Self-Interview with Mick Harris
P.L. First the obvious: what turns you on, personally and professionally?
Personally, I’m turned on by a wide variety of things, from straight-up romance novel style hetero-normative seduction of the innocent virginal flower, to “hardcore” and bizarre/absurd sex acts. I am turned on by good conversations, by the constant tension of initial flirtation and uncertainty of reciprocal desire. It depends on the day, my mood, where I am with myself and how aggressive I feel toward the outside world.
Professionally, honesty turns me on. A lot of people say that but most people don’t deliver. I like stories about sex gone weird, silly or just disappointingly wrong. I like stories about people fucking up, about expectations that aren’t met, about non-normative pleasures. I’m not talking about kink or about assault here – I’m talking about human experiences that just aren’t quite what you meant them to be, and how we resolve them afterward.
P.L. From poets to erotic bloggers, online communities such as FetLife where kinksters share their experiences, to those who write pure imaginative fiction, writers and artists are making their “personal” business public in one form or another. How do you about feel that, are sex experiences all public or all private or somewhere in between? Can they be both? Is sex meant to be a shared experience (beyond of course the literal meaning)?
Sex should be talked about, had when you want to have it and not had when you don’t want to have it. We wouldn’t have such an insane rape culture in this country if we didn’t subscribe to patriarchal values mixed with old school, outmoded Puritanical restriction of body autonomy and desire. We wouldn’t have as much neurosis surrounding relationships and human interaction, either. Sex should be shared with who you want to share it with, when you want to share it with.
P.L. In that sense, in the private world, pornography has a wide audience (and outsells regular movies) but most won’t admit to watching. Similarly ”erotica” is greatly marginalized both as a creative art form. Do you see it ever changing from this mold, becoming accepted or even “normal”?
M.H. I think if we can relax as a culture and stop fetishizing the living shit out of everything because we can’t talk about it openly, yes, it will become “normal”. It is normal in that it’s healthy and natural to talk about sex and to make art about sex and erotic experiences – when it crosses the line is when people have a particular hang-up that includes non-consensual violence toward others, and sees erotica as a means to express that without penalty or self-reflection. I enjoy pieces that are fully aware of kink as a neurotic locale to be interrogated as much as it should be consensually indulged. It’s going to take a while before the rest of the world catches on, though.
P.L. With the publication of the hugely popular 50 Shades of Grey series, writers of erotica became a little more than a blip on the radar of mainstream media and from my own experience there are hundreds upon hundreds of erotic novelists, some professional, some amateur that write, publish and sell their work all in a communal “I’ll buy your book if you buy mine” little subculture. Where to you see your place in erotica as a whole? Are there clearly defined segments or is it just a jumble of different acts and actors?
M.H. I think it’s intensely complex and simple at the same time – we’re all writing about getting off, or not as the case may be, on any level from the pure physical to the spiritual and mental and unconscious. That links us, but that also divides us. It’s a weird, mercurial field that has fascinating highs and lows, and it can also, gasp, be quite boring and typical at times. The “taboo” aspect of erotica bores me as much as it excites me. Taboo is personal, as much as boundaries are, and if you’re into pissing on someone and then electrocuting them, that doesn’t mean you’re any more hardcore or of greater value in any way than someone who enjoys monogamous, missionary-style sex with the lights out, or more valuable than someone who doesn’t have a lot of sex or any sex at all. That’s hard for us to reconcile, because kink community is a reaction to a restrictive sexual norm that in turn imposes restrictive sexual norms on people who participate, or people who are seen as outside of the community. People have been fucking for ages – nothing we’re doing is new.
Bio: Mick Harris is a writer and purveyor of sexually-tinged nonsense living the Bay Area. They write, blog, bitch and generally produce at positivelysocialsix.wordpress.com