Activist of the Year
Stacey Clare - WINNER!
Stacey Clare cannot be defined as one type of professional, having already lived many different lives as a performer, writer, activist, stripper, model, teacher, theatre-maker, artist, events manager, PA, professional care worker, and founding member of the East London Strippers Collective (ELSC). Her wide range of experiences has given her deep insight into the workings of specific human relationships. In particular, she is concerned with performer/audience, artist/model, voyeur/object, and punter/sex-worker relationships.
Stacey started working as a stripper whilst on a gap year from her Fine Art Degree at the Glasgow School of Art. As a student she researched feminist art, and aligned herself with sex-positive feminism. She wrote her dissertation on licensing legislation of the UK strip-club industry, bemoaning the lack of strippers’ voices within the legal debate – a problem that still persists today. Through co-founding the ELSC, she aims to empower more dancers in the industry to fight for their rights as workers, and challenge the stigma surrounding their jobs. She and many other dancers resist the idea of being identified as victims, and question legislation that deems them as such. Yet, the ELSC recognises the existing problems of exploitation in the industry, and the need for improvements.
Among the various forces that influence her working environment, Stacey Clare is fighting to be heard. She says, “I believe that when people have a happy, healthy sexuality that is free from shame or condemnation this leads to healthier, happier communities and a positive wider social impact. How can people find their social autonomy if they can’t find their sexual autonomy?". For more information about Stacey, visit: Dazed: Sex Industry Stereotypes | Vice article | Striptease Festival
COSWAS - WINNER of a Special Jury Prize for International Work!
COSWAS (Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters) was formed by sex workers and supporters in Taiwan on 1st May 1998. The majority are core members of the Taipei Alliance of Licensed Prostitutes (TALPS), which was established in 1997 when the city mayor suddenly abolished Licensed Prostitution.
The only form of sex work activism that exists in Taiwan, COSWAS has been campaigning for changes to laws and policies that persecute sex workers because of social stigma and political repression. COSWAS also works directly with and organises sex workers on a daily basis to fight for the rights of sex workers and the recognition of their work as work in order to improve their working conditions.
COSWAS fights on behalf of not only sex workers but also those who have experienced repression around sexuality, especially the disabled and the gay and lesbian communities. COSWAS has worked with the disabled community since 2006, beginning with the experiment of 'translating' porns for the blind. Since then, COSWAS have held forums, film festivals and workshops for/with disabled community, and worked with social workers as well. COSWAS began connecting disabled clients with sex workers in 2010.
For more information about COSWAS, visit their website: http://coswas.org
Beth is a facilitator, writer, speaker and the founder and director of Bliss Ireland and The Irish Festival of Erotic Art.
This year, Beth funded and hosted the brilliant Bliss festival for the third year running, holding it in Northern Ireland for the first time. The festival, which focuses on education about conscious sexuality and spirituality, clashed with the conservative and sex-negative culture of Northern Ireland, resulting in a high court order that landed Beth with a bill of €20,000. Despite this, Beth proceeded with the festival and there is currently a fundraising campaign running to compensate Beth for her huge personal financial loss and to keep the festival going. The festival aims to make people aware of the sex-negative culture that we live in, and highlights alternative, more conscious ways of dealing with sexuality.
Beth says, "My favourite thing about sex is the intimacy it affords me with myself and the person/people I'm having sex with. I LOVE to plumb the depths of connection with others, to feel the edges of myself melt, blur, merge, move, harden, shift & change, and to witness that in another when we make love, have sex, or are sexual with each other. DELICIOUS! "
Read the full story of this year's fesival here.
Ally of the Year
Clare de Than - WINNER!
Claire de Than, BA (Hons), LLB, LLM, is Co-Director of the Centre for Law, Justice and Journalism at City University, London, and Deputy Director of the Institute of Law, Jersey, having previously held appointments at two London University colleges. She is the author or co-author of more than 15 books, including Criminal Law (de Than and Heaton 2013), Human Rights (de Than and Shorts 2014) and International Criminal Law and Human Rights (de Than and Shorts 2003). Claire has also published articles in a variety of national and international journals, including the 'Modern Law Review'. Her research fields include criminal law, human rights law, media law, and disability law. She has advised several governments and many organisations on criminal law, human rights, and law reform issues, with a specialism in law relating to privacy and consent. One of the main aspects of her published work is an argument that there is a human right to have fun, including sexual expression, regardless of disability, and so she campaigns for governments to abolish laws that prevent or limit sexual expression by consenting adults. A SHADA advisor, she is a regular keynote speaker at legal and medical conferences on the law of consent, aiming to remove fears and misconceptions about the relevant law. She also advises a number of charities. Since she is 60% deaf, she is one of the people who are presumed not to consent to sexual activity under English law through having a communication-related disability, even though she is a professional communicator.
Claire says: "As a human rights advocate I cannot change the whole world, but I can make it a significantly happier place for 1, 2 or 73 people at a time by advocating for their human right to have their chosen type of fun, with consenting adults of their choice, regardless of any disability. So few lawyers will deal with cases about sexual expression. Why avoid cases about joy and fun? They are fundamental human needs and rights.
Jerry Barnett is a technologist with two decades' experience in the online porn industry. He chaired the Adult Industry Trade Association for two years and represented industry interests in the media. After becoming increasingly concerned about rising state censorship, and clashing with UK media regulators, he closed his business and founded the Sex & Censorship campaign to raise awareness of a growing threat to free expression. He has been branded 'reckless' by Ofcom, and a 'sensible pornographer' by Claire Perry MP.
While London’s Soho undergoes sterilisation, with old strip clubs and seedy sex shops being swept away in favour of trendy wine bars and hipster coffee shops, so Britain’s laws on pornography are also being cleansed, with the prohibition of the depiction of practices like face-sitting, female ejaculation and even spanking. Now British artist Lucy Sparrow is hitting back at the growing influence of the neo-Puritans and prudery with her latest show, a Soho sex shop, created entirely from felt..
Click here to read an article about Lucy's work in The Independent.
Event of the Year
The Summer House Weekend - WINNER!
The Summer House Weekend is a country house retreat exploring community, creativity and connection. Over the course of a weekend guests experience workshops and talks on subjects from spirituality and science to dance and touch, plus various indoor and outdoor games, ceremonies, craft-making sessions and performances. With its strong focus on consent, accountability and inclusivity, the event seeks to encourage a caring, responsible environment in which guests can feel free to be their authentic selves. Now entering its fifth year, The Summer House has since spawned an additional, similar weekend called The Winter House. Both were founded by Tobias Fauntleroy Slater, who is one of the co-founders of 'arty sexy party' at Kinky Salon London, as well as running London cabaret night 'White Mischief'.
Tobias says, "What I like most is that some of the most important issues around right now are being progressed on this scene - consent, feminism and so much more - by people who are committed to bringing that change into the lives of others." thesummerhouseweekend.com
Café V is a pioneering event which helps women regain pleasurable sexuality after rape or sexual assault. It’s a unique collaboration between Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium, winners of the Special Judges Award in 2005 for being the ‘best sex shop in town’ and My Body Back Project, set up in August 2014 by Pavan Amara (herself a rape survivor) to support women who have experienced sexual violence to love and care for their bodies again.
Sh! and the My Body Back Project came together in a unique collaboration to focus on sexual recovery after it became clear that many women find this a difficult and lonely journey, for which there is little practical help from established services or support systems.
Café V is held in the friendly, female-focused and sex-positive space of the Sh! store in Hoxton Square, and covers ways to connect with the body, physical relaxation techniques, how to overcome body issues or problems with sex and sexuality, including orgasm, masturbation, triggers, anxiety and pain during sex. Hosted by Pavan and Renee Denyer (Sh!’s award-winning Store Manager), Café V is run quarterly on Saturday mornings in a closed, safe environment, with tea and pastries served and is women-only and trans-friendly.
Ky Hoyle. Founder of Sh! says: ‘Sexuality is individual and unique, not a one-size-fits-all concept. At Sh! we don’t dictate what’s ‘sexy’ or 'pleasurable' but help you discover what this means for you.'
Pavan Amara. Founder of My Body Back project, says: ‘I looked for support but it just wasn't there. I knew I'd have to take it on myself.’
To find out more about Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium, visit them at their shop: 57 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6PB; visiting their website: www.sh-womenstore.com/; or follow them on twitter: @SHWomenstore.
Multi-award winning, sex worker, sexual trainer, political campaigner and mother, Charlotte Rose organised the first of three porn protests on the 12th December 2014.
The three protests were organised to challenge new rules introduced by the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014, which placed restrictions on certain activities depicted by UK porn producers, including face-sitting, spanking, female ejaculation, urologia (sexual acts involving urine), penetration with the entire hand, or extremely large dildos. Charlotte called the restrictions “ludicrous” and said they were a threat to freedom of expression. As part of their protest, the campaigners planned to carry out a mass demonstration of face-sitting while singing the Monty Python song Sit On My Face. Charlotte also gave a speech to the assembled crowd, arguing, "You can try and ban our liberties but you can never take our sexual freedom!"
“Activities [such as face-sitting] were added to this list without the public being made aware,” Charlotte Rose said. “They’ve done this without public knowledge and without public consent. There are activities on that list that may be deemed sexist, but it’s not just about sexism, it’s about censorship. What the government is doing is taking our personal liberties away without our permission.”
'Sexhibition', billed as 'The Erotic Event of the Year' enjoyed huge success with its debut event held in Manchester in August 2015.
A spectacular realisation, two years in the making, the event lived up to it's manifesto of celebrating sexuality in the 21st century (primarily that of women) embracing straight, gay, LGBT and fetish lifestyles in a truly inclusive atmosphere. Sexhibition featured unforgettable stage performances, a plethora of educational workshops and interactive experiences and a huge retail arena featuring specialise traders and exhibitors. With plans firmly in place for Sexhibition 2016, it's sure to be a high point of the calendar for years to come. sexhibitionexpo.co.uk
Performance Artist of the Year
Rex Denial - WINNER!
Rex Denial is a cockney, superhero pornstar. He is a lout. And he is sexually exploratory, bigoted and greedy which makes him a homophobic closet homosexual with a voracious appetite for cock. He expresses this in 'chatty' narrative and pre-rehearsed memorised rhyming couplet poetry that sounds like Roald Dahl and lands like X-rated porn.
Rex has the power to shock and delight, and his job in the world is to teach ALL men that you can totally suck a cock without being homo. Rex says, "You've just gotta do it like a man!"
Pioneer of the Year
Laura Lee - WINNER!
Laura is a dedicated campaigner for sex workers' rights and has appeared on Newsnight, the O'Brien show, and three separate Channel 4 documentaries. She is well known for her work with disabled clients, as well as for her fiery temperament combined with a wicked sense of humour. In the last quarter of this year, Laura has launched a legal bid in Northern Ireland to challenge the ban on paying for sex (often referred to as the 'Swedish model'), which was voted in as part of a bill aimed at amending Northern Ireland's laws on trafficking and prostitution. Laura is planning to take a similar case as lead plaintiff in the Republic of Ireland too. Ultimately, she hopes to take the case to Europe and eradicate the Swedish model once and for all.
In her spare time Laura writes for various news outlets and is in the process of completing her first novel. She has dedicated her life to helping sex workers in any way she can when she's not tending to the small farm at her home.
Buzzy has created a powerful and inclusive festival of tantra and sacred sexuality, attracting trans, queer and straight people. The festival has a sensitivity to pronoun use and its work is open to people of any genital configuration. Trans people have said it is unique in Europe. Buzzy is a pioneer in creating this not-for-profit event that embraces people of all genders and sexualities. 2015 saw the 'house of heaven' - a place where sacred sex workers were available to offer their services to all at the festival, celebrating the healing and pleasure aspects of sex work.
For more information about the festival, visit: quintasensual.org
Catriona is a latex designer who has a complex disability that mostly manifests in her right leg on which she wears a brace. Rather than hide her disability away, she celebrates it, donning hand-made rubber clothes intended to fit around and enhance it. She specialises in making fetishwear for people with particular non-standard body requirements, and often sends differently abled models down her catwalks in wheelchairs and on crutches, all looking sexy as hell.
Catriona showed a new collection at Sexhibition this summer, and also championed the use of elderly models, dressing a 95-year-old in latex for her website. She's challenging assumptions that older and differently built people can't indulge their fetishes and look good doing so.
For more information about Catriona, visit her website: http://www.catrionastewartclothing.co.uk/
Publicist of the Year
Pandora Blake - WINNER!
Pandora Blake is a feminist porn performer and producer based in the UK. She is the creator of 'Dreams of Spanking', an award-winning ethical BDSM porn website which was closed down in August 2015 by ATVOD under the new UK porn legislation. Her film 'Instructed' (a collaboration with Bright Desire) won Best BDSM Scene at the Feminist Porn Awards 2015, and her film 'Houseboy' won the Short Film Competition at the Berlin Porn Film Festival 2015.
Pandora started working as a fetish photo model in 2005, and as a spanking porn performer in 2006. While working in the industry she developed a radical politics of ethical porn production, which she put into practice in 2011 with the launch of Dreams of Spanking, prioritising transparency, accessibility, explicit behind the scenes enthusiastic consent, and equal pay for equal work. Her films are queer-inclusive and gender-critical, exploring corporal punishment fantasies via the female erotic gaze.
Pandora is an activist with Backlash, the English Collective of Prostitutes, and the Sex Worker Open University. She is an outspoken advocate on issues including sex workers' rights and sex work law reform, censorship and obscenity law, sexual freedom, civil liberties, kink acceptance and ethical porn.
To find out more about Pandora, visit her website: www.dreamsofspanking.com
Girl on the Net
Girl on the Net is an anonymous, London-based sex blogger. She writes real-life sex stories at www.girlonthenet.com, has written for publications such as The Guardian, The New Statesman, The Debrief and others, and she also writes copy for sex toy companies, porn producers, and anyone else who wants inclusive erotic writing. Girl on the Net's first book, My Not-So-Shameful Sex Secrets, was published in 2013, and her second book is due out in March 2016. Girl on the Net tries to tackle myths and misconceptions around sex, highlight interesting kinks and fantastic porn that often slip through the net of mainstream media, and encourage people to enjoy their bodies without feeling like there's a specific way in which they should be using them.
Jem is a sex worker whose work as a publicist began by simply having conversations. She wanted to talk to other sex workers, other parents, other queer folk, other people with disabilities; she wanted to post pictures of her cats online and moan when she was having a bad day. The conversations grew into blogging, into campaigning, into sadly being outed as a sex worker - but above all were about Jem saying to the world, 'I am here and I am not going away'.
Jem is a parent to wonderful children and a partner to two men who are her rocks. She is queer, autistic and has recently qualified as a counsellor. Her hope for the future is to provide the kind of affirming therapy she could never find for herself.
To follow Jem's blog, visit: https://sometimesitsjustacigar.wordpress.com/
Sex Worker of the Year
Seani Love - JOINT WINNER!
Sydney-born Seani Love has been a sexuality professional since running his first workshops and sessions in Prague in 2010. He specialises in exploring the delicious spaces where Urban Tantra, Conscious Kink and raucous ritual pounding and fucking overlap to bring ecstatic joy and sexual bliss to his many beautiful clients around the world.
Seani Love runs the School of Erotic Mysteries, an organisation dedicated to demystifying sexual practices, spreading wisdom about embodied consent and boundaries, and making sex safer and more beautiful for everyone through its many wonderful and diverse specialist teachers.
With a background in sex magick, BDSM and ritual, Seani works closely with the healing and consciousness-expanding potential of certain kinds of sexual exploration. He has a special interest in the darker realms, such as shadow integration, which is best explored using shamanic sexual practices that lead to places of power and love.
Seani says, "By learning about and integrating our erotic shadows we are better able to know ourselves and thus have more beautiful and more powerful erotic encounters and more fulfilling sex lives."
"My favourite thing about sex is how giving someone else erotic pleasure feeds me so deeply. I make someone moan and their moaning is music to my ears, music I can dance to, sing to, fuck to..."
To find out more about Seani, visit his website: www.seanilove.com
Itziar Urrutia, professionally known as Mistress Tytania - JOINT WINNER!
Political, sexy and an all round revolutionary, Itziar is Basque by birth and a Londoner by choice, A dominatrix, pornographer and founder of Urban Chick Supremacy Cell, Itziar loves femdom and fetish as tools to express herself sexually and as an artist. She became involved in the London fetish scene while studying for an MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths. Itziar offers the most creative services around, including enforced grooming, kidnappings and The Grand Slutathon - a queer version of the traditional Forced-Bi Femdom scenario. She also loves fisting.
Itziar attributes her political activism to being a woman, an immigrant and a sex worker. She believes that sex work is close to therapy and that it's got a huge role to play in helping to dispel stigma and sexual shame among people who use sex workers or who are sex workers themselves. She is a tireless denouncer of sexual stigma towards sex workers and sexual minorities.
Itziar started her own femdom studio, the Urban Chick Supremacy Cell, as an alternative to those versions of female dominance that (she believes) peddle limited and often misoginistic, outdated views of women's sexual power. She joined Backlash UK in 2009 and became involved in challenging the encroaching censorship of and surveillance of civilians that has been steadily brought in by UK governments of all political persuasions since 2005.
As a result of this, Itziar harnessed the experience gained from her involvement in Backlash to defend individuals charged with obscenity or possession of extreme porn and to oppose the Authority of Television on Demand's (ATVOD) censorship of femdom studios under the pretense of 'regulation'. UC-SC was the first adult studio to fight back against these draconian regulations. Itziar now advises other femdom and adult studios in their fight against encroaching state censorship from organisations such as ATVOD and Ofcom, and the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations (namely, the "female ejaculation" ban).
Itziar is currently writing her doctoral thesis on the Invisibility of Female Sexual Dominance.
For more information about Itziar, visit her website: www.mstytania.net
Kendra Holliday is a 42 year old woman located in St. Louis, MO, and is the Editor of 'The Beautiful Kind'. She is a passionate bisexual sexplorer when it comes to kinks, fetishes, BDSM, swinging, sex work, and polyamory. She is also a mother, daughter, sister, friend and volunteer.
Kendra is co-founder of Sex Positive St. Louis, and an Alternative Lifestyle Advisor and Gynecological Teaching Associate for Washington University School of Medicine. She has a professional consulting site Be Open and Honest, where she offers sex and relationship advice and sex surrogacy services (talking and hands on intimacy). Her life experiences include monogamous marriage, divorce, sex work, parenthood, as well as being fired and sued for her sexuality. A nudist and sex-positive activist, she is in a polyamorous BDSM relationship with her long-term partner, Matthew.
To find out more about Kendra, visit her website: www.beopenandhonest.com
Somatic Sex Educator of the Year
Dr Betty Martin - WINNER!
Dr Betty Martin has had her hands on people professionally for more than 30 years, first as a Chiropractor, and later as a Body Electric School trained Sacred Intimate, Certified Sexological Bodyworker, and Foundations of Facilitation trainer.
Betty's therapeutic training includes Chiropractic, Somato-Respiratory Integration, Educational Kinesiology, Reiki and Neuro-Emotional Integration. In more recent years, her erotic education has included included sensual massage, Taoist Erotic Massage, Kashmiri tantric massage and Sexological Bodywork.
Betty is currently most passionate about helping hands-on professionals learn how to assess what is most useful for their clients and students, and how they can teach them to become fully empowered in their desires and choices. To that end, she mentors other practitioners and teachers on her course, Like a Pro.
To find out more about Betty's work, visit her website: http://bettymartin.org/
Rebecca Lowrie, The Sexual Alchemist, is a catalyst for deep transformation and sexual awakening. Using her innate, intuitive sense of sexuality, along with formal training and years of personal exploration, Rebecca helps people to connect to their sexuality and sexual power in deep and mysterious ways. Working in creative, playful and inspired ways, Rebecca weaves together intuition, love and sensuality to create intimate and transformational spaces for people who are ready to take back their sexual power and create the lives they've always dreamed of. These Sexual Alchemy sessions and programmes awaken deeper aspects of people's sexual selves than they have ever experienced before, so that it flow through them for their continued pleasure, health, wellbeing and expansion.
Rebecca lives in London with her fabulously talented partner. You can often find her captivated by the alchemical beauty of nature, meditating in the sauna, or nibbling delicious bits of raw chocolate. Rebecca is a Trustee of The Disability Foundation.
To find out more about her work, visit her website: http://rebeccalowrie.com/
Matthias has been a practitioner of Tantra and sacred sexuality for almost 20 years. He facilitates individual sessions, workshops and delivers presentations around the world, supporting people to find sexual liberation through play.
Based on the Polyvagal theory of Stephen Porges and the Wheel of Consent by Betty Martin, Matthias's approach focuses on empowerment and evolution. He believes that the natural and organic flow of sexual energy has been used and abused for centuries to depress and control our natural way of being. As a result, many people are carrying wounds to their sexuality inflicted by social conditioning, unconscious interactions with others and general misuse. Although the Tantric movement as a whole has sought to support people to overcome these wounds, Matthias believes that in some cases, workshops marketed as Tantra may have caused more harm than good.
In this context, Matthias's work seeks to empower individuals to find their own boundaries and learn how to give true consent, rather than ceding their authority to a guru or the workshop leader. He believes that once people are able to give true consent, they are then able to enter into a loving connection with a partner of choice - a connection that can take them beyond time and space to a place of surrender. Matthias also runs a Facebook group called 'Tantra Not Trauma', where he writes about consent issues within the tantra world.
To find out more about Matthias's work, visit his website: http://uniquetantra.com/
Striptease Artist of the Year
Sam Reynolds - WINNER!
Sam is a cabaret performer, host and producer, a Resident Artist at the Roundhouse, and co-founder of the venue's resident cabaret and performance art troupe Cushion Collective.
His work fuses dance, mime, clowning, comedy, and striptease, and he has performed at venues and events such as Duckie, Glastonbury, Latitude, Bestival, Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Soho Theatre, Brighton Dome, Wellcome Collection, and more.
He recently closed the Cabaret Arena on the Saturday night at Latitude Festival as part of Duckie's headline show, performed at The Citadel in St. Helen's as part of Duckie's twentieth anniversary weekend, and performed alongside David Hoyle at Chelsea Theatre.
Sam's work touches upon autobiographical themes, as well as themes within pop culture, youth culture and queer culture. It's playful, provocative, and above all fun, though his turns do also act as social commentaries.
To find out more about Sam, visit his website: http://samuelreynolds.wordpress.com.