Horny On Main

Oct. 2020 — Newsletter #002

Fresh-Baked Idea: Sex Doesn’t Just Feel Good. It’s Self-Care & It’s Political

As someone who thinks about, reports on, teaches on, and conceptualizes about sex for 40 hours a week, I desperately wanted a separation of church and state. Cherry was supposed to cover beauty, style, and wellness from an LGBTQ+ perspective. The “S word” was to be discussed everywhere else: at my day job, for freelancing gigs, and on my personal Instagram.

But the universe kept presenting me with ideal opportunities to discuss how LGBTQ+ identity intersects with the S word. I soon realized that, to give you lovely subscribers the best possible content, I needed to stop being hard-headed and give the S word a seat at the cherry wood table.

I had a hunch that my talks with the following queer creatives were going to be insightful. But speaking to these interviewees when I did felt like divine timing. In the midst of masturbation stagnation, carving out a path as an erotic art solopreneur, and realizing that I’m definitely a switch, I had a lot to contemplate walking away from these interviews. I hope the following sexual empowerment conversations can stir up something warm and passionate in you as well.

Listen Of The Month: Audio Erotica On Kampsite and &Jane

Checking out porn or porn-adjacent content for work doesn’t phase me anymore. In fact, it seldom makes me horny. But when I listened to a particularly steamy story on Kampsite, a gay audio erotica platform, I had to stop and take a breather. Kampsite, which launched on Sept. 15, 2020, presents subscribers with bite-sized, serialized erotic stories. Each one is like an episode of your favorite narrative podcast, but with sultry vibes and NSFW plot points.

I had yet to encounter an audio erotica app specifically for queer men, even as a sex and dating journalist. So, I followed my curiosity to Brandon Goode. Along with being Kampsite’s Head Writer, he also wrote The Secrets of Eden, a YA fantasy book with a gay, Black protagonist, and UNORTHODOX REMEDIES, a book of poetry. Here’s what Brandon had to say about his creative process at Kampsite and why redefining queer masculine sexuality is so important.

The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Caroline Colvin: What was it like developing Kampsite as a head writer? What were some challenges and triumphs?
Brandon Goode:
Writing for Kampsite has been great. Kampsite is [especially] relevant to me as a gay man, as a part of the LGBTQ+ community. I would be lying to say that some of these stories didn’t happen to me or maybe someone I know. “These stories are like, ‘Oh my God, one of my best friends had a story like that.’ Or, ‘ I actually experienced that!’

One of the main challenges was making sure we properly reflected those different men [who’d be potential Kampsite listeners] out there. Are there some men who are in the closet, who are having sexual experiences and still coming to terms with who they are? Do we have the men who are open and out? The man who’s living his life and traveling the world? We wanted to provide real stories that people can identify with. 

But needless to say, that was a big triumph as well. Giving voice to these characters, and allowing them to come to life. That’s all out there for our audience to hear and experience. Walking away from launch, we could say, “Wow, that was successful.”

When you’re young and in the closet, you want something like this. You want to be able to explore and find out what sexuality is, without being discovered by your parents down the hall. Or by your best friend who doesn’t know that you’re gay. Providing genuine stories that people can connect with was a big triumph.

CC: Yeah, definitely. I listened to two of the episodes and it was nice, how real it feels. It’s like someone in your crew talking to you and recounting their sexual experience to you over drinks.
BG:
You’re sort of peeking into my writer’s mind here. We wanted the stories to be like when I call up my best friend and say, “Girl, you won’t believe what just happened.” We want you to be grabbing your glass of wine and your popcorn as you listen through what transpired in each character’s day.

CC: That totally came across! I think it’s for that reason, Kampsite is unlike any other kind of [audio] porn that I heard. IDK, I feel like there’s a frame of, “This is audio erotica™!” And that is supposed to sound a certain way and have a certain pace. I like that Kampsite’s porn felt more accessible and conversational.

At least speaking for myself, whenever I’m engaging with porn, context is important. Sometimes with traditional porn, no matter what the pairing is, if it’s not believable, I’m just like, “OK! I need to find something else.” Having that narrative framework helps put the listener in the moment.
BG:
When you think of any type of audio erotica or porn, a lot of the storyline is irrelevant. You have the “I’m here with your pizza!”“Come on in!”“I don’t have the money!” [plot progression]. That doesn’t really happen in life. Yes, sex and sexuality are apart of our lives. But there’s also more to us than that. With these stories, you get a great character build. Of course, the sex happens, but it’s more relatable to the listener.

CC: Beyond individual enjoyment and experience, why is it important for queer men and masculine-presenting people to engage sexually in this way? And from your perspective, how is Kampsite changing the game queer male/masc sexuality?
BG:
Society puts the LGBTQ+ community in a shoebox. Like, “You can have certain things and you can do this, but we don’t want to see it ‘in our face.’” To truly be yourself and be comfortable in your skin, you have to own all the parts of you — and sexuality is included. The more we make sex talk normal as opposed to taboo, the easier it is for people to own it and wield it. 

CC: Yes, 1000%. Part and parcel of me being comfortable with my queerness, in terms of gender and sexuality, was becoming sex-positive. Because once your mind opens in that way, then everything else falls into place.
BG:
[Some cisgender heterosexual] people don’t understand why, at Pride parades, men are out there in Speedos, or women or whoever want to showcase who they are [physically]. I don’t think they understand the journey that queer individuals go through. I don’t think they understand that, when you’re finally comfortable in your skin, you want to be proud! You want to scream it from the mountaintops!

With Kampsite, we’re trying to break through the stigma, and give these conversations a place where they can be held without barriers, without judgment. People should be able to have these discussions and experience content like this in an open and honest way.

CC: Yes, I completely agree… Also, where does the name “Kampsite” come from?
BG:
You know when you go camping, right? You light your fire, you sit around the campfire, and you share stories. That’s the true essence of what Kampsite is: coming together to hear stories and the fire. ‘Kampsite’ also has a retro feel — thinking of [historically] queer-friendly locations like Key West, FL and Fire Island Pines, NY, you think of people lighting a bonfire on the beach. It’s that same type of feeling. Before every character’s episode, you hear that igniting of the fire.

CC: Yes! I did pick up on the little fire sound before!
BG:
It’s a signal to tune in. 

CC: Ugh, I love that! OK, lastly: Where can people find you on social media?
BG:
@b.goode on Instagram and @hear_kampsite on Instagram.

Both Kampsite ($6.99/mo or $50/yr) and &Jane ($4.99/month or $40/year) are available in the Apple and Google Play app stores. From Friday, Oct. 31 to Sunday, Nov.1, the platforms will be taking part in a charity donation weekend: 100% of subscription proceeds will go to The Trevor Project and The Woodhull Freedom Fund.

The Medicine Cabinet: KOSAS Cosmetics

Each month, I review a product (or two, or five) for your medicine cabinet consideration: cosmetics, skincare, haircare, vitamins, fragrance, bath goodies, and the like.

The changing of the leaves and chilling of the air used to signal to me that it was time to put a berry lip in rotation. To break out the jewel tones! To swipe on some black lipstick if I was feeling extra witchy. IDK if it was post-grad life or my personal gender revolution that made me a lip balm/lip gloss kind of guy. But fall 2020 felt like the opportune moment to rekindle my love affair with lipstick — as well as stoke up a new romance with Kosas Cosmetics.

I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Kosas because of the brand’s emphasis on clean beauty, lightweight moisture, strong pigments, and cruelty-free ethos. For Cherry #002, I took a chance on the 10-Second Eyeshadow ($28), Weightless Lip Color ($28), and Tinted Face Oil ($42) [all gifted]. Our first date? The waterfront, on a bright sunny Saturday in October, with some good friends and the last hurrah at a local gelateria that was closing.

The “warm tone reddish brown” called “Fringe” felt right for my first foray back into lipstick. Safe to say, it looked phenomenal with my skin tone, which brings me to the tinted face oil. I picked 7.5, which was suited for "deep tan with warm undertones.” I’ve got oily/combination skin, so I need the kind of moisture that’s going to help re-hydrate my skin without clogging my pores.

I discovered that Kosas’ tinted face oil was perfect for that. The liquid eyeshadow, however, was a dub. "Element,” described as a “warm chestnut,” was actually the perfect nude of my seasonal dreams. But by the time my date with Kosas came to a close, the eyeshadow had creased. I do have chubby lids and I did hastily swipe the eyeshadow on a few seconds before I ran out of the door, as I was running late.

That being said, I did give the product a second chance at my heart. The secret: strong eyeshadow primer. If you’re Team Heavy Lid or Team Oily Skin, like me, that should do the trick. Overall, I enjoyed my fling with Kosas, and I’m hoping to take our relationship to the next level.

Queer Creative Of The Month: Claire Hawkins from Offthetongue

I’ve been Instagram mutuals with Claire Hawkins, the designer of Offthetongue’s strap-on-integrated lingerie, for a minute now. I’d always admired both her craftmanship and her energy. When I did the following Q&A with Claire, she shared some valuable, lace-covered nuggets of wisdom on how sex, empowerment, and mental health. Here’s what she had to say about the “delicately made, rigorously tested” harnesses that comprise Offthetongue.

Caroline Colvin: When was Offthetongue founded and how long have you been designing harnesses? What gave you the idea to create this brand?
Claire Hawkins:
Offthetongue was born out of necessity about two years ago when I bought the most “feminine” harness I could find — and it still made me feel extremely unsexy. Thankfully, I gained so much weight that year that I broke it, haha, and having a background in fashion design, I decided to just make myself a new one. Something that didn’t give me dysphoria every time I wanted to play.

Everyone should love the skin they’re in — it’s just easier for some than others. It’s for this reason, also, I wanted to make it easier to find comfortable strap wear in larger sizes and for less “standard” body types. It’s why I offer bespoke sizing on all products. 

CC: Who would you say is your primary audience?
CH:
I’d say primarily queer femmes. They’re the largest group that actively engages with what I do. However, nearly half of my orders come from men, but unfortunately, due to the outdated stigma surrounding pegging, they mostly hang back in the shadows. 

CC: Why is it important to have sexy, cute, or feminine harnesses? What about a harness can be empowering for someone, particularly, a queer, trans, or gender non-conforming person?
CH:
It’s important to have a cutesy or feminine option because so many people have told me that they feel there’s an unwanted masculine energy associated with strapping that made them think it wasn’t “for” them. That strap-on sex was only for more adventurous, butch, or kinky folk, and the overall look and feel of more traditional harnesses didn’t fit with how they liked to present themselves to feel sexy.

This is especially the case for those who aren’t cisgender. Through having this alternative, the harness can become something actively gender-affirming, and I’ve had some wonderful conversations with trans and non-binary customers that tell me just how important this has been for them. I really enjoy being able to help people and create this comfort for anyone who seeks it. 

CC: And in turn, what kind of feeling do you want people to have when they wear your designs?
CH:
I want them to feel empowered and beautiful. Comfortable in what they want, how they look, and no less like themselves. For many people, as badly as you want to have strap-on sex, it can be alienating to wear something that feels like a contraption. I want to eliminate that hesitation and have people feel just as confident as they do in their favorite lingerie.

CC: Who are your queer (fashion) icons?
CH:
Janelle Monáe. What an absolute star, ticking every possible box in the classiest way imaginable. Monáe all day. I’m also a huge Alexander McQueen fan and this might be a bit of a wildcard but... Timothee Chalamet. Because look at him.

CC: And lastly, what words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone who wants to use a strap-on, but is nervous about the process (both buying a harness and a dildo, and the mechanics of strapping/pegging)?
CH:
You might feel a bit silly doing it the first time and that is fine. Have a laugh with your partner(s) and try not to take yourself too seriously. Take it slow and ask for feedback because communication is so important, especially when you are getting used to the depth and rhythm of things. I would strongly suggest choosing the dildo with whoever you’re going to be using it with, which is a fun and exciting experience in itself.

Make sure you choose a harness that’s suitable for the weight and diameter of your toy. I would advise getting something that you’ll feel comfortable in, whatever that means to you. As mentioned, Offthetongue offers bespoke sizing and I’m always on hand to discuss any tweaks you may need to make your experience as good as possible.

Check Claire’s harnesses out at www.offthetongue.com.

The Final Beat

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And, here we are! You’ve made it to the end of the second Cherry newsletter. I’ll back in November to bring you conversations about queer entrepreneurship, CBD, and how you can take care of yourself in the wake of whatever the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election brings us.

Can’t wait until the end of November? Subscribe to Cherry Magazine’s Patreon to receive bonus musings on queer art and extra Q&As with the creatives shaping the future of the LGBTQ+ community.

Sending you a metaphysical care package of cherry muesli, oat milk, and honey,

Caroline Colvin