Monday, September 10, 2012

Creature of Pure Sensation

By Lisabet Sarai

I'm a polymorphously-perverse humanist who believes that almost anything can be arousing, under the right circumstances. So in general, I don't have too much difficulty writing sex from the perspective of the “other”. I've written lesbian stories (but that's easy because I'm attracted to women myself) and gay male stories (more surprising since I have little or no experience with M/M sex, or even gay porn). A significant fraction of my stories are told from a man's point of view. I find I can inhabit the mind and body of my male characters and female characters with nearly equal facility.

Although I've created a number of secondary characters who were male-to-female transsexuals, thus far I haven't written any tales where the POV protagonist is transgendered. However, I've had one simmering on the back burner for a while, a story that looks at the world through the eyes of a pre-op transsexual Thai go-go dancer. Over the years, on my visits to Bangkok, I've met a few. I can imagine the thrill my heroine would feel seeing her new, feminine body – not to mention the kick of being admired by the men in the audience. At the same time, there'd be fear and shame, worries about being rejected, a sense of inadequacy compared to the biological women she worked with. I'd really like to explore those emotions and see how they play out when I manage to get her into a hotel room alone with the guy who buys her out of the bar. Actually, this fledgling story is almost a rewrite of my tale “Butterfly”, with the point of view flipped. I wonder, though, whether it might end more happily.

I'm less confident that I could write a main character who was female-to-male – it's tough for me to think about chopping off my tits – but I'd be willing to give it a shot. I like an erotic challenge. In my smut-on-commission work for Custom Erotica Source, I've managed to crank up the heat writing scenarios that would never arouse me personally.

There's one sort of “other”, though, I doubt I could successfully portray. I don't think I could convincingly write a creature of pure sensation – a woman (or man) for whom physical stimulation is the primary focus of sexual experience. All my characters share one trait with one another – and with me. For all of them, arousal begins in the mind and flows out to the body.

My sex scenes concentrate on what's going on in my characters' heads. The circumstances and meaning of the sexual encounter, the emotional connection between the participants, the fantasies shared or held in secret, these are the elements that fuel my erotic writing. The physical actions involved are definitely secondary. The brush of a single fingertip along the sensitive side of a breast can evoke a reaction more intense than full penetration. Vibrating dildoes inserted front and rear won't do a thing to one of my heroines if her mind isn't engaged in the scene.

This mirrors my own sexual experience. I've been to swing parties and sex clubs, been fondled and fucked by strangers, and felt almost nothing, because my partner(s) just weren't pushing my psychological buttons. I can masturbate forever without coming, unless I envision a transgressive tableau to accompany my actions. When I replay my most cherished sexual memories, I can't really recall the details of what we did. But how I felt – that's still sweet, raw and precious.

I gather that many women experience sex in a similar manner. (That's probably one reason why I'm doing pretty well writing erotic romance.) I'm sure that at least some guys do, also. However, not everyone is wired that way. We've had discussions on the ERWA Writers list which made it clear that some women achieve orgasm from specific kinds of stimulation, without regard to context. Some people screw for the pure physical pleasure of the act. They don't care about taboos, or power exchange, or whether their companion has a great sense of humor. A good hard cock, a hot wet cunt, is all they need to have fulfilling sex.

It's tough for me to wrap my mind around that concept. I mean, I can understand it intellectually, but it's so distant from my own sexuality, I'm not sure I could write about it. Furthermore, I have to admit the notion of reading stories about such people doesn't interest me much, either. I realize that sounds judgmental. It's not meant to be. Sometimes, in fact, I regret that I'm not more present in my body during sex. I suspect I'm missing a lot.

At this point in my life, though, I'm not likely to change. I guess I have to accept that there are limits to my perversity - though that very notion makes me want to try and push the envelope. Still, is it possible to write a character who's driven entirely by physical sensation, and still have the story be erotic? My definition of erotic fiction is fiction that explores the experience and nature of desire. Can desire be totally physical? I'd love to hear others' opinions.


  1. I'm afraid that sex is one of the least intimate things I do. I'm quite capable of being aroused and even getting off solely due to physical sensations. Now it's easier if I have a mental scenario going as well, or if I've slipped into a voyeur's trance watching my partner, but emotional connection is a distant third.

    The most intimate physical act for me is cuddling. The most intimate act overall is sharing deep emotional and spiritual truths.

    I can write emotionally connecting sex stories, but the rest are just as easy.

  2. Hi Lisabet!

    There are so many things here I identify with. I think when i was a much younger man the physical sensation was enough, but as the fire in the blood settles down then the emotional becomes more important.

    I think you;re describing the soul of erotic writting, or at least what makes it compelling to me, which is the grace and ineptness by which people reach out for that intimacy and human touch. That's when I think erotic writing is at its best and its characteristic of Butterfly and some of your best writing in particular.


  3. It was interesting to read what your idea of "other" is. Real food for thought (she says as she tries to think of what she'll write)

  4. Hello, Ed,

    You're exactly the kind of character I'd struggle to write!

    I haven't read a huge amount of your stuff, but your characters strike me as more than just sensation junkies. But perhaps I've read a biased sample.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

  5. Hello, Garce,

    The thing is - I think one could tell a compelling erotic story about a creature of pure sensation. Think about the potential conflict between such a character and someone like me, who experiences sex mostly in her head.

    But I'm not sure that I, personally, could tell that story, at least not from the perspective of the more physically-oriented character.

  6. Hey, Kathleen,

    I'm sure you'll more than rise to the challenge.

  7. Hi Lisabet,

    You haven't read any sensation junkies in my stories because I tend not to write them. I can, but, as a rule, I don't see much juiciness in plots that involve them. There's not much challenge or drama in getting a sensation fulfilled, especially if you're willing to pay for it...

  8. Hey Lisabet, there's a lot to be said for the purely physical enjoyment of the sex act! Like Garce, when I was younger, that was what I was all about! In fact, my general rule was that some men were friends, and I didn't sleep with them for fear they'd develop feelings I didn't want to reciprocate. I had sex with strangers, with cute guys I picked up in bars or at parties. Rarely did I see any of them more than once. And I was supremely happy with that arrangement!

    Flash forward to being out of college a few years, going from FEAST to FAMINE. I met my husband at a party, and a week later he came to a party at my house...literally. We've been together for 30 years, and raised 4 kids. I told him when I met him that I'd kissed a whole lotta frogs to find my prince and I really knew what I wanted, so the one thing he could depend on was that I'd never cheat on him. There'd be NO questions unanswered for me, like "I wonder what he would be like in bed?" Or, "What would it be like to be with a stranger?" Most men are better in the anticipation...I'd get off quicker doing it myself!

    One of my books is about a female protagonist very like the younger me. "Two For Tuesday" has her telling the hero that she was trying to get the university to let her major in fucking, because that's what she spent so much of her time doing! And you practice anything that much, you're bound to get good at it!

    I think the ONE character I won't ever be able to write is a virgin. I didn't lose my virtue as much as I gave it away as soon as I found a volunteer to take it! I wanted to be in on the action, not watching from the sidelines. The idea of saving yourself strikes me as odd and bound to disappoint, just like waiting all year for Christmas, then being disappointed 5 minutes after all of the gifts are open..."Is that all there is?"


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