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.