Faithful followers of Sex in the City must suspend their belief in return for the emotional paydirt: Though adorable Sarah Jessica Parker and her licentious single cohorts flounce their way through various escapades of the heart (and other body parts) each week, the comedy always seems to come to roost in a reality-based moment. But what about sex in the real world? What's that all about? Six women authors will try to give us a clue on November 10, during Sex in Our City: Women's Voices, the fourth in a series of literary forums hosted by Boulder Media Women at the Boulder Book Store. Each speaker will have ten minutes to read, rant or -- more likely -- distill her thoughts out loud; afterward, the podium will be opened up to the audience for a session of two-minute readings or extemporizations on the subject.
Certainly, many will anticipate the presentation by Boulder fixture Juliana Dahl, a professional sexual surrogate and teacher of Tantric healing. But be forewarned: Dahl comes on like a battle-ax, and she takes her subjects -- how the evolution of patriarchy has created a culture of violence, plus the nuts and bolts of her aforementioned specialties -- very seriously. She's quick to point out that "a sexual surrogate is not someone you go and have sex with," so you can kiss goodbye any randy fantasies you might have had about who she is.
Similarly, social worker and journalist Wendy Bonifazi approaches a touchy subject -- sex issues for elders -- in a decidedly un-feely way. Sexually transmitted diseases are rising among the 55-and-older set, she notes, yet nobody -- particularly those who run institutional-care facilities and make decisions about older peoples' health -- seems to be in a big hurry to talk about or instigate policies regarding geriatric intimacy. But New Yorker Sally Wendkos Olds, author of The Eternal Garden: Seasons of Sexuality, also addresses geriatric sex (as well as the intimate passages of other age groups), with a bit more feeling. "Writing about sex is different," she says. "During my interviews, I worked hard at establishing trust by showing a non-judgmental attitude. So whatever I heard, I did not say, 'What? You did that?'" As a result, she culled some wonderful stories. Her conclusion? "Everyone's life is a soap opera at least some of the time."
And that's a lucky coincidence for romance author Sharon Mignerey. "Until ten years ago, when there was a huge influx of female heroines in mystery writing, romance novels were the only place where the female was the hero of story rather than a sexual object for the male hero. That's an empowering thing for women," she says in defense of her niche. In other words, Mignerey is no powderpuff. "Don't expect the typical romance writer with poodle and hat with a feather in it," she warns. "I don't have either."
Love, straight up, is where poet and playwright Lys Anzia comes into the picture. "I'm what they call the resident poet for this group of women," she says. "I don't know how much I can go into anything that's sexual, but I can really talk about love. I can really go there."
And finally, thank goodness for Barbara Wilder, author of Money Is Love, who openly plans to take the humorous tack: "I am serious about women's sexuality and how it's been used against us and how we've used it against each other historically. But I thought I'd tell a few little stories." That's for her talk, but Wilder, who once lived in Hollywood and has a movie-industry background, gives up one tidbit: "The actress Tallulah Bankhead, a great lesbian of the '30s, arrived at the opening of the Moulin Rouge in L.A. -- and, of course, back in those days, they did everything in pink -- and she said in that voice of hers, 'Oh, my favorite color -- penis pink.'"
Now, can you top that in two minutes? Give it a whirl.
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