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Bawdy Storytelling: Where Regular People Tell Their Dirtiest Stories

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Photo from one of the many Bawdy Storytelling events that have happened over the past 15 years. Photo by Auey Santos 

“I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.”
― Mae West

A woman I work with for wedding events tells me – in between filling up the juices, setting up the mats, and stocking the liquor – all about her sexual exploits. These exploits range from fun to terrible and everything in between. A friend who is both black and queer has told me stories about the strange world that can be online dating in our current socio-political climate. She’s happy to be the ‘unicorn’, meaning the woman who is there as the third for a couple, or a thruple, but she’s worried. She’s worried about the people she meets regarding safety and consent. That is always a concern. But she’s mostly worried about the fact that queer women, in her experience, are being very quiet right now even on sites that are meant for them.

This could be part of the post-pandemic freak out. This could also be because we live in a hyper sexualized society where a true conversation about intimacy, boundaries and even basic comfort care for a sexual partner, can get very lost amongst those purely seeking personal satisfaction. The true joy and sexiness of people coming together can sometimes get lost in the haze of the methods of pursuit.

Which is why Bawdy Storytelling, created by Dixie De La Tour, is so vitally important. These stories should not just be told to me. Or rather, these stories are part of our wonderful, messy, complicated sexual striving – amidst a culture that still has yet to reckon with both our sensual proclivities as well as gender fluidities. “We use true stories of sex, kink, gender and body image to reduce stigma and eliminate shame, and to build open-minded community”. LA Weekly called Bawdy Storytelling, “The Moth for Pervs”.

**And the next installment of it is this Friday, November 18th at the Verdi Club!**

While “Pervs” is a fond moniker and entirely embraced by the founder (because it is about honoring all of the groovy, funky, kinky perviness ever contemplated or enacted by good people), there is also a greater purpose at work with Bawdy.

Yours truly, who once ran Whore! Magazine, was invited to tell a story at a Bawdy event at the Verdi Club. The event was specifically for sex workers to tell their stories. I have not been a sex worker nor was the magazine specifically about that however, the recognition of those who do the service work of sex are to be honored. So, I told a story instead about a great dominatrix I knew in New York who sassed and whipped by night but then sassed and taught kids by day. The beauty of that event was that sex workers told their stories and it was not what you might think. Though being in situations of fear or struggle were certainly expressed, more prominent in all the stories they told was a palpable compassion. There was also a political motivation imbedded in that particular show as sex workers have long been fighting to have their work de-criminalized and they have not yet succeeded. Providing an environment for these stories told live humanized those who are far too often judged and dismissed. The event was also great fun.

On another night, as part of Beast Crawl in Oakland, it was stories of people truly finding their erotic delight, sluts and shy ones all. Wolf howls were in evidence and resounded around the room in celebration. As written by Race Bannon for the Bay Area Reporter about Bawdy, “If story is so pivotal to who we are as humans, then the telling of erotic stories should be just as vital. There is erotica. Porn can be a story of sorts. But the verbal telling of sexual stories, especially to a public audience, has been a relatively rare occurrence, Dixie De La Tour sought to change that”.

And she did.

Dixie De La Tour, the creator and host of Bawdy Storytelling. photo: Natasha of Inamorata Photography

“I was a sex party producer, front door person/staff at Kinky Salon and volunteer wrangler at kink events for many years, and I’d always hear snippets of stories before people would head off to have sex – which made me nuts. I grew up in the South, I love a good story! And when a friend invited me to an event called Memoir Spool to hear personal stories from Burning Man, I thought ‘this is what the perverts need’. I organized the first Bawdy Storytelling in early 2007, people loved it, and it just continued to grow beyond the sexual underground”.

To have a good idea to fulfill a need is admirable. To then continue to carry that idea into fruition and create a space of care and release for people for over a decade is genuinely – heroic. Heroes do indeed, come in all forms and facets.

“At every show we have Bang-O, my trademarked dirty bingo game that gets people to tell their own stories and talk to new people, and the first night I added it to the lineup a regular said ‘Dix, this thing is NOT a storytelling show anymore – it’s so much more’. Bawdy isn’t titillating or erotic; the stories aren’t what you ‘should’ do, they’re what the person actually did and that’s important. People aren’t perfect, and that vulnerability is essential, especially when the stories are so intimate. I work with every storyteller as Bawdy is a curated show (our format is true, told and not read off paper, related to sex, kink, gender and/or body image, and told in around 10 minutes) so I coach them to find that relatable element in their story. Maybe you as a listener aren’t into pegging or thruples or puppy play, but what’s really important is that you understand the human emotions that drive the storyteller: feeling seen, showing the world their true self, maybe even feeling worthy of acceptance and love”.

Bawdy was even able to pull off a few outdoor live shows during COVID, like this one at the Old SF Mint. Photo from Bawdy’s FB page.

I asked Dixie what has helped to sustain her through all these years running Bawdy. Lord knows, I’ve run shows and the energy and work to produce every single one is intense even when you are not inviting people to speak about very intimate details of their lives.

Her answer was this: “I’ve taken Bawdy all over the country before the Pandemic and people who listen to the Bawdy podcast email me to say their dream is to come to a live Bawdy, People in other cities are amazed at the energy of our live shows; every performer gets a standing ovation, the audience is friendly and welcoming, and you become a member of the family the moment you walk into the room. If you’re trying something out, a new gender expression or just intimidated by the word ‘sex’, they’ll help you feel at home. Our audiences make me so proud”.

I am happy to report that my friend has since, despite the wackiness that can be Tinder and the like, found a harmonious and honoring situation in a thruple and will be attending the show to celebrate this Friday.

It will be the last show of the year and so you should also go and celebrate.

You’ll be very glad you did.

Bawdy at the Blue Macaw, 2010. Yours Truly and Carol Queen who will also be there on Friday in the photo.

Friday, November 18th: Pornucopia: Stories of Abundance & Gratitude
At the Verdi Club (2424 Mariposa, San Francisco and Online)
Doors / Bang-O at 7:00 PM, Bawdy starts at 8:00 PM PDT
Join us in person, or tune in via the Livestream!
Alotta Boutté is also performing and you don’t want to miss seeing her!

Discover more about Dixie De La Tour and Bawdy Storytelling at Facebook.com/BawdyStorytelling, on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/bawdystorytelling/ on Twitter at @Bawdy and always at www.BawdyStorytelling.com Remember, Stories help you find your people!

The Show will resume in February. In the meantime, Dixie De La Tour will be doing a 2 hour workshop on December 3rd called, ‘Storytelling to Get the Sex* You Want’. Tickets are at https://STGTSYWant.eventbrite.com

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Ginger Murray

Ginger Murray

Ginger Murray is a writer, storyteller and performer. A once SF Weekly columnist, published poet and founder of a feminist magazine, she recently graduated from Mills College with a degree in History because that is what she loves. Ginger currently lives in West Oakland where the lemon trees grow.

1 Comment

  1. Luciano Mezzetta
    November 22, 2022 at 3:43 pm — Reply

    Come e’ ridotto Club Verdi!

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