Susie Bright: Between the Ears
Susie Bright Live Review
By Heather Gold
The first loud clapping and hooting of the night happens as Susie takes
the stage. She starts with her interest in connecting with the audience.
What are their psychological histories and sexual fantasies? What
brought them here tonight? Can she know them? Her performance begins as
a conversation with the audience, and launches into a tale about her
daughter who graduated from first grade tonight. Susie relates the
profundity of love letters from a child who has just learned to write.
One of her own childhood wishes, Susie has told her daughter she can
write and draw in her room. Anything she wants, anything at all. But the
result has been some expression she didn't necessarily hope for. Like
"mommy is a pig" scrawled across a recent set of proud drawings after
some difficult parental moment. Susie laughs her infectious, delighted
laugh and continues.
The audience is hushed and focussed intently on her anecdotes, delivered
so personally and openly. Nothing about sex has been uttered, but the
intimacy in the room is tangible. The audience would be satisfied with
an evening of Susie Bright just like this.
She then talks about beginning a column again, which starts tomorrow for
Salon. Her last columnist days were as a porn reviewer for Penthouse
"the job that liberated me from doing buttplug inventory at Good
Vibrations," she says. She then proceeds to give the audience a preview
of her first Salon column: a crisp, well-written, humorous piece that was
spurred by a call from the Tom Snyder show shopping her for an
appearance. Susie analogizes the process of getting auditioned by the
show to familiar sexual and dating dynamics. Has she revealed too much
information in her pre-interview? Her erotic philanthropy left her
feeling used by the screeners of Tom' s show. Rejection is rejection.
Next is a piece that stems from a guest spot she did on the radio show
hosted by her favourite sex advice columnist, Dan Savage (otherwise known
as Hey Faggot). One fan dials up to speak for stunned political
lesbians who want to call her on her shit: "how dare you call yourself a
lesbian sex expert when you've really been a bisexual breeder for years."
Susie pops off a glib, sexually detailed on-air response that ends the
But the caller's challenge haunted her for several weeks. Then it hits
her, she realizes her attraction to the caller. "I don't wanna argue
with the bi-bashers..." her voice drops to a secuctive drawl: "I want my
mouth all over their blasphemy." This is but the first of the
revelations in this essay. Part theory, part observation, part personal
reckoning, Susie just dives in to the morass of feelings, theories and
hang-ups around bisexuality and sexuality in general.
I won't go into all of the details of her insights and feelings, but I
will just say this. Intense. Mind-opening. One of the most important
thinkers in the queer community and the most honest sexual commentator in
America. Check out the audio file. This is stuff worth hearing. I
found myself testifying out loud behind my laptop in the balcony. "Damn
girl you are on it."
The final piece goes more emotionally into her bisexuality and the hurt,
anguish, lust and joy of past loves and beddings with women and men, and
thoughtful commentary on all of these, including that timeless question:
are bisexuals traitors to the gay community? In the final Susie Bright
analysis, bisexuality confonts all prejudices. " Don't talk to me about
pride. Love has no pride and that's the real banner the world marches
Her prose and her delivery are just real and she's holding the audience
in her hand now. Susie Bright has the rare ability to make people's
heads, hearts and genetalia connect. You gotta give it up for the girl.
She dives into the shit. I think of Catherine MacKinnon who's been
privately criticized by her own feminist academic followers for years for
the discomforting gap between her theories and her marriage to womanizer
Jeffrey Masson. Susie Bright doesn't start from theory though. She
shows us that her, and our sexual choices are "personal. Not necessarily
made by principle." She starts from herself and doesn't pose. That's the
intimacy. That's the real erotica.
I live in San Francisco, where sex talk and personal therapy parading as
performance art are as ubiquitous as facial piercing. What is harder to
find is honest personal experience woven with insightful observation.
Smartness is the biggest turn on of all.
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