Your Erotic Personality: Identifying and Understanding Your Sexual Self
By Sage Vivant
Berkley Books, NY, 2007
I’ve known Sage Vivant since she began creating erotic stories tailored to customers’ specific requirements. I thought this was a brilliant idea, and Your Erotic Personality, the book based on her experiences in the biz, is more brilliant yet. There was a time when publishers wouldn’t do a book like YEP unless it was written by a shrink, but they’re finally catching on: those who work in the so-called sex industry—strippers, phone sex operators, erotic writers, sex-toy store clerks—almost always end up learning more about human sexuality than any psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker, no matter how many letters follow his or her name. Having myself worked for a time as a phone sex operator, I recognize where the insights in Vivant’s book are coming from: her customers. Straight from the heart. Those insights are woven into the pop-psych quiz formula popularized in women’s magazines. My mother subscribed to every rag in that genre, even the racy Cosmopolitan, and my sister and I would raid them monthly for the quizzes—it was almost an obsession with us.
Good Housekeeping: What Kind of Housekeeper Are You? The Nitpicker, The Guest Pleaser, The I’ve-Got-More-Important-Things-To-Do-Gal.
Redbook: Has the Romance Gone Out of Your Marriage? Twenty Ways to Find Out.
Ladies Home Journal: What Kind of Kids Are You Raising? This Time Mommy Takes the Test!
Cosmopolitan: Is He Your Best Bet? 50 Questions To Ask Yourself About Him.
This was in the 50s; these days the magazines are more likely to run pop-psych quizzes exactly like YEP’s—and I hope some of them do.
YEP begins with the questionnaire, and it’s the best kind—you can check multiple boxes, thereby eliminating the agony my sister and I suffered over every question. After you calculate your score, via a much less complicated formula than most of Cosmo’s, you’ll know which of 12 erotic personalities, based on Vivant’s story requests, sounds like you.
(In the interests of full disclosure: I was one of Vivant’s early staff writers, but for a variety of complicated reasons, I never actually got an assignment; I’ve just signed a new agreement with her. Stay tuned.)
For those cynics who think this is all too simplistic, think about astrology. I’ve always looked upon it as a kind of alternate language, a way of communicating truth to people via a code of symbols other than the verbal we use almost exclusively. Some people relate to that code, and others don’t. Like astrology, YEP is just another way to communicate (sexual) truths. Some people will relate to this language and others won’t.
Besides, Vivant is intelligent and sophisticated enough to know that her system isn’t an ultimatum or the final word on individual eroticism. From the get-go she says, “I’m not much on typecasting, and I often flunk personality tests because I can’t commit to one mood/course of action/response…” but “…certain undeniable categories have emerged that I’ve been able to quantify and describe.”
By now you’re probably dying to know what the 12 erotic personalities are. Uh uh. I don’t kiss and tell—you’ll have to buy the book, or at least leaf through it, to find out. But I will talk about my own experience with YEP.
Naturally, I took the test. I know my sexual self pretty well, so there were no big surprises. Which doesn’t mean I didn’t learn anything—I did. I’ve got underlinings and stars all over the Bottom chapter. Vivant did a bang-up job on a complex and difficult topic that a lot of writers screw up, namely, power exchange, or Tops and Bottoms. She dispels some of the myths that run rampant about S/M, and digs a little deeper. “Sex is rarely just sex to a true Bottom,” she says, nailing this type with precision. “It’s tied into a plethora of emotions and needs.”
Vivant can also be funny, and applies some of her humor to the questions in her survey, to wit:
The idea of being blindfolded during sex sounds:
a. Like a great way to catch some shut-eye without getting any grief; b. great because your partner has put on a little weight lately and you’d rather not have to look at it. This kind of stuff had me LOL.
Another thing that cracked me up was Vivant’s lists of characters or celebrities under each personality type. In the Bottom category she names Whoever Mick Jagger is singing about in Under My Thumb. Some of you may recall my story in Herotica 5 about that very same person. (Note to self: Post UMT next Erotic Friday.)
Just as I identify with nearly every sign in the zodiac, I related to most of the personality types in the book. As Vivant says, we all have a little bit of most types inside us, but only one is likely to stay with us from womb to tomb, from foreplay to afterglow, influencing everything from fantasies to major life decisions. Her thesis reminded me of Jack Morin’s theory of the Core Erotic Theme, identified in his book The Erotic Mind (also highly recommended).
In her introduction Vivant says “I hope you take away a profound respect and pride for who you are sexually and how you enjoy expressing that unique self.” This is really the heart of the matter, the reason sexual self-help books are so popular and so necessary. Simply put, they counteract our sex-negative culture and give people permission to be sexual.
Besides having had a grand time with YEP myself, I now know what I’m giving my sister for Christmas. She’s so sexually shy she won’t even read my anthologies—but if there’s one language she well understands—and can’t resist–it’s Pop-Psyche Quiz-ish.
For more information on the book, Sage Vivant, and Custom Erotica Service, go to www.sagevivant.com.