He smelled of animal hide, which was heady and pungent.... Then he touched my face with the pads of his black fingers." — Cum For Bigfoot
When her daughter left for college in 2010, the forty-year-old Parker housewife decided it was time to pursue her dream of writing romance novels. "My only goal when I began was just to tell stories, have them published and share them with other people," she remembers.
She enjoyed writing, but was dismayed by the response after she self-published her first book with Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing. Sales were in the single digits, few people were reading her work — and the ones who were didn't like it, and wrote nasty reviews. That's when her husband stepped in. "Do you want to write for fame and get your name out there, or do you want to write for an income?" he asked. When she admitted she'd like to make some money, he handed her a paperback and said, "Then check out what I've been reading."
It was a collection of erotic science-fiction stories.
Intrigued, she investigated and found a large community of authors churning out dirty little short stories and selling them on Kindle Direct. They only cost a buck or two, but many were downloaded thousands of times over. So she put her itchy fingers to work writing such stories as Jennifer's Anal Seduction and Pride and Penetration, a wanton parody of the Jane Austen classic, publishing them under the pen name Virginia Wade. But by late 2011, she recalls, "Everyone was writing these pseudo-incest stories about stepdads and their daughters." She flirted with these themes for a while without much success; she soon realized she needed to be transgressive in a more original way.
One night an idea floated into her mind: a group of barely legal females venturing into the woods and getting kidnapped by a Sasquatch, who first rapes, then seduces the girls — who are so aroused by the beast they cannot help falling for him/it. She wrote the story in two days. "I did it as kind of a joke," she says, but Cum For Bigfoot, as she named that story, soon grew into something more. "The first one ended in a cliffhanger, and then I wanted to find out what happened to these girls after their abduction. So I whipped out three of them, and then it just snowballed and things got crazy."
Cryptozoological erotica — pornography involving mythical creatures like leprechauns, harpies or minotaurs — already had a firmly established presence in online publishing by then. (Dinosaur porn was similarly growing in popularity.) But aside from the 1977 paperback Nights With Sasquatch, the market for a rape/seduction story with what she refers to as "the ultimate alpha male" had yet to be thoroughly exploited. So Virginia Wade got busy.
A few weeks after the first story in the Cum For Bigfoot series was published, she received a call from Nick Redfern, a UFO and cryptozoology expert, who wanted to write an article on Virginia Wade's work for his blog – and eventually for Penthouse in October 2012. "Sales of my stories were pretty modest at first," she remembers. "But about a week after that article came out, they slowly started increasing, and then it just snowballed. In 2012 we had 100,000 downloads of my erotic stories.... It's a little embarrassing; I never thought I'd be known as the queen of monster sex."
Mating with this animal — part man, part beast — was as unthinkable as having sex with a donkey. And yet, here I was, reveling in the experience and not wanting it to end." — Cum For Bigfoot
From the erotic poems of ancient Greece to the banned novels of the Marquis de Sade to the bohemian romps of Tropic of Cancer, dirty stories have been a popular way to get your literary rocks off for millennia. In more recent times, it also became a lucrative, if undignified, way to make a buck — but the rise of the Internet was the downfall of many adult bookstores.
At the same time, though, technology provided a lifeline for erotic books, with online communities forming to support their favorite genre of steamy story, from cartoon fan-fiction erotica to the darker realms of torture- and rape-fantasy novels. And then Amazon unveiled its Kindle Direct feature, allowing amateur authors to circumnavigate squeamish publishers and get their freaky prose directly into the hands of the public. "The first couple of erotic short stories I wrote were instant sellers; but back then it was easy, because the market wasn't so flooded," says Wade. "After Fifty Shades of Grey, everyone began writing erotic literature."
This influx led marketers to begin aggressively advertising titles online. The books were selling, but they often clashed with mainstream Internet commerce. Since all customer activity is tracked and loaded into a marketing algorithm, your average Amazon shopper who was buying, say, a car seat might encounter an ad reading "Customers Who Bought This Also Bought the e-book Shaving My Lesbian Daughters."
In February 2012, PayPal set a market-collapsing domino effect in motion by sending e-mails to indie publishers like Smashwords, AllRomance and Bookstrand, saying that if they didn't remove "certain types of 'obscene' content" from their catalogues, PayPal would delete their account. Since PayPal was a cornerstone of online publishing, there was little room for argument. Amazon soon followed suit by placing these too-hot-to-handle e-books behind an "adult" filter, making them difficult to find unless specifically searched for by title.
Then in October 2013, pop-culture blog The Kernel ran a story titled "How Amazon cashes in on Kindle filth," calling out the Internet giant for allowing e-books that "celebrate graphic rape, incest and 'forced sex' with young girls" to be self-published on their website. The Kernel followed up with a series of stories pointing to titles it deemed inappropriate for public consumption, which led to an even more draconian crackdown by Amazon.
From the beginning, Amazon has maintained in the "terms and conditions" section of its contract that "We don't accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts." Many in the literotica community had tacitly agreed to avoid any tales involving blood relations or animal-on-human intercourse. But now The Kernel pointed out that Amazon was chock full of these stories, some of them even bundling the taboos together, as in Doggy, Daddy, Daughter Rape: Virgin Teen Girl Deflowered By Father and His Dog.
The fact that the stars of cryptozoological porn are mythical creatures has helped some authors skirt the censorship issue. Sasquatches have long been considered an amalgamation of human and primate. In Virginia Wade's stories, the large beasts have the ability to form crude sentences — and procreate with human females. "I hope Bigfoot doesn't exist," she says. "Otherwise, I'd be writing bestiality."
But in the backlash of The Kernel's reporting, online publishers like Barnes & Noble, Amazon and others began simply deleting stories that could be deemed offensive. So late last fall, many erotica authors began disguising their stories' titles and changing the cover photos. Virginia Wade changed the name of Cum For Bigfoot to Moan For Bigfoot.
"Before, authors couldn't write enough of these stories to satisfy the demand," she says. "And now so many people I know in this business are abandoning it, because it's so censored. They filtered out about 60 percent of my stories; some of them I can't even find anymore, even when I'm searching for them. Amazon obliterated so many careers with those filters, including mine."
At one point, Virginia Wade was bringing in $16,000 to $20,000 a month — enough to make monster porn into a family business, as she employed her husband to lay out the stories, her father to edit the copy, and her mother to sometimes translate the sagas into foreign languages.
By late 2013, though, Wade's take from her archive of monster porn had trickled down to about $3,000 a month.
"I got into erotica because I wanted to make money," she says. "The irony is that it's really hard to make money in erotica nowadays."
That's not the only irony, though. By last summer, the author had already decided to put Bigfoot on the back burner. "I think I took the Bigfoot series about as far as it could go," she says. Which, in addition to the sixteen Cum For Bigfoot installments (the equivalent of around three novels), included Cum for the Invisible Man, a Cum for the Viking series, and many other stories. So she developed a new pseudonym and returned to the genre she'd tried the first time around: historical romances. Only this time, she knew a lot more about money-making and storytelling.
"It was a big risk, because it could've bombed," she remembers. "I came up with this new, lily-white pen name, a new series with shiny happy covers, and wrote around 130,000 words in one month. That's the beauty of this business: You can reinvent yourself easily. I went from smut queen to, like, a nun."
And it's paid off: Her prudish stories are doing quite well — better, even, than her tales of forced sex with a 500-pound walking shag carpet. In her best month to date, she made $30,000 in sales on historical novels.
Leaving the cabin, we raced naked and shoeless into the forest, only stopping when we were a safe distance away.... A pair of hairy feet appeared before me, and I gasped." — Cum For Bigfoot
But would those historical romances sell as well if their buyers knew that the author used to be a self-professed "smut queen"? Rather than risk it, their author asks that her new pen name not be used here. She also requests that her real identity be kept under wraps. She's very guarded with any details about her life in Parker, not wanting her explosive success in the monster-on-human-sex business to be her defining achievement. "I don't want to make my daughter any more embarrassed than she already is," she declares after catching herself almost saying the name of the university her daughter attends. Wherever it is, she says she can "very easily" pay her daughter's way through school with the money she's making writing new historical romances and selling her earlier erotic e-books.
But Virginia Wade hasn't left erotica entirely. She'd just contributed a story to the collection Caught In the Act: Eight Sizzling Stories of Passion, a Rockstar Romance Box Set that landed on the New York Times e-book bestseller list in November, when a journalist with Business Insider tracked her down. He'd been researching an article on Amazon's erotic crackdown when the grabby title of Cum For Bigfoot caught his eye.
"He called and asked me, 'What was your highest-earning month?' And I said '$30,000,'" she says. "But I told him that was under my romance pen name."
Monster-porn writer Virginia Wade became the focus of the Business Insider piece, though, and for the next few weeks the story "Housewife Who Makes $30K A Month Writing Bigfoot Porn" was a social-media sensation, discussed in the online pages of Time, Jezebel, The Daily Beast and Perez Hilton. (Imagine the surprise of the real Virginia Wade, a famous 68-year-old British tennis player, if she Googled her name over the past few months.)
"Everyone in the media has had a sense of humor about this, which is good," says the pretend Virginia Wade. "But I haven't had any juicy offers from publishers or movie producers. I have seen a small uptick in sales, but not a lot. So all of this media attention has been a waste. Just like when I got New York Times bestseller status — what can I do with that now?"
Virginia Wade could make a quick return to monster porn and do one last installment on the Bigfoot family (who, by this point in the series, have long since seduced their human-female victims into mothering their children). In fact, her husband has suggested she write a story in which aliens or an atomic bomb destroys the entire Bigfoot clan.
But the author just rolls her eyes at that, clearly not motivated to return to the land of Sasquatch. Unless, that is, a movie deal comes calling.
"We're still waiting to hear from Brad Pitt," says her husband.