Jessica Holter, aka “The Head Doctor” (Photo source: Image provided courtesy of Jessica Holter/ Holter Intellectual Property, INC )

Black erotic poetry is growing in popularity as more people of color are feeling free to express themselves sexually. The Punany Poets theater group is a prime example of this expression. Rolling out spoke with Jessica Holter, the writer, and creator of The Punany Poets.

Where did the name “The Head Doctor” come from?
“The Head Doctor” is the title of a poem. The poem is about head. Not just oral sex, but also mind sex … conversation. I aim to encourage conversation about sex, among Black people as a method of promoting sexual health. Later, to market my show, I created a character, “The Head Doctor” who is a ringmaster for intimate, interactive shows with a social health agenda.

I created The Head Doctor because I think we need to talk about sex, as a community and as couples with honest tongues. I am opening conversations over dinner in Atlanta. The plan is to film Dinner with The Head Doctor and air it on my channel at www.punanytv.com. We are going to have sexy and informative conversations, food and poetic word.

What was the creative moment that led to the development of The Punany Poets?

Creatively, I wanted to create a book that responded with raw truth, to the untimely death of Eric “Eazy-E” Wright of AIDS related illness. In Oakland, [California], where I am from, I knew a lot of musicians and rappers, so in no time Dwayne Wiggins and Lev Berlak had put together a soundtrack to my book, Punany: The Hip Hop Psalms.

Eventually, I had created an entirely new genre, an erotic picture book for adults. I had no way to sell it. So, I put shows together, to sell the book. I had a casting call for the artists who would play the first season of The Punany Poets. That was 1995. In the beginning, my project was dismissed by some as obscene, but today my sexy urban twist of Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed has been the subject of Ph.D. dissertations.

Do you think Black people embrace their sexuality? Why or Why not?

Of course, Black people embrace our sexuality. It’s a very popular and affordable pass-time that is, for the most part, controlled by the individual. There is power for the powerless in sex. This is precisely why the news of AIDS pissed me off! Sex, should not kill you, period. Sex is for good, for happiness, and for life. Sadly, Black sexuality has been manipulated, attacked and demonized for a very long time. Today we feel the effects of slavery, poverty, the emasculation of our men, the hardening of our women, the division of the family, the role of narcotic and brainwashing, mass incarceration and social disease in a way that is petrifying. Sex is gift giving, full of ego stroking and feel-good energy that feeds the soul. We know this. So yes, we embrace our sexuality, but like the larger culture around us, we have learned to disrespect sex, while at the same time needing and desiring it. It’s a real conundrum.

Data has shown that more Black women are identifying themselves as LBGTQ. What three reasons come to mind when you hear this?

I do not know. I can only guess and suggest, that men stick around more, and learn more about the clitoris; that they care enough to find it and love women enough to learn how to put it to its best purpose, indeed its only purpose, pleasure. I think somewhere inside of us, lost children of Africa there is still a desire to work as communities and villages. It seems to be in the female nature to create very close friendships, and to rely on one another. Perhaps, with men being so absent, so often, sisterhood for some is growing into something more, just as it does for men who are bound together by tragedy and incarceration. I’m not certain that the move is so much sexual. Look deeper and you will find women are raising children together, helping each other with bills and decisions that men are not present for..

There has been a lot of talk in the Black community about the down low man. But what about the down low woman in regard to lesbian experiences? Is this a myth or a double standard and why?

The down low or any kind of secrecy surrounding sexuality is rooted in fear of judgment. If you take away the judgment, you take away the lies. As far as a “down low woman,” I have never heard it put that way. If you mean women who sleep with women, behind their husband’s backs, that’s just good old-fashioned adultery if you ask me. I see people as kind of sexually fluid. When I think of “the down low” I think of sexual health and AIDS-related issues, as they pertain to women who have sex with men who have sex with men, and do not reveal it. But, I have a public school education, [laughs].

In your opinion does your current sexual partner define you for life? Why or Why not?

No. I think humans are capable of loving any other human. Religious beliefs and socio-political values aside, I think, depending on your circumstances and your options, an individual could surprise even themselves when it comes to sexual definition.

Why is it important to help, not make, your partner orgasm?

I do not know anything about this. Whoever said this, might be shirking their responsibility as a good lover. In my opinion, you can absolutely “make” someone orgasm. And you should, with ferocious determination, as often as you are able.

What can the audience expect at your show?

While it is better to come with no expectation but to rather keep an open mind, The Punany Poet’s present Sex Education Theater Shows for adults. We talk about sex, love, and relationships, in a safe supportive environment. We experience personal growth in a therapeutic, artistic night of freedom of love expression. Woven between performances of music, comedy, and dance, there are moments of PDA; love confessions, kissing competitions, massage demonstrations, foot washing, BDSM, lap-dancing … I change things up to keep it fresh. We are categorically improvisational theater, so I leave room to customize for audiences.

Who should come to your show and why?

If you are reading this, you should come, because you will have a great, unforgettable time.

How can people get tickets for your show? 

The Punany Poets tickets are online at www.punanytickets.com. Of course, we are doing a big show on Valentine’s Day in Atlanta too. But for your readers who can’t come to a show, I am very excited to be able to share videos of live shows and in studio recordings at punanytv.com. Watch the full-length film of Verbal Penetration HERE.

What would you like to say to our readers in closing?

Just that I am so happy that Atlanta has embraced me and The Punany Poets with such open arms. I am excited about opening the doors of my playhouse and sharing the art and rhymes of this divine collective of artists. Join our nonprofit at www.hipinc.org and find out how you can get involved.

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me. I appreciate it. Now you get the big piece of chicken if you come to dinner.

Mo Barnes

"Mo Betta" Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.