Review of Carol Queen's Switch Hitters


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Reprinted With Permission from Cuir Underground

Copyright (c) 1996 Cuir Underground

From Issue 3.1 - September 1996/October 1996

Boyz on Girls, Girls on Boyz

BOOK: Switch Hitters: Lesbians Write Gay Male Erotica and Gay men Write Lesbian Erotica
EDITED BY: Carol Queen and Lawrence Schimel FROM: Cleis Press, 1996

Review by Anna Bergman

"I am now getting queasy. If I run, I will look a fool. If I stay, I may be in for more than I've bargained for. Can I really kiss a woman? Touch her breasts? Can I put my tongue in a woman? These questions have me enflamed, superhot. I feel like I'm wearing a raincoat in a room where spaghetti is being boiled, a sensation I've actually experienced.

"Look," I say, showing my hands, no-tricks-up-my-sleeve, "I came here with you because I find you very attractive, and I've always wondered..."

Her brows only flicker, but their cosmetic arch makes it look like she's shocked. "Oh my God!" she exclaims softly. "A virgin?" She sucks in her cheeks and comes over to me, hands on hips. "No, it's okay," she whispers, "I'm wondering about you, too."

And then I am kissing her, and it's not like kissing myself, it is like kissing another woman, and I'm tasting her lipstick and feeling her soft tongue tickling my lower lip, and then I am holding her narrow waist to get better leverage so I can fill her mouth with my tongue. It feels similar to kissing Tony, except I am the one doing the kissing, and her lips are soft and plaint, like my sister's when we kiss hello. We are, in a way, kissing hello.

I feel like I'm holding a firecracker inside me, like it's slowly burning itself up and that I will explode within seconds. But I don't want to stop feeling that so I push the envelope. I raise my palm to cup her small breast and she sighs through my lips as I find her hard nipple. I roll her nipples through my fingers, just her nipples, not her breasts. I tug them lightly as I kiss her more deeply than I ever knew I could kiss."

From "I Fucked a Girl" by Matthew Rettenmund

I have my doubts about anthologies based on the authors' identity rather than on substance or style. Such anthologies assume a sociological interest the reader may not possess. Content can be, and often is, lost when it is seen purely as the reflection of an individual. Conversely, individual voices may have nothing in common with those of their anthology bedmates. Certain tasks of the Muse necessitate the surrender of individuality. With this bias in mind, I was happy to find an anthology organized by who the writers are not: lesbians writing gay male erotica and gay men writing dyke erotica.

Stories that pass the Wet Test include "Posing," by Blake C. Aarens: "Before Azizi went any deeper into his fantasy, the artist lifted his head to look directly at him. Their eyes met for a moment; the artist was the first to look away. But the look in his eyes gave Azizi a strong dose of reality. That benign scrutiny told Azizi that the brother viewed his body as little more than a still life." The story continues with a shower scene and the consummation of a semester's worth of lust.

Situational erotics is also co-editor Lawrence Schimel's territory in "Dry Run": "Babies themselves had little to do with the fantasies, they were just background. The acts of motherhood and the idea of being a mother were what turned her on. She had fantasies of having sex with Sui in the kitchen, where she'd been washing diapers, while an infant was bawling in the other room. Or fantasies of decorating a nursery, and then climbing into the crib with her vibrator, gently rocking herself off to orgasm and, eventually, sleep as she stared up at a mobile of Beatrix Potter characters. And one fantasy about being pregnant, of Sui gently fisting her, reaching up to hold the baby while it was still inside her." Sui's surprise for her girlfriend is both tender and very sexy -- I couldn't help but marvel at a man's depiction of the physical nature of the biological clock.

The anthology also covers social erotica, including coming out stories, a closeted writer's affair with the maid (thank you, Kevin Killian, for incorporating Japanese verse and dyke angst), and a horny counter chick with attitude: "If one more granola dyke asks me if we have chai, I'm going to shove fresh pork sausage down her throat" (from "100% Natural," by D. Travers Scott). Simon Shepard's time travel story is hot, twisted, and incredibly visual, while Wickie Stamps stakes out personalities for her characters which makes their stories even more compelling. Finally, Robin Sweeney's leatherman"s mixed encounter with dead friends and his living boy is moving, going inside a scene as deeply as I've ever seen on paper.

Co-editors Carol Queen and Lawrence Schimel point out in their introduction that there is nothing new in queers writing as another gender, and question whether this leads to an exploration of different facets of erotica. If the variety found in this book is any indication, they must be on to something.

"I prefer the feel of a single sheet sling to the inferior webbed version, since I'm allergic to the rivets and the webs make unsightly bulges. I make my way early so I can hold court in my favorite spot. This sling has been my post for nearly fourteen years, every fist (oh, excuse me) first Saturday night. I've been done by practically every man who has ever walked through the doors of this fine establishment. I'm in for my monthly fix, then I'm out of here. (Tomorrow is a Bette marathon on AMC.)

The concrete wall is cold as I lean against it, cruising. I have scanned the room and the few scattered players are an eclectic group, to be sure, tonight. Nonetheless, the musky smell of man flesh is beginning to permeate this converted warehouse. Then he walks in.

I have that nervous emptiness in my bowels. My balls, sweating at the first sight of this god/man, are itching to be released. He is at least six foot seven -- and look at that basket, he must be hung. I inspect the tip of his nose. My theory is that the tip of any guy's nose always looks like the glorious head of his dick. His chiseled face is dark, with deep set eyes. His hair is cropped close to his head. As he walks past me, I can see a roll of skin at the back of his head that I want to spend days worshipping. His ass is round, high-mounted (and how I want to mount it) and firm."

From "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in a Sling" by Jenne Blade


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