Yes, I Read Erotica To Get Turned On

by Alyssa McBryant
Originally Published: 
Woman laying in a hot tub with her legs up reading an erotica book to get turned on
Westend61 / Getty

I discovered it when I discovered the internet. No — I discovered it before then, when I found my mom’s romance novels sitting around in the basement. Why you’d let your kid get her grubbby teenage paws on them, I have no idea. But my mom did, and I read them, and holy shit, those people were boning. In graphic, “throbbing-manhood” sort of ways. Even then, I knew those hundreds of pages were a thinly veiled excuse for people to

In college, “those books with the dirty parts” became known as “erotica,” and it was cool to read erotica. Good erotica, that is, and there was a strict definition of what that meant. Anne Rice’s pseudonymous Beauty trilogy made it through our highbrow pretensions despite its author, because most of us had never encountered hardcore S&M before. Lady Chatterley’s Lover made the cut, because while it didn’t actually show the boning, it talked about it a hell of a lot.

But Anaïs Nin was our goddess. The one-time lover of dirty-book writer Henry Miller, whose Tropic of Cancer had scandalized our parents, she’d had lived a polyamorous relationship and her books ran the gamut from voyeurism to same-sex trysts to serious S&M. Heady stuff if you’d grown up on the throbbing manhood of hulking Fabio lookalikes, combined with the inept fumblings of football player Thadd.

We wanted more.

Fast forward a decade or so. I was married. I’d long set my Anaïs on the shelf, because I had a husband to do all sorts of fun things with. Then the unthinkable happened: my sex drive started to wane. We had kids, which didn’t help, because kids are little cockblockers (I’m convinced it’s an evolutionary ploy to avoid sharing resources with more siblings). But mostly, I’d started taking SSRIs for depression. These drugs are notorious for killing your sex drive, and mine was withering on the vine.

We used to do it all the time. Now, we did it, like, once every three weeks. Something had to change.

Then, I remembered erotica. But I felt silly pulling out the stuff from my youth. So I googled around a little bit. In secret. Because I was totally embarrassed, but I knew it would help. I occasionally read fan fiction from my favorite TV shows. Some of that fan fiction got … salacious. I’d generally avoided it, mostly because I didn’t care. This time, I looked for it. And I found it.

Boy, did I find it.

Now, we all have different tastes in entertainment. I happen to be a diehard dork. So when I was googling erotic fan fiction, I was reading about Mulder fucking Scully from behind in The X-Files, Agent Cooper and Harry Truman making tender man-love in Twin Peaks, basically everyone in Fringe except Walter Bishop and Nina Sharpe having an orgy (Fringe fan fiction is great for the polyamory, if you’re into that, and I found that I totally am). And a combination of all of the above in the Hamilton fan fiction, which could get pretty out there.

I found out all this stuff totally turned me on. In a major way.

So, what did I do? The only logical thing when you’re sitting around your bedroom at night, married, and totally horny. I pounced on my husband.

And we started having great sex again. Better sex, in fact, because I would read about something, realize I liked the idea of it, and think, hmmmm, maybe I should give that a try. Erotica lowered my inhibitions. And once my dear husband figured out what had brought about the change in my libido, he teased me a good bit, but he didn’t mind. Why would he? It helped bring back our sex life.

No, I didn’t ask him to call me Scully or Angelica, or demand to call him Mulder or Alexander Hamilton — not that there would have been anything wrong if I had. It just isn’t our thing. We would laugh too hard to keep going. The erotica is just something that’s there, something I happen to read to get in the mood.

Peter Pan says to think happy thoughts and you can fly. Well, I think happy thoughts so I can manage, over the drugs and the kids and the exhaustion and the general tension of life, to have sex. And with those happy thoughts, Peter’s right. I can fly. Thanks to some anonymous writers on the internet, I have a sex drive again. My marriage is totally indebted to those thankless toilers, who sit around trying to think of creative, but not too creative, synonyms for “penis” all day. I salute you, anonymous people, especially those of you writing gay Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens fan fiction. And so, by proxy, does my husband.

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