Monday, May 20, 2024

Goodbye Mr. Vachss

On the heels of Anne Rice and Joan Didion dying at the tail end of the year, I learned that another of my favorite writers, Andrew Vachss died, on December 27th. A man who wrote “hardboiled” crime novels, comics, short stories, song lyrics, and plays, Vachss was unique among his penning peers in his professional defense of abused children.

 

Vachss worked as a federal investigator in sexually transmitted diseases, a social-services caseworker, and even directed a maximum-security prison for violent youth. He represented children and youth exclusively in his private law practice and was a founding member of the Legislative Drafting Institute for Child Protection.

 

Of his 33 novels, arguably, the reading public knew Vachss best from his 18-book Burke books (where I first found the man) and his signature look; Vachss’s eye was injured at the age of seven and because of this he wore an eye patch and usually a stern, “I know what you did and I will out you because of it,” look in public life.

 

His books took place in an underbelly world of crime and revenge, with urban mercs enacting vigilantism on a Grand Guignol scale. His wonderful family of characters often hunted down child predators, and well before it became of virtue signaling value, he championed LGBTQ characters by writing them into his stories as much lead characters as anyone else.

 

His books also were heavily peppered with eroticism.

 

Here was a guy who knew how to mix genres while creating fiction that was undeniably his.

 

There was a time; I couldn’t get enough of the guy.

 

Vachss was married to Alice, herself a former sex-crimes prosecutor. She later became Chief of the Special Victims Bureau in Queens, New York, and wrote the nonfiction book Sex Crimes: Ten Years on the Front Lines Prosecuting Rapists and Confronting Their Collaborators, which became a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. 

 

“When people tell me a warm, caring volunteer can ‘represent’ a kid, I tell them that the next time they need a root canal, go to a volunteer,” the man famously said.

 

Andress Vachss lived what he preached and wrote outstanding fiction from it.

Step Back, Shut Up, Fuck Off

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

I began this one initially as a plea to playwrights. Having had the pleasure of seeing a bunch of my one-acts produced across the U.S. (even some of a more ‘adult’ nature) I thought maybe I could pass along salient advice for scribes of the stage. But then as I explored the idea of what I wanted to say here I realized what I wanted to expound upon might just be applicable to all writers, to all people actually who create a thing from whole cloth and put that thing out for the masses to enjoy or purchase.

This falls well beyond the advice I gave about knowing when to “fold ‘um” as opposed to knowing when to “hold ‘um” when it comes to letting the thing you create just be, consider it done as opposed to picking at it. Or that should-I-or-should-I? conundrum over editing something yet again. What I am on about here is the tired old need writers/musicians/actors/creatives-in-general have to yawp a good game about what they do, have just done, or might be presently giving forth.

You see this lots of times when a singer/songwriter sits down to play a song but spends more time talking about the song’s inspiration. You get it lots of times when you ask an actor about his or her latest performance and they all too quickly rifle off their resume. So many writers are all too happy to tell you about the lives of their fictional characters and plenty more people will give out the specifics of their websites, Facebook page Instagram or Twitter handle, well before you even ask for it. But to me, this kind of self-promotion white noise feels like desperation to me (kind of like how the populace seems to have an addiction to posting every idea, vacation pic and political rant…but don’t get me started on the epidemic of narcissism birthed by social media).

I understand, we who create stuff and get it out there (and I think everybody creates stuff, all of us are artists in some sense, so I don’t hold musicians, actors, writers, etc. in a higher regard than anybody else) feel we need to consistently show ourself, be seen and heard above everybody else trying to be seen and heard, have to claw and fight to perform or win that audition. I understand that there will come more rejection, than there ever we be acceptance. But one comes from an infinitely stronger base, reveals the confidence of one’s convictions, if we just do the thing and don’t talk about the thing, unless you are asked to talk about the thing by people who want to hear about your doing, or are paying for you to do it.

Let me give you and example which will tie this all up neatly in a bow, I hope.

Going back to my playwriting. I have found infinite pleasure in this kind of writing, not only because I get to hear my words spoken, out loud, but because I can instantly judge their impact by an immediate reaction, or no reaction, from an audience. And quite a few times in the community theatres that have ‘put up’ my plays, there’s been a Q&A after the performance, where audiences are invited to ask directors, actors and writers questions. For a writer especially, this public airing can be both fun and unnerving. We get to come out into the light beyond our garret and react to real human beings, but at the same time that light can be blinding when somebody starts asking you about what you meant by this and that when you might not have a clear answer. Luckily, from my performance background, especially playing music for kids, the toughest audiences you are ever likely to meet, I am pretty quick on my toes and mostly I lead with humor, which diffuses even the most serious, deep diving questions.

But in these instances, I am being asked to expound. In writing classes, the website that initially ran the columns that make up a bulk of this book, somebody has come to seek my consul, asked me my opinion. I shouldn’t be lurking around backstage before a performance jawing with the actors of my play or having a chat with the director or even attend a rehearsal unless I have been invited (which I have been, but still meter my time out and about judiciously). I try and just sing my song with the requisite pyrotechnics and not talk about it too much and when I come upon somebody reciting their resume on the many books they have published with this or that publisher, I nod and compliment them on their good fortune, but have to need to compete with what I have had published myself.

As I come to re-read my works above I realize that this column is less a piece about some aspect of writing as it is the social aspect of the craft. But if and when you get the chance, and maybe even when you don’t, I say step back, shut up and generally just fuck off.

 

 

 

 

 

De-balling, Retracting and Playing It Safe: How Cultural Inclusionary Language Is Killing Sex Writing

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

As I have written previously, I do indeed use the Grammarly program in my editing, but I am very cautious of it. I notice quite often the algorithm spits back suggestions over word choices it feels may not be known by the general public.

Go figure. My vocabulary is that highfalutin?

Then there are those instances where I might use a word like salesman, and Grammarly will prompt me that this is ‘gender-biased.’ If the person I am writing about happens to be a man who sells, wasn’t I being specific, not exclusive? And quite frankly, stopping at every instance to substitute the word ‘person’ for man or woman is exhausting.

And this is just Grammarly, a program I can choose to ignore or not use at all. What has had me worried now for some time, and what I feel is quite an insidious seed change to the cultural mindset, is an all but cloying approach that cuts many of us, sex writers, to the quick: the dangerous trend in the all-inclusive defusing of language.

I saw this writ large in a series of articles I recently wrote about orgasm denial and chastity for what tends to be a feminine-skewed website. I know I could already be welcoming some criticism just for writing the word “feminine,” but I don’t feel that word is offensive, and it describes the tremor of the stuff on the site. I have lots of respect for the editor and my fellow writers at this place. There’s lots of really good writing alongside my few articles, some super cool exposes, and opinion pieces on a great many subjects I have never considered and know nothing about. But in my pieces and plenty of others, I have noticed an increasing number of the editor’s warnings at the beginning of the articles, a couple-paragraph ‘Language note’ caution. Specifically, the last warning topping my piece stated that my article “employed language that was ‘intentionally gender non-specific,’ and that words like words ‘cock’ and ‘penis’ are used with absolutely no gender specificity assigned to any term. “

I don’t even know what the fuck that all means nor why anybody has to be warned about it.

I’m one of those heart-on-my-sleeves guys so sensitive to other people’s feelings. Fuck, I cry at commercials! If I can manage the good fortune to have someone feel enlightened, empowered, aroused, what have you, from reading something I wrote, I figure I have done my job well, and then some. The very last thing I’d ever want is a reader feeling uncomfortable from my use of some word or misconstruing my meaning when I know I never intentionally seek out to exclude anyone. Yes, I write a lot of satire, and it can be biting at times, but I never attack those who cannot defend themselves, and I am never mean for mean sake. Really, most times, especially in my non-fiction writing, I am hoping  to make my reader feel a bit freer about their sexuality and maybe consider something that they might not have yet tried. Or consider not judging somebody who is trying something they might never want to get into or even might feel is repellant.

It’s all about spreading the love on my side of the street.

The warning up above then, while unfortunately currently ubiquitous in the current climate, is lost on/for me. The powers-that-be running websites, publishing magazines, even teaching in our schools worry so much about offending anyone that they bend over backward, making sure to include everyone. They over-explain, offer apologies, and over-compensate for offenses they assume are being made at every turn. But I have lots of faith in the intelligence and reason of the everyday reader. I believe that even when we encounter something that rankles us or sits counter to our belief system, we have the mature ability, most times, to digest, consider, then move on. It comes down to the old ‘sticks and stones’ axiom, and I fear there’s a lot more happening in your world if you get so twisted by a word used or even an idea expressed that you’d take that much offense to what you read.

And if you are prone to such deep feelings over what you read, dare I say, a pre-article warning isn’t going to diffuse you.

I wrote a story recently, where a lady (yes, an actual biological born female…although is it ok for me to write ‘biological female?’) was looking for a right good humping to the exclusion of anything else. It was thought by an editor who sent the story back to me that my lady was exhibiting harmful stereotypical behavior, that I had not written her with enough complexities. Not that I ever do so with a rejection, but I could have easily argued that some ladies (as some men, as some transgender people, as some…) love to fuck. And for some of us, and certainly, for the sake of my story (an erotic story at that), it was all about this person seeking and getting some to some fucking across the course of the action. Some characters, yes, have lots more layers to them; some do not. And really, I’m not that great of a writer where I can create such rich characters in a short story that rival those concocted by a Poe, or a Hemingway. But by writing my lady where she mainly was motivated by getting a dick in her (sorry, there I am being exclusionary, but she was a hetero lady and therefore only wanted warm, real penis inside her), I wasn’t making a blanket statement about heterosexual females, as this editor came right out and told me he felt I was.

One person’s opinion and all that. It’s ok, I took the rejection and moved on, but I didn’t change my character and how she acted.

I fully understand that there are great big groups of folks who have felt marginalized for a very long time. Many people have not had a voice in our global culture until recently when minorities now seem to have gained some push-back and power across cultural lines. This is fantastic. As I said, I want everyone to be happy, to feel that they matter, and truly, I feel all lives matter. But looking for something to be there that’s not, from a lousy old writer like me, is lots of wasted time. Being ready to jump at any provocation, or what’s worse, getting your panties in a twist (and sorry, if I am excluding those of us who do not wear panties?) over an offense you simply could never feel (for instance, if you happen to be a middle-class heterosexual white male who scribbles erotica writing columns for sexpert.com and get yourself worked up to a right lather over some expose not showing the requisite deference to the plight of the indigenous island birds half a world away) falls well into the category of virtual signaling and not much else.

Go forth and be happy, my little droogs. That’s all I could ever want for you and yours. And don’t take life so seriously. Mostly, what we encounter littering our way are other people’s opinions, not much more. And you know what they say about opinions and assholes…we all got them. And degree of potential stinky-ness around both various to a great degree.

Sorry, did that offend you?

Get My Blood Boiling With Some Foreplay

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My part two of this three-part article of the essential parts of erotica, this time foreplay, again sees us traipsing down very personal considerations. As much as I can’t tell you how to set up a seduction—where it should take place, how long it should be, etc.—I can’t give you the specifics on the foreplay scene or scenes you might create.

I am sure you and I could find some common ground on what turns us both on. But beyond these, there is a cornucopia of stuff that gets you going in the bedroom that doesn’t mean anything to me and vice versa. That’s the fun thing about us humans; we all like different things for different occasions with different people. Finding out what gets a new lover all squiggly is one of the best parts of getting to know somebody. With this in mind, you need to include or at least consider this variety in what you write in how you approach your fiction’s foreplay.

If you are especially creative, you might have your characters engage in foreplay you would never attempt. It’s fun to stretch yourself this way. Or you might have two (or more) people involved in your story who might not be your gender. Or even human. Again, all this keeps your creative juices flowing and might bring you to some conclusions about what is lacking in your sex life you might want to try next time you get into some foreplay.

I also feel it’s essential to make seduction and foreplay separate parts of the action. They don’t have to be; as I mention in almost every one of my pieces for this column, the way you write your tale is up to you. But if you can manage some delineation between when your characters meet and first sniff each other out, then get their hands on one another and manage some fumbling around one another’s erogenous zones, your reader will benefit greatly. Following this, a foreplay scene does not always have to get your characters into exchanging body fluids and orgasm.

Then again, it might.

Again, how long or short it takes you to get your reader from seduction to foreplay, how much distance you cover in paragraphs and pages, as well as in how much time passes in your story between these two points, is up to you. You might not even write something that employs a linear narrative, jumping around with flashbacks, or even with time travel. I can’t say that when your reader first comes to your seduction and foreplay that these two happen in the logical progression, we usually know these to happen.

If we assume your characters are getting closer as they step from seduction to foreplay, then most likely, these scenes and all the rest of the stuff you are writing are building a deeper, hotter reading experience for your reader, which is exactly what you want.

But watch out, you know what’s coming (and I do use the word ‘coming’ specifically here!) next.

How Valuable Is A Writer’s Time?

Photo by Quinton Coetzee on Unsplash

I hear that phrase all the time, “Well, your time is valuable.” Actually, mine isn’t. Or, more precisely, it isn’t to anybody else but me. So, if I am putting a price on a writing job and charging by the hour, I need to determine what my time is worth (plus my skills for doing that job) and charge accordingly. I can’t expect someone else to know, care or even agree to the value of my time.

And therein lies the back-and-forth we get into with trying to get what we are worth for the time we spend working. And if you don’t have the price of your time and effort figured out before you start the job, you could be in for a rough time accounting for your payment at the end of it.

Just saying.

It’s the off-work hours’ time where I get my dander up the most about my time, or more precisely, my time being wasted.

Let me give you an example…

I recently was approached by a very good friend to write job for a company she worked for. A very big company. In addition to good pay for what would have amounted to consistent writing work (something a freelancer is always looking for), putting this company on my resume would have gone far in bolstering my reputation in the mainstream space (as a writer for erotica and mainstream content, I am ever aware of increasing my credentials in the non-adult space, since I have plenty in the adult space). So, over the course of a month, my buddy and I went back and forth, I filled out the necessary paperwork, and then got to work.

In the middle of writing my first article for my new employer, I had a question about payment, something I needed to have answered in order to do the job. It might rate as a minor consideration for some, but for me, it is a big deal in my little world and I needed to get an answer to my question.

Now the company has no idea who I am other than I am a new freelancer who will be writing for them, and I was discreet enough not to mention my personal finances to anybody. Through my friend’s urging, I simply went through the proper channels to call and email the company bookkeeper about my question…which I did not even ask on voice mail or in email. And let me just add that in the correspondence I received from the company, that bookkeeper’s name, phone number, and email address were listed with her welcome to contact her for any questions that might arise.

Something did arise, and there I was getting in touch.

That was a week ago as I write this, and nobody has contacted me. My friend has as much contacted the company for me as she needed attention on another matter. And nobody has gotten back to her either. I needed and wanted this job. But if you can’t get the basics right, if you have no care to follow up, and if you don’t see the value in my time, not even time I am working for you, but the small amount of time we need to spend going back and forth on something, then do I really have the time (or energy) to work for you?

Maybe, it’s because they are a huge company, and I am really nobody in their corporate hierarchy? Maybe they just have terrible communications skills? Maybe…I have no idea why nobody got back to me. But I come to say this all the time; in a world where we can communicate faster, better, and on-the-go like never before, we are communicating worse.

So, if you do not have the time for me, in the most basics of the job I am trying to do for you, I fear how you won’t have time for me when more serious stuff arises;  questions on style, deadlines, content of what I am writing, etc.

I told my friend not to consider me for the job any further.

I Seduce You; You Seduce Me

The Seduction of a Story

This is the first of a three-part article specifically aimed at you, my fellow naughty scribes. Indeed, we are like most fiction writers in that we endeavor to simply tell a good story, build rich, interesting characters, set time and place in a way where the reader can ‘feel’ themselves in the action. But between our beginning, the middle meat of the tale, and some sort of satisfying end, an erotic story needs to have some sure heat in it. The level of that heat and where it leads, if anywhere at all, is up to you. How you mix that heat with the real world or even otherworldly elements, this too is only for you to determine. But I believe almost all erotic fiction (notice I say “almost all” there are exceptions to any rule) needs have the progression of seduction, foreplay, and climax.

So, let’s start with seduction.

I can’t tell you how to set up the seduction of your story. God knows, these days, your possibilities are limitless on how seduction can come off. It could happen in email, Twitter, or when two people bump into each other in a Starbucks’ line. It might take all of a paragraph and represent the moment we first meet your characters, as it can last for pages. I’ve as much written drawn-out slow dances of fits and starts or the grand big complicated tease as I have Whammo Bango ‘let’s get it on,’ explosions of realizations. One person might recognize a fellow kinkster sitting across from them in their college study hall, and these sophomores manage to squirrel away to an empty classroom for some mutual bare ass spankings minutes after they meet. Another couple might bump into one another at different junctures of history and try to bring off their attraction only to be thwarted at every turn by some supernatural element, their seduction therefore taking decades.

Again, your possibilities are limitless.

As most likely, your seduction will come at the beginning of your story; it can serve multiple purposes. As much a solid place to begin your heated scribbling, during the seduction, you can also introduce characters (as mentioned up above), as you could set a location or slip in the overall theme of your tale right from the jump. Here too, might be the place or impetus for the supernatural element to be made plain or for you to tickle the beginnings of a mystery you slowly reveal across your pages. The seduction scene might also birth a subplot or two.

But be cautioned, as always, when writing erotica; we need to balance the heat with how much exposition we slip in. Whatever you bring to the seduction(s) scenes (setting, the complexity of character, introducing a MacGuffin) to just ‘info-dump’ because you have the room to do so is not always the best course. I’ve seen many a writer (me included) begin a story, bring a handful of characters together, settle on a juicy little seduction scene, sprinkle in a whole bunch of other elements, but then end up stymied for the next steps worrying they (I) have already blown their (my) load.

Think of the seduction as the first bloom of heat between your characters. It’s the set-up, clumsy or sly, dangerous portent or promise of passages hotter than any E.L. James, an easy entre’ to a metered romance or the reluctant happenstance of a moment two people know they should avoid at all costs, but simply cannot.

Make of it what you will.

But remember, the essential part of writing the seduction of your story is… you won’t be able to apply any of what I have just advised unless you first write it.

So, start writing.

Climaxing All Over Your Pages

Photo by Alexander Ant from Pexels

Assuming none of your characters reached orgasm during your foreplay scene (which is as legitimate a way to write it as any other) or didn’t get through the seduction and realize they didn’t really like one another when all was said and done, you could very well find yourself on the slow burn to climax. Now, whether the orgasm/money-shot/end of the seduction/foreplay will as much mark the end of your story, be just one bright, naughty passage you write with more to follow or happens early on, or it will rush at your reader in one wild night of your characters first meeting, managing into a local bar backroom where they roll each other naked across a busted bag of confectionary sugar and reach nirvana, who can say?

Your intention might very well be to get your characters on edge but keep them from coming. I tend towards this kind of setup in lots of my short erotic fiction. Sure, I have plenty of good old bed-rocking orgasms in my pages (and in my life, thank you very much, sometimes even with another person in the room!), multiples even when possible, gooey, fun, creative moments I hope are white-hot to the reader. But there are plenty of times I only allow my characters as far as seduction and foreplay, setting up a great big tease, searching the thematic questions about whether or not these two people will meet again, or even if they even want to. I tend toward this kind of ambiguity in my writing, as it is infinitely more interesting for me. But for those of us who want to write a good climax, here are some thoughts.

I’d say tickle into the climax at least a bit of what you have already let the reader know about your characters. They have spent some time getting to know one another, let them, and your reader, benefit from what’s been learned. For instance, during the seduction and foreplay, if you have made it clear that one or even both of your characters are aroused by roleplay, you might want to use this knowledge in their climax. Conversely, don’t throw in an unsubstantiated surprise here or reverse someone’s behavior unless warranted. A sub, suddenly turning dom as they come, need have at least some impetus why they might suddenly change their approach in mid-stretch. Although, if you write it right, one character suddenly so turned on when roiling up to orgasm suddenly traipsing down a path they never have can have arresting erotic possibilities.

Other parts of the climax to consider are:

  • Do you want your characters to climax during the same scene?
  • Do you want them to orgasm simultaneously?
  • How descriptive might you want to get in the specifics of what goes on and what comes forth?
  • Is there more to the climax than just the release? Some admission, a revelation, or something beyond human experience that occurs when one or both of your characters come? Climaxing is a great big body-rocking occurrence; I can easily see it flipping the ON switch to someone’s heretofore secret superpower.
  • As mentioned, will this be the end of your story, or are you planning a denouement?

If your dealing with more than a short story here, this climax might just be one of many that will occur across a story with multiple plot lines. Or the start of your story might be two people roiling towards their big moment, coming, then the rest of the tale opens up about what happens now.

As much or as little significance you give to the climax is again your call. I just think, like seduction and foreplay, the climax is important and can be damn fun to write. Remember, lots of readers are following along step by step with you here. They get heated to the appropriate passages you give them and might indeed allow for the old one-handed tickle when you get to your climax.

No matter how you write it, you want to keep true to these readers.

Write, Revise, Morph, and Repeat

Photo by Benjamin Balázs on Unsplash

Far be it from me, or even you, to determine what it is you are writing until you write it. And even then, you may write a thing, get it all revised, polished and maybe even sell it for a pretty penny, and still come back to change the thing, or later come to morph it into something wholly different than what it originally was.

Don’t keep yourself from this write, revise, morph, repeat process. It can pay you great dividends.

For instance. I scribbled off a very short story once, a first-person narrative, from a mid-40-something lady’s point of view. It was a tale of a sexy (or at least I liked to think it was sexy) flirty happenstance the protagonist made happen that ended up creating more questions for the lady than the answers she originally thought she was going to find. I sold this short. Then, I had occasion to consider the piece anew and revise it as a one-act monologue, which I also sold and sat in the audience watching being ‘put up.’ Since I work across a few different genres and types of writing, I find I can manage this reworking quite often and am pleased when I can. As much because it requires less wholly new writing as it is fun taking a thing that was once one way and seeing if I can make it another.

Now, you surely have to be careful taking something you may have sold or have been commissioned to write, refixing it and then trying to sell it again. Moving forward with something, even a faint copy, depends on the limits of the sale of the work in the first place. A short story and a play are two drastically different animals, but when fixing one story into another, you need tread carefully.

Surely, plenty a short story writer has sold the same story time over and over (again, dependent on the contract particulars of when you sell the story each time) and you  certainly can take great ideas from one place or create some characters you might want to see appear in other spots. But mainly I want you to look at your work as having infinite possibilities.

Because, well, it does.

This is why I advise people all the time to just write the thing. Get it out of yourself, down on paper or across the word press document. See it made real, then you can as much figure what it is, what it might still need to become as you can take it and tweak it to be something else entirely or an offshoot of the original thing you made.

Again, the possibilities are limitless when you are open to write, revise, morph and repeat.

To Ghost Or Not To Ghost: Should This Even Be A Question?

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

If you are a past reader of this column, you will have learned that I make my daily bread scribbling my naughty little fictions, reviewing adult toys, blogging for porn sites, as much as I do ghostwriting for various clients. In this regard, I have penned books by dentists, insurance how-to’s, and quite a few memoirs, all anonymously, letting the person I interview for the book, and the person paying me to write it, stamp their name on the tome. It’s been fascinating work, has made me some great client/friends, and takes me far and away from having to write about the latest male masturbator making the market or ruminating over some latex outfit Cardi B happened to wear in her last video.

But as you can rightly assume from the word ‘ghost’ in ghostwriting, nobody knows I have written these books. In fact, I just landed a job at a very big adult business portal, maybe the biggest adult business portal, (a sure fact I am sure proud of) but most of the work I will write here will be anonymous too. I will be given no byline. Nobody but a select few will even know which pieces I write, unless I report on them… which I have been told I can do. But generally, once again I step forward in my career, and believe me, working for this place IS a big step forward, without my name attached to my work.

How does this make me feel?

Give me the work, I say. Maybe if I was younger (lots younger than I am now, I am very crusty and old) I’d care to make noise, rubber stamp my name and likeness across everything of mine that’s out there. Maybe I wouldn’t even take ghostwriting assignments, feeling that all I produce should have my name on it, at the very least. But I lead a quieter existence these days. You won’t much find my picture at too many places (yes, it is at the bottom of this column, but generally very few places) and I’d much rather fade into the background in what I do.

I think writers, generally, are of this mind set. Sure, we all like a pat on the back, some reading groupie coming up at a book signing, stripping down their pants and asking us to sign their thong (men and women both). But generally, scribbling for a living is a solitary endeavour. We do it because we like to be quiet, be by ourselves.

Plus, I am not so vain, well at least not so vain anymore, that I would let my ego get in the way of a job. Sure, I used to be all about the bluster, the ballyhoo, but this was in my younger days when what I produced, be it music or words, was not of such high quality as I produce now… if it is of any quality at all. I think I all but “blew my load,” being so brazen, shaking my ass on stage, literally, and wanting to be seen and heard as much as I was. Again, I was much younger. But youth, they say, is wasted on the young.

Believe me, the last thing you’d want to see is me in a pair of leather pants these days!

😲

You have to come to your own comfort level with all of this. As much as the salary you will demand for your work as what else you want along with it. In fact (and this stays just between us, ok?) that new position I just acquired is not paying me anywhere near what I usually get for similar writing jobs. But I want ‘in’ with this company, I know the work will be fun and easy. And mostly, something steady, which this job seems to be, even a part time regular gig, is manna from heaven for a freelancer. That my name won’t go on the pieces is not a deal breaker in this instance.

So, to ghost or not to ghost?

This only becomes a question if you let it be.

Anne Rice Tribute

Anne Rice died on December 11th, at the age of 80. Known chiefly or at least initially, from her “Vampire Chronicles” (starting with the publication of Interview with the Vampire, in 1976), the lady went on to write over 30 books, straddling many genres.

 

For me, and as should come as no surprise, considering this column you are reading, it was Rice’s erotica that touched me most.

 

The lady’s BDSM takes on the Sleeping Beauty myth in her “Beauty” series, her Exit To Eden (I warn you, never ever watch the movie made of this book!) as well as my favorite Anne Rice, and one of my favorite books of all time, Belinda, all pack a naughty spellbinding punch and brought me to the realization that not only could Rice write (which I knew from reading plenty of her other books) but she was a world-class erotica scribe.

 

And there was a fair amount of drama that spoke to me personally, in Anne Rice’s journey and in how she exposed her writing in the sexy genre.

 

In 1985 I bought the aforementioned Exit To Eden from my local mall bookstore (man, how I miss those bookstores, and just hanging out at the mall in general). I had no idea who the author of that book, Anne Rambling, was, but lifting the hardcover down and giving it a quick perusal, I realized here was a hot little tale, well-written and unlike anything I had come across lately. I devoured the book and turned on a handful of my friends of like-minded sensibility to it.

 

They couldn’t put the book down long enough to touch themselves adequately, most admitted. 

 

Fast forward a year later, the hardcover Belinda hits the shelves, and I am shocked, yet thrilled to see, printed on this book’s lurid cover (which has turned away too many readers, I am sure) that the author of Belinda was “Anne Rice writing as Anne Rambling.” Rice would also pen her “Beauty” books under a pseudonym, A. N. Roquelaure. Pretty much pouring out books of all stripes, and even though investing her vampire fiction with a goodly amount of homosexual male interacting, the lady didn’t feel confident to put her real name, the one connected with mainstream horror popularity, on any of her erotica, at least initially. She also came under a good amount of criticism from the feminist community at the time, especially for the “Beauty” books, seeing as the main character in these books was a sub-female.

 

‘Outing’ herself with Belinda (and all too soon revealing herself also as A.N. Roquelaure), Rice let the world know that she was a prolific writer of all kinds of fiction and proud to be so. In fact, the plot of Belinda, which I will only reveal enough of to make my point here, sees the main character confronted with the fact that he is coming to create art that is changing his life, is the most important stuff he has ever made, but will, if revealed, certainly jeopardize the art he is known for and has gained his popularity from.

 

Yes, art imitates life and vice versa.

 

I loved me some Anne Rice from here on in… as if I didn’t love the lady already! I even met her around this time and had a quick yet spirited exchange with her at a book signing, where she called me “darling.” And seeing as I was undergoing my own little mini-artistic consideration at the time, beginning to write erotica for the first time, while penning children’s songs and writing mainstream sci-fi, I could relate to the story of Belinda and what it seemed to mean to Anne Rice.

 

So, now with this wonderful writer, fantastically friendly lady, and spectacular erotica writer dead, I felt I needed to take a column here and pay tribute, in my small way, to one of the best writers of our age, Anne Rice.