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Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  773 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Public Sex collects the best of Pat Califia's work published over the past 20 years. Providing both a chronicle of the radical sex movement in the United States, as well as the definitive opinions of America's most consistent and trenchant sexual critic, Public Sex is must-read material for anyone interested in sexual practices, feminism, censorship, or simply the art of t ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published June 12th 2000 by Cleis Press (first published January 1st 1994)
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Feb 19, 2008 Mk rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer
I really enjoyed this book, largely for the ways it traces the effects AIDS had on queer culture's relationship to sex.

An anecdote: I got this book out of the public library. I had it sent over to my local branch, and when I went to pick it up the librarian returned from the storage room slowly, staring at the front cover. When he got back to the desk, he held the book up to another employee and asked "Why do we have this?" The person shrugged and the librarian switched to reading the back cove
Jul 06, 2008 Erin rated it really liked it
This book is not only good, but important.

Which is different than saying that I agree with every single thing the author says in the entire book. But I love the unfettered intelligent argumentation in here, and I will fight like hell to have the chance to read it. Califia's opinions themselves evolved as time progresses. I most admired his candor, ability to cut through the baloney in discussion of sexual politics, and writing that neither panders to right or left but aims to create definition a
Jul 11, 2010 Ocean rated it it was amazing
whip-smart, fearless and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, this book is a collection of essays mostly published in the 80's and early 90's, which still ring true today. the essay, "unmonogamy: loving tricks and tricking lovers" changed my life, i think. pretty much everything in here is a gem. i also thought it was hilarious when califia mentioned making their own dildo harness and then said, "velcro makes it adjustable--i love technology!" oh, the 80's.
Aug 25, 2007 Sheryl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sexualities
Pat/rick is one of my favorite writers on any subject, let alone difficult issues of sexuality. This book will challenge everyone on some level, I would imagine (perhaps you are already all right with leathersex, but can you get down with a defense of NAMBLA?) but Pat/rick's wit and wisdom made me examine my prejudices in a way that few other writers have.
Dec 27, 2007 Ching-In rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Even if I didn't always agree with his analysis (for instance, I wish he would have gone further around with the race analysis -- he does pay lip service, but I wanted more specifics, but maybe that's for another author & another book), I'm glad I read this book. Interesting, thought-provoking essays on sex (especially focusing on the subcultures of S/M, sex work, queer culture).
Jeanette Cupcake
Jan 02, 2008 Jeanette Cupcake rated it really liked it
This is an amazing book. I had to read it for a Gender Studies Class in college and I got addicted to Pat Califia. (Who i was in love with until she becamse he) Its thought provoking, educational, contreversial, and it times it pissed me off. At times I hated the author and thought he was crazy. But I came out of it wanting to experience a new world, and now I have all of his books.
Rita Brinkerhoff
Feb 10, 2008 Rita Brinkerhoff rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to read about sex and politics together at last
Patrick Califia totally rules. Read it, yo. I love feminists talking about sexual freedom. It always gets hilarious when you're reading about Andrea Dworkin plus the MEESE COMMISSION! Mayhem ensues!!!
Apr 01, 2009 Kim rated it really liked it
These essays were incredibly well-written and thought-provoking.
Dec 12, 2008 anne rated it it was amazing
incredible essays on leatherdaddys and sadomasochistic feminism
Dec 08, 2012 Wacky rated it really liked it
there was a time period in my life that I couldn't focus long enough on any one thing to read an actual book. any book. fact or fiction. somehow THIS BOOK cut through all of the heavy brain fog that was weighing my mind down and I was actually able to read it through to completion. Perhaps it was just the realist escape that I needed. Perhaps it was just because it was one of the few radical queer books I could get my hands on at the time. Whatever it may have been.. I will always remember this ...more
Mar 04, 2008 Sinclair rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read for the East Bay Queer Theory bookgroup. I was so engaged! It reads more like a historical text than a current political analysis (at least, the 1st edition from 1994 does—I hear the updated 2nd edition is a little different). I got a little bored with the political details, but I'm just not that into politics. I loved reading about the culture and tone from the 80s and 90s around activism and interconnected issues (pornography, IV drug users, age of consent laws). I respect Califia's work ...more
May 22, 2014 Chase rated it it was amazing
Pat Califia's journalistic collection is radical, regardless of the title. Califia is emboldened by a queer future that envisions sex positivity; to be sure, Califia is that visionary. Her writing is explicit; don't be shocked upon first reading. Califia is an essential member of the S/M community and advocate for the trans community(ies). A must read for LGBT scholars of all variations.
Nelson Minar
Apr 10, 2014 Nelson Minar rated it it was ok
Fun book of radical essays about sexuality. I like Califia's no bullshit attitude, although of course half of what she says is wrong :-) Still, I'm glad to see someone write challenging essays, and I think her general liberation message is important. Back in my Queer Nation days this was the sort of discourse we were striving for. Maybe it's a bit dated now.
Jan 20, 2011 Liz rated it it was ok
patrick califia has a really good analysis of some of the ways sexual expression is repressed, particularly through legal sanction and control of public space, and a really shallow analysis of everything else. It's incredibly frustrating.
Jan 12, 2009 Javier rated it really liked it
A good, if slightly outdated read on harm reduction, sex, and the state. I really hope Pat has it in him to write a revised edition sometime soon, I'd love to read a more current edition. Or just sit down with my hero over a coffee/beer :)
Mar 28, 2007 kot rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Totally changed the way I think about sexuality, gender, politics, and the media. I find myself evaluating certain contemporary social issues against some of Califia's well-articulated theories presented in his book.
Oct 20, 2007 Heather rated it really liked it
Pat is a serious author addressing seriously taboo subjects. Her insight reveals aspects of our modern culture rarely talked about and typically hidden away. Recommended for anyone interested in sexual politics.
Mylksnake Wilson
Jun 22, 2007 Mylksnake Wilson rated it did not like it
This book was very uninviting to read once I got it home. Surprising for a book with the word sex in the title.
Mar 23, 2008 Lai-san rated it really liked it
Probably the best introduction to Califia's non-fiction writing. Thought-provoking, witty, very human, and one of the first sex books I read where I found msyelf nodding along to it quite a bit.
Carmen something
May 15, 2007 Carmen something rated it really liked it
Some darling essays about the development of s/m/leather sex in the United States. Lovely nightime reading, if you can ignore the not so bad erotica that slips in from time to time.
Sep 22, 2008 Clio rated it it was ok
Shelves: sexual-politics
my mom found this in my room and read it for a paper in her psych class. it was totally weird.
Jun 20, 2007 HeavyReader rated it it was amazing
Yet another book that Keith turned me on to. His recommendation was that even Pat Califia could make anal sex sound pretty. He was right.
Melissa Luna
Apr 21, 2010 Melissa Luna rated it really liked it
Pat Califia covers a lot of ground in this book of essays. Eloquent, down to earth and entertaining, it is also a good blend of racey and political.
Sep 28, 2015 M rated it really liked it
"The name of the ride is "Rock the Boat," not "Pretend You're Dead Already" (156).
Jan 13, 2008 Veleda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Certainly an interesting book, Califia doesn't censor or hold himself back in the least. Sometimes I found myself nodding vigorously in agreement, and sometimes I was deeply disturbed.
Aubergine rated it liked it
Jan 29, 2014
Maggie Mayhem
Maggie Mayhem rated it really liked it
Jul 08, 2012
Ananda rated it liked it
Sep 26, 2012
loveabull rated it it was ok
Dec 07, 2013
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Patrick Califia-Rice, who formerly wrote under the names Pat Califia and Patrick Califia, is a writer of nonfiction (on men, gender, transgender identity, and sexuality) and fiction (erotica, poetry, and short stories).
More about Patrick Califia-Rice...

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“It should not be a crime to discuss any idea, however outrageous ” 5 likes
“Insisting on maintaining dignity at all costs is paralyzing. Mistakes are informative, and so is playing the fool” 4 likes
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