Badlands Unlimited Launches Public Exploration of Cum

by Paul Legault on March 11, 2015 Events


“Does a pussy heave…or does it more pulsate?”

This comment came from yesterday’s panel discussion following a reading from Badlands Unlimited’s new series of erotic fiction at the Guggenheim. Leia Menlove (a.k.a. Wednesday Black) one of three female authors onstage (all of them dressed in black) recalled the question posed by a copyeditor assigned to her new book How to Train Your Virgin. “I was so angry,” she said through laughter, “I immediately looked up ‘heave’ [in a dictionary]. It’s definitely heave.”

T Magazine called this new line of work “Smutty Books for Smart People.” It’s a good summary of the project and its intended audience, though the idea of pejorative smut doesn’t sit well with me. Do smart people really require different smut? Is porn better if I know the distinction between a pussy that heaves and one that pulsates?

This question never got addressed during the readings, which was perhaps for the better. Appropriately located in the Guggenheim’s basement, a packed audience filled seats for the readings. I was ready for some filth!


Not everyone in the audience came so prepared. One couple in the row behind me left almost immediately: they got barely a whiff of Lilith Wes’s We Love Lucy. The story has nothing to do with the similarly named sitcom—it’s about a woman named Lucy, who receives the gift of watching her boyfriend have sex with another man for her birthday: “You want me to watch you two have sex? That is my present?” Lucy asks. Without issuing too many spoilers, it shortly becomes clear that she likes it. In the Q&A, when Paul Chan asked Wes about her writing process: “Was it fun? Was it great? Was it hard?” she answered, coyly: “It was hard / fast.”

Wes, at times looked flustered, but overall seemed to have the most personal connection to the work. “I began to write [erotica] for myself a couple of years ago.” Despite the seemingly endless amount of porn that can be found online, she found none of it matched her taste. Writing her own was a natural response.

By contrast, Wednesday Black presented a complete fantasy; an erotic fairy tale about an evil queen who plots to de-virginize her husband’s potential mistresses. In the follow-up conversation, Black told the audience that Chan’s invitation allowed her to write about sex for the first time—albeit via a tale of dryad/mermaid/centaur orgies.

Filmmaker Andrea McGinty rounded out the evening with a reading from God, I Don’t Even Know Your Name, a humorous and snarky story about an artist at a Finland residency who has sex with a man named Jussi in a sauna. At one point, the protagonist produces a long list of questions about what it would be like to have sex in extreme temperatures: “Does cum taste the same if it’s heated?”

These readings were followed by a discussion that quickly devolved into a general Q&A. Naturally, this proved awkward. The first audience member who jumped up to ask a question wanted to know how much of their work was autobiographical. All three women blushed simultaneously. These are works of fiction.

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