The first thing you need to know is this: I wrote "The Unicorn and the Rainbow" on a dare. Which, given that this is the one story in my new erotica collection that everyone remembers and everyone talks about, is a weird beginning. But it's a true story.
Top image: Unicorn of the Rainbow by Carol Cavalaris.
Here's the story. I'm a regular reader at Perverts Put Out, a reading series of sex writers in the San Francisco Bay Area. A couple of years ago, I read a smutty fiction piece, which I prefaced with a warning to the audience. "This is kind of a disturbing story," I said. "This story has elements of non-consent, borderline consent, some other stuff that some people may find disturbing." And then I added, "But when do I ever come to Perverts Put Out with a smutty fiction piece and not say that? When do I ever come to Perverts Put Out with a fiction piece and say, 'This is a really sweet story; this is a nice, gentle, happy story about unicorns fucking rainbows'?"
And at the break, about a dozen people came up to me and said that they dearly wanted me to write the story of the unicorn and the rainbow.
I knew the story had to be disturbing. Dark. Noir, even. Oooo... noir. That could work. The first paragraph tumbled into my head:
Frank the unicorn walked into the bar. Midnight, pissing rain, and the grime on the neon-garish windows streaked down the glass like a whore's mascara. The unicorn staggered across the floor and slammed his hoof on the bar. "Jack. Double shot."
But after that, I was stumped for a bit. How do you write a sex scene between a mythical entity and an entity with no physical substance?
The unicorn is relatively easy. It's a horse with a horn. Yes, yes, magick and immortality and the healing touch of its horn and the power of myth and so on. It's still a horse with a horn. And with genitals. Okay, fine, it doesn't really exist... but that just means I can write its physicality and sexuality any way I want to. If I want the unicorn's jizz to be mercury, I can make the unicorn's jizz be mercury. As long as I'm willing to abandon the massive body of canonical mythology that's built up around the creatures for centuries, that is. Which, if I'm writing the unicorn as blind drunk and staggering into a dive bar to have rage-sex with a rainbow in a filthy back alley, obviously I am.
But a rainbow doesn't have any physical substance. At all. It's not even really light or energy. As a commenter on my blog once put it, a rainbow is real, but it's not really physical. It's basically a relationship between physical things. It's "a relationship between an observer, a light source, and water vapor." How the hell does a relationship between an observer, a light source, and water vapor get off?
So I punted the question for a while, and focused on figuring out who these characters were. That's very uncharacteristic for me: when I write porn, I almost always start with a sex scene that's getting me off, and work my way backwards to figuring out who these characters are, and why they're having this sex, and what it's going to mean to them. This time, I fleshed out every other part of the story before I even started on the sex. What was a unicorn doing staggering into a dive bar, already blind drunk? What was a rainbow doing hanging out in that bar? What do unicorns and rainbows even have in common, really, other than the fact that people use both as metaphors for "sweetness and light to the point of being saccharine," and the fact that lots of pre-pubescent girls think they're awesome?
An ugly flush of rage flashed into the unicorn's face, and for a second, the rainbow thought he might get punched in the gut. Then the unicorn collapsed onto the bar. A single, silvery tear trickled down his face.
"That actor. The one in the vampire movies. Robert something. She — she tore down all my posters. Scraped my stickers off her desk. She even threw out her trapper keeper. Now this moody undead wanna-be is all over her bedroom, and it's like I never existed."
The rainbow patted him on the shoulder. "That's not so bad, pal. There's dignity in a vampire. You could do worse. Hey, my last one threw me over for Justin Bieber."
The unicorn flinched. "What do you mean — your last one?"
"Sweetie," the rainbow chuckled grimly, "I've been dropped for every teen idol since 1965. David Cassidy, Corey Feldman, Hanson... hell, I even got dumped for Ringo Starr. And that was after the Beatles broke up. Please. Don't tell me this is your first."
Okay. I know who these characters are now, and what they have in common, and why they might have a rage-sex tryst in a filthy back alley behind a dive bar. But we still have the question: How does a rainbow have sex? Again: A rainbow is a relationship between an observer, a light source, and water vapor. In some sense, it doesn't really even exist. How do you have sex if you don't exist?
But of course, this isn't a true rainbow. If we're talking about entities that are plastered all over the walls of pre-pubescent girls, we're not talking about an observer's perception of a spectrum of light with colors shading imperceptibly into each other and off into the invisible. We're talking about six or seven distinct stripes of solid color, shaped into an arc. We're talking about the rainbows on T-shirts and posters and puffy vinyl stickers. We're talking about Roy G. Biv. (I actually toyed with the idea of naming the rainbow Roy: I decided the story was hotter if he stayed anonymous, but sometimes I'm sorry I didn't find a way to work it in.)
And if we're talking about six or seven distinct stripes of solid color, we're talking about stripes that can easily be separated.
And if we're talking about stripes that can easily be separated, we're talking tentacle porn.
The rainbow spread out his tendrils like an octopus, stretching the tips to tickle the unicorn's balls, and clamp onto his nipples, and twine into his silvery mane, and sneak into his asshole. The unicorn was overwhelmed with sensation: his blows against the rainbow's bloody face became staggered and irregular, like a heartbeat in cardiac arrest, and his cock throbbed like a bruise.
It's a little odd to me that, out of all the dirty stories in this collection, this is the one that everyone remembers. It's not really representative of the other stories, which are all very much human and believable, in some cases to the point of being unsettling. Plausibility is normally the top priority for me in porn, both as a writer and a reader: I want my porn to feel like it could really be happening, right now. And obviously, "The Unicorn and the Rainbow" doesn't fit that bill in the slightest. So it's a little funny that so many readers of this collection respond with, "Wow, that was really hot," or, "Wow, that was really disturbing," or (best of all), "Wow, that was really disturbingly hot"... and then almost inevitably add, "And holy shit — that one about the unicorn and the rainbow! What the fuck was up with that?"
It's a little odd to me. But I'm willing to go with it. Plausibility and authenticity are top priorities in my porn — but so is uniqueness. I don't want my porn to be cookie-cutter. Either as a writer or a reader. I want the characters in my porn to feel like unique, three-dimensional characters; I want the sex in my porn to feel like a unique and un-replicable sex act.
And if I do say so myself, "The Unicorn and the Rainbow" fits that bill to a T.
"The Unicorn and the Rainbow" is one of the stories in my erotic fiction collection, "Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More." The book is currently available as an ebook on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. Audiobook and paperback are coming soon.