Sunday, March 14, 2010

True Confessions

By Lisabet Sarai

“Is that wild scene based on your own experience?”

“You couldn't have made that up—it's true, isn't it?”

“Did you really do that?”

When you write erotica, you get asked questions like this all the time—in a conspiratorial, awed tone, the interrogator hoping against hope for a salacious confession.

I blush a bit and try to look respectable. “Well—um—actually, yes. Quite a lot of it, anyway.”

I don't subscribe to the position that you must have direct, personal knowledge of a topic in order to write about it. Nevertheless, I have to admit that I've had a decent range of erotic adventures, possibly more than the average author. I've been involved in several ménages, both M/F/M and F/F/M. I've visited sex clubs and belonged to a social group advocating open marriage. I've been tied up, spanked and whipped, been blindfolded and had hot wax dripped on my tender parts. I've done a bit of spanking myself, though not much. I've had sex that involved whipped cream and olives (at different times!). I've driven topless in a convertible sports car along Mulholland Drive (a scene that shows up in Ruby's Rules). I've been penetrated by a bedpost (a detail that made its way into Raw Silk). I've made love in an airplane toilet, in the seat of a Greyhound bus, and on the floor of a church surrounded by a hundred other people (admittedly in a sleeping bag).

I don't mean to make this a checklist and I hope this doesn't sound like I'm bragging. I didn't intend to become a sexual explorer. It just sort of happened.

I've used many of my own experiences as inspiration in my writing. The fact is, though, my memories are just a starting point. Real world sex scenes are rarely as perfect as the ones we craft in our stories. Fear, shame, crossed signals, regret, physical limitations and psychological barriers all come into play in real erotic encounters but tend to vanish in most of our fiction.

Meanwhile there are many variations on the erotic that I haven't experienced, but still want to weave into my stories. Homoerotic action is probably the biggest item on my wish list. I've never seen men having sex in the flesh. Serious lesbian interaction is another area where I'm a novice. I'm very attracted to women and have played with them in the company of a man, but I've never had the chance to enjoy a woman on my own (other than some very early experiments when both I and my companion were totally clueless). Then of course, there are many BDSM scenarios that I never got the opportunity to explore in the relatively brief relationship I talked about last week.

The fact is, my writing, especially my earlier work, says much more about my fantasies than it does about my experiences. Raw Silk in particular is a compendium of my favorites. Take, for example, the scene in which Gregory (the dominant) orders Kate to dress in a wig and a skimpy costume and perform on stage at his Bangkok sex bar. During the two years we lived in Thailand, my husband and I used to visit the go-go bars quite frequently. I'd watch the lovely dancers writhe seductively on the stage and desperately want to be up there myself. I wanted to feel the lust of the audience—to encourage that arousal. In fact I did climb up on the platform a few times, much to the delight of the staff, but in my street clothes. Kate gets to pretend she's one of the bar girls; Gregory even “forces” her to do a sex show with another dancer. Nothing like this ever happened, but I loved to think about it.

I reprise the same fantasy in Exposure. “I strip for the fun of it,” Stella asserts. Exactly my feelings.

Another cherished fantasy appears near the end of Incognito. Mark and Miranda are visiting London for a conference. Mark dresses Miranda up as a boy and takes her to a gay men's club, where they have a threesome in the loo. I've always found this scenario intensely arousing. Alas, there's little chance I could ever fulfill this fantasy. Unlike Miranda, who's tall and willowy, I'm barely 5'2” and 'way too curvy to ever make a convincing man. Ah well. That's why I put it into the book!

As I've matured as an author, I've tried to diversify the erotic elements in my tales. I have deliberately made the attempt to write about scenes and desires beyond my experience. I believe that I've had some success, but that's partly because my horny past has left me open to new twists and kinks. With all the wild things I've done, all the people I've loved and pleasured, I know that I've only scratched the surface of the erotic universe.

Imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac. And it's far more interesting than any truth.


  1. Hi, Lisabet,

    First of all, thanks for clearing that up about the whipped cream and olives being done at separate times, because whipped creams and olives together? That would be just wrong on so many levels.

    It's interesting how people think that if you write erotica, you've actually done all the things about which you write. If you wrote murder mysteries, I doubt they would they assume you are either a murderer or a detective, nor would anyone assume you are an alien or an android, if you write science fiction.

    In any case, I think it's wonderful that you've actually experienced many of the things you write about. I don't think I've ever actually itemized my sexual adventures, but I'm pretty sure I haven't been quite as adventurous as you. It isn't a competition, of course, but reading your list, I realize that for my part, it isn't so much a lack of desire to do the whole erotic adventure laundry list, but lack of opportunity and the urge to "stay low." i.e. The desire to experience vs the desire to be safe. I wonder what percentage of erotica writers actually start out with the thought, "I'm going to be a sexual adventurer and then write all about it." Few, I suspect. It's probably more a matter of finding the adventures, fantasizing about others, and then, in retrospect, thinking, "I should write about some of this stuff."

    I also wonder how many more things I might have done, had I taken up writing erotica much earlier in my life...just for research purposes, of course.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. A fascinating look behind the scenes of a [more erotically adventurous] fellow erotica writer.


  2. Lisabet,

    Fantastic post. And it's good to hear about the real life scenes that have been the muse for such memorablbe scenes as the ones you mentioned.

    This is going to be an interesting week.


  3. Hi Lisabet!

    Yes, fantasic post. You have a way of bringing out the voyeur in me. If there were no such thing as erotica, I think you would have invented it.

    Anyway. You;ve heard me express my sexual envy and goddess-worship of you before. If I had it to do over, your experiences are the ones I would covet for my own. I'm not convinced anymore that God likes relgiious people, if he likes anyone at all. I think what God likes are probably the bold people. You have lived your life boldly in so many ways.


  4. Hello, Rose,

    I had no idea that I was going to become an erotica author for most of my life. I didn't publish my first book until I was 46 and most of my more extreme adventures were behind me. (At least, I THINK they are behind me, though one never knows about the future!)

    I've always been fascinated by erotic desire, though, so I suppose that fascination has driven both my experiences and my writing. Certainly, I never planned to write about this stuff while I was involved.

    It's great to have you here at the Grip. I do hope you'll continue to drop by as often as you can.


  5. Hello, Ash,

    Well, you know, you use what you've got. As I said in my reply to Rose, I never expected any of these experiences to make their appearance in print!


  6. Hello, Garce,

    I was recently rereading a journal from the most sexually active period in my life. And do you know what I talk about most in those entries? God. I'm serious. At the time I viewed this astonishing flowering of my sexual self as a divine gift and a path to spiritual understanding.

    I was not "religious" in the traditional sense. I had no formal affiliation, though I'll always admit to being Jewish for cultural reasons. But I believed (as I still do) in a Spirit of creativity, order and love, a source of comfort and a fount of miracles, inside each of us. And I felt that I was in the midst of a miracle, a blossoming after sterile years of being anorexic. Being open to desire and being open to God seemed closely related to me.

    I never thought of myself as bold. I was always a timid little mouse. I'm surprised and amazed as I look back, wondering where I found the trust. Grateful that I did.


  7. Truly fascinating, Lisabet. I also am asked 'Have you done everything you describe in your books?' I always answer like so: Do they ask Stephen King how many people he's murdered?
    The only thing in your list that shocks me is the bedpost. Um, was it still attached to the bed?
    I'll be back to see what your fellow grippies do with this topic.

  8. I'm going to have to reread Incognito; I don't remember that scene! Now the one in the billiard room...that's the scene I remember the most.

  9. I would have loved to have been in the convertible.




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