Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Friday, April 25, 2014

Going There

By Big Ed Magusson (Guest Blogger)


"She never mentions the word addiction in certain company."--Black Crowes, She Talks to Angels

In 1991, I drove into Tucson a mental wreck. I was returning to an academic career in shambles. I'd driven 900 miles to propose to the love of my life only to have her first tell me about kissing a new guy. It was over a hundred degrees in my tiny apartment, I had no friends in town, and precious few anywhere else. I went looking for a place that was dark and cool and wouldn't mind if I just sat for hours without doing much.

I found Temptations.

It was an appropriate name for a strip club and for what it offered. For a few dollars, I could sit quietly in the dark and have beautiful naked women pay attention to me. I had the cash. I had free afternoons. And after a while, I had more.

Solace. Comfort. Escape.

And then, over time, a life that narrowed to my trips to the club.

My story The Fix (on my site here and also in the ERWA Treasure Chest here) captures this slice of my past. There's a pleasure that only the obsessed can understand—that pleasure of final attainment. At the same time, the obsession itself is an inward knife's blade—constant stabs of nerves and fears and self-loathing.

There's a saying in the twelve step world: the addiction is not the problem. The addiction is the crappy solution to the problem. Fix the underlying problems as I did (or become more mature), and the addiction either disappears or drops back to a manageable craving. There’s even some scientific backing to this (here).

But try explaining that to people.

All too often, our culture forces a black or white model onto addiction. On the one hand, addicts are terrible people with destroyed lives. On the other, we celebrate the overindulgence of addictive acts—"we were so wasted" describes a good time on too many college campuses.

This is particularly true in erotica and porn. One of Marilyn Chambers' big hits was Insatiable, about a nymphomaniac; an archetype regularly celebrated in male-oriented porn. Scores of erotica conventions and tropes draw on the power of sex and the human attraction toward it.  We've "gotta have it." Mainstream literary fiction is left to dwell on the question of whether that's truly a good thing, even though mainstream fiction all too often portrays sex negatively or unerotically, as Remittance Girl discusses here.

So, do we dare go there? Do we dare portray sexual addiction in erotica in a realistic nuanced fashion?

There’s only one way I know to find out—write the stories and see. It promises to be an interesting experiment.

Bio

Big Ed Magusson has been writing erotica for the past decade. More of his work can be found at www.besplace.com and www.besplacebooks.com, including some of his Addictive Desires stories. He plans to release an anthology of the Addictive Desires stories later this year.



14 comments:

  1. great piece, Ed. i really enjoyed your story, the Fix too.

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  2. Mmm, I'm a Tucsonan. Lot of strip clubs here. :) I've wondered about sexual addiction--I would like to see it explored more in fiction. Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Renee. Glad there's an audience. ;-) And yes, there are a lot of strip clubs in Tucson. I haven't been back in fifteen years, but I still have very strong memories...

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  3. One thing I love about your stories, Ed, is that they are always about "problems". There's no simple fuck in the world - or at least, not many - and your tales illustrate that fact. Thanks for being a guest blogger!

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  4. Thanks, Lisabet. I just try to write emotionally real stories and as much fun as the fantasies are, that's all they are.

    That said, I'm going to have to steal that line for a story title ("A Simple Fuck."). ;-)

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  5. Hi, Ed,

    Great blog piece and I'll reiterate Lisabet's comment about how your stories are not straightforward fuck pieces. For my money, the complexity you weave into your stories is what makes sex in fiction interesting. Your storytelling style, which is basically transformed into "I *have* to finish reading this," when it gets into the hands of the reader, is reflected in your blog-writing style...entertaining, riveting, satisfying.

    A discussion for elsewhere, I agree with your agreement of the assertion that "addiction is the crappy solution to the problem." I've felt that way about addiction (including addictive sexual behaviour) for decades. I have dealt with sexual addiction/obsession in some of my stories.

    And what great advice from you to explore this topic through simply writing the stories. The possibilities are endless.

    Thanks for good reads.

    Rose ;-)

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    1. Thanks, Rose. The complexity is what I'm looking for and I appreciate the compliments.

      And I think fiction is a great way to explore stuff we don't dare do in real life. And even some things we do. ;-)

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  6. I'll play devil's advocate. I don't believe there's such a thing as "sexual addiction." This piece, though, takes its existence so much for granted that it does not even explicitly mention the term. We're all supposed to accept that there is such a thing.

    Even if it did exist, the actions here seem to be an addiction of sorts, but I wouldn't call it "sexual addiction." Addiction to going to that "cool, dark place" he mentions. Addiction to the "solace, comfort, escape" mentioned. And for sure, a crappy solution to a real problem.

    But: what is "sexual addiction"? Someone who likes sex too much or engages in sex "too much" to escape the problems of life? Why not make every form of escape into an "addiction"? I'm addicted to long walks on the pier at sunset to escape thoughts about the fact that my cat was just diagnosed with a deadly form of lymphosarcoma.

    I'm addicted to long talks with friends over glasses of wine to escape feeling disconnected.

    Everything can be labaled an "addiction" and I'm opposed to that practice. Let's label addictions only things that are bad for you. Sex is not (generally speaking) bad for you.

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    1. A psychological addiction (vs. a chemical one) is when a behavior becomes so compulsive that it damages the person's life. Blowing your grocery money on lapdances is bad. Blowing your grocery money on lapdances week after week, even when you say, "this week will be different", would be considered an addictive behavior.

      It is true that the term gets thrown around casually and often inappropriately for behaviors that aren't really addictions. It's also true that the term "sex addiction" is a misnomer. Every sex addict I've known wasn't addicted to sex. Their issues were tied to some specific behavior or feeling that had a sexual component. So they get lumped together.

      Sex is not the problem. Sex was just a crappy, compulsive solution to the problem.

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    2. Part of the "addiction" in the case of "sexual addiction" is superficially psychological, but is, in fact, physiological. There is a dependency on "chemicals."

      Just because we produce the chemicals ourselves, doesn't mean we can't start developing a dependency on them. The endorphins that are released during arousal and orgasm and the adrenaline rush that comes for doing something exciting and often dangerous produce highs that can become something that is craved more and more often. The addiction isn't to sex, per se, but to the sensations produced by the chemicals that are released during activities in which one engages. In this case, the activities are sexual in nature. The addiction can be to the power surge that comes with "conquests," or the danger that comes with the awareness that one is doing something that is going against the rules of acceptable behaviour that creates the excitement of being found out, or just doing something that goes against the rules..

      If someone is unable to confine these urges, and the satisfaction thereof, to specific times and places, where they don't interfere with the normal elements of his/her life, and he/she starts skipping school, or work, or staying up till 2, or 3, or 4 a.m. surfing porn sites, when he/she has to be up at 6 a.m. to go to work, then that definitely ventures into the realm of addiction.

      So, Ed, you're right, a psychological addiction, can be just as damaging if it goes unchecked.

      Rose ;-)

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    3. Grin. This will show up in a couple of future stories when I tackle the "speedball" sensation more directly. For those who don't get the reference, a speedball is a mixture of heroin and caffeine and is supposed to make the high even higher, if balanced correctly. Of course, it's also very easy to overdose (RIP John Belushi).

      Testosterone and adrenaline are a naturally occurring speedball for some of us. Part of me getting to a healthier place was learning to recognize when I was speedballing and damp it down until I was in an acceptable locale.

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  7. Big Ed,

    I'm proud of you. Waiting for your anthology. As someone who has been obsessed with sex since I was six, I understand addictive behavior tries to fulfil a need not readily understood by the person suffering from the compulsion. Doesn't mean sex is bad or addiction doesn't exist. Just means we all have things in life our brain latches onto and those mental addictions are harder to shake than physical ones.

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    1. Yep. Nodding in agreement.

      And working on story #9 now. ;-)

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