My short story Jani-Lyn’s Dragon is included in the new release of Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year, edited by Sacchi Green and published by Cleis press. Very exciting and the reviews have been good. You can find it here:
Singer JanisJoplin’s stellar rise to celebrity status and then tragic death from a heroin overdose at twenty-seven years of age spoke to me on a deep, visceral level. Ifelt that she was too young to lose her life and that a great burgeoning talenthad been taken from us. I also felt a strong urge to write a scathing pieceabout this act of treachery from the Universe. Instead, I turned the injusticeand sense of betrayal into, what else, but a story of love and eroticism.
Then I read, in an online biography, that Janis had crippling insecurity about returning to herhometown for a high school reunion. This fact, for me, was a perfectopportunity to extrapolate something more from this dreaded visit. Supposethere was another reason to return to her hometown of Port Arthur, Texas? Onethat would be a counterpart to the agonizing idea of an outcast attending herten-year reunion? I created an unnamed lover, an old schoolmate. Another outsiderwho had allied with Janis during other dark times. This story is told from herpoint of view.
I felt her before I saw her. I stood in the center of my small living room, my breathing shallow. The heat of her presence crept along my back, warming me. Turning my head, I inhaled her unique scent; cigarettes and whisky with an undertone of patchouli.
I love these two women. I love their passion and especially their vulnerability. Their ongoing,often difficult relationship. I wanted to show another side of a rock star, theside that led to the pseudo security of heroin use. Perhaps when away from theloving security of our nameless schoolteacher, Janis turns too often to heroin,a drug the Chinese call the dragon. Perhaps she was simply chasing that dragon,seeking some comfort.
She sighed and pulled me into the arms scarred with her pain. “I did, baby, and it was good. The dragon caught me last week though. I was missing you so much and stuck out there in Boston. It was hell.”
As writers, we strive to give our main characters compelling heroic qualities as well as endearing vulnerabilities. Janis Joplin, as a character, is a gift from the writing gods. Her vulnerability shines through in every photograph, every interview. She was clearly an underdog, an average kid from a southeast Texas oil refining town.
I saw the sadness that was so much a part of her, the familiarity of it soothing me somehow. I think if I ever saw true glee in those eyes, I would know she was an imposter and not my Jani-lyn.
Four albums and much stage-time later, she became one of the primary figures of 1960s music, ranking right up there with Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. Yet she never lost that air of vulnerability, of being less than. And this led to her heroism, manifested by bravery, revealing these insecurities by using her raw, unfiltered voice to add an entirely new face to the music of her generation.
Though the worldonly had Janis Joplin for four short years, my unnamed schoolteacher had her, loved her, for more than a decade. Important, I think.
I was a Janis-junkie, giving up all hope of any other relationship just for these intimate, stolen visits. It was a lonely life. Sometimes I’d see her once in six months, other times three times in one month. I just never knew. Some of it had to do with proximity; if she was playing in a city within one hundred miles, she’d point the limo my way. If she was working on either coast however, I wouldn’t see her for a while.
I think the longing and the easy familiarity with one another is truly erotic. I hope that you will enjoy my portrayal of this amazing woman and, what could have been, her only real love.
My other erotic stories appear in a handful of anthologies, such as Girl Fever:69 Stories of Sudden Sex for Lesbians and Women in Uniform. My novels and some of these anthologies can be found on my Amazon page at https://tinyurl.com/yc78b9ok
Nat Burns is an award-winning author, writing novels for three different publishers. Her shorter work has appeared in more than thirty fiction publications. Complete publishing information and most of her fiction work can be found at www.natburns.com or www.natburns.org. Social media is: www.facebook.com/natburnsworld , www.twitter.com/NattyBurns and www.instagram.com/nattyburns8. Her blog is at www.TheNattyBits.com