THE INTERVIEW


Bare Back Magazine: Petula, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for interviewing with
Bare Back Magazine. Can you tell our readers a little about your background?

Petula Caesar:  It’s my pleasure. Thank you for taking time to talk to me.

As for my background, I was born in Paterson, New Jersey, about 20 minutes or so from New York
City, and grew up in that area. My dad was an artist – a commercial artist back then (what you’d call
a graphic designer today), and he did a lot of drawing and painting, mostly in oils and watercolor in
his spare time. He also wrote, but only as a hobby. My mom was a housewife. They gave me a very
“traditional” childhood – ballet lessons, piano, Girl Scouts, Sunday school and church and all that
stuff. They were very active in PTA in my schools, and spoiled me rotten in many ways. I moved to
Maryland as a teenager, where I went to high school. I went to college (a bunch of them actually --
majoring in everything from English to Theology and even Computer Science at one point), and
somewhere between college and being a deejay, a bartender, a dot com employee, an event
planner and a bunch of other stuff, I became a writer.

Bare Back Magazine: How did you end up in Maryland?

Petula Caesar: My parents moved to Maryland in the late ‘70s. My grandfather lived in Baltimore
and me and my mom would visit him during my summer vacations. I remember that Baltimore was
very different from where I Paterson, which moved at a much faster pace. Baltimore was a city, but it
had more of a southern feel to it and was a bit slower, but in a good way. When my grandfather
died he left my mom the house in Baltimore, and when my dad retired we moved there. I remember
all my friends in New Jersey making fun of me because I was moving “down South”…but once I got
to Baltimore I found I liked it.

Bare Back Magazine: You've worked in Public Relations for a number of years; what made you
decide to change your career path to become a freelance writer and poet, and how did you become
an erotic writer?

Petula Caesar: Necessity made me change it to be honest. It was not a plan or a decision, in fact I’
d say it had to happen or I would have killed myself.

I’ve been writing since I was a child. I started writing erotica in college. I wanted to try to pursue
writing as a career back then, but I was afraid. I didn’t think I was good enough to be published, and
I wanted to do something practical with a steady paycheck. So I got into public relations, which I was
pretty good at, plus those jobs usually involved copy writing and copy editing, so I was still writing.
Creative writing was just my hobby, and I’d go out to spoken word poetry venues to hear the poets;
it was all just recreation. I had this very proper well paying job, cute little townhouse in the ‘burbs,
nice boyfriend, drove a minivan – but I was dying inside.

My daughter was having some problems with some bullies at her school, and I was having problems
getting the school’s administration to take my concerns seriously, so in a fit of anger I sent an essay
into my local daily paper’s editorial section (The Baltimore Sun). And they printed it; they paid me
$75 and the editor asked if I had any other stuff. And with that little success and bit of validation, I
started trying to get published. I began submitting things to publications in my area, and for the
longest time everything I submitted got accepted. (Not anymore though, I get lots of rejection
now…LOL!) It was crazy. But the more I wrote, the less focused I became on my 9-5 job. I guess
maybe I had repressed the creative side of me for so long, it wasn’t going to be held back anymore.
The PR department was downsizing where I worked, there were a lot of office politics involved, I was
on the wrong side of it all and they ended up letting me go. Once I was unemployed I had to support
myself and my children, and I had to find something to do with my life to keep from going crazy. I felt
like such a failure because I’d lost my job, and subsequently my home, my car, the boyfriend,
everything fell apart literally. So in addition to looking for work, I started writing to see if I could make
a few dollars at it. I was suicidal at that point; easily one of the lowest points in my life. Not a day
went by when I didn’t think about killing myself at least 50 times a day. I eventually got an erotica
anthology published as an e-book, I got a story accepted into Zane’s “Caramel Flava”, got some
other erotic works published here and there in anthologies and magazines. The job search dragged
on and on for a long while, but I began to get more and more freelance opportunities. Next thing I
knew, I was writing full time.

Bare Back Magazine: What else are you involved in besides writing and poetry?

Petula Caesar: Pretty much everything in my life comes back to writing in some way. I do the
creative writing thing. I am a freelance journalist for several publications, covering mostly arts and
entertainment, but I do get to do some social commentary from time to time, which I love! I regularly
contribute to my area’s alternative weekly newspaper, “The City Paper”. I just started teaching a
creative writing class. I love music passionately also; in fact I was a deejay at one time in my life and
I’d probably be pursuing music in some capacity if I hadn’t ended up writing. I am also Managing
Editor and Senior Staff writer for a publication called Mic Life Magazine (
www.myspace.
com/miclifemagazine) that covers the underground entertainment scene in my area; I help run it
alongside my good friend/Publishing Editor Fred Keene. I get to spend a lot of time with all kinds of
performance artists as I interview them for the magazine. I’ve been doing that for the past three
years, and I love it.

Bare Back Magazine: Tell our readers about your CD Eargasm. What is an eargasm and what
can our readers expect from your CD?

Petula Caesar:  An eargasm? I’m going to say that an eargasm is the way your ear feels in
response to something it hears that pleases it sexually and sensually and causes the rest of the
body to respond in the same way. So when your ear hears something that turns you on, that’s an
eargasm.

What can they expect from the CD? Well – all kinds of stuff.

All kinds of music, first of all. I didn’t stop with just one type. I have jazz, soul, house music. All the
music I love listening to. And it’s all original music. Secondly, there is erotica yes, but since erotica
does touch on love and lust and sex and feelings and even relationships sometimes, the poems are
about all those things. I say the CD is “love and lust poetry”. It defines erotica very broadly.

Bare Back Magazine: There’s a single on your CD entitled Sex Shoes; how long did it take to write
this poem and what inspired you to write the single? What does the term sex shoes represent for
you?

Petula Caesar:  It was a series of accidents (again, the story of my life!) that caused “Sex Shoes”
to come into existence, starting last year.

I was out with a friend in a store in the shoe department. The store was going out of business and
having a clearance sale. And they had these shoes on sale for $7. They were some of the sluttiest
shoes I’d ever seen, ridiculously high, bright red…I loved them. So I tried on a pair in my size. Me
and my friend joked that the only place you could possibly wear them was to bed. Now since I’m a
professional writer I was totally broke, so I didn’t buy the shoes. But the next day a box showed up
at my house; my friend had bought the shoes for me. I had an erotic spoken word poetry
performance coming up in Florida the following week and I wore the shoes onstage, and I did a little
monologue between poems about how these shoes were my “sex shoes” and how shoes could
make you feel sexy even when things like lingerie didn’t, and the women loved it! I think I even used
a few lines that eventually went into the poem. And after the show the women came up to me and
got to talking to me about their relationships with their shoes. On my way back to Maryland all that
stuff got to percolating in my head, and when I got to my house, the first thing I did was write “Sex
Shoes”, pretty much the way you hear it on the single now. Took maybe 10 minutes.

Once I decided to record “The Eargasm” and went into the studio earlier this year, I told my
producer that I wanted to record something uptempo in addition to the slow sexy stuff, and he kind
of laughed and said “okay”. So we went through my poems and we both thought this one would best
lend itself to an uptempo track and he created the music. I reworked the original poem a bit so that
the stanzas were arranged like song lyrics with a repetitive “hook”, and the rest is history.
To me, sex shoes are those outlandish shoes that you put on and suddenly you’re a goddess, you’
re a porn star in the best sense of that phrase. You’re free, you’re liberated, you’re enjoying your
sexuality and feeling good about it. Sex shoes are sexual freedom…under the right conditions of
course.

Bare Back Magazine: Lets talk about YOUR sex shoes....Do you really have a pair of sex shoes
that are 4 inch high, red patent leather, platform, stack heel, slingback with the open toe…... ???

Petula Caesar:  That is exactly what the $7 shoes I wore to Florida look like…I actually had them
on my bed next to me as I was writing the poem! In fact that is the question people most often ask
me about the song.

Bare Back Magazine: The lyrics in the singles that I've heard so far in singles such as Sex Shoes
and also Silent are VERY sexual and explicit. Are most of the songs on Eargasm just as explicit?

Petula Caesar: Not all of them are. Some are very blatant, yes, but some aren’t – there is a range
of expression on the CD. I tried to find a balance there, so that there could be some variety. All of
the tracks tend to have a bit of frankness to them, but some more so than others. For example I
have a track called “The Music Man” about a woman who develops this serious crush on this guitar
player in a band, and it’s not explicit at all, but it definitely suggests things. But everything isn’t over
the top like say “Sex Shoes” is… But I do have ‘edited’ versions of some of my more explicit tracks
because they have been getting played in some interesting places. “Sex Shoes” is real big on
internet radio across the world – I’ve heard “Sex Shoes” on German podcasts, and it gets played in
some of the clubs here where I live. I get a lot of CD sales from overseas. I hear “Sex Shoes” gets
play in several nightclubs in the UK. That’s soooo cool to me.

Bare Back Magazine: How much of what your write about comes from your own personal life verse
your imagination?

Petula Caesar: All of it is my life, but sometimes more of my imagination is involved in my
interpretation of my life than at other times if that makes sense. Not all of it is my life right now mind
you, but everything I write about has happened to me or is happening to me. I think it is very
important that my work is personal. It is the most beautiful thing about my work in my opinion, how
personal it is, how it gets close to you and looks you directly in your eye and dares you to look back
without blinking. The Eargasm is a woman talking about the most intimate part of her self and her
life honestly, without apologize or explanations or excuses. She doesn’t care what you think or what
names you call her, this is who she is right now and the beauty of it is that she knows you get it
because you’ve been where she’s been or you are where she is and just don’t say anything. When I
open up, listeners know its okay for them to do it too. And that is ultimately what I want, for people to
be more open. That doesn’t mean I want them to stop being private, because I am a very private
person myself. But in their private lives, with the person/people they trust, I want them to be open.

Bare Back Magazine: Your CD features all original music and live poetry sets. How involved were
you in the musical arrangement with the poems selected for your CD?

Petula Caesar: I was definitely involved, but I had serious help with that. I was very fortunate in that
I had a great producer named Maurice Carroll (
www.myspace.com/stinkiface) who in addition to
being excellent with music production and sound engineering AND being a musician and songwriter
and poet himself, has had a lot of experience with recording spoken word CDs as well as singers
and bands. So he was able to bring together both those elements – the music and the poetry. He
understood what needed to happen in terms of recording the spoken vocals and what needed to
happen musically. I didn’t want to hinder his creativity in my project because I always believe if you
give talented people enough room to work they’ll do their best for you. I would just basically tell him
what I felt I wanted the music to sound like for each poem, or what kind of sound musically I felt the
poem conveyed, he’d listen to the poem and we’d talk about it. He’d come up with something and we’
d collaborate from there. He pretty much was always was on target with what I wanted musically so
there wasn’t a lot for me to do. I was able to let him handle that part of it with just a little input from
me. I totally trusted his judgment.

Bare Back Magazine:  What is it about writing sexual and explicit pieces that turn you on and
furthermore even inspire you to perform them in front of an audience? Do you get an adrenaline
rush from performing in front of an audience?

Petula Caesar: What turns me on about it? When it comes to the writing, I think I most enjoy
accurately describing a feeling, or a sensation, or a situation, especially one related to sex, which
so often doesn’t get that kind of attention. I like challenges in my writing, and sex is always a
challenge to write about in a creative, honest, moving, thoughtful way. So for me the turn on in the
writing part is the challenge in it.

As far as the performance part goes, I don’t really get off on it like people might think. I don’t love
being onstage like some people do. It’s cool, but it’s not something I crave. What I enjoy about
performing is saying what people want to say, but are afraid to say. It’s so easy to get onstage and
“preach to the choir”, say things the audience will openly agree with and clap for, especially in
spoken word poetry. But that’s not for me. I want to say the unspeakable, to put out there the things
people want to hide, the feelings people won’t share. I want to start the conversations no one wants
to start. What I do enjoy about the performing is the rush I get from talking to people after the show,
getting feedback about my work. The greatest compliment I have had paid about my work is that
people, usually women, say I was in their heads. So many times women have told me I was saying
what they were thinking, that they felt like I was talking to them or about them and that means a lot
to me. Or I’ve had women come up and talk to me for hours (literally) about their feelings about
themselves sexually, saying they really had no one to talk to respectfully and intelligently about
these things. Unfortunately we still have a lot of the Madonna/whole complex in our society, and
these days especially women’s sexuality is so much more complicated and lies in so many places
between those extremes. My love in writing and performing this stuff is to explore everything
between those extremes.

Bare Back Magazine: How can our readers learn more about you and/or purchase your CD?

Petula Caesar: They can go to my MySpace page for my music which is www.myspace.
com/petulacaesar. You can hear bits and pieces of my CD there; and you can hear “Sex Shoes” in
it’s entirely. They can order my single “Sex Shoes” as a digital download from that page. “Sex
Shoes” is also on sale on CD Baby (
www.cdbaby.com/cd/petulacaesar), and on iTunes – there are
four different versions of the song on the CD single.

The entire CD “The Eargasm”, which includes “Sex Shoes”, will go on sale on CD Baby on July
12th. It will be available on iTunes about 2 weeks after that.

I also have a MySpace page for my writing pursuits –
www.myspace.com/tulalove.

Bare Back Magazine: If I were to ask you who is Petula Caesar what would you say?

Petula Caesar: “She’s that crazy chick who writes that STUFF!” LOL… But seriously, I’d say she’s
a wildly intelligent, fiercely independent, secretively sweet person. When people get to really know
me they often are surprised at how sweet and sensitive I actually am, compared to how I seem
onstage. And I’d say that Petula Caesar is a lot of fun! No matter what’s going on, if Petula is
involved it will be a lot of fun.

Bare Back Magazine: You've been a contributor to Zane's anthology Caramel Flava as well as
working as a featured performer with The Punany Poets. How did you get an opportunity to work
with Zane and also The Punany Poets?

Petula Caesar: With “Caramel Flava”, it was just a matter of submitting my story, and I was
fortunate enough to get chosen out of the many submissions she got. But since Zane is from my
area (Maryland), in my travels I met the Vice President of Marketing at her publishing company,
Strebor Books. His name is Dante Feenix, and he’s also a writer. Dante and I got acquainted a bit,
and at the time the founder of the Punany Poets, Jessica Holter was releasing her first collection of
poetry with Strebor Books. Jessica was about to do some shows and Dante was going to be doing a
short set in one of the shows. He asked me if I wanted to do a small piece during the show with him
and of course I said yes. So I went, met Jessica and it went really well, and she invited me back, and
invited me back a few more times after that to be in her show. It was truly a great opportunity and I
enjoyed the experience tremendously. I remember very well seeing her and the performers on Real
Sex on HBO, so working with her was amazing for me.

Bare Back Magazine: How would you describe your writing style? And what can readers expect
from your stories.

Petula Caesar:  Every agent that ever rejected me said my writing style was “too literary”. So I’ll
take that. I have a very literary writing style. I hear from several editors that my poetic leanings end
up in my writing, but I know how to not get carried away with my prose. But I do enjoy writing cleverly
and beautifully and with a lot of originality, so that’s the first thing readers can expect. That the
writing itself is quality, it is well thought out, well planned, and well constructed. I am a wordsmith,
and work hard to be a good one.

Secondly what readers can expect is to connect with my stories. I reach for the secret places and
shine the light on them in my writing. So I expect readers to see their secret selves in my writing.
Finally, I expect readers to think when I’m done. It may not happen right away, but I do expect what I
write to come back to them later. One thing I’ve always enjoyed in my performing that it seems like
most people who have seen me perform can remember at least a line or two from my poetry from
only hearing it once – and not just the sexually explicit stuff either. That is something I really
appreciate, because it means it stuck with them.

Bare Back Magazine: Besides writing, what do you enjoy doing on your spare time to relax?

Petula Caesar: You mean, there’s other things to do besides write? Well, I listen to music as I said,
and I just enjoy socializing with my friends. Just talking to them relaxes me. They help me not take
myself too seriously, they help me be less stressed about all this stuff, and they encourage me
when I’m down.

Bare Back Magazine: Can you tell us a little about your other upcoming projects you are currently
working on?

Petula Caesar: Well, I’m promoting this CD for the foreseeable future. I’m planning performances
everywhere I can get to. (Feel free to contact me if you’d like to book me for a live performance!)
Once this is done, I’m going to go back to writing full time I think. I have an idea for a book (non-
erotica) that’s been brewing in my head for a bit, and it may be time to release it.

Bare Back Magazine: Where do you see your career in the next five to ten years?

Petula Caesar:  Wow…I wish I knew, believe me. The publishing business is so crazy right now, I’m
not sure. It seems that to make any money in it you have to already be some kind of celebrity or
closely affiliated with someone who is celebrity – you don’t even have to be a major celebrity either!
As a writer it kills me that any half-assed celebrity with a piece of a story to tell, which may or may
not be completely true can get a five or six figure deal from a major publisher, but real writers can
barely get a $5,000 advance and most don’t get any advance at all. But I’ll keep plugging away at it.

I’d like to see Mic Life Magazine running as a successful national publication with me continuing to
assist in running it. I’d like to see “The Eargasm” considered a groundbreaking recording. I’d like my
next erotica anthology Unusual Positions become a number one bestseller and be required reading
in colleges across the nation. I want to hear “Sex Shoes” playing in a club in Los Angeles or Ibiza or
Monaco or Paris or Dubai, with me right there to see it…or better yet I’d like to be there performing
it! I’d like to be a college professor also. I’d like to be a successful working author, still even
freelancing a bit.

Somewhere in there, I’d like to try my hand at marriage I think, if I could find someone who could
deal with what I do and why. I’ve never been married, and I’d like to see if I’m any good at it. Most
people who know me don’t think I’m interested in a serious relationship. I’m not opposed to it at all,
but I’m definitely one of those “marry your best friend” type of women. I value romance and all, don’t
get me wrong, but I need friendship. Once everything else fades away in a romantic relationship,
friendship is often one of the things left to sustain it -- the joy you get from being in someone’s
company, from talking to them and just knowing they’re in your life beyond the selfishness that
being in love creates. So we’d have to be able to be best friends first. But I hope one day some man
will be brave enough to try it with me. I think I’d make a cool wife, don’t you?
Interviewed by Natasha
© July 2008
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