Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The little pointy thing next to the photo is supposed to be a crown. I drew that with a blue colored pencil I took from my Bugs Bunny pencil box while sitting at a desk in our little house in Iowa back during the Kennedy administration. I was doing my homework, maybe coloring a picture I suppose. At that moment, the archaeological evidence shows that with my blue pencil in hand, I was actually day dreaming about a girl. This was 1962. I was in third grade, according to the year book the picture is in. You may ask, why would a nine year old kid want a school yearbook? I wanted it because I knew her picture would be in it. The little crown is supposed to mean “Queen of my Heart”.
I dreamed of her literally. I went to sleep at night after my prayers by making up stories in my imagination of Jeannine in this peril or that peril. Of her rescue, myself wounded, maybe dying but devoted. Elaborate stories. Herself, always grateful. Giving me a kiss. And there was this void. There was some exciting itch, something beyond kissing. My body seemed to know it, but I didn’t. Something mystical and hidden where girls and boys went to consummate these emotions, but it was a place in the deeper shadows in my skull, where imagination couldn’t reach. Not yet.
Now I could lie to you at this point, and none of you would know. I’m an apprentice fiction writer, lying really well is actually what I aspire to do with my life. The truth in fiction is never in the details, it’s under the surface of the details, and so it will be with you and me in a minute, Friends of the Inner Sanctum. I could tell you Jeannine was madly in love with me, and I carried her books and defended her honor from farm boy bullies. I could tell you we kissed and made out and and otherwise experimented on her porch swing as the sun set over the cornfields and her folks inside were watching Popogigio the Mouse on Ed Sullivan. I could tell you how this nymphet rested her nine year old head on my nine year shoulder, inserted her pink wad of Bazooka Joe bubble gum seductively between my lips, still wet from her mouth, and spoke wistfully of marriage. But the mact of the fatter is, I never had the courage to speak to little old Jeannine. At all. Ever. We were briefly in the same class, and she sat close enough at one time to lean over, punch me in the shoulder and ask if she could borrow a pencil. I had only the one pencil and gave it to her quickly and then gallantly did without for that day, dissolved in happiness until the bell rang. She gave my pencil back at the end of the day (I had no courage to ask for it) with the eraser bitten off and the upper end of the wood chewed as if borrowed by a nervous beaver. I retired the stricken pencil to my underwear drawer where I occasionally took it out and meditated on her tooth marks and the knowledge her divine fingers had held this, my wood, my Ticonderoga, sanctified by the touch, lips and teeth of the goddess. How I longed to be where that pencil had been.
As I held the sacred Ticonderoga #2B of the Gods, I decided my destiny from that moment. I made a sacred vow over that pencil I would be a writer.
Okay, now I’m lying to you. That last part’s total horse shit.
But she did give it back and I did keep it in my sock drawer. That part is true.
Now none of that is the interesting thing to me personally. I wish Jeannine well wherever she is, and her husband whose nights I envy, but I’ve moved on. I just told you that so I could think about this other thing- dig.
The truth is not in the details. The truth is under the details.
Me and my little blue pencil. This is before testosterone. This is before tits and ass. This is before balls and hairy legs and pimples. This is before hard-ons and wet dreams, and whacking off and making out. This is nine years old. How does a nine year old fall in love in with a girl?
Last week we were talking about same sex pairing. Homosexuality. I said that I didn’t believe homosexuality was a moral decision, anymore than being tall or short is a moral decision. That little blue pencil crown next to the photo of little nine year old Jeannine Williams is my evidence for the court, your honor, and wise men and winged women of the jury. Because of that little kid drawing of a royal crown, I know homosexuality and bisexuality and heterosexuality, all of it is brain wiring. It’s something out of your reach. I fell in love with a girl, and not a boy, before I knew that sex existed as a concept or an activity. I fell in love with a girl before I knew there was such a thing as tab A in slot B. If your sexual orientation is out of your reach, how much else is out of your reach? Are we religious because we’re divinely touched, or because a pile of neurons in the right frontal lobe is a little more active than the left? How much of what we perceive as ourselves is real and how much is chemical illusion?
Jill Bolte Taylor had a stroke. It was freakish stroke for exactly the right person, because Ms. Taylor was a brain scientist and the stroke targeted exclusively the left side of her brain. The left side of the brain governs verbal skills and ego perception. Its that source of the endlessly chattering “monkey mind” we go through our day with. The right side of the brain is non verbal and non linear. As her left brain was shut down in stages, she lost her ability to speak, then her ability to understand speech, soon her ability to walk began to go, and then finally her ability to recall the last four hours of her life and finally her own identity faded but not before she'd made a slurred call to her neighbor for help. Operating solely from the right side of the brain she experienced a mystical euphoria and union with the great creative intelligence of the universe and her non-dualistic oneness with all things around her. Until the neighbor hauled her off to emergency and loaded her full of life saving drugs and she became monkey mind Jill Bolte Taylor again. She documented this experience and what she learned from it in her book “My Stroke of Insight”. When I was practicing mantra meditation, it suddenly occurred to me that most of meditation technique is designed to direct the attention away from left brain activities and systematically shut it down. When you’ve shut it down perfectly you experience what Dr. Taylor experienced. You see God.
But it isn’t God. Is it? Its an illusion. Its lop sided brain wiring. Right? So what is real? There is a form of frontal lobe epilepsy Dostoyevsky was rumored to have had. During the epileptic seizure the left brain is violently shut down and the person goes into the most intense religious ecstasy. It is described as an intensity of hallucinogenic pleasure and release far beyond sex, beyond any drug, a perfect overwhelming happiness that obliterates the self completely. But is it? Isn’t it brain wiring? Then what is God? Where does the human begin? How much of it is real?
The blue crown has another argument behind it also. The skeptic in me can say its evidence that sexual orientation is brain wiring, genetics. Maybe it is. But it also means that it isn’t hormones. Falling in love, or feeling like it, for a nine year old boy who is still years away from the throes of testosterone overdose, where does it come from? The soul? A nature predisposed to love and fantasy and stories? Its not coming from chemicals.
For me that blue crown is an enigma, the symbol of an unsolved mystery, like anthropologists discovering Neanderthals buried their dead with flowers and jewelry. It means that what we think we know isn’t the way it appears. Almost nothing is the way it appears. The truth is under the surface.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Yeah. That Tim Curry. The one who plays transvestites and devils and killer clowns.
Of course I didn't fancy him while playing a killer clown. I shit my pants while he played a killer clown. But I did fancy him in the little known but much loved movie, Clue. Et voila:
I know. Not much to fancy there, eh? I mean, just look at the frog eyes and the weird mouth and the general air of British stiff-upper-lippedness. None of that should be sexy. And yet it IS because he's awesome and I just want him to chase me around a manor house in the 1930s. Possibly while being repressed.
I think repression plays a big part in my lust for unconventional weirdos. For example, another high school love was Data. You know, the android- from Star Trek? The greeny-yellow one. The one who literally couldn't feel anything. My God, how I lusted after him! No surprise that I now lust after Spock, from the new Star Trek movie. He doesn't want to feel anything.
Unless it's my butt. I'm pretty sure he wants to feel my butt, when I'm busy frantically thinking about being trapped with him, in a Jeffrey's tube. The name Jeffrey's tube alone sounds like the most heavenly dirty thing in the world, so I'm pretty sure something would end up happening in there, despite the iron lock of emotional detachment that's probably wrapped around his penis.
But I digress. What was I talking about? Oh yeah- repression, and how it probably actually sucks in real life, but is totally orsum in my head. In my head, repression is one of the few barriers left in the modern world, between my heroines and their lust objects. Repression makes the flame of sexual tension roar, and lots of secret erections can occur, and everything is bad and naughty and wrong and oh.
Surely I can't be blamed, for liking weirdos?
Monday, June 28, 2010
Is it bad form to admit that I’ve imagined fucking many people I admire? I don’t want you to feel violated, but on the other hand, let me assure you that if I've fantasized about you –if- you were good in bed. Very, very good indeed. Everything you hate about your body was as good as invisible to me. I liked the way your skin felt against my lips. I loved the way your voice got a bit breathless as you asked me to keep doing that. And while I’m not much of a cuddler, the part I liked most was the way you laughed in bed afterward, how comfortable and confident you were chatting about string theory or steampunk or motorcycles while sprawled across the bed in a happy haze of sex. If that still makes you uncomfortable, just assume that you fall into the group of people I haven’t imagined fucking. Either way, I still respected you in the morning.
I’m in a long term relationship, but I’ve had crushes on many people during our time together, and he knows. I know all about his emotional affairs too. While we’re deeply committed to each other, we’re honest enough to realize that we can’t give each other that wonderful rush of first infatuation anymore. I’m not talking about a physical affair. It’s purely about enjoying the good feelings that come with a sweet little crush. Since we never expect or want those affairs of the heart to go anywhere beyond unrequited affection, we don’t have to face the ugly downside like we did when we adolescents. Eventually, those intense feelings fade. That’s the nature of fantasy. So we kid each other about our crushes, and even encourage them, because it keeps us young at heart, and man, does it ever lead to some good sex.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
By Lisabet Sarai
Our new member Charlotte Stein set the topic for this week: unconventional crushes. In response, I thought I'd go 'way back, practically before the dawn of history—okay, before color television at least!—and talk about one of the first crushes I remember . The intriguing thing about this crush is that it prefigured the sort of person I'd continue to be attracted to throughout my life.
In 1966 I was in ninth grade, thirteen years old, and madly in love with a guy on TV. The spy series “The Man from U.N.C.L.E” was hugely popular in those Cold War years. Each week super-agent Napoleon Solo from the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement matched mind and muscle with the evil minions of THRUSH (the Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity) as they plotted world domination.
Solo had a lot in common with his contemporary James Bond (not all that surprising, considering the fact that Ian Fleming contributed to the development of the character). He was handsome, muscular, sophisticated, witty, and what would now be termed a chick-magnet. He was clearly the hero of the series—in fact the original title was “Solo”. But I wasn't in love with Napoleon Solo, despite his many positive attributes. The man I adored, whom I would do anything to meet, for whom I was ready to die, was his slender, brilliant, and enigmatic sidekick, Illya Nikovetch Kuryakin.
Except for the fact that he was blond, Illya Kuryakin was a classic example of what I now call the “dark poet” type. You never knew what the taciturn Russian was thinking, but there wasn't any doubt that it was deep. He evaded questions about his past but he was rumored to have Gypsy blood. He smiled far less often then his extrovert partner Solo. His motivations were normally obscure. Although Illya was an explosives expert and sharp-shooter, and excelled in practically every style of martial arts, his intelligence was his most potent weapon. According to Wikipedia, he earned a Masters degree from the Sorbonne and a PhD in quantum mechanics from the University of Cambridge. He played the bass viol, the English horn and guitar, and spoke French, German and Japanese (among other languages).
I truly had it bad for Illya. I had pictures of him on my wall. I dreamed about him. I recall that once I thought I saw David McCallum, the Scottish actor who portrayed Kuryakin, in a restaurant. My parents had to hold me down to stop me from rushing up to the poor guy (who was probably just a look-alike) , begging for his autograph or volunteering to have his children. Nevertheless, I harbored a secret excitement for days after that close encounter, as if he and I had managed a secret tryst.
“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” was canceled in 1968. Eventually I outgrew my infatuation with the lithe, mysterious spy. But he was only the first of many dark poets to hook my heart.
You know the kind of guy I'm talking about? He's usually on the thin side, possibly because he spends his time in cafés or bars, drinking black coffee or straight vodka rather than eating. His hair tends to be long, maybe even scraggly. He might have a mustache. He's stronger than he looks, with a wiry power that makes your breath catch when he uses it.
He'll hold forth with astounding eloquence on philosophical issues like the nature of time or the question of whether one can truly understand another human being, but he's far less forthcoming about his own emotions. He fills notebooks with heart-piercing poems or incandescent prose. He stays up until four AM. He improvises the blues. He'll take you to bed and to the moon, give you pleasure so acute it brings tears to your eyes, but he'll never say he loves you.
I'm a sucker for that kind of guy—moody, creative, intelligent and intense. It's a pity, because they're often not particularly good with relationships. I've got pages of poems bemoaning the fact that you never know what this sort of man really feels, even while you're ready to surrender everything to be with him.
There's a kind of glamor to this type—Illya's type—glamor in the original sense of the word, a force to bewitch. Part of the attraction, I think, is the desire to break through those emotional walls. It's a kind of conceit: “I'm the one who loves him enough to make him open up.” We all had those fantasies about Mr. Spock, didn't we? (another crush, a similar type) I'm the one who sees beyond that Vulcan mask, the one woman who can evoke true, overwhelming emotion from the man who lives by logic. It's a potent aphrodisiac, an assumption of erotic power. Let me just bed him and he'll love me—he won't be able to shut himself off from me, his soul mate...
I've had several men who fit this mold as lovers. None of those attachments ended all that well. Fortunately the man that I married has little in common with Illya Kuryakin, at least on the emotional side, though he's easily as intelligent as the U.N.C.L.E. operative. My husband is cheerful, easy-going, relatively relaxed except when he's focused on his work. He loves me and doesn't hesitate to say so.
I've spent nearly thirty satisfying years with my honey. Nevertheless, I still dream, sometimes, about slender, intense men with prodigious intellect and Gypsy blood. Maybe, after all, I never did get over that crush.
Illya, mon amour, wherever you are—I still love you.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
By James Buchanan (Guest Blogger)
I write cops.
I write gay cops.
One basic reason is I like cops. I almost joined the force until my uncle (who retired as a detective from a large metropolitan police department) offered to take me to the top of the Bonaventure Hotel and throw me off. I’m the idiot who slows down at accidents, not to rubberneck the damage, but to see which department has shown up. I favor motorcycle patrol uniforms over any others.
The second big reason is that cops are the ultimate stressors and stress survivors. These are people who, at their core, go into a profession wanting to fix the world…sometimes with brute force. Cops are their own hardest critics. They are constantly reviewing the world in 20/20 hindsight and filtering every interaction through a level of culturally assimilated paranoia. Cops rely on each other like soldiers. Unlike soldiers however they are charged with defending the laws and morals of society.
Many of them are fairly conservative. How do I know? I devour police autobiographical narratives; published, unpublished and on the net. Liberals don’t last long in departments…not because they don’t join up, but because that culturally positive view of the world is often beaten out of them within a few years of dealing with the worst of the worst of society.
I forget where I found the quote but to paraphrase: “The police encounter the best of us at the worst time of our lives and the worst of us every other time of their lives.”
Like any good paramilitary institution they rely on homogeneity (yeah, paramilitary--why do you think the ranks are officer, corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and chief? – btw detective is not a rank, it's an assignment, like Narcotics, Vice or Motorcycle). You have to know exactly how your partner, your back ups and the rest of the department will respond. Cops rely on expected norms of behavior.
A psychiatrist whom I once deposed (I'm a lawyer) postulated that all cops are delusional. It’s a functional delusion as opposed to a psychotic one. They are delusional in thinking that they operate in a society of order as opposed to one of chaos and entropy. They are delusional as to their own lack of mortality. They are delusional as to their own power to change things. These functional delusions assist them in the very real way of getting them out of bed and into their patrol cars, because if they sat down and considered the reality of their situation they’d curl up into fetal balls.
This shrink likened it to the functional delusion of all Southern California residents…we all get up each day believing that this is not the day that the massive 9.0 earthquake is going to happen. Each day it doesn’t reinforces that belief. However, the reality is whether that hell happens is totally random and beyond our control. Each day could be the day we’re caught on the double decker freeway when it pancakes the level below.
Cops join the force to be true heros.
Why the long intro? Because if you’re a gay cop, you’re outside the norm of society. In some jurisdictions – those that still ban sodomy – having sex with the person you’re attracted to is a crime. Like women, gay cops threaten the macho cop culture.
You show up to your job KNOWING that it’s a lie. There is no justice. You’ve seen your friends beat up, ostracized and persecuted because of who they love. But your job requires that you impose that “justice” on all people. You listen to other cops talk about fags and queers and niggers and spicks and every word we don’t use in a polite, understanding society and say nothing, because you live in an US vs. THEM world. Driving while black or brown is still suspect in most places.
*A good friend of mine (his dad was one of my “uncles”) was a personal assistant and driver to pay for his med school…and every time he drove into Beverly Hills at 2am for his job he was stopped. He was first generation Mexican-American. Now, in 2010, he’s a cardiac surgeon and lives in Beverly Hills…he still gets stopped for being ‘out of place.’*
What’s it like to be gay and a cop?
Look at law enforcement history.
In the early 1990s FBI Agent Fank Buttino was subjected to an interrogation that normally only a multiple murder suspect would endure…hours upon hours of interrogation into how many dicks he’d sucked, how many guys had fucked his ass and how often. Nobody ever inquired into whether he “leaked” state secrets to anyone. It was all about the salacious details of his sex life.
Then the FBI fired him. He sued. He won.
As stated in the United States District Court’s opinion, the judge at the summary judgment phase of the case phrased it, “The court also has questions as to the rationality of a policy which punishes gay employees for being less than candid about their homosexuality when it is undisputed that at least until very recently the FBI would clearly have purged any employee for *being* candid about one’s homosexuality.”
A Matter of Justice: Lesbians and Gay Men in Law Enforcement, by Robin A. Buhrke, was published in 1996. The book contains more than forty narratives of officers (collected in 1993) about the prejudice they faced both inside the departments they served with and OUTSIDE in the gay community. How they were turned on by their own communities for being in law enforcement. That’s unfortunately understandable. The GLBTQ community has suffered at the hands of cops for decades.
More recently a non-fiction author describe the hurdles of a gay officer in today’s police force.
“Gay cops have a staggering number of virulent stereotypes to overcome. Many police officers see themselves as protecting the moral order of society, and to some cops the idea of a homosexual cop is immoral.
As with women, gay men are presumed by some to lack such manly attributes as courage, bravery, and loyalty. And, like women, when they demonstrate courage and competence, they threaten the cherished notion that only ‘manly’ men can do police work.”
-I Love A Cop: What Police Families Need to Know by Ellen Kirschman, PhD
That quote is ONLY 10 years old. Ms. Kirschman is a clinical psychologist who’s worked with police departments and the FBI for over 20 years counseling cops.
These are entrenched and learned beliefs that are hard to overcome.
And, unfortunately, many writers ignore this. They write in the land of OkayHomo. I’m sorry, that doesn’t exist. Even in South Beach (Miami), Capitol Hill (Seattle) or West Hollywood (Los Angeles) the GLBTQ population does not live in isolation. GLBTQ people are surrounded by the hetero-normative culture. Advertising depicts the happy Male + Female culture. The president of McDonalds goes on record saying they’re not going to run ads targeting gay and lesbians in the US because he’s a “Christian” (http://www.progressivepuppy.com/the_progressive_puppy/2010/06/mcdonalds-chief-no-gay-ads-in-us-because-im-a-christian.html).
This is not an OkayHomo world.
Police Departments are not an OkayHomo world.
And the tragedy of this is that many authors overlook the intense social pressures of Law Enforcement to expand the nature of their characters erotic/romantic journey. As a margin note: I write erotic romance because I believe how we deal with our sexuality and our intimate relationships greatly enhances who we are – “shutting the bedroom door” to me, deprives readers of the most emotional and raw perspectives of people. It’s not salacious…it’s human.
We’re born to fuck.
And men don’t fuck like women. Very few give a crap about virginity except to get it over. Like me, the sooner that shit was done the better. I joked about “notching the bed-post” since age 14. I collected conquests – men and women.
Also, I see no difference between fucking and being fucked. It’s all about getting your rocks off. I do know guys who don’t do anal, but it has nothing to do with top/bottom dynamics. They don’t like penetrative sex. It’s not pleasurable, but it has nothing to do with HOW they view themselves.
A commenter on my Taking the Odds series wrote, “In the beginning he [Nick] comes across as submissive bottom but that abruptly changes in one encounter with Brandon. Very hot here but this sudden sexual preference is puzzling. The same goes for Brandon.”
And I think to myself…what sudden sexual preference? Most all gay and bi men I know (and I know many…a great deal of whom I’ve had some level of sexual encounter with) don’t fit nicely into pigeon holes. Men are fluid. Depends on their partner. Frankly women are fluid…I fuck the gender stereotypes of several women I know who would have sex with me even being completely confused (I’m in the genderqueered spectrum of life) about where I land in the continuum of sexuality.
Okay, in BDSM you’re a DOM, a sub or a SwItCh. And Nick’s a Switch. If he’s with someone more submissive he DOMs, with someone more dominant he subs. That, however, has no relation to whether he takes it up the ass. I’m a DOM, my dude is a sub…I love getting fucked up the ass as much as he does. My favorite activity is to tie him up and then ride him. I’m in complete control…that is not a preference flux. It is a pleasure initiated sexual encounter.
Females seem to equate penetrative sex with being submissive. It isn’t.
For guys, who’s flat on their back is not an issue of weakness.
How does this tie in for the cop stories? Because writers ignore this fertile area of conflict. Hetero-normative males, the ones who fear gay men, support that dichotomy to the umpteenth degree. In their mind, men who fuck men are weak in will and spirit. They dive into crying over miscommunication about a perceived slight. They react like women because it makes them non-threatening. Not that I haven’t know weepy guys, but it takes more than someone challenging them to get them there.
How do I know? Because, I don’t have a man’s body?
Seriously, my guy treats me like a guy…when he perceives I’ve gone overboard on BDSM chatrooms he doesn’t cry and eat ice-cream, he deletes my network access. Proactive punishment of me, not introspective flagellation about his own faults, results. And, btw, he’s the sub in our relationship. Male-centered persons, even submissive ones, take a direct approach to life, even if they’re passive/aggressive like my guy.
The Push-Me-Pull-Me life is fertile ground for relationship 101. Authors who ignore this do themselves a disservice (beyond the follow the lead lemming aspect of some m/m fiction – like tying condoms before trashing them. Okay, there's maybe 1% of men or less who do that… but don’t write it because another author has. Do your own research/polling before writing). If you ignore that we live in a prejudiced, homophobic society, you ignore having your characters rise to a level of heroism that is unparalleled in hetero erotica and romance. It takes a real hero to step up to the plate of hate, stare it down in 1000 eyes and say, “I love this person.”
And that is a true hero.
Visit James on-line at: http://www.james-buchanan.com
Friday, June 25, 2010
Some people just can't, and don't want to, comprehend that to me, enjoying both sexes is like breathing. I can chose not to breath, but eventually I will pass out and my autonomic system will take over and voila! Air will be sucked into my starving lungs.
I can say to myself, I am only going to look at men, particularly my husband. But I would be lying to myself, and him, if I said I actually held to it. Thankfully, he knows I am bi, he accepts that I am bi, and (not so thankfully) he teases me that I am in fact a lesbian. (Generally when he feels we haven't been "close enough" recently enough. TMI I know).
I've known since I was thirteen or fourteen years old that I like girls. It took me until fifteen to realize guys weren't so bad either.
I think women are sexy. The sleek lines of a female body, the curves and valleys. And the sweet scents that women can have. It's enough to turn my head.
Then again, I also like the hard planes of a man's abs, the velvety feel of flesh over toned (and tanned) muscle. Guys can be so very hot!
Yet I find that most of my characters are either one or the other, either heterosexual or lesbian/gay. Other than some very, very, very short erotic pieces, only one story features a ménage couple with a bisexual character, and that is set on a far away planet, where the three are stranded.
I think mostly because being bisexual can be harder at times than being one or the other. (Not saying it always is, that will very by the person, but I know in my personal experience, I have often wished I was just one or the other - straight or lesbian). Even with an understanding husband, there is always fear, and anxiety, and heartbreak. Plus, there are people who make comments like those above - like I chose to be bisexual just to screw with their chances of getting a date.
I want to eventually find a woman who I can be with, who I can enjoy more than a friendship, or a quick fling, with. But I would be asking a damn lot of her, knowing that leaving my husband for her wouldn't be on the agenda. Instead, I would like to have a poly relationship, a truly functional three-way relationship. I could even handle it if she had a man of her own. In fact, that would be the true ideal, to find another married (or at least long-term committed) bisexual woman. Someone who isn't looking for a full-time relationship, but at the same time, someone who also isn't looking for a one-night stand. If her husband should happen to golf, that would be even better. We could sent the guys out golfing and enjoy some quiet time. *wiggles eyebrows*
Yet I know there are so many things that can stand in the way of a poly relationships –jealousy, envy, worry about someone finding out and judging, etc.
So it is very hard for me to create a world where my characters are able to pull off something that I can't even being to mentally plot all the possible issues of. I really marvel at the authors that can.
Maybe one day ...
Thursday, June 24, 2010
This year I joined our local gay pride march. It was my first time at the event. I went as part of our poetry group (The Dead Good Poets). The poetry group is wholly inclusive and I thought it was important to foreground that inclusivity by joining in with the local community activity of the gay pride march. Also, there were free lollipops and I’m a sucker for free lollipops.
Participating in a gay event meant I had to do a couple of things I don’t usually do. Most worrying of all was the fear I would have to ride on a bus. I don’t want to sound like I’m a hater, but I don’t ride on buses. It’s not that I’ve got anything against buses, or people who ride on buses. It’s just not something I choose to do myself.
Fortunately the parade was a slow-moving event and I was able to walk alongside the bus. I was lucky in that regard because I’m not sure I could have lived with myself after doing something that goes so strongly against my character. I firmly believe, if God had intended me to ride a bus, he wouldn’t have given me a car.
The second thing that worried me was the blowing I was expected to do. I was asked to blow up some balloons to decorate the bus. Anyone who has ever known me knows that balloon-blowing interrupts valuable smoking time. I’ve been smoking so long that my lungs have shrivelled to the size of a midget’s spent condom. Consequently, the idea of me producing enough air to fill a balloon was a genuine cause for concern.
Nevertheless, I braced myself for the task and got on with blowing.
Blackpool is, generally, a gay friendly town. The parade was populated with brightly-coloured trailers and included some spectacular floats. Because someone had noticed I was having difficulty blowing up balloons, I was entrusted with a camera and told to go and take nice pictures. This was more in line with my abilities. I was expected to look through a viewfinder and press a button. I eagerly rushed out to take as many photos as possible.
The team from the S&M bar were cheerful and happy to pose for snapshots. A pair of drag queens from the local TV bar had me laughing so hard I couldn’t hold my camera steady. And then I got to chatting with Dorothy on the Wizard of Oz float about the detail on his costume. Dorothy and I were chatting for so long that it wasn’t until one of the munchkins came and told us that the parade was starting that we had to say a swift goodbye and go our separate ways. But I was quite pleased to say I’d become a friend of Dorothy.
And then the parade began.
It was fun.
As I said before, Blackpool is, generally, a gay friendly town. The parade went down a length of the seafront and there were large crowds of people lining the route, shouting support, waving cheerfully, and clearly enjoying the spectacle.
I was giving out of some of the lollipops that had been entrusted in my care (not all of them – I’m not that generous) and I got to waving at the people by the side of the road. There were a handful of Christian protestors who didn’t seem to approve of Gay Pride. I’m not quite sure what their problem was: once you get the tune to It’s Raining Men inside your head, it’s difficult to hear anything else.
I had a wonderful day on the Gay Pride event. I had a chance to catch up with some old friends and make a handful of new acquaintances. The weather was perfect, the atmosphere was light-hearted and cheerful, and the music was YMCA-tastic. I hope to be going again next year, if not for the fun and friendship – certainly for the free lollipops.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I bristle when our stuff gets brushed off as junk by people who pride themselves on not having read it. Having said this, I will confess that so far I haven’t gone out of my way to read gay or lesbian erotica though like anyone I have been exposed to it in the movies. I generally don’t do crits on it, because I’m not qualified to critique work I haven’t read on my own initiative or tried to write.
So what’s holding me back?
There is the obvious of course, I’m not gay. I’m an enthusiastic heterosexual. Searching my soul I don’t see anything like homophobia there, though you can never be sure, and as a good liberal I’m all for gay rights. The reason being I don’t see sexual orientation as a moral decision. An old friend of mine turned out later in life to be a transsexual. When Scott/Wendy told me his/her story, it was basically a journey of misery. This wasn’t something he had wanted for himself, more of a curse he was trying to make peace with. Why would anyone want to be gay or lesbian or even transsexual, considering the persecution they will go through, if they had a choice? I can’t remember any moment in my childhood where Dad sat me down and said “Son, we need to make a plan who you're going to fuck when you grow up – girls or boys? I think its better if you should choose girls so I can have grandkids.” I don’t recall having this conversation with myself either. I do very clearly recall when I was about seven years old, running into a gas station, squeezing my dick through my jeans because I had to pee so bad and running into the men’s toilet the mechanics used and seeing a huge color pinup on the wall over the toilet of a naked woman with big tits. I remember being so awed into stillness by the sight, by the alien fascination of a human body so different from mine, I forgot all about needing to pee.
Lisabet mentioned in her post the difficulties of getting a M/M or F/F story published, partly because of the strict conventions involved. Especially in that form of fiction, where the readers are very politically touchy about how they are depicted. One of the reasons the literary world makes a distinction between “literary” fiction and “popular” fiction, is because of the necessary conventions to each and every genre, and popular genre fiction is hog tied like a Japanese porn star with conventions. It doesn't always need to be good, but it always needs to get sold, and the genre fans know what they want, just like they know if they want pickles on their Whoppers.
In my case, as an apprentice writer, I have a great deal of freedom, which I cherish. Without any fans or even much of a track record, people don’t expect that much from me and I’m not in a hurry to be taken seriously yet. It’s better to be hungry and obscure while it lasts. I think when a writer starts to be successful, to that extent he has something to lose. People and editors expect a sequel to the last novel instead of the one you want to write. The fans begin to own you. They want the same characters back behaving the same way, and they abandon you if you get too far off the tracks. In the case of John Lennon, sometimes they come back looking for you with a gun. Some of us maybe aren’t meant to ever get on the tracks.
There are many contradictions between writers as individuals and the worlds we indulge in. One of the odd things I’ve noticed about erotica writers, including some who specialize in gay M/M stories, is that most of them are heterosexual women, in happy committed relationships with men. I find this unexpected. All I can figure is that men on men is a very erotic thing for women, and those are the women who should write it. So far I have never written a serious gay or lesbian story. I think if I wanted to I could fake it, but I would only be faking it, like Bruce Springsteen singing “The Dancing Queen” or something. People know when you’re faking it most of the time. I would write a M/M story only if there were a truth there for me to explore, because in my case, that is the purpose writing serves. Writing is where I go to converse with my personal demons, and the demons are my muse. I feel a little sorry for a writer who is not seriously screwed up inside to some extent, because it will always be hard for them to come up with interesting stuff.
On several occasions a good friend and I have been discussing BDSM stories and the internal issues of dominance and submission. I explained that after a life of passionate spiritual dedication and utter spiritual failure, I had felt betrayed by God, ultimately disappointed by God. She had remarked that I seemed like a submissive who had been victimized by a very bad dom. This is quite serious, and I agree with her. God is the meanest sonuvabitching dom of them all. How do you go on submitting to a dom who has lost your trust? Religion has everything to do with dominance and submission. As Lisbet described in last weeks post, the ecstatic experience for the submissive is the surrender to trust. People think it’s about pain, and there’s all these jokes about powerful men getting spanked by ladies in black leather for being “a bad boy”. But I think in the real world, it’s the way Lisabet describes it, it’s a spiritual act of surrender and breaking down internal barriers, with a dom as a guide and a means. And for the dom, I suppose it’s the experience of absolute power over an individual and how to wield that power in an unselfish and loving way that brings them deeper within. I know that for the religious ascetic that’s what’s going on. There are forms of Tibetan Buddhism that require guru worship as a necessary part of the path. “Putting your trust in Jesus.” Saying to God “Your will not mine be done.” Believing in God's love in the midst of crushing loss.
See, I can’t do that anymore. That’s the part that’s broken.
One of these days I’m going to write a BDSM story to explore that sore spot and see in what ways it hurts, because for me – that’s what I do.
Not all the time of course. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of fun writing and a lot of what I write isn’t meant to be serious at all. But when I’m in the groove it damn sure is. The Groove for me is that broken area of my life having to do with faith and spirituality and disappointment. That’s the dark place where my Nixie lives, along with some of the other stories I really pour my guts in. I’ve mentioned before, that a writer has to be their own number one fan. This is embarrassing to confess. It’s not a polite thing to discuss with other people. But the shameful secret is - I like my stuff. On a good day, I love it. I like going there with my characters, and there’s not a one of my characters I don’t love. I torture Nixie in my stories. I torment her, and pour my angst into her to the eyeballs because I love her the most of all. I treat her so bad, if I met her on a dark street I think she’d kill me slow and horrible and she’d have every reason to. But what Nixie knows, and you don’t, oh Friends of the Inner Sanctum, is that when I’m alone I read passages of her story and I weep. Physically. Literally. I weep for her story – because it’s my story.
I write because these are my demons, and I weep over my demons, and in return they weep for me. Who knows. Maybe it’s like that for God too when He thinks about us.
"So ist das lieben." Nixie says.
"Shigata ga nai." Lady Dainagon says.
That’s just how it goes.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
But I reserve a special place in my heart, for sexually flexible men.
You know what I'm talking about, ladies. That mythical beast who when asked casually in the middle of a threesome if he'd like to snog the other guy, says something like- uh, sure. Okay. I'll give anything a go, once. The kind of guy who finds himself kind of watching gay porn, and not really turning it off.
And of course I know he likely doesn't exist apart from inside my fevered imagination and in the pages of some of my stories, but a gal can dream, can't she? Perez Hilton isn't always right about everyone being gay and not bisexual no not ever don't you know there's no such a thing? Bisexuals are just kidding themselves!
I don't believe bisexuals are just kidding themselves. And I also believe in sexually flexible men. In fact, I think I'm pretty good at spotting them, too. I mean, come on. This guy has got to be into a little mutual masturbation with a similarly hot and kind of too-into-it friend:
And if this guy doesn't occasionally like disappearing into some bushes for a forage, with some dude he's "just" "friends" with, I'll eat my hat:
It's just a fact. Some guys like it both ways, and I like to think about it and write about it- in fact, much like Lisabet I feel a kind of safety in writing about sexual flexibility and tentative forays into experimentation, because I'm not trampling too much all over a culture that I can only ever know a little bit about.
I understand sexual flexibility. I can relate to that feeling of "oh, uh, maybe, okay then". And therefore I feel qualified to represent it.
Or at the very least, I feel as qualified as I'm ever likely to. Which as usual, isn't very qualified at all.
Monday, June 21, 2010
The first story I sold under the pen name Jay Lygon was Green Mountain Boys. Childhood friends from a small Vermont town spend their last summer day together before one joins the military and the other goes off to college. They’re really childhood sweethearts, but don’t act on it until they’re faced with their final hour together.
Green Mountain Boys (Inside Him, edited by Joel Tan) by Jay Lygon
A smile quirked at the corner of his mouth. He had nice lips. Girls at our high school used to talk about Matt’s mouth, how they knew he had to be a great kisser because of how full his lips were. I always thought his eyes were his best feature.
Matt cocked his head to the side. Locks of hair swept across his face, so he brushed them back. He really had nice eyes. Bedroom eyes. I gulped.
“What’s up, Kurt?”
Until then, I almost had it under control, but I blurted out, “I thought you were coming with me.” I was all shaky inside. Nothing felt real.
“I forgot that Mom mentioned something about a going away party tonight. You know how excited she is that I enlisted. Christ, they probably have cake and ice cream. Do you want --?”
“To come over?” I looked down the lane. Lights glowed from every window of the two-story bed and breakfast. From that distance, I could still make out the gingerbread trim and the white wicker rockers on the long front porch. Tea lights marked the paths through the small herb garden and along the front of the inn.
“No. I’m going home.” That was a shitty way to say goodbye, but there was no way I’d sit there eating cake while Matt’s mom gave me sideways glances, as if she expected me to swipe her good silver.
“Wait a minute. I gotta show you something.” Matt took his time looking up and down the road. “Come on,” he shoved at me until I followed him up the rise and around a bend.
He put his hands on my shoulders first, but moved them to my face. Somewhere between, the touch became a light kiss. Then he stopped. “You gonna hit me?”
I couldn’t even breathe.
“Say something, Kurt.” He looked worried.
Stunned, it took a couple seconds for me to react. I was so relieved that it wasn’t just me. He felt it too.
There was no way we were going to leave it at that little kiss. One kiss meant nothing. I lunged for his mouth. His lips were chapped, but the rough felt good. He turned his head and spit out his gum. That time, we parted lips and tasted tongues. Maybe it was just a kiss, but I felt it everywhere in my body. My heart tried to pound through my chest, and it felt as if every nerve tingled as my dick swelled.“Sweet Jesus, Matt.” I shook all over.
“Don’t you dare get religion on me tonight.”
Matt took my hand and pulled me after him into the woods. We only had moonlight and stars, but it was enough to see our way around the thin white trunks of a stand of beech trees. A firefly zoomed ahead of us, flickering, until I lost sight of it.
Looking back, I’m amazed that I haven’t written more lesbian stories. I think I only have two published, and one is a ghost story with sensual elements, but I wouldn’t call it erotica. So Don’t Fuck With Country Girls is, I suppose, my first published lesbian erotica story.
Don’t Fuck With Country Girls (Lambda Literary finalist anthology Where the Girls Are, edited by DL King) by Kathleen Bradean
My clit is fat and sassy. She peeks out between my lips to lick my panties as I walk up the stairs to the metro station. She knows I’m taking her to you.
People stream out of the station and head to their cars. Few people go into the city this time of day. I can’t understand that. Why desert it just as things are getting interesting? They run to rural Connecticut; I get the hell out.
I close my eyes and count the stations. Then I open them and check the picture of you I printed out. Close cropped blonde hair, an easy smile. You look like the type who laughs in bed. The picture is strangely long and thin though, as if you cropped someone out. Peering closely, I see a disembodied hand on your shoulder. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s no one. My clit tingles and drags my mind back on track. You have nice legs. I can believe it when you say you bicycle everywhere in the city.
The trees outside the train give way to graveyards that seem to go on forever. I’m closer to you. I want to slip my hand into my panties and give my clit one friendly squeeze, but pure intentions have a way of knuckling under my fingertips, so I don’t.
By the time graffiti-covered steel girders surround the train, the wet spot on my panties is slick, and I’m crossing and uncrossing my ankles in frustration. At the station, I push past the people trying to board and take the steps two at a time to the tracks below.
The late summer swelter is trapped underground with nowhere to go. Thermals rise from between my legs and bring the ocean flower scent to my nose while my clit buzzes like a drowsy bee. I clench my thighs closer together and squirm until it feels too good. At the next station, I give up my seat and cling to the overhead bar. The sharp scent of girl sweat makes me close my eyes, as if that will block out the other human smells around me.
The sun is set when I reach the right station. It’s packed, but with the kind of people who never leave the city. I’m swept up the stairs along with them. Laughing to myself, I think of salmon on a spawning run, and then call myself a dork. On the street, my pace keeps up with everyone for a couple yards but slows until I’m standing still, searching for street signs.
You sent good instructions, but they don’t make sense until I turn back and retrace my steps to the right door. The slim bouncer is as impatient as I am. We fumble as we thrust ID and hand stamp between us. Then I’m inside, and I’m frozen, because I don’t want to be caught checking your picture again. I already feel out of place enough. Everyone else wears a polished city patina on their skins. My shoulders slump a little.
If I weren’t there to meet you, I’d work it harder with the girl behind the bar. Her Botticelli hair is slowly escaping the clip that tries to hold it down. Freckles are thick across her nose and continue down into the vee neck of her blue polo shirt. She’s flirty, but I suppose all bartenders are, so I don’t take it personal. Besides, I’m there to meet you, not her.
It’s almost an hour before you come in. My mood has gone through the steps. Denial: Maybe I misunderstood what time you meant. Anger: No I didn’t. Where the fuck are you? Bargaining: You have exactly twelve minutes to show your damn face. Depression: You’re here but you’re hiding from me because I’m not what you wanted. By the time you walk in the door, I’m at Acceptance: Whatever, bitch.
Even though our eyes meet and recognition is plain on your face, you don’t come directly to me. You walk around like some goddamn hostess, leaning over tables and squeezing women’s shoulders as you talk to them.
Your gaze flicks to me, but more often it goes to the slim brunette sitting across the room with two other women. That table you ignore.
Yeah, your legs are great and you’re the type that turns me on, but you’re pissing me off too. My clit retreats, sullen, to stew in her own juices.
Erotica writers tend to mine their fantasies for story material, but even we have personal spaces we don’t often show to the world. Challenger Deep is the closest I’ve ever come to writing myself. It’s one of those stories that meant a lot to me to write, but I cringe at the idea of other people reading it. It’s almost too personal.
A bisexual transgendered bio-woman goes to Guam to spread her father’s ashes over the Challenger Deep trench. She’s been struggling with her need to transition to male. Out on the open ocean, where’s there’s nothing to hide behind, she bares her soul a stranger she’s sure she’ll never meet again.He pleads with her to let her past go and move forward, even though he’s trapped in his regrets.
Challenger Deep (Cream, edited by Lisabet Sarai) by Kathleen Bradean
There were large padded captain’s chairs at the back of his boat for fishers, but I settled onto the worn red cushion under the sun shade and propped my feet on a cooler. I sipped from a cold beer. “Your brother told me that you go out to the Mariana Trench a lot. If there’s nothing there to see, as everyone keeps telling me, why do you go?” I asked.
Tano stared at the water. Damn, pissed him off, and I wanted to sweet-talk him into a little bump and grind. He was just my type-- a jock. It was going to be a very long day if he wasn’t going to talk.
Tano did talk though. His eyes focused past me as if he were remembering a distant, hazy past. ”About three years ago, I was unhappy. I was in love. There was a man... He consumed my heart and soul. I lived for the sight of him. On the day he married a woman, I sailed to the edge of the trench. I hung over the railing, staring into the deep, wondering if I had the balls to jump. Instead, my tears fell. Maybe, they are still falling.”
“The trench is deep,” I agreed. “Seven miles from the surface to the bottom of the Challenger Deep-- the lowest spot along the trench. Pop told me that you could toss Mount Everest down it and still have a mile of water left.” I almost touched the cap, but saw Tano’s teasing smile and held onto my beer instead.
“Big enough to hold all the sorrow in the world.”
Tano leaned far over the side of the boat. It was body poetry, the arc of his lean brown torso, the grip of his long toes on the railing of the boat, the way his hand slapped against the rising waves.
After he swung back onto the deck, he dragged wet fingers across my lips. I licked the drops away.
“Tastes like tears, doesn’t it,” he asked softly.
Our bodies touched.
We stayed there, pressed together, staring down into the water as if it held answers.
“Pop once told me that the human body is mostly seawater.”
Tano smiled slyly. “Does that mean we’re mostly sorrow?”
It was my turn to stare off at the intensely blue water. I ran my fingertips over the lumpy white A on the front of my cap. “Some of us.”
I had to move under the faded red sun shade to stay in the short shadows. Noon already.
He watched me out of the corner of his eye. “It’s a strange thing to be doing, burying your father. Usually the son does that, around here.”
I peeled the label off my beer bottle with my fingernails, trying, as usual, to take it off in one piece. Another superstition. I wasn’t even sure what curse a whole label blocked.
What the hell, he came out to me.
“I’m not a woman. I mean, not inside. Just on the surface.” I got the big label off and worked on the smaller one at the neck of the brown bottle. “I was supposed to be a boy. I have two older sisters. They’re girls.”
I knew that sounded stupid. I set aside my beer.
“I mean, they’re girly-girls. Real girls. Inside and out. Not me. See, everyone knows if the two older kids are the same sex, the third child is the last try for the other. Mom even told me that the only name they had picked out was Eric. In the hospital, they slapped the A on the end to make me Erica.”
I pulled off my hat. I worked my hands around it in an unending circle while I spoke to the inside of the cap. “I would have made a great boy. I hung around Pop and helped him work on the cars. I was the only one who went to baseball games with him. We both liked gingersnaps and root beer.” As if that described the bond we shared that excluded my Mom and sisters. I was Pop’s son in every way but the one that mattered to me.
Tano asked, “Do you like girls?”
I gave him that frank look that I learned in bars, the one that got men to follow me to dark corners. “The individual person matters more than the gender. Men, I understand. Women are like a separate tribe with weird rituals and a different language. I don’t get women, but I like making love to them. I like men too. More.”
“You like everyone except you.” He sipped from his beer. “I only like men.”
Wave. Trough. White foam. In the distance, the water was unrelenting blue, but the crest curling off the bow of the boat was green and gray. Nothing was different, yet primal instinct told me that I was in danger.
Intense pressure squeezed my chest as if I dove into the depths. “What is it?”
He answered in a whisper, “We’re over the trench.” He cut the engines. Even the waves were hushed, as if we’d stepped inside a great cathedral.
The swells knocked the boat.
“Is it always like this?”
He nodded. His pale eyes were as wide as mine. It didn’t seem possible, but we could feel it, the void below us. I stared up at the azure sky, afraid that if I looked down, like a cartoon character, I’d fall.
I didn’t think I believed in such things, but I swore I felt the immense presence of god.
I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I lurched to my backpack and pulled out the box of Pop’s ashes.
“Maybe you shouldn’t drop your father over the side. Maybe you should throw in your sorrow, like I did. Let it sink.”
“It’s not that easy.”
Tano snatched my A’s cap off my head. He tossed it onto the waves like a Frisbee.
“Hey!” I was too afraid to jump in after it even though I was a great swimmer.
That much water could drown you, I thought. The weight of it would drag you under the surface. You’d never see the sun again.
My hat bobbed on top of a far wave, disappeared on the rolling surface, reappeared even further away.
“That was the A at the end of your name. Now, you are Eric.”
My mouth open and shut like a hooked fish.
“Your life as a man has begun.”
He was an idiot. He didn’t understand. “It isn’t that easy. It can’t be that easy.”
“But what if it is? That hat was a gris-gris, a magic charm. Throw it away, and throw away the A that made you into a girl.”
Anger welled up behind my eyes.
Tano pleaded with me. “Believe just enough to make it real. Go back to shore as a man. You don’t know when to being? Begin now! Right now! Because the now is the only time you ever really have.”
My throat was too tight to breathe.
“I let my moment pass. I’m stuck in a now that never ends, the man I want living with someone else. Before that happened, I should have acted,” Tano told me, and I saw tears in the corners of his eyes. “Don’t waste your now, your chance.”
The hat slowly absorbed water, growing darker. The big white A on the front sank lower as it absorbed tears. When it was full of them, it fell below the surface. Feeling as if I were drowning, I gasped in salt air.
“You can only tread water so long before the misery will pull you under. It’s not sink or swim. It’s sink or fly.”
The hat was gone. Could I cast off my outer self as easily as he cast away my hat? I inhaled again and relaxed my fists.
“I only like men,” Tano reminded me.
He came to me, wrapping his arms around my waist. I felt his dick against my thigh. He kissed me, and it was like kissing the sea. I tasted the salt on his mouth and felt the tug of his chapped skin over my smooth lips. His skin was hot from the sun.
I was Eric. Kissed, suddenly I was a prince.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
June is officially GLBT Pride month, so I thought we should celebrate at the Grip by discussing same-sex relationships. Since I bored everyone last week with my personal BDSM confessions, I don't think I'll talk about my own limited but precious same-sex experiences. Instead, I'll focus on writing same-sex erotica and erotic romance.
I've published a fair amount of M/M and F/F material, including my most recent novel Necessary Madness and my story "Rush Hour" in D.L.King's Lambda finalist collection Where the Girls Are. As I mentally reviewed my GLBT work, I came to an unexpected realization. More often than not, my same-sex pairs are not exclusively gay or lesbian.
My characters may be attracted to someone of their own gender, but they don't usually identify themselves as an official member of the corresponding homo-erotic community. Quite often, they have some experience with, and even desire for, the opposite sex. Even in my M/M romance (where, I've discovered, introducing any M/F interaction can be the kiss of death from a marketing perspective) a character may have a heterosexual back story. Rob Murphy, the hunky cop in Necessary Madness, is divorced with two kids. He's primarily interested in other men, but he doesn't fit completely into the gay pigeon-hole.
In my same-sex erotica, bisexual characters are common. My story "Clean Slate", which will appear in Rachel Kramer Bussel's upcoming collection Smooth, involves a young woman with a history of gang membership who has become engaged. The emotional trauma of having her gang tattoos removed (as required by her fiancé) drives her into the arms of the curvaceous laser therapist who has been erasing the past from her skin. In "Mad Dogs", my first male-male story, the protagonist finds himself aroused by a gay orgy even though he's never had a homo-erotic fantasy in his life:
The place reeks of fish and rusted iron. Under these raw smells, I catch a whiff of Bom’s sandalwood cologne. He has lapsed into Thai with his cohorts, abandoning any attempts to communicate with me. Still, he makes sure that the bottle in front of me is always full.
Overwhelmed by the beer and the day’s events, I must have slept. I wake, disoriented, in near-darkness. A halogen lamp mounted on the next pier sends uneven shafts of light into the shack, but until my eyes adjust, I can barely see anything.
The chairs clustered around the formica-topped table are all empty. The table itself is littered with dozens of empty bottles. The room is quiet enough that I can hear the river lapping against the piles that support the building.
Then I recognize the sound of breathing. As this is sinking in, somebody moans.
“Bom?” There’s a creaking sound off in the corner.
“Here, Gary.” His voice is muffled. Someone bursts into laughter, which breaks off suddenly to become a groan of pleasure.
I’m beginning to be able to make out my surroundings. There’s some kind of platform at the far end of the room. The platform is covered with pale, writhing, naked bodies.
“Come on, Gary,” Bom coaxes. He is on his knees, poised above the prone body of one of his friends. Even in the dimness, I can see the gleam of his perfect skin, the smile on his ripe lips, the saliva dripping down his chin. He bends once more to the cock jutting up in front of him.
Another of his mates is positioned behind Bom’s hips. He grabs Bom’s buttocks, pulls them open, and begins lapping at his friend’s anus.
I think that I should be disgusted, but I’m not. I’m fascinated. My cock hardens rapidly. If I were sober, I’d probably find this alarming, but at the moment, it seems completely normal. I unsnap, unzip, and wrestle my cock into the open air. It swells further, grateful to be set free. I stroke it slowly, root to tip, my attention fixed on the scene in front of me.
For a while the action is languid, dreamy, slow motion caresses punctuated every now and then by a sharp intake of breath or a sudden groan. My cock surges in my hand in reaction. I can hear the slurp of tongues against wet flesh, but it’s a bit difficult to see the details.
Hardly realizing what I’m doing, I move closer, still stroking myself. The guy with his face buried in Bom’s ass sits back on his haunches. He looks over at me and grins as he rolls a condom over his impressive prick. He says something in Thai. Bom hikes his rear up higher. He wiggles his butt in invitation.
One of my favorite stories, "A Quiet Evening at Home", begins with the main character going to visit her boyfriend and noticing the woman sharing the lift:
Even by New York City standards, the woman next to me in the elevator was exotic. Skin like dusky velvet, pomegranate lips, eyes that you could drown in. One earlobe displayed seven gold rings of decreasing diameter, while a gold chain looped through the other and dangled to her bare shoulder. Her jet hair, elaborately braided and beaded, hung down to her waist.
Full breasts strained against her crimson tank top, which was damp with sweat. Her cutoff shorts were ragged and dusty, but they showed off the lovely swell of her hips to fine advantage. Red nail polish screamed from her fingers and her sandal-clad toes, all of which were decorated with rings of silver.
She was laden down with two obviously heavy bags of groceries, plus a purse and a huge tote bag. There was a sheen of perspiration on her brow. I could smell her natural musk, delicately augmented by some floral scent. I took a deep breath.
I could come up with many other examples, but I think I've made my point.
I think there are two reasons why my same-sex stories are not gender-exclusive. First, I don't have much real-world experience with gay and lesbian subcultures, but I have enough to know that the reactions can be fierce if you don't get the details right. Butches, femmes, bois, trannies, leather daddies, bears and bikers—the official GLBT world is complex, mysterious and highly politicized. I don't want to screw up and earn the scorn of the people who dream up and apply these labels. I don't mean to sound sarcastic. I'm certain these distinctions are meaningful and important to the people who have created them. I humbly admit that I don't fully understand this world and probably never will.
Second, I personally believe that sexual desire transcends biological gender, that practically everyone has some potential for being aroused by a member of his or her own sex. The guardians of the labels will probably disagree. My philosophy is unquestionably influenced by my own polymorphously perverse psychology. I'm attracted to both men and women—specific individuals, not entire classes—so it's easy for me to believe that other people are the same. Many of the individuals with whom I've been intimate have similar opinions, but this could be self-selection. Readers at least do not seem to find my switch-hitting characters implausible—or maybe they're just too turned on to be critical! (I can only hope!)
On the rare occasions when I write strictly gay or lesbian characters, they often don't fit into the expected mold. Loretta, the young lesbian software engineer in “Velvet” (in BLE 2009), breaks up with her girlfriend because Rhys criticizes her for wearing make-up and keeping her hair long.
Fortunately, GLBT includes the “B”, bisexual. So I guess I'm qualified to celebrate GLBT Pride Month with everyone else. Each of us writes what comes naturally. In my case, that means characters whose sexual identification is fluid. For me, one lover can be male, another female—each relationship is with an individual, not with a gender label.
I'm wondering about the limits, though. For a long time I've been chewing on an idea for a sci-fi erotic romance in which one of the characters is a hermaphroditic mutant. I think it would be a delicious challenge to write love scenes in which the male or female aspects of this character's sexuality were alternately ascendant. Publishers to whom I've pitched this idea have been uniformly unenthusiastic—not about the idea per se but about it's commercial prospects.
What the heck—I may write it anyway, just to explore the potential. Who knows? Now that vampires are getting tired, maybe hermaphrodite tales will be the Next Big Thing.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Erotic communication is hot, scary, and transformative stuff: saying, clearly, what we want, in the moment that we want it—not to get all heavy on you, but that’s the stuff of liberation. In 8 years of leading erotic writing workshops, what I’ve found is that once we learn to do that about our sex, we find it more compelling to say what we want for and in other parts of our lives as well: at the office, from our friend-love relationships, with our families—erotic honesty has that kind of ripple effect. There are so many walls built around us clearly articulating our desires, so when we cross those societally-sustained boundaries by saying what we want/need/are curious about, something opens in us. We have freed ourselves to risk—and though maybe it never gets easy, I think the first times are the hardest.
Dorothy Allison, in an interview with Michael Rowe (in Writing Below the Belt (Richard Kasak Books, 1995), says, “Sexually, I have a fetish about truth telling. It does help in my work. I find it profoundly arousing to watch somebody struggle to articulate their desires. One of the things my girlfriend and I say […] is that you can have anything you want if you have the courage to ask for it. But having that courage to ask for it, wow! So we set up situations where you can have anything, honey—you just have to be able to ask for it” (p. 18).
This erotic engagement with desire-naming absolutely resonates with me, and feeds my own writing. I read this quote as a prompt at my erotic writing workshop a month ago, and then wrote the following in response:
Jaden has put her in front of him, on the shaggy old rust-colored couch, and Cara’s hair falls, mussed and fair, around her flushed cheeks. He says, “Say it again.” Then a pause. “Please.”
They’d been making out against the inside of her front door, she’d clutched hard to his neck, his growing hair, the place on his chest they call pecs now. She’d leaned in chest first, was learning not to lead with thigh-to-crotch during a make-out session, was learning not to feel through layers of denim for the heat of a cunt, she was unlearning lesbianism on her ex-girlfriend-now-boy-trick’s new body.
Cara says, “It’s still true. You know me. You can have whatever you want.”
His dark eyes serious, Jaden tries to hold his dinner down, so horny and terrified he could die. His palms sweat against his thighs; he feels the material darken.
“But I want to hear you say it, Jaden,” she continues. “You have to tell me.” She throbs hot, rough, with the speaking of it. The dim light in her Haight flat grows shallow as the summer fog rolls in outside.
When they’d been girlfriends, though at first the sex was molten, J– wouldn’t speak, refused to say what s/he wanted. Refused to admit s/he ached. It’d made Cara crazy with the echoing silences inside her, and she longed to physically pry open J–‘s mouth, force the words out. She could deal with being shoved around, as long as she’d been asked for it—but the silent, intense fucking they did made her feel like she was in high school still, and she was ready to be a grown up. So she’d left.
Three years later, it’s Jaden, not J–, here across from her, sitting on the ottoman. He opens his thin, red lips; his fingertips shake.
“I want to—” His voice high, thin, he clears his throat. Begins again. Deeper. Steady. “I’m going to stand and drop these pants. I want you to stay right there. I want you to look at me, then I want you to take me in your mouth, Cara.”
And again: “Please.”
The desire to shove him over, take him, rushes through her and she has to sit on her hands. He unbuckles his wide dark belt, pauses.
“Ok?” One eyebrow cocked, and that bare grin just pushing at his cheeks.
“Yes, Jaden. Ok,” she says, holding his gaze down into her. “You asked for it. It’s yours now.”
Jaden stands then, a little unsteady, his hands still on his belt. He knocks the ottoman back a bit on the scratched hardwood floor with the heels of his worn boots. He unbuckles and unzips and drops, and Cara has before her again those thighs, that fur, that she’d known and not known, had ached for and barely been allowed to look at, let alone stroke with hands or tongue. His cock sits small and hard, new, nothing reconstructed, just released finally by T and Jaden’s own need. The flanks that had been flush and rounded are now covered over with denser hair, were newly angular. Cara doesn’t want to mourn for what was lost, just lets that recognition wash through her, then she raises her eyes to Jaden’s face.
He watches her, doesn’t know what to do with his hands, has never asked anyone to taste his flesh. Not ever. The street noises get thick outside the windows as nighttime crowds in around the edges of their silence. Cara holds her tongue, her mouth flooding. Jaden wants to do this, right, wants her mouth all around him.
He says, “Slow, now, I want you to get on your knees.”
Cara lets herself fall forward, just in front of his boots, onto her hands. Slips off the couch, then pushes back up onto her knees, thighs, snags her hair out of her eyes. She doesn’t drop her mouth open. Not yet. But wants to. She can smell him, like an echo of his old musk with this new self lanced through, not chemically, exactly, but heavy.
She wants that scent all over her face.
He says, “Now—now. Put your hands on either side of my cock. Like, on my thighs.” His voice is wavery, like he had to push it through glass to slow it down.
She grins against her wet teeth, lips slipping open easy. She puts her hands, finally, there on Jaden’s body, tries not to think of J–, not on the slipping thumbs in, pressing open. Jaden puts his hands on her face, then, pushes her hair back.
I want to get you ready.” He puts his thumbs between her lips, then draws out her saliva, that thick wet, and spreads it across her lips, holds her jaw open. “No, stay just like that” when she tries to move in, close her mouth around his flesh, suck hard, claim what was finally his and about to be hers.
He draws his hands away from her mouth, then says, “Now I’m gonna take your mouth, babe. You ready?”
Cara nods, mouth open, lips slick with what he’d thumbed over her, throat dry. She nods and nods.
“You have to tell me you’re ready, Cara,” he grins a little, that flash-sharp cheek-splitting grin J– used to give her, and she doesn’t tear up. Her cunt drops open with joy.
She says, “I’m ready. You might not be, though,” and grins herself. They hold each other that way, gazing back and forth at past and now, just for a moment. She lets him lead her open mouth onto his hot, tight flesh, she suctions on with a fierce kind of desperation to the root of him, and listens as he finally cries out for want of more of her touch, for more of her mouth, for more—
What desires are your characters hiding from, too scared to say out loud? I encourage you to set them in a situation where they finally have to speak the words—then just stand back, keep your pen moving, and watch the sparks fly (on the page and in your own good self).
Bio: Jen Cross is a writer, performer, facilitator, and femme dyke incest survivor. Her writing appears in over thirty anthologies and periodicals, including Make/Shift, Nobody Passes, Visible: A Femmethology (Vol. 1), Best Sex Writing 2008, Best Women's Erotica 2007, and many more. She tours with the Body Heat Femme Porn Tour, for which she’s produced two chapbooks: unconsummated and pink and devastating. She’s featured at such Bay Area literary events as Femina Potens’ Sizzle, Writers With Drinks, the National Queer Arts Festival, Perverts Put Out, the Queer Open Mic, and LitQuake’s LitCrawl. Jen has facilitated sexuality and survivors writing workshops since 2002, and leads workshops at Writing Ourselves Whole in San Francisco and at colleges and organizations across the country. She received her MA in Transformative Language Arts from Goddard College, and is a certified facilitator of the Amherst Writers & Artists method. Visit writingourselveswhole.org to learn more!
Friday, June 18, 2010
We are also marvelously capable of miscommunication.
Yet we can manage to say something, have it mean one thing, and have it interpreted as something completely different quite well.
I marvel at those who are capable of making themselves perfectly understood all the time. Because I have been married twelve years, and we lived together two years before that, and we still have miscommunications rearing their ugly heads from time to time. And we understand either other normally.
I've learned from years of working with the public, that human communication is less about the words you use, and more about what the other person wants to think that you said. If someone is spoiling for a fight, they will twist anything you say, regardless of tone, word choice, body language, etc. Likewise, if someone wants to read something sexual into your words, they will.
One of the authors at the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, a guest to the blog a few weeks back – Mike Kimera, had a tagline on his emails that has always stuck with me. It said: "What you read is not what I wrote. I supply the text, you supply the meaning."
To me, truly effective communication is having the person I am talking to on the same page enough that their interpretation of my words matches my meaning when I said them.
Beyond that … it's all a matter of did they warn you about a snake? Or a leopard? Me, I'm gonna look around for both, cause who the heck knows which one they meant.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
One of the biggest revelations I had during my years as a mature student came when we were introduced to Gricean Maxims and the Cooperative Principle.
I took linguistics by accident. There were a lot of boxes on the form and my pen was leaking. All it took was a dribble of ink in the wrong place, and the next thing I knew: I was sitting through a series of lectures discussing Politeness Theory, Pragmatics and, of course, Grice’s Cooperative Principle.
Grice, a renowned sociolinguist and philosopher, said:
“Make your contribution such as it is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged.”
It’s a wordy quote, and starts to drift into obscurity before it’s completely finished. The whole thing could be adroitly summarised with the words ‘Talk properly and be nice.’ Grice seemed to realise this because he produced four maxims to explain how communication should (and invariably does) occur. According to Grice, effective communication comes about through each utterance observing (at least) one of the following maxims:
The maxim of quality – is it true?
The maxim of quantity – is too much being said? Or too little?
The maxim of relation – is it appropriate? Is it a non sequitur?
The maxim of manner – is it clear?
I’m not going to prattle on about Grice for much longer. I just wanted to share my joy from when I took this lesson and discovered how true and useful the whole theory could be. It’s proved especially useful for me as a writer because, when I’m putting words into the mouths of characters, I can now see how to make exchanges seem more credible.
A: Do you own a red shirt?
If B owns a red shirt, then the conversation has been successful and none of the maxims have been flouted or violated and there are no hidden implicatures in the exchange. Quality has been observed because B has told the truth. Quantity has been observed because B has given sufficient information. It’s a clear and appropriate response so that means the maxims of manner and relation are accounted for. But, what if the exchange varied slightly?
A: Do you own a red shirt?
B: No. I own an Alexander Amosu bespoke tailored shirt in crimson. It cost more than my car and it’s the one I wear on very special occasions and never lend out.
We can see in this example that the answer is still yes, B owns a red shirt. Yet B’s response begins with the word NO. Does this mean B is lying and violating the maxim of quality? No. B is only flouting the maxim because the remainder of the utterance explains the point. B owns a red shirt, but it’s not a mere shirt.
B goes on to name the tailor, hint at the expense of the shirt, and talk about its status as a treasured item of wardrobe apparel. Is this violating the maxims of quantity or relation? No. Again, B is only flouting maxims. The implicature in this utterance is: I’m sorry, A, but you’re not borrowing my red shirt.
Which, on the face of it, might seem like a dull branch of linguistics. But, when you think how this shapes conversation, it begins to seem extremely exciting. Compare the above example with the one below.
A: Do you have a red shirt?
A: May I borrow your red shirt?
B: No. It was expensive.
I know. I’m a word geek. And, in the real world, the application of Grice’s theory is as useful as a diarrhoea hat. But I still find it one of the most fascinating areas of linguistic study and it’s one of the key components I consider when creating dialogue for my communicating characters.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
There’s this fantasy I’ve had for practically my whole life, okay? This is a real fantasy I’m sharing. Dig.
When I was a kid around 16 or 17 I used to mow lawns for money around the neighborhood. There was this one woman, Mabel Krause, something like that. German. I would say looking back she was around her mid or late fifties, probably dead by now. She had a tall, matronly body with teutonic Wagnerian boobs swaying under tight sweaters, even in the summer. Well, you see it coming already. I mow the lawn. Its hot. She’s there. She’s horny and bored. She has a secret thing for young men as I have always had a thing for older women. Time to pay for the lawn.
This of course is where it always varies. Just as jazz musicians like to toss off a melody and then noodle around with a dozen variations of it, there are dozens of thrilling variations of what happens after she opens the door and invites me in to offer me payment for the lawn work. After all, an older woman knows when a young man is sneaking stares at her chest, even when he tries to hide it. And after all, there are more memorable ways to thank him for a job well done besides mere money.
One of these variations goes like this. Payment. Well, young man, there are many ways of payment. I can give you five dollars (This was many years ago. The rates have gone up.) or I can offer you something else. Ohh, I bleat, wide eyed and calf like. Like what, Mrs. Krause? She pulls her sweater off over her head and tosses it in a fetchingly bitchy manner over her shoulder as she shakes out her hair. She unbuttons the top buttons of her blouse and takes a deep breath or so. Let’s go into the other room. It’s cooler there. This is the time of day I like to take a nap. Would you like to take a nap too?
Okay and then this and that, which ends up in a predictable manner unless I can think of an unpredictable manner. But after its done, basking in the sweaty glow on top of the bed spread, I the too young – barely legal man say “You know. About what just happened. I mean, I know you can tell anyway, but really I don’t know anything about how to fuck. But I want to. Let’s make a simple deal, Mrs. Krause – “
“I think after what you’ve just done, you can call me Mabel.”
“Mabel. I have an offer for you. Teach me about women. Teach me how to make love to a woman the right way. In return you can have me. You can use me for your personal sex toy every afternoon, everything, any crazy weird thing you’ve ever wanted to do with a man’s body and were afraid to ask. You can do it with me. Just us two. Use me to explore yourself. What do you say?”
And so on and so on.
I think things like this really happen.
Somewhere out there in the wicked world a young man with more exciting karma than I was bestowed with is washing the lawn clippings off his face in the bathroom sink and a woman old enough to be his mother is standing just behind him biting her lip and curling her toes and wondering if she should invite him to use her shower. Somewhere, as you read these words this is actually happening. Somewhere in The Naked City, a young man is laying or sitting up nude in bed, having just rinsed off his dick in the bathroom sink, and a much older, also nude, woman is giving him some prosaic explanations and impromptu gynecology lessons about how to interact with the female body, much like a master musician instructing a particularly bright student after a vigorous practice.
Somewhere, oh Friends of The Inner Sanctum, this is really going on.
I think it happens all the time, these taboo affairs, especially these days when everything is so much out in the open. I wonder what women, especially erotica women writers reading this would do if a young man offered them this Faustian bargain? Make me your dildo with a heart beat. Teach me everything you wish a lover would know. Dress me in Batman clothes. Handcuff me to the bed with a Barrack Obama mask on election night. I will submit myself to your wildest desires absolutely and unquestioningly. Exhaust yourself on the monkey bars of my young virile anatomy. Then wash me off and do it all again.
People do this. Turn objects into people. Turn people into objects. That’s not what’s interesting, that’s just human nature. What’s interesting is the shadow part of us that wants them to do this to us.
I’m currently finishing a story anthology which I hope will be out this summer. One of the stories is called “El Pimientero Mi Amor” which was a goofy story I’d written a couple of years ago and kind of forgotten about until Lisabet advised me to dig it out and give it another look. I did and in the process I began to understand what the story was really about, as so often happens. Now I really like this story. It’s a hell of a story I think, but I needed someone to give me a reason to take it out of the drawer. It takes my teenage fantasy, plus a woman I knew who was one of the great teachers of my life (I have written of her here several times) and brings them into some substance. It is my valentine to older women. To make a long story short (and its pretty long) it involves a young man named Chacho and a much, much older woman named Doña Soledad. In its earlier drafts, and it’s been rewritten four times before I had to take a deep breath and make myself stop, it was a kind of revenge story. Now there’s a lot of things going on in this story about lost love and regret. He doesn’t mow lawns for her, he runs a movie projector for her movie house, but by and by they end up where I would’ve liked to have ended up with Mabel Krause.
During a scene in the kitchen she is giving him lessons on cunnilingus for his future performance someday with his future bride – all very chaste – with a kind of lab practice using kitchen objects such as a split half of a papaya, which represents a method of licking, and a stalk of okra which represents another form of licking. Anyway, it makes some kind of sense when you read it, which I hope you will all unlimber your wallets and do someday. Later on these innocent kitchen props return as she calls them out to him in her bed:
I shifted and laid down next to her on my left side, side by side, face up close to her face. She pecked my lips with hers. “I’m in love with you.” I said, testing to see if the storm was passed.
“I’m so in love with you too.” she said. “Isn’t that ridiculous?”
“Not to me.” I said. “No.”
She wiggled closer, threw her leg over mine and then enfolded her arms around me. Face close. She pressed her mouth to mine, lips tight. Teeth. Her tongue touching mine. My tongue lacing and licking hers. I was the happiest man in the world.
“Okay.” she whispered. “So we’re both lost. Then we’ll just have to be lost.”
She pressed me down like a wrestler and rolled me onto my back. She straddled me from above, breasts dangling down. Her lips kissed my eyes, my forehead, my cheek. “So, then.” she whispered again. She sat up straight, made some decision and then crawled up over me. She blocked out the ceiling like a giant, as I looked up at her belly overhead, and she spread her legs into a wide stance, her knees on each side of my head. Above my face, her pussy stretched, wide, wet, aromatic. She lowered it delicately onto my mouth and I felt the welcoming wet slick again framing my lips. I wormed my hands and arms under her thighs to brace her and keep her steady and held that mighty ass in my hands. I felt the big nub of her clit push between my lips.
“Okra.” she said.
With her ass planted in the saddle of my hands, I sucked her thick clit into my lips again and played with it, felt around with my tongue and found the tiny noodle tip of her. I played the rim of it, touched it, pressed my tongue tip to it, wiggled it and lifted it like the okra bud. Above me, I felt her ass moving in my hands as she pressed down harder, and I had to turn my head a little to catch a breath.
Her voice was heavy now, thick and drunk with pleasure. She moved her hips up and down. I laid the flat of my tongue hard against her pussy lips, sticking it out flat and broad as if I were at the doctor’s. She rubbed her cunt lips slowly across the flat of my tongue up and down. She made noises now, grunting and moaning, maybe for me, maybe for herself. She was suddenly full of guttural noise. I wrapped my forearms around her ass and pulled her pussy down hard on my mouth and she ground herself fiercely against me so that I had to hold my breath.
Her pussy lips shuddered. She snarled like a jaguar and hunched her back. “Dios! Fuck!” she yelled at the window. There was that funny shaking against my tongue again from deep inside her pussy.
She reached back her hand and slapped my face so hard I saw squirming stars against the shadow of her belly. She took a deep long breath and let it out. “Don’t think you know me.” Thick and hostile, her voice, like a mean drunk. “Don’t you ever fucking think you know shit about me, little boy.”
Then she began again. “Okra!”
I like this Doña Soledad. Hell, I’d mow her lawn any day.