Rupert Thomson, author of memoir This Party’s Got to Stop, tells of how he came to be writing porn stories for extra dollars while living in New York. Below are details of a competition inspired by this.
In the spring of 1985, when I was living in New York and working at the Strand bookstore, I made a little extra money on the side by writing sexual fantasies. This is how it came about. One warm evening, at an opening on the Lower East Side, I met an artist called Czarnowski. A few days later, Czarnowski invited me over to his studio on Sixth Avenue. As we drank coffee at his kitchen table, I happened to mention what the people at the bookstore were paying me. Czarnowski suggested that I supplement my income by writing for the sex trade. He knew someone in the business, he said, and scribbled down a number. He thought the pay was pretty reasonable. When I called the number Czarnowski had given me, the man on the other end told me he was looking for sexual fantasies that were about eleven sentences long. They would be read out over the phone by women, he said, and should bring a man to orgasm in approximately sixty seconds. In other words, the eleven sentences could stretch to twenty or shrink to five, just so long as they took no more than a minute to read. I would be paid $25 for every fantasy that was used.
My first couple of attempts were rejected. The man on the phone told me they were too left-field. The guys who called were regular guys, he said, and got off on pretty standard stuff. Like what? I said. Like the super of a building is called to an apartment to inspect a leaking radiator, he said, and the door is answered by a woman in her underwear... I saw what he was driving at and tried again. I wrote about a man working a night-shift in a parking lot. A sports car pulls up with a blonde girl behind the wheel. She winds her window down. Her blouse is unbuttoned, and her short skirt has ridden up her thigh...I don’t remember how the fantasy ended – the obvious way, no doubt – but I know it was the first of my pieces to be used. I had a few more accepted, but then the summer ended, and I left New York for Tokyo. I have long since lost the number of the man who employed me.
I never kept any copies of the fantasies I wrote.
We are throwing open our inboxes to your erotic fiction. Write an eleven-sentence fantasy and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Competition entry’ in the subject header by Friday 7 May. We will publish the best story online on Wednesday 26 May – the winner will also receive a signed copy of Rupert Thomson’s memoir This Party’s Got to Stop and a poster of our Sex issue cover.
NB: unlike in Rupert Thomson’s experience, the winner will be the best literary fantasist – there are no extra points for smut!
Rupert Thomson also contributed to the latest issue of Granta – ‘Park Life’, in which he remembers selling books in New York’s Bryant Park, will be published online next month.
Front page image © Calil Souza