Strangers share stories of their sex lives at Edinburgh’s first ‘smut slam’

Smut Slam has arrived from the US. Pictures: Cameryn Moore
Smut Slam has arrived from the US. Pictures: Cameryn Moore
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Would you stand up on stage and share the most intimate details of your sex life with strangers? In the strangest addition to Edinburgh’s pub scene, it seems lots of people will.

Rebecca Monks from Evening News sister site inews.co.uk was asked to judge the so-called ‘smut slam’. Here’s what happened:

It’s just gone seven o’clock on a Tuesday night in Edinburgh. I’m eating mac and cheese, and trying to decide which real life sex story to share with a group of strangers.

My sex life has always been extremely private, and so the task doesn’t come easily. But I’m judging the city’s first Smut Slam, and if ever there was a time to be honest and open, it’s now.

The history of the Smut Slam Smut Slam is a storytelling event, dedicated to real-life, first-person sex stories.

It originated in North America, and is the brainchild of Cameryn Moore, who describes herself as a “touring artist and professional potty mouth”. The storytellers aren’t professional wordsmiths – anybody in the audience can throw their name in the bucket to speak on stage.

But there are rules.

There can be no costumes or props. Stories are capped at five minutes. The story must be real, and it must have happened to you. There can be no grey area about consent. It cannot be transphobic, homophobic, or in any way prejudicial.

Mac and cheese consumed, I take my place at the judges’ table.

There’s a good 30 minutes until the audience shows up, and Moore wants to make sure that all three judges are crystal clear on the rules.

“Are you okay to share your story if you need to?” she asks, and I nervously agree that I am. It’s not a necessity, just a precaution, as the audience might not be feeling chatty. One way or another, somebody is telling a smutty story on stage.

The actual judging process is surprisingly scientific – three points for structure, three points for performance, three points for adhering to the theme. And then there’s one point awarded for having a little certain something extra.

The audience starts to pile in, and I’m struck by something – there are a lot of people here. In fact, it’s looking like standing room only. Despite the masses, Moore doesn’t round-up her audience with housekeeping rules or a rambling introduction.

Instead, she gets up on stage and starts instantly talking into the mic about the first time she used a sex toy, on a sleeper train in Russia. Slowly, the audience starts quieting down around her. The tone of the night is crystal clear. The person on stage doesn’t have to ask for your attention. The sheer power of sexual openness and honesty does that for you. Moore finishes her story (which has people howling with laughter).

With the room fully warmed up, Moore invites the first set of storytellers on stage. Stories range from ‘The first time I died during sex’ to ‘The first time I accidentally tried BDSM’.

The theme of ‘firsts’ is adhered to strictly but with a lot of variation. Stories range from ‘The first time I died during sex’ to ‘The first time I accidentally tried BDSM’. Let’s not forget ‘The first time I introduced my boyfriend to my partner’.

Some stories are funny, some are sad, but all are engaging. When the interval comes, I am relaxed, entertained and impressed. Moore approaches me, and asks if I’d like to tell my story to open up the second half. Any nervousness is gone, and I’m excited to share an anecdote with this sex-positive, open crowd.

“There’s just one rule,” she adds. “You can’t have any kind of preamble. Even if the audience aren’t listening, just start talking.” I stand up and tell my story. And, no, I won’t share it here. When it’s over I feel exhilarated, and my fellow judge leans in. “That’s how it’s done babe,” she says.

No more smut shaming The Smut Slam is a bit of fun, yes. It’s silly, it’s loud, and it’s a chance to win a novelty sex toy, if that’s your thing. But that said, it’s also an important social tool – it demystifies sex, encourages us all to be open and honest, and is powerfully inclusive. I felt empowered reading that story, and I have respect for everybody else who spoke. It’s encouraging to see Edinburgh embrace a different kind of spoken word, and say no to smut shaming.