How to Thrive as an Erotic Writing Activist: An Interview with Dorie Clark

How to Thrive as an Erotic Writing Activist: An Interview with Dorie Clark

Jul 27, 2017 | No Comments
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Art activism, courtesy of the amazing Banksy.

Erotic writing activists face a ton of challenges. Not only do we want to reach the audiences that matter most, but we need to earn enough to be able to write and take our activism to the next level. We do a great job of fighting society’s shame, but sometimes, or even often, our work is blocked or attacked. So how can we stand out in our activism, ensure that we reach the right readers, and get paid well for our work?

To help with these challenges and more, I’m delighted to interview bestselling author, consultant, and speaker, Dorie Clark.

A Gay Celebration of Whacky British Comedy, Sex Puns Included

A Gay Celebration of Whacky British Comedy, Sex Puns Included

Jul 24, 2017 | No Comments

Today, Horatio Slice, Guitar Slayer of the Universe by Oleander Plume launches at Go Deeper Press. Horatio Slice is hilarious fun — colorful, whacky, deliciously gay pornographic comedy in which the characters care deeply for one another, shag each other crazy, and transport us to outrageous worlds we’ve never seen before. The stakes are high, the laughs keep coming, the adventure is outrageous, the sex scenes are sizzling.

In celebration, I’ve decided to share a few video clips of old, British comedy shows that I grew up with — these also have gay characters or a queer fan base. All these shows now remind me of Horatio! The clips tend to include sex puns and references. It seems Horatio Slice has put me in a sex comedy mood! Thank you, Horatio. So, here we go….

Erotic Writers: Are You Activists?

Erotic Writers: Are You Activists?

Jun 22, 2017 | 2 Comments

This question has been coming up a great deal lately. Erotic writers say to me, “I love it that Go Deeper Press is an activist press. I wish I was more of an activist.” And I instantly think, “But you are, you are!” When I tell them this, however, they look surprised and say, “You think so?”

And I really, really do.

Let’s face it, those of us who are erotic artists—including erotic writers, performers, and visual artists—and are working for a more equitable, shame-free world, certainly are activists if we say we are. Sharing your erotic art in the face of society’s shame is gutsy and takes a ton of heart. Activists fight for a better world. And that’s what I see our community doing on a daily basis.

Of course, you don’t have to view yourself as an activist. Being an artist is a gift to the world regardless. But I’m writing this post for those who want to identify this way.

The question is: how do you know if you’re an activist? Sometimes, I wonder if the “depth” debate confuses things.

My erotic fantasy series for activists.

For example, I’m all for reclaiming the word “smut.” It’s a glorious word with deep joy behind it. But even now that it’s been reclaimed, I wonder whether some folks still view “smut” as being luxurious reveling rather than serious purpose. But we, as erotic artists, know it can be both. What’s more, there will always be those who say that books like Jane Eyre and Great Expectations are far more important art than erotica and porn. But given erotica’s potential for busting shame and promoting self-acceptance, I can’t agree. Whether your erotica is deep and literary or just tremendous fun doesn’t make it any more or less worthy of being called activism. (By the way, I’m a fan of Great Expectations! I recognize its activism too.)

My favorite example when discussing activism snobbery is to compare Shakespeare’s work with that of Joss Whedon. As Whedon seeks to tell stories (such as Buffy, Firefly, and more) that appeal to a popular audience regardless of their literacy level or educational privilege, so did Shakespeare. In fact, Shakespeare was often sneered at by his contemporaries because he saw fit to include servants, people of color, queers, and misfits in his dramas—powerful activism indeed. He even took the blank verse that was typical of esteemed playwrights back then, and added prose that the everyday viewer could access and find relevant. He really was the “pop lit” of his day. Likewise, Whedon had whole series chopped by introducing queer characters. He has shown us that even superheroes struggle in the face of society’s prejudices. He has fought as a feminist to reclaim female strength in adversity. Characters of color kick ass and help save the world in Buffy and Firefly, just as Shakespeare showed us the horrors of racism and the beauty of queer love. Many of us, myself included, credit Whedon’s work for helping keep us alive.

One way of crushing activism is to start comparing its worthiness. Whedon is an activist. Shakespeare was too.

By the way, pet peeve: So called “high art” like Madame Butterfly often remains unscrutinized because of its perceived spiritual/ethical purity. Yet Madame Butterfly is a notoriously racist opera.

Take the snobbery out and it’s easier to see the activism.

At Go Deeper, we are about to release two books by powerfully talented erotic writers. The first to be launched (on 7/11/17) is Roadhouse Blues by Malin James, and is as literary as it is explicit. (Interested? Read an interview or excerpt.) James names cock, cunt, and ass without any shame, and also raises deep questions about sex, love, class, abuse, and prejudice, and the power of authenticity. Her words are captivating, and filled to the brim with emotion and edge. Her characters, who live in the fictional blue collar town of Styx, strive secretly to live authentic sexual lives.

The second book we’re launching (on 7/24/17) is Oleander Plume‘s Horatio Slice: Guitar Slayer of the Universe, and it’s as glorious, whacky, and addictive as fiction gets. (Read an interview plus excerpts, if you like.) It’s also brilliant—so gleaming and impossibly clever that you won’t be able to even think of Trump or May when you’re rapidly turning its pages. Plume writes humor that makes me shake with laughter. Her world-building is delicious. And her story is simply stuffed with heart. It’s healing.

But to compare these two books, asking, “Which is deeper activism?” or “Which is more activist?” No no no. Some readers will prefer one. Some will prefer the other. Some will love both with equal joy. But both are activism, in my eyes. Quite apart from the genius of their craft, each of the above authors brings profound activism to their work, fighting for visibility, emotional healing, the recognition of love, the depths of community. Both the books are hot, hot, hot. And ultimately, I believe Plume and James share a mission, like many of we erotic writers do: To reach a society that needs, so profoundly, to shed its shame and be loving and authentic.

These authors comfort us, in the face of a desperate world.

Fellow erotic writers and artists, do you have similar aims of your own? And do you want to think of yourself as an “activist”?

If yes, I encourage you to accept that you are one.

I believe it. Do you?

__________________________________________________________

Passionate about erotica and activism? Check out this awesome article by Rachel Kramer Bussel in Rolling Stone. We at Go Deeper are delighted to be included, and I’m really proud of Jake who says some really vital things.

Trump Erotica – Go Deeper Press in Rolling Stone

Trump Erotica – Go Deeper Press in Rolling Stone

May 8, 2017 | No Comments

Jake and I are deeply grateful to Rachel Kramer Bussel, who generously included Go Deeper Press in this fantastic article about Trump erotica — erotica that’s anti-Trump. Also included in the piece are Alessia Brio, Editor in Chief of Coming Together, Debra Hyde, and talented others, not to mention an awesome quote from the one and only Susie Bright. Our Jake Louder is quoted as saying,

We knew we wanted to do something in response to the Trump administration’s imminent destruction of all things not white, cisgender, male and heterosexual…

Read the full article here. It’s inspiring — especially considering it was released on May 4th 2017, when so many of us sex-positives and liberals heard the terrible news about TrumpCare.

Anaïs Nin’s Trapeze Life: Paul Herron is Interviewed by Lana Fox

Anaïs Nin’s Trapeze Life: Paul Herron is Interviewed by Lana Fox

Apr 14, 2017 | No Comments

I was honored to interview Paul Herron, editor of Trapeze: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin, 1947–1955, which launches on May 15th.

You can read the interview in full at Go Deeper Press.

Lana Fox: Why is the unexpurgated diary of this time in Nin’s life called Trapeze?

Paul Herron: The diary begins in 1947, just after Anaïs Nin has met the young out-of-work actor and aspiring forest ranger Rupert Pole. Although Nin was in a 24-year-long marriage with the banker/engraver Hugo Guiler, she fell hard for Pole and accepted his astounding invitation to drive from New York to Los Angeles alone with him. At the time, Nin had been involved with many, many failed side relationships, vainly seeking the “One” who would answer her love fully, and she felt had met her match in Pole. But she did love her husband, in a fraternal way, and as he offered her love, care, comfort and security, she felt she could not divorce him. So, the first trip to California is the metaphorical first swing on a bicoastal trapeze, a term she herself uses several times in the diary. She lived the trapeze life for the rest of her life, doing her best to keep each man unaware of the other.

Lana Fox: I can only imagine how exciting it must be to have already read about Anaïs Nin’s “trapeze” life in the unexpurgated diary! What was it like to be the editor of Trapeze?

There is no question that there are so many treasures in the original diary, and many of them are completely unknown to the public. We hear about them second-hand in biographies and certain studies, but we don’t get to actually read what Nin herself wrote. It is an amazing privilege to edit her work, and I do it for one simple reason: it is valuable to other human beings. Of course, it is a massive undertaking—several thousand pages of mostly handwritten pages, some of which are out of order, all have to be transcribed. Nin’s handwriting is impeccable, but when one tries to decipher Rupert’s handwritten letters, or even Hugo’s sometimes, one needs to develop a system, almost like the one used to interpret hieroglyphics—this swiggle means this letter, that scratch means another. The biggest challenge is to find the story buried in this mountain of diary pages, and to devise a way to let Anaïs Nin tell it stunningly. This means a lot of detective work and, in the end, cutting and rearranging in a way that will thrill the reader. Despite the time and effort, it’s all worth it in the end, because it is a compelling diary, and, I feel, a very important addition to Nin’s overall canon.

[READ THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW HERE]

TMI with Alternative Fucks!

TMI with Alternative Fucks!

Mar 19, 2017 | No Comments

Okay, so Oleander Plume and Dario Dalla Lasta, both of whom feature in our ACLU-fundraising erotic anthology Alternative Fucks, are organizing a cool blog trot … So I’m going to answer their questions, but not necessarily in the order they asked them — after all, that would mean leaving Little Death until last. (And folks, you can have a little death anytime you like! Just think of all those oxytocins.)

What is right by your side while you are writing?

Whatever else is sitting on my rather messy desk, Little Death is always there. Little Death (aka Le Petit Mort) is not only the French for ‘orgasm’ but is also a small, stuffed toy that Jake bought me at CVS when I was feeling low. Little Death sits by my side with his axe — he is death, after all — and looks cute as all heck. His axe, I like to think, reminds me to “kill my darlings” and basically not take any shit from my hugely critical inner writing voice. Also, seeing as I’m in erotic writing and publishing, it is pretty cool to have an orgasm on my desk. And yes, you can take that any way you like, cutie.

You Can’t Force An Ocean Into A Bottle #BOAW2017 #girlboner #woman

You Can’t Force An Ocean Into A Bottle #BOAW2017 #girlboner #woman

Mar 6, 2017 | 17 Comments

This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest VI! To read more entries, and potentially win a fun prize, visit the fest page on August’s McLaughlin’s site between today and 11pm PST March 11th.

So, I’ve been having some difficulties with calling myself “woman”, recently. It’s not that I’m not a feminist or that I’m ashamed of being female. Far from it. Having been on a journey with my partner who came out as transgender almost two years ago now, I’m just finding it hard to know who I am in terms of gender. Jake’s transition was so courageous and deep that it made me view myself from a new angle.

That angle made me gasp.

In a recent post on a beautiful story called “On Some Maps, But Not on Others” by Annabeth Leong (in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2, ed. Rachel Kramer Bussel), I said that “gender often feels like a bottle that I was forced into, when really I’m part of an unending sea.”

Yes, in terms of gender, I’m an ocean. But I think my female identity is part of that ocean. Perhaps I am a woman … and someone else. As folks who read my #BOAW16 post know, I have worn a mustache during sex, not to mention a rather studly tie — oh, and lipstick, as it happens, at the same time. I also love wearing a slinky nightdress. I love to don a silicone cock. All these expressions feel like me.

So perhaps I am a woman in the middle of an ocean. I always did call myself a mermaid. And you can’t take a mermaid from her ocean, can you?

In Mirages, my hero Anaïs Nin, who was also a mermaid, writes, “I am not writing for the elite, but for the confused ones. I would like to have the Encyclopedia Britannica. I need it now. I want facts and concrete images, earth, science, body. Everything made flesh, everything a story, everything animated and dramatized.” Beautiful! I am one of the confused ones. And like so many of her fans, her children, I always did feel Anais Nin was writing for me.

Confused as I am, I can see everything is indeed a story, just like Anaïs Nin says. Even the parts of us that we believe are simply facts — leg, belly, cunt, cock — are part of a story, a bigger, wider story. We tell those stories when we say, “This is female,” or “This is not sexual,” or “This is only sexual,” or “This looks female,” or “This does not look female.”

There’s always magic when we remove the either/or.

In Mirages, Anaïs Nin also writes, “Stories, stories, the only enchantment possible, for when we begin to see our suffering as a story, we are saved.”

Yes, yes, yes! From confusion and lostness, I will make stories. (In Maddie Aflame! I write about a giant, swallowing mansion that is sentient and sexual, and has no gender. What a comfort that story has been!) And I’ll make stories of my gender too. I’ll say my gender is a butterfly, a flying saucer, a stream of laughing bubbles, a spreading oak. Sounds magical, doesn’t it? And sometimes I will wear a cock and call myself a woman. And sometimes I’ll wear nothing and choose a different word.

But always, always, I will call myself an ocean.

And I think that, as an ocean, I’m beautiful.

What is the story of your own gender? If, like an ocean, it had no constraints, what would it be? Feel free to tweet me your thoughts at @foxlana tagging #BOAW2017 — I’d love to hear them!

De-Boning the Gender Binary: “On Some Maps, But Not On Others” by Annabeth Leong

De-Boning the Gender Binary: “On Some Maps, But Not On Others” by Annabeth Leong

Feb 15, 2017 | One Comment

Quick note: This piece contains references to BDSM, including pain play, and feelings of uncertainty about gender identity, along with NSFW language.

When my partner transitioned, I was with him all the way, learning with him, listening to him, and supporting him as he faced the binaries that keep so many of us feeling small. In a way, I underwent my own transition with him. I still refer to myself as a cisgender woman, because I feel that’s as close as I can get to a truth that others will immediately understand, though actually the term “gender non-conforming” feels more comfortable for me.

Put it this way: gender often feels like a bottle that I was forced into, when really I’m part of an unending sea.

So where do I find erotica that speaks to my identity? Not always in the places I’d expect.

This week, I’ve been reading a copy of Best Women’s Erotica of the Year 2017, Volume 2, sent to me by editorial genius Rachel Kramer Bussel, and I had to pause my most enjoyable read to share one story that speaks to me in spades. In “On Some Maps, But Not On Others” by Annabeth Leong, the narrator’s opening line is, “My girlfriend likes to tie men up and torture their cocks.” She goes on to say that when they first started dating this wasn’t something she thought much about. It was just stuff her girlfriend “did with partners who weren’t me, using equipment I didn’t have.”

Immediately, I was grasped hard.

But I’m not going to ruin it for you. Let’s just say that the narrator decides to sit in on one of the cock-torture sessions, and in watching the tremendously hot pain play that emerges, finds a deep set of needs in herself that she can’t but explore — needs that relate to her gender and sexuality.

She buys herself a packer cock of her own. Her identity starts to shift.

“Gender still scares me,” explains the protagonist as she allows her own needs to transform her, “but now I think about it all the time. I don’t know what to call myself, don’t know what I am. The boundaries of my body shift and change. My cock is an island charted by sailors before Google Earth came along, appearing on some maps but not on others. My cunt is sometimes a depth, but sometimes a height.” She goes on to say, “Sometimes my cunt feels tough and masculine, ready to take any sort of abuse. Sometimes I put on my soft-pack and watch it tremble, so delicate in shape and color, and it feels like nothing could be girlier.”

It is rare that I feel so included in a story these days. (I will just mention Xan West’s extraordinarily beautiful and hot “The Tender Sweet Young Thing,” which makes me feel like I finally belong. I was honored to help publish it along with all the other amazing stories in West’s Show Yourself to Me at Go Deeper.) What I feel Leong does for us, her readers, is generous, kind, and powerfully erotic, especially when the protagonist wears her own cock. Genitals are not gendered in this story. Leong reminds us that boners and soft-ons are not of gender.

Gender is a construct. That construct does not own my flesh.

I am grateful to the talented author Annabeth Leong and the collection‘s thoughtful editor Rachel Kramer Bussel. Through Leong’s infinitely brave protagonist and her empowered, loving girlfriend, this author lets us come as we are. As I sit with the story, aroused and embraced, my identity comfortably shifts with the sands.

_________________________________________________________________________

 

Those who love queer erotica that shatters the gender binary might be interested to know that The Swallowing Mansion is free right now on B&N and is also available at Amazon. Plus at Go Deeper, books 1 and 2 are on special.

Queers save the world. And so does the Mansion that swallows them.

#TwitterNuts: Inauguration Lovemaking (aka The Snollygoster)

#TwitterNuts: Inauguration Lovemaking (aka The Snollygoster)

Jan 19, 2017 | No Comments

I once slept with a guy who said he didn’t like the term “lovemaking.” I told him I rarely used it, but was glad the term exists. “It has a poetry of its own,” I mused.

“I prefer fucked,” he said.

To take that line and screw with it a little, where the leader of the land is concerned, I never prefer fucked. That said, thank God for Twitter. Twitter’s where I go to say hi to people, to draw warmth from our community, to express, share, feel delight, hold hands with the sex-positive world. Twitter’s where I go for lovemaking. The sort that takes place with friends in 140 characters or less.

Or with myself in 280 characters by, you know, self-replying.

Anyway, you can imagine why, when the ever-perceptive branding expert Dorie Clark, author of the amazing Stand Out and Reinventing You, made the following 2017 prediction at BrandDrivenDigital.com, I lost my mind a little:

“Twitter will die, and Donald Trump will be the only person still left who is using it.”

Oh hell.

That said, if I have to tweet Trump myself to make sure there are at least two of us using Twitter, I guess I’ll be opening an Instagram account instead.

Now, I purposefully never seek out Trump’s Twitter feed. As a queer immigrant married to a trans man, I feel afraid of him. I know it’s not an ideal emotion, but it’s where I’m at right now. I watch the headlines from behind a cushion. Rather than say the word “Trump” I’m tempted to do a Pre-Potter Hogwarts and refer to him only as the Snollygoster. 

Oh damn. The Snollygoster is here.

But back to the whole Twitter thing, I’m tempted to get offended that Trump even knows about Twitter. I want Twitter to be safer than that. I want it to be for us only.

Big, old sentimental me.

Anyhoo.

As the inauguration of President Trump, aka the Snollygoster, bursts in upon us, I’m tempted to say that what we need is lovemaking. Not only the kind that takes place in the sack, but the kind that acts like a big, warm bath. So I’ve been looking to you folks on Twitter for that sort of lovemaking. Let’s face it, there’s plenty. Starting with greats from Oleander Plume‘s feed:

— Hend Amry (@LibyaLiberty) January 19, 2017

This, via Chrissi Sepe:

Beauty, as always, from August McGlaughlin:

Beauty and tremendous sadness, via Ella Dawson:

This from Dario Dalla Lasta:

Also, there’s knitting. And Alison Tyler.

Lastly, because there is seriousness here too, I want you all to know that Twitter really is still here. Our Twitter. Your Twitter. The Twitter we make. And just because there’s a Snollygoster in power doesn’t mean the human heart won’t win.

I’ll end with a tweet from Oleander Plume. Yes, another from her feed. Which really says why you should go and follow her.

 

For political rebellion in erotica, check out Maddie Aflame!

On that note, I send love to you all. I’m so grateful for you.

In fact, you know what? Let’s have an inourguration instead.

–Lana Fox

Hey! Check out my social media services, why don’t you? And follow me on Twitter:

My Crotch, His Crotch, And While We’re At It, Trump

My Crotch, His Crotch, And While We’re At It, Trump

Dec 15, 2016 | No Comments

First, there was Trump.

Then I went to the doctor’s.

Since I’m a new patient, I decided to tell my PCP that my partner is transgender and I identify as queer. She smiled warmly and said, “Is he biologically female?” Wow. I was stumped. I wanted to ask, What’s that got to do with it? But instead, I explained where Jake was and wasn’t in terms of testosterone, body type, and so forth, without referring to what was going on inside his pants.

I mean, why did she need to know that?

“Right,” she said, making a few mental leaps. “So in terms of a pap smear, you’re not a high risk.”

Here, it turned out, after further chit-chat, she was assuming that what we do in the bedroom doesn’t involve a six inch cock. Which, given the range of accessories on the market, not to mention the fact that I’ve carefully avoided discussing my partner’s genitals, is a big guess indeed.

She’s a nice woman, my new doctor. Really. She wasn’t hard to come out to. She also dealt sensitively with me when I told her I was an abuse survivor. But like many folks I’ve met, say the word “trans” and she chooses to focus on the physical. I’d be more understanding if she was Jake’s doctor. It wouldn’t be a sensitive way of broaching the topic, but I’d get it — she’s focused on biological stuff. That’s a huge part of her job.

But hell, you might as well ask whether my partner has a pierced foreskin. Or a butt tattoo of a naked angel. Or, you know, wood.

Of course, a lot of the world is obsessed with what trans folks have in their pants. Which means they’re obsessed with what all of us have in our pants. When they look at me, they think, “She has a pussy.” And even though they might actually be wrong, that makes them feel safe. The fact that one in 1500-2000 kids are born intersex seems to evade them, as does the notion that I might be trans, and, more to the point, that humans invented gender — it’s a social construct. We built it from scratch. And it’s different to biological sex. That’s why our dog, Lilly, has a biological sex, but doesn’t know which restroom to use, can’t apply lipstick, and would eat any skirt you handed her.

It also explains why she doesn’t care when she drops her food all over the floor.

But I digress.

Let me share what we’re watching on TV, right now. Suspects is a very gripping British TV drama. But when Detective Inspector Martha Jones and her team started referring to a guy who’d gone missing as being “a pre-op transsexual” because he appeared to be taking testosterone, it became decidedly less gripping. (Unless you think of ‘gripping’ as being characterized by the gnashing teeth of an angry werewolf.) “Did you know that your daughter is a pre-op transsexual who is taking testosterone?” is a terrible thing to say, Martha Jones and team. Check out your language, for starters. Quite frankly, it’s all very triggering stuff. Advice to TV detectives and their creators:

  1. Get your gender markers right. If they’re taking T, they’re less likely to be going by “she” pronouns. Have the decency to use “they” before you make any more assumptions.
  2. “Transgender” and “transsexual” mean different things. Check it out, screenwriters.
  3. Once you’ve discovered he is actually a transgender man, use his male name, goddammit. The name he used before now really isn’t relevant and is probably highly triggering for him.
  4. Don’t assume that when Mum finds out her son is transgender, it will be “a bombshell.”
  5. Remember, directors and screenwriters — I can’t stress this enough — that your audience likely comprises of both cisgender and transgender folks who all deserve respect.
  6. Could we please have a crime situation where transgender characters are involved in an investigation but don’t actually kick, maim, or murder anyone? That would be really nice, especially in a society that is so determined to be judgmental towards trans folks — one where, I might add, trans people are being attacked on a daily basis rather than doing the attacking.
  7. It’s okay to make mistakes. I’m sure I make ’em myself all the time. But when you make twenty of them in the same TV show, enough is enough. Research, research, research!

Now, rant done, this brings me back to the Trump thing. I mean, let’s face it, he got in. My spouse is trans and relies on receiving a vial of testosterone each month in order to survive. (Yes, it is a matter of survival. You’ve seen how we are about gender — we’ve made it a life and death issue.) Will someone try to take that away? That is my big fear. My God.

The Trump thing also scares me because I am an immigrant. Fortunately for me, I’m a privileged Brit with white skin and a certain kind of accent. I’m one of the lucky ones. My heart goes out to those less fortunate than me. But I’m still scared. For myself. For my partner. For all of us.

Please God, keep my family together.

Please God, let my partner be safe.

You know what I expected my doctor to say when I told her my partner started transitioning over a year ago? I thought she’d say, “How’s it going? Is he doing all right? Are you doing all right? Do you both feel safe right now? Have you both got support? Have you been okay since the election?”

Instead, she essentially asked about his crotch.

Thank you, gender. This is where we are.

–Lana Fox

Pic courtesy of Miss Fit Academy, with thanks.