Success Is The Same Thing As Failure


Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I’ll write purposely terrible erotica and send it in to legitimate publishers under a fake name. I do this because I am a weirdo, and because I have made a hobby out of collecting rejection letters from confused, and more than likely, indignant magazine editors and web masters who are just trying to do their jobs.

Well, earlier this week, I sent out a story titled ‘The Three Rings Of Passion’– about a circus clown who teaches a foot juggler how to tie poodle-shaped balloons– to a purveyor of tasteful porn named ‘Ms. Naughty’ (this was all documented in an earlier post, which– for context– I encourage you to read right HERE). I haven’t heard back from her yet. However…

In order to maximize the number of responses I get, I tend to send my stories out to multiple media sources. One of the places I chose for this particular piece was ‘Afterdark Online‘ (NSFW), a site that is, in their own words a “source for COOL sexy romance & HOT erotic stories”. Further, I submitted my piece under the subheading ‘Naughty Romance Tuesdays‘, a specific call for “…stories with a purpose of two or more people to have a sexual encounter. They even included some possible scenarios for inspiration:

  • A simple blind date at a corner restaurant, leading to a romantic, hot encounter
  • A simple love-at-first-sight leading to something more.
  • An office romance which leads to an unofficial meeting in the storage room.
  • Maybe there’s just more offer than a dinner and a movie; do something very naughty.


There were some other pre-requisites for Naughty Romance Tuesday. In lieu of a cover letter, I had to write up a short bio for my fake author (in this case, I picked the name Kurt Sharpley), so this is what I gave them:


Kurt Sharpley was born to write erotic romance. He has been authoring smutty filth for ten years now*, and is confident he’s finally ready to make the big time.

His eventual goal is to quit Hot Dog On A Stick once and for all. Not that it’s a bad job, but his boss, Deborah, has been unfairly inflexible with the schedule. Like it’s HIS fault he’s still weak from the gastric bypass surgery.

Kurt looks forward to making the world shiver and jitter.

*Including longer works such as “Dog Milk”, “Under the Pool”, and “Yukon Do It” (about a pair of sexy Inuits who get “cozy” on a bed of pemmican). These works are also available to be published.


Also, submissions needed to be at least 1000 words long (I added a few), and follow this set of guidelines:

 The erotic scenario could be anything, but the theme must define romance. We prefer to keep it erotic, since that is the content we are looking for. All short stories must be HEA (happily ever after) or HFN (happy for now), and it could involve straight couples, gay couples, poly, or ménage, so as long there is a romance theme in the story.

No problem there; the whole point of this little project is to amass those sweet rejection letters, so most of Afterdark’s precious rules didn’t really apply to me. I submitted my horrible erotic literature, and only had to wait two days for their response:



Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 2.34.43 PM


Accepted? Published? Many writers spend years trying to publish their works, and this is how it happens to me? BY ACCIDENT? I can honestly say I never really planned for this eventuality.

Again, the story is about a circus clown that teaches a foot juggler how to tie balloons into poodle shapes. It contains no sex, no romance, no couples (gay or straight), no polyamorousness, no ménages (of trois or otherwise), and a brief lecture on energy conservation. Because: IT IS NOT EROTICA.

Clearly, I figured, this must be some kind of mistake.

Well, as it turns out, NOPE. (link is NSFW)

I have no explanation as to how this thing got published. It could be that the site’s editor just didn’t read the piece, or maybe he or she just gets turned on by some baffling stuff. Either way, I HAD to respond.


Dear Afterdark Online—

Thank you so much for publishing my piece titled ‘The Three Rings of Passion’. Now I can finally quit Hot Dog On A Stick! My boss, Deborah, is going to be so peeved (I was scheduled for a triple-shift, PLUS it’s my week to clean the 200-gallon boiler). I guess stuck-up, snooty Deborah is going to have to find a babysitter and finally get her hands dirty.

When can I expect payment? Today is preferred, but as long as I get the money by the end of the week, I’ll be fine (I can afford to skip a dinner or two since the gastric bypass surgery didn’t take).

Once again, thank you so much for your faith in my work. I’d love to know what it was specifically that you found titillating. Could you send me some feedback? Even better, I’d love a couple of pull-quotes from you for when I publish my first anthology (I’m thinking of calling it either ‘Ero-tickled Fancy’, ‘Groin Stories’, or ‘Kurt Sharpley’s Big Book of Arousing Yarns). Let me know!

Your new partner,

Kurt Sharpley

hot dog on a stick



That’s it for now, but stay tuned for updates. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to go celebrate my first piece of published erotica by eating a chicken salad.


About Josh Flaum

Occasionally, I will buy a shirt with horizontal stripes and have immediate regrets.

2 responses to “Success Is The Same Thing As Failure”

  1. Naomi Leonard says :

    Did you just Andy Kaufman the erotica industry?! Dirty genius.

  2. Kate Houle says :

    I love this Josh. You are crazy and amazing. 🙂 Kurt Sharply may be the Ted L. Nancy of this generation.

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