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.
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…
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.
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:
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.
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
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+
Dirty Girls: Erotica for Women has just arrived at my publisher, Seal Press, so copies should be in bookstores any day. Save these dates:
NYC book party: Thursday, April 10th, 7-9 pm, Sutra Lounge, 16 First Avenue (at First Street), NYC, with readings and a boob cake from Moist and Tasty – with readers Tsaurah Litzy, Lillian Ann Slugocki, Sofia Quintero, and Suki Bishop
San Francisco book party: Monday, April 28th, 7-9 pm, Cafe Royale,800 Post Street (at Leavenworth), San Francisco, with Rachel Kramer Bussel, Carol Queen, Donna George Storey, Melissa Gira, and Gina de Vries
Also, on Thursday, April 17th at 8 pm, I will be reading along with contributors Sofia Quintero and Marie Lyn Bernard at my reading series In The Flesh, at Happy Ending Lounge, 302 Broome Street. Free, 21+, with free candy and cupcakes – click here for full lineup. And if you’re not in New York, don’t worry, we’ll be taping it and I’ll post the readings here – they’re going to be fabulous and in fact, Marie Lyn Bernard’s piece, “Fucking Around,” I first heard read at In The Flesh and loved it so much I knew I had to have it for Dirty Girls.
Melissa Lion interviewed me over at Bookslut for her Sticky Pages column.
The whole point of this column is to hip you to books that have hot sex, but not hot covers. You know, so you can read them on your lunch break or tuck them under your arm and retire to the airport loo. Dirty Girls: Erotica for Women, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, does not have this type of cover. It has nipple. Not exactly sittin’ in the bleachers during soccer practice reading. However, the erotica in it is by far the best I’ve read. The stories are well-written and dirty, elegant and realistic. So realistic, I made that rookie reader move of checking the author’s name against the narrator’s name no less than five times. Surely this is real, I thought, or maybe just hoped.
A column picking out the scenes in this great book would be far too long, so I went for the lazy girl approach. I dropped an e-mail to Rachel Kramer Bussel with seven questions attached. I figured that as a senior editor at Penthouse Variations, a prolific writer, and one of America’s top cupcake mavens (no kidding), she’d be way more interesting than I would. Plus there are a few scenes I need to reread. Excuse me, would you.
What makes a good sex scene in fiction?
A scene where you know what at least one of the character’s motivation is, that you get why they’re having sex with that particular person, what makes it hot for them. You want to put the reader into the middle of the sex and make them feel everything the person is feeling.