We arrived at the Melbourne Airport and Cyndi Darnell, sex therapist, counselor, sex educator, and creator of Pleasure Salon Melbourne, picked us up at the airport. We’d met her in Sydney at Xplore and connected right away. Cyndi drove us in her classic car, which turns heads wherever it goes. She took us to where we’d be staying, the home of Fiona Patten, the CEO of the Eros Association, Inc. (Australia’s national adult retail and entertainment trade association) and the head of the Australian Sex Party, a progressive political party that supports free speech, the adult industry, sex workers’ rights, comprehensive sex education, gender equality, same sex marriage, decriminalization of drugs, and more. Fiona is a total bad ass: a smart, articulate, radical, multitasking whirlwind of sex-positive politics. It’s inspiring to be in her presence. She was super busy taking media calls and preparing for her presentation at The 2012 Atheist Convention, which took place at the same time we were in Melbourne. Fiona took us to a wonderful dinner out with two adult industry distributors and an American who was in town for AdultEx. We talked about legal issues surrounding selling and distributing porn in Australia, politics, and the Bong Task Force (the SNL skit writes itself).
The next day, Cyndi picked us up and we headed to Fitzroy, the artsy neighborhood of Melbourne. We went to Hares and Hyenas, an LGBT bookstore that’s been in busy for over 20 years. I was shocked to see that the entire window display was devoted to my books! It was beautiful, and I felt honored. It’s an amazing shop, and we scooped up lots of local books and magazines, including Dude Magazine, Dirty Queer Magazine, f2m: The Boy Within, and The Drag Queen Baby Name Book (a gift for friends who are expecting). We met the owners, Rowland and Crusader, who were wonderfully warm and charming. We went to another great bookstore, PolyEster Books (“world’s freakiest bookstore”), which carried tons of great sex books, including those from small and obscure presses, I was very impressed. I would later regret just how many books I bought as I dragged them back to the States (they weighed a ton!). Then, we went to some art galleries, which were closed for various unexpected reasons. Ah, artists. But it didn’t matter, really, because there was so much amazing street art throughout the neighborhood.
That night was my first presentation for Pleasure Salon Melbourne. It was simply an amazing night. There were about 150 people there.
I spoke for about 45 minutes, then we had intermission. Rowland from Hares and Hyenas was there with cartons of books, and by the end of intermission, he had sold out of several titles! It was totally overwhelming.
At the end of the evening, I stayed as audience members waited almost an hour to have their books signed by me. Each person I met told me a little something about themselves, and they were all fantastic. Fiona Patten and friends were there. There was a pack of adorable queers, including Kit, Louise, and Lauren from D.VICE, a lesbian-owned sex-positive sex shop in New Zealand and Australia. Two of them had me autograph their boobs. It was my pleasure. I finally got to meet several women in person who I’ve corresponded with by email or Skype, including sex therapist Sandra Pertot, who wrote an amazing book called When Your Sex Drives Don’t Match. I met Lyndal Coon, whose new book Sexual Biversity: Loving My Bisexual Husband was just released and sex-positive coach Chantelle Austin, author of The Essential Guide for Adventurous Couples…Who Want to Explore Threesomes, Foursomes, and Moresomes. All the sex and porn people were there: Anna Brownfield (winner of a Feminist Porn Award for The Band), feminist pornographers Ms. Naughty from ForTheGirls.com (who blogged about my talk) and Gala Vanting, Blair from Adult Voyeur, a spunky, gorgeous performer named Angela White, and blogger Ultra Hedonist.
I was blown away by the audience at Pleasure Salon Melbourne. It was overwhelming, actually. Thanks to each and every person who came, asked questions, introduced themselves, and supported me and the local sex-positive community.