Looking to add spice to your work?

InkTears Editorial Director Sara-Mae Tuson cracks the whip.

Such is the relative rarity of performers doing honest, fun or heartfelt erotic performance pieces live, that, by dint of having several stories published in the Erotic Review, and poems which mostly deal with sex and death (those hoary old bedfellows) I sometimes get tagged as a ‘sex writer’.

I suppose I shouldn’t really be surprised. I did edit a magazine called Trespass, for many years, which always contained a robust ‘sexuality’ feature. I still have some gorgeous back issues knocking around in case anyone is interested. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink…oh God. You find yourself slipping into double entendre and innuendo very quickly when it comes to the sensual.

In fact, Trespass dealt with it’s sexual content in an intelligent, tongue-in-cheek but ultimately respectful way. We spoke to transgender performers, infiltrated S&M romps and even did a piece on sex within a Muslim marriage – peeking under the hijab, as it were. It was about unveiling the mystery of sex as opposed to painting it in shock horror red.

Yet, despite the proliferation of sex in media and pop culture, we’re still coy about discussing it. So there’s still a frisson of excitement to be had from hearing someone baring their…soul in public. For journalistic reasons (ahem) I’ve read up on, and know many people who indulge in, all sorts of high jinks that make my own rather timid heart quail. Typical writer, I prefer to imagine and concoct. So I’ve ended up writing a few (usually comedic or surreal) short stories and poems which have made it into various publications. There are lots of people pushing far greater boundaries than ever I did or would (have a look at the marvellous Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse published by Emma Press in which I was lucky enough to have a couple of poems published, as a lovely example of this).

The thing about eroticism is that it’s incredibly subjective – whether it’s whips, hot wax, stilettos or whatever flicks your Bic (you are writers, after all) – one person’s idea of the erotic might be dull as ditch water for another.

So my advice, for what its worth, is:

  • If it’s fresh and exciting for you, then it’ll probably be so for the audience too.
  • Check the arms and limb placement. I know, it’s an odd one, but you’d be surprised how many people end up giving their characters multiple arms and legs (instead of orgasms).
  • Get someone else to run their eyes over it. If you hear laughing, chances are you should work on it.  
  • Watch out for too much Carry-On style innuendo. You’re aiming for dirty, not dated.
  • A little goes a long way in terms of sex and performance. People are surprisingly appreciative, in most cases, of the tiniest bit of titillation, so keep it classy and leave them wanting more.
  • Breathe. Take it slow and seduce them with your words.

Writing good sex is tricky, but most of us have the experience, or imagination, to do it. As they say in those films: “Try it once, and see if you like it.”


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