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Sex in public, or why I read my erotica to live audiences

18 Mar

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Writing is a lonely act, and while I wouldn’t trade my writing time for anything, ever since I was first published in the erotica genre in 2000, I’ve sought to take that act out into the world and make it interactive with live readings. Because my stories and books veer toward the sexier side of things, I’ve found that audiences are incredibly hungry to hear people talk about sex in public in an honest, open, unashamed way. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or nonfiction, or what the exact details are: if you stand up in front of a crowd of people and are talking about getting naked, people will listen.


Me with burlesque performer Gigi La Femme at In The Flesh

For five incredible years of my life, from 2005-2010, I took that spirit and ran a reading series in New York called In The Flesh. In that time period, I hosted over 300 readers covering a range of genres, from erotic romance to memoir and poetry. While these days it’s but a fond memory, running In The Flesh remains one of the highlights of my career because it taught me an incredible amount about getting out of my shell and connecting readers with authors.

Yes, it was exciting when the events were covered on Gawker and Flavorwire, but what warmed my heart was walking into the relatively small bar where the readings were held and seeing both familiar and new faces each month. The people who showed up valued the community that formed sitting around tables before the readings just as much as what was said into the microphone. They valued the openness about all kinds of sexual interests that were presented with complete honesty, whether they were sex confessions or love stories, fetishes or fears, tender moments or raucous ones.

What thrilled me was when authors who made the erotica genre what it is today, like Susie Bright and Zane, deigned to grace my stage. If you want to make friends with writers, my advice is to start a reading series. Writers want to bring their words directly to people, want to find out which lines sizzle and which ones fizzle. They want to have a give and take with an audience, to share a part of themselves and have listeners share right back.


Zane reading at In The Flesh; photo by Stacie Joy

One piece of advice I give my writing students, but don’t always take myself, is to read your work out loud. Yes, it’s time consuming, yet I’ve never regretted doing it, because I always find elements that work differently when voiced. Well, live readings take that sensation and amplify it. If you’re reading from an already published work, sure, you can’t change the text on the page (unless you’ve self-published in ebook form), but you can learn how to phrase things differently next time. You simply hear yourself in an entirely new way.

That’s why, even though I now live in suburbia and don’t have access to many literary events, for my newest anthology, Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, I’ve made it a point to travel and bring these stories to life live. It also gives me the chance to get to know my authors in person and introduce their work not just on the page, but in front of actual people.

That’s an important part of my value system as a writer and editor, because I know that those who come out to hear a reading, given the myriad other options for how they could spend their evening, will remember the little things. They’ll remember the funny behind the scenes story or bit of local inspiration a writer shares. They’ll remember the way someone’s voice drops or how they shift or blush. They’ll remember the sound and texture and rhythm and energy when they’re at home, rereading those same words. I know I certainly do, and once I’ve heard an author read their work out loud, that forever changes the way I approach it when I return to it on my own.

For all that, though, readings are not easy. You are competing with the weather, with other events, with TV and every other form of entertainment out there. You never know how many people will show up, or how much they will pay attention once they do. You don’t know if someone will ask a question during a Q&A that is utterly inappropriate. There’s no guarantees and room for any and all surprises, which is part of the magic and the horror of doing live readings. There’s no delete button, only spur-of-the-moment decisions.

Then there’s the actual opening your mouth and sharing your words part. The truth is, for me, even reading my work out loud is incredibly scary. No matter how many readings I’ve done, I still shake and get nervous and want to duck and hide whenever I step in front of a mic, or look up and see eyes eagerly expecting me to entertain them. It’s a far cry from staring at a blank screen, which, while demanding in its own way, is not one I will ever disappoint.

I don’t know if something that was a breeze to write will suddenly remind me of an intimate part of myself I didn’t realize I’d revealed in print. I often cringe as I mentally go back and try to re-edit my words, inserting a more charming phrase rather than a clunker that now seems totally wrong.

But what I’ve learned from sharing my stories everywhere from famed lesbian bar Meow Mix (RIP) to London sex toy store Sh! and countless places in between is that it’s worth getting over those nerves. Why? Because readings bring out our humanity. While words on a page (or screen) remain the same, we will never speak them aloud again in the exact same way. I learn more about myself and my work every time I read it aloud, and as an anthology editor, I treasure being able to hear my authors voice their work and bring out nuances I never would have gotten if I hadn’t heard them.

If I were rich, I would find a way to do readings with every author in my anthologies, because while I’m infinitely grateful that my books are on bookstore shelves, in ebook formats and out as audiobooks, it makes me fee like I’ve come full circle as an editor to get to smile and look directly into my authors’ eyes, to get to know the person behind the story, to take a tale I’ve come to think I know and add even more depth to it.

I also want to help create public spaces where listeners can hear writers, especially women, sharing stories about love, sex, romance that come from the heart. When my voice drops as I read, or I stammer, or I make a last minute decision to skip a part that no matter how many dirty words I’ve written, suddenly seems “too embarrassing” to say in front of people who I’ll be mingling with in an hour, I’m being human. I’m not three names in a fancy font on the cover of a book or a Twitter handle, but a person revealing my flaws and insecurities.

That human element is one that can’t be replicated. As I said at the beginning, writing is lonely, but when you hear someone chuckle or exclaim or gasp or whisper, it’s an incredible feeling, one that, for me, is worth all the nerves. It means that my words, the ones I often struggle over, the ones that seem distant because they were written one or two or ten years ago, are suddenly vivid and alive.

Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned is that audiences don’t expect me to be perfect (I do enough of that on my own). They’re okay if I trip and stumble over a word, if I suddenly get shy, if my persona on the page doesn’t quite match up to who I am in a room full of strangers. They aren’t looking for a false version of perfection, but for genuineness, and that I can amply provide.

So if you’re in Chicago, or know anyone else who might be and would like to hear some sexy stories about everything from a woman used as a lover’s canvas to a couple and a tentacle dildo to a woman whose erotic airplane adventures are reported back in breathless detail to her husband, I hope you’ll join me and my authors Tara Betts and Rose P. Lethe on March 31st. I promise we’ll give you an event to remember.


The Art Of The Spank

24 Feb

By Elizabeth Shore

Our fellow Lady Smutter Rachel Kramer Bussel recently posted a wonderful article on how to achieve orgasm through spanking. Full of insight as to why some lucky folks can get off from getting spanked and the emotional connection tied to it, there was one line in the article that got me thinking. Rachel wrote – referring to the heroine in the short spanking story “Restitution” by Ria Restrepo – “…the man delivering those blows knows precisely what he’s doing.”

Intriguing! But how exactly does the dude learn to deliver those orgasm-worthy blows? Surely perfection comes with practice and there’s much to be said for learning on the job. Yet what about if you’re the kind of person who likes to do her homework? What about if you prefer reading a recipe to throwing all the ingredients in a pot and seeing how it comes out? Is there a spanking primer for the studious among us? Well, of course there is, silly! It’s called the Internet.

It was interesting to note that upon a quick Google search for lessons in how to spank, kink spanking – thankfully –  far and away rose to the top over spanking a child. (wikiHow does provide lessons in the latter, complete with drawn pictures. Creepily disturbing). But the first how-to for what I was after comes via our friends at Cosmopolitan. In their humorously titled “Guide to Cheeky Sex” the Cosmo slideshow provides tips via sexologist Dr. Sadie Allison.

I actually thought the suggestions here were pretty decent. The initial message was that you’ve got to introduce the idea of backdoor blows slowly to your man, lest it turn into a butt ugly experience for you both. You might begin with a massage before progressing to rubbing your naked body all over his bare bum. Give him a couple playful blows before notching up the intensity and moving from bare handed smacks to paddle play.

Over at SoFeminine, they’ve called on help from spanking master Allison England. She hosts a spanking salon over at Coco de Mer, London’s “spanking emporium,” so I figure she knows what she’s talking about. Much of her advice is similar to Dr. Sadie’s, but she also has an additional tip. For maximum enjoyment when using a paddle, go for the “sweet spot,” also known as the lower area of the bum. She also advises, for female spankees, to wear crotchless panties while getting smacked. Pressure on the labia from the straps on the central part of the panties can be arousing to the point of achieving orgasm. Sounds A-OK to me.

Of course, it you don’t feel like reading up on spanking tips, you can always head over to YouTube and watch them. There are spanking videos a’plenty. Or, you can watch one of my favorite spanking scenes of all, from Secretary. Maggie Gyllenhaal is superb as she moves from surprise to arousal in the span of two minutes. Of course, James Spader is the one doing the spanking, so …

Enjoy. And before you go, get your a** in gear and follow us at Lady Smut. We’ll keep busting our butts to bring you fresh content every day of the week.


Sexual empowerment on our own terms

19 Feb

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Recently, actress Emily Ratajkowski wrote an essay about female sexuality for Lenny Letter that I resonated with me. She detailed the ways we tell women that sexuality is something to be hidden, contained, dangerous, whether it’s a teenager whose bra strap is showing or too much lip gloss. As she put it:

The implication is that to be sexual is to be trashy because being sexy means playing into men’s desires. To me, “sexy” is a kind of beauty, a kind of self-expression, one that is to be celebrated, one that is wonderfully female. Why does the implication have to be that sex is a thing men get to take from women and women give up?


Emily Ratajkowski via Facebook

This reminded me of a time a few years ago when I was wearing one of my favorite dresses, a turquoise short-sleeved number with a ruffled on top and a zipper that lands between my breasts. I’ve worn it on dates, but considered it classy enough to wear to temple with my family. A man I didn’t know wouldn’t stop talking to me; I was polite but kept trying to avoid him. My mom implied that it was my dress; if I’d been more covered up, he would have left me alone.

What kind of world do we live in where it’s our job as women to constantly second guess what men might think of what we wear, what signals they imagine we are sending? It also reminded me of Christen Brandt’s viral Facebook post, where she detailed being sexually harassed this winter while wearing this outfit:


Brandt wrote:

Next time you wonder whether your skirt is too short, next time you ask your teen daughter to change her clothes, or the next time you hear about school dress codes in the news, remember this photo.

I am in a fucking parka and boots. 

And it. doesn’t. matter.

But this post isn’t just about the ways our sexuality and our bodies can be used against us, but about how reclaiming our sex appeal after we’ve been shamed, can be part of our process of digging out from under all that sexism and cultural baggage telling us what we should or shouldn’t do with our bodies. I just finished the first of three linked erotic romances, Everything I Left Unsaid by M. O’Keefe (aka Molly O’Keefe).


What stood out for me is that the heroine, Annie, a domestic violence survivor who’s fled from her husband after he tried to kill her, is fighting back against a lifetime of shame not just about her sexuality but about her very existence. She’s been told for too long that she’s essentially worthless, but has cobbled together a new life for herself that she’s starting to test out.

With the help of steamy phone calls from a sexy stranger, Dylan, she starts to piece herself back together, but at her own pace. What I especially loved about the book is that a large part of the sex here isn’t about one-on-one in-person action, but at a remove, with Annie protected by the safety of the phone, by the fake name she uses at first. She is able to ease into discovering what turns her on because she’s able to tap into all the parts of herself she’s had to hide for so long. O’Keefe writes:

I slipped one finger past the sharp elastic, pulling the other side harder against my skin, which made me gasp and pull it tighter, until the elastic brushed up against my clit.

“Oh my God,” I breathed and then, experimenting, I pulled both sides of my underwear down between my lips and I nearly shot off the bed. Carefully, I used the pressure, slow and driving, sharp and fast, to find out what I liked better.

And the truth was—I liked it all. Even the touches that didn’t add to the stone-rolling-downhill of orgasm, I liked. The side trip of my fingers agains the skin of my leg. The act of pushing my hair—sweaty and damp—off my face. The lift of one arm up over my head.

It was as if my body—which had seemed my entire life to be stupid and heavy, an entity to be pushed and smacked, a blind and dumb feature made only for work, its only skill a certain kind of stillness, a trick of getting smaller so as not to be seen—had been transformed.

No, not transformed. Not really.

It was as if I’d found buried beneath the skin a secret wisdom. A dark knowledge.

Like it had just been waiting for me to find it.

A woman pushing her hair off her face might not seem like such a momentous act, and it might not be for most characters. But the point here is that Annie is exploring herself for the first time, getting to know what kinds of touch and sensations her body responds to. Her masturbation scenes are a refreshing and vital part of the novel because they allow her to later open herself up to getting naked in front of Dylan literally, not just figuratively.

For Annie, sex was a thing her husband took, not something where her pleasure was ever truly considered. It was something to get through, something he controlled entirely. Reading about her transformation, seeing her stand up for herself to Dylan, and having him appreciate her for her gumption, made this one of my favorite recent romance reads.

Like Ratajkowski, Annie doesn’t disown sex even though it’s been presented to her as dangerous. And even though it’s a love story (one with, warning, a cliffhanger ending), O’Keefe makes it clear that Annie isn’t “saved” by Dylan simply because she falls for him. She saves herself, and her sexual journey is one about unlocking what’s inside her.

Ratajkowski also wrote in her essay:

Where can girls look to see women who find empowerment in deciding when and how to be or feel sexual? Even if being sexualized by society’s gaze is demeaning, there must be a space where women can still be sexual when they choose to be.

That’s something I look for when I read erotic romance and erotica as well as in the real world, and heroines like Annie are wonderful examples of women who don’t simply accept the way sex is presented to them by the world, but look for ways to make sex their own.


Books We Can’t Stop Thinking About: Picks from the LadySmut Ladies

26 Dec

by Elizabeth SaFleur

Have you ever read a book that you cannot erase from your mind? It gets inside you. Joins your soul. Makes you wish you lived like them . . . and there. Below are LadySmut’s list of “books we can’t stop thinking about.” They may not have been published in 2015, but we read them this past year. And, we just can’t let them go!

From LadySmut Blogger G.G. ANDREW: Badger by C.M. McKenna (a pen name for erotica and romance writer Cara McKenna).

Though not technically a romance, it tells the love story of a former pill addict and the Boston vigilante she’s obsessed with. This book (which should come with many, many trigger warnings) made me feel at different times intrigued, amused, delighted, and completely disturbed. I couldn’t put it down, even when I really wanted to. It’s definitely a story that will stick with me for years.

From LadySmut Blogger MADELINE IVA: For Real by Alexis Hall. 

Hot older, more experienced sub gets together with inexperienced, smaller, younger dom.  This book really spoke to me.  So romantic, but also full on BDSM-y too, and done so well. The prose reminded me of Charlotte Stein (who you all know I lurv) and I found it to be a cleanly written, emotional, hot m/m journey.

From LadySmut Blogger ALEXA DAY: Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight by Alyssa Cole. 

It’s a historical novella based on the very real Tournament of the Black Lady. The story is set in the court of King James IV; the king is hosting a tournament with a kiss from Agnes, who is black, as the prize. Turns out that an extremely hot Highlander is dead serious about winning that prize. The story isn’t long, but it doesn’t feel rushed at all. I definitely got to know Gareth (that hot Highlander) and Agnes very well. This is a short but quite well developed romance, and Alyssa Cole doesn’t spare the heat! I remember it so well because I don’t see many interracial romances set during that historical period, and this one is written beautifully. And it’s super hot. And I would read another fifty stories like this. How can I get Alyssa Cole to write fifty more stories like this one?

From LadySmut Blogger RACHEL KRAMER BUSSELS.E.C.R.E.T., English edition by L. Marie Adeline
(read a sample at

S.E.C.R.E.T., book one of the S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy, came out in 2013 but is an erotic novel I return to over and over. It’s about a group of women who help other women who are down on their luck fulfill their top sexual fantasies. It sounds outlandish, but in Adeline’s hands it almost sounds plausible. It’s got erotica, romance and female empowerment, all full of such sexiness I swoon each time I read it. Confession: Now that I know the plot, I re-read the sex scenes.

From LadySmut Blogger ELIZABETH SAFLEUR: The Master (The Game Maker Series) by Kresley Cole. 

Not only do you get a hot Russian mafia billionaire and one sassy heroine in this story, but genuine heat and a plot(!). I also genuflect before this author’s ability to throw in THREE languages — English, Russian and Spanish — that didn’t have me confused for a second but rather colored the story with texture beyond anything I’ve read in a while.

From LadySmut Blogger ISABELLE DRAKE: The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore. 

It’s a fascinating read for anyone who likes comics and is interested in women’s history. (Direct and to the point!)

From LadySmut Blogger KIERSTEN HALLIE KRUM: Serving Pleasure (Pleasure Series) (Volume 2) by Alisha Rai

Even after writing about Serving Pleasure on Lady Smut last June, I still cannot recommend it enough. Here’s what I said then:

Alisha Rai writes some of the best diverse, feminist, erotic romance out there today, a fact also on display in her novel A Gentleman in the Street. Her heroines ooze agency and revel in their sexuality; her heroes are complex and often surprisingly against stereotype. Her books are gutsy and original with sizzling, emotion-filled sex that will leave you buzzing for days.

With every stroke that conjures Rana and Micah’s depths and their significant emotional stakes, Ms. Rai brings these fully-fleshed, complicated people to life through words that are polished and witty, engrossing and poignant. At times funny with a touch of screwball comedy, Serving Pleasure explores the themes of family expectations and failures and the struggle of trauma recovery with grace and care through pages of sensual pleasure threaded with tender scenes of self-discovery and forgiveness.

Also from KIERSTEN HALLIE KRUM:  Make You Burn by Megan Crane

The first in the Deacons of Bourbon Street series from Loveswept, Make You Burn was my gateway motorcycle club romance book, a rabbit hole from which I still have not emerged. I had a fabulous chat with the Bitches of Bourbon Street—aka Megan Crane, Jackie Ashenden, Rachael Jones, and Maisey Yates—while at the Romance Writer’s of America’s national conference in June. This is what I had to say about Make You Burn and its fantastically filthy hero, Ajax:

­[Ajax] knows exactly who and what he is and makes zero apology for it, which is its own kind of sexy. His confidence is intoxicating and anyone who encounters him knows he’s good for whatever he says he’s going to do. He puts a capital A on Alphahole and you just want to thank him for it as you test the durability of the nearest flat surface while taking off your pants and that’s before you get to his dirty, dirty sex skillz.

On the surface, Make You Burn is a smokin’ hot, MC erotic romance and holycrap, does it deliver on that promise. But it’s also a story about dealing with immense loss and struggling to find purpose and balance in the face of excruciating grief–and what happens when the life you thought you hated is the person you can’t possibly live without.


Another from KIERSTEN HALLIE KRUM: Walk Through Fire (Chaos) by Kristen Ashley

I didn’t review Walk Through Fire specifically (as dramatic, sexy, and emotional as it is, it’s not an easy or perfect book, but I do recommend it given I’ve read it oh, about eight times) my MC romance rabbit hole dive took me to Ashley’s on-going Chaos series: Ride Steady, Fire Inside, Own the Wind, and Walk Through Fire. (The first in the series is actually Motorcycle Man, last in Ashley’s Dream Man series.) Since then, along with the Chaos and Dream Man series, I’ve also read (and re-read) Ashley’s ‘Burg series, Colorado Mountain Series, and Unsung Heroes series. I went on and on and on about why you do not want to start reading Kristen Ashley’s books (if you want to, say, keep having a life, that is) in my post WARNING: Do NOT Read Kristen Ashley. Here’s a sample of why:

Do not read Kristen Ashley books if you aren’t prepared to stay up until 4 AM wondering when the hell the damn book is gonna end because you need to sleep and then not caring because the need to finish it outweighs all other considerations like the fact that you have to get up in three hours and capably perform your freaking job that you’re now seriously considering quitting because it means you won’t be able to continue reading Kristen Ashley books for about 8 to 10 hours.

Do not read Kristen Ashley’s books if you have “just one more chapter” disease or its symptomatic brethren, “just one more page” syndrome, which are both a short trip to the dreaded “Dead Reader Walking” epidemic. That sucker spreads like damn and wow with the speed of a “buy with 1-click” button. I hate that button. I need that button. But I hate that button.

And, that’s that. Get those one-clicking fingers going, my lovely ladysmutters.

Happiest of Holidays to you and yours. May you find only stellar reads in the new year. (Tell us if you find something particularly fabu. We’re all ears, er, eyeballs.)

Bring Horns: Watching, Cuckholding, & Other Things Couples Do on Dirty Dates

12 Nov

Click to buy.

by Madeline Iva

Curious about cuckholding—a kind of couples kink? (Say that three times fast!)

Then you wanna check out CROSSTOWN CRUSH.  Samira is married to Mike.  So Samira comes home from girl’s night out covered in men’s cologne so Mike can get jealous. (Cause it turns him on.)  Then he confronts her on it, and she humiliates him with a shrugging confession of his inadequacy. (Cause it makes him hot.) She spells out her need to get a good dicking by someone other than him. Which–you guessed it–gets him horny as hell. Then he goes all cave man on her, and ‘reclaims’ her, i.e. boinks her with a fierce roughness which she really likes, so they both get off.

This was a weird book for Cara McKenna. A careful book. Samira is going along with her husband’s kink and it’s with raised eyebrows that we readers follow her on that journey.

It’s like as she wrote it Cara was thinking “This could go so wrong in several hundred ways.” And then she just grabbed her readers by the hand, saying “I’m gonna explain this, and then, trust me, it’s gonna be hot.”

And that’s what she does. Explains and explains. Then it gets pretty hot.

Pink Bow

Click to buy — .99 cents!

Because what happens is, Mike and Samira decide to up the ante and get a real guy to play the role of the man shagging Samira in their fantasy life.  Enter Bern stage left. (Bern is short for Bernard) Bern is hotness on a stick.

I think this is a book aimed squarely at me as a reader. I’m like: cuckholding? Hunh? Whaaaa? I needed that intro with all it’s careful Reasons. McKenna presents Mike savoring the kink which works.  But when Bern comes on stage things heat up and get mighty interesting.

If you’re a Cara McK addict, this book delivers. She has that talent for being oh-so-dirty, yet still classy as hell.

Random aside: What struck me most was the emphasis on generosity in this book. (Note to self—include more of it in my romances.)

Moving on. Mike’s kink was cuckholding, while Bern liked to be watched.


Click to buy. Only .99 cents!

WATCHING by Bethany James is out.  You may remember that I talked about her great dirty book recs HERE. Read her story, cause WATCHING is also about–you guessed it–exhibitionism. It’s a twenty-something’s gentle journey to the land of forbidden hot dirty sex with randy grown-ups.

What I liked best? Those little frissons she has during experiences that touch upon lines of naughty shame and transgression. I’d say both of these books are at their hottest when they put their finger right there and keep it there. Ooh yeah.  Just like that. Don’t stop.

Finally, if you’re like: why aren’t there more cuckholding stories out there? Why? Why? Why? Then check out our very own Isabelle Drake’s cuckholding short story THE PINK BOW. It’s a short little f–kfest with a charm all its own.

And if you’re looking for the perfect dirty date for your own couple-dom, look no further.  Rachel Kramer Bussel edited this great little DIRTY DATES anthology just for you.  Buy it HERE.

Click to Buy

Click to Buy

Th-th-th-that’s all folks! See you next week. In the meantime follow us at Lady Smut. We’ll never lead you astray. (Only because you want us to.)

Hot, Sweaty, Dirty. Got A Problem With That?

11 Nov

Hot guy with absBy Elizabeth Shore

Many years ago I had a single title historical published called Season of Splendor that includes a love scene in which the hero and heroine have hot, dirty, sweaty sex down in the basement where the hero is shoveling coal. I loved the imagery of that scene as I played it out in my mind. The raging fire in the giant stove. The relentless heat. Bodies coated in sweat. Here’s what I wrote:

He tossed aside the shovel and walked steadily toward her. Neither of them said a word. It was hot in the room – very hot. Fire roared from the coal stoves and the heat had long ago forced Devon to remove his shirt. As he drew closer Claire could see his muscles slickly outlined by the sheen of sweat covering his body. He crossed the room as gracefully as a panther, captivating her with the way his body moved. He was a study of masculine perfection. When at last he stood before her, she shook with desire.

Then, of course, they go on to have wonderful, nasty, soot-covered sex. That scene came to mind as I was thinking about our celebration this week to mark the release of our own Rachel Kramer Bussel’s Dirty Dates anthology. As I considered what to write about dirty dates, I thought, why not write about actual dirtiness? And then I thought of that scene.

There’s something incredibly sensual about messiness and sex. Think bodies covered in food, whipped cream and dripping chocolate smeared everywhere, tongues lapping it up. As I considered why that’s sexy, I started thinking that maybe it’s the relinquishing of control that’s the sexy driver here. When you get down to it, after all, sex is messy. Bed head, makeup smudged, not to mention the … er … fluids. But if you trust someone enough that you’re willing to give up that control, and give in to the messiness, ooooh the pleasures that await you.

OK, I’m good with that. But I’m still kinda hung up on what makes the messy so sexy. Let’s do a side-by-side comparison.

Young elegant business man leaning on a grey wall with his hands in pockets, looking away from the camera.










To be sure, I tried finding similar photos. These two don’t quite do the trick. The suit guy is taken from farther away than dirty pickaxe guy. Nevertheless, I pose the question to the masses: which one appeals? If someone, you know, twisted your arm and you just had to choose one of these two to take between your sheets, who comes out the winner? Now let’s be clear: I’m not talking about which one looks like he’d make a better living and know how to treat a girl in style. The edge would most certainly go to suit guy. And frankly, maybe the edge goes to suit guy regardless. Maybe the clean cut look will be our winner. I know who I’d go for. How about you?

After getting churned up after considering these two guys, how about grabbing your own man and sitting down together for a joint read of Dirty Dates. With the scorching hot kink for couples, you’ll be sure to keep your engine hot. And dirty.Dirty Dates


Dirty Dating Made Easy

10 Nov


By Alexa Day

Dating bores me.

I spent a good deal of time on outfits and meeting people and, of course, on the dates themselves before I arrived at that conclusion and stopped dating altogether. I’m actually happier in a post-dating world. I tend to think many of us are dating out of fear that WE’LL END UP ALONE as if that’s the worst thing that could possibly happen to us. I don’t think it makes a great deal of sense to do anything out of fear that some phantom consequence might result.

I don’t think I’m going to END UP ALONE. I don’t think that’s the worst thing that can possibly happen to me (it’s not even top five). And so I don’t miss dating all that much.

Part of my problem with dating is that I felt like I was on the same date over and over again. There might be a pre-date first — an initial meet and greet over an inexpensive beverage, so that we can get a look at each other. And then the date itself: a drink, then dinner, then maybe some other thing (dessert, another drink, or a brief activity). They’re all nice enough evenings. But they’re largely interchangeable.

There were bright lights. One guy took me contra dancing, which was a giddy, breathless good time with a scandalous waltz at the end of the evening. Another guy took me to a baseball game, where we shared true confessions over cheap beer well into the extra innings. I once met a young soldier who invited me to a wild military bacchanal.

Aside from that, though, it’s the same old date, different dude. It’s as if guys are afraid of giving offense by deviating from a worn-out routine. I’d hate to think they’re just not putting the effort in.

It’s important that we understand each other here.

There is some suspicion that because I write erotica and erotic romance, I have a skewed idea of what dating is supposed to look like. I’m pretty sure that isn’t happening. For one thing, I don’t write about dating. I hate it, remember? For another, as a romance writer, I breathe life into considerate, smart, sincere, kind, but fictional men. They might be a little hotter than the average Joe, but honestly, I’ve gone out with the sorts of guys who would do just fine in the typical erotic romance.

I’m being perfectly realistic. I’m just tired of going on the same date over and over again.

Why can’t we go to the MMA bouts? The local ones. The ones in the cinder block building at the end of the long, winding gravel road, far away from streetlights and strip malls and reliable wireless reception. They’re in a close, poorly lit room filled with metal folding chairs, and the men in the ring are talented amateurs who can charge the air with testosterone until it feels like lightning is going to strike. I wouldn’t mind spending an evening in a makeshift arena watching the local gladiators size each other up while we have ice-cooled beer and super-salty popcorn. It might be cool to place a bet or two — just between us — as the night progresses. Whoever wins the last wager can collect as we wind our way through the maze of cars, pretending that we don’t remember where we parked.

Why can’t we go to the burlesque show? If the MMA was all about testosterone, burlesque is a celebration of the feminine. It’s a chance to slowly revel in curves and feathers and glitter and tassels and all that fabulous teasing. Music and laughter and sensuality. Why not the strip club? I don’t have anything against the strip club, but I don’t think we can claim it has the same level of artistic subtlety as burlesque. Besides, I’ve been to the strip club. I’ve been to the strip club many, many times. The goal, remember, is for me not to be on the same date over and over again.

No? Well, we could go to the bar at the most expensive hotel in the city. We could park ourselves in the corner, so that we can see everyone with little trouble. And as the weekend folks hustle in and out on their way to their own evening plans or returning from that last conference session, we could watch them flirting with each other. We can watch the the ancient game of seduction played by the masters — because even though modern times have eroded that venerable art form, its best practitioners can still be found at the hotel bar. Take it from a hotel bartender. After taking in the fine spectator sport that is seduction over drinks, we might try out some techniques on each other. Or on our fellow drinkers. The hotel bar is all about discretion.

Now doesn’t that sound like fun? Wonderful, subversive, delightfully dirty fun?

Want to ramp it up a little? Want to ramp it up a lot?

Thought so.

If I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of your dating desires, you’re all ready for Dirty Dates. It’s a smoking hot anthology edited by our own Rachel Kramer Bussel, so you know it’s crammed full of stories about all the very best things that can happen when two people get together. New couples, established couples — yeah, it’s all in there. Know what else is in there? Figging. There’s figging.

Aren’t you reassured that deepening romance and super-hot sex can survive side-by-side? I know I am. I don’t do sacrifice well. Might be another reason dating and I don’t get along.

Check out how hot dating can be with a print copy of Dirty Dates — it’s all ready for you right now, today! Or you can make yourself all squirmy and wait for the ebook next week. Choose your pleasure.

And follow Lady Smut. We’ll never bore you.

We’re Warming Up For Summer!

17 May
Doesn't everyone have a pre-summer beach practice run?

Doesn’t everyone have a pre-summer beach practice run?

Hey there, neighbors!

The ladies of Lady Smut are taking a bit of a vacation this week, in order to properly prepare for the summer. There’s just so much to do. Scheduling pedicures. Shopping for sundresses. Popsicle-licking classes. The annual changing of the cabana boys. (That one might be just me, but if you’re interested, you know where to find me.) We’ll be back in time for Memorial Day, though, with loads of summer fun to keep everyone hot and bothered in the coolest possible way.

While we’re gone, consider this a week-long open house. Check out the Shop and some of our most recent posts. And enjoy one of my favorite summertime anthems.

(A lot of so-called “official” videos of this song are only four minutes long. Just think that over, little lobsters.)

Get ahead of the game, and hit that Follow button now. See you soon!

Don’t forget to head over to Goodreads and get in the drawing for a copy of The Lady Smut Book of Dark DesiresYou need some hot beach reading.

The Human Side of Sex Dolls

15 May

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Editing erotica has been my personal form of adult sex education—not the kind you’d find in a school setting, perhaps, but one that has greatly expanded my knowledge of human sexuality and empathy for a far wider range of people than I’d have otherwise. Being exposed to fetishes, kinks and fantasies I would never have dreamt up in a million years on my own has forced me to recognize how vast the human sexual experience truly is, and to push myself out of my comfort zone to see the world and its eroticism through new yes.


This was especially the case when I decided to publish the short story “Must Love Dolls” by Giselle Renarde in my anthology Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, about a couple who purchase a Japanese love doll. To the best of my memory, I’d never read an erotic story about a love or sex doll before, and what impressed me the most wasn’t just that Renarde managed to humanize an inanimate object, but to make the tale both sexy and romantic. She took a topic that could have come off as creepy and turned it into an ode to love and rekindling a woman’s bisexual desire:

Honor’s stomach knotted with nerves as she cupped one of Natsuki’s perky silicone breasts. She could hardly breathe as she carried that significant weight on her palm. It had been ages since she’d touched any breast but her own.

“How does it feel?” Tom asked.

“Heavy.” She sank onto the bed, wrapping her arms around the love doll, pressing both big breasts together and wishing she were naked too. “Her skin’s so soft. Her hair smells like lilies. God, I’ve missed this.”

“Playing with dolls?” Tom asked.

“Playing with women.”

He smiled. “I know, babe. Take off your top.”

She did him one better and stripped bare. “I’m nothing to look at, compared with Natsuki.”

Tom raised an eyebrow. “I’m looking at you.”

He always knew the perfect thing to say, and it made her horny as hell. She grabbed his belt and unbuckled it, then tore into his pants and found his erection. He was as hard as she was wet.

“I want to look between her legs,” she told him.

In real life, almost every article about sex dolls (a term I’m using interchangeably here with “love doll,” even though not everyone who owns such a doll does so for sexual purposes) has stated that the market for such dolls is almost entirely male—but not entirely. Photographer Benita Marcussen captured a range of doll owners, whose motivations range widely. One of them, Angela Halliday, met a fellow doll owner through a forum and now owns two dolls.

I admit that this is a topic it’s hard for me to personally sink into because when I look at these dolls, especially the images of the male dolls on the RealDoll website, I see something far from lifelike.


Yet I admit I have never seen one in person, and I would imagine that the longer you own and interact with such a doll, the more lifelike it starts to seem. Furthermore, if you do buy a female doll, you get plenty of options in terms of customization, from eyeliner style to choices of eye color, including blue grey and teal green. The attention to detail means that those investing the big bucks can craft as close to their ideal woman or man as they want. There’s even a flaccid penis option for the male dolls!


And, because I just can’t resist, elf ears are also an optional add-on (for $150). Who knew?


Yet that is precisely why I want to learn more, because just as I may not 100% “get” the desire to own a human-size, lifelike doll, there are plenty of people who similarly have no idea why I, for instance, would want to be choked or have my face slapped as part of a BDSM practice. I consider my writing, both fiction and nonfiction, a way to explain, both to myself and others, those turn-ons, and consider it my job as a human being and especially as someone who writes about sex, to make my best effort to understand doll owners.

I think the reason the idea of owning a sex doll throws many people off is that it goes against all we are taught about sex—that its purpose is rooted in romantic love, that it should be, at least in part, not selfish, but selfless, that it’s about, at its heart, human connection. So those who object to sex dolls on the basis of their being inanimate should also, by that logic, object to sex toys just as strenuously. As Mark Shrayber puts it in an insightful article at The Daily Dot about sex dolls made in the image of popular porn stars, “Even if the RealDoll ‘objectifies’ women, is there any substantial difference between that and another masturbation tool, such as a wad of tissues or a Kleenex?”

Wicked Pictures RealDolls of porn stars jessica drake, Asa Akira and Stormy Daniels, via The Daily Dot

The more I’ve read about these dolls, even though I still can’t picture myself embracing one, the more I’ve found that these interactions, for many doll owners, are deeply personal and powerful. For instance, an interviewee in the documentary Guys and Dolls is quoted at Alternet, saying, “It’s the difference between being alone and lonely. Being alone is one thing. I don’t mind being alone at all. However, I cannot stand being lonely….that’s something that more people, I would hope, would understand. That’s why iDollators [people in the doll community] have their dolls.” If a doll is what’s keeping someone from being lonely, who am I to argue with that?

That being said, I think it’s one thing for someone to give up smoking for a year in order to afford a doll (now that’s a person I’d love to interview!), but I can’t help but be horrified by the copy for the Finally Mylie! Love Doll, whose package reads “She’s Young, Dumb and Old Enough for Cum!” I feel no qualms about saying that I want nothing to do with someone who’s turned on by language like this, via its Amazon sales page: “She’s had years of practice speaking into the mic, and now she’s ready for yours. just add air and this teen-queen pole-dancing princess comes of age right before your own eyes!” I’m not trying to say that cheaper blow-up dolls are somehow déclassé next to more expensive dolls (the Abyss Creations, makers of RealDoll, dolls range from $6,500 to a whopping $51,000!), but rather that promotional copy touting the joy of having sex with someone who’s just turned 18 is not my thing in any way.

I’m still fascinated by the fact that these dolls, whether we have any experience with them or not, bring up such primal responses. They do tap into human urges, sexual and otherwise. I’m grateful to Renarde for bringing to life, in the realm of fiction, a side of these dolls I had never considered, and making me think hard about their potential. Although I don’t think erotica writers need to take on the role of being sex educators, by default, we do expand people’s knowledge about sex practices, and this single story certainly illuminated a whole world I had no clue about prior to reading it. I’m grateful for that, and look forward to exploring more about the human/doll connection.

Want to learn more about these kinds of dolls from the people who actually use them? Visit The Doll Forum, where there’s even a doll role-playing section for “all the dolls who’ve come to life and want to chat it up with other dolls out there.”

Some might say that dolls are serving as substitutes for human interaction. But even if they are, if the people using them aren’t harming any actual humans, and in fact, are enhancing their quality of life, what’s the problem? Furthermore, the fact that doll forums and testimonials exist prove that not everyone is simply hiding away with their dolls and never speaking about them. When I titled this post “the human side of sex dolls,” I didn’t just mean the sexy side, but the various human factors that go into both having a sex doll and living in the rest of the world. There are some photographed by Marcussen who can’t tell their children about their dolls, while others have disclosed their doll ownership, in conversations that I’m sure were challenging and thought-provoking. That, to me, echoes the way many sexual practices, sexual orientations and even erotica writing also has to be kept a secret. That is also the common thread, as I see it; even if we’ve never thought about sex dolls before, if you dig a little deeper into the subject, I suspect you’ll also find a way to relate.

How I Started Lusting After Silver Foxes

17 Apr

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

I’ve always had a thing for older men, ever since I lost my virginity to a 31-year-old when I was 17, but there’s a difference between older, but in what feels like a reasonable range, and much, much older. At least, there has been for me. Looking back on that dalliance from the summer after I graduated high school, that relationship seems more than a little creepy. It wasn’t the 14 years per se, but the vast span in life experiences. As an adult, I can appreciate that there’s an appeal to an older man who owns his sexiness, who’s as confident as he ever was, possibly more so. Think Roger Sterling on Mad Men (sans this season’s moustache).

Two years ago, I finally figured out in a deeply personal way what the appeal is in silver foxes. A silver fox, for the uninitiated, is defined at Urban Dictionary as “An attractive older man. Generally, one that has gray hair and is often desired by younger women.” For instance: Anderson Cooper (yes, I know he’s gay, but not only is that definition heterosexist, women can be attracted to gay men, obviously).


So in 2013, I was flying to New York from London after attending Eroticon UK, tucked into a window seat, fully prepared to mind my own business and zone out with a book or sleep my way back to the Big Apple. I was grateful for the empty seat between myself and the older gentleman in the aisle. For the most part, even though I’ve edited a book of mile high club erotica, I like my me time during air travel.

But my row-mate, after about an hour, wanted to chat. “Let’s trade books,” he suggested, and, not wanting to be rude, I agreed even though his tome was something like How to Play the Sitar. I handed him my novel, whose title I also can’t recall, but I do remember I was using a postcard for my women’s erotica anthology Fast Girls, with its topless cover model staring right at the viewer, as a bookmark. “What’s this?” he asked, and I went for honesty rather than expediency, and told him, “It’s my book. I edit erotica.”

What ensued was one of the most interesting conversations with a stranger I’ve ever had. He asked if I knew of any erotica about people his age; he was 74, precisely double my age at the time, 37. As it happened, I was reading a galley of Joan Price’s Ageless Erotica, by and about people over 50, on my laptop at the time. I told him about it, while he shared tidbits about his life, including that he had a girlfriend.

We weren’t flirting, but there was an erotic undercurrent to the conversation that shocked me. When I shifted so my skirt accidentally rode up to reveal my knee, he said something about my knee being cute. Neither of us said anything untoward or over-the-top, but the energy passing between us was enough to make me rethink my possible upper age limit when it came to who I might bed. I was in a relationship and not looking to hook up with him or anyone else, but during our casual chat, I sensed that, had we met each other at, say, a bar, and each been single, perhaps we might have wound up in bed together. (We didn’t, but I did take our literary exchange and turn it into the basis of an older woman/younger man story called “Book Swap” in Rose Caraway’s anthology The Sexy Librarian’s Big Book of Erotica.)

Only one other time have I been attracted to someone whose age jarred me in a similar way. I met an older man at a party called Pleasure Salon, and wound up visiting him in London. When I found out he was a grandfather, that fact, more than his chronological age, gave me pause. What did it mean? I kept asking myself.

Well, now that I’ve had a few years to consider these various incidents, I’ve decided that it simply means I recognize that age, while not irrelevant, isn’t a deterrent to my attractions. I’m far more likely to be interested in someone 10 or even 20 years older than me than I am to lust after someone 10 or 20 years my junior.

It’s one thing to give lip service to the sex lives of our elders, and another to recognize that desire, lust and sexuality don’t simply slip away when we hit 60, 70, 80 or beyond. Those hours on the plane helped me appreciate the sex appeal of the silver fox, which I hope has in turn made me a better, and more empathetic, erotica writer. I look forward to incorporating some silver foxes, and foxy silver-haired ladies, into my erotic tales.

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