All posts by Mariella A.S. Hudson

Mariella likes to write things, act things, sing things, film things, and live things. The pieces being assembled on her blog, Strange Wild Birds, are what she hopes to be the beginning of her elusive but interesting career. They include fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drawings and photographs, which are all her own.

Interview: Jay Smooth, Porn Actor & Model

My long-awaited interview with the charismatic and fiercely opinionated Jay Smooth has been published by Sex+ magazine! We talk sex education, mainstream vs ‘pretty’ porn, what it’s really like to work on a porn set and much more. Here’s a teaser:

 

I think that we are artists; I think we are doing things that shouldn’t be stigmatised and shouldn’t be negatively approached. We create positive energy. We spread sexuality, which is a positive force. We wouldn’t be here if it were not for sexuality, for sex!

 

You can follow Jay on Twitter at @JaySmoothXXX.

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Anxiety, Sex and Relationships

Thrilled to have my own guest blog on 1000 Ways To Be Fearless! Please share far and wide!

1000 Ways To Be Fearless

Tips For Dealing With Anxiety in Sexual Relationships

Guest post by: Mariella Hudson

Figuring out sexual relationships is an activity fraught with emotion, what with the excitement, nerves and intense chemical reactions sparking neurons all over the place. If you have anxiety issues, the natural ups and downs can trigger distressing fight-or-flight responses – the last thing you want when you’re trying to get it on! As someone who has experienced her fair share of sexual anxiety and a variety of issues in tandem – depression, vaginismus, vulvodynia and mild PTSD – I’d like to offer a few tips for those uncertain how to manage their anxiety within the context of sexual relationships. It can be hard, but it’s never impossible.

Groundwork: The Right Support

Your anxiety is not going to go away without proper treatment. Do make sure you’re in consultation with your doctor and, if possible, a qualified…

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Conversations About Sex

Did you know that women get (clitoral) erections? Or that there are no physiological differences between the sex drives of men and women? Do you think your sexual education was good enough? 

We should all be having Conversations About Sex.

Conversations About Sex is a podcast that examines the cultural, societal and practical reasons why sexual knowledge across the globe is so substandard, and what we can do to improve it. Each episode will take apart a particular aspect of the sex education we all wish we’d had: consent, internet sex, gender roles, and many more. I’ll be inviting professionals from a wide variety of industries to join the discussion, including porn actors, sex educators and health ministers, as well as ordinary members of the public.

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Lina Bembe in ‘Try My Boyfriend’ | © Erika Lust

Get involved

To get involved, you can take this survey about your own experiences with sexual education (or lack thereof). It takes 5-10 minutes.

You can also follow @mariella_hudson on Twitter to follow updates on the project and for all sexual health-related news!

Tweet me with your answers to the following question:

Based on your own experiences or opinions, what should we be telling young people about…

  • consent?
  • LGBTQI+ identity and issues? 
  • porn?
  • internet sex?
  • sexting?
  • sexual dysfunction in men and women?
  • the impact of mental health upon sexual health and relationships?
  • differences in body types and choices?
  • healthy relationships vs. unhealthy relationships?
  • pleasure and figuring out your preferences?
  • navigating cultural attitudes towards sex?

 

Because sex ignorance shouldn’t be a thing.

 

Whiplash

[This review was written upon the release of the film in question in 2014.]

 

Whiplash

Writer/Director – Damien Chazelle

Running time 1 hr. 47 min

Language: English

 

‘I’m glad this movie has been made, because people don’t realize,’ he says to me, walking through night-time Bethnal Green, ‘People don’t realize just how much work goes into being a musician.’ My friend is a former youth chorister and, like me, has filled and thrilled his life with music from a young age. Like me, he also could never have devoted his every ounce of sweat to becoming a truly great musician. Watching Whiplash exhilarates that impulse, pulsating through the fiery rhythms of jazz and a young man’s desire for greatness. It also made me glad I chose life over music.

This is not a cute, uplifting tale of a young soul fulfilling his talent and potential to the absolute maximum. It is a deeply troubling, tense, and darkly thrilling tale of a young soul fulfilling his talent and potential to the absolute maximum – thanks to, but also in spite of, the extreme pressure of an older mentor figure.

The subject of ambition has often been portrayed. The extent to which innocent and positive ambition can grind down a young and vulnerable mind at the very moment it propels it forwards I have never seen depicted, in literature or on the screen, in its particular nuances. It makes you realize that although mainstream movies overwhelmingly star the young over the old, they are awake to the superficial and not the deeper, more pressing concerns of the young mind. Both staggeringly strong and staggeringly fragile, the body and mind of a young person is an agitated container for ambition, a thing that defies containment.

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Miles Teller in Whiplash | Courtesy of Vimeo

Executed with subtlety, precision and intense but understated sensitivity to colours, sounds, and the slightest physical movement, the filmic craft of Whiplash is an aesthetic joy to experience. It allows the film to avoid the common pitfall of clunky, unrealistic dialogue that loudly explains characterisation and points of conflict to the audience; instead, movements, glimpses, and throw-away interactions build up a clear picture of the minor points of psychological tension that permeate the major drive of the plot. The cinematography is as tightly controlled as it is visceral, as if it too were an instrument being coaxed by a conductor’s hand to make an exact and powerful sound. We are aware of the protagonist’s every sensation, and it is gripping all the way through.

Whiplash drives forward on a simple idea, honing in and in as its hero hones his talent, and as I in my seat tense and tense in open-wide horror and joy. It serves as the most powerful kind of warning, both in regards to the unseen social issues it addresses and the thematic question it leaves you with at its close. It is more truly troubling than most films, because it really does end on a question, rather than a sculpted answer hidden in a question. What I take away from it, not everyone will take, and what you take really matters, even after you have left the cinema and stroll with your friends through the cold of a big city.

Go see it. It’s for everyone. And the music is phenomenal.

 

 

Transit

Dispatch from Martinique Paris

Transit

 

The buildings are impossibly tall and narrow, diagonal boulevards, circles and lines. A twenty-degree drop in temperature has me don fleece and Mac for the first time in seven months, and I breathe in air, fresh, fresh air. The spring is back in my lungs.

I imagine what it was like for my Martinican friends when they first made the journey, as so many of them do and must, to Paris. Paris, their capital, and not their capital. Paris, the city of light and simmering prejudice. I think back to all the stories I have heard while in Martinique, all the stories of The First Time In Paris: a math teacher mistaken for the cleaning lady by her students; a teacher forcing his student to go on the school skiing trip because ‘I’d give anything to see a black on skis’; a geography teacher who didn’t know Martinique was a part of France and therefore used French currency; an oblivious student at university asking a peer, ‘So, what are you, mixed race? Because your lips aren’t all that full.’ The list is full to bursting, margin after margin etched with anecdotes of ignorance.

I have so many conversations to write about, I can’t begin to do them justice now. In time, perhaps, I will; for now I have to hastily wrap up my mental goodbyes while the yellow-and-rose-hued sunsets glimmer in the front of my brain.

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I paraglided over Anse Michel.

When I wake up and my feet touch a cold floor, I remember gazing out over my balcony at the silhouette of Trois Îlets against the blue sky and sea, little lights glimmering over its green. When I take the metro I remember holding on tight as my bus sped down a narrow hill road; amidst the silence of city transport I remember shouts of ‘À l’arrêt!’ to stop the chauffeur. A tiny little boy once got on, swamped by a red hooded coat, and asked his mum if he could do it. She nodded. Face alight like a candle, he threw back his head and sang, ‘À l’arrêêêêêêt s’il vous plaîîîîîît!’ Next stop, please!

The wonderful, warm, irrepressible people of Martinique. People greeting people they know or barely know or haven’t seen in a while or just saw the other day. People beeping their car horns as they speed down the highway because they’ve seen someone and want to say hi.

People not taking any shit. I saw a French tourist in a ridiculous sailor hat getting angry at a woman serving him in a shop. She raised her voice only a fraction and said, ‘Monsieur. You’re here on holiday, to relax and have a good time, am I right? So why are you behaving this way?’

Another time I went to the cinema to see an English film in ‘version originale’, that is, without French dub, a very popular event. The film started playing, but – ‘Hey, V.O.!’ people started yelling, as the actors’ mouths opened and French came out. Eventually a staff member stepped out and informed us, sheepishly, that they didn’t have the reels for the V.O. version, and we could either watch the film or collect a refund ticket for another show. A woman two rows behind me, right at the back of the cinema, yelled out at him, ‘Vous n’avez pas d’éxcuse! Vous n’avez vraiment pas d’éxcuse!You have no excuse! You have absolutely no excuse! Outrage! Defiance! Voices that must, shall be heard!

It’s not only the loud sounds I’ll miss. I’ll miss the sounds of the lychée woman on Rue de la République

Sucrées les lychées, sucrées les lychées

the lychees are sweet, the lychees are sweet

The man selling coconut water out of the back of his van by the supermarket, singing an endless triplet tongue-twister

Dlo coco dlo coco dlo coco! Dlo coco dlo coco dlo coco!

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Rue de la République, Fort-de-France

I’ll miss the generosity of strangers; the basic acceptance of a logic that does right by people simply because one should. People would go out of their way, far out of their way, to help me, and when I thanked them, they would say, ‘I know you would do the same for me,’ or, ‘If I do something for you today, you’ll do something for someone else tomorrow, and that’s the way the world keeps working.’

I’ll miss the camaraderie of the friends I made there, and the simple joy and bright complexity of the students I taught. They would wriggle and sing as they drew answers on the whiteboard. They would blow up lab gloves like balloons and bounce them like volleyballs. They would ask questions and work hard and not listen at all and laugh and moan. They were wonderful.

I think the world is a more dangerous place than when I was their age. I was in Martinique when the first round of the presidential election took place. In 2002, Jean-Marie Le Pen was running for president. He tried to visit Martinique, and couldn’t. Why? Because Martinicans flooded the runway, forcing his plane to take off again before it could land. Fifteen years later, a northern province in Martinique, Le Prêcheur, voted for Marine Le Pen. Why? Because of fears of immigration from the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Nevermind that Marine Le Pen hasn’t even visited Martinique, and will never in a thousand years care about inter-Caribbean immigration concerns, amongst a people she would never call her own, whom she – like many French politicians of less controversial parties – would not consider truly French. Across the island, she received only 11% of votes, but in the métropole she is more popular and powerful than ever before, and went head-to-head with newcomer Emmanuel Macron in the final voting round.

I was in Paris when the final round of votes was counted. Although we can breathe a sigh of relief that Emmanuel Macron is today president of France, not Le Pen, what danger to forget how powerful the Front Nationale are today. 10.6 million people voted for Marine Le Pen. My friend Maiva, the Math teacher, a Mélenchon supporter, shook her head and said to me, ‘I thought I’d never again have to vote against a Le Pen. And here we are. People don’t learn anything.’ 10.6 million, and millions more who didn’t vote at all.

I left a Brexit. I taught a class through a Trump inauguration. I woke up surprised – surprised! – to hear that a fascist has not yet come to power in France. Yes, the world is more dangerous. And yet, if it ends tomorrow, although I haven’t come near to living all the life I have to live, it is probable that I could end contented. I struggled at times, while I was in Martinique, with my own ghosts more than anything, and I managed to pull out of myself a core of resistance, a sliver of solid gold.

Of all the wonderful things I saw and did, none compare with the daily challenges and triumphs of teaching those teenagers, the fifteen-year-olds fresh out of collège, the eighteen-year-olds making plans to study or work or change the world, everyone in between, every quirk and question and silent, watchful, youthful eye. From the gay girls and boys who were not afraid to show their love in public and were accepted by their friends without even a shrug; to the girl who pointed at her friend and told me, ‘Remember her name, she’s going to be president one day’; to the young man who had no family, absolutely no one, but smiled warmly and was determined to study and become a politician; so many of them, all of them, the difficult ones and the brilliant ones, all – they really made me very happy, and very proud. It was bittersweet and quietly magical to say goodbye to them, good luck, take care. So if I must go, I can go contented, because I’ve given something small but precious to them: my time, my effort, my talent and my compassion. And I have much more, far more left to give.

I feel a bit like I’ve been in a strange sort of transit, that my time spent on that island was a meaningful transition from one part of my life ending to another part beginning. And I am less afraid than when I was eighteen, because I have been through more, and so I know better what I am capable of, and how much myself I am and will remain, even in the face of things that shake me.

I’ll remember the textures of the sea, the water, and the clouds against the sunsets.

Now for the next thing.

 

All names, other than those of public figures, have been changed. Keep an eye out for dispatches on future adventures by following this blog or via the Twitter handle @mariella_hudson. Thanks for reading.