Eroticon, Part 3

by | March 31, 2018 | General

by Jean Roberta

Afternoon on Saturday, March 17, at EROTICON: Annabelle Knight, author of The Endless Autumn (with some television experience on Channel 5 in the UK), discussed erotica, and more specifically, erotic romance, as a genre of fiction that sells very well, but which critics disparage and few readers will openly admit to liking — as distinct from readers who openly read mysteries on the beach or on public transportation.

This talk was given in a large, packed room. Unfortunately, the speaker’s voice didn’t carry well, and she stood near a pillar. Giving talks to large audiences in large rooms is clearly different from performing for the camera.

At the same time, Miss Eve E was discussing disability and sex work in another conference room, but Mirtha and I couldn’t be everywhere at once. (Next time, we might split up, then compare notes later.)

AND there was a demonstration of vac play going on, followed by Kayla Lords on a podcasting panel.

At 2:30, Emmeline Peaches gave a talk called “Cracking the Whip? Different Approaches to Sex Toy Activism.” What does sex toy activism look like?

Alas, I never found out because we went to a workshop named “Self-Editing Tips and Tricks” by Anna Sky, with whom I had exchanged some emails about the anthology, Truth. She is “the brains behind” two presses: Sexy Little Pages, and Resonance Press. The editor of the anthology, Zak Jane Keir, was there, wearing a toque that labelled her a “DOXY” (the name of a sex toy company) in large letters. The speaker discussed some of the common mistakes made by fledgling writers of sexually explicit work (independent body parts, impossible actions, etc.)

I had brought along three handouts that I had used when I co-led a workshop on grammar for sex-writers with Shar Azade at the first annual conference of the Erotic Authors Association in Las Vegas in 2011. I offered them to Anna Sky after her talk, in case the material might be useful to her. Mirtha was amused by the passion that editors/English teachers/grammar nazis bring to the subject.

Later, there were more “Kinklab” demonstrations, but Mirtha and I felt the need for some rest in our hotel room before the Saturday night social event.

Beginning at 7:30, all the attendees were invited to a pub in NW1, The Edinboro Castle, where we had our own section. The place was packed and noisy (not really our scene), but we were able to order food there. We both had fish and chips, and the food was excellent.

Even though it’s possible to buy “fresh” seafood in Saskatchewan (flown in from a faraway ocean), there is something distinct about the taste of seafood in Britain. It was as amazing as I remembered.

Apparently the original plan was that the crowd from Eroticon could circulate in and out of the pub and the enclosed outdoor space, but the cold weather discouraged that.

We noticed a woman across the table from us sitting perfectly still, and then we saw why. A young woman standing nearby was busily using scissors on black paper to make a silhouette of her model. Silhouette-making is a Victorian art-form that the artist, Alison Russell, learned from her late grandmother, a painter and silhouette-maker for over fifty years. Mirtha and I were impressed by the results, and we asked Alison to make our silhouettes. We learned that she didn’t need to be paid because she had been hired for the event. (For examples of her work, see my silhouette below or check out her website:

A company named Eropartner was giving out free drink tickets and displaying “Zumio” sex toys which could be won, but there was such a crowd around their table that we couldn’t get close.

I drank Guinness all evening, but I didn’t hear a word about St. Patrick’s Day, and the few attendees wearing green didn’t seem to be doing it for any particular reason.

I found the women’s loo clean and quiet, but when Mirtha went in there after me, she came out looking annoyed. She told me that three women had been fighting over a man in there, and she didn’t stay long enough to find out who won. I had somewhat expected to encounter some alcohol-fuelled English vs. Irish hostility, but instead, sexual competition was apparently the trigger of the evening.

We old women were relieved to go home to bed.


Jean Roberta

Jean Roberta once promised her parents not to use their unusual family name for her queer and erotic writing, and thus was born her thin-disguise pen name. She teaches English and Creative Writing in a university on the Canadian prairies, where the vastness of land and sky encourage daydreaming. Jean immigrated to Canada from the United States as a teenager with her family. In her last year of high school, she won a major award in a national student writing contest. In 1988, a one-woman publisher in Montreal published a book of Jean’s lesbian stories, Secrets of the Invisible World. When the publisher went out of business, the book went out of print. In the same year, Jean attended the Third International Feminist Book Fair in Montreal, where she read a call-for-submissions for erotic lesbian stories. She wrote three, sent them off, and got a letter saying that all three were accepted. Then the publisher went out of business. In 1998, Jean and her partner acquired their first computer. Jean looked for writers’ groups and found the Erotic Readers & Writers Association, which was then two years old! She began writing erotica in every flavor she could think of (f/f, m/f, m/m, f/f/m, etc) and in various genres (realistic contemporary, fantasy, historical). Her stories have appeared in anthology series such as Best Lesbian Erotica (2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, Volume 1 in new series, 2016), Best Lesbian Romance (2014), and Best Women's Erotica (2000, 2003, 2005, 2006) from Cleis Press, as well as many others. Her single-author books include Obsession (Renaissance, Sizzler Editions), an erotic story collection, The Princess and the Outlaw: Tales of the Torrid Past (Lethe Press), and The Flight of the Black Swan: A Bawdy Novella (Lethe, also in audio). Fantasy stories by Jean include “Lunacy” in Journey to the Center of Desire (erotic stories based on the work of Jules Verne) from Circlet Press 2017, “Green Spectacles and Rosy Cheeks” (steampunk erotica) in Valves & Vixens 3 (House of Erotica, UK, 2016), and “Under the Sign of the Dragon” (story about the conception of King Arthur) in Nights of the Round Table: Arthurian Erotica (Circlet 2015). This story is now available from eXcessica ( Her horror story, “Roots,” first published in Monsters from Torquere Press, is now in the Treasure Gallery of the Erotic Readers and Writers Association. With Lethe Press publisher Steve Berman, she coedited Heiresses of Russ 2015 (Lethe), an annual anthology of the year’s best lesbian speculative fiction. Her realistic erotic novel, Prairie Gothic: A Tale of the Old Millennium, was published by Lethe in September 2021. Jean has written many reviews and blog posts. Her former columns include “Sex Is All Metaphors” (based on a line in a poem by Dylan Thomas) for the Erotic Readers and Writers Association, July 2008-November 2010. The 25 column pieces can still be found in the on-site archives and in an e-book from Coming Together, Jean married her long-term partner, Mirtha Rivera, on October 30, 2010. Links:


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