The topic of male image in erotica, physical and other, began with my close-knit circle of fellow scribblers reviewing potential male models for my upcoming release, Beg Me*. I decided to forgo the perfunctory female cover and swing for a solo male because, well, to quote fellow dirty girl Kristina Lloyd, we’ve seriously had it with T and A.
As we were weeding through my pile-o-hot men, the conversation shifted to the evolution of the male specimen in erotica. As a child, I remember browsing my aunt’s bookshelves thinking ‘Eew!’ Even as a sapling I was acutely aware that the guy who looked as if he were trapped in a wind tunnel with his chest lurching towards the night’s sky while his long, flowing locks of gold and the tattered remains of his shirt stretched behind him wasn’t my cup of tea. But given the sheer volume of similar ungodly images projecting from my aunt’s shelves, Wind-Boy was setting female readers ablaze.
Face it. No one wants to curl up beside an emaciated, cock-eyed dwarf. This is where the four basic elements of hotness come in**: Tall, well-built, dreamy eyes, killer smile. Whether the hero, was a mad Earl, a doctor, a pirate, or garbage man, the four basic elements must and have been observed since the beginning of time. Don’t believe me? Take for instance the murals painted in ancient Roman baths. See any spindly figures depicted? I rest my case.
As times change, so must the lusciousness of our heroes. By and large, Victorian erotica featured stern-faced brawny men with slicked back hair and mustaches standing akimbo. Not only was this un-sexy, it was downright frightening. Over the decades, we saw the appearance of our heroes shift considerably. The 50s and 60s gave us heroes who bore a striking resemblance to Ward Cleaver. In other words, the brawny Victorian men were lifted from obscurity, given a good wash, had his testicles removed, and stuffed into an ill-fitting suit.
After that really weird bit in the 50s, males ditched the hair products, went unshaven, and *gasps* enjoyed hot monkey lovin’! The 70s and 80s offered us borderline rapists with throbbing muscles and shaggy hair who looked like they ripped the bodices off their women. The 90s opened new doors. Enter the slightly effeminate hero—aka the metrosexual! Before then, any male who even looked at hair gel was marginalized as the awkward best friend or the funny sidekick. Well, not anymore. Achieving the perfect pompadour ranks right up there with saving the feeble heroine before she’s sodomized by the insolent rake. You can’t rush genius, people!
So why the change? Why, in the face of mounting marketing evidence to the contrary, have female readers accepted cleaner cut heroes? In my humble opinion, this shift has more to do with women embracing their own sexuality more than any radical movement towards metros. Yes, we want our romantic heroes to scare the boogeyman away and kill the occasional spider. But we also want depth of character, vulnerability, intelligence, intensity and flaws. In a way, by liberating ourselves from the shackles of the helpless damsel, we’ve liberated our heroes from their binds. We’re multidimensional and we expect the same of our men. Yes, the four basic elements of hotness are still the cornerstones of erotica, but, the days of the bodice ripping, lip-crushing, panty-melting beefcakes are gone.
* Okay, that’s a stretch. We were chatting over microwave popcorn and pinot grigio while pretending to work.
** Dimples are optional but given their inherent cuteness, one should employ a five o’clock shadow or a tumbler of whiskey to compensate for said cuteness. I’m just spit-balling!
Tracy Ames is an author of multicultural/interracial erotic fiction. Her work combines hot sexual energy with proper storylines. Mrs. Ames has written short stories and columns for both national and international newsletters and magazines. Her debut novel “Seduce Me” and its sequel “Make Her Want It” are acclaimed bestsellers. Mrs. Ames has the same hopes for her 2011 projects “Beg Me” and “Those Eyes”. She is also the founder and CEO of InterracialErotica.net and the future Blue Art Media.
Since her husband dashed her lifelong ambition of world domination, Mrs. Ames fills her leisure time partaking in competitive ballroom and salsa dancing, traveling the world, and photography. She currently splits time between Greenwich CT & New York City with her husband, young children and a host of pets.