely. I think it’s necessary. How that looks differs from couple to couple but if you’re not number one in some capacity then why bother?

Where can people find/follow you?
twitter @kayden_kross insta @clubkayden

**

Further Reading and Resources about Non-Monogamy

A fun map of Non-monogamy by Franklin Veaux

A fun flow chart about different types of non monogamy
Non monogamy diagram courtesy of Franklin Veaux

***

Some additional reading about non monogamy:

Seven Forms of Non Monogamy  Via Psychology Today

What is Ethical non Monogamy? By UncommonLove

The Roads We Travel

We drove east through the Smokies, the sun bleeding out over the top of the trees as it sank slowly on that August afternoon. Maeve sat next to me and I slipped my fingers under her dress and behind the rope that I’d tied between her legs, giving it a gentle pull. Her mouth fell open as the rope tightened and the knot that I’d made rubbed against her pussy over her pink panties. She sat back against the seat and spread her legs for me as she looked a little bashfully at the cars passing around us.

That morning before we’d left the motel, I’d tied the rope around her waist and between her legs while she smiled at me, happy about it and proud of it. We’d driven for miles that way and I knew that she wanted to be played with. When we stopped at a rest stop, she snapped a picture of herself, tucking that moment away for later. Back in the car we kissed and it made me want her so badly, just as it always does.

We rolled through the mountains and I kept one hand on the wheel using the other to tease and torment her, pulling at the rope between her legs and running my fingers over the outline of her sex as I felt her starting to soak through her panties. I reached into the bag behind my seat and pulled out the vibrating wand; her smile widening when she saw it. I turned it on and pressed it against the rope between her legs, watching her eyes fall shut.

Cars and trucks passed us as I ran the vibrator across the rope. She leaned against the window and gripped the seat, spreading her legs in want and raising herself up when I teased her by pulling the vibrator a little out of reach.

“Can I please come” she asked and I said nothing.

“Please” she asked again, with a growing urgency in her voice.

Maeve isn’t allowed to come without permission and I like to take her as close as possible to breaking the rule as I can before I give it to her. 

“Please may I come!” She said a third time.

“Come for me now” I  said to her and she moaned, letting go of the orgasm she’d been barely keeping at bay, sinking into the seat.

She leaned over and rested her head on my shoulder, wrapping both of her arms around one of mine. I could smell the wind in her hair when I kissed the top of her head and I could feel her smile grow as she pressed her lips to my skin.

I reveled in the feeling of that new relationship taking shape as we continued east through the mountains. Everything felt natural with Maeve, even the spur of the moment road trip that we were on. We’d only been on a handful of dates when I  brought up the potential of taking it myself.

“Do you want a road trip buddy?” she’d asked and I could feel myself falling fast, having already contemplated asking her to come with. We pulled the trip together in a very short amount of time and having her there with me on a road in the middle of nowhere felt like a lucid dream.

We rolled on through the mountains, listening to Holly Randall’s podcast about adult entertainment as the day faded away. Under a clear nights sky, we told stories and held hands, playing each other music and sometimes singing along to the radio.

It’d been a long time since anyone made me feel anything other than passing fascination and I wasn’t expecting how quickly and heavily I was falling for Maeve. There were plenty of times when my head told my heart to slow down, but my heart’s never been the reasonable type.

It’d also been a while since I’d seen anyone non-monogamously. It was taking some getting used to, to feel like I wasn’t asking too much too soon. In the moments when I pulled back a little because of that, Maeve was there to pull me forward again.

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10 Questions With Abella Danger

Abella Danger for LesbianX.com

1. How long have you been in the industry? I shot my first scene in July 2014, I shot five from July to August just with my ex boyfriend then in September of that year I became a Spiegler girl and officially started shooting every day consistently.

2. What sites would we most likely know you from? I mean, besides being the AVN Best New Starlet of 2017? I would say Girlsway, PureTaboo, Hard X, EvilAngel, and JulesJordan .

3. Was porn an industry you sought out, or did you happen upon it?
Porn definitely found me haha, but it was an instant match

4. Were you in a relationship when you started?
Yes, the person I shot my first five scenes with was my boyfriend at the time of filming and before I ever shot.

5. How does the fact that being non-monogamous is part of the territory for work in adult entertainment factor into your relationships?
It actually limited my choices a lot, most men (at least the ones I’ve met) have found it almost impossible to fathom the idea of other men inside me multiple times a week, especially knowing how much I genuinely do enjoy it. It’s almost hard for them to want to deal with because so many woman exist in the world who would never put them in such a predicament. But then again I’m not a man so I don’t know, I barely understand myself sometimes.

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After All These Years

 

October-All those Years Ago

The room was dark and the music was a little too loud, just like it always is in strip clubs. They pump as much excitement into the air as they can, hoping that it’ll make people open their wallets for expensive drinks and lap dances. I  saw Riley from across the room, our eyes meeting the second that I passed through the door; she was who I was there to see.

Riley hugged me and took my face in her hands for a moment before I took a seat in the chair and she took one on my lap. She has long dark hair, pale skin and smoky eyes; her typically warm smile seemed to be weighed down a little by something that night, but I didn’t quite understand just then what it was.

She ran her fingers through my hair and was affectionate, but something felt different; she touched me the way that you do when you have something hard to tell someone that you care about. I felt that something to say coming and I could feel my heart beat a little faster while I waited for her to be ready to say it. She leaned in close, whispering over the music and the noise, her face out of view.

“I got married today” she said and I closed my eyes, trying to let those words sink in.

I knew she was engaged; she told me when her boyfriend came back to town that they had. It was an effort to save their on again, off again relationship and it was what she felt she was supposed to do. We’d spent a lot of time together while he was away and even though we kept respectable boundaries, there were so many times when it had been a challenge for both of us. There was always something unspoken between us and if I’d ever doubted that before, it was plain as day in the face of that news.

She sat back and looked at me; I studied her face and I  saw all sorts of things, but happiness wasn’t one of them. She smoothed my hair down from where her fingers had been in it as we both tried to figure out what to do and what to say. I offered my congratulations and wished her well, which I’m not sure was what she really wanted from me but it’s what you are supposed to say when you hear what should be good news. There wasn’t much else either of us could say; we both knew that we’d missed our moment and saying it out loud wasn’t going to make anything easier for either of us. We looked at each other and did our best to smile like we meant it.

**

Four Months Ago

Riley texted me on a Saturday evening, when it just so happened that we were both back in town on the same day. She sent me a message saying that she was going back to the club to work for the night and that I should come out and see her if I was up for it.

I’d given her my number via social media and I wasn’t sure that she would use it. It’d been a long time since I’d seen her and I wasn’t sure if she was just being polite when she told me that I should tell her if I came back to that town where neither of us really lived in anymore. When she texted me that she was here, I was surprised and I  knew that I had to see her. I walked the dozen or so blocks from where I was staying and I  found myself back in a room that on the surface hadn’t really changed since that night eight years ago when she told me that she was married.

She led me out on to the courtyard and we sat beneath the nights sky while we caught up. There were lights strung between the buildings and a slow night meant that there were a handful of others dancers sitting out there smoking, waiting for customers to come in.

A lot’s happened since then, for both of us. I’ve been in and out of relationships; she’s gotten divorced and had a baby. We’ve both done a lot of living since then and lot’s of things have changed, but there was an instant comfort in being near her that proved to me that some things never do.

We talked for a while before she had to go back inside and work and it often felt like old times. When the subject of what happened all those years ago came up, we both shied away from it a little and found ourselves in a silent moment.

“I think I’ll always love you in some way” , she said and I knew just how she felt; she’d just been the braver of us for having said it out loud.

I left that night feeling like it might be the last time I saw her, but I hoped that wouldn’t be the case. In the days to come I texted her, telling her when I extended my stay once, twice more but slowly I started to believe that was the end of our story.

***

This Friday Past

 I was surprised when I heard from her again early on a Saturday morning a few weeks ago. We met up briefly that day and again this past Friday, before she went in to work. I sat at the bar with her while she put on her makeup and we caught up on each others lives. I told her about Maeve and the struggles I was having navigating non monogamy with her and she told me about the last person she’d dated.

“Oh! Listen to this: my ex texted me today and reminded me that eight years ago today, we got married.” she said.

The timing was uncanny, as I’d just been working on this post before I left the house to meet her and that day eight years ago was heavily on my mind.

“I didn’t want to tell you” she said of that long ago night.

“There was unhappiness all over your face and that’s what made me sad. If we couldn’t be together, I at least wanted you to be happy” I admitted for the first time.

“That’s the thing though, I wasn’t sure that we couldn’t be together.” she said, which was both wonderful and heartbreaking to hear.

We fell into a little silence then, one that broke when the bartender came by and asked us if we needed anything. It wasn’t long after that she told me she had to go; she paid for my drink when she settled her own tab and we left the bar together.

“I’ve got to go get lashes, do you want to walk with me?” she asked.

“I’ll take any excuse I can get to spend a little more time with you” I  said. She smiled, glancing at me out of the corner of her eye.

Inside the costume shop she talked about her daughter and their plans for Halloween. We walked through the isles together before she asked the man behind the counter for the lashes that she needed. I watched her; the way she moved, the way she spoke to others, the way that she looked at me. It made me happy and also a little sad at the same time; just like it always had.

She paid for the things that she bought and as we walked toward the door, she reached out and ran her fingers through the back of my long hair. I  closed my eyes for an instant and felt like time had folded, bringing those eight years together into one moment.

She apologized for doing it and I didn’t have the right words just then to tell her how much that little tenderness meant to me. Out in the streets we talked as I walked her toward the place where I knew that we had to part company;  she was headed to the strip club and I  was headed to the movies with a friend. She put her arm on my shoulder playfully as we walked; I liked that closeness and even the ache that it made me feel.

“It’s funny how full circle these last eight years have brought us” I  said.

“I can’t think of anyone that I’d rather be with today” she said as we both smiled at the ground.

We got to the corner where we were going to part ways and she put her hand up for an awkward  high five as I  said goodbye. Our fingers intertwined for a split second as we started to pull away and she looked down bashfully as she walked away. I  continued on down the street and looked back, catching one last glimpse of her before she was swallowed up by the crowd.

In my heart a forgotten ache turned over and wrapped itself up into a feeling of new want, twisting again and again, making it hard to tell one from the other. I  also couldn’t quite tell if we were picking up the thread or finding a more fitting end to what happened in the past. I  don’t know what she feels, but I  know how I do when I’m with her or when I feel her fingers in my hair.

 

When You Wake

She picked me up from the airport on a scorching Friday afternoon. My flight was delayed by a day returning from a work trip and when she offered for a second time to come and pick me up at the airport, I’d accepted.

She threw her arms around me and I  wrapped mine around her waist, burying my face into her neck as I squeezed just a little too tightly. I breathed her in and she smelled like summer and happiness and a little bit of longing. Cars passed all around us and people rushed past us at the end of their own trips, but none of that mattered when I  held her in my arms and kissed her the kiss I’d been waiting for days for.

The ride back to the city was one that I’d taken plenty of times, but I can’t recall a detail about anything that we passed that day because I was too caught up in the happiness of just being close to her. We talked while she drove and I ran my fingers over her legs as I looked at her and reveled in how fortunate I was to be with her. I  watched the effect of my touch as my fingers ran across her pale skin, up under the edge of her shorts, touching the fabric of her panties.She had me in a perpetual state of wanting and I had to slow my hands, my mouth, my words from raging like a wildfire when I was near her because I wanted her, again and again and always.

We hadn’t known each other for very long then, but I’d felt that longing viscerally the moment that I laid eyes on her. It caught me off guard and I didn’t know what to do with it at first because I remembered suddenly what it was like to want and it felt like suddenly catching ahold of a piece of a dream that you’d forgotten you had.

The first time that I met her, she’d come to the apartment that I was staying in with the friend that I was renting it from. I opened the door to greet Quinn expecting him to be alone, but when he stepped aside I saw her framed in the doorway with the midday sun shining behind her. He introduced me to her as his girlfriend Maeve as she glided into the apartment and melted into the couch, peeking up at us every now and then over her phone as we talked.

I  can picture the angle of her legs as she sat there and remember how differently the room felt with the two of them in it.

Just a moment before it had been a quiet, sleepy place and now every time either of them moved I felt a rumble run through me like thunder rolling in from a distance on a hot August afternoon.

Quinn had lived there with his wife Fiona and now the lot of them lived together with one other person in an open home. They’d all shared time together in the apartment we were standing in and while they were all ever present there, but I’d never felt it as acutely as I did just then.I felt for a moment like I was trespassing in Quinn’s life; sleeping in his bed at night and then this immediate and intense attraction to Maeve.

I’d known Quinn for years and we’d shared enough between us that it was foolish to feel that way, but as it stood it would take some time of thinking about it (and seeing her with him again) before I asked for his blessing to see her. He stopped by to get the mail one day and as he walked down the steps to go, I  pulled the trigger and asked if he would be ok with it, ready to respect his wishes if he said no. He came back up and gave me a hug and said yes, laying those fears to rest. Still, I thought about it for almost a week before I reached out to her.

I added her on Facebook and sent her a message, feeling like I was asking for a first date a second time after having asked Quinn’s permission to do so. She responded a few hours later and by the end of the week, we met for dinner for the first time.

She met me at Quinn’s old apartment and we took a car service from there to one of her favorite places, which was on the other side of town. When I opened the car door to let Maeve in, we noticed the beadwork that covered every inch of the interior and the drivers pride in it set an fun tone to the ride over.He drove erratically, looking back over his shoulder at us as he raced us toward our destination and complained about how no one in this state knows how to drive. All the chaos was somehow all very amusing with Maeve beside me.

The sun was still high in the summer sky when we took our seat inside the restaurant: it still felt a little surreal to be there with her.Looking across the table at her I felt incredibly fortunate to be with her; I looked into her bright, shiny eyes and I felt like I could get lost in them for the rest of my life. When she smiled her warm smile her eyes smiled too and again she was almost too beautiful for me to look at.

The conversation over dinner took all kinds of twists and turns and the more I got to see of her, the more fascinated I was by her She’s smart and thoughtful and caring, but there is a dirty side to her that’s hard to see through her shine, but in those moments that she showed it to me, it made me want her even more.

She has a kind of innocent shine about her that she sometimes likes to smudge by saying fantastically filthy things. She can look at you with a sweet smile and tell you things that she wants you to do to her and even if you’ve never considered those things before, you want to do every single one of them to her, for her, with her.

We talked about sex parties and movies and what it was like growing up and every story brought me closer to the picture of who she was. The way that she looked at me made me want to kiss her and as we paid the bill, I hoped that when the moment came she would let me.

We took another car back to my apartment and I  considered just how to ask her to come inside but when we arrived she climbed the steps to the door without a word. We sat on the couch and talked for a while before I asked her what she wanted to do. She smiled at me with and I knew what she would say before she said it, but I wanted to hear it.

“I was hoping you would tie me up”, she said.
This is something that we’d talked about late at night at a party, the second time that I ever met her.She sat on the floor next to me, wearing knee high white wool socks and I kept wanting to touch her legs as I  buzzed from champagne and the hum of sex happening all around us. We were feet away from where people into the bathtub when she asked me what my thing was, what I was into.

“Rope” I said as she smiled at me. “Doing the tying, more specifically”

“You should bring some the next time we have a party. There is always a line for a good rope top” she said and I had the feeling then that I would get my chance with her and that night of our first date was when it presented itself.

I  undressed her in the bedroom, taking in the site of her soft slender body, noting the curve of her hips and the proportion of them to her tiny waist. Her tiny pink nipples were hard and her lips parted as I wrapped the rope around her wrists.I traced my fingers over her collar bones and breasts, down across her hips and between her legs where I could feel the slickness forming even through the fabric. Turning her around, I bent her over the bed and pulled her panties down slowly.My eyes ran over the curve of her ass, down to her legs, loving the way she looked as she flexed up on to her toes so that I could pull her panties the rest of the way off.

The little moans that she made as I ran my hand between her legs were beautiful, as were the gasps when I  brought a hand down on her ass.I loved leaving my print on her pale skin while alternating between making her focus on the fingers sliding inside of her and the firm hand coming down on her ass. I  waited until I  saw her knees begin to go weak and I  turned her around and pushed her up onto the bed, watching her as she slipped into that headspace where all you can do is wait for what comes next and want.

Kissing my way down her inner thighs I breathed in the smell of her skin and her sex. I teased her with the gentle trace of my mouth across the soft, fine hair that covered her pussy before pressing a kiss that sent a shudder through her body.I  pressed deep into her as I  lifted her up and buried my mouth into her, losing myself in the taste of her, in the smell of her, in the sounds she made as I ran my tongue over her again and again. She arched her back and pressed herself into me as she gushed into my mouth and then slowly collapsed down onto my bed, on his bed, on their bed. I kissed her, cradling her against me as she tasted herself on my lips.

That night she fell asleep curled up in my arms and we woke later in the night to fuck for the first time.We drifted in an out of a dreamlike state of touching and kissing and fucking all night long and in the in-between we slept soundly, tangled up in one another. In the morning, I was drunk on the taste of her and high on the smell of her and I wanted nothing more than to stay in bed with her all day. This is the first time that I realized she was an addiction and that I would have a hard time breaking myself of it, if I could ever even see fit to try. When she finally had to leave I was already thinking of when I might be able to see her again; it’s safe to say that she was already under my skin.

When she offered to pick me up from the airport, I hesitated at first. Not because I didn’t want her to, but because I really did and I needed to consider what that meant.

‘Be careful’ I thought, but I didn’t listen to myself.

‘Go slow’ I said to myself, but I didn’t know how to with her.

When we got back to my apartment, I unloaded my bag from the trunk and she sheepishly said goodbye.

Aren’t you coming inside?” I asked.

I didn’t want to assume…” she replied, but we both knew exactly where we wanted to be.

Amidst the Flowers

 That night the flowers bloomed.

The landlord told me they were called ‘night blooming ceres’ (Queen of the Night) and he’d been waiting patiently for the night to come in which they would open. They grew in the courtyard behind my apartment on Esplanade and opened in the early days of October; true to their name, they were there one brief moment and gone the next day. I can vividly recall the way that they smell and the way the petals felt when I held one flower delicately in my hand.

I was out that evening with friends and I’d gravitated toward Veda, who I always had a bit of a crush on (and felt she was out of my league). She was in the same band I was in and one of the reasons I stayed with it so long is because it meant that I got to spend time with her. We talked before practice and sometimes we caught a ride home together afterwords

Veda made me feel like the mistakes that I’d made in life were the most interesting thing about me and I found myself about some of my darkest corners because of it. Our friendship was strange, mixed with brutal honesty and warmth: she devastated me with her smile which she was just as likely to be wearing when she gave me a compliment as when she told me to go to hell. She could speak the truth and convince me that it wouldn’t kill me to hear it, giving me advice that was hard to swallow with just enough sugar in it to help it go down. To this day there are things that happen in my life that make me want to know what Veda would have said about them.

My landlord called that evening and told me the flowers had opened and I wish I would have asked her to come see them with me. I came so close, telling her where I was going and why when I left the bar. I hesitated though, because I thought it might be silly or cliché to ask her to leave our friends and walk the fifteen or so blocks with me to my place at midnight just to look at the flowers, no matter how remarkable they might be.

I missed out on something that night and I could feel it when we talked later. Veda had written a play and she left to tour with it shortly after that night, so we wouldn’t see each other again for some time. She sent me a postcard once from the road and it made me smile and ache at the same time when I  turned over the middle-of-nowhere photo and read her writing on the back of it, signed off with just one letter.

Somewhere in the middle of it all she started seeing someone and so did I but that sheepish bittersweet tinge that you can see on peoples faces was on both of ours when we crossed paths.  and that seemed to me that what we missed that night in the garden might have been more than just the flowers.

I had dreams of being in that garden with her and of conversations that we never had, of moments that never happened and of words that I’d never got the chance to say to her. In my dreams it was always just after dusk and we were waiting for the flowers to open, but they never did. Once I dreamt that we were in the garden the day after they blossomed and all the blooms littered the ground around our feet and the smell of them hung in the air like a memory of something that had happened only a moment ago. Those were just dreams though and we both moved in different directions; I    never did have a chance to show her that garden.

Veda passed away a few short years later, taken swiftly and quietly by cancer. To this day, I can’t think of ‘night blooming ceres’ without picturing her and if I walk past them while they are in bloom my heart aches. Like that rare and beautiful flower she owned the night that she lived in and was gone all too soon. Fittingly, on her shoulder Veda had a tattoo of a fleur of her own and the word ‘tojour’, which is just how long she’ll be missed.

Blue

I was barely 18 when I lived in that tiny city; I’d moved there with no plan and little money to live with my high school best friend who didn’t want to live in the dorms any more after being repeatedly harassed for being openly gay. He found the place all on his own and called me one day to propose the idea to me. The rent was cheap because the house needed a lot of work, but we didn’t mind the state of things, because it seemed full of potential and more importantly; it offered freedom. I wasn’t planning on enrolling in school because I couldn’t afford it, but it did meet my criteria of being anywhere other than where I was from.

I figured I’d find work of some sort, but it was a broke town full of college students fighting for jobs that they could work around their studies, which meant that wages were low and most places were only looking for part timers. The gig that I finally managed to land painting and sanding decks wasn’t enough to keep me afloat and if it rained, we didn’t work and I didn’t get paid.

When money got tight, we took in two more roommates, including someone who took up residence in our attic. We made spaghetti in big pots because it was cheap and would feed us for  for a couple of days: we plotted between mouthfuls on how we could dig ourselves out of poverty. Loans, get money fast schemes like pay at the door parties all were discussed, but we were lacking the life’s experience to pull most of these ideas off properly.

The only one of us who was steadily employed mopped up come at the adult movie theater across the street from our house.  I’d go sit inside the store with him after they closed because I  was waiting for something, anything interesting to happen to meOne night while I waited for him to finish work I spotted an ad on the dirty cork board nailed to the pink walls near the rack of impossible large dildosIt said ‘Adult Male Performers Wanted’ and I tore one of the perforated phone numbers from the sheet, stuffing it in my pocket quickly. I knew if my roommate spotted me and would give me all kinds of grief about it.

I waited a few days before calling, not certain what the ad meant I’d be doing and I was both a little reluctant and little turned on about what it could entail. Dialing the number from a payphone made my heart thump loudly and when the voice on the other end of the line told me I’d reached a hair salon, I almost hung up, thinking it was a mistake.

“I’m calling about the ad for performers?” I managed to say quietly, still unsure I’d dialed correctly.

The woman on the other end of the phone asked how old I was and I added a year to my age for no good reason, because you only need to be 18 to strip in bars in that city, even if you aren’t old enough to drink in them. She asked me if I was ok dancing for both men and women and I said yes without thinking it through and then wondered for a moment if I really would be.

She invited me to come to her salon the next day, which was outside of the city proper and I hopped in my car not sure what to expect. I used a map and took dirt roads to the address she’d given and when I pulled up in front of the little free-standing building I had second thoughts. I sat in my car listening to the radio before working up the courage to head inside.

The woman cutting hair was in her late forties, with darkly lined eyes and a low cut sweater.  She looked up at me, knowing already who I  was and said she’d be right with me. She finished the client whose hair she was cutting and after seeing him out the door, she told me to take a seat in her chair. She trimmed my hair while we talked, asking me questions about myself as she circled me. I could smell her perfume, which was familiar to me, but I couldn’t remember the name of it; to this day if I smell it, I think of her.

She was careful not to put too much emphasis on the fact that I’d be dancing in front of men more often than women, but I was more worried that she’d ask me to pay for the haircut and I wouldn’t have enough money in to cover it and eat that day.  Thinking back on it now I realize she knew exactly what she was doing; she had my number in a way that I didn’t see then. She was sizing me up from the moment that she answered the phone.

When I was done she took me out behind the building and had me pose for a few Polaroids against the brick building. She got me to lift my shirt up a little, showing off the trim, androgynous body that I had back then and that was the photo that she put on all the posters that she had printed. She was subtle about all of it and managed to get exactly what she wanted without ever having to press because I wanted her to want me to be a part of this all. I can remember the way she looked at me, smiling at me, narrowing her eyes as she told me she’d let me audition that weekend when we both already knew that I was in.

I was young and hadn’t had many sexual experiences, but the ones that I had were complicated and intense in a way that was far beyond my years. I’d lost my virginity to a woman who was 10 years older, had a threesome with a married couple and I knew without a doubt that I was kinky. I wasn’t afraid of what I might not like, I was afraid of what I might be missing out on. That eagerness was exactly what Dee smelled on me and she knew that it would make us both money.

Dee added me to the lineup of the next gig she’d booked and put me on the poster with the name ‘Angel’ written beneath it. I  liked it, but I told her that I liked ‘Phantasm’ better because it sounded dark and somehow untouchable to me. I picked a Nine Inch Nails track for my first song and when they called ‘Angel’ to stage, I shot her a look. Her expression told me that she was putting me in my place just a little and I sort of liked it, but eventually I got my way and the name that I wanted.

The bar we were in the first night was a gay bar and most of the dancers were straight, just there for the money. Some of the guys just collected their nightly guarantee, which was about $30 and worked for tips on stage, but they wouldn’t give a lap dance. I learned right away that if you worked with guys with the wrong attitude and went on right after them, the money wasn’t as goodI hustled the crowd for every dollar I could make and was proud of myself for bringing home the most money that night, not letting some weird sense of heteronormative masculinity stand in my way

I danced to music that was sexual and a little angsty and I drew a crowd to the stage when I was on it. I made eye contact with every person in the audience, seeing who I could draw in and figuring out who I’d go see when I was offstage.

During lap dances people constantly asked me if I stuffed and I knew that it was just a cheap ploy to touch me. Sometimes they would take the liberty to check for themselves and if they were tipping well enough they got away with more before I moved, changed position, put some distance between myself and whatever part of me they were pawing at. If they think they’ll never get it they’ll give you nothing and If they think they’ll get it no matter what, it’s almost the same. People are typically the most willing to give you what you want when they are at the very line of getting or losing what they want.

“Baby Blue” was one of the guys that I worked with and like the rest of us, he had a handful of jobs to keep him paid between shows. His eyes were his namesake and his blonde hair and strong jaw made him look Scandinavian. He was a well-built Marine reserve who was quiet and kept a low profile. He worked the door at a club called ‘The Zoo’ on weekends too; after we worked together a few times he would let me into the club and stamp me over 21, even though I wasn’t. He knew I wouldn’t abuse the privilege and more than anything he probably thought it would help with talking to women, or at lest be less of a ‘scarlet letter’ than the giant ‘X’ they drew on under 21’s in black sharpie.

“Ice” was another one of the dancers that worked at The Zoo with Blue.  He was a tall handsome African-American guy, also a marine, and was into customizing motorcycles. He and Baby Blue were friends, and used to race together they told me.  They always worked the same shows and where you’d see one, you’d see the other. On the weekends they were building faster bikes, they said.

Blue and Ice were always trying to get me to talk to women. I was quiet and observant and most of the time just as happy to watch the room or dance by myself than I was to strike up conversation. Blue introduced me to a friend of his named Cassidy one night while we happened to be performing at The Zoo.  Cassidy didn’t seem interested in meeting one of his ‘dancer friends’ and I’m not sure she even really looked at me that night. She was a stripper too, so I took her seeming lack of interest at face value and I wasn’t sure why Blue thought we should get to know each other, but he kept trying to get us to talk. I left without saying goodbye to anyone that night.

The next night she and I crossed paths again on the dance floor at The Zoo where I’d come as a civilian this time. I noticed her Pulp Fiction-esque haircut and the fact that she was a good dancer right away but it took me a bit longer to realize that she was the girl from the night before. Despite how it’d gone when we met, we gravitated toward one another and ended up dancing together until they turned off the music. When the bar closed, we left together.

We went to a diner she’d worked at once upon a time and over late night food she told me that she was leaving very soon. She already had a place down in North Carolina where she was headed and her departure was only a few days away. I looked into her pale green eyes as she stared at me over the rim of the coffee cup she was sipping from and I knew that she was going to come home with me that night.

I’d never done anything like that before; met a girl while at a bar and taken her home with me. My sex life had consisted mostly of encounters from personal ads and leather shop bulletin boards and never with anyone my own age. This wholly normal situation was in fact a first for me.

We fucked the night away and well into the next day, and every time we tried to say goodbye, we kissed until we couldn’t help ourselves and ended up fucking again. We knew that time wasn’t on our side and we bargained against every goodbye with ‘just a little bit longer’.  I vividly recall standing in my living room, having lifted her on top of the giant ancient console television, kissing her as she put her hand back into my pants when we realized the mailman was looking at us through the front window as he dropped off the mail.

We saw a lot of each other over the next few days, but we did not having any illusion about how or when it would end. It was still a little bittersweet to say goodbye when it was time for her to go though. I remember looking at her sitting in the van when she said I should come with her and her friend, but I wasn’t sure if she meant it and I said goodbye. Maybe she’d meant it when she’d said ‘let’s make the most of it’, or maybe she’d just been hoping to change the outcome one way or another. Maybe I should have asked her to stay.

I wandered around the little beat-up town after Cassidy left, hoping to find a bit of comfort, but all I found was uneasiness. Things with my roommates had gotten a little tense since they’d started sleeping with each other and I felt like a third wheel. I had no shows booked anytime soon and the work painting and sanding was drying up.  I packed up my car and headed back to my hometown instead of paying to stay another month.

I took a job working in an automotive factory, learning how to laser weld. I    stood in front of a machine on the afternoon shift, zapping parts and testing them, feeling as out-of-place as you can in the ‘normal’ world after the life I’d been living. When you look at your paycheck at the end of the week and realize that you could make that in two nights dancing, it makes it really to appreciate the money or the work. There wasn’t any sense of satisfaction in it, other than knowing I  could count on that same amount every week; no more, no less…exactly the same.

I called the salon from time to time and asked about bookings and I’d make the three-hour drive there when the money was going to be good enough.  I always asked who else would be working with me because it needed to be with losing my weekend over . When I was offered a show for the following day, I asked if Blue would be there. There was a silence for a moment on the other end of the line.

“Oh honey, haven’t you heard? He’s dead.” Dee said, gently, trying to break it to me easily.

I figured it had to have been a motorcycle accident but when I asked about that I was shocked to hear that the news had said that the reason Blue and Ice had been working so hard on those bikes was so they could outrun police cars, which they did, after a bank robbery. After getting away, they ditched the bikes before going to Blue’s girlfriends apartment. Ice walked in last, shot Blue in the head, and left with all the money.

I only went back once after that, but that’s a story for another time. It wasn’t the same and I  knew it never would be again. Baby Blue was gone and so was Cassidy. It was the end of my time as a dancer.

Something had shifted in me though and try as I might, I couldn’t work in a factory any more. I tried conventional jobs and I used them to get by, but I       needed something that I  was never going to find working in retail or in a restaurant. I tried phone sex and webcamming and they added money and excitement to my life on top of the straight jobs that I worked. Eventually I  moved on to performing and eventually directing and producing and I left the nine to five behind entirely. I couldn’t imagine a life where sex work wasn’t a part of it, some way, some how and I still can’t all these years later.

It’s strange and it’s colorful and sometimes it’s hard and even sad, but it’s never been dull. I wouldn’t be who I am now without that time I spent as a stripper all the years ago or the people who I met along the way. Dee taught me to recognize opportunity and Cassidy taught me to take chances. Baby Blue taught me how to work the room that’s in front of me and Ice taught me to look over my shoulder. I’m where I am today because of that summer and I’m who I am today because of the people that I lived it with.