“Godmother” of women’s erotica reflects on her young life as a self-styled political and sexual revolutionary.
Longtime sex educator, provocateur and journalist, Bright (Love and Lust: A Sex Journal, 2010, etc.) was born to an eccentric academic couple with an abiding professional and recreational interest in India and Indian culture. Early on, the author bounced back and forth between her mother and father’s care, from Los Angeles to Edmonton. Bright’s remembrances of her parents, who were bitterly divorced when she was two, aren’t especially vivid, and what she divulges about her mother is none-too-flattering. Most striking is the recollection of her mom’s failed attempt to drive their VW into a frozen Canadian river, a suicide attempt that would have also taken Bright's life. With such an unstable upbringing, it’s not surprising that the author turned to radical politics in high school and daily confrontation with pre–Equal Rights Amendment sexism from all sides. She went off to “commie” camp as a teenager and become editorially involved with The Red Tide, a leftist publication. After waltzing through college, she decided her interests were in gender and sexual politics, and she became the founding editor of the erotica magazine On Our Backs. Yet however heroic Bright’s sexual and political accomplishments may or may not be, one gets the sense that her middle-class activist antics stem more from superficial reaction rather than personal conviction. Throughout, the author’s self-congratulatory tone may prevent readers from fully embracing Bright’s worthy sexually and politically liberating accomplishments. For someone whose career and reputation rests so heavily on being a sex expert and erotica guru, she writes about her own fairly tame sexcapades with a coldly cerebral and often ironic detachment.
Surprisingly dry, uninspiring rendering of a potentially intriguing life story.