The Sex Culture Book Fair was this weekend and it blew my mind. Jeff Ray from Adobe Books and David from Belle SF Magazine first came to me in October and said, “let’s collaborate.” They let me loose brainstorming ideas, but none of us had any idea how it would all work out. First time events are always a gamble. In our first meeting their eyes widened as I reeled off the names of people I’d like to get involved. That would be awesome they said. But I really had no clue if I could pull it off. I was talking about my mentors, my heroes, the people who built the foundation of the culture in San Francisco we all love. The sex culture revolutionaries who I admired from across the ocean before I even arrived here.
I got Mission Control in on the action to represent the community. They produced the back room with kinky demos and naked girls reading. This was not your grandma’s book fair.
For me the highlight of Saturday’s event was the “Legends” panel. I invited Carol Queen, Ron Turner, V Vale, and Violet Blue to join me at a pokey little bookshop in the Mission for a conversation about sex culture in San Francisco and they all said yes. Holy shit. This is my life.
Carol Queen has been a mentor since I arrived in San Francisco. Her generosity and support have always humbled me. She’s one of the reasons I fell in love with this town. Pervy, edgy writer, and producer of pagan sex parties. My kinda lady. Ron Turner is the founder of Last Gasp, a publishing company who has been publishing the unpublishable since 1970. Sexy, nasty, weird, underground, offensive, subversive books. If you’re a friend of mine you probably have some on your bookshelves, even if you don’t know it. V Vale produces RESearch—the series that brought us Angry Women and Modern Primitives, two of the most influential books on me in my early 20s, purchased at Waterstone’s Bookstore in Camden Town and carried home in the rain to be devoured, my young mind a sponge for these compendiums of bizarre performance art. Violet Blue is the woman who was taking San Francisco by storm when I arrived here. Who was blogging about sex in the early ‘00s? She was.
So here I am sitting with this panel of unbelievably awesome people. They’re here because I asked them to be. I’m having a moment. I gather myself and try to appear professional when all I want to do is jump up and down with a shit eating grin on my face and shout “LOOK WHAT I DID, DAD!!!!” I ask about pivotal moments in their careers. The microphone is passed down and they each tell a story about a person, an encounter, an event.
Ron Turner talks about the Mayor’s party he produced where performance artists carved pentagrams on their backs, pissed on each other and were sodomized by a Jack Daniels bottle, Violet Blue pipes up, “they were my room mates!” Then she talks about the time the Billboard Liberation Front pasted pictures of her face all over town. The Chronicle had decided to launch her sex column with a whimper rather than a bang, but San Francisco wouldn’t let it happen. They talk about their heroes: Betty Dodson, Margot St James, Susie Bright, Patrick Califia.
As they’re talking I realize this is my pivotal moment.
Soak it up, Polly. Your idols have become your friends.