I used to read a lot of erotica; and at first I was really digging this form of literary naughtiness. As I was in my late twenties-early thirties during this phase, I got a few “ideas” from these books…but shortly after reading the Beauty Trilogy by Anne Rice Roquelaure, I started to get a little bored by it. Here’s what I remember from the erotica I read:
- Sexually frustrated woman meets a nice guy. Nice guy is into the kink. They get kinky. Woman discovers herself. And they all get their kink on happily ever after.
- Sexually frustrated woman meets a bad boy. Bad boy introduces sexually frustrated woman to kink. Woman discovers herself. And they all get their kink on happily ever after.
The characters were forgettable, and I got the impression they were written to be that way because who wants real, three-dimensional characters in erotica?! Their development went about as deep as the dipping bowls for my salad dressing. There were some erotic offerings in both Science Fiction and Fantasy, and—
Allright, before I continue…I got friends who write erotica and friends who write Science Fiction and Fantasy erotica. I am not saying its all like this. I’m just saying this is the erotica I read in the mid-to-late nineties. Okay?! So if you want to drop snarky comments about how I don’t know any better, you all go right ahead but just track with me here. You’ll get your “happy ending” one way or another! Now…where was I? Oh yeah…
There were some erotic offerings in both Science Fiction and Fantasy, and I found it funny that the aliens, elves, and warlocks featured therein were all…
- Extremely pretty, buff, and chiseled
- Humanoid, ala the original Star Trek: Two arms, two legs, one head
- Into the kink
- Hung like Ron Jeremy
As I did when I burned out on Fantasy, I stopped reading erotica. My attempts to get back into it all met with the same disappointments, and listening to erotica podcasts also left me feeling hollow. Some episodes of Chris Lester’s Metamor City came close to capturing the darker, devious side of my imagination, but could I really call Metamor City an erotica podcast? No, it’s more a Science Fiction-Fantasy epic with the occasional erotic element. So, I would call Lester the podcasting equivalent of a tease. That saucy bitch.
However, award-nominated writer, blogger, podcaster, and Arch Enemy Pip Ballantine launched Erotica ala Carte, and she asked me for an opinion on it. I promised myself that I would not get too snarky (although that is so easy to do with Ballantine) and figured “Okay, at least this will be erotica with an accent, so I can enjoy it for that.” I got on the train for my commute to work, and listened to her first episode…and then listened to it again after I got to work. The next day, on the train ride home, I listened to it a third time. My thought was “This is the first episode? Sweet merciful crapbuckets!”
To add to the awesomeness of this podcast is the concept behind it. Pip puts on the Erotica ala Carte website a survey open to all. Much like you would at a sushi restaurant or an upscale steak house, you choose what you think should appear in a short story she has yet to pen. It is then up to Pip to take the most popular “ingredients” and whip up Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror in her creative kitchen, and then make the dish extra spicy with sexual situations that would make Kim Bassinger and Mickey Rourke blush. So without having an idea of where the story is going to go, our Naughty Chef of New Zealand comes up with sexy speculative fiction for our pleasure.
Take a look at what she has come up with in her first three months:
Pages of Madness. In her first survey results, the audience wanted a librarian in Occupied France. Oh yeah, and the story needed to have a paranormal feel to it. Oh, one more thing — the librarian had to be going insane. The story opens with Fleur who watches from the confines of her neglected library the Nazis stroll into Paris. Our librarian, however, does not care in the slightest as she finds herself caught in her own prison. Her library, she discovers after being there for a time, is haunted by some very possessive spirits; and these spirits — when pleased — do reward her…admirably. She can feel her grip on reality slipping, but a glimmer of hope appears when she meets Valantine, a member of the French Resistance…
Measureless to Man. The chef was then asked for a dish featuring a female protagonist on an orbiting space station, set in 24 hours of a civil war. In deep space we meet Io, a skin-native that discovers her lovers dead on account of a virus contracted on another space station. She has 24 hours before the virus takes her, so Io must brave the security systems of Darkling Station in order to discover its source. We not only get in this story the tension of time slipping by, we are also treated to some extremely delightful cephalopod sex. (And unlike out-of-control hentai where things get over-the-top ugly, there is some tenderness here.) “Measureless to Man” has the potential of becoming a novel, or even a series of novels. In a short span of story, Pip does some fantastic worldbuilding.
The Right of Princes. In her latest creation, Chef Ballantine takes us back to Dark Age Britain where we experience sexual karma from Prince Kenrik’s point-of-view. Let me say that again: Pip is writing this story from a MAN’S point-of-view. The audience wanted her to write from a horny, bored man’s point-of-view. She was also told to write this with a “Three’s Company” kink incorporated…but to tell you how she worked that into the story will give too much away. “Rights of Princes” has my favorite opening so far: “There are two pastimes that are acceptable pursuits for a bored prince, and I have never liked the Martial Arts as my brothers do.” We hear from the Prince himself of breaking his ennui by calling Prima Nocta on an unsuspecting maid. His desires come back to haunt him, and the story ends with poetic justice being served for dessert.
What makes Erotica ala Carte such a delight to listen to, and why I’m anxiously awaiting the next episode, is that this is erotica involving characters I really care about, even the contemptible ones like Prince Kenrik. As expected, you get plenty of nookie; but the sex in previous erotica, I remember, felt thrown in there because it had to be there. A bit contrived, extremely uninteresting, and unessential to what was happening in the story itself. Pip succeeds with Erotica ala Carte in creating compelling characters, intelligent stories, and extremely scintillating scenarios, all on the demand of her listeners. Even if you don’t like erotica, I would challenge you have a listen to this podcast. When you realize Pip does not know what the survey results are going to be from month to month, Erotica ala Carte becomes a wonderful exercise in creativity on-the-fly and on-demand. After three months and three stories (with a Christmas special coming up featuring a character from her podcast, Chasing the Bard), you can expect more surprises from this Top Chef of the South Pacific. My compliments, Miss Ballantine.
Now, the scary bit: Pip is talking about inviting other writers to participate in this “experimental sex” of hers. She has told me that I will be called upon to man the kitchen for a story. As I am the Uber-Nemesis (and I would not have become so had I not been so challenged by Pip) I constantly push myself to produce the best media content, be it podcast, the written word, or otherwise. When called upon by the Dark Kiwi Goddess, I will not flinch. I have chosen to rise to the challenge and see it to its ultimate climax.
Wow. I can’t believe I put it like that. I should be spanked.
Ummm, wait a minute… I mean, uh…
I’ll be in my bunk.