Jessica Holter

Founder of the Punany Poets talks to us during her book tour and completes our 2 part series on the life of a Punany Poet. Dec.2010

Lady d…Why do you think people are surprised that in your shows you talk about awareness?

Holter…I did not realize that after 10 years it is still a surprise that The Punany Poets are dedicated to HIV / AIDS awareness and sexual health efficacy. When I conceived The Punany Project in 1995 is was just be- coming known that the virus was a problem for African Americans. As I read the infamous quote from rap- per Eric Easy E Wright, “… this thing is real and it doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone,” I got chills, and knew that I needed to create an awareness effort that would be as shocking as rap music had become. Out first effort, was a book called Punany: The Hip Ho p Psalms, replete with erotic images, poetry, prose and sexual health public services announcements. It is this book that caught the attention of HBO Real Sex producers

Lady d…What has to stand out for a poet to become a Punany Poet?

Holter… In selecting poets, I look for artists who a re multi-talented, because the performances include elements of poetry, music and dance. Sometimes, I find poets that are so gifted, they can hold their own with just words. The Punany Poets are a group, however. Punany is a brand, and The Punany Poets is a theater company. The players change to offer variety to our many repeat clients. Poets wishing to participate must become members of our non-profit AFACTA.ORG. They are also required do a live audience audition.

Lady d… What is something people don’t really think matters when you travel to different cities but is a must for you?

Holter…We are independent, backed by the fans. So it is important that people get tickets early, so we can know who and how many people we will be entertaining.

Lady d…Traveling with LOVE the poet and Freedom must be fun. What can you count on from each of them when your having a bad day on the road?

Holter… LOVE the poet and Empress Freedom are very professional. I enjoy traveling with them because they keep the stresses of traveling to a minimum.

Lady d…What are something you look forward to in the future for The Punany Poets and your way of spreading awareness?

Holter: Right now I am very focused on completing and cataloging our products, books, DVD’s and music CD’s. All of our works include insightful information on sexual health. This year I hired adult film star Sinnamon Love to join our team. She is also a registered nurse. Her connection with The Know Now Organization has allowed us to encompass on the spot volunteer HIV testing during the show. TKNO is based in Texas. They offer Rapid HIV testing, same day AIDS testing with confidential or anonymous results in just 20 min. Their website is

sed that some historically Black colleges were afraid to let us on their stages. But we have been well received at schools like The University of Colorado, Cal State Hayward and UCLA. In fact, our work has been included in some college text and student dissertations, most notably “Representing’ the Forbidden” by Raquel L. Monroe, Ph.D. Her in depth examination of The Punany Poets compared the Punany brand of theater to Theater of the Oppressed.

Lady d…What is a funny moment you had that your glad can’t happen again?

Holter…Well, it’s not so funny, but two years ago, I fell 12 feet from a loft in a theater, trying to work my own sound and hurry does to make my mark for the next scene. I will never take my feet for granted again… and I will always hire a sound man.

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