Antoinette. AKA Scorpiana: You Cannot Pour From an Empty Cup

Beautiful tall black woman models a KVaughn couture jacket photographed by Tony Ward Copyright 2024
Antoinette. AKA Scorpiana. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

Text by Antoinette, AKA Scorpiana

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You Cannot Pour From an Empty Cup

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You cannot pour from an empty cup. 

This was the single best piece of parenting and life advice I have ever received and my continuous reminder to take care of myself. Navigating multiple polyamorous partnerships requires a lot of time and effort but those relationships continuously fill my cup. It was thru one of those relationships that I was introduced to rope bondage, and with it a whole new world in the BDSM community.

Chinese woman hanging upside down in bondage in her bedroom
Savanna. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024. Rope Work by Scorpiana.

Rope spoke to me in a way nothing had previously. The artistry, the physical challenge, the emotional connection it can foster. Being restrained was the first time in my life I could turn my brain off and just be in the moment, in my body. Learning to tie others was the most fantastic puzzle that continues to challenge me physically and mentally years later. It is a rare situation where I have never gotten bored, and boredom is ever present in my life as a human with ADHD. Balancing my kink life with my vanilla life as a working mother of two kids has me literally and figuratively pulled in multiple directions every day. Yet it is thru rope that I keep my cup full for the rest of the things in my life. Rope bondage has provided a unique emotionally connective experience with friends and partners alike. It is an expression of my creativity and an artistic outlet unlike any other.

closeup bondage photo of woman's butt
 Tony Ward for KVaughn Scarves, Copyright 2024. 

Sculpture with the human body, a transient dynamic living piece of art. Expanding access to rope bondage for those who are traditionally not included due to body size and ability is this intersection between my professional life as a physical therapist and my personal life as a rigger that allows me to share my love of learning and teaching with other marginalized groups. Tying others, and being tied, has been a source of joy that has kept me happy and grounded and better able to show up in all other aspects of my life; as a parent, as a partner, and as a physical therapist. 

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Beautiful tall black woman models a KVaughn couture coat photographed by Tony Ward Copyright 2024
Antoinette. AKA Scorpiana. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

Nefertari Williams: The Epidemic of Loneliness

woman in the desert looking lonely wearing a Santa suit
Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2023

Text by Nefertari Williams, Copyright 2023

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The Epidemic of Loneliness 

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I have heard more songs about being a strong independent woman more times then I wish to count. No matter how many times I sing them, wear the tee shirts or yell it from roof tops…..  I still, even if it’s just around the holidays or just late at night, must admit that I get lonely.

Everyone gets lonely at times. It’s normal to occasionally feel the desire to talk with a friend or a partner, go out and experience camaraderie with a group whether it’s a sporting event or your neighborhood church.

However some people experience levels of loneliness that have been deemed an “epidemic” according to the WHO (world health organization). Some of our fellow humans are differently abled and unable to leave their homes. They have to depend on the kindness of strangers for food, deliveries and transportation. Even if they have hired help that person may just do their job which is to maybe clean a little, help with medication distribution quick medical checks. But that’s only temporary companionship. A true deep connection is still desired in most of us whether we want to admit it or not.

There’s a song that’s says people who need people are the luckiest people in the world yet here we are living in a world where loneliness it literally making people sick. According to the WHO, loneliness can lead to increased risk of many illnesses including heart disease.

In 2020 a pandemic swept through Earth. Some believe this may have been the start of the epidemic of loneliness however there were whispers and clues way before the horrific pandemic hit.

The thought of those with physical issues that prevent them from leaving theirs home is one cause of loneliness however that doesn’t include those who have social issues (difficulties making social connections). They are our neighbors who may want to have different kinds of connection because they may not be comfortable with small talk or traditional forms of communication. This is where the discussion of sex workers comes in.

Sex work is referred to as “the oldest profession in the world” yet it is illegal in most states. I believe it may be something that should be looked into as a solution to loneliness in certain situations. Yes, there should be regulations and laws maybe even only used as a medical treatment, however, humans need human touch and there are people who are willing to provide it.

This is similar to the legalization of marijuana. It was illegal and caused so many people to lose their freedom yet was a solution for groups who have medical needs raging from epilepsy to anxiety. Advocacy groups began fighting for it legalization and it happened. So far studies show that it does more good than harm.

Now we have an epidemic of loneliness and we have people who need people. Let’s open our minds and our hearts and make sure we consider all opinions so that no one ever has to spend another holiday, cold night or just daily life – without companionship.

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About The Author:  Nefertari Williams is a jewelry maker, activist for women with heart disease and the mother of five beautiful children.  She lives in Willingboro, New Jersey.  To access additional articles by Nefertari Williams link here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/nefertari-williams-my-fight-to-combat-loneliness/

Nefertari Williams: Tall Tales

black and white photo of two your beautiful lovers embracing
Obsessions. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2023

Text by Nefertari Williams, Copyright 2023

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Tall Tales

WOMEN YOU NEED TO STOP GETTING YOURSELVES PREGNANT 

1. Things got hot and heavy at the end of a date and you wanted to stop and he kept going. Thats your problem. 

2. You are now pregnant and the morning sickness is causing you to miss work so you have no money – dont you bother that good man. 

3. You dont have insurance to see a doctor because you cant work because you are too sick from low iron and constant vomiting – that man should not have to worry about your problems 

4. You need bigger clothes for your growing belly and more food because of the growing baby – you should have thought about that when you grew a uterus

5. The baby needs a crib, clothes, diapers and formula. Strap a vomit bag around your neck and get a second job – dont you dare bother that man about your problems 

6. The delivery will cost thousands of dollars and you need a bigger place to live – you should have thought of that when you were born a woman. Oh well 

7.) Baby is born and you need to go back to work but cant afford child care. Mike Pence says that you need to be more patient and good things will come if you are patient so just keep hope alive.

Men (husbands and spouses) some of you are being quiet about the freedom of choice” debate. 

When I had my heart attack it was unknown what was wrong with me. I was nine months pregnant. My baby was alive but the doctor pumped me full of blood thinners as soon as they realized what was wrong. At that point, a Caesarian section was not an option without killing me however without the medication I would not have survived. 

My doctor made the choice. 

If this happened today, in some states, I would not be alive right now. Politicians would have made the choice. 

Because my MEDICAL professional was able to make the choice my child and I are both alive. 

Please dont let politicians decide whats best for my body. Please leave it to the medical professionals. One day it might be someone you love.

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Editor’s Note: These pictures are from Tony Ward’s first book Obsessions, published by Editions Stemmle, Zurich Switzerland in 1998. An exhibition of photography by Tony Ward of the Obsessions pictures from the years 1993 – 1998 will be on display at Prism Arts Philadelphia from October 6th – October 27, 2023. For more information, link herehttps://www.prismartsphiladelphia.com/events/obsessions-by-tony-ward

Alcohol Consumption: Knowing When Enough is Enough

photograph in a bar from a drunk persons perspective
Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2023

Alcohol Consumption: Knowing When Enough is Enough

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Edited by Tony Ward

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Excessive alcohol consumption has been a pervasive problem in society for centuries, leading to numerous adverse health, social, and economic consequences. While moderate alcohol consumption can be part of social gatherings and cultural practices, going beyond the limits can have serious repercussions on individuals and communities. Understanding the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption is essential to promote responsible drinking and prevent the devastating effects it can have on lives.

Excessive alcohol consumption takes a severe toll on physical and mental health. Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, and an increased risk of various cancers. The heart, brain, and nervous system can also suffer from long-term alcohol abuse, leading to cardiovascular diseases, cognitive impairments, and even permanent brain damage. Moreover, excessive drinking weakens the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections.

One of the most significant dangers of excessive alcohol consumption is the potential to develop addiction and dependency. Alcohol is a highly addictive substance, and individuals who consume large amounts regularly may find it challenging to control their drinking behavior. Over time, they become physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol, making it extremely difficult to quit without professional help.

Excessive alcohol consumption not only affects individuals but also has far-reaching social and economic consequences. Alcohol-related accidents, such as drunk driving, lead to injuries, fatalities, and property damage. The burden on healthcare systems increases due to alcohol-related illnesses and injuries. Additionally, alcohol abuse can contribute to unemployment, reduced productivity, and strained interpersonal relationships, placing a significant strain on communities and economies.

Alcohol impairs cognitive functions and judgment, leading to poor decision-making and risky behaviors. Individuals under the influence of alcohol are more likely to engage in dangerous activities, such as unprotected sex, drug abuse, and violence. This can lead to unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and legal consequences, further exacerbating the negative impact of excessive drinking.

Excessive alcohol consumption can exacerbate existing mental health issues or contribute to the development of new ones. Alcohol is a depressant and can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and depression. Self-medicating with alcohol can worsen the symptoms of underlying mental health conditions, creating a harmful cycle that can be difficult to break.

Excessive alcohol consumption often strains relationships with family, friends, and partners. It can lead to conflicts, loss of trust, and emotional distance. Moreover, children growing up in households with alcohol abuse are more likely to experience neglect, abuse, and psychological trauma, affecting their development and well-being.

Knowing when enough is enough regarding alcohol consumption is vital to protecting our physical and mental health, preserving social connections, and maintaining a functional society. The dangers of excessive alcohol consumption are evident in the toll it takes on individuals, families, and communities. Raising awareness about the potential consequences of excessive drinking, offering support to those struggling with alcohol abuse, and promoting responsible drinking habits are essential steps in mitigating the impact of alcohol on our lives.

Ultimately, each individual bears the responsibility of knowing their limits and seeking help if they find themselves crossing dangerous thresholds. By acknowledging the dangers and making informed decisions, we can create a healthier and safer environment for everyone. Let us strive for a society where moderation, self-awareness, and support prevail, allowing us to enjoy life without succumbing to the perils of excessive alcohol consumption.

Guns: Dangers and the Illusion of False Security

art work symbolizing a long gun made out of crutches
Are guns a crutch? Photo: Tony Ward

Text by ChatGBT

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Edited by Tony Ward

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Guns: Dangers and the Illusion of False Security

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 The issue of gun ownership is a highly debated topic, particularly regarding its impact on personal safety. While proponents argue that owning a gun provides a sense of security, it is crucial to examine the dangers associated with firearms and question whether their possession truly offers genuine protection. This essay explores the potential risks of guns and challenges the notion that owning a firearm is an infallible crutch of false security.

  1. Accidental Injuries and Fatalities: One undeniable danger of guns lies in the increased risk of accidental injuries and fatalities. Tragic incidents involving children mishandling firearms or unintentional discharges resulting from human error are all too common. Despite the training and precautions taken, accidents can still happen, potentially causing irreparable harm or loss of life. This underscores the need for responsible gun ownership and stringent safety measures.
  2. Increased Violence and Aggression: While some argue that owning a gun acts as a deterrent to crime, studies suggest that the presence of firearms can actually escalate violence and aggression. Arguments or disputes that might otherwise be resolved peacefully can quickly turn deadly when firearms are involved. The availability of guns can contribute to an atmosphere of fear and mistrust, increasing the likelihood of confrontations turning deadly.
  3. Suicide Risk: Guns are particularly lethal when it comes to suicide attempts. Research consistently shows that individuals who attempt suicide with firearms have a higher rate of success compared to other methods. Easy access to a firearm during a moment of crisis can drastically limit the opportunity for intervention and increase the fatality of suicide attempts. Consequently, gun ownership can inadvertently perpetuate a false sense of security while exacerbating the risk of self-harm.
  4. Misuse and Accidental Transfers: Ownership of firearms carries the risk of misuse and accidental transfers. Guns can fall into the hands of individuals who are not mentally stable, have criminal intent, or lack proper training. Moreover, the illegal gun market is fueled by stolen firearms, leading to an increased likelihood of firearms ending up in the wrong hands. These situations undermine the concept of guns as a reliable means of protection, highlighting the potential for misuse and unintended consequences.

While the perception of owning a gun as a crutch of false security is subjective, it is vital to consider the associated dangers and limitations. Accidental injuries, increased violence, higher suicide risks, and potential misuse underscore the complexities of relying solely on firearms for protection. It is essential to promote responsible gun ownership, including thorough background checks, mandatory safety training, and secure storage practices. Additionally, exploring non-lethal alternatives for personal protection can foster a safer society. Ultimately, fostering a comprehensive approach to personal safety that addresses the underlying causes of violence and promotes community well-being is crucial to ensuring a more secure and harmonious society.