The Truth About Erotica

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EmbarrassedIf you’re reading one of my books and your mom approaches from behind, you’re probably going to shove it into a book bag, between some crap on a table, or under your pillow.

Even if you’re reading the ebook version of a Lexi tale, my guess is you’ll click back to your reader’s menu or close the cover when Mom comes too close — anything to disguise the nature of what you’re reading.

“Mom doesn’t have eagle eyesight anymore,” you might figure, “but the word ‘pussy’ was on that page in stark e-ink, and she might’ve seen it.”

Probably would have.

That’s how it goes with erotica.

People hide erotica.

With the exception of not-really-erotica pop phenomena like 50 Shades, people usually don’t admit to others that they read it.

But you can share romance all day, then into the sunset.

Sure, the heroine might be riding her suitor’s throbbing rod six ways from Sunday, but romance is romance — it’s about love … and even Mom understands that sometimes, people in love do untoward things beneath the sheets. That’s how you got here after all.

Still, both stories have sex. Erotic stories can have a lot or a little, and romance can be tame or hot enough to blister paint. I’ve been writing sexy stories since long before I started sharing them with you, and have been reading them longer than that. As an avid reader of both genres, I can promise you I’ve seen romance with more sex (and far more explicit scenes) than other books classified as “erotica.”

Yet, when you sell stories like mine, you can’t class something as erotica and romance. You must pick one. Erotic romance doesn’t help — you still have to hide it from Mom.

Smoking HotThe whole thing reminds me of my marketing days. When you write ad copy, you can’t sing a product’s multiple praises. You have to pick one of its many aspects, then pretend it’s only that and nothing else. We call that “positioning.”

Sex on one side. Romance on the other.

It’s as if someone’s trying to tell us that the two don’t go together.

There’s One Side to Every Coin

I have a friend who, after she’s had a few glasses of wine, likes to say, “Welcome to Bonertown. Population: me.”

She’s married to her high school sweetheart. They have three kids. Her husband is constantly texting to tell her he loves her. When they relax together, she nestles against him on the couch as if he’s a throw pillow.

If their lives were a book, Barnes & Noble would stick it in the romance section. You’d have no problem sharing that book. But I’m telling you, they fuck every chance they get. I’m fairly certain they once did it in my bathroom after asking me to “keep an eye on the kids for a sec” then disappearing for 10 minutes. She’s told me tales — even here and now, after years of domesticity — that would fog your glasses.

Beneath the work-safe veneer, they’re living a Lexi life.

Yet no one would give it that label.

Because they must be one thing, and not another.

They must be a primary color.

An element from the periodic chart.

Pure water.

A prime number, unable to be divided into component parts.

Human brains don’t like for things to have dual natures. They want to say, “This is X.” It’s either a paperweight or a civic award. It’s either a Frisbee or a dog toy. We want to know where to pile our things for fear of cluttering our boxes. We don’t know where to put things in our houses, or which books we can safely recommend to friends.

My book Anticipation is about a sweet married couple trying to recapture the spark they had before children occupied their lives.

Divorced is one of the sweetest, most heart-wrenching stories I’ve ever been blessed to hear or tell.

But both of those sweet, romantic stories have sex. A lot of sticky, sweaty, heart-pumping sex. Because silly me, I’m under this delusion that when two people are in love, they often like to slide parts of themselves into one another. I don’t (can’t) see it as something shameful, unnatural, or in any way worth hiding. Sex is in our biology.

The future of our species depends on people pairing up and fucking, so when I write a love story, I write it all.

The County FairIn Divorced, Zach gives Sam a rose when they go to the county fair on a date. She thinks it’s corny, but is still touched by the gesture. He gets slightly offended, because he’s the hopeless romantic artist and she’s the pragmatist.

Her hesitation, for a few beats, shits on their moment. He huffs. She makes fun of him.

Then she sees how vulnerable he is, and takes his hands. They kiss.

I wrote about that exchange in detail, because it was part of the story.

Later, when they’re riding the pirate ride and find themselves alone in a row, Sam fumbles Zach’s cock from his fly and jerks him off. Once home, they finish what Sam started.

I wrote about that in just as much detail. Because it, too, was part of the story.

These aren’t just love stories, nor are they stories just about sex. They are stories of people who fall in love — and as part of that love, have a lot of hot, throbbing coitus.

I could slant my stories toward romance, but everyone already understands that a romantic story might contain some steamy elements. Far fewer people give erotica credit it sometimes deserves.

The common thought: If it’s primarily about sex, it’s for masturbation and nothing more. 

And that’s why I write erotica. Make a bullshit statement like that, I can’t resist trying to disprove it.

My Loves

I’ve been in love three times. I’m single now. I’ve sat on the floor plenty of times, back to the wall, knees to my chest, sobbing into an endless box of tissues.

Me, Lexi Maxxwell.

Me, the girl who makes her living by writing about licking pussies and sucking cocks until they erupt in ropes of salty, sticky cum.

I hesitate to write this — if for no other reason than it forces me to admit it to myself — but I’m still in love with one of those men today. We’re apart. We’ll never be together again. It’s very, very, very difficult to write those words, but they’re true. I was briefly in love with another man since, but I’ve still never stopped loving the first.

Love is odd that way; you can love one person fully while still loving another just as fully.

There isn’t limited space in our hearts. In my experience, a pair of loves will have different flavors, but both can co-exist. I love one man with a sense of bittersweet nostalgia, and that’s what I mined when writing Divorced. And through those pages I cried plenty.

At the same time, I once loved another with a sense of powerful, present now. That feeling — before it soured — has inspired other parts of my work.

I’ve thought about my lost loves — all three, each with a different feeling — when I’ve been lonely. My first love was sweet and innocent, and those memories inspired Zach and Sam’s early days in Divorced.

My second love inspired their later, more mature relationship. Even my third love (which inspired much of Cheated; I’ll tell that tale another time) had moments I cherish like dried petals preserved in a box of precious memories.

Getting OffI’ve spread my legs at night and rubbed my clit while thinking about all three men. I’ve done so furiously, because I want to get off and didn’t care to delve into romance.

I’ve done it slowly and with a long build-up, using my vibrator, remembering how the same vibrator was once used on me by another.

And I’ve done it while crying, simply trying to reach the end. Sometimes the most earth-shattering orgasms come when I’m sad, when I’m feeling exactly the opposite of how a “porn book” would have you believe was sexy.

I am not one and only one thing. I refuse to feel one and only one way, or to be one and only one person.

I know you feel the same.

The Truth About Erotica

Let’s get something straight: Most of life’s stories would be erotica if people told the fucking truth. 

I had that epiphany maybe a year into publishing sexy stories. When I first started, I knew I wanted to write about sex because my core desire was to make readers feel, and telling sex stories was the most visceral way to do it. Evoking horror or a sense of lingering sweetness is hit or miss, but making cocks hard and pussies wet is comparatively easy.

So that’s what I did. I wrote single-serving fantasies that started just before the kiss and ended shortly after the cumshot.

But after writing those stories for a while, I realized that while my tales were well-written and plenty hot, they were also a commodity. Everyone was writing about fucking this person and fucking that person. Once sex starts, mechanics are more or less the same. There may be more poles in more holes, but the basics remain: In, out, repeat if necessary. If I wanted to stand out — not just in terms of selling books, but in terms of keeping my readers at the raw edges of their feeling — I had to give them more. I had to give them stories and characters they cared about. Because while a cock in a pussy is a dime a dozen, the right cock in the right pussy after the right stage-setting and buildup could be DYNAMITE.

That’s when it hit me: I could tell any story I wanted. And when the moment arrived for some of my characters to get down and dirty, I wouldn’t (couldn’t) flinch from the details.

Calling my writing “erotica” sucks, because it does two things: First, it implies that the sex is primary, and that little else matters because readers will always want to skip my irrelevant filler material to reach the good parts. And as we’ve discussed, it also imbues my work with a sense of shame for those who read it.

It’s erotica, right? So you’ve gotta hide it from Mom, because like Playboy, no one really gets erotica for the articles.

Bullshit. 

If you just want graphic descriptions of sex, head to the top 100 erotica list. You’ll find plenty. You’ll find compilations where women seduce gardeners over and over in a big anonymous circle. You’ll find yarns about handsome strangers who spread pretty ladies’ legs to eat pussy. There’s no distracting “substance” there, and you’ll be able to find all the whacking material you want.

On the other hand, if you want excellent stories that don’t shy away when things get hot, you’ve come to the right gal.

I’m forced to classify my stuff as erotica, but if I had my druthers, I’d classify it entirely differently.

Adult Video is laugh-out-loud hilarious. It’s comedy, pure and simple, and would be at home on HBO. Yes, Tiffany, Heather, and Seth sometimes have sex. But when you work in a dysfunctional adult video store, that’s par for the course.

The Future of Sex is hard sci-fi. Thanks to the genius of my co-authors Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant (who also created the world in which Future of Sex takes place), it’s also downright cerebral. The Future of Sex takes place in the year 2060, after a reshuffling of the world’s power has paved the way for a massive corporation, O, to use their influence to manipulate our society’s very conception of sex and pleasure. And through their beta access to a next-generation, AI-driven network called The Beam, they’re close to changing humanity and reality themselves.

Some Might Call it RomanceIf anyone is reading Adult Video or The Future of Sex just for the jizz, I would be sad. I put a hell of a lot more thought into creating experiences that go far beyond genitals when writing both. Put FOS in front of a sci-fi audience and an erotica audience, and I’ll bet the soak in my hole that sci-fi folks would devour it first.

Vampire fans would love Bitten.

Paranormal fans would love The XXX-Files.

Hell, Kill Bill fans would love Cheated.

Even my ace slut Autumn Cole has plenty of dimension. The Autumn Diaries and I Fucked Tucker Max are meant to be absurd and funny, but both harbor surprisingly sweet scenes between Autumn and her boyfriend, Sam. Autumn has a past that would make Belladonna blush, but now she’s with Sam. Autumn is faithful, and loves him deeply.

Hot monogamy.

One might even call it romance.

True Romance

There’s a Quentin Tarantino movie called True Romance that I absolutely love. Patricia Arquette plays Alabama, a prostitute. When she meets Christian Slater’s character, she decides to give up the life, and so he surprises Alabama by killing her pimp and his henchmen.

Alabama, seeing this, declares it, so romantic.

Quentin and I are two birds of a feather. He has the audacity to redefine romance in terms of murder and to position violence as funny. I do the same kinds of things, only with sex. Autumn forcing Sam to fuck her in an alley is romantic. Sucking Sam off in a public bookstore is romantic. And yes, the quiet moments they have alone, when Autumn stops being so damn “Autumn” and lets Sam lead, are romantic, too.

I’ve been in love three times, and all three times I’ve had amazing sex. Dirtier sex, sometimes, than I’ve had in casual, I-don’t-care encounters when single. The love of my life once fucked me so hard and so rough that I had bruises for weeks. The next night, we ate fondue as candlelight flickered.

Erotica and Romance TogetherIf you read my stories, then yes, you’re reading erotica. Technically. Because the booksellers have this way of classifying things, and readers have ways of looking for books they might like to read. Sometimes I’m forced to pick a path, and play the game of the one-sided coin. For most people, all products need positioning so they know which mental box to put it into. Books are no different.

For now, my books might be those you hide under a pillow.

But in time, as you get to know me, I hope you won’t see just the sex. I hope you’ll see the story. The characters. The variety. The adventure. The love. The romance. 

If I had my way, my genre would be “Lexi Maxxwell.” You’d know my genre as being characterized by honesty, and straight talk, and good characters, and good storylines.

I hope you’ll stick around long enough to stop hiding your books and readers.

I hope you’ll stay with me long enough to find the confidence to share the tales that move and inspire you — no matter how unflinching the lens on those tales may be.

 

If this post spoke to you, I need your help. 100% of my income comes from my words. That means I should be writing books (and that this post cost me money). If people are reading them, then I’m very happy, and would love to publish a new post like this each week. That’s where I need your help. Please share this post by clicking on any of the colorful buttons below and to your right. Don’t forget to use the email button — if you think this post will make a difference to someone you know, it probably will.
Lexi Maxxwell writes to make you FEEL or THINK. Her stories are hardcore and character driven. Nothing makes her hotter, wetter, or more electric than imagining you enjoying her work.
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28 Comments

  1. Thanks, Lexi, for sharing yourself, and for shouting in defense of complex stories. Hear, hear.

    Reply
    • Complex is better. Simple relationships are nice, but it’s too easy to start feeling itchy. Like stories, layers are best.

      Reply
  2. Amazingly powerful and oh so true. I’ve read erotica for a long time and for me its not all about the sex, its the story and the play between the characters. Its the characters that tell the story, not the sex.

    Reply
    • Exactly! And in bad erotica, it’s the sex that tries to tell a preposterous story. That’s brain plague for an intelligent reader.

      Reply
  3. Great thesis on erotica and romance. I am a reader of most of your books. Have left favorable comments and reviews. I am a 76 yr old 31 yr navy officer vet who still gets inspired to visit the bedroom after your books and my wife gets the prize.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Billy. Those are always my favorite sort of emails/comments, and a large part of why I love doing this all as much as I do. You’re wife’s a lucky lady. Give her hell! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Lexi, I know just how you feel.

    It seems to me that Fifty Shades of Grey was labeled Romance in bookstores (since there’s no Erotica section in most bookstores), so readers were a little shocked by the heat. I tried the same method of notoriety by categorizing in an odd category my erotic version of Goldilocks, Goldie’s Locks and the Three Men. Since Goldie is a thief who stakes out the mansion where three rich men live, I felt justified in categorizing it under crime fiction instead of erotica. Still, make no boners about it, Goldie’s Locks is very much erotica, but now it’s an Amazon bestseller in the crime fiction category right beside Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes books. 🙂

    Hugs and peckers,
    ~Liz

    Reply
    • Wow, I love your story, especially because there’s a lesson to be learned there. I wonder if I could get away with classifying The Future of Sex in straight sci-fi. Did you get any blowback from readers who were surprised that things went so far?

      Reply
      • Has anyone you collaborate with ever suggested that, or of classifying Adult Video as comedy? 🙂

        (With prominent warnings in the product description, of course.)

        Reply
        • As I told you, I’d worry about blowback from readers. That’s why I asked Liz.

          Reply
  5. Never has erotica and sex been stripped and exposed to the naked truth. Lexi, you write so eloquently and honestly; E.L. James is but a wanna-be. Thank you for reminding us of the sticky, sweaty, heart-wrenching truth. You are the best!!

    Reply
    • Oh my, I want that on a tee-shirt. Thanks Danny!

      Reply
  6. I write erotica and have for years and this is *exactly* what I was trying to explain to a friend yesterday. My “smut” is good enough, but it’s to the point where I don’t even enjoy writing it anymore because to me it’s like a Penthouse letter – a simple stroke story with no pesky plot aside from when, where, and how they fuck. It could be so much more than that!

    So I know exactly what you mean. Thanks for putting it into words.

    Grace

    Reply
    • If it isn’t more than that (for me), I feel like I’m absolutely wasting my time. I want to sink into everything I write.

      Reply
  7. Lexi has the unique ability to strike the delicate balance in turning eroticism toward love versus sex which AIN’T easy.

    Reply
    • Thanks PW. That sounds like a high compliment to me. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Lexi,

    Thank you for a well thought out, and excellently worded essay. Good writing is a joy that should be experienced and shared. I hope that you continue to share with us here, and with your fiction. The world is better for your input.

    Reply
    • Thanks Maxx (love your name!). I can’t stand talking to myself, so as long as readers are showing up here, I promise to keep giving them things to look at when they do!

      Reply
  9. Love your spirit, Lexi. Obviously I feel the same way, but your eloquence in expressing it is off the hook.

    Although I’ll add that I wouldn’t be SAD if people skipped the story in Future of Sex and Adult Video. I’d be PISSED, since those parts are all that Sean and I write. 🙂

    Reply
    • Mumbo jumbo. You shouldn’t take it personally with Future of Sex. That’s sciency stuff, and boring for some (I was barely tolerating it anyway). But you should take it personally in Adult Video. Because that means you’re not funny, but I’m still hot.

      Reply
  10. “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman

    “That’s what she said!” – me

    Reply
  11. This is an excellent read and I concur 100%. I keep thinking of dipping my feet in real erotica but everything feels a stilted. I am working my way to it and I think I will be making my first stab this year. I thing writing erotica is sort of like writing horror. There are thousands of cheap slasher/torture porn stories out there for every well crafted piece of horror. Thanks for writing this Lexi.

    Reply
  12. You have to own it. Until you believe every word you’re saying, it will always feel off to the reader. Great analogy, and you’re welcome. 🙂

    Reply
  13. I have to share this with you. First I’m sorry if a few reviews from amazon have been deleted from you. I usually write my reviews from my home computer. I kept wondering why I didn’t get confirmations. I just figured it was something I wrote did not meet their standards. I was talking to my father today about the nook I got him for xmas and he was going off about identity thief and how someone was leaving reviews of dirtybooks under mom’s name. I started laughing and went to my computer and mom was still signed in from her december to january visit. I had to confess to him it was me to get him to calm down. I told him to put mom on the phone. I asked her what happened and she started telling me some pervert was writing reviews of dirty books( mean while I’m peeing myself laughing) then she goes on to tell me she had to call amazon and talk to some man about how a 78 yr old good christain women doesn’t read these things.. she told him she hasn’t had sex since before he was born.. I lost it at that point and confessed the pervert was me… dead silence for twenty seconds then being the good christain women she is she said, ” get the hell out of my account and hide your smut in pride and prejudice like we did.”. Love my mom and we laughed her the next half an hour.. thank you Lexi. I’ve come out of my dungeon closet with both mom and dad… so funny

    Reply
    • WTF? I could have sworn I answered this!! I do know I read it out loud to one of my friends because it made me laugh out loud. Thanks so much for the comment, the story, and all the wonderful reviews. I appreciate you. 🙂

      Reply
  14. Lexi like always I love reading all that you write keep writing and I will keep reading

    Reply

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