Hot Shiver of Exposure
From Placeholder to Face-Holder
When I began writing erotica, my pragmatically motivated decision to use a pen name seemed to provide an opaque boundary between the sexual personality revealed in my stories and the private person residing within the four walls of my body. The erotica would stand alone, to be appreciated (or not) by those who encountered it; the name was a mere byline, a label by which to identify a specific body of work . . . a cataloging convenience that meant nothing outside the context of that body of work.
Granted, I had chosen a pseudonym that I could identify with—it wasn’t quite as if I’d decided to write as “Anonymous Author 23661”—but, incredibly, it didn’t occur to me that I would truly inhabit my new name. I saw the pen name as a placeholder, as something like a post-office box. I wasn’t pretending to be somebody else, but I was presenting myself as nobody in particular. “Jeremy Edwards” was only a literary voice (with a few relevant credentials in tow, along with the requisite business and social skills).
But the inevitable interaction with others—editors, fellow writers, readers—soon had me actually existing, even flourishing, under the pseudonym. I’m happy to say that both friendships and professional relationships quickly blossomed, and before long I found myself living much of my life as Jeremy Edwards—showing big parts of my personality, having earnest conversations, sharing jokes and quirks, and becoming truly close to some of my erotica colleagues.
Still, for my first three years as a published erotica author, I thought it prudent to avoid showing my face publicly on the Web. It was during that time that I posed for the original seminaked JE photo, the one that lives on my blog. Part of why I did that was because I wasn’t going to reveal my face: if I couldn’t offer a glimpse of my smile, at least I could offer a playful shot of my limbs and torso (plus props).
Though my brand of exhibitionism usually has more to do with performing than undressing, I’ve never been shy about my body. (If you don’t see me on the nude beaches, that’s due to my tendency to chilliness—along with an untested theory that I would develop socially unacceptable erections in such a setting.) So I was happy to strip, in an appropriate context. In fact, I quite liked the idea. And with my face out of frame, I didn’t even really feel “exposed.”
Then came the day we decided that I could—and should—lift the ban on showing myself from the neck up. And so now Jeremy not only made his rounds with my personality and my body . . . but also with my face.
And now when he posed half naked, I looked the viewer in the eye.
Underwear and Underbelly
As erotica writers, we all know that the things we write about are not necessarily things we personally fantasize about. Not necessarily. But I’m the kind of writer who does, as a rule, write about things that turn him on. So when I write, for example, yet another sensuous scene of a woman peeing herself into an erotic frenzy, I am indeed exposing my sexual underbelly.
The photo that accompanies this essay, from my 2009 session with Mayumi Yoshimaru, is one that I decided not to use on my website. Somehow it looks “nakeder” to me than the nakedest image I do use on my site, from the same session—though technically there is less exposed flesh here than in the other one, where I reprised the socks-and-boxer-briefs fashion statement of my headless blog pic.
Whereas the Jeremy underwear photos read to me like a writer who has stripped to be fun and flirty—with a safe artistic buffer erected between subject and viewer—the pose, facial expression, and composition in the shot I now offer here say “exposed” to me. I look, though cheerful as ever, vulnerable and revealed. It feels as if I’m closer to the viewer, the light and shadow of my nude torso, shoulders, and upper arms begging for your attention . . . and the face that of a man who’s perhaps a tad nervous that he’ll pop a boner outside the women’s restroom at the beach.
Now I have a novel on the market, and I feel as exposed as this photo. More exposed, actually. Imagine this shot without the jeans, socks, and briefs. (Or, if you prefer, don’t.) The hat stays on—as I said, I’m prone to chilliness.
This time, I’m not simply a wedge of content in a book bearing an editor’s name; this time, the product is, in its entirety, composed of me. An assortment of my erotic sensibilities has been packaged and framed for display. There’s even a picture of me (fully clothed) inside the back cover, smiling proudly at you as you exit, staffing a lonely reception line in the paperback equivalent of a fluorescent-lit foyer: I hope you enjoyed my one-man show.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, just long enough to feel the hot shiver of exposure—knowing I’m out there somewhere in literary form, with a deep-dish slice of my soul revealed. It’s a little scary.
My world is very quiet at 3 a.m. Even the bloodstream buzzing of my afternoon coffee and my evening glass of wine have gone still. And there’s an illusion that I could pick up the sound of a distant reader’s satisfaction, the way a shortwave operator might pick up Reykjavík.
I go back to sleep with a naked ear cocked.
The libidinous fiction of Jeremy Edwards has been widely published online, as well as in over forty anthologies. His work was selected for The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, vols. 7, 8, and 9; he has read at New York’s In the Flesh and Philadelphia’s Erotic Literary Salon; and he has been featured in the literary showcase of the Seattle Erotic Art Festival. Jeremy’s first erotic novel is Rock My Socks Off (Xcite Books). Readers can drop in on him unannounced (and thereby catch him in his underwear) at www.jeremyedwardserotica.com .