Marriage & Family Counseling??

I feel like I am all over the place. But in the past few weeks I have become increasingly interested in being a marriage and family counselor. Here is part of the statement I have written for one school:

<!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1791491579 18 0 131231 0;} @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1791491579 18 0 131231 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝";} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝";} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}  –>“I have navigated complex and non-traditional intimate relationships and desire to work with other couples and families navigating non-traditional and alternative relationship structures. In the course of this navigation, I have had a difficult time finding a therapist who could understand and validate my experiences, perspectives, and feelings. I feel a sense of hope in thinking about being the therapist I have always wanted for myself...

<!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:78; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1791491579 18 0 131231 0;} @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1107305727 0 0 415 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝";} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS 明朝";} @page WordSection1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.0in 1.0in 1.0in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;II hope to contribute to the field after finishing the program by being a progressive, open-minded, and compassionate therapist for individuals, couples, and families choosing alternative and non-conforming relationship structures. I wish to be an advocate for those in less traditional relationships and help people in these relationships understand that their needs and desires are valid and to subsequently help them have the healthiest relationships possible.”
I feel into this. Comparing to how a PhD program makes me feel, this seems like a better fit for me. I want to have a highly practical degree, with which I feel like I can make a difference, a client at a time. The compassion and interpersonal skills that counseling takes seem to be natural inclinations of mine. My biggest concern with a Marriage & Family program is the foundation which, from what I know, is highly monoga-normative. I am fairly confident that my own background will help balance out those messages and frameworks. Now I am just stressed out trying to get applications done by the priority deadlines (early to mid January). But I am grateful that I have a life where I can investigate, research, and follow the things that give me pleasure.

Profiting from Stripping: Expectations & Entitlement

I posted a review of “Strip City” a few days ago. Remember this quote?

“In every strip club I’ve been to, the stage is a sacred space. Girls Only. Men can approach the side of the stage to tip, but that’s it…The sanctity of the stage is highly symbolic- like a woman’s virtue, her bedroom, her sex- violate it and you violate her.” (p158-9)

It seems like a lot of girls I work with feel extremely entitled to earning well above $20 an hour; if they are earning closer to $40 an hour they stop complaining.

My first reaction to hearing this is “Why do you feel so entitled to earning so much money? It is well above minimum wage, and you only work part-time. Stop complaining!”

And then I realize: so many girls that I have met view their bodies as private or off-limits, and in order to display their “virtue,” their “private” parts, they must be well compensated. And I realize that this is in part due to the history of strip tease and strip. Our puritanical roots tell us that our bodies are shameful. In order to see other naked bodies, people have long been willing to pay well. (I also fully validate the idea that everyone has their own physical, spiritual, and other boundaries, and for some dancers, showing their pussy is crossing a boundary.)

For me, I expect to leave work with a substantial amount of cash because of the stigmatized and taboo nature of stripping and because of the fact that I am not an employee and so do not receive an hourly wage or benefits. There has to be substantial pros to stripping to make it worth it to me to forgo social normalcy and employee benefits I could find working at the gym or restaurant. The amount of money that I have the potential to make is one of those pros. (The other pros being those I have discussed in other posts: achieving a state of “flow,” being an exhibitionist, being around other naked women, exercising, socializing, getting pretty for work, etc.)

For better or worse, or for simply what it’s worth, I just don’t really view my body, or anyone else’s, as sacred. My body is a body. I value it and nourish it and take care of it. Just as I value other people’s bodies. But I don’t see them as shameful or dirty. And so I don’t expect to be paid simply for getting naked. I understand, however, that that is precisely why I am getting paid: because I am getting naked and because it is a taboo and socially unacceptable form of work, there aren’t as many people willing to do it. So I can reap the benefits of a larger societal issue with slut-shaming and sex negativity.

Ideally, I think sex work, including stripping, would get paid wages comparable to other high-end service industry work. There were would be hourly wages, benefits, sick days, etc. And these wages might (and probably would) still be higher because of the high value of the work involved. But it is fascinating to me that high pay is expected purely because of the fact that there is a naked pussy, versus the fact that the work is taboo and doesn’t provide hourly wages or other benefits given to employees.

Happy Birthday to J!

Happy Birthday to a sexy, funny, intelligent, thoughtful, amazing, communicative, compassionate, inquisitive, adventurous, and all-around rockin’ individual and partner!
I hope that this year is even more wonderful than your previous years! And I am so excited to be sharing it with you 😀
Here’s to some fabulous sexy time to celebrate!
Love, K

Dreams & Implications

All of my sexual dreams from the past couple of weeks include women. There is my good friend dressed in a hot garter set, ordering me around, not letting me come until she says so. There’s another one I can’t quite remember. It’s too fuzzy. (Darn!) And then one with a woman I just met, who I don’t feel attracted to when I see her, but in the dream it was really fun and sexy. We wrestled on the floor, laughing and grinding. It was hot.

I have been so into ladies and lady sex. My desire for emotional and physical intimacy with women is back.

I lost my romantic inclinations toward women for a couple months. But in the past month or so, they have come roaring back to life. Why? I don’t really know. Maybe because I have finally shaken off the last vestiges of the summer drama and my heart is ready again to trust women and to be with them. Whatever the reason, I take my sexy lady dreams to be an indication that my subconscious is diggin’ the lady vibe again. Which makes me really happy. And horny.

Also, I had a pretty phenomenal dream in which I tell my parents that I am dancing. In my dream, my mom takes it pretty well. She is concerned, but she receives it well, without judgement or blame or guilt or shaming. And my conversation I have had with her since my dream, I have this state of mind that she already knows and I feel so much more comfortable talking about other things and not stressing out about the fact that she doesn’t know that I dance. It’s quite nice to have that kind of release and resolution, even if it wasn’t “real” (it was still real for me even though it didn’t actually involve my mom).

Bam! 😀

Follow-Up Post: Polyamory Identity/Orientation

Dan Savage posted this today:

Is Polyamory a Sexual Orientation?

Posted by on Mon, Nov 26, 2012 at 10:23 AM

I said “no” in last week’s Savage Love, kicking off a shitstorm in the comments thread, in my e-mail inbox, and here and there on the interwebs. (Even the right-wing nutjobs have taken notice.) At least one poly person agrees with me:

There are a few problems with describing polyamory as a sexual orientation. The first of which is that polyamory is not sexual. Polyamory is about relationships, honesty, and intimacy. Look back at the definitions given by Loving More. Not a single one mentions sex. Calling polyamory a sexual orientation is a joke.
Secondly, polyamory is not an orientation. Polyamory is not a physical desire or a feeling. While there is not complete agreement on what polyamory is, there is clear agreement about it isn’t. And it isn’t just an attraction to multiple people. As Shaun pointed out, if you define polyamory as a feeling or an inclination, then half of the country is polyamorous, which is an absurd result. Almost everyone feels attraction for multiple people at the same time. This does not make them polyamorous.
A third problem with describing poly as a sexual orientation is that being poly is nothing like being GLB. Being GLB is about the type of person to whom you are sexually attracted. Being polyamorous is about the amount of people you love. Describing polyamory as a sexual orientation suggests a false equivalence between the groups, and seems like an attempt to coopt the sympathy that the GLBT community has built up.

I’m hearing from lots of poly folks who disagree. I’m going to let them have their say in next week’s Savage Love.

Thank you, Dan, for giving J and I a voice in the camp that disagrees with your view. 

A big thing that I find issue with here is that polyamory, to me, is not a sexual orientation, but rather, a relationship orientation to have Dan continuing to describe it as a “sexual orientation” is a tad annoying for me. An individual can “orient” poly and, for whatever reason (by choice or circumstance), have one partner. I really appreciate Anita Wagner Illig’s comment from Dan’s post. A lot of what she wrote resonates with my own perspectives, and I find her explanation quite articulate: 

Dan, thanks for being open to all the feedback, including my own, and thanks for giving our community the opportunity to address this question in your next column.

I agree, as I did in my blog post, that polyamory is not per se sexual orientation. And you are quite right that PP uses the word poly incorrectly. Still, I don’t want to be too hard on poor PP, he has enough to deal with without our taking him to task for misusing words. I created and moderated a very large yahoogroup for several years that serves people in PP’s situation (LivingPolyMono). I have seen SO many people come into the polyamory community trying to work out this kind of conflict, and I know we will continue to see it happen as more and more people realize that monogamy isn’t their only option.

As to the question of orientation, it’s important to acknowledge that for a significant number of polyamorists, having more than one romantic partner with everyone’s knowledge and consent truly is something they experience as a part of who they are. Like being gay, it doesn’t go away if they happen not to have other partners at any given time, so it’s not to them about what they do. It’s still how they see themselves, the way they frame their lives, or at least the part of their lives that have to do with love and intimate romance. Yes, they can make a choice to not have other partners. Some do so more comfortably than others do. Some have happy monogamous relationships regardless – and some don’t. The choice is definitely much more difficult for some than for others. And just as regardless of your sexual orientation you can choose not to partner with men, polyamorists can choose not to partner with more than one – but it doesn’t change their orientation toward nonmonogamy.

I believe we need new language for this. Sexual relationship orientation or romantic relationship orientation is a mouth full, but it’s all I’ve got. I’ve been using those terms to refer to myself for lack of anything better for a few years now.

When New Desires Emerge

At the recommendation by a friend a while ago, J and I took this interactive sex questionnaire. At the time we didn’t have a whole lot that took us by surprise. We are usually pretty honest about desires and fantasies that come up.

Well last night we took it again. And there were a couple of new things!! I imagine this questionnaire would be fun to take together every six months or so to find out if new desires have emerged for someone and hadn’t yet been verbalized.

The most surprising one (to both of us) is that we both desired me (K) to be slapped during sex. Slapped on the face. SLAPPED! Haha! We both kind of looked at each other, and were like, Yeah! That could be hot!

Well during a raunch session last night I was wrestling a little with J, holding his arms back while I rode him. He whispered excitedly to me, I want to slap you! I said Do it! He forcefully sat up, and slapped me. It was a rush!! I told him to do it again, and he did. The anticipation, the physical sting, and the rush of endorphins afterward was awesome! 

You never know when a new exciting thing will be discovered. I am not sure how far this physical pain thing will extend for me (I already knew I like really hard spanks and I like my boobs squeezed pretty hard), but so far it’s all been really positive! I like it as part of my healthy sexual diet. I don’t want to be slapped every time we have sex or spanked every time for that matter. But as part of our explorations and taking part in the full spectrum of sexual experience, it’s pretty great!

Poly: Orientation or Identity?

J and I had a lively conversation about whether poly was an identity or orientation sparked by Dan Savage’s recent column responding to someone who identified as “a poly.” Dan is adamant that poly is a relationship structure, and that you choose to have a poly relationship; no one is “a poly” according to Dan. He says that if you have a preference for poly it can be overcome, because it is simply a preference and thus requires a simple decision. We disagree, to say the least. Of course poly is a relationship structure, but it can be much more than that for many people (in our opinion). (We both contributed to this post, by the way!)

What makes an identity versus an orientation? Here are some thoughts we had from our very long conversation about it:

-An orientation seems like an immutable, innate characteristic someone is born with. (We’re still thinking about this one. Sexual orientation, for example, is often thought of as something you are born with, but my experience alone makes me question this. Was I always bisexual, since I was born? I don’t feel like I “chose” that orientation, but that I discovered it. Sexual orientation is also often described as fluid… So this one is confusing!)

-An identity seems like something you can choose based on an orientation, or something that you choose based on a group or culture you are a part of. Being part of different cultures or groups can mean you identify with those groups. Maybe you identify as a nerd, a foodie, or a runner.

-It definitely seems like some people “orient” poly. They express feeling like they have felt poly all their lives. J and some other people we have met fall more into this camp. J expresses that he felt a lot of dissonance with monogamy for most of his dating life, and it feels much more natural now in an open/poly relationship. He could never go back to monogamy because it just feels so wrong for him.

-Other people (like K) seem to choose poly as an identity based on ideas and culture. I (K) don’t feel innately poly, even though I don’t think I could ever be monogamous again (just to make our conversation a little more puzzling). I identify more with with the culture and ideas and values of polyamory and so I identify in this way.

-Something we also talked about was whether humans are “blank slates” with regards to their preferences/orientations for polyamory or monogamy. As J asked, if I don’t feel innately poly, do I feel innately monogamous? My answer is No. So do some come into this world “pre-wired” for one or the other? Are some people more heavily socialized for one or the other? (Nature versus nurture?) One of my ideas is that humans have an innate capacity to love multiple people, and that our social and cultural values around monogamy is what shapes our brains to understand that you can only have one romantic love at a time. I think I may have just been hit a little harder by all of that socialization, because even though I logically agree with poly values and hold them as my own, I have a lot of gut-level reactions that run counter to those values.

-It seems like it would make sense that just as gender or sexual orientation could be fluid throughout someone’s life, that someone’s relationship preferences could also be fluid throughout their life. Maybe for two years you prefer monogamy and then later prefer a poly structure. Similarly, it seems like within the open or poly community there is a spectrum of feelings on identity or orientation. Someone may be in a poly relationship because they feel like they are innately poly and simply could not operate romantically any other way, and someone else may choose to live a poly lifestyle even though all of their deeper-seated/right brain reactions make it difficult because of monogamy norms and socialization.

-Part of what has helped me make these distinctions is the ease in which J and other people we have met express their poly selves. Jealousy comes up, but it’s very rarely debilitating for people who “orient” poly. Poly principles are more easily believed and adhered to, rather than having to experience specific situations and people and having to get comfortable with each new thing. I feel like I have to do a lot more internal work to have a similar outward expression of poly, like I am having to rewire my right brain to match up with my left.

Repost: 15 Things You Should Give Up to Be Happy

I have this hanging on our fridge after seeing a million Facebook friends post it a year ago. I think it is a wonderful reminder. J is adamant that the person who wrote it is poly. It definitely fits within an open relationship framework. I try to read it every day and Zen out. The hardest ones for me are 2, 9, 11, 14, and 15. It’s a process, baby. Below is the text, and the above link will take you straight to the original posting of it.


15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy

Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier. We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering – and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress free and happy – we cling on to them. Not anymore. Starting today we will give up on all those things that no longer serve us, and we will embrace change. Ready? Here we go:

1. Give up your need to always be right

 There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?

2. Give up your need for control

Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

3. Give up on blame

 Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk

 Oh my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.
“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle

5. Give up your limiting beliefs

about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!
“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” Elly Roselle

6. Give up complaining

 Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, maaany things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

7. Give up the luxury of criticism

Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.

8. Give up your need to impress others

Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take off all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

9. Give up your resistance to change

 Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” 
Joseph Campbell

10. Give up labels

 Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open. “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

11. Give up on your fears

Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place.
“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
 Franklin D. Roosevelt

12. Give up your excuses

Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.

13. Give up the past

I know, I know. It’s hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

14. Give up attachment

This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too, (it still is) but it’s not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another,  attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.

15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations

Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually they forget about themselves.  You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.

Strip City: A Stripper’s Farewell Journey Across America

I finished this one: it was pretty excellent. Burana is an awesome writer, and even though I don’t agree with some of her perspectives on stripping (as they don’t resonate with me), she really does capture a lot of the complexities that stripping entails. There are a lot of passages that spoke to me in different ways, and while I would want to type them all up here (okay, I practically did type them all up- I couldn’t help it!), it would take too long. Although I could recap her story and talk about what I thought in detail, it sounds more enriching for me to go back through and find the places that meant something to me. So here they are.

These first three passages are ones I take issue with, because I think it shows some differences in how I think about my body and how I share it with people while I dance compared to how she thinks about these things. She seems to have some different ideas about female virtue and what exposed genitals mean than I do. I think these passages could resonate with a lot of dancers who haven’t worked through societal messages about female purity and virtue and thus may feel “dirty” or guilty working in strip clubs:

“In every strip club I’ve been to, the stage is a sacred space. Girls Only. Men can approach the side of the stage to tip, but that’s it…The sanctity of the stage is highly symbolic- like a woman’s virtue, her bedroom, her sex- violate it and you violate her.” (p158-9)

Questioning nude strip clubs where dancers do “spread shows” (dancers show their genitalia to customers): “I wonder about the intangibles: Is it frightening to have so many men get close to you at one time? What is it like to go home after spenging the night bouncing your crotch over the faces of people you don’t know? How long does it take to settle back into your body, because you’d have to go pretty far away in order to be that exposed for that long, wouldn’t you?” (p 162)

“Retail vagina…I feel as if the roiling in the pit of my stomach is what has queered my complexion. Retail vagina. That’s got to be what’s at the core of my unease with working nude, at least at a ‘spread club’…” (p 164)

The rest of these passages I love; they resonated with me and my experiences so far, as well as with ideas that I have thought about:

“It takes real nerve for a woman to come to a strip club and it’s a form of female misbehavior I think should be richly rewarded. So I work it-belly to belly, breast to breast. I nuzzle her neck, inhaling her scent. It’s so rare to get any kind of approval from women not involved in this line of wok, I want to draw her excitement deep into my lungs, as if to keep it with me always. If I rubbed up against this woman any harder, I’d end up standing behind her, and she really seems to enjoy it. Here’s to claiming new territory, sweetie. Sisterhood is powerful.” (p84)

“After days and nights of listening to couched offers, half-sincere compliments, and flat-out lies, both giving and receiving, I am desperate to hear soemthing wholly-felt and true.” (p120)

“Stripping takes out of me things that I didn’t even realize I had. The near-nudity isn’t the problem, or the physical vulnerability, or working well outside the margins of acceptable female behavior. It’s the damn neediness: Angry men scowling at me like they can buy me for a dollar, lonely men professing love after a ten-minute chat with the specter of femininity that wafts before them, and confused and desperate men convinced that only if they could get a girl to do what they ask, however outlandish, things will be better somehow.” (p121)

With regards to striptease and burlesque dancing: “Stripping today is more athletic- less subtle and more high energy. We’re in an accelerated culture now. Who’s got ten minutes to spend taking off a glove?” (p141)

“The nine o’clock sun…sneaks in behind the partition and gleams off of the girl’s deeply tanned flank. Her upper body is rather petite- under her shiny red PVC teddy, she has no breasts to speak of, and her face is a little girl’s, but her ankles are thick, her calves sturdy and her thighs firm and mighty. The stuff of R. Crumb’s dreams, the inspiration for a thousand hiphop songs. This girl is a masterpiece. Mother Nature’s magnum opus.” (p168)

Applying at the Lusty Lady in SF: “The only thing dancers have to do is dance naked on the stage behind glass. They earn an hourly wage, so there is no hustling for tips, and many of the dancers are artists, activists, and college students working their way through school…The application is full of unusual questions: How do you feel about men’s sexuality? How do you feel about yourown? Are you comfortable with your body?” (p199)

“Dancing together, naked, side-by-side onstage, we Lusties grow very aware of the individual beauty of our bodies. Not having to compete with one another for tips, we become friends. We become agents of our own path.” (p204)

“I had always lived uncomfortably with the notion that making sex a significant area of inquiry meant that you were a bimbo, a head case, or a person with no better bargaining chip. The implication was that a woman had to choose between her sexuality and her credibility- you couldn’t have both….Like every woman in this country, I came of age sexually bent under the weight of guilt and judgement. My sexuality was something I knew how to use for financial advantage, but enjoying it to the fullest was a foreign concept.” (p204)

“…I couldn’t believe dancers everywhere weren’t up in arms about fees and tip-outs, but traveling the country has mellowed me. Not everyone can tilt at windmills, and most dancers just want to make their money with as little fanfare and frustration as possible.” (p246)

“I haven’t written anything since June. I don’t have the mental energy to spare. My thoughts are absorbed in processing, organizing, evaluating what is happening to me, all that I’m seeing. I don’t mind it being this way, exactly. In fact, it’s kind of nice, like I’ve been given a break from adulthood. My mind has veered away from the demands of the straight world and has lapsed into a luxuriant, meditative dumbness, a lazy inward gaze. My perception is right on, my observations acute, but my intake is skewed. It’s as if everything I see, hear, or touch is cushioned by a layer of cotton batting. Some knob has been twiddled, making the world appear to operate on a several second delay.” (p262)

And probably my most favorite passage near the end of her book:
“Whatever compulsion I’ve got that makes me love stripping, this is that it sounds like. I don’t know if it’s skill, comfort, risk, dissociation, or a combination of them all that, in rare moments, makes stripping seem like a borderline ecstatic state. But I know I’m having one of those moments now. When it just feels right. Righteous. At times like this, I can believe that I have all the hearsts in the room gathered into the palm of my hand. I will never get old. I will never know harm…
It’s like I’m suspended in a narcotic bubble, yet I’m more fiercely aware and alive than I’ve ever felt…It’s indescribable bliss resting on the blade of a knife, the most strange and foreign place I was ever meant to be. I would be helpless to try to explain it, but if had ever known that sensation, you’d never want to leave that warm, wet spot on the lip of the maw.” (p300)