ZANE believes the subject matter of Purple Panties is the catalyst - the fact that it is an anthology made up of lesbian erotica. Ironically, many of her novels and many of the stories featured in the anthologies she has edited contain some degree of same-sex sexual content. It's the stuff she's become legendary for - advocating sexual awareness & freedom and normalizing sexual pleasure; the stuff legions of fans, both male and female, have come to appreciate. Purple Panties is meant to be a part of the feminine revolution she spearheaded some years back, not a separate entity. That's why ZANE was, at first, taken aback by the reception it received, and then appalled.
In a letter she recently posted electronically for fans worldwide, titled, "Zane's Apology for the Status of Today's World", ZANE touches on the opposition Purple Panties has received and the reasons for it. Here, in an interview with yours truly, she discusses the status of today's world in greater detail and challenges us all to more closely examine the differences between what we say and what we do.
ME: You've rightfully earned the title, "The Queen of Erotica", because your works have awakened womens' sexuality and given voice to womens' deepest erotic thoughts. What inspired you to come forward and go where no other African-American woman had ever gone before?
ZANE: It is not that I have gone where no other African-American woman has ever gone before. When I first started writing erotica in late-1997, I was surprised to discover that there was an entire underground world of Black erotica on the Internet. There had also been a few erotica collections published, such as the bestselling Erotique Noire. I only say that because I do not want to give the impression that it was a new thing, like so many try to do with the success of street novels and state that is has never been done. Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim were doing it before I was born.
ME: You've either authored or edited previous erotica novels and anthologies, and they've all been extremely well received. Your newest anthology, Purple Panties, is experiencing a slightly different, less enthusiastic reception. Why do you think that is?
ZANE: I don't think, I know that it is because of the lesbian theme. There is no way that I have gotten away with such books as Gettin' Buck Wild and APF: The Indoctrination of Soror Ride Dick and now, all of a sudden, a book is too racy. The public and my readers are extremely enthusiastic and I believe that it will be my most successful book yet. I know my market, my core demographics and, quite frankly, the book is "hot!" No way I can lose with it and the sales are pouring in. If some stores and book clubs do not want to carry the book, it is ultimately their loss. I am disappointed though. I thought that we had come a lot farther in society than we apparently have. There is still a long, long way to go.
ME: To some extent, the GLBT community still feels marginalized, despite greater visibility and movements for more societal acknowledgment. How will Purple Panties help lesbian and bisexual women feel both more comfortable in their own skin and with expressing their sexuality?
ME: Sexual oppression can and often does lead to oppression in other areas of women's lives. In helping women connect with their inner-sexuality, do you feel they're also positively confronting oppression in other areas of their lives?
ZANE: That is my entire purpose. To liberate women sexually so that it will trickle over into all the other aspects of their lives. Because of the way most women are brought up, sex is usually the area that they feel the least comfortable opening up about. If they can bridge that gap, then they can feel empowered when it comes to their careers, their parenting and everything else.
ME: It's possible gay men might feel left out, because Purple Panties features stories celebrating lesbian and bisexual women exclusively. If this is the case, can you give them any assurances that their voices are important and will be heard?
One thing is certain and that is, Purple Panties is not the first lesbian erotica anthology ever published. However, not in quite some time, if ever, has there been an anthology of its kind with as staunch a supporter as ZANE behind it. Years ago, she began her writing career with a mission to help women free themselves, sexually, professionally and personally. And if we need proof that she's accomplished her mission, we can ask any one of her millions of female fans.