The book launch party for Sex Still Spoken Here at CSC last Wed, was an exciting, sucessful, and well attened event, offering food, drink, and hot-off-the-press books for sale. Editors Carol Queen, Jen Cross, and Amy Butcher emceed in their own inimitable and enegetic style, introducing each writer warmly, with brief bits from our bios, as we steppd up tothe blood-red podium to read from our stories.
My husband, who joined me for the evening’s festivities, commented that I was the best reader present that evening — an unbiased opinion if I ever heard one, but always nice to hear. Now, with several readings under my belt, I’ve becoming more comfortable with spotlights and a microphone, and hear myself speak with expression, and in my natural voice — although I’m still not relaxed enough to raise my eyes from my typewritten pages and address my audience directly, at strategic points in my story, for fear of losing my place. My confidence will, no doubt, increase with time and subsequent readings.
My next one, by the way, will be during Lit Crawl, at the Good Vibrations Store on Valencia Street, Saturday, 10/18, from 7:15 to 8:15. Come listen to Carol Queen, Amy Butcher, and other writers from Sex Still Spoken Here. I’ll be reading from my story, The Gambler, and forget the long lead-in; I’ll be jumping right in to the juciest bits, teasing you into buying the anthology in order to read the rest.
Years ago, while still a girl of sixty, I decided that the bigger the birthday the more celebration it required. Consequently, with September being my birth month and with my big day fast approaching, I’ve just returned from a weeklong vacation at a Palm Springs B&B, spent with my husband, sons and grandson, a dear family friend, and our dog. I’ve been there many times before, but the place — lush with Bougainvillea, dotted with fruit trees, and set near the base of a snowcapped mountain — still takes my breath away every time. This trip was a complete change of pace for me. I loved every minute of it, even when gasping from the heat and unaccustomed humidty. It reained on the third day of our visit. I haven’t experienced a storm in Palm Springs before. It was wonderfully dramatic, with a darkening sky, rumbles of thunder, and vivid pink Bougainvillea petals blowing in the wind. Erotic weather, I thought.
The family dynamic was remarkably mellow — attributable in part to the miracle of air-conditioning in our cool, comfortable suite, and to the exquisite pleasure of the swimming pool, not twelve steps from our door. Fully in relaxation mode, I didn’t write a word the whole time, but did formulate some thoughts on how I might best present my nearly completed book, PERFECT STRANGERS: One Woman’s Journey Though The Swinging Seventies, to a publisher.
And now, home again, my month-long celebration continues in a different vein — the long awaited book launch party for Sex Still Spoken Here, the newest anthology I’m in. This event will take place next Wed evening, 9/24, at San Francisco’s Center for Sex and Culture (CSC), at 1349 Mission Street, between 9th and 10th. A big shout-out to the book’s editors, Dr. Carol Queen, Jen Cross, and Amy Butcher, who have worked tirelessly to put together his eclectic collection of delghtfully smutty stores and poems from the Center’s monthly Erotic Reading Circle (ERC). Also included in the anthology is a discussion by our editors on how to establish similiar reading circles in other cities, thereby promoting more high quality smutty writing in the world — a great idea, seems to me.
I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing a new piece in print, and will be at the launch to read from my story, The Gambler. This one is a semi-autobiographical tale, based on my long ago meeting with a sexy man with a big cock and a sense of humor — a man among men, who managed to make me laugh and come, during the same hot encounter. I’ll be reading along with some talented writers and performers at CSC, and am honored to be among them.
Please come and listen to us. Buy a book. Join the celebration.
It turned out that my decision to change my lifestyle for a less promiscuous one was excellently timed on my part. During the 60s and 70s — as far as the average, sexually active person knew — STDs resulting from indiscriminate sexual contact could be treated and cured with antibiotics — and dreaded exceptions, such as Herpes or genital warts, could at least be treated to manage symptoms. And this mindset, based as it was on lust and ignorance, generated a less than desirable level of vigilance about safe sex. But with the advent of the 80s and the newly discovered AIDS epidemic, for many people sexual behavior underwent an immediate and radical change.
The term “safe sex” entered our vocabularies. Bowls of condoms began appearing at party houses and sex clubs. Casual hook-ups, even with the use of condoms were viewed as potentially dangerous behavior. Consequently, one-on-one came into vogue again. Romance was back. Celibacy was celebrated. True love waited. People talked of marriage again.
Personally, I didn’t plan on taking matters that far, but although I retained grave reservations about the institution of marriage itself, I did feel ripe for a committed relationship. What I wanted was a special type of partner — a sexual main-man, so to speak, someone strong and emotionally secure — with the steadfast dependability and trustworthiness of a platonic best friend, combined with the erotic focus of my most favorite lovers. And I wanted this, please, all rolled up into one hot, hard, erotically adventurous man, to be enjoyed on a longterm basis.
Missing from this equation was someone to have that relationship with.
With further pursuit of casual hook-ups now off the table, I found men who turned me on and who were likely candidates for commitment to be disappointingly few and far between. But although I felt lonely and horny without my accustomed sexual distractions, I was unwilling to settle. My main social interactions were with my young adult children or women friends, or an occasional fling with an old friend-with-benefits. Aside from that I stayed home a lot, adopted a dog who turned out to be excellent company, and began to clarify my specific relationship needs in my mind, based on my plethora of personal experience.
The culmination of this semi-celibate time in my life was the personal ad I placed in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, in late 1983. The responses were many, but the one that mattered came from a man who had somehow read between the lines of my relationship ad, and responded with a letter — we wrote actual letters in those days — offering me “a special kind of erotic intimacy”, that he sensed I craved. I have no idea how that clever man knew that the most secret desire of this strong, capable, feminist woman was sexual submission.
How could he know, I wondered, when I barely knew myself?
But the man was right on, and I became his woman on that same night we met, following our initial meeting and negotiation at a San Francisco coffee-house — although I always maintained I wasn’t easy, because I made him buy me coffee first. And to our genuine surprise and delight, our alternative lifestyle relationship resulting from my newspaper ad has endured to this day.
Yes, there was a life after promiscuity. And yes, there was life after vanilla sex.