Taking A Position

ShowgirlsHave you seen the movie Showgirls? Yeah, I know. It received wretched reviews, was universally bashed by critics and received the Razzie® for worst picture of the year and worst picture of the decade. Egad. In spite of all the bashing, though, I do have to say that I thought the sex scenes were . . . um . . . interesting. One in particular comes to mind, and that’s when Elizabeth Berkley and Kyle MacLachlan are having sex in his swanky pool. First she goes down on him underwater (with Olympian breath-holding ability, apparently) and then they finish the deed when she surfaces, wraps her legs around his waist, and flops around like a gasping fish, becoming more and more frenzied the closer they get to the finish line.

I bring this up because it’s one of those situations in which a scene that’s supposed to be hot comes across as hilarious. I find the same thing to be sometimes true in erotic romance, and it’s often due to the erratic descriptions of the lovemaking. At times the couples seem to be in positions so crazy that I can’t figure out what’s going on. Instead of enjoying a hot, sexy love scene, I’m either choking back giggles or just utterly confused. Why, exactly, is the hero wrapping his arms behind the heroine to caress her breasts when she’s actually facing him?

I give leeway to those authors who are describing scenes involving multiple participants. I heard an editor talking about that very subject recently, and she said one author she deals with actually keeps dolls on hand in order to make sure she’s accurately capturing the action and not accidentally describing a physically impossible feat. Nonetheless, those scenes are tricky. For me there’s a fine line between having the hero and heroine in sexy, interesting positions and having those scenes devolve into a train wreck because of the difficulty in figuring out what’s going on.

Clearly the talent of the author plays a large role. If she’s got the chops, her hero and heroine can be dangling from a skyscraper, upside down and fully clothed while doing the deed and the reader will be gasping for water to cool down. But there’s a point, even for the best of writers, when too much acrobatics are just a distraction instead of enhancing the scene’s heat.

It’s interesting, too, that erotic romances don’t often have a lot of position changes within a given scene. Does that reflect the preference of the reader? The sex scenes are hot, but generally progress in an expected way: kissing, fondling, coupling, finish. What about if they went instead: kissing, fondling, coupling, position change, more coupling, position change, finish? Would that appear to readers too reflective of porn films?

What do you think? Do you need position changes to spice up a scene or do you think that less is more? I’d love to hear your position on positions!

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