In 2007, Gia Nova exploded onto the feature dancing circuit in a burst of sparks and flames. She was the first feature performer to take an electric grinder to her armor-like metal underwear, showering audiences in a kind of molten, heavy-metal confetti. Her act continues to strip the shiny veneer off of erotic entertainment, exploring the darker sides of desire by sawing through layers of sensation. Relying on her roots as a go-go dancer in a fetish club, some of Nova's acts incorporate such extremes as bloodbaths, leather-face costumes and occult themes. Even with these darker elements, her burlesque strip teases feature as much flare and feathers as an x-rated Cirqu Du Soleil show on the Vegas strip. She is as comfortable performing aerial silk acts as she is spinning fire from nipple tassels or breathing fire.
Nova has the blonde bombshell proportions of a busty playboy model, which she is, paired with the style and tattoos of a fetishistic pinup model, which she also is. Her dancing crosses as broad a spectrum as her gypsy lifestyle, incorporating belly dancing, Middle Eastern, American tribal, modern dance, and hip-hop. She also crafts her own props and costumes, and mixes her own music, creating a backdrop as unique as her performance. Nova's exotic shows offer a carnival experience, combining the taboo curiosities of freak shows and peep shows with the center-ring thrills of highflying circus arts.
Nova's erotic talents have been featured in every major gentlemen's magazine, including Penthouse, Playboy, Cherri, Hustler and Club. Exotic Dancer Magazine perpetually ranks Nova as one of the top feature performers. This October, Nova won "Best Feature Dancer" at Nightmoves 2013.
Tonight, she's a featured performer at the Mad Monster Party. I caught up with Nova over the phone while she was stuck in her Atlanta home under a sheet of snow.
Why did you start sneaking into Chamber Fetish Club in Atlanta at 17?
At 17, I was old enough to drive and I had my first job in retail. That job exposed me to people outside my circle of school friends. All of a sudden, I was meeting people in their 20s. Through them I heard about these cool goth and fetish clubs. One of my friends who was a go-go dancer at the goth club got me in by having me carry her costume bags. She told me to pretend like I was helping her and to act like I belonged there. Only one person made a comment about how young I looked. My friend just claimed that the club was going to hire me as a dancer. I did that for months. When I turned 18 the club did end up hiring me as a go-go dancer.
In some ways, Emily Southwood was living a modern-day fairytale. She had just finished her MFA degree and was packing her things to move in with her fiancé, Robbie, in L.A. Then she received a call that changed everything. Robbie landed a job filming a reality show about porn stars.
At first, Southwood, who considered herself a sexually liberated and progressive minded woman, thought she could handle her fiancé's job assignment. However, she quickly realized how messy love could be when she spent her days at home, searching for jobs and planning a wedding while Robbie dodged body fluids on porn sets and scouted locations at all-inclusive sex resorts.
Although the experience jeopardized her relationship, it also gave her an idea. Just as Robbie had used porn to build his professional credits, Southwood would use the experience to launch her literary career. The resulting memoir, Prude, tells the story of a young couple forced to reexamine their notions of sex and love through the lens of the adult industry.
Humans tend to fetishize what a society considers taboo or forbidden. Some theories suggest that the more egalitarian a society is, the more men in such a culture fetishize the degradation of women. That is, the less power men exercise over women in society, the more they seek to control and dominate women during sex. What do you think the prevalence of "degrading" porn says about the society that consumes it?
That theory is in line with some of what has been said about Fifty Shades of Grey - women crave submission in the bedroom as a release from juggling jobs and households. They want to relinquish control and focus on a nice spanking from a rich, handsome, sadomasochist CEO for a wee bit. Perhaps.
I identify with the theory that our brains become immune to what we are seeing and increasingly crave greater stimuli. Porn today certainly seems like a reflection of being desensitized to graphic visuals. First it takes you half a beer to get a buzz, then eventually you need five. A lot of mainstream porn today is definitely a five-beer buzz. Maybe even a three-day bender.
I recently wrote what was intended to be a very satirical, tongue-in-cheek online article about the 50 Shades of Grey book trilogy. Although I did actually read the books, which were a total wrecking ball on my life for two weeks, I had very little understanding of BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, and Sadomasochism) or the dominant/submissive lifestyles. After the article was posted, a reader accosted me with comments for “slut-shaming” people who participate in alternative sexual experiences. The shock passed quickly, because she was wrong and obviously didn’t see the article for its intended humor, but it did manifest a curiosity about the role of the sexual submissive, particularly for women.
I swiftly assumed the character of the cat curiosity killed and started ingesting any related information that I could get my hands on. Admittedly, watching Real Sex and reading BDSM literature was some of the most entertaining research I’ve ever done. Not long after (by chance and with a stroke of luck) I was introduced to Joey W. Hill, a successful author of erotic and paranormal romance novels, and herself a submissive.
Hill explained that many people have a natural inclination toward a submissive or dominant lifestyle, just as people are intrinsically attracted to men or women. “At 6 years old, my Ken doll was tying up Barbie in the basement of the dreamhouse," Hill said with a giggle. “I was an administrative assistant for 20 years. There is just that orientation in me to support. It’s what I am.”
On shelves today is a book that will have readers checking back copies of VIBE and Rolling Stone magazines to see if this book is about that guy (you know who). It's called Mogul, by writer Terrence Dean, author of Hiding In Hip Hop.
Dean is quick to point out that his debut novel is a fictional tale. Here's what the story is about:
After the sudden death of his father, a renowned jazz musician, Aaron "Big A.T." Tremble clings to music as an escape. Making hip hop beats becomes his life. His love for music lands him at the estate of Larry "Pop" Singleton, a retired and respected Hip Hop music mogul who sees something special in Big A.T., and he also knows the truth about his sexuality. With Pop's blessings and nurturing, Big A.T. is on the path to becoming the next great Hip Hop producer in New York.
With the help of Pop and "the family," a network of secretly gay men in the Hip Hop world, Big A.T. finds success and starts his own music label. He's signed and worked with some of the biggest Hip Hop artists in the country. One of them is Brooklyn native lyricist, "Tickman." Together they are making sweet music together. Tickman and Big A.T.'s relationship goes beyond producer and rapper – they become secret lovers.
Nothing can stop Big A.T. All of the radio stations play his music. He has money, fame, and Jasmine, his girlfriend who doesn't know about his secret love for men. However, at the pinnacle of his career, compromising photos of Big A.T. land on the desk of a national news program—and in the hands of his girlfriend. Big A.T., for the first time is at a crossroad in his career: come out publicly with his secret or watch his music empire crumble.
Dean spoke with Creative Loafing before the release of the book.
Creative Loafing: What prompted this story line?
Well, I wrote Mogul because I wanted to tell the story. I worked in this industry for 20 years, and I have this arsenal of interesting stories. I sort of feel like the Jackie Collins and the Dominick Dunne who wrote their books based on their friendships in Hollywood. But I felt like there was not a black voice in literature that spoke of those same experiences. And I wanted to talk about, look at what it would be like if people found out that their favorite entertainment mogul was on the down low. How the public would respond and telling the story about what it really takes to get into the industry.
The story is sensual and steamy. How did you balance the love scenes so well?
Writers like E. Lynn Harris and Eric Jerome Dickey, who I love and idolize, Tananarive Due and Sonia Sanchez, who has been like a mentor to me, always said study your craft. These characters lived and breathed in me daily. I really wanted to get the reader to read and visualize the characters and the life, how they responded. People say I write very erotic love scenes, but I don't see it that way. Sex happens in hip-hop and in this industry.
Do you think if a "mogul" came out that things would go like you've mapped out in the book?
It does happen. It's not based off something I imagined; it's based off actual people. People that I know of and what I saw and how things work. I call it a modern day roman a clef. People can say, "wow, this is very true to life." I hope that someone from the hip-hop community would come forward and eventually come out. There does need to be a don't ask, don't tell repeal in hip-hop. I think so many people will then come out ... I hope that people get that, they wanted to protect Big A.T., but the family really wanted to protect themselves.
According to the website Ashley Madison, the Monday after Mother's Day, Charlotte is the third highest city with women looking for some one to have an affair with. Cheating is something that most people frown on, but there are still a lot of people doing it. Take Ivory* (not her real name) for example. She's been having an affair for about a year ... with a married woman.
According to Ivory, they met through an online club for women who want to be intimate with other woman, despite the fact that they may have husbands or boyfriends in the their public life. Slowly the affair began. But why cheat? Ivory recently opened up with Creative Loafing about the relationship and her rationale behind it.
Creative Loafing: How did the relationship get started?
The group goes and hangs out; you do movies, you pretty much meet the people in the group — and after awhile, you just create relationships. Some people get together to just hang out. They may see each other on a more private level. This person was away from the group and me and her met from talking online because she had a point to prove. But as things developed, she really liked [having sex with a woman]. But she's married with kids.
Does her husband know about her sexual preference?
Her husband doesn't know about her at all. I met the husband once, but it was more on a "this is my friend," type of thing. In some relationships, the wife wants the husband to be a part of it, even if he isn't joining in the sex; but they will be like, "this is my homegirl." But this person is not like that with her husband. She is real selfish, and she doesn't even want me to be in a relationship with anybody else. She doesn't want to share "her girl," even though she's married.
What happened when you met the husband?
It happened on an occasion where I went to see her, and he was just there. I was riding with her and she covered by saying, "I have to take my friend somewhere." It was more like a "hey, how you doing?" — and walk away from him. I didn't want to sit there and have a conversation with him and fall into a situation where he questioned who I was and how she met me.
Does her husband know about her sexuality?
Her husband doesn't know. He probably suspects something, because she's really cold toward him. She may do her job as a wife, but she's doing it because she's supposed to and not because she wants to.
So, she's still having sex with her husband?
Every once in a while. Only when he's putting up a fit, like: "It's been a month ... what's the problem?"
She tells you when she's intimate with her husband?
Yeah, she tells me. My question to her is: Why keep doing it? If this isn't the life you want to live, why are you staying?
How does that make you feel, knowing that she's going home to her husband every night?
It makes you feel like they just want their cake and eat it, too. So, you just end up doing what you want to do. She can only call early in the morning, on her way to work, when she gets off from work and then she texts half the night. Because after a certain time, she can't talk or say how she feels. And when I see her, it's usually on a sick day or when he's away on vacation.
So, she's never invited the husband to join in the sex?
No. She is really: "That's mine." She doesn't want to share me. If she didn't have kids, she would get a divorce tomorrow, no doubt. She doesn't want to leave her husband because of the kids.
If she divorced her husband, how would that change your relationship?
No. To me, I feel like they are selfish and the way I look at it is: The way you're playing with your husband is the way you're going to play either way.
What attracted you to this woman?
To me, it's more about the hunt and the chase. The fact that every time we're together it's a chance that we're going to get caught. Charlotte isn't that big, so meeting a person around in the city, you never know if you're going to run into one of your friends out or you're going to meet one of their [friends]. It's the hunt of trying to be with that person.
So, where do you two meet?
Mostly in hotels that are secluded. The hotels that people [from the group] would meet in, even for group sex, are like the Druid Inn and Suites near Northlake Mall. You can park at the mall and cross over. You can meet at Embassy Suites in Concord. You're going to meet at places where if somebody rides by, they aren't going to know you're really [at the hotel]. Or the park. It's an open environment and you can walk a trail and have a conversation. But it looks like you're exercising. There's no way to pin point what you're doing.
Have you two ever been caught in the act or almost caught?
Not by the husband, but one of her kids almost walked in on us. I've met her kids, and I'm probably just as cool with her kids as I am with her. They know me, but they don't know their mother is like that. The kids are old enough that they would know what's going on. They're not young kids.
How often do you two see each other?
At least once a month. It just depends on what's going on. But we talk everyday.
Are you jealous of her relationship with her husband?
I'm not jealous of her relationship, because I feel like I'm doing what I want to do. I'm not just seeing her; I see who I want to see. It's been situations where I tell her that I'm going out to do whatever. It's not like I can hang out with her at night. Maybe when he goes away, but other than that it's just quick stuff.
Do you think you're cheating yourself from having a real relationship?
I'm not settling for her. Me and her, I don't feel like I'm committed to her. I still go out and see other people. I shouldn't have to settle down with someone who can't commit to me.
Then why do it?
It's the rush. It's something different and it's something to do.
What do you think would happen if her husband found out about you two?
He would probably divorce her. He's not down for that kind of stuff. She had asked him about swinging, and he wouldn't go with it.
Are you ready for some bikes, babes and burlesque?
Then you want to be at Tremont Music Hall's Trash-O-Rama this Friday, if for no other reason than to see Greensboro's siren of burlesque, Tiger RoXXX — sleek like a kitten with costumes and performances that purr — growl and amp up the sexy.
Trash-O-Rama is a grindhouse style of entertainment with live music, a car show and of course the babes.
Creative Loafing: What can Charlotte fans expect from your troupe?
Tiger RoXXX: Burlesque is the art of tease, and we're on the more traditional end of that. They can come out and see a good and alluring show. We have a lot of different characters. We have girls who stick to the traditional end. We have a lot of fun-loving girls and we get out there and have a good time. We also have a comedic side and that's lots of fun.
Who is your most popular character?
We have a girl named Just Jingles. She's one of the younger girls, and she puts her heart and soul into it and is a lot of fun. She really grasps the idea of what burlesque is about, you know, women's empowerment and about finding yourself and just speaking your story through your body and through the music. She raises up that energy and pulls the crowd into the act.
How long have you been doing burlesque?
I've bee doing burlesque for about five years now.
What have you seen in the five years since you've been doing it?
I think that people are understanding that it is an art form and we take the theater, comedy, sideshow and put it all together, along with dance, movement and storytelling. We put that all in a three- to seven-minute number. Before people just thought it was just 'shaking your thing.'
That said, what are some misconceptions that people have about burlesque?
I think that people have the misconception that we're going to get naked or do something lewd. We're not trying to go out there and drop our pants and our top in the first 10 seconds of our number, because that's not what it's about. It's about playing with the mind and playing with our attitude. Then showing that we're proud of our bodies and telling a story. It's like reading a book — you don't put the good stuff in the first chapter because then you don't want to read on.
Friday March 25th Pre-party $10, Saturday March 26th $20, Combo pass $25, Tremont Music Hall, 400 West Tremont Ave., 704.343.9494. www.tremontmusichall.com
Back in May, ABC News reported on a disturbing trend that's growing in this country, child sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking, especially of minor girls, has risen in the United States, experts say. The average female prostitute in the United States is between 12 and 14 years of age. More than 250,000 American youth are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation, according to the Department of Justice.
Local photographer Pat Wright wanted to do something to help stop child sex trafficking and aid the victims as well. First, he joined the global organization, Love 146, which works to eliminate child sexual slavery and exploitation.
And money is what they need to combat the growing problem. Wright decided to put his talent to work so that he could help. He's donating a portion of the money he makes shooting weddings to Love 146 and raising awareness of sex trafficking on his blog, www.patwrightphotography.com
Creative Loafing: Why did you decide to use your photography to help bring awareness and funds to human trafficking?
Wright: My faith brings about a system of duty to stand up to injustice. That is already important to me and how I live my life. So, my businesses follow suit. One of the issues that came into that is that when I shoot these weddings, one of my favorite scenes is seeing the ring bearer and the flower girl. They just come running down the aisle, and they don't know what's going on; they're just happy and full of joy and innocence. It's a real beautiful thing. I have a six-year-old sister who is dear to me. Working with youth is something that is dear to my heart. I came across Love 146 about a year and a half ago. As my business started to grow, naturally for me it was how could I funnel this into their work? It just made sense to me.
How much money have you donated?
We've just started and are now just announcing the partnership. Five percent of every wedding that I shoot is going to [Love 146] in the month of February. And from what I already have on the books, it will be somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 as it already is and more weddings are being booked as we speak. My goal for this year is to [donate] $6,000.
What was it about Love 146 that made you want to offer your financial support?
The work that they're doing and unfortunately, the age in which we live, you have people who say they are doing things and they're taking money. But when you follow that money, a lot of it is not being used for what it is being taken for. One of the things I loved about Love 146 is their transparency. You can go online and download their financial statements. For example, in 2008, they operated on a 25 percent budget. The rest of the money went back into their work. That was really important to me. And they deal with after care and prevention of child sex slavery and exploitation. The prevention side, they've gotten really creative on how they approach that.
How does this global organization have an impact locally?
In the U.S., they work mainly in educating the kids and adults who work with kids — teachers, police officers, health care workers. Teaching them how to spot a kid that is potentially being exploited. They work through partnerships and collaborations. It's all about teaching teenage girls — because if our kids can spot the wolves in the sheep's clothing, then they have a higher chance for avoiding exploitation.
You've heard of ABC's The View — you've probably watched it a few times. But have you heard of LezView? It's a local show that looks at issues, entertainment and relationships in the LGBT community. With a roundtable format, the ladies of LezView film their show at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center in Charlotte. (And you can currently see it on YouTube.) Last year, the ladies even sat down with icon Pam Grier.
But in a time of Bill James and his "views" on homosexuality, Holly J and Dana Williams said that LezView has never been more needed in Charlotte. Creative Loafing spoke with the duo about the show, its future and why now is the time for LezView.
Creative Loafing: How long has LezView been taping and what is the show about?
Holly J: The show started in April, 2010. How did it get started? It was just sitting around and talking about things that were going on. We were like, "it would be a great idea if we did something in the community." Then we said, "LezView." It's sort of like The View. We have four women that are on the panel, and we discuss different topics that are affecting the community. Each one does their research. I try to touch base on the hottest topics that are going on at that time. We talk about relationships, politics, fiances. Things that are going on in the community like entrepreneurs, focusing on what they have to offer.
What do you hope people, gay or straight, take away from the show?
Holly J: We hope that people can see how powerful our contributions are in the society that we live in. We hope to gain recognition by the things that we do and not by our sexual orientation. I think a lot of times, people just look at us and say we just want to be promiscuous and that's not the case. We do a lot of great things in the community and outside of the community that doesn't even effect the LGBT community. We just want to be looked at as we're part of the community and not the fact that we are same-gender loving. We want people to see how powerful our contributions are in the society that we live in.
In the aftermath of County Commissioner Bill James' recent comments about gays, calling them "sexual predators," how important is a show like LezView?
Williams: This is the absolute right time for LezView, just for the the simple fact of the people that we have who are supposed representatives of the Charlotte community sitting on this Commission. One of my plights is to work with our city officials in forming a gay and lesbian task force so that we do have some direct representation and direct contact to our city and county officials when they are starting to make plans for our city. We want to make sure we are included. LezView shows the diversity of who we are an all of the talents that we have.
Do you think that when there is public discussion about the LGBT community that too much focus is put on what goes on in the bedroom?
Holly J: I do. There are so many great people doing so many great things despite their orientation or who they are sleeping with. It should not affect things that they do. We're not saying that President Obama sleeping with Michelle affects his job and what he could do. We need to stop looking at who we're sleeping with and concentrate on what we can do for our community.
Ever notice how memories are tied to smell? The scent of a specific perfume or cologne reminds you of that hot night you two spent together during the last snowstorm. Or a whiff of an ex's signature scent, be it soap, cologne or perfume, makes you think about sending a text message or post on their Facebook wall to see how they're doing — despite the fact that he or she ripped your heart to shreds.
That's the power of smell.
Most people underestimate the sense of smell and the overall effect it has on our emotional, mental and physical state. Specially blended aromas can subtly set the stage for sensual and memorable encounters.
Creative Loafing headed to Sophie's Soaps and Such in Uptown Charlotte to find out what scents are a turn on. Owner and mixologist, Sophie B. President, has been creating scents for 10 years and said that aromatherapy impacts a person's brain because when you smell something, it is transcribed into your body and your memory.
"A lot of us, if you can remember there was a certain song, whenever you hear it — it brings back those memories. It's the same thing with fragrances. ... That's why it's important, when you make products to make it where it will invoke good memory," she said.
So, if smells can make you feel good, can they also make you want to get it on? President answered that question and more.
Creative Loafing: To invoke good memory and pleasure, what are some popular fragrances?
President: A lot of people that I deal with like lavender and of course it has therapeutic properties. Rose petals and roses, chocolate. And sandalwood is said to be very sensual.
What would you say are some fragrances for men that women find attractive?
Well, that depends on your taste. Several of my customers are men and their fragrance desires run a big gamut. Most of the men, though, fall into the heavier fragrances — very earthy and spicy. Like patchouli, which is a very musky, heavy fragrance, and it smells really good. But I have some men that like baby powder [scent]. It's not a real sensual oil, but they like that clean smell. I tend to like the very heady and heavy fragrances, you know where you just smell like a man. As long as a man is clean and smells good, that's what's important.
What about women? What do men like on women?
That's hard to pinpoint, but I have found that most of the women like a combination of a citrus and a heavy fragrance. So, I have a soap that is a patchouli and an orange. It depends on how much orange I add as to how light the fragrance becomes. So, the majority of the women I know like that fragrance. That patchouli really gets you. But I have some very light fragrances, too.
If someone is trying to create a romantic evening and they want to use aromatherapy, what are your suggestions for getting the mood right?
I generally would use a combination of things, it would be roses. Even better, let me give you my favorite combination: ylang ylang and sandalwood, a shot of vanilla and a shot of patchouli. That is what I call my "sensual massage oil" combination. Aside from just putting some candle out, you can include a massage in your evening. Bathing works very well; put essential oil in the bath water. And you can even do each other's hair. When you prepare an evening with food, fellowship, combing the hair and the whole nine yards, that really works. Guys really get into combing your hair. You put the oil in your hair and the oil has the aromatherapy. He combs your hair and gives you a bath; that is a wonderful and romantic evening.
You can find more sensual fragrances and President herself on Facebook or a www.sophiessoapsandsuch.com.
There is one tip she wants everyone to know: "Nothing smells worse than fresh oil on a sweaty body." So, before you add these sexy smells, hit the showers first!
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