It’s an extremely busy time for Susana Mayer.
The Philly-based sexologist is in the midst of her new book and, in supplying information for this story, was also in the throes of finalizing everything for said book to hungry publishers.
The book, “Does Sex Have an Expiration Date? Rethinking Low Libido for Women Aged 35-105 and the Men Who Love Them: A Guide to Developing Your Ageless Sex Life” is pretty self-explanatory by way of title. This exploration is much of the focus of Mayer, the founder and host of the Erotic Literary Salon, which for more than a decade has been a place for people to meet and learn about all things sex, a place to share sex stories through storytelling and first-person dialogue, and discuss any and all topics surrounding, you guessed it, sex.
It’s perhaps why, despite knowing very little about First Person Arts, it made sense for the two to combine forces for the production of an Erotic Slam called “The First Time.” In it, a series of storytellers will read their unique stories across a host of sex topics and themes. Attendees are also encouraged to join in and tell their sex stories, for better or worse, in a safe space where discussion is encouraged.
Mayer knows this type of conversation works.
It has for the past 11 years for her since starting the Erotic Literary Salon.
“[The purpose of the Erotic Literary Salon] is to provide people a different experience and perhaps a more comfortable scene to share sexually explicit stories,” Mayer said via email to PW. “Non-fiction, fiction, poetry, all styles of work are presented. The pieces do not have to be memorized, it is not about the presentation. There is no judging, it is about the content. There is a wide range of presentations, from spoken word to ones read off of a phone. I often hear the words ‘safe and comfortable’ space to describe the Salon.”
As for Mayer, she’ll also have plans to give a reading at the event focusing on the “Silver Lining of Low Libido.” There’s a stigma around life at a certain age and the sex (or lack thereof) that is believed to arrive as a result. Mayer hopes the grind she’s putting in between a new book and speaking on a platform like the First Person Arts Festival has the power to spark a change in beliefs.
“For people who have never attended the Erotic Literary Salon, the Erotic Slam will give them a taste of some of the styles of work they might be exposed to at the Salon,” wrote Mayer. “At the Salon, it is not unusual for me to notice a person connect with a heartfelt story or one involving trauma. By their facial expression, I know an ‘aha’ moment has been realized. Other times they connect with a story involving fetishes, and I know they have just realized they are not the “only ones.”
The first hour of the event is planned as a mini sex-ed class, but it’s by design. It’s hard to understand the full scope of the immersive stories planned on the night without some cursory knowledge of sex from a scientific barometer. This notion of knowledge leading to acceptance – or at least understanding – makes for a better event. It’s the foundation of what the 11-year run of the Erotic Literary Salon is built and one Mayer writes won’t waver in this collaboration with FPA for the Erotic Slam.
“The stories to be heard at the Erotic Slam have one thing in common – the first time the reader experienced something, and I suggested the theme refer to something sexual,” Mayer wrote. “These curated presenters are used to sharing edgy pieces in a sexually explicit manner. These pieces might make some people squirm and others think ‘eek, did that really happen?’”
While this is Mayer’s first collaboration with First Person Arts on this topic, this is not her first rodeo. She knows of the power such storytelling has to change the notion, inspire courage and incite exploration – regardless of age.
“I’m not imagining this since I receive emails often thanking me for holding the [Erotic Literary Salon] space and telling me how they could relate to a specific story,” wrote Mayer. “I can only hope someone attending the Erotic Slam will have a similar response.”
The First Time | Nov. 4, 7 p.m. $15 ($17 at door), TIME Restaurant, 1315 Sansom St. my.firstpersonarts.org/single/SelectSeating.aspx?p=63549