Penny Pepper writes: I was pleased when Together! 2012 Artistic Director Ju Gosling asked me if I’d be interested in running a workshop on erotic writing by disabled people. It’s an area I’ve been interested in for many years, since realising these stories have not been told from the broad spectrum of our own experiences. While there has been nominal progress since my collection of erotica, Desires, came out in 2003, we need to push on to find those platforms where we can express how we feel as sexual beings, romantic beings, in love, in lust, and everything in between.
The work which follows, produced by this group during the workshop, is exhilarating and intriguing. While some have gone for delightful in-your-face sexiness, others have produced work of a more tender vein. What the workshop proved to me most of all is that my own instincts are right – when we are given the encouragement and the safe space to express our desires, we do so with a depth of feeling that deserves to be heard by many.
Ring, ring, why don’t you give me a call
We could get together and have ourselves a ball
Soft music, low lights, rose petals
You can have it all
Naughty nights beckon
You can really ring my bell
With this ring I thee bed
‘The Tickling Project’
She started with my forearms
I lift my elbows
She goes for my ribs
I lurch forwards
My mind ripping
Lost for ever
Panicking I turn to her
Eyes like oceans
She guides me back
I squeeze her hand
Come into my room Fanny
Come and play with me
There’s hours before the rest get home
And start demanding tea.
Come into my room Fanny
Come inside and stay
It’s warm and dark and snug in there
You’ll have a lovely day.
Come into my room Fanny
You won’t regret you came
We’ll play and romp and fool about
Till you forget your name.
‘You, yes you, don’t touch me.’
I wouldn’t touch you with a bargepole, you’re not all that you know. You don’t know what real love is. I’m a sex machine – Mr Lover Lover. I’m the man making all those ladies’ panties go down. I’m a male gigolo. A real man.
Okay, if you don’t want to sleep with me then that’s okay! But remember this, you’ll never find a love machine like me. Go on, to hell with you.
‘To hell with you too. I’ve still got my vibrator. That brings me more satisfaction than you ever will.’
She picks up the paper
Grabbing harshly in angry hands
Cutting out the perfect picture
Of two paper dolls
Holding hands, billing and cooing
Loving each other forever.
Then savagely she slashes their loving bridge
Snatching them apart and giving them sudden life.
Do you love me?
I really love you
Then softly one outstretched paper arm
Strokes the face in front of her
And they become crushed into one big paper ball.
Her lover calls
What are you doing?
‘Sex on Legs’
She met him in a bar
He was very attractive
Just by looking at him
She wanted to have sex
With him she felt she could rip his clothes off there and then
The feelings were so strong
She could imagine putting her finger in his mouth
The sexual desire that came over her was so powerful
She wanted to have sex
Please please please
‘Jack and Jill Go Up The Hill’
We can be Jack and Jill
Cavorting together on the hill
Both looking to have our fill
And sate our lust together
Our bodies will be as one
Looking into each others eyes
And connecting heart to heart
Tongue to tongue, toe to toe
Thigh to thigh
The smell of your hair
The touch of your flesh
The taste of your lips
The grinding of your hips
And we will have our highs
As I slither between your thighs
And caress all your erogenous zones
Making you gasp and moan
We can fuck to our hearts content
The string, slipping between my fingers, is both fine and coarse at the same time. Its hairy strength binds me to you, you to me, till we are one, knotted together in a hessian bond, tied by love. JG
‘Day of the Dead ear-rings’
Into the vortex
A crystal is what I see. A crystal of dreams. I could massage your back by rubbing the crystal on you. I could also massage your feet with this crystal. I could hold the crystal in my hand just by a light and think good things about you. DB
Running down the road
She sang to herself
Repeating over and over in her mind
So loudly it seemed the words flew out of her mouth
And the people in the street
Walking their dogs and pushing their prams
Must surely have heard her
But nobody seemed to notice
She ran to the corner
And turned towards the seafront
Crossing the road with only just due care
Joyously increasing her pace
To greet the sea
With her sandalled feet
Splashing into the waves
She did shout loudly, loudly, louder
‘I kissed the girl and she kissed me back!’
‘I had a dream the other night’
“I had a dream the other night.”
“Oh yeah, what kind of dream?”
“Well, I’m not sure it may have been a nightmare.”
“yeah I was in like this square courtyard, a bit like the school I went to, I was up on the first floor.”
Well I was looking over into the courtyard, there were lots of people around. I was feeling quite happy, kind of content.”
“Sounds like a good dream.”
“I guess………………….Wee-ll you see, yeah, ahh, I had a………”
“Yeah see, well, I …… I had a dick.”
“Yeah, see and I felt happy and I was around people, but I don’t know how I knew I had a – dick – because I didn’t actually touch it, but I like knew it was there and I just wanted to be around other people just having a dick.”
“What do you think it means? Do you think it means I want to be a man, because you know it’s all right being a woman and that, but this felt so right. I heard someone say once that a clitoris is like a small dick, so maybe that’s all it is. I dunno, maybe it doesn’t matter, all I know is I felt happy amongst other people.”
“And—you don’t usually? Feel happy?”
“No I don’t, not bad or nothing, just not happy. Not really happy. Like for that moment in my dream, all was right with my world.”
‘In Victorian Times’
I would like to suck your toes mam
Queen Victoria’s manservant said
She nodded acquiescence but in a haughty way
He really loved her widow’s weeds
She was dressed head to toe in black
Sucking toes was indeed his thing
He really had the knack
It was as far as she let things go
They hadn’t yet got in the sack
But first he had to wash her feet
In the water from a Scottish stream
After the first time he had done this
It remained his favourite dream
Her ministers were all kept on hold
As he ministered to her feet
Sometimes it lasted for hours
And he found this really neat
Your fingers close around my wrist
Grasping at the leather, feeling the steel beneath
‘Come closer’, you say, drawing me towards you, gliding across the room.
‘Come to me’, I say, pulling you onto my lap, reaching for your waist.
We wheel in an ecstasy of movement, dancing around the floor
As you throw back your head and laugh out loud
Abandoned to pleasure.
Sex are sex just to relieve that frustration
All night long
Alright, I think I feel a boner coming on.
When was the last time you had sex?
Let me think – two/three years ago, who keeps count?
The last girl I shagged was over a xxx – does that count?
I don’t think that relationships are all about sex, but when you haven’t had it for a certain time, it’s amazing! Your head will probably blow off!
Chapter 1: Servicing the Users
He wheels around the bonfire, searching for her with the beam of his powerful torch. A rocket explodes above the scene and bathes it in momentary bright red and gold. He sees the glint of her wheel rims in the flashing firework light and points his beam to illuminate her fully. She blinks in the torchlight, smiles and beckons to him. Not holding hands, because the luscious grass needs both hands to negotiate, they move off together into the night.
A ribbon of light cuts through the darkness. The grass is damp and they are looking for the sanctuary of the shed they know is here. They find it, entering its musky black mouth. Giggling, they start to remove each other’s clothes, amused at the problems it involves because they cannot stand, or even see. Giving up, they roll onto the floor to continue.
Afterwards they smoke an illicit cigarette in the gloom, the warm glowing ends matching their togetherness; then they both groan as they realise that neither of them can climb back into their wheelchairs.
Chapter 2: Kevin and Stevie
Kevin relaxes in the comfortable airline seat. Time to start enjoying the hospitality. His wheelchair is stashed in the hold and the stress of the travel to the airport is over. Of course it will all start again at the other end. This is a small 20 person jet, There is no lift here and he has been forced to walk up the boarding stairs hanging onto a steward and flop unceremoniously and ungainly into a seat. Now though, he sits upright and comfortable, strapped into his seat, eagerly awaiting the takeoff that fast approaches. Just recently, there seems to have been a new sensitivity in his nervous system and he is looking forward to watching the effects on it of flying. His doctor has told him that this may be a normal part of his condition and he will have to learn to live with it. At the moment, every day is a new adventure; everything is heightened; he can still feel the tingle in his arm where the steward has grasped it. Even the act of eating a peach for breakfast has seemed positively erotic, the taste and texture of the juice and soft flesh exploding over his tongue until he has had to leave it unfinished on the plate, the experience is just too intense. Now, the vibration as the engines warm up in preparation for take off is moving through him insanely, he aches with the rush of blood flowing round his body, and he hoped the woman in the next seat has not noticed the bulge in the front of his trousers. He grits his teeth as the hum and clatter of the engines increase, and the plane starts to move slowly along the short runway.
He has flown before, but nothing has prepared him for the acceleration as they hurtled towards their take off, this is London City Airport, a STOLport, short take off and landing airport. Surely there is not room before the bridge in front of them to get airborne? Some of the discomfort eases as he is distracted by the more imminent spectre of sudden death as they smash into the unforgiving concrete, there is no room for any sort of run-off here, this is the middle of the east end and land is at a premium. At the last second, the vehicle lifts from the ground and tears steeply into the air at a seemingly impossible angle. The pitch of the engines reaches even higher as they power into the sky at an ever steeper angle. Kevin is deafened, and the image of this silver phallus penetrating the air is not helping with his other problem. To distract himself, he starts trying to remember the facts he has learned about the airport in preparation for this journey. In his mind there sounds the voice of an air stewardess, upper class, English and calm, if with a slightly hysterical edge.
“To our left we see the Tate and Lyle sugar factory, manufacturing in the east end since 1878 when it was opened by Henry Tate and Sons…oh we’re past it. Ahead is the Connaught Bridge, taking the A112 across the river from Custom House towards Silvertown and… oh we’re past it. The flight path of this aircraft is steep so that we deafen less people and depart the area as soon as possible. The airport designation is LCY. It was built in…..”
With a lurch, the aeroplane levels out and the brutal acceleration ceases. The cultured, if manic voice stops and a new fear grips him. Kevin feels the bottom fall out of his stomach; as though they are stationary in the air, and might plunge back to ground as quickly as they have risen. The plane banks steeply to the left as it swings around to head for their destination, Glasgow.
Slowly, his panic subsides and he starts to become aware of his surroundings again. The girl in the seat next to him is looking at him, smiling. He has watched her board; she had cerebral palsy and has had to struggle up the boarding steps as two stewards try to assist. As he observes he decides that whatever mobility problems he has, they are insignificance beside hers. She bends towards him and says something he does not understand. “Sorry, what was that?” She repeats what she has said. He thinks he understands, but is sure he must be mistaken. “Once more please. It’s loud in here and I think I got it wrong. I heard something about being turned on.” She bursts into a fit of giggles and nods her head. Her personal assistant, sitting in the row behind them, leans forward to see what is going on. “Everything alright?” She asks.
The girl leans back and waves her away, a gesture that is both dismissive and indicative of all being ok at the same time. The pa immediately sits back into her seat, an indication of who is in charge here. The girl leans forward again. Now Kevin realises he has understood perfectly, he has just not believed what he has heard, and did not want to repeat it in case he was wrong. “I get turned on too when the plane takes off.” He feels himself turning red and mutters something about it being part of his condition. “Mine too, I’m a bit of a nymphomaniac.” She again collapses into laughter, indicating that this was a joke, but laughs so much that she starts coughing and spitting. The seatbelt light has not yet gone out so Kevin accepts tissues from the pa, and helps her to clean up. It does not help that they both keep descending into fits of laughter, so the process takes quite a while. Meanwhile, the pa looks on, nonplussed
Later, with the ice well and truly broken they discuss different experiences of being a wheelchair user. Kevin has a speech impediment too, so is no stranger to the vagaries of being understood and the stupidity of some of the general public. Her name is Stevie, she usually uses a power chair, but because the aircraft is so small, she is having to deploy a manual chair for this journey, and be pushed round “Like a cripple.” as she puts it. Kevin muses that this trip might prove to be more interesting than it has promised.
Chapter 3: Petra and Svetlana
For Pixie and miss Qinan
Petra is bored. He is sitting on the asteroid lost in his own thoughts, watching tourists fly by in their silver spaceships. The air is full of eerie music, something like a cross between Vangelis and whale song, swooping and ethereal. Light glints off the hulls of the silver craft, as they pass over his head and disappear slowly beneath the horizon. Rings of fire move in waves around the asteroid and iridescent multicoloured clouds hovered in space before stars twinkling in the background. Other asteroids circle this one in different orbits; it is all quite lovely, in a very science fiction way, like some futuristic scene captured by the Hubble space telescope and carefully photoshopped to distinguish all the elements in the sky in different colours. On the plain near him, Wolverine and Professor X in his wheelchair move among the walking figures. He smiles at the affectation. He has always wondered why someone so skilled in the art of levitation has to rely a mechanical device to get around. In nearby enclosures, avatars practice tai chi and yoga surrounded by candles and prayer mats; hippies are well catered for here.
He is pulled from his reverie as someone bumps into him and types, “Sorry, didn’t see you there.”
Stupid newbie, he thinks, as he turns towards the girl responsible. Quite pretty, but then so is everybody on this asteroid. In a world where you design your own body shape, there are very few people who chose to be average looking; those who do are mostly intellectuals, artists and writers here for other reasons than the hedonistic pleasure seeking of many. Of course there are the furries; avatars who are animals, cats, wolves and other fauna. There are still others who live their virtual lives separately to the human population. Zombies, vampires, werewolves and elves stalk this world, and have their own communities; the endless diversity of the population echoes that of the human mind, and is sometimes just as weird and twisted. But all of this is another story.
He clicks on her AV and her info pops up on the display. Svetlana. A year old, so not such a newbie then. Some hippie shit about herself on the biog. Probably a foreigner. A lot of them are a bit flowery here.
She confirms this with her next sentence. “I love it here, I come to do tai chi often. Sorry about bumping you, I was watching a couple having sex over there.” Her avatar pointed vaguely. “This is a PG area, they’ll be in trouble if they get caught.” The rules of this community can be strict, BDSM and sex clubs, even brothels operate with impunity in the Adult areas. War is legal in the right place, but violations in the wrong designated zone can lead to suspension of your account, a ban from the game, and seizure of your home and all your possessions.
“Do you like it here?” She seems to be gushing now, metaphorically tripping over her words to keep the conversation going. “Of course. Or I’d be somewhere else.” She pauses, thrown by the logic of his statement.
“Just you seemed so lost in your thoughts, like you were doing something else.”
“I thought you didn’t see me and that’s why you bumped me?”
A longer more awkward pause. “Actually…I bumped you three times before you noticed. You were miles away.” She lapses into silence, aware that she may have gone too far. Eventually, she ploughs on, “Do you want to see something wonderful?” He mulls this over without talking, wondering if it is a double entendre. The beautiful skyscape is becoming boring; even before this conversation he has been considering leaving, He has been here before, and this time his visit has lasted at least an hour. She does not wait any longer for an answer. “I’ll go first, and then teleport you there.” She disappears in a cloud of shimmering particles. A few seconds later, an invite appears on his display, inviting him to join her on an island off the mainland. Her name, the invite tells him again, is Svetlana Adored. Her abrupt disappearance has obviously been partly due to embarrassment and his silence; if he refuses the invite they need never see each other again. However, this mysterious and provocative invite is both intriguing and tempting. What the hell, here we go, he thinks, and accepts the TP.
The setting he finds himself in as he materialises is beautiful. As the surroundings slowly resolve around him, he sees that someone has built, or bought, several ornate horse-drawn gypsy caravans, and set them around an overgrown island. A golden beach leads down to the sea, which is deep blue. Waves lap gently onto the shore. The rustling of the waves on shingle and the sound of distant seabirds complete the scene. The focus of the open area he has materialised in is a ring of logs surrounding an open campfire, which crackles and spits realistically. Svetlana sits there, lounging by the fire. There are several sit animations around the fire, hovering balls that if you click on make you adopt a pose of relaxation, staring into the fire. A bit twee, he thinks; not his usual scene, which usually involves more leather and grey stone. “Hey, you came,” she calls. “I wasn’t sure you would, you seemed a bit nervous. Come on, I don’t bite.” Stung by this, he walks over and sits across the fire from her, annoyed that his initial hesitation has been read as fear. “I’m Italian, so excuse my English sometimes, I practice every chance I get.”
“I’m English, so excuse mine; as well, as well as my Italian, which consists of, “scusi” and “ciao.” They both laugh at the weak joke and mentally relax a little. He moves nearer to her.
They recline and talk for a long time. They seem to have a lot in common in this place where the only sign of his impairment is slower typing. Here though, it sometimes only makes him seem more considered and intellectual, like he uses words sparingly and only when necessary. Indeed he does, for a different reason, but the illusion is sometimes spoiled by his use wherever possible of acronyms and text-speak to hasten typing.
Unnoticed it grows dark around them and a full moon rises in the indigo sky. Stars appear and the whole scene becomes more and more dreamlike. The fire grows brighter and among the foliage around them blossom the twinkling lights of fireflies and glow-worms. After a long while, there is a lull in the conversation, and he wonders what will happen next. Suddenly, as if she has made a decision, Svetlana stands up. She points to an animation across the fire from them. It consists of two globes hovering just above the ground, one blue and one red. Above the globes is a suspended white label, it reads: “kiss 4.”
“I’ve never tried that one, have you?
“Wanna go for it?”
“Err…Ok.” Suddenly she is standing where the red animation ball has been, her arms around nothing and kissing thin air. He clicks on the unoccupied blue ball next to it and is immediately in her arms in a passionate embrace, like they are two people very much in love. “Ooh, I like this,” She says, “Your hair really gleams here in the moonlight.” It is a corny line, but it makes him hesitate. In reality he is a wheelchair user and far from the young gothic Adonis he has painstakingly built over the last two years. Fuck it, he thinks. One of the reasons he has started playing this game is because for a few hours he can be someone else. Here he can fly through the air, walk on the seabed and teleport to anywhere in the world in an instant. Who is to say that she is not similarly different to her avatar; pursuing life vicariously through this black-clad goddess he holds in his arms? He pushes his doubts to one side, and gives himself wholly to the moment and the virtuality of their closeness.
Chapter 4: The Wheelchair
She is embarrassed to ask at first, but it turns out she wants to fuck in his wheelchair. The only way it is possible is for her to sit on his lap, facing away from him. Halfway through, she starts to stroke the tyres and rims next to her hands. Releasing the brakes, she starts to move them slowly around the room, then faster and faster. As they climax, the wheelchair drifts slowly to a halt in front of the full-length mirror. They stare at their reflection, exhausted. It is beautiful. Around them is the debris of overturned furniture and scattered possessions that has been his room. He has not realised she was such a fetishist, he thinks; he could grow to like this. Probably not the neighbours though.