Not with a gangbang but a whimper

Matt Seaton expected a thrill or two when he met a group of erotic writers. They almost left him unsatisfied
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Kat O' Reilly's daughter warned her that she'd meet "a right lot of pervs". But, says Kat, a 56-year-old artist and mother of two, "they're not. They're totally normal!"

She seems to be right. It's the launch party for the Guild of Erotic Writers, held last week in an actors' club just off the Strand in London. No one turns up in bondage gear, or arrives leading a friend on a leash. There's barely a pierced ear in sight, let alone a pierced nipple. Kat herself - newly embarked on a literary career - has short dark hair and green eyes and is wearing a floral-print boiler suit.

What's more, there's not the slightest sign of any moth-eaten middle- aged men with thick glasses and pockets full of dodgy Polaroids. Whenever I do approach anyone who looks slightly pervy, they turn out to be journalists.

Twenty-three-year-old Jason Arnopp works for the heavy-metal magazine Kerrang! (the black jeans, stubble and back-combed big hair are dead giveaways). When he's not in the office, or at a gig, however, he is also Steve Clawfinger, erotic writer. He writes short stories, he says, both to amuse and to arouse. "Some people hack out readers' letters for the mainstream girlie mags, and that's fine, but I want to actually make a story - not just 'me and my girlfriend's greatest shag'."

Luckily for Jason, there is a more discerning publisher around: Erotic Stories, a bi-monthly started about three years ago as a spin-off from Forum magazine. The Guild of Erotic Writers is the magazine's baby, rather than a spontaneous act of solidarity among downtrodden fabulists.

Membership costs pounds 10 a year, for which members receive advice about where to submit their work and, for a small extra fee, a critical-reading service for stories not accepted for publication. But the venture is, naturally enough, not entirely disinterested. "Hopefully," says Elizabeth Coldwell, editor of Forum, "the guild will bring new writers to our attention."

Scarlet Wilde (a nom de plume, naturally) is already established. A tall 27-year-old sporting a red bob and cream silk shirt, she believes in being up-front about sexuality. One of her first jobs was conducting sex surveys for women's magazines, which involved button-holing women in the street and asking them about their orgasms. She says: "Women aren't sexually satisfied" with a ring of missionary zeal in her voice.

Her friend Jade Marlow - a retired exotic dancer in decollete black dress and lots of gold jewellery - nods in agreement. What bugs her is that all the sexlines advertised in the magazines are for men. If a woman wants to dial some dirty talking, "the facility isn't available. So for women fiction is a substitute. Women prefer the written word because there's more depth - it stirs the imagination."

Antoine Seche, 25, and his girlfriend, Selina Giles, 23, are an improbably beautiful couple who look as if they should be presenting some super- hip show on MTV instead of hobnobbing with the smuterati. In fact, Seche works as a TV actor and started writing erotic stories a couple of years ago. "I found I could toss one off," he says somewhat ill-advisedly, "in four or five hours. And at pounds 150 a go it was good fun."

He was talked into it by a friend who belongs to the Erotic Stories advisory board. Knowing Mr Seche's love of Arthurian legend, the friend phoned him and said: "Look, I'll give you a good first line and you write the rest. 'I call it Excalibur', he said, dropping his chain mail trousers'."

Just when it looks as though erotic writers are squeaky-clean and come in any flavour you like as long as it's vanilla, Sir Guy Mastleigh comes to the rescue.

Sir Guy is bearded and wears sandals; he looks as if he might be a biology teacher, a sort of scaled-down David Bellamy. In fact, Sir Guy (a nom de guerre, perhaps) is a businessman as well as an author. He and his wife run the Academy Club: a place in Hertfordshire where members go to relive their schooldays. It's all about "power relationships", apparently - you can just let go and, whatever you do, "the consequences won't be too severe", explains Sir Guy, not altogether convincingly. He also runs the Other Pony Club, which, he says, "is more about sex". At last, a right perv after all.

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