CLS Interviews Punany Poets Founder, Jessica Holter 

This month, CLS is excited to share with you a phenomenal woman doing some amazing work. Jessica Holter, founder of Punany Poets, has created a  platform in which the topics of sex and sexuality can be explored in a creative way.  What is Punany?  Punany is sex with the lights on.  Her events bring together couples and and friends on a journey of romance and laughter.  It is sex education at its finest.

Here is what we learned about the wonderful work she is doing during our recent interview:

CLS:  Tell me more about the Lover’s Retreats. What is a typical day like for a couple on a retreat?

Jessica: I am still building the Lover’s Retreat segment for my group. In the past we have gone to Jamaica, but I am interested in bringing something more spiritual to the discussion of intimacy, especially as it pertains to Black people. I am also working on plans for our Playhouse, a fusion of B&B and Dinner Theater. I have been blessed with an amazing Sexologist, Nikki Morgan, who is helping to bring this to fruition. I’ll be featuring her amazing energy work at the upcoming Atlanta show.

CLS: What inspired you to start this movement?

Jessica: I started the Punany Project in 1995 as a book with hip hop born poetry, sensual images with sexual health PSA’s. It was an AIDS awareness campaign. I was one of the first people to talk about HIV among Black Women. I saw it as a larger problem, stemming from prison privatization and the misogyny in popular music of the time. When Eazy E died, it was already late to begin the conversation… but the stigma. The stigma surrounding AIDS gives honesty a real hard time.”

CLS: Where did you build skills to become a theatrical producer?

Jessica: On the road. I am a writer and a visionary, so the content comes quite naturally, but we are a touring theater company, so there is a lot more than production involved. When I have a great budget and staff, as I did with HBO’s Real Sex and Playboy TV, the possibilities are endless. I am in the process of building a team in Atlanta and eventually my own playhouse.

CLS: You have some amazing pieces in the online art gallery. When did you start creating artwork? What inspires you to create such amazing works?

Jessica:  Wow, thanks! I appreciate you doing your research. A lot of the abstract pieces look like these pictures I used to draw for my mother. My mother was so cool and encouraging. But not sane, they said. I honor her with my artwork. She was very talented.

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CLS: How many poets are currently on tour with Punany Poets?

Jessica:  I rotate a cast of about 14 people, choosing from it, depending are the show I want to create.

CLS: How do you select that poets that tour with the production?

Jessica: I accept video auditions through my email at thepunanypoets@gmail.com.

CLS: What are some of the challenges of bringing such subject matter to the masses?

Jessica: The big part of The Punany conversation is about sexual responsibility for women. Some people, even women, want to leave responsibility for our sexuality in the hands of men. Men do not bleed or bear children. Men can not know how to be responsible for our vaginas. All of the answers are there when you know yourself. You can not be afraid of yourself either. People who are afraid of themselves do not walk in the light. This leads us to truth. Women have to face some hard truths about, sex, marriage, and family planning that may be hard. Too often we use men as the scapegoat for choices we make. Punany, is sex with the light on.

CLS: I can only imagine that there have been some rather conservative couples that have attended a production. Have you gotten any feedback that the production has actually helped couples to open up & explore new sexual avenues with one another?

Jessica: Yes. most of our clients are adult couples on a date night. They come because they are looking for new ideas. Finding new things for the show is fun. I am learning a lot too. I have included some great things in the shows, that you do not often find, our Public Displays of Affection portion includes, love confessions, the energy ex-chains, kissing competition, massage lessons, foot washing and our pre-show Q&A. We also have women on top positions, couples lap-dancing, flogging and sensory deprivation and the touchless orgasm demonstration. This things are combined with romantic comedy, music, and mood to create the perfect date night.

CLS: What was the ultimate situation or idea that pushed you to say, “Yes, the world needs to see/hear this and I’m going to be the one to bring it to them.”

Jessica: I was on HBO’s Real Sex. The next day I had thousands of emails. Yes. Wow. I hadn’t thought about that in years.Thanks for that. In 21 years, I have learned that people will tell you anything, if they feel you will not judge them.

CLS: Have you ever had resistance from the cities/communities where the productions? People not wanting this type of production in their area?

Jessica: My first rejection was from Howard University. The Black Student Union at The University of Colorado boycotted us, and then you have the FCC and the radio, they will say bitch, but they won’t let you say the word Punany. Outrageous.

CLS: What is it that you hope to achieve with the production? What message do you hope the attendees receive?

Jessica: Sex is beautiful. It is powerful and dangerous and should be respected, But it is not dirty, evil or bad.

CLS: What is some of the feedback that you have received from those who have attended?

Jessica: I get the greatest emails from people sometimes after the shows. People say the shows made them open up. I know that part of that is the show. The other part is being in an intimate space, talking about intimate things, with people who think and are interested in the same things.

CLS: In which cities, audience demographics have you found your greatest successes?

Jessica: I play regularly in New York, Washington, DC, Chicago, Dallas, and Hollywood, Fl. I am building markets in Charlotte, New Orleans, Detroit, Houston, Baltimore and here in Atlanta, now that I call it home.

The Punany Poets will be in Atlanta on July 30, 2016 at 8 PM at the Hilton Atlanta-Northeast.  Tickets are on sale at http://www.punanylove.com/.

We hope to see you there!

~Hilda

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