Like crouching in a dimly lit, sticky-floored booth, waiting for a dick to poke through a splintery hole, Mike Miksche finds writing about sex to be a lonely process.
The sex columnist (who writes Daily Xtra’s Hole and Corner) and author of the novel Paris Demands was in town for the 2015 Folsom Street Fair when he decided to put together a public reading. “I contacted a bookstore in the Castro and told them I wanted to do a BDSM and kink-themed reading,” he says. “Then I contacted people I really admire — Janet Hardy, Madison Young, and a bunch of people I’d never met — and they all said ‘yes.’”
“When you’re writing about sex, it can feel isolating in a way,” he says. “There’s still so much stigma. So I think [what I liked best about] the San Francisco reading was the connection I had with the other writers.” The connection was enough to motivate him to make this reading the first in a series. Called Radicals, the events bring together dirty writers to read on sex-related themes in sex-positive settings.
In November he arranged a Radicals reading at New York City’s famous leather bar, The Eagle. The theme was public sex and kink. He says the audience responded well, and he again noticed a bond between the readers. “It’s been interesting to see how people have collaborated with each other after we’ve done a reading . . . it’s kind of creating this network of like-minded people,” he says.
Clearly hungry for more of that vibe, Miksche is already planning to host another Radicals. The first event in Canada, it will be held at Remington’s strip club — which has Miksche all hot and bothered. “The fact that it’s at Remington’s is really exciting — Remington’s has been a big part of my upbringing,” he says with a laugh. “I’ve spent an incredible amount of time there.”
For this, the third event in the series, he’s pulled together some writers that he admires. In addition to Miksche, the roster includes Bruce LaBruce, Sasha Van Bon Bon, Francisco Ibáñez-Carrasco, Sky Gilbert, Shawn Syms, Flare Smyth and Jon Pressick.
The theme will be sex cinema, video and porn. “I think sex cinemas are so surreal and inspiring,” he says. “There are a lot of, kind of, straight men there, [and] there are a lot of gay men there. There’s a lot of just jerking off. There’s some mutual masturbation. Some oral sex. There’s certain things that happen there. I’ve seen people fucking, but it’s not very common.
“It’s a very interesting thing and it’s definitely something that’s dying,” he says, citing the various sex cinemas that have closed down (and some that soon will) in Toronto. “I want to pay homage to them and the porn that they play.”
While he hopes that some of the readings will help create a conversation around the theme, he prefers to give his readers free rein. “I will let somebody read anything that’s sex-positive,” he says. “[And that can be] fiction, non-fiction, an anecdote, something they wrote earlier that morning, something they published 20 years ago — it’s very, very open.”
Shawn Syms is the author of the short story collection Nothing Looks Familiar. He will be reading a passage from his novel-in-progress called Money Changes Everything. It follows two best friends, one of whom is a compulsive gambler, and the other is into the fetish of financial domination (a relationship where the submissive gives over control of his or her finances to the dominant).
He plans to read a particularly juicy excerpt. “There’s a very intense online financial domination session from the book that I will be reading,” he says. “And it’s the first time I’ll be reading from the book so I’m excited about it.”
His reading only loosely follows the theme — in the sense that the action takes place mostly on webcam — but he says it will fit well with the event. “I do think it’s interesting to talk about sex and money in a kind of fetishistic way and in the context of an event taking place at a strip club — which is all about sex and money,” he says.
A few little touches may help ensure an appropriately inappropriate mood on the night of the event. Porn will play on various screens as attendees file in and take their seats. Strippers will mingle with the crowd and solicit private dances during the event. And Miksche makes a point of mentioning that the Yonge Street Cinemas are nearby, adding, “That’s probably where I’ll end up after the reading.”
(Radicals: Sex Cinemas, Video and Porn
Wednesday, Dec 9, 2015, 7pm
Remington’s, 379 Yonge St, Toronto