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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Punch Drunk Lust: Red Light Lit's Intoxication Issue Out Friday

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2015 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge CHRIS W. PARKER
  • Chris W. Parker

When Red Light Lit founders Veronica Christina and Jennifer Lewis chose the theme for their latest issue, “Everyone I Love is Drunk,” they had in mind a broad definition of intoxication — drunk on life, drunk on love, drunk on happiness. But after their first batch of submissions, they realized their contributors were taking the term much more literally.

“It made me realize how much drinking is involved in romance,” says Lewis. “It's not something that just happens in college. It's something that happens in San Francisco from age 20 to 50.”

click to enlarge MICHELLE THOLAN
  • Michelle Tholan
“Everyone I Love is Drunk,” out May 15, marks the eighth issue for the quarterly magazine, which began a little over a year ago as a “nightingale reading series of erotic literature.” While it focuses on art, poetry, and on fiction about sexuality and love, the magazine has evolved to cover ground somewhere between the literary and the erotic, searching for “honest, witty, and raw” writing that avoids easy clichés about romance and intimacy. Lewis wasn't much of an erotica aficionado before starting the magazine, and she says this makes her a better editor, more able to look at the pieces holistically.

“There has to be something lyrical or beautiful,” Lewis says. “I don't want to read another poem with a stiletto heel in it. You can be sexy in moccasins.”

The photos that accompany almost every literary piece also avoid stereotypical depictions of sexuality, leaning toward the female gaze, an aesthetic more akin to the way women would prefer to be depicted in erotic photos. The integration of art into the magazine has always been a central tenet, and the reading series reflects this attempt to modernize literary culture. Red Light Lit events (which generally sell out) trade the hushed bookstore milieu for a festive rock 'n' roll vibe at a more seductive venue. This time it's the Clift Hotel, where Phillip T. Nails, of the Poetry Society of Los Angeles, will emcee, singer-songwriter Anna Hillburg will provide musical accompaniment, and comedian Gabby Poccia will perform stand-up. Red Light Lit contributors such as Ari Moskowitz, Cassandra Palo, Matt Carney, and Daniel Rodriguez will read from their work.

It's all an attempt to create an atmosphere more representative of the diverse voices of the city, voices Lewis doesn't usually find in the glossy monthly magazines about San Francisco, and to create a space for these diverse artists to be in the same room together. Because if there's one thing we all have in common, it's the need to share some honest stories about love and sex.

“So many songs and so many poems are about relationships,” she says. “There's something universal in people's specific intimate stories.”

Red Light Lit presents “Everyone I Love is Drunk,” Friday, May 15, 6 p.m., at the Clift Hotel, 495 Geary, 415-775-4700, $8 advanced tickets, $12 at the door.

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Jessi Phillips


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