Friday, June 06, 2008

Best Lesbian Erotica 08

Edited by Tristan Taormino
Selected by Ali Liebegott
Best Lesbian Erotica 08

Published by Cleis Press

Reviewed by Helena Lukowska


If only I had been able to get a hand on this book when I was sixteen. I didn’t know any queers at that age and had to rely on what I could imagine to satiate my hormones. Back then a girl-on-girl snog in Brookside was exciting, so this book would have blown my mind. In ‘Best Lesbian Erotica 08’ we meet geeky gender queers, femme tops, old skool butches, daddies, dommes, tranny boys, scruffy subs, fetishists of all kinds, vampires, lots of hot (consensual!) violence, a lot of silicone dick and all kinds of fun in-between.

The fact that I’m not sixteen anymore doesn’t detract from this being a really good compilation of stories. It’s just that these days I’m not as interested in written erotica and I have this sneering petulant streak that finds the phrase ‘Lesbian Erotica’ quite cringey and wants to find fault. Negative associations with the words ‘Lesbian Erotica’ are something editor Ali Liebegott herself addresses in the introduction. She describes her first time buying dyke erotica: a book of lesbian ‘erotic poems’ saturated with images of dolphins and mangoes. In a move that was surely dangerous, she recalls, ‘I remember trying to jerk off as I was driving home with my new book, but I was unable to find anything stimulating as I turned page after page’. But ‘Lesbian Erotica 08’ is queer as they come (cheesy ‘sensual’ cover notwithstanding) without sacrificing hot old skool dyke action and there are still many opportunities for single-handed pant-spunking even if you don’t usually read a lot of written erotica.

The fucking that goes on in this collection is not just fucking in the sex sense, but also fucking with notions of identity, expectation, gender, etc. In Tamai Kobayashi’s ‘Different Girls’ we get an exploration into what it means to be tough, shy or weak, and how these are really arbitrary categories. It’s a really sweet coming of age tale and raises one of many involuntary smiles when the shy protagonist checks out ‘what she’s done’ to her tough girl first-lover the morning after. In Radclyffe’s ‘Sweet No More’ a novice walks into an almost exclusively gay man sex club where you can’t move for piles of spunk, and watches a scene involving a skillful homo fister viewed from behind who turns out to be –gasp!- a dyke and pleasure pain pleasure fun ensues in the filthy surroundings. ‘Storm Chasers’ is one of the most compelling stories, set in the world of runaway, or ‘running around’, teenage Amish queers and climaxes in a hot four way ‘kidnap’ scene. Another personal favourite is ‘And the Stars Never Rise’ by Missy Leach which features a dorky gender queer photographer snooping around a femme top’s apartment only to be trapped, humiliated and punished in a highly erotic way. It’s also campy and warm and funny. Cheesy can be good sometimes.

OK, so there are the inevitable cringey moments but as a set of stories this is good. The range of stories means invariably the reader will like some things more than others and there will be a few not-so-hot/interesting/compelling moments. I guess Erotica is as subjective as any other literature. Also, this is obviously one to read ‘at your leisure’, dipping in and out as you see fit. Reading lots of different erotic stories in one go can get a bit wearing as you always have at least a vague idea of what is going to transpire!
Overall a really good collection of stories. Enjoy!


Helena Lukowska is a sometime writer, sometime dj, sometime performer and most of the time layabout, currently living in Brighton. She can be contacted at hlukowska@gmail.com

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