Night of the Senses

After I had been to the Erotic Awards I wasn’t sure if monogamy was such a good idea. Fuck For Forest and Rock Bitch both described to me how living in a sex commune was where it is at. Based in Berlin and Scotland respectively their invitations to sample their lifestyle did intrigue me, and I’ll admit, the incredibly stunning members of 90s feminist rock band Rockbitch known for performing live pagan sex rituals at their gigs and always naked, plus their fine tuning to the anti-feminine mores of society, felt tempting. Fuck For Forest seemed young by comparison, like very horny continental elves who looked like they might live in the woods! They said Berlin however is where they reside due to the leniency and opportunities for artists there (their public sexual antics have presented problems with authorities.)

I was invited by my friend Estelle Riviere to be one of her models for her Monsterlune fashion show. This was a great honour as her clothes are supremely unique, quirky and erotic; as well it is a big pleasure to hang out with her and all the other models.

me trying on my costume at Estelle’s

Fellow model and friend Lucy Castro

Backstage at Night of the Senses

Estelle’s clothes are characterized by what she calls hoods, or balaclavas! Most with tiny eye holes lend the wearer a minor disability which felt apt for the evening. I was not very confident about where the edge of the stage was, but the main emphasis was to revel in looking strange and sexy. She chose each costume for the 15 of us modelling individually, so they somehow expressed us all. My outfit was one of the least erotic while Lucy’s displayed Japanese art-porn, Jon had a long dangling cock, James wore pussy pants and various offered some nudity. Creating original clothes is Estelle’s passion and it was wonderful to share in her show experience and learn from her natural and relaxed direction. This was an art project as much as a fashion show and all the models are her friends, some who have modelled for her several times and traveled to do so. They are mostly fellow life models and artists who are part of the club scene she enjoys.

This was no ordinary fetish experience; The Night of the Senses raises money and awareness for disabled people to enjoy sex and relationships via the Outsiders charity. Wandering about the busy venue many differently abled people were enjoying the festivities so that a high level of accessibility felt normal. That alone was mindblowing and felt like a pretty awesome vision of the future. I mean I have worked in very accessible places before like the National Theatre, and I never saw such a high proportion of disability there. The atmosphere of inclusivity was like a warm embrace for even the rarest of fetish club attendees such as myself. I used to frequent those haunts back in the 90s but unfortunately never stumbled across this one until now (this was the 25th anniversary! It used to be called Sex Maniacs Ball.)

With free and open sexuality so high on the agenda it could have felt daunting if one is not looking to explore that. For myself it was a huge privilege to be among these people and witness their world, meeting new people with radical lifestyles. Unlike when I was younger I did not feel the need to experience so much at first hand; I could appreciate more as an observer. In any case there were plenty of shows designed especially for that.

I have wondered about the viability of open relationships and it was inspiring to meet groups of people who have made them work as what they call polyamorous relationships in communes over several years, in fact at least 20 years in the case of some of the members of Rockbitch. One of them described to me how it began by one woman falling in love with another and gradually more becoming involved in the romantic and sexual union of the group. There used to be men involved, but now there is only one who I also met. Others are welcome to join if they meet the criteria of the commune, though apparently men generally can’t hack it. I’m not surprised; both Alex and Suna who I met radiate immense power which could be quite intimidating if you don’t really know what you are about. No longer playing or performing as Rockbitch, they remain in commune pursuing individual projects and helping to host the Erotic Awards which has long been their supporter and friend.

Fuck For Forest have a site where punters pay to view erotic images and home-made porn with the proceeds going towards saving the environment. I thought I would do my bit and posed for their lens. In my usual life I am used to being more nude-friendly than others around. On this night I was surrounded by nudity as celebration and normality, nature.

There are so many awards categories, including for sex workers, writers, porn/film makers, activists. This is not the first time I have come into contact with the clash that is part of the firmament of contemporary feminism (anti-sex industry) and pro-sex worker activism, which is also differently feminist. I can appreciate elements of both argument. The sex industry as it stands rarely honours women who are a large part of its currency as it ought to as the Goddesses they are. To vilify the industry however and demand its closure, does nothing for the women who gain a great deal from their jobs there. And I know from 1st hand experience how working in that industry can offer a sense of liberation. Laws need to change, but to empower the workers, not close it down.

There was an air of solidarity at this event that tantalized one’s expectation. As Grayson Perry has said of it “the good people in a gloriously murky industry”. Beautiful and natural people all around, being themselves as fabulously eccentric and relaxed as they are. Smiles and welcomes, introductions from strangers which it was perfectly fine to decline, but weren’t we all having a spectacular time! There is extensive description of the Erotic Awards philosophy on their website which I reccommend for appreciating immensely their joyful ethos, (eg http://www.erotic-awards.co.uk/nos_lbod.html). Sex-positive vibe rocks!!

My boyfriend has noted that I am somewhat impressionable. Every time I go away a few days or visit an unusual scene, it is as if I absorb my environment, for a while ready to take it on as my own! He says that like a method actor, I am a ‘method-lifer’. I like to think I keep the parts that are helpful and fun. It is true that I am ever curious about what other folk are really like. If I get a chance of an audience with some fabulous types I am most obliged.

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