Sunday, March 27, 2011

Crossing the Line

By Lisabet Sarai

My books and stories are generally acknowledged to be pretty steamy. When I need a fantasy to get myself off, though, I won't use a scene from my books. No, they're too tame. Having been challenged by Mike's topic this week, I have to confess that in the privacy of my own bedroom, I'll venture (mentally) into far more extreme territory. Shall I mention some of my favorite fantasies here? Or will I alienate my readers? (Will Blogger cancel my account? Will I start to get hate mail?)

Suffice to say that most of my self-pleasuring scenarios couldn't be published, because they break the common rules. I don't fantasize about snuff or real violence, but almost anything else you could imagine - just about anything else that a mainstream erotica publisher would forbid - is likely to show up occasionally.

It's not just the imagined actions that turn me on. No, the fact that they're taboo is at least as arousing as activities themselves. The sense of transgression is integral to the excitement. Publicly, I come across as an intelligent, civilized, middle-aged lady, but I'm a perv at heart. The filthier and more forbidden the act, the more it appeals.

I've learned not to expose the depths of my depraved imagination in my stories. I know that the more extreme elements will be edited out, even if they don't violate the official statutes.

My first novel, published by Black Lace, included a golden shower scene. The editor asked that I remove it. Of course I complied, but personally I think this weakened the erotic impact. (Certainly, it did for me.) My first M/M erotic romance featured a rough anal gang-bang in bondage. I was politely requested to soften the scene. Even so, I received negative comments from some readers, that it was too extreme, even though it was consensual.

I'm really impressed that the enema made it into Ruby's Rules. But then, that was originally published by Blue Moon, who scarcely did any editing at all!

I recently wrote an incest story called "A Breed Apart" for Coming Together, the charity imprint. CT is publishing a series of stories on taboo topics, in protest to the recent "Banned by Amazon" fiasco. I haven't had such fun writing a story in ages. Even so, I pulled some punches. The story skirts some of the more controversial aspects of the topic, featuring as it does a sexual relationship between adult siblings (twins) who are not, in fact, strictly human but belong to another race of beings.

You may ask how I manage to continue writing sex scenes that don't feature highly taboo topics and make them convincing. Transference. I transfer emotions from one set of activities or events to another.

Breaking taboos is a powerful aphrodisiac. The definition of what's taboo, though, varies widely. Some people view BDSM activities as risky and forbidden - and I guess I must still feel that way to some extent, since they definitely turn me on. Some people consider anal sex taboo, or sex between individuals of the same gender, or between an older woman and a younger man (or vice versa). If I write a story using these elements, I summon my own sense of arousal at breaking more extreme taboos, and then try to endow my characters with those emotions. This technique helps me make even vanilla scenes arousing.

For my own personal pleasure, though, I'm not afraid to cross the line, imagining things that "normal" people might find shocking, disgusting or offensive. Would I do these things in real life? That's not the point. Taboos are mental constructs. When shattered, they release enough emotional energy to fuel the most intense orgasms on the planet.


  1. For what it's worth, in recent years I've found many editors and publishers to be accepting of some "watersports" content in erotica. Perhaps things have changed enough regarding this particular taboo that you could re-add it to your toolbox, if you so desired?

  2. Hi, Jeremy,

    Yes, I noticed you broke that taboo in your great story in GOTTA HAVE IT. Thought you were very brave!


  3. Hi Lisabet!

    Getting to this a little late. When I was reading your piece I was thinking about a quote from freud that Dr. Lechter quotes in "Silence of the Lambs", that we covet what we do not have, not what we have. Freud went further by saying that we fantasize about what we do not have, not what we have, imagine ourselves doing erotic things with people who in real life we would probably never go to, not our husbands or wives. I think this must be partly what is at the core of the appeal of taboo. I wonder if that is why cultures have taboos, to empower certain things with a forbidden power they normally wouldn;t have.


  4. Hi Lisabet,

    I feel very much as you do, what I write and what I play in my head are not even close to the same. It was one of the reasons that I selected this topic.

    Thanks for going the distance with this one.


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