The Erotic Book Club

“Reversing out of the park, I struck an unmarked tree. Catherine vomited over my seat. This pool of vomit with its clots of blood like liquid rubies, as viscous and discreet as everything produced by Catherine, still contains for me the essence of the erotic delirium of the car-crash, more exciting than her own rectal and vaginal mucus, as refined as the excrement of a fairy queen, or the minuscule globes of liquid that formed beside the bubbles of her contact lenses. 

In this magical pool, lifting from her throat like a rare discharge of fluid from the mouth of a remote and mysterious shrine, I saw my reflection, a mirror of blood, semen and vomit, distilled from a mouth whose contours only a few minutes before had drawn steadily against my penis.”

– An extract from J.G Ballard’s novel ‘Crash.’

A little synopsis (of my own):

Written in 1973, Ballard’s novel explores a deeply disturbing and sinister relationship between car crashes and sexual gratification. Sex, collisions, blood, sliced flesh, vaginal excretions, fractured bodies, ejaculations and death merge together in this controversial, explicit and sordid take on human sexuality.

Narrated by James Ballard (named after the author) we follow central character Dr Robert Vaughan on his mission to construct the most stimulating, sexually rewarding and sensually heightened suicide – the ultimate arousal, the ultimate crash.

Not the average erotic novel and probably not the easiest book to be initiated into a new book club with, but it was. Yes, last night my good friend Jamie and I head to the Wellcome Collection Museum on the Euston Road and met, for the first time, the self-professed ‘pervs’ of ‘The Erotic Book Club.’

Advertised on Time Out under ‘Alternative London,’ we were rather uncertain what to expect. Indeed, when I told my Father where I was going he was convinced that I had signed myself up to some sort of illicit dogging society.

Fortunately, this was not the case. In fact, the whole thing was rather tame – only a few mentions of ‘fucking,’ (it was normally referred to as sex) one of the smell of a ripened vagina (the disco box) and a brief tale of flying phallace.

The evening started with a tour of museum. Named after Henry Wellcome – a philanthropist and patron of science – the collection displays a small segment of some of the 2,000,000 artifacts he gathered during his life.

Ranging from Japanese sex aids to chastity belts and vagina-shaped trinkets to erotically charged art – the tour was both fascinating and informative. A delightful guide emphatically described sexual traditions, beliefs and rituals and had us all absorbed in his vivid tales.

It was a copy of Bosch’s ‘Painting of Hell,’ however, that held us captive for the longest. With its vast amount of detail, you could spend a day unraveling the mysteries that rest in each delicate brush stroke. The sexual tension layered up and up in the painting was utterly absorbing – it was as if, the constant teasing, the touching, the bodies writhing over each-other, the almost moments were what was Bosch was depicting as hell. So close, yet so far from sexual fulfillment.

Back to the museum’s lobby and back to ‘Crash’. Bottles of wine were ordered, glasses handed out and then began the sharing of literary thoughts.

“I kept getting erotic whiplash,” one member shared, “I’d start to get aroused and think oh yes this is good and then suddenly I’d hit the wall and think, no, no this is sick.”

Another shared, “It was his attention to detail, the description that I found amazing. Writing-wise it was great but aroused, no.”

There were also a few: ‘I couldn’t finish it. I got to chapter … and then watched the film.”

The clubs founder, a particularly attractive scarlet-haired woman, then asked: “Did anyone get really turned on by it?”

A resounding no.

Crash definitely has an erotic nature, but to find it erotic I think that you would need a rather more alternative group of Londoners – a group, perhaps, like the hypothetical illicit doggers that had caused my Father so much grief.

In terms of a new club to join, I would highly recommend The Erotic Book Club – covering works from Jilly Cooper, EL James to J.G Ballard, to even putting pen to paper and creating their own steamy fiction – the team are warm, friendly, intelligent and most reassuringly – don’t have taking you down a dark backstreet and giving you a good seeing to on their agenda.

To join the club’s newsletter go to:  http://www.theeroticbookclub.org/

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