Jamie Stewart's 'Anything That Moves'

  • by Jim Piechota
  • Tuesday August 15, 2023
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author Jamie Stewart
author Jamie Stewart

Once in a while, a memoir comes along that is so blatantly and unapologetically honest in its depiction of sex and formative intimacy that it just begs on bended knee to be devoured, often in just one sitting.

Enthralling and titillating, but not as poetic or literary as other more refined sex biographies, comes Jamie Stewart's "Anything That Moves," an erotic catalog of collected memories of the non-binary performer's sexual experiences (from the awkward to the depraved to the hilarious) throughout their childhood years into adulthood.

As the singer, composer, songwriter and originator of the San Jose experimental rock band Xiu Xiu, Jamie Stewart could have penned a memoir about the ups and downs of their stage experiences after surviving a childhood being raised by a musician father and mother who were both abusive (the typical rocker memoir, I suppose).

Instead, they share their boyhood, preadolescence, and adulthood with fans and followers through the literary grace of graphic sexual experiences that continue to inform their adulthood today.

For instance, getting caught masturbating by their mother's best friend Joane (a sexpot blonde who had recently dyed her hair black) created a "grinding preference for black hair my entire life."

Other boyhood dalliances are just as awkward: Stewart recalls being slowly and oddly easily penetrated by a neighbor or watching a friend (who believed a coven of witches lived inside his anus) thrust his mini-manhood into a stuffed unicorn; random anal play with bulbous knife handles, vacuum cleaner hoses, and, well, the list goes on.

One of the great personal lessons imparted by these secreted sex sessions were the author's acknowledgment that their mother didn't need to know about them, as they'd been prone to confessing every tiny detail to her. A tiny voice inside advised them to just stop explaining everything: "This voice has continued to rescue me from execution my entire life."

Amidst all the unfettered carnality, there are moments of introspection. Stewart admits to being a good, if overly "demure," student in school, but there was a good reason to be so focused: "things were so disordered at home, it was something solid to hold onto."

Their queer awakening arrives incrementally throughout the book as their episodes with men become more frequent, but just as raunchy and gritty as their encounters with women. There are sex club visits while they played in an Italian psych band, XXL, a hilariously depicted visit to a San Francisco bookstore "jack shack," sessions with both dom and sub women, a half-hearted gay romance with a muscled gym rat, and a supremely emotional, gravely sobering closing chapter on their father's suicide in 2002.

When an author notes in the opening pages of their memoir that, "If we are related, please, for the love of God, do not read this book," the temptation to turn the page is simply irresistible. This is that kind of book and that kind of experience. It's not for the prim, the chaste, or the easily rattled. Rather, it's created as a provocative sexual journal and a testament to how one's sexuality and erotic experiences can enrich (or taint, corrupt, or even soothe, for that matter) an entire adulthood.

Scandalous, cringe-worthy, darkly hilarious, cathartic, and devilishly voyeuristic, Stewart's bare-assed confessional is must-reading for those who may have used sex in the context of their own lives to counter the negative psychological effects of familial abuse. But it's also a lusty, hardcore carnal experience for those of you who fantasize about drilling peepholes into someone else's bedroom (you know who you are).

'Anything That Moves' by Jamie Stewart; And Other Stories Press, $26.95 www.andotherstories.org

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