Read an Excerpt
Sweet, juicy mangos. The soft sound of Spanish drifting from glossed lips...congas pulsing on a crowded beach...women drinking passion-fruit margaritas as they shake their generous curves in time...exposed backsides of wet, tanned flesh. The word Latina seems almost synonymous with erótica, as naturally connected as bodies that stick together on a dance floor.
When Johanna Castillo, an editor at Atria Books, called to ask me to coordinate the first-ever English-language Latina erotic fiction anthology, I responded as any self-respecting Latina would: I pumped up my sex appeal even though I consider myself a major nerd. "Erótica? Claro que sí," I whispered into the phone in Spanish, my hand tucked seductively around my mouth, so my co-workers wouldn't hear. "I could definitely do that. I love erótica." I made sure to use the Spanish pronunciation of the word, exaggerating the r in erotica so that my sexy Ecuadorian editor would know I was the real thing. Then I hung up the phone, went to the ladies room, and broke into a cold sweat. "Erotica, what was I thinking?" My head was spinning. "All I know about erotica can be summed up in the three dusty books I store behind the Harry Potter series on my bookshelves. How am I going to be able to attach my name to a cover that could possibly feature a naked body? What if my abuelita finds out?" When I went to bed that night, an even more serious concern dawned on me. "What the hell am I supposed to write about?"
I resolved that night to call the editor first thing in the morning and tell her, sheepishly, that I wasn't the right one for the job.
The next morning I woke up ashamed. How could I doubt a great opportunity like this? Wasn't it passé for the post Sex and the City generation to even blink an eye over erotica? But I knew I wasn't worried about the response from my trendy, cynical Anglo friends, who joke easily over the right brand of vibrator and wild nights at strip clubs. This book would be for Latinas, the women who are capable of shaking their asses to the latest merengue one night and casually considering re-virgination surgery another.
No matter how deep our cleavages or short our skirts, Latinas don't like talking about sex. Years of Catholic and other strict upbringings have taught us that being labeled a sucia, despite what bestselling novels will tell you, is definitely a bad thing. And yet our images everywhere smack of sex: Even the latest cover of Maxim looks like it's for a children's book compared to the front pages of our racy Spanish-language magazines (not to mention the amped-up swimsuit segments of our mega beauty contests the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar's got nothin' on Cosmo en Español). A lot of my feminista sisters have criticized our obsession with beauty and seeming sexual objectification, and I've enthusiastically agreed with them in the past. But as I see a tide of fundamentalism take over the headlines around the world, I can't help but feel that our bold, clothes-shedding ways are a good thing an in-your-face reminder of our strength.
But the world of our own Latina desires and fantasies has lived in a shroud of silence for too long. It's as if, when the men who shoot the photos and the women who judge the contests look away, our sexuality evaporates, leaving innocent, stuttering schoolgirls in their wake. It's high time we shattered our silence and talked about what sex is like from our own perspectivas. What is the temptress on the cover of TV y Novelas magazine fantasizing about as she pouts for the camera? What's it like for us when we leave the lights on?
In Juicy Mangos, seven award-winning Latina writers tell hot erotic stories featuring strong Hispanic women and delve deeply into the inner worlds of their characters.
Each story revolves around a holiday theme from Valentine's Day to Christmas honing in on the charged emotions and new and daring personas the characters take on during these special times of year. As the writers explore the mysterious moments in life when we are not our ordinary selves, their characters discover secret places where they can explore their darkest impulses.
Let's make one thing clear right from the start: these stories are explicit, and not just sexually. In "The Lunalía," by acclaimed author Yxta Maya Murray, a married Chicana librarian struggles with her mortality and her frightening desires until her sexual experimentation leads her to a dark supernatural realm. Murray creates an enticing fantastical world that stretches her readers' imaginations yet never loses sight of her character's emotional center. Her epic story proves that erotic writing can be as raw psychologically as it is physically, taking its reader on an intimate tour of one fictional Latina's soul.
As does good sex, each writers' prose wholly captures every moment emotionally, spiritually, and physically injecting depth and range into their stories, often describing how a characters' sexuality reveals a painful truth about herself. Author Elisha Miranda, who recently published her debut novel, The Sista Hood: On the Mic (as E-Fierce), explores a young Nuyorican film director's discovery of her unhealthy addiction to sexy Latina women and her longing for family acceptance in "A Kiss from Lares."
In these erotic stories, the writers challenge the way we think about sex, making it not just an element but a character itself, infusing each action in the story with its own intoxicating spell. In one, journalist Adriana López puts at stake the very sanity of her character, Anna, a sophisticated Colombian-American editor at a literary magazine who succumbs to the force of her insatiable and jealous love for a young Spanish author with a troubling past.
The writers also reveal the playful side of sex, taking their characters to exotic locales, ranging from the hot springs of southern Puerto Rico to the streets of Barcelona during the sexually charged Diada de Sant Jordi. Their travels are reflected in experiments with the language itself, playing with Spanish, English, and the controversial Spanglish and the mixed cultural idioms of their characters' backgrounds. Two stories were originally written in Spanish and translated, giving us a glimpse into the exciting realm of contemporary Latin America. The esteemed poet Mayra Santos-Febres, who translated her own story from Spanish, takes her readers from colonial Brazil to modern-day Chicago in a startling tale about a sexy historian possessed by the powers of an antique dress. Award-winning author Mayra Montero, translated by the legendary Edith Grossman, opens our collection with a poignant story of an aging Puertoriqueña's dangerous dalliance with her sister-in-law over a Christmas visit. Transformational moments like these make all the stories memorable on many levels.
The characters regularly and unabashedly take the reins in their sex lives, daring to make the first move to satisfy the deseo that burns within them. In "Juan and Adela," a middle-aged Mexican maid acts on her attraction for her thirty-two-year-old son's Dominican stockbroker friend, even though he's more than twenty years younger. Inspired by my own mother's scandalous marriage to a much-younger man, I focus on how Adela's leap of faith into an unlikely love affair inspires her to take risks in other aspects of her life.
All the writers share an important quality: the ability to have loads of fun telling their stories. Sofía Quintero, who wrote chica-lit favorite Divas Don't Yield, offers us "Sensually Yours," the story of a sex-toy saleswoman who takes on a business partner with benefits to boost her dipping sales. The story offers an exciting and sexy glimpse of the world of Latina passion parties and sex toys, introducing us to wonders such as "four-ounce bottles of Chipper Dipper Erection Crème, an array of edible panties, little paddles in black and red leather, and assorted palm-sized vibrators that the company has discontinued for those ladies who can't wait two weeks for their goodies and want something to take home tonight."
With love interests such as a horny entomologist, a Dominican who is a former gang-banger, a full-time male stripper, a luscious and curvy Puerto Rican television producer, and an insubordinate male intern placed in love scenes involving the beach, music, and lots of fruit this book is definitely one you'll want to read at home, with the shutters closed.
As the first Latinas to tread these erotic waters, we've made sure to be as tantalizing, titillating, and sexually outrageous as we've ever been, only this time we'll be the ones getting off on it. Que lo disfruten!
Michelle Herrera Mulligan, September 2006