By Kate Conger
By Brian Rinker
By Rachel Swan
By Anna Pulley
By Erin Sherbert
By Chris Roberts
By Erin Sherbert
By Rachel Swan
On one of the few remaining dark stretches of 16th Street, a group of flamboyant underground opera patrons offers a ridiculous backdrop for the theatrics of bottom-rung hookers and unkempt drug dealers who ply their wares here. A well-marked piece of trade cheers on her pimp as he charges after a debtor on a short-frame bicycle. The assemblage outside the Lab parts with a flutter of boa feathers and kimono silk to allow room for the chase, then turns its attention back to smoking cigarettes and tittering about the canine libretto in Paws Across the Universe; it's the age-old collision of culture and commerce, and somehow charming. A few doors down, three corseted women in elegant leather jackets tap on the glass of a well-lit but locked doorway. The handsome dread inside looks up from his book and turns down the music on his portable stereo.
"Welcome, ladies," he says with a flourish.
"Nice shirt," they say, indicating the bold "Lesbian Sex" lettering across his chest. He smiles and nods as the women make their way up the stairs, which are covered in schoolhouse linoleum. They giggle at a small sign in the hall that says "This way to Bay Area Girls' Center" and wander up a second set of stairs to the Luna Sea women's space. A glittering placard outside the "Booty Boudoir" announces "Fairy Butch's XXX Party." Aphrodisiacs, caffeine, vitamin C, and Calistoga are offered at the door -- no booze and no guys at the Triple X. The women gulp down a couple of aphrodisiacs and grab their copies of Karlyn Lotney's (aka Fairy Butch's) new book, The Ultimate Guide to Strap-On Sex, before winding their way past an overhappy dolphin head hanging on the wall (a suggestive homage to those disco-era dolphin dildos Lotney enjoys gently mocking). As usual at Fairy Butch shows, the theater is packed, and the women are packing.
From "Packing: Taking Your Show on the Road" (Chapter 8): Packing is simply the act of wearing a dildo underneath one's clothing. ... When you pack hard, you signal a variety of intentions to your partner. First, you convey that you were thinking about sex before even leaving the house. ... Second, you indicate that your sexual interests include penetration. ... Soft packing involves the use of a pliant device, or a harness and flexible dildo, to convey the feel and appearance of a penis and scrotum in repose.
Well, not all the women are packing. For a proper orgy, one would hope for a somewhat even distribution of strappers and receivers, and there are a good number of receptive partners in the house, though you wouldn't know by a show of hands.
"Lesbians tend to be a little on the shy side," explains a well-seasoned butch with a barrel chest and a bearlike laugh. "They'll come to a sex party and then act demure if you ask them if they are planning to have sex. You have to loosen them up, if you know what I mean."
Like with an evocative show? Lotney takes the stage wearing your basic Johnny Cash black.
"Who wants to get laid tonight?" shouts Lotney like a good-old-boy auctioneer from Ohio. The crowd roars with high-pitched trills but only a few hands go up.
"See what I mean?" says my new butch pal. "Seductive reluctance. It's part of their charm. Their coquettish ways. Little white lies and yielding eyes. It's enough to drive a guy fucking bonkers." My pal is definitely packing.
Lotney, whose dildo expertise is known by anyone who has shopped at Good Vibrations in the last decade or sought sex advice from one of her various columns, jokes about not having had sex for the last two years while she's been slogging away at the book.
"But I got a letter from someone today saying, "With the help of your book, my girlfriend had her first orgasm through penetration.' And that's exactly what I was after."
Lotney pulls a sweetly bashful femme named Amy from the audience to sit on the stage bed while she draws audience members' questions from a box. The answers are delivered onstage, as in the book, with homespun warmth and practical honesty.
From "Care and Feeding: Lubricant, Latex, and Toy Cleaning" (Chapter 5): Dear Fairy Butch, I'm not sure how I feel about using artificial lubricant. Shouldn't I be able to get wet enough on my own? -- Golden Gate Granola Girl. Darlings, Some gals feel that if they can't produce sufficient vaginal fluids to enable their favorite activities, then they are in some way inadequate to the task. ... I say, au contraire, my Pet! Though arousal is indeed a function of lubrication, there are many elements which can influence the process as well: age, menstrual cycle, and diet, to name a few. ... Whatever the situation, there are few occasions which couldn't benefit from asoupcon of the wet stuff. ...[And to Dried Up in Dallas:] Try this handy dandy tip next time, Sugar. Put some Velcro on two lube bottles, and a bit more on each bedpost, or on each side of the bed frame.