If any of you were expecting a sensible Eroticon round-up post from me, you clearly haven’t been following my work for the last 18 months. Eroticon 2019 was my second year at the brilliant sex writing conference, and it was truly magical. It wasn’t, however, perfect, and I’ve been struggling to write a post that explores how I found the weekend hard as well as showing y’all how much happiness and love the weekend filled me with.
By the time I started my Eroticon adventures on Thursday, I was practically alight with excitement about the weekend surrounded by some of my favourite people – and it absolutely was the highlight of my 2019 thus far. That doesn’t make it easy to write about it with any degree of rationality and reflection. But as this is my blog, I don’t have to do that, so instead I want to offer you a little glimpse into some of my thoughts and feelings over the five days.
And, of course, because I’m a sex blogger, my underwear.
I plan my outfits for Eroticon carefully – it’s the one place where I can be totally myself for a whole weekend and as well as talking in a loud, excited voice about sex positivity I can wear t-shirts with vibrators on them or badges that proclaim me a reliable pervert. I plan my underwear too, and if I’m honest? I didn’t get to show off nearly enough of it…
(Note: the ‘you’ I am talking to changes throughout my post. I also talk a little bit about depression.)
Thursday evening: pale pink knickers edged with floral lace
Showering and shaving my legs for the first time in years. Getting dressed and shivering with anticipation as I slide into my brand new knickers. The long train ride. Writing and flirting a little with the men sitting opposite me Walking through London in the dark evening, feeling brave and fearless. Crying, because it’s raining and I can’t find the key, followed by relief when I’m inside and can strip off my wet fleece. Seeing two of my favourite people for the first time in months – and one of them teasing me for having shaved my legs. Having a nickname that makes me smile.
Falling asleep in the knickers, and waking up early to finish planning the presentation for my session the following day. Surprise at my utter lack of anxiety about this. Wondering if I manage to contain my Cheshire-cat grin when you invite me into your bed and I get to fuck two of my favourite people. It feels so natural to lie there with you both, to touch you and kiss you. Sucking his cock after it’s been in your cunt, and surprising (maybe impressing?) you by swallowing his come. Teasing you – in fact, teaming up with him to tease you. Knowing that while the weekend ahead is going to be brilliant part of me wants to stay here in bed with you for the next seventy-two hours.
Friday afternoon: turquoise lace knickers edged with electric blue ribbon
Borrowing his soap when I shower because it makes me feel sexy. Struggling to keep up with my brilliant friend’s social skills when we meet a new person. Putting on my pin badges and wrist-gauntlet-thingies – subtle ways to flag as kinky and queer – while on the tube. Almost laughing with happiness when we meet more of my friends. Looking behind the scenes at a Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium’s dildo laboratory and talking about my vagina as we look at sex toys. Declining champagne because I hadn’t eaten, and eating a possibly the most delicious panini-thing every. Being proud of myself for listening to my body.
Friday evening: dark electric blue mesh-lace knickers that match my bra
Freaking out at how many faces I recognised but names I couldn’t remember, and how nice everyone was. For the first time in my have-been-on-anti-depressant-almost-since-I-could-legally-drink life hitting that perfect balance of alcohol that makes me beautifully tipsy (maybe drunk) but without my usual nausea. Singing Grace Petrie at the top of my lungs with you and not caring if folks looked at us like we were crazy. Giggling. Flirting with you. Doing something I really shouldn’t be doing – that we really shouldn’t be doing – and loving every minute of it. A fancy meeting you here toilet-stall fuck is something that would have horrified me two years ago, but it’s the kind of thing that makes my heart sing now. Dancing and feeling as light as air. Almost falling asleep before I’ve taken off my clothes when we get home. Lazy, sleepy kisses.
Saturday morning: high-waisted, navy blue cotton knickers with yellow, green and blue lace around the legs and a pale blue bow
Early morning touches and kisses. Putting on my power outfit that was bought with a far less unconventional events in mind. Remembering how nervous I was this time last year, and instead feeling the energy bubbling through me. Live-tweeting the #CrowdSourcedKeyNote (a hashtag that did not catch on) and smiling so much at all the love for the community that was already in the conference room.
The first session: Insatiable: A History of Women and Desire, with Dr Eleanor Janega and trying to write down every word. Listening to one of my best friends do her session and wondering if anyone could tell from my wide smile how fucking proud of her I was. Taking so many notes in Kayla Lords’ talk and despite my growing hunger not allowing myself to miss a single thing she said. Feeling incredibly inspired.
Fear hitting about fifteen minutes before my own session starts, and that horrible feeling that maybe no one will turn up to hear me talk about representation in erotica. Tweeting silly things at my friends, because I need to pretend I’m ok. Knowing I’m talking too fast; being unable to stop. Doing my best to explain what I mean by diversity making erotica more filthy. Wavering between pride that I have engaged my audience and they are joining in with the discussion and utter dread that I’ve entirely lost control of that discussion. Watching the clock. Hating myself for not having prepared more.
Getting good feedback from folks and slowly convincing myself that maybe I did ok after all. Maybe I did a good thing: I started some conversations, and semi-coherently made some points about shit I’m really passionate about. Not making it to the next session, even though it’s one I really wanted to hear. Tweeting and retweeting my fucking heart out as I try to find my balance again. Smiling at how much I have grown as a kinkster since last year’s Kink Lab. Emotions hitting me incredibly powerfully – it can’t be con-drop, but presenter drop?
Saturday late afternoon: pink and electric blue embroidered lace knickers that I bought for Eroticon 2018
Napping, I think, and everything feeling slightly surreal when I wake. The blur of surrealism not helped the event I’ve been invited to attend. Relief when I see my friend in the hotel lobby, and nervous excitement to be in the room with all these women who mean so much to you. Wishing I could be brave enough to say something witty, then embarrassment when I do and the words don’t come out right. Watching you, of course, but also the smile on her face. It looks like pure happiness. Dinner with some of my favourite people, all delicious food and conversation that is interspersed with innuendo and a little flirting.
Saturday evening: no knickers
But there are garters – a suspender belt to hold up my stockings that would match the bra I’m wearing – except I’m not wearing a bra because I’m wearing a corset. Being unable to stop smiling as you lace me into her corset while your husband explains to someone from another world why, in our world, that’s normal. Wanting to write something about how ridiculously hot wedding rings are. Talking about religion and kink and non-monogamy. Putting myself out there and making the most of the networking opportunities to pitch myself, because I’m a fucking bad ass – now and then at least, when I’ve had wine.
Talking to three incredible women and a man who
isn’t too much of a wanker I deeply admire. Or not talking to them so much as standing their and letting their words – their brilliant clever words – drift over me. Feeling amazed that I am here: that this is my life and I have presented at a conference alongside these people. Not wanting the night to end. Back at the flat, convincing them that I’m not upset because of the person who broke my heart. Bending over so they can take a Sinful Sunday photo of my stocking-clad legs.
Sunday: mustard yellow knickers with white dots and a lacy trim
Knowing that my knickers match your handbag and belt and telling you this. Introducing myself to someone I’ve followed for so long it feels like I already know her – and now I can kind of say I do. Pulling on my Anxious Writer’s Club t-shirt, because I have decided that wearing it just for that panel is the amount of extra I want to be. Cheering for my friends as they read their brilliant words and I ate tiny red velvet cupcakes. Being told I’m racist and trying to accept that while tweeting all of the incredibly clever things Cara Thereon said. Going to Dr Eleanor Janega’s second session, because I’m already a little bit in love with her. Being annoyed at you, just a little, in the way that makes me want to fuck you.
The rain on the roof as we shuffled all our chairs forward. Feeling like everyone in my entire world was in that room, listening to you. You almost made me cry, because you always inspire me and you made me feel so powerful. Laughing and making notes and trying to tweet, and knowing that despite the nausea from pushing myself to do everything all at once it’s absolutely worth it because I feel amazing. Blinking back tears when Molly takes the mic to say goodbye, and definitely crying by the time GOTN takes it to say thank you to her and Michael.
Not able to stay for as long as I like after everything’s over, because I love everyone in this room but I am exhausted. Realising that my period may have started – the fourth in seven weeks. Sleeping naked and not being woken up by your call. Spooning and talking about relationships. Articulating that I don’t want to do the kinky thing we’ve planned tonight, because I’ve built it up in my head and I want to be in the right place for it – oh, and I don’t want to pressure you into sex.
Crashing, with fears and tears choking me, because I am sure I’m going to lose you. Talking about it, and trying to understand that you’re not angry with me, that you just care. Finally falling asleep, still wondering if I’ve ruined everything by being an emotional, depressed mess. (Maybe a hot mess, though?)
Monday: light blue knickers with a white feathery floral pattern and a ribbon trim
Goodbye kisses outside the tube station. Starting to put my plans into place before I’ve even left London. Writing on the train again. Feeling proud of myself for everything I’ve achieved: I didn’t only go to a sex writing conference, I spoke at a sex writing conference. Knowing that I’ll go back next year. Already missing the wonderful folks who make up the community and family I have found through sex blogging.
Quinn Rhodes (he/him) is a queer, trans, disabled sex writer with vaginismus. He’s a slut and a sex nerd who writes about his adventures in trying to fuck without fucking up. Quinn can usually be found wearing stomp-on-the-patriarchy boots while falling in love every time he fucks.