Let's get icky for a minute.
I've been reading a lot of mommy porn lately.
"Ewwwww," right? Not that there's anything wrong with mommy porn. But who wants to picture me reading it? I remember Gene Siskel telling Roger Ebert that he was "aroused" by a film they were discussing, and though Ebert managed not to blurt out "Gag me with a spoon!" (it was the '80s) he sure looked tempted. (I can't recall what the movie was. Probably 9 1/2 Weeks. Or maybe The Muppets Take Manhattan.)
Anyway, I'm sorry if the juxtaposition of "Steve Hockensmith" and "porn" leaves you feeling a little throw-uppy. Do yourself a favor. As you read the rest of this blog post (assuming you haven't already fled to another website) just imagine it was written by Fabio or Pamela Anderson or the 21st century Fabio/Pamela Anderson equivalent (whoever that would be). You know -- someone who's supposed to lounge around all day reading erotica, because it's not like we can imagine them mowing the lawn or loading up on toilet paper at Costco.
So. Me and mommy porn. I've been familiarizing myself with the genre lately for a possible work project -- REALLY!!! -- and it's raised a few interesting questions for me. And I don't just mean "If you stick a [CENSORED] up someone's [REDACTED] does it really make them [SANITIZED FOR YOUR PROTECTION]?" The thing I'm wondering is "Could I ever write something like this?" And I suspect the answer is no.
For one thing, I don't even know what happens when you stick a [CENSORED] up someone's [REDACTED], so a master of kink I am not. Of course, I could get around that easily enough. That's what Google's for, right? But it's not just knowledge I lack. It's the right attitude.
Here's the thing about mommy porn (or the mommy porn I've read, anyway): It's really just romance on steroids. Or maybe that should be romance on poppers. (Hey! I know something about kinky sex after all!) Yes, there are manacles and whips and assless leather chaps. But you know what else there is? Feelings. And misunderstandings. And monogamy. And talk talk talk about feelings and misunderstandings and monogamy.
I guess that's the difference between mommy porn and daddy porn. The characters end up doing more or less the same things, but in D.P. they just do it and in M.P. they talk about what it means beforehand. And afterwards. And sometimes even during (which isn't easy with a [CENSORED] up your [REDACTED]).
But you know what? It's not all the talk that bothers me. It's that everyone takes what they're saying so very, very seriously. And no matter how multi-dimensional the characters are (and sometimes there's real depth there, in the right book), they're still idealized beyond anything I can relate to. They're Fabio on a book cover. They're Pamela Anderson on a poster. They're perfect. And that makes them unreal.
Which is a silly thing to object to in erotica, I know, I know, I know. Nobody says, "I'd enjoy this sex scene more if it were intensely awkward and all the body parts sagged." But here's where my bad attitude comes in: I do sort of think that. Because one of the impulses that drives me as a writer is the desire to shrink everything down to human size and find the humor in it. It's why I'd have a hard time writing a straight thriller. It's why I'd have a hard time writing a straight (i.e., lugubrious) "literary" novel. It's why I'd have a hard time writing straight erotica. For god's sake, I read mommy porn and think, "I'm not connecting with this. Everyone's so beautiful." There's something wrong with me! I'd rather watch Fabio and Pamela Anderson loading up their Costco cart with Nutella than gazing into each other's eyes on a wind-swept cliff. It's just the way I'm wired.
Maybe it's something you can get over, like a cold or (if you work in certain industries) a conscience. There are times I think I'd be more successful if I could just get with the program and stop being a smartass. I've had people tell me to try. And you know what?
To me, that's icky.