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Keeping It Real: An Interview with Bridget Midway

14 Feb
Best. Housewarming. Gift. Ever. Click to buy.

Best. Housewarming. Gift. Ever. Click to buy.

By Alexa Day

We’ve spent a great deal of the last few days celebrating Fifty Shades. I cannot in good conscience join that celebration. My consistently negative feelings about Fifty Shades — both the portion of the book that I struggled to read and the movies I have no intention of seeing — are well documented here on the blog. But today, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I have chosen to offer you a more gentle, generous message.

You can do better. You can do much better.

Take Bridget Midway. Her Fascination Street was one of the very first kinky romances I ever read. It’s more of a swinging romance than a BDSM story, although it’s Bridget’s first book featuring characters who are into BDSM. Still, it doesn’t look like many of today’s BDSM romances. There are no billionaires. There are no ingenues. There are no sex clubs (but there is absolutely an orgy). Fascination Street is the story of a couple discovering that their new home in the suburbs comes with some very kinky neighbors. It’s also an interracial romance, the first BDSM romance I’d ever read with a black heroine.

Woman In Chains features a Dominant hero who rescues a submissive from an abusive Dom. When the story opens, the heroine, Brea, has been so badly abused that she won’t even use her own name. Watching her find her way out of the darkness with her rescuer, Dakota, is pretty powerful stuff.

I got to interview Bridget about her sexy stories, where BDSM romance is headed, and whether BDSM’s chains and power exchange are especially loaded for black kinksters. I definitely learned a thing or two from our conversation.

AD: With Fascination Street, you showed us that kinky people could literally be the couple next door, and with Woman in Chains, I absolutely love the way you portrayed hero Doms and villainous ones, to show readers what these relationships should and should not look like. (I consider both of them seminal works, by the way.) Is BDSM romance doing enough to draw the line between good relationships and bad ones? Does BDSM romance have any responsibility to do that?

BM: All romance fiction should highlight what a great relationship is for that couple. (Emphasis Alexa’s.) What works for one person may not work for another. Belle in Beauty and the Beast desired the Beast more than Gaston, but I’m sure some woman out there wanted Gaston. The goal of BDSM romance fiction should be to represent the Lifestyle honestly.

A: Do you think that we, as erotic romance authors, are sacrificing the tenets of safe, sane, consensual to achieve more popularity? I think erotic romance has always been a little larger than life, but do you think that we’re going beyond the unrealistic into the dangerous? Do we have a mandate to educate, or at least to be responsible, in our portrayal of BDSM?

B: In all fiction, authors push the boundaries of reality to create a fantasy that will make readers fall in love with love and with the characters. I can only speak about my writing style and my goals. I stay in the boundaries of portraying safe, sane, and consensual BDSM relationships. However, there’s more to a BDSM relationship than safe, sane, and consensual. Trust is paramount. It’s the bedrock of any good BDSM relationship. I’ll shake the characters up by making them question the trust they have between each other.

A: What would you say to black kinksters and the kink-curious who may be torn between curiosity and the powerful cultural implications of the power exchange, the whip/chain/restraint trappings of BDSM? Is BDSM different for black practitioners?

B: Although I write BDSM, I’m not personally in the Lifestyle. However, I have learned about the Lifestyle from people in the Lifestyle for more than twelve years. The very first time I went to a munch, which is a lunch that includes a demonstration, the Domme who taught me about the Lifestyle taught me one very important thing. BDSM is about sensations. Some people like a harder sensation than others. Some may want to be spanked, caned or flogged. Some may want dirty talk or tickling or mummification. No matter the kink, people who are involved in the Lifestyle are doing it for themselves and no one else, unless your thing is being an exhibitionist. If it is, you still wouldn’t care what anyone thinks. A person of color who enjoys being tied down or whipped should want it because it’s what they desire and it’s consensual. That’s the most important thing.

It'll change the way you think. Click to buy.

It’ll change the way you think. Click to buy.

A: Do you feel any kind of a way about Fifty Shades?

B: When the books first came out and there was a definite buzz about them, readers contacted me and asked me what I thought about them. At the time, I hadn’t heard of the series or the author. So I went on the author’s website to check out what she was all about. In her Frequently Asked Questions page, she admitted that she did all of her BDSM research online. After that, I discounted everything in the series and the movies.

BDSM is a real lifestyle with participants doing it all over the world. At the time I learned, I lived in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I didn’t even think where I lived that there was even a local BDSM group. I thought the closest I could get would be D.C. or Maryland. I did a search online and found a group that welcomed me to their meetings and have been so supportive about everything I have done, from book releases to in-person events. So for that reason, the Fifty Shades of Grey author had absolutely no excuse for not going out and meeting people from the Lifestyle to get a real, honest perspective. People can and do lie online all the time. When you get in a room with someone who is getting flogged or see a rigger hoist someone in the air with ropes or watch needles piercing someone’s skin and hearing their reaction, you collect sensational memories that you can translate into compelling fiction. I heard what it sounded like for a paddle to strike flesh. I smelled the wax during wax play. I’ve felt different types of canes and floggers. I have swung a paddle and flogger, and struck someone before. For that reason, I hope readers find me credible when they read my work.

A: I want to hear all about Royal Pains! How long have you been putting on an annual event? Why did you start? What do you hope to accomplish each year?

B: Ah, “2017 Royal Pains with Bridget Midway and Friends”. To be honest, and you may find this hard to believe, I’m painfully shy. I don’t mind absorbing into a background and being an observer. On the flip side of that, I do enjoy talking to readers and talking about books. About five years ago, author Yvette Hines put on an in-person event in Virginia Beach. She invited other local authors, including me, to participate. I saw how much fun it was, and asked her if she wanted to partner to do a joint event that focused on BDSM. I had never heard of a BDSM author event at that time, and I had been to plenty of BDSM conventions like Leather Flea Market Fair, Leather Fet and Fetish Fair Flea Market. I wanted to marry the two concepts.

In 2013, Yvette and I put on an event called “Wrapped Up” and wrote complementing books in a series about brothers who were both Dominants and owned a candy shop. My book was called Licorice Whips. I invited a couple of people in the Lifestyle to talk about what it is that they do, and they did an actual scene for the attendees.

To put on an event is a lot of work. So I waited a couple of years, and then in 2015, author Adrienne Kama and I put on another BDSM event called “Kickin’ It”. In that one, I had even more folks in the Lifestyle there and they answered questions and did some interactive activities with them.

I was exhausted after that event and hadn’t planned on putting on another one. When the people in the Lifestyle came up to me at the end of the “Kickin’ It” event and said, “You are going to do this again, and we will be here for you”, I knew I had to put on another event. It was fun and so informative.

My goal is to educate and entertain. I want people to take the fantasy of what they think BDSM is out of their heads and look at something real. And I want them to see and hear from people that I lean on for my BDSM teachings. And if I sell a book or two, that’s icing on the cake.

A: What are you working on right now?

B: Right now I’m working on the fourth book in the Love series, which is called Addicted to Love. That series has been about BDSM in reality TV settings. The first book, Love My Way, was about a Dominant trying to find a submissive through a reality TV show. The second book, Slave To Love, is about a submissive trying to find her Dominant through a reality TV show. In that book, there were two characters in there that “spoke” to me. I wanted to explore their stories. The hero was a contestant on the show who doesn’t talk. And the heroine is a bubbly submissive. Truth be told, this is the most difficult book I have ever written. But I can’t back away from a challenge. I want to get his story told.

A: I want that story told, too!

I am so, so grateful to Bridget for spending some time with me and Lady Smut! If you’re down with what Bridget is saying (and I definitely am), check her out on Facebook. Every morning, she posts up some smoking hot imagery in the run-up to Royal Pains. I especially enjoy the femdom photos. Yes, ma’am! If you want to join the party at Royal Pains — and I agree with Bridget that watching a scene from inside the room far surpasses anything you’re going to see on the Internet — head over to Bridget’s site. When she and I spoke, there were only 14 spots left, and they are going very quickly.

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

And this is an excellent time to follow Lady Smut. You’re just in time for the Kama Sutra giveaway! Just subscribe to our newsletter for a chance to win.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

My Obsession with Jamie Dornan in THE FALL

11 Feb
You want intensity? I'll show you intensity.

You want intensity? I’ll show you intensity.

by Madeline Iva

I know, I know, some people worship Jamie Dornan for being Christian Grey in the 50 Shades franchise. I didn’t.  I perfectly indifferent until I saw him in a television show called THE FALL.  Then I got on board the Christian Grey/Jamie Dornan train. And how.

THE FALL gripped me by the scruff of the neck and won’t let go.  Speaking of scruff–Jamie Dornan wears scruff like no other.  Purrrrr.

One caveat — the show is slow.  It takes it’s time, both in being understatedly sensual, and in terms of deliberate pacing.  That’s its one flaw.  But other than that, the show just got to me, and how.

It feels so incredibly wrong to be hot for a character who is a serial killer.  I was hoping 50 Shades would give me a Jamie injection without all the, well, evil.  (But he’s a *good* father!) Rolling my eyes at myself.

Serial killer. Good father. You know how it is.

Serial killer. Good father. You know how it is.

So here are some reasons to check out Jamie Dornan in THE FALL and just become a fan in general.

  1. THE IRISH LILT.  Seriously, I could listen to him all day. It was a shock to start watching 50 shades and he had an American accent.  WTH????
  2. HE’S SUCH A GOOD DAD. I remember appreciating how hard it must have been for Jamie Dornan, who just had a wee little innocent baby to turn around and play a very hard-core decadent guy who’s into everything that’s the opposite of happy.  Yet in this role, it’s clear that Jamie Dornan found his way into the character through the character’s identity as a father and his emotional engagement with his daughter.  It’s touching. I know from doing research on serial killers that in fact, some serial killers actually do sincerely care about others in their lives and take actions to prove it.  Of course, if serial killers aren’t really monsters — if they are human, at least some of the time, then this is what makes them so horribly hard to catch.  This show shows the serial killer not as monster, but as human. A father and a husband.
  3. YOU LIKE CHRISTIAN GREY’S INTENSITY? Paul Pector is intensity squared.  Those haunted eyes. Shivers.
  4. HE DOESN’T ALWAYS KILL What I hate about myself watching these serial killer shows is that I keep wanting to not believe in absolute evil.  This show does a good job of exploiting that–but reveals how *stupid* it is for women to believe that someone who’s done violence to women won’t do it again.  The Fall also exploits how much we women want excuse bad behavior in men. He didn’t kill everyone.  He left some water for that one girl.  He didn’t physically harm his family. Yet it’s extremely dangerous to look for that kernel of goodness and grow it up into something bigger than it really is. How easy it is for the characters to forget he’s extremely dangerous–even for a second–even when he’s behind bars–and make a mistake.
  5. HE’S DILIGENT This is another true-to-life aspect of the show, and another trick for audiences. We admire hard work, and as he gets into a tight spot, but keeps working hard and diligently to get out of it–we are almost rooting for him.  There’s almost a giddy feeling that he pulled it off–and he is wondering over how he didn’t get caught that time.  Jamie Dornan does a wonderful, nuanced job–the scenes where he bathes the corpses–OMG. I have to give a lot of credit to the director–because everyone else in the show is just as good. But they’re not Jamie Dornan.
  6. HE NOTICES THE SMALL THINGS ABOUT A WOMAN Gillian Anderson wants to pry open his soul by the end and get him to admit what he did.  She knows that her sexuality will be effective–and it is.  He notices the details that Anderson’s character chooses when she interviews him.  He notices and at the same time he knows exactly what she’s doing.  Yet the conundrum of humanity is that he still ends up responding to it.  Her interview is akin to a seduction.  He does open up — and what happens is along the same lines as a romance.  The woman who had no power took on the mysterious, silent man, and now she wins everything she wanted– because of her femininity, and the man’s unwilling subconscious response to it.  Only in this situation, she doesn’t want a mansion and kids, she wants him behind bars for the rest of his life.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t further twists and challenges ahead.  This show does not go easy on women–and in doing so it gets across the gritty reality of the world we live in.  I LOVE IT SO MUCH for that reason alone.  But the real genius to the show is it uses the compelling form, face, and eyes of Jamie Dornan to turn me into Paul Spector’s willing victim.

Fifty Shades Darker Celebration & Valentine’s Giveaway

9 Feb

by Madeline Iva

Are you going to see FIFTY SHADES DARKER this weekend? We are!fifty-ball

Well, Elizabeth SaFleur and I are. We’ve already got our tickets and we’re taking our spouses.  Not only that–we’re holding a celebration event on Facebook to chat with y’all about the FIFTY SHADES DARKER movie.  We hope you join us!50shadesshouldersleeping

Go to our event on facebook, press the *interested* button, then tell us what you thought about the movie:

  • What did you love? The actors, characters, settings, costumes, plot?
  • How did FIFTY SHADES DARKER compared to the book and the first movie?
  • Do you love billionaire romance themes in general? Or BDSM romances in particular? ; >

We’re also blogging about fascinating aspects of the movie here.  (Don’t worry, we’ll post everything over at the fb event too.)

  • Reasons Why Billionaire Romances Are Never Going Away
  • My obsession with Jamie Dornan
  • 5 Ways In Which Real Life Millionaires Aren’t Like Us
  • Jackie Horne from ROMANCE NOVELS WITH FEMINISTS will stop by. We’re discussing where young women are going with BDSM and how this is or isn’t reflected in the movie.
  • Joey Hill shares with us how to get kinky with her 10 favorite kitchen items.

50-shades-take-2

Admittedly, not all of us at the blog are 50 Shades lovers.  You might not be either — that’s why we have other smexy Valentine’s Day posts to offer you this month.  pantiesCheck out our posts on:

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

This Valentine’s Day weekend, we’re offering a Kama Sutra giveaway from Lux Aromatica that includes massage oil, soap, a candle, and lip balm.

To enter the giveaway, hit the SUBSCRIBE button on our blog now–it’s the pink button up at the top on the right–and fill out the form.  One random winner will be chosen from central Virginia where Kerensa’s stores are located and one random winner from the nation at large. (Continental US only, please!)

We look forward to seeing you all this weekend, even if you’re just stopping by to say hi. — xoxo

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

 

 

One Hot Zombie Husband, Please!–And Other Lustful Zombie Stuff

2 Feb
santaclaritadiet

Let that repressed manic side out, Timothy Olyphant.

by Madeline Iva

On Friday night I’m watching a new show called THE SANTA CLARITA DIET on Netflix. Why? Two words: Timothy Olyphant. The guy has a kind of restrained mayhem vibe that makes women purr. He’s good when he’s a bad boy, and I like it when he does the humor thing, but really underplays it. Let’s hope he gets to do both in this new TV show.

What’s unusual is for Olyphant to be part of a duo, for he often plays the lone wolf.  Yet he’s a supportive husband (awwww) as his wife’s body goes undead and her twisted feral id coming to life. (Peeps, this could be my own marriage we’re talking about—esp. when I’m on deadline.)

As for the rest of the show–we shall see.  I lurv Drew Barrymore and early reviews say the supporting cast is excellent.  The creator is Victor Fresco who did the short lived but great (!) show BETTER OFF TED, which walked the line of absurdism and also had a supportive, understanding, and munch-a-licious lead.

But hey, let me be your zombie pimp and recommend some other zombie joy you may have overlooked. My preference is for zombie comedy/satire. Take R in WARM BODIES.  So cute and so protective in his own teenage, shuffling, groan-y way.

Click to buy the DVD

Click to buy the DVD

 

There’s also a wonderful funny little book call BREATHERS.  Subversive and with a sexy element that I quite enjoyed.

Click to buy.

Click to buy.

Have you seen the movie SEAN OF THE DEAD? It’s a bit like The Office meets zombies. Quite surprisingly daffy and satiric all the way through.

Imagine The Office as a zombie flick. Click to buy the DVD...

Imagine The Office as a zombie flick. Click to buy the DVD…

Meanwhile, let us not forget some serious Zombie smut, like what you’ll find with our own Isabelle Drake’s SERVANT OF THE UNDEAD along with Daisy Harris’ mix of not-quite-human stuff.  I lurved Hariss’ “Steins” and sex bots.  In BUILT FOR IT Harris discovered M/M erotic romance and never looked back. (Can you even get these books anymore Daisy?)

 

557e4e368babb5e201b7f2d2b531d8cbOnce upon a time, Lexi waxed philosophical on the ethics of sex with an undead body. I, dear readers, completely understand.  Who really wants to kiss decaying flesh?  On the other hand, a zombie is nothing if not a metaphor.  Give me your metaphors–satiric, comedic or full of pathos and killed by societal excess and ennui.  Sometimes we all seem a little rotten to the core.  Zombies get to wear their decay on the outside where it’s all embarrassing and visible.  Ultimately, they’re monsters and I dearly love a monster-hero, even if his heart is dead and cold.

That’s not to say that one can’t enjoy zombie horror.  Lexi has traced the path of an end-of-the-world romance on the Walking Dead that I’ve followed probably with more enjoyment that I took in watching the actual show.  Check out her posts:

LIFE AMONG THE DEAD: IS MICHONNE READY TO LOVE AGAIN?

THE DEAD DELIVER: IS THIS THE SEASON FOR RICHONNE? 

DEAD ON! REJOICING FOR RICHONNE

If you do like your zombies with a lot of blood splatter, there’s a movie coming out called THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.

You'll slurp it up if you like post-apocalyptic action/adventure. Click to buy.

You’ll slurp it up if you like post-apocalyptic action/adventure. Click to buy.

The book was gripping–I stayed up all night reading it.  I’m sure the movie will be excellent too, but check out the book first. It’s post apocalyptic, British, and I liked how the balance of characters in the book were female.  They seemed to have deliberately switched around the race of the characters in the movie.  Hmmmmmm.

There’s also World War Z — not your typical zombie genre book.  It’s totally different and only about a thousand times better than the movie. (Sorry Brad Pitt.)

Another book I've read in one sitting. Click to buy.

Another book I’ve read in one sitting. Click to buy.

Well, time for me to do some groaning and shuffling myself as I sign off to go jog, shower, and write. Follow us at Lady Smut.  We give you reasons to live.

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

 

Walk the Walk by Turning the Page

31 Jan

2017-ls-reading-challenge

By Alexa Day

Black History Month starts tomorrow, and this year, I’m mindful of our #ReadHotter challenge. You saw that, right? We threw down the gauntlet about a month ago with ten reading challenges, which I’ve placed here again for your reference.

This year, we again challenge you to read “a book with main characters of a different race or culture than you.” We had the same challenge last year. I’ve always felt some sort of way about it, to be honest. See, for a great many readers for a great many years, the mere act of reading romance was reading books with main characters of a different race or culture. Hell, for me, writing romance is writing characters of a different race or culture.

But today we live in a climate of frankness and openness. We’re called upon to be allies, to protect and understand each other. We can’t fall back on the same old stand-bys of black history.

We all have to do better. We have to teach better, and we have to do a better job of learning. That’s going to be hard for everybody.

(We do all need to be allies for each other — for everyone. You’re hearing mostly about black people today because I’m a black author and next month is Black History Month, but be ready to hear something similar from other sources.)

For our purposes today, I’m presuming that you all have at least bought a book with main characters of a different race. I want to push you a little harder, though. I want to ask you about the book you bought with an author of a different race or culture than you. Because I presume you have at least one of those, too. Seriously, if you don’t have at least one Beverly Jenkins book by now, you’ve earned the side-eye I’m giving you. It might also be any one of the other books I’ve recommended on Lady Smut over the years.

Go put your hand on that book. If it’s on your Kindle, go pull it up. I’ll wait.

Got it? Okay. I’m going to ask some in-your-face questions.

Have you read that book? Have you actually read that book written by a black author?

Did you read all of it?

Did you talk to anyone about it? Did you recommend it? Review it?

Did you ask any questions it raised for you? Did you examine the ways it challenged you?

I’m not just asking because our #ReadHotter challenge requires you to actually read the book. I’m not asking because I want to make sure you check off the little box on your Good Reader list.

I’m asking because actually reading that book you bought is more important than it’s ever been.

Buying the book — whenever you bought it — is a fantastic gesture. It’s an effective way to support diverse authors and the call for diversity in publishing, and I will never tell you that isn’t important.

You’re not going to get any answers that way, though. You’re only going to move forward if you read the book and act on it by leaving a review, asking questions, and going deeper.

It’s not enough any more to just buy that book. It’s wonderful and all, but just having that one book doesn’t make you an ally. It doesn’t make you an activist. You’re going to have to read it.

Read that book. Then read another one with a different author. Consider the way the heroines walk through the world — the billionaire socialites, the ancient queens, the 18th century doctors. Travel through ancient Africa and the American South still smoldering after the Civil War. Immerse yourself in the authors’ blogs as well as their books.

(Just as a start, go check out Alyssa Cole’s blog and her books — you will not be disappointed there. I promise.)

We serve each other by going beyond the mere gesture. Buying that book, in order to support that author and the call for greater diversity in publishing, is absolutely fantastic. But reading it — taking in the places where your viewpoints differ, where the author’s culture teaches you something, where you have something in common — benefits both you and the author. Reading it is where we go beyond mere talk and good thoughts and move toward real understanding.

So … what are you reading this month?

Follow Lady Smut.

Forest Bathing Your Way To Less Stress

4 Jan

By Elizabeth Shore

Let’s face it, now that we’re four days into the new year, the resolutions you made with such shiny optimism are already starting to tarnish. We’re back at work, the kids are back at school, the usual routines you had before holiday madness set in have returned with a vengeance and you don’t know how in the world you thought fitting in daily gym dates and eating salads had even a snowball’s chance in hell at success. Any moment of stress-free existence you may have had during the break – fleeting though it was – is now as gone as the presents you returned, and you’re paying the price. Your blood pressure’s as high as your piles of unfinished work and stress levels are through the roof. Ain’t life grand.

Consider this. According to Prevention.com, 90% of Americans report feeling stressed over at least one thing during the holiday season. Ninety percent! So thinking that a having break from the daily grind will rejuvenate you is like thinking that drinking a cup of coffee will make up for years of sleep deprivation. So what to do? Should you just accept that your life is a hopeless, never-ending hamster wheel? That the only people living stress-free lives are monks? Hell no. How about actually making an honest-to-goodness conscious effort to de-stress? Setting aside time for the sole purpose of calming your anxieties and centering your soul? Sounds good, right? So do what the Japanese do: take a bath in the forest.

Shinrin Yoku is Japanese for forest bathing. To be clear, you’re not hauling a tub into the woods like people in a Cialis commercial. Instead, forest bathing is a health-enhancing technique of letting the sights, sounds, and smells of being in the forest wash over you as you wonder. Bathing, as it were, in the sensations of the woods. To be a proper forest bather is not simply to trek along a woodsy path and call it a day. Instead, it’s to immerse oneself in all that the forest offers. Listen to the birds. Smell the earthiness. Feel the rustling wind on your cheeks. Bathe in the forest experience and feel your stress levels plummet.

The folks at shinrin-yoku.org have put up a three-minute video on YouTube to give you an introduction to the concept. Look! I’ve found it for you:

 

Amos Clifford, one of the leading voice of forest therapy, states in an article in Women’s Health magazine that a single three-hour walk in the woods can calm your mind and body for a week. Sounds good, but what if you happen to live where there’s nary a forest in sight? Fear not. Immersion in any natural setting can work just as well, from mountains to deserts to beaches. Even a park would do, as long as you can get away from your every day environment and immerse yourself in the natural. Phones and other electronic devices are strictly verboten. You’ve got to be able to escape the confines of stressful daily life and notice the nature around you. Another good thing to know is that while a three-hour immersion is recommended, studies have shown that even a few minutes of being in a natural setting can help calm and soothe the savage – and stressed – beast in us all.

The forest bathing movement and “ecotherapy” is catching on. Doctors are writing “nature prescriptions” to address everything from anxiety and depression to high blood pressure and diabetes. Studies purport to show that nature walks reduce cortisol – the hormone released during times of stress – and leave participants feeling happy and relaxed in the great outdoors.

Why not give it a try? Writer Gemma Hartley of the Women’s Health magazine article states that her writing flowed better than it had in years after she’d gone on a forest bathing retreat. So relax and rejuvenate with a bath in the woods. Your mind and body will thank you.

 

All I Want For Christmas is…Orgasms For Everyone

15 Dec These handcuff bangles come in gold too.  They come with a little bag that says "There is freedom in restraint."

by Madeline Iva

Dear Santa: I gave a down & dirty questionnaire to the ladies at UNBOUND whose mission is to pry open your imagination… ; > …and inspire the sexual fantasies of women everywhere.  Here are their replies, along with a few naughty gift ideas for that special someone–yourself.

1. What have you seen/experienced going on with sexual relations in real life that gives your job at Unbound meaning to you?

POLLY (CEO of UNBOUND): For me, it was going through a radiation treatment from cancer without one single doctor acknowledging that I was going through menopause or how it would affect my sex life. As I got older, I realized that, relative to male sexuality, female sexuality is often swept under the rug or dismissed. Every day at Unbound we work to acknowledge female sexuality and to provide a place where women can explore and enjoy whatever sex means to them.

Got stocking stuffers? Ice Cube Nipple Balm--in Choco-Mint!

Got stocking stuffers? Ice Cube Nipple Balm–in Choco-Mint!

2. Any specific incidents you are willing to share that resulted in a ‘I’m-going-to-give-up-dating-and-go play-with-my-sex-toys-by-myself” kind of mood?

POLLY (CEO of UNBOUND): Unsolicited DPs are always great for that.

3. Any warnings or hilarious anecdotes about sex toys gone wrong/performing poorly? (Obviously not Unbound products, right?)

POLLY (CEO of UNBOUND): When I first started Unbound we kept all our inventory in a closet at our coworking space which was full of older accountants (i.e., *not* your hip coworking space, by any means). One day I went to grab something out of the closet and an entire case of bullet vibrators fell out on top of me and started actually vibrating all over the floor. Everyone in the coworking space watched as I tried to turn them all off and get them back in the closet.

These handcuff bangles come in gold too. They come with a little bag that says "There is freedom in restraint."

These handcuff bangles come in gold too. They come with a little bag that says “There is freedom in restraint.”

4) Explore how you wish people saw you vs. the ego-crushing reality of how your friends see you.

POLLY (CEO of UNBOUND): I think people often assume that the life of a startup is glamorous and truthfully it is anything but. Being responsible for a company means that it’s up to you to make things happen — this can mean anything from spending weekends in a warehouse to answering customer service emails at 2am. That’s not to say I don’t love it (I DO!) but it’s like having a baby — you love that baby and you’d do anything for it, but there are many times when you just want to get some damn sleep.

Gasp! Bondage Tape $8. F*** yeah.

Gasp! Bondage Tape $8. F*** yeah.

5) Do you all live in NYC? I hear it’s brutal there in terms of finding love.  Care to share any stories that contradict this/validate this hypothesis?

POLLY (CEO of UNBOUND): I love dating in NYC because there’s always the opportunity for serendipitous romance. I was walking in Washington Square Park a couple months ago and a guy ran up to me and insisted on getting my number and going out on a date. I’m pretty sure he was homeless because when he showed up for the date he had all his belongings with him but it was still romantic! (Note from Madeline–See Arrested Development, Season Two where Lindsay dates Tom Jane.) Similarly, I fell off my bike a month ago and my license went flying and the guy who helped me look for it ended up asking me out. Only in New York can you fall off your Citibike and look like a complete idiot and end up with a date.

6) Snap-chat? Tinder? How are cutting edge gals like yourself hooking up these days?  Any advice? Words of caution?

POLLY (CEO of UNBOUND): Sometimes I use Bumble, I like that the power to start the conversation is in the hands of the woman. But honestly the swiping is exhausting and I struggle to find dedicated time for the polite small talk and vetting. In my experience, romance and sex and love have a way of finding me when I’m least looking for it, and that’s kind of how I like it.

7) Finish this sentence: In a future world of perfect sexual equality and empowerment we’d all be….

POLLY (CEO of UNBOUND): …having orgasms daily.

Thanks Polly! Now we turn to Lorraine—

1) What have you seen/experienced going on with sexual relations in real life that gives your job at Unbound meaning to you?

LORRAINE (HEAD of CURATION): I find it tragic that so many people are afraid to try or ask for things in bed that they might be curious about or even know they find pleasurable from having experimented alone, simply because they are concerned that their partner or their friends may judge them to be somehow deviant or weird.  Because we’re all so different, finding out what works for you is by nature a trial and error proposition and if you’re only willing to try the narrow sliver of things that are conventional the odds are that you’re not going to experience as much pleasure as perhaps you could.

Ladies, it's a vagina pillow. Are those feathers? No, they're little, tiny, vaginas...

Ladies, it’s a vagina pillow. Are those feathers? No, they’re little, tiny, vaginas…

2) Any specific incidents you are willing to share that resulted in a ‘I’m-going-to-give-up-dating-and-go play-with-my-sex-toys-by-myself” kind of mood?

LORRAINE (HEAD of CURATION): When I encounter people who are excruciatingly boring, humorless or otherwise terrible I can seldom make it past a second drink and often turn heel to do exactly that.  If everything is “epic”, if you think that “all lives matter”, if you show up in *that* goddamn gingham J Crew shirt and proceed to talk about your love of IPAs I’d rather listen to the buzz of a hitachi than your nattering on.

3) Any warnings or hilarious anecdotes about sex toys gone wrong/performing poorly? (Obviously not Unbound products, right?)

LORRAINE (HEAD of CURATION):I was once giving someone an erotic massage and reached for what I thought was oil, but which turned out to be clitoral stimulant- something I only belatedly realized after having already slathered it on my subject’s back.  Their skin started to get red and warm and I tried to play it off as having been a warming massage oil.  Whoops.

Unbound has really cool curated boxes. This is a menopause box -- click to buy.

Unbound has really cool curated boxes. This is a menopause box — click to buy.

4) Explore how you wish people saw you vs. the ego-crushing reality of how your friends see you.

LORRAINE (HEAD of CURATION): I’m a total Instagram whore and so someone only viewing me through that lens would probably think my life is leisurely travel and fancy cocktails.  But the reality is I’m always glued to my phone or laptop working, no matter where I am and that I only sleep like 4-5 hours any given night.  Working all the time with so many deadlines and things to juggle can mean that I’m often looking to get to the point in conversation and sometimes social niceties can fall by the wayside. While in my mind I’m also an outgoing, open-minded, fun-loving person, my friends would probably say I can be a little (ok, strike that, very) blunt, cynical and overloud in public spaces and polite company.  I’m pretty sure it’s only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older but it’s made me appreciate the friends who stick by me despite my coal black heart and sharp tongue all the more.

5) Do you all live in NYC? I hear it’s brutal there in terms of finding love.  Care to share any stories that contradict this/validate this hypothesis?

LORRAINE (HEAD of CURATION): I’m by no means the first to point this out but it’s a double-edged sword.  On the one hand there are a multiplicity of options- with 9+ million people to choose from (more if you count the B&T crowd I guess) you can basically find every combination of body type, personality, career etc.  On the other hand, because everyone knows they have options, people are more reluctant to get emotionally invested in who they date and can tend to treat people as disposable.  Ghosting is a big problem (which isn’t to say I’ve never done it)- but I get it.  Why settle down with one person when the entire city is at your feet?  It’s a hard sell.

6) Snap-chat? Tinder? How are cutting edge gals like yourself hooking up these days?  Any advice? Words of caution?

LORRAINE (HEAD of CURATION): I like to meet people in person at events or through friends I know to be a better judge of character than I am, whenever possible.  But apps are alright- though I don’t really read into matches much because some people just mindlessly swipe right.  My litmus test is much more the conversation- I can usually tell in few lines of interchange whether someone is passably witty, funny, not deterred by something like Unbound etc.  Of course apps introduce the risk of getting catfished (which fortunately has only happened to me once, albeit in hilarious fashion: the person turned out to be four feet tall and he talked in a high-pitched movie villain German accent just like Dr. Strangelove.)  Yikes.

I love how when you go to Unbound's Shop page, Anal is the first category. I love how this anal stimulator is called MOODY. I love how it resembles an evil gnome, ready to kill you with orgasms.

I love how when you go to Unbound’s Shop page, Anal is the first category. I love how this anal stimulator is called MOODY. I love how it resembles an evil gnome, ready to kill you with orgasms.

In any event I try to look for people who seem progressive and comfortably self-assured, because such things typically bode well for more confidence and open-mindedness in the bedroom.  Unfortunately until we life in a dystopian nightmare where there is a Yelp for people’s sexual prowess, however, you never know what you’re working with until you know.

7) Finish this sentence: In a future world of perfect sexual equality and empowerment we’d all be….

LORRAINE (HEAD of CURATION):…less stressed, uptight and more willing to try things.

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

Have Yourself A Kinky Little Christmas

14 Dec

Wanna celebrate with me?

By Elizabeth Shore

Egad, can it be? Are we seriously saying that Christmas is the end of next week???!! Gaaah!! If you haven’t finished your shopping, there’s no time to waste. Stop binge watching Master of None and focus, people, focus! And yet…what to get? What would he love to receive? What should you do that he’d remember? Relax and rest easy, friends. Lady Smut is here with some decidedly smutty ideas to get you either 1) in the proper frame of mind to ignore rude, pushy shoppers at the mall; or 2) in the proper frame of mind to imagine what you and your gift receiver are going to do with your bounty. So get going!

1. Tis better to give than receive, right? We all know that. So instead of loading up on material gifts from the mall, how about giving your man a gift you can keep on giving? One he’s truly going to remember? And just what is this marvelous idea? Why, your supreme new techniques on pleasuring his balls, of course.

The delicate scrotum is to some women nothing but a scary sack of mystery. Should you touch it? Would he like it? Yes, and yes, according to an interview with Metro.com, in which the interviewer rounded up a bunch of guys and simply asked them what they like done with those gonads. Imagine that. The responses uniformly stressed the importance of remembering the delicacy of the family jewels. Treat them as if they’re “made of glass,” said one bloke, since they are “delicate souls” another reminds us. Still and all, soft stroking, licking, kissing, and cupping all made the list, so if this is the kind of selfless gift you’d like to bestow upon your guy, here’s the link for the tips.

2. Pull together a soundtrack for two. Getting your jiggy on is more fun when you can bump and grind to sultry beats, so why not present him with a customized playlist just for the two of you, fire it up and head for nirvana. Or Nirvana. According to Spotify, the #1 song in 2016 to have sex to is Rihanna’s Sex With Me. So there’s that. However, if it just so happens that you loathe that song (I’m just sayin’), Time Out New York put out earlier this year their list of 50 Best Sex Songs of All Time. We all know that music preference can vary wildly, but this list has a pretty wide range, with tunes from Lady B to Bobby D (Dillon, that is) and loads of artists in between. Get some inspiration from the list and then go inspire him.

3. If you’re hankering for a getaway where clothing is optional – and really, who wouldn’t? – why not give you both a vacation and splurge on the world’s “most iconic playground,” Hedonism II. With the tagline, Your Pleasure is our Passion, the adults only, clothing-optional resort lets you bring out your wild child. There are shows, bands, nightclubs, water sports – and theme nights! Ranging from hedonistic school girl to bare as you dare to fetish night, they aim to bring out the true meaning of hedonism, “the pursuit of pleasure and sensual self-indulgence.” Vice writer Anna Pulley said in a recent article that she learned to love her body at Hedonism II so really, how bad can that be? Book by December 20th and get a special “lust price.” I’m lusting already.

4. Some miscellaneous sexy ideas, in no particular order:

  • Butt table. It’s a table. With a picture of a butt on it.
  • Fur oil. Whether you’re bare down there or you’ve got a garden you tend, give it some love with fur oil. Sold on Gwyneth Paltrow’s site, Goop (where else?), for only $39 a little dab will do ya to soften and condition either the hair or the skin in your most private of regions.
  • Organic, fair trade-certified condoms, lubes, and wipes from Sustain. Oh, and they donate 10% of pretax profits to women without access to healthcare, so you can not only feel awesome about buying these products, you can be awesome by helping the cause.
  • Pine Pollen aphrodisiac. Mix it in a smoothie, or into tea. It’ll make you go whee!! Or not. Who knows. But it claims to be a potent aphrodisiac so it could be worth a try. At the very least, it’ll be fun to find out whether it works.

So there you have it. A few gift suggestions for making the season bright. Wishing you a very kinky holiday from all of us at Lady Smut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transgender Romance, Anyone?

8 Dec
Andreja Pejic--a globally successful trans model.

Andreja Pejic–a globally successful trans model.

by Madeline Iva

In a wonderfully reassuring moment on Facebook — yes, I *know* how strange that sounds — I was in the middle of a discussion about transgender romances.  They’re out there.  And if you’re looking for something new when it comes to contemporary romance–something a little m/m but not–transgender romance might just be the ticket.

How do you come out to your folks that you're trans? "Mom, Dad, there's this really funny TV show I'd like you both to watch," could be your conversation starter.

How do you come out to your folks that you’re trans? “Mom, Dad, there’s this really funny TV show I’d like you both to watch,” could be your conversation starter.

Meanwhile, I would consider the last year to be “Year of the Trans”.  From Laverne Cox to Transparent, to using bathrooms, we’ve had more exposure and acceptance of this tiny group of individuals than ever before.url

With that increase in recognition and acceptance, of course the romance community has swelled to include romances starring trans hero/heroines.  HERE’S A GOODREADS LINK TO SOME TRANS ROMANCES you can scroll through. The descriptions at first may not SOUND like the romances are typical m/f.  But read closely and follow the reviews–you’ll see they are a bit more wiggly and complicated–breathing fresh life into familiar romance tropes.

Trans models are rocking the fashion world--which seems totally open to anyone and everyone--as long as they're skinny. It's a twisted kind of radical acceptance.

Trans models are rocking the fashion world–which seems totally open to anyone and everyone–as long as they’re skinny. It’s a twisted kind of radical acceptance, I guess.

For my part, I’ve become fascinated with trans model Andreja Pejic and this interview with Madeira Darling got me all revved up imagining a trans-sexual hijinks vampire plot that my obsessive brain will not leave alone.

Also, G.G. Andrews has started this whole #ReadHotter challenge at Lady Smut.  Trans romance really fits the bill for stretching my reading boundaries–how about you?  ; >

Carry on my wayward kittens! And if you’re bored and looking for sparkly-bright distractions, follow us at Lady Smut where we purr and snarl over all things fascinating in the world.

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

I’VE SEEN STRANGER THINGS THAN BAD MOMS WEARING CROWNS

1 Dec

 

by Madeline Iva

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was inspired. As promised, I binge-watched a ton of TV and movies letting my brain waves rest for a few days. And yes, I’ll be talking about foreskin before I’m through with this post. But let’s talk about STRANGER THINGS***–before we get to the turtleneck.

STRANGER THINGS takes place in the 80’s and yet I noted how it was different from the actual movies of the 80’s:

1) Weirdness wins!

2) Unlike any proper 80’s horror movie, the popular ‘slut’ doesn’t get slaughtered in the first act. Instead her stodgy ‘good girl’ friend is the one who ends up bloody and eventually missing. Huzzah!

Anorexic girl with a P.E. folder--so 80's it hurts!

Anorexic girl with a P.E. folder–so 80’s it hurts!

3) The weirdest of the weird in this show is a girl named Eleven–AND I LOVED HER CHARACTER SO HARD. She’s beautifully androgynous, as well as full of raging destructive and weird powers.

Note to self: Why am I not writing characters like this?

Warning: you're about to get a skewed sense of this TV series, as scene through the distorted lens of my obsession with Eleven.

Warning: the skewed sense you’re getting of this TV series is because it’s through the distorted lens of my obsession with Eleven.

4) The single mom Winona Ryder (who’s a mess) doesn’t need a man in the end.  I walk around with romance colored spectacles all the time, so I’ll admit I kept a keen eye on Winona, wondering if she and the gruff, hulking chief would connect as they started working together to find her missing son. Nope. By the end of the season she’s still a single, shambolic mom–and perfectly content to stay that way. For her it’s a happy ending (but not for everyone else—bwa-ha-ha!)

STRANGER THINGS explores how parents had to communicate with their children before cell phones existed.

STRANGER THINGS explores how parents had to communicate with their children before cell phones existed.

Ultimately, this show was mega-inspiring. Totally rad. Hella bitchin cool. To the max.

Speaking of BAD MOMS–No—I can’t go there yet.

Let’s talk about the Bad Mom with a Crown first.

THE CROWN — It’s like Mad Men for women. Elizabeth is not well educated, or at all prepared to be queen. She was only in her twenties when her father surprised everyone by dying and leaving her to inherit the crown. Her work in the first season is to repair her own deficiencies in the very best British way—by honestly admitting them and tackling them head on.

THE CROWN--in which power carries a handbag and waves funny.

THE CROWN–in which power carries a handbag and waves funny.

I like this show. Yes it’s British propaganda and yes, the attitudes of the people are excruciatingly conservative. But upholding traditions four hundred years old necessitates a bit of a conservatism, doesn’t it?

What I enjoy is that Elizabeth is not the kind of person who glitters, charms, or has brilliant moments of insight. She’s not the princess in a fairy tale who sweeps through the grand palace. She is excruciatingly ordinary.  She sighs over the necessity of living in a giant, ugly, palace and she dresses up with the same stoic attitude I have while doing stomach crunches at the gym. She’s also not really a mummy. Charles and Anne have their nurse, and that should be sufficient. Elizabeth seems at her most content as a mother watching from a distance while her handsome husband plays with the children out in the yard. The show portrays her without a maternal bone in her body. (Why is this so exciting to me?)

Huzzah to Clair Foy, meanwhile.  She’s the actress playing Elizabeth AND also Anne Boleyn in WOLF HALL.  Nice work if you can get it.

While I’m not saying Elizabeth’s not smart, at the same time she clearly wasn’t precocious or intellectually curious as a child. Punctilious in her duties, she’s a bit of a worker drone all in all. She loves horses, her husband, and her sister–perhaps in that order.  But in the beginning she makes mistakes in these most important relationships, promising her husband and sister things that she can’t deliver because she didn’t at first understand the forces who control and apply pressure to someone in her position.

At the same time she must face up to people seeing her exactly as she is–warts and all. I admire this and I cringe.  She doesn’t hide or lie about who she is–ever. I, meanwhile, constantly vacillate between anxiously wanting to please people only to swing right around in the other direction where I’m being so intensely, brutally myself that I alienate them. Gah!

In her role as queen, Elizabeth is not nurturing, motherly, or accommodating to others in ways we tend to expect of women; she’s simply in charge. She does her job with exactitude and diligence. Elizabeth learns the very difficult task of figuring out what this other persona is that she’s expected to inhabit–being The Crown. We see her negotiate being that persona out in the world and at home, and perhaps it’s because she has such a firm grip on herself in terms of who she is and who she isn’t that she gets through smoothly most of the time.

When people (i.e. politicians) attempt to walk all over her, she reminds them—in the very best British way–that she is the queen, and a woman of character, and in her own stead-fast way, a force to be reckoned with.

SPEAKING OF BAD MOMS – No. I still can’t.

SPEAKING OF THE 80’s: If you’re looking for a light comedy—check out WORKING GIRL on Netflix. I’d seen it when I was very young and really loved it. Seeing it again, I realized it is a transgressive fairy tale for the 80’s.  (I assume it was made in the 80’s.  The hair is REALLY big, and shoulder pads are everywhere.) It’s a million times better than Pretty Women, IMHO.

Transgressive 80's Cinderella story.

Transgressive 80’s Cinderella story.

Despite what the title suggests, Melanie Griffith is a lowly Staten Island secretary who wants to leave her life as a wage slave and become an executive. (Become an executive–snort–such an 80’s theme!) Her new female boss, Katherine (played SO WELL by Signorney Weaver) points out that

  • you have to finesse the scum bags—Hey, hasn’t Megyn Kelly has been telling us the same thing lately? Nuts to that, a lot of feminists say.
  • you have to make your own opportunities.

Yes! I hadn’t realized how much this movie influenced me.  When I saw it the first time I was a lowly minimum wage worker.  I then managed to become a creative writing instructor through creating opportunities for myself—and not always asking for permission before doing so, mind you.

Although the female boss Katherine turns out to be the villain of the movie, Melanie Griffith takes her advice. She makes her own opportunities. She doesn’t ask for permission. No guts, no glory. And with a lot of support from Harrison Ford, she succeeds.

OKAY – so now let’s all embrace foreskins and talk about BAD MOMS.

The best part of bad moms--the part that made me cry, was where the actresses were hanging out with their own real moms during the credits...

The best part of bad moms–the part that made me cry, was where the actresses were hanging out with their own real moms during the credits…

I watched it at my sweetie’s insistence.  Poor guy, he’s been so sick, he was looking for some light-light-light comedy to watch and because we both really like Kristen Bell, we decided to check it out. But I came to the film with very low expectations having seen Jezebel’s review/snarl/yawn.

Even so, I was mightily underwhelmed. Let us be clear—there was one bad mom in this film.  One. And she was not the lead–she was the rebel side-kick.  But let’s not dwell upon all that was meh about the movie. Let’s dwell instead over the one weird pause in the film where the women stop to have a frank discussion about foreskin.

–Particularly about how to deal with it face to face when knocking boots with a guy.

Let me first confess that the only foreskin I’ve ever seen is on baby boys while changing diapers when I was a nanny. Sweetie says based on what he sees at the gym (not that he’s looking closely or anything) foreskin was once rare for U.S. men his age or older, but now it’s something you’re probably going to encounter as a single woman dating men of the millennial generation.

Just the same I have to wonder–is this really a big deal? Is this a thing? I mean, yes, the evil world of marketing strives to make us cripplingly insecure about our bodies in every possible way. (Vaginoplasty anyone?) Are men being subjected to the same twisted pressures? Are they now expected to feel less-than because of a perfectly natural part of their bodies?

I vaguely recall some TV episode (was it House?) where a teenage kid took a razor to himself because he felt less attractive to girls. Are we really going there?

On one hand, Bad Moms seems to validate this ‘issue’ by showing some anxiety about encountering foreskin.  Yet they also seem intent upon delivering a message of acceptance.

And how could you not love the moment where the rebel Bad Mom side-kick tells Mila Kunis how to manipulate the foreskin during foreplay while using Kristen Bell’s head to demonstrate?

On the other hand, I’m just goggling over the fact that the movie kind of comes to a dead halt to deliver this rather hilarious PSA.

Oh well. Thanksgiving is over. Back to the daily grind for me.

I’m writing my next book about a Wicked Enchantress–who is NOW going to be a beautifully androgynous character full of raging destructive and weird powers. Huzzah!

And if you like weird, powerful, smexy women, then follow us at Lady Smut.

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

***I must offer up a humble apology to my writer friend S.A. Hunter. She recommended STRANGER THINGS to me back in September before anyone else was talking about it. People, life is too short to sort through all the crap out there. When a good friend makes excellent recommendations, you listen to her. You treasure her. You don’t turn up your nose and shrug off her suggestion as I did. I was wrong to do so, and hang my head in shame. You are the more discerning, better friend, S. A..

 

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