Why are tattoos and their wearers so hot? An interview with Anna Sky, editor of Inked: Sexy Tales of Tattoo Erotica


by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Before I even though about getting my first tattoo, I was intrigued by them. Not every tattoo, necessarily, but certain ink that spoke to me, that called to me, that begged to be stared at. I’m a nosy person (I’m a journalist and writer, after all), so of course the tattoos that draw me in make me want to ask questions (no, not did it hurt?), ones like What made you get that? Why that location? What does it signify?

That alone is enough to be sexy to me, and tattoos’ sex appeal has clearly swept the romance world, because there’s lists on Goodreads of the Best MF Romance Novels about Tattoo Artists and tattooed heroes aplenty.

In my genre of erotica, I assumed that after I knew what it was like to feel the sting of a tattoo needle, to sit without squirming, to focus so intently on my body for those precious, intimate minutes, plots for sexy stories would simply come to me as if injected along with the new color adorning my body. But writing is tricky like that; it doesn’t arrive fully arranged on a platter there for our minds to simply toss on a garnish and serve. So while I’ve flirted with tattoo erotica of the years, I’ve yet to complete my own.

Inked: Sexy Tales of Tattoo Erotica published by Sexy Little Pages

Inked: Sexy Tales of Tattoo Erotica published by Sexy Little Pages

That’s why I was so intrigued to see that sex positive publisher Sexy Little Pages had put out Inked: Sexy Tales of Tattoo Erotica. Having read the anthology, I can assure you that the stories more than live up to the promise of that hot title. There are tales of tattoo artists plying their trade, those who sport the ink and those who are irresistibly intrigued by it. Each story is intriguing and honors the art of the tattoo without fetishizing the ink; the stories are centered around the tattoo wearers and creators and all the emotions that arise for them. I was particularly smitten with “Uncovering Heather” by Victoria Blisse, in which a woman is greeted during her morning work commute by a lewd, tattooed stranger she should ignore but of course, in his own irresistible way, he gets under her skin and shows her a side of herself no one ever has. “Scissoring” by Annabeth Leong is a fun lesbian erotica story premised around the title sex act, where a tattoo plays a very important role in the protagonists’ meet cute.

Last month I promised I’d get into why tattoos are sexy, and to do so, I got an expert’s opinion. I decided to ask Sexy Little Pages founder and editor Anna Sky, who’s also an author in her own right, about the inspiration behind the book, and, most of all, what makes tattoos so sexy.

Why did you decide to publish Inked

Inked was the first anthology for Sexy Little Pages and I had no idea what to expect in terms of how many writers would submit stories and what those stories could be. I settled on tattoos as a topic as I thought it could have so much scope; as the blurb says, tattoos are intimate and personal. From there, stories could be sweet and romantic or transgressive as hell. Couple that thought with the different attitudes towards ink, from my mother telling me I’d regret mine to people using their bodies as a canvas. From people showing they’re part of a social setting or distancing themselves from a particular group, to those seeking cosmetic touch-ups or post-surgical art.

What surprised you about the submissions you received for Inked?

 I was so excited and curious as to what people came up with and I wasn’t disappointed. My biggest issue was choosing which stories to include and which didn’t fit in with the overall feel of the anthology. I had to turn one or two great stories down. I really loved that the writers took my theme and created so many different stories from them. There’s a huge amount of diversity in the nine stories, from magic and sci-fi to contemporary romance, serious themes and laugh-out-loud moments but overall, just damn good writing.

Do you think the public perception of tattoos has changed over the last 20 years Are they considered more sexy than they were in the past?

I think the internet has made tattoos more socially acceptable in some ways. And I think that increased access to images and ideas has helped people to really express themselves individually and find out who they are through that expression. People who are passionate about their ink and wear it well turn themselves into pieces of living art and I love that.

Why do you think tattoos are sexy?

I love how multi-layered tattoos are—they all tell a story, turn our skin into an artist’s canvas and are a snapshot of a particular time and place. My best friend recently had the most gorgeous tattoo and it says so much about her, and her artist. You can see it was chosen and designed with love and inked-on with so much attention to detail. And it truly is beautiful. Her body has turned an image into something so much more and that to me, is what tattoos should be.

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