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the weekly roundup (of my thoughts)

Hey! Hi. I’m still not gone, can you believe it? Me neither.

Wow, there is a lot going on. Elliott and I just celebrated 11 years together. ELEVEN. That is crazy to me, especially considering the fact that we still really LIKE each other. I mean yeah, we love each other too, but LIKE .. like after 11 years is so special! He is gone this week, having left on Tuesday for a bit of a family emergency. Everything working out fine, but there were some issues, as can happen when one has a father-in-law that is 96 years old. This has been fine, it’s given me time with the one remaining child at home, who is about to turn 21 next month. Yes, that is correct. My YOUNGEST kid is turning 21. I’m taking her to Teatro Zinzanni (her request) for her first (legal) cocktail.

So the USA Today app, I read that on my iPad in the mornings. Not because it’s a particularly great source of news, but because I happen to have the app. And they had this piece about “feminists, moralists and conservatives” hating Fifty Shades of Gray. OF COURSE we have to hear from the anti-porn Gail Dines then, who said something about how nobody would be interested in Christian Grey if he was poor. Which is funny because I was thinking the thing about the movie was the opposite, as anyone who has spent any time in the real life BDSM community knows full-well how normal most of the people in it are. If you define normal as “average looks, average occupation, cross-section of the community.” Somehow all of these average NON wealthy people are also doing some kinky stuff. So I call bullshit on that particular observation. I will readily admit that I haven’t read it yet. I keep thinking I should, just because it’s such a pop-culture phenom and it’s not fair to comment on something I haven’t read. Why haven’t I read it? Well, mostly because from all I have heard, I’m pretty sure it’s your standard romance novel fare (where the men are always rich, powerful, and somehow broken little boys at heart) with some kink thrown in. I’m also worried that it will be about as well-written as, say, the Twilight novels. I did try to read those back in the day when my then-preteens were obsessed with them, but I couldn’t make it through even the first book, the writing was so wretched.

What else is going on… well, we just booked a little vacation to Mexico, which will be nice – it’s been over a year since we’ve gone anywhere for more than a weekend, and we are hopefully going to try surfing for the first time. I’m not sure about my middle-aged self doing it, but I’m a strong swimmer with good balance from yoga, so maybe it’ll work out alright. Maybe. I’ll report back.

Have a happy weekend everyone, no matter what you’re doing: seeing FSOD, doing the standard Vday thing, ignoring it altogether, whatever it is, hope it’s happy. :)

~Jane

back from mini-vacay, boo

So Elliott and I had our anniversary weekend date this past weekend, because this Saturday is our 11 year anniversary, and we have a social commitment. 11 years! I never thought before I met him that I would even BE married again, much less in a stable, happy relationship for this long. One that keeps getting better and closer, even as our lives change. We are both experts at change, I will tell you that. In that short 11 years, we’ve started 3 new businesses* , attempted IVF **, completed a major home renovation, went through a massive repair to said renovation when our kitchen flooded last summer, raised 3 children from middle-school years to the twenty-somethings they are now, bought 2 boats, sold one boat, been on countless vacations, done a triathlon***, turned into crazy small-dog people, and through everything have managed to stay patient with each other.

During our 4day weekend vacay, I ended up getting food poisoning so badly that I was in bed for a full 24 hours, but managed to recover in time to go with him and friends up to the pub in the marina we were visiting to watch the Superbowl. Ouch. It was actually a massively entertaining game to watch, right up until the excruciating last 20 seconds. You know, if you are a Hawks fan.

Back at things today, just talked with Vamp via email and we are going to connect in RL soon to catch up which I couldn’t be happier about. Not much else to blog today, but I’m trying to get back in the habit, so there ya go.

~Jane

* of those 3 businesses, one failed miserably, one is going gangbusters, and one is more of a hobby but still active. Kinda like this one.
** I was pregnant for about 10 seconds, with twins. It no workie. We decided the universe was telling us no.
*** Ok, “we” didn’t do a triathlon. I did, and Elliott trained for one but never did it because work and illness got in the way. But I did one, once, because it was on my bucket list even though I hate running and biking. I only like swimming. But done, never to be done again. :)

mini vacay, yay!

Dunno where to put this one. Hi! It’s Friday. I’m super happy and sitting here in the office waiting for Elliott to finish up a few things because starting last night, we have been on mini-vacay in our own town. Last night we dropped our babies (our two small dogs, not my actual offspring, who are grown now) off at the dogsitter, checked into our favorite local cushie hotel, and proceeded to block out the work world. We’ve both been WAYYY too busy lately, this is needed. So last night we checked in, had dinner, got our relaxation going. This morning led to my tweet about rope-marks and a healthy glow, and now I get another day/night here and then tomorrow we are off by boat to areas less-traveled, with no cell reception or dataplans that work, but still television to watch the Hawks game. I have been watching them since I was a wee lass and it was all Largeant/Zorn – I will say, I could not tell you who was the coach back then though, and now I am a huge Pete Carroll fan. I feel like it’s good vs. evil (ok that was a little strong) with Carroll vs. Belichick.

Oh, and Chris Pratt, who is AWESOME, is doing a fundraiser for Seattle Children’s on twitter. Follow @prattprattpratt – Seattle Children’s Hospital is where my youngest daughter had lung/heart surgery at the age of 6 months, due to a rare condition, and they did it for free because I was poor at the time (insured, but poor, and it was an uncovered condition). Children’s is awesome. So, to recap: yay for these things, in no particular order: Chris Pratt, Seahawks, Children’s Hospital, mini-vacations, rope marks, Pete Carroll, beast mode, Sherman (I wear #25), positivity.

~Jane

but aren’t we all hypocrites?

The other day I re-reviewed Lust Cinema, which has been a longtime favorite site here at JanesGuide, both with myself and with previous reviewers. After I did that, I got an email from the press office of Erika Lust’s studio with a link to a recent TedX Talk she gave titled “It’s Time for Porn to Change“. I toggled between watching the video, and just listening to the video as I read through the comments below. Many of the comments suggested Ms. Lust was a hypocrite, I guess because it appeared that she didn’t have the same standards for male representation in porn as she did for women. I’m not sure that I would agree with that assessment, although I do agree that there is far greater representation of ALL types of female forms in pornography than there is for all types of male forms. I’m pretty sure that is because there is always a viewer base for every type of porn imaginable, and a good deal of the viewer base is heterosexual male. Pretty much every type of female form, from heavy to thin, from every ethnicity, both able bodied and not, has been fetishized, objectified or just plain lusted after by enough people that money can be made filming it. And maybe that isn’t true of the male form, which is why there is so much less diversity there.

The second time in the talk that she derisively mentioned the “blonde, red-lipped woman in a tight dress with watermelon boobs”, I did have a moment of discomfort – because there is room for that too. If, as she says, porn is a discourse, then there is room for everyone at the table, even those with whom we don’t share sexual preferences or tastes. And while I might think that the only reason a woman has “watermelon boobs” is because she is catering to what men want, I don’t know that to be true. It could be what she wants. Or, it could be what she wants as a commercial choice to be more marketable, but if your chosen profession is porn and you think you can make more by looking a certain way, who am I to say that is wrong? To do so would be to invalidate business choices that person is making based on a chosen profession, and I don’t think I want to go there.

But then I come to my own hypocrisy. I have long been upset by men commenting about performers they find unattractive. I don’t think it’s nice, I think they should just move on if it’s someone they find unappealing, instead of making rude comments about it. And then I was reviewing a site the other day (the site in question isn’t listed yet) and I ran across a male performer that I just found completely not to my taste. Like really bad reaction, ickyness. And I was sitting there trying to figure out how to express what the site was about, without making my own judgments about the performance. The kink of the site was old men with much younger women. I don’t have a particular issue with that one way or the other, I guess with this site, it was just that the models who were with this older guy in the videos just looked sooo uncomfortable, and like they were faking it, and faking it hard just to get through. Total turnoff, to me personally. But then, I like to see people having an actual good time. That’s what I find hot. And I suppose there are people with a kink for girls looking like they are doing something they can’t stand, with someone they don’t wanna be with. I don’t think that kink (if people have it) comes from a particularly great place, but once again, who am I to decide? I have some seriously fucked up fantasies myself, it’s part of the myriad sexual expression that is in all of us inherently sexual beings.

I LOVE Erick Lust’s work. I don’t think her TEDX Talk was particularly groundbreaking as an idea, but I agree with it – more women should be in porn behind the camera, to shape the conversation. That goes for the mainstream film industry as well, something Helen Mirren quite brilliantly brought up in a fairly recent NPR interview. That was one I forwarded to my daughter, who is going to film school now. There need to be more women behind the camera in all areas if we want to have more of a place at the table, and that has been changing ever so slightly for decades now, and I’m sure it will continue to change and evolve. I feel like this generation, my generation of my daughters, is the most outspoken yet – and in part that is because of everything this generation has been able to see online. If you don’t see what’s there, how will you know what you’d say differently?

I think in the end, with the review I was struggling with, I just need to focus on what really did squick me – that it’s never enjoyable to me to watch someone looking like they are about to have to eat a cockroach on Fear Factor, because that is how unappealing the coming act is to them. Just sayin’.

~Jane

so why the return? and will it last?

I have no answer to my above question, because I don’t know. I have super mixed feelings about my website which I will now try to explain, to myself and to you dear reader (if indeed anyone is reading this blog, defunct for so long)

I was reading through some of Crista Anne’s website, and she’s also a parent, of more than one, but the oldest of whom is about 5. When I started JG, my children were 2, 3 and 4 years old. I am now on the verge of the youngest one turning 21. When they were wee monsters, in the early days, what I did was no big. I didn’t worry about them coming upon what I did, and I mostly did site reviews and stuff when they were at school, or when they were in bed. I never saw it coming, how my feelings would change when they were in their teen years. I also didn’t see it coming how much WORK that would be. I always thought the hard part of parenting was when I was responsible for their every need, but that is SO NOT what it is like. And on top of that, nobody I knew in the industry was parenting children the same age, teenagers, so I felt like I had no sounding board, no connections, no support. Maybe that’s silly. I used to talk to Susie about things sometimes, because her daughter wasn’t so much older than my 3, but that was about the only contact I had with anyone who might have an inkling of what I felt like. Then, Susie is in my mind a Real Writer, and I am just somebody who happened to stumble upon a living writing things. I am not a Writer.

So, the past 8 years or so have been hit and miss in terms of working on the site. I told my girls about it maybe 2 years ago, when I figured they were adults and could have a discussion about it if they wanted to. I think I blogged about that whole thing at the time, what it was like for me “coming out” essentially as a pornographer. Or whatever. I mean I guess I just look at it and write about it, but I had my personal site back in the day when I was shooting with my ex, with old friends like James and Matisse, and other Seattle photogs. So I feel like I can claim being the talent as well as just writing about it. It’s like how I still would self-identify as a former sex-worker because of my phonesex days. Once I did that, once my kids knew and were cool with it, it was a huge relief, and I thought it would be easy to get back to work.

Not so.

Now, it’s the perfectionist in me that nags me with guilt about how out-of-date I feel like things have gotten. It’s a whole new world out there with new rising stars, and most of the people I was doing things with and connected with have moved on. Not all of them, just MOST. So I don’t know where I fit in anymore. I think I could sum it all up, if I’m honest, by saying that I think I’ve been afraid to restart things because I’m afraid it will fail. And that’s just silly. The important things haven’t changed. I still think there is a place for porn in the world. I still think consumers of it should know what they are getting and how to protect themselves. I am THRILLED with the amount of ethical, consensual, female-produced porn that is in the marketplace now – there was much less of it back in the day. And so I am getting back to work, and it’s hard, and I am nowhere near this being the site I want it to be, and yet: we are as relevant as our competitors, and just about as up-to-date. And I still think we have things to offer that all the review sites that came up behind me don’t, and that is my love of independent sites, blogs, real-life things, all the sites that never get mentioned on the myriad other review sites out there. I mean review sites are an industry I feel like I pioneered. We were pretty legitimately the first. That hasn’t changed, I just haven’t kept up.

So we shall see if this lasts, if I can do it, and I feel like I won’t burn out so long as I focus on the good stuff first. And when I feel all down about the starting point, I’ll just tell myself that hey, I left the site better today than it was yesterday, and that’s all I can do. Right?

~Jane

relieved, yet sad…

I have been a HUGE fan of Marina Bychkova’s work for years. I think I discovered her work just about the time she quit taking custom doll orders. Stupidly, at the time, I missed out on seeing her work in a show quite near me in Canada, thinking she would be doing shows in that area on a regular basis. Now most of her shows are in far-flung locations that I’ll not make it to. Anyhow, while I am on her waitlist for a resin doll (a wait list that I’m sure is huge and possibly unattainable, but wait I will) I still follow her site to look at her amazing creations. Each year, she sells a single doll on Ebay. Last year’s doll went for $17,000.

So this year, a few days ago, I started to think about bidding. I would have had to use credit, I don’t have $20,000 lying around. I figured it would go for at least that. I figured it was still a good investment, because I could always recoup if I needed to say, continue to eat, or continue to pay for college for the kids. And I was sooo tempted. I was going to talk about it with Elliott again, because I am absolutely insane about her dolls. Imagine my relief when two days into the auction, the bidding is already at $40,000. Now that moves it purely out of the reach of reason for me, thus my relief. I don’t know what it is about these dolls, seriously. You have to go look at her work on her website, it’s beyond. That link is to the doll in question, but browse through her galleries so you can be obsessed too. I’m not even a doll person, zero interest in any other dolls. Hers are just – well, enchanted, just as she calls them.

Dodged a bullet. Elliott would have wanted to kill me if I put a $20,000 on a credit card. :)

where to start?

Holy guacamole! I am so far behind, I don’t know where to start. But the happy thing is this feels like old times to me, back before I lost my words. So there’s that. I have words again. I miss Vamp. I absolutely loved her neverending good-naturedness (is that a word?) about everything to do with consensual sex, no matter how unusual. And I’ve had a few people close to me want to start helping with reviews, but she’s just not replaceable, even though I’m happy for her that she’s moved on to other projects that are fulfilling.

I pulled the beta site that I had started to work on last year, because I’m going to give it yet another re-do before I decide how to run things. I have a conundrum, which is that I WANT to start doing the site in Wordpress (I know you probably already think that’s what it is because PART of it is, but the review index is all in a php database that Elliott wrote for me 10 years ago, and it works so well that I don’t want to change it. However, there are things it doesn’t do that I can do in Wordpress, so I need to figure that out. Elliott is so busy with his real business, he has no time to help with this. I mean he would, but I don’t want him to get distracted from some very cool things he has going on, especially since I am no more certain than ever that we are really going to get rolling again.

I changed up the sidebar, to take out the links to things that are truly outdated, like the regional guide. My ex partner always really liked the regional guide, it was kinda his thing – he wanted it when we split up the site, but honestly I didn’t want two different versions of JanesGuide to exist in the world. I suppose he could have done one under another name, heck he even might have, I wouldn’t know. At any rate, I took that out, the link to the old galleries, and the links to the beta site so I can work on it again without worrying about it’s not-doneness. (another non-word, I know.)

Today is super busy, I am working on all of this for the first time in months, my middle daughter is home for the weekend from college, and my puppies are having their first-ever grooming appointment. I drop them off in a couple of hours. This is a last resort because when I try to clip their nails, they turn into absolute Gremlins. That is no exaggeration, it is a real thing. So I called a grooming place in town and asked if they could handle that. A small dog trying to bite their face off when he gets his toenails clipped. And they said no problem, so I guess we shall see what happens.

And lunch with a friend, and yoga, and dinner with the daughters and Elliott tonight. Happy, but busy.

~Jane

such a familiar story

Yesterday, I spent the day going through my first category, solo amateurs, for updates. I culled out about 15 dead sites and updated everything else to reflect how the sites are now. In doing so, I was shocked to find that one of my previous favorite sites, The Art of Blowjob, had changed significantly. My immediate gut feel was that a breakup had occurred. That happens ALL THE TIME in the amateur world. What I see (particularly with M/F couples) is that the male half films things and runs the site. The female half performs, and in many cases is the personality of the site. She does the writing, interacts with the readers, basically IS the site. That is how I felt about Art of Blowjob. Camille Crimson was this amazing, gorgeous performer who shared her thoughts in the blog, as well as sharing her sensuality and sexuality in video and photos.

So I visited the site, and none of the recent updates were her. The videos and photos of her were archived, but gone was the blog and the heart of the site. I updated the review accordingly (it’s still a good site, just not the SAME site) and went on with my day. Then today something made me dig a little bit deeper. I always hate it when a performer I loved just disappears. Anyone remember the amazing Isabella@home? Or Bernadette Peters? I have no idea what happened with either of them, but they ran incredible, personal websites. When I looked for Camille Crimson, Art of Blowjob came up. Then a new site, Art of Cunnilingus (launched by the same people) popped up with a blog, but the posts were by someone else. Finally after a little clicking around, I came to the blog of Chloe Morgane, aka Camille Crimson. Yay! As suspected, it was a breakup. And her ex got the business. She writes a post about the experience, called OpenHeart, which I’ve linked to here.

You have no idea how familiar this was for me, and how much I understood how changing her name was painful. When my ex and I split up, we too of course had a business, this one. He wanted it. I needed to keep supporting my children and myself, and I wanted it. Not only did he want it, he wanted one of the women he left me for to help him run it. That stung more than anything. Luckily we were 50/50 partners and through mediation, I ended up buying him out instead of the other way around. The site has my name on it, it was so personal. The difficult part for me was the name. You see when we married back in 2000, he took my nom-de-plume last name in the adult world, and I took his legal last name in our private lives. When we split, I went back to my maiden name legally, but he didn’t give up my last name in this world. I didn’t want the association, a feeling that time has not helped to change. I know, I’m totally unreasonable. God, back when I was poly, I feel like I spent all my time trying to pretend things weren’t hurtful that were, and I swear I am NOT going to do that even if it makes me sound petty. Sometimes things hurt, and it’s ok to admit it.

Anyhow, all that aside, my advice to any couple out there doing an amateur site is: know where you stand legally BEFORE it becomes popular, before it becomes your living. I haven’t seen all that many sites run by couples make it for the long term. In fact I can’t think of any offhand. It’s difficult enough running any business with a romantic partner, much less one that is as personal as that. Black and white agreements help in the longrun.

I’ll be putting up a review of Chloe Morgane’s new site as soon as I get a chance, but if you’re looking for Camille as I was, that’s where she is now. I imagine her new site will be as awesome as her old, award-winning site was.

so a funny thing happened on my way to saying goodbye…

I realized I wasn’t ready to. Say goodbye, that is. Ok you guys, I have been AGONIZING over what to do with this website for years. Oh sure, maybe my agonizing has been in private, not even something I’ve talked about to my friends. Elliott, maybe a little. Natasha a little. And then, over the holidays, this thing happened: the site had the worst outage of it’s history. Like probably 2 weeks it was down, because I wasn’t paying attention. Holidays, and I haven’t been updating or posting, and my ISP, which has always monitored for outages, didn’t catch it.

Someone wrote me an email that I gave a cursory glance at, because I thought when he asked about us being gone, he was referring to our lack of updates. Then when I went to actually do some work, I realized it was down. And had been down for OVER two weeks. We are coming up on 18 years since I launched this thing and had never been down for more than 12 hours. And that was years and years ago.

Anyhow, that thing, this site outage, made me realize something. I thought I was done, but I’m not. I’ve never known how to gracefully end things. For awhile, several years ago, I looked for a new “Jane”, basically like Dear Abby having someone take over. I never found the right person. I’ve had offers to buy the site, but it was never from someone who wanted to continue what we do, only for someone who wanted to funnel our readership to something THEY did, and it was never something I could get behind. Yeah, if it had been something else that I thought of as consumer-positive, sex-positive, I might have done it, but invariably it was more of a selling-out than anything, so I never did it.

I thought about doing a Jane-i-pedia and trying to get readers to contribute to the content. I realized that would be more time consuming because of scammers than what we have always done here.

The reason I went to log in a few days ago, and found the site down, was that I had come up with a plan. I wanted to blog a memoir of sorts. Because seriously, you guys, this website was a huge chunk of my life, so much happened, that I wanted to write it all down from the perspective I have now. I am still thinking I’m going to do that. Just like a month at a time, referencing old journal entries and possibly faulty memory to do so. I’m not saying anything I did was so earth shattering that you should be interested, but I find the normal average life to be pretty interesting. Enough time has gone by, and with the minimal readership we have now, I feel safe again just like when I started blogging in 1998, that I can put down words again without worrying that someone will try to harm me with them. It’s pretty awesome and freeing. And in the meantime, I am going through all the old stuff to update it. There isn’t all that much new that I can tell in the adult world. However, I’ll still try to find some new stuff as I go through the old, creating a good index again, and blogging about where I was and where I am now.

Hi. I’m back. I’ve missed you.

~Jane

well, recipe Thursday of course… :)

Not sure if I’m cooking tonight, or taking one of my daughters out for sushi. If I DO cook, I’m making:

Five Spice Chicken:

chicken thighs, boneless if possible, with skin if possible
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
1 tsp chinese five spice powder
1/2 cup shaoxing wine (*find at asian markets, red label)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
1 tsp red chili pepper flakes

Mix up your marinade with the above ingredients, coat your chicken. Let it sit overnight, or for a few hours if you can. It’s still good if you only let it sit for a half hour though.

Grill your chicken, and serve with:

Mango Salsa:

4-5 large ripe mangoes, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup cilantro
juice of 1 lime

mix that all up, again preferably ahead of time, the longer it sits the better the flavors mingle.

it’s primal/paleo friendly (I suppose the mangoes are questionable sugar content, but hey in my world it’s fine), super easy to make, and fairly inexpensive if you can find mangoes in season that aren’t overpriced.

And hey, guess what? The shop that carries my jewelry wants a whole line of my little drawing/painting jewelry. I wore my doggie necklace in today, and it was liked enough that they want to do a section for it. yay!

that is all. :)

~Janie