“Backstage Passes,” an anthology of erotica written by and about the types of people you might see alternately sobbing or fighting in the front row of either a Danzig or Dead Can Dance concert, is itself a time portal through which we can see a simpler time.
Yes, though 1990 still had AIDS and condoms, not one of the characters in this book, be they rock star, hermaphrodite, loser, or part-time lesbian bass player, ever Tweets, Googles, or LOLs.
I asked “Backstage Passes” editor Amelia G., the altporn impresario and editor of BlueBlood Magazine, if these stories illustrated how the more things stayed the same the more they changed.
For some people, the specific soundtrack changes, but a lot of the appeal of music is sexual. Over the years, more people might find themselves aroused by The Rolling Stones or ChemLab or My Chemical Romance or Eminem or Adam Lambert or the tunes in their own heads or whatever they can shake it to in the club, but the common thread is the eroticism of music and music subculture. I think the human yearning for adventure remains the same.
So much music subculture sex is set up on social networking sites today and then has the potential for fallout long after the tour bus has rolled on to the next city. So I’m interested to see how those themes are addressed or avoided in submissions for the “Backstage Passes” sequel.
“Backstage Passes” is a sometimes uneven collection of dirty stories, with the compelling ones being the most timeless and the weaker ones also managing to capture the essence of what it was like to be young and punk, young and goth, or young and a vampire two decades ago.
For me, the cooler the erotica, the less apparent the wish fulfillment, and the less turgid the prose. In Sephera Giron’s “Bodie,” a portly writer seduces her chiropractor. In Yon Von Faust’s “Lacerations,” a sexual hemophiliac haunts New York City. We think, even Clive Barker is bad when he’s bad.
But in pieces like the prolific Thomas Roche’s “Sticky Fingers,” Cecilia Tan’s “Rock Steady,” and Will Judy’s poignant “Temporary Assignment,” our characters hook up, break apart, and don’t make us hate them while they agonize over it (Judy’s piece was the lone working-class story in the bunch, more Springsteen than Siouxsie And the Banshees).
While there is some juvenilia in “Backstage Passes” that might just mortify the original authors (in “Pipe Dreams,” Shariann Lewitt has Mary Shelley summoned from the grave by a guy named Tim, and it’s not supposed to be funny), and populated by characters named “Darwyn” and “Sina,” there are entries that don’t need a time stamp to be relevant, such as the second-thought swingers of “Accept No Substitutes” by Sarah McKinley Oakes.
“Backstage Passes” was reissued after the dissolution of its previous publishing company. Amelia G. says the original saw release when the world was different.
The first edition of “Backstage Passes” was a mass market paperback. In addition to all the current chain stores and tons of independent booksellers, it got to readers via specialty distribution arrangements and was one of the only books selected to be carried by every Tower Records in the world.
The new edition is currently available as a trade paperback via the BlueBloodBooks.com site, Amazon worldwide, and Barnes & Noble online and will hit brick and mortar bookstore shelves in September. The 2010 edition of Backstage Passes is also available as an ebook via iTunes, Nook, Sony, the BlueBloodBooks.com site and elsewhere. Although the theme of the eroticism of music subcultures is eternal, the way we live and get our music and our sex and even our books has changed.
Since it is a reissue, the occasional datedness is often charming. Not only that, but every story (save for the last one), has at least one very useful sex scene in it. Read it and Douglas Coupland’s “Microserfs” for a complete picture of a more innocent time.
BlueBlood is currently seeking submissions for a followup on its own imprint, Amelia G. says:
In addition to the “All Access Pass” sequel to the “Backstage Passes” anthology, Blue Blood will shortly be announcing a number of anthologies and single author collections. Writers and photographers, who have significant bodies of work sufficient for a quality collection or who are interested in contributing to multi-author anthologies, can find guidelines at BlueBloodBooks.com