Erotica Readers & Writers Association
Home | Erotic Books | Authors Resources | Inside The Erotic Mind | Erotica Gallery
Adult Movies | Sex Toys | Erotic Music | Email Discussion List | Links

'07 Authors Insider Tips

by Louisa Burton
Formatting Your Manuscript
Scams / Choosing an Agent
Pitching Your Novel...
From The Call to Published...

Hard Business
From Greg Herren
Who Is Telling This Story?
Itís Work, Not A Hobby
Where Ideas Come From

Sexy on the Page
With Shanna Germain
Plotting Erotic Fiction
Seducing Your Muse
Creating Characters...
Description, Action & Dialogue
Fucking on Paper
Ten No-Nos of Erotic Fiction
Climactic Moments: First Draft
Critique Groups
Revising Your Erotic Story
Finding the Perfect Markets...
Just Submit Already
Rejections and Acceptances

Two Girls Kissing
With Amie M. Evans
Verb Tense Confusion
Coming Up with Story Ideas
Attend a Writersí Conference
The Fundamentals of POV
Should I Sign That?
Etiquette for Authors
Erotica is Serious Work
No Body Writes for Free...
Shameless Self Promotions
The Myth of Writer's Block

The Write Stuff
From Ashley Lister
The Time is Write
The Beautiful People
A Book by Any Other...
Synopsis: the Necessary Evil
Erotica or Porn?
Feedback Whine

2007 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
What's it like being a writer?
An Apology to Salespeople

Get All Worked Up
With J.T. Benjamin
About Secrets
The Perfect Fuck
About Choices
The Age of Consent
The Kingmaker
Kids and Sex
The Price of Beauty
The G.O.P.
All Worked Up About Hate
Real Men

Pondering Porn
With Ann Regentin
Good Sex: A Physics Lesson
Meet Frankenstein
Thoughts on the Orgasm Gap
The Very Bloody Marys
The Doomsday Erection
Online Threesome Porn

Concertina: An Erotic Memoir of
Extravagant Tastes and Extreme Desires

by Susan Winemaker

Book Review by Rob Hardy

Concertina, by Susan WinemakerSusan Winemaker describes herself as a "nice Jewish girl from Toronto". She majored in philosophy and the culinary arts, and presumably because the former would not pay, went to study the latter in London. But as everyone knows, learning to be a chef and being a chef-for-hire is not as lucrative as being a dominatrix, and this is where she turned her talents. In Concertina: An Erotic Memoir of Extravagant Tastes and Extreme Desires (St. Martin's Press), Winemaker gives an account of her work in a trade of administering discipline and pain to men who think it worth, say, 150 an hour to be treated in such a way. Itís an odd career, although it is one long associated with sexuality, especially in England. It has plenty of peculiar moments and fun which Winemaker enjoys and writes about with amusement; the first sentence of the book is, "Itís 11:25 a.m. and Iím sitting on and suffocating Bernie". The work is delivering a service for a fee, and is full of day-to-day, practical tasks just to get the job done, as in "At 2:13 I was on my hands and knees, wiping semen off the dungeon floor. At 2:17 I was eating a hummus sandwich in the garden, and answering the telephone to a man who was interested in catheters and other medical procedures. At 2:30 I answered the door to a stranger named Robert ..." She was good at her trade, and had plenty of repeat clients handled with just the right degree of pain and remove. When she "blurred the boundaries" between mistress and client and took one on as a lover, the results are more disturbing than anything that happened in her dungeon.

There is plenty of food in the book, and many comparisons made between serving up a meal and serving up domination. When she was in training as a chef, she says, "I was shocked by the belligerence, the bellicosity, and the sheer violence" of the ranting of the head chef. "Hurry up!" he yells, "Sauce on the side! Youíve got the memory of a bloody goldfish." She is amazed by the abusiveness, and commiserates with one of its targets, but gets the reply, "You kidding? I deserved every bit of it and more. We all did! I couldnít respect a chef that didnít whip my ass. Heís one of the best around, and donít you forget it." It is just the sort of attitude she would later prize in her clients. A friend advises her, "Treat the kitchen as a psychological study in power and discipline." There are tools in the kitchen, ramekins and salamanders, and tools of her subsequent trade as well. When she sets up in her dungeon, the owner of the cottage that contains it points out and names all the gear: blindfolds, gags, belts, paddles, whips of horsehair, whips of rubber, crops, birches, and tawses. There was a cast iron chamber like a standing coffin, a leather bench, stocks, and a metal headcage that looked like a birdcage. On a trolley were nipple clamps, thumb traps, weights to be hung on the genitals, and clothes pins. And of course, there are latex gloves, wet wipes, and tissues. Serving up something delicious for the client is part of both trades, and she writes that "pain, violence, discipline and a good grasp of the tradeís tools could produce something succulent and beautiful".

The woman who introduces her to the new profession says that the money will be good, but money must never be the only motive. "You need to enjoy what youíre doing," she says, "it makes all the difference. Despite how it appears, you need to like men if you want to do the job and do it well... you need to care for them. Youíre there to facilitate their fantasy... Youíre playing a role. Donít let it go to your head. Donít take it too seriously. Itís a game. Itís a job. Make sure to have fun with it and youíll be fine." It is all good advice. She does like the game she plays as Mistress Anna and she likes the men. She had a session with "Enema Larry" who liked her to be in rubber nurse uniform, and afterwards he went to kiss her goodbye on the cheek. "I backed away just in time," she writes. "ĎI donít want you to catch my cold, Larry.í" The response: "ĎOh, but, Anna, I want your cold,í he instantly volleyed. It was the kindest thing anyone had said to me in the cottage. A beautiful thing to say. I loved my job for moments like that, for unexpected intimacies born of strange circumstances." From Bernie, she enjoyed witty repartee and the sense of play. He liked being suffocated by her rubber dress, and although he seldom asked for anything, at one session, he said, "You can go really far with the suffocation this time," and she knew how to handle the request: "Bernie, you said it, you took the words right out of my mouth because today is the day Iím going to push you like youíve never been pushed before." But it was a game; she knew she would thereafter "just carry on as usual." It is illuminating that when she was preparing for her career, she not only read fetish magazines and rope-tying manuals, but also Stanislavskiís Building a Character and An Actor Prepares. She writes of the accord between her and clients, "There will be no Ďsexí as itís understood. It will be my job to administer pain erotically and expertly... a symphony in the background, a range of sensations assailing me, the brief connection, the spice of anonymous intimacy, the distilled concentrated moment. I respond to detail and subtlety, rules, roles, and melody. This is theater, finitude, and utterly otherly experience." Upon enquiry from her parents, she reports that she is working within an exclusive independent theater in London, and this is a stretched truth rather than a lie; she does not mention if she prepared them for the franker descriptions in her book.

Though she is objective in describing her work, the most open and candid part of Concertina is the troubling account of her relationship with a client with whom she fell in love. In many ways, her job was no different from any other; it was demanding work with a good paycheck, but she realized that she was lonely: "Iím giving and Iím going home to no one." But Adam was gorgeous and responsive, liking especially the genital application of two score clothespins. Outside the dungeon, they developed an intense, sadomasochistic give and take. There is even (gasp) romantic and passionate normal sex. They arenít able to abandon domination / submission, however, and the convolutions mount. "The thought of ordering my lover to pleasure me was vulgar. I want him to pleasure me because he wants to, not because he has to, and not because itís the role heís playing." The last straw is that Adam, who says he loves her cooking, admits he accidentally ate a raw chicken cutlet and didnít notice. Winemaker eventually sees the humor in such a denouement, but the resolution of their relationship is sad and cruel. Never mind; she wants to start up a luxury porridge bar in London, and that is not a euphemism for anything erotic but rather a culinary niche that she thinks is unexplored. It would be a simpler life, and I would trust her to write about it colorfully, recipes included, but I suspect it would not result in a memoir as strange or funny as this one.

Rob Hardy
December 2007

Concertina: The Life and Loves of a Dominatrix
(St. Martin's Press; January 8, 2008; ISBN-10: 0312366728)
Available at:† / Amazon UK

© 2007 Rob Hardy. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

About the Reviewer:†
Rob Hardy is a psychiatrist who lives in Columbus, Mississippi, with his wife, two terriers, five cats, and goldfish.

He reviews nonfiction for The Times of Acadiana, but has been reviewing books as a hobby for years before that.
WebBio:  Rob Hardy

  E-mail this page

Search ERWA Website:

Copyright 1996 and on, Erotica Readers Association, Inc.
All Rights Reserved World Wide. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or
medium without express written permission is prohibited.

'07 Book Reviews


A for Amour / B for Bondage
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Women's Erotica '07
Review by Ashley Lister

The Butcher, The Baker...
Review by Ashley Lister

C is for Coeds
Review by Ashley Lister

Cream: The Best of ERWA
Review by Ashley Lister

Cream: The Best of ERWA
Perceptions by Cervo

Coming Together for the Cure
Review by Lisabet

Review by Ashley Lister

F is for Fetish
Review by Ashley Lister

Got a Minute?
Review by Ashley Lister

He's on Top
Review by Ashley Lister

Love on the Dark Side
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Lust: ...Fantasies for Women
Review by Ashley Lister

The Mammoth Book Vol 6
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Naughty Spanking Stories
Review by Ashley Lister

Quickies 1
Review by Angelika Devlyn

She's on Top
Review by Ashley Lister

Sixteen of the Best
Review by Ashley Lister


Amorous Woman
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Boss
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Burning Bright
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Call Me By Your Name
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Ashley Lister

Dark Designs
Review by Ashley Lister

Equal Opportunities
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Angelika Devlyn

Review by Angelika Devlyn

Gothic Blue
Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Ashley Liste

The Lords of Satyr: Nicholas
Review by Helen E. H. Madden

Love Song of the Dominatrix
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Review by Angelika Devlyn

Riding the Storm
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Silver Collar
Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Ashley Lister

Suite Seventeen
Review by Ashley Lister

Sweet as Sin
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Tiffany Twisted
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Top of Her Game
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Whalebone Strict
Review by Ashley Lister

Wife Swap
Review by Gary Russell

Wings of Madness
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Gay Erotica

Historical Obsessions
Review by Erastes

Homosex: 60 Years of Gay...
Review by Erastes

Mammoth Book of New Gay...
Review by Erastes

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Lesbian Erotica

Iridescence:...Lesbian Erotica
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Sex Guides

The Path of Service
Review by Ashley Lister

Secrets of Porn Star Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Touch Me There
Review by Ashley Lister


Concertina: An Erotic Memoir...
Review by Rob Hardy

Daddy's Girl
Review by Ashley Lister

Dirt for Art's Sake
Review by Rob Hardy

Entangled Lives
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Impotence: A Cultural History
Review by Rob Hardy

I, Goldstein: My Screwed...
Review by Rob Hardy

In Praise of the Whip
Review by Rob Hardy

Insatiable: ...Porn Star
Review by William S. Dean

Letters of a Portuguese Nun
Review by Rob Hardy

Mississippi Sissy
Review by Rob Hardy

Ron Jeremy
Review by Rob Hardy

Virgin: The Untouched...
Review by Rob Hardy

The Year of Yes
Review by Rob Hardy