Friday, February 24, 2006

Olympic Gods and Erotic Divas

Team Fenson, led by my boy, Pete, spanked Great Britain 8-6 today in Torino, winning the USA's first medal for Curling in Olympic history. The boys of Team Fenson (cuties all, BTW) earned the Bronze and I for one am proud of them.

I thought the effort deserved a cool pic of Pete:

Huzzah for all the Olympians and, especially, the men and women of Team USA! More news from Torino at

Encore! There is an especially intelligent and engaging convo about Erotic Romance and Erotica going on at Fog City Divas. Go. Read. Discuss. Return.


Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Morning! Couldn't agree with you more! I'm really happy for the team, too.

Rach said...

Yeah, Pete's a cutie (love the pic!), as is the team. I'm so happy they got the bronze =).

Amanda said...

Hi Michelle: Reagarding the erotica discussion, I often wonder what role the editorial process plays when an author whose love scenes were previously warm suddenly writes something so hot the pages singe my hands--Candace Camp answered my question I think...

I just finished Bad Boys Ahoy and thought it was hot, but the story lines were not anything like the Kensington guy described: these were not heroines who just saw a hot guy and decided to have sex with him. As Sylvia Day wrote the relationships they shared an attraction and affection before they hopped into bed. Granted the gestation period for this love was shorter than the average romance, there was romance. There is just something about going through the long process of courtship and falling in love that makes the first love scene rewarding; and I'm not sure that erotica allows for this.

I'd also like to know the statistics regarding who purchases erotica: men v. women. I'm willing to bet that more men buy erotica than buy romance novels...This is not to say that women don't or shouldn't buy erotica, just that it seems to me that women would prefer romantic erotica to just plain erotica...

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Hi, Manda: I'm happy you stopped by, and glad you gave Sylvia's bood a try. I felt the same thing about the guy from Kensington's remark. I love good erotic romance, but like a "little" courtship.

I think it comes down to "suspension of disbelief." I understand intellectually that when I read erotic romance the hero/ine are going to have sex sooner. I'm prepared for that, and appreciate the form which I look at kinda clinically. I think folks are shocked/confused when they expect all romances to be the same.

I also use "SOD" when I read Erotica, which I believe differs from erotic romance ( a distinction publishers might want to make more clear if they want to legitimize erotic romance). I know erotica is about the titillation, and I accept it, and even get turned-on by it. But my life experience gets in the way of letting me enjoy it fully.

Erotic romance, especially when I understand it follows traditional romance form, turns me on cause I know the couple will end up together, and I'll get to read some, hopefully, well-written sex that is so emotional it gets my heart and body going, too.

When we wonder about men v women, I think we confuse erotica with pornography, which is a big, big discussion. We understand that men are turned on by visuals primarily, but women, too dig visuals, just secondarily, right behind emotion.

And the biggest thing I always remember about women enjoying the spectrum of sensuality in novels is this: research has shown that women don't necessarily want to have happen to them the things they fantasize about.

We tend to judge each other harshyl, which is why this discussion of erotic v erotic romance v pornography is so important.

Gosh, you got me going there. I love this topic!

Amanda said...

Okay, had carefully crafted answer all typed out and internet connection blipped:(

Loving this discussion...

Here are the high points:

1. Men v. Women: Really my thought was not so much that erotica=porn, but that men (like the Kensington spokesman who couldn't distinguish between Romantic Erotica and Erotica) might mistake Erotica for Porn and would thus be more likely to purchse Erotica than Romance novels.

2. Distinction between Genres and Subgenres is super-important.'s e-book section lumps Erotica, Romantic Erotica and Romance under the same heading of Romance. This mixing of subgenres does a disservice to all three genres, because to mix them implies that they are interchangeable. One reads each of the three genres for very different reasons. Just because lipstick, blush and powder are all cosmetics doesn't mean you use them all in the same way...

2. I agree wholeheartedly with you about SOD and Reader Expectation. When subgenres are mixed, readers expectations are thwarted and they are unsettled and unhappy. The reader who thinks Wuthering Heights is a romance and reads it expecting a happy ending is just as disappointed as the reader who picks up a "sweet" romance expecting to read some spicy sex scenes. This thwarting of expectation leads to letters like one Regency author described which accused her of being a purveyor of filth because the married characters in her book made love over the course of a couple of paragraphs...(Granted this is an extreme example, but readers don't like their expectations to be thwarted!)

3. Your comment about women not wanting to experience everything they fantasize about is right on (of course). Over and over again, readers on various boards say that though they enjoy reading about Alpha Male heroes (me included)they would not put up with one for five minutes in the real world:) And one can only imagine the utter exhaustion that would accompany exposure to the stamina of the heroes in Bad Boys Ahoy. Not that I didn't enjoy visiting that world, but I wouldn't want to live there. Well, maybe only for a little while...


Deb's Book Nook said...

I've never been big for erotica. I want a story, not just sex and more sex. I enjoy a good sex scene as much as anyone else but I want it to add to the essence of the story. I want to read about people,a relationship, not just a sex act. If all I wanted was sex, all I have to do is turn on the tv or a movie and everything is there, to be seen by all.
Know even with trying to monitor what my kids have watched growing up they have been exposed to far more sex and violence than I ever was. Seems like most of the young people I know have a totally different take on life than I did. It's ok to live together, have kids, date around whatever....I'm sorry but I'm very old fashioned too. I like the commited relationships in a romance. If we get a good love scene that expresses the love, go for it. If not and all I get is a good story, I am happy with that too. Sex constantly gets boring and mundane. It's no wonder so many skim over these parts.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Amanda: I hate when that happens! I get the most awesome comment ever written written (!) and the session times out. grrr.

Yeah, we're gonna have to visit this subject a lot. And I understood your guy/girl thing, too. And, I totally feel you on maybe diggin the "BadBoysAhoy" experience just once. Or twice.

We're gonna have to talk about that, too.

Deb: I think a lot about the issues you bring up, especially having children. I'm already planning how to "hide" my romances. Yet, I'm not ashamed of what I read or do, and spent a lot of years feeling guilty about stuff related to sex, so I don't want to give my kids the idea it's "dirty" when I chose to communicate it with them.

I think a lot about how different life it for young adults today, too. Stuff we were/are mortified by is no big thing anymore, like the stuff you mentioned. I wonder if there isn't truly an audience for erotic specifically that doesn't read it just for the fantasy element, but because they'd be comfortable having sex with someone just cause they were attracted, and because the opportunity presented itself.

God. I wish I had the energy to do a big research project on this. I think I need some ice cream.

Amanda said...

Deb, I don't have kids so I can only imagine how hard it is to protect them from the ever more x-treme world around us. I sometimes feel overexposed myself...And I'm with you on reading too many love scenes. After a while it just gets tiresome...especially if it doesn't advance the story. I was just pleasantly surprised that Bad Boys Ahoy, while very spicy, did feature rather conventional marriage plots. Which is, I suppose what separates romantic erotica from plain old erotica...

Go get you some Ice Cream, Michelle! You deserve it:)

Deb's Book Nook said...

I'm glad to see so many good replies on Bad Boys Ahoy. I had wanted to read it before and now I definitely do. Guess I am going to have to save up for a copy. Oh the horror of having another good book! NOT!

Two of my three boys are out of the house and the youngest is 16 so I can let up on previewing everything. I did watch a movie with Nicholas Cage the other day that I refused to let my son watch. It was 8 MM and just plain horrible. It was about a snuf film that had been made and in trying to find out about them they went into all kinds of pornographic stuff. I had to keep getting up and leaving the screen running to get past a certain section. lol Yeah, I know, I'm a wimp. Give me a good romance book any day. I can use my imagination there. lol

Have a great night all!

Amanda said...

Deb, I felt the same way about 8mm. It was one of those movies I wished I hadn't watched because I didn't want those images in my brain! I know it was supposed to be mysterious, but it just seemed prurient to me...

You have a good night too!

Rach said...

Deb, at least your kids are older. And male. Try having two small girls (four years and 2 months) and knowing what is in store for them. I'm contiuously shocked by what is common place these days. Teenagers or "tweens" wearing very low cut short shorts with "juicy" written across the butt. Little girls' clothes that actually look like little girls' clothes and not hooker-in-training clothing is hard to find at reasonable prices. Hence, many small girls (only first or second grade some times. I teach primary school, I know!) are wearing clothing more appropriate for adults (some of it isn't even appropriate for adults!!) than kids.

Which leads me to the next point which is the attitude today's youth has towards sex, in particular oral sex. I have read so many newspaper articles about teen girls having oral sex (always giving, NEVER receiving) oral sex with their boyfriends, on school property, during the day (!!!) that I"m shocked! Their attitude seems to be that this is no big deal and that it's not really "sex". Um, okay, if you insist.

So, all of this seems to me to indicate that today's youth are becoming blase' about sex. (Which I believe you all have pointed out). There's nothing sacred about a sexual relationship anymore. I'm not preaching no sex before marriage, but I am saying that in order for sex to be special, it should be in the context of a committed and loving relationship. And, I don't think the young people today feel this way. How can I feel good the fastest seems to be their motto.

Which IMHO, is why there is such an increase in the demand for more erotica. Relationships for the sake of making one feel good seem to be taking precedence these days. And, let's face it, the demand for steamier sex scenes in traditional romance novels is probably also a result of this. Heck, if giving a guy oral sex, while in school (again, OMG, in school??!!!!) is no big deal, then in order for these people to be "turned on", they need spicier stuff.

Now, for me, I like a good steamy scene as much as the next girl, but it needs to be in the context of a committed and loving relationship, not just sex for the sake of having sex. Hence, romantica.

Sorry this is so long, I've been thinking on the subject all day, and I guess I've just gone overboard. Ooops.

Deb's Book Nook said...

RachD, I do understand. We now have a 3 year old grandson and 4 month old granddaughter and I worry about the things they will be exposed to.
I think you expressed your point well. Kids are exposed to way to much and too many parents either don't care or are afraid to "stunt little johnnies" mental growth with actual rules and consequences if the rules are broken.
When my kids leave home I want to know they know right from wrong, and can have a respect for themselves and others and for other peoples property. all we can do is try to raise them right and hope they do right when they are on their own. But all the temptations out there really makes it hard.
Just hang in there RachD and do the best you can for your kids. In the long run they will thank you for it.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

I'm so with you on everything you guys said. I especially get and am concerned about the issue of oral sex and middle schoolers. And isn't the lack of reception for the girls NOT surprising? Let's talk AIDS, shall we?

But, let me throw this into the mix, again, thinking clinically about the issues of erotica, erotic romance, and steamy scenes in general:

What if increased interest in those sub-genres and genre are directly related to AIDS and fear of unsafe sex? What if women are choosing to read instead of do? And what if those women know better than to expose children to their books of choice?

You gotta remember, I'm a mom of an eight yr old boy and six yr old girl. I fear and think about the same stuff you do.

I had a telling experience at the bus stop with a woman who I like a lot, not a close friend, who has middle school aged kids. We were discussing what the girls wear, and I took the tack that girls should cover up more of their bodies because it's disrespectful to themselves to do otherwise, and it just ain't fair to adolescent boys. Of course, boys are responsible for their actions, etc., but for God's sake: women's bodies are power and young girls should be thinking about getting smarter, not bringing boys to their knees with belly shirts and low-rise pants.

This woman outright called me a prude. Me! You should have seen her face when I told her I review romance and erotic novels for a living.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the issue of morality is so mixed up in the discussion of erotica and erotic romance, and I think the two are separate. I also think the line gets blurred cause we do worry so much about how, and know that pop culture affects our kids. But don't you think kids have better access to 8MM than they do "If This Bed Could Talk?"

I love that you guys are so smart and bring up these great points. My brain hurts from thinking so much. Talk to you more soon. We'll get a little less serious.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

BTW, Amanda: I'm gonna get me some more ice cream. You know, though, I can justify it better since you recommended it.

And, guys, I am a magnificently horrid speller. Just to clue you in advance.

Rach said...

Michelle, on the spelling front, I too am awful. I teach second grade, see mispellings all the time, and now have a difficult time determining if something is mispelled or not. Thnak goodness for spell check. =)

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Oh my God. So you're not the only one up at this hour? Thanks for the dispensation on the spelling!

I have a similar confusion issue. When I write my column, it's for internet readers. So a paragraph is never more than 2 sentences. So, when I try to do 'real" writing, I can't remember how to make a paragraph, how long, how it flows, nothing.

Did you say you have cats?

Rach said...

Nope, no cats. Two kids, two dogs, two guinea pigs, and a 13 pound bunny. Who has time for cats???

As for the paragraphs, don't sweat it. It's a use it or lose it skill, apparently ;-).

Monica Burns said...


I visited Candice's Blog and posted a note there, and I thought I'd post a response here as well on the distinction between erotic romance and erotica.

You're correct in stating that the publishing world and the media isn't doing an adequate job defining the two. While there are some who will disagree with me, I'm of the opinion that there are distinct differences and not everyone is going like both.

For those who don't understand the nature of the beast, here's the definition of Erotic Romance/Erotica that I've been touting for over a year now. This is my personal definition, but it's pretty close to what a large number of erotic romance and erotica writers believe is the defintion.

Erotic romance contains intense sexual scenes between two individuals who are falling in love or are in love. It MUST have a happy ending and love is the ultimate focus of the relationship and the work. This can include different types of sex styles, such as increased "foul" language, acts that aren't usually found in sensual romances such as anal sex, bondage, menage a trois, interspecies sex, voyeurism, etc. If it's between consenting adults, it advances the character development, and the love and HEA are there, then it's erotic romance.

Erotica is where the sex in the story is based on emotion and NOT a relationship. The emotion can be anger, hate, love, greed, etc. Erotica is about the emotion that motivates the instances of sex, not necessarily the relationship, although relationships may or may not evolve in these types of works. Additionally, the work doesn't have to have a happy ending, unlike erotic romance, where a happy ending is essential.

So that's my definition and I'm sticking to it. Thanks for the opportunity to post. Monica Burns

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

HI, MOnica: Great distinctions and explanations. I have two sensuality rating charts for my column: one for public consumption which is linked to each sens rating on ea novel.

The second is official, the one I compiled when I designed the column. Quite literally, I have gradations based on language, body parts exposed, touched, body fluids where and from whome, and the spectrum of sex acts. I kinda got a kick out of submitting them to my supervisor and editor, both guys.

I take my sens ratings out of context. They're very clinical to me, so I can be consistent in my ratings.

thanks again for giving us your thoughts.

Monica Burns said...

LOL I would have loved to seen the looks on their faces while they were reviewing the criteria. Did you get pictures.

Sorry to hear your daugher is sick. Mine is too so I empathize.

Monica Burns

Monica Burns said...

Oh GEEZ!! I just had one of those DUH! moments. I realized you probably explained your rating scheme because I implied in my first post that the "media" wasn't doing a good job. *cringe* Wasn't my intent to be critical. *sigh* I was actually thinking about the recent Geraldo piece that aired, along with a couple of other recent news articles when I opened my big mouth the first time. The recent stories have been positive in most cases, but there are still some misconceptions out there.

Moncia <---thoroughly embarrassed by the sight of her foot in her mouth.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Monica: NITL (not in the least) My head is so much in the sand that I never made the connection. I guess I never get used to thinking of myself as media, though I guess I am in a sense. I just don't take a terribly objective view of romance. I defend it to the death. Kinda biased.

So I just explained the rating criteria cause I thought you might think it interesting. I think I'm becoming obsessed with this topic.