Jeremy Edwards

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.

Exposure.

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 .

37 Responses to “Jeremy Edwards”

  1. What a lovely examination of what does and doesn’t represent nakedness, or, better stated: “nudity is in the eyes of the beholder.”

    When we dip into ourselves through our erotic writings, we expose so much, and that is why I so enjoy sharing these F-stop excursions. It shows the many things we share, as well as our differences, in how we approach this challenge.

    Thank you for sharing your voyage of exposure!

  2. ‘Tis a wonderful thing, the internet. I can be up here in Maine, and still get online to read your thoughts on “exposure.” J, this was so deliciously quiet a post, thank you.

    I remember, long before meeting you “in the flesh” that everytime I’d see a picture of you on the web, you’d have a book in front of your face or some such. And though I can completely understand that, I must say, that seeing the face of those whose writing I enjoy, brings a certain richness to the works that wasn’t there before.

    Once again, F-Stop delivers!

  3. Oh, Jeremy…you never stop surprising me. Thank you for taking us a little deeper inside of you: exposing your vulnerabilities; your processes; your heart and soul. How incredibly liberating. I loved every delicious morsel of this warm and deeply sensitive expose. I’m licking the remaining drops from the web page.

    p.s. you can leave your hat on, all the time, anytime.

  4. OMG! you’re so adorable. no wonder you’re so popular.

  5. Wow, Jeremy, I so enjoyed this essay, a fascinating twist on the standard assumptions about self-exposure. Your words and your photo reminded me that our faces really do reveal so much about us and we take that for granted. I agree that the photograph you show us in this post is the most personal, the most vulnerable, the most winning and the most Jeremy of the shoot. How can a viewer not respond warmly to your authentic, honest gaze? Of course, I also appreciated anew the framing effect of the black hat and black jeans, which set off the creaminess of your torso beautifully…but I’m getting carried away, lol. It’s also fascinating that I do know you as “Jeremy,” a fiction, and yet the fans of your fiction do know very interesting things about you that people who know your “real” name do not. The writing life really is a journey of self-exposure and vulnerability and of course the reward of connection with readers. Thank you for capturing the complexities so eloquently!

  6. Hello!

    First of all … huge, naked thanks to Donna, Neve, and Shanna for giving me a place to hang my hat today! (So to speak.) F-Stop is such an enriching, stimulating, mind-expanding project, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of it.

    Back in a bit with more comments!

  7. Craig: Thank you so much for the praise! And I love “nudity is in the eyes of the beholder.” In response to that, I wanted to link here to an image of someone’s eyes with a nude woman reflected in them–I know I’ve seen such a thing–but Googling on /nude woman reflected in eyes/ didn’t do the trick. (Not that the search was a *total* loss for me, mind you.)

  8. Robin: Thank you!

    Yeah, that “nose in a book” gag was fun to do for a while. But eventually I ran out of books. (Or was it noses?)

  9. I love that photo because it shows more than the body. Gazing into someone’s eyes can let you in beyond the skin. And this image represents the interior of the Jeremy whom I love so much–his sweetness and openness. True intimacy has to be more than of the body. I was amazed when I first read about the ways that personal space varies across cultures; apparently there are some societies where your personal boundaries are actually inside your skin, so you don’t mind physical contact with strangers in the slightest. True nakedness doesn’t have to involve skin at all…

  10. Neve: Your words of appreciation warm me from my socks to my fedora! And I’m glad you don’t mind that I keep surprising you, e.g., by tiptoe-ing up behind you wearing a Goofy mask, etc. : )

  11. Back soon! (Must dash out to store for new supply of cartoon-character masks.)

  12. Donna: Your compliments and reflections mean so much to me–thank you!

    The photographer gets the credit for the creaminess of my torso–I brought the dough, but she knew how to light the kitchen.

  13. Love your thoughts on the different types of nakedness and vulnerability- especially for a writer. I definitely think part of my reasoning for keeping my face and my real self away through a pen name, is to do with not wanting to reveal too much of myself. And it connects to my work- if I reveal my real self, then my writing suggests too much of me or something like it. I don’t know. Confused feelings!

  14. Wonderful exposè J. Multi talented, multi faceted. Whatever you call yourself. So revealing.

    I have always appreciated your penetrating use of language, how you slip erected, cocked, staffing, in there, AS IF we’re not supposed to notice.

    I’ve always loved seeing your face since you started exposing yourself that way. You SO go with your stories. But I’ve also always loved that shot on your blog. It’s so you too.

    But somehow this doesn’t even reveal all of your talents and I’m not implying anything dirty! ; )

    xx

  15. Isabel: Grazie, grazie for the wonderful tribute!

    And I love how you found your way to those embedded words. Expert cherry popping–I mean cherry *picking*–on your part!

  16. What a delightful offering, Jeremy, by which I didn’t feel surprised at all. For lack of a better word, I found it heartwarming…and it occurs to me that I’ve often experienced you that way.

    And even in this piece (and some of your comments), my reading elicited a laugh out loud at least once or twice!

    Thank you for this lovely description of the process of exposure for you in erotica writing. I feel so delighted to know you and to have seen to some degree this process from the outside, so to speak. It’s a treat to read this expose of it from your perspective.

    And great picture!!

  17. Emerald: Thank you so much for all your kind words! I feel so very, very fortunate to have fabulous friends who welcome me in their lives, value my perspectives, AND laugh at my jokes. : )

    And backatcha–all of you, you sweet, scintillating, deep-thinking, word-and-wisdom-wealthy buddies!

  18. Oops, meant to type “my … buddies.”

  19. *slips away from her lovers embrace, aka film* to make another F-stop.

    I know there will be more comments coming in throughout the week, but once again, shouting out here – thank you J for being such an inspiration and all around good guy. Your warm, sensitive and witty spirit makes me crave reading your work. You’re Ace (learned this from Nikki and Janine) in my book, my friend. :-)

  20. Back shortly to reply to the “shy” comments that are only now exposing themselves. : )

  21. Dr. Dick: : ) Actually, I attribute whatever appeal I may have to the “new car smell” shampoo I use.

  22. Dearest Helia: I love you for so many reasons … and one of them is your ability to see me, really see me.

    Mayumi, if you’re reading this, I hope you’ve noted the spousal stamp of approval for your portraiture of me! : )

    Fascinating insight about the cultural differences and nakedness being more than skin deep! “If you were any closer, you’d be standing behind me.”

  23. Charlotte: I think I know just what you mean. It can feel like two-variable algebra, or something: If we give the answer to “x,” our innermost feelings, in our work, then we sometimes feel inclined to leave “y,” identity, a mystery. (Of course, if we multiply it out, we get xx and xy, which as we know are gender-specifying chromosome pairs. See, sex is everywhere!)

  24. Oh, wow, Neve–you sure know how to make a half-naked, hat-wearing, ear-cocked-toward-Reykjavík guy feel good! : ) The feelings are mutual, delightful friend. All you delightful friends. The feelings are so mutual they’re standing behind you.

  25. Something I’d like to add: The mutual supportiveness and friendliness that members of this community show each other on a daily basis (as is so abundantly evidenced in your comments right here!) is exactly why the “post-office box” model proved itself obsolete for me so quickly. I’m so fortunate to be part of an artistic community where our colleagues want to know us as people–where they *care* who we are.

  26. Oh Jeremy, I just love you!!!! Thanks for sharing your innards & your outtards. You have a delightful take on things. You should test your nude beach boner theory out here in Oregon sometime. If you pop one inappropriately, there is an easy fix, as there is always a chill nearby — dive into the freezing cold river!

    –Gina

  27. Gina: Love you too! And–ha!–”outtards”! I love it when new companion words are discovered. (How did we ever do without that one?)

    The river sounds a little too cold for me, but maybe I could just carry a tall glass of ice water in case of emergence. I mean, emergency.

  28. Jeremy ~ Your “exposure” here reflects the Jeremy in my mind’s eye– kind, generous, clever and maybe a bit bashful. It’s an appealing package, no matter how it’s delivered– in fiction, in photos, in this lovely essay or in e-mails with your signature smiley. You can call yourself whatever you like, but your voice– your true, authentic voice– always shines through.

    Thanks for sharing your voice.

  29. Kristina: Thank you from the bottom of my heart! You’re so wonderful to see the unified “me” across the various media.

    In the first draft of my F-Stop essay, there was a tangent about one’s own “identity” as something that it can be hard to get a handle on: how it can look different from different angles and in different contexts, and so forth. As a result of such existential ponderings, comments like yours–in your distinctive and beautiful voice!–bring a whole additional level of validation.

  30. This is lovely, Jeremy. And yeah, it makes sense that we should be shyest of all about our faces. Faces are recognisable and unique in a way that other body parts aren’t, and they reveal so much more of the real us. Thank you for letting us see you naked!

  31. Thanks, Janine!

    Your comment inspires me to think of myself as perpetually naked from now on, whenever I show my face outdoors. (Except maybe at the nude beach, where everyone will be too distracted by my … glass of ice water … to notice my face.)

  32. Hey, J!
    Sorry I’m late, man.
    Wonderful, warm, funny, charming essay. Just like its author. I was nodding in agreement to this: “showing big parts of my personality, having earnest conversations, sharing jokes and quirks, and becoming truly close to some of my erotica colleagues.: Amen, brutha.
    From nude beaches to Reykjavík! Thanks for sharing this part of you. We’re lucky to have you, buddy.

  33. What a great post, Jeremy. The face IS much more personal and intimate than the body, and you’ve a great one, and it very daring and brave of you to expose like this. Congrats on the novel; I shall check it out!

  34. “We’re lucky to have you, buddy.”

    And everything else Haven said.

  35. Haven: Welcome to my nakedness! (The sun never sets my nakedness, so there’s no such thing as late.) Thanks for your wonderful feedback and your wonderful friendship, and for all the riches that you and your work bring us!

  36. Susan: Thank you so much!! And thank you for being one of the courageous pioneers who paved the way here at F-Stop. Nudity loves company!

  37. Janine: : ) : ) : )

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