Two wonderful minds working together. Perfect symmetry. Lizabet Surai and M.Christian, pulling together for the same cause; Planned Parenthood. M.Christian has decided to put together a collection of his stories in aid of this organisation. The stories are diverse and really quite astonishing in their range. But I can’t really say it better than Lizabet herself.
“I was thrilled when Chris agreed to assemble a collection of his stories for the Coming Together Presents series. As I worked on this book, I was reminded yet again what a creative and versatile writer he is. Coming Together Presents M.Christian ranges from the leather bars of San Francisco to the deserts of Mars. The characters include rock-and-rollers, dykes with attitude, horny office workers, tortured artists, inter-galactic lawyers, even Mona Lisa. The atmosphere is tough and gritty in one tale, lyrical in the next, and teasingly tongue-in-cheek in a third.”
One theme runs through the stories; desire in its many incarnations. Sometimes it’s dark desire; teetering on the forbidden. At other times it’s playful, at others it’s wistful; perhaps just a dipping in of the toe. You know the sort of thing; where you run away giggling.
And of course, I have my favourites…
WINK is a dialogue between two guys. Almost like a court room dramatisation; Lou questions the narrator about his sex life with curvy Shirley. Why won’t he get to the point? What is it he wants to know? Christian expertly teases us with his clever words; with the skill of a clever lawyer, he draws out the dialogue hypnotically until there’s no escape for his narrator. The teasing and the humour are the best parts of this story. We know that Lou is drawing us into thinking about the taboo. Something dirty; something forbidden. Finally, the narrator understands where Lou is going. Lou wants to know about butt sex with a woman. And when I say he wants to know; Lou wants to know everything. From how the narrator initiated it, to its conclusion. And most importantly, how does the narrator know that Shirley likes it; really likes it?
He tells him.
In GRIZZLY, Christian introduces us to a little known aspect of Queer culture. The Bears. I do know about the Bears. I’ve a friend who is one; big, hairy, sexy and gloriously male. So very different from the effete men that you usually come across in Queer culture. Not that there’s anything wrong with effete; it’s just not for me.
Here’s a bit about the Bears, from Wiki.
"The self-identification of gay men as Bears originated in San Francisco in the 1980s as an outgrowth of gay biker clubs like the Rainbow Motorcycle club, and then later the leather and “girth and mirth" communities. It was created by men who felt that mainstream gay culture was unwelcoming to men who did not fit a particular body norm (hairless and young) Also, many gay men in rural America never identified with the stereotypical urban gay lifestyle, and went searching for an alternative which more closely resembled the idealised blue collar American male image…"
Rocky is a Bear and he’s adored by his lover, Paul. But something isn’t quite right. Paul is afraid of the dark, erotic desire that Rocky brings out in him.
“Beneath this costuming he was a great, and very furry beast - and he turned Paul on, something fierce.”
That is how Paul sees Rocky as something primal; something feral, belonging to nature in its darkest sense. But what Paul is afraid of is himself; of letting go.
It takes months for Paul to think through his fears. Then one day, he knows; Rocky is coming back.
Paul’s cock is hard for the first time in weeks.
“All it had taken was to remember his grizzly ... and his powerful growl.”
In SMILE MONA, at last I understand the circumstances behind the enigmatic smile.
Christian writes a back story for La Giaconda. A story of a life stifled, without hope. Boredom and sadness. But now she has a reason to smile that small smile. She’s knows ecstasy; she knows its brilliant colours, its numinous sounds, its cascade of tastes, smells and the rapture of its wonderful touch. The Mona Lisa has been reborn. Perceptive genius that he was, Leonardo saw it in her face and painted it sensuously, in her haunting smile. Did the smile ever leave her face? Perhaps not; for she has a secret so great, that it is all hers. Her aging, coarse husband will never know it. The Mona Lisa has a secret that will see her through her lonely days and lonely nights.
In EVOLUTION, Christian explores the desire of change. No, not just the desire of change; an overwhelming need to change. Evolution or extinction; life or a slow death. It’s a stark choice, but sometimes those stark choices are all we have. In this story, Rocky and Willow have spent long days, nights, months, thinking out the changes that will make their lives complete.
First Rocky, then Willow. The change will be physically painful; there will be scars that are very real. The change will take great courage. But it is necessary.
Sunday morning to Sunday morning, fuck to fuck; the years pass, and slowly the changes are put into place. These aren’t the kind of changes that take place naturally in life. These changes take positive thought and action. Sometimes we have to be brave and face our demons, before we can be complete human beings; leading the lives we deserve, which are not necessarily the lives handed out to us at the beginning.
M.Christian’s stories are pitch perfect and there’s so many more; more than I’ve been able to mention here. Christian has dedicated his book to Planned Parenthood. It’s a cause he believes in. Here’s what he has to say about it.
"Yes, Planned Parenthood has become a kind of pariah, a pretend-it-doesn't exist organization, but this is why it needs as much financial and emotional support as it can get: they are fighting for everyone to have access to sexual information and reproductive health but also for women to be in control of their own bodies.
"But more importantly they are the resource for those who need them most, those who must face the truth of who they are, and if they truly can either have, or give someone else, a worthwhile life."
The U.K. has problems uncomfortably similar. We need those people who shout about the right to information; the right to an unbiased sexual education for our kids. And there is a definite need for folk across the generations to be properly informed about sexual health. As I write, Syphilis is on the increase; Chlamydia, an STI that can have no symptoms, causes infertility in women; it's often not diagnosed until it’s too late.
And as for parenthood;
From BBC News:
“The UK has the highest teenage birth rates in Western Europe - twice as high as in Germany, three times as high as in France and six times as high as in the Netherlands…
"The debate on how best to tackle teenage pregnancy has arisen again as latest figures show the rate in under-16s in England and Wales has increased. The government says it can do no more without the help of parents, while others are again calling for a broadening of sex and relationship education in schools.”