Kristen Sollee, also known as Kristen Korvette, is a journalist, curator, and educator who teaches undergraduate gender studies courses at The New School. She is founding editrix of the sex positive feminist website, Slutist, and also produces the annual Legacy of the Witch music and burlesque festival. In addition to the above, Kristen is also someone who we at New Jack Witch have been proud to call friend over the years. When I found out she was writing a new book on witchcraft and sex-positive feminism, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I was honored to be one among a group of amazing women interviewed for the book and was lucky enough to get an advance copy.
According to her site, “Witches, Sluts, Feminists addresses and illuminates contemporary conversations about reproductive rights, sexual pleasure, queer identity, pornography, sex work, and more” and Kristen does so with wit, humor, and brilliance. Needless to say, I think the book is fantastic and a must-read for contemporary feminists and witches. I recently had the chance to ask her some questions about the book, witchcraft, as well as the Legacy Of The Witch Festival.
What is your background with witchcraft?
Everything I know about magic I learned from my mother. An intuitive with the gift of second sight, she taught me about the power of meditation and manifestation, and how to listen to the natural world for clues about the present and the future. Because she never used the word “witch” or “witchcraft” when I was growing up, I never really associated what she taught me with the practices that, say, my Wiccan or occulty friends were doing. I just thought it was normal stuff moms taught their kids. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I even went into a real witch shop (Enchantments in NYC) and started to learn about more codified witchcraft traditions.
When did you become interested in witchcraft from an academic perspective? What’s it like teaching a class about witchcraft?
Well to be fair, my course is really about the feminist lineage of the witch archetype—more a sociological take on the witch than a spiritual one—although I do have guest lecturers come in and demonstrate rituals for the students. As to how I got into it, honestly it was quite uncanny the way it happened. I never planned to teach a class like it. I have always been interested in the interplay between gender and sexuality in art as a journalist, then ended up teaching a 4th wave feminism course, and this class sprang up soon after from all my interests coalescing at the right time and place. I feel really lucky to get to share the stories of so many magical folks from years past with college students and reveal the connective tissue that binds us to them.
In your book you draw a number of parallels between the archetypal witch and slut. How are they similar? How are they different?
Archetypes of witch and slut have historically been used to punish women and police female sexuality, and they both have been reclaimed as empowering identities. To me, these terms name that untamed wildness feminine folks possess—which scares the hell out of the patriarchal powers that be. While the archetypal witch can be so many things that transcend the physical, the archetypal slut is arguably very much grounded in flesh. But, then again, the slut does have some transcendental aspects to her. Yes, the witch is part of a lineage of occult practices and the slut isn’t—but BDSM and kink and even your everyday self-love sessions are practices that can be equally spiritual and metaphysical, right?
What was one of the most bizarre or shocking things you discovered researching the book?
I learned the term for Satanic analingus! It’s “osculum infame.”
The festival you founded, Legacy Of The Witch, is coming up on it’s third year. Can you tell us about it and how it got started?
My desire to put on Legacy of the Witch stemmed from a decade of worshipping at the altar of parties and pleasure in NYC (Wierd, Motherfucker, Albion etc.) I knew so many performers who identified as both witches and sluts, and I wanted to embrace the darker side of femininity in festival form. Once the Saint Vitus crew generously opened up their spot to me, it seamlessly came together in 2015 and we’ve been going strong since.
Where can people purchase your book? Where can they learn more about you?
The book is on Amazon, but if you want to get it signed with some extra witchy swag from me it’s at: www.witchesslutsfeminists.com. I’m also on IG as KristenKorvette.
The third annual Legacy Of The Witch Festival, which will also serve as a book release party, will be held Saturday, June 3rd 2017 at Saint Vitus bar in Brooklyn, NY. Tickets available here.