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Real Life Christian Grey Talks BDSM & Fifty Shades

15 Feb

Hello readers!  We have a guest post for you today from A.C. Rose–an interview republished TheThreeTomatoes.com. Find out more about A.C. Rose’s writing and her book about 50 Shades at her website. Check out her facebook group 50 Shades of Grey Fans.unnamed

Shades of Al Daltrey: Talking About BDSM with a Real Life Christian Grey

As “Fifty Shades Darker” plays in theaters around the world women are once again thinking of Christian Grey, BDSM and sexually dominant males. I felt it my journalistic duty to bring you an interview with a man who knows about it all, first hand.

Al Daltrey is a real life Dom who lives the lifestyle and also writes strong BDSM erotica. His books come with a warning label and are not traditional erotic romances, yet he has gained a following of female fans that appreciate his unapologetic peek into the world of BDSM. You might even say it brings some of them to their knees.

By day, Daltrey dons a suit and tie, and works in marketing. In 2014 he opened his laptop and somewhat accidentally launched a second career as an erotica author, penning his first book, Testing the Submissive. He admits it is “more extreme” than anything he would ever consider doing with a real life submissive, yet readers say the story makes them tingle in all the right places.

There is a line in that book that, to my mind, sums up why women love to read about powerful Alphas. “Experienced and mature dominants always have an understated confidence,” he writes. “There is no need to flaunt their power.” There is something very sexy about men, real and fictional, who own their power.

His second novel, A Condo With Two Views, is written from the point-of-view of both the Dom and the Sub. His most recent books are, Pain, Pleasure, and Purpose: Pleasure (Book One) Pleasure) and Pleasure, Pain or Purpose: Pain (Book Two).They tell the story of three best friends who help each other navigate life, loss and love…and lots of kinky sex. “I poured everything I had into this story,” says the author.

It’s not often you get to pull up a chair and talk to a real life, happily married, sexually dominant male, so we appreciate Al taking the time to answer some of our burning questions.

AC ROSE: What exactly is a male dominant?

AL DALTREY: First, let me say: definitions are not always universal.  Ask 25 people the difference between a liberal and a conservative and you will get 25 different answers. All my answers in this interview are my personal opinion based on my personal experiences. Others in the BDSM lifestyle may disagree, and that is fair.  For this question, I assume you mean a sexual dominant. The simple definition is: a person, male or female, who takes control during consensual sex. The submissive of course, relinquishes that control.

And what is exactly vanilla sex?

Vanilla sex is simply regular, normal, healthy non-BDSM sex.  Or, even more simply…non-kinky sex. It is a term that became popular within the BDSM lifestyle to describe sex between those who are not in the lifestyle.

So from your perspective, can a sexually dominant male enjoy both?

Absolutely.  Personally, I have always loved great vanilla sex. I may practice BDSM, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy vanilla sex too. BDSM became the icing on the cake.  In a good healthy sexual relationship, there are nights where a couple wants the lovemaking to be soft, tender and romantic.  Another night, for kinky fun, they might employ bondage and spanking.  The point is, it’s not all or none. There is room for both.

How did you find yourself on this path, personally? And are you currently in a power exchange relationship?

I was born with it. I know that for a fact. Growing up, the fantasies and inclinations were there. That said, for me, consent is key. I do not believe in force, and do not find force arousing in any way.  Today I am very happily married to my beautiful wife.

Female sexual submission is a controversial topic. Some see female submission as a weakness yet many women find role play satisfying and they obviously like reading about it too.

During my lifetime I’ve been lucky enough to meet my fair share of submissive women. And don’t for a minute think these women were weak. Outside the bedroom they were confident, opinionated, gregarious and self-assured. In fact, many of them were successful executives or professionals. At the workplace, they kicked butt. However, inside the bedroom (so to speak) they wanted to feel the strong firm hand of a dominant man taking complete control.

What got you started writing erotic books?

I started writing because of an interest in BDSM, not because of an interest in writing. One day, I flipped open my laptop and starting writing a kinky BDSM story, not really thinking about where it would lead. Soon I had 20 pages, then 40, then 60 and I knew I was on my way to my first novel.  I heard about self-publishing, so cleaned it up and uploaded it onto Amazon. The reaction seemed positive, and soon I had a Street Team on Facebook helping me promote the book.

Erotic romance is a huge now. Do you find as many readers who just want to read about kinky sex for arousal?

In my view, the market for erotic romance novels is far bigger than the “kinky sex for arousal” market.  The latter market scours the internet for sites such as Literotica to get their fix.  There are exceptions of course.  Some novels do well.  But generally, I believe the kinky sex market is remarkably small.

Since you are writing as a sexually dominant male, what do think women hope to learn from your books, and from you?

I worry about that. My books are not intended to “teach” anything about the BDSM lifestyle. They are intended simply as fiction. A story. I worry when people read my books hoping for a glimpse into the real BDSM lifestyle.  My books have a lot of stuff that I don’t condone.  Just like action movies are exaggerated, so are BDSM novels.  People should read my books for fun, not for education.

Is the sex in your novels rough because that is what your readers want?

It’s not that I’m trying to cater to what the reader wants but in storytelling almost everything is exaggerated for dramatic effect. In a cop story we see these wildly spectacular car chases where 10 Police cars chase a car through crowded streets at speeds of 200 mph. In a medical drama the Doctor heroically saves countless lives.  In a sports movie the athlete scores the winning goal with two seconds left.  Think of every single Hollywood movie you know. So, with a BDSM novel, the same applies. The tasks that the submissive must perform are exaggerated for dramatic effect. It’s fantasy. So, in my books, the sex scenes are intensified as is the case in every other genre.

Your reading audience is primarily women. Some would like to turn their vanilla mates into dominant males, or at least get them to experiment. Any advice on getting guys to try new things?

To answer a question like that would take pages, and even then, it varies by person/couple.  I’m not sure I can provide a succinct answer.  There is some information on my blog.  As I say in my blog: not all men are born with a dominant gene. With those men, I’m not sure that there’s any hope.  Those men who have the underlying qualities – at least there’s hope. Someone could probably write an entire book on this, lol.

Do people call you master?

As mentioned, I am happily married and have been for some time. My wife does not call me “Master” no. Nor do we discuss our personal lives in any kind of detail. I can tell you that I have been called “Master,” and it’s actually a lovely feeling. Obviously it is commonly used in a scene, but also it can be a nice endearment among two people who live the lifestyle.  He might say, “Sleep well my little pet,” and she might say, “Goodnight Master.”  Like anything, if terms of endearment are overused they become goofy.  We’ve all been around couples who make us gag because they are so lovey-dovey.  But used properly “Master” can be a great word. I’m not sure if your question was poking fun at the term…but I hold it in high regard.

Learn more about Al Daltrey.

Find Al Daltrey books.

Visit Al Daltrey’s Erotica BDSM virtual community.

A.C. Rose is a love, romance, and entertainment columnist and author of steamy romance books. Her Latest book is AROUSAL

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Only .99. Click to buy.

 

Allison Monroe just got kissed on an elevator.

But she has no time to be distracted by this gorgeous man, with his panty-melting glances and sexy accent. She’s headed to the most important event of her career—a launch party for the new “My Fantasy e-Reader” at Club Kismet, high atop a Manhattan Skyscraper.

She’s determined to forget about the amatory elevator ride.

But Nicolai Petre has other ideas. That kiss confirmed what his grandmother’s vision had already told him—that Allison is his destiny.

He’s determined win her love but has only six days to prove they are meant to be. So he must keep her in a state of… AROUSAL.

We Saw Fifty Shades Darker So You Don’t Have To

11 Feb

by Elizabeth SaFleur & Madeline Iva

Happy Weekend! We’re here to share with you all our thoughts after seeing FIFTY SHADES DARKER at the movie theatre last night. fifty-shades-darker

Madeline: I loved seeing that group of women who all came into the theatre wearing masks. In fact, my role here is to see the film with eyes of love.  To understand why women love it, why it’s so ridiculously successful.

Elizabeth: This blog post also could be titled, Fifty Scenes of Dakota’s Boobs. Or Fifty Shades of Mixed Messages.

Madeline: You’re in a mood this morning.  I can tell.

Elizabeth: I don’t hate the Fifty Shades franchise. I don’t love it either. I’m neutral, though I was really hoping Hollywood did a better job of portraying the lifestyle than they did previously. Of course, I recognized this story, from the get-go, isn’t a BDSM erotic romance at all.

Madeline: I mean, I agree.–But what is it then?

Elizabeth: It’s a story of a man with PTSD from his childhood who channels his angst by engaging in supposed sadism (I don’t think he’s really a sadist, by the way) with submissives. He meets an ordinary girl who sends this man mixed signals. But she would. She’s in her early twenties and still figuring herself out. But, Jesus, the back and forth!

All that chest--and no touching it. I would go mad.

All that chest–and no touching it. I would go mad.

Madeline: Yes, she’s still figuring it all out.  Jackie and I talked about that with the first movie. This is a strong message that’s getting out into the world these days and I applaud it.  You hear that men? Women are not playing games.  They’re not f**king with you.  They’re trying to figure it out, okay? And sometimes it’s not easy.

Elizabeth: I get why people love 50 Shades. Billionaires, mild kinky scenarios—

Madeline: Yay to mild-kink! Or, as I like to call it, Kinky-lite.  We need t-shirts.  I’ll get my people right on that.

Elizabeth: –especially if you’ve not been exposed before. People also love the luxurious settings, a man changed by the love of a woman. That trope is old as the hills.

Madeline Iva: As old as the hills–and yet there are real haters out there.  Haters who love romance, confoundingly.

Elizabeth: I get why people hate it. Bad BDSM benchmark set, a weak(er) story structure and did I mention the mixed signals from both characters?

Madeline: One thing about the mixed messages: I think that the movie makers had to do it the way that they did. They had to be true to the book and in the book, she’s walking away from kink.  On the other hand, what do we want? We want hot sex scenes in the movie! Like we had in the first movie, only different.  They delivered both.  Could they have delivered a movie that had a lot less sex? I don’t think so.

Elizabeth: The PR/Marketing person in me also thought they missed an opportunity to make the movie the best possible thing ever. No excuse! I mean, built-in audience, Hollywood! We had a row of women behind us who came as a group all wearing masks. You can’t buy this kind of loyalty.50-shades-darker-teaser-mask

Madeline: You think they should have really dug in and changed things, deepened the script, the plot, etc?

Elizabeth: Yes! So, sadly, this movie isn’t going to win any Oscars.

Madeline: So, here’s what I say — is this even really a movie? I mean, I thought of it as something in film form that was an homage to the book.  I think we’re in the early days of a whole new medium. We need to come up with a jazzy name for it.  I mean, that whole weird section with the helicopter crash? “Real” movies don’t actually work like that.  Which is okay–but comparing this to a movie is like comparing apples to…an apple flavored jolly roger candy.  You know?

Elizabeth: It will certainly please the 50 Shades crowd, but in equal measure that it will tick off the real-life BSDM enthusiasts. (I can’t help but think of how this mirrors our very-politically-divided country right now.)

Fifty pull ups. Cause you know *that* joke isn't getting old.

Fifty pull ups. Cause you know *that* joke isn’t getting old.

Madeline: Aren’t they already ticked off? I mean, by this point, I can’t imagine real-life BDSM enthusiasts going see this movie for sheer love.  Me, I was frankly relieved that it was so kinky-lite in the first movie.  FIFTY SHADES DARKER’s little play-time scenes were icing on the cake.  Besides, I brought my husband to see the movie, and was hoping to placate him with all the sexy biz.

Also, as Jezebel writers said: “What was good: basically nonstop puss eating.”

Elizabeth: !

Madeline: So sez Jezebel, so say we all. On the other hand, people kinda wanted to see Christian’s dick.  Not me, just…people.  #dickparity is a thing, I guess.

Elizabeth: What I liked about the movie: Dakota Johnson has got acting chops.

Madeline: I agree.

Elizabeth: She’d better than most people probably realize given she had to develop that character herself. Anastasia Steele’s clothes. I want that La Perla bustier garter set she’s wearing.

Madeline: We all want that La Perla bustier garter set.  And the body to go with it.

And it looks even better from the back...

And it looks even better from the back…

Elizabeth: –Ya know, for sitting around my home office so I can pretend I’m about to be whisked to a ball. Also, her lips. M and I agree – she had the best lipstick. And it stayed on no matter what they were doing like sucking face, which they did often.

Madeline: I liked the sucking face.  Jamie Dornan sucks face well.

Elizabeth: Christian Grey’s boat. Niiiice. Jamie Dornan’s buffness and scruffness – just the way I like it. Oh, and his neck! I just wanted to bury my face in it.

You want to grab him. Admit it.

You want to grab him. Admit it.

Madeline: I did not need him so buff.  But I am obsessed.  (Posting on that later.)

Elizabeth: The general eye candy was great. They live in a beautiful world.

Madeline: I was going through eye candy withdrawl. This movie definitely helped.

Elizabeth: But I can’t get over the mixed signals: “Christian, I can never, ever give you what you need.” Ten minutes later, “Christian, spank me.” “Take me to the red room.” Make up your mind, lady. You’re either into the kink or you’re not.

Madeline: Okay, here’s my take on that — at first in their relationship he wanted total control.  Even to the point of saying he didn’t “do relationships”.  Gah.  It’s like a dance, and he was always leading.

In FIFTY SHADES DARKER, she takes control.  It’s not about consistency.  It’s about her leading. In the past, with all his interactions the dominant dynamic was about them pleasing him.  Now he has to keep up with her, follow her lead, and prove to her that he can please her.  It’s all about her, people! (Which is catnip to us romance ladies.)

She's steering the ship now.

She’s steering the ship now.

Elizabeth: His admission that he’s not a Dominant, but a sadist really bothered me.

Madeline: It was certainly abrupt.

Elizabeth: And they acted like being a sadist must be a very, very, very bad thing. It’s not!!

Madeline: She’s getting on her BDSM soap box people.

Elizabeth: If you’re truly a responsible sadist, you play with consenting adults, and you never harm anyone.

Madeline: Which is different from causing them pain

Elizabeth: Right.  Pain is temporary, and some masochists get an endorphin rush off controlled pain, which registers as a kind of pleasure…so they like it.

Madeline: Yes, yes, yes!

Elizabeth: Harming someone is completely different.

Madeline: Noted.

Elizabeth: I had an issue with the symbolic kink. The movie brings out the usual kinky props, but clearly for symbolic reasons. There’s the blindfold and the cuffs but within one minute they’re having sex. They bring out the spreader bar and within one minute they’re having sex.  He gives her four spanks and then they’re having sex. I get it. They’re young, full of hormones and hot. But don’t expect any real BDSM. The movie had tons of sex and a little slap and tickle.

Madeline: I didn’t mind that at all. Huzzah to symbolic kinky sex!

Elizabeth: Speaking of the spreader bar. People…please DO NOT go to Amazon, buy the first spreader bar you see and do that flip move that Christian did to Ana without a lot of practice.

Do not try this at home...

Do not try this at home…

Madeline: It did look…quite…gymnastic.

Elizabeth: I’m not quite convinced that spreader bar exists in real life.

Madeline: A retractable spreader bar.  Yeah, that was a new one to me too.

Elizabeth: So don’t risk spraining an ankle or wrenching a back.

Madeline: Her breasts were like a third character in the movie.

Elizabeth: If there was an opportunity to show them off, the movie did.

Madeline: It’s actually in her contract–she must be topless or naked at least every fifteen minutes of the movie. (Joking.) But reading interviews, I think the actress has made this her thing.  And if an actor is a bit of an exhibitionist, who are we to complain? (I’m looking at you, Orlando Bloom.)

Elizabeth: Why couldn’t we get his glory to be the third character? Equal rights, man.

Madeline: #DickParity — starting that hashtag right now

Elizabeth: This movie was more sex positive than the last — and Ana wasn’t as big as a doormat as she was in the first movie.

Madeline: Amen to that!

Elizabeth: Oh, and for grins you really must check out this post from a Redbook writer, I Tried All the Sex From Fifty Shades Darker In One Weekend. Hilarious.

Madeline: I can’t believe Redbook did that…that is awesome.  Final comments?

Elizabeth: Bottom line: If you are a 50 Shades fan, you’ll love this movie.

Madeline: Durh.

Elizabeth: If you are a real-life BDSM lifestyler, you’ll probably stay away anyway. Christian is someone who needs to be “cured.” Yeah, right.  But what he needs (IMHO) is help with his PTSD, not his BDSM proclivities (though I’m not convinced BDSM even really is his thing).

Madeline: What is his thing?

Elizabeth: Okay–Growing up, Christian discovers how to use kink to channel his anger from his childhood trauma.  And so maybe when he gets together with her, and they bond, that anger starts to go away? And that’s why he walks away from it all.

Towards the end of the series, he says he doesn’t want to do it anymore.  In the third book he doesn’t want a red room in the new house.

A Dominant, meanwhile, that’s their main thing–being in control.  If he actually can be happy without being in control, yeah, he’s not a Dominant.  And a sadist — I’m sorry, but you don’t just actually decide not to be someone who gets off on pain.  It’s like trying to pray your way out of being gay.

Madeline: So if this was real life–which it’s not–Elena would be right.  Ana and Christian together as a couple would be a compromise for him.  A compromise most couples don’t survive.

Kim Basinger plays Elena in the movie--which makes it all very meta.

Kim Basinger plays Elena in the movie–which makes it all very meta.

Elizabeth: Right.  If it was real life.

Madeline: Which it’s not.

Elizabeth: I don’t care if this story is fiction, that idea should be sorted out. Okay, Hollywood, can you do that for us? So we’re ALL happy? See built-in audience above.50shadesshouldersleeping

And don’t forget out V-Day Giveaway.  Subscribe to Lady Smut — push the pink bottom at the top right of your screen and you’ll be entered to win. 

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Includes massage oil, candle, lip balm, and soap. Continental US only, please!

Kinky F*ckery in 50 Shades: Interview with Jackie C. Horne

11 Feb

Ladies—Jackie from ROMANCE NOVELS FOR FEMINISTS is here with me today to delve deeply into the core themes of the 50 Shades phenomenon. We focussed on two questions:

Why do women love this fantasy?

Two reasons I love this fantasy--and they're big and blue.

Two reasons why I love this fantasy–they’re big and blue.

Does 50 SHADES represent a step forward in women’s sexual freedom—or a step back?

If you like 50 Shades and smart discussion – you’re in for a treat!

MADELINE IVA: I’m very interested in focusing on what it is that draws women to the 50 Shades fantasy…

JACKIE C. HORNE: To answer that, you first have to answer the question “what is the fantasy” that these books and films hold out to us? And that fantasy may be different for different readers and viewers. As a literary critic, I see three different fantasies at play in books 1 & 2. First, the fantasy that an ordinary girl (ordinary in both looks and intelligence) can catch the attention of a wealthy, handsome man (the cornerstone of much romance writing).

Second, the fantasy that said ordinary girl can rescue/save an emotionally messed-up man (again, a foundational trope in romance).

And finally, the fantasy that indulging in “kinky fuckery” is something to take pleasure in, rather than something to be ashamed of, even for an ordinary girl. The latter fantasy is the most progressive one, the most positive one as far as women’s rights and women’s sexual freedom goes. But the two former ones are what makes it safe, I think, for readers to accept the latter one. It’s the combination of all three that made the books such a phenomenon. Romance tropes as the life preserver, if you will, that allow readers to imagine themselves swimming out into the less familiar waters of sex with a touch of kink.50

MADELINE IVA: I’ve never heard it stated so well, Jackie! We’ve touched upon this topic before: I see the role of BDSM in the romance genre as representing a fundamental evolution in the role of consent.  Women are now asking for the sex they want and negotiating with their partners for sex that they want –or don’t want!–tons more than they used to.  I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts about this after watching the first movie.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I think this depends on the reader’s relationship with BDSM and the BDSM community. In the book 50 Shades Darker, when Ana is talking about Christian’s sexual needs with Christian’s psychiatrist, Dr. Flynn explains that “of course there is such a thing as sexual sadism, but it’s not a disease; it’s a lifestyle choice. And if it’s practiced in a safe, sane relationship between consenting adults, then it’s a non-issue” (412). If you are a reader who is a sexual sadist, or who is familiar with the BDSM community, then you’re probably going to find 50 Shades problematic when it comes to consent. The reason why I didn’t read these books until you asked me to participate in this discussion was because I had heard from romance writers who write erotic & BDSM romance that the books aren’t an accurate depiction of BDSM or of the BDSM community.

MADELINE IVA: True, but there’s a crap-ton of fantasy in BDSM erotic romance already. Inaccuracies abound and many fans want the fantasy—not the reality. (Esp. when it comes to sex clubs.)

JACKIE C. HORNE: If you’re not familiar with BDSM, though, if you read the consent to kinky sex not as a realistic possibility but as a metaphor, then yes, it can definitely be a metaphor for female consent.

It takes Ana a while (all the way to the end of book 1) to figure out what she wants, and doesn’t want, out of her sexual relationship with Christian. She’s up for bondage, up for spanking, up for lighter sexual pain, all things she never would have imagined she’d liked before she met Christian.

MADELINE IVA: Yes! And in the movie — what we see dominates what we hear. What we SEE is Ana enjoying lite kinky play…In the book, which is so much internal, her confusion and ambivalence take center stage.first-kiss-50

JACKIE C. HORNE: But in the book’s climactic scene, she realizes that she is not up for being punished, for being the object upon which Christian takes out his anger. Refusing to consent to the linking of love and male anger, the idea that male anger is always a part of male love—that may be the key shift from Old Skool romance novels to contemporary romances.

MADELINE IVA: This is a great interpretation, and I agree that if the fundamental message is not to accept male anger as a part of male love, that it’s a good one.  But I don’t know….(more on that later.)

What I saw as I watched that final scene in the first movie was her seeing his emotional pain and wanting to take on his pain — like a martyr.

Meanwhile, Cara McKenna is my touchstone for an author who shows consent VERY well without bogging down the plot or making us fall out of the fantasy.  50 Shades maybe does this less well, but it might be interesting to contrast how consent is carried out in the movie vs. the book.

JACKIE C. HORNE: Did you think there were major differences between book and movie in this regard? I didn’t notice any myself, but if you have specific scenes you can point to, I’d be happy to go back and re-watch the film again.

“Please, Ana, let me make love to you.”

“Yes,” I whisper, because that’s why I’m here. (50 Shades of Grey, 113) 

MADELINE IVA: I’m thinking of the contract stuff.  In the movie she was actively negotiating with him face to face and crossing out elements she vetoed. It seemed like there was energy to this exchange. To me this showed strong female agency — and have we ever seen a woman in a film before negotiating over sex so thoroughly? (Excepting scenes with sex workers–and even then not so much.)

In the book, meanwhile, the contract seemed (this is my interpretation) a packet of doom.  It seemed to make her cringe, and the details dwelt upon had to do with total control over her as well as painful sex acts.  It dragged her down into a pit of (again my take)  “No, no, no, no, OMG. Am I going to have to do this stuff? Gah!

JACKIE C. HORNE: Oh, yes, the contract scene is so great in the film! It shows Ana being far more empowered, and really enjoying the negotiating with Christian. Many film reviews cite that scene as the best thing in the movie.

In the book, the language of the contract appears not just once, but four times (at least in part). Is it just sloppy writing, that repetition? Or is there something really important in that legal language to James? The idea that this is a business relationship, rather than a personal one, to Christian? Which is an idea that Ana ultimately cannot accept.

MADELINE IVA: I’m interesting in talking about Jamie Dornan as a man/actor who was a kind of reluctant participant himself in the movie.  Yes, he did it for his career, and didn’t have long to think about his choice.  Also he is most definitely NOT a fan of the life style.

Dakota Johnson seems to have adapted a bit more (maybe because it’s the corner stone of her career?)

There are interviews where Dornan apologized profusely to Dakota Johnson before each take.  Do we care as much about male consent as we do about female consent? Is this going to be a problem? (Is it one already? Can men refuse sex without having their sexuality challenged, or facing aggressive repercussions –even if not physical violence?)

JACKIE C. HORNE: Your questions make me think about 15-year-old Christian, at the start of his affair with Elena. Did he consent? He says he did, but Ana is consistently appalled by the mere thought of an adult woman inviting a 15-year-old boy to have (kinky) sex with her. Ana never asks Christian to tell her more about his experience; she instantly assumes that he had no agency, no ability to consent, that he was molested and abused.50-shades-shower

I was disappointed that the books, which initially reserve judgment on this issue (was Christian abused? Or was his relationship with Elena a positive, even life-saving one?) end up coming down hard on the side of abuse by the end of book 2. Rather than presenting Ana’s intense jealousy of Elena as misguided or immature, the end of book 2 reinforces the idea that Ana is right to be wary of Elena. I thought this a very sexist move, complete with bitch-slap for the erring woman (not by Ana, but by Christian’s adopted mother).

I wished we could have heard more about Christian’s experience with Elena, that Ana had been more curious rather than judgmental about it. In some ways, you could say that Ana is infantilizing Christian by refusing to grant that even as a 15-year-old, he might have been capable of making informed decisions about his sexual desires.

MADELINE IVA: And this goes back to the core fantasies.  What you saw as the ordinary young woman saving/healing the wounded man I saw as a kind of mothering thing — the power of soothing.  “Let me make the hurt go away” kind of actions.

No cigarette burn scars on his chest in the first movie. Whoops! They fixed it for the second film.

No cigarette burn scars on his chest in the first movie. Whoops! They fixed it for the second film.

JACKIE C. HORNE: The larger issue—about male consent in general—is an interesting one. Yes, a man who turns down a chance to have sex is still likely to have his masculinity, or his heterosexuality, called into question, even in this day and age. But a man who turns down BDSM sex, or feels squicky about it, there’s something different going on there. BDSM sex isn’t as widely accepted, as widely admired, as straight heterosexual sex; there’s a taint attached to it for many people. Wanting to dominate women is a big no-no in our purportedly post-feminist age. So not consenting to participate in Dom/sub sex, or expressing uneasiness or discomfort with having to act as if you enjoy it, can be read by many as a positive thing, an endorsement of more equal power during sex between partners. A women’s rights kind of thing, no?

MADELINE IVA: Well, I actually know men who say “whatever she wants sexually I kinda have to do” and that with one man it’s kinky stuff with his wife. He’s okay with it, because she enjoys it.  With another man it’s about his incredible discomfort playing out semi-rape fantasies with women he’s having sex with…I think part of his discomfort involves reinforcing the perception that in some way he LOOKS predatory, etc.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I haven’t heard similar stories from any of my male friends or acquaintances. But your friends’ experiences do show how men can be subject to (or even victims of) sexual stereotypes. (I’m in the midst of reading a book about a gay asexual man, and he feels quite similarly, that he is surrounded by the imperative “men always want sex”). No man, or woman, should feel like they HAVE to do anything, sex-wise, that they don’t want to do. Ever. I hope your latter friend can find women to date who won’t push him to play the semi-rape game.

MADELINE IVA: Yup, I agree. The singles world of dating, hook-ups, etc, is a jungle—the price we pay for more sexual freedom seems to be more social pressure about sex and displaying sexuality in increasingly artificial ways.

Part of the conundrum of playing up one’s sexuality is that some men I know have that bad boy vibe, but at heart they’re good guys. They draw women to them, but eventually hit an impasse when looks and who he is just doesn’t match her expectations.  In this film the bad boy is gradually revealed as a ‘good boy’ on the inside. So maybe there’s hope for my friends…fifty-shades-ball-1486048963

Moving on! Has Trump ruined billionaire romances? Or put a significant dent in them? I remember thinking: “Consent all you want young woman from a poor family. Once you’re in handcuffs in his home he could do anything he wanted to you and probably get away with it…” and I know this is a direct line of thinking from the news/publicity about Trump during the election…

Yet there’s always one side in the romance world shouting “IT”S JUST A FANTASY!” Is there a problem with saying it’s all just a fantasy? And what are we to do with the constant  demand from women for forbidden sexual fantasy? Should we be pragmatic and accept this?

OR for instance, (as one who grew up watching male fantasies of women in the media), do we understand that this has deeply impacted and harmed our culture?

JACKIE C. HORNE: I was recently interviewed by a reporter for the Village Voice, who asked if I thought the billionaire romance trend had contributed to the acceptance of Trump by many women. Rather than ruining billionaire romances, Trump might be the logical outcome of this romance trend. Because billionaire romances paper over the trouble that actual billionaires present, don’t they? Unlike saintly Christian, whom we only ever see engaging in business that is meant to help the powerless (donating food to Darfur; developing solar technology; donating money to the university to develop sustainable food programs), most real-life billionaires make their money through capitalistic competition, competition that often relies on shortchanging the average Joe (or average Ana) worker. To fantasize about a powerful billionaire falling for them, women have to forget or ignore all the other women (and men) upon whom his billions were built, and upon whom his continued wealth still relies.

And they also have to keep imagining that the only path to power is an indirect one, by being in a relationship with a wealthy man, rather than imagining that they could gain power themselves. Those are both fantasies that limit, rather than empower, women.

So I don’t buy the “it’s just a fantasy” explanation/excuse. What is the fantasy, and why are we having it? That’s a far more productive question, and avenue for exploration.

MADELINE IVA: I have no problem with this, only sometimes the liberal peeps can be as judgmental and shaming as conservatives without exploring the needs, frustrations, and context of those who are very different from them in terms of race or class.  If we could explore all of these issues without a dose of shaming, it would be nice.

But you know, scientific research on sexuality seems to indicate that what sexually turns us on seems to be fixed.  Maybe the “Why” of the fantasy and the turn on go back to that slushy mix of our evolution and what we were exposed to in our youth/teens and that’s that…Which takes us right back to your point about Christian’s first sexual experiences…

Let’s turn to talking about the differences between the first book and movie.  Some things just not translate well from book to movie? I don’t recall when in the book he showed up in Savannah that it was as big a deal to me.  But in the movie I had an involuntary “Stalker!” reaction. He seemed so much creepier in the movie.  Or is this just that I’m coming off watching him in THE FALL where he played a serial killer? ; >50shadesbathrobe

JACKIE C. HORNE: Funny, I had just the opposite reaction!

MADELINE IVA: — Okay, I hang my head and accept that I am having a post-The Fall Dornan experience.

JACKIE C. HORNE: I thought he was far creepier in the book than he was in the film. Dornan just smiled too much to feel like the controlling Christian of the books to me! (Must say I’ve never seen The Fall, though). The film cut out many of book-Christian’s more stalker-y/controlling moves—no mention of him moving her to first class on the plane without asking her, and he’s not so insistent about her eating all the time—so he didn’t come across as quite so control-freakish in the film as he does in the book.

MADELINE IVA: The eating thing.  Ugh!  It also made Ana seem SO PASSIVE and waify/victim-y.50-touching-lips

JACKIE C. HORNE: On the other hand, in book 1, when Ana teases Christian in an email “Have you sought therapy for your stalker tendencies?” he tells her (and us) that “I pay the eminent Dr. Flynn a small fortune with regard to my stalker and other tendencies” (290). This reassured me; I had thought from what people had told me about the books that they normalized stalkery/über-controlling male behavior. That Christian is actively seeing a psychiatrist about his issues sends the opposite message: that stalkery/über-controlling behavior is psychologically problematic. I was disappointed that Christian’s shrink did not make it into the film.

MADELINE IVA: Yes! Anastasia seemed to enjoy most of what they did a whole lot more in the movie than her internals showed in the book.  And did that tilt the scales of problems some people had with the book?

ana-shirt-2JACKIE C. HORNE: For all that we get so much of her internal thoughts in the books, Anastasia of the novels is a pretty empty character. That’s not a good or a bad thing; it’s just a way of telling a story, a way that allows the reader more easily to project herself into the novel than if Ana’s character had more individuality, had been more fully developed. Ironically, though we get little of her internal thoughts in the film, seeing Dakota Johnson up on the screen made her more of a person to me, an individual with thoughts and emotions different from mine, rather than just an empty placeholder for me to project myself onto.

The lack of access to Ana’s thoughts makes her wishy-washy-ness re: the kinky sex less apparent. I agree that in the film, she seems to enjoy the kinky sex more than she does in the books. And that made the story more interesting to me—the story of a woman exploring the boundaries of her own sexual desires.

MADELINE IVA: I agree that Dakota Johnson did a great job of seeming vulnerable and kinda raw in her own skin, but also very fluid and interesting in the kinky scenes.  She also just seemed older, which I found reassuring…

Going back to how this series explores typical/conservative romance values side by side with the more progressive idea of a young woman exploring kinky sex—Ultimately, Ana rejects kinky sex.  Do you think that this is on par with the other more conservative values of the book’s romantic tropes and again, makes it more safe for more conservative romance readers to accept it?  (Noting that this move seems to enrage many BDSM erotic romance authors more than anything else.)

Are we back to the “forced seduction” sexual tropes of the 80’s? In those romance novels it was okay for the woman to have sex in those situations because she didn’t ask for it… In the 50 Shades franchise, is it okay for Ana to explore BDSM-lite because ultimately she rejects it and therefore is still ‘a good girl’?

Meanwhile, what are we in the audience doing throughout the movie if not enjoying Ana’s engaging in forbidden kink?

weredoingwhat

We’re doing WHAT? Everyone seems to agree that both actors are much more comfortable filming together now. Not surprising, given the success of the franchise, and the boost to their respective careers.

JACKIE C. HORNE: Funny, I was thinking about what title I would give this discussion and came up with “Having your kink and condemning it too”!

I agree with you that Ana’s disgust with and rejection of the punishment aspect of Dom/sub play does dovetail with the more conservative values of the book’s romance tropes. Her rejection gives readers an “out,” a having your cake and eating it too safety valve. Which does undercut the progressive message to a large degree.

But on the other hand, Ana doesn’t rejects ALL kink (at least by the end of book 2). As I noted above, she enjoys being tied up, being restrained, being spanked. And in DARKER the book, she’s bugging Christian all the time to go back to the Red Room of Pain. Which doesn’t seem to me to be just about serving Christian’s needs; it seems to be a deep curiosity of her own about kinky sex.

Ana’s rejection of Christian’s sadism (and the book’s rejection of that label for him) enrages many BDSM erotic romance authors because Ana’s decision at the end of book 1 has a larger ideological weight: it tells the reader that the power dynamics in ALL Dom/sub relationships are both shameful AND are signs of psychological damage that needs to be repaired. Which is exactly the opposite message of current psychological thinking, as Dr. Flynn explains. Someone is a sadist just because he (or she) is one, not because he or she was traumatized as a child.

Perhaps Ana should pay Dr. Flynn (or another qualified psychologist) a visit to talk about her own ambivalences about BDSM?

MADELINE IVA: Perhaps!

Thank you Jackie SO MUCH for chatting with me! And readers, don’t forget our KAMA SUTRA giveaway.  All you have to do is hit our pink subscribe button above and to the right.

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This giveaway includes massage oil, candle, soap, and lip balm.  (Continental US only!)

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_low_res_500x750

 

 

 

The Men Who Dare To Go There In Erotic Fiction

27 Jan

By Elizabeth SaFleur

The evolution of Viagra’s marketing from Bob Dole to 40 something men during football games (so now she wants it) has given me further insight into the degradation that women experience every day, living up to impossible standards of beauty and sexuality. ~Spencer Dryden

You pretty much have to love a guy who emails you the above lines in response to your interview request related to why he writes erotic fiction. And then when he—and other male erotic writers—jump in with other awesomeness, well, it’s hard not to let pride swell one’s little heart that these gentlemen are part of our book tribe.

Authors DaddyX, Spencer Dryden, Daily Hollow and Ian Smith graciously shared their experiences writing erotic romance and erotica, including why (oh, why?) they went there. Few men do. Let’s hear from the few, the proud and the brave.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Okay, guys, how did you get here? Why do you write in the erotic genre?

SPENCER DRYDEN: Nearly all my life I have been enchanted by female allure. I come from a time and background where anything sexual was obscured by a cloud of guilt and shame. When I reached my early 60’s (I’m 66 now) I gave myself permission to explore those fantasies through fiction as it would be much safer that trying to carry them out in real life. I have learned so much about sex and sexuality in the process, things I wish I had known as a younger man. A guy could learn a lot by reading my stuff.

DADDYX: To be honest—and I will be honest—being horny. And in appreciating the fact that I still felt sexy rather late in life. It’s what was always on my mind, even at 64 years of age, when I began writing erotica. Figured to document my libido before it went away.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: We love honest guys.

daddyx-cover

Good things come in plain brown wrappers. Daddy has stenciled a big red “X” on the cover of his new collection to warn the reading public. Open this book only if you’re ready for X-rated excesses beyond the ordinary. The five tales Daddy has chosen for this volume are X-tra outrageous.

IAN SMITH:  I read some ‘chick lit’ for relaxation, and enjoyed the development of the characters and the romantic story, but felt the lovemaking scenes were a bit tame. I decided to try writing this sort of story, but with rather steamier scenes. Sex is an integral and important part of most people’s relationships, and I thought it must be possible to be realistic without being ‘porn’.”

DAILY HOLLOW: I wanted to get back into writing fiction so a few years ago I googled ‘writing competitions’ and stumbled across Literotica. After reading a few stories I was like “I can totally do this.”

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: There’s that honesty again. You all come from different walks of life so I’m calling you my ‘representative sample.’ Here’s what I want to know. Why aren’t there more male authors in the erotic genre?

DADDYX: Hah! Momma X says that when a woman writes smut, it’s considered cute. A woman can get away with appearing something akin to adventurous without looking like a perv. Conjure a naughty picture of a cute girl, book in one hand, masturbating with the other. Isn’t that sweet? But a guy in a basement who can’t get a date, one hand beating Red Roger, typing like crazy with the other? Let’s just say it’s a different picture.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Okay, true that.

SPENCER DRYDEN: I don’t have a clue other than women weren’t seeing what they liked and have systematically taken over control of the ship. Very admirable. We need to get more male readers into erotica but I don’t see many characters I can identify with. Until men can identify with character and plot in erotica, what little fiction they read will continue to be action genres.

DAILY HOLLOW: I think because there are more female readers of erotica, so it would make sense more women would write it. Men (such as myself) tend to gravitate more toward action, horror, etc. Honestly, I very rarely read the genre, unless one of my friends has a new book or I am beta reading for someone.

IAN SMITH: There appears to be a widespread opinion that “men can’t write romance’” which I disagree with. Men feel romantic and get emotionally involved, probably in similar ways to women. Fewer men appear to write romance, or at least not under male pen names. I know the market for romance generally is predominantly female, and I can understand that people reading for escapism will typically identify more readily with their own gender.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: So as a man, do you feel responsible or obligated to write erotica or erotic romance a “certain” way? Such as more respectful (or more blatant) in certain areas because people know you’re a man?

DAILY HOLLOW: Not really. I write what I feel, then send it off to the betas. I have never had anyone tell me my writing was derogatory or disrespectful.

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Plumbers and Other Lovers is collection of four short stories about tradesmen who find unexpected rewards in home repairs as they stumble into romantic encounters during the course of their everyday blue-collar lives.

DADDYX: Not at all. But I sure get told when I get it wrong. :>) Much of my experience in offering, receiving and observing criticism is through The Erotica Readers and Writers Association lists. I have acted as Storytime editor for either flash fiction or short stories for the past few years. There, I see varying perspectives of criticism and as many ways of interpreting the same work. Everyone has his/her own way of perceiving and receiving erotica. That’s one of the more intriguing aspects of writing in our genre. Everyone absorbs the material according to their own turn-ons and squicks. In fact, with all the variety out there, it’s a miracle a writer ever connects with a reader.

SPENCER DRYDEN: My writing reflects the way I feel about women, which is that I hold them in high regard, especially the way they can use their powers of enchantment.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: See opening lines above.

IAN SMITH: No, I try to write with my own “voice.” I like my male lead characters to be decent, nice guys, and be courteous to the women they’re involved with, but that’s at least partly because it’s how I hope I am myself. I find it difficult to imagine being anything else, but that might be something fun to play with when I feel more confident about my writing.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Do you find people hold you to a higher standard? Like a woman can get away with writing certain things, but a man would get his hand slapped for “crossing a line?”

DAILY HOLLOW: Not really. I have heard some male writers feel that way, but I have never encountered any issues.

SPENCER DRYDEN:  I don’t know if “higher standard” is quite the right term for what I feel. I have read lots of short form F/F erotica (which I love) as a way to improve sensual vocabulary. Often these stories move fast and feature plots that move quickly from initial encounter to sex. (Hi I’m a girl that likes girls. Oh I like girls too….begin humping) My stories have the same structure and character arc as F/F stories but my are frequently labeled as “stroke” or “only about sex.” So it’s more like a double standard than a higher standard.

DADDYX: Some of my characters can be despicable. I do have to work to tone them down upon occasion. Though assholes make for interesting subjects, there should be someone for the reader to relate to. Often the reader equates a character with the author, so I wouldn’t want to alienate readership of any sexual orientation. Despite everything as personal as squicks and triggers, I’d like my work to be universal; but that’s nigh impossible, considering that many people wouldn’t open an erotic book in the first place.

kings-captain-cover-1000x633

Paul is Hayley’s lover and now her leading man. But acting and portraying a hero on a period TV show takes far more than a suit of armour. He’s totally out of his depth, personally and professionally. Help arrives with dramatic lessons in leadership and courage, when strange events put him and his friends in harm’s way.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: And, you Ian?

IAN SMITH: I don’t think so. Well, aside from trying to write from a female POV and getting it wrong!

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: In general, men’s fantasies vary wildly from female fantasies. They experience sex differently in real life. Do you believe that colors a male author’s viewpoint when writing erotic fiction? Do you try to write something that will appeal to what females (the bulk of erotic fiction readers) want to read?

DADDYX: Wish I had an inside track for success with female readers. Any readers. It sure would be nice. Maybe then I could sell some books. :>) So here’s what I think:

Again, I can’t really say that I write to a particular gender. To me, it’s all about the story, no matter who’s reading. The plot has to be fresh, intriguing, and hold together. The story arc must be accessible, if not immediately obvious. I like to give my readers credit as intelligent people who will extrapolate content and subtleties by my prompts and suggestions. I don’t want to alter or conform my work to appeal to the lowest common denominator. By the same token, while I’m writing, I wouldn’t want to distract myself imagining my readers as any particular gender. I feel that engineering the delivery by gender could effectively limit scope in development of the story. I like to think of literature as universal.

That said, I also like to get my readers juices flowing, no matter their gender. Problem is, how would I know?

DAILY HOLLOW: I write what I feel. I’ve actually written a few F/F stories, and honestly my novella, Leslie’s Dilemma, may be my best fiction piece to date.

SPENCER DRYDEN: “I hope that female readers will find my male characters to be genuine and memorable. There are no billionaire bad boys, alpha males or self- destructive ego-maniacs in my stories. I feature ordinary guys who fall into the orbit of sexually assertive women. [As for a different viewpoint?] Absolutely. It’s why we are more visual and more mechanical in our fiction writing.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Confession time: Are you writing stories you wish would pan out in real life?

DADDYX: Heh. I’m 72 years old, for chrissakes. My fantasies will remain as such. :>) If Momma and I can achieve orgasm in the missionary position without injuring ourselves, we consider ourselves lucky. Best fantasy these days is a sexy dream. Or a trip to a thong beach.  In truth though, I often write situations I’d like to have happened. Other situations, not so much. Depends on the character. He/she may think like me. Or decidedly not.

IAN SMITH: In a general sense, of people meeting and forming solid, emotionally-fulfilling relationships, and having a few adventures along the way.

daly-hollow-book

Mark Jenson is a handsome, easy going man who enjoys drinking with his buddies and the occasional Myrtle Beach golf outing. Gabriella is a beautiful, yet intimidating Jamaican assassin who has nearly fifty kills to her credit. Because Mark unknowingly insulted a mobster’s daughter after they had a drunken night of sex, Gabriella is hired to end Mark’s life

DAILY HOLLOW: LOL, who doesn’t? I also try to throw a little personal experience in as well. I’ve been in several multi-racial relationships and have written a BWWM novella and short story. I’ve also had sex in public and one of my works in progress is going to have a scene where my MC has sex in a river at a popular college hangout. In my short story “Charlene’s Surprise”, my MC is tied up while his wife and her best friend “put on a show.” I guess that would be something I wish would have panned out in real life. 😉

SPENCER DRYDEN: I think fantasy; especially sexual fantasy is a very important part of a balanced life. Fantasy helps us set boundaries and then offers us a risk free way of seeing life on the other side of the boundary. In my case, through fiction, I can make love to any woman I want, my wife could care less and the woman even likes it. I think it would cause lots of marital difficulty if I were to ACT on my fantasies. I can also brutally murder people I dislike without fear of jail time.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: Isn’t that the best? I digress… For you, what is the most satisfying part about writing erotic fiction?

DADDYX: Positive feedback. Connecting with a reader in an erotic endeavor. Nothing feels better than hearing a reviewer you don’t know say: “That’s the most erotic book I’ve ever read,” as has been said about “The Gonzo Collection.” Considering the aforementioned variety of erotic preferences (and the odds against of making that connection) the connection, once made, may be on some level equivalent to sharing sex with those readers.

SPENCER DRYDEN: When I see the whole story arc. I write most of my stories backwards, that is, I start at the end and work my way back to the beginning.

IAN SMITH: Readers telling me they enjoyed my storytelling. If they found it hot and steamy as well, that’s a bonus!

DAILY HOLLOW: Typing the words “the end.” One of the most challenging parts about writing is actually finishing. I currently have about five WIP going at once.

ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: So, I guess in the end, it turns out all writers are alike!

Thank you, gentleman. Keep up the great work. Readers, below is how you can stay in touch with our male cohorts in sexy crime. And follow LadySmut. We know all the great writers…and lovers of sexy romance.

 Love Links

Daily Hollow’s Facebook and Amazon author page

DaddyX’s  Oh Get A Grip blog  (where he posts fortnightly with nine other accomplished erotica writers) and Amazon author page

Ian Smith’s Facebook, Facebook Author Page and Blog

Spencer Dryden’s Facebook, Twitter and Amazon author page

~~~~~

Elizabeth SaFleur writes contemporary erotic romance and she’s not afraid to get graphic about it  — “it” being the sex, the BDSM or Washington, DC society, which she regularly features in her series, the Elite Doms of Washington. Join her Sexy, Saucy, Sometimes Naughty exclusive reader’s group or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Transgender Romance, Anyone?

8 Dec
Andreja Pejic--a globally successful trans model.

Andreja Pejic–a globally successful trans model.

by Madeline Iva

In a wonderfully reassuring moment on Facebook — yes, I *know* how strange that sounds — I was in the middle of a discussion about transgender romances.  They’re out there.  And if you’re looking for something new when it comes to contemporary romance–something a little m/m but not–transgender romance might just be the ticket.

How do you come out to your folks that you're trans? "Mom, Dad, there's this really funny TV show I'd like you both to watch," could be your conversation starter.

How do you come out to your folks that you’re trans? “Mom, Dad, there’s this really funny TV show I’d like you both to watch,” could be your conversation starter.

Meanwhile, I would consider the last year to be “Year of the Trans”.  From Laverne Cox to Transparent, to using bathrooms, we’ve had more exposure and acceptance of this tiny group of individuals than ever before.url

With that increase in recognition and acceptance, of course the romance community has swelled to include romances starring trans hero/heroines.  HERE’S A GOODREADS LINK TO SOME TRANS ROMANCES you can scroll through. The descriptions at first may not SOUND like the romances are typical m/f.  But read closely and follow the reviews–you’ll see they are a bit more wiggly and complicated–breathing fresh life into familiar romance tropes.

Trans models are rocking the fashion world--which seems totally open to anyone and everyone--as long as they're skinny. It's a twisted kind of radical acceptance.

Trans models are rocking the fashion world–which seems totally open to anyone and everyone–as long as they’re skinny. It’s a twisted kind of radical acceptance, I guess.

For my part, I’ve become fascinated with trans model Andreja Pejic and this interview with Madeira Darling got me all revved up imagining a trans-sexual hijinks vampire plot that my obsessive brain will not leave alone.

Also, G.G. Andrews has started this whole #ReadHotter challenge at Lady Smut.  Trans romance really fits the bill for stretching my reading boundaries–how about you?  ; >

Carry on my wayward kittens! And if you’re bored and looking for sparkly-bright distractions, follow us at Lady Smut where we purr and snarl over all things fascinating in the world.

wickedapprenticefinal-fjm_high_res_1800x2700Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

Selene & Her Cold, Cold Heart: UNDERWORLD #5 Where Are We Going? Where Have We Been?

20 Oct neehz2hlbagphk_2_b
Cold kick-ass heroine? Yeah. LURV IT!

Cold kick-ass heroine? Yeah. LURV IT!

By Madeline Iva

I’m an Underworld follower—are you?  UNDERWORLD #5 BLOOD WARS comes out January 6th. I’m not a big movie franchise person. Didn’t see all the Twilight films. Didn’t see all the Star Wars films, Star Trek films, Hobbit films, etc, etc.

I’m going to go see UNDERWORLD BLOOD WARS for three reasons: Theo James, Theo James and Theo James.

If you’ve missed the whole Underworld franchise, below are reasons why I loved the original film-as well as which of the films to watch and which to skip. For those of you who have seen Underworld #1 – 4, check out down below where I parse the preview for Underworld #5.

WHY UNDERWORLD? It vampires vs. werewolves–or Lycans as they call them, and I’m all about cool, glittery Vampires with style. And even more about Theo James.

Before Theo popped up in Underworld #4, what first drew me into this world was Selene—cold, rational, ruthless Selene. All alone and perfectly bad-ass. Wearing head to toe black with ice blue eyes, she is a liquid ripple of lethal grace in a sapphire city. A female action adventure lead who sees trouble with a slight irritated wrinkle of her logical brow, and then proceeds to ruthlessly shoot up whatever needs obliterating.neehz2hlbagphk_2_b

But you haven’t seen the movies? You poor thing. Come with me, let me guide you through them.

UNDERWORLD #1 is awesome! Great casting. Great style. Great photography–shot in shades of elegant blue and black. Where are we? Who cares. Probably America. But not really.

The toys are fun too: Vampires invent liquid silver bullets–how do they stay liquid at room temp? Reasons. The silver spreads through a Lycans’ bloodstream killing them dead.  But the Lycans find a way to create these glow-y untra-violet liquid bullets.  It’s sunshine in a bullet and also kills vampires dead.

However, while the Lycans run around like homeless hipsters through the underground all fight club-ish in the sewers, the vampires have retreated mostly to their gated gi-normic estate where they hold parties and such.  Selene seems to be the only one out there doing the gritty job of nailing the Lycans with a spray of bullets in the subway system, while her cohorts are all obsessed with the pecking order and some stupid party.

michael

Michael is hot. And kinda cursed, poor guy.

One would think that Selene is without any feelings at all, but when she spots Michael she finds him interesting. She watches him from above – as he starts to experience a “my life is about to get pretty trippy right now” moment.  He’s hot in a Heath Ledger on steroids kind of way.

And yes, there’s a love story that develops.  Though at first it’s a “Shut up while I save your ass, idiot human” story.

The number one bad guy is played by the actor, Michael Sheen.  Michael Sheen’s greatness impresses me–I’m convinced he can do anything.  He was fabulous as “the pedantic one” in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, and so very good in MASTERS OF SEX.

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Michael Sheen–he’s soooo good!

To have a great story, your villain must be as compelling and as charismatic as your protagonists. We have that in Michael Sheen – he rivals our lovers in sympathy by the end, as well as in acting chops. Yet he’s willing to chew the scenery a bit, while the other two commit to underplaying their moments. (I love underplaying.  Seriously.)

And what’s-his-name –Bill Nighy, is GREAT as a clammy ancient vampire risen from his freeze-dried stasis. You get the feeling that if he was once human he’s long forgot all about it.  (It takes a certain kind of actor to sell that larger-than-life mythic quality–and Bill N is perfect.)

So we get a very good first half of the film, the beginning of the third act is great as well and the end wraps up with lot of fighting mixed with some dirty politics, then a lot more fight fight fight –and then we’re done.  Overall, Underworld #1 is very much worth seeing.

UNDERWORLD EVOLUTION is a great title–but a miss. Our protagonist from Underworld #1, Michael–aka Heath on Steroids–can transform into this bizarre, ferocious, black gargoyle thing.  The black gargoyle thing likes to fight.  And that’s what this movie is: fight fight fight, politics, politics, blah, blah, blah, fight fight fight. Selene, as always, has to get Michael back, fight everyone, then fight some more and–Yawn. Also the movie is shot too much in daylight. The Underworld franchise works best during the hours of midnight to 4am. I recommend skipping this movie.

Bill Nighy plays Viktor with relish.

Bill Nighy plays Viktor with relish.

UNDERWORLD 3, RISE OF THE LYCANS is freaky deaky. We go back to the past – and the past is bleak, my friends. It’s all stone castles, whips, and people layered in furs, wearing swords.  You know what I mean. I actually didn’t make it through the movie.  This ur-myth of the Lycans and how they came to be at war with the vampires for All Time was missing a crucial component for me–Selene.

I stopped watching when Michael Sheen and Rhona Mitra are making forbidden love. But they’re like, doing it sticking over the edge of a cliff. That was just odd. She was on top, and Michael Sheen was the one hanging over an abyss.  His character seems to like it.  Cliff kink.  Who’d a thunk it?

SIDE NOTE: Kate Beckinsale, by this time, was married to the director.  Which is like, uh-oh.  Because when she first came into the first Underworld movie she was married to Michael Sheen–with whom she has a child.  So there’s this whole personal relationship issue between Kate, the director Len Wiseman, and Michael Sheen–but Kate says they’re all cool.  Apparently she and Wiseman eventually broke up.len-wiseman

So although UNDERWORLD RISE OF THE LYCANS had it’s moments, it had no Selene. No Selene –and no Selene/Michael-Ledger-on-Steroids romance. This was a problem. Without Selene, I didn’t care.

But I’m still a believer!

the

Theo James is the kind of hero I can get behind.

UNDERWORLD AWAKENING got a big boost of energy in the form of Theo James and a tight new script that wasn’t exactly just the same-old same-old.  Selene had been caught and frozen.  She wakes up at the beginning of the film to find that we’ve gone from the kinda present to the near future – awesome! But wait! What about Michael? Selene is busting out of some nasty lab facility but before she leaves, she uses her sense of connection to track down Michael in another vampire popsicle container.  Only, when she busts in, it’s not Michael in the container.  It’s some tweener girl she’s never seen before.  Cool! But what about Michael?

They escape and discover Theo James.  Hell yeah—but what about MICHAEL?

I mean, the bite of love Selene feels for Michael–this is why we root for team Selene. And yet, I have to admit, if Michael has to die saving his little family or something and then Theo James steps in, I could live with that. I’m ready.

Ultimate decision: Underworld #4 is a decent movie. Plenty of Selene, and I’m able to let go Michael and move onto Theo.  Definitely worth watching.

Moving on!

UNDERWORLD 5: BLOOD WARS.  Here’s the trailer:

Okay, what can we ken from this 2:41 minute trailer?

Well, we’re back to Selene. And…there’s more Theo James.  (Fist pump!) What else can we glean from this preview? It’s shot in that blue-y light which makes me very very happy.

However, it’s not a good sign that they spend the first minute or so of the preview on the past.

marius

Marius–watch out. Selene is coming for you.

The villain looks GOOD. It’s that British actor I see in lots of things that I think of as Not-Cumberbitch. (He’s tall, has the same coloring and small squinty blue eyes too. He plays a Lycan named Marius. I like the way Selene spits out the words “Tell your leader—Marius–” Ptwoo! “I’m coming for him.”

Theo’s around and he’s protecting Selene.  Great! Bring it on! Apparently the Lycans want the blood of Selene and her daughter and…somehow this will make someone invincible?  There are kick ass Lycans, power-hungry vampires, and a woman with long white hair. There’s some winter wonderland stuff that ends with Selene wrapped up like a mummy being dunked in ice water…and some kind of cage match.

Sign me up! I know, it all sounds sort of muddled, but I have faith.  They clearly have great actors, the blue-y light, and Selene plus Theo. This is what I like and for the rest, I’ll cross my fingers and hope for the best, because this movie has such a great fantasy/paranormal vibe.

Alas, it’s going to come out months from now.  Meanwhile, my own fantasy romance is out in two weeks — and I’m having a give away to celebrate.  Stay tuned!

 

Right now you can click to pre-order it for .99 cents. Crazy, right?

Right now you can click to pre-order it for .99 cents. Crazy, right?

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available for pre-order and releases November 1st.  Sign up Madeline Iva news & give aways.  Follow her on facebook.

 

P*ssy, Unchained

18 Oct
Ready to grab your own? Click to buy.

Ready to grab your own? Click to buy.

By Alexa Day
A few days ago, at the Washington Romance Writers Reader and Blogger Appreciation Luncheon, my mom and I shared fried zucchini and conversation with Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Sarah said she was reading The Infamous Miss Rodriguez, which I later used to demonstrate the power of Amazon’s 1-Click Button for Mom. Mom talked about her favorite male/male romances; she’s partial to rock star heroes these days.
And then Sarah asked what I was reading.
“P*ssy,” I said.
Sarah and I were across the table from each other. I wasn’t altogether confident that she’d heard me, but the table went still, so I guess I didn’t have to worry about that after all.
“What?” she asked, tucking one finger behind her ear. The rest of the table might have heard, but she hadn’t.
“P*ssy,” I repeated, just a bit more loudly. I wasn’t trying to get the attention of the entire room, after all. But this time the whole table leaned in, looking for a confirmation that would lead to laughter and relief. Ohhh, everyone would say. We thought you said p*ssy.
When I said it the third time, I felt like E.F. Hutton. And then I felt really, really old for thinking of E.F. Hutton. Does anyone even remember E.F. Hutton? They’re still around, or I would put an ad here.
My point is that “p*ssy” is a loaded word. Just about 24 hours after the Republican candidate for President of the United States bragged that he could, with impunity, “grab [women] by the p*ssy,” here I was, trying not to shout the word over the appetizers. As a culture, we’ve been uncomfortable with the word “p*ssy” and what it represents for a pretty long time.
Enter P*ssy: A Reclamation by Regena Thomashauer. Put very, very simply, the premise of P*ssy is that a woman’s sexual energy is the most powerful force in existence … and that most of us have lost sight of that. Society has made the study of women’s sexual pleasure into something dirty. It has made women’s sexuality subject to the patriarchy. If women don’t want what men want, in the very specific way that men want it, then society decides that we are in need of correction and guidance. The result is that many, many women lose sight of what they want. Their desires are buried and ignored, and they are themselves diminished as a result.
I would submit that a patriarchal society isn’t always to blame for the suffocation of women’s desires. I thought I was in close contact with what I wanted, especially because I have so few people of influence in my life. But it’s been quite a year. Fear around the loss of one job. Frustration with another. Pressure from tight deadlines. A long, long list of tasks left untended for too long. For a long time, all I wanted was to be left alone — not a great place for an erotica writer to be.
The solution? Living a more “p*ssified” life.
P*ssy describes a course of action, a series of lifestyle decisions, and more than one event that had me wishing that I lived in a more sexually open place. (Is there a Demonstration of Extended Massive Orgasm course near me, I wonder?) Along with the guided tour of the female anatomy, P*ssy invites the reader to invest more time in self-pleasure of the sexual and non-sexual kind. The more time we spend exploring our desires and opening ourselves to the sensual world around us, the more powerful we become. We are receptive and transformative. We become “able to live a life that is based on [our] dreams rather than the agenda other people have for [us]” (page 46).
P*ssy leads us to reconnect to feminine intuition, to the deep well of emotion, to the broad spectrum of desires that have all been stifled by the world’s desire to see us safe, nice, and frankly, more manageable. No matter how we might have lost track of that tremendous feminine force — and so many of us remember exactly when that happened — P*ssy reminds us that it’s never too late to find our way home. The journey definitely has its roots in the sexual; you will spend a great deal of time touching and talking to yourself. Ask Your P*ssy, Panty-Free Friday, and an intense study of “Cliteracy” are definitely highlights of the book. But orgasm is a gateway to exalting the entire body. Dance, luxuriant meals, and indulgent self-care soon join a regimen of self-pleasure, which in turn leads to self-discovery and self-knowledge.
Alexa is not about to share Ray Donovan. Click to get your own.

Alexa is not about to share Ray Donovan. Click to get your own.

It all starts with p*ssy. In my case, if you’re interested, I finally determined that what I wanted was to spend a great deal of time watching Ray Donovan. In his own way, Ray is more overwhelmed than I am. But the ugly truth is that I would rather watch Liev Schreiber be overwhelmed than be overwhelmed myself. (Unless we’re thinking … well, you know.)
I gave Sarah Wendell and the rest of my lunch companions a much abbreviated version of all this. (I left Ray Donovan out of it. I didn’t even really want to tell you about that, but sharing is caring.) Whether people were interested in just the title or in the premise of the book, I’m not sure. At length, Sarah nodded at me.
“I read something much like that once,” she said thoughtfully. “It was called C*nt.”
No one asked her to repeat that.
Are you following Lady Smut?
Alexa Day is the USA Today bestselling author of erotica and erotic romance with heroines who are anything but innocent. In her fictional worlds, strong, smart women discover excitement, adventure, and exceptional sex. A former bartender, one-time newspaper reporter, and recovering attorney, she likes her stories with just a touch of the inappropriate, and her literary mission is to stimulate the intellect and libido of her readers. Check out her new release, Illicit Impulse, for plenty of sex, (experimental) drugs, and friendships with benefits.

The Shaming of Plus-Sized Women

3 Oct

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

Despite body positivity becoming a rising pop-culture buzzword, the overt shaming of plus-size women continues unabated. This week, it’s back in the headlines as presidential hopeful Donald Trump is called to task for his public shaming of former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado, particularly in regard to her weight.

This isn’t the first, nor will it be the last time a woman is publicly shamed or castigated or made to be less than worthy due to her weight and appearance. Our society and the media in particular put a lot of effort into brainwashing girls and women of all ages how much their intrinsic worth is tied up in how hot they are–or are not–and especially, how fat they are not–or are. A recent report by Yale researchers at Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity states, “The prevalence of weight-based stigmatization is now on par with rates of racial discrimination, and has been documented across multiple domains, including employment, medical, and interpersonal settings.”

But more and more lately, this malevolent attitude is not only being challenged but changed. Only a few weeks ago, fashion icon Tim Gunn wrote an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal chastising his fellow designers to step up and create fashion for the plus-sized woman. As a plus-sized woman myself, I’ve over snarl over the beautiful clothes for size zero or 2 and bemoan the busy patterns of dresses that look like mumus for a woman wearing a size 22. Because no woman at that size wants to feel attractive right? Why, I like to ask uselessly, can they not just make those lovely size zero clothes 22 sizes bigger??

Tim Gunn doesn’t quite say the same, but he does chastise designers for letting their size biases deny them the rich plucking grounds that are the only marginally tapped market of fuller sized ladies.

“The average American woman now wears between a size 16 and a size 18, according to new research from Washington State University. There are 100 million plus-size women in America, and, for the past three years, they have increased their spending on clothes faster than their straight-size counterparts. There is money to be made here ($20.4 billion, up 17 percent from 2013). But many designers — dripping with disdain, lacking imagination or simply too cowardly to take a risk — still refuse to make clothes for them.”

Preach it, Tim.

Tim’s not the only one taking strides to eliminate the shame incongruously rendered onto plus-sized women in the fashion world. Last week, Refinery29 launched “The 67% Project”. Since 67% of American women are a size 14 or higher but only 2% of media images reflect women of that size, Refinery29 decided to reverse those numbers.

“During the launch week, 67% of the bodies you see on our site, in our newsletter, and on our social platforms will be plus-size. To do this, we’ve made significant changes within Refinery29 to fully represent the 67% this week, and beyond….Not showing the 67% in normalized ways has real consequences: Plus size women earn less and are more vulnerable to discrimination.”

One of the ways they’re doing this is by partnering with Getty Images, plus-size clothier Lane Bryant, and aerie to offer stock images featuring plus-size women.

“The collection of 471 images are intended to increase the amount of diverse imagery being circulated around the web at any given time.”

Look, I’ve trolled stock photos till my eyes cross, always on the hunt for the perfect cover image for my next book. A quick stroll through these images stirs in me the same reaction: who comes up with this stuff? Who picks these scenarios? Because we all sit on the stoop and paint our nails, right? So in that case, these images are right on up there with the more standard 67%. There are even some boudoir and slightly risque shots with a discretely place condom as subtle as a blaring klaxon in case a high school sex ed teacher is looking for some relevant shots.

But where’s the damn romance? Where’s my frolicking couple on the beach with a strapping Navy SEAL, (let’s say, off the top of my head) swanning about with his plump lady love? Where’s the burly biker brooding off into space with his size 20 babe holding tight on the back of his Hog? If we’re really going to feature the 67%, feature ’em all the way. Take that size zero equivalent stock image and give us the plus-sized equivalent in all scenarios, not only the more conventional ones. I applaud the intent and execution, but I still think they’re playing it safe here, keeping to what will be more easily accepted by society at large rather than really giving it the goods.

But hey, this is Lady Smut. So, what about the sex?

Well, thank you for asking. Lemme steer all you inquisitive cusses toward The Adipositivity Project.

From their mission statement:

“The Adipositivity Project aims to promote the acceptance of benign human size variation and encourage discussion of body politics, not by listing the merits of big people, or detailing examples of excellence (these things are easily seen all around us), but rather through a visual display of fat physicality. The sort that’s normally unseen.

The hope is to broaden definitions of physical beauty. Literally.

The women you see in these images are educators, executives, mothers, musicians, professionals, performers, artists, activists, clerks, and writers. They are perhaps even the women you’ve clucked at on the subway, rolled your eyes at in the market, or joked about with your friends.

This is what they look like with their clothes off.

Some are showing you their bodies proudly. Others timidly. And some quite reluctantly. But they all share a determination in altering commonly accepted notions of a narrow and specific beauty ideal.”

Big is beautiful, baby.

For years in Romancelandia, that great bastion of female postivity where women are the heroes of their own story, lady protagonists were always lithe and beautiful with dainty chins and long flowing hair to their waists. Or something like that. But trends in women’s issues tend to take root first in romance novels often putting them ahead of the curve when it comes to birth control to being a single mom to women in the workforce…to plus-size heroines and/or body positivity. Jennifer Weiner’s debut novel Good in Bed, while not nominally a romance novel, was thought to be cutting edge at the time for featuring a plus-sized heroine in her quest for romance and love. Numerous romance novels have confronted the issues and emotional conflicts women have about their own bodies, especially when face with the unforgiving shaming that is societal expectations. Likewise, more and more the “curvy” heroine (what would romance be without our euphemisms?) is steaming up the pages as authors (and heroines) step out from the shadow of societal shame and step forward to find their happily ever after. And those heroes they meet find them to be a whole lot of fine.

What do you think? Would you like to see more women in Romancelandia depicted to be more like the 67%? Do you think those stock images do enough? Should there be more shame in plus-sized women or do there need to be more projects like Adipositivity?

Follow Lady Smut. We’re shameless every day.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Wild on the Rocksis now available. Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

My Girl Crush on Gong Li & Why Miami Vice Is The Crime Film of the Future

8 Sep gong-li

miami-vice-008by Madeline Iva

I was thinking the other day, i.e. doing the dishes, and watching MIAMI VICE (the movie, not TV show) staring Gong-Li, Colin Farrell, and Jamie Foxx.  [SPOILERS abound below—you’ve been warned.]

FIRST LET US DISCUSS THE OUTRAGEOUS HOTNESS FACTOR OF THIS MOVIE: I mean really. Jamie Foxx. Damn. Colin Farrell–mullet, mustache and all, with those big brown eyes—damn. And Gong-Li. I’m a little gay for Gong-Li. If I had to sleep with one of them, I think Gong-Li would be my first pick, but I wouldn’t say no to a foursome.

The love story in the center of MIAMI VICE is like the rich gooey filling at the center of a chocolate bon-bon.  So good, and then it’s gone.  Whenever I finish watching the movie on DVD, I walk around afterwards a little dazed, still living in the movie, still clinging to that mood of desperate longing.

gong-liThe film has many wonderful aspects, yet MOSTLY I’M OBSESSED OVER GONG LI’S CHARACTER. Which is not to say it’s a perfect movie. Do I believe she’s Cuban-Chinese? Nah. Do I care? Not really, because while her accent isn’t so great, she is helping to eradicate the role of “the girl” in crime film movies.  Her role transcends decades of stereotypes.

SHE’S PART OF THE GANG – NOT JUST A TOY  So many of the small female roles in crime films are accessories—these women characters are there to lounge about on couches looking bored, sexy and rich. I cannot stand these women roles.  They are trophies, an equivalent to a car or designer piece of furniture and with about as much personality.

No, in this film, Gong Li is the number two in command. When the undercover cops meet face to face with the representative of the cartel, Jose Yero, and his instincts start to pick up on Colin Farrell—that something’s not quite right about him—It’s Gong Li’s character, lurking in the shadows who tells Jose to the cut the shit, stop wasting their time. She’s an integral part of the plot—the cartel’s white collar money manager, and she helps call the shots in collaboration with the king pin.

biz-womanHER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE BAD GUY: It’s got some murky corners, admittedly. Michael Mann doesn’t take the time to spell things out from A-Z. She’s with the bad guy, yes as his business partner/employee, but not just that.   They’re involved.

montoya

Montoya, the drug king pin, has brown bedroom eyes, and there are little flourishes to this small role that are compelling.

However, she points out to Colin Farrell that they’re not married. She says doesn’t need a husband to support herself or to own a house. And we’re left to fill in the blanks however we want. Open relationship? It’s okay if it’s just physical? Later, she strait up tells king pin that she’s slept with Colin Farrell. Not to hurt the bad guy—she tells him to clarify her actions, and to avoid secrets as they discuss their path forward in doing business with the team.  Yet neither does she explain her reasons why to him.  He’s free to interpret it however he wants.

Me? I’m just thrilled to death that our bad-girl-good-girl is not drawn along that false dichotomy of worthy monogamous partner/slut.  And her actions are pivotal to the plot. Towards the end, it’s her emotional betrayal that determines everyone’s fate.

WILD CARD!  Jamie Foxx’s character Ricardo Tubbs, warns Colin Farrell’s character, Crockett at one point that “she’s may be many things…but in the end, she’s with them.”

And she is with them – until she and Colin have such hot chemistry that she’s with him too.miami-vice-movie15

They meet in a business setting. They trade just one long look that no one sees the second time they meet, and when the time comes he goes for it. He offers to talk to her about business, one on one. Instead of answering, she says she wants a ride on his boat. Then she asks him what he likes to drink. He’s a fiend for mojitos so off they to Havana Cuba (her home ground, not his) where they dance and dive deeply into one another until Sonny is not sure which way is up.

But in their short time together, whether it’s business or personal–and they go back and forth between the two with extreme fluidity—they are peers. They are collaborative. It’s written into the script with a bit of clunky-ness, but they play it out better that it’s written—and I LOVE IT!   Their doomed relationship—the hotness—the there’s-no-way-this-can-end-well desperation: I just wiffle that sh** up.

sad-endI am also left with another kind of longing. I want to write stuff as diverse as this movie. I want to show a couple (though perhaps a pair that’s a little less doomed) who lose nothing of their smexy twisty factor from the characters being on an even plane. Sigh.

OTHER REASONS WHY I LOVE THIS FILM: the characters—the multi-dimensional, multi-cultural, hot, and mostly very rational characters are what I totally fall for. Yes, visuals are lush and grand—Miami at it’s stormy, dramatic best. The soundtrack is full of moody feels that adds to it all. But it’s the characters—always the characters that I come back to.filmboatrace

CRIME FILMS OF THE FUTURE: Michael Mann provided a diverse cast in a setting that calls out for diversity: Miami. He made a crime film that’s a convincing mixed stew of race and gender. In painting his cast with a melting pot brush, he doled out a heaping portion of the power, the action, the leadership, and the romance to the POC’s and the women.

The result is that all of the characters have agency—not just the leads, not just the white people, not just the men.

Jamie Foxx may be a supporting role, (i.e. he gets a bit less screen time than Colin Farrell), but he’s not a side kick. He has a relationship as well—and if you think they’re all set from the beginning, you’d be wrong. His girlfriend plays a major role in the plot—and yes, her life is at stake at one point, but she is not in any way a victim. She’s part of the team, she has a job, and she is the one who determines the way forward in the face of threats they face.

"That's not what happens. What will happen is... what will happen is I will put a round at twenty-seven hundred feet per second into the medulla at the base of your brain. And you will be dead from the neck down before your body knows it. Your finger won't even twitch. Only you get dead. So tell me, sport, do you believe that?"

“That’s not what happens. What will happen is… what will happen is I will put a round at twenty-seven hundred feet per second into the medulla at the base of your brain. And you will be dead from the neck down before your body knows it. Your finger won’t even twitch. Only you get dead. So tell me, sport, do you believe that?”

THEN THERE’S THAT ONE SCENE — MY FAVORITE SCENE: It coulda been a guy doing the scene. It could have been Ricardo or Crockett rolling under the building, drilling a hole, inserting a camera, and going into the bad guy’s lair first. Instead Michael Mann gave this role to a woman on their team. The next moment is a tense stand off as Gina goes up against a guy with a bomb trigger ready to blow them all up. It’s such a bad-ass scene. It’s definitely on the level of the best Dirty Harry moment—but it’s underplayed, explosive and elegant all at once. In other words–it’s the BEST EVER!!!! My favorite moment in the movie, truly.

THE BAD GUYS HAVE DEPTH AND COMPLEXITY:

The bad guys are Hispanic, Chinese, and White supremacists. They work together as bad guys do when they’re focused on making mega amounts of cash. And while the white bad guys are completely repugnant, the POC bad guys are almost as hot and interestingly complex as the main characters are.

EVERY SINGLE MINOR ACTOR WAS SO CRAZY GOOD:

I feel like I could hold an Oscars award just for the category of best supporting actor in this one film. There are so many contenders: Gina, the team member whom I described above. The police commander, Martin Castillo, who gets some great lines. (My sweetie and I will occasionally quote his lines to each other from time to time.) There is no one in the entire cast who is not brilliant.

John Ortiz -- the most unsung brilliant actor in Hollywood today.

John Ortiz — the most unsung brilliant actor in Hollywood today.

However, the standout performance for me is John Ortiz who plays Jose Yero. This guy is a tremendous character actor with an enormous range. He is sadly unsung in Hollywood. You’ve probably seen him in the Silver Lining Playbook, and if you have, you’d have a hard time recognizing him in this movie. He takes a repugnant role and makes it so compelling, interesting, and charismatic. He brought a depth of emotion to a psychopathic pig. And!!! He did it with no words, just looks–just in the way he interacts with people.

So check out MIAMI VICE if you haven’t already.  It’s a movie you can revel in over and over again.

Meanwhile, if you want some desperate hotness in your life, follow us at Lady Smut.

Madeline Ivaimgres writes fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary romance.  Her novella ‘Sexsomnia’ is available in our LadySmut anthology HERE, Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, will be available for pre-order Oct 1st and out November 1st, 2016.

 

Playing Our Own Game … and Keeping Our Headphones On

6 Sep
Ovid actually wrote about game many, many years ago. He'd have mentioned headphones if he could have.

Ovid actually wrote about game many, many years ago. He’d have mentioned headphones if he could have.

By Alexa Day

Long ago, I would have been able to tell you the number to the pay phone in the center of the local mall, in the town where I grew up. This was back when there was such a thing as a group of pay phones in the center of the mall. In fact, I think the mall itself is gone now. But at one point, I had that number memorized.

Why?

At that point in time, long ago, I had a lot of people rolling up to me to ask for my phone number. It’s hard for me to say that; it sounds kind of immodest. I don’t think I was getting any more attention than any other woman moving unattended through the world. I do have a fairly high opinion of myself, but I don’t think I’m so hot that dudes are running across the street for my number.

At any rate, men were at that time coming up to me to ask for my number and then not leaving me alone until they got a number. So I gave them the number to that pay phone. They wrote it down — this was in the Dark Ages, so everyone had papyrus but not a cell phone — and then they’d go about their merry way. Most of these guys wouldn’t ask for a name, just the number. Sometimes, just to screw around with them, I would give them the number and then ask who they planned to ask for when they called. But most of the time, they would take that phone number and go, and I’d be free to go to the bookstore or wherever I was headed.

A few things have changed since then. I’m older, so I’m not getting as much attention. (Don’t feel bad. It’s nice to go to the bookstore uninterrupted.) Guys are using their cellphones to validate your number, so if you give them the mall phone, they’ll find out before calling. (I do still have a throwaway number, though. I wish I could say more, but for now, it’s enough to say it exists.) And a few women have paid with their lives for refusing male attention, which is a sad commentary on our modern society.

On top of that, the pick-up artist has become more visible.

I was introduced to the cult of the PUA, thankfully, by a male friend, with whom I had an arrangement. He knew I was dating, so he loaned me his copy of The Game, a book that looked like the Bible and which he treated with similar reverence, and told me to read it. “I just want you to know this is out there,” he said.

The world of the PUA has changed a little since The Game, but its essence is simple. The PUA appeals to the man who has so little confidence in his ability to attract the women he’s after that he needs to rely on tricks (called “game”) in order to fool women into sleeping with him. The success of the PUA stems from a few factors, one of which is that there is no shortage of men lacking in confidence. I do think the PUA community is overlooking a couple of important things, though.

1. Women can — and often do — read.

2. Women tell other women about the bizarre, pitiful, and downright abhorrent behavior they observe in men. We love doing this. We name names. We assign nicknames. We build a rich oral tradition. This has always been true of women. Somewhere out there, an archaeologist is about to discover an ancient text entitled The Song of Julia and the Nameless Dipshit Who Said He Would Give Her a Chocolate Every Time She Pleased Him, as if She Were a Dog and Not a Woman.

I’m grateful to my friend for telling me about the world of the PUA, especially because he had to know I would be angry when I read The Game. He put himself at risk to make sure I knew the PUA existed, and he didn’t have to do that. Because of his generosity, I know enough to keep the PUAs on my radar. That isn’t hard to do because, as I’ve suggested, they don’t seem to think that we are capable of reading about Game, silly creatures. They don’t even lock their forums down, so if a girl wanted, she could absolutely Google the stupid little chocolate game I mentioned above and find out exactly how it’s supposed to work.

Game doesn’t make me angry anymore, though. For one thing, it helps that I can see Game coming from miles away. But ultimately, the real problem is not Game itself.

It’s Wack Game. Wack Game is a problem for women and the men who employ it.

The Chocolate Stupidness is a prime example of Wack Game. In it, a dude is supposed to show up on a date with a bag of chocolates. When you ask the predictable question, “Why the hell did you bring a bag of chocolates with you?” the response is that he’s going to give you a chocolate every time you please him.

That used to make me really angry. Because seriously, what the hell is that? Does that ever work on anyone? And what’s to stop me from really making a scene over how ridiculous this is?

Now I see that it’s not my fault this person’s game is pitiful. It would only be my fault if I lowered myself to that level.
Into this environment rises The Modern Man, Dan Bacon, with his advice about how to get a woman to remove her headphones and subject herself to game.

I personally am unfazed by this, but then I’ve seen some incredibly wack game in my time. Still, I’m not surprised by the backlash to Bacon’s advice. I’m a little saddened that he’s edited the article under the negative pressure, but I understand negative pressure.

I’m not here to yell at Bacon, though. Because honestly, his advice is the same advice I would give to both men and women in this situation.

Let’s be objective about this for just a second.

Yes, the article does suggest that these men walk up to us and make a little gesture indicating that they want us to take our headphones off. Bacon recognizes that the presence of those things in our ears sends a message: I do not wish to interact with you. I myself have worn headphones connected to nothing at all just to send that message.

But you know what? If I’m wearing my earbuds connected to the inside of my jeans and some dude comes up to me with wack game, I just make get-away-from-me gestures and keep it moving. No problem. It works just as well as the number to the pay phone in the middle of the mall.

Indeed, Bacon himself advises men that we might decide to leave those headphones in. “If you notice that she doesn’t want to take off her headphones and doesn’t seem interested in talking to you at all,” he writes, “just respect that and leave the interaction without trying to talk to her any further. While it’s perfectly normal for a man and a woman to talk to each other, it’s not appropriate or fair for a guy to annoy a woman who doesn’t want to talk to him at all” (emphasis mine).

By the time we reach that place in the article, Bacon has made this point three times, and that was before he edited it.

Bacon makes another important point: if I actually take those headphones off, DO NOT BRING WACK GAME INTO THE SILENCE. Your continued presence is now an imposition on my free time. You have to be ready to add value to this interruption. The man who cannot do that, Bacon writes, shouldn’t even start.

Hallelujah. I can’t count the number of times I’ve advised male friends about not wasting our time. We have other things going on with our lives. Just don’t even start if your game is pitiful.

Let us be clear. I am not endorsing the use of PUA game to fool one’s way into another’s pants. I merely recognize that I cannot stop it. Because I can’t stop it, I’ve chosen to focus on avoiding or deflecting it. In other words, I can’t stop the fledgling PUAs of the world from waving their hands and making their headphones-off gestures. But I can absolutely make the decision to keep my headphones in and keep it moving.

Women moving through the world by themselves have always had to defend their spaces from unwanted male attention. I shouldn’t have to prepare myself to deal with annoyance (or physical danger) just to get from my couch to the bookstore. But sadly, that’s been a constant in our society for a pretty long time. I wonder if we’d get better results if we focused more on our own boundaries than on the erratic behavior of others. After all, I can’t control what other people are doing to and around me, but I have absolute control over my response to it.

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