Best Sex Writing of the Year V1
Sometimes I play a game. It is an easy one, and I think it is one we all enjoy—at least secretly. When I walk through neighborhoods, I wonder what is happening, right at that moment, behind the doors and curtains of a particular house. Sometimes I’ll even stop and really think about it. A few of my friends will humor this game and maybe even play along. It can surely result in some laughs, but I’m serious.
I really want to know what people are getting up to. I want to know what they’re doing in there. I want them to tell us.
Take a listen to Tom Waits’s creepily mesmerizing track “What’s He Building In There?” from his album Mule Variations. It was released around the same time that a friend and I happened upon an exhibition of photos of Australian fetishists. Both stirred my inquisitive juices. Both brought me to a world that I rarely knew of. Waits was telling me to actively wonder what was going on “in there” and the exhibition was actively telling me what is going on “in there.”
Of course, it all makes me think of sex. Even if the photo exhibit had not been directly about sex, it would have made me think about sex. There is no more guarded, more secretive, more hidden subject in our society than sex. For many, sex is a conversation that just doesn’t happen. Sex is the word that gets tucked under the mattress so that neither friendly visitor nor sneaky peepers will catch a glimpse of it. Sex makes us vulnerable so we hide it away as far from prying eyes as we can.
Or, at least we used to.
Sexual media has changed a lot since the first edition of Best Sex Writing came out in 2005. At that point we were certainly intrigued and flirting with the Internet and telling stories. Remember Livejournal? But back then, if you were talking about sex on the Internet, you were predominantly talking about porn. Of course, porn is still an ever-present part of our online experiences, but out of sites like Livejournal grew an interest and passion for sex stories and sex writing.
Much is made of the Wild West nature of the Internet, it being an anything goes playground rife with the most meaningless and thoughtless content. But at the same time, it was that very abandon that allowed sex writing to become a daily fixture in our reading lives. Whether it be blogs or information sites or daily digests of sex-related news, the Internet has allowed us all to interact with sex content as often as we want—as opposed to waiting for our favorite magazines or books to cover sex topics.
Sure, magazines and books are still tremendous sources of content about the wild world of sex. But more and more, those blogs, information sites, daily digests and much more are becoming the must reads. Which is why the writers and curators of online content figure so significantly in this collection.
And while the number of outstanding sex writers and creators has exploded with the availability of our digital media, so too have the topics being highlighted. Topics that might otherwise have been considered too risqué or too bland are now freely discussed. Traditional media has always been focused on the middle of the road with the occasional foray into something like BDSM or fetish to get some attention. But the Internet has thrown open the doors of what should be talked about, from very niche and specific sexual practices to cultural critiques to the simple aspects of sex that we all missed in repressed or nonexistent sex education.
How many essays need to be written about enjoying masturbation? As many as it takes to help those who are troubled by the concept.
How many articles need to be written about which surfboard bags are best for bondage and personal confinement needs (something I remember from the photo exhibit)? As many as will fulfill that audience.
Let me tell you, there is an audience. Many different audiences, some of whom overlap and some who seek out specific content. So much sex to read about, so little time!
But that’s what I’m building in here. I’m building—with the words and thoughts of so many fantastic writers—a collection of pieces that will speak to individuals, groups and cultures. Some of the topics you will read about here are very specific while others speak to all of us. Bringing them together is an attempt to throw open those doors. Pull the thoughts out from under the mattresses. Talk about sex in meaningful, thoughtful and creative ways.
After reading these works, maybe you’ll open a few doors of your own.