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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A survey of sexual fantasies

One third of all men and women surveyed by Justin Lehmiller for his book, Tell Me What You Want, reported fantasizing about trading bodies with a member of the opposite sex. I found the number surprisingly high. I had often imagined the number much lower. And yet, thinking about how many mainstream movies and television shows and books and comic books have explored the body swapping theme, I suppose I should have imagined it much higher.

Tragically, there wasn’t any more depth to this question, and it left me wondering– did they fantasize about trading bodies with specific people– a lover, a crush? A celebrity? Or was it more abstract?

Though I would have liked more depth, I still found the number interesting. It also made me wonder how many people may have still been too embarrassed to admit to this fantasy.

Some other numbers: 25% of all men and women reported fantasizing about cross-dressing. 59% of women and 26% of men who identified as “heterosexual” fantasized about having sex with a member of the same sex. Both men and women fantasized about changing their own gender role, or the gender role of their partner. Men reported fantasies of being feminized, and women reported fantasies of feminizing their male partners and taking the dominant role.

No women reported fantasizing about being masculinized by a partner, but this makes perfect sense to me in that the masculine fantasies they have involve them seizing power and demanding dominance, so it is something they take and do not wait to be given.

As an author and a human being fascinated with gender fluidity, I read the book primarily out of curiosity as well as looking for potential inspiration. I didn’t love the author’s speculation on why people have these fantasies– he suggest that they mostly rise out of insecurity, which may in some cases be true, but I think often people’s personalities are simply more diverse and multi-faceted than the binary constructs of gender allow, and we simply have a multiplicity of needs and interests. Sometimes people need to be dominant; sometimes they long for the pleasure of surrender. Sometimes people who are deeply in love not only long to be near the person they love, but to be the person they love.

Just some musings. I thought my readers might find the numbers interesting, as I did. If you would like to read the book, you can find it on Amazon.

Check out Lehmiller’s website

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.

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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

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!

 

New Body Swap on Netflix!

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Transfers

French creators continue to produce some great TG media, with the new 6 episode science fiction series Transfers joining the instant classic, The Wild Boys as excellent examples of what can happen in this medium.

In Transfers, we find ourselves in a familiar but futuristic France where the ability to transfer people’s essence from one body to another has been invented and promptly banned.  However, as is usually the case, the banning on transfers does not end the practice but merely drives it into the black market.

The series centers around a fairly ordinary wood worker who finds himself illegally transferred (without his permission) into the body of a cop who specializes in hunting down illegal transfers.  He feels compelled to pretend to be the cop in order to avoid being caught as an illegal transfer, and so that he can be together with his wife and children once more.

So as for body swaps, the whole series centers around a swapped person and gets into all kinds of interesting questions about identity, morality and politics.  How much of behavior is genetic?  How much personality?  Is it possible to be “you” in a new body, or do you become that person?

Now, as you all know, I am all about the gender swaps, and this show has a major gender swap in the form of a ruthless middle-aged crime lord who ends up swapped into the body of an elementary school girl.  In his case, while he remains a ruthless crime lord with a taste for cigars and whisky even as a little girl, he also seems to begin to be adapted by his body.  It’s just little moments, but we see him fussing with his hair, putting it into a pony tail, or having one of his henchman braid it for him.  He also gets girly at times, sometimes mockingly, and sometimes seemingly because his new body demands it.  So, while it isn’t a big part of the show, we do get to see some TG moments that also seem to explore the notion of how much of a person is their “mind” and how much their body.  The young actress does an impressive job embodying the “man inside” and I would say should have gotten an award for her efforts!

Aside even from the body swapping elements, the show is very watchable.  It’s a thriller, a cop show, with a plot that moves and is full of twists and turns, surprises and revelations.  The cast is first rate, working from excellent scripts, and the show looks great, with first rate cinematography and lighting.

My only complaint?  Only 6 episodes!  However, the creators have stated they want to do more seasons, and if the show does well, the season ends with several interesting little cliffhangers for a future season to build on!

Check it out!

Link for NetFlix users in the USA.

I am sorry, my international friends, but I do not know where to find it in your locales.  I do know, given it was a European production, that it should be available in the EU.  The French title is Transferts, so try searching for that term!  If you find links, please share them in comments so other fans can find this amazing show!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Forsooth, a TG Opera from the 1700s!

 

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(Photo: Discovery of Achilles on Skyros)

Achilles, the mighty warrior, pretending to be a girl and fighting off the manly advances of a king?  Finding himself pestered on all sides by people determined he should become a bride?  This and more all happens in John Gay’s 1700s opera, Achilles in Petticoats.

The story of Achilles and how his mother, the nymph Thetis, convinced him to live as a girl dates back to ancient times and has been the subject of paintings, sculptures, epic poems and operas in French, Spanish and, happily for me, English!  For a listing of the many depictions of this event, check out the Achilles on Skyros Wikipedia page.

The Opera itself, Achilles in Petticoats, can also be read online and features some scenes that, unfortunately, could have come right out of 21st century TG fiction.  I say unfortunately because it shows how little has changed in terms of women being sexually harassed.  Here, we see a man subjected to these kinds of sexist treatments, and that is what this opera explores, with songs such as this, a duet between Achilles and Lycomedes as the king is trying to pressure Achilles into sex, leading to a threatened rape.  This is the lead in and then the duet.  Notice how Lycomedes assumes Achilles is only pretending (s)he’s not interested:

 

Lycomedes:  Since your obstinate behavior then makes violence necessary–

Achilles: You make self-preservation, sir, a necessity–

Lycomedes:  I won’t be refused!

Air IX

 

Lycomedes:  Why this affectation?

Achilles: Why this provocation?

Lycomedes: Must I bear resistance still?

Achilles: Check your inclination.

Lycomedes: Dare you then deny me?

Achilles: You too far may try me

Lycomedes: Must I then against your will?

Achilles: Force will never ply me!

(Achilles pushes Lycomedes from him with great force and throws him down).

One of the more interesting twists in most versions of the story is that Achilles agrees to learn to walk and talk and live as a girl because he is in love with Deidamia, one of the king’s daughters, and the only way he can get close to her is if he pretends to be a girl.  So, it is full of gender role bending fun as it is his desire for a woman that makes Achilles willing to live as one.  There is also an interesting aspect in most version in that is is  his mother, Thetis, trains him to “graceful gait and modest tongue.”  It’s an interesting dynamic, a mother being the one who takes her manly and macho son and feminizes him– all to protect him from the early death it has been foretold awaits him at Troy.  But could there be more to it?  Could there be some other factors driving Thetis to this unusual plan?

I feel like a modern re-telling exploring all these relationships and issues is past due, and so I am starting to write one now, and I am having great fun in exploring these decisions by Thetis for her son, and Achilles for himself.  Of course, in my version, there will be a physical change!

 

 

Gender Bender streaming on Netflix

Check out my gender bending ebooks!

And especially My Epic Fantasy Series!

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In the future, you are not your body; you are data.  And, in this future world, corporations and governments can strip your data from one human body (called a sleeve) and place it in another, or even just store you indefinitely as information either with consciousness or within a simulated world.  This is the SCIFI basis of Altered Carbon, the name of both a book and a TV series.

Obviously, this opens up a lot of possibilities for gender swapping and exploration.  In the book and in the movie, it is clear that the main character, who identifies as male and embodies the tough guy investigator type (Deckard in Blade Runner, Mike Hammer in Mickey Spillane novels…etc…) has spent some time in female sleeves.  He mentions it in the book, and in the show when people scan his ID, all his former identities come up, and several are clearly female.

Unfortunately, neither the book nor the TV show delve too deeply into the gender games.  For those who enjoy the much more rare female to male swap, there is a fun sequence where a main character, Kristin Ortega, brings her grandmother back in the body of a hulking, tattooed and very male goon in order to celebrate El dia de los Muertos.  The actor does not over play the feminine mannerisms, and is actually very good at embodying a grandmother enjoying spending a holiday with her family.

All of the characters we meet seem to identify as straight male or female regardless of their sleeve’s sex, and there is little sense that the body swapping has led to any major changes in society in terms of how people perceive male and female.  It largely reflects our mainstream world with a SCIFI filter.  However, there is some interesting action, and the little taste of gender bending that’s there was enough to fire up my imagination.

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Another Netflix series based on a novel that gets into some gender bending is Kiss Me First.  

Get Book Here

Kiss Me First follows a young woman who spends a great deal of her time in a virtual reality game, using the name Shadowfax.  This show delves into identity more intentionally than AC, and without giving away too much I will reveal that there is a character in the virtual world who is not what she seems!  We also have characters logging in as other people, and lots of questions about what’s real and what isn’t.  I would love to see more gender stuff in future installments, but again what is there and what is potentially there got my imagination working.

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Lastly, a more straight up gender bending French film called I am Not an Easy Man.  In this film, like Second Nature, a chauvinistic male finds himself transported to a mirror universe where gender roles are revered.  Women are the aggressors, and they hold most of the money and the power.  Men are expected to do their best to look attractive for the women and are viewed as the lesser sex.  It’s a fun and interesting take on the usual story as the man finds himself struggling to deal with being objectified …etc… and there is a little body image stuff as at one point he contemplated putting inserts into his underwear to give himself a bigger butt.  The acting is all good, and the film does make some nice observations about gender and politics.

Check them out and let me know what you think!  I get lonely out here in my virtual world and would love to hear from you!  Thanks for reading!  Don’t forget to brush your teeth!