Friday, December 21, 2007

Why 69?

by Anne Tourney

Felicien Rops: Soixante-Neuf

'Tis the season for giving and receiving -- preferably at the same time, with one or more people -- so why not try 69 with your lover/spouse/best friend/UPS guy? If you need a refresher on how to accomplish this classic position, check out this bit of immortal prose that I wrote in a fit of purple:

With the grace of ice skaters we reversed ourselves on cue, our moist bodies gliding effortlessly into a perfect 69. His cock found my mouth as if by instinct; my lower lips locked magnetically onto his roving tongue. His throbbing shaft filled my throat; my juices overflowed onto his chin. We rocked in unison, driven by the urgency of our hunger and the flux of pleasure that pulled us together. In a knot of intertwined passion, we licked and sucked and caressed each other until we both lost consciousness of our material selves and dissolved into a fog of ecstasy that transcended skin and muscle and bone . . . .

I always feel like I've hit the erotica writer's jackpot whenever I'm able to use the phrases "throbbing shaft" and "fog of ecstasy" in the same paragraph. But seriously, when I find myself writing this type of crapola (which I do, more often than I'd rather admit), I usually don't make it to the mutual climax before I have to fling my shovel across the room. Then I hike up my thigh-high boots, and wade through the bullshit to the kitchen, where I pour myself another cup of coffee and brood over the yawning gap between erotic fiction and experience. Those dazzling 69 performances happen far more often on my computer screen than they do in any bed I've occupied.

You know what I need, as an erotica writer? I need a Mystery Lover X, an anonymous, agreeable, highly flexible sex partner to try various positions, acts, and toys with me, so that I can write about the more exotic sex acts realistically. I need the X-rated equivalent of those semi-visible dining companions who are always featured in restaurant reviews but receive only passing credit for their insights: X ordered the pad thai, which he found savoury but bland in comparison to my chicken coconut curry, might translate into X enjoyed tonguing my pussy while I lay upside-down on top of him, but found that my own oral skills were lacking in a 69 position, i.e., he kept feeling my teeth.

I'm ashamed to admit that I've written about 69 largely from a second-hand perspective. Few of my lovers seemed inclined to try this back-to-front position, and the few times I'd tried it, I'd found it alternately awkward, embarrassing, and only intermittently arousing. In my mind's eye, I see 69 as a fluid, sensual continuum of bodies, a seamless communion of mouth to pussy to cock, a yin-yang symbol rendered in flesh. In reality, the whole thing reminds me of trying to assemble cheap furniture: Insert shelf B into plank A using widget Z to adjust screw Y. Torso length has to match up to some degree, so that mouths can reach genitals, and how did the two of us somehow end up with a total of six legs?

There are lots of ways to perform 69, as I discovered from an eye-popping search of internet porn. Some of them seem accessible to moderately flexible people like me, others appear to require an extensive study of yoga and/or a couple of gold medals in gymnastics. Standing 69? Not even Mystery Lover X will try that with me. He doesn't want to throw out his back trying to hoist my rather large carcass into a reverse position, just so he can tongue me upside-down. Mystery Lover X is nothing if not pragmatic. Like me, he tends to prefer to experiment on a nice, firm mattress, in a horizontal position.

There's something about 69 that makes me feel utterly exposed and vulnerable, and not necessarily in a sexy way. Maybe it's the tension between trying to please my partner, and worrying about how I'm responding to his efforts to please me. I'm caught smack in the middle of my two deepest sources of anxiety: trying to relax enough to open up completely to another human being, while giving that person enough pleasure to ensure that he can let go of his own self-awareness (hey, I'm reasonably enlightened, but the Dalai Lama I ain't). The whole point, of course, is that we both reach Mount Ecstasy at precisely the same moment, with our lips melded to each others' genitals.

Part of the problem here, not only in erotic fiction but in sexual experience itself, is the almost fanatic cultural emphasis on sex as a direct route to erotic nirvana. As a writer, a reader, and a lover, I've been guilty of placing a quasi-religious faith in the transformative power of Orgasm. Is this a crime? I don't think so; after all, those glorious spasms are what allows not only for great art, emotional passion, and a heck of a lot of cheesy porn, but the perpetuation of the species. But what I miss in my pursuit of pleasure, beauty, and the ultimate Climax is the gratification of struggling for an ideal.

Lakshmi, Rama, and Vishnu on the wall of a Hindu Temple

Yes, yes, I know. I realize that "the difficulty of struggling for an ideal" sounds about as sexy as working out on a Stairmaster while reading German philosophy. What I'm trying to describe is the intimacy that evolves through the effort to reach for something beautiful with someone you love, or at least like very much. Oh, hell, if someone blows your skirt up, and they have acceptable hygiene, why not invite them to join you in a quest for the metaphysical through the physical? There are reasons for all those ornate positions in the Kama Sutra, you know. They're configurations of the eternal; they represent different letters in an alphabet of sacred desire.

The older I get, the more I realize that sex in reality is profoundly different from the way it plays out in my imagination, not just from a practical, in-the-flesh, oh-shit-that-hurts-like-hell standpoint, but from a psychological perspective. The chords that any given sex act strikes in my psyche are rarely the ones I expect to hear. So what combination of notes does 69 hit in my psyche? For me, it's the flux of giving and receiving; loss of self and loss in self at the same time. I know that sounds ridiculously abstract, but I'd be lying if I told you that I found it instantly exciting to have my hind quarters clamped over a man's face while my mouth is buried in his groin. I confess that I've written about 69 as if it were one ongoing nekkid funfest, but in my personal, undivulged experience, it takes time and patience, and a gradual easing into each others' bodies, to get to the point that it feels easy and fluid and fulfilling.

Even then, 69 just doesn't always work for me. But isn't it lovely when it does? Through some extensive experimentation with my new companion, I found that I prefer to lie on my back on the bottom, with Mystery Lover X upside-down on top of me. MLX himself rated this position as highly satisfactory, though the acrobatics gave him a charley horse at the critical moment.

So tell me . . . what do you think of 69? Favorite positions? Exalted and/or embarrassing experiences? Post pictures!

Photo credits: Felicien Rops, Soixante-Neuf from; Standing 69 from; Ancient Indian 69 from Travel.Hat.Net


Madeline Moore said...

I admit Anne, I'm with you on this one. Maybe because I'm a unitasker, I find doing and getting oral sex simultaneously to be not that great.
I'd rewrite that last sentence but I'm on a countdown to leaving town for the hols.

Also, since VBL (or is it RHBL now?) prefer that we not use words like 'cock' and 'pussy' except in dialogue, 69 can be darn hard to write. Which cheeks? Butt or face? Her pussy lips or the lips on her face? Damn, I don't know exactly what's going on here and I'm writing the thing, what chance is there my readers will get the picture?

I'll be interested to read what the men have to say about this. For some reason I suspect they may like it more than the women. We'll see...

BTW, great pics with your post, Anne.

Jeremy Edwards said...

What an elegant, thoughtful post. And—oh!—the witty bits. (My favorites were the six legs and the German philosophy.)

I don't have anything interesting to say about 69, but I will add my personal data re. one of the general points that you've made so well: The real-life sex that I (enthusiastically) experience is, more often than not, awesome; but it's undeniably different in "feel," for the most part, from the sex I write. I just can't experience things in the kind of psychologically fluid and physically seamless way that they happen on the page (if I'm lucky). There are moments like that—and I save them to incorporate into stories—but, in the real-life version, they're cobbled together in a hodgepodge of mechanical and mental quilt-pieces, not sustained in an unbroken narrative. Hey, erotica is art; and though my sex life is a lot of fun, it's not a work of art.

This is why I'm fond of saying that erotica is even sexier than sex! Even though sex is pretty damn sexy.

Anne Tourney said...

Thanks for your comment on the pics, Madeline -- I had a hard time finding good photos to illustrate this one. Seems they were sharply divided between "classic" and "sleazy". I wanted a nice, meaty man/man shot. (Maybe Kristina, Our Lady of Eternal Visual Erotic Stimulation, could help out here? please?).

Janine Ashbless said...

I laughed so much at this, Anne!

Thoughts on 69: I think the main problem is that if you're on top then he's looking straight at your open asshole and you're wondering "Did I wash properly?" Which is a bit distracting.
Personally I prefer to be underneath too. The view is excellent.

As to the fiction/real life contrasts...
I had a completely new sexual experience the other day (See, life does not stop after 40!) and half my brain was so busy going Record this Janine, so you can write it authentically that Mr Ashbless shouted "Stop that! I know what you're thinking!"

Never have sex with an author.

Olivia Knight said...

I love 69, but I don't think I write it much - the awkwardness of words just gets in the way so much. We need some words besides "labia", and "lips", already always ambiguous, is too confusing in 69. I like "pussy" as a dialogue word, but it feels too colloquial for my prose. For me, describing it is far clumsier than doing it. (Hah! I knew there was an advantage to being a Giant.)

But going down in 69 is very different from going down when you can devote your whole attention to it - and I'm usually terrified that in a moment of crisis I'll bite the man's knob off. That it's never happened so far only means it's stastically more likely to happen the next time. (Yeah. Our maths syllabus didn't cover stats. It shows, I know. And by uni, they assumed we'd already got to grips with that field, so I never did. What's all that bollocks about the 10 black and 10 white stones in a bag anyway? You have to pull out 11 to be sure of getting the colour you want! Why does no-one but me see this?)

Sorry. I digress. I heard a hilarious story about a young bride who blushingly and coyly suggested to her husband that they try "some 96".

Jeremy Edwards said...

I heard a hilarious story about a young bride who blushingly and coyly suggested to her husband that they try "some 96".

And the groom duly trotted out the
Château Lafite Rothschild?

Anonymous said...

I think the whole deal about writing and what actually happens in real life is so interesting. And your points our very true. Climaxing with a climax works so well in fictional sex scenes - in real life things are so much more complicated and interesting.

Personally after a year of sexy with werewolves I am more interested than ever in trying to find ways to write about real sex and sexuality. Fantastical is fun - but I think I'd like a break from that now. Course that might mean using the words pussy and, indeed, cunt in prose. Eek!

Great post. I hope it doesn't get buried this close to Xmas.

Kate Pearce said...

Yes, imo much easier to do in real life than write about, although the 'real dialogue' of "can you move your elbow a tad to the left, out of my eye and ow I've got a cramp in my left calf and jeez don't belch" somehow don't translate well into the high class literature wot I write (snort).
Personally I love the thrill of a 69 just because you are out of control and might just bite something you shouldn't-the power, the power!

Anne Tourney said...

Good point, Kate -- there really is an immense amount of power involved. If Mystery Lover X doesn't work his tongue the right way, I can always apply my teeth in the right way to communicate my displeasure. Worst case scenario: I might get bitchy and "bite his knob off," as Olivia put it.

And writing about 69 does require an exhaustive use of genital vocabulary. That's a whole post in itself. What do you do when you've been hacking this stuff out for 15+ years and you just can't come up with an original way to say "cock"?

Deanna Ashford said...

Great witty post and wonderful pics.

Just Craig said...

Excellent post. I really loved the classic illustrations.

I enjoy sixty-nine in real life. In my opinion, the secret is to relax. However, all this talk about "biting knobs off" does give me a bit of pause. Youch!

I came to the realization that of the many things I have written about, I have never written a sixty-nine scene.

Thanks, Anne, for issuing me a bit of a challenge.

But I think I'll keep the biting down to playful nibbles.


Isabel Kerr said...

How can anyone concentrate on doing when they're being done. I can't, I'm distracted.

I can imagine and write what's going on in each head though and it's like this, her: oh god I can't move, I can't breath, I'm in ecxtasy..him: what IS she thinking?

Felix said...

A 69 is like a simultaneous orgasm, much desired by the jejune but a 'shrug' once one is older and more experienced. The important thing is that we give and get, not the timing or the juxtaposition.
Not only is ones attention divided in a 69 but both the position and view are restricted. To me, whether giving or getting, eye-contact is important. One can do a lot with multiple mirrors but I can't conceive of a safe configuration of reflecting surfaces that would allow a couple to gaze into each others eyes under these circumstances.

kristina lloyd said...

Did someone mention visuals?

Damn, I'm so sorry. Wrong link.

Great post, Anne! I love 69 and, trust me, Felix, it ain't got nothing to do with my naivety or youth!

Ally said...

Loved the pix Kristina, eye is twitching and everything!

Personally I hate 69's. I find them far too distracting to concentrate on getting off. I need to be on my back and my mind unocupied with trying to accomplish anything else other than just having an orgasm.

Cathleen Ross said...

Lovely article Anne and terrific pictures. I personally think the whole 69 thing is overrated. There are too many other things I'd rather be doing eg going to the beach, drinking champagne, eating mangoes, enjoying the sunshine...
Cathleen Ross

jothemama said...

Pig-sty nine!