Video interview about Dirty GIrls

June 12, 2008

From the fabulous Tango magazine:

Also, I am thrilled to report that Dirty Girls did so well it’s going back to the printers – it sold out its first print run! THANK YOU for supporting this book and reading erotica.

Interview with Dirty Girls contibutor Tenille Brown

May 16, 2008

The latest contributor interview from Dirty Girls: Erotica for Women

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Tenille Brown’s writing is featured online and in several print anthologies, including Caught Looking, Ultimate Lesbian Erotica 2007, A Is for Amour, D Is for Dress-Up, and The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Women Writers. She obsessively shops for shoes, hats, and purses and keeps a daily blog on her website www.tenillebrown.com.

Tell us a little about yourself, aside from what’s in your official bio.

I am 30 years old. I was raised in the south where I now reside with my five-year old twins. In my other life, I work in law enforcement.

What was the inspiration for your story, “The Change of Life?” Do you feel that older women aren’t as well represented in the world of erotica as they should be?

At the time I began writing “The Change of Life,” I was still in my twenties. However, I was a new mother to two very demanding babies and it suddenly occurred to me that these two little people would encompass my life. That, coupled with my being married at the time, I saw my life flashing before my eyes. I was a wife and a mother, period. I started thinking, already, about empty nest syndrome and pondering “what’s next?” and out the story came.

I feel that older women have been very under-represented in erotica, and I always strive to do something different, to do that thing that might make an editor take a second look at my work, so it was my goal to sort of go against the grain in that aspect. I’ve actually been using older characters for as long as I’ve been writing erotica, and I was in my early twenties when I started. I mean, when I’m in my 40’s and 50’s, hell even in my 60’s, I fully intend to still be having mind-blowing sex and I want this to come across in my writing.

You write: “Bernard, honey, if you don’t mind, could you kiss me a little more and when you touch me, could you not stop at my breasts? And honey, if it’s not a problem could you let me get on top this time, do things my way?

But she couldn’t say those things to the man who had been nothing but good to her, who she had led to believe was satisfying her every need for the past eighteen years.”

It turns out that Bernard might be more accommodating than Doll gives him credit for. What advice would you give to a woman like Doll, who is clearly unhappy with the sex she’s (not) having in her marriage?

The advice I would give to a woman in that situation is to be as verbally free as she is sexually free. Saying what you want can be as sexy as getting what you want, and you never know, your man may simply be waiting for instructions.

Your story is one of many in Dirty Girls where there’s not necessarily a “happily ever after” ending. Is this a deliberate choice? What emotions are you trying to provoke in readers with the story?

It’s not that I don’t believe in happy endings, but I am a realist. And yes, the ending was definitely a deliberate choice. While I wanted to address the issue of the empty-nest and sexual repression, I also wanted to be sure I didn’t give people false hope. Let’s face it, so many women stay in unhappy marriages. So many women “just deal with it” and I wanted my story to be a realistic portrayal of this. And, admittedly, I was feeling pretty hopeless myself at the time.

I suppose one of the main emotions I was trying to provoke was hopefulness. Even though things didn’t end the way Doll had hoped, she still left. She was still out there pursuing a different life. Maybe this situation will give her the strength the try again, and maybe this time she won’t simply retreat into what’s comfortable and familiar.

What’s your general erotica-writing process like? Do you write on a set schedule or when you’re inspired?

I almost laughed out loud when I saw the words “set schedule.” In my dreams, it would be that way. I’d have my own little writer’s nook. I’d carve out four hours of quiet time to write each day. I’d produce new stories at an astonishing pace.

In reality, I write very sporadically. I go through periods of feeling ultra creative where I’m writing and writing and periods of feeling like I absolutely suck and I won’t even touch a notebook. Lately, I’ve just been too tired and I’m not disciplined enough to make myself do it. But, when the inspiration does hit me, I have to write then and there. The words may be on a grocery store receipt, on the back of an electric bill or on my kid’s homework assignment, but they get written.

What do you see as the connection, if any, between erotica and feminism?

Though it’s become much more mainstream these days, erotica is one of the boldest genres of fiction out there. I think the power writing erotica gives you is the main connection to feminism. There’s the freedom of saying everything you want to say, the leaving your inhibitions at the door. It shows strength and determination. It shows courage.

What do you think makes a good erotica story work?

Anticipation in an erotic story is always good. Surprise me. Have my panties wet before the characters even touch each other. I enjoy the build-up sometimes more than the act itself. Also, to me, a good erotica story is one that’s outside the box yet believable. Not all sexual escapades start at a nightclub and they don’t all end at the altar. I enjoy stories that stray from the norm, like funny sex stories or sad sex stories, stories when the ugly guy gets laid, or when the shy girl gets the fucking of her life. I enjoy the unexpected.

What are you working on next?

I am always all over the place with my writing. Sadly, most times I don’t complete all the projects that I start, but I always have something in the works for almost every call that’s out there. Right now, I am writing an airplane sex story called “Liberation” and that one might actually get finished.

Interview with Melissa Gira

May 10, 2008


Photo by Melissa Gira via Flickr

(From Rachel: I changed Melissa’s book bio to better reflect what she’s doing now – this is a blog after all. She’s also got a Tumblr.)

Melissa Gira (melissagira.com) is a blogger, a writer, an editor of Sexerati: Smart Sex (sexerati.com), and a contributor to $pread magazine and the blogs BoundNotGagged and Valleywag. An advocate of international sex workers’ rights, a mobile media maker, and a shameless sex futurist, she fully unpacked three times in the last year and prefers to work out of her purse-size office: cell phone, wireless keyboard, and DV camera—wherever a cheap GPRS signal and fancy lip gloss can take her.

Tell us a little about yourself, aside from what’s in your official bio.

I’ve been writing about sex since I was 8, started publishing my essays in zines and underground rags when I was 14, and online when I was 16. But “A Prayer to Be Made Cocksure” is the first piece of erotica I’ve ever written for publication.

What was the inspiration for your story “A Prayer to be Made Cocksure?” How long did it take to write and what was the most challenging part?

I was living in absolutely historic and uncared for 1920’s apartment, a little bachelorette studio. It’s so small that I could only bring anyone over to fuck them in it. There was really no other reason to invite anyone up; I was newly single, for the first meaningful time since I was 14, and I was also very sad. I’d broken up with the man I moved to San Francisco and also with the boy who had become my lover as that breakup took over my life. My whole life really broke: I needed a new home, but that home was colored with all of this memory already.

I felt like an old woman in the wooden elevator that took me up four floors every night. I would sit in my bed and try not to see the cockroaches rambling along the kitchen floor. I cried a lot, and jacked off a lot to get to sleep. I’d write myself smut to get off to, put on headphones and let my MacBook Pro read it to me in TextEdit. That’s how the first and last paragraphs of the story came out, in the dark. I filled in the rest over the next few months. The hardest part was taking out this whole undergirding that had supported the story, a reverie on the Hindu creation myth. It’s still in there, a little bit. But that’s what I get for having a boy with hippie parents fuck me.

What do you hope readers will take away from the story?

That sex isn’t always hot because it’s erotic, but because it’s changing you — literally, melting off layers. That vulnerability is sexy. That blowjobs are sex all in their own right.

How do you feel upon rereading the story now?

At the Cafe Royale reading in San Francisco a few weeks ago — when I came to the bit about not getting fucked, I started to cry. My longtime lover and new lover were in the front, and they noticed. The story now is solidly nostalgic. It’s about a sex I’ll never have again, but then it keeps on going without me. Who knows who else will have sex with my story. Actually, they should totally write to me if they can to say how and when they did.

You write in the story, “There is a great before that lovers can never return to, that time that starts before they meet, so by definition, it can’t be measured, unless one counts one’s birth as the beginning.” Can you elaborate on this thought?

I have this ethos, that I don’t always live up to, of never ending things with a lover entirely. Never becoming the enemy of someone I adored that much to let into me, even if it was only for a day or two. So if a love affair is never going to end, then how can you tell when it begins? With your first date? The first time you heard about each other? It doesn’t matter, almost, because you can never go back. You can never be who you were before you came together.

You primarily write non-fiction about sex, for the sex worker advocacy site Bound Not Gagged, for Sexerati, and for Gawker Media tech blog Valleywag. How does writing fiction differ for you from those endeavors?

If we can even call it fiction, right? I’m not sure I’m capable of writing fiction anymore. Which is probably why I write so little porn. I also don’t keep my weird theorizing and bad public intellectual habits out of the bedroom. It’s always politics and pop culture and gossip as pillowtalk. All of it overlaps for me, all of it is arousing; what comes out published is due to the good graces of an editor knowing when to tell me what’s masturbation and what’s good for the audience.

What do you see as the connection (if any) between feminism and erotica, or feminism and sex writing more broadly?

Can I defer to Hélène Cixous? She advocated for women to adopt l’écriture féminine, and so did Anaïs Nin. A lot of my female role models as writers wove sex and theory together that way, valued the personal dimension of sexuality as greatly as the political dimensions of gender, class, and power. I see the connections, but I also wouldn’t stay in bed wanking and writing and call that my patriarchy-smashing gesture. What does obsess me now is how the business of writing about sex, as women, is so fraught — we’re all either desperate Carrie Bradshaws or conniving sluts looking to topple men with our “confessions.” When really, as Tracie Egan just wrote at Jezebel, “the only void [many of us ]are looking to fill is “the one between [our] legs.”

What’s your general erotica-writing process like? Do you write on a set schedule or when you’re inspired?

Most of my erotica is written on my phone or in a notebook and in transit. I still write the most hardcore stuff on planes, where the work has to substitute for masturbation. The furthest most of those stories go is my lover’s inboxes, but that’s what inspires me: that very private audience, writing for them in semi-public where no one knows what’s really going down on the page.

What are you working on next?

I’m headed to Mexico City this summer for the International AIDS Conference, my first. I’ll be presenting on how social media improves the social networks and health of sex workers, based on a series of blogging and podcasting classes I’ve been offering on my own since 2005 and with the St. James Infirmary, a free community clinic for sex workers and their partners based in San Francisco. So gearing up for that — doing interviews and handling a lot of audio gear — and also being a good San Francisco Web 2.0 kid and having a lot of fun planning a startup dealing with sex. I’m going to let someone else gossip about its launch, of course.

Podcast, reviews, excerpt and more

May 5, 2008

So much has been going on with Dirty Girls, I don’t even know where to start, but here’s a few things:

Listen to a podcast interview with me on the Seal Press site about the book

Read an excerpt from Carol Queen’s story “Shocking Exposé! Secrets Revealed!” about the Lusty Lady peep show, at Tango magazine

A review of Dirty Girls in Lucrezia Magazine

However, Dirty Girls is certainly not just for girls alone. As Bussel was quick to point out at the New York launch party, which I attended, the book’s original title was Dirty Girls: Erotica by Women. Anyone with a love of erotic fiction can explore his or her dirty side with this volume. And I guarantee anyone will want to.

Get the best seats in the house at the Lusty Lady Theatre in the legendary Carol Queen’s “Shocking Expose! Secrets Revealed!” Explore a tangle of the senses and a melding of two strangers’ bodies in Rachel Kramer Bussel’s expertly crafted tale “Icy Hot.” Encounter the post-structuralist implications of ownership and autonomy within a relationship as Isabelle Gray’s “In the Name Of …” sees a couple exploring sensual pleasures outside their marriage for the first time. And delight in a darkly-tinged, BDSM tale in Alison Tyler’s provocative “Like a Good Girl.”

A rather negative review of Dirty Girls (scroll down) in Erotica Revealed

And in me news, here are some recent Q&As:

Sex Files in Gotham Digest

Q&A in Minneapolis’s vita.mn by Alexis McKinnis all about erotica and sex

Q&A in Minneapolis alt weekly City Pages

The Dirty Girls party rocked!

April 30, 2008

Some Dirty Girls reading snapshots by Marlo Gayle (see full set on Flickr). Many thanks to all the wonderful readers, Les of Cafe Royale for hosting, Red Stripe for sponsoring, the people with the free chutney samples (sorry, don’t have their company name in front of me) and Andie East of Seal Press for being an awesome publicist and coming to my rescue with books. The reading went really well and it was wonderful to see so many familiar faces in the audience.

And is it me or is it kindof juvenile for the chutney person to have done the rabbit ears in this photo?

L to R: Melissa Gira, Donna George Storey, Gina de Vries, Carol Queen, me

Gina de Vries reading “The Next Thing:

Melissa Gira reading “A Prayer to be Made Cocksure,” aka “the saddest story about blowjobs:”

Carol Queen reading about the Lusty Lady peep show:

Donna George Storey reading about Sally Rand from “To Dance at the Fair:”

And the cupcakes from Sharlene’s Babycakes

Interview with Dirty Girls contributor Gina de Vries

April 28, 2008

Join Gina de Vries, our interviewee below, me, Rachel Kramer Bussel, and Carol Queen, Melissa Gira and Donna George Storey tonight at Cafe Royale, 800 Post St at Leavenworth, San Francisco, 7-9. There will be hot readings and free cupcakes!

Tell us a little about yourself, aside from what’s in your official bio.

I’m a queer writer and activist, Italian-American and very connected to the Italian side of my blood family, and a San Francisco native. I cut my writing and activist teeth on queer youth organizing
and riot grrrl zines in the early 90’s, and my community and politics influence my creative work pretty heavily. I write a lot about sex, queerness, gender, race, class, spirituality, and desire — fiction, non-fiction, and sometimes more experimental pieces. Currently, I blog for the national LGBT blog bilerico.com, curate shows for San Francisco in Exile, and work at the Center for Lesbian & Gay Studies at a groovy progressive divinity school. Sometimes I teach writing workshops for queers and transfolk. Creativity, spirituality, and community are all really important to me. I’m also a really huge nerd.

What inspired your story “The Next Thing” and how did you decide to tell it in the present-tense, urgent tone you chose?

I try to write how people talk. “The Next Thing” is very much a story that the narrator is *telling* — to the reader, and to Lola — so I wanted it to have that sense of realness and urgency, like we’re
sitting in the car with her while she’s talking about Lee. I wanted it to be urgent but sexy, a little lost, a little hyphy, a little sad, but with some hope behind it. I wanted to convey being stuck, but
being on the way out.

What emotions do you hope readers will feel after reading your story?

To be totally corny: A sense of hope and, above all, possibility. A feeling that bad situations and times when we’re stuck — in life, in love, in work, in sex — can and will change.

Like the opening story in Dirty Girls, Marie Lyn Bernard’s “Fucking Around,” place is central to your story, and Massachusetts and San Francisco are set in stark contrast to each other. You write, “They don’t have gayboys in Western Mass like they do in San Francisco,” and “I am in fucking Massachusetts, San Francisco is my escape, and like any good emo girl, I romanticize my escape to its fullest. San Francisco is the city that I fly to every time I whack off. I come hundreds of times in dreams that are always set in this city, my city, home.” What does the city of San Francisco offer you in terms of sexual community? Can that sexual community be recreated elsewhere, or is this something specific to San Francisco, in your experience?

I believe that sexual community can exist anywhere, if you’ve got the right people at the right time — and especially having lived in Western Mass and being less bitter about it than my narrator, I do
want to make clear that there’s radical sexual community there, not to mention tons of other awesome places.

That said: San Francisco has sexual community and history — especially in terms of the queer and trans communities — like I’ve never experienced anywhere else. That’s a big part of why I chose to
come back and make my home here after growing up here, and after living other places. There’s a sex community here that’s amazing — extremely diverse, very pansexual, very genderfluid, very kinky, and very very queer. It’s certainly not perfect, which I allude to in my story — hipster-ism and authenticity battles and silly little dramas abound, as they do in any community — but for the most part, it’s a pretty amazing community to be in the center of. I have amazing and beloved friends and lovers; I’m very blessed.

What do you see as the connection (if any) between feminism and erotica and/or queer activism and erotica?

I could go on about this for hours, but in short: I think that part of what makes people so uncomfortable about queerness is eroticism and sexuality, and especially a sexuality that is different or foreign. A lot of mainstream “lesbian and gay” activists would probably argue with me about this, but: I believe that being queer *is* at least in part about sex, and that that’s completely wonderful. So being honest, authentic, and unafraid about our erotic desires as queer people is, to me, a kind of activism.

What’s your general erotica-writing process like? Do you write on a set schedule or when you’re inspired?

Both, actually. Deadlines help keep me writing, but I’ll also jot things down when the mood strikes.

What do you think makes a good erotica story work?

Authenticity, surprise, tension, real dialogue, character development, humor, and perhaps a little bit of scary-ness or skating on an edge. All the elements of good stories in general, really. Also, not repeating porn cliches. Like, don’t use the word “throb” or “pant” or “member” unless it’s absolutely the best word for what you’re trying to communicate, you know?

What are you working on next?

I’m writing up a storm, starting to teach writing workshops with more frequency, and trying to finish a book about riot grrrl and the early 90’s queer youth movement that’s a mix of fiction and
non-fiction. I’m also doing a San Francisco in Exile Show for the National Queer Arts Festival on June 7th in San Francisco.

Excerpt from Donna George Storey’s “To Dance at the Fair”

April 24, 2008

It seems only fitting after posting the interview with Donna George Storey about her story “To Dance at the Fair” from Dirty Girls and Sally Rand to offer up an excerpt. This is the start of her story and the rest of it just gets (much) hotter from there…

Naked

Whenever I stand up to speak before an audienceæbe it a ballroom full of steely-eyed colleagues or the semester’s first class of yawning kidsæI think of Sally and I feel strong.

You might say I have it backwards, that I’m supposed to imagine my audience naked to give myself courage, not the other way around. Because of course, Sally Rand, the sensation of Chicago’s Century-of-Progress Exposition during the dark Depression years of 1933 and 1934, stepped onto the stage wearing nothing but two ostrich feather fans and a dusting of pure white powder. As the dance progressed she would swirl her fans, teasing the audience with a flash of nipple or a glimpse of buttock, until, at long last, she would spread her wings to reveal everything. And then, in a flash of light, she was gone, before anyone could really knowæhad they really seen Sally nude or was it all an illusion?

This afternoon it was especially fitting to conjure Sally’s ghost as I took the podium. I was giving a paper on her and her sister performers entitled, “’Enough Nudity for Anyone’s 15 Cents’: Sally Rand, the Crystal Lassies, and the Roots of Internet Porn at the Century-of-Progress Expositions.” I brought plenty of slides, and the ballroom was packed. Sally has been dead for more than twenty years, but she still knows how to pull them in.

Novice that I was to burlesque, I was lucky not to be facing my audience alone. On my left was a dark and very handsome man named Mario Carbone. He had written a paper on “primitive cultures” exhibits and fantasies of empire specifically to join me on this panel. The lean, fair-haired man to my right with the intriguing air of melancholy was Christopher Hansen. For my benefit, he had tweaked his customary focus on FDR into a discussion of the perfect marriage of corporate capitalism and the New Deal at the interwar fairs.

Although we now teach in different parts of the country, the three of us have been best friends since the first week of grad school. Our professors dubbed us the inseparable threesome, and the other students openly laid bets on who got to be in the middle during our all-night fuck fests.
Mario, Chris and I laughed it off because we were sure our bond was purely platonic, founded on mutual intellectual admiration. We wouldn’t be honest enough with ourselves to go to bed together for another fifteen years.

Interview with Donna George Storey on erotica and Sally Rand

April 22, 2008

Donna is one of our readers at this Monday, April 28th’s FREE book party/reading for Dirty Girls at Cafe Royale, 800 Post Street at Leavenworth, San Francisco. There will even be free cupcakes! Join us and hear Donna read from “To Dance at the Fair.” She is also one of my favorite erotica wriers and I’m thrilled every time she submits a story to me. I first discovered her writing when we were both contributors to Susie Bright’s Best American Erotica 2006 and have been a fan ever since. Also, lucky us, she is joining us at In The Flesh Erotic Reading Series this fall, so stay tuned!

Donna George Storey’s erotic fiction has appeared in She’s On Top; He’s On Top; E is for Exotic; Love at First Sting; Garden of the Perverse: Fairy Tales for Twisted Adults; Sexiest Soles; Taboo: Forbidden Fantasies for Couples; Best American Erotica 2006; Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 4, 5, and 6; and Best Women’s Erotica 2005, 2006, and 2007. Her novel set in Japan, Amorous Woman, is part of Orion’s Neon erotica series. Read more of her work at www.DonnaGeorgeStorey.com.

Tell us a little about yourself, aside from what’s in your official bio.

When people who don’t know me well find out I write erotica, they’re always very surprised, because I’m pretty much your mom-next-door type. Those who’ve known me from my wild youth, before I wrote “adult” stories, wonder why it took me so long to embrace my true calling. In college, I was famous for impromptu recitations of my poems in rhyming couplets, with such titles as “Sperm” and “The Man from Japan” (Copies, and recitations, available on request).

My blog is called “Sex, Food and Writing” and if you add “Travel” to that, you’ve pretty much covered the things I like to do best. I love to cook, either healthy stews and soups based on the contents of my weekly CSA box of organic veggies, or decadent multi-layered cookies and creamy puddings. I like to dabble in exotic cuisines—Japanese, Indian, Russian. It’s like taking a little trip abroad when I can’t afford the ticket.

Like Elizabeth in “To Dance at the Fair,” I spent some time in academia, although my specialty was Japanese literature. Japan is the setting for my first novel, Amorous Woman, the story of an American woman’s love affair with Japan. It’s not a memoir, but it could be. By the way, I just got back from a trip to Japan a few weeks ago, to see the cherries in full blossom. Twenty-four years after we first met, I’m still in love!

What inspired your story “To Dance at the Fair?” What message do you hope readers take away from it?

We were visiting my husband’s family in the Midwest and stopped by the Chicago Historical Society where I bought a book about the Century of Progress World’s Fair of 1933-34. The fair was supposed to celebrate all kinds of stuffy civic achievements, but the real draw was Sally Rand and her sexy fan dance. I’ve always been fascinated by sex in earlier times because it was secret, forbidden territory. Sally’s popularity seemed like a doorway into that hidden part of history.

The other inspiration is more of a reaction to the typical portrayal of group sex in a lot of sexually explicit writing. Everything goes so smoothly: double the partners, double the fun. But the reality, at least in my limited experience, is more complex. I wanted to capture that in a story.

The message I’d like to convey? I hope there are many but the main one would be that we all come to bed with a complex set of fantasies, a private and collective past. But not to worry. It is “baggage,” but it can make the pleasure all the richer.

Did you have to do any research to write the story? Is your character Sally Rand based on a real person?

Sally is very real—here’s a photo of her with her fans shielding the naughty bits. She continued to dance for decades after the fair. I recently read a memoir about a very proper WASP family where the parents’ first date was a visit to a club to watch Sally Rand perform in the early 1960s.

The research for the story was fascinating. I found a copy of Sally’s Tru-Vue photo poster in a World’s Fair collectibles book—the original sells for over $2000. There’s a great interview with her in Studs Terkel’s Hard Times where her courage and her sympathy for the working man and woman shine through. I really grew to admire her. She’s definitely a dirty girl in the best sense of the word.

Your story is about a woman who takes inspiration from one of her gutsy, sexy foremothers. Who do you take artistic (and/or sexual) inspiration from?

In keeping with the historical theme, I’ll mention some of my earliest inspirations (the list of women erotica writers I turn today for inspiration is too long—just check the table of contents of Dirty Girls!). First there’s the Japanese poet Yosano Akiko, who shocked the world with her suggestive love poetry in the early 1900s. From her I learned a writer can be erotic and elegant. Colette and Anais Nin taught me similar lessons. I love Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie—funny, irreverent, sexy and tragic. One book can have it all. That’s what I strive for in my work—maybe some day!

In the story, you say, “The stripper and the school marm. On the surface, it would be hard to find two women more different than Sally and me.” Do you feel that women are pitted against each other and made to seem more different, sexually and otherwise, than we really are?

Absolutely. Since time immemorial men have used the “divide and conquer” method to limit women’s influence over them. Virgins to the right, whores to the left. That’s because they knew if one woman possessed the power of both, she’d be unstoppable. I think this is still in play today where our culture does its best to insist smart women can’t be sexy. Or sexy women smart. The stories in Dirty Girls are proof this isn’t so!

What’s your general erotica-writing process like? Do you write on a set schedule or when you’re inspired?

I try to write almost every morning when my kids are at school, inspired or not. I may not be particularly productive every day, but I’ve found that the flashes of magic don’t come unless I’m ready at the keyboard. But I am always looking for ideas for new stories and they come at the most unlikely times—like when I’m browsing in a museum bookstore. One tendency I’ve noticed is that I’m drawn to topics that seem a little weird, uncanny, inexplicable. For example, “To Dance at the Fair” is an attempt to make sense of the strange phenomenon of all of Chicago using the World’s Fair as an excuse to see a stripper, randy young bucks and respectable, if daring, matrons alike.

What do you think makes a good erotica story work?

A good dirty story needs all the elements a “clean” story requires—conflict, intriguing characters, a fresh use of language. But erotica writers face an additional challenge in that the reader expects to be turned on as well. Just as we all have our different sexual preferences, I don’t think any one erotic story can speak to everyone’s deepest desires, but I’d say the best examples have the power to draw you into their worlds, to seduce you, no matter if the acts involved aren’t your cup of tea in the real world.

I’ll add a personal note here—I know that fantasy and sexuality are intimately related, but nothing excites me more than an erotic story that embraces the truth of human sexuality. If a character comes five times during a five-minute fuck, I’m just too busy rolling my eyes to get turned on. If I feel like I’ve learned something about the mysteries of sex from a story, if a thought or a feeling I couldn’t quite pin down has been articulated eloquently, the author has me on my knees, panting with desire.

What are you working on next?

I’m ready—any day now—to start writing my second novel, an edgy erotic romance that is a peek through the bedroom keyhole of American history in the 20th century. Sally Rand will probably make an appearance, along with Bettie Page and camera clubs in the 1950s, John Updike’s spouse-swapping suburbia and lots more. The research for this one should be fun, too. I am glad to have found work I love.

As a little treat, here’s a video from YouTube of Sally Rand performing at the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair:

Dirty Girls contributor interview with Kristina Wright

April 18, 2008

Kristina Wright’s erotic fiction has appeared in over forty anthologies, including four editions of the Lambda award-winning series Best Lesbian Erotica, two editions of Best Women’s Erotica, two volumes of the Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, and three editions of Ultimate Lesbian Erotica. Her work has also been featured in the nonfiction guide The Many Joys of Sex Toys and in e-zines such as Clean Sheets, Scarlet Letters, and Good Vibes Magazine. Kristina holds a BA in English and an MA in Humanities. For more information, visit her website, www.kristinawright.com.

Tell us a little about yourself, aside from what’s in your official bio.

Surprisingly — or not so surprisingly — I’ve been writing about sex since I was in high school. The title of my senior Psychology research paper was “Behind Closed Doors: Women’s Sexual Fantasies.” I got an A. Since then, I’ve written numerous academic papers on the topic of female sexuality.

I stumbled upon writing erotic fiction quite by accident. It was 1999 and I had just published my first romance novel with Silhouette Intimate Moments. I was sick of writing novel proposals, so I wrote this quirky story called “Service Entrance” about a woman who gives a man a blowjob and then pays him for the privilege. I had no idea what to do with the story. At the time, I subscribed to a newsletter called Jane’s ‘Net Sex Guide, put out by the fabulous Jane Duvall, who runs Jane’s Guide. The newsletter editor, Adrienne Benedicks, who runs the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, liked my story and sent me the sweetest, most flattering e-mail about it. “Service Entrance” was my very first erotica story ever and Adrienne bought it for Jane’s ‘Net Sex Guide within days– talk about validation!

After that first sale, I discovered Adrienne’s mailing list for erotica writers, which is a treasure trove of information for writers. A few months later, I sent “Service Entrance” to Marcy Sheiner for what would become a new series for Cleis — Best Women’s Erotica — and she published it in that inaugural 2000 edition. I haven’t looked back since. I give tons of credit and appreciation to Jane Duvall, Adrienne Benedicks and Marcy Sheiner for starting my career as an erotica writer.

(Just a note about “Service Entrance” — I received several e-mails telling me I must be a guy pretending to be a woman because women didn’t enjoy giving oral sex that much.)

Other things about me: I had a long distance, whirlwind relationship with a Navy sailor back in 1990 and this October we will have been happily married for18 years. I’m a coffee addict. The baristas at my local Starbucks often have my coffee ready before I even get to the counter. I have had the same car for almost 16 years — a blue 1992 Mazda Miata. I’ve known my best friend Sheri for almost 20 years, though we’ve only lived in the same state (Florida) for a year and a half. I believe in commitment and I’m very loyal: whether it’s to marriage, a coffee shop, a car or a friend.

Your story “Beautiful Creature” is told wonderfully from a male point of view. What was the inspiration for the story? What do you feel you bring to the form as a woman writing from a male POV?

It is unusual for me to write from the male POV. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have taking the male perspective in a story. It wasn’t a conscious thought on my part, really. “Beautiful Creature” just evolved as Jon’s observations.

The story was inspired by a trip I took with my husband Jay to St. Thomas in July 2006. Jay is a SCUBA diver and would get up quite early every morning to go diving. I’m not a diver or a morning person, so I would drag myself out of bed around 9 and head down to the beach. Each day, about the time I was heading back to my room for a nap before lunch, I would see this stunning woman sitting at the open air bar by the pool. She was always alone, she looked heartbreakingly sad and I couldn’t help but wonder about her story. She wore a wedding ring, but I never saw her husband (or anyone else, for that matter). Observing her this way, unable to get into her head, I started speculating on what the men who noticed her (there were many) might be thinking. Thus, Jon was created.

In the story, your narrator Jon zeroes in on a married woman and pursues her. He seems to see parts of her that she blocks off from the rest of the world:

The elevator had passed the fifth floor and was climbing.

“Take your top off, now, before the elevator door opens, or I won’t fuck you.”

She stared at him, blue eyes startled, a blush creeping into her cheeks. Despite her dismay, there was something in her expression that let him know she was aroused at the thought of exposing herself at his command.

How does he know or intuit what she will like sexually?

“Beautiful Creature” is all about stripping away — literally and figuratively — the superficial artifice that has become Pamela’s identity. Jon is that rare person who cannot only see beneath the surface of what she shows the world, he also has the nerve to follow up on it. There is also the fantasy world that is vacation– things can happen at an island resort that couldn’t possibly happen any place else. Pamela is able to let her guard down and allow Jon into her private world because she’s out of her element and he recognizes a crack in her carefully maintained facade.

In a sense, “Beautiful Creature” is bittersweet, because the lovers only have that one encounter to enjoy each other before parting ways. What emotions are you trying to evoke in readers with the story?

I think consciously trying to evoke emotion can be a tricky thing because readers bring to the story their own history and experiences. When I finished writing “Beautiful Creature,” I felt happy for Pamela. She had finally found what she craved — not Jon, he was only a conduit for the emotions she had kept bottled up– but all of those desires “good girls” aren’t supposed to have. She had fallen into that trap of the pretty girl, the untouchable beauty, the trophy wife, and Jon pulled her free. Yes, their time together is bittersweet, but I think there is a sense of hope, as well, for Pamela’s future happiness.

You’ve written dozens of erotic stories over the years. How do you keep your erotica exciting for you as an author? What do you do if/when you get writer’s block?

To be honest, it’s tough sometimes to keep it exciting for myself. When I find myself yawning over what should be a hot sex scene, I know it’s time to work on something different. I know I’m onto something good when a story or writing project scares me — my best writing usually comes out of challenging myself to do something different.

I don’t really believe in Writer’s Block, but I do have times when I will procrastinate from writing. There are times when I’d rather clean (and who likes to clean?) rather than write. Then I’ll read a book, watch a movie or listen to music that I find sensual or arousing. It doesn’t have to be porn or erotica — Motown can get me going — it just has to get the creative juices flowing. I’m also a big believer in people-watching for inspiration, obviously. Several of my stories, including “Beautiful Creature,” have been inspired by watching interesting people in public. We all go about our lives as if we’re in a private bubble, never realizing that others are watching us…and speculating about who we are. I carry my camera everywhere and will take pictures of things that inspire me, whether it’s a little girl picking a flower growing out of a concrete sidewalk or the Emo teen reading The New York Times or an elderly couple holding hands and giggling. These images have a way of working themselves into my writing.

What’s your general erotica-writing process like? Do you write on a set schedule or when you’re inspired?

I try to write on a loose schedule of six days a week/ five to six hours a day, with about half of that time devoted to erotica writing. The rest of my work time goes to other writing projects, administrative stuff (which includes reading guidelines, research, blogging, answering e-mail, etc.) and editing stories in progress. When it’s crunch time, that changes to seven days a week and as many hours as I can write. I don’t think I’m particularly disciplined, but non-writer friends tell me otherwise, so I suppose it’s all a matter of perspective.

My favorite quote about writing, which I’ve seen attributed to the amazing Dorothy Parker, is: “I hate writing– but I love having written.” It’s been my experience that if I wait for inspiration to strike before I start writing, I’ll have a very clean house, be caught up on my e-mail and have watched all my Netflix movies — but won’t have written more than a few hundred words.

What do you see as the connection (if any) between feminism and erotica? Are there feminist elements in your work?

Erotica, like feminism, is about empowerment. Erotica anthologies such as Dirty Girls are not only entertaining and arousing, they let women explore their fantasies and reassure them that it’s all right to enjoy sex on their own terms. When I write a story like “Beautiful Creature” and a woman identifies with the emotions and desires of the female character, hopefully she feels validated. And aroused, of course. Likewise, I think it’s important to stop excluding men from the feminist discussion. Dirty Girls is sure to have many male readers and, hopefully, they will come away from the collection understanding that female sexuality is a powerful force of nature — certainly as strong and meaningful as male sexuality — and something they should respect and cherish.

Several years ago, Rebecca Walker (Alice Waker’s daughter) edited a book of essays by young feminists called To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism.This collection of essays by a broad spectrum of feminists dispelled the myth of feminists as suit-wearing, sex-loathing, man-hating women. There have been other essays and books since then that have expounded on the notion of what it means to be a feminist, but mainstream culture still perpetuates the message that in order to be a feminist you cannot admit you are a sexual being. Likewise, Dirty Girls offers a wide variety of voices on the topic of what it means to be a “dirty girl.” Every story, every opinion, every experience is valid– and “dirty” is not a dirty word.

What do you think makes a good erotica story work?

What makes a good erotica story work are the same things that makes any good story work — character development, attention to detail, a twist that catches the reader off guard. If the sex flows naturally out of the characters’ relationships and personalities– whether it’s traditional sex, kinky sex, alien sex or sex that is only suggested — the reader will believe in the characters. And the writer.

What are you working on next?

At the moment, I’m frantically trying to finish my first screenplay. I’m taking a graduate screenwriting class for fun and I have spent the past sixteen weeks being scared out of my mind. It’s a good thing. I’m taking the summer off from teaching (I’m a college adjunct, teaching English and Humanities) and plan to spend the summer writing a novel length erotic romance, working on some nonfiction pieces and, as always, writing short erotic fiction for upcoming anthology deadlines. (Like I said, I’m committed.)

The Dirty Girls book party (with boob cake), in photos

April 15, 2008

Piles of Dirty Girls

What can I say about the Dirty Girls book party? It was a lot of fun, though the start of it was rocky because I was a bit frazzled, as usual. Sutra Lounge was an amazing, intimate, gorgeous venue, with a throne-like chair for us to sit on and drink specials and loveliness. Between 40 and 50 people showed up and listened raptly as I read along with Lillian Ann Slugocki, Suki Bishop, Tsaurah Litzky, and Sofia Quintero. Then I got to cut the boob cake from Moist and Tasty, which had thick fondant as the “skin” and yummy chocolate cake with a light layer of frosting beneath. I sold out all my copies of the book and we signed autographs, primped and posed for photographer Stacie Joy, and chattered away. At the very end of the night, Marie Lyn Bernard (who is reading at In The Flesh on Thursday along with Sofia Quintero) showed up. See my entire photo set here

Dirty Girls contributors
L to R: Lillian Ann Slugocki, Sofia Quintero, Suki Bishop, Rachel Kramer Bussel

Lillian Ann Slugocki read from “Trucky Stop Cinderella:”

Lillian Ann Slugocki reads "Truck Stop Cinderella"

Suki Bishop read from “Flight:”

Suki Bishop reads from "Flight" in Dirty Girls

Tsaurah Litzky read from “Lily:”

Tsaurah Liztky reads from Dirty Girls

Sofia Quintero read from “El Encanto del Mar:”

Sofia Quintero reads from Dirty Girls

The cake was amazing:

Touching the boob cake

My friend Tess was sporting amazing cleavage to match the cake:

Boob cake plus boobs


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