Culture

Cardiff’s Smut Slam: A Place Where Community, Self-acceptance and Sex Stories Connect

By Tabitha Jukes

The open-mic storytelling platform is crafting safe-spaces in Cardiff to share, laugh and discuss inclusive sexuality, real-life sexual stories and experiences in an evening of inclusive entertainment.

 So, what exactly is Smut Slam? Created by artist, performer and sex activist Cameryn Moore in February 2011, the first Slam took place in Boston. Zoom ahead nine years, and the ‘dirty-story telling open mic’ has engaged international audiences, and now has roots and monthly events across North America, The UK, Europe, New Zealand and Australia. Cameryn’s energy, and passion for the project and commitment to facilitating sex-positive events. has seen the platform grow in exciting, and expansive ways with diverse audiences and communities.

This February I attended my first, and long-anticipated Smut Slam experience, and the first Smut Slam hosted at the events new home in Cardiff’s (the glorious, very shiny, and now a little dirtier) Wales Millennium Centre venue. This shift followed having outgrown their previous independent spots, since its beginning in Cardiff in 2018. The new Cabaret Bar venue programmed by Peter Darney of WMC was welcoming. The space is well designed, vibrant and very accessible. The bar served thoughtfully priced soft and alcoholic drink deals (thank you very much from the bottom of my bank account).

The concept is simple, performers sign-up on the night and a lucky eight or so speakers are chosen at random to take to the stage and share a 5-minute dirty story, based on truths and experiences. There were also saucy prize incentives for the top three stories and speakers, provided by Cardiff’s own That’s the Spot online store. But eagerness and audience participation were far from lacking. As part of the audience, you are required to sit, sip or not sip, listen attentively, and most likely laugh, a lot.

Amidst the joy and entertainment of the event, the emphasis on sexual liberation, and creating an environment of respect was particularly important and impossible to ignore. Presented through Cameryn’s and the Slams established code of conduct. The code was shared with the audience to denounce any projections of discrimination and racism, and to be always aware of our values as a community and uphold sexual consent.

 The code was a brilliant manifestation of the event, a light sexual education within a space of fun and comedy. I really appreciated, like much of the audience, having a sincere and sensitive voice to check in and educate every so often. Smut-Slam is ALL people friendly, and unlike many spaces of society there are no feelings of expectation or requirements upon you, your body nor your sexuality. 

The theme of the evening’s stories was ‘Epic Fail’ celebrating stories of mess, mishaps, and the goodness in sexual imperfection. Audience participation was mixed, energetic and funny. Although stories of all kinds are of course welcome at Smut Slam with room for the sad, poignant, funny or awkward tales. The beauty in the evening is the collaboration of honesty and humanity that is shown on stage, meaning the focus isn’t necessarily on humour, nor on making people laugh. There’s no atmosphere of pressure to be anything during the evening, and the reciprocation shown between speakers, audiences and the wonderful selection of panel judges is real.

The celebrity panel is a further representation of both Cardiff’s diverse community and honouring of sexual identities. Participation from figures such as Rhi Kemp-Davies a professional sex coach/educator and owner of ThatsTheSpot Cardiff’s only queer-owned and sex-positive sex toy platform, Serena Caemawr owner of Aubergine café, writer and ableism activist, Peter Darney, WMC organiser and Welsh writer-director and queer representative, Helene Roberts of TactileBOSCH, Linda Furness local Sexual Health Advisor and Jakaranda Smith ensured that the judging and feedback was enriching, conscious and always safe.

I was also able to speak with Duncan Hallis, artistic director and co-founder of Big Loop. A Cardiff-based theatre company co-founded by Duncan, and other founders George Soave, Alice Downing, Cory Tucker and Kitty Hughes. Big Loop works alongside Cameryn to co-produce the Welsh Smut Slam. The collaboration between the two sees the bridging of creatives within the welsh arts industry, and the exceptional Smut Slam platform.

“Smut Slam is a trojan horse. Everyone wants to know about sex and sex traditionally sells, but it’s important work to change whose included or often excluded in these discussions. Sharing in that empowerment is important, from all sides of the sexual and social spectrum. As is carving out spaces for Cardiff’s disadvantaged and underprivileged communities; whilst tackling stigmas regarding normative sexual identity and ableism.” – Duncan Hallis of Big Loop Theatre Company

Smut Slam through awareness, raw storytelling and entertainment is connecting Welsh people and communities often at disparate ends of life. Showing that sex is for everyone, performance and entertainment is for everyone and our Cardiff community is for everyone.

Smut Slam returns to Cardiff on a bi-monthly basis and they will be back at the Ffresh Cabaret Bar at WMC on Tuesday April 7th.

https://www.facebook.com/SmutSlamCardiff/
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