You've probably heard, by now, that the 'latest thing' is dinosaur porn.
Yes, we can start with a good laugh at the spectacularly shit photoshopping on the cover, even though, conceptually, the cover is a work of genius in that it signals exactly what you're going to get from the book. We can, if we've looked into it in the slightest, have a bit of a mutter about the fact that the 'authors' of this genre (apparently two American students) are charging upwards of three quid for very, very short stories about shagging extinct reptiles while wearing some sort of brass bra, and quite probably lipstick and suspenders as well. We could maybe quote and mock the admittedly bloody awful prose style - yup, you thought EL James made Dan Brown look like Stephen King; Christie Sims and Alara Branwen make EL James look like at least the average Sun leader writer.
My own immediate, personal reaction is, of course, furious jealousy that these two utterly terrible writers, are getting worldwide publicity when I am not. I doubt that there are many erotic writers who don't feel at least a flicker of it. But there is something quite interesting about the way this concept has suddenly exploded all over the media. It's being treated as something amusing, a bit strange and maybe a little bit icky, but so far no one is screaming and shitting the bed about it being an Awful Threat To Our Young People, and no one is demanding it be classified as Extreme Porn and banned.
Of course, a lot of people would say that it's only a story, and therefore there is no need to worry about real women (or indeed real dinosaurs) having been coerced into performing sex acts for entertainment or other people's financial gain. But Darryn Walker's piece of equally badly-written and entirely preposterous fiction, Girls (Scream) Aloud led to him being arrested, charged and prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act, though he was eventually acquitted. While it's likely that Walker got into trouble because his story was about real, named individuals even though there is a longstanding tradition of fanfic about both copyrighted fictional characters and actual living celebrities, there's also the possibility that erotic fiction that is written, aimed at and consumed by women rather than men is perceived as silly and unimportant. The concept of mythic-beast-shaggery was dealt with in a male-oriented, male-created film, The Beast (Walerian Borowczyk) which basically features a bloke in a monkey suit with a giant willy being wanked off by some woman's feet. Oh and a girl sticking a rose up her chuff and some horses having genuine horse sex. The film is variously described as subversive, dangerous, beautiful and truthful, and was banned for decades: having seen it at some 'transgressive' film festival years ago, my verdict is more along the lines of 'unintentionally hilarious'.
Some people's sexual tastes are, well, weird. They are not shared by the minority. That doesn't mean they are necessarily wrong. There is one faulty brand of cod-feminism which insists that any kind of paraphilia (sexual interest in something other than a partner's erogenous zones) is exclusive to men, and that women want 'love', but there's plenty of evidence that women can be just as sexually interested in objects, concepts and physical impossibilities as men might be. Just grab yourself a copy of My Secret Garden - the huge range of women's fantasies in that book include all sorts of BDSM, bestiality, supernatural stuff. The truth that if you can think of a thing, someone, somewhere, is wanking over it applies just as much to women as to men. Mostly, though, niche smut tends to be screamingly amateurish. Back in the Guild Of Erotic Writers era, we often had to try to explain to would-be authors that very, very few people are going to be as thrilled as they are by 3000 words on the precise flavour of the thirty different cheeses that your protagonist shoves up his ringpiece, and you really don't need to do a drawing in the margin of the specific brand-name box with a hole in it that is the object of your desire.
Author Aishling Morgan, aka Peter Birch, achieved well-deserved success by being the first - and is quite possibly still the only - author to combine an interest in fairly out-there filth (nappies, pony play, lactation, mutation) with an ability to write well, and Googling for 'dinosaur porn' doesn't lead you to any product that isn't by these two particular authors - or is just yet another Eek Boo Hoo Tee Hee opinion piece on the 'phenomenon' - which consists of about seven short stories and nothing else.
The authors have, apparently produced a lot of other stories which they describe as 'beast sex... designed to unlock your darkest fantasies' and which apparently feature orcs and weretigers as well as giant lizards. I'm ever so slightly inclined to get in touch and ask them what they could do with the concept of the Illuminati and a story of Prince Philip and Peter Mandelson turning into giant lizards while bonking some picturesque pauper.
Actually, maybe I should write that one myself. Two pages and £3.99 on Amazon. That will do. Or maybe what I need is, you know, some really filthy thoughts about...