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The Vulnerable Sincerity of Queer Kink Erotica: A Review of Xan West’s ‘Show Yourself to Me’

Find me something in this world that doesn’t have a problematic aspect to someone, somewhere. There is no one-size fits all, there is no all-inclusive deal. Attempting to be inclusive is a process in which the work will never be done. Making inclusive art, literature, erotica? — and making inclusive erotica that’s also queer, kinky, and still sexy? If this is your idea of paradise, Xan West has written it, and it’s called Show Yourself to Me. It’s available now at Go Deeper Press, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Show Yourself to Me by Xan West
Show Yourself to Me by Xan West

It’s all there: beautiful, often prose-like passages with great erotic scenes, characters with actual vulnerabilities — there are no stereotypical stone cold Dominants here, and a rather diverse range of represented roles, kinks, and identities.

The action scenes and descriptions are powerful. Each sensitive topic (age play, blood play, rape play, etc.) is handled with care. Though there are not trigger warnings, there is a helpful guide at the beginning on the book which describes what kind of play is in each story, thus giving readers advanced notice to proceed with caution if necessary. What the guide does not tell you is what a mixture of real life experience these stories are.

This is a book about lust and kink and sex in all of its realistic forms, which means sometimes the characters are practicing safer sex and sometimes they are not — just as in real life. In real life, we sometimes make contradictory choices about our safer sex practices, and it’s not different in Show Yourself to Me. The most obvious example of this is in “It’s My Job,” in which the couple in the story practice bloodfeeding, oral sex without condoms, and anal sex with condoms. One can, of course, argue that it could be more about sanitation than about safer sex, at that point. Regardless, it’s a great example of the vulnerable realism achieved by the author.

The one real caveat against realism that I feel Show Yourself to Me has is its dialogue. Among my favorite quotes from the book, very few are of dialogue. This is because I feel this is its weak point. To me, much of it reads as though it is being written out, instant messenged or texted to someone and not spoken. Here is just one example, from the story “My Pretty Boy,” on page 102.

“All right. I called in our usual order. I will just pop over and get it. You make yourself at home. Feel free to let Gilberto out of the kitchen if you want. He’s had his walk already.”

As a result, I found myself skimming much of the dialogue and pouring over every other passage. Fortunately for me, there is not that much dialogue to be had!

Dialogue aside, I thoroughly enjoyed Show Yourself to Me and I have a long list of folks whom I wish to share it with — not just because it’s hot (and it is, it’s sooo hot!) — but because, hey, people of mine, come read! We are represented and we are sexy! Thanks, Xan, for making that happen.


Purchase the eBook or print copy of Show Yourself to Me at Go Deeper Press, Amazon.com, or Barnes and Noble.

Author Xan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, a recent transplant to Oakland from Brooklyn, who has been doing community kink education for over ten years. Xan has been published in over 35 erotica anthologies, including the Best S/M Erotica seriesthe Best Gay Erotica series, and the Best Lesbian Erotica series. Xan’s story “First Time Since,” won honorable mention for the 2008 National Leather Association John Preston Short Fiction Award. Xan’s work has been described by reviewers as “offering the erotica equivalent of happy ever after” and as “some of the best transgressive erotic fiction to come along in recent years.”

Xan refuses pronouns, twists barbed wire together with yearning, and tilts pain in many directions to catch the light. Xan adores vulnerable tops; strong, supportive bottoms; red meat; long winding conversations about power, privilege, and community; showtunes; and cool, dark, quiet rooms with comfortable beds. Find Xan’s thoughts about the praxis of sex, kink, queerness, power, and writing at xanwest.wordpress.com.


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