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Welcome to My Website, Blog and Email List!

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

Dear Friends and Art Lovers,

This sculptor has become a writer and author! See below for her proposed cover for the memoir Eros and the Artist. The theme for her writing and art-making is: "awakening to the love, sex and pleasure that permeates all of life." See below for Francie's first published short piece, a coming-of-age story when she began to learn how sex and love are joined.



Most of you are following me because of my sculpture, drawings and watercolors. Fifty years ago, as a student at the Rhode Island School of Design, I resolved to quit being a writer. I was afraid it would keep me in my intellect and distract me from learning visual thinking skills.

Having sculpted and drawn for half a century, I’ve returned to writing – mainly because now I have something to say.

So, I am enhancing my art website to include writing projects. For the past three years I’ve been working on a memoir, which will be complete in 2023.


I hope to put this 8' tall cast paper sculpture - "Red Woman" (La Mujer Roja) - on the cover of the book.

The theme of the memoir is learning to open my heart and surrender to an omnipresent, all-embracing love that has been present in my heart all along. It is opening oneself to the love and pleasure of the universal feminine that I am exploring and sharing through the website and writings. My visual art imagery also is coming into alignment with that theme.

As a welcome gift to you for joining me here, I'm offering the following short piece I read at Village Books in Bellingham, WA, for an anthology called True Stories, Volume IV. It is a juicy coming-of-age story that unfortunately I couldn't include in my memoir. Enjoy!


La Rue Monsieur-le-Prince

by Francie Allen


I was aboard the Air France jetliner on a red-eye headed for Paris, too excited to sleep. Lights were dimmed for passengers to rest, but my little overhead beam was focused on a James Baldwin book, Nobody Knows My Name. That September, 1965, I was 20 and about to begin my junior year abroad program, sponsored by Smith, the women’s college in Western Massachusetts. I’d been studying art—soaking up the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists and their bohemian lives—and I was eager to get to Paris. Having visited the city once before, I thought I knew what I was getting into.

Toward morning, as the plane’s engines droned on, too weary to read but too wired to fall asleep, I turned James Baldwin over and leaned back in my seat. On the edge of a new future, I fell into a reverie from the past.



I’d had the great fortune of growing up in an unusual community in New Hampshire during the 1950s and early ’60s. Gilford Village was nestled in the gently rolling Belknap Mountains, part of the Appalachian Chain. I lived above the village in a 200-year-old farmhouse on Mount Rowe. Just down the hill and bicycling distance from my home was Lake Winnipesaukee, a 50-mile-long body of cold, clear water with an undulating shoreline and hundreds of islands. The village of Gilford—full of graceful, pre-Revolutionary War homes—became the destination for a large group of well-educated, sophisticated, and idealistic young adults from around the eastern United States. They gravitated there with their families to pioneer a new life after World War II. Their vibrant sense of community deeply shaped my values.

My family and others in this newly expanded Yankee hamlet created a recreational outdoor club for hiking and skiing, and a well-organized Parent Teacher Association for the grade school, which soon became known as the best in the state. My parents and their friends loved to sing, dance, and—as The Gaslight Players—they wrote and staged plays to raise money for the Gilford Grade School. One of the villagers was a candy-maker who enjoyed casting wine bottle molds with green ribbon candy for breaking during the saloon fight scenes set in their comedy, The Gunmen of Goon Gulch. What an exciting time we children had sitting in the balcony of the old colonial town hall when the lights went low, or, better yet, in the front rows, scrambling to grab the pieces of broken candy bottles that hit the floor during the play’s bar fights.

How I loved to ride the rope tow on my skis up the ski club hill, and, wearing a funny costume, to ski down through an obstacle course we called “Silly Slalom.” For one of those festive ski events, my mother sewed white rabbit outfits for the whole family. That day, at age 14, I skied down through the course holding in my arms my baby sister in her rabbit costume. And how I loved to dance with the other children and their parents, my courtesy aunts and uncles, in the monthly square dances held in the Gilford Town Hall.

But the major influence on my young life was the love and connection I felt when the Gilford families attended church together, clumping down the aisles in our ski boots in winter, ready to get out on the slope right after church. In evening services during Advent, with the candles glowing, I remember hearing the music my organist and choir-director Mom played, and feeling such a deep sense of trust and security from the congregation that I melted gently into a peak experience of Oneness-With-All-That-Is.



By the time I reached puberty, my spiritual yearnings, so sweetly satiated in childhood, had begun to turn sexual. I had fantasies of Jesus as my lover. I felt ashamed of these fanciful dreams, that I could have such profane thoughts toward God. It made me think of the Eros and Psyche story from Greek mythology, where the handsome young god Eros came to make love to the human maiden Psyche at night in the dark, but never wanted her to see him. I could never reveal my lascivious visions to anyone.

As I entered junior high school I was blessed—or cursed—with a budding interest in sex. My father was beside himself with worry. At first, this confused me: I was enjoying what we teenagers called “petting,” which was exciting and pleasurable—why was my father having fits over something that felt natural and good?

In ninth grade, I fell in love, turning my little-girl world upside down, my first chance to connect deeply with another human being. Though we were overflowing with hormones and magnetically drawn to explore each other’s body, our intense connection was in the mental realm—Roger’s was the most brilliant intellect I had ever encountered. He was a voracious reader and had already acquired expertise in many subjects, his original opinions always intriguing me.

Roger’s father owned a five-and-dime in Laconia, the closest city to my village. Laconia was where we Gilford Village students went for junior and senior high school, usually excelling at the top of our classes. Roger’s family was part of a small Jewish community, one I became close to, as they formed the intellectual layer of that mill town culture.

Roger’s ambitious parents packed him off to Phillips Exeter Academy our sophomore high school year, so our intense and exploratory relationship faded away, much to the relief of our parents. Both sets were concerned about our closeness, Roger’s because they did not want a gentile daughter-in-law, and my parents because they feared Roger and I would sleep with each other. However, my parents had so frightened me about the prospect of getting pregnant and not making it to my much-longed-for college years that I avoided having intercourse.

Intercourse!

As I become conscious of my childhood musings, I jolted upright and quickly looked around the plane, wary that other passengers might have heard me thinking that word out loud. I was a proper girl, after all, and a modest one. Under my shy exterior, no one knew how sexually interested I was. My reserved demeanor accompanied an extreme self-consciousness and diffidence; I retreated into myself, lest people find a way to read the erotic thoughts. But the other passengers didn’t look overly disturbed by my racy ruminations, so I dropped into my memories again.



Throughout junior and senior high school, my father kept an eagle eye on me, terrified I might become sexually active. Several times he told me how, when he was abroad with the US Navy during World War II, he watched many officers cheat on their wives. He admonished me with his story.

“You know, Francie, I always had two rules for myself to make sure I wouldn’t end up in bed with a seductress: one was never to have a drink in a bar with a woman, and two, was never to go alone with a woman into her room.”

My mother also warned me about sex. “Francie, sex is sacred. That’s why you only engage in it with your husband, not beforehand or with anyone else.”

Although Roger was still a student at Exeter Academy, he and I found ourselves back together near the end of senior year in high school, so we were “boyfriend and girlfriend” as we headed to our freshman year of college. But soon, Roger’s insecurity and fear of whether or not he could succeed at prestigious Harvard University made him anxious and needy of my attention. My lack of social life at rural Smith College put me on the bus across Massachusetts to Cambridge to cheer him up on the weekends. He showed his neediness by trying to bully me into having intercourse with him. At 18, I was not emotionally ready.

Here I was, already two years later, and just sitting in my seat on the plane, I could feel the color draining out of my face as I remembered those difficult visits, Roger’s frightened and agonized look as he pushed me down on his narrow dorm room bed. I could still feel his weight on me, his strong arms pinning my legs, his hands groping between them, his pelvis grinding into my thighs. I lost my virginity along the way, but I didn’t know exactly when it happened. I do know I went on birth control pills that year. They had just been developed and gave women a very high dose of estrogen; they made me feel bloated and premenstrual all the time.

Roger’s and my mutual exploratory impulses that so enlivened our freshman high school year had long faded into the rote actions of two people tied together by force of habit. Although I felt sexually coerced, I succumbed to his pressure because I loved him and wanted to please him. It didn’t seem to make him any happier, though.



By the time we finished sophomore year at college, our love connection had died. I sublimated my longing and disappointment into civil rights activities and Roger found himself another girlfriend on the sly. That is, he never told me about her and I had the bad luck to find it out from his mother. Our junior year, we were each headed to different countries abroad—he, to a kibbutz in Israel, and I, to my longed-for Paris.

Mesdames et Messieurs,” came a voice from the loudspeaker. “We will be landing at l’Aéroport de Paris, Orly, in 45 minutes.”

Exhausted but excited, I prepared myself to meet Paris, the fantasy place of my dreams, where I hoped to lose my old self, my timidity and fearfulness. And sure enough, almost from the moment I left the plane, the city drew me into its arms. I could let myself be swallowed up by its great aliveness. Its oldness, its harmony of architecture, its variety of people left me breathless. I saw everywhere how Paris inspired intimacy. I walked its streets. I stared. I paraded back and forth in front of Café Les Deux Magots between six and eight in the evening, soaking in all the local characters and the elegant, fancifully dressed women. I bought myself a silk rose, a symbol of the city’s charm, the spell it was quickly putting upon me.

Finally connecting with my junior-year-abroad group, I met the assigned French family with whom I would be living for the academic year. The family turned out to be pro-Hitler, impoverished members of the old aristocracy, having lost their lands and partially surviving on the generous allowance another American student and I would be paying them to be housed and fed. I was disappointed I would be living in the 11th arrondissement on the Right Bank of the Seine River, a ritzier neighborhood near the Eiffel Tower, rather than on the romantic Left Bank. No matter: I was pleased with my camarade de chambre, Joan—my new roommate from the University of Wisconsin. She had a shiny brown bob, slim figure, and an intelligent, friendly face. She had read Marx and Dostoyevsky. She admired Che Guevara and was fascinated by the student Communists in Paris.

Shhh, don’t breathe a word about my political leanings to Madame,” Joan said, “or I will get in big trouble.”

“My lips are closed,” I reassured her.



I never tired of watching the svelte French women everywhere, with their breathtaking fashions. By October, it was getting colder. I started wearing the brown leather and fur-lined, sealskin swing coat my mother had lent me, knowing I would need something sophisticated for my year in Paris. I was not petite like these French ladies. I felt self-conscious and ungainly, cringing from embarrassment when I sometimes left a restaurant, squeezing between little tables set close together, my swing coat sweeping the wine glasses onto the floor with a crash. Oh! Could I ever be as elegant as the French women?

By then I needed boots for the winter and had planned to buy something chic and French. I began perusing the shoe store windows—all the shoes were so tiny. Finally, one day, a week later, strolling along the Right Bank and into the fashionable old Jewish quarter, Le Marais, I summoned the courage to enter a store to find my desired purchase. Feeling tentative, I carefully sat on one side of the two rows of back-to-back chairs. The saleswoman measured my feet.

“Mais, Mademoiselle!” she exclaimed, with a slight tone of annoyance. “We do not have any boots large enough for your feet.” I sat, feeling awkward and disconcerted, as the woman went to look for something that might fit.

“Excusez-moi, Mademoiselle,” came a deep, soft voice from the chair directly behind me. “But are you Danish, by any chance?”

I turned to behold a handsome black man who must have been trying on shoes himself. In French, he said, “I’m asking because I have just returned from a trip to Copenhagen. I love the Danish women. They are so strong and intelligent, so beautiful and big. They have large feet, like you, so I’m thinking, you must be Danish.”

“Er, n-n-non,” I stammered, overcome by the man’s beauty, suave, yet fresh and raw. His dark-brown skin seemed to glow with a richness I found exotic. His eyes caressed me with their tenderness and curiosity, and his smile was so radiant, it could have aroused even grandmothers from their bespectacled musings. Finally, I found my voice.

“Je suis Américaine. Americans have big feet, too, I guess.”



“Oh, I didn’t know that. I have never really seen an American up close.” His boyish enthusiasm both disarmed and charmed me.

“Well, here I am. I must be your first one.” How I loved speaking French. Normally tongue-tied, I felt free to say anything I wouldn’t dare say in my own language. He gave me a slow, wry smile as he carefully regarded me.

“Why, yes, you’re right. You are my first one.” He was obviously enjoying the way the conversation was going, and under his gaze, I flushed hot.

Ohhh, no! I groaned to myself. Why—oh why—was I born a freckle-faced, sweaty-palmed, blushing redhead? I’m sure he’s noticed! But either he hadn’t noticed my burning face and my hands dripping sweat or he was polite enough to ignore it.

The saleswoman finally found boots large enough for my feet, so we made our purchases and left the store together, still talking about the sites in Copenhagen. I had visited the city a year earlier, as it was near the home of my “Danish sister,” a young woman who had lived with our family when I was in the ninth grade. I, too, loved the Danes. Then, as we began to veer off in different directions, it was time to say goodbye, which we graciously did. I felt a tinge of sadness at not being able to spend more time with this lovely man.

On the way home, I thought more about the man in the shoe store. I didn’t even know his name or anything more about him, except that his accent was not Parisian. He spoke fluent French with an accent that seemed Spanish. How could I ever find him again in this huge city? How dumb I was not to get his phone number.

Several weeks later, on a sunny day in late October, I was again out on the streets enjoying the Parisians, this time on the Left Bank. There were throngs of people that day, bustling and jostling me on le boulevard Saint-Michel. I suddenly found myself lurching forward, pushed toward some passersby coming in the opposite direction. I stopped short. There, running into me face-to-face, was the same arresting man I had met in the shoe store.

“Oh, it’s you!” we both exclaimed together, and laughed.

“Well, I guess we were supposed to meet again,” he said. “would you like to go have a glass of wine?” Oh, absolutely I would!

In French, I told him about myself and why I was in Paris. Then, I listened to his story. His name was Pedro Urbina. Now 35, he had run away from home as an 18-year-old lad, shipping over from Venezuela to Paris. I learned he was a musician, a singer and drummer in les caves du Quartier Latin.

Then, he told me something extraordinary: that as an 18-year-old he had been taken on by a French woman 12 years his senior who had trained him in the arts of love, taught him exactly how to please a woman sexually. They had been together up until just a year or so earlier. Squirming slightly in my seat from discomfort, I ignored these revelations and moved on to other subjects.

We talked warmly with each other, and, after finishing our drinks, walked out of the café, still in conversation. I felt heady from the wine as we meandered together. I loved roaming the streets of Paris. Each street was more quaint and pleasing than the last. As we reached la rue Monsieur-le-Prince, Pedro asked casually, “would you like to come up to my room?”

His demeanor was gentle and direct, not at all pushy or manipulative. So, I agreed.

His room was several flights up in a cheap, nondescript, ancient hotel. Mounting the steep, narrow stairs with Pedro leading the way, I got a good look at him. He moved with a sensual grace I had never seen in a man. Even my father, who was famous as a fine ballroom dancer and a well-coordinated athlete, was stiff by comparison. Pedro seemed utterly alive in his body, slender and trim, over six feet tall, with an elegant stance and gestures.

At the top landing, he unlocked the door and ushered me inside to a simple, tiny, unadorned room with only a bed and dresser. It had a sink and bidet at one end. A large window above the fixtures looked out onto a light well, and I noticed other windows from rooms on the floors directly above and below.

Since there was nowhere else to sit, I sat down on the bed. Pedro joined me there, a little distance away so I could feel safe. I soon was feeling comfortable, as we chatted about his country, my country, and our beloved Paris. Then, in a gesture that suggested he was getting himself more comfortable, Pedro leaned toward me on one elbow, looking up at my face, his large, brown eyes clear and soft.

Before I knew what was happening, he deftly reached over and slipped off my panties from under my skirt. I gasped, but was too surprised to move. All the while, gazing at me, he slowly and gently took my knees and bent them, spreading my legs. He put his face down into my crotch, his mouth and nose nuzzling my pubic hair. I dropped back against the bed—stunned! No one had ever done that to me! He gently parted my labia with his tongue and began to lick me. I gasped again: I didn’t even know that a man could do that to a woman—never even heard of this before. What was he doing? I had no idea, but it felt delicious. Great shudders of delight pierced through my pelvis and shot down my legs, while pleasure tingled through my upper body, lingering around my breasts. Yet, I felt I was being naughty to allow such intimacy. I felt a flash of worry that the exploding feeling and moisture rising in my vulva must have given me a strong smell.

“Qu’est-ce que tu fais? Qu’est-ce que tu fais?” What are you doing? What are you doing? was my pleading question. He said nothing; he simply continued licking me. He didn’t seem to mind any odors coming from me, or how I was writhing about. He just methodically kept on going, like he had all the time in the world and nothing else to do. His tongue seemed to know exactly how to move on my lips and clitoris, just the right angle, pressure, and rhythm to elicit waves of ecstasy.

“Ohhh,” I sighed, over and over. I felt we were doing something wrong, yet I was helpless to change anything.

“Arrête! Arrête!” Stop! Stop! I exclaimed, moaning with delight, until my protestations finally dissolved into an orgasm wild and deep, like nothing I’d ever, ever felt before. The boundaries of my known self disintegrated. It was the most wonderful experience I had ever had.

Pedro didn’t seem in any hurry. Not until my cries and moans finally subsided into little sighs and sobs did he gently pull away, giving me a long, affectionate look. Then he settled back on the bed, leaning against the wall, pulled out a cigarette and calmly lit it.

“You know, Francie,” he said, kindly but matter-of-factly as he took a drag. “If you want to avoid being seduced, you shouldn’t go alone with a man into his room.” Ohhh, I thought, guilty but gleeful as I suddenly remembered my dad’s earnest, cautioning words. How glad I am that I did not follow my father’s advice.

I was unusually fortunate to have been initiated into sex by a masterful male lover, himself schooled by an older French woman who knew exactly how she wanted to be pleasured. I wondered about her. Was she my true mentor? Was she my role model for how to be a shining, liberated woman who knows what she wants and asks for it? It was a question that would take decades to answer.





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