Tuesday, June 29, 2010
What's even better is that Jean Marie has asked, and I've accepted, to be an Associate Publisher for her and Renaissance E-Books, Sizzler Editions, and PageTurner Books (her other imprints).
Here's the official announcement and thanks again Jean Marie!
As ebook formats, reading devices, and sales, along with the number of authors whose work we publish, have increased significantly over the past two years so has my workload. With the launching of four new ebook reading devices this year, and various time spent interfacing with Sony, Kindle, B&N, etc., in the Spring I found myself falling almost two months behind on my email, while working quite late every night. It was clear something had to be done.
Therefore we have hired M. Christian to work part time to begin with as an Associate Publisher to help take some of the work load off me. He has already begun uploading our books to Fictionwise, from whence they downstream to Barnes and Noble, and is learning how to use a new software we have just acquired that converts an rtf file into six major formats (doing in about ten minutes what it once took me an hour to do in the Paleolithic of ebook publishing). He will also be responsible for mailing out review requests for our PageTurner ebooks, and other aspects of PageTurner promotion and publicity.
M. Christian, or "Chris" as he is known to friends, has the ideal background for becoming a publisher for Renaissance E-Books: Like myself, he is a big science fiction and mystery geek, and knows the classic and contemporary authors as well as I do, and has written more of both than I have. We published the first collection of his sf/f/h this spring. His editorial credentials in erotica are equally strong. An acquisitions consultant for the late Erotica Book Club, he has published over three hundred stories in the field, and edited many anthologies. And he is solidly grounded in mainstream publishing as well, having worked for an independent print business publisher.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Effective Writing and Blogging for Adult Websites (Industry Insider Series)
Moderator : Frankie Trendler (Radio DenTATA)
Speakers : Ralph Greco (FrequentlyFelt.com), Sascha Illyvich (WriteSex.net), Jean Stine (Sizzler Editions), Brent Martin (AdultForums247), M. Christian (MChristian.com)
Much of online communication comes from the written word, yet so many online companies don’t pay enough attention to the vital craft of effective writing. Poor writing or even the complete lack of text can harm your marketing efforts, damage your reputation, and even harm the image of your websites and your company. On the other hand, effective writing can help you close sales, bring you new business opportunities, and drive more traffic to your website. Our team of specialists all write for a living, and each will share his or her knowledge on how to spruce up your blogs, adult websites, and marketing materials to improve results and put your best face forward.
Saturday July 10th, 2:15 PM – 3:00 PM
Sunday, June 20, 2010
I already mentioned a little essay I wrote about a rather special photo of myself for the great F-Stop site. Well, the photographer himself - the awesome and deservedly legendary Michael Rosen - just popped onto the site and left this wonderful comment. Thanks so much, Michael!
Don’t know why today I decided to finally check on who links to my site …
First, I’m sure I said it in 1992, but thank you and ex-wife for letting me into your lives that day. Over the years, my photography has given me an entry into the lives of many people. That entry has allowed me to get an insight into how they conduct themselves on our cosmic journey – to help me make my choices. And then I’ve published work to help others make their choices.
As one who has devoted his life to making sexual art, working with real people and documenting what they really do – as opposed to pornography – I bought in to, up front, knowingly or not, the fact that any reward shall be limited acclaim, rather than lots of money. So thanks to Chris and the others who said kind words in this thread.
I consider that picture one of the very best of my 30-plus year career, because of the juxtaposition between the, shall we say, extreme act depicted and the calmness and sanity of the participants. (In this case, participant singular; the ex-wife’s employment precluded showing her face.) And I’ve used it as an example of a particular aspect of photography (wide angle lens) in my presentation, “Take Your Erotic Photography To The Next Level”; I dead pan, “Notice how his left hand seems bigger than his face”.
I hear you about feeling old at 50 and not being to push yourself as when younger. I’m 68 and I still feel that I’m only as good as my most recent (don’t say “last”) work.
Coincidentally, I just published “Sexual Art”, the book where the picture first appeared, as a free PDF downloadable from michaelrosen.com.
Thanks, again, for letting me into your life, again.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Roll up, roll up, roll up! You, sir, say that you dream of fame, and all the rewards it offers, but lack any talent whatsoever? And you, over there, wish beyond anything in this world to be the recipient of innumerable offers of marriage? And you, kind sir, desire to earn a considerable fortune but without all the trauma of actual work? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I can make all these dreams and far more a reality. How, you ask? How can I impart to you kind and far-too-simple souls the possible ability to become known the world over, perhaps have innumerable ladies of fine, and maybe not-so-fine, breeding ask for your hand in matrimony, as well as maybe receive substantial financial rewards?
The answer, you see, is in this box. But before I reveal its contents, and the answer to all your desires, I must first tell you all a story – the story of one Harry Bensley.
Harry was, to put it mildly, a bit of a rogue, a rascal, a rake, a rapscallion. Born around 1877, Harry soon proved to as wily with his businesses and investments as he'd was with the ladies, the bottle, and the cards – creating for himself an self-indulgently lavish and totally outlandish lifestyle.
But, alas – or so some stories go – Harry's luck deserted him one day and he lost it all on a foolish wager. Facing absolute ruin, Harry had few options – until, that is, the intervention of John Pierpont Morgan and Hugh Cecil Lowther (the 5th Earl of Lonsdale).
What Morgan and Lowther did was offer poor Harry an opportunity to regain his fortune. All Harry had to do was accept another, very possibly, foolish wager.
THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Outrageous? Definitely! Bizarre? Assuredly! Insane? Absolutely! But what choice did Harry have?
Harry, you see, had to take a stroll. But not one simply down to the local for a point, or even a few dozen, or even hundred, miles. No, according to the terms of Morgan and Lowther's wager, Harry had to walk not just across England, or even down and through Europe, or into the Middle East and then China. No, ladies and gentlemen, Harry had to walk all the way around the entire Earth.
Yes, you may gasp. Assuredly, you want shake your heads in disbelief, but those were the terms of the bet. But that's not all. For not only did Harry have to walk all the way around this lovely world but he also had a few other, well, 'unusual' terms to obey if he was to regain what he'd lost.
First of all, Harry had to follow a very specific path through no less than 169 separate British cities, getting in each one a signature proving his visit. After this would follow travels to 18 other countries, again in a strict order.
Second, Harry would begin his incredible journey with no more than one British pound in his pocket. Any money made on the trip could only be made by selling novelty picture postcards explaining the bet.
Third, his only change of clothing would be a spare set of undergarments.
Fourth, he pound push a baby carriage the entire way.
Fifth, Harry would have a companion who would make sure that Harry obeyed every term and requirement of the wager. No cheating, Harry!
Sixth, Harry would have to – somehow, somewhere – find himself a wife.
As said, this was outrageous, bizarre, insane, but Harry agreed to every requirement and term of the bet. He would push his stroller, he would have only a change of underwear, he would have no money except for what he made selling his postcards, and he would find himself a wife.
But there was one other term, ladies and gentlemen, one other requirement that Harry had to meet to win back his fortune. And that thing, the final condition, has to do with this box, right here at my feet.
You see Harry had to complete his round-the-world walk without a single, solitary person recognizing him. Yes, my rapt audience, Harry had to travel through Britain, across Europe, into Asia and beyond without even once being recognized – even by the woman he would somehow manage to agree to marry him.
And how was Harry supposed to accomplish this? And did Harry win his bet? Ah, but first things first – and now I shall open the box.
HOW TO WIN FAME, FORTUNE, AND MARRIAGE PROPOSALS
Amazing, isn't it? A real antique, too. It's hard to believe that anyone ever wore anything like this – or that Harry Bensley agreed to wear it on planned trip around the world.
The helmet is from a suit of armor and weighs almost five pounds and, yes, Harry had to wear it constantly.
On January 1, 1908, Harry began his journey: wearing his helmet, pushing his pram, followed by his monitor, he began his walk around the world.
Did Harry succeed in his outrageous, bizarre, insane voyage? Did he win back his fortune or did some cruel accident void the terms of the wager? Well, for a while things got sticky. As he traveled, the tale of the Man In The Iron mask grew and people began to flock to see him – as well as try and guess his identity. Even a newspaper of the time, in a moment of cruelty, offered a reward of one thousand pounds to anyone who could guess his identity.
Eventually Harry arrived in Italy, having walked over 30,000 miles in six years without ever voiding the terms of the wager. Alas, the fate – and the failure of diplomacy – intervened in 1914.
The details of what occurred next are hazy, at best. Some claim that Harry called off the wager to serve his country in World War 1, while others say that Morgan called it off and gave Harry a small sum, and there are even a few who argue that other, unknown, causes interfered. In any event, Harry fought for his country and, again the cruelties of fate, was seriously wounded – but Harry's poor luck continued when he lost whatever else he had and ended up having to take a series of low-end positions until his death in 1956.
You say you desire fame but lack talent? You say you lust after fortune but do not want to soil your hands with work? You say you crave the attention of women?
Well, maybe you will have better luck than poor Harry when you put on this ancient helmet and try to stroll around the world without once being identified. But before you disparage Harry Bensley you should know that even though Harry never won back his fortune, and his story is not as famous as some people's, Harry did manage to receive 200 or so marriage proposals from women who'd never seen his face.
But Harry, the once-rake, the once-rapscallion, never once accepted their offers. So maybe Harry did win a bit of something with his amazing bet after all: a special form of nobility befitting the knight's helmet he wore for over six years.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
History is rife with fashion disasters. If you had to pick a single decade where dress sense did a complete Titanic, though, it has to be the 1960s. Taking their sense of freedom to embarrassing extremes, fashion designers all over the world struck out in all kinds of ludicrous directions, proving in their enthusiasm for the unique that they proved themselves the bastions of absurdity.
One of the biggest themes designers seized on during the ‘60s was sex. It was everywhere, thanks to the revolution, so why not bring it into the world of fashion? True, fashion designers had always thought of themselves as the cutting edge of sensual allure, but here was a chance to really pull out the stops. Alas, there are some stops that simply shouldn’t be pulled.
Fashion radicals in the ‘60’s took two directions: less and more. Less being less clothing and added skin, and more being … well, call it more options – the designers’ way of blurring gender roles.
One of the highlights of the ‘less’ movement was the topless bathing suit. Agreed, it was developed and released in 1964 by Rudy Gernreich as a publicity stunt to get his name in the papers, it was still a perfect example of how fashion designers were pushing the design – and taste – envelope. Nothing more than a pair of bikini briefs with a pair of thin straps coming between the breasts – leaving them bare -- and down the back, the, Gernreich’s creation received an interesting of mix of horror and scorn. The horror came from the likes of Vatican, who proclaimed the suit “desperate and senseless adventure of impudent shamelessness”, and even the Soviet Union, who called it “back to barbarism” – of course the Vatican also said that Rock ‘n Roll was the devil’s soundtrack and Khrushchev was publicly outraged when he watched the filming of the Shirley MacLaine movie Can-Can, so at least the suit was in very good company. The worst criticism came from those in the fashion know, who pointed out that all one had to do to have a topless bathing suit was to buy a bikini and leave half at home – and literally half the cost of the $24 suit. The suit really only caused a stir here in the puritanical US (“The police are apprehensive of what these suits will reveal. I’m apprehensive they’ll reveal nothing,” said Mort Sahl), as European women, of course, had been bathing topless for decades.
Additionally banking on the expansive of bare flesh that seemed to be one of the defining factors of the decade – and perhaps spawned by the publicity around Gernreich’s suit -- the famous fashion designer Kenneth (and you know they have to be famous if they only have one name) announced in ’69 a whole line of makeup products for the bare bosom. With such descriptions as “tip blush,” and “cleavage delineator” you can imagine how fast these products flew off the shelves – and into the private collections of transvestites.
As part of the ‘more’ school of design, there were many experiments in gender experimentation in the 60s – including the failed attempt to try and raise interest in skirts for men. As reported in Paul Kirchner’s wonderful book, Forgotten Fads and Fabulous Flops, Seventeen magazine put boys in kilts in a spread, and even Time was hooked by this supposed next fad with a report that the garment industry had big plans to import the concept of the male skirt. Alas, no amount of publicity and wishful thinking in the mind of fashion designers could change the mind of the American male.
One of the best examples of fashion insanity owes a lot to the gender play experimentation of the ‘60s -- as a radical reaction against it. Eldridge Cleaver is known for many things: Black Panther Minister of Information; author of Soul on Ice; misogynist; jailed in connection with a shoot-out with the Oakland Police, ex-patriot living in Cuba, Algeria, and Paris; and -- ready for this? -- failed fashion designer.
Eldridge had this problem, you see, with the current state of men’s fashion. He felt that men should be able to enjoy all the stylish and comfortable pants being offered for women. Why should they get all the fun?
But Eldridge couldn’t just wear the new women’s slacks -- after all, there was this little problem he had about sexual identity (and he had a lot of issues with sexuality, just read Soul on Ice). So what to do about this garment dilemma? His answer was to create a whole new line of clothing, slacks with all the style and comfort of women’s pants without sacrificing his pathologically all-important machismo: Cleavers, the pants with an “appurtenance.”
Cleaver probably threw a lot of bombs during his Black Panther revolutionary days, but nothing compared to his Cleavers. While the pants component received some praise, it was that all-important “extra” feature that most people had issues with. After all, it was one thing to go through the supposed embarrassment of wearing ‘women’s’ pants, but quite another to wear them equipped with a very present, rather exaggerated 20th century version of a external jockstrap.
Luckily Cleaver’s vanished even quicker than cleavage makeup and the topless bathing suit, joining the ranks of Nehru jackets and bell-bottoms -- exiled to the deep, dark corners of fashion history. If we are lucky, their mistakes will never surface again -- but looking at the general history of garment insanity it’s more than like just a matter of time.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Thursday, June 03, 2010
Crumbling plaster, broken and splintered lath, cracked cement, fractured concrete, gap-toothed brick walls, rusting iron, daggers of shattered glass … no argument about it: there's something hypnotically alluring, darkly fascinating, about a truly great ruin.
What's now decay and rot once was bright and brilliantly full of hope: Who lived here? What were their lives like? What happened? How did it all come apart? How did it all crumble to almost nothing?
In the case of Hashima Island, or Battleship Island as it's often called, hope and optimism became dust and decay because one black resource was replaced by a cheaper black resource. Populated first in 1887, the island – which is 15 kilometers from Nagasaki – only began to really, and phenomenally, become populated much later, in 1959.
Hashima is, for many ruin fans, the rotting and collapsing grail, the benchmark all other crumbling structures are measured against – and seeing pictures of the place it's easy to see why. Not only is Hashima frighteningly preserved in some places, as if the residents had just stepped out as few minutes before, but it is also, contrarily, spectacularly falling down. Beyond its current awe-inspiring state of decay, the island's dramatic isolation and its bizarre history make it the ruin of ruins.
Before that day when coal, the old black resource, was replaced by oil, another black resource, Hashima was the most densely populated area – ever. On that tiny island, crammed into what are now decaying tenements, were thousands of miners, their families (including children), support staff, administration, and everything necessary to make their lives at least tolerable. It's hard to imagine when looking at the empty doorways, ghostly apartments, and hauntingly vacant corridors what the lives of those people might have been like.
Unlike the post-apocalyptic drama of Hashima, we can very easily imagine what the lives of the residents of the famous Walled City of Kowloon were like – in fact we can ask them, as their city was torn down in 1993. The reason why the Walled City gets so frequently mentioned as a ruin is, while it was there, it was as if the people who lived in it were living their lives in the guts of some great, monstrous, maze.
To say that the city had a long history is an understatement, as its roots go back to the Song Dynasty (960 AD, if you need to know the date). The city was a curiosity for a very long time – a strange bit of legal knotting making it Chinese and not British -- but the labyrinth didn't start to grow appreciably until after the second world war when it became a haven for … well, people without a state: refugees, squatters, thieves, drug-dealers, and much more (and much worse). Neither Great Britain nor China refused to have anything to do with the immense warren of walkways, apartments, workshops, factories, brothels, gambling dens, and opium dens.
The Triad, who represented most of the criminal element, were pretty much forced out in the 70s – by a police attack some 30,000 strong, no less -- but the city remained as a kind of anarchist warren, a world-unto-itself where the residents built and maintained pretty much everything. Looking at pictures of the city today, it looks like some kind of ramshackle prison, a cyberpunk nightmare of florescent lights, spectrally flickering televisions, and mazes of perpetually damp hallways and trash-strewn alleyways. Yet, for many people living there, it was simply home.
Alas, the end of the living ruin that was the Walled City came to an end in the 90s when the residents were evacuated and their fantastic city-within-a-city was torn down. Interestingly, the Walled City has a strong connection to Hashima as, at its height, the Walled City had a population density almost rivaling that Japanese island. Before the bulldozers came, it had a staggering population of 50,000 people, all living in an area the size of a few city blocks.
But if you're talking ruins you have to talk about the ruin FROM THE FUTURE .. or at least a ruin that looks like it came from there.
If you travel to Taiwan, up north to be specific, you will find yourself in a what looks like the fantastic set from some kind of big-budget science fiction epic: the resort of San Zhi. Built in the 1980s, the resort was supposed to be, planned to be, a vacation spot from the next century .. BUT TODAY!
Unfortunately, the dreams of the developers stayed just that and, beyond a few remarkably-well-preserved, sections, San Zhi never materialized. But what they did build, and that's still there in all it's ruinous glory, is amazing: crumbling residential pods on a bleak and blasted landscape, a mini-sprawl of the future falling apart BUT TODAY!
Decaying, rotting, crumbling, collapsing – ruins are the remains of what was, of the lives of the people who lived in them. In the case of Hashima Island, what remains teases us with thoughts of what it must have been like to live in the most densely populated area in the world, ever; with the Walled City of Kowloon, we instead dream of what it must have been like to a resident of a labyrinthine living, breathing ruin; and then there is the painful folly of San Zhi – a ruin not from the past but strangely, wonderfully, from a tomorrow that might have been.