By Alice Beecher
Kicking off Safer Sex Week with equal parts beauty and humor, the Sexual Information Center’s “Erotic Expressions” presented a night of intimate poetry and risqué storytelling. Although the show started late and dragged occasionally, it was nevertheless an entertaining insight into the sexual lives of Oberlin students (and more famous literary figures…).
The night began with an Oberlin appropriate piece of erotica about introverted entomologists who theorize about praying mantises while having sex. Up next was a James Joyce poem read in hilarious imitation of the old Irishman’s brogue, with lines like “the upturned dress of your white girlish drawers…your hot lips sucking at my cock….” Apparently, Joyce actually got that dirty.
The poems written by actual Oberlin students tended to be a bit more serious. One student performed a beautiful piece called “Pledge of Allegiance” about the first gay couple to make the world’s longest kiss record (33 hours!). Rich imagery and intense emotional delivery were met with awes and gasps from the audience. In a similar vein, the poem “I Like to Masturbate” presented a refreshingly honest perspective on sexuality, with killer lines like “touch yourself till the devil on your shoulder comes”.
The willingness of students to read such complex and intimate pieces to an audience of friends and strangers reflects the SIC’s efforts to make sex an open and positive topic for discussion. Nonetheless, students were equally willing to be completely raunchy and irreverent. The poem “Yeah Fuck…Fuck, Yeah” was easily the funniest poem of the night, made all the better by a creepy, deadpan delivery and lines like “she unzipped my costume until I was naked as a Ken Doll” or “her butt… didn’t make me think of poop…”.
In addition to poetry, some students read excerpts from the casual encounters section on craigslist, with gems like “I’d love to lick you, so please sit on my face.” Others read rap lyrics or performed songs, such as “Erotic Banjo Joe,” who proved that “Birthday Sex” really benefits from a little bluegrass. One student read a hilarious piece from Cosmo, which peaked at the line “his anger, combined with his touch, was turning her on…plus he had saved a life!” but did include an SIC-approved moment to put on a condom. A “sex rap” by a kid that went by “Crunkin’ White” included both offensive rhymes and very Oberlin literary references.
Beautiful readings of poems by Yeats and E.E. Cummings, as well a captivating short story by Anais Nin, reminded us that sexuality is not unique to our generation and that every era of erotica should be celebrated. After 8:45 the crowd dwindled, but the warm and open atmosphere led some students to sign up and perform at the last minute.
Some readings expressed the complexity of love within sex, reflecting the human struggle to understand the language of their bodies. Sophie of the SIC read a beautiful piece about “shedding thousands of skin cells on the subway each day” and another girl performed a touching a cappella version of a song about losing her connection with the boy whose virginity she took.
On a less somber note, another SIC member read from a book of “Cream Dreams,” a compilation of wet dreams by Oberlin students ranging from sweet and simple to “I had an orgy with the cast of Whose Line Is It Anyway.” Ironic Hipster Erotica and Erotic Harry Potter Fan Fiction kept the audience laughing as the night went on.
Ending with the Shel Silverstein poem “I’d Rather Play at Hug of War” and a few stragglers staying to read found bits of erotica, the night was a beautiful, funny celebration of the joys and frustrations of sex and an inspiring reason to start writing poetry you don’t share with your mom.