|Reading from "Another Chance."|
This weekend I'll get a chance to read part of my just published story "To Bed" in front of a who-knows-how-big crowd at CatalystCon East. I'm also going to read an erotic poem. Someone asked me once, "how do you do it?" in reference to reading my erotic work in front of an audience. And I've thought about that a lot. [Duh, if you know me, you know I think a lot about a lot of things.]
I was one of those kids who would feel sick to my stomach if I had to get up in front of the class. Same thing in college. But when I became a mom, I suddenly found myself having to speak for my kids as well as other kids, and that was so important, that I found a way to squeeze past my fear of speaking in public. I led volunteer meetings for new & experienced breastfeeding moms for years. Spoke at conferences. But reading or performing your own work, your own words, is very different.
About twelve years ago I started going to a weekly poetry series. I was writing poetry at the time - lots of angsty stuff since I was dealing with some old issues, but not sharing it. Finally, after weeks of being asked if I wanted to read in the open mike, I got up the nerve to read a couple of poems. And I didn't go back for months it seemed like. But eventually I did go back. And eventually I got "used to" reading my work. Some of it.
Some stuff I wouldn't read. But I did share it with my writing group, and when we decided to form a performance troupe [I'd never "performed" really before], when we worked on picking which poems to do, it was my more erotic pieces that were favorites. So, I gathered up my thin threads of bravery into a ball and "went on the road" performing poetry, including some of those erotic poems. Off page, in front of people.
|Reading at The Erotic Literary Salon in Philadelphia|
Yeah. Shame. Our culture and society attaches such shame to anything to do with REAL sex, that some really weird things happen. We can have 10 story high advertisements on the sides of buildings for underwear [no sex there, just move along folks], but try to have a beautiful black and white photo of a naked couple curled up together on the cover of an erotica anthology, and that behemoth online book sales place has a conniption fit. If you look over to the right, on the sidebar (you may need to scroll), there is a picture of Susana Mayer's SenSexual: A Unique Anthology. Those are the images used on the combined Vol. 1 & 2. That's the images as they should be. These photos were done by Arnold Skolnick, who created the iconic Woodstock poster.
But then look here - at the heart that had to be added in order for this cover to be able to be listed. When the volumes are split up [to be sold separately], the one image was deemed too explicit.
And then the images had to be edited for inclusion in a press release [below]. ??? What is wrong with the world? Another rhetorical question.
What's this all have to do with reading erotica in public? Only this - we create our own shame. Once you've read something in public that bares some quite innermost thoughts, and THE WORLD DOES NOT END, and people actually come up to you and thank you for reading whatever it was you read,
you start learning that it's possible to make a small difference in the world.
I have a real problem with shame. That sentence can and should be interpreted in many different ways.
When I read my story from Joan Price's Ageless Erotica on Saturday night, I will be wearing my FUCK SHAME necklace, of that you can be sure. And there will be pictures.