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Rachel Kramer Bussel makes us feel like total slackers, but she's really nice and she makes awesome cupcakes, so we'll forgive her. She's contributed to or edited about a million erotica books on everything from spanking (actually, that one's two volumes) and cross-dressing to voyeurism/exhibitionism and domination/submission. Her most recent project was editing the book Best Sex Writing 2008, which answers questions like "Do Jewish girls give better blowjobs?" and "What happens to a celebrity sex tape star in Iran?"

She also hosts a monthly erotic reading series called In the Flesh, writes a blog called Lusty Lady, and this Sunday will be running a Love Letter Writing Workshop at our favorite little sex shop on the corner, Babeland. We chatted with her about threeways with Marilyn Monroe, the Hitachi Magic Wand, and how to know when it's time for a love letter...and when it's time for a lust letter.

E&L: Is sex like pizza, even when it's bad it's good?

RKB: I'd say no. There's definitely bad sex, and it can be a lot worse than bad pizza. I think it's kind of a fallacy--we assume, or at least, I've assumed at times that it's always better to go for the easy sex right in front of you than wait for something or someone better to come along, and that hasn't always worked out so well. Then again, it's hard to know which sex will be good or bad before it happens. But sometimes it's better to refuse sex (or pizza) and know that something even more delicious--like the sexual equivalent of cupcakes!--will be heading your way before you know it.

E&L: How does your work affect your sex life?

RKB: I think because I deal with the topic of sex all day sometimes I'm a little jaded by it, but really it doesn't affect my sex life all that much. Probably my sex life affects my work in that when major things happen in my sex life, I want to write about them. Otherwise, I really try to leave work at work while I'm actually having sex, otherwise it feels less like fun and more like, well, work.

E&L: Craziest place you've ever had sex?

RKB: Inside a giant pussy at the San Francisco Pride Parade. It was short but sweet, and how could I resist such a fun locale?

E&L: Most underrated erogenous zone?

RKB: Back of the neck for sure. I love giving backrubs and massages or licking, pinching, and biting, as the case may be, the back of the neck. For that matter, the entire back. I think backs are super sexy.

E&L: Favorite on-screen sex scene?

RKB: I'm a huge fan of talking dirty, and there's a scene in The Fluffer that's not technically a sex scene, but I thought was so hot. This gay guy goes to get a lap dance from the girlfriend of his male crush, and he makes her tell him what her ideal guy is. At first, she gives this standard answer that's describing him, but when she starts to describe her real boyfriend, they both get off on the shared vision. It's hot not because he's getting a lap dance, but because they both lust after the same guy and share this mutual vision of him.

E&L: Desert island sex toy?

RKB: Since a Hitachi Magic Wand would presumably not run on a desert island, I would have to say a big fat dildo, preferably one that would last a very long time!

E&L: Best sex advice you've ever given or received?

RKB: This is a really tough one. I honestly can't think of anything on either side and feel really dumb about that, but maybe it's because a) I usually hate giving specific advice, cause everyone's so different, and/or b) tend to learn best by trial and error.

E&L: Dead historical person you'd have sex with if you could (alive, of course)?

RKB: Marilyn Monroe. I've always been fascinated with her and think there was a lot more going on than just the image of the sex kitten. I think she'd be really kinky once she let her guard down. Even better--a threesome with her and JFK.

E&L: Rate the following in order of importance, from greatest to least: sex, love, money, fame, chocolate, Facebook.

RKB: Love, sex, chocolate, fame, money, Facebook.

E&L: Least sexy "sex symbol"?

RKB: Tila Tequila. I'm all about uniqueness when it comes to sex appeal, not prepackaged types.

E&L: You're about to host a pre-Valentine's Day workshop at Babeland to teach New Yorkers how to write a love letter...so what are the biggest mistakes people make when writing a love letter?

RKB: Thinking that it "has" to be anything other than what you want to write--there's no set length or tone or anything. Don't try to copy someone else's style or say what you think they want to hear; say what you really think.

E&L: What if you're afraid that your love letter will be totally cheesy, how can you avoid that?

RKB: First of all, I think some cheesiness is okay, but then again, I'm a big dork. But to combat that, make it personal. Include private memories or inside jokes and really highlight why they're so special. It can be something silly that only you find charming about the person--in fact, all the better. Most of all, be honest. I think the most
heartfelt, moving love letters are perhaps the toughest to write, because you lay bare all your real emotions, sometimes ones you might be too nervous to tell someone in person.

Also, it doesn't all have to be about how perfect the person is; loving someone's flaws, or seeing them in all their complexity, good and bad, is ultimately what loving someone is all about, and I think at the end of the day, while it's nice to get compliments, more than that we want to be known and loved for who we are, not who we might
be. So by showing that you know that person inside and out, that you are there for them through thick and thin, that you appreciate things about them that they may not appreciate about themselves, you make the letter into something they will treasure. I'm not saying to make it all dark and depressing, but if you make someone cry (tears of joy), they're gonna want to hold onto your letter.

E&L: Can you combine a love letter with a lust letter, or should it be one or the other?

RKB: You can definitely combine the two. One of my key inspirations is James Joyce, who wrote a series of extremely explicit, dirty love letters to the woman he wound up marrying, Nora. You can look them up
at the library or see them here--he would say all these totally perverted things, yet running through them was the message that he didn't just want to be spanked, for example, but to be spanked by Nora. In 1909, mind you, he wrote: "Nora, my faithful darling, my seet-eyed blackguard schoolgirl, be my whore, my mistress, as much as you like (my little frigging mistress! My little fucking whore!) you are always my beautiful wild flower of the hedges, my dark-blue rain-drenched flower." So I definitely think it's possible to combine the two, if you want to, and again, a key thing is to make sure the reader knows why they are so special and sought after, what about them makes you quiver and lust after them.

E&L: Which do you think should come first in a relationship, a love letter or a lust letter? And how do you know if it's too soon for either?

RKB: Both have the potential to make someone squirm, in both good and bad ways. I think nowadays with email, people often send lust letters, or at least, lust notes or texts, but that's a lot easier to both feel and do than to fall in love with someone. You have to make sure the person is on the same page as you as to where the relationship or romance or hookup is going. I once sent someone a long, heartfelt letter and they freaked out and said I was being "too serious," and that wasn't even a love letter per se. So maybe it's best to start small and build up to an epic letter.

E&L: What are the key ingredients to a good lust letter?

RKB: Again, personalizing it; nobody wants to get a letter that feels like you may have written it to your ex. Talk about what turns you on about them, whether it's the sounds they make during sex or some quirk of their looks or personality or whatever most draws you to them. Tell them what you fantasize about, share something the person doesn't already know. Use your own language for sex and body parts; you don't have to try to be cutesy or use slang you're not comfortable with. Give them an image to savor, whether something you've done together or
want to do. And sending it by snail mail is much preferred to email, because they will then, hopefully, want to tear your clothes off after they're done reading it.


Read more from Rachel Kramer Bussel on her blog, Lusty Lady, check out interviews with the contributors to
Best Sex Writing 2008 right here, and visit Babeland's website for more information on Sunday's love and lust letter writing workshop. 


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Em & Lo, more formally known as Emma Taylor and Lorelei Sharkey, are the self-proclaimed Emily Posts of the modern bedroom.

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