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The Satisfaction of SMUT

Arts & Culture | February 8, 2016

“The most hardcore public sex I’ve ever had was in a vestibule of a train in the UK.” Cameryn Moore recounted a summer fling she had with a man who called himself the “UK muse.” They were aboard a crowded train from Manchester to Bristol and she was impatient to start the tryst right away. “I can feel him getting an erection, so I think maybe I should stop. No way am I gonna stop.” Moore told her story on a small stage wearing turquoise leggings and cowboy boots. The crowded room erupted in applause as she concluded the first story of the night. Moore reached into a basket to choose who would go next.

On January 22, Moore hosted the Smut SLAM, an evening devoted to sharing real-life, first person sexual experiences hosted at the Center for Arts at The Armory in Somerville. With old pianos and green antique lanterns, the dimly lit cafe felt like a living room. Latecomers stood on the perimeter hoping for a seat to open. Before the first storyteller walked on stage, Moore explained the kind of space she expected the audience to create, saying, “we are talking sex positive, kink-positive, fat-positive, body positive, queer positive, trans positive.” And she provided one last warning: “No necking in the front row!”

Moore is a 45-year-old phone-sex operator, playwright, sex educator, and street erotica writer based in Montreal. Smut SLAMs are one of many ways that Moore promotes open discussions about sex. “Everything I do, I want it to be directed towards one mission, which is creating and facilitating spaces where people feel comfortable sharing their authentic sexual selves,” she explained. At the end of the night, she knows her mission is being carried out when she sees people engaging, laughing, or crying about what they just saw. “I don’t ever want to write a piece of theater that doesn’t move people to think about their own shit,” she said.

After college, Moore didn’t know what she wanted to do. She dabbled in freelance journalism, started a performance troupe, and worked as a waitress. In 2005, she ended up at a marketing job, which she lost during the recession a few years later. With no money or job prospects on the horizon, Moore found herself once again in search of work. Friends had been telling her for years she had a great voice for phone sex and, in need of money, she started interviewing at several companies. “At the time it felt like the only thing that was available,” so she took a job at the first company to give her an offer. “Suddenly what I knew became a 12 x 12 room and strangers on the phone.”

Moore started as a phone sex operator in 2008 and still works for the same company today. She said it took two or three months to get used to the job and that she didn’t feel ready when she took her first call. “I was shaking for 20 minutes, I [couldn’t] believe I just heard a strange man cum.”

She soon learned phone sex was about creating a scene. Men called in to have her play along with their fantasies. One caller asked her to concoct a kind of soap opera where his wife cuckolds him with another woman and a man named Jamal. Another urged her to pretend she was his “mommy,” feeding her the exact lines he wanted to hear.

Moore’s experience as a phone sex operator gave her rare insight into the honest sexual desires of people around the country. The new material inspired her to start writing more broadly about sexuality, though she was already interested in the subject. “I’ve always been kinky and interested in sex. I’m a horny, horny fucker,” she said. After blogging for a few months about her calls, Moore finished a play called Phone Whore. She would hold Q & As after performances where people could share and ask questions, but that discussion quickly turned to the personal lives of audience members. She realized they needed a space to talk more openly about their own sexuality.

In 2011, Moore started Smut SLAMs to do just that. The goal of Smut SLAMs is to create a safe space for people to recount stories related to sex that might be considered taboo in other social settings. Moore feels that hearing other people’s stories helps put one’s own insecurities to rest. “Everybody will find at least something there. ‘I felt weird, I felt awesome, I felt terrified.’ You want to be reassured that your feelings are valid and hearing other people, especially around sex, is incredibly validating.” One of Moore’s best friends, Cid, added, “Sometimes you have sexual accomplishments that you’re proud of… I think a lot of people are really looking for a community where they can be open about those parts of themselves.”

Moore blames popular culture for defining what sexual interest and pleasure should look like, both in terms of gender and body type. “Our sexualities are handed to us on a media-saturated platter,” where movies, religion, and businesses tell us, “we’re supposed to want a certain thing, that we should behave in certain ways and not in others.” She said that people are taught to feel ashamed of having interests that are outside the status quo.

That suppression causes sex to come across as a cheap thrill, Moore added. But to her, it’s an essential and indescribable part of life that warrants exploration. Moore says that sex, “can communicate through skin and fluids and membranes, it just jumps right through, it’s like electricity. It cuts through things, it doesn’t have to travel the circuitous route that language will take us on.”

Moore stepped back on stage as the applause died down from the second storyteller—she had her next anecdote ready: “I had a lover in Philadelphia once who such a wonderful anarchist that he knew exactly where all the security cameras were in downtown and took me on a tour of the hidden places where you could fuck publicly.”

To fans, Moore’s transparency is part of her appeal. A friend of Moore’s and Boston-native, Greg, explained, “She was saying the kind of things I’d never heard from anyone before… just the upfront, real-deal, sex talk.” Greg also liked that her stories, however hilarious and profound, stemmed from personal experience.

For Moore, her stories are a means to an end. Her custom erotica, her blogging, the Smut SLAMs—they’re all a way of pushing back against a culture of suppressed sexuality. She says that’s why Smut SLAMs are so valuable: “For us to stake that claim and own our own sexuality is a real act of bravery.”

Moore reached into the basket to pick the last storyteller before intermission. While dozens of names remained, only a few would get the chance to share their raunchiest, funniest, or most embarrassing sexual encounters on stage. It’s not every day you can publicly recount losing your virginity in the back of a taxi.