The theme of Ageless Erotica has a special appeal for me, and the Table of Contents has a high percentage of writers I’ve long admired, so I had high expectations. At the same time, I felt some trepidation as to its general appeal. When Joan Price starts her introduction with “Older folks still enjoy sex—boy do they!” my first reaction was, “Of course! Why would anyone doubt that?” But my next thought, which I’ll bet most of us share if only subconsciously, was, “But, well, how old? Do many people—okay, do I—really want to read erotica about them?” Then I read a few lines further to discover that she’s talking about “erotica by, for, and about women and men ages fifty to eighty-plus.”
FIFTY? Fifty isn’t old! But then I remembered doing a reading of Best Lesbian Erotica in NYC some years ago, and opening my turn by saying that I was there to prove that there’s life after fifty. I certainly knew then that some people, maybe even most people, do think of fifty as old. It’s a truth not generally acknowledged that our perception as to what constitutes old age keeps changing as we get older, always hovering some distance beyond wherever we are now. For that matter, our perception of what constitutes sex may undergo a certain degree of adjustment. But age brings experience, and no lack of imagination. Where there’s a will there are many creative ways, and yes, the will lives on, as intensely for the eighty-pluses as for those young fifty-ish whippersnappers.
I’m glad to report that the work in Ageless Erotica displays a lively variety that rings all the chimes you’d enjoy in any good assortment of erotica, as well as playing some new, ingenious, and ultra-seductive tunes. As with any anthology, some stories appeal more to me than others, and the order in which they appear leads me to think that the editor shares my taste, front-loading the book with some of the real standouts. The middle part, with several exceptions, has several perfectly okay pieces that just don’t have as much of the spark and flow of really good writing. Some of them lean more toward the informative than the seductive, telling more than they show, and after a while there gets to be some inevitable repetition. Toward the end, though, as a good editor should, Price gives us more of the beautifully crafted work that could appear in some of the best anthologies in the genre without being limited to the “ageless” theme, as, indeed, several of them have.
Erobintica leads off with “To Bed”, a sweet and poignant story of love between long-term married lovers that sets a high standard for the similar stories to come.
Dale Chase’s “Dolores Park” gives us a change of pace, where two aging gay men in San Francisco, after lives spent in the atmosphere of the too-prevalent focus on youth and fitness, share a bench by chance in the park and watch the buff boys go by. It begins with; “Nice butt,” says my bench companion, and ends, after the two have found something much deeper together, and are relaxing at peace with each other, with; Then I slide a hand onto his bottom. ‘Nice butt,’ I say. I do love well-rounded story arcs!
If you’re thinking of adding a new fetish to your sex play, Kate Dominic’s “Hand Jobs” may inspire you, unless you’re already an old hand at this one. A woman with arthritic fingers that always feel cold decides to start us both on track for a total glove fetish, which turns out to be a tactile treat and a thoroughly arousing success.
Doug Harrison’s “Smooth and Slippery” gives us a sympathetic and totally frank picture of how an aging man with age’s usual drawbacks maintains his own confidence and his much younger lover’s devotion, knowing the value of experience and expertise. He also broadened my education with detailed instructions on the use of a dick-pump, something of which I’d been only vaguely aware.
Tzaurah Litzky’s “Tony Tempo” is deeply touching, with perhaps the most memorable character of all, who says, I never thought I’d end up like this, in the Crescendo Home for Aged and Indigent Musicians—I, Tony Tempo, once known as the trumpet king of swing. I’m heading towards that last command performance. But he and his trumpet do still have at least one more command performance, thanks to a night nurse who’s old enough to remember when he was famous, and appreciates the man he still is.
There are too many more stories worth mentioning for me to go into as much detail as I’d like to. There’s fine work by Donna George Storey, Bill Noble, DL King (as soon as I saw her title, “Mr. Smith, Ms Jones Will See You Now”, I knew we’d be treated to one very well-seasoned dominatrix), Evvy Lynn (a jaguar of a lover—yum!), Cheyenne Blue, Rae Padilla Francoeur, Johnny Dragona, Erica Manfred (who won my heart with her My answer was a resounding yes, yes, yes, yes. A Molly Bloom of a yes--it’s a James Joyce thing--and Sue Katz. If I didn’t have a deadline I’d happily expound on any of these at length. In fact, as I scan the table of contents again and recall something of each story, I realize that any piece in this book could easily be someone’s favorite, or even mine, if I happened to be in the right mood at the right time.