EVENTS: Me. Sex. Comic Books. This November.

29 Oct

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I’ve got two great and totally different events coming up, both in Southern California.  Come to them and say hello and give me a hug and tell me everything about yourself.

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WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 7:30 PM (doors) at The Body Well in West Hollywood

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Sex is everyone’s favorite taboo.  We do it, pursue it, and think about it, and it’s an essential aspect of our physical, mental, and emotional health.  But we have a hard time talking about it, even with our doctor.  To make matters worse, our doctors are usually only qualified to tell us about the basic biology and mechanics of sex.  But our sex lives extend beyond the bedroom and the actual act of sex.  What does it mean to be sexually healthy outside the bedroom?  How can we think and talk about sex in a healthy way? How can we contend with our sexual feelings when we’re not having sex, and what’s the best way to interact with everyone else’s sexualities?

Join me, Loveline co-host and Sex with Emily sex advice podcaster Emily Morse; and the host of Logo TV’s Bad Sex, author of Sex Outside the Lines, sex therapist Chris Donaghue, for our lively discussion about how to have a sexually healthy life.  The discussion will be led by Dr. Mike Carragher at The Body Well, followed by YOUR questions for the panelists after.

Suggested donation: $10.00-$20.00  No one turned away for lack of funds.

Parking: There is a parking lot behind The Body Well accessible via the alley. There is also metered parking available on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Here are bios for my two co-panelists!

chris
Dr. Chris Donaghue is a licensed clinical therapist, nationally certified sex therapist and doctor of clinical sexology and human sexuality.  He is host of the new TV show, Sex Box, airing in early 2015, and host of Logo TV’s “Bad Sex”. Dr. Donaghue has been featured in Newsweek, and seen on National Geographic, CNN, OWN, Piers Morgan, and Dr. Drew’s “Lifechangers.” His bookSex Outside the Lines will be out in July 2015
emily
Dr. Emily Morse is a sexologist, relationship expert and host of the top downloaded sex and relationship advice podcast Sex with Emily, co-author of Hot Sex: Over 200 Things You Can Try Tonight, co-founder of Emily & Tony, weekly co-host on Loveline with Dr. Drew, and has been featured by numerous media outlets such as CNN, BRAVO, E!, New York Times and has a Sunday sex column in glamour.com

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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 8

Sex, Pop Culture, and Comic Books: A conversation with Conner Habib and Phil Jimenez at Bent-Con

Phil

at the Los Angeles Burbank Marriot Convention Center/2500 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA

Bent-Con is the big queer sci-fi/comics convention here in Southern California.  Last year, I wrote an article on the convention for Vice magazine.  This year, I’m immersed in the queer geekdom.  I’ll be having an hour-long conversation with legendary – and I mean legendary – comics artist Phil Jimenez.  Phil is an is primarily known for his work as writer/artist on Wonder Woman from 2000 to 2003, as one of the five pencilers of the 2005-2006 miniseries Infinite Crisis, and his collaborations with writer Grant Morrison on New X-Men and The Invisibles. Also, he’s awesome.

We’re going to go all over the place: Comics, fucking (well, um, talking about fucking, anyway), queer identity in comics culture, sci fi and geekdom, and more.

Gayternity

Me and a presumably queer Eternity.

 

Here’s the description of the event from the Bent-Con site: A salon style conversation between Conner Habib (Author, The Sex Book; Adult Film Actor) and Phil Jimenez (Comic Book Writer, DC & Marvel). Join us for an un-moderated, free-for-all conversation between these two pop culture stalwarts. Pull up a chair, grab a bean bag, listen in, ask questions, and let the fun begin!

 

It’s all true.  It’ll be a free-for-all.  I’m not sure what that means exactly, but yes! It will be that.

You can register for the conference for one day or two or three.  Phil and I would love to see you there.

 

Fall Update and I’m the Vice President of Something

14 Oct

 

MAP

I’m a very professional person.

See that tie I’m wearing?  Professional.  Nevermind that I don’t have pants on underneath the frame of the photo.  I’ve got to be profesh now that I’m the elected Vice President of a non-profit organization!  Along with straight porn superstars James Deen, Chanel Preston, Veruca James, and Ela Darling, I’m now on the board of The Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC), and I couldn’t be happier.  APAC is an organization whose membership is exclusively made up of porn performers, with the aim of encouraging performer health, safety, happiness, and quality of life.  The organization was formed over a year ago by James Deen, Stoya, and others and membership has swelled as word has gotten out that we’re the only non-profit in town actually considering performer viewpoints and voices.  We’ve fought against AB1576, created a Model Bill of Rights, raised thousands of dollars for related charities, and more.  Part of my job is to create a bridge between the gay and straight industries, and to also make sure trans*, queer, and alt – performers are featured in the public discussion of porn, which too often leaves them out.  I’m also one of the media spokespeople/contacts (along with Chanel) so f you’re not a performer and have questions about the organization, feel free to hit me up.

If you are an adult performer and interested in becoming a member, click here.

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I am on a couple podcasts talking about the occult and sometimes it gets deep, y’all.

- First up: The Modern Witch Podcast.  Even though I’m not a witch, my own occult interests intersect with magickal religious traditions.  We talk quite a bit about God and what anyone means, anyway, when they mention God.  I answer a few audience questions and it’s kind of gay in the good way.

- Also: Why Are People into That? with sex-savy host Tina Horn.  Lots about how magick and ritual relates to sex.  I also talk about my first memory and anal sex as an act of powerful transubstantiation.  So.  There you go.

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I am interviewed by these magazines and say a lot of crazy shit and it’s fun.  Here are some quotes from them.

I’m in Playboy! Not, alas, as a centerfold. Someday!  Until then, there’s a little write up of me and my work, and I feel really flattered to be featured.  “Pornography represents a flipside and balancing-out of the cultural expectations of college students.”

- There’s a long an in-depth interview with me in Polari Magazine – we conducted the interview awhile back, but it’s recently posted, and there’s a lot there.  “For me, the impossibility of Christianity is a profound thing for me. I was hanging out with a friend the other night, he’s an atheist and a comedian and he makes these jokes about being an atheist. But he asked me “So you believe in Jesus Christ? That this smart guy preached all this good stuff? You don’t believe in the entire walk on water or water to wine stuff?”. I said, “I totally believe in that, that’s the most important part”. What atheists say to all is “that’s impossible, it couldn’t have happened”. Whereas a more religious aligned person would say, “it’s impossible but it happened anyway”. Ultimately, it’s irrelevant whether it happened or not. The thing that is vital for me is about existing in a conceptual world where I can think of things impossible. I allow myself to think outside of the structures and confines of what I’m told is supposed to have happened, even down to the laws of physics and science. It allows everything to be possible.

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Me and my porn bestie, gay-for-pay icon, Girth Brooks.

I have that approach in everything in life. In an election you’re told that you can vote for one guy or vote for the guy that’s slightly worse. There’s more to it than those options because I’m going to do everything in my power to make the world a better place. If you think that you only have these two little options, then you’re stuck with that. It’s always about doing the impossible thing and seeing past what we’re told. That probably comes from the punk rock thing! When someone says, “You can’t do that”, I might agree; but I will always take a minute to think or imagine a way outside of this.”

- Finally, my appearance in a recent issue of LA’s big free gay magazine, Frontiers. They wanted to know what I thought about gay for pay – which is something I get asked about quite a bit, and have written about here and here.  But the subject is endlessly fascinating, I suppose.  After all, it links into all our questions about what the heck sexuality is, after all.  “What about gay men who were married for decades, came out late in life and decided to express their true feelings? Are they bi, straight or gay?”

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Finally – have you noticed? I’ve been updating my blog more regularly.  I think I deserve a big kiss on the cheek for that.  Or a hug.  Or a handy.

XXXo,

CH

Porn-ing Your Way through College 101: A Syllabus

3 Oct

Porn-ing Your Way Through College 101

Syllabus

Instructor: Conner Habib

blackboardCourse Description

Every year, hundreds of thousands of barely legal teens are coerced by people more powerful than them, as well as societal pressure, to make the life-altering, no-going-back, always-on-your-permanent-record decision to go to college.

There are serious consequences for this, including discrimination based on your performance, not being able to find a job after college ends, and having to disclose to your partners and lovers what your major is.

Nevertheless, here you are, in a financially and sexually exploitative environment with no foreseeable way out.

Never fear!  Pornography is here to help.  Porn-ing Your Way Through College will help navigate the ins and outs of pornography, how to enhance your pornographic experience by being in college, and how to pay your way through porn by being in college.

Course Goals

Porn will help you develop valuable skills for navigating the difficult world of college and beyond.  These include:

Understanding your sexual boundaries.

Sex is constantly present and potentially dangerous in any college environment.  Being in porn will help you develop your boundaries by providing a safe space to experiment with your sexual preferences, constitution, and comfortability.  The general rule on porn sets is that performers have a right to say no at any time to any sexual act.  Developing this detailed understanding of what boundaries are absolute, and which of your own boundaries you’re interested in pushing, will make sex and the possibility of sexual interaction more pleasant for you off set.  Porn will help you understand not just how to say “no” when you don’t want to engage sexually, but also how to say “yes” when you do.

Understanding Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

Most porn studios have some STI protocol in place.  This means you’ll be engaging with some combination of basic STI education (including how STIs are transmitted and how to prevent and be aware of transmission), STI testing, and condom or other barrier use. You’ll also learn how to be more aware of your body and sexual health, since your livelihood will depend on it.  This will give you important information in your four years of college, as well as potentially transform you into a valuable health resource for your friendly but reckless peers.

Understanding How To Choose What You Want.

Choosing to be in porn is like choosing to be art history major: It’s widely discouraged by our culture.  Yet many people find porn and a career in other humanities rewarding and fulfilling.  By deciding to be in porn, you’ll be casting away social pressure by deciding your desire and integrity is more important than what our culture says you “should” do.  This makes you an ideal role model for incoming freshman who would otherwise throw their lives away traveling a path and choosing a major that’s expected from them.

Understanding How To Create Intimacy.

In porn, you’ll be expected to perform sexual acts with people you may not find immediately attractive.  While some people may deem such sexual acts “mechanical,”  you’ll find, instead, that they can be fun, athletic, and create a sense of healthy detachment.  One of the reasons sex workers are sometimes hired as hospice caregivers in other countries is because they don’t fear the touch of or touching a body that they may not feel drawn to.  The detachment that being in porn can help develop the ability to create intimacy rather than to expect it.  This will make you a better listener, communicator, and less apt to make kneejerk decisions with strangers, professors, or administrators.

classGrades

Whether you pass or fail in Porn-ing Your Way Through College will be assessed by a few factors. 

These include:

Integration of Porn into Your Present and Future Life. 

Let’s face it: Your friends, family, and coworkers, as well as your future employers will probably find out that you’ve appeared in adult scenes.  Make sure you’re ready for that.  Be able to approach them without apology (ie “I’m just working my way through college!”) or resentment (ie. “Yeah I’m in porn, fuck you, so what?!”).  Being able to calmly own your choices and sexuality presents a strong statement to other people and culture, and is more respectable than trying to hide your porn career, which is mostly impossible.

Managing the Rest of Your Affairs.

The down-to-earth nature of performing filmed sexual acts for money may make college, with its emphasis on theories, obedience, and beauracracy seem ungrounded and arbitrarily demanding. Make sure you keep your affairs in order, though.  Even though the academia is unreasonable and demeaning, it’s important that you stay the course and attend to your responsibilities.  It’s also important to keep your financial situation in order by keeping track of your taxes (ask your accounting professor for help!) and saving some money in the event that you’re unable to appear in porn during busy times like finals week.

Responsibility to Promoting Sex-Positivity and Other Sex Workers.

Now that you’re in porn, you’re in the public eye, people are going to have expectations of you, and be looking to you for guidance when it comes to the confusing and culturally fucked up world of sex.  People will appropriately or inappropriately bring up sexual topics and express their curiosities prejudices about what you and other sex workers do.  Everyone should have the right to express themselves sexually provided consent is present for all parties, sex work is work, and you should hold your head high for yourself and others. Make sure you’re able to patiently hear questions about your sex worker peers, including other porn performers, escorts, strippers, online sex cammers and amateurs, and to answer with compassion.

Don’t worry about being perfect, just do what you can!

Join an organization like the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee (APAC) or lend a helping hand at St. James Infirmary to interact with and support your peers.  Meet with your on-campus LGBT or sex positive student groups.

textbooksRecommended Reading

Playing the Whore by Melissa Gira Grant

My Dangerous Desires by Amber Hollibaugh

Porn Studies edited by Linda Williams

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With thanks to Christopher Frizzelle, Bravo Delta, and Belle Knox for the inspiration.

Antroposophy 101 AKA All That Weird Shit I’m Always Talking About

29 Sep

asabovesobelowEvery once in awhile, amongst the dick pics and sociopolitcal rants on twitter, or between the lines of an essay, I’ll mention some bizarre occult stuff.  Sometimes it raises eyebrows, but more often, I’ll get some ernest, thoughtful questions in my inbox about it.  Here’s an incomplete introduction to some of the spiritual principles I think about – headquartered in an approaching to being called anthroposophy, developed by Rudolf Steiner.  The below Q&A first appeared in a slight different form on the online spirituality, science and culture magazine, Reality Sandwich.  

ANTHROPOSOPHY and RUDOLF STEINER 101

Who was Rudolf Steiner and who’s working with Steiner’s ideas today?

Rudolf Steiner was a scientist, philosopher, and spiritual thinker who lived in the late 19th and early 20th Century.  He produced a huge body of work, including thousands of lectures, a whole shelf-full of books, and a building in Switzerland called the Goetheanum.  His work, and the work and perspective of those who are influenced by his ideas, is referred to as anthroposophy.

One of the most impressive things about Rudolf Steiner are the practical fruits of his spiritual worldview.  His influence is felt most strongly around the world in the system of agriculture he created, called biodynamic farming; in Waldorf schools; and in CSAs (community-shared agriculture), which he laid the foundations for.  But Steiner also created a new form of medicine, bee keeping, a way to create stained glass, jewelry making, and more.  His spiritual perspective was even poised to inform the structure of European government near the end of World War I.

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Wassily Kandinsky

Steiner’s work has also deeply influenced scientists and ecologists; Rachel Carson was inspired by the work of anthroposophists, for example.

So there are hundreds of thousands of people interacting with anthroposophical ideas, whether they know it or not.  Some people directly influenced by Steiner’s work include novelist Saul Bellow, writer CS Lewis, scientist James Lovelock, artists Joseph Beuys, Wassily Kandinsky, and more.

How did I get interested in Steiner?

When I was in grad school, Rudolf Steiner’s name kept popping up in reading I was doing, but I never really looked into it.  When I went to an environmental conference with my teacher and mentor, world-renowned biologist/geoscientist Lynn Margulis, I came across a brochure for a place called the Nature Institute, which had a three month-long program on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s method of science. 

Even though I was in school already, Lynn said, “If you can get into that program, you’re going.”  You didn’t argue with Lynn Margulis about stuff like that.  So I got in and went, having no idea that Goethe was one of Steiner’s main influences.  Suddenly, I was soaking in anthroposophy. I got an apartment that was literally next to a biodynamic farm and across the street from a Waldorf school.  It was the perfect fit for me: I was in grad school for creative writing and biology, and anthroposophy bridges the gaps between the arts and the sciences.  Eventually I was reading Steiner’s lectures, and even though I didn’t understand any of it at first I felt a feeling of growth as I worked to comprehend what he’d said.

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The Goetheanum

What are the basics of anthroposophy?

There aren’t really any basics explicitly laid out, partially because anthroposophy is so far-reaching and complex, partially because it evaded dogma, and most importantly because anthroposophy is so deeply individualized.  Everyone’s ideas of what the fundamentals are will be different. 

That said, there are certain threads that I see again and again in Steiner’s work, so I think of those as my fundamentals.

They are:

The principle that thoughts are as real as objects.  In other words, we need to understand that the thought-world is as important as the material world.  In the current mainstream worldview we tend to dismiss thoughts as illusory, but Steiner would say they are just as foundational to reality as material is.

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Owen Barfield

The evolution of consciousness.  Steiner taught that consciousness evolves over time.  He didn’t just mean that the content of our thinking evolved, but that the structure of thought, feeling, and perception evolved.  The difference between what a person six hundred years ago thought and what we think today isn’t just a difference of what but how.  Many anthroposophical thinkers, like writer Owen Barfield, developed this work – pointing to the forms of language we use and art we make as evidence for this.

There is a spiritual landscape populated by spiritual beings, and these beings are constantly interacting with us.  For anthroposophists, these beings are not merely conceptual metaphors, but actual entities.  There’s a vast hierarchy of creation that can be understood only by studying, contemplating, and considering these beings.  This is the hardest principle for people unfamiliar with anthroposophy to deal with, so Steiner goes into great detail about what he means and helps to assist people to discover this on their own (or to reject it!), rather than just taking his word for it.

The highest principles of being are freedom and compassion.  By freedom, Steiner means thinking, feeling, and acting with real intention, rather than being led by compulsion.  Like many spiritual thinkers, Steiner understood that even when we believe were acting out of freedom, we are very often not.  His best solution for this was to work on having compassion for others as a way to develop freedom for yourself and to cultivate an atmosphere of freedom for others to develop in.  If you didn’t buy any of the other stuff about anthroposophy, but got this part down, you’d have a good handle on it.  As usual, Steiner doesn’t just assert this, but gives practical guidance on how to work on this faculty.

How did Steiner use his spiritual insight to create practices and change in the world?

Steiner’s work was about spiritualizing the material and materializing the spiritual, so that we could heal the rift we perceive between the two.  To that end, his efforts were always holistically inspired. 

For example, biodynamic farming isn’t just about making better tasting blueberries.  It’s about healing the soil the blueberries grow on, creating a healthy environment for the farmers, and creating a farm for those blueberries in which each component — the cows, the other plants, the farmers — act as organs in the body of the farm organism.  (By the way, the blueberries taste delicious.)

Another example is the Camphill movement, which works with people who have learning and mental disabilities, who become residents in Camphill communities.  Rather than just shuffling them away or trying to fix these people, Camphill considers them as whole human beings, with their own lessons to teach and lives to live.  They’re no more deficient or in need of fixing than you or I, and our destiny is intertwined with theirs.

A third example is Steiner’s work with money, currently pioneered by organizations like RSF Social Finance.  Steiner wanted us to reconsider our relationship to money, and rather than demonize it, elevate it into its proper place.  Money, he taught, was actually an impulse of brotherhood.  It revealed to us our relationships when we interacted with strangers and people we know in exchange.  So to help improve money, we need to restore it to it its principle of caring relationship.

Those are just three examples in the huge web of Steiner’s efforts to bring the principle of love and spirituality to a world that was becoming heavier and heavier with materialist and consumerist impulses.  They all stem from the principles discussed above, which Steiner wrote and spoke about and enacted his entire adult life.

Steiner

Rudolf Steiner

Habib Summer Update – Events, Writing, and Your Suggestions

17 Jul

showerHello, summer!  Lots happening. 

The biggest news is that I turned my book — re-titled The Sex Book: Myths, Positions, Taboos and Possibilities — into the publisher (Disinformation Books), so now all I have to do is wait for the edits and dive back in.  There’s this sort of negative space when you finish a book.  Like, what do I do now?

Happily, other people and assignments having been keeping me too busy to notice my postpartum angst.

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Fighting AB1576

If you haven’t yet heard of the crazy human rights violation that is AB1576, let me introduce you.  AB1576 is a bill heading to the California State Senate, that would mandate condoms and testing for all porn performers and all porn shoots.  It sounds like a good idea at first, but when you look at it for just a wee bit longer, it starts to reveal itself as a terrible disaster – a disaster of policy and morals.

For a full expression of why you should oppose AB1576, as well as how it intersects with the LGBT community, here’s my article about the bill for Slate, and below is an excerpt.

To fight AB1576 isn’t to argue against HIV testing for individuals, but against state-mandated testing. State-mandated testing is an HIV test without consent, in the sense that a performer would be forced to have one to work. AB1576 states that not getting an HIV test coincident with a porn production, even a small-scale one featuring you and your partner, would be a crime. This would be true even if two men who had already tested positive HIV wanted to make porn together. They would have to get tested every 14 days. Furthermore, two HIV+ men would have to wear condoms in all productions, since the bill does not distinguish who should wear condoms based on status. Whatever your feelings about two men with HIV having unprotected sex, they certainly don’t need testing every 14 days, and we now know that men with undetectable viral loads do not transmit HIV. If that’s not enough to disturb you, the bill would also criminalize two long-term monogamous partners making their own porn. They’d have to test for the production and wear condoms as well.

I’ve also been interviewed several times about it.  For DailyDot on how safer conditions for performers require more than some overreaching bill, Tits And Sass along with Jiz Lee on the fallout of the bill and its potential for harm , Vice, and more.

To take action opposing AB1576, click here.  Then when you see me, tell me you did it, and I’ll give you a huge hug for your help.

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Writing

One of my favorite pieces to write in the past few months was my essay on the 1980s straight porn film, Debbie Goes To College for Nerve.com.  Nerve asked me to write a piece about something from pop culture that shaped my sexuality.  Maybe it’s a little obvious, but porn shaped my sexuality, especially straight porn, since that was all that was available.

DGTCHere’s an excerpt:

When I was young, I didn’t understand why I fixated on the blowjob scenes so much. It must be because I want some college girl to do that to me, I thought (wrongly, of course). Most gay guys my age have had this experience: we watched straight porn because it was what we had access to, and what we presumed we wanted to watch. But really, I’m not sure what’s more confusing: gay guys watching straight porn or straight guys watching it. I mean there are naked men in it. How do straight men cope with watching men have sex with women?  There are all these dicks. Guys fucking. Butt cheeks. The mystery of straight porn is that it can’t ever really be straight.

I continue to contribute, albeit sporadically, sex and relationship advice to Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger’s blog.  Since Patti and I often have totally divergent views on sex and relationships, writing my column, Free Sex, has been fun.  Here are two entries, one on something I call “desire etiquette” and another on why you should let go of the concept of “forever.”

vanpeltI also wrote my first piece on music! It’s an interview with a short article – I talk to my friend Chris Leo (brother of Ted Leo, power pop superstar and Aimee Man’s bandmate in The Both) about his 1990s post-punk band, The Van Pelt.  That era of music holds a special place for me and the formation of my values and aesthetics, so it was awesome to sit down with Chris and talk about it.

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More Blog – What Do You Think?

Speaking of venturing out, I’m going to be posting more often on this blog, which means my blog is going to get a little more, um, bloggy.  Since I’m selling most of my longer form writing at this point, I want to funnel some of my less refined and more casual thinking into this space.  I can’t keep up with the one-post-a-day thing, but since I’m intending to do more here, I’d love to know what you’d like to hear more about?  I’m open to any suggestions regarding form or content.  Interviews? Images?  Musings? Quotes?  Tumblr-style curation?  Etc.

Comment below or send an email with ideas to connerhabibsocial at gmail

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Media

Straight GuysI’m featured in the documentary Straight Guys, which is all about gay-for-pay performers.  Don’t worry, I’m not straight (and how
dare you think that even for a second!), but I have worked with lots of men who identify as heterosexual.  The film also features my pal, porn hotty Bravo Delta, and the gay (“gay”?) studio Chaos Men.  Here’s the trailer, which is just a little NSFW.

GQ France gave me a little shout out, which I think is pretty awesome.  And that led to me a quick flurry of me appearing in French media.  Here’s an extensive review of my work on the French blog, Pop and Films.

Finally, I’m one of 80 interviews in the book, Around the World in 80 Gay Porn Stars.  Always nice to be between the covers with 79 other fellas.  It’s edited by Jimi Goninan and Paul Travers, and you can buy the ebook here.

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Events

I’ll be appearing at Catalyst Con in Los Angeles in September as an opening keynote speaker!  

Catalyst Con is the country’s big sex-worker/sex-positivity/sex-education/sexual liberation conference.  I’m honored to be a part of this event.  To register, go to the Catalyst Con site.  Then come hang out with me and a bunch of people who know a lot about sex.  Sound like fun, doesn’t it?  Catalyst Con 2014 is September 11-14.  Click here for more info.

If you want to bring me to your school or non-academic organization to speak, click here for more info.

Okay, that’s all for now!

Love,

CH

Spring Has Sprung (Update!)

3 May

libraryI’m really and truly almost finished with my book, Remaking Sex (out in 2015 from from Disinformation books). Right now, I’m compiling a full publication, media appearance and movie archive, as well as overhauling my website.  If you’re a web designer and you want to help me out with that, great!  In the meantime, there’s plenty else going on.  Like what? you ask.  Well, here you go.

INTERVIEWS

Two (very different) interviews out.  One with chick-lit superstar, Babe Walker, on the crazy popular White Girl Problems website.  I talk about having a hard on for my trainers, biodynamic iris facial cream (really!), and a getting forcibly fucked by Spartans.  There’s also an old (pre-porn, actually) but kind of fun photo of me posing Burt Lancaster style, naked with some books.  The other interview is on gay hookup paradise, Manhunt, and we talk about my book, the state of internet censorship, and the guys I most want to do scenes with (no surprise that Colby Jansen and Bravo Delta are on there).

The attitude that allows people to attack women in porn is the same attitude that kept women from getting degrees at Duke University until the late 19th Century.”  – I was also interviewed by maverick feminist site Jezebel for their article on media sensation Belle Knox, the out sex worker/porn star Duke University student. The article is pretty solid.

I appeared on two podcasts – gay radio comedy meltdown Feast of Fun – which was mostly about my essay in The Stranger, “What I Want To Know is Why You Hate Porn Stars.”  And I was on the Out of the Box podcast with comedian  Rosie Tran – we go allll over the place on that one: sex, social control, relationships, etc.  It’s good stuff, and Rosie was a lot of fun to talk with.

WRITING

My thoughts on ambition appear in Adult Magazine in their monthly advice round table.  I say a bunch of stuff about fairy tales and respond to Cord Jefferson, Emily Gould, and others.  It’s a fun quick read.

Salon.com reissued my essay, “Rest Stop Confidential,” which is about having sex at rest areas in the RestAreawoods/bathrooms.  It caused a little bit of a stir when it came out, and  it’s been making the round again.  Happily, American Conservative Magazine got its bloody hands on it and decided to publicly insult me, which I count as a sort of personal victory.  The essay also appears in Best Sex Writing 2013 (along with essays by Jonathan Lethem, Carol Queen and more), which you can purchase here.

My weekly sex and relationship advice column, Free Sex, on Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger‘s site, PattiKnows, is going strong.  Recent topics include: “Four Reasons Why You Should Have Sex Right Away“, and my favorite so far, “You Don’t Have To Be In A Relationship. (Ever.).”

APPEARANCES

I’ll be presenting at the Lambda Literary Awards on June 2nd in New York, along with AM Homes, Urvashi Vaid, Justin Hall, and more.  Very excited to be a part of the event, which is the largest LGBT literary event in the world.  Truly honored.  It’s open to the public – info and how to get tickets are all listed here.

HIRE ME

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CH

Censoring Sex

1 Apr

booksCensoring Sex Week 

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What To Do When Your School Cancels Your Sex-Related Event

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Corning, One Year Later

The Back Story

A year ago,  I was invited to speak at Corning Community College by EQUAL, the on-campus LGBTQI group, headed Brandon Griewank, a student at CCC .  The talk was part of the college’s Sex Week – which was meant to foster clear communication around and cultivate awareness about sex positivity and sexuality in students’ lives.  

A week before the talk the school’s president, Katherine Douglas, as well as other administrators decided to cancel the talk.  Why?  Because I’m a porn actor.  The thing is, she’d already signed off on the event.  The posters were made, and the ink was on the contract.  Here’s some info on all the amazing (and terrible) shit that happened, as well as some tips for students encountering similar problems setting up sex-related events for their schools.

The Hidden Back Story

It was actually much worse than a canceled talk. Students reported being intimidated by members of the administration, and were told not to contact the press.  Allegedly, Dean of Student Development, Don Heins, told Griewank that he wasn’t allowed to host the talk anywhere else in town, and even went to other venues to make sure they weren’t hosting it.  

“I hope you are grasping that this issue is bigger than you and bigger than EQUAL, right?” Heins reportedly said to students.  

This was the same person who had emailed Griewank just a few weeks earlier, “This line-up (of Sex Week) shows a lot of effort on your part to provide education to the students and the rest of the community.  Congratulations to you and the Equal membership for this work.”  But after the president had canceled the event, the tone had decidedly changed.

Brandon Giewank had an “absolutely intimidating conversation,” Griewank said. “He told me I wasn’t allowed to speak to the press, told me I wasn’t allowed to help Conner. He told me this in a closed room, there was no advisor to EQUAL there, and it wasn’t scheduled, so I had no time to prepare.”  Other students reported to me that Heins had had “diversity issues” in the past, particularly with LGBT students, and had complained about diversity training.

The Pressfunny

Of course, Griewank and I went to the press, and it became a national news story.  Buzzfeed was the first to report on it , and I wrote a follow-up to the article: an essay about how pornography often intertwines positively with the lives of LGBT people, particularly in small towns like Corning.

Soon, the story was all over the place.  The Huffington Post, the local papers, MSNBC, Inside Higher Ed, and more.  Here’s the story via Corning’s local NBC news station (This link is NSFW – it links to a porn blog, but that’s the only place the video is still up)

The Talk

Since the contract – along with my cancelation policy – was already signed, I received payment in the mail.  In a conversation with an administrator, it was clear that this was shutup money – as in, take the money and disappear.  (In a conversation with a student, Heins reportedly demanded to know: “Is (Conner) still coming to Corning? He would have no reason to come to Corning if not for the college’s money and we do not support that. Is he coming?’) 

I flew to Corning anyway. On the date the talk was scheduled, I presented it at the local library instead, to what was undoubtably a much larger crowd than would have shown for the original talk.  The audience was made up of students, parents, local residents, and professors,  I was told many faculty members were afraid to show up because of pressure from administrators.

We spent the evening talking to each other about pornography.  What were the audience member’s experiences with it?  What were their definitions, their questions and reservations about it?

The Fallout

When I got back, news of further intimidation and coercion by the administration began to filter in: First, a student who’d interviewed me for a campus publication emailed me, telling me: 

“Something is going on with the Administration, we aren’t even able to get an article out because even our  advisor, who was one of the biggest advocate for you, is now all hush hush and tight lipped about it all and the other members and I think the administration and the president may be responsible. I’m not even able to write anything up without getting in trouble.”

Then, even more troubling news:  Members of Equal told me they’d been targeted by a tenured professor in the Communications/Humanities department, Christine Atkins.  She was, they reported, hanging up flyers around campus defaming the student group.

Here are excerpts from the letter, entitled THE TRUTH ABOUT SEX WEEK (if you want the whole thing, you can enlarge the image):

Atkins“(EQUAL has) alienated an OPENLY LESBIAN FEMINIST FACULTY member (me) simply because she supported the president’s decision…My support of Dr. Douglas was based on my thoughts as a feminist and a woman…

(EQUAL has) ignored and silenced other gay voices, namely that of lesbian feminists, who since the Second-Wave of the Feminist Movement have argued that the pornography industry demeans women, men, and children and leads to rape and aggression, mostly against women and children.

…the origins of Sex Week, to my understanding, were about promoting healthy sexuality for all persons, whetehr gay, straight, bisexual, or other.  After weeks of thinking about the defintion of what ‘healthy sexuality’ actually is, I still find indefensible (as in…without a shadow of a doubt) the participation in an industry that degrades and dehumanizes individuals and is also part of a capitalistic system that oppresses and lulls the masses. – Dr. Christine E. Atkins (former Adviser to EQUAL)”

The letter was signed former adviser because the students in EQUAL had voted her out.

“EQUAL tried to schedule meetings to talk to her,” one of the students told me, “and our emails went unanswered for something like 14 days. When she did finally respond (regarding Sex Week and my event) she chose not to meet with us. It was then that EQUAL voted to remove her… partly for not having our back, partly because her schedule never permits her to be present at meetings and we worried she wasn’t fairly representing the views of the students, being that she was never present to HEAR the views of the students, and finally because she refused to MEET with us.”

The content of Christine Atkins’s letter is typical anti-sex rhetoric and anti-sex worker hate speech, masquerading as feminism.  There’s no real ideology behind it, and the arguments crumble under the slightest scrutiny (you can read my dismantling of some of these arguments here  and here).  And of course, plenty of women, including quite a few openly lesbian feminists, attended the talk.  The truly disturbing thing about the letter, is, as reported by the students, that a tenured professors was hanging up flyers that attacked students.  She also reportedly posted to similar comments to the EQUAL facebook page.

Even after the entire ordeal, LGBT students were allegedly being targeted and bullied by faculty.  “It was difficult walking around campus and having teachers that supported me for years distance themselves,” Griewank told me.  He said he and other EQUAL members felt isolated; not just by the administrators that opposed the talk, but by some who supported it but didn’t want negative attention drawn to themselves.

Thankfully it was late in the school year, and the members of EQUAL now felt more solidarity with each other than ever.  “When the community turned out to support the talk, we felt supported as students and felt solidarity as members of EQUAL.”  Classes were about to wind up into a flurry of finals and then wind down into graduation.  The flyers started to disappear, the advisers that did stand by the students were presented with Adviser of the Year awards by the Student Association.  Don Heins resigned (or was fired, it’s not totally clear).  People kept talking about the event, and Griewank and many other members of EQUAL matriculated.

The Problem

Why write about this now?SWUT

I left Corning feeling like the talk was one of the best things I’d ever done.  Not because I was feeling smug about my performance, but because I’d facilitated a discussion that was being strangled by people in power.  It’s one thing for people in power to not like sex positivity or pornography; it’s another thing all together for them to not allow any public discourse on it.  The students and community members turned out to disentangle those knots of silence.

Those knots are being retied and tightened all the time.  Schools have fought students’ rights to discuss pornography,  screen it for study, and to create sex positive events. In Knoxville just a few months ago, Representatives and Senators tried to draft bills to halt Sex Week at University of Tennessee, and in 2013, funding for the event was cut just days before it was set to start (it went on anyway with private funding and was a well-attended success).

The Advice

I talked to Brandon Giewank about his experiences with our event in Corning, wondering if he had any advice for student organizers. His tips were:

Know your mission statement:  “What kept driving me forward was that our intent was never to be controversial or to talk about sex just to be shocking,” he said, expressing the clarity of EQUAL’s intention for Sex Week.  “Know what your underlying message is, so you can respond when you meet resistance.” 

Reach out for off-campus support: During the controversy, Griewank also sought off-campus support, including the ACLU, who sent a letter to college administrators on behalf of EQUAL.  “When you’re going through something like that, you can feel like you’re in a bubble.  It’s really important to seek support outside the campus.”  Also, ““people on campus need a paycheck,” Griewank says.  It’s a reminder that off-campus help is important for expertise, but also because faculty and staff at the school may fear marginalization, particularly if the school is in a small community.

Leave a paper trail:  Griewank encouraged written exchanges between himself, other students, and administrators.  He also wrote down as much as he could remember about any conversations he had with Heins and the president.  His detailed records helped him secure assistance from the ACLU, and with statements he gave to the press.  They also protected him legally.

Don’t get into a clash of egos:  If a school cancels your sex-related event, “It’s not you against them, it’s a bigger issue.  That’s the same with any issue worth fighting for.”  This was important for me to remember as a speaker, too.  I was upset that people in power were denying students a chance to communicate about sex and pornography in a safe space, but publicly insulting the administration would have only drummed up sympathy for them.  The real issue – dismantling sex-negativity and creating a healthier sexual attitude in student communities, was more important.

It’s pretty obvious that college students are interested in sex and pornography.  What’s not so obvious is the forces that are lined up against discussion.  This is part of a larger problem in academia – that schools often refuse (either implicitly or through displays of power) to engage in students’ actual concerns or lives.  And when it comes to sex, it’s an even larger cultural issue.  Sex is supposed to somehow be separate from the rest of life.  But it’s not – it’s continuously woven into our thoughts, feelings, and actions.  Discussions about sex are urgently needed to heal the segregating wound constantly inflicted by people and institutions in power.  Sex needs to be incorporated back into the anatomy of everyday life.

If you’d like me to speak at your school or organization:

check out my lecturer fact sheet and contact me at connerhabib at gmail dot com.

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