Interview with Chloe Blaque
New York author, Chloe Blaque, writes non-fiction culture pieces under a different name by day and contemporary erotic romance by night. She populates her novels with smart, career-driven heroines while her heroes are successful playboys who find romance in the most unexpected places. Sparks fly when they crash into love all over the world.
Chloe’s first erotic romance, Survival of the Fiercest, is a multicultural romance set in Chloe’s New York hometown. She followed it with Doing London, a smart, contemporary story that follows the exploits of Joey Vasquez. Joey is the former porn star, Josie Pink who has abandoned her X-rated L.A. lifestyle. Her new life has her selling goods on Great Britain’s answer to the Home Shopping Network, QTV. Joey has left the world of whips and chains and lives by two rules: stay out of trouble and don’t bed celebrities. Her personal edicts fly out window when she meets Italian soccer star, Marco Verazi, the perfect alpha, rich, powerful, sexual, yet loving and emotionally available. Marco throws a monkey wrench into Joey’s carefully constructed world of all work and no play and the fun begins.
Doing London contains elements sadly missing in many contemporary romances, contemporary humor combined with generous doses of social satire. In this era of 24-hour celebrity scrutiny, reality television, the Kardashians, and on-line pornography, Doing London is a spot-on examination of the human consequences of the TMZ, celebrity-driven world. Ms. Blaque does it with sophistication, charm, and skilled writing. “Slut shaming,” sexual psychosis (although the author doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of Joey’s lurid past), and quaking virgins are thankfully absent from Doing London. The reader is left with a delightful take on our modern obsession with celebrity culture done with great style, verve, and refreshing insight.
Q: “Chloe Blaque” is your erotica nom de plume. You write non-fiction under another name and have authored pieces for a number of prestigious publications. What attracted you to erotic romance in the first place?
A: Well, I’ve been reading romance since I was 10 years old. A friend stole Wifey by Judy Blume from her mother and slipped it to me during class. It’s about a woman who is unsatisfied in her marriage. It’s not considered a romance novel, but there are relationship tensions and sexual situations. I couldn’t put it down. When I was finished with it, I went right to the public library of my small town and found myself in the romance section once a week. Historicals were my favorite back then. As an adult, I started my writing journey in non-fiction and penned a memoir. It was rejected over and over again and it was a dark period where I questioned being a writer at all. I needed to step away from non-fiction and write something for me. So I turned to what I loved, romance.
Q: Did the success of Fifty Shades of Grey have a role in your writing an erotic romance?
A: No. I was already working on my first novel when Fifty Shades became popular. I don’t think anyone had any idea what that book would do to the industry. Although I thank E.L. James for bringing the romance genre more mainstream-where prior I feel the genre was treated as a secret guilty pleasure-the buzz actually made shopping my novel around to editors a little tougher. Everyone was suddenly into BDSM, virgins, and billionaires while I was penning career driven grown women who were unlucky in love until they met their equal. I got published in the end, but I was nervous for a minute.
Q: Erotic romance has often been a world of timid virgins or sexually exploited neurotics. Why Josie?
A: Well, as a contemporary writer I like to keep the themes of my novels up to date and we don’t live in a world of timid virgins anymore. Today women own their sexuality and refuse to be slut shamed for it. We like sex. Sex is no longer a mystery or a secret. Due to the health risks, sex is something we prepare our teenagers for with condoms, dental dams, HPV vaccines, etc…it’s like getting ready for war. You have to be informed. Josie is the ultimate sexually active single woman. She buys her own condoms, has a closet of her own toys, and gets tested once a month—which is habit from her years as a porn star. The same can be said for any single women in the dating pool today.
Q: You didn’t leave out the negative aspects of the adult film industry. You must have learned a great deal while doing your research, yet your protagonist remains psychologically healthy despite the abuse of her checkered sexual past. Can you address that?
A: I did a ton of research, so this answer might be long. There is a misconception that anyone who want’s to be in porn has a psychological problem, or had been abused, etc. A lot of my inspiration for Josie’s character came from both Lorelei Lee and Jenna Jameson. Lorelei Lee holds an MFA from NYU, is a writer, and is fluent in four languages. Lee co-wrote the screenplay for About Cherry, a film based on her life about a young girl who becomes a webcam actress and she stars in a documentary called Public Sex, Private Lives. She is truly likeable and her accomplishments give her a healthy dose of self-esteem. Then there is Jenna. I read her memoir How to Make Love Like A Porn Star when it came out in 2004 and just fell in love with her strength. She told it all, from her rape as a young girl to being a stripper to becoming the Queen of Porn. She is a survivor with a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” mentality. That drive compelled Jenna to be a celebrity in her own right. I composited these aspects for Josie because I needed her to be strong enough to not only leave her controlling boyfriend but also the industry.
Most of that story line is actually in Survival of the Fiercest because Josie is a catalyst of trouble as she is just leaving her abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend rapper Big Skinny. Meanwhile, people always ask me who the inspiration was for Big Skinny. Snoop Dogg, of course! Remember Doggystyle? Snoop put that adult video out in early 2000 and it was actually on the music video charts for a minute.
Which brings me to the state of the industry itself. Although there is still a stigma and a morality issue that is attached to porn and people in porn, we began to see porn stars in rock music videos in the early 90’s, Jenna started her own entertainment company Club Jenna in 2000, and in 2007 Kim Kardashian’s sex tape came out with Vivid Entertainment. It’s not the drug induced misfit industry that it used to be in the 70’s. The line between mainstream celebrity and pornography has become blurred. Today you can’t count how many celebrities have sex tapes out. Kim Kardasian made her name from a widely distributed sex tape. No judgments, but she is technically a porn star. Actually, one could argue that you’d have to be crazier to be on a reality show than in porn.
Q: What was involved in writing a novel about a star in the adult film industry? Can you talk to that?
A: People probably think I watched a ton of porn. I watched some, but mostly I watched documentaries about making porn and about the lives of people in the industry. What you realize first is that porn is a business. When you see girls writhing and coming all the time, it’s a show. They are acting! The reality is that after work they change out of their latex, put on jeans, and go home to their couch. I love this documentary called After Porn which shows former sex workers who left the industry and took on a new career path. One woman became a bounty hunter! I think I expected ex-sex workers to be a mess, but several have healthy relationships and reminisce fondly about their time in porn. What was most interesting is seeing how porn has evolved from magazines, to video, to webcam, to now mobile phones. Porn has lasted longer than some of our big financial institutions.
Q: I loved the chapter when Joey meets a shy Brit and reverts back to Josie. It was an engaging scene and quite funny. Why did you add it?
A: I needed to show that Josie Pink is still learning how to be just Joey Vasquez. That means people liking her for her, not her celebrity. It also means having a real relationship and having real sex with no cameras or a crew involved. And ultimately she fails. The sex worker having a sex fail is a blow to the ego and a challenge that she works on throughout the book. Our hero is very helpful with that. 🙂
Q: What was it like educating yourself about adult videos, sex toys and BDSM?
A: In some cases, awesome. In others, shocking. I attended a BDSM workshop that is specifically for writers. Learning about the relationships between doms and submissives was really cool. We were shown how to use the toys. A woman orgasmed in front of us during a violet wand demonstration. That was awkward. But the “WTF” moments for me were when the painful stuff started happening. A young woman submitted to dozens of acupuncture needles in her back and there was this guy called “The Gynecologist” with all these probes… I’ll leave it at that. The workshop also treated us to a real BDSM club and this is where my inspiration for the dungeon came from. There were back rooms with some live sexual things happening for all to watch. My favorite, which I put in the book, was the carpet guy. Carpet guy rolls himself in a carpet and places himself in front of the bar so you have to step on him to get a drink. He derives sexual pleasure from this. I watched people jump up and down on this guy and his face just twisted in pleasure. I mean, WTF. What was really interesting was the community’s disdain for the BDSM depicted in Fifty Shades. Every instructor communicated their disappointment with Fifty because the book shows BDSM related to sexual deviancy and abuse. Plus true submissives almost never switch to doms and vice versa. So I made a note in Doing London to show that Josie was never truly into BDSM, but she has some beginner toys she likes to play with.
Q: Adult videos and porn stars seem to be an endangered species due to on-line porn sites. In writing Doing London you spoke to people involved in that world. Where do they see it going in the future?
A: Yeah, I have a male friend who used to be in some small time porn. The onslaught of free porn hurt the big businesses that had most of their stock in DVDs and full production films. It’s sad because the professionals are the ones who follow safety regulations. 90% of the free stuff looks like it was filmed in someone’s basement and a lot depicts violent behavior against women. These sites are fueled by advertising and have no qualms posting almost anything. The money these days is in the webcam business, which is usually a subscription service and it’s relatively low cost. And mobile phone availability is a must. There are still a few porn stars left, but the wide availability and saturation has made it harder to cultivate a fan base. Let’s be honest, porn is still a billion dollar industry, but more people have their hands in the pot and to survive you have to keep coming up with new ways to keep people hooked.
Q: You wrote an engaging alpha-male hero, but I noticed you invested him with romance and gallantry, something missing from Joey’s other relationships. In the world of Christian Grey and other Bryonic anti-heroes, what made you go in a lighter direction?
A: Josie needed a compliment in her hero. In my version, she is the Christian Grey who is drawn to a loving soul. And again, I like to keep my stories updated and somewhat realistic. Men are emotional creatures these days. Blame it on Feminism, I guess. As an Italian, Marco is very family oriented and was raised catholic, where Josie comes from a broken home and remembers religion only through memories of her late grandmother. I like to think my hero and heroine learn from each other. Plus women still want gallantry and chivalry. Christian Grey treated Anastasia like a princess; I think that is really what women were attracted to.
Q: Where do you see erotic romance and erotica going in the next few years?
A: It’s only going to increase and I see a lot of the influx from men. Men were reading Fifty Shades to see what their girlfriends were so hyped about and they got a little hooked. I also just read a statistic that said the M/M category is also being read by women. So our ideas of audience are changing dramatically, which means there is more that is untapped.
Q: I understand your next novel is set in Tokyo. Would you give the readers a sneak peek?
A: Well, its still a work in progress but I can tell you that two characters from Doing London will be experiencing the kinky side of the Tokyo sex scene. My research for this one has been insane. Like, my mind is blown by some of the sexy, and not so sexy, things that are happening in Japan for titillation purposes. Oh, and I’m going to address one other thing I found out about the porn industry. For a ridiculous amount of money, you too can have sex with a porn star. You just have to know who to call. I’m having an amazing time writing it. I can’t wait to finish and I can’t wait for you to read it!
Image courtesy of Lee Rene
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