An interview with Susie Bright, on The Best American Erotica series, from
The Boston Phoenix:
Q: Are there ever writers who don’t want to be included in BAE?
SB: At the very beginning.I remember asking John Nichols if I could reprint a story of his that I liked very much, and he said, "You want to reprint it in what? Best American what?" It was like I had just invited him to join me in my trash-trailer-park cheese-ball orgy or something. I sent him a copy and he said, "Okay, it’s not as bad as I thought, but people just don’t realize what you’re doing. It’s a very valiant effort, but no thank you." Then a couple of years later he sent me a note that said, "That was so dumb. I really wish I’d been in your book."
Nowadays, no. I almost wish somebody would get upset! It’s much more commercial. It’s like, "Well, how much are you paying?" Believe me, I’m all for writers getting paid, because I certainly include myself among them. It’s just interesting that there’s not a sense of putting yourself in danger or ruining yourself.
It used to be erotic writers were kind of presenting sexual lifestyles and behavior that maybe you hadn’t heard about before. It was like— "Wow, fisting? You’re kidding. Jell-O orgies? Never heard of them! Transgender — what’s that?" There was this sense of opening the curtain and showing things. Now, you’re not going to surprise people with sexual behavior, you really have to go deeper into the character and suprises of human nature....
Q. You've been writing, editing and critiquing erotica for years now. Would you mind introducing our readers to some classics of the genre?
SB : I think everyone has their own personal history of the books they first read that they realized were "hot." I remember a copy of The Godfather that was being passed around my seventh grade classroom with the "dirty parts" marked in turned-down pages. When I got older, I went back to look at what was so "dirty' and I just had to laugh-- it was Mario Puzo's version of The Farmer's Daughter, a bawdy story with no shortage of purple prose.
I also remember the first time I read erotic stories that I realized were being told with a degree of insight and depth that took them into another dimension. They were "hot," but they also were profound on other levels. I remember John Updike's "Couples" and Charles Bukowski's "Notes of a Dirty Old Man." I remember taking "Story of O" on my first major backpacking trip into the Sierras for a month of bushwacking. I remember how spooked I was that the two books I packed: "O" and "Gravity's Rainbow," Both ended with unfinished sentences.
My introduction to "plain brown wrappers" came much later. I picked up a hitchhiker on Valencia St., which much have been the last of his kind in the 1980s, and he left a brown-bag covered paperback in the back seat when he left, titled: "Dueling Lesbians in Bondage." What a treasure...