With titles like Donald Feels the Bern and Trump Temptation: The Billionaire & The Bellboy, there's no shortage of playful erotica books poking fun at the 45th president. For a wave of activist publishers of X-rated material, however, Trump's administration and its policies toward women, LGBT people and immigrants are no laughing matter. While many wallowed in despair following Trump's win, erotica's most outspoken activist writers and publishers started cooking up ways to utilize their literary talents in the name of resistance.
Just days after the election, the couple behind Boston-based Go Deeper Press, Lana Fox, an immigrant from the U.K., and Jacob Louder, a transgender man, turned their post-election angst into action. "We knew we wanted to do something in response to the Trump administration's imminent destruction of all things not white, cisgender, male and heterosexual," Louder says. Since they already published transgressive erotica, even welcoming "taboo" topics such as pseudoincest and piss play, a charity anthology was a natural fit. "Many of our books are written for – or aim to be inclusive of – minority readers. We seek to say, 'We see you' to those society makes invisible, while the Trump administration shouts, 'You don't have the right to exist!'" Louder says Kellyanne Conway's infamous "alternative facts" remark "practically handed" them the title for their collection Alternative Fucks, which has raised over $300 since February for the ACLU.
"I think the First Amendment is under attack with the Trump administration's war on the press, and its attempts to silence and control it. Who's to say what’s next? Will Trump's war on the written word spread to 'taboo' fiction? We hope not, but we wouldn't be surprised," he says.
Similarly, Pittsburgh-based Alessia Brio, Editor in Chief of Coming Together, a series of charity anthologies, conceived of Coming Together: Moving On, themed around confronting injustice and/or hate, post-election. The book benefits MoveOn.org and was released on Inauguration Day, to reclaim "such a depressing day. I wanted to put a defiant and positive spin on it," says Brio.
For sci-fi writers Anna Yeatts and Chris Phillips, who are set to publish Kickstarter-funded NASTY: Fetish Fights Back this month, the election season was the catalyst that turned them to publishing smut. Yeatts cites the highly charged third presidential debate as her inspiration. "I was watching Trump pacing back and forth behind Hillary Clinton, who I really respect. Then he wouldn't answer her questions. For me it mirrored what was going on in my personal life and being called nasty when no one wanted to deal with me anymore."
Trump's statement that women who have abortions should be punished led to their decision to donate a portion of NASTY's proceeds to Planned Parenthood. Their values are also reflected in the book's content. "It's disturbing how many [stories] came through that were rape fantasies that didn't involve consent. We don't include anything [without] enthusiastic consent," Yeatts says, noting this was all the more important in the wake of the revelation of Trump's "grab them by the pussy" boast.
NASTY is the only book that mentions a member of the administration by name. In "The Straw Man," author Jessica Freely pulls no punches, opening her tale with the line, "You ever notice how the most virulently anti-gay leaders always seem to wind up in bed with male prostitutes?" before continuing "It's no coincidence. Nobody gets that passionate about something they have no personal connection with." The tale is told from the point of view of a former publicly homophobic preacher who privately enjoyed "fucking men every Wednesday," and, it's later revealed, has had an intimate encounter with none other than Vice President Mike Pence in a Sbarro's bathroom. Pence is alternately conflicted and aroused, unable to forget the gay hottie.
Both Alternative Fucks and Coming Together: Moving On make sly political points, and showcase a range of sexual orientations and interests. In the latter, Sonni de Soto's "When There Are No Words," features a white man pondering what the future holds for his Asian-American wife after a candidate with a message of "Confederacy romanticism" and a rallying cry of "America Will Rise Again" gains power.
Even humorous erotica author Chuck Tingle has become a political activist, of sorts, with the elaborately titled ebook Domald Tromp Pounded In The Butt By His Fabricated Wiretapping Scandal Made Up To Redirect Focus Away From His Seemingly Endless Unethical Connections To Russia, and launching a Breitbart parody website, Buttbart.com. While he doesn't consider his books satire, in the aforementioned title, one of Tromp's Tweets comes to life and literally screws Domald, who has "an insatiable hunger for cock," and cries out, "Pound me like the worst president ever!" Over email, Tingle explains he considers his work "a resistance to THE DEVILMAN AGENDA." His ultimate message? "Domald tromp is actually a squealing mass of crabs and tar moaning songs of infinite darkness."
These aren't the first such works to explicitly tangle with conservative U.S. viewpoints. In January 2008, Stephen Elliott edited Sex for America: Politically Inspired Erotica. The collection begins with Jerry Stahl's story "Li'l Dickens." It opens with the line "I did not mean to sodomize Dick Cheney" – and gets wilder from there after the narrator and VP meet in a Wyoming gun store and enjoy a marijuana-fueled rendezvous in the back room, during which Cheney wants his penis called "Bunker Buster." Charlie Anders wrote about kinky queer sex on election night 2004, with a narrator who opines, "I feel the need to rescue her from all this, to replace her mental anguish with another type of pain."
In the introduction, Elliott wrote, "One purpose of fiction has always been to show a deeper truth than can be arrived at through journalism," concluding that the arts are "on the front line of every cultural war." Pioneering erotica expert Susie Bright says, "We both know that scatological and sexual satire of the ruling class is the first drumbeat of the dispossessed, vox populi."
Longtime erotic author Debra Hyde, who edited the 2000 political erotica collection Strange Bedfellows, situates the phenomenon even farther back in American history. "In 1861, roughly 30 years after his death, Aaron Burr was the subject of the anonymous The Amorous Intrigues & Adventures of Aaron Burr – pure smut meant to besmirch his legacy." She says, "I don't remember any erotica about the Reagans, although I do remember a lot of us laughing that the Reagan-era Meese report on pornography made for some of the dirtiest reading of the 1980s."
But as today's erotica writers and editors are finding, the political is very personal.
Phillips, the son of a traveling preacher who currently lives in an "ultra conservative" Ohio town, says his own notions of sexuality have been expanded by editing a book inclusive of male/male and transgender stories. "At first I wasn't as comfortable as I am now," he admits. The project has also rejuvenated him. "It's hard to maintain your energy level and keep resisting day after day. It wears you down unless you can find something entertaining about it."
Yeatts also believes stories centered around sex can broaden minds. "The more we see through each other's eyes, the less alien we become. That humanizing aspect makes us less afraid of our neighbors. There are a lot of things I worry about in the Trump administration – if you're not blonde and leggy and beautiful and super white, then you don't fit in. Having a place to go in fiction and seeing people who are like you makes you feel less alone."