Jul 312014
 

Conner Habib is presenting CatalystCon Opening Keynote Plenary Address:
Sparking Communication in Sexuality, Activism and Acceptance
. Check out Conner’s bio here.
Conner Habib

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
I’m just someone who’s paying attention to sex and trying to communicate what I observe. Sex is a great mystery. By “mystery,” I mean it’s something that we can always learn more from than about. So I let sex guide me and see what happens. Sex shows up everywhere – in culture, in science, in history and in my own life, of course! So when it shows up, I wonder what it’s doing there and follow its lead. Any change I bring is a result of doing that.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?
Studying with the biologist and geoscientist Lynn Margulis for three years. Getting a science education from one of the most thoughtful scientists in history was so huge because it taught me to work with two different gestures of investigation at once – first of all, to listen. To see try to understand whatever I was interacting with in its own context and its own language. And second of all – as a consequence of really listening – to question everything. I really began to not believe in very much; I wanted instead to learn how to experience it. (This questioning of fundamentals, by the way, is especially necessary these days when dealing with what passes for science itself, which has unfortunately gotten watered down into a belief system instead of a process.) It also didn’t hurt that Lynn was constantly writing and thinking about sex at a fundamental level – including how the physical phenomenon of sex emerged in the first place.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?
There’s the constant war that we’re familiar with: The war to suppress sex, to legislate against it, to erase history, to demonize the body.

But I also think there’s a challenge of complacency amongst well-intentioned people. We’ve come to this place where we’ve chosen our tools in the battle against sexual oppression, which is an urgent battle. But while we’re fighting the good fight, we need, also, to examine our most cherished ideals so that we don’t simply create new problems. Let’s stand back and ask fundamental questions. We say we want to promote sexual health, but what is “sexual” and what is “health”? What, after all, is sex? Is sex positivity always positive? What’s the purpose of having a “sexual identity”? I want to get to the root of these sorts of questions while we’re resisting the ongoing efforts of people and institutions in power to control our sex lives and thoughts.

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?
I think the visibility of sex workers’ lives and the consequent discussion of sex worker rights has been huge. A lot of this has happened through resisting further oppression. That resistance has led to sex worker organization, and has brought the voices of many eloquent sex workers and advocates to cultural consciousness.

I also think the voices of trans* people are being heard more and more, for similar reasons and with positive results. A welcome and beautiful aspect of trans* equality has been the questioning of a purely materialistic view of sexuality, biological sex and gender.

I’ve also noticed that, even as the gay community has become more “mainstreamed” and thus are losing some of their radical power of identity, those very non-normative aspects of the gay cultural history have begun to permeate norms. More and more “straight” people seem willing to think about sexual identity, to try new sexual acts previously thought of as “gay,” and to consider non-monogamous relationships.

Sex workers’ rights: The right to view and engage with sex in an everyday and practical manner (by making sex your job). Trans* rights: The right to express your identity in the face of deeply-engrained and damaging metaphysical views about the body. Gay cultural permeation of norms: A feeling of more freedom when it comes to sexual acts and relationships.

While none of these developments are “complete,” I think that amongst all the suffering that sexual oppression is causing, these are three hopeful flourishes.

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here

Jul 162014
 

We are looking for 1-2 dynamic, eclectic performers to join us for our evening performance at CatalystCon West on Saturday, September 13, 2014

What is Urban Erotika? – Mo Beasley’s UrbanErotika is a monthly performance series celebrating erotic love through poetry, spoken word, music, dance, and theatre – as expressed by New York City’s diverse cultures.  Each performance is composed with four Suites of Eros and starts with the most soft and sensual, ending with the most wild and explicit. The Infatuation Suite, Seduction Suite, Sweet Bliss, and the Raw Suite are the full spectrum of romantic and sexual love at UrbanErotika.

What kind of performer are we looking for? UrbanErotika has hosted all types of performance artists such as Puerto Rican tap dancers, Korean folk singers, West African dancers, Jewish musicians, South African singers, European poets, as well as the tri-state area’s best-known African American poets, dancers, singers, and musicians. We are seeking 1-2 CatalystCon attendees who can blend their unique art with ours.  We are exceptionally excited to combine the open and honest communications that CatalystCon performers/panelist and communities continue to embrace and the beauty of open-minded eclectic art that UrbanErotika champions.

The Specifics – Who are you? What do you do?! Are you interested in adding to our collective?  We are looking for dancers, singers, musicians, or any other unique creative to be a part of the show. Please be aware the selected artists will have between 5-10 minutes of performance time.

If interested please send a link or attachment (between 5-10 minutes) of what you do best along with all requirements, such as time, space, etc.., and any additional information to :

UrbanErotika@gmail.com. We will respond to all inquiries. We look forward to rocking the stage with you.

Deadline for submissions is Monday, August 11, 2014.

Jul 102014
 

Slut: A Documentary Film and Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story to be Screened at CatalystCon West This September

Dee Dennis, founder of the CatalystCon sexuality conference, announces the lineup for the first annual CatalystCon Film Series. The film series will take place on Thursday, September 11 and will feature the films Slut: A Documentary Film and Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story.

Slut: A Documentary Film features the stories of girls and women who have been the victims of sexual bullying and slut shaming in the United States and Canada. Emily Lindin, creator of The UnSlut Project, and director Jessica Caimi spoke to women about their experiences with slut shaming, as well as media figures, sexologists, psychologists, and other experts including Drs. Carol Queen, Shira Tarrant, and Ebony Utley. “Slut” explores how we can all work toward change in our schools, communities, and culture, starting with ourselves. A director’s cut of the film will be screened for the first time at CatalystCon West, followed by a Q&A with Lindin and Caimi.

“I am so excited for The UnSlut Project to be a part of CatalystCon’s debut film series event,” said Lindin. “The informed, sex-positive community at CatalystCon will be a wonderful audience and a great source of feedback for ‘Slut: A Documentary Film.’”

In Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story, former U.S. Navy SEAL Christopher Beck embarks on a new mission as Kristin Beck. Kristin’s journey in search of the American ideals that she protected have a whole new meaning as she lives her life truthfully as a transgender woman. Kristin hid her true identity throughout and after her service knowing she would lose it all if anyone were to know her secret. She came out publicly In 2013, a year and a half after her retirement. This film brings exclusive interviews from Kristin’s family and friends about her service, as well as their reactions to her coming out. It also includes exclusive footage of Chris Beck in training and combat. While many people have been supportive, some in the public have expressed more bigotry than she ever expected. After a lifetime of service, Kristin has learned that her fight for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness did not end on the battlefield. 

“I thank CatalystCon for including the documentary film “Lady Valor” in their film series this September in Los Angeles,” said Beck. “More importantly I wish to thank the entire staff of CatalystCon for their never-ending search for understanding in human sexuality and sparking the activist in all of us toward truth and enlightenment.”

“I’m so excited to be part of the evolution of CatalystCon,” said Carol Queen, who will serve as host for the Film Series and conduct Q&A sessions with Lindin, Caimi, and Beck after their films are screened. “Offering films that illuminate sex/gender diversity and issues is a logical next step for this terrific conference that brings people together to explore some of the most pressing and interesting sex-related topics of our times.”

CatalystCon West will take place at the Westin LAX September 11-14. Registration for the conference and the Film Series is currently open at catalystcon.com/register. The Film Series is open to the public, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Center for Sex & Culture.

 

 Posted by at 2:39 pm
Jun 252014
 

Stars of the “Golden Age of Porn” to Share the Stage at CatalystCon West This September

Dee Dennis, founder of the CatalystCon sexuality conference, announces the lineup of Closing Keynote speakers for CatalystCon West, which will take place September 11-14 at the Westin LAX. The panel, which will close out the four day event, will feature Annie Sprinkle, Veronica Hart, Candida Royalle, and Veronica Vera, moderated by Good Vibrations Executive Vice President Jackie Strano.

Along with Gloria Leonard, Sprinkle, Royalle, Vera, and Hart formed Club 90 in 1983 to support each other on their journeys as stars during the “golden age of porn”. They went on to pursue their personal goals and blaze new trails iunnamed-2n the fields of human sexuality, women’s empowerment, gender, erotic expression, and free speech, and all now hold doctorates in sexuality.

“The four of us combined bring 149 years of sexual exploration and creative expression to this keynote. We promise to dazzle and delight!” said Sprinkle, who is currently pioneering the ecosex movement and will be speaking on a panel on the subject during CatalystCon. Royalle adds, “At this point in my life and in my career, there is so much I want to share, and CatalystCon is the perfect venue. I can’t wait!”

The keynote panelists will offer a taste of the days when New York City was America’s sex film capital, movies were shot on 35mm film, making porn was cause for arrest, and Times Square was X-rated. The members of Club 90 will share the memories, the laughs, the drama, and the intimate stories of their controversial support group, as well as honoring the memory of founding member Gloria Leonard, who passed away earlier this year. Says Vera, “In sharing my personal sexual evolution, I hope it inspires you to trust yourself, and follow your own path, wherever it leads.”

“It is my distinct pleasure and honor to be part of this very special closing Keynote at CatalystCon West this year,” said Jackie Strano. “This fabulous group of women collectively represent a huge part of feminist and sex positive history and this panel will be our version of the Kennedy Center Honors. Buy your conference ticket and be in LA that weekend because you will want to be able to say one day that you were there.” Discounted early-bird registration for CatalystCon West is available until June 29 at catalystcon.com/register.

 Posted by at 2:00 pm
Jun 112014
 

More Than 80 Speakers Sign On for CatalystCon West Sexuality Conference This September

Dee Dennis, founder of the CatalystCon sexuality conference, announces a wide-ranging list of more than 80 speakers participating in CatalystCon West in Los Angeles, CA, September 11-14, 2014. Created to inspire exceptional conversations about sexuality, CatalystCon will return to the west coast with over 40 sessions and panel discussions on sexuality-based topics.

CatalystCon West’s schedule will include sessions on sex work, polyamory, sex positive parenting, sex and chronic illness, and business, and panel discussions on sex toy materials, erotica, social media and feminist ethics, and living with an STI. A complete list of sessions may be found at catalystcon.com/sessions.

“CatalystCon is more than an amazing sexuality-themed conference – for three days, we create the world we wish we could live in all the time: a world where people of all different areas of sexuality from sex researchers to grassroots activists all come to together to share information and viewpoints, express their mission and take on each other’s missions, and dialogue together freely, candidly , and nonjudgmentally,” said Joan Price, who is presenting a session on Senior Sex and joining a panel discussion of Envelope-Pushing Erotica. “I share the issues of older-age sexuality with young people. They share their issues with me. We embrace each other personally, professionally, and in the spirit of humanity. We come away bigger, better people because of CatalystCon. I am thrilled to be a part of it.”

Speakers include sex educators Carol Queen and Robert Morgan Lawrence; academics Ebony Utley and Shira Tarrant, activists Cunning Minx and Emily Lindin, and industry icon Annie Sprinkle, plus sex workers, sex writers, sex therapists and other experts. A complete list of speakers may be found at catalystcon.com/speakers.

CatalystCon West will also feature the debut of a pre-conference workshop on Writing & Performing Erotika for the Stage with UrbanErotika’s Mo Beasley, and the return of Rachel Kramer Bussel’s writing workshops. “I had a wonderful experience teaching my erotica and sex writing workshops at CatalystCon East,” said Bussel, former Village Voice sex columnist and editor of over 50 anthologies. “I was impressed with the creativity, commitment and intelligence of the writers, published and unpublished, who took the workshops and am looking forward to teaching again and seeing lots of published pieces emerge afterwards. CatalystCon attendees are at the forefront of what’s happening in sexuality and have plenty to say about it.”

“It’s been exciting and rewarding to see CatalystCon grow and evolve so much in such a short time,” said Dee Dennis. “I’m thrilled with the lineup for CatalystCon West and look forward to welcoming returning speakers and adding new voices to the conversation.”

CatalystCon West takes place September 11-14, 2014 at the Westin LAX in Los Angeles, California. Discounted early-bird registration is available until June 29 at catalystcon.com/register.

 Posted by at 5:25 pm
Mar 262014
 

Founder Dee Dennis Announces CatalystCon West, September 11-14, 2014

Over 350 attendees gathered in Arlington, VA March 14-16 for the CatalystCon East sexuality conference. Created to inspire exceptional conversations about sexuality, the event featured 40 sessions and workshops on topics such as sex education, sacred sex, sex work, and sex positive art, as well as live podcast recordings in the CatalystCon Studio. Described by founder and organizer Dee Dennis as a “melting pot of sexuality,” CatalystCon unites sex educators, sex workers, health advocates, writers, activists, and others with a passion for creating change.

“A movement is underfoot at CatalystCon! A movement where open and courageous Sex Positive conversations, advocacy, action, and FUN happen. This exceptional happening will inevitably flow over into the world at large,” said Mo Beasley, who spoke on the Opening Keynote plenary, moderated the panel PRIDE & Prejudice: Confronting Homophobia in Communities of Color, and hosted UrbanErotika during Saturday evening’s entertainment.

During the CatalystCon East Opening Reception, Tristan Taormino was presented with the Catalyst Award by Dee Dennis. “Tristan has been a catalyst for me and for so many others in the CatalystCon community and beyond, and I wanted to recognize her for her inspiring career and all that she has done to spark communication and change in the field of sexuality,” said Dennis.

CatalystCon returns to the west coast September 11-14, 2014 at the Westin LAX. CatalystCon West is accepting speaker submissions until May 15, 2014. The conference welcomes anyone who has something to share and the desire to spark conversations about sexuality, activism and acceptance. To apply to speak at CatalystCon West, visit catalystcon.com/call-for-speakers.

CatalystCon West will also mark the debut of the CatalystCon Film Series, which will take place on Thursday, September 11 and will feature screenings of documentaries on topics related to sexuality. The call for submissions for the film series will officially open next month.

“CatalystCon is like the TEDx of Sex,” said Jackie Strano, Executive Vice President of Good Vibrations. “For queer folks it’s like their Michfest or how it should be. Academics, writers, bloggers, educators, performers, industry professionals, and others come together for a weekend of potent concentrated mash-up of ideas, conversation, workshops, panels, keynotes, training sessions, and connection. I have thoroughly enjoyed and have been deeply inspired by every session I attended and not just the panels I was on or participated in, every aspect reminded me of why I do the work I do and confirmed my belief in education and activism as the road to freedom, liberation, and justice.”

 Posted by at 4:25 pm
Mar 132014
 

Robin Mandell is presenting The Nuts and Bolts of Accessibility. Check out Robin’s bio here.
Robin Mandell

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?

The mere fact of my existence as a visibly disabled woman in public spaces is a reminder of disabled people and the real and equal role we play  in this world. While I don’t publicly express myself in explicitly sexual ways, I’d like to think that in talking about sex I’m challenging assumptions about the role sex plays in disabled people’s lives.

As a disabled person, I can freely, as a peer, enter spaces inhabited by disabled people, both cyber and in-person, to talk about sexuality and relationships, to provide support and education around sexual trauma, to promote reproductive justice activism, and more. As a voice in the sexuality field, I can and will continue to bring the lives of disabled people to the forefront of discussion and education in spaces like catalyst.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?

So many people; so many things. Of late it’s been the articulate voices of disabled activists on social media. There are so many smart, creative, active folks there. You can follow Gimp Girl (@GimpGirl on twitter) to find a small sample of what and who I’m talking about.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

Most of what we hear or read in the news, or watch on TV and in movies, about sex, whether it’s consensual sex or sexualized violence, is sensationalized to the point of being wrong, insensitive, misleading, or all three. There have been too many reports of the criminal justice system not treating sexualized violence as the serious crime it is. Mainstream society isn’t a safe place to talk about healthy, pleasureful sexuality, to seek support as a survivor of sexualized violence, or to coalesce around reducing the incidence of violence. While sex, and violence that is sexualized, are two different things, I think that society’s inability to coherently talk about either is what is at the root of a lot that is wrong right now.

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?

I’m hopeful that the FDA’s decision to make emergency contraception available over-the-counter for everyone will improve access to it and result in increased knowledge about what EC does and doesn’t do. It’s a valuable tool for reproductive justice and for people’s health care.

I’m also really pleased to see activists calling universities and colleges to task for the way they’ve historically handled (or not handled) student safety and sexual violence prevention on campus.

5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic The Nuts and Bolts of Accessibility to CatalystCon East?

This is going to be a little bit of a ramble; it’s too important to me to work up soundbites.

Disability is something a lot of people fear, and that fear can translate to uncertainty around people who have disabilities. This is often a gut-level fear, one that people may not be consciously aware of. There are also a lot of misconceptions and prejudices out there around living with disability and being a sexual being; there’s overlap here with reproductive justice and sexualized violence concerns.

As professionals in sexualities and relationships fields, we’re not immune to prejudices and misconceptions.

Ensuring that people with disabilities or illnesses can access our sexuality and relationships related services or products isn’t as simple as just deciding to include us and—poof–it happens. It’s not difficult, either. Including people with disabilities does often require changes which typically have not been part of the way mainstream society goes about its business. In other words, making services available isn’t just about shedding prejudices and expanding philosophies; it may take real changes in how things are done.

Changes to laws and  requirements for institutions to comply with those laws are terrific. I want to take it down to the individual and small business level. My goal is to take the realm of disability “accommodation” from something “special” to something run-of-the-mill.

In other words, I want for all of us to build the things we would do to give disabled people access to our services or materials into everything we offer, whether we know for sure it’s being accessed by someone with any given disability or not.

I don’t have all the answers, but I will raise the questions and provide practical tools.

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself

Not many people know that I have an excessive fondness for the baby corn cobs often found in stir-fries at Chinese restaurants.

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here

Mar 132014
 

Mona Darling is presenting The Business of Blogging About Sex. Check out Mona’s bio here.
Mona Darling

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
I am creating a sex positive community of women who can embrace their sexual interests and limits. I want to help them build self esteem in the bedroom, (and beyond!) I also want to create a healing space for women who have experienced sexual abuse.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?
Ages ago Mistress Ilsa Strix and Mistress Sabrina Belladonna started a web site called ProDomination. It was a pay site that raised money for Pro Dommes who encountered legal trouble. I was young and fairly new to sex work and in awe of their ability to gather so many women to work together for such a noble cause. I loved the community that they created. I loved being involved and feeling like I was a small part of a much bigger movement.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?
In my ‘glass half full’ kinda way, I think this is a great time for sexuality. People are talking about sex a lot more and the internet offers easy access to sexual exploration and sexy education. Not that there aren’t still challenges. We need sex education more then ever! Not just education about the physical aspects, like avoiding STI’s, but also the metal aspects, like being ok with who you are, and what your interests are and how to negotiate them.

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?
I feel like in the last year there have been some great movements forward in body acceptance. Still a long way to go, but I loved seeing several lingerie companies, like Forever Yours Lingerie, vow to use real women in their ads.

5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic The Business of Blogging About Sex to CatalystCon East?
I’m speaking on a panel about the business of blogging. The three of us, Epiphora, Queerie Bradshaw and I, have approached the business of blogging differently and we look forward to sharing what we have learned about our respective approaches. Personally, I think the business of blogging is an important one right now because it provides a great way for women to stay home with their kids, yet still bring in some income.

6. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.
As a kid, my mom and I were members of The Peoples Temple in Northern California.

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here

Mar 122014
 

Francisco Ramirez is presenting Entrepreneurial IQ: 10 keys to designing an unconventional career in sexuality. Check out Francisco’s bio here.
Francisco Ramirez

1. How do you see yourself as catalyst for change?

We are all radiant sexual beings with unlimited potential. Yet, society often steps on our sexual selves and quiets us unnecessarily. And perhaps just as often, we quiet ourselves and our own voices. I know I sometimes do. (In fact, I get scared all the time.) But when I’m feeling strong enough, I find the courage to say, “f— it,” and I push through whatever’s holding me back. I see part of my role in life to inspire others to identify whatever beliefs and fears might be holding them back from being their sexually fabulous selves, and to then say “f— it” as well.

My team and I use various platforms–primarily television and online media, but also trainings, research, advocacy work, a mobile app, and chats with strangers on park benches in New York–to promote sexual well-being for all people. My core belief is that we all have a right to lead sexually healthy, fulfilling lives, however we choose to define them. And I will battle ’til the end to see this happen.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?

Sue Johanson–my inspiration for talking sex on TV! Margaret Cho. Dan Savage. UC Berkeley. Carol Queen. Good Vibes. The Rachel Maddow Show–that is how broadcast and hosting should be done! And everyone who comes to see me at Free Sex Advice in the park: these New Yorkers are constant proof to me that human beings are capable of taking great risks and finding even greater payoffs.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?

No hesitation on this one. That people in the US (and around the world) are still not in agreement that we should have gender equality as an agreed upon baseline. This is bananas. That some people believe that the lives and livelihood of some human beings are somehow more valuable, worthy than others astounds me. If we can’t agree that we all should be afforded the same rights how can we ever move forward?

4. Why do you feel it’s important to bring the topic of your session Entrepreneurial IQ: 10 keys to designing an unconventional career in sexuality to CatalystCon East?

So many of us sit on our dreams. But when you really want something, when you really have a dream, there’s a good reason why. If I can inspire just one person to create the next big thing in sexuality, I am elated.

5. Share one unknown (or little known) fact about yourself.

I start every morning at 4:00am, salsa dancing around the apartment in my pj’s while listening to Celia Cruz. ¡Azúcar!

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here

Mar 112014
 

Ritch C. Savin-Williams is presenting “Mostly Straight”: A New Sexual Orientation Group. Check out Ritch’s bio here.
Ritch C. Savin-Williams

1. How do you see yourself as a catalyst for change?
By presenting a positive view of being young and having same-sex attractions, of being proud and happy with your sexuality, of being able to live a “normal” life of your choosing, of having unique talents and perspectives because of your sexuality, I hope to counter the “woe-is-me, suicidal view of gay youth.” I do this through my research, teaching, speaking, and books.

2. Who or what was a catalyst for you?
The early researchers of sexual-minority youth who said it could be done.

3. What do you feel are some of the biggest challenges or concerns facing us in the field of sexuality right now?
Accepting the range of sexual diversity that is increasingly apparent and to find a safe place for those of all gender expressions.

4. What do you feel are some of the most important/valuable positive changes that have been made in the world of sexuality in the past year?
The various ways one can be nonheterosexual and the visibility given to these possibilities.

5. Why do you feel it is important to bring this topic “Mostly Straight”: A New Sexual Orientation Group to CatalystCon East?
To illustrate that not all straight people are totally straight, that having a bit of gayness is common and acceptable, and perhaps even an advantage. It gives added credence to the reality of the sexual continuum. Between straight and gay is a large range of nonexclusivity.

 

Learn more about all our amazing speakers here. Register for CatalystCon East here.