Archive for Other People I like
I haven't forgotten my plans to get more information about erotica out into the world. I have just been sick and also preparing for a two-week Montreal run of my show The Pretty One (get tickets here). These are two of the least sexy things in the world, plus I was still attempting to take calls, so erotica temporarily not only got pushed to the back burner but actually got poured back into the Tupperware and shelved in the fridge.
Now that I'm past the halfway mark of the Montreal show and I'm slowly getting better, I'm pulling it back out. I have the energy again, and more importantly, That Movie That Shall Not Be Named is out and the buzz remains up, about what the movie and the book MEAN about women and their desires, about the way kinky sexuality is perceived, about whether our culture is going to hell in a hand basket (it has been for the past many decades, one slickly produced snooze-fest of a movie isn't really accelerating it).
Now, I take my own peculiar joy in ripping FSOG to shit, for a number of reasons that have been very clearly articulated by other people elsewhere. But I also believe that, as a smut peddler and sex activist myself, it is part of my mandate to offer positive options, too. I don't want to take away this book—I mean, people are obviously very attracted to it, and I don't want a fight on my hands—but I want people to know what else is out there. Lately I've gotten involved in two different coalitions of erotica writers committed to the same thing. (I think the North America/UK split is what's dividing them, but I'm not entirely sure.)
The first group is Beyond50, spearheaded by veteran kink writer Laura Antoniou (whose Marketplace series I desperately want to get my hands on!). In the space of only a couple short months, this group of erotica authors and editors already pulled together an e-book compilation of samples from 50 different writers. The book is free to download in a variety of formats (disclosure: I've got a piece of Sidewalk Smut in it), which you can get to at this link. I guarantee that all the diversity and transgressiveness and just all-around WHOA that is missing from FSOG, it all wound up in this compilation. Plus there are book readings in the works and all manner of kinky shenanigans. I'm looking forward to getting more involved!
The second group I'm in got whipped up by Emily Dubberley, who is the editor of the amazing Cliterati site. It's apparently World Book Day on March 5, but she thought about staking out a little piece of that for erotica, and making it Erotic World Book Day, too. There will be a compilation of samples coming out for that celebration as well (don't know if I'm going to be in it), and cross-promotions, blog tours, readings and the like.
Now, I honestly don't think that all the combined efforts of these coalitions will ever make even a fraction of what FSOG has made—the books or the movie—either in terms of money or impact. Something about that book, something about a rich man taking over a woman's life, really appeals to a lot of women, apparently. But there must be other options out there, even if we are swimming upstream in a river of faux-kink in the service of the status quo. We writers have the talent, which means we have the responsibility, and even if it feels like a single voice speaking in the roar of a crowd, we owe it to the awesome limitless world of the human sexual imagination to put it out there.
Because we know the truth: there are way more than fifty shades of ANYTHING.
When I was working on the redesign of this blog, I knew that I needed to put more on it than just my own stories about phone sex and sidewalk smut and my weird touring life. Partly I wanted to support other creators of sex-positive art and literature, by helping to get the word out about their work, and partly I need to get myself out of my own head. I firmly believe that artists need to get inspiration from other artists, but then I looked at what I myself had read or watched recently, or who i had talked to, in a serious, perv-to-perv way, and I was like, whoa. I'm actually not walking the walk.
So I did a little outreach, with a focus on written erotica (I might do films later). I posted a few calls, pinged a few editors, got a few hits—in fact, I'm pretty sure the "unable to deliver" package that is waiting for me at the local post office is a bundle of books I requested—and got a couple of e-contributions already. Very exciting. One I read and reviewed (Sinclair Sexsmith's Sweet and Rough collection here), and one I read and… well, stewed.
I couldn't review it. Rather, I could review it, but I couldn't recommend it. It works well enough for what it is, but it's laced with fatphobia and why would I want to help push more of that out there into the world? And then I realized that I had to sit some more and think about what kinds of erotica and smut art I do want to recommend. What are some of the qualities of the things that I am most interested in covering? Here is the beginning of a list:
- Things that are not getting a lot of traction in mainstream erotica markets. This means kink and queer.
- Things that are not getting a lot of coverage even in those niche subsets, e.g. I can skip the cis-gendered male-dom/female sub genre.
- Writing that doesn't fall into clichéd tropes. There are many, but one person on my FB thread on this subject mentioned the "it turned out the stranger was my husband all along" 'twist'; another person decried overly precise details about body measurements.
- Writing that isn't bigoted around size/race/gender presentation, etc.
- Writing that doesn't wax too heavy on either protocol or equipment.
In looking at this list, I realize that I've mostly made a list of negative qualities. Dammit. Let me flip those items and make a more positive effort:
- Works that feel like a real find, both in mainstream and niche contexts.
- Evocative writing that pulls my mind in different ways.
- Writing that focuses on positive attraction.
- Work that digs into authentic, unique interpersonal connection.
(There are additional qualities, obviously, that I seek in smut/porn/erotica to consume for my own pleasure. But in looking for works to recommend, I'll be doing my best to set my own preferences on the back burner.)
The main thing I realized I don't want to be in the business of critiquing. That is not my primary aim in writing, and besides which, I do not have the time or money to write about everything that comes down the pike. Of course this means I have to figure out what to tell people when I am soliciting works to look at; something like "I can't guarantee that I'm going to write about your work, and here's why I might not." I guess I'll send 'em to this post.
More than anything I want to get better and more targeted with my suggestions when someone asks me, "So what else is out there besides Fifty Shades?" I am looking for things that I can honestly and heartily offer up.
So much is out there, of that I am sure. I can't wait to find it.
Got some recommendations? Email them to me at email@example.com
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