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Hot and Sultry was the Night of the Open Launch

Karin Schimke - EditorCupcakesThey dressed in brilliant shades of red and pink, in chiffon and satin and silk. On a hot summer’s night, some 200 beautiful people gathered at The Book Lounge to celebrate the sexiest writing in SA.

Editor Karin Schimke, and a number of the writers who contributed to this most unusual collection, Open: Erotic Stories from South African Women Writers, were there among the crowds – including yours truly.

Karin Schimke, Elizabeth Pienaar, Liesl Jobson, Suzy Bell, Lauren Beukes, Sarah Lotz, Helen Moffett, Palesa Mazamisa & Henrietta Rose-InnesThe launch of the book, which includes PEN Award winners Henrietta Rose-Innes and Elizabeth Pienaar and Caine Prize winners Rose-Innes and Mary Watson, as well as poet Antjie Krog, was largely organised by the writers. Led by the indefatigable Suzy Bell of Dark Lunch Books, a splendid party was organised, facilitated by sponsored airfares from Mango, cupcakes and bustier cake baked by Carol Walters, wine by Leopard’s Leap, chocolates from Lindt and Pernod-Ricard South Africa for Kahlua. Kahlua sponsored the fabulous black and white Russian martinis which lent a certain cachet to the evening. Guests who purchased a copy of the book were treated to a tube of lube from Marina Green of Whet Sensuality Emporium, who also donated the gifts for the organisers (see edgy comments below…)

Helen MoffettHelen Moffett said, “I always thought this was a pretty big deal: South Africa’s first ever collection of erotica by women, for women. Well, that’s what we thought at first, but some of the biggest fans so far of this feisty little book have been men. On reading the first story (which neatly flips the traditional tale of voyeurism), Hugh Hodge tells me he laughed so hard he almost needed resuscitating.”

Robyn & Lynda GilfillanSchimke, who emceed the readings, welcomed guests, saying, “We are here to celebrate – without wanting to over-state the matter – a piece of SA literary history. For all that this anthology is discreetly flesh coloured and modest in appearance, it packs considerable punch.”

She suggested that the only part that should really interest readers was that Open contains nineteen wonderful stories in which the character’s lives are in some way enlivened by a sexual encounter.

Elizabeth Pienaar“The writing in this anthology is done by nineteen formidable SA’s women writers. Between them they have lists and lists of national and international writing awards. These are bold and brave writers. Writing about sex is not easy and some of the biggest names in world literature refuse to “go there” because the path is too treacherous, the writer always teeters on the edge of mawkishness, silliness or gratuity.”

Henrietta Rose-Innes & Lauren BeukesAs Schimke put out the call for stories with sex in them, she said she could hear “a virtual rustling as writers picked up their cyberskirts and ran.” Still, she was very keen to do this book, “Because sex in its capacity for transformation, or comedy, or the evocation of an inexplicable Heimweh is seldom explored with intelligence.”

She noted that writers write about birth, death, work, family, celebration, the ritual of eating, memory, a return to lost places…any number of things, but sex remains for the most part a literary taboo. “I hoped to pull it on to centre stage and allow it speak for the characters because we are shaped as much by eros as we are by any number of other things. Yet it writers avoid it.”

Fancy FeetFor Schimke, and the authors who contributed, she saw this publication as an act of reclamation. “Women are sexual beings in a society that has hijacked our intimate lives, either by using sex to push product, or as a weapon against us. While we are surrounded by sex, we have it in our faces everywhere we turn, our sexuality is in turns owned, abused or overlooked.”

She said, “We are sexual beings in response to models that don’t necessarily suit us, as women, the extreme manifestation of these models being the almost mind-numbing number of rapes that are suffered by girls and women daily. What is lost is sex’s capacity for joy, celebration, regeneration, love, connection, growth and laughter.”

Imraan Coovadia & Mary WatsonWriters Henrietta Rose-Innes, Suzy Bell, Sarah Lotz, Palesa Mazamisa, Helen Moffett, Elizabeth Pienaar, Lauren Beukes and Liesl Jobson read extracts from their stories. In conclusion, Schimke said, “This anthology – in its teeny-tiny way – is an attempt to reclaim what is good and valuable about sex back for ourselves. It wrests sex back from the pious, from the media and from the pornographers. This anthology is a celebration of sex the way we enjoy it.”

Suzy BellYum!Funny stories, juicy stories, dark delights and sauce by the spoonful. The audience was titillated with tales of solo sex and bondage, lesbian romps and lusty goings on between the sheets and other unusual spots. There was something for everybody – even geriatric sex.

Open-minded Peeps

Sophy Kohler, Ben Williams & Liesl Jobson Maria Vasco, Suzy Bell & Chelle Lovatt Louanne van Riet, Natasha Norman, Julie Donald & Renee Holleman Ace Swart & Aneesa Bux Imraan Coovadia & Norman Jobson Jo Stein & Andile Mdakane Margaretha & Rudi Kraus Eckhard Cloete, Monique Oberholzer & Tatum Cochrane Lara Foreman & Monica Kagan Amanda Conradie & Candice Winterboer Muffie Welch, Anita Shaw & Alison Evans Christelle Pike & Bridget McNulty Steve Funk, Michael Croeser & Lyndon Daniels Carmen Pool & Yumna Martin Martha Evans, Mary Watson & Helen Moffett Jo Menell & Richard Mills Magcino Radebe & Robyn Solomons Odysseus Shirindza & Sivuyisiwe Giba Helen Moffett & Ben Williams Catherine Decker & Kate TempletonAlan Walters, Savannah Lotz, Charlie Martins, Sarah Lotz & Carol Walters Dave Robert Lewis & Kathy Wolstenholme Waitrons- Valerie Kuffer, Belinda Mugwagwa & Carmen Bachar Yolandie Breytenbach & Sivu NobongozaPalesa MazamisaEditor Karin SchimkeHenrietta Rose-Innes Sarah LotzLauren Beukes

Book Details

Erotic Stories from South African Women Writers

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://richarddenooy.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    November 10th, 2008 @18:49 #
     
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    I have closely scrutinized the pics, but I see no leopard-print boxers, Sven. The pink feather boa?

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    November 10th, 2008 @19:45 #
     
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    I can testify that the Minister of Intelligence was present (he snuck up on me). Lauren Beukes expressed disbelief at my reported sighting, so his camouflage must have been pretty good.

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  • Sven
    Sven
    November 10th, 2008 @22:36 #
     
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    I went disguised as a pheromone. Black budget stuff.

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    November 11th, 2008 @00:36 #
     
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    Karin Schimke presented me a chocolate penis as a thank-you gift (my story featured rather a lot of food). Best dialogue of the night:

    Ben-editor (flanked by a grinning Imran Coovadia): So Helen, what are you going to do with your chocolate penis?

    Helen, after a moment's thoughtful pause: I think I'll grate it. Over ice-cream.

    (A shudder ripples through Ben-editor; Imran turns pale and shows the whites of his eyes all around the irises.)

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  • <a href="http://liesljobson.bookslive.co.za" rel="nofollow">Liesl</a>
    Liesl
    November 11th, 2008 @05:55 #
     
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    Now our Helen has a flair for the flamboyant when it comes to a tail, but this one I can vouch for, having witnessed with my own eyes the respective shuddering and paling of Ben-editor and Imran.

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  • <a href="http://alexsmith.book.co.za/" rel="nofollow">Alex Smith</a>
    Alex Smith
    November 11th, 2008 @07:29 #
     
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    Hahahahaha -- that's award-winning, Helen -- what a Roahld-Dahlishly fiendish end.

    To a beautiful post!! Liesl I love your description of this event, and the pink and red photos and the way you placed them on the page; it makes a very luscious picture story.

    Doesn't Cosmo want to syndicate some of the Open stories and do profiles on these sexy authors???

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    November 11th, 2008 @16:39 #
     
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    Excuse me, Liesl. Did you just call my tail flamboyant?

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    December 18th, 2008 @17:09 #
     
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    For everyone who enjoyed the Open book launch, everyone who couldn't make it, and their friends and relatives, alert: this scintillating event will apparently feature on the programme "The Power Within", to be aired this Saturday, 20 December, at 11:30am on SABC 3.

    Which reminds me: I still haven't unwrapped my chocolate penis. On Christmas morning, maybe.

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  • <a href="http://www.sapartridge.co.za" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    Sally
    December 18th, 2008 @17:26 #
     
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    Ooh exciting. I'm so disappointed that my leopard-print shoes didn't make it on to any of the photos. Bad Sophy.

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    December 18th, 2008 @17:41 #
     
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    Maybe they'll be on telly!

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  • <a href="http://helenmoffett.book.co.za" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    Helen
    December 20th, 2008 @13:00 #
     
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    I am so sorry I didn't give the Free Spirit programme a more forceful punt -- just watched the Open launch excerpt, and it was brilliant. I hadn't realised that they'd cover the launch itself so thoroughly, including the happy throngs! Am going to find out if we can't YouTube the excerpt and link it in... Lauren is no doubt already on it :) so everyone can see how happy and glam they look onscreen. The excerpt also features brief interviews and readings: Suzy Bell, Palesa Mazamisa, Lauren Beukes, myself, Mary Watson and others. Wish they'd featured Sarah -- her reading was such fun.

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  • <a href="http://www.sapartridge.co.za" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    Sally
    December 20th, 2008 @18:32 #
     
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    Loved Sarah's reading. One of my faves.

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