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.