Friday, 27 January 2017
Italian, c. 1490 - 1576
Venus with a Mirror, c. 1555
oil on canvas
National Gallery, London
“From the man after whom "masochism" was named comes a sexual fetish novel inspired by the author’s own life.”
Venus with a Mirror, by Titian is the image from which Severin gets the idea of Venus in furs.
“Slavery is a vocation comparable and equal in everyway to any religious calling.”
Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836 – 1895) was an Austrian writer and journalist who embraced utopian thinking; socialism and humanism were the ideals that human beings should aim for. Von Sacher-Masoch was born in a province of the Austrian Empire and studied law and history. He became a man of letters and an editor of a progressive magazine. He is best known for writing a series of short stories that expressed his fantasies and fetishes. The term ‘masochism’ was derived from his name by the psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing.
Venus in furs is the best known of his works; it is the only piece of his work to be translated into English. The novella was intended to be part of an epic series that Sacher-Masoch envisioned called Legacy of Cain. Venus in Furs was just one part of “Love”; the first volume of the series. It was published in 1870.
Sacher-Masoch’s novella reads like an instruction manual for Dominants and submissives. The narrative concerns a man who dreams of speaking to Venus about love while the goddess wears furs. The unnamed narrator tells his dreams to a friend, Severin, who tells him how to break his fascination with cruel women by reading a manuscript, Memoirs of a Suprasensual Man.
Severin, the protagonist of the manuscript, is infatuated with Wanda von Dunajew. Wanda is not only beautiful, but wealthy. All that Severin asks of her is that she treats him brutally. He wants to be abused emotionally and physically. Throughout the novella Severin encourages her to treat him in progressively more degrading ways. He is routinely whipped and humiliated.
At first Wanda does not understand or accede to the request, but after humouring Severin, she finds the advantages of the method to be interesting and enthusiastically embraces the idea, although at the same time she disdains Severin for allowing her to do so.
Severin describes his feelings during these experiences as suprasensuality.
Leaving the Carpathian mountains for Florence, Wanda makes Severin dress and act like a common servant, forcing him to sleep in disgusting quarters and keeping him isolated from her company unless needed to serve some whim or another. These changes make Severin feel the palpable reality of his desires. They are a reality that he was in no way prepared for; while he loathes his detestable new position, he finds himself unable to resist, and to keep from requesting new humiliations. At times Wanda offers to put an end to their game, because she still has feelings of affection toward him, but those feelings fade as her mantle of power gives her free rein to use Severin for her increasingly twisted device. In Florence, Wanda recruits a trio of African women to dominate him.
"To be the slave of a woman, a beautiful woman, whom I love, whom I worship - !"
"And who mistreats you for it," Wanda broke in, laughing.
"Yes, who ties me up and whips me, who kicks me when she belong to another man."
The relationship arrives at a crisis when Wanda herself meets a man to whom she would like to submit, a Byronic hero known as Alexis Papadopolis. At the end of the book, Severin, humiliated by Wanda's new lover, loses the desire to submit.
Sacher-Masoch makes it absolutely clear that Severin’s life has no apparent shape or meaning unless he is able to express his desire for a commanding, withholding woman. The electrical charge that Severin feels when he kneels at a woman’s feet, sensing her anger and the bristling of the furs she wears, gives him his identity; a presence to be trampled on.
Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch drew from his own masochistic experience with Baroness Fanny Von Pistor. He agreed to be her slave, and renounce all claim on his own life; she could even kill him if she wished, and this is reflected in Venus in Furs. The "contract" gives Wanda, or "Mistress" free rein to make Severin suffer in a variety of ways; whipping him regularly, kicking him around, starving him, torturing him emotionally. And Severin is in his element. In fact, he begs her to punish him "I want to be your dog". As long as she wears her furs whilst doing it, he is happy and fulfilled.
I enjoyed Venus in Furs. I had to keep reminding myself that it was written in 1869. Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch’s prose style is relaxed and he deals with intense needs and desires in an impersonal, matter of fact manner. Submission was Sacher-Masoch’s own fetish and he voices startlingly modern sentiments. It is a passionate and powerful portrayal of one man's struggle to enlighten and instruct himself, and others in the realm of desire.
As writers of erotica I think that there is a lot we can learn from Sacher-Masoch. He places the darker side of desire unequivocally at the heart of any discussion about sadomasochism. In writing about his own fetish he is stating his position quite clearly. This is what I am; get used to it!
He manages to convey an erotic experience, an erotic journey without a single prick, cock, cum, pussy, cunt, fanny, erection or genitalia. He has a unique sense of imagery; he writes in a visual way which has made the book accessible to stage and film adaptations.
So should I take Sacher-Masoch’s book as literature or as psychology --or as erotica? It doesn’t matter; there’s no question that this book, has left a distinct mark on my own imagination. Highly recommended!
'Venus in Furs' arrived at my home, delivered by mail. A gift from my dear, sweet friend Jan Vander Laenen! Thank you Jan!
Friday, 20 January 2017
Do relationships suck too?
Just in time for Valentines’ Day, I am returning with the long-awaited sequel to my novel MONOGAMY SUCKS entitled RELATIONSHIPS SUCK which poses this provocative question.
My novel RELATIONSHIPS SUCK, which is available on Amazon and Smashwords, continues MONOGAMY SUCKS’ protagonist Jake Dalmas’ naughty and hilarious swinging and casual sex adventures while also depicting his issues and frustrations with relationships, particularly open relationships.
Jake is not alone. Recent surveys and studies indicate that all is not well with the world of relationships. A recent study presented at the American Psychological Association’s Annual Convention found that being single could be more fulfilling, due to greater personal growth and development.
A recent Pew Research Center study about the state of romance in America indicated that “most young singles in America do not describe themselves as actively looking for romantic partners. Even those who are seeking relationships are not dating frequently. About half (49%) had been on no more than one date in the previous three months.”
So many struggle with relationships and yet we keep looking for happiness just as Jake does. Even with an open relationship, Jake encounters the same difficulties. I believe this book is funny and intriguing like my first novel, MONOGAMY SUCKS, and even sexier and naughtier in parts. RELATIONSHIPS SUCK moves Jake’s story forward in cool and sexy ways.
Juliette, Jake’s sexy Asian artist girlfriend, returns for the sequel, as do a couple of other nefarious characters from the first novel. The sequel introduces a new character named Simone, a beautiful African American art gallery manager and a friend of Juliette.
Jake, Juliette, and Simone explore some scintillating erotic intercolor encounters together that are among the novel’s naughtiest scenes and some of the hottest and sexiest writing I have ever done. I am looking forward to the response from readers.
As Jake finally begins to discover the tantalizing adventures of his wild fantasies – threesomes, orgies, wild couplings with beautiful, uninhibited exotic sexy women of every size, shape, and background – he continues to question whether he should be in a relationship at all.
Can his open love with Juliette survive the temptations of the swinging world?
Will jealousy and possessiveness break their daring bond?
This next chapter of Jake’s naughty diary promises the frank humor and naughty swinging adventure that characterized the original novel, but also provides a clear-eyed view of swinging lifestyle and relationships and the limits of each for him.
I am very happy with how my sequel to MONOGAMY SUCKS has turned out. I have recaptured Jake’s sardonic, humorous voice from the original novel while also showing how he has grown as a person through his experiences. It has been a long journey as I started this book seven years ago before my former publisher originally launched MONOGAMY SUCKS.
I am thankful for the help I received from fellow author Billierosie, known as @jojojojude on Twitter, who gave my novel one final copy edit.
Many thanks also to book cover artist Dancinee Jennings who worked with me to put together this book’s cover as well. She also helped me previously with the cover for my indie version of MONOGAMY SUCKS.
What’s next for me?
Soon I will be working on a science fiction novella based on a short story I wrote when he was 18, and later this year, I will republish my novel DEAR HEF, which explores online dating and sex and has a provocative celebrity angle, on Amazon and Smashwords.
Until then, I am thrilled to share the return of Jake’s naughty diary and hilarious journey.
Dear reader, I am looking forward to your response as always.
Saturday, 7 January 2017
TOPPING FROM BELOW, by Laura Reese, is not for the fainthearted. I started reading it with trepidation; the book at arms’ length. I had a good idea where it was going -- and I didn’t know if I’d be able to handle it. I’d written a feature for my blog, on bestiality in literature. Why was it so taboo; it’s in classical art and literature, so why are editors and publishers so fearful of going anywhere near it?
So there I was, with the real thing in my hand -- and I was scared. I’d been quite brave in my essay -- at least, I thought I had. I’d had a lot of intelligent response; one in particular from Neve Black, who’d recommended TOPPING FROM BELOW to me. What was there to be afraid of?
I knew the book contained the real act: yes, bestiality. Neve had told me. So with chilly uncertainty nipping at my fingertips, I opened the book and started to read.
I’m tempted to describe this book as a ‘decline and fall,’ story. But it isn’t really that, because there is no fall. There’s no retribution, because the narrator doesn’t recognise that she’s done anything wrong. No sin has been committed. By the end of the book, she understands that something has been drawn out of her; something that should have remained hidden.
Nora knows who killed her sister, Franny. She knows without a doubt. The culprit has been questioned, but no charges have been made.
Nora is determined to prove his guilt and have him brought to justice; it is how she goes about this that elevates TOPPING FROM BELOW, from dark pornography, to a powerful, beautifully crafted story.
Nora’s suspect is a charismatic sadomasochist. Franny, her murdered sister, had fallen under his spell and Nora sets about taking Franny’s place. She learns of Franny’s degradation and humiliation and learns how Franny embraced one perversion after another, just to please the man she believed loved her. The difference between the two sisters, is that Franny’s actions filled her with self loathing. Nora accepts each perversion as a new way of life.
In her closing chapter, Nora, the narrator, tells us;
“M awakened in me passions I didn’t know existed…”
But she is reconciled within herself. Nora continues;
“A year ago I would’ve said there was a clear line separating the good from the evil. I would’ve said that evilness belonged in the netherworld and that evil men existed beyond the peripheries of decency. Now I’m not so sure. I believe that there is a dark side that belongs to us all, lying beneath the surface of our humanity, twisted extreme and savage in some of us, less severe in others, but always present and always at struggle with the civilised soul…”
There are dark places in our hearts; those secret doors that are best left closed.
I’m glad I read Laura Reese’s book and I am so glad that Neve Black recommended it to me. As I said TOPPING FROM BELOW, isn’t for the fainthearted. It’s challenging and confrontational -- but it’s also a damn good story I definitely recommend it, and I shall certainly be reading it again. When Neve first told me about Laura Reese’ book it was out of print, but I was lucky enough to get it via a private seller. Thankfully, it is now back in print.
Published in 1995, TOPPING FROM BELOW is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US in hard copy and as a Kindle e-read.