Bright Ideas 

Susie Bright launches a new erotic anthology.

A customer hooks up with his favorite waitress in the restroom of his favorite diner. Up close and personal, "she smells like grease, tobacco smoke, lipstick, and a perfume he's never smelled before — a perfume only broads wear." He has a thing for that specific type of female he calls "broads," defined as "loud, brassy women who sit with their legs open and drink beer straight from the bottle — women who always say exactly what they're thinking." So begins one of many salty stories in the new anthology X: The Erotic Treasury, edited by pioneering feminist Susie Bright. The author of eight books — including SexWise, The Sexual State of the Union, and Susie Sexpert's Lesbian Sex World — and the editor of more than twenty others, she'll be at Diesel (5433 College Ave., Oakland) on January 22 to discuss the anthology, along with contributors Pam Ward (author of Bad Girls Burn Slow), Donna George Storey (author of Amorous Woman), and Greta Christina (editor of Best Erotic Comics).

"To my own family, I'm not especially sexy or shocking," muses Bright, who remembers her father, the late celebrated linguist William Bright, as her biggest fan. Raised Catholic — awaiting her First Communion, "I was scared that eating flesh, and drinking blood, would make me throw up. It would be worse than a boiled spinach and asparagus milkshake" Bright began writing at age eight: "I was very upset about Ronald Reagan running for governor in California, and I wrote a pamphlet denouncing him in my orange-red Crayolas and stuck copies of it all around the neighborhood." In high school, "I became a radical and an activist, and I wrote for our campus underground newspaper ... about everything from narcs on campus to how to get free birth control." That paper, The Red Tide, "was a combination of socialists, anarchists, and yippies. Eventually I dropped out of high school and joined a group called the International Socialists, who were dedicated to rank-and-file organizing in several major labor unions."

In San Francisco in the 1980s, Bright worked at Good Vibrations when "it was little bigger than a closet," and edited the now-legendary journal On Our Backs: Entertainment for the Adventurous Lesbian, which she now fondly calls "the first openly lesbian magazine about anything." Soon, Bright was invited to become a columnist for Penthouse Forum. The rest is history — or Herstory, to borrow the title of her first erotic anthology. "Since I was in high school, when I got introduced to radical politics about most everything, I have been quite frank about sexuality," the prolific author remembers. "I was appalled when I found out that masturbation was not some secret hold that the Devil had over me. I couldn't believe all the lying about sin and sexuality that I had been taught as a child. Once I wised up, I became quite intolerant of sexual hypocrisy. From there, I became interested in the way the erotic mind works, and how sexuality, politics, and culture feed off each other." 7 p.m.


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