Real Live Nude Girl
‘ve been in and out of town for the past six weeks celebrating the release of my new book, Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture. In fact, I’m not even done yet — as I write this, I still have West Coast gigs in Portland (It’s My Pleasure, 7/14), Seattle (Beyond the Edge Cafe, 7/16, and Toys in Babeland, 7/18), Vancouver (The Lotus Club, 7/17), Eugene (Hungry Head Books, 7/20), and Santa Monica (Midnight Special, 7/27).
Real Live Nude Girl collects essays and cultural commentary I’ve written since the early ’90s. It’s informed by my experience at Good Vibrations (especially the crowd-pleaser “In Praise of Strap-Ons”), on the San Francisco Sex Information training staff and telephone hot line, in the bisexual community, in the sex industry, and in other byways of the sexual world. Many of the pieces in the book started out, in briefer form, as my monthly columns for the Bay Area’s sex newsweekly, Spectator (visit their web site at www.spectatormag.com), whose wonderful editors let me write about anything I want. What writer could ask for more? For Spectator I wrote about China’s first sex entrepreneur (Mr. Wen of the Adam Eve Health Center), the above-mentioned strap-on piece, and about joining Annie Sprinkle onstage for her notorious and profound masturbation ritual. I penned an obit for Supermasochist Bob Flanagan when he died last year of Cystic Fibrosis and wrote about John Bobbitt and circumcision. I invited my readers to join me while I taught pelvic exam techniques to doctors (with my pants off), visit backstage at the peep show where I worked in 1990, and come along to a conference on bisexuality. I wrote about John Stoltenberg’s manipulative anti-porn workshops and about my theory that anti-porn and anti-gay activists are really expressing a safe form of sexual fascination with “unacceptable” images or behavior. (The last two essays are excerpted in this summer’s July and August issues of Playboy.)
Add to this my takes on Madonna, butch women, being spanked, sex clubs, exhibitionism, sacred prostitution, and more. It’s a wild ride through sexual territory that doesn’t always get accurately mapped by the mainstream media. Aside from studying sex (remember, I’m getting my PhD at the Institute for Advanced study of Human Sexuality), I’ve explored many sexual communities and gotten to know people who live diverse erotic lives. Real Live Nude Girl aims to introduce you to some of them.
When I tour with the book I also present excerpts of a solo performance I’m developing called “Peep Show” — a visit behind the locked door of the place that boasts in neon, “Talk to a Real Live Nude Girl.” When I was that girl, I met sexual diversity on the hoof — men, and even a few women, from all walks of life, trusting me with their fantasies and secrets — and I want to introduce audiences to that underground confessional and the people I got to know when I was there. Many of my appearances are in bookstores, where I don’t get too graphic with my performance — my publisher, Cleis, calls it “a real live semi-nude tour.” You might recall seeing me on HBO’s “Real Sex” series a few years ago, doing a staged peep show piece; that was me in “Real Sex II,” though I wasn’t credited by name. My tour performances are reminiscent of the HBO piece, only a little more clothed, with a lot more commentary and storytelling — bracketed by readings from the book’s essays.
Only half of my appearances are at bookstores, however. The rest have been hosted by the new wave of sex shops which, inspired by Good Vibrations and Eve’s Garden, now dot the country to give women and men an alternative to the old-fashioned dirty bookstore and the newfangled lingerie boutique. No author could ask for a warmer, more wonderful audience than these shops draw — people who are already comfortable with sexuality, happy to have a visit from a sex-positive spokesperson. Visits to Madison’s A Woman’s Touch, Toronto’s Come As You Are cooperative, Boston’s Grand Opening!, Portland’s It’s My Pleasure, and Seattle’s Toys in Babeland ensured that my travels took me to friendly crowds all those cities. Cities without such stores welcomed me, too — a crowd turned out in Minneapolis to see me perform “Peep Show” (its world premiere!), and alternative bookstores Unabridged in Chicago and Left Bank Books in St. Louis were also terrific hosts.
It’s easy to think, perched out here on the Left Coast, that folks in other parts of the country aren’t keeping up with cutting-edge us — but it’s just not so. Sure, St. Louis is “an island of Catholics in a sea of Baptists” (as the guy who interviewed me for their alternative weekly, The Riverfront Times, said) — but plenty of supportive people turned up at my show there. I think the entire country has been touched by sex-positive thought — not every place equally, of course, but we really are everywhere. What do I mean by “we”? People who don’t let sexual fear and xenophobia run their lives, who want sexuality to be a positive personal (and cultural) force. Folks like that have really rolled out the welcome mat for this Real Live (formerly) Nude Girl.