Monthly Archives: September 2017
During my sex goddess years (somewhere between my introverted bookworm period and my semi-respectable married lady period), I delighted many lovers with my willingness to try new things. I’m not talking about dangerous stuff here, just sex in unusual circumstances. Whipped cream, for instance (the kind that comes in pressurized spray cans). A peep show booth in the seedy part of town. A blow job delivered on the ramparts of a historic Canadian castle. Another under a blanket on a Greyhound bus. Hot wax. Olives eaten out of my pussy. I was open to almost any sexual adventure, and indeed, I had many.
Those days are long gone (though they live on, thinly disguised, in my books). I’m still experimental, however, when it comes to my erotic writing. Indeed, I am constantly tempted by new themes, new sub-genres, and new markets. For example, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing some futanari fiction (even though I’ve never read any), after enjoying Sally Bend’s fantastic reviews of the subgenre. I find the mixture of female and male sexuality to be intensely arousing, so I believe I could make it work. (If I really plan to do this, though, I should probably do at least a little research!)
What else calls to me? Would you believe monster erotica? For some reason, I have this mad urge to write a BigFoot story. I suspect that fad has long since sputtered out, but I’ve never been one to be influenced by trends.
Then there’s adult incest. Talk about ignoring current events! At this very moment, booksellers are scrambling to crack down on this theme (see, for instance, Smashwords’ recent announcement), but hey, I think it could be hot. I’ve definitely read incest erotica that got my motor running. I’ve only written one such tale however (A Breed Apart), which is in any case a bit of a cop-out because the brother and sister are paranormal creatures for whom coupling between siblings is the normal practice. I’m sure I could do better (or worse . . .)
The last experimental itch I actually scratched was an impulse to write a pure stroke book. I’d been reading and enjoying Larry Archer’s lively, warm-hearted smut, and decided to try my hand at a book in the same genre – indeed, set in the same world. I expect to publish that in the next month or so. My erotic romance readers will probably be scandalized – as will the folks who enjoy my “literary” erotica.
But so be it. People probably didn’t approve of my defending my dissertation without a bra either.
I recognize that my tendency to jump all over the genre map does nothing to help my sales. My back list includes romance, suspense, steampunk, science fiction, paranormal, historical, fantasy, gay erotica, lesbian erotica, humor and of course lots of kink – M/f, F/m, F/f, M/m . . . In a world where readers crave predictability, I’m like the weather in New England.
I can’t help it, though, anymore than I could stop myself from agreeing to lick ice cream off my lover’s erection. I mean, I could force myself to choose a genre and build a brand, writing one book after another of the same basic type. But why should I? I’d be miserable. The books probably wouldn’t be much good either, especially the third or the fourth or the tenth.
In the real world, I work as a scientist/engineer. Maybe that’s why I love doing experiments. Or perhaps I’m just easily bored.
So what do you think I should write next?
Whatever it is, I’m willing to consider it.
One of the chief pleasures of writing a historical novel is discovering the details of daily life in the past so we can recreate the texture and flavor of the time. The clothing of the period is, of course, an essential focus of research to put our characters in proper attire. But because erotica writers carefully undress our characters as well, we must also learn exactly the sort of undergarments an impatient lover will encounter for full authenticity.
Most of us know about corsets, petticoats and pantalettes from historical dramas. However, mainstream movies and TV leave out one important aspect of ladies’ drawers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—they had no crotch. Indeed they were almost completely split from end to end, two free-standing leg tubes held together by little more than a waistband as you see below.
Frederick’s of Hollywood doesn’t even dare to go that far.
I first found out about this unspoken feature of female undergarments of the last two centuries when I was assembling a corset-friendly costume for a boudoir photo session a few years ago. I went to a local lace and antique clothing store called Lacis in the hope of finding a pair of old fashioned bloomers. To my delight, I found a pair in exactly my size for a reasonable price pictured in both photographs here. The open crotch was a surprise, but when I put the drawers on, the gap disappeared into a sort of short petticoat. Unless the wearer made an effort to spread the split seam, if you didn’t know, you’d never guess what did–or rather didn’t–lie within.
But of course, the women and men of the 1900s knew. I’ve read in several sources that working-class lovers rarely undressed fully when they had sex in Victorian times. Open-crotch drawers certainly support the logistics of that custom.
In An Intimate Affair: Women, Lingerie, and Sexuality, Jill Fields provides further illumination about the history and sexual politics of open-crotch underpants for women. Until the nineteenth century, women didn’t wear any sort of protective clothing between their legs, although surely there was some provision for menstruation. (In the time period I’m studying, women wore diaper-like pants lined with cotton wool or rags; disposable pads were just coming on the market). Little girls and boys, who were dressed alike in feminine fashion until about the age of five, wore closed pantalettes under shorter dresses. Boys then were “breeched” and wore knee-length britches, then long trousers at puberty. When girls were old enough to put up their hair and lower their skirts—more or less at puberty—they also started wearing open-crotch drawers.
Fields acknowledges that the split crotch made it easier to answer daily necessities for a woman swathed in layers of undergarments and long, heavy skirts. Some experts claimed exposing the female genitals to the air was healthy. However, Fields also emphasizes the symbolic value of the female version of drawers. Women were not supposed to wear trousers—Joan of Arc’s cross-dressing preferences were part of her heresy. If a woman wore closed-crotch garments, she would be veering too close to the appropriation of male privilege, and no real lady would dream of such transgression. Thus, the gap at the crotch symbolized an adult women’s physical difference, her availability to men, and, ironically to our modern sensibility, her feminine modesty.
Around the late 1910s, the world began to change. Skirts shortened. More women were employed outside the home in offices and factories. Women went on “dates” outside the home, danced the tango in public halls and cabarets, and rode bicycles. Modesty in public now required closed-crotch step-ins, more like our tap pants, duly decorated with lace and wider at the leg to distinguish them from men’s drawers. From the end of World War I until the present day, open-crotch panties, once the sign of submissive and respectable femininity, became associated with naughty eroticism instead.
Fields writes: “The sexual access open drawers provided could coexist with woman’s propriety only in the context of an ideology of female passionlessness and social structures of masculine domination. When women publicly asserted their own claims to sexual pleasure, political power, and economic independence, an open crotch was no longer respectable.” (p. 42)
By the 1920s, ladies were now allowed, even required, to experience sexual pleasure in marriage to keep their husbands from straying. While I view this as a positive development, Victorian prudery did allow some women the power to control the number of marital sexual encounters due to their spiritual delicacy, as well as a desire to limit families. Now a woman “owed” her husband regular sex and an enthusiastic response. For the middle-class at least, with their greater access to birth control such as the new latex condoms and diaphragms, intercourse had fewer consequences to fertility than earlier.
Fields even describes a comic novel (1926) and film (1937) called Topper by Thorne Smith where the plot revolves around a prudish wife’s conversion to the modern underpants of a “forward woman,” which improves her sex life with her husband but deprives her of her power as the moral arbiter of the family.
Nonetheless, it would be several decades more before the average woman dared to wear slacks rather than skirts over her closed-crotch undies. At a family reunion last fall, my 96-year-old aunt described the momentous day she wore pants for the first time in her life during an evening stroll with her husband through the neighborhood–with his express permission of course. In the 1950s in the summer, small-town families still gathered on their front porches after dinner to seek relief from the heat. My aunt’s heart was pounding with anxiety as she wondered how the neighbors’ reaction to her brazen outfit. But there were no earthquakes or riots, everyone simply nodded and wished her a good evening as they had the day before.
Some revolutions are quiet, yet significant, like the closing of the crotches on ladies’ drawers.
Reggie Jackson was asked by a reporter of my acquaintance what would have happened if a particular game-winning hit had not gone his way. It was a stupid question, asked by someone who, while he was a very decent human being, just wasn’t too bright.
Reggie’s forbearance was admirable. The hit did go his way; there was nothing else to be said.
But the reporter persisted, “but, Reggie, what if …?”
Reggie’s patience finally evaporated. “If? If don’t mean shit. If the Pilgrims had eaten a cat instead of a turkey, then we’d all have pussy for Thanksgiving!”
Reggie’s point was succinct. What’s the point of pondering what never was?
I generally adhere to Reggie’s point of view, but still, like the rest of us, I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if only history had meandered along a different course.
I was brought up in a working-class home, but I should have been a rich kid. I don’t say that in the sense of, Well, gee, I shoulda been a rich kid. I mean, I really should have been a rich kid. My father was a rich kid. Unfortunately, he was also an orphan. His mother was carried off during the 1918 influenza pandemic. His father died just a couple of years later.
His parents were wealthy. My dad’s sisters had ponies for pets.
His father and his brothers were principles in a high-end furniture manufacturing and retail business. They sold their furnishings to very discriminating, wealthy customers. After his father died, my dad became the ward of his very rich uncle, who was president of no less than three interrelated companies centered in New York City and Boston. My dad was sent off to an expensive Catholic boarding school.
But alas, his millionaire guardian was a skinflint – the kind who tossed nickels around like they were manhole covers. He used to tell of writing to his uncle for spending money because the other kids at school enjoyed sweets and going to the movies. His uncle wrote back, stating sweets were bad for his health, and watching movies in the dark was bad for his eyes.
So my dad said he needed a new suit. His uncle had him go to Brooks Brothers in Boston and order up a suit on his account. My dad got the suit, then promptly took it down to the next street corner and sold it, and that’s how he got his spending money.
Then came the Crash of ’29 and the ensuing Great Depression. My dad had inherited stocks that, while at the time had a good piece of their value knocked out of them, nevertheless recovered. The companies that issued them survived the rough times and continue today in one form or another. But his uncle persuaded him to sign them over to him during the downturn, in the belief they would rebound quickly. They didn’t rebound quick enough. His uncle died in his room at the elegant National Republican Club in midtown Manhattan, across from Bryant Park. A will was read, but creditors pounced like locusts. My parents found themselves in the midst of the Depression dead broke, except for a couple of hundred bucks.
Throughout his life, during which he worked hard as a construction laborer, my dad amused himself by tracking his lost stocks, chuckling that we’d all be rich if only he hadn’t listened to his uncle and held on to them.
Ah, what might have been.
I like to think of myself sometimes as a dissolute scion, a playboy. Sports cars and trophy chicks sunning themselves naked on my private yacht. A one-percenter, perhaps blowing scads of dough on visits to exclusive sex clubs, in pursuit of the next shocking level of debauchery. A well-heeled, licentious libertine: Let them eat cake; I’m having my cake and I’m eating her too.
Ah, but then, would money alone make my tastes any more extravagant? This is a guy who gets sweaty and uncomfortable in fancy restaurants. Not that I frequent many of those.
Nah, I’m too pedestrian, too damned catholic (yeah, with a small c). You can only spend so much money in a lifetime. I’ll be satisfied with enough to get me to the finish line.
Still, it’s fun to imagine keeping a stable of pony girls. Nah … forget I even brought that up.
ERWA Gallery Flasher Editor
I’m always intrigued by the wide variety of ideas people come up with for stories. How do they think of them?
Yes, of course there are strong similarities in many genres. Where would a billionaire erotic romance be without (a) a kinky and implausibly young billionaire, and (b) an innocent young lady with an unsuspected taste for being spanked?
And let’s face it, most romance stories are broadly similar. Boy meets girl and they overcome hassles before finding true love. Hassles might be a love rival, abduction, being involved in a war, family or cultural hostilities, misunderstandings, being separated by cruel fate, or simply not liking each other to start with. But if they met, fell in love and lived happily ever after, who’d want to read it?
I’m sure you know how the modern detective is almost required to have some personal problems, like over-fondness for drink, sex or gambling, a missing limb or a personality fault.
The classic crime thrillers actually had rules to be followed. SS Van Dine listed twenty in 1928, and Ronald Knox published ten in 1929. These are still broadly followed, for instance in the popular British “Midsomer Murders” TV series. Even though these are contemporary, they seem to be set sometime in the past, and often revolve around a rich but dysfunctional and mad family, or a village/community/club generously stuffed with slightly potty people.
But writers still need some inspiration for a story, whether it follows genre conventions or not. They need characters, events, and a story arc. Readers enjoy following the adventures as the characters experience things and develop, and hopefully feel satisfied when the story ends.
Some of my stories are probably inspired by others I’ve read or watched, even if I can’t actually remember them. But some ideas seem to come completely out of the blue, or grow from an idea for character, a phrase, or even by writing the story to suit an ending I’ve thought of. I’ve even had an idea from my local paper’s “police report” column, about which I will say no more until I’ve written it!
Many writers admit to using family, friends and acquaintances as the basis for characters. Real people are a great source of the sort of mannerisms and patterns of speech which could really bring a character to life for a reader. And thinking about how to briefly describe them in writing is an interesting exercise too.
I’ve created two characters based on real people. One was a former manager, whose literary alter-ego has an, er, colourful demise. But that’s nothing to do with our unhappy working relationship…
The other character appeared briefly in my third novella. About 20 years ago, I saw a report on my local TV news show about a second-world-war Spitfire which had just been converted to a two-seater. The team involved tracked down a delightful elderly gentleman who’d actually flown that very aircraft in the later stages of the war, and invited him to take a flight. The brief interview he gave afterwards has stuck in my mind ever since. He said it was just like it had been when he was a young man, except it didn’t smell of fear.
I’ve not thought of a story where I can really explore how I feel about his comments. Well, not yet.
If you’ve seen the film “Shakespeare In Love”, you may recall a brief scene where Shakespeare walks through London and overhears snatches of conversation, all of which are well-known from his plays. A nice idea for an amusing short scene. I don’t believe for a second that the Bard “invented” all the words which appeared for the first known time in his writing, but he had an awesome knack for putting them together in ways which still work four hundred years later.
But that’s not a bad idea, keeping your ears open and making notes before you forget.
My wife was once given directions to a conference being hosted in a museum. The phrase “turn right at the elephant” certainly stuck in her mind. And I’ve used it in one of my own flash-fiction stories, too.
I’ve used another example in a draft novella I’m working on, inspired by a real-life conversation where someone said something which all-too-easily be taken to mean that her sister’s late husband had been put down by a vet.
I noted a brief conversation a couple of years which I’d love to use, but it’s a challenging to find a suitable context. But I will. I walked past some burlesque dancers chatting during a break between performances and overheard one of them say, “He wanted her to ride in on a pony, bareback and only wearing a tangerine thong. I mean, you just can’t do it.”
Is it me?
What’s the problem with tangerine?
by Ashley Lister
succumbing, submitting, surrendering
We want this badly
We’ve looked at the traditional cinquain in the past, but I don’t recall us looking at the modern cinquain. Whilst the traditional cinquain is based on a strict syllable count, the modern cinquain is based on particular types of words, as illustrated below.
line 1 – one word (noun) a title or name of the subject
line 2 – two words (adjectives) describing the title
line 3 – three words (verbs) describing an action related to the title
line 4 – four words describing a feeling about the title, a complete sentence
line 5 – one word referring back to the title of the poem
testing, touching, teasing,
delving deeper and deeper
Remember – you’re not counting syllables with this form: only words. As always, I look forward to reading your poems in the comments below.