How to Watch Porn in India

Public Service Announcement: This is an emergency advice column for Karnataka state legislators involved in the so-called #porngate scandal.

I know, I know… sometimes a boy needs his, er, supplemental stimulus.  But you live in a neo-Puritan society.   So:

1. First things first: Look over your shoulder to see if any television cameras are behind you. Scope out the ceiling, too. No need to be paranoid, but if that lady in the painting on your wall seems to be looking right at you, maybe she is. So check out her backside. You’re a voyeur, not an exhibitionist, right? Right??

2. Don’t settle for less. It’s the 2010s, for goodness’ sake. Globalization has arrived, and with it, quality. Why bother with grainy footage of grungy firangs at raves? That’s like watching bootlegged Betamax quality porn shot in the suburbs of Houston with 1970s hair. Eww. Instead, send your driver to get quality Bangkok or Mal-Kerala flicks from your local DVD-wallah’s not-so-secret stash.

3. Mobile phone videos are crap. Why do you think the Japanese invented 40-inch screens that can be mounted on the ceiling above your bed? Invest in an HDTV and order some of those blue films via satellite. Then lie back, relax, and enjoy the show. Just make sure the carpenter screws everything in nice and tight. Nothing ruins a good wank like a large appliance falling on your, er, head.

4. Learn about consent. Rape isn’t sex, any more than a laddoo is a vada. So know the difference. There’s a big difference between rape for the camera, and consensual well-acted sex for the camera. Become a discerning connoisseur. Plus, hey, actual sex between consenting adults is still legal! At least in some places. Unless you made it illegal.

4a: Try not to make sex illegal. Especially not the kind you like to wank to.

5. Branch out. Don’t get stuck in a rut of watching skinny trafficked underage girls getting raped by johns. (See #4.) Check out the women who are in charge of their own porn careers; now that’s hot. Look at feminist porn, gay porn, and other sex-radical empowerment-oriented porn. Some of it is fantastic. You’ll be way ahead of the curve, so you can impress your friends by sharing new links with them on their mobile phones.

6. If you want to host a viewing party, do it in the privacy of your home. (Three guys huddled over a phone in a legislative chamber is always a sign of something going on.) For bonus party points, order in some pakoras, popcorn, and Pabst.

What’s Pabst? It’s imported. Tastes like urine. You’re into golden showers, right?

No? Wait, then why did you act like you wanted the whole world to piss on you?

I’m so confused.

Not like this.

*

Lusting for more? See my #porngate article on Firstpost: The Dirty Picture: How not to be a sex hypocrite.

Desi Smut Makes the News!


I’m interviewed in The Week magazine along with other desi women who write sexily. Click here to read the full articleE-rotica, by Nikita Doval. Tagline: Writing about sex is also a powerful form of dissent for the growing breed of women bloggers.

Here’s the full text of Nikita’s email interview with me.

1) How did you get started on the journey of erotica writing?

I’ve been writing ever since I was a child and that included various kinds of dreams, fantasies, and stories. I never saw a reason to shy away from or shut off any kind of experience.

Sexy writing was a key part of my own sexual awakening; I learned which stories turned me on and which left me cold. I was reading and fantasizing about lesbians and sadomasochism for many years before I ever fucked a girl or felt a whip.  I was also lucky to be in a pro-sex feminist milieu where people like Susie Bright and Pat Califia were articulating why it’s important for women and queer people to write our own desires.

The more reading I did, the more I realized I was at least as good a writer as a lot of people whose stories were getting published.  So I started putting more effort into writing and finishing the stories in my head, instead of getting, um, distracted along the way!

I write the stories that I myself find hot and want to masturbate to.  I also write reflections on things that come up for me in my own sexual life; for example I just wrote and performed a piece called Hurting that talks about different levels of sexual, spiritual, and emotional pain.

As I gain a readership, I try to be conscious of including different gender orientations, races, and body types in my stories, because a lot of porn, whether written or visual, is very boring and stereotypical in that way.  The women are always beautiful and light-skinned and skinny with big breasts, for example.  Yawn.

2) How do you define erotica writing? Most people perceive there to be little difference between writing about sex and erotic writing. How would you differentiate the two? Some other writers I spoke to thought of erotic writing as a play of words, a play of language while they described their body’s sensations to its immediate environment, its thoughts to what was happening around it. How do you describe your erotic writings?

I do not differentiate. I write porn, erotica, smut, call it whatever you want, as well as stories where the sex is not the main point, and stories that don’t happen to have sex in them.  I am suspicious of any very strict attempt to delineate erotica from porn. That stinks of the old “good” vs “bad” sex duality.   I subscribe to Advaita (nondualism)!

I guess people say erotica is more about mood.  To me, at the end of the day it’s about fucking and whatever gets you hot is just a means to that.  Some people are turned on by a candle by the bedside, others prefer their candle to be dripping wax on their nipples. It’s all good; why should there be judgment that one way of setting the mood is “erotic” and one is “pornographic”?

3) We have had a fairly rich history of erotica be it in our bhakti traditions or of course the Kama Sutra but in the modern day and age erotica has all but fallen off our radar. Why do you think that happened? Do Indian writers struggle to find a balance between describing sex and celebrating the body’s reaction to it?

Clearly the cleaning-up of Indian sexuality was a response to colonialist ideas. The goraas came to India and were shocked to see women with bare breasts, men who slept with men, gods who had erotic lives, etc. Indian patriarchs trying to impress the goraas then bought into this and tried to show they were “civilized,” not “barbaric,” by covering up and brushing away certain practices, and trying to make Indian sexuality conform to Victorian morality. Partha Chatterjee lays this out pretty clearly in his influential postcolonial theory book, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories.  A lot of queer historians and academics are covering this territory too.

I don’t think people have ever stopped wanting to access erotic images or stories.  Bollywood is basically soft porn.  Even the tiniest town in India has a semi-secret video counter where guys can go to get ripped-off porno DVDs.  Because of patriarchal ideas and the confinement to the home, women haven’t had as much access as consumers of sexual material.

But now, as a wider swath of Indian women have access to the Internet and some leisure time, they’re looking for that material. Not much is aimed toward their tastes, of course, and most women don’t want to look at exploitative videos of semi-starved girls living in virtual slavery who are trafficked in from Nepal to be on sexcams — any more than they want to walk into the red-light districts of the metros.  They want stories they can relate to.  So the written word is filling that need.

My readers are all over the gender map.  Who I really write for is queer and transgender people of color all over the world.  But I’m happy if others get their rocks off, too.

4) Two years ago we had an anthology of Indian erotica released. Now Zubaan is working on another one. Urrmila Deshpande’s Slither was released to some good reviews. Erotic blogs are increasing in number and so are their followers (Shameless Yonis being one example), to what do you attribute this movement of erotica in the main-stream?

The internet has always been an easy place for people to access erotica because of anonymity. One of the first widely published internet erotica writers was a Sri Lankan American woman, Mary Anne Mohanraj, who has a number of books out now, some erotic and some not.  She’s working on a new erotic collection, DemiMonde, that features South Asian characters in a futuristic world and just raised money for it via Kickstarter.

So the web has always been further ahead on this issue, and Indians are big on the web (thanks IIT!).  Visual porn was the first type of business that figured out how to make money as an internet business. Now the print media in India are catching up.

But Indian writing is very hamstrung by archaic obscenity laws.  It’s exactly the same problem as Section 377.   And the fact that sex toys are not legal, in the land of the Kama Sutra, which explicitly refers to sex toys, is absurd.

These remnants of colonialism are getting weaker and weaker.  In practice, you can go into any cybercafe and walk by a guy who’s in a chatroom trolling for sex or looking at porn online.  You can buy cheap sex toys  made in China or even made in India.  You can read Shameless Yonis from the comfort of your own home!

So why not bring it out into the open?  Yes, we like sex!  There didn’t get to be 1.2 billion of us just like that only.  Haha.

I hope that sex writing can play a role in opening up the dialogue about sexuality, and letting people know that they are not alone in their desires.  Shame about sexuality is a huge problem for us desis, and that’s why more of us need to step up and be shameless role models, especially women.

5) What inspires your erotic writings? What are they influenced by?

I’m blessed with a fantastic range of personal sexual experience and an even more fantastic imagination.  Inspiration is never a problem!

6) Is writing erotica an intensely personal experience or can you separate your writing from your persona?

Sex is an intensely personal experience. Writing of any kind is also intensely personal, but in a different way.

7) What kind of reader feedback do you get? Based on the reactions you get, what is your opinion about sexual maturity of most Indians out there at least when it comes to the written word.

My reader feedback is mostly gratitude, encouragement, and bottomless desire.  I love it.

Yeah, ok, there are some guys out there who think they are perverts — but you know what, I’m probably much more perverted than them!  So the joke’s on them.  I think it’s hilarious when some dude tries to come on to me on Twitter, since (a) what a pathetic pickup medium, and (b) my stuff has BIG OL LESBO written all over it.

8 ) How did you get to be a part of Shameless Yonis?

Kama Spice had the idea to start a joint smut blog by South Asian women after she and I met at a conference.  We really clicked, we hooked in a couple of other writers we knew, and more recently, we hooked up with South Asian Sisters which has been producing the fabulous show Yoni Ki Baat for a number of years. The rest is history!

9) Are you open about your identity or do you prefer to keep it a closely guarded secret. Any particular reason why if so.

I like having a different persona for different writing voices.  People who are important to me in my real life know my various avatars.  At the same time, I do like to keep a zone of privacy around myself and the people I’m close to.

10) Lastly, who are the other Indian erotica writers you follow and why would you recommend them?

I don’t really follow any desi smut writers other than the Shameless Yonis.  My erotic tastes are specific, and I have high standards for the quality of the writing, so I’m afraid most of it doesn’t pass the bar.  Electric Feather was great, and I’m looking forward to the Zubaan anthology that Rosalyn is editing.  There is also a US anthology called Desilicious that came out some time back that was quite good.

I think we need more outlets. Someone should start a quarterly literary smut magazine in India. It would sell millions.  Are you listening, publishers of The Week?

French Toast

I cut the french toast into hearts and cover it with sweet red jam.  Kissan, your favorite brand.  The Economist, your favorite magazine.  I don’t risk coffee; I know my limits — I’m a northie, incapable of making coffee the way you like it.

In your cupboard I find a silver tray.

“Wow baby,” you say, smiling from under the covers.  You sit up.  Tray to the side; toast in one hand, magazine in the other.

I watch you eat, your lips swallowing and licking the luscious, sticky red jam. I like the way you eat. It makes me hungry, too.

It’s a chilly Bangalore morning.  Sunday.  No cook, no maid, no work to pull us away from each other.

You’re telling me about a story in the magazine.  The war in the Congo, or the debt crisis in Greece.  Something far away from us. Something that doesn’t have to touch us, unless we let it.

I get back under the covers, rest my hand on your thigh.  Absorbed in reading, in eating, you don’t object as I cuddle closer.  Move the covers off you.

You finish your toast.

I lift your nightgown.

You lick the last jam off your fingers, pretend to keep reading.

I separate your legs, situate myself between them.

“So how is the yuan doing against the dollar, anyway?”  I ask, innocently, my head resting against your inner thigh.

You laugh.  You put down the magazine.  You stroke my hair.

I start my breakfast … delicious, as always.

Hurting

This is how you hurt me.

You take my hand. You straighten the fingers. I can’t see you: I’m on my knees with my forehead on the floor, my hands bound behind me. It takes a moment to understand what you want; to surrender these tiny muscles so that you can move them. I breathe, relax my palms, let you shape my body as you want it.

To write about someone, to be written about, is a special kind of intimacy. You asked for, demanded, a story.

The next day we didn’t touch, but this intimacy was happening—mediated by pen on paper, by imagination (mine), by language itself. Bunnies fuck, but only people talk about fucking, transmute it into meaning.

That magic is what makes us gods, isn’t it?

We are generating heat. From the small taut tendons of your arm, through the cane, to my palm: heat. From my hand back into yours: heat.

You hit my open palm with a heavy stick, one you found on the beach on our morning walk. I have never been hit there before, and it hurts. It’s not a sexy pain, not an erotic zone of my body. It sears.

You must sense the crests of sensation: how? Am I moaning, am I crying out? In between you hold my hand—sympathizing with the pain you’ve caused, and glorying in it, too.

In these pauses, your hand is smooth and cool, like mercy.

Now, remembering, that same heat rises through my body. My face flushes. If you’re reading this, halfway around the world, do you feel it, too?  This transaction is not just molecules. It’s an intimacy like no other. It means.

As a writer I am also a theoretician, but not your kind, cool and abstract, nearly scientific. I don’t have to do experiments, test my hypotheses on rats, engage in longitudinal studies of semiotics.  I just know, and then I have to trust what I know: what my body knows. What your body might know too, if you let it.  Every day I try to make this transmutation: matter into energy, dross to gold.

What the world sees as base, as sordid—the desire of one to hurt and the other to be hurt—we convert into a kind of transcendence, a space where spirits touch. It’s a space where we know… not each other, exactly, but know ourselves to be part of one energy, one field.

Krishna says, I am the field and the knower of the field.

Beyond religion: Hegel too believed that, in the relationship of master to slave, spiritual unity was possible.

It scares you, doesn’t it, this moment of synthesis?

When I write I walk toward this fear every day. With each blank page I face the terror of not being enough, of being too much, of being consumed, of remaining unknown. The world tells us we are wrong a thousand different ways every day. So of course we are afraid.

You tell me I am brave, and I realize it’s true. Fear has been my teacher, the one who wears the mask of god.

You make me talk. I tell you how brilliant you are and how scared I am, but you say I must be lying on both counts. You accuse me of flattery.

It occurs to me how young you are, how little you know your own beauty and genius, your power. I, irrepressibly rebellious—I who more than once have screamed no-no-no at a woman with a whip, to make her tame me—want nothing more than to be on my knees for you.

You hit me again, again.

From you I took more pain than I’ve ever taken before. I didn’t tell you that afterward; it was a little prize I withheld, the way you withheld something from me. Is pettiness is the opposite of intimacy?

Story is what we make to survive the pain. Again I don’t mean you and me, I mean our species. I don’t know how bunnies survive their suffering, but you and I and all our kind make narrative.

You didn’t want the intimacy to seep, like a wound, out of the scene. But your instruction, to write you a story, kept me in that space of intimacy while you distanced yourself from it; from me. I didn’t see the trap. I didn’t know I was meant to emote for both of us.

So maybe I was clenching my hands and you had to keep opening them, had to move my fingers out of the way, so as not to break my joints when you hit me. The story I made was that you held my hand through the pain, that you soothed the fire of my hurting.

Later I could have spun this into a big tale of love or the possibility of love. Later you could pretend this gesture was all logistics. Which is a lie, which a fantasy?

We are human; is it possible to avoid drifting, in every direction, from the truth?

After the pain, the reward.

I am choking on your cock and my throat resists, I gag but I don’t want to stop, and you let me keep going and you wipe the tears from my eyes and I feel beautiful.

I thought you’d understood my offering. What does a gift want more than to be given? What can a god want more than a willing sacrifice?

Next time I negotiate, this is what I will say: Touch me, fuck me, hurt me—but don’t you dare back away.

The poet Hafiz said, Art is the conversation between lovers. That impulse toward intimacy, six centuries ago, let him live into our time and beyond.

So whatever our separate stories, I know what I felt. It wasn’t nothing, and it wasn’t just a little something. For that moment—that present moment which, in its intensity, is eternal—it was everything.

This is how you hurt me.

Virgin Review!

A big wet thank you to Roselyn D’Mello, editor of the forthcoming Zubaan anthology of women’s erotica, who just popped my cherry with this first review of my smut in Himal magazine:

… a host of writers, particularly women, have been appropriating the space of the erotic. Most significant among them is the young provocative and award-winning M Svairini, who writes the rather risqué blog, ‘The Bottom Runs the Fuck’, and …

Me, significant! Provocative! Risque! And young, even! 🙂

Click here for the whole article, which is provocative in its own way and introduced me to some desi smut writers with whom I definitely want to get between the sheets.

That’s sheets as in pages. Of a book. You pervs.

Reading is fundamental.

Sticky Wicket

I don’t really know what that means, but it sounds sexy to me! Check out my new article on firstpost.com, India’s brand-new one and only digital newsroom:

Jai Hind — We Can Beat Those Wankers

… in which I propose legalizing sex toys in India … lay out a five-point programme for a nationwide Masturbate-A-Thon … and use a whole bunch of sports metaphors!

This is a “squee” moment for me because it’s my first mainstream publication. Firstpost.com is affiliated with CNN and is aiming to become the Huffington Post of India, the first online place to go for news analysis & commentaries on breaking issues.

Because websites are so metrics-driven, it would be super helpful if you would take a moment to “like” or comment on the article … & show the editors that there is an audience for sex-positive writing out of India!

Win!


My essay about queer desi kink desire was just named the winner of a National Leather Award at a ceremony this past weekend in Houston. Very exciting since this is the first year I entered, and my blog is just a baby compared to all the other esteemed writers/publishers who won.  I so wish that I could have attended and rubbed, um, elbows with all the leather literati!  I might be developing a fetish for trophies…

Wanna read the winning piece?  It’s here: Kaliyuga Yoni.

Also, check out my two creative contributions to a sleek new online fetish magazine, Safeword. I get to be part of their Religion & Sex special issue—and if that’s not kinky, I don’t know what is.

fireworks

Here is the official press release about the awards:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WINNERS ANNOUNCED FOR NLA-I WRITING AWARDS

(Columbus, OH) — National Leather Association: International, a leading
organization for activists in the pansexual SM/leather community, announced
the winners, for works published in 2010, of its annual awards for
excellence in SM/leather/fetish writing at its Annual General Meeting at
Spring Iniquity in Houston, TX on April 16, 2011. The judges received a
record number of nominations this year, and voting in several categories was
quite close.

The winner of the John Preston Short Fiction Award is Laura Antoniou for
“That’s Harsh,” a story set in her Marketplace series and included in the
new 2010 edition of The Slave (Circlet). The honorable mention for short
story went to Jeff Mann for “Demon Seed” from Amie M. Evans and Paul J.
Willis  (eds.), Saints+Sinners 2010: New Fiction from the Festival (Queer
Mojo/Rebel Satori).

The winner of the Samois Anthology Award is Tristan Taormino, Sometimes She
Lets Me: Best Butch/Femme Erotica (Cleis), which reprinted a number of great
stories. The honorable mention went to Fast Girls: Erotica for Women
(Cleis), yet another great anthology from Rachel Kramer Bussel.

The winner of the Pauline Reage Novel Award is is Cherise Sinclair for The
Dom¹s Dungeon (Loose Id). The honorable mention went to India Wilson for The
Knot Artist (Lightning Strikes).

The winner of the Cynthia Slater Non-fiction Article Award is M. Svairini,
“Kaliyuga Yoni” from the bottom runs the fuck. The honorable mention went to
Lady Elsa for “Service Topping as a Spiritual Practice,” which appeared in
Lee Harrington’s, Spirit of Desire: Personal Explorations of Sacred Kink
(Lulu.com).

The winner of the Geoff Mains Non-fiction Book Award is Justin Spring for
Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo
Artist, and Sexual Renegade (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), superb biography of
a seminal SM figure. The honorable mention went to Nancy Ava Miller, the
founder of People Exchanging Power, for her book Pervert: Notes from the
Sexual Underground (Xlibris) in which she discusses her life as an SM
educator and community leader.

Nominations for the works published in 2011 will open later this year.