Laurel Thatcher Ulritch said in 1938 that “well behaved women rarely make history.” If this is the case, the history books had better clear a chapter for the likes of River Huston, a whirlwind of a gal who is bringing her one-woman Broadway show to the PAC on Wednesday, November 16.
So what exactly can you expect from an event entitled, “Sex, Cellulite and Large Farm Equipment: One Girl’s Guide to Living and Dying?” According to her website, “this performance piece draws on her personal experiences as a sex columnist/sex educator as well as her arrest for obscenity, competing in a marathon, coping with anorexia and alcoholism, living with two terminal illnesses, dating, marriage, moving out of the country, and near financial ruin.”
Though she’s clearly planning on covering a wide range of topics, there are two very clear focuses of Huston’s speech— HIV and body image. Though these are both very grave and complex issues, Huston does not pussy-foot and delves right into the heart of the issues, as she playfully incorporates humor alongside the destruction of stereotypes.
“It took getting an HIV-positive diagnosis for me to realize I was a sex goddess. If there is one thing that will improve a girl’s sex life it is finding out she has AIDS…I don’t recommend getting infected to improve your sex life. You can do it without any sexually transmitted virus. Just remember next time you have your legs wrapped around the neck of the person you love (or whoever) don’t try to suck it in, it’s goddess flesh, baby!”
Promoting a healthy body image is one of Huston’s primary objectives. “I feel we have all been wounded sexually. You do not have to have been raped or molested to be wounded, just watch any TV show and most people will not add up to what is sold as sexy in our society. More and more people feel it is necessary to look a certain way to have great sex. This has reached a point that people are cutting into healthy skin to create the illusions we are sold.”
If anyone remembers Susie Bright’s explosive lecture and discussion last year, the Sexual State of the Union Address, you’re in for a similar treat. “Sex, Cellulite” is the second annual event in the Sexual Awareness Center’s “Speaks Event.”
However, one change that has occurred this year is due to the Sexual Awareness Center’s rocky previous year. During winter quarter, a proposal to restructure the Resource and Outreach Programs led to some spirited discussions on the future of the SAC and the ROP as a whole. Since weathering that storm, members of the SAC has been very careful about the way they present the SAC on campus.
“We have a very positive attitude, even though we know that we have to be less controversial” said Dori Greenaway, SAC coordinator.
As a result of a crackdown on their actions, the SAC toned down their posters promoting Huston’s show. They didn’t want a repeat of last year, when weren’t allowed to put any of the Susie Bright posters in Red Square simply because they had the word “Sex” emblazoned across the top paired with a depiction of a lovely pair of legs.
Don’t worry, though; the Sexual Awareness Center is not about to start sacrificing its overall goals in order to conform. The SAC is a valuable resource to Western students, providing not only a condom selection offering varieties from lubed to non-latex, and dental dams, but “people who are genuinely interested in talking…about all aspects of sex,” according to their mission statement.
One such student is Sarah Bowers, the SAC assistant coordinator. “The Sexual Awareness Center has made a big impact in my life,” she said.
“This is not just because I’ve worked here for four years, but the programs [that the SAC offers] have provided me with life experience. Also, the SAC takes a notoriously taboo but important issue and brings it to the forefront.”
One common misconception about the SAC is that it ignores abstinence as an option. “We promote choice, and we believe that you can be aware of your sexuality and also be abstinent,” said Greenaway.
“We just don’t have abstinence condoms,” quipped Bowers.
However, those who are familiar with the SAC don’t have to worry. The SAC is not going to clean up their act so much that they sterilize it. Though they are being careful about how they publicize the event, Bowers admitted grinningly that Huston is “definitely going to be controversial when she speaks on campus.”
Huston’s controversy surely won’t stem from a lack of knowledge, as she has a background that includes being an author of five books, earning a degree in Music and Physical Education from Hunter College, and also being awarded an honorary Doctorate in Humanities from Albright College.
Her own experiences have also given her a deeper understanding of human sexuality. “I have been talking about sex for so long but usually have focused on the prevention of disease aspect,” said Huston on her weblog.
“But after talking with so many women I realized how much knowledge I’ve acquired about sexuality and sex. Working as a dominatrix to put myself through college didn’t hurt (at least not me) either.”
So if you’re interested in hearing a fresh and honest perspective on sexuality, HIV and body image— or maybe you just want to know how farm machinery fits into the mix— get your free tickets early at the PAC box office for “Sex, Cellulite and Large Farm Equipment.” The show will begin at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16 in the PAC. This event is sponsored in part by the Sociology, Anthropology and Women’s Studies departments.