Rachel Kramer Bussel

Photo by Laura Boyd

FS: As a long-time columnist, editor, erotica writer and sexy model, you’ve “exposed” yourself to audiences in many media and genres.  Do you find you reveal more about yourself in your fiction or nonfiction writing?

RKB: I’ve always written both erotic fiction and nonfiction about my sex life, and each serve different purposes and roles in my life. There are some ways I can be more honest and open in fiction, especially if I’m writing something based on a real relationship or encounter. You don’t have the same parameters and can also disguise people and work in fictional elements to go along with the “real” story, while in non-fiction you have to stick to the facts. Sometimes that comes off more stilted, though I can offer certain insights in that format, such as in my Secrets of a Sex Writer column at SexIsMagazine.com, that I couldn’t in erotica. I like being able to capture my erotic world in both ways.

Photo by Celeste Smith

You seem very comfortable in front of the camera.  Did you always feel that way or was it a growth experience?

I definitely have not always been comfortable in front of the camera and there are many horrible photos of me as a teenager and into college to prove that. I’ve gotten more comfortable in front of it both as I got more comfortable in my body as well as finding good photographers to work with. So much of it for me is having a positive working relationship with them, and that chemistry is something you can’t plan or force.

Photo by Laura Boyd

Is making a video/book trailer any different from still photographs?

It’s totally different, though for me one aspect that is similar is that neither is my forte (I know almost nothing about photography and nothing about how to shoot video) and that I have to give up control to those who do know better. The way I work with my videographer, who’s made the trailers for Spanked, Do Not Disturb, Peep Show and Please, Sir, is we select a location, get props and invite friends and acquaintances and then shoot as much footage as she thinks she needs. I and others do voiceovers reading from the anthologies and then I give her basic guidelines, sometimes music (or she chooses), and let her work her magic.

I think of my trailers as little movies that give some insight into the particular topic, whether that’s spanking, hotel sex, exhibitionism and voyeurism or BDSM, as well as hopefully enticing people into wanting to read the book. I get to play both myself and “characters” and while it’s somewhat of a tool to sell books (though I’m not sure how successful it is as such since there’s no way to track that) it’s also a component to my online persona that I think adds to my appeal to editors and publishers. It’s also a way for first-time visitors to my site to get a taste of who I am and what my books are about.

Photo by DA Photography

Do you feel that your work as an editor reveals parts of you that your other literary endeavors do not?

I don’t necessarily think my editing reveals something about me beyond the topics I choose to work on with my books. For me as a creative endeavor it’s a huge relief from the pressure of writing and such an educational experience. I love putting a call for submissions out into the world and seeing what authors do with it; their work is so fresh and creative and breathes new life into my simple ideas. I liken editing anthologies to running my reading series In The Flesh, which I hope you’ll attend before we close in December 2010, because it’s an opportunity to collaborate with others and a case where the whole is so much greater than simply the sum of its parts. I think editing is a very social thing, even if it’s all done via email, whereas writing is quite solitary.

Thanks so much for exposing yourself with us at F-Stop, Rachel!

Rachel Kramer Bussel is a New York-based author, editor, blogger and reading series host. She is Senior Editor at Penthouse Variations, wrote the Lusty Lady column for The Village Voice, and hosts the monthly In The Flesh Reading Series, where she’s booked everyone from Susie Bright to Zane. She has written for Cosmopolitan, The Daily Beast, TheFrisky.com, Gothamist, Mediabistro, Newsday, New York Post, Penthouse, Playgirl, Time Out New York, and other publications. Her writing has been published in over 100 anthologies, including Best American Erotica 2004 and 2006, the Best Women’s Erotica Series, Zane’s Succulent: Chocolate Flava II and Purple Panties, and others. Rachel has a fondness for spanking, rough sex, hotels and general naughtiness…when she can tear herself away from her computer and iPhone. She also has an unbridled passion for cupcakes which she blogs about frequently at her popular group blog Cupcakes Take the Cake.

8 Responses to “Rachel Kramer Bussel”

  1. Rachel,

    I found this observation very interesting:

    There are some ways I can be more honest and open in fiction, especially if I’m writing something based on a real relationship or encounter. You don’t have the same parameters and can also disguise people and work in fictional elements to go along with the “real” story, while in non-fiction you have to stick to the facts.

    I can relate to the freedom of fictionalizing real experiences versus sticking to the facts, and I believe most writers of fiction do this in varying degrees.

    Thanks for sharing your lovely photos and insights!

    Craig

  2. Robin Elizabeth Sampson Says:

    Rachel,

    It always helps me, as a relative newbie at this, to read that other writers also use the real in their fiction. To do that is somewhat scary at first. Revealing. But, if we didn’t want to reveal ourselves, why bother writing at all? That’s something I’m just coming to terms with in my erotica.

    And, lovely photos.

    Thanks for joining us at F-Stop!

  3. oops, hahaha, forgot to log out after posting elsewhere, that last comment was mine.

  4. So much to think about here–I would also say I can be more honest when I’m writing fiction because that very thin veil of “lies” tricks me into revealing more of myself. Yet audiences seem more turned on by true-life stories and memoir, of hearing about what “really” happened, even though, of course, a writer will shape that material in a way that can be seen as lie. I guess I’m saying, I agree both serve their purpose, but maybe not what common wisdom might suggest! My characters will share things about themselves I’d never have the nerve to do.

    And oh, my, what gorgeous photographs! I can definitely feel the chemistry between artist and model–and continuing on to the viewer–in these images. I’m tempted to fly to New York for a session with Laura Boyd. Why not a whole series of F-Stop contributors?

    Also wanted to say it took me a while to figure it out, but I do believe editors imprint their sensibility on their anthologies in a subtle, and often unsung way. It was very interesting to hear about the dynamics of that on the other side!

  5. Beautiful photos, Rachel. I love the little touches of purple 🙂

  6. Such lovely photographs, Rachel! I so hear you about the element of an effective photographer. I historically have not felt comfortable or un-self-conscious in front of a camera, and I once worked with a photographer with whom the experience seemed quite different for me. Somehow the presentation became such that I was just doing what I was doing, and he was taking pictures of it. Very cool.

    “I think editing is a very social thing, even if it’s all done via email, whereas writing is quite solitary.”

    What an interesting point. Thank you for sharing your perspective and observations here about writing and visual art in different forms. And, again, such beautiful pictures! 🙂

  7. I’m sorry I’ve been travelling and couldn’t tune into F-stop until now. Your pictures are just gorgeous – loved the interview too. I find you to be one of the most compelling women I’ve yet to actually meet. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing and exposing.

  8. Gorgeous pictures, Rachel. And a terrific interview, too. Multi-multi talented woman!

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