October 3rd, 2011

One of My Favorite Cities, with One of My Favorite Communities

The Strip in Las Vegas!

I have now taken so long to blog about this that I’ve traveled in the meantime to two other events that I am also behind on blogging about! But first things first (and more travel tales/posts to come). It’s time to talk about Las Vegas. :)

The short version is, I had an extraordinary and amazing time in Las Vegas at the Erotic Authors Association conference. But it is the long version that I have taken weeks to post here, and it thus follows shortly. I want to say first, though, that there are a number of great write-ups already out there from others who attended the conference (and blogged about it a lot more promptly than I, obviously)—they have been compiled by the utterly lovely Jade, whom I had the pleasure of meeting during the weekend, on her blog, Pieces of Jade. And do also check out the article the lovely Lynn Comella wrote about the conference for her column at the Las Vegas Weekly!

Okay, on to my own account…the truth is, I have felt exceptionally busy lately in a way I’ve found somewhat draining and disorienting. I moved in with Rick Write at the end of July, and since then I have left for previously-scheduled out of town trips five times. I have enjoyed and appreciated them, to be sure—it’s just that I’m also trying to unpack and organize and get a house in order, and the commute I had to one of the jobs I hold and some of the other places I regularly visit has approximately doubled, making some days include about four hours of driving.

So the fact is that right before I left for Las Vegas for the EAA conference, I felt some degree of trepidation. I didn’t really want to go out of town again, even though I felt excitement about the conference, and I was looking for an opportunity to just stay in one place for a while and put together my part of the house in which I’m now living. That’s one reason my trip was scheduled to be so short—I spent almost exactly 48 hours in Las Vegas. (Vegas, incidentally, is one of my favorite places I’ve ever been, so despite feeling what I just described, it did feel strange to not jump at the chance to spend extended time there!)

The degree to which I enjoyed the EAA conference blew any and all such concerns straight out of my consciousness. From the second I arrived, I was reminded of my intense love affair with Las Vegas, and as soon as I stepped foot in the hotel after a cab ride with a driver I found utterly delightful, I got to go up and see the extraordinary Tess Danesi, who had generously offered to let me share her room. Seeing her (and being her roommate for the weekend) was a complete delight, and my experience of the conference never fell below that introductory level of loveliness the entire the time I was there. To be candid, incidentally, I have tended to feel some wariness about sharing living quarters with people, and I experienced no such discomfort at all rooming with Tess. I could not have asked for a more enchanting lodging arrangement. :)

On that note, the thing I probably enjoyed most about the conference was one of the main reasons I went—which was to meet and interact with in person so many of the writers I’ve known or met online. I met or got to see loads of people with whom I was delighted to spend time, including (but not limited to as I will probably forget some) Andrea Dale—who is even more awesome in person than she is online—Aisling Weaver, Jean Roberta, Jolie du Pre, K D Grace, Sharazade, and Kathleen Bradean—who, of course, was in charge of this weekend-long shindig and is due much credit for her organizing and leadership in bringing it to fruition (big thanks Kathleen!).

I met some people I had not known or interacted with previously, like Siobhan Muir (with whom I look forward to doing an interview in a couple months when Best Erotic Romance comes out!), the aforementioned Jade Melisande, and Remittance Girl. And I got to see people I’d already had the pleasure of meeting in person and was thrilled to see again, like Tess, Rachel Kramer Bussel, D. L. King, Susana Mayer, Lara Riscol, and Lynn Comella. All of which was worth making the trip in and of itself!

In particular, in addition to the beautiful experience of sharing a room with Tess, whom I found a truly stellar roommate, I got to spend extended time, or more than I usually have before, with Rachel (Kramer Bussel), which was a real treat (ha—that reminds me of her story “Vegas Treat”!). And at the closing cocktail reception I approached Graydancer, whom I’d found intriguingly compelling during the panel of which he’d been a part and also while he had tied up Sharazade during the reception. Meeting him was one of the more extraordinary and memorable experiences I’d had in a while, and I feel gratitude to have had the opportunity.

Also at the closing reception on Saturday, I met the legendary M. Christian. I was pleased to have the opportunity to share with him that his was one of the first names I remember encountering and appreciating years ago when I discovered the Erotica Readers and Writers Association (Ashley Lister‘s is the other one) and that I had particularly appreciated his offering on how to write a cover letter. I was pleasantly shocked when he pulled out a copy of his book How to Write and Sell Erotica and graciously offered it to me! I began reading it on the airplane home and so appreciate this generous gesture on his part.

Susana Mayer, proprietor of The Erotic Literary Salon in Philadelphia (the destination of my second travel trip in September) brought the Salon on tour in Las Vegas, and she and Rachel Kramer Bussel co-hosted the respective reading event at the Erotic Heritage Museum—an environment which seemed to me exquisite for an erotic reading. More than 20 authors read for up to five minutes each from their or others’ work, and it was one of my favorite events of the weekend. Huge thanks to Susana and Rachel for organizing and to all who read! Below is a video of my reading from the evening, of an edited version of my story “Cougar,” which is published at the Good Vibrations Magazine (thanks to Tess for taping me!):

I also did a reading during the final session time slot of the conference on Saturday. Due probably to other sessions occurring at the same time, there were only seven of us in the room, and I ended up finding it an exquisitely intimate and resonant environment. I extend thanks for this to the other beautiful writers and audience members that were there, and incidentally, it was due to the response I perceived from what I read that I chose to read that story in its entirety a few weeks later at Essensuality—my third and final out-of-town trip in September. (More on that in a later post.)

I did not know until I was already in Las Vegas that SlutWalk Las Vegas was occurring the Saturday night we were there. I was thrilled by this for a number of reasons: 1) I support SlutWalk; 2) it meant I would get to attend it with fabulous people whom I adore; and 3) when SlutWalk DC happened back in August, I was out of town and thus didn’t get to go. So I was delighted by the opportunity to get to attend one somewhere, this somewhere happening to be one of my favorite cities!

I profoundly enjoyed SlutWalk even though I had to skip out early to catch a cab along the Strip to go back to our hotel to pack up to leave for the airport (my flight back was a redeye Saturday night to Sunday morning). Despite that, though, I feel so much gratitude for having had the opportunity to attend SlutWalk in Las Vegas in the magnificent and extraordinary company of Tess, Rachel, Lara Riscol, and Susana Mayer.

For having felt the least bit of hesitance about going the day my flight to Vegas was to leave, the delight, energy, and gratitude I felt upon exiting the conference (and the city) was as striking to me as the glitz and brilliance of the Strip itself. I experienced a particular degree/aura of solidarity at the conference, which I have not infrequently experienced in circles attending overtly and openly to sexuality (I perceived a similar sense of cohesion at MOMENTUM in April). In this case, for me, there was the extra dynamic of being surrounded by mostly writers, something I have also tended to find intangibly resonant.

I felt a strange, pulling sadness as I left Las Vegas that Saturday night. I am not sure exactly why—I suspect there was something more involved than I was conscious of, more than simply the leaving of a city I love and interactions with people I felt profoundly heartened, appreciative, and delighted to meet and/or spend time with. It made sense that I would feel some degree of nostalgia as such, but not quite with the intensity I experienced. I appreciate the simultaneous curiosity and acceptance I feel around that.

At the airport, I tuned my iPod to the album Flamingo by Brandon Flowers, who grew up in Vegas and wrote the album not only about the city but also about the very hotel in which we stayed and after which the album is named. I’ve experienced the tone of that album as complementary to the way I felt, and I listened to it until I was seated on the plane and asked to turn all electronic devices off.

I extend heartfelt thanks to Kathleen Bradean, D. L. King, Jolie du Pre, and all others who helped with the planning and execution of the conference. I thank all who attended, especially those I got to meet, watch present, and/or enjoy spending time with. Last but not least, I extend thanks in general to all the erotica writers I know and love, including those who weren’t at the conference (who were greatly missed!) but with whom I have developed connections I so deeply appreciate and treasure. I love this community so much.

Love,
Emerald

“Welcome to fabulous Las Vegas, give us your dreamers, your harlots, and your sins…”
-Brandon Flowers “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas”

10 Responses “One of My Favorite Cities, with One of My Favorite Communities”

  1. Jade says:

    I’ve added it to my blog round-up. :-)

  2. Shar says:

    That was one rockin’ conference, wasn’t it? We’ll have to do it again!

  3. Dayle says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Emerald! It was so fantastic to finally meet you in person!

    Hugs,
    Andrea Dale

  4. Siobhan Muir says:

    It was so great to meet you and I’m looking forward to working with you on the interview. ;) Come back to Vegas anytime; you’re more than welcome! :D

  5. Erobintica says:

    The more I read about it, the sorrier I am that I missed it. But such is life. Thanks for this account.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] I mentioned in my post about said conference, I did a reading of part of my story “With Random Precision” […]

  2. […] (and erotica and writing in general) on her blog today! I met Siobhan in September at the Erotic Authors Association conference, and it has been a pleasure to make her […]

  3. […] whom I was thrilled to get to see again (having last had the opportunity last September at the Erotic Authors Association conference). I was attending this reading, of course, because 1) I was already in New York, 2) I was excited […]

  4. […] the privilege to attend the last few years, from the first and second Momentum conferences to the Erotic Authors Association conference in Las Vegas to last fall’s 2012 Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, has struck me as resounding with […]

  5. […] member Siobhan Muir, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of being acquainted ever since the Erotic Authors Association conference in 2011, asked me some time back if I would like to be one of the Authors of the Court at the […]

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