Friday, 24 April 2015


Eric Keys’ book; “For the Glory,” will shock and disturb you. It is meant to. It’s a bdsm story; it’s hot, it’s very, very sexy – it also has a 19 year old protagonist with a vile attitude. Ilsa is violently, irrepressibly anti-Semitic.

“Ilsa was driven by rage when she met Saul. He was everything she despised, but he saw something more in her. But does he have the determination to break through Ilsa's defenses? And more importantly, does Ilsa have the strength to let him?”

Eric Keys puts words in Ilsa’s mouth; words that will make you cringe – people don’t say such things…do they? Not now; not in the second decade of the 21st century. We don’t have bad thoughts like that anymore; we are enlightened, charitable; we have learnt how to celebrate difference. Well, if the attitude of Soccer fans is anything to go by, they most certainly do – news reports tell us that anti-Semitism is rife within the Soccer fans world. Both here in the U.K. and across Europe – particularly Eastern Europe.

I think that Ilsa’s profanities are doubly shocking, because she is so young – she is also very beautiful. The impact is the same as when we hear a 3 year old say the “F” word.

Why is Eric Keys giving Ilsa such a terrible, terrifying ideology?

So when Ilsa is seduced into being a submissive to the Jewish, Dominant Saul, it comes as a surprise for the reader – she begins by insulting him – I’m not going to tell you how it ends – all I will say is that if you don’t believe that you can be aroused by the written word – think again.
But it’s the anti-Semitism that intrigues me. Why has Eric Keys put it there? What’s the point?

A friend of mine, Anthony, went to Austria on a skiing holiday earlier this year. He took a taxi from the airport to his resort. He has spent time in Germany and wanted to practice his language skills, so he talked to the taxi driver in German. Taxi drivers love to talk – and this one certainly did. How everyone hates the Jews, how the Jews lost the First World War for Germany, how there is a banking conspiracy for Jews to take over the world. Fat Jews, Jews with big noses – every stereotype you can think of.

And that’s why, I think, Erik Keys has put anti-Semitism into his book – he knows that it is still there; lurking like a cancer – over the centuries, over the millennia – stepping stones of hatred that almost made Hitler’s “Final Solution” a reality.

Genocide – the total extermination of the Jews – it almost happened in the ovens of Auschwitz and Belsen. Could it happen again? What do you think?

Here are some extracts from email exchanges with Eric Keys…

(billierosie) I get hatred but I don't get racism...particularly anti-Semitism; how a whole race of people can be so hated, that they should be wiped off the face of the earth..

(Eric Keys) It is hard to get your head around racism or anti-Semitism. For years it was all a mystery to me. Then I saw a documentary about the Nazis - I think it was called Architecture of Doom - and it all started to gel. Up till then Nazism was scary but alien. But after seeing this film I saw it as even scarier because it started to make sense to me. The Nazi propaganda machine worked by getting people to think they were involved in this giant drama. At the time they thought of it in terms of opera, but we might see it more as a gigantic cycle of novels - Song of Fire and Ice or the Hunger Games or something. Or maybe movies - Star Wars? Anyway, it was only then that I saw the appeal and it scared me a million times more than it did before.

But it also fascinated me. So, I read lots of articles about white supremacy, etc. Scary, scary stuff...

I tried to exorcise it through Ilsa.

(billierosie; talking about my review) ) I hope it's okay that I concentrated on Ilsa's anti-semitism..I know it's inextricably linked to the your book, but it's the hatred of the Jews thing that stood out to me...particularly as you'd told me about your own ethnicity.

(Eric Keys) That's fine that you concentrate on Ilsa's anti-semitism. It's part of what fascinated me about her. I've had this crazy fascination on and off for years. I seriously considered not putting it in there, but she's the heart of the story and her hatred is such a deep part of who she was and where she came from. I sort of expected people would not get over that, but since the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive so I guess people were willing to either stick it out or they haven't been bothered enough to write a review.

Visit Eric Keys’ blog here

For the Glory is at Amazon US And at Amazon UK

Check out also; Mstislav: Vengeance and Glory – also by Eric Keys. At Amazon US and at Amazon UK

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Art of Félicien Rops

Félicien Rops was a Belgian artist, specialising in printmaking, etching and aquatint. He lived from July 1833 until August 1898. He trained at the University of Brussels and his work was part of, and complimented the literary movement, illustrating Symbolism and Decadence.

Although the movements of Symbolism and Decadence can be considered to be similar in one respect, the two remain distinct..

Decadence was the name given, originally by hostile critics, to several late nineteenth-century writers, who valued artifice more than the earlier Romantics naïve descriptions. Some of them adopted the name, referring to themselves as "Decadents". For the most part, they were influenced by the tradition of the Gothic novel and by the poetry and fiction of Edgar Allan Poe.

In Britain the main person associated with Decadence was Oscar Wilde.

Rops’ forté was drawing, more than painting in oils; he first won fame as a caricaturist. He experimented with a distinctive printmaking technique called "soft varnish" which resulted in an image that was very close to drawing, eventually mastering the technique after years of experimentation. He sketched incessantly and feverishly.

Like the works of the authors whose poetry he illustrated his work tends to mingle sex, death, and satanic images.

Rops met Charles Baudelaire towards the end of the poet's life in 1864, and Baudelaire left an impression upon him that lasted until the end of his days. Rops’ created the frontispiece for Baudelaire's Les Épaves, a selection of poems from Les Fleurs du mal that had been censored in France, and which therefore were published in Belgium.

Rops’ association with Baudelaire and with the art he represented, won his work the admiration of many other writers, including Théophile Gautier, Alfred de Musset, Stéphane Mallarmé, Jules Barbey d’Aurevilly, and Joséphin Péladan.

But let’s look at the art and see if we can fathom what critics and supporters of Rops’ were talking about.

Pornocrates by Félicien Rops.Etching and aquatint.

The etching has a defiantly pornographic tone. An almost naked, blindfolded, curvaceous woman, is led by a fat swine from somewhere, to nowhere. Cherubs flit like butterflies in misty blue. It is an image from a dream, tipping over into a nightmare. The erotica is explicit. Yes -- the woman is almost naked, but the few clothes she wears emphasise the helplessness of her situation.

Yet, she is dressed in garments that suggest that she is in control. Heeled shoes, long, opera gloves and sexy stockings. The silken blue sash emphasises her nudity. It is a work of art for the voyeur; there is a feeling that it is staged, that the subject wants to be seen in her decadent glory. Perhaps she is saying; “look at me!”

Or is this a pornographic fantasy that the woman is determined to see through, despite stepping into the realms of the taboo? The little tipping hat that she wears, suggests that she is someone of consequence; the dream symbolism is perhaps telling us something about ourselves. she has given up control, but she is in control.

It seems that Rops is illustrating the theories of Freud and Jung. No matter how hard we try to suppress our darkest thoughts, no matter our place in the social scale, our darkest desires will surface in art, fantasies and dreams; the stories that we tell.

In a letter to his friend Henri Liesse, Rops described the painting:

"My Pornocratie is complete. This drawing delights me. I would like to show you this beautiful naked girl, clad only in black shoes and gloves in silk, leather and velvet, her hair styled. Wearing a blindfold she walks on a marble stage, guided by a pig with a "golden tail" across a blue sky. Three loves - ancient loves - vanish in tears. I did this in four days in a room of blue satin, in an overheated apartment, full of different smells, where the opopanax and cyclamen gave me a slight fever conducive towards production or even towards reproduction". --Letter from Rops to Henri Liesse, 1879.


Whereas many artists of the time might hint at a fashionable blasphemy or satanism, Rops’ dealings with these subjects were unequivocal, as was the blatant, pornographic tone of many of his drawings.

In this parody of the crucifixion Rops is being deliberately shocking to the lecherous edge of perversity. The contorted body of the Christ figure, has goat’s legs and feet. He looks down at the woman beneath; his expression is agonising. There is pain, and something else; depravity. More than decadence, the work expresses a raw, rapacious lust, that doesn’t know where to stop. The creature’s phallus rests upon the woman’s cheek; she is bound to the figure by some sort of strap. Her pose reflects that of the crucifixion, more so than that of the figure on the cross. The scarlet backdrop signifies corruption.

“Calvary” is brutal; insolent. Rops does not care about the viewer’s sensibilities; and why should he? He is being deliberately provocative. You don’t have to look, but he dares you to. If you were to challenge him, I think that his response would be; “well so what”! He is in the business of shocking and here he takes the sentimental, traditional view of the Passion of Christ, and shows it for the blasphemy and obscenity that it is.

It still has pathos, you can see it in the tortured grimaces. But it’s a work about sex and death; sex and religion. In particular I think that it is an exposition of the Roman Catholic tradition of faith and sacrifice. The life of dedication that Catholicism exhorts from the blindly faithful.


Saint Anthony kneels at the lectern, one bony leg outstretched as if in preparation to flee. He needs a place of security, far away from the horrors of blasphemy. His hands attempt to shield his ears from the raucous din. The figure on the cross compounds the blasphemy; it is the figure of a young, voluptuous woman, her soft, yielding breasts thrusting forwards towards the baffled saint. “Eros” replaces “Inri” at the pinnacle of the cross. The banished Christ is on her right, on her left, a ragged demon, behind the cross a swine stares intently, his forelegs raised. Tiny skeletonised demons flit like bats in the darkening sky. Can Saint Anthony resist the allure of the image? The image that so brutally usurps the Christian message.

The violent image seems to have occurred as the Saint turns the pages of the scriptures. Looking closely, I think that I can see the banishment of Adam and Eve, the first sinners. Perhaps this is encouraging Anthony to hold fast to his faith.

The earliest paintings to employ the scene were Italian frescos of the 10th century. The later European Middle Ages saw accumulation of the theme in book illumination and later in German woodcuts. About 1500 originated the famous paintings of Martin schöngauer (ca. 1490), Hieronymus Bosch (ca. 1505) and Mathias Grünewald (ca. 1510). In the modern era the theme has been treated by the Spanish painter Salvador Dalí and the French author Gustave Flaubert, who considered his 1874 bookThe Temptation of saint Anthony to be his master work.

PIC  "La Buveuse d Absinthe"

“Félicien Rops drew "La Buveuse d Absinthe" (meaning specifically the female absinthe drinker) in 1865 at the age of around 32 and frequently afterwards drew the same subject over the next 30 years. The picture always shows a slender woman leaning against a pillar outside a dance-hall, her low neckline and fine dress showing she is part of the nightlife. Her insouciant attitude, accompanied by her staring eyes, slightly opened mouth and haggard expression suggesting that she is a prostitute. She became the archetype of the female absinthe drinker.”


“Joris-Karl Huysmans, writer of A Rebours (meaning 'against the grain'), often said to be the supreme expression of the decadent spirit, described Rops’ absinthe drinker:

“M. Rops has created a type of woman that we will dream of, dream of again and be drawn back to, the type of absinthe drinker who, brutalised and hungry, grows ever more menacing and more voracious, with her face frozen and empty, villainous and hard, with her limpid eyes with a look as fixed and cruel as a lesbian's, with her mouth a little open, her nose regular and short ... the girl bitten by the green poison leans her exhausted spine on a column of the bal Mabille and it seems that the image of syphilitic Death is going to cut short the ravaged thread of her life.”

“On exhibition of his absinthe drinker at the International Exhibition of Fine Art in his home town of Namur in Belgium, Rops felt himself "spat upon": The picture outraged the critics and the local civic establishment issued an official rebuke to the artist, who 'far from consecrating his talent to the reproduction of gracious and elegant works, prostitutes his pencil complacently to the reproduction of scenes imprinted with a repellent realism”.

With unconcealed glee at this notoriety, Rops wrote to his friend Jean d'Ardenne how his La Buveuse d'Absinthe blew the minds ('les têtes... s'epanouissaient') of his bourgeois countrymen.'


Two women rage in an orgy of carnal lust. Cunnilingus, tongues, lips, teeth, juices. The image tells a story of how women are able to feel about sex, there is the potential for women to feel earthy, feral, rather than the sanitised presentation of the erotica in the tradition of Ingres. Women can be active, not simply passive recipients. The image is raw, primal and urgent. Their need is overpowering and overwhelming. There is nothing about making love in this drawing and it is as far away from Gustave Courbet’s tender image of “The Sleepers” as you can get. Rops’ depiction of women having sex is about possibilities; the possibility for women to indulge totally in the dark side of desire.


Well, to me, it’s a celebration of life, of sexuality in all of its guises. The woman has an erect penis; or does the man have voluptuous breasts? It doesn’t matter; contorted figures writhe in blatantly sexual poses at the base of the picture. Is the artist saying; “It doesn’t matter what your sexual proclivity is, just do it?”

In his prolific body of work, Rops demonstrates that posterity favours the forthright and the unique over uniformity and compromise.

Like the works of the authors whose poetry he illustrated, his work tends to mingle sex, death, and satanic images in a way which shocked many of his contemporaries and is sometimes disturbing even today.

There can be no doubt that Félicien Robs adored sex and he adored women; their taste, their scent, their texture. His adoration is reflected in his work. In a poignant letter to Louise Danse he opens up about his personal insecurities.

“ Each time autumn arrives with its austere intoxications, I suffer as if every hope that I carry within me and which are the same as those that illuminated my twentieth year were going to expire forever along with the dead leaves. I am so afraid of being old and of no longer being able to inspire love in a woman, which is a true death for a man of my nature, and with my needs for madness of mind and body.”

Thanks to Jan Vander Laenen for introducing the artist to me, and suggesting this post.

Friday, 10 April 2015

My husband looks at pornography while he’s taking care of our baby girl...Annalisa Barbieri advises...

I can’t understand how he could do this – should I seek a divorce? Annalisa Barbieri advises a reader...

I have been with my husband for five years and we have just had a baby. He has always used pornography and he has quite specialist sexual tastes. At the start of our relationship, he was very honest and we tried to incorporate this into our sex life quite successfully.
However, over recent years, his use of pornography and masturbation has come at the expense of our sex life. He rarely instigates lovemaking yet masturbates and uses porn daily. He will look at it on his phone when I am in another room.

He also confessed recently that he had been masturbating to porn at work.

Things came to a head with our new baby; he would hold her and still have his phone with him. I asked him not to look at porn when he was with the baby. He said of course not, but over the following weeks would still constantly have his phone with him when looking after her. Last week, he admitted he was looking at porn while he was looking after our daughter.

I was horrified and there were rows and tears. He was very sorry and ashamed and I have pushed him to go to counselling. I cannot move forward until I understand how he could do this.

I am angry and ashamed of his behaviour. We did have a very good relationship outside of his porn problems; it was loving, respectful and supportive but now I fear I can never see him in a sexual way again as I am haunted by the image of him making himself sexually aroused with our sleeping daughter feet away from him.
He disgusts and sexually repulses me and has shown himself to be a very weak man; he either knew it was wrong and yet did not have the strength of character to stop or he did not think it is wrong, in which case he does not have the same moral code as me and thus I am wary of co-parenting our daughter if our moral values are so far apart.
I do not want to be a single mother but even with counselling I think I can never see him in a positive sexual way again. He has tainted our child by bringing the adult world into her innocent life, even though she was unaware of what was happening.

Should I seek divorce or try to save my marriage? He refuses to give up his porn collection completely but since this came to crisis point he has at least cut down on his daily use.

Annalisa Barbieri’s response

I’m taking it for granted that his “specialist tastes” don’t involve child abuse images (nothing you said in your longer letter led me to believe this), because, obviously, my advice then would be completely different.

In cultures where parents co-sleep with their babies/children, people do have sex with sleeping babies in the same room. But that’s not what this is about. I understand how you must feel, not least because you are in that new mother “babymoon” stage, and your husband has introduced something very adult into it.
I consulted Vanessa Oliver, a psychotherapist who works with people with addictions. She thinks it sounds as if your husband has an addiction. “Sex addiction is known as an intimacy disorder and can be very, very isolating,” she says. “Addiction is often used to anaesthetise feelings that may have been repressed for years. The addict may not even be aware of what they are any more.”

Addictions are powerful, compulsive and complex, and it really may not be as easy as your husband simply promising not to do something any more. He needs specialist help.
The worry – in the short term – is not so much what your husband is looking at/doing but that he is doing it to such a degree that his attention isn’t focused on the baby when he is in sole charge of her. I would address this first. Your main priority is you and your baby’s mental and physical wellbeing.
Oliver has worked with couples in very similar situations to yours and she emphasises not to do anything drastic.

“You will be in shock. Don’t panic, don’t do anything reactive. You need time to come to terms with this.”

Oliver also suggests getting individual support, as well as joint support. (But if your husband doesn’t want to get help, please don’t let that stop you.) In therapy, a specialised counsellor will work with your husband to find out what is behind his addiction.

Article from the Guardian newspaper; Friday, 13th March 2015

The image is one of an actor.

Friday, 3 April 2015


“It was the nuns at my school that got me interested in people’s sexuality. The swinging sixties were going on outside, but we were cloistered together as we boiled and bubbled our way through puberty. I’d write about it, except we were all under eighteen, so I’d end up in court.

“The experiences didn’t harm me in the slightest, but later on they made me realise that there isn’t a clear distinction between ‘straight’ and ‘gay’, or between ‘normal’ and ‘kinky’. We’re all capable of bending our personal rules if the right person comes along, or the right situation presents itself.

“I’d wanted to be a doctor, and I even passed enough A levels, but an incident early on led to my being dropped from the course, so I worked in a variety of office jobs instead.

I watched people coming and going, wondering about their private lives, and their private loves.

“I didn’t start writing until a year or so ago, when I was chatting online to some friends who write erotica. I suggested a few themes, thinking that they could write about them, but they encouraged me to write the stories myself.
I still haven’t worked through them all.

“My limp has been the subject of some speculation, especially as I tell a lot of different stories about it. My favourites are the hunting accident and a war wound, which I have told and retold in various forms, some amusing, some tragic, and some erotic.

Perhaps that’s where my fiction has come from.”

And Rose is always full of surprises -- one day a small volume arrived at my door with the morning mail. Rose had written a book – that book was Post Mortem – a tale of undying love – a tale of love beyond the grave. A single white lily decorated the dark cover. I read the book description on the back;

“Em and Peter aren't going to let cancer get in the way of their love for each other. An erotic story with sex scenes, strong language, and material that some people might find shocking.”

I read Rose’s Post Mortem; I felt as if I were trembling inside. I read it again. Was this pure fiction or had these events taken place? It had the ring of truth about it – yet how, why, when, where? Impossible – surely?

And that first book from Rose sets the pace – Rose has a lot to say – is she questioning our sensibilities? Our notion of the taboo – our belief system, the glue that holds us in check – that stops us from delving into acts that sane people find atrocious?

The stories came – each one, challenging -- confronting the forbidden. Rose weaves tales that take us to perverse realms, we shudder, but something in the dark recesses of our minds gently reminds us that we are enjoying ourselves in spite of the exposition of the taboo. There’s incest in Butcher and Baker; gentle bestiality in Ginger. I had one of Rose’s provocative stories on my blog for a while until Blogger decided to clean up the playroom. Apparently, it’s for our own good – apparently Blogger knows right from wrong. He/she/it/they didn’t actually tell me to withdraw Rose’s story – but with Blogger’s new guidelines hovering like a chilly dark, damp cloud – that particular story can no longer be available for you to read.

But Rose continued to provoke and it’s all too much for Amazon’s sensibilities. She escaped to the relative sanity of Smashwords -- like Blogger, Amazon also believes it/she/he/they know right from wrong and have set up a form of censorship that can only be described as hypocritical bullshit – just weave a little sophistry into your book description and you can get away with pretty well anything – whatever, in other words Rose’s confrontational stories were no longer welcome at Amazon.

Rose has calmed down a little these days – maybe she’s said most of what she wanted to say, I don’t know, but she can now be found on Amazon again. Milk is a playful look at erotic lactation fetish – The Lady House is a creepily erotic ghost story. Noctula checks the box for those sexy undead – vampires.

Treat yourself to a Rose W story – the links are below.

Free reads on Rose’s blog.

The New Leda


The Virgin


Butcher and Baker


Amazon UK.


Lady House

Post Mortem


Amazon US.


Lady House

Post Mortem