Sunday, October 25, 2015

Show Yourself to Me, Xan West's New Anthology

In a very special post today, I’m happy to say I was very privileged to be asked to be a part of the blog book tour for Xan West’s new anthology “Show Yourself to Me”, a wonderful collection of edgy, queer BDSM erotica.

In Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica, Xan West introduces us to pretty boys and nervous boys, vulnerable tops and dominant sadists, good girls and fierce girls and scared little girls, mean Daddies and loving Daddies and Daddies that are terrifying in delicious ways. Submissive queers go to alleys to suck cock, get bent over the bathroom sink by a handsome stranger, choose to face their fears, have their Daddy orchestrate a gang bang in the park, and get their dream gender-play scene—tied to a sling in an accessible dungeon. Dominants find hope and take risks, fall hard and push edges, get fucked and devour the fear and tears that their sadist hearts desire. Within these 24 stories, you will meet queers who build community together, who are careful about how they play with power, who care deeply about consent. You will meet trans and genderqueer folks who are hot for each other, who mentor each other, who do the kind of gender play that is only possible with other trans and genderqueer folks. This is Show Yourself to Me. Get ready for a very wild ride.

I was very excited to read this anthology.  Goodness knows good porn is always worth the time, but good queer porn that bravely faces trauma and healing is worth very special attention.

The first sign that Show Yourself to Me is a special collection is the content warning section at the beginning of the book.  For those of us who have traumatic histories, for those with dark tastes, for those who simply like to have an idea of what they’re walking into, content warnings are the best gift media can give us.  You can skip the things you don’t want to see, or seek out what will tickle the darkness within you.

This gentleness with the reader isn’t just a nod towards responsible authorship, it’s actually a core part of the anthology as a whole.  Negotiation and consent is shown explicitly and regularly between all characters, trauma and sociological pressures are addressed and held carefully, perspectives change during stories to show us that all characters are getting what they want and aren’t being pushed too far (if only we could have such perception shifts in reality, how much easier would our kink be!).

Show Yourself to Me isn’t a book to sit and read cover to cover, in my opinion - it’s best kept on your bedside table, to read a story every now and then when you’re hot and horny and want some release.  The stories do all mostly consist of similar themes and kinks - rough body play, knife play, boots, canes and tears - with very hot and demanding sex, with characters spilling delightfully dirty talk from their lips.

But by far the biggest kink in this book is vulnerability.  Everyone’s - not just the bottoms and submissives, but the tops and dominants too.  This is a collection of stories about being lucky enough to get what you want, and just how intense and scary and wonderful that can be.

This emphasis on vulnerability and risk taking for a chance at fulfillment means that the overall tone of these stories reminds me exactly of why we do kinky shit in the first place.  We come to it because it’s exciting and it feels good, we come to it with fantasies and desires that we don’t know if we’ll be able to actually partake in, but we want to try anyway.  These stories remind me of what kink is supposed to feel like - ecstatic and a little bit scary.

It almost hurts to read, sometimes - the longing in my chest for experiences that are all too rare and fleeting flares up in response to what lies in these pages.  

Show Yourself to Me is a book filled with characters of all races, genders, shapes and sizes, and abilities.  In a world where catching even a glimpse of real life in media in regards to diversity is like a bigfoot sighting, this collection of stories is sharp relief.  The queers of your real experiences and the queers of your dreams meet up in these stories.

With so much wonderful queerness, I do confess I would have liked to see a few more dominant bottoms and/or submissive tops - off the top of my head I only remember one dominant getting fucked in this book, but it’s possible I’m forgetting a couple.  There’s a definite dichotomy in the kink scene of the idea that topping is intrinsically linked to dominance and bottoming is intrinsically linked to submission, and it’s just not the case at all.  There are no innately dominant or submissive activities - it’s how you do them that counts.

My favourite stories in Show Yourself to Me are the ones about group scenes. There’s just something extra special about group scenes in my experience, they raise the energy and atmosphere to such incredible heights.  The stories do this experience justice - particularly “Compersion”, which is absolutely my favourite story in the book.  “Compersion”, more than any of the other stories, made me feel like I was in the room while it was happening - perhaps it was the heavy focus on voyeurism and exhibitionism in it that lent itself well to that feeling.  Regardless: fucking hot.

It’s a precious and rare thing to find porn that so carefully and explicitly balances the darkness within us with the responsibility to look after each other while we chase our fix.  Most porn needs to be consumed with the firm understanding of it being a fantasy, being unrealistic.  But Show Yourself to Me reminds us that if we’re careful, and if we’re brave, we can have what we want.

You can buy Show Yourself to Me via Go Deeper Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.  I very much encourage you to do so.  :)

You can learn more about the author, Xan West, at Xan’s website.

If you’d like to check out the other stops along the book tour, here’s the itinerary:
October 1: Xan West October 2: Go Deeper Press October 3: Heather Elizabeth October 4: Sinclair Sexsmith October 5: Hermia Swann October 6: Dilo Keith and Cecilia Tan October 7: Kinky Brits October 8: Stella Harris October 9: F. Leonora Solomon October 10: Tasha Harrison October 11: Benji Bright October 12: Tamsin Flowers and Karida October 13: Cassandra Perry October 14: Peep Scoop and Radical Access Mapping Project October 15: Sugar Cunt October 16: Emily Byrne October 17: Oleander Plume October 18: K. A. Smith October 19: Giselle Renarde October 20: Butchtastic Kyle October 21: Lisabet Sarai October 22: Syrens October 23: Anna Sky October 24: Jade A. Waters October 25: Ashley Young and Erin Kyan (that's me!) October 26: Rebekah Weatherspoon October 27: Malin James October 28: BD Swain and Jillian Boyd October 29: Kaleigh Trace October 30: Kiki DeLovely October 31: Xan West and Annabeth Leong

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