no sex in publishing

What You Never See About "Adult" Bookstores in Films

 

What you never see about “adult” bookstores in films (or books) could fill a volume of books…either fiction or non-fiction. And that’s because there’s one important aspect I always see left out (for some reason) and it might be the one of the most important ignored aspects. I’m sure some of you already know where I’m going with this right now.

Even I’ve been reluctant to write about adult bookstores in erotic fiction for reasons I’m not always sure about. One reason is that it examines a seedier aspect of society that often leaves me feeling uncomfortable for many reasons. In a way, it is like crossing over to the dark side for a while. And the topic doesn’t come up often in romances with characters that are more centered on love and emotion.

I’ve written more than a few sex scenes over the years. And one thing I’ve recently promised myself is that I’m going to write more blog posts about sex in fiction…partly because I write about sex and I think my discreet readers want to read more about it and partly because sex seems to be one of the least discussed topics in publishing. In fact, it’s almost taboo. If you just take literary agent blogs and examine them alone, you’ll see that almost none of them ever discuss sex, not even in the most basic pg rated ways. I often wonder why they don’t post “No Sex in Publishing” on their sidebars.

This has always confused me as a writer, and it’s one reason why I wrote an abridged and unbridged version of “Chase of a Dream.” When I’m writing sex scenes, I’m taking the reader to a deeper place…a private, personal place where we all go sometimes. But that often seems to be ignored in publishing, and yet I hear all the time that sex sells. I think I would fall sideways if sexless blogging literary agents like Janet Reid or Kristin Nelson ever wrote a serious post about sex in fiction and what editors want. Maybe editors don’t want any sex in fiction? I honestly don’t know the answer to this. But if sex is one of the things we all think about for a better part of the day in real life (more than a few studies have proven this in both men and women), wouldn’t (shouldn’t) sex be a topic of discussion at least once in a while on a publishing blog in a basic sense? Stands to reason. I can’t be the only one who has wondered about this. But I don’t see THAT changing any time soon. Some of these publishing blogs are so self-censored and calculated toward controlling new writers I often wonder how they continue to do it without getting sick of themselves.

And Hollywood’s not that much different from publishing. What prompted this post was a film I caught last night by accident. It’s called “Peep World,” starring Michael C. Hall. It wasn’t a bad film, and this isn’t a film review. But I did want to post something about the way they handled adult bookstores and peep shows in the film. In one scene, a young pregnant woman follows her handsome young husband (adorable Michael C. Hall) to an adult bookstore called “Peep World,” and finds out that he’s been going there to watch adult films in those dark private booths almost all adult bookstores have in the back.

When she followed him inside, distressed and in a panic, passing displays for sex toys and BDSM gear of the most explicit kind, I thought, “Oh shit, this is going to get good.” And the reason I thought this way is because the private booths in these adult bookstores are almost always places where men have sex with other men. I’m not going into details about this. I don’t think I have to do that for you to get where I’m going here. The point of this post is more about the fact that this is never discussed, not in books or films.

As the woman passed through the main showroom of the adult bookstore, the manager tried to stop her. The private booth sections in these places are almost like sacred ground and you don’t go in there screaming your husband’s name and banging on the doors of the private booths. It’s just not done. But that’s what she did, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. But while I’m thinking she’s going to find her husband in a booth with another guy, the only thing that happens is all the men start running out of the booths and out the front door in their one state of panic. The implication in this scene was that men ONLY go to these places to sit in small dark booths, watch porn, and masturbate.

By the time this woman had finally cleaned out the entire back room of the bookstore, she found her husband…obviously alone in a booth in the back. I would like to clarify that some men do go to places like this just to sit alone and watch porn. But a large number go there for other reasons. And sitting alone watching porn is the least of those reasons. In most parts of this country adult bookstores with private booths are the only places men can go to meet other men. The Internet has changed a lot of this for the better now that men can meet men online. But there was a time not too long ago when the only place for some men to “meet” other men was in adult bookstores because the gay bars were too far away and the rest stops and public bathrooms were too dangerous.

I’m no expert in this matter. I’ve haven’t been to one of these adult bookstores in many, many years. But I did go when I was single, it didn’t take long to figure out what was going on behind the scenes, why most of the men in these dark back rooms were there standing in the hallways lurking, and what was expected. As I said, I don’t think I have to go into details in this post for people to know what I’m talking about, at least not at this point. Though I’m not fond of things like this, I also don’t judge them. But it is a reality that’s almost never portrayed the right way.

I almost didn’t even write this post because it’s such a sensitive topic. There are also people who don’t know what really goes on in a lot of these adult bookstores because they’ve never been to one. For one thing, it’s not a place where you see many women…at least not in the back rooms at the private booths. I also didn’t want to talk about this because it’s something so discreet. But since it never is talked about anywhere, and films like “Peep World” do get into the topic without really getting into what happens in adult bookstores, I thought I would finally post something about it for those who don’t know.

Although some of the men could be in there just watching porn, sitting all alone like the guy in “Peep World,” the odds suggest they aren’t. And I think if you’re going to write about a topic like this you should at least give a small hint indicating what really happens instead of misleading people into making false assumptions. If you follow this link, go with caution.