A good question would be does someone have to be naked to call it erotica? Skin is the largest organ and all sensation starts and ends with skin. Consider the Native context of skin, tattoos, leathers, furs, and you can see where all this fixation comes from. Next would be the mind, again all sensation, all thought, feelings, dreams, images, every spark and all intention go through the brain. Women will tell you that a man who listens, and listens well, is sexy and gets rewarded. But talking and communicating about sex, our needs and desires, is hard for most people. We find it hard to just spit it out and let our words stand there, naked and vulnerable. We are all sex experts in our own lives but it can still be difficult to talk about it with your partner. Practice, repetition and unconditional love saves the day. Our past experiences guide us, we don’t want to bring up certain things that may bring up other people and other times, we don’t want to get misconstrued (just screwed) and have our own words come back to bite us on the ass (no, you don’t want that—that is, unless you do).
The reason the visual is synonymous with erotic is because Men are Visual, and that’s really the answer to everything. Men like it so that’s the way it is, should be, don’t change it. But men could learn from women that it’s not just the plumbing, the design of our bodies, women will tell you it’s the wiring. Guys, just think electricity and those “holes” in the wall are only outlets/inlets and there’s a maze of wiring unseen in the architecture. Of course you know that but sometimes a little remedial work is necessary. I did not know that the clitoris had “legs” until last year, almost 40 years too late. And a woman’s boudoir is expected to be “well appointed” because as ruler of her domain, master of her universe, she can pluck the resonating strings and push the right buttons to all the proper wiring.
Erotica is in all media, all art. People experienced stimulation perhaps even to climax when listening to Jimi or Bird, and we assume Janis and Blondie reached their own on stage; just name your fave singer, band and era. Metal and punk and grunge ride waves of stimulation, jazz is the act thereof, and blues is based on all of it. What about the ladies going nuts over Elvis, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, Teddy Pendergrass, Al Green, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross and where does Justin Timberlake steal his moves from? Today’s music doesn’t do it for us OT’ers unless you are OG and then maybe you got it all over the young ones. DJ Beats and Meta-music are somehow connected, music of the spheres and neural pathways and technology (which seeks to emulate human-ness). There would be no New Age without Native culture, and what passes for New Age music accompanies every sensual massage, exercise or bonding moment. The Native courting flute (an actual erotic instrument) apparently hits all the right notes because it is now ubiquitous and mandatory when media depicts anything Native. I have seen Native eroticism in the heyday of 80’s Santa Fe, off-studio rooms with buffalo robes, mirrors, music and neon lit skulls, sweetgrass or sage burning. Consider why they call it a Man Cave, full of boy toys—no girls allowed unless invited, or safe back in the womb from the outside world yet controlling how much of the outside world is allowed in…Heaven, Nirvana.
When we get to photography, video and film, we enter a whole other realm, because no matter how “educational” these forms may be, they have been taken over by romance, sex and erotica. The same goes for the art that came first, stories, books and poetry, even the Bible and the Koran preach proper methodologies of love. Once you get the hang of communicating then why not go for the gusto, perhaps it is even a refinement of the original form. Erotica, you can say, finds the electricity and then pumps up the current and the volume.
Of course there’s the other side of erotica, where we get to see Quentin Tarantino’s foot fetish. Salma Hayek’s snake dance in From Dusk Till Dawn is one of the most erotic moments in cinema history (my girl friend told me!), but as in every Tarantino flick we then get the feet and the toes and here he gets it all, clamping all the way up past her bunion. Grmmph.
We all have our movie lists and would rent them for erotica marathons: Body Heat, 9 ½ Weeks, China Blue, Blue Velvet, Sin City 1 & 2, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Boogie Nights, Wild At Heart, Perdita Durango(Dance with the Devil), The Notorious Bettie Page, Unbearable Lightness of Being, In the Realm of the Senses. The nakedness in all those movies combined wouldn’t even make one film, and you can see my selection has not been updated since videotape but a Woman’s list would definitely be different from a Man’s. Try it with your partner, take turns, picking and watching movies—that is, then you can take turns.
I received a young Native poet’s first book to review, Skinwalking by Cole DeLaune (Turning Point, 2014). The back page declares: “Fierce and unusual, amazing, haunting, romantic, striking imagery and energy, beautiful, creepy and sexy…” but the work is not within my horizon, and could I give a review if I could not relate to it? The publisher had a one page insert that I took as “directions” which led me to view the movie Hiroshima mon Amour, termed the first post-war modern movie. Both film and book have erotic passages and I can see the appeal, the obsession, but while the publisher views Skinwalking as “an overall description of diaspora and dissolution, ennui, entropy, erosion, dislocation” and other societal excuses of “Native people disappearing into American society”—it’s more like American society disappearing into its own dissolution and ennui and dragging anyone who isn’t tied to the land or culture along into its post-colonial, post-modern black hole. But the publisher is right about these poems as “cultural collision and erotic desperation”.
As with any erotica, read Skinwalking in the bathtub, bubbles, aromatic oils, candles, rose petals, strawberries, chocolates, champagne or whatever beverage you will need in an appropriate glass. Naked with another person Naked… a Big Ass Dictionary (you’ll need it)…but you’ll probably use a Notebook, a gorilla water resistant laptop. With camera patched into multiple TVs in the background playing erotica not pornography, classic film noire B&W movies, and to match these poems, all of Andy Warhol’s movies and Hiroshima mon Amour. Have your friend bring a bag of surprises, latex, spandex, whipped cream, inflatables. The great erotic passage at the end of Hiroshima mon Amour should be required reading/reciting if you claim to be your own sex-pert. The sex in Skinwalking is between man and woman, man and wife, man and man, and who else it’s hard to say. That’s where the taking of turns reading the poems will help. If Skinwalking led me to here, then it was worth the effort, the end passage from Hiroshima mon Amour:
I just met you but I remember you. You fit my body like a glove. Who are you? You are destroying me. I was hungry, hungry for infidelity, for adultery, for lies and for death….I always have been. I had no doubt you would cross my path one day. I waited for you calmly with boundless impatience. Devour me. Deform me to your likeness, so that no one after you, will ever again understand the reason for so much desire. We’ll be alone my love. The night will never end. The day will never dawn again on anyone. Never again. At last. You’re still destroying me. You’re good for me. Who are you? You are destroying me. You’re good for me. You think you know…but no…you don’t know. You’re not quite dead yet. He’s going to kiss me and I’ll be lost.
‘Dr.’ Alex Jacobs
Santa Fe NM
April 3, 2015
“I’m not a real Doctor but I played one on the radio…Dr. X, Doc of Rock, Physician of Funk, the Godfather of NDN Soul.”