film series

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Call for Sexy Documentaries: Sex+++ Has Five New Themes

I hate to post two press releases in a row, but I’ve been very caught up in some Chicago community issues lately, so I haven’t had time to write anything more personal. I’ll bore you all with details about my life soon, I promise! In the meantime, please feel free to repost this …

SEX+++

pro-sex, pro-queer, pro-kink

Contact:

Clarisse Thorn :: clarisse.thorn at gmail dot com

+ Q. “What is being sex-positive?”

+ A. “Defining sex on my terms.”

+ A. “Understanding my sexual needs.”

+ A. “Being in charge of my sexual experiences.”

The Sex+++ Documentary Film Series is now entering its third year. We want to make it bigger and better than ever — and take it in new directions! We’re still discussing next year’s film line-up, and we’ve got a lot of ideas, but we also want to throw open the floor. We’re looking for suggestions and submissions: documentaries that are pro-sex, pro-queer, and pro-kink.

In 2011, Sex+++ will focus on several themes. We’re still discussing these themes, and they are subject to change as we research documentaries and develop the program, but here’s what we’ve thought of so far. We’re open to hearing more about any and all sex-positive documentaries — but in particular, if you’ve encountered documentaries that fit within these themes, please let us know!

+ THEME: Sex Everywhere

We want to explore how sexuality, sexual culture, sexual identity, and sexual pleasure are recorded, experienced, and understood outside the USA.

+ THEME: Love And Sex

We want to explore the many ways sex happens within romance, dating, relationships, marriage, and love.

+ THEME: Sexual History

We want to explore the history of sexuality, sexual culture, sexual identity, and sexual pleasure; we want to learn about sex-positive heroes.

+ THEME: Talking Sex

We want to explore how people talk about sex, sexual pleasure, and consent.

+ THEME: Activist Sex

We want to explore sex-related activism and how sex-positivity intersects with other social issues such as class, race, labor, health, justice and the environment.

Sex+++ will continue at its current amazing venue, Chicago’s own Jane Addams Hull-House Museum. Click here to learn what’s up with Sex+++ right now. And again — if you’ve got any documentaries to recommend, please get in touch! The primary contact for Sex+++ is Clarisse Thorn, who can be reached at clarisse.thorn at gmail dot com.

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Free tickets to CineKink Chicago!

I am currently offering TWO PAIRS of FREE TICKETS to a film of your choice at the upcoming CineKink: Chicago. If you want the tickets, then just email me with your name, tell me how long you’ve been reading my work, and include the title of the first post you ever read on my blog! (It’s okay if you’ve never heard of me before and the first post is this post.) I’ll put all the names in a hat tomorrow evening (Thursday) and pick two randomly, then I’ll email the winners. And you get to CHOOSE which movie you see for free with a friend or partner!

CineKink Chicago has a great 2010 lineup. These three films sound especially awesome to me:

Friday, November 19th, 8pm: S&M Judge (Trailer)

The 2010 CineKink Audience Choice Award Winner! A compelling drama in which a respected judge finds his job, reputation and family life in jeopardy after he and his wife begin to explore sadomasochism, with an opening reception for CineKink: Chicago to immediately follow the screening.

Saturday, November 20th, 2pm: My Sexuality: A Sensory Experience followed by a panel featuring meee! (Trailer)

Shines light on five ordinary women from different backgrounds, sexual preferences and past experiences as they experiment with activities intended to boost both sense of self and sexuality. Immediately following the screening will be a panel discussion about women, representations of sexuality and sex-positive filmmaking, including Clarisse Thorn!

Saturday, November 20th, 4.30pm: Waxie Moon (Trailer)

Takes the world of neo-burlesque by storm in a thought-provoking and hilarious documentary look at one artist’s unlikely journey.

But there are a bunch of other good films showing as well. Don’t you want free tickets? The films are being screened at the awesome Leather Archives & Museum (up at 6418 N. Greenview Avenue in Rogers Park). Local sponsors of CineKink Chicago include both my pet sex-positive documentary film series, Sex+++, and the wonderful sex toy store Early To Bed.

RECAP: For a chance to win TWO FREE TICKETS to CineKink Chicago, all you have to do is:

1) Email me, Clarisse Thorn: clarisse.thorn@gmail.com.

2) In your email, tell me how long you’ve been reading my work, and write the title of the first post you read on my blog. (It’s okay if you just found my blog, and the first post is this post! And if you can’t remember the title of the first post you read, just tell me what the post was about.)

3) Sit back and wait until Thursday night. I will email you if you win the tickets! And remember, if you win, you get to decide which CineKink movie you see for free!

Clarisse Thorn's picture

[advice] How did I know that S&M was right for me?

Originally posted at Clarisse Thorn: Pro-Sex Outreach, Open-Minded Feminism

I love it when people email me interesting questions. This letter is posted with permission:

Hi Clarisse –

I found your coming-out article on “Time Out” and I am both grateful and fascinated by your story. I apologize if this email is a bit personal, but I am unsure where to get honest non-judgmental advice. Recently a lover introduced me to SM and while I have always considered myself a fairly sexually tolerant and open person, I found myself unwilling to let go and trust with a scenario. On the surface, I feel I would very much enjoy what BDSM has to offer, but in practice I am unable to fully appreciate? the fantasy.

My questions to you are: did it take a bit a time for you to … hm … let go of yourself with this type of play?

It seems from your article that you recognized this lifestyle was / is a “fit” for you. How do you know if it is the right lifestyle for you?

Also, you mentioned some therapists who specialize in understanding the needs of alternative lifestyle folks. Could you direct me to some resources for additional information?

Here’s my response:

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Chicago-area pro-BDSM, sex-positive events this week!

Now that I have successfully ambushed my good friends in their home, I can break my semi-secrecy and announce that I am home in Chicago! This week only! (My favorite part was when I dashed into a close friend’s room, threw my arms around him from behind and was already squeaking with joy by the time he realized it was me and shouted “Holy shit holy shit!”)

Because I am me, I have arranged a host of sex-positive, pro-BDSM events for your pleasure even though I am only here for a week. Note that all these events are free and open to the public (though one comes with a suggested donation)!  Check it out:

SEX+++ DOCUMENTARY FILM SERIES: “SLUT” (2004)
Tuesday, February 9, 7 PM
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 800 S Halsted

Every town has one. She was notorious in your high school. The girls harassed her; the guys had her. Or did they? Who is the slut? Can one be both virgin and whore? What does the word actually mean and why is it often shrouded with invention and intrigue? And should “slut” be added to the ban on “7 dirty words” from radio and television broadcast? Come out and join us at the ongoing Sex+++ Film Series for delicious documentary and discussion, and also some fascinating snacks! Chicago’s own sex-positive activist Clarisse Thorn, the original Sex+++ curator, is visiting from her work in Africa and will facilitate the post-film discussion.

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Hate Mail At Last: a Concerned Parent Writes In about my Sex-Positive Film Series

Hello blogosphere! I know I’ve been scarce of late. My Internet access is limited and when I can get it, there are often problems (for instance, it can be expensive; sex-positive sites may be blocked by overzealous porn filters; etc). I’m settling into my HIV/AIDS work here in Africa and it’s going well, but I’m still parsing out my thoughts about … well, everything. I’ve been working on some written pieces that I definitely intend to post online, but I’m not sure whether they’ll go here on my blog, or elsewhere. Stay tuned — if I post them elsewhere, then I’ll certainly announce it here.

I have, of course, been following the progress of my beloved sex-positive film series as best I could. The final film screening, “We Are Dad” — about gay adoption — is just around the corner on October 13th. That is, the final film in the original program that I curated … but I am thrilled to report that Sex+++ has gathered a crowd of such amazing, dedicated people that it’s likely to continue past my final curation date! I’ve been tracking the dialogue at a distance; there’s a committee working on continuing the series even now, and although my heart breaks to realize that I’ll be missing more incredible films and discussions, I am also so so so very proud that we created something that struck such a chord. (If you’re interested in being in on the continued progress of the series, go ahead and email Lisa Junkin [ ljunkin at uic dot edu ].)

I was always a little surprised that Sex+++ didn’t get more negative attention. When starting it, I was very cautious … I walked on eggshells, really. I believed and continue to believe that comprehensive sex education is necessary for everyone, that adult sex education is a vital step forward, and that sexuality is an important academic topic. But public sexuality is such bitterly contested ground in American culture, I thought for sure that someone would attack a series that’s open, honest and positive about everything from BDSM to sex on videotape.

It took longer than I thought, but it finally happened. A few weeks ago, this arrived in my inbox. It was copied to a number of people at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, the series venue, as well as administrators of the University of Illinois at Chicago (where the museum is located):

Dear UIC and Jane Addams administrators: 

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Sex-positive documentary report: “BDSM: It’s Not What You Think” and related shorts

 

I’m turning over a new leaf by failing to preface the post with a lot of text. This  Sex+++ documentary was pretty close to my heart ….

 

We showed Erin Palmquist’s “BDSM: It’s Not What You Think!” (check out the official website!) as well as two related shorts, “Leather” and “Cut & Paste”. I was heartbroken that technical difficulties prevented us from showing “Forever Bottom”, which I was really psyched about.  Oh well. The “Forever Bottom” DVD worked when we tested it on a laptop; we’ll try to get it to interface properly with the system and show it with a later film.

“BDSM: It’s Not What You Think!” is an unfinished film, but it’s definitely on the right track. It tries to describe what BDSM is — i.e., demonstrate that it’s more than a dominatrix in a catsuit with a whip — and work against anti-BDSM stigma by interviewing a bunch of kinksters about what they do, how they do it, how they feel about what they do. I loved a lot of the points it made — they’re obviously very similar to points I constantly make with my outreach presentation and such.

arvan's picture

Film review: Equality U (2008)

Recently, I attended a screening of Equality U (2008) at The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum as part of the Sex+++ Documentary Film Series.  This presentation's guest moderator was David Milhalfy.  He is a Ph.D. student at Univ. of Chicago Divnity School.  Assisting as always, was Lisa Junkin, Education Coordinator for the Hull House Museum itself.

Equality U documents a group of 33 young activists traveling to Christian Universities that have a policy of denying access to gay students.  Most if not all these activists are themselves Christian in some fashion. 

I care very much for the ability for anyone and everyone to be able to choose their own sex, gender and body definitions and identity.  I think it is awful that students find themselves in these universities hiding, lying and living in fear.  One statistic mentioned that BYU has the highest gay student suicide rate.  I think that treating people like that - the gang intimidation and bullying that comes from the student body and faculty being directed at these isolated and vulnerable students (who happen to be paying their tuition) - is an awful, awful thing.

And, so is this movie...but for different reasons. 

arvan's picture

Film review: "Liberty In Restraint" (2005)

I attended the recent screening of Liberty in Restraint, a documentary about BDSM phtographer Noel Graydon directed by Michael Ney.  The film was shown at The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum as part of the Sex+++ Documentary Film Series.  This week's guest moderator was a prominent member of Chicago's BDSM community, assisted by Lisa Junkin, Education Coordinator for the Hull House Museum itself.

 
Judging the film strictly upon its storytelling merit or message delivery (this is a documentary) I found the film to be unfocused.  There were plenty of interviews with Noel, his friends and people he has photographed.  There were scenes of BDSM being performed in dungeons, photo shoots and gallery openings.  There were the obligatory scenes of people walking around and making phone calls, etc.  In terms of sheer cinematic presentation, it was rather flat.  It is a low-budget documentary film and not Ken Burns' Baseball.  Even with that understood, direction, purpose and relevance are by-products of decision making and composition - not budget.  There is plenty here to work with, but the film just didn't seem to me like it knew where it wanted to go.  It may be that for those who are well-versed in BDSM culture and sensibilities, this film has a clear point.  But, I doubt it.
Clarisse Thorn's picture

Interview with Richard Berkowitz, star of “Sex Positive” and icon of safer sex activism

Our second film at Sex+++ was “Sex Positive”, a fascinating documentary about the history of safer sex. I’ll be honest: I was psyched about “Sex Positive” from day one, long before I’d even seen it. It was the first film I chose for my film list. In fact, the whole idea for the film series came out of a conversation I had with Lisa (our lovely Hull-House Museum education coordinator) in which I said that I wanted to see “Sex Positive”, and then added, “There are so many sexuality movies I want to see. You and I should have a regular movie night!” She looked at me and said thoughtfully, “You know, I bet people besides us would come to that ….”

“Sex Positive” tells the story of Richard Berkowitz — and how he was one of the first to spread the word about safer sex in America. Berkowitz, a talented writer, started out as a hot-blooded participant in the promiscuous gay bathhouse culture; later, he became an S&M hustler. When AIDS started decimating the gay community, Berkowitz was instrumental in teaching his community (and the world) about safer sex. As it became clear to some medical professionals that sexual promiscuity spread AIDS, Berkowitz tried to tell the world about their findings. But there was a huge backlash against him — because in those days, the promiscuous bathhouse culture was seen by many gay men as a huge part of identifying as gay and sex-positive … and anyone who argued against it, or tried to modify it, was therefore cast by many people as sex-negative.

Clarisse Thorn's picture

Sex-positive documentary report #10: “Boy I Am”

Since next week I’m going to Africa forever and ever, “Boy I Am” — the June 9th screening at my sex-positive documentary film series — was the last one I’ll be able to attend in person. The film series will continue. It’s going to be coordinated by our amazing Hull-House Education Coordinator Lisa, plus discussion facilitators we recruited from among regular Sex+++ attendees! But I, alas, will be far away being eaten by lions. (Yes. Eaten by lions! … I’m getting a bit loopy from lack of sleep, caused by running around trying to wrap up my life.)

Happily, though, the June 9th screening was a really good one … okay, they’re all really good. But this was really good! There were lots of people in attendance (I’d estimate 30-40), which surprised me — as I said in my last sex-positive documentary report, I was figuring that attendance would generally be lower for the second half of the series. Maybe some people were tempted to come by the presence of filmmaker Sam Feder, who was a great contributor to the discussion! Or maybe I’m just wrong about what films have wide appeal. Or maybe now Sex+++ is getting famous enough that people are just excited about Sex+++, more than about any particular film. Hey, I hoped to start an ongoing salon … it seems like I’ve somewhat succeeded!

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