Q&A with Comedian Ros Ballinger

IGTK fringe posterOnce upon a time (like, somewhere last year, I think), a grumpy, short-arsed and bespectacled blogger Twitter-met a gloriously funny, curly-haired comedian. Thus, a wonderful friendship was born.

Ros Ballinger is a comedian and slam poet, and this August she’ll be taking her show The Idiot’s Guide to Kink to the Edinburgh Fringe. In the show, she talks openly about her own experiences with BDSM as a beginner – spanking etiquette, dirty talk pitfalls, doms to avoid; no subject is off limits. Except PVC. She’s not into that.

I talked to Ros and quizzed her about her beginnings, what drives her, and why you should come and see her show if you’re headed to the Fringe.

How did you get into stand-up comedy?
Stand-up was the culmination of a number of years of escalating creativity and loudness alongside it.  I’d been writing for a long time, and as part of my undergrad degree; writing led to sharing work in public, which led to reading it out loud in public, which led to performance poetry (which I still do), which led to trying improv – something I was never adapt at but which gave me the confidence to act like a complete fool on stage and rid myself of any inhibitions I had left.  It’s hard to be self-conscious about much when you’ve pretended to be two inches tall and dangling from someone’s nostril hair.  Through improv, I met stand-up comedians connected to my university, and they encouraged me to try stand-up; the first time I ever workshopped material with them, they laughed – and that was the gateway, the first time I ever thought ‘I can do this, I’m good at this.’  I did my first stand-up set, and it was wonderful, and the rest is history.   

Did you always love performing or was it something that grew on you?
When you see pictures of me in my poetry-reading days, I’m sat down, my body language is very shy, I’m physically curled in on myself.  I’ve never been particularly shy but it look a long time to be able to stand in front of people and have to rely on my own intuition to get them on my side without my legs shaking and wanting to throw up – and that’s still the case, sometimes.  The nerves never go away, which is a good thing; they keep you on your nerves, and challenge you.  I can always be better, but I feel much more at ease on stage than I was at the beginning – that moment when they all laugh, and they’re all looking at you, wondering what you’ll do next – it’s very addictive, and very powerful.

Who are your inspirations?
I have a particular admiration for female performers who are unapologetically silly, imperfect and filthy – women are placed to a much higher standard in how they present themselves, both privately and on stage, and I aspire to be someone who does not give a shit about looking like a complete idiot despite constantly being under the threat of judgment for being ‘unfeminine’ or ‘unclassy’.  

On the ‘mainstream’ side I’m a big fan of Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, both together and separately, and I love Sarah Millican and Josie Long, and Grace Petrie.  Amongst performers I know personally, I really look up to Jackie Hagan, Cameryn Moore, the ladies of Sh!t Theatre, and fellow filth peddler Jenny May Morgan(/Pamela de Menthe.)

And, of course, Girl on the Net.  If it wasn’t for her and her writing, I don’t think I’d be doing this at all.

How did your show, The Idiot’s Guide to Kink, see the light?
I got into stand-up and kink around the same time, so I was developing my style and types of jokes, and exploring a new dimension to my sex life, and they ended up being interlinked in a big way – I was meeting more and more dominant men and building up experiences, and the more general mishaps and inherent silliness in S&M I was encountering, the more I was realizing that not only did it have the capacity to be really hilarious, but that I wasn’t seeing any other comedians cover the subject a great deal.  There was a niche, there, and it was really worth exploring.  The show developed to an hour which has been done in various forms at, amongst other places, the Camden Fringe and Greater Manchester Fringes.    

What’s your favourite part of the show?
When the audience is responsive, things get incredibly fun – I love when they react in horror/surprise/fascination to the various sex toys I bring out during the show, and I always love introducing the Doxy into the mix and enlightening the otherwise uninitiated.  My comedy life and sex life seem to intertwine a tad, because the moments I often find most satisfying are when I humiliate myself in front of a mixed crowd, in action or in anecdote.  I must be a masochist. No idea where that came from…

What do you get up to when you’re not talking kink on stage?
I do a lot of slam poetry as well, which takes me across the north, and I go and watch a lot of performance both at the professional and the localized level.  I’ve been going to more kink events recently and I’m aiming to go to more munches and get back into the ‘scene’ in Manchester.  Beyond that, I desperately trawl for men on dating apps, eat a lot of pasta, and spend time with my baby niece, whose birth I’ve already co-opted for comedy.  Poor thing.

What has been your favourite/funniest/weirdest on-stage experience so far?
There’s been a few – the woman who yelled “PINWHEEL!” in an involuntary, I’ve-just-revealed-my-sex-life way when I held one up during a show (whom I proceeded to take the piss out of for the rest of the show), the other, I imagine, drunk woman who thought it was a toothbrush, the reaction I always get when I inform unsuspecting audience members what you can use ginger for (which prompted my favourite ever heckle from a horrified friend, who simply shouted, “WHY?!”), the gig I had last week where I held up a vibrator to a microphone and accidentally fucked it to death, the performance at Eroticon where I had to tailor the show to an audience of experts and, definitely the weirdest – the time my dad came to see the show.  The show where I wave sex toys around and talk about dirty talk and spanking.  His reaction was to essentially tell me it was hilarious, then never mention it again.  If I can do that, you can do anything.

This is your first time performing at the Fringe – tell us why people should come and watch the show.
I feel I have a uniqueness to offer to audiences in what I talk about – although kink is spoken about freely by the sex positive community; by bloggers, toy-makers, sex work advocates, I don’t think it’s been given a decent airing by stand-up comedians, and the feedback I’ve had from audiences is that they enjoy hearing about it on stage, and enjoy engaging with it in a relaxed, non-academic way.  It is a shame it’s such a niche subject in that medium, but I do enjoy being known for that, and having a reputation as being fairly shameless.  People enjoy the show and come out energized and discussing BDSM more in-depth and openly than they might normally have done.  It’s always a lovely atmosphere, and at 10pm each night, what better way to warm up for a night out?

Plus, as mentioned, my dad is coming on the Saturday, so I’ll need a massive audience as a buffer so I don’t accidentally make eye contact with him. 

What does the future hold for you? Where else can people catch you performing in the next couple of months?

My immediate future beyond the Fringe will involve a vast amount of sleeping and adjustment to normal life again – beyond that, I hope to focus on getting back into stand-up not focused around my show, and will be doing my usual circulation of the brilliant regular spoken word nights and poetry slams across Manchester and all of the north.  If you like filth, I’ll also be doing a spot at Cameryn Moore’s brilliant Smut Slam at the Fringe on 9th August, and have just signed up to perform at an event next year which I’m sure many of the kink/sex positive community will know about and be popping along to.  Watch this space…

Get your tickets to The Idiot’s Guide to Kink at the Edinburgh Fringe here. Follow Ros on Twitter at @hurricane_ros

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Call for Submissions: Dancing with Myself – Stories of Self-Love Erotica

Surprise! I’m editing a new anthology for Sexy Little Pages!

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Editor: Jillian Boyd
Submission Deadline: Midnight (UTC+1), 31 August 2017
Heat Level: from romantic to filthy
Word Count: 4000-6000
Payment: 50% royalties split equally among participating authors
Enquiries: jboydwrites@gmail.com
Submissions: jboydwrites@gmail.com

For this anthology, I am on the look-out for your sexiest and most creative masturbation erotica. Flying solo or playing with a partner (or partners)? Fingers, hands, toys, whatever else is suitable? A quick fumble under the sheets? A private show for a willing watcher? It’s all welcome. Use your imagination, and inspire some friction with your fiction.

A HEA is welcome but not a hard requirement. I’m looking for a range of heat levels, with a word count between 4000 and 6000 words. Bring me diverse characters, sexualities, genders and abilities across the spectrum – I’m especially welcoming submissions from/about POC, LGBTQI and non-binary peeps.

Genre of the book will be contemporary, so for this one no historical, futuristic or paranormal stories.

Usual Sexy Little Pages restrictions apply – no paedophilia, no necrophilia, no incest or pseudo-incest, gratuitous violence, bestiality or fan fiction. More details on this are available on the submissions page or in the FAQs.

Email your story to jboydwrites@gmail.com , putting ‘SUBMISSION:” followed by your story title in the subject line. The body of the email should include the story’s title, a brief synopsis or blurb, word count, and your pen name.

Story should be an attachment in doc, docx, or rtf format. Please use standard manuscript format or something closely resembling it, but no headers or footers.

Times New Roman, 12pt, double spaced, first line of paragraph indented.

We want the focus to be original content, though we may include one or two previously published stories that are no longer available elsewhere. If that’s the case, please note it in your cover email.

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Erotica : Shine a Light – Masturbation Monday #148

Masturbation Monday is the weekly erotica writing meme hosted by Kayla Lords. From time to time, I like to play along. 

The prompt this week is Candlelight – based on an image by Marie Rebelle. Not only is it a gorgeous image, it’s also a prompt that’s perfect for erotica.


At midnight,

by candlelight and sound alone,

she walks up the creaking steps to her waiting bed.

It is where her lover

waits for her, the promise of his lust

pulsing in the suffocating summer night air

like a lifeline coming through.

At midnight, she walks up those stairs,

nothing guiding her but for one flame

and her endless nerve.

The house is silent,

the only noise coming from

a lonely bird outside, somewhere distantly hidden in the nighttime tenebrosity of the moors.

The house is silent, apart from the sound of her breaths,

quickening

quickening

quickening as she approaches her door.

He waits there, sat on her bed,

illuminated by one flame, one flame shining a light on the aching need

brewing between both of them, brewing all throughout the day until she spoke the words to him

meet me in my bedchamber at midnight

spoken softly into his ear, softly so mother and father and sisters and maids wouldn’t hear, this scandalously unladylike display of desires put on for his ears and his alone.

He stands to approach her, takes her hand and presses a kiss onto

the back of her hand. The candlelight shines a light, and she is once more taken aback

at the sheer perfection of him.

The candlelight shines a light

but after the string of hidden passions snaps, and clothes are stripped and flesh is bared

it’s only when the flame blows out that both of them

can truly see each other

for the first time

at last.

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Writing Update #1

One thing I don’t often do, and which I am very, very remiss in, is promote my other writing. The stuff I do away from this blog, be it the anthologies I’m in or the writing I do for other websites.

So, I’m changing that. I’m aiming to do a regular writing update post, telling you where else I’ve been popping up. Which, in itself, was something I’d originally planned to start doing at the start of the year. That was when I had a Twitter conversation about self-promotion with the amazing Dr. Emma Southon (seriously, keep an eye out for her book on Agrippina). But then, depression decided to say hello and stay over for a few months.

Ah well. Better start late than start never, I guess.

So, here’s what I’ve been up to!


YNOT CAM

This month (thanks to Girl on the Net, who passed me a writing request), I started writing for YNOT CAM. This is a website aimed at webcam models, with articles on topics ranging from tech to health and beauty, to internet law. My first article was a lot of fun to dig into – it concerned the recent development of a one-of-a-kind 3D printer by a team at the University of Minnesota, and how it could, in the future, influence sex tech and its uses in the camming world.

Kink Craft

I’ve been writing for Pixie and Andrew on a regular basis for a while now, and they are just the loveliest humans to work with. This article I wrote, on sex and depression and the power of knowing you’re not alone, is from a while back, but I’m putting it in here anyway because I can.

Fuck.com

I do so love writing for the good folks at Fuck.comhere I am, chatting about erotica and my top recommendations.

 

Speaking of erotica, SACRED AND PROFANE, edited by Torrance Sené and featuring my story Down On My Knees, is still out and still kicking ass. It was even made into a Top Pick on The Romance Reviews! If you haven’t yet bought your copy, DO EET.

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Cool Me Down

Post title inspired by Margaret’s Cool Me Down, which is a Lady Laid Bare approved ABSOLUTE BANGER.

There is a grim physicality about summer weather. At least with autumnal cold, we know where we stand. We stock up on knitwear, layer ourselves, strap our boots on for winter walks. We know how to warm up.

After the scorching hot weather we’ve had in the last week, I’m not entirely convinced we remember how to cool the fuck down.

When I talk about grim physicality, what I mean is that summer has a knack for making you hyper-aware of bodies. Not just your own (this will not be a post about body confidence though – bear with me) but pretty much of everyone around you. Your day becomes its own version of the video for Bitter Sweet Symphony – except it does so for everyone else too, so in a way we are all Richard Ashcroft.

Commutes are a sweaty, toasted nightmare. Tubes are sardine cans. Walking through Central London is a never-ending, perspiration-doused game of live action Frogger, even on the sidewalks. Everyone is angry at everyone else for no particular reason. Temperature differences between inside and outside are, to put it mildly, shocking in some places. Sex? Surely, that’s not something you think about in this weather (at least, not in the conventional sense, anyway). You’re already sticky and panting. You’re already extremely aware of every inch of your body, because every inch of your body is aching and glossy with the sheen of perspiration.

Sex? Fucking hell, even walking to the supermarket’s a bit much. Or to the Tube.

The latter of which was what I was doing earlier in the week. I was on my way to work. It was, to put it mildly, a balmy afternoon. The kind where no-one would particularly frown on you cracking the window open to get air into your bedroom.

My street is on a bit of a hill, so when the weather goes bat-arse bananas hot like this, I occasionally stop to readjust myself. I was doing exactly that, near the top of the hill, when I heard a noise from one of the houses.

A deep, lustful, resonating moan.

Followed by more moans, the telltale moans of a woman in the throes of some very sexy time indeed. The house’s window – what I assume was the bedroom one – was open, but the curtains were drawn. I was, briefly, glued to the spot. Was it someone watching porn? Was it someone using the quiet hours of the afternoon to have a wank? Or was it two people, having summertime sex with scant disregard for the fact that one of them was moaning so loud most of that part of the street could hear it?

Not a clue.

Not that I was meant to have a clue – I was just meant to walk by, on my way to the Sardine Tin Express, my body a vessel for hot, hot heat and elbow jabs of strangers.

Still, regardless of all that, it was sort of nice to be hyper-aware of bodies in a different way for just a few moments. A reminder that sex doesn’t stop existing, and doesn’t stop being fun, even in the hot weather. If not for yourself, then for others.

Who knows, maybe sex is a viable way of cooling down. If not physically…


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Neck Deep

It’s hard to write when you’re neck-deep in a depressive episode. Anything, really. Even a shitting shopping list, or a note.

Your brain feels like a constant attack of sharp and noises. Everything about your body feels off, and not in a way that makes much sense. Yesterday, I spent a chunk of my late shift at work with the uncomfortable sense that I had too many teeth. Sometimes I seem to phase out, losing seconds of time by just going too deep into my own head. My surroundings seem to melt around me, until I snap back with a start.

Sharp. Jagged, loud, at once both intimidatingly, vastly huge and so tight and small it almost chokes me. Tears come frequent and terrifyingly hard – accompanied almost always by a weird, sinking feeling in the pit of my belly.

It’s been a month since my last proper post but this depressive episode has been running for a good while longer. I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up for not *doing anything creative*, like a break from writing or making things suddenly nixed those things from who I am. It doesn’t, though. Laura Jane Williams’s writing, especially her new book Ice Cream For Breakfast, was partially responsible for helping me see that, along with Ruby Tandoh and Leah Pritchard’s amazing zine on mental health, Do What You Want.

Right now, I’m learning to preserve my energy, taking small steps and focussing on my day job, and taking care of my basic needs and wants. Day by day, I just see where I get and keep breathing. Forcing myself to write – for whatever non-essential reason my brain conjures up – makes me want to hate writing. I can’t stand the tortured creator myth because it seems so counter-productive to me to put your art at the front at the cost of something of yourself.

So I’m not.

I’m temporarily abandoning ship on writing fiction for submission. And I’m not going to force myself to live any experience for the sake of content on this blog (which is something I’ll tackle on another day, as this deserves a post of its own). It’s my way of taking care of that something of myself I feel like I’ve abandoned.

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eLust #93

aurora glory header elust 93
Photo courtesy of Aurora Glory

Welcome to Elust 93

The only place where the smartest and hottest sex bloggers are featured under one roof every month. Whether you’re looking for sex journalism, erotic writing, relationship advice or kinky discussions it’ll be here at Elust. Want to be included in Elust #94 Start with the rules, come back May 1st to submit something and subscribe to the RSS feed for updates!

 

~ This Month’s Top Three Posts ~

A dress to die for

Pushing Past

Necessary.

 

~ Featured Post (Molly’s Picks) ~

Kink lite, Kink life
Disturbance

 

~Readers Choice from Sexbytes ~

The Contract

*You really should consider adding your popular posts here too*
All blogs that have a submission in this edition must re-post this digest from tip-to-toe on their blogs within 7 days. Re-posting the photo is optional and the use of the “read more…” tag is allowable after this point. Thank you, and enjoy!

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Scene from a Date Night

we’re out on a date in a restaurant nearby. my chair faces the window looking out on the high street, bathed in that evening spring glow.

my mind is flitting. too much work mulch, not enough “focus-on-the-love-of-your-life”. my mind flits and my eyes flit, and then i spot them.

a pair of pigeons. sat on a roof in my direct line of sight. they’re cuddling, it looks like. in that birdy way, their cooing heads occasionally forming a little heart.

i point them out to him and we watch, for a while.

then a third pigeon shows up. sits at a distance, watching.

“They’re shagging, aren’t they? We’re basically watching pigeon sex happening.”

“Yep.”

they’re shagging. in that evening spring glow – a beautiful, tentatively warm day – we are sitting in a restaurant watching two pigeons having sex on a roof.

briefly. before either of us can say anything else, the third pigeon intervenes and an actual fucking soap opera breaks out on that roof. feathers fly. one pigeon is unceremoniously pushed from its perch. it’s over in seconds but it takes us a short while to process what the hell we’ve just been observing.

and then the food comes and we talk and laugh and my brain stops flitting and starts shutting the hell up for a change. it’s nice. so very, very nice to reconnect in this most basic way considering we haven’t really had the chance to do so in the past few weeks.

pigeon-related drama and all.

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Cables

so i google “can you feel your depression in your head”

because there’s no other way I can express that sense of my brain

being much like a tangle of cables.

but apparently some people report feeling a something

like a pressure or a fullness there

it’s odd, really.

but it makes sense considering how

at certain times

that tangled cables feeling consumes most of the rest of my body.

a horrid kind of bondage

with rope made of brain chemistry and a yapping little voice

repeating the same damn things over and over

until you’re almost breathless with the knowledge

of how badly your mind can turn on you.

 

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