"There is such a thing as pussy power," Betty Dodson was saying last night. "Don't give it away. Understand it's your power and use it accordingly." She turned to a friend. "I just laid out pussy power," she said gleefully.
She had. It was a party at the Kiki de Montparnasse story in Soho, to celebrate the feminist sex pioneer's memoir. The stairs were strewn with rose petals and candles, the walls hung with Dodson's paintings of female masturbation and Leda-and-the-swan-inspired sketches. The louche romanticism of the setting aside, the 81-year-old Dodson usually opts for a blunter approach.
"She's the only client I've ever had that greets me by grabbing my package," her publicist, Sal Cataldi told me. She'd looked at him across a table at the Coffee Shop and said that he looked like an old hippie and she thought she might know him from a group sex encounter. The only way to find out, she said, was to grab his balls, and he obliged.
"Did she know you?" I asked. He shook his head. But the greeting stuck.
"My sex life was rejected by practically every editor," Dodson told the crowd. "I consider that to be a compliment! Those uptight broads sitting there with their..." And here she imitated being an uptight broad.
The book is now available through Amazon and Dodson's site. It's based on drafts and a diary she's been writing for 28 years.
"It's the story of a sex life that I am actually proud of," she told me. "But I'm giving my enemies a lot of material. I've had way too much sex in way too many ways with way too many people. And it was all fabulous. And nothing bad ever happened."
Dodson's business partner, lawyer turned sex positive entrepreneur Carlin Ross, showed Jenna and me the book on an iPad. Also on display: their sole original product, a barbell for the vaginal muscles, with one slim end and another slightly wider end. "You take this side and put it in your pussy," she said, motioning on her body with the smaller end. "Like kegels. Then again, if you're not in your twenties, you can start with the bigger side."
The president of Kiki de Montparnasse, Kama Carnes, is a giant fan. "I went to school and studied feminist theory," she told guests, "and Betty's work is not only something I've studied but that transformed my personal life in many ways, as of my friends, as of many women throughout the world."
Dodson now has the ability to transform even more women's lives. "I have been censored my entire lifetime," she announced. "I end up on the cutting room floor. They won't publish this. That's blacked out. And now we have the Internet!"
I asked her whether she thought the culture around women's sexuality had improved since she started her work. "I think that we're in trouble," she said. "I think that we make too many demands on how we have to look. We're not being individuals. We're kind of like little lemmings. We're too hooked on fashion, we don't think for ourselves. And we need to have independent orgasms. So we have independent thoughts."
She went on, "The information is available today, and it wasn't available in my day," she said. "But the culture is worse. The planet's in worse shape, our bodies are in worse shape, there's less sex information in the public schools, so we've been downgraded thanks to politics and religion. The internet is going to lift us up. Go on the Internet!"
Well, yeah, we tend to agree.
My Sexual Revolution [E-book, Dodson And Ross]
Photo by Eric Francis/www.BookofBlue.com