Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Burlesque-esque

I was recently given the opportunity of participating in a wonderful program called Burlesque Against Breast Cancer. And, being the way I am, I had stripped down to my rudiments before I realized that the commodity under discussion was a display of Jeremy writing, not a display of Jeremy flesh. So I got dressed again and wrote a story ... and I'm delighted to announce that it will be included in Ultimate Burlesque, a volume of burlesque-themed erotica that will benefit Macmillan Cancer Support. The book is being edited by Emily Dubberley and Alyson Fixter of Scarlet magazine, and published by Xcite Books.


And based on some of the publicity I've seen, I know that the following illustrious author friends will be among those included in the collection: Portia Da Costa, Emily Dubberley, Maxim Jakubowski, Kristina Lloyd, Nikki Magennis, and Donna George Storey! (I haven't seen the complete table of contents, so apologies if you're in the book and I don't know it.)

Edit: I just heard a rumor running through the lobby that the illustrious Alison Tyler will also be participating!

28 comments:

Emerald said...

Hey, congratulations Jeremy!

"I had stripped down to my rudiments before I realized that the commodity under discussion was a display of Jeremy writing..."

That is quite a commodity indeed, though how could anyone turn down the former??

Thanks once again for making me laugh out loud during my routine blog-hopping. ;)

Xoxo,
Emerald

Kirsten Monroe said...

Gosh, I was just getting into a great fantasy with you all stripped down and getting ready to do some fire breathing when you had to go and get dressed. Congrats -- sounds like a fabulous project for a burly guy like you -- and a great cause too. Maybe you'll show up under a table at this event: http://www.thenewyorkburlesquefestival.com/

EllaRegina said...

Congratulations! I wonder if a fedora is involved in any way...

Jeremy Edwards said...

Thank you all from the naked bottom of my heart!

My burlesque story has no fedoras, but it does boast two bowlers. However, I took the liberty of using a top hat in the present photo documenting my striptatious behavior. The actual hat and briefs are standard formal black, though I've tinted the image a burlesque burgundy. The hand appears courtesy of my right arm.

EllaRegina said...

That was most courteous of your right arm, given that, oddly, it is a member of Burlesque Artists' Equity while your right hand is not.

Do the bowlers wear hats or just the requisite shoes? ;-)

Jeremy Edwards said...

Hahaha ... no worries, the bowlers are wearing derbies.

EllaRegina said...

Then you've got everyone covered, so to speak.

Heidi Champa said...

Congrats!! That is too bad about the fedoras. Leave it to you to improvise, though.

kristina lloyd said...

I can't wait to get hold of this collection. I'm really intrigued to see what everyone's done with the theme.

What's the title of your story, Jeremy? Do tell!

Jeremy Edwards said...

Mine's called "Laura the Laugher." What's yours?

Of course, since Alison thinks you and I are the same person, it may turn out that my story is yours, and vice versa. We may need to swap underwear.

kristina lloyd said...

Nice! Mine is called 'The Lion Tamer's Scars'.

What's Alison's called? Maybe I should ask her. Or maybe *you* should, disguised as me. Wear a ginger wig and talk about shaven-headed brutes in army boots. She'll never spot you're an imposter!

God, these boxers feel weird.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Mine is called 'The Lion Tamer's Scars'.

Sounds lusciously leonine!!

What's Alison's called? Maybe I should ask her. Or maybe *you* should, disguised as me. Wear a ginger wig and talk about shaven-headed brutes in army boots. She'll never spot you're an imposter!

Hahaha. Actually, I've already taken such measures. The ginger wig is so realistic, I almost groped myself in the mirror.

God, these boxers feel weird.

Hmm ... I think you've got one leg through the fly. Meanwhile, I'm doing all right with your knickers. (Haven't put them on ... but doing all right.)

maxim said...

Fyi, mine is called 'The Rise and Fall of the Burlesque Empire'.

Re the thread of comments about the cover for the next Mammoth Erotica, may I plead both innocence and publishing reality. As an editor (and sometimes author) may I point out that we are rarely consulted about the covers we get and, conversely, although there is a degree of sexism involved in always having undraped women on covers (although when it comes to my titles I would hope somewhat tasteful ones...), it's something the chain and supermarket buyers who wield the purchasing power would insist on. Unless it's a vampire or supernatural piece of erotica, a male figure on the cover would spell out 'gay market' to the (conservative) book trade, and would be the kiss of death to a book.

I actually have a couple embracing in the altogether in next month's Mammoth Kama Sutra volume, but the nature of that book is different.

So, I understand Kristina and others' feelings, but it's a question of getting the book into shops/published that is more important in my eyes.

Maxim

kristina lloyd said...

Hey Maxim! Nice of you to offer your perspective.

The ‘reality of publishing’ argument is one that’s often cited by publishers and editors, and I really don’t think it’s a satisfactory answer. Publishers, in focussing solely on profit margins, are complicit in perpetuating this sexism. It’s well known in women’s magazine publishing that a black cover model results in a drop in sales. Magazines should be prepared to take an occasional drop in the hope they can bring about gradual change and counter racist attitudes. And some do.

I’m not blaming you personally but, as an editor, you surely have influence. Change has to come from the publishers. They are the ones making the covers. If enough publishers started changing, the bookbuyers would have no choice but to buy from them.

The idea that a half-dressed man = a gay man is very prevalent and deeply entrenched in our society. It’s that ‘normality’ Kristina W spoke of – ie it’s so normal that people don’t even notice this is actually, intrinsically rather odd and unfair. Why shouldn’t an eroticised man be seen to appeal *also* to women? Why aren’t we allowed to look? Why are we always having to look at what straight men like to look at?

Again, I don’t think it’s enough to say, Well, that’s the way it is, that’s what people and the book trade think about images of sexy men. It’s not enough to merely explain the status quo. Change needs to start happening.

I would love to see couples on your Mammoth Erotica series. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, is it? Because I don’t understand the logic of a couple featuring on your Kama Sutra book because it’s ‘different’. Unless we’re saying KS represents sexual mutuality therefore its market is couples - unlike erotica whose market is (still) het men.

Mammoth BNE has being going a wonderfully long time and is a well-established series. I’m damn sure the erotica-buying public has changed a lot in those years. I don’t understand why the covers haven’t.

Go on, Maxim. Give us a bicep for 2010!

Mathilde Madden said...

Well said KL. I particularly like your point that eroticised men *have* to be for gay male attention because women aren't allowed to look.

This attitude, that only women are allowed to represent 'sexy' outside the ghettos of gay male and romance fiction is getting so tired it positively creaks. And in bed next to is the lame implication that male hetness is so fragile and delicate that it must be protected from naked men at all costs!

Are men really meant to be still so scared of homosexuality these days? None of the men I know are.

The erotica publishing industry is not some remote powers that be dictating what can be on covers - it is all of us. We can change it. We all need to raise our voices and keep on saying that this is not okay. Because it isn't. It really isn't okay that Erotica publishing (which so often like to place itself at the cutting edge of liberal thinking on sexuality) cannot grasp basic equal opportunities.

I don't submit stories to collections and publishers that continue to put out this kind of cover with no attempt at balance because I actually don't think just getting the books into the shops/published - when they perpetuate this kind of depressing sexism - really is 'more important'.

Smut Girl said...

well congrats to all of you! wow. that is a pretty, pretty isn't it? you think she'd let me borrow her corset?
yay for you!
XOXO
Sommer

maxim said...

ah, worthy words and sentiments, Brighton ladies...

Might I be malicious and point out that many of the covers you've been given yourselves by your publishers have also displayed their quota of naked female skin (unless they were in the paranormal sub-genre, which appears to be ok as I mentioned earlier), or whenever there has been a token male torso or more, it has been of buff models which few of us compare favourably with and could well raise the opposite problem/attitude from potential straight male readers.

I'd also point out that there is no erotica publishing industry, just a single publishing industry in which erotica forms just a minute island.

I've worked in publishing for 25 years as editorial head of Virgin (pre erotica publishing, though), Penguin and Hearst/Natmag) and can assure you from experience that if a publisher were to go radically against the grain, they would just be committing commercial suicide. The chains and supermarkets are just too powerful and if they (wrongly) believe that such images can sell the books, they will turn down all experiments attempting to prove the contrary

I strongly believe that some of the best erotic writing of the last decade or so has been by women writers, and I have always championed it and them even if it meant accepting cover artwork for my anthologies that doesn't always reflect the contents accurately and I am unwilling to go to battle with my publishers to change this. Neither do I believe that publishers' attitudes are going to change. It's not so much the quest for profits, more the desire to stay afloat and pay wages, advances and royalties which motivates them. So, in that sense, I can't see this status quo changing.

I also find it interesting that the current leading US publisher of erotica, by default, Cleis Press, even though a strongly gay and lesbian outfit also gladly perpetuate this status quo. I assume they feel exactly the same way as you do, but make this personal sacrifice as the sale of erotica finances their more militant books.

It's not a perfect world, but we all muddle through.

Call me unprincipled if you will, but I'd still prefer to see the writers I like get published in my anthologies rather than not published at all.

Many of the points you raise are good ones, and this is a debate that could go on for ages. I'm not sure there is a clear cut answer to it.

Warmly,


Maxim

kristina lloyd said...

*whenever there has been a token male torso or more, it has been of buff models which few of us compare favourably with and could well raise the opposite problem/attitude from potential straight male readers*

Goodness, I don’t think any of the women speaking here have argued we dislike images of women on covers because they make us feel insecure about our butts! To suggest that’s our concern trivialises this debate and overlooks the important political points we’re making about gender bias. And that’s not being ‘worthy’. That’s wanting to live in a world where women and men have equality.

But as you say, this discussion could run and run. Some people are guided by their principles, some aren’t. And those who aren’t usually don’t need to be. They are the lucky ones.

maxim said...

Kristina,

I wasn't an attempt to trivialise the matter at all.

Book covers, and even more so erotica ones, do not feature average males of females, and by featuring the archetypal buff model infer this is a representation of reality as much as having women with perfect bodies does. It's not a question of butt appreciation or not. Actually, just this morning my wife pointed out that my butt was rather good for a man of my age, so I have no butt issues at least today...

I grant you the fact I am not a political animal, but then for me men and women have always been totally equal, and I don't see that a campaign to make erotic book covers less female orientated is going to change the minds or attitudes of the stupid minority (or majority?) of people who alas think differently.

Not a war, just a skirmish, methinks...

Will it ever be safe for me to set foot on the Brighton waterfront again?

kristina lloyd said...

*Will it ever be safe for me to set foot on the Brighton waterfront again?*

Only if you buy me a beer.

maxim said...

((Only if you buy me a beer.))

Good. A cheap price to pay for peace of mind or bodily safety!

Mind you, won't be coming to the Burlesque book launch though as will be at Rome Film Festival at the time. But doing at least one of the London events!

Neve Black said...

I just posted a CONGRATULATIONS on AT's blog. Sending my good thoughts over here as well.

Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Speaking of beer and festivity ... since I'm wearing Kristina's knickers at present, I'm offically on UK time—meaning that the bar is now open!

Kristina Wright said...

Popping in a bit late for the burlesque show. Perhaps I can catch the next act?

I feel like we need to take the erotica book cover debate elsewhere before poor Jeremy flings his steel-tipped fedora at us (um... James Bond, anyone?).

Maxim, thank you for your thoughts. Though, like Kristina L, I find it frustrating to be told, in essence, "That's just the way it is." Sigh.

Congrats to Jeremy and all who are in Ultimate Burlesque. It's a terrific cause-- and perhaps one of the few instances where a lone woman on the cover makes sense. :)

Jeremy Edwards said...

Popping in a bit late for the burlesque show. Perhaps I can catch the next act?

Yes, there is the possibility that I will be persuaded to take my clothes off again. (Well, actually Kristina L.'s clothes, at this point ... but who's counting?)

Sorry, possibility isn't the word I wanted there ... Damn, one beer and my active vocabulary goes to hell. Let's see, not possibility, but ...

Ah, yes: inevitability

MarkFarley said...

Hi all, I'm also in this compilation and I will be appearing all over the UK with the BABC team, reading it while scantily clad lovelys reveal all.

It's called 'The Intimate Diary of Martha Rae' and it is a fake unearthed journal of a girl who performed in a saloon in 1860s California, at the height of the Gold Rush.

I completely agree with all said about the book covers. But, as a bookseller, I can definately see a shift in people's attitude's towards buying erotica and (agreeing for a moment with Maxim, especially about what book chains will take) because publishers and bookshops have to cater towards people's ignorance and general whims, I do believe you will see a definite change in cover designs (don't get me on book covers, I am obsessed with all of them) and what I think is great about Xcite is that they don't go down that traditional (almost retro route) and I am proud to represent them.

I saw Mathilde at South bank and her presentation was bang on, and hilarious, especially when her flying penis fell apart.

MarkFarley said...

Change needs to start happening, I agree with Kris. But Maxim is a small publisher and needs to toe the party line while promoting the art of erotica so passionately, and for so long.

More important is changing the attitudes of major publishers (none of whom have a an erotica imprint, actually that's not true as some do but they are 'on hold' becuase of collective publishing trends) in changing their approach to this growing genre.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Can I just take a moment to say that "especially when her flying penis fell apart" is the best dependent clause I've heard all week?