Wednesday, February 17, 2016

One Seven Two: Story Arcs

I've been thinking about stories I'd like to see told.

You know a few of the ideas I've had in my head about erotica. The web and e-publishing have offered up new opportunities for erotica, though I'm not at all sure that the stories out there have touched on tales I'd like to read.

There's the classic s/m tale, of course--- the one where the lovely and innocent young girl discovers the submissive in herself and offers her body up to experience and pleasure through submission and erotic pain. That's "Story of O", of course, and a tale I've loved since my early teens. I've read it in all sorts of permutations, read variations suffused with all the different levels of consent and ecstasy-through-suffering. "Story of O" remains the classic, mind you.  More than half a century on,  nothing else comes close.

Still...whatever became of the reverse tale? Where is the tale--- one no less dreamy and romantic ---about the young man who becomes a dominant? In s/m novels, the male dominant (at least in hetero-erotica) always appears full-fledged, handsome and implacable, cruel and sexually adept. Usually moneyed as well--- after all, dungeons and accoutrements are expensive. But where's the tale of the young man--- intelligent, literate, educated ---who learns to be the one tightening the blindfold and wielding the whip? Where are the long talks he has with the girls who draw him onward? Where are the interior monologues where he tries to reconcile sexual pleasure with fear of being a cliche or a deeper fear of actually becoming abusive? Where are the comic moments of dealing with recalcitrant knots or trying to buy riding whips while the equestrian-shop clerks look on, smirking? Where's the moment when he has to take a deep breath and risk telling the lovely girl across the table on a first date what his tastes are? Where's that scene--- the boy terrified of terrifying the girl, the girl intrigued and amazed and a bit afraid, the two of them trying to use expensive liberal arts educations to talk it all through? (Yes, it does need Whit Stillman's touch and Greta Gerwig's voice)

Alec Waugh--- Evelyn's brother ---did a forgotten tale back in the late 1960s called "A Spy in the Family". It was a very clever little s/m comedy--- thirty-ish wife of a very grey British civil servant discovers herself as a bisexual dominatrix and becomes both domme and a successful agent of Her Majesty's Secret Service. You might find it in a library somewhere, and it is worth tracking down. It's a story I enjoyed, and one I need to read again. It has some of the conversations I'd want to hear--- the what-does-this-all-mean-about-me discussions, though done in a marvelously elliptical British upper-middle way. I do wonder, though, what those same conversations would be like between two reasonably hip people in America now.

There's a tale I do want to try myself, if only as an exercise. There's a website that archives hundreds--- quite possibly a few thousand ---erotica stories submitted across the last twenty years. The stories are organized by genre and topic, which usually means activities and kinds of partners. There's one genre called "celeb-parody" that gets a fair number of stories--- the author's stand-in gets to have sex with the actress/model/singer who obsesses him, or things happen to degrade/punish the female celebrity for not being with the author.  You get the picture. I've only seen one or two where there's been some attention to background, to the central figure herself. I do think there are possibilities here, though. I don't have any taste for revenge tales,  mind you. I can't see writing one of those.

Yet I would like to try a story where a lovely model ends up briefly with someone utterly alien to her world. There's no plausible way to make it anything more than a one-night or one weekend thing, of course. It's even hard to find ways for someone in her job and career niche to have a night away from her entourage and assistants, to find ways to give her a free night. The challenge is to find some plausible way to bring the characters together and watch them talk themselves into a one-night stand. His motivations aren't difficult, though he'd have to be terrified of getting it wrong, of ending up vilified  and mocked on social media or of having her lawyers calling. She couldn't be presented as vapid or slutty or just drunk or on drugs. It couldn't be like that. She'd have to be someone intelligent and self-aware, someone who'd be able to understand why she's doing this--- and make the reader believe it. I'd want to show the two of them talking, to show the two of them deciding that this was worth doing, and that they could live with themselves.

He'd be older, of course. Yes, he'd be me, or a close approximation. Did you ever think it wouldn't be? The next morning, he'd smile ruefully and tell her how Letters to Penthouse it all was (she's in her early twenties--- she probably wouldn't remember Letters to Penthouse) and she'd shrug and tell him it was only weird because of her job, that in any big city  out there there'd been dozens and dozens of random hook-ups between totally incongruous people the night before. Oh, I know who I want the central figure to be (you're free to guess), and a little research at YouTube makes me think she has the intelligence and the voice to be the figure I'd imagine. I may do the story just as an exercise. The erotica itself is likely to be secondary to the two characters talking themselves into bed. I may well have to try this. Let's see if I can still tell stories somewhere outside of my head.

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