Just over a month ago, I boarded a train to London to attend Eroticon for the first time. I started sex blogging around 15 months ago- although I use the word blogging in a rather loose sense. For those already familiar with my blog most of my work is confessional, and mostly non fiction or at least somewhat based in truth. The fiction I write is inspired by real life experiences or perhaps fantasies I have yet to experience.
Eroticon seemed to be a very pivotal event for the sex blogging community- and what a diverse community it is. From erotica, sex product reviewing, education, photography and drawing, to journaling about choices, lifestyles, relationships or dirty fucks (which in itself are as diverse, thrilling and interesting as you imagine)- no sex blog is the same. I watched on Twitter as the excitement built around this event, and one evening I decided to buy a ticket for the conference.
I was still to find my ‘niche’ in this big wide world (which is still true) as I admired, and still admire, the huge range of blogs tackling insightful, relevant, political, sexual and down right filthy. This was my biggest fear entering the conference venue, early on Saturday morning. If somebody asked me what I did, what would I say? How would I convince myself, and others, that I’m worthy of being in the company of such incredible people?
As I said my first hellos, and grabbed the most incredible bag of goodies I had ever been given at a conference, the nerves lessened (they didn’t leave completely!) and one of the best weekends began.
So how would I begin to round up this incredible weekend? Luckily Jenny Guérin began a ’10 Things I Took from Eroticon’ meme shortly after the conference. Now many have already submitted their pieces and it has taken me a little longer than most to compile mine. Although I started to draft my list not long after the conference itself, I wanted to wait for the Eroticon high to settle, and to see both what I took from Eroticon instantly and what took a little longer to manifest.
10 Things I Took from Eroticon 2017
The confidence to say ‘Hello, I’m Hannah. I write a blog.’
Firstly, and similarly to many others at Eroticon, it’s not very often I can say this to people I’m speaking to in person. That in itself felt really lovely.
Secondly, I wish I had more energy, time and intelligence for my blog! I leave it horrendously unmanaged for periods of time, and part of me would enjoy managing it all a little better, on a more regular basis. Yet, I enjoy that the nature of what I write is organic, cathartic and (although great to be read and appreciated) I’m not as concerned with views, readers and reach as perhaps I should be. However, Eroticon gave me the confidence in my little niche, and enabled me to feel more secure in what I do, and enjoy doing.
Two new books
I am a sucker for books- to me there is (almost…) no better feeling than curling up infront of the fire, with a cup of tea, home baking, my woolen blanket, my cat and the latest book that has taken my fancy. So luckily Eroticon gave me the opportunity to purchase not just one, but two, new books!
Identity: Eroticon Anthology
This anthology, edited by Anna Sky and cover illustration by Tabitha Rayne, features so many incredible minds and individuals I was honoured to listen to, and in some cases meet, over the course of the weekend. What a treat this book is! You may buy it here.
Enjoy Sex: Meg-John Barker and Justin Hancock
After a wonderful session by Meg-John I felt compelled to buy this book. The session itself focused on putting yourself at the centre of your experiences, desires and journey in discovering your sexuality. This seems simple, but often we think about the desire and needs of others without or before trying to understand ourselves. This is definitely a book I’ll come back to again and again
This year I began lists of all those films, books and music that my friends recommend. You know, the ones they mention in passing, you say ‘I’ll have to give that a watch’ and go home to forget all about it. I’m starting a list for erotica/sex writing also- so any recommendations please do feel free to drop me a comment or email!
Some fantastic historical porn.
I love history, especially social history. I love learning about the people, not just the Kings, Queens, the powerful and the rich. I also love sex, the human form and finding out what makes others tick. Therefore when two sessions run by Dr. Kate Lister (Whores of Yore) were announced, I was beside myself with excitement. The first session talked about obscenity and literature, and delved into perspectives on what was too filthy or outlandish for public consumption and the processes taken to restrict readership of such materials. The session introduced many fantastic works of literature and art, from the street graffiti of ancient classical civilisations, to mediaeval Chaucer. Kate spoke about the open attitudes to, and visibility of sex, before it started to be seen as distasteful, and latterly corruptive. The second session was my idea of heaven, a collection of historical pornographic pictures showing a range of activities (including funnel assisted water sports!), clothing and body hair.
I would recommend everyone to follow Whores of Yore on Twitter, and engage with some of the fantastic research being undertaken!
My first reading of my work, out loud, which just happened to be to a room full of actual writers.
When Zak Jane Keir released a call for readers, my heart sort of jumped. I immediately saved the email, and came back to it at the moment I realised the jump was a ‘I would love to do that’ rather than ‘I would want the floor to swallow me up if I did that’. This was one of my spur of the moment, I’ll worry about that later moments that I seem to becoming rather practiced in.
I knew the piece I wanted to read when I sat down to decide what I wanted the audience to hear. It is one of my favourites, about an experience with someone important to the journey of accepting myself. You can read it here.
However, yet again in true Hannah style, I changed this quite last minute. After a few glasses of white wine (and a fair few more) I told a story about an encounter on a train. No one has heard this before, and I had yet to write it as a piece in my blog, however the next morning I thought it was fitting to read an original piece brought out of my by the wonderful Eroticon delegates and those glasses of wine.
My notes later became this story, which is slightly adapted (some versions of events, I like to keep for myself). And I managed it! Perhaps the original choice of story would have been a better choice on paper, or perhaps I should have spent more time writing a beautifully crafted piece of writing. However, I think this story really gave a good essence of who I am- yes I’m filthy, yes I like to take my clothes off in public places and photograph myself, but I also don’t take myself too seriously.
I would also like to mention another writer here. All of the readers in this session were fantastic, incredibly varied and it was thoroughly a privilege to be in the audience. However, The Other Livvy read her piece Hoar Frost. I had read this through her blog, and thought it was a beautiful and cleverly crafted piece of prose. Yet hearing it in person gave it another dimension. It is probably one of the most moving pieces of erotic writing I have read. Certainly in a different league to a train fuck!
A fair few laughs
Eroticon is definitely food for the mind, but also medicine for the soul. I laughed so much over the course of the weekend, especially Saturday evening. This was in part due to me drinking wine and listening and sharing stories and attempting to sing with others, but mostly due to the wonderful entertainment organised by the Eroticon team. The Saturday social was unique as a conference networking opportunity, as it was a fantastic way to break the ice in person to handfuls of people who could have already seen my whole anatomy online. Yet it was also a chance to be thoroughly entertained by three amazing people: Rubyyy Jones, Chris Coltrane and Ros Ballinger. Rubyyy provided a fantastic burlesque set, which made me want to buy nipple tassels to shimmy around my flat in to do all of my jobs. Chris and Ros provided the best mixture of kink and sex positive comedy (in Ros’s case with props). As someone who often starts conversations with lines such as ‘did I tell you about my experience with a topless ukulele player who was covered in gravy?’ or show my friends the hilarious messages I used to receive on various kink dating apps, I was naturally well into both of these performers. They have upcoming shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, and I’d recommend going to see both of them! I will be!
Internet search history
Oh my Lord, my internet search history could have made a rather dirty NSFW verse for Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start The Fire.
Desire for a Doxy
Yes, I don’t own a Doxy, and until recently I’d never had the pleasure of using one. I was always concerned of showing up, opening my bag and brandishing something that wouldn’t look out of place being plugged into a socket in the kitchen, and used to make some sort of super healthy smoothie. This might be a treat to consider in the future…
Admiration, inspiration and education: Blogs to Educate
My blog doesn’t really do much to educate the masses. I have opinions on relationships, body positivity, trauma, using your sexuality to learn more about yourself and the whole idea that body and sex positivity can be used as a tool to help recover from illness (mental or physical). Sometimes I feel guilty that I don’t speak enough about this. However, I run another blog which focuses on mental health, and that is partly why I wanted to attend. But also because I always want to be inspired and learn, and it was nothing short of awesome to hear from Emmeline, Sarah and Girl On The Net. They spoke about the diverse range of issues they blog about and inspirations behind their desire to educate- whether trauma survival, vaginismus, celebration of their kinks or their desire to harness their platforms to be the awesome people they are! I can only recommend reading the blogs below to be inspired and to broaden your mind to issues you didn’t even realise you had an opinion on!
V&A ‘Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear’ exhibition
Not strictly something from Eroticon itself, however whilst I was in London I decided to make the most of my time around the conference and visit one of my favourite museums the V&A. Especially appropriate for the occasion was their special exhibition, Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear which closed shortly after. This was a thoroughly enjoyable exhibition, looking at the history and manufacturing process of some (very) tiny corsets, the change in purpose and form of both male and female undergarmets through time, as well as looking at the more modern fashions. I also recently visited an exhibition of John Samson films at GoMA (Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art) This complemented the V&A exhibition so well as one of his films, Dressing for Pleasure, discussed the emergence of fetish clothing. There was also a brilliant film, The Skin Horse, focusing on the sex lives of disabled people- ground breaking in the mid 1980s and winning a BAFTA. I would definitely recommend a visit to this free exhibition if you are in Glasgow.
London Underground signs
I spotted this after a rather lovely Monday evening, and it touched my heart (soppy). What was the most incredible about Eroticon was a room full of people not afraid to be themselves, or express parts of themselves, and sometimes in the face of personal adversity, trauma, anxiety, nerves, depression and many other reasons why their journey may not be the easiest or smoothest. I met the most open, accepting and friendly people, with interesting stories, perspectives and ideas, and it is this reason why I would love to return. Here’s to 2018!