Tag Archives: Reality Television

Of Men, Masquerades and the Monkey Trap: Naked Snctm is a Surprise

13 Sep

By Alexa Day

(Strong and Sexy Week continues to celebrate colleague Elizabeth SaFleur’s new release, The White House Gets A Spanking, a fabulous and timely novella up for preorder right this second! But I couldn’t wait until October to go after Snctm again. I don’t do delayed gratification all that well. You know, sorry.)

The morning I discovered the email announcing that Snctm had a television series airing on Showtime, I began preparing to hate-watch it. I haven’t been terribly shy about my feelings when it comes to the Beverly Hills-based sex club. I figured a TV show was just another way for founder Damon Lawner and his inner circle to congratulate themselves for building this emporium for the male gaze.

After watching the first two episodes, I decided I was right about it. I only watched the third because I had something in the oven and my craptacular cable package didn’t have any better ideas.

Because of my chicken and rice casserole, I’m now writing a very different post from the one I thought I’d be writing.

But let’s start at the beginning.

I hesitate to call Naked Snctm a reality show. It has some of the trappings of the reality show, leading the viewer along with Damon as he goes about his version of a normal day. We even have those little confessional-style clips with his staff and some of Snctm’s members. Despite all that, Naked Snctm feels more like a documentary. It doesn’t feel cheap. It doesn’t even feel exploitative, really. And while I can often sense the producer’s hand at work in the typical reality show, Naked Snctm looks like it was assembled by a storyteller.

I have a LOT to say about this show, and I know you all have limited time. Everyone is busy these days, what with pumpkin spice lattes and the holidays swiftly approaching. I understand. I’ll keep this to two highlights per episode, for four episodes.

Near the beginning of the first episode, we meet Damon’s ex-wife as they sit down for a drink. Melissa explains to us in the confessional that she and Damon met when she was 18. She was raised to think of marriage and relationships in a relatively conservative way, and he … well, he wasn’t.

At the bar, Melissa tells Damon that their twelve-year-old daughter came home from school in tears. Some of the boys in her class have been giving her a hard time. They found Damon on Instagram, followed the breadcrumbs back to the Snctm website, and then did what the average twelve-year-old boy would do in a situation like that.

Damon’s response to this bothered me.

The only way to protect his daughters (he and Melissa also have a nine-year-old) from Snctm is to get rid of it altogether, he says. He isn’t going to get rid of it. It represents his only income stream, he says, and “I don’t have a Plan B.”

I’m not a parent. But I have lost my only income stream without warning. I’ll admit that it’s a little scary and would probably have been more scary if I had human dependents. Wanna guess what I did?

I fucking created a goddamned Plan B.

If I knew that my job was causing my daughter pain — and I think we both know that at 12 years old, this is probably not harmless teasing — I would quit that job, unless my job were critical to the continued existence of Planet Earth. Damon’s job is not critical to the continued existence of Planet Earth. I hope he’s not going to try to convince his daughter that it is.

This exchange takes place early in the first episode, right as we’re getting to know Damon. I can’t help but wonder why. Why tell us this now? Why tell us at all?

Damon (left), with Nicolas, making an important business decision

We don’t have much time to think about this before we’re spirited away to Damon’s place for Diner. Nicolas, Snctm’s operations manager, is on hand for the event. Nicolas — a bright-eyed, clean-shaven, briskly accented opposite to Damon — explains that his job is to make sure everything on the premises is running smoothly. He keeps his eye on the multitudinous candles. He keeps glass off the floor. He isn’t all that interested in the erotic theater himself because that would detract from his job performance. He’s like the security guard at the museum, specifically chosen because he isn’t interested in the art.

Nicolas also reviews the written portion of the Snctm applications. He gave someone a thumbs-down because her essay was “pretty pathetic.”

Nicolas is now the most interesting person I have encountered thus far, in all my dealings with Snctm. Snctm people, take note: had you put me in touch with Nicolas, I might have been a little nicer to you. A little. Let’s not get crazy.

I am a little surprised to find that the artistic director at Snctm is a woman; the club strikes me as a little tone-deaf when it comes to what women would want. Still, Alina arranges the performances for Snctm events. At Diner, the performance is two women going down on each other, on the dinner table, before a third woman in a maid’s costume spreads cake frosting on them both for the consumption of the guests. Alina says this isn’t “some sloppy porn thing,” but where was the last place you saw two women eating each other out on a table where people were having a meal just moments before? It was porn, wasn’t it? Nothing against porn, but wasn’t it?

And if you answered this question, “Actually, Alexa, this sort of thing happens every night at the table for me, you plebeian clod, and no one cares that the wooden surface soaks up emissions like a sponge,” then I apologize. Sorry.

One of the second episode’s highlights is Osa. Osa is the first black woman I’ve seen in any of my writing on Snctm. At her audition to become a performer, she explains that she’s into fetish, including the fart fetish.

I have never heard of the fart fetish. Even the unflappable Nicolas seems flapped by it. Osa assures us that it’s on Wikipedia. It is, but it’s just on a list. Check out this article on eproctophilia from Psychology Today instead. Go right now. I will be here when you get back.

In gratitude for teaching me something I honestly did not know about the world of fetish, I will withdraw exactly one mean-spirited thing I have said about the Snctm people. I’ll let you know when I decide what it is.

The other highlight is a little less pleasant.

The Snctm audition.

There are two dudes auditioning for roles at Snctm as well. One of them is dressed like Nicolas, in a suit with his shirt open at the throat. Like he’s looking for a job. Nice. The other is wearing a blue tank top and a pair of pink shorts. This one, Robbie, takes the top off for a moment to show his interviewers what he looks like in a state of undress. As soon as they get a look at him, that shirt goes right back on. Maybe that’s normal for a man’s interview. Everyone felt Osa up during her audition, so I guess it’s hard to tell what normal is.

Robbie is sent upstairs with the other hopefuls to wait for the next stage, whatever that is. While he’s up there, he’s generally making an ass of himself. “Can I get a kiss?” he asks one of the women who hasn’t auditioned yet. “Should we fuck so you aren’t so horny later?”

Word gets out that Robbie is going to be a problem. Damon and Nicolas send security upstairs to have him removed at once. They are adamant that this kind of thing doesn’t fly at Snctm, and indeed, the Snctm people have always taken that position with me.

Security is Johnathan, one of the performers. Sometimes, he wears a military-style uniform, and he was a cop stripper before Snctm. Evidently this qualifies him to be security at Snctm. Something to keep in mind before dropping money on a base membership.

The third episode takes us to New York and an East Coast Snctm masquerade. Two highlights from this episode as well.

First, as she’s auditioning performers for that night’s party, Alina says the performance has to be more than “two girls in lingerie making out because you can see that everywhere.” I will gently remind the reader that Alina was kind of excited about two girls in lingerie making out in the first episode. Just a reminder, no judgment. Reminds me of the time, also in the first episode, when Damon said Snctm members came from all walks of life and then in the next breath said the base membership cost $15,000. That, to me, excludes some walks of life, but again, that’s just an observation.

The other highlight of the third episode? The IV Doc. Something else I’m learning about for the first time from Naked Snctm.

After a night of overindulgence, Damon is quite unable to get out of bed. Nicolas and Alina need him to get up; there’s business to handle before the masquerade. Nicolas suggests that this happens more often than he’d like. He even seems a little annoyed. What’s a guy to do?

Enter the IV Doc. The IV Doc will come to you, wherever you are, and administer an intravenous pick-me-up that will help you get out of bed to face the day. You can choose vitamins or other supplements, depending on whether you need hydration, detox, or even recovery from food poisoning. It’s actually kind of reasonably priced, when you consider how much it should cost to have a medical professional come to you and give you anything at all.

I had to go onto their website to learn all this. I have a little bit of an issue with needles, so I wasn’t about to watch Damon take that IV, even for you all. There is no way I personally would volunteer to get an IV because I can’t get out of bed. We would just have to write that day off. Perhaps the IV Doctor has a discount package where they open the packet containing the needle and you leap, rejuvenated, out of bed in order to avoid it.

The fourth episode reunites Damon with his mom.

Damon and his mom don’t see eye to eye. It feels personal and not totally appropriate to go into it here. I’ll say that despite Melissa’s suggestion in the first episode that Damon’s parents lived a carefree lifestyle that makes him who he is, I think Damon is actually trying to break free from the world his parents created for him in childhood. Snctm is his world, and at first blush, it does look like a traveling orgy. But in reality, the Diners and the masquerades and all the rest of it operate in a very structured way. Membership comes in tiers. Certain people are allowed to do certain things. There are rules upon rules upon rules. The sex is choreography, designed to entice invited guests.

When Damon ultimately reconciles with his mother, I don’t get a theater vibe from their embrace. He’s made himself open and vulnerable, and he owns that moment completely. I think that if Damon and his mom had ended the conversation by cursing each other out, he’d have owned that, too. This is what I meant when I said that Naked Snctm didn’t feel like reality television. We are in a space with Damon that feels intimate. It’s just unclear whether he considers it intimate. It’s unclear what intimacy means to him, which makes it harder for us to find our footing with it.

Also in the fourth episode, Damon goes on a date.

He’s been set up with a lovely woman named Violine. They’re enjoying a glass of wine and some conversation, and Damon tells us in the confessional that Violine has no idea what he does. He says the experience is refreshing. I know that feeling all too well. I’ve been on that date myself, before the guy across the table knows I write erotica. I treasure the moment when he looks at me and sees the girl he met at Petco or the attorney who works downtown, the one with the weird sense of humor and an unfortunate taste for disco. There is no way to know, without telling him, whether that guy would date a woman who writes erotica. So I know Damon’s desire to preserve the bubble, where he’s just Damon, a guy Violine met through a mutual friend.

But then Damon tells Violine what he does. On the first date, just after telling us how wonderful it is just to be Damon. He explains to Violine about Snctm and his role in it. He asks if she could date a man who did that for a living. Violine touches the napkin to her lips, and I know the answer is no before she says it.

Did you forget the preorder? Don’t forget the preorder. Click here!

I am reminded here of the monkey trap.

In the historically problematic miniseries Shaka Zulu, Edward Fox’s character Francis Farewell describes the monkey trap to Henry Cele’s King Shaka, leader of the Zulu nation. The trap is a gourd with a narrow neck, baited with something monkeys find tempting, like a piece of fruit or a shiny object. The monkey can reach into the gourd with no problem but he cannot withdraw his closed fist. To escape the trap, all the monkey must do is surrender the bait and open his hand. But monkeys won’t do that. Indeed, I saw a film the other day in which a trapped monkey frantically yanked at the gourd, desperate to flee the hunter but unwilling to relinquish his shiny prize.

I’ve come to realize that Damon is caught in a monkey trap. He himself observes that Snctm has cost him dearly. He’s lost his marriage. He’s leaving messages to speak to his daughter. It’s complicating his love life. He needs an IV to get out of bed.

But he won’t let go of it. While the club’s revels seem like the heights of sexual abandon to an outsider, Damon explains, “for me, it’s how I understand love. Sex is love.”

Snctm is Damon’s answer to some deep-seated question. It is the proof to some equation locked within him. It feels like a purpose and a solution to him, and with so much of himself wrapped up in it, I’m not sure what would remain if he let go of it.

He’s at home with his choice, and you all know that I stand for respecting a man’s choice. But I can’t help but see a gourd with a narrow neck, baited with something shiny.

Follow Lady Smut. We’re full of surprises.

I want to give you a hug for getting this far! Instead, I have two announcements.

I will be moving to a monthly post starting this month. Look for me on the first Friday of the month, beginning in October, and I promise to look for you, too. You’ll still get everything you’ve come to know and love from me — whatever that might be. You just won’t be seeing me as frequently.

Also, we at Lady Smut will be starting a new feature this week: Throwback Thursday. As we settle into this sophisticated new format, we’ll be featuring some of our greatest hits every Thursday! Tune in and get yourself a history lesson.

Half Past Time: Rachel Lindsay as the Next Bachelorette

14 Mar

Not sure what lies ahead for Rachel, but she seems to have done pretty well so far, no?

By Alexa Day

Her name is Rachel Lindsay, she’s 31 years old, and she’s an attorney working for a very supportive law firm.

She’s the next Bachelorette. And she’s black.

Some of you can’t be bothered to care, and that’s fine. I will defend to the death your right to apathy. Just understand that this is a really big deal for a great many people.

I’ve never really watched the Bachelor; I could only watch so many grown women burst into real tears on camera over some dude they just met. By the time, I stopped paying attention years ago, the show’s few black cast members were usually on the show long enough to make the network look good. Then they were gone before anyone started to think that the Bachelor, usually a white man, would actually choose a black woman as a romantic partner and potential spouse.

Gradually, black women garnered longer stays on the Bachelor. But before Nick Viall, whose run as the Bachelor will end tonight, none had cracked the final three. Indeed, Nick had a more diverse selection of women than many Bachelors. In the history of the franchise, going back 21 years, the Bachelor and Bachelorette have had only 43 black cast members, and eight of them were with Nick this season.

Rachel left the Bachelor last week, leaving Vanessa and Raven to vie for the final rose. This is about the time I found out that Rachel would be the next Bachelorette, and after I shook my head in wonder that it only took ABC thirteen years to make a black woman the show’s lead, I started to pick through the press coverage.

I liked Rachel immediately. She said her law firm is holding her job open while she films the show, something she knows to be an anomaly in the legal industry. She said she had no desire to know what her dad and Nick talked about, when the two of them apparently had their suitor-parent conference. And then, in The New York Times, she said, “Even though I’m an African-American woman, it’s not different from any other bachelorette.”

You might be asking, at this point, what the big deal is. She says she’s going to be just like any other bachelorette.

That’s the big deal. That’s a huge deal.

I’ve got a few years on Rachel, and so my experience with popular culture’s expectations of black women is probably a little different. Today, we have Rick and Michonne on The Walking Dead, who have moved beyond being the zombie apocalypse’s most dangerous couple and become its most adorable couple as well. On Scandal, Fitz’s adulterous relationship with Olivia might be a thing of the past, but he’s involved in another, similarly complicated interracial relationship with Angela, the director of the FBI … and his ex-wife, Mellie, is flirting across racial lines with her aide, Marcus. Not that long ago, I was delighted to spread the news about the immense but understated magnetism of Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga in Loving.

My point here is that we’re seeing black women with white men in the popular culture. We’re seeing it frequently. What’s so different about this?

The headline that sent me down this Bachelorette rabbit hole was this one, from The Hollywood Reporter: “History-Making ‘Bachelorette’ Opens Up About Pressure to Pick a Black Man.”

Rachel hasn’t even started production yet. And she knows there’s going to be some pressure for her to pick a black man, because to some person or persons out there, it’s okay for her romantic options to be limited by her skin color.
In short, she knows that a lot of people think that black people should be with other black people, to the exclusion of all other people. Whether this view is espoused by enough people to affect her pool of suitors remains to be seen. But she knows the truth about people’s perceptions, and she is willing to tell The Hollywood Reporter about it. In spite of this, she’s determined to pursue her reality-TV romance just like any other woman, of any other race.

“It’s my journey in finding love,” she said. “And whether that person is black, white, red, whatever — it’s my journey. I’m not choosing a man for America, I’m choosing a man for me.”

I hope the network is prepared to support her in this mission.

If Zack and Lisa mattered to you back in the day, then Rachel probably ought to matter to you now.

Because I’m older than Rachel, I remember how many a television show would bring on a completely random black character for the sole purpose of being an appropriate, but temporary, love interest for a more permanent black character. I’m also aware of the longstanding TV trope of pairing the black character with the least romantically desirable character on the show. We’ve made progress, sure. But let’s be honest. Popular culture is still very comfortable with black romance (interracial and otherwise) on the sidelines, leaving black characters with societally appropriate partners who have no chemistry with them, with some grand mission to assist other characters at the expense of their own love lives, or with no partners at all. Honestly, I’m still a bit annoyed with Magic Mike XXL for pushing Rome into the corner. I’m enjoying the rise of Richonne because part of me is afraid it’s going to be taken away soon. Please don’t start me talking about Sleepy Hollow again.

I’m not going to sit here with you and suggest that the Bachelorette is the flagship of romance. I did just say I couldn’t bear to watch grown women devastated to discover that they wouldn’t be marrying some dude they just met a little while ago. But Ali Barthwell from Vulture says it best in “Why a Black Bachelorette is a Big Deal.”

“Celebrating black womanhood in the context of marriage and motherhood might seem reductive to some, but because they’ve so often been denied those roles in pop culture, it’s in fact, revolutionary,” she writes. “Seeing a black woman as the woman pursued, riding off into the sunset, would do so much to diversify the narratives of black romance.”

Will I tune in for Rachel? Well, just last night, one of her future suitors apparently greeted her, on international television, with the promise that he was “ready to go black and never go back.” I have to support a woman who could hear a man say that and not punch him in the face, cameras be damned.

In the meantime, let me present two tales of reality TV romance where black women take center stage.

In The One, by Danielle Allen, heroine Zoe is a reality-TV skeptic who suddenly finds herself on a Bachelor-style show. And Bridget Midway’s Love series, starting with Love My Way, features a reality TV show that pairs Doms with their submissives.

Still looking for excitement? Try this on for size.

Let the Confessional Games Begin!

Have you ever had mad monkey love on a motorcycle? A three-way in an alley? Been roped, tied and pleasured? Have you never, ever, never done any of this? Be rewarded for your naughty or sweet past and win crowns, toys, books and more at the Lady Smut special reader event, May 3 at 1:30 p.m. at the RT Booklovers Convention.

Follow Lady Smut. This is where the fun starts.

 

 

Lovin’ the Cray-Cray: Q&A with K.M. Jackson

29 Nov

Today our Lady Smut Q&A guest is Kwana Jackson, who publishes books under the name K.M.Jackson.

MADELINE IVA: Kwana, thanks so much for being with us today.

KWANA JACKSON: Thanks so much for having me over Madeline, it’s a real treat. As you probably know from my tweets that I like a little bit of the over the top crazy especially in my TV viewing.

MADELINE IVA: Why does Nene of the show First Housewives of Atlanta have a special place in your heart? What is her special brand of crazy? On another note–How did the television show Bridezillas first suck you in?

KWANA JACKSON: I always had a thing for Nene from the as I call them “Not So Real” Housewives of the ATL. I felt that out of being not so real, Nene kept it the realest. Always telling like it was no matter if people liked it or not. And yes, she did have a moment in season 2 where she went over the top and lost it for a moment there and became a bit of a caricature of herself but I think she brought it back home and it shows with her now taking a step into acting with being on shows like Glee and The New Normal.

As for Bridezillas, though I don’t watch all the time I will get sucked in on a Saturday marathon from time to time. There is just something about those crazy brides that has me saying, well gee, I guess my husband really lucked out with me. LOL.

MADELINE IVA: Is there one particular bridezilla that you simply cannot forget? What makes her stand out in your memory?

KWANA JACKSON: There was one and I can’t remember her name but she was just awful and her voice just grated. She would say the grooms name over and over. I kept wanting him to just leave her already.

MADELINE IVA: You’ve said: “I’d give anything if they did a 6 month later follow up on those couples. There is no way most of them make it. Just no way.” Do you think the irony of presenting a bride showing her utter contempt towards everyone—when she’s supposed to be declaring her eternal love–gives the reality show Bridezilla’s it’s appeal?

KWANA JACKSON: I don’t know. I think folks just like to see people behaving badly but a part of me feels like it won’t last. At a certain point the audience just may grow tired of this type of behavior and there may be a backlash. Even I, who goes for the crazy, sometimes get a little exhausted and says can this really be real? Where are these people?

MADELINE IVA: We’ve also talked about our love for crazy things that happen in romance novels. For example, I’ll never forget the Laura Kinsale novel where at one point the hero and heroine are stuck on a deserted island and together they raise a penguin. [The craziest part is how good Kinsale’s writing is–I’m not going to say how much I wept for that penguin. It’s just embarrassing.]

You’ve said you love pirates and sheiks in cray-cray romance stories. Any titles you can recommend?

KWANA JACKSON: There are so many pirates and so little time but Susan Mallery has quite a few sheiks. [Note from Lady Smut: And Mallery’s sheiks titles all have brides in them!] A new favorite sheik author of mine is Caitlin Crews. For best title go to Sharon Kendrick with The Playboy Sheikh’s Virgin Stable-Girl. Seriously with that title you get it all.

MADELINE IVA:  Right! I think Smart Bitches Trashy Books made hay with that book.  Meanwhile, I don’t enjoy actually doing crazy stuff myself. (Well, except for quitting my career to start writing romance novels. ;>) But I’m so drawn to hearing about it, watching it, etc. Do you think we’re hardwired that way? Does it serve a purpose to observe different kinds of craziness (like on reality television)? Do we learn from it in some way? Do we identify with it in some way?

KWANA JACKSON: I think that people like to escape from their own realities and if that means going a little crazy in their television or reading then so be it. It’s in a safe environment (for the most part) that way. In my book Through The Lens, a regular woman goes out of her comfort zone to have an island fling with her unobtainable boss, the man of her dreams.

MADELINE IVA: I mean, sometimes I identify with those bridezillas a little. Like the bridezilla who guessed most of her bridesmaids didn’t shave under their arms even though they were wearing strapless gowns. She pinned them down and made them admit it and then started busting out the razors. That there is pure problem solving in my opinion. I might have done the same thing myself. Do you ever read anything crazy in romance novels or watch anything crazy in reality television that you find you identify with?

KWANA JACKSON: Sure, I guess that’s why I liked Nene so much on The Real Housewives on ATL a lot of the things she said, I would have said myself. Like when she told Kim to, “close your legs to married men.” Bam! Perfect line, quick and to the point. Of course in the real world and on TV and in fiction nothing is perfect. Kim gave us so much crazy with her affair with Mr. Big and then Nene later with her own men, but this is why we love to watch.

MADELINE IVA: I ended up writing about a bridezilla throwing platters of shrimp off the deck at her wedding. [Of course it was bad shrimp that a sketchy caterer tried to foist off on the wedding guests.] It was so much fun writing that scene. Do you have crazy elements in your own romances?

KWANA JACKSON: I do have a bit of the crazy in Through The Lens. In one of my favorite scenes my heroine bites my hero’s tongue after a particularly passionate kiss. It was fun to write and wasn’t planned. I swear she just did it. I laughed so much after I typed the words.

Thank you so much for having me. Like I said this was a real treat and a pleasure. I’d love to hear what your readers like in their brand of wild and crazy.

Kwana can be reached via:

Her  website at www.kwana.com

On twitter at: https://twitter.com/KwanaWrites

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KmJacksonAuthor

Email me at: kwanawrites@yahoo.com

A bit about Through The Lens:

Mika Walters is a normal woman working in the not so normal world of New York Fashion. As long time assistant to sexy photographer Alejandro Vargas she’s tired of being the girl in the background. Just once she wants Alejandro to look at her with the same smoldering look he gives his models and now she has her chance.

After a travel mishap where the rest of the crew and the models can’t make the remote location shoot for another three days Mika is taking her moment to catch Alejandro’s eye and put herself in front of Alejandro’s camera… at least until the real world catches up with them.

Alejandro doesn’t know what’s gotten into Mika maybe it’s the sand, maybe it’s the sun, he doesn’t really care. All he knows is that he’s finally opened his eyes and is seeing her clearly for the first time as the smart, gorgeous and incredibly irresistible woman she is.

But why can’t she realize that what he’s feeling for her is not one of his usual one, well, three night stands? What’s it going to take for him to prove to Mika that she’s the woman he wants? Now and forever.

 

Through The Lens is available at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

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