Review of Real Live Nude Girl

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Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture
by Carol Queen
Cleis Press, 1997

Since Carol Queen is a hero of mine, and a sort of role model for my efforts in sex education, I approached this book with a bit of trepidation after Cleis Press sent us a review copy in the mail. I was afraid that I wouldn't like it, or that the book would be seriously flawed; I would then be in the position of having to prepare myself to say critical things about the work of someone I respect.

Thank God I don't have to do that. This book is great.

Essentially, Real Live Nude Girl is a series of essays by Carol Queen, many of which have been printed before in other publications. The original dates of publication range from 1991 to 1996, and the book's introduction was written in December, 1996. So although some of the stories are reprints nothing is seriously dated.

Many parts of this book are political. If you want to learn how to fuck, you'd be better off with the work she published before this one, Exhibitionism for the Shy. As an aside, I DO find it interesting and consistent with Carol's approach to her work that she didn't lead off her book publishing career with theory. As she says in Real Live Nude Girl, "My ideal woman was anyone who would growl, 'I want to fuck you, not talk politics.'"

The topics considered in Real Live Nude Girl range from sex work to sacred whoredom to gender identity to S/M to sex parties to pornography. Thoughout, her style is direct, personal, and insightful.

This book is strongest on the issues of gender identity and ESPECIALLY sacred whoredom. Taken together, the essays "Dear Mom: A Letter About Whoring", "Through a Glass Smudgily: Reflections of a Peep-Show Queen", "On Stage with Annie", and "Healing and Holy Acts: Sacred Whoredom" pretty much lay it out for the reader. Anyone who has doubts about the emotional and "spiritual" potential of sex work should read this work before making up their mind on the issue.

My only criticism, and perhaps this is due to my own biases, is that in places this book could have taken the opportunity to convey a bit more in the way of concrete information. I know that Real Live Nude Girl is largely intended as perspective rather than how-to material, but I still believe that many of her readers would have found it of interest for the section on her experiences at her Jack-and-Jill Off and Queen of Heaven parties to have included a summary of tips for would-be hosts. Since it appears that her next two books will be theory (PoMoSexuals: Against Essentialist Notions of Gender and Sexual Orientation later this year) and fiction (The Leather Daddy and the Femme next year), it may be a while before this sex educator par excellance has another chance to share her wealth of practical knowledge with us.

However, this criticism is minor compared to this book's strengths.

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