Sex, & Sex, drugs & Rock n roll, & rock n roll – WORD Christchurch

IMG_5797Warning: as the title indicates, there may be some adult content in this post.

There is nothing like being ushered into a writers festival session with the question”Sex, drugs, and rock n roll?” It feels very non-cardigany!

This was a bit of an ongoing theme of my WORD Christchurch experience. First up, on Thursday evening I went to the launch of new erotic magazine Aotearotica at the New Regent Street pop-up.

Melanie McKerchar
Aotearotica at G+A Creative. Readers/Performers: Isabelle McNeur, Jodi Sh. Doff, Melanie McKerchar, and Laura Borrowdale. New Regent St popup festival.WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival. Flickr 2016-08-25-IMG_5746

The readings were fabulously varied in their saucy flavours. After an intro by Aotearotica editor Laura Borrowdale, Melanie read a sexy jewel from Anaïs Nin, Isabelle shared her honest raw love tales, and Jodi Sh. Doff told a story about a verrrry seductive subway ride.

By the way, if you can write or draw, Aotearotica is looking for submissions for Volume Two.

After the sex, the Sex, Drugs & Rock n Roll. This session featured more of the middle vice. Bianca Zander, Jodi Wright, and Kate Holden with Charlotte Graham (who was a very clued up chair). Charlotte wondered why sex, drugs and rock n roll books have such appeal? Taboo and rite of passage were two suggestions.

Panel for Sex, Drugs, and rock n roll
Panel for Sex, Drugs, and rock n roll: Charlotte Graham, Kate Holden, Bianca Zander, Jodi Wright. Flickr 2016-08-27-IMG_5808

Kate read stories about drugs before she became an addict – but while she was using, she read fantasy books. As heroin took hold in Australian in the 1990s, it appealed to soft, dreamy types because when the world is a bit abrasive “opiates are a great softener of that feeling”. She also explained how “anthropologically fascinating” brothels are – incredibly moving, compulsively interesting.

Kate’s memoir In my skin shows how important her family is, and she made a good point:

Family doesn’t get written about much in junkie memoirs.

Now that her memoir’s film rights have sold, everyone is re-reading and they are impressed all over again.

Jodi Wright - Sex, Drugs, and rock n roll
Jodi Wright, Flickr 2016-08-27-IMG_5800

CoverJodi couldn’t remember enough to write a memoir, so used her experience as the basis of a novel. She tried to find out what caused her addiction, going to psychiatrists to find the inciting incident: “What I needed to do was get unstuck”:

The story is what I have.

CoverBianca “always wanted to write a great rock n roll novel … I don’t think this is it”. It’s elusive trying to capture the spirit of rock n roll in words. Her book The Predictions was inspired by a story about an ashram kid, parented by the whole group, who went looking for his mum in a crowd. She thought about those kids without a solid foundation, unmoored out there in the world.

Two  points I took away from this session:

  • Good “Sex, drugs, and rock n roll” novels and memoirs take away the feeling of other, and make us think “us”.
  • Men are often feted for doing/writing this kind of stuff, and yet women get demonised. Hmmm.

And finally the rock n roll. I went to the Flying Nun In love with these times session at Blue Smoke. It was a joy. Russell Brown was our MC and on stage were Roger Shepherd, Graeme Downes, Jay Clarkson, Bruce Russell, and Hollie Fullbrook (Tiny Ruins). There were plenty of Flying Nun alumni in the audience which definitely added to the flavour. Roger Shepherd’s book is not just a great tale about a music scene, it’s a pretty powerful look into Christchurch’s history too.

Highlights? Jay Clarkson playing Spooky, and her perspectives on being a young mum and muso. Graeme Downes’ new song Dunedin Spleen (and his general loucheness and academic nous). Russell Brown’s super knowledgeable MCing and questions. The lugubrious Bruce Russell. This was something special.

More Sex, Drugs, and rock n roll

More WORD Christchurch

50 Shades of Blah

Yes it’s a publishing phenomenon, yes it’s made lots of money for its author, yes it’s got everyone talking about the genre of Erotica, but should we care about Fifty Shades of Grey?

Now, an admission here, I haven’t read all of even the first book, but I read the start, and was made nervous by the first line..

I scowled with frustration at myself in the mirror.

I skipped through it reading various bits, ok including the ‘naughty’ bits, and have read many reviews. What I read I found quite disturbing really. Not because of the sex scenes or the acts performed, those were pretty run of the mill really, following the well worn path of male fantasy, but because of the main character’s willingness to go along with what were clearly Mr Grey’s fantasies and obsessions, not her own. Reality was suspended in so many ways, not just for the sake of a good story.

I find it kind of sad and very irritating that this book is the one that has got people reading this genre, or thinking that this is an example of good erotic writing, as well it being the book that has made it ‘ok’ to read erotic fiction.

From a feminist perspective, I was disheartened that a woman writer would have a female character so desperate for the male protagonist’s affections that she would not insist she get even a little of what she likes to do in there occasionally and submit to things she wasn’t always into. I’m not saying there are aren’t women who enjoy shall we say, rough play, but I often didn’t get the sense it was consensual and it was pretty much always on his terms.

It started me thinking of all the really good erotica out there on the library shelves, written by some of the greats in literature, and I’d like to encourage people to give them a go. There is also plenty of interesting work online, work sold only as E Books.

Here’s a small list of great books available at Christchurch City Libraries to give you a starting point:

1. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H Lawrence

2. Henry and June by Anais Nin

3.Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

4.Delta of Venus by Anais Nin

5. Ulysses by James Joyce

6. The River Midnight by Lilian Nattel

7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


Oh, and if you read Fifty Shades of Grey and loved it or hated it, please tell me why!