On “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty”

A question was posted in a reading group about Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty trilogy, asking if the sexual activity between people of all different genders was unsettling to anyone, or if anyone found it to be exciting. The following is my response, which I feel kind of sums up my whole feeling on the Beauty series:

I’m the gayest person I’ve ever met and I thought everything involving vaginal intercourse was sexy as hell in those books, primarily because I felt as though I was in the body of Beauty when her body was being discussed. So even though I don’t enjoy sex with women in real life, and even though I don’t want to be tied up over a trash bin and have my balls covered with honey so that flies can gather around them, it’s certainly exciting to read about and imagine the way those characters feel.

The Beauty books are always a bit of a double-edged sword for me. On the one hand there is immense sexual pleasure, and on the other hand, bondage and BDSM, especially taken to the extremes it’s taken to in the Beauty series, can be very frightening because as Anne has said herself, it’s a rape fantasy, and obviously being coerced and raped is not always an enjoyable thing to imagine, even with the context of a fantasy kingdom where the slaves’ pleasure is the main focus.

There’s always a psychological element to what’s really happening: are we talking about a slave being tied down and forced to have sex, or are we really talking about what it is to be a “prince,” the master of your own world, and be brought to kneel before reality, or “the kingdom,” and to submit to it, or to choose not to submit. Are the masters and mistresses really sexual objects, or are they representative of sex as a whole, and it’s effect on the psyche, or is the entire series one long examination of the loss virginity, both sexually and emotionally, to the world?

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