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Dr. Susana Mayer Talks about SenSexual: A Unique Anthology

Susana Mayer anthology pictureIt’s my pleasure to have Dr. Susana Mayer as my guest today. Susana Mayer, Ph.D is a sexuality consultant/educator, creator/host of the Erotic Literary Salon, and founder of the SenSexual Press. In addition to editing “SenSexual: A Unique Anthology 2013” she is presently working on her series, “The Ageless Sex Life™.” Dr. Mayer has a MPH and Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, is a board certified sexologist, a member of the American Academy of SexologistsAmerican Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), and the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS).

KD:  Welcome back to A Hopeful Romantic, Dr. Mayer. It’s a pleasure to have you here and with such exciting news. Could you tell my readers a little about SenSexual: A Unique Anthology 2013. What makes it so special.

SM: The anthology follows the blueprint of the Salon, all writings are of a sensual or sexual nature, and both fiction and non-fiction are represented. There is a treasury of short stories, anecdotes, essays, poems, diaries, memoirs, letters, emails and sextings, along with a generous selection of styles, settings, characters and intensity, plus backstories to accompany each piece.

KD: I understand that the anthologies – there are two volumes, am I correct– are dedicated to Dr. Frances Seidman, who is a psychologist and was the head of a distinguished family and marriage clinic for over 30 years. Dr. Seidman first started writing erotica at 91, specifically for the Erotic Literary Salon founded in 2008, which is totally astounding! How did you come to know Dr. Seidman?

SM: The story is long, probably another books worth. The short story – my mother introduced us in the late 1990’s and soon after my mom died unexpectedly and Frances’ husband, of 64 years, died after suffering with cancer for several years. We connected via email when she missed my mother during their winter months together, snowbirding in Florida. We have been together for the past 10 years, except in the winter, when she continues to travel south for warmth.

KD: Could you tell us a little bit about Dr. Seidman’s wonderful reading of Go the Fok to Sleep (Here is the Youtube link) It must have been amazing to have seen her read it live at the Erotic Literary Salon.

SM: In the summer of 2011 I had shared Adam Mansbach’s book with her. She immediately said she wanted to read it at the Salon. The audience loved her reading and I contacted the author for permission to tape. He gave it most gladly and apologized for not attending, since he had since moved from Philadelphia to California. When she return in 2012, we taped the reading and once again the attendees responded with great laughter.

KD: Dare I ask, what’s your favourite part of the anthology?

SM: No favorite part, just the fact that my dream of creating one when I first started the Salon actually came to fruition. It is such an unusual anthology so I wasn’t certain how people would respond. So far all the reviews have been stellar.

KD: I’m once again seeing this wonderfully delicious term, which you coined, SenSexual – such a celebratory term for embracing of our sexuality. Could you explain the term to our readers and tell us how it came about.

SM: I was tired of the pornography/erotica debate. As I stated in the book, “Why “sensexual”? It’s a sensual, sexy new term that bypasses all the old judgments around divisive labels like “erotica” and “pornography.” Pornography usually conjures up negative judgments, while erotica, a more toned-down term, is most often equated with sexual material for women. The subjective line between erotica and pornography is personal, temporal and culturally prescribed, and “sensexual” breaks down this boundary.”

KD: The lovely press release you sent me about the SenSensual anthologies had this to say about Dr. Seidman’s association with The Erotic Literary Salon. Individuals attending the Salon have said her mere presence gave them permission to feel comfortable with erotica. Her writings will most likely do the same for people who have shame or guilt regarding verbal turn-ons. That’s a major part of The Erotic Literary Salon, and clearly Dr. Seidman’s and your mission, isn’t it? Could you talk a little bit about how that’s being achieved at ELS, and with the anthologies.

SM: The Salon means so many things to so many people. The writers/readers that present at the Salon often share their most intimate journals and sex memoirs. A few work out their traumatic sexual experiences, others share their glowing memories. Then there are the fiction writers who are honing their skills and hoping for publication. The attendees who come to enjoy and applaud play a huge role in supporting the readers. We even have a ritual where all ‘virgin’ readers get a round of applause even before they speak, just to lesson their nerves a bit.

The mere presence of the Salon gives people the opportunity to share and I often have people tell me how grateful they are for this comfortable, safe space. One many even called me “courageous.” Until the original cover of my book was recently blocked by Amazon and prweb I foolishly didn’t realize censorship still exists.

Dr. Seidman’s reason for reading is more of a personal challenge. Initially she just wanted to share one story to say that she did it, could do it, and to support me. Now she challenges herself to write, since she never considered herself a writer and certainly not of erotica. At 96 she is still working on the next story, a recent date with a man in his mid-60’s. She wants to have something to read when she returns in May, and the attendees are already asking when she will be back up north. They love her honesty and hope she represents, hope of possibility, that 96 might be chronologically old but does not have to be spiritually old. The anthology ends with her words regarding the question often asked of her, ” What is My (her) Secret.?”

KD: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, Dr. Mayer, and how the Erotic Literary Salon came to be. Those of us outside Philadelphia are very jealous.

SM: I came to my title late in life. In 2009 I received my Ph.D., reinventing myself as a sexologist; retirement is just not a part of my vocabulary. The Salon was an outgrowth of my studies, looking for various catalysts that women could use to spark their libidos.

KD: The Erotic Literary Salon has recently established the SenSexual Press. Could you tell us a little bit about it and about its plans and goals?

SM: The Sensexual Press was founded specifically to publish the anthology. But then I realized there are a lot of gifted writers that don’t fall Susana Mayer image psyche eroshighres_6293902into the typical erotica categories and they also need a vehicle for their voice. Hopefully within the next few years you will be able to read some of the words of these atypical writers.

KD: As I looked down through the list of contributors and excerpts from the SenSexual Anthology, I couldn’t help noticing how diverse the list is and that there are works by writers from all over. Is there any way writers who don’t live in Philadelphia participate in the Erotic Literary Salon?

SM: Philadelphia is a gem of a city and the Salon is a wonderful excuse to visit. But if that is not a possibility, at this time I’m working on ways to share the Salon internationally. Keep reading my (almost) daily blog or subscribe to my bi-monthly newsletter for up to date information on my progress. If this copy of “SenSexual” sells well I will put out another call for submissions, which will also be mentioned in blog and newsletter. You can also send me your piece to have read at the Salon. Must be less than 5 minutes in length. What is unique about the Salon – I censor nothing.

KD: Thank you, Dr. Mayer, for stopping by. It’s good to have you back.

*****

SenSexual: A Unique Anthology 2013 is a treasury of steamy, provocative, authentic works, bound to challenge stereotypes and expand the readers’ literary and erotic horizons. Susana Mayer, Ph.D., delivers for the first time in print, the same mix of soul-stirring, edgy, brazen writings, along with the authors’ illuminating backstories and her occasional revealing commentaries that have lead to raucous laughter, unabashed tears and occasional squirming at her long running Erotic Literary Salon in Philadelphia. http://www.theEroticliterarysalon.com

Fifty authors have contributed tender memories of love, spirited sex and spicy communications to this exceptional two-volume anthology, transporting the reader through heart-pounding, seductive, occasionally kinky works to celebrate the diversity of sexual fascinations and desires. The generous selection of styles, settings, characters and intensity can act as a catalyst for couples to share their erotic fantasies and explore their sexual expressions. Individuals will also have the opportunity to discover what turns them on verbally.

SenSexual: A Unique Anthology 2013 takes people beyond Fifty Shades of Grey. Dr. Susana Mayer, sexologist (The Ageless Sex Life™), founder and host of the Erotic Literary Salon, and editor of this text, recommends both men and women share this book with their intimate partner, friends and book club members. It will spark a conversation or discussion that will range from entertaining to life-changing.

SenSexual: A Unique Anthology 2013 Kindle ebook available now on Amazon.com

 SenSexual: A Unique Anthology 2013 Kindle ebook available now on  Amazon.co.uk

Free Kindle app for all electronic devices, available on Amazon

You can follow more of Dr, Mayer’s work and passions on Facebook, Twitter, and on her websites:

www.theEroticliterarysalon.com

www.SusanaMayer.com 

www.SenSexualPress.com

*****

Excerpts:

 Gwen Masters: White

… the rush matched the way he made her feel when he did that one little thing he liked to do between her legs, that one sweet motion that sent her to the moon and back….

 

Rachel Fogletto: Distracted

You are inappropriate

I’m at my job and I’m trying to focus on completing paperwork

And the thought of fucking you is more distracting than my hangover, my…

 

Sharazade: Next

…He smiled at her, and she smiled back weakly. “I’m sorry,” she apologized. “I think I’m finished.”

His smile took on a wicked edge. “Finished? Oh, hardly….”

 

I.G. Frederick: Leather Love

The sound of leather slapping against

flesh is an aphrodisiac that

makes me wet in anticipation…

 

Riccardo Berra: It’s So Much Easier When You’re Away

…She pushes me down and straddles me. Her hand flutters between my legs. Touching me everywhere. Like a solitary traveler asleep on a long journey, I awaken to discover that I’ve reached my destination with no memory that time has passed….

 

M/ Lilii – Black Dahlia Creative: (267) XXX-XXXX- mobile

She: How are you today? 2:58 PM

He: Only laying around thinking of ways to make u moan the loudest 3:02 PM

 

Liz Adams: The Artist

She pinched her nipples and bolts of electricity shot straight between her thighs. She placed a hand there and felt herself dripping, eager to be filled….

 

 

 

 

 

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Susana Mayer Talks About the Fabulous Erotic Literary Salon

I had the privilege of reading for Susana Mayer’s Erotic Literary Salon on tour while I was in Las Vegas for Erotic Authors Association Conference. The experience was one of the highlights of the conference for me, and ever since, I’ve been dying to know more about the Salon and about the woman who made it happen. And now is my chance. I feel very honoured to have Susana Mayer as my guest on A Hopeful Romantic. Welcome, Susana!

KD: What would you most like people to know about Susana Mayer?

Susana: I have recently reinvented myself as a sexologist, receiving my MA in Public Health 2005, and Ph.D. in Human Sexuality 2009. I am not a writer of erotica, except for the occasional titillating emails I send to my beloved.

Presently, I am working on several projects; a unique anthology, ebook form (more info. can be found at the Salon’s website) and a non-fiction self-help ebook to better understand the complexity of libido, sex drive and sexual desire. Bibliotherapy is one of my passions.

K D: Tell us about the Erotic Literary Salon. How did it come about, and how has it evolved since its beginnings.

Susana: Creating the Erotic Literary Salon was a culmination of a lifetime love of erotica coupled with my dissertation investigations (searching for a catalyst for women’s desire to have sex). Conclusions drawn from the research and the sexual climate in the US led me to believe the time was right to mainstream erotica in Philadelphia.

The social messages women have been receiving did not allow “good girls” to admit to enjoying fantasies they consider pornographic. Based on media marketing, our society allows men the liberty of enjoying hard core material, whereas women are relegated to fantasies spurred on by soft core erotica.

Pornography usually conjures up negative judgements, and erotica is a term that is most often equated with sexual material for women. I must admit when I initially created the Salon, it was geared towards women, and I too used the term erotica so as not to offend my prospective attendees. The terms Literary and Salon were marketing tools to extend legitimacy to the event, since I realized porn or pornography would immediately offend people who equated this term with degradation.

Unfortunately, but ultimately most fortunately, the public space where the Salon was to be held could not discriminate against men. From the very onset the Salon attendance has been approximately equal among the sexes. Ages range from twenty-one (liquor law restrict minors from attending) to mid-nineties. Couples, singles, poly — all sexual orientations and an ethnic mix all attend the Salon.

This event has gone through several transitions since its inception. Initially the format followed most closely the concept of a true French Salon. Works were shared, discussed, and critiqued. It has now developed into performance, where the attendees expect to be entertained by the readings. Occasionally I have featured performers who incorporate music, song, or movement with their erotic presentation.

As the host of this event I try to keep the evening flexible, open to the possibilities of discussions, critiques and Q & A. The featured presenters, number of readers and attendee’s responses all impact how the evening will proceed.

It still surprises me when I hear attendees express their gratitude for having a venue to share their sensexual* writings sans censorship. Remarks like; “Susana is doing a very brave thing….It’s hard to overstate what a remarkable event you produce each month….Philly needs something like this,” remind me there are no other events of this kind presently in this area and few in the entire country.

People have confided in me how writing and sharing their words have helped them deal with a myriad of issues. Often this is the only occasion they have to hear how others express their sexuality. Exposure to these writings, especially journals and first person works, have given them the opportunity to reflect on their own sexuality. It can be of great comfort to know that there is such a variety of styles to creating sexual pleasure. For those who are troubled by sexual pleasure, the sharing of words may assuage their guilt.

The Salon has also given victims of sexual abuse an outlet to share their shame. By giving voice to their distress, in some instances the mere act of sharing has relieved them of the burden of shame. For others the control of the pen has allowed individuals to rewrite their sexual history, enabling them to cope more positively with their traumas.

Some people attend the Salon just to enjoy a night out with their friends, or it can be an unusual place to take their date. For an increasing core group of regulars, it is a community of like-minded people who enjoy sensexuala*.

The Salon is many things to many people, but one thing is a constant – each Salon is unique. I never know how the evening will progress, since each month the readings and featured presenters vary. Similar to my daily posts at the Salon’s website, I lend my voice to this event by offering news items with my sex positive spin. Individuals are given the opportunity to view a sexual newsworthy item from a different perspective. As a muse for this event I feel these items not only educate but can be used as research material for their writings.

The Salon also continues via the web between gatherings. Those unable to attend because of distance constraints are able to share their works on the site, while enjoying some of the readings from the Salon. A professor of English in India expressed his gratitude for having a community that would enjoy his writings and comment on them.

I believe the mainstreaming of sensexuala in Philadelphia is slowly becoming a reality. The first year the Salon averaged between 20-30 people. These numbers have climbed to 60-80 attendees any given month.

K D: The Salon sounds like such a wonderful community to be a part of, and I think it’s fabulous that there is a website where those outside of Philadelphia can connect up with that community. You must have so many amazing memories of the Salon, Susana, can you tell us, what was your most memorable experience of the Salon?

Susana: The Salon’s nonagenarian, Frances (she’s my Chosen Mom), read the best seller, “Go the FOK to Sleep.” Can you envision a 94 year old, white haired, 4’6” slim built, beyond wrinkled woman, armed with elocution lessons from grade school (sans microphone) reciting this adult story disguised as a children’s book to Salon attendees? She brought down the house. I have extended an offer to the author to attend in May to hear her once again read this piece. I hope to get permission to video tape and post it on youtube and my website. Can’t imagine him declining.

K D: Wow! I would have loved to be there for THAT reading! It must have been amazing. Susana, how do you see the future of the Erotic Literary Salon? What plans do you have for it?

Susana: I am considering adding several larger events, with the Salon as the foundation while including visual arts, music, dance for a spectacular evening of sensexuala. I’m also in the process of creating a Salon ebook press, not only to publish the Salon’s anthology, but also works of others. The Erotic Literary Salon is becoming an established brand, and I want to spread the word of sensexual writings as a tool for bibliotherapy.

*sensexuala/sensexual. A combination of (sensual & sexual) that does not carry the same judgmental values as those attributed to erotica and pornography. You get to enjoy the value of the piece, eliminating the need to discuss the sub-genre classifications.

K D: Thank you, Susana, for sharing with us. It’s been such a pleasure to interview you, and you’ve raised so many other wonderful questions that I’d love to pursue further that I hope you’ll come back again soon.

 

 

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What Happened in Vegas: Part 2

Friday morning, I arrive at registration for the Erotic Authors Association Conference to find Nan Andrews, DL King and Kathleen Bradean working the table. I’m in awe. My heroes are giving me a swag bag and a name tag! If that’s not enough, my name tag has a red ribbon that tells everyone I’m a panelist. That’s right, me. I’m a panelist!

Breakfast is a bit like Christmas morning. We’re all pawing through our goody bags when Hazel Cushion, my publisher from Xcite Books, arrives followed closely by the lovely Sharazade — at long last we meet face to face!

There’s barely time for greetings and to ask how everyone’s trip was before the publisher’s panel begins. Hazel, representing Xcite Books along with M Christian from Renaissance E Books, Brenda Knight from Cleis Press, Lori Perkins from Ravenous Romance, and Cecilia Tan from Circlet Press are all on the panel.

I take notes fast and furiously and there is no shortage of questions about ePublishing vs print as well as the future of self-publishing in the age of the eBook. Everyone agrees that in spite of all the upheaval eBooks have brought into the world of publishing and in spite of all the changes, it’s a very good time to be a writer. Now there are more possibilities than there have ever been before.

I’m on the Erotic Romance panel with Shawn Clements and Lorna Hinson from Torquere Press and Sascha Illyvich from Renaissance E Books. Talking romance, whether erotic or not, is always a chemistry lesson, and one of my favourite topics, so the hour goes fast.

As one who has a deep appreciation of the beauty and symmetry of grammar, the next session could have been tailor-made for me. I hurry off to Sexy, Sexy Grammar, taught by Jean Roberta and Sharazade. Grammar has never been so hot, nor so much fun!

For every session I attend, there are two I miss, along with a group of fabulous readings, and the readings are sizzling! I need clones of myself!

I have lunch in the darkly paneled, stained glass gloom of The Victorian Café in Bill’s Gambling Hall. What starts out as lunch with Sharazade and Katie Salidas ends up being a party when I. G. Frederick invites us to a huge round table where Jean Roberta, Jolie Du Pre, Zetta Brown, friends, partners and a totally cool waitress are all squeezed together talking promo, inspiration and lunch. It is then I realize I have fifteen minutes to finish my general’s chicken and get back to the Flamingo for my reading. Of course I’m in the middle of the big round booth, so everyone slides and I make a dash for it.

I feel a little nervous reading opposite M J Williamz, Cecilia Tan and Kate Dominic with Remittance Girl in the audience, but sex on a Harley from The Initiation of Ms Holly, I’m comfortable with, and everyone else seems to enjoy. We all end up laughing and talking after.

When the last session of the day is over, we are all invited up to Cecilia Tan’s suite for a wine, cheese, and chocolate party. Even without the wine, cheese and chocolate, who could resist a chance to chat with the fabulous Cecilia Tan! I don’t remember the wine and cheese, but I do remember being in a sun drenched pink and white sixties-style suite with the buzz of erotic writer-talk all around Cecilia Tan, who is seated on the sofa and Lori Perkins, who is standing by the door. Wow! Who needs wine?

The big event of the day is ‘One Very Steamy Las Vegas Evening’ at The Erotic Heritage Museum. Susana Mayer has brought ‘The Erotic Literary Salon’ on tour. There is an open mic and more readers than there is time for. There are at least twenty people, each with only five minutes to read. Rachel Kramer Bussel Kicks off the reading, Hazel Cushion make a rare reading appearance, Emerald, Jolie Du Pre, I. G. Frederick, Cecilia Tan, Laura Antoniou,  just to name a few, are all reading stories from the many facets of erotica.

Sadly, I didn’t know about the event in time to get signed up. Happily, in spite of a full house, enough people don’t show up that there is room for me and several others to read. Sadly,(and stupidly) I don’t have Holly with me. Happily (and smartly) Hazel is sitting next to me with a huge bag full of Xcite anthologies, one of which just happens to be Dark Desires: Love that’s Out of This World, which contains my story, ‘Flaws.’ Sadly, I’ve never practiced reading any of this story for an audience. Happily that doesn’t stop me.

In the end, I read about a sexy love spell gone awry. I do this while standing between two giant velvet draped beds and a plethora of white marble penises taller than I am. Oh yes, a good time was had by all!

Back at the Flamingo, Hazel, Sharazade, and a friend of hers, and I buy beer and peanuts at the hotel shop and find a quiet table outside the casino in the gardens next to the habitat where the flamingos stand sleeping with their heads tucked under their wings. Writerly people love to talk, and casino bars are not good places to talk. Sleeping flamingos, however, are the perfect ambiance for conversations about publishing and editing and story, and I realize that though Las Vegas wouldn’t normally be my cup of tea, a quiet table in the desert heat with other writers is certainly my bottle of beer.

The next day begins with a full house for the editor’s panel, with Miranda Forbes, D. L. King, Kelli Collins and Rachel Kramer Bussel. I attend two reading sessions, finally getting to hear the ever so hot and talented Sharazade read steamy tales of travel sex from her book, Transported: Erotic Travel Tales. I love the fabulous Blake C. Aarens’s John Malkovich fantasy and Emerald’s amazing tale of first-time rope bondage to the music of Pink Floyd is not only erotic, but moving. I find myself wishing I could attend all the readings. Listening to what other writers write, allowing myself to be pulled into their stories, is one of the best ways to learn to be a better writer. I know I can read all those stories, and that’s good too, but experiencing the tale aurally adds more depth, more sensuality to the experience.

Graydancer’s hands-on kink session is one of the highlights of the day. His basic introduction to BDSM and kink for erotica writers who want to make sure they get the kink right is invaluable. In fact, the rope bondage demo spills over into the cocktail party afterwards with the leotard-clad Sharazade volunteering to be bound, and volunteering yours truly to take photos.

As Sharazade sheds her bonds and leotard for the beads and sparkles of her evening gown, Aisling Weaver announces the party will continue over at her suite in the Cosmopolitan. She and her lovely partner even go so far as to shoo us all into a yummy stretch limo for the short, but luxurious drive to the Cosmo, where we all enjoy the views of the Bologgio Fountains and the Eifel Tower from their balcony. There are more readings from iPads and Blackberries as people come and go.

Eventually Hazel, Sharazade, Jolie, and I opt for one last photo session along the Strip, and I am once again back amid the holiday making crowds and the women in wedding gowns taking photo ops in front of the Bologgio fountains and the Saturday night revelers. We make it as far as The Venetian before the rain starts, then we hurry back to the Flamingo drenched and giggling, pushing and shoving our way through the press of people in the deluge.

Back in my room, I fall into bed and slept like the dead.

I end my adventure in Vegas over breakfast with Hazel and Sharazade back in the dark Victorian. After good-byes all around, I catch the shuttle to the airport. The Sunday morning shuttle riders are more subdued than those I arrived with three days ago, and it’s nice to stare  out the window at the city, now quiet and pale in the desert sun, and reflect on the adventure I had in Vegas, the things I learned, the new friends I made, and the intimations already being whispered about next year’s Erotic Author’s Association Conference.

 

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