Thinking about Alexa Day’s alternate history steampunk-inspired short story Turnabout Day this week has got me feeling the heat. Steamy, glorious, sultry heat. Her story, after all, is set in Jamaica in August – a place so hot even fire starts to sweat. Before writing this post I looked up the forecast in Kingston. “Dangerous heat index. Limit outdoor exposure.” It’s 91 degrees F but feels like 111. And the big kicker – intense humidity. The kind of humidity that makes your hair more frizzy than sticking your entire hand in an electric socket. Sweat pours down the sides of your face, between your breasts, in rivers down your back. You have to peel away your clothes and then ring them out. Yeah, that kind of humidity. That kind of heat. Some people try to beat it. Me? I say, go ahead. Get hot and bothered.
I wrote a short story years ago that I decided to set in a factory. The jobs people performed there were intentionally ambiguous because, frankly, that mattered not a whit to me. What I was after was the heat. I wanted this nondescript factory to have something to do with welding. Lots of fire, lots of heat, lots of sweat. The characters were covered in it: a thick, slick coating of sweat glistening on writhing bodies as they did the bump and grind atop big industrial machines. They got a little sooty, too, in a sexy kinda way like a factory worker in a Herb Ritz photograph.
Sweat’s just sexy for a whole lotta reasons. It’s wet. It’s slippery. It’s shiny. It emphasizes toned muscles like nothing else, except maybe oil. I mentioned in another post not too long ago about how yummy Matthew McConaughey looks in a scene from A Time To Kill when he’s talking to wife Ashley Judd and light reflects off the sheen of sweat coating his muscled chest. Mmmm ….
And then there’s Body Heat. Remember that one? William Hurt and Kathleen Turner turning the temperature up to about 1,000 degrees in their sizzling affair set during an intense Florida heat wave. That movie takes heat and sexy to a whole new level, emphasizing that there’s just something about skyrocketing temps that equals sex. I think that’s why I set my latest book, Hot Bayou Nights, in sultry Louisiana. I wanted the sizzling sexy element of heat to play a parallel role to the development of the characters’ sizzling sex.
Perhaps the sexiness of heat is nothing more complicated than the fact that when it’s hot, clothes just gotta come off. And when you just can’t take the heat anymore, there’s always skinny dipping. If you’ve never done it, do it now! Wait until it’s dark, get outta your sticky clothes, and then take an au naturel plunge in cool water with a hot guy. This is an awesome thing. And if you happen to be in Jamaica, like the characters in Alexa’s story, well then you’ve got the added benefit of swimming naked in the Caribbean.