When I was a young child, my father would tuck me into bed and, on occasion, he would read to me. I don’t pretend to have been a normal child, (I’m certainly not a “normal” adult) and perhaps I have my dad to thank for that. After my father returned from Vietnam, while my parents were separated, he brought out a deeply edited, abridged and cleaned up version of The Thousand Nights and a Night, also known as The Arabian Nights, originally translated by the sexual adventurer and bisexual, Richard Burton (not the actor and ex-husband of Elizabeth Taylor). He would sit next to my bed and read about the exotic, violent and sexy adventures Shaharazad told her husband in order to keep him from killing her. I was hooked.

Now I’m an adult and it’s rare that I get a chance to have someone read to me. Apparently plenty of other grown-up kids have run into the same problem because books-on-tape are now very common. My problem has been primarily that most of the titles I’d want to listen to, I’d prefer to read for myself. And most of the titles available haven’t interested me much to begin with. Dry, too trendy or just plain too simple-minded for my taste. Frankly, I’d developed an attitude about books-on-tape. Now, along comes Passion Press with a line of intelligent, well-produced, beautifully boxed and genuinely arousing erotic audio literature custom designed to force me to rethink my whole books-on-tape world view.

I’ve had the opportunity to listen to four very different Passion Press titles and I’ve enjoyed all four, though each in a very different way from the others. I started out by listening to The Carnal Prayer Mat, read by Bruce Robertson. Now, this two tape set appealed to me immediately because it’s a fable that was first published in 1634. I love ancient erotica, if for no other reason than it shows what a bunch of liars the modern censors are when they claim sexual literature (etc.) was invented during the Summer of Love. In this work, the Before Midnight Scholar, a stunning young student with an ever-ready penis, works his way through a number of exquisite beauties trying to find the most perfect woman alive before he follows an ascetic Confucian life. Before Midnight Scholar is a profoundly human character, at times tenderly lovable and at other times intensely dislikable. And his erotic adventures are...well, let me put it this way: I’m not easily aroused by what passes for sexy literature. The Carnal Prayer Mat turned me on. The two abridged tapes last three hours and cost $16.95.

My next venture into naughty audios was The Butcher, by Alina Reyes. This title, read by Ruby Featherstone in a sweet, little-girl voice, left me feeling a mix of aroused and mildly sick to my stomach. Our young French heroine works the register at a butcher shop while on her college vacation. Each day the brawny, big bellied, blood stained butcher whispers his carnal desires in her ear. He’s pretty explicit and not at all delicate, but what do you expect from an honest man who makes his living tearing joints out of sockets and slicing up internal organs? Eventually the young clerk can no longer resist her own desires and the advances of her employer. The Butcher is a brutally erotic work that’s not for everyone but it is thought-provoking and filled with raw, real (not candy coated) sexuality. The single, unabridged cassette lasts about one and a half hours and is priced at $12.00.

Herotica 2 is a collection of erotic fiction specifically aimed at women. Now, I found some of it very erotic, some of it very amusing, some of it pretty dull and a bit here and there just offensive. I’d say that’s a pretty good mix for a compilation of anything. The first story appealed to me right off because it had a large sized woman as the main character. Her story certain gives “eating out” a pleasant meaning. Some of the stories feature really bi women or lesbians, which is a welcome change from the usual straight or “hot bi babe” characters found in adult literature. There are even erotic female characters who are old enough to have sexually active daughters. Wow! Now that’s kinky. This abridged two tape set was edited by Susie Bright and Joani Blank, plays for three hours and costs $16.95.

One of my real interests is...well...knowing about real people’s sex lives. Yes, I’m the kind of person who doesn’t complain when she discovers she can watch the couple across the street fucking in their living room. With this bit of trivia in hand it should come as no surprise that Sex: An Oral History by Harry Maurer was right up my alley. I was foolishly disappointed to find that the tape didn’t feature the voices of the actual interviewees but rather some familiar voices from Passion Press’ other tapes. Once I realized what was going on and focused on the many interesting stories I was fine. I found some of the stories incredible, some extremely arousing, some sad; but most importantly I found them fascinating. Gay men jacking each other off in the back of a jet, a 68-year-old woman getting regularly laid via personal ads, a happily married and monogamous minister, women explaining where they learned their sexual techniques...just some of the blood and guts real people you’ll meet on this amazing tape. It’s another two tape set, lasting three hours and priced at $16.95. I’m planning on hunting up the book this tape was culled from and finding out what they left out.

I don’t plan on giving up reading any time soon. But it was lots of fun listening to these tapes in my car. There’s nothing like pulling up next to a car full of prim and proper looking Godly folk and smiling politely while hearing someone tell how it felt to have anal sex for the first time. Of course, I have no idea what they were listening to...it could have been another of the Passion Press tapes for all I know. Looks can be deceiving, you know.

You can get yourself a copy of the Passion Press catalog by writing to Box 277, Newark, CA 94560. You can also visit their new web site at http://www.passionpress.com. Tell them I sent you...and remember to keep both hands on your steering wheel when you’re listening to these tapes.

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This is reprinted from Exotic Magazine © 1996 X Publishing