Recently I had a quarrel with a girlfriend over the term 'kiss and tell'. She was using it pejoratively while I feel writing about sexual relations with another human should not be viewed disparagingly any more than the act. How is it we can make love and not write love? Henry Miller did it. He wrote about June in Tropic of Capricorn and no one I know accused him of "kissing and telling". Meaning that he wrote trash. Of course, Anais Nin, Colette and D.H.Lawrence all wrote about sex, but I'm talking non fiction--writing about what really happened. Because that is what I do.
When I was in Hollywood and dating the stars, my phone was always busy the day after my exciting, sexual encounters. Friends would call for the details and I would fill them in. Sure it was bragging, but it also was reliving the excitement of the events of the splendid evening before. It was a celebration of loins.
How is it that writing about sex with men or women in non fiction is viewed as salacious? Tacky? Naughty? (It seems plenty of people want to read about it as they put down the writing.)
Pity the hypocrisy we live with about the sex act. About making love.
We love to make love, yet are ashamed when we read about this. Heaven help us if someone should read about and enjoy the good, romantic, erotic, sensual feelings we experienced with another human being.
It's okay to write about crime or murder but not love and our oh-so private parts. Why is it wrong to write about genitalia when we are just sharing with the reader the rich sensual emotions we feel during the act of making love? We do it in life but can't do it on the page? What's wrong with eroticism? Why are we so ashamed about sex?
The Pilgrims landed a long time ago, but the Puritan ethic pervades the written world. Our world.
Oh, it's not literary. Is that it? They said this about Colette in her hay day. Let's dispel this shame by saying it's badly written whether this is true or not.
Did you feel any pleasure reading it? So why deny yourself this joy. Why attribute this pleasure to a derogatory term like 'kiss and tell' that is laden it with the forbidden--guilt.
Yes, there is writing and there is writing. And there is good writing. The Philadelphia Inquirer called my first novel, Flash, about a female exhibitionist an "erotic comic tour de force." and London's Time Out wrote, "It's great to see a woman writing in such a sexually explicit way...(Erica Jong can go fly a kite--this girl has never even considered wearing underwear. This fast, funny female read is not just for women; if men have ever wondered about 'girl talk', this'll scare the pants off them, Whatever your motives, ) Flash is a f***ing good book."
Sure, you say, that's fiction.
Well, in my memoir Loving Mailer I have tried not to tell, but to show the reader what it was like to make love to Norman Mailer. And to Warren Beatty in his prime. To lift that veil of shame, with the hope that the reader could feel these erotic moments and not be ashamed of feeling a part of or enjoying the experience. I wanted to take the reader there.
Of course there are always readers who will snigger, who will get a kick out of putting down sex writing, getting off on feeling superior to it all. I hope they enjoy themselves.
They're missing the good parts.