Hysterical Literature


Male sexuality receives more than enough attention on these pages so here’s something from the opposite end of the spectrum, albeit with an unusual twist. Hysterical Literature: Session One is a seven-minute video by photographer Clayton Cubitt which shows just how enthralling a film can be when its content is nothing more remarkable than an attractive young woman sitting at a table reading from a book. The subject is Stoya, self-described on her Tumblr pages as “International Porn Superstar”; the book she chose to read is Necrophilia Variations (2005) by Supervert, “a literary monograph on the erotic attraction to corpses and death”. (I designed one of Supervert’s more recent titles, Horror Panegyric (2007), which was published by Savoy Books under the author’s more mundane byline, Keith Seward.)

What gives Cubitt’s film its frisson is that all the time the splendid Ms Stoya is reading from the book she’s being subjected to the attentions of an unseen Hitachi vibrator. This only becomes evident at about the halfway point but it creates considerable tension. If an occasional buzzing noise didn’t give the game away a viewer unaware of this single explanatory detail might believe that the prose Stoya is reading is having a powerful effect. The result is sexy, funny, riveting, delightful and maybe even a little cathartic. Watch it here. Stoya describes the experience here while Supervert offers his own thoughts here. You can also buy copies of Supervert’s books while you’re at his site although if you do you’ll have to supply your own vibrator.

5 thoughts on “Hysterical Literature”

  1. This is really nice. It could have been really pervy, but somehow it’s not. It’s almost… sweet.

  2. John Thomas: Could be a male reader as well. I’ve been wondering how that might compare with this film.

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