by Angela Caperton
Context is everything. I happen to think voyeurism and exhibitionism are hotter when they are forbidden.
In today’s world, exposed skin is easy to find. The most innocent Google image search produces pictures that would have blown the mind of the Marquis de Sade. It’s easy to forget just how short a time ago that even a glimpse of printed female pubic hair was enough to arouse the professional interest of policemen and prosecutors.
I set my story “Calendar Girl” (published in Peep Show) in the 1950s, because I wanted to play with the contrast between my heroine’s unexpressed sexuality and the expectations of that more repressed age. So I started with the premise that Desi finds a pin-up calendar with imperfect airbrushing, that the sight of a girl like herself, completely exposed and enjoying it, triggers her own desire to be seen and admired by men. I hope that readers find the resulting story hot!
The 1950s are such a decade of contrasts. Mainstream culture was Ozzie and Harriet, postwar prosperity and unthinking conformity, but popular culture boiled and sizzled with repressed heat – rock and roll, passion pit drive-ins, Beatnik orgies of free thought and free love. Pin-up art was lowbrow culture, although Playboy worked tirelessly to make sex sophisticated. In the rearview mirror though, we have come to appreciate the talent of photographers like Bunny Yeager and the entrepreneurial fervor of guys like Irving Klaw, who helped make the decade sexier and more fun.
I based the photo shoot in my story on sketchy accounts of 50s era “camera clubs,” where amateur models stripped for eager photographers, feeding fantasies both private and public, and I told it through the model’s viewpoint because I wanted to explore the feelings of liberation and power that can come from a woman brave enough to bare herself on her own terms with men who want to share the thrill of her exposure.
Not long after I submitted this story for consideration in Peep Show, I was saddened to read about the death of Bettie Page. While I didn’t have Bettie in mind when I was writing “Calendar Girl”, there is no doubt that she was the queen of pin-up girls. So much has been written about her and what her iconic image meant to a generation, that I really can’t add anything to the discussion except to say that I admired her courage and her astonishing beauty, and that “Calendar Girl” should rightfully be dedicated to her.
Born in Virginia and later raised on a sailboat, Angela Caperton (”Calendar Girl”) has traveled extensively and appreciates the world in all its forms. Her erotic fantasy, Woman of the Mountain, won the 2008 Eppie for Best Erotica, and she has short stories in Lust at First Bite and Girls on Top.
Read “Calendar Girl” by Angela Caperton in the new anthology Peep Show: Tales of Voyeurs and Exhibitionists. An excerpt is below.
You can purchase Peep Show at your local bookstore or:
from “Calendar Girl”
by Angela Caperton
Charlie appeared like a genie to take the roses and she stood and walked to the screen, her breath faster and the line between her legs sodden and dripping. Desi paused beside the screen, looking at the lurid curtains and the sofa, like something in a sultan’s harem. She thought of the Arabian Nights and the woman who kept herself alive by telling stories, by enchanting a man with her talents.
She thought of April and her nipples tightened.
She shed her blouse, camisole and bra without hesitation, and before she put the blouse back on, she looked at the costumes on hangers behind the screen. Some of the shining fantasies were no bigger than her hand, and her nipples grew as hard as marbles as she imagined herself in glossy black and white, shining patches of satin. She stole a glimpse of herself in the mirror, unable to look directly at her image, the rising curves with dark rigid tips, and her face that of the woman in Bobby’s photos.
She slipped on the sheer blouse and buttoned it to the place Mr. Bentley had asked for, aware of every place the linen touched her, its cling no more than mist, but intense as a warm finger. She stepped from behind the screen, her blood pulsing in her ears, her throat, and her treasure. Almost giddy, she walked toward the men and their cameras.
Tags: 1950's, Angela Caperton, anthology, arousal, Bettie Page, Bunny Yaeger, calendar girl, camera clubs, Cleis Press, erotica, exhibitionism, exhibitionist, Irving Claw, Peep Show, photography, pinup, pinup calendar, Playboy, posing, Rachel Kramer Bussel, sex, voyeur, voyeurism