A Personal History of Best Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Erotica 20th Anniversary Edition is out now, and I’m part of the blog tour editor Sacchi Green has organized on it’s behalf. The story of mine that is in this collection, Luscious & Wild, is here on Sugarbutch already, so I thought I’d take you back into the Best Lesbian Erotica series in celebration of it’s 20th.

Personally, I started collecting them in 2001. I fancied myself a lover of smut and a sex-focused person, but frowned at my itty bitty erotica collection at home. So I started frequenting the lesbian erotica section of my favorite used book store, Twice Sold Tales, on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, which was an equally itty bitty shelf near the floor. The ‘Gay and Lesbian’ section towered in the shelves above it, but I was looking for the bottom-shelf stuff. The dirty stuff. I bought every edition I could find, eventually filling in my collection by ordering the few volumes I was missing online, and still order the newest edition the minute it comes out.

The series now spans 20 volumes with as many different guest editors. It can be hard to pick just which ones to read, or where to start. So, here are three of my favorites.

Best Lesbian Erotica 1998

ble98The first one that got me really hooked was Best Lesbian Erotica 1998. The story by Karlyn Lotney (also known as Fairy Butch, if you remember On Our Backs and other late 90s sex/dyke activism) called “Clash of the Titans” remains one of my favorite erotica pieces ever, and blasted open what I thought erotica could be or do. For example, it could be complex emotionally, it could contain activism and politics, it could show switching, it could show vulnerability. Not that I didn’t know that, exactly, I just didn’t … realize it until I read this story, and this whole book. (I wrote about it in this week’s new View From The Top column, titled The First Time I Knew I Was A Top.)

She cut a swath through my flat like Moses parting the Red Sea, and made me feel like a man: all big and dumb and panting. I felt my internal butch cock harden and start its invisible levitation, and the part of my brain that concerns itself with floral arrangements, oranges, and perfect living rooms fell away. Another part took over, the part that found its genesis in my father’s collection of late sixties’ issues of Playboy, benches two-ten, and answers to “Daddy.”
—”Clash of the Titans” by Karlyn Lotney, from Best Lesbian Erotica 1998

The other piece that made me speechless (and come) was “Ridin’ Bitch” by Toni Amato. That story—that includes a hard femme who jacks off a butch’s strap-on shamelessly while they ride from the bar to the butch’s apartment on a motorcycle—was part of what completely convinced me that I loved strap-on sex.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2006

ble06Best Lesbian Erotica 2006 included the first erotica short story I ever published. I have read that edition over and over, mostly because my story is in it, and it thrilled me to no end to see my name in print. (It’s under my legal name, by the way, not under Sinclair.) 2006 was the year I started Sugarbutch as well, but that actually came after this publication was accepted, and I thought Sugarbutch would be a little private side-project, not become my next big thing.

BLE ’06 also includes a beautiful story by Peggy Munson, and one of my absolute favorites by S. Bear Bergman, called ‘Silver Dollar Afternoon.’

I fall in love with her when anyone asks her why she doesn’t wear her beautiful long hair all the way down and she says, with just a hint of coolness: “A woman’s hair is for her husband,” which makes me remember every time she has unpinned her hair for my delighted eyes and even if I’m not quite a husband I still shiver in my blue jeans without fail.
—Silver Dollar Afternoon by S. Bear Bergman, Best Lesbian Erotica 2006

Best Lesbian Erotica 2012

ble12The 2012 edition is probably my favorite, but that’s because I’m the guest editor and so I got to pick all of the stories. I actually went back to Kathleen Warnock, the series editor then, to request more stories after I read all the picks she’d sent me and I didn’t have as many as we needed. They just weren’t dirty enough—she’d picked me really good stories, with characters and plots and development and such, but I want that AND a really excellent, dirty, kinky sex scene. It is largely butch/femme heavy, but I tried to get a good mix of other character types and pairings in there, too.

The introduction that I wrote for Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 is about why lesbian erotica is valuable activism, and it’s here on Sugarbutch if you’d like to dive into my thoughts on that more.

These books of lesbian erotica are not fluff. They are not nothing. They are not frivolous or useless. For queers coming out and into our own, they are a path.” —From Why Lesbian Erotica is Valuable Activism

And now: Best Lesbian Erotica 20th Anniversary Edition

BLEOfTheYear_approvedSince Tristan Taormino left, the series has gone through a few different editor’s hands, and I’m excited that Sacchi is responsible for this one. She’s edited many of my favorite lesbian erotica anthologies.

Thanks to Cleis Press for keeping this series going all these years!

I highly recommend picking up a copy of Best Lesbian Erotica 20th Anniversary Edition at your local queer, feminist, women-centric, activist-oriented bookstore, or, only if you must, from Amazon.

Here’s the rest of the blog tour, which features the different authors in the book and our story titles. Click around & follow along!

Feb 10, Sacchi Green, Introduction
Feb 11, Rose de Fer, “Dust”
Feb 12, Louise Blaydon, “Ascension”
Feb 13, Megan McFerren, “The Royalty Underground”
Feb 14, Harper Bliss, “Reunion Tour”
Feb 15, D.L. King, “Hot Blood”
Feb 16, Jean Roberta, “Tears from Heaven”
Feb 17, Sinclair Sexsmith, “Luscious and Wild”
Feb 18, R.G. Emanuelle, “Smorgasbord”
Feb 19, Rose P. Lethe, “A Professional”
Feb 20, Anna Watson, “Easy”
Feb 21, Valerie Alexander, “Grind House”
Feb 22, Annabeth Leong, “Give and Take”
Feb 23, Frankie Grayson, “Mirror Mirror”
Feb 24, Cheyenne Blue, “The Road to Hell”
Feb 25, Emily L. Byrne, “The Further Adventures of Miss Scarlet”
Feb 26, Sossity Chiricuzio, “Make them Shine”
Feb 27, Teresa Noelle Roberts, “Tomato Bondage”

PS: Comment on any of these posts for a chance to win a free copy of Best Lesbian Erotica 20th Anniversary Edition. The drawing will be held by February 28th and the winner announced by March 5th.

Gender, Poetry, and Smut: Current Recommended Reads

I have stacks of books on my lists to tell y’all about, and so many other things to write to you about that I often don’t update you with what I’m reading. But, I know some of y’all are book nerds, so here ya go. Some beginnings of my attempt to get through this backlog.

And hey, who knows, maybe it’ll be a perfect last-minute dark-time-of-the-year holiday gift for somebody.

bk-butch bk-troubling bk-excluded

Butch Geography by Stacey Waite (Tupelo Press). A poetry collection … I read the review over on Lambda Literary and ran out to snag my own copy. It really is as beautiful as the review says. Waite writes with precise language and beautiful turns of phrase and enjambment about gender, navigating the world as a masculine of center person, and love. If you’re into gender and butch things and poetic words, this is for you.

Troubling the Line: Trans & Genderqueer Poetics TC Tolbert & Tim Trace Peterson (Nightboat Press). This anthology includes a wide range of poets, some examples of their work, and some statements (“poetics”) of their purpose and intentions behind their poetry. I find those essays in particular so compelling. The whole thing strikes me as very academic, so there is a lot of theory and big, fancy words that I feel like I could squint and strain to understand but I just kind of don’t bother (unless, you know, I really want to), but even so, I love reading the words and seeing two of my favorite genres—genderqueer theory and poetry—come together. Fascinating—and, as far as I know, the only book of its kind.

Poets include Samuel Ace, Julian Talamantez Brolaski, Micha Cardenas, kari edwards, Duriel Harris, Joy Ladin, Dawn Lundy Martin, Eileen Myles, Trish Salah, Max Wolf Valerio, John Wieners, Kit Yan, and more.

Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive By Julia Serano (Seal Press). I’ve said for years that I consider Serano’s first book, Whipping Girl, required reading, and this, her sophomore publication, is likewise just as essential. Feminist and queer movements can be so exclusive, can reproduce all sorts of misogyny, racism, transphobia, transmisogyny, classism, and dozens more -isms—I have experienced and witnessed so much of that first-hand, and it frustrates me, as someone who is deeply committed to feminist and queer movements. And yet … sometimes I have no idea what to do about it. Serano puts forth all kinds of theories and concepts that I really like—the first one that comes to mind is explaining feminism through the concept of double standards. Keep up with Serano through her blog, where she’s got information about book signings and readings, and where she’s been posting excerpts and definitions of terms she coined or is using extensively in this book. It’ll give you a good sense of the tone and concepts included in Excluded (see what I did there? Ha ha!).

bk-bbe14 ble14

Best Bondage Erotica 2014 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel (Cleis Press). Oh! It looks like this is technically released January 1st, though I did just see that Rachel received her box of copies to send out to Amazon reviewers (get in touch with her and get a copy of the book in exchange for writing it up on Amazon!). I’m not sure what the last Best Bondage Erotica collection was that I read … maybe I haven’t read any of them? I’ll be honest, I’m not very into bondage—but that’s partly why I absolutely loved Laura Antoniou’s introduction to this book, which basically said, “Uh, I’m not that into bondage.” Hah! Cracked me up, and also, I identify with that. “I’m much more into power,” Antoniou writes. Yeah, me too. And yet … and yet. She goes on to explain the value of these stories, and I admit they kept me turning pages. I particularly loved Kathleen Delaney-Adams story “Tart Cherry,” but that’s because I am a sucker for a kinky femme bottom who knows what she wants. Still, it’s beautifully written and sweet and dirty, and it stood out.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2014, edited by Kathleen Warnock (Cleis Press). There was a bit of news about this year’s BLE collection, and while I have a lot of questions and confusion and thoughts from that article, I don’t really need to go into that here. I mean, I am kind of the lesbian erotica cheerleader (despite having complicated relationships with both the words “lesbian” and “erotica”). But still, I come back to BLE year after year, I submit my stories, and I always, always look forward to reading it. This year, the story I submitted is the kick-off piece, the first one in the book (thrilling!), and I was lucky enough to be part of the release party here in San Francisco and hear almost ten of the stories read aloud. I think this year’s is a good collection, well-written and well collected, though there aren’t very many stories in here that I’ll be going back to for jerk-off material, mostly because they aren’t Daddy/girl or heavy BDSM based (which tends to be what I seek out these days—I know, SHOCKER). Still, Cheryl Dunye & Sarah Schulman’s script for the full length campy porn Mommy is Coming is included, and that’s fascinating.

Actually, speaking of Mommy is Coming, here’s the trailer:

Um yeah. Definitely recommend that one.

Aaaand that concludes this current book round-up! What have you been reading lately? Anything good to recommend?

Why Lesbian Erotica is Valuable Activism

ble14I’m reading some erotica—along with Jen Cross, Carol Queen, Amy Butcher, Xan West, M’kali-Hashiki, Cheryl Dunye, BD Swain, & Jiz Lee—to celebrate the release of Best Lesbian Erotica 2014 this Thursday night. (Details here and here and here.) I’m so excited to have helped curate an amazing lineup, and I am now sacrificing all the luck I have to get a good audience to show up. If you’re in the area, come!

I’ve been thinking about “lesbian erotica” lately, how edgy it is, how valuable it is. There’s a bit of controversy around this particular publication of Best Lesbian Erotica, and while I have a lot of thoughts about that article, I still have a lot of my own feelings about how important lesbian erotica is, and how it helps on the process of building one’s some people’s identities. (“One” here meaning someone FAAB who tends to prefer to sleep with other FAAB people, at least at some point in their life.) [ UPDATE: Katherine commented, “So, why don’t you feel that lesbian erotica is important to building the identity of trans-feminine spectrum lesbians?” And of course that’s a valid point. I’m sorry to have excluded trans women from that statement, and that was an oversight on my part. I was trying to be specific, and ended up being TOO specific. It doesn’t really matter who “one” is in that sentence above, all that matters is that some people use lesbian erotica to develop their own identities, and that’s my point. It is valid for all kinds of genders and orientations, and I never meant to leave anyone out. I’ll try not to write so hastily in the future, and be more careful. See my comment for a bit more of my thoughts. ]

I realized I wrote about my own experience with it, and why I think queer smut (“lesbian erotica”) is valuable activism, in my introduction to the 2012 Best Lesbian Erotica anthology, so I figured I’d share it with you here.

See you Thursday night, right?

Introduction to Best Lesbian Erotica 2012

I know what I want.

I knew exactly what I was looking for when I read the submitted stories for this anthology: dirty, smutty, smart about gender, smart about power, packed full of sex with the bare necessary descriptions of setting and context, and, oh yeah, good writing. It doesn’t have to be dirty in my personal favorite ways—with sultry accoutrements and costuming like stockings and strappy sandals, or with strap-ons and lots of fucking, or with blow jobs and dirty talk. I like stories where the characters are so turned on and lusty that I feel it too, even if it is not my particular kink or pleasure. I like stories with unique descriptions and rolling prose and insatiable narrators and rising and falling action. I like stories where I want to recreate the action for myself, when I am inspired by the delicious positions and settings and words.

Yes, and the words, let’s not forget the words. That’s what these kinds of books are all about, really. If you wanted a quick, easy turn on, you could load up any of dozens of queer porn sites—there is no shortage of real, good queer porn out there these days. But for some of us that is too crass, and a well-done turn of phrase gets us swooning and biting our lips and rubbing our thighs together even more than a dirty video.

I didn’t always know what I wanted. When I was coming out in the late 1990s, though there was a serious lack of queer porn in the video stores, there were plenty of people paving the landscape for what would become the blossoming queer porn of the 2000s. Diana Cage, On Our Backs magazine, Good Vibrations, (Toys in) Babeland, Annie Sprinkle, Susie Bright—and, of course, Tristan Taormino. It was Tristan’s 1998 Best Lesbian Erotica anthology that for me clicked something into place, something I could no longer pretend wasn’t there. I would hide the book in the back of the shelves at the bookstore where I worked so it wouldn’t get purchased, and I’d sandwich it between two others and sneak it into the stock room to read when it was slow. I wore creases into the spine with Toni Amato’s story “Ridin’ Bitch” and Karlyn Lotney’s story “Clash of the Titans.” I was genuinely confused as to why I liked these stories so much. What was this affect they had on me? Why did I love them so much? What did it all mean?

I began to find other books, short stories, and essays that helped move my budding baby dykery along: Nothing But the Girl—oh, swoon. That essay by Anastasia Higgenbotham in Listen Up: Voices From the Next Feminist Generation. Cunt by Inga Muscio. Breathless by Kitty Tsui. And the Herotica series, which was erotica for women before Rachel Kramer Bussel’s prolific erotica editing career.

I bought one of the Herotica books at a little indy bookstore—now gone—on Capitol Hill in Seattle when I visited one summer, before moving there. But it proved to be too threatening to my boyfriend who, enraged some night after yet another argument about my sexuality, stabbed that book and two other lesbian erotica books with the wide-handled screwdriver which I’d used to masturbate since I was a teenager.

These books are filled with three powerful things: 1. women, who are 2. empowered, 3. about their sexuality (which, by the way, does not involve men). Even the books themselves are threatening.

These books of lesbian erotica are not fluff. They are not nothing. They are not frivolous or useless.

For queers coming out and into our own, they are a path.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve managed to snag myself a lesbian bed death relationship, going out of my mind with desire and disconnection. I stopped writing, because the only thing that I was writing was how miserable I felt, how much I wanted out of that relationship—a reality I wasn’t ready to face. I decided that to work off my sexual energy, I would either go to the gym or I would write erotica. Well, I ended up writing a lot of erotica, rediscovering this tool of self-awareness and self-creation that had led me to smut in the first place, and I began writing myself back into my own life, back into the things that I hold most important: connection, touch, release, holding, witness, play.

My first published smut story was in Best Lesbian Erotica 2006. Between the time I wrote it and the time the book came out, I was beginning to end the bed death relationship, in no small part because I’d reminded myself of the value of the erotic, of my own inner erotic world, of erotic words. Between the time I wrote it and the time it came out, I started Sugarbutch Chronicles, which has carried me through these last five plus years, often being my sanctuary, support circle, best friend, and confidant.

Writing these stories, for me, has not been frivolous. They have not been nothing. They are not fluff or useless.

For me, they were a path back to myself when I got lost.

When I was lost, I had no idea what I wanted, aside from the basic daily survivals: work. Eat. Pay bills. Sleep. Shower. But when I wrote, when I connected with my own desire, I felt a little piece of me bloom and become in a bigger way. I felt more like myself.

I turned again to the great books of smut to help me find myself, to help me find a way back to a partner, a lover, a one night stand—hell, even an hour with a Hitachi was sometimes enough. The Leather Daddy and the Femme. Mr. Benson. Switch Hitters: Gay Men Write Lesbian Erotica and Lesbians Write Gay Male Erotica. Back to Basics: Butch/Femme Erotica. Doing It For Daddy. And Best Lesbian Erotica, always Best Lesbian Erotica. I still eagerly buy it every year to see what the guest editor’s tastes are, to see what the new trends are, to read the emerging new writers, to get my rocks off.

I rediscovered what I wanted through reading smut and writing it. Through carving myself a path in connection with a lineage of sex positive dykes and sex radicals and queer kinksters and feminist perverts.

After six years of writing and publishing erotica, I am thrilled to be a guest editor for the series which sparked me into queerness in 1998, thrilled to be choosing stories for the same series that published my very first piece, “The Plow Pose,” in 2006, which helped spark me back to myself. It is so exciting to be contributing to this queer smut hotbed that Cleis Press has helped nurture all these years, and I’m so glad to continue to be part of it in new ways.

I know what I want, now. And lesbian erotica, or as I prefer to call it, queer smut, has helped me not only visualize what is possible, but create a path toward getting what I want.

The stories in tis book reflect my taste, my favorites, my personal hot spots, certainly, but also the best-written stories from a large pile of well-written stories by some of my favorite authors, like Kiki DeLovely and Xan West and Rachel Kramer Bussel. There are some less-well known writers in here whose work you may not be familiar with, yet, but who will leave an impression on you, writers like Anne Grip and Amy Butcher. I found dozens of moments of signposts, signals directing me toward myself, words illuminating my own meridians of ache. With each story, with each act of lust, with each dirty command or submissive plea, I rediscovered my own want.

I hope you find some of what you want within these pages, too.

You can still pick up print copies of Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 via your local queer feminist independent bookstore, or, if you must, through Amazon.

And: Come see me & Jen Cross, Carol Queen, Amy Butcher, Xan West, M’kali-Hashiki, Cheryl Dunye, BD Swain, & Jiz Lee read smut from Best Lesbian Erotica 2014 this Thursday night, 12/12, in San Francisco at the Center for Sex & Culture. $20 at the door includes a copy of the book! Details here.

This Week! Best Lesbian Erotica & the Lesbian Sex Mafia in New York City

I’ll be reading some erotica on Thursday night in the East Village with the Best! Lesbian! Erotica! reading at Drunken! Careening! Writers! that BLE series editor Kathleen Warnock runs.

And! Also! I’m still on the board of the Lesbian Sex Mafia, and Lee Harrington is teaching an amazing D/s class on Friday night at the GBLT Center. I’ll be running the workshop that night, doing the announcements and getting everyone settled to pay attention to Lee’s brilliance, and taking a lot of notes about D/s. I’ve been thinking a LOT about D/s lately, about protocols and rituals and rules and punishments … still thinking about ways to write about all the things I’ve been learning.

Meanwhile, here’s the details on the events in New York City Thursday and Friday.

Best Lesbian Erotica @ Drunken! Careening! Writers!

KGB Bar
85 E. 4th St.
NYC
7pm FREE

Rebecca Lynne Fullan
Sid March
…and special surprise guests!
with your hostess, Kathleen Warnock
copies of BLE ’13 will be available for sale

Our “special surprise guests” will be Sinclair Sexsmith and Lea DeLaria (eds of the last 2 editions), and they will be reading from their work!

Rebecca Lynne Fullan is a writer of various stripes, most of them human. She lives, writes, reads, and learns in New York City. This story is for her girlfriend, Charlotte, and written with special gratitude to the BMVCOE, who know about magic. Come visit her here: rebeccalynnefullan.wordpress.com.

Sid March is the disastrously queer daughter of Neptune, a gifted escape artist, and an excellent party planner. A nomadic being with half a dozen hometowns, Sid writes obsessively when no one is watching as a way to tame her insatiable Wanderlust.

Best Lesbian Erotica is published by Cleis Press, the largest independent queer publishing company in the United States. Kathleen Warnock is the series editor, and Jewelle Gomez selected and introduced this year’s collection.

Drunken! Careening! Writers! is a reading series based on the proposition that all readings should be by: 1) Good Writers; 2) Who read their work well; 3) Something in it makes people laugh (nervous laughter counts). And 15 minutes tops.

Lesbian Sex Mafia presents Beyond Bowed Heads: Rituals for Dominance and Submission with Lee Harrington

lesbiansexmafia.org

Rituals are a key part of any D/s relationship, whether we acknowledge them or not. From casual kisses as the door to formal slave poses, ritual objects such as collars to slave contracts, the BDSM world is rife with concepts of ritual- but what is a ritual? What are the levels of ritualistic interaction we have between one another? Let’s look at rituals for day to day life (including how to get out of work or parent space), sacred time, intense connection, erotic play, solidifying relationships, changes within our relationships, and the taboo subject of the devastating loss of a relationship or its natural end. From terminology to developing your own code of ethical interaction, this class covers a bevy of styles and types of interpersonal reactions.

Where: The LGBT Center, 208 West 13th St. (7th/8th Ave), New York, NY
Date/Time: Friday December 21, 2012, 8:00-10:00 PM. Our annual workshop at which all genders are welcome.
Cost: LSM Members: $5/Non Members: $10

About Lee Harrington

Lee Harrington is an internationally known spiritual and erotic educator, gender explorer, eclectic artist and award-winning author and editor on human sexuality and sacred experience. He is a nice guy with a disarmingly down to earth approach to the fact that we are each beautifully complex ecosystems, and we deserve to examine the human experience from that lens. He’s been traveling the globe (from Seattle to Sydney, Berlin to Boston), teaching and talking about sexuality, psychology, faith, desire and more, and has no intention to stop any time soon. He has been an academic and an adult film performer, a world class sexual adventurer, an outspoken philosopher, is a kink/bondage expert, and has been blogging about sex and spirituality since 1998.

His books include “Playing Well With Others: Your Guide to Discovering, Exploring and Negotiating the Kink, Leather and BDSM Communities” (with Mollena Williams), “Sacred Kink: The Eightfold Paths of BDSM and Beyond,” “Shibari You Can Use: Japanese Rope Bondage and Erotic Macramé,” the “Toybag Guide to Age Play,” and “Shed Skins: Journeying in Self-Portraits.” He has also worked as an anthology editor on such projects as “Rope, Bondage, and Power” and “Spirit of Desire: Personal Explorations of Sacred Kink,” while contributing actively to other anthologies, magazines, blogs and collaborations internationally. Check out the trouble Lee has been getting into, as well as his regular podcast, tour schedule, free essays, videos and more over at www.PassionAndSoul.com.

Oh Hi! I’m Reading in NYC This Week

Hello Internet! I’m still here. I posted very little in January because I spent most of that month working on the Celebrating the Body Erotic for women workshop which happened this last week in New York City. It was beautiful and moving and intense and heart-wrenching and I might’ve seen a vision while we were doing one of the breathing exercises and it went incredibly well and I’m glad it’s over. It was very time consuming.

And now I’m gearing up for basically a full month of travel. It’ll probably mean I’m posting less this month, too. In fact, I’ve been so busy that I can’t even seem to finish the February calendar to post here! I have a lot of gigs this month—Columbia University in NYC, American in DC, Smith College in Northampton, the Center for Sex Positive Culture in Seattle—and I’m looking forward to them. I’ve been home since early December and I’m starting to get stir-crazy. I like that this little life I’ve been working on takes me other places. I love New York City (is that the first time I’ve said that? Possibly) but I can’t be here all the time. I start to feel so disconnected from the planet.

But I’m still kind of recovering from the workshop. All that energy work takes it out of me. Today, all I’d like to do is eat some dahl with spicy pickled mangoes and watch documentaries on the couch. I’ve given myself the last two days off, basically, to recover, and today it’s Back To Work time.

This week, before I go off to my travels, I’m doing two big readings in New York City. I haven’t really read poetry since Sideshow ended, and while I don’t have a ton of new poems to share, I am digging through my pieces and excited to get up and practice opening my heart on stage for a while. I love the Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 book so I’m looking forward to hearing more of those pieces out loud, and listening to some of the boys from Best Gay Erotica 2012 too. Plus, there will be a singles mixer! Come find a Valentine’s date.

I can’t seem to decide what to read tonight at the Queer Apple/Inspired Word event … I still have a few hours, so I’m gathering up the options. Looking over the poetry I’ve published here, there is certainly not too much that is recent. But I don’t mind dusting off some old pieces. Probably I’ll read the Butch Poem. Probably I’ll read The Right One. I’m not sure what else. Any requests?

Queer Apple: NYC GLBT Life in Poetry & Prose + Open Mic

The Inspired Word performance series is excited to present a new event that will become a regular part of our calendar, Queer Apple: NYC GLBT Life in Poetry & Prose, featuring some of this city’s best GLBT writers/performers – Sinclair Sexsmith, Christa Orth, Ocean Vuong, Samantha Barrow, Kestryl Cael Lowery, Kelli Dunham, Brandon Lacy Campos, and Jessica Halem. In addition, there will be a 12-slot open mic (4 minutes each slot) to bring your own GLBT experience to the party. Must be GLBT themed. A night of transcendence of words through narrative, poetry, and humor, hosted by Aimee Herman.

When: Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012
Where: 116 (formerly The Gaslight Cafe)
116 MacDougal Street
(between Bleecker Street and Minetta Lane)
Downstairs Lounge
Manhattan, NY 10012
(212) 254-9996
(917) 703-1512
By subway, take the A, B, C, D, E, F to West 4th Street-Washington Square.

Doors open for sign-up @ 6:30pm
Show starts @ 7pm
Cover Charge: $10
RSVP on Facebook

Find a Valentine at the Best Erotica Reading

Need a valentine? Wear a heart if you’re single! Come hear some hot smut! Readers include: D.L. King, Ali Oh, Julia Noel Goldman, Anne Grip, James Earl Hardy and Greg Norris! More to come (so to speak).

7pm at Bluestockings Bookstore, Café, & Activist Center
172 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002
Lower East Side
RSVP on Facebook

In Best Lesbian Erotica 2012, women are looking for a little bit of everything: love, lust, and that special someone who brings both to bed. Lammy-nominated editor Kathleen Warnock and this year’s guest judge, acclaimed sex blogger Sinclair Sexsmith, have curated a collection that is waiting to lay bare your deepest desires. Best Gay Erotica 2012 captures the tension and raw energy of man-on-man desire in this collection of the hottest, freshest and most literary erotic fiction of the year. Editor Richard Labonté (and guest judge Larry Duplechan) share their tricks of the trade in this outstanding volume of craftsmanship and cockmanship.

Based in New York City, KATHLEEN WARNOCK is a playwright and editor whose work has appeared in several editions of Best Lesbian Erotica.

SINCLAIR SEXSMITH (mrsexsmith.com) runs the award-winning project Sugarbutch Chronicles at sugarbutch.net. Her work appears in Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme and Take Me There: Transgender and Genderqueer Erotica, among others. She is the editor of Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 and Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 is Here! My Introduction & the NYC Release Party

BLE is here! Kristen’s copy from Amazon arrived last week and we had a toast, read the first and last story out loud, and of course found a few typos. (Can’t have everything!)

As usual, series editor and reading series host Kathleen Warnock is hosting the New York City release party on December 15th at her Drunken! Careening! Writers! series at KGB Bar in the East Village. (When I have the Facebook invite and such I’ll let you know.)

Meanwhile, though, here’s my introduction to this year’s Best Lesbian Erotica. I’m really pleased with how it turned out, there are a lot of great (dirty!) stories included by many of my favorite writers. Pick it up if you get a chance. I really hope you like it, and I’d love to hear what you think after you get a chance to read it.

Introduction
Sinclair Sexsmith

I know what I want.

I knew exactly what I was looking for when I read the submitted stories for this anthology: dirty, smutty, smart about gender, smart about power, packed full of sex with the bare necessary descriptions of setting and context, and, oh yeah, good writing. It doesn’t have to be dirty in my personal favorite ways—with sultry accoutrements and costuming like stockings and strappy sandals, or with strap-ons and lots of fucking, or with blow jobs and dirty talk. I like stories where the characters are so turned on and lusty that I feel it too, even if it is not my particular kink or pleasure. I like stories with unique descriptions and rolling prose and insatiable narrators and rising and falling action. I like stories where I want to recreate the action for myself, when I am inspired by the delicious positions and settings and words.

Yes, and the words, let’s not forget the words. That’s what these kinds of books are all about, really. If you wanted a quick, easy turn on, you could load up any of dozens of queer porn sites—there is no shortage of real, good queer porn out there these days. But for some of us that is too crass, and a well-done turn of phrase gets us swooning and biting our lips and rubbing our thighs together even more than a dirty video.

I didn’t always know what I wanted. When I was coming out in the late 1990s, though there was a serious lack of queer porn in the video stores, there were plenty of people paving the landscape for what would become the blossoming queer porn of the 2000s. Diana Cage, On Our Backs magazine, Good Vibrations, (Toys in) Babeland, Annie Sprinkle, Susie Bright—and, of course, Tristan Taormino. It was Tristan’s 1998 Best Lesbian Erotica anthology that for me clicked something into place, something I could no longer pretend wasn’t there. I would hide the book in the back of the shelves at the bookstore where I worked so it wouldn’t get purchased, and I’d sandwich it between two others and sneak it into the stock room to read when it was slow. I wore creases into the spine with Toni Amato’s story “Ridin’ Bitch” and Karlyn Lotney’s story “Clash of the Titans.” I was genuinely confused as to why I liked these stories so much. What was this affect they had on me? Why did I love them so much? What did it all mean?

I began to find other books, short stories, and essays that helped move my budding baby dykery along: Nothing But the Girl—oh, swoon. That essay by Anastasia Higgenbotham in Listen Up: Voices From the Next Feminist Generation. Cunt by Inga Muscio. Breathless by Kitty Tsui. And the Herotica series, which was erotica for women before Rachel Kramer Bussel’s prolific erotica editing career.

I bought one of the Herotica books at a little indy bookstore—now gone—on Capitol Hill in Seattle when I visited one summer, before moving there. But it proved to be too threatening to my boyfriend who, enraged some night after yet another argument about my sexuality, stabbed that book and two other lesbian erotica books with the wide-handled screwdriver which I’d used to masturbate since I was a teenager.

These books are filled with three powerful things: 1. women, who are 2. empowered, 3. about their sexuality (which, by the way, does not involve men). Even the books themselves are threatening.

These books of lesbian erotica are not fluff. They are not nothing. They are not frivolous or useless.

For queers coming out and into our own, they are a path.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve managed to snag myself a lesbian bed death relationship, going out of my mind with desire and disconnection. I stopped writing, because the only thing that I was writing was how miserable I felt, how much I wanted out of that relationship—a reality I wasn’t ready to face. I decided that to work off my sexual energy, I would either go to the gym or I would write erotica. Well, I ended up writing a lot of erotica, rediscovering this tool of self-awareness and self-creation that had led me to smut in the first place, and I began writing myself back into my own life, back into the things that I hold most important: connection, touch, release, holding, witness, play.

My first published smut story was in Best Lesbian Erotica 2006. Between the time I wrote it and the time the book came out, I was beginning to end the bed death relationship, in no small part because I’d reminded myself of the value of the erotic, of my own inner erotic world, of erotic words. Between the time I wrote it and the time it came out, I started Sugarbutch Chronicles, which has carried me through these last five plus years, often being my sanctuary, support circle, best friend, and confidant.

Writing these stories, for me, has not been frivolous. They have not been nothing. They are not fluff or useless.

For me, they were a path back to myself when I got lost.

When I was lost, I had no idea what I wanted, aside from the basic daily survivals: work. Eat. Pay bills. Sleep. Shower. But when I wrote, when I connected with my own desire, I felt a little piece of me bloom and become in a bigger way. I felt more like myself.

I turned again to the great books of smut to help me find myself, to help me find a way back to a partner, a lover, a one night stand—hell, even an hour with a Hitachi was sometimes enough. The Leather Daddy and the Femme. Mr. Benson. Switch Hitters: Gay Men Write Lesbian Erotica and Lesbians Write Gay Male Erotica. Back to Basics: Butch/Femme Erotica. Doing It For Daddy. And Best Lesbian Erotica, always Best Lesbian Erotica. I still eagerly buy it every year to see what the guest editor’s tastes are, to see what the new trends are, to read the emerging new writers, to get my rocks off.

I rediscovered what I wanted through reading smut and writing it. Through carving myself a path in connection with a lineage of sex positive dykes and sex radicals and queer kinksters and feminist perverts.

After six years of writing and publishing erotica, I am thrilled to be a guest editor for the series which sparked me into queerness in 1998, thrilled to be choosing stories for the same series that published my very first piece, “The Plow Pose,” in 2006, which helped spark me back to myself. It is so exciting to be contributing to this queer smut hotbed that Cleis Press has helped nurture all these years, and I’m so glad to continue to be part of it in new ways.

I know what I want, now. And lesbian erotica, or as I prefer to call it, queer smut, has helped me not only visualize what is possible, but create a path toward getting what I want.

The stories in this book reflect my taste, my favorites, my personal hot spots, certainly, but also the best-written stories from a large pile of well-written stories by some of my favorite authors, like Kiki DeLovely and Xan West. There are some less-well known writers in here whose work you may not be familiar with, yet, but who will leave an impression on you, writers like Anne Grip and Amy Butcher. I found dozens of moments of signposts, signals directing me toward myself, words illuminating my own meridians of ache. With each story, with each act of lust, with each dirty command or submissive plea, I rediscovered my own want.

I hope you find some of what you want within these pages, too.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 Has Shipped!

Kristen & I received notice that Best Lesbian Erotica 2012—for which I am the guest editor!—has shipped! If you pre-ordered a copy, you should get it any moment. If you haven’t yet, well, as the series editor Kathleen Warnock says, this is a perfect holiday gift. Add it to your wish list. Buy it for Grandma.

(More holiday gift suggestions are coming, I’m working on a list.)

I can’t wait to hear what y’all think of this compilation. I think it’s very, very dirty.

Pick it up from your local independent bookseller, Amazon, or directly from Cleis Press.

The Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 Table of Contents

It’s official! Cleis has given the a-okay to the table of contents I chose for Best Lesbian Erotica 2012. I’m so pleased with how this turned out, many of my favorite smut writers submitted pieces, and according to Kathleen it features writers “from 8 US states and 5 international contributors, including 3 from Toronto.”

If you’re excited about it, the best thing you can do to support me at this point is to go pre-order it on Amazon! Can’t wait to share all these great pieces with you.

Here it is:

Best Lesbian Erotica 2012
Edited by Kathleen Warnock
Selected and Introduced by Sinclair Sexsmith

Touched, by Amy Butcher
Heartfirst, by Kiki DeLovely
Rebel Girl, by Kirsty Logan
Hush, by Treasure Sapphire
Blood Lust, by Giselle Renarde
The Produce Queen, by Michelle Brennan
Hot Yoga, by Anne Grip
Stubborn Ache, by Elena Shearin
Maid for You, by Deborah Castellano
The Last Time, by Dani M.
My Femme, by Evan Mora
How He Likes It, by Xan West
Vacation, by Ali Oh
Come to Me, by Ily Goyanes
On My Honor, by D.L. King
Fifties Waitress, by Julia Noel Goldman
Skindeep, by Anna Watson
Envy, by Lulu La Framboise
When You Call, by Sharon Wachsler
The Elevator Man, by Lea DeLaria
Neck Magic, by Nancy Irwin
Never Too Old, by DeJay

Best Lesbian Erotica 2012, selected & introduced by Sinclair Sexsmith

I’m so excited to announce that I am the guest editor for Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 published by Cleis Press and edited by Kathleen Warnock—and here is the amazingly hot cover!

It is due out in December 2011 and it has a fantastic line-up of well-written, gender-smart, dirty, smutty, hot stories (which are very queer, not just lesbian).

I’m sure you’ll hear endlessly about this volume as we get closer to publication, but in the meantime the best thing you can do to support it is to pre-order it on Amazon as Amazon takes pre-order numbers very seriously, and depending on how many are pre-ordered they keep a certain number in stock, which helps for the success of the book tremendously.

I’ll be doing as much promotion as I can, hopefully with a virutal book tour and some copies available for review. If you have any other ideas how I can get the word out about this book and market and promote it, I’m open to brainstorming! What do you think? What would make you run out & buy it?

Reminder: Best Lesbian Erotica 2012 Submissions Are Due April 1

This is one of my favorite erotica series, not only because the 1997 version was one of the first books of lesbian erotica that I ever picked up, and because I’ve submitted to this anthology every year starting in 2006 (though I haven’t been included every year). I always pick it up, always, regardless of the table of contents or the guest judge, because it is a high quality collection that I always enjoy.

Next year, 2012, I’ve heard rumors that there is a special guest judge. I can’t tell you who, but I am excited.

If you’re an erotica writer, consider getting something together for the April 1 deadline! Specific guidelines for submission are below:

Kathleen Warnock is now accepting submissions for Best Lesbian Erotica 2012, to be published by Cleis Press in December, 2011.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Submit short stories, self-contained novel excerpts, other prose
  • Unpublished material will be considered
  • Previously published material will also be considered
  • Submit two hard copies of each submission (you may print double-sided).
  • Include a cover page with: Author’s Name, Pen Name (if applicable) Title of Submission(s), Address, Phone, and Email Address, and short (50-ish words) bio.
  • All submissions must be typed and double-spaced; number the pages.
  • Each submission should be a maximum of 5,000 words (list word count on title page).You may print double-sided.
  • You may submit up to 2 different pieces of work
  • No email submissions will be accepted, except in the circumstances detailed below; you can email queries to Kwarnockble (at) gmail.com
  • Manuscripts will not be returned, so please don’t send return envelopes.
  • We will consider stories that have been published in other themed anthologies.

E-mail submissions:
You may submit your story via email (as a Word document or PDF) under the following conditions:

  • You live outside of North America or Europe
  • The cost of postage would be prohibitive from your home country
  • The content of your submission may be illegal to send via postal mail in your home country

Submission Deadline:
Submissions will be accepted throughout the year. The final (postmark) deadline is April 1, 2011. All submissions will be responded to by the end of September. Early submissions are encouraged.

Mailing Information:
Send all submissions to:

Kathleen Warnock
31-64 21st St., #319
Long Island City, NY 11106
Attn: BLE2012

If mailing from the US, First Class mail is fine. If you require a confirmation other than the USPS Delivery Confirmation, please included a self-addressed stamped postcard (not an envelope). If mailing from Canada, Airmail or XpressPost USA are recommended.

Please note: April 1, 2011 is a postmark date. You don’t need to overnight it as long as it is postmarked by then. If you are unable to make the postmark date, please email to discuss the possibility of an extension.

Questions? Email the editor at kwarnockble (at) gmail.com.

Friday Reads: Best Lesbian Erotica 2011

I had the pleasure of reading at Kathleen Warnock‘s New York City literary series Drunken! Careening! Writers! on Thursday night in celebration of the new release from Cleis Press, Best Lesbian Erotica 2011, in which I have a story.

Kiki DeLovely, Xan West, Charlotte Dare, D.L. King, Theda Hudson, and I all read excerpts from our pieces included in this year’s book, and Kathleen read from her introduction (and was her all-around amazing hostess self).

It was a blast of an event. It’s become a little bit of a holiday tradition, since BLE always comes out around this time of year and Kathleen has hosted the official New York City kickoff for quite a while, for as long as I’ve been in New York anyway. Kathleen always jokes, “Pick one up for grandma. Perfect gift.”

It’s my favorite erotica series. The quality is always amazing, and the 2011 edition is no exception. I think Kathleen said there are contributors from six different countries this year! I had to mention it in my recent Cliterotica: Lesbian Erotica Roundup for Lambda Literary Foundation, regardless that I have a story in there it’s an incredible anthology.

Here’s the description:

Edited by Kathleen Warnock, Selected and introduced by Lea DeLaria. In Best Lesbian Erotica 2011, women find love and lust in all the right places – kitchens, cars, dance clubs, dungeons, and even a flowerbed. This year’s guest judge is the anything-but-shy Lea DeLaria, the multi-talented writer, stand-up comic, singer, and actor. She has selected work from some of the best-known writers of lesbian erotic fiction as well as debuts of startling new talents. A 1958 Mercury Park Lane rides like a sexual time machine in D.L. King’s “Walk Like a Man.” In Betty Blue’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” a lost boi encounters a firespirit on a romantic celestial plane. In Kiki DeLovely’s “The Third Kiss,” a woman discovers it’s not a good idea to tell your crush your dreams about her – unless you want them to come true.

And remember, there’s a 20% discount on orders by December 31st. Or you can always pick it up from Amazon if you must.