Erotica Exotica: Tales of Sex, Magic, and the Supernatural edited by Richard Labonté
Reviewed by TammyJo Eckhart, PhD
Richard Labonté’s name may be familiar to some erotica readers. As editor he has collected together several, primarily gay, erotica anthologies, while his work as an author has appeared in dozens of other anthologies. In Erotica Exotica he has collected together fourteen stories that he turned down for other anthologies because they did not fit the required theme. Enough of these stories did have a supernatural element to them, and thus this book was born.
The first story, “Possession” by ‘Nathan Burgoine, is one of the strongest in the entire book. Engaging from the first page, logical in the plot’s progression, and hot in terms of the sex, the trio of vampire, demon, and mage are a great read.
Jeff Mann’s “Wolf Moon/Hunger Moon” is a very well-paced werewolf and vampire story that is a bit more sexually intense without losing the quality of the tale. Both “Salvation” from Lloyd Meeker and “Gay Orpheus” by Gregory L. Norris are high quality pieces that are undeniably supernatural as well as emotionally and sexually arousing. In all, these four stories are the clear standouts in terms of storytelling.
While not as well-written as these four, ghosts, demons, prophecy, gods, magic, and mythological creatures populate the other tales. The creepiest story in the collection must be from Anthony MDonald in “When in Rome” where a murderous ghost threatens a young gay man waiting for his lover. The most heart-rending was “The Prescient” by Mark Wildyr that takes the all-too-human vampire and reveals him to be a true romantic who cannot see the danger in front of him until it is too late. Similarly, “Meet Martin” by Davem Verne was a challenge to read for the undeniable rape, both physical and spiritual, meted out to the narrator and the man he loves.
Even in an anthology of supernatural erotica there are comedic moments. A demanding god gets some too-eagerly applied discipline in “Popo Bawa” by David Holly, though this story is a bit unrealistic even for the genre. For all out laughs, “Gordy and the Vampire” from Eric Arvin took all the silly stereotypes of bad gay porn and turned them into fun.
“Ghost Town” from Dale Chase was a touching tale, but just really lacked the engaging characters of several of the other stories. Evan Gilbert’s “The Raiders” is similar in terms of ghost-human interactions, though we really don’t get enough time in the minds of either mortals or the deceased searching for a second chance at life. “Siren Songs” takes the haunted house story and combines it with mythology, but again the emotions in Jamie Freeman’s pieces didn’t feel as intense as in others in this collection.
“Hot Day at Midnight” is certainly a hot tale with lots of gang banging and tons of men, but is it supernatural? There’s nothing wrong with trying to get your reader to think, but the degree of uncertainly at the end seemed out of place compared to the descriptive sex scenes that are the bulk of the piece from Jonathan Ashe. Finally, the last story of most anthologies is generally one of the strongest but I didn’t find “The Horror in Dunwich Hall” by Johnny Murdoc to be a very good example of an attempt to eroticize Lovecraft, or have a very good grasp of that gothic genre.
Over all the majority of the stories in this anthology are solid examples of various supernatural or horror elements given a sexual twist. Richard Labonté has done us a favor by hanging on to these stories even if they didn’t originally match what he was looking for.