Note: I apologise for the lack of original photos. My hubby, and event photographer, was home working on a paper this time. Fortunately Kay Jaybee got a shot or two. Thanks Kay! Otherwise, I hope the word pictures will stimulate your imaginations to share in the fun.
I’m on the bus now heading for Waterloo Station and home. As most writers do, I’m reflecting. So much has happened in the past two days that I only now really have time to take it in. It’s so often the case that I can only take in events after the fact. The pace is too fast, the experience too multi-layered to unravel and sort through when it’s happening.
I’m talking about two readings at two fabulous venues in eight hours, and a whirlwind journey in between. And the best bit, as always, is the people. It’s hard to write when I just want to take it in, let it flow over me again and find the places that stand out, that leap from the canvas of the weekend’s adventure, so I can savour them. London flows by me as I think of sitting in the bar at the Chaucer Travelodge in Canterbury for a late- night planning session with Kay Jaybee in which the words are flowing, inspiration is thick in the air. We ignore the telly whispering softly in the background as we talk plot, characters and sexy reflections, lost in the trance of story that is only yet the seed of something that really excites both of us. We plan and scheme until we’re too tired to continue and they we trundle off to bed.
The next day over coffee with a view of the cathedral, we’re still talking story, even as mentally we prepare for what we’ll read at the La Boudoir Boutique grand opening, preparing for what we’ll wear in the sticky close heat that’s so unBritish. It’s always exciting before a reading, and to have been invited as VIPs is even more exciting. We wonder what to expect and we look forward to finding out.
We arrive in a flutter of excitement, luggage in tow, with Nymphomaniac Ness, who shared our Taxi just in time to watch the photo shoot for the calendar La Boudoir Boutique are doing, with a yummy glass of punch, with a punch in hand, we stand oohing and awing over the amazing lingerie, and I’m chuffed to find a copy of Body Temperature and Rising on the table in the beautiful boudoir that has been created for the photo set. It goes very well with sexy lingerie.
We are given the grand tour by the amazing Violet Hall, who looks lovely in lace, and who has fabulously pulled the event together and invited us to be a part of it all. We chat with Dale Bradford from ETO Magazine, who is there to help celebrate, we meet Jo Hemmings and Victor Ebuwa. We have a few minutes to chat with Cara Sutra and Digital Harlot before we are introduced to all the wonderful people from Adult Sex Toys who have made La Boudoir Boutique a reality, and my mind is a blur of names and faces I wish I had time to connect to a little better.
Kay reads one of my fave passages from The Perfect Submissive to an enthralled audience, and it’s hard to tell just how much of the perspiration on people’s brows is from the hot weather and how much is from Kay’s sexy reading. I read from The Pet Shop, breakfast with Tino, and we all sweat in solidarity as we think of new and sexy ways to eat breakfast.
Kay and I admire the changing room with the big sign above the door that reads confessions in stern black letters. The displays are gorgeous, the set-up has a warm and playful feeling to it, with a warehouse brimming with toys, books and other delectables sandwiched in between the office and the main shop. We are told that the striking pole dancing manikin was difficult to find, but on eBay, you can find anything. It’s interesting having her leaning over my shoulder with her long hair tickling my bear arm as I read. Everyone is excited and enthusiastic and friendly. Bubbly is flowing. There are nibbles. And there’s cake! The place is abuzz with the feel of new beginnings, and it’s very easy to get caught up in the playful spirit.
When the readings are finished, Kay and I are led back to the office where we are seated on a comfy leather sofa while Dale from ETO Magazine interviews us about the trials and tribs of erotica writers in a post 50 SoG world. There’s never enough time, and we share a few more moments with Cara Sutra and Digital Harlot, who is snapping photos with a professional eye. And then it’s time to don our travelling togs and catch the taxi and the fast train back to London for part two of our exciting day.
We share the train journey with Nymphomaniac Ness, saying our goodbyes at St Pancras before we tube it on over to Travelodge Two in Shorditch, a place with which we are quite familiar by now. We chat over a quick sandwich and then it’s time to change clothes touch up lippy, and we’re off to Sh! for the Poetry and Reading Slam we’ve been looking forward to.
Coming to Sh! Women’s Store for a reading event is always a bit like coming home. Renee and Layla are busy at the till, but not too to give us hugs and a warm welcome. Jo comes up the stairs all aglow from preparing for the event and there are more hugs. Victoria Blisse is there with her fab OH, Kev, neither of whom I’ve seen since Smut by the Sea. And Victoria has brought snickerdoodle cookies! God, I love that woman! I’m in heaven! Lexie Bay and Doug are there, Lexie in her sexy Lexie shoes, and Jane Fae was there and ready to read. Jillian Boyd, Meg Phillip, Zak Jane Kier, Mr and Mrs Modesty Blaize are there. There were some amazing poet; Jay Walker, Frantic Ali, Lisa Davies. And it’s a special surprise to have Helen Orford Hula-Hoop Artist affectionately known as Hula-Hoop Girl in the audience, looking lovely and ready to perform later that night.
Wow!I hope I didn’t forget anyone!( I apologise to those for whom I have no links. If you’ll friend me on FaceBook or on send me a Tweet, I’ll add your link, and would LOVE to connect with you. You are all totally amazing!)
There’s always something magical about reading the words you’ve written out loud to other people, but there’s even something more magical about doing it with others who are reading their words as well, and there is such an amazing mix of performance poetry and fiction. There are moments of total hilarity and moments that are deeply moving. All of these moments happens in five-minute increments with the lovely Kay Jaybee womaning the stopwatch and the spanker for those who go over their allotted reading time. The pace is fast, the offerings are diverse and spirits are higher than the temperature in the cosy Sh! basement. Though in retrospect, I’m sure the temperature was exceptionally high because of the sizzling readings being offered. But the lovely Sh! Girlz rose to the occasion keeping glasses topped off with fizz.
As is always the case, reading smut makes for ravenous readers and listeners. The fabulous Bluu Bar, may it rest in peace, has been resurrected as Bill’s Restaurant, and sixteen of us crossed the street from Sh! and descend on the place with lumber-jack appetites ready to eat, drink and chat the night away. The food is eclectic and good and the company is even better. In fact the company is so good that some of us end up over at the bar in the Holiday Inn so that we can keep talking.
Writers talk. They do that a lot when they’re together, and they can’t get enough. I suppose it’s probably because writing is such a solitary vocation, and it often feels like we’re the only ones out there. That’s changed with social media, but still, it’s that time together that inspires us, encourages us, and gets us ready to go back and write on.
It’s well after midnight when Kay and I head back to the Travelodge too exhausted to do much more than nod good night in front of our hotel room doors. It’s been a double whammy for us, and it’s been a good one! I take off my make-up, and brush my teeth while reflecting on being a VIP for the first time and the adrenaline rush of high-speed training from one venue to another to read my stories and how damned much I love my work. I figure it’ll be hours before I am able to slow my mind down enough to sleep. It isn’t. Even in the heat of the unusual warmth and even with the street noise coming in the window from Shorditch night life, I’m asleep almost instantly.
In the morning, Kay and I say our good-byes at Liverpool Street Station as she heads off for breakfast with a friend. I meet Victoria and Kevin Blisse at the Polo Bar for a breakfast extraordinaire cheese and mushroom omelette and two, that’s right, count them, two iced coffees while we talk writing and PR and Smut by the Sea and Smut in the City. We linger long after the food is gone because talking never stops when writers are together, unless they all have laptops or notebooks and can spread out at the table and write. As we pay and leave, there’s excitement about going back home and returning to our writing routines. There always is. It’s the thing that binds us together, the thing that brought us together in the first place. We go our separate ways already looking forward to next writing fix and to the next time we come together to read, to talk, to celebrate what we love. I catch the bus to Waterloo Station thinking about the experiences of the day past now that I have time to unwind and hit the play-back button in my head.
I’ve been invited as a VIP to the grand opening of the wonderful La Boudoir Boutique – a VIP – me! And I’ve been invited to read in a reading slam at one of my favourite places with some of my favourite people, and with some people who are now new friends I look forward to getting to know better. I’m back home now, and as I write this, still tired from the wild two days and still trying to sort through the fabulous play-back in my head, all I can think right now is that I love my job. I really, really love my job!