Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary

Interview with Sex Culture Revolutionary Polly Superstar

San Francisco feminist and kink legend Polly Superstar tells Danielle Dorky about her forthcoming memoir Sex Culture Revolutionary and how she earned the title in an in-depth  interview.

I stumbled upon the Kickstarter for Sex Culture Revolutionary by accident, but it was the title of Polly Whittaker’s soon-to-be published memoirs that initially stood out to me. I wondered how one one earns such a headline, or if it isn’t earned, claims it so definitively. As I read about the impact that Polly, known by most as Polly Superstar, has had on the sex community in San Francisco and worldwide, I felt the first inklings of what would soon grow into a full-blown girl crush.

Since moving from London to San Francisco on a whim in 1999 (at only 25 years old), Polly has dedicated her life to the sexually progressive community, as a publisher of the groundbreaking zine SanFranSexy, a renowned latex fashion designer, the creator of sexy, arty theme parties called Kinky Salons that now take place all over the world and most recently as a partner in Kotango.com, an online global sex and relationship community.

Polly Superstar was gracious enough to grant Danielle Dorky an interview and talk about launching the fundraising campaign to self-publish her book, the process that led her to write her memoirs and whether Los Angeles will get to host its own Kinky Salon.

DD: Congratulations on your Kickstarter campaign! What made you decide to self publish and launch a fundraiser campaign? Were you surprised by its success?

PS: Thank you! It was a nail biting finish! These days self publishing is a much better option for people who already have big networks, and some good endorsements from well known folks to give them weight in the market. A hundred five star reviews on Amazon will get you more recognition than being traditionally published, because that’s where people are buying their books these days. But I’ve chosen a printer who also deals with distribution so my book will also be available in stores. I basically set up my own small publishing company and it means that I can actually afford to promote the book too. I’m taking the process into my own hands, rather than depending on an old fashioned system. I had a feeling that there would be enough people out there interested in my story to pre-sell the copies I needed to sell for the Kickstarter. I worked really hard on promoting it and when it came through it was a huge relief.

DD: Have you always been a writer? What inspired you to write your memoirs and what was the process like?

PS: I’ve always loved to write, yes. I use it to process my emotions and clarify my thoughts. At first I was going to write a how-to guide teaching people how to throw their own Kinky Salons, but then one day I got stuck and didn’t know what to write. Someone had advised me that in order to break through writers block the best thing to do is just write. So I wrote about my father’s death and it changed everything for me. It was the most powerful thing I had ever written, both as a process for my own healing, and as a piece of writing to share. It’s intense to write a memoir. It’s like giving yourself therapy.

DD: What inspired your relocation from London to San Francisco? Do you think that San Francisco remains ahead of the curve when it comes to sexual expression and acceptance?

PS: I left London because I was unhappy there. I needed a change and it was a coincidence that I landed in SF. Or maybe destiny! Yes, this town is definitely a pioneering town when it comes to sex culture.

DD: Can you tell me more about your “Kinky Salon” series? Is there any chance you’ll expand to Los Angeles?

PS: Kinky Salon is a sexy arty theme party. There are costumes, a cabaret, a playspace, and a social framework based on a few simple ideas which hold the whole thing together, keeping it safe and fun. It’s not like a sex party, because sex isn’t the focus of the event. It’s just one possibility. I believe that sexuality is part of human expression, and we haven’t been permitted to express ourselvessexually for centuries. Kinky Salon is a space where sexuality is intertwined in the social scene, in a way that feels very natural. Kinky Salon is a script which I share with other event producers around the world. When a team crops up somewhere they contact me and I interview them. If they seem like they get what we’re about, I walk them through the process of creating their own Kinky Salon. Nobody in LA has stepped up yet to create a Kinky Salon, but I’m hoping there’ll be one there soon.

DD: How did you get into latex fashion design? What attracts you to that fabric in particular?

PS: I love the shiny, futuristic look of latex. Back when I started making clothes in the early 90s it was a taboo fabric. I liked the sexiness of it. I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time and talking to the right people to get myself an internship. I worked up the ranks.

DD: Can you tell me more about Kotango and your role in that?

PS: Kotango.com is a site that Christopher Ryan, author of Sex at Dawn created to host a conversation about relationships and sexuality. When I heard it was happening I got on board and partnered with him. I used to have a site called Openly, which had a similar vibe to Kotango, and I shut it down and migrated the users to Kotango to give it a boost and work together, instead of competing. It’s been in beta for a while, and we’re almost ready to launch. There are already thousands of people on there talking and meeting.

DD: Now that zines have become popular again, have you thought about reissuing SanFranSexy?

PS: I’d love to but sadly I don’t have time right now.

DD: What authors or books would you recommend to someone who wanted to learn more about modern sex culture?

PS: Well, The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy is where everyone should start. Opening Up by Tristan Taormino is also a good primer. I personally love Barbara Carrellas’ take on tantra in Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-First Century. On the radio there’s ‘Sexploration with Monika’ and ‘Women Sex Talk Radio’.

DD: How can people preorder Sex Culture Revolutionary?

PS: Subscribe to my website at PollySuperstar.com and be the first to hear when it’s available. Right now is a window- too late for the Kickstarter and too early for the launch. But in a month or so the paperback will be available for pre-order on my website and signing up for updates is the best way to hear about when that happens.

Check out and subscribe to Polly’s website to pre-order Sex Culture Revolutionary and look forward to the final installment of Women’s History Crush Wednesday next week!

Categories: Interviews