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May’s Mucky Book: The Stud by Jackie Collins

First published in 1969, Jackie Collins’ The Stud epitomises the bonkbuster.

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Following the staff, proprietors and customers of The Hobo, a hip London nightclub, The Stud is a tale of sex, double-dealing and revenge. Expect oodles of glamour and a great deal of shagging.

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After all, if Barbara Cartland called it ‘filthy, disgusting and unnecessary,’ it’s hard to resist taking a closer look.

This month’s Mucky Book Club will take place on 12th May 2011:

– live at The Ship, Wandsworth at 7pm
– on Twitter from 7.30pm under the hashtag #muckybooks

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If you can’t make it on 12th, don’t despair – read along anyway, and add your comments to the bottom of this post!

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The Mucky Book Club is open to anyone who would like to take part. If you’d like to join our mailing list (so that we can send updates to you via email), please use the form below.

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Guest Mucky Review: Deep in the Heat of Texas

Review by Ruby Redfire, who reviews romance and erotica on her blog.

Reporter, Maggie, is assigned to do a story about the dude ranch industry. Maggie and her two friends, Payton and Sophia stay at the Weston Ranch, with the Weston Brothers to experience ranch life first hand. The friends are each assigned a cowboy (or two) to show them the ropes ;) and the ladies are taken out of their comfort zone in more ways than one.

This book is great if you are new to Erotic Romance the three stories are written by three different writers and are not for the faint hearted. The first story to me was based around giving up control. The second story was based on a ménage relationship. The third story was more about a struggle for balance with two strong characters.

Sophie’s story is the first in the book called Tempted in Texas and written by Alta Hensley.

Sophie is a stressed out control freak who needs to learn to let go and Deacon Weston is the man to entice her to do it. Deacon’s conditions for Sophie’s stay are, she follows his rules!

His rules are:
1. No computer and no work.
2. Sophie allows him to meet her needs and take care of her during her stay.
3. Sophie never questions what he says.

There is an element of dominance / submission to this story Deacon is your typical alpha male in a romance strong, warm, caring and sexy as hell (but to me is a bit a kinky as he like to spank his women). Instead of letting the workaholic work the ranch he makes her relax.

I think a lot of women today can relate to the story especially where in their day to day lives they are in control i.e., at work and at home who wouldn’t in a fantasy world, love for their man to say you know what darling I’m going to look after your needs for a change. I’m sure once she picks herself up off the floor from passing out from shock, she’d drag him to a doctor to make sure he was OK.

I have a soft spot for the Alpha males, I love what I call a proper bloke with a good heart and I loved this story. I thought the sex scenes were brilliantly written and very hot, to the point that when my husband patted my ass the other morning to get me to move out the way I found myself grinning at him.

The only thing I didn’t like was it was too short but then again Novellas are ;) and the fact it’s only available to those who have an ereader or ereader app for their IPOD/phone. The good thing is you can download a sample before buying.

Contains: spanking, light bondage, anal sex, oral sex and lots of sex.

You can buy Deep in the Heat of Texas in paperback or for the Kindle.

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Become a Mucky Reviewer!

Read a book lately that’s got you hot under the collar, or found a memoir that’s enthralled you?

Know any films that are sure to set your pulse racing?

Then why not become a Mucky Reviewer?

I’d love to host your reviews of books (be they fiction, memoir, humour, how-to guides, science) or films (from Hollywood movies with saucy bits in them to porn films you’d recommend to a friend). See it as a chance to share a great turn-on, or to discuss an important issue.

The guidelines are as follows:

  • Reviews should be 500 words or less
  • The items reviewed should be somehow related to the topic of sex – or you could use your review to make a case for something being erotic!
  • Your piece should be fair and unbiased
  • You will need to provide a name (or a nom de plume) and a title for your review
  • I won’t be editing the pieces, so please ensure they’re as perfect as you can make them
  • I reserve the right to reject anything I find offensive, self-promotional or biased.
  • Your piece should be send in the body of an email to hello@bettyherbert.com

Can’t wait to read them!

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April’s Mucky Book Club read: Beauty’s Punishment by A N Roquelaure

After the success of Interview with a Vampire, Anne Rice took on the nom de plume A N Roquelaure (an 18th century cloak), and returned to her erotic literary concerns of the 1960s.

Despite the fact that she only revealed her true identity in the 1990s, the Sleeping Beauty books were a huge commercial and critical success, out-selling her vampire novels. They represent an erotic reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty story, in which Beauty is awoken from her hundred-year sleep by a prince who inducts her into a realm of sexual exploration. The books are known for their sadomasochistic content (which has proved controversial) as well as their surreal, fairytale narratives.

For this month’s Mucky Book Club, we’re reading the second part of the trilogy, Beauty’s Punishment.

Mucky Book Club will take place on 14th April 2011:

– live at The Ship, Wandsworth at 7pm

– on Twitter from 7.30pm under the hashtag #muckybooks

If you can’t make it on 14th, don’t despair – read along anyway, and add your comments to the bottom of this post!

The Mucky Book Club is open to anyone who would like to take part. If you’d like to join our mailing list (so that we can send updates to you via email), please use the form below.





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10 Sensible Thoughts About Porn

1. Every couple of years, one media outlet or another will run a ruminative piece on porn. This allows them to combine two big sellers: sex and moral panic. There would be absolutely no benefit in them concluding that porn was a good thing. Therefore, when the mainstream media talk about porn, they often divert directly to the most degrading examples possible. It makes a better story.

2. The term ‘porn’ is pretty useless without context. We use it to cover such a wide range of material, from words on a page to live, interactive internet performance; from topless glamour shots to footage of child abuse. Many discussions of porn fail to differentiate between different types of material. We simply take a pro- or anti-porn stance. This is as stupid as taking a pro- or anti- stance on ingestion, rather than recognising the shades of meaning that fall within the term. It’s hard to make a case for swallowing glass, but easy to love the health benefits of a salad. We are even capable of reasoning that cake is bad for us in quantity, but perfectly fine on occasion. We need to take a similarly nuanced view of porn.

3. I used to think I was anti-porn, but I hadn’t really watched any. I was worried about: plastic tits, women being degraded, abuse/coercion of performers, sex being ‘performed’ rather than experienced, the effect porn had on the viewer, and whether porn does enough to challenge outdated gender roles. I’m still worried out those things, actually, it’s just that I’m now able to make more informed choices about the porn I watch. I didn’t have the information to understand that different producers are making porn in different ways.

4. When talking about porn, we rarely ask the basic question: Do we think it’s wrong to portray people having consensual sex in a manner of their choosing, for an adult audience? My answer to this question is: No, I don’t think that’s wrong on principle. We must always bear that question in mind when we talk about porn. We are often critical of the means of delivering porn, rather than porn itself, yet we too often fail to make the distinction.

5. Women actively enjoy sex. The vast majority of sexual encounters are consensual and hopefully pleasurable. Just because a woman has sex, it does not make her a victim. We all understand that these days. Don’t we? Then why is it so hard to understand that women can happily consent to be part of the porn industry?

6. No performer, be they male or female, should be abused or assaulted in the name of entertainment. Actually, can I shorten that statement, please? No person should be abused or assaulted, full stop. If we choose to watch porn that contains criminal acts, we are supporting and perhaps funding that act. It is the responsibility of the viewer to satisfy themselves that they are watching a consensual act. However, none of the preceding statements mean that porn in inherently abusive. Nor does it mean that all porn actors are victims. It would be helpful to have the equivalent of a Fair Trade badge for porn.

7. Is porn sexist? Well, it’s a tricky one. It’s fair to say that a great deal of porn is made for the heterosexual male gaze. It’s also worth pointing out that mainstream porn, particularly the stuff made in the US, seems fixated on a certain type of female body, which looks remarkably like a Barbie doll to me. If we studied the sweep of porn films currently available, I doubt we would conclude that they offered the most aspirational view of womanhood possible. However, I’m not aware of the same levels of concern being expressed about the men who perform in gay porn, who must conform to equally idealised body images, and who are also sometimes portrayed as being available for the sexual gratification of another. Porn is just a window through which we can watch our own fantasies played back to us. What’s more, we are able to choose the porn we watch. I’m uncomfortable with watching Barbie doll women who appear to have no concern for their own pleasure, so I don’t watch it.

8. It’s an undeniable fact that young people have more access to porn than ever before, and the material they can get hold of is probably more explicit. We must ask ourselves what part of this makes us feel uncomfortable. Clearly, we need to ensure that young children don’t stumble across material that would shock and frighten them. But I’d argue that it’s a good thing that older teenagers are able to access the information about sex that they need. Even people as young as me (*cough*) can remember the bizarre rumours that were shared about sex, in the absence of all other information. However, we must ensure that teenagers have the opportunity to put porn into context. They need to understand that some porn is nothing more than a modern-day freakshow; they also need to know that they have choices around many of the acts that are standard in porn, for example anal sex. This means that they need sensible, sensitive and open sex education more than ever, I’m afraid. It’s unlikely that they’ll lose the ability to access porn now, and even more unlikely that they’ll lose their natural curiosity about sex.

9. Sex is playtime for adults. Just as we accept that children’s games sometimes take them to dark places, we must accept this of adults too. Being a human being is an exercise in light and shade, and this is sometimes expressed in the realm of sex. There is a worrying trend in contemporary anti-porn feminism to argue that certain desires and fantasies are just wrong, perhaps a case of false-consciousness or a result of the malign influence of patriarchy. I don’t think that one group of people should tell another group of people what to think.

10. Porn is widely used by both men and women. It is entirely natural to become aroused at the sight of other people doing sexual things. The vast majority of people who access porn do not become addicted, and do not commit sexual crimes as a result. That is not to downplay the terrible nature of any addiction or crime; it is simply to say that porn is just one of many means through which people might enact social, emotional or psychological problems. We must stop imagining people to be passive, malleable viewers, and instead remember that audiences bring their own aims, world views and critical understandings to anything they watch. The more we acknowledge this, the more we empower people to make thoughtful, ethical choices about the porn they consume, rather than forcing them to behave furtively.

Oh, and one more:

11. Jacqui Smith, there was a public outcry about your ‘interesting’ interpretation of parliamentary expenses rules. Don’t confuse this with your husband’s use of porn. I suspect that most people aren’t particularly shocked that your husband watches the odd blue movie. They are shocked that you’d be willing to claim your sister’s house is your first home, rather than, say, the house your children live in. I’d hate you to be in a muddle about the real moral issue behind this.

Some source material from the recent porn debate:

Jacqui Smith’s R5 Live programme, Porn Again (link expires 11th March 2011) and her accompanying article in The Independent.

Can Sex Films Empower Women, a debate between Anna Arrowsmith and Gail Dines in The Guardian.

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Only Natural

If there turns out to be such a thing as reincarnation, can I put in an early request to come back as a Bonobo chimp? They have all the fun.

A markedly peaceable species that distribute food fairly between themselves, they solve conflicts by having sex with each other. Or a spot of frottage, they’re not terribly fussy. Primate life being what it is, this means that their lives appear to be a series of sexual encounters with every passing group member.

Bonobos are one of the few animal species that use sex for pleasure rather than reproduction – in other words, they form homosexual pairs, engage in group sex, masturbate, perform oral sex and mate outside of their fertile period. Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha, authors of Sex at Dawn, argue that the only other creature that gets close to this is the human being.

Sex at Dawn is a fascinating look at the biological and social anthropological evidence for how human sexuality evolved. Crucially, it re-evaluates this data, challenging the more traditional interpretation that sought to justify ‘desirable’ human behaviour.

We’re all familiar with the arguments that human females naturally seek to form life-long monogamous pairs. They have lower sexual desire than males, we’re told, because it’s in their best interests to form a stable, loving relationship with one man who can provide for them while they raise children. Meanwhile, men desire to ‘spread their seed’ as widely as possible, but are also keen to ensure that they don’t accidentally raise another man’s offspring. In this model, men choose to suppress their broad sexual urges in favour of guaranteeing the dominance of their own genes, whilst women are helpless without male support and interested in sex only to produce children.

Somehow, in the modern world, it’s hard to find that picture appealing. Personally, I’ve always favoured the view that there’s no ‘natural’ form to human relationships, only a variety of choices over how to make them work. But Ryan and Jetha present a set of ideas that are new to me – that human beings, like Bonobos, are naturally polyamorous, and that western, industrialised cultural behaviour suppresses women’s sex drives.

Sadly, there isn’t the space here to delve into the detail of Ryan and Jetha’s arguments, but the conclusion they draw is this: the monogamous marriage is an institution that is imposed on human beings very much against their natural will and inclination. The sheer level of effort and rule-making that it requires is enough to prove it.

You might expect me to violently disagree with this, but I don’t. To me, there is no higher moral purpose in marriage, and in its most contemporary form, it seems to me that it too often isolates couples into their own, high-pressure world. The early human communities that Sex at Dawn describes, with greater sharing of food-gathering and child-rearing, and no sense that anyone owns anyone else, make a great deal of sense to me. If nothing else, they would surely stave off the hideous anxiety and loneliness that new parents seem to go through. I might even consider having children myself if it didn’t mean facing the void.

Moreover, it’s time we acknowledged that sexual infidelity has always existed, sometimes with the tacit consent of the ‘wronged’ partner. It’s time that we learned to talk about these desires for sex outside of marriage, and whether this actually affects our love for our more permanent partners.

That said, I live very happily in an entirely monogamous relationship, so I’m not sure what Ryan and Jetha would make of me. Am I fooling myself? Or is there a risk that Sex At Dawn replaces one set of assumptions about what is ‘natural’ with another set?

It’s great to see the variety and voracity of human sexuality being not only acknowledged but supported by a great deal of evidence. But it seems to me that humans are different to all other animals because of their ability to reason and make conscious choices. This means that we can engage in a rainbow of sexual behaviour that would raise the eyebrows of even a Bonobo, but it also means that we can select the form in which we live too.

The important thing is that we don’t impose any abstract moral rules on the way we ‘should’ live and love – and I think we’ve got a long way to go before we truly accept people who choose to live outside of the idealised couple format (although we may have finally got over the idea that we ought to legitimise our relationship by marrying). Different people will choose different forms, for different reasons. We must learn to accept these very human choices, rather than imposing a new concept of what is ‘natural’.

I’d recommend this book to everyone. It feels to me like a key text in understanding and liberating human sexuality, and the world is ready for it. It’s vital that we begin to accept that female desire easily equals male desire in frequency and intensity, if we allow it free reign. I just think that this must be a part of broadening our view, rather than replacing it with a new set of strictures.

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Every Day’s a School Day

Someone very kind (in fact, the lovely Friend of the Blog Jess Kelley) has sent me some instructional DVDs. Wednesday night being Date Night, I suggest them to Herbert.

‘What are they?’ he says.

‘There’s one on vulva massage and one on finding the G-spot.’

‘Okay,’ he says, ‘fine. We’ll maybe leave the clingfilm ‘til next week.’

‘Clingfilm?!’

‘Yes,’ he says, ‘you know. We talked about it. But don’t worry, we can save it for another time.’ Now he comes to mention it, I do remember talking about it, but I must have hidden it behind the door in my brain that says, ‘Eeek’.

We start with Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to the G-Spot. The format here seems to be a factual discussion complete with passion-killing diagrams, a studio demonstration of the techniques by two very game women, and then some captioned porn to watch afterward. We’ll get to that in a minute; but there’s a more pressing concern. After a few minutes of watching Tristan Taormino talking through the structure of the G-spot, I cannot help but say,

‘She looks just like your sister.’

‘Ugh,’ groans H, ‘why did you have to say that out loud? Did you think I hadn’t noticed?’

‘Don’t worry,’ I say, ‘I don’t think she’ll be personally giving any demonstrations.’

H frowns at me, and I take that to mean the discussion is closed. Thankfully, the science bit is soon over, and we move on to the films, which are supposed to show how to put the educational bit into practice. I don’t buy this. The first couple don’t seem to do anything particularly G-spot oriented, although a little caption comes up whenever they get close. The second couple play with G-spot toys for a while before moving on to a more standard shag. We are essentially informed that every known sexual position hits the G-spot. If that’s the case, why am I not getting earth-shattering orgasms from the doggy position? And why do all the actresses seem to need to hold the legendary Hitachi Magic Wand to their clitorises in order to come? I am left a little perplexed at what all this G-spot stimulation is supposed to achieve.

Anyhow, H and I should not be allowed to watch porn together. We commentate in the most unhelpful way possible.

Me: ‘Look, she’s giving one of those weird swivel-headed blowjobs that only porn actresses can do.’

H: ‘That woman is really angry about something. She’s probably hiding a pair of scissors behind that cushion.’

Me: ‘Never, ever do that to my clitoris. Ever.’

H: ‘Did you see his ball-bag? Oh my god, that’s the weirdest ball-bag I ever saw. Look: it’s flapping all over the place.’

Me: ‘What I love about porn is that you get to see people naked. Not in a sexy way. Just that you get to see what other people look like.’

This continues apace until the female ejaculation film. The couple talk for a while about the woman’s propensity to ‘squirt’, and then get down to it.

Me: ‘Good Caesarean scar.’ I like scars.

H: ‘That’s not squirting, she’s just getting a bit wet…oh my god…I take it all back.’

Me: ‘That’s seriously impressive. Bloody hell…and again…and again. Where is she storing this stuff?’

We move on the to The Best of Vulva Massage, Vol 1, which is all about erotic touch. There’s a tantric/spiritual aspect to the selection of clips that I fear will bring H out in hives, but it turns out he’s just quite keen on watching footage of lots of vulvas.

From my point of view, I vastly prefer the techniques on display for touching your lady parts. There is an absence of clitoral prodding, and I’m delighted to see Betty Dodson showing one woman how to masturbate just like I do. I mentally award myself a gold star for getting it right. However, I’m disturbed to hear that this woman is a medical student and doesn’t know how to find her clitoris. Please tell me she skipped that class.

We finish by watching an erotic massage therapy session taking place. I’ll confess we snigger a bit at first. I really must stop finding moustaches funny. The subject of the massage comes off as a bit needy, but I think that’s possibly because we’re not used to watching sex in a therapeutic context. After the therapist brings her to a series of seismic-looking orgasms, though, H gazes admiringly at the screen and says, ‘He’s good at his job.’ And then he thinks for a while and adds, ‘I don’t suppose they have therapists like that for men, do they?’

What did we learn?

Well, although the Tristan Taormino DVD didn’t quite convince me of the value of a G-spot, it did teach me an interesting trick: when G-spot stimulation makes you feel like you need to pee, release down your PC muscles (rather then clenching them as you would to stop yourself from peeing), and this seems to relieve the sensation. The Vulva Massage DVD was not a turn-on (I don’t think it was supposed to be, although this wasn’t always clear), but was genuinely informative about different approaches to touch. It certainly gave H some ideas to try out later.

And, it turns out, that G-spots are rather fun when you’re not worried you’re going to wet yourself.

As they say, every day’s a school day.

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