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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.

***

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.

***

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.

***

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

***

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.

***

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.

I’m also happy to announce that I’ve signed on with the Campuspeak lecture agency for all US college/university speaking engagements!  Campuspeak is the country’s most respected lecture agency for university speakers.  I can’t tell you how excited I to join the team. To book me at any university/college in the US, click here.

If you want to bring me to your school outside the US 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

As always, if you’re interested in hiring me to speak at your event, organization, or school, please click here.  If you’d like help with your writing projects – including essays, fiction, screenplays, plays and more, click here.

More soon! Love,

CH

Censoring Sex

1 Apr

booksCensoring Sex Week 

or

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

or

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.

quickly, all the new stuff

19 Mar

bed

Life is good and busy and happy.  I’m working on a new essay for this blog – a one-year later follow up of the anti-sex/anti-porn/anti-freedom of speech move to block my lecture at Corning Community College in 2013.  A lot of bizarre/fascinating stuff happened after that talk to catch up on.

 

Until then, here’s some stuff you can check into.

WRITING

I’m the newest blogger for Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger!  In my colum, Free Sex with Conner Habib, I’ll be giving sex and relationship tips weekly.  I’ll also offer up some mini-sexual history lessons – it’s all on her site, PattiKnows.com.  My first entry is a foundational one:  “How To NOT Have Sex Like A Movie Star.”  The concept is pretty simple:  Contrary to the widely-held notion that sex should be totally immersed and connected, it’s okay to think during sex.  I’m excited to be working with Patti.  She’s got a much more mainstream take on sexuality than I do, but she’s the real deal.  Smart, no bullshit, and willing to have someone like me on her site to push boundaries and broaden readers’ horizons!

My essay in the “The Banal and the Profane” series from Lambda Literary was released last month.  It details a week in my life, day-by-day.  Rather than be like, “Um, I went to the store and the I watched TV and then I jerked off” or whatever, I decided to write little vignettes about everyday reading. Reading that isn’t considered reading.  There’s one little essay each about a parking ticket, the back of a condom wrapper, bathroom graffiti, twitter, the books under my bed, and a lit reading.  It was a fun assignment, and I’m happy to be involved with Lambda.

***

My essay, “What I Want To Know Is Why You Hate Porn Stars” is up on The Stranger.  This is my first long-form essay in awhile, and it covers a lot of ground.  It was very personal: about a boyfriend of mine who struggled with me being in porn, and it’s also cultural: it dissects all the unthinking arguments against pornography.  Specifically, it takes to task a lot of the “radical feminist” arguments against porn that are really just hate in disguise.

Here are a few excerpts:

At a restaurant in New York, there was a small opening for discussion, and Alex and I talked, just a little, about porn.

It just all seems to contradict, he said.

To him, me being in porn seemed out of place in the rest of my life. I’m a spiritual person and I went to grad school. I taught college English courses and studied science. The porn, for him, didn’t match up with all of that. I started to grow quiet. I didn’t like that I was growing quiet; after all, it was my big chance to talk about my job and my choices. But framed this way, in the form of contradictions, it didn’t seem right. “Contradictions” was a word that meant I’d already lost the battle.

It’s just so dark, he said. How do you know it’s not all just coming from a dark place?

I didn’t want to shut down, so I tried to answer in a sideways manner.

In an interview, religious scholar Huston Smith was talking about his teaching job. The interviewer asked Smith how he knew, when he taught his students about all the different religions, that he wasn’t emphasizing one religion’s virtues just a little more than the others, trying to indoctrinate them.

“Because my heart is pure!” Smith said.

Because my heart is pure, I told Alex. I wish you could just look inside and see that I was doing this because I want to, and that it doesn’t make me love you any less.

But I can’t, he said. I can’t see that.

He reached over and rubbed my shoulder. It must be hard for you to date anyone, he said.

I have rarely felt so alone as I did in that moment, sitting there in New York, with my boyfriend touching my shoulder.

*

In high school, when I was a kid, a friend asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.

A porn star, I said.

It was a funny, half-formed kid’s dream, but I meant it.

I’d seen porn, like most of the kids in my school at that point, and this was before the internet. Aside from the fact that the cool kids were talking about it, I wanted to do porn because it seemed like a no-brainer. People gave each other and themselves and the audience pleasure as their job? It was an amazing prospect. I wouldn’t have to be a banker or a stockbroker or whatever. I could be a porn star.

Well, have fun getting AIDS, he said. He meant it, too.

*

Patriarchy, you say first. (Don’t worry, I won’t get into all the facts about porn being the one place where women are paid at a consistently higher rate than men.)

Once, a woman online, a “radical” “feminist,” told me I was a rapist because I subjugated women. But I’m in gay porn, I said. No, no, you’re a rapist, she insisted. I looked at her website, which was dedicated to saying trans* women were not real women and that they’d infiltrated feminism by using deception.

When you hate us that much, you might notice: You hate other people, too.

When you hate us that much, you might notice: Even “rape” becomes a meaningless word.

***

PODCASTS

On Tangentially Speaking with Chris Ryan, author of Sex at Dawn – me and Sex At Dawn author Christopher Ryan had a long, fun conversation about the nature of reality, sex, technology, and more.  I’ve been on Chris’s podcast once before and we go all over the place.  He’s the best, and it’s a great listen to get a broader picture of both him and me.  Plus,  I think we make some dumb jokes.

meandEmily

On Sex with Emily with sexologist and Dr. Drew/Loveline cohost, Emily Morse – Emily and I are pals from a couple of yeas back and we talk a lot about blowjobs.  It’s, like, our thing.  We also talk about how I got into porn and whether or not men should powder their balls (sometimes, I say.)  It’s a good, fun conversation with lots of sex tips.

OTHER

My petition to fight censorship from Twitter on their Vine app is still going!  As soon as I get enough signatures (we’re almost there!), I’m going to figure out what the hell to do next.  I’ve never done this petition this before.  So click here to sign and we’ll fight the power together.

I appeared in über-hip/totally good-looking Swedish fashion magazine Bon to talk about the politics of nudity.  The print magazine is in English and Swedish; the website is only in Swedish.  But you can google translate and look around their fashionable landscape.

I recently spoke at University of Florida as part of their Sexxx Week.  If you’d like me to speak at your school or organization, click here for info.

I was featured in an article on Jezebel about Duke University student and porn star Belle Knox.  The article focuses on the archetype of the college girl in porn – how viewers love to watch, but when there’s an actual college student making porn in real life, people lose their shit.

Still working on my book, Remaking Sex, which will be out from Disinformation late 2014/early 2015.  It’s an expose on all our attitudes about sex, and tours through science, philosophy, politics, history, economics, and more.  The book works to overturn all our assumptions and ask questions we need to ask more often (Why do we cover our private parts? Why can’t I eat a sandwich at my office desk, but not jerk off?  Why are we ashamed of masturbation?).  And it’s got a few suggestions on how we can approach sex, as a culture, in a healthier and more peaceful way.

That’s all for now.  Love,

CH

Censored! (and how you can help!)

14 Mar

image Update 3/14/14: Since posting this, there’s been some new info on the Vine/Twitter censorship move – please see below the post for an update that makes the whole situation even worse.  

Dear everyone reading this.  Hi.  Here’s what’s on my mind:

Twitter recently announced its decision to ban all “adult” content on its popular Vine app.  That means thousands of accounts, including mine, are going to be suspended and/or deleted.  What’s Twitter’s reasoning behind the censorship?  They want users to “be comfortable.”

Call me crazy, but I’m not comfortable with censorship.  So I started a petition to fight this nonsense.

Rather than regale you with all my thoughts on why porn censorship is wrong in and of itself, as why it’s related to broader internet freedoms, here’s a link to my thoughts on the subject, in an essay I wrote for Vice called “Fap for Freedom.”

The ban, and my petition, are getting lots of media attention.

First, from an interviews me, Jiz Lee, and others had with the excellent EJ Dickson on The Daily Dot.  Here’s a quote from me in that article:   “When you’re a porn star, Vine is a great avenue to to present a fuller picture of your personality,” says Habib “For me, that was a huge value: I can show a porn post and I can show a little video of myself doing something dumb at the grocery store. It’s the idea that sex and sexuality aren’t divorced from all the other things I do in my life… and I think that’s part of the thing that’s so frustrating about this ban, that Vine is forcing those two things apart. And that’s essentially an ideological stance. It’s not about making users comfortable.”

Then on Nerve.com, which reminds us that: “Vine became just one of the many outlets that have taken an actively anti-porn stance in the last year.Tumblr’s crackdown on NSFW-friendly tags, Facebook’s arbitrary censorship of nudes, and the UK’s opt-in porn legislation all point to a larger trend of social venues being uncomfortable with acting as the gatekeepers of explicit content.”

Finally on (NSFW) Sex.com: “I understand that six seconds clips of boobs wasn’t what Twitter had in mind for Vine, but that doesn’t give them the right to restrict users. If you’re over 18, why shouldn’t you be able to see looping clips of your favorite porn stars or hot amateurs?”

Petitions can be a bit vexing for activists of all stripes – Why, when so many you know share your beliefs, is it so hard to gather signatures?

Still, the petition has picked up steam, and has almost 1500 signatures!  Now if only I could get each one of my 28,000 twitter followers to sign.

Anyway, it takes just a few seconds to click and sign the petition and draw a line in the sand against censorship.

And if you’re really feeling good about it, cut and paste the link and tweet/facebook/blog it out to your friends.

And if you’re a total freedom of speech saint, you can promote it by donating a few bucks via the change.com sidebar.

Whether or not the petition reverses Twitter’s decision, it will help create community awareness, send a strong message to Twitter to take more care in the future, and show anyone who is concerned with freedom of speech (and sex positivity) that he/she is not alone.

Thanks and Love,

CH

Below is the wording of the petition.  Click here to sign it.

Censorship affects all of us.

The important role of the Vine app – as a medium for users to freely express themselves – is under threat from a new policy.

As of March 6th, 2014, Vine, owned by Twitter, has decided to remove all content labeled “adult content” and to suspend or ban users creating any content labeled “adult.”  Vine’s stated reason for doing this is because they want users to “be comfortable.”

Many of us – as users of vine – do not participate in viewing or creating adult content, but we all recognize Vine as a place for freedom of expression.

We are disturbed by the precedent set on Vine for other applications and websites, including Twitter.  We are also disturbed that we are not allowed to choose what we view.

Vine’s perception of its users as a community that advocates censorship is wrong.  There is nothing comfortable to us about the slippery slope of censorship.

For these reasons, we demand full restoration of adult content on vine and a return to the adult content warning system previously in place.

UPDATE:

On 3/14/14, the DailyDot revealed that Twitter’s sudden decision to censor its Vine app was due to Vine’s inability to get rid of child pornography (most of which, the story implies, was made by teens themselves) on the app.  The long and short of it is this – Vine’s interface for flagging objectionable content- including child pornography – was terrible.  It was difficult for users to report child porn , and when the child pornography was found, Twitter panicked.   We should be even more outraged at the censorship now.  Not only was their stated purpose – to make users “more comfortable” – not true, they also infringed on freedom of speech to save their own skin.  Instead of spending money to overhaul how users report objectionable content, they instituted a broad ban of content.  This equates child pornography with consensual sex/pornography and tries to solve a wrong with a wrong.  Stepping on basic freedoms because you’ve not taken care to clean up your act is not acceptable.

2013/2014

7 Jan

NSV019_TheMix_ConnerHabib_affilVert_5Happy to be on this side of a new year in a new city with a life that also feels totally new.  Below is my review of 2013: things I did, things that happened, things I read/saw/listened to, people I fucked and more.   But before going back, go forward –  Here’s a little update on what’s coming this year:

My book, now (and I think permanently) titled How To Learn about Freedom by Having Sex will be out in Fall this year!  It’s due at the publisher (countercultural mavericks, Disinformation)  at the end of this month.  So I’m on it every day.  I’ll be publishing excerpts here throughout the year.

My first movie of 2014, The Mix is out from NakedSword this January.  You can click here, sign up and get the scene (NSFW!).  If you click through to NakedSword via my site, I get a little kickback money, always helpful.  Anyway, I got to play a snotty writer (jeez, thanks, guys) and then get fucked by Conner Maguire (pictured below right – THANKS GUYS) while I’m hanging upside-down from a tree branch.  It was a lot of fun.  It’s the only scene I have coming out for awhile as I finish up my book.  Then I’ll NSV019_TheMix_ConnorMaguire_affilVert_3be shooting again in March.  I’ll also be making my own porn this year, with help from a few of my friends.

The Conner Loves Everyone Podcast is coming – I’m hashing out the details.  Basically it’s me, a co-host (TBA), and conversations with guests from the margins of culture.  If you have any suggestions, now’s a good time to let me know; I’m in the formative stages.  It’ll be up and running mid-2014.

I’m giving lectures around the country and will list the dates here as they come.  If you’d like me to speak at your school or organization, reach out via the info here and we’ll discuss the details.  You can also always hire me as a writing coach to help with projects.  I promise it’ll be more exciting, less expensive, and ultimately less soul-destroying than getting an MFA.

My new web series is also in the works – if it’s not distributed via Logo/NewNowNext like my last one, it’ll be up one way or another in the next few months.

I’m also dedicating more time to the blog, so you can expect at least two entries a month.  Thanks for sitting with me.

2013 Year in Review

 This post is intended to give people who are new to me a way to get acquainted, and for those who’ve been hanging with me for awhile to go deeper or check out some of the stuff that was on my mind last year.  Feel free to tell me about your year in the comments: your favorites and what you loved (and who), what you’re looking forward to, what you checked out from my lists/what you think I should check out.

LIFE

2013 was the year that marked a slow fade from being a porn star/writer to being a public intellectual.  I know that all might sound pretentious, but I’m not sure what else to call it.  I made less movies, I wrote more, I had more published, I did more media and lecture appearances. That old model of someone in the public eye who does real scholarly and thoughtful work and interacts with cultural currents is coming back (largely because of social media) and I’m happy to be a part of it, and so thankful that you’re reading this/interacting with me on twitter, listening and getting into it with me when needed.

mejustinLast year, I broke up with a boyfriend (we’re still friends, he’s awesome), I taught online courses on Sexual Revolution and Anthroposophy, I gave lectures at a bunch of schools and organizations (the Museum of Modern Art in New York – at their PS1 Dome, at Amherst College, and at the William Way LGBT Center in Philadelphia among many others). My talk at Corning Community College in New York was canceled because of sex- and porn-negativity, and it ended up being a national news story (I gave the talk anyway, and I’ll revisit the whole thing and discuss the aftermath in a one-year-later entry this March).  My NewNowNext show went on hiatus, so I left you to sexually fend for yourselves (I’m sure you’re all doing fine).  It’s archived though, including my episodes on how to top and how to kiss, in which me and my buddy Justin go at it.  Also on hiatus is my NSFW website, ConnerHabib.com – I’m reworking it to better suit everything I’m up to; so it won’t exclusively be a porn site anymore and will largely be safe for work (with links to NSFW stuff).  Or at least as safe for work as someone like me can ever manage to be.  Right now, there’s a picture of me in my undies and a redirect to here.

I moved to a new city, just as San Francisco slipped into a trend of tech-hipster-ornamentalist-conservatism (I can explain what that JDmeans someday, just let it slide).  One of the signals that it was time to leave SF was the nudity ban imposed by gay District 8 supervisor Scott Wiener.  So ofcourse, to express my irritation, I conceived of and wrote a porn series with my friends at NakedSword (NSFW) called The Cover Up about a self-loathing San Francisco supervisor named Scott Cox who hypocritically has sex with nude protestors.  It was publicized all over the country (here’s an article in the Huffington Post about it), even though the porn itself ended up being a bit clumsy and silly.  Still, the sex is, well, sexy, and I had a lot of fun with it.  Now I’m in LA.  You can’t be naked here, either, but you can certainly wear less clothing year round.  My friends have been calling me from the East Coast, telling me they’re in something called Snowpacalypse or Snowmageddon or Snownarok or Snow, uh, whatever.  Anyway, usually when they call I’m sitting under a fig tree or watching hummingbirds or something.

WORDS

I published a lot of work in 2013, so I can’t list everything here (although I’ll be creating a bibliography/CV page with everything I’ve published for this site soon).  Here are some of the highlights:

wilfredMy most read essay of the year appeared on this blog.  I wrote  “Why Do Gay Porn Stars Kill Themselves?”  shortly after Arpad Miklos and porn director John Bruno committed suicide.  Then, just after I finished writing it, another porn star, Wilfred Knight (pictured left), took his own life.  It was a rough time for everyone in gay porn, and the questions that were aimed at us didn’t make it any easier.  Often they were callous or based on a sort of urgent ignorance.  So the essay was a rebuke to anyone who would even ask the question posed by the title.  The essay also serves as a quick primer on how to make our experience creating, starring in, and watching porn healthier.

Also appearing on my blog in 2013: the final installment in my “Guys I Wanted To Fuck in High School” series – about the boy I fell in love with my senior year.

I wrote a few pieces for Buzzfeed’s LGBT section, including one about my porn name vs my birth name (Andre Khalil), and the difficulty in maintining a balance between the two.  I also wrote about the meeting point of fantasy and reality in porn, and how the distinctions between the two may be to simplistic.   I started an online column – Profanity! – at Vice, and wrote about how masturbation and internet freedom are intertwined, and about a forgotten occult science, among other things.  I also wrote critical essays  to respond to the film Lovelace, in praise of the novel Me and Mr. Booker by Cory Taylor, to facilitate examination of gay hookup apps, and to condemn writer Alain de Botton’s terrible book on sex.

My essay on my mentor, Lynn Margulis – “As Above, So Below” - was reprinted in the excellent collection, Lynn Margulis: The Life and Legacy of a Scientific Rebel.  The book is edited by her son from her marriage to Carl Sagan, Dorion.  Dorion’s a thoughtful editor, and most of the other contributors are big time scientists.  It was a huge honor to be a part of this act of love, reverence, and grieving for Lynn.  My other anthologized essay last year was “Rest Area Confidential” – my thoughts on sex at rest stops, which originally appeared on Salon.com and was featured in Best Sex Writing 2013.

SEX

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2013 began slowly as far as my movie releases, but ended with a flurry of them.  My favorites were directed by porn maverick Joe Gage.  If you don’t know much about Joe, here’s an interview with him in BUTT Magazine.  His movies are all about the set-up and the tension, two aspects of pornography undervalued by many other directors.  That focus always makes for a fun shoot: lots of dialogue, lots of eye contact.  Joe directed me in scenes with Adam Russo and Colby White for Titan Men (NSFW).  In the scene with Adam,  we’re dressed in tuxedos, talking about sex with each other’s siblings (who are celebrating their wedding to each other in the next room).  It’s typically fucked up, but in a gratifyingly sexual and well-paced way.

AFP3

My favorite movie to be in was Joe’s Armed Forces Physical.  I have two scenes in the movie, both threesome, both sort of ridiculous, both with men I was really attracted to.  One of the scenes is with performer Andrew Justice (pic of me star-struckedly fixing his collar on the right). I’ve had a huge crush on Andrew from afar for years.  Joe overheard me pining for him one day and so surprised me by putting us in a scene together.  The scene itself isn’t all kisses and hugs, but hanging out with Andrew over the weekend in the woods where we shot was.  A highlight of my career.  You can access Armed Forces Physical by signing up on the NakedSword supersite.

BOOKS

I never like “best of” lists for books, because every book is new every year.  If you’ve never heard of it, and you read and love it, it will have the immediacy of its release date.  So, many of the books here aren’t new.  But they’re new to me and I loved them.  Because I was researching for my own book, I read more on sex in 2013 than I had all together up until then.  Some of the books I really loved included: Roger Lancaster’s biting and engaging Sex Panic and the Punitive State, which explores when, where, and why panics about sex kick up in Western culture.  Relatedly, Judith Levine’s Harmful to Minors and Sinikka Elliot’s Not My Child both detail the general sex panic surrounding adolescent sexuality; Susan Clancy shows how moral furor can damage the lives of children who have been sexually abused in The Trauma Mythand Lawrence Wright focuses in on problems with memory retrieval in his  gripping narrative of a Satanic ritual abuse panic in Remembering Satan: A Tragic Case of Recovered Memory.  I reread Adam Phillips’s masterpiece, Monogamy, a series of vignettes on the problem and solution of monogamy in our culture.; every sentence is loaded with radical and profound though.

GUTGGiving up the Ghost: A Story of Friendship, 80s Rock, A Lost Scrap of Paper, and What It Means To Be Haunted by Eric Nuzum was deeply moving to me.  Nuzman, who grew up in Ohio, seemed to be describing my own struggle through teenagedom, with all its tragic missteps and supernatural pulses.  Really beautiful.  Also entertaining and paranormal was Occult America: White House Seances, Ouija Circles, Masons, and the Secret Mystic History of Our Nation by Mitch Horowitz.  The book is a catalog of the religious movements that shaped our nation.  Some have obvious occult dimensions, others are more subtle; for many readers, the movements detailed will be new (some were for me, even though I’m well-versed in all that esoteric stuff).  I also absolutely loved The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career of Ed and Lorainne Warren by Gerald Brittle.  I listened to it as an audiobook after my interest in the Warrens was rekindled by the movie The Conjuring.  It’s terrifying and fascinating, wherever you stand on occult matters. It was my favorite book this year, and I plan to read it again.

I read lots of fiction last year, but was curiously unmoved by much of it.  That said, there were a some stunning exceptions.  Along with, like, everyone else in the fiction-reading world, I was blown away by many of the stories in Karen Russell’s new collection, Vampires in the Lemon Grove.  “Proving Up” and “Reeling for the Empire” were both terrifying and sat nestled amongst lighter, friendlier stories in this bizarre collection.  Buy it at least to read those two superb stories, which will stay with you for a long, long time.  I also really enjoyed a lot of Joyce Carol Oates stories, if not an entire collection.  My favorite was “Strip Poker,” which is about as sinister and tense as it gets.  Finally, my friend Jake Shears got me to buy one of the bleakest, most brutal books I’ve ever read, Donald Ray Pollack’s The Devil All the Time.  Serial killers, spiders, dead animals, murderous cops, darkened landscapes.  I still feel as if I owe Jake a thank you and that he owes me an apology.  Read it and laugh and then get a sick feeling in your gut and tremble.

SOUNDS

I didn’t make any of my own music outside of the shower last year, but I listened to so much.  Most of the highpoints were the discoveries of new artists or particular songs rather than albums.  That’s how things are going, I suppose; an album takes up too much mental space – we’re focusing, singing along, and thrilling to a new song and a new feeling.  An album is a landscape, a song is an evening.

Some new bands I fell in love with in the past year:  Gang of Youths from Australia – particularly their Walkmen-esque “Sudden Light”.  X Ambassadors, with their weird combination of crooning and clattering drums – here’s their single, “Unconsolable.”  Sures, also from Australia, and their echoing, progressively loud single, “Waste.”  Mariam the Believer from the band Wildbirds & Peacedrums went solo; her voice is haunting and combines strangely timed beats with a new age sensibility.  Bizarre witch music.  Here’s her video for “Invisible Giving.”

JebBands that have been around for a bit but made me happy, sad, tap my foot, close my eyes and wish I had a different life as a musician:  My friends the Dismemberment Plan reunited to release Uncanny Valley, a surprisingly warm album with music that’s not afraid to be happy and loving.  The opener, “No One’s Saying Nothing” is a favorite.  The Plan was also my favorite live show of the year.  They’ve lost none of their frenetic, crazy energy on the stage.  Natalia Kills’s album Trouble is witty, sad, catchy.  Her song “Saturday Night” was a favorite of mine last year.  My favorite electronic-meets-analog artist, Tim Fitz, released a new EP called UnsceneYou can download most of his music for free on band camp.  Panic! At the Disco continued to evolve, get better, catchier, more fun, more sing-along-able.  They incorporated some Cut Copy feel into their work and released Too Young To Live, Too Rare To Dieone of my very favorite songs “Girls/Girls/Boys” is here.  My best friend, Jeb Havens (picture right) released a whole bunch of covers last year – recording mostly in his closet while he slowly became one of the best-regarded and most-listened to signer songwriters in San Francisco.  Here’s his cover of Lady Gaga’s “I Wanna Be with You” (which eventually became “Dope”)

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I feel my teenage punk rock self cringe a little when I admit that the music event of the year for me was not remotely underground or unknown.  Instead, it was the release of ArtPop by Lady Gaga. I don’t need to write much about it.  You’ve probably already drawn your lines and picked your sides with her (Though how anyone could fail to love an album with the lyrics “Aphrodite lady/sea shell bikini” in one of the singles is beyond me.)  I’ll just say, to explain this polarization, that ArtPop reveals Gaga’s biggest moment in the public eye was the only moment out of sync with the rest of her career.  The straight-ahead pop of Born This Way (and to a much lesser extent, Fame Monster) never gave people an idea of just how completely bizarre she was – meat dresses notwithstanding.  It’s not a farce.  I saw Lady Gaga play many times before “Just Dance” came out; at drag shows, in hotel lobbies, and more.  It was her, two wiry back up dancer girls, some duct tape, and a mask.  It was strange and out of place.  When she was working her way up to being famous, it was completely new and exciting.  Then she got famous, and people lumped her in with other pop divas like Katy Perry or whatever.  It’s a misunderstanding that ArtPop displaces.  Many people aren’t ready for it; the whole album is like a signal sent backward through time.  A crazy blend of Sun Ra, Arabic music, industrial, hip hop, Dub, 1970s pop, and top 40, ArtPop is amazing if you let it in.  Here’s the mindbending iTunes concert that puts many of the songs on display.

FILM

SB

Movies, movies, movies.  I saw over a hundred movies last year.  I have no idea where I got all that time.  As per custom, I’ll list my favorite that were released in 2013.  Spring Breakers and The Great Beauty seem like unlikely bedfellows.  The former is the melodramatic, loud, absurd depiction of a pretty girls wallowing in sex, drugs, guns, and freedom (plus, a corn-rowed James Franco).  The latter is a breathtaking and heartfelt look at how to live and love; often compared (too easily, I believe) to Fellini.  But both movies are movies made by editing – a trend not started by, but given permission to flourish by, Terrence Mallick’s Tree of Life in 2012.  Both Spring Breakers and The Great Beauty work to engage through a collection of images, sounds, bursts of feeling.  They’re the sorts of movie that would have been almost incomprehensible to TGBviewers before the age of the internet.  The world had to be made ready for both films.  They’re both excellent and both depend on, for some of the grandeur, being seen on a big screen.  If there’s no possibility of that, just download/stream them.  But if they show up in a theater near you, go, go, go.

I also loved Jagten (The Hunt)  which is all about the sort of sex panics described in some of the books I mentioned above.  A small town school teacher is accused of abusing one of the kids at his school, the town goes apeshit, the movie gets under your skin.  Passion by Brian De Palma wasn’t the greatest movie, but it was a whole lot of fun.  It’s a late 1980s-style film about women grasping for power in the workplace.  Watch it and let me know if you start pressing your finger to your friends’ foreheads when you insult them.  You’ll see what I mean after you watch it.  Last but not least was the Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Hope.  The movie is one of three in Seidl’s series; which can be watched out of order, thankfully, because it was the only one playing near me.  It’s about girls at fat camp, and it’s an oddly flat movie.  There’s nothing dizzyingly high or low about the film.  It takes its time, and evokes life perfectly.

All right that’s it for now.  Stop.  Forward again. See you soon.  Love.

UPDATES (or: I Moved To LA and You’re Going To Come See Me, Yes? Yes.)

7 Nov

standingtallHello!  I moved to Los Angeles, which is about the best thing ever.  Today I sat under a lime tree and had coffee outside.  It’s November, folks!  Anyway, the reason why I moved here was to amplify my career, to spend time with my amazing LA friends, and to wear shorts.  I love wearing shorts.  

I’ll be writing an original essay – about porn – for this site soon, but along with everything else I’m up to, I’m finishing up my first book (a manifesto about sex and culture) tentatively titled The Sex We’ve Never Had: How to Make the World Better for Touchy Subjects which will be published by Disinformation in 2014.  Look for excerpts here in the future.

Below are some upcoming Habib events, some new writing, and more.  If you want me to do an event where you live, you can always hire me to speak at your school/organization.  (You can also hire me as a writing coach/script doctor.)

UPCOMING EVENTS:

NOVEMBER 21

Risk! at the Nerdmelt Theater in La, with Jake Fogelnest, Julie Brister and more!

Risk! is a storytelling founded by Kevin Allison, best known as a cast member of the MTV sketch comedy show, The State.  Basically, I get up on stage and tell a story that’s a little scary for me to tell.  Then the other people do the same.  It’s live entertainment and it’s at the theater that Nerdist.com set up and it’s with a bunch of people way more famous than me, and I’m scared.  And also really really excited.  This is a first for me – even though I’ve given plenty of talks, and had people jizz in my eye on camera, storytelling is a whole different animal.  So come by for a Habib first, hang out, and we can share stories afterward.

November 9

Bentcon – The Queer Comics Con

Yes, I will be totally nerding out and speaking at a comic con – The GAYEST comic con there is.  I’ll be hanging around the whole weekend amidst the spandexed bulges, writing a story about the gays and superheroes for Vice.  But my actual events will be a panels on Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday – 4:00PM  “The Importance of Gay Sex in Fiction” – Talking with the other panelists and the audience about, you know, fucking.  But fictional fucking.  How to write about sex, how much to put in (har har) your work, how to not go over the top or make it corny (and how TO make it corny as well, I suppose).   Sunday – 4:00PM “Heroes: Just Like You” – Talking about my heroes and (God forbid) how I might be a role model for LGBT people.  My partner in crime Chris Donaghue (host of Logo TV’s Bad Sex) will also be on this panel!  Hurrah.  Whoever’s wearing the cutest Thor helmet gets a kiss.

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NEW WRITING

I write a weekly column for Vice Magazine! Hurray!  My column, “Profanity!” appears just about every week (or about three times a month).  This is a huge development for me – Vice is truly cutting edge and reports from the margins of society.  They also have an excellent HBO series.  The column focuses mostly on occult/spiritual stuff and sex stuff, sometimes they overlap, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes I just go way off topic and write about whatever.  Anyway, happy to be there.

Three essays up as of this post:

Kirk Cameron Wrote the Bible”  In which I attend a screening of Kirk Cameron’s latest crazy Christian fundamentalist movie, Unstoppable.

Unstoppable isn’t a grappling with theological questions, the work of a wistfully faithful person, or a personal journey. As I’m sure you have already guessed, it’s not the work of thoughtful biblical scholarship either. Unstoppable is the full-frontal display of an egomaniac who has somehow found his way into a position of power.”

Fap for Freedom” In which I examine the explosion of media stories focusing on masturbation, and what all this new jerk-off attention means.

““This is your brain on porn” pseudoscience has left behind the old and mostly-discredited arguments of “objectification” and emphasized the problem with masturbation itself.  These neurofundamentalists tell us that science has proven masturbating to internet porn is physiologically addictive and can erode relationships.  Of course, one cursory scientific look into the data of these studies, or a critical eye toward their conclusions and the claims fall apart.”

The Un-Science of Radionics” In which I explore a forgotten occult technology that blends art with science.  And also talk about my younger self, wanking it.

“To get a handle on a controversial, discredited, and generally bizarre medical technology called radionics, here’s a story about me as a horny teenager. As a kid, I’d look up sexual words in the dictionary, creating pathetic versions of pornography for myself. The words turned me on, even the medical/sterile ones like “penis.”  The problem was I wanted more than what was on hand in most dictionaries, which were not cool enough to keep curse words as entries.  So sometimes I’d just repeat sexual words out loud, over and over again. “Dick,” I’d say. “Dick, dick, dick.” Eventually I’d work myself up enough to masturbate, and everything would be okay until my next foray into the reference section.”

***

NEW MEDIA

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There’s an interview with me about condoms and testing in porn, what turns me on, and whether or not I think of myself as a slut over

on the Slutist blog.

I got a shout out on superstar dating/relationship maven Patti Stanger’s blog – where sexpert Emily Morse recounts my tips on how to give a good blowjob.On Vice’s technology site, Motherboard, I’m featured in an essay about porn stars who think about and mess with the occult by occult/techno scribe Jason Louv.

On the more explicitly NSFW front, I have two new scenes out – one with Brock Avery for Cocksuremen.com and another with Dario Beck in the Titan movie, Resort.

Help Me Change the World or Whatever

I’m still looking for an intern and web designer.  The last round of applicants were amazing people, but I decided that I need to have someone close to me – so if you’re in the LA area (or close enough that you can meet with me in person occasionally), here’s your chance to be part of the whole Conner Habib mission.  Looking for someone who’s into what I’m up to – that’s the biggest requirement.  I won’t be paying initially, but am happy to provide college credit for independent studies, and to ask you what your goals are and help you along.  I’m also willing to trade writing coaching.  There are lots of details to go over – If you’re interested, send me a quick note via connerhabibsocial at g mail dot com.

New everything.

1 Aug

I’m not sure if I’m manic or whatever, but as I set out to write this update, I realized, wow, I’ve been doing a whole lot of stuff.  That means next time you see me, I welcome butt rubs and loving kisses on the top of my head and also hugs.  Below is a sampling of all the stuff I’ve been doing since my last blog update.  On top of all this, you can always hire me for lectures or writing coaching.  Check back here soon for a complete bibliography and curriculum vitae for my lectures.

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NEW COURSE

Introduction to Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy

On August 22nd (the day before my birthday!), I’m teaching a one-shot course, introducing people to the ideas and work of the late 19th-early 20th century mystic, scientist, philosopher, and artist, Rudolf Steiner.  Steiner’s worldview, anthroposophy, is connected to the Western esoteric tradition, and deeply informs everything I do.  When you sign up, you’ll get to hang out with me for awhile, do some exercises, learn, and then interact with me – it’s really the next best thing to being in the room.  Click here for more info and to sign up!

I just completed my last online course, “How To Start A Sexual Revolution” and it was a huge success – Along with Samuel Delany, Duncan Trussell, Buck Angel, and Tristan Taromino, we discussed sex, culture, spirituality and art, and answered participant questions.

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NEW WRITING

“What’s in a (Porn) Name?” on buzzfeed.com

(on my birth name, my porn name, and discrimination against porn performers)

“Because sex is so compartmentalized — it’s often considered separate from the rest of life and hidden away — porn performers, who have sex publicly, are in a unique position to consider and talk about integrating private and public aspects of life. Of course, compartmentalizing different aspects of our lives has become more and more of a problem for everyone, not just porn performers. Potential employers investigate drunken Facebook photos, and there’s a pervading anxiety of making a public and YouTube-able misstep or off-colored comment.”  Read more

“You’ve Got To Make Them Feel It” on buzzfeed.com

(on what’s “real” and what’s “fantasy” in porn, what it’s like to be on the set)

“The lights are always on, above you and below you, held underneath your balls and on your face. You’re supposed to be aware of the cameras, without looking into them. People shout instructions: Slow down. Stop. Start. Speed up. Move your hand, it’s casting a shadow, and keep going, keep going, even if it’s uncomfortable. There are times when you’re bottoming while balancing on a parked motorcycle or standing between two guys on a ladder or giving a blow job while doing a handstand (really!). You fuck, you get fucked, you take a minute while the crew re-rigs the lights, and you eat a banana to keep your blood sugar leveled. Sometimes you’ll go for two hours, sometimes you’ll go for twelve.  So it’s work, and it’s staged. But it’s also fun and sexual.”  Read more

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“Facing the Torsos” on TheStranger.com

(on phone hookup apps, the future of pornography)

“With apps, we create living pornography on the spot; they embody exhibitionism and voyeurism par excellence. They’reportable, they’re accessible when we want them to be (in your office! In the Starbucks bathroom!), they’re not one-way like much live cam porn, they’re not expensive, and everyone who signs up is agreeing to the same basic premises.” Read more

***

NEW MEDIA

Podcasts:

I’ve been on a few podcasts and have made some other appearances recently – perhaps most noticeably on Sex at Dawn author Christopher Ryan’s podcast, Tangetially Speaking.  We talked about science, sex, evolution, revolution, and more.  We went really really deep – perhaps deeper than I ever have on a podcast before.

I’ve also appeared on mystic and media and technology analyst Erik Davis’s podcast, Expanding Mind, and thoughtful, poltical-themed podcast The David Seaman Hour.

speedwell

Music:

Did you know that when I was a kid, I started and ran my own record label (sport.records, and Sell-Out records)?  I also set up punk shows for years in my little PA town.  One of the bands I put out music by, Speedwell, is having all their stuff re-released by Coolidge records, and you can download it at bandcamp.  It’s very good late 1990s post-punk stuff, and the singer, Meredith Bragg, went on to become a bit of an emo sensation.  To the left is the cover of the Speedwell single I released.

Publications:

I got two fun shout-outs from New York Magazine‘s website, The Cut – Once when they asked me about the rise of “daddies” as a gay identifier, and another time when they wrote about Anthony Weiner and sexting.

I was also recently interviewed by German-language newspaper, Taz.die Tageszeuitung. It’s in German, but you can also do google translate for a more hilarious version.

Movies:

I’ve had a few porn scenes come out from Titan (NSFW), and I’ve filmed a few scenes as well.  Most notably, I shot for legendary director, Joe Gage (NSFW).  I have two scenes and lots of dialogue in the movie.  Dialogue in most porn films is sort of a throwaway.  But in a Joe Gage film, much of the eroticism lies in the set up, so it’s always good.  While shooting, I took tons of behind-the-scenes photos and mini-videos via the Vine app.  Most of them are  collected here on Queer Me Now (NSFW).

I also just finished filming my section in a documentary called Straight Guys, which is about gay for pay performers.  Perish the thought that I’m gay for pay, but I have worked with a lot of straight-identified men in gay porn, and have written about it here and here.  There’s a quick write up on my appearance here. Below is me and the filmmaker.

daniel-conner-wp-1

Other:

My little vine (which can be found on vine under Conner Habib or here (NSFW)) was just named “The Best of Vine Porn” by Salon.com! Huge honor.  Sometimes I vine porn, sometimes I just goof off.  So if you like alternating pornography with sheer silliness, there you go.

My NewNowNext.com show, Ask the Sexpert, is off for the Summer!  I’ll be back in the Fall to answer your questions.  The last episode on the season – about how to stay hard while you’re topping – is right here for your viewing pleasure.

I’m looking for an intern and a web designer, hopefully both can be the same person – but welcome inquiries in either one as well.  Someone who’s into what I’m up to is the biggest requirement.  Preferably you’d be located in San Francisco or Los Angeles.  I won’t be paying initially, but am happy to provide college credit for independent studies, and to ask you what your goals are and help you along.  I’m also willing to trade writing coaching.  There are lots of details to go over – If you’re interested, send me a quick note via connerhabibsocial at g mail dot com.

fuck freedom.

4 Jun

my first online course

How To Start A (Sexual) Revolution

Taught by Conner Habib, featuring Samuel Delany, Duncan Trussell, Buck Angel and Tristan Taormino!

June 19th, 26th, and July 3rd

brought to you by Evolver and The Center for Sex and Culture

HTSASR

So excited to offer my first online course via Evolver Learning Labs, and to be joined by such amazing guests speakers – and we’re talking about sexual revolution; investigating how sex and new perspectives on it can help create a better world!  Each episode features a live video and audio session, where you’ll get to interact with me and the guests – You’ll also get sex-related exercises between episodes (it’s not homework, if it’s about sex, right?) and unlimited access to recordings of the course afterward.  If you sign up before June 7th, you get 10 bucks off the already super cheap price of 50.00.  This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity; all you need is a computer (which you have if you’re reading this) and an interest in sex (which you have if you’re human)!  To sign up and for more information, follow the link.

Session by session:

First Session – Samuel Delany

Our first session will explore the furthest reaches of the sexual imagination with iconic and visionary author, Samuel Delany.

Samuel Delany is the considered by many to be one of the most important writers of our time, and is the author of nearly fifty books, including science fiction novels (Dhalgren; Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand), memoir (The Motion of Light in Water; Heavenly Breakfast) and social criticism (Times Square Red, Times Square Blue).
 
Delany’s writing investigates lust and desire, and the sexually explicit nature of our imaginations.  Because of this, his work has frequently been banned and scrutinized by lawmakers.  Taking no boundary or concept for granted, we’ll discuss what it means to  incorporate sex into creativity, how to confront societal norms around sex and art, and the power that comes from understanding transgression.
*
 
Second Session – Duncan Trussell

Duncan Trussell is a stand-up comedian, mystic, and host of the wildly popular podcast, The Duncan Trussell Family Hour.  He’s also a regular guest on the Joe Rogan Experience, and has appeared on Drunk Historyand Mad TV.  Each week on his podcast, Duncan explores the spiritual, political, and social landscape blending humor with deep thinking.

 
In our second session, we’ll explore the everyday nature of sexuality and openness, sexual feelings of longing and anxiety, and how humor intersects with the sex in our lives.  We’ll also look at the intersection of sex and spirituality – both taboo subjects in polite conversation – and how radical openness and honesty can create change in ourselves, invite others into new types of conversation about the sexual experience, and inspire new perspectives on the intertwining of sex and spirit.
*
 
Third Session – Buck Angel and Tristan Taormino

For our third session, Conner will be joined by Buck Angel and Tristan Taormino to talk about sexual activism, sexual identity, and sexual images.

 
Buck Angel is a filmmaker and educator, as well as an adult film star and transgender activist.  His popular culture appearances include The Howard Stern ShowMuch MusicThe Tyra Banks Show and more.  His critically-acclaimed documentary, Sexing the Transman, explores the lives of FTM men and was featured at festivals worldwide.
 
Tristan Taormino is an author, pornographer, and feminist.  She’s the author and editor of many sex-related books, including the recently-released Feminist Porn Book (which features an essay by Buck Angel) andA Girl’s Guide To Taking Over the World.  Her internationally-acclaimed radio show, Sex Out Loud explores the intersections of sex and culture.
 
Together with Buck and Tristan, we’ll undo the cultural programming of sexual identity politics, and work towards creating our own sexual identities.  We’ll examine how sexual imagery and pornography can be a healing force for many marginalized communities and how the can enhance rather than hinder our sexual lives and imaginations.  We’ll end by discussing on-the-ground ideas for activism against sexual repression and for sexual – and ultimately cultural – freedom
 
Special thanks to the amazing Center for Sex and Culture for their support!
 

Guys I Wanted To Fuck In High School, Part 4. (Senior Year)

19 May

soccershirt

 

Guys I Wanted To Fuck in High School is a series of short essays about growing up  frustrated in small-town Pennsylvania.  (This is the last entry in the series, and will be followed up later this year with a series of limited edition print chapbooks, each with a different cover by a different artist.)

Senior year is the year time gets all fucked up and also the year I fall in love and I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

See because at the end of this year, summer won’t be summer anymore, it won’t be a break between school and school, like the place you go after you die but before you’re kicked back into life.  It won’t be a way station, it’ll just be hot and hotter and then collapse into red leaves and puffs of breath you can see and everyone will say, hey, it’s Autumn now.

And morning won’t be morning, no rushing to get ready, to hurry through the park, across the bridge, up the hill to the school, where the kids congregate and tease each other and tease me and hide their cigarettes till the doors open and swallow us all up.  I’ve known most of those kids since I was four or five, and they’ll all be gone and morning will just be the time when I wake up.

And I won’t be me, I’ll be this person with a mark, an empty little square of loss inside of me that never gets filled in.  That’s love.  Everything will change.

Which is how I know that almost everything I thought was real is arbitrary.  I figured out some of this early on – like why do we have to raise our hands to go to the bathroom?  What’s a “grade” and why should I care? Why do we have to raise our hand to ask a question?  Or sharpen our pencils?  When you see through all that haze and there’s nothing behind it, the teachers don’t like you much.  But now I’m starting to see that even more of it makes no sense, it’s all like a tight coil, unraveling.  You know, like how you twist up a straw wrapper and then let a drop of water fall onto it?  That’s what this year is like, what the right questions are like, what love is like.  A knot turning into a snake, slowly coming to life.

*

His name is Thom and he spells it it with the h and he’s new.  He has a vaguely Canadian accent, like he transferred here from a high school on a Nickelodeon show.

In the cafeteria, a few weeks into the year, he’s standing there lost and unfamiliar to everyone, with his pale blue lunch tray.  There’s an empty seat at out table, where I sit with Becky and Gwen and some boys, and I wave him over.

He’s taller than anyone else at the school, I swear – six two? six three? – so it seems like it takes longer for him to sit down, to bring his body into the seat.  When he gets there, I really see him.  He has brown hair and plain, unintentional clothes.  His face is sort of…sad?  Like he’s a little tired.  Sad and handsome.  And you know? I’m not excited about him right away.  I think he’s handsome, but it’s not love at first sight.  It takes a few minutes.

He looks at my lunch – I’m mostly vegetarian so I don’t eat much except the Tasty Klair pies, which are like eclairs but made out of pie crust.  I bite off the ends and shove Cheetos in the custard.  I drink ice tea from a carton.

We don’t eat anything that has a face, Gwen says to him.  Except chickens, because they’re ugly.

What year are you, I ask.

Senior, he says.

But you’re not in any of my classes.

That’s because I’m in with the dumb kids, he says.

You’re not dumb, I say.  Or at least, you’re different.  I can tell.

How? he asks.

There’s just something about you, I say.

Thanks, he says, and then touches my shoulder, just for a second.  His eyes are green or blue; lake-like.   He smiles, and he has a smile that makes me smile too.  And that’s when I fall in in love.  Not quite first sight, but only a little late.

*

I walk Gwen home that day – it’s out of the way, but I want to talk with her.  She’s been one of my best friends since this whole school business began twelve years ago.  If anyone knows I like guys for sure, it’s her, even though we haven’t talked about it.  You can’t just say it, because even if everyone already knows, once you say it, they’ll feel different.  No matter what you do, they’ll never forget that distance between you.

It’s just like how I know better than Gwen does that she’s a lesbian, but she’s never told me.  How did we find each other all those years ago and become friends before we knew?  See?  Time.  It’s bound up in ways we don’t understand, so we just make it all up.

Thing is, I think she’s started taking drugs or something. She’s out of it, she’s around less in our last year.  She’s skinnier.  I don’t maybe, maybe it’s just in my head.  Everyone suddenly starts taking drugs except me.  People do cocaine at parties I’m not invited to.  People shoot heroin.  This is still the suburbs, but something weird is going on.  We’re all growing up in wrong ways.

Do you know where Thom moved here from? I ask her.

No, she says.  She’s thinking about something else.

Why do you think he moved?  Does he seem sad to you?

I don’t know, she says.

Are you okay? I ask her, and she stops and jumps a little, like she’s been shaken awake.

On the sidewalk, right there at our feet, is a squirrel with broken bones, pulling itself across the cement.  There’s some blood and it’s straining with each inch.  I can see its teeth, how long its teeth are.

What should we do? I say.  We can’t just leave it.

I think, there must be people who take care of problems like this; they take animals in and usher them back to health.  I imagine a woman with a house full of little bottles to feed the animals by hand.  Cages that have hawks with broken wings, rabbits with smashed feet.

I’ll call the police and see if they know, Gwen says, and she runs to her house.

You’re going to be okay, I say to the squirrel.  It’s terrified and doing its best to move, flat on its belly.  You’re going to be okay.  I don’t like anything that comes next.

A boy, Jonathan, that I used to be friends with when we were boys – because we were all friends when we were children – walks by and sees me kneeling.

What are you doing, he says.  Praying on the sidewalk?

Then he sees the squirrel.

Jesus, he says.

I have to stay here with it, I say.

Jonathan laughs and walks away like nothing’s happening. But before that, he says, You know this isn’t the kind of thing you do if you want people to like you.

I don’t even know what that means, but I know it hurts when he says it.  Just like, when Gwen comes back, a cop shows up and says he’ll take care of it, go away now.  We linger for a minute until he tells us again to get out of here, and there’s no note of thanks or mercy.

Did he call a…I don’t know, a wildlife protector person or something? I ask.

Try not to think about it, Gwen says.

We wait for the time-stopping pop of a gunshot, but we don’t hear anything.

I really thought there was a person who took care of that sort of thing, I say to her.

Maybe there isn’t anyone though, maybe I just made that up.

*

I’m confused about what’s real and what isn’t.  All the real stuff, the stuff that’s not arbitrary, comes out of nowhere.  Like Thom, like falling in love with him.  Last year, I started automatic writing and it scared the shit out of me, but I couldn’t stop.  It’s this thing I do now, almost every day.  I have notebooks filled with phrases that don’t make much sense, phrases that sound like they’re channeled from somewhere else. I AM A PERFECT BLANK AND WILL FOLD UP TIME one says.  GIVE ME YOUR LEGS AND KNEEL IF YOU WANT MERCY says another one.  And there are stories too – one about a man who is crucified to to the ground, one about a woman who falls in love with a glass statue.  All of them have that frantic gesture.  I close my eyes and get this sort of overheated feeling and words come out in huge excessive loops across the page, the ink gathering into pools so heavy and the pen pressing down so hard that the paper tears.  I’m always in a sort of wavering trance when I write them, like I have to blot myself out so they can come through.  They all feel true, but writing them is scary.

Do you want to come over? Thom asks me.

School’s just let out and I’m talking to Becky near my locker.  Becky’s a year younger than us; she has blonde hair and wears vulgar plastic jewelry, and uncomfortably red lipstick, but somehow it looks good on her.

At first I think he’s talking to Becky, but she looks over at me like, well? Then Thom puts his hand on my back again.

When we we get to his house – an apartment in a huddled complex on the hill near the high school – his mom is smoking a cigarette.  She’s looking at her Dungeons and Dragons map, spread across the table.  She looks happy that Thom has made a friend.

Do you play? she asks, gesturing to the map and the little pewter figures.

When I was a kid, I say.  With my brother, I say.

You have a brother? Thom asks.

I do, but he’s my half brother and thirteen years older than me, and I don’t see him that much.

We just did it normal style, I say, no figures or anything, it was all just in our heads.

Well we’d do that too, Thom’s mom says, But Thom forgets everything.

Then she laughs and whips her hand out to smack his butt.  I realize she’s also chewing gum.  Chewing gum, smoking a cigarette, smacking Thom’s ass, this place feels weird.

This is it, he says, when we go into his bedroom.

There’s a mattress on the floor and a pile of clothes.  There’s one window with a white venetian blind.  We talk, and later, when his mom leaves, we watch TV.  But even though she leaves, the entire time it feels like his mom is in the room with us.  The whole apartment smells like smoke and it’s so small.  Only poor kids live in apartments in my town.  In my house, in my other friends’ houses, someone could call your name on the first floor and you’d never hear it up on the second.  In an apartment, you’re always close to someone else, but I bet you never feel like you can hear your own thoughts.

The kid who gave me a blowjob when I was thirteen lives in this complex.  We were best friends, but we’re not really friends at all anymore.  I still see him in homeroom and stuff but after the blowjob, I don’t know, I couldn’t talk to him anymore.  I think that officially makes me a terrible person.  I came in his mouth and it was like I wasn’t even there.  I didn’t feel it, I almost want to say it didn’t happen.  He’d already had sex with plenty of guys by then; he used to have a card that said “escort” on it, and the number on it was his home phone number!  Old men would call his house and his mom would answer and he’d say, “Mom, get off the phone, it’s work.”  They’d fuck him, I guess, which I’m sort of envious of.  Thirteen and getting fucked! You might see that kid now, and you might think, “just a kid.”  But he knows more than most of us about a lot of things.

If Thom gave me a blowjob, I know I’d feel it.  When we’re watching TV, I rub shoulders and I feel a flush, like I’m going to start writing something.

*

We start hanging out every day.  After school, two boys.

At lunch, I start putting my hand on his leg underneath the cafeteria table.  No one can see my hand on his leg, and if I’m afraid they will, I pull it away.  And he never pushes it off.  I always keep it just above his knee.

And I start imagining him when I jerk off.  Not just sucking his dick, but him holding my hand and putting his arm around me at night, him kissing me.  I start to imagine what it would be like living with him.  Waking up with him in the morning.

One day at lunch, he puts his hand on my head and messes up my hair, right in front of everyone at the table.  I smile and smile, right through the rest of the day.  If time stopped right there, I’d be okay.

*

The day Thom asks me if I want to sleepover, I have English class last period, and I’m staring at the clock, black lines in a circle.  I don’t usually stare at the clock during English class because it’s my favorite class.  Mr. Rothrock, my English teacher, is sort of crazy.  Not in necessarily a good way, not in the way caring English teachers are in movies.  Instead, he’s sort of unhinged.  He has a very, I don’t know…flowery? voice.  Some of what happens in his class is ordinary, some of it is bizarre, and you have no idea what you’re going to get.

Today, he’s telling us to make sure we keep an eye on our wallets in New York, because later in the year, he’ll take us to New York to see Showboat onclock Broadway, and all the jock kids will talk about how they loved it; they were so surprised they loved it, like their loving it is some grand stamp of approval.  Really, Showboat is just mediocre, but okay.

You don’t want anyone undesirable reaching into your back pocket, Mr. Rothrock says,  Someone desirable, well that’s a different story.

I stare at the clock.

The period is about to end and Scott Franklin says he has an announcement.  He just got a new car. Why is he announcing this?  Like who cares if Scott got a new car.

But Mr. Rothrock asks him if it has leather seats and when Scott says yes, Mr. Rothrock says, So you like to get naked and rub around on them?

Outside, Thom is waiting; he’s talking to Becky and Gwen and Becky’s laughing too hard at something he’s said.  People file past us, and then Gwen and Becky leave and the school looks exhausted and empty.

Do you want to hold my hand? I say.  And then, quickly, Like just friends, I mean girls hold hands and they’re just friends, right?

If anyone saw us holding hands, they’d tease us.  If Thom weren’t so tall, they’d probably beat the shit out of us.  But no one sees us.  We walk all the way back to his apartment that way, holding hands.  I’ve never done this before, and he’s so tall that I have to lift my arm up a little to meet him, but it feels perfect.

At his place, his mom isn’t home, and he reaches under the kitchen counter and comes back up with something clear, which he drinks a lot of and I drink a little of until we’re equally drunk.  I’ve had almost no alcohol in my life.

Where’s your mom? I ask.

Dunno, he says.

Then he takes off his pants.  He’s wearing white boxer shorts with thin blue vertical stripes.

I was going to ask her to get movies, he says, but whatever, let’s just watch TV.

For hours, I don’t know what we’re watching.  I don’t know what we say when we talk to each other.  Thom’s mom doesn’t come home, and we sit on the couch, close.  I mess up his hair and he leans his head back onto my chest.

Kiss me on the cheek, I say.

What?

Kiss me on the cheek.

And he does.  I expect to be totally immersed when he kisses me.  But instead, I think a lot of things.  I think about how I was too scared to try to kiss him on the mouth.  I think about how he’s taking a risk, kissing me on the cheek, how it’s brave.  Mostly, though, I think, did he only do that because I told him to?  Or did he really want to?

What do you know about Becky? Thom asks.

Nothing, but she’s one of those girls, I say defensively.

What do you mean?

Nothing, I say.  Can we go to bed?  Can we lie down in your bed?

We’re both dizzy.  We’re both drinking.  We’re both in his room, on the bed.  His shirt is off, and mine is off too and I put my arm around him and feel his back against me, his chest, his belly, the soft hair beneath his belly button.  My dick is so hard up against him, and everything else is soft.  I want to say, I love you.

You’re not going to move again, are you? I ask.  You’re going to stay here.

I’m going to stay here, he says.

I have no idea why he moved.  All that time we spend together and he remains totally mysterious, like he came out of nowhere.  I don’t know what happened to his dad, or where his mom goes, or where he lived before he lived here.  I’ve convinced myself that people at his old school found out he was gay, and harassed him, so he had to move.  Every time I tried to ask, he changed the subject.  Like that weird movie my punk rock friends showed me about the rich people who are stuck in a house.  It was black and white and strangely boring and terrifying at once.  All these people get stuck in one room of a house and can’t leave; every time they try to, the find out they just don’t have the will to do it.

You never told me where you came from, I say.

What about college? he says.

Fuck that, fuck thirteenth grade, I say.  I’m not going to college.

I listen to him breathing and wonder if he’s asleep.

What about your dad? I ask.  Does he live around here?

Thom rolls over and looks into my eyes.  I can feel his breath on my lips.

Are you hard? he says.  He grabs his dick through his boxer shorts and shakes it at me.  It’s huge, even though it’s still flaccid.

I think I drank too much he says.  Can you roll over?

I roll onto my side, facing away from him, and he puts his arm around me.  I think I might start crying but I don’t.  Instead, I kiss his arm as his breaths get longer and longer and he’s asleep.

I can’t sleep.  I can’t jerk off.  I don’t want to wake him up.  I lie there for hours, with his long, heavy arm draped over me.  I love you, I think again and again, but never say it.

In the middle of the night he mumbles something into my ear, but I can’t make it out.

What? I say.

But he doesn’t repeat it.  Whatever he said in his sleep, with his eyes closed, I’ll treat it as if it were totally clear, as if I know what he meant and it was his most alert, awake moment.  I tell myself that we only say what we mean when we’re not trying to say anything at all.  The light starts to open up through the venetian blind and I can hear the birds.

*

Thom, I write on a page in my notebook, and I underline the h.  It’s cute, that h.  Also in my notebook, is a photo of him I took from his house.  I took that and his white-with-blue-lines boxer shorts.  I know it’s stealing, but I’ll tell him about it.  And anyway, he could have anything of mine that he wants.

The photo was in a jumbled pile of photos in his bathroom.  Most of the photos were of his mom and people I didn’t know.  Maybe one of the guys was his dad, but none of them looked like him.  There were a few pictures with him in them, but in all the other ones he’s got one of those weird half-developed dirty mustaches.  They look silly.  In the one I have, the one I keep in the back of my notebook, he’s caught in mid-laugh, his eyes partially closed.  There’s a blank wall behind him.  It’s not a great picture, and I want it with me all the time.

In the school stairwell where there’s a giant Jesus painting, I drop my books and my photo falls out and all my papers are all over the place.  It’s between classes, so everyone is trampling down the stairs, and I’m holding everything up, clogging the hallway.

One kid stops and takes his gum out and jumps up to stick it on one of the crucifying nails.

Oh shit, someone else says, laughing.

We go to a public school, so that painting shouldn’t be here, but it was done by a student forever ago, so it’s not “religious,” it’s “student art.”  On the floor, in front of the painting, I’m on my hands and knees, looking for Thom’s photo. The gum unsticks and falls off the nail onto the floor.  I feel weird about the temporary vandalism and I don’t know if Jesus is made up or real; if he’s arbitrary or something else.  Maybe there’s a third thing, something that’s not real or fake; something beyond all of that.  When I find the photo, I hide it again in the back of my notebook.

*

Then the night comes when we’re supposed to go to Gwen’s house; me and Thom and Becky, and I have to tell you something, a confession.

You know how else I know time is all fucked up?  That time is arbitrary?  Because this isn’t me writing this.  I mean, it’s me, but it’s weird; I’m not myself. There’s this voice coming through from nowhere, through a black cloud when my eyes are closed.  There’s this Future Version of Me that’s messing with my voice, making me tell you this.

Maybe it’s because summer isn’t going to be summer anymore and the morning is over and there’s this moment coming.  If nothing matters the way it used to, there’s an absence where all the stuff I used to think was, and now it’s filled up by this Future Me, who just slipped through.

And because it’s from the future?  All these words pouring out of me?  Well from the beginning I knew everything that would happen before it happens.  So when it happens, it’s like I’m not there.  Like I’m in the sway of things instead of directing them.  Like someone being shown their life, touring around it with a ghost.

Me and Thom and Becky will go to Gwen’s house.  Thom and Becky will sit on the couch, and I’ll go upstairs.

Gwen will be in her room, she has to tell me something.

In the room, where she still has stuffed animals, and a book of her drawings on the floor, she’ll be crying, I can see it.  She’ll tell me about some girl she likes.  I’ll tell her I love Thom, but I won’t cry.  We’ll reveal ourselves to each other, even though we already know it all.  Even though we could see it coming.

She’ll be the first person I just come out to and tell about any of this stuff to.  It should be a big moment, it should be the thing that marks this night.  But it won’t be, because then we’ll go down the stairs.

Please Future Me, I don’t want to see it.  Please don’t make me watch my life.

On the couch will be Thom.  On the couch will be Thom and Becky.

I can see them holding each other, and their faces will be touching and their eyes will be closed and I’ll close my eyes too and that will be the truth of it all.  No one’s looking at anything.

You are a fucking whore, I’ll say to Becky.  You are fucking bitch and a whore.

The words just show up; even though I don’t like them.

The two of them will pull apart and she’ll have this look on her face.  It’s the look of someone who does not deserve to be hurt, who’s done nothing wrong.  I know how it feels to have that look on your face.

I won’t look at Thom’s face at all.  I’ll run out of the house.

That night, no one will see me for hours.  I’ll walk around our little town, in the dark, by myself.  It will be cold, and my jacket will be on the floor of Gwen’s room where I left it.

There’s the little bridge in the park that I cross when I walk to school, and I’ll walk down the hill to the creek and I’ll sit under that bridge, right by the water I’m used to crossing over.  In the dark, I’ll hear the frosted up edges of the water crack under my feet, but the rest of the creek isn’t frozen yet, the water’s still rushing by.  I don’t know how long I’ll sit there, but that’s where I’ll stay and cry.  I’ll forget everything except what it felt like to see him kissing her.

When I get back to Gwen’s house, Thom will be  gone.  I’ll have no idea what time it is.  Becky will still be there.  She’ll be smoking a cigarette outside in the cold, and I can see the makeup messed up all across her eyes.

I’m not a whore, she’ll say,

I know, I’ll say, although I don’t really know much about her.

Do you love me? she’ll ask.

And I’ll be struck at how ridiculous and unknowing the whole world can pretend to be, even when everything is laid out in front of us.

No, I’ll say.  Not you.

Oh my God, she’ll say, figuring it out.

*

A few days later, on the little bridge, in the morning before school, I tell Thom I love him.  I haven’t seen him since that night that still feels like it couldn’t have happened.  He doesn’t sit next to me at lunch anymore, he’s moved to a different table with Becky.

I’m too late.  I should have told him before.  Like we were too late for the squirrel, like I was too late coming down the stairs.  Nothing catches up to where it’s supposed to be.

I’m not gay, he says.

But you care about me, right?

Becky’s my girlfriend and you have to accept that, he says.

Where is this coming from? I ask.   I turn my head away so he can’t see my eyes tearing up.

Nowhere, he says.

I reach for his hand and he pushes me away.

Do you want to be friends? he asks, and I run away from him, up the hill back to my house.

My mom and stepdad aren’t home.  I stay inside the whole day doing nothing, being no one.  It’s the day of yearbook photos, and I miss it, so at the end of the year, I’m missing from the yearbook.  Or not even “missing,” because there’s no mention that I’m not pictured.  All those years in this place, and at the end, there’s no trace of me.

*

The next day, I go back to school in a dull haze.  Thom passes by me in the hall, but doesn’t say hi.  I know right then that he’ll never talk to me again.  The day unknots and uncoils, and I’m in and out of feeling it.

At the end of it, Mr. Rothrock’s stands in front of all of us and breaks down, crying.

I have Lyme’s disease, he tells us.  It’s interfering with my speech.  There was a tick lodged in my back, can you imagine?

I feel a hundred miles away from him.  Everyone is uncomfortable.  We’ve been making lists of all his verbal fuck ups for a couple months now, thinking about how funny it is that he uses one word when he means another.

Did everyone read the boom? he’d say, when he meant book.  And when we read Lord of the Flies, which is great, he said Lord of the Lies.  And instead of the Mayor of Casterbridge, which is boring, it’s the Sailor of Casterbridge.

I understand there’s a list, he says to us.  Is there a list?  I need to see that list.  It will help me figure out what I’ve been doing wrong, so I can improve my speech.

Gwen, who sits in front of me turns red.  She’s helped make the list.  Now all these marks against him, these terrible things – he needs to see them.

Do you know what it’s like for a man of words such as myself to be deprived the ability to speak? he says.

Then he starts crying again.  Really weeping.

Is there a list, he says again.

But no one gives him the list.

Why would he cry in front of us?  He has other classes.  Did he cry in front of all of them?  Maybe he feels close to us, but no one will ever stop seeing how different he is.

Everyone is still for a second; we have no idea how to react, time stops.  Then the bell rings and we know what to do and we’re off.  Time’s up.

He’s crazy, one boy says in the hall.

You can’t cry in front of everyone and expect them to like you, says a girl.

Yeah, someone else says, what a faggot.

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