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Interview: Rachel Kramer Bussel   by Staff

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Rachel Kramer Bussel is the editor of two new Cleis Press books, He's on Top: Erotic Stories of Male Domination and Female Submission, and its companion, She's on Top: Erotic Stories of Female Domination and Male Submission. Together, these two books explore the erotic archetypes that make our fantasies tick ‒ the stern but loving Daddy, the Amazon, the cunning dominatrix, the cold and cruel Master.

Meanwhile, she’s also edited dozens of other hot and steamy collections of kinky erotica, notably Naughty Spanking Stories from A to Z and a series of anthologies dedicated to the pleasures of underwear, bondage, and feet. She’s also written for The Village Voice, and numerous other publications, she’s a senior editor at Penthouse Variations, she blogs about sexual politics and cupcakes at The Lusty Lady…the girl gets around.

Fortunately for readers, she got around to sharing a few moments to answer our questions.

Are your two new books, He's on Top: Erotic Stories of Male Dominance and Female Submission and She's on Top: Erotic Stories of Female Dominance and Male Submission, tailored more for the curious or the converted?

I’d say there’s appeal in each volume to both novices and those curious about BDSM, as well as more hardcore players. The stories range from sweet and sensual to very intense, but I fully believe you don’t have to be kinky to enjoy them, and that goes for any erotica.

I think there’s this idea that if you’re a woman and you read some lesbian erotica, automatically you’re a lesbian or bi. And while I think erotica has the power to introduce us to whole new worlds of sexuality, it doesn’t make you one way or another. It’s fantasy, and I think anyone can get into the fantasies I’ve presented in these books.

Also, the range goes from intense physically to more about control and mindfuck. In the story “Thrill Ride” in He’s on Top, the man “tops” his wife by making her drive a car. This works because she’s petrified of driving, but also turned on by being scared and doing it anyway. So that’s a little more subtle. Some people, and some characters in the book, are into roleplay and punishment (or "punishment”) and some simply get off on the more physical sensations, as in my story “Late for a Spanking” in He’s on Top. So I’d say the books are pretty equal opportunity and good for anyone with any level of interest in kink.

How do gender dynamics come into play in D/s situations?

Some people like to play up gender roles in BDSM, but I think it’s really varied. Not all men are tops, nor women bottoms. I believe that male submissives are a greatly underrepresented group in society. From my own personal experience topping guys, as well as anecdotal evidence, there are a lot of men who want to bottom. But they don’t know how to bring it up and are concerned about how they’ll be thought of, both generally and by their lovers, if they do. At the same time, sometimes going against gender roles in that way can make play all the hotter.

You strike me as more of a bottom, even though you look pretty cruel in some of your pics.

I don’t know that I’d say I look cruel! At least, not deliberately. But you’re right; I’m probably 75 percent bottom, 25 percent top, but I don’t tend to think of it in those terms. I wouldn’t call myself a switch, either, because for me it really depends on the person I’m with.

Some people can get me into that sub space in seconds, and after that they can pretty much do whatever they want to me. I had this really hot and unexpected date a while ago where I wound up getting slapped across the face and ordered around and had to ask for everything I wanted, only to be continually denied it, and by the end I was just ready to agree to anything to get to touch the guy’s cock. It was super-hot, and in fact the hottest sex I’ve ever had, I think in part because he just stayed totally in control the whole time.

I’ve also topped men and women and can get off on that role as well, but again, only if the other person is really into it. I really love spanking people because it’s so tactile and visual and you get to hear your hand hitting their skin and their breathing change, and to me the posture of someone bending over with their ass in the air is just too sexy for words. So I’d say it really depends. I think it also is such a tricky balancing act, because in the moment, I might want someone to really smack me around and make me cry and beg and just use me, but then afterward I want to be able to talk and connect and cuddle with them.

You work harder than Lindsay Lohan's attorney. What's your next book project?

Well, thank you! I have a bunch of books coming out soon ‒ in August there’s Crossdressing: Erotic Stories, which I have to say I got really turned on while proofreading. It’s not even my particular fetish but the stories are so creative and outstanding and alluring, you’re just sucked into them. Then we have Hide and Seek: 21 Tales of Exhibitionism and Voyeurism.

Then in November comes my first non-fiction anthology, Best Sex Writing 2008, where I’ve collected the best writing about sex, widely defined, from places like Out, Playboy, New York, Heeb, and other publications. I’m so proud of that one; it’s gonna shock and probably offend and scare people, but most of all, make them think about sex in entirely new ways. And I’m always cooking up new ideas. If anyone’s in New York, come check out my reading series In the Flesh every third Wednesday of the month at Happy Ending Lounge. It’s a lot of fun, and I always bring free candy and cupcakes 'cause the Jewish mother in me wants to feed everyone I meet.