In response to the current topic of erotic stories versus erotic art.

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Title: In response to the current topic of erotic stories versus erotic art.
Creator: Gayle F
Date(s): April 22, 1994
Medium: online
External Links:
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In response to the current topic of erotic stories versus erotic art. is a 1994 essay by Gayle F.

It was part of her first post to Virgule-L, a private mailing list. It is excerpted with permission here on Fanlore.

Some Topics Discussed


In response to the current topic of erotic stories versus erotic art. I am, not surprisingly, a fan of both, if both are well done. To me, a good slash drawing would capture an emotional mood, and not just be a depiction of body parts. While I often see erotic photos or paintings that are not slash that I find erotic because of the sculptural quality of the pose or the beauty of the skin tones, even though I can't see the faces of the people, I much prefer to see the faces, the expressions of the slash couples, and would find the same beautiful pose far less erotic in a slash context. There are a lot of poses from gay mags that I never used for my own slash art because of this. But as an artist, I've also learned that if you are working from a particular figure in a photo that it can only be altered a little from it's actual form to fit the character that you wish it to be, and it's hard to find both a pose you like combined with a body type that is believably the character that you want to draw!

I agree with [T S] about the idealization of the bodies. While I don't want to see a unbelievably perfect body on a character that I like, I see nothing wrong with trying to draw them at their best. Most of the actors looked their best at their slimmest, and I generally picture the characters bodies at the actors best, though I will follow the aging of their faces more accurately. Kirk, Sonny Crockett, and Vinnie, to name a few, all looked best at their most slender. In the case of Blake's 7, I certainly think that Blake and Avon are in better shape than Gareth Thomas and Paul Darrow. Cally and Dayna are making sure that they stay in shape. Although I picture Spock with a similar body to Leonard Nimoy's, I imagine him with far better muscle tone and more grace in movement. Leonard Nimoy had very graceful gestures, but didn't move all that well - how many Spock fans have a Spock that runs like Nimoy?

With few exceptions, like Avon, who is a clothes horse, I don't find what the characters wear all that sexy. I'd rather see either an explicit nude, or a fantasy AU (or combo). I do like good portraits, that convey a lot of emotion and/or character. I also will sometimes build a fantasy based on an intriguing piece of art. Suzie Lovett often does wonderfully evocative work that stirs the imagination.

[T S] and I were talking, and agreed that in a badly written story, there are still usually bits and pieces that the reader could carry off and transform to their liking. But a badly done piece of art is right there in your face, not looking like the characters. It's just a matter of degree, however, as the more poorly written a story is, the more difficult I find it to visualize the characters as they appear on screen. I tend to see them from a greater and greater distance and more nebulously. In a good story, I am closer to them and they are far more vivid.

So, I like good erotic art, and I also prefer my stories explicit as well. While I certainly appreciate all the skillful building of erotic tension that comes before the characters fall into bed, I definitely feel cheated if the author does not develop the sex scene with the same care. I think the sex scenes can and should continue to investigate the characters emotionally. Whether or not there is an ongoing tension in the erotic scene would depend entirely on what the circumstances are. A first time story, no matter how sweet, still has the "How are they going to deal with this?" question to supply tension.

[A T] felt that the sizzle of love denied was more potent than that of love consummated (I really HATE the stories where they NEVER get together). I don't agree with that myself - but what about the sizzle of love denied, then consummated, then denied again? The intensity of the consummation only increases the desire. Most of the series slash stories evolve around an ongoing series of conflicts - probably a central one that isn't resolved until the end about one of the characters ability to commit to the other, and whatever other ones keep the plot moving and, hopefully reveal some interesting aspects of the characters as we share their passionate relationship. I agree that Sandy's favorite scenario is a very potent one - hiding the Longing for Love behind a facade of animal lust. Given the different sexual acts, combined with the characters attitudes toward what is happening, there are many, many possible "first times" - the first time they do some specific thing can become a new first time when they know that they love each other, or when one character has done it for the other, but not vice versa. And there are so many possible different moods for the characters to express in bed. When I got into K/S, I never expected to branch off into other fandoms, but one of the fun things about it has been to discover how differently the different characters would make love. On the other hand, I admit that it's damn hard to find new ways to describe the same acts and emotions - there just aren't enough words!

But I can always find a few things new and different to do, just because the characters are new and different, and relate to each other differently than the other slash couples. Or my response to what they do will be different.