Writhing Monsters

by | April 21, 2012 | General | 15 comments

By Lisabet Sarai

I consider myself an equal-opportunity pornographer. I’m convinced that almost anything can be erotic, in the right context. During my decade as a published author, I’ve written stories from almost every gender perspective and sexual orientation. Obviously, there are certain stimuli and situations that push my personal buttons, but in my lifelong quest to comprehend and capture the essence of desire, I’m willing to consider the strangest of fetishes as possible inspirations. In my commissioned work for Custom Erotica Source, in particular (which I discussed a few months ago), I’ve been asked to eroticize scenarios that would not have originally struck me as sexually-charged. My own reactions as well as those of my clients suggest that I succeeded, at least to some extent.

In the last few days, though, I’ve stepped into new sexual territory, for me at least. I just penned my first tentacle porn story, in response to Nobilis Reed’s call for his charitable anthology Coming Together: Arm in Arm in Arm.

What’s tentacle porn? Just ask Wikipedia. Tentacle erotica originated in Japan, more than two centuries ago. The genre imagines the experiences of a human (usually a woman) sexually penetrated by a tentacled creature such as an octopus, squid, worm or extraterrestrial. Sometimes, though not always, tentacle porn stories include a non-consensual or horror element. Tentacle-sex was imported from Japan into American B-grade monster movies. In these lurid films, the victim often died, not from being rent asunder by the invading appendages of the horrific creature perpetrating the tentacle-fuck, but from the violence of her orgasm in response to the obscene pleasure. 

My tentacle story, Fleshpot, has a male protagonist and takes place in modern times, though there are suggestions that his tentacled partner is of ancient and mysterious origin. True to the genre, the main character is both aroused and horrified by the tentacles that ensnare him and insinuate themselves into his various orifices. A jaded sex addict, he’s seeking new experiences in the exotic Orient. He gets more than he bargained for.

Why am I sharing all this with you? Well, for one thing, I’m pretty happy with my story. It’s atmospheric, dark and sexy, a little bit shocking (maybe more than a little, for some readers), and very perverse. I don’t know if Nobilis will accept it, but I love the notion of dedicating my dirtiest dreams to charity. 

I also feel a special thrill because tentacle porn is so far beyond the pale of “acceptable” erotica. With elements of both non-consensuality and bestiality, it happily breaks the rules of most publishers. In fact, Nobilis produced an earlier collection of tentacle erotica, entitled Tentacle Dreams. Alas, this book was published by the recently closed Republica Press, one of the few book mongers brave enough (along with Freaky Fountain, also unfortunately closed) to take on erotica that deliberately violates taboos. I hope he finds another publisher, because I’d dearly love to read the anthology. 

So writing this story, although great fun, was also a political act. I refuse to allow anyone else to tell me what I should find arousing. And although I hadn’t previously considered tentacle sex to be among my personal kinks, I’ve decided I wouldn’t necessarily kick an octopus out of bed. 

I love Alessia Brio’s courage in being willing to bring this volume into the world. Not that I’m surprised. She has as little patience with censorship as I do – maybe less. The Coming Together Tabooty series, which was born out of frustration with Amazon’s ill-founded attack on incest and pseudo-incest titles, includes seriously sexy stories nobody else will publish, and – surprise, surprise – sales are brisk. And every time someone gets off on one of our taboo tales, a bit of cash goes to the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, an organization that fights for the right of consenting adults to have whatever kind of sex they want.

So authors – if you want to strike a blow for sexual freedom while contributing to ocean conservation – if you’re curious as to whether you might find tentacles sexy – if you want to explore just how much you can make your characters squirm – you might consider writing a story for Nobilis’ collection.

I said that this tale was my first tentacle porn attempt, but I realized while reading Wikipedia that my H.P. Lovecraft parody “The Shadow over Desmoines” also features writhing appendages invading unsuspecting orifices. Indeed, Lovecraft is strongly associated with western tentacle erotica, though I doubt he was familiar with the Japanese origins of the genre. If you feel the urge to indulge in some tentacled eroticism, over the top but still, I think, arousing, check the story out.

Lisabet Sarai

Sex and writing. I think I've always been fascinated by both. Freud was right. I definitely remember feelings that I now recognize as sexual, long before I reached puberty. I was horny before I knew what that meant. My teens and twenties I spent in a hormone-induced haze, perpetually "in love" with someone (sometimes more than one someone). I still recall the moment of enlightenment, in high school, when I realized that I could say "yes" to sexual exploration, even though society told me to say no. Despite being a shy egghead with world-class myopia who thought she was fat, I had managed to accumulate a pretty wide range of sexual experience by the time I got married. And I'm happy to report that, thanks to my husband's open mind and naughty imagination, my sexual adventures didn't end at that point! Meanwhile, I was born writing. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, though according to family apocrypha, I was talking at six months. Certainly, I started writing as soon as I learned how to form the letters. I penned my first poem when I was seven. While I was in elementary school I wrote more poetry, stories, at least two plays (one about the Beatles and one about the Goldwater-Johnson presidential contest, believe it or not), and a survival manual for Martians (really). I continued to write my way through high school, college, and grad school, mostly angst-ridden poems about love and desire, although I also remember working on a ghost story/romance novel (wish I could find that now). I've written song lyrics, meeting minutes, marketing copy, software manuals, research reports, a cookbook, a self-help book, and a five hundred page dissertation. For years, I wrote erotic stories and kinky fantasies for myself and for lovers' entertainment. I never considered trying to publish my work until I picked up a copy of Portia da Costa's Black Lace classic Gemini Heat while sojourning in Istanbul. My first reaction was "Wow!". It was possibly the most arousing thing I'd ever read, intelligent, articulate, diverse and wonderfully transgressive. My second reaction was, "I'll bet I could write a book like that." I wrote the first three chapters of Raw Silk and submitted a proposal to Black Lace, almost on a lark. I was astonished when they accepted it. The book was published in April 1999, and all at once, I was an official erotic author. A lot has changed since my Black Lace days. But I still get a thrill from writing erotica. It's a never-ending challenge, trying to capture the emotional complexities of a sexual encounter. I'm far less interested in what happens to my characters' bodies than in what goes on in their heads.


  1. Raziel Moore

    Ah, Lisabet, A subject near and dear to my squidgy heart. I was one of the authors on the ill fated Tentacle Dreams, and hopefully will be able to worm my way into Arm in Arm in Arm as well. Tentacles have an incredible raw transgressive erotic source code. Alienness, otherness, insinuation, entangling, and more. What's not to love about them?

  2. t'Sade

    Okay, I'm very glad you pointed this one out to me. I'm very fond of tentacle stories and romantic ones at that.

    Tentacles are definitely an interesting turn-on for some people. The history behind it is interesting because it was added for one thing (to get around censors) and ended up taking a life of its own.

  3. Zenobia Renquist

    Woohoo! It's catching on. We should start a tentacle romance writers group. 😀

    Though my tentacle monster is more of a Japanese demon/monster variety than octopus/squid.

    ~ Zenobia Renquist

  4. t'Sade

    I usually lean more toward the fantasy/sci-fi adventure genres, but I like the interplay and romance of something not quite human. Plus… the combination of bondage (being held entirely up and wrapped up) plus the general orifice stuffing is just a turn-on. 😛

  5. Harper Eliot (formerly Lady Grinning Soul)

    Lord, I learnt a lot reading that. Thank you so much for writing this and for alerting readers to so many different aspects of writing erotica and of sexual freedom and of publishing and editing and and and…

    Superb piece. And perhaps inspiring too…

  6. Donna

    I read somewhere that Anais Nin's quick glimpse of the famous Japanese print at the top of your post almost gave the movie "Henry and June" an X rating, whereas all the sex scenes were fine. Please. It is strange how the imagination is seen as so terribly dangerous when it comes to sex, and not so with other things like violence or religion. But the Come Together projects show that the sexual imagination can be translated into real action in many positive ways besides reenacting the story in bed!

  7. Lisabet Sarai

    Hi, Raz,

    Yes – I do hope Tentacle Dreams finds another publisher.

    Have you read Polly Frost's DEEP INSIDE? Some amazing tentacle tales there!

  8. Lisabet Sarai

    Hi, T'Sade,

    Tentacles were added to get AROUND censors? You mean, because they're not genitalia, they're considered to be okay?

    Interesting take. I don't know whether you're right or not. However, Wikipedia has some fascinating tidbits about censorship of some of the B-movie tentacle scenes – not because they were too graphic from a horror perspective but because they were too sexy.

  9. Lisabet Sarai

    Hi, Zenobia,

    Tentacle romance? Okay, I'll bite!

    Are you submitting to Nobilis' antho?

  10. Lisabet Sarai

    Oh, and I hadn't thought about the bondage aspect of tentacle porn's appeal, but that's a definite factor, t'Sade.

  11. Lisabet Sarai

    Greetings, Harper,

    If you're inspired to offer a contribution to the anthology, I'm delighted!

  12. Lisabet Sarai

    Hello, Donna,

    I don't know if I believe that story about the Japanese print, though anything's possible. C. Sanchez-Garcia wrote me a few days ago that this print has appeared in the background on a TV show (I can't remember which one).

  13. Remittance Girl

    Oh, I LOVE your Shadow Over Desmoines tale. Wonderful, wonderful homage to Lovecraft, and hot too!

  14. Lisabet Sarai

    Hi, RG,

    Hadn't you read this before? I wrote it years ago – in response to a Storytime theme of "parody"! (I do like it though…)

  15. Craig Sorensen

    I am definitely one for pushing the limits sometimes; I've had a few stories rejected for pushing buttons.

    But I'm not sure I'm ready to pen tentacle erotica yet. Still, who knows what beasts might pop out of my head in the coming months!

    I like the idea behind your story, and I hope it makes it into the collection.

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