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When She Was Good: Best Lesbian Erotica

When She Was Good: Best Lesbian Erotica

by Tristan Taormino (Editor), Ali Liebegott (Foreword by)

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When She Was Good journeys into the world of lesbian sex with uncommon, edgy stories that push lesbian lust and desire to new heights. Edited by best-selling author Tristan Taormino and selected and introduced by the dynamic Sister Spit performer Ali Liebegott, this latest edition of the best-selling lesbian erotica series in America is sensual, inventive,


When She Was Good journeys into the world of lesbian sex with uncommon, edgy stories that push lesbian lust and desire to new heights. Edited by best-selling author Tristan Taormino and selected and introduced by the dynamic Sister Spit performer Ali Liebegott, this latest edition of the best-selling lesbian erotica series in America is sensual, inventive, and breathtaking.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 08/04/2014
Liebegott guest-edits a superb installment of Taormino's renowened lesbian erotica series. Some tremendous writing is represented here, from Taormino's brilliant foreword to Peggy Munson's exquisite final story, "The Storm Chasers." Liebegott's autobiographical introduction, "Dumpster Diving," is as arousing as any of the fiction, and Tamai Kobayashi's "Different Girls" is an excellent opening to the anthology proper. There are a few missteps, such as Chandra S. Clark's "The Waiting Is the Hardest Part," an uncomfortably nonconsensual revenge fantasy, but they are more than balanced out by the high-quality works. This is a standout anthology that showcases queer female sexuality at its best. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"This fantastic collection of distinct voices and a beautifully wide array of identities, pairings, and fetishes will appeal to many who find diverse representation in mainstream erotica woefully lacking."
Library Journal

"Startlingly fresh and relevant. You’ll find real writing here, writing that makes you feel, laugh, sigh, and gasp." — Lambda Book Report

Library Journal
★ 07/01/2014
A domme brings her work home with her, much to her date's delight, in Rachel Kramer Bussel's "Domme's Games," while Tamai Kobayashi's "Different Girls" speaks to the fumbling awkwardness of blossoming young relationships with equal power and arresting language. Though vastly different in content, these stories share the same thread of powerful, vivid attraction between women. There's sweet, pretty love (two women from different lands speak with their bodies instead of words in Shanna Germain's sensuous "Native Tongue"), frantic, desperate sex, as well as everything in between. It comes as no surprise that this bold, unapologetically hot collection is edited by Taormino (Down and Dirty Sex Secrets), a well-known talent among the queer erotica circuit. She has compiled a group of fantastic, fearless writers whose stories depict "the real lesbians I'd been looking for my whole life," as Ali Liebegott declares in her introduction, which is just as stunning as the anthology's contributions. VERDICT This fantastic collection of distinct voices and a beautifully wide array of identities, pairings, and fetishes will appeal to many who find diverse representation in mainstream erotica woefully lacking.

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Cleis Press
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5.70(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.80(d)

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When She Was Good

Best Lesbian Erotica

By Tristan Taormino

Cleis Press

Copyright © 2014 Tristan Taormino
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62778-069-8



Tamai Kobayashi

It is on the third day at Japanese language summer camp that Susie meets Yoshi, one of the tough girls who smoke behind the equipment shack by the lakeside. They are counselors from the city school but from different sides. Sues is Westside cardigans and saddle shoes, Yoshi railway denim and sneakers. Sues has always fancied the tough girls, feared them, their careless mockeries; uncertain of their loyalty, as if in a high stakes game of angel/devil. Yoshi has muscles, and a scar on her shoulder, like a gladiator or some kind of ancient warrior. She's not like the girls who squeal at tadpoles, who shriek and shrivel at cobwebs floating on the ceiling of the dorms. Yosh plays chicken with her jackknife by the canoe shed. Yosh plays chicken but Sues is afraid.

Sues is not a tough girl. She steels herself against the lake scum that squishes between her toes and tries not to flinch at the spiders floating down from the rafters. Her skirts are pleated and her pencils are always sharp. Sues knows all of the rules but watches with envy the tough girls' swagger, their fearlessness and pride. Sues is afraid. Sues is afraid of Yosh. She tries not to notice as Yoshi swings the canoe easily onto her solid tanned shoulders. She glances away as the soap suds bubble down the groove in Yoshi's back. Yoshi is two months older, her breasts blossoming out; the hairs dark between her legs, under her armpits. Sues at seventeen feels the shifting time. The Beatles sing Yeah yeah yeah on the flickering television and She's got a ticket to ride. At seventeen, Sues is lost and far from home.

The fourth day at camp, Sues asks Yosh for a cigarette behind the equipment shack. The other tough girls laugh but Yosh holds out the cigarette, lights it with a wooden match struck from the tread of her shoe. Sues sputters with her first puff, the girls scoffing, but Yosh just smiles.

Yosh has the most beautiful smile.

After that day Sues follows Yoshi everywhere. Shadow, the other girls snicker but Sues pays it no mind. Yosh teaches her about the curl of the canoe paddle, pull of water and motion, the art of steering and the nature of currents. Sues is lost in the ripple of muscle, the curve of Yoshi's shoulders, the quirk in Yoshi's eyes.

Yosh carries Sues's lunch tray, holds her a place in line. The other girls growl and mutter; one of them has left the fold.

That night the storm blows in, midsummer heavy, the air humid and burdened with the strain. Thunderclouds towering but Sues can only see the darkness; the sky cracks open in a blinding, slashing wrench. The lake is dark and the lights in the cabins wink off, on, then off. Black night. Even the sky has fallen.

Sues shivers. She can't see the palm of her hand and the air quakes and rumbles. Too dark, then flashing, too bright, ghost sheet white, her eyes cannot leap between the extremes. Sues has never liked the thunderstorms, fears nature out of control, she feels like crying and she wants to go home.

An arm slips over her shoulders, Yoshi's arm. Warm and strong and muscled. The scent of cedar and cigarettes. Sues's heart is pounding, over the clouds that clash above, her nerves jump and scatter as Yoshi stands and holds and leans. Sues can feel the swell of Yoshi's left breast pressing along her arm, the cup of her hand against her shoulder. She is touching me, she is touching me, Sues repeats, her mind flooded with the miracle, and she wonders at such fearlessness.

Yoshi is tough, Sues thinks, and needs nobody.

At least not until the day they set the snare traps.

Tough girls need each other. To be tough against each other, to be tough against the world. Tough girls are their own measure, bitter enemies, bosom friends. Tough girls know their weaknesses and their strengths are never enough.

They set snare traps in the meadow and the next day they catch a baby raccoon. The snare twists around the hind leg, breaks it, and the tough girls gather around. Sues, no tough girl, starts crying, and the girls jeer, Baby, going soft. Yosh takes in Sues, the girls, the cry of the small, furry animal and sees no way out of it. She takes a rock and smashes in the raccoon's head. Yosh feels her stomach pitch into her mouth but she masks it with a snarl.

Sues runs.

The tough girls sneer after her but Yosh only stares at the creature she has killed. Blood speckles the rock and she throws it into the river. Later Yosh tracks down every snare trap, smashes it in two. She gets a welt from the guide wire, her fist bloody from the bark.

That night, Yosh sits in the canoe shed, playing with her knife. Sues comes in.


Its leg was broke—

Can't do anything without your gang—

It was gonna die—


But Sues begins to cry and hates herself for it. Tough girls never cry. But Yosh's arm is around her shoulder, her hands wipe away tears, Yosh's lips brush lightly against Sues's cheeks, her closed eyelids, her mouth, and deeper, kisses deeper, a tongue shivering ache into belly, their clothes are off, an awkward shedding, off and on the floor, their bodies slide, playing chicken without knives, this game all broken rules and Yosh's mouth kisses Sues's breasts, kisses nipples standing out, afraid but sucking harder. Sues's whimper is caged in her ribs, watching Yoshi come up for air, Sues still afraid but chicken chicken, smoke in Yosh's hair. Yosh's eyes, asking as her fingers trace down to those fine forbidden hairs, circling, afraid but it feels so good, dampness faster, fingers deeper, wetter inside the cleft, circling the hard little bud round and round and round, Sues's hot, she's burning, her shivers not from tears, a sudden shudder, rising, rising, that ripple-shock from there—

Sues, Sues—are you all right?

Sues holds her, clinging, braces her coming in Yoshi's clasp. She's still fearful of this newness, this game she does not understand but she trusts so completely that Yoshi is undone. Sues doesn't know that tough girls bruise easily but hide under a thin-skinned bravado, under tough girl bluster and pride. But Yoshi still holds her, rocking comfort, soothing caress, a silent appeal for forgiveness, for tough girls, who blunder, even as they win.

Shy girls excel as they try not to be noticed. They know the square root of three thousand and three. Sometimes they know Latin or French and their good shoes have buckles, or eyelets or some kind of fancy strap. They blossom in shadow, waiting for the world to come to them. They try and they try, however awkward and painful it is, but when they come forward, they seem to retreat. Shy girls are forever hopeful, skirting anger and a vague sense of dread. They seethe and they smolder, on the cusp of forever, unaware of the heat they give off.

Sues lies in the canoe shed, her head on Yoshi's shoulder. Her thoughts spin in darkness, her stomach in a knot. "It" has happened. "It" has occurred. Sues has no words for the lightness in her chest. But her body still hums from that burst between her legs, the tingles in her breasts. Sues is all open and she wants to know how.

Yosh, on her elbow, whispers, Are you cold Sues? Are you okay?

But Sues's heart is exploding and she kisses Yoshi, pushes her back, her mouth, taking her own time now, traveling over lips, tongue, teeth and Yosh cannot say a thing. Sues slips lower, feels Yosh tremble beneath her. Sues presses hard but can't keep herself still. Yoshi's breasts, Yoshi's breasts, and Sues exploring every bump, every curve, every slope, every dip. Sues kisses, caresses, her tongue on a quest, ever lower, ever lower, until her lips—

Yoshi sits up on her elbows.


Sues opens Yoshi's legs, pushes wide her shaking thighs. Light kisses below the tangled hair and Yoshi almost cries. Sues remember Yosh's fingers but she wants to kiss some more. She kisses and she kisses and she kisses, her face, wetter, tasting deeper, she wants to crawl inside. But Yosh's jerking, helpless now, her legs don't know what to do. Her chest is bursting, her lungs are gasping and her hot palms smack the floor. Sues thinks of her own building rush, and she wants to ride Yosh into that center, to ripple out this storm. Her mouth latches on to that little bud rising and she begins to lick and suck. Sues loves this taste, this feeling, like holding candies in her mouth, her lips pouring out, Yosh beneath her; Sues sucks her in as well, how can this be, but no time to think, Yosh's breath faster now, hips rising, legs wide as Sues presses her mouth down, tongue swirling and Yoshi comes, Yoshi comes.

The morning light begins to sneak through the cracks of the canoe shed. In the shadows Sues can see what she has done. Wet curls back from Yosh's vulva, pink lips waving, spiraling down. Sues knows the words for this place but the name is just the beginning. Shy girls know their Latin, shy girls know their French, but Sues, still shy, wants to know more. The square root of three thousand and three will never be enough. Sues's finger slides into vagina, rippled muscle, contracting space and Yoshi arches, a choking surrender, as Sues begins all over again.

Shy girls aren't so shy now and tough girls aren't so tough. But what they need they will find in each other, as they imagine themselves as different girls.



Valeri Alexander

Our mouths were rubbed raw where we kissed. Nights were sleepless aches of devouring each other, tumbles of animalism and grief. We didn't eat, we were too anxious, and we could not sleep except for exhausted afternoon slumbers in each other's arms. There was little differentiation in time. Streetlights came on and went off, different degrees of light filtered through the apartment blinds. She sobbed when she came; I came all the time. I loved her.

We barely went to class. Always I was rubbing my eyes, bleary, dizzy, I did not hear if spoken to. The sheets went dirty and cartons of takeout piled up in the kitchen. Sleepless and dazed, my hands shook too much to grasp a pen. There was much to say, years to cram in nights. We had no idea how long we had together. Every second was vital.

We could not even shower apart. Rubbing shampoo into her hair, bare of makeup, she looked so innocent. Our kisses tasted of soap and water. I shaved her legs for her, pulling them around my waist from behind and lathering them up well. Her pussy was also my domain and I sculpted it with the obsession of a lesbian Rodin. Her briny sweetness graced my tongue like nirvana. The tang of her walls clung to my fingers. Like a love-struck dog I couldn't stop licking her, until her screams bounded off the walls and drowned out the rushing water.

The first time with her was awkward but potent. It was after class and I was facedown in her mattress. She was unhooking my bra from behind. Then taking it off. A CD was playing; it emphasized the silence between us. I stared straight into the black of the sheet but I was seeing her room in my mind, the bamboo blinds and framed poster of Virginia Woolf. Her hands, smooth and cool, slid down my hips. My throat was tight with anticipation. She pushed at me and I turned over to see her long dark hair hanging in her face. Her perfect, inscrutable face.

My dress was crumpled in the corner. She hooked two fingers under the elastic of my panties and pulled them down my thighs. My navel looked brand new, like someone else's, under her gaze. She leaned over me and paused. Then she unsnapped her dark blue lace bra. I looked at the ceiling, closed my eyes. Quick, harsh breathing sounded in my ears. It was mine. She crawled over me on all fours. We were naked now, both of us. Her cool soft breasts melted against me like heaven descending to earth. Our mouths met like two halves locking together in a delirious whole. We rolled over and over, kissing, her knee slowly rubbing my pussy until I moaned in her mouth.

Earth ascended to heaven. Everything was pink and brown and like silk. It was ice-cream sex, vanilla and sweet, but I held her shaking body tight when she came and in her honey I tasted the venom of our potential.

At night we'd go into the club like angels, pretty and glittery and messy. We would enter into the humid darkness crisscrossed with neon laser beams; would pause to take in the pleasurable scandal of hundreds of girls dancing with girls, kissing girls against the wall; then quickly we would scan the crowd, taking in who was and was not there. We were superior and haughty, but interested in the crowded female heat. And both of us enjoyed the gossip.

(Girlworld gossip can eat your romance alive. We learned that on our second night. Her roommate told my ex who told her roommate who told her lab partner who told her ex; and that night when we met at a Mexican restaurant as arranged, our ears were ringing with untrue and hostile rumors. We were casual and distant with each other until the truth emerged. Then we realized how tight, together and impregnable we had to be. We got drunk on margaritas and kissed sloppily in front of the restaurant and then we went out and fucked in the alley, in the falling snow. It was November and the first snow of the season. I pushed her jeans down and backed her bare ass against the brick building, her pussy burning against my hand in the cold night. My fingers teased her clit, circling lazily, lightly pulling at her delicate hood, until she stood with her legs strained apart in her jeans, wordlessly begging to be fucked. Finally I slid my fingers deep inside her as her pussy sucked at me like a feverish animal, and more than anything I wanted to taste her but instead I watched the snow melt over her flushed cheekbones and closed eyelids as she groaned with her first orgasm of the night. I knew as I held her snow-flaked hair that I was on to something.)

In the club:

Topless girls gyrated and shook on three platforms. Huge projection screens were suspended from the ceiling, offering a film of two naked girls kissing in a shower, black-and-white stills of famous models, a photo of two perfectly round breasts, then one of a pale-eyed beauty with a vacant stare. Hundreds of women filled the club, exchanging the contagion of kisses and laughter and lit cigarettes, and back in the dark recesses, anonymous hands. Where before her, I had sometimes given myself over to sadness, dazed by the alien coo of computerized music booming through the speakers.

"Are you hot?—Are you okay?—Do you want a drink?"

We would dance until we were wet. We liked to sway to the tacky slow songs, our damp faces rosy-blue in the electric bath of light. I would feel her hot skin through her damp T-shirt. She would gather up my long blonde hair in her hands and blow on my neck. And on the sidelines, women would watch us.

"You are blessed," an older woman said once when I went to the bar for ice water. I looked at her, stunned, and realized a deity of love was communicating to me through her voice. I wanted to ask her for more wisdom but then something feverish hurtled at me—my girlfriend, hugging me like we hadn't seen each other in days. When I turned around, the oracle had moved off.

The bathroom was always the usual holding pen of competitors smearing on lipstick, struggling with their hair, slipping on wet toilet paper and screaming out gossip. Ears rang with deafness. Bloodshot eyes squinted in drunkenness and nausea. Bang, bang, the stall doors opened and closed and girls went in and out. I would empty my bladder, wipe off my smeared raccoon eyeliner and reapply it, powdering my skin. Then I'd drop my magic tools in my leather bag and reenter the dazzling multileveled game board of the club. Even when I could not find her, I would sense my beloved, batlike, in the sweltering darkness. I would pause and revel in that anonymous crush of love, that ancient desire of girl for girl; and then I would see her making her way toward me, swaggering in her ripped fishnet stockings and tight shorts and high heels.


Excerpted from When She Was Good by Tristan Taormino. Copyright © 2014 Tristan Taormino. Excerpted by permission of Cleis Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Tristan Taormino is an award-winning author, columnist, editor, and sex educator. She is the editor of Hot Lesbian Erotica and the author of Tristan Taormino’s True Lust, Down and Dirty Sex Secrets, and The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women. Tristan is a columnist for The Village Voice, Taboo, and Velvet Park, and her writing has also appeared in Vibe, Spectator, The Advocate, and more than 15 anthologies. Tristan has been featured in more than 200 publications, including The New York Times, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Entertainment Weekly, Details, New York magazine, Men’s Health, and Playboy. She has also appeared on CNN, MTV, Oxygen, the Discovery Channel, and over 50 radio shows. Tristan directed the adult videos The Ultimate Guide to Anal Sex for Women, Tristan Taormino's House of Ass, and Chemistry. She lives in New York City.

Ali Liebegott has been writing stories and poems since she was a teenager. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Between the Cracks; Virgin Territory II; Outsider Ink; Blythe House Quarterly; Bloom; Lodestar Quarterly; Art/Life; Solo; The Sarah Lawrence Review; The Brooklyn Review; The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal; and Sinister Wisdom. In 2005 her book-length poem, The Beautifully Worthless, was published by Suspect Thoughts Press. It won a Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Debut Fiction. Carroll and Graf published her novel, The IHOP Papers, in February 2007. In 1997, 1999, and 2007 she toured nationally with Sister Spit. In 1999 she was a recipient for a Poetry Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Currently she is writing and illustrating a novel called The Crumb People about a post-September 11th obsessive duck feeder. She lives in San Diego.

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