‘My body shall be all yours’: the startling sex letters of Joyce, Kahlo and O’Keeffe

Holly Williams in The Guardian:

2112“I did as you told me, you dirty little girl, and pulled myself off twice when I read your letter.” He might be celebrated for his epic and allusive novels, but James Joyce came straight to the point when writing to his partner, Nora Barnacle. This was the opening salvo of a letter from 1908 and is just one of scores of explicit missives he sent her.

A new stage show is celebrating such letters of desire sent by famous figures through the centuries, whether explicit or coded, erotic or romantic. Theatre-maker Rachel Mars is curating a selection to be read aloud in the performance which is part of the Hotbed “festival of sex” at Camden People’s theatre in London. These will be interspersed with anonymised modern messages: texts, tweets and dating app sexts.

If emails have done away with the fine art of correspondence, then what future is there for the sex letter compared with the instant gratification offered by a flurry of Tinder messages? There’s a certain sensuality that is surely lost when long-awaited love letters are replaced by auto-destructing Snapchat messages.

“The form of sexting is so immediate,” says Mars. “I am nostalgic for letters. There’s a craft that’s been lost in expressing some kind of desire or passion or bodily experience for someone else.”

More here.