No, the other cheeks. Turn your head. That one.
I love books that make me laugh. Kinky books are no different. You might imagine, given my Delusions of Literature, that I would be in favour of deeply serious, meaningful works of erotica – kink as if written by Jean-Paul Sartre. But no.
Okay, I was being ironic there, but I just had a look at the BDSM Theory group in Fetlife (which is NOT a group I frequent). Lo and behold, top of the page, there’s a post about Sartre! His idea that we are “condemned to freedom” is being used to argue against those engaging in consensual nonconsent relationships. Obviously I’m incapable of being nearly as funny as a philosophy major.
I love serious themes mixed with humour. Lightness. Irony. Self-deprecating wit. I won’t say I can’t enjoy totally serious books, but they’re not the ones I return to.
Oddly, as a child I took myself far too seriously, a predilection only intensified by teenaged angst. My sense of humour – at least of the self-deprecating sort – required maturity to develop. But it seems to be pretty intrinsic to me now. At least, I find all sorts of situations funny that don't seem to raise a smile for anyone else.
Humour comes up here and there in bdsm erotica. Jay Lygon’s Chaos Magic is hilarious when the quirky gods get into the action (the God of Traffic is my favourite). Incidentally, the book is also hard m/m bdsm and very hot. Molly Weatherfield’s Carrie doesn’t fail to capture the intensity of the moment, but she also provides the perspective of an ironic, amused and analytical mind. Morgan Hawke’s characters banter more or less constantly as they bite and fuck; not exactly high or subtle humour but at least they have some.
How can a character be human and engaging without laughter, without some perspective on themselves and their world? One-track doms, unreflecting subs – god, how dull can you get?
A couple of reviewers describes As She’s Told as being “a serious book about bdsm.” Which is true. It does, however, have its moments. I amused myself with this bit, when Anders and his brother Svend both play with Maia:
“The two brothers had unquestionably a long shared history with construction toys. They fell instantly into a lively collaboration, and I was posed, arranged and manipulated into one weird position after another. Although Anders naturally did a lot of directing, Svend soon had his own ideas. I began to feel like a kids’ action figure after the make-believe runs out and the imagination turns to how wide those plastic legs will go.”
There are playful, albeit deeply kinky interactions involving hide-and-seek, Halloween, and slave-as-Christmas-decoration (the excerpt is here if you’re curious). Those are actually the parts I had the most fun writing.
On the other hand, I’ve seen fatally jokey bdsm novels in which the action is described with a comic air by characters that are no more than paper-thin (G.C. Scott comes to mind). Lightness with no substance is nothing but candy floss. There has to be something serious going on to be light about.
Now, our beloved Annabel Joseph is irresistibly funny in online conversation. I’ve been pleading with her to bring more of this humour into her work. Romantic bdsm comedy could work, I just know it! Help me persuade her.
What do you think? Does humour belong in your bdsm world? Have you got some favourite bits to share?