Entries in this year’s Blacktip Island Holiday Erotica Reading Festival are checked for appropriateness before being admitted to the festival’s reading schedule. (photo courtesy of Doris Blenny)
The Blacktip Island Heritage House will host the third annual Holiday Erotica Reading Festival Saturday evening, with proceeds going to the Blacktip Island Adult Literacy Council.
“Some people just aren’t Christmas people,” festival organizer Kay Valve said. “It started as a support group of sorts: a few of us with the holiday blues got together, one of us had a steamy romance and decided to read a passage out loud and, well, peoples’ spirits perked right up.
“Word got out, and next year, no one had a room big enough to hold all the participants,” Valve said. “That’s when the Heritage House volunteered to host.”
Any original work of steamy romance or erotica is welcome, so long as it’s not degrading or exploitative, festival organizers said.
“The works do need to have literary merit,” Heritage House curator Doris Blenny said, “Blatant pornography is not allowed. And we’re open to all genres, so long as it’s themed to one of the season’s holidays, be that Christmas, Hanukkah, Bodhi Day, Kwanza, New Year, Mōdraniht or what have you.
“We look for work that aspires to high art,” Blenny said. “Or as close to high art as we can get on Blacktip. Last year we had everything from mysteries to magical realism to science fiction.”
The festival is gaining popularity among island residents.
“These public readings do keep you hot on a warm tropical night,” said Elena Havens, last year’s runner up. “I had holiday cheer running up and down my spine last time when Lee Helm, with his beautiful speaking voice, read his, ‘Up The Chimney He Rose’ on stage.”
Festival winners are chosen by the audience and receive the coveted Coral Yule Log trophy.
“Last season, Peachy Bottoms’ reading ‘Mrs. Santa and the Christmas Surprise’ about blew everyone away,” said attendee Antonio Fletcher. “When Peachy started out, ‘Muffin was a lusty elf . . .’ we knew we were hearing something special.
“Nativity sets, mistletoe, dreidels, dashikis, they’ve all featured prominently in recent readings,” Valve said. “It’s all about the delivery, the emotion you put into your voice.”
However, not all Blacktip residents are happy with the festival.
“Shouting perverted stories across a crowd at Christmas is just wrong,” Eagle Ray Cove resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “Christmas’s a time for classic literature. Dickens. Evelyn Waugh. Anaïs Nin. And children’s books. Those little books of cute sayings you put on the back of your toilet, too.”
Valve dismissed such criticism.
“This is uplifting holiday fun for the whole community,” she said. “And nothing fills our literacy classes quite like tales of yuletide ribaldry.”