Perverts give good poetry

Pub date July 27, 2011

LUST FOR LIFE I work at the St. James Infirmary, an occupational health clinic for current and former sex workers. The clinic is a beneficiary of Dore Alley’s Up Your Alley Fair — a pride celebration for kinky people and little sister of the Folsom Street Fair — so every year I have to a work a shift at the festival. I haven’t been able to enjoy the actual street fair aspect of it for a while. But I always look forward to this week, and to Dore Alley Eve (as those of us in the kink and leather communities jokingly call it) because of Perverts Put Out (PPO), which this year takes the stage Saturday, July 30.

Now, it’s impossible for me to write about PPO without bias. I’m good friends with the producers and I’ve been on their rotating roster of performers since 2007. But I’ve also been coming to PPO as an audience member since 2004, right about the time I graduated from teen poetry slams and started performing my own works around the Bay Area.

Attending PPO for those first three years as an adult performer (in all senses of that term) and newly-minted sex writer trying to find her place in the SF spoken word scene, I received an amazing lesson in our sex and art communities. PPO is responsible for much of my education about both writing and performance. I sat back. I watched. I learned. I took a lot of notes.

So consistently well curated it borders on absurd, PPO is an impressive mix of genre and content — everything from poetry to performance art, diatribes to elegantly crafted erotic short stories. The unifying theme of PPO is of course sexuality, and most of the performers are queer in some way. But queerness and sexuality can cover a lot of ground.

Some of my favorite PPO memories from over the years: Kirk Read’s tragically beautiful piece about going duck hunting with a new lover. Daphne Gottlieb’s gorgeous poem “Carpe Nocturne” about (among other things) desire, lineage, death, and love. Lori Selke’s razor-sharp breakup letter to the racist and sexist mainstream BDSM scene. Meliza Banales’ riotously funny story about doing crystal healing sex work in Santa Cruz. Steven Schwartz’s “Bearlesque,” a smart and funny rumination on bear identity, complete with dancing and tassles. Jaime Cortez’s eerily beautiful short story “Excelsior,” about queer men cruising not in the Castro or SoMa, but in the Excelsior District. Fran Varian’s secret and brutal cop fantasy, told from the perspective of an anti-imperialist queer activist protagonist. Pretty much everything poet Horehound Stillpoint has ever done, ever. I could go on. But really, you should just come to the show.


Sat/30 7:30 p.m., $10–$15

Center for Sex and Culture

1349 Mission, SF

(415) 902-2071