Susie Bright

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Susie Bright
Susie Bright
Susie Bright at Come as You Are in 2012
Susannah Bright

(1958-03-25) March 25, 1958 (age 64)
Other namesSusie Sexpert
EducationUniversity of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC),
New College of California
  • Feminist
  • author
  • journalist
  • critic
  • editor
  • publisher
  • producer
  • performer
Notable work
Big Sex, Little Death: a Memoir, Full Exposure, Susie Bright's Sexual State of the Union, SexWise
MovementSex-positive feminist

Susannah Bright (born March 25, 1958) is an American feminist, author, journalist, critic, editor, publisher, producer, fine print editor, and performer, often on the subject of politics and sexuality.[1]

She is the recipient of the 2017 Humanist Feminist Award, and is one of the early writers/activists referred to as a sex-positive feminist.[2] Her papers are part of the Human Sexuality Collection at Cornell University Library along with the archives of On Our Backs.[3]


As a teenager in the 1970s, Susie Bright was active in various left-wing progressive causes, in particular the feminist, civil rights, and anti-war movements. She was a member of the high school underground newspaper The Red Tide and served as the plaintiff suing the Los Angeles Board of Education for the right of minors to distribute their own publications without prior censorship or approval. (Judgement in favor of Plaintiff).[4]

She was a member of the International Socialists from 1974–1976 and worked as a labor and community organizer in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Detroit, and Louisville, Kentucky. She was also one of the founding members of Teamsters for a Democratic Union, and wrote under the pseudonym Sue Daniels[5] in both The Red Tide and Workers' Power. She has said "I was motivated, always, from the sting of social injustice. The cry of 'That isn't fair!' gets a more impulsive behavior from me than, 'I want to get off!'"[6]

Bright was one of the early staff members of Good Vibrations, a pioneering feminist vibrator store, working and managing the store from 1981 to 1986. She trained with San Francisco Sex Information in 1981. Bright wrote Good Vibrations' first mail order catalog, the first sex toy catalog written from a women's point of a view to a female audience. She founded the Good Vibrations Erotic Video Library, the first feminist curation of erotic films available at the time.[7]

Susie Bright co-founded and edited the first women-produced sex-magazine On Our Backs, "entertainment for the adventurous lesbian", from 1984 to 1991.[8] Here she began her sex advice column as 'Susie Sexpert'. She collected these columns and expanded them to publish her first book, Susie Sexpert's Lesbian Sex World in 1990.[9] She appeared in Monika Treut's Die Jungfrauenmaschine (aka Virgin Machine) film in 1988 as 'Susie Sexpert'.

She published a portfolio of lesbian erotic photography titled Nothing but the Girl, co-edited with Jill Posener with 30 interviews and photographs. It won the Firecracker Award[10] and the Lambda Literary Award in 1997.

Bright founded the first women's erotica book-series Herotica and edited the first three volumes. She started national bestselling The Best American Erotica series in 1993.[11]

From 1992 to 1994, she was the contributing editor and columnist for San Francisco Review of Books.

She was featured in Maya Gallus's 1997 documentary film Erotica: A Journey Into Female Sexuality.[12]

Bright was the first female member of the X-Rated Critics Organization in 1986 and was voted into the XRCO Hall of Fame, 5th Estate, in 2005.[13][14]

Known as the "Pauline Kael of Porn",[15] she wrote feminist reviews of erotic films for Penthouse Forum from 1986–1989.[16] She was the first mainstream journalist who covered the adult industry trade— and the first scholar to teach the aesthetics and politics of erotic film imagery, starting in 1986 at Cal Arts Valencia, and then in the early nineties at the University of California. Her film-reviews of mainstream movies are widely published, and her comments on gay film history are featured in the documentary film The Celluloid Closet.[17]

Bright produced, co-wrote and starred in two plays, Girls Gone Bad and Knife, Paper, Scissors. She worked as a screenwriter and film consultant on several films: Erotique, The Virgin Machine, The Celluloid Closet, The Criterion Collection’s edition of Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour, and the Wachowskis' film, Bound (in which she also had a cameo appearance). She also appeared as "Susie Bright, the feminist sex writer" in an episode of the HBO series Six Feet Under.

In 2013, Bright donated her archives to the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections Cornell University Library.[18]

The donation included papers and documents from her early activist days in "The Red Tide", Teamsters for a Democratic Union, and International Socialists, her early stage and film work, a complete archive of "On Our Backs" magazine and Fatale Videos, her reviews and research as a critic for "Penthouse Forum", and the X-Rated Critics Association, all of her nonfiction manuscripts and anthology research for "Best American Erotica", costumes, VHS tapes, books, writings— as well as many other artist files from the early lesbian feminist and erotic literary fiction publishing era.

The donation culminated with the 2014 year-long exhibit "Speaking of Sex"[19] where Bright's donations were displayed along with a wide array of the Human Sexuality Collection's historical documents and materials. As part of the exhibit's grand opening, Bright gave the lecture "The Sexual State of the Union", analyzing current sexual attitudes in America, and reprised her show "How to Read a Dirty Movie".

Susie Bright has been an editor-at-large and executive producer at Audible Inc. since 2012. Her imprint is The Bright List. She has been nominated or awarded an Audie Award four times, including for her production of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. She has produced audiobook titles by Margaret Atwood, Pablo Neruda, Che Guevara, Frank O’Hara, Martin Luther King, Cornel West, Gary Snyder, Charles Bukowski, Noam Chomsky, Ron Kovic and Bruce Springsteen, Betty Medsger, Dorothy Allison, Dan Savage, Tony Hillerman, Joy Harjo, Octavia Butler, and Dave Hickey.

Bright is the editor at large at Arion Press since 2020, acquiring and publishing letterpress fine art editions.

Personal life[edit]

Bright is the daughter of linguist William Bright and Elizabeth Bright.[20] Her stepmother is Lise Menn, and her stepbrothers are Joseph Menn and Stephen Menn.[20] Bright previously lived with her former partner Honey Lee Cottrell in the 1980s. She is married to Jon Bailiff,[21] with whom she has one daughter, Aretha Bright.[21]


As editor

  • Bright, Susie; Blank, Joani, eds. (1995). Totally Herotica: A Collection of Women's Erotic Fiction. New York: Quality Paperback Book Club. OCLC 36621041.
  • Bright, Susie, ed. (1988). Herotica: A Collection of Women's Erotic Fiction. Burlingame, California: Down There Press. ISBN 9780940208117.
  • Bright, Susie; Blank, Joani, eds. (1991). Herotica 2: A Collection of Women's Erotic Fiction. New York, New York: Plume. ISBN 9780452267879.
  • Bright, Susie, ed. (1993). The best American Erotica, 1993 (15th ed.). New York, New York: Collier Books. ISBN 9780020792628.
  • Bright, Susie, ed. (2008). The best of Best American Erotica, 2008 (15th ed.). New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780743289634.

As author


  • National Leather Association International’s Jan Lyon Award for Regional or Local Work, 1987[22]
  • Humanist Feminist Award,[23] 2017
  • Audie Award Winner,[24] Carrie's Story, Executive Producer, 2014
  • Audie Award Nominee, The Invisible Heart, Executive Producer, 2014
  • Audie Award Nominee, Naked at Any Age, Executive Producer, 2013
  • Audie Award, Best Memoir/Autobiography, Best Male Performance, "The Autobiography of Malcolm X", co-producer, 2021
  • Gail Rich Award, Santa Cruz, 2002
  • Lambda Literary Award, Nothing but the Girl, 1997
  • Firecracker Award, Nothing but the Girl, 1997
  • Utne Reader Visionary,[25] 1995


  1. ^ Ehrman, Mark (July 24, 1994). "Susie Bright Tells All : Preaching a Doctrine of Adventure, Fantasy and Safety, the Feminist Bad Girl Brings Her Pro-Sex Message to the Masses". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ Silverberg, Cory (October 14, 2007). "Susie Bright Sexual Revolutionary (interview)". Archived from the original on December 13, 2007. Retrieved January 2, 2008.
  3. ^ "Guide to the Susie Bright Papers And On Our Backs Records,1978-2013". Retrieved 2017-03-13.
  4. ^ RMC Staff (November 2014). "Guide to the Susie Bright Papers and On Our Backs Records, 1978–2013". Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  5. ^ Castellani, Linda (June 12, 2001). "The WELL: Susie Bright: How to Read/Write a Dirty Story". Retrieved November 11, 2013.
  6. ^ Bright, Susie (2011). Big Sex, Little Death: a Memoir. Bright Stuff. p. 110. ISBN 9780970881519.
  7. ^ Calabria, Karen. "Good Vibrations—The Life and Times of Sexpert and Feminist Susie Bright". Kirkus. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  8. ^ Stark, Christine (2004), "Resisting the sexual new world order: Girls to boyz: sex radical women, promoting prostitution, pornography, and sadomasochism", in Whisnant, Rebecca; Stark, Christine (eds.), Not for sale: feminists resisting prostitution and pornography, North Melbourne, Victoria: Spinifex Press, pp. 287–288, ISBN 9781876756499. Preview.
  9. ^ Bright, Susie (1998). Susie Sexpert's lesbian sex world (2nd ed.). San Francisco, California: Cleis Press. ISBN 9781573440776.
  10. ^ "List of Firecracker Award winners". LibraryThing. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  11. ^ Bright, Susie (January 7, 2008). "Susie Bright's Journal". Susie Bright. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  12. ^ Peter Birnie and Katherine Monk, "Erotica: A Journey Into Female Sexuality". Vancouver Sun, October 4, 1997.
  13. ^ "Hey Nineteen!". Adam Film World Guide. 16 (7): 82–87. June 2003.
  14. ^ "The XRCO Hall of Fame". Adam Film World Guide 2004 Directory of Adult Films: 306. 2004.
  15. ^ Bright, Susie; Frauenfelder, Mark (15 December 2008). "Guest blogger: Susie Bright!". Boing Boing. Retrieved December 15, 2008.
  16. ^ Bright, Susie. "Susie Bright, FAQs" (PDF). Susie Bright. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  17. ^ Rob Epstein (producer/director) and Jeffrey Friedman (producer/director) (1995). "The Celluloid Closet" (Documentary). Channel Four Films and HBO Pictures.
  18. ^ "Susie Bright papers and On Our Backs records, #7788". Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library. Retrieved January 19, 2015.
  19. ^ "Speaking of Sex Exhibition". Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
  20. ^ a b Fox, Margalit (2006-10-23). "William Bright, 78, Expert in Indigenous Languages, Is Dead". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  21. ^ a b "FaceTime / Susie Bright". SFGate. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
  22. ^ "List of winners". NLA International. 2019-03-14. Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  23. ^ Humanist Feminist Award
  24. ^ "2014 Audie Awards® - APA". Retrieved 2020-05-08.
  25. ^ "Susie Bright's Journal : CV". Retrieved 2020-05-08.

External links[edit]