The nature of the said delights was a mystery that was sealed off with a picture of a nude, big-breasted woman lying prone on a greenish stone slab, her butt lifted up by an imposing figure in shadows, who seemed to be wearing some kind of costume and a cape that spread out like wings. A themed orgy? It had intrigued her to no end, the goblet of her unmet desires begging to be filled with a wine she had never tasted.Rajeev Singh, “In the Name of Cavities” in Lustcraftian Horrors (2021) 239
Lovecraftian erotica is the fiction of transgression. Folks generally don’t write about the perfectly normal sex life of Edward Pickman Derby and Asenath Waite, or the raunchy but otherwise unremarkable wet dreams of Walter Gilman and the coeds he spied in the shower. When Innsmouth and R’lyeh come into play, people expect—not unfairly—for things to get properly weird. What qualifies as “weird” depends on your starting point. How much pornography and erotic fiction have you already consumed, how many sexual encounters have you had? What exactly is left that will shock you? What boundaries do you have left to transgress?
In that respect, the quest for greater titillation parallels and can overlap the quest for knowledge that marks much of Lovecraftian fiction. Protagonists draw closer to the central mystery, led there by an insatiable curiosity. Libido sciendi, the desire to know. Jaded seekers of the ultimate thrill who stumble onto the Mythos are an entire mode of Lovecraftian erotica. In that respect, “In the Name of Cavities” is part of a literary tradition with Robert M. Price’s “A Thousand Young” (1989). Except instead of a jaded libertine seeking greater carnal desires, it’s a bored housewife answering an internet advertisement for some excitement in a sexless marriage.
Any road up, as the saying goes. Rajeev Singh’s premise and characterization work in large part because they do start out very much with the starting point of utter mundanity: the neglected housewife decides to cheat. Yet this isn’t a morality play on the consequences of adultery; by chance, Anaïs has stumbled onto something more than the Eyes Wide Shut-style party she’d maybe hoped for.
Which is an aspect of the story that Singh doesn’t dwell upon: how much contemporary media has shaped our idea of what transgressive erotica really is. When we see the BDSM playroom in From Beyond and Barbara Crampton dawns her leather apparel, the audience is supposed to recognize that as a corruption of the character, or at least an awakening of darker sexual desires than missionary position with the lights off. Real bondage play, and the communities that develop around those desires, are strange and alien by comparison to those depicted in works like Fifty Shades of Grey, dealing as they do with issues of consent, safety, and roleplay.
So how much of what Anaïs saw should she have recognized? How much should the readers have recognized? When you read a passage like:
At first, she couldn’t say for sure but yes, the business end of each arm or tentacle did resemble a hard penis. And they weren’t just showpieces, those erections. Many of the feelers were busy plunging in and out of cavities all over a woman’s body as she lay flat on a green stone slab, similiar to what Anaïs had seen on the internet, only butt-downward.Rajeev Singh, “In the Name of Cavities” in Lustcraftian Horrors (2021) 239
Anaïs does not make the immediate connection to Japanese hentai, works like La Blue Girl or Urotsukidoji. Naughty tentacles have become a trope in some circles for so long that the shock value has largely worn off…but the idea still has legs. Readers already familiar with works like Booty Call of Cthulhu (2012) by Dalia Daudelin and “The Flower of Innsmouth” (2011) by Monique Poirier probably won’t be shocked, but they might still be appreciative of the execution. Jaded sensibilities mean there are very few erotic impossibilities that haven’t shown up somewhere, in some media, and that is reflected in the frustrated Lovecraftian sex-quest.
It is very difficult to come up with something completely new and original.
To take another example from the story, Singh’s use of “cavities” is strongly reminiscent of Graham Masterton’s short story “Sex Object” (originally published in Hottest Blood, and then adapted to comics in Verotika #7), or even of the comic series Stranger Kisses. It’s hard to point out these works as inspirations, many writers stumble upon the same ideas completely independently of one another.
As a work of Lovecraftian fiction, “In the Name of Cavities” lives in a little universe of its own, relatively self-contained…but that’s okay because the last few pages take that idea and run with it, projecting the lusty present out into a post-apocalyptic future. That extension of the idea far beyond the length of the encounter, the duration of a climax, is a pleasant surprise…and a possibility that works within a Lovecraftian premise better than it does with most other erotic works.
“In the Name of Cavities” by Rajeev Singh was published in Lustcraftian Horrors: Erotic Stories Inspired by H. P. Lovecraft (2021).
Bobby Derie is the author of Weird Talers: Essays on Robert E. Howard & Others (2019) and Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (2014).