If I had to choose one word to describe Poerotica, I would fail epically. I’d have to tell you about the striking silhouettes of Black and brown that accented the room perfectly. I’d have to tell you about the overwhelming intimacy that hit me as soon as I walked into the space. I’d have to fill you in on the “lituations” that occurred in the forms of sexual poetry, vaginal secrecy and body shaking. And I would especially have to give you the scoop on the sisterly support that poured out of conversations surrounding “how to let go of despicable men who don’t deserve us,” “how to best take care of our God-made vagina,” and “how to get out of emotionally abusive relationships.”
Poerotica was a celebration of women of color-themed: “lingerie, liquor, and love languages.” The event was created to provide a safe space for women of color to celebrate their bodies and share their sexual experiences without shame. On August 19th, A g Thing and Women of the Now teamed up at Reunion Chicago to create a space where women could shamelessly wear lingerie, sip on their favorite drinks and spread love throughout the space while listening to the intimate and sexual experiences of the performers.
Poerotica was the meeting space for all things vagina-related, heart -wrenching, and hella, hella honest. Throughout the night, I found myself feeling like I was chillin’ in my big sister’s room and getting the word on everything that l ever wanted to ask about eroticism.
Before we get into how lit the night was, let’s talk about the feels that I got before the event. Walking into Poerotica’s last rehearsal, I was greeted warmly by a room full of Queens who had never seen me before, but embraced me as if I was one of their own. We circled up to greet each other with our names and what we were excited for in the coming weekend. I felt as if I was in a room with my homegirls. The energy from these women was welcoming, inviting and full of love.
I watched in amazement as the cast of women of color rehearsed scenes about sexual encounters, uplifting songs and monologues. There was a certain grace about the way the cast approached and demanded the stage. When one person went up to go through their set, the rest of the cast sat and watched, engaging fully in what the person was doing up front. The way they supported each other was so wonderful, as they laughed heavily at funny scenes and listened curiously to serious scenes. These women were less of a cast, more of a group of sisters. I was captivated by their carefreeness. And I could not wait until the night of the show.
Curious to know what other women of color would be experiencing at the event, I asked some behind-the-scenes folks what the one message was they wanted people to get from Peorotica. Nandi Mudiwa, producer from Women of the Now, responded, “Maybe not one message, but more-so a feeling. I want women to walk away with more confidence, acceptance of themselves. We have so much negativity directed towards us whenever we express ourselves… I want them to be more powerful and confident and embrace it.”
Event Producer Aimy Tien from Women of the Now commented, “An event like Poerotica is meant to talk about our stories… It’s really important that we have the opportunity to talk about stories that are about us. We don’t often get to tell stories that are about us… I want them to think about the beauty of sexuality and the beauty of sensuality, knowing that sex is not something to be afraid of and your body is not something to be afraid of… like we should love the skin we’re in and we should love all the melanin we have. It is so important to find joy. To celebrate…and there’s a beauty in that joy…”
Finally, it was time to experience Poerotica in all its glory. And to my pleasant surprise, I would soon find out that the same vibes Nandi and Aimy had spoken up would be dealt at an even higher frequency.
After the bodyguard checked my I.D., he opened the door, and there began a night of intimacy, freedom and vulnerability. Walking into the space was something like walking into a therapy session to embrace all I had been secretly dealing with sexually. The peeling back of dead layers of shame, doubt and sexual fear began the moment I stepped on the hardwood floor as my ears tuned in to En Vogue’s “Hold on to your looooooove.”
The warmth in the building was like a cozy blanket on a winter night. “Heeeeeey, so good to see you,” was the primary greeting as the DJ so pleasantly switched the mood to Beyoncé’s “Sugar Mama.” Women of all shapes, sizes, and shades walked around flawlessly, drink-in-hand, wearing smiles that fit them as impeccably as a perfect pair of Levi’s.
It seemed that as everyone got dressed that night, they said to themselves, “I’m gonna put on the sexiest shit I can find.” Lingerie was the uniform. Damn-near naked was trending. One of the cast members wore an incredible pink tutu that decorated the room as she danced. There were silk flower robes, corsets, thongs and stiletto pumps across the room. It was okay to stare at another woman in her lingerie and give her props for slaying. It was okay for a group of women of color to coexist, in one space, on one accord.
Everyone walked around, mingled a little, and danced a lot. This was the pre-game to an epic night of eroticism.
Freedom rang as the drinks kept going, and everyone gathered into the main room where the cast would be performing. The first thing that I noticed was a gorgeous, colorful piece of Nina Simone, on back of the stage wall. Yeeeeessss for Ms. Simone! As Women of the Now founder Layne Marie Williams, A g Thing creator Glenance Green, and Amy Tien introduced themselves and their vision for Poerotica, they encouraged everyone to chill out on the floor as the performers blessed us with a night full of poetry, song, dance and acting.
The intimacy in the space increased as we bunched ourselves on the floor with crossed legs and open torsos, anticipating the exhilaration that would soon take over the stage and the room. The presence and power of women of color overtook to the stage for the next hour and a half. The sharing of poems, songs, guitars and stories brought everyone into a sound space of freedom where we shared in the glory of being women in color. I witnessed and shamelessly participated in the snapping of fingers with plenty of resounding “yaaaasssssssses!”
“The Poerotica Memoirs” was a series of short stories told by the entire cast of Poerotica. Some of the topics included the story of a Chinese-American being hit on in the street, a story about a girl who was molested by her mother’s boyfriend and a story of two women who embraced masturbation boldly and powerfully. These memoirs challenged me to come to a place of soft vulnerability. To think about things that had happened in my sexual past that I did not want to face. But, by the end of them, I was a step closer to accepting my own story as these women told us theirs.
The performances were not all Poerotica came to slay. The night of unmatched intimacy and freedom was topped off with a panel of #BlackGirlMagic! Financial Coach Mika Saunders, Entrepreneur Cruel Valentine, Naturopathic Doctor and Relationship Coach Tammye Matthews, The Goddess Mentor and Spiritual Healer JeTuan Jones, and Physician, OB/GYN Vanessa Archil, each graced the stage to spill the tea on financial success, sex, vaginal care, relationships, self-love, among a plethora of other questions from the crowd.
The night ended on a high note, with continued drinks, socializing, and dancing. When I asked two people from the crowd how they felt about the magic that had just transpired, they replied, “This was amazing. I-I don’t even have words for real. I just feel good about myself and my body right now.” One of the cast members commented that she was “scared to perform as myself, but I felt liberated afterwards. Like I’m sexually free.”
So, y’all, even though I failed to find one word to describe Poerotica, now you can visualize what an incredible time it was. As its flyer suggests, Poerotica was indeed a time of empowerment for women of color through liquor, lingerie, and love languages.