Clit Lit

Our correspondent takes to the beach with a handful of girl books and a freshly waxed crotch.

BEAUTIFUL BODIES

by Laura Shaine Cunningham

Washington Square Press, $24

THE CLITOURIST

by Karen Salmansohn

Universe Publishing, $15.95

SHAMELESS: WOMEN'S INTIMATE EROTICA

edited by Hanne Blank

Seal Press, $14.95

Down on all fours and screaming, I instruct the esthetician to stop.

"I need to rest for just a minute," I gasp. She casts me a cheesy glance of understanding—not unlike those shared between the dreamy, ample, oh-so-worldly women in Laura Shaine Cunningham's new novel Beautiful Bodies.

"I'm going to slide this pillow under your hips for better access," the esthetician says as she turns me over. I lie on my back, my knees bent, my thighs quivering. On the advice of Karen Salmansohn's The Clitourist, an illustrated guide to the vagina for those who can't tell their Down There from a hole in the wall, I've taken this currently vogue step in pussy maintenance: the Brazilian bikini wax. The pain has not yet subsided, but it's now possible for me to prance furless around the house.

Time to celebrate the pussy, look at it from different angles, examine its sexual and social functions. The crotch feels emotions, forges alliances, strikes balances. Three new books—Cunningham's Beautiful Bodies, Salmansohn's forthcoming The Clitourist, and a new anthology of erotica entitled Shameless: Women's Intimate Erotica—explore the crotch's hairy dealings. They confront us with its needs, alert us to its subtle (or not so subtle) control, and bathe us in its juices.

Toting the Cunningham novel—its title suggesting bare flesh in close proximity to other bare flesh—I took my bald crotch to the beach.

"I'll show you a beautiful body," promised a tanned blond boy. Polka dots, flowers, and flesh paraded by. I was almost too absorbed to notice, entranced by Cunningham's well-dressed ladies of a cold Manhattan night—hostess Jessie, beautiful Sue Carol, tailored Martha. They seethe with bared nerve endings. Cat litter, liposuction, rent control, and diets obscure the joys of joyous sex, limber sex, illicit sex. Jokes and colloquialisms in quotes induce cringing the way quotes made in the air with fingers do in conversation. The women's interactions evoke a cringe, too: the knowing glances between old friends, the scorn of marriage, and the chagrin at aging. Their female foibles are true but boring.

Still, Beautiful Bodies captures the retreat of aging pussy accurately, the way women mature into a deep appreciation of loyal homosocial companions. The crotch both attracts the attention of men and is a common point of understanding between women. And such knowledge spans generations, as when Sue Carol recalls something her mother used to say regarding her father's crotchly attentions: "Some nights, I do just want to bite it off."

The parade of bathing beauties on the beach recaptures my attention. The sun slants toward setting as a vixen topples in the sand. I stand up to help her, tying the strings of my bikini.

"Excuse me, young vixen, are you all right?" Her butt is in the sand, her suit askew. I put my hand out. She puts her sandy finger in her mouth and touches it to her clit. I feel sympathy rise in my crotch, forging an alliance with her own bald nether region. I remind her politely to towel her pussy off carefully, as sand might cause irritation during intercourse.

Thanks to the The Clitourist, my knowledge of pussy care is complete, and thanks to Shameless: Women's Intimate Erotica, I'm thinking like a Penthouse Forum contributor.

The stories in Shameless seem to have been selected for their cheap appeal to the basest of urges. Hanne Blank has compiled a collection of confessions, memories, and fantasies—including lots of sex, lots of clit, and lots of fists. Near-fisting at the art museum, cream on the motorcycle seat, fingers in June Cleaver's behind—the stories yield blow-by-blow accounts of rendezvous and romps.

Lust and creativity fuel Shameless sex; but while the pop, snap, and stretch of latex may remind you of proper pussy care, the girls of Shameless have done a lot more reading than just The Clitourist. The girls of Shameless break down each other's inhibitions and let their bodies do the explaining. Far from Trisha Krauss' daintily detached illustrations in The Clitourist, Shameless illustrates the many uses for a clit in much more vivid language.

The Clitourist, on the whole, is a gentle introduction to the hole, full of prettily drawn, bikini-clad lovelies. It suggests things like teasing as a turn-on and describes the two types of orgasm. A Shameless romp is wet and creamy: You will collapse in a sweaty, spent pile afterward.

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