Sunday, August 18, 2013

Eroticism of the Rope; or, 50 Shades of Cowpokes

I was reading through my semi-completed novel today and two things struck me.  First, it’s not nearly as bad as I remember.  There are some really good bits in there.  I told Mrs. Slap today that between the campfire sex scene and the gunfight at the dam I wasn’t sure which was my favorite chapter.  On the same note I’m struggling to figure out what publisher would pick it up.  It really is cowpoke on cowpoke, which fits a lot of the stuff published by women’s erotica e-publishers, but it’s got a couple of gunfights and a scene that is a little more twisted than the typical erotic romance publishers put out.  Maybe a publisher for gay men?  Very limiting market, though.  If there is still a market for Laurel K Hamilton, whose books have descended to wall to wall fucking and gore, then there may be a place for me.

The other thing that struck me was one exchange between the two main characters after one of the fights:

“May I ask why, if you carry a pistol on your belt and a Winchester in a saddle sheath, did you go at Big Mo with a lasso?”

“Not really sure,” Johnny said, scratching his head.  “It’s a pretty rare occasion that I actually ever draw a gun, but I use the lasso all the time.  Just was natural, I reckon.  Good thing, too.  I don’t want any more blood than necessary between our brands.”

“So you are good with a rope, too, Sir Cowboy?” said Antonio, moving his eyes across Johnny’s form.  “My imagination runs wild.”

“Ease up, there, buckaroo.  We’ve got miles to go and a judge to meet.”

I had a group of friends in college that were largely obsessed with bondage, so much so that when I got out of college the idea that people didn’t just sit around and discuss the advantages of silk scarves vs nylon cord or the best time to take off the blindfold was kind of weird.  None of them could afford all the crazy gear, but one dorm mate made special trips to the local K-Mart with his girlfriend to see which cutting boards made the best paddles.  Everyone I knew read Anne Rice’s The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. 

The world of BDSM, with all of its whips, ropes, and leather chaps, looks surprisingly like a western.  For the most part you just have to trade the shiny black leather for worn brown, swap the zipper mask for a cowboy hat, and move the scene from the abandoned Berlin factory to a Colorado ghost town. 

A couple of years ago an adult film studio made a film from Zane Grey’s To The Last Man.  The studio, Raging Stallion (how awesome is that name?), specializes in exceptionally manly men with muscles and beards doing exceptionally manly things with other exceptionally manly men.  Alas, I have not seen this film, but I have read about a controversial scene where a cowboy is tied up and sexually assaulted by two gunhands riding for another brand.  There are some interesting chat board discussions that focus just one this scene; some think it is disgusting, but just as many think it’s the hottest scene in the movie.

Despite their occasional similarities, this gets to the difference between traditional BDSM literature and what you find in Westerns.  BDSM is a safe place in fiction.  We can feel the anxiety of the bottom while knowing that, ultimately, they will come away relatively unscathed.  Behind every red bottom spanking there is an open palm of love, so they say.  In Western fiction, the world is harsher, without guarantees of safety. 

Take Lonesome Dove, for example.  Early on Lorena, the town prostitute / main love interest for several characters, is kidnapped by an Indian outlaw, Blue Duck.  Sounds like the start of some kind of erotic bondage romance?  Anyone familiar with Lonesome Dove knows that part of the story is neither romantic nor erotic.

Not fun

With its whips, chaps, ropes, and masks, there’s a lot of room for kink in westerns.  Just don’t always expect that warm, fuzzy, “he tied me up because he loves me” feeling.
(Note about the title- in my 20’s I read all of the classics of erotic bondage- Story of O, 9 ½ Weeks, Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, etc.  By the time the 50 Shades phenomena hit I’d had my fill.  50 Shades of Yoga, though, now that’s fun.)

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