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(Update: Blogger hasn't fixed its problem with the "adult warning". Will go back to posting at my WordPress blog)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Laurell K Hamilton

I've been reading Laurell K Hamilton's latest, Bullet. I've never read her before, suspecting that I would not find anything interesting or relevant in her writing. Hence my surprise: I enjoyed the story. Oh, it's not the best writing. Thin characterisation; an indifferent plot; a huge cast of characters who probably only fully make sense if you've read all the previous Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels (Bullet is number 19); and lots and lots of sex. The unexpected wrinkle to the sex is that most of Anita Blake's boyfriends (and I lost count of how many she has) also have sex with each other, with or without her. And the sex is very, very hot. I suppose it's because I'm used to reading and writing erotica that this doesn't strike me as a negative. The way I see it, sex is an integral part of human life, and we humans love it. So it's entirely logical that we should write about it, make films and TV shows about it, and find it fascinating and a turn on. As I wrote earlier, religion has perverted sex by making only a tiny part of it sacred: the sex within marriage, "in the proper vessel". All other sex is profane, to varying degrees, some in fact an abomination. This nonsense spoils so much.

A while ago I had a kind of epiphany. Reading a short story in Neil Plakcy's Mahu Men, Sex in Salt Lake, I realised something about myself. Over the years I have more or less considered myself a gay man who got married, because he found that the person he really loved was a woman. I didn't find other women erotic. My lady was enough for me. I found Sex in Salt Lake very erotic:

She suddenly planted her lips on mine, and swung over to straddle me, her leather miniskirt riding up to her waist. It took me by surprise; it had been a while since I'd had such intimate contact with a woman, and I was assaulted by sense memories, as well as the strangeness of it all. My dick didn't mind it though; it popped up to attention. Was I really gay if a woman's kiss and caress could turn me on? I always thought a bisexual was somebody who couldn't make up his – or her – mind. It only got stranger when I heard a key in the lock and then the door swung open. A haole bodybuilder type stood there, framed in the light. He had a deep tan and his dark hair was shaved down to stubble. […] Mindy was still straddling me on the couch and she leaned over and began kissing the edge of my chin. […] My eyes fastened on his body and wouldn't let go as he began to unwrap himself. First he pulled his T-shirt above his head, revealing washboard abs and biceps as thick as my leg. […] My body was going nuts, and I wasn't sure if it was the pressure of Mindy's ass on my stiff dick, her nibbling on my chin, or the show going on in front of me.”

My body's reaction when I read this story made me understand something about myself. All the years of marriage, until recently, I didn't allow myself to respond to women's sexiness. That I would respond to men I took for granted -- though I didn't act on it. But somewhere deep inside my mind I told myself women -- except my wife -- weren't sexy. My reaction to Neil Plakcy's short story showed me that that wasn't true, that in certain conditions I find women -- women other than my beloved lady -- intensely erotic. I found that extremely interesting.

In Bullet, there are extended orgies (no other word does them credit) where Anita Blake is repeatedly brought to orgasm by the two or three (or four or five) men she is with, and in one case with a woman. I found the description of sexual pleasure from the woman's point of view interesting -- and incredibly hot. As a gay man I am an outsider, and so in a way I can identify with all the protagonists in a story, or with none, a duality which can perplex and offend insiders. And again, reading these scenes made it clear to me that I am bisexual, rather than a gay man who happens to be married. A bisexual at the gayer end of the spectrum, perhaps, but undoubtedly bisexual. And that is most intriguing.

Over all these years I kind of believed somewhere inside me that being bisexual was a cop out. You were either gay or straight. Bisexuals were just confused. Oh, I could accept the intellectual proposition that we are all to some extent bisexual, that there was nothing wrong with being bisexual, etc, etc. But it didn't really impact on my deep (and subliminal/unconscious) conviction that I was gay (albeit with a dearly loved wife) and that claiming to be bi was a bit of flummery, really. The nature of an epiphany is that something you didn't know, or knew deep down but somehow denied, is revealed to you. A Pauline conversion, if you will. A "blinding flash"*, in everyday speech. The revelation is still shaking me. In the nicest possible way.

A few other points. Nowhere in Amazon does is warn you that there will be hot monkey sex in the book. Odd, since they go on ad nauseam warning one about the sex in their gay erotica. You know the sort of thing, 'may offend', 'contains explicit sexual content', 'situations which some readers may find objectionable (anal play, male/male sexual practices.)' No such warnings about Ms Hamilton. Why not? Because she is a best seller?

Also, I was worried about DemonThrong, which turned into a bit of a fuckfest. Not my fault, the characters took over. But it worried me (a) that all this sex was icky and (b) that it was unsellable. But WTF, if Laurell K Hamilton can do it, and make a good living doing it, then why can't I? The only possible thing to worry me is whether some other blogger somewhere reads DemonThrong and then comments 'erotic and hot, but alas, rubbish'. ;-)

*Epiphany comes from ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια = manifestation, ἐπι= has the general meaning of 'on', and φάνεια means appearing/appearance and is related to phenomenon (φαινόμενoν in Greek)


Anonymous said...

Regarding the subject of gays with opposite sex partners;

People have emotional needs and they have physical needs. For some people the physical need is greater. For others the emotional need is greater.

A physical need often involves a sexual preference. That's not usually so with an emotional need. So you have relationships outside the physically preferred sex, because they fulfill the greater emotional need.

Nigel said...

That's an insightful observation. My lady is my soulmate in every way. But I still find men sexy and attractive. For a while this perplexed and hurt her. But she understands now how much she means to me.

Neil Plakcy said...

Very interesting comment, Nigel. I'm glad the story meant something to you-- I was worried about this one, as it's farther from what I normally write. But something about it seemed real to me, at least in Kimo's character.

Nigel said...

It might not resonate so much with a 100% gay man. But for me, a woman who enjoys sex and a man who likes to join in is. . . hot.