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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Another Sex and Love Q&A

Sometimes, in between the Avengers gifsets and Harry Potter headcanon posts that cloud my Tumblr dashboard, I strike it lucky and find one of those Ask Me Anything lists, relating to sex and relationships. I tend to save them in Notepad, ready and waiting to be whipped out on a day where blogging inspiration is hell to the low and I need a bit of a prompt to give myself a kick up the arse.

I bet you can’t guess where this is going.

 

Yes, it’s time for another Sex And Love Q&A with Lady Laid Bare! Such excite! Much question! Many sex! Some questions deleted/edited at my discretion!

What’s your favorite position and why?

Me on top, because I have full view of my partner and his face in the throes of ecstasy. Which is hot as eff.

What’s one thing in particular that makes you want to tear off your lover’s clothes?

When he puts on a Scottish accent.

What’s the best sex advice you can give?

Keep hydrated. Seriously. Otherwise, you’ll end up having a massive headache and that’s a mood killer, for sure.

What’s your sexual orientation?

Bisexual.

Are you okay with rough sex?

Depends on what happens during the sex. If there’s something going on that crosses my personal limits, then I wouldn’t be okay with it and I would make it known.

Do you prefer sex or masturbation?

I like both, and I love a bit of post-sex mutual masturbation.

What’s your fantasy?

Currently, it’s a toss-up between having a lie-in and going on an actual holiday.

Do you like to spank/be spanked?

I love being spanked. It’s one of my biggest turn-ons, and I can pride myself on having a decent pain threshold. I’m absolutely crap at spanking other people though, as I can’t really put enough power behind my strikes to deliver a decent blow. Especially when I’ve got an implement in my hand.

Do you like teasing or would you rather get straight to the point?

I like teasing when the situation calls for it. When you’ve got two people who are absolutely gagging to have each other, I usually find that I can’t be arsed with teasing (both giving and receiving) and I would quite like to just get down to foreplay.

Are you sexually active?

In that I do have regular sex, yes.

Why aren’t you fucking anyone right now?

Because I’m writing this blog post and my other half is at work. And it’s the middle of the day and my day off work and I’m currently very busy watching Come Dine With Me.

Does penis size really matter?

It really, really does not. Not a lot of people come from vaginal stimulation alone, so deft fingers and a tongue which knows what it’s doing are things that can help you along a lot more than the size of a cock.

Are you comfortable naked?

Sometimes, yes. It’s still something I’m learning. My body has changed so much over the past few years, so I’m still getting to know it the way it is now.

Have you ever 69’d? Did you enjoy it?

The lying down 69’s quite wonderful. Neither of us are up for the challenge of the full on, straddling one.

Have you had any unwanted pain during sex?

Oh god, the leg cramps. So, so many leg cramps.

Five turn ons.

Scottish accents, beautiful eyes, great sense of humour, beautiful cinnamon bun, too good, too pure for this world.

Describe the best sex you’ve ever had.

In our hotel in Bristol during Eroticon 2014, after the Saturday night party. Completely carefree, bed was amazingly soft, later on we stood in front of the window looking out over the city, both absolutely naked. It was brilliant.

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She’s Come Undone – Kristina Lloyd answers my questions

Undone blog tour 2014_300

Undone blog tour 2014_300Kristina Lloyd writes the kind of fiction that unearths something raw inside you, something you – most likely – didn’t even realize was there. She does so in her trademark no-holds-barred style and she’s been doing so for over fifteen years. Her new novel, Undone, is out now and as I promised she’s here to answer my burning questions.

Undone is a rich, sensual and terrifying book, which will pull you in and refuse to let you go until you know what happens in the end. Go and buy it, because you need it in your life. And for that matter, you need all of Kristina’s books in your life.

Right! Now, I believe there was a Q&A planned…

What made you want to start writing erotic fiction?

For a long time, I knew I wanted to write fiction but didn’t know how or where to begin. I kept hearing advice to write genre fiction if you want to be published, so I decided to give it a whirl. Erotica was the genre which appealed the most because I’m very interested in sex and desire. I guess my motivations were initially quite pragmatic but once I began to explore, I was hooked.

What draws you to writing erotic thrillers? Are there any other erotic thrillers you can recommend reading?

I love creating narratives of heightened tension and leading my characters into danger. For me, that dark, uncertain, threatening space has a compelling erotic charge. One of my favourite books is Susanna Moore’s In the Cut. There are no sex scenes of the type you’d expect to find in erotica but it’s a thriller shot through with dark, dangerous desire, and there are some brief, powerful horny encounters. It’s beautifully written. Alas, no HEA. Well, actually, hurrah for that! The current expectation for erotic narratives to conclude with a joyful coupling restricts both readers and writers.

What was the inspiration behind Undone?

An exchange of ideas at a writing workshop prompted me to consider applying a classic murder-mystery opening to erotica.

You are one of the most honest authors I know, in the sense that your writing doesn’t shy away from the gritty bits. Do you think this is something that’s missing from the current erotica market – stories with a real life, down-to-earth honesty to them?

Thank you! I find the gritty bits hot so that aspect comes naturally to me. Today’s market Is very commercially driven, with publishing houses pushing the currently popular model of softcore, aspirational romance. Escapism has long been part of women’s popular fiction but I think we’re lacking a counterpoint to that right now. Which isn’t to say I’d like to see more fiction featuring people with office jobs worrying about their gas bill. I think we can depict ordinary lives and longings in extraordinary, imaginative ways. I’d like to see rich inner lives, I guess, rather than rich outer lives.
I have to say, the obsession with billionaires leaves me cold. For me, vast wealth goes hand in hand with a limited social conscience. I’d be more inclined to write about a Marxist revolutionary rather than someone who’s comfortable and minted.

You’ve been an erotica writer for over fifteen years. What are some of the changes to the landscape of erotica you’ve seen happen?

The main change is positive: the shift from women’s erotica being deemed unacceptable and unnecessary to its current broadscale acceptance. The popularity of FSOG, for all the book’s flaws, did demonstrate that women have sexual desire, a fact our culture has ignored for centuries. But the pay off is, because this cultural shift has been very located in the realm of popular fiction, we have a retail and publishing industry who are effectively policing the parameters of female sexuality. Only certain types of books are “allowed” through. We need representations of female desire in other areas, in film, TV, art, porn, popular culture.

Do you have a set-in-stone writing process for writing your novels?

I wish! I’d be a lot more prolific if I had. The idea for a novel is usually triggered by something small and intriguing, then I start weaving other possibilities around that. I usually start writing from the beginning, with a sense of where the story is going, and I sketch out the plot as I’m writing the early pages. I can’t write a plot cold, without those early pages. I need to “feel” the book – where it’s located, its mood, its characters – before I can build the rest of the story.

Your second and most notorious novel Asking For Trouble turned 15 years old this year. What are your memories of when you were writing it, and when it first came out? What was the immediate reaction?

There was no reaction because the internet hadn’t fully arrived. I don’t think I even knew what my publication date was. I did zero marketing. I used to go online for an hour or two at the weekend, and was massively surprised to find Asking for Trouble was regularly ranking high on Amazon’s charts. I think erotica was generally doing well on Amazon, as most people were still buying ordinary books on the high street. But as reviews started to appear, I realised I’d done something different. My editor at the time was hugely supportive. She saw the feminist potential of the genre and was more than happy to have a book on her list which challenged the cultural expectations of female desire. And I was happy to be writing it, to be given a chance to write whatever I wanted, no matter how filthy or shocking people might find it.

Do you think a novel like Asking For Trouble could be written and published today? What do you reckon the reaction would be?

Well, the big publishers are targeting the FSOG crowd, most of whom would be horrified by Asking for Trouble! So no, they wouldn’t touch it. I don’t think Black Lace, in its current incarnation, would publish it either. It’s odd. Asking for Trouble outsells all my other novels combined, and is still selling after all this time. It’s by far the dirtiest, and is also the most commercially successful of my books, but it doesn’t fit the current mould.

In Undone, Lana buys a vintage handcuff collection after her divorce. Did you have fun researching vintage handcuffs? What’s the prettiest pair you found?

Handcuffs are a wonderful thing to research! Strictly speaking, Lana’s is a vintage and military-issue collection but I shorten it to vintage. I spent a lot of time exploring sites dealing in antique militaria and law enforcement supplies. Wow, there are some incredible restraints out there! Undone starts at a party and Lana has with her a pair of Clejuso 15s, the heaviest cuffs ever manufactured. Those were the prettiest I discovered. But I do have a soft spot for nasty, ugly, vicious cuffs as well!

If you had to pick between Thrill Seeker’s Baxter Logan or Undone’s Sol Miller, who would you most like to spend a night with?

Haha! Baxter Logan! He’s permanently randy and so out of control. Then Sol can step in when Baxter’s exhausted.

What are your plans for the future?

Pass! Well, I want to put out a couple of digital anthologies. And I’m toying with a couple of novel and novella ideas. I’d love to be able to develop myself as a writer of erotic thrillers but romance is so in vogue, and it’s a struggle to get heard. I’m not aiming for fame and fortune. Never have done. But, right now, I’m low on the stamina required to write for love. On the personal front, I have a busy year ahead of me so I may use it to take stock. Or I may be gripped by an idea which won’t let go of me, and start writing a new novel next weekend!

Have you got any words of advice for your fellow erotica authors?
Don’t be a hack. Write about what turns you on.

And finally, if you have one, share with us the recipe of your favourite cocktail.

My favourite recipe is:
1. Put on a nice frock
2. Fix a flower in your hair
3. Walk to Valentinos in Brighton/your bar of choice
4. Order a Margarita
5. Order another

About Kristina

Kristina Lloyd writes erotic fiction about sexually submissive women who like it on the dark, dirty and dangerous side. Her novels are published by Black Lace and her short stories have appeared in dozens of anthologies, including several ‘best of’ collection, in both the UK and US. She lives in Brighton, England.

Book cover for Undone

About Undone

When Lana Greenwood attends a glamorous house party she finds herself tempted into a ménage à trois. But the morning after brings more than just regrets over fulfilling a fantasy one night stand.

One of the men she’s spent the night with is discovered dead in the swimming pool. Accident, suicide or murder, no one is sure and Lana doesn’t know where to turn. Can she trust Sol, the other man, an ex-New Yorker with a dirty smile and a deep desire to continue their kinky game?

 

Buy Undone

Amazon UK paperback :: Amazon UK Kindle
Amazon US Kindle
Amazon CA Paperback :: Amazon CA Kindle

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The Sexy List of Sexy Questions – Part Two

photo credit: Sinsong via photopin cc
photo credit: Sinsong via photopin cc
photo credit: Sinsong via photopin cc

Thus the sexy list of sexy questions continues. Wonder what comes up this time… Read part one hereabouts.

Do you consider yourself “kinky”?
I consider myself “vanilla with kinky sprinkles”. I like to balance the two.

What is your number one kink?
Spanking, followed by rope, followed by voyeurism.

Do you identify as a top, bottom, dominant, submissive, switch or something else?
I don’t really identify as anything, but I think if I did, it would be as a submissive.

Pick a favourite fictional character, what sort of kink do you think they would have?
Clint Barton/Hawkeye – he’d totally be into bondage. Definite dommy vibes from him.

Tell us about a fantasy of yours.
I couldn’t possibly do so – you’re not ready for that kind of jelly.

Do you shave/trim/style your pubic hair?
Nope to all three, because it’s way too much of a fuss and it itches like hell when it grows back. I might give it a bit of a trim in the future, but as for full shaving or styling, nope.

Tell us a true story about your sex life
Well, this blog is kinda full of them…

Have you ever been to a strip club?
No, but I’d like to.

What is the least sexy thing you can think of?
Well, inspired by what I’m currently listening too, it would have to be the sound of foxes shagging in the bushes at three in the morning.

What is the sexiest song you have ever heard?

How do you feel about penetrative sex?
Ten out of ten, would partake again. And again. And so on and so on.

Would you rather give or receive oral sex?
Both.

Would you rather have kissing or sex?
Kissing, followed by sex, follwed by more kissing, followed by more sex.

Do you consider yourself a good kisser?
I like to think I am, right now.

Do you consider yourself good at sex?
Yes.

Is there anyone you would like to be having sex with right now?
ILB, but he’s currently otherwise engaged. Maybe later.

What do you think is the sexiest part of the body?
The eyes, because all the truth about a person can be deduced from a look in the eyes.

What is your sexual super power?
I’m very bendy. And I give amazing erotic massages.

If you could have incredibly kinky sex with any person living, dead, or fictional, who would it be and what would you do?

I assure you, that is entirely between me, Tom Hiddleston and Peter Capaldi. And Cumberbatch.

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The Sexy List of Sex Questions (…sort of)

Moira Shearer In The Red Shoes

The other day, I found a massive list of 69 questions (that number should kind of tell you what the questions are about, really) on Tumblr. I figured it would be a Good Idea to answer some of these here on the blog – obviously I’ve cut the number down slightly, because I don’t half go on when a question really takes my fancy.

So, this is kind of inspired by Exhibit A’s recent Q&A, but with questions I found rather than questions supplied by you. If you fancy supplying me with questions so I can do another one of these, feel free to do so.

Also, this is part one of two. Because despite the fact that I cut the number of questions down, it’s still a lot for one post.

What is your sexuality?
I identify as bisexual.
What do you find physically attractive in a partner?
– Stubble. I do like a bit of beard, but if it gets to the point where the line towards hipster lumberjack blurs, then no.
– Eyes. It’s all in the eyes.
– Smiles. If you want an example of a woman that can bring me down to my knees with just the way she smiles, Natalie Dormer is your girl.
What do you find mentally attractive in a partner?
If someone can make me laugh, if I can talk to someone for hours, if we can be ourselves with each other, if this person gets me… then yeah.
Do you have a “type”? If so, what is it?
Homo Sapiens Angelicus. It’s a very particular type, but it definitely works for me.
How much sex do you have a week?
Once a week, definitely. Depending on how we’re both feeling, what our moods are, and silly stuff like that.
How much sex is too much sex?
When you wake up with a massive headache and realize you’ve effectively dehydrated yourself. Remember this: always hydrate after sex. And possibly also eat something small, depending on how you’re feeling.
How often do you masturbate?
Not as often as I did when I was single. If you’re counting mutual masturbation, then basically every time we have sex. Just me on my own…well, I do occasionally slip a moment in when I’m feeling it.
How do you define sex?
Sex goes beyond just PIV penetration. There are plenty of different ways to have sex without actually penetrating someone.
What is your favourite sex act?
Mutual masturbation, followed by oral sex.
What if your least favourite sex act?
Cleaning up afterwards.
How many sex toys do you own and what are they?
I haven’t a fucking clue, actually. They’re kind of gathering dust in a box underneath our bed. Revoke my sex blogger loyalty card if you must. However, I do want to point out that I kind of wish I owned more sex toys – budget and that – and that I still DESPERATELY want an nJoy Pure Wand. And the Stronic Eins from Fun Factory.
What is your favourite sex-related website?
I like the Good Vibrations website because they’ve got tonnes of very useful information along with their webshop. If we’re talking UK, definitely Bish UK, which is an sex and relationships resource blog for young people. Kinda wish I had Bish when I was in my teens.
What kind of porn is your favourite?
I’ve got an incredibly varied taste in porn, actually. But I always come back to queer porn, because it’s honest, hot and makes me think.
How would you feel about a partner who watches lots of porn?
Well, considering the fact that my partner and I both have porn-related regular features on our respective blogs, I think you can say I’m alright with it, ta.
What is the weirdest porn you’ve ever seen?
I was a bit mystified when ILB introduced me to Kaori Shimizu’s Semen Game of Death…

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Author Blog Hop Q&A

Shiver me timbers (wait, what?), I’ve been tagged in an author blog hop! My lovely friend Lexie Bay has tagged me, so I get to answer some questions in regards to what I’ve got planned on the writing front in the next twelve (or so) months.

So, here I go!
If you could achieve anything with your writing in 2014, what would it be?

I think getting more stories accepted/published would be my main goal. I’d also like to try and get a story accepted in a magazine or on a website, or something to that tune. I’m also tentatively working on my first novella, so setting a big block of time aside to do just that is something I’m hoping to do quite soon.

And maybe try out something different? I quite admire what Kay Jaybee has done with her Jenny Kane persona (and K D Grace with Grace Marshall.), so maybe something in the romantic direction?

(Psst – keep it quiet, but I’m also trying my hand at a sci-fi story about time travelling…)
What are the top three demons you must slay to achieve your goals in 2014?

  1. Fear of branching out and trying to write about new things.
  2. Achieving some sort of balance in my life – one in which I don’t go mad trying to do everything at once.
  3.  Self-doubt/negativity. Speaks for itself.

Name three things that inspire you to write

  1. Random things I hear and see during the day.
  2. Random trains of thought, such as “what if…”
  3. Wanderlust.

What advice do you have for a new writer who is considering writing fiction?

Write whatever you want to write about, in the way only you can. Whichever genre or style you write in, you are not a lesser writer for writing in the genre you love.

And if you’re considering writing erotica, the above applies doubly.

 

Whew! I think just about everyone who could be tagged for this has been tagged, so I’m just going to leave this here. If you want to “be tagged” by me, leave a comment and I shall do just that.

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