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'08 Authors Insider Tips


Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Epublishing: A Different Way
Choosing an Epublisher
Your Milage May Vary
Understand Your Contract!
Reasonable Expectations


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
The Publishing Biz
Critiquing: To Give and ...
Commerical vs. Literary...
Antiformalism for Fun &...
So You Want to Write a Novel
The Story Idea
Planning Your Novel...


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
5 Steps to Success
Inspirational
Opening Passages
Let's Get Critical
Writer's Block
Learning Lessons


Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Be a Finisher ...
Listen to Your Characters
Conferences: Act Now ...
Starting an Erotic Story
Exercises & Writing Prompts
Revising & Rewriting
Copy Editing
The Manuscript Critique
How to Submit Your Work
Reading as Craft


Guest Appearances

Adventures in e-Publishing
by Lisabet Sarai

For the Love of Man
by Laura Baumbach

How to...Influence Editors
by Alison Tyler

Marketing your e-Book
by Brenna Lyons


2008 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Role Play
Busy Doing Nothing
Picture of a Fish & Chip...
What I Did With My Summer


Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Naughty Cookies...
Tie Me Up, Please …
The Smut-Writer’s Holiday
Never Trust the Narrator ...
Compare and Contrast
Following the Pen
Naked at the Farmers Market
I’m Easy, But I’m No Slut
Good Girl Gone Bad
Pleasures of the Dark Side
Slow, Spare and Sexy


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Raising Daughters
Jamie Lynn
Utopias
Lust
The Good Old Days
Election '08
Traditional Marriage
Campaign 2008
Free Will


Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Masturbating on SSRIs
Sex and Disability
Besides Ourselves
Adjusting our Contrast


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Sex Is All Metaphors
Turn-ons and Squicks
Sexual Truth
Fickle Muse
Porn, Erotica & Romance


Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Alison Tyler
Ashley Lister
Debra Hyde
Donna George Storey
Jeremy Edwards
Kristina Wright
Rachel Kramer Bussel


Erotic Hot Spots
by William S. Dean
Interview with Tilly Greene
Interview with Devyn Quinn


Getting Graphic
with William S. Dean
New Times for Readers...
The Future in Words ...
Interview with Fantagraphics


On Writing Erotica

The Accidental Pornographer
by Lisabet Sarai

The End of Innocence
by Lisabet Sarai

Get Them Off in High Style
Helena Settimana

So, You Want To Write Erotica?
by Hanne Blank


Web Gems
Hot Movies For Her

Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star:

A Woman, Sex and Morality in Modern Japan
by William Johnston

Book Review by Donna George Storey

 

Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, StarWe’ve all seen one of the movies or at least heard the story. You know, the one about the crazy Japanese chick who strangled her lover with her sash, sawed off his penis with one of those super-sharp Ginzu knives, then wandered around Tokyo for several days with her favorite part of the corpse’s anatomy tucked in her obi because she couldn’t bear to be parted from it. It’s enough to make any man cringe and any woman admit that “girl power” can be taken just a bit too far.

The story of Sada Abe (or Abe Sada in the Japanese-style) still captures the imagination of the Japanese and the world, thanks in part to Oshima Nagisa’s 1976 film In the Realm of the Senses (a loose translation of the Japanese “The Rampage of Love”). I first saw this movie in a packed art house theatre in Washington D.C.’s trendy Georgetown with, of all people, my mother. I’d just returned from my first stay in Japan. It was probably the only time I’ll ever see such a sexually explicit film complete with the reaction of an audience of strangers—mostly euw-icky groans at some of the more creative sexual acts Sada and her lover Ishida Kichizo come up with. It’s also the only adult film I’ve seen so far (and admittedly I’m hardly an expert) that delivers such a complex historical and political message. At least that’s what I told my mother, to distract both of us from an uncomfortable discussion of the sex. Still, the most memorable scene of the movie for me—excepting the one where Kichizo inserts an egg in Sada’s vagina and she clucks like a hen—is the image of a man who is neglecting all duty for love, walking against a tide-like platoon of Japanese soldiers marching off to Manchuria.

Come on, Ma, surely that moment alone lifts the film above pure pornography into the realm of art?

Yet, while history seems to have found a special place for Abe Sada, I myself wasn’t all that interested in her. The story struck me as sensational, yet another way to cast Japanese sexuality as bizarrely Other. Recently, however, I came upon a book that changed my mind about Abe Sada’s story: William Johnston’s Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star: A Woman, Sex and Morality in Modern Japan. Johnston is an academic, which means his book, although written in engaging prose, is full of citations and footnotes. But it also means we can study a fascinating primary source in the transcript of Sada’s interrogation by the police. With so many films, plays, stories and giggling whispers circulating about the knife-wielding geisha since the crime was committed in 1936, Johnson’s book provides English-speaking readers the chance to hear her story in her own words for the first time. This alone makes the book worth reading.

Equally fascinating is the biographical and historical context Johnston provides.
We learn how date rape accelerated Sada’s natural inclination to flout society’s rules for proper female behavior, and gain many insights into the sex trade through the ups and downs of her career as geisha, mistress and prostitute. Along the way, she discovered her own capacity for sexual pleasure after a decade of servicing men and began to insist that her lovers satisfy her (go, girl!). Under the patronage of a kind older man, she hoped to clean up her life when she took a job as a waitress at Ishida Kichizo’s restaurant, but the immediate sexual chemistry between the two derailed her dreams of good-girl respectability forever.

As the title promises, we also get a broader cultural sense of sex and morality in Japan in the first half of the twentieth century. Amusing but somehow poignant details bring the past to life. For example, the head judge at Abe Sada’s trial, Hosoya Keijiro, was concerned that the other judges would be sexually aroused by the transcript of her interrogation—as was he. In typically thoughtful Japanese fashion, he made discreet inquiries as to when the men would be responsible for bathing the children, since that meant their wives were menstruating and unavailable to satisfy their husband’s sexual needs. He then withheld the distribution of the report until the fellow judges would have access to a respectable outlet for any erotic urges. Although cloaked in academic seriousness, Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star provides exactly the glimpse into the private lives of history’s players that makes for a very good read.

One of the most intriguing parts of the story was the court’s reasons for sentencing Abe to a mere six years in prison for a premeditated murder. She was even released early for good behavior making the length of her imprisonment only five years, including her incarceration during the questioning and trial. The judges cited the medical experts’ opinion that Sada was suffering from mental weakness due to an oversensitivity to sex that paralyzed her moral sensibility—this apparently was enough to avoid the death sentence. As for the victim, the handsome Kichizo, chief judge Hosoya wrote:

“Without consideration for his family or household, he engaged in sexual excess for over ten days with the defendant, making himself the subject of sexual indulgences, a plaything for the defendant’s whims. Without restraint he fulfilled her desires. In this way, it is impossible to overlook how [the victim] was central in causing this crime.”

Be careful gentleman—if you get your dick lopped off by your girlfriend, as the example of John Wayne Bobbit confirms, judges and juries are inclined to decide you deserved it.

Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star does indeed give us a thoughtful perspective on a celebrated sex scandal, but beneath the cultural and historical differences, we can also recognize the timeless human desire for love and sexual pleasure as well as the inevitable societal restraints that twist these natural urges into sometimes bizarre forms. The book ends with Sada expressing a hope that others will understand her life and her motivations, which are not quite as the experts or the press have interpreted them. Over seventy years later, Johnston’s biography may finally have helped her achieve that goal.

Donna George Storey
August 2008


Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star

(Columbia University Press, October 20, 2004; ISBN-10: 023113052X)
Available at: Amazon.com  / Amazon UK  / Powell's Books


______
© 2008 Donna George Storey. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission.


About the Author: Donna George Storey taught English in Japan and Japanese in the United States and has finally found the work of her dreams writing erotica. If you’re really nice, she’ll bake you a batch of her Venetian cookies, with layers of marzipan, jam and chocolate, that take a ridiculous amount of time to make and are (almost) better than sex. Her work has been published in dozens of journals and anthologies including Clean Sheets, Fishnet, Best American Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica and Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica.
Her first novel, Amorous Woman—a semi-autobiographical tale of an American woman’s love affair with Japan, Japanese food and lots of sexy men and women along the way—was published by Neon/Orion. It’s currently available at Amazon and Amazon UK, and from her web site, DonnaGeorgeStorey.com.
For more of her musings on sensual pleasure and creativity stop by her blog:  Sex, Food and Writing.



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'08 Movie Reviews

Almost Perfect
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The Fold
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Two
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Fallen
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'08 Book Reviews

Anthologies

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Best Fantastic Erotica
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Best Women's Erotica '08
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Bound Brits (ebook)
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Deep Inside: Extreme ...
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Hide and Seek
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Hurts So Good
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J is for Jealousy
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K is for Kink
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Lust Bites
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Open for Business
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Possession
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Rubber Sex
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Rubber Sex
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Seriously Sexy
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Sex & Candy
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The Shadow of a... (poetry)
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Spanked
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Tasting Her
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Tasting Him
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Tasting Him
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White Flames
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Yes, Ma'am: Male Submission
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Yes, Sir: Female Submission
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Novels

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Demon by Day
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Gemini Heat
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Gothic Heat
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The Hidden Grotto Series
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The House of Blood
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In Too Deep
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In Too Deep
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Incognito
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Nicholas
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One Breath at a Time
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Out of the Shadows (ebook)
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Phantasmagoria
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Reckless
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Seduce Me
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Seduced by the Storm
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The Wicked Sex
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Gay Erotica

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Best Gay Romance '08
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Lesbian Erotica

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The Night Watch
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Non-Fiction

America Unzipped
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Best Sex Writing '08
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Bonk: The Curious Coupling
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The Book of Love
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Casanova: Actor Lover ...
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Dishonorable Passions
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Flagrante Delicto (photos)
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The Flesh Press
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Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star
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The Humble Little Condom
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Instant Orgasm (sex guide)
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Man O Man! Writing M/M...
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