Ida J meets SAlvador Altagracia
Who are the people behind erotica? How do they live, why do they write porn? A conversation between the two erotica authors Ida J and Salvador Altagracia about art and sex.
We know our biggest asset is our amazing pool of talented collaborators. Erotica authors and photographers, from different corners of the world, with different points of view, ages, sexual preferences, genders, races… But one thing in common: The passion for freedom.
We wish we could get everyone in a room together – we can only imagine all the amazing conversations this would produce! But while we can’t, we are launching a series of interviews, so our authors and photographers can converse about their art.
In conversation: Erotica authors Ida J and Salvador Altagracia, for BERLINABLE.
It isn’t every day that you casually ask a gym buddy what she does and (to your pleasant surprise), she just happens to be an erotic writer. Less likely even (think getting hit by lighting, twice, but in a good way) is it that you too, happen to be an erotic writer.
Honorary Amsterdammers and BERLINABLE erotica authors Ida J and Salvador Altagracia co-existed in the same city and genre for two years before bonding at their mutual gym over dicks, deep squats and erotica. Then and there the questions flowed and the friendship flourished: a tale of two pens in one city.
Salvador: I remember the day we met because it was my first lifting class ever. That and the fact that you’re an elfish catwoman with lavender hair and silky excitement in your voice – so even if I wanted to, I don’t think I could have forgotten you easily. Before actually speaking, I always wondered where you were from, what you did… The usual psycho stuff writers do so often.
Ida: Thank you! I remember having an immediate feeling of kinship with you as well, you were the only man in the gym with a look. (Readers, he was showing off his tan and many meticulously-placed small tattoos in a low-cut muscle tank, and looking HOT!) I think I somehow knew you had to be a writer, I think that’s why I asked you what you did, I wanted to know what you write, but I was no less surprised to hear you were a fellow sex writer…
As regards where I’m from, my background is not necessarily that interesting. I’m from London originally, I lived in a few places is western Europe growing up, and I had a rather middle class, stable existence as a child, a rather boring teenage experience. My mother’s family are adventurous women though, I guess I get it from them.
Key to my writing is a long-standing fascination for the arts in general, and particularly in subcultures and the art forms involved. And so that’s where my stories take place. Plus, everyone wants to bang the arts people, right?
Salvador: Very true. I speak from experience. It just occurred to me that I’d never actually spoken to another erotic writer before meeting you. I mean I probably had, but just never with this level of repartee and trust. Growing up, most women back home were very self-conscious about sex so I hardly ever got to hear a woman’s honest erotic perspective without some degree of shame associated to it. Whenever I talk to you about sex I’m always fascinated by how solid and unapologetic your words are without losing their innate rhythm and heat.
Ida: Well, sex is one of the more interesting things to talk about!
Salvador: So I feel that communication is key for you, somehow. Your voice is so clear, your elocution is perfect and you choose your words with tweezers. Could you tell me a bit more about what communication is to you?
Ida: Thanks! I guess I’m interested in clarity, I like to try and be really precise, to capture as accurately as possible the feeling of a given experience. I did ten years of philosophy education before deciding I didn’t want to be an academic, but the interest in conveying ideas precisely clearly hasn’t left me.
So, tell me a bit more about your work, how did you get into writing erotica?
Salvador: I think I wanted to really grab and touch the words that were so hushed and forbidden. Not just say them, but actually see them written. I think the concept of sex is so manhandled that it starts to feel as if it didn’t belong to you anymore. People telling you what’s good, what’s bad, how you should and shouldn’t refer to sex, what’s hot, who you should have sex with, etc. Words have always granted me that creative prerogative of re-tracing concepts and wiping them clean of others’ dirty fingerprints.
I never really realized the dynamics behind sex until I started trying to write about it from someone else’s perspective. I’m from a conservative, religious background in which sex just wasn’t a ‘proper’ conversation topic. Something dirty, evil almost, not to be joked about or commented on. As you’ll imagine, gay sex – which is what I write about – was a whole other rabbit hole (no pun intended), unspoken of unless followed by AIDS, which as a kid is a scary, larger-than-life concept. My sexuality, therefore, was discovered in a context in which an interest in sex made you subversive and borderline dangerous. There was a lot of sneaking around and pushing boundaries of what wasn’t supposed to be done but was defying the rules. I see a lot of this forbidden thrill in my writing, even today.
Ida: this is very interesting to me, especially because we come from rather different backgrounds in that sense – I grew up in a reasonably liberal environment. And yet I share your interest in or thrill in acts of transgression. That said, the forces of conservatism want us to think we aren’t allowed to have sex, the forces of capitalism are working just as hard to convince us that we’re never good enough to have sex, and I definitely have fallen prey to that feeling. And yet, somehow, people have sex all the time…
This slightly rebellious sentiment is quite crucial to my writing as well, I suppose, it’s about pushing boundaries in some sense, going beyond what’s commonly seen as acceptable. And the social dynamics that accompany that are endlessly interesting, how do you ask someone if they want to have a threesome? You don’t know how they’ll react. Of course, there’s no shortage of people trying to navigate this very question, as evidenced by the number of women’s Tinder profiles specifying “no threesomes!” And the spaces in which you are allowed to ask are interesting, I have a fascination for that kind of environment.
So, tell me more about your work, do you write about your own sexual orientation and your own fantasies? And would you ever want to write about something you didn’t personally find appealing?
Personally, I only really write from experience so far, and so it’s quite challenging for me to imagine doing this, but it would probably be an interesting exercise!
Salvador: I think I write in the exact way in which my mind works, which is quite cinematographically. I tried to go full-fiction, but I didn’t enjoy it as much. It lacked some sort of scent to it, if that makes any sense. Too clean and manicured. Nowadays I find myself fishing for words in the rich estuary where reality meets fiction, and I love it. It gives me the chance to honor my own stories and protect people’s identity, but also add the thrill of the unknown, even for my own sake. While scenarios and settings are either fictional or simply not related to the story itself, characters and dialogues are almost entirely real. As any writer knows, some things you simply cannot script.
Does your partner read your stories, and if so what’s their reaction?
Ida: Yes, my partner does read my stories! I think he’s quite pleased to be honest! There are lots of flattering descriptions of his penis. Of course, it’s not a diary, I also take inspiration from reality, rather than just transcribing conversations and events. I am in general keen on being positive, generally I would want someone’s reaction on happening upon a story about them to be “wow, I fucked someone so good they immortalized it!”
When I first started writing, I was really focused on the sex, neglecting characterization and the narrative aspect of the stories. Sascha said to me, when I interviewed with BERLINABLE, a quote, words to the effect that pornography is sex without context, to make erotica you need the context. And so I finally started to think not just about what happened in the sex sense, when I wrote stories, but also about how I felt about it, how I felt emotionally in the moment, how I felt about the people involved, how this situation had come to be and what the dynamics were, which, as you mentioned earlier regarding your own work, wasn’t really something I had been thinking about in depth previously.