you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t gauge the freak of a lover
I know, I know. A Reader’s Guide for erotica? Contemporary erotica gets a bad rap for being all bang and no brain (pun). I don’t understand that perspective at all. The first erotica I ever read was Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus. When it comes to having high expectations for smut, mine rank in the realm of sublimely scholarly. Well, OK, not all the time, but lots.
For me the distinction between pr0n and erotica is that erotica engages my mind, not just my bits. It piques my imagination and inspires me artistically, sensually, and sexually. For that reason I strive to bring a little art and decidedly more conflict to the mix. I’m not an HEA kind of reader or writer, not because I want my characters to suffer, but because I don’t find such endings compelling. Who expects their fiction to be real, you ask? Well, a lot of people likely don’t. But all readers want to marinate in the tension between the fantasy they think they want for beloved characters and the stilted reality of them actually getting it. Somewhere in that raw little gap lies secret hidden truth, as well as the deeper message of Gigolo Seduction. Background
- I was entreated to write this piece after— you guessed it—watching an episode of Showtimes’s Gigolos. The sex trade is feminized and charged with all sorts of stereotypes about women being drug addicts, poverty-stricken, sexually depraved. However, the characterization of male sex workers is virtually free of such dispersions. If anything it’s presented as a party all the time. Based on the show’s limited view of the lifestyle, the men juggled their own interesting issues. Intrigued by what the real lives and emotional needs of such men may be, Gigolo Seduction was born.
- As with prostitution, we culturally demonize BDSM in any form, insisting that people who wish to be hurt are mentally ill, emotionally unstable, and/or have some character flaw. By the same token, we often can’t envision the mind that can dutifully apply pain to one who craves it. As a result of those misunderstandings, the lifestyle usually is characterized as being one glorifying rape or other unrelenting subjugation of women while men hold absolute authority, when nothing could be further from such. The bottom line is you never know what your co-worker is getting up to, your siblings, or the guy next to you in the grocery line. As they say, you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t gauge the freak of a lover. Well, until you learn firsthand. After that it’s not kinky anymore.
- More subtle in Gigolo Seduction is the theme of cougar romance. When I first heard the word ‘cougar’ in this use, I thought, “Older women who date younger men are cougars. Older men who date younger women are men. WTF?” Such is the power disparity in age-defined romances. The distinctions made for older women in relationships with younger men left me curious about power and how we perceive who has it. The perception of power is a key ingredient in understanding both characters in Gigolo Seduction, and how they respond to each other.
- I’m a sucker for the etymology of names, and I research the name of every character. The main characters are Asif and Cass. Asif means “forgiveness” in Arabic. Also, the name is a play on “as if,” in the modern vernacular of creating distance from something without taking ownership of the situation or your reaction to it, as in:
“Do you want to help me mow the lawn?” “As if.”
The sentiment of acknowledging without really participating wholly describes Gigolo Seduction’s, Asif. Cassiopeia, of Greek/Latin origin, has several possible meanings—”cassia juice;” the Ethiopian queen (wife of Cephus, mother of Andromeda), and “she whose words excel.”
- A silent character in Gigolo Seduction is the fresco and the multi-dimensional life Cass creates around it. Pigments laid into wet plaster, frescoes are the oldest painting style, as they have stood the test of time more than any other art form. The “Mother of all Art,” I love them and have been dying for a chance to work them into a project.
- In the story a cartoon is mentioned. The cartoon is paper rendering of the fresco used as the guideline for transferring the design onto the wet plaster.
- From the cartoon, the general image is sketched—or pounced—onto the plaster. Discussion Questions
- What characteristics give away Cass’ sexual approach in her first meeting with Asif?
- What early identifiable aspects of Asif’s character reveal a desire to change?
- What does cass’ shoulder strap foreshadow?
- How does Asif’s perception of power and his attraction to wielding it change when Cass steps things up?
- How do their names reveal their character?
- How does Cass know that Asif won’t taken aback by her behaviour? What becomes evident to Asif when Cass presses him to speak what he really wants?
- What does Cass really want?
- At what point does the contrast in Cass’ demeanor as compared to those of the women Asif is used to begin to reflect in Asif’s behaviour?
- At what point does Cass realize she has Asif?
- How is Asif’s narration changed by the story’s end?
- What is Asif forbidden with Cass?
- What event marks the climax of their encounter?
- What is the significance of the indoor jungle? How does it complement Cass while foreshadowing change for Asif?
- Indeed, who is seducing whom?
Copyright © 2012 by Fierce Dolan. All rights reserved. Permission granted to print this page of the Gigolo Seduction Reader’s Guide for personal use only.