Archive for October, 2011

October 31st, 2011

Tricks, Treats, and a Rendition With Reverence

I watched Dangerous Beauty for the first time last November. As the end credits began, I knew I wanted to be Veronica Franco for Halloween the following year.

Eleven months later, that desire had not abated an iota—and it was time to bring it to fruition. Rick Write and I hosted a Halloween party this year on Saturday (October 29). With a number of other things going on, including readying the house for a party a couple months after my having moved in, I felt I was leaving preparing my costume somewhat until the last minute. But when I began to focus on it, beginning mostly with a trip to my favorite fabric store (after revisiting the movie with the specific aim of studying the dress I had chosen to pattern my costume after), its conception seemed to come together smoothly. I won’t say I didn’t find it time-consuming and at times challenging, but it came together in a way I enjoyed and much appreciate.

Before I give the wrong impression, I do not know much about sewing! I did not “make” my costume. I do not own a sewing machine or any such thing—the last time I used one was when I was in 4-H, probably in my pre-teens. But I knew I really wanted to do justice to representing Veronica Franco, and to me that meant customizing something that really seemed to reflect what I had seen her represented as wearing. In this case, it was quite helpful that there was a movie based on parts of her life so that I got to pattern my costume after something her character wore in it. There is an actual portrait that was done of Veronica that is replicated on the cover of the book on which the movie is based (The Honest Courtesan by Margaret Rosenthal), but it’s only from the shoulders up, and I found it hard to tell what the outfit she’s wearing in it really looked like. So I went by what I saw in the movie.

I found that I had missed quite a bit of detail in what I remembered of the outfit I wanted to imitate when I went back to the scenes in which it is displayed. After studying Veronica’s attire and physical appearance in these scenes several times, pausing and making notes (yes, really :)), the vision of how I wanted to put together the costume formed in my consciousness. I wasn’t sure exactly what materials I would use or what I would find in a search for them, but I went off to the fabric store to see if what I wanted presented itself or perhaps the store held some surprises.

It did indeed. When I first walked by and spotted the fabric I ended up using to make the sleeves of the outfit I wore, it truly almost took my breath away. Though it didn’t really display colors I would usually find so appealing (the shade of green was darker and more muted than that to which I’ve usually found myself attracted), for whatever reason the fabric struck me when I saw it as possibly the most beautiful I’d ever seen. I knew I wanted to use it, though I also knew it was a bit of a stretch since the lace for sleeves displayed in the movie usually appeared plain white or beige and not necessarily the focal point of the outfit. However, the straps and border of the top of the dress in question worn by Veronica’s character in the movie were very intricate and elaborate, and I knew the corset I planned to use for the top was not decorated so much as such, so it vaguely occurred to me to take the liberty of switching it around a little and allowing the sleeves a focal extravagance since my corset was a little plainer.

I did, however, plan to somehow make the straps highly decorated as they are in the movie. So with a combination of a border I bought at the fabric store, four costume “diamond necklaces” from the Halloween store, and my (what seem to me) pretty limited sewing skills, I did my best to fulfill this. I did buy the incredible fabric for the sleeves, and in addition to using it as such I ran a band of it along the top of my corset to imitate the lushness of the top of the dress she wears in the move. The color and fanciness of the sleeves may still seem a bit divergent from the representation(s) in the movie, but it was a liberty I ultimately chose to take, feeling it did not detract from my aim in spirit to do the rendition of Veronica Franco justice.

The fabric store also provided the fabric I used for the skirt, and as I had forgotten to bring my corset with me to do my best to match the color, I was pleasantly impressed and astounded by just how exactly the shade of the fabric I bought for the skirt seemed to match my corset. I basically created the skirt by winding the fabric around my waist, sewing the gathering into the back, and connecting it slightly at the top in the front (in the movie, the skirt part of the dress appears open almost all the way to the top and simply drapes closed most of the time when she’s not walking).

The dress I was imitating is in the first 1:42 minutes of the clip found here of Dangerous Beauty. The hairstyle I imitated is more like the one displayed in this clip from about 8:00 to 8:35, though I did include the pearls shown in the previous one.

We did not get to take as many pictures as I would have liked given that, shockingly enough, I did not manage to be ready as far in advance of the party as I planned. So our pictures were taken after guests arrived among mingling and eating. :) I do feel the gist of the costume was captured, however, and I much appreciate Rick Write’s time, willingness, and skill in acting as my photographer!

My Halloween costume of 2011—Ms. Veronica Franco, late sixteenth century Venetian courtesan:

Happy Halloween all!

Love,
Emerald

“Come with us and you will see…this is Halloween, everybody make a scene…”
-Marilyn Manson “This Is Halloween”

October 28th, 2011

Happy Halloween From Bee to You!

I’m so delighted that The Erotic Woman is featuring my story “Wings and All” today, just in time for Halloween weekend! I love Halloween and am very excited about my costume this year, which I look forward to posting photos of (as I have done in previous years) after the weekend (and after, you know, construction of my costume is actually completed).

In the meantime, “Wings and All” was inspired by one of my favorite ever Halloween costumes: bee! Big thanks to The Erotic Woman for featuring this ode to one of my favorite holidays—and one of my favorite costumes! ;) Happy Halloween!

Love,
Emerald

“Do you like it?” I turned around and looked over my shoulder, sensing my fuzzy yellow feeler springs bouncing as I craned to see the back of the frilly yellow tutu. I wiggled my hips and flipped it playfully, which wasn’t really necessary because it didn’t cover my ass even when it was placed properly. I beamed and turned my head back around, reaching for the elastic straps at my shoulders as I prepared to take off the wings.

Before I could, I felt Justin up against me from behind.
-from “Wings and All” (originally published in Alison Tyler‘s anthology K Is for Kinky)

October 26th, 2011

Recommended Reading #70: Politics, Pt. II



      “Abstinence Sex Ed? ‘I’m Baaack…'” by Dr. Marty Klein (Youth, Sexuality Education, United States Public Policy, Sex and Culture, Psychology, Self-Awareness) 10/7/11

I personally find it so important to recognize that adults who appear so fearful of and/or opposed to minors’ exposure to information about sex tend to feel (directly proportionately, I would presume) fearful of/uncomfortable with sexuality themselves. In this way, the further deprivation of youth from information about sexuality is perpetrating a cycle, in this case of fear, ignorance, and inauthenticity. I appreciate voices like Dr. Klein’s continuously pointing this out and support us all in recognizing this and addressing and being with our own discomforts for the service of higher consciousness for all humanity.

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      “The Hot Topic, vol. 12: The Elephant in the Bedroom” by Lana Fox (Sex and Culture, Sexual Orientation, Sexual Identity) 10/11/11

I have admittedly been known to feel amazement when I have encountered individuals whom I have experienced as not appearing aware of or finding important the realm of social issues related to or centered around sexuality to which I have devoted so much time and attention. However, I have indeed encountered such perspectives, and after the initial surprise I’ve felt (resultant of the relative normativeness of discussing and considering sexuality I have experienced for years), the prevalence thereof does make sense to me given the lack of openness I experience this culture as showing around sexuality. I appreciate this column from Lana expressing her view of the importance of what she refers to as sexual politics.

***

      “Panic of the Plutocrats” by Paul Krugman (Non-sex-related, Economics, United States Public Policy, Activism) 10/9/11

I have often appreciated Mr. Krugman’s commentary in the New York Times, where he is a columnist. This piece strikes me as intensely exquisite, outlining clearly, straightforwardly, and eloquently something that has seemed vaguely obvious to me but that I would not have known how to express quite so beautifully. I have often found Mr. Krugman’s commentary to do exactly that, and I find solace in knowing he has such a platform via which to offer such things.

***

Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday

October 19th, 2011

Reccomended Reading #69: Non-Monogamy, Pt. III



      “Why I’m on the Poly Soapbox” by Angi Becker Stevens (Relationship, Activism, Self-Awareness, Sex and Culture) 8/31/11

I adore this piece. She says so much that resonates with me, both about non-monogamy itself and also about why she feels called to speaking about and advocating for it. I deeply appreciate this offering of the author’s perspective.

***

      “Poly Q&A: Is it normal to ‘freak out’ a little?” by Jade at A Poly Life (Relationship, Psychology, Sociology) 2/22/10

I find this such an even-keel, down-to-earth account of one’s personal experience with polyamory that offers extrapolated guidance without ever veering into any kind of self-righteous or overly generalizing territory (indeed the emphasis on the uniqueness of individuals and relationships is something with which I wholeheartedly agree and appreciate her allusion to). I not only find this impressive but appreciate it as well, as I agree with the author that resources and models of polyamory/non-monogamy can be quite helpful and seem in short supply. I also love that she points out acculturated ideas like the “scarcity” model and encouragement of competitiveness in relation to cultural/collective perceptions of intimate (and sometimes other) relationship.

***

      “‘Love’ Hurts” by Selene (Relationship, Self-Awareness, Psychology, Sex and Culture) 9/30/11

I deeply adore this post. I especially appreciate her mention of the messages about what she terms “love” (in quotes) that are prominent in our culture, as well as her overall distinction between a cultural perception of “love” (again, in quotes) and love. I agree, and I still sometimes wince at the songs, movies, popular culture messages, etc., that seem to glorify what I find questionable if not downright misguided versions of interactive and relationship dynamics. And of course I adore the line that, to me, speaks one of the greatest truths of existence: “You have the love you need already deep down inside you.”

***

Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday

October 12th, 2011

Recommended Reading #68: Pioneering, Past and Present



      “The Bold Single Bride Who Married Herself” by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Self-Love, Relationship, Self-Awareness) 9/29/11

This struck me as so lovely. The actual marriage might not be something everyone would be interested in doing, but the vowing to take care of and honor oneself strikes me as invaluable. In the specific case spotlighted, I like the way she chose to marry herself on the original day of her planned wedding rather than, as she puts it, “sulking at home all day . . . .” I find that a beautiful, novel, and, as Rachel says, inspiring idea and course of action.

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      “Tristan Taormino: The Power of Erotica” by Sinclair Sexsmith (Gender, Sexual Identity, Writing, Activism) 10/10/11

I’m very interested in the book on which this article focuses (Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica, partly because I am an admirer of Tristan Taormino and partly because I feel frankly that I don’t know very much about transgender issues or experience. It had already occurred to me to read this as a possible opportunity to learn, and after reading this, that seems even more salient. I love that she wanted to do something new/unusual (what has seemed, in my perception, characteristic of her) in erotica and devoted an entire anthology to this theme in order to do so and offer it representation. (I’m also interested in the language issue Tristan mentions; it’s one with which I’ve struggled with a bit, since I know “their” is often grammatically incorrect in places where “he”/”she” would be used. I look forward to a reconciliation as such of the desired pronouns of some and grammatical correctness…which is so important to some of us. ;))

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      “Annals of Bessie Street: From Revolution to Eviction” by Susie Bright (Memoir, Activism, Sexual Orientation/Identity) 9/27/11

This struck me as an extraordinary expose of Susie Bright’s old apartment, where she and her former partner once lived together and where her partner has been living since (as stated in the piece, ownership has just changed, necessitating her former partner’s moving out). It goes through, in text and photos, the history of Susie’s On Our Backs magazine and her life in connection with the featured apartment. Extraordinary.

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Recommended Reading posted every Wednesday