A day after the West Coast launch of Aphrodite’s Pen on the actual publication day, September 24, 2019, I was still blissed out. What an exquisite evening! We were blessed with six of the twelve contributors to the book, reading interviews and stories for an enthusiastic crowd. The venue, Good Vibrations in Berkeley, is a woman-owned and operated erotic toy store – the perfect setting for our event. Our editor from North Atlantic Books, Alison Knowles, was on hand along with publicists Julia Sadowski and Bevin Donohue. I loved sharing this special evening with them.
Our readers spanned the full range of experience, from new erotic writers Rene Johns and Sue Kay, to established writers like Dorothy Freed (author of Perfect Strangers) and award winning erotic poet Jan Steckel. The message of the evening, like the message of the book, was to welcome new writers to join us, playing with words and capturing our stories.
Jan Steckel kicked off the event with an interview excerpt, sharing her transition from physician to erotic writer (her father once introduced her at a party by saying, “This is my daughter Jan. She used to be a pediatrician and now she’s a pornographer”).
Billie Berlin performed two stories, including “Summertime 1957,” about an encounter with Elvis on a hot summer day.
Rene Johns and Sue Kay both read from their interviews about the joy of discovering erotic writing in workshops with supportive writers.
Fran Spector read her story about an encounter with a sexually charged statue in a museum.
Dorothy Freed's interview closed out the readings, taking the long view as a sexual woman and a writer. She remembered reading to an audience five days after her stroke, when she had limited function in her hands and could only make an X. “An X for an X-rated story!” she recalled one attendee saying, “What genius!” During the book signing after the reading, one audience member asked Dorothy to sign his copy of Aphrodite’s Pen with an X. She loved it.
Another attendee asked me to sign his copy and said, “It was amazing to see this. You were just like a family up there.” He was right. For all of us who read, writing erotica together builds incredible camaraderie. One of my favorite chapters in Aphrodite’s Pen is “Writing Sisters.” It is about the joy of being in an Elderotica writing group, and includes instructions for how to set up your own group. Writing erotica on your own is great. But having experienced writing together and the friendships that come from it, my fond hope is that Elderotica writing groups will spring up all over the country.
For women past midlife to make ourselves visible through erotic writing is an act of rebellion. I’m proud to be part of this joyful revolution.