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
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.