Saturday, October 18, the sixth day of my Amorous Woman book tour, was a much more leisurely day than the two that had come before. I certainly felt better after a real night’s sleep. That morning I decided to get a little exercise by walking back over to “Japan Town” to check out the Japanese grocery store I’d seen the night before. There was a definite chill of fall in the air. I felt I was witnessing the very moment when the tingly vanilla autumn of Indian summer turned to the bite of hardcore fall.
As I headed down Charles Street to Greenwich Avenue, I noticed that a street fair/farmer’s market was set up along Greenwich, which would change plans for meeting Jeremy Edwards and Helia Brookes to get a ride out to Brooklyn for the sex party—I mean, salon. But that’s what cell phones are for, so I made a note to call them with an update and enjoyed the scenery: booths selling scarves and New Age crystals and incense, one selling deep-fried Oreos (which tempted me briefly for the bizarre factor), and another promising the best cannoli in the city delivered from Brooklyn after 1 pm (which genuinely interested me, but unfortunately I myself would be heading to Brooklyn at that time, and possibly passing the famous cannoli in transit.)
The grocery store was interesting, but nothing too different from what we have in the Bay Area. I also scoped out restaurants for the next day’s lunch (more about that later). I stopped back at my sister’s place to pick up the two bottles of red wine I’d bought for the sex party—I mean salon—and rendezvous-ed with EllaRegina, who was going to be carpooling with us.
Our Seventh Avenue pick-up went smoothly and soon the four erotica writers were sailing along on the West Side Highway, with just a short detour through the Financial District to admire the Woolworth Building, and on our way to the home of the fabulously otherworldly writer and founder of Erotica Revealed, D.L. King, for an afternoon of wicked wordsmith shop talk. I have to say I was very impressed with Jeremy’s cool-headed driving. My idea of hell would be driving in New York City, but he managed it with perfect good cheer—as he seems to handle all of life’s challenges :-).
D.L. lives in a charming neighborhood in Brooklyn, although it was strange to return to a land of single-family houses and trees after the uber-urban landscape of Manhattan. Inside, the house was definitely the realm of an erotica literati (literata?)—bookshelves everywhere, comfy-looking sofas, a cozy kitchen and the bedroom that would be the setting for the spicy climactic event of the afternoon, but I’ll get to that soon. Already in attendance were Joan, the ERWA Sheriff (who’s not at all scary or policewoman-like in person) and her companion, who were regular participants at the salon.
I’d been looking forward to this event since I started planning my trip. When I mentioned to D.L. that I’d be in New York, she immediately offered to host one of her famous “salons” (not sex parties) in my honor. At first I was a bit nervous, thinking eighteenth-century Diderot and Madame de Stael, but D.L. assured me it was just an informal gathering, nothing pretentious at all.
Indeed, everything was very informal and relaxed. D.L. had set up a nice lunch spread in her backyard, which was also very charming and full of living, green things. Actually the fence and gate reminded me of my grandmother’s house in Pennsylvania. I hadn’t thought of fences as being regional, but indeed they are. As you can see there were plenty of things to munch, crudités and dip, bread and cheese, fried chicken, crab salad.
But the favorite food of all was the “cheese balls” in the great big jar, presented here by the hostess herself. Soon Rachel Kramer Bussel and the talented fetish photographer and book trailer maestro Stacie Joy (whose work can be found on Flickr under "editrixie" and who took the better pictures in this post) arrived—with a big box of cupcakes naturally--and the party was complete.
Again I passed around my fortune cookies. Here is one of the guests holding up one of the fortunes—not sure who it is (Joan?), but the suggestions were greeted with enthusiasm by this creative and open-minded crowd. However, they didn’t immediately put them into practice—not yet, anyway.
And here is Jeremy, lost in a book again. I think he was perusing his story, “Laura the Laugher,” in Xcite's Ultimate Burlesque to enjoy that "Masterpiece Theatre" experience from the UK spellings. Or maybe he was reading my story “All Eyes Upon Her”? In any case, we were both happy to contribute to a good cause and as always delighted to hold the book in our hands. (All proceeds go to help fight breast cancer).
Once we’d satisfied our nutritional needs with the rib-sticking and vitamin-packed cheese balls, we started in on the cupcakes. Rachel told us October 18 was National Chocolate Cupcake Day, and of course, as a renowned cupcake blogger, along with Stacie, she should know. Because there were other flavors in the box, such as pumpkin, vanilla, and carrot, we decided the best way would be to cut the cupcakes into small pieces so everyone could sample them all. Helia also passed around her delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies, which had a lacy texture and a lovely butterscotch flavor. I need to get that recipe!
I’m so busy focusing on the food—typical of me, isn’t it?—that I forgot to fill you in on an important sub-plot. Both D.L. and Rachel are well-known experts in the area of erotic spanking, and although we were all curious about our fellow salonists' achievements, EllaRegina expressed a special interest. She’d attended a spanking demonstration in Manhattan some time before, where a buff ex-CIA guy (or was it FBI?) plucked a gorgeous blonde “volunteer” from the audience and proceeded to demonstrate the proper techniques for an arousing fanny-paddling. EllaRegina still had a few questions about what the subjective experience might involve. Calm yet encouraging, D.L. suggested that maybe Rachel would be willing to give her own demonstration. Which is exactly the sort of thing outsiders expect would transpire at erotica-writer salons.
But, hell, I didn’t believe it would actually happen.
By then we’d opened the second bottle of wine, which was better than the first. For some reason the second bottle of wine is always better than the first. Again I had wonderful conversations with Joan and Stacie on the topic of the reaction of the general public to our work and stupid assumptions that our personal lives and erotic art were one in the same. D.L. made me jealous by talking about her trip to visit Ashley Lister in Blackpool, and I chatted again with Jeremy and Helia—we never run out of things to discuss. It really was pretty much like any other gathering of like-minded writers on a Saturday afternoon. As the shadows lengthened and the October breeze turned chilly, we moved inside to the living room.
Then D.L. offered to give us a tour of her “toy closet.” Now I myself have a drawer at home filled with adult amusements: a variety of thigh-hi stockings, a corset, some thongs and a few Good Vibrations accessories of my own, but it was pathetically amateur compared to this imaginative and extensive collection of erotic aids. I’ll leave you to identify the items for yourself. Needless to say, if you’re into spanking above the vanilla novice level, you’d find plenty to pique your interest here. And, I’m told, many have.
Again EllaRegina was particularly intrigued and at some point D.L. approached Rachel and Stacie as go-between for a proposed lesson. In private conference, they agreed to a quick demonstration of the spanker’s art a trois, behind closed doors of course. Although I myself had written a story about a three-couple spanking party, “A Rare Find,” in Rachel’s Spanked anthology, I wasn’t ready for any hands-on demonstration myself. As an erotica writer, I believe the imagination is free, but I am very monogamous where physical interaction is concerned. Still I didn’t think my husband would object if I were merely chatting in the next room while two women spanked another in the bedroom, involving no nudity and no actual “sex,” although it would be disingenuous to deny that eroticism was in the air. I also knew it would make a good story—either as fiction or memoir (or both). So, I poured myself another glass of wine and sat with Joan, Jeremy, Helia and D.L. to discuss erotica and French philosophers. Or maybe it was Althusser and the hidden coercive effect of ideology, which naturalizes society’s systems of control and makes us believe it comes from within us. Whatever we talked about, trust me, it was profound and worthy of Mme. de Stael.
Admittedly, the entire time I had one ear tuned to the sounds coming from the bedroom. First there were voices, rising and falling. I thought perhaps maybe the spanking had happened. But no, soon enough it was clear from the rhythmic thwacks that the spanking was indeed in progress. There was more discussion—no howls or sobs, just talk—and then some harder thwacks. The other guests continued talking, perhaps distracted, but diplomatic like I was. Or perhaps they were genuinely cool to the point of disinterest? Some had attended these salons before.
I’d had a few experiences like this in the past, of being a voyeur—or rather auditeur. When I lived in Yokohama, the woman in the apartment next door would have very loud sex with her boyfriend at 2 in the morning a few times a week. It was mildly annoying as my husband was thousands of miles away, but I did learn some interesting bedroom Japanese. And then there was that party at my sister’s Bowery loft in the winter of 1980. I came up from Princeton for the big event, but developed a terrible headache and finally collapsed on my sister’s mattress on the floor of her bedroom, the sounds of the party echoing in my pounding temples. As the only resident with a real job and income, my sister scored the one room in the loft with a door.
At some point during the party, her Parisian call-girl roommate decided she had to have sex with her downstairs neighbor (I also knew this guy was the consolation prize because she had her sights on another man) and since I was apparently asleep, the bedroom was a fine place to do it. So, while I lay there, my head throbbing and my stomach queasy, the two of them fucked on the mattress beside me. My back was to them, so it was mostly an auditory experience. There was some grunting, some squeaking of the mattress. It didn’t last long. Except in my memory. I do believe that every experience is a lesson for us, in this case my beyond-Princeton teaching was that New York was a place where anything really could happen.
But back to October 2008, to D.L.’s salon. Suddenly the thwacking stopped. The door opened and the three women emerged looking very much as they had when they went in.
“How was it?” I don’t think we actually asked this in words, but the question floated in the air.
“It feels like my buttocks just had Indian food.” As always, EllaRegina had a way of capturing experience with a unique style.
Not shy about spanking and running, Rachel and Stacie got ready to leave and gave us hugs all around. EllaRegina was apparently still able to sit down after her encounter with leather and told us more over another glass of wine. Perhaps she should relate the story herself, but I remember it begins in my memory with the image of EllaRegina walking in to the room to see Rachel sitting on the bed waiting for her, paddle in hand.
“Did she bring it with her from Manhattan?” EllaRegina wondered aloud to us. The idea of Rachel always at the ready with a spanking implement was certainly within the realm of possibility.
D.L.’s eyes twinkled. “No, I think she got her supplies right here.”
Apparently what happened next was something like this: after a discussion of the demonstration, EllaRegina lay down on the bed. Stacie held her hands down while Rachel did the warm-up spanking. Then they switched and Stacie administered the serious blows.
And so it was EllaRegina’s ass dined on thali that evening.
Clearly any social intercourse after this would be anti-climactic, so to speak. The party was winding down and we all needed to be on our way. We said sincere thanks and goodbye to our hostess, D.L. and Joan, expressing the hope we could meet again soon on one coast or the other. Then Jeremy and Helia drove us back to the city and dropped us off at our respective neighborhoods. EllaRegina disappeared into the Washington Square Arch, and I’d swear I saw a park ranger follow her in with a stack of quarters in his hands. Over at Charles Street, my sister had a light supper waiting for me. Tiny roasted potatoes with salmon caviar, bread and cheese, and a salad with a new dressing she’d just discovered. It has a decided Japanese flavor, but would probably go well with Indian food, too. So, I’ll leave you with the recipe and perhaps a whisper of vicarious heat on your lower regions.
After-the-Spanking-Party Salad Dressing
Mix together in a bowl or dressing shaker:
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (she uses The Ginger People Pantry Essentials)
1/4 teaspoon mirin
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons mellow white miso
3 Tablespoons Marukan lite rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Serve over fresh greens.
Next: A climax of a different sort and every writer's dream: all of New York at her feet....