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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jenny Block Wins a Lambda Literary Award for "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage"

New York City, May 28, 2009

The Lambda Literary Awards

What an amazing night!

I was so honored to receive a Lambda Literary Award last night for my book "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" (Seal Press, 2008). Thank you to the Lambda Literary Foundation for this wonderful honor.

I was in SUCH shock when they called my name. I had nothing prepared so I did my best to bumble through my thank you's. The evening was so much fun.

(I still can't believe I won!!!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sarah, Plain and Tall at the Dallas Theater Center

So, a short while back I had the chance to interview Joe Calarco, the Director of Sarah, Plain and Tall at the Dallas Theater Center. The show, which was fabulous, is closed and the interview never made it to the paper. So I thought I'd at least share it here.

Block: Can you tell readers a little about “Sarah Plain and Tall”?

It’s a beautiful family musical based on the award winning novella of the same name by Patricia MacLachlan. The show was originally commissioned by TheatreworksUSA, a company that producers theatre for young audiences in New York. The version Dallas audiences are seeing is a much expanded and changed two act version.

Block: How did you come to direct “Sarah Plain and Tall”?

Well I had known Julia Jordan, the book writer for the show, for a long time and I had directed readings of a couple of plays of hers. She recommended me for the project, and I had a conference call with Julia and Larry (the composer) and Nell (the lyricist) and we all hit it off and I got the job.

Block: How do you approach a piece like this that is based on a book that is both well-loved and award-winning?

Honestly, you just trust the material. Julia and Larry and Nell did such a brilliant adaptation that I just felt lucky that it fell into my hands. The really stayed true to the spirit of the novella while adding a great deal of dramatic action as well.

Block: What’s the biggest challenge you faced in terms of staging this particular show?

It’s so beautifully written that honestly I never thought of it as a challenge. Yes, there are hurdles such as how do you stage a scene where two characters swim in a cow pond or stage a sequence that takes place over a series of months and takes place in both Maine and Kansas at the same time, but those challenges are what I love most about being a director. It forces you to use all your skills.

Block: What is it that makes “Sarah Plain and Tall” such a special piece?

This might sound corny but its heart. Nowadays so many musicals have characters that are so blown out of proportion that they seem almost not human anymore. I find it very refreshing that the characters in SP&T are incredible real and human and are totally recognizable to any audience. Their pains and their joys are very real and universal.

Block: Are you ever amazed that bringing such wonderful stories to life is what you get to do for a living?

All the time! I am incredibly grateful that I get to make my living doing what I love to do and I’ve been able to do that for over a decade now. I feel very fortunate.

Block: What’s the best part about directing this show?

It’s one of the “special ones.” It’s a beautiful script and the writers have been incredibly loyal to me over the years. Also half the cast has been with the show since we first workshopped it 8 years ago, and the newer cast members are just as talented and lovely and sensitive. It is a show that has always attracted really good people to it.

Block: Any crazy anecdotes from the rehearsal process you can share?

Honestly no (laugh). It’s been a blissful rehearsal process.

Block: Who should come to see this show?

Everyone. It is a true family show in that it appeals to adults and kids equally for different reasons. And it also appeals to people who just love good theatre. That is why I like it so much. Julia and Larry and Nell have written a very special piece.

Block: Anything else you want to say to potential audience members reading this?

Well, I’ve LOVED Dallas and can’t wait to come back.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Great shirt. Even better cause.

In honor of Gay Pride Month (June), Kenneth Cole is partnering with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), "the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans" in a very cool fundraiser. They're selling limited edition t-shirts that read: THOSE AGAINST SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AREN’T THINKING STRAIGHT (OR ARE THEY?) – KENNETH COLE.

Aside from bearing a great message, it is as soft and comfy as can be!

You can get the tee at Kenneth Cole New York stores,, and for $35.00. 100% of the net proceeds go to the AWEARNESS FUND and HRC.

Plus, during Gay Pride Week, 20% of the evening’s proceeds at the following stores will be donated to HRC:

Los Angeles
June 12, 2009 4-9pm
Kenneth Cole New York Store, Beverly Center

New York
June 26, 2009 4-9pm
Kenneth Cole New York Store, Soho, 595 Broadway

June 26, 2009 4-9pm
Kenneth Cole New York Store, Chicago 540 North Michigan Ave

June 26, 2009 4-8pm
Kenneth Cole New York Store, Dallas North Park

Kenneth Cole’s AWEARNESS is a not-for-profit entity that supports, empowers and encourages acts of service, volunteerism and social change.

Modern Courtesan Alexa

Here's my latest piece for Quick:

The complete interview follows below.

Pretty Woman: A Courtesan Tells It Plain

When Alexa ( joined my Facebook page, I didn’t know what to think. Under career, it read “modern courtesan/professional companion.” I had never known any sex workers and I had a million questions. Luckily, she was thrilled to oblige. Now living in San Francisco, this twenty-three year old Nashville, Tennessee native (who likes to call Fort Lauderdale, Florida her official home) was full of surprises. She is stunning, witty, and incredibly intelligent. Here’s Part One of our interview. Check back next week for Part Two.

How did you get started in the business?

I spent much of my undergraduate work focusing on women and prostitution and became familiar with the work of high-end escorts. I was working as a dancer to pay my way through undergrad and had planned to continue dancing when I moved to California. When I got here, though, I found that just about all of the strip clubs were basically fronts for prostitution. I figured if I was going to have to service customers like that in order to make money, I'd go into business for myself.

What services do you provide?

Basically, clients compensate me for the time I spend with them, regardless of what we do together.

I accompany clients to business and social functions, go on dates or travel with them, and, in many cases, act as a sexual partner. Within the sexual realm, I can be anything they'd like, from the typical "girlfriend experience" to what is commonly referred to as the "porn-star experience" (very aggressive, physical sex).

How do generally find clients?

I've been fortunate in that most of my clients come to me through word of mouth or referrals from other clients or acquaintances.

Are there certain things you will not do regardless of what someone will pay?

I won't do anything that leaves permanent marks or involves hitting me above the neck. I also won't do anything that involves tying me up or restraining me until I am very comfortable with a specific client. And there are some scenarios I won't participate in because they squick me out or violate my personal ethics.

What is the worst experience you've ever had?

Spending two hours with a client and being unable to get him off. For a professional sex worker, that is quite disconcerting the first time it happens.

What is the best experience you've ever had?

I get the most enjoyment out of watching a client's eyes light up when he gets to try something he's fantasized about, like porn scenarios that they are too shy to ask their wives or girlfriends to try. When I tell them yes, it’s like they won the lottery.

Does your family know what you do?

My parents do not know, but I have an older sister who does. I haven't told my parents, not because I am ashamed of what I do, but to protect them from the judgmental idiots who'll think less of them because their daughter is a "whore." My parents think I work for the apartment complex where I live and do computer work on a contract basis.

Do you have a significant other? Does he or she know?

I am in an open, long-distance relationship with another woman (I'm bisexual), who I have been involved with for over three years. She knows and, in fact, I sought her permission first. She was a bit hesitant initially, primarily because of her misconceptions about the job. Now that I've been doing it for some time, she's perfectly fine with it.

Do you have another job as well?

This is my only job. I am also a graduate student as well.

How long have you been doing this?

I started seeing clients professionally in June of 2008, so about one year.

How much longer do you think you'll continue doing this?

I have an exit strategy that calls for me to leave this line of work when I complete my graduate degree next summer. I am saving up the money I have earned and will be using it to start my own business when I return home.

What myths, if any, would you like to debunk for people about your profession?

That escorts are dumb women who can't find another line of work. Many women who work as escorts have degrees, including a substantial number with advanced degrees like PhDs and JDs). In fact, the better educated you are, the more you can make at this.

The higher paying clients want a companion who can talk intelligently, act professionally, and then behave act like a wanton slut when they get home.

There's also the myth that we're all drug addicts. But you can't do this and maintain control if you're strung out on drugs or alcohol, so most of us avoid that stuff like that plague.

What do you have to say to people who think you are being victimized or that you must have experienced some sort of sexual trauma in order to choose this profession?

I explain to them that not only was I not sexually abused, I grew up in what many would consider to be the perfect environment. I had a very loving, supportive family, made good grades, never got into trouble, and was never abused in any way. Sexual abuse is not a precursor to entering sex work.

Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your work?

Sex workers are human beings just like everyone else. We're not what we do any more than any other people are what they do, and we deserve to be treated with the same dignity and respect that every other person is afforded.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jenny Block and Polyamory on Fox and Friends

Here's the segment I did on Fox & Friends on May 12, 2009. Would love to hear what you think of the show.

Reading in NYC

I'll be in NYC reading with several of the other finalists for the 21st Annual Lambda Literary Awards. I hope to see you there!

Date: Saturday May 30th, 8:30-11PM
Admission: Free--Donations welcome
Location: NYC LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th Street, 7-8 Aves
Subways: ACEL123

8PM Doors open for bake sale, book & CD sales


Edmund White: Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel
Honor Moore: Bishop’s Daughter
Jenny Block: Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage
Ron Suresha: Kinsey Zero through Sixty
Christy C. Road: Bad Habits: A Love Story
Rachel Kramer Bussell: Crossdressing
Bobbie Geary: The Janeid
Ann Herendeen: Pride/Prejudice

Monday, May 11, 2009

Polyamory on Fox and Friends

Tune in to Fox and Friends at 6:50a.m. Eastern on Tuesday, May 12. I'll be "debating" with Glen Stanton from Focus on the Family. Wish me luck and let me know what you think!