Full Exposure: Opening up to Sexual Creativity and Erotic Expression

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Hailed by Utne Reader as "a visionary" and the San Francisco Chronicle as "the X-rated intellectual," Susie Bright is indisputably the sexpert of our times. Now, in a frank and intimate look at our own erotic experience, she delves into the most personal aspects of sex and shows us how our sexual passion can be a source of creativity and inspiration. By her own example and insight, she helps us to discover our own erotic story and sexual ...

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Overview

Hailed by Utne Reader as "a visionary" and the San Francisco Chronicle as "the X-rated intellectual," Susie Bright is indisputably the sexpert of our times. Now, in a frank and intimate look at our own erotic experience, she delves into the most personal aspects of sex and shows us how our sexual passion can be a source of creativity and inspiration. By her own example and insight, she helps us to discover our own erotic story and sexual philosophy.

  • How do talking, reading, and writing about sex affect your actual sex life?
  • What are the real differences between men's and women's sense of the erotic?
  • Why is it so threatening to consciously address sexual desire in the first place?
  • Is there a line to be drawn in erotic creativity—can you go too far?
  • Is the best erotic expression soulful?
  • How can articulate erotic expression make us better lovers and, more important, better people?

Bright concludes with an "erotic manifesto" that is a call for everyone to reclaim sexuality, cast off sexual shame, overcome repression, and become true sexual beings. She offers up "rules to live by," which include debunking your own fantasy life, appreciating the simplest erotic gesture, and taking inspiration from everyone but instruction from no one. Bright's work celebrates the joy of sexual creativity—and the very uniqueness of each individual's sense of the erotic.

Susie Bright is the author and editor of more than a dozen books, including The Best American Erotica series, the first three editions of Herotica, Sexwise, and The Sexual State of the Union. She has written for Esquire, Playboy, Village Voice, New York Times Book Review, and is a regular columnist for the on-line magazine Salon. She lectures and performs at theaters and universities nationwide and currently lives in Northern California.

How do you really feel about sex?

"I want to cut through all the labels and politics, and reveal what I've learned about sex - what has been transformational for me as a lover, a parent, a daughter, and an artist. I want to argue that sexuality is the soul of the creative process, and that erotic expression of any kind is a personal revolution." — from Full Exposure

Bestselling author and erotic pioneer Susie Bright boldly crosses our culture's most private boundary—our personal eroticism—and reveals the ways in which individual sexual expression has the power to inspire, challenge, and transform all aspects of our lives. Bright explores some of the most complex questions about sexuality today, including: how our emotional and sexual lives intertwine, how we can come clean about our true desire, and what sexual expression teaches us about our bodies. She offers an erotic manifesto of seventeen straightforward guidelines for gaining erotic freedom.

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Editorial Reviews

Boston Globe
Susie Bright has explored and mapped every crack and crevasse of contemporary sexual culture. Few writers chronicle our collective exploits with more gusto.
New York Times Book Review
Ms. Bright refuses to let the sexual controversies of our day poison her passion.
Metro
you might enjoy this book's frank approach to the subject matter that makes us all giggle and sweat.
San Jose Mercury News
The widest read, reviled, and revered sex expert in America.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A chronicler of U.S. sexual mores (The Sexual State of the Union) as well as one of the most prodigious anthologizers of American erotica (in both the Herotica and Best American Erotica series), Bright tackles the complicated question of "sexual creativity" and "the personal meaning of erotic expression." Moving beyond prescriptive diagrams and techniques in her approach to sexual liberation, she urges readers to recognize how the erotic surrounds us in art, music, cooking and writing, noting that "sexual creativity stems from making something of life--instead of being made over." In 20 short chapters, she discusses such topics as how talking about sex makes it easier to tap into the erotic; the difference between pornography and erotica; how the sexual revolution of the 1960s failed; the sexual epiphanies that celibacy can bring; and the paradoxes of and necessity for sexual ethics. The most refreshing aspect of Bright's breezy, no-holds-barred style is the way she addresses sexual feelings and actions in plain English without embarrassment. In a happy union of form and content, her sexual openness sounds as all-American as a high-school pep rally, yet feels as seductively transgressive as Monica Lewinsky giving tips on political social advancement to a group of novices. But in the end, the constant, feel-good sex chat ends up avoiding or minimizing more complicated sexual and emotional issues and may seem repetitive to those familiar with her message. Agent, Jo Lynne Worley. 10-city author tour; 15-city radio campaign. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Bull
Bright is still one of the most fascinating public figures of our times, and we are lucky that she has such mainstream appeal. In the stifling, sex-phobic culture of out time, her works still have the power to open up much-needed discussions, crossing all sorts of community boundaries.

Sojourner

Kirkus Reviews
An unfocused, blistering rant about sexual issues near and dear to the author's heart. Bright, a regular columnist for Salon magazine and a popular writer and lecturer on sex (Susie Bright's Sexual State of the Union, 1997), wants to argue here that "sexuality is the soul of the creative process, and that erotic expression of any kind is a personal revolution." Readers unfamiliar with Bright will find it difficult to glean a clear message here except that it's essential to be public about all aspects of one's sexuality. Her "erotic manifesto" demands that we talk about sex, that we understand "the personal meaning of erotic expression: the creativity it demands, the challenges of sexual candor, and the rewards of coming clean about desire." Those who would rather keep certain aspects of their lives to themselves are liable to feel under attack here ("Was the issue privacy, or was it sterotyping, having your identity defined by others?", she asks an elderly lesbian aunt who refused to discuss her sexuality with Bright). Bright's abrasive and forthright, if not confrontational, style ("a woman dieting is a woman not having orgasms") may turn off readers who don't see sexuality as the foundation of all creativity in their lives. Only for those who are already Bright fans. (Author tour)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062515544
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 8.64 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Read an Excerpt

What is Sexual Creativity?

Nothing really exists except examples.
—Wittgenstein

If I had to judge my sex life by how many times I jump into bed and have an orgasm, I'd get a big fat F. Oh, I'm sure my notches are more than someone else's notches, but I've had long, medium, and short stretches of time in my life where I haven't buttered up to anybody else's body, or even had my own private Jill-off.

Yet this is the last thing I think of when I consider my erotic life. I say "erotic life" instead of "sex life "I because when someone asks me about my sex life, it's like code for, "Are you getting laid?" I need a code for replying, "Getting laid isn't the half of it." My dreams are filled with sex; my work is inspired with sexual energy; my family and friendships are influenced in so many ways by my sexual creativity that I couldn't even pinpoint them all. Most sex experts tell people to search for a sex life, to make it happen by getting out of the house and into the right singles bar, but actually your sex life is rocking your boat every minute of every day. You never even have to leave the house or make a phone call.

I remember snooping in a neighbor's bookshelves when I was a kid, discovering their garishly illustrated Kama Sutra technique manual with more than a hundred pages and a hundred pretzel shapes to screw your body into. It had all the appeal of a periodic table. This is what I had to learn to have sex? It was a strangely unemotional examination. The book's title invoked erotic and spiritual symbols—but the spirit behind the presentation was chopped liver. I had been so excited to think that one day I was going tohave a sex life, a real adult sex life—and I imagined it would be as exciting and inspiring as the sexy music I heard on the radio, the romantic novels I read, or the passionate embraces I saw dissolve on the movie screens.

My childhood intuition was right. Those top-forty hits I heard on the radio were more sexy than a hundred nudist diagrams. Rock 'n' roll was sex, and so were all those novels and movies I thrilled to-because those things actually possessed sexual creativity, and the people who composed them were probably as inspired as I was when they first came up with their ideas.

Erotic experience is a wake-up call; it's the sign that you're not only alive, you're bursting. As my friend Michael once said, "It doesn't matter whether you're cooking a meal, or playing a game of basketball, or writing a chapter. Sometimes you get this rush of holistic energy, and you'd swear that you just got laid."

"I know that," I told him, "but how come more people won't admit it? It's not like I can line up a row of architects and rocket scientists to admit that, yes indeed, "they split that atom, they built that bridge," and they owe it all to some serious erotic inspiration. Everyone thinks that if they admit how much sexual energy fuels their everyday life and accomplishments, they won't get any respect."

"But it doesn't matter what they say! : Michael is very good at overriding all naysayers. "Haven't they ever heard of a little thing called sublimation? Dr. Freud, hello! You go to any museum, you look at the classic Renaissance paintings, where everyone is supposed to be praising God and fearing the devil, but what is it, after all? Naked bodies everywhere! You're going to tell me these painters didn't get off on that? Their faith, their painting, their sexual energy—it's all the same thing."

People often don't want to hear that their religious feeling is erotic; it's an insult to them. They take the holier-than-thou attitude that any kind of scholarship, any kind of profession or art, needs to be unsullied by sex in order to be worthy.

But what is their worthiness all about? Michael started in describing Dante's Divine Comedy. "Here we have a hero who goes from hell to purgatory to paradise, and at the end of it all after he has seen God—what does he say? He speaks out to the memory of one woman, a woman he saw for only an instant, and she is 'the love that moves the sun and all the stars!' Remember, this is after God!"

"Yes, I think of that quote, 'God is in the details,'" I said. "And so is sex."

Your erotic life is what you notice about yourself—what drives you and thrills you and even maroons you sometimes. It influences our every personal expression, our role models, and the picture of our generation. I can read poems I wrote as a teenager, look at the image of myself giving birth to my daughter ten years ago, or see myself on a stage today-and an erotic thread runs through all of it. My character shows how motivated I've been by sexual creativity, long before I knew much at all about "having sex."

I don't have to visit a museum or look at the classics to see how sex and art intersect from the moment we pick up our pen or our brush. I used to visit my friend Kimi in her art studio, where she made huge abstract expressionist paintings, from floor to ceiling. She routinely had her vibrator plugged in, lying on the rug next to her latest canvas, along with her brushes, rags, and colors. She caught me looking at it one day, and she said, "I can't help it, I get so excited sometimes! And other times I'm so tired, this is the only thing that gets me going again."

People have long debated whether eroticism saps their energy or lets it fly. A physical orgasm can sometimes make you so weak in the knees that you feel closer to a nap than to creating a masterpiece. But that's why it's so important to see the difference between the release of an orgasm and the release of the creative sexual mind.

A fantasy never leaves you exhausted, an erotic inspiration never tires you out. Erotic inspiration can be released through orgasms—but that's just one way. More important is that sexual creativity stems from living life as if you were making something of it-instead of being made over. I'm not talking about denying physical release, or saving your jizz up like some precious reservoir. No, I mean the way we express the juice of our greatest joys, and some of the most righteous justice in our lives. Why don't we recognize the erotic element in that passion?

Read More Show Less

First Chapter

What is Sexual Creativity?

Nothing really exists except examples.
--Wittgenstein

If I had to judge my sex life by how many times I jump into bed and have an orgasm, I'd get a big fat F. Oh, I'm sure my notches are more than someone else's notches, but I've had long, medium, and short stretches of time in my life where I haven't buttered up to anybody else's body, or even had my own private Jill-off.

Yet this is the last thing I think of when I consider my erotic life. I say "erotic life" instead of "sex life "I because when someone asks me about my sex life, it's like code for, "Are you getting laid?" I need a code for replying, "Getting laid isn't the half of it." My dreams are filled with sex; my work is inspired with sexual energy; my family and friendships are influenced in so many ways by my sexual creativity that I couldn't even pinpoint them all. Most sex experts tell people to search for a sex life, to make it happen by getting out of the house and into the right singles bar, but actually your sex life is rocking your boat every minute of every day. You never even have to leave the house or make a phone call.

I remember snooping in a neighbor's bookshelves when I was a kid, discovering their garishly illustrated Kama Sutra technique manual with more than a hundred pages and a hundred pretzel shapes to screw your body into. It had all the appeal of a periodic table. This is what I had to learn to have sex? It was a strangely unemotional examination. The book's title invoked erotic and spiritual symbols--but the spirit behind the presentation was chopped liver. I had been so excited to think that one day I was going to have asex life, a real adult sex life--and I imagined it would be as exciting and inspiring as the sexy music I heard on the radio, the romantic novels I read, or the passionate embraces I saw dissolve on the movie screens.

My childhood intuition was right. Those top-forty hits I heard on the radio were more sexy than a hundred nudist diagrams. Rock 'n' roll was sex, and so were all those novels and movies I thrilled to-because those things actually possessed sexual creativity, and the people who composed them were probably as inspired as I was when they first came up with their ideas.

Erotic experience is a wake-up call; it's the sign that you're not only alive, you're bursting. As my friend Michael once said, "It doesn't matter whether you're cooking a meal, or playing a game of basketball, or writing a chapter. Sometimes you get this rush of holistic energy, and you'd swear that you just got laid."

"I know that," I told him, "but how come more people won't admit it? It's not like I can line up a row of architects and rocket scientists to admit that, yes indeed, "they split that atom, they built that bridge," and they owe it all to some serious erotic inspiration. Everyone thinks that if they admit how much sexual energy fuels their everyday life and accomplishments, they won't get any respect."

"But it doesn't matter what they say! : Michael is very good at overriding all naysayers. "Haven't they ever heard of a little thing called sublimation? Dr. Freud, hello! You go to any museum, you look at the classic Renaissance paintings, where everyone is supposed to be praising God and fearing the devil, but what is it, after all? Naked bodies everywhere! You're going to tell me these painters didn't get off on that? Their faith, their painting, their sexual energy--it's all the same thing."

People often don't want to hear that their religious feeling is erotic; it's an insult to them. They take the holier-than-thou attitude that any kind of scholarship, any kind of profession or art, needs to be unsullied by sex in order to be worthy.

But what is their worthiness all about? Michael started in describing Dante's Divine Comedy. "Here we have a hero who goes from hell to purgatory to paradise, and at the end of it all after he has seen God--what does he say? He speaks out to the memory of one woman, a woman he saw for only an instant, and she is 'the love that moves the sun and all the stars!' Remember, this is after God!"

"Yes, I think of that quote, 'God is in the details,'" I said. "And so is sex."

Your erotic life is what you notice about yourself--what drives you and thrills you and even maroons you sometimes. It influences our every personal expression, our role models, and the picture of our generation. I can read poems I wrote as a teenager, look at the image of myself giving birth to my daughter ten years ago, or see myself on a stage today-and an erotic thread runs through all of it. My character shows how motivated I've been by sexual creativity, long before I knew much at all about "having sex."

I don't have to visit a museum or look at the classics to see how sex and art intersect from the moment we pick up our pen or our brush. I used to visit my friend Kimi in her art studio, where she made huge abstract expressionist paintings, from floor to ceiling. She routinely had her vibrator plugged in, lying on the rug next to her latest canvas, along with her brushes, rags, and colors. She caught me looking at it one day, and she said, "I can't help it, I get so excited sometimes! And other times I'm so tired, this is the only thing that gets me going again."

People have long debated whether eroticism saps their energy or lets it fly. A physical orgasm can sometimes make you so weak in the knees that you feel closer to a nap than to creating a masterpiece. But that's why it's so important to see the difference between the release of an orgasm and the release of the creative sexual mind.

A fantasy never leaves you exhausted, an erotic inspiration never tires you out. Erotic inspiration can be released through orgasms--but that's just one way. More important is that sexual creativity stems from living life as if you were making something of it-instead of being made over. I'm not talking about denying physical release, or saving your jizz up like some precious reservoir. No, I mean the way we express the juice of our greatest joys, and some of the most righteous justice in our lives. Why don't we recognize the erotic element in that passion?

Full Exposure. Copyright © by Susie Bright. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2000

    Much Needed

    A fearless boosterism for sex as creativity. We need a lot more of this. There is plenty left unsaid. Go Susie.

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