Episode 068: Poly Land

Episode the sixty-eighth; Wherein the Pageist tells the story of meeting her Ultimate Hero and also shares some good news. The book reviewed is Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory by Page Turner.

.44 Intro and Announcements:

  • New listeners in the Faroe Islands, which was a brand new place to me and was fascinating! Welcome!
  • Two survey responses that I really needed to see–thank you! You can take the survey here and make my day, too!
  • Big squashy hugs to Joanna, my first PayPal donation person! Hey lady!
  • We’re working on the shop for the site, with the plan to launch it in the next week or so! Much excitement!

6.47 My Submissive Life:

  • This episode’s segment is about why I appreciate my listeners and why you shouldn’t meet your heroes.

16.48 Book Review:

(source)

  • This episode’s book is Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory by Page Turner.
  • It is creative non-fiction about the author’s journey from an unhappy, monogamous marriage, into her early years doing poly all the wrong ways–with some of the worst communicators ever to stalk creation. Hilarious and infuriating, it was highly entertaining, if an excellent example of what NOT to do. The book also includes useful information about ethical nonmonogamy.
  • I’ve never heckled a book before.
  • Check out the author’s site, which includes writing, quizzes and poly resources, Poly.Land.

23.52 Closing Remarks:

Girl on the Net: How a Bad Girl Fell in Love

(source)

[This is the text of the book review from episode 45.]

This week’s book review is Girl on the Net: How a Bad Girl Fell in Love by Girl on the Net.

The author has a sex blog called Girl on the Net, where she writes about her fantasies and actual experiences with men in graphic detail.

Even I, an asexual lesbian, find this heterosex hot. The lady is an excellent writer. She’s also hilarious as hell.

The book is broken into chapters, each of which is titled with something from an actual blarf-worthy magazine article like 13 Scientifically Proven Signs You’re in Love and Can You Have Sex Without Love and Is It Healthy? And 10 Simple Ways to Get Laid. I read the digital version and there was a hyperlink to each of those articles. I didn’t click on them, but I’m pretty sure that last one was just: If you’re a heterosexual woman, Step one: Go outside.

Each chapter is then similar to a long-form blog post, in that it explores one particular facet of Sarah’s life, whether it’s the howling terror of being outed as a sex blogger and how to prevent that, the joys of anxiety (hi! Hello!), or the societal double standard of why women should have kids even though all the work will be put on them.

There’s also lots and lots of sex. Dirty, raunchy, hot sex.

The over-arching story—it’s a memoir so it’s not a story like fiction, but it’s still a story because she understands how writing works—is how someone so fiercely single, happy to shag her way through the men of Britain wound up ensconced in domesticity with a quite nice, if equally filthy guy. I nearly said bloke and I’ve only been here six months.

Speaking of how writing works—this is exceptionally well-written. I was expecting moderate-to-good with the focus being on her life, but it turned out to be remarkably well-done.

Not to mention a fucking riot. I was laughing out loud nearly every page.

It’s not all fun and games, though—she doesn’t hold back. If regular readers of her blog would like to maintain the belief that Sarah’s life is spanking and genitals and bodily fluids all the live-long day, then they should avoid this book like … whatever they would each most avoid.

This is the time when they will find out their Lady of Perpetual Shagging is, gasp! A human woman! With faults and insecurities and hair in weird places! Oh noes!

Some people don’t want to know—this is a warning.

Respect for being that honest. I guess I’m pretty honest here, but she lays it right out there. When she’s not getting laid like parquet flooring.

So let’s do some quotes.

This book is not just about the sex and her personal life—there are also many observations about the way we view sex as a culture for example:

Whether it’s envy, disgust, or naïvety about what humans get up to in the bedroom, sexual confessions turn everyone into judgmental tabloid editors. It’s easy to break this cycle, though: talk more. Moral outrage and envy generally spring from a place of ignorance: ‘I don’t know what that’s like, but I have to have feelings about it, so I am either jealous, angry, or both.’ If we strip that ignorance away, all that’s left is the titillation: ‘Really?’ someone chips in. ‘You’ve had a wank in a train station?’ ‘Of course – I paid thirty pence to get into the toilets so I wanted to get my money’s worth.’

Hey, guys! There was once a woman who enjoyed dick pics! She doesn’t anymore—don’t send any—but this is the story. The section about them started with:

if you have a fetish for contextless, blurry phalluses then the Internet is the place for you.

Then she requested some, thinking she’d enjoy them, but it was too much.

In the first two years I was blogging, I received 708 pictures and videos of people’s penises. Not from 708 individuals – there were 395 people in total who sent me a snapshot.

She also talks about what it’s like being a sex blogger in general and how you can see the search terms people use to find your site—I also find this interesting and have written a couple pieces addressing some of the more intriguing ones. One of hers:

I really hope that the person who asked ‘what if a girl’s vagina is fucked 50 times’ now understands that the vagina isn’t a limited-use item, like a sponge that gets gnarly after two weeks next to the sink.

Then there’s a chapter about porn—she and her guy, Mark, vary wildly in their tastes. This is how he sometimes like to watch his pornography:

Sometimes – and I find this strangely adorable as well as intensely hot – he will sit in the lounge with every available screen tuned to a different part of the same video. TV, laptop, second laptop, iPad, phone: each one showing a slightly different moment in one glorious, high-definition visual orgy.

What?! That’s waaaaay too many orifices. At that point it’s just mechanics, right?

Sarah is more into ethical porn, while Mark is into the mainstream deal, and, being the rad feminist she is, makes the observation that his kind is more about women than for women and talks about what it would look like if the roles were reversed when it came to watching porn, since heterosexual women do, indeed, look for porn on typical sites:

Would a straight guy wade through an obstacle course of cock in order to get a five-minute glimpse of the kind of porn he fancies? A guy with splayed buttocks inviting him to enter? Ads for hot DILFs who really want to fuck?

She doesn’t really blame the porn companies, though,

But that’s unsurprising: given a fairly misogynist world, in which women are often told that our place is to inspire arousal but not experience it, it would be a genuinely newsworthy miracle if porn itself were immune.

Earlier in the episode I talked about how her life is so different from mine in terms of all the sex and wanting to have it, but in many ways we are so similar I found myself doing the ‘I get you, lady’ gesture at my phone screen. We weren’t Facetiming—I read books on my phone. One of those moments was when she said:

the idea of having nothing to do is far more terrifying than the idea of fumbling madly through a forest of tasks.

I used to be fine doing nothing whatsoever for weeks at a time, but now, if I try to take a day off I panic. I panic if I’m only doing one thing because it feels like I should be doing five other things simultaneously like some sort of cracked out octopus.

So you don’t get intimidated by all the sex—one of the things the author is up front about is how sometimes sex doesn’t work. How, sometimes, the human body doesn’t cooperate. She didn’t believe in the popular tale that sex dies once a couple has been together long enough.

If your relationship is built on a foundation of angry banging, then it’s not like the fuck police will turn up at your door seven years down the line and confiscate your libido.

But then… oh dear… The fuck police didn’t show up, but things didn’t go so well. She talks about how they dealt with it. Even sex bloggers get the blue labes.

Basically, if you’re looking for an incredibly well-written memoir about kinky sex with some feminism, pathos and gold star comedy thrown in go to here. Read this thing.

Girl on the Net will be at Eroticon in a couple weeks and I am beyond excited to meet her now—even more so than before.

5/5 if I need to say so.

Episode 045: Girl on the Net

Episode the forty-fifth; Wherein the Pageist explains why darning socks is so fascinating and freaks out over humans. The book reviewed this episode is Girl on the Net: How a Bad Girl Fell in Love by Girl on the Net.

.47 Intro & Announcements:

  • I’d like to thank my special guest, Winter Storm Doris, for providing the atmosphere of being on a ship at sea.
  • No new Facebook likes, but I’ve just noticed the ‘follows’ number. Hello to all 41 of you!
  • The show is now in Croatia, Pakistan and Zambia. A special hello to the scads of Danes who’ve been downloading the show in the last week or so.
  • A brief, anonymous survey, if you’d like to provide some much appreciated feedback.
  • Many, many thanks go out to my supporters on Patreon: PC, Barrett, deebs, AuntieSocial, BeeTee, Peej and Nug.
  • Where you can listen to my live interview on Sunday 7pm Eastern Standard time or midnight UTC: TPOK Radio

4.10 My Submissive Life:

12.58 Book Review:

23.31 Closing Remarks:

Sex with Shakespeare by Jillian Keenan

(source)

[This is the text of the book review from episode 42 of the show.]

This week’s book is Sex with Shakespeare: Here’s Much to Do with Pain but More with Love by Jillian Keenan.

I received this book as a gift from a listener who is a very kind, gentle Englishman. Thank you, friend. I loved it, just as you thought I would.

The listener of my show had mentioned Sex with Shakespeare and how it was about spanking and Shakespeare and he thought I would like it and a few weeks went by and I was listening to an episode of Why Are People Into That?! Tina Horn was interviewing Jillian Keenan about spanking and she mentioned she was writing a book about Shakespeare (I was listening to a quite old episode).

Horn also mentioned an article Keenan had written for Slate about whether or not BDSM was a sexual orientation.

They discussed this a bit. The premise is that, for some people, being kinky is as part of your identity as any other part of yourself. Some people it’s just a fun thing they do sometimes to spice things up, but for others, it’s immutable.

That would certainly explain the people (ahem) for whom kinky proclivities have been present long before they had words for it or even what we’d think of as budding sexuality. I was walking to my coffee shop, listening on my headphones and nearly stopped walking this concept (which seems rather obvious in retrospect) so blew my mind.

The ramifications for kink being an orientation, though, that would be something. Where they couldn’t take your kids away from you for being kinky anymore than they’d take your kids for being straight.

You’d start a new job and someone would find out you were single. ‘I should set you up with my brother!’
‘Oh, I’m an asexual lesbian service-submissive.’
‘Oh, he’s vanilla. Are you any good with leather, though, because these boots look like hell!’

So that was my introduction to Jillian Keenan. I liked her from the interview and this book is great.

Sex with Shakespeare is a memoir of the author working to accept her orientation as a spankophile. (She hates the word ‘spanko’ and thinks it sounds like a processed food product.) For, if ever someone was oriented towards kink, it is she.

Spanking is the only thing that interests her, sexually. It’s what she thinks about every day, and has done since she was very young. Single digits young.

But she’s not comfortable with this side of herself—she’s not, ‘I am kinky, hear me squeal.’ She tries to be vanilla and that’s not a great time.

But I’m getting ahead of everything.

The reason the book is titled Sex with Shakespeare is because Keenan is a Shakespearean scholar. The book is divided into five acts acts and within most acts are a few chapters, each named after a play. The author uses that particular play to examine whatever part of her life she’s talking about at that time.

It’s much more interesting, poetic and less-snooze-worthy than I’m making it sound.

One thing Keenan does that I sympathise with is she has conversations with various characters as though they’re actually there with her.

There’s a hilarious argument that nearly turns into a fist fight in the back of a cab between herself and about ten characters. Something that can only happen when everyone you’re arguing with is fictional. She calls Lady Macbeth ‘Purell’ at one point and I laughed out loud. Nice. Keenan is a funny lady.

I so identified with this habit because my entire life I’ve created characters—usually when writing—that are so real to me that I’ve had conversations with them in the car, or the store, (which I keep in my head) but then I’ve gone to open the car door for them. Then remembered I was alone and had to pretend I was putting my bag on the passenger’s seat so I didn’t look like I’d completely lost my mind.

Her characters recognise they are fictional and reference it occasionally, as do mine. Freakin’ self-aware imaginary friends. Mumble grumble.

This book is one way to learn about several of the plays—as she gives a plot synopsis of quite a few of them, as well as some rather interesting readings of certain plots. You don’t have to already know Shakespeare to read this—she explains everything.

I realised while reading this that I had neither read nor seen Hamlet. Somehow. I knew all the plot points and the big soliloquies and slings and arrows and all that, but I’ve never seen the thing.

Plays mentioned: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Tempest, The Winter’s Tale, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Cymbeline, Love’s Labour Lost, Antony and Cleopatra, Macbeth, King Lear, Othello, As You Like It.

If nothing else, you will come out the other side knowing more about many plays than you did before. Probably. I don’t know what you know. She makes some compelling cases for certain female characters being masochists or submissives, though. It may change how you look at fusty old classics. Keenan also tells you about many of the sex jokes.

She didn’t cover my favourite, though. Titus Andronicus. Now that is a play. It’s the first tragedy and it’s as though the man thought he would get to write another so crammed everything in that one—human sacrifice, multiple mutilations, rape, cannibalism. Jeez, dude. Relax.

If I ever have Keenan on the show we’ll talk about spanking because oh yeah we will, but I want to know her thoughts on Tamora. Tamora is one of my favourite fictional characters ever. She could eat Lady Purell for breakfast and not belch. She’s my woman.

Let’s do some quotes.

We start out in Oman, where the author has taken some time out from university. She’s trying to rid herself of her impulses. She says:

In Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky wrote: “There are things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind.”

Look, lady, if you’re going to quote Dostoevsky at me in the first chapter I’m going to buy you a Valentine. Watch yourself. She continues:

That’s true. Here’s what I, for decades, was afraid to tell myself: I’m obsessed with spanking.
My fetish is my sexual orientation, or maybe just my orientation. It isn’t something I chose, or an experimental phase, or a “preference,” or a trend that I opted into. It’s the core of my sexuality, and an innate, unchosen, and lifelong center of my identity. … If I had to give up sex—all kinds of sex—or spanking, I’d flush sex like a drug smuggler ditching his stash in an airport bathroom. My fetish isn’t something I do. It’s something I am.

I’m not sure something can be a fetish if it’s an orientation. But, simultaneously, the definition of a fetish includes being unable to have sex without the fetish. However, if it replaces sex… It bears more thought.

After introducing us to why she’s writing the book and how entrenched her interest in spanking is (and how Helena and Demetrius are a couple of assholes in some kind of D/s weirdness in A Midsummer’s Night Dream), we’re off to the second act.

In which she talks about the way her fetish (I’ll use the word she does) was present from very early on:

In one mortifying childhood memory, I told a friend that I wanted to rewatch the paddling scene in Dead Poets Society three or four times because I was “curious about the sound editing” of that moment. I did lots of “book reports” and elementary school projects on corporal punishment. Many, many “book reports” on corporal punishment.

Oh god. I wrote all of my book reports every year on Edgar Allan Poe while wearing all black like some Lydia Deets freak before she was a thing and here’s Keenan and her reports on caning techniques from eighteenth-century Britain.

As mentioned in the earlier section of the episode, the author came to kink through the bedroom. She met someone and had her first spanking after nil proper negotiation. She observes:

If I’m honest, that first spanking, as cathartic as it was, was also a mild disappointment. It just didn’t quite match my fantasies. (Fetishes are nothing if not detailed to the point of absurdity.) It didn’t hurt as much as I wanted it to, for one. John, to his credit, had proceeded with caution—it was our first time, and it’s far better to hurt someone too little than to hurt her too much.

Indeed.

Then there’s also some nerdage. (Ha! Some!)

There is an artery in the pelvic region called the common iliac artery, which supplies blood to both the genitals and the butt; when blood rushes down that artery to one of the two regions, it also rushes to the other region and can cause a kind of blood engorgement.

Her husband (not the first-spanking guy) is a doctor and she learned this from him—she discusses it in the interview with Tina Horn.

First-spanking guy, whose name is John, introduced her to Russian literature saying:

“Promise me you’ll start with The Brothers Karamazov,” John told me. “You’ll love it.” And I did love it. Masochists love Russian novelists.

Oh. Perhaps I am a masochist. That was the first Russian novel I read as well, though Crime and Punishment is my favourite. Dammit.

In this chapter she points out something people really need to realise, which is that Romeo and Juliet is not a love story—it’s about a thirteen and seventeen year old who throw a hissy and several people die because they’re impulsive. Keenan calls it a ‘bloodbath’. Yeah.

She also calls Hamlet a douchebag. Yeah. From what I know of him—a waffling douchbag. He can’t make a decision so everyone dies. That’s not a spoiler—everyone knows that.

There is one piece of information that’s incorrect and I’m going to be that person. She says:

According to the Internet, figging began life as a disciplinary tactic in ancient Greece, and was widely used in Victorian England to dissuade spanking victims from clenching their butt cheeks during their punishments. (That’s probably apocryphal; I can’t bring myself to make the phone calls necessary to confirm the historical origins of anal ginger play.)

Everything I’ve heard or read says figging originated in Victorian England and involved inserted peeled ginger in older horses’ backsides so they’d appear spritely when at market. Which I’m sure worked quite well.

There are a few older poems about kink or same-sex love that I don’t have time to read, but they’ll go into a poetry for Patrons segment because they are naughty and HOT. People knew what kink was and gay people were.

In Act Four, we’re up to Macbeth, which I’m not superstitious so I’ll say if I want. She’s in Singapore now where they have very restrictive laws about LGBT people. The law is called 377A. There are still gay clubs, though. You just have to know how to find them and, apparently, the law is rarely enforced. She says this:

Whenever Singaporean friends tried to defend 377A, they always emphasized the fact that it is rarely enforced. “Homosexuals can do whatever they want,” a colleague once told me. “They just have to keep it private.” … I recognized the expression. “Privacy” is one of the most potent and insidious weapons a sexual majority can use against people with nonnormative sexual identities. “Privacy” sounds good. It sounds responsible and mature. But “privacy” is tied up with isolation and shame. It drives people underground. It puts people in danger.

Well, what does that sound like?! It’s cool. It’s cool. I’m fine.

She continues:

Sexuality doesn’t just appear at age eighteen. Like everyone else, kinky kids grow up with questions about our emerging sexualities. The difference is that, unlike people who grow up with normative sexual orientations, we can’t turn to pop culture for answers. There are almost no books, TV shows, or movies that show people like us, or relationships like the ones I craved, in a healthy or positive light. Our fear and shame doesn’t just come from negative messages; it comes from the lack of positive ones. When culture insists that people keep their “private” lives “private,” those who fall outside the norm fall through the cracks. We have no way to learn how to explore our fantasies safely. One thing we do have is the Internet. Sexual minorities feel “private” online. Predators feel “private” online, too.

We take risks because the isolation and emptiness of the alternative is worse.

This is the time in the story—after many, many years—she got around to Googling ‘spanking fetish’. It didn’t go well. Because there are always going to be Judgersons. I’m sorry she didn’t find Fet or a munch rather than a bunch of shaming dickweasels.

She again talks about the silence we impose upon ourselves:

The hardest part of “coming out kinky,” if such a thing even exists, isn’t coming out to other people. Beyond sexual or romantic partners, coming out to others isn’t even necessary. The hardest part is coming out to ourselves. Many never do. I didn’t share my obsession publicly in the hope that other fetishists would do the same. I did it in the hope that, despite our national epidemic of sexual repression, a few others might feel empowered to confess their desires to themselves.

Coming out to others make not be necessary, but if everyone who had a kink or fetish were to be out—if the truly vanilla people out there saw just how common kink was they wouldn’t be so threatened. They’d see we’re not shadowy monsters. The concept of coming out not being necessary falls into the ‘privacy’ idea.

There were many more quotes that were worthy but I don’t want to keep you here for another half hour.

It seemed the author was still struggling with her orientation—even though she’d written a book in her own name and published articles about spanking and everything. There was an undercurrent of … not shame so much, just… a difficulty with who she is. That is no judgment. I struggle with parts of myself all the time. At once, it clearly makes her so happy and answers a profound need, but she also seems torn by the possible motivations for her desire. Some people would say, ‘This shame proves you have something to be ashamed of,’ but it’s more—if someone receives the message that there’s something wrong with the very core of who they are withstanding that requires a diamond-based constitution.

Sex with Shakespeare is, at times, laugh out loud funny and at other times, poignant. Then other times heartbreaking. If you’re interested in spanking, Shakespeare or memoirs of kinky people, this is a must-read 5/5.

Episode 042: Sex with Shakespeare

Episode the forty-second; Wherein the Pageist comes in through the library, issues a warm welcome to her guests from Malaysia and looks forward to mangling a dead language. The book this episode is Sex with Shakespeare: Here’s Much to Do with Pain, but More with Love by Jillian Keenan.

.48 Intro & Announcements:

  • One new Facebook like. Welcome to Anonymous.
  • The show is now in Chile!
  • Apparently, the show is quite popular in Malaysia. Hello and welcome and I’m so glad you’ve found us.
  • Many thanks to the person who took the survey! The survey is quick, anonymous and gives me useful information on the demographic who listens to the show and what works/doesn’t work for people.
  • The Cage is slowly picking up members. Happily. Hop over and see what’s going on over there.
  • The mobile version of the site has been radically updated and hopefully the experience is much-improved. If you’re not currently looking at the website on a mobile device, check it out here.
  • More info on Romance Languages.

7.31 My Submissive Life:

  • Episode 36 where I mentioned Sophie Morgan’s memoirs amongst many other books.

14.20 Book Review:

33.07 Closing Remarks:

Books You May Have Missed

[This is the text of the book reviews from episode 36, which was a recap of books I’d reviewed prior to having the podcast, grouped by genre. Some books didn’t make it onto the website so this is the first time some have been mentioned, while I’ve rethought my opinions on others.]

Fiction

(source)

The first book that came to mind after I had my Realisation was The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty—the first book in the Sleeping Beauty trilogy by Anne Rice. It’s now a quartet, as Rice added a fourth book in 2015. The books had been introduced to me when I was sixteen or so by a friend of mine who was both a fan of the author and also wildly horny. I can’t recall if I even finished the first book, but certain scenes stuck with me.

After realising a few things about myself I thought I’d give it another go. Yeah… I’m not a masochist and forced submission does nothing for me. Even in fantasy. The constant crying, humiliation and forced public nudity is a huge turn off. It’s written extremely well, though, and I recommend it to people who are looking for a specific sort of erotica. It’s just not for me, which was kind of a shame because there were three other books and it’s always nice to have your reading list set for awhile. I didn’t make it as far this time as I did as a teen—there are scenes I remember that I didn’t get to—now that I know about how consent works in BDSM I really need it. My fantasy life includes contract negotiation.

Then we have Something Leather by Alasdair Gray. This was an odd one. Quotes from my written review:

The stories felt very different from one another, which, at first, I thought was because the characters each came from different class backgrounds and had different personalities. Then it turned out Gray had reworked several of his plays to use as short fiction. One story was from one play, another was from another, etc.

Something Leather is an odd little book. If you’re only looking for the sexy/naughty bits read Chapter 12: Class Party and maybe Chapter 13: New June. The Epilogue also had some interesting insights into what Gray considered doing with some of the characters and plots at different points.

It’s more of a character study than about plot, though some weird occurrences…occur. To some weird people. Who live in Glasgow, which if probably part of their problem. (Kidding.)

I gave it a 3/5.

(source)

Next on the fiction list was Mary Gaitskill’s story collection Bad Behavior. I had high hopes here because it includes the short story the film Secretary is based on, which is one of the very few times the film was a vast improvement on the source material. I did a piece of writing comparing the story to the film (they’re both called Secretary)—the link will be in the show notes—if you’re curious about similarities, differences and so on. It’s a scene-by-scene, sometimes line-by-line comparison so, you know, here’s your spoiler warning.

Anyway, the book—the stories are about a bunch of people you’d never want to know. They’re interesting enough to read about, though. Several of whom are into sadomasochism, but not in a good way. In a—let’s not discuss boundaries—sort of way. A story called ‘Romantic Weekend’ was an excellent example of this.

From the original review:

Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior is a collection of stories about some truly unlikable people. Really. I wouldn’t want to have lunch with one of them. Reading about them was engaging, though–Gaitskill captures the grimy, complicated reality of life, but this isn’t feel-good material. It isn’t redemptive reading, either–where someone triumphs over adversity. It’s a collection of people who live odd little lives and interact with others living odd little lives.

I gave it a 4/5.

Gaitskill herself had some questionable things to say about sadists and masochists and then I had some things to say about that—you know, in my shrinking violet way—in a writing that will be linked to in the show notes.

The final fiction book was The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek. It’s the novel the film of the same name is based on. I’d seen the film first and loved it and the book is even better. The film is so well-made, though, that the book only enhances re-watches. If you’re unfamiliar with either, it’s about a repressed piano teacher, Erika, who works at a conservatory in Vienna. She focuses entirely on her students and art, with the plan/dream of becoming a great star one day. She has many kinks, though they have never been explored or expressed, as she lives with her suffocating mother.

Eventually she meets a student, Walter Klemmer, who is everything she’s wanted to submit to. But he’s a vanilla guy and she doesn’t have the correct language to ask for what she needs. If you’ve seen the film—the book is written from several characters’ points of views and you get more background on Erika when she was very young and how she became the paragon of sexual freedom and expression she was as an adult.

I gave it a 5/5 and said it was a ‘must for any sadomasochistic bookshelf’.

Moving on to

Memoirs

Of which I have read two—both by Sophie Morgan. I’m looking for more memoirs, though, so please recommend good ones.

(source)

Morgan’s first was The Diary of a Submissive and was followed up by No Ordinary Love Story. Morgan is a journalist and so her writing is a bit detached—even though it’s about her own life. The first book covers the realisation of her kinkiness and first experiences with various boyfriends. One of whom isn’t the most communicative of human beings to walk the planet.

The follow up—No Ordinary Love Story. Ugh. This title. It sounds like what every teenager would call their first relationship. There’s a marked improvement in the writing—it feels more personal and less journalistic (the writing is quite good overall—it is what she does for a living—but capturing the intimacy of memoir and the subjectivity of journalism are two different talents.)

The second book picks up right where the first one left off and we get to spend more time with Sophie and her friends and her boyfriend (who’s also her Dominant.) One of my favourite parts is when she and her very inventive boyfriend go to a kinky cottage for a weekend. And they played Scrabble the whole time. Weird.

I gave Diary of a Submissive 4/5 and had this to say in the original review:

It was interesting to read about a person whose submission expresses itself in such different ways to my own. And to see what other people find a step too far, just too degrading. She’d happily do things I’d safeword on but other things I wouldn’t think twice about she found the utter end of humiliation street. That sort of thing is fascinating to me.

Morgan is very headstrong and has some brattish qualities. Then again, she will choose some cocky bastards to spend time with. Such a masochist, this one. Naturally submissive she is not, blanching at bog standard Dom requests. But that just goes back to everyone’s submission being a bit different.

No Ordinary Love Story received a 5/5 and I said:

If you’re looking for new ideas for some fun play—or just want to read about two people with an obvious connection having a great, kinky time—this is a good one for it. It gives an inside look at a relationship that’s heavy on the D/s, even if it’s not 24/7.

The next genre on the list is

Classics

(source)

The first one doesn’t really qualify as kinky, but let me tell you about it, because it was on the site—It was by Mark Twain and was called: 1601: Conversation as it was by the Social Fireside in the Time of the Tudors. Catchy. It was originally published anonymously in 1880 and Twain didn’t claim it for twenty-six years. I read it because it was included in a kindle collection of smut. It’s not really about anything kinky—it’s just ribald and has Queen Elizabeth (the first one) making fart jokes and talking about the plural of the word ‘bollocks’ with Ben Jonson, Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Bacon and William Shakespeare while some other Elizabethans loll about. It’s a short read—less than half an hour—and is available at Project Gutenberg for free.

From the original review:

I’ve always enjoyed finding risque and out-right pornographic pieces by people who are considered ‘classic’ writers. Part of the fun of this one is that it’s written by the person who wrote Tom Sawyer. You know. Wholesome Mark Twain! We read him at school! Ahem.

I gave this a 4/5

On to Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland, which is billed as the ‘first’ pornographic novel in the English language. It was published in 1748 and 1749. From the review:

The plot is one of innocent young thang (IYT), orphaned at the tender age of fifteen, who makes her way to the big city of London to live with a friend. Said friend dumps her quickly and Innocent Young Thang shelters under the wing of kind woman who turns out to be a madam of multiple prostitutes quelle surprise!

Then again, this is the first book to use that plot device so it’s every other book that’s the cliche. Perhaps it was an actual surprise to readers at the time. Trying to image that breaks my brain a little.

There is very much, a lot of sex—some of which is kinky. Here is one non-kinky scene:

Then the turtle-billing kisses, and the poignant painless love-bites, which they both exchang’d in a rage of delight, all conspiring towards the melting point; it soon came on, when Louisa, in the ravings of her pleasure-frensy, impotent of all restraint, cry’d out: ‘Oh Sir!–Good Sir!–pray do not spare me! ah! ah–I can no more.’ And all her accents now faltering into heart-fetch’d sighs, she clos’d her eyes in the sweet death, in the instant of which she was deliciously embalm’d by an injection, of which we could easily see the signs, in the quiet, dying, languid posture of her late so furious driver, who was stopp’d of a sudden, breathing short, panting; and for that time, giving up the spirit of pleasure.

This is the first pornographic novel. We started here. That’s a high bar. And now… Well…

I gave this a 5/5 and will be reading it for patrons who support at a certain level on Patreon after I finish the current book, which is the Victorian smut-fest Romance of Lust.

Classics-wise, I have read Venus in Furs a couple of times, but haven’t reviewed it on the site and it’s been quite some time since my last read so I’ll give it a proper review on the show once I read it again.

The film was terrible. Avoid. (Source)

The next genre is non-fiction and a book I’d like to talk about overlaps between classics and non-fiction. It’s Psychopathia Sexualis by Richard von Krafft-Ebing. I read it fourteen years ago and, had I been paying closer attention, I could have joined the BDSM scene then.

Anyway. I’ll probably read it again for funsies, but won’t devote an entire podcast episode to it because it’s quite niche. It was the first catalogue of sexual deviancies based on case studies that was to be used, ostensibly, for medical and legal purposes. The more scandalous parts were in Latin.

Yeah, that didn’t stop people, the general public ran out and bought the thing like it was the last book in the Harry Potter series. ‘Ooohh, what are the neighbours doing with the other neighbour’s floppy bits? Those nasty buggers! Turn the page!’

It’s definitely a product of its time—masturbation makes men weak and nearsighted—and people often came from families with a history of neurasthenia, which could be headache, anxiety, depressed mood, high blood pressure, heart palpitations or fatigue. There was all sorts of Victorian goodness like that. That’s just how I feel watching the news now, though. 2016, the year of neurasthenia.

But, Krafft-Ebing thought being gay was just who you were—it wasn’t changeable or necessarily awful. He didn’t think it was entirely healthy, either, but one step at a time. This was 1886—it’d be nearly a hundred years before they’d remove homosexuality as a mental illness from the DSM and the VP-elect currently believes you can torture the gayness out of people. So… This dead Austro-German dude was ahead of that guy.

The book is interesting in some ways—it shows how fetishes are shaped by our culture. Men often fetishized womens handkerchiefs and gloves—because that’s one of the first items related to women they were allowed near. The same is true of listening to women urinate into chamber pots.

The edition I read was unexpurgated with previously removed case files re-inserted and the Latin was translated into English so you can see what they thought was just too much for sensitive readers back in the day. Here is a link to that specific edition. It’s hard to rate this one because you’ll either find it interesting for historical/scientific/psychological purposes or it’ll bore you to death. Make your decision based on the review.

On to

Nonfiction

The first two are by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton. They’re The New Topping Book and The New Bottoming Book. They’re two separate books, but I think they should be read together. No matter which side you fall on it’s useful to know what the other side is thinking, doing or feeling. And if you’re a bottom then it’s very useful to know what ethical tops will be like so you can identify non-ethical tops.

There was an episode of this show about these books—episode seven—where the Multiamory crew came on and reviewed the books. Their show is about polyamory but they were interested in exploring kink and wanted to know what I’d recommend. I said both of these books and all three hosts read both books. They did a great job.

I think everyone coming into the scene should read these—it should be part of Kink 101.

Both authors are bisexual switches with decades of experience and they include personal stories to demonstrate specific techniques between chapters starting with the basics up to a bit more complex play towards the end.

There are more personal stories in the Topping book than the Bottoming book—it would have been nice to have more stories in the second book, but that’s a quibble.

If you read both books there will be some repetition because most people aren’t going to be so thorough as to read both and some information is applicable to either side of the situation. I read a review where someone was complaining because they’d read both and were upset about some of the same material being in both books. They called it lazy writing and thought they did that to take up space.

Um…no. Most people are only going to read the book geared toward their interest and knowing how to communicate properly is important. The skills are the same. And the majority of the two books are different.

The penultimate book on the list is Living M/s: A Book for Masters, slaves and Their Relationships by Dan and dawn Williams. Dan and dawn have the Erotic Awakening podcast and they put together this set of writings around ten years into their power exchange. I wanted to read it because I’d been listening to their show and they seemed like such a happy couple—really down to Earth and articulate about what they got out of power exchange. I read this when I was really new to the scene and connected with it on a profound level—Dan’s writings are excellent examples of what a good D-type can be and dawn’s writings… Wow.

From the original review:

Multiple times I found myself thinking that this was a person who absolutely ‘got’ me—or at least an aspect of me that others wouldn’t. It’s one thing to be accepted and loved by your friends (and I’m not denigrating that for a second), but it’s another thing entirely to see someone else’s words and realize they completely understand you. They get it.

At the time I gave it a 5/5 and recommended it to everyone, but now that I’ve read more widely—I’d probably say this is a good one for beginners.

If you listen to Erotic Awakening (and you should give it a listen! It’s great!) You’d probably like it, too. They write the way they speak so it’s like getting to know them a bit better.

(source [Internet Archive of dead link])

And finally, The Pleasure’s All Mine: A History of Perverse Sex by Julie Peakman. From the ancient Greeks up to the present, from one country to the next, what has been considered ‘moral’ and ‘normal’ in terms of sexual activity and interests has varied wildly. This book looks at an impressive list of desires, fetishes and activities and compares how they’ve been viewed in various parts of the world during various periods of history.

Hey, did you know male masturbation used to be punishable by death? It was considered murder so it was a capital offence. This book was full of ‘You know…when people say everyone was nicer in the olden days, they were really hardcore dickweasels.’

Some of the topics covered:
Heterosexuals
Masturbation
Gays
Lesbians
Transvestites
Transsexuals
Bestiality
Sadomasochism
Necrophilia
Incest
Paedophilia
Exhibitionism
Voyeurism
Coprophilia and Urolagnia (Scat and Piss)
Flogging and Spanking
Fellatio/Cunniligus
Fetishists
Apotemnophilia (self-demand amputation)
Objectum sexuals (people attracted to inanimate objects)
Sexual cannibalism
Infibulations (male, as in piercing the foreskin)
Fisting
(and more!)

One of my favourite pieces of information (and there was much to love) was that the term ‘heterosexual’ was originally used in 1892 by Dr James G. Kierman to mean ‘abnormal manifestations of the sexual appetite’; this included desire for both sexes.

This means that bisexuals are really heterosexuals and heterosexuals are really homosexuals. Because they only like one sex. Homosexuals are also homosexuals, too. Tell your most homophobic relatives today!

There were some problematic, challenging areas covered—like the discussion of how do you decide the age of consent for people? It’s completely arbitrary from one country (or state) to another and always has been. And what’s wrong with necrophilia? (I mean, if we’re going to tell living women what to do with their bodies why can’t we tell dead people what to do with theirs. They’re dead—they won’t know, right? Why do the dead have more rights than the living?)

There were a few sections that force the reader to think about some uncomfortable topics, but that wasn’t a negative, necessarily. Unless you don’t like thinking. In which case, I’m not entirely sure why you’re listening to this show.

It’s available in hardback, paperback and Kindle. I got it in hardback because as soon as I heard about it I was: GIMMEE IT. And that is a heavy, well-made book with high-quality paper—that glossy kind. It has 180 images, sixty-eight of which are in colour. As an object it’s beautiful—it’s also a little spendy, but it’s worth it. The images are sculptures, paintings, illustrations from literature and history and that sort of thing.

For that reason I would recommend a physical copy—even if it’s the paperback, though I don’t know if they’ll have colour pages or if it will still be the heavy, glossy paper that I may or may not have kept shoving my face into the take a big whiff.

More from the original review:

The weakest point of the book is Peakman’s writing, which isn’t the strongest. It felt like a highly readable dissertation except for some repetitive word choices. That’s a minor quibble, though. Overall, The Pleasure’s All Mine was interesting and thought-provoking. I learned a lot about the history of lots of sexy things and some things kinky. And some things a little blerg. But I believe all information is useful information. Even blerg information.

I gave this a 4/5.

Episode 036: The Pageist Talks Pre-Show Books

Episode the thirty-sixth; wherein the Pageist celebrates a year of doing the podcast and shares thoughts on the books reviewed prior to having the show. Books reviewed… quite a few.

0.48 Intro and Announcements:

  • Two surveys! Thank you, survey-takers! If you’d like to fill in the anonymous survey and make my day, the link is here.
  • Someone has listened to the show using a satellite. Welcome to the ISS, Antarctica or secret government bunker.

5.31 My Submissive Life:

  • I’m going to leave the house and attend an actual munch. This is not a drill. (Thank you, Muse. mwah!)
  • It’s the show’s 1 year anniversary. I don’t know how that happened, but here we are. Here’s to another year or two. Or more.
  • Did an interview with Lee Harrington for his show Passion and Soul. More info on that when that goes up.

12.20 Book Reviews:

40.58 Closing Remarks:

  • Thank you for tuning in!
  • In the next episode I’ll be reviewing Real Service by Joshua Tenpenny and Raven Kaldera
  • Support the show and site on Patreon!
  • Like The Pageist on Facebook, follow on Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, Quora, Medium, and Instagram and join the Fetlife group.
  • You can also subscribe to this website through the email form in the sidebar.
  • Subscribe to the iTunes feed here. You can also rate the show in iTunes, which would be much appreciated!
  • All episodes are listed and playable from this page.

No Ordinary Love Story

No Ordinary Love Story

No Ordinary Love Story is the follow up to Morgan’s memoir The Diary of a Submissive and carries on pretty much where that one left off.

This one is an improvement (which I would still recommend in order to see her growth from brand spanking new sub—see what I did there?–to more confident sub). Morgan’s writing as a memoirist has improved—is more relatable—this time round.

The title is cringe-worthy. The book is better than what it sounds like it would be based on that alone. ‘No Ordinary Love Story’ is what every teenage girl would title her first crush. That’s probably down to the publisher, though, and can’t be put on the author.

Morgan talks about her submission and her experiences with a new—and very different to her previous—Dominant, Adam. I like Adam. He’s an inventive guy, ifyouknowwhatImean.

She catches us up on the players of the first book nicely and so all the plots were as tied up as plots from real life can be. By the end the reader feels like they’ve gained some new friends. When something bad happens it’s a genuine let down and when something good happens you’re sincerely happy for them.

If you’re looking for new ideas for some fun play—or just want to read about two people with an obvious connection having a great, kinky time—this is a good one for it. It gives an inside look at a relationship that’s heavy on the D/s, even if it’s not 24/7.

5/5

The Diary of a Submissive

The cover makes me want to die a little...

The cover makes me want to die a little…

Sophie Morgan was a journalist in a small town in England. At university she met a young American man who spanked her bottom quite hard with a hairbrush. (But she just loved it.) And a belt. (Loved that, too.)

The American had to return to the States, as will happen, but now our good Miss Morgan was in a bit of a quandary. Whosoever was going to give her a good hiding?

Luckily, eventually she made a friend. A gentle man named Thomas. Thomas introduced her to a little something called D/s or dominance and submission. Miss Morgan took to it like a… well like a submissive takes to being dominated.

And boy, did Thomas know how to dominate that booty. And brain. And everything in between.

Alas, they were only friends with kinky benefits and so it could not last.

Would she ever find the man would would push her to her subby limits?

Okay, so. Fiction about submissives always seems to be about forced submission and involves lots of humiliation and sobbing and welts. That’s not really my bag so I always thought it was just male fantasy. Or… I don’t know why Anne Rice wrote her books that way since she is patently not a dude.

So I picked up a memoir thinking that finally I’d see what an actual submissive leading an actual submissive life was like. (Writings on FetLife only give glimpses of people’s lives–I was looking for a bigger picture.)

What I got was lots of humiliation, sobbing and welts. Okay then. People are into that. Like… really into it. YKINMK.

I understand it a bit better now–the need to persevere or to please the Dominant or a combination of the two. And then feeling like you’ve really accomplished something when you do come through it. You may not be able to sit down for a week, but you’ve accomplished something.

It was interesting to read about a person whose submission expresses itself in such different ways to my own. And to see what other people find a step too far, just too degrading. She’d happily do things I’d safeword on but other things I wouldn’t think twice about she found the utter end of humiliation street. That sort of thing is fascinating to me.

Morgan is very headstrong and has some brattish qualities. Then again, she will choose some cocky bastards to spend time with. Such a masochist, this one. Naturally submissive she is not, blanching at bog standard Dom requests. But that just goes back to everyone’s submission being a bit different.

She’s a journalist and it shows in her writing–there’s a certain coolness, a reporting of the facts, rather than the warm, chatting-to-a-friend tone typical of memoirs.

Also, I found it interesting that she didn’t seem to do any research about the lifestyle (she hates that word, but sorry, that’s what it’s called) since she has a background in journalism and has been a submissive for some time. For example, Morgan describes subspace and the moment pain becomes pleasure, but doesn’t know the term for the first one and thinks the second one may only happen to her. (It happens after endorphins are released during the beginning of a beating and is the body’s way of handling pain.)

Those are non-quibbles, though. The Diary of a Submissive gives some insight into what some types of submissives want/get from D/s relationships and what sort of pleasure they derive from heavy impact play and degradation.

Morgan has a second memoir, which I’ll be reading next, entitled No Ordinary Love Story. Title aside, I’m looking forward to it.

I’d give this one 4/5.