Anon

Call me Anonymous.

Once upon a time, much of erotica was attributed to ‘Anonymous’, and it continued that way for several reasons, not least the fact that it means than on bookshop shelves books by Anonymous can be most easily found at the beginning of the alphabet. But that’s not the reason I’ve adopted the convenient pseudonym today.

I am a middle-aged male writer of erotica. I have also been a serial adulterer, a liar and a man who leads several lives. I have repeatedly had sex with other women I was attracted to, whether physically or intellectually, against the moral dictates of normal society. I have also had sexual relationships with men, even though I would not normally describe myself as bisexual. When it comes to men, I don’t even remember their faces, let alone even attempt to learn their names, and my only memory is of their cocks and the way they fucked me. But every single woman is etched like a scar in my memory, in my soul. They are all unforgettable, however brief the encounter, the sex.

I have even slept with two female writers of erotica with whom I have shared pages in anthologies. One still is a good friend, even though we only had sex that once; we were lonely, and there was a glimpse of recognition, and we comforted each other one sunny afternoon in New York. The sex was good and she tells me that as a result she felt like a woman again and shortly after left her husband and started her life again. I don’t flatter myself that I was that good a lover; any man right there and then would have helped her unblock the frustrations that were paralysing her life.

The other was someone I had briefly corresponded with, and then flirted heavily with online and we decided ‘what the hell’ and decided to meet. She lived on the other side of the world and we met in a city that was more or less a halfway distance for both of us. The reality was at first a bit awkward but we spent a week and fucked like rabbits in a hotel room. We even had anal sex. After we parted and returned to our realities, we briefly wrote to each other again but it soon fizzled out and it’s now been almost 10 years and we have not communicated since. She no longer writes erotica, to the best of my knowledge.

Why am I cloaked behind the veil of anonymity when all previous participants to F-Stop have not done so? Sadly we now live in a world where Google Alert and search engines can in some instances prove highly dangerous. I have a wife and children and I would rather they stay in ignorance of some of the true facts about my other lives. I wish to preserve a form of status quo and not create unhappiness or at worst incomprehension. Of course they know I write material of an erotic nature. My children seldom read what I write (whether in the erotic sphere or elsewhere) and my wife only does so occasionally, and although I know she must necessarily have some suspicions, she prefers to think I have a valiant imagination, which is both flattering to my ego and reassuring. She is aware of at least one past affair and I long ago resolved not to hurt her and protect her from my terrible wanderlust. Deceit ever eats away at my guts, I assure you but I try and live with it. I am sadly aware how imperfect I am with my ever-growing web of deceits, and ask you not to pass judgement; cast the first stone and all that…

The irony is that I am one of the few male erotic writers (and yes, we are in a distinct minority) who does not use a pseudonym, because I strongly believe that I have to be honest to myself in my writing and not hide behind another name!

Now, this probably means that many of you reading these lines (this confession?) will recognize who I actually am and I will not in any way be ashamed of the fact. But I would ask you, if you feel like making comments, not to mention my real name there; feel free to write to me privately if you wish, that would not be a problem. Add the fact that even though my photographs do not feature my face, some of you who have come across me socially or professionally might recognise my build or something of my appearance even though, with the exception of the two writers mentioned above, they have only seen me clothed! I can just imagine so many of you speculating right now as to who I actually am. You may; it’s harmless, and if it makes you feel like Sherlock Holmes, I’m happy for you.

Why have I supplied some nude photographs to illustrate this article? Again, I strive for absolute honesty.  In life as in my writing. Were I just displaying a dubious touch of exhibitionism, I would have arranged for better photographs or asked someone reliable and more talented as a photographer to take them and make me look somewhat better, or at more flattering advantage. Or waited until after the summer vacations for my skin to be a bit tanned and less white and pasty.

I am no longer young. I carry more weight than I should normally, even though I am stocky by build. But this is me. Neither Brad Pitt nor Frankenstein. These are my hands, this is my chest, these are my arms and my legs. This is my cock at rest.

There is also, I know, something sordid about the sheer everyday ordinariness of the photographs, like some unimaginative pervert who wishes to show himself off on Craigslist or whichever dubious Internet contact site of your preference. That’s the way I wanted it to be.

I find it ironic that for the reasons stated above I should be headless following all the recent controversy about the nudity of women under the male gaze in the debate about headless women on the covers of many of the books we all appear in, so here I am, with a faint smile (of course unseen on the photographs) and not a little trepidation offered to the female gaze, in view of the fact that I am well aware that a large majority of erotica writers and readers are women. These photos are not erotic in any way, just a reflection of reality. Sorry, I am not a hunk (and never was).

The American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, who has always been a great influence on me, literally wrote hundreds of short stories. Scores of them were written for slick magazines just for the money and their quality fluctuates wildly. But, even in his worst efforts, there was always something, a line, a paragraph, a character, a situation that we know was a genuine part of him, a cry for recognition, something that was dear to his heart. Similarly, much of what I write (I’ll leave the quality judgement to readers) contains a part of me and, in my erotica, a window into my other lives and my sexuality. How could it not be?

I don’t mean by this that everything I write is autobiographical.

But neither is it all a fabric of personal fantasies, or wish fulfilment scenarios – like too much of what is written and published these days as erotica.

Not one of my illicit sexual encounters with women was purely about sex.

I swear.

And, thinking back, the fewer ones with men were more about experience, curiosity, wanting to know what it could feel like to be a woman, a paradoxical way to understand women better by sharing their sexual experience, a desperate attempt of sorts to identify with the female side of sexuality. Being me, I one day reached the stage where I desperately wanted to know what it felt like for a woman to suck a cock (my cock) and later to actually be fucked, penetrated. Physiologically, the experience is of course different, but what beckoned me was the psychological, intellectual feeling it would provide me with, the insights it could give me into the minds and hearts of the women I had known and those I would hope to know one day. Hence the fact that when I have been with men, it has always in a way been as object: my only interest in them was as cocks able to fuck me or to suck, I had no interest in them as persons. Do I hear the word ‘objectify’?

Whileas every woman I have been with has been an epiphany, a celebration of the senses and mind, and every single encounter has informed what I write even if the circumstances, the names, the sexual mechanics, the situations have been transformed by the alchemy of fiction.

I love women, i love sex with women, but more importantly I relish the closeness, the words said and unsaid of sex together, the complicity, the raging lust, the emotions shared.

I think it was Bob Dylan who came up with the expression ‘I am what I eat’ or maybe it was said of him. In my case, I am those I have fucked.

Despite my unwitting career of infidelity and sexual dalliances I have never had sex with a woman just for the sake of it. I’ve always wanted more. Much more. Which has been both a blessing and a curse as I have repeatedly fallen in love hard with many of my clandestine partners, thus precipitating a variety of problems and all too often sadly our eventual break-ups. Yes, I might be kidding myself or seeking some form of justification for my actions, when I say that it is possible to love more than one woman at a time. But it’s genuinely the way I feel. Let me expose myself even further: on two occasions, two lasting affairs, I (we?) even reached the stage where I was almost hours or a few days at most away from abandoning my marriage, my life at the time, commitments, job to run away with the other woman involved. In one instance, she was married to another and he found out, which put a painful spanner in the works when he asked her to choose between him and me, between 10 years of marriage and what was still too much of an unknown factor. On the other occasion, I was the one who hesitated too long to fully commit strongly although my heart said yes yes yes because I was crumbling under the weight of our age difference (she was half mine, and so beautifully young…).

And neither am I seeking extenuating circumstances when I say that, as much as I have given in to lust and been with so many women I shouldn’t have, I have also turned down as many opportunities for sex that presented themselves. Because they would have been pointless, or held no promise of emotions, of a connection somehow. Believe me when I say (or believe) that I’m not promiscuous.

So, this far from perfect life I have had has made me the writer of erotica that I am. In every story I have penned there is always something that originates in my life, whether the memories of a body, a smile, a hotel room, a beach, the feel of skin under my fingers, the shape of a breast, the awesome first vision of a new cunt. What I try and write is ever a celebration, however bittersweet, of the fruits my past lust, and the way my heart opened to women.

For several months now, I must confess that I have been celibate–at any rate, in the infidelity stakes. Lack of opportunities, mental tiredness, loss of seductive powers? I still flirt from time to time, in life or online, with a handful of possible female friends (albeit none in the world of literary erotica) with a view to a real life encounter but the will and the energy appear to be fading. Maybe because every new experience takes a lot out of me when the parting has to come, possibly? Too much time for reflection. Which has had a marked effect on what I have been writing. I have written a couple of handfuls of new stories over the past 18 months, which I believe are strong and amongst my best. Inspired by eyes and bodies past, things said and things done with beautiful souls I have now lost forever. But some of these stories are surprisingly extreme, even to me. One shocked me even when I read it on publication earlier this year (it was not actually published as erotica, for all you would be detectives…). Another, which is just about to appear in an anthology this autumn, is contradictorily one of my least autobiographical tales (it’s a first person female narrator) but also one of the most personal, and it scared me writing it. Somehow I just can’t see how much further I can go before I breach good taste, let alone taboos. The editor commented that I had just written the ’Texas Chain Saw Massacre’ of erotica!

So I feel I am at at sort of crossroads.

I have always had a covenant with myself that I would always write with total honesty, not fudge matters when it comes to that confused borderline between reality and fantasies. In a way, all my writing has been a way of exorcising my demons, I suppose, a form of catharsis.

If I can’t write about my reality, there is no point in writing.

Erotica is not just about sex, it’s about feelings.

Wonderful feelings, terrible feelings, important feelings.

The feelings that keep me metaphorically alive.

Maybe this short essay will be my final contribution to the world of erotica. I don’t know. Right now, I feel empty. I recently read again some of the stories I’ve published over the years and some of it fills me with joy because it reminds me of her and her and her and happier times.

Will there be another unwitting muse, another accidental encounter, further adultery and consequently new stories? Time will tell.

These are my naked words.

This is my naked body.

This is me.

Naked.

*

11 Responses to “Anon”

  1. Wow.

    I have often used the word “moving” in response to the essays here at F-Stop, and I have meant it sincerely, but I’ve never really been so aware of feeling a literal shift in my chest as I read. The powerful honesty, complexity and genuine nakedness of this piece affected me on a visceral level–which is what we expect of erotica, although in this case the intense feelings were very much above the waist.

    “Erotica is not just about sex, it’s about feelings. Wonderful feelings, terrible feelings, important feelings.” Having often been asked about the difference between erotica and porn in my role as erotica writer, I’ve blathered on that porn is about bodies, erotica is about people and read others’ arguments of the same, but I’ve never seen it put so elegantly and succinctly. Erotica writers do take on the challenge of teasing out the mysteries of the incredibly complex and earth-shakingly powerful emotions sex arouses in us–wonderful or terrible, they are most of all important, and that is a prejudice we still work against. Perhaps the unacknowledged price we pay–which you, dear Anonymous describe so well–is the necessity of feeling deeply in the moment and reliving that painful joy and fascinating heartbreak in our work again and again. And most people think we’re just typing out smut….

    I’m also a fan of Fitzgerald, although many of the elite literati call him a hack except for The Great Gatsby, but I agree that “…even in his worst efforts, there was always something, a line, a paragraph, a character, a situation that we know was a genuine part of him, a cry for recognition, something that was dear to his heart.” I definitely feel this in his work, as I think readers do in “genre” erotic stories when the author brings this love to her/his work.

    Finally, and my apologies for going on and on, I can’t resist this perfect opportunity to express my feelings about the nude torsos of young men with six-pack abs that supposedly appeal to my female libido and grace so many erotic romance covers. I find them as objectifying and offputting as the female body parts displayed as part of a longer tradition, even more so (perhaps because I’m less familiar with them). The tan, the trained muscles, the slick lighting all hide the real man, and for this erotica writer, sex will always be about sharing an intimate experience with a particular human being. The photographs here certainly test stereotypes and provoke intellectually as well as visually, but they elicit a far more genuine, and ultimately affectionate, reaction in this viewer.

    My naked, if verbose, response.

    Thank you for this. From the heart.

  2. Beautiful essay.

  3. Wow is right!

    This essay splintered me. How gorgeous it is to be so honest and yes, so brave. I’ve licked the screen of every crumb. Thank you, Anon. Thank you.

    “…These are my naked words.

    This is my naked body.

    This is me.

    Naked.”

  4. I’ve been thinking about what to write. And I wasn’t sure what a good response would be. And I’m slightly floored by how easy Donna found it!

    It’s honesty is impressive, for want of a better word. A real laying bare.

    And as for the photos – sigh. Well, this is what people look like, in the main. I think nakedness is as daunting and vulnerability inducing for men as it is for women these days. I can imagine people who post nude photos here do so in the fervent hope that people will be kind, that people will somehow locate kind of beauty in it… I know I’ve sat in front of my mirror often, taking photo after photo of myself, and hoping to get a glimpse of the beauty I want to be there, somewhere, underneath all the … other.

    But these photos are real, they remind me of people I know, of my husband’s body. Real people… like your essay says, we are all made up of things that we struggle with, we’re all incomplete, bruised and bumped by life, often not yet settled in ourselves – searching. I think that’s what’s laid bare here.

    I hope you find what you’re looking for.

  5. Indeed, such self examination.

    At the risk of being redundant, I point to: Erotica is not just about sex, it’s about feelings.

    Hear, hear.

    So much revealed, so much to ponder. Thank you, Anon.

    Craig

  6. BadAssKona Says:

    How ironic…

  7. Wow. Just wow.

    Thank you for your words, Anon. And I hope you never stop writing them down.

  8. Remarkable essay. Thank you, Anon.

  9. I felt so powerfully moved by this essay I hardly know what to say/how to respond…. For what it’s worth, though, one particular line I want to respond to is the one about loving more than one person at once—this not only strikes me as possible, but as obviously so, and any reluctance society seems to me to have shown in understanding it has struck me as baffling. (By that I don’t mean that everyone should feel that way him/herself all the time or ever; rather, I mean that an undertone or idea that it is somehow not how it “should” be or is for anyone, ever, or for people in general, seems astonishing to me.)

    Thank you for sharing this.

    I loved your comment, Donna.

  10. I find the headless photos so intimate, paradoxically. Maybe our faces get so used to being presented to the world, that our naked bodies retain some other kind of innocence. There’s something really so touching about unaffected photos like these that I feel like I am writing in reply to them, to your body, rather than to your words. That, or the writing is so plainly honest that there’s no separation between your body and your words. Bravo, and thank you. What a beautiful essay.

  11. You’ve certainly taken a lot of risks writing this.
    Hmm.
    Do you, I wonder, secretly want all to be revealed … to your wife?

    Sorry, but you know, it does invite speculation.

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