Demon by Day, from the book's artwork, is an anime fantasy novel by Helen Madden published by Mojocastle Press. It starts with a demonic male on male pile driver of a buttfuck and goes upward from there with gleeful decadence. You don't have to be one of 'the boys' to find this scene quite steamy. You may have to be a devotee of hard kink and rump riding, but is that really such a stretch for most modern eroto-sophisticates?
The plot is an outrageous fling into a demi-world of hot kink. The demon characters -- though generally quite vile -- are sexy, haughty, supernatural folk who are so overdressed that they could model on Project Runway. They remind you of Clive Barker's meaner vampires when they’re in a particularly putrid mood. And why shouldn’t they be cranky? The demons are a dying race. Cursed with infertility, their upper caste cannot procreate. It doesn’t help that demons regularly torture and assassinate each other, and that anal sex between males is overwhelmingly the fuck of choice just ahead of backdoor fist fucking.
The hero, Orziel, a half-human and half-demon, bestrides this world and like everyone else conducts a campaign of subversion, betrayal, mayhem, and treason worthy of the Bush White House. He has a personal penchant for twinks who he regards as possessions. Twink A, the Demon Prince Asheru, proves that no amount of cute or sexual versatility can compensate for being a whiney bitch. Twink B, a mortal lap dancer, shows that loyalty in the face of bad temper and absurd odds can earn you a place in the heart of your abusive lover. At times these relationships are hard to stomach, but they are more than compensated for by the novel’s action.
The subterranean world of the demons (who cannot stand sunlight) is reminiscent of the Silk Road in say the 1500s with a heavy dose of Star Wars. There is multi-cultural (if not multi-species) flavor to this world’s genetically warped and skewed inhabitants. Magic replaces reason, and power is the medium of exchange. No one seems to want anything so much as to fuck someone else up, or to just fuck them. They are greedy, short-sighted, cynical egoists having a Neoconservative field day of self. Beyond that they have no objectives.
The dialogue has the 1930s ring of out-takes from Ming the Merciless as he is about to disembowel Buck Rogers. Ming, who I always admired as a child for his hammy delivery, never had any luck undoing Buck, anally or otherwise, but he really could turn a tortured phrase. Who doesn’t like a really stylish creep, be it Dracula or Hannibal Lecter? In Demon by Day, when Prince Asheru is boldly manhandled by the dashing Orziel and threatened with all manner of rough sexual delights, he rejoins, “I’ll scream!” One can only mutter that he seems to have committed himself to a lifetime as a screamer. Much of this is intended I suppose as camp, but it does not get there because the characters’ behavior is so repulsive. Characters who employ camp have to inspire affection to be forgiven their linguistic self-indulgences.
On the other hand, Demon by Day is fraught with no end of ingenious erotic torments, brandings, maimings, immolations, disembowelments, murders, and truly cutting remarks. These delights frame a panoply of detailed deviant dalliances, insanely stretched sphincters, and fabulously ferocious fucks so that dainty literary and thematic concerns pale by comparison.
Ms. Madden’s top skill is her sense of pacing and action. Most erotica, if it has any plot at all, shows a pathetic sense of narration. “Just get to the fucking,” is the usual formula, and that can get redundant pretty fast.Demon by Day has a wonderfully complex and engaging plot that leads us from battle to battle between the novel’s various factions in a thoroughly engaging way. What is most unusual is that the author can actually write spellbinding action that reminds you a bit of Ian Fleming. You cannot put down Dr. No while Bond works his way through No’s torture tunnel, and you cannot put down this book as the final series of events unfolds.
The cover of this anthology (complete with a moody photo of a dude in a leather harness over smooth, muscular flesh) looks both obvious and subject to interpretation. What is leather? Literally, it’s the treated skin of cattle, a substance with a variety of textures and a certain presence which distinguishes it from synthetic imitations.
Symbolically, leather can signify the range of activities summed up as bondage/discipline/sadism/masochism. “Leather” has been called a lifestyle, a code of honor and a culture with roots in outlaw gangs as well as in all-male military organizations. “Leather” as a deep-down urge to dominate or to submit is suggested in the negotiation scene of a story in this collection, “Willing” by Xan West. A topman describes his conversation with a breathless “boy:”
“His brown eyes stay fixed on the knife as I move toward him. I tease his lip with the tip of it and then speak softly.
‘How black do you flag?’
His eyes stay on the blade. He swallows.
‘Very black, on the right, Sir.’”
A black handkerchief on the right signals a desire to submit to extreme play—in this case, blood sports.
Few of the stories in this collection are “very black” in an SM sense, but actual leather appears in every one. In some stories, leather signifies masculine self-reliance, as in pioneer communities, and in other stories, it is the uniform of a 21st-century urban crowd with its own language and territory.
Simon Sheppard, as editor, shows his characteristic wit, both in his selection of stories by other authors and in his own poignant, post-AIDS leather-initiation story, “The Village Person.” Usually I have qualms about editors who include their own work in an anthology, but in this case, the editor’s story deserves to be in good company.
“Exposed,” the first story in the book, describes a gay man’s first submissive experience in a leather bar. It was written by the legendary Aaron Travis a.k.a. Steven Saylor, and first published in 1987, when it probably looked more groundbreaking than it does now. Initiation stories about “coming out” into a new sexual identity have become a well-worn tradition, but most of the stories in this collection tweak the leather code in new ways.
If the editor—whose essays are as engaging as his erotica—had explained the influence of Aaron Travis as a kind of “daddy” to a later generation of writers in the field, the relationship of the stories in this book would have been clearer. As a reviewer who can never get too much of Simon Sheppard’s writing, I would have liked to read an introduction summarizing this anthology.
All the stories in this book are competently-written, but some are airbrushed fantasies featuring characters who could have been drawn by Tom of Finland, while others are slices of real life featuring flawed, touchingly-honest men. Several of the stories describe the nonconsensual but well-deserved punishment of “bad boys.” Some describe male-on-male leathersex as emotional therapy.
A note on cocks: there are many of them in this book, as any reader might expect. Most are permanently attached to their wearers, but not all. (There is a transman here, as well as various phallic toys.) The loving descriptions of the definitive male sex organ indicate its various moods and significance. The cocks in these stories suggest intimidating power as well as sensitivity and vulnerability. Two cocks together, especially when exposed to each other for the first time, seem to trigger a shifting combination of empathy and rivalry. Often described as “meat,” these organs can only be ironically compared to sausages on a plate. Each one in this meat-market has its own personality.
Several of these stories are notable for their local color. These include Simon Sheppard’s, Bill Brent’s and horehound stillpoint’s tales of San Francisco as a gay-male mecca, Shane Allison’s story of an interracial encounter in a “southern gothic” house, Elazarus Wills’ story of a dusty but magical small town in Kansas, and Jeff Mann’s ballad of very closeted leathermen in rural Virginia, a kind of response to Brokeback Mountain.
Shaun Levin and Thom Wolf play with British stereotypes. Levin’s “master” is an impeccable English gentleman, while Wolf’s “rent pig” is a scruffy young man who grows up on the wrong side of the law.
Wolf’s story, “Community Punishment: The Story of a British Rent Pig,” is a first-person revenge fantasy told by a probation officer who first meets Callum when he is a “sixteen-year-old fuck-up, one of the first cases allocated to me in the Young Offenders Department.” Callum disappears from the narrator’s care, only to reappear as a “rent boy,” available to any man for a price.
The narrator’s cold-blooded lust is more disturbing, at least to me, than that of any other character in the book:
“You dumb, horny, desperate fool, I thought as I fed him the juices of his rectum on my fingers. That single act was enough to convince me that this was a boy who would do absolutely anything to survive. He probably had, hundreds of times before. . . The notion thrilled me. I could do anything I wanted to this screwed-up cunt and he’d allow it.”
The narrator’s hunger to punish a broken young man seems bottomless, so to speak. By the end of the story, he is just getting started.
“Bootlegger” by Thomas Roche also describes a young hustler facing his comeuppance at the hands of older and tougher men, but the tongue-in-cheek tone suggests that there is no real hatred here. What happens in “the leather bar’s upstairs office. . . furnished in Late Post-Sleaze” seems to satisfy everyone involved.
“Capture, Test and Sell” by Christopher Pierce is another nonconsensual fantasy, as the title suggests, but the captured “prey” turns out to be more willing than his captor expects when he first picks him out of a crowd.
One of the stories about leathersex as a form of healing is by the only woman in the book, Alana Noel Voth, who also has a BDSM story in I is for Indecent (reviewed here previously). Voth’s story in Leathersex, “Salvation,” begins dramatically:
“Life, like death, came with a bang. With one laced-up black boot, this guy kicked a door open, then barged into a public bathroom, bleeding on the floor.”
The bleeder, who introduces himself as Steely Dan because he supposedly has balls of steel, seems at first to be more of a victim than the narrator, who was traumatized before Steely Dan burst into his life. By the end of the story, these two have formed a quirky and surprisingly nurturing bond.
The authors of these stories clearly know the score, and several of them satirize a too-rigid approach to “leather” as the lifestyle of Real Men without trashing the culture in general. In “Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?” by Karl von Uhl, three older leathermen discuss changing times:
“’These younger people, they confuse everything,’ said Master Richard.
‘And none of them want to join the clubs,’ said Terry.
‘No, of course not, they can’t be bothered,’ said Master Richard.
‘The clubs will always be there,’ said Wade.
‘Not if nobody joins them,’ said Terry.”
The older men agree that educating novices is the way to keep leather culture alive. Meanwhile, they take turns “making a man” of an eager sissy-boy by blindfolding, shaving, plugging, paddling and flogging him.
This book could appeal to readers who “flag” in a variety of colors and positions. The culture of gay leathermen seems to have evolved over time, and most of these stories show a refreshing maturity
There are a number of effective ways to remove lipstick stains from a collar. The most popular method is to dab against it with a moist cloth. Don’t rub – this only makes the stain more difficult to remove. The correct action should be similar to “blotting.” If the stain proves stubborn, moisten the cloth with alcohol and then repeat the “blotting” action. Pre-washes are advised (fabric permitting) for those marks that have become ingrained between wearing and laundry day. If the mark proves really stubborn (and again, fabric permitting) it’s suggested that a dishwasher detergent is used because these contain powerful de-greasing agents. Failing all of the above, a specialist cleaner needs to be brought in.
Of course, the most effective way of dealing with lipstick stains on a collar is to educate the woman you’re kissing to put her lips on flesh rather than fabric. It’s not that difficult and examples of this fabric-friendly practice occur with pleasing frequency throughout Sacchi Green and Rakelle Valencia’s Lipstick on Her Collar.
In case the title hasn’t given it away, I’ll explain here that Lipstick on Her Collar is an anthology of lesbian erotica. Coming from those clever people at Pretty Things Press, including 22 scintillating short stories from an impressive collection of authors, Lipstick on Her Collar is one of those books that offers something new each time you slide between its pages.
At the beginning of this book, Cecilia Tan introduces the short stories as though she is guiding the reader around a party and this is possibly the most apposite way of looking at this collection. The anthology begins with a warm welcome that is provided by Cheyenne Blue’s sensitive and witty “The Hairy Matchmaker.” Cheyenne Blue’s short fiction is invariably hot and she draws characters with a realism that makes them live and breathe. Julia Talbot, with “Straight Seams,” narrates an entertaining yet intense story that shows how two women come together through their interest in looking breathtakingly beautiful. The stories in this collection are as diverse as the guests at any well-planned party. They vary from the exquisite literariness of Andrea Miller’s “Holy Fruit” – which shows that vanilla does not have to be synonymous with mundane – through to the commanding thrill of Jean Roberta’s “My Indentured Slave” – a story that shows the most acceptable and fulfilling way of exchanging goods for services.
The consistent motif through these stories repeatedly shows femmes and butches interacting in the way that femmes and butches best interact. That said, as anyone who has ever read an anthology from Pretty Things Press should know, all of those interactions are deliciously varied in their dynamics, mechanics and execution.
The title story of this anthology comes from Sacchi Green’s own contribution to the collection. “Lipstick on Her Collar” (the short story) is set in Vietnam at the end of the sixties. Following Ms Green’s typically efficient narrative, the story introduces a femme journalist to a butch WAC sergeant and allows their relationship to develop. Sacchi Green is clearly conscious of the era’s climate in relation to this story. The sixties was not the most inclusive time for anyone who operated outside the boundaries of heterosexuality. That undercurrent of homophobic hostility tightens this story and its tension comes from a combination of the malevolent dangers posed by the VC and the more subversive threat to individual freedoms that epitomised this non-inclusive era.
All of which lends credibility to the background against which the two central characters meet. It gives their developing relationship an edge of nobility as the reader begins to appreciate that these women are fighting their own battles for freedom – separate and unsupported by those exchanging bullets in the battles around them.
Lipstick also appears on the collar of Rakelle Valencia’s protagonist in “That’s Horse Breakin’.” This short story returns to the familiar territory of the previous Green/Valencia anthology Rode Hard Put Away Wet. Valencia writes butch cowboys with an authenticity that could leave a studious reader saddle sore – and smiling because of it. This bittersweet tale of a butch woman, who can control the most powerful beasts but can’t control a flirtatious femme, combines innate eroticism with humour and pathos.If I was to write about every story in this anthology worth reading, I would just be reiterating the table of contents and spoiling all the surprises contained within a damned fine book. Aside from those I’ve mentioned previously, Lipstick on Her Collar also includes fantastic fiction from the wonderful Shanna Germain, the talented Teresa Noelle Roberts and the ever-glorious Rachel Kramer Bussel. There’s a lot in this anthology and, because of their exceptional quality, the stories are likely to remain with the reader a lot longer than any lipstick mark – regardless of where that lipstick mark has been placed.
The Shadows Beneath is a gothic haunted house story set in the south.
This novel is a paranormal romance, probably listed as m/m erotica. My quibble with that is that the character of Tristan was obviously a male overlay on a female character, and an annoyingly passive female ala professional-victim fairy tale princess at that. Nothing about him was believable as a man. The fainting thing got tiresome quickly. The few uneven sex scenes did nothing to define the characters or move the plot forward, making this more a story with explicit sex, rather than erotica.
There were many problems with the writing in this story. The characters were indistinguishable from each other, something that could have been fixed by cutting the cast by at least half and by getting into the character’s heads. Despite using many paranormal romance props: creepy old house, a four-poster bed with heavy curtains, secret passages, and a raging storm, there were no spine-tingling chills or eerie moments.If I had been reading this book for pleasure, I probably would have set it aside after the first chapter.
Different strokes for different folks. Reviewing erotica has made me realize the truth of this aphorism. When I read a book for review and find that it does not arouse me in the least, is that the author's fault, or my own? Is it possible for me to honestly assess the erotic potential of a work that bases its appeal on some fetish that I find completely uninteresting or even disturbing?
This question reared its head as I was reading Lance Porter's collection of femdom stories. I'm sure that Mr. Porter thinks that his stories are titillating. Virgin Books/Nexus must think so too; this is at least his second publication with Nexus, the first of which was apparently nominated for an erotic writing award.
So when I find that five of the six tales leave me unmoved at best, annoyed and disgusted at worst, is this because I'm not a femdom enthusiast? Because I am too blind to see the erotic elements in a scenario where a woman uses and abuses a man or men for her own pleasure? Well –I've written such scenes myself, and thought that they were pretty hot. On the other hand, much of the femdom work that I've reviewed has left me cold, or worse. Is Mr. Porter the victim of my lack of erotic imagination?
I don't believe so. The Wicked Sex has some positive features, but I think that generally it lacks a critical characteristic that is a prerequisite for an erotic experience, at least for me: sympathetic characters with whom I can identify. Mr. Porter's characters, both male and female, are either stereotyped caricatures, or selfish villains, or both.
The first story in the collection, “Bound by a Woman,” is the worst. Gunther is a middle-aged German restauranteur who is waiting to meet his gorgeous Asian mail order bride. Bee, the bride, turns out to be a cruel and self-centered creature who, when she discovers that he's not as rich or young as she had hoped, binds Gunther with her stockings, stuffs her panties in his mouth, and hangs him from a hook on the wall of his apartment while she goes out shopping on his credit cards. Eventually she screws his younger and more virile neighbor, and then leaves, with Gunther still dangling from the hook.
Bee treats Gunther despicably, not because it arouses her, or him, but because she's angry with him and doesn't care in the least what happens to him. On the other hand, one can't really feel much sympathy for Gunther (at least I couldn't), who is a chauvinistic liar marrying strictly for sex (and the satisfaction of showing off his Asian beauty to all the German women who rejected him over the years). Since I really disliked both the main characters, how could I get emotionally involved in the story?
To compound the problem, this story in particular had some very sloppy writing, most notably a sudden and confusing shift in POV from Gunther to his neighbor Siegfried during the climactic cuckolding scene. Then there are sentences like the following:
“He roared in response, squeezed her juddering ass cheeks between his clawing fingers and drove himself with ever-greater vigour. “
“Juddering” may not be the least erotic word in the language, but if I were trying to paint a sexy picture, I'd avoid it!
“Teen Tease”, the second story in the collection, is more tightly written. The narrator is an eighteen-year-old sexpot who gets her kicks tormenting her ex-gangster stepfather and making her ex-stripper mother jealous. The tale offers some sly humor in its images of the narrator and her classmates in Catholic high school, trying to seduce the incorruptible Father John. I also found the unexpected twist at the end quite clever. But arousing? With whom am I supposed to identify? The truly wicked teen narrator, who delights in her cruel power? The disgusting mafioso pervert who drools at her feet? Sorry, but the only person for whom I felt the least concern was the beleaguered priest.
The third tale in The Wicked Sex is entitled “The Land of the Giant Supermodels.” The title says it all. A group of fifty or so men, applying to appear in a commercial with some famous beauties, are abducted to a world inhabited by women fifty feet tall. One by one the men try to escape and meet various horrible fates, until the narrator, the last remaining prisoner, is crushed to death in a supermodel's vagina.
This tale really is as ridiculous as it sounds. Actually, it's rather humorous, and again, has an ending that is more subtle than I had expected As erotica, though, it fails miserably, at least in my opinion.
“Heartless,” the fourth story, is a rather incoherent tale of a young man driven mad by his lust for the woman who spurned him. “Imperatrix,” the last story in the volume, postulates a competition between two dominant women to see which one can exhaust the most men. In this story, at least, the men are willing participants, well paid to service and satisfy Valerie Sales and her archrival Katerina Dominova. The story is fun, if not very original, with a few genuine fireworks set off between the two women. (The men here are no more than animate sex toys.)
The one story that did strike some sparks for me was “Mistress of the Hunt.” This tale, loosely based on the classical myth of Diana and Actaeon, succeeds in evoking an aura of mystery as well as a terrible sense of tragic inevitability. Young, virile Acton is hired to care for Mistress Delia's hounds. He suffers unbearable desire for her chaste beauty, yet at the same time resents the haughty manner in which she wields her power. When he spies on her bathing, she exacts the ultimate in punishment. Mr. Porter manages to suggest that this scenario has been played out many times in the past, and that the future would see new incarnations of the Huntress and her eternal prey. Although the exposition is a bit rambling and Mr. Porter throws in a variety of characters that distract from the central theme, this tale does merit the description “erotic.”All in all, however, I cannot honestly recommend The Wicked Sex. Possibly a true afficionado of female domination would find something in this volume that I missed. I know from personal experience that if a work of fiction pushes your buttons, you're willing to overlook (or maybe don't even notice) the literary rough edges. Possibly the right reader would finish this book with racing heart and engorged genitalia. I'm certainly not that reader.