Weekly Wire
NewCityNet Sexy Remarks

By Margaret Wappler

MARCH 15, 1999: 

"The Best American Erotica 1999" Edited by Susie Bright, Touchstone Books, $13, 256 pages

We perused the racks of scanty underwear, some of which barely qualified as such - thongy straps, missing crotches, panties adorned with so many sequins and rhinestones that they more resembled a sexual championship belt. We got out of there pretty quick, but the education was long-lasting: a lotta people like their sex different from how we figured.

The best part of Susie Bright's latest anthology, "The Best American Erotica 1999," is the chance to peek into other people's idea of sex, and what turns them on. In her intro, Bright states "We may have plastic surgery to make everyone's noses and tits look the same, but psychologically our erotic profile is unique and there's no messing with it." Bright, a sexpert and columnist for the on-line magazine Salon, has drummed up quite a collection to support her claim.

The anthology boasts a fair mix of lesbian, gay and hetero tales, plus some that fall within the gray area, as any self-respecting erotica collection should. Among the fetishes, quirks and appetites profiled are role-playing lesbians ("Daddy" and "boy"), gay blood-sports, ghost lovers (including one that reveals himself to resemble Jason Alexander, much to the surprise of a porn star who had blindly called him the best fuck of her career) and a vagina that swallows up everything from an Idaho potato (don't worry, it was wearing a condom) to a bottle of shampoo.

Considering the panoramic view of American sex portrayed here (much of it penned by Bay Area residents), it should come as no surprise that no two ways of doing the deed are the same, and that the deed itself is not defined by the mere technicality of penetration. The best stories in the book smartly dance between the definition of sex to the body and the much looser definition of sex to the mind. A particular stand-out is Elise D'Haene's opening story "Licking Our Wounds," which hits the ground running. Others include A.M. Homes disturbing flash fiction piece, which captures the confused dominating violence a young girl subjects on her first boyfriend; Michael Bronski's "Doctor Fell" explores the harrowing borders of sex, death, loyalty and pain - and writing about it all.

However, if you're looking to skip the mental foreplay and dive straight into the twisted-sheets, thrashing and moaning world of erotica, you'll find many a horny yarn. (Check out Anne Tourney's "How to Come on a Bus," or Michael Thomas Ford's "Jack.") Just remember: don't become so engrossed reading about it that you forget about the pleasures of actual sex.

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