Cheri Magid isn’t shy about sex. Whether she’s posing as a pinup girl or penning an erotic blog under a pseudonym, Cheri is the go-to girl for intelligent writing about the birds and the bees. She’s an accomplished playwright and author, and is constantly pushing the boundaries of the many forms of media she works with to share her powerful story-telling skills with her audience. Cheri’s current project: writing a screenplay for Dan Wigutow Productions about the story behind the novel “The Story of O.”
We asked Cheri about what gets her going, and here’s what she had to say:
What is the most difficult part about writing about sex?
Words can be traps. Turn the wrong way and you’re writing something either clinical or pornographic. It’s all about balance and suggestion. You want the reader to use his/her imagination, and to leave him/her aroused, wanting more. You give some, you hide some . . . that’s what it’s all about.
What is it about pinup girls that intrigues you?
I love that there’s a history, a through line to posing in states of undress from the very beginning of photography. From the moment the art form was invented, someone was getting naked or nearly so in front of the camera. I thought it would be fun to connect with that history personally. Isis, the photographer, who ran the class, was so great at putting the whole experience in context and at the same time, at capturing both the naughtiness and the glamour of it.
Which school of writing to you subscribe to: the school that says you have to write a little every day, or the school that says you should only write when the mood strikes you?
I’m a woman of discipline, so for me it’s all about showing up 5-6 times a week. Because I work on so many things at once, there’s always something I can at least tinker with. And what I’ve learned over the years is those bad days where nothing happens are really about ramping up to doors that open the next day or the day after that. You have to have the slow days to get to the ones where the sparks fly.
Who are your It Girls—the women that you admire?
I’m lucky that the women who inspire me are the women I call my friends. First and foremost is my amazing sister Jill Magid, who is a rock star of the art world. She twists ideas of authority and security in ways you’d never think of. My buddy Ruth Margraff fronts this stellar Gypsy/Greek/Texas folk/rock band Café Antarsia Ensemble that has toured Eastern Europe, the US, and Canada. My dear dear friend Abigail Lopez runs one fabulous high-end European accessories store in New York, Raffaele e Paola, and my pal Alicia Peck’s Bellamuse cards are sold in 200 stores across the US. And then there’s my fearless fellow playwrights Lucy Thurber, Courtney Baron, Aoise Stafford, and Neena Beber, to name a few.
What are your It Girl products—the things that you could not live without?
I love taking long luxurious baths, so anything I can put in the water is great, especially essential oils like lavender or rose. I’m crazy about Laura Mercier products. On my birthday each year my Mom and I go get makeovers together and load up on supplies.
When did you first know that you were a writer?
I wrote a children’s story, “The Rabbit Who Had No Talent” when I was in 6th grade. Poor Bunny Bill couldn’t catch a break! I even remember writing in my journal when I was 12 or so that I should be writing children’s books at that very moment, while I still knew what it was like to be a child.
You’ve written short stories, plays, radio plays, screen plays . . . what form of media is your favorite?
Theatre is my first love. My parents took my sister and I to see Broadway shows when we were very young. There’s something magical about seeing something live. Anyone who’s witnessed the opening number of The Lion King knows what I’m talking about. It’s bigger and grander than real life and it has the power to stop your heart. That said, I think I fall in love with all of the forms that I write. I love the vacuum that is radio—that you only have one sense, hearing, to use. I love that screenplays are about letting a story unfold visually, instead of using dialogue, as in a play. And I love fiction because you actually get to write out all the things you only get to imply in all the other forms!
What piece of advice would you give readers who are interested in writing erotic fiction?
Read the erotic cannon! We’ve all heard of Great Books, but no one seems to have come up with a list of Great Erotic Books. To name a few: The Satyricon, The Decameron, 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade, Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence, The Story of O by Pauline Reage, The Story of the Eye by George Battaille, Delta of Venus by Anais Nin.
Image credit: Jim Pruett