Too Beautiful
by Mark Pritchard

Paperback (June 1999)
New York: Masquerade Books
ISBN: 158419006X
List price $14.95Dimensions (in inches): 0.67 x 6.90 x 4.19About the book

“Too Beautiful” is a collection of some of my best sex writing over the last several years. A few of these stories appeared in Frighten the Horses,
and one appeared in an anthology called “Good To Go.” But most were unpublished.

The first edition of “Too Beautiful” was published in 1999 by Masquerade Press.

The stories span the gamut of heterosexual and homosexual porn, but if you really want to put a label on it, call it “bisexual erotica.”

For more on the book, see the interview below.

of the 1999 Masquerade edition

Too Beautiful
Daddy’s Play Party
Kill Me with Your Kiss

–> Click here for other books

toobeautiful_old_largeLooking for the new edition from Cleis Press? Click here.

New edition out!

Cleis Press of San Francisco reissued this book in a new edition with three additional stories in late
2001. Buy it now!

Reviews of the first edition of “Too Beautiful”

You may have to search within the article for “Too Beautiful”
if the article deals with more than one book.

PlanetOut (original link, or permalink)

Spectator (original link, or permalink)

New Haven Advocate

A Different Light

(original link, or permalink)


with the author
“Too Beautiful” is a collection of short stories. Do you refer
to these as erotica, or do you use another term?
A. “Erotica” is the most commonly-used term, but I don’t
really mind if people call it porn either. The distinction between erotica
and pornography is just a matter of semantics — sometimes I think it boils
down to “What I like is called erotica; what you like is pornography.”Q. I always felt that “erotica” was more characterized
by emotions, real characters and a somewhat softer feel, while “pornography”
is more exploitative and just raunchier.A. Okay, but then when I’m writing, I don’t want to worry about
distinctions like that. I don’t want to be in the middle of a scene and
wonder whether I should use “her secret place” instead of “her
cunt.” I want to use the language that seems appropriate.Q. So it’s partly a matter of not restricting yourself to what
others might find acceptable.A. Yes, it’s really whether I’m going to censor myself during
the creative process. During the editing process you can address whether
the language in each case is appropriate, or whether they really should
have killed the dog in that scene.Q. Killed the dog?A. Yes, in one of the stories in my book, there was a short bestiality
scene, and everyone who read it said, Take it out, this is too much, it
derails the story. So I finally did.

Q. What other scenes in your book caused disputes?

A. There weren’t any other real sticking points. There’s one story
about a brother and sister who get it on, and for a while the publisher
was wondering if that was going to fly. But they finally decided the literary
value of the story was so good that it had to stay in. And I was really
relieved at that, because it’s a very powerful story.

Q. You’re speaking of the story “Lizza.” It’s the longest
one in the book.

A. Yes, and one that I wrote mostly all in one sitting. I was
sitting on the floor of my apartment in Japan in the morning, thinking of
the friends and lovers I’d left behind in San Francisco, and out of a combination
of loneliness and nostalgia, it just came out.

Q. But unlike others in the book, the story doesn’t seem to have
anything to do with San Francisco.

A. No, it’s set in some unnamed suburb. There are three settings
in the book — San Francisco, Japan, and the unnamed suburb.

Q. What is it about the suburban environment that you find compelling?

A. It’s the teenage environment — a mixture of repression and
boundless hormones. You’re just finding out about sex, but you’re supposedly
not allowed to do anything about it. And the anonymity and blandness of
the suburban environment provide a sort of blank stage on which it seems
anything can happen.

Q. You mentioned Japan, and I read in your author bio that it
was there you began writing these stories.

A. Yes, I spent nearly two years teaching English in Japan in
the late 80s. Getting away from the supercharged environment of the San
Francisco performance scene, and all the people I was seeing and the things
I was doing, gave me the mental space I needed to start turning ideas into
actual stories.

Q. Hadn’t you written any stories before then?

A. Yes, but entirely unsuccessful ones. All the erotica I had
written up to that point was very soft Anais Nin-type stuff. For a long
time I didn’t dare to write down what was really going through my mind.

Q. You didn’t dare? What do you mean?

A. I grew up firmly believing in a feminist vision of society,
and during the 1970s the scope of any feminist writer’s erotic imagination
was severely restricted by what was acceptable and what wasn’t. Anais Nin
was a best seller during this time because her stories are so poetic and

Q. So you really felt you had to curb yourself?

A. Yes, because I wanted women to accept me. It was only in the
1980s, as writers like Pat Califia and others started publishing, that people
started expanding the boundaries of what was acceptable.

Q. So Pat Califia was an influence. Any others?

A. Henry Miller was very inspiring. It was he who wrote, in “Sexus,”
about how writers squash their “finest impulses” in order to conform
with society’s expectations. But I was also influenced by the porn novels
of the 70s and early 80s. You can’t find them anymore, except in used bookstores
that carry such things, but there used to be these really raunchy porn novels
that were extremely unfettered. The writing was mostly terrible, but they
had a certain irrepressible joy that I try to capture. I know it sounds
strange to use a word like “joy” to describe raunchy pornography,
but I really see that in porn.

Q. How?

A. You can’t have good sex without freeing your feelings and impulses
to do what you really desire. Similarly, you can’t write good porn (or erotica,
if you prefer) unless you free up the stuff that’s inside you — all the
dirty little impulses you squash in real life.

Q. So there are real elements of your own sexuality in “Too

A. Of course — not that my own sex life is really quite that

Q. You mean you’ve never been bent over the back of a couch by
a six-foot drag queen while on acid?

A. No — unfortunately!

Q. In the introduction to the book, you talk about how you wanted
to document a certain time and place by writing about San Francisco in the
late 90s.

A. Yes, I wanted to capture the kinds of things that really go
on here — sex parties, fluid self-definitions of sexuality, the balance
between safe sex and desire.

Q. There’s not a lot of safe sex in your book.

A. No, but there’s some. Sometimes I feel that talking it really
interrupts the flow of things. Other times, like the scene with the drag
queen, a condom gets put on — and in that case, makes the scene more realistic.

Q. Do authors of erotica have a responsibility to feature safe

A. No, because erotica is about desire and fantasy, not about
education. I depict people using safe sex practices when it seems like they
really would in real life, when it helps establish reality in the scene
I’m writing. On the other hand, writers do have a responsibility to know
about such practices so they can depict them — as well as all the other
practices people indulge in.

Q. What advice would you give someone who wants to write erotica?

A. Don’t hold back. When you’re writing a first draft, write whatever
comes into your head. Don’t worry about whether it’s good writing or whether
your mother will read it some day. Cancel all the other voices and just
listen to the voice of your desire. Then when you’re done you can go back
and make the writing better.

Q. What if someone feels that they’re not weird enough or “perverse”
enough, that their erotic stories are too vanilla to be interesting to anyone

A. Erotica doesn’t have to feature erotic gymnastics. The interest
is in what the characters feel about what they’re doing — not just in the

email Mark Pritchard Last updated 24 Dec 07. Copyright 2001 Mark Pritchard,
Bernal Heights, San Francisco
Copyright 2013-5 Mark Pritchard, Bernal Heights, San Francisco