A while back I asked tumblr what books were formative to their sexuality. They mentioned a lot of book that sparked my imagination when I was a late teen. Anne Rice, Robert Heinlein, Story of O, etc.
To be honest, I can’t show you most of the sex writing that formed my sexuality because I can’t find it online. These formative materials came from a box of pulp smut novels I found at a garage sale.
I remember finding this big box of water damaged yellow paged romance and erotica paperbacks as I perused a garage sale near my house. I was about sixteen. Most of the books on top of the box were standard romance, but under those the books got dirtier and dirtied. There were ridiculous lesbian exploitation stories, sex cults, swingers, BDSM, lots of Satan making people fuck, but those were the tame stories. The majority of them were incest, kidnapping, slavery, bestiality, and snuff. I bought the whole box for $10 from a smiling 80 year old woman who probably thought they were Nancy Drew books. I read every one of those books, many of them twice. Okay, many of them twenty times.
From there, I took to the nascent internet for more dirty stories. Remember, this was 1993. I found Usenet via AOL and that was where I got the majority of my smut for the decade to come. Usenet is forum system that exists both in and alongside the internet. It’s contents are unregulated and although most newsgroups there are full of spam, the moderated groups are lovely havens of content.
As I discussed in a talk I gave many years ago, anonymity has a very interesting effect on erotic writing. In the vacuum of Usenet, the most shocking and taboo stories usually got the most readers and the most comments, thus ASSM is full of wild stuff.
The second box of books that changed my life came when I started working in my high school library. In the back room there was a box of books labeled “Do Not Shelve!” In this box were banned books, donated books deemed inappropriate, and other tasty morsels.
I stuffed two or three of these books in my bag every day for a semester until I had the whole box at home.
In this box were lots of books about the occult, a bunch of Tom Robbins, Masters and Johnson as well and Kinsey Reports, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, some Henry Miller, a bunch of Beat writers, and a few works of Charles Bukowski.
I devoured these books, reading them all without context or a hint of guilt. Lawrence was beautiful but dated. He took to long to get to the point. The Kinsey and M&J reports fascinated me. Miller and Bukowski were ugly and sordid, but appealing for their glimpses of beauty and passion.
Then came Anaïs. My love affair with Anaïs Nin was really my first literary passion. Her diaries hit that same spot in my heart that loved blogs and secrets. Her novels were advanced, complex, surreal. Delta of Venus though, that was something new. Art and sex combined in the right measure. Longing, seduction, beauty, all in lovely prose.
Nin and the internet kept me busy through my early twenties, which is when I started to serious think about writing. Luckily for me both the internet and published erotica were starting to take off. As well, college brought me literary fiction that showed me that writing about sex could be a lot more that just stroke stories. More about that in the next part.