I was twelve, fat and hormonal. And I had seen my father’s stash of Playboy magazines sitting on the magazine shelf of my parents’ bedroom, screaming out at me to be discovered. So I snatched one and disappeared into the washroom. And there she was, staring out from a blood red coverlet that slipped off the top of her vagina revealing a neat crop of fine black hair.
She was a gorgeous black woman with a pair of firm, rounded breasts and I was utterly transfixed. I put her back on the shelf beneath India Today magazines and Stardust, exactly where I found her. But now she was my secret discovery to something unknown and forbidden.
I needed more. So I would wait for there to be no one in the room and furtively make a dash for the pile, pick her out — Julie Woodson, April 1973 — take her to the bathroom and stare, open-mouthed at her beautiful body. I was her. In my own private and strictly forbidden La La Land, I imagined what I was doing to men, as I slipped into her curvaceous body, with a shock of finely combed pubic hair peeping out from under my own red cover. I was in ecstasy. Hormones in some stratospheric state, I writhed on the bathroom floor and moaned as silently as I could. There was magic in the unknown and undiscovered.
My first exposure to raw sexuality being black in the racist country that we are, made it more forbidden and exciting.
The thrill, in fact, doubled because I was going to a Catholic school. Masturbation is a sin – our nuns had pronounced. I had just about gotten over the awkwardness of telling my mother I now knew all about sex, and she had smiled and got me a book on `Sex, Birth and Babies,’ as perhaps all good mothers should.
But that is not what I needed at twelve. I was an animal just discovering food. Blood. Meat. In the all-Catholic girls’ school, I attended there was no vent for this. Not even with my very propah school friends. Those were also the days I used to pray. So I made a pact with God each month as I stole my father’s Playboy and drooled over the naked black woman. “Dear God, I know I have the Devil in me for the things I am doing to myself. (I didn’t know the word masturbate then). I will stop after the 20th of this month. Promise.” Come 20th, and there was no stopping me. I was tormented by my Catholic spirit, and this excited me even more.
Decades later, I thought about those moments again. Was this the initiation into my life as a pervert, as me seeing myself through pejorative male eyes? No! I said to myself. No! I have since spoken with other women who feel as I do.
Salivating over the naked body of a perfectly sculpted woman isn’t just a man thing. It’s equally a woman thing. It is the very description of beauty, art, excitement and sexuality all at once. Imbued with the untrained, unread eye of a twelve-year-old in the 1980s, it is also much more than that. It is a politically risque space, non-feminist even. But it can, in the eyes and sexuality of an adult like myself become a thing in its own right.
An assertion of playfulness and self-objectification that is at times perverse, but always with you at the centre of your universe. Your pleasure. Your erotica. Your fantasies. Your positioning. Yours in every way that a woman’s sexuality must be. Fully sculpted and owned by her. The object of everyone’s fantasy and attention.
Hugh Hefner, if it wasn’t for that black woman in your magazine, I may not have been this sure of my pleasure spots and high-octane sensuality. I may not have had as raw and inextinguishable an appetite as I do. Thank you for unleashing the beast in me and many women around the world.
We shall deliver in your honour, ecstatically. A-Men!
ALSO READ: DOUBLE BURLESQUE