All About Pleasure


I do not remember getting The Talk when I was younger. Now, I don’t know if this is because I was sick that day, it was so traumatic that my mind simply blocked it out (which is entirely possible). But since I never received a discussion on the birds and the bees, my actual education had to come through more extra-curricular activities.

Now, way back when, porn was not as readily available as it is these days. I am old enough to remember trying to watch it on scrambled, late-night cable TV channels (‘Wait, is that a boob…or is that’s someone face?’) I also remember rushing to the mailbox after school to try and save the flyers or catalogs that would randomly arrive before my parents found them. Said flyers would advertise everything from the latest videos to toys to phone sex lines and the ever popular ‘massage parlors.’ So it was through these pilfered periodicals, and the videos I eventually borrowed from friends, that I came to learn about condoms, positions, the actual mechanics of sex, and at least some idea of how to please a partner. Porn is where I learned what I liked and what I was curious about. It also gave me damn good indicators as to how broad my sexuality truly was.

But please don’t misunderstand, I am in no way advocating for porn. I will absolutely take porn to task for a host of issues. It has real problems with how it depicts consent. It has a long history of creating unhealthy body images, it has a deep-seated issue with race and how it treats LGBTQ content. There are well-established, completely valid problems with porn.

But I also think that we can’t have a real conversation about porn without also discussing the state of sex education in this country, which is severely lacking.

I think most people who’ve had The Talk, whether it’s with their parents or a teacher at school, will tell you that it was an extremely awkward (some would even say traumatic) experience and when it was over, everyone was just glad to be done. This is because The Talk, when it happens at all, tends to be less about informing people and more about scaring them through dry biological facts about menstruation, pregnancy and STIs. The worst part about all of this is that once The Talk is done, there’s no follow-up. Most parents will look at their kids and say, ‘You had The Talk, I bought you that book, never speak to me about this again.

If there is one thing I know, it’s that presentation is not education. Telling someone about something one time doesn’t prepare them for anything. For it is a universal truth, divinely writ, that children are curious and teenagers are horny, so all of the warnings in the world won’t stop them from seeking out the forbidden any more than it stopped us when we were coming up. And this is before we get to the problems that abstinence training presents.

Every metric known to man shows that abstinence training doesn’t work. Neither do purity rings or those creepy purity balls where teenage girls promise themselves to their fathers until they get married. In fact, all of these events only end up having the exact opposite effect of their desired intentions. For it is another universal truth, though less divinely writ, that between the islands of ‘No Answer’ and ‘A Skewed Answer,’ there lies an ocean’s worth of trouble.

Porn may be extremely problematic but leaving kids with no guidebook at all is just as bad. So if there really is no good reason why we shouldn’t be talking sex, then that begs the question of what actually talking about sex should look like.

To that end, I think I have an idea. In the film The Girl Next Door (2004), a former porn star and her boyfriend create a modern sexual education film, one that doesn’t try to scare viewers or bore them into disinterest, but also doesn’t sugarcoat the realities of sex. Now, this film within a film went on to make millions but in the eighteen years since The Girl Next Door’s release (God, I’m old) I can’t help but want to expand upon the idea.

Instead of just one film, why can’t we have a series of comprehensive, readily accessible tutorials? Miniature guidebooks, broken down by topic and expanded upon by people who actually know what they’re doing when it comes to sex (therapists, sex workers, adult film actors and actresses, etc.). Information sessions that cover pregnancy and STIs but also talk about masturbation and sex positions (which ones are actually fun and which ones are just for show).  What if we had lessons which covered the range of genders and a helpline for those questioning their sexuality? What if we had a recurring segment where we rate sex toys the same way that America’s Test Kitchen tests out spatulas?

It’s a radical idea, I know, and you can call me crazy all you want, but hear me out all the same.

Because if the numbers of teenage pregnancies and STIs are any indication, it’s that our country is in desperate need of a comprehensive sex education program. One that isn’t a one-and-done but is something kids can look to if they have questions and return to again and again as they, and their sexualities, inevitably change. For when it comes to our own history, and the state of our kid’s futures, I think we can all agree that we’ve been drifting between the islands for far too long.

Does Size Matter? The Final Showdown (According to One Man)

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Does size matter? It’s a question which has stumped philosophers, philanderers, and horn-balls for centuries. Historically, there’s been very little middle ground involved in the debate. People tend to break down into one of two camps. Those who say it doesn’t matter at all, and those who stridently shout that it matters a whole bunch, while pointedly shaking their heads at those in the first camp.

Even the very question itself is brimming with anxiety (at least, for men) because along with the question comes the implication that we’re afraid we won’t measure up. Personally, I have never known a man who hasn’t broken out a ruler at some point in his life. But while this may be one man’s opinion (and it totally is), one thing I’ve learned after years of listening to both camps, is that the real answer to this age old question lies somewhere in the middle.

Does size really matter? Answer: It depends on the person.

It may seem odd to consider this, but one of the greatest determining factor which often gets overlooked when it comes to the measure of a man, is the measure of a woman. Because just as every man’s endowment is as unique as his fingerprints, so too is a woman’s.

Some women (and it should go without saying that I am speaking of straight women here, but there is always someone who thinks lesbians are nothing but cold fish who never had their ashes hauled properly) would absolutely love to have a man with a shlong like a Pringles can. Others would run a mile rather than go near him because it would hurt too much.

Unfortunately for many of us, this debate has long been one-sided because our culture is obsessed with size. It influences everything from the cars we drive to the drinks we order, to how we feel when we look in the mirror. It is an obsession which is especially entrenched in porn, which does absolutely nothing to resolve the matter.

Now, please don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against porn. Porn is fantasy, pure and simple, and one of the most prominent fantasies is the idea that all a well-endowed man needs to do is drop his pants to make every woman within drooling distance say, “Oh, I must touch it.”

But it is the prevalence of this fantasy, and our own inability to distinguish it from reality, which drives so many men to send unsolicited dick pics, getting them into far more trouble than they are capable of dealing with.

We rarely, if ever, discuss penis size when it comes to body image, but the fact remains that having an unhealthy image of ourselves is detrimental to our way of life. There is no cream, device or (God help me) One Weird Trick pop-up ad which can permanently adjust the human anatomy. Whether we like it or not, our body is our body, and there is only so much we can do with it.

So if there is one lesson we can take away from all of this, it is that we need to be focusing less on size and more on skill, because just as there is only a small percentage of women who are capable of climaxing from vaginal sex alone (25%), I’d imagine that there is an equally small number of women who would be happy if you did absolutely nothing but lie there like a fleshy bump on a log.

Performance is a real thing. Just because a man may happen to have a large package, it does not in any way, shape, or form guarantee that he will be good in bed. Even those who have a natural talent for something, still need lessons to become great at it, and true masters never stop learning. Sex is like any physical activity you do for the first time. You will not be phenomenal at it, and any man who says he was, is either lying, or left the woman to do the lion’s share of the work.

The debate around size, for all its shouting and blushing, fears and body dysmorphia, teaches us to think more about “the box,” rather than outside of it. It tells us to apply our fingers, our tongues, and the myriad toys available on the market. Because the truth is, if you are attentive, if you care about her pleasure, and if you are willing to be taught, then odds are good that most women will be perfectly happy with whatever size you are. And if what you have is enough for her, then brother, it should be more than enough for you too.

Controlling Jealousy

Jealousy is probably one of the largest concerns when a new couple starts swinging beyond the is my dick or tits big enough. Being the amateur psychologist that I am, I enjoy psychoanalyzing others at a party.

We were lucky in that our initial forays into wife swapping was with a great group of people and that my wife was understanding of my lack of impulse control. Like most guys, I let my little buddy make all my decisions for me.

For a guy, going to a swinger’s party is like being locked in a Krispy Kreme with an empty stomach and a Keurig on automatic.

When a new couple shows up, it’s like throwing raw meat to the lions as everyone wants a taste. For a guy, it’s that moment when you realize that not only are you going to get laid, but your significant other is also a prime target.

The first few times at a House Party can be stressful as you may not know many people, and how you’re going to perform under pressure is a polite way of describing the situation. As a guy, performance anxiety is a common thing that rears its ugly head, unlike what you really want to raise. After all, she only has to lay there. 😊

Like most things, practice makes perfect, and you’ll quickly recover the woody when you discover that everyone is about the same as you. Swingers are like everyone else, just with fewer morals.

My recommendation is to try, and both of you get lucky at the same time. It’s hard to be jealous when you’re getting your ashes hauled at the same time as your wife is screaming out someone else’s name. This is why I recommend that you start with house parties and not couple-on-couple.

It would seem that two on two would be better for newbie couples, but I don’t think that’s the case. From personal experience, I’ve found that when you get together with another couple, the chances that everybody will hit it off are rare. You don’t want to start out getting your lights drilled out while your other half is staring at someone he/she has no interest in.

If you go to a party with, say, ten or fifteen other couples, the chances both of you score is much better. Plus, you don’t have to do what we call a “charity fuck.” As much as I hate to admit it, there is one woman in our circle that I use every excuse I can find not to get together with her.

She’s really nice, and Wifey enjoys the company of her husband, but she just doesn’t ring my bell. She gets mad at me for ducking her and gripes to my wife that I won’t fuck her. I realize that the worst I ever had was wonderful, and I can go to Hell for culling, but I’d actually rather do without.

New couples almost always makeup rules to corral the other half but in actuality, that rarely works out. If you tell your wife, “I don’t want to see you on your knees with a waiting line,” good luck with that.

If your spouse breaks a rule, take a breath, and don’t explode. They can get caught up in the heat of the moment and do something against the rules. In most cases, what you’ll figure out is that the rules slowly fade away as you become more comfortable in the Lifestyle.

Don’t argue in front of others. Wait until you’re alone to air your grievances. Most of the time, these little things will work themselves out. I’m sure you’d rather have her head banged against the headboard at a party rather than at a long lunch with a co-worker?

Seriously, the first few times are the toughest, and you have to realize that consensual sex with others is not love but lust. If you are a committed couple and in a stable relationship, the Lifestyle can be entertaining and a lot of fun. Swinging will not help a bad marriage but will only hasten its demise.

We were talking the other day about how much fun we’ve had since we started swinging. With COVID-19, there is little we can do beyond talking about it. A fair percentage of the women in the Lifestyle are exhibitionists, and the show at a party is worth the price of admission. It’s kind of like watching People of Walmart without having to click the Next button and dodge the ads.

It’s also interesting that bi-sexuality is common among women but rare with men, at least in our group. My wife plays for both teams and is bad about taking my current prospect off my hands, but at least I get to watch and have sloppy seconds.

We’ve talked a lot lately about cuckold husbands with their Hotwives at ERWA, and several of our friends are into that kink. In general, Lifestyle couples accept pretty much any form of aberrant behavior as long as it doesn’t stain your new shoes.

We have an us against them attitude with the normal people or “straights” as we call them. Straights wander around with their head in the clouds, completely oblivious to what’s going on around them. Occasionally, at 3 A.M., a group of us will run into a group of straights at Denny’s or IHOP, which usually results in the straights leaving in disgust at our behavior. There is nothing worse than telling a group of swingers that you find their attitude or dress code offensive. I’m sorry that my wife’s short skirt and open blouse offends you. Not!

It’s not as bad in Las Vegas as it was in the Midwest. People here usually just roll their eyes and return to reading the National Enquirer about aliens at Area 51. Once you get away from the Strip, it’s amazing how conservative the rank and file are, but they tend just to ignore us.

I’m Larry Archer, a smut writer, and this is my time of the month to spout off about completely useless topics of little relevance. If you are looking to entertain yourself with some hot stroke erotica with a humorous bent, check me out at I’m also on MeWe, the uncensored FaceBook like site at

The World According To Larry Archer

Today as we attempt to deal with COVID and its impact on our lives, I am reminded of the Grateful Dead’s “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

As I mask up, then put on my raincoat and rubber gloves. No, I’m not going to the park with a bag of candy for unsuspecting children and pigeons. I’m going to the grocery store to try and buy toilet paper. Masks and disinfectant I can see in short supply but toilet paper? Did everyone suddenly get the runs?

Now that we are six-feet apart, it’s more than ever, our responsibility to take care of ourselves. Suddenly, my favorite saying, “If you want some strange stuff, use your left hand,” makes more sense. Today in the world of IoT (Internet of Things), everything is connected to the cloud, and that’s not always a good thing.

Alexa and Siri are two names that we have to be careful about saying as we may be deluged with a box of dirty movies from Amazon or the unapologetic harrumph from Alexa when we ask her what size her boobs are?

I refer to Alexa as my girlfriend to keep her from butting into my conversations or giving me a dirty look when I use an explicative next to her name.

Speaking of IoT, now your vibrator is controlled by your partner’s cell phone. It’s a somewhat unusual looking device with a bulbous part which goes in the who-haw with a smaller tube that sticks outside. Then through the magic of the Internet, your partner can whip out his/her cell phone and give you a tingle when they think of you.

Of course, those of us who are more traditional can continue to utilize the penis-shaped devices that are guaranteed to give a “deep penetrating massage.” Nowadays, you don’t have to run to the 7-11 at 3 AM to purchase batteries. But you have to wait a couple of hours for it to recharge. I’m not sure there is an advantage besides having to get dressed.

COVID has hit those of us who throw our house keys in a bowl particularly hard. Like Moses wandering in the wilderness for forty years, we’ve suddenly had to make do having sex with our spouses.

For Wifey and I, the sex part wasn’t as big of a deal as the camaraderie of fellow perverts with similar desires. Well, maybe it was a big part for me, at least. More and more, I miss the interaction with our gang of party animals.

Zoom parties are not as much fun as the real thing, so I’ve had to resort to living my sex life vicariously through dirty movies. Italian women continue to be one of the highest-ranked searches for porn movies. Along with MILF, Lesbo, mature, tranny, and stepmom.

Personally, I love Italian porn, and while I don’t understand anything they say beyond a moan, I usually just turn the volume down and watch. I guess it’s my love for dark-haired women that I gravitate towards Italians. On the other hand, it could be because of our short Italian girlfriend who loves to give head.

Transexuals have always been popular, and I know that I should stop using the term “tranny” as that’s disrespecting of them, but I mean no harm. Foxy picked up a girl once who had won a bikini contest at a bar. She was surprised to find that the girl was transexual.

Foxy saw her for a few months but was disappointed to find she couldn’t get it up. It was interesting to find a whole list of bars, restaurants, and clubs geared towards trannys. It’s funny how every kink has its own set of spots that cater to a specific genre.

Wifey’s lesbian spots were on a completely different list, and our gay friends on yet another list. When you think about it, our proclivities often determine the people and places that we frequent.

If I had to pick a specific kink, I’d have to say that gay bars are the most fun, with transexual a close second. I’ve been to my wife’s favorite lezzy bar and felt uncomfortable there. It’s unusual to go to the men’s bathroom and find women there who give you a dirty look, rather than the other way around.

She will sometimes ask me to drive her to the bar and then pick her up. She doesn’t like to drive if she’s been drinking and prefers me to carpool her. I once tried to sneak in afterward and sit in the corner, but the hostility I felt was noticeable. When she decides to have a girl’s night, I’ll drop her off and sit at an all-night restaurant with my laptop until they kick me out.

Gay bars are always a lot of fun. The guys are generally in good spirits, and it’s kind of like being at a Village People reunion. While I don’t think I have any inclination to be gay, I do like gay guys, and we have a number of gay friends. However, I’m not brave enough to go to the leather bar in the basement. LOL

I know that I should be writing more smut now that I’m working from home, but it seems like my boss feels that if I don’t have to drive to and from work, I can spend that extra time with my nose to the grindstone.

Plus, a lot of my ideas come from things we see and do. With COVID, our social life is absolutely zero, and with our new incoming president, I feel that he’s going to lock down the country so we can attempt to get a handle on the pandemic.

I understand his likely actions, and our state governor has ruled Nevada with a somewhat iron fist. This has kept our death toll down, especially considering that Las Vegas is a tourist hot spot.

I’m Larry Archer, a slinger of smut for your wanking pleasure, and this is my time of the month for drivel. My erotica is designed to appeal to your most basic instincts, like watching South Park when even they tell you not to!

If you’re still interested, check me out at See you next month.

P.S. – The image included in this month’s post has absolutely nothing to do with the article beyond the fact that I love that image, and it speaks to me.

Experience vs. Reality?

By Larry Archer

A question that seems to have come up a lot recently is what does a writer of erotic fiction base his/her story upon? Do I write from experience or imagination?

I’ve never hidden the fact that we are in the Lifestyle and often use our experiences in the stories I write. Being a swinger has helped me write erotic stories because we’ve often been there and done that.

I was reminded of this difference when I watched part of Suburban Swinger Club on Lifetime. I say part because I was interested in The Secret Sex Life of a Single Mom, which came on following Swinger Club. I ended up watching the last fifteen or so minutes of Swinger Club, so I got the ending portion first.

After watching Sex Life of a Single Mom, I started watching the Swinger Club movie which followed Sex Life. Lifetime was repeatedly showing these two movies back to back. Sort of pulling a sex story train gangbang to my way of thinking.

I could only stand a few minutes of Suburban Swinger Club because it was completely wrong and possibly based upon someone’s idea of what swinging is about instead of knowing what swinger’s parties are actually about.

I’ve based my opinion on the beginning and end of Swinger Club but don’t think watching the entire movie would change my opinion for a number of reasons.

Warning: somewhat of a spoiler follows. The movie seems to portray swingers and swinger’s clubs as some type of weird cult with people who would never get a second invitation to party at the clubs I’m familiar with.

First, the people were all young and attractive in general, which I guess is Hollywood’s idea of the typical suburban swinger’s club. When in real life the people you’ll encounter are a broad variety, young to older, plain to gorgeous, and everywhere in between. The only way you might be able to tell the type of party is the dress code. By and large, many women in the Lifestyle tend to be exhibitionists, and their dress code normally reflects that.

I knew that this story wasn’t based on reality was when everyone threw their house keys in a bowl. That was how you picked your partner for the night by plucking someone’s keys out of the bowl.

First, they didn’t go to the selected partner’s house, they went upstairs, so why the keys, other than it is something that may have happened in the 1950s with the original group of fighter pilot swinger’s?

When you are at a House Party (aka swinger’s party), your partner isn’t chosen by a lottery, it’s by personal choice. You meet and talk with someone; then if you hit it off, you ask if they would like to party (aka fuck and suck). At this point, if both of you agree, then you get together and do the nasty.

Another point that galled me was one of the guys assumed he could get with the new girl at any time he desired, even without getting reciprocal feelings from her, after they partied for the first time.

Just because you get together with someone, you don’t own that person or have more rights. You get together for recreational sex and not a relationship or ownership.

What you can’t expect is that your partner will stay quiet if you break the rules. Once I remember a new couple who showed up at a party and the husband immediately started inviting wives out for dates and nooners. I guess he thought that this would be like cheating where everything is on the down low. Boy, was he wrong and they were never invited to another party. I’m sure they were asking themselves, what happened? He had no idea that all the wives immediately started talking with each other about what had happened.

As hard as it may be to believe, swingers may have loose morals, but they don’t cheat. When we get together with someone else’s husband or wife, it’s typically in the same house and often the same room, not at Motel 6 with Tom Bodett.

Since swinging is not socially acceptable to the majority of the populous, we tend to not talk about our parties around the water cooler.

I got into writing erotica for two basic reasons, (1) I wanted to see if I could do it, and (2) it was a way to talk about our experiences that didn’t have our neighbors burning crosses in our front yard.

I admit that I made a bad choice in picking the names of our counterparts in my stories, Foxy and Larry. Originally, I started out by writing stories about us, but then fictional Foxy and Larry took on a life of their own. They have evolved into a couple, who are a lot like us but a little more over the edge.

The makebelieve Foxy and Larry own a strip club in Las Vegas, The Fox’s Den, and enjoy a hedonistic life of excess both in the money they make and the lifestyle they lead.

When I discuss the actions and emotions of Foxy or Larry, the story typically portrays how they actually are in real life. For example, in The Watchers, one scene portrays Foxy and one of our girlfriends Chrissy staring in a gangbang witnessed by a room of voyeurs, Foxy is apprehensive about performing for an audience.

Not trying to throw her under the bus but that’s exactly how my wife is. She hates to plan and while she’ll do the most outrageous stuff on the spur of the moment, will usually fail to follow through if it is planned and scripted.

I’ve seen her on the floor making out with another girl at a dance with hundreds of people watching, yet if I would have suggested anything like that, she’d flatly refuse.

I’ve learned never to push my wife and always let her take the lead as it typically works out better all the way around. Swinging has allowed us both to grow and the crowd we run with are the greatest.

One of my recent stories is based upon an actual event that actually occurred. We have huge New Year’s Eve Pajama Parties and once a couple from down the street crashed our party, creating the impetus for Crashing the Swinger’s Pajama Party.

You can imagine my shock and theirs when a straight “normal” couple walks into a party with over one-hundred naked or semi-naked people doing obscene things to each other.

Needless to say, our actual relationship with them cooled somewhat but exploded in the fictional version of the encounter.

This was another case of fiction imitating real life and while a lot of the story was a what if, it is based upon fact. Thanks to Lisabet for suggesting that I write that story, which ended up as an 80,000-word novel that’s been one of my best sellers.

I also feature a lot of the people we know in my stories. With the names changed to protect the guilty, naturally. People who are more than walk-ons are typically real people. In my stories, I try to portray them pretty much true to life.

We have a menagerie of friends that we run with and by and large are a great group. Our best friends, Pam and Jack, are a MILF Hotwife and cuckold cop couple we do everything with. And yes, even that, well except that Jack only likes to watch the three of us and abuse himself, while holding the camera.

Another thing I don’t believe in is using condoms in my stories, a topic I’ve railed against many times before. I believe using a rubber doesn’t add anything to a story and since stories are not safe sex lessons, I don’t use them. And I promise, once you can get an STI from reading, I’ll make everyone put on a rubber.

Now having ragged on Suburban Swinger Club, I’d like to suggest that you check out The Secret Sex Life of a Single Mom. This great movie on Lifetime is about a Cougar divorcee dating a young guy, half her age, and becoming a submissive in a Dom/sub relationship.

While some things were missing as this is regular TV and not the Playboy channel, the story, in general, was good and should help in understanding why someone is a Dominant or submissive.

As always, if it’s the 24th, then it’s more erotica from the dirty mind of Larry Archer. Visit my blog, for more of my ramblings.

All About Pleasure: What You Need to Succeed

Talent.  Luck. 
Hard work.  If you have all three,
you will definitely be published.  With
only two, you have a good chance of seeing your work in print.  With just one, your chances fall
considerably, although it’s still possible, especially if you’re blessed with
luck. I’ve forgotten exactly where I read this advice when I was a novice
writer, but it’s stayed with me for over a decade (my apologies to the veteran
who wrote this—I hope the sharing of your wisdom will partially make up
for the lack of attribution!)

Interestingly enough hard work is the only one of these elements within an individual writer’s control.  Talent is something you are born with and
much harder to determine in yourself than another, so an aspiring writer must
soldier on without sure knowledge she has It to complete the magic three.  While it could be argued that preparation
paves the way for luck, by its very definition, luck is something we can’t
really order on demand.  But, and perhaps
I’m being romantic, in almost every case you can become a better writer by
writing–a lot, day after day, year after year—whether or not the muse is with
you or money and fame reward you.  Much
like a musician, you will improve if you practice. 

Yet hard work is the
element that is also glossed over in the popular portrait of the Real
Writer, who spends her days by her swimming pool giving interviews to the press
about her lastest critically-acclaimed bestseller.  Naturally, since celebrity is the modern
manifestation of aristocracy, such a being doesn’t sweat or get dirt under her fingernails.

I lay part of the blame for
this misconception on the cinematic montage, the classic way to show major
growth and progress in the movies, which, let’s face it, reach a far greater
audience than books.  The writer,
frustrated, yanks a piece of paper from his typewriter and tosses it in
trash—or in a more modern incarnation frowns at his laptop and deletes a huge
block of text.  In the next ten-second
scene, he repeats the procedure (perhaps downing a blender full of raw eggs for strength).  On the
third pass, he smiles at his work, and in the fourth, he’s typing merrily.  In the next instant, he’s shaking hands with
a prominent editor and being taken off to lunch, concluding with a book signing
with a mob of adoring fans.

Intellectually we know
this is supposed to represent a year’s worth of effort, or more practically ten, but
emotionally, I wonder if we don’t all think that writing a bestselling book takes
all of two minutes.  That’s how it
happens on the screen after all.  And
while we can all agree this is a convenient fiction and shouldn’t be taken
seriously, I believe these fantasies can have an unfortunate influence on our
subconscious.  If the words, money and
fame don’t come easy, then we don’t have It. 
We aren’t Real Writers.

In grappling with my own
relationship to the hard work of writing—beginning with the fact I only had the
courage to devote the necessary focus and effort to writing at the
less-than-precociously-talented age of thirty-five—I’ve come to realize that I
don’t want to waste my time reading something that is not the result of hard
work.  Perhaps the actual writing of the
story took but a day (which has happened for me only once in a hundred stories I’ve written),
but the preparation, the gestation of ideas, the apprenticeship took years of
focus and dedication.

That’s why I so
appreciate stories of the writing life that celebrate the hard work, rare as
they are.  That’s why I’ll freely admit I
spent fourteen fallow years between minoring in creative writing in college and
sending out my first story, took five years to write my first novel and
five-and-counting to write the second. 
It’s not glamorous.  It’s not the
most efficient way to “achieve” fame or money. 
But it is deeply satisfying to see a long-term dream come to fruition.  

I still agree that
talent, luck and hard work do play a role in the mysterious equation that leads
to publication.  Yet for me, true success
requires more—respect for your ideas, your reader’s time, and the process of
storytelling itself.  That’s all you need to be a Real Writer, swimming pool not required.

Donna George Storey has 150 publications to her credit, most
recently a collection of short stories, Mammoth Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her work at

All About Pleasure: Covering Fifty Shades of Grey

I tried, I really did.  Because I have no intention of reading Fifty Shades of Grey just because it’s all the rage—although I could see myself leafing through an abandoned copy I find at a bed and breakfast in a decade or so–I decided I could not in good conscience make public pronouncements about the book.  Not that this has stopped others from asking me why my work has not gotten me as rich as E.L. James.  To which I always truthfully say that I’m glad the books have brought to light the appetite of millions of readers for erotica, and that I hope all erotica writers will benefit.

Recently, however, I’ve read some excellent posts on Fifty Shades including Remittance Girl’s “Why Fifty Shades of Grey Matters.”  It occurred to me then that the Fifty Shades phenomenon affects us whether we’ve read the book or not.  Obviously this media frenzy has less to do with the story of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey than with the fact that the huge sales provide clear evidence of the existence of female sexual desire in a special place below the belt—by which I mean our wallets.  Not that this should be news.  Nancy Friday’s My Secret Garden was the scandalous best-selling sex book of my youth (I read my sister’s copy from cover to cover once and favorite scenes countless times after that, for sociological reasons, of course), even though Friday had been assured by a male publishing professional that women don’t have sexual fantasies.  Apparently that’s a lesson the industry needs to learn over and over again.

Recently I read an expose that claimed not all of the entries in Friday’s book were fantasies reported by “ordinary” women.  Shockingly Friday commissioned them from professional erotica writers! Of course, just because a piece is well written doesn’t disqualify it from being a genuine female sexual fantasy. Yet there still seems to be the assumption, confirmed rather than challenged by Fifty Shades, that sex and eloquence do not mix.  I really do hope that the book’s success will pave the way for publishers to nurture and promote other erotic novels—perhaps some even written by experienced erotica writers–but I do worry that the emphasize will be on stories that resemble Fifty Shades in every aspect.  This would hardly be a step forward.

But I like to focus on the positive, and there is indeed one area where Fifty Shades seems to have brought about positive change for erotica.  I’m talking about the covers of the series.  The sinuous, silky gray tie, the glittery half-mask, the shiny handcuffs. These images are arty, they’re classy, they’re different from the usual embracing couple with the woman’s ample bust spilling out of her corset, the man’s six-pack bulging, both of their manes rippling in the wind.  It’s not that I have anything against a well-toned male torso or generous mammaries. It’s just that I like the idea there are different ways to present erotica in word and image.  A recent CNN article attempting yet again to account for Fifty Shades’ popularity mentions the appeal of the classy cover.

Perhaps this explanation spoke to me, because I’m in the process of approving a new cover for the ebook version of my novel, Amorous Woman.  I write
for love rather than money, but the fact that the few remaining new copies of the paperback version are selling for $92 on Amazon US and over £1500 on Amazon UK has been compelling news to my publisher. (Used copies are still cheap—perhaps my curious readers have too good of an imagination as to the logistics of a “one-handed read.”)

Here is what the original paperback cover looked like:

The image has nothing to do with the book.  My protagonist is a Caucasian American, and there is no other character resembling this woman in the book,
but I appreciated the general feel of being seduced by Asian culture, which is at the heart of the story.  I came to be fond of this cover for its warm, golden glow, the willowy torso, the oddly modest bra and panty set.  Truth be told, I would have preferred a cover that would allow readers to take the book on their subway commute, but maybe it was only a matter of waiting until Fifty Shades made erotica okay to consume in public.

In the case of my ebook, I had much more input.  This is the result:

The texture of fine Japanese paper, the understated marriage of the sensibilities of east and west, the nod to the classical origins of the story in the courtesan’s summer kimono, all are totally true to the spirit of the story.  In our fine-tuning discussions, my publisher, who is new to erotica, asked me if it was explicitly sensual enough.  Fortunately, I was able to use the Fifty Shades covers as an example of how suggestion can be as seductive as the
classic half-naked couple caught in the throes of ecstasy.  After all, money talks.

It remains to be seen what the long-term effects of E.L. James’ books will be for erotica writers.  For now, I’ll appreciate the international dialogue it has inspired and the window of opportunity to celebrate the potential of erotic writing to surprise us, connect us, and enrich our minds and spirits.  That’s my official stance.  If you want to know what I really think, invite me out for coffee….

Donna George Storey has 150 publications to her credit, most recently a collection of short stories, Mammoth Presents the Best of Donna George Storey. Learn more about her work at  If you’re interested in a copy of her novel, Amorous Woman, to read, not scalp, several more copies are available brand new for the bargain price of $12 including shipping here.

All About Pleasure: Erotica Writers in Bondage

by Donna George Storey

I always feel a flutter
in my stomach when I sit down to write a new story.  Part of me is excited by the blank page, pregnant with potential to be the most sizzling, sexy adventure I’ve
ever written.  But another part of me fears
that I’ve “lost it,” that what comes out will be the same old rewarmed themes
and scenes.  Once I get drawn into the
the story, however, I’m usually having too much fun for such worries.  Writing erotica gives me a sense of freedom
and possibility that I’ve never felt writing “literary” fiction or essays.  Exploring an important part of the human
experience that has so long been silenced, showing that sexuality can be joyful
and complex—no work I’ve ever done has enriched my mind and spirit as deeply.

The real constraints
appear when it comes to putting erotic stories out there in the marketplace.  Just the other day I learned that one of my
(non-erotic) publisher’s publicists refused to handle my book because she
thought it would taint her reputation.  She
hasn’t read the book, but in all fairness, it’s quite possible others would
judge her harshly without full knowledge of the contents as well.  Far from being discouraged, such an attitude
makes me all the more determined to write erotica, but it also reminds me that
writers are not subject only to the whim of the muse. 

Of course, it’s not as if
there aren’t plenty of books about sex, many selling phenomenally
well.  It occurred to me, though, that
the marketplace has certain categories and expectations of writing that
involves sex, categories that literary erotica in particular defies.  Even if we disagree with these assumptions or
intentionally subvert them as we write, the marketplace clings to what is
comfortable for the society as a whole. 
Thus, like it or not, erotica writers are bound by these
conventions—and, unfortunately, I’m not talking anything as fun as
rhinestone-studded handcuffs, suede paddles and safewords.  

I’d like to outline four
of the most prevalent ways our culture “allows” us to talk about sex.  The first has the deepest and widest roots,
the idea that sexual desire is the enemy of civilization and our higher nature.  Sex is acceptable only if properly controlled
by the institution of heterosexual marriage for the purpose of
procreation.  Otherwise the consequences of
carnal activity are damaging, even deadly. 
Not to deny maternal mortality rates over the centuries or the problem
of sexually transmitted infections still today, but this fear of sexuality is
expressed not just in abstinence education, but our popular and high-brow
culture as well.  How many movies, TV
shows and even literary novels rely on the rape and murder of a young woman to
provide pathos and suspense?  Of those
that don’t, how many involve ruinous adulterous affairs?  A “realistic” view of sex always emphasizes
dire consequences.  This is how we are
reassured the subject is being treated seriously. The Great Gatsby, for
example, is considered one of the great American novels.  Its themes are complex and varied, but if we
examine the sexual elements, well, doesn’t it all boil down to: “If you have sex
with people above you in social class and outside of marriage, you will die”?

There are some
exceptions—the Dutch movie Antonia’s Line comes to mind as a work that offers
both positive and negative views of sexual expression.  However, in the main, the safest and easiest
way to talk about sex and still maintain your reputation as a decent and
concerned citizen is to emphasize its evil side:  child molestation, unwanted pregnancy,
betrayal, sexual lust leading to the destruction of the social fabric
and the breaking of the Ten Commandments.

There are places where sex
can be portrayed as enjoyable, but only within the bounds of an erotic fantasy
wonderland, the Pornutopia we find in most X-rated movies, Penthouse letters,
and many erotic stories (including, I will admit, some of my own).  In this world, all the usual rules we learn in
our ordinary lives are suspended.  There
is no need to court a potential sex partner, they come on to us within minutes
of first meeting.  There is no disease,
pregnancy, judgment, regret or guilt. 
Everyone reaches orgasm easily and often and is eager to try taboo
acts.  At first blush this may seem an
unfettered celebration of sex, but this fantasy world comes with restrictions
of its own, which keep sexual pleasure securely within the realm of the
impossible.  Any hint of ambivalence or
complexity ruins the illusion.  My work
was once criticized for this sin by a professional writer (not an
eroticist).  He said every time he
started getting turned on, I’d use a big, fancy word that would ruin the
mood.  Pornutopia requires its own brand of
purity.  Literary turns of phrase or any
whiff of authentic complexity are the taboos here.

Some of the most enduring
bestsellers in publishing are not fictional accounts of sex, but scientific
studies of human sexuality.  In this
case, safety and respectability are provided by an objective expert casting his
cool, rational eye upon our base, animal urges. 
Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, The Hite Report, Mary Roach’s Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, all of
these books have escaped censorship, if not notoriety, because of their scientific
credentials.  If the author doesn’t have
a Ph.D. after her name, she must include a bibliography with copious studies
and references to give the properly sanitized presentation.  Yet this mode of presenting
human sexuality also has its distortions. 
There is a temptation to transform human experience into numbers, focus
on the bizarre extremes, and present a model of what is “normal” or at least
average.  Objective it may seem, but even
scientific studies should be viewed with a critical eye to the ways our cultural
assumptions shape the “truth” about sexuality.

Comedy is yet another way
that sexuality is rendered harmless.  In contrast to the tragedy and death in
literature and melodrama, this view of sex focuses on the
awkwardness, the farts, the hairy parts, the gaffs.  This is the typical approach of memoirists in
magazines.  If the author and her husband
attempt to act out a scene from Fifty Shades of Grey, for example, you can be
sure the result will be ridiculous, and she will inevitably
conclude she and her husband are too pedestrian (read “normal”) for such
perversities.  There’s nothing wrong with
seeing the humor in sex, or with getting in touch with our inner
seventh-grader, but since the intended response is giggles and not something
more dangerous like genuine arousal, the idea of sex as shameful, embarrassing and adolescent is dutifully preserved.

There are other
strategies by which the disruptive power of sexual desire is neutralized
while simultaneously used to titillate and seduce us to buy books and other
consumer goods, but these four main approaches are the most common I’ve
observed.  Of course sex actually does
have negative consequences at times, but its pleasures can also help us transcend the restrictions of our daily lives.  Sex does deserve
educated observation and analysis and can certainly be funny, witty, amusing,
and even ridiculous.  Yet as artists who
deal with sexuality, it can only benefit erotica writers to be aware of the
deeply-rooted assumptions we face from the publishing industry so that we can
challenge–or indeed utilize–them for our own benefit. 

So, the next time you see
a sex scene on TV or read an erotic story, take a step back and question the
implications of the story line.  What if,
instead of getting raped and murdered, an adventurous and sexually curious
young woman has a great time with that dark stranger? Could a couple try out
partner swapping and decide they actually aren’t comfortable with other
swingers, but be glad they had the experience anyway?  Are the questions asked in the survey of
sexual activity you’ve just read in Cosmopolitan biased in a subtle, or not so subtle, way? And what if a suburban
couple tries out bondage and ends up giggling, but also discovers the experience
adds a new level of trust and excitement to their relationship? 

This level of realism
has yet to be explored in the mainstream media, but as we sit down to write our
next story or essay, with a fluttering stomach full of hope and uncertainty, we
may indeed find ourselves taking a less-traveled path.  And, my fellow writers, isn’t that what the
adventures of both sex and writing are all about?

Donna George Storey is the author of the erotic novel, Amorous Woman.  Her short stories have recently appeared in Best Women’s Erotica 2012, Best Erotic Romance, and The Best of Best Mammoth Erotica.  Learn more  at

All About Pleasure: The Ultimate Writer’s Romance

by Donna George Storey

I started writing fiction in the spring of 1997, which makes
this more or less my fifteenth anniversary of dealing with the writer’s life
(see Kristina Wright’s spot-on post from last month, “What It Means to Be a Full-Time Writer” for what I used to believe sixteen years ago).  It might sound like a decent chunk of time to
have experienced the perils and triumphs of academic, literary and erotica
publishing, and I do know a little more than when I started, but the realities
of the literary marketplace continue to surprise and mystify me.

Recently a good friend has started seeking representation
for her YA historical novel.  Many people, especially those who want to write but haven’t, are ready to smirk at the pathos of a first-time novelist taking on New York.  In this case, however, I’m excited for her, because I’ve read a draft and absolutely loved it.  My friend lived in the country where the
novel is set, is fluent in the language, and has done significant scholarly
research on the time period.  More than
this, she’s managed to weave her deep knowledge into a suspenseful story that
gives the reader an honest look at this culture through the eyes of a
believable, sympathetic young female protagonist.  I’d be proud to have written this book.  Need any writer say more?

My friend has also done her homework on the the process of
selling her novel.  She’s read how-to books,
checked appropriate agent blogs and polished her cover letter and synopsis to a
shine.  Apparently now agents don’t only
require that your current project be as timelessly classic as The Great Gatsby
while having the appeal to reach an audience at least twice that of the Harry
Potter series, you have to have an impressive set of saleable future projects
ready to push out the door in a year or two. 
Since self-publishing is threatening to make the job of literary agent
obsolete, I have to admire their balls in being so extravagantly choosy.  Or perhaps they figure only a blockbuster
author will be willing to pay the 15% to handle all the sub rights’

Even with an excellent manuscript,
my friend’s search may not be easy.  If
the agents deign to reply at all, some will tell her one or more of the following: that
the book has no payoff; that it’s too fast-paced; that it’s too slow; that it’s
too obvious; that it’s too subtle; that it was well written, but they didn’t fall
in love with the characters; that the characters were likeable, but the writing
too esoteric; that they could only commit to a series; that she should change
the love interest or have the father marry a different character or have the
protagonist be prettier; that there is too much cultural explanation; that
there is too little cultural explanation. 

It sounds like I’m joking. 
I’m not.

Yet I realize, too, that beneath a very thick layer of
cynicism, I still actually believe in the grand romance of publishing.  Let me roughly
outline the basic tenant of this sweet illusion.

The ultimate writer’s romance is the beautifully uplifting
belief in a kind of literary justice.  That
is, if the publishing industry accepts and publishes your book, it is “good”
and if they reject it, it sucks, or is at least not good enough.  What is published by New York is the
cream of the writing that is out there, because agents are selecting the most
worthy work submitted to them.  Beyond
that is the most important criterion by which to judge a book—the number of
sales.  The same logic applies.  The more popular a book is, the “better” it
is.  Although I will agree higher sales
are better for the publisher, agent and, to a lesser degree, the author, what I’m speaking of is the popular
assumption of quality, as in this book is worthy of the precious moments of your life you will spend in reading it.  Therefore—and I probably shouldn’t mention
this book because I haven’t read it, but that deficiency is irrelevant for my present
argument—Fifty Shades of Grey is the “best” and most important erotica book
ever written because of its phenomenal sales figures.

If you’re tempted to point out my confusion between the
popularity of a book and its admittedly subjective “quality,” I believe that is
exactly what happens on an emotional level for many readers and critics,
including myself.  And the reason I’ll
admit this is because of my hopes for my friend’s novel.

Talk about a fantasy. 
In my fevered mind, the first round of agents she’s approached will all
immediately reply asking for the full manuscript with the following

Dear Ms. A,

I can’t tell you have thrilled and relieved I am to have the
chance to read an intelligent page-turner. 
To be honest, these vampire-sorcerer-shapeshifter-dream-catcher
spin-off’s are starting to eat my brain. 
It’s okay with me that this is a stand-alone novel, because most of the
world’s memorable literature has not been written as a seven-part series (I
mean really, who’s read all of
Remembrance of Things Past?).  It gives me great pleasure to serve
humanity’s higher need for an excellent story that will encourage its readers
to engage in deeper thought about actual historical events and what we can
learn from them, rather than worry only about making tons of sales with any old
crap that can be described with the hot-button tags of the moment.  Thank you for allowing me to be genuinely proud
of what I do.

I’m setting up the auction for your book now.

Best regards,

Hot-Shot New York Agent

Because my friend’s novel is
one of the best things I’ve read in a long time, and that includes an
embarrassing number of disappointing but very popular Oprah Magazine
recommendations, I expect that the publishing industry will see the value of
her work, too, and realize how far they’ve gotten off track since the days of
Maxwell Perkins.  Go ahead and laugh at
my naivete, I deserve the ridicule.  However, many
readers out there, who confidently insist that advertising doesn’t affect them
in the least and that they watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians with
ironic distance, also fall prey to this appealing delusion.  And many publishing professionals will swear
that their experience and instincts maximize the success of the projects they
choose to champion, while they, too, are constantly taken by surprise by what
actually performs well. 

Few of us would admit that we still believe the free market
naturally brings us what is good and right, although in darker moments we might agree it gives us what we deserve. 
But then why do we (okay, I’m sort of using the royal “we”)  get so angry when what we are presented with yet
another disappointing mega-seller?  Maybe
because deep down writers are romantics who still hope that our innate talent
will be seen by the right billionaire publisher who will then elevate us to the
level of the truly beloved Voice of the Culture?  Or at least that a quality book will be
treated with respect and presented to an audience of readers who will feel
their lives are better for having read it?

Call me a foolish romantic, but a little illusion always helps
us on our writing journey.  I still have
my fingers crossed for a HEA ending for my friend and her book–and wish the
same for all writers who have the courage to write what they truly love. 

Donna George Storey is the author of the erotic novel, Amorous Woman.  Her short stories have recently appeared in Best Women’s Erotica 2012, Best Erotic Romance, and The Best of Best Mammoth Erotica.  Learn more  at

All About Pleasure: Beyond the “Wet Test”

The topic of how erotica is reviewed has actually been on my mind for a while, but I was inspired to write about it here at the ERWA blog after reading Lisabet Sarai’s post at her author blog on dealing with negative reviews, “You Are Not Your Book.”  Lisabet makes some excellent points based on her experience as both an author and reviewer, and negative reviews are definitely a challenge for any writer.

However, over the years, I’ve noticed another aspect of the popular approach to reviewing erotica—the primacy of the “wet test,” or using personal arousal to evaluate the quality of a story.  Go to any Amazon page for an erotic anthology, and you’ll see that a good portion of the reviewers makes a point to list their favorite stories.  A few will also finger the stories they don’t like (pun intended).  It’s almost as if someone passed out a template on “how to review erotica anthologies,” with a final exhortation: “Don’t forget to mention at least three stories that got you tingly/hard!”

For a while, I took enthusiastic recommendations to heart as the opinion of the erotica-reading public and would be sure to read the stories that were deemed the standouts for both market research and my own education in good writing.  However, I quickly discovered that I did not always agree with the reviewer, that in fact my favorite stories would be completely different titles.  (Although, in some cases, I did agree and was guided to some perennial favorites!)

So, you might ask, what’s the problem?  People have different tastes in the kind of writing they like and the scenarios and dynamics that arouse them.  One could see this standard pattern as a way for the reviewer to reassure the potential buyer that the book “works” as erotica, which is clearly the main reason one buys a book of sexually explicit stories.  And yet, unless this buyer shares the reviewer’s particular hot buttons, the book might not “work” at all.  Again, there’s nothing really wrong with this kind of review.  I did a check of reviews for Best American Short Stories and found that those reviewers also feel compelled to list their favorite and least favorite stories as a way to validate their critical acumen.  Maybe this is simply an inevitable way to evaluate a selection of stories by different authors.

And yet, part of me wishes that erotica would be viewed through many different lenses, not merely whether it arouses a reader.  This might take a lot more analysis, or it might just involve viewing erotica as an experience which touches the reader emotionally, intellectually, and artistically as well as sexually.  Erotica can inspire us to unzip and relieve our red-hot carnal lust on the spot.  Or it can simmer in our imaginations for a while and invigorate our next lovemaking in a very unexpected way a few days later.  An erotic story can also surprise us, make us sad or even angry, make us see love and sex in a new way, disturb us, show us a new side of our own desire.  Certain stories can be sensual and erotic without having much sex in them at all.  One of my favorite erotic stories–“Seduction” by Anonymous in Mitzi Szereto’s Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers–did not result in my yanking down my pants and diddling myself to a frenzy.  But it did enthrall me with its formal daring, sharp humor, and brilliant insight into the sex appeal of Warren Beatty and the nature of celebrity in general.  “Seduction” was a total turn-on for the social critic in me, and yet, like the narrator, I also found myself being drawn into Beatty’s magic web almost against my will. 

But perhaps another reader might disagree with my opinion.

I’m not pretending that I have any right to instruct other people how to react to a book, but I think we’d all benefit if reviewers considered giving us a little more than just the titles they liked and the heat level of their response.  With the advent of online booksellers, we all get to be critics, and I’m the last person to bemoan the breakdown of the literary industrial complex.  However, it would be helpful to other readers and writers if reviewers gave more context for their opinions.  Tell us why a story turns you on or intrigues you or disturbs you or lingers on after you put the book down.  Treat erotica as a crafted tale as well as a masturbation aid.  This would involve a little more time, but there are some great benefits to the reviewer as well.  I’ve found that when I’ve delved deeper into why I like a story and why it turns me on, I’ve learned a lot about the workings of my imagination–to the benefit of my sex life and the quality of my writing.

Perhaps it is a far-fetched fantasy to think erotica could be considered and reviewed as literature in a sex-negative society, where anything that touches on sexuality is considered cheapened and base.  But, hey, I have an imagination–and in that magical realm we all know anything is possible.

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