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Porn: Visual or Written? Also, my book is out!

So I’m writing this essay about the differences between visual erotica and written erotica, and I wanted to spew about it here for a bit. As a long-time sex writer, I’ve always felt faintly guilty about the fact that I usually prefer visual smut to the written variety. It’s not that I don’t enjoy and appreciate good sex writing — I do — but it’s often more of an aesthetic or cultural appreciation. When it comes to actually getting off, I almost always head for the dirty pictures or videos.

I’m just so very picky about written porn. It’s rare to find erotic stories that are as well-written as I want them to be, *and* that hit my own particular erotic buttons (which are very particular indeed). Compared to my own sex fantasies, I almost always find other people’s dirty stories a bit disappointing.

And visual porn has this immediacy that I really like. Photos and videos especially: I like the fact that the camera is capturing real people doing real sexual things. It makes it very visceral, and easier for me to suck into my own fantasy world.

But obviously this is very much a matter of taste. After all, I’m a porn/erotica/smut writer myself, so I obviously think sex writing is a pretty cool thing, with potential to be arousing both sexually and otherwise. And it’s not like I’ve never been turned on by a dirty story. There are a few that live in mind and my libido years after having read them. (“The Hit” by Aaron Travis comes to mind…)

So I’m curious about how this works for other people. What do you think? What are the differences for you between written and visual porn? If you enjoy porn, which do you prefer? Or do you prefer comics, with its elements of each? And why?

P.S. My new book is out! My erotic novella, Bending, has just been published as part of the three-novella collection Three Kinds of Asking For It, edited by Susie Bright and published by Simon & Schuster. “Bending” is an erotic novella about a woman who is sexually fixated on being bent over. More broadly, it’s about obsession and what happens when you finally get enough of the thing you’ve been craving.

Three Kinds of Asking For It is in stores (both the physical and the online variety) right now. I’ll blog more about it in a few days: in the meantime, you can go to my Website to read an excerpt from it, or get the details of my book tour. Quickie details on the tour: I’ll be in San Francisco at A Different Light Books on July 7 (with Susie Bright); Los Angeles at Skylight Books on July 16 (with Jill Soloway of “Six Feet Under” and Susie Bright); New York at Bluestockings on July 19 (just me); and Capitola/Santa Cruz at the Capitola Book Cafe on August 3 (with Susie Bright). Come by and say howdy.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m story-oriented, and it’s really hardwired in from my earliest memories. Words can just push me right over the edge, it’s ridiculously easy. I need more coaxing with pictures, I always start out a little dubious. I find myself playing critic, or getting distracted. With a story, I easily get lost in my fantasy mind.

  2. Sex-Pos Fem says

    As far as what’s easier to get off on? My vote goes to Visual, hands down (“clits up”). Now with visual porn, because you said “dirty pictures and videos”, I assumed you weren’t talking more urbane pieces, like the Sistine Chapel or Venus de Milo or something, so I left that out of the category. It made it easier to choose Visual without the inclusion of artwork, because then it’s a more informal category.
    I can’t even bring myself to call pornographic novels “porn”, I call them “erotica” and relegate the word “porn” to the visual media, as though “porn” has a more cut-and-dry connotation than “erotica”. With written erotica I look for literally meaning, and some higher cultural/intellectual value. I can skip around with visuals, that’s why instead of photos and movies, we call them pics and flicks, isn’t it? With pics you pick which ones you like, and with flicks, you flick from scene to scene with. But with reading a book the first time, I get sucked right into the story line, and skipping over whole paragraphs just to “cut to the chase” seems unreasonable at that point.

  3. Ralph Wilson says

    This has always been a big interest to me, because stories have always worked for me, while I am just at a loss as to how videos/pix etc seem so much more exciting to a lot of folks. For me I think it comes down to this: with a story I can identify with a character, placing myself in the position of the charchter(s)-that’s what I do with fiction anyway.
    But with pictures it just becomes: sex somebody else is having, indifferant to my existence, so I feel really disengaged. I can’t even get a voyeuristic rush because they are utterly unaware of/ unconcerned by my observation of them. For them, I am just one more consumer, and for me they are just one more example of stuff that is happening to SOMEBODY ELSE!
    The fact that I can see other bodies makes it pretty unmistakeable that the film people are not me or anyone I know.
    And frankly, large number of the performers convey the feeling that they are not there in the scenes they play either. There’s subtext of absence that seems to let the viewer know they’re not losing their head up there on the screen, o.k.
    So: nobody is really immediately engaged in anything. its just a kind of stylized pantomime done with real human puppets.(with evidence of real ejaculation the proof it offers that somthing IS going on, of course!)
    On the other hand, all this rationalizing aside, the truth is I’ve always been just built like this. These divergent responses to puix and text were present from my earliest exposure to sexual materials when I was quite young. Like Ms Bright said, my feeling is that it is just “hardwired” into who I am.
    Go figure.
    Anyway, keep writing please. For some of us a word is worth a thousand pictures!

  4. says

    Sorry it took me so long to get back to you all (I’ ve been out of town). I’m starting to think that this stuff may well be hard-wired. The thing I find so fascinating about Ralph’s comments is that I feel the same way, but opposite — I find it much easier to identify with the people in porn if there are pictures of them. I mean, they’re right THERE, in front of me. The pictures make it so much easier to project myself into the scene.
    Why is that true, while for Ralph the opposite is true, and he’s more easily enticed into a scene with words? I have no idea. Especially since it isn’t true for me at all when it comes to non-porn — I’m certainly very fond of visual art, but it doesn’t have the same vice-grip hold on my brain that books do. Everything I’ve read breaks it down along gender lines (men supposedly like pictures, while women supposedly like words). But if this tiny statistical sampling of four people is any indication, that’s clearly bullshit. I suppose it doesn’t really matter — I’m just curious, is all.

  5. Rachel Clarke says

    I think written porn SEDUCES the sexual senses whereas visual porn rather just goes out and downright AMBUSHES it. . . . . Which IS ok if your actually looking for that level of animalistic ferocity but NOT okay if your in a hyper sensitive, in need of sensuous arousing, longentivity orientated kind of sexual experience.

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