by Sweet Queen
I squeeze my boyfriend’s leg, gasp in a huge gulp of breath and think to myself “OMG, she’s gonna bring up bromic acid.” I’m wide-eyed and my heart is racing as Eleanor O’Brien tells her story of her feminine enlightenment. I look over at him and he’s been staring at me. He sees how I’m completely enraptured by this woman’s vulnerability. I turn to look around the audience to see we are all following her mouth and every last word that falls from her lips. I think as I smile, “wow this woman throws one hell of a Veneralia Celebration” and I return to her trance.
I’ve just witnessed Eleanor O’Brien as she operates her business, Dance Naked Productions, and performs her literary art all over Portland. Tonight is her final performance of “How to Really… Really? Really! Love a Woman,” she’s announced that she’s filming the event, it is entirely about cunnilingus, and April 1st is the perfect day to honor “the portal.” “What’s not to love about that concept?” is obviously how Portland received her show, as she filled the audience night after night.
Exactly one week before the show, I met Eleanor when I attended her open mic event she graciously calls Stand Up Smut. She leads the night with a vulnerable retelling of a story about her conversation with her whole family present about sex and her gender conditioning, and leaves the audience with mouths open as she says so clearly that I can hear it days later, “do you really wanna talk about my masturbating habits?” That’s when I knew I had found greatness. She was role-modeling honesty, passion and a desire to connect with her audience, the sex positive community of Portland. This is a recurring event on the the last Monday of the month at Nalu Kava Bar in NE Portland.
The beauty of this gathering is the dependency on the community to fill the stage with those brave enough to stand up and deliver what excites them. I was encouraged by the diversity of the community; there were poets, storytellers, singers, and performers ranging from their first time ever publicly sharing, to others, who are experienced and enjoy teasing the ears and minds of the community.
This particular night there were about 50 of us tucked into a cozy room. I was seated up front and submerged with warmth and energy as each participant continued to open themselves. They were baring their desires about erotica, their repressed pasts, their zest for their own sexual journey. Then Eleanor turns to the audience and without hesitation instructs us all with the pen and paper she’s handing out to write from an inspired place inside ourselves. She asks us to describe with the coming spring season what is it that makes us feel fertile, and to write with abandon and lay the words down. Once finished with the impromptu, two-minute writing session, we are now to put our words together to create a haiku. As we each read our creations, the bond grows between us all sharing parts of ourselves that we didn’t know were there until Eleanor led the way.
Following these events, I reached out to Eleanor to inquire about the pivotal parts of her sex positive journey.
Considering your sexual journey, what has been the toughest part to negotiate?
“I think the toughest thing for me has been learning how to articulate what I want (and believe that I deserve to have it, and I’m not wrong or gross or weird for wanting it). Getting over the shyness (really!) of using words to express my desires. (For example, I have never asked a lover to go down on me. I am delighted and grateful when they do, but I can not bring myself to ask.) Also, it’s really easy for me to fall into a habit of monogamy because I hate drama and I hate hurting feelings so I tend to settle into nesting patterns that sometimes limit exploration.”
How do you see yourself within the community and how do you deal with those who may have opposing views to sex positivity?
“I see myself as a professional vulnerable, a catalyst for conversations, a pied piper of smut! I hope that my work gives people permission to express their sexual selves, to go beyond the culturally curated definition of sexy and dig deeper into the erotic, the authentic, the creative aspects of themselves.”
What kindles your flame and renews your creative energy?
“Oh gosh, good question. Spending time in hot water. In nature. Seeing incredible art. Time away from my phone, from the internet. Spaciousness. Afternoon sex. AFTERNOON SEX! Walks in the forest. Springtime. (Oh goddess, springtime! It’s nuts! There is fertility everywhere!) Learning something new from someone passionate about teaching. Talent. Talent fucking turns me on like crazy. A good storyteller? Fuggedaboutit.”
What do you hope to do next? How do you see our community getting more involved?
“I am turning my attention to creating an online platform for erotic creative expression. I want to create a space for people to share their writing and imagery that is erotic/sensual in nature and be witnessed and celebrated. I am going to start with a 3-day challenge that will involve a written component, a visual component, and a physical component. My goal is to ignite an intellectual response, an emotional response and a physical response (I think of it as head/heart/heat). While I love deeply live theater because it requires us all to be in the same room together, I want to experiment with expanding my circle of influence!”