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The Erotica Project

The Erotica Project
- by Lillian Ann Slugocki and Erin Cressida Wilson

ISBN 1573441163

available through Amazon

Reviewed by Susannah Indigo (12/20/00)

The two female playwrights who wrote The Erotica Project, first for radio, then off-Broadway, and now in print, posed naked together atop a mirrored Plexiglas bar in the middle of the afternoon, wearing nothing but suede high heels, in order to promote their work. They considered this more a political act than a sexual one, they say, "because intelligent, serious writers are not photographed naked, ever." Especially when they are near forty years old.

I have to like them just for this, even though they both look quite lovely and model-like in their photographs. I also like them for carrying on through a certain amount of grief from critics when The Erotica Project was created -- I skimmed the online reviews of the New York play, and every possible complaint was there, ranging from the basic "it's porn" fuss to a criticism for their not using more body-types, ethnic actors, and gay experiences. But they say they were just two white, heterosexual women who were friends, and they wanted to put on their own vision of strong women owning all aspects of their sexuality.

And the book is indeed powerful. Some of my favorite erotic writing is short, poetic pieces that work best if read out loud -- writing that lands with the impact of a good poem. I've been reading The Best American Poetry 2000 alongside The Erotica Project, alternating back and forth, since neither can be read entirely in a single sitting without sensory overload. At some point the poetry mixes in with the erotic writing and it seems to me that with a little more boldness in our world, they could be intermixed. Both should be read with a bit of poetic drama for maximum impact, and both of them reach inside to touch you someplace beyond ordinary literature.

The 75 stories (prose poems? monologues? hard to know what exactly to call them) in The Erotica Project range from the smutty to the soulful to the mildly shocking, and they come complete with interspersed black and white photos of the women, my favorite of which shows them both naked, with one of them covered in papers and books on all her private parts, and the second woman is writing on her belly amidst the papers.

Some of my favorite writing is from "A Man in My Thighs," where Wilson writes a single, gorgeous, 200 word sentence that is most of the piece:

Objectify me and I'll objectify you, and that will be our highest form of love. I don't want anything intricate. I don't need S/M, special novel sex, touch-my-clit-this-way sex, be sure to screw me only when the scent of rotten apples is filling the bed, make sure that Vivaldi is playing, that the Backstreet Boys are blaring, fuck me with pornography weighing us down on the bed, sit in the corner and dial up a 900 woman who will give you a blow job over the phone, and whack off for me - while you retain a calm voice over the phone, shoot your spunk onto a centerfold, take a bite of steak before making out with me, plant tulips and mangoes and apricots in my cunt and eat them out of me, bronze my nipples and put them in the Smithsonian, cast your torso and let me carry it around as a handbag, open up a small café in my pussy and invite your parents and all your friends over for coffee, look into my eyes and let your pupils dilate as you come and mouth my name - and when you make me come, it's like a house with a goddamn chimney flowing because you are home.

Many of the stories are passionate like that, and some have a bit of a girl-power twist, like "When He Kisses Me":

In my dream he pulls the sheets back and they are clean, a clean white-silk landscape. He stands over me and takes off his clothes, lies down next to me, pours me a glass of cold champagne. Pours the champagne over my naked body, licks it up, and makes love to me. Afterward, I am wrapped up in his white robe. He thinks I am unattainable, fashionable, and passionate. I sit silently, inscrutably, and lap up my hot coffee. It will take him a lifetime to get inside my head, inside my heart, but he is willing to wait. Because, by God, here is a woman worth waiting for.

There is also a section on youth, full of plenty of attitude, called "Sex at Nineteen," and a closing section called, "When I Kiss You, Your Mouth is Filled," complete with some true power in "Ten Thousand Volts of Electricity":

I want a prescription for Valium, Librium, and cocaine. And then I want ten thousand volts of electricity shot through my skull so I'll forget everything. I want Freud, Jung and Miller to screw me and every TV talk-box idiot to write my life story on the back of a pack of matches, sell it for a quarter on the corner where they sell dime bags of pot. I want long black hair, red lipstick, high heels dug into the small of my back. I want a black man and a white woman to tongue me to death and ten thousand volts of electricity shot hot up to my pussy. Hook me up to a socket, wire me, brain me, shock me.

I'd go see The Erotica Project in a flash if it came anywhere near my town, and I can't think of a more soulful and sexier way to spend an evening than to read some of these with your lover, a group of friends, or on a long-distance phone call to someone in need of a little post-holiday cheer.

©2000 by Susannah Indigo

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Susannah Indigo is the Editor-in-Chief of Clean Sheets.


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