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Need to Talk?
from LA's Democratic Convention
including Who Has & Has Not Visited "Democratic Sex"
by Dr. Susan Block
"In a free and republican government, you cannot restrain
the voice of the multitude."
"Free speech is life itself." --Salman Rushdie
(click here for more Freedom Quotes)
The Conventional Convention Week that Was
It's been a whirlwind week of Democratic Conventioneering, and that's not because the candidates are inspiring. Gore's a snore, and Lieberman, oy, Lieberman. This is the most anti-sex ticket that the Dems have cobbled together since the party commenced with those sexy, wild Men of the People Tommy Boy Jefferson and Randy Andy Jackson. These men were not faultless family men, but they were brilliant inspirational statesmen. Of course, our 42nd President Billy Jeff Clinton is the quintessential Democratic Don Juan, as was JFK, and even LBJ was kind of sexy, if you like big-nosed, big-eared Texans. FDR was Cary Grant in a wheelchair (and no one knew he used the wheelchair), and Jimmy Carter "lusted in his heart" in Playboy, that enduring symbol of American democracy.
Alas, but in Gore, we have tedium personified, a handsome man, but sexless. In Lieberman, we have a sanctimonious moralizer who lumps "sex 'n' violence" in "popular culture" together like "soup 'n' sandwich," and tirelessly kvetches about both.
But the Republicans, though they do offer a snazzier pair of names (Bush & Dick--what a pair!), their anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-war, pro-rich, pro-prison, pro-execution, pro-oil, pro-big business, pro-bank-robbery (where's brother Neil in these cozy family tableaus?), pro-run-the-whole-damn-country-into-the-ground style is just too frightening to let them take the lead. More than ever, we need a strong third party to represent us cultural liberals. But the Reform Party has been kidnapped by Buchannan's brown shirts, and Ralph Nader, well, everyone knows he has no chance of landing in the White House. So we're stuck with supporting Gore the Bore and Rebbe Lieberman.
Thus, our current exhibit at the Speakeasy Gallery: "Democratic Sex." It's an equal opportunity art exhibit, showing Democrats and Republicans, Libertarians and Vegetarians, Reformers and Revolutionaries engaged in "the act." But one of our goals is to give the Democratic Party in general and Al Gore in particular a sorely needed dose of sex appeal.
Lighten up Al, it's just sex. Cool it, Joe, it's art.
In any case, we had a good time showing all the delegates and demonstrators, the press and the populace around the beautiful, charming and sometimes offensive art of "Democratic Sex," passing out our Ethical Hedonist propaganda, providing free neck rubs and foot massage to weary delegates, doling out free iced tea to thirsty demonstrators, getting folks to sign the Bonobo Petitition, giving free art (courtesy of Taschen Books) to everyone.
Some of the folks who have and have not dropped by to see "Democratic Sex":
Jennie & Kristen: GalPal Reporters for
These two sensuous, vivacious cyberjournalists fairly danced through "Democratic Sex," one with an old-fashioned notebook and a European past, the other with a newfangled camera and an impending wedding. The recently repatriated writer, Jenny Dallery, wrote a very nice, almost rave review (with a cool photo by Kristin DeLeo). I should, however, make it clear that I did not invent the term "Coup D'Twat." It was created by that fun-loving but politically serious investigative journalist from the NY Observer and Salon, Joe Conason, to describe the Republican attempt to remove our Billy Jeff from the American presidency by yanking his zipper. Check out Jenny's review of the exhibit & Kristin's hot photo at http://www.la2nite.com/Articles/slurp.phtml?sbid=656 .
We Protest, We Object, We Dissent &
The sheer amount of causes boggled my mind. I remember the days when thousands of people turned out to demonstrate for or against one thing and one thing only, like the Vietnam War or Nuclear Power Plants. These demonstrators were protesting at least a thousand different things, from Iraqui Sanctions to Breast-Feeding (yes, there was a straight-faced contingent actually against breast-feeding as a form of incest! I didn't believe it either, but they said they were serious). I especially applauded those protesting the undemocratic, unhealthy War on Drugs in America and the shameful size of our prison populations. We entertained a contingent of funny-hatted demonstrators from the LA Weekly theater department: Sandra Ross, Lisa Vacea, and LA Weekly Theater Editor Steven Leigh Morris came carrying Billionares for Bush and Gore signs. Then there were the anarchists in black with the scary-looking hoods. Are those hoods supposed to conceal their identities or their acne? Are they actually hiding from each other? Some of these demonstrators seemed like Halloween partiers in search of a cause. Yet they are a vital aspect of our democracy in action, and their multiple concerns are a sign of healthy diversity in our society
I identified with the delegates. They wear big colorful hats, and so do I. Delegates walked through the Gallery in a daze. They loved the free massages, the Hungry Republicans, the bonobos. I think that they would have adored a nice spanking session inside Mario Saucedo's Democratic Cage of Justice. But they were usually in too much of a hurry to get back to the arena to get into anything exciting.
Too many TV crews to count came to "Democratic Sex," most of them sadly bored with all the super-scripted Donkeys and Elephants and searching for something more human. They found it in the art, humor, politics and erotica of "Democratic Sex." Journalistic luminaries who dropped by included: Joe Conason, intrepid writer for the NY Oberserver & Salon and author of The Hunting of the President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill & Hillary Clinton. John Nichols of the Nation. John Robinson Block (no relation, though we did both graduate in the same class at Yale), co-publisher and editor-in-chief of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill Griffitts shooting for SAT1 German TV. James Scholz of KHOU-TV (in Texas, the Execution State!). Sarah Lueck of the Wall Street Journal. The LA Times' Reed Johnson and the erotica-phobic Booth Moore. Numerous "Independent Filmmakers" all making documentaries that they plan to submit to Sundance. Last but not least, that sweet and sharp cookie Alison Stewart of ABCNews.com, who toured the gallery and chatted with me about "Sex & Politics" for "Unconventional with Alison Stewart" along with Hugh Hefner & Anka Radokovich.
Mike Medved didn't come to "Democratic Sex," but he invited me to talk about it on his show which is just a little to the right of Rush Limbaugh. "If the Republicans get into power, won't you be in trouble?" No. People's personal sex lives will be in big trouble. The little guy, the average gal will suffer because things will be more repressive, less tolerant, less open. But I'll be all right. Folks will need me as a sex therapist in private practice more than ever. And with prudish sexual oppressors in office, people will use sex to express their rebellion. My show will become more important if the regime is repressive. I'd rather have freedom for all, but restraint can be sexy too. Sex never loses no matter who wins.
In a Fascism-Lite Show of Force, the LAPD visited us a few times, though they didn't raid us pretending to be a SWAT Team like six months ago. Maybe they'd heard about Mayor Riordan's personal apology to me at the Pantry last Wednesday. Once some LAPD stopped to check out a small crowd we'd gathered on the sidewalk in front of our building. Delegates and demonstrators were ogling the Freedom Banners decorating our edifice, enjoying the free iced tea we were giving out and signing our Bonobo Petition when suddenly about 10 motorcycle cops in riot gear zoomed onto the sidewalk supposedly looking for someone throwing rocks. The cops were obviously in the grip of convention torpor. Monday night, they'd stirred up a little action, of course, shooting rubber bullets at the "Rage the Machine" crowd, just because a few of those anarchist-idiots got rowdy (why not just arrest the bad guys? why shoot rubber bullets at the crowd? a show of force?). We heard about packs of them beating recalcitrant protestors--very quickly and off the main drag, so as not to be caught by the many movie cameras. But all in all, they were over-prepared and robbed the Staples environs of any semblance of street life. In the words of my favorite LA Times columnist Bob Scheer, "LA, the capital city of the 21st century, home to the most varied and sophisticated population in the world, was transformed into a hick Southern town on a Friday football night after curfew."
Speaking of Bob Scheer, he wrote a great little endorsement of "Democratic Sex" in his 8.13.00 column in the LA Times . "Thank God there's still the world of local sexpert Dr. Susan Block, who has the courage to continuously affirm her deeply-held faith in fishnet stockings and other family values," writes Bob, joining the host of political politicians and commentators who are calling upon God these days to support their views.
Well, it was worse in Chicago '68, not to mention LA '92. So we're grateful that the LAPD didn't kill anyone, didn't raid our gallery and broadcast studios for a third time.
Too Much GOD. Not Enough GOOD.
No, Senator Lieberman didn't come to see "Democratic
Sex." I know, he was busy, but he should have made the time. He should
see the kind of great art that all his moralizing talk would censor if America
took it seriously.
Joe's speech wasn't bad. A little too much god, of course (about 11 times too much), and that business of "no parent should be forced to compete with popular culture to raise our children" is ridiculous and a bit frightening, if he really means it.
But he's kind of cute in a Woody Allenish way and that Freedom Rider background is sexy and serious. I also appreciated his promise to break down discriminatory barriers of race, gender and sexual orientation (although there were plenty of barriers erected during the convention). And I really liked his dung joke (the 'Pubs think that the best way to feed the birds is to give more oats to the horse). Then, there's the wife. Hadassah is sexy in a skinny JAPpy sort of way. And Hadassah is the Hebrew name for Esther, my favorite Biblical heroine who used her powers of sexual seduction to save her people from genocide.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, our Orthodox Rabbi friend who wrote Kosher Sex, visited the Speakeasy via phone on Opening Night of the Democratic Convention, to weigh in on Leiberman. He was proud (so am I), but clearly having a Jew, an Orthodox Jew yet, running for such a high secular American office worries him. If Gore loses, will Jews be blamed? On the other hand, I think Rabbi Shmuley might have some political aspirations himself.
So we're passing around a petition to get the Senate to pass the Great Ape Conservation Act, and we see PJ O'Rourke's trashy little screed in that bastion of cranky conservatism, The Weekly Standard. In attempting to make the point that Democrats in general, and Hillary Clinton in particular are bent upon making American soft and weak and on the brink of extinction, PJ smears the utterly innocent bonobos.
He's wrong, of course. It's true that bonobos are great sexual democrats. Bonobos aren't highly endangered because of their own behavior, but because of human behavior. Bonobos have hung around the planet for over a million years, being their sexual peaceful selves, without danger of extinction. It's only in the past few decades--with humans making war around their native habitat in Congo, destroying their rain forest with logging, killing them for bushmeat, capturing bonobo babies as "pets" that no one can take care of--that they're rapidly dying out. Maybe if we can save the bonobos (as we've saved other species on the brink like the condor and American eagle), writers like PJ O'Rourke will go extinct.
Bill! I Love Him So. I Always Will.
He brought tears to my eyes, especially when he talked about the bad old years between 1969 and '92, and how we must never take prosperity and opportunity for granted. No wonder his enemies have tried so hard to hunt him down and destroy him. He's a visionary and a powerhouse. A sexy wild Man of the People. King David.
I just hope that, no matter how much Al and Joe "distance" themselves, they're still Friends of Bill and will take his advice now and then. They'd be dumb not to. These guys are dull, but they're not dumb, are they?
Al Gore Has Not Yet Come to See "Democratic Sex"
It's too bad really. It would help his ratings. Give him a little sorely needed sex appeal, spice up that Gore-the-Bore image.
Al's gone beyond boring. Even though he gamely showed that self-portrait painting of a naked, pregnant Tipper in the Spike Jonze movie, his political actions are coming across as disturbingly prudish these days, what with putting the kibosh on spunky Congresswoman Loretta's Playboy Mansion Fundraiser, aligning himself with Rabbi Lieberman and attempting to "distance" himself from our beloved Sex President.
Lieberman we can maybe live with (his self-righteous kvetch on the Senate Floor during the Scandale did help to save the Clinton Presidency by giving Democrats a way to vent without impeaching). But canceling that Playboy Mansion fundraiser was just plain dumb, mean, hysterical and wrong. Worst of all is the way Al is vainly trying to "distance" himself from one of the most successful, most popular presidents of modern times. Why should he do that? Just because a bunch of jealous journalists and hungry Republicans say he should? Be your own man, Al. Admit you'd do it too if you weren't so scared of Tipper slapping a warn label on your ass!
Al should remind people that he's been there, working side by side with Clinton during these eight progressive years, that he didn't run from him just because the semeny side of his sex life was being exposed by the likes of Ken Starr. Al should bring Tipper over to see "Democratic Sex." They should laugh at the "Hungry Republicans." They should hold hands and nuzzle discreetly as they gaze at the beautiful photos of interracial all-American love. They should tease each other on the interactive erotic furniture. They should be offended by Eben Lehrer's piece with the bloody dildos and tampons (everyone is). They should show the American people that they support the arts, that they have a sense of humor, and that they still "do it."
And excuse me for bringing it up again, but if Tipper can show her naked pregnant self in a political film, what's so wrong with Playboy hosting a fundraiser?
Dubya Hasn't Come By Either
Of course, he's not in LA. He's in Texas, probably presiding over another Texas Barbeque-style execution.
God help America. Goddess help us all.