Tuesday, 15 November 2011

An Homage to the Ladies of Nexus Publishing

Nexus was a line of erotic fiction from Virgin Publishing that originated in the UK in the mid-to-late 90s. The covers all had a very distinctive look, either white or black, and dominated by a fetish-attired model (or two, or three), often in some sort of bondage. The oval Nexus logo was always found in the bottom corner, while the italicized title appeared along the top, just above the much-smaller author’s name.

   

These were my first exposure to the realm of erotic reading, not to mention the books that first inspired me to try my hand at writing erotica. It was through Nexus that I discovered the likes of Lisette Ashton, Yolanda Celbridge, Arabella Knight, Aishling Morgan, Jennifer Jane Pope, Christina Shelly, and Wendy Swanscombe. I actually had the great pleasure of becoming online friends with Ms Pope and Ms Shelly over the years, getting a sneak-peak at a few of their titles, as well as some valuable advice on getting my own work out there. Even now, years later, those conversations still resonate within me.

Having only been exposed to the very vanilla, very heterosexual, very male-dominated world of newsstand magazines like Playboy, Penthouse, Club, Hustler, and Swank (most of which were heavily censored with big black dots for most of my youth), these novels were eye-openers for me. They called to me, spoke to something deep inside me, and awakened an awareness of what it was I’d been trying for so long to define. In the pages of the Nexus line it was okay for men to be submissive to women, to dress in sexy lingerie, to be physically transformed by women, and to be ‘forced’ to please other men.

Suddenly, gender was no longer restricted to the male/female binary, and sexuality was no longer limited to gay/straight. As a reader who identified as genderqueer (even if I didn’t have a name for it at the time), I discovered something in the sissies and the shemales of the Nexus line that spoke to me. These were not just men who liked to dress like women, or who wished to become women. Instead, these were sexual creatures of a third, middle, blended gender. These were characters who were who were happy to be something other, content to be something different. They weren’t waiting for some gender transformation or metamorphosis – they were already complete, just as they were.

Through these authors and these characters (who so closely and gloriously resembled myself), I found an early form of acceptance that still resonates with me today.

As I work through the final draft of what I had once hoped would be my debut Nexus novel, I can’t help but mourn the lost opportunity to join the ranks of Lisette, Yolanda, Arabella, Aishling, Jennifer, Christina, and Wendy. It’s been several years since Virgin last published any titles under the Nexus banner, and the imprint no longer even appears on their site. While I look forward to joining those wonderful ladies in finding new life under new publishers, it will never be quite the same without that eye-catching cover.

♂↔♀

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