Walking to Inspiration!

Holmdel Park, New Jersey

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Today, I’m gonna share on where I get my ideas. I’ve written hundreds of gender swap short stories, novels, novellas and now scripts over the years. While they share a common element– someone gets gender swapped– they also are all different and unique in their own ways. Mostly, that does not result from a kind of logical process, but from an imaginative experience.

One of the greatest idea generating activities in my life involves walking. Aside from getting story ideas, I just like to walk. It’s healthy, and for me it’s a form of meditation. When I walk regularly, I just feel better physically, mentally and spiritually.

And, I get ideas. In the case of my current novel, Carrolwood, for example, the voice of the narrator came to me as I walked around my neighborhood after dinner one sweaty summer night. I sort of met this character, and I thought the voice was funny, and I began to think about what kind of story I could tell with that voice. The characters and setting all then just kind of emerged from my subconscious.

Another time I was walking around the beach down at Asbury Park, NJ, where the evil, 19th century clown Tillie still serves as town mascot, and I just started to think about what if Tillie were an evil spirit haunting the town? As I walked around, I took pictures of different locations, and the story ended up being built around that walk.

In addition to getting ideas for stories, I sometimes walk to inspiration while in the middle of a story. Sometimes when I am writing I get in a jam and can’t figure out what the character would or should do, I take a long walk, and the answer a lot of times just comes to me. Sometimes I see the scene in my head, and at those times I am very much inclined to believe in the idea of a muse that is feeding me ideas. It really does feel to me sometimes like I am seeing the story happen and just writing it down rather than “coming up with it.”

There are other ways ideas come to me. Sometimes I create a cover and then write a story to match. I have been inspired sometimes by other authors. For example, I once decided to write a TG story in the style of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Likewise, Forever Mine started out as “forced femme version of YOU (the book and Netflix series). There must be others I can’t think of right now– Oh, yeah– It Girl! What? Just started out as “TG Anime.”

But, I would say, without walking, I think I would write a lot less. There’s just something about walking along a shady, tree-lined path that allows my mind to open itself up and accept the gifts of inspiration!

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Gender Fluid Film New to Amazon

The 7 Best Korean Movies on Netflix to Level Up Your Korean ...
In foreground, Woo-jin is one of his female shapes.

Every morning when Woo-Jin wakes up, he finds he has transformed into a completely different person– he may wake up as any gender, age or ethnicity. When the film The Beauty Inside begins, we find him at a place in his life where he has fallen into a routine, working for himself, living largely in isolation and just making the best of his situation.

Of course, that would not be much of a movie, so he soon falls in love with the beautiful Yi-soo, and begins to pursue her though she, at first, has no idea the various people who come into her store are all the same admirer. Finally, he asks her out to dinner, and as the two fall in love he is forced to risk telling her the truth about who he is and how he changes all the time into new people.

Without going any more into the plot, let me say this is a first rate Korean Romance. It’s billed as a rom-com, but it really lives much more in the world of drama, with beautiful cinematography, poetic scenes and heart-wrenching emotions as the two struggle to make their impossible relationship work.

Ueno Juri Chooses 'Beauty Inside' As Her First Korean Movie
Another of Woo-Jin’s female incarnations

The main character spends a fair amount of time as a female, and some of the most poignant and heart felt scenes occur when he is female and opening up to Yi-soo. For fans of TG elements, there are a few sweet moments: getting hit on by his male friend, shopping for his first bra and being so nervous and self-conscious he ends up running from the store, having a “mother daughter” tea with his Mom. One little detail I enjoyed was that as a female, he is often shorter than his girlfriend, and it seems like he is the femme in their relationship at some times.

It’s a good watch. Here’s a link:

The Beauty Inside

The Beauty: Gender Bender Fiction (spoilers).

The Beauty by [Aliya Whiteley]

Aliyah Whiteley’s The Beauty merges Invasion of the Mushroom People, literary fiction flourishes and Old-school Fictionmania for a gender bender experience best described as different. Based in a post-apocalyptic world in which all women have been wiped out my a mysterious plague, when the book starts off we are introduced to a small village composed entirely of men living in a world that has regressed technologically to a more primitive, hunter-gatherer state.

Since it is literary fiction, there must be some shimmering shrine to “the power of narrative” and so these men spend their nights gathered around a campfire as their village story teller regales them with what have become their tribal legends. Outside the town lie the graves of the last women from their group.

Enter the mushroom women. Mysteriously, mushroom creatures begin to emerge from the graves of the vanished women. They can’t speak, but they have female shapes and a kind of psychic empathy. Soon, the men began to couple with the mysterious creatures, who also take over all the manual labor in the village. The men grow weak, their arms smaller, and soon enough one of them discovers that he is pregnant.

This creates some anxiety among the men, and the story flows from there. The book certainly explores the idea of gender, and it is a different approach, the whole thing written in that literary mode meant to suggest the relating of an ancient myth. Check it out.

The Beauty

U and Me on Amazon

Two teen-agers, a jock and a nerd, switch bodies. So goes the plot summary of U and Me on Amazon Prime. This 1987 gender swap comedy from Asia is particularly interested in gender roles and expectations, and we see both characters suffocating under the expectations of their new genders.

The female in this story has been raised to polite and meek. Once trapped in a male body, the other guys see her as a sissy, and she is subjected to relentless bullying. We also see her suffering extreme discomfort as she finds herself engaging in innapropriate behavior — entering the boys’ bathroom and shower, going to the beach where she is expected to take her shirt off (she doesn’t).

The guy meanwhile finds himself being subjected to the pressures to be a proper young lady. He is urged to watch his language, to be polite. His new mother makes him come shopping with her, telling him he needs to learn how to shop because he is a woman. In the movie’s best scene, he makes a speech in front of the school on how unfair life is for girls, where they are forced to always be polite and lady-like while boys can do “whatever they want.”

It’s a fun and interesting film that also has some of the usual beats– they guy realizing he has boobs he can play with, having his first period. For a time, he settles into his life as a girl, but both of the characters eventually come to feel they can’t live as the opposite sex. It’s well worth the watch. Check it out!

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Watch the Film

Black Mirror (spoilers)

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Pom Klementieff, who plays Karl’s female avatar.

Does role-playing change us, or simply reveal us?

In the recently released episode Striking Vipers, Black Mirror finally plunges into the murky world of online gender cross playing– and I do mean finally! In this episode, two college buddies enjoy playing a video fighting game much like Mortal Combat. They each have a favorite character. Danny always plays Lance, while his friend, Karl, prefers to play a female character named Roxette. Neither finds this problematic.

Until a fully immersive version of the game becomes available. In this new version, the players find themselves inhabiting the bodies of the characters they play– and even experience the physical sensations. Jumping into the game, Danny once more plays Lance, and Karl, Roxette. Karl jokes about what its like to have boobs, and the two start fighting. Soon, the sexual tension simmering beneath their play- fighting turns to making out, and eventually hot, steamy sex.

The show explores how this impacts them and their relationships, both with each other and their wives/lovers. They question whether they are really cheating, wonder if they are gay. Danny, in particular, struggles, as he is a married man with kids. His suburban life bores him. Is he living a lie?

Each man discovers he is more fluid than he imagined, but that their sexual attraction exists only online– at least the physical side. Karl rhapsodizes about how much he enjoys the female orgasm, but he can’t get that in real life. Meanwhile, it is interesting to me that Danny’s wife is named Theo, drawing the gender fluidity out further. I don’t want to give away the specific ending, but once the men have opened up Pandora’s Box, let’s just say there in no going back. I feel what the show suggests it is not so much that the online gender bending changes them, but simply allows them to express a part of themselves that was always repressed.

Most people, in my opinion, are many genders, but society works very hard to make us comform to a specific notion of biological gender. This episode there is a little girl and guy in everyone just waiting for a chance to get out.

Check it out on Netflix!

AFK Series (spoilers!)

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Short Review

Love it! Go watch it right now! https://www.afkwebseries.com/home

Longer Review

AFK starts with the premise that a bunch of people who play an online role-playing game find themselves trapped in the game as their avatars. This, happily, leads to a lot of fun gender exploration that goes a little beyond the things we’ve seen before (TWSB).

In the world of the familiar, we do have a womanizing bro who finds himself trapped as a petite Asian “warrior princess” initially wearing a chain mail bikini. The actress who plays “him” does a great job depicting a guy in a naturalistic way, and the character is well-written– hiding his former gender out of shame, struggling to deal with male attention and sexual assault.

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In addition, we have the less common female trapped as a male– and though she is not explored as fully, there are some very fun scenes dealing with her discomfort over having male anatomy.

Most interesting of all, though, is a character who refuses to reveal their real world biological gender, telling anyone who asks “none of your business.” This character does the most to challenge gender steretypes because it is very hard to guess what her identity is– in the game she is biologically female, but her attitude and mannerisms could belong to either a man of a woman– which is true in real life of many people. So, I find her the most fascinating.

Image result for afk series

The show is on a budget, but the love and care of the whole crew is evident in the work. In addition, if you have ever played a MORPG, the show is full of really fun little jokes about the gamer life and the culture inside these games. The identity explorations even getting into people discovering there are multiple versions of themselves inside the game (in the form of their other accounts.)

You can watch all episodes online! https://www.afkwebseries.com/home

New Body Theft Movie: The Lifechanger

Lifechanger

Lifechanger on Amazon

Drew survives by stealing other people’s bodies.  He absorbs their essence, leaving them as lifeless husks, while he comes to not only look like them, but to absorb their memories and experiences.

The writer/director Justin McConnell does not lack ambition, producing a script and a movie that explores what such a life would do to a person, and how they would need to function to survive.  I applaud the effort, especially the shots the creator takes to use the premise to examine the human condition, culminating in a poetic monologue by the main character at the end of the film, about which I will say nothing so as to avoid spoilers.

Now, as for the gender bender elements, which I will confess largely fuels my interest in these types of films, there isn’t much to savor.  Mostly this results from the fact that the we enter this character’s story after he has been jumping from body to body for decades; he’s been women many times, so when he jumps into female bodies it’s just old hat for him.  Had this been a first, some scenes might have popped more for me as a viewer who loves seeing gender roles reversed; for example, he gets hit on by a guy at a bar, but it isn’t the first time for him, so the usual fun of seeing a guy have to deal with being treated like a girl is blunted.  The scenes reads like any girl getting hit on by any random guy.

As per my comments above, just as a movie looking to say somethings about life, it’s watchable with excellent performances from the cast and professional if workmanlike camera work and production.  It’s getting some buzz on the sci/fi circuit, and has found an audience, so worth checking out, but if you are seeking a deeper look at the gender issues you will probably leave feeling unsatisfied. If you just want to experience an interesting and thought provoking film, it’s an absolute yes.

Lifechanger on Amazon

Link to Interview with Director

Thanks for reading, and look for a preview of Your Memory Mine 2 as well as a giveaway later this week! Rock on, people!

The Wild Boys: DVD Now Available!

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Buy the North American Blue Ray HERE!

Though I feel few share my fascination and admiration of The Wild Boys, I nevertheless decided to post up my review of the DVD, in which I will discuss in greater depth why I love this movie, as well as the Bonus Features.

To start with my love of the movie, let me express my admiration for the film making itself, which comes from what some, including the director, call the “Incoherents” movement.  Simply, this means the director does not concern himself with creating a false sense of unity and realism such as a viewer would find a mainstream Hollywood film.

So,  in TWB, sometimes the movie looks like an old-fashioned sea adventure, sometimes like a period drama, sometimes like dream.  In fact, to my mind, the result creates for the reader an experience much like a dream– with the  use of compression and symbolism, for example, inviting a series of sub-conscious reactions.   All of this works very well with the material, which explores mutability, metamorphosis, boys turning into girls, men into women.

As with the camera, the director does not ask the actors to play everything in a naturalistic way, which in any case he rejects as just another technique.  Sometimes the actors do seem to deliver their lines “California Style” but often, working with the camera, lines are infused with gravity, characters look off in dramatic ways or turn their heads for effect.  Within that context, the actors in this film, and particularly the young women who play the boys, I find all of their performances compelling.  The young women embody young masculinity, with the mannerisms and voices feeling right– not caricature  or camp, but like boys.  Similarly, they commit totally to surreal scenes, such as when a bout of boyish rough housing beneath falling feathers turns erotic just as they stand on the cusp of their new, female bodies.

So, innovative directing that matches the themes and subject matter, plus epic performances, and that’s a great film.  But, of course, I have a particular affinity for work that explores gender, and this one does it in ways that most such movies never have the nerve to explore.

Some of favorite moments resonate either because they blow past previous limitations, or else they celebrate what seem to me “classic” TG moments.  For example, there is a scene where one of the boys, still identifying totally as a boy, is startled and screams in a “feminine” manner, then discovers he now sounds like a girl when he talks.  The “voice change” had always been one of my favorite tropes, and so it was very fun to see this played out, with the boy clutching his throat, clearly embarrassed, and the others, not realizing they will share his fate, mocking him and calling him “girly.”

Another trope I enjoy the movie explores is that they boys develop breasts before they become biologically female, so we see a couple of them struggling with the shame of having breasts, the insecurity and ways it challenges their sense of identity.

Finally, the role-reversal and feminizing– or at least the forcing of the boys into feminine roles and situations, begins long before their physical change.  The Captain sexually harasses one of them at one point, while they also are forced to walk through a field full of “groping” plants.  And, of course, there is the phallic tree and its white juice they must drink to survive, as well as a suggestive fruit they are forced to eat.  So, while some may struggle waiting for the physical changes to occur, there is plenty to see in terms of gender before they even get to the biological morphing.  After the morphing, this film gets much more naked than most, so the reality of the new bodies is right there on the screen.

For viewers interested in seeing how characters adjust to their change, this film does not offer a lot.  After initially shocked and embarrassed reactions, including some morning for their lost phalluses, the characters seem to accept their new genders readily.  In addition, they seem largely unchanged, simply becomes female versions of themselves, with the same attitudes and values as before, something which I find interesting, but might not satisfy all viewers.

Bonus Features

Not much.  Of the deleted scenes, I did find two very worthwhile:  First, as he has first turned fully into a female, one of the boys is crying, staring at himself in the mirror.  A character known as The Doctor walks over and pulls his shirt open, so he now must confront the sight of his breasts.   In the second, a group of sailors comes to the island, and we see the boys– now all female–  moving in feminine, erotic poses, luring the men to their doom like sirens.

The others were well deleted.  In addition, the Behind the Scenes, while interesting, was a disappointment– and probably meant to be.  I must confess that here I had hoped for something more conventional, especially interviews with the actors about what it was like to play boys, for example, how they prepared, the voices…etc…  But it is a surreal short film shot on Super 8 with the actor murmuring poetically.  It works as a short film and ads some to the experience of the film– there is a scene of the actors, all in their boy forms, having fun with fake phalluses– but it doesn’t reveal as much as I had hoped.

 

Buy the DVD!

 

Wild Boys Now Available to Stream

The Wild Boys [Blu-ray]

Sadistic and cruel, the Wild Boys live only for art and pleasure.  Constantly in trouble for rebellious acts of defiance and disrespect, they finally take it too far when they commit a particularly heinous crime against a woman.  Enter The Captain, a cruel and lumbering Dutchmen known to be able to turn wild young men into docile persons.

As it turns out, The Captain’s method involves a great deal of abuse as well as exposing the boys to the juices of a mysterious, phallic fruit which ultimately transforms them into women.  The movie takes awhile to get to the actual transformation, which begin with the boys experiencing haunting, erotic dreams, progresses to them becoming infatuated with each other and then rapidly moves through their voices changing to girl’s voices, the blossoming of breasts and then ultimately the loss of their manhood.  There is nudity.

It’s a surreal, arty French film with a lot of Freudian imagery, but moves along well and uses the dream-like qualities of the production to great advantage. The boys are all played by young women, who are extremely good at portraying young men, and then equally fascinating in their female forms. The performances stand out as each is a skilled and professional actor, and the direction and cinematography are first rate as well.

There is a little strain of Femdom in the film as well, as the mysterious Severin, who runs the islands, explains that she has a plan to feminize the world as she feels it will be a more peaceful and harmonious place– a theory which the movie seems to refute.

It’s a worthy watch and one I will look over again.  My only regret is we never get to see them back in civilization living as women, but then again, maybe there will be a sequel?

You can find all the links on Amazon to stream or buy!

Stream IT! (NOW!)

Buy IT! (You Can Pre-Order.  Available 12/11)

The Wild Boys– Right out of Fictionmania!

(The director with the “Wild Boys” at premiere.)

A group of arrogant boys commits a terrible crime.  As punishment, they are sent to a mysterious island where they are transformed into girls.  It may sound like the plot of an old school TG story, but it is actually the plot of a new TG film from director Bertrand Mandico.

See Trailer

One of the excellent decisions the director made was to cast female actors to play the boys before, during and after transition.  The reviews I read have lauded these performers, and based on the trailer they did very well.  The film has the look and feel of a fever dream, the images taken directly from the seething cauldron of the unconscious.  There are screening dates set across the US for this summer and fall, and you can find them as well as links to buy tickets HERE

For non-US or if you live too far away from those locations, it is going to be streaming on a service called Mubi, and, of course, you can check European and French distributers for details.

I will report back when I have seen the film!