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Girl’s Guide to Top Ten Adorable Cult Films

3 Aug

by Madeline Iva

It’s August! Time to make with the grabby hands before the slow, relaxed days of summer give way to the hustle of September. Grab a peach smoothie and your favorite guy, and let all your worries go while you enjoy these 10 Adorable Cult Movies — each is it’s own funky mix of whimsy and romance, sprinkled throughout with subversive feminist tropes, and SFF joy.

Here are some films that subverted the 80’s ethos.

Desperately Seeking Susan:

80’s fashion deliciousness and the essence of Madonna distilled.  She was a free-spirit, a mooch, a not-just-one-man kinda woman–the definition of a woman who didn’t draw inside the lines.  You couldn’t be her, but you sure as shit think she’s cool.Note the subtle Alice in Wonderland devices, as Susan steps through her sliding door (i.e. The Looking Glass) into a new world.

Earth Girls are Easy:

Jeff Goldblum is hot.  Okay–geek-hot, but this movie recognized that!   EGAE is a movie that rolls around in sexual objectification, even as it rejects old skool values for 3rd wave feminism and a hard core ‘whatevs” attitude.  The iconic song “I Want ‘Em Big and Stupid” was a cry from the heart back in a time when erom didn’t even exist.  When this movie came out, Jeff and Gina were married, and no one knew who Jim Carey and Damon Wayans were.  Seriously.

Clueless:

America was clueless when this film came on the scene that it was a clever remake of Jane Austen’s Emma.  (Not me! I watched it the first time thinking “Elton? Elton.  Why is that name so familiar?” And blurted out “Oh My GOD, it’s EMMA!” in the movie theatre when she got out of the car. With great styling, this story of valley-girl redemption is fluffy and fun –but also a solidly crafted movie.  R.I.P. Brittany Murphy, before you went blonde & skinny and you know, died.  Props to Alicia Silverstone for holding onto her vegan ethics in Hollywood.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai:

Peter Weller, you may teach art history now at Syracuse University, but once you were an 80’s cult legend.  Pre-Robo Cop, pre-Naked Lunch, here was a role in which you showed what a movie star you could be.  The film had a very interesting low-budget SFF style we’ve never seen before or since.  Alas, Ellen almost ruins the movie with her overwrought acting, but then again, she has to go eye to eye with an evil slug that’s going to sting her face to death, so.The classic quote from this movie shouldn’t be “Remember: where ever you go, there you are.” It should be, “Hey, hey, hey.  Don’t be mean.” The film is a cult legend, but also is everything the 80’s wasn’t about–which is why I lurv it so hard.

Then the 90’s came: sigh. We finally got to look back at the 80’s and shudder.

Romy & Michelle’s High School Adventure:

I was the Janeane Garofalo character in this movie–minus the cigarettes.  At least that’s what it felt like on the inside. (I’d still rather stick a cigarette in my eye than go to my own high school reunion.) You might be surprised that I would hail a movie which in turn celebrates Pretty Women (shudder), but this movie was groundbreaking as it planted a flag in the quivering flesh of America, advocating female friendship first.  Fromance–you never looked so good.

More recently:

Bend It Like Beckham:

Yes, you get John Rhys-Meyers.  Yes, you get a fabulous multi-cultural feminism that will carry you away, and YES, you get to cheer the idea that women can have what they want — but it doesn’t have to be the same thing for every woman.  Huzzah!

Life After Beth:

You just won’t know just exactly where this movie is going.  A shout out to Matthew Gubler in his supporting role.  This is a small film about a guy’s big problems with his girlfriend–which we ultimately realize really are HIS issues…and symbolic.  Audrey Plaza stars in this film — which is reason enough to watch it in my book.

Warm Bodies:

R is Nick Hoult, and Nick Hoult is hot.  Nuff said. 

Maleficent:

Oh, this film did not go where I thought it would.  It was FABULOUS! Have you seen it? You gotta check it out. How I wish this film had been around when I was a little girl.

Austenland:

The one…the only.  I’m sorry, but J.J. Fields is the *best* Darcy evah!!!!!!! I’ll just confess here: we watch this film allllllll the time.  I could quote the lines to you by now.  This is the film to watch if you’re having a sad day–it will make you feel better.  Our heroine finally decides to take charge of her narrative—you’ll want to as well, after you see this film.

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.

 

 

Heart-Clenching Male/Male Love Stories: Q&A with Kindle Alexander

31 Jul

Click to buy….

Kris Michaels: When Lady Smut asked me to do a series of interviews highlighting the dynamic authors of gay romance, my first thought was Kindle Alexander. If you love a well written, heart-clenching love story, this author duo is for you. I was fortunate to meet the dynamic duo of Kindle Alexander early on in my writing career. The ladies that comprise this team are fabulous people who are kind, giving, and so much fun.

Full Disclosure: my disclosure, not their book by the same name, which by the way is freaking amazing…anyway, my favorite ugly cry book, the one that had me purchasing stock in a popular tissue company, is Always, by Kindle Alexander. The book wrecked me in the best possible way. Welcome Kindle Alexander!

Kindle Alexander: Thank you for letting us be here today. Big hugs.

Kris Michaels: What people may not realize is that Kindle Alexander is the pen name for a writing duo. How did you meet?

Kindle Alexander: We were cheerleading moms. Our daughters were competitive cheerleaders. We became close friends after an accident that involved my middle daughter. My writing partner was very sweet to me at that time. I call her the sympathy whispers, she’s really good at being there for people. I can say that she’s less sweet to me now. (I can’t wait for her to read this. 😊 )

Kris Michaels: What was the impetus to say, “Hey, let’s write a book?”

Kindle Alexander: It started after my daughter’s accident. It was in the Twilight craze time-frame. That’s when we found adult vampires through JR Ward. We couldn’t read fast enough to get our fill. About that time, Facebook opened to the public. We found Role Playing/fanfiction of JR Wards characters and we somehow got involved. I weirdly became Blay, she was Saxton on Facebook. We fell in love with MM Romance. Loved it. The stories in my head turned to guy on guy. It was actually a little shocking how completely all of the girls in my head and in the stories I was reading turned to guys.

Click to buy

It was right about the time the e-reader was invented. We didn’t know about the MM Romance world so we started writing these scenes online in fanfiction and developed a following. I remember the day I was in my writing partner’s kitchen and I said, “I think we should take these scenes and write a book.” She looked at me shocked and appalled and said, “But I failed English.” (We believed authors were a gift from a higher power, we weren’t worthy. We still believe that and still believe we’re not worthy.)

Kris Michaels: Do you write full time?

Kindle Alexander: Yes, even though we’re very slow. As an Indie Author, there is so much work outside of the writing process. It takes a lot to keep our books in front of people.

Kris Michaels: How many books do you currently have on your backlist?

Kindle Alexander: 8, 9, or 10. Something like that. I’m excited to say that Painted On My Heart won the Gold award in both the LGBT category and the Romance category for the eLit Awards. We’re proud of that accomplishment. No other LGBT book has ever won the Romance award.

Kris Michaels: Tell me what the process is for writing together. Do you swap scenes or do you each write a main character? Do you physically meet to write together or do you write separately and marry the efforts on line?

Click to buy.

Kindle Alexander: Yes. We write all over each other and send the file back and forth. She’s a diva. She likes Word, so we don’t use a shared online version, its one file shared back and worth, broken up into sections. The best thing about writing together is the pre-planning. We talk about guys kissing all of the time. Its great fun.

Kris Michaels: I know authors hate to say one character is their favorite, but if you two had to pick one character each (and don’t worry, we won’t tell your other guys) who would you pick and why?

Kindle Alexander: She picks Aaron from Full Domain. Aaron is a lot like her, they share the same personality. I pick Kane from Always. I connect with his personality. Always was a healing book for me, and Kane is a lot like I see myself.

Kris Michaels: What story was the absolute hardest to write? Was an emotional or technical difficulty?

Kindle Alexander: Well, that’s hard. Always was healing but the whole book was written nine months before I could actually finish the last few chapters. I cried and cried and cried and cried. So I appreciate that book.

Full Domain really took us to the next level of writing. Pulling the mystery and intrigue together as new writers was a challenge to get right.

Click to Buy

Painted On My Heart is probably the one story that helped in my understanding of the true world of a gay man, especially ones with any age on them. We touched on things we thought we understood and learned quickly that we didn’t. In return, we met some of the very best people in the world because of that story. The research alone put us in a situation that’s changed the way we see life. Spoiler alert – Painted touches on HIV. We spent days talking to the Department of Health, then taking that knowledge out to gay men with this disease. Some of those men are now close personal friends. My life is far better off because of their willingness to get involved with our story before and after it was written. Painted kind of turned into a statement book. I’m not sure we’ll ever get as much out of a book as we did that one.

Kris Michaels: What story flew off your fingertips and took you both by surprise?

Kindle Alexander: Double Full. It was written insanely fast for us. Such a letdown to learn it was an anomaly. We’re painfully slow writers deleting at least as many words as we write. I just chopped 35,000 words off this story we’re working on.

Kris Michaels: If you had a walk on song, you know the song that baseball players have blaring from speakers when they come up to bat, what would the songs be for you?

Kindle Alexander: What’s a song with lots of pain and crying?

Interviewer Note: Bon Jovi anything is what I hear when I imagine the Kindles walking toward home plate

Kris Michaels: Do you write full time?

Yee-ha! Click to buy.

Kindle Alexander: Is this some sort of preconceived question based on the answers you think we’ll give? Are you suggesting I should stop and get a day job? 😊

Interviewer Note: I may have written these questions after my second whiskey for the evening, but I loved the answer!

Kris Michaels: If I stranded you on a mountain top and only allowed you access to three books to read until the spring thaw (three total, not each…shakes finger at Kindle, I’m watching you) what three books would they be?

Kindle Alexander: A heavy book to kill bugs and mosquitoes. Another should be how to cook in the wilderness and probably another on how to construct a house with only rocks and my girlie attitude as tools. If I get a fourth one, something that teaches me how to make vodka out of pine trees.

Kris Michaels: What is your favorite thing about writing in the M/M genre?

Kindle Alexander: At different times I’ve had different answers, but my honest answer is everything. I love guy with guy. I tend to watch shows with MM involvement, I volunteer my time and money for LGBT causes, I’ve transitioned all my real-life friends into people that agree with equality for all, I love this world. I love the open mindedness that so many readers have who read gay fiction. My life is better on so many levels than ever before. We’ve gotten lots of hate from both inside and outside the genre, but even factoring that in, nothing is as good being a part of this world.

Kris Michaels: Tell us about the latest book you are working on. Date of anticipated release? Is it part of a series or the beginning of a series?

Kindle Alexander: We’ve stopped doing series. We have a huge cast of characters. We’ve decided to let our characters work together as needed. This next book is tentatively called Reservations, and will be out sometime late fall. Arik and Kellus as well as Tristan and Dylan are involved in this story. I believe we have names for our characters. This time it was hard to come up with both their names. Wanna know? I haven’t said this before. Levi and Thane. Thane’s name has special meaning. You’ll have to read the story to learn why. 😊

Kris Michaels: Do you still get butterflies before you hit publish?

Kindle Alexander: Oh my god -sick as a dog. We get an insane amount of hate when we publish – lots and lots of love and friendship and community, but hate too. It’s the anticipation of it all, but I can say, our friends and readers are great at building us up and standing beside us. For that, I sincerely thank each one. Kris is really good at that for us. So we’re blessed and that has to remain the focus.

Kris Michaels: If each of you had a magic wand and could change only one thing each about the world today to make it a better place, what would you change?

Kindle Alexander: For both of us, it’s the level of discord and hate spewing so freely in today’s world. It’s too much. Our world has gotten sincerely mean. Next would be healthcare.

Want to try a Kindle Alexander book? LINKS!!!

Double Full   Nice Guys series–1

For any who have not started Kindle Alexander’s Stories or will go back for a Re-read binge- you will want to use this order to get the full progression of the read:

1-Current Between Us

2-Double Full

3-Full Disclosure

4-Secret Prequel in Night Shift 2 — [Ask Kindle nicely to send you this novella.  Email: kindle@kindlealexander.com]

5-Secret

6- Closet Confession (novella from Night Shift 1)

7- Full Domain

8- Painted On My Heart

9- Reservations — coming Fall 2017

Kindle Alexander   ‪#‎top20bestsellingAuthor ‪#‎SinIsBack #loveislove

Kris Michaels believes in meeting life head on…as long as there is an ample supply of coffee, whiskey and wine! She believes love makes this crazy life worthwhile. When she isn’t writing Kris enjoys a busy life with her husband, the cop, and her two wonderful sons. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter and check out her webpage. Her latest book, Jared is available now at all major outlets. Find your copy on AmazonB&N, iBooks and Kobo.

 

Hela Yes, I Want To Be A Goddess of Death!

27 Jul

I literally squealed watching this preview. The trailer for Thor: Ragnorak is *so* good.

Yes, we want more Loki–and look! It’s Jeff Goldblum! Add it to the pile of movies I’m impatiently waiting to see **cough** #WeWantAquaManNow **cough**

Hela Rad! Guess what we’re all going as for Halloween this year?

And then…she appeared. Kate Blanchet plays Hela: Goddess of Death.  The bar is now set for great acting: can you wear antlers and make it work? Kate can. Just sayin’. Also, Blanchette looks GREAT with dark hair. (I always wanted dark hair).

Action figure anyone? Kate goes Goth. LURV!!!!

I am now so massively into the whole goddess of death thing.

To sum up: I predict Hela turns a thousand little girls kinda gay.

I do love a great villain, I really do. I’ve talked about Circe Lannister before –as well as the actress who plays her, Lena Headey. I just love powerful female characters. Show me a powerful, complex, intelligent leading female character–frankly, I don’t give a damn if she’s evil.

We all relish a female character who walks around without excuses or apologies.

Let me amend that–We all relish a woman of power who walks around without excuses or apologies –and is comfortable with it.

Yes to these new powerful heroines and villains —

Bring on the child free. I confess I still inwardly roll my eyes at the otherwise wonderful Wonder Woman movie when at one point WW squeals: “Oooh! A baby!” I mean, it makes sense because she’d never seen a baby before, but I was relieved that she never seems to engage with one again. (Whew!)

Bring on the kick-ass. Bring on the women who aren’t trying to please, who don’t live for others, who live in their own skin and never cringe about it.

We all have to wait until November to see the new Thor movie (sob!) but the wait is over to watch ATOMIC BLONDE.

Quotes: from Evan Narcisse of i09:

“What’s stuck with me after seeing Atomic Blonde is the portrait it paints of the emotional decay that happens to espionage agents.”

Excellent! I LURV emotional decay! It’s my favorite kind of decay ever.

“As Percival, McAvoy doesn’t get as much of a spotlight in the action department but makes up for it by making his character luridly indulgent and seductive.”

Yes please! McAvoy is an awesome actor, and makes every scene he’s in wiggle with life. You want to crawl up on the screen and hang out with him. This is a perfect role for him.

While I love watching James, the best fun is watching a powerful woman, when she has a hot guy side-kick giving her support–of whatever kind she needs. (Wink wink. Nudge nudge. If you see the movie, you’ll reflect on these lines and know what I mean.)

“From the first, Broughton comes across as icily aloof, even as it’s shown that she had a romantic past with a murdered colleague.”

Or…um, maybe she’s just into her job? Like Bond? You don’t see him needing excuses to cold blood-edly kill—he’s just really good at it.

Thank GOD she’s not another of those movie characters who we have to watch being beaten and raped.  Or someone who wants vengeance for some crazy form of abuse.  I have great empathy for damaged, traumatized, broken women–I really do. And these stories of survival and transcendence are important.  Yet life is always better with a diverse array of choices. There are plenty of *other* excellent reasons to go out and kick ass–we don’t all have to be victims first.

Talking about Bond – that franchise is so dead and old it’s mouldering in the grave, especially now that they’ve passed on Idris playing Bond.  I’m going to look forward to more movies like ATOMIC BLONDE instead– especially if they’re written and directed by women too.

Speaking of women who are the boss of you….

I absolutely loved this interview Alexa Day did Tuesday. Having read her short story “Passing Through” I advise you to hop on this new novella on Friday, July 28.  The whole fem-dom thing is hotting up, people.  Catch the rising wave:

Click to follow Alexa Day on Amazon…so you’ll know the instant this bad boy drops.

Look — a blurb!

The summer’s brought two surprises to bar owner Gigi Dean: the former Army Ranger she hired is the perfect barback, and he pleases her in bed as much as he does at work. Gigi swore long ago never to let a man come between her and her business, so allowing herself to succumb to her intense attraction to her employee for more than one night is a definite no-no. But for how long can she resist the desire to seduce this powerful alpha male?

Right at the start, Noah Monroe told his boss that he is just passing through on the way to a more permanent job. He hasn’t told her that his hunger for her keeps him awake at night. He won’t have more than this summer with the gorgeous woman who is his perfect match. Can he coax her into his arms for a summer fling? Or will acting on instinct cost him everything he’s begun to love?

You like women in charge–don’t you? Show us your desire to please by following us at Lady Smut and subscribing to our newsletter.

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.

 

 

 

 

Sexually Omnivorous

20 Jul

Nico Tortorella and Bethany Meyers. Photo: Luke Fontana

by Madeline Iva

There’s an actor named Nico Tortorella out there on a television show I’ve never seen. But what’s making headlines for Nico is that he’s joined part of brave young new Hollywood in saying he’s not a straight male.

He could also say he’s not cis-gender. But who really is cis-gender and likes this term? I don’t. Oh, I don’t mind the queer advocates claiming that everyone needs a term—not just the “other”. Sure, but why cis-gender? It doesn’t roll trippingly off the tongue. It sounds ugly. I don’t approve on aesthetic grounds. (Of course, it’s not like gay people picked the word ‘gay’ to describe themselves.)

How about demi-sexual? That sounds much better and describes me to a T.  It has a delicate nice sound. Demitasse, demimonde, demigod. ; >

Demi means “lesser” so if by adopting what used to be ‘normal’ I have to somehow accept a lexical smackdown, so be it – demi-sexual will do nicely. Now being demi-sexual doesn’t define exactly who it is I’m romantically in love with, but who cares!

Back to our guy Nico. He tried to describe himself as sexually fluid. No, he was told, the proper term is pan-sexual. I knew a lot of guys who were pansexual back in those ten minutes between being a teen and hitched for life to my sweetie. I did not know the term pan-sexual back then. I thought of these guys as sexually omniverrous. Just like an omnivore will eat anything, these guys would too. ; >

Pan – It means everything. The prefix is derived from the Greek πᾶν, used in English for all. It’s the same prefix for words like pandemic, panacea, Pantheon and Pangaea. A close equivalent would be the Latin prefix omni which also means everything. (Quora.com) Pan-sexual sounds rather clinical. It doesn’t sound like much of anything—except that it makes you think of pan, small, goat-like, played the pipes. Meh.

But omni–Sexually everything. Vs. Sexually all… Hmmmm. I still like my word better. It captures what I encountered in these guys—their raging appetite for sexual passion with almost everyone they encountered.

Sexually fluid, meanwhile, has a much more melodious sound.  Again, I don’t think that it’s the people who are these things who are coming up with these terms.

Nico must have been approached by the bisexuals.  The latest article in People about him shows his progression down the sexual by-ways of America.  An article just came out in which he was like: Okay, guys. Okay, people. If you really insist I will simply call myself bi-sexual.

Now, other than the Hootie and the Blowfish Song, everybody doesn’t love you if you’re bi. Nico said the Bi people have fought long and hard for recognition. They will not be overlooked. Does Nico realize how challenging it was to get that B into LBGTQ? Well it was. And Nico was like, okay, okay. I’m happy to join with you all and be bi. Third time’s a charm, right?

Also, the bi people might have pointed out – the idea of pan-sexual is that you’ll have sex with ANYONE – including trans people and cross-dressers, even someone who’s intersex. Is that what you mean Nico? And possibly Nico backed down and was like – no dude. I just meant if I like someone I have sex with them, that’s all, but no, I’ve never done it with someone who’s trans….

Photo for The Advocate by Luke Fontana

This is all conjecture of course.

Now, Nico could have said, “I’ve only had sex with cis-gender women and gay/bisexual men.” But that wouldn’t be true because….

Nico’s partner of eleven years, Bethany Meyers, identifies as a lesbian. (!) A lesbian who, until Nico came into her life, had never been sexually attracted to men, or fallen in love with a man. But she has done both with Nico. Also, she’s polyamorous. What does this mean in her case? Apparently, it means that she is in a committed relationship with him—but likes casual sex with others on the side.

[Isn’t this what we used to call cheating? Not really. We now recognize that people can be romantically attracted to one sex AND sexually attracted to another sex. Sometimes who we love is not who we want to have sex with and vice versa. It’s not cheating unless it’s with your nanny and you didn’t check in with Gwen about it first. *Cough-Gavin Rosedale-Cough*.]

How bold of Nico and Bethany to come out with all of this in Hollywood—which is chock-a-block with lesbians, gays, queers, and people of every stripe in between—but which has been notoriously conservative when it comes to actor’s sexuality and their ability to get roles.

Women were the first to break out of this box, because no one on the face of planet earth has ever really minded the idea of two hot women having sex. As long as a woman identified as bi–not queer or lesbian. The L-word—despite the TV show—is not cool. I mean, look at how long it took Jodi Foster to come out of the closet! But in the last year or so a few young leading women have jumped on the bi-wagon.  Then some men started to join them on the bi-bandwagon.

In doing so—and in finding acceptance with their audiences—they have come to create a line in Hollywood. If you’re on one side you’re old. If you’re on the other side where all the gender fluidity is, you’re au currant, young, hip and fresh. You’re connected with younger folk who are choosing their sexuality the way people used to chose their Jimmy Choo’s.

Pick which side of the line you’re on stars! On one hand everyone desperately wants to appear young and in the know. On the other hand, these people making headlines are new to the industry and this is getting them attention…will they be cut off in the casting room on the quiet by studios? We don’t know yet.

Nico, meanwhile, told The Advocate he’d rather wait until he feels love for the other person. Nico, my friends–like myself–is a demi-sexual.  Ahhhhhh! Feels so good, doesn’t it Nico?

The thing I like about this couple is that he’s for sexual fluidity—and that makes sense given that she seems pretty sexually fluid herself. Yet I tremble for them a little. There’s a segment of the gender wars that doesn’t like sexual fluidity. Sexual fluidity implies that one can move from having sexual attraction for one sex to another sex. And if that’s possible, well, then, you can ‘train’ gay people not to be gay. And we don’t want that, do we? No, we do not. Meanwhile, lesbians are never thrilled with anyone who likes women but then ends up liking a guy. No, queer folk don’t like that kind of narrative at all.

I see the problems here, but ultimately, I back the side most willing to admit life is gloriously messy. What’s so wrong with taking things on a case by case basis? Isn’t sexual freedom ultimately about not having to fit into any particular sexual shoebox?

Yes, we all are grateful to those people who devoted their lives to saying there’s more than one shoebox out there. But isn’t it okay to expand upon that philosophy and keep broadening our sexual horizons?

In the end, I like Bethany and Nico’s story. I like that they are young, and brave, and honest about who they are—knowing that they could get it on all sides.  I like that they explored and wandered outside the lines when it came to their love. There’s a kind of vulnerability at the core of their complicated love story – and ultimately, I back Nico and Bethany because there story is about love.

We’re ON FIRE this week over Rachel Kramer Bussel’s latest anthology. (See what I did there?)  Couples exploring their sexual needs together — just like Nico and Bethany!  Just like YOU! Click to buy it now —

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.

Lord of the Ropes

12 Jul

Shibari

Dear lovely people–A.C. Rose is with us again. Today she has an interview to share with us that she did with Morpheous aka Lord of the Ropes.

By A.C. Rose

What is it about ropes?

Some people think it is a little cray-cray to want to be willingly tied up. Others are anxious to try it. And there are those who attest to the sensual power of being tied up and vulnerable.

It’s fascinating to see how ropes are not just an integral part of BDSM play, and at-home sexy times, but have been elevated to an art form.

I reached out to Morpheous – that’s Lord Morpheous, to you – a sex educator, photographer, and kinkster based in New York and Toronto who knows the ropes when it comes to ropes. He is author of the new book, HOW TO BE KNOTTY: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO MODERN ROPE BONDAGE. 

His book is a beautifully executed collection of images with how-to instructions that illustrate many creative ways to tie one on.

He also teaches rope safety in the book.

Morpheous has taught workshops and performed rope bondage around the world and is the founder of Morpheous’ Bondage Extravaganza, reportedly the world’s largest public rope bondage event.  His work is included in academic collections and museums, as well as published in a human sexuality textbook. He is also author of How to be Kinky: A Beginner’s Guide to BDSM and How to be Kinkier: More Adventures in Adult Playtime.

If you’ve ever wondered why ropes are such a big part of BDSM, read on.

A.C. ROSE: For those readers unfamiliar, what is rope bondage?

MORPHEOUS: Rope bondage is the practice of tying another person for the purposes of art, or sex, or sensuality; in fact, for whatever reason you and your partner do it! It comes under the umbrella as BDSM and is most often used as a communication between partners, a way of connecting in a sensual manner, of one partner handing control over to another. There is an artistic side though, and one that’s central to how most people do bondage.

A.C. ROSE: Do you have to be a professional to play with ropes or is there a safety course one should take before trying?

MORPHEOUS: You absolutely don’t need to be a professional to start exploring rope bondage, and while I’d always encourage people to have basic first aid training if they’re going to get into bondage (and, in fact, even if they’re not), you can learn everything you need to learn about safety as you learn the basics of bondage. I’ve written several books and each one of them covers bondage basics and basic bondage safety to a different extent. It’s all about communicating well, checking in often and having certain important bits of safety hardware on hand at all times.

A.C. ROSE: Why do you consider modern bondage both art and eroticism?

MORPHEOUS: The rope bondage that we know today is most often a fusion of both the Eastern and Western styles, and one has a more artistic bent while the other is more about restraint. My personal style is certainly a fusion of these two styles—with a creative twist of my own. While modern bondage is very much about restraint for sexual or sensory purposes, the shapes of the body, the shapes of the rope and the different materials used means that there’s an incredible art to it—not to mention to the process of tying itself. Watching a talented rigger tie their submissive is almost as sexual as being tied yourself. The fluidity of the movement, the lines, the patterns, the almost visible chemistry between the two…it’s nothing short of art.

A.C. ROSE: Many people find the idea of being tied up a scary because of the connotation of being tied up, yet some are drawn to it, and find it exciting.  What is the draw to those who like it?

MORPHEOUS: The draw is, I think, that very vulnerability that some people find scary. To hand yourself over completely to another person is very intense, and it’s that intensity that is at the heart of all BDSM play. Whether you’re being tied or being spanked or letting someone mess with your head, its all based on the trust that you have in that other person—which is why it’s also so important to only play with people who you can trust and who have proven themselves to be trustworthy.A.C. ROSE: When you are working with ropes, are you a master, artist, or hedonist?

MORPHEOUS: I’m all three! The hedonism comes from the thrill of the connection and of the process of bondage; at no point does your desire for sexual contact or the drive to master someone else overcome your consideration for their wellbeing. A good rigger (the person who ties someone else) always, always has safety and security at the forefront of their mind. But then domination of your partner and artistic creativity are also in there too.

A.C. ROSE: There are many different examples in How to Be Knotty. Do you have a favorite technique? And why.

MORPHEOUS: It would be impossible for me to pick a favorite tie or type of tie. My favorite knots and binds change according to who I’m tying and for what purpose. Sometimes you don’t want to engage in intense sex play but you want to feel connected to your partner; the ties that I choose at that point will be very different to the ties I choose for a hot and heavy session. It also changes according to the body type and limitations of your partner. For instance, some people are more flexible than others; some have larger muscles or body parts in certain places, and some just don’t like to have rope across their chests or between their legs or around their hands. The beauty of bondage is that it is so adaptable—and it’s so fun to play with!

A.C. ROSE: Can you explain what ‘sub space’ is and how people get there?

MORPHEOUS: Subspace is the mental space that some submissives reach when they are tied (or when they are otherwise engaged in BDSM play). In subspace you’re consumed by your immediate sensory experience; everything else seems to drop away, and you become serene in the space you’re in, your connection with your rigger front and center of your being. It’s a glorious place to be—although, much like with orgasm, some people find it much easier to reach than others and some might never achieve it.

A.C. ROSE: Once someone is tied, what are some of the pleasures that are administered? Anything goes?

MORPHEOUS: Absolutely not. “Anything goes” isn’t something that should ever be said of anyone engaged in BDSM play of any type. Everyone has boundaries, both physical and mental, and this is a conversation that should ALWAYS be had before you engage in any type of BDSM, especially bondage, and you should also both check in throughout play. You can be very much attracted to the idea of something in theory and then not that into it in reality, and in that case, play should always be stopped.

However, the range of potential pleasures is almost endless! Penetrative sex, non-penetrative sex, sensation play — spanking, playing with pegs, wax, ice, etc.—whatever your partner is into is likely to be heightened when they’re tied. And it’s always fun to find out what they like best!

A.C. ROSE: Is expert rope play one of the more sophisticated aspects of modern BDSM? Or is it just a normal part of the lifestyle?

MORPHEOUS: BDSM term is an umbrella term for many different types of play, and a lot of kinky folks aren’t into rope play at all. However, when you’re at expert level of anything, I would say you’re moving towards the more intense end of the spectrum. You don’t get to be a master at rope without putting in a lot of time, effort, learning and most likely budget too, and you wouldn’t do anything of that if you weren’t hugely passionate about it.

A.C. ROSE: What is it about rope … that makes it so erotic?

MORPHEOUS: Everything! For me, it’s the smell, it’s the feel, it’s the look of it, it’s the marks that rope leaves on skin, it’s the flexibility and malleability of the material, it’s the colour… and it’s what you get to do with it. There are lots of different types of rope and different materials that rope can be made from, and each one has a whole different atmosphere to it. Personally, I love the traditional textures of hemp and hessian, as these look incredibly retro and hardcore.

A.C. ROSE: Does your local hardware proprietor know what you use it for?

MORPHEOUS: I like to buy from particular artisans and local producers who definitely know what I’m using their wares for. However, I’ve been known to buy emergency gear at my local hardware store and I’ve been there enough and said enough things loudly that if he doesn’t know by now, I’d be surprised!

A.C. ROSE: Do you also like, and partake in, vanilla sex?

MORPHEOUS: Of course! You can’t be kink 24/7, and sometimes after a long week all I want to do is cuddle with my incredible wife and eat ice cream and watch movies and have “nice” sex. However that never lasts too long. J

Thank you to A.C. Rose and to Morpheous for sharing their thoughts on this delicious topic with us today. Here’s a link where you can order HOW TO BE KNOTTY: THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO MODERN ROPE BONDAGE. 

Click to buy.

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

A super hot professor.
A beautiful student ready to swipe her V-card.
A gorgeous, naked art model.
The sketch that links them all.

Amanda Slade has a major crush on her sexy art professor and wants his help with an important extracurricular activity—losing her virginity.

Professor Jem Nichols knows falling for his beautiful student is a bad idea but he just can’t say goodbye as the semester ends. But the professor refuses to hastily take her virtue. Instead, he wants to slowly teach her the most important lessons of lovemaking.

By the time they’re done, he’ll know every inch of her body. But with the pressure building around his upcoming art show and her sexual debut, will Jem be the one to take her all the way?

School’s out, but the love affair is just beginning.

Find A.C. Rose on the web:

Website
http://acroseauthor.net/

Hot Romance column:  http://thethreetomatoes.com/category/love-sex/hot-romance

A Dirty Job Calls For Dirty Sex…Heroes Who Drive a Tractor

6 Jul

Click to buy.

by Madeline Iva

Men who drive tractors kinda get me hot.  I like their competence combined with patience and persistence.  I’ve worked on a farm. I’ve shoveled shit, stacked hay bales, emptied ice out of water buckets with a hammer.  Hard muscles come from daily physical labor, and a soul-aching beauty from the quiet surroundings. Yet ripping treasure from the soil is never easy. There’s a psychological hardiness men on tractors require. A serious weather event at the wrong time can ruin an entire crop in a matter of hours.  The farmer must resign himself to fate, bow his shoulders before mother nature, and plow on.

There’s a whole new generation of men and women in their twenties and thirties who are junking the city life and headed for the fields.  Will they stick with it? What happens to us all if they don’t? In the real world only 1% of the U.S. population farms now.  I think I read somewhere the average age of farmers in America is, like 67, or something. We need a new generation of young farmer heroes more than ever.

Sarina Bowen’s book BITTERSWEET and Adriana Anders book IN HIS HANDS both contain hot men who drive tractors. Here’s more about them–plus some extra goodies.

I found out about Sarina Bowen’s book after Adriana Anders wrote this HEA blog on BEGINNER’S GUIDE  TO DARK GRITTY SEXY READS. “…if you like rugged, hard-bodied farmers (and Lord knows I do), then Bittersweet will be your poison.”

Okay then!  Ya hooked me, Adriana.  I just started the book myself–here’s a blurb:

BITTERSWEET

Farmers make the earth move.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous cider-making lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

Oh, hey: Read the first chapter!

I also found this on Sarina Bowen’s website — a breakdown of all her books by their tropes.  Hilarious–but useful too, if you’re looking for a certain kind of read. (Ooooh look: virgin heroes!)

Click to buy.

Adriana, meanwhile, has quite the farmer-boy hero: he’s burly, beardy, and brooding.  I love a romance that starts off with that kind of desperate feel, and a hero guy who’s doing his own thing and just wants to be left alone. Luc is also French and grows grapes.  So, you know, sexy and sophisticated.  And dirty.  Yum!

I buzzed straight to the part of her website that said:  Need some sexy winemaker hero inspiration to tide you over? Check out Luc’s Pinterest Board here!

So, um, that’s where I’ll be for the next hour. ; >  IN HIS HANDS has gotten a **lot** of good reviews.  You can’t go wrong with the other books in Adriana Anders’ series either — a fav of mine is BY HER TOUCH.  Another super-broody hero–this time, he’s got tattoos, a motorcycle,  a secret, and bad men out to find him.

[BTW, even though it’s a series–cause it’s all taking place in the same area with a few cross-over characters–the books really stand alone,  I swear. So feel free to start with book three or book two if you want.]

IN HIS HANDS

Blank Canvas #3
He is Her Salvation…
Abby Merkley has been a member of the Church of the Apocalyptic Faith since she was a child, and there’s no way out–except death. She will fight the odds to survive, but there’s no one in the world she can trust, nowhere she can run that the cult can’t find her…until her handsome, brooding neighbor takes her into the safety of his arms.

Luc Stanek craves a quiet life. But he doesn’t hesitate when a desperate woman lands, bloodied and branded on his doorstep. Soon he finds himself drawn into her chaotic world, caught in the center of an apocalyptic war…and determined to save the fierce beauty no matter the cost.

Oh. My. God.

Hot beardy goodness and lots o Gerard Butler on Adriana’s Pinterest page. Click to go there.

Out August 1, 2017 

Follow us, dear readers, and we’ll pour the luscious fruits of our blogging labors in your lap every day.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Love and Money: On Paying for Companionship

20 Jun

It’s not always about the Benjamins.

By Alexa Day

Making the rounds in my corner of social media is the story of Heidy Pandora, a 24-year-old who says she is a full-time traveler. After her first trip to Mexico, she discovered she loved seeing different parts of the world. But travel is expensive. In fact, the hefty price tags kept Heidy from exploring the world as much as she wanted to.

Then she found MissTravel.com, a website for travel dating. In other words, Miss Travel connects people interested in journeying to a specific destination. Women can participate on MissTravel for free. Members propose a trip, connect with someone else interested in visiting the chosen locale, and then arrange to travel together or meet up at the destination.

Heidy says up front that she has sex with some but not all of her travel companions, and that some of them are married. She says she prefers the married guys because they’re less likely to become emotionally attached. She’s about getting stamps in her passport, not a ring on her finger.

She’s also serious about not paying to travel with the guys she meets online. MissTravel requires members to upload a photo (something all dating sites should do, in my opinion), and it allows members to state a preference not to pay for trips.

It bears mentioning that site founder Brandon Wade is also the founder and CEO of SeekingArrangement.com. SeekingArrangement, geared toward sugar babies and the folks who support them, touts something called Mutually Beneficial Arrangements. The fact that they’ve trademarked the phrase basically sums up the nature of the site.

The headline for Heidy’s story calls her a sugar baby. I’m not sure that’s a fair characterization. Heidy is meeting up with people who will pay to travel with her, with the possibility of sex along the way. For her, the travel is the point. For the sugar baby, it’s all about the money. Money flows directly to the sugar baby, and so far as I can tell, the sugar baby’s relationship is far more likely to be sexual.

The concept of sex as currency makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but women have been exchanging sex for things of value as long as there have been women and things of value. If we want to be cynical about it (and I do, thanks for asking), we might describe much of the history of marriage as the exchange of sex for things of value. I think it’s just uncomfortable for people to be confronted by it. We might all be happier if the sugar babies and paid travel companions were plying their trade quietly, where we can’t see it, instead of in social media. At the same time, there’s a reason — perhaps an ugly reason — that billionaire romances were doing so well until the events of last winter.

I’d tell you to hop on the Maestra bandwagon, but no way these folks use a bandwagon. Click to buy.

Heidy’s story reminds me of Maestra, a novel Elizabeth Shore recommended not long ago. Heroine Judith Rashleigh enters a world of paid companionship and finds herself very much at home, even when she’s on the run, among wealthy people who sweep her up into their world. Judith just has to know her place and do as she’s told, and off she goes from one exotic locale to the next, gathering cash along the way. But Judith is capable of much more than her comrades know. The inner play of her emotions and her motivations, sometimes quite at odds with her outward appearance, makes for fascinating reading.

(By the way, two of us at Lady Smut have now granted their imprimatur to Maestra. If you grab it now, you’ll be ready for the sequel, Domina, when it comes out next month.)

But what to make of the paid companion and her somewhat seedier sister, the sugar baby? I had a difficult time coming to my usual position, to let a girl do what she wants as long as she’s chosen to do it and isn’t hurting anyone. Heidy’s been to 20 countries in three years. A high percentage of sugar babies are leaving college debt free, a thought that makes this attorney whimper wistfully. And even we call this prostitution, as some sugar babies do, the feminist in me says that if a woman owns her body, she should be free to sell it.

Still, something about this makes me uncomfortable.

For the right woman, clearly, arrangements work.

But how does the wrong woman discover that’s she’s not cut out for the world of pay for play?

Follow Lady Smut. We’ll keep it casual.

Alexa Day is the USA Today bestselling author of erotica and erotic romance with heroines who are anything but innocent. In her fictional worlds, strong, smart women discover excitement, adventure, and exceptional sex. A former bartender, one-time newspaper reporter, and licensed attorney, she likes her stories with just a touch of the inappropriate, and her literary mission is to stimulate the intellect and libido of her readers.

 

“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.

 

 

 

 

All of the Above: Can Romance Play the Field?

6 Jun

What’s wrong with this picture? Not a damned thing.

By Alexa Day

I’m reading a book right now in which the heroine enjoys the abundant sexual charms of three partners. My guess is that she’ll eventually choose one of them — the cover for the next book in the series features two guys instead of three. But right now, she’s making no move to settle down.

The book is Taking Turns by J.A. Huss, and the heroine has an agreement with the three men. There are a number of stipulations, but once I heard that their arrangement basically entailed their putting her up in a nice apartment to take turns sleeping with her, I knew this was a story I needed to have.

It is romance’s most binding promise: the heroine will win, every time.

We can be sure that at the end of the story, she will be in a good place in her relationship, whatever that might look like. Maybe she’s getting ready to settle down with one guy. Maybe she’s establishing a relationship with a couple of guys (or more) in a relationship unit. I don’t object to that. Not really.

But this week, a troubling question tugged at my imagination.

Is the heroine winning big enough?

Put another way, why choose? Whatever happened to D: all of the above?

The modern romance heroine is a smart, successful, attractive woman. In the 21st century, a woman like that could — and honestly, ought to — have her choice of men. Indeed, more than one man would certainly be interested in her. But the modern romance heroine has less reason to settle down than ever. She’s at the top of her game, and she probably knows it. Why should she ever limit herself?

Even if she ultimately decides to choose one partner, why shouldn’t she take full advantage of what men have to offer first?

Chella is LIVING THE DREAM. Click to get some of that good stuff for yourself.

It’s important to note that this is neither menage nor polyamory. Both menage and polyamory involve multiple partners, yes. But in both situations, the men are aware of each other and have consented to share. They’re in a unit. Choosing menage or polyamory is settling down.

I’m talking about playing the field, in all its springtime glory, for as long as men will permit it. I’ve written it before. The heroine of Illicit Impulse has a bestie with benefits and an object of her more chaste desire. And in “Three, After Midnight,” the heroine enjoys a night of bliss with the spirit of her deceased husband, who’s borrowing the body of a hottie she seduced for that purpose.

Where’s the fun in limiting a fabulous heroine to one man, right? Why not let her have as much as she wants for as long as she wants to have it and her partners are willing to supply it?

I think there’s a group of romance readers who want, need and long for a heroine who is desired by many men, and who is determined to enjoy her status for as long as possible. I think romance readers need to know that in our abundant world, their heroine is free to lick as many men as will permit it. Their heroine doesn’t live in a world of masculine scarcity, and neither do they.

Consider Scandal in its golden days. For a long while, Olivia Pope thoroughly enjoyed the attentions of the President of the United States and the enigmatic Jake Ballard. When they had the audacity to suggest she choose one of them, she laughed and said she chose herself instead. She went right on sleeping with the both of them for as long as they permitted it — until Jake decided he wasn’t getting what he needed from the arrangement and bowed out.

And I’m reminded of a formative experience.

Look at those eyes, pleading, “Pick me! Pick me!”

I saw Tequila Sunrise in the theater in 1988, when I was quite young and impressionable. In the film, restaurant owner Michelle Pfeiffer must choose between reformed drug dealer Mel Gibson and police lieutenant Kurt Russell. That might not be a tough call today, knowing what we know, but in 1988, that was not an easy decision to make at all. I’m proud to say that Michelle spent the entire movie trying to make up her mind, and when it was all over, I left wondering how I could become a restaurant owner.

If Tequila Sunrise has a moral, it was to tell this child of the 80s that she could, in fact, have it all.

There should probably be limitations. The requirement that each men know about the others is not just about informed consent; I think it actually keeps everyone at their sharpest and most competitive. And of course, everyone would be free to stop playing as soon as things stopped working for them. Even in “Three, After Midnight,” the wrestling coach who found himself possessed by an eager spirit exercised his option to back out.

But with that in mind, why shouldn’t a heroine explore as many men — and as many relationships — as she wants?

Is there room in romance for a heroine to find more than one happily ever after, with more than one man, in more than one relationship?

Is it time for D: all of the above?

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Alexa Day is the USA Today bestselling author of erotica and erotic romance with heroines who are anything but innocent. In her fictional worlds, strong, smart women discover excitement, adventure, and exceptional sex. A former bartender, one-time newspaper reporter, and licensed attorney, she likes her stories with just a touch of the inappropriate, and her literary mission is to stimulate the intellect and libido of her readers.

 

Red As Blood: Women & Gothic Romance

1 Jun

Lovely readers — I attended a panel at #WisCon that made me cry out with perverse desire.  It was called Red As Blood — a panel on women and the Gothic genre.  Loosely organized, it revolved around the interesting desires and situations that comprise Gothic joy and perversity.

“A young woman meets an interesting, mysterious man in a giant, lonely house.  It turns out he may have bad intentions.  Sometimes she wants him to have bad intentions.”–Emily Cataneo.

What I liked about this panel was that everyone on the panel–authors and fans alike, really obsessed over what I obsessed over, and had exactly the same attitudes that I had. Everyone on the panel was raving over Crimson Peak–especially Tom Hiddleston, especially the house and clothes — AND

Spoiler Alert!

…especially the end where two women fight it out with knives in bloody nightgowns.

Everyone didn’t care if there was no logical reasoning behind certain events in their favorite Gothic novels or movies.  Our love of Gothic is not about reason.

Then what is it about? It’s about a feeling of creeping doom, of impending horror.  But no ACTUAL horror, mind you.  If horror is that moment of curdling screams and blood splatter on the wall, then the gothic genre is about hearing that scream from a far distance and discovering the blood splatter on the wall by prying open a secret passage.  (Preferably 5 to 20 years after it got there.)

The gothic genre is about secrets.  About dread.  About creeping horror — yes! But it’s a psychological horror.

Notorious is supremely logical–but the sense of oppression is still intense.

Now let’s talk romance in these novels.  For my joys I hit the Goodreads best Gothic romances page. There you will find not only the old classic authors like Anne Radcliffe and Victoria Holt but also Gay Gothic Romances, and Gothic romances with witches!!!!

Now, when we turn to Gothic film, the problem is that they are often horror films and take things just a leeeetle too far for my taste. Sigh.  Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about gothic romantic films:

The Gothic romance film is a Gothic film with feminine appeal. Diane Waldman wrote in Cinema Journal that Gothic films in general “permitted the articulation of feminine fear, anger, and distrust of the patriarchal order” and that such films during World War II and afterward “place an unusual emphasis on the affirmation of feminine perception, interpretation, and lived experience”. Between 1940 and 1948, the Gothic romance film was prevalent in Hollywood, being produced by well-known directors and actors. The best-known films of the era were Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), and Gaslight (1944). Less well-known films were Undercurrent (1946) and Sleep, My Love (1948). Waldman describes these films’ Gothic rubric: “A young inexperienced woman meets a handsome older man to whom she is alternately attracted and repelled.”[1] Other films from the decade include The Enchanted Cottage (1945) and The Heiress (1949).[2]

The Gothic romance films from the 1940s often contain the “Bluebeard motif”, meaning that in the typical setting of the house, a certain part is either forbidden to be used or even closed off entirely.[3] In the films, the forbidden room is a metaphor for the heroine’s repressed experience, and opening the room is a cathartic moment in the film.[4] In addition, the layout of the house in such films (as well as Gothic novels) creates “spatial disorientation [that] causes fear and an uncanny restlessness”.[5]

In 2015, director Guillermo del Toro released the Gothic romance film Crimson Peak. He said past films had been “brilliantly written by women and then rendered into films by male directors who reduce the potency of the female characters”. For Crimson Peak, he sought to reverse this cinematic trope.[6]

And did he EVER! If you adored Crimson Peak then here are some treats for you.  Here’s my fun review of Crimson Peak for one, along with some other movie recommendations below.  First of all, I highly recommend Suspicion–a Cinderella story in which we and the heroine are gradually brought to realize that a) she’s no Cinderella and b) this is not a happily ever after.

But if you want to get your gothic horror movie on–here’s a list from Indiewire to check out.  Some of them are fabulous.  Rosemary’s Baby is excellent.  Picnic at Hanging Rock is really mysterious. It’s like the missing girls floated off into some alternative realm after enough feminine corset squeezing and hair braiding to last a lifetime.  Gaslight is excellent.  As I mentioned above, Suspicion is one of my all time favorites.  The Shining is fabulous — but something I’d put on while doing another task so I could walk away as needed…(I’d put the premise of The Shining this way: What’s the scariest monster of the 70’s? The absent dad figure suddenly returned to be a ‘part of the family’.  Shiver. Ugggggggh!) Les Diaboliques was good, Notorius is sublime.  This list also made me want to see The Haunted with Kate Beckinsale as well as The Tomb of Ligeia…

THE GOTHIC ANTI-HERO OF ALL TIME? It’s gotta be Micheal Fassbender.  As I’ve commented before, Fassy seems to be all alone in his films.  That alone-ness is exactly what we want in a gothic anything. In the latest-greatest remake of Jane Eyre, he is utterly riveting.  At once flesh and blood with his long mutton chop whiskers, he seems like a Victorian that doesn’t wash everyday, that sweats, that chews his food. There is something very real and authentic about him–especially when it comes to his presence around women. Nevertheless, for all that he still seems like a very quietly haunted man who will NEVER be happy.  What I realized watching his performance is that Jane Eyre is a tale of warning: don’t fall for the man you work for.  Don’t let him seduce you.  Don’t succumb to the temptations he leads you towards breadcrumb of attention by breadcrumb of attention.  He has bad intentions and nothing good for you will result.  Fassy’s breathtaking performance is a seduction: rather slow and tender, but also deliberate enough to make one realize how wrong it all is.  His inscrutable mind is clicking behind the command of his words, looks, and touches the entire time.

Tom Hiddleston is an incredibly close second for my all time fav goth anti-hero.  His charismatic flavor however, connotes the possibility of a happier ending. If Fassy is the haunted man in his giant spooky house at the beginning of the movie, then Hiddles represents that peek of sunshine, that thin slice of spring — expressed only by a few blades of grass and one lone daffodil at the end of the movie.  There is something a little softer and more pliant about Hiddles the lover. He represents hope and escape from psychological hell into some sunnier, more mild and quietly happy place.  Tom seems like a man who needs an other to pair with him.  While Fassy, a more coporeal lover in the moment of temptation, perhaps–seems to stand alone in his blank emptiness to the bitter end.

I see Tom as more of an HEA guy–even if the HEA is with his sister.

What do you think, readers? Sound out below in the comments section — and I’m all ears for good contemporary gothic romance reading rec’s.

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.
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