The lovely Susie Bright interviewed all of the authors of her new anthology, X: The Erotic Treasury, which is a very sexy coffee table book in lush packaging that has come out just in time for the holidays.
Here is the interview Susie did with me!
Have you ever won an award for any of your talents?
I was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards in Lesbian Debut Fiction -- then censored by Lambda because my work was dubbed "too straight."
I also won the spelling bee in elementary school, ultimately choking on the word "gangrene" at regionals.
Tell me how you would cast the film version of your story... just for fun!
Lead Girl: Chloe Sevigny
Daddy Billy - I would do a cattle call for a gruff no-name butch stud
Octopus Man - William H. Macy
Octopus Man's Girlfriend, Cherry - Kathy Bates, wearing something spandex-y from Target
Octopus Boi - Rufus Wainwright playing a disabled tranny boi
Random Carnies - Other Wainwrights
What kind of reactions have you had to your story? It apparently became a big deal on a locked bulletin board for amputee fetishists...
As far as I could tell, amputee fetishists were doing untoward things with prosthetics while rolling around on a giant Braille scroll of my story -- or something like that (sadly, I never got in either)!
As for reactions, someone turned the story into an incredible dirty poem. It was translated into Italian. I performed some similar work by video later at a couple of disability-focused erotica events.
What is your own life "in the circus"? Did you like carnivals as a child?
My own experience with carnivals looked a lot like David Foster Wallace's essay on the Illinois State Fair.
Those Illinois fairs (the McLean County fair, the Kroger parking lot fair, the annual Corn Festival) spelled out my budding erotic: mostly the image of the 4-H tent with its neat stitches and carefully hemmed adolescent desires swirling around absurdly delicious cakes and then abutting the swine tent with unapologetic grit and dropped corn dogs covered in Carny cigarette butts. My whole erotic feeling is something akin to picking up the dropped corn dog, taunting the swine, eating as much cake as possible, then letting out those so-perfect seams.
What's so hot at those fairs is the sense of hemmed chaos that is about to break, as the footpaths get rutted and muddy, the carnies lose their patience and do sadistic things with ride gears, and the cut-off jeans get snagged on teenage lust.
Do you hear from people saying, "Oh dear, you're making our oppressed minority look bad, can't you be more sensitive...." or is that era over?
Frankly, I don't think disabled folks ever even got enough recognition to get on the p.c. radar.
I took a course at Oberlin called "Theorizing Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality in Contemporary Capitalism," where we sat around in a circle talking about the intersections of our so-called oppression— but disability just did not exist.
Disability has always been in a fringe space, fringe mainly because it is all about the body and all of the aspects of the body that freak people out. So disabled people usually don't get worked up about radical sex because they are used to their bodies being put under the most literal microscopes, poked and prodded and subjected to telethon-esque social freak shows. Even the conservative disabled bodies are just, on some level, living a queer sexuality.
So when someone comes along and writes about disabled bodies seizing pleasure, disabled folks are generally psyched about the visibility and the notion (not often shared by social institutions) that sexual pleasure is their birthright.
In contrast, even the most open-minded sex radicals sometimes flinch at the idea that some people find prosthetic legs as hot as prosthetic cocks, insane levels of transcendence can bloom out of physical restrictions, and injured young veterans are damned well going to fuck their girlfriends when they get out of the rehab hospital.
I was just re-reading a 1999 essay by Patrick Califia in which he talks about how, when he became a sex writer with an acquired disability, people were "so overwhelmed by cognitive dissonance because of my disability that they've literally tried to take the cane away from me."
Do you think limited mobility and kink have any special understanding together?
This is a fantastic question -- and yes! I was thinking about how, with an illness characterized by immobility, it's so hot for me to hear a partner snarl "hold still" or "don't you dare move" — or even just to move my limbs around like a ragdoll.
It's something about recognizing all of the receding corners that are in a person --whether those are dark fantasies, literal parameters, or limits that can be pushed a little bit.
Lovers who never fuck in rote mode, who just learn where the lines are and exactly how to thrill on those tracks, are the hottest lovers ever. Plus there is the inherent social queerness of disability that just makes it kinky. There is also a discipline that can come out of sex with a disability, a honed Zen-like awareness.
Imagine you have pain all over your body, and what it means for a lover to just run a finger along the one place you feel pleasure, the increased valuation of that pleasure in contrast to your daily life. Disability also often forces reinvention, which can just make even the most placid activity kinky.
I have had to study all of the textures of stillness. Lovers have appreciated both how embodied I have to be because I have to stay attuned to my physical status, and how non-literal I am about the body at the same time, because I'm used to adding and subtracting extensions to the flesh in all sorts of ways.
What comes to mind when you consider your ancestors?
My aunt did some genealogy and found abolitionists as well as Amish in my family tree, which explains why I think this Amish tradition called "bundling" is really hot (it involves lying with someone under a quilt and seeing how long you can resist temptation).
My recent ancestors on Mom's side were Germanic farm stock, John Deere to the marrow, and I grew up the youngest grandchild of some huge farm families that had amazing. My Dad was part of the local media (with the morning radio drive time shift) before everything went corporate. My aunt worked as a criminal pathologist at the LA County Coroner's Office, which handles most of the famous Hollywood autopsies, and this always brought a freak element to holiday dinners, when it wasn't unusual to hear about an autoerotic asphyxiation case while Grandma was dishing out mashed rutabagas.