Culture

​how to write a porno...

With a new series of podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno making our morning commute worth getting up for, we discuss how, and how not, to write an erotic novella with Jamie, James and Alice.

Hattie Collins

My Dad Wrote a Porno is a podcast in which Jamie Morton, James Cooper and Alice Levine artfully disseminate soft-porn novella Belinda Blinked. The book is written, unfortunately for him, by Jamie's dad under the pseudonym of Rocky Flintstone and is set in the deeply sexy world of Pots and Pans. As in Le Creuset, not a new strand of BDSM. The 14-chapter offering is perhaps best described as an utterly eccentric ride around the rude bits of the body from the mind of a recent retiree who thought he'd take a crack at writing a smutty novel. Touted as 'a modern story of sex, erotica and passion', Belinda Blinked traces the sexcapades of rising sales star Belinda Blumenthal, 29, as she navigates her way through the world of cookware by basically sleeping with everything that moves. And some that don't. It's littered with a litany of odd plot decisions, frankly bizarre sexual metaphors, little to no character development and some spectacularly questionable grammar. Belinda Blinked is unintentionally hilarious and it's made all the more actual Laugh Out Loud (because you really, really will) by the interspersed commentary from Jamie, James and Alice, three pals who met at university in Leeds. Spotting the podcast potential when he read the first two chapters to James and Alice in the pub at Christmas, the three began recording last year, wrapping series 1 up just before the end of 2015.

My Dad Wrote A Porno, recorded mostly in Alice's kitchen generally without the enhancement of alcohol ("You need to stay sharp with Rocky"), has now had over 1million plays - and is rising from cult hit to bonafide big deal. With Series 2 lined up for later this year, i-D asks James, Jamie and Alice how to write a successful porno in the inimitable (and uniquely eccentric) style of Rocky Flintstone…

For other budding bards of bawdy books, the first piece of advice is simple; just do it.
James: People talk about doing these things so much. We say, just sit down and start writing as Rocky did. Write it and get it out there.
Alice: If he can write a book in what seems like a week, or maybe three days, or even 48 hours… however long it was, it was clearly a very short amount of time, so don't overthink it and don't get bogged down in drafting and editing, just get it out there. That's what Rocky did and look how well that worked.
Jamie: Make it as fantastical as possible; this isn't based on any kind of reality.
Alice: This is as fantastical as possible? In the pots and pans industry?
Jamie: It may not be your fantasy Alice, but it is fantasy. Because no one wants to read something that's boring. If nothing else, Belinda Blinked is engaging.

Write what you know…
Alice: Rocky is from a sales background isn't he, hence all the business and sales chat. They always say, write what you know and he has.
Jamie: To an extent.
James: What does he know?
Alice: What doesn't he know?

Go rogue on grammar and throw caution - and semi-colons - to the wind.
Alice: Rocky's use of the semi-colon is so progressive.
James: And the lack of a comma.
Alice: That said, I think stream of consciousness, as a style, is very brave.
Jamie: It turns out grammar just isn't essential. I didn't know that until reading my dad's work. He loves a double negative too.
Alice: Rocky doesn't really adhere to rules on like, sentence, paragraph structure, chapter structure, characterisation or plot. His is a very loose nod to grammar isn't it? Sometimes he ends on a semi-colon as the end of a chapter.
Jamie: There's a beauty to it. The form is lovely to look at actually.
Alice: Some sentences just stop don't they. Dead.
James: Some stop dead, some just go on and on and on. I think he thinks if he puts a full stop you're going to stop reading so he just puts one continuous sentence.
Jamie: And he's right. You know, he had an education. Rocky went to school in Northern Ireland. He's actually got a degree in Geology from the University of Sheffield.
James: He's a very well read man.

Pick a good title.
Jamie: The title is important. Belinda Blinked isn't a good title, but have a good title. Rocky came up with - Belinda Blinked; A modern story of sex, erotica and passion. How the sexiest sales girl in the business earns her huge bonus by being the best at removing her high heels.
James: I mean, that is the plot in a nutshell.
Alice: Also, keep the blurb shorter than the book because the blurb for Rocky is honestly, about 90 pages long.

Keep a low profile
Jamie: He got his pen-name from a character in the Rockford Files I believe.
Alice: He's done the Kate Moss thing of not giving loads of interviews. I think of Rocky as a kind of male Kate Moss. He is this enigma, almost a porn guru of sorts. He's played it right.
James: He's done an Adele.
Jamie: We should announce Book 2 on the X Factor.

Think outside the box when it comes to describing lady parts.
Jamie: Rocky favours everything from 'rivets' to vaginal 'lids'.Similarly nipples get a right going over. They're scratched, clawed, chewed.
Alice:They also extend, like a periscope, and they flare up, and swell. Boobs tend to hang or flop. As a woman, it's not exactly how you'd want your boobs to be described, is it?"

Seek influence from some of literature's greats.
Jamie: Rocky read a book by Stephen King about how to write.
Alice: Sometimes I feel like he's used a Thesaurus. Or at least put synonyms into dictionary.com
Jamie: I don't think he has.

Devote an entire chapter in which no smut - or indeed anything - happens at all
Jamie: Chapter 3.
Alice: Chapter 3, the Regional Sales Meeting. A classic.
Jamie: I feel like Chapter 3 is a little test. If you can get past chapter 3 then you've earned your stripes to continue. And in this case, it's more don't write what you know. Because that can be very, very boring.

Have an in-depth understanding of the female body. Actually, don't.
Alice: When Rocky uses the word cervix or ovaries in a sexy way, I don't know, something in you tenses up as a woman.
Jamie: I think it's a word he's heard, and he's decided that he's basically in the right area.
James: I think when he used 'vaginal lid', that was a typo.
Jamie: No, I don't think it was.
Alice: For what?
James: Lips.
Jamie: That's giving him a lot of credit. I wouldn't dig too deeply into any of Rocky's language choices, because you could find yourself in a quagmire.
James: Private Pussy Area.
Alice: None of us will ever look at a pomegranate in the same way again.
Jamie: He made a special cocktail at Christmas, for the family. A gin and tonic with pomegranate seeds. It was delicious

Perhaps don't randomly change a character's name mid paragraph.
Alice: If you name a character, stick to it. In one part of the book, 'Bella' suddenly becomes 'Donna'. And then goes back to 'Bella' again later in the book.
Jamie: I think you want to have consistency throughout a book, really.
James: We meet the night receptionist in Chapter 9 and don't find out his name until Chapter 13 when it's passively dropped in.
Jamie: It keeps the reader reading though doesn't it?
Alice: Most books, once they've established a character's name, they tend to stick to it.
Jamie: My favourite character is 'HR Bill'. He gets thrown out of the room in the first chapter and never comes back. Most people never return. It's the same with 'The Tall Man' from the tombola. Who is he? Why is he?

Dispense with a porno told from the view of the male gaze and inadvertently create a feminist hero.
Jamie: I think Belinda Blinked is quite feminist actually. Because the protagonist is a woman and it's normally about a man. It's almost modern in the way she's unashamedly up for sex. There's no element of slut shaming. She loves sex and she's not afraid to go and pursue it.
Alice: Although I would say is that there are certain things that your dad is quite old fashioned about.
Jamie: His generation does poke through.
Al: There's almost a weird old fashioned romance about it…
Jamie: It's Jane Austen.
Alice: Well... But yes, she's hugely passive. In the early chapters she A.) doesn't speak, B) she definitely doesn't question and C) she's really, really subservient. But then in the later chapters, someone wants to have sex and she refuses until she gets a turkey sandwich. And I think that's a classic feminist move. As a metaphor for this day and age, to have your turkey sandwich and eat it, I think that's pretty powerful. She is hugely empowered. But also a bit lazy as well.

Size, contrary to popular belief (and Chapter 6 of Belinda Blinked), isn't everything.
"I like to call it a 'pamphlet'", says Alice of Belinda Blinks' word count. Some chapters are a mere page, other's a little longer, but the entire book could be read in a matter of hours. Or, perhaps one hour. "You can do it in one sitting," points out James. "If you can get through it." "Well you could write it in one sitting, you just can't read it," says Alice. "It's the only book that's quicker to write than it is to read."

Ensure you fill your book with powerful quotes that may one day be turned into a meme or gif.
"Her sexy black stockings, which she didn't apologise for…"
"I like you Des Martin…"
Anything involving the character Alphonse
"Admired their respective vaginas…"
"Hung like a pomegranate…"

Make sure your son reads it so that he and his 'media type' pals make a podcast, and then watch the sales fly.
Jamie: So my dad retired and he said to me that he was going to write a book and I was like 'That's an amazing thing to do in your retirement, keep your mind fresh'. He told me he'd written the first few chapters and would I mind reading it. I opened this email and I don't know what I was expecting - some sort of swashbuckler probably…
Alice: Because he's made little travel blogs hasn't he, so you thought maybe like something that was around travel blogs. Or just about, well, something.
Jamie: And literally the first sentence is Belinda Blinks and as she removes her blouse
James: Well it kept you reading.
Alice: It doesn't even seem that racy now. The whole book is so tame…
James: There are moments. The dildos… the many, many dildos.
Alice: Some people think that Jamie, or James and I, have written it or Rocky is a fictitious author…
James: We wish we were that talented.
Jamie: In terms of sales, it's going… well it's going.

Think ahead to merchandising and film possibilities
Jamie: Belinda Blinked is a shoe-in for thongs, which no one has worn since the mid 90s when they teamed them up with Juicy Couture tracksuits and those round blue glasses that people like Anastasia and Bono like.
Alice: Do you know who he wants to play Belinda in the movie?
Jamie: Jane Rizzoli.
Alice: Said no one, ever.
Alice: You could also partner with a charity. There's a wonderful scene in the book, set around a kinky tombola, in which the characters raise money for The Asses and Donkey's Trust. People who will see you in a good light. I think people now see Rocky as a philanthropist first and foremost. Those asses and donkeys, they have done so well.
Jamie: Who else is going to protect them?
Alice: He's always thinking bigger, he wants there to be a theme park. Guess where he wants it to be?
Jamie: Tooting. But where he's going to find the space, I don't know.
Alice: They can knock down one of those Lidl's though, there's two.

Ensure the surrounding podcast is so utterly brilliant that people won't just freely laugh out loud buying their groceries, but someone, somewhere will actually lose their virginity to it.
Jamie: There was this girl who had been dating her boyfriend for like three or four years and they'd never had sex because they were both just quite intimidated by sex and were a bit nervous about it and then one of their friends got them onto the podcast, and through laughing together about it they realised that it wasn't actually as scary as they thought and they managed to actually have sex.
James: I mean hopefully they didn't use it as a manual.
Alice: We've had good responses though.
James: Rocky, he's a bit of a cult hero really.
Jamie: Elijah Wood becoming a fan was crazy.
James: We were chuffed about Tamal off the Great British Bake Off too.
Jamie: No one hated it, which we've been surprised about it

Don't just stop at one book.
Jamie: Season 2 of the podcast is happening because Rocky has written books two and three, I need a rest because I feel like I've been reading my dad's erotica for way too long and way too intensely. So we're going to have a bit of a break. We're thinking maybe a spring start.
James: She's off to Amsterdam for Book 2.
Alice: Cutting deals with her Oxy Brillo.
Jamie: She meets some Russians, we know that.
James: Anything could happen. And probably won't.

@dadwroteaporno

Buy the book here and listen to the podcast here

Credits


Text Hattie Collins