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Heather Corinna: Writer, Artist, Model, Photographer, Sex Actvist & Educator, Dyke, Feminist, Erotica for Women Pioneer, Boxer and Curvy Chica Extraordinaire
The Long and the Short of It (About Heather Corinna)
in a nutshell: Heather Corinna is the queer, rabblerousing, polymath founder and editor of Scarlet Letters, Scarleteen, the All Girl Army and Femmerotic. Her sexuality work and erotica has appeared online in numerous venues, and in print in Yes Means Yes, Viscera, The Adventures of Food, Aqua Erotica, Zaftig: Well-Rounded Erotica, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica (1 & 2), The Mammoth Book of Erotic Women, Shameless: An Intimate Erotica, Giggling Into the Pillow (foreword), Issues Magazine, Penthouse and On Our Backs. She is also the author of S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College, and a contributing writer and editor for the forthcoming 2011 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Her work in sexuality information and activism has hailed accolades from Bust Magazine to the Illinois Library Association, Feministing to Playboy, and from the Utne Reader to the Kinsey Institute. Her pioneering work in sexuality on the web since 1997 spearheaded a developing trend towards a greater diversity and representation of women in erotic and sexuality work, and put the term "femmerotica" on the map. She is a sexuality educator and activist, an artist and photographer, a poet, a trained classical, jazz and folk musician, a former kindergarten teacher; a vegan, a buddhist, a boxer, and hooper, and may be too Italian for anyone's good. She currently lives on a rural island near Seattle with her partner, a scruffy old cat and a pug, and has performed the medical miracle of living for over 40 years on coffee, cigarettes and chutzpah.


extended party mix:
Heather spent the first portion of her childhood between Chicago, a van (beaded curtains and all) and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, due to her father's draft dodger status. She learned to read at twoish, and write shortly thereafter, likely out of sheer boredom. Her mother (a young Irish-American Catholic finishing nursing school, who would later become an infectious disease expert) worked, while her father (an Italian-American atheist activist well practiced in hippie subculture, who would essentially continue his life trying not to become too jaded over the world not having been changed by his efforts) barely kept a loose rein on her at home.

The motley crew moved back to the north side of Chicago several years later, her parents split, and Heather spent many years as the latchkey queen of her own kingdom, skipping from misadventure to misadventure, writing stories and singing songs, falling in love with The Rolling Stones and George Harrison, and loved school to death, though her report cards frequently said -- year after year -- "Incredibly hard worker, very intelligent, very creative. Talks too much."

It having been made poignantly clear that dance classes were no place for an overly social and coordination-compromised lass, Heather began taking music classes at a very early age, where she found (one of) her true calling(s). Her teachers in school quickly learned how not to call on her when an answer could be delivered musically -- the states and capitals often turned into a rather noisy and melodic affair when they forgot to be so cautious -- and gave up trying to teach their classes when it became clear Heather was going to run the show no matter what they did. Her family time was split between her mother's apartment with numerous wild and crazy nurses and her father's pad, with numerous wild and crazy surrogate big sisters in the guise of girlfriends. It was a bit unusual, but those nonstop girl-party years suited Heather very well, and house her best memories of childhood.

Her junior high years were a conglomeration of academic achievement, boyfriends and girlfriends, dietary experiments, cigarette-smoking, musical enlightenment, mad crushes, general delinquency, and adventure, all of which usually began each day with early morning yoga sessions with her social studies teacher. That's then nice stuff. They were also full of trauma and abuse, which she writes enough about that it's nice to focus on the nice stuff for a change.

Following a brief runaway foray in Manhattan, high school held trials and tribulations, more traumas and tragedies, and a whole lot of changes, but picked up when she brushed off her knees and began at a fledgling performing arts school, majoring in music and creative writing, and working a bizarre variety of odd jobs to pay her tuition. There she studied opera and jazz vocals, classical piano, the history of folk music, composition, and American and English literature. There she informally studied bisexuality and human anatomy, age-disparate relationships, mosh pits and underage clubbing, the recreational use of certain chemical compounds, independent living when one is not legally independent, and various and sundry other subjects which were not on the official curriculum. She also began submitting her poetry to the public, winning a few awards and scoring a few public readings.

Heather took a year off between high school and college to work for the Nuclear Weapons Freeze, sing on streetcorners, play with more chemical compounds, experiment with more forms of sexuality and relationships, raid thrift stores and dumpster dive, and figure out what the heck she was doing while saving up money for college. A year later, she entered a Socratic school in northern Illinois. There, she discovered Blake and found that erotic literature and sexuality could parade as an actual major, became the Earth Mama and resident folksinger and tarot reader of her tiny campus, went through the small pool of sexual partners available in short order, fell deeply in love, taught developmentally disabled teens and adults on the side, studied her bum off, won lots of awards that really meant nothing in the long-run, and found out that a campus of less than 40-people in the middle of nowhere awfully fast, so moved back to Chicago and commuted to school.

At the tail end of college and beyond, Heather took up work at a health food store while also working for an inner city organic sprout farm (yes, for real), and soon set into teaching. After a year of teaching in a suburban classroom that was not at all a good fit, she created her own alternative, vegetarian Kindergarten and pre-kindergarten in the city, which she ran by the skin of her teeth for several years before entering into Montessori education training. During this time, she lived with a children's book illustrator 16 years her senior, and began writing again, after several years in hiatus, finding her work kept veering towards the sexual.

After she sabotaged that relationship, ran through a few destructive (but sometimes interesting) others, tried to teach on a stipend that'd barely manage to feed a dog while moonlighting with the sprouts on weekends, got screwed over royally and ended up penniless in a basement and discovered that one cannot write all night and then work two jobs during the day, she made up her mind to shift to writing and sexuality work full-time, as well as devoting herself full-time to her two (then) fledgling sites, Scarlet Letters and Scarleteen. That decision may have been influenced by sleep deprivation, but it's one of the best ones she ever made. Viva no siesta!

The rest, as they say, is history. Since then, she's: written a book, published in a bunch of books, magazines and websites, and has talked with more teenagers than anyone she's ever met, lived in Minneapolis and Seattle, had a host of marvelous lovers and friends, some of whom have become part of her patchworked family, had her heart broken and lifted up again in the kind of cycle one does when one is fully participating in life, worked in abortion care and counseling, met an incredible number of inspiring and amazing colleagues and compatriots, traveled a good deal predicting sex education and talk about sex education to all kinds of people, helped win an important ACLU case, ridden the carousel of agony and ecstasy that is activism-as-your-living, and done a whole bunch of other stuff that even she can't keep track of most of the time.

She recently moved to a small, rural island near Seattle that's full of other oddball characters with the pug, the old cat, her piano, too many books and the person she fell so madly in love with in college. She's happy as a freaking clam most of the time and does what she can to bring her strange self, rather unusual upbringing, and fairly unorthodox views and priorities to the world in small enough doses that no one yet seems to have developed hives.

Over the years, Heather hasn't changed much. She is still the latchkey queen of her own kingdom, reads and writes incessantly, gets mad crushes, smokes too many cigarettes, plays resident Earth Mama, runs from the anal-retentive throng, often starts her day with yoga, hula-hooping or fire-building, lives for a good dumpster dive, scraps out a living doing that which is most important to her though often pays little to nothing, and is an incredibly hard worker, who is one creative little smartypants. She also still, as you have likely figured out by now, talks too much.

 

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