Big Sex Little Death is a memoir by Susie Bright, a bad ass sex-positive lesbian feminist. As often as I’ve heard her name, I hadn’t read too much of her work until I saw her reading one of her stories on a youtube video. That story, The Best She’s Ever Had, kinda blew my mind. She’s talking about a woman who likes to give blow jobs but shies away from any pleasure of her own. At the time, I was in the middle of outgrowing that stage of my sexuality and to hear someone like Susie Bright describe the Blow Job Queen persona in such perfect detail floored me.
So did her memoir.
Once Susie moves from her mom’s home to her father’s at age 14, she starts to explore sex and socialists with fierce passion. She leaves home for Detroit without finishing high school in California, all in the name of spreading Communism. When that road ends for her, she starts working with On Our Backs, a truth-telling lesbian sex magazine that’s the first of its kind. Their mission is female sexual honesty. No poses designed for men; these women show their own truth about sex in the pictures & articles they print.
That’s so common sense – women being honest about how they feel sexually & posing themselves rather than being posed for a mainstream male eye – but this was the first time I’d really thought about this. And it was mind-bending to think of a pose that wasn’t copied from countless magazine ads I’ve seen in my lifetime.
On Our Backs struggled because the print world wasn’t ready for honesty about female sexuality. Once again, Susie was given an opportunity to reinvent herself & give her passion a new avenue; this time, her ardent advocacy blossomed in becoming a mother. Big Sex Little Death winds down as Susie learns to be a good mother to her daughter Aretha and it’s such an emotionally satisfying ending that I didn’t see coming when I began the book. Motherhood may seem a neat end Susie’s memoir, like oh she gave up her wanton & controversial lifestyle to be a good mother, like all women should, but it isn’t like that at all. I think Susie Bright’s courage & faith in herself allow her to follow her heart, whether her decisions are considered controversial or old-fashioned. And to me, that’s the whole point of feminism: there’s room for any lifestyle a woman wants to live, if she chooses to live it.
I felt so sad for this book to end that I started buying other Susie Bright books. Aside from my own personal a-ha’s!, Big Sex Little Death has plenty of adventure & drama, all well told in Susie’s clear voice. Sex, drugs, Playboy bunnies, violence, guns & politics – she’s got it all!