The Stranger: Susie, when your career in sexual politics began, it was still a powerful statement to be sex positive and expressive. At the end of the '90s, do you feel your message has as much bite as it did in the '70s and '80s? Is your point still salient for people in their mid-20s or younger who grew up relatively sexually liberated?
Susie Bright: Mid-20s! Are you kidding? They are so much more conservative than my generation was at that age, it's shocking. They want to find the one true love, get married in a punk rock wedding, but live in monogamous gothic bliss ever after. Everyone in college is "slut-phobic" -- slut being the designation of anyone who is seen to be sexual without remorse or a ring on their finger. It's a little better on the West Coast than the East, and I'm sure your Stranger readers are the biggest sluts in town and therefore may not know of what I speak. But believe me... the moralistic after-effects of AIDS have been chilling. Young people are more liberal on social issues of sexuality, such as gay "marriage," but more conservative about their own personal sexual feelings. And why not? For the last 10 years young people -- "children" as we call everyone under 20 now -- have been fetishized as deviant sex objects; catalysts to pedophilia, delinquency, and Internet pornography. You can hardly say "child" anymore without someone overhearing you and thinking you are having an obscene discussion. No wonder young people want to close the whole world out of their erotic development.
TS: Is your writing inspired by your sex life, or your sex life by your writing?
SB: Well, writing well does make me feel foxy. And I do have thoughts during sex that I then think, wow, that would be a great thing to write about. I don't keep a calculator around to count these times up, it just happens intuitively and frequently!
TS: You encourage your readers to recognize everyone as sexual beings -- even your parents. What do your mom and dad think of your writing? Does your mom read your books?
SB: No, but my dad not only reads them, he is my best editor. My parents are divorced; my mom supports my work "at a distance," you might say. She has traditional liberal views about sex education, free speech, and so on, but it would embarrass her to read my books, I think. She has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about many things, and this is one of them. She is a good writer herself; both my parents are.
TS: If sexuality was no longer repressed, would it lose power as a creative catalyst? Become blasé?
SB: No. Because no one ever gets tired of an erotic moment, or an intimate rapport... it's just advertising and titillation that gets wearying.
TS: You talk about the language of sex. What is your favorite sexual language? What words exemplify the sexual experience for you?
SB: Hmmm... I like "fuck" and "cunt," personally, I really do, and not just for shock effect. I think they sound like what they are, which is nice. I also like colloquial euphemisms for sex parts and sex play, a word or phrase that tells you about the culture it comes from. Probably the most dreary words are the medical anatomy ones, but even they have their place sometimes.
TS: You make a strong correlation between sex and creativity in your book. From there it is a small step to spirituality. How does your sex life inspire you spiritually, and vice versa?
SB: I think my Catholic background was very passionate, especially in all its exaltation of Mary and Jesus, the Crucifixion as ultimate orgasm, etc. Even though I'm no longer a believer, my fantasy life is still inspired by those early feelings in my childhood catechism. I love looking at the erotic qualities of faith in general now; I'm kind of an ecstatic agnostic, I suppose.
TS: Are you wearing a bra?
SB: Yes, thank you for reminding me; I want to take it off.