Melanie Abrams
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Fiona Zedde
My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me UpMy Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up
By: Stephen Elliott
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1573442550
October 2006

Reviewed By: Kathleen Bradean

Stephen Elliot’s My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up is a bold confession. From his introduction, This Could Have Been a Memoir, he says, “It is in everyone’s best interest for more people to be open about their sexual desires.” He puts his need on display and offers an explanation, but doesn’t apologize for it – nor should he.

My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up isn’t exactly a novel. It’s a collection of short stories that are linked together so that there is a broader picture.

In First Things First, he tells of an encounter with an S&M domme. His inexperience is the frightening thing here. He’s not sure what he wants, and doesn’t know how to admit that the scene is too much. He addresses the danger of that situation in his introduction, and talks about how the US Government’s drive to censor the internet has driven websites with crucial information on Safe, Sane, and Consensual practices to shut down.

My Stripper Year is about his heroine addiction and touches on his work in bisexual porn. “I got robbed. I got beat up. Things weren’t going well. Nothing made sense. I was having the best time of my life,” right up until an overdose left him paralyzed for eight days. He was lucky to survive, and knows it.

Beginning with What It’s Like in San Francisco, the stories in this collection take on the feel of chapters in a novel. My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up, Other Desires, and Tears are about relationships that don’t work and the search for a domme that’s compatible with his needs. Through those stories, although he never says, it seems that he began to understand what he wanted, and learned to communicate his needs.

In Three Men and a Woman, he finds Eden. She offers a relationship beyond sexual encounters, but it’s a polyamorous relationship with her husband and another man. Elliot says, “That I love her and that I think this could maybe work sometimes and then other times I see nothing but a bunch of potholes, a couple, landmines, and a train wreck.” It’s obvious that he has doubts. The relationship continues, but not easily. He has an awkward meeting with the husband and tries to work around the jealousy and scheduling problems of sharing her with the two other men in her life. “She’s with me all the time, or I’m longing for her. She leaves a velvet bag of rope next to my bed. Sometimes I think it’s unfair. She’s with me when she isn’t.” That has got to be one of the most honest descriptions of love I’ve ever read.

In My Friend Petey, he tries to explain his relationship with Eden to someone who can’t or won’t understand. It’s as much a declaration of ‘This is Who I Am’ as it is an explanation, and it is unapologetic, as it should be. Just Always Be Good is self-acceptance. “This is a happy story,” Elliot says, and he means it.

Epilogue: My Mainstream Girlfriend is an admission of being kinky, but also the realization that maybe he isn’t that far out of the norm. He says, “I spend much more time with my face between her legs than I do getting cut. You have to look at the percentages. More and more I feel like I’m joining mainstream America.” Looking at the huge amount of BDSM literature and porn available, as well as the images slipping into mainstream media nowadays, he may be on to something there.

This book isn’t easy reading. It’s about sex, but not sexual. It’s graphic but not titillating, not a one-handed read. What it is is an honest account of someone finding balance and peace in his sexuality.