In the Flesh is a monthly reading series held the third Thursday of every month at the appropriately named Happy Ending Lounge, and features the city's best erotic writers sharing stories to get you hot and bothered, hosted and curated by erotic writer/editor Rachel Kramer Bussel (Best Sex Writing series, Do Not Disturb, Spanked, Dirty Girls, etc.). From erotic poetry to down and dirty smut, these authors get naked on the page and will make you lust after them and their words. Themed nights have included True Sex Confessions, Revenge of the Sex Columnists, GLBT Night, and Comedy Sex. Readers have included Laura Antoniou, Mo Beasley, Susie Bright, Lily Burana, Jessica Cutler, Stephen Elliott, Martha Garvey, Gael Greene, Andy Horwitz, Debra Hyde, Maxim Jakubowski, Josh Kilmer-Purcell, Tsaurah Litzky, Suzanne Portnoy, Sofia Quintero, M.J. Rose, Danyel Smith, Grant Stoddard, Cecilia Tan, Carol Taylor, Veronica Vera, Zane and others. In The Flesh debuted in October 2005. Contact rachelkramerbussel at for bookings, press, or questions. Click here In The Flesh: Los Angeles. “…writer and host Rachel Kramer Bussel welcomes eroticism of all stripes, spots and textures to the Happy Ending lounge on the Lower East Side.,” New York Times UrbanEye newsletter, August 15, 2007 email rachelkramerbussel at for booking or other information or interview requests

Friday, September 19, 2008

What I read at Dirty Words night

I noticed in Dirty Words that there were entries for "Dirty Sanchez" and "Dirty Talk" but not "Dirty" itself. So I wrote something, very on the fly, two hours beforehand. "Did you really write it two hours before?" my friend Flora asked me. "You always say that." But I really did. I was in a kindof dark headspace and writing about it helped, and I'm glad I did. I forget sometimes to journal, to write, to capture things as they occur, before they utterly change on me.

And I got utterly seduced by the second person. I've used it so sparingly in the past, and think that's its proper place. I never really studied much in the way of proper English, but I realized that I write in second person when I want to write something very personal, but also distance myself from it. It's not "I," not "me," but "you" even though "you" is really me. I think why it works is because by saying "You," even though the listener/reader knows the writer is often using "you" as a substitute for "I," it draws them in. It could be talking about any "you" out there in that crowd.

It's seductive, an instant come-on, whereas "I," which I use so much, by comparison sounds haughty, audacious, bragging. "I" can only be about the author, whereas "you" takes on a universality that is broad enough to invite everyone in. In so many ways, it's more confessional. I'm fascinated by it. The other piece I wrote was called "Memories" and it was one of two breakup erotica stories I wrote back in 2004 that I'm glad I did, but still killed me to write.

I felt stronger after I wrote this, and I actually walked into Happy Ending with one idea of how my night would go, and the night, and the people in it, surprised me, in a very good way. I don't know if that has anything to do with the writing, but I'm glad I got the words out. I think I sounded more confident than I usually do when reading and I credit the second person for it. And because this is the internet, you even get links.

by Rachel Kramer Bussel

You look up a piece you wrote in 2003 about being “dirty,” one that now makes you cringe the same way those artifacts of childhood creativity your mom has saved does. It feels juvenile, the words a weak version of who you are or maybe who you were. But still, they are there, on the Internet, forever, and they say things like:

I want to be nervous, a little bit scared, uncertain. I want my clit and my pussy to be scared too, to try and anticipate what will happen next and be thrown off guard by a slap or a pinch or a pull. I want the pain of a hand falling full force against my ass, making it burn and seethe, and knowing that there's more waiting for me. I need that fear, that edge, to hover over. I need my lover to act differently with me than they do on the street, to treat me rougher or meaner or more fiercely, anything that distinguishes our sex from our average conversation.

You’ve almost forgotten what the good kind of Dirty is like, the kind where you do the walk of shame, or the subway ride of shame, and shop at Kmart before work. The kind where you push everything else in your head aside to whisper fantasies into your cell phone, letting the heat wash over you. The kind where sex becomes central, a daily part of your being, like breathing, not a burden or a worry or a stress, not just a word in your book title or MySpace slogan devoid of meaning. That part makes you feel the wrong kind of Dirty, the slimy kind where you almost can’t look at yourself in the mirror, wondering if you’re living the wrong life instead of being shacked up somewhere with babies and calm.

You forget what Dirty really feels like, or you remember in stolen moments, flirtations and forbidden fantasies. You debate wearing a dress, or lingerie, or nothing at all for a calendar, wonder if you’ll feel about posing nude as you do about HBO showing you masturbating forever, an endless reminder of memory of wantonness. Part of you wants to be captured like that, and part of you wants to hide, save it for someone special. As much as you know that “dirty” is always subjective, that sex and judgment and what’s proper and what’s not are all in the eyes of the beholder, the words that flow from your fingers you’re pretty sure are universally “dirty.” Your work starts to take a dark turn, full of rape fantasies and bukkake and dual blowjobs and crying during spankings. They say things like:

I pin her arms down and can feel her thrashing beneath me. “Don’t,” she says, letting out a whimper as she tries to undo my hold on her. I go slower even though I want to shove my way into her cunt, hurt her with my cock. I go slow so we can both savor the feel of me taking this from her. “No,” she says again, this time more quietly, and I chance lifting one hand to hold it over her mouth. I had no idea how hot that could be, to have a girl who’s struggling with her desire, who’s wet as can be but is trying to protest. It may be an illusion but it’s one I’m buying.

You wonder if you haven’t chosen the wrong profession, wonder if sex is not the topic you should cover by day, then obsess over at night. You get confused when people want your opinion about it, yet you are drawn to it over and over. The gap between that person, that persona, or some mix of the two, the girl from 2003 with all those yearnings, and the girl in 2008 whose yearnings are of a far more maternal nature, grows bigger.

Yet the words keep coming, even as Dirty itself becomes mundane. You have a dream/fantasy, or fantasy/dream, you’re not really sure which. There’s a girl—you don’t know exactly what she looks like, but she’s pretty, and her very presence turns you on. She’s kissing your lover, right there in front of you, soft, and then less soft. You’re part of it but you’re not, there to look and observe and maybe dictate, but not to join. You don’t tell anyone, until now, even though you think about writing him a letter on the pale green lined notepad you bought, the one that came from Staples in a pack with pink and blue, the one you thought would make you organized. You see the letter in your head, your handwriting, but that’s where it remains, because you can’t see afterwards. You don’t know what would happen after it would be received, don’t know how it would be taken, don’t know if it would brand you the wrong kind of dirty, the kind that makes you more of a freaky than fuckable.

Suddenly you start to rethink everything you thought you knew about being dirty. Is wanting sex dirty? Is desiring other people dirty? You don’t think using your vibrator is dirty, but still, you don’t do that as often as you used to. Even lying next to each other, you start to feel something well up from inside, and you’re torn between pushing it back and letting it take over. The words, much simpler ones than those you type into a screen, sit there, moved from your core up through your lungs, then your throat, until they are on the tip of your tongue, but you don’t. Or you can’t. You curl up under the covers and think about it, and try not to cry, try not to want.

You feel like you don’t know very much at all, but you do know this: That Dirty should not feel like this, sinful, scary, silent. Dirty should not be a code word for wanting but not having, for craving that never seems to end. Dirty, the good kind, should make you love your body more, love that it comes first, not last. You hope there is a time when Dirty will come back to you, mellow out, make its peace. Until then, it’s a word, a feeling, lurking around your edges, more work than play.