Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Macho Sluts, by Pat Califia
(pb; 1988: erotic/BDSM story anthology)
From the back cover:
"Macho Sluts showcases the best erotic fiction from Pat Califia. Here she explores S/M fantasy in previously taboo territory: a lesbian's encounter with three gay male cops, a leatherman who loves to dominate other topmen, an incestuous Victorian triangle, a lucky girl who gets to take on eight topwomen, and more - even a dash of vanilla."
This is one of the best BDSM anthologies I've read because Califia's writing reflects his (she had a sex change operation) mission to not only produce hot wank writing, but to educate his audience about the politics and social/personal dynamics that shape the lives of LGBT people, in and out of the sack.
The blurb on the front cover isn't hyperbolic salesmanship: this is a "landmark erotic" work - for those readers/writers who want to go beyond the usual pornoriffic/romantica/vanilla fluffiness that often suffuses erotic anthologies.
Macho Sluts is worth owning for sex writers and readers, not only for its diverse, intriguing tale-telling, but for its educational and assuredly subversive tone.
Review, story by story:
1.) "Introduction" is exactly that: a non-fiction passionate, mostly positive piece that honestly shows what sexual freedom (including BDSM) entails, and how restricting those freedoms is a dangerous, life-negative practice and mindset.
This is an informative, wonderful, logical article that ably refutes the venomous, small-minded emotionalism of those who would deny others the right to seek what makes more open-minded folk happy in the bedroom.
2.) "Jessie" - Liz, a lesbian, hooks up with a BDSM aficionado (Jessie) for an overnight session that yields more than the usual dominative/submissive orgasms.
Excellent, romantic, engaging story with characters that are relatable (on key levels) and also worth rooting for.
3.) "The Finishing School" - Boundary-widening tale about a family of women - Berenice, her daughter (Clarissa) and Clarissa's aunt (Elise) - and their incestuous love-play and history.
While "Finishing" initially squicked me out, I respect that the story keeps with the spirit of Califia's oeuvre - that is, brazenly and intelligently pushing the erotica envelope. His writing ranks among his best writing, so, for me, it (mostly) dispels my discomfort with the subject matter.
4.) "The Calyx of Isis" (novella) - Alex, a dyke, vigorously tests the sincerity of her lover's love via sexual punishment by a dozen BDSM lesbians hired at a club.
This 92-word tale incorporates a variety of sex play, characters, and their attitudes. Occasionally, with so many characters, the story threatens to become a dramatic plug-the-orifices-by-numbers catalogue, but for the most part, Califia avoids that, pulling off a piece of work that shows different levels of domination, love and respect, with Califia's inherent gender and political messages intact.
Excellent, ambitious novella.
5.) "The Hustler" - A cross-dressing butch woman (Noh Mann) revisits her socio-sexual history as she angles to get ahead in a dystopian hellscape of pain and fleeting bliss.
Intense, succinct-in-its-descriptions, stand-out work that bristles with natural, raw urban energy.
6.) "The Surprise Party" - Solid, relatively light-toned piece about a dyke's secret fantasy of getting kidnapped and rough trade f**ked by three gay men finds real-life, good-natured expression.
7.) "The Vampire" - So-so, chatty entry about about a bloodsucker (Kerry) and her adoring stalker (Iduna).
8.) "The Spoiler" - An emotionally out-of-touch Dom discovers that ignorance regarding his long-term effect on others may become the reason for his downfall.
Interesting, effective, educational blend of gamic/subgenre philosophy, drama and sex-play.
9.) "A Dash of Vanilla" - Exemplary, melancholic roller coaster of a cunnilingus story, about a lesbian with low self-esteem, who's in a relationship with a selfish lover.
10.) "A Note on Lesbians, AIDS, and Safer Sex" - Non-fiction, practical/educational piece about the titular subjects. Excellent for its informational writing.