The program for tomorrow’s Erotic Literary Salon is huge, 2 presenters – Monica Day and the Femme-Mynistiques, plus approximately 20 readers. I love snow, but hopefully not too much tomorrow. If there will be a cancellation I shall post tomorrow at this site or you can email me directly at email@example.com
Jenelle Janci, who attended the last Salon and interviewed a few attendees, had her article published in the Philadelphia Daily News. Do add your comments to the only two presently on their site, “gross” and “interesting.” I would love for someone to answer their observations via article.
A SEXY young woman wearing a slinky black dress and red patent-leather heels approached Susana Mayer before the first Erotic Literary Salon, in 2008.
“Can I really read anything?” the woman asked. She then asked to go first and shared an original piece about her “daddy” – and she didn’t mean her biological father.
“That really set the pace,” said Mayer, the salon’s founder. “I couldn’t have planned it to be better, because then people thought in their minds, ‘I can read anything.’ And in fact, somebody did. Someone who lived close by said, ‘I’m going home and getting my diary at intermission.’ ”
The Erotic Literary Salon is an open mic for authors and fans of original erotica. Mayer hosts the event on the third Tuesday of every month upstairs at Time restaurant, on Sansom Street. It’s 21-plus and there is an admission fee. The next salon is Feb. 17.
Mayer is a professional sexologist who advises clients on sexual matters and has studied sexuality from a variety of angles. She created the Erotic Literary Salon after conducting focus groups for her doctoral dissertation and finding that many middle-age women were experiencing difficulty becoming aroused.
When Mayer suggested reading erotica, some women balked because they perceived it as demeaning. Keep in mind, this was pre-Fifty Shades of Grey.
That best-seller’s not on Mayer’s favorites list, by the way. She said it doesn’t properly represent the BDSM community.
“The content upset a lot of people who are into BDSM, because it basically said you have to be damaged goods to do it or want to do it, and that’s not true,” Mayer said.
Not for women only
After those focus groups, Mayer set out to introduce women to erotica through meetings where they would share pieces that interested them. These gatherings were intended for women only, but when the owners of the event’s original location said they couldn’t legally bar one gender, men were allowed in, too.
Those meetings evolved into a salon for those interested in sharing their own work, from twentysomethings to a 98-year-old woman named Frances who writes about her multiple boyfriends. Mayer said she doesn’t see or censor any of the material before it’s read, which she admitted is unusual, even for an event of this kind.
“There’s this fear that someone is going to get up there and read something really off the charts, and they do,” Mayer said. “We have things where people are sitting and squirming in their seats and their mouths are open and they’re going, ‘Am I really sitting here listening to this?’ ”
Before the juicy readings commence, Mayer hosts an “Adult Sex Ed” Q&A with guest speakers. Each month has a different topic; last month’s was the benefits of legalizing prostitution.
The pieces read aloud aren’t always meant to be titillating. Mayer said that reading intimate works is healing for some participants, recalling a night when three women who hadn’t met before unexpectedly shared pieces about being raped.
Given the salon’s purpose, some attendees interviewed for this story didn’t want to go public. Dennis, who asked that his last name be withheld, said that he has been attending salons with his partner for 2 1/2 years. He said that education is an important component of the evenings.
“It’s a place to really have intellectual discussions about your sexuality,” Dennis said. “It’s getting an education that would have been nice to have under my belt before I was a 38-year-old man.”
That learning can happen through the Q&A or just by listening to readers.
“It allows people to have a chance to be introduced to concepts that they may or may not have thought about before,” said one woman who has attended for four years.
Readers shared an array of erotica at the January salon, from a piece lamenting the downsides of having too much “great sex” to variations on the X-rated limerick, “There Once Was a Man From Nantucket.”
A woman who identified herself as Mimi was a first-time attendee that night. Mayer requires “virgins” like Mimi to attend at least one evening before sharing their own work.
“I hope I’ll drum up the courage and be able to read someday,” Mimi said.
First-time readers get extra love from the audience, and Mayer also asks every reader to provide a backstory with their piece.
A performance artist who goes by Tommy D “Naked Man” shared his poem, “Balls.” He said that the salon fills a niche: “There’s no other place, really, unless you count private engagements or gigs and events.”
If someone is looking to be healed, educated or to share a secret, the Erotic Literary Salon can help, Mayer said. “The bottom line of what the salon is doing now is just validating people’s fantasies, people’s lives, what they actually do, and getting rid of shame.”
Shame, she continued, is “the killer of people’s, I would say, sex lives. And boy, the salon is a great place to get rid of that.”
Erotic Literary Salon, third Tuesday monthly (next one, Feb. 17), upstairs at Time, 1315 Sansom St. 21+. $10, $8 for students, seniors and military. Table reservation,
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/literature/20150211_Philly_shades_of_erotica.html#xeqsMlK0ZXKkiOyI.99