Recently, under the pseudonym John Friendly, I wrote to E.L. James (the famed author of the ’50 Shades of Grey’ trilogy), asking for her professional opinion. She has yet to respond, though I imagine I will be hearing from her any day now. In the meantime, I figured it couldn’t hurt to pursue other avenues in order to make contact.
So I wrote to her literary agent, Valerie Hoskins.
Dear Valerie Hoskins–
First off, am I allowed to call you by your first name? Do agents have titles, like “Esquire” or “Commander”? I’m fairly new to the business, so if I have breached any etiquette, please understand I mean no offense.
My name is John Friendly, and I have decided to write erotic fiction for a living. I couldn’t help but notice that you represent E.L. James– one of the great erotic fictionists of our time. So in getting down to brass tacks, I’d like to ask you two questions:
1. Are you looking for new clients? I am in need of representation, as I have written thousands of erotic short stories that are READY for publication. Trust me, we will make a bundle together. These things are STEAMY.
2. Could you make sure the following letter gets to E.L. James? I am a huge fan, and am looking for some helpful hints to hone my craft. You should feel free to read it as well– it contains an excerpt of my work, which I am sure you will find titillating. (GO HERE TO READ THE ORIGINAL LETTER)
Thanks so much,
Being the utter professionals that they are, the agency responded precipitously.
You wrote to us recently regarding representation. Unfortunately, we are unable to be of any help at the moment as we have a full client list.
Just so that you are clear, though we represent EL James, this is a one off. We do not represent books, nor do we do erotic literature.
I am sorry it has taken so long to reply but we are inundated with requests for representation.
Being a professional myself, I wrote back immediately.
Dear Sara Moore,
I know exactly how you feel. I get inundated with all sorts of things, mostly because of my job at the aquarium. Last week, I was inundated with a skin parasite I got from rubbing up against the squids. It could have been worse; a co-worker of mine once had something lay an egg in his upper lip, and now he can’t eat with his mouth anymore. You just never know.
And please don’t feel the need to apologize for taking so long to reply. I understand you are a very busy person. Besides, I only waited three days. Sometimes it takes me longer than that to finish a Sudoku. It’s water under the bridge, as far as I’m concerned.
Now, I know you’ve said you’re not taking on any more clients, and that you don’t actually represent books or deal in erotic literature. But my friend Barbara, who is a professional Mommy Blogger, told me that the key to this business is persistence, so I have decided to give it another shot.
If you agree to represent me, you won’t be disappointed. My erotica is the real deal. I have written thousands of kinky stories that are guaranteed to make the world jitter with desire. But don’t take my word for it– check out this excerpt of my latest work, titled “Night Smooches“, a sensual tale of unstoppable vampire lust. You’d better buckle yourself in, because this is some randy stuff.
NIGHT SMOOCHES, CHAPTER 1 — THE AWAKENING
Ding-Dong the Vampire pushed away the lid to his coffin, and it dropped to the castle floor with a clatter. The moon was full in the sky, and Ding-Dong’s hunger was agonizing. Somewhere deep in the bowels of the distant Murk Forest, a werewolf howled. AWOOOO!
Ding-Dong looked to the far corner of the bed-chamber. Underneath a veil of spider-webs, Tristanna Starlove’s coffin lay shut; she was still at rest. Radiant as she was, Tristanna was the sleepiest vampire Ding-Dong had ever known.
“Tristanna? Tristanna, my sweet?” called Ding-Dong, as he pulled on some pants and tied a cape around his neck. “Wake up, my dearest flower. For it is time to feed.”
Slowly, Tristanna’s coffin lid swung open. She emerged gracefully, wearing rubber leggings, a feather boa, and a lacy yellow nightie that draped over her exquisite body like drool.
Tristanna arched her back and stretched her arms skyward. “Good evening, Ding-Dong my love”, she said.
“Good evening, darling heart.” Ding-Dong grabbed Tristanna by the waist, and leaned in. They sucked each other’s blood.
“Your blood is divine”, Ding-Dong said. “It tastes like the ocean.”
“And your blood tickles my fangs,” Tristanna said. “It’s tart and juicy, like a blueberry.”
They sucked each other’s blood again.
“Scrumptious,” said Ding-Dong. “But now we must feed. Are you ready to fly off into the night, my sweetest?”
“Must we?” said Tristanna. “Can’t we just stay here in the castle, wrapped in each other’s arms?”
“But my dear,” Ding-Dong said, “don’t you hunger?”
“Of course I hunger. I always hunger.”
“Me too! I always hunger too!” Ding-Dong exclaimed.
“Then I suppose we should away, my love, because we hunger so much,” said Tristanna.
“Yes we do,” said Ding-Dong. “We hunger and hunger.”
Ding-Dong extended his hand to Tristanna, and she clasped it tenderly. They sucked each other’s blood again.
Then, in a POOF of green smoke, they both turned into bats, and flittered into the night.
END OF CHAPTER 1
So what do you think? Pretty hot and heavy, right? When this story is finished, I will send you the full manuscript. Right now, I’ve only written up to page 1196, so there’s still a tiny bit more to do. Also, if you enjoyed what you read, I can shuttle you a few stories that are ready to go. The ones that probably have the most commercial potential are ‘Hamster Bath’, ‘Thunder Blubber’, and ‘The Sexy Hobbit’, which is a lot like the movie ‘Body Heat’, but with a Hobbit and a Goblin. It’s an against-all-odds romance with plenty of bondage, candle wax, and B-M-S-D.
The world is ready for my eroticism, Sara Moore. Are you?
Thank you in advance for your consideration. Sincerely,
Any word yet from E.L. James about my letter? I notice you don’t use periods between her first two initials– could that have held things up?
Let me know,
Taking the pseudonym ‘John Friendly’, the following is a letter I wrote to E.L. James (the author of the very popular “50 Shades of Grey” books), asking for advice. I will let you know if she ever responds.
Dear E.L. James–
First off, may I say that I am truly a huge fan. I’ve read the entire ’50 Shades of Grey’ trilogy at least five times over, and am eagerly anticipating your newest book (BTW– any titles in the works? I have some ideas if you need to pinball). My point is, what you have done for modern erotica will never be forgotten. Just the simple act of writing to you is making me extremely nervous, but from what I’ve seen on your website you seem fairly approachable, so here goes:
My name is John Friendly, and I am an aspiring fiction writer, specifically in the arena of literary erotica. I have written other types of stories, but let’s face it, who wants to read a historical biography or a book about trains when it’s just as easy to get your hands on some tasteful smut? I’d read erotic literature all day long if my boss at the aquarium would let me. He says I need to focus around the eel tank. But what does he know? Like I’m supposed to take advice from a guy who lost his lower motor functions to a Lemon Shark.
Anyway, I’ve authored quite a few erotic tales of my own (none published), and I’d love to get your opinion. Here is a sampling of a story I wrote called “Pennies for Dinner”. Tell me what you think:
PENNIES FOR DINNER, CHAPTER 1 — THE HOMECOMING
Stanley Davenshire stepped out of the storm, ravenous. He’d had a hard day of work selling basketballs, and needed something to satisfy his craving. He shook the rain off his jacket, then plopped his wet hat on a brassy hook that jutted from the wall.
“Stacey, I’m home!” he cried. “And my stomach is gurgling like a raging beast.” Stanley gripped a lock of his long, golden hair with a hardened fist and squeezed some of the rain out. He let it drip onto the Victorian hardwood with a BLOP! PLIP! PLOP!
“Dinner’s almost ready,” Stacey yelled from the kitchen. “And boy, are you in for a treat.”
Stacey Devenshire emerged from the doorway wearing a bright yellow shirt, purple pants, orange gloves, and a neon pink scarf that separated her hair into stiff pigtails. In her hands, she held a covered silver platter.
“You look hot and sexy,” said Stanley. “Like all the colors of the rainbow.”
Stacey smiled knowingly. “How was work today?”, she asked.
“Work was great,” Stanley said, licking his lips. “I sold a million basketballs”. He removed his sopping-wet sweater and sat down at the table shirtless.
“Well, then you deserve this.” Stacey removed the dome cover from the platter, revealing over twenty dollars worth of shiny pennies, fresh from the oven.
“Mmmm, smells delish,” Stanley said.
“It is delish,” Stacey said, and scooped a pile onto Stanley’s plate. Then she gave herself a hot serving, and sat down to start munching.
Stanley got as many pennies as he could onto his fork, and shoveled them into his mouth.
“Yum!” Stanley said.
“Yummy!” Stacey said.
“My favorite!” Stanley said.
“Yummo!” said Stacey.
“They’re scrumptious!”, said Stanley.
“Yum yum!” said Stacey.
“Num yummy!” said Stanley.
“Yummy yum yum!” said Stacey.
“Yum nums!” said Stanley.
“Yummy!” said Stacey.
“Yummy!” said Stanley
END OF PART I
That’s all I have so far. Soon to come ‘PART II: Dice for Dessert’.
So what do you think? Is it ready to set the world’s groins on fire? The only feedback I’ve gotten up to now is from a friend of mine who suggested that selling a million basketballs in one day might not be believable. But I’m sticking to my guns– plain and simple, I feel like a guy who can’t get off his duff to sell a million basketballs doesn’t deserve hot pennies for dinner.
Anyway, If you like that story, I have written thousands more that I can send you. Other titles include: “Dirty Ham Omelet”, “Milk the Cat”, and my personal favorite, “50 Grades of Shay”, in which a young college student named Shay Irons accidentally enrolls herself in 50 pre-med classes in just one semester. She must pass every course, or risk expulsion from doctor school. And if that isn’t intense enough, there’s also plenty of spankings and BSDM on every page. I’ve already sent a copy to your agent, but I’d love to hear what you have to say.
So please write me back! Your opinion means a lot to me, and who knows– you might just be discovering the next E.L. James.
Does my name sound erotic enough to you? I’ve been thinking about changing it to give people an idea of what they’re in for. So far, all I’ve come up with are ‘Chuck Meatley’, ‘Hugh Dendum’, and ‘Dewy Splatter’. Feel free to chime in on this.
This past weekend, a group of us drove out to wine country to celebrate the birthday of a close friend. The plan was to do a tasting at a vineyard-slash-winery in Temecula, then eat an early dinner at a fancy-pants restaurant on the premises.
Now, I realize in writing “the plan was“, it may appear as if I’m setting the story up to take some sort of calamitous turn: We got lost. We got attacked by a hitchhiker. We got shellfish poisoning, and spent the rest of the weekend shitting our guts out in a Best Western. This actually isn’t the case. Rest assured, everything went exactly as planned.
A winery tasting is, after all, a fairly uncomplicated process: you tell your “Pourers” what you want to try, and after correcting anything you’ve mispronounced, they dutifully fill your glass with their multifarious vintages, all the while filling your head with a trillion wine-related facts.
Did you know that fermentation is a thing that happens?
Were you aware that the ideal temperature for blah-de-blah is something-something degrees?
You should always hold your glass by the stem, because if you don’t, the wine goblins will come to you in the night-time and yank out your bones.
This routine is repeated ad infinitum with the understanding that by the end of the day, you will have forgotten everything you’ve tasted and everything you’ve been told.
We each tried at least six different wines in the tasting room, then sat down to a delicious meal overlooking a lush, hilly morsel of electric green countryside, sharing another four-to-six bottles between us.
After a brief stopover at our hotel to check in (and have a few more quick drinks), we walked the half mile to Old Town Temecula: a touristy, Wild-Westy little district flush with century-old red brick and hardwood storefronts– whimsical shops selling locally-made candies and soaps, olive oils and cheeses, knick-knacks and works of art– and of course, dozens and dozens of bars.
Wandering around town, three things became very clear:
- This was a place for advanced drinkers; there was no sign of the New Orleans- or Fort Lauderdale-style shrieking whoo-hooers that high-five and make devil signs while staggering down the streets red-eyed and shirtless. People were definitely drunk, but they all held it together like champions.
- The locals are extremely friendly; they delight in giving advice and recommendations, and are eager to start up conversations. This is partially because they are genuinely nice people, but mostly because…
- Temecula is filled with ‘Swingers’: swollen, middle-aged couples looking to ramp up their sex lives by trading partners the way others might trade recipes or Pokemon cards. After a few awkward interactions, I was shocked that people didn’t just carry around goldfish bowls filled with keys, or swizzle their drinks with tiny dildos.
Our first destination was a small tasting room the birthday girl had wanted to check out. Huddled together on a cushioned bench, we sampled seven different wines in about fifteen minutes, while an aging hipster played Band of Horses songs on a massive, mysterious twelve-stringed instrument that looked like a cross between a sitar and a rocket launcher. Then we headed to another bar where, notably, we started drinking full glasses of wine.
The place was pretty packed, and I ended up cramped in a corner, guarding coats and purses while trying not to wobble off my stool. At this point, I had lost track of everything I’d had to drink, but was certainly nearing that threshold of intoxication in which clumsy, emotional outpourings become a real possibility. Naturally, it was in this moment that I was approached by an unhappy Giant.
Even sitting on the stool, I could tell that he was as least 6’4″. He was in his late 60’s, and wore an old army jacket and a Vietnam Veteran’s hat covered in silvery pins.
“Where you from?” he asked.
“Los Angeles. We’re just here for a few days.”
Silence. The Giant took a swig of beer. I noticed he was missing a finger.
“Are you local?” I asked.
“Oh, yeah. Been living here ever since I got back from the war in Vietnam. Killed thirty, maybe forty a’ them sons a’ bitches over there. I don’t know. Kinda lost track.”
This was bound to be a one-sided conversation. Anyone who initiates a discussion by telling you how many people they’ve murdered probably isn’t looking for lively banter. Not that I could have obliged; remember, this is who this Giant was trying to communicate with:
Next, he pulled at a chain around his neck, coaxing a dense, brassy pendant from under his jacket. He held it up with the hand missing the finger, revealing a shell casing from a 50-calibur machine gun.
“I keep this as a reminder,” the Giant said.
“Of what?” I asked, perhaps unwisely.
“Of how soft a human being’s skull really is.”
More silence. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what to say to this truly scary man, who had “lost track” of all the people he had killed in much the same way that I had “lost track” of all the wine I’d had to drink.
Just then, a woman stepped in between us and extended her hand to the Giant.
“Thank you for your service,” she said.
“You’re welcome,” he said, and walked away.
That’s all there was to it. Just one little “thank you for your service”, and the Giant was off to frighten somebody else with his horrifying death count. This woman was a genius.
She introduced herself, and then introduced her husband, who hugged her very tightly from behind and rested his chin on her shoulder. Clad in cashmere and leather, they seemed like a friendly, if not slightly swollen middle-aged couple. She asked where I was from, and recommended a few bars close by.
Her husband hugged her tighter and smiled.
She took my phone, and typed in the names of a few lesser-known vineyards that she had enjoyed, along with directions.
And her phone number.
Her husband pressed his groin deep into her buttocks and smiled again, so wide I could see the sweat sparkle on his upper lip.
And here I was: Out of the frying pan, and into the Temecula Swinger’s Club.
Thank God for my friends, who swooped in with an abrupt “it’s gettin’ on, we gotta go”. We high-tailed it away from that place (and from those nice, puffy, horny people), then found an open-air night club and danced. Soon afterwards, I ordered what I can only refer to as a “forget-me-whiskey”, and the rest of the evening is lost to me. I remember nothing.
But my friends do. Because it was my friends who made sure I got back to the hotel, and who forced water down my throat and put me to bed. It was my friends that saved me from the kindly perverts itching for a three-way, and best of all, it was my very, very good friends who invited me out to this wine-lovers paradise. What can I say to such perfect friends? What words are the perfect words? I don’t know. The best I can do is this:
I love you.
I am grateful.
Thank you for your service.
I’m with a friend in a deeply murky craft cocktail lounge, one that is clearly part of a new trend here in Los Angeles. There are no bartenders in a place like this; instead, well-groomed mixologists use a panoply of archaic metal tools to prepare drinks containing Indian spices, garden-grown herbs, and bizarre, unpronounceable liquors. Spirits here are sold at a premium, but what with all the muddling and the careful hand-crafting, each cocktail takes at least fifteen minutes to put together; so in the end, is it time and not quality that makes these drinks truly expensive.
I am quaffing a 20-year-old gin that has been filtered through lamb’s wool and infused with yellow curry and Asian pears (it’s all I could afford). Through the darkness, my friend complains to me that he’s completely missed out on the internet dating scene.
“There was a real stigma attached to the online thing before I was married”, he says, “but now everyone’s doing it. Like it’s totally normal.”
He takes a sip of a rare Portuguese vodka chilled with ice crushed using a pestle and mortar, and garnished with flavorful sprigs of hardened gorilla skin.
Then he says: “Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife. I’m very happy. I just wish I could have tried it. You don’t have to go mingle at any bars or stupid parties anymore. The girls are all right there in front of you in neat little rows. It would have been great to browse around, send some quick messages, then date a whole bunch and have tons of sex.”
My friend, of course, has nailed it. That is exactly what the online dating experience is like: thousands of undiscriminating, sexually ravenous women who are easily wooed into no-strings-attached relationships with just a few “quick messages”. There’s a sexual revolution going on out there; a hot, wet, anything-goes fuck-fest. It’s like the 60’s times a billion.
If you haven’t tried internet dating, I highly recommend it. There is no simpler, more gratifying way to meet people. Now, if reaching out to a multitude of voiceless, sometimes faceless strangers makes you a little nervous, not to worry– I’ve been doing this for a while now, and have become something of an expert. In fact, I’ve put together a couple of short field guides to nurse first-timers through the process.
You’re all very welcome.
JOSH FLAUM’S GUIDE TO ONLINE DATING — LADIES ONLY
You sure are looking fine. Don’t think I haven’t noticed how well that dress fits you; how your lipstick matches your shoes; how the smell of your body lotion is just strong to trigger my Pavlovian drool mechanism. Man oh man, you are really well put together.
My question is Why Bother?
For a single woman, these are amazing times. You no longer have to get all gussied up to attract a potential mate. The truth is, you don’t even have to leave the house. The internet is your oyster. Just sign up for an online dating service (eg. E-Matchers, Old N’ Lonesome, Fat Christian Motherlode), then toss on some yoga pants, break out the Sun Chips, and follow these simple steps:
STEP 1: PICK A USERNAME
It’s imperative you pick a name that will grab your date’s attention. Typically, it’s best to employ a combination of occupation, passion, astrological sign and birth date, or simply use your first name and add on a lively suffix, (like -asaurus, or -tabulous, or -alicious).
Remember, your username is a window into your essential character, so choose wisely.
JennAlicious = You are delicious
XxXAriesGal330XxX* = You were born in March
AdventureChick117 = You like anal sex
*NOTE: The use of ‘X‘s in your name sends some fairly provocative signals, and is therefore highly encouraged.
STEP 2: COMPLETE YOUR PROFILE
This is your chance to tell a potential mate all about yourself (home town, family history, hobbies, likes and dislikes, etc.). Since most men will either skim this section or ignore it entirely, you’re better off just including the basics– body type, diet, and at least one of the following statements:
- “I feel awkward talking about myself”
- “I’m looking for a partner in crime”
- “I love to laugh”
Also, now would be the time to throw in a few random LOL’s and smileys. This is an effective way to show people that you are happy and have a sense of humor.
STEP 3: UPLOAD A PHOTO
Without a doubt, the most important aspect of online dating is your profile picture. Quite often, a good photo is all that’s necessary to motivate a man to initiate communication. This is no easy feat, but if you follow these steps, you’re guaranteed to shine:
- Choose a setting, preferably a car or bathroom.
- Lean forward.
- Using the insides of your arms, squeeze your cleavage until it bulges from the neckline of your shirt.
- Make a kissy face.
- Take a photo of yourself. HINT: Make certain at least part of the arm holding the camera remains visible.
If you’re uncomfortable with the above method, you can always use a photo of you and your pet. Just be sure to hold the animal up against your face tightly and flash as much of the whites of your eyes as you can. This performs the double-duty of 1) Giving men a glimpse of your maternal side and 2) Planting the subtle suggestion that you are NOT to be fucked with.
STEP 4: WAIT
That’s it! Any second now, the messages should start pouring in. With any given site, you can expect to receive around 12 communications for every 1 man that has an account.
Now go date! You earned it!
Men are easily intimidated by success. If you are wealthy, attended an ivy league school, or own a house, it’s best leave this information out. You especially want to avoid photos of yourself in which you’re: A) Climbing a mountain; B) Riding an elephant or a camel, or C) Accepting an award.
JOSH FLAUM’S GUIDE TO ONLINE DATING — FOR THE GENTS
Nice beards. Lookin’ pretty badass. Where do you work out?
Look, I’m gonna cut to the chase. It used to be that all you had to do was wink at a lady, and if she didn’t slap your face or drench you in her vodka and cranberry, you were in like Flynn.
That’s right, Errol fucking Flynn, a man who shot arrows and fought with swords back when people were awesome.
But the world has changed. Everything is upside down. Dare I say it? Things have gotten. So. Much. Better. Now, with just a few button clicks, you have access to literally millions of single women, none of whom can hit you or ruin your stripey Banana Republic shirt. All you gotta do is log on, and follow these simple steps:
STEP 1: PICK A USERNAME
Women are complicated, empathetic creatures, so it’s essential for your username to contain enough visual and emotional imagery to get their creative juices flowing. Here are some effective examples:
Names like these elicit a very clear mental picture, and will help to quell any confusion or doubt. But don’t struggle with it for too long. If you’re having trouble putting something together, just combine the name of a car with your favorite sport, and you’re golden.
STEP 2: COMPLETE YOUR PROFILE
For men under 5 feet 11 inches tall: Please skip this step and refer to the “Just Remember” section at the bottom of this guide.
For men 5’11” and over: This is your opportunity to tell the women of the world that you are the real deal. Write about your Pez collection, where you play beach volleyball, and how much money you made last year flipping houses. Then, throw in a quote from one of the Austin Powers movies. She’ll hang on every word. Also, it can’t hurt to include at least one of the following statements:
- “I feel awkward talking about myself”
- “I work hard, and I play hard”
- “I’m at the gym five days a week”
STEP 3: UPLOAD A PHOTO
As the great Errol Flynn once said, “A picture is worth a thousand words“. You can babble on about yourself all you want, but nothing will ever be quite as powerful as a quality photo. Now, you may be tempted to snap a shot of yourself volunteering at the burn ward or riding your Kawasaki Ninja, but in general, this is something you don’t want to over-think. All you need in order to achieve a perfect pic is to do the following:
- Position yourself in front of a mirror.
- Take your shirt off.
- Snap a photo. PRO TIP: Be sure to focus on your abs, not your face.
WARNING: Certain sites will have rules against showing too much skin (see MeekMate, NeverNude and Mormon Glory). If this is the case, just toss on a hoodie and stand by the ocean. Whatever you do, do NOT upload any photos of your Mom or your cat; most women will interpret these as an inward struggle for sexual identity.
STEP 4: COMMUNICATE
Now you’re ready to make a connection. Statistically, you can expect 1 response for every 80 or 90 messages you send out. I know this sounds like it will be incredibly time-consuming, but don’t worry– you’re not writing a dissertation. Just send her a quick “HEY” and a winky-face, and move on.
You’re all set! The ladies are out there; go woo them.
If you are under 5’11”, you will need to lie about about your height. Women see shortness as a kind of physical deformity– like thin lips, or a vestigial twin growing out of your neck. A woman could be under 5 feet tall herself– hell, she could be a Cabbage Patch Doll riding a plastic pony– and she’d still want her mate to loom over her like a gallows. If she sees that you’re short, her inner dialogue will go something like:
He’s cute, but 5’7″? I’ll have to carry him around in a Baby Björn. He’ll need to sit in a high chair when we go out to eat, and when we make love, I’ll have to be careful not to smoosh him like a ladybug. Plus, I’ll never be able to wear heels again.
So lie. Then, when you meet her in person, all you need to do is wear thick soles, have good posture, and be AMAZING. If you think it will help, I know a place that serves a mean forty-dollar scotch-tequila blended with black licorice, egg whites, and donkey blood.