the title, the best american Erotica 2001, flashes like a neon sign outside a peep show, heavy with promise but empty of substance. All that separates this collection from Penthouse Forum prose is an art-house cover and shelf space at Chapters.
You'd think Susie Bright would know erotica from schmaltz. She introduced sex in all its gender mutations to the suburban Range Roving crowd, and choreographed that fabulous lesbian sex scene in the film Bound. But her claim in the introduction that she's found the cream of the crop of gay, lesbian, bisexual and heterosexual erotica falls flat early on.
The stories read like 25-cent snapshots of sex without context, characterization or the one distinguishing feature separating erotica from porn -- cerebral seduction.
By about the 15th meaningless quickie, a tired formula emerges: boy or girl meets girl (or boy(s) or bathroom sink or stripper) and chugs toward orgasm until it's over. It's like sex without kissing or talking -- just a yelp, a sigh and a snore.
Aside from the meaningless sex, what really annoyed me were the stereotypical representations of queers as one-dimensional sexual predators devoid of emotion. Not surprisingly, the only tender, reflective moments in BAE happen in a heterosexual context. Queer sex does occur outside of bathroom stalls, locker rooms and saunas, in loving, long-term relationships, but you'd never know it from this book.
May is Masturbation Month, but whatever your preference, you're better off using your imagination.
The Best American Erotica 2001edited by Susie Bright (Simon and Schuster Touchstone), 188 pages, $19.25 paper. Rating: N