Prologue (How a simple photo essay evolved into a tome in just a day and a half!)
I started what was supposed to be an easy little photo essay on the blurry-eyed morning of Day Three of Erotica with Raymond wandering around in our enormous kitchen making very much-needed coffee. I had planned to blog every day, and my Friday blog had gone out without a hitch and relatively little cursing on my part –
relatively little, so I was expecting happy trails. Well, there were a few technical hitches along the way, and a bit of name-calling (me to the computer) so you get the end result the day after, much expanded, quickly written, and not at all like I’d intended, but it’s an adventure! And so it was!
Saturday: Erotica, Day Two.
Day two began with a wait for the special tube train that delivers people to the Olympia Convention Centre at
regular intervals. It was great to be stood in the brisk morning chill among the folks clad in PVC and leather, gorgeous burlesquish style costumes, leashes, collars, thigh-high boots! It was a people watcher’s paradise, and one in which the people were actually happy to BE watched.
When we arrived, Raymond and I had a quick wander about amid the dungeon furnishings, fake mammaries, corsets, leather, riding crops and scantily clad women piled in a bathtub. (I’ll get back to them later, because we certainly did get back to them later!) Then there was the gentleman who kept asking if he could polish my boots…
After a wander about and a quick visit to the Xcite Stand, we were off to the first Xcite event of the day, the Reading Slam, MC’ed by the fabulous Liz Coldwell. Besides yours truly, readers included Victoria Blisse, Lucy Felthouse, Kay Jaybee, blogger, Georgia McCrae and for the first time ever, in front of a live audience, Lexie Bay, who acquitted herself very well, indeed! Each of the readings lasted only five minutes, but that made for an hour of sizzling heat. I think it was probably a very good thing that the
room was cold when we arrived. And the chairs must have been really uncomfortable because there was a lot of shifting around in them as the readings progressed. I certainly found the room seemed hotter and hotter as the hour progressed.
There were lots of photo ops, and we advantage! Of course there had to be the traditional photo in front of the Erotica Wall. I am sure that will become a tradition. Kay Jaybee and I had our picture taken a year ago standing there together at our first ever Erotica, and now we were back. What a difference a year makes! Now our circle of fab writing friends had expanded, so we took our photo op in front of the wall, Lucy Felthouse, Lexie Bay, Rebecca Bond, Kay Jaybee and me. There are lots of others we wish could have joined us there. But next year’s coming!
We managed a quick lunch in the food court, With the Blisses, the Bays, Lucy Felthouse and her lovely Ian, Kay Jaybee and the lovely Rebecca Bond. I’m not sure what I ate. I was too busy watching. PVC was in abundance as were well displayed breasts, males in very tiny underwear only, people on leashes and even a few people in diapers. Oh yes, Erotica is a people watching paradise. It’s nice to be able to blatantly stare and have people only look at you and smile — sometimes politely, sometimes wolfishly. But all in good fun.
Surrounded by smutters, as I was, I could almost hear the wheels of creativity turning in their lovely heads, as they were in my own. I have no doubt there will be stories.
After a nibble and a good look-see, we headed off to the panel, chaired by Jane Wenham-Jones. The panel included Kay Jaybee, Lucy Felthouse, Victoria Bliss and Kitti Bernetti, all Xcite writers extraordinaire. Jane asked fantastic questions about what it’s like to be an erotic author, and there was good participation from the audience as well – many of whom followed us over to the Xcite stand afterward where lots of books were sold and signed by the authors.
By seven, the crowd was beginning to dissipate from
around the stand, and it came to the part I hate most, saying good-bye to all of my smutter friends who I only get to see on occasions like Erotica. I adore Facebook, Twitter and email mostly because it keeps me in touch with these fabulous, talented ladies and their wonderfully supportive other halfs (halves??).
When all the good-byes were said and the Xcite stand was shut up for the night, Hazel Cushion, Xcite’s fearless leader, invited Raymond and me to join her, the adorable Matt Peterson, who does internet marketing for Xcite, Peter Newsom, Accent Press’s amazing sales director and his lovely wife, Sheilah and the fabulous Jane Wenham-Jones for dinner. It didn’t seem at all strange sitting in Pizza Express putting away masses of wine, pizza and nibbles, talking about sex, erotica and writing erotica and… well sex… when the people at the neighbouring tables were dressed in cat suits, devil tails and horns and crotch-high boots. Fabulously interesting company we keep! The folks at our table might have all looked rather ordinary, but that just goes to show looks can be deceiving.
Afterwards, back in our tiny mansion, we did manage to get pictures downloaded before total collapse into sleep-deprived oblivion.
Sunday: Erotica, Day 3
Madame Grumpy Bear got a whole lot happier after long-suffering hubby brought her a second cup of coffee. Techno-problems
brought on by lack of sleep a sudden, but not unusual outbreak of techno-duncism meant that my grandiose plans of a blog post every day of Erotica wasn’t going to happen. A little pout, a hot shower, a bit of slap (that’s slang for make-up… not spanking…) and the scary beast became tame enough to take out into public. Raymond is good with scary beasts.
The day started out a little quieter. No doubt everyone was having a Sunday lie-in before donning the nosebleed stilettos and corsets and heading on over to Erotica. It gave Raymond and me a chance to look around before the panel started. We caught a performance by the Dream Boys in the gallery, and browsed through some of the fabulous erotic art, which was also displayed in the gallery.
Then it was time for the panel. Today was my day. I was on the panel with Liz Coldwell, Toni Sands and Maxim Jakubowski. Again, the vivacious Jane Wenham-Jones chaired the panel, and there was a lively
discussion, albeit a smaller audience than the day before, about the quality of internet erotica as opposed to print erotica, what made good erotica and what inspired us to write. Afterwards we all went back at the stand to sign books and answer questions.
There were more readings in the afternoon, and when we were finished it was back to the stand for more signings and chats with customers. This was prime time. The books were practically flying out of the spinners. It was exciting to sign books and even on the odd occasion, have the person buying Holly or Pets – sometime both, want a photo op with the author. Good for the ego? You betcha!
When there was a bit of a lull in the book selling action, we slipped across to the main stage to watch Dance Seduction, and all I can say is wow! Sex on the dance floor. Exquisitely beautiful and hotter than hot, especially the fabulous, heart-stopping m/m dance next to the finale. It was not only hot, sexy and gorgeous, but deeply moving as well.
And there were other fabulous stars out and about too. I think one of the highlights of my evening was when
Delores Deluxe stopped by the stand, saw Pets on the spinner and said to Dave, the Cub (more about the fabulous Dave in a bit) who was with her, ‘Oh I know her.’ Raymond happened to overhear and grabbed me. OMG! Delores Deluxe, burlesque goddess extraordinaire remembered mio! She and Dave invited us the LGBT stage in the gallery – the first year for an LGBT stage at Erotica, actually, but it definitely won’t be the last – for the performance, in which we get to see Dave’s arse. Well, I’m not one to turn down a chance to look at a great arse, am I? It was the last performance of the evening on the LGBT stage, and we were not about to miss it.
We had a bit of time before the performance, so we decided to go back and check out the hot chicks romping in the bathtub that I’d mentioned earlier. We’d only just made the connection that these lovelies and the whole exquisite set-up were a part of The House of Burlesque (we’re a little slow at times) I’m absolutely sure the highlight of Raymond’s evening was meeting the burlesque beauties, who very kindly did the honours of allowing us to photograph them reading ‘The Pet Shop,’ in and around their lovely claw foot bathtub. It was… well, best you just check out the piccies!
If the highlight of Raymond’s evening was photographing the lovelies from the House of Burlesque, the highlight of mine had to be when mid-song and dance, the very well-built, very delicious, scantily clad Dave the Cub came and sat right down on Raymond’s lap while belting it out. Sadly it all happened way too fast for me to get a photo, but it definitely is permanently stamped in my memory. The look on Raymond’s face — priceless! The show on the LGBT stage was one of the most fun parts of the weekend for us. The amazing combo of burlesque, bearlesque, and bawdy, yummy performances by Fancy Chance and Tranny Shack was high energy, outrageous and just flat out fun, all MCed by the fabulous Tempest Rose. We definitely returned to the Xcite stand with smiles on our faces.
By that time most of the people had gone; things were winding down. We said our good-byes to the Xcite folks, happy to see
very few copies of Holly or Pets remaining behind. Hazel assured us that she had already booked the spot for next year and planning and scheming was in the works. Then we caught the tube back to Waterloo and the train on home.
It was only when I got home, as is appropriate, that I got the cherry on the delicious Erotica cake, and it was in the form of this fabulous interview of Hazel by the folks at Erotica.The muchly appreciated shout-out for me starts at about 3:45. My feet haven’t touched the ground since.
I feel like I’ve come away from this weekend having reconnected with old friends and celebrating with them their successes, while sharing and scheming our future projects and sharing what erotica is to us and what writing the story is to us. I feel that I’ve also come away from this weekend having made new friends and new connections, which is always an expansive, heady experience. As I think back to last year when Kay Jaybee and I spent a few happy hours at Erotica on a Saturday afternoon, I have to say it again. What a difference a year makes!