Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Erotic Reading Right Out Loud

I’m veering away from the historical discussion (although after a recent post, I’m ready to chant “nub, nub, nub!” just to get Jane going) and into another erotic realm.

Last week, Lacy and I (and some others) participated in an erotic reading at Babeland in Seattle. It was the second time I’ve ever written my work aloud, and the first time it’s been the erotic stuff. It was a lot of fun, listening to the readings and looking around the store at the toys available. (If you haven’t guessed, Babeland is an adult store.) Drinkies afterward was fun too but if I shared any of that, Lacy and the others would have to kill me, I’m sure.

(Yes, that's me, reading in front of floggers and harnesses and blindfolds, oh my!)

And yes, I did buy a toy -- the iBuddy, in fact, which you can plug your iPod or other mp3 player and vibrate in time to the music. I haven’t tried it out yet. I mean, I can’t call it an excuse for research, as I’ve already written the book where the modern-day heroine takes bag of toys back to the Regency period. (ONE MORE TIME, out in December.)

So I won’t. *wicked grin*

Back to the erotic reading. There were six of us rotating through the evening and it made me realize some things that are incredibly important to reading something erotic aloud.

For one thing, you can’t get off on what you’re reading because you’re in a room packed with people.

I glanced up occasionally to gauge response, but really couldn’t tell. One guy left during my reading and came back later, but I’ve no idea if that means his cell phone went off or... well, something else.

So here are some tips to reading erotica aloud and in public:

  1. It is a story, like any other, and should be read as if you were telling it, not reading it: with interest and intensity. Vary the cadences of your voice. I found when I practiced at home, I was in a monotone, so I made an effort to brighten it up a bit. (No idea whether this worked.)
  2. Use slightly different voices for different characters: for example, I went slightly higher for the heroine, and slightly lower for the hero.
  3. Remember to breathe. (Almost forgot that one the second time up.) Pause between sentences, paragraphs and so on.
  4. Given the language, treat explicit words as any other garden variety word -- unless its in dialogue and then say the dialogue how your character says it.
  5. Explain the scene set up before you start. (Hmm, maybe I should’ve listed that one first.) It helps the listeners get more involved with the story if they know what’s at stake.
  6. Revel in the wit. Relish telling the story. Grin at appropriate moments and pause for laughter.
  7. (And I learned this from observing one of the other authors) Schmooze your audience during the breaks.

I’ve written a scene in SHOW ME (which also has a fair amount of “historical” sex toys in it) where the heroine reads aloud to the hero. But he’s touching her at the same time, so it was definitely a different demographic, reading aloud to a room filled with people.


Pam Rosenthal said...

So while Sharon and some sister romance writers were battling out the fine points of language on Canadian TV, Celia, you and Lacy were struttin' your stuff in Seattle. You go, all of you. A great weekend for our team, I'd say.

It's great to read smut... er, erotica... out loud. I had a wonderful time last year at Good Vibrations in San Francisco -- also in front of a wall of sex toys.

Lacy Danes said...


It was a BLAST!

I LOVED hearing the stories. It was an amazing experience that I would do again in an instant.

Celia writes such wonderful whit and her heroines are so wonderfully strong. I adored hearing her read aloud.

I would love to do another reading. If you ever are looking for someone to join you at a reading at Good Vibes, let me know. I would fly down in an instant.


Kate Pearce said...

I'm so impressed that you did it ladies!
I'm not sure if I've got the nerve yet. Next time you do a reading Pam, let me know so that I can come and listen and work out whether I would ever be able to do it myself!

Good info on presentation though!

Celia May Hart said...

Pam -- and I would fly up in an instant -- heck, I'm sure I could even draga few SF friends I haven't seen in years to come along...