I’m writing the story of what happened as I discovered, unleashed and integrated my erotic creature (sensual and sexual authentic self) with the rest of me.
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 1:
Discovering Hip Circles on Oprah – “Release Your Inner Sexpot” Episode of November 10, 2003
I put away my stack of Jockey panties in neutral colors of white, beige, and light blue in my top dresser drawer. I glanced at the clock on my husband’s bedside table. It was nearly four o’clock. Where had the day gone? I’d taken the day off my policy research job at the California Genetic Disease Branch of the Department of Health to make a 4-day weekend since the following day was Veterans Day. I hadn’t done anything fun, instead, I’d spent the day sorting, filing, paying bills and organizing. I walked out of the bedroom into our living room deciding to check out Oprah before figuring out what to cook for dinner.
I picked up the remote from our seen-better-days Ikea coffee table full of dents, dings and water-rings. I kept the remote pointed at the television, ready to click off Oprah if she didn’t have something interesting to share.
A gold O screen faded to black. Red WARNING letters flashed to a siren beep above white letters that Oprah read aloud: This is no ordinary makeover show.
Hmmm… I sat in my rocking chair. My favorite. A mahogany-stained, wooden slat back one my husband, Brian, bought me for my 31st birthday to replace the white wicker one he’d given me for college graduation.
A woman wearing a black cardigan sweater dotted with appliqué pumpkins over a white turtleneck appeared on the screen. The camera zoomed tighter until all I saw were the orange pumpkins. A few bars of Jaws music played in the background while Oprah promised: Somewhere inside this pumpkin sweater, a sexpot is ready to burst out.
I placed the remote onto the table, intrigued.
The Jaws music shifted to a sexy thump, thump. The woman introduced as Heather, now post makeover, spun around a stripper pole into a backbend for her shocked, but ecstatic husband. The sexy music and images continued as Oprah said:
Pole Dancing 101. Tantric Sex for beginners. Oh, yeah, we’re going there, honey. How to release your inner sexpot. You’ve got one. We know she’s in there.
If I hadn’t been alone, my face might have flushed pink, or even red. Though I grinned, my eyes were wide with astonishment. I’d been trying to find my own inner sexpot without success. Was she in there? If she was, I hadn’t yet figured out how to find her, never mind free her. Though it hadn’t stopped me from trying over the years, mostly for my husband’s sake.
Oprah continued: I have one goal, before this show is over, and this is: I want you to feel sexy.
“Sounds good, Oprah, bring it on,” I said aloud with the cheers of the audience.
Oprah asked: Because how sexy do you feel right now, really?
Umm, not so much. I glanced down at my navy UC Berkeley sweatshirt, bought when I finally finished graduate school in 2000. Unlike Oprah’s audience, I wasn’t dolled up for television.
Oprah continued: …I know a lot of you are at home watching me right now in your shlumpadinka pajamas, and how is your walk? Do you know how to move your body in a sensual way? Do your clothes make you feel sexy? Well, that’s what we asked a lot of our viewers in an Oprah.com poll and it was so pitiful.
My clothes, like my undergarments were more about comfort and function than sexiness. No, my walk wasn’t sexy. I didn’t know how to move my body sensually. Well, except maybe in water. But even then, mostly I swam laps. I’d skinny dipped as a camp counselor the summer after graduating high school. I loved it. How luscious and freeing it felt. I always imagined it would be a regular activity once I had a backyard pool, but we still didn’t own a house and Brian, my husband, wasn’t a fan of pools after hearing co-workers discuss the expense and upkeep.
At least I wasn’t alone (since the survey results were ‘pitiful’). This news both comforted and saddened me.
Oprah cut to a commercial break.
I felt chilly, despite my sweatshirt. I glanced across our spacious, open living and dining room to the floor to ceiling bay windows and saw the setting sun. I bopped up to shut the windows which I’d opened earlier to air out the Briwax smell. I’d polished our farm table, made out of reclaimed wood from a Scottish distillery, after I finally excavated it from piles of paperwork clutter. As I slid the windows closed, I admired the greenery in the canyon below, a view I view I never tired of; it felt like living in a tree house. On my way back to the living room, my fingers and palm skimmed the smooth, shiny, clutter free surface of the table. I vowed to keep it that way, yet knew from experience the piles of paper would be back too soon.
I made it back to my chair before the commercial break ended. Oprah introduced and chatted with Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall and Essence magazine’s Mikki Taylor who’d both written books with sexy titles. I rocked impatiently. Eventually, Oprah rolled tape on Heather.
In the tape, Oprah said the “sexiest thing about this mother is her granny panties.” The pumpkin sweater was one of many in her seasonal collection. Her red-brown hair, cut in a Dorothy Hamill bob, reminded me of my style from the 4th grade. She wore round, wire-rimmed glasses reminiscent of John Lennon rather than a sexy librarian.
After the tape ended, Oprah laughing, asked the audience: When the tape was running, did you all hear Mikki and Kim screaming over the granny panties?
Kim Cattrall said: Burn them.
Oprah agreed: Burn the granny panties. That’s the goal at the end of the day. For everyone who’s watching with your granny panties, burn them.
Finally, Heather walked—no, actually strutted—onto the stage full of confidence. Her transformation stunned me as much as her husband. They’d colored her hair auburn and added long feathered extensions and highlights. On top, she wore a curve enhancing, sheer layered brown scoop neck tank. Her hips and legs were hugged by a rose-colored suede skirt over thigh high brown leather boots, which she revealed by lifting up one side of her skirt.
After another commerical break, Oprah introduced the woman who had taught Heather to pole dance: Sheila Kelley, our next expert, says that every woman could benefit by uncaging her inner stripper. Did you know you had one?
Sheila Kelley was an actress I recognized from LA Law. She’d played Arnie’s secretary in the early 1990s.
Oprah said to Sheila, Kim, Mikki and viewers: So Sheila Kelley has just written a new book called The S Factor, Strip Workouts for Every Woman. And I love this. Sheila says that there exists, I read this in your brochure, in every woman a hidden erotic creature, a center of her sexual power and self-knowledge. She may be buried beneath a pin-striped business suit or sleep next to a man whose snores lull her to sleep. She may hide in a body whose owner lives in mortal fear of bikinis and bathroom scales, but trust me, she’s there.
Sheila’s reply: Oh, she’s there.
Oprah: She’s your sexual alter ego? Correct?
Sheila: She’s there. She’s there in every single woman. I’ve taught hundreds and hundreds of women. I’ve been doing this for three years, and every single woman that comes into my studio, they’re terrified, they’re scared, they don’t know this side of themselves. They’ve kept it locked in a box. They’ve kept it closed off. And through the movement that I teach, the S Factor, it comes out. She comes out.
Oprah: Yeah. Even if they come in a pumpkin sweater?
Sheila: Well, you saw.
I laughed. I’d stopped rocking and leaned forward.
Sheila taught Oprah, Kim and Mikki a sexy walk. She said it was one of the most important lessons we’d learn: …you wanna slow down…be deliberate with your body. Your body’s powerful. It’s beautiful. You wanna take a nice crossover with your front leg, you wanna drag that back leg through and fall into that hip. You wanna get your breasts out there.”
But I didn’t get it, just like Mikki, who had a confused expression on her face. I was supposed to fall into my hip, but I couldn’t grasp which one. Sheila demonstrated giving them all pointers. Then Sheila said: “I’m dying to do hip circles with you guys.” She demonstrated, but was mostly blocked from the camera’s view. Oh, oh, what were those hip circles, I wondered? And wished I could step into the television and around the others for a clear view of Sheila. Something about her child-like, wide-eyed enthusiasm made me sense magic in them. I knew in that moment, that a woman’s secret power must be tucked away like buried treasure in her hips. But Oprah stopped her and lined them all up to do the walk together again. I didn’t get it[Later in book show me getting the walk in my living room. A moment when I strut in my new heels and realize I’ve even got the idea of sucking in my abs w/o thinking about it and still breathing deeply. Whoa, never thought that would happen!] the second time either.
Sheila was barefoot and dressed in black yoga pants and a long sleeve burgundy top….yet she exuded more raw sexuality than all the women. She glowed, possessing incredible vibrancy. I didn’t fully understand why, especially since Kim wore a pencil skirt and oozed sex as Samantha on Sex in the City.
And then Sheila got to teach those luscious looking hip circles while she demonstrated how to slowly strip off her top. I couldn’t take my eyes off her hips. She pushed her hip out far to her right shouting “Send that hip to Detroit!”
I rocked up out of my chair and slid the coffee table towards our over-sized indigo couch to make room to join in. I followed Sheila’s directions, “Send it..send it…send it…” and slowly circled my hips to the right—thinking, all the way to Berkley! As she said, “Swing it back,” I pushed them way back. Then, “take it around,” so I moved them to the left, then front. My hip circle felt more like a rounded box. It felt awkward. I assured myself, with practice it would smooth out. Mikki looked embarrassed standing off to the side, laughing, watching, but wouldn’t move her hips even with Oprah’s encouragement (who was having fun in her black leather pants): “Come on Mikki!” I understood her reluctance, I wouldn’t move my hips on national TV either.
I watched the rest of the show, but nothing fascinated me as much as S Factor and pole dancing. I had to buy Sheila’s new book. I wanted to uncover this elusive erotic creature in myself. Where was she? Why didn’t I know her yet? Shouldn’t I have met her in high school or college? Unleashed her on my honeymoon? Gotten to know her during our marriage? I wanted what I’d seen in Heather. That sexy strut.
And I figured if a women who wore turtlenecks with pumpkin appliqué sweaters and granny panties was brave enough to pole dance for her husband in front of millions of people then I could find and release my inner sexpot with my husband at home. At the time, I didn’t consider my vanilla jockey panties and bras granny undergarments. So I didn’t rush to burn them, like I should have when Kim and Oprah suggested all viewers do that immediately after the show. Besides, at least mine were French cut.
For more of my story see blog posts tagged Memoir Excerpt.