July 22, 2019

"Good erotica is hard to write; graceful and convincing audio drama is hard to produce; and the awkwardness of flawed attempts at both is excruciating."

"Think of the wrong-note sex scenes you’ve read in books, or in those bad-sex-writing awards that come out every year, or in excerpts from embarrassing novels by disgraced public figures. Reading them silently, you might chuckle and wince. Now imagine a stranger’s voice unctuously reading them right into your ears. The only appropriate response is heebie-jeebies. But there was a startling exception... Dipsea... [In one Dipsea story, the female character] sounds present, non-creepy; she avoids the pitfalls of over-obvious self-description... Her narration doesn’t use an 'Ooh—sex is around the corner!' tone.... The language is straightforward... You hear realistic, non-gross sex noises—the depressing yips and 'Oh, yeah's of porn are almost entirely absent on Dipsea.... Narrative balance and a well-imagined scenario can be hard to achieve in fantasy, even [when you're doing your own fantasizing]. The comedian Jen Kirkman, on her 2007 album 'Self Help,' articulates this in a bit called 'Underdeveloped Sexual Fantasies.' In sexual fantasizing, 'Guys need a visual,' she says. 'Women don’t need that. I need a story.' But if the story doesn’t work, she says, she gets confused and falls asleep. She tries fantasizing about a sexy movie star, but she can’t just think about him '“in some friggin’ vacuum that makes no sense'—How did she meet him? Why is he interested in her? 'I thought he was married. Is he still married? Because I don’t want to be an adulterer,' she goes on. 'I thought he lived in France. Is he visiting? Am I going to France?'"

Writes Sarah Larson in "The Audio App That’s Transforming Erotica" (The New Yorker).

49 comments:

Rob said...

Is the male counterpart to Jen Kirkman named Ken Jerkman?

Expat(ish) said...

I had a girlfriend in high school who introduced me to Anais Nin - Delta of Venus, and Little Birds. Whoa, small town boy brain blown. I believe that was the same week I started and finished Catch-22.

It was quite a summer. And it cemented my love of a good book, though Erica Jong later ruined my taste for written erotica.

-XC

Kevin said...

What do women want?

Even female erotica writers don't seem to know.

mccullough said...

“I met him at the candy store. He turned around and smiled at me.”

hombre said...

Interesting how this comports with the Epstein-Clinton post. Preoccupation?

Sex has moved from activity to obsessive pastime in the USA. Sodom and Gomorrah revisited. Thanks, Hollywood!

Expat(ish) said...

Oh, and even if you aren't a Letterkenny fan (and why aren't you?) this is a great sendup of "porn talk."

-XC

Shouting Thomas said...

I do heartily recommend “Fleabag” on Amazon.

The heroine is a 20 something woman cast adrift by godlessness and feminism.

Promiscuous fucking is the only worthwhile endeavor she can think of and it makes her absolutely miserable.

The show also satirizes the world of bad art produced by the truckload by feminist women, over praised and rewarded with participation trophies.

buwaya said...

Women seem to want to rationalize instinct.
Ok, "rationalize" has "rational" in it, which is wrong.
Perhaps they need a story after the fact, not before.
Because in my experience there is no story before.
The sale is made, usually, with a glance.

hombre said...

Kevin said...
“What do women want? Even female erotica writers don't seem to know.”

Women want to have sex without being responsible for it. Female erotica writers do know this.

buwaya said...

Granted, the delivery may take some time after the deal is struck.
One bit of advice to men is to look to logistics, well beforehand.

Sebastian said...

"'Women don’t need that. I need a story.' But if the story doesn’t work, she says, she gets confused and falls asleep."

See, women are special. Told ya.

Actually, they are, but that's a different story.

EDH said...

Next up, ASMR porn (autonomous sensory meridian response).

"And no, it's not that thing where you jerk-off with a belt around your neck."

hombre said...

Wow! All three posts so far. SEX!!! WooHoo!

AAT said...

Portnoy’s Complaint had a couple of good sex scenes. Mostly the best ones leave the details to the readers. It’s like writing class, don’t over describe your characters. You want her to be a hot readhead? Maybe if it’s important to the plot, but if not, maybe many of your your readers don’t like redheads the way you do? Maybe they like “mid century brunettes”?

AAT said...

“"'Women don’t need that. I need a story.’"

That’s why men lie and women wear makeup. <<-- Old joke. It’s not a new insight.

AAT said...

“Erica Jong later ruined my taste for written erotica.”

You mean the lady who wrote the feminist novel about a woman who left her small dicked husband for a better man with a bigger dick? That’ was great stuff! Groundbreaking. It was a true story about a woman being freed from oppression.

Although she later said that the way you avoid getting sued when writing about a man is to give him a small dick in your book so he will be ashamed to sue.

Lucid-Ideas said...

She did what? Oh. My. God. There's bad sex and good sex. Good sex is where it's at even though bad sex is still pretty good. I'm shocked. She never struck me as 'one of those' types of people. But now that the cat is out of the bag, I guess it figures. Prim and proper in public, uncontrollable freak in private.

So Dave, now that we've laid our cards on the table, how about her number? You wouldn't mind right? Hell, you can watch...

Tom T. said...

"Erotica" seems typically to be pr0n burdened with non-sexual writerly ambitions. To me, Nin, Jong, and Roth turned sex into pathology (in Nin's case probably inadvertently) and wrote like their goal was to extinguish sexual desire everywhere.

Fernandistein said...

The main guy's girlfriend does phone sex for a living.

Gospace said...

Good erotica? That's a thing?

Oh, wait- romance is a genre, and certainly, judging from the covers, is erotica.

Not on my reading list. Science fiction, adventure novels, and humor for fiction.

Nonapod said...

When it comes to writing about sex fantasies (erotica), women like bodice rippers and men like "I can't believe this happened to me" Penthouse letters. The distinctions between those two styles seem to be abstraction versus explicit description with a veneer of believability.

Carol said...

Ad Council is always underwriting the stupid PSAs that run on AM radio, using little vignettes trying to show guys how to be a Good Father, how to Eat Healthy etc. Totally a waste because who can follow all that dialogue while you're driving along in heavy traffic? And who the hell listens to AM radio anywhere else?

Ad Council, every time. Do taxpayers support that outfit?

bagoh20 said...

Wait, you mean you can actually do that stuff in real life? I thought erotica was science fiction.

Bay Area Guy said...

"Good erotica is hard to write;"

Not for young Bernie Sanders.

madAsHell said...

So, those Penthouse Forum Letters were aimed at women? I'm so confused!!

Name and Address withheld by request.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Sorry, but this is wrong: men & women are the same and have exactly the same mental processes (desires, etc) so it's both sexist and hurtful to say that "men want visuals and don't care about story while women need a story and care less about visuals."

The science is settled. Anyone who disagrees is sexist and must be destroyed.


[How funny is it that there's an app so it's a big deal/worth a story now? There've been subreddits devoted to audio erotica for, what, a decade and a half? But an app!]

tim maguire said...

'I thought he was married. Is he still married? Because I don’t want to be an adulterer,' she goes on. 'I thought he lived in France. Is he visiting? Am I going to France?'"

It's a wonder women masturbate at all.

Bay Area Guy said...

Instead of writing erotica, instead of watching erotica, instead of accessing erotic on one's Iphone, one might consider wining and dining attractive members of the opposite sex to engage to get a shot at actually engaging in erotica.

Just a thought.

Otto said...

Ann as is her wont peers into the basement.
Geez, you are 67, and probably didn't have robust sex life from your history , so just stick to what you do best, not foreplay but wordplay.

AAT said...

“one might consider wining and dining attractive members of the opposite sex to engage to get a shot at actually engaging in erotica.”

Not an option for everybody! After all, you just ruled out unattractive people in your comment right there.

Oso Negro said...

@ McCullough = "that's when I fell for the leader of the pack"

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

'I thought he was married. Is he still married? Because I don’t want to be an adulterer,' she goes on. 'I thought he lived in France. Is he visiting? Am I going to France?'"
Perhaps Paris? They have great shops in Paris! Maybe I can find a great handbag! Yes!!
And shoes!! Yess ! YESSS! Oh Em Gee YES!! YES!! YES!!!

Darrell said...

I always wondered why the ball gag was invented.

PluralThumb said...

The only enemy to sex in any degree of fantasy is silence. Rape in any way does not contribute to a healthy sexual relationship. Only through patience and trust can any person find joy in something as simple as a heart beat. But I am confused about mid-life crisis and literally can not understand what a bucket list is. Erotica is more involved and requires attention like savoring the flavor before getting to the middle of a Tootsie roll Tootsie Pop. I am currently greatful that I am less mature about the emotional and psychologicalal control while mindful of sexual responsibility. Erotica novels are not easy for me to enjoy but rather have been more of a learning of people's lives outside the so called norm. I have read a novel that shocked me more than any porn but not politics. I prefer playful novels vaguely stating, especially as I mature into a cappilar. Thanks.

The Minnow Wrangler said...

There is a huge difference between what men and women want to see and hear. Men don't want "graceful and convincing" they want hot hard action. Women like to be seduced with language and gentle touch. There is nothing wrong with either approach, it is just for different audiences.

Yancey Ward said...

"As we looked up from our copies of the daily Pravda, our eyes locked together for what seemed like days, but really was only a couple of hours. I knew that I would wait for him outside the bread shop for as long as it took for him get out of the express queue."

Bernie Sanders

The Minnow Wrangler said...

If I was so inclined I could probably write pornographic short stories for either gender. Once you get to a certain age you figure out what men and women are looking for. It's not that difficult.

"He gently kissed my neck, moving his soft lips towards my ear, while his hand caressed my breast. I felt my body warming and yielding to his touch."

"She removed her clothes and laid her lush body on the bed, with her pink, wet, vagina exposed. I rammed my rock-hard penis inside her and we writhed together in mutual ecstasy."

PluralThumb said...


I feel pretty
Oh, so pretty
I feel pretty and witty and bright!
And I pity
Any girl who isn't me tonight
I feel charming
Oh, so charming
It's alarming how charming I feel!
And so pretty
That I hardly can believe I'm real
See the pretty girl in that mirror there
Who can that attractive girl be?
Such a pretty face
Such a pretty dress
Such a pretty smile
Such a pretty me!
I feel stunning
And entrancing
Feel like running and dancing for joy
For I'm loved
By a pretty wonderful boy!
Have you met my good friend Maria
The craziest girl on the block?
You'll know her the minute you see her
She's the one who is in an advanced state of shock
She thinks she's in love
She thinks she's in Spain
She isn't in love
She's merely insane
It must be the heat
Or some rare disease
Or too…

tcrosse said...

Faster! Faster! she cried.

BudBrown said...

So where'd the earth move to?

PluralThumb said...

Anger, social resentment, sexual frustration…
Clarice Starling

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

“I was a Flower of the mountain yes
when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used
or shall I wear a red yes
and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall
and I thought well as well him as another
and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes
and then he asked me would I yes
to say yes
my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes
and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes
and his heart was going like mad and yes
I said yes
I will
yes"

Jon Ericson said...

All hail Marx and Lennon?
Or
I think we're all Bozos on this bus?

D 2 said...

What do women want?
That's temporal.

The Minnow Wrangler said...

Otto said...

"Ann as is her wont peers into the basement.
Geez, you are 67, and probably didn't have robust sex life from your history , so just stick to what you do best, not foreplay but wordplay."

What a horrible thing to say. Yeah I know it is totally disgusting that older people enjoy sex but I am a 57 year old newlywed and fill in the blanks. I have no problems in bed and neither does my husband. It's better to have wrinkles, gray hair, and fat, than to have a bunch of emotional "issues".

William said...

That's why Game of Thrones was so popular. The story lines were sexy, and there were lots of boobs to illustrate the narrative.....This last season was a let down. Very sparing with the boobs. I think if Daenerys had gone genocidal while wearing a see through outfit, I could have handled the sudden plot twist better.

PluralThumb said...

If she is witholding boobs, she is not going to swallow. Vitamin D deficiency is not good. My condolences to the gothic era.

madAsHell said...

wining and dining attractive members of the opposite sex to engage to get a shot at actually engaging in erotica.

There are profound economic, and emotional barriers to such activity because the only Dick she wants is a nick-name for a grand kid.

PluralThumb said...

MadAsHell,

That is a difficult statement to respond to.
Personal, but you are not alone.
I am not a professional to dive into your mind.
I have learned from a man who served 34 years
in prison to literally enjoy the so called little in life.
I have met men that would bark or howl @ women
to express and also avoid further anger.
Broadway shows may not be liberal enough
for these men.
I’m stuck in a loop myself.
Finish a University degree.
( In and out of Colleges 6 or more times )
Find a specific lady.
( She was found when we were 18 & 17 years )
Get rich.
( Debts Collectors are very patient with me :)
Have children.
( Somehow had 2 dogs and a cat in a 2 bedroom apt )
When I married to the individual I married,
we could not have kids as per science confirmation.
I could not carry bricks with my high school diploma
to pay for a masters degree wife that needed a break
from almost a PhD in NYC. Thought me a life lesson.
With my anger, I think she may be in England with a
teenage daughter. Life is mysterious, but anger is real.
My anger is like a third rail with no tracks, but if not grounded
properly, I am an asshole. Last that enters my brain is
an outlet. Too many outlets can be be overwhelming,
but helped substitute certain bad habits that I have returned to
at not a complete fault of my own and that gives me hope.
Hope this helps.