Processed World #18

Issue 18: December 1986 from http://www.processedworld.com

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Table of Contents

Giving Heads
introduction

SEX: The Never Ending Story
by ana logue

MYOB
by primitivo morales

Whatever Happened to the Sexual Revolution
article by maxine holz

Anxious Pleasures
by thomas gregor

My Date with Holly Near
satire by ann-marie

Kareendi's Story
fiction by ngugi wa thiongo

Fantasy's Legal, Reality's Not
article by clitora e. cummings

Poles 'n Holes: Working in the Porn Biz
tale of toil by chaz bufe

Kelly Girl Plays Postmistress
fiction by kelly girl

My Interview with Pisstex
true story by sarkis manouchian

Big Bang
fiction by jeff goldthorpe

Your Knife in my Life
tale of toil by linda thomas

Poetry
by linda thomas, julia barclay, owen hill, rosetta a., pam tranfield, william talcott & antler

Wenda
fiction by james pollack

863-AIDS
tale of toil by paxa lourde

Hot Under The Collar:
* Bank Busters: report on toronto bankworkers' strike by anne simpson
* Why I Humiliate: tale of toil by francois oyar

Letters
from our readers

Giving Heads

WELCOME

to Processed World #18, an issue devoted to the always-popular subject of sex. We begin wifh Ana Logue's account of some of our collective ruminations, and Primitivo Morales provides a few of his own. Then Maxine Holt offers an analysis of today's moral climate and its relation to the sexual revolution of the past decades. Chaz Bufe talks candidly about working in a porn theater in his Tale of Toil POLES 'N HOLES..., while Linda Thomas contributes another glimpse of the dark side of the sex industry in YOUR KNIFE IN MY LIFE. Clitora E. Cummings condemns the hypocrisy surrounding the sale of sex in FANTASY'S LEGAL, REALITY'S NOT, and Paxa Lourde takes us inside the AIDS hotline in 863-AIDS.

In BIG BANG, Jeff Goldthorpe portrays the lingering anxiety AIDS has caused among bisexual men. Our friend Med-o, traveling In Africa, sent an excerpt from Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiongo's novel DEVIL ON THE CROSS about routine sexual harassment in the offices of Nairobi. MY DATE WITH HOLLY NEAR is an hilarlous send-up of Near's style of feminist sexuality, gratefully reprinted from Brooklyn's SHOE POLISH WEEK. KELLY GIRL PLAYS POSTMISTRESS marks the return of Kelly Call Girl (last seen in PW#13) with her first pornographic tale. The issue's remaining action piece is WENDA, which provoked our severest difference of editorial opinion in some time. A bare majority found It good satire, while many others felt it was flat or even offensive. Read it and let us know what you think.

MY INTERVIEW AT PISSTEX describes a real-life hostile encounter at a Silicon Valley pharmaceutical firm. PISSTEX, together with poetry about work, HOT UNDER THE COLLAR's accounts of bank-worker resistance and our letters, provides a dose of the kind of material PW is best known for.

Enjoy, and please send us your comments, disagreements, etc.

SEX: The Never Ending Story

Are women capable of being as sexually aggressive as men? Why do 13-year-old girls get pregnant? Are men or women who use their position of power to get sex interested in sex or power, or both? How much of our sexual behavior is instinctual, how much the product of our mental life? These are some the questions raised by members of the Processed World collective and their friends, when we first proposed doing another issue on sex (the first was PW #7).

Some of us thought we had answers to some of the questions. We were, I think, rather surprised to discover how divergent these answers were. What I learned from this discussion is that people's ideas about sex are as unique as their own sexuality, which is, in turn, related to their own experience. As one woman put it, "After three abortions how can I speak about women being sexually aggressive? I can never be as aggressive as most men because the experience of these abortions never leaves me. When a man has sex, he does not consider this consequence."

A month later, we had gotten down to the real nitty gritty: who has it better, men or women? One PWer argued persuasively that women were not interested in having sex with men who had no money. "If you work at a low-paying job, you are invisible. Women, especially women with higher paying jobs, look right through you as if you didn't exist." It is much easier for a woman, he concluded, to have sex than a man. Yes, we agreed, it is much easier for a woman to have sex than a man, even in San Francisco, if she does not care who her partner is. But, it was pointed out, it's much less likely that a woman will have an orgasm as a result of having sex, especially casual sex, than it is for a man. In other words, the greater availability of sex for women does not entail greater access to sexual fulfillment.

The discussion then turned, in my mind, to the millenial debate over the differences between women's and men's sexuality. The pendulum swings from the position that women are sexually voracious and almost insatiable, unless repressed, to the view that what women really want is to be held and cuddled. Coming to sexual age in the mid-'60s, I read sex manuals that preached the gospel of the simultaneous orgasm. These books stressed the importance of foreplay and even endorsed oral sex, with the proviso that it not lead to "climax." They counseled men to delay ejaculating by thinking of baseball statistics. The books (they were very much alike) reported that the vaginal orgasms their authors promoted were considered ahnormal by the Victorians. Reading the Kinsey Report during that period, I discovered that most American women did not have orgasms during intercourse. Freud and Wilhelm Reich were much in fashion, and it was easy to assume that non-orgasmic women (they were called frigid then) were victims of the dread disease of sexual repression.

In 1969, Anne Koedt published The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm as a radical feminist tract. The clitoris, she argued, is the source of all female pleasure. Since then women who have experienced vaginal orgasms, and even multiple orgasms, have had to go into the closet or risk having their feminist credentials revoked. (At a certain time during the '70s, a feminist male remarked, "it was difficult to remain politically erect.")

Today, although we are just one step away from our children looking through the keyhold and calling the police, the party line on sex is whatever gets you off is OK (as long as it doesn't hurt you or anyone else and you don't exchange bodily fluids with a stranger). Most women do not have orgasms during intercourse, according to Dr. June Reinisch of the Kinsey Institute, and there is no reason they should, she says, unless they wish to "broaden [their] range of sexual activity." To do that, she advises seeing a sex therapist.

The news that most women do not have orgasms during intercourse should come as a great relief to men suffering from performance anxiety. Not only doesn't size matter, duration and technique may not count either. At least this is the impression I get from my reading of sex and relationship columns in the newspapers. Apparently, we have reached the ultimate expression of the credo that states every person is responsible for his or her own feelings, pleasure, karma, life, etc. Sex between two people is no longer a sexual relationship, it is merely two people having sex together.

Reading Masters and Johnson's latest book, I was treated to a different insight into heterosexual relationships. Lesbian couples, I learned, typically spend more time than heterosexual couples, some times hours, in their love-making; but they make love less frequently. Gay men, on the other hand, are more likely to have more sexual encounters and engage in less foreplay than heterosexuals or Lesbians. Heterosexual sex, it appears, is a meeting and merging of male and female sexuality. It is different from gay or lesbian sex in that it requires more effort and imagination to understand the needs of the other. A gay man, presumably, does not have to ask his partner if he has come yet. Expert opinion will continue to change. The law of the marketplace demands it. And sex will continue to be exciting and frustrating, as easy as riding a bicycle, and as difficult as getting a taxi in the rain, no matter what the experts say.

Which brings us to the next topic: censorship. All of us at PW agree that censorship, even of violent material, like Rambo, is never acceptable. The Meese commission's report on pornography has already had its effect. It has been reported that a rapist is using the Commission's recommendations (which were not its findings) as his defense. Pornography, he argues, made him do it. When I gouge out my opponent's eyes, I will blame it on Shakespeare, or better yet, every theatre company whose production of King Lear I have seen and the university where I studied English Literature. My son, who plays with a toy Uzi and GI Joes, thinks real wars are "stupid" because people get killed in them. He knows the difference between fantasy and reality.

by Ana Logue

MYOB

The current war on drugs & sexuality doesn't really surprise me. If the fear of syphilis helped usher in Victorianism, what should one expect of AIDS? The hatred of the "underclass" has fueled previous drug hysterias, and today's society has more hatred and almost as much moral smugness. I may not be surprised at the current prohibitions, but I am puzzled. I can understand a person not wishing to use drugs, or whatever. I am, however, baffled as to the thinking of those people who get so worked up about somebody else's life. Most of the offending people are quite innocuous. OK, you don't want your pilot to be zonked out of his/her gourd (pot, booze or stress)—you want them clear-headed. Most jobs don't require that level of alert-ness: if I can do my job stoned, so much the better for me. If I can't hack it, getting fired seems like apt treatment. Who suffers—American productivity? Give me a break. Of course, some jobs are only endurable with some form of escapist behavior.

Sure, people hurt/kill themselves with drugs (and with sex), which may be sad, but it is still their own business. This great hoopla over drugs (which will last longer than that over sex), so filled with ignorant rage, citing symptoms as causes, must ignore the crucial question: "Why do these people (the 'druggies' and 'sex-wierdos') do these things!"

The answers that are given vary from the incomplete to the stupid. Why do people need dozens of sex partners, or to be stoned or drunk all the time? At the risk of being both incomplete and stupid, I would quote an old saying (borrowed from a friend's grandmother) "Oh, you mean 'Feeling no pain."' What an irrational thing--to seek relief from the grim pain of life.

But you see, there are these people--some who would love someone of the wrong type (whether of the wrong race, religion, or gender), others who would smoke pot, or do coke or chase the dragon. Let us arrest them, stone them, exile them, kill them. They are not one of us good people, with our devices and valium and booze and affairs. We who are preparing a war, to sacrifice unknown numbers for some insane purpose, understand morality as no other people could. We who pollute the world will keep all bodies free from contamination.

As for me--your stuff or mine, your place or mine?

by Primitivo Morales

Whatever Happened to the Sexual Revolution?

article by maxine holz

What would a future anthropologist make of the bizarre and seemingly contradictory assortment of information on sexuality available today? Place side by side: the Meese Report, with its sordid account of the social effects of pornography; an article in Self, a respectable women's magazine, by a professional journalist about the unexpected pleasures of moonlighting in a phone sex company; and On Our Backs, "Entertainment for the Adventurous Lesbian" which promotes sexual experimentation and sex education from a decidedly feminist point of view. How does one reconcile the fact that in our society, which places such a high premium on sexual pleasure, sexuality is also the object of intense public scrutiny and official censure?

A popular interpretation of this paradoxical evidence is that we are in a period of transition. According to the pendulum theory of historical change, sexual attitudes periodically shift from one extreme to the other. Thus the 40s and 50s were characterized by uptight, moralistic attitudes toward sex. In the 60s and 70s a cycle of sexual permissiveness followed, while now in the mid-80s, the pendulum appears to be in full swing back to the repressive extreme. Presumably, by the late 90s we can expect yet another reversal.

Such cavalier explanations of social/sexual "trends" ignore the diffuse, but profound effects that changes in the moral climate have on everyone's daily lives (not just on those who become the immediate victims of moral panics). These explanations don't account for people's susceptibility to these shifts, then ignore the moral crusaders' political motives, and trivialize the legacy of sexual freedom resulting from the social movements of the 60s, 70s and early 80s. The pendulum theory promotes a fatalistic passivity in response to the current moral crusade ("Don't worry, it's just a reaction, it'll pass in time"). But I, for one, am not prepared to sit out 20 years of sexual repression.

A history of attitudes on sexuality reveals that society has not always been so obsessed with it. Moral standards and definitions of what is sexually desirable vary immensely throughout history and between cultures, as do the manner in which sexual mores get encoded and enforced. It is only in the past century, for example, that medical and psychiatric institutions have played a significant role in setting standards for sexual normalcy and health, and in defining appropriate sexual behavior. Much more recently-- since the 50s--sexuality has become a key component of our self-esteem. We feel like failures if we don't have a good sex life. What has remained constant in our culture for centuries is a puritanical view of sex as a dark force, the wild side of human nature that society must tame. According to this view, which Gayle Rubin has termed the "domino theory of sexual peril, unchecked sexuality will devour everything in its path, leading to the demise of civilization as we know it" (see bibliography at the end of this article)

It is this view that keeps resurfacing in morality campaigns and that becomes the outlet of many fears and anxieties. It was this sex-negative attitude that the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s challenged. The result was new opportunities for personal freedom and sexual pleasure and experimentation which for the first time touched the lives of millions, and not just small groups of avant-gardists in bohemian quarters. For if sex is a vector of oppression, as Gayle Rubin puts it, it has also been a vector of freedom. The liberation of sex from its procreative function cleared the way for a complete re-evaluation of women's place in the world and furthered the public emergence of a homosexual rights movement.

The conviction that men and women could enjoy sex outside the nuclear family contradicted the ideal of Woman as guardian of sexual morality. The excitement and openness about sexuality allowed many women to explore their sexual passion. These developments helped break down double standards based on "natural" differences between the sexes. Even those of us who were too young or apolitical to be directly involved in the social movements of the 60s and 70s benefited from the change in the moral landscape that followed. I never expected to marry and have kids with the first man I had sex with--at fifteen, marriage was the furthest thought from my mind. What I sought was pleasure, adventure, experience, and, yes, romance. In a contrast to my mother's generation that should not be underestimated, I entered my first sexual relationship expecting to enjoy it, and without fearing pregnancy. This experience was momentous and scarcely free from anxiety, but it wasn't laden with immense burdens of guilt and fear either. Later, at sixteen, I discovered the pleasures of casual sexual relationships.

This historically unprecedented sexual freedom was intimately connected with my idea of myself as an individual with my own life to lead, with my own goals and desires. Twenty years earlier I would have been preoccupied mainly with seeking a man to append myself to, and hoping for children to devote my life to. When I did decide to have a child, I discussed the division of labor at length with my partner. There was an unquestioned assumption that life and work outside the domestic realm was equally important to both of us. A serious commitment to a life-partner and a child has not ended the process of sexual discovery and experimentation. I can hardly claim to have found the key to sexual happiness. My own experience has led to painful bouts of jealousy, sexual insecurity, and time- management nightmares, and I am still contending with the traditional gender division in many ways. I hope that my daughter will benefit from our continuing attempts to challenge these limitations.

Millions have enjoyed the opportunities for greater fulfillment that freedom from the traditional confines of conjugal heterosexuality has provided. For many of us, these private opportunities would have been unthinkable without a widespread conscious challenge to our traditional sexual heritage.

ROOTS OF REACTION

The initial wave of freedom and excitement that redefined sexual roles left in its wake a whole new set of problems and anxieties, especially for women. Sexual freedom came to mean too much and too little at the same time. Divested of their radical social implications, the new sexual attitudes were narrowly reinterpreted as "the more sex the better." The idea of sexual revolution became associated with a promiscuous "lifestyle"; this fit in nicely with the hedonistic ideology that has marked the 80s. ( Ironically, the divorce of sexual freedom from social implications has made it possible to put sexual passion in the service of traditional conjugal heterosexuality. In The Remaking of Sex [see bibliography] Ehrenreich et al describe the fundamentalist sexual revival, which encourages women to be sexy but only with their husbands and in their own bedrooms.)

Once sexual freedom and promiscuity had been equated, those who didn't get off on promiscuity- -who felt pressured into it or who tired of it when the novelty wore off--began to question the importance of sexual freedom itself. For many women, in particular, the freedom to have more sex doesn't do the trick. The route to sexual pleasure tends to be easier for men, who are often more comfortable with and aware of their sexual desires. Women are confronted with the double problem of freeing themselves from subordination to male desire while discovering their own. And it doesn't help that the discourse of sexual desire has, until very recently, been primarily a male domain. Our attempts to define our sexuality are complicated by efforts to counter what we have experienced as oppressive sexual objectification. For example, we want to free ourselves from our conditioned obsessiveness with our bodies, while discovering new ways to feel at home in them. For some feminists the solution has been to reject the whole concept of sexiness, which they consider to be inextricably associated with oppressive male standards. In its extreme form, the attitude holds that sexual objectification is the keystone to misogyny and is therefore central to the widespread violence against women in our society. This is the position of the feminist anti-pornography movement. Other feminists have attempted to broaden the notion of sexiness to encompass qualities that are more in tune with their own tastes.

Another ideology popularly associated with sexual liberation is sexual naturalism, the notion that all we have to do is recover our "natural" sexuality in order to transform society into a loving community. But what constitutes natural sexuality? One major problem with the idea that sexuality can be extricated from social and historical contexts is that it leads to new standards of "naturalness" that exclude acceptance of benign forms of sexual variation. There is nothing particularly natural about a vibrator, for example, yet many women have found their path to orgasm using one. Homosexuality has often been condemned on the grounds that it is a crime against nature. The new opportunities opened up by sexual freedom were thus riddled with confusion and ambiguity. Over the past few years, a new body of research and literature has attempted to explore and clarify these issues. (See bibliography ). Meanwhile, other social changes have exacerbated the confusion that became the breeding ground for reaction. The counterculture, which had provided a context for experimentation and discussion, collapsed. The disintegration of family and community networks accelerated, one example being the dramatic increase of single-mother families. Women, particularly those in rural areas where the traditional mores continued to hold sway, were afraid of the license the new sexual freedom gave their husbands. They feared that their husbands' ties to them would be weakened, leaving them in the lurch with little possibility of financial independence.

The sexual revolution (or, rather, a vague constellation of ideologies and images that the term has come to evoke) became a scapegoat for many problems that had little to do with sexuality per se. It also became a focus of disillusionment because of inflated expectations about the degree to which it could change people's lives.

SEX FOR THE MARKET

Controversy over the meaning of the sexual revolution has led to contentious debate over the vast growth of the commercial sex world. The sex industry accounts for expenditures of billions of dollars every year. In 1985 alone, $375 million was spent on porn videos in the U.S. For some people this is an alarming indication that the sexual revolution has gone too far. Opposition to the sex industry has brought together feminists like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine McKinnon and right-wing zealots like Edwin Meese in an unlikely coalition. These people have targeted the sex industry as a primary locus of social decay and female oppression.

Certainly many entrepreneurs (pornographers, advertisers, media moguls), few of them concerned with feminist ideas, have capitalized on the popularity of sexual diversity and experimentation. Yet amidst the controversy over the sex industry's effects on women, there is a remarkable lack of analysis of what the industry means to the women who work in it, and how sexual liberalization affects them.

What is really going on in the sex business? Why do women work in the industry? How is the campaign against pornography and prostitution affecting the women in it? Does the freedom of sexual expression contribute to the oppression of women in the industry? It's difficult to talk about the sex industry as a monolithic whole. The kinds of people who work in it and their reasons for doing so, vary as much as the services the sex industry provides. For many female sexworkers, working in The Life is fraught with danger and violence. See, for example, Linda Thomas's "Your Knife in My Life" in this issue. But the stereotypical idea of how women enter into prostitution and why they are vulnerable to violence is badly skewed. Except for a small minority (accurate figures about the sex industry are impossible to obtain for obvious reasons) people don't get dragged into prostitution when some porn-addicted pervert forces them to sell their bodies. Violence and degradation often begin in a family life marked by poverty, desperation, and, in many cases, physical and emotional abuse. Whereas for some women prostitution continues the pattern, for others it provides a tangible escape to economic independence. In any case, the decision to market one's sexuality is often based on a perception of limited opportunities for economic survival in the straight world.
Much of the violence associated with this work stems from the stigma and repression. Clients who feel guiltiest about their sexual needs and the most disdainful of prostitutes are the most likely to treat them badly. The fact that prostitution is ghettoized in areas of high crime is also a major cause of danger. Other significant sources of danger are the police and the jails.

Directing moral campaigns toward the suppression of the sex industry, instead of addressing the underlying economic issues for the women in it, makes things harder for those women, especially the ones at the bottom. Prosecution of prostitution makes it difficult for them to get out of The Life. They need money while looking for new work, and the bail for routine arrests makes it difficult to accumulate funds. Prostitution's illegality also reinforces subordination of prostitutes to their pimps, who provide protection of sorts. One woman was robbed and threatened with rape by hotel security guards who accused her of soliciting. The fear of being turned in makes it hard to sustain a community--every bust leads to suspicion of betrayal. Many women in the industry say that escort services routinely turn in women in exchange for not being busted. Greater restriction on prostitution will not put an end to it. To the contrary. Intensified repression of the sex industry will most damage the women who are the most vulnerable to abuse. At this end of the industry, demand is created by society with limited opportunities for sexual fulfillment, while the supply of women is assured by poverty.

Some women believe that the changes of the past decades have affected prostitution. It may be, for example, that a stronger sense of independence has somewhat lessened women's reliance on pimps for protection and emotional support. Feminist organizations like the U.S. Prostitutes Collective and C.O.Y.O.T.E. (Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics), by defending the rights and dignity of women in the sex business, take away some of the stigma associated with it. Women like Linda Thomas (see her article in this issue) benefit from a sexually open-minded community that let them "come out" about their experiences, and put them in perspective. Their willingness to open up, in turn, is a valuable contribution to our own understanding.

Moral campaigns, on the other hand, force women sex workers deeper into the closet, and increase the stress of leading a double life. The stigma makes it harder to organize or demand better working conditions, and also to seek help or get legal protection. One woman, for example, who had a serious occupational accident on a porn set could not prosecute because the publicity would ruin her reputation. She also got fired from a "straight" job when her coworkers discovered she worked as a porn actress.

The stigma associated with sex work has led to a gross underestimation of a second category of sex workers, the "temps." Many women occasionally trade sex for some quick cash, or maybe in a good discount on a new car. Such trade can involve anything from a quick blowjob to a one-time session for a nude magazine or an orgy scene in a porn movie. We may wonder why our society creates a demand for such temp jobs, but it's hard to portray many women who do them as especially oppressed. The sex temps I know of come from all kinds of backgrounds and they look on these jobs as a way to make a fast buck--not something they'd want to do all the time but not particularly problematic either.

Many women, particularly dancers, models, and escort agency call-girls, choose the work because it pays better than most other jobs they could get, and they have a fair measure of control over it. This says more about the paucity of women's economic opportunities than it does about the degradation of female sex workers. "Dancing has meant I could spend time with my daughter for the first lime in her life" claims one working mother, a former university teaching assistant who now makes far more money doing three 5-hour shifts weekly in a strip club. Another woman who works in a booth, talking sex over the phone to men behind a glass wall, got the job after she found she couldn't make ends meet working for an insurance company.

Some women like erotic dancing and acting in porn movies because they enjoy performing or frankly admit to being exhibitionists and loving the attention they get. In any performing career there is the hazard of getting too caught up in an "egotrip." One woman commented that some performers begin to think of themselves solely in terms of their sexuality and appearance, leading to competitive attitudes towards coworkers. On the other hand dancing allowed another woman to overcome feelings of inadequacy about her appearance. "I was never a hot number with guys. I always felt like an ugly duckling. When I started dancing I fell in love with my body. Now I am more sexually self-assertive."

Working conditions in erotic dance clubs vary enormously. Some are cleaner and more well-kept than others. Some managers harass the women, demanding sexual favors in return for job security, while others leave the women pretty much alone as long as they show up on time. Sometimes women have completely different experiences working at the same place. These differences seem partly related to a woman's level of self-esteem and her ability to stand up for herself. A woman who appears vulnerable is more likely to be harassed. Wages also vary. In some of the clubs, women get paid a straight salary for their shifts, and any stars make more than the regulars. In others, the salary is negligible; the money comes from tips. Some women prefer this because they make much more money, and some like the contact with customers. Others, however, hate having to talk to customers and sit on their laps.

Another category of women involved in the sex industry is the "activists." Many have had careers in social work or sex education. One dominatrix working in the East Bay, for instance, rejects the classification of "sex worker." She believes that her occupation can teach men how to respect women. One woman, who has worked as a call girl in Marin, sees herself as a "sexual healer," providing a service that men need, but can't get because of repressive social attitudes. More recently, however, this woman has begun to question her own altruism, wondering whether identifying her job with social work isn't becoming a rationalization of problems she is becoming aware of. She admits to feeling degraded at times (though she has never been coerced in her work) but at times her work is a revenge against degradation. When she gets depressed or feels taken advantage of, turning a trick makes her feel in control and restores her self-esteem. The experience, which is not uncommon among sex workers at all levels, points to the complexity of the power relations in the work. Moreover, it shows that the male clients, too, are victimized by contemporary sexual morality. Women in the sex industry often feel that what drives men to pay for sexual services is more degrading than providing them.

One part of the sex industry really is a direct product of the feminist ideals of sexual revolution--a very small, but growing area of the industry that could be called the alternative sex industry. Many people who work in this area do so not primarily for the money, but as sex educators. The philosophy of Good Vibrations, a San Francisco vibrator store that sells many varieties of women's sex toys, is to help women discover and enjoy their sexuality. "We're 100 years behind men, asserts Susie Bright, editor of On Our Backs, whose circulation, she claims, has jumped to 12,000 in a few years, making it the best-selling lesbian periodical. She believes women need to become more knowledgeable about fantasies and sexuality. They need to learn how to enjoy porn, which includes finding sexy images that are not male-identified. The alternative sex industry is trying to address many questions that the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s left unanswered.

SEX: A SCAPEGOAT FOR ALL REASONS

The sex industry has been held responsible for the proliferation of sexist images and ideas throughout society, for women's victimization and exploitation, for the destruction of families, and for encouraging rape and child-molesting. The growth of pornography and prostitution is held up as one of the nefarious consequences of the sexual revolution, an example of how dangerous loose sexual attitudes really are. So appealing has porn been as a target that it has united feminists like Andrea Dworkin (for whom the Meese Report was "a turning point in women's rights" [Time 7/21/86] with right-wing fundamentalists who want to put women back in the home.

Scapegoating the sex industry distracts the public from deeper social problems. What is really going on in the morality campaigns is an attempt to re-legitimate traditional values. The mission of restoring the nuclear family as a haven of warmth and safety is appealing for many reasons. It offers a hope that we can extract ourselves from the complicated horrors of the world, it allows us to close our eyes to the endemic sources of violence and degradation in our society. Singling out the figure of the sex-crazed child molester, for example, is easier than acknowledging the far more pervasive routine emotional and physical abuse that abounds in the American family. For the media, stories of psychotic sex criminals make good copy, for politicians, sexual fear is a political goldmine. The politicians behind the resurgent interest in sex-busting are at least appearing to do something about the anxieties created by social decay.

By deflecting fears from the real causes, moral panics exacerbate the anxieties they pretend to address. Even the most trivial social interactions become charged with fear: mothers react with panic when a stranger stops to pat their child on the head, childcare workers refrain from affectionate physical contact with the children in their care. Children themselves are taught to associate sex with fear and danger, reinforcing sex-negative attitudes.

Sexual license is a primary target of today's moral panic, and in response we assert our right to sexual freedom--not just on the grounds of free speech or privacy, but in affirmation of the positive side of sexual pleasure. At the same time it is important to go beyond the sexual to understand the anxiety that is being tapped by the sex-busters. We need to focus our fear and anger on underlying economic and social problems and not on false targets.

by Maxine Holz

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Pleasures, Women Write Erotica (Harper & Row, 1984), Lonnie Barbach, ed.

A History of Sexuality, vol. 1, An Introduction, by Michel Foucault, trans. Robert Hurley, (New York, Pantheon, 1978).

"Thinking Sex" by Gayle Rubin in Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Women's Sexuality; (Boston and London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984). Carol Vance, editor.

"Pleasure and Danger: Towards a Politics of Sex" by Carol Vance in Pleasure and Danger, op cit.

Sexuality and Its Discontents: Meanings, Myths and Modern Sexualities (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1985) by Jeffrey Weeks

On Our Backs, Entertainment for the Adventurous Lesbian, PO Box 421916, San Francisco, CA 94142.

Re-Making Love, The Feminization of Sex by Barbara Ehrenreich, Elizabeth Hess and Gloria Jacobs (Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1986).

OR CONTACT:

U.S. Prostitutes Collective
P.O. Box 14512
San Francisco, CA 94114

C.O.Y.O.T.E.
P.O. Box 26345
San Francisco, CA

(addresses were current in 1987)

Anxious Pleasures

by thomas gregor

For the Mehinaku Indians of the Amazon, fish is the main source of animal protein. While Mehinaku women grow and prepare manioc root, the staple of the Mehinaku diet, only the men go on long fishing trips. When a Mehinaku man returns from a successful trip, he is "proclaimed by a tremendous whoop from all the men." His wife then makes a special fish stew and sends part of it to her in-laws and relatives in other houses.

Prior to entering the village, the returning fisherman selects the best fish from the catch and arranges for a boy to bring it to his lover's hut. He cautions the child to give the woman the fish when her husband is not around. "A sexually active woman is therefore a recognized economic asset in her family."

"There is little shame about sexual desire, and children will tick off the names of their parents' many extramarital lovers." There were 20 men and 17 women in the village when Gregor visited, and he counted approximately 88 extramarital affairs during this time, with the average man engaging in 4.4 affairs. (The range for men was from 1 to 10 affairs, with most men having close to the average number.) For women the average was almost the same, but the range was much greater. Three women had no extramarital affairs while one woman had 11 and another 14. The villager's "taste for extramarital liaisons" is only limited by social barriers such as the incest taboo. However, the frequency of sexual contact within such liaisons is relatively low due to taboos on having sex at certain times, the lack of privacy, "competition from jealous husbands and more attractive rivals, and especially by the difficulty of finding a willing female partner."

Sex is everywhere a seller's market with women doing the selling. It is always easier for a woman to find a sexual partner (provided she is not old, ugly, or sick) than it is for a man. Males have "a higher level of sexual interest than females." This is the result of three conditions: the higher level of androgens in males, the fact that some women do not have orgasms and, possibly, that men require a lower level of sexual stimulation to become aroused.

Mehinaku males initiate sexual encounters by "importuning, gifts, and verbal coercion." This may be because they are poor lovers. With few exceptions, they do not engage in foreplay, and there is no word in their language for female orgasm. In fact, it is not certain that Mehinaku women have orgasms.

Mehinaku men spend most of their time with other men, especially in the men's house which no woman can ever enter. The penalty for a woman's entering or looking into the men's house, or viewing the sacred flutes kept there, is gang rape. Although the last reported gang rape took place around 1940 and most men said they would not report on their closest female kin if they discovered them in a violation of the taboo, women live with the very real threat of rape.

If Mehinaku women are afraid of male violence, Mehinaku men are even more afraid of women. According to their myths, women in ancient times were the keepers of the sacred flutes, the founders of what is now the men's house, and the inventors of architecture, clothes, and religion; while men lived like wild animals in a separate village. Eventually, the men attacked the women's village, raped them, stole their artifacts, and took control of the men's house. Thus the Mehinaku do not justify their patriarchal situation in terms of religious revelation or natural male superiority. For
them, male power is based on brute force. Nonetheless, the legend reveals that "the men's house as a symbol of male identity is a citadel of papier-mache." The price men pay for maintaining it, he says, is "anxiety: fear of their own sexual impulses and fear of women."

by Ana Logue

From:A quick and dirty guide to "Anxious Pleasures, the Sexual Lives of an Amazonian People"by Thomas Gregor (U of Chicago Press, 1985).

My Date with Holly Near

satire by ann-marie

Heart pounding, I walked up the steps to Holly's apartment and rang her doorbell. Even as I stood outside the door, despite my nervousness, I could feel that special warmth that is Holly's own. The door opened and there was Holly, smiling of course, looking just like her pictures: gentle, strong, tender, sensitive, committed. I'm so glad you're here, she smiled, hugging me warmly. I smiled back. She smiled even more warmly. We stood in the foyer, smiling at each other. Doesn't it feel good to smile? smiled Holly. There is strength in women's laughter, I smiled back.

Could it really be true? Could I really be here, on a date with Holly Near? I pinched myself to make sure it was all really happening. Already I felt so calm and comfortable, it must be true. 1 could hardly tell exactly what it was that Hotly was nearing, each earth tone blended so imperceptibly into the next. I stepped forward and bumped right into Holly (against the earth tone decor of her apartment she was almost invisible). We laughed happily, two women together, yes, together, in spite of everything.

Come in, come in, laughed Holly. and we walked into her living room together. Would you like some tea? she smiled. Of course, Holly, if it's not too much trouble, I blushed. Trouble? Holly's laugh wafted out from the kitchen Like muted guitar notes. She walked in carrying two earth tone mugs. Our sisters are struggling against injustice and oppression throughout the world and you think making tea is trouble? Ah, how we North American white feminists are blinded by our privilege. I felt my face grow hot, my blush grow deeper. How could I have been so insensitive? As tears welled up in my eyes, I felt two strong gentle arms surround me. Have some tea, Holly murmured. I took the cup from her hands and drank. The tea was sweet, strong, gentle, warm, just like Holly. There is strength in women's pain, Holly said, gently but firmly. Let's not turn it inwards. Let's take hold of our rage and use it to change the world. Let's start fighting right now! Holly's eyes flashed and she pulled me close to her. Ann-Marie, let's sing! We are cultural workers! We must be the voice of those who have no voice! What a moment! What a woman! She began to sing and her sweet, warm, powerful, soothing voice made my Ears start to ring. What songs she sang, her own of course, unmistakably so, so sweet, so universal, so vague, so unthreatening, so unspecific, so charmingly feminine! I gazed at her, dazzled, feeling something so strong, so comforting, a feeling I almost recognized but couldn't quite name, and whispered, Holly, you're so...so...so wimpy. She smiled warmly and breathed. There is safety in wimpiness, aid pressed her mouth to mine. We kissed. My head spun. The feeling was growing ever more overpowering, confusing, indescribable. Oh, Holly, Holly, I gasped. My head fell back, my eyelids fluttered, my lips parted, my bode shuddered and convulsed in the most intense, overwhelming yawn of my entire life. I passed out.

When I came to, I was back in my own room, in my own bed. Could it all have been a beautiful dream? I ran downstairs. There were all my housemates in the kitchen. Ann-Marie, god, we thought you'd never wake up, you've been sleeping for five days straight. In fact after Holly paid the cab driver and carried you into your room, we all just felt so nice and sleepy we went night to bed. Pat didn't even make it into her bedroom, she conked out on the stairs. Holly carried me in? I whispered. Five days ago? Did she...did she...? Yeah, she left this autographed picture for you. I could hardly believe it, but there it was! To Ann-Marie, in struggle, love, Holly; As I stared at the photo I felt my eyelids growing heavy and................ ..............THE END?

-- by Ann-Marie Hendrickson

My Date With Holly Near was originally published in Shoe Polish Week an uproarious newsletter available from 195 Garfield Place #2-L, Brooklyn, NY 11215.

Fantasy's Legal, Reality's Not

A sex worker's take on prostitution and the sex industry.


"In this prostituting society, we ALL have to hustle, and I'd rather suck cock than kiss ass!"



— Margo St. James

Heterosexism is alive and well as it glares upon forms of sexuality which are not the romantic, monogamous, heterosexual idea. In spite of this "ideal," and legal and cultural sanctions against "deviancy," women throughout our country continue to offer sexual services for cash. Countless men flock to women who'll give them emotional validation through erotic release, and as a relief from themselves, in exchange for money. Two of the most empowering things to a majority of men in our society are sex and money. Sex is a commodity to the male psyche. For many, paying cash for erotic attention is part of the ritual in receiving such pleasure.

Why are men compelled, as well as encouraged, to go to sex workers? Many men don't know how to relate to women with their clothes on. They fear the ego smashing episodes of rejection. Males desire and want women to take responsibility for giving and receiving pleasure. They feel more free to explore sexual fantasies with willing, anonymous women. They don't want sex to be "too serious," and they don't have the time, energy or emotion for a relationship. One might consider prostitutes, in generations before and after the industrial revolution, as unproclaimed, undeclared feminists. They didn't leap into marriage or find reproduction their highest calling; they didn't become or want to be pure-and-holy; they didn't join convents. They remained emotionally independent of men. They still do.

To say that all sex workers/prostitutes have a feminist awareness is, of course, as flawed as stating that all women lawyers work in feminist terms. To say that all or most prostitutes were victims of incest, child abuse, or male brutality is also as much a mistake as saying that most female nurses choose their profession out of suffering the loss of their parents at an early age, and because of this trauma some of them developed a fetish for giving enemas. Some people formed careers in "prostitution" in the various ways which are legal. This includes audio-erotic tape recordings, skin-flicks or sex-movies, modeling for private, nude photography sessions, entertaining for stag parties, or dancing and undulating in the now popular male strip shows. They work in "peep shows"-nude in cubicles on the other side of the one-way mirror for the anonymous men speaking to them on the telephone. They pose their bodies to titillate the readers of Playgirl and Playboy type magazines. They talk "dirty" to the men and women who "Dial-a-Hunk."

Society shuts its eyes to the fact that more than likely, the man or woman who works as this kind of 'telephone solicitor' may occasionally make personal and sexual contact with persons who call. They may have sex with a caller out of mutual desire and curiosity, or simply for money. Another misconception myth is in men and women's delusion that female sex workers are constantly wanton and exuding erotic passion. But prostitutes do not "have to" have orgasms nor are they especially expected to. This is like demanding that a bartender get drunk with you! A sex worker's passion is infrequently requested. Many sex workers may put on an "act" and "fake it" in order that a "customer's" request be satisfied. Most often, however, a woman will pretend rapture- orgasm to get him excited and "off," and out the door, just as thousands of wives do all the time!

The strange paradox is that doing sex for money or gifts or trade is not in itself illegal. Wives and partners of men do it all the time! It's been going on forever! It is the soliciting and selling, the verbal mention and offerings of sex for money, which is illegal. Thanks to Puritanism and religious dogma barking for centuries, this is a (victimless) crime. Women who prostitute sex—sell it, rent it, use it to make money on their own behalf and without pimps or agents—do so for many reasons. Throughout the world women have worked outside male controlled, legally sanctioned, socially acceptable ways. To make and have money—ready cash—is the top-line reason for doing prostitution work. For some, being a sex worker is empowering; for another it is simply a means to an end—survival. To another it may be contempt for this economic system and certainly a quick, if not easy, way to make money. For many women it is their manifested disgust towards the kinds of employment and wages extended to women. Many women hang up a useless college degree and go into prostitution work.

Whatever the reasons—all valid—prostitution work is an opportunity for women to take a dominant role working on their terms, on their territory, under their conditions, and within their direction. They most assuredly relish the comfort of not having to contend with abusive employers or male bosses propositioning them for sex—for "free," of course. Sex workers across the spectrum do not so much exploit their bodies and gender as they exploit the double standard, sexual repression, hypocrisy, homophobia, men's sexual fears, and men's awe of female sexuality. "Whores" and "madonnas" don't really exist. "Wicked" women are created out of society and the human mind.

—by Clitora E. Cummings

Poles 'n holes: Working in the porn biz

Pornography worker Chaz Bufe on work, sexuality and censorship in America. We do not agree with all of it (for the reasons outlined by Commie Princess in the comments below) but reproduce it for reference.

I was broke. Dead busted. I needed a job—fast. And the first that came along was at the Back Door Theater, "Parking and Entrance in the Rear—for Your Privacy." My friend Russell was working there, and he got me a job after one of his fellow employees passed out on the pool table at the bar next to the theater during a shift. Calling the Back Door (BD) a "theater" was something of a misnomer. It consisted of a restroom, lobby, projection platform/cashier booth, and a seating area which the staff referred to as "the pit." It was all crammed into a 16 foot by 60 foot store-front.

My turf was the projection/cashier booth. It contained a couple of broken-down chairs, a cash register, two dilapidated 16mm projectors, "Little Roscoe" (a .38 caliber revolver so dirty it would probably have blown up had it been fired), and a TV set which was used heavily, as the entire staff— all three of us—found watching it less boring than watching the BD's films. The films were pretty crude. My first glimpse of them came the day I was hired. I stepped up to the projection platform, peered through the viewing port between projectors, and saw a "cum shot"—a man coming all over a woman's face. I was dumfounded. I couldn't believe that anyone would actually pay to see such things. But pay they did-five bucks a pop. The Back Door's patrons came in all shapes and sizes: young men, old men, chicano men, white men, black men, and above all, greasy white-shoed businessmen. Well over 90% of the Back Door's customers were male, and, of those, at least half were into the $13-haircut level of awareness.

The female customers were of two types. One consisted of denim-clad, leather-booted dykes and their ultra-femme girl friends; the other, more common, type consisted of bored housewives with hubbies in tow—people apparently willing to try anything to spice up humdrum sex lives. My friend Ralph the butcher (he was an actual butcher—he hadn't "served" in Vietnam) would drop by the theater from time to time, and when such couples walked in, he made it a point to sit behind them and listen to their conversations. Ralph reported that the most typical comment was: "He can last for ten minutes. How come you can't even last two?"

I couldn't see how the customers managed to last two minutes in the theater. It was a pit. The restroom was, arguably, the most disgusting portion of the premises. It was covered with gross, sexist graffiti such as; "Please don't jack off in this toilet, it's already had three abortions," and "The difference between toilets and women is that toilets don't follow you around after you've used them." On a couple of occasions some (literal) jerk jacked off against the wall, drew an arrow toward the gooey mess, and added the half-witticism, "Eat me." And on one occasion, my friend Joe Blues walked into the lobby and observed a crewcut, 300-pound redneck flogging his dolphin in the john blissfully unaware that the restroom door was wide open.

The lobby was another gem. Its floor was covered with cheap red shag carpet, its walls with red fake-velvet wallpaper, and its ceiling with black glitter paint. Its contents consisted of a coke machine, a cigarette machine, and a sand-filled toilet subtly labeled "asstray."

But the heart of the Back Door was the pit, the seating area. It was a 16 by 45 foot room with a screen made of two pieces of painted sheet rock at one end with seats extending from the other to about eight feet from the screen. The seats were described as "reclining airplane seats" in the theater's advertising. Sounds really comfy, doesn't it? Well, the seats probably were comfortable when they were new. By the time I started working at the Back Door they could well have been the breeding ground of black plague. They obviously hadn't been cleaned since the Back Door opened, and at least two-thirds of them had gaping holes in their upholstery. The ashtrays in their armrests were continually overflowing as we employees felt it beneath ourselves to clean them out. And the BD's customers found the cracks between the cushions and the holes in the upholstery convenient receptacles for their soggy kleenex and handkerchiefs. The floor of the pit made one's shoes go "shmuck, shluck, shlurp"; it was coated with a mixture composed of spilled coke, cigarette butts, the remnants of used kleenex, and god knows what else.

Shortly after I started working at the theater, I walked into the pit in the middle of a film. While there, I was surprised to hear a long hissssss...After closing up that night, I went back into the seating area and found the source. The owner of the Back Door had installed timing devices coupled to aerosol cans; the cans sprayed a combination deodorant/disinfectant over the seats for a few seconds every hour. It was a token gesture. True disinfection would have required use of a flamethrower.

I had another surprise the first lime I walked into the pit during the noon rush and observed the midday crowd. There they sat, white shoes gleaming in the darkness, eyes riveted to the screen, hands riveted to their pants. I was expecting that. What I wasn't expecting was that they would all be sitting neatly, row upon row, an empty seat on either side of every one of them—viewer, empty seat, viewer, empty seat, etc.—totally absorbed in the spectacle on the screen. It was one of the loneliest, most pathetic scenes I've ever witnessed.

Another feature of customer behavior which initially surprised me was the frequent visit to the restroom before leaving the theater. After I figured that one out—it took me about two hours—I began to dread my nightly janitorial duties. (Judging from customer behavior at the Back Door, the slogan "Porn is the theory, rape is the practice" is dead wrong. A more realistic slogan would be "Porn is the theory, pocket pool is the practice.")

The films which provoked such behavior were sick jokes. They were low-budget, Los Angeles- based productions of the "pole'n'hole" variety with an occasional bit of lesbian action thrown in for diversity. The plots (when they existed at all), acting, direction, lighting, photography, sound, and editing were of a quality which made the average episode of The Dukes of Hazard look like Citizen Kane in comparison. As for violence, there was very little in the films shown by the Back Door; my guess is that no more than about one in twenty showed any explicit violence.(1)

An example of the Back Door's offerings was a film titled Aberrations (2) which contained a scene depicting a gorilla fucking a woman in a vacant lot. In the middle of the scene, someone's pet German Shepherd wandered into the field of view, approached the guy in the gorilla suit, sniffed him for several seconds, and exited as casually as he had entered the scene. While atypical, this film certainly seemed to degrade women. It's true, as critics of pornography delight in pointing out, that male dominance is a common feature in pornography. Where these critics err, however, is in ascribing male dominance to pornography. This is a clear reversal of cause and effect. Pornography is a fairly recent phenomenon, having become widely available only during the last quarter century, while male dominance has its roots in antiquity, as virtually any ancient history text will show. St. Paul displayed a typical attitude when he commanded, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord."

Violence against women is nothing new either. In fact it was at its worst during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. During those periods hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of women were brutally tortured and murdered under the biblical injunction, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." As for the contention that pornography somehow causes violence against women, all the evidence points against it. After Denmark eliminated all restrictions on pornography 20 years ago, the number of reported sex crimes there dropped. The 1970 Presidential Commission on Pornography concluded that there was no link between pornography and sexual violence. And Henry Hudson, chairman of Reagan's stacked anti-pornography commission, has even admitted, "If we relied exclusively on scientific data for every one of our findings, I'm afraid all our work would be inconclusive.

Given the total lack of evidence linking pornography and violence against women, and the long history of misogynistic teaching and coercion and violence against women—most visible at present in the efforts of various religions to use the government to deprive women of their rights to birth control and abortion—one can only ask why "feminist" censorship advocates are focusing their attacks on pornography and not on misogynistic religious authoritarians.
A plausible answer to that question is that they quite understandably feel frustrated by sexism and violence against women—and they're seeking easy answers and easy targets upon which to vent their frustration. Freedom of speech, civil libertarians, and smut merchants provide much easier targets than religious figures. And those figures are only too eager to help "feminist" censors attack their scapegoat—pornography.

One also wonders why anti-porn feminists, in addition to ignoring or, at times, lending credibility to reactionary religionists, ignore depictions of violence against women in the mass media far more horrible than those occasionally encountered in pornography. For example, "splatter" flicks such as Friday the 13th and Halloween consist largely of horrifying, extremely brutal scenes of the killing of young women, and are routinely viewed by millions of young people. Yet anti-porn crusaders ignore these disgusting films and concentrate their fire on the run-of-the-mill poles'n'holes flicks shown to small audiences in porn theaters. (3)

"OBJECTIFICATION"

An interesting charge of the anti-pornography movement is that pornography "objectifies" women, that is, that it presents them as things to be "consumed" rather than as people. Neglecting the rather metaphysical, and thus vague, nature of this charge, one can only ask why "objectification" in sexually explicit materials is more objectionable than that, for example, in advertising. We live in a society where "objectification" is pervasive, where people are commonly referred to and thought of as "personnel," "human resources," and, even more grotesquely, "liveware." While the "bottom line" remains the fundamental value in society and people are considered first and foremost as productive and consumptive units, "objectification" will inevitably continue. (4)

It could easily be argued that women "objectify" men every bit as much, if not more, than men "objectify" women. If men look for appearance in women, women look for money in men. Another way of saying this is that if men regard women as "sex objects," women regard men as "money objects." Check it out. Look through the "personals" sections of tabloids such as The Village Voice or The Bay Guardian. What do women running ads want? More than anything else, money. (Their code words are "solvent," "secure, "successful," and "professional.")

The "objectification" of men by women brings up an interesting consideration: the class background of porn customers. If the customers of the Back Door were typical, as I believe they were, it's safe to say that men who consume pornography are predominantly working class men—blue collar workers, salesmen, and low-paid white collar workers. It's not difficult to figure out why. A man's ability to get laid in the present society is highly dependent upon his income. Middle and upper class men can afford to "entertain a woman in style" (vacations, weekends at country inns, etc.) or shell out $100 for a hooker if they get the urge. Working class men, on the other hand, can only afford to spend a few bucks occasionally for admission to a porn palace or for a copy of Hustler.

Even in "normal" romantic liaisons, things are bad. Most women seem drawn to money and power like buzzards are drawn to carrion. A great number—including many who bridle at the way men "objectify" women—won't even look at low-paid men because of class prejudice, because low-paid men are not desirable "money objects." Thus we have the grotesque spectacle of women complaining about a "man shortage" while they're surrounded by working class men they don't even see.

Working around such prejudiced women can be maddening for men in service industries or retail. You become a non-person. You simply don't exist. It makes you feel about as respected as a slave in the antebellum South. Such prejudice can be largely explained by the economic discrimination women face. But the prejudice persists even when its underlying cause vanishes. As an example, you'll seldom find female executives flirting with male secretaries, nor female physicians with male nurses or orderlies. Even though this class prejudice can be explained, that doesn't make it any easier to bear.

SEX FOR ITS OWN SAKE

Behind much criticism of pornography lurks the traditional judeochristian idea that there is something inherently wrong with sex, that it's somehow dirty and evil. That it's necessary "to excuse it" through marriage, or, more commonly nowadays, through "love." But I don't buy that. I don't believe that sex needs to be justified; I believe that sex is its own justification. Why? Because it feels good. Because it produces pleasure and human happiness. For me that's enough—I believe that sex is inherently a good thing simply because it leads to human pleasure and harms no one. I'd agree that sex is generally better when there is an emotional attachment between partners; but I've also had many very enjoyable sexual experiences with partners with whom I've had little or no emotional attachment. I prefer sex with love—but I'll take sex without love over no sex at all any day.

Attitudes similar to mine seem to be much more common in men than in women, which helps to explain why the vast majority of pornography consumers are male. In American society men are conditioned to believe that attempting to satisfy their sexual needs is perfectly acceptable—even in so alienated a manner as paying to sit in a room with a bunch of strangers watching images of other strangers engaging in sex acts—while women are conditioned not even to express sexual needs. A second explanatory factor is that the male dominance and occasional violence in pornography are quite probably turnoffs for most women.

A third is that it's easier in some ways for women to satisfy their sexual needs under present circumstances than it is for most men. Virtually any "decent-looking" woman, if she wants to, can go out and get laid within a few hours, any time, anywhere. The fact that relatively few women take advantage of that opportunity because of their repressive conditioning, the risks of pregnancy and VD, and the chauvinist attitudes and obnoxious behavior of many men, does not alter the fact that they do have the opportunity. The retail porn industry, as I experienced it, is a sleazy and grotesque (5), but highly profitable, business. (6) But that's all it is—a money-making monument to sexual repression. Only by the wildest stretch of the imagination could one imagine roomfuls of pathetic geeks pounding their puds while watching fuck flicks as a threat to women. It's equally farfetched to consider that a form of sexual liberation. (I find it difficult to imagine anyone with a satisfactory sex life plunking down five bucks for the privilege of jacking off in a disease pit like the Back Door.)

A further consideration, however, is the quality of that opportunity. Several women who read an earlier draft of this piece told me that most men are inconsiderate and, at best, mediocre lovers; and a woman's chances of getting off well, or really enjoying herself, in a sexual encounter, especially a one-night stand, are fairly low. If that's the case, the sexual prospects of most women are as bleak as they are for most men. It's a paradoxical situation in which both parties come out losers: women can, but generally don't want to, while men generally want to, but can't. So, you end up with millions of frustrated women sitting at home, and millions of frustrated men sitting in porn theaters.

On the other hand, lonely guys, such as I encountered at the Back Door, are not the only adults who use pornography. I recently worked at a large record store with a video counter, and at least half of the customers renting X-rated films were either women or couples, persons obviously not using pornography as a substitute for sex, but as an addition to it. That being the case, one is inescapably led to the conclusion that, at least in some instances, pornography is a good thing because it harms no one and increases human pleasure. At worst, pornography functions as a harmless, and perhaps necessary, escape valve for the sexually frustrated. At best, it serves as a means for many people to increase the pleasures of their sex lives.

Censorship of pornography would only increase the power and serve the ends of the misogynistic puritans who hate all forms of sexual expression. It must be opposed. And sex must be proposed. A hard-driving pro-sex position is an absolute necessity. It's our best and most persuasive means of protecting the freedoms we now have and of erecting others.

—by Chaz Bufe

(1) Even the militant pro-censorship group Women Against Pornography estimates that only 10-15% of pornography contains violence.

(2) Titles didn't matter much at the BD. Quite often we'd cut the titles from a film, invent a new name for it, and then advertise and rerun it under the new name a couple of weeks later.

(3) I am NOT suggesting that "splatter" films be censored. I consider the dangers of censorship far greater than any—thus far undemonstrated-dangers these films might pose.

(4) A bizarre illustration of this recently occurred at my last place of work. Two of the barracudas— female managerial variety—were inspecting a cute baby in a stroller. One turned to the other and cooed: "Oh look! A future customer!!"

(5) At times, the sleazyness or the porn bit borders on the surreal. I vividly recall a visit I made one evening around Thanksgiving to my pal Russell. who was then working at Zorba's Adult Bookstore. When I walked through the door I was floored. The dildos, autosucks, and fist fucking magazines were still in their racks and the inflatable "love" dolls were still hanging from the ceiling—but there was a difference: the entire place was covered with christmas decorations. The crowning touch was a red ornament dangling from the tip of 'The Destroyer," a two-foot-long, two-inch-thick dildo.

(6) The blimped-out, cigar-sucking, white-shoed grossero who owned the Back Door was netting at least $1000 a week from it.

Kelly Girl Plays Postmistress

fiction by kelly girl

It was Kelly's first day working at VentureTech, Inc., and she hoped it would be her last. The place had a funny feel about it. There were a lot of Enlightened Management amenities, like good coffee, abstract floral prints on the walls, and comfort rooms with futons. But there was something creepy about how all that enlightened male niceness came across. It was better when the bosses were out-and-out pigs--you knew what you were dealing with.

In this office, you couldn't tell if the boss-guy was putting his arm around you when he was telling you how to do the fucking word processing because he believed Touching Is Good, and promotes Staff Well-being, or if he was just being a letch like every boss who ever tried to cop a feel. Kelly suspected the latter, although who knows? Maybe these young enlightened executive types had been in the spanky-clean office numbness for so long, recharging their energies at lunchtime in the corporate ExerCenter downstairs, that they had even lost all lust.

Sean, Kelly's boss for the day, slipped her a stack of papers with imperative-sounding post'em notes. grabbed his Adidas bag and headed for the elevator. "Time for the work-out," he said, smiling. "I need those letters out by two o'clock, but you be sure to try to get some fresh air yourself. Right, Kelly thought, turning off the word processor. She figured she could fuck off for about an hour, then take lunch when the guy got back. It makes no difference if letters get mailed by two or five, he just likes to give orders. She started looking around her cubicle, then got up and peeked into Sean's office. It was done in New Age blues and salmons, with cushy round chairs and lacquered wicker bookshelves. He had his own fresh water dispenser in there, and rows of vitamins and weird green powders, which explained the stale seaweed smell. Kelly went over to the blond oak desk and tentatively opened a couple of drawers. The top ones were full of colored pens and personalized stationery and trail mix. She opened the bottom drawer a little and saw some glossy magazines. She opened it all the way and got the full view: Crotch Shots, Suck, Hustler, Bondage Babes, the works. She picked up one of the magazines and started leafing through. It was pretty hard core. Yuck. The stuff kind of grossed Kelly out. She usually got secretly turned on looking at sexy pictures. But these made her feel like she wanted to go buy Carter's cotton undies and stay home reading Louisa May Alcott.

The creepy thing about the magazines, a: least seeing them here in the office, is that there aren't any nude men anywhere. The sacred dicks are behind-the-scenes, running the show. Hiring their temporary cunts to do their work and give them a cheap thrill on display in the outer office. Kelly wondered if Sean was really into kinky sex, whether he'd be fun in bed. Nah. He probably got the same kind of pleasure in bed as in the office-the pleasure of being in control and getting as much as he can for the least he can do. Someone opened the door. Kelly slammed the drawer shut and turned around like she'd just been admiring the view.

"Hey, you know where Sean is?" Kelly turned around. The guy was tall with a few beaded braids in his dark tangled hair. He had on a turquoise T-shirt and orange high-top tennies. Kelly was relieved; it must be a messenger or the mailroom guy. "Lunch, she said, edging back towards the door. The guy was staring in the vicinity of her chest with a funny smile. She looked down and realized she was still clutching a copy of Hot Licks. She got a flushed hot feeling all over. "I was just..." She couldn't decide whether it was worse to be caught snooping or reading porn magazines in the inner-office. Fuck it, let him figure it out. "... getting his mail," she said, scooting over to his out box and scooping up the stack of papers. hiding the cover of the magazine. She quickly walked past the guy back to her own desk. Another wave of hot tingles came over Kelly. but this time. she noticed uncomfortably, it had to do with the closeness of the guy's loose, expressive body in this charged atmosphere. He followed her out. She was safe behind her desk. She picked up a couple of pieces of mail from her desk and handed the whole stack to him. "So here you go," she said, turning toward her Wang.

He took the papers, but he didn't leave. Kelly turned around toward him. He handed her the magazine from the bottom of the stack, trying to control a smirk. "Better not forget this," he said. "Oh yes. Thanks," she said absently, slipping it into her purse. "Bored?" he asked.
"Huh?" What was he offering?
"The office work. Typing. Bet it gets boring.
"Oh. She smiled. "You bet. It sucks." She looked up at his T-shirt and wanted to nuzzle her face in it.
"Yeah. At least I don't have to work out here where they can watch over everyone.
"So what's your name?" she asked him.
"Clutch".

She paused and extended her hand.
"Kelly." He had a soft, firm handshake, lightly slid his fingers off her palm. He motioned toward his cart. "Mailman." She pointed at her Wang. "Temporary.
He nodded. "Well, I gotta go.
Sean came back in from his work-out, and all Kelly could do was picture him chained to an examination table in his spiffy suit with some dominatrix poking at his dick through his zipper with a sharp steel rod, making him beg her to stop. Sean stood in front of her looking through his mail. His bluish fingers on the manila seemed tense and up-tight. No, she couldn't picture him in bed--Ick. "Any calls?" he said, smiling at her just enough to make her sick. He probably paid people to smile like that. "No," said Kelly, folding her arms. He looked at her long hair and slithered down to her fingers on the keyboard. "I had a great work-out," he said, as if Kelly'd asked. "We've got a wonderful exercise center downstairs--really gets everyone in tip-top tone." He lifted his pecs a little bit, most likely for approval, and ran his hands through his moussed hair. "Would you like to try it out after work? We don't usually let temporary help in the club, but I bet I can sneak you in as my guest. "No," said Kelly, and then thought she'd better add, "Thanks."

"So did you finish the reports?" he asked, drooping again. He said it in a tone like he probably always said 'did you come?' "No," she said. He frowned and lost his slimey, friendly demeanor. "I want them immediately." He went into his office. Probably to beat off. Kelly finished word processing the letters, and started printing them out. Halfway through. the ribbon died. She beeped Sean on the intercom and asked him where the new ones were. "In the mailroom," he said. "You have to requisition them from the mailboy. An intercom light went on in her undies. She put it on hold and went out to look for the mailroom, down the hall past the kitchenette. He was in there, slipping letters in and out of the mail slots. She walked in real business-like. "Excuse me," she said, curtly, "but do you know where I can find a new ribbon for the printer?" She looked in the supply cabinet, picked up a bottle of white out, and rolled it between her fingers. He looked up. "Oh, hi." She wondered whether he could see her nipples sticking up through her Temporary Blouse. "Hi." She leaned against the mail shelves and stayed there for a few moments, noticing the little red lines around his intense blue irises. "Ribbons," he said. "What?" She blinked, spaced out. "Yeah, ribbons."

He reached across her up to a top shelf, just brushing her chest with his. She got a good whiff of his yummy/stinky smell. "You may have to move," he said. "They're way up here." She slid underneath his arm as he stretched way up for the ribbons. The whole box spilled down on the floor, startling Kelly. They both got down on the floor to pick them up: her hair in his face, arms touching and crossing. He leaned back on haunches. "I'm a klutz," he said matter-of-factly, smiling. "No big deal," she said, putting her hand on his back for support, slowly standing up. Then she offered him his hand. He took it and pulled her back down on top of him. They had 80% body contact for a couple of squishy moments, but stopped just before they started squirming all over each other. He laughed at himself. "I told you I was a klutz." He pulled her up, both aware of the energy charge between them, but both unwilling to make another move. Kelly thought about knocking something else over, but figured by now it was pretty cliché.

She straightened her box of ribbons, and started looking around the room. 'You've got all the office supplies you and your friends'll ever need."

"Yeah. They comes in handy." He patted the Xerox machine. "Especially this."
"You do a lot of leaflets or what?"
"Yeah, flyers, xerox collages."
"Do you have any?"
"I've got a bunch, but they're put away in the other room." He pointed to a door at the end of the room. "The comfort station." He walked into the other room, which had futons, lamps, and easy chairs.
"This is a trip," said Kelly. She plopped down on a futon and set her water-based White-out and ribbons next to her.
"Well, they figure people need to recover from VDT rays or the Exercycle or whatever. It keeps 'em going."
Kelly eyed the door. "Do people come here very often?"
Clutch laughed. "I wouldn't say that.
Kelly blushed. "You know what I mean." She hit him playfully.
Clutch closed the door. "There. It's locked."
"That's supposed to make me feel more comfortable?"
"Sure," he said, then opened a cabinet and pulled out a box full of xerox collages. "Then no one will find out what subversives we are."
"I'm just getting printer ribbons."

Clutch brought the box over to the futon. He brought out a couple of collages of media-twisting advertisements and words. Kelly held one of the papers and their hands touched. She slid her hand up his arm a little way. Clutch let the papers drop to the floor. He lightly pushed her all the way back on the futon. "Maybe I can see them later," said Kelly. She was wondering whether to make a break for it. He probably thought she was some kind of a Hot Licks sleeze, and he was just going for whatever he could get, typical male opportunist. "Maybe I could see you later." He kissed her from her neck up to her lips and stayed put for awhile. She thought maybe she'd go for whatever she could get. Might not be bad to have a few hot licks. Beats the Wang. "Maybe," she said, kissing him back, sliding her hands down the sides of his body, then sliding them back up the center, pausing on top of his tiny nipples. He smelled her hair and nosed his way down to her breasts. He stroked them, undid a couple of buttons, and put his cold hands on her bare nipples. He unbuttoned the rest of her blouse. She stroked his ass and pulled it closer to her, feeling how hard he was against her thighs. He kept kissing her slowly, down from the tips of her breasts to her ribs, to her belly-button. She pulled his shirt out of his pants, tugged it up over his head, and felt his warm body against hers. She gave him little bites on his neck and his ears, licking his earlobes until he shivered a little.

He pulled her skirt down and rubbed her through her stockings. "I hate stockings," she said, kicking her Temporary Pumps off. "Fucking uniform." She helped him peel them off and wondered how far this was going to go. He reached over and picked up the bottle of White-out.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Relax," he said. "You'll like it." He opened the bottle and brushed a white circle around her nipple. "Just relax and let me do whatever I want. You game?"
"I don't know."
"I'11 stop if you don't like it. But you will."
"If I get to do whatever I want next."
"Deal."

He put both of her hands above her head. "You have to pretend they're tied," he said, and kissed her. She nodded with her tongue flicking the top of his mouth. He brushed the White-out from her elbow to her armpit, and down to her breast.

"That tickles."
"Yep."
His other hand started working some fingers into her vagina, just barely touching her clitoris now and then. She started to squirm. He painted little designs on her tummy and outlined her pubic hair. Then he drew a line down the inside of a thigh to the back of her knee. Kelly moved her hands to touch him. "No," he said

He dropped the bottle. He traced the white line down from her breast with kisses, and buried his face in her pubic hair. His tongue started at the top of the crack and slithered its curious way down, slowly, round and round, to the tip of her clitoris. She jerked a little nervously. "I don't know about this." He continued. And continued. Kelly gave her doubts up to a strand of deliciousness that had taken hold. She followed it deep inside, swelling until it burst, until it collected itself again and went ever deeper, ever sweeter, ever more intense until she buzzed all over.He slapped her ass hard, and she caught her breath sharply; her body awoke to another sensation.He slipped three fingers inside her pussy then came up and kissed her on her mouth, and she tasted herself.With his thumb on her clit she came again, this time deeper, higher-pitched, shaking. She opened her eyes, took a deep breath and fixed her eyes on his Levi's. She stroked his hair and bent down to kiss his earlobes. Then she rolled herself on her side and kissed him all the way down to his tummy, alternately unbuttoning his jeans and stroking him from his thighs to his bulging underwear. She bent over to untie his hi-tops, pulled them off, then pulled his jeans and his underwear down.

"My turn," she said.
"Looks that way."
She pinched his feet a little, then lightly stroked his legs. She leaned over him, her white-rimmed breast in his face, and picked up a printer ribbon. She pulled some of the ribbon out and started wrapping it around one of his wrists.
"No way," he said, squirming.
"Yes.

She tied his hands on either of him to the slats on the futon frame. Then she tied his feet, legs spread out.
"This is really kinky," he said.
"Umm." She sat on the futon between his legs and started stroking herself in front of him and masturbating. She would stop occasionally and rub her breasts against his nipples and lightly lick his thighs. She grabbed his penis and slid herself down on top of it, squeezing him with her pussy muscles. She lifted herself up and down a few times and pulled him out of her.

"This isn't too safe," she said. He squirmed. She started licking around his penis. He stiffened some, and she kissed and licked under and over his balls, drawing a hard line up the underside of his penis. Then she stopped.
"Oh, baby, keep going."
"When I want to."

She bit his nipple and played with his penis in her hand. She slid her tongue back down to his penis. She put her lips over the top, over a little more, then slid all the way down, and up and down again, sliding her hands along his sides, tickling his balls. She sucked him until he shuddered and came. She slid her body all the way up his and wiped the leftover cum off onto the comfort station pillow. He kissed her.
"Will you take these things off now? I want to hold you." She started untying the ribbon, and turned at a sound in the mailroom .

"Shit," said Clutch. He ripped his hands and feet away from the printer ribbon. He put his hands over his face and groaned. "No, no. Work."

Someone knocked on the door. "Clutch?

It was a woman. "I need some more second sheet stationery. "Hang on, Sallie, he called. "I want to finish this burrito. He jumped up and put on his jeans and T-shirt. "How 'bout if I bring you some in a few minutes?"
"Okay, she answered. "But this letter has to get out before 4:30."
Kelly picked up her camisole from the floor. He pulled her towards him for another kiss. "I want to stay here with you all night long.

She looked at the employee notices on the walls. "Think we could find somewhere else?" He laughed. She pulled her clothes on and straightened her hair in the mirror. All of a sudden they looked like they did before. She put on her pumps and stood up.

"I liked you better with your clothes off. She grabbed her box of ribbons and put her hand on the doorknob. "Back to the zone." "Don't forget your White-out." She smiled. She went back to her desk, put in the ribbon and finished printing her stuff out, glad it was almost time to go. She felt a little funny in her skirt, blouse and stockings. The White-out was caking off inside her camisole. She didn't even know the guy. She probably wouldn't see him again. Being back at her desk, typing up letters she couldn't give a shit about, made her feel somehow like she was being taken advantage of by everyone.

Sean came out of the office. "So you're back," he said. He looked at his watch. "I took a late break." Kelly pictured herself as a photo in one of his magazines, pictured herself spread out, centerfold glossy, painted in white with Sean setting up the shot, hot lights making her sticky and unhappy, sweating White-out. Kelly thought about Clutch and felt a little like her most vulnerable self was spread-eagled in Hot Licks magazine. "Well, look. Finish printing that stuff out, leave it for me to sign in the morning, and then watch the phones until five. I've got to take off a little early. "Okay. She put her Temporary Time Card in front of him. He signed it and nodded good-bye. She watched his briefcase get smaller and smaller and wondered what was repressed inside it. He stooped for a drink of water before leaving, stiff. What a jerk. She shook her head. Like she's going to make herself feel like a Bad Kelly Girl for having a little fun at work. A lot of fun. She waited until he was gone long enough for it to be safe, then she put on her jacket to leave and walked out, avoiding the mailroom.

In the elevator, she pictured Clutch's orange hi-tops strewn on the station floor and tried to remember his hair smelled like. She looked at the three neatly-suited men in the elevator, each with an identical briefcase, each numbly staring at the walls as they descended to the lobby, and she laughed out loud.

by Kelly Girl

My Interview with Pisstex

true story by sarkis manouchian

Currently the Reagan administration is trying to whip up national hysteria over drug consumption. Part of this hysteria is the effort to implement mandatory drug testing for all American workers. The administration's war on drug consumption presumes that drug abuse can be stopped by police and military repression. Drug abuse is treated as a social problem that can be eliminated through state-backed sanctions, rather than as a medical problem that requires medical treatment. Moreover, this war on drug consumption ignores the underlying causes of drug abuse and fails to distinguish between recreational drug use and serious drug addiction. Accordingly, children are being encouraged by Big other to turn their parents in for the heinous crime of smoking a joint. The government solution to drug abuse is firing workers who test positive on frequently inaccurate drug tests. Having already eliminated most health care services for workers, the Reagan administration patronizingly claims to be concerned with health. To quote Nancy Reagan, "just say no" to external control of your life.

Several large corporations are making a lot of money through mandatory drug testing at the worksite. One of these corporations is SYNTEX (U.S.A.).When I sent my resume to them, I had no idea what the corporation did. After talking with a headhunter in Pale Alto, I discovered that SYNTEX was a transnational pharmaceutical corporation. A few days before my interview, I talked with a friend who happened to work for a law firm that represents SYNTEX. My friend mentioned that SYNTEX was facing a large lawsuit in the United States as a result of the rather nasty side effects of its product ORAFLEX. Two days before my interview, I read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that mentioned SYNTEX(U.S.A.) and PHARMCHEM as major urine analysis companies with corporate testing contracts. Well before my interview, I had decided that I was not going to be part of a corporation promoting mandatory drug tests and thereby promoting greater corporate control over all our lives.

As I drive over the Bay Bridge, I wonder why well-educated people would piss in a bottle for a job. My radio is tuned to KALX, which is blaring out a classic from the Avengers:

You're nothing but a white nigger
Working for the corporation
Selling your soul for the company
So young so ambitious
You're nothing but a white nigger

The thought of thousands of Stanford graduates pissing in bottles makes me eak into uncontrollable laughter.I arrive in Palo Alto thirty minutes ahead of schedule, drive into the second SYNTEX driveway, and park in a visitor parking spot. The SYNTEX complex consists of several large buildings arranged in a corporate campus with a park and duck pond. As I listen to MDC's classic "John Wayne was a NAZI," I watch the three-piece executives walking by. I also watch the blue-collar, security-badged types moving boxes of test tubes from building to building. The SYNTEX corporate environment resembles state socialism—completely controlled.

I walk from my car to the employment building." Hello, I'm Sarkis Manouchian. I have an interview with David Laidlaw." The receptionist looks down a list of names and checks mine off." Please fill out an employment application. Mr. Laidlaw will see you shortly." I read the application. On the last page I notice the following: "If the applicant is selected for a position, the applicant is required to Pass both a physical examination and a drug screening test. If the applicant refuses to take either test, the applicant will be withdrawn from consideration for the position in question." Then a tall blond man in his middle thirties, wearing a dark blue wool suit, approaches me.

DL: Hi, I'm David Laidlaw.
SM: Nice to meet you.
DL (smiling and looking at me): Would you like some coffee?
SM (also smiling): No, I'm fundamentally opposed to drug consumption, especially drug consumption on the job.
DL (confused): What? Well, come into my office and have a seat. I'd like to tell you a little bit about our company. Right now we have 11,000 employees at this site. In the next five years, we plan on expanding to 20,000 employees. We've already bought the land and have drawn up the plans. In 1985 we made over $150 million in profit. We have assets of close to one billion.
SM (looking at the SYNTEX management awards on the wall and the cluttered desk next to me): Can you tell me about some of your products?
DL (looking self-assured): Of course I can. In 1985 NAPROSYN was the fifth largest-selling pharmaceutical in the United States, with over two hundred and eighty-seven million dollars in sales. This year we released an anti-ulcer drug called GARDRIN in Mexico. We expect this drug to do quite well. If you join SYNTEX, you'll be joining a very stable corporation with a strong and diverse product line. You will not experience the ups and downs of other corporations in the Silicon Valley
SM (looking at David intently): Why wasn't GARDRIN released in the United States as well as Mexico?
DL: We haven't got clearance from the FDA yet.
SM: What percentage of SYNTEX's profit do you expect to come from urinalysis in the next five years?
DL (visibly upset and staring at the ground): Excuse me?
SM (looking directly at David): How much of your planned expansion is based on mandatory urinalysis tests?
DL (extremely nervous): I'm sorry I don't have figures on this subject. We do require all our employees to take pre-employment drug tests. All the big companies are moving in this direction. We believe it's in the employees' best interest to submit to drug testing.
SM (glowering): Why?
DL: Well, because there's a big drug problem in this area in particular and the nation in general. This is a very touchy subject. Some workers regard these tests as an invasion of their privacy. However, we believe something must be done to stop drug abuse.
SM: It seems to me that pre-employment drug testing violates the fourth amendment of the Constitution. I don't see how you can make drug testing a requirement for employment. Furthermore, if SYNTEX were truly worried about drug abuse, it wouldn't market drugs that haven't been fully tested. If SYNTEX were really worried about drug abuse among its workers, it would provide voluntary and free medical programs for them.
DL (coldly): Well, we think our president—President Reagan—is one hundred per cent behind drug testing. We don't think the Supreme Court will be rigid on this issue. Besides, urinalysis products are only small part of our product line. Thank you for your interest in SYNTEX. Let me show you the door.
SM (smirking): Did I get the job?
DL (smoldering): I'11 have to discuss your case with management!

—by Sarkis Manouchian

Big Bang

fiction by jeff goldthorpe

Can I have everyone's attention please? We're in the planetarium today to get acquainted with the autumn constellations.

What did he say? Acquainted with what? Is my light-headedness from swivel chair dizziness or synthetic twilight's creep? Leaning back in chair, my body feels wired, tight but floating. Heart pounds ready to stop any moment, breath glimmers. A twinkling ache in tender swollen throat. Couldn't be. Throat culture taken for strep. Couldn't ask if it's. Couldn't be.

And if there are any questions about Friday's lecture on the Big Bang and Steady State theories, feel free to raise them as well.

The lithe dancer I spent the night with reappears through swarms of students every week, Walkman tape player earphones glued on. Looks more pale and gaunt than usual. But can't talk to him, haven't talked in years, swimming by alone in the current.

You will need to remember a number of these constellations for your next quiz. For starters, let's take a look at Cygnus the Swan, over here.

I'm healthy, don't want to be branded. If I ask, the nurse's brisk routine would stumble into stutter into "One moment, please," reappearing a few minutes later with address of special testing clinic. She will hand it over to me at maximum distance, like the fencers touch their swords at start of match. What if someone saw me go to testing clinic? Don't want to know.

Professor Rennick, is it true that every galaxy is flying away from every other galaxy at an ever greater velocity?

The first scare was in 1983: Tom. Brief affair had been in 1981. By 1983 we were both in steady relationships. He with a man, I with a woman. Tom spoke of the scare he and his lover had had: They'd both been tired, their lymph node glands had been swollen. A flash passed between Tom's eyes and mine. "But it was nothing," he said. We've crossed paths less and less since then.

Professor Rennick: Maybe it just appears from our position in the Milky Way that all the other galaxies are receding from each other. What if they are actually only moving away from us?

I worked as a dishwasher at a restaurant on Castro Street in 1984. When a customer came in who was obviously a victim of the disease, the waitress recommended I put his dishes in a separate dishpan, instead of the sink, "just in case. " I'd heard there was only a minor possibility you could get it from saliva, but there had been some exceptional cases which raised questions. The man ate an enormous amount. So by the time I lugged this dishpan full of dishes, hot water and clorox into the alley way, I almost sprained my back. We talked about it a lot at the restaurant. Should we volunteer at Project Shanti? Should the baths be shut down? I began to see leaflets for benefits for the victims. One showed a picture of a healthy, sexy, vibrant young man, stripped to the waist, wearing feathers in his hair, glitter on his face, paint on his chest. After getting fired, I was happy to leave the neighborhood.

The apparent shift of the galaxies away from our own is not the only evidence we have of the Big Bang; there is also evidence of background radiation still in motion, coming evenly in all directions, a sort of distant echo from the Big Bang.

Getting fired was: talking to my friend on the phone (who had helped me get the job originally, when he quit), who told me that the restaurant owner said my co-workers were talking about problems they had working with me. Owner had to fire me after the Christmas rush. After hearing that, I quit a few days before Christmas. So it was good to leave the neighborhood. I was escaping from it. I did not consider myself as part of the high-risk group. I was comforted by the blank unknown faces of a new neighborhood. Silent closed faces on the bus, crawling through traffic jams to school.

But the real question about the Big Bang is: will it continue to expand forever or will it collapse into itself?

I have two friends on opposite sides of the country with friends who are dying. Now I hear people saying that the incubation period could be 10 or 15 years. Not only will the upward curve of victims continue. but more people will be giving birth to children with the disease, and more will simply be afraid to reproduce. I cannot tell my new friends either. I know they will try to sympathize. But they will visit me in my new apartment less often. It's easier to call by phone. Phone voices will be muted, then recede into static. They will flinch when I hug them. How can I object? Just think of my friend Larry, who disappeared for years in the corridors of mental hospitals and welfare hotels, reappearing ragged, and I kissed him on the cheek and not on the lips as I used to, because of flash fear: UNCLEAN.

It depends on the amount of matter in the universe. If there is less than critical mass it will be insufficient to stop the expansion.

Can't talk about it with the woman I live with.

The stars cool and die, matter itself decays and the universe becomes a thin cold haze of elementary particles.

by Jeff Goldthorpe

Your Knife in my Life

tale of toil by linda thomas

Having been sick a lot as a child, I developed a great rapport with my doctor. We talked about everything, including sex, and because I was sexually active, I point blank asked my doctor for birth control when I was 14 years old. He gave it to me because he had expressed concern for my future. He was afraid that I might become trapped into teen motherhood.

I became sexually active with my boyfriend just before I turned 14. He was angry because I didn't bleed a lot the "first time." He accused me of not being a virgin, which was true. I was raped, very brutally, when I was five years old, and subsequently sexually abused until my teens. I could not tell my boyfriend this. He was insanely jealous and violent, and I already felt that the abuse was somehow my fault. Of course he also came from a violent, abusive home. Our sex life became our whole life. We couldn't stay out of bed together—we did everything we could imagine, as often as possible. We both got burned out at a certain point—it was becoming obvious that "sex is not everything." We fought a lot. He beat me. I was living with him in his grandmother's house.

I tried returning to my mother's house, but the violence there was much more literally life-threatening. I knew he would beat me, but I believed she would kill me. The last time I ever stayed in her house, she broke my bedroom door down with the poker (we had a coal stove), but when she rushed at me, my dog attacked her. He saved my life. When, in her lucid moments, I tried to ask her why she was the way she was, she told me I had it easy, that her father had beat her regularly with a horsewhip. She had scars on her back. She escaped into marriage. I escaped into sex.

Until my boyfriend, whom I trusted blindly and totally, my sexual feelings were confused with pain and abuse. With him, I felt love and warmth—albeit tinged with antagonism, some contempt, and lots of fear. It had just the right tone of familiarity to be bearable and even comfortable. When he began to develop a fixation with knives (my mother's favorite weapon), and there was a bizarre accident where I was stabbed, I knew I had to leave. I was lucky. When I ran away, I ran to good people who protected me. Even though I graduated from that life of sexual abuse into prostitution, I was at least not on the streets. Most people who hear my story naturally assume I must hate and fear all men. Yet men themselves have helped to prevent this. I have known and experienced the worst they can offer, but also the best. For example, there was Ronnie Wiggins (how I wish he could read; I would love for him to read this). When I was in my early twenties I got a job as a receptionist in a massage parlor. I was trying to get out of the Life and even though Ronnie had pimped a little, he never even suggested that I go back into it. His pimp friends always teased him about that, and about how, when he was pimping, he hadn't bossed his women, or taken all their money. He was a "wimp pimp." He was just a kind man who really felt it when he hurt other people.

One night at work, I was raped. This man had come in several times to talk and I never suspected a thing. He had a long knife with him. My heart felt like he had twisted it into me. He told me he was a "Black Muslim" and that he had twelve Muslim friends outside who were going to come in and "cut me into little pieces." When I went home to Ronnie, who is also a black man, he had a couple of friends over. I felt suddenly as though perhaps it was all a "Black Muslim" conspiracy—I was confused and frightened, even of Ronnie. He tried to talk to me, and then he began to make love to me. I was shocked. I thought he was getting off on what had happened to me, and it may be true that some element of that was present. But as he made love to me, he took hold of my arms, and looked into my face and repeated over and over—"It's ME, It's ME." My response to that gesture was to realize there is a distinction between man and rapist, and between black man and black man as rapist. Sure, I was raped by a brother. But I was also raped by my own brother—of the golden hair and green eyes. There were two striking similarities between them. They both had huge dicks, and they both wanted me to tell them it was "the best I'd ever had." Non-huge penises of the world, relax!

As I reached my mid-twenties, the last stage of moving out of the Life found me briefly on stage at the Sutter Street Theatre—a "classy" joint. The stints there were for two weeks; pay was $500. I did not know that for the second week of appearance, I was supposed to work up a whole new show, and I couldn't afford a new costume, etc. The employers in these places are typically very "sympathetic" in a manipulative way. Had I explained to them that I didn't have the money to put together another show, I believe they would've offered to advance my pay. Then I would've had to use all or most of it to create a new show—therefore my goal of getting in and out with the whole $500 would have been defeated. Instead I told them I was burned out and would do my second week later on. I got a job at the Palace to try to get up the cash to finance my new show and have time to create one. The Palace Theatre, 55 Turk St., Tenderloin, San Francisco, was not nice. Men in the audience jerked off with wild abandon. The place was filthy and reeked of urine and semen.

The Sutter Street owners found out I was at the Palace, and when I called them, they lambasted me for my disloyalty and told me I was blacklisted from then on. The only work I would be able to get was in joints like the Palace. I was devastated. There was nothing to do but go on. By this time, I felt I really had no sexuality except as the false seductress, and that role can only go so far in real life. The projectionist (a handsome, sensitive, loving man with little of the "animal challenge" in his character) and I developed a friendship which eventually evolved into a love affair. His way was very gentle, though reserved. In this atmosphere, I felt free to stretch myself once again into the arena of my own sexual being. I have in fact known many good men who have helped me a great deal. But mostly, I am aware that my own efforts and determination have propelled me towards a full life.

It has been a very difficult struggle from cold to warm to human. Sometimes I still feel that I am going to die from the inside out. But I do finally believe there is a way out of the vicious cycle of violence, and the vicious cycle of sexual falseness. The feeling that it is "my fault" (typical self- blaming pattern in incest and sexual abuse) also is fading away. I do not belittle the pain that I and others (so many others—the secret silently kills—but to face it seems like instant death) have endured, but I do believe that the issue of blame must be properly placed. The archetypal concept of evil does not fit. I cannot say my mother was to blame. I cannot say her father was to blame. Nor can I lay the fault at the hands of social workers who promised me "this time..."

Value is placed on things, and value judgments are passed on people. If he's dirty don't touch him. If she's sick don't go near. If it's pretty buy it. I have learned there is a personal escape from poverty and violence. But I don't know if there is an escape from the vicious cycle of the world system. The knife seems to have been planted too deep—the infection seems to have spread too far. Somebody call the doctor...and if that doctor isn't in, we can always get Dr. Feelgood on the line.

by Linda Thomas

Also check out “It's A Business Doing Pleasure With You” from Issue #7.

Wenda

fiction by james pollack

Wenda knew the fleeting sense of money. Wenda knew how quickly it was made and how quickly it was spent.

Wenda was beautiful and worked in a fancy men's store selling trousers.

Wenda cut cheese at Poured Drinks. She was a feeder. You could tell it the first time you saw her. Here was a feeder.

She worked so many jobs you couldn't keep up with her. You'd walk into a nice place and look around. Maybe Wenda would be there. Behind the bar. In the kitchen. Maybe over at the make-up stand. You never knew. Wenda was everywhere. I saw her over at the Ferrari place selling Ferrari. Next week it was Maserati. She was ubiquitous.

She sold to one clientele though. That was the string that pulled it all together, the thread in the melee. He had computer money. He lived down in the valley. Usually he was wearing argyles and some form of the updated classic. Button down shirts with an extra crease in the sleeve. Penny loafer in ostrich. Shetlands that were hand knit in Hong Kong. You couldn't miss them. Go to the place where they were, and there was Wenda, ready to serve.

Wenda knew new money. Everybody said so. Lamborghini money.

On Saturdays she was off and she was down at the Cafe Portola. She was at the bar hanging with the other girls who drank Kirs. They all had make-up on back to their ears and they all tried to dress like Wenda. All forty of them I ever saw tried to look like Wenda. Wenda clones I called them. They had french bags with initials, Louie Bags, and tapered pants too short; so it made their legs look too long. You could tell a Wenda from a mile away. They all wanted those french legs.

They were all phonies though. They were all trying to copy the real thing. I never even looked one of them in the eye. I never even bought one a drink.

Wenda was California. From the top of her yellow head to the bottom of her ankle bracelet. It was California through and through. Wenda was from Chicago. That made her because she was a transplant living in San Francisco. She had that transient sensuality. A shark after the soft wear boys, a pursuer of new issues and prospectuses. A Ten D peeker. What they call a Wall Street Watcher.

She had that little Mercedes bought with all her boutique money, and it was as shiny as her skin. You couldn't separate her from the car. It was like another layer of face paint.

But why be disdainful? She was my only lover. She left me so now I call her the Wenda machine, and I look at all the girls and I think Wenda Wenda Wenda. Everybody looks like Wenda.

She sold me expensive trousers and a new car. She sold me Napa Valley. Wenda had everything. I'm thinking what do I need. A cruvinet?

I decide—if I take her down from the ankle diamonds on the bracelet, and strip off the red lacquer from the finger, wipe off the buff on the lips so it won't glow any more, strip it down to the real, layer it off until you can't find any more layers, then maybe I'll find it underneath—What's the real Wenda?

Wednesday my friend Harry says, "We go down to the Portola. We take a Wenda clone, maybe two Wenda clones, and we take them home. Then we see what's underneath, right?" I said "why not. What's it matter since they're all impostors anyway."

We got two. Wenda one and Wenda two. Harry got two and I took one. You couldn't tell them apart though. We started from the top with the hair stripper. Off with the blonde. We scrubbed down to the black. Then the face—all the way down to the pimples. Here they are, one and two Wenda, on the bed, layed out, scrubbed clean. And what. They still look alike, like all the other Wendas. Taken from their body, dismembered, if you will, on the sheets they're still identical.

Harry says, "Now what?"

"It proves to me one thing," I say.

"What's that?" Harry says. He's still got some Wenda all over him. Lipstick on the cheek that he's wiping.

"It proves that you take them apart, piece by piece, meticulous, scrub them until you can see yourself and the skin comes off, and they're still Wenda. You can't get any farther. I'm beginning to think we made a mistake."

Harry scratches his head. He was sure we were going to find something. He was sure there was something in these Wendas that would give off a clue, as to—Why Wenda! "Maybe you got to go out and find the real Wenda, bring her back here and then open her up. After all what separates the real from the fake?"

I have to agree with him. It's like the difference: image and reality, sign and signifier. "Where am I going to find her?" I throw up my hands. "We'll look," Harry says. What more can he say.

So every day I'm in the city looking. Wilkes. Saks. MacArthur Park. All the holes, water or not. I'm fishing. The real Wenda, and I'm wondering will I recognize her when I see her, now that there are so many fake ones I've been through. It's going to be a test, rigorous eye examination.

But what else do I have to do with myself. Harry says, "Go to work. Develop more machines. The season's coming. The shows in Las Vegas. You've got to have a new machine." I'm thinking how can I think of chips with Wenda on my mind.

All winter I work on the new machine to get it ready for the show and the New York guys. I hate New York guys, but without them, no Wenda. The Wendas would disappear without the New York guys.

"Maybe Wenda is in New York." Harry says.

"Very funny." Harry is the system architect and he's too fat with stock. I say, "Get serious Harry."

Harry is laughing up a storm at the key board. He's like the Bukowski of Portola Valley with his schemes and sense of humor. "You re a beatnik." I tell him.

So with the spring approaching I'm in full gear. Up to the city in the Wenda car, wearing the Wenda pants, and the Wenda horn rims. I'm in the Wenda mode. Over to the party on Pacific. I can feel it. This is going to be the night. I'm going to get lucky.

There are a million Wendas; you've got to swim through them, and I'm on an odyssey. I meet two in the bathroom tooting through two dollar bills. This is it. "You seen Wenda?" They both smile. It's that inviting Wenda smile. But I don't buy it. Impostors. 'The humor is wearing thin," I tell them.

Over near the bar there's a Wenda pouring drinks. Now that's more like it. A starting out Wenda, not an already-made-it Wenda. A Wenda of the proletariat, a proto Wenda.

"Hi. Let me have your specialty." This works with a Wenda.

Campari on the rocks, she pours. No Wenda here.

There is the pit near the barbecue where three Wandas are sunning themselves. I'm hot, I tell myself. One whiff of the perfume though and I know, no Wenda here.

I'm ready to give up and head back to the valley when I see her. Wouldn't one know it. When all the Wendas are spent the real Wenda appears.

She's an upper Wenda. No pants but a Gallagous dress. She's been with the six on dollar option man for sure. She's reeking with fresh money. I'm thinking I see him and I know it's her. Pop his head in my face and bango I know it. The Network king for the day. He used to fix laundry machines before he invented networking. It's the buzzword now. Everybody wants it. Networking. I'm passe. Where is the fiend?

"Wenda," I say, throwing caution to the wind.

"Billy?"

"Yeah."

"I can't believe it!"

It's Wenda all right; the real one. I'm thinking, what now? Harry where are you?

"MUSSHCCOOO."

Wenda machine kiss. Big with the lips. "I've been looking for ages," I say. "Now I've got to show you."

We're already walking to the car. She thinks it'll be a remembered one for our sake in the back of the Wenda machine. Networking is working and not even here. She doesn't know from nothing. Dumb Wenda as usual.

Down south we go, out of the city, to the Skyline and up to the house. We're out of the car and I'm thinking, first in the tub for the wash, then the scraping. She's kissing at my ear.

"Harry get over here," I say. I'm in the john with the john phone. "The real Wenda is here."

I entertain until Harry comes with the tools. We're undressed when he arrives and she's screaming. Typical Wenda move, the guarded life. I had enough of it years ago.

"Take her down Harry. Let's go from the top. Bathtub first."

"Christ, Wenda is saying. "I've never been this humiliated."

Harry is scrubbing. Best scrubbing I've ever seen. No follicle goes unturned.

"NONONON." She is laughing and screaming and crying. Just like a Wenda.

"This is it," Harry is saying. He's got the industrial stripper in his hand. I can see it now. We both are looking. We both are awed. The real Wenda; it's coming through. Harry is dancing. "I told you. The real Wenda would reveal herself."

Wenda has fainted now. Too overwhelmed to witness her own revealing, her own uncovering. Mystery of womankind right here, unveiled in the Wenda room in front of the valley boys. "Chipped out," Harry says. "You can't put it in words. One has to see it. No narrative can tell." It was exactly what I was thinking. I had to second.

You can't tell a Wenda by its cover. You can't tell one by its impostor. You've got to get the real Wenda and open her up to see. Then it's untranslatable, like Christ in flesh.

We're popping the champagne for the Wenda machine. Picture two guys, self-made guys, sitting around at the top of the Skyline with the secret of womankind. The Wenda secret, the reality principle.

Harry says, "Wow 0." I don't know what he's talking about. He's overwrought.

But it's profound. I sit back and feel the tears. Like Quixote after the quest. Over. I have ended the search and we have dug down to find the real Wenda. First thing I'm thinking—How to profit. Maybe give a call to Biogen and snap up the Wenda patent. Harry's got the gene right in his hand now. Just staring at it. No more fake Wenda. We've got real Wenda. He's handling it like a peach pit, rolling it in his fat little fingers and rubbing at the creases. It's a new industry—birth of the Wenda industry-two guys in a house up above the valley.

"Stop fingering the Wenda gene," I tell him. It makes me nervous. Harry is the horniest guy I !:now. He can't stop looking.

"Sorry," he says, "but I'm overwhelmed. They're never going to believe this at the club."

"You're not going to tell anyone," I say. "No squash shit bragging."

"O.K. O.K."

I can see the New York guys drooling. It's in my head. The newspaper headline, the interviews. More People press. A return to grace for two has-beens. I'll win her back from Networking. It's all in my head.

Then Wenda wakes up. A temporary lapse. She's disoriented and drunk, and she shrieks when she looks at herself in the mirror. Just lets out the meanest scream you ever heard, "MY MAKE-UP!" You'd think she was witnessing Hiroshima.

It's so deafening we have to cover our ears. She is running around the room like a new plucked chicken. It is a terrible sight, and Harry has still got the gene in his fingers. I don't want to say it was pretty. It sobered us up for sure; knocked the stuffings and the Roter out of our heads. We were split and scared. Womankind in the real. She was looking at herself, the real Wenda. Too much for her.

"Calm her down," Harry says.

It was understatement like Harry never has. She's over the balcony and falling down to the gravel before we can do a thing. Carcass and all. One look was all it took.

"Cops," Harry says. "They'll believe us." He hoists the gene.

I'm broken up and crying, leaning on the cedar pool, and letting the tears out for the first time. The real Wenda is gone and I killed her.

"All in the name of truth, Harry says, and pats my back. "Listen pal, it was in the name of science and mankind, in the name of bio-tech." Platonic ideal he even tries. Nothing works though. I'm crying over my Wenda till the cops come. My poor Wenda. And Harry has to do all the explaining.

"Genes! Genes!" he is screaming.

It was hopeless. Cuffed steel. They lead us out. The Wenda murderers. All over the valley that's what they call us. The Wenda killers. Every Wenda hates us now. But we've got the gene and we convinced the judge. He termed it suicide. It was a male verdict. The women wanted murder, not manslaughter. They wanted the full thrashings of the law on us.

Instead I'm fat with the Wenda gene, the exclusive. I'm living with our first manufacture, Wenda- sub one, and it's like beauty. Call it technology. I like to think we've replaced the need for sentiment. Now it's pure manufacture. She's user friendly like never before, my Wenda.

by James Pollack

863-AIDS

An account of working on an HIV-aids helpline in San Francisco.

Working at the AIDS Hotline

"How many cases of AIDS have been reported in Kentucky?"

"Can you hold while I look that up?" I turn to the printout at the front of the AIDS Hotline Encyclopedia. "OK, looking at the Center for Disease Control list here, it shows Kentucky as the 39th highest state at 56 reported cases. "Really? Well, how about Georgia?" "Georgia is 9th with 148 reported cases. "Can you look up Oregon?" "25th with 101 cases." "Delaware, what's Delaware?.. The woman asks for at least 5 more states before I finally ask why she wants to know. "Are you writing an article?" "No, uh, I just want to know." Perhaps she is just idly curious. But I suspect she wants to know where to move to be "safe. But I'11 never know for sure. All I can do is give out the information. It's up to the receiver to determine how she wants to use it.

I've been volunteering at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation hotline for a few months now. I do it because it is a good way to keep up on AIDS research, treatment, education and politics. I do it because I think education is the best way to stop the spread of the disease. Hotline workers go through an intensive 16-hour training that covers the gamut of the epidemic: the biology of the AIDS virus, immunology, safe sex, safe needles, talking comfortably about sex, community resources. At the start of each shift, each hotline worker reads through the "This Week" section to find out what's new in the "Encyclopedia," a looseleaf compendium of articles, memos, brochures arranged by subject. The subjects include things like: oral sex, opportunistic infections, alternative treatments, women and AIDS.

The calls are a steady test of how much I've absorbed. At least once very fifteen minutes, sometimes three or four times in a row, someone calls up wanting to know where to get the AIDS antibody test. Quick, easy, boring. I have the San Francisco number memorized, and I'm a person who barely knows his own phone number. California has set up anonymous testing sites in most regions. Instead of using names, the patient is assigned a number that is used through the whole process of counseling, testing, disclosing results. The test is conclusive and can alleviate fears. It's especially useful in cases like where the caller guiltily obsesses about a one night stand they had three years ago. When the test was first announced, some feared it would be used for work and insurance screening. Some people stupidly and callously use it for selecting lovers. The test is a good thing, but open for abuse.

I like the sex calls best. Not that they're titillating; they're mostly matter of fact, humorless even. People take their sex lives very seriously. I'm touched by the way people pursue pleasure in a repressive period: the guy in Georgia who likes to go to strip joints, the married woman in Sacramento who has a lover in San Francisco who she understands 'lives quite the wild life, the straight guy in Walnut Creek who likes to go home with men "now and then, when I'm in the mood." I talk with them about what they do, and how they can do it with less risk. Condoms, condoms, condoms. It's probably safe to kiss, here's why. Please, go right ahead and use that dildo, as long as you don't share it.

The hotline is getting more and more calls about using drug needles. These callers are not incoherent, crazed freaks. And while frequent bouts of safe sex are probably healthier than frequent bouts of intravenous methadrine, like with the sex calls, these people have found something that gives them pleasure and they want to know how to do it safely. We tell the callers to plunge the needle in a bleach and water solution, as little as 1 part bleach to 10 parts water works. Afterwards, draw water up and out at least twice to clean the works out; bleach can be very caustic to veins. I had a caller protest that the bleach also breaks down the needle's rubber stopper, which must be true. The best solution would be to legalize over the counter sale of needles, or even free needle distribution. But the drug moralists would rather see long painful deaths from AIDS than allow the easy obtaining of "paraphanalia."

Some things I hate. I hate when the TV cameras come to film. The reporters are very distracting. I remember talking to a man who thought he had caught AIDS from his girlfriend. He wanted to beat her up--a touchy emotional scene. All the while cameras were filming my "live drama." I was trying to focus on this caller,each word was being excruciatingly judged. I couldn't concentrate; the call ended badly. Television may be the ultimate means of mass communication; but mass media is mass voyeurism, using other people's trauma to titillate a population of couch potatoes.

The AIDS Foundation's Media Director is the worst sort of self-important boss. She orders volunteers around in a way that no one else would dare, or perhaps care to. When she's not being a bruiser, pie book. The chapter she forgot to read is "How Not To Be Obvious." The Foundation is a bureaucracy. It may be "politically progressive, gay sympathetic, equal opp. [sic], maybe even self-critical. But it's still bureaucracy with all the impulses toward self-preservation and self-importance. The slavishness to mass media and the consequent distortion of the Media Director's personality is one expression of this. Another expression is a survey released earlier this year. The survey inflated the AIDS carrier base among the Bay Area heterosexual population. It supported an argument that the Bay Area needed a larger educational campaign. Of course the Foundation would be the contractor for a huge portion of this campaign-institutional preservation overrides the real truth.

Despite these problems, I'm drawn back week after week. I like the busy days best, the days when the calls come in at a manageable pace--not too fast, not too many long gaps. If it's too busy, I leave feeling on edge. At my last shift, I fielded more than 20 calls during a three hour shift. By the end, I felt like an overworked Bell operator, checking myself from being too snappy, not always succeeding. Slow days can be pleasant, if the other hotline workers are amiable. It's odd though. I guess because the calls set such a strong emotional tone, I develop strong feelings about other workers, even though I see them maybe once for three hours every three weeks and hardly talk to them even then. If I run into a coworker I like on the street, it's instant ease and friendliness. If I run into one I dislike, I skirt around, avoiding them like an old boyfriend from whom I parted awkwardly.

My life was a lot less busy when I started working at the hotline. I should stop. But I'm still answering calls.

-- by Mark Leger