Wearing Her Desires on Her Sleeve

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California author and international sex expert is invited to speak at historic cultural festival in Italy.

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Jina Bacarr slides out of bed, throws on a yukata, a Japanese at-home kimono, and turns on the computer. On the walls around her home office are images of shunga, erotic woodblock drawings, and on her desk sit two ben-wa balls she uses as paperweights, while her bookcase holds a collection of erotica that dates back to 1883.

Enter the world of an international sex expert. Bacarr is on a one-woman mission to teach women that sexual pleasure and desire are nothing to be ashamed of. She won international acclaim with her sex book, The Japanese Art of Sex, and was recently awarded the prestigious RIO Award for her first novel, The Blonde Geisha-the highest mainstream award ever given to a work of erotic fiction.

Next month, she'll appear at the historic La Biennale arts festival in Venice-the only erotica author invited to speak. To Bacarr, the accolades are proof that her message is finally getting through.

"Sex isn't the taboo it once was. HBO's Sex in the City made it okay to pop a vibrator into your shopping bag along with a pair of stilettos," says Bacarr. "Women want that same freedom in choosing the books they read."

Bacarr believes women in Europe have long had the opportunity to enjoy that freedom. She points out that in the United Kingdom, high-brow, erotic fiction has been dubbed "posh porn," and in Italy a Lolita-esque sex diary is a national bestseller. Vienna has a "sex hotline," where callers can listen to an actress read from erotica dating to the Victorian era to raise money for the capital's main public library.

"The popularity of smartly-written erotic fiction is gaining appeal in U.S. markets," she says, "but the British started it all with Fanny Hill or: Memoirs of Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland in 1749. Since then, men have had all the fun. Now it's time for women to get in on the reading action."

Bacarr is taking her message to Italy this June, when she participates in a debate on the subject of using the body as an erotic medium of expression with critics and performers from around the world.

"I find it fascinating that while Italy is home to the Pope, it's also where Italian TV launched a popular reality show starring Italian mamas who pick out wives for their sons," says Bacarr, whose new erotic tale, "Naughty Paris," hits bookshelves in late June. "Yet nudity, sex, and desire will all be on display at the dance festival in Venice. Mama mia!"    

When she was a little girl, Jina Bacarr wanted to look like Barbie and hang out with Uncle Scrooge on his wild adventures around the world. Since then, her travels have taken her to nearly every state in the U.S. and around the world, including living in Pisa, Italy. Like Barbie, she's had numerous careers: from working as a companion girl for a Japanese company to appearing in Japanese commercials, and working as the Japanese consultant on KCBS-TV, MSNBC, Tech TV's Wired for Sex, Canada's The Pleasure Zone, and British Sky Broadcasting's Saucy TV. Her sex book has been featured in the German Cosmopolitan and Italian magazines, including TG Magazine and Glamour Italy.

Website: http://www.JinaBacarr.com


15 June, 5 p.m.

Nuove mappe dell'eros, storie, geografie, età (New maps of the eros: histories, geographies, ages)

conversation with Jina Bacarr, MASH, Marina Abramovic, and Elisa Guzzo Vaccarino


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