I just got an anonymous comment over at Lusty Lady saying:
Rachel, I think you’re just propping up the sleazy straight guy fantasy. By promoting female bisexuality, that’s what you’re effectively doing. Female bisexuality for the purpose of male appeasement is actually dis-empowering to women. I note that you don’t seem to promote male bisexuality or the women who like male bisexuality. Why’s that?
What’s funny is…I have no idea who this person is (very likely a “sleazy straight guy”). But, okay – I’m a bisexual woman, so, um, it might make sense that my work focuses on women, though not all of it does. But I also have written about “Dirty Bisexuals” (including men) and boobisexuals (which I broadened to include gay men). I know I don’t have the platform of The Village Voice anymore, but trust me, I dig bi guys. I just think it’s interesting how the first place someone goes is on attack. I would say more but I don’t think anonymous comments simply meant to provoke are really worth it. What do you think?
Lux Nightmare of Boinkology, herself certainly a dirty girl (and part of the virtual book tour), gave Dirty Girls: Erotica for Women a shoutout on Fleshbot today. And yes, I said the book is for “literary size queens” cause it’s extra long.
At 27 stories long, “Dirty Girls” is a book for “literary size queens” (at least according to editor Rachel Kramer Bussel). Even though we usually tend to prefer our books short and sweet—who doesn’t like a good quickie?—we can’t deny that this book is well worth a read: from girls who like to take to stories of girls who like to be taken; girls who like girls, girls who like boys, and girls who like both; waitresses, dommes, college professors, college students … well, you can probably figure out that there’s something for everyone in this collection. (And don’t be discouraged by that “erotica for women” tagline: it may be made for a woman, but we promise it’s hot enough for a man as well.
From the first story, Fucking Around, by Marie Lyn Bernard, I was hooked. Hooked enough, I couldn’t resist reading, and squirming in my seat, on my commute. However, in nearly every story, there’s an emotional component that got under my skin and made me ache as well as throb.
The variety is compelling. I am only half way through and I can’t wait to read the next story and the next. Do you like to watch and be watched? Does the beat of music make your clit throb? Have you ever thought about leaving a long term relationship and delving head, heart and cunt first into the unknown? Do you want to sit and watch as your lover sinks his erection into a girl you chose for him? Have you thought about jerking off the stranger sitting next to you on a plane? The dirty girls in this collection do all that and more.
Some stories are wank worthy from the start, Like a Good Girl, by Alison Tyler, is a prime example of writing that got my heart thumping and my pussy wet almost immediately. Truck Stop Cinderella, which I had the pleasure of hearing the author, Lillian Ann Slugocki, read at In the Flesh, makes you feel like you’ve known her heroine, Gracie, in eight pages.
I’m having a super fun, free book party tonight, April 10th, for my brand-new anthology with 27 HOT stories, Dirty Girls: Erotica for Women, from 7 – 9 pm in NYC at Sutra Lounge, 16 First Avenue off First Street, Free
There will be boob cake to honor the nipple on the book’s cover from Moist and Tasty, readings by me (Rachel Kramer Bussel) and contributors Tsaurah Litzky, Sofia Quintero, Lillian Ann Slugocki and Suki Bishop. Plus drink specials and books for sale!
I’ve been remiss in posting about the Dirty Girls: Erotica for Women virtual book tour, which will be going on throughout April, I’m sorting out the 2nd half of the month now and will update this post with that info. Also, the book party with free boob cake (also by Moist and Tasty, who made the boob cooies below) is this Thursday, April 10th, 7-9, free at Sutra Lounge, 16 First Avenue off First Street, NYC. 21+ – please join us!
April 2008 Dirty Girls virtual book tour
1 Viviane’s Sex Carnival
2 Seska 4 lovers
3 Interview by Javacia Harris at Velocity Weekly and Erotica Writing Tips
4 Excerpt at Bliss Warrior
5 on vacation
6 Bad Advice/Judy McGuire
7 Guest Post at Lust Bites
8 20 Questions at Hot Movies for Her
9 Deborah Siegel/Girl With Pen
11 NYC Urban Gypsy
12 Funky Brown Chick
14 Video interview by Audacia Ray at Live Girl Review
15 Pretty Dumb Things
16 Enchantments (Andrea Dale)
17 Lusty Lady
18 The Year of the Books (Shanna Germain)
19 on vacation
20 on vacation
21 Read in Bed! (Megan Hart)
22 The Principles of Pleasure
23 Trollop With a Laptop (Alison Tyler)
24 Baser Instincts
25 Mint Jelly
29 Being Amber Rhea
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.
What I like best about it is that it represents so many stages of women’s lives. I think that even those who have been with the same partner their whole lives still have fantasies about, say, sex with strangers or peep shows or orgies, and erotica, as many of you certainly know, is a brilliant way to tease out those fantasies. It lets women know they’re not alone and hopefully the more erotica that’s out there, the more women will be encouraged to pick up a pen and start writing.
I know for me, some of my best and most intense sexual experiences have been enhanced by writing about them later. Though currently most of my stories are fictional, those early autobiographical stories helped me figure out who I was sexually and which moments were the most meaningful. I was able to reshape and recast them and once I’d published them, learn about what other people had gone through, and I think this book will cause similar moments of self-identification.
And of course I’ll remind you again, but the book party is this Thursday, April 10th, FREE, with a boob cake, drink specials, and readings by me, Tsaurah Litzky, Sofia Quintero, Lillian Ann Slugocki and Suki Bishop from 7-9 at Sutra Lounge, 16 First Avenue (off First Street), 21+
Viviane’s Sex Carnival kicks off Day 1 of my virtual book tour for Dirty Girls today with an excerpt from my story “Icy Hot,” about a woman, a man, a hot day and the last bag of ice in the bodega. Check back here every day for more excerpts, reviews, and interviews about the book.
I’ll preface this interview by saying that I totally heart Marie Lyn Bernard. Her story “Fucking Around” is worth the price of Dirty Girls alone. I say this as someone who reads so much erotica, almost nothing seems new anymore. I’m always looking for the exquisite gems like hers, the ones that I’ll gladly reread over and over, the ones that teach me and thrill me and make me remember and want and lust. Her words do that.
She has this incredible energy and sense of humor and intelligence that all combine in this unique and wonderful way. That sounds vague, but only because I’m pretty much saying you have to meet her and/or read her work to know exactly what I’m talking about.
It comes through in this interview, and in her piece, “Fucking Around,” which opens Dirty Girls and makes it fitting to have her as my first author interview. Also, you can catch her LIVE on Thursday, April 17th at my reading series In The Flesh where she and Haviland Stillwell will reprise their awesomeness. In the meantime, watch these videos (parts 1 and 2 from the same night) of her reaing with Stephanie Whited at an earlier In The Flesh, parts 1 and 2. She also has her own YouTube page.
Marie Lyn Bernard is a half-Jewish, half-Midwestern farmer’s-daughter freelance aspirant. She blogs regularly at This Girl Called Automatic Win (marielynbernard.blogspot.com), the L Word Online, and OurChart.com. Among other places, her work has appeared in The Bigger the Better, The Tighter the Sweater: 20 Funny Women on Beauty; Body Image & Other Hazards of Being Female; Best American Erotica 2007; Best Women’s Erotica 2005; Marie Claire; nerve.com, CleanSheets, Suspect Thoughts, Fresh Off the Vine, Conversely, Desdmona.com, The Sarah Lawrence Review, and ElitesTV.com. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 2003 with a very handy degree in English literature. She lives in Harlumbia, believes in St. Elmo’s Fire, and occasionally fools around with a website called www.marielynbernard.com.
Tell us a little about yourself, aside from what’s in your official bio.
I’ve been typing words for many years. I used to write novels about time travel, now I write about how I used to write novels about time travel. Every day I promise myself I’m gonna start a “schedule,” sometimes I write it down, when I follow it I’m certain I’ll follow it tomorrow too but then I don’t always do that. My favorite writers right now are Stephen Dunn, Eileen Myles, Jennifer L. Knox, Lorrie Moore, Sam Anderson and Mary Gaitskill. I own approximately 15 hoodies but still do laundry every week. I analyze everything until it barely exists, like Angela Chase. When I grow up, I want to be a big bright shining star, but the kind that can shine brightly without having to go out into public places very often. Cavestar. I have a lot of big ideas about changing the world through literature but when I start to talk about what I want or who I am, insecurity takes over and instead of speaking about ideas, I just shrug a lot and look at my shoes. I could’ve benefited from eating more Fruit by the Foot. As I write this, my friends are saying, “Don’t write anything ridiculous or crazy.” Real friends or imaginary friends? I’ll never tell…
What was the inspiration for your story “Fucking Around” and how long did it take to write?
Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear. (Name that movie!) This is what I remember: I went to an In the Flesh in early ’06 and my friend said, “You should read here.” And so I emailed you (RKB) and said “Can I read here?” and you said, “Yes.” So later that year, my best friend Haviland and I went to another In the Flesh, and afterwards we talked about how we’d like to do something really different, together, for my In the Flesh reading in ’06. About two days before the reading, I realized I had nothing to read. This is typical. And so I wrote a draft of “Fucking Around” in about 3-4 hours. I brought it to Haviland. We read it together⎯it was over ten minutes. We cut and added…eventually we trimmed it down to approximately the proper time. I tweaked it a tiny bit the next day. All in all…it took about 5-6 hours to write. In retrospect, I can’t believe I used to do things so quickly. I wish I could do that again. I think “New York City fucks me,” is something we all think every now and then. Some of the encounters are specific people, imaginary or real.
I think it was on the tip of my tongue⎯possibly related to these “city poems” a girl Amalia had written in my high school (I went to a boarding school for the arts where students took Poetry Seriously) that included brilliant lines like: “chapel hill feeds me smushed-up cake with a spoon. she calls all her clothes ‘pajamas’.” and “d.c. molests his children. nobody really says much about it because they’re afraid of him hearing and writing down what they say.” I’d forgotten about these poems until my friend who came to my reading reminded me. I thought, yes⎯THAT is where thoughts come from! Other people’s thoughts! I imagine personifying cities (anthropomorphism) is a popular technique⎯the Mesopotamian gods, Uncle Sam, etc. I guess I just took it and made it sexy, but I think at the time I was also thinking a lot about why we come home to certain places/people again and again despite their obvious glaring drawbacks, and why the rest of the world/population is never enough. Also that week I was moving⎯jobs, friends, apartment (brooklyn to manhattan), goals⎯so probs that was related to my state of mind.
In the story, the narrator is fucking various cities across the United States. In your experience, what city is the best place to have sex in?
I feel obligated to answer “New York City.” ‘Cause the whole world’s spinning outside without you, so you have to start a fire in your room to feel that anything you’re doing is actually important. But really…it’s where your heart is. FYI, I think it’d be funny if I answered “Detroit,” and then gave you several reasons why: 1. The Henry Ford Museum, 2. Eminem. 3. My Mom lives there in case of an emergency. 4. Motown!
I think cities are best; the sensation that there’s a million other things you COULD be doing, but you’re choosing not to ’cause you’d rather be fucking…as opposed to sex by default (nothing else to do). I really have no idea what I’m talking about, I’d like to go back to “where your heart is.” Kansas? That’s not a city. Oh wait, it is! Kansas City! Never been there. I bet it’s full of hotties who like to do it, like Dorothy Gale.
The story has an unusual format, and worked very well as a live piece. Was it challenging to write the story in that way? Do you feel that it works differently on the page vs. live?
I’ve written many plays and screenplays so it wasn’t hard to write as a live piece. If anything, it’s easier ’cause it’s not 100% my responsibility to rock it, I can depend on my co-reader to carry some of the weight. I think it’s much more effective live, but people who’ve read it on the page still feel it’s good, which surprises me, but now I accept that idea. At first I wouldn’t let anyone read it ’cause I was like, “OMG, it’s better live.” But here we go with the book, I’m totally Zen about it, fo’real.
Your story is very humorous, but also sad at times; it goes through a lot of emotions. Was that deliberate?
That’s always how I write, ’cause that’s how my brain works: sad and then funny, funny and then sad. I don’t think I’ve ever been sad sad sad sad without a break of funny or vice versa. My brain, to a disturbing degree, isn’t interested in sticking to one feeling or another. This is refreshing in fiction (I hope), less refreshing in real life/actual friendships/relationships.
Why do you enjoy writing erotica? How is it similar or different from the other kinds of writing you do?
I think it’s easier…’cause the “climax” of the story is already a given⎯whatever conflict you’ve set up between your characters can be confronted/resolved via the sexual encounter. It’s like anything where you’re writing with a theme/topic…it helps. It guides. The kind of writing “I do” lately is a lot of television recaps and blog entries and top tens and to be honest that is not so different, except that speaking explicitly of what actually happens during sex is shocking rather than expected. Now that more people actually read what I write, I don’t write about sex as much unless it’s from a cultural/political perspective or more subtle. I dunno, it makes me feel too exposed I think. But you get to reveal some of your character’s most ingrained fears/passions right away, which is great. Right now I dig writers like Mary Gaitskill and Maggie Estep who don’t shy from explicit sex in their narratives but also aren’t writing with sex at the forefront of their goals for the story. If that makes sense.
What are you working on next?
1. World peace
2. Self peace/esteem
3. My Blog, Obvs.
4. My Book…my…Memoir! ’cause I’m So! Important! It’s about paradox. And the self. Surprise!
5. There’s always another blog to write.
6. Getting the hell out of dodge.
7. Reading (next on the list: The Book of Other People/edited by Zadie Smith, Virginia Woolf/Orlando, Kathy Acker/My Mother: A Demonology, Junot Diaz/Drown, the new issue of Marie Claire.
8. Polishing/improving my video editing skills to make more videos
9. Cleaning my room
10. Finishing this interview! Ta-Da!!