Erotic Writers: Are You Activists?

Erotic Writers: Are You Activists?

Posted by: on Jun 22, 2017 | 2 Comments
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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?

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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.

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

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

Posted by: on 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!

Posted by: on 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

Posted by: on 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!

#TwitterNuts: Sweet Little Typos

#TwitterNuts: Sweet Little Typos

Posted by: on Oct 5, 2016 | No Comments

A new column in which I wax lyrical about Twitter and other social media.

As an editor and author, typos drive me nuts. That said, in some contexts they bug me far less. I see (and I fear, make) more typos on Twitter than anywhere else, and that’s usually because of the bigmouthed autocheck! (Word has big issues there too, right? Microsoft, Microsoft, “polyamory” is very much a word.) But the truth is, I sometimes find a typo adorable. Today, for instance, I found myself smiling because a profile said its owner had a sexy partner who they loved to do things too.

“Sweet,” I said to myself.

That’s right. Sweet!

Why did I find it so? Perhaps because of the romance of it all. Yes, I do think there’s a romance in putting yourself out there sexually and saying that you like it when your partner does whatever with you. For my own part, I’m actually quite erotically introverted about personal stuff on Twitter, but I enjoy seeing a more extroverted route and the language that goes with it. Yes, perhaps I think it’s sweet when you exchange “to” for “too” on your Twitter profile … at least, when I’m in the right mood. I mean, if you’re the tweep in question, I doubt I’ll be reading your e-book, but if you’re casually passing my notice on Twitter, perhaps I’ll think your sweet little typo says something about your enthusiasm and humanness. Maybe you’re so enticed by the partner about whom you’re tweeting that you want your “to” to go on too long. You might even write “toooooo” if autocheck would let you.

Why not keep those O’s coming, cutie?

Image: Esther Vargas via Creative Commons, with thanks.

Follow me on Twitter: @foxlana

What Would a Building Do if it Was Sexual? (Aflame, Post Six)

What Would a Building Do if it Was Sexual? (Aflame, Post Six)

Posted by: on May 19, 2016 | No Comments

Pic from the Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck – click the image to view on Amazon.

Sex can be hard to define if you look at it deeply. I first became aware of this thanks to Greta Christina’s wonderful post “Are We Having Sex Now or What?” in which Christina elegantly shows us that what is sex for one person might not be for the next. I have a theory that one reason sex seems so easy to shame in our society is because many of us have a twisted idea of what it is — and what it “should” be.

So what would a building do if it was sexual?

It’s an honest question and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. In Maddie Aflame!, my forthcoming erotic fantasy series, a group of polyamorous, queer British teenagers are swallowed by a mysterious mansion that turns out to be conscious and alive, and capable of creation. It transpires that the Mansion is being used to cruelly research and control queer folks in a society where queerness is illegal. But as the friends soon find out, the Mansion can be communicated with from within — more with feelings than words.

Read the rest of this post at Go Deeper Press

Why I Wear a Mustache During Sex #GirlBoner #BOAW16

Why I Wear a Mustache During Sex #GirlBoner #BOAW16

Posted by: on May 2, 2016 | 19 Comments

This post is part of the Beauty of a Woman Blogfest run by the delightful and talented August McGlaughlin. Check out the official blogfest page to read other posts and enter to win some fabulous prizes. Picture credit: “Watercolor beautiful girl. Vector illustration of woman beauty salon.”

Why do I wear a mustache during sex? Because I’m playing with gender. Because I’m being me. And because I’m also being Steve-O Bing.

When my partner Jacob came out as transgender last year, I didn’t realize how deeply it would affect my own identity — I was simply too focused on helping him live his truth. But my own gender identity started to shift, and it continues to do so. As our therapist so wisely told us, “Coming out as trans can queer the whole family.”

Cartoons: Dick the Small

Cartoons: Dick the Small

Posted by: on Apr 1, 2016 | No Comments

It’s great to acknowledge as a culture that different sizes and shapes of dicks can be exciting. This is the thought that inspired this little cartoon, which was written and illustrated by yours truly with the amazing help of amazing Jacob Louder. Enjoy!

Thrashing Sensually: Lana’s Anaïs Weekly (4)

Thrashing Sensually: Lana’s Anaïs Weekly (4)

Posted by: on Mar 23, 2016 | 2 Comments

“He churned, thrashing sensually as if he would make love once and forever, with his whole force. The candles burned away. Tristan and Isolde sand sadly. But Rupert and I twice were shaken by such tremors of desire and pleasure that I thought we would die, like people who touched a third rail in the subway tunnel.”Anaïs Nin on her first lovemaking with Rupert Pole, excerpted in A Cafe in Space (ed. Paul Herron) vol. 13 from the forthcoming Trapeze: The Unexpurgated Diary of Anaïs Nin 1947-1955

As a writer, I love it when sentences roll, gathering speed like an ocean’s white horses. Such flow and momentum are particularly important in my erotic work, where, whether the desire I communicate is thirstily romantic or burly, and bestial, I want nothing more than to feel on the page.

Smut Matters: How Erotica Saved My Life

Smut Matters: How Erotica Saved My Life

Posted by: on Mar 15, 2016 | No Comments

I’m an erotica author and publisher, but I wasn’t always this brazen. I was brought up in England in one of the country’s biggest religious cults. That’s why I was taught that sex was disgusting and that good women should only have it for their husband’s physical health. I learned that sex was painful for a good, honest woman, and that if you had sex before marriage, you’d be used and shunned.