Having a blog, even a modestly successful blog, requires a staggering amount of maintenance. Besides the actual writing, there’s the endless promotion via social media, the networking among colleagues and brands, the responses to enthusiastic readers, and the occasional batting down of a troll. There is also the production and curation of imagery, which is as vital to many blogs as is the editorial content.
Especially a sex blog, like mine. I’ve done five photo shoots, the most recent occurring two weeks ago. The past few days, as I’ve been posting some of the new photos to my Instagram, I’ve found myself thinking, you know, this is kind of weird. It’s kind of weird that I’ve turned myself into a 52-year-old pin-up girl who shares details about her sex life — elegantly-packaged, less-is-more details, but details nonetheless, the kind of information that most people would never dream of sharing.
And then I found myself wondering why I’m doing this. I know why I started doing this — to disrupt the cultural narrative that women of a certain age are dried-up crones. But why am I still doing this? Haven’t I made my point? And if I have, how do I justify the fact that I continually prance around the Internet in my lingerie?
I’ll let Anne Rice, the doyenne of high-end erotica, answer that question. Here are her thoughts on the success of her erotic trilogy Sleeping Beauty:
It’s like a theme park of dominance and submission, a place to go to enjoy the fantasy of being overpowered by a beautiful man or woman and feel delightfully compelled to surrender and feel keening pleasure, without the slightest serious harm….I think what makes it work for people is the combination of the very graphic sexual details mixed with the elegant fairy-tale world….Every page is about sexual fulfillment. Every page is meant to give you pleasure. There are no boring parts. Yet it’s very romantic.”
Now, I’m not writing erotica. And I’m not writing (much) about dominance and submission, although I do have some photos that bring those themes to life. And I certainly haven’t written myself into a 9-figure lifestyle. But what my blog does have in common with Anne Rice’s philosophy, is the belief that people crave sexual fantasy that is elegant, lyrical, and lush — and that those fantasies are worthy of being filled.
I would take Anne Rice’s philosophy one step further, beyond sexual fulfillment to existential fulfillment. The fantasy experience I create, or try to create, is heightened against the backdrop of reality that many midlifers face: the job one has that is just a job; the caretaking and ugly demise of parents; the behemoth of a divorce; the teenager that sends you reaching for your Klonopin stash; the inevitable staring-oneself-in-the-mirror moment when you realize your horizon isn’t limitless, that those poor choices in your 20s have dogged you into your 50s, and that it’s time to lean into the acceptance of what is, than what coulda, woulda, shoulda been.
It was my own midlife existential ennui that birthed this blog. I was searching for a spot of brilliance against the bleakness, a foray into a world of visceral delight, where aesthetics, sensuality, and vitality kicked my daily single-mom existence to the curb. My blog became a kind of no-fly zone for banalities and disappointments. The more I wrote about sexuality, and the more erotic photos I posted, the more empowered I felt, and the more I was able to tell those shrill midlife insecurities hissing in my ear to fuck off.
I think one reason why so many midlifers report that their sex life is better than ever is that the role of sex, and sexual fantasy, grows in inverse proportion to the gradual decline of age. Pleasure deepens as death creeps nearer. There are less and less days to seize, so, really, if not now, when?
When I look at my photos, I often don’t recognize myself. I simply feel seduced into a fantasy realm where all that exists, all that matters, is aesthetic delight, sensual gratification, and an invitation not to go gently into that good night.
Photography by Nick Holmes.