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William Levy

Poetry & Pensées

By William Levy
For Maggie Allen "The Painted Lady"
--a mesmerizing activist for preserving British striptease--

A chat about the politics of pleasure in Amsterdam
followed by a bardic shriek for transgressive lifestyles
exhausting myself with ecstasy
possibly a moderate self-mutilation
ending with apophthegms.

Speech for Sexual Freedom Coalition Conference
on Saturday 15th May 2004 at the
The Round Chapel, Hackney, London

"Politics and Pleasures: Radical Reforms and Fulfilling Lifestyles.
A jam-packed programme of diverse speakers and erotic performers!"
Another weird & wonderful event organized by Tuppy Owens.

Greeting ladies, gentlemen and fellow radical perverts:

I am from Amsterdam ­ where I have made my home ever since Harold Wilson's Labour government, fearing passion and despising literature, deported me from Great Britain for starting the sex paper SUCK.

I have a love/hate relationship with my city of choice. Amsterdam is like an old mistress to me. After a few drinks, I rant against he--yet have been there for almost 35 years and never seem to be able to move.

Everyone knows Amsterdam has tree-lined canals. Rembrandts and Van Goghs and is impressively beautiful. Magical. Surprising. Everyone knows Amsterdam is the place where you can score hashish openly over the counter in hundreds of coffee shops. Where you can see almost naked women openly display themselves in windows, offering love-for-sale. Whoopee!

To be blunt
Cannabis and cunt

Jokes aside, the real reason I continue to consider myself blessed with being able to live in Amsterdam is the sense of playfulness. That combined with a mercantile pragmatism that makes Amsterdam palatable for everyday life and a future model of visionary urban harmony. Amsterdam remains an outpost of open legs and open minds, where free thought and free loving are not only tolerated but also encouraged. We take this for granted. Visitors gape. Our Red Light District is the world's largest theme park, with more daily visitors than Disney World. And depending on the visitors' views, they either deplore it as licentiousness. Or praise it as libertarianism. It is nothing more than reasonableness, however. And it doesn't exist as an anomaly. Indeed, one must view Amsterdam's sexual candor in context.

As soon as you dissociate carnal pleasure from procreation and allow it as recreation, then there is no plausible argument against it being a vocation. For the Dutch, autonomous rather than compulsory morality--that is finding a place for even that which one disapproves--is cheaper than repression.

Let's take information about AIDS. Traditionally northern European teenagers hitchhike to the Mediterranean during summer vacation. And what's a summer without romance? Rather than saying nothing (as in England) or inciting celibacy (as in the States) or having a bunch of fashion and sports celebrities holding up a condom on the front cover of Paris Match (as in France), Holland decided on a more direct, sensible approach. We were treated to a special public health film on nationwide TV at prime time. Two totally nude attractive teenagers (male and female) were masturbating themselves while holding hands and kissing. The voice-over commentary explained there were other ways of achieving sexual satisfaction besides penetration. The film clip ended with their orgasms. Of course, there is very explicit non-obligatory sex education starting at primary schools.

Will the world collapse because of this? The ancient Greeks seem always to have had an extremely vague morality, though this did not prevent them from cutting a certain figure in history.

For the casual voyeur and exhibitionist, there is the centrally located Vondel Park. On a rare warm day, one can see more nudity there than in most Anglo-American sex magazines. And, in the flesh, so to speak. Personally, I go for the tableaux vivants of contrasts and innuendoes. The mother-and-daughter acts of topless 17-year old girls walking arm in arm with their equally topless delicious 40-year old mothers. One of Amsterdam's two major universities appointed a professor of transvestitism. The first in the world. Gay priests get married in Amsterdam. Same sex couples are rather ordinary among leading politicians. Even I know two men who had a "gender change" on their medical insurance. On and on...

Although over half the births are still at home, delivered by female midwives, Holland has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world. In addition, the lowest rate of unwanted teenage age pregnancy--that most essential ingredient in any version of women's rights. Britain, in contrast, has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in Europe. Abortion in Amsterdam is freely offered and easy to obtain. Yet, education and a wide range of contraceptive devices make Holland again, have the lowest amount of abortions of any western European country. In a public debate on lowering the age of sexual consent to 12 for hetero-sex, all three major political parties agreed this would eliminate victimless crime. The Dutch Labor Party complained to the government that this discriminated against homosexuals. They too should no longer be regarded as jailbait.

Just this year an important City Councilor, himself a medical doctor, was discovered accessing Internet sites for Amsterdam prostitutes as a prelude to hiring their services. Not the girls in the window in the Red Light district. Oh no. But the junkie whores and chicks-with-dicks who gathered in a place he had just voted to close. He freely admitted going to low-budget hookers, however. His wife approved. All a private matter. A fulfilling lifestyle. Nevertheless, he had to resign, but only because of reasonable mercantilism--he was using a city owned computer during office hours.

And here is an odd twist. While in other developed countries sexual freedom advocates are trying to get prostitution de-criminalized, That happened in Amsterdam two or three years ago. Now the Prostitution Information Center complains that legalization does not work. They say: The girls are reluctant to go to the Chamber of Commerce and register their business as prostitution. Moreover, those that do register don't get the advantages offered to other members of the Chamber of Commerce especially in regard to bank loans and reduced insurance.

In her opening speech to the 10th World Congress of Sexology, the Netherlands cabinet minister for Welfare, Health and Cultural Affairs had this to say. "We remain convinced," she insisted, "that the continuing openness and attention to the subject are best calculated to enable people to exploit their sexual potential and enjoy their sex lives, as well as avoiding frustration and trauma."

But there will be enough prose at this conference. There should be a place too for a poet's corner. So here goes...

"Safe Sex" is a lifestyle poem from The Ecstatic Moment: The Best of Libido. Edited and published by my friends Marianna Beck and Jack Hafferkamp, this Chicago-based "Journal of Sex & Sensibility" won the Erotic Oscar as Best Publication for 1999:

"Safe Sex"

I like it, I like it
That my wife is a little bit lesbian:
It is very droll to watch her
Go down on you
While she is still wearing her eyeglasses.
Although there are times I would Rather find something excellent to read
than have to make love to
two women, again.
"You have to be cool with women," she said.
And I prefer to be clean, then mean.
I start talking about simple things,
passionate ideas of the State
Colonel Qaddafi's The Green Book
it's surreal, situationalist notion
that ports, commerce, culture and politics
are like eating and praying
(Even sex, I would presume)
something only satisfying when
done by oneself, not a spectator
"No witnesses! No witnesses!" I scream
And start mumbling about
the relationship between
the ruler and the ruled
the continuity and
the discontinuity of history
When more sensual conjunctions are possible.
More is the pity there are no voyeurs in
The Colonel's Ideal City.

I like it, I like it
To lash your breasts with
A cat-of-nine-tails while
You masturbate with nail-bitten
fingers, my wife sitting
in a chair now, watching.
Don't you enjoy being
and sucked
and spanked
and showered?
When we see each other again
Like you be S and I'll be M
Or the other way around
Like masochism is the word atheists use
to describe bravery
Like bondage is merely an extreme
form of fondling
Like if we could only relax
there would be a revelation in every pot
there would be two revelations
in every garage
Like with a confluence of beneficial prerogatives
We shall be as the sun
Like at some point I'll have elastic
Or Bach, or something
Like I would provide the condoms
And the hashish
If you would bring your violin
And homemade black leather whip.

Another called "All" from Chick for a Day: What Would You Do If You Were One?, an anthology nominated for Best Erotic Publication in 2000. In this book a number of male writers were asked: What would you do if you suddenly woke up a woman? The editor, Fiona Giles, was kind enough in the introduction to credit The Virgin Sperm Dancer--a book I wrote over thirty years ago--as an inspiration for this volume.


The vibrator was greased
With gooey suntan oil
A pillow placed
Under my hips
Lying on my back
I hook my hands
Inside my knees
Lifted my legs.
And from New Zealand
Ever so slowly
She slipped the hard shaft
Into my anus
Which I contracted
For its whole length
She turned on the juice
I closed my eyes
Just for the moment
Melted really
this this this
transcendental oceanic
come that came
before completion
was what it was like
to be penetrated
No need to force
blood into the penis
to make it erect
just just just
move my pelvis
Thrusting herself into me
into me in to me
she fondled
an erection
While looking meaningfully
into my eyes.
It seemed like
(if you will)
being well-fucked
while having one's
clitoris massaged
When finally having
a delicious orgasm
my first thought was
This is what it feels like
to read
Henry James.

So having a vagina
For one day only
My demands would be
Not merely more
I would want
that is to say
the mysteries of menstruation
I would do the things
done by myself
women seemed to enjoy
The day would begin
with waking up
to the tickling
rasping sensation
of someone
pulling out my tampon
with their teeth

I would smear
my body with blood
I would smear the walls
with blood
Blood on my sheets again
this time mine

I would lick blood
from their body parts
I would make love
wearing a mask
of Teletubby Po
I would abandon
Go out in the street
With a coffee filter
In my twat
I would call it

Here is the blood of a poet.

[Nota Bene: At end of this poem, prick thumb with pin & smear blood on forehead]

In conclusion, ladies, gentleman and fellow radical perverts:

The only thing we can contemplate is sex; just because it cannot be grasped it is an authentic object of our contemplation.

Sex means eternal ascent, absolute transcendence, a perpetual creation beyond the limits of one's own being. Sex is an ineffable outward flight, it is something that is forever soaring out of itself, and the soaring itself is sex.

To those that don't like sex--let's say

I wish your mother felt that way!!

Thank you for giving me a few inches of your time...


William Levy won a coveted Erotic Oscar for "Writer of the Year 1998" awarded at the Sex Maniac's Ball in London. Recent books include: Impossible: The Otto Muehl Story (New York: Barany Artists, 2001) and Twin Heats: Sex & Anger in Paris (Amsterdam: Invisible Language Society, 2004.)

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