Friday, 17 October 2014

THE BRANDING by Oatmeal Girl





I wrote this for the philosopher at his command. There were in fact supposed to be two stories, one about branding and one about a tattoo. In my mind, the tattoo story would have been a sweet one. It never got written. My dark fantasies about branding seized my mind and possessed it until the following story was written. Or perhaps "wrote itself" would be a more accurate description. It was so dark that I couldn't shake it for days afterwards, and the philosopher was, I think, disturbed by what had crawled out of the mud of my soul. He didn't want me to share it. This was for him alone. But he doesn't own me anymore. He sent me away. And I took my stories with me. This seems a good time to reveal what festers below.



You approach the cage where she cowers hopefully. Wordlessly, you unlock the door, reach in, and haul her out by her hair. She scrambles after you, tears springing to her eyes from the pain. There is always pain. But she doesn’t complain. This is her lot. And this is her joy. This is her safety.

“Get dressed, slave. Today you will be branded.”

There is in fact no need for words. No requirement for explanation. But you play her emotions like a freshly-tuned harp. You like the fear that springs to her eyes.

You push her towards the bed, where you have laid out the day’s clothes. A tight pink t-shirt, stretchy and clingy. Tight clingy jeans with a thick hard seam that will cut into her cunt as she walks without the protection of panties. Sandals. Once she has clothed her nakedness (damn those public indecency laws), you replace her cold metal choke chain with the black leather band embossed with Celtic knots. Hooking a leash to the collar’s O-ring, you wrap the chain around your fist and with close control almost drag her out of the house and towards the car. You know such brutality is unnecessary. Just addressing her as “slave” sends her so deeply into subspace that she would do anything. But there is something dark in each of you that needs to be nourished, and you have both become addicted to the intensity.

Unquestioningly, she assumes her place in the driver’s seat. There is an odd irony to the fact that you don’t drive, but the power is always yours as she guides the machine.

For safety’s sake, you address her as “kitten” when you give her the directions. Her consciousness is too far depressed when you call her “slave” for her to be trusted behind the wheel.

You arrive at a featureless warehouse. One of many. Again, you use more force than necessary to remove her from the car and push her towards the door. You don’t need to knock. They are expecting you.

As the door is opened, a scream of such terror and pain issues forth that you almost regret the decision to come. But you harden your heart, and your cock hardens, too. You know it is time. This is the final test.

Scream aside, you are greeted with a business-like cordiality due any customer. At the reception desk, your reservation is confirmed and your credit card taken. You have elected to perform the procedure yourself. You are given a sheet of instructions, which are reviewed as she trembles by your side. You don’t look at her. You just sense her trembling. Again, a small part of you tries to cry out its doubts, but you quickly gag it. As you will gag her.

You are ushered into a medium-size room. Something about the rough wood lining the walls gives it the atmosphere of a stable stall. It is unadorned save for the assortment of implements hanging from wrought iron hooks. You can tell that she has caught sight of the display by the way she quickly lowers her head and drops her eyes. She had returned to subspace as soon as you removed her from the car, you had sensed it immediately, and now the potential for torture is sending her even further. Good. When she is that far away, she is protected from the worst of the pain. You like to hurt her. She wants you to hurt her. But there is a line you never want to cross. The damage to her soul could be worse than to her flesh. You’re just not sure where that line is.

In the middle of the room stands something between a sawhorse and a massage table. The top is padded; the legs are slightly splayed, with O-rings at the base of each one. A rectangular space is cut out of the top towards one end.

“Strip, slave.”

She obeys with despatch. Wearing so little, she is done in seconds. You propel her towards the table and with an extra little shove push her face down. She lies still. You know that she would hold position for whatever you chose to do, and the absoluteness of her submission thrills you. But it is imperative that she remain perfectly still for what is to come, and there is something in the act itself that makes you want to see her bound in place.

From your messenger bag you take a set of four shackles. No soft leather bands today. You snap the shackles around her wrists and ankles, run short chains between the rings on the metal bands and those on the table legs, and with a sharp snap secure each limb with a lock. The locks are another excess, another symbolic demonstration of her helplessness. You are getting off on all the symbolism. Your mind is cold. Your cock is hard. Your resolve is firm.

Her breasts are hanging down through the opening in the tabletop. Sliding under the table, you adjust her tits so they are perfectly placed. You twist each nipple, pleased to find them already erect. Fear drives her arousal. In your hand you hold a set of Japanese clover clamps. Dispassionately, as if connecting jumper cables, you attach one end to each nipple, then give a sharp tug on the chain to drive the clamps deeper into the tender flesh. She gasps, but does not cry out.

You aren’t done. You want to impress on her how owned she is, how helpless, how subject to torture and invasion. Your casual claiming of her every hole will inspire the sense of humiliation which is yet another trigger for her submission.

The bag yields a butt plug, a dildo, a ball gag, and a blindfold. Silent all this time, you now accompany your actions with the words that you know will destroy whatever is left of her spirit and dignity.

“Look at you, slave. Your cunt is dripping. What a pain slut you are. Well, there will be plenty of pain for you soon enough. The only lube this butt plug will get is what it can scoop out of your slut-hole.”

You fuck her cunt roughly with the butt plug, then spread her ass checks and drive it into her anus. A few strokes with the dildo are followed by dire warnings of what will happen if she lets it drop.

You walk around to the front of the table and yank her head up by the hair.

“I love to hear you scream with pain, slave. I love to hear you scream. But today I will gag you, slave. You hate to be gagged. And so I will gag you. I will gag you so there will be no doubts. I will gag you, slave, because you are mine.”

And so you do.

There’s only one thing left. One thing left to drive her deeper inside herself until she completely floats away. And so you blindfold her.

It’s almost time. You walk back to the foot of the table and contemplate her ass. At first, you thought you’d brand her right cheek, at the fleshiest part, but then thought better of it. You want it somewhere that will be safe from your hand and your belt and the cane. So you choose a spot on the upper thigh, where it is still padded but unlikely to be struck. You eye your canvas, fixing the image in your mind before you change it forever. Then you walk to the wall and press a buzzer next to the door.

A man appears and hands you a rod of iron. It is the brand. If you strike within the next minute, it will be the scientifically determined temperature to inflict enough damage to leave a perfect impression without risking a trip to the emergency room and the dangers of the questions that would raise.

The brand was designed to your specifications. Now seen in reverse, the blunt simplicity of its form mirrors the simple brutality of the way you treat your slave. Two plain letters. One vertical line serving them both. This is your hallmark. She is your creation. But it is not purity that will be guaranteed by this stamp. Your hallmark is a sign of the depth of debauchery to which you both have sunk. A purity of sorts, perhaps, for nothing mars the strength of the bonds which, you must admit, enslave you as much as they do her.

But no time for introspection. You must, in truth, strike while the iron is hot. Resisting the temptation to soothe her hair and whisper assurances, you take your position behind her, raise the iron rod, take a breath, and press the glowing tip down into her soft flesh.

Your slave’s skin sizzles, a steak on the grill.

A muffled cry of torment issues from behind the gag as her body jerks slightly despite the tight bondage. You count off the recommended number of seconds as the odor of burning meat rises off the table. You choke back a wave of nausea.

In seconds it is done. The brand is removed. You stand there with the implement in your hand, swollen with power. Then tossing the iron to the ground, you stride around to your slave’s head. Wordlessly, you tear off the blindfold. Wordlessly, you unbuckle the gag. Wordlessly, you unzip your pants, and with cock in one hand and her hair in the other, plunge your heated erection down her throat.

You are beyond holding back. The rape is short and savage. It is one more act of claiming.

She is yours.

You hold her head to your crotch as you subside, your fingers still entwined in her hair. And as the fever passes, your grasp eases into caresses. Gently, you disengage her jaws from your wet, soft cock. Keeping one hand on her body at all time, you reach under the table and remove one nipple clamp and then the other, massaging each screaming nub as it is released. Continuing to the back, still in constant contact, you slide out first the butt plug and then the dildo, smiling with wry reassurance at the juices that drip from her cunt. Finally, you unlock the shackles from the table and remove them from her limbs.

She has started to shake. With sobs and with shock. You gather her in your arms and whisper words of love and bemusement.

“What a pain slut you are, slave.
What a cock whore.
What an obedient little cunt.

I own you, slave.
I own you.
Your body bears my initials.
Your flesh bears my brand.
There is no escape.


You are my kitten.
You are my slave.
You are my selkie.

You are whatever I want you to be.

You are mine.”





Oatmeal Girl can be found at her blog Submission and Metaphor; here.

Oatmeal Girl is on TWITTER @oatmeal_girl

Friday, 10 October 2014

THE TIES THAT BIND; Vanessa Duries

She was young. She was beautiful. And she was a slave. Not just any slave; a willing sex slave.




Vanessa Duriès, also known as Katia Lamara (1972 - December 13, 1993) wrote of her experiences as a slave in the French BDSM novel “Le lien.” Translated into English as “The Ties that Bind.”

She created quite a stir in France at the time of the release of the novel, due to her youth and beauty, and appeared on national television, in particular in the show of Bernard Pivot. She also appeared in a pictorial and an interview of the May 1993 issue of the French edition of Penthouse magazine.


Vanessa died in a car crash on December 13, 1993 in the South of France at age 21. Because of her early death, she has achieved a cult status for some BDSM communities. In 2007, five chapters of her second novel L'Étudiante, left unfinished due to her death, were published in France.

Here is a review of her book, from Amazon, UK

“After enduring years of corporal punishment by her father, a young and very much beautiful Vanessa realizes that `Not having the nature of an Amazon, not knowing how to oppose violence with cruelty, I learnt to dominate those who used me by making the offering of my submission both mystical and ambiguous' ...... and thus is born a female slave into the somewhat secretive world of S&M in France in the 1990's.



Right from the first chapter, `The Revelation' , the author introduces us to Pierre, her much `loved' master whom she meets at the age of twenty. In the book, without delving into any of the details of their introduction we find a young Vanessa, although apprehensive about her secret feelings, completely accept and resign herself to her `slave' state of mind and body when she visits Pierre at his countryside mansion. Although Pierre is her master, the author maintains an absolute dedication to her feelings, emotions, thrills and fears, as she is introduced and educated into the true and dedicated sadomasochistic lifestyle of a slave master relationship.


This is, in effect, the mastery of this wonderful young author and the point at which other S&M books totally fall apart since it's pretty well impossible for either the master or the slave to completely comprehend and, honestly write about, the erotic mindset of the other. With the precision of a whip Vanessa intricately describes her slave education in the hands of not only her master but also, of course, a small and very much secretive group of other masters and slaves, both male and female.


Vanessa unabashedly describes her relationship with an awe that she is living the life of total sexual and physical abandon with her much loved master. In her own words, `Pierre is an organizer beyond compare. Since sharing his life, we schedule usually quite eventful weekends throughout the year. When we return, on Sunday evenings, I often find myself in a state close to exhaustion. Pierre is no less tired than me. The role of the master is exhausting, because, while the slave only submits, the master must decide, organize, prepare and take action, all the while watching over the physical and psychic state of the slave that he has decided to honour through tests and humiliation.'

One very sad note, unfortunately, Vanessa Duriès died in a traffic accident in 1993 about seven months after the publishing of this masterwork, truly a loss from a very much talented writer.

Finally, the book has an introduction by Marie Isabel Pita one of today's hottest writers of contemporary erotica, and an afterword by Maxim Jakubowski where he briefly describes the discovery of the lost French edition of this book and his investigation into the last years of life of the author.

Here is Vanessa’s book; The Ties That Bind at Amazon US, And at Amazon UK

Friday, 3 October 2014

PANIC SNAP by Laura Reese



I wasn’t aware that one of my favourite writers in the Erotica genre, Laura Reese, had a new book out. I found out, more or less, by accident. I’d logged into Amazon to check out the publication date of Laura’s Erotic thriller, “Topping from Below,”(1995) and I stumbled across her latest novel; “Panic Snap.”


So, not only was I pleasantly surprised and ordered the book immediately, but I was delighted to discover that Topping From Below is back in print! Why it ever went out of print I’ll never understand; I can only surmise that a lot of people, were doing as I had, and ordered their hard copy of the book, still from Amazon, but via the independent sellers. (And, that btw is a cool way to negotiate at Amazon. The books are often next to nothing -- all you pay is for mailing and the books, unless they say otherwise, are near perfect.) But I digress, I’m supposing that the publishers realised that the book was selling and ordered a reprint. Whatever happened, Laura Reese has now gained the status of a “cult following” and her book has become a “cause celebre” of Erotica.


Topping from Below has a lurid product description; “An explosive, erotic thriller about one woman’s voyage into the heart of evil.” It’s a bold statement, but I guess it works and Laura takes up the theme in Panic Snap.

So what is this “heart of evil?”

The book opens in a court room. There is a trial, a woman is accused of murder and her guilt is assumed, but not yet announced.
While the woman awaits the jury’s verdict, we hear her story.

Fifteen years ago, the woman was found beaten, mutilated beyond recognition and close to death. Slowly, she recovers, helped by ground breaking surgical procedures and intense physical therapy.

The body can, and has recovered, whereas the mind has a mind of its own. And the traumatic events of that morning so long ago, have erased her memory. She does not know who she is; she has no memory of the attack, or her attacker. She has no memory of her childhood or her parents.

She takes the name of Carly Tyler. But who is she really?

Her broken face is healed but she does not recognise herself. The surgeons have done their best, but it is unlikely that anyone who knew her before will know her now.

A just by chance feature in a magazine precipitates a compulsion; a resonance. A photograph of a powerful man suggests a link to her past. The name of his vineyard is in Napa Valley wine country, Byblos; that is where she must go.

A woman’s search for her identity drives the novel – hand in hand with sexual obsession.

Those of you who have read Laura’s previous book will guess that they are in for some explicit bdsm. Those of you who haven’t read Topping From Below – well Panic Snap is not for the faint hearted. Dominance and submission; a Dominant who demands total obedience, even to the point of exerting control over bodily functions. The Bestiality that featured so strongly in Topping From Below, may be absent, but Laura Reese has no fear of breaking through boundaries, shattering Taboos. She uses the character of Carly to demonstrate the psychological dimension of the true submissive. Like the character, of Nora in Topping, Carly bears no shame, no guilt at the depravities her Dominant inflicts upon her; rather she embraces them with mere curiosity as to how far he will push her, and how far down the road she will go.


Laura Reese is a writer with an instinct for precision. Her characterisation is superb; her delineation of scenery is meticulous. She could almost be writing staging instructions for a theatrical adaptation. She writes at a steady, even pace from the description of a room, a vista, food that Carly has prepared for dinner, to the flowers in the magical garden growing alongside herbs and vegetables.
All is coloured to add to an atmosphere, sometimes of tranquility, sometimes evoking fear.

But Panic Snap is an erotic novel – so let’s get on with the sex. Throughout the book the pace never changes; Laura Reese will devote pages to a particular sex act, yet she is never crude. If you are expecting the immediacy of Pornography, you won’t get it – yet in a bizarre twist, the sensations, the images and the emotions here lend themselves so easily to Porn.


So let’s take a look at the Rimming scene --surely, if ever a fetish screamed out for a reader’s arousal, this is it. Check it out – is it Pornographic? Is it erotic?


“I started to reproach her, but then felt her tongue once more on my body, sliding over my buttocks. She kissed every space of flesh, made my skin ripple with anticipation, then spread my buttocks and ran her tongue down the crack in the middle, slowly, and, just as slowly, came back up again. I let out my breath, a lust-felt sigh. Once more her tongue made the descent down the divide, as slow as a slimy snail, lingering, lingering, taking her time, until she reached my asshole – Satan’s hole, she whimsically called it, the dark, winking eye of evil. This time she didn’t pass it over, but lapped at it as if she were an animal, licking it over and over, like a dog tonguing a wound. She caressed my testicles with one hand, the other still spreading my buttocks, then left my balls to reach down and pull on my penis, her tongue still lapping. Her hand slid smoothly on my cock – she must’ve used spit to moisten it – as she tongued my asshole.
“I murmured my approval, then settled down on my elbows and let her continue. She circled the hole with her tongue, wetting it, massaging it, the most hidden part of my body – ‘it’s the brown pit of everything forbidden,’ she once said with a smile – then she pushed her tongue inside as if it were a worm, wiggling its way home.”


And at the conclusion of the Rimming chapter;

“I feel the desire in him, the slight tremble of his flesh, and this makes me work harder, sliding my tongue in farther, feeding the grasping, sloe-eyed hole, and it comes to me then, this resonance of something long forgotten: a renascent passion to please. My response is visceral and unbidden, too complicated for words. I lick and suck him, shove my tongue in his bowels, a vortex pulling me in, while my mind spins. I feel transported to someplace dark and crepuscular, to a feral world where ancient passions hold sway. I keep my tongue inside him, moving, tasting, pushing for lower depths. I am an adjunct in this sex, a mere appurtenance to another, and even as I tongue him deeper, willingly now, needing more of him, even as I do this a distant tocsin rumbles in my brain, sounding the perils. I’m on precarious ground here, traversing the slippery scarps of James’ scree-ridden soul.”


Writers and readers of the Erotica genre talk a lot about ‘the final Taboo,’ well, I do anyway. What Carly is doing is fascinating to her and to us, the reader. She is going against everything we’ve ever been taught, going right back to when we were babies – ‘it’s a dirty place, no, no, do not touch it – wash your hands, flush away all signs of it…’ And where will she go from here? Full blown Coprophilia? Probably, you can sense her carnal need in the paragraph above. Laura Reese does not prevaricate about what is going on here – there’s no innuendo – no clever metaphor to dilute and sanitise. Carly is fucking James’ anus with her tongue, higher and higher up she goes. If his bowel chooses that moment to empty – well, so be it…


From Laura Reese’s keyboard we learn that sexual pleasure, even, perhaps especially, Taboo sexual pleasure, has integrity in both giving and receiving when it comes from the heart. Porn does not talk about feelings – the description of this fetish that could easily draw on the dirt and grime of Porn, becomes a tantalizing tale, worthy of Scheherazade herself. When Carly learns what her sexual partner really wants of her, there is rhythm and pace – a breathless, lyrical placing of words. There is real love in these pages. It’s there, in the subtext. And the reader is a Voyeur, we are absolutely present in this Rimming scene, we are there, watching, as her tongue slides and intrudes.
I do not understand why Panic Snap has provoked so many negative reviews on Amazon, especially Amazon U.S. The main complaint runs along the lines of – ‘Laura Reese has not moved on from her theme of charismatic, sexually controlling men.’ In other words, she is telling the same tale – the tale that she told in her previous book. I don’t think that she is repeating herself at all – certainly, Panic Snap features Sadomasochism at its most extreme at its centre, as does Topping From Below. Both books share a dynamic Dominant with a bizarre sexual magnetism and in both books no one does anything they don’t want to do.


Writers return to the same themes over and over again. Only when they have written it out – only when they have dealt with it, will they leave it alone. Laura Reese has risen to a mighty challenge in Panic Snap – and who knows why she chose the theme of Sadomasochism? Might as well ask why did I choose to read it? And you will probably read it too – why? Because it’s forbidden? Because it tantalizes? Maybe that is why Laura Reese has delved into it – or maybe she just wanted to see if she could, once again, write the Taboo – the forbidden.

But as I say, who knows, and does it really have to matter?

Imagine what those same complaining readers would have said if Laura Reese’s follow up to Topping From Below had been just a plain old murder mystery – with no sex? They would have been furious – that would have been a good reason for a negative review.



If you are reading this on review on Amazon – it will be censored to accommodate Amazon’s hypocritical bullshit. For the full review go to my blog;

In a recent interview Laura Reese said that her next book will not feature Sadomasochism.
Panic Snap is available at all Amazon outlets.

Here it is at Amazon US And at Amazon UK

Friday, 26 September 2014

FIRST TANGO IN PARIS: MS. EMMA J. STYLES




Twitter is transformed into a gallery from where Ms Emma J. Styles exhibits her collection of photographs. Erotic photos of beautiful women, alluring, luring the viewer in, enticing the viewer with promises of fantasies to be fulfilled in every delicate detail.




I asked Emma if I could run a blog post about her collection of erotica and I was delighted when she gave her permission.




But I soon discovered that there is more to this tweeter than photographs. Ms Emma J. Styles is also a bestselling writer. I’m going to let Emma speak for herself. She’s also generously giving you an extract from her book.




My name is Emma Styles. I am a English married mother of two. I currently live between Kew, West London and Southern Spain. I have just completed my first book “First Tango In Paris”, which is a true-life account of my sexual experiences and adventures since stumbling into the very elegant but incredibly decadent and hedonistic Parisian swinging scene. The book documents intimately and often graphically many of the more salacious and debauched encounters over a ten-year period, whilst also portraying how I juggled the more predictable side of family/working life with my quest for even greater sexual escapades.




From that very first eye opening evening I just knew Paris was going to be an inspirational turning point in my life. Until that moment I was a young stay at home Mum to two living a very suburban life in West London, coping with all the normal day to day stresses and strains of running a home and raising a small family. Of course this proved exciting and fulfilling in itself, however, that initial weekend opened my eyes to reveal something so different and so sexually gratifying, that after several late evening deliberations over a glass of wine with my husband, we both agreed entirely that it was something that we both wanted to explore further. I found that having my husband’s full approval, coupled with his desire to give me free rein to indulge and to fulfill even my wildest fantasies was exceptionally liberating and empowering.



After a period of throwing ourselves, or more to the point throwing myself head first in to the elegant yet completely riotous sexual freedom that Paris, it’s clubs and people had to offer, whether indulging as a couple or flying solo as a single woman, I began to structure both the family side of things with my new found hunger for wild, and on many occasions anonymous erotic encounters. I have discovered almost endless opportunities to turn any situation into a full blown sexual adventure, from a brief and teasing flash in a bar to a willing participant amongst a group of men in the afternoon clubs of Paris, which caters to the physical needs of a certain kind of confident and self-assured woman.




I very quickly became aware that the French in particular have a completely different outlook to most other cultures in the way they behave and express themselves sexually. In the vast majority of French society circles and in the many thriving chic and sophisticated Parisian “Clubs Privées” being a liberated woman who enthusiastically pursued and achieved her sexual desires is regarded with great respect and the utmost admiration.




Both my husband and myself find that the wide and diverse range of people who indulge in this hedonistic style of sexual gratification are some of the most interesting and intellectually inspiring people we’ve encountered. In fact many of our close friends followed in our footsteps and all say what a positive and emboldening experience it has been for them.




Simply having the knowledge that as well as the hugely rewarding family life at home, there was also a completely self-indulgent side of life, one that was there to be grasped with both hands and relished. I’ve found this in itself to be a huge thrill, both mentally and physically. It has certainly added a very positive “other” dimension to daily life.




I soon discovered that this sexual freedom that we had allowed each other to explore has simply strengthened our marriage. The level of trust that was already in place has only been enhanced further by the openness in which we approach and discuss all situations together, whether sexual or life in general. Almost from the very outset my husband adored me recounting my liaisons and outrageous shenanigans to him (no detail sparred), whether as a teaser over dinner - leading to our relentlessly exciting bedroom games, or wherever and whenever a situation presented itself. It simply keeps everything fresh and frisky.



My main reason to write “First Tango In Paris” was, as “erotic fiction” has recently become a hugely popular genre, I felt that it was all well and good reading about fictional characters in fictional situations, but thought that from my point of view it would be much more inspiring and liberating to read a wholly factual account from a person who has experienced it all in reality, in genuine and existing clubs and locations. Obviously, as with all things in life there are the disreputable places that are to be avoided, however, in my book I document many of the finer establishments where one can go to turn fantasy into reality in the blink of an eye (the majority of which are just a click away on the internet). Go explore your inner desires you’ll be surprised at just how elated and revitalized you’ll feel. For the ladies reading this I strongly recommend you get the man or men in your life to have a sneaky read, their reactions may just surprise you! (at the very least a trip to Paris should be on your wish list)




The following excerpt is one of that will give you a flavor of the book, and an insight into one of the numerous elegant but highly decadent situations I was party to!



Recently, my favoured pastime is when I’m alone at our place in Spain I venture the ten minute walk to the local nude/fun beach and get naked and just see what potential situations develop in the heat! I’m always happy when a young “senor” or two park themselves nearby. That when my exhibitionist streak really explodes!




The book is 98 thousand words, covering the first ten years; there will be a concluding book bringing my escapades up to date later in the year.


Emma Styles is @emmajstyles on Twitter


The book is available to download at all Amazon outlets worldwide; here it is at Amazon UK. And at Amazon U.S. It is at Barnes and Noble: And at ibooks and itunes.


And you can view more of Emma's erotic photograph collection, here at her blog; a new pic every day!

Friday, 19 September 2014

FIFTY SHADES -- TWO YEARS ON...





It’s been a while since I’ve thought about Fifty Shades of Grey; it’s been even longer since I’ve said anything nasty about E.L.James’ venture into the Erotica genre. But with the News channels buzzing last week about the film adaptation of Fifty Shades, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, due to premier on Saint Valentine’s Day next year, I got to thinking about the book all over again.

It cannot be denied that James’ book is an overwhelming success. Her sales figures are astronomical; Fifty Shades is loved by millions. The book has had 7,674 reviews on Amazon alone; it’s amazing!
So what am I griping about?


It’s been about two years since I read the book. I wanted to like it, I really did. My beloved genre of Erotica, at last, having a voice. For far too many years Erotica has lived in the shadows; no one seeming to know how to define it. It’s not Romance and it’s not Pornography; it’s somewhere in between. And, as I say I really did want to like it.
BUT I was BORED! And that, I cannot forgive.


So much has been said about the irritating characterization of Anastasia; her constant bickering with her “inner goddess” and her whiny “subconscious.” But where the book really began to fail for me was James’ failure to establish a cohesive, consistent character in either of the two lead characters. Neither was likable; neither was believable enough to make me care enough about what happened to either of them. As I was reading, it seemed to me that the actions, and reactions of a particular character was so out of touch with what had been presented about them that, for me, the story fell apart. I could not trust the characters and I could not get lost in the tale. I was always painfully aware that I was reading a book. The narrative meanders on with no noticeable change, no plot driven personal growth evident in either character.
In his review of Fifty Shades, Patrick Whitehurst says;


“In some books main characters are expected to remain stagnant with little growth. Fleming's James Bond for instance, but in a book like this, you pray for it.”

Rita Reger’s view is;

“Overall, the book left the reader with a sense of bewilderment, confusion and annoyance. Certainly not the stimulation that it sets out for. I found myself wondering, as smart as Anastasia was supposed to be, how dumb was she to continue to dribble and drool over this self-absorbed, immature and emotionally stunted oaf who had never really been successfully painted as "intriguing" or "dangerous." In my mind, he came across as just beautiful, rich and annoying. He probably smelled good, I'll grant the girl that much, but, still - not enough to warrant that kind of simpering, tripping over herself, compelled "moth to a flame" complex he seemed to generate in her. Sure, there are lots of dumb, beautiful men out there, but does that warrant regressing to 13-year-old teen heartthrob idolatry? She was painted as smart, savvy, capable and sassy, yet responded as naive, inexperienced and insecure. Christian also had the mood swings of a psychopath and was even less three dimensional than Anastasia. It felt like random facts about him were simply thrown together from different jigsaw puzzle boxes (he's had a screwed-up history, he plays piano, he's rich, he's mean, he makes mysterious phone calls to Darfur, he pilots a plane, he likes to spank people, etc.) with no attempt to actually integrate them into a cohesive picture that really tells you who this man is. And maybe that's the point - he's not a man, but a screwed-up, selfish little pouty boy with too much money. There was no explanation, no great reveal, not even an enjoyable journey along the way.

At the end of five hundred-plus pages of confusion and annoyance, you still have no idea what the book was supposed to be about, what its theme was or what target audience it is supposed to appeal to ... or why? Keep the Fifty Shades drawn. If he's supposed to be the fantasy man, I'll take a rain check, and a real man, instead.”
Although Anastasia is irresistibly drawn to Christian Grey sexually, she cannot budge from her position that “something” must have happened to him to have allured him into Sadomasochism. She cannot just accept him as he is with all his kinks; if she’d told him that she couldn’t deal with his predilections and walked away, that would be honourable. He must be changed, in other words “made normal.”


I have no idea whether Ana succeeds in making Christian Grey “normal.” The first book was enough for me; I don’t know what happens in the rest of the trilogy. I had no intention of investing anymore emotional energy in James’ one dimensional characters.

Can our sexual identity be changed or is it fluid? That’s a tricky one – a question worthy of a blog post all of its own. At a very basic level, I would say that you can make someone realise that their desire to do something is wrong, or just plain distasteful – but you cannot take away their desire to do whatever it is. A look at paedophilia illustrates that very point – a paedophile can be made to understand the seriousness of his paraphilia – right up to the point where he stops placing himself in situations where he has access to children, but you cannot take away his desire for sexual contact with children. This has been illustrated so many times – while incarcerated, the offender undergoes intensive therapy with the best psychologists and psychoanalysts on the planet – but the desire is still there -- you cannot stop his dreams and fantasies. He may never offend again, the loss of his liberty is too big a price to pay – but tragically, some do.


Or if I have not made it clear what I’m talking about – an alcoholic can be rehabilitated. He can stop drinking; full stop. But the desire for alcohol is still there; the craving may diminish, but his best ever fantasy would be to drain a bottle of Jack Daniels, or a pint of his favourite beer.


So what’s going on with Christian Grey and his need for bdsm? We learn that at one time, when he was a young man, he was seduced into the role of submissive by a Dominant lady. A position that he responded to and apparently enjoyed. “Aha” – Ana thinks! That’s what lured him into bdsm – at one time he was “normal”— it’s the fault of this scheming woman. But that is not really the point is it? Bdsm requires a negotiation of position. The participants, however many there are, have to be consenting – otherwise, it’s just plain old abuse. By allowing himself to be allured by this older, Dominant woman and going along with whatever she wants him to do he is consenting – he is enjoying the role play.
So, you get the idea that I am not happy with James’ book. Neither is the bdsm community. Their view is that it treats bdsm proclivities as symptomatic of a messed up mentality that needs to be cured through true love. James portrays a relationship that is abusive rather than fully consensual and condones practices that are deeply unsafe. They see the book as unrepresentative and irresponsible.


I said earlier that I was bored; never more so when Ana wades through that turgid contract that Christian Grey wants her to sign. It’s supposed to be sexy – it isn’t. It’s dull. I’m supposed to think; “wow – can he really expect that? Will Ana agree to do that?” I’ve waded through a very, very similar contract, so similar it is uncanny, in Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 book Venus in Furs. Christian Grey’s contract for Ana is indeed so uncannily similar to Sacher-Masoch’s contract drawn up by the voluptuous, whip wielding beauty, Wanda von Dunajew for the submissive, Severin von Kusiemski, that I am tempted to throw plagiarism into the mix.


So what exactly is going on with Fifty Shades? If it is such a ridiculous book, how did it get to be top of the Erotica best sellers lists? Did writers and publishers of Erotica take their eye off the ball? Erotica was a cosy little genre; we all had our favourite writers, even if they remained unheard of by the general reading public. Fifty Shades is an example of excellent marketing; indeed, creative marketing and James has a background in marketing. She brought her own bland version of Erotica to readers who didn’t even realise that there was an Erotica genre.


Oh, Erotica was definitely there, it sat on the bookshelves gathering dust; you had to know what you were looking for to find it.
My own reading illustrates this point. I’d always been turned on by the Victorian writers; Emily, Charlotte and Anne Brontë. I was in no doubt that those ladies, when they talked about Romance, were talking about sex and dark desire – particularly in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. The smouldering Heathcliffe is a template for anyone keen to indulge in a bit of extreme bdsm. The only contemporary fiction I could find, which hinted at seduction was in the Romance shelves of book shops and my local library. Then I picked up a Mills and Boon Romance by Samantha Hunter, “Virtually Perfect”. Here was a woman writing Romance who was not afraid to call a penis a cock. She wrote about orgasms, real orgasms whereas Barbara Cartland wrote about “soaring spirits and being at one with the stars”; Samantha Hunter wrote about cuming, the clitoris and ejaculation and I realised that if lovely “safe” Mills and Boon were prepared to stick their neck out and publish such stuff – well there must be something, somewhere that I was missing. I Googled “Erotica” and I was blown away. Here was what I needed; I never looked back and eventually began to write my own Erotica – the stuff that I like to read.There was a massive bunch of readers just begging for more than “just Romance”.


But oh, those wonderful writers of Erotica, writers who have been crafting their books superbly for years; they still remain unheard of by the reading public. Please, lovers of Fifty Shades, read some real Erotica. And before “Anon” or several little baby “anons” tell me that my books are crap and should be written on toilet paper, I AM NOT talking about my books! I am talking about great writers like Patrick Califia, M.Christian, Janine Ashbless; they are all there on Amazon! Look, I’ll even make it easy for you! Get the Master/slave anthology, edited by N.T.Morley; it’s a cool selection of “tales from the top and tales from the bottom.” I tell you what else you should go for! “Topping from Below” by Laura Reese and her latest book “Panic Snap” -- now there’s Erotica, real Erotica that will blow you away!


And just to make it even easier – here are the links! Master/slave at Amazon U.S. and at Amazon U.K. Here is Topping from Below by Laura Reese at Amazon U.S and at Amazon U.K. And here’s Laura’s latest, Panic Snap at Amazon U.S.and at Amazon U.K.


Finally, for your amusement, here’s a cool review of Fifty Shades, from C.E. Wallis, on Amazon. Made me smile…


“Oh My, I mean really, Oh my, oh my, oh my......No readers, I have not just been whipped (pardon the pun) into a bosom heaving wreck by the size of my partner's "impressive length". I have in fact, just dragged myself through to the final page of this ludicrous nonsense and found myself almost speechless. Almost...


The main character, Christian Grey, is quite obviously deranged. This does not however, deter Ana, who for some inexplicable reason, has spent so long with her head in a book that she has never looked in a mirror and noticed that she is a "total babe". A "total babe" who also happens to be a 21 year old virgin. No, Ana, in the space of 3 weeks, falls so crazily in love with "Mr Grey" that she manages to bypass the whole deranged thing and instead concentrates all her efforts on a) going from virgin to porn star faster than Hussain Bolt off the blocks and b) deciding whether to let him hit her with stuff. As you do.


As for Mr Grey, obviously, readers can't be allowed to see him as simply a deranged, manipulative psycho so let's give him smouldering good looks, a few zillion quid to throw around and hey, and this is the clincher, the ability to love art and music (y'know, like Nazi's do in the war films). (Note - the bit where he plays the "haunting" piano piece, semi naked, with his eyes closed actually made me laugh so much that I almost wet myself - in a non-orgasmic way. Check it out....enjoy! ). As if that wasn't enough he also has a personal and financial interest in saving the world from famine. Just that old world peace and cancer to sort out and then hey, job's a good `un. I mean really, how did the world ever shamble along without him? So what made this beautiful, charismatic and talented man so brutal? Could it be a traumatic childhood perhaps? Why, yes I think it could...yaaaaawn....


So, the 2 beautiful people come together (Oh my, another pun) and the rest of the book is basically about Ana wondering if she should let him hit her with stuff and then letting him hit her with stuff and Mr Grey wondering if he should stop hitting her with stuff but still hitting her with stuff while she whines on about wanting "more" love and less of the hitting stuff and he whines on about how he doesn't know how to give "more" cos he has only ever hit people with stuff.


In between these nonsensical blatherings they have lots of sex, which, like piano playing, speaking foreign languages and making zillions of quid, he possesses boundless expertise. Obviously. Luckily, virginal Ana also has her "inner Goddess" to guide her on the art of sex play and soon becomes an orgasm machine, chucking them out all over the place in a rampant, fevered haze of lust. So much so that she overlooks Mr Grey's general bastardry and bends over nicely for a few beatings. She is also too enraptured to take much notice his incessant stalking, which would have got lesser men arrested. Oh, and his `feeder' tendencies that, if successful, would have surely added a good 10 stone onto Ana's lovely buttocks which in turn would have incurred the cost of a refurb' to the `red room of pain' when his ceiling shackles needed reinforcing. Luckily he can afford it.


As many other readers have noted, the writing is appallingly poor and, if you removed the sex bits, would resemble a love struck teenager's diary. It's all been said before so I won't dwell on it. I will just say, if you are looking for erotic fiction, look elsewhere, if you are looking for an unintentionally laugh out loud bit of fluff and nonsense then crack open a bottle, put your feet up and prepare to be amused. Personally I would just say that there goes a day of my life that I will never get back. Oh my!”

Friday, 12 September 2014

THE NIGHTMARE




We’re all familiar with Henry Fuseli’s painting, “The Nightmare”. The feelings of stress and anxiety that the image evokes. Freud would consider this work as an example of “the uncanny.” The “unheimlich,” the unfriendly world of the shrieking horror of our unconscious. In our unconscious dwells the taboo; those dark secret yearnings of our worst nightmares. “The hag ridden realm of the unconscious.”


I’m still learning about Jung, but I think he would say that this painting is an example of an ancient story; a mythology. A piece of our collective unconscious. A story that is whispered, by candlelight, while snow falls softly outside. Jung would also talk about “the shadow.” For our emotional sanity, we must acknowledge the shadow. Recognise that we do have indecencies, the taboo, in our psyche. Only then can we live healthy, sane lives. We shun the taboo, yet are drawn to it. It fascinates us, in the same way that we cannot turn away from Fuseli’s “Nightmare.”


Fuseli painted the picture in 1781. He produced at least three other versions of “The Nightmare.”


But what is our place in this painting? We are the voyeur, gazing in horror at the potential violation of this beautiful young woman. We anticipate the violation hungrily, at the same time screaming our denial. There is the stench of sulphur, the ghastly shriek of tortured demons. Why does Fuseli want to show us this depravity? Is he telling us that he knows our darkest, deepest secrets? Is he telling us about his own contaminated desires? Why does Fuseli want us here?


Whatever Fuseli’s reason, his painting is an image to haunt our waking hours. To make us afraid of sleep. To dread our dreams. The sinister creak on the stairs, the screams of hell, echoing down through eternity. It is Fuseli’s “Nightmare.”


Contemporary critics often found the work scandalous due to its sexual themes. A few years before he painted “The Nightmare,” Fuseli had fallen passionately in love with a woman named Anna Landholdt in Zürich. Landholdt was the niece of his friend, the Swiss physiognomist Johann Kaspar Lavater. Fuseli wrote of his fantasies to Lavater in 1779:


“Last night I had her in bed with me—tossed my bedclothes hugger-mugger—wound my hot and tight-clasped hands about her—fused her body and soul together with my own—poured into her my spirit, breath and strength. Anyone who touches her now commits adultery and incest! She is mine, and I am hers. And have her I will.…”


Fuseli’s painting, likely influenced Mary Shelley. Shelley would have been familiar with the painting; her parents, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, knew Fuseli well. In a scene from her Gothic novel Frankenstein, (1818), where the creature has murdered Victor’s wife, Shelley seems to draw from Fuseli’s canvas:


"She was there, lifeless and inanimate, thrown across the bed, her head hanging down, and her pale and distorted features half covered by hair."


The novel and Fuseli's biography share a parallel theme: just as Fuseli's incubus is infused with the artist's emotions in seeing Landholdt marry another man, Shelley's monster promises to get revenge on Victor on the night of his wedding. Like Frankenstein's monster, Fuseli's demon symbolically seeks to forestall a marriage.
Fuseli is often quoted as saying, "One of the most unexplored regions of art are dreams".


Tom Lubbock, writing in The Independent, Friday, 7th April 2006, gives us a 21st century reading of Fuseli’s painting.


Can a picture be scary, like a film? You might think not, for a simple reason. What makes a movie scary is not the subject alone, but the timing. You need sequence, you need editing, to create suspense and shock, the horrible realisation, the sudden jolt. And this a picture cannot do - because a picture (so one old theory goes) is all taken in at a glance, in a single blink.


Of course, this is sort of true. Looking at a picture is not like watching a film or turning the pages of a book. You grasp what's going on quite quickly (well, depending on what you notice). A whodunit in paint would be hard to do. But in another way, the glance theory is quite wrong. The eye sees a picture, not in a blink, but in a series of fixations that dart and scatter across its surface.


But the "timing" of a picture - that's something else again. Even though the scene is all before you, a picture can pace and direct your attention. Though it lacks the syntax of a strip cartoon, it can create episodes and sequence and surprises. The sequence may not correspond to literal eye-fixations. (Words on a page have an order, after all, but the eye darts all over the page as it reads). It's a matter of managing the viewer's interest.


To see a pictorial edit at work, take that classic scary picture, Henry Fuseli's “The Nightmare.” The voluptuously flopped sleeping woman is visited in her dreams by a revolting incubus and a frightening horse. All very Gothic, Freudian etc. But put psychology to one side, and look at stage-management.


Look at the picture, and watch how you look at it. It may seem upfront enough, with its three prominent characters, a woman and a couple of creatures. And it's true that these elements are clear(ish) in your field of vision. But you don't attend to them all at once. Fuseli controls your involvement.


“The Nightmare,” is not a fluent, unfolding composition, where one thing leads smoothly to another. It's made up of separate incidents, each requiring a distinct act of attention. Move between them, and attention jumps. What's more, these incidents have an order. The picture arranges things so that you move and jump in sequence. This still image is cunningly and abruptly edited.


The brightest patch is the woman's bust, her breasts, shoulder, throat, cheek, closed eyes, the unconscious mind in the helpless and exposed body. This is the first "shot" in the edit. It is not simply eroticism. It uses eroticism to manage the viewer's attention, and it won't just be the eyes of the male viewer that are immediately drawn to this area. Sexy female vulnerability, with a spotlight on it, is a general hot grab. That's where Fuseli begins his sequence. Though far from the centre, it is the picture's hub, the point from which everything else is paced.


This hub, you notice, is not the whole woman, just a part. The woman's body is itself delivered in shots. The bust is one incident. The left forearm and the flaccid hand, trailing its fingers on the floor, are another. (There's a clear jump of attention as you look between them: this - that.) And the rest of her, the tapering mermaid's tail curve, ending in a single toe-point, is a third shot, another jump. This fragmenting of the passive figure is not only fetishism. It's editing. You the viewer have to put this distrait body together from its parts. It makes it all the more passive, less in control of itself.


And then, the monster! - the devilish hunched incubus, that squats on the woman's belly. The jump juxtaposition is obvious here: compact brown lump set upon stretched-out, languid white curve. There's an extra scari-ness in the way this figure lurks. Its lower half is shadowy and formless, blending into the gloom behind, not really anything. Its hideous shape and nature only come to light, materialise, as you go up, with a gradual realisation.


What adds to the fear, when you see what the creature is, is that it isn't actually doing anything to her. It's just sitting on her, inert, like a monkey-ornament. It's not performing a horrible act. It has some calm and horrible purpose, which is worse. And it turns its bulging eyes to meet the viewer's in a way that shows a mind at work, and may invite complicity.


But as this horror is sinking in, the scene's big shock effect strikes: on the far left the crazy nightmare horse, flash-lit, eyes burning, hair standing on end, barges into the picture out of the darkness, out of nowhere, out of control. It enters suddenly, and Fuseli depicts it like something that is seen suddenly, its form not fully grasped. He paints a Francis Bacon creature, in elusive, flickering highlights and blurs that don't integrate into a single solid. It is hysteria and suddenness embodied. Without its white-hot eyeballs, the horse would hardly read as "head" at all.


The scene carefully paces its horrors. It is made of shots and jumps, gradual realisations, sudden shocks. It is thoroughly and dramatically timed. True, the editing of a picture is always more flexible than the frame-sequence of a cartoon strip or the cuts of a film. You can always go back, you can move between things in other sequences, every part can be related to every other. You can do your own edit. But still, a scene such as The Nightmare, emphatically divided into its distinct and horrid incidents, puts a potential scare into your every move.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

ENSLAVING ELI; billierosie & a cool idea!



Gary Walker has a brilliant idea! The cover images for our books as poster billboards! At only £15 per image it's a bargain! Click here for more info!