Friday, May 4, 2007

I'll Take You There

Thank god our at-home wireless internet is unreliable, so that on some days, at least, I can go grab my laptop and write my novel without going online every couple of minutes... say to the Smart Bitches blog, which is one of my latest addictions.

This week, for example, I spent I don't know how much time at a recent Bitchery discussion of erotica and erotic romance favorites. Of course I got some warm fuzzies from having my own work mentioned. But the discussion really got interesting to me when it got around to the inevitable (these days) question of why m/m erotica is so popular with women readers.

You can read it yourself if you want to see what people said (and if I had it to do over, I would have been a little less tart of tongue -- thanks, Kassiana, if you're out there, for having taken my comment in such good humor).

But what I've been mulling over ever since is the question of how people "shop" for erotica. Which, it seems, is mainly to go for what they know they like -- to check the menu and order their favorite flavor.

I suppose we all do that. It's nice to have a menu of familiar, reassuring, entertaining choices. And who could ever have enough Cherry Garcia? Or in my case BDSM.

Except sometimes we don't. Like those times a trusted friend guides you to some wonderful little hole-in-the wall restaurant where there is no menu, where the wait staff doesn’t even speak English. And you go there, perhaps with some misgivings, because you trust your friend... or because you’re bored with what you already know you like… or perhaps you’re not sure anymore, what it is you know you like and what it is you like just because you've always liked it.

Which reminds me of the time when I had to introduce my friend Simon Sheppard, at a reading of his then-new book, Kinkorama, at Modern Times Bookstore. Now, Simon’s clearly a smart, talented, very hot writer – but it's also pretty obvious that he writes from a gay male sensibility that’s kind of foreign to me. And the men he writes about, while often attractive, are miles away from the ones you'll encounter in the recent m/m fiction written for women, or even the m/m stuff I dreamed up in the Carrie books.

I might not have bothered reading as much of Kinkorama as I did. But I felt I had a responsibility to introduce Simon intelligently and to represent his work fairly. Just call me Super(ego)Girl. My dreams begin in responsibilities.

So I read the chapter about daddy/boy sex, and even, with more than a little hesitation, the one about diaper play. And… well, it’s not that I’ve exactly changed my tastes, the stuff was still strange -- even challenging, as the menus describe some kinds of sushi.

But under the spell of Simon’s voice and smarts and writing skill, I felt myself taken to that strange, wonderful hole-in-the-wall place where there aren't any menus. And I closed my eyes and opened my mouth and tasted – who knows what I tasted? – jellyfish, foie gras, tobacco, absinthe? It sure wasn’t Cherry Garcia.

So I’m wondering whether any of the rest of you out there sometimes take the plunge, expose yourself to a new and different erotic sensibility? What was it like? Would you do it again? Do you trust a writer's style and sensibility enough to follow her where she wants to go?


Anonymous said...

Mmmmm, that jellyfish dish looks so good! I would eat the whole thing and ask for seconds.

I feel like I am a squeamish reader, even if I am not a squeamish eater. Although I have read SMBD, spanking, butt secks, orgies, m/m, f/f, incest in stories, I really prefer not to. Of course, noone forced me to read these scenes. I CHOOSE to because I liked/loved the author's writing enough to go beyond my comfort zone.

Smart Bitches: always addictive. I did NOTHING the past 2 days except follow that Falk mess ;-)

Kate Pearce said...

I'm totally addicted to Alison Tyler's blog. She is so open about her past and the things she's tried. I'm fascinated.

Pam Rosenthal said...

Oh dear, another blog addiction coming on.

janegeorge said...

Okay, I'm going to stupidly post here before reading the Smart Bitches blog mentioned.

I read Delaney's Dahlgren at a tender age and was strongly affected by the sentiments therein. During a m/f/m sandwich sex scene, the female acknowledges to herself that she is merely a homosexual connector for the two men, as if she as a person doesn't exist.

I think the fantasy of dual-entry porn for women is exactly the opposite, that of being the supreme adored object, fulfilled in all possible ways.

I currently have no clue how fantasy, reality, misogyny, self-love, self-hatred, and the current political clime figure into the relative popularity of m/m/f vs f/f/m, but I just know they do.

As far as the question of blind adventures, my journeys these days are more out-of-body than in. LOL.

janegeorge said...

Now, I've read the Smart Bitches blog comments. All of 'em. Cost me three pages on my WIP!

Silly me, I see the flap was about f/f couples versus m/m couples. My sentiments are exactly the opposite of those readers on those comments. I support writers exploring whatever the F they want to explore. And because I've experienced a strong strain of misogyny amongst my gay male friends and acquaintances that reinforced ol' Mr. Delaney (mentioned previously), I don't mind f/f at all.

Am I to understand that many readers put women and anuses in the squick category? Tsk tsk. We're overdue for an updated Our Bodies, Our Selves!

And I had no idea that was a bowl of jellyfish from the picture. I thought it was those Indian honey candy squiggles. LOL

Celia May Hart said...

Hmm. I read the Marquis de Sade once. Actually, it was a compendium of his work. Once he got to the point of inflicting real pain (you know, beyond tying somebody up), then it left me cold.

But at least I tried it.

Pam Rosenthal said...

Must. Read. Dahlgren. From online comments picked up here and there, I'm becoming convinced that it's the Big Hot Read I've been missing.

Janegeorge, you've set my mind buzzing in a million different direction. In Carrie's Story, but most especially in Safe Word, characters use each other as media of communication. I meant that as sort of the ultimate perversion, the last temptation...

Celia, it was Sade who took my young readerly self for her first wild pronographic joyride... and I think it was his compulsive, endless voice, his bent sense of humor, that locked the seatbelt around me. He's one of the most readable unreadable authors I've ever encountered.

And yeah, it's jellyfish, and from my experience, unusually goodlooking jellyfish.

Anonymous said...

I love trying new things, at least in my reading material. Food - well, I'm a very picky eater. This blog has actually gotten me to try something I never would have before, which is erotica. I honestly never thought one way or the other about erotica. I actually thought it was something primarily men read. But, you guys got me curious. Since then, I've picked up a couple books by authors on this blog and while they're not what I would have expected, they're very interesting tastes to try. :) Some of them I may even ask for seconds on.

Pam Rosenthal said...

you guys got me curious

What a lovely thing to read. Thanks so much, Mina.