By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The women at the post office cringed every time they saw Ella Patterson heading their way.
The busty, energetic teacher-turned-author would arrive at West Dallas' central station lugging cartloads of her book, Will the Real Women...Please Stand Up!, packed one-by-one in red-and-white overnight envelopes.
The postal workers just saw packages. Hundreds of 'em. At one time. It could take up to an hour to process Patterson's load.
Some clerks saw her coming and ducked into the bathroom. Others chose that strategic moment to go on break. Some suggested she get a meter or have postal trucks pick up the parcels at her house.
"They were dodging me," Patterson says. "They would say 'I'm closed' at every window I'd go to."
She eventually devised a counterstrategy. She'd have her husband hide around a corner with the cart of books, and when she reached the clerk, she'd signal him to roll it out.
Finally, one woman broke down: "Well, what is it, anyway?" she asked.
Patterson walked to her car, pulled an unwrapped copy from the trunk, and handed over the book.
The cover was innocent enough--if a bit plain--with its stark design and small, color photo of a sweetly smiling Ella Patterson, who "...informs, entertains and inspires women to accept their sexuality," according to the cover blurb.
But inside were 220 pages of sexual dynamite--40 short, sharp chapters on games, toys, myths, and perils of sex--among other subjects. Each contains Patterson's frank, homespun wisdom. In a chapter entitled "Penis," Patterson concludes, "To be honest, penises aren't really good for anything, but poking sensuously in and out of you."
Another chapter prescribes a regimen of vaginal exercises to enhance the sexual experience--complete with an outrageous stunt to test your progress.
For post office ladies getting a little bored in the bedroom--or anyone else, for that matter--Patterson provides a long list of "Games You Can Play." Among many other ideas, most of which can't be printed here, Patterson recommends serving your man dinner "stark naked, with you as the dessert."
Back at the post office, another convert was born. The clerks never looked crosswise at Ella Patterson's secret parcels again.
In fact, they pored over the book during coffee breaks, passed it from woman to woman, shared favorite tips, and dropped suggestions to their men.
Soon, male workers began buying copies for their wives. Now it seems that every time Patterson stops by the post office, someone wants to buy her book.
In the post office, in beauty shops, in small bookstores, and in thousands of Dallas bedrooms, Ella Patterson's latest work is a hot topic.
And against all the established wisdom of the book-selling business, the self-published volume has attained the status of an underground best seller.
At $14.95, Will the Real Women...Please Stand Up!, a candid, thorough...well, uninhibited look at female sexuality, isn't cheap. Yet it's earned its cult following almost entirely by word of mouth. Patterson has sold more than 20,000 copies of the manual since it went on the market in August 1994, and her mailing list grows daily.
"We mail out 50 to 100 books a day, and that's just by the phone," Patterson says. "That isn't even counting my distributors."
The book has remained on the best seller list at Black Images Bookstore in Oak Cliff for several weeks, and has found buyers as far away as London.
Instead of boring expositions on anatomy or jargon-filled discussions of the latest psychological malady from which we all suffer, Patterson's book is streetwise and straightforward, containing a plethora of tips, observations, and suggestions on all aspects of sex--including "sexual hope chests" (always pack whipped cream and "assorted popsicles"--don't ask); spotting an unsensual man or "sexual dud" ("His bedroom manners will reflect his personality so watch for tacky signs"); and basic feminine hygiene ("Never, ever be caught with dirty underwear, or underwear held together by safety pins").
Patterson, 40, answers all the questions you were afraid to ask, and much more--all kinds of stuff that a limited imagination never even conceived of. The DeSoto author devotes major chapters to turning men on; she encourages the reader to give good "phone sex," "hire" her man for an evening of passion, and blindfold her lover for his titillation.
"Once you've become sensuous you will be an adored, admired, and attractive woman to all men," she promises.
Chapter 35, for instance, offers sexual techniques, exercises, and diet tips that she boasts will make sex "an event of more erotic stimulation with pulsating, earthshaking and successful adventures of love."
She is so confident she's onto something that she's included a section on Single Women's Ethics. Rule Number One: "Keep your hands, body, lips and mouth off your sister's or your best friend's man." Even though Rule Number Eight allows: "Flirt all you want quietly, it not only builds your ego, it also keeps you in practice."
The book's appeal, in part, is its plain language. Patterson doesn't shy away from using casual, even crude, language to denote different body parts and sex acts, and trains her eye on what's relevant. For example, an entire chapter devoted to The Penis.