Reading “Show Yourself To Me: Queer Kink Erotica”

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Show Yourself to Me

Full disclosure: I don’t often read erotica. I can’t totally explain why. It may just be that I have a short attention span and a colossal stack of books. For whatever reason, I am prone to starting erotic anthologies and never finishing them.

So, I was both honoured and nervous when Xan invited me to a be a part of the Show Yourself To Me: Queer Kink Erotica blog tour. What if I didn’t get around to finishing it? What if my desires weren’t kinky enough? I had never written an erotica review before!

But, WOAH. I really had nothing to worry about. Show Yourself to Me is one consuming book to be reckoned with. It grabs you by the collar and keeps you forcibly in place. It is rough, dirty, unpredictable and unpretentious. Mostly, it’s just really real.

Xan includes characters that have complex relationships to topping. There are characters that are fat, characters with diabetes, and characters that have to consider their mobility when choosing sex scenes. Xan’s writing defies the gender binary, resists predictable tropes and challenges the reader to reconsider everything they thought they knew about queer kink. Basically, Show Yourself to Me gave me everything I’ve been looking for in erotic stories and then some.

Reading this book left me with the achey feeling of wanting to talk to the characters. While engrossed in Nervous Boy, I wanted to ask the boy where he got the courage to go to the bar that night. While reading The Test, I found myself wanting to be with the women in the bathroom stall (if they’d have me). My favourite story was The Tender Sweet Young Thing. I wanted to speak with Dax about the complexities of being a disabled top. I wanted to exchange potluck recipes with Mikey. I wanted to ask Téo what it meant to him to describe his gender as being a “tender, sweet, young thing”.

This book is a challenge in the best way. If you want to explore kink, it’s for you. If you want to read about trans and non-binary folks fucking, it’s for you. If you want to see disabled people getting off, then this book is your bag.

Lucky for you, finding Xan West’s Show Yourself to Me is easy. You can buy it in e-book or print at Go Deeper Press. Or, you can pick it up at Barnes & Noble.

If I haven’t convinced you and you want to read more about Show Yourself to Me, check out other posts from the blog tour. A full listing can be found at Xan’s blog, Kink Praxis.

Hot, Wet & Touring

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HWS

 

It has been an exceptionally long time since I checked into The Fucking Facts. So long, in fact, that someone once told me that by internet standards, I was dead. Well. I have my excuses. I was quite busy. I spent about a year writing the above book, titled Hot, Wet & Shaking: How I Learned to Talk About Sex, and then I spent about another year agonizing over every single word I have ever written or spoken aloud, ever. Self-doubt is a time intensive project.

But no matter how comfortable it can be, even trepidation and self-flagellation gets boring and redundant. I am coming out the other end of all my book-related anxieties and celebrating by going on a road trip. Soon I will officially be Hot, Wet & Touring. Along with as many friends as I can feasibly fit in my car, I am going to head West. We’ll be riding in a Corolla with a trunk full of books and stomachs full of Cheetos, M&Ms, and other roadside snacks. I expect it will be glamorous, and probably pretty gassy too.

If you would like to check us out along the way here are some places I will be reading and signing books (more dates TBA!). It would be great to meet you. Writing words to unseen audiences can get lonely. Faces are helpful.

If you can’t come out, you can follow our Hot & Wet chronicles on Twitter, @TheFuckingFacts.

Thursday Sept 11, Halifax: Kings College Bookstore, 7 PM

Monday Sept 15, NYC:  Bluestockings, 7 PM

Tuesday Sept 16, MTL: Cafe L’Artere, 7 PM

Wednesday Sept 17, Ottawa: Venus Envy, 7:30 PM

Thursday Sept 18, Toronto: Steelworker’s Hall, 7:00 PM

Friday Sept 19,Toronto: The Holy Oak, 7:00 PM

Saturday Sept 20, Guelph: University of Guelph, 3:00 PM

#ASK FIRST

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So, this is what happened.

I heard Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ (who hasn’t?) and had one of those visceral reactions that you aren’t sure what to do with. My fists clenched. My stomach churned. That acrid taste of vomit reached up into the back of my throat.
Then I saw the music video and actually barfed in my mouth. Actually.
The extreme objectification of women, the laissez faire attitude about crossing women’s boundaries (“you know you want it”?!?), and Thicke’s smug expression were absolutely unbearable. Something had to be done.

Many rad folks have been critiquing Thicke and his shitty, smash hit. The ways in which it legitimizes sexual assault, degrades women, and further upholds rape culture have been written about all over the place. And still the song has continued to top the charts and burrow into our ears. So I wanted to do something different. Rather than write about all of my outrage, I instead went to my pal Mary with the inkling of an idea. She, using her extreme intelligence and amazing vocal skills, took Thicke’s song, rewrote it, and envisioned  a way better, sexier music video. Our friend Brendan shot and edited our vision, and all of our friends danced in it.

To quote Mary:

Art is powerful, and we are in awe of rad artists who write political rhymes. Writing this song and making the video is one of the ways we’re doing our best to promote enthusiastic consent and sex positivity in a shitty, heteronormative, patriarchal culture that objectifies women, normalizes rape, and blames survivors for their assault because they had “blurred lines” or because something they said, did, or were wearing made their perpetrator “know they wanted it.”

We don’t want to have to listen to Robin Thicke tell us he knows we want it over such a damn catchy beat. We wanna dance to music that’s sexy and radical.

The woman is a fucking genius. I can’t say it any better. So, I will leave it at that.
Enjoy! Please consensually get down to our version as often as you see fit.
See the original vid here, and download the song to play at all your sexy parties here.

(Lyrics & Credits below)

Lyrics

Everybody listen up
Everybody listen up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say
If you can’t read from the same page
Just watch this video
Baby and then you’ll know
To respect your lover’s lines

So he is popular, played on the radio
Makes money in rape culture by degrading you
But we don’t have to take it
Hey, hey, hey
No we can recreate it
Hey, hey, hey
Just let me demonstrate it

And that’s why you need to ask first
No way to know I want it
No way to know I want it
Unless I say I want it
Ask first
Consent is sexy
Shows you respect me
I’ll tell you what I need

Ask first
No way to know I want it
No way to know I want it
Unless I say I want it
Ask first
Cause if you grab me
I’ll get nasty
I’ll break your fucking knees

Why do fucking dudes think
a skirt means I want their dick?
I can get myself off
Keep your penis in your pants, Robin Thicke
Are you compensating?
Hey, hey, hey
You think you’re x-rated?
Hey, hey, hey
This what you teach your babies?
Hey, hey, hey

So he is popular, played on the radio
Makes money in rape culture by degrading you
But we don’t have to take it
Hey, hey, hey
No we can recreate it
Hey, hey, hey
Just let me demonstrate it
Hey, hey, hey

And that’s why you need to ask first
No way to know I want it
No way to know I want it
Unless I say I want it
Ask first
Consent is sexy
Shows you respect me
I’ll tell you what I need

Ask first
No way to know I want it
No way to know I want it
Unless I say I want it
Ask first
Cause if you grab me
I’ll get nasty
I’ll break your fucking knees

One thing I ask of you
Could I be the one who goes down on you?
Love the taste of you, the smell of you
But if you’re not into it that’s cool too
So just let me know if you want me to
Or tell me other things you like to do
Strap ons, butt plugs, back rubs and lube
If it’s consensual then it’s all cool
If you’re not feeling it, babe it’s fine
Then we can just go out to dine
Take you to the movies or for a swim
And you don’t owe me a single thing
You know I love when you ask what I want
And what I want now is your mouth on my cunt
Suck hard, lick soft, slip your fingers in
I want them all, but thanks for checking in!

Pass the vibe, get down, get up
Does that feel good? Does that feel good?
Baby like it should
Hey!

Don’t worry, I got dams, condoms, gloves to use for later
It’s good to come prepared, I like when sex is safer
Here’s my confession
Hey hey hey
I like these check ins
Hey hey hey
‘Fore we get sexin’

And that’s why you need to ask first
No way to know I want it
No way to know I want it
Unless I say I want it
Ask first
Consent is sexy
Shows you respect me
I’ll tell you what I need

Ask first
No way to know I want it
No way to know I want it
Unless I say I want it
Ask first
Cause if you grab me
I’ll get nasty
I’ll break your fucking knees

Everybody listen up
Everybody listen up
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

Credits

Dance Dance Revolutionaries:
Alia
Beige Taupe
Brendan Anckaert
Cat
Emily “Bass Face” Davidson
J. Mary Burnet
Kaitlyn Ruth
Kaleigh Trace
Ma’am Stash
Rebecca R.
Smarzipan
Swayback
Tamara Huxtable
Vee

Directors: J. Mary Burnet & Brendan Anckaert
Videographer & Editor: Brendan Anckaert
Written & Performed by: Kaleigh Trace & J. Mary Burnet
Thank you One Block Barbershop and Venus Envy

BRB.

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Shit has been happening in 2013.
The result: I haven’t been blogging.
And despite my fascination with my oral health (as evidenced above), I haven’t been spending all my time worrying about tooth decay either.
I’ve been doing that part time, for sure, but I have also been preoccupied with all sorts of things.

For one, the sex shop I work at is getting older and bigger and better, and to celebrate we are throwing a big old party. I am honoured to play the role of Host. I am going to wear fake eyelashes for the first time ever. If you are in Halifax you should come and check out how silly they will look, and even better, dance to the wild beats of DJ Regalia and DJ SWAYBACK. It’s gonna be a time.

For two, I have been doing fun and exciting things that sex experts get to do. Way back in March I was part of a round table for HuffPost Live called Bringing Sexy Back, where me and three other professional sex educators, professors, and sex toy designers talked about the sex toy economy. When watching this video you should know that though I may look semi professional in my fancy glasses, I am actually sitting in my bed in my tiny attic apartment, and below the waist I am only wearing boys underwear.
Oh, and, I am going to Guelph, Ontario in June to speak at the 35th Annual Guelph Sexuality Conference. Brilliant sex educators like Tristan Taormino and Cory Silverberg will be there doing their things, teaching us stuff. I am speaking about sexual health and (dis)ability, which is my absolute favourite topic. So I have been busy with that, worrying over what I should say & wondering over what I should wear. What does one wear to a sex conference?!

For three, and I think this one is the biggest deal of ’em all, I am writing a book?! It is actually, honestly and truly, one of the most exciting & terrifying & nerve-wracking & honouring projects with which I have ever been tasked.
In February, I signed a contract with the very impressive independent publishers Invisible Publishing. Check out their books. They are beautiful and brilliant and so fucking cool. And, within a year, a book written by me will be amidst their roster! Woah.

So, in sum, I am busy as shit. And as happy as a pig in shit too. And to continue with the various uses of the word shit: I don’t how the shit I am going to do it all.

To help with this, to narrow down my responsibilities,  I am gonna say BRB! to blogging.
I will be back, saying (hopefully) helpful and funny thing soon. As soon as I can.

Until then, please find your sex information from other resources. Personally, I would avoid Cosmo and all of their 69 Tips To Make Your Man Go Wild. They are always so redundant and boring.  Instead, some smarty-pants sex talkers can be found here and here and here.

I’ll miss you!
I’ll BRB!
Wish me luck!

On rape culture.

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Trigger warning: This article talks about rape and sexual assault.

Yesterday* I sat down to write a blog post. It has been a long time. I have been busy, and things have been happening that I have felt unsure how to comment on as someone who writes about sex. Specifically, there was that fucked up Girls Ep (spoiler) where Adam has sex with a woman that she does not want to have, that does not make her feel good. But we, the viewers, are somehow expected to empathize with him because it’s not his fault that he’s fucked up and hurts people? And then there was Steubenville, and everyone was talking and talking and talking  about it. And it felt like so many people and journalists and media outlets were doing such a fucking bad job of talking about it. It seemed as though sex and consent, partnered with rape and sexual assault, had become super hot topics and everybody was throwing in their two cents. And while such public discourse around rape made me feel good, it also made me feel weird. It feels powerful to engage in a discourse of consent with all sorts of different people. It felt hopeful to watch women and girls, such as Steubenville’s Jane Doe, come forward and share their stories with such strength and bravery. But, it also felt hard to look at. It also felt difficult to talk about. Talking about rape hurts me. It hurts a lot of people. It is not an easy conversation and the way that it seemed to be happening everywhere made me feel conflicted.

So, yesterday I began writing a blog post about the importance of talking about consent, and the importance of talking about rape, but also about the importance of remembering that these issues are delicate. I wanted to write about how we should always give trigger warnings before we start talking about rape. I wanted to write about how we should consider people’s histories before we engage in heavy discussions about sexual assault. I wanted to write about how hard these conversations can be and how they should happen softly.

And then the story of Rehtaeh Parsons came out and filled my news feed. And I stopped writing.

Rehtaeh’s story is so heartbreaking that it is hard to talk about it. Part of me doesn’t want to look at it. Part of me wants to pretend that these stories don’t happen. So, I stopped writing that blog post. I felt fully unequipped to write about rape in the face of such a painful rape story. I went to the sex shop I work at. I spent the afternoon talking about sex. The conversations were light and easy. I taught a man about his prostate. I helped someone pick out a dildo and harness. It felt good. It felt important. Sex education always does.

I finished my shift and went to the pool. I had been actively trying not to think about Rehtaeh all day. I did not want to think about Steubenville. I did not want to imagine the ways in which women’s bodies are hurt and demeaned and policed and degraded. In the change room, another woman recognized me. She was naked and so was I, and we stood there in our naked bodies, bodies that are strong but that can be hurt, bodies that are subject to violence, bodies that for all their beauty we are taught not to love. She thanked me. I had given a lecture to her class about the sexual health needs of persons with disabilities. I had brought in sex toys that can be adapted for folks with different abilities. This woman had never touched a sex toy before, and she thanked me for the opportunity. She told me she had never had an orgasm before, and sex made her nervous but excited, and she was so grateful that she had been exposed to sex toys in such a safe space. She wanted to come to the store and talk to the staff, to learn more about her body.

And that’s when I realized that if it is important to talk about sex lightly, it is just as important to talk about it with weight too. If I am sure that fun and informative sexual health education is important, than I am sure that talking about rape, and sexual assault, and violence against women & trans people’s bodies is important too. Even when it feels hard. Even when it hurts.

Rehtaeh’s story is unfortunately not an anomaly. In Canada, one in every seventeen women is raped at some point in her life. And girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 are the most likely victims. This happens because we live in a rape culture. To borrow from Force:

“In a rape culture, people are surrounded with images, language, laws, and other everyday phenomena that validate and perpetuate, rape. Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.”

When a woman is raped and people imply that she was asking for it because she was drunk, or because of what she was wearing, that is rape culture. When someone says “Man, I totally raped that exam” to mean that they did well on it, that is rape culture. When comedians make rape jokes, when girls and women are called sluts, when police officials and other systems of “justice” don’t protect women; that is rape culture.

Our society normalizes rape. It normalizes violence against women. The structures of patriarchy that inform our societal belief systems are dangerous foundations. Patriarchal and misogynist ideas teach boys to hurt girls, and teach girls not to love their bodies. It teaches us that women’s bodies are objects of sex. It teaches us all that men can’t control their “natural” urges. It teaches us all that there is a gender binary, that men are one way and women are another and that there is nothing in between. It teaches us to not speak openly and shamelessly about sex and pleasure, though we see it every day, on T.V and on the internet.

And so stories like Rehtaeh’s will keep happening and keep happening and keep happening because no one is being taught otherwise. Media outlets will talk about the criminal justice system failing  but this doesn’t account for the fact that the criminal justice system is a failure as a whole. Of course it is a failure,  because it too is informed by sexism and racism and classism. It too lays atop a foundation of patriarchy and oppression. If these boys who hurt Rehtaeh go to jail, will they learn how not to rape there? Will the Steubenville boys ever be taught that their actions were wrong? Will prison really teach them this? I don’t believe that it will. I don’t believe that the criminal justice system will deconstruct rape culture and tear down patriarchy. These systems will fail us time and time again because their basis is not one of equality but is one that perpetuates oppression. And, to be clear, I am not saying that the boys who hurt Rehtaeh should not be punished. I am saying I would not rely on the criminal justice system to dole out justice at all. I am arguing that we need alternatives.

And so I don’t know where to go from here. I don’t know what to do with Rehtaeh’s story, with so much heartbreak.

But I do believe that words have power. I do believe that when these stories happen, if we talk about them and talk about them and talk about them, and talk about them fairly, our words can affect change.

And so, I am sitting here, rewriting this blog post because I believe that part of annihilating rape culture is talking about it. And I know that it is hard to talk about. I know that even the word “rape” has the power to cause pain. Sticks and stones may break our bones but words may break our very hearts. Words have weight. And so I think we should use the strength of our words to talk about rape culture, to talk about patriarchy and misogyny.

Let’s talk about consent. Let’s teach our children and our lovers and our friends about respecting boundaries and respecting one another’s bodies. And let’s talk about how women should be treated with respect at all times, from when they are walking down the street to engaging in consensual sex. Let’s talk about what sexual assault can look like and who perpetrates it. And as we talk, as we speak without shame, lets hope that we are building a culture of consent. Let’s hope that we are creating an awareness around how sexual assault happens. Let’s hope that we are working to support survivors and let them feel love.

And as we speak, let’s remember to be gentle with one another. Let’s remember that these conversations are important but not easy. Let’s remember that survivors walk amongst us, with all their strength and courage, and let’s take care of each other. Let’s give trigger warnings. Let’s ask if someone feels like talking about rape right now, before barreling into the conversation head first. Let’s take care.

Some more resources:

If you would like to learn more about practicing good consent, go here and here.

If you are a survivor of rape and/or sexual assault and living in Halifax, Nova Scotia, go here and here.

……………………………..

* I began writing all this days ago, but talking about rape culture is difficult. It took awhile.

A Note on Shame

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self interest

Why am I doing this?

Maybe it is the ache-y uncomfortable start of a New Year*, all the resolutions, all the reflecting and redirecting. Or maybe it is my frequently mentioned (and constantly felt) awkwardness surrounding my  weird reputation as a “blogger”, or even weirder, a “sex expert”. Whatever the reason, I have found myself feeling a nagging need for introspection. I wonder: why am I writing all of this, running my mouth ( and fingers) off all of the time? Who is it serving? What am I hoping for? Where is it going, and how will it get there?

Big questions, some unanswerable.  I suppose most of those Big Questions, when applied to our individual ambitions, often are. The purpose gets muddled or entirely lost as we propel ourselves through our worlds, grabbing & leaping & failing & winning at opportunities.  It is easy to just start doing rather than thinking, acting rather than feeling. Follow the pattern, perform the duty, complete the task.

But, in these rare moments when I do stop to think, I remember that there was once a clear and defined purpose that had led me to start writing.

I had wanted to write about the light and the heavy.
I had wanted to write candidly and openly about sex for a series of reasons, all of which stem back to the experience of shame that so many of us sexual animals are subject to.
When I began this blog, my own personal experiences had recently brought me face to face with said sexual shame. I was pressed up against a wall, feeling unacceptable and dirty and all I wanted to do was fight back, scream and shout, tell any one and everyone that I am proud and perfect and undefeatable and unashamed. And I didn’t want to do it alone. I wanted the whole world to yell back with me, to yell back with fierce, unflinching joy and self-celebration. To feel good in each of our bodies, to feel proud of our sexual selves and desires, no matter our inclinations and experiences.

Specifically, shortly before creating this blog I had an abortion. It was one of those pivotal, life-altering things that will forever mark me. Long before this experience, I had figured out that I was a pro-choice feminist, but applying this belief system so directly to my life reaffirmed it. Because even as a strong, powerful, pro-choice feminist, I was seriously subject to and affected by shame, and the shaming of women who are “sexually deviant”** in whatever way. I had to work through my own internalized sense of worthlessness that came from being knocked up and totally alone. I had to face the protestors outside the clinic. And I had to deal with the silence surrounding abortion, had to quietly hold this thing that I had been made to feel was inappropriate to be open about.

But, I’ve never been quiet. And I am often inappropriate. So, I started to write.

In writing about sex so publicly, I had hoped to not only yank out my own personal shame and unpack it, but also help you, dear reader, unpack yours. Because while for me having an abortion was a primary source of shame, we are all made to feel like shit about our sexuality for a myriad of reasons. That is the way hegemonic norms work, you see: they creep into our bellies undetected and swarm around down there like vile little worms, shaping our thoughts and telling us how we oughta be.

When it comes to sex, the “norm” that we are fed goes something like this:

Sex is something we should all be having or want to be having all of the time; and “sexy” is thin, white, straight, able-bodied, and cis-gendered. And unfortunately, this ubiquitous definition is pretty exclusive. Not a lot of bodies fit the bill. People that are queer, that are trans, that are not white, that are of size, that are (dis)abled are all left out. And this exclusion from a mass-produced and mass-consumed idea of human sexuality is a shaming experience. It makes the word “fat” an insult. It makes people of colour an exotic and objectified other. It makes bodies that are trans unsafe in our streets. It makes people who are queer subject to harassment. It makes men feel like they always have to be ready to fuck. It makes women feel like fucking too fast and too often  is slutty. It makes people that are (dis)abled misconstrued as asexual. It makes the act of having an abortion shameful.

All of these experiences are very different. Equating having had an abortion with being a person of colour, for example, would be inaccurate. At the end of each day, I can choose to disclose or not disclose my shaming sexual experience. To the outside world, I can pass as “normal”. I look like a straight, white, cis-gendered girl, with blonde hair and predictable desires. I can smile pretty and duck judgement, hiding behind my performed conformity.

But, while these experiences may not be equatable, they are all interconnected. They are all experiences of deviation from that total bullshit norm and, as such, they are all experiences that could lead to someone being made to feel ashamed. Systems of oppression work in concert like this, excluding, degrading, and putting in danger people who are different. And these normative ideas are rooted deep. They grow up from long-standing and seriously entrenched racist, patriarchal, homophobic belief systems that have been around for fucking ever. Demolishing these norms is a hell of a job. But I think talking (and writing) about sex, in all its beautiful and dirty deviations, is a good starting point. It is a great first rock to throw.

So, that is where I was at when I began this Fucking Facts project. I was stuck on shame and a personal need to annihilate it. I wanted to write about it, and about all kinds of heavy stuff. But, somewhere along the way it has become true that mostly, I just write the light. I like to laugh, and I like when all of you laugh with me. I want to make us all feel comfortable & good & safe in our skin and secure in our sex. And I do believe that approaching things lightly is a pretty affective way of going about it. But, it is not the only way.

And so, as we all wake up, stretch, regroup and push forward into this New Year, I want to try and remember that for all its lightness; for all the fun, the come, the hickies, the multiple orgasms; sex can sometimes be heavy and hard and full of fucked up feelings. These heavy parts have a place too.

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*I did in fact begin this essay when the year was still fresh and reflecting on new beginnings was still relevant.

** And by sexually deviant I mean not complying to those hegemonic & heteronormative ideas of acceptable expressions of womanhood, femininity, and sexuality.

Top 100 Sex Bloggers of 2012!

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Woah.
I didn’t even know this list existed!
But, evidently, I made the cut.
Thanks Between My Sheets, for jamming all us sex bloggers together into one seriously smutty roster.
Thanks, and congrats, to all other winners for being out in the world, on the internet, doin’ dirty things.
The top 10, the hottest of the hot, are below.

Enjoy!

1. Molly from Molly’s Daily Kiss

2. EA from Easily Aroused

3. Hyacinth Jones from A Dissolute Life Means…

4. Cheeky Minx from Love Hate Sex Cake

5. Amy from Anal Amy

6. My Trousers Rolled from My Trousers Rolled

7. Sexual Life of A Wife from Sexual Life of a Wife

8. Dark Gracie from Gracie’s Playground

9.diirrty from d i i r r t y

10. nilla from Vanillamom’s Blog