Rachel's note: Donna George Storey is one of my favorite writers and is such a huge inspiration. Her plots are always creative and blow me away with their detail and heat. Her story "Clean and Pretty" is so realistic, and plays a role in the Peep Show book trailer.
Donna George Storey
How did you come up with the idea for your story “Clean and Pretty” in Peep Show?
When I was in Tokyo in the spring of 2008, my partner and I stayed in boutique Japanese-style inn right in the middle of Ginza. It was a bargain at $400 a night, but every detail was just right, including the shower stall which was a floor-to-ceiling glass cubicle set in the corner of an elegant bathroom. The golden wood paneling and romantic lighting made showering a special experience—in Japan the bathing ritual is elevated to a religion. The possibilities for an erotic story dawned on me when I caught my husband admiring me through the steamy glass.
I’ve also always been intrigued by Japan’s commercial sex industry and was especially inspired by a book of photographs called Pink Box: Inside Japan’s Sex Clubs by American lawyer Joan Sinclair, whose patience and sincerity gained her access to this hidden side of Japanese culture. I knew from friends’ reports and my own research that new clubs come and go in Japan’s red light districts, but they all rely on a creative gimmick. Peeping into the woman’s bath is a common sexual fantasy in Japan, if porn comics are any indication, so I put that peeping Toshi proclivity together with the fancy shower to make up a pink box of my own.
The details of my “masturbation in the shower” club are based on what really goes on, but there aren’t any clubs exactly like this as far as I know. However, if any sex industry entrepreneurs are interested in developing the idea, please get in touch!
photo by Joan Sinclair from Pink Box
cover of Pink Box
Did the story change as you were writing it from your original conception of it?
The title of the story refers to the English translation of the Japanese word kirei, which means both “clean” and “pretty.” I’d always been fascinated by the dual meanings—they’re not mutually exclusive, but certainly suggestive of Japanese cultural values. So I thought it would be a good title, but as I wrote the story I discovered lots of new possibilities for the meaning of that word, both in English and Japanese, culminating in the story’s climax. I came away feeling I’d learned something about language, Japan and sex—three of my favorite topics.
What’s your favorite line or paragraph from your story?
I enjoy layers in clothes, cookies and stories, so this moment of “layered voyeurism” is a favorite in “Clean and Pretty”:
“For a moment I feel dizzy, disoriented. There are too many eyes here. I’m watching Hiro watch a stranger watch me slide my soapy genitals over the glass. Only then do I notice his right arm jerking in an odd motion. I step closer and peer over his shoulder. Hiro’s fly is open, his ruddy erection pokes up through his jeans, nestled in his clenched fist. His other hand holds a wad of tissues at the ready. Suddenly he stops. I freeze. I’ve been caught spying and will surely pay a price.”
Is your Peep Show story similar to or different from your usual erotic writing style?
For some reason, my stories that are set in Japan like “Clean and Pretty” have a special magic for me. The erotic element is always heightened, perhaps because my own thirty-year relationship with the country involves an unsatisfied yearning. No matter how far I’ve penetrated into the culture, I remain an outsider peering through the paper screen. I can definitely feel that passion in this story, which ranks among my very favorites!
What do you think is sexy about exhibitionism and/or voyeurism?
Well, whatever it is, I have to say, every single story in Peep Show really pushes all the right buttons for me. Sex is supposed to be private and hidden, so there’s that delicious sense of breaking a taboo inherent in a public display. It’s also supposed to be shameful, so to have that “dark” side of ourselves seen, accepted, and ultimately shared by the viewer feels satisfying on a deep level. It also occurs to me that we don’t spend all that much of our erotic lives actually having sex. A much greater percentage is spent thinking about it and responding to visual provocation of all sorts whether it’s a sexy media image or a smile from an attractive stranger. Peep Show takes that teasing gap in the raincoat and pulls it all the way open to bare all.
If you care to answer, are you more of a voyeur, exhibitionist, or neither? Do you think there’s something inherently exhibitionistic about writing, especially writing erotica?
I confess I’m both a voyeur and an exhibitionist. It’s impossible to write erotica and not expose a great deal about my fantasies and turn-ons, even if my characters don’t exactly mirror me in every way. Readers are obviously voyeurs, but I think a writer needs to be a voyeur as well. Watching people gives me my material and I’m certainly there in the corner spying on my characters as they do their dirty deeds, scribbling notes all the way.
What are you working on next?
I have a novel simmering, which will peep into the sex lives of famous Americans in past centuries. It’s a very voyeuristic project, and I’m having lots of fun with the research.
Donna George Storey "Clean and Pretty" (www.donnageorgestorey.com) is the author of Amorous Woman (Neon/Orion). Her fiction has been published in numerous anthologies, including Do Not Disturb: Hotel Sex Stories and X: The Erotic Treasury. She writes a column, “Cooking up a Storey,” for the Erotica Readers and Writers Association.
Below is an excerpt from "Clean and Pretty" by Donna George Storey. To read the whole story, check out Peep Show: Erotic Tales of Voyeurs and Exhibitionists. Read excerpts from all 18 stories in Peep Show by clicking here.
Is Hiro watching now?
My nipples tingle, and I feel a gush of wetness between my thighs. It’s not water, no, and it’s not for the man jerking off outside the stall. It’s for Hiro gazing at me through the hidden surveillance camera.
I squeeze out more soap, rub it over my breasts and push them together as if I’m wearing some obscene bargirl’s bustier. It’s time to move on to the “Breast Soap Show.” I lean forward and press my upper body against the glass. In spite of the heat and steam, the wall itself is cool. Yet, as I rub my nipples against it, the mild sting sends sharper pangs of arousal to my cunt. I shake my shoulders slowly, sliding myself along the hard, slick surface. This is no act. I am genuinely turned on.
And Hiro? Does he feel that chilly fire in his body, too?
A face emerges from the steam, inches from the glass, eyes fixed and bulging. I shimmy faster. A tongue darts out, desperately flicking at the glass. I moan. Hiro’s tongue would be just like this, cool and unyielding. He’s a cool man in every sense of the word. He never touches his girls, he told me. Mixing work and pleasure dirties things.
But I want to be dirty. I want to be touched.
For more on Donna George Storey, see her Bottoms Up guest blog post, "Spanking for Soccer Moms" and my interview with her about The Mile High Club anthology