Kinky erotica from the top’s point of view

Most erotic stories that I’ve read are from the bottom’s POV, or use third person omniscience. The ones from the top’s POV are more rare. That is one of the reasons I’ve written quite a few stories from the Dominant’s POV. This afternoon, I went back and looked at some of these stories, and thought about who is the center of the story, who is vulnerable in the story, who transforms.

“Nervous Boy” (Love at First Sting: Sexy Tales of Erotic Restraint ), which was the first story I wrote from the tops POV, has this somewhat omniscient top voice that is attuned to the bottom and what he is feeling, and is focused on facilitating his transformation. (An example of this voice: “I watch him carefully as I free my cock. His eyes widen. Is that fear? Excitement? Both, I decide, stroking my cock as I watch him. He is scared—what if it isn’t how he wanted? Or worse, what if it is? What if he really is a cocksucking fagboy who gets on his knees for strangers in alleys?”) Similarly, “Facing the Dark” (Backdraft: Firemen Erotica) and “My Precious Whore” (Best Lesbian Erotica 2011) are both written from the POV of a top facilitating a cathartic scene for a bottom. None of the tops in these three stories let you in much to their inner experience in a vulnerable way, though there are smaller moments of that. Instead, you witness the transformation of the bottom and desire for the bottom through their perception…their focus is on the bottom while you are inside their head. “Knives” (Best Gay Erotica 2009) is even more closed, where the top is fully in inscrutable armored dominance and seducing the reader by talking about all the ways that he uses knives in play.

I have seen this trend in most of the (rather rare) stories I’ve read that are from a top’s POV, where tops are deeply in the sense of themselves as all knowing, all powerful, invulnerable. Where they are inscrutable even as we are reading from their POV, showing off their prowess and strength and knowledge, displaying their bottom as a possession for the reader to admire, displaying their cruelty to seduce or impress the reader.

I get why these stories are hot, and some of them are crafted very well. And, as a top who is reading them, I need to be high on my own dominance to enjoy them and ride alongside them…otherwise they feel competitive, and full of posturing. (Much like these kinds of tales can feel in real life when tops tell them to me. If the top is not being vulnerable and focused on their own experience, struggles, and questions, but is instead solely focused on what they did to the bottom, and the impact it had on the bottom, it often feels like competition, posturing swagger, bragging. Especially, in my experience of it, when masculinely gendered tops tell these stories, particularly when they are talking about play with femmes and/or women. It can feel like the kinky version of locker room talk, and is often heavily laden with misogyny and disrespect for the hard work the bottom is also doing in the scene.)

Some well-thumbed examples of the kinds of erotica stories I am talking about are “Cocked and Loaded” by Thomas S. Roche (Taboo newly out as Sweet Danger: Erotic Stories of Forbidden Desire for Couples) “Harder” by Ian Phillips (Roughed Up: More Tales of Gay Men, Sex and Power), “A Beating” by Karl Van Uhl (Rough Stuff: Tales of Gay Men, Sex and Power), “Little Girls” by C. Lee Lambert (Tough Girls: Down and Dirty Dyke Erotica), “A Girl Like That” by Toni Amato (Best of the Best Lesbian Erotica), and “Feathers Have Weight”, by Alysia Angel (Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica). These are stories that are compelling, well written rides on the top side. (They also reflect my biases and kinks, which is why I remember them…many are from older collections.) The tops they depict, even when you are inside their head, are still basically invulnerable and inscrutable. Which I think reflects the image of tops (esp. masculine tops) in BDSM communities as a whole.

In contrast to these kinds of stories on the top side, I have deep love for Robin Sweeney’s “Dress Leather” (printed in Switch Hitters: Lesbians Write Gay Male Erotica and Gay Men Write Lesbian Erotica) precisely because it shows a deeply vulnerable top devastated by the loss of lovers to AIDS who has no idea why he survived past forty and is trying to build connection again with a twenty something boy, as the ghosts of his dead lovers swirl around him. It’s a heartbreaking, compelling, well written cathartic scene from the tops POV, where the top’s catharsis is at the center, and it’s gorgeous, and has stuck with me since I first read it in the late 90s.

As I grew as a top and grappled more with the inscrutable image of tops, the ways that tops are assumed to be invulnerable in life as well as play in kink communities, I have shifted my agenda when writing from the tops POV.  I want more vulnerability in my tops, want the reader to see them struggle more, need more support, second guess, even when it is the bottom’s transformation that is the focus. My more recent story “Strong” (Say Please: Lesbian BDSM Erotica) has a top who is facilitating a complex cathartic gender play scene, and who shows vulnerability while doing that, and I tried to create many more moments that illuminate the top’s vulnerability, and the way the bottom supports the top in that. I know that I’m at the beginning of pushing this agenda in my work. I’m looking forward to writing more stories that centralize top’s vulnerabilities.

Passages like these from “Strong” are the kind of thing I mean when I talk about illuminating the top’s vulnerability. As a heads up, they describe intense Ds, pain play, and  rough sex.

“I need to see that she wants this, all the way through, and she knows how much I run on adrenaline when we play this way, how it reaches into my core and twists. I need to start fast, and hard, almost dare myself into it, because this scares the shit out of me, and that’s the only way to get over the mountain of fear that builds in me as I know we are going there. The more fear there is the rougher and faster I need it. I was especially rough that night, ignoring the gagging, groaning as I forced tears from her eyes.

‘That’s right, choke on my cock,’ I said gruffly.

There was rushing in my ears as I watched her choke, tears streaming down her cheeks, her eyes locked on mine, soft, reassuring. “

“Sinking into thud roots me, pulls me deep into myself. Using my whole body helps me re-establish, find my footing. He’s not the only one that needs to put himself back together, and he knows it. Knows that this is for both of us, that I need this as much as he does, and his job is to feed the energy back to me, to help keep it cycling between us.”

In contrast to those where the bottom’s transformation is the center, my “First Time Since” (Hurts So Good: Unrestrained Erotica) has an almost entirely self-focused top (the reader may even worry a bit about the crushed out bottom getting his heart broken), where the top leads himself through grieving a M/s relationship and recovering from that grief—the top facilitates his own transformation, and the scene with the bottom is just one tool for that. In my more romantic “Willing” (Leathermen: Gay Erotic Stories), a jaded vampire is slowly led to realize that he might have found a long term companion—it is the bottom who facilitates the top’s transformation. (I’ve also written stories where the top’s transformation is alongside the bottom’s, from the bottom’s POV…but that’s another thing altogether.) I’ve been playing more with centering the top’s transformation and catharsis in my work. I recently taught a class on *Edgeplay from the Top*, and became even more invested in this as the participants openly shared my hunger for stories of tops pushing their own edges, taking risks, struggling, getting hurt. I know how much the communities I care about need stories like this, need images of more complex and vulnerable tops.