Rachel Kramer Bussel
The Kiss Me Quick’s Erotica Podcast — And Me
Earlier this month the most exciting thing happened to me. Rose Caraway, The Sexy Librarian, and her husband and business partner, Big Daddy Dayv Caraway came to my home in Half Moon Bay, where I’ve lived with my husband and Sir for nearly thirty years — traveling all the way from their home in Sacramento, where Dayv set up a sound studio in our living room, while Rose interviewed me for The Kiss Me Quick’s Sexy Librarian’ Erotica Podcast!
I can hardly express how honored I feel that my erotic journey begun in the mid-70s — and the sex-positive way I’ve chosen to live my life from then on — is deemed inspirational to others, and a story worthy of being told.
I met Rose and Dayv twelve days after suffering a stroke, when I attended the reading of Best Women’s Erotica , Volume 1. The reading, which took place appropriately enough, at the Good Vibrations sex toy store, on Polk Street in San Francisco , was an amazing experience. I was frankly thrilled to realize I was sharing pages in a book with an incredibly talented, diverse group of female writers, in an outstanding anthology that I have no doubt will make its mark in erotica history.
But the highlight of my experience — aside from sharing a stage with BWE editor, Rachel Kramer Bussel. Jade A. Waters, and my Erotic Reading Circle buddy , Amy Butcher — was meeting fellow writer, Rose Caraway, with whom I felt an instant sense of connection. Although Rachel read my story for me, as the light in the room was too dim for my eyes, I joined the others on stage afterwards for interaction with our audience. I also managed quite nicely by signing copies of our X-rated book with an X placed beside the title of my story, since my left and dominant arm had been weakened by the stroke.
When the signing concluded, my 74 year-old husband who’d attended the reading with me, chatted with Rose and Dayv, expressing that I’d felt I’d earned the privilege of being there that night, and stroke or no stroke wouldn’t have missed the event for the world.
(In my view, the difference between a coward and a hero is the hero is not stopped by fear, and I’m delighted to report I was not.)
I’m as much of a talker as my Sir is a strong, silent type. I shared a bit about my three-decade long erotic relationship with him. The relationship resulted from a personal ad I placed in the late San Francisco Bay Guardian in late 1983, seeking a husband/Dom/life partner all rolled into one — a first date so dynamic it went on all night. At age 71, I’ve had sufficient erotic experience for a small sex-starved country. (My story in BWE, Two Doms For dinner, was real-life inspired, as is much of my erotic writing — a pleasure to experience and write about as well.)
Rose and Dayv expressed genuine interest that I’d written a memoir, now submitted to publishers, titled PERFECT STRANGERS: One Woman’s Journey Through The Swinging Seventies, about being a swinging single mom in an era of unprecedented personal freedom. They also appeared to enjoy our old-time tales of being a BDSM couple back in the 80s, and on into current times. By the time we’d parted company that evening, Sir and I felt we’d encountered a couple who mirrored us in their obvious love and dedication to each other and their chosen lifestyle. We left feeling we’d just made new friends.
I was thrilled when Rose contacted me soon after, requesting an interview for her podcast about my lengthy sexual history. Even more so when she expressed that my erotically adventurous nature had inspirational value to others, too important not to be shared.
So far I am loving my fifteen minutes of fame. It still amazes me how sadly undervalued erotic pleasure is in our culture. Enjoying the pleasure of the flesh has long been considered a traditionally made domain. But in recent years erotic literature written by strong, self-directed women has risen to the forefront, expressing sexual interaction from the female point of view. I want to shout out an enormous thank you to the Caraways. If my erotic adventures serve inspirational purpose and in any way enriches the body of sexual knowledge existing in the world — then Rose and Dayv’s brilliant and insightful documentation of those adventures has equal value as well.
And I ask you; if sexual delights were not meant to be enjoyed by women, what then would be the purposed of our having clits?
How Sexy Is a Stroke?
Best Women’s Erotica, Volume I, Two Doms for Dinner
Truth is way stranger than fiction in my opinion, which is why my writing is mainly memoir based. Five weeks ago I went from a state of excited anticipation at having a story included in the soon to be released anthology shown above — to shock and horror at suffering a mild stroke on January 7th.
Lucky for me I was on the phone with a friend, who said my voice sounded slurry and asked if everything was okay — and that my husband who sat nearby said, “Look at me,” and saw the corner of my mouth droop for a second, before rushing me to the emergency room at Mills Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame, for two days and nights of medical testing reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition.
To say I wasn’t scared as the reality of my situation unfolded before me would have been a grave understatement. One health care professional after the other quizzed me as to the date and year and city we were in, attempting to determine how muddled my mind might be, and assessing the impact of the stroke on my cognitive abilities.
Thankfully the damage appeared to be minimal, although my left arm was affected, rendering my dominant left hand weakened. My mind and ability to speak was left intact — although it would be a while before I could utilize the muscle memory to properly lift an eating utensil to my mouth.
My husband stayed in the room with me on the second night of my stay — having returned home to care for our dogs the prior evening. By then all I wanted was to go home to them myself, but the doctors talked us into staying to do still more tests on the following day. We were running out of patience toward the end of the second day — but were convinced to stay a second night to wait for the results of an MRI, that would reveal an image of the inside of my brain.
That’s when the nightmare began in earnest. My brain scan showed evidence of prior strokes so small I ‘d been unaware of them — which led a well-spoken neurologist to present the possibility that I might have MoyaMoya Disorder. Now while this sounds like something to be ordered in a Japanese restaurant, it actually means puff of smoke, indicative of an almost unheard of brain condition affecting a tiny percentage of the population. These people begin experiencing strokes when young and rarely live to be my age. Because of the possibility of my having late onset MoyaMoya, she urged me to transfer by ambulance to the Stroke Unit of the California Pacific Medial Center, Davies Campus (CPMC), for further testing and observation. My husband and I gazed at each other horror-struck, as based on this information we left Mills Peninsula to be whisked away for three fun-filled days of further testing.
CPMC is located in an drafty old building in San Francisco’s Castro District. Much of the stroke floor had been modernized, but we were shown to a spacious two-room suite with a hospital bed in one room and a couch made up for my husband in the other. On the first night of our stay, he heard me crying and sat up in a chair beside my bed, holding my hand for the entire night.
The next morning we realized that it was January 10th and our 29th wedding anniversary. Upon hearing that, a kindly nurse brought a fold-out bed to our room and placed it beside mine. That night we celebrated our 29th anniversary on the stroke floor of a hospital, toasting each other with glasses of water and gazing out over the Land of Oz — while I congratulated myself that win, lose, or draw, I’d had the balls to pack up my kids and drive to San Francisco after divorcing their father in the mid-1970s– to begin a new life in a magical city where where I could be me and where my Sir and I would meet and embark on our BDSM lifestyle in late 1983.
We were considerably less peppy than on earlier anniversary celebrations — my husband leaning on his cane and I with my disabled hand and arm — but honestly, I doubt we’ve ever loved each other more than we did that night .
To make a long story shorter, brain surgery was suggested, probably in February. I was released from the hospital on blood thinners to return home to our dogs, and my wonderful younger son flew out from his home in Brooklyn to care for our household, and to arrange the details of obtaining second and third opinions from other neurologists. It was twelve days before the scheduled reading of Best Women’s Erotica, at Good Vibrations Polk Street store and stroke or no stroke, I wanted to attend that reading.
After endless debating about if I felt up to it or not, I attended the reading wearing my hottest red and black outfit. A friend helped me with my makeup, making me look as good as possible under the circumstances. She even drew on a pair of elegant eyebrows, which for me to do myself would have required an unimpaired left hand.
Still, I felt too shaky to read my own story. Editor, Rachel Kramer Bussel kindly read it for me, while I sat in the audience beside my Sir. But before beginning, she asked me to state briefly what had inspired it — and I replied proudly that the inspiration for my story, Two Doms For Dinner was a small slice of my wonderful kinky life with my love.
I loved every minute of being a part of that reading.
As a single mom I taught my sons the importance of demonstrating courage under fire. I felt that by attending the reading I was doing just that. I loved being part of the warm, supportive erotica community at Good Vibrations that evening. Since I couldn’t sign my name, I marked each book I was asked to sign with an X on the first page of my story beside my name. I would not have missed it for the world.
I’ve recovered the use of my arm considerably in the three weeks since that evening. I haven’t eaten meat for twenty-five years, and have now eliminated all dairy products from my diet in an attempt to not ingest cholesterol. My wonderful techno-savvy son sent the disc of my brain images to other neurologists. A second opinion, was obtained from Stanford, which disagreed with the first — no MoyaMoya or surgery, with medical maintenance of the constricted artery at the base of my skull — and finally a third and last opinion by the head of neurology from UCSF, concurring that I didn’t have MoyaMoya at all, didn’t need surgery or more than one blood thinner, and agreed that lasting changes in diet and moderate exercise deserved a fair shot.
And now, five weeks later, my son has returned home to his family in time to celebrate Valentine’s Day with his love — and my husband and I are alone in our home once again, gazing into each other’s eyes and looking toward a future that sill involves sex.
At this point I am able to hold an eating utensil properly and am now able to once again write my name This health incident I’ve experienced is a wake-up call for both me and my husband, but in no way does it indicate the end of our sexual life.
I feel in my bones that my left hand and arm will enjoy a full recovery. In the meantime I thank the powers that be that I masturbate with my right hand.
Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1
I’m honored to say, I have a story included in this exciting book! This is an erotic writer’s fantasy come true and I’m living it out, along with some of the finest writers and best editor in the genre. And as a seventy-year-old erotic writer, who published her first erotic piece in 2012, when in my mid-sixties, this is particularly meaningful.
Yes, I am a senior woman. And yes, I am still hot and interested in all things erotic. I am fortunate to have a long-term partner (32 years as of this December 10th) who feels the same way, age and disabilities aside.
Let me offer you a bit of back-story about how I met my husband. We met through an ad I placed in the now defunct, SF Bay Guardian, in late 1983 — in which I presented myself as a “very female woman, 39, with heart and soul and a desire for intimacy, seeking a very male man, with same. Must be 35-45, divorced, gainfully employed, financially solvent, and capable of giving and receiving love. No wimps. No walking wounded. No pessimists. ”
My husband responded to my ad by sending a letter to the Bay Guardian PO Box, and responded with all the right answers. He was one month shy of his 43rd birthday, had been divorced for five years, with grown children who were out on their own. He was gainfully employed and owned a home in the Bay Area. He offered me a “special intimacy” he sensed that I craved — he was an experienced Dominant in the Bay Area BDSM scene, known as SM back then.
His kinky sexual preferences were icing on the cake as far as I was concerned, since I’d realized long before by the nature of my erotic fantasies, that my sexual nature was submissive and clearly not vanilla. During the years of unprecedented sexual freedom following my divorce in the mid-70s, I’d taken more than my share of lovers. The ones that stood out for me were the take-charge men with strong imaginations, who elicited submissive feelings in me — but until then had never found a man I was turned on to enough, and trusted enough, to give myself to.
The story in a nutshell is after exchanging two letters and one compelling phone call, we agreed to meet in a public place near my home in San Francisco. We had not exchanged photos. But I was so taken with his voice and the kind of play he’d described, I’d already decided that if he wasn’t actively insane and didn’t have two heads, I was having sex with him — with all that entailed. The rest is history — and her-story too. From the moment we met we couldn’t stop smiling. Two cups of coffee and an hour of negotiations later, I followed my instincts and went with him and a bag filled with sex toys to San Francisco’s only co-ed bathhouse. We had amazing sex that night, lasting into the small hours of the morning. We have been together ever since.
I think our fiery beginning and long-term lifestyle has served us well. In spite of age and infirmities we continue to express our love passionately. Our relationship, by mutual agreement, has been open from the first. Our choice has been to play with others as a couple, as an extension of our play with each other. Our adventurous natures and choices may not be for everyone, but it works well for us. My story in Best Women’s Erotica, Volume I, Two Doms for Dinner is based on a real life adventure. We hope in our lifetime to have many more.
Please come and hear me read from my story at the Good Vibrations Store on Polk Street, Tuesday, January 19th, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM
Dirty Dates: Erotic Fantasies for Couples
Happy Birthday, Dirty Dates Anthology, and Happy Birthday, Rachel Kramer Bussel!
What a great collection of sizzling hot stories, by amazingly skilled writers. I’m thrilled to announce that my story, The Corset, is included in this book.
Personal standouts for me include:
The Swap, by Jade A. Waters, in which a female submissive switches positions with her Master, to their mutual delight. (I’ve switched positions myself and this rings true for me.)
The World In My Pants, by Valerie Alexander, in which a Dominant Woman gives her misbehaving submissive man what he deserves.
Baby Steps, by Justine Elyot, a hot and lighthearted story of kinky new parents who ease their way back into BDSM play.
Needles, by Kathleen Tudor; A story about needle-play that’s not my cup of tea, but is none-the-less, hot, hot, hot!
Admitting It Is The First Step, by Rachel Kramer Bussel, a whimsical view of a submissive woman, who owns and accepts her kinky nature, to her delight and that of her Top.
Read all about Dirty Dates here!
Social Media and Me
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not one to easily warm to technology in any form. And, as an adult person in the 60s and 70s — when privacy not only still existed, but was held in high regard, I learned to eye social media with suspicion and mistrust. My initial responses to suggestions from others that a Twitter account could positively impact my career as a writer was to express my complete lack of knowledge of what it was about. But, in spite of my resistance, I finally set up a Twitter account a few months ago, and have been tweeting my little heart out since. I still can’t claim any significant understanding of how it works, but I dove in headfirst anyway, which has always been my style.
One thing I liked right away about this form of social media is that at 140 character maximum per tweet, it cuts straight to the chase with no chance of rambling. It was, according to Wikipedia, initially defined by Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsy, as a “short burst of inconsequential information.” Okay, I got that, but still the whole concepts pretty well mystified me.
What really led me to an at least minimal understanding was the way my friend and fellow writer, Amy Butcher, explained it to me. “Tweeting is like standing on a street corner shouting,” she said, “And anyone who hears you may respond if they wish. Well, that makes sense, I thought, and the next day I sent out the message, “I’m standing on a street corner shouting. Can anyone hear me?” Amy heard me and responded by not only favoring my tweet, but following my account, as well, which I took to be expressions of approval. She also sent me an email with suggestions of Twitter accounts I might enjoy following. Inspired, I tweeted out a compliment about an anthology edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, a sex writer, editor, and blogger that I’ve long admired. She responded by favoring and re-tweeting my tweet, and following my account, as well. Cool.
After that the thing began to snowball. I began getting all sorts of suggestions about who to follow, with more to come each time I began following a new account. Consequently, I’m now following a rapidly growing number of writer, editors, and publishers I admire, and am pleased to report that many of them are now following me. Hopefully they’re also logging on to my website and drinking in the word on this blog.
Yea! What a woman. First I conquered email, then forged ahead, not only to a website, but a blog as well. And now, onward to Twitter and who knows what else. I’m sure I’ll find out as I skip down the Yellow Brick Road of self-promotion, on my way to transforming my coming-of-age story, PERFECT STRANGERS: One Woman’s Journey Through The Swinging Seventies, into a published book.
My Twitter name is DorothyFreed1