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Many erotic collections have been published which might be termed "bisexual erotica," in that they have included stories from a variety of erotic perspectives likely to be of interest to bisexuals (such as lesbian, heterosexual, gay male). The Herotica and Best American Erotica collections come immediately to mind, as do a number of erotic anthologies published in the leather/SM community. This, though, is the first book of its kind that is sourced primarily in the bisexual community. Most of its characters (though not all) are bisexuals, and while the sex they have with their lovers and tricks may be just like the sex gay, lesbian, and straight people have, it doesn't happen in a gay or straight context. We know that bisexual readers have been hungry for this kind of affirmation because we both write and edit our own work from a bisexual perspective and have heard the feedback from readers who are tired of buying three or four books to get the erotic charge we hope they'll find packed into this one; we know bi women find lesbian erotica compelling, but do not necessarily see themselves truly reflected there; we know bi men who enjoy straight or gay male erotic books and magazines but find them limited; and we know bi couples who see their fe/male relationships in very different terms than those portrayed in heterosexual erotica. We're compiling this book for them, but also to showcase, in an erotic context, a bit of who bisexuals are (and who we might be with a little more sexual freedom).
As activists have been telling us for a long time, cultural ideas about bisexuals arefraught with stereotypes, especially as far as our sexual practices are concerned. We'll fuck anything that moves (only one of the stories here, "The Great Blinking MacGuffin" by Charles Anders, actually comes close to embodying this onethough in fact it lampoons it). We're non-monogamous by nature, into threesomes and group sexafter all, if we desire both women and men, we couldn't possibly be satisfied with only one lover. In a way, the qualities that make a piece of erotic writing uniquely bisexual tend to play on these stereotypes: in an exploration of monogamous passion, unless the writer works in some flashbacks, how do we know the story as anything other than straight or gay? So readers who want to see the stereotypes eroded might not exactly get what they want; but they will get plenty of high-octane bi sex, because this is an anthology of explicit erotic fiction. Mostly missing from this book, but with us in other, more theoretical contexts, is discussion of all the bisexual issues that aren't specific to our sexual practices and relationship configurations. In this erotic world (sadly, often unlike the "real" one), sex is simply a given. The authors whose work appears here explore fantasy scenarios, tell you what they like (maybeyou can never reliably judge a book by its cover or an erotic writer's sex life by what they put into print), and together sketch out a bisexual world which is diverse, sometimes unexpected, and unabashedly sexual.
Gender politicsboth kinds!are present here. For those of us who were around in the good old 1970s, gender politics will always reference feminism and the fight against misogyny, and several of our writers take on "the war of the sexes" from an explicitly erotic viewpoint. This isn't surprising. Bisexual female-male relationships, so frequently informed by feminism and queer understandings of sex and relationship, may not offer a clean slate for these gender wars, but they do present an opportunity to inscribe new practices and patterns of relating over old ones. The male-female sex in this book is only "me Tarzan, you Jane" (that is, traditional) when the participants are role-playing, and it's just as often "me Jane, you Tarzan." Sometimes this is in a completely loving context, as in "Sauce for the Gander" by Hanne Blank. Sometimes it's more like another salvo in the war between the sexes ("Boy Bashing" by Raven Gildea). One thing's certain: the women and men in this collection don't take these issues for granted; they play with, flout, and fight traditional sex-role stereotypes.
But that makes it sound as though there are only men and women, and increasingly we realize there are more genders than that: the other gender politics vibrantly present here are those of the trans community. We were thrilled to receive so many engrossing stories with transgendered or transsexual protagonists (as well as by trans authors), and we think it serves to illustrate to what extent the bi community has made space for, and values the contributions and erotic presence of, transsexual and transgendered people. Bisexual folk, after all, are defined (and stigmatized) by our desire for women and men; we really should be open to the eroticism of those who have embodied both ways of walking in the world, as well as those who walk somewhere in the middle, or somewhere else altogether. (If these are new ideas for you, see Kate Bornstein's My Gender Workbook, a must-read primer on new gender paradigms and possibilities.)
A recent article in Black Sheets asks whether bisexuals are kinkier than other people, and if this collection were to be the sole evidence to settle the question, we'd have to say yes. It's not the last word on the matter, of course; it's a smut book, produced by people who love smut and all forms of playful, exploratory eroticism. But readers will notice that many of our authors don't transgress only the boundary labeled "Thou shalt not fuck and desire women and men alike," but also many others. Plenty of these stories feature sweet, old-fashioned, bisexual vanilla sex ("vanilla" is the term many kinky folk, especially in the S/M world, use for non-kinky sex, in order to remind everyone that there are many, many flavors to choose from). Many other stories, though, play with power, dominance, roles, and role-reversal. It's all on the menu.
Interestingly, we noticed in choosing which stories to use in this collection that many of the writers who sent us submissions did not get very explicit when the sex part of the story came along. This was especially true of certain vanilla stories, whose sexual content was often largely implied. That would be fine for a book of bisexual fiction, but not for erotica. And many of the authors who incorporated the explicit most seamlessly are also cheerfully kinkyat least on paper. When we chose stories, we wanted them to work as storieswith characters you'd care about or at least could get to know. But they had to be erotic, at least by someone's lights, and they had to present some recognizably bisexual element: either bi-identified characters or an obviously bisexual situation like a gender-mixed threesome or a first-time (same-sex or other-sex) initiation.
We figured this book would be San Francisco-centric, simply because there are a lot of writers in Northern California who are bisexual, who are writing erotica, and who also happen to be our friends and colleagues. We were gratified to realize that this was not the case. The authors and their characters hail from practically all corners of the United States. We don't just "celebrate diversity," we embody it. There's the trash-talking Texan femme fatale of Linda Eisenstein's "Her Mouth, in Which I Drowned," the smart Manhattan pragmatism of Marilyn Jaye Lewis' "Anal," and the transgressive midwestern high-school reunion fantasy in Lori Selke's "Max." The wily New Orleans-based protagonist of Jamie Joy Gatto's "Pissing in the Men's Room" even gets to live out her fantasy of watching two men make it in the men's room of a local bar during Mardi Gras. Like an increasingly visible number of not-so-straight women, she prefers her sex with queer men. (To realize that there isn't really a term for this phenomenon, other than the derogatory and inaccurate "fag hag," is telling in itself.) Other authors in this book hail from San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Cleveland, Los Angeles, rural Massachusetts, Oregon, Wisconsin, and elsewhere. And, while these stories are by no means inclusive of the amazing breadth of polymorphous perversity (31 flavors just couldn't be enough), they are a collection of enticing snapshots that point toward our erotic potential, that open us up to where our possibilities extend.
So unfasten that seat belt, and any other belts, while you're at it. Then we invite you to make yourself real comfy, and take a wild ride with us down the wide and winding backroad of polymorphous perversity.
Bill Brent and Carol Queen
San Francisco, CA