DarkEcho Horror
Venus by Rick Berry

Cara Bruce & The Joy of Smut
By Paula Guran
May 2000

"What's wrong with being deviant? I like deviance." -- Cara Bruce

Cara Bruce likes smut.

She writes it -- stories published in The Unmade Bed, The Oy of Sex, Best Lesbian Erotica 2000, Best Women's Erotica 2000, Uniform Sex, Best Women's Erotica 2001 (forthcoming), etc.

She edits it -- formerly at, now at and as editor of anthology Viscera. (Paperback/ 204 pages/ ISBN: 0967363802).

She also publishes it -- through Venus or Vixen Press, a very naughty little publishing company

And she looks like such a nice girl...

"When I came up with the idea for Viscera," she writes in the anthology's introduction, "I was feeling numb -- attempting to shut out pain. I daydreamed about throwing myself through windows and being cut with glass just to feel something. I also fucked like a banshee. I had sex more frequently, rougher and harder than I ever had in my life. All in the hopes of feeling something. I figured if neither the fear of death nor the pleasure in sex could make me feel again I didn't know what could."

Cara Bruce There was no hidden purpose in her frank, personal introduction. "I find it interesting to read personal things about other people so I thought I would do the same," she says. "And I wanted to honestly explain why I put out this book, everything in the introduction is true."

For Viscera, Bruce intentionally sought out material that other editors warn NOT to send. Sick stories. Bizarre stories. Violent, painful, and, of course, sex-filled stories. "I wanted to push the boundaries and do something different, I figured if I did a submission call that was what other editors rejected that I could get all of the 'different' material." She rejected "stories that weren't very well written or didn't hold my attention, but no story was specifically rejected for being too out there. I was really surprised about that. But maybe that's a reflection on me. I think I'm getting to the point where nothing surprises or shocks me anymore and I think that after reading all of the submissions to Viscera I was definitely not shockable."

cover Viscera turned out to be something neither the editor expected -- or, possibly, what anticipatory readers expect. Yes, it touches on some taboo areas --necrophilia, incest, blasphemy, various fetishes and perversions; yes, it's full of enough explicit sex to not only to steam up your reading glasses but melt them down; and yes, there may be something or other as likely to gross you out as titillate you (although you might be surprised at what grossness titillates, that's part of the charm of dark erotica). But it also turns out to be as darkly humorous as it is disturbing and you'll giggle more often than you will flinch. Erotica should never be dull, and Viscera seldom is. Plus, although pain is incorporated in many of the stories, there's a vast variety of the bizarre. In "Bedroom Virology, Thomas Roche does a turn on the mad scientist with a vial of killer-virus that makes you break into a sweat for more than one reason; M. Christian's violent dykes in "the Bang Gang" terrorize and tease a ladies' room; death's a nuisance, but not much more, to the specialized denizens of the ultimate whorehouse in Eve Rings's "Bethehem's Burning." Some are simply surrealistic -- like "Restoration" by Heather Corinna, "The Muse" by m. i. blue, "In Her Wake" by Amy Rasmussen, and "Blue" by Jerry Juarez; Michelle Scalise's "Wages of Faith" is seriously dark. Lydia Lunch offers a little hard-boiled noir with "Petty Intrusion, Carol Queen gives a realistic edge to fantasy in "Knife," and Cecila Tan's sex is science fictional in "Now." Bruce took some editorial chances and several stories aren't quite as polished as most in the book, but they at least pack some sort of provocative punch. Viscera is, indeed, gutsy and it'll lift your libido, launch some laughs, and maybe even cause some cogitation.

Why did Bruce decide to get into publishing such stuff? "I was getting bored by the way erotica seemed to be getting too accepted and too PC. I wanted to do something different, but I wanted to be really out there/ I figured I would have to do it myself. of Venus or Vixen's intent is to either piss people off or amuse them or turn them on -- basically just to get out books that other people wouldn't put out...Besides, smut more fun than financial writing and dark smut is more fun than normal smut."

So, here's a woman who writes, edits, and publishes sexually explicit material that some would term pornography. Didn't Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon teach us pornography is a systematic practice of exploitation and subordination based on sex that harms women? Doesn't this stuff inspire deviance, degrade women, and promote violence? "Just as much as making stupid blondes backstab each other on prime time television or in movies degrades women. In most of these stories the woman are the antagonists, protagonists or the strong one in the scenario. Female characters are sucking the blood out of a frat man's dick or demanding that some guy's head be chopped off. Besides, it's fantasy -- many women have submissive fantasies and there is nothing wrong with that. Besides, what's wrong with being deviant? I like deviance."

And she looks like such a nice girl...

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Copyright © 2002 Paula Guran. All Rights Reserved.