You know that saying about finding the silver lining in bad situations? Well, my silver lining (more like silver garter belt and stockings) during the pandemic was Listen to Your Skin, a mostly online erotic reading series created and birthed by Stina “sister rainbow scream” French, with the help of Folauhola Emelio “co-host” Vakauta.
The seed for LTYS was planted after an exceptionally fruitful erotic workshop lead by Stina. After all that fun, no one was ready for it to be over—the opportunity for a new experience, a new community, a new love made itself apparent. Thus, Listen to Your Skin was born on the last Sunday of January 2021, a time when dying seemed more like the thing to do.
Ever since then, the last Sunday of every month but December has become another reason to live. Because Listen to Your Skin is one of those good things in life you keep on truckin’ for. I can sense your doubt that a reading held in a Zoom room could be all that, but I assure you it really is. It’s not the same disembodied experience it can sometimes be with other events hosted on Zoom. You feel connected to the folks there, can feel and hear their presence through the unmuted cheers and comments/quoted lines in the well-used chat. Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like you’re in different rooms or houses or states or even countries.
This is achieved several ways. Due to the subject matter, it’s a room you show up vulnerable to, one where you’re met with tunes to set the mood, one or more of the small bodies on screen grooving along, some eating, others reading over their piece. Regulars know and virgins learn quickly that when you hear Prince say, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today” from “Let’s Go Crazy”—the song Stina chose for her sex church—it is time for us to gather, it’s time for us to breathe. One of my favorite things about LTYS is that it always begins with us breathing together as a group, some on mute, some not. Those deep belly yoga breaths synchronizing connects us and serves to calm the nerves. Lately that’s been followed by another favorite thing about LTYS, a quick writing exercise. Those three things, the Prince, the breath, the writing are all a part of another one of my favorite things about LTYS – the ritual.
If you’re getting a little nervous with all this erotic, ritual talk, it’s okay. There are usually content warnings so you can dip out if you need to care for yourself. If you choose to read it can be as steamy or tame as you like. I’ve heard pieces about a mother’s relationship with her children during lockdown (not sexy), aliens getting it on, a person covered in multiple strap-ons getting it on, a woman getting off by wrapping her labia over a beating heart after open chest surgery (surprisingly sexy). I’ve heard someone read about discovering and understanding their gender and wants though writing smut. It’s truly a room for all sexes, genders, races, abilities, and faces to explore human sexuality and interpersonal relationships. The only folks who probably wouldn’t be comfortable are bigots, though if they’d stay a while maybe they’d change their minds on some things.
If live is more your jive, you can get your kicks in April, when Listen to Your Skin will be held in person (location tbd) with improv jazz backing the best of Denver’s local talent. If you’re interested in books you can look out for a Listen to Your Skin Anthology published by Q Publishing, an arm of OUT FRONT Magazine. If this write-up has tickled your interest a little bit, you can watch past features (including Gayle Danley, D.L. Cordero, Jessica Lawson, Aurora’s poet laureate Ahja Fox, etc.) on LTYS’s Facebook page. And if you’re tickled pink and ready to get real dirty and real deep with us, you can hop on over to the sister rainbow scream website to peep the rules (because all good sex respects boundaries), to register, and check out more information/other opportunities.
The next event is on August 28th at 5:00 Denver time. The theme is Manifest (you never have to read on theme, but it’s fun to see all the different approaches), and the featured readers are James Coats and Confidence Omenai. If it’s too short notice for August, you can join us September 25th for featured readers Lisbeth Coiman and Ellen Webre and one of the best open mics around. Can’t wait to see you there!
For more on the event you can also check out this excellent write up/interview from Westword.
Krystal Summers is a fiction writer and nanny (it’s been said that she’s more magical than Mary Poppins) from Colorado. When she isn’t taking children through chalk paintings, she’s outside somewhere with her dog, relaxing at her home in Denver with her husband, or starting more stories than she finishes.