December 08, 2022

Kiss My Boots by Jennifer Learmont

 

Credit: Jennifer Learmont

Jennifer, Welcome to Authors by Sasha. Kiss My Boots is a memoir described as provocative & steamy reflecting your adventures in the 80's and 90's in Hollywood. What made you decide it was the right time to pen a memoir? 

​I wasn't sure what the right time was to write this memoir, but it started out with my ex-husband writing his own.  I am in a couple of his chapters which didn't shine a great light on me;  it didn't explain where I came from, or where I ended up or why his story unfolded the way it did. He contacted me in 2017 and I worked with him for a couple of years, doing some research.  Then I thought I should write my story from a girl’s point of view.

I was tired of hiding my past;  people would ask me questions and my answers just provoked more questions, so I decided to just put it all out there.  It started out as a journal for my family, but it just took its own journey into a book.  I thought, “take me or leave me but here is the story.”

What was your backstory prior to embarking upon a three month journey to the United States that resulted in a twenty year tenure in the country? 

​My back story was from a very dysfunctional childhood, which I thought was a good segue into why I did what I did, and the choices that I made.  I couldn't wait to go to the USA;  I loved everything about it - the music, the entertainment industry, Tinseltown.  It was very intriguing to me as a young girl;  it was where all my heroes were from.

Adhering to no rules comes with risk. What were you trying to accomplish by abolishing all constraints which could affect your growth and success at a young age?   

Really, I didn't even think of what “no rules” or “no limits” were.  It wasn't a plan;  it was just the way I was, my makeup.  I was a free spirit and I had no plans.  I have to say that time of my life was a time that I lived purely in the moment, not thinking of consequences at all but just living.  It was so exciting;  it was pure freedom.  I’m really glad I got to that; it’s rare. 

What is the greatest risk you’ve taken in life that has paid off?

All the risks that I have taken, whether it be with criminals or being a Domme, paid off because I have an incredible story to tell.  The adventures that I lived in were unique.  I have amazing friends to this day from that life whether it be ex-clients, girls I've worked with or just all the colorful characters I met along the way.  I've always lived life to the fullest and wanted to experience everything, so to me that life paid off in that way. 

Jennifer, what was the younger version of yourself seeking from life and how have your life experiences evolved for what you’re seeking today?

I had a childhood of neglect, no security, going to so many schools, never staying in one place for very long, always being a new kid at school.  I think I was seeking to belong and maybe that's why I experienced everything that was thrown at me, to fit in. Don’t get me wrong;  I was wild and had so much fun seeking all this.

​I have learnt a lot.  Today I'm seeking the opposite: pure health and peace of mind.  I'm also very careful of who I choose to spend time with, but I think I'm still seeking security in some sort of way. 

Having lived the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll lifestyle, what surprised you the most about the celebrity lifestyle?   

Well, as the old cliché goes, celebrities are no different than everybody else;  they still have the same insecurities.  Still, it did surprise me, the sheer decadence and wealth of some of these people, especially with me coming from a poor background. 

What is the greatest misconception about Hollywood?

Well, everybody goes to Hollywood thinking it's this amazing place where your dreams may come true, but in reality it's very dangerous.  It's very dark and it's very sad.  Everybody has stars in their eyes but it's also very hard to avoid substance abuse, especially if it's not going so well.  It's a bad place to just go to without knowing anyone because you’re basically a sitting duck. Having said that, I had some of the best times of my life, saw and heard some of the best music and met some of the best people.  Hollywood's a funny place; it's bright and dark, comic and tragic.  Everywhere has that but in Hollywood it's magnified millions of times.

Credit: Kiss My Boots

Among your adventures referenced in your memoir Kiss My Boots, you’ve also worked as a dominatrix for fourteen years. How were you introduced to the exciting and exotic world of dominatrix prior to becoming a professional in the field?

How I became a Domme was simply that I had met a girl at the gym that thought I was perfect for a Domme:  I was beautiful with a strong personality.  I also needed a job.  I built up the courage to go in and have an interview, and the rest is history. 

Dominatrix represents a woman who physically and / or psychologically dominates her partner in sadomasochistic encounters. It's considered a healthy channel of sexual exploration.   What appealed to you about this lifestyle?  

So to be clear, being a professional Domme does not involve physical sex;  it’s all mind play.  To be a good Domme you have to have tons of empathy and compassion, even be a therapist to these men.  A lot of professional Dommes don’t live the lifestyle out of work.

I feel the job as a Domme filled a very important need for these people.  Where would they go and what would they do without it??  It’s a serious need for many.

What appealed to me with this job was that I met some of the most amazing people, and I was attracted to how bizarre it all was.  I liked seeing the grey side of life and the parts of people that nobody sees;  to me that's very interesting, and that's exactly what you see in this job.  These clients confided in us so deeply, I'm sure they told us things that nobody else on the planet knew about them. Believe me, there was a lot of humor in this job, too;  it could be incredibly funny.

I have definitely learned that you can't judge a book by its cover, some of the most powerful men have some of the darkest fetishes. I did learn that most of these fetishes and needs came from early childhood. I learned to practice the art of non-judgement;  everyone is just trying to get along in this world and some needs of this kind help them.  I've always had a big heart and a lot of compassion, and I became stronger with this job;  I really appreciate it. 

There are many channels present for one to connect with their higher source. How were you introduced to the Interdenominational Church and its activities which also included a gospel choir? 

I was doing a lot of cocaine and one of my clients who was a reformed drunk suggested I come with him to this church called The Sanctuary.  It was right up my alley; there were celebrities, there were rock stars, and there was amazing music.  Everyone was really healthy, and when I heard the gospel choir that was it for me!  Of course, I didn't get involved in the choir right away because I had to pay my dues and attend for a while. Music was in my blood;  all my family were musicians, so I really felt that I  belonged there.​

All the people that went there were musicians, artists or actors;  so many celebrities there.

I couldn't believe how healthy everyone was and when I found out they were into power yoga, they showed me a new way of living which was life-changing.

Labeled as a self-proclaimed fearless child, did you ever encounter fear while living the highs and lows of the American lifestyle? 

Yes, I did encounter fear, but I think I processed it differently than most people.  I was resilient and strong, so I just brushed myself off and kept going.  I never ever felt like I was a victim.  I still have the fearless child in me but I'm a lot more responsible now.  It's different when you're living a healthy clean life;  you make good choices and choose your friends very carefully.

Everyone perceives fear to be different. In your opinion, what is the opposite of fear?

The opposite of fear is living a life without crazy experiences, as the old saying goes;  your life begins at the end of your comfort zone, and that includes fear. 

The memoir Kiss My Boots also presents a survival story. Keeping secrets can be considered a survival skill. Secrets can also be dangerous. What impact did living a secretive life have on your health, heart and sanity? 

Keeping my life secret, I thought, was for survival but it was very damaging.  I felt no one ever really knew me, and how could they?  They definitely didn't understand me because my whole life was a façade.  It was not real and it was a lie, what I told my family and friends was a made-up story.  I wasn't sure what they would think of me.

Every person responds differently when existing outside of their comfort zone. Did you ever encounter homesickness when away from Australia?

I didn't get homesick for Australia so much, but I missed my family a lot.  Once in a while I'd wake up in a panic, wondering “what am I still doing in the US,” but it just kept me hooked and I couldn't seem to leave. 

The book Kiss My Boots has been nominated for Indie Book Awards (Non-Fiction), NSW Premier's Literary Awards (Non-Fiction & New Writing) and Queensland Literary Awards (Non-Fiction).  How would you describe your writing experience from the point of conceptualizing the book to launching it in the market?

My writing experience so far has been mainly cathartic, purging deep things inside me that I have kept bottled up for so long.  Offloading those experiences and putting them on paper make me feel light and free. I had never written anything before or even trained in the art of writing, but I just knew I had to get this down on paper.  I think I did a good job.

What part of the writing process did you enjoy the most when penning Kiss My Boots?

It isn't easy launching your book onto the market.  The whole process takes years with a lot of rejection.  In the end I put it down on paper and no more have to lie.

Were there any parts of the book that were challenging to write?  

I enjoyed the way the words just flowed out of me.  I don't even know where it came from;  it just came out. The pure freedom of it all! I laughed and I cried writing this book;  it was fun and it was a great experience. 

Can you kindly share two writing tips that can benefit new and seasoned writers? 

I think the best tip is to really put out the nitty gritty and don’t hold back.  I think people like the messy side of life.  Be humble and honest, no matter how hard it is to expose yourself, especially if it's a memoir. 

While growing up, what type of literature did you enjoy reading?  

I have to say I didn't get a chance to read a lot because of my unstable upbringing and going to so many different schools.  I did enjoy English and I was into reading a lot of the old classics, which I loved. 

Is there a book that you enjoy reading which you wished you had written?

Catcher in the Rye. 

Jennifer, as a proud Australian, how is the American social culture different from the Australian lifestyle?  

I never thought that Australia and the USA were that much different.  I don't think I ever had a huge culture shock except for the fact that everything's tenfold in America;  it's like Australia in the future.  It's a lot easier in Australia;  the quality of life is a lot better.  

Are there any new hobbies, or endeavors you’ve embarked upon since your return to Australia?

My hobbies now are still yoga.  I'm a marriage celebrant.  I love reading, being really healthy, friends, food, gym, writing and music. 

What exciting new projects are you working on that audiences should keep an eye on?

I'm just about to start a second edition which will start in Hollywood and do a deep dive into all these characters, and especially the Domme world.  

Please share with readers how they can support your work. 

Please follow me on Instagram at jennifer_learmont and also at Shawline Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.

December 01, 2022

Holy Parrot by Angel A

Angel A Joins Sasha in Conversation to Discuss His Latest Book 'HOLY PARROT'. 

Credit: Holy Parrot by Angel A

Overview

Award-winning Australian author and filmmaker, Angel A, releases his second novel 'Holy Parrot'. HOLY PARROT is an innovative novel catering to the emerging millennium that offers new mythology and pioneering solutions to combat suffering. It is a tale that presents an emerging mythology for the emerging Age of Aquarius. The story seeks to bridge the gap between scientific method and spirituality. It also seeks to create religious syncretism - a coming together of religions under a common faith. The book welcomes scientific and curious minds wanting to explore matters and behavior of faith, including people of faith who are curious to learn about potential means to level up in their spiritual journey. After winning a writing competition at age 17, Angel A said, "to awaken the collective conscience, we must awaken each and every soul to their unique path. Each individual is required to transcend their own inhibitions, dramas and self-limiting narratives." These stories represent different examples of such awakenings. Angel A has eight more stories to write which are at various stages of development. Pertaining HOLY PARROT, Angel A continues to share, "mental health is a primary health concern in the modern era. Reflective review of our self-limiting beliefs may be an aspect of the resolution of this problem. The novel offers specific strategies related to this topic.To reveal them here would be a spoiler." Credit: Angel A; AngelsLeap

His literary awards for his prior works include the following: 

2017 Foreword Reviews Indies Book of the Year Award Finalist 
2018 American Fiction Awards Winner
2018 Best Book Awards Winner
2018 NYC Big Book Award Winner
2018 International Book of the Year Finalist
2018 Paris Book Festival Runner-Up
2018 Readers' Favorite Finalist
2018 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Finalist
2018 London Book Festival Honorable Mention
2018 Book Viral Millennium Book Awards Long List
2018 New Apple Book Awards Official Selection
2018 Body, Mind, Spirit Book awards Winner
2019 Independent Press Award Winner
2019 New York Book Festival Winner


Meet the Author - Adam Mackey

Credit: Adam Mackey (Angel A)

November 27, 2022

The Fog Always Lifts


Credit: Sasha Laghonh

Excerpt from "Fog" penned by Sasha Laghonh


Life can be challenging as we drive through the fog in the rain, we struggle for visibility when mother nature clouds our view. Similarly, the everyday emotions and biases we breathe in and out thrive as fog which hinder our ability to truly see life for what it is ... at face value. We can't control mother nature although we can control how we approach life matters.

It may take a chance encounter, or a monumental event for our heart's compass to start pointing North. When we resist the flow of life, it will reflect circumstances that become more challenging to resolve because our human egos (or perhaps naivety) lead us to believe the divine compass is absent, or even broken in our lives. The divine compass is not engineered to malfunction.

It's 'divine' after all, right?

The truth is we humans fail to make an effort to learn how the compass works. Perhaps some people know how to work a compass but they choose to side with impatience by taking matters into their own hands without consulting with their higher power. 

Life works in mysterious ways. 

A stranger can come into your path to deliver a message but you discount their presence because your divine compass is absent. You fail to read the situation well because you have lost sight of who you are and therefore everything in your reality becomes a blur. What you thought was real was only a mirage. What you thought was a hoax turns out to be real. It comes down to your beliefs. When you're ready to believe in something greater than yourself, the answers will appear clear before you.

Buckle up. Now turn on your windshield wipers and drive to your destination. 

November 23, 2022

The Myth of Normal by Dr. Gabor Maté

 

Credit: the Myth of Normal


Overview

In the Myth of Normal, renowned physician Gabor Maté eloquently dissects how Western countries that pride themselves on their healthcare systems are actually seeing an upsurge in chronic illness and general ill health. Prescription drug usage, high blood pressure, mental illness, and so many other troubling issues are on the rise. Dr. Gabor Maté is A renowned speaker, and bestselling author highly sought after for his expertise on a range of topics including addiction, stress and childhood development.Credit: Dr. Gabor Maté



November 18, 2022

Faith Still Moves Mountains

 

Credit: Faith Still Moves Mountains

Overview

We need reminders of God’s power now more than ever. We often think about prayer as a wish list, with God as Santa Claus. The reality is that the power of prayer reminds us not only how small we are, but also how big God is. Prayer is hope put into action. And prayer works. From the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in Haiti to the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, believers testify to how God inspired hope even when all seemed lost. Two teenagers who were saved from treacherous seas by a vessel named Amen now give thanks for the rescue that changed their lives. A woman’s near-death experience with COVID-19 turned out to be the crisis freeing her from despair. Others speak to how prayer helped them navigate family trauma, overcome abuse, and cope with mental illness and depression. Historical accounts of miracles testify to God’s power throughout time, and Faulkner recounts the role of faith and prayer in her own life and the life of her father. Credit: Premier Collectibles; read more here.


Credit: Harris Faulkner

Meet the Author

Harris Faulkner is a Six-time Emmy award-winning anchor and nationally bestselling author of 9 Rules of Engagement: A Military Brats Guide to Life and Success. Faulkner joined FOX News Channel in 2005 and currently anchors two daily daytime programs The Faulkner Focus and serves as the co-anchor of Outnumbered. Outside of her work as a journalist, Faulkner is a motivational speaker, writer, and philanthropist. 

November 10, 2022

Cindy Di Xin Discusses Filmmaking & Emotions

 

Credit: Cindy Di Xin, Filmmaker


Cindy, can you share with us how you were introduced to the art of filmmaking?

Mine was really simple. Things that inspired me were my own experience and loneliness. I am the only one who has experienced all of the dramatic moments, then I started to feel lonely in my life. I tried to share with my friends by telling them, but I couldn’t bring them into my scenario and feelings. After I studied communication in my undergrad, I got to know about visual arts. I started to shape my and other people’s story with motion pictures and sounds, then I met the charm of filmmaking.

There are many modes of storytelling which include writing, photography, still art, etc. What makes filmmaking to be a powerful tool for communicating stories about life?

​In my opinion, filmmaking is a combo within writing, photography, music, and other platforms of arts. It combines all the beauties from each of the modes to one thing that can stimulate the audience all at once, which makes the audience explore and get into the motion arts journey as how they experience their own life. This kind of experience is powerful.

As an Alum from the School of Visual Arts in New York, can you please share your academic experience when working on your first degree in directing? From all the specialties to explore in film production, what made you gravitate towards directing?

It was my first time having a chance to get to know filmmaking and what a director is. It was an intense and concentrated program that let you get to know about the filmmaking industry in a professional way. Our professors were super supportive and tried to make you successful in your own artistic way.

I always think directing is the most difficult job in film production, but also it is the most exciting job. I enjoy collecting and supporting each department’s artist to create new things based on their understanding of the story. The director also has a role to make sure everything is on the same page and have good communication. I love to be a listener to my crew and help them solve all of the problems. The director is the person who gives the direction, and also is the person who tries to collect all of the outcomes from each department towards the final destination. For instance, I love working with actors and their performances always give me so many inspirations to leverage in my work and life.

What is your directorial style? How does it differ from other directors in how they approach their craft of storytelling?

I don’t know if that is my unique way or not. Hahahah! Instead of just giving my actors instructions, I always want to hear more from them. I enjoy making a connection between the actors’ real-life experiences and the characters in the movies, then letting them use that relationship to improvise or come up with something new. Together with the performers, I like constructing the character.

What is one non-negotiable element (or rule) of film making that all directors must adhere to?
Safety is first. Nothing deserves anyone’s life.

Cindy, as a transplant from China, what were your initial impressions of the United States and its people?

Nothing has a right or wrong answer. I remember when I just transferred to an American high school. I was really impressed that everyone was eager to express and share their feelings and opinions. When I was in Chinese school, it was rare to see many students raise their hands up; because we always have a mindset that there is a right answer to each question.

You’ve had the privilege of living in a few states within the United States, how have these experiences shaped your senses in how you narrate your stories before global audiences?

​I’ve lived in lower and upper states on the east and west coasts, and these experiences have made me aware of how backgrounds influence people. Background factors include family, personal experience, weather, and locale. These encounters gave me incredibly beneficial chances to get to know all types of individuals, and they also helped me develop a character for a tale. Furthermore, I discovered that nothing in the world is liked by everyone. However, if you create a story that is authentic to you and plausible, some others will identify with it.

Presently short films are trending in the markets. Why is this trend gaining momentum on different online and offline platforms?

In my opinion, the main cause of this is that people’s lives and jobs are moving much more quickly and intensely than they did in the past, and technology makes it possible for individuals to obtain information more quickly and easily. Because of this, people would rather use or spend less time enjoying or taking a break from their life or between their jobs. The condensed substance of short films is similar to that of other resources that people are using in the present. Because of this, short films are popular in today’s markets.

Cindy, you’ve mentioned “let the story determine how long it lasts”. Is there a rule of thumb you’ve established under which a story can be told in an undefined time frame? If a story runs long in film, do you believe it should be delivered to audiences in one delivery, or should the story be presented in a few movie sequels, i.e. trilogies?

​Based on my experiences, I think character driven stories should be told in an undefined time frame because a character driven film is just like a journey you want to bring your audience on and feel. I do believe some of the stories can be presented in a different chapter or a few sequels. Everything has its own stages. If putting the story into several movie sequels can make the audience have a better understanding or tighter connection, I think we should break the story into pieces. In a movie, telling a story is not only about starting a plot; it’s about using a story’s elements to engage the audience’s hearts and minds.

What type of stories are best told in a short film? Which stories are better aligned to be presented in a long filmmaking format?

A short film should, in my opinion, have a straightforward, simple plot or setup with dramatic twists so that the audience may be hooked quickly.

It would be more of a character-driven or character’s journey film for a long film format. Additionally, a story that is based on the creation of a new universe or a new society should be presented in the form of a lengthy film.

As the recipient of the International Independent Film Awards and Tokyo Film Awards, what was your reaction when learning that your work is raising awareness on the global stage?

​First, I am so grateful and happy that my work has been seen and connected with other people. Second, these awards encourage me to believe in my own works and give me more confidence in my creations. Additionally, they demonstrate to me that a well-developed story may be tied to and connected to a larger world than just the close surroundings.

The movie VOICELESS is a true story which explores complicated emotions involving a student who is sexually assaulted by her mentor. The film sheds light on voiceless victims that are granted an opportunity to be seen and heard through this powerful presentation. What was the process like from articulating this true story to recreating the story for an on-screen presentation?

I have talked to people who may or may not have the similar experiences and tried to understand their feelings and their actions. Most of the answers I got are isolation and silence with different kinds of trauma nightmares. In order to make my audience feel all of those feelings in a dramatic way, I created this intense and dramatic action for the character at the end of the film.

When casting characters for your film, how involved are you in the process? Is there a team of professionals conducting auditions for these roles? What type of attributes do you seek when casting actors and actresses in your films?

As all of my films are independent and low-budget filmmaking set up. I am in charge of most of the casting and audition process. I usually look for actors who have a related feeling or story to the story first, then I will try to see what the chemistry between me and the actors is. Lastly, I would love to see how they take my directions to their performances.

As a filmmaker, do you have any auditioning tips for any prospective actors and actresses reading this interview?

Try to dig into your own experiences first before acting, then try to have your own understanding of the story before hearing from the director.

Credit: A day, at the Beach


The movie The day, at the Beach paints a story highlighting the main character’s experience with family separations and reunions. If family is a root for everyone’s life, how has your family influenced your relationship with the world today?

​Based on my own family story and background, I have seen different layers or stages in me and my family relationships. I am always wanting to set myself as an observer of the world. I don’t think everything should have a conclusion, but everything should have attitudes and causes. I try to be open minded to the world and be a listener to the world.

What type of hobbies do you enjoy practicing in your leisure?

I love watching movies for sure, to see how other filmmakers’ job and how they use their ways to shape stories. Other than film, I enjoy both traveling and taking still pictures. I am able to get close to real life, real people, and real stories through travel. Being a still photographer allows me to establish truly undercover intimacy with strangers.

Do you have a favorite filmmaker whose work you admire? How has their personality and portfolio of work influenced your outlook on work?

​Chloe Zhao. She is a delicate and talented filmmaker. I really like how she shapes the story. Her films not only provide us with entertainment, but also take us on a journey with her character.

Cindy, what are the top two qualities that make a good filmmaker?

​Being open minded, and to be a good listener.

Emotions serve as a potent theme in your films. What emotion do you identify the most with and why?

Loneliness. I think it is the most common and the first emotion that people would feel in their life. People also have different reactions and actions to this emotion. Moreover, loneliness is the emotion that is easiest and the most difficult to connect. That is why I am obsessed with loneliness.

Can you share a favorite quote on filmmaking?
“No matter how many WEAPONS you have, no matter how great your TECHNOLOGY might be, the world cannot live without LOVE.” — ‘Castle in the Sky’ 1986 by Miyazaki

I always wanted to talk with other people and get advice when I was first deciding what I wanted to be. I realize that what other people always tell me is that you need this and that kind of skill and equipment to be successful. At first, I tried to implement all of the suggestions made by others, and I realized that I was losing myself and becoming confused about my life and goals. My life revolves around passion and love. I always give my best effort and a kind heart to work and work with people because I enjoy what I do and am grateful to those who are willing to work with me. I believe that love gives meaning to everything.

Please share with audiences how they can support your work.

​People can follow my personal IG account: Cindyxxindi
My film accounts: TDATB_shorfilm, and Voiceless_shortfilm. Thanks!

November 08, 2022

The Algebra of Happiness

 

Credit: The Algebra of Happiness


Scott Galloway teaches brand strategy at NYU's Stern School of Business, but his most popular lectures deal with life strategy, not business. In the classroom, on his blog, and in YouTube videos garnering millions of views, he regularly offers hard-hitting answers to the big questions: What's the formula for a life well lived? How can you have a meaningful career, not just a lucrative one? Is work/life balance possible? What are the elements of a successful relationship? The Algebra of Happiness: Notes on the Pursuit of Success, Love, and Meaning draws on Professor Galloway's mix of anecdotes and no-BS insight to share hard-won wisdom about life's challenges, along with poignant personal stories. Credit: Excerpt, The Algebra of Happiness.





Featured Post

Celebrating Creators: Filmmaker Cindy Di Xin

  Credit: Cindy Di Xin Meet Cindy Di Xin Cindy Di Xin was born and raised in Nanning Guangxi, China.  At 16 years of age,  she started to st...