The problem of writing erotica from the perspective of straight men
When I was asked to write a book of sex stories in which the narrators were all straight men, I faced a challenge: What was interesting about straight men?
For years I’d written erotica in which the whole point was to blur the boundaries of traditional sexual identities, to take people who thought they were all one way and show how they could, given the right situation, go the other way and enjoy it. I showed straight men blowing other men, gay men getting off on women watching them masturbate, and tops opening up to being topped by somebody else for the first time. In other words, people losing their inhibitions and having new fun — the basic currency of erotica.
But what could I do with a group of straight men sitting around talking with each other about sex? (Every time I write that sentence, I start out by saying “talking about sex with each other,” then have to reorder the clauses.) Men who really are straight, who won’t get all hot and bothered by the storytelling and get it on with each other. Getting it on with each other was not what the book was supposed to be about. It was supposed to be about these men getting it on with hot women.
I also faced the challenge of developing several straight male characters who could be distinct from one another for the length of a novel. Shit, I don’t even know that many straight people, outside my job. Most of my friends are gay; I’m bi. I dealt with this challenge by going to one of the original source tales showing a bunch of straight men sitting around with each other. No, not the Gospels. Not the Knights of the Round Table. The Seven Dwarves.
The Seven Dwarves (I’ll let you name them for yourself, ready? go!) provide the key to the book’s characters. Happy is Hap, the main character. Dopey is Denny, a drug addict. Sneezy is Seth, who has allergies and works in biotech. Get it?
Once that was taken care of, I still had to make it hot at book length without, again, having the Seven Dwarves get it on with each other. Of course I could have done that, but that wasn’t what my publisher asked for. I found myself dredging up details of practically every opposite-sex relationship I’d had over the years, and made up several I didn’t have. I reused a story I told in nonfiction form in Best Sex Writing 2006. I turned people I knew, and some I’d barely run into — such as the annoying salesman type who sat next to me at a sushi bar in Las Vegas in 2004 — into characters. And I did it all in six months.
So to return to the original question: What was interesting about straight men? The way they shove themselves cheerfully into situations without much thought. The way they think everything revolves around them. The fact they’ll do anything to get laid.