Patrick Califia’s “Macho Sluts”

Arsenal Pulp Press (2009)

I could go on and on about how important Patrick Califia’s Macho Sluts is to me. At 18 years old, it was the first book I ever bought that described, in dizzying, illustrious detail, queer women having SM sex. Actually, it was the first book I ever bought that described sex of any kind, so let’s say Califia was the first to introduce me to erotic lit. But there’s more:  Macho Sluts was the first book to introduce me to the word “leatherdyke.” It was the first to prove that the fantasies in my head were shared by others, and that, if I just hung in there, I probably wouldn’t feel so lonely in bed.

I just bought a copy of Macho Sluts for my Nook. I read these stories obsessively when I was younger, and just coming out as queer and punk, and then—look at that!—kinky.  I haven’t read the tales in this collection for years, but funny how sentence after sentence will ring true in my head, like I should have known the words that followed because they’re so familiar. Califia’s visuals, the voices, of all these seriously bad girls still exist in my subconscious. When I think about externals that have had influence on the woman I am today, on my sexuality, on my politics, there’s a very short list, but Macho Sluts sits high on it. So, here’s just a snippet—and it was hard to pick just one—from “Calyx of Isis.” Here are the words of Alex, who is the calmest, coolest, most deviant top ever looking to set up a very, very specific and very, very heavy scene for her submissive, Roxanne.

“I want a gang, a pack, a bunch of tough and experienced top women. I’ll leave the exact number up to you, but I don’t want just a threesome in a warm leatherette…I want to give them Roxanne, and if she makes me proud I want her to belong to me, wear my rings. If she still wants me. She might decide it’s too much, or maybe she’ll tumble for one of the other tops. I have to know where she’s at before I fall any more in love with her. I want somebody I can perfect with hard, constant training…So pretty and alive and responsive to me it will make all the other tops, boys and girls, gnaw on their arms. It’s makin’ me crazy, what I want.”

Get Macho Sluts anywhere—Amazon, BN, or your preferred bookseller.

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2 thoughts on “Patrick Califia’s “Macho Sluts”

  1. Errica says:

    MACHO SLUTS may be the most important, influential, meaningful erotica I’ve ever owned. I also discovered it at age 17-18, when a college friend (slightly older, much more experienced & comfortable in her sexuality) photocopied a couple stories for me, prompting me to special-order my own copy from the not-so-local Barnes & Noble.

    I think my friend sensed that I was more than just bi-while-in-college, more than just flirting-with-kink-to-look-adventurous. I’m incredibly grateful to her for her openness, her subtle and unofficial mentoring, and of course for her sharing of this book. I still have have my first edition copy, and I later passed on the photocopied stories to a younger woman I knew who had come out as bi, was developing her queer activism, and who was clearly interested in kink but had no real place to safely explore yet. I wonder if the writing ended up being as meaningful to her as it was to me.

    One of my favorite quotes, also from “The Calyx of Isis” (from Roxanne’s point of view):

    “Nevertheless, there was pleasure, enough to turn her into a squirmy little girl, so bad and dirty that she wanted people to bend her over, pull down her panties, put things up her ass, move them in and out, make her tell them how much she liked it and squeal for more.”

  2. angela says:

    Errica, thanks so much for commenting!

    How awesome is it, after how many years, to *finally* connect (sorta…e-connect, I guess) with someone who experienced Patrick’s novel around the same time I did?

    And your quote? Sublime. All I want to do is share passages now.

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