Effective January 2014, the Blog-Zine is cosed to new posts and is going dark. The blog and its archives will stay "up," though, so please feel free to peruse the archives and discover all of the great books, authors, articles, and other features that have joined me here over the years. Thanks to all who helped make my Blog-Zine adventure a raging success! Read on!

21 May, 2008

It Ain't Easy Being Blue...Or Purple

The release of Purple Panties, an Eroticanoir.com Anthology (May 2008, Strebor Books), has given some folks reason to re-evaluate their stance on erotica fiction, or so it would seem. The book's editor, ZANE, has either edited or written many erotica anthologies and novels before now, and each of them have been nationally praised, making the emergence of backlash surrounding Purple Panties all the more surprising.

Could it be the contents? ZANE thinks not, since none of her works have ever held back on steamy, erotic, R-rated content, and none of the venues that normally promote, carry and sell her work have ever expressed concern. Purple Panties, she says, is no more or no less erotic than its predecessors, so that can't be it. So why then, following the release of Purple Panties, have some venues decided to cease promoting erotica altogether and still others to hold off on hosting book signings for the anthology?

ZANE believes the subject matter of Purple Panties is the catalyst - the fact that it is an anthology made up of lesbian erotica. Ironically, many of her novels and many of the stories featured in the anthologies she has edited contain some degree of same-sex sexual content. It's the stuff she's become legendary for - advocating sexual awareness & freedom and normalizing sexual pleasure; the stuff legions of fans, both male and female, have come to appreciate. Purple Panties is meant to be a part of the feminine revolution she spearheaded some years back, not a separate entity. That's why ZANE was, at first, taken aback by the reception it received, and then appalled.

In a letter she recently posted electronically for fans worldwide, titled, "Zane's Apology for the Status of Today's World", ZANE touches on the opposition Purple Panties has received and the reasons for it. Here, in an interview with yours truly, she discusses the status of today's world in greater detail and challenges us all to more closely examine the differences between what we say and what we do.

ZANE speaks...

ME: You've rightfully earned the title, "The Queen of Erotica", because your works have awakened womens' sexuality and given voice to womens' deepest erotic thoughts. What inspired you to come forward and go where no other African-American woman had ever gone before?

ZANE: It is not that I have gone where no other African-American woman has ever gone before. When I first started writing erotica in late-1997, I was surprised to discover that there was an entire underground world of Black erotica on the Internet. There had also been a few erotica collections published, such as the bestselling Erotique Noire. I only say that because I do not want to give the impression that it was a new thing, like so many try to do with the success of street novels and state that is has never been done. Donald Goines and Iceberg Slim were doing it before I was born.

Now I did do something unique in that I managed to take Black erotica mainstream, and move the books from the back of the store to the front displays. In turn, that brought about the emergence of the current erotica boom.

What inspired me to do it was the ton of advice mails that I received from women who were confused about their sexuality and relationships. To this day, I still get roughly 50 advice emails every single day between Eroticanoir.com and MySpace. It is imperative that women learn to A) embrace their sexuality and B) liberate their minds. Otherwise, they will continue to have a ton of regrets, live every day in confusion, and fail to be satisfied.

ME: You've either authored or edited previous erotica novels and anthologies, and they've all been extremely well received. Your newest anthology, Purple Panties, is experiencing a slightly different, less enthusiastic reception. Why do you think that is?

ZANE: I don't think, I know that it is because of the lesbian theme. There is no way that I have gotten away with such books as Gettin' Buck Wild and APF: The Indoctrination of Soror Ride Dick and now, all of a sudden, a book is too racy. The public and my readers are extremely enthusiastic and I believe that it will be my most successful book yet. I know my market, my core demographics and, quite frankly, the book is "hot!" No way I can lose with it and the sales are pouring in. If some stores and book clubs do not want to carry the book, it is ultimately their loss. I am disappointed though. I thought that we had come a lot farther in society than we apparently have. There is still a long, long way to go.

ME: In an interview I did with Blogging In Black, I said, "Rejection is not so much personal as it is a challenge." While Purple Panties certainly isn't being rejected by the masses, there have been instances of objection in some form. Do you view this as a challenge and, if so, in what way?

ZANE: To be honest, I do not view getting Purple Panties out there as a challenge. After all, people have to remember that I managed to sell more than a million books without ever doing a booksigning. I did not go on tour until my seventh book. However, I feel the challenge is to help other authors who have been discriminated against because of their sexual preference and writings. They got the right one now, because if there is one thing that I am, it is a crusader. I have often heard that gay and lesbian books have a harder time in the marketplace. Now I see that it is because of the marketplace and the decision makers themselves, and not the quality of the work. People are forced to purchase the books online or at independent stores that appreciate all good work.

ME: To some extent, the GLBT community still feels marginalized, despite greater visibility and movements for more societal acknowledgment. How will Purple Panties help lesbian and bisexual women feel both more comfortable in their own skin and with expressing their sexuality?

ZANE: It is my sincere hope that, like all my books, lesbian and bisexual women will realize that they are normal, that it is okay to have feelings that do not fall into the norm of society, and that shedding inhibitions can be a truly exhilarating experience. I have already heard from a lot of women who are afraid to come out of the closet because of fear that their family and friends will treat them badly. I cannot put myself in their shoes but I know that I would be open about mine. My mother told my father earlier today about the opposition that I have faced with my latest book. My father has been a minister for more than fifty years and even he was disgusted by the fact that people cannot accept one another as they are.

If nothing else, Purple Panties will give people a ton of ideas but it will also hopefully encourage people to be themselves.

ME: Sexual oppression can and often does lead to oppression in other areas of women's lives. In helping women connect with their inner-sexuality, do you feel they're also positively confronting oppression in other areas of their lives?

ZANE: That is my entire purpose. To liberate women sexually so that it will trickle over into all the other aspects of their lives. Because of the way most women are brought up, sex is usually the area that they feel the least comfortable opening up about. If they can bridge that gap, then they can feel empowered when it comes to their careers, their parenting and everything else.

ME: It's possible gay men might feel left out, because Purple Panties features stories celebrating lesbian and bisexual women exclusively. If this is the case, can you give them any assurances that their voices are important and will be heard?
ZANE: Well, I have published many gay and lesbian books. People can find the section on http://www.zanestore.com/. Lee A. Hayes has edited a wonderful anthology of gay short stories called "Flesh to Flesh" that comes out at the end of May, but people can purchase a copy now at my store.

I believe in good writing, period. I believe in books that speak to the emotions and experiences of real life. I believe in books that move me in some way and in order to accomplish that, it does not always have to be something that I have personally experienced. Individuality is what makes life interesting. Can you imagine if everyone did the same exact things? I would not be able to stand it.

I just signed Lee up for his fourth book entitled "The Bad Seed." Rodney Lofton's next book is called "No More Tomorrows" and Laurinda A. Brown's next book is called "The Highest Price for Passion." Reginald Hall is also working on his second novel.

One thing is certain and that is, Purple Panties is not the first lesbian erotica anthology ever published. However, not in quite some time, if ever, has there been an anthology of its kind with as staunch a supporter as ZANE behind it. Years ago, she began her writing career with a mission to help women free themselves, sexually, professionally and personally. And if we need proof that she's accomplished her mission, we can ask any one of her millions of female fans.

Has ZANE gone where no other African-American woman has gone before? She needs to go ahead and accept that she has and stop being so modest. Underground Black erotica is one thing. Worldwide truth-telling and millions of women who now consider themselves free to be purple, or any other color they want to be, is something else entirely.

Folks, I have a feeling this ain't over...

Listen ladies, I have a Purple Panties Gift Basket in my possession right this minute, waiting on YOU. Email me your testimony about how ZANE'S books have helped you overcome some form of oppression in your life and you could be the lucky winner. Better make it good, and while you're at it...make it quick.
** Click on the title of this post to read "ZANE'S Apology for the Status of Today's World" **


Anonymous said...

Good interview.

I was a contributing writer in another lesbian anthology and did notice how it was looked at "funny" by others.

Hopefully, more of society will simply recognize good writing and good stories.

Terra Little said...

Hopefully. Thanks for stopping by. Come back often!