Saturday, February 09, 2008

Surviving Exposure

C-belle and I went to the erotic love letter writing workshop at Babeland last month. The lesson learned from it was: read more James Joyce, his letters to his wife Nora were perverse, filthy, passionate and loving all at once. The workshop was in some ways like any writing workshop and much of the advice given was good advice for any writer. Except that some people were reading passages with graphic personal sexual content and we were sitting in room surrounded by dildos, vibrators, and whips.

It was the close of a three part tour I took attending three events having to do with sex and words. Interestingly, they were all organized by the same woman, Rachel Kramer Bussel.

All of this went down in January and I have put off writing about it. Because I came to no clear thoughts or conclusions about it. The readings, while all being about sex, were diverse in topic and presentation and treatment, at turns funny, embarrassing, surprising, informative, thought-provoking, boring, trite, disturbing, sexy, unsexy, etc and so on. And my reactions to them were far ranging as well.

Clearly, I did not die of embarrassment. But I am not sure that my comfort level with public discourse on the topic has increased, at least not by much.

At the point in the workshop where we were asked to turn from writing a love letter to writing something erotic, I totally blanked. I just sat there and blinked while everyone around me was furiously writing.

I keep flip flopping back and forth on whether to post my letter. The letter itself is really tame, PG at best. But it's about a real person. And as much as I try to edit it, and change details, and scrub it to protect them that needs protecting, for now I can't bring myself to post it. Even with every single detail changed it feels naked.

Which is the thing about sex reading and writing. The graphic stuff and the funny stuff and the shocking stuff is what you expect and on some level or another it will always deliver.

But it's the intimate and revealing stuff where the writer is vulnerable and naked that feels really dangerous.


Kat E said...

Is that Babeland, as in Toys in Babeland? Because you are totally going to end up on an episode of HBO's "Real Sex" now, you know. At least you weren't participating in that masturbate-a-thon, which is the event that HBO last chronicled there, as far as I know...

But anyway, good for you for getting out there and experiencing all this cool stuff. What's the point of living in NYC if you don't go to things like that?!?

C-Belle said...

Kat E, there was this one really creepy guy there who was having a passionate online affair with a young lesbian, and the creepy old dude was pretending he was also a young lesbian. He was taking the class because he wanted to learn how to write a passionate love letter in which he admitted he was not a young lesbian but a creepy old dude.

I wanted to tell him not to bother because the young lesbian was almost assuredly another creepy old dude. But I didn't because I was afraid of his creepiness.