Archive | TV shows RSS feed for this section

Donald Glover: TV’s Most Interesting Man

21 Sep

by Madeline Iva

Hola Chicas! I’m baaaaaaaack! and here today to talk to you about Donald Glover, TV’s most interesting man.  Yeah, I didn’t see him coming either.

But you gotta admit, he’s quietly provocative and thoughtful.  Put those two qualities together and I’m thinking he’s kinda sexy, you know? It wasn’t until THE MARTIAN when I really noticed him for the first time.  Every time he walked on screen the movie became three times more interesting.  His intelligence and understated persona plucked him out of the realm of character actors and presented us with something understated, yet compelling. (Also I’m a sucker for interesting genius geek types.)

Did you see SOLO — in which Glover played Lando Calrissian.  Did he have the Billy Dee magic? Eh. There’s only one Billy Dee. But who cares? Glover’s got his own something something going on.

He is an actor who’s at his best playing off other excellent actors. His role thrilled me and chilled me when it became clear (to all people over the age of twelve at least) that Lando was having a sexual relationship with his robot, L3-37.  She’s not even an android, technically. Yet Lando is *clearly* having great Robot Sex with her. This is a sub-plot worthy of it’s own blog post–I’ll get to it in the weeks ahead.Lando and L3

Then I saw Glover’s video in his alternative rap star persona: Childish Gambino.  Should I just assume you’ve all seen this video and found it interesting and kind of looked up stuff on the internet about it like I have? (I always feel so late to the party.) — Anyway, in case you haven’t — here it is:

Okay — so at this point I’m a solid Donald Glover fan.  Whatever he’s saying–I want to hear it.

Meanwhile, his TV show ALTANTA is edgy, rumpled, and nonchalantly cool.  His character, Earn is a man of different facets.  He’s certainly flawed–Earn sometimes lets his frustrations paint him into a corner he can’t get out of. At the same time he’s adroit, loyal, and solution-minded.  The show has an edge of humor, and a swirl of racism that forms the backdrop of the world he lives in. I liiiiiiiiike him.  I mean, bonus points and gold stars all around for representing a complex, multi-dimensional character and a world I haven’t seen before.  The fact that the show was created, written and directed by him has lifted his reputation up by about twelve notches.  And the show? I never know really what’s going to happen next, which can offset the wince-y pain of watching the lives of black folk exposed to the pervasive racism in America.

So WHAT THE HECK Emmys? Seriously? Not even best actor this year? At least last year he won for best actor and best director.  I was not surprised to see that the casting director was up for an award–for the cast is fabu.  Zazie Beetz, btw, plays his love interest on the show. She is also one of the best, most interesting actresses kicking around these days. (You might have also seen her in Deadpool 2.)

ATLANTA is frequently humorous in terms of juxtaposed contexts. The characters walk their own crooked path trying to get somewhere when they see an opportunity.  Along the way they make pit-stops to survey the swampy landscape studded with family members stuck in the muck.  The show has a so-funny-it’s-awful tone that I slurp up with relish.

I also found the editing from episode to episode interesting across the season.  Characters plop down into being, go away, come back. The show raises issues, end unresolved, and then leap onto another pathway in the next episode.  One could argue that form follows content–the show jumps in the same way that Glover’s character Earn experiences his fortunes rise and fall as his client and cousin finds bits of success on the path to leave drug dealing for the rap world.  Even his name — Earn — short for Earnest, no doubt, has it’s own Dickensian poke in the viewers gut invoking rap myth-making, the music industry, and money.

The best part of the show is how it reveals issues or complex situations for us to chew upon, but never tries to tell us how to think or feel about them.  Glover is the anti-Sorkin of TV.  Check it out — and check out below the way Glover showed up to the Emmy’s as a creepy character from his show….

You can watch Season One of ATLANTA on:

AMAZON (May be the cheapest price right now)

YOU TUBE

REDBOX *

or via HULU subscription

Redbox is still in beta with streaming TV shows.  Be aware that sometimes your viewing can be interrupted.

—-And continue to check out Lady Smut where we will always share with you our edgy obsessions.

Madeline Iva enjoys penning stories about reclusive guys with dark secrets in mouldering castles.  If you like your gothic gloom with a fantasy or paranormal twist join her cult following newsletter.

I Want To Believe: Sex Magick and Strange Angel

1 Sep
rupert as ernest

Rupert Friend as Ernest Donovan in Strange Angel. He’s going to get you in trouble. You’re probably going to enjoy it.

By Alexa Day

Remember when Jason Isaacs seduced me into paying six dollars a month to watch Star Trek: Discovery? Yeah, that was about a year ago. And I’m still paying, even though there hasn’t been any Discovery in months.

Now I’m paying for Strange Angel.

I’m sure you’re not watching Strange Angel. After all, it’s on the same platform where you wouldn’t pay to watch smart, diverse science fiction with brilliant female characters.

That’s all right. I’ll give you a little taste of it.

Set in California in the 1930s (and based on a true story), Strange Angel introduces us to Jack Parsons, a working class guy with an extraordinary dream. Jack wants to go to the moon, long before going to the moon would become cool. During the day, Jack’s a lowly janitor, but by night, he and his childhood buddy head out into the desert to test rockets.

It’s not easy to live with a dream like space travel in Jack’s world. Jack can’t get funding from Cal Tech for the experiments, so his wife, Susan, is bankrolling the nightly launch tests, at the expense of the couple’s mortgage payments. Because Jack isn’t home all that often, Susan spends a lot of time hanging out alone at the house, bored. The marital sex is unsatisfying for both of them. And then there’s a new neighbor moving in next door, in the middle of the night.

The new guy on the block is named Ernest Donovan. The fun starts on his doorstep.

Ernest is the sort of free spirit who keeps a goat in his house (Temporarily. Sorry. I wish I had better news). He’s married, but he and the missus aren’t together just now. He has a weird, unpredictable energy about him. He’s the kind of guy who brings peyote on a camping trip the way the rest of us bring s’mores. He looks like he’s about to explode into waves of maniacal giggles.

Ernest doesn’t believe in rules, at least not the way society encourages people to. He’ll take a dip in a stranger’s pool and howl at the moon just for kicks. He’s taken a shine to Jack, so he shares the only rule he lives by with the rocket man.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

It’s the central principle of Thelema, a religion developed by Aleister Crowley. Thelema’s roots run deep, all the way to the ancient world, but in the California of the 1930s, Thelema is all about rituals meant to help its adherents manifest their true will.

And there’s sex magick. Did I mention the sex magick? Let’s stop for a second and talk about the sex magick.

About the k in sex magick. Crowley put it there to differentiate sex magick from sleight-of-hand stage magic, also super popular in the 1930s. In no-k-magic, it might look like things are disappearing, but nothing actually does. In magick-with-a-k, the sex is actually sex.

How do we manifest our individual will through sex magick? Well, Thelema might have only one rule, but I’m going to suggest some helpful guidelines.

1. Prepare to have your marriage melted. It’s not a huge surprise to say that partners are going to get passed around as part of Thelema, is it? I mean, if sex with your partner was enough to manifest your will, shouldn’t it already be manifested? Strange Angel mixes things up a little. Susan is initially reluctant to participate in that sex magick foolishness — she’s a Catholic in the 1930s, after all — and so she’s not a super willing participant with her very open-minded husband, Jack. Susan is, however, interested in getting Jack out of Thelema, which leads her back to the temple alone, which leads her to the high priest … which leads to sex magick. And once Susan has her first orgasmic vision, well, maybe that sex magick isn’t so bad after all.

3some strange angel

Just a couple making room for a little magick.

2. Prepare to have your will manifested. Don’t you love it when folks get whatever they want, all at once, and their lives buckle under the weight of it? Thelema has a way of doing that here. Jack’s rockets start working, which is what he wanted. Sure, some of them explode, and it’s hard to find a test pilot, and the military is a little too interested in the technology. But Jack wanted them to work, and they work. Susan wants to see behind a repressed spot in her memory. Soon, she has a pretty good idea what happened back there, but it’s some stuff she can’t unsee.

3. Prepare to learn something surprising about yourself. Marisol takes up with Jack’s partner, Richard, at the direction of the high priest. During their courtship, she discovers the depth of her powers — the innocent Richard looks at her like she’s a goddess. In turn, she confides that she’s more than willing to get past that timid personality and expand his horizons for real. No magick. Just the two of them. Learning that the sexy Marisol is into him — that way — gives him the confidence he needs to take the rocket project to the next level, without the far more charismatic Jack.

It’s a lot to take in. But I started with Ernest, right?

While everyone is finding their way into, around and through each other through Thelema, all that sex magick has separated Ernest from his wife for good. What Ernest wants, at the center of all that fun-loving, peyote-toting madness, is to be loved. He’s trying to fill an emptiness that’s going to swallow him whole, even with sex magick. He’s popular enough. But he’s not loved. And remember, he only knows one rule.

How far will a man like that go to be loved? And more importantly, how much will we get to see him do? Because I’m paying six dollars a month for all this.

I’ll try to keep you posted.

attending_romcon_button

In the meantime, I will be hanging out at RomCon this very weekend, October 6 in Richmond, along with a lot of really awesome authors. We will be at the DoubleTree Hotel in Midlothian, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by swag, checking out cover models, and hip deep in all the romance you can manage. Come join me in the Sweet Virginia Breeze!

Altered States With Altered Carbon

19 Feb

With Altered Carbon, that great god of television glory—aka Netflix—has once again launched a binge-watching worthy series that’s smart, sexy, mind-boggling, bloody, engrossing, and, honestly, a total mind fuck. It crosses genres, subverts expectations, and sucks you in like damn and wow. It’s science fiction and romance and film noir and cyberpunk and futuristic and murder mystery and cop show and conspiracy action thriller all at the same time. It’s Max Headroom’s violent, sexual, mind-bendy grandchild. (Appropriately so then, Max Headroom himself, Matt Frewer, shows up for two episodes as Carnage, who runs a real death cage fight.)

Carnage

Welcome to Altered Carbon.

The world of Altered Carbon

WARNING: there will be mild spoilers ahead. I’ll do my best not to ruin the Big Reveals, because they should be experienced organically to properly appreciate the storytelling. But no promises.

THE STORY: In a cyberpunk future, the consciousness of every human being is now downloaded into a hard drive, called a “stack”, that is stored at the base of the skull on the brain stem. The body, now called a “sleeve”, has become merely the shell that encases the “soul stack” of a person. This means a person only truly dies, known as “real death” or “RD”, when the stack is destroyed, like a gunshot directly to the stack. It also means people can live for hundreds of years, changing sleeves along the way.

It’s all in the bag

If the sleeve dies, a stack can be dialed up into a new sleeve, the person therefore inhabiting a new body. A person’s original body can be kept in cold storage while his or her stack is stored elsewhere, for example, when a man is imprisoned, he essentially “goes to sleep” for hundreds of years while his sleeve goes on ice. However, there’s no guarantee that sleeve won’t be used by someone else in the interim and possibly killed while being used, so that when you’re dialed up, it may not be into the sleeve in which you were born. Race, gender, height, weight, health—it’s all a lottery now. You get what you can afford. This is the same for damaged sleeves if you’re attached to your existing reflection. If your arm is injured and can’t be saved, you can get it replaced with an upgrade, bionic arm in moments—if you have the credits. People can also dial up “dead” loved ones, especially if those loved ones are “coded” not to be re-sleeve after sleeve death for religious reasons, and have them live again if, perhaps, not in the same sleeve in which they’d led their lives. (This makes for a hilarious re-use of a biker gangster as a Spanish grandmother and a Russian mobster.)

People can also “double sleeve”, essentially copying their stack and downloading into two different sleeves at the same time. While technically illegal, when you live forever and have unlimited wealth, the sky’s the limit. Literally so, if you’re one of the super rich.

Hundreds of years old, these “Meths” (aka Methuselahs), live far above the common man in sky palaces. Their wealth enables them to grown clones of their sleeves and constantly download themselves over the years into new sleeves that match their birth sleeves. They have a system that regularly uploads their consciousness into back-up drives that protect them against real death. They’re untouchable demi gods to which the lower classes only dream to rub shoulders against.

And one of them has just been murdered.

Enter Envoy detective Takeshi Kovacs who has been in stasis for 250 years and was just woken up by industrial magnate Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) to solve the man’s murder. From the moment he awakens, Takeshi is plague by the attentions of Detective Kristin Ortega (Martha Higareda), a bad ass cop with a jones for catching Bancroft in what she is sure are corrupt and nefarious dealings—if only she can prove it. She also has a deeper connection to the sleeve Takeshi now inhabits, one that deepens the stakes for them all.

Tak was once a super soldier for the police force that menaces the outer worlds. When he’s betrayed by the unit to which he’d dedicated his life, he becomes an Envoy, a revolutionary operator with scary potent observational and investigational skills. Envoys were renown for being able to be dropped in on any world, into any situation, and quickly adapt and manipulate the environment and the people to their own ends—until they were betrayed and wiped out. Tak then became a mercenary, one who eventually was apprehended by his former commander, earning him a sentence of hundreds of years for his crimes.

Until Bancroft wakes him up.

Once an idealist under his battle scars, Takeshi has awoken to a world he doesn’t recognize, on a different planet than the one he was on when he went to sleep, and with the people he loved long lost to real death. He is now a grumpy tool only in the job for himself and the promise of a fortune and his birth sleeve as a reward for solving Bancroft’s murder. Except Tak can’t fight his true nature, the core of him that still cares no matter how much he protests to the contrary. And the list of people worming their way into his circle of protection keeps growing…whether he likes it or not.

Clearly, there’s a LOT going on in the ten episodes of Altered Carbon. And fan as I am of the series, it I have to admit, it ain’t all good.

THE BAD STUFF:

While the show runner on this one is a woman, that doesn’t mean, in a Game of Thrones world where rape is an acceptable plot device, there isn’t a lot of violence and nudity in Altered Carbon. There’s a whole hopping lot of both, though violence prevails most of all. This includes a naked fight scene a la Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises, where Ortega engages in a bloody knife brawl with a number of cloned sleeves. This is one case of nudity in Altered Carbon, though, where the nudity is designed to be empowering and deliberately used as a manifestation of the character’s head self-perspective and how she sees her body as a tool, rather than objectifying her for the male gaze. For more on this, check out this interview with actress Dichen Lachman about that scene and her character, Rei, who is the naked combantant. Be warned, it includes series spoilers galore.

There’s an argument to be made that the prevalence of nudity stems not from producers’ desire to curry favor with permanently adolescent fans boys, but rather an outgrowth from a society that has made the human form an interchangeable commodity. How can modesty persist when your body may be interchanged with another’s at any time?

Sexy times for the sake of sex.

And yes, the violence is such that it may as well be another character in the cast. This is a world that uses virtual reality, where time has no constant, as a means of torture. Here, one can kill a victim over and over again in the most brutal and bloody of ways including chopping off limbs and removing innards, all virtually but while being connected to the physical body’s pain receptors, only to start a new VR session and begin again for a seemingly endless amount of time. A sleeve holds no inherent value; there are instances in Altered Carbon where people fight to the sleeve death for the promise of a sleeve upgrade as a reward. Naturally, that makes for an inherently violent world.

For a show with so much female bad ass representation, it’s still driven by a moody, growly, maladjusted white man, one who all the women he comes into contact with want to bone, no matter how badly he treats them. It’s a film noir construct, the Bogey hyper masculine hardliner disdaining all the Bacall femme fatales that rotate into his sphere but banging them nonetheless. Even in a futuristic society where the consciousness can be transported from form to form, women are still portrayed stuck in the past.

THE GOOD:

THE MAIN CAST:

Joel Kinnaman, late of The Killing and the forgettable Suicide Squad, anchors Altered Carbon with his big presence. Seriously, the guy is huge and his normally beanpole form is ripped and cut and beautifully bulked out for this role. Hoo. Shah. He broods and grumbles and bad asses through the entire series, but he also brings out Tak’s tortured sweetness, an idealism that even 200 years of cold storage hasn’t fully frozen out of him. It keeps popping up to conflict him when he wants to be a cold, ruthless operator, but he can’t quite keep his heart from getting in the way.

As Ortega, Martha Higareda plays the perhaps typical cop with a mission, but she does it by distaining a typical approach and instilling Ortega with a man’s attitude and vocabulary. She doesn’t play a lady cop; she plays a cop and has an attitude that would do John McLain proud. Ortega takes on the unlikeable heroine mantle with pride and spews ferocity and anger and complexity all over it.

James Purefoy, a personal favorite in everything he does, oozes through his scenes with smarmy confidence, exuding the charm and power of the wealthiest man on several planets, sprinkled with the comfortable arrogance of someone who genuinely believes himself to be a god. As in the TV series Rome, his…erm…talent is on display here, including The Purefoy, as I like to call it, once again making a casual on-screen, full-frontal appearance. No, I did not hit the pause button, nor did I screen cap it, and I’m sticking to that.

But truly, the one who steals the show is Chris Conner as Poe.

Once Tak accepts Bancroft’s case, he embeds himself at The Raven, a hotel run by an AI (artificial intelligence) named Poe, as in Edgar Allen. Poe hasn’t had any guests for hundreds of years, due to the AIs reputation of getting obsessively attached to their guests. Tak genuinely couldn’t give a shit about this and sets up shop at The Raven. Good thing too as Poe almost immediately proves his worth when Tak is attacked before he can even register as a guest.

Poe is an absolute delight. Snarky, smart, sweet, ruthless, loyal, dedicated, and oh so funny, he’s the land-locked sidekick/valet/butler Tak’s been missing in his life. Alfred to Tak’s Great Detective. As an AI, he’s tied to The Raven, but he can move about in VR (and does) and adds a rich depth and complexity to what’s nominally a bunch of ones and zeros. For a programable entity, he’s the most human and most humane one of the bunch.

THE ROMANCE:

Yes, there is romance. As mentioned earlier, Ortega has a prior connection to the sleeve that Tak is put into, which takes the idea of a love-triangle and really fucks with it. But Tak is also nursing a broken heart from this lost love, and his hallucinations, a side effect of being re-sleeved, keep her front and center in his journey. As Tak and Ortega get closer and the complexity of their connection deepens, the emotional risks of their relationship add texture and stakes to the on-going mystery and the threat of the enemies stacking up against them. It’s no surprise that in the end, Tak’s big heart, and not only for Ortega, is nearly both their undoing.

Sticking close together.

THE MULTICULTURALISM:

Altered Carbon, like Max Headroom and Firefly and Blade Runner before it, builds its world on an Asian heavy multiculturalism. Set in a re-envisioned San Francisco, called The Bay, there are flying cars and neon signs and prevalent blinking screens that never turn off, pummeling the eyes with images and adverts that recall pretty much every science fiction show of the last 20 years. People speak all kinds of languages and understand one another. There’s no Farscape-esque universal translator either. Ortega speaks to her partner in Spanish and he replies in Arabic. There are subtitles; we can read them. There is no spoon feeding required. Tak’s Japanese/Croatian lineage speaks to the show’s inherent multicultural nature too, even if the tone-deaf move of folding an Asian character into a white man’s sleeve stomps all over that same multiculturalism with a pair of Kovacs’ combat boots.

THE STORYTELLING:

The storytelling is complex and deep, but so well paced. Nothing is revealed too soon, but once the revelation is made, one can look back and see the layers being laid in past episodes. That’s bloody hard to do and especially in a visual platform as rich as this show where there’s always something to see on the screen, nothing is wasted, no image thrown away in building the rich texture of this show. One of the appeals of the Harry Potter franchise from a craft perspective is how deftly Rowling plots the series over the length of the seven books; events happen in book five for which Rowling lays the groundwork in book two. Altered Carbon does that too, enough so that when I finished the series, I wanted to immediately watch it again so as to see those touchpoints again, this time with the benefit of foreknowledge of what was to come.

Accompanying this deep plotting and detailed planning is a respect for its audience that is rare to find in entertainment today. In Romancelandia, writers often debate the idea of dumbing down our storytelling, our writing, in order to reach a wider audience, a significant percentage of whom may not have a large vocabulary or an extensive reading and comprehension ability. I deal with this a lot in my day job where much of which we’re producing needs to reach an incredibly large audience, as in millions of people, whose lives may depend on being able to read and comprehend our message. As a writer, I think it’s my job to enhance my stories with complex writing, words that enrich as much as the story they form. If my readers have to look up a few words, then I’ve done my job right. (This is much less an issue in historical romance where a certain complexity of phrase and flowery language is expected.)

Altered Carbon doesn’t dumb down to its audience. The show presents complex word-building from the outset and it doesn’t waste time spoon-feeding the audience as to the nuts and bolts of things. We are plunged right into the muck of things and as the show presses on, it expects its viewers to keep up or catch up. That’s not to say it doesn’t give us a map; the trope of dropping someone new into the situation as a proxy for the audience is used in episode one to bring us all up to speed, but the information we need is parceled out as part of the storytelling without any recapping or “As you know, Bob,” retreads along the way.

THE IMPLICATIONS:

Nearly a week after viewing, my mind is still buzzing with all the implications and raised by Altered Carbon. The show raises questions of the nature of the soul and the value of a bodily form. When a soul can be kept in a hard drive and uploaded at random, what then makes it a soul rather than simply more data? Morality reforms in a world where sleeves can be killed and then the victim dialed back up to testify against his or her murderer. Where a person can voluntarily agree to have his or her sleeve killed for sport with the promise of an upgrade for the trouble. Where death suddenly has several degrees.

It’s a referendum on torture and an examination of whether love can last over hundreds of years. It’s a dissertation of gender identity: when your spouse can be dialed up into a sleeve of the opposing gender, are you still attracted to each other. Do you still love that woman who is absolutely unchanged except for the fact that she now wears a man’s shell? Do you recognize her soul inside that sleeve?

What makes memory when that memory can be obliterated by dying before the next upload. Is any event truly real if the memory of it is destroyed before the backup kicks in?

Overall, I found Altered Carbon to be compelling television. Underneath its science fiction, film noir trappings is an exploration of identity and morality and the nature of self and the soul that still has my mind spinning right round, baby. Right round.

Follow Lady Smut. We’ll mind-fuck you in the very best of ways–but only if you ask really, really nice.

Kiersten Hallie Krum writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. She is the award-winning author of Wild on the Rocks, and its follow-up, SEALed With a Twist. She is also a past winner of the Emily Award for unpublished novels.

A member of the Romance Writers of America, the New Jersey Romance Writers, and the Long Island Romance Writers, Kiersten has been working in book publishing for more than twenty years in marketing and promotion. At other times in her career, she’s worked back stage for a regional theater, managed advertorials for a commerce newspaper in the World Trade Center, and served as senior editor for a pharmaceutical advertising agency.

Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. Born and bred in New Jersey (and accent free), Kiersten sings as easily, and as frequently, as she breathes, drives fast with the windows down and the music up, likes to randomly switch accents for kicks and giggles, and would be happy to spend all her money traveling for the rest of her life. Find out more about Kiersten and her books on her website www.kierstenkrum.com

Of Magic, Winter Landscapes and Russian Revolution

26 Jan

By Elizabeth SaFleur

Who is sick of the news? Who is weary from rapid-fire action and violent conflict that permeates our entertainment these days? Gather around my tired and weary friends for I have a new obsession to share that will take you far, far away from the angry, shoot ‘em up movies and TV shows that fill our screens. Welcome to Turkish Romance.

A year ago, a friend of mine gushed about a show called Kurt Seyit ve Şura. Well, mostly about the lead actorKıvanç Tatlıtuğ. Can you blame her?

My friend warned me about its soap-opera qualities, the sweeping, over-the-top music, the almost-too-gorgeous people (Oh, Seyit!). Now, having seen half of the first season, I can’t believe it took me this long to watch this show.

Ten minutes into the first episode the hero’s strength and nobility were declared, the heroine’s vulnerability established, the nemesis identified, the war showcased, and the beauty of early 20th Century Russia showcased. Ten minutes, my friends! That’s stellar crafting, and that brilliance was all it took for me to be all in.

Kurt Seyit ve Şura is based on the true, love story of Seyit Eminof, a 1st Lieutenant of the elite Imperial Guard and Şura Verjenskaya a Russian noblewoman. Seyit and Şura meet in WWI Russia just as the Bolshevik revolution was taking hold. They fall in love and are forced to break from their “magnificent lives” (the official publicity statement) to flee to Istanbul. And, bonus! Their romance is based on a true story, which only made me swoon more while watching it. The granddaughter of the real Seyit wrote the book on which the series is based.

Along the lines of the Age of Innocence and Downton Abbey, Kurt Seyit ve Şura is a story of people experiencing their perfect, beautiful life crumble as society demands change, and set in a time when class divides were so severe revolution was inevitable. Much of the show shows off the excessive luxury the Russian noble class indulged in – the gorgeous palaces and architecture, the jeweled gowns sweeping across ballroom floors, love notes written on crisp, thick, monogrammed paper. It’s hard to feel sorry for their ultimate downfall, but oh, peeking into their lives is such a wonderful, guilty pleasure.

   

Even with the show’s brilliant opening, the pace is slow and honestly welcomed. Expect love-filled lingering looks between characters, kisses that last minutes, music that swells in the background. Sigh. In fact, the music is often so cheesy, my husband has literally left the room. As for me? I love it Even with its soap-opera drama moments (if they would only talk to one another, clear up that miscommunication all would be well!), the show sucked me in faster than a black hole.

Case in point? I hate winter, but somehow this show made me fall in love with that frigid season from its scenery alone. The gorgeous, wintery Russian and Turkey landscape is a character of its own, and one that is used well to depict their lives. Picture snowflakes and ice chips crusted into beards as the gorgeous Seyit and his men stomp through snowy forests and trails on horseback. Imagine men and women in their fur-lined coats being jostled in open-topped carriages through icy streets. Be warmed by the outdoor, iron-scroll gaslights throwing light over iced steps.

Double sigh.

The war is ever present in this series, but from afar like gunfire in the distance. So far, no real battle scenes have marred the beauty of the scenery. I expect the screen will eventually fill with a bloody battle scene. I mean, we’re talking the Bolshevik revolution that ended the Russian noble class for good. For now, I’m happy for war to be a bit player.

Back to Seyit, the hero. He is to die for. Noble, desperately trying to do the right thing, loyal, close to his family, and soon even closer to Şura, our heroine, he is everything one would want in a romance. He is beguiled by Şura’s innocence and purity, which I imagine is not unlike the life that they both lived, despite Seyit’s war-time occupation. I suppose you could liken Şura to Marie Antoinette, but without the cruelty and haughtiness. Şura certainly is as ignorant of the “real world.” You can’t help but love her, however, as she stares starry-eyed at Seyit. Who doesn’t want an all-encompassing, I-can’t-stop-staring at you love?

One could argue that these two are delusional and simply in lust with one another, but that would spoil the magic. And, right now, I believe we all could use some magic. I’m not done with the series yet, but I’ll return to let you know how it all ends up. It’s romance so I’m expecting an HEA, but the producers cleverly only say Seyit’s granddaughter wrote the story, not Seyit and Şura’s granddaughter. Do they end up together? Does the war eventually tear them apart? (We all know how the revolution ends.) Do their long, lingering looks grow old? Do they grow old? Does someone throw themselves on a train track? I can only tell you this: I’m going to find out, despite the fact hubby can’t be in the room during the orchestral swells.

~~~~~

Elizabeth SaFleur writes contemporary romance that dares to “go there.” Expect alpha males (and females), seductive encounters, and love. Learn more about her steamy and sexy stories by following her on Amazon and Bookbub.

Jason Isaacs and the Six-Dollar Seduction

6 Oct
harmless at a distance

He looks harmless enough from here, but in one hour, Jason Isaacs coaxed six dollars from my tight fist.

By Alexa Day

My longest, most functional relationship is with Star Trek. We’ve been together since I was a teenager. We got through the frosty cynicism of my college years together. I stood by it through the worst of the movies and the first unsteady steps of The Next Generation.

Star Trek is my heart. It’s my family.

So when I found out that we were getting a brand new Star Trek television series, I felt a deep, warming joy that sustained me through some pretty dark times. The rest of the world might be going to hell, but new Star Trek was coming, and it would be here every week. Constant production delays didn’t bother me. Weird staff changes didn’t bother me. I just thought of Sonequa Martin-Green and Michelle Yeoh together, on the bridge of a starship. How could this be wrong? How could anything ever be wrong again?

At or around the last minute, CBS said they were going to put the new Star Trek behind a paywall. We could have those first two episodes for free. After that, new Star Trek was going to cost six dollars a month.

I had a little mental argument with CBS.

Me: Six dollars?

CBS: Well, it’s not that much in the larger scheme of things.

Me: That isn’t the point. Six dollars might not be much, but it’s more than I’m used to paying for CBS, which is zero.

CBS: Look, Alexa, we think you’re going to be cool with giving us the six dollars.

Me: That isn’t really the point, either. Star Trek is my family. You know how Star Trek people are. We’re going to give you the six dollars.

CBS: Oh, good.

Me: But then we need to ride you about it. I can’t just give you six dollars on a silver platter. You need to work for it. Otherwise, you get things like Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan.

CBS: I thought we were done talking about that.

Me: I did, too, but now you want six dollars. What is my six dollars for? What are you doing to earn six dollars?

CBS: You get Sonequa Martin-Green for an hour a week for six dollars. Sonequa plus Star Trek. That’s good for six dollars, right?

Me: I’m not giving you six dollars for Sonequa. Look, I saw the first two episodes. Sonequa is turning it out as Michael Burnham. She’s a brilliant badass with a tough past and big trouble in her future. I’ve seen some of that before, with The Walking Dead. They didn’t want six dollars.

CBS: Right, but —

Me: Plus, I think you could put Sonequa and her brilliant badassery into any of those free shows. Seal Team 40. NCIS: Des Moines. Washington Crisis Mode. Whatever. So if I pay you six dollars for Sonequa, that’s like saying it’s okay that she’s not on the actual network for free. That’s not okay.

CBS: Okay. How about the effects? That stuff’s expensive.

Me: Dude, I’m not crowdfunding your special effects. Star Trek is about making more with less. Grab a salt shaker and make us use our imaginations. Seriously, what is the money for?

CBS: What do you want it to be for?

Me: Well, in an ideal world, I want you to surprise me. I want to be excited to give you six dollars. I want to do a giddy little dance when I give it to you. I want to lie awake in bed, wondering when I can give you six dollars. I want to be seduced. Seduce me into giving you six dollars.

I really did not think Star Trek: Discovery would seduce me into paying six dollars a month to watch a single television show. I didn’t think Star Trek could seduce me at all anymore. This is what happens in these long-term relationships. The fire dies, and it’s just familiarity and requests for six dollars.

But then something special happened. On Sunday, Star Trek seduced me.

It’s all spoilers from the music video to the end. Proceed with caution.

I was told that Jason Isaacs would be in Star Trek: Discovery quite some time ago. I admit, I was distracted by Sonequa and Michelle. I didn’t know any better. And those tiny photos on my phone make a lot of people look the same. So I was not really ready for Jason’s entrance as Captain Lorca toward the beginning of episode three, “Context Is For Kings.”

He has a way of occupying the darkened room. That voice is an invitation. And those eyes. Hmm.

Later, I took this question to my esteemed colleagues at Lady Smut: “Where has Jason Isaacs been hiding his fine self all this time? I know nothing.”

Madeline Iva responded that most people who have not been under a rock like me recognize Jason as Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies. So apparently, he’s spent part of this time hiding his fine self underneath that wig. I’m glad we rectified that. For six dollars, the absolute least I expect to see is a man’s face.

Kiersten Hallie Krum provided me with a syllabus. I cleared a Saturday on my calendar for tax-deductible research, so that I can better work FOR YOU. Then I returned to the man who is going to earn that six dollars.

Context Is for Kings

That moment when you’re trying to determine exactly how much trouble this is.

Back to the darkened room. The six-dollar seduction awaits.

1. The mystery. Michael Burnham meets her next commanding officer in the dark because his gorgeous eyes are sensitive to changes in the light level. He’s more comfortable in the dark. He says he thinks it adds an air of mystery to him. It’s working. He’s got mystery in spades, and charm to go with it. But all that charm has a predatory undercurrent. The mood lighting and the man himself create a subtle tension. It’s hard to look away and dangerous to get too close, and Michael keeps up her end of the dance, sliding away as he advances toward her.

This is not a very Star Trek thing to do. There are only a handful of Star Trek captains, and we usually know everything we need to know about them within minutes of being introduced. Captain Lorca is not a complete mystery — he feels dangerous. Immediately. Still, this is a new experience. I want to know more … but maybe not this second. Maybe right now, I just want to enjoy the danger and not know what happens next.

2. The Innocent Look. Michael was on her way to prison with some other inmates, when her shuttle was picked up by her new captain in the middle of a storm. Michael is no fool. She suggests that her encounter with Captain Lorca’s ship is not entirely coincidental.

His response to this implication is a prize-winning Innocent Look. Me? I rescued you and your trashy prison friends from a storm. What are you suggesting? He glides smoothly from injury to confusion to offense, without being too genuine. If we had a hint before that the man was trouble, the Innocent Look is confirmation.

I like trouble. Trouble is where the real story starts. But mostly, I’m into the dirty, tangled potential of it.

3. The Wanting and the Getting. It’s not that Captain Lorca won’t take no for an answer. Michael spent much of the episode saying no to him, and he’d listen and nod and let her come all the way to the end of what she was saying. But he’s used to getting what he wants. He’s good with just pulling rank if he has to — and with Michael, he had to, at least the first time. The second time, he had to seduce her.

Not like that. I’d have paid CBS sixty dollars for that, and you would be reading a very different column.

The captain seduces Michael in a very traditional way. He reassures her that he already knows everything about her, including whatever flaws she thinks she is hiding. He identifies something she wants. He shows her that he has something she wants. And then he waits for her to reach for it.

It’s not sexual in this instance, but practiced seduction always has a sexual undertone. That’s worth my six dollars.

4. The fearlessness. Captain Lorca is described by his first officer as “a man who does not fear the things normal people fear.” Trek nerds like me get a quick glimpse of that right away; the captain has exactly one tribble on his desk, not far away from food. But there are less subtle clues. Michael is on her way to prison because she’s been convicted of mutiny. She assaulted her last captain in order to take command of the ship. Her belief system is the mirror opposite of Captain Lorca’s. But he knows everything about her, and he must know a similar showdown is imminent. He’s just not worried about it. That means Michael is going to get a long overdue comeuppance, or her captain is in for a big surprise. Either might be worth six dollars.

5. Who is we? So I’ll be honest. By the end of the episode, I was still a little conflicted about giving up my hard earned six dollars. How do I know Jason Isaacs and his delightfully wicked character won’t go the same way as Michelle Yeoh’s Captain Georgiou? (If you were going to spend six dollars to see Michelle, you can maybe hang on to it. Sorry. I wish I had better news.)

I think CBS knew I was having some doubts. But seduction is about anticipating resistance and acting on the other person’s hesitation. So they waited until the last few minutes to make a play for my money.

Star Trek has historically been a little short on sex appeal. Sure, the new universe has its share of pretty faces, and Chris Pine’s Jim Kirk is unabashedly sexual.

But Jim Kirk is a frat boy at a party school compared to Captain Lorca. Kirk is all about straight-ahead flirtation on a highway flanked with a few laughs and the occasional sweet gesture before we arrive at the inevitable destination. Captain Lorca is a fearless, mysterious man who is used to getting whatever he wants. It’s hard to say what to expect, but I doubt traditional flirtation will be involved.

I see your skeptical expressions. Fine. Let’s skip down to the end of the episode.

The captain and his security chief Landry, played by Rekha Sharma, are standing very close together indeed. The two of them don’t have a lot of screen time together yet, but the way she talks about him is pure something-is-happening-between-us. I’m kind of on the edge of my seat, intrigued but not fully committed to giving up that six dollars.

The captain turns those eyes to his security chief. In the dark, the room seems very small. I give the television a side-eye. Are we going there? Is that what we’re doing with my six dollars?

Ever have a moment when you think you’re giving someone 100 percent of your attention, and then they say something that makes you sit up? Yeah. Here it comes.

Very quietly, in the dark intimacy of this room, he says, “I think we will spend some time together this evening.”

Not a question. This is what we are doing.

In return, I have two questions. Who is we? And what will we spend this time doing? Because for six dollars, I expect to be fully integrated into this evening’s activities. Fully integrated.

Alas, Lorca and Landry are not going there. Not right now, anyway. Turns out she’s brought him a little something. It’s kind of like a lethal cockroach about the size of an ATV. She and Michael barely escaped it with their lives earlier that episode, and I’m sure no one else knows it’s on board. It’s a little secret on a ship full of secrets.

Anyway, something about the way Landry says, “Anything, anytime,” is telling me that this conversation has gone a couple of different ways and might head down those familiar paths again soon. I hope it’s before I have to give up another six dollars.

Back to Sonequa.

I had started to worry that Sonequa had gone from playing one brilliant badass to another. She had only just started to explore Sasha’s vulnerability and emotional depth when she was cut down on The Walking Dead, and I worried that she was going to be just another Strong Black Woman on a TV show I was paying six dollars for. Who was going to test Michael Burnham? Who was going to break Michael down and watch her rebuild herself? Who will make her giggle? Who will make her sigh?

Michael is in an untenable position; Captain Lorca is trouble on a stick. He is going to make her life difficult in ways she hasn’t started to think about yet, and she’ll have to evolve outside her comfort level to survive that.

And Jason Isaacs is hot. I’m telling you that the man seduced me so thoroughly in one hour that I put a song from Fifty Shades on a blog post with my name on it.

Once. Don’t get crazy on me. You’re not getting anything related to Fifty Shades from me EVER again, unless it’s vitriol and scorn.

Two minutes after the episode ended, a receipt for six dollars landed in my inbox. Well played, CBS. I am already wondering about how you will get the next six dollars.

I didn’t do the giddy little dance, though.

For that, I’m going to need someone to take off some clothes.

Follow Lady Smut.

Looking for something to read? Check out this big, beautiful fall giveaway — 24 hot romances running the gamut from age play to dark BDSM to futuristic fun to historical heat. You’ll even find my short story, 1-800, for your amusement. Find something new! Click here to try out a new kink!

 

Beta Me, Baby

26 Jun

by Kiersten Hallie Krum

By now, pretty much everyone on the planet with the slightest connection to me knows of my mad love for Wonder Woman the movie and Wonder Woman in general. Loud and proud, baby. Loud and proud.

 

The film has stuck with me for weeks. I saw it a second time with a friend for whom it was a first-time viewing, and found even more to love about it. Those Amazons. Strewth.

 

I’m currently caught on the marvel (heh) that is Steve Trevor, the beta male. Amongst all the awesome female kick-assedness of the film, Steve Trevor is not so quietly being equally awesome. I touched on this a bit in my blog about the movie.

Because Steve respects her and he is absolutely not at any moment ever made to feel less of a man by her or because of her. He also doesn’t hesitate to follow her, to have her back while acknowledging her leadership. Nor does he think she’s less due to her gender. He doesn’t have to make her little to feel big. There’s no proving to be done by either one of them. She has her part and he has his and they both go to do them, no matter the personal cost. They are fully partners. When Steve fights with the Amazons on the beach, he doesn’t try to protect them or underestimate them. He immediately assesses their skill and fights side by side with them. More, he learns from them and proves this later in the movie when he copies an Amazon move in order to help Diana during another battle, sure she’ll instantly know what he means because he’s aware of her skill and training and more, confident she can carry it out to fruition. And he loves her, fast and sure as happens in such movies, but he doesn’t love her expecting her to change or become someone else or to set aside what she believes in or must do because of that love. He loves her for who she is, and makes him better, makes him want to be better.

Any cursory scan of my blogging history shows my affinity for the alpha male, at least in print and TV/films. In real-life, I can put up with that bossy, tough guy BS for about half a second before the guy has to show me something more. A guy can be masculine and manly and not be a jackhole about it, alpha or no. And this, I’m begging to believe, is the core of the beta hero, of which Steve Trevor may be the perfect example.

You lead, I’ll follow

I texted with my best friend about Steve Trevor this week.

Her: I dig the beta hero, so I’m biased.

Me: A lot of women do and if they were all like Steve Trevor, I’d definitely go there. I think he’s a mix of  both [alpha and beta]. Goes to show that beta doesn’t automatically mean weak or not a leader of men.

Her: He’s absolutely both and definitely a good example of someone willing to share the load. Smart enough to take the reigns and give them back as the situation changes. He doesn’t constantly have to prove himself. And I think the beta part comes through in that he doesn’t try to change everyone’s opinions of [Diana]. He tries to keep her somewhat within the social boundaries so they can be effective (not because he feels those boundaries are good) but lets her prove her own worth to others. So, not take-charge in that way, but sexy because he knows it’s unnecessary.

My bestie is one super smart lady.

With Steve Trevor on the brain, I paid more attention to Mon-el in the TV show Supergirl.

Chris Wood as Mike/Mon-El and Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl Photo: Robert Falconer/The CW 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

I’m not a fan of Supergirl, or, more accurately, I don’t want to be a fan of Supergirl. I really don’t want to like this show for Reasons. Yet I find myself absently watching it, usually reruns and usually around 7 AM on weekdays when I’m doing my FitBit and lifting free weights and need the distraction. But Supergirl is girlie and feminist, empowering and a little campy. And in season two, it introduce a perfect beta male.

Mon-el starts out as a self-serving boy toy who isn’t so much interested in using his powers for good as is for using his powers to score. But as the season progresses (I’m guessing here a bit; I haven’t seen most of the season, only the first three and the back nine episodes. Don’t want to like it, remember?). Anyway, as the season progresses, and he and Kara, aka Supergirl, fall in love, he becomes less a dude bro and more the perfect beta male and partner for his super-powered woman.

Ah. Young, superpowered love.

Mon-el is not left with no role to play. His powers are different than Kara’s and so how he can help in their missions differs too. But he’s learning from her all the time, much like Steve Trevor learns from Diana and the Amazons. At the end of the season, again like Steve Trevor, Mon-el sacrifices himself and his and Kara’s happiness in order to save the world. Literally. He does this because he’s learned this kind of sacrificial service from Kara. And, again like Steve Trevor, he knows in making that sacrifice that he’s leaving the more powerful person behind to carry on.

I’m not of the belief that only beta males can be this layered and complex, this manly and yet not the primary in all things. Dyson of the Lost Girl series is unabashedly (and literally) an alpha wolf (and, admittedly, occasionally a bit of an emotional dumb ass). As he falls for the succubus Bo and as, episode by episode, they become partners in crime solving, he defers to her when the situation warrants it, none of which makes him any less alpha be it wolf or man. They save each other, time and again, not because one or the other is weak or incapable, but because they each have their own strengths and often, Bo’s is the greater one in the situation. (At least in season one. I’m still trying to ignore most of season two, all of season three, when the man-hating began in earnest, and the majority of seasons five and six.)

Above all, these “beta’ males are not de-fanged of their masculinity because of a powerful woman. Powerful in their own rights, be it as a super-powered alien from another planet or as a superior leader of men, a truly heroic person, who is as human as the guy next to him, or an outright alpha male who isn’t a bully or a jackhole, when partnered with a woman vastly more powerful than they are in physical capabilities, they are not made lesser–they do not feel lesser–which is super sexy.

We need more of these complex, empowered, layered, kinds of men in fiction today, because there are, I’m convinced, far many of them in real-life than media would lead us to believe. In which case, beta me, baby. Beta me.

Do you have a favorite book or TV beta boyfriend? Give him a shout out in the comments.

Now available exclusively from Kindle. Click image to buy!

Follow Lady Smut and sign up for our newsletter so you never miss the sexy. Alpha, beta, or gamma–we take all comers.

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 ROCKS, is a finalist for InD’Tale Magazine’s prestigious RONE award! Visit her website at www.kierstenkrum.com and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

 

You Talk Too Much, Mother: Skip Hemlock Grove

22 Jun

F*ck it! At least I was good in the show.

by Madeline Iva

“You talk too much, Mother.” This is the big culminating moment of the first season for Hemlock grove. Roman kills his mother by ripping out her tongue.  Oh, you want a spoiler alert? Here’s my spoiler alert: Hemlock Grove is misogynistic as f*ck.

Skip Hemlock Grove–here’s a few good reasons why:

1) TELLING WOMEN THEY TALK TOO MUCH

Man, that culminating moment did not sit well with me.  Don’t get me wrong: Roman’s mother is evil.  But she’s 3-D evil, and has a lot of interesting stuff going on with her.  But you see, Roman is evil too.  We’re ultimately rooting more for him, because we’ve seen more of his humanity, but we’ve seen a bit of her humanity as well.  Given the fact that they practically cancel each other out, can we really triumph in someone telling his mother to shut up, then killing her? Hmmmmmm.

It’s just the whole way it was done–like we were supposed to rejoice that she’s being ‘put in her place’.  No.  Having pretty much gulped the first season in three swallows, I was left to assess the damage of my cough ridden days spent binging on the sofa.

2) I sat through, like, FOUR WOMEN BEING CHEWED UP BY A WEREWOLF–VAGINA FIRST. 

3) I sat through Roman RAPING A GIRL AND THEN TELLING HER TO FORGET IT HAPPENED. (He has that power.)

4) THE DEAD GIRL BODY COUNT: 12 named female characters on the show.  Seven high school girls and five women.

SO! Who’s left at the end to be in season two? It’s a blood bath people. By the end one is left in town. (The one who was raped.) One has left town.  Ten are dead. (We think.)

There are 11 named male characters on the show.  All of the authority figures are male.  Who’s left at the end? Well, one moves away by the end of Season one.  One has his face scratched–but it will heal.  And one is dead.  The homeless guy.(Suicide.)

Ten women dead by the end of season one and one homeless guy.

5) VIRGIN/WHORE TROPES — WITHOUT IRONY. Slut shaming is so 1980’s, people.

The show has a good mother and an evil mother. The good mother gets far less on-air time, and doesn’t actually DO anything. You have a somewhat clueless virgin and a lot of ‘popular girl’ werewolf bait. The sluttiness is played down a bit, and not really judged—but we know how this goes.  The cheerleader, the slut, the mean girls. They all wind up screaming and then the blood splatters…it’s just so old. SO OLD.

I was the interesting weird girl. I could have been a leading character. You could have done so much with me to redeem yourselves! And you didn’t! Agggggh!

I wrestle with the fact that I love gothic-suspense-y twisted and perverted stuff. And this is suspense.  This is twisted and perverted stuff. But wait.  Usually the point of all this gothic mayhem is that we see it from the point of view of a young female character.  What’s revealed to her is the unfair twisted horrors that she never suspected lay beneath the place that at first did not appear all that bad.

But wait! This is exactly the experience I had with this show!  Yet I don’t *think* that’s the experience the show creators wanted to convey.  The world is a sinister, creepy place where ten women die (and two get raped) for every one male death. Gah! I already knew this, but thought we’d seriously left this crap behind us.

6) WE WANT NEW SKOOL GOTH NOT OLD SKOOL MISOGYNY: There’s so many other twisted, perverted, and gothic stuff that can involve getting out of the old school male trenches. Gay people doing twisty stuff. Men getting raped instead of women. (but not the gay men, please.) Monsters (the physical kind) having love affairs. Gorgeous a-sexuals. Disabled heroes. Jewish heroines. (The place is near Pittsburgh, for god’s sake.)

On this show women are 99% grotesque, evil, or werewolf bait/victims while the very few who aren’t spend most of their time on the sidelines, are passive, unless, you know, they’re being supportive–of the men. What is this? 1955?

There’s one fairly important character on the show who is a person of color.  And that’s it.  She winds up flayed, and suffocated.  So she’s dead. (We think.) One person who is disabled.  Shot twice with a shotgun–dead. (We think.) Nobody included in the show at all who is over the age of 50–except–wait for it–a Hispanic maid.

At this point, I should just KNOW when I see some guys sucking on cigars that whatever it is, it isn’t for me. I’d be far more interested if they were sucking each other’s dicks.

7) WOMEN ARE THE ‘OTHER’ REALLY? REALLY?? I’m scratching my head thinking “Who wrote this?” Young Hollywood guys or old school white writer guys? Or some mix of both? Bleh. Because by the end I’m convinced that these writers/producers/directors don’t find women very interesting or multi-dimensional.  Okay, so maybe all these women aren’t *really* dead.  Like dead for good. But the way women are treated in general–I don’t even want to know what they have to go through in season two.

I give the old guys a pass assuming they grew up in the Mad Men era or took the 80’s to heart and haven’t evolved with the times. They’re dinosaurs. So be it. However, I have a hard time not making all sorts of disturbing assumptions about younger men writing this stuff. Like maybe they’re bro-culture rape-y types. I could see them saying “Hey! We included lots of women in the show.” Yeah, like you deserve a medal.  That’s not the point.  How can you be in your twenties, thirties, or forties in America and not have a clue about women? How can you still see women – who are all around you, no matter where you are – as the “other”. Still????? Something must be wrong with you.

So as hot as poor Roman is – that’s it for Hemlock Grove for me.  The show moves on–and one hopes, learns from its earlier mistakes.  But I’m not alone–obviously.  For more excellent Hemlock Grove hating check out Yo Heart Frijole’s astute blog post.

And follow us at Lady Smut.  Where we’re upbeat and positive–unless you’re being a total asshat and get us really angry.

Madeline Iva writes fantasy and paranormal romance.  Her fantasy romance, WICKED APPRENTICE, featuring a magic geek heroine, is available on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and through iTunes.  Sign up for Madeline Iva news & give aways.

 

 

“Do I feel lucky?” Well, do ya, punk?

15 Jun

by Madeline Iva

I do.  I do feel lucky.  I’ve got two new TV actor obsessions this summer.  AND WE’RE CELEBRATING Elizabeth Sa Fleur’s new book release LUCKY. (See more below.)

Todays post is about two weird punks, among other things. Thankfully people rarely toss around the term ‘punk’ anymore.  Some older man or jock would toss around the term as a way of picking on or at least intimidating one of those non-alpha males hanging out in the high school halls, usually minding his own business. My two latest TV actor obsessions would fit that outdated term. They’re lurkers. They’re the guys the jocks are dying to pick on.  Let’s herald the fact that TV has come such a long way that the ‘weird’ guys are now our heroes.

Isabelle Drake has already talked about her fascination with RIVERDALE.  I couldn’t agree more; it’s a more wholesome, more CW teen drama version of Twin Peaks.  The only thing that kept me from gagging on all the wholesome was –as Isabelle rightly points out — the scandals, secrets, and subversions.  Meanwhile, the show is narrated by one Jughead.

ALL HAIL JUGHEAD!

He’s the “weird one” on the show–the writer, and the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Sensitive and not into sports, cars, bands, or anything at all guy-like.  He just wants to hide in a corner and write about it all from a loner-safe distance. Just the kind of guy I would have fallen for in high school.

THE SHY WRITER GUY ROCKS MY WORLD

Betty draws him out of his corner to get on the school newspaper where she’s the editor and then he and Betty sleuth together. YES.

And he has a tortured relationship with his father who is (gasp!) Skeet Ulrich, still looking pretty damn good, I must say, and working that tempting bad boy vibe.  I totally crushed out on him in SCREAM and man, I don’t quite get why the girls in Riverdale aren’t crawling onto his face — that he doesn’t have a love interest is just wrong wrong wrong.

But I digress.

Another face slap moment while watching RIVERDALE is that Cole Sprouse who plays Jughead was, like, Ben – BEN!!! Ross’s son from Friends era.  So very very wrong.  Also it seems wrong that a child we’ve basically watched grow up on TV (don’t forget The Suite Life of Zach and Cody) is so cool and has got it together.  That said, for all the twin-cest stuff they play with on Riverdale it should be noted that Cole himself is an identical twin (the happy twin).

YAY JUGHEAD THE A-SEXUAL!

Okay – it’s so old, but I wonder if you heard about the controversy with Jughead’s sexuality? Well, the deal-i-o is this: Archie comics were already revamping their image and making themselves relevant for the modern age. Looking from today’s perspective at Jughead who remained free of all relationship entanglements and who loved to eat – we have here a classic a-sexual kind of character. Great! The comic ran with it –but they got into trouble when it came to the TV show on the CW.

Parents don’t want their kids having sex – but neither do they want their kid being asexual it seems. Cole Sprouse fought for it, but too bad, Jughead gets his romance on with one of the other Riverdale characters. I’m on the fence with this one. I liked the romance–a LOT–but I also like the idea of a (young and hot) asexual character. I want to have my cake and eat it too (a very asexual joke, btw.)

Anyway, I liked the character and I liked Cole all the more for him fighting for asexual Jughead. Without him there would have been no one relatable for me in the Riverdale reboot at all… not even creepy twincestuous Cheryl Blossom…

Many people were excited that all these actors from the 80’s and 90’s shows up as parents in the show, but I was rolling my eyes (except for SKEET!)

Damn, Skeet!

And Jughead is not really weird.  He’s what passes for the school’s intellectual.  He’s a teen who wants to avoid other teen’s penchants for drama and mess.  (Yes!) But eventually, Riverdale really focusses on Jughead’s own attempt–despite himself–to transcend his trailer park background and become one of the Riverdale scooby gang.  Forces pull him back, but Betty rallies everyone to pull him forward, and I just can’t tell you how happy I was to have his character — the writer, the outsider — become the heart of the show.

Final hot mention for Riverdale goes to Rob Roco who plays a hot GAY biker dude. (Swoon!)

HOW MANY HOT SWEDISH SKARSGARDS ARE THERE ANYWAY???

Anyway, moving on to the *real* “weird” dude in high school type –

He’s got to be the tallest guy on the show and, like, 27, but who CARES? Billy Skarsgard is the creepy high school rich boy Roman in Hemlock Grove.

Billy Skarsguard (brother of Alexander, son of Stellan) plays Roman in Hemlock Grove. The rich kid (and devil’s spawn????) –hey I don’t know, cause I just started watching the show—-in the town, Roman seems born to sin. He smokes, he drinks, gets high, and pops pills all the live long day and this is perfectly okay with his mother. (Because that’s what a devil’s spawn needs????)

Disturbed–in the *best* possible way!

But he’s got a good heart – in his own a way. In a very weird way. He’s interested in the neighbor teen boy who lives in a trailer. He’s interested in a cheerleader who was killed.  There’s a sense of pathos about him.  He takes his female cousin out for a good time. He’s definitely a good brother, and likes his sister’s freakish qualities.  He seems to indulge his we-think-she’s-evil mother with a fair amount of politeness.

He also boinks all the girls and THEN some. There is this one scene – ooh, it’s gonna squidge you out, but okay.  Roman is into blood. Like licking it. So when this girl in his class has a tampon sticking out of her purse and needs to go to the bathroom, he’s right behind her. Next scene – you can hear in the bathroom they’re having sex.

NO – WAIT – it gets gorier than that. Flash to the bathroom and you can tell behind the bathroom door that he’s going down on her like CRAZY. And she’s groaning and having an amazing time of it.

YES–it’s that kind of show.

My ultimate stance on this scene is….I love it. She’s having a VERY good time, he seemed to be too. That’s the definition of good sex in my book. Teens of America–take note.

(Side bar: Where are we going in our culture with period sex? It doesn’t seem to be really changing much—we regularly get these mentions dropped into the culture. It’s just the mentions seem to be getting bigger and more public. I remember finding this book by Erica Jong on the shelves while babysitting—not Fear of Flying, but maybe her second or third book? The character takes a younger lover, and she’s having the Red Sea of all periods but that doesn’t stop him. He just goes to town on her, triumphantly pulling the tampon out with his teeth and maybe even chewing on it, before getting back to bizness. (!!!) Of course, that’s the only scene I remember from the book at this point and I think it scarred me for life in some way I’m not sure of. Then there was Endless Love. Skip ten years. That thing in the pilot of Entourage where when Eric says to his friends that his he didn’t have sex with his girlfriend cause she said she was on her period. The guys are like, “She’s cheating on you.” And indeed she was. When is a period just a period anymore? IDK. There was that scene in 50 Shades when he visits her during her vacation home and she’s on her period. And finally, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend had that scene that hinted at a song called “Period Sex“.  The YouTube video Period Sex is even MORE out there.  I guess we’ll know it’s a real thing when it becomes a romance subgenre.)

WHO DOESN’T OBSESS OVER THE TORTURED HOT WEIRD GUY TEETERING ON THE EDGE?

Back to Roman: I have a feeling this is one of those roles that breaks our hearts. He’s a character teetering morally back and forth – like Jughead, only the stakes are far higher.  He could so easily go evil on us. But he’s not there yet. (I’m about maybe four episodes in.)  So of course you/I want him to not go over to that horrible side. But I think we can see from the gif below that he does. I’m just suspecting…it’s gonna be creeeeeeepy!

Okay, enough of the weird and grotesque today.  We’re especially happy that Elizabeth Sa Fleur’s latest LUCKY is out in time to take to the beach for that ultimate sweep-you-away summer read.  Here’s a blurb and some links.  Buy it! Buy it NOW!

LUCKY is Book #4 of the Elite Doms of Washington series

Entertainment investor and resolute bachelor Derek Damon Wright and dancer Samantha Rose are unprepared for their mutual attraction to one another, especially since she wants a baby and he wants … anything but.

Billionaire, entertainment investor and resolute bachelor Derek Damon Wright and dance studio owner Samantha Rose are unprepared for their mutual attraction to one another. Family doesn’t match Derek’s sophisticated life of private jets, vacations in the Caribbean and his BDSM activities. Yet a magnetic passion draws them closer—at least until their past mistakes arise and threaten all hope of a real future.

 

 

 

 

The Master of None “First Date” episode made me glad I’m not on Tinder

19 May

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

I’m writing this post while binge watching Season 2 of Master of None, the Netflix comedy created (and often written and directed) by and starring Aziz Ansari as actor and newly single Dev Shah.

Here’s the trailer for Season 2:

It took me a little while to warm up to the show; I started Season 1 soon after it debuted, but didn’t get far. But over the last week I’ve been making my way through Season 1, then went right into Season 2.

There have been moments of recognition, but episode four of the new season, titled “First Date,” was one that made me grateful that I’m not using dating apps. I almost wrote, “grateful that I’m not single,” but that’s not totally accurate. While I’m happy to be in a five-year long-term relationship, even back when I was single, I could barely handle online dating, let alone dating apps.

I think the reason they never did the trick is that, unlike the woman Dev goes out with who, mid-date, starts using the app where they met, Love at First Sight, because she’s both just not that into him and truly enjoys swiping, I was never “into dating,” I was into meeting someone I could connect with. I hated the awkwardness of first dates, the way they could very easily feel like job interviews in more casual settings.

Back in 2010, I went on what’s still my worst date ever, in which a guy seemed to be deliberately trying to make our date agonizing. The thing is, on a dating site or app, it’s relatively easy to make yourself seem more interesting than you are in real life. The converse, for me, was also true: the few times I did using dating sites, I always felt torn between being honest about who I am and trying to upsell myself. If I painted too rosy a picture, I worried I wouldn’t be able to live up to the hype. But when would the right time have been to tell someone I was a hoarder who couldn’t open the door to her apartment without slamming her body weight against it? That’s just not something that would ever work in the context of an “about me” blurb.

But Tinder, which I’ve only observed on a friend’s phone, seems to take all the pressure of summarizing yourself and presenting a pretty image to a whole new level. I imagine that if I were on it, I would also become obsessed with not the quality of my matches, but the quantity. My mood would swoop up or down depending on how popular I found myself with the people there. And while there are exceptions, I have trouble imagining I’d have met someone who I could actually settle down with via a dating app.

I’ve always preferred to meet people I date more organically, either through a shared activity (like playing Boggle or trivia, both of which have yielded me dates), via a mutual friend or simply by chance. As my sex column and erotica writing career developed, I also faced a clash between my public, online persona and the “real me.” That’s not to say that I wasn’t myself in my writing—I always was (and am), to a fault—but it’s awkward when someone can Google you and find out you like giving blowjobs or have posed nude or an endless stream of other details I’ve shared with the world. There is a tension between the me who sits around in sweats and binges TV shows, who’s super dorky and romantic and cries easily, and the more readily available version that comes up via Google. They’re all parts of me, but ones that are hard to convey in an hour or two, especially when there’s all the pressure of a first date.

I know there are some people who simply enjoy the act of dating, of going out and meeting multiple people, no matter the outcome. But I was never one of them. I was more about the destination than the journey. That’s not to say I didn’t like when a date went perfectly, the kind where I lost track of time and wound up getting home in the wee hours when I’d planned to be back early. But watching Dev go on so many dates on Master of None, I didn’t feel a shred of envy. I didn’t think I was missing out on anything, and while I don’t plan to ever be single again, if that should ever happen, I won’t be using technology to help me bond with anyone. I’ll fumble through the madness that is dating all by myself. At least I don’t have a Tinder worst date story, right?

What do you think? Are dating apps a modern blessing or curse? Leave a comment and let us know!

——————————————————————————————————-

Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) has edited over 60 anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1 and 2, Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica, Begging for It, Fast Girls, The Big Book of Orgasms and more. She writes widely about sex, dating, books and pop culture and teaches erotica writing classes around the country and online. Follow her @raquelita on Twitter and find out more about her classes and consulting at eroticawriting101.com.

Decent Acting, Gorgeous People, And BDSM! So Why Didn’t Anyone Watch Submission?

10 May

By Elizabeth Shore

A few days ago I found myself without anything to do. Well, technically, there’s always s**t to do, but nothing I felt like tackling. The solution? Cruise my way down couch jockey street, flipping channels until I landed on some mind-numbing goodness for a few hours of escape. Drink in one hand, remote in the other, I found Submission, a 6-episode series that aired last year on Showtime. Wait…last year?! Why hadn’t I heard of it? Admittedly, I’m not always hip to the latest on TV, but still. This show was right up my erotic romance alley and yet until recently had gone undiscovered.

Naturally, I binge-watched all six episodes. Not terribly impressive since they were each like 28 minutes long. Yet once I finished watching I really was perplexed about why no one’s been talking about this show. Let’s run down the list of attractions: beautiful actors (standard fare for TV shows, but still); not bad plotline, decent writing, money from Showtime. Oh, and sex. Lots and lots and lots of sex! BDSM, F/F, regular M/F, even ménage. And it was hot, too. A scene between one of the series’ main characters and an impromptu meet-up in the ladies’ room had me coming back ’round for a second viewing. De-lish!

It’s not surprising that the sex scenes are a major focus of the series. Its two creators, Jacky St. James and Paul Fishbein, have well-established creds in the adult video world. Fishbein, in fact, is the former CEO of Adult Video News and creator of the AVN awards show. So on paper it seems like this series would work. It’s even got parallels to 50 Shades. But I don’t know a single person who’s seen it and the show’s outlook for a season 2 is shaky, to put it mildly.

Here’s the plot: sexually frustrated Ashley ditches her boring boyfriend and decides to roommate with an old friend, Jules. Jules has an additional roomie, Dylan, who’s night and day different from Ashley. Dylan’s a sexually open, do-it-with-anyone kinda gal. She’s also a submissive. When Ashley meets Dylan’s master, Elliott, and becomes the object of his desire, giving Dylan the boot, things get interesting indeed. Nothing like a pissed-off subbie out for revenge. Dylan, as it turns out, knows something about Elliott that he’d rather keep secret. So unless Ashley does exactly what Dylan wants, Elliott’s in a heap o’ trouble. And naturally, adding fuel to Elliott’s fire, by this time he and Ashley are in love. Conflict abounds! Late-night smutty TV at its best. Oh, and then there’s the sex. Did I mention that?

I looked up deets on the show on IMDB and wasn’t exactly shocked to learn that the character of Dylan is played by former adult video star, Raylin Joy, whose stage name is Skin Diamond. Her character is the most sexually daring of the bunch. But here’s the interesting thing about the actress. She was born in the U.S. but lived most of her adolescent life in the U.K. She studied Dramatic Arts and her favorite subjects were ancient Greek theater and Shakespeare. For her acting final exam she played Antigone in the Sophocles play. With a theater geek background, why porn? She’s quoted as saying, “as an independent and highly sexual woman, taking charge of my own personal sexual growth in this manner was immensely empowering.”

Certainly comparisons can be drawn between Ms. Joy’s statement about her acting and why some of us choose to read and write erotic romance. There is indeed something personally empowering in creating sexually open characters and having them delve into all kinds of hot wickedness, wherever our naughty little minds choose to take them.

I personally think Showtime dropped the ball by not advertising the dang series. No one’s gonna watch if they don’t know the show exists, amiright?! Who knows if Submission will go beyond a single season, but if you want to see it for yourself, it’s streaming on demand. So if you’re sitting around with nothing to do, now you’ve got some options. 😉

Elizabeth Shore writes both contemporary and historical erotic romance. Her newest book is an erotic historical novella, Desire Rising, from The Wild Rose Press. Other releases include Hot Bayou Nights and The Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires

The end of an awful marriage might be the beginning of something smoking hot. Click to buy.

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: