This book was the door to a new world. And, given that most of the stories are set in an American landscape of leather bars and gay clubs peopled by aggressive knife-wielding lesbians, it was a world so alien to me it might as well have been in another galaxy. I didn’t even know what Crisco was, for crying out loud – though the characters used it in large quantities and I gathered from the context that it was slippery. Heh.
I had a lot to learn.
Macho Sluts is a collection of eight short stories/novellas, all of them lesbian/gay and all but one at the deep end of the BDSM scene. There’s a Victorian love-triangle, a vampire tale, a M/M psychodrama, a story about a woman picked up and put through hell by 3 male cops, a slave-initiation by seven tops, and a science-fiction story set in a dystopian matriarchal future(!). Whipping, fisting, slaves, enemas, incest ... Even now, re-reading, I am struck by how edgy and controversial some of them are. Of course, back then I had no genre standard to compare them to: I just knew they were brilliantly written. And that the author was fiercely intelligent - even though there isn’t the faintest flavour of that “literary erotica” that so bores and frustrates me. And that the book challenged me to reconsider all my sexual-political-feminist assumptions, and yet had a pure integrity all of its own.
And that the foreword alone was such an extraordinary rallying cry for sexuality, and not just LGBT and BDSM sexuality but for everyone who wants to read a dirty book or look at porn, that it had changed me forever. If you are a writer of erotica, you should read that foreword.
Oh yeah, and I should mention that it’s hot as hell! But it’s not the hotness that really inspired me ... after all, even a rubbishy letter in a skin mag can be hot, in an ephemeral manner. It’s that the stories were beautifully crafted and full of insight about their characters, and that even though the tales were all about sex, they were not the rubbish that we assumed then that smut must be.
So when I started writing, this book was my model. I didn’t worry myself about what was allowed and what wasn’t, in erotica. I didn’t write “what there was a market for” or even “what women wanted.” I just assumed that if the stories were good enough, that would be all that mattered. That I could write about anything that turned me on (dragon-sex included) and that the stories would speak for themselves. My naivety makes me laugh now – and yet it worked.
That friend back then had no idea how much I did need Macho Sluts – or the effect it would have on the rest of my career and life.
You can find Janine here, being orsum: http://janineashbless.blogspot.com/
You can find Macho Sluts here, being also orsum: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Macho-Little-Sisters-Classics-Numbered/dp/1551522608/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281724745&sr=8-1
And here's some handy info about Pat Califia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Califia