Susie Bright

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Susie Bright
Susie Bright at Come As You Are in 2012
Born Susannah Bright
(1958-03-25) March 25, 1958 (age 60)
Arlington, Virginia
Other names Susie Sexpert
Education B.A., U.C. Santa Cruz, 1981; M.F.A. New College, San Francisco, 2007
Occupation writer, speaker, teacher, audio-show host, editor-at-large for
Notable work Big Sex, Little Death: a Memoir, Full Exposure, Susie Bright's Sexual State of the Union, SexWise
Movement sex-positive feminist

Susannah "Susie" Bright (also known as Susie Sexpert) (born March 25, 1958) is an American feminist, author, journalist, critic, editor, publisher, producer, and performer, often on the subject of sexual politics and sexuality.[1]

She is one of the first writers/activists referred to as a sex-positive feminist.[2]


As a teenager in the 1970s, Susie Bright was active in various left-wing progressive causes, in particular the feminist and anti-war movements. She was a member of the high school underground newspaper, The Red Tide, and served as Plaintiff suing the Los Angeles Board of Education for the right of minors to distribute their own publications without prior censorship or approval. (Judgement in favor of Plaintiff).[3]

She was a member of the International Socialists from 1974–1976 and worked as a labor and community organizer in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Detroit and Louisville. She was also one of the founding members of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, and wrote under the pseudonym Sue Daniels.[4] in both The Red Tide and Workers' Power. She has said, "I was motivated, always, from the sting of social injustice. The cry of 'That isn't fair!' gets a more impulsive behavior from me than, 'I want to get off!'"[5]

Bright was one of the first staff members of Good Vibrations, a pioneering feminist vibrator store, working and managing the store from 1981 to 1986. She trained with San Francisco Sex Information in 1981. Bright wrote Good Vibrations' first mail order catalog, the first sex toy catalog written from a women's point of a view to a female audience. She founded the Good Vibrations Erotic Video Library, the first feminist curation of erotic films available at the time.[6]

Susie Bright co-founded and edited the first women-produced sex-magazine, On Our Backs, "entertainment for the adventurous lesbian," from 1984 to 1991.[7] Here she began her sex advice column as Susie Sexpert. She collected these columns and expanded them to publish her first book, Susie Sexpert's Lesbian Sex World in 1990.[8]

She published a portfolio of lesbian erotic photography, Nothing but the Girl, co-edited with Jill Posener with 30 interviews and photographs from photographers around the world. It won the Firecracker Award[9] and the Lambda Literary Award in 1997.

Bright founded the first women's erotica book-series, Herotica, and edited the first three volumes. She started The Best American Erotica series in 1993, which she publishes to this day.[10]

From 1992 to 1994 she was a columnist for San Francisco Review of Books.

Bright was the first female member of the X-Rated Critics Organization in 1986, and was voted into the XRCO Hall of Fame, 5th Estate, in 2005.[11]

Known as the “Pauline Kael of Porn,”[12] she wrote feminist reviews of erotic films for Penthouse Forum from 1986–1989.[13] She was the first mainstream journalist who covered the adult industry trade— and the first scholar to teach the aesthetics and politics of erotic film imagery, starting in 1986 at Cal Arts Valencia, and then in the early nineties at the University of California. Her film-reviews of mainstream movies are widely published, and her comments on gay film history are featured in the documentary film The Celluloid Closet.[14]

Bright produced, co-wrote and starred in two plays, Girls Gone Bad and Knife, Paper, Scissors. She worked as a screenwriter and film consultant on several films: Erotique, The Virgin Machine, The Celluloid Closet, and the Wachowskis film, Bound (in which she also had a cameo appearance). She also appeared as "Susie Bright, the feminist sex writer" in an episode of the HBO series Six Feet Under.

In 2013 Bright donated her archives to the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections Cornell University Library.[15]

The donation included papers and documents from her early activist days in “The Red Tide,” Teamsters for a Democratic Union, and International Socialists, her early stage and film work, a complete archive of "On Our Backs" magazine and Fatale Videos, her reviews and research as a critic for "Penthouse Forum,” and the X-Rated Critics Association, all of her nonfiction manuscripts and anthology research for "Best American Erotica," costumes, VHS tapes, books, writings— as well as many other artist files from the early lesbian feminist and erotic literary fiction publishing era.

The donation culminated with the 2014 year-long exhibit "Speaking of Sex" where Bright's donations were displayed along with a wide array of the Human Sexuality Collection's historical documents and materials. As part of the exhibit's grand opening, Bright gave the lecture "The Sexual State of the Union," analyzing current sexual attitudes in America, and reprised her show "How to Read a Dirty Movie."

Susie Bright has been an editor-at-large and executive producer at Audible Inc. since 2012. She was nominated for an Audie Award, as executive producer in 2013. In 2014 she was nominated for an Audie as Executive Producer for The Invisible Heart, and won as Executive Producer for Carrie's Story by Mollie Weatherfield.[16] She has produced and hosted a weekly program, since 2000, In Bed with Susie Bright on, where she discusses a variety of social, freedom of speech and sex-related topics. Interviews, book and movie reviews are common, as are letters from listeners.

Her website has operated since March 1997, and she began her blog in 2004.

Personal life

Susie Bright has one daughter, Aretha Bright and is the daughter of William Bright and Elizabeth Bright. Her stepmother is Lise Menn, and her stepbrothers are Joseph Menn and Stephen Menn. She has lived with her partner Jon Bailiff since 1993, and previously lived with her partner Honey Lee Cottrell in the 1980s.

She has written extensively about her sexuality and family relationships in her memoirs, creative nonfiction, and blog, Susie Bright's Journal, including topics of bisexuality, non-monogamy, lesbian life, homeschooling, and extended families and lovers.[17]


As editor

  • Totally Herotica, Book-of-the-Month Club, 1995
  • Herotica, Herotica II, Herotica III, Down There Press and Penguin USA, 1988, 1992, and 1994
  • Best American Erotica, Simon and Schuster, 1993–2008[citation needed]
  • Nothing But the Girl: The Blatant Lesbian Image (as co-editor and co-author), Cassell, 1996
  • Three the Hard Way: Three Novellas by William Harrison, Greg Boyd, and Tsaurah Litzky, Simon and Schuster, 2004
  • Three Kinds of Asking For It: Erotic Novellas by Eric Albert, Greta Christina, and Jill Soloway, Touchstone, 2005
  • "X: The Erotic Treasury", Chronicle Books, 2008

As author

  • Angry Women (featured artist), RE/Search, interview by Andrea Juno, Fall 1991
  • Susie Bright's Sexual Reality: A Virtual Sex Reader, Cleis Press, 1992
  • SexWise, Cleis Press, 1995
  • The Sexual State of the Union, Simon & Schuster, 1997, trade edition, 1998
  • Herotica, 10th anniversary edition, with Afterword by the editor, Down There Press, 1998
  • Susie Sexpert's Lesbian Sex World, 2nd edition with three new chapters, Cleis Press, 1998[citation needed]
  • Full Exposure: Opening Up to Sex and Creativity, HarperSanFrancisco, 1999
  • How to Write a Dirty Story, Simon and Schuster, 2002
  • Mommy's Little Girl: Susie Bright on Sex, Motherhood, Pornography, and Cherry Pie, Thunder's Mouth, 2004[citation needed]
  • Big Sex, Little Death: A Memoir (2011; OCLC 650827377)


  1. Los Angeles Times
  2. "Susie Bright Sexual Revolutionary", interview by Cory Silverberg, October 14, 2007, Retrieved 2008-01-02.
  3. RMC Staff (November 2014). "Guide to the Susie Bright Papers and On Our Backs Records, 1978–2013". Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library. Retrieved 15 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Linda Castellani (12 Jun 2001). "The WELL: Susie Bright: How to Read/Write a Dirty Story". Retrieved 11 Nov 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Bright, Susie (2011). Big Sex, Little Death: a Memoir. 110: Bright Stuff. ISBN 978-0-9708815-1-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Calabria, Karen. "Good Vibrations—The Life and Times of Sexpert and Feminist Susie Bright". Kirkus. Retrieved April 1, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Stark, Christine (2004), "Resisting the sexual new world order: Girls to boyz: sex radical women, promoting prostitution, pornography, and sadomasochism", in Whisnant, Rebecca; Stark, Christine, Not for sale: feminists resisting prostitution and pornography, North Melbourne, Victoria: Spinifex Press, pp. 287–288, ISBN 9781876756499.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Preview.
  8. Bright, Susie (October 28, 1998). Susie Sexpert's Lesbian Sex World 2nd Edition. Cleis Press. ISBN 978-1573440776.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. List of Firecracker Award winners. Retrieved 2014-12-15.
  10. Bright, Susie (January 7, 2008). "Susie Bright's Journal". Retrieved January 4, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. XRCO Hall of Fame
  12. Frauenfelder, Mark. "Guest Blogger Susie Bright Bio". Boing Boing. Retrieved Dec 15, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Susie Bright, FAQs" (PDF). Retrieved 11 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. The Celluloid Closet; (1995) Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.
  15. "Susie Bright papers and On Our Backs records, #7788". Retrieved 2015-01-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Sheela Lambert (27 February 2012). "Hasbian Pride, Worn-Out Sluts, and Bisexuality". Susie Bright. Retrieved 11 Nov 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links