Archive for February, 2010

Craig Sorensen

Posted in Writers on February 28, 2010 by neve black

Warm Comforts on Naked Flesh

©2010 Craig J. Sorensen

I suppose the photo that accompanies my thoughts on the subject of nudity is pretty tame, but I’m comfortable with that.  Comfortable on many levels.

Let me explain.

This picture was taken of me back during one of my forays into writing before I became dedicated to it a few years back.  I was working on a story idea that extends back to my childhood.  Call it a fantasy novel, for lack of better, though it has no elements of sorcery or the supernatural.  But the ancient world within it is from my mind, so technically it is a fantasy.  I was so intent on the writing that day that I didn’t know the picture was being taken.  For some reason, when I know I’m being photographed, my face hardens and I don’t like the way I look.

This surprise photo, taken by my wife when I was intent on writing, is comfort number 1.

Back when I was writing that fantasy novel I was disorganized, given to scattered thoughts.  I formulated settings and people in my mind and a basic premise and started writing.  It was a naïve way to go, but as I look back, it was essential in my creative development.  But for the bold way I approached developing my story, I was cautious in how I told them.  I was very bound by what I thought might be acceptable socially, and limited how far I might be able to go with my characters.  I pushed the envelope by exploring sexuality, but in a careful manner.

To some extent, these limitations and my quiet tendency to struggle with them, may have been why I was fascinated by nudity from a very early age.  This took me down a strange road where pushing limits met with innocence; it was to be a collision course.

Back in the early 1970’s, before my voice cracked, I discovered that a friend shared my fascination with nudity.  We used to sleep out under the stars in our back yards during the long, pleasant Idaho summers.  Often we’d just lie and look at the twinkles in the sky, but it progressed to where we joined forces, casting aside the bonds of our clothes.   It started in the back yard, behind the safety of a tall fence, but we could not be restrained, and we began to venture out, running side by side.

I have no idea how many times we did this, but a long string of successful forays made us cocky.   We never really thought how hard our feet could hit the ground.  But one night it was hard enough that we weren’t the only ones that knew we were running.  We were about half way around the outside of back fence the first time we heard my father’s voice.  We slowed and stared at each other a couple of times as he called again.  We went to the front door.  Of course, it was locked.  I’m not sure if we thought we could get away with finding some of my clothes and getting dressed, then coming back out.  That point was moot.

We had nothing to do but face the music.

I’ll never forget the shocked looks on my parents’ faces as we walked together through the gate into the back yard.  My dad said one word: “Naked?”  I cannot adequately describe the sound of his voice.  My friend and I spent the rest of the night securely in my room and, not too surprisingly, our friendship became limited by external forces.  We drifted apart to become not much more than acquaintances as we grew up.

But that warm Idaho night was not the last time I ran bare.  Just the last time with him.  I ran bare numerous times before streaking was all the rage, and I continued to explore taking chances running nude for years to come.  It was a sporadic thing that satisfied something in me.  Something ineffable, mysterious, and something I didn’t really fathom; it was as much a compulsion as a desire.

A few years back I began writing daily.  I went back to the fantasy novel that had run rampant in my head since I was a boy.  I finished it, but I didn’t know what to do with it; it was an oddball and I was a literary unknown.  This was an unseen blessing.  I decided I needed to write something in a more established genre.  I tried my hand at literary stories, and found I don’t have the passion for it.  One submission even came back with the hand written note, “you write very well, but this story lacked vitality.”  On a chance occurrence, I submitted an erotic story, one of two that I had written during my literary phase, to a fledgling e-magazine and to my surprise, it was instantly accepted.  Though this first effort was not published because the magazine folded, I had found where my lamp burned brightest.

Now I had to allow myself to write stories to my inner voice.  Even the grubby story that had been accepted, very dark by my standards, had an element of restraint, and not in a delicious, kinky-bondage way.  I was channeling my deeper passions into something darker as a bit of distraction, but I didn’t know that then.  I look at it now as being a reflection of society, the very violent but sexual story justified its sexuality in that violence.

In a sense, my headlong run into erotica, and being more honest in my voice, was a figurative stripping away of clothes.  It wasn’t instantaneous, with all clothes shed in a moment, but was a peeling of layers and it all started with that dark story that later did get published.  This is comfort number 2.

I do not feel the urge to physically run nude anymore.  Back in the day my physical self, as it were, reached out because my creativity sat in restraints.

Nowadays, I do not accept the mantle of clothes as a personal preference, but as a citizen of our current society.  I’m as comfortable nude as clothed, and I remain clothed in deference.  This is fine with me, because I’m naked in what I write.  Comfort number 3.

The last time I was bare outside was not long before I took to writing in earnest, not long before I set on this journey to cast the more insidious clothing of my creative self aside.  I didn’t run, but just got up into a tree coated in summer leaves one night while it was raining.  I hadn’t planned to get naked, but it just felt so right.  I stood nestled within the tree and listened to the rain fall, and took a few drops that got past the leaves to my skin.  Comfort number 4.

It was probably less than a year after that I was deeply into my writing.

Quite frankly, as I reach toward age fifty and my love of good food has its way with my outer form, I think the light of my nude writing is more flattering than my current physical state.  Method author that I am, I know that I can and do run whenever I want with my pen.  My body can take many forms, and I know that my face won’t contort if someone points a proverbial camera at me.

If there are some shocked faces as I continue to explore this form of nudity, I take comfort that I’ve learned to appreciate them over time.

I write on.  Comfort complete.

By day Craig J. Sorensen busies himself in the information technology field, which he has worked in since before the iconic introduction of the IBM PC.  He has been writing even longer.  A lover of the nudity of words, he has learned to undress himself in many ways over the years.  His works can be found online and in print anthologies and journals internationally.  His focus has recently turned from short stories to novel length works, including a book based on his experiences in a Military Intelligence unit in West Germany around 1980.

Sorensen lives in south-central Pennsylvania with his supportive and talented family.

To find out more, check his blog at just-craig.blogspot.com

Donna George Storey

Posted in Writers with tags on February 21, 2010 by donnageorgestorey

Beauty in the Eye

My first foray into public erotic expression was not a story at all.  Yet when I walked into the photography studio in Los Altos, California carrying a bag of lingerie, I felt just as tingly as I do when I’m writing a scene that passes my own wet test.  Ever since I’d seen my college roommate’s boudoir photos at her baby shower a few weeks before, I’d been planning for my own sexy photo session.  I was hoping to get pregnant soon myself.  That would mean bye-bye forever to smooth skin, a slim body, and any claim to be worthy of the camera’s attention.

My roommate’s photo album was gorgeous, but she’d mentioned feeling uncomfortable with a few of the Playboy-style shots her male photographer requested.   I decided then I wanted the more empathetic eye of a woman behind the camera.  I found a wedding photographer in the phone book who also listed “boudoir” in her ad and arranged for a consultation.  I was impressed by her arty portfolio and a feature in a local newspaper in which satisfied customers attested that the boudoir session made them feel beautiful, not to mention their husbands adored the results.

My own husband happened to be thousands of miles away working on emergency assignment in Tokyo for three months, which made it easy to schedule a secret session, although it also meant a very lonely summer.  I couldn’t join him because I was finishing up my dissertation. Always dependent on external approval, a Ph.D. seemed inarguable proof that I was “smart,” although to be honest I still wasn’t convinced.   After a year of intense focus on my dissertation, all I felt was numb.

The boudoir session was the perfect tonic.  The shopping alone made me feel excited, alive, and very much in the body I’d basically ignored as I labored over successive drafts of my chapters.  Suddenly I had a new desire, a goal I hadn’t let myself consider before. I’d always been “the intellectual one.”  What if I could be sexy as well, at least for a few hours?


On that warm August evening, we started off the session with me in a black body suit and thigh-high stockings against white satin.  Next came a series in the peignoir I wore on my honeymoon, set against blue velvet. “Beautiful.  That’s perfect,” the photographer purred.   I’ll admit I felt prettier with each compliment, each click of the shutter.  Then came the time to take off my clothes.  Raised by a mother and two older sisters who were all quite comfortable being naked in each other’s presence, I was never especially shy around other women, but I did pause for a moment.

Lingerie was one thing.  Naked was the real thing.

I’d been admiring female nudes since I could remember, especially high-brow, black-and-white compositions, which sometimes produced secret stirrings that helped me understand why men enjoy porn.  But those women were chosen by the (undoubtedly male) photographer as a muse, and thus were certified as beautiful works of art and emblems of desire.  And just as I needed teachers to tell me I was smart, I needed the approving gaze of men to feel pretty.  The light in their eyes was my proof, whether the steady flame of a lover’s or the momentary flicker of a stranger’s on the street.  Without that spark, I was invisible, even to myself.

Commissioning my own nude portrait—not being tricked or charmed into by some libidinous male—suddenly felt impossibly bold, even arrogant.  I was making myself into Beauty, fearlessly daring unknown eyes to see me in the flesh, even if these photos were meant for my husband’s eyes alone.

What if I didn’t make the grade?

Fortunately, I was so at ease with the photographer, so certain this was a risk I had to take for posterity, that I soon lost myself in the yoga-like shifts of my body.  The photographer and I worked together:  sometimes she instructed me to tilt my head back farther, turn a bit more to the right, sometimes I chose poses that felt like me.   When the session ended, I was exhausted and glowing, with a new appreciation for the hard work that models do.  Finishing a Ph.D. is an achievement, but those golden hours in the studio made me feel strong in a whole different way.

Back in the days when cameras needed film, there was one final step in the process—a return visit to look over the proofs.  I spent the week on that same rollercoaster of hope and dread you feel when you submit a story to a magazine. Would there even be one photo worth printing?  Would the camera’s cool eye show me up as ridiculous, laughable?  That was the cynic’s view of the boudoir session, a way for photographers to relieve plain women of their money or even worse as a kind of masturbation, what losers must settle for when they can’t get the real thing.

I remember my heart pounding as I opened the album.

My eye settled on the first picture, the one I still use as my official erotica author photo.  Not bad, I thought.  You have your moments.  I continued turning pages.  Satin peignoir turned to bare flesh.  I’d never realized my back had such a classic hourglass shape to it.  Not bad at all.

Is it too pathetic to admit that I never really saw beauty in myself until I looked at those pictures?


I know of course that a photograph cannot make you sexy. It can only reveal an erotic spirit that already lies within.  As viewer and “object” all at once, I also understood that no model is passive, a naked ass to serve as a blank screen for the viewer’s fantasies.  By making an active decision to pose nude, I was defining myself for myself, proving I could be both intellectual and sexual, in spite of society’s abundant messages that a woman has to choose one or the other.  And if it was masturbation, it was the kind of self-pleasuring that taught you about the depths of your own desires in a way that would enhance sex with a lover.  Indeed what I learned about myself from the experience gave me the courage to start writing erotica four years later and to keep challenging those stereotypes in my writing with each new story.

And perhaps it’s no coincidence that erotic photographers and bare-all portraits are a recurring theme in my stories?

When I walked into that studio seventeen years ago, I thought the boudoir session would be a way to memorialize my youth and sexuality that would soon disappear.   Today I see it as the stirrings of a passion that would enrich my life for decades to come.  And because of what I create in my art as an erotica writer and my equally creative work as a mother, I feel sexier than ever.

That’s the naked truth.

***

Donna George Storey is the author of Amorous Woman, a semi-autobiographical tale of an American woman’s love affair with Japan.  Her short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Penthouse, Best American Erotica, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, and The Best of Best Women’s Erotica 2. She also writes a column for the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, “Cooking up a Storey,” about her favorite topics— delicious sex, well-crafted food, and mind-blowing writing.  Self-exposure of every kind is a major theme in her work.

Shanna Germain

Posted in Writers with tags on February 14, 2010 by Shanna Germain

*

Naked Truths: A Narrative

My mother and my grandmother have binge-eating disorders, the kind where you stuff yourself full of pretzels and cheese and crackers and fish and cookies and anything else that happens to be in the fridge just to fill that thing that was inside them. And then they fed all those things to me just to fill that thing that was inside them.

I learned that food meant love. A crisp slice of bacon between two pieces of homemade bread. Love. The biggest slice of pecan pie with a side of ice cream. Love. Carrots cut in slices and dipped into blue cheese dressing. Love.

Love comes in many forms. In slices like an apple or a pumpkin pie. In layers like angel’s food cake and spinach casseroles. In pieces like hard candy and crushed cookies. It sometimes comes whole, like that fish with the eyeballs still in or a fresh loaf of bread, the crust buttered and golden.

I want to feel loved. In slices, in layers, in pieces, in whole.

*

I’ve been ashamed of my body my whole life. Look, there in the mirror: Big hips, big ass, small breasts. You’ve heard this story before. I won’t bore you with it again.

Just know this: If you squint your right eye shut and stand on your tiptoes and turn the lights to the lowest setting and line yourself up with the bed post, I look better.

No, really. I do. You’re just doing it wrong.  Try the other eye.

*

I’ve never been ashamed of my body in bed. Pink nipples so sensitive that a touch might knock me over. A kiss there would finish me. A waist that curves in, a perfect handle for big hands. Hold tight, don’t let me slip away. The way my back slides into a arching, covered bridge; cross me, find your way to the other side, take me with you to that other place. Bend me, yes my knees do go behind my ears, yes my wrists fit together inside the loop of your belt, yes my legs will wrap around your waist that tight.

Bend me, bend me. There is no breaking in this story. Unless you’re talking about hearts.

I was built to fuck and be fucked.

*

Over the years, lovers have liked various parts of my body. One loved my icy blue eyes. One, my pale hair. “You’re like an angel,” he’d say and he’d kiss me that way, like I was breakable, spun-glass, spun-sugar. Another loved that space between my shoulder blades, the one that spreads like wings. The long-term one loved my ass. “Girl, that ass of yours,” he’d say. Like a growl and a prayer.

This one loves my ass, too, in a different way. We have sex when I’m bent over things: the edge of the bed, the arm of his couch, the length of his coffee table. He holds the curves of my ass in the press of his palms, turns my cheeks red with his slaps.

Or maybe I’m only guessing that he loves my ass. He never says. Maybe he just doesn’t like to see my face.

*

Once, I was fat. On a trip home to visit my father, he took my round face in his hands and looked at me for a long time.

“You look just like your mother,” he said.

“Oh, great. Now you’re insulting me,” I said back. Sudden as a slap.

Later, I realized that he’d loved my mother once, her face, enough to marry her. I stuffed my mouth full of steak from the grill, skewered gristle and fat between my teeth, kept my throat busy so no words would come out.

*

My mother has had three heart attacks that I know of. My grandmother can’t move because of the weight on her hips.

I talk to my grandmother once a month. I haven’t heard from my mother in nearly twenty years.

My mother, who looks just like me only about a hundred pounds heavier, abandoned me when I was four. I used to think that if I set out her favorite foods that she, like Santa Claus, would come and visit. I didn’t know what her favorite foods were, so I tried different combinations each night.

She never came.

*

This is a fiction story. Did I mention that? I tell lies for a living. It’s what I do, it’s the place I hide behind, that secret curtain of distance that I wrap around myself when I’m scared, when I’m lonely, when I’m alone.

Now, tell me: do you like me less?

Now, tell me: do you believe me?

I brought my body and your favorite foods. Stay.

***

***

Shanna Germain writes about sex, death, food, lust, sluts, travel and whatever other dark, dirty and delicious things reside in her brain. Her work has appeared in lots of places, including Absinthe Literary Review, Best American Erotica, Hint Fiction, and Salon. Visit her at Year of the Word.

An Open Invitation to Reveal the Real You

Posted in Uncategorized on February 1, 2010 by donnageorgestorey

We’d like to extend an open invitation to all artists, writers, photographers and creative people of every stripe to be part of our new blog, F Stop: Expose the Naked I.  Our goal is to create a space for erotic artists working in a variety of media to reveal themselves and promote their work in a sensually and intellectually stimulating way.

It is the nature of erotic art to expose hidden truths about sexuality through photographs, paint, or words, but in the process we are also exposing ourselves.  At F-Stop we’d like to explore the ways we reveal ourselves both literally “in the flesh” and through our art.  Beyond that, we have no restrictions; each guest blogger can explore this as creatively, playfully or seriously as s/he chooses.

Because F-Stop was originally inspired by our own author photographs, we’re planning to inaugurate the blog with a “naked I” series which focuses on the concept of nudity and revelation.  Here are a few possibilities for your post: you may feature a photograph with a short blurb describing/explaining/questioning something about the image and/or a piece of your writing that goes along with the image in some way; you can just send an excerpt from your written work with or without an author photograph that is especially revealing; or send artwork or something else that pushes the boundaries of our imaginations.  We’ll also include a short bio with links to your website and blog, so this will be a good way to get your name (and other parts of you) out there to new eyeballs.

Btw, a “naked” image doesn’t necessarily mean a full-body boudoir portrait if you’re not comfortable with that–an eye, a hand, lips, a glimpse of shoulder all qualify!

We hope you’ll consider exposing your “Naked I”!

Neve Black

Shanna Germain

Donna George Storey

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