Jacqueline Applebee is not your typical erotica author. She’s quick to point this out in the wonderful introduction to her collection Erotic Brits. She is black, bisexual, and polyamorous, a “minority within a minority”, to use her own phrase. Her stories are not like anyone else’s either. They’re lusty and haunting, slippery not only in the physical sense but also in their portrayals of place, gender and even reality.
In Ms. Applebee’s Britain, things shift. Straight men bend over to be reamed. Girlfriends turn into lovers. Tops and bottoms exchange places. Pain becomes pleasure. Her world is populated by rock gods and choir boys, fat butches and razor sharp femmes, not to mention mermen, vampires, and sentient teddy bears.
The only constant in her world is desire―sumptuous, surprising, overwhelming and often transcendent.
Some of her stories are light-hearted; others are as dark as England’s long history. To give you some notion of her rich imagination, consider the story “Moo!”
One morning I woke up wanting to be an animal. More precisely I wanted to be a cow. This was not such a strange occurrence; some days I wanted to be a princess, and just last Thursday I wanted to be a butterfly. But this morning I knew that I wanted to be a cow. I announced this bit of news to my boyfriend, Neeak and my girlfriend, Sheila.
Believe it or not, this turns into a bizarre but remarkably erotic tale. What I love, though, is the notion that this three-way relationship is normal―or at least, normal for Ms. Applebee.
“My Boyfriend’s Wife” offers a woman who thinks she’s dominating her boyfriend―until the couple runs into his spouse at a S&M club and the narrator learns just what dominance means.
“I Used To Have a Life” is a haunting tale about a woman taken by a female vampire, and the lengths to which she goes to keep her undead mistress for herself.
In the elegant and arousing “Diamonds in Your Hand”, the female main character has a beard fetish. When she encounters a bearded woman, she falls helplessly in love.
“Daddy Issues” revolves around a dyke who wants her girl to call her Daddy―and ends up with a boy instead.
The story “Caught My Eye”, perhaps, expresses most purely the spirit of this collection. On holiday in the seaside town of Whistable, trying to get away from the London grind, the narrator suddenly develops the ability to see peoples’ true natures―the erotic selves they keep hidden from the world. A woman in a shop becomes an Victorian courtesan. Two girls on a bus turn into exotic birds. Each vision feeds her own desire, until she ends up going home with a furry bear who recognizes her own true self.
In Jacqueline Applebee’s world, sex is a kind of magic, a transforming power. It’s a power we all share, regardless of our genders or the labels we apply to ourselves. And when that power is loosed, there’s no way to predict the arousing outcome.
In case you can’t tell, I loved this collection. I feel a sense of kinship with the author, who wears her difference so proudly. Underneath my respectable exterior, I’m kinky and queer in ways that most of the people who know me would never guess. I admire Ms. Applebee for living her desires so openly and for capturing them so perfectly in her stories.
© 2010 Lisabet Sarai. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.