The romance covers post got me thinking. How do plain old erotica book covers stack up to the waxed and buff male torso that signifies a hot read? Let’s see. I’m going to start with A. N. Roquelaure’s Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, which is the porniest mainstream book I know, chockablock with kink, and one that would be stocked widely.
These are the versions I have. Subtle, but you have to wonder what the hell is going on in those pics. They have a coloring book feel, as if repeatedly xeroxed artwork has been filled in with colored pencils. I know that sounds like a criticism, but it isn’t. They’re subtle and suggestive, the blurriness implying naughty stuff is going on in the parts of the picture we can’t see, and the naughtiness has a classic, old-fashioned feel, fairy-tale feel, as the actual novels do. They create a mood, in short, and subtly inform the reader what to expect.
A similar principal is at work here, though the sleeping woman is older and more worldly looking than Beauty as presented in the books. She is flushed, suggesting she is having an erotic dream. The nightdress looks Victorian, but has fallen, exposing her breasts. This suggests she will be losing her repressions in the book. She is not model-perfect or “sexy” by today’s porn standards — think blow-up doll — or movie-star sensual (think Monica Bellucci in her heyday) but still it is a sensual picture.
Here, a single flower represents the main character’s… pureness? Virginity? It has a Georgia O’Keefe feel, but without the genitalia suggestions. It’s elegant, but the book might be about wedding planning as far as we know. I would guess this version was released recently, when it is more commonly known Anne Rice wrote explicit erotica that it is available in major bookstores for everyone to read. As such, neither the book nor she need much help from a cover to inform readers what the book is and what it does.
These editions (the combined erotica trilogy is on the right) forestall puritan criticism by being simply text. but notice also the similarity to the Andrew Lang fairy tale book at the bottom, published by Dover Publications. Every book in the Lang series had the name of color in the title and all got this treatment. The books are copyright free now so perhaps there will be other versions from different publishers.
I’ll be continuing this series later.