The Velvet Chamber
An Anthology of Revisioned Myth and Fairy Tale

Explore the dark side of the female psyche --A CALL FOR WRITERS supports The Velvet Chamber

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Virtual Story Project. Chapter One: Where Medusa heads to CBGB's looking hot in black leather and meets her destiny

She was one of the hottest girls on the planet in the 1980's; year of the Ramones, and life in New York City.  She had the blackest hair, the biggest eyes, and the tightest ass, Delilah. But her mother was hotter.  Originally a Jersey girl, Medusa's hair was blacker and and five times bigger than her daughter's.  M. liked to date men who rode motorcycles, wore black leather, and occasionally slapped her---  but only when she asked.  M. needed a little Marquis de Sade from time to time; some S with her M, if you know what I mean.  Powerful women have to be inventive to have an orgasm.  And she was no different.

So last October, M. and Delilah went to CBGB's on the Bowery to hear The Stoned Boys. They were rip-offs of the Ramones, but still pretty loud. Delilah looked good, but M. was insane; leather studded jeans, skull earrings, red lipstick.  Delilah reveled in her mother's beauty. She liked to say, "My mother, the outlaw," with a big shit-eating grin on her face.  As they walked in, a wall of sound punched them in the face. "Excellent," they both screamed and laughed.  At the bar, Deliah ordered a beer, and M. headed off to use the ladies.

But M. never made it.  And Deliah never saw her mother again.

Write the next chapter.  Posts should be apprx. 500

The Witch's Beast

 Kiki Howell (photo above), author of The Witch's Beast, A Torrid Twisted Tale published by Whiskey Creek Press had this to say about rewriting the bad girls of myth and fairy-tale:

"I wrote my retelling of The Beauty and the Beast to settle a long standing grudge I had with the Brothers Grimm.  I felt the witch had a story to tell. When I saw that Whiskey Creek Press had a line of Torrid Twisted Tales, I wrote my version of the story completely from the witch’s point of view. The erotic nature of the story was an added bonus."

A review of Ms. Howell's The Witch's Beast:

You Gotta Read Reviews

"In the spirit of Gregory Macguire's Wicked, The Witch's Beast tells an old familiar tale from a different angle with a sexy spin. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and its characters. Ms. Howell paints Beauty and the Beast in an entirely differently light, putting your sympathies in places you wouldn't imagine when thinking of the original tale. Those once loved in the original story are shown in a new way and expands the character of the Witch who turns a Prince into a Beast, in more ways than one. I would definitely recommend you pick up this book so you can read this tale and find out the new ending to the Beast's story."

Friday, February 26, 2010

More evidence why this anthology is necessary

From the New York Times ArtsBeat Blog,, Patricia Cohen writes:

"Female writers and editors have noticed that the guest editors (and one introduction writer) selected last week by Houghton Mifflin to put together the publisher's "Best American" anthologies for 2010 are all white men.  The blog SHE WRITES by Kamy Wicoff, reported that Barbara Jones, the editorial director of Hyperion Books and Voice (an imprint of books for women), had sent an email message with the subject line "women apparently not fit to judge this year." 

We need a strategy to fight the underlying assumption that women writers are cute and male writers are serious--- wait, I know.  How about an anthology that asks writers to revise the classics of myth, fairy-tale and the Bible.  Stories with that kind of narrative stability have clout; they have power.  This anthology is not about rewriting a cuter, hipper version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  This anthology is not about sexing up the Bible--- although that's not a bad idea.

This anthology is about subverting archetypes.  This is a top down mission.  When we start to have strong female heroes on the world stage again, in fairy-tales again, in myth again, and in the Bible again, we won't have all white male editors judging editing the best of American writers.  The very idea would be absurd.

"Jung rarely described feminine archetypes as repositories of power for women."
----- Annis Pratt, Archetypal Patterns in Women's Fiction

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pandora: Once upon a time there was a very bad little girl

"Classics scholars suggest that Hesiod reversed the meaning of the name of an earth goddess called Pandora (all giving) or Anesidora (one-who-sends-up-gifts).  Vase paintings and literary texts give evidence of Pandora as a mother earth figure who was worshipped by some Greeks.  The main English commentary on Works and Days states that Hesiod shows no awareness of the mythology of a divine Pandora Anesidora giver of fertility."

Phipps, William E., "Eve and Pandora Contrasted" in Theology Today, v.45, n.1, April 1988, Princeton: Princeton Theological Seminary.

If Hesiod could subvert the text, so can we.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Center for Fiction

Last night, I attended, Beatrice@TheCenter, a reading series curated by Ron Hogan in partnership with The Center for Fiction.  Ron is one of the very first people to have an online literary site,  In fact, he interviewed me for The Erotica Project. 

Jonathan Dee, Leslie Jamison and Amy Green read gorgeous excerpts from their novels.  The Center for Fiction began as the Mercantile Library in 1820.  It's a classy organization; the atmosphere is very warm and inclusive, part library, part social club.  I spoke to Ron after the reading to thank him for his tweet for Tales from the Velvet Chamber, and also of course to congratulate him for a lovely evening. 

We spoke briefly about revisioning myth and fairy-tale for the anthology from the Western canon, but outside it as well; Asian, African, Egyptian, Indian, etc.  I'd also like the anthology to possess a pan-sexual spirit; hetero, homo, trans, and whoever else is out there.  The spine of the book is to subvert the classics for feminist ends--- and like the Center for Fiction, this mission is inclusionary and global.

Image: Center for Fiction, from the New York Commercial Advertiser November 2, 1820.

Cupid and Psyche---

--- on a rooftop, at the corner of 12th Street and Avenue A.  The year is 2006.  Psyche is not punished for her curiosity, on the contrary, she is being rewarded.

Image: Marc Travanti, 2006, New York City

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Eve & the Serpent

Francis Quarles, "Emblems Divine and Moral," 1866, public domain

"I love new and subversive twists on old favorites"

The Voracious Vegan, my new favorite blog, has this to say:
I love new and subversive twists on old favorites, especially when it is Fairy Tales that are getting the shake up. Fairy Tales are just one of the many ways that society’s patriarchal mores are instilled in us at a very young age. Ever notice that the stronger and more powerful a woman, the more evil she is presented as being? And the meek, young, frail women always seem to need a heroic rescue from a big strapping man, don’t they? Doesn’t it get so dull? Well, the amazing writer over at Tales from the Velvet Chamber has re-imagined an old favorite magnificently. You must read each part of her retelling of Snow White, it is gorgeous.
Thank you so much!

The Virtual Story Project

I begin with a fairy-tale: Once upon a time.  I write the first 500 words.  You write the next 500 words, and send them to me at  I edit and publish the post with a link to the previous episode and so on and so forth.  You get a by-line and a link to your website/blog.  We all get a new story; communal as opposed to private.  Kind of the way myth is created. 

I might write about Medea, or I might write about the Wicked Stepmother.  Maybe Hecate makes an appearance along with Pandora, you never know--- perhaps they all do.  I pick the first and best that appears in my mailbox.  If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  The story goes on and on. Perhaps its published in the anthology, perhaps it always lives online.  This is the virtual story project. 

More details to follow.   

Image:  Jean-Marie Bottequi, "Eve, Adam Kadmon, and Lilith, 1993.

Lilith: She's got a lot on her mind

I'd like to see a story about Eve falling in love with Lilith.  I think it should be a big, fat passionate romance.  I think Lilith should feed Eve pomegranate seeds by the light of a full moon.  Both of them have terrible reputations in the Old Testament, and I think they should find comfort in each other's arms.  I think it would be a good story. 

In the old version, Eve is either too stupid or too naive to understand that the snake is really the devil in disguise.  The snake (aka devil) tempts her.  He says, "Here take a bit out of this apple."  And so she does, after all its a beautiful apple, and she is a simple girl.  Little does she know that as she bites deep into the apple--- she is now responsible for the fall of man.

In Lilith's story,  the snake makes yet another appearance, but this time he isn't talking to her in the Garden of Eden, he's fucking her in hell.  Excellent.  In the new version, the love story, I think Lilith is the complicated one.  We're not afraid of Eve, but we are afraid of her.  She is seductress, child-killer, and shrieking owl.  She has a lot on her mind.   Some say Eve and Lilith are one and the same anyway, like the Roman god, Janus.  It could get interesting.

Also, in this version, the snake is a symbol of wisdom, neither a demon or a god.

Image: John Maler Collier.  "Lilith" oil on canvas, 1887.  The Atkinson Gallery, public domain.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pasolini's Medea is a priestess---

---according to Janet L. Borgerson who also claims that “something is awry with the historical memory around Medea,” and that his film “requires that we question the almost universal assumption that Medea did something wrong.” It was released in 1969, considered a failure--- yet Piers Paolo Pasolini was clearly trying to subvert “universal assumptions.” Through his lens, she is a priestess, a woman moved by sexual desire, but also a mythical figure who enacts sacred rituals, and possesses a will to move beyond the wishes of the gods. A strong woman. A woman with a vision: “Amazon-descendant, granddaughter of the sun, and High Priestess.”

How much fun is that? And what a relief. After all, she is one of the strongest woman our culture knows, but also the most murderous--- like Pasolini, let’s coax Medea out of the shadows and into the bright light of a new story. One where she reclaims her sexiness, her sorcery and her all-around desire not to be pushed around by anybody.

“Managing Desire: Heretical Transformation in Pasolini’s Medea” by Janet L. Borgerson. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 2002, Vol. 5 (1), pp.55-62

"Medea" by Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys, 1868, public domain.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Many thanks to

Katy Kelleher at has this to say about the mission and the message for Tales from the Velvet ChamberAn Anthology of Revisioned Fairy-tales and Myth.
Carter and Slugocki both play with these tropes, exposing the rigid structure by making it into something more fluid and forgiving. It is no longer simply about amping up the violence and darkness that has been covered over by too many years of coddling children with happy endings, but also about taking back the reins and allowing the repressed to run free (and yes, this frequently means you get to read a lot more about female sexuality). When done right (Kelly Link is one author who puts elements of the fantastic to particularly good use, as is Karen Russell) the results carry the strength of the original story while allowing you to read it in an entirely new way. These stories have the potential to be uncanny in the best way possible - familiar, yet deliciously other. Let's hope that Slugocki's submissions live up to her admirable mission statement.    Read the whole article at
I  honestly couldn't have asked for a more astute and eloquent post on this book project.  Many thanks to Katy Kelleher at  I am sure to get submissions from fantastic writers.  Happy.  Thrilled.  Thank you.

Laurie Stone-New Contributor

Laurie Stone  is author of the novel Starting with Serge (Doubleday), the memoir collection Close to the Bone (Grove), and Laughing in the Dark (Ecco), a collection of her writing on comic performance. She has published numerous memoir essays and stories in such publications as Open City, Ms., TriQuarterly, The Literary Review, Threepenny Review, Speakeasy, Exquisite Corpse, and Creative Nonfiction. In 2005, she participated in "Novel: An Installation," writing a book and living in a house designed by architects Salazar/Davis in Flux Factory's gallery space. She is currently at work on My Life as an Animal, a Memoir in Stories and Unmarked Trail: a Romance in Stories and a Guide to Setting up a Writing Partnership in collaboration with Richard Toon.  Her story is called "Recognizing Mom."
BTW: Laurie was a wonderful contributor to The Erotica Project (John Gould Rubin, Lillian Ann Slugocki, Erin Cressida Wilson) at Here Peformance Space and Joe's Pub/The Public Theater. We've also read together at an erotic literary series curated by Christen Clifford at The Culture Project. In short, I love her work and am thrilled she will be part of the anthology.  Soon I will have a site where audience can get a preview of the submissions.  Stay tuned.