Oh where do I begin!
Like many of the people who could be found at Armada House, Bristol on Saturday 3rd March, I had been looking forward to Eroticon 2012 for close to a year. That is quite some build up! And with the amount of hype and excitement that preceded it, the bar was high.
Organised, hosted, run, (and many other verbs) by Ruby Kiddell, the day was divided into sessions, the topics of which ranged from Identity and Ethics, to Publishing, to Photography, to Podcasting, to Writing itself – the whole schedule is still up on the site for the time being, – and between which there was plenty of time to meet and talk to the other delegates.
I personally attended: Identity, ethics and sex blogging (Zoe Margolis, Lori Smith, Molly Moore, Mina Lamieux), Writing workshop (Maxim Jakubowski), Convincingly queer, writing beyond our experience (Aisling Weaver, Josephine Myles), Publishers panel (Hazel Cushion, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Andrews, Monique Roffey, Richard Eadie), and Sex and the media (Lori Smith, Zoe Margolis, Rubyyy Jones, Matt Bateman).
All of the sessions either brought up topics which I will discuss in articles to come, or provided me with insights which I hope will enhance my writing in general.
The day ended, for everyone, with a demonstration from London Faerie on Sacred Kink, wherein he “whipped [Lori Smith] into a state of ecstasy’; I’m paraphrasing but I believe that is how he himself described it. After a day of thought-provoking discussion and debate, this was not only an incredible experience, but also a welcome relief. But I don’t think anyone quite expected what they saw. Watching the demonstration was deeply affecting, not to mention the intensity of sharing that experience with the rest of the audience. The whole room took on a strange kind of quiet focus wherein we were all drawn into their connection and what they were, so kindly, sharing with us. I think also, on a more political level, it is always good when a large number of people are able to see the consent, the intimacy, and the enjoyment of both parties when they engage in this kind of socially transgressive play.
As I have mentioned, Eroticon not only sparked great discussion and ideas, but brought a lot of people together, and I was thrilled to meet so many erotic artists whom I have admired, followed, and read for so long: I was thrilled to meet Aisling Weaver and Wyeth Bailey and get, well, never enough, but a significant amount of time to talk with them. It was also a delight to meet the illustrious Mina Lamieux. Of course, many of the usual Erotic Meet crowd were there, which is always a delight, and I also spent a lot of the day with the people behind Something Dark magazine – to which you can now find a permanent link in my sidebar. There were so many people there, many of whom I am now sharing my twitter timeline and my email inbox with, that I couldn’t possibly name them all now! but if you visit Write Sex Right, you will find links to many of their own accounts of Eroticon.
As I left Bristol, riding back to London late on Saturday night, one phrase continued to circle in my head: “Eroticon needed to happen”. It needed to happen because you can never have too much support and inspiration as a writer; it needed to happen because erotic writers need an excuse to get together; and most of all it needed to happen because we are all writing outside what is socially accepted. We are all pushing boundaries and making use of our freedom of speech. And to see so many other people in exactly the same situation as ourselves was empowering, inspiring, and incredibly comforting. I have never felt so at home with a group of strangers.
Finally, I would like to raise a metaphorical toast to Ruby: Eroticon went far beyond any expectation. It was perfectly organised, allowing us all room to grow and learn. A spectacular event, hosted with professionalism and style. My mind is still reeling. And I sincerely hope that it happens again. To Ruby!