June 21st, 2012

Fairy Tales, Lesbians, and the Pleasure of the Unexpected

Well, I’m about two weeks late writing and posting this, but somehow that doesn’t seem surprising to me given my schedule lately. I feel I would be remiss in letting it go by (as I have other outings and subsequent planned posts in the last year…about which I also feel remiss!) without commenting on the experience, though, so late as this may seem, I am posting it now anyway!

Two weeks ago, Book Expo America took place in New York City. I did not attend due to the (for me anyway!) prohibitive cost, but a number of editors and authors that I know did. As it happened, the presence of some of them there led to the planning of a small cadre of erotica readings that week, two of which I had the pleasure of attending.

Speaking of cost, planning a trip to New York City is no small matter for me, given that a night or two there can financially impact me in a way I would often prefer not to be financially impacted. :) It was with profound and earnest gratitude that I discovered this trip that I have two magnificent, beautiful friends—whom, incidentally, I adore—in New York who are (or were this time anyway) generous enough to let me to stay with them, making a relatively leisurely trip in NYC much more doable for me. Not only that, but each of them was such a delight to stay with that I am still missing them and do not know how to express appreciation enough of their extraordinary hospitality and lovely breakfasts. :) Giant thank yous to Monday and Tuesday nights’ respective hosts SP and Tess Danesi!

Kristina Wright organized and hosted a reading that Tuesday evening for the recently released Lustfully Ever After: Fairy Tale Erotic Romance. Readers of this may be aware that I have a story in this anthology, and I was one of the authors that signed up to read at the event. Given about 15 minutes to read (an amount for which, despite all the story trimming I had to do, I still felt some concern about being able to hold the audience’s attention!), I was still cutting words, lines, paragraphs, and sections on the train ride from Tess’s place into the city Tuesday evening. :) But it appears (from the video) that I succeeded in getting a much-edited totality of my story down to (close to!) a 15-minute read time.

Other Lustfully Ever After authors in attendance to read were Michelle Augello-Page and Sacchi Green. It was, truly, an honor to share the mic with them. Not only do I love their stories, which I’d read prior to that evening, but they both read them beautifully. I went first, so I had the opportunity to enjoy their presentations devoid of attendant nervousness.

Fabulous and much-adored (by me anyway, and I am quite sure I am not alone as such) colleagues who attended the reading included not only my splendid host, Tess Danesi, but also Erobintica, Jeremy Edwards, and (Jeremy’s wife) Helia Brookes! It was sublime to see them all and spend time together after the reading at a marvelous nearby (and very chocolate-heavy) restaurant.

The next night I attended another reading (at the same place—I forgot to mention that all these readings took place at the charming and accommodating Bluestockings) hosted by Sacchi Green and D. L. King, whom I was thrilled to get to see again, having last had the opportunity last September at the Erotic Authors Association conference. I was attending this reading, of course, because 1) I was already in New York, 2) I was excited to see a number of the colleagues and readers that were planning to be there, and 3) because I like to support fellow authors and artistic endeavors when I have the chance.

The reading’s theme was lesbian erotica, with authors reading from Sacchi’s new anthology Girl Fever: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex for Lesbians and D.L. King’s The Harder She Comes: Butch/Femme Erotica. Having never felt a sexual attraction to women myself, I have not generally sought out lesbian erotica, though I have appreciated much of it in a literary sense when I have encountered it.

When D.L. King got up and read her introduction to The Harder She Comes, I found it compelling and impressive. Of course, despite my historical lack of connection with the kind of content the book comprised, I was not really surprised by this—I certainly appreciate D. L.’s articulateness, professionalism, and taste. When authors began to read their pieces, though, an expansion occurred in me I hadn’t experienced—or at least this fully appreciated—in a while.

Their readings turned me on. Not only have I not usually felt this way in the face of lesbian erotica, but one of the specific themes, “daddy” and “girl” stories, was not something it had ever occurred to me would hold any interest for me at all.

But it did. Not because my sexual inclinations necessarily shifted while I was sitting there. But because of something else, something that had occurred to me before but I had not really articulated, even to myself.

These authors (as I saw it) were speaking of arousal. They were writing about intensity, about connection, about what it was that did it for their characters in a way that subverted every consideration but that foundational, primal pull that makes us want someone, something, some experience or person or feeling or sublimeness.

That is something to which I certainly relate.

When authors talk about that, really talk about that—when that is the very thing they are writing, the place where they are, where their characters are alive—it becomes universal. That is one of the striking surprises of erotica, as far as I’m concerned: to find oneself turned on by something unexpected, connecting simply with arousal, intensity, affectedness—outside of what is actually eliciting that. The author is simply writing from/about that place of primality. What is actually going on, the literal means that are used to get there, are not the front-and-center stars. The feeling is.

Over and over I was surprised that I was turned on by a lesbian space story or a daddy and girl scene that I would never have suspected would make my breath catch the way it did. This experience, or perhaps this reminder, was one of the intangible reasons I felt so grateful that I had attended this reading. I symbolized it tangibly by buying The Harder She Comes and Girl Fever on the spot and receiving the honor of having them both signed by their editors.

Rachel Kramer Bussel (whom I had the pleasure of also seeing at Wednesday’s reading) held a reading for her brand new anthology Suite Encounters: Hotel Sex Stories at Bluestockings on Friday. I was very sorry to miss it, but I had to return home to accompany Rick Write to a minor medical procedure he was undergoing that day (he’s fine, yay!). I love hotel sex—and hotel sex stories!—and I would have loved to be there to see Erobintica and other authors read from theirs.

Overall (in case it’s not obvious), I found it a marvelous trip, and I extend many thanks to the editors, authors, publisher, audience members, and my hosts who contributed to its happening. Lastly, the beautiful and extraordinary Tess Danesi was kind enough to record my reading of “The Beast Within” Tuesday night. Here it is.



“Honey you know where the world is at, get what you want with your lucky eyes; you turn me on…”
-Oakenfold featuring Brittany Murphy “Faster Kill Pussycat”

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