Liberation

Constant Reader is no doubt aware–or may not be, who knows–that I’ve always had a love for wrestling, particularly in professional wrestling. I first became a published writing of fiction with two wrestling stories, “The Wrestling Match” in Men for All Seasons, an anthology of erotic (porn) sport stories, and “Headlock”, published in Men magazine. Yes, I started my career writing gay porn, you got a problem with that?

I published quite a few more over the years, eventually collecting them into a book titled Wanna Wrestle?–which was the first time in my publishing career I was fucked over by a publisher, but that’s a story for a different time–and eventually, as “Greg Herren writing as Cage Thunder”, published an erotic novel about a gay professional wrestler called Going Down for the Count. Alas, by the time that book came out, the market for gay erotica had completely dried up (thanks, free Internet porn!) and so it didn’t sell as well as it might have, say about ten years earlier. I’ve long been toying with a wrestling noir novel, Muscles, which I was hoping to write last year (ha ha ha ha ha) and might eventually get around to; the story has taken firmer shape in my head over the last few years.

So, I was very interested when I saw on Twitter that Hector Acosta (an Edgar finalist for Best Short Story) had recently put up a wrestling short story on the Mystery Tribune website, “Besos”:

Fabi el Fantastico beat La Sombra Blanca with a kiss, and the crowd hated him for it.

Cries of maricon littered ringside, landing next to crumpled wads of paper and empty cups. Grabbing his pink feathered boa, Fabi climbed the turnbuckle and soaked it all in. Lips painted rojo vivo turned up in a smile even as the crowd pelted him with what he told himself was warm beer, the arena voicing their unhappiness at seeing some exotico beat their idolo in the ring.

Fabi el Fantastico beat La Sombra Blanca with a kiss, and the crowd hated him for it.

Cries of maricon littered ringside, landing next to crumpled wads of paper and empty cups. Grabbing his pink feathered boa, Fabi climbed the turnbuckle and soaked it all in. Lips painted rojo vivo turned up in a smile even as the crowd pelted him with what he told himself was warm beer, the arena voicing their unhappiness at seeing some exotico beat their idolo in the ring.

Their boos grew as Gloria Gaynor’s defiant voice escaped out of the speakers, Fabi swaying to the tune. A big reason the gimmick worked as well as it did was because of his willingness to go the extra mile.

It’s why he came out to this song, feathered boa suggestively dangling from the front of his wrestling trunks, and the reason his finishing move revolved around locking lips with his opponent, which per wrestling logic, confused them to the point he could roll them up for an easy three count.

Voice cracking, Fabi sang about surviving and blew more besos, his sweat mixing with the heavy mascara running down his face. He was preparing to step down when the beer bottle sailed out of the crowd and struck him on the forehead.

It’s a great story; short, sweet and to the point–with a couple of twists added to the story for good measure; proof you don’t need a lot of room or a lot of words to tell a great story full of surprises for the reader. He really captures the feel of an arena filled with wrestling fans; the sounds and feels and emotions of the crowd, and the characters are all remarkably well developed. Highly recommended.

You can read the rest of the story, here, at Mystery Tribune.

Fooled Around and Fell in Love

It’s Sunday morning in New Orleans and I am already awake and swilling coffee. It looks kind of gray outside my windows this morning. The sun is trying to come out from behind the cloud cover so I don’t think today is going to be one of those rainy days like yesterday, but it’s kind of nice. The humidity has returned–Friday was miserable–and it’s only May. The true dog days are yet to be upon us. Heavy heaving sigh.

Yesterday I was moving stuff around, trying to lessen the appearance of clutter as well as to figure out where to put all the extra paper towels (thank you, Costco!) and put the things I was moving into places that I would remember when I discovered a copy of the first anthology I ever published a short story in, released way back in August of 2000: Men for All Seasons, edited by Jesse Grant, and from Alyson Books. It’s an erotic story, of course; my first two published short stories were erotica an d I don’t think I published a story that wasn’t erotica until “Smalltown Boy” in Rebel Yell 2, several years later. It was also interesting to look at the table of contents and see that my original by-line for fiction was Gregory Herren, not Greg; I do think I switched to Greg for the second story that was published that same month in Men magazine. Going through the list of contributors, I was struck by how many of those writers are no longer writing–or if they are, they aren’t using their “erotica” pen names anymore.

Back in the day, if you worked really hard you could make a lovely little income writing gay erotica. I was paid $300 for the story in Men; I published a second story there a few years later for the same pay. I think I got $75 for the story in Men for All Seasons. I started writing erotica primarily as a lark; Alyson’s publicist advised me to start writing short fiction for their anthologies, primarily for the publication credits and the money, as well as to make my name better known and more familiar to the Alyson editorial staff. He was right; Alyson wound up buying my first novel Murder in the Rue Dauphine, and I stayed with Alyson for the first five Chanse books, as well as several erotica anthologies I edited for them. I always called myself “an accidental pornographer” because it wasn’t anything I’d ever wanted to do, but the money was nice and the books actually did very well. But now…now there’s no market for actual gay erotica. Anthologies don’t sell and so no one is doing them anymore; the only market for erotica is novels, and reality is most of those are written now by straight women for other straight women, and that’s not the kind of erotica I write. (This is not to say straight women cannot write gay erotica geared toward gay men; in my editing days I worked with a lot of straight women who wrote horny, nasty, raunchy men on men erotica and you’d never know the author was a woman.) But the women who like to read the m/m stuff don’t like the erotica I write, and so I don’t really write it anymore.  I don’t miss it, to be honest–there are only so many ways to write about male on male sex originally, only so many words–and I even at one time wrote a column for the Erotica Writers Association on how to write good porn. I think my favorite column title was “Sometimes A Cock Is Just A Cock.”

I didn’t do much writing yesterday–actual physical writing–but I did do a lot of thinking and rehashing and going over my notes for the WIP. I doubt very seriously I will get as caught up as I had wanted to get this weekend, but you know, that’s just how it goes sometimes. Today is May the 5th, and I am going to dig into Chapter Six again in just a moment, with the hopes that Chapters 7, 8 and 9 will fall into place as I go…and then maybe I can start with Chapter Ten. I got so far off track with this WIP that I don’t really remember the story I was trying to tell in the first place, which is terrible–my memory, once so incredibly dependable I didn’t really need to take notes, in now completely unreliable. Part of the reason I decided to go back and redo the chapters I’d already written was to get myself immersed back into the story, get a feel for the characters, and maybe find the flaws and mistakes and holes in the plot. I’ve managed some of that, of course, which makes it all worthwhile, and I did find the outline for Chapter Ten in my journal (which I’d completely forgotten I’d written down), so yes, not actually spending time at the keyboard yesterday while actually simply reviewing notes and rereading things was a pretty smart thing to do.

Going through the current and previous journal also reminded me of some short story ideas I’d had that had somehow slipped, unbidden, from my memory. I also managed to page through The Gulf by Jack E. Davis yesterday, and I believe it will be a rich source of ideas and materials for me to write another book–my spring break murders novel, Where the Boys Die–and many others. Nonfiction is a great source of material for fiction, in case you were wondering.

And now I am going to sign off with this entry as I have another, Game of Thrones specific one I started yesterday that I would like to finish this morning.

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The Glamorous Life

So… I spent three hours in the storage unit yesterday.

The case of Mardi Gras Mambo is still missing.

I did find a few copies, and a stack of ARC’s, but where the hell could the rest of them be? They aren’t in the attic, they aren’t in any of the boxes I use for tables (don’t judge me) in the living room…mysteries abound. Maybe I need to hire Scotty to find them?

And the storage unit is totally organized now.

So…that box is probably stored somewhere in the Lost Apartment. Paul is leaving to visit his family for a week on Thursday, so it looks like I will spend part of that time he is gone turning the Lost Apartment inside out looking for the box o’books.

Heavy heaving sigh.

But I did some other fun things in the storage unit.

I certainly didn’t think I had any copies remaining of FRATSEX or Full Body Contact, so those were nice to find, and so were some of the other copies of my books. I also have a couple of boxes filled with anthologies I contributed stories to–who knew there were so many? I also found the Spanish translation of my porn, and the German as well. I also found copies of Men for All Seasons, the anthology that I sold my first ever short story to.

And I found the rest of my journals!

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I used to buy those blank books and fill them up with journal entries, as well as writing down ideas, books I wanted to buy, notes to myself, my work schedules, important phone numbers; they literally were my personal assistant as well as my journals. I stopped using blank books right around the time my first novel was published; and of course now I blog instead. Just opening them at random, I am amazed at how many of my entries start with I am so fucking tired.

Apparently, I’ve always been really tired.

Ah, well. It’s weird having my work week start on a Tuesday; I have a long day at the office today which enables me to have a half-day on Thursday, and I always work half-days on Fridays, so I can really ease into the weekend in a lovely, easy way. Yay, weekend!

And on that note, that spice ain’t gonna mine itself.