Horror and erotica have always operated as cousins of sorts, or perhaps incestuous siblings, consistently juggling the horrific and erotic elements and attempting to elicit surprise when one arouses readers more than the other. The shock value of seeing horror elements turned erotic, and the opposite—where the normally merely erotic becomes fright-inducing or (in extremes) revolting, would seem to provide in itself the excuse to indulge in such games. If you add the added benefit of arousing the reader, challenging his or her expectations, and tickling an exposed funny bone or two, you would have reason enough to pick up Deep Inside, Polly Frost’s entertaining collection of ten "extreme erotic fantasies."
It’s safe to bet that not every story will ring your bell, nor should they. A smattering of science fiction tropes peppers the book with satirical, yet thoughtful explorations of potential developments in human history—alien sex, for instance, in the sense of having addictive sex with contraband erotic aliens in "The Pleasure Invaders," and medical extrapolation to determine whether a generation of Viagra use would result in highly-sexed, doomed "Viagra Babies."
Some stories tease with a rather "hot" (fantasy) detail, then veer off into a la-la land of the bizarre; for instance, in "The Threshold," perhaps the most well-rounded horror story in the book, Catholic school girls wear G-strings under their uniform skirts and bicker over who’s still a virgin and why. Then come the mind controllers and sacred virgin blood rituals for a conclusion that works both as horror and all too effective metaphor for entering adulthood. In "Deep Inside," two ravishing lovers mold magical dildos for cash (and use some to mete out comeuppance), but also risk angering ‘the Sisterhood’ with the illicit voodoo rituals that imbue the cloned members with unexpected qualities. "The Orifice" turns into a kinky but also twisted meditation on power, piercing, and stigmata. "Test Drive" recalls 80s-90s SF-porn pseudo-extrapolations about future virtual sex devices, but here the catch is that people "correct" their self-view through these devices and concentrate on their own pleasure, rather than their partners’—at least until a new product threatens to reverse the paradigm.
No subject is taboo for Frost, whose protagonists are unabashedly caught up in their rape, asphyxiation, mutilation-murder-and-death fantasies. The joke is that many of the scenarios don’t end the way you think they will, so if you stay to the end your pay-off will include a healthy slice of the ironic and satirical. Some stereotypes are turned on their heads (literally) and some conventions are punctured (also literally) as the book careens through its subject with vigor and authorial cheekiness.
Occasionally frustrating is the "film treatment" style of the more SF-flavored tales, in which a big concept is sketched in with a mere sentence or two . . . perhaps to get setting and background out of the way so the sex can take center stage, but also missing opportunities for more subtle (and convincing) world-building. Though, to be fair, subtlety and world-building are clearly not the intended focus. Shocking to some readers will be the frank (nicely smutty) language characters and protagonists alike employ—no rosy, literary euphemisms for genitalia and copulation here! No, the direct porn versions of those words unite to give the collection a sort of feverishly hot rhythm that, at its best, mimics the beat of the fucking and sucking it describes. This approach is not humorless, either.
If the test of effectiveness for such a collection is a certain level of, er, interest, then it can be confirmed that most sex scenes achieved their intended results. In many cases, those intended results include inducing laughter, the kind of knowing snickering we indulge in when we know satire is being perpetrated even while we’re being tickled by scenes we would normally dub "naughty" or extreme (which some will inevitably see as perverted). In the end, Frost’s visions of human sexuality entertain on several levels, but still manage to make some uncomfortable points about more than just sex. The breezy, straightforward style tricks readers into going along for a ride which, occasionally, many would deny interests them at all. But reversals are just part of the fun of Deep Inside, and what help make it a captivatingly titillating experience. The famous Ron Jeremy gives the book his stamp of approval, and that in itself should tell you something.
$12.95 (trade paperback)