Friday, September 12, 2008

On Patrol with Erotica Cover Watch

I’m Kristina Lloyd and I’m a hornymanoholic. My friend, Mathilde Madden, suffers from the same problem.

You wouldn’t believe some of the places we have to hang out to get a fix. It makes us feel weird and freakishly oversexed.

Imagine our plight: another late night of smut writing and we decide to take, um, a break from the words. So we google, say, ‘stud muffin’ or ‘david boreanaz naked’ or ‘army boy gang bang in a warehouse after they have all got in from the mud and are really really angry’.

And where do we end up? Yup, gawping at gay porn.

Many of us have heard the phrase ‘I’m a gay man trapped in a woman’s body’. It’s understandable where the confusion arises but what this assertion actually means is ‘I’m an ordinary woman living in a world which refuses to accept I love sex and frequently have the horn for men.’ Mainstream depictions of sexiness often bypass female desire entirely because they bypass the jaw-dropping, mouth-drying, knee-weakening sexiness of guys. Typically, sexiness equals curves, breasts, hips, lips and knickers. If you’re a straight woman and you want unashamed muscle and some sexiness your way, then you must make like a minority and go to gayland. Why, when women are over half the population? This surely ain’t fair.

It’s much the same in bookshops (although obviously there is a lot less cock) with sexy gay fiction being where it's at. Mathilde and I read and write smut. This gets us hot. But the covers of erotica leave us cold and frustrated. They feature near naked women and are aimed primarily at straight men.

Sure, if you’re a bi woman, you might like the picture too but presumably you’d be equally happy with a gorgeous guy. And it’s odd, isn’t it – suspicious even – that on erotica covers, the only aspects of female bisexuality represented are the ones that heterosexual men get off on quite majorly? How jolly convenient! Because the fact is the preponderance of the female form in erotica isn't an act of generosity towards women who like women, anymore than the plethora of hot-honeys-go-pussy-crazy porn is about lesbian consumer choice. It's just a side effect of what straight men like.


So Mathilde and I have been wondering why there are practically no men on erotica covers. And we realise it’s simple: as everyone knows, if a straight man looks at another man in an arena that could be construed as sexual, his penis falls off dead! And since nobody wants bookstore owners to be continually having to sweep up the penises in the erotica section (it’s bad enough there as it is), they put the hot-hunk covers out of harm’s way, in places where no self-respecting straight man would go ie. in gay fiction and erotic romance.


Erotica and erotic romance are different beasts (though both are making two backs). Erotic romance, as you probably know, is a smutty offshoot of the traditional romance genre. Broadly speaking, the narrative is driven by the development of potentially loving and long term relationship between a him and a her (with occasional twists, extras, spankings and even lashings of lube). Sex, or the hunger for it, is a hot horny part of that burgeoning relationship, and of other hook-ups the protagonist may have before she snags her main man.

In erotica, lust has the upper hand. Love may or may not be present but the story is driven primarily by sexual desire, often kinky, and the quest for its fulfilment. Of course, that doesn’t mean erotica lacks emotion, passion or empathetic characters. Negotiating the journey to sexual completion can be incredibly fraught, joyous, intense, and intellectually and emotionally-involving. Love and lust are both deeply profound and complex subjects.

Remember that old chestnut, ‘Girls use sex to get love; guys use love to get sex’? Sometimes it seems we’re still stuck there: erotic romance prioritises love therefore it’s for women; erotica prioritises lust therefore it’s for men.

The book covers say as much with their images of hot hunks on erotic romance, images of hot babes on erotica. The message seems to be it’s only legit for women to look at a bit of brawn with the safety net of love, sunsets and a happy ever after. Sure, these things are fine. That’s what romance is about. But haven’t we had enough of the notion that women only like sex with hearts, bows and violins? That we can only fuck with one eye on our future prospects? That lust is strictly for the boys and that women can’t go gooey over a beautiful male body sans sunset?

Why are there rarely any men on the covers of erotica? Why does the genre insist on fetishising only the female form?

The question becomes increasingly pressing when you look at the phenomenal growth in the numbers of women writing and consuming erotica. Erotica’s readership has changed hugely in recent years but the covers are still languishing in the past. They appeal directly to men while fobbing women off with the notion that they can identify with the half-dressed object of many a man’s desire. And if you don’t identify, then what? You can fuck off back to romance where you belong? Keep on trespassing on gay porn?

Hey! We’re women, we’re here! We like to look and lust just as much as guys do. And we reckon the objects of our desire ought to be getting a lot more cover space. We want more sexy guys in erotica, more muscles, more couples - more equality, goddammit!

Sure, some women like looking at other women and we’re not knocking that. But how come that's all we’re allowed to look at? What about those of us who are (oh God, the shame) straight? What can we feast our eyes on?

So Mathilde and I are launching our campaign to Banish Inequality on Covers in Erotica, Porn and Smut (BICEPS)! Please check out our brand new blog, Erotica Cover Watch. On Erotica Cover Watch, we’ll be highlighting the problem of erotica’s persistent sexism by bringing you regular doses of cover-snark, rigorous debate, rage, laughter, hope and dirty filthy photos of hot handsome men in teeny tiny pants. We really hope you’ll add your voice.

Head on over there now to have your say. Vote in our big BICEPS poll!

And if you want to beef up your blog, add this gobbledegook to your sidebar:

<p align=center><a href="http://eroticacoverwatch.wordpress.com/"> <img class="aligncenter" src="http://i391.photobucket.com/albums/oo359/biceps_photos/biceps%20branding/Banish.jpg" border="0"></a></p>

and you'll get this lovely link:


It’s easy for us all – readers, writers, editors, publishers, booksellers – to feel as if our hands are tied (cue bondage joke), as if we can’t affect the status quo because its values are too ingrained in our cultural psyche.

But we can change this. Bit by bit we can all have an impact. We can get rid of those weary ideas that erotica services only men, that women are objects to be looked at while those we lust after enjoy the power and privilege of looking. In content, erotica is increasingly wonderful. It’s imaginative, varied, arousing, stylish and daring, and it’s no longer the preserve of The Boys’ Club. It really is time the covers caught up.

Let's Banish Inequality on Covers in Erotica, Porn and Smut!

54 comments:

Olivia Knight said...

I tried this myself. I lined up 30 straight men, showed them pictures of naked men, and -- sure enough, a few seconds later, I had a fabulous soprano choir. We're releasing our first CD next year, including the hit single, Hot Men Made Me Gay.

It's very sweet that male sexuality, elsewhere portrayed as such a violent unstoppable brute force, is here perceived as so delicate and fragile.

But yes, recursive arguments that "the status quo can't possibly be changed because that's the status quo" pop up all over the gender debate.

And just for the benefit of our Latin readers, a few of the other fallacies to defend the inequality, are... argumentum ad antiquitatem, argumentum ad populum, circulus in demonstrando, cum hoc ergo propter hoc, dicto simpliciter, and petitio principii. So that clears that up, then!

Janine Ashbless said...

Well, you have my support! It's pathetic that the erotica publishing industry, of all things, should be so incredibly conservative and nervous.

My own favourite cover was for Burning Bright cos I think the guy is gorgeous ... but I can see that it is a cover that has ROMANCE encoded in it in captital letters (yes, just like that). BL were going through their Romance stage. My latest cover Dark Enchantment is a bit more ambiguous. I can't even decide what gender the models are! but it certainly says "Sex" rather than "Hello Ladies!"

I think that for erotica couples (preferably faceless because I'm so damn fussy about what sort of masculine face I like, just a tangle of limbs) - or more - ought to be the way forward. Even a brown paper wrapper would be better than that offensive Mammoth cover you feature on your blog.

Mathilde Madden said...

Woo hoo! I am just excited to be on Lust Bites again, never our world-changing blog of campaigning ROCK. (Um, or something. I'm excited.)

KL and I have been talking about doing this for ages. I'm so glad we finally did it!

Olivia Knight said...

Oh - and regarding that cover (and if you haven't seen it, girls and boys, look over here) - I pointed out how especially misogynistic it was, but only later realised, well, and quite rightly so. If the other of Jakubowski's selections that I've read are anything to go by, you really can judge that book by its cover. (Don't fret, Maxim; I didn't want you to publish me anyway.)

As Kristina says, though, the issue isn't so much what's appalling or good about various pictures of women, but WHERE ARE THE MEN? BRING ON THE MEN!

I remember being repeatedly told as a teenager (usually in argument about why I shouldn't wear a low-cut top) that men were more visually stimulated, whereas women... oh, I don't remember what they said, probably something about kittens and flowers, but at any rate, their sexual response was not to visual stimuli. God - I was twelve when I knew that was wrong! And just to prove it to any woman uncertain about herself, LOOK HERE! FEEL that visual stimulus. Oooh... ahhh...

MarkFarley said...

Ah yes, this old chestnut again...

Whereas you girls STILL have a great arguement and excellent points, some of us are just grateful to be published.

My main gripe is continually being knocked back for having a penis. What covers my story is the least of my worries, I'm afraid.

kristina lloyd said...

Thanks for the support! It's wonderful, and so nice to be back here.

I'm in the forthcoming Mammoth 8 from Maxim and I was in this year's 'best of' selection too. I've never felt able to promote my inclusion of either of these anthologies because the covers are so appalling.

And yes, Olivia, what the hell is it with this idea that women don’t like to look? Just like men, we have five senses, and one of them is sight. Or did I miss something? Do women also have the DNA of moles, worms and bats?

Heck, think I’ll just go test my eyesight on your wet men. Make sure it’s working properly.

Olivia Knight said...

Hey Mark - I assume the being knocked-back is reference to all the women-only publishers, and yes, serious sympathy about that. (Btw - the lovely Erotic Review of Books might be an excellent forum for you, I don't think they have a men-only policy, but they're certainly geared 90% towards men.)

I'm always uneasy about the power-imbalance of gratitude, though, especially when it stops people making valid objections to things. I've never felt a publisher is doing me a favour by printing my work. It's lovely, like getting a job you want is lovely, but it's not a favour. Beware the gratitude, my son - the jaws that shut, the claws that shrink!

Mathilde Madden said...

I think a big dilemma for a lot of writers (or for me, anyway) is whether or not to submit to anthos they know will have yet another sexist fucking cover.

As for feeling grateful for being published. Publishers are not charities. They need writers to make money. Every editor I have ever spoken to has told me that there are not enough good writers to go around. There are plenty of people writing, but good stuff - not so much.

If you are good they should be the grateful ones. Especially if you are letting them package your work in such a horrid offensive way.

Sarah said...

Woot! I have to agree!

And I loved and frequently have the horn for men. hehe.

I love looking at men, but I had never really thought about the covers of what I read or have read in the past having mainly women on them. Most of the stuff I read is from the US and because it is m/m there is a dearth of chicks. :)

Sarah said...

PS Do check out Exterface when you are next trawling the net! They're delightful!

Louisa said...

Great post! I'm all for more covers with men on, both as a reader and writer of erotica. And, I totally agree with you Olivia that women are just as visually stimulated as men. I'm off over to vote on that poll now! :-)

Amanda said...

i'm with Mark, i'm afraid. yep i'd like to see more men on the cover, but i'd also like to see more male authors between the covers. the interesting thing about your argument is that the exact same thing could be said for BL about not including male writers. using status quo or publisher as the excuse. i just think it's ironic that's all. but hell yeah, bring on sexy males on erotica covers. a friend of mine had trouble getting an erotica mag printed by printers at one point because the mag included full frontal male nudity. female nudity was fine. sigh. it's good to see LustBiters complaining about sexism. but it's ironic too.

MarkFarley said...

As I posted on the Cover watch blog, more needs to be done about having both men AND women on the covers. If anything it immediately differentiates what the toe, style and content in the book is. Books are the only things in the world so badly marketed. Everything else within marketing is strictly monitored and tried and tested to ensure absolutely that they are going in the right direction and unfortunately erotica falls even fouler of all of this.

As a bookseller, I always judge a book by its cover and its rare (as a straight man) to actually come across any cover that I am attracted to, to be honest. Maybe I'm weird.

In reference to the gratitude, all I was saying was that there are many writers who would look upon such griping of an author of six books and feel a little annoyed. But yes, maybe my stuff isn't as good to warrant such attention. All that I meant was that as a male erotic writer, there are certainly less avenues for me to try.

On all cases, more equality on the covers and in the industry generally...

kristina lloyd said...

*its rare (as a straight man) to actually come across any cover that I am attracted to*

Hahaha! But I bet lots of straight men do.

Someone pass the Kleenex.

(Sorry, filthy mind.)

Mathilde Madden said...

Oh, to have erotica covers I could come across

MarkFarley said...

Kris, as much as you are probably right, it's still a mass generalization. I am sure you would be surprised at the number of straight men who would actually disagree with you. But yes, that is what they are aimed at and it is very wrong.

I'm not happy about my covers (or sorry, the covers of the compilations that I am in) but it's because they bear no relevance to the content of the book. But I guess it's hard to do that for compilations, with so many different stories. I agree though, that there is a theme and an attitude with publishers to cater a certain way. It needs to change, but as long as their hands are tied and have to answer to buyers in chains, who actively force changes and influence cover design of even the biggest best-selling authors, that's what i mean when I believe that attitudes are a long way from changing.

Also thanks to the lovely Olivia for the reccomendation, I will take a look.

Olivia Knight said...

(Kristina was just being a dirty-minded little tart, Mark - and just watch her eyes light up when you call her that!)

The whole power pyramid does seem to have bookshops on top, and as Mark says, it's extraordinary that these companies don't do more market research, but just run with their own self-fulfulling prophecies of what readers expect and want (like the point on Cover Watch that sexy men on covers is associated with gay porn because those are the only books that ever have sexy men on covers so it's associated with gay porn because those are the only books... sorry, channelling Zoolander again.)

We should definitely have a day of designing our own alternative covers for the books. (Bearing in mind most of us aren't really graphic designers...)

Good point, Amanda. And while I was the one defending the BL/marketing status quo, I should point out that we don't get any input on BL's policies. (And also, a quick disclaimer: although most of us write for Black Lace, this blog is not formally affiliated to the company, what we say doesn't represent what they think, and they get no editorial control over it whatsoever.) But yes, writing for a company with a sexist policy does implicate one.

Olivia Knight said...

P.S. I'm blathering on so much today I'm starting to feel like a hostess and should probably pass around this tray of champagne I've been hording. Anyone for bubbles?

Olivia Knight said...

Btw - because I can't shut up - I know quite a few of our readers are male erotica writers. It'd be very interesting to know which places do and don't accept submissions from men; it could be an interesting post. So yell out, if you want, or email me at knight.olivia@gmail.com.

Mathilde Madden said...

I just wanted to add that KL and I will be cover watching every Thursday and if you have an erotica book cover (of a book you are featured in - or just a book you have stumbled over) that you would like to nominate for our hall of shame please contact us via the blog

(note to self: must make contact page)

Also, to relieve the tension we will be drooling over man candy on Mondays mainly so our blog isn't full up with only horrid images.

kristina lloyd said...

Hey, Mark. I don't think we've ever claimed we can change this overnight. That would be very silly indeed! We're starting, we're pushing, we're trying to draw attention to the problem. There is no magic wand. We know that!

I really think we should be congratulated for what we’re doing. Hell, I'm drinking a toast to us tonight! Thanks for the bubbles, Olivia.

To BICEPS!

MarkFarley said...

I kinda got annoyed with Scarlet in the end. They printed one thing of mine, which they heavily edited without asking me (and yes, it was within the word count) and there was a whole rigmorole with getting paid, which never happened in the end and then I submitted a Scarlet Icon piece to them, which they accepted and then decided later on that they would prefer the piece coming from a female writer.

The sexism (unfortunately) is not just about anthology covers, I'm sorry to say. So I'm not holding out much hope for this crusade. Sorry for being defeatist, but all involved need to realise the extent of idiocy within the book industry.

Mathilde Madden said...

Yay! To BICEPS

MarkFarley said...

I agree, you should be congratulate and hailed accordingly. It's not going to make a blind bit of difference though. The book industry runs on its own rules and pays no attention to small causes.

Case in point: Age references on books crusade...

Mathilde Madden said...

But in the world of fiction nothing succeeds like an honourable goal against hopeless odds.

So again YAY BICEPS. YAY-A-YAY for the hopeless lost cause of BICEPS

(And actually all we wanted to achieve was to stop bitching to each other about covers over email and bitch about them on the internet - so we have already won!)

MarkFarley said...

Congrats...

Olivia Knight said...

I'm slightly less defeatist than Mark - and with ebooks finally starting to take off into the mainstream, as e-readers become more accessible and commonplace, the hegemony of The Mighty Bookstores is quietly undermined. (Not totally. But some.) Ellora's Cave, for instance, is great for equality on their covers (although sometimes I think they could invest a leetle more in design).

Actually, I'm not defeatist at all. Things do change. Often surprisingly rapidly. The status quo is just terribly good at darting into a new position and then sitting their whistling as if it were there all along. (So, for example, the church can now think women priests are normal, but get their robes in a knot over women bishops.) If you look at accepted practice and received opinions from only 15 years ago, you realise what a massive sea-change there's been.

Mathilde Madden said...

And one of the status quo's absolute favourite tricks is 'oh that can never change'

'Yes, you're right it is wrong - but of course nothing can be done.'

Alison Tyler said...

Wow, it's only 7:30 a.m., and I'm already late for the party!

I think you two ought to start your own publishing company. Call it BICEPS. Do e-books at the start and use only uber hot men on the covers. Then move on to print.

You'd be out almost no up-front money and you could be the pioneers in the industry!

XXX,
AT

Olivia Knight said...

Oooh, yes!. Go on, K&T! Alison - I'd love to see a companion piece to your beautiful erotica A-to-Z, with fifties-style boys on the front, sailor-men and the like! Maybe a January to December collection... The seaside-postcard naughtiness of that set is just gorgeous.

Madeline Moore said...

So far with BL I've been lucky, a man and a woman on 'Wild Card' and a woman with two men on 'AManda's Young Men'. I suspect it would be more effective if the readers of erotica 'for women' were to complain that they want men on their covers.

ALso, here in Canada Nexus is not carried by our large chains, probably true in US as well, because of the covers. I'd hate to have a book of mine denied by any market because of its cover.

In other words, I wish you the best of luck with this, K and M, but I think it has to reach 'the people' and even more problematic, 'the booksellers' before any publishing house is going to change its policy.

Nice to see you here and to see all the comments...one attracts the other, I think.

Amanda said...

i would like both champagne and biceps please :)

Olivia Knight said...

Amanda, Hank here has champagne for you to drink from the hollow in his bicep.

Madeline - god, have you seen the Nexus covers? I don't allow them on my own bookshelves! But yes, the kind of covers that erotic romance books receive, featuring plenty of hot men, is itself proof that they're not a problem in stores. And BL does quite well with its covers (though when we did get a whole man on his own, for Love on the Dark Side, we all giggled at him. Poor lad.)

Mathilde Madden said...

God. I wish I had the temperament to be a publisher - but I really don't.

It's a good point you make though AT - and quite shocking that just putting men on the covers of erotica books occasionally would be pioneering!

Someone else though, c'mon - the sailor boys!

Alison Tyler said...

I have pretty much the same comment for MF, though, who said: "My main gripe is continually being knocked back for having a penis."

I've never rejected anyone for having a penis!
(Take that however you'd like.)

But if you really feel put down because you're male, start your own imprint. Put out a call and see what you get. I try to choose the stories that best fit my books—regardless of what sort of equipment resides between the thighs of the writer.

XXX,
AT

Olivia Knight said...

As I sort-of said on Erotica Cover Watch, there's two things here...

Item: pure erotica covers almost always feature women
Item: many publishers only accept submissions from women

Both are discriminatory, and they certainly don't cancel each other out. What they do, though, is contradict each other so wildly that one can only conclude that the publishers believe their target market is schizophrenic lesbians with heterosexual fantasies.

Not that schizophrenic lesbians with heterosexual fantasies shouldn't be catered for, but it does seem a surprisingly narrow market segment. Hmm.

Olivia Knight said...

P.S. Not you, AT! Though I promise to start my own imprint ;-)

Kate Pearce said...

It's weird because here in the USA almost every cover has a half-naked man on it (like my Planet Mail one)-that is, the erotic romance ones in the romance section anyway. :)

And re covers, you'd be surprised how influential some of the big stores over here are about cover content. Walmart who sell gazillions of books have a lot of say about how a cover looks and have been known to turn them down and demand a new cover-expensive but true.

My first cover for Simply Sexual had a naked male butt with a hand on it-that's all-and the buyers changed it because they thought it was too risky but allowed.
this

which btw I love.

I've never really thought about the erotica side of it as I'm far too wimpy to write the spicy stuff, but I would love to see some more men on the covers and have been known to frequent the lovely gay porn sites for the necessary images myself.
Go BICEPS!
Great post!
Nice to see you back!

Olivia Knight said...

Cor blimey, Kate! fanning self frantically Um. I'll just enlarge that cover... Bloody hell. "Born to love" alright, hard and fast and ten times a night. Whew.

clears throat loudly

How about a hall of fame as well, K&T? That's a definite contender.

nips back to look at it again and whimpers

Reminds me of a delectable description of Greebo - or Lord Gribeau, if you prefer - Nanny Ogg's cat, in human form:

Greebo fully clothed still managed to communicate the nakedness beneaht. The insouciant moustache, the long sideburns and the tousled black hair combined with the well-developed muscles to give the impression of the more louche kind of buccaneer or romantic poet who'd given up on the opium and tried red meat instead. He had a scar running across his face, and a black patch now where it crossed his eye. When he smiled, he exuded an easy air of undistilled, excitingly dangerous lasciviousness. He could swagger while asleep. Greebo could, in fact, commit sexual harassment simply by sitting very quietly in the next room.

...and later, arriving at the Opera...

Salzella stopped. He blinked. 'Oh, good grief,' he whispered. 'What has she found?'
Bucket turned. 'That's Lady Esmerelda... Oh.'
Greebo strolled in alongside her with the gentle swagger that makes women thoughtful and men's knuckles go white.


All together now: meee-oww!

Janine Ashbless said...

Yay BICEPS!

And isn't Pratchett just the most quotable writer in the English language? Somebody should bring out a "wisdom of Pratchett" book.

Kate Pearce said...

Hey Olivia-did you notice I used a 'link' in my post-aren't you proud? :)

Mathilde Madden said...

God I daren't tell you how often I google for human!Greebo fanfiction.

Oh, and Janine, do you have this?

Olivia Knight said...

Sweetheart, I wept with pride. Even as I write this I'm wiping away a tear and have a warm glow in my heart.

I want the job of compiling that book, J...

Madeline Moore said...

Maxim's latest release, 'Kama Sutra' is an illustrated complilation of the Kama Sutra poses, with stories by erotica authors imagining how the poses might have been created.

All the illustrations feature a man and a woman, and while there are lots of naked breasts, there are male and female buttocks and a few erect penises.

I think it is a lovely book.

Madeline Moore said...

I think it's vital that women, especially young women, not get complacent about the feminist movement. Sexist attitudes are rampant in all sectors of our lives, including the arts, where one would hope it might be a thing of the past.
So I applaud M and K for their cover watch.

I've talked about the TV animated series I worked on a while back. 'We've already got one chick' was said to the showrunner when he suggested another woman writer.
The main character was female, which meant that the show would be considered to be a vehicle for female empowerment. BUT - with all male writers (except for me) the female got short shrift and the male characters got most of the screen time.

I made a point of using the secondary female characters in my scripts, because they were so woefully absent from the other stories.

But, as a Black Lace writer, what I really want at the helm is a hard working, sensible, aesthetic, sensitive, intelligent editor - and we have that in Adam Nevill.

And I really really want my books to sell. If they would sell better with naked guys on them then yeah! If they sell better with naked women on them, or if it gets them into more stores, then put the naked babes on the front.
It doesn't change the story, and so far my novels have featured a female character who is empowered by the experiences that are chronicled in the books.

JenB said...

I love love LOVE this post, and I love you for writing it.

The blog is a fantastic idea!!

Craig Sorensen said...

Janine said:

It's pathetic that the erotica publishing industry, of all things, should be so incredibly conservative and nervous.

How True.

I would like to see more erotica covers where both men and women are included on the cover, to convey the sensuality of interaction that erotica embodies. Sci-fi covers convey futuristic motifs, erotica covers should convey sensual interaction.

And don't let my "Pro-interaction" position be construed as implying that I am "Anti-masturbation." ;-)

I would not have a problem purchasing a book with only sexy a man on the cover, but the truth is there are many men who would. Truly, on the broad spectrum, beneath the brute force bravado, male sexuality is fragile. I can understand how this could influence a publisher's cover decisions.

To Olivia's question about which publishers are not accepting submissions from men:

In my brief experience submitting short stories in the erotic publishing world, I have not observed any gender bias against my work.

Editors like Alison are thoroughly professional, and I believe that their standards are set by fit of the story to the collection.

Granted, I've never submitted to Black Lace, but I know it's a wall that exists; I don't care for it, but I understand the rationale, dated though it may be.

Perhaps it is the shape of things to come that of the first three Anthologies released that my work is in, Mammoth Book of the Kama Sutra, Tasting Her, and Tasting Him 100% include men on the cover!

More than likely, this is just a happy accident, still it does present a glimmer of hope.

I hope BICEPS will go a long way in challenging the status quo.

Bravo, Kristina and Mathilde!

PS Sorry for the long post, but being so terribly, terribly late to the party, I felt it necessary to make a grand entrance.

Felix said...

If I may sidebar, (New verb, just coined, still warm to the touch) when Kerri edited Nexus, she insisted I use a female pen name. Both Adam and Maxim are happy to have me shed drag. Strange, huh?

Warmest,

Felix Baron

kristina lloyd said...

Thanks everyone! It's wonderful to have so much support and hear so many positive voices. We're thrilled to bits.

If anyone wants to contact us, please email: eroticacoverwatch AT yahoo DOT co DOT uk

Remember, we're looking for nominations for our Hall of Shame. Don't be afraid! We won't reveal your identity unless you ask us to do so.

Hall of Fame is a nice idea too - and we are planning to highlight some of the great covers out there featuring men and m/f couples. Because as Craig says, there are glimmers of hope - and I think glimmers should be polished.

And now I shall go dream about our BICEPS imprint with its saucy sailor covers. Really, I love that idea. I would probably turn into Alison Tyler and become obsessed about font.

Alison Tyler said...

Oh, do it, KL. Do it.
You can font me, baby, anytime.

XXX,
AT

Rupert said...

There is still massive anxiety about the presentation of the eroticised male body. It's changing, hence Beckham looking like a gay porn model all over the sides of buses. But publishing, even (especially?) erotic publishing, remains the most conservative of industries. Weirdly, their prejudices are actually preventing them from exploiting potential markets. Maybe that will change with the economic downturn and they'll ditch the prudery and bullshit in a desperate attempt to increase sales.

While I'm on - I (or rather James Lear) won the Erotic Award for Writer of the Year! Considering what a hetero event this was, I'm doubly surprised & delighted.

kristina lloyd said...

David Beckham is Erotica Cover Watch's official mascot!

It's interesting that when Becks first started getting his kit off he was very much linked with gay sexuality (and he certainly wasn't afraid of the link). He now seems to have made the break from that 'gay porn model' tag to become all-round sex god and eye candy for everyone. Maybe he was allowed through because he's so obviously heterosexual with his goldenballs and seventeen children. So he's been able to become an aspirational figure in mainstream advertising rather than someone who might make straight men queer. And for that I am very grateful!

Here's to stock market crashes and more muscle!

Many congrats on your win, Rupert! Richly deserved. Does this mean you've got a massive cock as well?

kristina lloyd said...

Also, for anyone who missed it first time round, check out this wonderful piece which Rupert (aka James) wrote for Lust Bites last year. Some hot book covers there too!

Helen said...

You are so singing my song here! Erotica DOES NOT equal naked female. For the last ten years or so, since I've been writing erotica, I've noticed that the covers almost always have women on them. I want to see men, half-naked, mostly-naked, however they're (un)dressed, on the cover of a book. I work as a graphic artist, and was very happy when one of my clients agreed to a cover image with a semi-nude male sub in leather bondage gear. I loved doing that cover and love working with that publisher (www.logical-lust.com).

One thing I've noticed is that this issue isn't just limited to erotica/erotic romance. A lot of straight up fantasy and sci-fi cover art also features the near-naked babe. One fantasy art magazine I get features a new naked babe on the cover every month, and it's getting damned irritating, especially since I know they've gotten comments from multiple readers about it. The only other things they've put on the covers are monsters or men in massive mech armor. Men are not allowed to be naked anywhere it seems.

Of course, I do wonder, where does yaoi fit into all of this? It is art featuring the naked male that's usually aimed at female viewers.

Now I want to go cruise the net for gay porn.