Sage Vivant
Dave Warnke
Josh Kornbluth
The Artist-Entrepreneur Project
  do you want to work to live, or to express yourself?

Sage Vivant

June, 2002
Sage Vivant

I ask the attractive woman sitting across from me to share her most potent sexual fantasy. Come on, just a few details, I plead. She smiles, then turns the question around. Now I'm the one blushing. The thing is, if I tell Sage Vivant about my "secret garden," she is liable to repackage it as an elegant short story, bound and delivered - ahem - as a handsome little book.

Sage Vivant is a San Francisco literary entrepreneur who writes custom erotica to order.

No, it's not her real name. Don't tell anyone she was a bank examiner. After nine and a half years with the Federal Reserve, Sage chose to take a severance package in 1997 and launch a new writing career. Writing had always been her passion, and not just stuffy articles about fair play in the board room. Foreplay in the board room might be more like it.

Sage enjoyed erotica as much as the next liberated woman, but was disappointed that she could rarely find what she needed - at least, not on the shelves. "If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." That's good advice from Nobel-prizewinning author Toni Morrison. Sage figured other people might feel the same way as she did about erotica. What if they could sketch the details of their fantasy and get a story written just for them (or their partner), including all the delicious images and situations exciting to a person of their unique sensibilities? The career change allowed Sage to spend some time figuring out a how to make her passion pay. The answer: Custom Erotica Source.com.

While the idea may sound brand spanking new, Sage is in esteemed company in the world of do-it-yourself adult fiction.

Anais Nin, perhaps the best known woman writer of erotica, first produced her steamy stories for private collectors. In 1935 she helped establish a publishing house in France, Siana Editions, because no one would publish her highly-charged works. It wasn't until the 1960s that Nin began to be discovered by the literary world at large.

Hmph: that was before the Internet. Sage Vivant didn't want to wait 25 years to see her work in print. As with Anais Nin, the publishing industry was her biggest obstacle. "I couldn't have started this business ten years ago," she says. Her online medium allows people to acquaint themselves anonymously with the concept of custom erotica. They can read sample stories online to see whether the writing meets their standards and get an idea about what to expect. They can select the level of graphic language desired, then fill out an online questionnaire to help Sage and her staff of writers create a memorable tale.

Sage admits, "Even the most carefully crafted, high-minded erotica will not appeal to everyone." What is sexy to one person might be too much for another. Fear of Flying author Erica Jong put it another way: "Pornography is somebody else's erotica that you don't like." Custom Erotica Source offers clients a choice of three levels of graphicness: mild, in which sexually explicit scenes or language are avoided; moderate; and spicy: graphic scenes used freely. The questionnaire gently probes for details most arousing to the intended reader: names and descriptions of the main characters; settings, situations and stimuli. The gender, sexual preference and literary tastes of the intended reader are teased out. An open text-box stands ready for the client to fill with other ideas: body types, fetishes, positions, racial characteristics, and anything else. As of this writing, prices were $25 for a one-page "quickie," $125 for a 1500-word book of 6 pages, or $250 for a 3000-word book of 12 pages.

The most commonly-requested types of stories involve threesomes, usually two women and a man. Interracial quickies are also popular. The commentary on racial differences is often as much a turn-on as the sex, Sage says. A different request might involve a traditionally unattractive woman. "She seems more approachable, and more real," Sage infers. In fact, when women order a story, they tend to be "a lot more realistic about their partner's appearance." Especially for women, the excitement comes from sharing the story with their lover. It becomes a celebration of their affection.

The celebration of the erotic in everyday life is a big part of what Sage enjoys about her work. Her goal is to make the average person feel comfortable with sex and with their own preferences in particular. Fostering sexual self-discovery can be as gratifying personally as it is a livelihood. One client was told by his therapist to explore his sexual interests safely and he does it by ordering stories from Custom Erotica Source. "Knowing who you are does lead to a better sex life," Sage says. "You suddenly know something about yourself that you didn't know before - and what to do with it. This intimate self-knowledge gives you confidence - the intellectual equivalent to feeling great because you're wearing sexy lingerie underneath your clothes."

Sage has learned a thing or two about herself from doing this. As a young woman, she was aware of her sexual power but not how to use it. Now she's learned to use her power to create the reality that she wants - not just in her personal life, but as an entrepreneur as well.

Despite the intense gratification of providing a service that helps people, custom erotica is still a bumpy new field. In months when erotica doesn't pay all the bills, Sage works part-time on behalf of the average Joe and Jane making sure banks aren't ripping off consumers. She even writes - gasp - business articles.

I talked with Sage recently about the self-inflicted trials and exquisite joys of being a writer-entrepreneur.

To obtain a custom story written by Sage Vivant, contact customeroticasource.com.


If I can let one person feel better about his fetishes, then I feel I'm contributing something.



Sage Vivant

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