The other day, the Transom was sent a website by a coworker called Tickle the Elephant. “It’s funny,” we were promised. Although when we opened up the weekly-updated site that promises “Erotic Short Stories for Republican Women,” we weren’t sure who the joke was on. Maybe us, because some of the tales were quite … um … good. Like, the best kind of trashy romance-meets-Anne Rice kind of good.
Consider this portion from a piece The Debates, where a woman working for a conservative female senator gets stuck in an elevator with a nosy “independent journalist.”
He leaned in again, closer, and said, “To be fair, I do understand how you want to eliminate inefficient spending and encourage lean government. But a lot of that can be done by decreasing military spending.”
He leaned in closer to my neck, and I involuntarily gasped as he traced his lips down to my shoulder.
“But,” I sputtered, trying to catch my breath as I felt his hands start to slowly unbutton my blouse, “If we cut military spending, how can we really be supportive of our troops?”
Evan was now caressing my bosom over my bra delicately as he lifted his lips back up to my ear.
“I served in the US Army for years. Became a First Lieutenant. And I can tell you, we don’t get nearly as much pay and respect as the contract workers, and don’t even get me started on Boeing and Halliburton’s share of the profits.”
Evan’s hand was now trailing down to my skirt, underneath, over my panties…
Let your imaginations take it from there. There was no name listed on the Tickle site, but we had to know: Was this satire, or the next product tapping into the 50 Shades of Grey market of politically conservative but sexually liberal (at least in their fantasies) older women?
We finally did get in touch with Katharine Heller, the 36-year-old actress/performance artist/personal assistant romance novel author/satirist behind Tickle the Elephant. Not only was the “very progressively liberal” a published author of romance novels, but also the writer behind the satirical erotica Boy in the Basement, which was translated to the stage amid great fanfare for 2008’s Fringe Festival.
But if Tickle was just plain satire of uptight rich white ladies, why was it so damn good?
“I have a lot of friends who are Republicans … well, not a lot of friends,” she admitted over the phone. “And I really do try to see where they are coming from.”
Still, Ms. Heller–a self-described feminist (as if performance artists could be anything else?)–said she began the site to deal with what she sees as a growing divide in this country. “With the war on women, and the Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke thing, it was out of control by February. I thought the best way to deal with anything is through comedy.”
“I started the site as a way to say, ‘Come on, conservative ladies. You know you have sex.'”
Ms. Heller can’t understand how any woman can vote for a party that is trying to control their bodies, though rarely do Tickle stories directly involve Republican women championing reproductive rights. Nor do these “fan fictions” deal with famous Republicans by name. “I’m not out there trying to make enemies by saying ‘Ooh, look, here’s Mitt Romney having sex, isn’t that funny? It’s not what I’m about.'”
However, she admits some of the stories invite a little reading between the lines.
The best example of that is Prime Time. It’s a spin on the naughty secretary story: The daughter of Republican senator engages her news anchor boss in “flirtatious discussions … about Obama’s birth certificate and those ungrateful Occupy Wall Street deadbeats” before getting all dom on him. After his PG-coverage of “a particular senate representative who refused to use the ‘V’ word,” she becomes determined to make her boss say the word ‘vagina.’ Which she does, by sleeping with him.
And just when you thought the debate on trans-vaginal ultrasounds couldn’t get you any more hot under the collar.