Sunday, April 30, 2006

I dreamed I went back to R.A.C. Again

I dreamed I went back to R.A.C again.

I was sitting in the reception area. Pure dread. I swore I'd never return, but there I was, back in my waking nightmare. Around the corner, I heard office noises, but no voices. Then the steady click of black pumps moving over a parquet floor sounded down the hallway. The typing on computer keyboards picked up to a frantic pace. My heart stopped.

The Princess of Darkness turned the corner. Her elbows pressed hard against her waist as she walked so that her scrawny forearms jutted ahead of her. Her hands turned palm down to the floor. Long, glistening red fingernails were a constant reminder that she had gutted and eaten employees alive before. I had no proof, but I swore she was once a prison matron for a South American dictator. Or Jurassic Park.

Instead of fleeing, I followed her past rows of desks where sullen, silent employees wore shades of gray and couldn't lift their eyes to meet mine. I searched the blank faces for my old co-workers, Struggling Actress and Lives In A Glass Closet, but the nightmare was for me alone.

POD opened the double doors of the big corner office. I went inside. As usual, it took a moment for my eyesight to adjust to the dim lighting. I took a seat before the huge desk. Wreathed in swirling cigarette smoke, a shadowy figure waited for me. Office noir. Gin glazed eyes were the only distinct facial feature I could see in the haze. I thought he was about to speak, but the Hideous Troll launched into a prolonged phlegmy cough. He continued wheezing. He was struggling for breath. My lungs were about to burst in sympathy, but then I remembered that in his office there never was any pity, so I got over it. The POD stood behind me. Her talons gripped my shoulder too close to my jugular for comfort. POD spoke fluent phlegm and understood what the Hideous Troll said. I had no clue, but the interview was over.

For some reason, I took a seat at a desk and began to work. Color drained from my skin. Things were almost the same, but different enough that I wanted to ask questions. I knew better than to talk though. There was a reason Struggling Actress, Lives In A Glass Closet, and I passed notes like third graders when we worked together. We used to hide them under the sink in the bathroom rather than dare pass them by hand. We were watched. Some days, sheets of alternating handwriting bore witness to our struggle to maintain our sanity. They were conversations of shared misery peppered with longings to escape. I was tempted to go see if one was still stuffed in the U-bend of the pipes.

About once every six months I suffer through that bitter nostalgia. The absolute absurdity of that place should make me roll my eyes and laugh, but it doesn't. Years later it's still too real.

Dream time is quirky, so I have no idea how long I sat at that desk. For some reason, even though I'm consciously aware that I'm having a nightmare, I always try to make a go of it, try to prove to them that I am, above all, professional. Not that they care. But I do. The nightmare thankfully ends the way it always does - with me grabbing my stuff, telling POD I won't work there again, and walking out the door. They never try to talk me into staying. They know I'll be back.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

All Hail the Serious Writer

I was sailing the mighty Los Angeles River on my golden barge ala Cleopatra, being fed grapes by a scantily clad dancing girl while watching the broad backs of my oarsmen glisten with sweat, and thinking life was pretty damn sweet, when I received a message from The Serious Writer.

Occasionally, The Serious Writer goes on a mission to save me from myself.

TSW: "I saw your latest story." *long email sigh* "So, you're still writing erotica."

ME: "Yup."

TSW: "You could be writing, you know, serious stuff."

ME: "Are you talking Thomas Hardy makes-you-want-to-slit-your-wrists serious? No interest."

TSW: "At least his stuff is literature."

This is the heart of any conversation with The Serious Writer.

ME: "You mean like the collected works of Anais Nin and the Story of O? Not to mention deSade. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Story of the Eye, Lolita..." (Few of which I like, but that's beside the point here. We're discussing merit in the eyes of a certain group of people.)

TSW: "Those are classics, not literature."

ME: "I concede that there is a difference." (Gone With the Wind might be a classic, but literature?)

TSW: "The point is, you should be using your talent to create works that have some literary merit, not, as you keep calling it, wank fiction."

This is the always the conversation. It never varies. I suppose it's a back handed compliment in a way. The Serious Writer feels I have talent, but that it's somehow wasted. I, on the other hand, feel that The Serious Writer is a pretentious genre snob with deep seated sexual issues.

ME: "I see that you also had an erotica piece published recently."

TSW: *if it's possible to sputter indignantly via email, TSW writer is doing it* "That's an old, old piece. I submitted it a very long time ago, before I got serious about my writing. I would have pulled it, but I'd already promised it to them."

ME: "That makes it perfectly all right then." *Thinking maybe TSW isn't selling the literary works.* "So, bottom line here. What are the perks of being a serious writer?"

TSW: "Perks?"

ME: "Yeah. Perks."

TSW: "Well, for one, you're taken seriously."

ME: "And?"

TSW: "What do you mean, 'And?' That's it. People take your writing seriously."

Ah, but I already take my writing seriously. And I seriously don't care what other people think of me, especially some mysterious and fabled group of intellectuals who are self-appointed arbiters of 'what is worthy' and 'what we sneer at.' Besides, I'm not ready to give up my glamorous erotica writer's life just yet. I doubt Thomas Hardy ever got fanned on a hot day by a Chippendales dancer wearing a sparkly thong.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Honest, It Was Him (This Time)

When the SO and I get in trouble in public for our snarky remarks and/or behavior, it's usually because I set us off. I admit it. I whisper sotto voce comments to the SO, and soon he's either bought in to my cunning (and yet socially unacceptable) plan, or he's stealing my Dorothy Parkeresque comments and trying to pass them as his own. (But he lacks my timing and delivery. I've made him shoot sodas out his nose. He only earns snorts and guffaws.)

Yes, I was the one who tried to buy a Bishop's miter in Rome, and wanted my name embroidered on the back like they do at Disneyland.

Yes, I am the one who takes my nieces to art galleries and sends them off on penis scavenger hunts.

Yes, I'm always the one making my nephews giggle during religious services and funerals.

But this time I was completely innocent - of instigating anything. I will cop to a lesser plea of upping the ante.

MLS soccer season started April 1 (appropriately enough). We didn't make it to a live game until last weekend. It was a cold, drizzly night. (As an aside, my special thanks to #9 of the away team. Thank you so very much for all those warm-up exercises you did right in front of me. Thank you for wearing your shorts so damn tight and not wearing underwear. Thank you for bending down to touch your toes so that those shorts had to s-t-r-e-t-c-h over your very nice muscular ass, over and over, and over again. *Sigh* I LOVE soccer.)

Where was I? Oh yeah.

At halftime, as the teams left the pitch, the announcer told us that a season ticket holder had a special announcement to make. Immediately, my mental warning flags were waving. I should have gone to the ladies room. But no. I stayed in my seat.

Sure, I like love. I love love. But there's a time and place for everything, and a soccer stadium where 20,000 people are trapped as unwilling witnesses to your schmaltzy personal business is not the time or the place. As he read his little speech about how much he loved his wife and their two allegedly adorable children, I made sounds like a puking dog. Only the SO could hear me though.

When we got to the part where the man asked his wife to renew their vows, it was the SO who shouted, "Say No!"

People in our section cracked up.

I couldn't let that go, so I added, "You Can Do Better!"

Oh sure, they tried to look horrified, but I could see people stifling their giggles.

Then the SO yelled, "Run!" which kind of served a double purpose, because by then the ushers were converging on our seats. Our section was openly laughing as we sprinted up the stairs.

So you can see, he started it this time. Me? Completely innocent.

On the way home, I got to thinking about that whole smarmy display of affection. If I had a season ticket, maybe they'd hand me an open mike. Oh sure, I'd tell them it was for something completely inncocent. No time delay button. An audience in the thousands. Excellent. The possibilities boggle even my wicked imagination. Time to start saving my pennies.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Crashing America

I finished reading Crashing America by Katia Noyes this weekend.

It was one of the books I picked up on my San Francisco trip.

Crashing America is about a street kid named Girl from San Francisco in search of her identity and family. Her mother committed suicide years before and her father seems to think of her as an embarrassing inconvenience.

During my fuck-up years, I ran with a couple searchers like Girl. They were great dreamers, but had no focus, ability, or emotional tools to build their futures. Katia has done a great job of capturing the character. Through Girl's roadtrip, I kept thinking, "Yes, seen it, been there." And then the inevitable groan as Girl pinged between bad decisions and the fate she couldn't stop from driving herself towards.

This is an excellent first novel. I hope to see more of Katia's work in the future.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Congratulations Anna and Brianne!

Ah, love....

A big congratulations from the SO and I on your commitment ceremony! We were honored to host your reception. You know our door is always open for you. We wish you happiness. Hugs and kisses to you both.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Greg Herren's reading

Getting LA writers together is usually difficult, but when they heard the Greg Herren would be reading from his new book Mardi Gras Mambo, we had a lot of positive responses. Angelinos reserve the right to flake on an invite without cause or apology, and a few did, but A Different Light in West Hollywood was packed for the event.

Kate Dominic, D. Travers Scott, Greg, and I went to dinner before the reading. Greg knew Kate, but not me and I don't think he knew Trav before. It was sweet of him to give us his time. I kept having those fan moments of, "My god, I'm talking to Greg Herren. Too cool!" I'm more than a fan of his writing though. The past two years of his life have been rough. Read his blog for some insight on how bad events come slamming out of nowhere and land right on him. But he keeps getting up and fighting and living and writing. I'm awed by his internal strength.

After dinner, we walked over to A Different Light for the reading and met up with Trebor Healy. The excerpt Greg chose was pretty funny if you've ever rolled your eyes over stupid tourists staggering down Bourbon Street at three in the afternoon. I guess if you've ever been drunk and mugged in the French Quarter you might not find it so hilarious, but I enjoyed it. I learned there's more to throws than I imagined. I promise I will never think of them as just beads again.

I'm dying to get into this book and get reacquainted with Scotty, Frank, and Colin, as well as the whole Bradley family. (I'll review once I've read it.) Writing mysteries is beyond me, but I sure love to read them. Greg wrote this novel pre-Katrina. In the post-K world, this book may leave a lingering bittersweet longing for what once was, but maybe that's another good reason to pick it up.

Keeping Ahead of the Curve

I’ve been living off high doses of caffeine, Tylenol, and nicotine for the last two days as I've been trying to outrun a headache. I’ve reached pill saturation level. I absolutely cannot swallow another one. Even now, remembering the smell of the tomato sauce on my dinner last night is almost unbearable. Smoking helps, but afterwards I feel worse. I have so much caffeine in my blood that even though I was exhausted last night it took me hours to fall asleep. Breakfast was three shots of espresso and a migraine pill to jolt me back to a functioning level. Inside my head feels like tornado weather – like the barometer is dropping, the air is getting thick and still, and dark clouds are on the horizon. All I’m asking is to keep ahead of the curve until 7PM tonight. That's only four more hours. I think I can make it. By then, everything I have to get done will be finished, and the storm can hit.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


If you're a fan of porn, specifically kink or fetish, you've probably seen Fashionistas by John Stagliano. Ah... but have you seen the stage production?

While on vacation in Las Vegas, I meet with kink writer D.L. King over wood fire pizzas at the Venetian. Roll your eyes if you will, but we talked about the business end of writing for a couple hours, so it was a business lunch. We even had the requisite martinis. Can't get much more authentic than that!

D.L mentioned there was a show based on the movie Fashionistas (Had I heard of it? Of course, sweetheart. I own a copy.) and was I interested in seeing it? Being the dedicated erotica writer that I am, I'm always willing to do my research, even if I'm on vacation. A live show based on that movie? I was there! We hiked down to the Aladdin (soon to be remade over into Planet Hollywood - ugh) to their Krave theater and bought our tickets.

Being a dependable reporter, after I drooled over a couple scenes, I whipped out a piece of paper and took brief notes. Very brief. The male and female dancers kept distracting me with flesh. And boots. There was a lot of high-heeled shiny vinyl to enjoy, a scene with some foot worship, and a very hot pair of ballet shoes towards the end.

The dominance/seduction scene was the most incredible stylized sex/dance sequence I've ever seen. Added bonus: right in front of me, two guys in leather fetish gear working their own scene, and on the far end of the stage, two women together. Absolutely amazingly hot.

The "we must increase our bust" dance sequence was so damn funny. The ass sequence that followed didn't do much for me until the female dancers pressed their very nice butts against sheets like body-length dental dams and a male dancer at first bit at the moving targets and then buried his face into the cleft. Whew!!!

We sat in the cheap seats which were close to the stage. It was great, but we missed the acrobats on hoops and other stuff that went on above and behind us, so you might want to spring for the better seats further back.

Every scene had strengths, so it's hard to pick out a favorite. The kitty/pony girls pulling the silver chariot? Nice. The woman in the jester outfit dragging around her gagged boy on a leash? Lovely. The cage coming down from the ceiling with a chained woman in full face mask and killer ballet shoes? It was sensory overload.

The music was incredible too. They had a fantastic drummer augmenting cuts from Evanescence, Madonna, Tool, Lords of Acid, and Crystal Method. The best though was the big dance sequence/bondage scene involving a huge rope spider's web that was performed to Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin. Oh. My. God.

Even if you don't know the story - yes, Fashionistas has a story line - if you like fetish wear, great bodies (no fake breasts that I could tell. Yay!), hot hot hot stylized sex scenes, and incredible dancing, I suggest you check out this show.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Story up on Clean Sheets

Slipped my mind that it was this week, but my story Rekindle is up on Clean Sheets.

This is the only hetero vanilla story I have ever written. I tossed the gauntlet down and picked it back up - just to see if I could make it interesting to me. My good lord is it romantic. I'd forgotten about that too. Enjoy.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Wild Creatures

I just finished reading The Wild Creatures by Sam D'Allesandro.

This won't sound right, but I had to force myself to read it. I kept slowing down to study it, reading it like a writer, not as a reader. I wanted to enjoy it on the reader level first, but some passages were so incredible that I caught myself re-reading them over several times instead of moving on.

Several stories and passages I recognized from the reading at Skylight Books. I thought, at the time, that it might be Kevin Killian's reading of Teddy Kennedy alone that convinced me to buy it, but I picked it up anyway.

This will be one of those rare books I'll pour over more than once. This book will be on the top shelf of my writer's bookcase near my computer, in easy reach, although I hope at some point I'll have read it so often that it will have sunk into me at a cellular level and I'll only open it when I need the cues to bring it back to fresh memory, like hearing the first words of the mourner's kaddish prompts the rest to come to my mouth.

But what about the stories? Speedboys brings me back to my summer days as a feral child when we lived in Oklahoma and Colorado. It is brief and perfect. Giovanni's Apartment is outstanding, but I can't begin to explain why. It simply is. Nothing Ever Just Disappears is heartbreaking in subtle shades that don't impact until you pull back from the story and realize the bigger picture you've been looking at.

This is the way stories should be told. Writers constantly search for books on style and character. This will be my textbook for that, and more.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Beautifully Worthless

I may never speak ill of poetry again.

I took The Beautifully Worthless by Ail Liebegott with me to San Francisco because it fit inside my purse and I always have a book squirreled away somewhere. The trunk of my car is a library. But I sat in the hotel atrium reading Blue of Noon by Georges Bataille instead. It turned out to be a good decision and a bad one - good because I didn't mind setting aside Blue of Noon when our plans changed - bad because I hate an unfinished book so I forced myself to endure Blue of Noon through to the end before I picked up The Beautifully Worthless. (Why do I do that? I was bored by Story of the Eye. I should have know better than to read another of Bataille's works.)

Then I couldn't find my copy. Losing a book drives me insane. Blue of Noon mocked me while I searched the house, the car, my suitcase. It seemed to be everywhere I looked; The Beautifully Worthless was nowhere to be found.

Yesterday, it reappeared. The SO was out of town. It was raining. The cats were curled together on my pillow. Perfect reading conditions. I got comfortable and opened the cover. I was glad I didn't try to read this book in a hotel atrium. It deserved my full attention and a quiet room.

Because this collection flows so well as a whole work, it seems wrong to mention individual pieces. It is, sort of, a story about a run away waitress and her dog. It may sum up to that, but each piece is an entirely different country.

One entry in particular has a strong grip on my memory because it touches on a story that resurfaces through my life.

When I was in high school, I was an avid hiker and planned to travel the southern span of the Appalachian Trail before I submitted to college. We were training for it, taking weekend hikes with fully loaded packs, breaking in boots, camping in snow, getting in shape for the long trek when our leader told us that two women had been murdered along the trail, so the trip was off. He was looking at me when he told the group. Years later, I read Bill Bryson's book about hiking the trail (and was appalled by his lack of preparation!) when he mentioned the murders. It was the first time I heard that the women were lesbians. That they were a couple. And I thought back to the leader looking at me. It never occurred to me to ask him why they were murdered or who they were. (Sadly enough, when you're female, the idea that someone will murder you simply because you're female isn't a big stretch for the imagination. Fact of life.) Several years after reading Bryson's book, I heard that someone was charged for those murders. I was amazed that anyone in law enforcement cared enough to keep the case open. I tried putting together those bits of information into a full story, but it was never clear what happened, or even when, and if those facts were muddled with another murder of two women on the trail that happened a different year. I never found out if the same person was charged with both sets of murders. Sometimes I wondered if there was one murder or two.

Then I read Ali's words:

"The women hikers were murdered for being lesbians.
The sound of that drones in and out,
soon I don't know what happened exactly-"

And for once poetry meant something to me. Something personal. It was a BAM! between the eyes moment of connection for me. I didn't have to diagram her words to know what they meant.

As I read through this incredible work, I was turning down page corners so that I knew where to go back and read again (Death. Love. About her dog.) but had to stop because almost every corner was bent. There's so much to be found in her words. I'm crushing on this book. I'm starting over from page one. Share the infatuation. Get a copy.

Saturday, April 01, 2006


My fetish story Chill is up on ERWA.

Fetish presents a unique problem for an erotica writer. Perhaps it is too fine of a point, but most fetish stories are kink, meaning that the character is, like the reader, aroused by the visual aspect of leather, latex, shoes, etc. but stories rarely show those elements as being necessary for sexual satisfaction. Since true fetish is probably rare, most readers have a hard time connecting an object, scent, or texture to sexual desire. Once the story examines that, you risk losing your reader.

It's hard to make the non-sexual sexually interesting to anyone without that fetish. From the beginning, you're telling a story about sex that probably won't arouse the reader. Knowing that going in, I try to make the story as sensual as possible, but I realize that it's a losing battle.

So why write about fetish? For me, the physical act of sex is nowhere near as interesting as what's going on in the brain. And nothing examines the role of the mind over the body as clearly as extreme fetish.