M. Christian

He And I

I know that’s me.  I remember that afternoon: a house in the Sunset District of San Francisco with an intimate playroom in the basement, owned by a friend, since passed away.  The woman was my wife, now ex-wife.

I remember Michael Rosen, the magnificent photographer who took the shot, saying “Open your eyes” over and over again.  I remember she was almost standing on her head, laying backwards on a GYN table with her ass raised high.  I remember the shot took a long time — so long my hand began to cramp.  I remember the day Michael’s sent us a copy of his magnificent book Sexual Art with the photo published in it.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  They say that pictures don’t lie.  They say ‘photographic evidence.’  I don’t know why ‘they’ are, but when I look at that picture I wonder about what’s real and not real, about who that man really is.

He: so assured, so strong, so magnetic.  He looks like he always has that twinkle in his eye, always has that smile on his face.  The kind of guy you know, absolutely know, sings through life, dances through his days.

I: They say that depression is the feeling of being worthless, not valued, ignored, dismissed.  That’s wrong, though.  Depression is actually the absolute, certain knowledge – unshakable – that you’re worthless, not worth paying attention to, are constantly dismissed.  I don’t have good days and bad days, I have bad days and awful days.  Been that way all my life.  It’ a constant struggle.  I’m depressed right now and I was depressed when that picture was taken.

He: a sexual adventurer, an erotic extremist, a howling-boy, a roaring-man, a pierced and tattooed kinky contortionist.

I: I lost my virginity at 22 to a prostitute in London.  I didn’t have sex again until I was 27.  I was married soon after which is when I began to play in the kinky pool: tried bondage, cutting, polyamory, caning, marched in the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay/Transgendered parade, edited a newsletter for an alternative sexuality organization, got some piercings (only my ear and navel) and a pair of tattoos.  Yes, I’ve done all that, plus many other things, but the simple, honest truth is that I’m sexually pretty simple.  I like big beautiful girls – and all I like to do is be with one who wants to be with me.

He: frozen, trapped, in time.  He will always be in his early thirties.  He will always have that body  He will always have all that hair.

I: the big five-oh just hit me … a little over a week ago, actually.  The hair is gone, now I keep it cut very short.  The beard comes and goes – mostly goes — depending on what I’m doing and how diligent I am about shaving.  For the first time in my life I’m beginning to feel … old, and I hate it.  I’ve always pushed myself, have constantly driven myself to do as much as possible and now … now I’m facing the fact that I can’t do things like I used to.

But, you know, looking at the smile on his face, the glee that’s there in that photograph, I wonder if it isn’t a good thing that he’s out there – and that he and I are connected.  I don’t feel it most of the time but sometimes, when the mood is right, when the stars are aligned, I actually see myself in him – and hope that what other people see in that photograph isn’t just a flash of light in the past but is, instead, a frozen part of myself … a part that will always be within me.

M. Christian
began his career in erotica, writing under his pseudonym, “M.Christian.” He has established himself as a very prolific, and chameleonic, author specializing in literary erotica, but he’s also been widely published in other genres, which is where he wishes to focus his career going forward. M. Chrisitan’s erotica stories have appeared in every “best” anthology series including Best American Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, 200 other anthologies and magazines –- he’s been published as four best-selling collections: Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, The Bachelor Machine, and Filthy.

He is also an accomplished anthologist, having edited more than 20 books such as The Mammoth Book of Future Cops, and The Mammoth Book of Tales of the Road (with Maxim Jakubowski); and Amazons, Confessions, and Garden of the Perverse (with Sage Vivant). He has recently expanded into mystery, horror, and humor with the novels Running Dry (Alyson Books, 2006), The Very Bloody Marys (Haworth, 2007), The Painted Doll (Lethe, 2007), Me2 (Alyson, 2008), and Brushes. He has worked with many publishers including Carol & Graf, Orion UK, Robinson UK, Avalon, Thunders Mouth, Haworth Books, Alyson Books, and many, many others. His author’s site is at http://zobop.blogspot.com/with links to all my publications.

16 Responses to “M. Christian”

  1. Wow, you’ve covered a lot of ground there, M. I can identify with much of it, being barely on the shy side of 50.

    You’ve exposed so many deep feelings so ably. How looking in the mirror that time forgot can sometimes be like looking at someone we don’t know; something we have to search for in ourselves.

    Thank you for sharing your naked musings, and giving me much to ponder.

  2. The honesty and self examination of these posts has not yet failed to amaze me.

    I hope 50+ starts to bring some of the good things about being older too, M. Some confidence in your own wisdom and sense of self and a new feeling that you do deserve the love you want and that it’s there. We all do, really. That’s the fight for a lot of us. Making ourselves believe it.

    I hope you get to let your I and He swap roles a little.

  3. I’ve read and re-read this essay and feel the raw, honesty coming through each time. It’s so beautiful and touching. So real.

    What an excellent example of all those layers we strip away, and also the many layers we put on in order to face the world –

    I concur with Jo’s comments above too: you do deserve the love you want and I do believe that it’s there for you.

  4. So much to say, I’m not quite sure where to begin…best perhaps to start with the image, certainly the most provocative yet here at F-Stop (any arguments on that one?). Michael Rosen’s transcendent photographs have always impressed me on so many levels, and I find it fitting that erotica’s most versatile shapeshifter would be immortalized–going deep as always–in his gallery. But once I worked through that foreignness, and an almost merry shock (that grin is contagious), I found myself totally identifying with the experience.

    As erotica writers we present a slim part of our selves and our sensibilities to the world, but that is not the whole picture. We are, by right of our willingness to go public about our fantasies and experiences in print, more sexually adventurous than most people. And somehow that leads to the assumption we look like porn stars and try a new position or kink every night. Of course, the “reality” is we are human beings with complex lives–as you point out so effectively. And the reality is that people who aren’t model-gorgeous, people who are over 25, people with complicated yearnings and deep emotional scars have sex and write about sex. I wish more people could see that “he and I” are one in the same and always will be.

    I have to add, though, that for me that twinkle, that glee, is very much there in every story and essay, and most of all your genuine passion for writing itself. Thanks so much for this!

  5. Chris,

    What I see in the photograph is a man smiling in face of an image some may deem distasteful, disrespectful, perverse . . . so on. Mostly, I see your smile. Your smile is luminiscent. Joyful and passionate. Maybe even infinite. Your essay communicates frailty and hope and an unexpected complexity, which is so much our human condition. I’m grateful.


  6. Excellent! Photos don’t lie, and I applaud you for documenting your life

  7. Indeed, of course it is in you, and how breathtakingly beautiful that you see that — to get the opportunity to see that through a photograph of you. Wow. That seems such an essence of what this site is about to me — I’m mesmerized by the reversal of utilizing the photograph(s) to show something to the photograph showing you something in/of yourself.

    And again, I love that you see it, because all the love and wonder and strength you describe is of course in you, and always has been, and always will be. Thank you for the (as Neve described it) raw honesty of this, the facing of the additional part(s) of you that you experience, that doesn’t understand that (that is looking for love too), and how that has affected you.

    Thank you for sharing this. All best to you.

  8. erobintica Says:

    I read this early this morning, but forced myself to do “work” before I came back to comment.

    “I know that’s me.” – So much said in that small sentence. Looking at our young selves is a double-edged sword. A reminder of both what has not been good and what has been good in our lives. That recognition, yet, the sense that visage was not who we were/are inside. Also, the sense of loss. Of youth. What’s that saying? Youth is wasted on the young. I almost included a picture of myself at 22 last week. But decided not to. I’m still trying to figure out why.

    Chris, this is such a wonderful in-you-face image (both the photo and the writing), with both strength and vulnerability. Both are needed.

  9. I really don’t know what to say, folks, except for maybe … thanks! Your thoughts, your support, your kindness, your observations, your friendship mean so much to me.

    It was a very interesting piece to write as it forced me to look at a lot of things about who I am, as well as where I’ve come from. Thanks so much for the opportunity to take this photographic trip into my own mind as well as back into the past.



  10. Wow, MC, this is such a moving and profound analysis of the disconnect we sometimes feel between who we are and who we appear to be; between who we were and, perhaps, who we never were. And yet, as you wisely identify, there is in the midst of all that disconnect the sometimes reassuring connection with our past selves or our “image” selves.

    The candid personal feelings that you generously offer us add such weight to your observations, of course. It’s courageous as hell of you to write from the heart like this–and a priceless gift to the many people who so admire you both as a writer-editor and as a person. Thank you.

  11. This essay is artful as any piece of writing, M. I, too, hope you start to feel more of a merge with the “he” of that photo and the “I” of your everyday self, as he certainly does seem to be full of all the good stuff.

  12. Bloody hell, MC. I looked at the picture and I thought it was the woman who was being exposed and vulnerable. Then I read your words and Oh…

    So much that I can I identify with. The depression. The late start. The sense of loss that comes with aging. The feeling of disconnect from your public persona. Wow. You have an amazing talent for cutting through the crap and encapsulating the truth. I’m moved beyond words.

    Thank you!

  13. Thanks again, guys! It means a lot to me that you all have enjoyed my little piece. It’s odd to be so honest when I’ve always tried to be less me and more “M.Christian.” But I’ve promised to try and be more open and honest with many things in my life — and his is a huge step in that direction.

    Hugs all around.


  14. I’m thinking depression might be a necessary condition for the writer?
    It certainly dogs enough of us. Thanks for this, M. I think sometimes women forget that men have these feelings too – shame, fear, sadness . . .
    Quite the picture, too. And the description of your hand cramping – hmm – another instance of the man’s POV on what is usually described by the woman . . . Thank you.

  15. Chris,

    Don’t know why today I decided to finally check on who links to my site …

    First, I’m sure I said it in 1992, but thank you and ex-wife for letting me into your lives that day. Over the years, my photography has given me an entry into the lives of many people. That entry has allowed me to get an insight into how they conduct themselves on our cosmic journey – to help me make my choices. And then I’ve published work to help others make their choices.

    As one who has devoted his life to making sexual art, working with real people and documenting what they really do – as opposed to pornography – I bought in to, up front, knowingly or not, the fact that any reward shall be limited acclaim, rather than lots of money. So thanks to Chris and the others who said kind words in this thread.

    I consider that picture one of the very best of my 30-plus year career, because of the juxtaposition between the, shall we say, extreme act depicted and the calmness and sanity of the participants. (In this case, participant singular; the ex-wife’s employment precluded showing her face.) And I’ve used it as an example of a particular aspect of photography (wide angle lens) in my presentation, “Take Your Erotic Photography To The Next Level”; I dead pan, “Notice how his left hand seems bigger than his face”.

    I hear you about feeling old at 50 and not being to push yourself as when younger. I’m 68 and I still feel that I’m only as good as my most recent (don’t say “last”) work.

    Coincidentally, I just published “Sexual Art”, the book where the picture first appeared, as a free PDF downloadable from michaelrosen.com.

    Thanks, again, for letting me into your life, again.

    Best wishes,

  16. WOW! Thank you so much, Michael! Your msg means the world to me – and your photo of Cathy and I is truly one of the highlights of my life!

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