Airing Dirty Laundry During Tomorrow’s ‘In the Flesh’ Reading Series (With Plenty of Kink and Cupcakes)

Written by Ashna Ali on . Posted in Arts & Film, Posts.


As an aspiring writer in my teens, I used a number of teen websites to create a network of other young amateurs, among which I found a crop of male erotica writers who, unsurprisingly, were the easiest to befriend. For months my adolescent mind found excitement and titillation in the honest fantasies of my peers as we weaved together through puberty. I thought myself particularly avant-garde, answering questions about female desires as a matter of research, and correcting grammar on essays about dreams that left the writers’ sheets covered in sweat or worse. I was a privileged insider – until I became a subject. Reading the fantasies of a complete stranger was one thing, but fantasies about me were quite another. I backpedaled out of my oh-so-iconoclast image faster than you could say O-face, and never quite thought to mix literature and sex so intimately again.

Last month, I realized that I have by now lost the heeby-jeebies associated with pervy little boys. The time had come to dig my hands into the wide world of New York erotica that awaited spread-eagle at the appropriately named Happy Ending lounge at Rachel Kramer Bussel’s "In the Flesh Erotica Series: LGBT Night." The next one takes place tomorrow (with free candy and cupcakes),  and although it won’t  highlight girl-on-girl action in particular, it’s sure  to expose plenty of kinky secrets.

The small basement lounge was packed for the previous event with amorous gay and lesbian couples lining the bar, cliques composed of various gender and sexual identities and a group of nervously pacing men, obviously tourists to things overtly sexual and LGBT. No pervy little boys in sight. To celebrate the happy, healthy, slippery sex that was about to be described in loin-tingling detail, the tables offered free candy and delicious chocolate cupcakes.

The lineup was stuffed to the brim. The much-celebrated host and erotica writer Rachel Kramer Bussel—wearing a pink T-shirt with "Vagina is for Lovers" printed across the front—told a story of an unexpected threesome. Trans advocate Cris Beam (Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T) read an entry titled "Butch" from her latest work, Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex, describing with touching sensitivity her attraction to the girls who like to be boys and what makes them hot. Amie M. Evans, former burlesque and high femme drag performer read snippets from her work, keeping us hanging, halting our breath in erotica-interruptus.

Spokenword poet and author of Self-Diagnosed Lactose Intolerance, Aimee Herman and the weaving, warm, throaty, tickling whisper of her voice and cadence promised to burst anything anyone had pent up in their nether regions, as she near-sang fantasies of a neighbor’s sexual world while listening to him masturbate behind thin walls. 

Carly Milne, proud new curator of "In the Flesh L.A.," told a story that will forever remain in my memory. It centered around an all-girl bathhouse where she watched a game take place in the pool where women wearing strap-ons sat on one end, and one-by-one, the members of a handful of teams had to swim to them from the other end and put colored condoms on the dildos with their mouths. The first team to have each member successfully put on the condoms won. (Nobody won.)

Cecilia Tan, reading from her new collection White Flames, told a hilarious story about exploring a uniform fetish with a member of a marching band, to great laughter and a few inspired shivers.

The only men in the series that evening, Charlie Vazquez, shared an experimental piece about a near-hallucinogenic rendezvous with a beatnik prophet who calls himself Jesus. Bob Smith
read from his naughty new novel, Selfish and Perverse, where desires, nervousness and realms before unexplored reveal themselves in an internal monologue in a sauna. The men and women of the series were doms, subs, butch, boy, girl, gay, bi, trans, fans of toys, fans of uniforms, fans of fantasy, and stood there ballsy and proud and…endearing. Those of us who are not so ballsy could take comfort that even some of the most prominent erotica writers in NYC still giggled and blushed when airing their very, very dirty laundry, and the room still did turn slightly into the confession segment of a high school sleepover.

I left with a tingle in my spine I simply couldn’t shake, seeds planted for a flurry of possibilities. Isabel Allende wrote in Aphrodite, her memoir about food and sex, "For women, the best aphrodisiacs are words. The G-spot is in the ears. He who looks for it below there is wasting his time." A friend who accompanied me asked, "So, is it time for this little Catholic school girl to head to a bookstore?" Oh yes. And make a phone call or two perhaps.

The next In the Flesh Erotic Reading Series is Thursday, July 17 at the Happy Ending Lounge, 302 Broome St. The lineup includes: Rachel Shukert (Have You No Shame?), Samara O’Shea (Note to Self,
Letterlover.net), D.L. King (Erotica Revealed), Scott Pomfret (Since My
Last Confession
) and Susan Wright (A Pound of Flesh)

Photo by Stacie Joy

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