This Best Bondage Erotica 2012 review was posted by Tousled Elegance on Amazon - I'm reposting it (just correcting my name) because I really like what it says and it may even guide you in writing your stories for Best Bondage Erotica 2013 (May 1 is the very very very firm deadline, but earlier is always better, I'm reading as they come in!). And in separate book news, Best Sex Writing 2012 got a great review at EDGE. Honored and thrilled to see reviewers getting what I want to do with the series. Hope that translates into more kickass, amazing submissions for Best Sex Writing 2013 - with that one, I'm making it easier on myself by breaking the process into chunks so earlier submissions get priority in a big big big big way. Soon as I get back, I'm going into editing mode. Just a heads up. I'm trying to make "rolling submissions" a meaningful part of my editing life from now on or else I might be tempted to quit editing altogether.
I'm a fan in general of projects associated with Rachel Kramer Bussel's name, so in an attempt to be as unbiased as possible, as I sat down to read Bondage Erotica 2012, I tried to keep in mind the reasons readers might choose the genre... What are their expectations and how well does the work meet them?
Erotic fiction tends to get shafted [pun intended?] when it comes to literary recognition and awards. However, I can't sing the praises of those that wind up on Rachel Kramer Bussel's radar enough! Typically overused porn vocabulary is kept to a minimum; this titillating collection is more than just a bunch of dirty stories - some fact, some fiction. There's quite a bit beautiful prose herein. Standouts like Craig J. Sorensen's "Worth Redemption," Elizabeth Coldwell's "A Night At The Opera" and Teresa Noelle Roberts' "Suffer For Me" have an almost poetic flow, without sacrificing an ounce of horniness. Pieces like "Trophy Boyfriend" from Lucy Felthouse, "As Long As You Don't Wake Me" by Neil Gavriel and "Knot Alone" by Kathleen Tudor have a real conversational and conspiratorial tone that draws you in.
While tastes vary, there's enough variety to interest the merely curious, the novice and the initiated kinkster. Straight, gay, bisexual, voyeurism, exhibitionism, the physical aspect, the psychological aspect, couples, strangers and even the taboo topic of self bondage - Best Bondage Erotica 2012 delivers it all, complete with a foreward from rope bondage guru Midori.
I was particularly pleased to see both male and female writers represented. Also, as another reviewer said, as a nice change from the oft penned age play and cross dressing themes, quite a bit of Femme Domme tales featured, yet each still manages to incorporate some other kinky elements as well, thereby keeping it intriguing to those who aren't necessarily into that particular scene. You'll likely find yourself speculating about how the characters got onto this path, what they will do next and what happens to them after their tales have been told. That kind of connection, folks, is one of the hallmarks of a good book!
Whether you're looking for masturbation material, some ideas to spice up your sex life or simply enjoy reading erotic fiction, Best Bondage Erotica 2012 meets expectations and then some!
Aloha! I'm loving Hawaii so far, and am excited about tomorrow night's cupcake meetup (much as I've tried to give it up, event organizing is in my blood, which is good since there are a ton of them coming up over the next 4 months). I've been driven around to gorgeous lookouts in a Tesla Roadster Sport, eaten malasadas at Leonard's Bakery, hung out at Ala Moana Center, gotten a manicure, a bathing suit and cupcakes in Waikiki, saw a former Miss Hawaii do a hula dance at House Without a Key, soaked in a hot tub and watched a gorgeous sunset, among other things. Giant shoutout to AirBNB for making this trip affordable. I'm balancing writing (one piece for a very exciting new venue), cupcake blogging and fun creative writing with soaking up the sun, as it goes. Posting, as always, is more frequent at Tumblr and non-cupcake photos are in my personal Flickr account.
from one of my three flights here
I actually loved being driven around in this, even when I closed my eyes and felt my stomach flip over and over
I bought a scarf today. I had seen one like it on someone earlier this week and thought, That looks so warm. It was raining today and I am going to Milwaukee soon but the real reason I bought it wasn't warmth so much as comfort. It's the kind of scarf that I will want to sleep with, and very likely will, the kind I wish I could transform into a blanket or sweater. It's comforting, and that is worth the price alone. It's also big, so even I will be hard pressed to lose it.
I was sitting in Housing Works Bookstore Cafe when I started this post (and am super excited about my Best Sex Writing 2012 panel here April 25th, details of which are being finalized) but got sidetracked by a deluge of to dos. I had a huge list of errands to run and stopped there to browse and realized I needed to sit down, not even for tea or coffee, but just to sit. I will be sitting for a lot of hours tomorrow; my first of three flights leaves at 6:30 am and I arrive in Honolulu at 8:16 pm, which is 1:16 am New York time, that sitting felt right. I scrapped most of the to dos, like my nails, got toothpaste and sunscreen, and now have the scarf around me in my living room. My bedroom is warmer but I'm afraid it will make me sleep, and that will have to wait for the plane. I kindof want to take the scarf with me but you don't take a scarf to the beach, do you?
I would say more but I literally don't even know what to say at the moment. I can see that I get stuck in patterns of thinking that seem so real I have to shake myself out of them and remind myself I made them up, remind myself that I don't have to be holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop when things go well. I don't want to be the kind of person who can only find solace in escape, but realizing how ill-equipped I am for that word, vacation, how little I know what it means, is unsettling. "I can call you next week to go over this," I wrote to someone I'm working on a project with. "No, I will not call you while you're on vacation. I wouldn't talk about work if I was on vacation, so you shouldn't have to." She's totally right, and yet...I wanted to tell her no, I would talk to her. It feels like it might be the only quiet time I have to do it. Some days I like that pace, but I don't want being busy to only work because it takes my mind off of darker topics.
I almost started crying today at Waffle and Wolf, over a Groupon. I could feel my grasp on the day, and my sanity, drifting away like quicksand. I almost stepped outside because I felt so dumb for not being able to find a piece of paper that I predicted just yesterday I would likely lose. What is it with me and paper? But the man who runs Waffle and Wolf is very nice and knows me now because I'm there so much and wrote out my credit and my friend and I got our waffles and ate and I was not the greatest friend because I kept frantically checking my email but this is a friend who's seen me throw up, who's known me over half my life, who's seen a lot of versions of me other people haven't, so it was okay.
And then I wounded up my errands at FedEx Office, printing $18.99 worth of very valuable papers. I sent my photo to an editor to use for art. I mailed those papers and they are one less thing to deal with when I'm on vacation, or "vacation," as it may be. I don't know what's waiting for me all the way across the country, pretty much I like I clearly have no clue what's waiting for me right here. I guess I'll find out.
A new Carol Wolper novel is a reason to celebrate! I'm looking forward to reading Anne of Hollywood soon. A little birdie is getting me a signed copy. Stay tuned for my review!
Skirts may be shorter now, and messages sent by iPhone, but passion, intrigue, and a lust for power don’t change. National bestselling author Carol Wolper spins a mesmerizing tale of a twenty-first-century Anne Boleyn.
Wily, intelligent, and seductive, with a dark beauty that stands out among the curvy California beach blondes, Anne attracts the attention of Henry Tudor, the handsome corporate mogul who reigns in Hollywood. Every starlet, socialite, and shark wants a piece of Henry, but he only wants Anne. The question is: can she keep him?
Welcome to a privileged world where hidden motives abound, everyone has something to sell, and safe havens don’t exist. With her older sister Mary, a pathetic example of a royal has-been, Anne schemes to win her beloved Henry in the only way that gives a promise of forever—marriage. Success will mean contending with backstabbing “friends,” Henry’s furious ex-wife, and the machinations of her own ambitious family, and staying married to a man who has more options than most and less guilt than is good for either of them will take all her skill. Anne will do anything to hold on to the man—and the lifestyle—she adores, however, even if sticking your neck out in Hollywood means risking far worse than a broken heart. With Henry’s closest confidante scheming against her, and another beautiful contender waiting in the wings, Anne is fighting for her life. Can she muster the charm and wit to pull off her very own Hollywood ending?
Like to listen? Check out 25 stories of female orgasm narrated by Lucy Malone, available now for your listening pleasure from Audible.com. Want a taste of what's in the book? Read my story "Belted" for free (that one is very kinky, but the stories truly range all over the place).
Introduction: Let Me Count the Ways…
The Waiting Game Elizabeth Coldwell
What’s in a Name? Jacqueline Applebee
Chemistry Velvet Moore
The Chair Lolita Lopez
Fixing the Pipes Susie Hara
Share Dusty Horn
Hurdles Rowan Elizabeth
Seeing Stars Louisa Harte
Old Faithful Sylvia Lowry
Paying It Forward Kendra Wayne
The Big O Donna George Storey
Moon Tantra Teresa Noelle Roberts
Feet on the Dashboard Rachel Green
Frosting First Lana Fox
All She Wanted Andrea Dale
Making Shapes Lily Harlem
Rapture Angela Caperton
Belted Rachel Kramer Bussel
Rise and Shine Heidi Champa
Taking the Reins Vanessa Vaughn
First Date with the Dom Noelle Keely
Animal Inside Neve Black
The London O Justine Elyot
Fight Charlotte Stein
Switch Jade Melisande
Let Me Count The Ways...
Orgasm: like sex, it’s one word that means many different things to many different people. For many women, it’s the center of their sexual life, a daily occurrence; something to look forward to, experiment with. For some it means a gushing rush of pleasure, for others it’s a little wave they delight in cresting.
Every woman who orgasms may describe it differently.
Yet there are many women, myself included, who find orgasm not so easy to achieve much of the time (yes, it’s true--I love sex, and get turned on, but coming is a bit more complex for me). In “Hurdles,” Rowan Elizabeth writes of such a character: “I can’t win this. And it’s my hang-up, too. I feel like there’s something I’m just not doing right. Maybe if I tighten my legs a little more or squeeze my eyes shut harder, then we’d get there together.”
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines orgasm as “intense or paroxysmal excitement; especially: an explosive discharge of neuromuscular tensions at the height of sexual arousal that is usually accompanied by the ejaculation of semen in the male and by vaginal contractions in the female.” It comes from the Latin and Greek (orgasmus/orgasmos), from organ “to grow ripe, be lustful.” I like that description, though what it leaves out is that for women, orgasm can stretch beyond the boundaries of ejaculation, can continue on and on, can be drawn out for as long as the woman (or her partner) wants to indulge in the experience.
In Lolita Lopez’s perfectly kinky story, “The Chair,” sex toys and submission go hand in hand with orgasm for the protagonist. “Lily’s orgasms changed from separate events to one long and unending oscillation of bliss.” Her “punishment” at the hands of Cal is one she’s very, very happy to absorb.
There are countless articles and books telling you how to have a bigger, better orgasm. I don’t want to add to the clamor of the voices saying, You must orgasm now. Instead, I want Orgasmic to be a fictional showcase of some of the reasons, methods and delights women bring to their orgasms. I want these red-hot stories to help get you warmed up, primed, aroused. I want them to make you squirm with desire, identification, curiosity. I want you to read these stories aloud to a lover…or someone you wish were your lover.
I did my best to capture an array of big (and little) Os, moments where the world feels like it’s exploding in your body, orgasms that rock more than just your world. These stories capture the ferocity, intensity and power of women’s orgasms, however they’re achieved. I couldn’t include every way women come in this book, or it would be much longer than it is now, but I wanted to include a varied look at what gets women off, which means it’s not always a man or another woman, or even a machine that does the trick. Vanessa Vaughn taps into a classic route with “Taking the Reins:”
As I straddle the seat and slowly lower myself down, I feel a familiar tingle of excitement deep inside. I can sense the monstrous size of the body between my thighs, the large chest expanding and contracting broadly with each breath. The smell of fresh, conditioned leather smothers my sensesæwell, that, and also the slight musky tinge of sweat. It is a raw smell mixed with rich, dark dirt.
Speaking of orgasm how-tos, in “The Big O” by Donna George Storey, she both skewers the omnipresent women’s magazine sex advice and adds a saucy twist as her protagonist puts into practice “The Sexercise Prescription: A Stronger Secret You in Six Weeks.”
The women in Orgasmic climax from tantric sex, role-playing, piercing, G-spot play, sex toys and even chemistry--the scientific kind. They delight in food, God and handymen. They create their own objects of pleasure; they spy, tease, obey, command, argue, submit. Some are shy about their orgasms and some are bold as can be.
They come, and come and come again, and they do it in some of the hottest, most creative ways you can think of. Visit me at orgasmicbook.wordpress.com if you just can’t get enough…orgasms, that is.
Rachel Kramer Bussel
New York City
If you're not an audio person, here's some other ways to purchase it:
I'm a whirlwind of writing, editing, blogging and trying not to have a panic attack as I get ready to escape for 9 days. For anyone jealous of my Hawaii trip, after that I head to Milwaukee, where I'm hosting an erotic writing workshop February 9th, appearing on live TV, and attending Iron Cupcake Milwaukee, not to mention trying to stay warm, so, you know, hot then cold.
Today is National Peanut Butter Day! Celebrate with some cupcake photos I took (all these were absolutely delicious) and click through for more. Food holidays are now my life. Not sure I'd give up erotica entirely if I could cupcake blog full time, but I would totally do it (hint hint, rich patrons!). Just kidding...I love the mix of things I get to do, but these days cupcakes are taking priority. Hoping to rekindle my love of writing for the pure satisfaction of it while on vacation. I truly love writing but these days every time I sit down to do it I think things like: No one will ever want this. You won't finish, you know it, don't fucking bother. You suck. This is a dumb idea. You don't have time to get to the end, so don't start. This idea's been done before. You get the idea. I've missed out on endless opportunities by listening to those awful voices, so I'm trying to set them on fire and kill them for real, finally, but it's not an overnight process. I have my wishlists, and am gonna keep trying until my writing wishes come true, or I make new wishes.
Thanks to everyone for reading me @raquelita and here and anywhere else. There are a million reasons to have doubts and I so often have let and continue to let those doubts derail me from writing, but I'm trying to put a stop to that!
Here's an essay, "Thoughts About Panic Attaking" at The Frisky, about my pre-birthday, pre-live TV panic attack week in November. There's a related essay in the works, because I'm still working on figuring out how not to collapse under pressure. This week, it's getting through until Friday and getting on a plane and going far away. Sometimes that's the only answer. And at least I now know how to get to Cherry Lane Theatre! Hopefully the Erin Courtney reading I missed will happen again.
Two days before my birthday last November, I got a facial at my favorite spa. I lay down on the bed, with the paper gown tucked around me, and the technician went about working her magic on my pores. She put a mask on my face and left me to relax for 10 minutes, with cucumbers resting gently over my eyes, the lights dimmed, and soothing music playing. The setting should’ve been everything I needed to stay calm, and it was … for about two minutes. Then my phone beeped, and I saw a text from a friend telling me to check her Twitter stream ASAP. Of course, I was curious, but I couldn’t get a signal, and spent the rest of the “rest period” feeling antsy, continually picking up my phone to see if suddenly service had been restored. The serenity that I look for when I go to the spa, the chance to shut off my mind while getting my skin rejuvenated, wasn’t there, because all I could think about was when I could get out of the room to check my phone.
Later that afternoon, I decided to see a free play reading at a theater in the West Village. The playwright and I have mutual friends and I loved the idea of getting to do something for free that I couldn’t have done at my day job. I was running late, as usual, and chose the subway stop nearest where I thought the theater was. Then I found myself walking this way and that way, cursing to myself and then to anyone in the street as I realized I wasn’t going to be able to find the theater. I felt so stupid, because I’ve lived in New York since 1996; I should know where I’m going. Even though the West Village is notorious for its winding, hard to navigate streets, I was sure it was my fault. I took my iPhone and slapped it hard against my inner arm, the sting a reminder of my error, a physical manifestation of my anger at myself.
You don't know how hard I'm resisting, and might still fail to resist, ordering the paperback version of A Theory of Small Earthquakes, the first novel by Meredith Maran, whose nonfiction I've been so impressed by over the years. It's available now from Amazon, or waiting til next week to get the Nook version, which will save me money and something to pack. Will probably wait so it's one less thing I own, which is always a good thing (I know, who invaded my brain and wrote that?).
In her ten previous nonfiction books, Meredith Maran has trained her journalistic eye on the subtle dance between the political and the personal. Now Maran brings her provocative gaze to her debut novel – a family story spanning two decades, set against the social, political, and geological upheavals of the Bay Area. Eager to escape her damaging past and chart her own future, Alison Rose is drawn to Zoe, a free-spirited artist who offers emotional stability and a love outside the norm. After many happy years together, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake deepens fissures in the two women’s relationship, and Alison leaves Zoe for a new, “normal” life with a man. Alison’s son is the outcome of both of these complicated relationships, and the three parents strive to create a life together that will test the boundaries of love and family in changing times.
I won't be responding to email too much from January 27th-February 6th though it will be checked and if something is urgent you can put "Urgent" in the subject line and it will be answered as soon as I can. I am learning a new vocabulary word: VACATION! I'll still be doing daily cupcake blogging and am doing a meetup with free cupcakes Tuesday, January 31st in Honolulu (details ASAP) but am otherwise "off." If I can manage it. Big fucking if. But this year is all about embracing the new and leaving behind the old. I truly cannot remember the last time I took a proper vacation, despite my incessant travel. The next 6 or so trips are all either work or family - Milwaukee, Austin, Chicago, Virginia, Portland (reading at Powell's April 6th), Seattle (reading at Elliott Bay April 7th), San Francisco (dates TBA). And, of course, Bermuda. We'll be making lots of announcements soon but tickets are on sale for our Cupcake Cruise August 19th-26th (cupcake party on the beach, anyone?). But I'm pretty overwhelmed and flailing already, so I need this break very badly. I mistreated myself and my career horrifically and it's time I remind myself that I want to be a writer, not just pretend I do.
Last year, upon reading about her in Mistresses: A History of The Other Woman by Elizabeth Abbott, I bought Lillian Ross's memoir Here But Not Here: My Life With William Shawn and The New Yorker. I thought that perhaps I could learn from Ross how to go about loving a brilliant, powerful, larger-than-life man, to live in a parallel world to the official, recognized, lauded, recognized one, and to do so without resenting anyone or anything. I thought that Ross could teach me some secret that seemed to be eluding me, some way of existing in that crazy world that would allow me to live in that privileged space, to welcome its unconventional nature, to revel in it, even.
I wound up putting the book down, now somewhere buried alongside other book carcasses I've abandoned but that phrase, "here but not here," is one that makes sense to me. I so wanted to be there, to be wanted, desired, special, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn't as certain points. I was, and that feeling was even better than being high. It was its own high, one that, indeed, made me hallucinate. I would look out a window and swear I could see us there, the images so vivid in my head, so bright and alive, I actually experienced disorientation.
The "here" part I didn't have trouble with, when it applied to me, when I got the full force of that attention, got swallowed up in it, at whatever hour, wherever and however it happened. I love it when I was "here," or rather "there," with him. It was the "but not" that tripped me up, that still does, the but not of walking through the cherry blossoms, such an extreme blaring of nature's beauty, the ones I was told were waiting for me. If they were, they were the only ones who were, and the emptiness of that "but not" pulled at me.
I think I put Ross's book down in part because I realized early on that while she may have had things to teach me, none of them were an exact roadmap on how to live that life, how to live with all the "but not"s, the silences, the empty spaces, literal and figurative. The gap between fantasy and reality, between greed and selflessness, between me and her. I was so hyperaware of their "here"s, which assaulted me at every turn, so bright and bold and in my face. So oppressively omnipresent that they couldn't help but overshadow any momentary claim I could make, any foolish, fleeting notions I had about what I could offer. The answer, it turned out, was nothing, and it's taken me a while, and I won't say I'm even all the way there yet, to realize that maybe I couldn't offer a single thing to that relationship, but that doesn't mean I can't offer anything to another one. I kept trying to retrace my steps, to figure out my fatal flaws, the things I could work on to become more solid, more real, more "here."
I will return to Ross's book, to her defiance of all that we're taught to believe we should want, in favor of something so pure it becomes its own kind of "here." What I did take away is her pride, her power, her insistence that they shared something no propriety or judgment could deny. I still want to learn from her example, because I got the loudest possible wakeup call that if I don't grapple with that, if I let the "but not"s crush me, they will. They will make any scrap of momentary comfort, the beautiful devils waiting to welcome me into their open arms, so tempting, so inviting, I will be useless to resist.
The other night I was so over winter that I wore one of my favorite summer dresses, one that ties around my neck, dips low in the front, bares my entire back. I covered it with a sweater that I bought to ward off the chill of another "but not" time, a night when I needed some kind of armor to wrap around me, something warm and soft to play with as I entered into the unknown. Now I wear it because I like the way it hangs along my arm, its edge ending mid-ink so if I angle it right, I can see "art" on my arm. I wear it and try to infuse it with new memories, new meanings, which is what I'm being forced to do with so many aspects of my life in order to move them forward into the future, into the here, away from the "but not." It slipped down my back while I maneuvered around in the passenger seat, the warm air greeting my bare skin for a moment before I pulled it up and I was so grateful to be only there, completely present, no "but"s.
My life seems to be a constant grappling, balancing, weighing of the "here"s and the "but not"s and some days are easier than others. Some days the latter wins out, fills me up with that sense of loss, until that is what I hallucinate, and when I let that loss overpower me, I really am not here, I'm nowhere, in some space that I only wish existed. The good days, though, or rather, the good moments, are the ones I'm trying to focus on, the "here"s so strong and intense and real and solid.
Note: Earlier submissions stand a better chance as I will be selecting pieces as I go (but all final responses will happen by August). This doesn't mean that I won't consider everything submitted by deadline, but it does mean that you shouldn't wait until May 2nd and hope you can still get in. Trust me, earlier is better for you and better for me and I'm excited to start digging in thisverysecond. For the most part I scout and hunt and read for this series but I welcome any and all submissions, especially the unexpected. That's my most helpful hint aside from writing something heartfelt, beautiful, novel and unique to you, and reading the past editions, especially this years, aka, my very favorite book of all my 42 books, Best Sex Writing 2012. It's also the most varied in terms of types of stories from the literary fiction world, journalism, sex-positive world, etc. And follow the guidelines. Thanks! Feel free to circulate the below wide and far, aka, everywhere.
Call for submissions: Best Sex Writing 2013
To be edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
guest judge TBA
Publication date: December 2012
Deadline for submissions: May 1, 2012
Editor Rachel Kramer Bussel is looking for personal essays and reportage for inclusion in the 2013 edition of the Cleis Press series Best Sex Writing, which will hit stores in December 2012. Seeking articles from across the sexual spectrum, covering (in no particular order) alternative sexuality, asexuality, reproductive rights and sexuality, sex education, sex and technology, sex work, sex and aging, sex and parenting, sex and politics, sex and religion, sex and race, sex and class, sex and disability, scientific research about sex, marriage, GLBT rights, BDSM, polyamory, transgender issues, gender roles, etc. Media criticism is also especially welcome; for excellent examples, see "The Careless Language of Sexual Violence" by Roxane Gay and "Men Who 'Buy Sex' Commit More Crimes: Newsweek, Trafficking, and the Lie of Fabricated Sex Studies" by Thomas Roche in Best Sex Writing 2012. These topics are just starting points; any writings covering the topic of sex will be considered. Personal essays will also be considered. I like work that looks at sex in new and unusual ways (see Stacey D'Erasmo's "Silver-Balling" in Best Sex Writing 2009 for a prime example), that challenges us to think about sex and our own sexuality, is thought-provoking and possibly disturbing. I want sex journalism that's found in the most unexpected places and is as topical as possible. No fiction or poetry will be considered.
Previous editions of the annual series have featured authors such as Brian Alexander, Violet Blue, Susannah Breslin, Susie Bright, Stephen Elliott, Gael Greene, Michael Musto, Scott Poulson-Bryant, Tracy Quan, Mary Roach, Tristan Taormino, Virginia Vitzhum, and others. The series has reprinted work from national magazines and newspapers, college newapapers, independent magazines, zines, websites, literary journals, memoirs and more. See Best Sex Writing 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012 for examples of the types of writing being sought. I'm especially looking for reported pieces that are political, timely, intelligent, surprising, and insightful about sex in American culture (and its many subcultures).
Requirements: Story must have been published (or slated to be published) between August 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012, online and/or in print (book, magazine, zine or newspaper) in the United States. No unpublished work; reprints only.
Instructions: Please send your double-spaced submission (up to 5,000 words) as a Word document or RTF attachment to bestsexwriting2013 at gmail.com – you may submit a maximum of TWO pieces for consideration. You MUST include your full contact information, a bio, and previous publication details as per below. Early submissions are preferred and encouraged as the selection process is rolling.
If for some reason you are unable to send a Word document or RTF, send your submission in the body of an email. Put "Submission" in the subject line. Electronic submissions only. Include your name, email address, mailing address, phone number, and exact publication details (title of publication, date of publication, and any other relevant information). ONLY SEND WORK YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REPRINT.
Editors may submit up to three submissions from their publication, following the guidelines above. Please make it clear that you are the editor submitting work for consideration from your publication, and have the author's contact information available upon request.
Email address (for queries and submissions): bestsexwriting2013 at gmail.com
Payment: $100 and 2 copies of the book on publication
Deadline: May 1, 2012
Expect to hear back from me by September 1, 2012 at the latest
A new promotion for the New Year and a perfect Valentine's Day gift! Pre-order Irresistible: Erotic Romance for Couples in ebook or print form, from any seller, and I'll send you any of my in print Cleis Press books free (and autographed!). All you have to do is have a U.S. mailing address. Want to see if you'd like what's inside Irresistible? It has 16 longer-than-usual hot sexy romantic stories, and you can read excerpts from all of them at the Irresistible blog.
To get your free book (books will be sent by mid-February), email your receipt or a snapshot of it to irresistibleantho at gmail.com with "BOGO" in the subject line, your choice of the books below, and your name and US mailing address (sorry, US only). And thank you for your support!
Pick from: Best Bondage Erotica 2011, Best Bondage Erotica 2012, Best Sex Writing 2008, Best Sex Writing 2009, Best Sex Writing 2010, Best Sex Writing 2012, Caught Looking, Do Not Disturb: Hotel Sex Stories, Fast Girls, Gotta Have It: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex, He's on Top, Hide & Seek, The Mile High Club, Obsessed, Orgasmic, Passion, Peep Show, Please, Ma'am, Please, Sir, Rubber Sex, She's on Top, Smooth, Spanked, Surrender, Tasting Her, Tasting Him, Women in Lust, Yes, Ma'am or Yes, Sir. See all the covers at Cleis Press.
This Irresistible read features loving couples turning their deepest fantasies into reality, resulting in uninhibited, imaginative sex they can only enjoy together. You’ll delight in discovering all the exciting erotic possibilities, from serving tea naked to a very intimate massage to a reminder that sometimes best friends make the best lovers. Engage in a little sexting in A.M. Hartnett’s sizzling “Safe for Work” office tryst, and follow a kinky candidate for public office—and his lusty wife—in "Hypocrites." Cole Riley’s moving “Same As It Ever Was” shows that makeup sex can be worth fighting for. Dirty talk leads to lustful surprises and inspiration for the neighbors in “The Mitzvah” by Tiffany Reisz. As editor Rachel Kramer Bussel notes, the lovers in this daringly romantic anthology are “able to open up in the ways they do is precisely because they have another person to rely on, coax them, challenge them, tease them and seduce them into traveling down a new sexual path. Whether that means outdoor sex, kink, a trip to a strip club or a very sensual massage, we get to see how the layers of trust that have been built up get used to stoke the fire that burns between them.”
Pre-order Irresistible: Erotic Romance for Couples:
A lot of the erotica that comes across my desk focuses on the spark of attraction when strangers meet, the cataclysmic sensation of falling, hard, for someone new and exciting. That makes sense, because there’s built-in drama and erotic tension when two people discover there’s intense chemistry between them. With this anthology, though, I wanted to explore what happens after that, once those people have been together a while (even a short while). I wanted to see what sparks fictional couples could produce on the page, and the results are, well, scorching.
The couples in this book explore all sorts of exciting sexual possibilities, and one of the main reasons they’re able to open up in the ways they do is precisely because they have another person to rely on, coax them, challenge them, tease them and seduce them into traveling down a new sexual path. Whether that means outdoor sex, kink, a trip to a strip club or a very sensual massage, we get to see the ways the layers of trust that have been built up get used to stoke the fire that burns between them.
In addition to enjoying naughty, wild adventures, the couples here also work out differences between one another and handle issues like infidelity in ways that ultimately strengthen, rather than destroy, their relationships' longevity. In Cole Riley’s “Same As It Ever Was,” Joanne suspects her husband of cheating, but with a little help from her best friend, manages to recapture the sensual spirit and passion that’s been missing as both husband and wife make amends and move on, knowing what it was they almost lost. Rekindling a romance that’s threatened to go stale is also the theme of “Renewal” by Delilah Night, where she writes, “That touch sent a long-missing ripple through my body. I hesitated, hoping he’d remember what I love.”
In “The Pact” by Elizabeth Coldwell, a woman rediscovers a man she’d once passed over, only to find that the years they’ve spent apart have made him someone she’s sorry she overlooked. How a couple deals with a death in the family, as well as religious tradition, is the subject of “The Mitzvah” by Tiffany Reisz, as Grace and Zachary find that embracing desire can be healing. Kris Adams takes us into an African village and some complicated relationship dynamics, along with a lot of voyeurism, in “Six Eyes, Two Ears.” Kay Jaybee takes a common fantasy, that of a man watching two women make love, and breathes new life into it by showing both halves of a couple as they live out this dream.
Individual characters work through their own issues with the help of their partners, getting support, love and, of course, very hot sex. “Repaint the Night,” by Janine Ashbless, is about public sex, but, even more, a woman who is conquering a fear of the dark after being mugged ten years before. The erotic power of that story is heightened by Leah’s awe at being able to enjoy what she and Callum are sharing, as she recovers a part of herself she lost and deepens the level of trust between them.
For those who likes things a bit spicier, there’s "The Netherlands” by Justine Elyot, in which a nude Loveday serves guests tea and takes orders, while fulfilling a longtime fantasy of being “used,” with her true love there to watch.
Make no mistake: though these are stories about couples, they are not light or fluffy. They are full of joy, lust and kink, as well as realistic elements of mistrust, uncertainty and confusion, which the couples work through in ways that don’t gloss over or ignore their differences.
These couples, however long they’ve been a team, push the envelope by pushing themselves to try something new, even when they’re not sure where it will lead them. They go to those exotic, erotic places, to those recurring fantasies, because they know they have someone who will travel there with them. I hope this book will inspire nighttime reading--out loud--and erotic adventures, as well as conversations that have been bubbling under the surface, waiting to be exposed, just like the fantasies in the tales you’re about to read.
Best Sex Writing 2012
Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, selected and introduced by Susie Bright
This is no collection of erotic fiction but rather a presentation of year's most challenging and provocative nonfiction essays on all things sex. Bright writes in the foreword, "We're here to reveal the well-sharpened pitchforks of sexual hypocrisy," and the book does just that with sources as diverse as Salon, The Village Voice, Newsweek, and The Chronology of Water. Nearly every piece is excellent, but some are clearly heads above others: Thomas Roche's look at the biased science around anti–sex work studies, Camille Dodero's "Guys Who Like Fat Chicks," and gay former soldier Tim Elhajj's "An Unfortunate Discharge Early in My Naval Career" chief among them. A must-read book, regardless of what kind of sex you like. ($16, Cleis Press)
My latest essay at The Frisky is entitled "Why I'll Never Date Another Guy Named 'Tom'" and looks at exes and names and how they affect our perceptions of future people we encounter with the same name. Name as dealbreaker? Yes...probably.
Relatively recently, I dated two men in a row with the same first name—I’ll call them both Tom for the sake of this essay. One I fell in love with, and while I’m mostly over him, I’m not there all the way. Both are guys I was friends with before dating them, and I considered the possibility that the name thing would get weird with Tom 2.0, but I’d had a crush on him, so I overlooked it. They’re fairly different in personality, but the fact that in addition to sharing a name, both Toms have similar body types and professions adds to my sense that men with this name are not my type. Not to mention the fact that after I dated Tom 1.0, I had to keep calling Tom 2.0 by his full name when telling my friends about him, lest anyone get confused.
Dating men who share a name is not the same as, say, dating one guy who’s the spitting image of another, but it’s close.
A little personal note: Best Bondage Erotica 2012 authors really pushed the envelope for me as an editor with self-bondage such as in opener "Melting Ice" by Shoshanna Evers and incredibly creative twists and turns, as did Best Bondage Erotica 2011 authors with an office computer cable-as-bondage-equipment scenario in Lisabet Sarai's "Wired". That's what I look for: not those specifics, exactly, but ingenuity, creativity, plots that pull me in from word one and never let go. The trickiest part of editing a themed anthology is balancing all the things a good editor has to balance: types of bondage, motivations for bondage, bondage and sexuality, language, bondage and other types of BDSM, gender, POV, tense, setting, pacing, etc. I need a wide, wide range of stories, which doesn't mean you can't use a familiar setting or familiar kink, you just need to make it stand out from the other stories I'm reading all about the very same topic.
Good luck, and early stories are strongly encouraged but I'll read anything that arrives by May 1st! If you're not sure what I like, I do recommend reading either or both of the previous volumes (but I recommend that anywhere cause they're HOT!). The above was meant to motivate you, not intimidate you - write the best bondage story you can, and it will be considered, that's the best advice I can give you other than to follow the directions. I cannot even tell you how many people don't - and if you have any questions, just ask. Another way to think about your stories in general is to visualize/storyboard them. Note: I don't do this, but when I had my Best Bondage Erotica 2011 story turned into a comic by Seth Kushner at CulturePOP it forced me to be very, very aware of every word, every image, every sentiment.
Call for Submissions
Best Bondage Erotica 2013
To be published by Cleis Press in late 2012
Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Best Bondage Erotica 2013 will collect the best bondage erotica stories around, focusing on a range of techniques, implements, characters and scenarios, from newbies to seasoned bondage players and everything in between. Bondage should be a central focus of the erotic element of the story but the plot does not have to hinge on bondage. The final book will include stories focused on both the physical and mental aspects of bondage, from varying points of view. Bondage plus other sexual activity is welcome (spanking, tickling, exhibitionism, voyeurism, intercourse, oral sex, teasing, etc.). Original, unique, creative characters, settings, scenarios and forms of bondage are encouraged. As befitting the title, I’m looking for the best, hottest, most creative bondage erotica for this collection. All genders/sexual orientations welcome. Original stories strongly preferred, but reprints of work published (or slated to be published) between September 2011 and November 2012 will be considered but will be given lower priority than original work. All characters must be over 18; no incest or bestiality. Please see Best Bondage Erotica 2011 and Best Bondage Erotica 2012 (http://www.bestbondageerotica.com) or my other kinky Cleis Press anthologies (Bottoms Up, Spanked, Yes, Sir, Yes, Ma’am, He’s on Top, She’s on Top) for an idea of the kinds of stories I prefer.
How to submit: Send double spaced Times or Times New Roman 12 point black font Word document with pages numbered (.doc, not .docx) OR RTF of 1,500-4,000 word story. Indent the first line of each paragraph half an inch and double space (regular double spacing, do not add extra lines between paragraphs or do any other irregular spacing). US grammar (double quotation marks around dialogue, etc.) required. Include your legal name (and pseudonym if applicable), mailing address, and 50 word or less bio in the third person to email@example.com. If you are using a pseudonym, please provide your real name and pseudonym and make it clear which one you’d like to be credited as. You will receive a confirmation within 72 hours. I will get back to you by September 2012.
Payment: $50 and 2 copies of the book on publication
Deadline: May 1, 2012 (earlier submissions encouraged and preferred)
I’ve been seeing numerous recent submissions that do not conform to my guidelines. They are there for a reason. Please read and follow them or risk your submission being rejected or returned for reformatting. If you have any questions, please contact me at
About the editor: Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) is the editor of over 40 anthologies, including Best Bondage Erotica 2011 and 2012, Irresistible, Gotta Have It, Women in Lust Orgasmic, Fast Girls, Passion, Peep Show, Bottoms Up, Spanked, The Mile High Club, Do Not Disturb, He’s on Top, She’s on Top, Tasting Him, Tasting Her, Crossdressing, Dirty Girls, and is Best Sex Writing Series Editor. She writes the Secrets of a Sex Writer column for SexisMagazine.com, and has hosted and curated In The Flesh Reading Series for five years. Her writing has been published in over 100 anthologies, including Susie Bright’s X: The Erotic Treasury, Best American Erotica 2004 and 2006, and Zane’s Purple Panties and the New York Times bestseller Succulent: Chocolate Flava II. She has written for Cosmopolitan, The Daily Beast, Fresh Yarn, Inked, Mediabistro, Newsday, New York Post, Penthouse, The Root, Salon, Time Out New York, xoJane, Zink and other publications.
February 9th is around the corner - if you could do me a big favor and let anyone you know who might be interested in this writing workshop in Milwaukee at Tool Shed Toys , I'd really appreciate it. You can register online. I'm a little afraid I will freeze, but I'm excited about trying something new. And I look forward to writing workshops as a chance to find new authors for my anthologies. Hopefully by then I'll have some new calls up! And if you're in Milwaukee, check out all their events, including a Naughty Needles knitting event! (I wrote a column about that, "Kinky Knitknacks," once for The Village Voice.)
CLASS: Erotica 101 Writing Workshop
With Rachel Kramer Bussel
February 9, 8:00pm - 9:30 pm
Professional erotica author and editor Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor of over 40 anthologies, including Gotta Have It, Women in Lust, Irresistible: Erotic Romance for Couples, Orgasmic, and The Mile High Club, will take you through the ins and outs of modern erotic writing, from getting started, finding your voice, writing against type, erotic love and lust letters, to submitting your work keeping up with the thriving erotica market. You'll learn how to incorporate everyday scenarios as well as outlandish fantasies into your writing, and make them fit for particular magazines and anthologies. Whether you're writing to that special someone, penning longtime fantasies, or want to earn cash for your dirty words, this workshop, taught by the editor of over a dozen erotic anthologies, is for you. Paper and writing implements will be provided or you can use your own laptop.
$15 per person.
When you purchase a ticket online your name will be added to the guest list for the event. Please arrive about 10 minutes early to check in at the desk and grab a seat.
PLEASE NOTE: You may see a charge for tax when you purchase a ticket online-- this amount will be removed from your final charge.
I'm only 27 pages in and am smitten with performer Storm Large's memoir Crazy Enough Two excerpts below are part of the reason why. You can also read some excerpts at Willamette Week. Plus the cover rocks!
First, her awesome disclaimer - I read a lot of memoirs and sometimes they offer up a straightforward one, and sometimes the writers get a bit more creative (Sara Benincasa also has a great one in her mental health memoir Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom). I added a silent "Fuck yeah" at the end of this one as I read.
All of these stories are true and as accurate as I could get them, with the help of friends and family who were party or privy to the events described. Several names and identifying characteristics of people and places have been blurred or outright changed to protect the innocent and the dead. Some have been changed to protect myself from the drug addled and psychotic, along with the general douche baggery that is so prevalent in these litigious times. Many of these memories are from more than thirty years ago, so keep in mind there have been a few tankers of alcohol and trash bags full of drugs, not to mention acres of weenie, that have been tossed through my body and brain since then, so I could have gotten a few things twisted around. But I do know for sure that I live at the end.
And then this passage, one which I, um, identify heavily.
Everything with me as a child--and later on--was either the mostexcitingwonderfulamazingyougottacomeseethisnow thing ever or else the sun would be going black, it was raining frogs, and the hooves of plague were thundering around me. Sometimes, I wondered if I was too sensitive to even be alive. I still feel that way now and then, like a turtle yanked raw and naked from its shell and tossed, torn open, and shrieking, into a sandstorm.
This promotion is limited to United States addresses, and is only good for the ebook version of Best Sex Writing 2012purchased on January 17th, 2012. Both the Kindle and Nook editions are only $9.64 and 9.99 respectively, so one of those low prices, you get an e-book and a signed erotica book or signed edition of a previous Best Sex Writing edition. What a deal!
Best Sex Writing 2012 gets released as an ebook this Tuesday, January 17th. If you're going to buy it, I'm encouraging you to buy it that day and will send you a free, autographed copy of any of my in print Cleis Press books; choose from the following:
Pick from: Irresistible, Best Bondage Erotica 2011, Best Bondage Erotica 2012, Best Sex Writing 2008, Best Sex Writing 2009, Best Sex Writing 2010, Caught Looking, Do Not Disturb: Hotel Sex Stories, Fast Girls, Gotta Have It: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex, He's on Top, Hide & Seek, The Mile High Club, Obsessed, Orgasmic, Passion, Peep Show, Please, Ma'am, Please, Sir, Rubber Sex, She's on Top, Smooth, Spanked, Surrender, Tasting Her, Tasting Him, Women in Lust, Yes, Ma'am or Yes, Sir. See all the covers at Cleis Press..
Email your receipt to me at bestsexwriting2012 at gmail.com by January 20th. Put "BOGO" in the subject and include the receipt, your name and US mailing address, and which book you'd like. I will mail you an autographed copy by February 9th. If you'd like me to autograph it to someone other than you, just let me know. Thanks for reading! A refresher below if you want to know more about the book.
Watch the book trailer:
Table of contents:
When the Sex Guru Met the Sex Panic Susie Bright
Beyond the Headlines: Real Sex Secrets Rachel Kramer Bussel (see below)
Sluts, Walking Amanda Marcotte
Criminalizing Circumcision: Self-Hatred as Public Policy Marty Klein
The Worship of Female Pleasure Tracy Clark-Flory
Sex, Lies, and Hush Money Katherine Spillar
The Dynamics of Sexual Acceleration Chris Sweeney
Atheists Do It Better: Why Leaving Religion Leads to Better Sex Greta Christina
To All the Butches I Loved between 1995 and 2005: An Open Letter about Selling Sex, Selling Out, and Soldiering On Amber Dawn
I Want You to Want Me Hugo Schwyzer
Grief, Resilience, and My 66th Birthday Gift Joan Price
Latina Glitter Rachel Rabbit White
Dating with an STD Lynn Harris
You Can Have Sex With Them; Just Don’t Photograph Them Radley Balko
An Unfortunate Discharge Early in My Naval Career Tim Elhajj
Guys Who Like Fat Chicks Camille Dodero
The Careless Language of Sexual Violence. Roxane Gay
Men Who “Buy Sex” Commit More Crimes: Newsweek, Trafficking, and the Lie of Fabricated Sex Studies Thomas Roche
Taking Liberties Tracy Quan
Why Lying about Monogamy Matters Susie Bright
Losing the Meatpacking District: A Queer History of Leather Culture Abby Tallmer
Penis Gagging, BDSM, and Rape Fantasy: The Truth about Kinky Sexting Rachel Kramer Bussel
Adrian’s Penis: Care and Handling Adrian Colesberry
The Continuing Criminalization of Teen Sex Ellen Friedrichs
Love Grenade Lidia Yuknavitch
Pottymouth Kevin Sampsell
Beyond the Headlines: Real Sex Secrets
Rachel Kramer Bussel
I think about sex a lot—every day, in fact. I don’t mean that in an “I want to get it on” way, but in a “What are other people up to?” way. I’m a voyeur, first and foremost, and this extends to my writing. I’m naturally curious about what other people think about sex, from their intimate lives to how their sexuality translates to the larger world.
With the Best Sex Writing series, I get to merge my voyeuristic self with my journalism leanings, and peek into the lives, public and private, of those around me. This volume in the series doesn’t pull any punches; the authors have strong opinions, whether it’s Marty Klein sticking up for circumcision in the face of an effort in California to criminalize it, Roxane Gay taking the New York Times to task for its treatment of an 11-year-old rape victim, Thomas Roche calling out Newsweek for its shoddy reporting about prostitution, or Radley Balko examining a child pornography charge.
There are also more personal takes on sex here that go beyond facile headlines or easy answers, that aren’t about making a point so much as exploring what real-life sex is like in all its beauty, drama, and messiness. Whether it’s Amber Dawn and Tracy Quan sharing the truth about their lives as sex workers, or Hugo Schwyzer explaining the damage our culture does to men with its mythology about their innate sexual prowess, or Tim Elhajj’s first-person account of pre–don’t ask, don’t tell military life, these authors show you a side of sex that you rarely see.
What you are about to read are stories, all true, some reported on the streets and some recorded from lived experience, from the front lines of sexuality. They deal with topics you read about in the headlines, and some topics you may never have considered. They are but a small sampling of the many kinds of sexual stories I received in the submission process.
Part of why I think sex never goes out of style, as a topic or activity, is that it is so very complex. There is no one way to do it, nor two, nor three. Sex can be mundane or mind-blowing, and for those who are trying to get from the former to the latter, there is a plethora of resources but also a host of misinformation purveyed by snake oil salesmen.
In Best Sex Writing 2012, you will read about subjects as diverse as “Guys Who Like Fat Chicks,” the care an handling of a man’s penis, and the glamour and glitter of the Latina drag world. Abby Tallmer, telling a story set in a very specific time and place—the gay leather clubs of New York’s Meatpacking District in the 1990s—manages to capture why sexual community is so vital, and why, I’d venture, those who lack such a community wind up mired in sex scandals. Tallmer writes, “These clubs gave us a place to feel that we were no longer outsiders—or rather, they made us feel that it was better to be outsiders, together, than to force ourselves to be just like everybody else.”
I’m especially pleased to present stories about the kinds of sexuality and sexual issues that don’t always make the headlines, from Lynn Harris’s investigation of dating with an STD to Hugo Schwyzer’s moving look at men’s need to be sexually desired and what happens when boys and men are told that that wanting to be desired is wrong. Joan Price gives some insight into elder sexuality, as well as into what it’s like to purchase the services of a sexual healer. The topic of elder sex is often treated with horror or disgust, or the focus is placed on concern over STDs—which is a worthy topic this series has explored before. But Price, author of two books on elder sexuality (her piece here is excerpted from Naked At Our Age), obliges the reader to see the humanity behind her age. She writes, “My birthday erotic massage from a gentle stranger changed something in me. It showed me that I was still a responsive, fully sexual woman, getting ready to emerge from the cocoon of mourning into reexperiencing life. I realized that one big reason I ended up on Sunyata’s massage table was so that I could get ready to reenter the world.”
Not all, or even most, of the reading here is “easy.” Much of it is challenging and heartbreaking. Roxane Gay’s media criticism centers on a New York Times story about a Texas gang rape and why “The Careless Language of Sexual Violence” distorts our understanding about rape. You may think such a piece doesn’t belong in an anthology with this title, but until we rid our world of sexual violence so that everyone can freely express themselves sexually, we need to hear searing indictments of media or those in power who ignore injustice.
As an editor, I’m not only looking for pieces that I agree with, or identify with, but for work that illuminates something new about a topic that’s been around forever. The authors here dig deep, challenging both mainstream ideas about sex and a few sex-positive sacred cows. Ellen Friedrichs sticks up for the right of teenagers to be sexual without throwing parents, school boards, and other adults into a sex panic. Amanda Marcotte explores the fast-moving SlutWalk protest phenomenon, which has garnered criticisms from various sides, from being futile to only appealing to white women.
I will quote Abby Tallmer again, because I don’t hear the words “sexual liberation” often enough these days. What moves me most about her piece is that you don’t have to be a New Yorker, queer, leather, or kinky to understand what she’s talking about. I’m 100 percent with her when she writes, “Back then, many of us believed that gay liberation was rooted in sexual liberation, and we believed that liberation was rooted in the right—no, the need—to claim ownership of our bodies, to experience and celebrate sexuality in as many forms as possible, limited only by our time and imagination.” I hope this applies in 2012 just as much as it did in the 1970s, 80s, or 90s.
The truth is, I could have filled a book twice this size. Every day, stories are breaking, and being told, about sex—some wondrous, some heartbreaking. This is not a one-handed read, but it is a book that will stimulate your largest sex organ: your brain. Whether you live and breathe sex, you are curious about sex, or somewhere in between, I hope Best Sex Writing 2012 informs, incites, and inspires you. I hope it inspires you to write and tell your own sexual story, because I believe the more we talk about the many ways sex moves us, the more we work toward a world where sexual shame, ignorance, homophobia, and violence are diminished.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this book and what you think are the hot topics around sex. Feel free to email me at rachel at bestsexwriting.com with your comments and suggestions for next year’s anthology.
I'm such a dork but I don't care. I love writing for new venues and it's rare these days that those are print venues. I've been wanting to write for Inked for a while and I haven't seen it yet, but a short interview I did with Tristan Taormino about her work and her tattoos should be in their February 2012 sex issue, on newsstands soon. I've known Tristan for over a decade and have interviewed her multiple times but I learned things from this interview, as I should! If you missed it, I wrote about my first tattoo, "Why I Got The Word 'Open' Tattooed on My Back" for Lemondrop, and think good thoughts about an essay about my second tattoo that is out on submission that I hope to share with you, let's just say sometime in 2012. I have a vague inkling (ha!) that I want to get another one when I'm in Portland, Oregon. Partly because it'd be cool to have one from Portland, Maine and Portland, Oregon, partly because my friend there is a tattoo artist, and partly because the right side of my body is feeling art neglected.
All you need to know about today's cupcake meetup at Billy's Bakery is here.
And if you like, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Blue Ivy Carter and/or babies, please check out my post . Anyone famous you want to see a cupcake post about? It would require there be cupcakes related to them out there, but you'd be surprised what people bake.
First I want to say that I'm not a dance critic, or any kind of critic besides a book critic, nor do I want to be. For proper professional real performance art criticism, read Culturebot or the forum of your choice.
Another caveat is that I've seen probably less than five dance performances in my life. I go to theater more than I go to the movies, and I read a lot, and sometimes I go to museums. Those are the main forms of art I consume. The idea of dance performances is not one that sounds like something I'd like. It sounds over my head, like the ideas are being expressed in a language I don't speak, hence I shy away from it, which is perhaps a vicious cycle. So in the interest of recommending it before I forget what I saw or chicken out that this is useless and amateurish, here are my thoughts.
But when my friend H. invited me to see Untitled Feminist Show by Young Jean Lee at Baryshnikov Arts Center, I said yes, based almost entirely on this image:
First thing that happened is that as we were standing outside saying hi to Melissa Febos, she spotted Baryshnikov. I'm not sure I would've recognized him, but there he was entering the theater. He was part of the audience too. We went inside and admired the crowd, which seemed to be a mix of queer folks in their twenties and thirties, burlesque fans, and theater and dance fans.
I wish I had a photo of the seats, because I think I can safely say they are the most comfortable theater seats I've ever sat in, and the prettiest. They are a teal-ish blue and were extremely comfortable; I could easily lie down and sleep on them. That helped, cause I tend to get fidgety.
Once the lights went down, the six naked performers started making their way down the stairs on either side, breathing heavily. By the time they reached the stage, I knew this was not going to be a "regular" dance performance. Firstly, it was funny. I felt invited to both ogle and appreciate and laugh at the absurdity of the naked women onstage. The dancing involved skipping, leaping, running, head banging, touching, acrobatics, acting, interacting, laughing, crying, fighting, flirting with the audience, and simulating sex acts, among other things. I was surprised that it was a far cry from whatever my preconceived notions of "dance" were.
My takeaway was that I didn't need to "know" or decipher what ever scene "meant" to enjoy it. That there were extremely minimal props besides the women's bodies--namely, lights, music and a few parasols--is remarkable. And about those bodies: not only don't you see six naked women onstage very often, but seeing the range of bodies, from what I can only describe as butch, to plus-size, tattoos peeking out here and there. Their nudity was certainly a major component of the performance, which struck me when they came out onstage at the end to take a bow in a variety of clothing and styles that I'm pretty sure would've been distracting during the show. Seeing them move in all kinds of motions naked and utterly comfortable in their skin was moving and inspiring. It made me appreciate the strength it took to lift up another woman and make it look effortless, to be so seemingly at ease. That I admired greatly.
The highlight, for me, was seeing Hilary Clark rock out to a number that was just remarkable; she was at one with the music, hair whipping each way. It was this totally pure rock appreciation moment, and she took it into the audience, including dancing right on over to Baryshnikov. It was beautiful and glorious and then segued into a fight scene that was my second favorite, in slow motion. It was a strange sensation to enjoy watching women fighting, even if it was in the context of a performance; it was beautiful, and that kindof messed with my head, but it was also real. Women aren't always BFFs with each other, and the show touches on jealousy and outsiderness and being part of a group and excluded from one. At least, I think it does.
In conclusion, I really have no idea what the fuck I'm talking about and I'm obviously self-conscious about that, but in the spirit of writing is always better than not writing, a lesson I'm still slowly, painfully and expensively learning, I'm gonna share this because I am so glad I went to the show. It was beautiful and captivating and fascinating and utterly entertaining.
Hope to see some of you tomorrow at our Cupcakes Take the Cake meetup, and if you can't make it, tell someone in New York City who likes cupcakes about this bargain! RSVP here. See you then!
Billy's Bakery Tribeca
75 Franklin Street
New York, NY
Happy New Year! We get to try all eight of Billy's Bakery new cupcake flavors. Maple Pecan, Lemon Poppy, Chai, Dreamsicle, Nutella, Chocolate Mint, Almond Pistachio and Chocolate Cherry. Bring an empty stomach and a friend! For just $6 you can eat all the cupcakes you want. Drinks and non-cupcake items are separate.
If you know of any blogs/sites that cover literary fiction and nonfiction who'd be good to contact about Best Sex Writing 2012, pretty please let me know. The book is full of lots of political commentary, as it should be, but the more literary nonfiction also deserves attention. And I'll post the next call ASAP, but a heads up that I very much welcome submissions from literary magazines - see the pieces in the book from Guernica and The Rumpus for proof! Actually I welcome submissions from ALL over, especially the places you wouldn't expect to find "sex writing." Thank you! I'm really pulling out all the stops to make sure this book succeeds so anything you can do to support it is much appreciated. Obviously sales are awesome, but blogging about the book, asking your local library to stock it, passing it on to someone who might want to read it (or review it - you know I always give away freebies, just follow me on Twitter cause there are many more books coming out in 2012) would be wonderful. It'll mean the world to me to have this book find as passionate an audience as, well, me, as audacious and obnoxious and whatever other vile -ous words that sounds, it's what I want and hope and dream for this book that I poured so much of myself into.
I'm reading with other writers from The Nervous Breakdown next Friday at KGB Bar but am hoping to stop by the early end of the Constance and Eric photo exhibit, which runs from 6-9 at SHAG in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (108 Roebling, 2 blocks from the L train to Bedford!). Here's the official Facebok invite.They took this photo of me at SHAG, in fact (it's a great place for photo shoots):
and are awesome! Even if you can't make it on the 20th, stop in to SHAG for all sorts of amazing jewelry, pillows, lingerie, cards, sex toys and of course, my books. You can also order online from their shop.
At the same time, my friend K. was just in town from England. We met in 1998, via a Sleater Kinney mailing list, and have since visited each other a handful of times. I have a comfort with her that goes very deep, and we’ve seen each other through all kinds of relationships. There’s definitely something wonderful about friends who’ve seen you at your best and worst, who know how your past informs your present. I don’t want to sound like I’m throwing my old friends under the bus for younger, cooler versions. It’s not about age or “cool” per se, but perspective. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut of how I see myself, and that comes across with old friends.
Lately I’ve been so busy working that I’ve barely had time to see my closest friends, and sometimes I feel guilty about that, and like I shouldn’t be hanging out with new friends when I haven’t even hung out with my old ones. But I don’t think it’s a competition; true, there’s limited time and we may not get to see everyone we want to, but different friendships provide different sources of support. There are friends I mostly see movies with, friends I gossip with, friends I can tell my deepest, darkest secrets to without worrying about them judging me. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but together they form a network that, collectively, props me up.
I received a copy of "Best Sex Writing 2012" to review last week, and after a few days of procrastination decided to crack it open. I ended up reading it in two nights! "Best Sex Writing 2012" is a fascinating and diverse collection of essays all related to sex. The subjects, styles, and viewpoints are wildly different, and yet they come together into a cohesive unit.
I'll admit I enjoyed some of the stories more than others, b
ut that is the joy of this collection. There is something here for just about anybody. Well, anybody who is not afraid of sex! The stories I found a bit self-indulgent will undoubtedly be the stories that others may find inspiring.
For me, the highlights of this book were the ones that painted a picture of a life I have never known. I loved Marty Klein's article on circumcision; as a woman, there are some things I will just never understand, but after reading "Criminalizing Circumcision: Self-Hatred as Public Policy" I did find myself at least considering some things in a very different light. The story of Ketty Teanga described in "Latina Glitter" by Rachel Rabbit White also opened a window to an alien landscape, that of a trans performer who has seen a lot of cultural shift in her time.
Tracy Clark-Flory's "The Worship of Female Pleasure" inspired me to look within and maybe learn how to take things slowly... while "I Want You to Want Me" by Hugo Schwyzer made me determined to show the man in my life just how animal-sexy he is.
Tim Elhajj and Abby Tallmer manage to expose totally different sides of LGBT life in their stories "An Unfortunate Discharge Early in My Naval Career" and "Losing the Meatpacking District: A Queer History of Leather Culture," respectively. The first details a sailor's life way before DADT, while the second shows us the wild ride that was Manhattan's gay sex club scene.
I find it totally appropriate that it is editor Rachel Kramer Bussel's own contribution, "Penis Gagging, BDSM, and Rape Fantasy: The Truth About Kinky Sexting" that sums up the book for me. Her point is that one person's turn-off is another person's fantasy, and it's all ok, really. As I see it, some people like vanilla, some people like chocolate, and some people like rainbow sherbet with sprinkles and gummy bears. That's how "Best Sex Writing 2012" is... with all the flavors between its covers, there is something for everyone's tastes, and if you're willing to explore, you may find, like Chloe in Lidia Yuknavitch's "Love Grenade," you're licking something new... and loving it.
I put up a couple free erotica stories from my anthologies on Goodreads. If you like the stories, there are hundreds more stories in my books! Each of the stories I'm posting is from one of my Cleis Press books, and I'll be adding to those to round it out, in between writing new ones for various anthologies as well as my solo short story collection.
There was all sorts of slang like GUD and NE LAC in this week’s sex diary that I had to ask what it was. I totally thought they would be gay sex slang but actually they’re universal. Read the diary to find out what they are and if you’d like to write an anonymous sex diary for nymag.com email me at sexdiaries at nymag.com and tell me why you’d make a good diarist.
I'm a fan of the work of artist Tamara de Lempicka, so of course I'm interested in the new novel The Last Nude by Ellis Avery. Looking forward to reading it soon.
Official description (side note: I learn about one new thing in HTML each year, and last year it was how to do a block quote, hence this post's formatting):
Paris, 1927. In the heady years before the crash, financiers drape their mistresses in Chanel, while expatriates flock to the avant-garde bookshop Shakespeare and Company. One day in July, a young American named Rafaela Fano gets into the car of a coolly dazzling stranger, the Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka.
Struggling to halt a downward slide toward prostitution, Rafaela agrees to model for the artist, a dispossessed Saint Petersburg aristocrat with a murky past. The two become lovers, and Rafaela inspires Tamara's most iconic Jazz Age images, among them her most accomplished-and coveted-works of art. A season as the painter's muse teaches Rafaela some hard lessons: Tamara is a cocktail of raw hunger and glittering artifice. And all the while, their romantic idyll is threatened by history's darkening tide.
Inspired by real events in de Lempicka's history, The Last Nude is a tour de force of historical imagination. Ellis Avery gives the reader a tantalizing window into a lost Paris, an age already vanishing as the inexorable forces of history close in on two tangled lives. Spellbinding and provocative, this is a novel about genius and craft, love and desire, regret and, most of all, hope that can transcend time and circumstance.
An interview with Ellis Avery at the very, very cool site Sheepish Fashionista, if you're into fashion and beauty products and all sorts of interesting intersections between those and literature. To wit, Avery was asked "Who is the best-dressed character you’ve created? How did you come up with and dress them? What does the way you dress them say about them to you?" and she answered, in part:
At the beginning of the novel, which takes place in 1927 Paris, Tamara is the artist and Rafaela is the muse. Over the course of the book, however, Rafaela discovers that she’s an artist too, albeit in the trivialized and demoted art of fashion. Rafaela begins this novel, which is very much a story about coming into one’s own, in a dress that she made by copying a pattern from Chanel, but by the end she has created a new dress from scratch, one that works a zipper into its design: this is an idea Rafaela comes up with on her own, long before she ever encounters a dress with a zipper by Schiaparelli or anyone else. Rafaela’s initial, Chanel-inspired dress is a form-fitting little number made of dazzling teal-blue raw silk, while the zipper dress that ends the book is an A-line piece made of slate-colored gabardine with darker gray piping. Rafaela’s zipper dress is designed to draw as much attention to its own construction as it does to its wearer: this is a novel about learning to depend on one’s art rather than one’s body.
Q: You've said you were inspired by the paintings. How did you develop the story and the characters?
A: "I saw her work at the Royal Academy in London in 2004 and came away weak in the knees -- this is so gorgeous -- and the caption said that the young woman in the painting was the 'Beautiful Rafaela' from 1927, that she had met this girl on a walk in the Bois de Bologne and she became her model, and her lover. Their relationship resulted in six paintings, and it seems to have been a brief relationship. Then when I looked at her catalog, the very last painting she was working on when she died was indeed that copy of 'Beautiful Rafaela.' So 53 years later, this girl was still on her mind, which was thrilling to me.
"I got a book of her paintings and cut them out and spread them on the desk. All the paintings from 1925 to 1929, and looked at them for days. I read biographies of de Lempicka by her daughter, by others. I read a lot about her era. But a lot of the work was just looking at the paintings and at the people that she represented, and just trying to enter that world."
Donoghue: At what points did you find you had to change a fact in order to make a better fiction?
Avery: First, if Tamara’s apartment and the train station had been on the same side of the Seine, there would have been no need for Rafaela to cross the river on a crucial occasion toward the end of the book. For that reason, although the biographical Tamara--whom I got to know through the excellent work of Laura Claridge--lived in what was at the time the newish-money Sixteenth Arrondissement of Paris, my fictional Tamara lives in the old-money Seventh.
Second, when I finished my first novel, set in 1880s Japan, I promised myself that my next book would be about English speakers. Of course, next thing you know, I’m fired up to write about a Polish painter who grew up speaking French. Partly because the biographical Tamara never specified the biographical Rafaela’s nationality or origins, and largely for my own sake, to avoid writing another book full of translated dialogue, I have taken the liberty of imagining an English-speaking Rafaela.
The reviews are in and I figured I'd let you take their word for what's inside Best Sex Writing 2012 (click to read my introduction), aka the book of mine I'm most proud of and think is, ahem, the best. I know that's totally subject but I'm just super excited about this book and the readings we're planning - so far on tap are readings in Portland, Oregon and Seattle and San Francisco and NYC. Also stay tuned for more contributor videos (I'm working on those) and in non-Best Sex Writing news, I'll be in Milwaukee doing an erotic writing workshop February 9th.
And thanks to everyone who participated in the BOGO offer! Stay tuned for more special offers.
But what I wanted to share were these reviews, which I think get at the heart of what the book's all about:
Five Stars - Fascinating, Engaging, Thorough, January 6, 2012
This review is from: Best Sex Writing 2012: The State of Today's Sexual Culture (Paperback)
The 2012 edition of "Best Sex Writing" is one of the most thorough compilations of journalistic writing I have ever encountered. Rachel Kramer Bussel and Susie Bright have done an excellent job of selecting pieces that address the year's most newsworthy events, as well as issues that I knew nothing about until I read this collection. Pieces that I was surprised to find in this collection (and are well worth reading) in particular were: a discussion of a ballot initiative to ban circumcision in San Francisco; a thorough examination of the John Ensign sex scandal, and the involvement of current presidential candidate Rick Santorum therein; an article comparing and seeking out the correct definitions of `premature ejaculation'; a fascination explanation of conflicting age of consent and child pornography laws. The list goes on and on. Also included are a large number of personal essays, both humorous and profound. Among them are an open letter to butch lesbians from the point of view of a femme, a touching treatment of sex at 66 years old, and a user's manual for a particularly complicated penis.
This collection is essential reading for anyone interested in the current state of the American sexual landscape. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is worth reading cover to cover; every piece in this book has something to offer for the curious and open-minded.
Provacative, bold, and well-curated, January 5, 2012
By Victoria Bloom
This review is from: Best Sex Writing 2012: The State of Today's Sexual Culture (Paperback)
Erotic writer and anthology megaeditor Rachel Bussel and smart-ass sex activist Susie Bright have pulled together an intelligent, spirited, and thought-provoking collection of political and personal essays about sex in America today that makes you want to read in a private place. Not because you are embarrassed to read a sex book in public or because you're going to be aroused, but because you're going to want to talk back out loud to the strong-voiced authors of these no holds barred commentaries, either to yell "Hell, yeah" (for me, that was Camille Dodero's "Guys Who Like Fat Chicks"), argue back with the author (Marty Klein's "Criminalizing Circumcision"), cry a little (Joan Price's "Grief, Resilience, and my 66th Birthday Gift"), or just giggle outrageously (Susie Bright's "Why Lying About Monogamy Matters"). Tough topics like rape, sex work, queerness, STIs, sex and the military, and statutory rape get unapologetic coverage here, and though you won't agree with everything you read here, you'll certainly find that each and every essayist has been eloquent about saying their piece. Overall, an excellent collection, and worthy of the title "Best Sex Writing". I'll follow this series in the future!
Intelligent and Satisfying Writing about Sex (At Last!), January 4, 2012
By Donna G. Storey "writer and Japan scholar"
It seems every headline you see online or in the grocery store is a sexual come-on, promising the top ten secrets for superstud bedroom techniques or the inside scoop on the latest Hollywood nanny sex scandal. Invariably these articles fail to deliver anything but shallow clichés, leaving me to wonder why I wasted my time. Best Sex Writing 2012 is different. I could barely put the book down, and its power still lingers. The articles always made me think and often brought me to tears. Just as promised, the editors' wide variety of offerings--from humorous to poignant to fiery truth-telling--brilliantly reflect the complexity of sexuality today. And like all the best writing, these articles allowed me to empathize with people whose experiences are different from my own, yet also realize that these issues directly impact me. Joan Price's powerful memoir about the vitality of sex in our later years should be an inspiration to us all as we grow older. Hugo Schwyzer's unforgettable piece on the male desire to be wanted brought a new understanding of how both sexes are deprived of full personhood in our current sexual climate--and resulted in a very touching conversation with my husband. The fascinating variety of male desire, the dangers of shoddy journalism, the horrifying injustice around sexuality in our legal system, it's all here. I could go on and on with examples, but I'll conclude by saying I was very, very glad I read this book and would recommend it highly to anyone craving a thoughtful, provocative treatment of sexuality in our time.
sexy, powerful, hilarious & thought-provoking, January 3, 2012
By J. Kelley (Macon, Georgia)
I could not get enough of this book: exceptional writing, intimate conversations, and mind-expanding viewpoints on familiar controversial topics. A lot of sex scandals break all the time ... we're used to them by now. But these stories explain how the emotional hype and judgment over sex scandals keeps everyone from exploring sexuality safely and pleasurably. And in between serious stories about political cover-ups, careless and criminal language used in reporting, and criminalizing teen sexuality, there are stories that make you laugh, smile, feel sexy and dream about how great sex can be. Adrian Colesberry's piece is NOT to be missed. And "Love Grenade" by Lidia Yuknavitch was probably the hottest story I've read all year.
This anthology opens the door for more honest discussions around sexuality -- if we could talk more about the emotions, laws & the gray areas of sexuality, it wouldn't be so easy to judge & criminalize any part of sex that scares people.
Impressive collection of the year's best, December 31, 2011
By Robert T Bakie
Typically, I'm much more of reader of stories of sex (erotica anthologies) than stories about sex, but I've really enjoyed Best Sex Writing 2012 as evidenced by last night's speed read through it.
I guess I like to focus on the happy side of sex, without worrying about how someone's hang-ups somewhere are making someone's else's life miserable and so on. That's a pretty short-sighted view, I'll admit, and this book has plenty of content that doesn't fit that view at all. From the funny and honest "Adrian's Penis: Care and Handling by Adrian Colesberry" to Rachel Kramer Bussel's story on Sexting, it covers a lot of ground. Some stuff I'd caught as the year went on and some I'd missed out entirely.
Basically, it's a great book if you're any kind of sex geek, which, apparently, I am. :)
Eye-catching, informative, funny, entertaining, and sexy...best writing indeed, December 29, 2011
By Sam Chupp "sambearpoet"
This review is from: Best Sex Writing 2012: The State of Today's Sexual Culture (Paperback)
I tend to read collections such as this in a non-linear format, thumbing through the book until something catches my eye. Well, every piece featured in this book edited by Rachel Kramer Bussell and selected by Susie Bright has its own eye-catching hook. My empathy was aroused reading Amber Dawn's butch/femme memoir in "To All The Butches I Loved Between 1995 and 2005: An Open Letter about Selling Sex, Selling Out, and Soldiering On," realizing that I have heard similar regrets from vanilla, straight folk. The cold terror of a pre-Don't Ask, Don't Tell Navy was made clear in "An Unfortunate Discharge Early in my Naval Career" by Tim Elhajj - which just makes me even more glad for DADT's repeal. There are humorous pieces as well: Love Grenade by Lidia Yuknavitch made me laugh at its sheer honesty and ebuillience about young lesbian road trips, Adrian's Penis: Care and Handling by Adrian Colesberry was gentle and sweet and funny in a sympathetic manner. There are topical pieces, explications of complex subjects like elder sex and child pornography and writings of slices of life in the Latina Drag community and the New York Meat Packing District gay leather community.
I enjoyed reading the work of so many curated for my attention and I am now left wishing it were 2012 and I could start to read the best of 2013.
A sexy, cute and thoroughly engaging read!, December 29, 2011
By Patrick M. Whitehurst "Whitehurst"
This review is from: Best Sex Writing 2012: The State of Today's Sexual Culture (Paperback)
Rachel Kramer Bussel gauges hot blood with the accuracy of a thermometer. She's edited more sexy anthologies than almost anyone in the erotic literary scene. And she proves herself a true queen of the sexual word with her non-fiction effort - a smart collaboration with famed erotic author and "sex politician" Susie Bright. Bright chose the journalistic stories collected in the volume and penned a laugh out loud introduction that helps set the tone of the book. "Best Sex Writing 2012" counts as a marker in the world's sexual evolution, indicating the flavor and tempo of the planet's lustful ambitions at this particular point in history. Containing a number of non-fiction stories, some humorous, some sad, many sexy, the book ramps up society's sexual discourse to a new level, beginning with Amanda Marcotte's take on the SlutWalk and ending with Kevin Sampsell's hilarious "Pottymouth," the collection covers everything from transgender latinas, political sex scandals, religion and sex, dating with STDs and much more. I thought it would take me at least a week, with a rum and Coke in hand, to read the book. Instead it took only two nights. Lots of hot fun here.