Yesterday, I wrote an email to erotic film director Erika Lust, expressing my interest in writing for her Lustzine. Ms. Lust is the second “big name” in ethical porn I’ve reached out to since I’ve decided to seek work in a role that helps me contribute to sex-positive professionals. Last weekend, I reached out to Paulita Pappel, of Lustery.
cold emails, reaching out
In both cases, writing to Ms. Pappel and writing to Ms. Lust was absolutely intimidating! 1) Because they were, for the most part, cold emails.
(It is true that I’ve communicated somewhat with Ms. Pappel on social media—she generously answers my questions. The first question I ever asked her was about the ethics of desire.
More recently, Ms. Pappel (brought to my attention some political issues.
For example, she posted on Twitter about the “Stop Inrternet Exploitation Act” co-sponsored by Republican Ban Sasse (R-Neb) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore) [ as of January 3rd, this bill was considered dead as a new congress convenes].
Some of the noteworthy pieces of the bill include the proposed requirement that anyone uploading porn of themselves has to “upload a signed consent form from each individual appearing in the pornographic image that includes— the name and electronic signature of the individual ; a statement of consent for distribution” and…here’s one of the most perplexing bits: an uploader must verify that they are “not less than the minimum age required to consent to sexual acts under the law of the State in which the user resides”—what’s perplexing, as critics of this bill have noted, is that previously codified legislation- 18 U.S. Code § 2256 – makes it very clear that a state’s age of consent does not apply to pornography. A minor is defined federally. (The government also explains this in the Citizen’s Guide to U.S. Federal Law on Child Pornography)]
My point is that Ms. Pappel is a very generous person, rich with information to share, so why did I feel so intimidated when asking for her advice?
Part of it has to do with the fact that on a few occasions I sent her messages online when I was very drunk, and I gushed, so to speak, ranting and raving about my infatuation with her, essentially, which I really regret as it was disrespectful, and that haunts me a bit still, and mortifies me.
Discovering Lustery and the work of Ms. Pappel came at a curious time in my life, when I was first acknowledging my true thoughts and feelings on sexuality after a decade more or less, of suppressing them. Thus, the balloon of my repression popped in my DMs to her, so to speak. Additionally, to the best of my memory, I had never encountered a woman who spoke so intellectually about porn, and of the exhibitionistic/voyeuristic type, and with such classy passion. A sort of serious awe came over me.
(AWE: My awe can sometimes seriously get the best of me. And I want to make clear here that it is the sapio part of myself that gets turned on and activated, so to speak. Another example: the author of the book Word Slut, Amanda Montell. I mean, I’m utterly in love with her writing and her intellect! To illustrate this somewhat…imagine seeing someone who is really hot—to you—and in that really sort of classic movie sense, where you go ga-ga with a sort of infatuated style of lust that consumes your mind and makes you feel very passionate with admiration and curiosity… eloquent intellectualism has this effect on me pretty often. It was at first “the little things” in her rhetoric that I found so aesthetically pleasing.
First of all, I could relate as I am very verbose, which perhaps jars some people.
Secondly though…her choice to use the word. “gal.” Simple as it may seem on the surface, the word “gal” doesn’t get used that widely. “Women,” “Girls,” “females,” “ladies.” I like “lass.” During my time with the College Voice, my advisor/editor chastised me for using the word “lad” when referencing a “guy” or “fellow” or…as the creative Ms. Montell says, often, “dude.”
She’s “pretty.” No, she’s “hot.” No, “she’s beautiful.” Speaking of beauty, Alex Band, from The Calling is a masculine sort of beautiful.
“I’ve got the chills,
and this power
I think of Ms. Montell’s style as unpretentious and classy and charming—using novel words but not necessarily words you have to look up…just words you don’t necessarily encounter as the typical. You have to understand, as a writing tutor, as a MFA student in Creative and Professional Writing, as a diction crazy poet (when I get into poetry), and if you factor in my sapiosexuality, the fact is, I think Amanda Montell is hot!
Oh, but what do I do? I mess up my interactions with her just like I messed up with Paulita Pappel. I think she’s so intellectually hot, and when I read her, I feel these bursts of excitement and especially if I’ve had more to drink than I should have, whatever it is I’m thinking in reaction to reading her, I would pause, and just type it to her in a DM, with excessive enthusiasm and verbosity.
WORSE OF ALL, you may recall, in an earlier blog, I actually cited Ms. Amanda Montell on beauty and how to compliment a woman. She was emphatic that she didn’t like being called “pretty.” Ah, but what did I do? I sent her a DM saying she’s pretty.
Sometimes her pictures give me chills.
[Some peoples’ pictures just do. It isn’t really or always sexual. For example: Alex Band, from The Calling. I don’t feel any sort of sexual sensation or romantic sensation—I’m just not attracted to fellas—but I would be lying if I didn’t say he has an aura about him that is chilling. Maybe it’s just an intuitive reception of his self-esteem, that like an empath, I somehow detect? How I FEEL when I look at a picture of Ms. Amanda Montell? Like, beyond the chill?
Perhaps I just think she’s very beautiful. I’ve been so focused of late on more purely lust-infused attractions that I feel, that I rarely tap into thoughts on elaborate, more philosophical types of beauty where something about a person’s intentionality, choice of clothes, fascial expression, hair, seems so thoughtfully presented! And yeah, back to Alex Band. In a more non-sexual and more theoretical sense, he has a handsomeness about him. A well-kempt-ness, so to speak….])
Wanting to be liked by those we like
Back to intimidation: I think it’s also the case that when I think highly of someone, the sense of disappointment, should that person not take much interest in me… I really give it too much power! Most of my experience in Academia was like that. I have fawned over a few professors who I think are geniuses and I send them highly complimentary emails and, perhaps a mix of them being so busy, and my awareness that my enthusiasm is perhaps overboard….and then I don’t hear from them. So many professors have not taken much interest that I’ve let it depress me at times.
So, I think highly of Paulita Pappel, Amanda Montell, Professors X, Y, Z, I get anxious, the anxiety dizzies my mind, I say stupid things, and usually had to drink a little to even work up the confidence to reach out at all!
Writing to Erika Lust then, felt like a crazy load of pressure, because, in making my pitch to her to take this blog onto her Lustzine, I didn’t want to say anything…. “wrong” or… out of touch with how such an email ought to be sent.
Also, I am a little insecure about a comment I made on an Instagram post of hers.
I found this gal’s attire to be so utterly HOT that I was curious about the story behind them so I asked where one would find such apparel? But what if there was a tone in that question that came across as…what if it came across as my being sort of thoughtlessly expressing my horniness? And that, off-putting to Ms. Lust?
It all comes back to this fact that 1) I’m overly invested in what others think of me, especially when I think highly of them; 2) I have self-esteem issues and thus struggle to believe…you know “someone like” those brilliant women would… you know…would see some sort of real value in talking to me, knowing me, my writing, et cetera. AND then I make the mistake of a) dehumanizing them in a way, idealizing, so to speak; b) implicitly assume they’re pretentious and that I suck but deserve the pretentiousness.
Pitching. It’s alright, whether we hit the home run or strike out. 🙂
By sending my pitch to Erika Lust, at least I mustered the confidence to do so, even if it turns out that I currently suck at writing pitches and that this blog thus far is not a good match for Lustzine. Makes me think of Models: Attract Women Through Honesty by Mark Manson. He wrote a section on “creepiness” ; he wrote: “There’s no such thing as a man who is adored by women who isn’t creepy some of the time” (page 169; italics his). Put in a broader context, he said,
“Simply accept that sometimes, miscommunications happen, awkward situations occur, and things get misconstrued. Such is life. As long as you’re respectful in how you express yourself, there should never be a serious problem.
“There’s no other way.”Ibid.
Rejection and being off putting to at least someone is inevitable. No matter how brilliant or liked you are, say, as a politician, there’s always someone to rip you apart with criticism. Clearly, what’s more important, is knowing why you are saying to someone what you are saying to them, and don’t say it if you don’t think it’s justified, and don’t take it personally if you believe in yourself for good reason.
Does that do away with the nerves?
No. But it helps a little to “believe in” what you are saying to someone. I certainly do not regret praising Amanda Montell or Paulita Pappel, and letting them know how much I admire them. I regret that I was drunk when I did it, and that I didn’t do more to address the nervousness and self-esteem issues. And I don’t regret emailing Erika Lust. I’m glad she will have a clearer idea of admiration and of why I’d love to write for her Lustzine blog.