Sunrise out our back window, Maianbar, New South Wales
I recently traveled to Australia for the first time in April and will be blogging about my experiences there over the next few weeks. First up is Sydney. Our hosts were C & C, a lovely couple active in the poly communities in Sydney. They picked us up at the airport and drove us to their place; they live in Maianbar, a small town in the Royal National Park (the world’s second oldest national park) about 75 minutes outside the city. It’s a little piece of paradise. The house sits right on Fisherman’s Bay/ Port Hacking which leads to the Tasman Sea, and the first thing we did when we arrived was jump in the water and wade/swim to a small island. Amazing! There were a ton of birds, especially magpies and kookaburras who we could feed from the back patio. Our hosts were warm, generous, and lots of fun to hang out with; in fact, we became fast friends and cannot wait to visit them again! Pretty soon, it was clear that the time change was hitting me like a ton of bricks. I resisted taking an afternoon nap, but to no avail. We went to Symbio Wildlife Gardens, a zoo where we saw koala bears, dingos, monkeys, a red panda, a Tasmanian devil, and we got to hand feed kangaroos! That was pretty cool. That night, I did a phone interview with Dean Beck on his show “Hide and Seek” on JOY 94.9 to promote my Melbourne events the next week. Dean is sharp, witty, and smart!
Koala bear at the zoo
We woke up the next morning and headed to the first of many events. This one holds a special place in my heart: it’s a kink/sex/Tantra festival called Xplore Sydney. It based on Xplore Berlin, where I taught in 2004. I finally got to meet its co-creator Peter Banki, who I’d been corresponding with for months. My first impression was that there was a diverse group of attendees and really cool offerings like Tantric Dominance and Submission and Full Body Orgasm. I sat in on The Kissing Whip with delta®, then taught my class on Female Ejaculation. The crowd for my class was very big and really engaged with lots of questions and comments. Jacqueline Hellyer, a local well-known sex therapist and also a presenter, told an especially entertaining story about her pussy! Then came the hands-on portion of the workshop and people got right down to it. One participant told me later that she ejaculated at the hands of someone she met in the class, and it was only her second time squirting! That stuff makes me smile. I was insanely exhausted, so we left as the Bondage Competition was well under way.
The next morning, I went to Marina Kronkvist’s class “A Journey Into Breath.” Marina is a really good teacher with an interesting approach to breath work. We all laid on the floor of the dance studio where the festival was being held, and pretty quickly I got very cold (it was a cement floor with a thin covering). I started to do the breathing exercise with the group and I heard people around me begin to vocalize and really get into it. I was freezing, but tried hard to stay present and go with it, then all of a sudden, I got the hiccups. Classic. So I am lying there, shivering and hiccuping, and decided I should probably bow out of this one since I seemed to be fighting the tide. I went out to the social area and met some cool people chilling out on the couches. Lots of nice queer eye candy to admire there. It turns out that most of them weren’t actually from Sydney (!), but had traveled there for Xplore. I met a fantastic woman named Zahra Stardust; she’s a queer, feminist sex worker, a former NSW Senate candidate for the Australian Sex Party (yes, an actual political party), and a pole dance champion! Very smart. I also spoke briefly with Gala Vanting who has appeared on I Shot Myself and Beautiful Agony, among other places, and was featured in the article about feminist porn in The Age. We also met J, E, XI, Sam, and Ana. Next, C and I attended Feasting the Body with Annetta Luce. The thing that struck me about Xplore is that many of the classes are participatory, and most people are willing to jump right in and do it. I don’t know that I can say the same about Americans. The Xplore folks are ready to stand up, move their bodies, look silly, and just go with it. After a quick lunch at a pub down the street (it was Easter so many places were closed), I taught my Anal Play class. Again I had an awesome crowd, and some butt play—with givers and receivers of different genders and sexual orientations—was the climax of the class. I needed to wind down afterwards, so we swung by the famed Sydney Opera House, got a bite to eat at a cool restaurant, then made the long drive home to paradise.
The Sydney Opera House
On Sunday, we headed back to Xplore. My class was at the same time as one that I really wanted to go to on blood play with AnA Wojak. That always happens to presenters! Next time, I hope. I premiered a brand new presentation: The Feminist Porn Clip Show, where I screened about 70 minutes of clips of porn by Candida Royalle, Erika Lust, Petra Joy, Louise Lush, Buck Angel, Courtney Trouble, Jaiya, Nina Hartley, Joanna Angel, Maria Beatty, Madison Young, Shine Louise Houston, and me, while I narrated it live. There was a great discussion afterwards and people really responded to the different clips. (I am expanding this presentation and will do an even better version, The Feminist Porn Show, presented by She Bop in Portland, OR in June; details will be on my Tour page soon). After my presentation, I sat in on Hajime Kinoko’s class Using Shibari for Therapeutic Purposes. It was fascinating. He is from Japan and brought a translator with him, a young woman who also happened to be his demo bottom. They had a wonderful chemistry, with him tying her up while explaining his techniques and thoughts in Japanese and her translating into English as she got further into bondage. Talk about a power dynamic! In the last class slot, I taught Making Open Relationships Work. About ten minutes into the class, a dramatic rainstorm began. The roof of the building was tin, and the rain was pounding so hard that no one could hear what I was saying. In the next room, presenter Mistress Tokyo was having the same experience. I ended up moving to the other room, where it was much less noisy. Again, a great, engaged crowd with lots to share.
Our hosts, who had generously been driving our American asses all around town, were headed to a concert that night. C and I wanted to go to Xplore’s play party. So a few of the local dykes we met, E, XI, and A, said they’d drive us to their place, where we could eat dinner and change for the party. We picked up take out on the way. When we got to where they were staying (they, too, were just in town for the festival), my body just shut down. I went to lay down in the bedroom, and I nearly passed out. All the jet lag, a full teaching schedule, and long days caught up with me. Periodically, one or more of them would come into the bedroom to get something as they dressed in their finest uniform/genderfuck/high femme fetishwear. It was taking quite a long time, and the booze was flowing. I thought we’d never make it to the party (we were supposed to arrive before 11 when doors close). I was dead tired, not sure I could even wake up, but they carefully eased me into a vintage polka dotted dress with a crinoline underneath and pronounced me ready. When they finally called a cab and specifically asked for a van because there were five of us, a regular-sized cab showed up and refused to take all of us. So, we had to call another cab, and, well, you see how this is going to be one of those nights. The whole scene felt like I was back in college, trying to get friends to focus and leave the house with everything working against that happening. But it was also wonderful: we were in Australia, hanging with hot Australian queers, getting ready to go to a play party at some illegal Australian playspace. Alas, my brain could go there, but my body could not. It was after midnight, and I needed to go home. I was very bummed that we missed the party. I want to thank Peter Banki, delta®, and all the teachers, participants, and volunteers who made Xplore Sydney possible—it’s a really unique, important event. The people it attracts are bold, courageous, inquisitive, and charming. We need more spaces like the one Peter created in Sydney.
The mangroves in Fisherman’s Bay
Monday morning, we planned to go hang gliding in Stanwell Park, which neither C nor I has ever done. Unfortunately, there was terrible wind and it got called off, which made us sad. Instead, we decided to go kayaking around Fisherman’s Bay. The water was beautiful and we glided around the mangroves. Then we did laundry and packed for Melbourne. That night, we went to Sydney for my female orgasms workshop at a store called Maxxx Black. Maxxx Black is beautiful and high-end, like the Good Vibrations of Sydney, with a glamorous aesthetic and an entire area dedicated to latex clothing. They sell top-quality, phthalate-free sex toys and accessories, including Australian-made floggers and canes that were gorgeous. When we arrived, they seriously rolled out the red carpet for me. There was champagne, sparkling cider, and cupcakes. A huge display of my books. Great promotion leading to fifty pre-sold tickets. A welcoming atmosphere with a smart, knowledgeable staff. In other words, the dream place to present! I know it all sounds so reasonable, but sometimes I arrive at a store and find the staff is blasé, they haven’t ordered any of my books (including the book on the topic I’m teaching), the room isn’t set up, etc., which makes me appreciate those shops that do it right even more! Heidi and her staff really know how to show a sex educator a good time and they have an absolutely beautiful store—a must-see for anyone traveling to Sydney!!
Next Up: Melbourne, which was so much fun it has to be split into multiple posts!