inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #0 of 80: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Wed 1 Jun 11 19:30
    
This week, for only one week, we welcome author (and WELL member)
Susie Bright, to discuss her new memoir, "Big Sex, Little Death."

Susie Bright is the author of the national bestsellers Full Exposure
and The Sexual State of the Union, as well as The Best American Erotica
and Herotica series, which ushered in women’s erotic publishing. Her
newest book is her memoir, Big Sex Little Death.

She the host/producer of Audible’s In Bed With Susie Bright, the
longest-running sex-ed show in the history of broadcasting. 

She was co-founder and editor of On Our Backs magazine, and was the
first journalist to cover erotic cinema and the porn business in the
mainstream press. 

A progenitor of the sex-positive movement, Bright taught the first
university course on pornography, and brought lasting sexual influence
to her role and writing in films like Bound and The Celluloid Closet,
as well as playing herself, "the famous feminist sex writer," on Six
Feet Under.

Leading the conversation will be our own <tnf>, David Gans. 

David Gans is a musician, journalist, radio producer, and a long-time
member of the WELL.  He was a founding member of the <inkwell.vue> team
and continues to serve as an "A&R man" for this forum.  He interviewed
Susie Bright at Book Passage a few weeks ago and enjoyed the
conversation so much he agreed to continue it here.

Welcome to Inkwell, Susie and David!
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #1 of 80: David Gans (tnf) Wed 1 Jun 11 19:41
    

We should also note that Susie has been with us twice before.  See
<inkwell.vue.54> and <inkwell.vue.91>

Welcome back!

I'll begin by asking you a question I asked you at Book Passage:

How does one become a socialist organizer while attending Uni High?
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #2 of 80: Susie Bright (sueb) Wed 1 Jun 11 22:36
    
Hi, David. Are you from LA? -- my book tour brain is melting softly
and I can't remember. It's midnight in Minneapolis and I just arrived
here from San Francisco; I've been on road since Detroit in early
March.

Anyway, it was very easy to become a yippie anarchist radical pinko
fag/dyke feminist beatnik in 
West LA in the 70s, because our high school was filled with the
children of UCLA professors and Hollywood colony and rock and roll
survivors, at the height of the Vietnam War. We had an underground
newspaper called the Red Tide,which was named during an acid trip at
Zuma Beach. Here's a web site with some of our old issues, and our
lawsuit against the State Board of Ed for first amendment rights for
students. I was the most gung ho plaintiff you ever saw.

http://theredtide.wordpress.com/about-2/
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #3 of 80: David Gans (tnf) Thu 2 Jun 11 11:53
    

> Are you from LA?

San Fernando Valley, but only til I was 12.  My family moved north (toward
the LSD!) just in time for all the interesting stuff.

Jeez, a lawsuit over a newspaper advocating the right to wear hats in school.
I remember the battles we had a few years earlier over the length of our
hair.  They made us pin our hair back for our senior class photos, and one
guy had his excessive locks airbrushed out in the yearbook.  It all seems to
chickenshit today, but it was an important battle front at the time; we were
continuing the work that the beatniks and then the hippies started, filling
black-and-white America in with some color.


> I was the most gung ho plaintiff you ever saw.

I'll bet you were!

Okay, I think I started this thing off in the middle of your story.  Let's go
back a bit, and please tell us about your parents and your peripatetic
upbringing.
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #4 of 80: Susie Bright (sueb) Thu 2 Jun 11 20:15
    
I'm in my mom's hometown tonight, Minneapolis. A crowd came to see me
at the Smitten Kitten, and they were so erudite, I felt like I was ina
grad seminar. My dad would have really liked being there. My mom would
have liked to read about it later, pref in The New Yorker. 

I remember showing my dad the Well for the first time, as I was
leaving to live in rural France for a spell. This was in 1990 or 91...
I was explaining to him that I wouldn't be lonely or isolated bc I
could talk to my Well friends every night. 

It was one of the first times i traveled to a non-English speaking
country without my dad... And man, I had been spoiled, bc he spoke
every language, no kidding, no matter where we went or who we met. He
would protest that, of course, saying he didn't have multiple language
mastery, but he protested too much. Now that he's passed away, I have
all his teenage teach-yourself language books, from Burmese to Russian
to every Native American writing system. At 16, he really wanted to
learn them ALL. You just don't meet people,like that anymore.
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #5 of 80: David Gans (tnf) Fri 3 Jun 11 10:17
    

I think there are plenty of interesting, interested people.  You just gotta
poke around, as the Grateful Dead sang.

You are the child of academics, and you moved around a lot because they split
up - rahter acrimoniously - when you were pretty young.

Very early in the book, you write: "I was bullied as a kid because I was
intellectually precocious but socially inappropriate."  Can you say more
about that?
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #6 of 80: Susie Bright (sueb) Fri 3 Jun 11 13:06
    
When i said i didn’t meet people like my dad these days, i mean people
who make it their aim to learn every language on the globe. Everyone's
become a specialist in linguistics and language studies, that's the
vogue. -- As for interesting people, yes, my goodness, that's the
pleasure of being on tour, it's a treasure chest every day.

 As a child, I was a shy bookworm and had a "vocabulary." My mom moved
the two of us almost every year, or less. I wore dowdy home-sewn
clothes, orthopedic shoes, welfare office spectacles, what a sight I
was. I had everything in working class schools to ID me as a target
except a sign that said "kick me." I was an only child and my mother
never had a single person over to our apt. I suppose it's brilliant I
didn't bite or turn aggro. I was a very good tree climber and could
sometimes out-climb my tormentors but then they'd wait at the bottom.

David, if no one is here except us, maybe we should just get
completely obscure and esoteric. 
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #7 of 80: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 3 Jun 11 13:09
    
Oh, there are those who lurk...
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #8 of 80: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Fri 3 Jun 11 13:11
    
... and we lurkers love esoterica and obscurity.
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #9 of 80: David Dodd (ddodd) Fri 3 Jun 11 13:25
    
Absolutely. The more the merrier. 
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #10 of 80: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 3 Jun 11 14:28
    
Enjoying the tone you two have established and looking for more!
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #11 of 80: Carl Butz (cjb) Fri 3 Jun 11 15:01
    
I'm new to the inkwell.vue, so thanks (tnf) for providing references
to Susie's previous appearances here. It was nice to get more context
and I'm definitely putting "The General" on my list of movies to see.
Meanwhile, (tnf), shouldn't <inkwell.vue.91> be <inkwell.vue.114>?
This said, please excuse my interruption and carry us onwards ...
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #12 of 80: Lena M. Diethelm (lendie) Fri 3 Jun 11 16:45
    
I realize yr book was a memoir but I'm most curious about where you
think you will put your energy in the future and how aging may impact
that-especially since older women are generally portrayed as having
boobs to their knees and certainly not worthy of desire.
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #13 of 80: Craig Louis (craig1st) Fri 3 Jun 11 17:40
    

Just added inkwell.vue to my conflist, because of this interview topic.  
So far, I've only skimmed the book, on the shelf at Bookshop Santa Cruz,
but it's high on my reading list (lame.. sorry!). I am looking forward to 
reading the bio page by page, Susie. 

I was born in Pedro in '54 and was mostly there until I ran away to 
Berkeley in '72.
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #14 of 80: David Gans (tnf) Fri 3 Jun 11 17:56
    

Carl: thank you for the correction on the earlier Susie topics.  I don't know
how I got that wrong.  And welcome to the Inkwell!!

Susie: we're all okay with obscure and esoteric, but we've got a book to sell
here.  I must say, I think the title is somewhat misleading.  I mean, there
is a bit of sex in there, and there is one fairly detailed account of a
sexual encounter, but the book is really about the formation of your charac-
ter and your early life as a political activist.  I am not complaining!

I have been reading other biographical works, e.g. Peter Coyote's "Sleeping
Where I Fall" and the Nicky Hopkins biography still being discussed here, and
I've seen some biographical films of late ("Who Is Harry Milsson and Why Is
Everybody Talkin' About Him?" and "There But For Fortune," a doc on Phil
Ochs); I suppose on a certain level am doing some background work trying to
figure out how to tell my own story.

I love the easy, funny, articulate, and absolutely fearless tone of your
writing.  You know who you are, and in this book we learn a lot about how you
became this person.

You write about your mother's unhappy and repressed nature, and your own fear
and repression, and then we learn of your unfolding into the effulgent role
model we see before us today.  How'd that happen?
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #15 of 80: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Fri 3 Jun 11 23:19
    
I'm lurking too! You are not alone, you two, so hands on the table.
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #16 of 80: paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sat 4 Jun 11 09:50
    
Hanging out with the lurkers here too, waiting for inspiration to join
the conversation.
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #17 of 80: David Gans (tnf) Sat 4 Jun 11 10:48
    

Didn't we send out copies of the book to a few WELL neighbors?  Let's hear
from those readers!
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #18 of 80: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Sat 4 Jun 11 15:55
    
I was too late to the party to get a book! 

But I've read ABOUT it, so I hope it's not terrible if I jump in with
a question ... 

You ask the question "how did we get from Patti Smith to Girls Gone
Wild." It seems to me that so much of what passes for sexual freedom
these days is just performance, a commodification of naughtiness for
mass consumption. Can we still find a way to see this as a sex-positive
development, or have we landed in some kind of awful misunderstanding
of what it means for women to have sex for sex's sake? 
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #19 of 80: Peter Meuleners (pjm) Sat 4 Jun 11 16:05
    
Great question.
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #20 of 80: David Gans (tnf) Sat 4 Jun 11 17:21
    
Great question!
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #21 of 80: Susie Bright (sueb) Sat 4 Jun 11 20:43
    
I just got home this AM off my hard-poundin' booktour for a few days,
and have called a day of recess... I made  a pot of rum cocoa and a
oven full of oatmeal cookies and am watching one disaster movie after
the next until I fall asleep, hopefully for ten hours straight.

But tomorrow am I'll start pounding the keypad in response to yr many
interesting comments!

Meanwhile, tell me your favorite diaster movie that you rec'd for
massive unwinding. 
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #22 of 80: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Sat 4 Jun 11 20:49
    
I recently watched airport '78 and it was hilarious!

I really love con air for many reasons, a chief one being John Cusack
in birks n' socks

Armageddon scores high on the Bruce Willis - o - meter

But that is a weird way to unwind, woman!
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #23 of 80: Jef Poskanzer (jef) Sat 4 Jun 11 21:26
    
Ooo cookies!

How about: A Crack In The Earth.
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #24 of 80: Amy Keyishian (superamyk) Sat 4 Jun 11 22:33
    
Is that the one about magma?!
  
inkwell.vue.409 : Susie Bright, "Big Sex, Little Death"
permalink #25 of 80: Craig Louis (craig1st) Sat 4 Jun 11 23:29
    

all journey to the center of the earth movies must have hot magma sequences.
required.
  

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