The Intelligent Dress

A quick note about the dangers of writing erotica that has a near-future science-fiction element: things can come true more quickly that you expect.

Corporate Slave Cover

Corporate Slave Cover

In my novel Corporate Slave (you can buy it on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and in a bunch of other places listed on the ‘Our Published Work‘ page) one part of the plot revolves around an ‘intelligent dress’, which has a number of functions. These include internet connectivity and the ability to carry out surveillance of other nearby electronic equipment, the ability to functino as body armour and the ability to change colour depending on the mood of the wearer. In circumstances of sexual arousal the dress may become transparent.

When I wrote the book I knew that prototype jackets with built-in cellphones existed. I knew that some forms of plastic were and are under development that can shock impacts by stiffening. And I knew that some other materials exist that change colour if given a particular type of electrical charge. These are all separate developments that I bundled together into one item.

Bear with me here. The BBC has just published an article about road technology (which you can read here). The key detail of the article is that the technology now exists to embed self-illuminating road signs in the surface of roads, and it’s being tested at the moment in the Netherlands. But there’s a comment in the article about something else: the technology has been developed by the artist Daan Roosegaarde, famous for interactive projects, and a manager at the Dutch civil engineering firm, Hans Goris. And

Mr Roosegaarde’s past efforts have included a dance floor with built-in disco lights powered by dancers’ foot movements, and a dress that becomes see-through when the wearer is aroused.

You can read more about the Intimacy 2.0 dress on Roosegarde’s own website, including pictures and video – and there’s a longer journalistic piece on YouTube that explains the leather and e-foil dress moves from opaque to transparent as the wearer’s heart-rate increases.

And for men? Well, that could be even more interesting. Roosegarde says ‘We’re working on a suit that becomes transparent when you lie’.

 

 

Something new, something old: End of Season

I was going to do an intelligent blog about writing projects. I have a few under way, including an erotic epic poem, a piece based on found text – pieces of paper found as rubbish in the street – and half a dozen others. They’ve been under way for some time, though, and I’m not sure when or if they’ll see publication. Sometimes as a writer, or indeed any other type of creative, you start something with no idea where it will lead or whether you’ll be able to bring it to a successful conclusion.
However I’m not feeling very intelligent today, so instead here’s a reworked segment of something I wrote last year that I never found a home for. If you like it I could post more…

 

End of Season

The east coast of England is a patchwork of caravan and chalet sites, like so many refugee camps butted up against each other. They were popular fifty years ago, before cheap air travel took holiday-makers away to the Mediterranean. Then they became ghettoes for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t travel abroad for their summer vacation. With the recession, they’re popular again.

It’s the end of the season, the holidaymakers have left and the family that owns the site is in Spain for a month. Ghislaine and Danny have the whole site to themselves. They’re cleaning, doing maintenance, mothballing the site for the off-season. But also, importantly, they have the whole site to themselves.

Ghislaine works her way around the site, cleaning the units for the last time this season. It’s fast work because there’s no need to ready the units for more occupants. Outside, as she moves from unit to unit, there’s a cool sea breeze but repetitive physical movements keep her warm enough, in her stripped-down choice of short shorts and skinny T-shirt.

She’s pretty sure Danny will be at the clubhouse when she’s finished. She’s pretty sure what he’ll have in mind. That thought, as well as her work, keeps her warm. Keeps her warm in special places. In fact, it’s that more than anything that gives her a glow of perspiration. Of anticipation.

Ghislaine also knows it will end soon. In less than a week she’ll be out of here. Danny will be part of her sexual history, she’ll be part of his. That’s just how it goes.

When they started this project of realising each other’s fantasies, she thought she’d be able to predict Danny’s preferences. The point of fantasies is of course that they’re deeply seated, transgressive, and not always in the best taste. That said, she suspected his fantasies were more conventional than her own. Fuck in every part of the site, the chilren’s play area, the pool table in the clubhouse, the middle of the big central lawn. A lot of blowjobs. Her acting out the part of a drunk teenager, a slutty barmaid, a burglar or a street hooker waiting to be picked up.

He did have those fantasies. They did act them out. But maybe she’d just thought her own fantasies were deeper, or more creative, simply because she’d had more life experience than Danny, had more education and was somehow more sophisticated. Whatever she’d thought, it’s wrong.

When Ghislaine finally walks back into the clubhouse, the tables are cleared away – except for one that is evidently for a teacher, and a smaller one for a pupil. She doesn’t have much in her wardrobe that’s schoolmistressy, but she can improvise. Hair up (it normally fell to the middle of her back), some lipstick, heels that gave her a catwalk prance, and she’s completely in character.

What she doesn’t expect is that Danny’s wearing a short pleated skirt, while his shirt bulges to accommodate a bra stuffed with old tights. His normally shaven scalp is hidden by a cheap blonde wig, the kind they sell in the tourist shops in town.

And on the teacher’s desk: a cane, a dildo and a bottle of lube.

There’s a small blackboard balanced on a chair – the one they use to write daily lists of site activities. On it, Danny – or Dani – has written: Tha teecher punised Dani wiv sicks stroks of a kane and then fuked her in the ars wiv a dilldo.

What had surprised her when he finally admitted it was that his deepest, most intense fantasy was being taught how to spell. Because, he said, he’d never exactly paid attention to reading and writing in school. He’d been too busy doing speed and stealing cars.

He genuinely can’t spell properly, and it takes many more than six strokes of the ‘kane’ to make him learn. Ghislaine creates a spelling test that includes the words blowjob, bondage, climax, dildo, erection, kneel, lick, orgasm, penis, punish, slippery, spank, spurt, strict, suck, teacher, thigh, tight, wet, write.

Dani doesn’t need to pretend she can’t remember the spellings, because she genuinely can’t. It’s as difficult for Dani as it would be for Ghislaine, for example, to remember the whole of the Standard Model of particle physics. It takes a while for Dani to pass the test – on the sixth attempt, she achieves fifteen of the twenty. By this time Dani’s ass is striped the same livid red and pretty pink as the sticks of rock they sell in the site’s convenience store.

After that, there’s a dictation test: ‘Dani has to wear the dildo and write down what teacher says. When Dani passes the test she can kneel between the teacher’s open thighs and lick her out.’  Dani wriggles uncomfortably with the dildo in his ass. The wriggling looks oddly girly and cute. But, surprisingly, she remembers the spellings. Ghislaine lets Dani lick until the teacher has an orgasm.

Only then does Ghislaine consent to Dani coming, the disciplinary aspect of this being that Dani has to achieve this by masturbating to a climax in front of her, with occasional encouragement from the cane.

Dani’s kneeling on the floor and she’s behind him, using the cane lightly on the back of his legs. Somehow, though, his spunk still manages to hit her face.

There are some unused words on the list. Bondage being a key one. Ghislaine tells Dani to go and find some rope, and be quick about it. There’s going to be an extra lesson.

 

Interview with billierosie

We recently had the great pleasure of meeting billierosie and spending time talking about writing and erotica. Then we asked her if she’d do a blog interview, and she said yes.

If you don’t yet know her writing, you should. She’s been published by Renaissance Sizzler in their Pirate Booty anthology, and their Sherlock Holmes-themed collection My Love of All That is Bizarre, their latest anthology Hunger and their forthcoming collection of erotic tales of London town. She also has a collection of short, erotic stories, Fetish Worship plus two novellas, Memoirs of a Sex Slave and Enslaving Eli. Her writing sometimes goes to places others fear to venture: fetish is high on on her agenda but alongside fur and feathers, stockings and toes, you’ll find whips, branding and golden showers.

[*** Edited to note that while Sizzler revamps its website from 21 March, with a projected re-opening on 1 April 2013,  links to the Sizzler site shop.renebooks.com won’t work. However most titles are also available from Amazon and other sources.]

What got you into writing erotica? 
I came to erotica via reading Romance novels. Mills and Boon, Silhouette. I
found them very tame; but I soon discovered my favourite authors were
teetering on the edge of something called erotica. Really, I’d never heard
of such a thing! This was in the old dial-up days of computers, so I waited
untill I was next online and Googled ‘sexy stories for women’. I came across
an online lesbian book store and I ordered Caught Looking, an anthology
edited by Rachael Kramer Bussel. Wow! Here were women writing the stories I
had wanted to read for years. And there was I thinking that there was
nothing between Romance and Pornography. So I ordered more books and even 
more. I
started to know what stories turned me on and I thought I would have a go
myself. Write the sort of stories that I like to read. So in a way, all the
reading I’d done was my market research – and I sort of fell into it from
there.

Are there other genres you’d like to write as well? Which ones and why?


Crime fascinates me. I watch tons of it on the Sky channels. I love Ruth 
Rendall (particularly when she writes as Barbara Vine) and Val McDermid – I 
love the TV adaptation of her Wire in the Blood. I understand that Val is 
thrilled with it too. So I would love to write a novel, or even a short 
story in the crime genre. But with so many big, powerful names up there 
already, I feel daunted. I mean can you top Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on 
a Train? But I guess that Lynda La Plante must have felt a bit like that 
too when she started out. I am quite new to writing creatively; so I feel 
that I still have a lot to learn. It’s only been about four years since I 
wrote my short story, ‘La Petite Danseuse’: it’s in my Fetish Worship 
collection. I read it through recently and I am still pleased with it. It’s 
about a woman who has an erotic experience with a reproduction of Degas’ 
little statue. I got a kick out of the shock value in that tale – using a 
work of art as a dildo!

If any one of your stories could be made into a film – which one
would you choose, and why? 
Oh definitely Enslaving Eli! It’s all about a young man, Eli, who falls 
for a woman he’s met at a party. He doesn’t realise that she’s a Dominant 
and when he finds out he’s turned on by the idea. Little does he know what 
being submissive to a woman entails! The locations I used are all place I 
know well; some from my childhood, others are places I’ve visited on 
holiday. The action moves from rural England to a Greek fishing village. 
From London town to a secret hideaway in the countryside. I think the tale 
would work really well in film – oh and there’s lots of sex in it too of 
course!

What are the most difficult aspects of writing for you? 
That first sentence! I like to try and grab the reader’s attention right 
away. Once I get going I’m fine. I think that all writers work differently. 
I tend to get that first sentence and paragraph down; then I’ll go back to 
it later and edit and add to it. So I’m sort of building the story in layers 
as I go. Sometimes I have no idea how a story is going to end and it’s easy 
to lose my way. But mostly I have an ending in mind and I craft the story to 
that point. Having said that I have about five or six stories in my files 
that I’ve started and been unable to finish. But I never erase those 
stories – I can use bits of them maybe in the future or eventually have a 
’eureka’ moment and the ending will just come to me.

Are there any underlying themes that persistently find their way
into your stories?  At the moment I’m writing a lot of FEM/DOM stories — but they are always written from the submissive’s point of view. It seems to me that in a Dominant/submissive relationship, it is the submissive who controls the events. Usually by being deliberately disobedient and having to be punished. Having said that – I am currently working on a Daddy’s Little Girl novella for Diabolic Muse. And here too, it is the ‘Little Girl’, the submissive, who controls the dynamic.

Quite a few of your blog posts refer to the role of women in the
 Bible. Is there any religious motivation for this? I’m not a conventionally religious person although I think that I am quite spiritual. I find a beauty in the natural world that is blows my mind, and it is in the natural world that I seek a faith. I think if there is anything beyond all this, it will be far more exceptional than any religious calling can explain. As for my blog posts about women in the Bible – the Bible stories were alive for me as a child. I had a book with pictures and I can still see the images, even now, when I close my eyes. I remember there was a ‘Daniel in the Lion’s Den’ picture. Daniel taming the lions and the golden hand of the holy spirit writing on the wall God’s message for the king; ‘You have been judged and found wanting.’ It still sends a shiver up my spine!

What would you like to be when you grow up?  Ha! I never, ever knew what I wanted to be when I grew up! But I guess I am doing it now – writing pornography!

Are there any occupational hazards to being a writer?  It has more to do, I think, of being a female writer, writing porn. When we met a few weeks ago, I mentioned about the creepy guy, who sent me an email; ‘I know where you live.’ Since then, I have been circumspect about how much information I give out about myself. It seems weird to me that men, especially, seem to confuse me, the writer, with the protagonist in my FEM/DOM tales! Remember Misery by Stephen King? Creepy Annie, who told the protagonist; ‘I’m your number one fan’ before she mutilated him!

What was the best gift you were ever given? My pony, when I was eleven years old!

***

About billierosie

People fascinate billierosie. What makes them tick; what are their secrets and lies. The effete guy in the bank; the blonde lady shopping in the supermarket, the elderly lady living in a care home. What stories could they tell? Perhaps erotic stories of sex, intrigue and fetish? And fetish is high on billierosie’s agenda. The strange, haunting stuff that informs our darkest desires. It could be fur or feathers. Shoes, silk stockings, or toes. Poop or pee. An amputee’s stump. If we made a list it would go on for ever.

billierosie has been writing erotica for about two years; she has been published by Oysters and Chocolate, ‘The Wedding Dress’ [editor’s note: Oysters and Chocolate, an erotic story blog, closed its doors a couple of months ago]. Her other publications include:

Contributions to Renaissance Sizzler anthologies Pirate Booty, My Love of All That is Bizarre, Hunger and their forthcoming collection of erotic tales of London town.

A short erotic story collection, Fetish Worship.

Two novellas, Memoirs of a Sex Slave and Enslaving Eli.

billierosie lives in a pretty village in England. She doesn’t fit with village life; certainly not the Women’s Institute. billierosie loves the theatre, Art, film, books and all things eccentric. billierosie plans to have fun and stay young, writing pornography. billierosie can be found at her blog; www.billierosie.blogspot.co.uk.

Enslaving Eli, by billierosie - cover imageEnslaving Eli – When Jasmine the beautiful Dominant meets tall, hunky Eli at the dullest party in the world, Eli wants to see her again. He doesn’t understand her reluctance, they’ve had fun together and it isn’t as if he is asking her to marry him, just maybe a cup of coffee. When Jasmine tells Eli of her secret life, Eli is intrigued and gradually he is initiated into a world of BDSM, that as Jasmine’s submissive, is impossible for him to walk away from. Jasmine tells Eli tales of a secret, exclusive organisation, The Coterie. The Coterie is centuries old. Its members are Dominant women; their ethos in life is total submission of the male. Eli endures humiliation, depravity and absolute control, at the hands of Mistress Jasmine. But Eli and Jasmine are more than Mistress and slave, they have fallen in love. When Mistress Jasmine is killed in a road traffic accident, Eli is devastated. Officially, Eli now belongs to The Coterie. He is property. He is told that he is to be sold to another Mistress. Eli has other ideas. Enslaving Eli, is told from Eli’s point of view, in the form of flashbacks, as the Mistresses of the sinister Coterie organisation reach out to regain control of their property. The story explores a much under discussed orientation; that of the male submissive. Relinquishing control, is not seen as a masculine way to go about things. But in relinquishing control, Eli’s life is fulfilled.

Memoirs of a Sex Slave, by billierosie - cover imagePrologue to Memoirs of a Sex Slave: The confessions of a submissive woman. …the feeling of being filled in her rectum thrilled her with its very indecency; she wanted more. As if in a psychic response, the stranger pushed in another finger; she was tight, but his persistence and the lubricant did their work. Then a third finger. She wanted him to rape her anus, defile her, right there in the middle of the club with everyone looking on. Slowly he masturbated her rectum; pushing in, retreating, going further in with each push. Her pelvis pushed back on him. It was her body’s reaction to the strange new sensation. She was helpless, her body’s needs dictated the rules. She felt the flat palm of his hand on her buttocks. He was all the way in. Her rectum muscles gripped him tightly. He moved his fingers in a circular motion, stretching her as if in preparation for a man’s thick cock. Elektra trembled as he finger fucked her dirt hole. When he slowly slid his fingers from her, she felt bereft, empty and tears trickled down her cheeks. He moved around to face her and she watched him examine his fingers. She had emptied her bowels earlier in the day, but still his fingers were streaked with her dark excrement. His hooded eyes watched her face, as he held his fingers to her mouth, a silent order for her to lick them clean. Elektra lapped obediently. She could taste the lube that he’d used and something dark and forbidden. The taste excited her and she slobbered over his fingers. A tremor of shameful disgust shuddered through her body like an electric shock; what was she becoming? Or had this always been her truth, it was just that the doors, until now had been kept closed? Her head reeled with dark, indecent, ancient taboos.

Fetish Worship by billierosie - cover image Extract from ‘Feet’, the first story in Fetish Worship: A collection of short stories. For Adam, it had always been feet, for as long as he could remember. One of his earliest memories was of sitting underneath the big, oak table in his mother’s dining room, surrounded by ladies’ feet.He was just a toddler and his mother had no-one to leave him with at her monthly book club meetings. So he was allowed to crawl around under the table, as long as he didn’t make a noise. Adam never made a noise. He sat and listened to the women’s soft voices and laughter, as he sucked his thumb, lost in his own private heaven, gazing at, and inhaling the smell of women’s feet. Once he’d dared to touch a lady’s foot. He stroked the fine creamy skin curiously, marvelling at the delicate bones beneath. The lady had peeped down at the little boy beneath the table, and smiled.

The Bad Sex Awards

It may have passed you by, but in the UK we recently had the marvellous spectacle of the Bad Sex Awards – an annual award for the worst sex scene in a mainstream novel.

The award was established by literary giant Auberon Waugh and is presented by the Literary Review. Its aim is one of ‘gently dissuading authors and publishers from including unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing or redundant passages of a sexual nature in otherwise sound literary novels’. 

There were eight contenders for the 2012 award, and it was won by Nancy Huston for her novel Infrared. The winning (or offending, depending on your point of view) passage cited at the ceremony included a certain amount of purple prose – over-lengthy similes involving cellos, bows, fishes swimming in water (what else might they swim in?), stars, contellations, milky ways (the stars not the confectionary), a ‘delirium of restrained desire’ and carnal pink palpitations. You can read it for yourself on the Guardian website.

Winners in previous years have included many well-known authors – Melvin Bragg, Sebastian Faulks, AA Gill, John Updike, even Norman Mailer (in 2007, for his The Castle in the Forest).

This leads to some interesting questions.

Firstly, given that a large part of human experience is about sex, it seems reasonable that many literary books will include rather than avoid it. It also seems reasonable that they will be quite explicit about it. And the books that have been nominated are by writers often praised for their literary skills. So what’s up with the bad sex?

The answer offered by a Guardian columnist is this: if a book isn’t primarily about the kind of relationships that involve sex, then the sex scenes tend to stick out like a sore thumb and, if quoted away from the context of the novel as a whole, tend not to read well.  As a previous winner notes, writing in the Independent, when read out at an award ceremony the reading tends to be in the tradition of a pantomime performance, any subtlety in the writing is lost and the audience generally responds with derision – even though in the context of the novel and read privately, the extract may read rather well.

And while there’s bad writing about sex – some of which is in the mainstream and some in specific genres such as erotica – there is course bad writing about everything. Which is part of the point of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which encourages deliberately terrible submissions so we can amuse ourselves reading them.

So then secondly, as the Guardian asks, why aren’t there ‘good sex’ awards?

Well, there are. Many of them, in fact. They’re just not mainstream. They’re awarded specifically to erotica (and no, we haven’t won any – yet). Jade magazine intermittently includes the written word in its awards, and there are special fiction categories in the awards given by the National Leather Association in the US (their website exists but is currently being renovated), and The Bondage Awards website (though the NLA and The Bondage Awards are specifically bdsm-related). And there are plenty of others that readers of erotica will probably be aware of.

There is, actually, great sex in some mainstream literature. You’ll find, for example, highly erotic passages in Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow – some of them based on the premise that one of the protagonists appears to be a human predictor of where the V2 missiles will fall in London (it’s set in the latter stages of World War II) since every spot at which he has an erection later becomes the site of a missile hit.

But maybe the interesting thing here isn’t what the mainstream is doing, it’s the fact that there is, seemingly, a distinct place for erotic literature. Good writing about sex is perhaps most likely to be found in narratives that are, in fact, about sex – and maybe it’s less likely that passages from such works are going to have that ‘stand out like a sore thumb’ quality. That’s not to say all erotica writes brilliantly about sex, because it doesn’t; just that the best and most insightful writing about sex is more likely to be found in the erotica genre.

Fulani’s next big thing

I’m honoured to have been tagged by Vanessa Wu as one of the authors she’s passed the ‘next big thing’ torch to. If you haven’t come across it, it’s a Twitter-based chain on the #WW hashtag (Writer Wednesday, or Worth Watching) that involves answering 10 questions about what you’re writing. The answers are below.

1) What is the working title of your current/next book? Vodou Intent.  It’s the second of a three-part novella series. The first part, Ridden, is already out in Kindle edition with Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

2) Where did you get the idea for that book? Vodou as a religion came onto my radar over a decade ago when I visited New Orleans. I read more about it, on and off, because in other connections I’ve been involved in studying the ‘desecuralisation thesis’, a sociological argument that one aspect of the postmodern world is a return to religion but at the same time a preference for, if I can put it this way, non-traditional religions. And I’ve also become more aware of the vodou diaspora, with at least some followers now in almost every major city in the world.

Vodou is a syncretic religion, created from elements of Catholicism and older, mainly West African, religions. This book, though, has a kind of vodou-meets-paganism theme, and rests on the view of many pagans that ritual is only important insofar as it enacts and amplifies intent. If you want to do something, any ritual is no more than – but also no less than – a way of focusing on that aim.

The book came about because Xcite wanted me to write a trilogy of novellas on a paranormal theme. As I’ve mentioned, the first one, Ridden, is already out. The last one, Vodou Fetish, will be published sometime next year.

3) What’s the genre of the book? Erotica, with a strong BDSM theme and a lot of paranormal. I like it that my key character isn’t wholly comfortable with the idea of the paranormal, though.

4) If you could pick actors to play the lead characters in your story, who would you pick? I’m crap at this, I probably don’t watch enough films. And it would almost certainly be low-budget anyway! I’d recommend giving the opportunity to relative unknowns who could start their career with it…

5) How would you describe your book in one sentence (10 words or less)? Sex and BDSM can make a ritual for higher goals.

6)(a) How will your book be published, submitted through the traditional route to a traditional publisher or will you be handling it yourself through Indie Publishing methods? (b) If you’re an Indie Author, will you be publishing through your own Indie Publishing company or in a collective with other Indie Authors? It will be with Xcite, as an ebook. They’ve already commissioned the cover. I just have to finish writing it…

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of this book? Compared with many writers, I’m slow – probably around 1,000 words a day. And I’ve had a bunch of other stuff to deal with that’s meant time away from it. On the plus side, I usually ignore the advice to get a first draft finished and then go back to revise. I do a lot of editing as I go, so often my writing day starts with rewriting the previous day’s work before writing the 1,000 words I know I’m likely to revise tomorrow. So there’s no distinct ‘first draft’ and by the time I write the last word, all the previous words have usually been edited several times over.

8) What other books within your genre are similar to yours? To be honest, I don’t know. I’ve read a bunch of vodou-inspired fiction but it wasn’t erotic fiction. I’ve read a lot of erotica but nothing quite like this. Probably the nearest in terms of the overall ethos and feel, but with a pagan rather than a vodou element, is by my partner Velvet Tripp. Check out her novella A Woman Possessed.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book? There are so many answers to that. But I liked the idea of exploring how someone who’s an atheist understands and copes with the experience of the paranormal. Because, frankly, I count myself as atheist, but many of my friends are pagan and I’ve seen and experienced some pretty weird and inexplicable stuff over the years. That’s more or less the position my protagonist is in.

10) What about your book will pique the reader’s interest? The scene with the anvwar mo – essentially the vodou version of an exorcism.

There’s a final question:

11) Do you know any other fab authors who might like to tell the world about about their next big thing? A few, all excellent for different reasons:

-F

Fact vs fiction

It’s history – but if you wrote it as fiction, I doubt anyone these days would imagine it had a basis in fact.

I’ve been reading law recently, for a number of reasons some of which are loosely connected with the second of a series of three paranormal novellas (the first one should be out in the next couple of weeks, I’m waiting on a cover image and publication date). But while doing so I came across Argyll v. Argyll, or to give it its full legal reference, Duchess of Argyll v. Duke of Argyll [1967] Ch302.

That case is about a legal injunction, but I’ll try to tell the whole story chronologically.

Ethel Margaret Whigham – known as Margaret – was born in 1912. Daughter of a Scottish millionaire with interests in both the UK and US, she was brought up in New York. She had several youthful romances and in 1930 became a debutante (and noted society beauty) in London. In 1933 she was married to Charles Sweeney, an American golfer, with whom she had three children (one was stillborn, two survived).

In 1943, she was visiting her chiropodist in Bond Street, London, and had a forty-foot fall down an elevator shaft that left her very seriously injured, including a blow to the head. On recovery, her friends reported that she had lost her senses of taste and smell due to nerve damage, but had also become ‘sexually voracious’. How accurate that claim was remains debatable – not so much in terms of her sex drive, but in terms of whether the fall and blow to the head had caused it. There were claims and rumours about various romantic liaisons in her past that suggested (I quote Wikipedia here) that the injury had resulted in a ‘change of degree rather than basic predisposition’.

She and Charles Sweeney divorced in 1947. She had a few affairs, but then in 1951 married Ian Douglas Campbell, 11th Duke of Argyll. She was his third wife. However, while the ancestral home of the Argylls was Inveraray Castle, about 60 miles north-west of Glasgow, she – now the Duchess of Argyll – apparently preferred to live at 48 Upper Grosvenor Street in London, a house that had been in her own family since at least the 1930s. There she conducted a string of affairs with men in the upper echelons of British, and indeed international, society.

In 1959 her husband filed for divorce and the legal hearings ran until 1963. In that year, the Duke raided her house, seizing private diaries and Polaroid photographs which were used as evidence in the proceedings and led to separate hearings for an injunction to restrain him from publicly speaking or writing about these materials and other ‘marital secrets’, or allowing or enabling them to be made public. There was also an interlocutary injunction against the editor and publisher of the People newspaper to restrain them from publishing details, including the allegations made in the petition for divorce.

The key part of this debate concerned what came to be known as the ‘headless man’ photographs. These were a series of Polaroid photographs taken, according to the dates printed on the reverse of the pictures, in 1957. They’d been captioned in handwriting: ‘before’, ‘thinking of you’, ‘during’, ‘oh’, ‘finished’. And they showed a woman, naked apart from a distinctive pearl necklace, performing oral sex on a man whose head was not in shot while another man, whose face was also obscured, apparently masturbated in the background. The fact it was a Polaroid camera, and the handwriting on the pictures, became significant later on.

Diaries and the photographs were both used in evidence in the divorce proceedings. The former enabled the Duke to produce a list of 88 men with whom, he alleged, the Duchess had had sexual relations – the 88 were reputed to have included two government ministers and three royals. The latter rather graphically illustrated these relations and there were issues about, ironically, whether their explicit nature meant they were suitable for production as evidence in open court (they were, eventually).

Matters even reached the point at which Lord Denning, just appointed as Master of the Rolls, was asked to conduct an enquiry to determine the identity of the headless men. (Denning, incidentally, was asked to lead another enquiry into sexual matters in mid-1963: this was into the ‘circumstances leading to the resignation of the former Secretary of State for War, Mr J. D. Profumo’.)

The original list of 88 men was reduced to five headless man ‘suspects’, two of whom were Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Duncan Sandys, in 1957 Minister of Defence and by 1963 the cabinet minister responsible for the Commonwealth Relations Office. Sandys was exonerated by Denning on the basis of a medical examination that compared his pubic hair to that of the masturbating man in the photograph; Fairbanks was believed to be one of the men involved based on a comparison of his handwriting with that on the Polaroids.

As a footnote to that, the divorce court didn’t proceed with the claim that the Duchess has committed adultery with 88 men – that would have been overkill – and took evidence in relation to three, one of whom was Fairbanks. He denied his involvement to the end of his life. Sandys was dropped as a suspect ‘headless man’; but towards the end of her life, the Duchess pointed out something interesting to a friend of hers: ‘Of course, sweetie, the only Polaroid camera in the country at this time had been lent to the Ministry of Defence’. Erm… who had been the Minister of Defence at that time? (There’s more discussion in a Guardian article from August 2000, reporting on a TV documentary about the affair: ‘”Headless men” in sex scandal finally named’).

The end of the story is rather sad. The issue about injunctions and non-publication of ‘marital secrcets’ rolled on for several more years (hence the reference above to the 1967 court hearing). The ex-Duchess, as she became, never remarried, continued to live somewhat beyond her means and became increasingly poor, and died in 1993 in a nursing home in London.

So, on reflection and in conclusion, imagine someone (perhaps me) writing a piece of fiction about a woman in her forties whose sexual appetites had resulted from a serious injury and a blow on the head; that involved 88 lovers with whom she committed adultery, including group sex; that at least one of those lovers would be a government minister; that a scandal would unfold when compromising pictures came to light by an aggrieved husband raiding his wife’s London home; and that those pictures were taken on a camera that the minister’s department was secretly testing. You’d think that was a pretty far-fetched piece of erotic fantasy, wouldn’t you? You’d think it was the product of a sick writer’s imagination and some tired plot turns – please, not that stupid bang-on-the-head idea again.

Enough said.

***

In addition to the sources sited above, you can read more at the Fascinating History Blogspot blog. And probably a bunch of other places as well.

And the other court case that attracted my attention, and that I might actually use in the paranormal novella I’m writing, was a French case from 1858 – the ‘Rachel affaire’ – which concerned the rights to privacy of deceased persons.

Celebrate Difference – Be Yourself!

Differnet people all posing together, one in a wheelchair, one gay, others Goth or transgender

Difference. What does it matter?

I’ve been musing on this subject for a while now. Then Bisexuality Day came along to remind me just what a challenging word this is. We live life as though all is set in stone, and anything ‘outside the norm’ seems to provoke a lot of negative reactions from  people.

That’s always seemed alien to me. I love the different, the strange, the unusual. I think I was born that way, and grew up that way because I had parents who raised me to accept difference. We lived in an area of high immigration in the days when we needed people from other countries to come and work in our mills and factories. I played with Muslims, Sikhs and Caribbean children. They accepted us in their homes and we reciprocated. At school I had a friend who was a thalidomide victim. She had a stump for a hand. I never commented on it, and held ‘hands’ in the playground without acknowledging it. I knew it embarrassed her, and I didn’t see the point of bringing it up. In later life I had a polio victim friend. I’d known her a year when she asked my why I’d never mentioned her limp and clumsy footing on occasion. I replied it didn’t matter to me. What mattered was that we liked each other and were friends. She was thrilled and said she’d never met anyone who had resisted asking before.

I’ve never seen the need to reject, insult or judge anyone on the basis of their looks, health issues, sexual preference, sexual orientation or relationship arrangements. Who am I to tell someone else how to live?  Of course, there are completely unacceptable behaviors such as murder, pedophilia, rape. They are harming others, and no-one can or would want to condone that kind of behaviour.

I live by the credo ‘Do as you will and harm none.’ Harm none includes myself.

All that said, why are human beings so afraid of difference in each other? We divide and subdivide ourselves into little groups that war with other little groups. Why? I suppose it’s buried deep in the lizard brain to suspect anything we don’t understand and see that as a threat to our survival. We have to work at acceptance. Reason with ourselves. Think before making snap judgements. Remember that underneath that hoodie might be a nice young man who is cold and hungry. We spotted one hoodie getting all excited and concentrating hard on what he was doing at the edge of a roundabout. We watched suspiciously. It turned out all he was doing and getting excited about was photographing a rainbow. How cute is that? So what if someone is into kink or is gay or transgender? Or Black or yellow or whatever. What matters is the personality of the human inhabiting that body. What people do with their sex lives, personal taste and dress code is up to them. You might not like what they wear or do, but tolerance is needed. After all, they might not like what you wear or do, and you expect tolerance at the very least, if not acceptance from the world around you.

I thrive on those differences, use them in my work. And I’m here because I want to write and share some of the contents of my mind, which as you can see is pretty open. So I write. I have a fair whack of experience to draw on, and I think the contents of my mind might entertain people who enjoy BDSM, kinky sex, sex with more than one partner and lesbian sex and more. Who knows where my imagination will go next? I’m working on a new novella right now, and enjoying creating characters who are different. Who like to buck society’s constraints and find their own way to enjoy their kinks. Who have the bravery and strength of personality to be themselves.

Difference gives the opportunity to learn from each other. We can broaden our horizons, learn how different difficulties affect other people and learn solutions for problems we might not have understood previously. Speaking for myself and Fulani, our lives are richer for the people we have met and interacted with.

If I was to meet you, I’d accept you until you did something unacceptable, like treating me badly, abusing my trust or behaving badly to someone else. In other words, I’d be nice to you as long as you were nice to me. Celebrate difference, enjoy meeting interesting-because-they-are-different people, and have as much fun as you want in your sex lives.

I hope you come back to us, enjoy our stories, make use of the information we can gather for you here and enjoy being yourself, a unique individual who celebrates being different!

Whatever or whoever you are, you’re welcome here. Just be nice, please!

VelvetTripp xx

If you’re interested in stories that ARE different, that tickle your imagination in the sex arena, you might like the novellas Fulani and I wrote in Naked Delirium, an anthology of five stories out in illustrated paperback or on Kindle now. They’re tales of sex during altered states, all wildly different to each other and all, we hope you think, great reads. All of our other published work can be found here.