“By now, he was breathing so heavily. He had me hold the receiver to my ear, and an answering machine came on. It was his personal answering machine at his office. As I clutched the phone to my ear, we continued our wild embraces. We left the phone off the hook and continued our lovemaking, every moan, every word, every joyful moment, sexual expletives, cries of passion, everything recorded remotely, the entire time that he was having sex with me in the booth.”*
Well, it’s fair to say that not since Clark Kent stepped into one has a phone booth proved to be so transformative. But that’s “Susan’s Bedtime Stories” for you. The erotic memoir by Westchester resident Susan Picosa chronicles her sexual odyssey across a sea of men – police officers, jazz musicians, contractors and actors in colors ranging from cream to deep chocolate, well-endowed and not so, domestic and imported, but all willing to share one woman’s journey to reclaim her authentic sexual self.
And now that journey is going to be made into a movie or TV series by producer Lucas Foster (“Mr. & Mrs. Smith”), the result of Picosa having attended an event sponsored by Author Solutions, the parent company of a group of self-publishers. The event, “Pitch Book to Film,” drew 150 author-participants. Picosa was one of only two winners.
“I’m shocked, I’m thrilled, but I deserve it,” she says. “It’s a one-of-a-kind book.”
She is like that – a self-possessed woman with a directness and confidence that you sense is more pronounced for being hard-won. She’s also passionate and expressive, generous in her praise of others and willingness to help. (Indeed, the last line of her book is “I love you.”)
But Picosa didn’t always feel loved. Her quest for emotional and sexual fulfillment is one that may resonate with other women, particularly those of a certain vintage. Picosa is 71 and wants you to know it.
The Forest Hills native graduated from the Parsons School of Design and worked as a graphics designer. You can see her handiwork on the covers of her book, which depict a bed with a voluptuously carved headboard and rumpled sheets on the front and cascading pearls on the back. She also designed the evening coat that Elinor Burkett (the Academy Award-winning documentary “Music by Prudence”) wore to the Oscars in 2010. You may remember Burkett, who became embroiled in a lawsuit over the documentary, interrupting the acceptance speech of producer-director Roger Ross Williams in what was regarded as the “Kanye Moment” of that year.
Anyway, Picosa married, moved to a farm in Patterson in Putnam County and eventually to Bedford Hills. She had a big house and an adored and adoring son – WNBC weatherman Raphael Miranda, profiled in this issue – but she wasn’t happy.
“My 24-year marriage wasn’t fulfilling my many needs,” she says. “It wasn’t appreciating me the way I am and have become more so. I woke up and said, ‘Who am I kidding?’”
Picosa acknowledges that she never read more than three books in her life – Toni Morrison’s “Beloved,” Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet” and James McBride’s “The Color of Water” – but always wrote poetry. She began recording her thoughts and “found I have a way with words.”
While women have long used words to explore eros – Anaïs Nin, anyone? – it wasn’t until the age of the Internet, which ironically has afforded women a degree of anonymity, that they have felt comfortable to do so in large numbers, particularly on websites devoted to fan fiction inspired by romantic fantasies of movie stars, athletes and TV series. “Fifty Shades of Grey” began online as “Twilight” fan fiction.
In “Susan’s Bedtime Stories,” the names of lovers and places have been changed to protect the passionate. Picosa itself is a nom de plume. And while Picosa’s family and close friends are proud of her book – before she died at age 95, her mother pronounced the memoir “a winner” – there are friends and lovers who are not pleased.
“It might’ve tapped into things they were going through,” she says. “Some didn’t have the courage to acknowledge that they were living a lie.”
Picosa is all about that courage. She makes no bones about enjoying her age, her Rubenesque figure and sex with many men – though she stresses that you should always practice safe sex.
Generally, her partners are younger men, belying the notion that after a certain age it’s all over for a woman sexually or that men aren’t attracted to older women.
She finds the younger man appealing, because “he hasn’t been there and done that. He acknowledges that you’ve made a difference in his life and helped him grow. For me, they see me as a nurturer and a guide but also, they’re more concerned with me as a woman. They appreciate that I care … that I’m playful and sensuous with good legs and easy to talk to.
“I think things are changing for men and women and that women are finding that freedom matters, being true to yourself,” she adds. “If you can’t be true to yourself, who can you be true to?”
*Excerpt from Susan Picosa’s “Susan’s Bedtime Stories” (iUniverse Inc.) Available at amazon.com. For more, visit susansbedtimestories.com.