There are way more than fifty shades of ANYTHING
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.