Archive for the ‘interview’ Category

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 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.

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:

Watch my interview with Audacia Ray

April 15, 2008

Audacia Ray of Live Girl Review (and Waking Vixen and Naked City) did a video interview with me about Dirty Girls as part of the virtual book tour. Check it out:

Interview with Lillian Ann Slugocki

April 8, 2008

fyi – I’m not sure why the interview with Lillian isn’t loading – am working on it!

Here’s the latest of the Dirty Girls: Erotica for Women contributor interviews.

Lillian will read from her story “Truck Stop Cinderella” at the free book party this Thursday, April 10th, 7-9 pm, at Sutra Lounge, 16 First Avenue off First Street, NYC. Please join us for readings, boob cake, drink specials and lots of fun!

Lillian Ann Slugocki, an award-winning feminist writer, has created a body of work on women and their sexuality that includes fiction, nonfiction, plays, and monologues that have been produced on Broadway, Off Broadway, Off Off Broadway and on National Public Radio. Her work has been published in books, in journals, in anthologies, and online, including on Salon.com. She has been reviewed in The New York Times, The Village Voice, Art in America, The New Yorker, The Daily News, and the New York Post; and recently in London, in Time Out, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and The London Sunday Times.

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

I just finished a Master’s Degree at NYU at The Gallatin School which was a huge eye opening experience for me. As a guerrilla feminist producing radio and theatre in the 1990’s in New York City, it was illuminating to read what other feminist writers and critics had to say about storytelling, about female protagonists, about what our limitations were and what we were up against. In other words, I had the instinct and the intuition, but the formal education gave it a broader platform and helped placed it in a feminist historical context.

What inspired your story “Truck Stop Cinderella?” What do you hope people take way from it?

I see Gracie Angelique DuBois [the protagonist of “Truck Stop Cinderella”] as a proto-feminist, one of the first models coming off the assembly line in the early 1970’s. She is acutely aware of the power of her sexuality, and isn’t afraid to use it to her advantage. Unlike the classical story of Cinderella, which I see as a model of passive femininity, Gracie has agency and power because she also takes pride in the money she makes, her own money — which brings autonomy and freedom. When Prince Charming comes into her life as the mysterious handsome man, he rocks her world, yes, but in truth, she is already well on her way to becoming her own woman. She’s not waiting to be rescued, she is rescuing herself. Her goal is not a husband, but escape. This is what I love about her, along with her bouffant hair-do and her baby blue 1971 convertible.

This story is part of a series you’re doing retelling fairy tales in the form of erotica. Can you tell us more about this project and how the two are linked? Do you think there are already sexual elements to the common fairy tales?

This series, called, She Who Goes Mad: A Collection of Erotic Feminist Fairy Tales is part of the ongoing feminist desire to “re-write” our myths. Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid, and Snow White, to name just a few, perpetuate the idea of submissive female protagonists. The strong women, like the Evil Step-Mother in Snow White are diabolical; the witch or the bitch. My role model for this is Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber. Like her, I borrow many of the conventions of fairy tales, but the narratives are amplified beyond these static boundaries with erotica. The heroines now have agency, they are empowered, exhibit Eros. I do believe that power is there, has always been there, but it’s been hidden or repressed.

Your stories also are markedly feminist, and make statements about class, gender roles, and sexism. How are erotica and feminism intertwined for you? How can they complement each other?

Anytime a woman takes it upon herself to write her story, it is a feminist action. Anytime a woman decides that she is subject, not object, that is a feminist action. I decided in the mid 1990’s to take objectified feminine sexuality, which I saw on the cover of almost every magazine across the city, and make it personal, to define for myself what its like to be sexual and female. To become subject, not object. Coming of age in the 1970’s, the ideal woman and what made her sexy — these definitions came from the male paradigm. I think writing erotica is an ideal way for a woman artist to proclaim her freedom from “the male gaze” and define for herself what it means to be a woman.

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

Truthfully I’m always thinking; what can I subvert? What is axiomatic in our culture, regarding women, and how can I change it up? How can I offer an alternate view? “Mary Magdalene,” a monologue for The Erotica Project re-imagines one of the greatest whores in history as a strong and intelligent, sexual woman who deeply loves her man, who just happens to be Jesus Christ. I was publicly denounced by the Catholic League when the monologue was published on Salon.com who called it blasphemous. That was a very proud moment for me–religion and mythology have been male dominated for so long, and I was thrilled to have ruffled some feathers.

What do you think makes a good erotica story work?

I think the protagonist has to be a three dimensional woman with a story to tell. She has to be a complex woman with psychological and emotional depth who is on a journey, and the vehicle for that journey is her sexuality. I think women read erotica differently than men read it. I think we read it as validation for being sexual beings, who enjoy and revel in the erotic, who can choose the form of that expression–we don’t have to be the whore or the witch, we don’t have to worry about being denounced, we can just be who we are. If that joy and that freedom and that complexity are all present in erotica, written by women, it will be, I believe, a good story.

You’ve worked in different genres and storytelling styles. How is writing erotica different or similar to your other work?

Writing erotica is fulfilling to me as a feminist artist because it is always political and always deeply personal. Before I wrote erotica, I wrote a great deal about the women burned as witches in the 17th century. I had this idea in my head that I could try and resurrect their voices, because they were lost to our traditional historical narrative. It was thrilling to work with primary source materials; the letters they wrote, their trial transcripts and try to, again, re-imagine them as strong women stuck in a very bad time. Their biggest crime, according to their persecutors, was their gender, their deviant devilish sexuality. So now in retrospect it’s not surprising that I would turn my attention to women and their devilish, deviant sexuality in the contemporary world.

What are you working on next?

I’m finishing up a novel, The Blue Mountains: A Metaphysical Love Story, which takes place over several centuries. It contains all my usual obsessions” sexuality, history, strong women. Angelique, a witch in the 12th century, curses her lover for betraying her and that curse remains with her and her lover over the course of eight hundred years. I’m also working on a film project called 10 One Night Stands–a series of short films that depict one night stands, in all their eroticism, but also examines the changed dynamics of the relationships between men and women in the 21st century. These are very comic and I hope deliciously sexy, but also very subversive. They are meant to make the audience squirm a bit in their seats. One story in particular is about a rape fantasy between a husband and wife. The wife is sick of being the “victim” and wants to be the rapist. He tells her, “No way baby, I can’t get it up for that.” And she tells him that he had better try.