Susie Bright is grateful President Barack Obama is not in Atlanta today. He’s been making the same stops as her book tour for her memoir “Big Sex, Little Death” and wreaking all kinds of havoc.
“He’s been stalking my tour. Holding up my plane, gridlock on the roads. It’s been a mess,” she says with a sigh.
Bright, famously known as “Susie Sexpert” from her days as editor of “On Our Backs,” the feminist lesbian porn magazine, stops in at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse today to read from her new memoir. This memoir differs from other autobiographical books Bright has written because it casts a long glance back over her life instead of writing about the here and now.
In fact, while writing “Big Sex, Little Death” over the past few years, Bright said she relived moments even more clearly than when they occurred.
“I cried during the sad parts and I was scared during the scary parts. I was even more scared now than I was then,” she says. She describes her new book as “a poetic literary memoir.”
“No, it’s not a kiss and tell, but I’m sexually frank as I’ve always been,” she says. “It’s about growing up and letting go. It’s an adventure story.”
From writing for the longest-running underground high school newspaper (“We wrote everything from boycotting the cafeteria to pulling out of Vietnam”) to writing and editing the feminist, and lesbian, porn-positive “On Our Backs” magazine, Bright brings her exciting, controversial and just plain sexy experiences alive for new fans to get to know her and for her longtime fans to see another side of the multifaceted woman.
“It’s about how sexual politics was involved in everything I did,” she says.
On the tour, Bright says people often ask, “What does sex positive mean?”
Obviously it means it’s OK to like sex. But it’s just more than physical fulfillment.
“It goes above the neck as well,” she says. “Sex positive is about authenticity and not making a sale. It’s about your own philosophy and being open minded and having an imagination.”
While Bright and her comrades made incredible strides for women and sexuality, today’s political environment actually has Bright a bit anxious.
Legislators want to ban the word “uterus” and others want to make abortions “murder,” she states with anger and perhaps confusion.
“Laws and public policy are behind the social mores,” she says. “All of these are led by the most right wing, fanatical zealotry. My biggest fear is we are entering a new Dark Age.
“There is an incredible backwards class war taking place. I thought I was part of the movement and we would do it all. I had no idea we would be going backwards. But not everyone has been brainwashed,” she adds.
In the preface to “Big Sex, Little Death,” Bright recounts the dramatic and even violent time she came of age — when the fight between women who liked sex and expressing their sexual tastes in porn and literature, and those who hated pornography — was a cultural war that took no prisoners.
“I came of age and became a sexual adult at the moment that women — in jeans and no bras, of course — were taking to the streets. Sexual liberation and feminism were inseparable topics to my best friends in high school,” she writes.
“As I entered my twenties and feminists began to disown one another over sexual expression, it reminded me all too well of what I went through in the labor movement, civil rights, the Left — ‘let the weak fight among themselves.’ Radical feminists didn’t need FBI infiltration — the mechanism for sisterly cannibalization was already well under way.”
She also explains in the preface that she is likely misunderstood because, well, she likes sex so much. There’s much more to her than sex.
“I would say, for one, I haven’t broken any records in sexual adventure, but I have always been curious — and empathetic. I was motivated, always, from the sting of social injustice — the cry of ‘That isn’t fair!’ gets a lot more impulsive behavior from me than, ‘I want to get off,'” she writes.
But what is it that Susie Bright, the “sexpert,” loves more than anything else about sex?
“The unexpected connections,” she says. “Where the physical and intimacy aren’t what you expected. All of a sudden there you are being naked … getting past the small talk crap, and it’s the real thing.”
Top photo: Journalist and “sexpert” Susie Bright (courtesy Jill Posener)