Sunday Mornings Like These

51ZM5ZBNMGL._SX341_BO1,204,203,200_I figured since Sinclair Sexsmith has honored me as one of the Best Queer Sex Blogs (color me fifty shades of flattered!) that I ought to give y’all a little more action. ;)

I’m not much of a romance writer–this might be a one time thing–but do not fear, my contribution is plenty smutty as well (breath play, anyone?). I wrote this story for the partner I always dreamed was possible but I was unsure whether I’d ever encounter this lifetime. Published in Kristina Wright‘s Best Erotica Romance of the Year, I submitted “Sunday Mornings Like These” just months before my partner magically appeared in my life. Well, magically reappeared, actually, as he had been my one-night-stand ten years earlier when I was touring in Europe with my drag troupe…but that’s a post for another day. I wrote this story knowing deep inside myself that such a thing existed–queer love based in truth and trust, magic and mysticism, spiritual/psychic connection, watery and vulnerable emotional depths, sweet and filthy and fully-embodied kink, a passion so fiery it takes us to the cosmos and delivers the Divine onto this plane as well.

I began falling in love with my partner in fewer than two weeks (record timing, even for a Libra like me)…well, two weeks + ten years (but who’s counting?). His presence in my life and our profound connection (lightyears beyond anything I could’ve dreamed up in my boldest fantasies) have taught me to embrace my intuition and it’s been through that fierce embrace that my powers have expanded in unimaginable directions. As we were lying in bed together this morning (9am for me, 9pm for him as he’s currently in Jakarta), we were reveling in how it’s still so impossible to put words to–this woo-filled, woo-ful connection we delve a little (or a lot) deeper into every day.

I wrote this story for him, knowing he existed somewhere, not knowing he was right under my nose all along. I wrote this story as a premonition just before our love story began to unfurl in shockingly similar ways. And just now rereading it I realized in the story I gave a nod to a new offshoot of theory he was to invent before he even knew he would write his dissertation on affect theory. The powers of femmefestation never cease to astound me. Basically, this story is magic. I hope you enjoy the excerpt:

The timing was all off. These are not the kinds of words a woman wants to hear before going in for a kiss, but it was fitting with my awkward nature so I just went with it. He cradled my face in his palms like I was the most precious thing in the universe and kissed me like I was the dirtiest.

My lips were eager to keep moving even after I had torn myself away.

“I need to learn to trust myself.”

Shit. Did I just say that out loud? Staring off somewhere far, far away, a profound realization was swiftly coming into focus. I needed to place my confidence in me alone. Trust in what I felt–the steadfastness in my heart, the authenticity I sensed in his touch, the beauty unfurling within me. My intuition was pleading for attention. It already knew how this story would unfold. And once I learned how to believe in myself above all others, the rest would fall into place.

I leaned in again and our kiss deepened, my body pressing into his, his hand snaking around into my hair. He tugged ever so slightly, testing the waters, then reveling in my responsiveness. A moan originating in my mouth, reverberating in his. A kiss so satisfying it felt like making love. And just before we parted, he placed a crystal of light on my tongue. I didn’t know it at the time, but the more truth I spoke, the more it sparkled and shone its light into the world, spreading magic that glimmered to far reaches, illuming every corner. We spent the rest of the night in his bed, surprisingly clothed, sharing bits of our pasts in between passionate spells of making-out. The more I opened up to him, the more the crystal sparked and tingled in my mouth, joggling hidden depths of myself, unearthing long-forgotten secrets and bringing them to light. Secrets cemented so securely that I had mistaken them for truth all these years, blindly accepting them as fact and simply building upon them.

The crystal tasted like refracted light after a long rain. His kisses tasted like coming home.

* * *

And then he started in with his fingers. It was around that time that my legs finally gave out and I joined him on the linoleum. He worked two and then three fingers into my cunt, fucking me so slowly I thought I might cry. Forcing me to feel every millimeter from his fingertips up to his knuckles, sliding in and out of me so sweetly, causing me to emit new little sounds each time his thumb pressed firmly up against my clit. Then without the slightest bit of warning, it was as though he were hit by a bolt of lightening. His thrusts took off at a feverish pace, my voice crying out unearthly noises and my body spasming in sensory overload. Before I knew it, his fingers were curling up, stroking my G-spot, and I was shooting all over the place. I shrieked one final time, a long, hot stream raining down on both of us.

“Mmmmm…It’s been a long time since I’ve been with a woman who would squirt. I was hoping….” His sentence drifted off as he marveled at dreams become reality soaking into his jeans. Cum not his own dripping down his pant leg. Yes, it had been much too long. For both of us. I was beside myself–not wanting to move an inch–my naked body glistening with all kinds of juices juxtaposed with his clothed self. I lay there unabashedly blissed out, having not known it was possible to lose one’s self so entirely in desire like that. Going there with him was just another way in which I embraced more of myself, shimmering in my truth.

And so it was that cracks began to form in my deep-seated fear of vulnerability, innocent beams of light peeking through the foundation at first, gradually forming hairline fractures that would soon enough break open, leveling the entire structure. I won’t lie–not anymore, at least–this looming demolition scared me shitless. If it had not been for a swiftly mounting safe-haven that enveloped me in its place, I may have been tempted to run.

That was six months ago. And now I’m beyond grateful for having stayed. Especially on Sunday mornings like these. When the sunlight has already been creeping in for hours and the sex is still exploratory. Tracing his fingers over my hips–a haptic continuation of his visual admiration–I’m spellbound under his regard. His eyes take in all of me, his hands take all they can. I feel seen, unabashedly beautiful, with every sweep of his fingertips across my skin, his gaze going deeper still. Each slow moment more crushingly intimate and blush-worthy than the next.

But that’s just the tender build-up. I’m the type of girl who doesn’t need much, if any, foreplay. Which is exactly what makes his leisurely pace all the more excruciating. He’s slow. Likes to tease out every last drop of anticipation, driving me to the edge and back again. And then, just after the point where I think I’m going to lose it, he’s flipping me over, taking me from behind with a frenzied rhythm.

Posted in Blogging, Books, Butch, Erotica, Erotica excerpts, Femme, Sexuality, Woo | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Show Yourself To Me: Queer Kink Erotica

ShowYourselftoMeCover (1) (1)
I’m elated to be today’s stop on Xan West’s blog tour for Show Yourself To Me: Queer Kink Erotica, published by Go Deeper Press.

Here’s the thing about going last. You risk repetition. You worry that everything’s already been said, all the accolades handed out, and that you’ll have nothing original to add to the conversation. But, on the flip side, it also feels like an honor. That this is the last stop before we (as a queer- and kink-loving erotica community) send it on home to Xan’s blog, coming full circle.

Xan figured Show Yourself To Me “would be up [my] alley.” We have, after all, come to know each other’s writing styles and tastes as erotica colleagues over the years. And boi, Xan certainly hit the nail on the head with this one. Xan writes explicitly, intentionally, and beautifully about Black and Brown characters, the complexities of the intersections of race and BDSM, characters with various disabilities, the challenges faced by disabled folks who play hard, trans and genderqueer and gender non-conforming characters, fat characters, survivors, and so many others that are often just thrown into erotica for “diversity’s sake” or as an after-thought (or, more commonly, not thrown in at all). All of this in a genre that all too often whitewashes, glosses over (or, more often, fails to address) political implications of race, size, gender, disability, triggers, etc. Xan does all of this (and much more!) and still manages to keep it hot and dirty. Smut based in good politics. Nothing gets me wetter.

Whenever I’m unsure of where to start, I always find the middle to be a good place to land. And when I reached not quite halfway through this collection, I was reminded that my very first piece of erotica was published alongside Xan in Best Lesbian Erotica 2011. Xan’s contribution to that anthology, “My Precious Whore,” struck a deep chord with me back then and it resonated just as strongly all these years later.

There is something very raw and very queer about playing with this kind of power. The queerness of it is what makes it work for us. I know that she could never do this with someone who wasn’t also a survivor, who didn’t know firsthand the nauseous grinding pain of misogyny twisted into sexual violation. There’s something so perverse about using misogyny as a sex toy—the same misogyny that nearly destroyed me as a girl.

Through the narrator, Xan shares just how challenging it is to top, especially when the play is rough. How tops have their own insecurities, their own demons to battle in order to enact edgy scenes. “I can fully be myself with her, even the darkest parts of myself, the ones that scare me.” So beautifully and succinctly put, that is precisely the type of gift submissives can give their Doms. The permission to fully embrace all parts of themselves. A reciprocal relationship that keeps on giving.

Now is when we get down to business, when I hold her release in the palm of my hand, pump fear through her, and force the shame out, one orgasm at a time, transform it. She came in strong and she will leave stronger, more sure of who she is. Here is where the magic builds.

Dominants sometimes face profound struggles reconciling their personal politics with the play their subs are often begging for. Xan tackles this subject so remarkably throughout this collection.

She is dressed like the whore she is. But, tonight, it is to my specifications. From her come-fuck-me heels, up the seam in her stockings, to her bare back, she is every inch a fierce proud being. She is the object I desire, the whore I have marked as mine, and she is dressed this time to please only me. I can see pride in the slight arch to her back as she kneels in the center of the room. And it should be there. I am proud to claim my precious whore. She is proud to be mine, to keep choosing that in every moment.

I felt the heart-clenching realness of “First Time Since” inside my chest. We’ve all suffered loss like that, sometimes many times over, and yet it doesn’t stop us from (sometimes eventually) opening ourselves up to the potential of experiencing such pain again. Xan’s use of the first person in this story makes the account all the more intimate and devastating…and still, we are rooting for those boots the entire time. 

And so I did, for the first time since. I unleashed my sadism into him, grinding my boot into his dick until tears filled his eyes, slamming my boot into his thighs, raining blows into his chest, a whirlwind of pain to hold him still. I bent him over the horse, ripping his clothes open to my fists and teeth, and did not pause until my cock was poised at his asshole, opening him.

“Falling for Essex” was easily one of my favorite stories for many reasons (some of which I cover in another blog post). One is that as someone who is cis and is fortunate enough to get to share the type of tenderness with trans lovers that Xan lays out in this story, I can’t tell you how much I appreciated this touchingly vulnerable and accurate representation of what (I’ve been told) it can be like for a trans person to get naked for their cis lover for the first time.

He watched Samuel’s face as he thought about being naked with his thighs spread for Daddy. Fuck, had he pushed for too much? He wanted Samuel to know he wanted him, his body, that he wasn’t pre- tending he was with a cis guy. That he took him seriously as a faggot and was planning to take him in all the ways Samuel had asked. He sat watching Samuel, not pushing, just waiting. If he said no, he would get to show him that was okay. If he said yes, he would know the trust was deep on Samuel’s side, too. It’s okay, he tried to tell him with his eyes. You choose, and Daddy will listen and still want you, whatever you decide.

And then there’s the fact that it’s just so damn hot.

“I want to watch you take it on your thighs. Watch you writhe and push yourself. I want it all, no hiding. Can you do that for me?” Damn, it was hard to put it out there, to show his need. But sometimes a top has to beg, too.

Damn. How hot is that??

Xan manages to slip safe words (and safe taps) into the stories without breaking the flow or the sex appeal: “He cut a triangle out of the back of the shirt and stuffed it in Rickie’s mouth, telling him to tap out on the wall if he needed to safe word.”

I can’t tell you how many of my fellow girls have articulated to me desires to be seen the way that the Sir in “How He Likes It” sees his girl.

He was a mirror to my power and grace, showing me how beautiful I was in his eyes, how gorgeous my pain was, how delicious my tears, how very much my desire moved him. That is the best a lover can offer us, to really see us and celebrate what they see. It is a rare and precious thing to be seen and valued for who we are. So often I had been told I was too much, too loud, too smart for my own good, took up too much space, was too needy, too sexual. Sir had other things to say about my hunger, my desire, my size, my power. My reflection in his eyes told me I did not need to hide my need or my self. I could bring it all to him. That I could not possibly be too much for him. It scared me every time, felt risky every time, and was exactly what I wanted.

The depth of intimacy, sexual, yes, but emotional and psychological as well in this collection is startling. It almost made me feel guilty for my voyeurism. Almost. The characters are real, flawed, and cherished by each other in their flaws.

There is no greater high than this, when I give myself over, my need wrapping around another’s. I wanted him, wanted to please him, wanted him to use me, wanted to be given and taken, to be worthy for exchange. Sir began to beat my inner thighs, and I wanted to be sore and bruised for him, ached for it, wanted these men to take exactly what they needed from me.

I won’t give anything away, but I think I held my breath for a good sixty seconds or so while reading “Facing the Dark.” Multiple times.

As someone with an invisible chronic illness, I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to see issues of disability addressed thoroughly as well as elements of it simply woven casually into much of the collection. When disclosing my heart condition to potential play partners, I’ve experienced too many tops who go from looking at me like “I’m going to eat you alive, little girl” to “You poor thing.” Ugh. I hate that. And so to see characters tearing into each other fiercely, not back down from their desires, while checking in about limits they’ve discussed was so very hot. Xan had a lot of beautiful things to say about writing disability into erotica here

“Dancing for Daddy” hit close to home for a Daddy-loving girl like myself.

I trust my Daddy, trust that she will push me, will be good to me, will stop if I need it, will care for me if I fall apart. I trust that she is not like the ones who abused me, that she’s not out to destroy me, but in this for our mutual pleasure. I trust that she will create a safe space for me to be a little girl, just as she trusts me to create a safe space for her to be a Daddy. Part of why we do this is about gender, about that special magic where we each are seen and desired in our complex genders.

It is a strange thing to deliberately choose this. But then so much of sexuality, and especially BDSM, is strange. We are truly perverse, those that choose this. And we fly so high. The danger, the triggers, give this sort of play a charge. It’s electric and exciting and scary as hell. And I love it.

Xan also manages to weave in issues of consent and safer sex without skipping a beat.

Some piece of me notices it is lubed and condomed, and marvels at her skill in doing so without me knowing. She knows that Daddy wants her little girl too much to be bothered with lube and condoms. She also knows that my adult self would never consent to sex without them. This notice is momentary. My headspace is strong, and her cock is large for me even when I am feeling adult. In a child’s headspace, it is gigantic, and I am so afraid she is ripping me open.

I loved hearing a top’s appreciation for such strength in the vulnerability of bottoming in “Strong”—tied up for my gratitude of the depiction of tops in Show Yourself To Me as being human, not impenetrable, and having their own weaknesses and vulnerabilities as well.

She is so strong. I can’t imagine seeking this level of exposure, this level of vulnerability. She awes me.

*  *  *

This was more than just dominance. When I take my masculinity and rub it against her girlness, I feel gigantic, and she is so fragile in comparison. This is one of the lines we ride with this kind of play, and one of the many risks inherent in it is that it might actually reduce her in her own eyes or in mine—that I, or she, might actually be unable to see how strong she is. Part of the intensity comes with the risk. At that moment, I stepped outside the scene just a bit, to check in with myself, to read her a bit closer before sinking back into it.

That level of honesty in the riskiness of this type of play, followed by the accountability and willingness to check in left me breathless.

She once told me, “Being a girl is like being without armor. Sometimes like being without skin even. Your power is in your vulnerability and openness. Most of the time, girl is not a safe thing to be. That’s why I treasure being your girl. It’s a safe place to touch that danger and roll around with it.”

I wrote a story for Sinclair Sexsmith’s site, Sugarbutch Chronicles, recently that focuses on a similar type of vulnerability around embracing one’s girl identity. And after it was published, it left me feeling exposed (as I knew it would, as I consented to and was part of my plan all along), and reading these words while I struggled to sit with those uncomfortable feelings felt like the best type of affirmation. Like I wasn’t alone. Like these parts of me were seen and honored and venerated.

I really appreciated the emphasis put on negotiation, the very real effects of racism in BDSM circles, and having one’s pack around as support when playing with someone new in “The Tale of Jan and Tam.”

Tam drew them out a bit about their kink history, spending time to talk about racist shit in the scene and the way hir pack of kinky queers of color engaged around race. They talked physical capacity, for both of them, and then finished negotiating, establishing limits, shared language (“mercy” for slow down, “please” for hit me harder), and honorifics (Tam said using “Sir” would keep hir anchored). It felt important to name these things, given how deep they were going to go and how little they knew about each other, really. The ritualized conversation over a meal settled them both.

And then how the bottom followed up, providing the grounding the top needed in order to continue on with an intense scene.

“Please, Sir,” Jan said firmly. “I want this so bad. Please hurt me. Please scare me. I am going to stay right here, Sir. I want this.”

Tam relaxed. That’s right. Jan wanted to hold the space with hir.

So rarely do we hear people safe-wording in erotica—in this story, Xan wove in “mercy” a couple times—that character’s “slow down” (or “yellow”) safe-word. Which just goes to show how hot safe-wording can be and how it doesn’t have to break the magic of a scene (unless, of course, it’s a red type safe-word in which case stopping everything is the whole point).

Just stay here, they told themself. Just stay here. You can do it. Tam had on metal claws now and was scratching their chest with them. Damn. Claws on Jan’s nipples felt hot and scary at the same time, and they shivered. Tam gripped their throat with hir claws and growled, and Jan went still, telling themself not to move. Tam pressed even deeper with the claws, and Jan’s heart shot into their throat.

“Mercy,” they whispered. Tam grinned and eased up just a bit on the claws, still holding their throat, just not quite so hard.

*  *  *

What better night than Halloween for transformative play, for going after what they wanted, for engaging in the kind of scene that bridged the skills they knew from topping with a claiming of their desire for pain.

Happy Halloween, y’all! This is my treat for you. ;)

It’s always a good sign when I have to struggle with which quotes to include in a review. Meaning, of course, that I basically wanted to copy and paste the whole damn thing into this blog post for y’all to read. Well executed erotica always takes longer for one to review than one might expect. One tends to get…distracted…from time to time. In the case of this collection, it took me far too long to complete my task at hand because my hands were often occupied with other “tasks.” I hope this high praise inspires you to run out and buy a copy of Show Yourself To Me for yourself. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

For ebook or print copies at Go Deeper Press:

For ebook or print copies on Amazon:

Barnes and Noble:

Posted in Erotica excerpts, Femme, Gender, Inclusivity, Relationships, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Show Yourself To Me: Decolonizing Erotica, Transparency, and Accountability

ShowYourselftoMeCover (1) (1)And because I’m nothing if not verbose when it comes to the written word, one blog post wasn’t enough for me. I thought perhaps we should end with a beginning. On the dedication page of Show Yourself To Me: Queer Kink Erotica, Xan says, “Thanks so much to the folks who have challenged me, particularly around the political implications of my work. I would not be the writer I am today without your efforts.”

I’m pleased to report that Xan was not simply giving lip service with these words. Below I go into detail about a refreshing interaction I had with Xan that demonstrated so clearly Xan’s willingness to be held accountable and also a commitment to transparency and awesome politics. A desire to work toward decolonizing erotica and BDSM (or decolonizing anything in this country, for that matter) will never be met without being called out and called in and its fair share of critique—sometimes harsh, other times gentle. I strive towards the latter with both of these (though, admittedly, I too fail), just as I hope for the same in others. In this case I wanted to gently call attention to one issue of race that came up for me when reading this incredibly thoughtful, inclusive, and transformative collection.

When I was reading “Falling for Essex,” I was so thoroughly entranced by the tale of luscious desire between two Black men—and then I came to a word that pulled me out of the fantasy. I wondered if it would strike a nerve for Black readers or any of my fellow erotica writer/reviewer colleagues who are Black. I was worried that this otherwise magnificently written piece of erotica would turn off anyone who was aware of the political implications of the word “dreads.

In that moment, I was feeling gun-shy to have these types of talks after weeks of being on the receiving end of verbal abuse from folks less willing to do the work around their white privilege. I was feeling beat down around issues of race.

But because I firmly believe it’s not the responsibility of Black folks to educate white folks (Black folks don’t get to choose which days they’ll wake up and confront racism because they have to live the reality of it every single day) I had to say something. Because I woke up that morning with the substantial (and varying, depending on my location/who’s doing the looking) white privilege, because I’m committed to being actively (not passively) anti-racist, because I recently heard Patrisse Cullors (co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement) ask, “What have you done to save Black lives?” and my first thought was, “Not enough. Never enough.”…because of all of this and more, it was my responsibility to address this issue.

Let me be clear. Just because someone isn’t familiar with certain issues of race, colonialism, cultural appropriation and the like, that doesn’t make them racist. Sometimes folks are coming from a place of their own traumas around having these hard conversations and that is what they hear. In every instance I’ve been privy to, Xan has proved to be superbly accountable, open to peer feedback, and impressively anti-racist. (I endeavor to possess the same eloquence and grace that Xan demonstrated to me when confronted with a subject about which I’m perhaps not so well informed.) And us choosing to be transparent about the following interaction only serves to demonstrate this.

When I first wrote Xan, “One thing I’m curious about—have you gotten any feedback about your use of the word ‘dreads’ in the two different stories? (As opposed to ‘locs’?)” I was bracing myself for a defensive response—the kind I’ve heard all too frequently (such as folks telling me that their Black friend has no problem with them using that word.) Instead I was delighted and surprised by Xan’s very thoughtful, accountable response (which Xan happily agreed to me publishing here):

“I hadn’t gotten feedback about that, but given your question, I did some quick research and had I known what I know now about how offensive the term dreads is to some folks and how it is not a term that is currently used very often in African American communities, I would have made different language choices in those two stories.

Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I really appreciate it. It definitely will inform my future work and future editions of the book, should there be another run.”

Receiving those words felt like healing waters rushing over me and for that I was immensely appreciative so I wrote back quickly:

“Wow, Xan, I’m so impressed with your politics and commitment to learning. I’ve been having lots of challenging conversations around race lately—lots of white folks getting defensive and at times verbally violent when I’ve tried to gently call into question comments they’ve made. And you just demonstrated how seamless and beautiful it can be when someone is dedicated to growth. So thank you. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.”

And then it got even better:

“Kiki, Given how many challenging conversations you’ve been having around race lately, I’m glad you felt comfortable to bring this up to me. It means a lot to me that you did. Not just because it gave me an opportunity to learn and self reflect (which I really appreciate), but because it opened the door to this conversation with you.

I am fine with you quoting my response in the review. I’m happy to have these kinds of conversations be part of the public way this book is discussed.

I welcome more feedback or questions as they come up, before or after the review. In fact, I’d be glad to have those conversations. It’s lovely to connect with another writer who cares about talking about race and decolonization and naming places where white supremacy is working in stories. Thank you again for reaching out about this.”

Several factors were at play in how Xan chose to address this issue. First, Xan made it effortless for me. (I didn’t have to do anything! I was prepared to discuss my views and what I’ve been taught by my Black communities, to research and share some articles, and plenty more…but Xan chose to make my job as easy as it could possibly be, finding articles without even my prompting.) Second, Xan acknowledged and showed genuine appreciation for my efforts (which were very little, practically inconsequential). Third, Xan chose to be accountable, to admit a lack of previous awareness of the political implications behind the term. Fourth, Xan made a commitment to do better. Fifth, Xan was super welcoming about us sharing this conversation publicly in order to foster more conversation and, hopefully, growth for us all. For us all to do better. After all, if we don’t enter into these types of conversations with each other, how are we ever expected to grow and learn?

As my brilliant friend Sufia said when I read this series of emails to her, “Yes!!! See? It can be so easy. We don’t have to react from a place of our traumas.” She went on to note that for herself and, she would imagine, many other POCs, getting access to this interaction between Xan and myself makes her all the more desirous of reading Show Yourself To Me. Since then several other members of my mixed and POC communities have echoed similar sentiments.

Xan’s response to me was exactly what I needed. I needed to see that being willing to tackle issues of race doesn’t always mean leaving a conversation feeling beat down, like all your efforts were for naught, like you’re never going to be articulate enough when navigating these choppy waters, like you’re never going to make a difference.

It was a small error. But choosing to say something hopefully made a difference. (I’m not looking for any cookies. No thank you.) What I am hoping for in choosing to post this is that it’ll inspire other folks with various privileges to step up. That it’ll encourage white folks to do their best to not get defensive (or react from a place of trauma) and instead own their lack of awareness or lack of first-hand experience on a subject, check their white guilt and privilege, and step into their responsibility to learn and grow and educate and do better. Let’s all do better, yes?

I encourage a conversation about these issues (and any other that may come up for you) in the comment section below. I also wholeheartedly welcome any feedback about how I can personally be held accountable for my words and actions, learn, grow, and do better.

If you haven’t already, please check out the other stops on Xan West’s Show Yourself To Me blog tour! There are so many fascinating perspectives in there!

Book Description:

In Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica, Xan West introduces us to pretty boys and nervous boys, vulnerable tops and dominant sadists, good girls and fierce girls and scared little girls, mean Daddies and loving Daddies and Daddies that are terrifying in delicious ways.

Submissive queers go to alleys to suck cock, get bent over the bathroom sink by a handsome stranger, choose to face their fears, have their Daddy orchestrate a gang bang in the park, and get their dream gender-play scene—tied to a sling in an accessible dungeon.

Dominants find hope and take risks, fall hard and push edges, get fucked and devour the fear and tears that their sadist hearts desire.

Within these 24 stories, you will meet queers who build community together, who are careful about how they play with power, who care deeply about consent. You will meet trans and genderqueer folks who are hot for each other, who mentor each other, who do the kind of gender play that is only possible with other trans and genderqueer folks.

This is Show Yourself to Me. Get ready for a very wild ride.

Xan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, a recent transplant to Oakland from Brooklyn, who has been doing community kink education for over ten years. Xan has been published in over 35 erotica anthologies, including the Best S/M Erotica seriesthe Best Gay Erotica series, and the Best Lesbian Erotica series. Xan’s story “First Time Since,” won honorable mention for the 2008 National Leather Association John Preston Short Fiction Award. Xan’s work has been described by reviewers as “offering the erotica equivalent of happy ever after” and as “some of the best transgressive erotic fiction to come along in recent years.”

Xan refuses pronouns, twists barbed wire together with yearning, and tilts pain in many directions to catch the light. Xan adores vulnerable tops; strong, supportive bottoms; red meat; long winding conversations about power, privilege, and community; showtunes; and cool, dark, quiet rooms with comfortable beds. Find Xan’s thoughts about the praxis of sex, kink, queerness, power, and writing at

Posted in Accountability, Decolonization, Erotica, Race, Reviews, Transparency | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Healthy Appetite

AUT-AppetitesI figured it was about time to get around to excerpting from an anthology that includes one of my stories, Appetites: Tales of Lesbian Lust. Edited by the illustrious Ily Goyanes, Appetites is the first part of Lizzie’s Bedtime Stories series.

Despite the word “lesbian” appearing in the subtitle, I love that my editor didn’t bat an eyelash at me using the gender neutral pronouns (they/them/theirs) for one of my characters. If I’m not mistaken, I believe it’s my first published piece that explicitly uses gender neutral pronouns. A rarity in erotica, I predict you’ll be seeing the third-person singular used more frequently, especially among queer writers.

Below is an excerpt from my contribution to the collection, “Lucky in Lust.” It skips around a bit, hence the asterisks.

Never one to get all mushy over Valentine’s Day, I’m the type who prefers the hedonistic celebrations of Lupercalia, conveniently falling on the same day. An ancient holiday that invoked fertility, incited orgies, and glorified the use of bloodied knives and whips is much more my speed. So as to honor my kindred feriado, I found a little space to set up a makeshift altar and dug mis ofrendas out of my bag. I placed a small knife, red maca root, and a leather strap in front of a candle, whispering blessings of gratitude as I lit it, wondering who had left me that note. Then I read it one last time, setting its lines to memory, and lifted its edge to the flame. A final oblation.

*  *  *

In between me biting their shoulder and them sucking on my clavicle, we shed bits of clothing like an art form. We were loath to break away even momentarily, so the process was quite drawn out, teasing out our desire all the more. I straddled Quinn, delighted to discover they were packing, and thrust mi lengua back into their mouth. Their moan traveled down the back of my throat, reverberating inside my chest. I lowered myself, grinding against their cock, wetness seeping through my panties and undoubtedly leaving the front of their jeans quite damp. Eventually the jeans came off and I tugged on the leather straps of their harness while they pressed their cock up against my cunt. Quinn balled their fist around the hair at the nape of my neck, yanking my head back and I clawed at their flesh. They ran their hands down my back, then grabbed me by the hips, forcing me down harder as I pressed my palms into their biceps, a feigned resistance. The constant push and pull contrasting beautifully while intensifying the tension between us. Our electricity was undeniable, indescribable, and utterly ethereal.

And then it was gone.

“Call time,” Quinn stated matter-of-factly, pulling their jeans back on.

“But…I want…” I began to plead as they were already buckling their belt.

“It’s good for a girl to want things,” Quinn interrupted with a fiendish grin over their shoulder as they exited the room, leaving my desire that hung in the balance all the more wantonly delectable.

*  *  *

The crowd ate Quinn up and as their story wound down, I prepared to take the stage next. Drawing in a deep breath to ground myself, I invoked the essence of Lupercalia, channeling the spirits of both those who had done the whipping and the ones who had taken the lashes. The audience would be my orgy. Drunk on that bit of moxie I had hit Quinn with before they read, I was sovereignty embodied as I made my way up the few stairs and into the spotlight. My nerves were delayed, only hitting me once I looked out. Palpable and pulsing in time with the vitality of the room, quite apropos to the sanguine festival I had conjured, I was called to harness the force of my heartbeat. So I took a moment, cerrando los ojos, breathing in the energy of this wanton holiday, of all the audience had to offer, of what was to come afterward and I exhaled, standing taller in my power.

There’s something so ineffably sexy about being on stage. I don’t particularly enjoy it — I’ve been affectionately dubbed a reluctant starlet because of my lack of love for the limelight — but I can never stay away for too long. That night I realized it was the power exchange that had always drawn me in. Yes, I was gifting the audience with my most libidinous turnings of phrase, but they gave back in equal measure, allowing themselves to be consumed by my words. I told them tales of my most lascivious exploits, dishing out details I’d normally be too shy to even share with lovers, spiraling into a vortex of lechery and fire. They hung on every word, hungry for more, my ardor filling the room. They devoured my desire. Entre la multitud, two sets of eyes in particular undressed me as I owned that stage, doing all kinds of questionable acts to my body throughout my performance. And I won’t deny that I relished every last drop of their attentions.

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Love Letter to Minnie Bruce Pratt (An Homage to Leslie Feinberg)


Photo credit: Leslie Feinberg

I’ll always recall what I was thinking of when I heard that Leslie Feinberg had died. Because, coincidentally enough, I was thinking about her partner of 22 years, Minnie Bruce Pratt. I had just finished commenting on a friend’s blog post. A fellow femme, Jen Cross, wrote quite eloquently and brazenly about her “fury around queermasculine privilege” (please go read it and comment!). After commenting, I hopped over to Facebook to share it there. As soon as I hit “post,” I saw the first mention about Leslie’ death in my feed. And within two minutes, ten of my friends had shared the obit that Minnie Bruce and Leslie’s chosen family had so lovingly penned. Thirty seconds later I was closing my laptop. It was too much. I’m not one who enjoys having an internet presence and so I’ve never actually seen something go viral before. I’m usually a few days (or months) late to the party. So it felt overwhelming to watch this tragic news pour in so quickly.

I went outside to rake up rain-soaked leaves from my front yard. Every week I do the same thing this time of year and every week, my yard is covered again the very next day. A thankless and seemingly unending chore that often goes unnoticed, it’s precisely the type of work that I love. I don’t do it because I’m looking to get thanked nor do I need anyone to notice. I do it because it needs to be done. And I enjoy how it gets me out of my head a bit and more into my body while acting as a form of meditation. But that evening I couldn’t get out of my head. Beads of sweat mixed with tears streaming down my cheeks, salting my lips. I couldn’t stop thinking about Minnie Bruce. I had originally been thinking about her because Jen’s blog brought to mind the idea of how femmes often take up thankless and seemingly unending chores that go unnoticed. I thought about how Leslie (rightfully and thankfully) received great notoriety in our communities, but Minnie Bruce’s comparable efforts, though certainly not unsung, have not been held in quite as high of esteem. I questioned why femmes aren’t properly valued, supported, and given the amount of respect they deserve by our communities.

In the few days that have passed since Leslie’s death, I have struggled with writing and rewriting this post. I still feel like I haven’t done justice to what I’m trying to get at, but the time has come to just put it out there in the world. I’ve posed many questions because I see this as an ongoing dialogue — I’m questioning our communities, the world at large, and also myself. So many friends and strangers who are all part of this larger community have shared beautiful tributes to Leslie — they’ve said just about everything I could and so much more that I couldn’t. So instead of focusing primarily on Leslie, I’m choosing to write about hir partner, Minnie Bruce Pratt, and also about the struggle — both being so near and dear to Leslie’s heart (though certainly in very different ways). In the acknowledgements of Stone Butch Blues, Leslie bestowed praise upon the femmes in hir life, stating, “…[I]f I couldn’t take criticism from a femme I wouldn’t be here today telling this story!” Leslie was an activist through and through and I can only imagine that zie  would appreciate this slightly different take on an homage, in my desire to honor hir brilliant, proud femme.

Searching the internet, I click on a photo of the two of them, each holding a political banner. Leslie is named. Minnie Bruce is not. I google Lyme, another part of the picture, and I find so much conflicting and often times blatantly wrong information. As I reflect on today being Transgender Day of Remembrance, I can’t even bring myself to search out the number of trans women (the majority of whom are POC) who have been murdered this past year. This post began in my head as a tribute to one of my powerful femme role models. But how can I talk about femme without other bits of intersectionality creeping in? Ablism, racism, transphobia, femmephobia, misogyny…the list goes on and on…and it’s all connected. (It pains me that I can’t do any one of them justice.) If only we could do better by our people. How can we do better by our people? (And, perhaps, people who do not feel like our people, but in actuality really are.) What would a world look like where no one got left behind?

I want to voice something clearly that hasn’t been addressed nearly enough in all the coverage and responses to Leslie’ death. Leslie Feinberg died because of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Late stage Lyme is something no one should have to suffer, yet it all too frequently isn’t recognized by the medical community (who, at large, is terribly misinformed about Lyme and other co-infections). Leslie didn’t have to die from these diseases. Zie should have had access to medical care that could’ve helped hir at least fight off infections. Although I do not know the exact details of how Leslie died, I know all too well the stories of how insurance companies across the board deny chronic Lyme even exists in order to not have to shell out money to treat it. Unless one is incredibly wealthy, it is basically impossible to be treated for Lyme in this country. As a chronically ill person myself, I’m quite familiar with how challenging it is to be partnered to someone with chronic illness. I feel that our health care system (or rather, lack thereof) is completely reprehensible and downright shameful, particularly where it concerns (or prefers not to concern itself with) Lyme disease. There also aren’t sufficient outlets and support for those who care for their disabled lovers and who, albeit indirectly, also have to endure the effects.

I’m grateful that Leslie no longer has to endure those pains and I’m deeply saddened that our communities have lost such a commendable soul so unnecessarily early. But most of all, I feel for Minnie Bruce who has lost her partner and, yes, gets to go on living, but with a pain that is unimaginable to most of us. My chest seizes up at the thought. They had been together longer than I have been out of the closet. I’m 36 now and at fifteen, I had come to terms with being queer, but I didn’t know where to look to for role models. I was fortunate enough to have found them in this beautiful couple only a few short years later. Even then, as I grew into my queer identity, I couldn’t have fathomed a queer couple so dedicated to one another. And today I feel consumed by a rising tide of grief when I think of what the loss of Leslie must feel like to Minnie Bruce.


So I’m writing to honor the life of one of our greats by honoring hir femme, one who is still with us, who is still here to fight the good fight. It’s necessary and right to pay our respects to the recently (and not-so-recently) departed. But let’s not forget the living. Let’s honor our femmes. Let’s respect our trans women. Let’s battle racism. Let’s fight for our Lymies. Let’s have an impact on all the isms and phobias everywhere from a local to a global scale. Let’s question why essential members of our communities — trans women, POCs, femmes, and Lymies alike — aren’t getting the airtime they deserve. And then let’s do something out of our ordinary, go out of our way, step outside of our comfort zones, and do our best to right the wrongs both small and significant. Let’s live the example laid forth in both Minnie Bruce and Leslie’s own fierce feminist and activist politics.

Although it is not largely my personal experience, I bear witness to (and am weighed down by) the historical fact that more feminine-presenting folks have lived in the shadows of their more masculine-presenting counterparts and partners. Which is not to say that femmes haven’t ever achieved success or fame — of course they have — just not across the board or even individually to the extent that butches have. In my own community, on a much smaller level, I see how events supporting more masculine-presenting folks are more well-attended than those supporting feminine-presenting folks. With the one great exception being at burlesque-type shows where femmes take their clothes off. And I wonder, what’s this all about? What are we doing if we’re not supporting our own locally? If we’re not taking care of our own locally, how can we possibly put efforts toward effecting change on a global scale?

My heart keeps returning to Minnie Bruce. This femme, this living legend, this strong woman whose efforts have been life-changing for me. While Stone Butch Blues opened my eyes to another world, Minnie Bruce’s S/HE broke my own world wide open. The way Minnie Bruce wrote about femme, having lived it, breathing it into reality, she was the first I ever read that made femme make sense for me. She survives the death of her partner and she has survived so much. In the tellings of her tales, she thwarts misogyny, she brings light to the notion that femmeness deserves to be revered, and she offers so many of us another way. Minnie Bruce teaches us that there is something sacred in our re-owning of femininity, in queering it and turning it on its head. She weaves poetry and erotica into her prose. Her poetry reads like a squeezing inside my chest. I cannot tell you how many femme hands (and those of a few good butches) have turned the pages of my well-worn copies of her works, committing lines to memory that I underlined with my pink pencil back in the 90s.

I first read Stone Butch Blues in my late teens, just after having read S/HE for the first time — my favorite book of Minnie Bruce’s to which I have returned again and again through the years. I had barely begun to inch my way towards my femme identity. Hadn’t yet quite realized that queered masculinity was the epitome of my sexual desire. Yet both books resonated deeply with me. And when I heard Leslie would be speaking at my then girlfriend’s university, I was there, with my book in hand. Only once I spotted Minnie Bruce in the crowd did my heart sink — I had left my copy of S/HE at home, not having thought of the possibility of her being there. I was too shy to go up to her. Had I had my book, I could’ve hid behind wanting an autograph, though I longed to glean so much more from her. The femme I’ve grown into today wouldn’t dare miss such an opportunity, no matter how much my hands would shake and voice quiver. But I watched her quietly from the sidelines.

That evening I witnessed how Minnie Bruce supported her partner as zie was bathed in limelight. She watched on lovingly as the young queers all surrounded Leslie, butches-in-training longing for a firm handshake, baby femmes just wanting to be near hir, the rest of us looking for an autograph or a word of advice that would make the senselessness of a cruel world all make sense. Or at least make it more tolerable.  It wasn’t until the throngs began to skim down that Minnie Bruce took her rightful place at Leslie’s side. And I took them in. The subtlety of their interactions that would be my root for butch/femme dynamics. I so deeply respected how Leslie sang Minnie Bruce’s praises, even though everyone was there to see hir. But I don’t claim to know what their everyday life was like, how misogyny affected them, how each of them felt about the fact that Leslie’s works received more attention than Minnie Bruce’s. I keep wondering if perhaps Minnie Bruce is much like me — introverted to the point of being uncomfortable in even the slightest shimmer of limelight and someone who prefers to play a supporting role — but somehow I doubt that’s the whole story. I keep coming back to her literary career. Why aren’t her books as well read in our communities?

I like to think that our much treasured fallen hero, Leslie Feinberg, is smiling at the fact that I’m paying homage to hir by honoring the femme who stood so proudly by her side, the equally heroic Minnie Bruce Pratt. A brilliant writer whose works still have yet to receive the laurels they deserve, an activist whose efforts haven’t been heralded, a femme whose chores are often thankless, go unnoticed, and are unending. The partner to Leslie who, in ways little and large, made it possible for Leslie to be the writer and activist we all hold in such high regard.

There’s this beautiful line in S/HE likening butch/femme lovers to a pestle grinding against mortar that I wish I could quote but, naturally, my copy is loaned out to my femmily and I’ve had no luck with googling it. So instead I’ll share a quote from the book that I found on Minnie Bruce’s webpage that she calls “Kisses (for Leslie)”: “I have waited years for you who wants to flaunt me on her arm, my face radiant with desire, as if I’d put my face deep into a lily, heavy with pollen, and raised it to you, smeared and smelly with butter yellow, sated but not yet satisfied, our meal not yet finished as I cling to you in the aisle of the dilapidated diner.”

Here’s to unfinished meals.


Photo credit: Robert Giard

Minnie Bruce, I see you, I pay tribute to all you’ve accomplished and continue to accomplish in this lifetime, and I’m grateful. Thank you for teaching me how to handle myself with well-meaning strangers when they misgender my lovers. Thank you for your examples of love between femmes and loving ourselves as femme so that we could love our butches more thoroughly. Thank you for being a role model of not only powerful femme, but also successful butch/femme relationships. Thank you for paving the way for all the femmes who have followed, and will continue to follow, in your high heeled footsteps. (Until we ditch the heels and just go barefoot.) We were in desperate need of you back then and we continue to look to you today, more confident in our own femmeness because of the beautiful femme you are.

Leslie, may you rest in power and in peace. Thank you for all you gave us in an exemplary life that was cut much too short. Minnie Bruce, may you live and thrive and grieve and heal and continue to flourish as an inspiration to us all.

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Snogging for Sommer! Win a free prize!

asnogforsummerToday I’m snogging for Sommer Marsden, a fabulous fellow erotica writer who is more than deserving of our support. Please click on the Smut For Good banner above to learn more, to help her family fight cancer, and to visit other writers’ blogs where you can read their kissing excerpts and win other prizes! But before you do, read on to see how you can win my prize!

Heartfirst ChapbookI’m giving away a copy of my chapbook, Heartfirst, to one lucky reader (chosen at random) who either comments below or tweets this link:         (don’t forget to tag me so I know that you shared the link). Or blog it, facebook it, do whatever kids are doing these days to get the word out–just be sure to either tag me somehow or send me the evidence. :) I’ll give you 48 hours because I’m feeling generous.

A bit about my snogging excerpt: I had to dig around quite a bit to find just one kissing scene in my erotica. I finally found the only mention of a kiss in my entire chapbook (that’s some dirty writing!) and was delightfully surprised where it surfaced. This excerpt is from a story entitled For the Moment, originally published in Sudden Sex: 69 Sultry Stories, edited by Alison Tyler (who I like to call the prominent princess of pornographic prose).

I looked up just as she parted her lips with the tip of her tongue, meeting another pair of lips. Even through the crimson darkness I could tell it was hard, deep, hot. My ultimate butch-on-butch fantasy coming to life. I had felt them moving on top of me—knew it was inevitable and was quite pleased it was happening so soon—sensed its fruition just in time to catch that first glimpse of my own personal goddess-sent, ambrosia-dripping dream. As the intensity of the kiss mounted, their fingers—working individually, then in tandem, then separately again—increased the intensity with which they fucked my cunt. They stretched me wider as the two pairs of lips worked each other over and two pairs of hands heightened my already sensitive sense of touch. Surprised by each new movement, varying changes in tempo, one pressing harder here, the other lighter there, switching my entire body into high alert with their notable differences, their shared passions—growing even more fervent as we built upon the blaze.

I gasped, sunk my teeth into flesh, screamed out, grasped for whatever was within reach, as one twisted her fist into my cunt and the other worked her hand into my ass. Realizing I had again been squeezing my eyes closed, so completely absorbed in the all-but-overwhelming sensation, I consciously engaged my field of vision to take in these beautiful butches—admiring the definition of their muscles, lines cut sharply across their unique strengths, intention set deeply in each of their faces.

Please don’t forget to visit other writers’ blogs who are also Snogging for Sommer today, win prizes, donate if you can, and share widely! Oh, and comment or share the link to win my prize! Yay!!

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My Rainbow Shelfie is Gaymous!

rainbow shelfieI have super big exciting news that I’m just here to tease you about because I can’t exactly share said super big exciting news just yet. It’s barely in the beginning stages…so just know to stay tuned. ;) And I’ll dish just as soon as I’m able. I promise! But I’m not an all-tease-and-no-play sort of gal, so until I can share the news, please scoot on over to Alison Tyler’s recent post that made my fabulous rainbow shelfie gaymous! And see what I have to say about my love of color-coded bookshelves and why so much erotica is lying on the top. (Not-so)secret: She’ll make your shelfie famous (or gaymous–depending upon its orientation) too! She’s a real giver, that prominent princess of pornographic prose!

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