Welcome to another blog, everyone! This time, we’re doing something a little different - a book review! I'm writing about what has become my new favorite book, Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary by Polly Whittaker. This book is Polly Superstar’s memoir and a description of the cultural revolution she is hoping to usher in, starting with the Kinky Salon. This book talks about sex, love, kink, money, and heartbreak in touching and personal terms. Her writing style is confessional but in the best way such that by the end of the book I felt like I knew her and wanted her to be my new best friend. Throughout the book, she goes back and forth in time, giving context then describing how it impacted her. While this isn’t necessarily standard for a memoir, it flows beautifully and helps the reader understand how the different parts of her life and of our culture are linked together. Let’s dig in and go over my favorite sections.
The book starts with a description of where Polly came from and the evolutions of her life. When she moves to San Francisco from London she finds her mission, writing:
“Pulling our culture out of the sexual dark ages felt important, and I wanted to be part of it.” pg. 34
This gets to the heart of the sex-positive movement, working on getting our culture past the outdated sex-negative ideas that puritans were particularly fond of. She then presents a great short version of sexual revolutions throughout human history. As she circles back, she sums it up by saying:
“The reality is that the sexual revolution has already made a few rounds and it keep spiraling into new territory with each spin. When it comes around it’s inevitably countered with a powerful puritanical backlash – with new laws to control people’s behavior, or pressure exerted from religious leaders. Well-meaning, God-fearing crowds have burned books deemed inappropriate, and cheered as adulterers met their fate in flames.” pg. 46-47
She moves from historical context to the life she begins to establish in San Francisco. As a latex clothing artist, Polly opens her own store in San Francisco. As she meets people there, she begins to dream bigger, eventually finding a large Victorian House for rent which she names “Mission Control,” the home for her ever-expanding vision of sexual revolution.
“I had a vision: a global network of creative, sexy parties, helping to restore health and balance to culture’s relationship with sexuality . . . I wanted the events to be fun and accessible, cultivating a livelier vibe than the seriousness of the leather and latex set . . . I understood that sex could be about pleasure and connection. As I was becoming a woman, I was starting to appreciate its potential as a tool for personal and social transformation.” pg. 60-61
Polly then meets the man with whom she will spend 10 years creating, working, and loving, building Mission Control, the Kinky Salon (an art, kink, and sex party), and their vision for a movement that can usher in cultural change. Polly has some great observations throughout the book about relationships, heartbreak, jealousy, and sexual scripts. Some of my favorites are:
“Our culture has given us some impossibly conflicting ambitions: Be sexy, but don’t be afraid if you don’t feel sexy, because that’s really not sexy. But don’t be too sexy. But don’t be a prude. We’re tied up in knots with the contradictions. But it’s not just personal – culture itself is as confused as we are about the role of sexuality.” pg. 93
“When I found out he was buying tiny desserts for his lover I will admit I was jealous. I had a moment where the little girl inside me stomped her feet and cried, “that’s my thing!” But I would never put a toddler in the driving seat of a car, and I prefer to keep my inner child out of the driving seat of my personality.” pg. 140
“A broken heart can be a beautiful place. It’s full of opportunities. All those shards scattered about, reflecting images you never saw before. Fleeting glimpses of possibility. When your ego is pulverized into an unrecognizable mush, it becomes compost for your future. You have the chance to reimagine yourself.” pg. 252
“We are told that there is not enough to go around and someone, somewhere, will be left out in the cold. The only way to stop that from being you is to hold on tight to what you’ve got, and grab whatever comes your way.” pg. 269
I won’t spoil the end for you too much, but what I will say is that the Kinky Salon is now growing to many cities all around the world, with their mission statement video available on Polly’s website. The book, as a whole, works as an invitation for the reader to join her in her sex culture revolution. I, for one, want to join in.
If you want to have a great time, and get a feel for Polly, I would suggest checking out the video found here of her telling two stories for Bawdy Storytelling. She’s got a great sense of humor and a very dirty mouth (definitely NSFW).
Polly: Sex Culture Revolutionary is available on Amazon.