By Annamarya Scaccia
After years of working with women intimidated by their libido, Susana Mayer is looking to open up the conversation about sex and sexuality in a big way. The first step in the clinical sexologist’s mission? The Erotic Literary Salon, a monthly gathering at which uninhibited Philadelphians can read original and favorite pieces of erotica, as well as discuss resources for finding and publishing new work. “I thought, we all do this in our bedroom, are we ready to do it out in the public? Are we ready to read about it and share it?” recalls Mayer of planning the salon. The answer, of course, was a resounding yes. Not only does she believe it’s high time to bring the intimate genre out from behind closed doors for artistic reasons, Mayer suggests erotica for those who need a little kick start for their sex drive. Tuesday’s debut salon will feature her 91-year-old “chosen mom,” who goes by the pen name Lily, reading an original work. According to Mayer — who will recite a selection by Anais Nin and an untitled piece by ancient Greek poet Automedon — there’s plenty more on the agenda.
City Paper: First, what exactly is your definition of erotica?
Susana Mayer: A lot of people are coming up to me and asking, “So, what do you mean by erotica? Is it pornography?” I don’t really differentiate between erotica and pornography other than they run on a continuum. On one extreme is erotica and the other, pornography. Not everybody claims that erotica arouses them, but to me, unless you’re writing and you’re getting aroused, it’s probably not erotic.
CP: Do you think the salon will help make erotica less taboo?
SM: I think on some level erotica has been mainstreamed. But we still keep erotica in our bedrooms. For some people, it will always stay in the bedroom. And for other people, it’s a great place to find out if people really like what they’re writing. They’ll get applause. They’ll know whether it’s good or not. They may get booed off the stage. I hope not. I don’t want to see too many tomatoes fly, but it is a venue for people to share what they’ve written or what they like or maybe to get that pat on the back they need.
CP: How did Lily get involved?
SM: We talked on the phone and she said, “Oh good, I’ll write something for it.” It was just very spur of the moment. She’s been reading erotica, I don’t know for how long.
CP: The salon will be held each month. What’s in the future?
SM: My future thoughts are to do an erotic music salon, arts salon and film salon. I don’t plan on ending here — this is just the beginning. I want feedback. I want to find out what I’m doing wrong, what I could do better and then move to the next step. What I see for the future, people will pick and choose what they consider to be really good works and eventually publish them. Have an annual erotic literary review where literature is published and some artwork or photography. I’m a visionary, so I see these things happening. Usually, when I put it out there, it does.
The Erotic Literary Salon Every third Tue. beginning May 20, 8:30-10:30 p.m., $10, 21 and over, L’Etage, Sixth and Bainbridge streets, 215-592-0656, blog.theeroticsalon.com