Susie Bright’s Erotic Manifesto

Talk about sex anywhere.
Sex is as delicious a conversation piece as food or music; it is as infinite as weather and twice as interesting. It puts an end to small talk and small minds and belongs at dinner tables, airports, and church–anywhere people exchange ideas.

Take inspiration from everyone and instruction from no one.
Don’t worry about becoming a sexual imitation of someone else; it’s impossible. Worry only when you hide your true self, your fear at showing what delights you, or your despair when silence seems the only way to survive. Erotic creativity is like a modern dancer–she has a body, she listens to the music, she breathes deeply, and she moves. The erotic spirit listens and expresses–it never memorizes or recites.

Kill envy with erotic kindness.
Envy will wrap around you like a vise–and in its grip you will fear that you don’t have a chance. The opposite of envy is compassion, not carelessness; cherish it. Instead of feeling smug or angry in your envy, start tasting your fear. Only gentleness and forgiveness will allow that frightful taste to dissolve.

Teach your children privacy, in all its aspects.
Our kids do not belong to us. They have their own imaginations that we neither create nor undo; they live in our houses, but they have their own world. We can respect their world by giving them privacy, tolerance, an appreciation for our own bodies, and a feeling of love beyond possession.

Accept no guru’s egoaccountability is more cosmic than charisma.
The greatest gift that leaders can give to followers is the opportunity to disagree. No sexual gurus know how to make your erotic body happy with their philosophies. The best sexual adviser is the person who is the best listener, asks the best questions, and appreciates the chance to be fallible in public.

Admire your erotic identity.
I’ve never been able to post positive affirmations on my mirror. I can’t resist the notion that such speeches are Snow White’s wicked stepmother’s latest trick.

But I do talk to myself–without notes and reflective surfaces. And sometimes I look at my eyes in the mirror and think about how the fire is always going to be in there no matter how old I get.

Defy the quick description.
Next time someone asks what you “are,” sexually, tell them that nouns will not do. Describe the last time you were sexual or imagined an erotic fantasy; your story will be full of verbs, adjectives, and material that defies words. You may have to sing or show it with your hands. Save labels for protest signs and sandwich boards.

Appreciate the simplest erotic gesture.
Genuine beauty–a heart- and cunt- and cock-felt erotic moment–will arrive with great modesty, but with a perfection that cannot be reproduced in facsimile.

Claim your fantasy life. Write it all down.
Many people think they don’t have fantasies, or that their fantasies cannot be articulated. Others think their fantasy lives are banal. But whether you think you are fantasy-free or a walking stereotype of cheesy porn, if you actually recorded your aroused thoughts in detail, you would find you are neither.

Write a recipe for fantasy.
Masturbate. Tell yourself before you begin that you are going to track your thoughts and remember them. As you get aroused, observe them without judgment or self-conscious comment.

Right after your orgasm, write down every detail you remember. Describe the climax of the fantasy–not necessarily your body–at its most intense point. Then read this fantasy recipe out loud; you will hear something that will surprise you in a most illuminating way.

Describe a sexual experience you’ve never had.
Imagine the taboo, the physically impossible, the offensive, the surreal. Become an erotic mind traveler with great glee and boundless tolerance. Let yourself be infected with others’ sexual charisma–even if you would never do what they do. Erotic mimicry is hopeless; what’s possible, and pleasurable, is appreciation and curiosity.

Decloak in the middle of fucking.
Expose yourself. Say what you’re thinking. For the longest time, I didn’t know that sex talk was an instant aphrodisiac. I would write about sex, I would speak publicly and graphically–but in bed, I never voiced my fantasies. Then my friend Lisa Palac produced a record, Cyborgasm, of erotic stories and asked to tape one of mine.

I closed my eyes in front of the mike. I had never told a story so vividly. My fantasy did not seem diminished–I felt high, in fact. And went home to give it a try with one surprised lover.

Make your own pornography; accept no imitation.
If you don’t like what you see out your window, the most subversive, substantive thing you can do is make your own vision. Who do you think is going to make erotic expression meaningful to you, if not yourself?

Never apologize for being submissive.
Forgiveness and humility are unusual graces; we are more accustomed to subservience, helplessness, and swallowing bile, all under the guise of “I’m sorry.” Taking responsibility is a bouquet, the opposite of a thousand regrets. Don’t tell me you’re sorry when you’re angry, or horny, or indifferent. That’s a wound, not a realization.

Expose your body to the sensuous elements.
Appreciate weather, from sheets of rain to winter sun to twilight humidity. Candlelight, spotlights, light of all kinds. Other people’s skin, faces, genitals; their hair wrapped around your fingers. Baby skin, feather-soft old people’s skin. Edges that might be too sharp. Anything that stings. It’s all pure balm.

Assume everyone is sexual.
To imagine otherwise is one of the most profound and ignorant forms of discrimination:

— Your momma is sexual.
— Your great-grandma who you never even knew,
— Her husband too–
— Your precious baby, and every other precious baby,
— That twisted-up guy in a wheelchair,
— The 13-year-old with thick glasses and orthopedic shoes,
— The incredibly homely person that you crossed the street to get away from,
— Weird anorexic supermodels too–
— Anyone you don’t desire, and anyone you’ve ever put on a pedestal.

Susie Bright is an artist and writer based in Santa Cruz, California. Excerpted with permission from Full Exposure: Opening Up to Sexual Creativity and Erotic Expression © 1999 by Susie Bright. Published by HarperSanFrancisco.

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