Valentine's Erotica Reading
Friday, January 6
Review and Photos by Bonnie Ruberg
Better than: Sitting at home, attempting to write your own awkward V Day poems.
When I arrived at the Good Vibrations reading, almost every seat in the house was already filled. That may be because there were only about twenty of them to start with. More people walked in, filing in along the walls of the white, art-lined room behind the Good Vibes' show floor, standing awkwardly, rows of pink and blue sex toys still visible through the open doorway. With ten different readers and all their guests -- plus the handful of us who'd heard about the event on our own -- the Valentine's Erotica Reading got claustrophobic fast, free champagne or no free champagne.
Once everyone had found a spot, or at least a bit of carpet, Laura Riggs took the stage. The mother hen who organized the event and picked the pieces read by hand, Riggs had made up Valentine's Day cards using excerpts from the writers present, which she offered up again and again for sale. It was also Riggs who opened things up with an erotic haiku (a "quickie"?). After her intro, the poets began. We heard from Clive Matson and Jamey Genna, who talked about the sexiness of food and about writing through the eyes of the opposite sex. Freeform poems were joined by rhymes about hearing a neighbor having sex through an open window and descriptions of a heavenly foursome.
I must say, I wasn't prepared for all the heady poetry. Here's how the description of the event reads on Good Vibrations' Web site: "Join us for an exciting evening of romantic readings. A talented group of local writers will read their sexy short stories, frisky flash fiction, passionate poems, hot haikus and lewd limericks. Enjoy a glass of wine with the light literary mood." The mood, for better or worse, wasn't light -- or lewd, or (with a few exceptions) hot. The crowd was well-dressed, middle-aged, with a mild sense of humor. Anyone stumbling in hoping to hear something steamy or romance-inspiring probably would have turned around quickly and headed back to the displays of sex toys.
There were some great moments though. Jen Cross' readings, full of passionate energy, filled the room with the visceral sense of fingering a lover in a public bathroom. Anna Reed and Liz Doherty shared nonfiction tales of their adventures on Craigslist. Then there was Jonathan Siegel reading, in his dramatically booming voice, his poem dedicated to "the sweet liquid ... between your legs," describing it as sugary and citrus, clear and viscous, like "icing on a still warm cake." I write about sex for a living. I talk about this stuff all day lone. And it was still all I could do to not burst out laughing. Icing indeed.
Personal Bias: As a writer trained in fiction, listening to too much poetry sometimes makes me want to jump off a literary cliff - whether or not it involves "throbbing members."
Random Detail: One reader presented a poem made up entirely of one-syllable words. Or so he said. In his first line, he used "fucked." Does anyone else think that counts as one and a half?
By the Way: Going to events like this at Good Vibe stores gets you 15 percent off your purchase that night, or a 15 percent off card to pocket for later, a stack of which the staff leaves out on a table. Have friends help you acquire a small pile and you've got slightly cheaper sex toys for a long, long time.