Strategic Sex: Why They Won’t Keep It in the Bedroom
In the past decade, anthologies of personal essays about sexAparticularly transgressive sexAhave become increasingly commonplace; as a result, they have largely lost their potency and shock value. Scott, a novelist (Execution, Texas: 1987) and performance artist, has collected 20 such essays that range from the mundane to the extraordinary and that, as a whole, carry some power. Stating that his volume is “about questioning, thinking, and exploring” as well as “deepen[ing] the meaning of sexual energy,” he focuses on unusual and public sexual activities. While selections such as Tristan Taormino’s “Caution: Sharp Objects,” about a series of gender-bending s&m sexual encounters, or Simon Shephard’s “Discourse: Dick,” which describes highly sexual performance art, feel old hat and pretentious, other essays deliver the intellectual and erotic goods. The best work here often deals with more than just sexual activity. Jayson Marston’s “White Skinhead Seeks Black Submissives” looks at race, sex and violence in ways that are unsettling; though it feels half-formed, it’s startling and extremely provocative. In “Under My Skin,” noted performance artist Ron Athey relates a simple history of the tattoos that cover almost his entire body, gracefully evoking the drastic emotional and psychological changes he has undergone. These essays, plus a few others, more than make up for the unstimulating ones. (Oct.)
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