Which, considering my birthday is November 10th, is kindof a record for me; a book is turned in and approved over 6 months before the pub date! I never work like that, and it's exciting, mostly because now I've gotten the worst part, the rejection letters out of the way. My assistant Inara is going to help me copyedit the manuscript and then I can forget about it for a few months, until I start working on the book trailer.
I have a lot of projects up in the air, and I hope at least one of them goes through. In the meantime, I'm contracted for five more books for Cleis, the most urgent, and most maddening, of which is Best Sex Writing 2010. I love being the series editor on this one, because I've gotten to publish the likes of Gael Greene, Michael Musto, Mary Roach, Violet Blue, Tristan Taormino and others, BUT it's also a gigantic pain in the ass in terms of minutiae and rights. There's nothing like this when publishing original stories. I'm talking emails to editors, then emails to rights people, then forms, then negotiating, and on and on. I wish it were as easy as I read an awesome piece and then the author sends it to me as a Word doc. Hopefully, it'll all be worth it.
This year, we're doing galleys and blurbs and all that stuff that makes me feel like it's a "real book." Meaning, stuff that will hopefully get Publishers Weekly and Library Journal to notice my book. I see Mary Roach's Bonk at the Hudson News at Grand Central. Now, I know with a book cover like mine, and probably there's more involved economics to it that price indie publishers out (I'm assuming), but still; if so many people are interested in science and sex, I really hope they'll be interested in my book. If all goes as planned/hoped for, it'll include pieces like Seth Michael Donsky's excellent look at "The Trouble With Safe Sex" in New York Press and Jesse Bering's wonderful Scientific American article, "Secrets of the Phallus."
I was hoping to have the book done by when I go to Geneva on May 8th (a week-long trip that comes with is own major heaping of stress) and in the hands of guest judge Esther Perel, but that doesn't look like it'll happen. Still, I'll be very relieved when I turn this one in because it's such a big undertaking. Worth it, but still, give me erotica stories once this is done!
Mostly I can't wait until Friday, when I have a really hot hotel date with my guy at a fancy hotel (one good thing about the recession, Priceline and other places have all kinds of deals). We definitely need it as both our schedules are way too hectic.
Here's what you'll find in Peep Show: Tales of Voyeurs and Exhibitionists, coming out in November from Cleis Press.
Introduction: Hungry Eyes and Sensual Show-Offs
Showtime by Susan St. Aubin
Clean and Pretty by Donna George Storey
Superior by Monica Shores
People in Glass Hotels by Jennifer Peters
Indecent by Lolita Lopez
Ownership by Craig J. Sorensen
Audience Participation by Elizabeth Coldwell
Now You See Her by Andrea Dale
Watcher in the Shadows by Cheyenne Blue
Glass by Nobilis Reed
Sleeping Beauty by Malcolm Ross
The Theory of Orchids by L. A. Mistral
Missing Michael by M. March
Busted by Kissa Starling
Satisfaction Guaranteed by Sommer Marsden
Rosse Buurt by Geneva King
I’ve Only Got Eyes for You by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Calendar Girl by Angela Caperton
Introduction: Hungry Eyes and Sensual Show-Offs
When the stories started rolling in for Peep Show, I was surprised to see that so many were about sex work: strippers, burlesque babes, and other professional show-offs and their customers. I had intended the title to be a sexy suggestion of the complementary fetishes of exhibitionism and voyeurism, not necessarily the main setting for the bulk of the stories. As I kept reading, though, I realized that peep shows and other forms of commercialized sexual displays are a major way we as a culture sanction the act of watching.
There’s a sense of the forbidden in many of the stories you’ll read here, whether money changes hands or not. There is the thrill of baring your body in exactly the place you’re not supposed to, which Lolita Lopez zeroes in on with her nude campus performance art protagonist in “Indecent.” As Lopez writes, “Trini couldn’t stop herself. The risk heightened the allure.” In Malcolm Ross’s “Sleeping Beauty,” the main character catches his gorgeous wife in repose in the middle of the night, and is compelled to keep on watching. M. March gives us a poignant, moving story of being watched over from above.
As for those peep shows, there’s plenty of very sexy jiggling to be seen here. Donna George Storey beautifully and, as always, utterly erotically captures a different kind of peep show in “Clean and Pretty,” in which an American woman in Japan soaps up in the shower, getting paid handsomely, while exulting in the one viewer who can look for free. Geneva King takes us deep inside Amsterdam’s famous red-light district, or “Rosse Buurt,” A woman is drawn to a woman she sees there, a woman who “stands in her window on the second story, not banging on the glass like the other girls, just standing, surveying the crowd, like she picks the customer and not the other way around, like she’s deciding who is lucky enough to experience any bit of her.” This is the kind of woman who sells her body in this book; one who’s knowing, aware, yet can allow herself to get swept away by passion, even when she’s on the clock.
Modern technology also plays a role here in the webcam-themed “Audience Participation” and “I’ve Only Got Eyes for You,” where private citizens become amateur porn stars. When you think of voyeurs, you probably picture the iconic image of the Peeping Tom, and he’s to be found in these pages as well, once, even wearing a trench coat. But rather than being the town creep, here the various peeping Toms (and Thomasinas) are more than just stereotypes. They see and hear things they aren’t supposed to, and sometimes, as with Sommer Marsden’s Jared in “Satisfaction Guaranteed,” they even get caught.
Neighbors, coworkers, spouses, and hotel guests all experience the power of looking, and being looked at. Even the most intimate relationships can get closer when one person opens himself up to being studied, caressed not with the hands but with the eyes. These stories honor the art of the striptease, the daring of the nudist, the boldness of the person who’ll go out of her way to get more than an eyeful. I hope the sensual visions these stories create stay in your mind’s eye for a long time to come.
Rachel Kramer Bussel