Pirates and priapic clowns

Sex, fritters and flaming lava: Jessica Berens goes on an erotic quest; Behind Closed Doors by Alina Reyes Weidenfeld, pounds 12.99
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The Independent Culture
Individuals who like the idea of indulging in foreplay with a nurse, a dog, and a battalion of firemen will enjoy their journey through what Alina Reyes likes to call the "lair of Eros". Behind Closed Doors has been has been written as, "the first interactive erotic novel". To this end, the book is divided into two parts - you can choose to be the hero or heroine. Once you have made this tricky decision you are invited to waft down a series of crepuscular corridors and into a myriad of scenarios of unconventional coital arrangement. At the end of each "adventure" a choice of doors is offered - thus you trace your own route through a labyrinthine land where kisses are always as hot as "flaming lava," and where the sex is so exciting that, on one page, it makes you retch.

Some, of course, will elect to become the hero. Fishnet stockings; hefty thighs; ankle socks; panties. They are all here. Using the portentous language of ancient myth to convey a seamless erotic dream where anything can happen, Reyes is undoubtedly right in her assumption that men wish to read about women who wear tennis skirts or dress as chamber maids. One wonders if she is being over-conscientious in stretching her story to cover relations with a male amputee, but then she did write The Butcher and presumably knows her meat from her maenads.

Those who have decided to become the heroine will find themselves wearing leather trousers and sitting on top of a 1000cc motorbike. They will enter a cafe for an omelette and they will notice the man of their dreams climb into his convertible and drive away. Thus they are forced to spend the next 160 pages looking for him, an exhausting task requiring stamina, perseverance and a dizzying range of proclivities. There is no intimation of the nature of the sensual peculiarities behind each door; no sign says, "Beware of the Dog," or, "Verbal Abuse" or "Dyke Action", so there are no hints to help the heroine trace a narrative attuned to her personal deviances. She may waste her time being raped behind Door 3 while missing the chance to copulate with a man whose eyebrows meet in the middle, because he, plus his "firm bottom," and, "robust sensuality," are waiting behind Door 2. Having entered Door 5 and seen a lame woman throw a bucket of water over a naked lesbian chained to the floor, she may stumble through Door 6 where there is a gang of men wearing latex when, in fact, she would prefer to have a rest behind Door 7. Here, in the Garden of Eden, Adam's "banana has taken on the volume of a fritter about to be flambeed."

Rape or fritter? Hot lava or cold water? The reader is destined to know the disappointment of the tourist who has not seen all the attractions. The safest option is to walk through all the doors and read all the chapters, plodding from scene to scene in the order in which they are written. This sensible and traditional course is the only way to avail oneself of all the wonders offered by this odyssey. By so doing, the heroine may then sleep with the full range of maniacs that inhabit the author's imagination. There are lovers with thick necks with whom she will wrestle in mud, and a wizened hag who will quote Lorca and force her to fondle a "scraggy, old, but still burning vulva". There are savage pirates and priapic clowns and men wearing nothing under their kilts. But, best of all, behind Door 29, there is Batman. Hanging upside down on a gym ladder, it is possible to see that his batpants cover a "very tasty looking lump." The heroine (lucky old you) spends some quality time with the superhero and discovers that his batdick is just as "magnificent," as his "other accessories." Now you know that pounds l2.99 has been well spent because, as Reyes says, Batman "has the lot."