Bill Brent, a prolific author of sex-positive literature and a member of San Francisco's alternative sexuality communities, died during the weekend of August 18-19. He ended his life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge after a long struggle with depression and chronic pain. He was 52.
Mr. Brent was involved in the Bay Area bisexual, BDSM, Black Leather Wings radical faerie, and pro-sex literary communities in the 1990s. He published The Black Book – one of the first queer and alternative sexuality directories – and edited or contributed to more than 30 erotic anthologies.
"Bill was a leader in the fin de siecle San Francisco erotic and sex radical renaissance in countless ways," said author Susie Bright, former editor of On Our Backs. "He published so many great people, he was endlessly generous, and a devoted literature person in every way."
Mr. Brent was born July 17, 1960, and grew up mainly in the East Bay. Recalling his less than happy childhood he once wrote, "[San Francisco] was my home away from home, that suburban hell where I'd spent most of the 1970s in a deep depression knowing that I was a freak, a rebel, an outcast every time I boarded the bus for the lunatic asylum called high school."
Mr. Brent attended San Francisco State University in the late 1970s, where he studied theater arts. He got involved in the punk rock scene and began to frequent gay sex venues in the city. After college he performed with Bay Area drama groups, tap danced, and helped start a theater company.
In the late 1980s Mr. Brent began volunteering with San Francisco Sex Information. Noting the lack of a comprehensive compilation of sex-positive resources, he produced the first of six editions of The Black Book in 1992, which he described as "a resource for everyone sexual in the 'other' category – everyone who wasn't married and having children, basically."
"Bill lived his whole life never apologizing for two important things: who he was and what he was into," said longtime friend and colleague Thomas Roche. "He didn't hide his bisexuality from the gay community. Now many people prefer the less restrictive, more inclusive, and for many more descriptive term 'queer.' But Bill is one of the people who helped invent that queer identity, well before it was fashionable. He helped show a bunch of people just how much their own rights to their own identities could matter." ...
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Workers preparing historic Whiskey Row buildings for interior demolition have discovered what appears to be the remnants of a sado-masochistic swingers club, abandoned for decades.
"This is the weirdest I've ever found," said Greg Harris, the superintendent of the project for Sullivan-Cozart.
Two floors below Main Street, a large black and white logo displays the word "LATEX," presumably the name of the club, painted on the century old wall.
From deep inside the subterranean blackness, a series of oil paintings depict a series of bizarre images, sexual and violent.
"Very disturbing," Harris said.
Below one painting, a piece of equipment that appears fit for a torture chamber remains. A wooden rack large enough for one or two people includes a headrest and a rusted chain that can be turned by a handle. A gear resembling a saw blade is connected to the handle.
Workers found sheets of plastic that they presume separated the sub-basement into different rooms, candles, a disintegrated couch, a mysterious piece of cloth draped over a table and chair and another chair - covered in cobwebs and in a slow decay. ...
To call Fifty Shades of Grey a literary and pop culture sensation would be nothing short of an understatement. E.L. James' erotic trilogy about a young woman's romantic and sexual entanglement with a wealthy, but complicated, business tycoon and their BDSM relationship has become a phenomenon of unexpected, unparalleled proportions.
Just how big a phenomenon? The books — Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed — have been on the New York Times bestseller list for 25 weeks and currently sit in the top three slots, respectively. The trilogy surpassed the 20 million sales mark in the United States in July (the books have sold over 30 million copies worldwide), broke records previously held by fellow popular series like Harry Potter and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and will soon boast a big screen adaptation from the producers of The Social Network. Not bad for something that merely started out as a piece of Twilight fan fiction.
But while James' powerhouse books have left retailers, movie executives, and readers (even those beyond that embarrassingly named "mommy porn" demographic) satisfied, what about the two groups perhaps most directly affected by the wildly popular saga: erotica writers and the BDSM community? After all, the trilogy has led readers to become increasingly aware and interested in both the once-taboo book genre (Fifty Shades copycat Bared to You has quickly climbed the NY Times bestseller list and more will likely follow) and the once-underground world of BDSM. (Everything from Fifty Shades-themed dating services to sex kits have spawned as a result from the books).
"I've been tracking media for the past 17 years for NCSF and there has never been any kind of reaction like this before," says Susan Wright, a spokesperson for the advocacy group National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. "Look at what a brilliant stonewall this is: Twilight fan fiction to open the conversation."
And it's a conversation that needed to be brought to the masses, Wright says. According to a 2008 study conducted by NCSF, 37.5 percent of respondents in the BDSM community had experienced discrimination, harassment, or violence. Fifty Shades' frankness, says Wright, has helped open up audiences to the civility of the fetish and to the accessibility of erotic novels. "The best thing about the book is that it shows the discussion," she says. "Women who have never really thought about [BDSM] can go, 'Wow, that does sound kind of appealing' and realize that these sex games are available to anyone."
Odd to think of a work of fiction as a learning tool, but BDSM advocates tell Hollywood.com that those eager to enter into the community are using Fifty Shades of Grey — which introduces not only certain psychological aspects of BDSM relationships, but also sex devices like Ben-Wah balls and riding crops — as BDSM 101. "This book is a catalyst," Guy Sanders (better known as Sir Guy), board member and media representative for the nation's largest and longest-running BDSM support and education group, The Eulenspiegel Society, says. "Now maybe it will be more open and there won't be as much prejudice against it and we may have an opportunity to make better strides as far as the understanding of the people in these practices. The opportunity for us to educate people."
Especially when audiences could only rely on the entertainment industry's inaccurate portrayals of the fetish prior to the franchise's release. "[Fifty Shades] will put a different face on BDSM," says Sanders, who does, however, praise BDSM-friendly work like 9 1/2 Weeks and Secretary. "When you look at a lot of these crime shows, even the news media, whenever BDSM is depicted, the people in it are dysfunctional, they are sexual deviants or serial killers or something along those lines. With this book and the people that have found interest in it, you'll find that the guy next door might be involved, the principal at your school, the police officer on your beat, your psychologist, your lawyer might all be participants in [BDSM], so it might open up the human side of BDSM that it's not some bizarre, secret, hidden thing." ...
So a few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about the Showtime reality show “Polyamory: Married and Dating” and, you know, had some fun with it. After all, it is a show about a bunch of people having sex with a bunch of people of other. Fun.
Anyway, little did I know that real polyamorous people — you know, those not having sex on camera for money — are, in large part, completely, 100 percent “in the closet.” Their families don’t know. Their employers don’t know. No one knows. Even two people on the Showtime show were closeted (at least until the show aired, duh).
Why? Because they’re fearful their families would shun them, their employers would fire them, everyone will look at them like sex-crazed fiends.
As it turns out …
“This lifestyle choice isn’t all hedonism and group sex,” one “poly” person told me via Facebook. “It’s mostly based on all the normal, mundane yet wonderful stuff you ‘monos’ experience on a daily basis (like) grocery shopping, TV, spats over who has to mow the lawn. I felt compelled to let you know that the ‘everyone sleeps with everyone’ style of polyamory depicted in the show is not indicative of every poly relationship out there.”
Another poly person echoes the point.
“It is like any other group dynamic,” she said. “OK, so that is over-simplifying it, but it is true.”
And both these people were adamant about staying anonymous.
“I myself am afraid to ‘come out’ as poly at my place of work for fear that someone’s small-minded judgement might cost me my job,” one said.
Same goes for the other person, who at first posted her thoughts on my Facebook page.
“I realized that it may cause problems where I work,” she said. “I have no problem answering any questions about it, but I work for the state and, well, you understand, I hope.”
The RCMP is investigating Brown's connection to the photos.
But the man said several officers — bearing a warrant that said the search was being carried out as part of an investigation into alleged defamatory libel — raided his home and seized several computers and cell phones.
The man said the officers told his wife that he was likely cheating on her because he had been lurking on the website where he found the photos of Brown.
"After assisting the RCMP regarding this matter we have been targeted by those in Organized Crime Section," the man wrote in a letter to CBC News. ...
DENVER (AP) - The Denver City Council is rejecting a $42,500 settlement with a swingers club over alleged use of excessive police force.
Lawyers for the Scarlet Ranch swingers club claim Denver police used unreasonable force during a May 2010 raid on the club.
According to the Denver Post, the suit filed last year claims at least 10 police officers raided the club without a warrant, injured one of the members and stole a videotape that had captured the raid on the club's surveillance system.
VANCOUVER -- Government and police watchdog groups are concerned a police raid at the home of a man connected with a whistle-blower Internet blog targeting RCMP corruption was politically motivated.
About a half-dozen officers, using a warrant for defamatory libel, seized several computers and cellphones from the man, who helped to set up the Re-Sergeance Alliance blog site. He also recently assisted the Mounties in finding online photos of Coquitlam, B.C., RCMP Cpl. Jim Brown engaged in graphic S&M activities.
Brown, who was involved in the investigation into serial killer pig farmer Robert Pickton, was cleared of wrongdoing by the force in 2010 before a new probe was ordered in July.
Michael Vonn, policy director for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said this type of warrant is rarely used.
“Almost invariably when it’s invoked, it’s a critic of the police,’’ Vonn said. “This should concern all Canadians.”
Police investigating a crime against themselves creates “a massive accountability deficit here.”
Lawyer Cameron Ward, who is representing the families of Pickton’s victims at the Missing Women Inquiry, is concerned officers involved in the raid were aware of his private discussions with the suspect.
“I’m concerned with whether the RCMP have been intercepting my communications and, more importantly, why such a response was deemed necessary,’’ Ward said. ...