Author Peggy Munson has written an erotic story about a serious freakshow: “Fairgrounds”— her contribution to Best American Erotica 2006.
In her story, a queer femme with some serious sex hungers gets a tour of the seamy side of the Midway by her “Daddy” dyke lover, and finally hooks up with a crippled “boi” who works the fairgrounds:
Daddy stopped to buy me funnel cakes so I’d get powdered sugar on my hands and then he licked it off while passers-by clucked meddling tongues.
"I need it Daddy, please," I whispered in his ear.
He got distracted and stopped to try and cop some plush by throwing rings at a grid of Coke bottles. I saw the Octopus Man skulking by, but the crowd was cheering as Daddy got a ringer.
"We’ve got a sharpie!" the Carnie yelled, pulling down a giant blue bear with his shepherd’s crook.
Daddy told me I could put the bear between my legs at night when I was waiting up for him. He said the bear was wicked just like me— and liked rubbing up against the Coke bottles while Carnies slept. He asked me if I would like to feel the Coke bottle inside his pants.
I grinned and said, "Yes, Daddy, please." I loved it when he let me know my waiting time was up. He led me back behind the line of game booths where the narrow alley filled with aromatic funnel cake exhaust.
The way you describe kinky sex at the Midway reminds me a lot of how gay life used to be described in pre-Stonewall pulp novels, where everyone is crazy and dangerous— all with tremendous allure.
The carnival is a place that once recruited people whose very physicality made them social outcasts. Freaky outsiders could always flip things around, prey on rubes, and create a magical alternate reality— like queer culture.
But truthfully, I often go to a magical place full of bearded ladies when I write.
How do you relate to mainstream lesbian life portrayed in pop culture: the Ellen's, and Melissa's, and other dyke celebutantes?
I once flipped to a TV episode of “Martha,” where Melissa Ethridge showed Martha Stewart how to make her favorite cookie recipe. She made horrible-looking lesbian cookies: granola-y and unappetizing. Melissa mixed them with her bare hands while Martha pretended to be all post-joint jiggy with it.
I love Melissa Ethridge for being so outspoken about cancer, but I did not want to eat her cookies. That's how I feel about celebrity dykes: I like when they're proud and making waves, but their cookies are not sexy to me. I need sexy cookies.
Your “boi" is in a wheelchair. It made me recall MacCauley Culkin in his role as a a horny kid in a chair in the fundie satire movie, SAVED! What did you think of his portrayal as a sexual person, rather than the innocent "crippled" boy?
When I saw the preview for Saved! I thought, "My God! Does someone dare to defy the inspirational crip narrative?"
The filmmakers did. It was great.
Disability theorists talk about the limited portrayals of disabled folks in the media, and how they often tend to fall into a finite set of stereotypes, such as the "supercrip" and "heartstring-yanker."
Every disabled person I know is super-horny and talks constantly about sex. Yet disabled writers bitch about how nobody will publish their stories about disabled people fucking, as if there is no "market" for this work— or, as one publisher told me, it's too "serious" and "issue-oriented." Do I still have to point out why this is offensive?
Our culture believes that disabled members of society should accept subhuman conditions: poverty-level government disability benefits, horrible institutional conditions, etc.
Some disabled folks need adaptive equipment to have sex, but can't afford new shoes.
Some disabled folks need personal care attendants to help them have sex.
These are such taboo ideas: that a disabled person should not only be allowed to survive, but should be provided the means to pleasure.
It's a huge loss to the cultural dialog around sex. Who knows more about the body and what it can do, than those who face their limitations, work around them, and expand sexuality into untapped senses?
Do you feel obligated to write consciousness-raising material about living (and fucking) with a disability, or do you say, "To Hell With It"?
For most of the last thirteen years, I've known my bed, a few rooms, and my body's dreams and demands. I've seen the world through TV screens and windows, and thus writing fun sexy prose evolved out of that.
Writing smut has been a way for me to escape my disability, and to "write what I know." In my forthcoming novel, Origami Striptease, I portray disabled characters who deal with hard-core issues, like caregiver abuse and battering— but they also have wild, interesting, amazing sex.
I never intended to write erotica. But almost all of my writing over the past decade became about sex or illness, and both writings have freed me. I feel a sense of mission around disability, and a lot of this has to do with survivalism: the more I create a positive portrayal of disability, the more people are forced to broaden their views on what disabled people deserve in life.