Dixie De La Tour by Benjy Feen

Decade of Bawdy Storytelling opens gateway to sexual underground

Shortly after Dixie De La Tour moved to the Bay Area, she received an invitation that would change her life.

“I used to have a very boring day job,” she said by phone, “and then my life was made more exciting by the fact that I fell down the rabbit hole and discovered sex parties. Being from the South, I loved the freedom and I loved the fact that it was safe, and all of the things that I had never thought sex really was.”

De La Tour has now been involved in what she calls “the sexual underground” for nearly 25 years.

“My role in the sex parties was usually to find one particular person, and the gender didn’t matter,” she said. “But it was usually a first-timer, and I really liked keeping an eye on that person and making sure they were safe, and letting them find the thing that they were there to find — maybe it was a young girl looking to kiss a girl for the first time, and I’d introduce her to people. I like to play fairy godmother.”

One day, despite being turned off by the idea, she agreed to support a friend by attending a Burning Man storytelling event at Bazaar Cafe. When she realized she was hearing a true story, her attitude shifted. “I just sat there mesmerized; the whole time I thought, my people could really use this, and the stories would be incredible.”

Now celebrating 10 years of Bawdy Storytelling, De La Tour has created a sort of gateway to the underground. What started as a place for sex-positive people to gather outside of a sex party has become a scene that people from all walks of life want to be a part of. Each show has a theme, and each person tells a true personal story without notes. What makes Bawdy distinct is the way De La Tour works with each storyteller to strip their stories of bravado.

“This is about why you do the things that you do,” she said, “and in the process of asking those questions we get to the kernel of the story. We get to this vulnerability. … The things that maybe, you know, are less talked about, we don’t shy away from that material. It’s not just funny, sexy stories. Sexuality is at the core of who you are; it’s a big part of your identity.”

The events, which occur monthly in San Francisco and Seattle and rotate quarterly between Chicago, Los Angeles and Portland, provide a provocative but safe space for people looking to make new connections, and De La Tour encourages this by beginning each with a game of Bang-O — adult Bingo with directives like “find someone who is polyamorous” and “find someone who identifies as bisexual.”

“The whole reason that we do the games, and the stories have the content they do,” she said, “is because it’s disarming. And that’s how you meet people and fall in love, and find the thing you’re looking for, and figure yourself out. By sitting in a room, being yourself and having everybody be OK with the person that you brought — yourself.”


Bawdy Storytelling: 10 Year Anniversary: 7 and 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. $25 each or $45 for both. Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa St., S.F. (415) 861-9199.

This article originally appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Photo by Benjy Feen

Other book events

Calder G. Lorenz reads from his debut novel, One Way Down (Or Another). Joining him is Micah Ballard (Afterlives) (7:30 p.m. Thursday, Booksmith, 1644 Haight St., S.F., free).

Literary Speakeasy presents an evening of tributes to Sylvia Plath. Annah Anti-Palindrome, Christian Gullette, Robert Andrew Perez, July Westhale and Maw Shein Win each read from Plath’s work and from their own (7 p.m. Thursday, Martuni’s, 4 Valencia St., S.F., free).

Olga Zilberbourg celebrates the publication of her new collection of short stories, “A Clapping Land” — published in Russian — with an English-language party discussing Russian literature and themes within a global and specifically American context. Readings by Anthony Marra (The Tsar of Love and Techno), Yanina Gotsulsky (Ergo Sum), and Anastasia Edel (Russia: Putin’s Playground) (2 p.m. Saturday, Alley Cat Books, 3036 24th St., S.F., free).

Liminal celebrates two years with performances by Kate Schatz (Rad Women Worldwide), Akilah Monifa, Mg Roberts (Anemal Uter Meck), Indira Allegra, Alison Luterman (Desire Zoo) and Audacious IAM (7 p.m. Saturday, Liminal, 3037 38th Ave., Oakland, $15-$25).

Ali Eteraz (Native Believer), Chronicle columnist Vanessa Hua (Deceit and Other Possibilities) and Shanthi Sekaran (Lucky Boy) discuss issues of immigration and identity (1 p.m. Sunday, Oakland Main Library, 125 14th St., Oakland, free).

Juan Pablo Villalobos (Down the Rabbit Hole) reads from his new novel “I’ll Sell You a Dog” and talks with Mauro Javier Cardenas (“The Revolutionaries Try Again”) (6 p.m. Sunday, Green Apple Books on the Park, 1231 Ninth Ave., S.F., free).