Emerald

Posted in Writers with tags on May 22, 2010 by donnageorgestorey

Choice and Tyranny

It is not a novelty for a naked picture of me to be on the Internet.  If one knows where to look, there are a number of them out there.  So while I include a photo with this post, it does not represent the “naked” part of this for me.  It is there for illustration, perhaps personalizing the account that follows.

Having worked in amateur porn and as a webcam model, images of my physical nudity may be found in various places.  Displaying physical nakedness has not tended to faze me, and on the contrary I have (for the most part) appreciated the context in which those photos were taken and have been displayed.

Of course, as with most things, there is a reason for that.  It took a while for me to be in a position to make those choices.

***

I was fairly young—about eight—when I was informed that according to “God” it was “wrong” to have sex “before you were married.”  (Lots of quotes in there, I know, but I don’t want to reinforce or give the impression that I condone that which seems dubious to me—which in that sentence includes everything in quotation marks.)  This is not earth-shatteringly unusual, I realize.  I also feel no doubt that my mother imparted this with the best of intentions, as it was what she herself sincerely believed, and I appreciate that she was taking the responsibility to speak with her children about sex.

It happened that for me, that message ended up with implications perhaps more extreme than many may have found in it.

***

I didn’t know that what I had experienced as a common part of life may be categorized as a psychological disorder until I was twenty.  I was taking an Abnormal Psychology class in undergrad, and one day the professor was introducing the five categories of anxiety disorders.  He put an overhead up about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and started to talk about it.

I had barely heard of OCD, so it had never occurred to me to wonder if it was in me.  The first examples of obsessive-compulsive-related thoughts and behaviors I recall in me were at about age seven, so it might have been the seeming normative experience of them that resulted in my not questioning their implications in such a way.  I hadn’t really known anything different.

In class that day, I looked at the overhead and thought, “Huh.  That is what is in me.  Apparently it’s categorized as an anxiety disorder.  I’d always wondered if other people were doing the things in my head that I was.”  For some reason, it felt that casual.  It was certainly unquestionable—there was no doubt that the descriptions on the sheet reflected what I had experienced.  While I felt surprised and somewhat fascinated, I think it had been such a normal part of my experience that it seemed almost quaint to see it labeled as a disorder.

***

The first time I had sex (by which I mean vaginal intercourse, the phrase “have sex” seeming perhaps ambiguous), I had seen that it was okay to do so.  Despite how simple that sounds, it is so far from a casual statement I hardly know how to describe it.  I had a choice about whether or not to have sex.  That had never been the case before.  The choice had formerly been hijacked and made in me before I even realized there was one.  The day I “lost my virginity,” I chose to—clearly, freely, and comfortably.

I was 25 years old.

***

OCD was about one underlying thing for me: “God.”  What I thought of as God was watching me all the time, always, and the entire focus of watching me was to ensure that I never, ever did anything wrong, and that if I did, I paid for it or was punished.

Potential punishment was simply unimaginable.  For the most part the details of such were kept from my consciousness, their very consideration too traumatic.  “Controlling” thoughts in order to keep such terrifying details from materializing into consciousness was one of the purposes of earnest and obedient repetitions of compulsions.

The other was to avoid said punishment itself.  Generally, I was paying “in advance” to earn the allowance of scathingly horrendous things not happening to me or my family (on whom OCD frequently seemed focused).  Compulsions were demanded to allow the keeping in check of such occurrences, since the chances were I had or would eventually do something “wrong” that would require such obligation.

Appeasement of the orders of OCD (which is to say compulsions) could come in numerous forms—counting, repeating phrases in my head, fidgeting a certain way, saying certain things…an innumerable list of penances that seemed inexhaustible and that I wouldn’t know how to realistically detail in any comprehensive form.  Demands could and often did come at any time, and there was no negotiation involved.

The real, underlying fear—the very thought of which was usually kept from consciousness as per above, so much so that I wasn’t even aware of its being the case for some time—was Hell.  In life too, indeed, I was in (unwanted) control of what happened to myself and my family, but the ultimate responsibility with which I was charged, and for which I was singularly responsible, was to keep myself and my family out of Hell.

I realize such a specter may seem silly if one doesn’t subscribe to traditional postulations of Christianity.  All I can say is that it wasn’t so much a literal belief as the simple vague, indelible, perpetual terror of the threat of the literally most horrifying experience possible.  I use no hyperbole in that description.

If I did or thought something “wrong,” of course, backpedaling in the form of increased compulsion was frequently necessary.  The catch was that, in large part, what was “wrong” was arbitrary.  It was at the absolute discretion of the savage, unrelenting, maniacally tyrannical “God” in my head.

But there was one rule attributed to “God” that had been externally and overtly presented to me.

***

I had not sought any kind of treatment after the realization in the psychology class because I thought, frankly, that the phenomenon that the sheet described as OCD had been in me since I was seven, I was “used” to it, and I could handle it and for whatever reason doubted it would ever become much “worse.”

This assessment was erroneous.  In my early 20’s, I experienced a dramatic increase in the intensity of OCD to a degree that sometimes impeded general functioning.  Around that time I also discovered, through a gradual process, that not having sex before I was married was the pinnacle of OCD in me.  It was the ultimate—the one action that epitomized my responsibility and what I was allowed to do or not do.  This was the thing that, if done, would result in not only me but my family undergoing indefinitely the most horrendous and torturous experience imaginable (or not imaginable).  If I had sex outside of marriage, that result would be entirely my fault.

I could write an entire other post (and probably will sometime on my blog) on how and why OCD has not controlled me for about the last eight years.  I honestly don’t know how to put it succinctly without going into considerable detail, so I will just say that a distinct process transpired that I didn’t even realize was happening at the time that resulted in a shift I hadn’t known or imagined existed.

Over the course of about six months, and in part without my even realizing it, an unimaginable (to me at the time) shift and expansion of perspective occurred in me.  Without my at all “trying” or having such a thing as a “goal” (as again, I was not even able to conceive of it to make it into a goal), this process involved the distorted perception that had hijacked and held hostage my experience dissolving.

That distorted and hijacking perception being OCD.

It is difficult to describe how OCD not controlling me anymore felt.  As I mentioned before, I didn’t really have anything to compare being under its control to since I had experienced it from such a young age.  The shift was like being presented with a new color, one completely unlike those you had known existed, or a new number—0 though 9 are not the only ones.  A whole new one is there, changing the way you have viewed things all your life.

One of the ways I was aware this shift had happened was the seeing of sex being a choice.  Of knowing that how I acted sexually was up to me.  The symbolic pinnacle of the expansion in me was a reflection of the same subject I had experienced as the pinnacle of OCD.

In light of which I said quite literally to the tyrannical authority that had been OCD in me,

FUCK. YOU.

Emerald is an erotic fiction author and general advocate for human sexuality as informed by her deep appreciation of the beauty, value, and intrinsic nature of sexuality and its holistic relation to life.  Her erotic fiction has been published in anthologies edited by Violet Blue, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Jolie du Pre, and Alison Tyler as well as online at various erotic websites.  She currently resides in suburban Maryland where she works as a webcam model and serves as an activist for reproductive freedom and sex worker rights.  She blogs about sexuality in cultural, social, professional, and spiritual contexts at her website, The Green Light District: http://thegreenlightdistrict.org/wordpress/

Gina Marie

Posted in Writers with tags on May 16, 2010 by Shanna Germain

I almost got old once. The details of that moment are stark in my mind. In fact, I recall it was a Saturday afternoon at about 3 p.m. about eight or nine years ago. I had my plump ass seated on a beach log at a family picnic. Suddenly, a sick feeling took hold in my belly and I realized what was happening. “This is it. You’re going ‘round the bend.” That was the scariest fucking moment of my life. I was physically unwell. I had quit writing. I nearly quit dreaming. I got off my ass and started running again.  I’d survived long enough to return back to the woods. It felt so good to run through the forest on misty Saturday mornings, leaping over mossy logs, free, alive, mud splashing on my bare legs. It was like going back in time to when I was a kid and gathered polliwogs in the creek and played Indian boy in the woods.

My plot against growing up seems to be working. The other day, buying whiskey, the clerk scowled at me, then said “Holy Cow!” when I gave him my I.D. He looked down at me wide-eyed, this small 4-foot-10-inch person with red streaks in her hair and no makeup staring back with a naughty smirk while handing him my driver’s license: DOB, 1968. “What’s your secret?”

“Well,” I said, standing up a little taller and squaring my shoulders, “My secret is that I drink a helluva lot of whiskey!”

The truth is, I am very much a 41-year-old woman, but am also a 12-year-old kid, and I plan to stay that peculiar mix of ages for a very, very long time.

In the state of Oregon, public nudity is protected as free speech, as long as there is “no intent to arouse.” Well, there was no arousal going on last spring when I stood shivering, in the cool of the evening. I was waiting for a race to start in Forest Park near downtown Portland. The group of runners included myself and five men. There weren’t too many people around, but then a family came walking up the trail with young children. We were about to strip down to running shoes and take off. Should we wait? We let them pass, then somebody said, “fuck it, let’s go.”

Clothes came off and we lined up. The starter blew a whistle or a horn and we were off. It was crazy, silly and fun. Nobody hiking or running in the park would expect a small pack of pale, nude runners to come streaking up the trail in the chill of May….except this is Oregon and wackiness can ensue just about anytime or anyplace. As we cruised up the trail, my skin began to warm and the air felt brilliantly refreshing on my bare skin. I felt so alive and free. We passed the family, exposing them to nothing more than our bare butts. I heard some snickers and giggles as we ran by. Soon, the men were out ahead and it was just me on the trail. I felt like a deer or a bird, flying along. The few people I passed further up the trail just smiled and waved. I’ll admit that it took some bravery to ditch the clothes in such a public setting, in such a small group, and in broad daylight. But it was also incredibly liberating.

I love to fuck in the bushes as much as the next guy (hehe) but I also believe it’s important to celebrate the joy and freedom of naked exploration without the label of “pervert.” There was nothing sexual about that run. In fact, when we returned to the start, the family we passed asked for information about the next race. It turned out that they are naturists and frequent the clothing optional beach on the Willamette River.

Writing, in all of its forms, keeps me young too. It feels like play. It’s fun. It makes me smile. The act of writing scours my brain and makes me feel complete. When I can’t write or am up against a doodywad who thinks writing is a waste of time, I start to feel suffocated. I began writing in journals when I was seven years old. I found my grandpa’s Hustler when I was eight. Hmmmm. And yes, with most of my writing, there is the intent to arouse. I’m drawn to the genre because….like most of my favorite things, it’s FUN.

When I started running again, I also started writing again. And finally, I started playing again.

Last year, my boy Brad and I logged more than 6,000 naked road miles. We did the World Naked Bike Ride and the Original Bare Buns Run in Spokane, WA. We published stories together, blogged together, and explored sensuality on the page together.We danced around nude in the middle of a highway in Nevada. Brad did a naked Chinese Fire Drill while waiting for a train in the middle of the city. (The chicks in the car next to us LOVED it). We soaked in the hot springs, hiked in the mountains, biked around the playa at Burning Man, did some erotic photo shoots, cooked supper, wrote poetry, played Scrabble, made banana bread, crafted smut, watched the news, gazed at the stars…..all of it NAKED. Why? Why not. Freedom, baby! Freedom!

Fuck it! Let’s go!

Naked Whips photo was taken by David Rolin. Used with permission.

Brad Garber

Posted in Writers with tags , on May 9, 2010 by neve black

I’m 55 years young; have 65 more to go, based on what an Ouija board told me in 1963, shortly after JFK’s untimely demise. I, like Craig, started running around naked, with a friend, in my pre-pubescent years. There was something adventurous and a little naughty about playing in Buffalo Creek, in the nude, on a hot summer day. I, unlike Craig, did not get caught in my wood-nymph state; rather, I was “caught” mimicking the photographic poses of nude females in the pseudo-privacy of my bedroom. I knew there was something sexy about those females, but I couldn’t quite figure it out. I thought that, if I tried to strike their model poses, I might get something out of it. And, I did. It felt good, to be sitting naked on the floor of my bedroom, my chest out, my shoulders back. When my mother discovered the girlie mag under the mattress of my bed, I was humiliated by my father, and was forbidden to share the company of the friend who had given me the porn. It so happened that it was the same friend who shared the idyllic afternoons with me, in the creek. It was the first time that I experienced a limitation on my expression of sensuality, and it left an impression.

At age 10, I could not figure out how I had hurt anyone by exploring my sexuality on the floor of my bedroom. I was caught somewhat by surprise by the ferocity and artificiality of it all. I complied with my father’s wishes and never shared moments in the sun with that friend. In fact, it was not until years later that I started exploring the sensuality of what is now referred to as “naturism.” (It’s all just plain nudity, to me). As the years went by, I started expanding my horizons. I would lie in the sun nude, run nude, drive my car nude, sit around the house nude, cook nude, ski nude, bike nude and…the best of all things…fuck nude! At age 35, I did my first nude modeling gig, with a photographer who invited several models for a frolic, out on an isolated Oregon beach. The experience was exhilarating. There I was, naked on a beach, exercising my artistic expression at the business end of a camera. I was hooked. I’ll admit, I’m a ham.

My exhibitionist tendencies reached a certain apex of manifestation when I became an art model, at age 40. By age 50, when I decided my degenerative left hip could no longer take the pain, I had modeled for nearly every art department and private studio in Portland. I was in a certain amount of demand, which was gratifying, seeing as how most artists would rather draw female bodies. Being naked, on a stage, in a room full of clothed artists, was a bit empowering. It made me question, even more, how sensual (as opposed to baldly sexual) expression could harm anyone. The more I was naked, the better I felt about myself. It was a win-win situation.

Writing about sex, with sensual elements thrown in to break up the monotony, is something I started trying out in the 80’s, after my first divorce. After all, there is only so much masturbation one can engage in. I had had some poetry and prose published, in the past, so I knew I could write something that someone might take interest in. I didn’t quite know how to go about writing smut, but I’d read some in Penthouse Forum, so I sort of had an idea. I knew porn when I saw it. It was a titillating experience, I must admit, sitting there dreaming up ridiculous sexual scenarios. Thinking about fantasies is one thing; writing them down on paper is another. I wrote and wrote, cataloguing fantasy after fantasy. Oddly, I only tried to get one story published. And it was! To my great surprise, Penthouse Forum purchased one of my stories. Wow! I was hooked. But, job, daughter, second marriage, health, yada yada yada, took me away from writing for a few years.

It was not until I met my soul mate, Gina (you all know her), that the fires were rekindled. Now, not only do I write, I run around naked and model and fuck in the weeds on hot summer days! I have a wealth of experience to write about that, from all current indications, will never end until my bony spent wilted body is burned up and scattered to the four winds. And, so… my story, and some photographic evidence to back up my rambling.

Brad Garber (“BadAss” to his friends and competitors) is a Midwestern transplant who has lived in Oregon long enough to grow moss.  He has had poetry published in Cream City Review, Alchemy, Fireweed and Mercury, and collaborative erotica in Oysters & Chocolate and Clean Sheets under the pseudonym, “Daisy James.”  In 2003, he was a semi-finalist in the USA Songwriting Competition, and was an Honorable Mention in 1980 and 1981.  He has had painting shows in various venues, in Portland, since 1997.  He has been a model since about 1995, and has appeared in erotic photos in Libido and Cupido, as well as print ads for Oocha Brew, Plavix and St. Joseph’s Hospital and video ads for Cabella’s.  His “day job” involves the legal system, in one form or another.  He is in love with Gina, and shall so be, until the shrinking universe undergoes the next “Big Bang.”

D. L. King

Posted in Writers with tags on May 1, 2010 by donnageorgestorey

Naked on the Page

This is me.  It’s a bit of me, in any case.  It’s a piece of my tattoo.  I was told, when I was contemplating getting one, people become addicted to them and once you get one, you’ll want more.  I love my tattoo and the experience of having it done was—interesting.   I have just the one.  Not because of the pain but, because I always wanted a tattoo.  That’s me.

Like I said, the pain was interesting, but I’m not a masochist.  If you’ve read my stories, you’ve probably figured that out.

The tattoo’s been a part of me for seven or eight years now.  It took a long time to decide to do it.  And then it took a long time to figure out what I wanted to have indelibly etched into my skin.  It took no time to decide where it should be placed—somewhere people wouldn’t see it, just in case.  It’s really beautiful.  Now I kind of want to show it off but even I seldom get to see it.  Pity.

My boyfriend gets to see it.  I think it shocked him, the first time he saw it.  I think his initial attitude was, “What’s a nice girl like you doing with a tattoo?”  Now he knows I’m not really a nice girl.  (But then, if you’ve read my stories, you’ve probably figured that out.)  Now he really likes, perhaps even loves, my tattoo.

Now, don’t think you know me just because you know about my ink.  Here’s another picture.

This is my toy cabinet.  The picture reminds me of a great, if slightly chilly day and a particularly memorable Brooklyn salon. Looking at it makes me want to get back into hosting the salons again this summer.  And, no, the toy cabinet has nothing to do with Brooklyn writers salons.  And yes, these are really my toys—at least some of them.  The rest have other hiding places around the bedroom.

The shelves were awfully neat when this picture was taken, but my house is a wreck right now.  I just looked at the toy cabinet again and it’s not nearly so pristine.  However, seeing the Electrolube gives me ideas…

Yes, I like to play.  I like my sex on the kinky side.  I’m bossy and I like to be in charge but I’m also gentle and kind.  Yes, I can raise welts while being gentle and kind.  I suppose the bottom line is that I like to make people happy.  So just give me the right people and I’ll make them happy—with a paddle or a book.

Does any of this tell you who I am?  The truth is, I’m nobody and I’m everybody.  I’m not particularly exciting; I’m just me.  You’d pass me by if you saw me on the street.  You wouldn’t give me a second look if I stood next to you on the train.  And while I put pieces of myself into everything I write, it’s the story you’ll remember, not the writer.

This is where I work.  It probably says the most about me.

D. L. King is a smut-writing New Yorker. She is the editor of The Sweetest Kiss and Where the Girls Are, Cleis Press, and Spank! from Logical LustShe is also the publisher and editor of the book review site, Erotica Revealed. Her short stories can be found in anthologies such as The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Please, Ma’am, Sweet Love, Girl Crazy, Broadly Bound, Frenzy, Yes, Sir and Yes, Ma’am among othersShe is the author of two femdom novels. Find out more at her blog: http://www.dlkingerotica.blogspot.com or at her website, http://www.dlkingerotica.com.

M. Christian

Posted in Writers with tags on April 24, 2010 by neve black

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.

Erobintica

Posted in Writers with tags on April 17, 2010 by neve black

Fuck Shame

First I cranked the heat up and let the room warm up. Sixty-five degrees is not conducive to disrobing. Yeah, I knew that I didn’t have to literally get naked to participate here at F-Stop. But the Naked I within me wanted to. Why?

Because it scared me.

Because for most of my life I’ve been ashamed of my body.

Because I could hear loud and clear all the reasons why not to.

Because I’m slowly becoming more comfortable in my own skin.

Because I can think of all the reasons why I should.

Because it’s a transgressive act.

Because it scares me.

Fear and shame are like that gooey substance they use in mousetraps. You know the stuff. I’ve used those traps in the attic. I’d know when a mouse stepped on one. Because usually they didn’t jump in with all four feet. Nope. Maybe just one foot. Mice aren’t stupid. As they’d try to get away (usually successfully too), I’d hear the clapclapclap of the little cardboard tray banging across the plywood above me. If I went up to check, I’d find the trap wedged against the wall where the little critter was able to break free. Struggle is good. The few mice that were caught, I always felt like they probably just gave up and gave in to the goo.

Sitting in my bathrobe, trying to get up the nerve to start the photo session for this post, I could tell that I was having a wee bit of PTSD. My husband was patient with me. Yeah, I have a history – experienced stuff that I would not wish on anyone. I’ve had a lot of toxic shame to pull away from. I’m still picking it from my skin. But that’s not what this is about. This is about getting to a place where the fear and shame are not strong enough to hold me in place anymore.

I’m fifty-two years old. This body has birthed three children; two girls now in their twenties and a teenage son, who was born at home weighing ten pounds. My breasts have fed children for a combined total of close to ten years. There is plenty of sagging and stretch marks. If not for the wonders of woven cloth, I could give the Venus of Willendorf a serious run for her money. Our bodies are wondrous. Why should we be ashamed?

Because just about everything we’ve ever heard our entire lives has told us that we should be. Afraid. Ashamed. Of who we are, what we are.

I removed the robe and lay down on the bed. My husband was probably as nervous as I was. He admitted that he’d never taken pictures of a naked woman before. I’m sure many people, even some friends, would think what we were doing was dreadful. All this should be “private.” I had a phone conversation with my sister once and listened to her rant on about how awful it was that anyone would think about putting naked pictures of themselves on the internet. Needless to say, she doesn’t know about Erobintica. Bodies should be private. Sex should be private. That’s what we’ve been told. Shame on you.

I’ve spent a good portion of my life being afraid and ashamed of who I am inside. Sure that if I let anyone see that me, they would be horrified. They’d reject and desert me. I’d end up alone and unloved. My thoughts? Shameful. My desires? Shameful. My predilections? Shameful. And definitely something to be afraid of. And that has carried over into my writing, both poetry and prose. I’d write things that I wouldn’t show to anyone. Even worse, I’d be afraid to write what I wanted to write, even if I told myself not another soul would ever see it. Sometimes I wrote it anyway, too often, sadly, I did not.

Shame eats away at you, like dry rot. When you stop yourself from writing what you want to, from maybe even thinking about writing what you want to, creativity can grind to a halt. Somehow I’ve managed to begin to pull away from the trap. Not sure how. I’ll probably spend the rest of my life pondering that – and writing those ponderings down.

As the photos were taken, I became more at ease. No, I didn’t do the model thing, but I found that it wasn’t as scary as I’d thought it would be. We had the lights pretty low. Too low it turned out. We had to retake the photos another night. Plus I noticed that I still had sock lines because I’d forgotten to take them off beforehand. Yeah, I was worried about sock lines! When I looked at the photos, I expected to feel some “ick – is that me?” But I didn’t. I’m no beauty. And as I just typed that, I paused. Because there it is. That shame. Still. It’s not gone. Maybe it never will be.

Humans are complex creatures. I like complex. I like messy. Always have.  Nothing’s more unsatisfying than an ending tied up neatly with a bow. Writers who revel in the erotic, are ones who venture into territory that makes many people uncomfortable. But we’re right there, looking closely at what makes others squirm. I like that.

One of my favorite lines is from Joni Mitchell’s song Case of You: “I’m frightened by the devil/and I’m drawn to those ones that ain’t afraid.” One of the first poems I wrote was titled “Magnets” – about being equally attracted and repelled. That’s been me and sex, in a nutshell. It’s scared me, but it has an incredibly strong pull. That’s why I know I’ll spend the rest of my life writing about it. It’s funny, sometimes I wonder if people think this is a “phase” I’m going through. And once it’s run its course I’ll turn to other more socially acceptable writing. Maybe a cookbook? Or at least happy poems that rhyme. Maybe, but I’m pretty sure the rich, naughty stuff is here to stay.

Spine

Fingertips trace a line  

slow soft nape of neck

to hard tip of tailbone

message travels

at the speed

of impulse

breath catches

follicles tighten

toes flex

Oh, I still get afraid. Often, actually. I’ll do something daring, then spring back like a bungee jumper. I’ll be brave, then become a frightened child again. But I can’t stop pushing.  I’ll probably do the recoil thing after this post goes up. Why?

Because … how dare I bare my body and soul in this manner?

I’ve come to believe that it is the shame we drape over ourselves that causes more damage than that which causes the shame in the first place. So, fuck shame.

“When I dare to be powerful – to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”  ~ Audre Lorde

Though it was almost twenty years ago that Robin penned her first bit of erotica, it wasn’t until a year and a half ago that Erobintica ventured out into the world. She took on that nickname (given by a friend), started a blog (by the same name), sent out that old story (revised of course) and got it published in Coming Together: Al Fresco, sent out others (most rejected), slowly showing more and more of her whole self to the world. It’s been a trip and a half. With no regrets. Robin also writes and publishes poetry and essays and is at work on a novel. She is not afraid to eat crow.

Thom Gautier

Posted in Writers with tags on April 11, 2010 by donnageorgestorey

Life in the Penthouse

April 1983

I was fifteen. I am fifteen. It was spring. It is spring. Before targeting the mission as my own, I’d begged and bribed older boys to buy Penthouse magazine for me, without success. Now, my impending purchase feels like the wait before a bank heist. A sophomore, I’ve spent the long day in school, my cock hard with innocent anticipation.

I get off the crowded bus miles away from my own neighborhood, and stroll into the shop, pretend to browse music and sports magazines and then stare down at the two stacks of thick magazines.

One stack is Playboy: bleach blondes with beaming smiles. Playboy seems somehow “acceptable” or “safe” porn, vaguely Hollywood, somehow false.

The other stack is Penthouse. Even from its covers, Penthouse seemed like High Culture, featuring sophisticated models decked out in European-style boudoirs. Or posed unadorned, hippy-like, nude, gazing over flower fields.

This month’s issue, May 1983, features a cover model––whose name I came to know––is Linda Kenton. She’s a Grace Kelly ringer––blonde coif, a red dress pulled back, a long leg lifted, a shoeless foot raised, a backward glance. As I bring the magazine up to the counter, my young hands tremble self-consciously. My schoolbag heavy at my side, I am fired up by a vague knowledge that a new kind of homework awaits, and I hand over rumpled dollars and take my change, still shaking. The store owner feels like a co-conspirator.

Safely at home I peel open the magazine like it is a sacred and forbidden text.  The pictorial inside knocks me backwards on my bed. I feel flush. It’s not just the female nudity that draws me in. I shiver, sensing an erotic danger even in simple details. Close eyelids and smoky eyeliner. Or a woman’s knowing glance over a teacup. The path of sunlight from a window to a flowerpot to a naked arm to her nose. What a lithe limb encased in black hosiery looks like peeking from under a tulle dress. I am turned on by these simplest details and by the electric force of her finger posed there, pressed between her parted legs. She invites me to do likewise, and these are my first truly deliberate acts of self-pleasuring, confused strokes, a crazed sensation like swimming without knowing what “water” is.  The magazine opened on my bed, for the first time, I willfully bring myself to orgasm.

December 1986

It is years later and, my Penthouse fat Holiday issue is confiscated by household authorities. What if my much younger siblings had found it? I am grilled by my father.  Compliant but outraged, a day or two later, I head to the newsagent to buy that very same fat, hefty Holiday issue again. I stand at the counter. The store’s register is unmanned. I wait. No one appears. I wait some more, growing bitterly aware that I already paid my hard earned cash for this very issue a week before, before the “authorities” snatched it from me. So without a second thought, I walk out of the store without paying, the free issue under my arm. Free. I am sure I came more than once that afternoon.

January 1988

Coming off a bad run of luck the previous year—I have just turned twenty. Already I am feeling a tad old to be doing this. I double park in the frigid cold and run in to buy Penthouse from the local shop. The annual Pet of the Year issue is just out.  Her name is “Patty Mullen.” When I take “her” home, her beauty bowls me over. An auburn haired woman posed in streaming sunlight, her head crowned with a fedora. The pictorial informs me she is a local gal (“how far a drive is Staten Island from my house,” I wonder?). For the first time, a Penthouse model is exactly my age. Her taste is eclectic and impeccable. She loves “scallops and white wine and chocolate, Woody Allen and white Harley Davidson’s.”  She wears ruffled Queens Anne lace and hooded blouses. Her smiling green eyes burn through me. Patty Mullen is a great omen. The new year turns out to be an annus mirabilis.

October 1990
Away at grad school, exiled in God’s country, I receive an unexpected care package from home. My current girlfriend has shipped me my Penthouse stash.  She enjoyed perusing my back issues. She included a note saying which issue was her favorite. On top of the magazines, she has left a pair of her black lace panties.

January 1994

I am happily engaged. My girlfriend and I are enjoying a prolific sex life, and yet I find myself home alone, midwinter, and bored. In our gentrified neighborhood’s magazine shop, I scope out Penthouse, like old times. The cover model’s name is Sasha Vinni. Eyes like ink, dark, deep as a Russian novel. And a body out of Ovid’s poetry. Sasha, extolling her Russian upbringing, Sasha strolling among an island’s yew trees and kicking in its foamy shore. Sasha seated in sunlight, Sasha hugging her black stocking legs, the trim of her stockings graced by tiny white bows. Sah-sha.

June 1998

I woke up fifteen hours earlier in Prague. Now I am back in New York. Things at home have been stale. If it’s not over between us now it will be soon enough. Everyone knows the unspoken and slow fade-out of a relationship. It happens.  Jet-lagged, horny, I pull off the highway and stop at the newsagent on the way back to the ‘burbs from the airport. I recall it is the same store where I’d shoplifted that issue some twelve years earlier. This time I wait patiently and pay for Penthouse––I’m a good bourgeois boy by now––and taking the magazine under my arm, I actually don’t expect much from it. The few issues I’ve bought in the 1990s are thinner than they used to be, both in content and in quality.  The couple’s pictorials, once a voyeuristic favorite, have become a parade of silicone boobs and steroid biceps and all-too-graphic anatomical close-ups.

Yet that jet-lagged afternoon at home, I am wowed by that month’s model. Kelly Havel. Talk about sexual healing! Unlike my girlfriend at the time, Kelly actually smiles, laughs. An authentic laughter. Her eyes suggest a compelling mix of self-conscious giddiness and a grown-up playfulness. Her black gown is stunning. Her breasts are small, natural. Her ass is small, full. Her legs are long. Her lips against her own lips on the mirror glass. Her tight blouse is painted with Asian flourishes. A dragon. Fire. Tongue. Flame. Relief.

Epilogue: March 2010

Penthouse back then, was not porn as it is in 2010. Those were hard copies, indeed. I don’t regret a minute of it. Or a dollar of it. Lost and found gazing at the pages of Penthouse, I was somehow included and excluded from sex.

I savored that contradiction.

My memories are like those of someone who lived in an Eastern Bloc country, waiting for the trucks to deliver the latest issue to the local pick up point, then smuggling this underground magazine from one location to another. I even persuaded myself that it wasn’t porn, but high art. I treated the issue with delicacy. I stored the magazines safely and variously. I smelled and touched the glossy pages. I studied the pictorials’ foregrounds and backgrounds. I envied those coupling couples, and I was struck dumb by the transgressive photos of threesomes. I knew each of the photographers by name and by their styles. I read subtexts and stories into the settings. If Penthouse’s photographers aspired to be like painters like Renoir and Klimt, they also knew porn was part irony, and even camp. I was disappointed when the magazine punctured my dream-world of sex with nude photo spreads of “real” celebrities: Madonna, Vanessa Williams, Gennifer Flowers. Once or twice, I actually bought an issue for the articles and interviews. Andy Warhol and Pete Townshend and Martin Scorsese. In more literary moods, I often got off to the (always fake) Forum letters.

Secure, alone in my room with the latest issue, I was not put upon by social expectations: teachers, parents, friends, siblings. In Penthouse, I didn’t have to think about “my future” or “responsibilities.”  I got off in the company of beautiful, silent strangers. Their allure was so vivid that I can recall their first names as if they are ex’s of mine, which, in a way, they are. Linda, Patty, Sasha, Kelly. These were women who seemed beyond men: worldly, artistic, independent. Penthouse-living women. That was part of founder Bob Guccione’s goal, his magazine’s sweet illusion. I have often wondered what became of these women in “real” life.

Real-life: how irrelevant is that phrase, especially when applied to the pursuit of pleasure. I think sex is forever intertwined with the unreal, the tangible mirage.

Playing among those phantasms in Penthouse and finding my pleasure between what could be and what is, I gave as much as I got.

While Thom Gautier no longer buys Penthouse magazine, he does write erotica, which has appeared in Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 9 (Running Press), and in the forthcoming Sex in the City: New York Sex (Accent Press).  His stories have also been in Lucrezia Magazine, Sliptongue, Cleansheets, and Oysters & Chocolate.