At first I thought it was a cock ring, but I wasn’t sure because don’t cock rings only go around the penis?

This thing went around the entire big sweet package. I double checked with my friend afterwards and she assured me it definitely was a cock ring. Thank god I went to The Best of HUMP! show Friday night and learned this valuable bit of info.

Let’s take it back a bit. I bet most of us remember when we first discovered porn. For those of us 80s/90s kids, the internet had become common in homes by the time we were teens or little tweeny boppers (even if just barely), and there was usually some time we could count on for exclusive access to the household AOL or Compuserve account.

Fucking around in chatrooms (literally, sometimes) was my personal gateway. It’s probably safe to say this was where a lot of us had our first sexual experience involving someone else (especially for kids who grew up with pretty strict or conservative parents). And I know for me it was a wandering progression starting with those virtual a/s/l exchanges, realizing there was such a thing as “erotica” – which at age 12 was just like really, really cool – and then finding actual videos of people having sex on the internet.

It was weird, kind of gross at parts, but ultimately fascinating and made us feel all kinds of things we knew we wanted to explore further.

What we didn’t want to feel, though, was the experience of someone else finding out that we were feeling those feels. At least not during the act. Viewing porn is typically a solo experience, with the only usual exception occurring among people who already are or plan to be sexually active together.

But that’s all changing thanks to HUMP!

Ten years ago the HUMP! film festival made its debut in the Pacific Northwest, encouraging anyone who’s interested to submit their own independent pornographic video. Since then its popularity has erupted (pun intended, hard) and now runs over the course of several months and throughout a handful of cities outside of the PNW. Curated and hosted by Dan Savage, every year brings a different showcase that ranges from material probably classified as hetero-normative to the exquisitely kinky and almost disconcerting fringes. 2015’s showcase was devoted to the films selected as “best-of” over the years. Here are the highlights from what we thought was most memorable… Or uncomfortable… Or confusing.

One video that definitely burned a hole (heh) in our minds was titled “Twincest.” The scenes switch back and forth between really stoked live actors and animated CG’d embroidered characters… All twins. In sexual acts. To quote the program description, “Nothing like a song n’ dance number about twin incest to cleanse the palate!” We put this in our Confusing category.

“Bedtime Stories” is a new circle jerky take on the classic tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The film opens with two men in bed. One is having trouble sleeping so his sweet partner tells him a bedtime story. Cut to: Curly blonde wigged Goldilocks on his knees with the three bears getting off directly into Goldy’s red beard and matching chest hair. After sharing this enchanting tale the two then create their own storybook classic featuring up-close butt sex and blow jobs. We filed this under Uncomfortable and Still Caused a Downstairs Mixup.

A quick rundown of a few others- “No Artificial Sweeteners” offered up a tasty morsel of tattooed hetero vanilla, while “FUCK”, filmed in black and white, featured a voluptuous naked woman turning us on with spoken word. In “Cyclust” two gals meet biking in the streets and take it to the sheets, contrasted by “The Grocer,” a film about a young man who simply can’t keep his hands off his produce.

In the theater we sat next to a cute guy (Eric) wearing an obnoxious Hawaiian shirt. Eric seemed like a typical nice dude: Friendly, probably a little high, there with a few friends. He explained how he had heard of the festival before, but had never purchased a ticket due to “anxiety of the unknown.” I think we’ve all been there. He finally experienced HUMP! last year when a friend organized the tickets for him. He was a quick convert and told how he was an immediate fan of the sex-positive indie fest. When asked what surprised him that first year, he said a transgender video caught him off guard, but he appreciated being exposed to something he wouldn’t have searched out for himself.

“Isn’t that it?!” I wanted to ask excitedly. Isn’t that the beauty of something like this? It puts things in your face that might (if we’re being honest) downright disturb you at first, but ultimately, creates more open-mindedness. The best thing that could happen is you see something new that totally does it for you – opening up a new world of good strange. That’s what the Aladdin song “A Whole New World” was all about, right?

The worst case scenario is you think, “Eww gross, I would never want to do that.” But that’s still great, because it’s just good to know there are people out there doing it, and then you’ll have further curated what does and doesn’t go into your Sexy Experience Museum. (While appreciating the value of sexual diversity, it is worth noting we thought the curation could stand to include a wider range of ethnicities.)

We cum 😉 to HUMP! to be surprised, shocked, inspired, to see kinky shit we can’t find online, to get turned on, to experience porn with a respectful, sex-positive community – to expand our ideas of sexuality, gender, bodies and all the different ways these can intertwine. …Some really scary, some really fucking awesome.

Eric invited us to a “crazy shirt party” happening later that night. We’ll let you play out in your own mind how the evening went down.

Written by Danielle Purkey and Ashley Mudra