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The Oversexualization of Romance

Romantic Times convention took place a couple of weeks ago. Since the convention, a few people spoke up about their experiences which included a negative reaction to the antics of the Ellora’s Cavemen. SB Sarah said that the Cavemen acted like cavemen and were overly grabby. JC Wilder reported a poorly thought up 9/11 tribute which included strippers and a porn star grabbing themselves in military regalia and later one of the cavemen simulating a sex act with a woman. (Note, according to a pro-Caveman commenter and author, Trista, the stripper remained a whole 12 inches away from the woman at all times while simulating the sex act.) Lori Foster’s report praised the event, cheered the harmless entertainment (the costume balls), but was disturbed by the acts of the Cavemen.

The push back against this is that those who do not wholesale condone or appreciate outward displays of sexuality are prudes or anti-sex. This latter sentiment echoed the arguments of those who defended the Open Source Boob Project. (I refer to this argument as The Ferret Chorus). For those who didn’t follow OSBP, a few guys started asking women if they would offer their breasts up to be touched. It morphed into the OSBP and was rolled out with buttons at PenguiCon. In order to not be groped, you had to wear a non-groping a button. That’s right, it was an opt out program. Now, PenguiCon is synonymous with a convention where women have to wear a button on their boobs to avoid being groped by strangers.

Similarly, I think the RT convention is becoming a conference that is no longer about romance readers meeting romance authors and romance authors taking writing seminars, but instead is becoming the con of ribald and tawdry antics. As stated by author Trista,

You know it happens every year and you complain, than turn around and go again the next year. It’s not going to change. Next year there will be yet another round of complaints. Someone was offended, someone acted inappropriately. If you want conservative, safe, then go to Lori’s event (It is alot of fun, I’m not putting it down). If you want a little more, then attend RT. It’s as simple as that.

Essentially, if you want to be “safe”, you should not go to RT. I hope this isn’t the message because what a scary one it is. The message is that if I attend RT, I should expect to be groped. If I attend RT, I should expect to see graphic sex acts. I should not expect to be safe and if I am not a prude, I should enjoy it. That’s the unintentional message that is being sent and it is not being sent to just romance readers or romance authors but to others outside the genre.

What would we say if Locus magazine, the venerated science fiction/fantasy magazine, would host a convention attended primarily by male readers and its male authors. It hosted an event which included staged events featuring young, nearly nude, nubile women and allowed another publisher, say, Eos, bring in a number of porn stars and strippers who engaged in lewd acts with the attendees in hosted events and in the bar. What would we romance readers think of a conference like that or a publisher who did those things?

The defense to this is that it represents what romance is truly about. Some would argue that romance should own up to its prurient side. The charge is that we should let go of our high minded, elitist shields and accept romance for what it is – graphic descriptions of sex wrapped up in a socially acceptable package. We read it, the argument goes, to be sexually aroused. If the most sexual organ is the brain, then how are words any different than pictures. How is reading about a woman strumming her clit different than a picture or a short video of the same?

There are some types of disagreements that will always reside within our romance community. On one end are the authors and readers who are disgusted by the inclusion of books that contain homosexuality or polyamorous relationships within the romance umbrella. There are others who, at one time, viewed all books published by Ellora’s Cave as nothing more than porn.

I think the answer comes from a non romance writer – Lois McMaster Bujold. On the Eos blog, Bujold writes of difference of writing romance v. fantasy. She defines the genres as follows:

if romances are fantasies of love, and mysteries are fantasies of justice, I would now describe most F&SF as fantasies of political agency.

Love, for me, is inextricably intertwined with sex. Romances fulfill the love fantasy through the argument that a union with just a mental bond is not as strong as mental and physical bond. Matthew 10:8, if I can offer a biblical reference says “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall join to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh?” The union, no matter how it is populated, it made one through a physical act.

But no matter how sex is used, as physical release, plot conflict, or expression of love – it is not simply porn because it invokes a physical reaction. Measuring whether a book is porn or romance based on the physical response it invokes is dangerous and misleading. Victims have reported both lubrication and orgasm during forced or non consensual sexual stimulation.

Women may succeed in having sexual intercourse with unwilling men because the anger, fear, and pain that such intimidation can evoke, although unwelcome, can cause sexual arousal or even orgasm.

Family Health International (citing R. Levin & W. Berlo, Sexual arousal and orgasm in subjects who experience forced or non-consensual sexual stimulation, Journal of Clinical Forensic Medicine, Vol. 11, Issue 2, Pages 82-88).

Now, this is not to say that sexually explicit scenes in romance engender physical response due to anger, fear and pain but it does show that basing the romance = porn argument on a mere physical response is fallacious. There can be conscious arousal, unconscious arousal and automatic arousal. We can choose books that we know can be titillating but still satisfying on an emotional level. I would argue that a physical response is the result of good writing. If a book can make you cry, you are having a physical manifestation to an emotional stimulus. If a book can make you aroused, it is any different? You simply have a physical manifestation of an emotional stimulus.

The overt sexualization of the romance industry whether it is through chestless covers or half dressed women or cover models stimulating sex scenes at a reader and writer’s conference elevates only one component (sexuality within romances) and unfairly brushes the industry with a broad red brush. That taint is undeserved because romance is more than heaving bosoms and oiled chests. Many books within the genre have no sex or very little or is represented in a closed door manner. If all that readers wanted was sexy stuff wrapped up in a pretty package, you have to wonder why more explicit erotica and erotic romances aren’t more successful. I’ve not seen one Aphrodisia on the romance Bookscan top 100. Bookscan is a list that measures sales figures for books. It’s generally deemed to be unreliable for those books that are sold in grocery stores and big box stores but for books whose sales are made primarily in bookstores and through online sales, Bookscan is pretty darn accurate.

Romance is not porn and I think that EC and RT do a disservice to the genre by focusing on one component above everything else, further promoting the equation of romance with porn. What does it say about the genre if the highlight of the event is to get your picture taken with prostitutes and xrated porn stars? Is it really then about books? I don’t think so. I think that the innocence of RT has been slowly eroding.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

214 Comments

  1. May B.
    May 06, 2008 @ 05:08:56

    I attended this year RT, which was my first.

    I didn't really see what happened on stage during EC party. My table was too far and too many people blocking the view. But I do see some disturbing behaviors outside, which at that time (during the convention time) think everyone perceived as normal.

    Maybe because I came from different culture (Thailand) and lived quite a shelter life, I thought those things were quite normal at RT and I am just too naïve. To be clearer, I don't think the oversexualization is normal in the US (I spent a few year studying and working there to know it better) but since I never went to RT, I think it is normal. And if this is normal, it may mean that I am not suitable for RT.

    My impression for the event is mix. I loved meeting and seeing authors, talking with fellow readers, catching with few friends. But I don't like the sexual theme. Frankly, it is embarrassing me. I love romance and read in almost every genes including erotic romance. I am not ashamed to talk or recommend a good erotic romance to a friend but I do not like it bluntly pushing in my face. However, I don't mean that everything should hide behind closed doors. But I believe some tasteful presentation would be more efficient.

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  2. Nora Roberts
    May 06, 2008 @ 05:58:12

    ~That taint is undeserved because romance is more than heaving bosoms and oiled chests.~

    Word.

    I’m annoyed when I read if you don’t enjoy/approve of the reported groping, simulated sex, half naked guys etc at the con you’re old or a prude or just don’t get the fun.

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  3. Ana
    May 06, 2008 @ 06:04:08

    Great article and I couldn’t agree more.
    I think that to focus on only one component, ie. sex, as you put it, is to be dismissed and disrespectful to the writers that put so much effort on other components of their stories. Yes, sex is an important part of the romance novels but also the empotional aspects of the story, the plot, the sense of humour, the historical research and so and so forth.

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  4. Sarah Frantz
    May 06, 2008 @ 06:16:57

    Jane, the article cut off right at the end before it was done?

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  5. Karmyn
    May 06, 2008 @ 06:50:32

    Why should someone have to wear a button to tell people they don’t want to be groped? Shouldn’t that be a given? My boobies are not your personal playthings. I didn’t even like it when my ex tried to cop a feel on our first date. I’m sure not going to want some stranger coming up to me a groping.

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  6. Dalia
    May 06, 2008 @ 06:53:10

    The OSBP was not opt-out (as I gather). If you were wearing either the opt out button or no button at all, you weren’t asked.

    As for the over-sexualisation of romance through these public events – I’ve never been to RT so can’t speak to actual behaviour of EC’s ‘cavemen’ but the whole idea of having male models is ridiculous. To me. If they were dressed in pinstriped powersuits or wearing a white lab coat and glasses it would still be ridiculous to me.

    Though the situation would be exacerbated if, say, it was a RWA conference featuring male models, despite RT being a privately run event, I would also hope that they reach some sort of compromise between the ‘like it’ ‘don’t like it’ factions. Can they reserve a room or area or sthng for those interested in getting pictures taken/socialising?

    Wrt osbp, some said that cordoning it off to a specific area will defeat the purpose of the project but unlike osbp, EC’s male models aren’t attempting to engage in any sort of social experiment. It’s strictly entertainment.

    On another note – what’s this talk about prostitutes and porn stars? They’re models. Right?

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  7. Angela James
    May 06, 2008 @ 07:07:29

    I think it is possible to approach RT as a professional and come away from it with a positive, not overly sexualized experience. I did. But I should also mention that I didn’t attend any of the parties. I was there to give panels, participate in the publisher spotlight, work in Club RT and to meet with my authors during the week. I arrived on Monday (the con started officially on Wednesday) for a pre-writer’s conference I did a panel for, and left on Friday morning, after all of my appointments and obligations were met.

    For me, because of how I approached RT, it was a different conference than for others. It was still a fun conference for me, I had a good time, but I didn’t see much of what went on. Maybe because I wasn’t there for the parties, but for the business. Others approached it differently, because it’s their vacation, time to meet up with friends, and have a good time. I don’t think either approach is invalid or wrong, but it does make the point that a conference experience is a different thing for everyone.

    What would we say if Locus magazine, the venerated science fiction/fantasy magazine, would host a convention attended primarily by male readers and its male authors. It hosted an event which included staged events featuring young, nearly nude, nubile women and allowed another publisher, say, Eos, bring in a number of porn stars and strippers who engaged in lewd acts with the attendees in hosted events and in the bar. What would we romance readers think of a conference like that or a publisher who did those things?

    You make a good point here and I agree, although I think the outcry would be even louder if this happened, because romance is a primarily female-dominated readership, while fantasy has its fair share of both female readers, so they would be even more directly affected, excluded and marginalized by something like that. In the case of RT, it’s never had to worry about being accused of being exclusionary because, due to the nature of its readership/authorship, it is primarily inclusive.

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  8. katiebabs
    May 06, 2008 @ 07:32:34

    Wow, what a shame about an event that should be highlighted for a celebration of a wonderful genre, the authors and the interactions with the fans.

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  9. Jessica Barksdale Inclan
    May 06, 2008 @ 07:45:18

    I have never been to RT, but what one of my editors told me was that it was really for the readers and fans of romance–entertainment wise. And that the more “staid” RWA conference was for the writers. She would have liked me to go to RT more than RWA, I believe, and I just haven’t managed to get RT on my radar because it ususally seems to occur when I am teaching.

    And I can see going for the business and teaching and learning aspects, but, frankly, to watch the spectacle described above doesn’t seem like something I am interested in. So I would have likely been in my room watching HBO or something.

    But if this is what RT is like–it would seem that if you want to go, go with knowledge and do there what you want to do. And don’t do what you don’t want to do.

    I heard from one of my myspace pals (a male writer) that it was a gas, though–so maybe one of these days, I will be able to get there.

    Jessica Inclan

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  10. Jayne
    May 06, 2008 @ 07:50:16

    Hahaha. Bunny porn.

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  11. Angela James
    May 06, 2008 @ 07:57:55

    And I can see going for the business and teaching and learning aspects, but, frankly, to watch the spectacle described above doesn’t seem like something I am interested in. So I would have likely been in my room watching HBO or something.

    But if this is what RT is like–it would seem that if you want to go, go with knowledge and do there what you want to do. And don’t do what you don’t want to do.

    But you CAN go and do all the business and teach and learning aspects and not participate in “the spectacle”. I did, and I assure you, I did not spend any time in my room watching HBO.

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  12. Jaci Burton
    May 06, 2008 @ 08:03:46

    I haven’t been to RT for the past two years. The last time I went was the Daytona RT because hey, it’s at the beach! My husband went with me and we blew off most of the nighttime parties. I went to meet with readers, booksellers and to see and mingle with other authors. I had a great time and got my money’s worth. The nice thing about an RT conference is the schedule is packed with things for everyone to do, even if you don’t do everything. You can still get your money’s worth. I’ll probably go next year to Orlando, because hey, it’s at the beach! (heh).

    For networking with your peers, meeting readers and booksellers, it’s a great conference. You can also pick and choose your poison as far as what else you decide to involve yourself in, but there are opportunities galore for promotion for an author, and lots of fun opportunities for readers.

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  13. Anna J. Evans
    May 06, 2008 @ 08:07:56

    I’ve always enjoyed writing and reading explicit romances, but that’s where it ends for me. I do not now and never have enjoyed ogling naked men–strippers or your average Joe on the beach. I’m not a prude, I simply don’t understand the lure of staring at the oiled, hairless pecs of some man I don’t even know. It’s a man’s mind and heart that make him interesting. The exterior–no matter how pretty–just isn’t enough by itself.

    Also, as women, I think we all know what it’s like to be objectified. I certainly didn’t enjoy having a strange man stare at my ginormous pregnant breasts yesterday while I was pumping gas and had two of my young children in the car. It made me uncomfortable, and I wouldn’t want to make anyone else feel that way–male or female. (And men can be made uncomfortable.)

    Long story long, that’s why I’ve continued to spend my money on the RWA National conference, not RT. The emphasis on overt sexual displays–both this year and in the past–didn’t sound like my cup of tea. And this is coming from a woman who writes naughty, naughty things, and feels no shame about that what-so-ever.

    But then writing sexy fantasies about two (or three) people who love each other, is very different from watching some strange man you don’t know from Adam simulate a sex act with another stranger. Eww…I say. Just…ew.

    Anna J. Evans

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  14. GrowlyCub
    May 06, 2008 @ 08:24:32

    Word. What Anna said!

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  15. Jane
    May 06, 2008 @ 08:29:52

    Does it matter if the sense is that it is a reader con v. a writer con? For me the problem is that it is one of the highest profile romance book/romance reader events in the country. If it did not base itself on being a book convention but instead was about woman’s sexuality or like Cosmo Con (not a real con) and they offered seminars on Achieving the Maximum O and The Top 10 Flirty Outfits to Get Noticed then it wouldn’t bother me because it’s not about the books. But RT sells itself as a book reader/writer convention. There are dozens of workshops and most, if not all, are for writers. Therefore, what happens at RT affects the genre as a whole.

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  16. JulieLeto
    May 06, 2008 @ 08:36:31

    Jaci, hate to break it to you…but Orlando is in the middle of Florida. No beach. You’ll have to drive an hour east or west to catch waves, LOL! But it does have Disney, which has simulated beaches. So there is that.

    I’m going to kick myself for saying this publicly, but it seems to me that the people who love the oiled male bodies and simulated sex acts and chocolate shaped penises don’t really go to the conference to meet authors and talk about books–well, they do, but that’s not their only reason–they go to attend a three-day bachelorette party on the premise (er, excuse?) that they are going to a romance writer’s convention. What happens at RT stays at RT? They want to party, get groped by men, ogle men and feel totally justified and innocent about the whole sordid affair.

    To each her own. I’d rather stay home and ogle my own personal hot man, but that’s just me.

    I’ve been to one RT about three or four years ago. It was a small conference and wasn’t, at the time, focused on any one publisher. I didn’t attend any parties and didn’t see anything remotely offensive. But the stories I’m hearing are scary and even though Orlando is in my back yard, I’m probably not going to attend. It’s my choice. I’m sure it’s no loss for RT. But it is a shame that so many authors are feeling disenfranchised within what should be an inclusive celebration of romance novels. And that’s what I’m sensing from all the discussions in all the blogs. Like dirty sex? You’re in. Offended by blatant displays of oiled, male flesh and simulated sex acts? You’re a prude. We don’t want you.

    I write about hot sex. I’ve been doing it for years. But even in books that have toyed with the idea of exhibitionism, the sex in any ROMANCE novel I’ve written or enjoyed as a reader is about intimacy, trust and eventually, love. This attitude is not reflected by public acts that bring sex down to the most base levels. Sex, IMO, is fabulous and fun and can be kinky and naughty, but it is never crass or dirty. Seems to me that the events at RT have debased what is the ultimate act of intimacy.

    Anna–I’m with you.

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  17. Jolie du Pre
    May 06, 2008 @ 08:36:41

    My friend loves RT. But to tell you the truth she talked more about winning a trophy for best costume than about the business of writing. I attend a conference for the reasons that Angela James has stated. I do think it’s great that you get to meet your fans at RT. That would appeal to me as well. I’ve been avoiding RT, but I know I won’t be able to avoid it for long. Someday I’m going to have to go, but I don’t want to have to stress about parties and costumes. (My friend spent a fortune on her costumes. Conference cost, airfare, hotel and everything else is enough without having to worry about a ton of costumes.)

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  18. JulieLeto
    May 06, 2008 @ 08:39:00

    Well, I wrote a really long post that the blog decided to swallow.

    I’m not rewriting it. It was long and probably very controversial. So I’ll just say: Anna, I’m with you.

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  19. Kimber An
    May 06, 2008 @ 08:53:36

    Speaking as an unprofessional, uppaid blogging book reviewer who mixes with readers across all genres on-line and in Real Life daily, it is my opinion that most of this could be solved by making certain that the line between Romance and Erotica is clearly defined and labeled. I’ve never been to RT. Was the Ellora’s Cave party clearly advertised as Ellora’s Cave party? Was it assumed or was Ellora’s Cave clearly labeled as an Erotica publisher? If so, all guests had to do was not attend.

    In my experience, if a novel is clearly defined as Erotica the average Romance reader is okay with that. She simply looks for something else. It’s when a reader buys a Romance novel only to discover AFTER she’s spent her hard-earned money that it’s akin to Erotica that publishers and authors will run into trouble. These readers feel cheated and angry. They will never buy from that author again and they will tell all their friends not to as well.

    It seems to me in the industry’s own best interest to make clearly defined and labeled distinctions.

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  20. GrowlyCub
    May 06, 2008 @ 08:54:48

    No reader conference will be successful without author involvement. If we expect the authors to show we need to make it attractive to them.

    I’m all for fun and games, but there’s another dimension here, which has to do with something we all complain about. The equation of romance to a lesser literary form because it’s written mainly by women for women and the fact that un- and some of the initiated compare it to mindless stroke fiction.

    Having simulated sex acts does nothing to dispel that incorrect notion and it does the genre as a whole a disservice, because there’s so much more variety out there than hot nookie.

    I like nookie just as much as the next gal, but I’m not a visual person. I don’t watch sexy movies because they don’t do anything for me. I love to read sexy books because I can let my imagination soar. It’s the words that are sexy to me, not watching the real thing (I’d rather do after having read the sexy words, grin).

    Other folks feel differently and that’s not wrong, but if RT is presented as *the* event that describes what readers want, then I have an issue if that’s all that people who don’t know better take away from it, and with it what they think of me a romance reader.

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  21. Jane
    May 06, 2008 @ 08:58:58

    Kimber An – The problem is that the EC men aren’t confined to the party but where there for the entirety of the conference, roaming the conference halls and elevators scantily clad, free with their groping, etc. Read Lori Foster’s account.

    Someone else asked if these weren’t models. On blogs and in personal accounts, I was told that many of the EC guys were strippers.

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  22. bam
    May 06, 2008 @ 09:29:33

    That taint is undeserved because romance is more than heaving bosoms and oiled chests.

    Heh. taint. I have nothing to add except: Eloquent post as always, Miz Jane!

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  23. Beth
    May 06, 2008 @ 09:31:30

    There’s a real irony to the idea that Romance as a genre is oversexualized, when the overwhelming majority of romance novels purvey a deeply conservative account of gender relations in general and women’s sexuality in particular, vaunting monogamous heterosexual (and “vanilla”) sex in the context love, and typically marriage and procreation.

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  24. BevQB
    May 06, 2008 @ 09:32:00

    Like Jaci, I was at the 2006 Daytona RT Con. Now granted, I am most definitely part of the older group, but I neither experienced nor observed the Cavemen/Mr. Romance contestants being anything less than friendly. In fact, most were quite charming in an effort to win votes for the contest. Of course that could also be because that particular year most of them were from Ohio and we Ohioans get quite giddy when we can escape the Land O’ the Grey for sunnier climates (it was 35 and pouring here that whole week).

    Before going to that con, however, I had heard horror stories about how the Cavemen were treated! THEY were groped, or treated like brainless twits. From what I was told, one older author dismissed one of the Caveman by informing him that “Your job isn’t to talk, just stand there and look pretty.”

    Maybe for some reason, some of the Caveman were not told or just did not understand what their job was. And I would think that they SHOULD approach their attendence at the Con as a job. In fact they should consider it a job interview that may land them more work if they are remembered for the RIGHT reasons.

    Although, come to think of it, most attendees from this year’s con refer to the Cavemen and Mr. Romance contestants as if they were two seperate groups of guys. If so, is it possible that the Cavemen really were brought in to be “entertainment” instead of aspiring cover models (which would explain a LOT)? Can anyone tell me if they were two seperate groups?

    As for the EC party, I don’t know how anyone attending it could NOT know that it was going to be bawdy. Hell, they raffled off gift baskets full of sex toys- at least they did in 2006, I don’t know about this year.

    From my observations, there are three distinct groups of people at RT– the party-hardy group (and yes, that included many of the Cavemen- dem boys can DANCE), the people who prefered to sit back and observe the party group, and those that escaped the ballroom in order to find quieter places to chat. And within those groups, there were just as many people in costumes as there were those that chose to simply dress nicely.

    I also sat in on many panels while I was there even though I am not a writer. I found them fascinating, but probably not of much use to writers that already have a few books published. For a new or aspiring writer, though, I think those workshops would be invaluable.

    BTW, it was explained to me that RT Con celebrated the FUN side of the Romance book industry, and that RWA Nationals was for the serious, BUSINESS side of the industry.

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  25. Anon76
    May 06, 2008 @ 09:56:16

    And I’m again going to state, here and elsewhere, that the hotels chosen for the conferences do not suddenly become a personal palace for the convention attendees. They are still public buildings with other guests and people who may be out for an evening of dinner and a stop at the bar.

    Case in point, RT St. Louis. The fancy restaurant was at the top of the hotel, hence, it required the use of the elevators to get there. Well, one night just happened to be prom night for a local school. Teenagers poured in, all fancily dressed and happy as heck. And then they all packed onto the elevators with other attendees.

    Now I ask you, how would you feel if it was your teenager in those elevators? When your kid is faced with the spill-over from a conference where attendees no longer seem to have any civil boundaries?

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  26. Annmarie
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:05:46

    I went to RT at Daytona and I can remember during the Mr Romance competition they had a segment about the perfect date. One of the models from EC on stage answered the typical I’d take my date to dinner answer… and then he’d take his date to a hotel, but wouldn’t make her have sex unless she wanted to… (I’m paraphrasing here…) I remember my friend and I looking at each other after he answered like what was that???

    And at RT this year, I did hear that one of the EC models was in porn movies… And I was in the lobby when that other model freaked out and the ambulance was there for him… I guess during one of the mixers he admitted to being institutionalized for a while…

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  27. Anon76
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:10:57

    BevQB,

    Yes, the cavemen and the contestants are two seperate groups. On occassion, one of the cavemen also enters the cover model contest.

    Unfortunately, the model contestants often don’t know what they are getting into. Attendees equate the behaviour of some cavemen with “okay, this model contestant guy is fair game too.” Hence they face the groping and often crude questions on panel that should be reserved for the other guys.

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  28. Nifty
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:14:11

    Slightly tangential…
    As a long-time reader of romance, I’ve become annoyed lately by the oversexification of the books and I have to say that I liked it better when the lines between Erotica and Romance were very distinct. When I read romance, it’s because I want to read about a relationship — I want to read about two people who meet and are attracted to one another, who get to know one another and develop a strong foundation of friendship and respect and love, and who overcome the obstacles to their relationship and really EARN their happily ever after. Lust is and should be a part of that, but at the same time I guess I just don’t want to see the couple’s sexual relationship as the main component of their love story, either in terms of emphasis or page count. I’ve read too many romances lately in which this seemed to be the case, and frankly it’s difficult for me to buy into a couple’s HEA when they only way they’ve proven themselves to be really compatible is physically. It also seems to me that as the sex quotient has gone up in romance novels, the sexual tension has gone down…way down. There’s no more teasing, no more foreplay, no more build-up. The couple just drops trou and gets it on, often within mere moments of meeting one another, with assorted grunted “dirty words” spicing things up. The sex scenes are hot, no question, but at the same time they leave me cold. They’re sexual, but they’re not particularly sexy, and certainly they don’t really seem to be very emotional. By the time the story is finished, I actually am left feeling rather desensitized and even bored by the whole thing.

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  29. Lynne Connolly
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:17:51

    Romance is not porn and I think that EC and RT do a disservice to the genre by focusing on one component above everything else, further promoting the equation of romance with porn. What does it say about the genre if the highlight of the event is to get your picture taken with prostitutes and xrated porn stars? Is it really then about books? I don't think so.

    I went to RT this year and last, and I intend to go next year. It’s a big chunk of change for me, because I live in the UK, and it takes a couple of weeks out of my writing schedule.
    But it is so worth it.
    I’m not a member of the RWA, but the RNA, the British one, because I can get to chapter meetings, but if there was some kind of reciprocal arrangement, I could see myself going to Nationals. As it is, there seems to be too much “us and them” for it to be worth it for me.
    I don’t think the innocence at RT is eroding. Certainly Houston was wilder than Pittsburgh and the complaints I heard at this year were that the Cavemen didn’t show enough flesh, not that they showed too much! Oiled bodies would have been more fun than the covered chests that were mostly on display.
    Who would have thought that the presence of twenty men (plus a few male authors and partners) could have caused such a fuss! On the other hand, has anyone seen “Chicken Run”? The protests are getting a bit like that. (Mind you, it’s one of my favorite films!)
    Prostitutes and porn stars? Where? I saw none, or at least none behaving that way. I have nothing against either prostitutes or porn stars (and I’d like to keep it that way!). People don’t behave like their profession all the time. So librarians don’t always wear horn-rimmed glasses on chains and tell everyone to shut up and accountants aren’t always checking the price of things on their calculators and telling people to watch their tax returns. I’ve seen accountants behaving like porn stars from time to time. And believe it or not, real prostitutes and porn stars are capable of behaving like librarians from time to time and most of them have more than two brain cells to rub together. I’ve seen that, too.

    I would, however, say that the parties and events at RT should come with a warning, if neccessary. Whichever panels (this year there was a course on writing erotic romance)and parties are likely to contain raunchier material should probably be labelled as such in the brochure. Then there would be no mistakes. And although people are always people and incidents will happen outside the party rooms, there should be a warning to them.
    Because it’s Orlando, a family resort. It’s likely that responsible authors will be careful what they put in Promo Alley, because it is usually available to anyone at the convention hotel.

    For me, RT is a chance to meet readers and fellow writers, as well as do a little business that is hard to do in email. I’m happy to say that business was done and meetings were made.
    I write for Ellora’s Cave, and since I was signed, I’ve made it a point to read all the output I can, and so far, I have yet to read out-and-out porn. The books are of varying quality, especially the older ones, and not all of them are to my personal taste, but erotic or not, they are all romances. No porn. I’ve seen that at other publishing houses, but not EC. But one woman’s erotic romance is another woman’s porn, I guess. I’m reasonably open-minded and pretty tolerant, and I don’t seem to have that guilt about sex that many people carry around (including my mother!) It’s fun, it’s free, and as long as it’s consensual, it hurts nobody.
    RT is wacky, it’s a bit wild, but porn, no, you’ll have to do what a group of people did last year at Houston and visit a male strip club for that. And no, they weren’t dragged in and forced to watch, or to go, they went of their own accord. They even paid to do it.
    The moment I was shocked was when I saw children at the faerie ball. I really didn’t think they belonged there, and I hope I won’t see it again. It really isn’t the place for them. Fairies or not.

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  30. BevQB
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:20:01

    Anon76 said:

    Yes, the cavemen and the contestants are two seperate groups. On occassion, one of the cavemen also enters the cover model contest.

    AH! Thank you. In Daytona, the Mr. Romance Contestants and the Cavemen were the same group. That probably has a lot to do with the difference in how the men behaved at the two cons. As I said, in Daytona, they used charm to garner votes and were evidently aware that the Con was, in effect, a job interview.

    I am assuming then that this year, the seperate group of Cavemen were there for “entertainment” purposes only. It still might have been more acceptable if they were hired for the night of the EC party only AND they were given some guidelines for behavior.

    The Mr. Romance Contestants, however, should still be free to attend all the events in their efforts to charm votes from the attendees.

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  31. Tawny
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:22:36

    I have attended RT for the past three years, and every year I have come back knowing I got a whole lot more out of the convention than a wild week of partying with half-naked men.

    Nothing personal, but IMO, bloggers tend to post topics that are controversial, sensational. Topics that will draw attention and increase hits/page views. As a result, I believe a few occurrences have received the lion's share of the attention in blog world. And, sadly, the actions of a few are becoming the representation of the many.

    Not every cover model is a stripper or porn star. Not every cover model groped women. And not every conference attendee witnessed lewd behavior.

    Like Angela said, there are a lot of other workshops, events, and opportunities there for someone who is looking to network, meet new people, talk about books, and learn about the industry. I'm not there to fawn over the cover models. I'm there to meet fellow authors, to talk to readers and booksellers, and to learn. That's what I wanted to do, and that's what I did. Like Angela, I didn’t sit in my room and watch HBO.

    Jane, you make some interesting points, and your position is obviously well thought out. My only disagreement is in relation to this sentence: “Romance is not porn and I think that EC and RT do a disservice to the genre by focusing on one component above everything else, further promoting the equation of romance with porn.” Ellora's Cave is an erotic romance publisher who is seeking to market their product to a specific segment of romance readers. I don't think they do a disservice to the genre by focusing on the sexual content in their books. That's their niche, and they should be able to market their books to appeal to readers who are looking for sexy books with edgy material. In fact, I could argue that by not clearly defining who they are and what kinds of books they publish, they could mislead readers.

    Does that mean I think they should have men running around manhandling conference attendees (or vice-versa) or simulating sex acts on stage? No way. But it does mean that they should be able to produce their marketing materials, their party gift bags and theme, and anything else associated with their company in line with their target market–to the extent that RT feels is appropriate.

    To me, the question is what does RT want the Romantic Times convention to be about? What is the purpose of the convention? And how do the convention planners make sure that the events, workshops, parties, gift baskets, etc further their purpose? Honestly, if I had had a problem, I would have contacted RT at to let them know. Because IMO that’s the best way to initiate change.

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  32. Dalia
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:26:04

    Nifty,

    Ditto. Bring back sexual tension! Please!

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  33. JaneO
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:26:52

    Nifty – YES!
    As for the RT conference, tacky is tacky. I’m glad to have read about it so I will know better than to go.

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  34. Jane
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:29:08

    Ms. Connolly – your response has a tone of “get over it” to it which is the point of the whole article. I hear you saying that what the conference was missing was not enough oiled flesh. My argument is that making oiled flesh the focal point of the conference oversexualizes romance; that in focusing on the man titty instead of the core of romance which is the love fantasy, then it degrades the genre as a whole. And romance as a genre doesn’t need help in dragging it down.

    “People don’t behave as professionals all the time.” Why not? I mean, why can’t you at a conference devoted to romance books and romance writers and romance readers actually have people behave as professionals? Why can’t the Cavemen act as paid professionals? (or conversely, were they and if so, doesn’t that raise even other questions). I don’t understand why that is so hard to accomplish. I’ve been to many conferences during my professional life and I’ve always acted as a professional. The time not to act as a professional is at home or in my friends’ homes.

    If what an attendee at RT wants at the conference is more oiled chests and simulated sex acts, why spend the thousands of dollars to go to Pittsburgh when she could probably order the same guy to come to her home and give her one on one attention. In other words, how is it different?

    And the conference fee that an attendee pays covers all the events. Again, it’s not an opt-in sort of thing. Are the parties all completely funded by the hosting publishers or are the attendees partly subsidizing it?

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  35. Nora Roberts
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:37:51

    . ~I've been avoiding RT, but I know I won't be able to avoid it for long. Someday I'm going to have to go, but I don't want to have to stress about parties and costumes~

    I don’t understand why you’d feel pressured to go–or not to go. It’s absolutely a choice.

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  36. ai grabe
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:39:00

    I write for Ellora's Cave, and since I was signed, I've made it a point to read all the output I can, and so far, I have yet to read out-and-out porn

    Are you serious? No, you can’t be. HAVE YOU NOT SEEN THE COVERS?!?!

    I don't understand why you'd feel pressured to go-or not to go. It's absolutely a choice.

    Word, yo. What, they’re gonna take away your author badge if you don’t go to RT or something?

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  37. Jane
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:40:02

    Tawny – I have been a long time proponent of erotic romance. If you go back to some of the earliest archives of the “opinions”, you’ll see that I have railed against those who are trying to marginalize ER. I believe it has a place in the romance family. I also believe that when EC began, it truly was focused on offering something that wasn’t in the romance market which was more sexually explicit romances.

    Now, I don’t believe that so much anymore. I think that some of what EC is offering really is pornography. I also think that having the Cavemen carted around to every event (like BEA and other trade shows), portrays romance in a poor light and isn’t necessary to trademark or market their product.

    If we view EC by its promotional materials – the Caveman calendar, the Cavemen themselves, what exactly is EC selling? Are they selling erotic romance fiction or are they simply selling sex? If it is the latter then how can they claim a defense against those who would say that EC and its writers don’t fall under the romance genre umbrella?

    There are other houses that publish erotic romance now. Spice, Avon Red, Berkley Heat, Aphrodisia. I didn’t see any of these companies bringing cover models to the convention but they still seem to be able to sell books.

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  38. Kathleen MacIver
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:56:44

    Many books within the genre have no sex or very little or is represented in a closed door manner. If all that readers wanted was sexy stuff wrapped up in a pretty package, you have to wonder why more explicit erotica and erotic romances aren't more successful.

    I want to thank you for making this point, Jane. I, like Nifty, LOVE sexual tension, but get precious little out of most descriptive sex scenes. Consequently, that’s what I write. If/when I’m published, I’ll be known as a romance author, and I’d like, as much as possible, for the public to be aware that there is a very wide spectrum of romance being published. Therefore, I think these conferenses should reflect (to the public, as well as to those attending) the wide range of romance being written, as much as possible.

    I do realize, however, that more “exciting” and explicit goings-on will make the news (whether through blogger land or elsewhere) much faster and wider than more traditional happenings. I guess the question is whether convention organizers should take this into account when they make rules as to what’s allowed and what’s not.

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  39. Nifty
    May 06, 2008 @ 10:57:00

    Tawny – I have been a long time proponent of erotic romance. If you go back to some of the earliest archives of the “opinions”, you'll see that I have railed against those who are trying to marginalize ER. I believe it has a place in the romance family.

    I just wish there was a way to really know what you were getting. I like erotica and have a vast and varied collection of it in my porno box, but it used to be that when I wanted an erotica novel, I trotted down to Borders and went to the Erotica section and found myself something to read. Lately, though, it seems that there are fewer books in that section as the “erotic romance/romantica” titles increase in number. Nowadays, “erotic romance” is mixed in with “regular” romance — for lack of a better way to put it — and you don’t really know what you’re getting until you start reading the book. Sure…some labels make it pretty obvious. I know if I’m buying an EC or a Aphrodisia title (which I don’t, actually, since I don’t like “romantica”) that I’m going to get “erotic romance.” But if the book doesn’t have an EC-style cover or isn’t titled “Big Spankable Asses,” I really have no way of knowing that the content is going to be heavy on the sex, light on the relationship.

    Now, if they could figure out a way to publish stories that are heavy on the sex AND heavy on the relationship, fine. But right now, that’s not the case. Romance novels are X number of pages long. If a “romantica” novel features seven or eight (or more!) sex scenes that are 15-20 (or more!) pages long each, there’s very little time left for the development of the actual relationship.

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  40. flip
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:00:24

    I remember reading the Flower and The Flame 37 years ago. It blew me away. It had sex!!!! I like sexy books. But I don’t read for the sex. I read for the story. I need characters that I care about. I need an engrossing plot.

    Then I remember the first clinch cover that I ever saw. I thought that it was hot. I bought the book. To this day, I prefer a half naked man on a romance cover to some cartoon.

    I enjoy books with the forcible seduction. I love Anne Stuart and Linda Howard.

    Needless to say, there are a lot of women who hate all of the things that I like. I can’t stand scenes of two men. I read a really good paranormal which was ruined for me due to the sex scenes between two male characters. When I see a post about authors posting naked pictures, naively I totally did not expect to see someone’s genitalia.

    But on the happy side, I can choose what websites I visit and what books I read. The key is not exposing people to unwanted experiences.

    Female sexuality has been suppressed for thousand and thousand of years. Barriers are being broken. Some women enjoy a frat party atmosphere. Others are really hate it. But I can’t attack freedom. However, I do believe that if convention is being touted as an opportunity for writers and readers to mingle, it should focus on this. If someone wants naughty parties, it should be arranged that no one is unwilling exposed to unpleasant experiences.

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  41. Ann Bruce
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:01:13

    Are you serious? No, you can't be. HAVE YOU NOT SEEN THE COVERS?!?!

    If I judged books solely by the covers, I wouldn’t read half the books I do.

    There are plenty of EC covers that are more discreet than some Avon historical romance covers. And if someone needs proof, I’d be more than happy to supply it.

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  42. Bernita
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:01:36

    One thing that strikes me as interesting about this discussion and controversy is an apparent conflation in some quarters of fantasy and reality, ie. approval of erotica demands that one live the dream, if only for a short time and if only with erzatz immitations of it.

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  43. MD
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:03:01

    That reminds me of my husband’s comment that he didn’t like to attend business conferences or CLE seminars very often because a lot of them degenerated into some pretty sleazy behavior.
    Apparently, men do not have the market cornered on sleazy behavior.

    I do not go into bad areas of town, for my own safety and peace of mind. RT sounds like a bad area of town. Penguincon or whatever it’s called sounds pretty bad, too.

    Everything feels oversexualized these days, including romance. It makes me sad, because it takes away from (at least to me) the beauty, power, and mystery of sex. When a romance novel has sex every few pages, and sex that goes on for pages and pages…to be honest, that does just feel like porn to me. I am not labelling it porn, because YMMV. It’s just, after being so inundated with the mechanics of every sex act of the hero and heroine, sex starts to feel common. Boring. And very unromantic.
    And the further you go down that road, the more and more porn-like erotica has to become in order to stay titillating. Hence, the stuff they sell at places like EC now. Makes me want to go take a long (cold) shower and read a romance with just a few chaste kisses.

    And the “cavemen” roaming the halls to grope unsuspecting women doesn’t elevate my opinion of the people in charge at Ellora’s Cave, either.

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  44. Ann Bruce
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:21:40

    And the “cavemen” roaming the halls to grope unsuspecting women doesn't elevate my opinion of the people in charge at Ellora's Cave, either.

    Would someone who was unsuspectingly groped by a Caveman please come forward. I keep hearing seeing this second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-hand.

    At the same time, why do people brush off the rumors of the Cavemen being groped by authors and readers?

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  45. Lynne Connolly
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:32:31

    Ms. Connolly – your response has a tone of “get over it” to it which is the point of the whole article.

    Your inference, not my implication. I never said it, I never meant it.

    I hear you saying that what the conference was missing was not enough oiled flesh.

    No, I didn’t say the conference didn’t have enough oiled flesh, I said that was what I heard from the people there at the time. Me, I can take it or leave it. That’s not why I go.

    My argument is that making oiled flesh the focal point of the conference oversexualizes romance; that in focusing on the man titty instead of the core of romance which is the love fantasy, then it degrades the genre as a whole. And romance as a genre doesn't need help in dragging it down.

    When did sex “drag romance down?” Is romance, then, something pure and beautiful where couples never think about getting each other naked? Is making love a dirty and degrading act?
    Not in my book (or books, even).

    “People don't behave as professionals all the time.” Why not?

    Allow me to rephrase. People don’t behave true to their professions all the time. Of course a professional manner is required, but that’s very different to behaving like a stereotype of what you do for a living. Which was my point.

    And the conference fee that an attendee pays covers all the events. Again, it's not an opt-in sort of thing. Are the parties all completely funded by the hosting publishers or are the attendees partly subsidizing it?

    I have never yet been to a conference where every attendee attended everything on offer. There were some really interesting events I was forced to miss because of commitments elsewhere and I didn’t actually go to all the parties because I had two private meetings with editors and fellow authors to attend as well (I’m not talking EC events, I’m talking about business meetings with my editors and authors I might be doing projects with in the future).

    The sponsor pays most of the costs of the party, mixer or whatever, as far as I know. I presume the cost of the conference helps to subsidise it too, but since I’m not privy to RT’s accounting figures, I can’t help you more than that.
    To me the cost is reasonable, comparable to the other conference I regularly attend (the RNA conference in the UK – shorter, and more industry oriented). How much does the RWA conference cost and is everybody expected to attend every event?

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  46. Jill D.
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:37:42

    Jane,

    I hear what you are saying about romance being misrepresented at RT, by having the focus be on sex. But, I don't necessarily think that's the case. I think that the coverage on the RT conference has mainly been focused only on the scandalous behavior, because that is what gets peoples' attention. Ellora's Cave is only one component of the conference. What about the other publisher parties? Have we heard anything about them? NO – because apparently it is not as exciting. What about the awards banquet? How come nobody has chosen to list the winners on their blog? I remember last year that you guys (if it wasn't you, someone did) had minute to minute coverage at RWA. I think things have been blown out of proportion and that we are getting a skewed perception of the conference.

    I say to counter-act all the negative press RT has received, then the people who attended the conference, who had a positive experience that didn't involve any gyrating, half naked men should post about it on their websites and spread the word.

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  47. Lynne Connolly
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:42:40

    Now, if they could figure out a way to publish stories that are heavy on the sex AND heavy on the relationship, fine. But right now, that's not the case. Romance novels are X number of pages long. If a “romantica” novel features seven or eight (or more!) sex scenes that are 15-20 (or more!) pages long each, there's very little time left for the development of the actual relationship.

    Read mine and say that. Of course, you might, but I do work very hard to keep both the sexual tension and the development of the relationship upfront and center. Sexual tension happens before the act, so I could argue that if a couple have regular sex, there can be more of it in an erotic romance book, not less. I do try for that, and my poor characters have dreadful dilemmas to overcome, internal and external, before they get their happy ending.
    We aren’t writing these books because nobody wants them, we’re not writing them because we love being vilified and abused, we’re not writing them as a chore.
    I met a number of delightful and charming writers of erotic romance while I was at RT and I felt myself privileged to be a part of it all. To a woman (and one man I met!) we write them because we love to write them, we love the freedom that we have to describe a relationship without having to close the bedroom door. Many of us would write them anyway- the fact that currently they’re wildly popular is a bonus.
    I don’t write every book to an erotic level, I write books with a lower sexual content too, but if I write a book about rock musicians, sure, it’s going to have sex in it. I write to celebrate the act and the freedom we have now, as opposed to our mothers and grandmothers. We have the choice.
    Yes, it’s a polemic, but I’m old enough to remember the good ole days of repression and shame, (later than you might think!) and I am not going back there. Ever.
    We now have a true choice. From the burgeoning genre of Inspirational to the full-on BDSM, we can choose what we read. Long may it be that way.

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  48. Jane
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:43:38

    Ms Connolly – I feel like you are deliberately missing the point. I never said that sex drags romance down. I said ” that in focusing on the man titty instead of the core of romance which is the love fantasy, then it degrades the genre as a whole.” Nowhere did I ever say that sex was dirty or that romance was pure or that making love was a dirty and degrading act. Point it out, please.

    You said “Certainly Houston was wilder than Pittsburgh and the complaints I heard at this year were that the Cavemen didn't show enough flesh, not that they showed too much! Oiled bodies would have been more fun than the covered chests that were mostly on display.”

    To me, that is you saying “that what the conference was missing was not enough oiled flesh.”

    As for the conference cost, if you object to the EC cavemen but enjoy all the other events, why should you, as an attendee, help subsidize the event? Yes, RWA is expensive and no one is expected to attend every event, but I can’t recall there being some “event” that I found was objectionable.

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  49. Jane
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:48:08

    Nifty – I don’t disagree with that there should be good labelling. I am totally for that. I think that part of the problem of erotic romances is that there is a glut and not everyone is doing it well. What I mean by that is that a good erotic romance is strong on the sex and the relationship. (I find Joey Hill to excel at this and Anya Bast’s novellas). Does that help clear things up?

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  50. Lynne Connolly
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:49:14

    Are you serious? No, you can't be. HAVE YOU NOT SEEN THE COVERS?!?!

    Have you seen mine?
    http://lynneconnolly.com/wildfire.htm

    Not a naked chest in sight. But I love them, and I write to the E level (the middle level).

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  51. katiebabs
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:52:50

    Anyone for bunny porn with heaving bosums and oiled chests?

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  52. Tawny
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:54:05

    I totally agree, Jill.

    I know a lot of people have blogged about their positive (grope-free) RT experiences. But their blogs/posts haven’t been picked up by the larger blogs and thus their messages have reached a limited audience. OTOH, the more sensational/scandalous posts have gained more attention and gotten picked up by blogs like this one (and others).

    The bottom line: it’s easy for perceptions to be skewed, people to get lumped into broad categories (example: EC Cavemen are porn stars/strippers), and prejudices to be spread.

    I think things have been blown out of proportion and that we are getting a skewed perception of the conference.

    I say to counter-act all the negative press RT has received, then the people who attended the conference, who had a positive experience that didn't involve any gyrating, half naked men should post about it on their websites and spread the word.

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  53. Anna J. Evans
    May 06, 2008 @ 11:58:58

    Hey Julie! Thanks, I am with you as well. I think your eaten post eventually showed up.

    As for the accusation some people seem to be making that EC is becoming simply a purveyor of porn…well it doesn’t seem fair to lump all the hundreds of writers producing work for a house into one category. I do my best to write love stories, because that is what I like to read. My EC books are sexy and at times may push the comfort level of some readers, but they are, at heart, about two people falling in love, overcoming obstacles, and having fabulous sex on the way to their happy ever after. If that’s not romance, I don’t know what is.

    And believe me, I know, I’ve been stealing romance novels from under my mom’s bed since I was eleven :).

    Anna J. Evans

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  54. Nora Roberts
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:07:28

    ~When did sex “drag romance down?” Is romance, then, something pure and beautiful where couples never think about getting each other naked? Is making love a dirty and degrading act?
    Not in my book (or books, even).~

    I didn’t read sex drags romance down, but that questionable sexual behavior at the con, a focus on that can drag the image of the genre down.

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  55. flip
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:08:17

    Why do we have to attack anyone else’s reading tastes or interests?

    In this crazy world, they are still cutting off female genitalia, rape victims are forced to marry their rapist, women are stoned for adultery, a gang rape victim is sentenced for her unbecoming conduct, young girls are married to older men, and women are denied the right to vote. Women are still being attacked for their sexuality.

    Books have been an outlet that has allowed women to explore their sexuality. I think that this is a good thing.

    If a bunch of women want to go to a party with male strippers, who should say nay. The key is no one should be exposed to sexual conduct or sexual content that they find offensive.

    As far as the oversexualization of romance books demeaning the genre, the genre has always been attacked. When Victoria Holt and Mary Stewart were writing their novels without any explicit sex, the genre was demeaned. The term chick lit was meant to be derogatory. Anything relating strictly to women is demeaned. Chick flicks are bits of fluff movies that no man would want to watch. I decided a long ago that I don’t have to defend my reading tastes to anyone.

    Unlike so many other mediums, the romance genre in books is controlled by the female readers. I think that this is great. A significant number want sexy books. The entire Ellora Cave story is mind boggling. A woman wrote an erotic story. It was rejected by all of the publishers. So she starts her own publishing company online and makes a fortune.

    Talk about female power! It rocks. While erotic novels are not my tastes, there was obviously a market, which was untapped.

    Today, there is an incredible wide range of romance genres to read. Bottom line, I will always support freedom of choice. I will never support forcing your tastes on anyone else.

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  56. Lynne Connolly
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:09:55

    As for the conference cost, if you object to the EC cavemen but enjoy all the other events, why should you, as an attendee, help subsidize the event? Yes, RWA is expensive and no one is expected to attend every event, but I can't recall there being some “event” that I found was objectionable.

    Ellora’s Cave pays for the Cavemen, not the attendees. The conference fee doesn’t cover their presence, EC pays for that.
    As for RWA having objectionable content at its conference, I can recall an event that evoked storms of protests, to whit the RITA ceremony of 2005. Showing the young man facing the tanks on Tienanmen Square to the accompaniment of “Don’t worry, be happy” had quite an effect, I seem to recall.

    My only objection was that the RT convention at Pittsburgh was an enjoyable, amazingly well organised conference, considering the Hilton’s lack of preparedness. If you didn’t want to see any mantitty, it was incredibly easy to avoid it.
    You could have gone through the whole thing without setting eyes on a male nipple, if that was what you wanted to do (and many people did).
    The idea that this was some kind of wild orgy is something perpetrated by a very few people, and simply isn’t true. It didn’t happen.
    If people were offended, of course they have a right to protest, but only one person has done so so far, and kudos to her. Notice, she said what she had to say and got offstage. Good idea, methinks.
    And yes, would somebody who actually was groped by either a Caveman or a cover model, please come forward and say so! Or people who were there and were offended in some way.
    Still, I’ve seen other events blown up like this. I have some respect for this blog, which is why I came here, but not in third-party gossipy accounts of events which either didn’t take place or which very few people actually witnessed, without also discussing the awards, the fun things (the Impalers were pretty cool!) and the valuable workshops which took place. Readers and authors are upset that they are being accused of taking part in some kind of orgy, and RT was far from being that.
    I’m sorry, but I can’t continue this discussion right now. Today’s word count awaits and I need a pot of tea after all that agitation. I will try to pop back to check, but that’s it for now. Duty calls!

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  57. Tawny
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:13:24

    Hi Jane,

    I understand now what you were trying to say. You’re not talking about EC’s events at RT when you suggest EC is furthering the ER=Porn myth, but at EC’s overall marketing plan. The way they promote their company via the posters, calendars, etc. at all functions and/or in general.

    Also, would (going back to RT) you suggest RT discontinue the Mr. Romance competition? The event, with the models milling about the conference all week, posing in sensual clinches with women on stage (I personally watched the winner lick one woman’s neck and put his hand on another one’s breast…on stage), etc. also adds to the RT = wild-party-gone-wrong perception?

    Now, I don't believe that so much anymore. I think that some of what EC is offering really is pornography. I also think that having the Cavemen carted around to every event (like BEA and other trade shows), portrays romance in a poor light and isn't necessary to trademark or market their product.

    If we view EC by its promotional materials – the Caveman calendar, the Cavemen themselves, what exactly is EC selling? Are they selling erotic romance fiction or are they simply selling sex?

    There are other houses that publish erotic romance now. Spice, Avon Red, Berkley Heat, Aphrodisia. I didn't see any of these companies bringing cover models to the convention but they still seem to be able to sell books.

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  58. Karen Scott
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:14:15

    Now, I don't believe that so much anymore. I think that some of what EC is offering really is pornography.

    Very true, no matter how much they would like to deny it.

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  59. Walt
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:24:39

    Nifty: As a long-time reader of romance, I've become annoyed lately by the oversexification of the books and I have to say that I liked it better when the lines between Erotica and Romance were very distinct.

    There is a two fold message here, so I’ll separate them as I see it —
    The first is basically your point. The success of the steamier romances has brought the Erotica out of back corners of romance. EC being a prime beneficiary of this. This has an effect on what booksellers end up selling, so while more traditional Romance stories have no reason to change, the booksellers are in the business of selling ink on paper and if there’s no legal issue to selling additional Erotica, then I could see a competition for the reader’s book buying budget. In other words, Erotica competes against more traditional Romance, and even a small percentage gain can be viewed as a huge win for the sub-genre.

    I don’t see an EC book winning a RITA anytime soon in the same way I don’t see any Judd Apatow movies being nominated for an Oscar anytime soon. A win at the box office is all Judd Apatow movies need, and the same goes for Erotica stories and the romance buying marketplace.

    Traditional Romance is still going to dominate “the box office” as well as any awards ceremonies, but as the Erotica sub-genre grows, it’s influence may be growing faster than it’s total percentage of sales might indicate.

    This leads me to the second point — the allegation that EC has dominated the RT Convention. I’m here to agree with that allegation, having only attended the booksigning in Houston last year. My opinion is mostly anecdotal, formed during my time taking pictures of various authors and briefly chatting with them. I noticed that every author that didn’t write erotic romance would start every “Hello (Reader)!” with “You know I don’t write Erotic Romance, right?” … or some such. On the fourth of fifth non erotic author I heard say this at the booksigning, I inquired. It seems many of the people attending RT were there to meet erotic romance authors. This had the effect of alienating the authors that wrote traditional Romance, and some even felt that there was little place for traditional Romance at an RT convention.

    So, whether EC and the rest of the Erotica publishers purposefully set out to dominate the RT convention, it seems as if that’s exactly what has happened.

    Essentially, even though an RT magazine may cover all of the books published within the genre of Romance, an RT convention is apparently highlighting one sub-genre. Author Beware.

    Lastly a mitigating thought or two.
    If you go to the San Diego Comic-Con, you will see a few hundred of 40,000/day fans attending dressed as their favorite characters. It’s elaborate, and it’s silly, but that’s why they’re called fans. Thing is, many of the companies showing their material at the convention hire (often scantily clad) “booth babes” — essentially the Cavemen at RT approach, only reversing the gender here. So, the concept of using sexy models at a convention is not unique.

    So, the only issue with the “EC Cavemen” is the implication of what the Cavemen represent. If a “Caveman” was in the same elevator as underage teens at the RT convention hotel (a fear voiced elsewhere), I wouldn’t feel any different than any other business man. It’s a guy in a costume, paid to be there, and hopefully everyone outside of the convention rooms behaves normally. A person is not his costume. The hypothetical teens in the elevator with this (assuming) scantily clad man wouldn’t know he’s there to represent a very sexy line of books.

    Listen, ALL conventions need to have regulations that dictate decorum. Fan conventions are going to have FANS show up and they might expect a different “experience” than author based conferences. The conferences are all in the business of making money, and projecting an appearance of excitement is part of the attraction.

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  60. Susanne Saville
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:27:02

    My understanding is – and please correct me if I’m wrong – that all the publisher parties are entirely paid for by the publisher. Dorchester hosts and pays for their party. EC hosts and pays for their party. So attendees are not subsidizing parties, and need not worry about what their conference fees went to on that score.

    I attended RT this year and had a wonderful time. And I wrote about it on my blog and my website. :)

    As others have said, I didn’t sit in my room watching HBO, but I didn’t see any of the bad behavior reported. I’m *not* saying it didn’t happen. I *believe* the people who said it happened.

    I’m just saying that it was possible to attend RT, have a wonderful time, and never even know that any of this stuff was going on.

    Except for the EC party – which I did not attend, and which is clearly marked as an EC party. I heard from friends immediately afterward that it was “tacky”.

    But I’m told that the simulated sex, etc. all happened *after* the party was officially over, so many people had left and didn’t see it. And the other bad behavior happened in the bar. (Which I never went into.)

    Let me stress – I am *not* saying I condone this or anything remotely like that. You had better believe that I would have been offended if I had witnessed any groping of unsuspecting women. (And anyone groping me would rue the day.)

    I just wanted to let people know that it was not like Cavemen were roaming the halls hunting for targets. The bad behavior was more isolated/localized than that.

    And there were no chocolate penises (penii? penes?) this year. That was a few years ago, or so I’m told. There were condoms wrapped like lollipops on a stick. But they looked like lollipops. Seriously. I almost ate mine. :) I started to unwrap it, thinking lollipop, and then I realized what it really was and had a good laugh. But then I’m probably naive. Or stupid. ;)

    For anyone who did attend the event with the chocolate dildos, are we talking a hollow mold with fake chocolate like a cheap Easter bunny? Or are we talking a solid mold with quality chocolate?

    Because, dude, if you give me a cylindrical half foot of solid Godiva, I’m your BFF for life. ;)

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  61. Jessica Barksdale Inclan
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:31:02

    Okay, so maybe I wouldn’t watch HBO in my room, but why I like RWA and why I would go to RT is to meet writers and readers and see my agent, etc. Probably because I am nosy, I would look in on a cavemen spectacle. But getting away to a conference during the semester to do things that would “stay at RT” just isn’t my thing. Frankly, if enough people want oil and caveman, let them have it. There are other conferences and ways of networking, and I don’t think that many other folk outside romance are paying attention to the RT conference, so it likely won’t drag the whole genre down into flames.

    Jessica Inclan

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  62. Nifty
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:31:18

    I think that part of the problem of erotic romances is that there is a glut and not everyone is doing it well. What I mean by that is that a good erotic romance is strong on the sex and the relationship. (I find Joey Hill to excel at this and Anya Bast's novellas). Does that help clear things up?

    I appreciate the recommendations. I looked those two authors up on Amazon and recognize some covers, especially Anya Bast’s. Here’s my thing: I’m cheap. Sorry, authors, but I kind of have to be these days. I’ll pay $7.99 for a mass market paperback romance novel, but I refuse to pay $12-$16 — otherwise known as “half-a-tank-of-gas”…although these days, it’s more like that’s “a-third-of-a-tank-of-gas” — for a trade-sized paperback romance novel. (I also refuse to buy those “venti-sized” paperbacks…the ones that are slightly bigger than mass-market PBs, but priced $2-$3 more.) I just won’t do it. Since this seems to be the format of choice for lines like EC and Aphrodisia, that’s part of the reason why I don’t read those lines (or authors), so maybe I’m missing lots of good books where the sex and story have a nice balance. Even when I’m in the mood for what I call “straight erotica” — meaning, basically, a story that focuses on the sex with very little (if any) emphasis on the romantic relationship — I go for imprints like Blue Moon, Black Lace, and Nexus because most of them are still in the mass-market paperback/$7.99 range.

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  63. Jill A
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:32:30

    Um, I’m not a writer and I haven’t been to any romance cons, but I have to pipe up…I feel uncomfortable with the idea that all events at a con should be ‘approved’ by all attendees, which is the feeling I get from Jane’s post:

    As for the conference cost, if you object to the EC cavemen but enjoy all the other events, why should you, as an attendee, help subsidize the event? Yes, RWA is expensive and no one is expected to attend every event, but I can't recall there being some “event” that I found was objectionable.

    I’m not sure if that was your intention. But I worry that when this mindset is present, an event turns into something that takes no chances on new events or ideas in the fear of offending someone, so it becomes less relevant and representative of the genre’s range.

    For example, at anime cons, there are some late night viewings of hentai (porn) anime. I don’t like hentai and I don’t go to these events, but it doesn’t bother me that my attendance fees are partially supporting it, because that’s part of anime as much as the romance series that I love are.

    I do hope though, that the more risque actions or events are clearly labelled, and not brought into the public parts of the con space where people who don’t enjoy them are forced to witness or take part in them. I don’t know whether or not the RT con had things like this happen.

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  64. EC Sheedy
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:34:18

    To be groped or not to be groped, that is the question . . .

    And you need a button to announce your preference? Wow, RT must be some conference. I’ve never attended–always made me nervous even thinking about it–but maybe I should go one of these years. I’m old enough now that if a wore a flashing neon banner saying “Grope Here” it wouldn’t do a damn bit of good anyway.

    Erotica, porn, love, smut, crap, romance, whatever it’s called,is ultimately defined by the reader, and she/he can read whatever they want to read. But I agree totally with whoever said, what’s in the book should be described as clearly as possible, so a reader can make an informed choice; so he/she won’t be offended or feel they’ve wasted their hard-earned dollars. (Hell, maybe a sex/love scene count will do the trick.)

    But has romance been over sexualized lately? I’d say yes. Does it help/hinder the genre? I haven’t the foggiest. I know it makes a lot of dedicated romance readers feel uncomfortable. But those are my friends talking, which isn’t close to hard data from an official poll.

    EC

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  65. GrowlyCub
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:37:02

    On the pricing of erotica. I just inquired about word count of a story that I had seen in excerpt and liked and was told that it’s 25,000 words and very reasonably priced at $4.99.

    I really liked the excerpt, but I do not consider that reasonable at all. Matter of fact, that’s highway robbery! Categories are at least double that in length if not more and they are around 5 bucks and you have to add paper, ink and warehousing to consider as part of that price.

    If e-pubs continue to jack up the prices like that for such little output, I for one won’t be buying new authors any longer.

    Kinda besides the original topic, but I just had that burning desire to share my disappointment that I won’t get to read that story now.

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  66. Ann Bruce
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:48:49

    To be groped or not to be groped, that is the question . . .

    And you need a button to announce your preference? Wow, RT must be some conference.

    The Open Source Boob Project did NOT take place at RT.

    *sigh* I knew some people were going to merge RT and Penguicon together in their minds.

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  67. Jaci Burton
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:49:41

    Jaci, hate to break it to you…but Orlando is in the middle of Florida. No beach. You'll have to drive an hour east or west to catch waves, LOL! But it does have Disney, which has simulated beaches. So there is that.

    dammit Julie, quit bursting my bubble.

    Yes I know where Orlando is, but the beach is closer there than here in Oklahoma. ;-)

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  68. EC Sheedy
    May 06, 2008 @ 12:54:59

    Sorry, Ann. I stand corrected. Too many words, not enough brain!
    EC

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  69. Fiordiligi
    May 06, 2008 @ 13:27:45

    Oh Nifty, I so agree with you. I read less and less new releases each year, choosing instead older books, working more on backlists and looking for (forgotten) hidden treasures. There are still great books to find every month, but so much of it is either paranormal (BLEARGH), or full of half-hearted sweating and grunting that it leaves me utterly cold. I crave books that emotionally involve me, and convey a sizzling erotic tension without immediately pulling out the big guns. I used to read quite a lot of erotic romance, but find myself utterly bored most of the time, nowadays. Sorry, went a little OT here.

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  70. Emmy
    May 06, 2008 @ 13:32:16

    Uh…anyone who has been to EC’s website and seen their Got Sex? t-shirts or their Got Sex? ‘jolly pop’ condoms should not then go to an EC party and be shocked that they’re peddling…wait for it…SEX! Or read a book and expect anything but sex, for that matter.

    And if the company or its authors doesn’t want to be seen as purveyors of literary pr0n, selling either of the above- or a shirt that states “No need to behave, when you’re in the cave”- would prolly be a bad idea. Is it any surprise that EC’s models didn’t behave??

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  71. Sunita
    May 06, 2008 @ 13:37:46

    I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea that RT is for fans to meet authors, and some (many?) fans like dressing in costume and groping/being groped by hired hoochy coochy guys, but it is ALSO a place for professional networking and development. How are those things supposed to fit together? If Walt is on target in his assessment that most of the fans at RT want to meet erotica authors, then maybe RT should focus on that segment of the reading and writing market, both for the professional and unprofessional aspects. People who don’t want to be part of that combined environment either limit their attendance to one or the other or don’t go and take the hit development-wise.

    As someone who has attended lots of professional conferences and conventions but no “Cons” in the fan sense of the word, I really think these two goals are likely to be contradictory for many of the professional attendees. This has nothing to do with one’s attitude toward sexual expression, erotica, or whatever. I’ve behaved in ways that are antithetical to the stereotype and the reality of my profession at conferences/conventions, but not as part of an official event. You want to have a threesome or more in your hotel room? You want to oil up some male body parts and get frisky? Go for it. Feel free to tell all your friends about it too. But that’s not a sponsored, approved event that constitutes part of the formal program.

    Of course, I don’t understand why there’s a Mr. Romance contest either, so I’m probably just missing a whole bunch of boats in this discussion.

    And Nifty: YES YES YES. I too like my romance to be about relationships (with or without sex). And it’s getting harder and harder to find a relationship that isn’t defined or propelled by the sexual activity of the h/h. I find myself reading more and more romances from the “sweet” category just because then I KNOW the sexual athletics won’t take up half the wordcount.

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  72. Corrine
    May 06, 2008 @ 13:42:41

    I really don’t understand the idea behind having half-naked men as “entertainment” at a business conference at all, and I agree with Jane that had the situation been reversed and it was half-naked women dancing around in front of a predominantly male audience, all hell would have broken loose.

    Blatant shows of objectification of a person’s body – male or female – at a business conference, no matter how congenial, will never reflect well on said business and has no place there. It’s things like this that bring the romance genre down to the respect level it usually garners among the uninitiated. And for good cause: if we can’t take ourselves seriously and have respect for our own work, why should we respect others to do so?

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  73. Jolie du Pre
    May 06, 2008 @ 13:42:47

    Nora Roberts said,

    “I don't understand why you'd feel pressured to go-or not to go. It's absolutely a choice.”

    ~

    First of all, congratulations Nora on the success with your books. (I’m assuming this is *the* Nora Roberts I’m addressing.)

    Second, I believe that RT is so big that it is fastly becoming no longer an option for those who want to write erotic romance. I was encouraged by people like Jodi Payne who told me that her fans came out to support her GLBT work and that RT was very welcoming of authors of GLBT. This is in sharp contrast to reports I had heard in earlier years. My reasons for avoiding RT are diminishing – and that’s a good thing.

    Jolie du Pre

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  74. Corrine
    May 06, 2008 @ 13:42:56

    I really don’t understand the idea behind having half-naked men as “entertainment” at a business conference at all, and I agree with Jane that had the situation been reversed and it was half-naked women dancing around in front of a predominantly male audience, all hell would have broken loose.

    Blatant shows of objectification of a person’s body – male or female – at a business conference, no matter how congenial, will never reflect well on said business and has no place there. It’s things like this that bring the romance genre down to the respect level it usually garners among the uninitiated. And for good cause: if we can’t take ourselves seriously and have respect for our own work, why should we expect others to do so?

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  75. GrowlyCub
    May 06, 2008 @ 13:47:33

    Sunita and all,

    that’s such an interesting observation because for me it’s been the other way around. Since I don’t like woowoo, chicklit, women’s fiction, romantic suspense and anything that’s not basically contempory romance, I’ve been having a hard time finding books in which the relationship takes center stage.

    I’ve found some of the best developed relationship stories in the erotica field. Jules Jones (Lord and Master, m/m) and Anne Douglas (Tea for Three, m/m/f and Red Skirt Cool Fountain, m/f/m) have written beautiful sexy stories that nevertheless are all about the relationship. I’d be happy to share other authors, if you are interested.

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  76. Liz
    May 06, 2008 @ 14:11:28

    I’ve been considering all day whether to post a comment…and then Emmy pretty much summed up my feelings.

    I’ve visited the EC web site in the past, and frankly, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, maybe it deserves the negative “p” title and not the sugar-coated “e” title.

    And as far as what happened at Romantic Times, this reader believes (and just my opinion, and I realize many will disagree) that those of you who have pushed and pushed to expand the definition of what is considered within the romance genre apparently didn’t look very carefully at who/what you were inviting into your house, because many of the new residents and their guests are going to condone and endorse this sort of behavior.

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  77. JulieLeto
    May 06, 2008 @ 14:20:19

    Just teasing you, Jaci. I knew you knew. If you end up driving west, drop me an email!

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  78. Lynne
    May 06, 2008 @ 14:25:03

    Corrine said:

    I really don't understand the idea behind having half-naked men as “entertainment” at a business conference at all, and I agree with Jane that had the situation been reversed and it was half-naked women dancing around in front of a predominantly male audience, all hell would have broken loose.

    Exactly. It just smells like exploitation to me, and as long as this kind of crap goes on at RT, I’m not spending money to support it.

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  79. Jolie du Pre
    May 06, 2008 @ 14:47:12

    Liz wrote,

    “And as far as what happened at Romantic Times, this reader believes (and just my opinion, and I realize many will disagree) that those of you who have pushed and pushed to expand the definition of what is considered within the romance genre apparently didn't look very carefully at who/what you were inviting into your house, because many of the new residents and their guests are going to condone and endorse this sort of behavior.”

    Yikes. This is the kind of comment that has kept this author of GLBT erotic romance away from RT. If RT is supposed to be for straight romance with no erotica or GLBT influences than they need to say that. I’ll stay away – no problem. But make it clear.

    To use an analogy – I’m a black woman. Tell me you don’t like me to my face. Don’t pretend you accept me and then talk behind my back.

    Applying that analogy to RT. Make it clear what you are and what you aren’t. It seems to me that RT is welcoming of more than just straight romance. If this is so, someday I look forward to attending. If not, I’ll stay away.

    Jolie du Pre

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  80. Nora Roberts
    May 06, 2008 @ 15:00:58

    ~this reader believes (and just my opinion, and I realize many will disagree) that those of you who have pushed and pushed to expand the definition of what is considered within the romance genre apparently didn't look very carefully at who/what you were inviting into your house, because many of the new residents and their guests are going to condone and endorse this sort of behavior.”~

    Yes, I have to disagree. I believe, strongly, that Romance as a genre means a core love story between two characters that ends happily. I think many who write erotic romance or gay and lesbian romance may feel as I do about the behavior reported at the con. I don’t think the type of book, or the sexuality of the book equals the author of that book condoning the behavior.

    Many will feel otherwise–many who write more traditional romance will feel otherwise. I think it depends, entirely, on the individual, not the spoke of the wheel of the genre on which that person writes.

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  81. Jolie du Pre
    May 06, 2008 @ 15:10:37

    Nora wrote:

    “Yes, I have to disagree. I believe, strongly, that Romance as a genre means a core love story between two characters that ends happily. I think many who write erotic romance or gay and lesbian romance may feel as I do about the behavior reported at the con. I don't think the type of book, or the sexuality of the book equals the author of that book condoning the behavior.”

    Thanks you, Nora.

    I’m a writer of GLBT erotica and erotic romance and I do not condone improper behavior at a conference. I’m supposed to be a professional. I always watch my behavior at a conference.

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  82. Jaci Burton
    May 06, 2008 @ 15:33:24

    And as far as what happened at Romantic Times, this reader believes (and just my opinion, and I realize many will disagree) that those of you who have pushed and pushed to expand the definition of what is considered within the romance genre apparently didn't look very carefully at who/what you were inviting into your house, because many of the new residents and their guests are going to condone and endorse this sort of behavior.

    Whoa. I strongly disagree with this. I write erotic romance for two publishers, and paranormal romance for another publisher. I didn’t attend RT this year, but as I mentioned earlier I attended in previous years. At every conference I attend, I conduct myself as a professional because I consider myself a professional. I neither condone nor appreciate bad behavior by anyone at any conference at any time. Genre has nothing to do with how I behave, or how I expect others to behave.

    I’m a romance author. Period. That’s how I would like to be perceived, at conference or not. It’s really sad and hurtful to be labeled in such a negative way because of the genre you write.

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  83. Janet Miller/Cricket Starr
    May 06, 2008 @ 15:35:22

    So many posts, so little time. And yet I pretty much read them all.

    Jaci, the weather in Orlando in April is usually lovely and I’m sure the hotel will have a very nice pool area. I’ll meet you there.

    Okay, this was my sixth RT convention. I started going before I sold to EC in 2003 and before EC started doing the “What’s your fantasy” party in 2004. In the years since that party began people started going to RT on Wednesday or earlier to be sure to get to EC’s party so that tells you how the RT regulars have come to regard that party.

    In the first year (2004) we only had the regular cover models who dressed in costume. This is before EC started doing the Cavemen anthologies and calendars. Two days after the party I was talking to someone at the awards luncheon who told me about the “naked men” at the EC party. HUH??? There were no naked men at the party. I was a hostess and at the party the entire time, even helping to clean up. The guys got onto the stage and did the YMCA and I thought it was hilarious because they clearly didn’t know it that well and every high school kid in the country seems to know that song. One was in a Native American get-up and so had some bare chest showing and a loin-cloth. Another man’s costume had gone astray (airline mishap) and so he’d come dressed as Tom Cruise in Risky Business, white shirt, no pants, shades and white socks. Apparently those two guys had been translated by the convention gossip circuit into “naked men”.

    This is why I always take hearsay evidence with a grain of salt. Not that I don’t believe some things did happen this year that should not have but I would prefer to hear first-hand accounts rather than what we are hearing.

    I go to the RT convention to promote my books and party with my writer buddies. I go to the RWA convention to hobnob with industry professionals and my fellow writers. Both conventions offer networking opportunities. I just do one with a blinking feather boa and giveaways like vampire fangs, and the other in a suit.

    RT is a friendly environment for erotic romance authors so a lot of us go. Yes Ellora’s Cave has a big presence. There were 95 ECPI authors signed up to walk across the stage. Since there were something like 300 authors there, that means close to a third were ECPI (which includes Cerridwen and Lotus Circle ) authors. We go because we see our sales improve after the convention and most of us also make enough money at our writing to justify the cost of the convention.

    I see RT as a celebration of romance and there should be room for cover models and dancing as well as networking and promotion. In a place with 1200 people there will be friction and sometimes things go wrong. Also stuff gets exaggerated. For example take the missing camera incident that was discribed over at Smart Bitches. That started out as VIP author’s daughter taking pictures of naughty bits with VIP2 author’s daughter’s camera, a showdown at the Dorchester party, more fighting in the bar, then the police getting called.

    It was later revealed to be pictures of an armpit getting misconstrued and people later exchanging chagrined apologies. No police, no fighting in the bar, no big drama after all. Just a mistake getting blown out of proportion. What I like about Sarah was that she reported all of it, including the retractions as she got the story straightened out. Oh and none of the people involved were ECPI authors.

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  84. Liz
    May 06, 2008 @ 15:45:27

    Jolie wrote

    Applying that analogy to RT. Make it clear what you are and what you aren't.

    I agree with that. I think that for the romance novel industry it’s “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” Not making it clear is easier than living with the consequences one way or another. Because whatever “the stand” is, some segment of readers and the industry is going to be unhappy. GLBT authors and those who like to read GLBT desire the recognition and connection to the genre. Hetro romance traditionalists don’t believe that the genre definition needs to be expanded to other kinds of relationships. It seems to me like the industry’s solution has been to acknowledge GLBT authors at the conference level but not at the reader’s level, in the bookstores.

    I want to make it clear that I consider GLBT in general a different issue than EC type material, and when I was referring to “who you are inviting in the door” I was specifically referring to EC and similar. Not all erotic romance is cheesy. My memory of my exposure (no pun intended) to EC is that it was some of the cheesiest stuff I’d ever seen, comparable to “very special” midnight movies on Cinemax.

    I understand that the topic of “expanding the definition” is a hot button that includes GLBT, EC type stuff, and perhaps other issues, but I was referring to EC style novels (and EC’s image) in specific.

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  85. Ann Bruce
    May 06, 2008 @ 15:53:54

    @Janet/Cricket,

    The RT rumors remind me of a children’s telephone game and that’s why I asked for first-hand accounts of these gropings and other happenings…and no one has stepped forward yet.

    At this rate, I might go to RT 2009 to sort fact from fiction.

    @Liz – Count me in as one of the people who very, very strongly disagrees with your opinion. Just because I write for EC does not mean I condone sexual misconduct and harassment.

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  86. Ann Bruce
    May 06, 2008 @ 15:56:27

    I want to make it clear that I consider GLBT in general a different issue than EC type material, and when I was referring to “who you are inviting in the door” I was specifically referring to EC and similar.

    Oh. Wow. Speechless. Well, almost.

    Please clarify.

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  87. Janet Miller/Cricket Starr
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:03:29

    Oh and for what is it worth. I feel that the cover models are industry professionals and I treat them with respect, the way I expect them to treat me. So far that has worked out pretty well in that I have never had a problem with any of them. Several of the Cavemen were helping us set up for the Fairy ball and they were perfect gentlemen. That included Rodney, who everyone likes, and John, who won the Convention Choice and the RT cover model “Mr. Congeniality” awards in the cover model competition. It is nice to have the men at the convention to act as escorts, whether or not they are “eye-candy”.

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  88. Jane
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:14:01

    For all those who say that they want first hand reports, why don’t you read the links? Those are first hand reports including that of the author, Trista, who said that the guy simulating the sex act was a whole 12 inches off the body of the female and that he only put her hand on his chest and his waistband. Or the flogging that took place in the bar by groups of the Cavemen and women reported by Lori Foster. Or the smells and sounds of sex on the elevator, etc. etc. Why is it that these encounters are discounted as unreliable?

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  89. Ann Bruce
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:19:59

    Sorry, let me clarify. I want first-hand reports of these unsuspecting gropings. From what’s been regurgitated, it sounds like EC Cavemen are going around and sexually harassing women. If two consenting adults are having a little too much fun but not breaking any laws, I don’t care.

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  90. Robin
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:23:40

    Bernita said:

    One thing that strikes me as interesting about this discussion and controversy is an apparent conflation in some quarters of fantasy and reality, ie. approval of erotica demands that one live the dream, if only for a short time and if only with erzatz immitations of it.

    This, I think, is the crux of it all. Erotic Romance does not automatically entail male strippers any more than Romance with no sex signifies reader or author prudery.

    There seem to be several things going on at once. First there is the question of what the RT conference was, is, and is becoming. There seem to be some pretty overt indications that Erotic Romance is now dominating, and that more specifically, EC is dominating. Then there is the issue of EC’s presence and promotion at RT and how it represents the Romance part of the Erotic Romance phrase. And beyond that, there is the whole groping and PDA/simulated sex issue and it’s relation to Romance, to RT, and to EC.

    That there’s so much back and forth about whether the conference was over the top just goes to show how big of an issue this really is, for people on both sides of the divide. IMO RT should be fully in charge of its event, and if they are letting ANY publisher take the wheel, that’s a problem, whether it be an Inspy house of an ER house. If RT is not listening to complaints that people had, if they do not appear open to hearing them, if they do not appear to be responsive, they will be perceived as in bed and under the covers with EC, as it’s EC who is clearly seen to dominate the conference, both in theme and promotional presence. That, IMO, is RT’s responsibility to change or endorse. EC doesn’t represent the whole of Romance, nor the whole of Erotic Romance, so if they have the lion’s share of presence at RT, then perhaps RT should change the name of the conference so that there is no mistake about what the conference is and isn’t.

    As to the whole issue of fantasy v. reality, this is where I really struggle. I keep asking myself whether Cavemen/strippers/dancers/cover models with oiled pecs and generous hands are really the “fantasy” the Romance genre and industry is selling. Is it? I see the fantasy of Romance — be it erotic, historical, paranormal, etc. — as sex positive, woman positive, man positive, love positive, and relationship positive. I see it as about healing and redemption and love and, yes, sex. Definitely about sex, and often about sexual healing of some sort, and certainly about acceptance of sex as healthy and normal and good. So is that the fantasy that’s being peddled at RT via EC? Is it woman positive? Is it about women and men freely expressing themselves sexually, or is there something exploitive about the whole set up, whether it’s in the objectification of the guys or the fact that it’s part of their “business” to flatter and be nice to and flirt with the women? That’s where a lot of my own personal battles are being waged, because part of me feels that the whole Caveman thing, especially, is a little degrading to women in a Romance conference context (not morally, but in terms of respect, I guess), and part of me feels that it’s supposed to be a party, and objectification is part of the industry promotion, and consenting adults, etc. Actually, now that I think about it, I can live with feeling both those things. But in any case, I definitely agree that we need to get away from the idea that reading and celebrating Romance requires/is characterized by a certain type of real life behavior at a purported Romance conference.

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  91. Lynne Connolly
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:25:06

    Or the flogging that took place in the bar by groups of the Cavemen and women reported by Lori Foster.

    How’s this for eyewitness.
    I was in the lobby (not the bar, though I understand it continued there afterwards, when I left to complain) for the flogging incident.
    No Cavemen involved. Three people, (two men, one woman) showing off their “equipment” and talking very loudly about it. Not dressed up, they just carried the stuff.
    Since I was in the bar in ordinary clothes, not wearing my badge, I could have been anybody. I was there to use the Internet, since the reception in my room was a bit shaky.
    They were attendees, not connected at all with any of the officials there as far as I know, and definitely not Cavemen. I found it objectionable, so I went and found one of the organisers and complained. Later, the officials told me they had dealt with it, and the incident wasn’t repeated. I don’t know what they did, but I was glad it was done.

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  92. Tawny
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:28:45

    Jane,

    I can’t say whether it’s your interpretation of Lori’s post or Lori’s recounting, but the statement below isn’t true. I was in the bar and witnessed the flogging. I was within arm’s reach of the individuals involved, and that incident did not include “groups of Cavemen”, nor did the Cavemen initiate that activity. One caveman did take the flogger from an individual, at invitation, and used it once on a willing female volunteer, but the flogger was promptly claimed by another individual (also a female–someone I don’t know personally) who then selected a young man with Down’s syndrome and proceeded to flog him until someone else became angry and stopped the whole thing.

    Or the flogging that took place in the bar by groups of the Cavemen and women reported by Lori Foster

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  93. Shiloh Walker
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:29:18

    And as far as what happened at Romantic Times, this reader believes (and just my opinion, and I realize many will disagree) that those of you who have pushed and pushed to expand the definition of what is considered within the romance genre apparently didn't look very carefully at who/what you were inviting into your house, because many of the new residents and their guests are going to condone and endorse this sort of behavior.

    Eh, I’m not going to try and keep up with all of this, but I do feel the need to add my two cents here.

    Going to respectfully disagree here.

    I write erotic romance and more mainstream romance. What I write about has nothing to do with what I consider professional or courteous behavior.

    I’ve said it a million times that image matters. It doesn’t matter what you write, how you conduct yourself counts.

    There are plenty of non-erotic romance writers, plenty of writers period, who have made asses of themselves, stuck their foot in their mouth, or other things that reflect badly on the writing industry.

    Genre has nothing to do with it-a person’s understanding of responsible, professional behavior has everything to do with it.

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  94. Jolie du Pre
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:32:34

    “For all those who say that they want first hand reports, why don't you read the links? Those are first hand reports including that of the author, Trista, who said that the guy simulating the sex act was a whole 12 inches off the body of the female and that he only put her hand on his chest and his waistband. Or the flogging that took place in the bar by groups of the Cavemen and women reported by Lori Foster. Or the smells and sounds of sex on the elevator, etc. etc. Why is it that these encounters are discounted as unreliable?”

    Sex on elevators? Wow! RT is rockin’. LOL

    Anyone who knows me knows I’m no prude and that I love sex, but I think there may be too much alcohol at some of these events. What do you think? LOL

    We work very hard as writers and we want to let loose, so I understand it all. I’m going to Saints and Sinners this weekend and I plan on having a drink or two. But I’ll be sitting down with a fellow author talking about the industry or something while I’m having that drink. I’ll leave the sex for when sex is appropriate. LOL

    Jolie

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  95. Robin
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:33:49

    Lynne and Tawny, both of the descriptions you offer don’t, IMO, make the event look better — quite the opposite, in fact. To me, they just bolster the argument here by Jane and by others elsewhere that the whole tone being set at RT is not one of respect and does not represent the kind of fun that should be had in the public spaces of a major hotel.

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  96. Jane
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:37:06

    The fact that you find people carrying around this equipment and are willing to whip it out to give demonstrations at a romance book conference is the point that I am trying to make. It oversexualizes romance. If you are having a sexuality conference or a sex toy conference or a find your inner woman conference or what not, then carrying around floggers and giving demonstrations would be perfectly appropriate, but at a writer/reader conference to celebrate the Romance genre?

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  97. Ann Bruce
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:37:39

    Thanks, Lynne. I just got tired of the whole if-a-model-is-misbehaving-he-must-be-a-Caveman assumption.

    Now, if someone can clear up the professional association of the cover model arrested. Most people jumped to the conclusion that he’s a Caveman (because, hey, he’s behaving badly so he must be associated with EC), but I’ve heard that isn’t true.

    Can someone confirm or deny?

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  98. ilona andrews
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:42:11

    One caveman did take the flogger from an individual, at invitation, and used it once on a willing female volunteer, but the flogger was promptly claimed by another individual (also a female-someone I don't know personally) who then selected a young man with Down's syndrome and proceeded to flog him until someone else became angry and stopped the whole thing.

    So wait a minute. Somebody at RT was flogging a person with Down Syndrome?

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  99. Shiloh Walker
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:42:23

    Sorry, let me clarify. I want first-hand reports of these unsuspecting gropings. From what's been regurgitated, it sounds like EC Cavemen are going around and sexually harassing women. If two consenting adults are having a little too much fun but not breaking any laws, I don't care.

    Ann, I can give you one. One of the models, it was a model-not one of the Cavemen, decided he could go sliding his hand down my back as I passed out the door. Might not sound offensive to some, however it was a touch that was far too intimate for a stranger to be doing. I was less than a second from shoving my elbow down somebody’s throat and then I made myself stop, thinking it might be one of my weirdo friends who know that I have serious preferences over my personal space- I would have felt so bad if I’d put a friend on the floor.

    By the time I turned and saw it was somebody else, I’d already stopped- *g*sadly, lost my momentum and with a decent strike, momentum counts. I seriously wish though that I hadn’t stopped.

    So I can tell you for a fact at least one person felt it was okay to go around intruding on other people’s personal space and touching them without invitation or provocation.

    I haven’t discussed this much online just because frankly, I’m tired of the headache. Ive made my complaint to the appropriate channel. I’ve kept my discussion of it limited-being completely honest here, these sort of issues become such a time-eater, I can’t keep up with the drama, my deadlines, my life. Since I have to take care of my personal responsibilities, and I have to take care of my deadlines, the drama is what I don’t spend so much time on. Plus, too many of these discussions turn into a pointing finger contest or an us/them or them/us issue and it not anything but a romance lover’s issue, IMO.

    However, I’ve seen a number of people stating they are hearing *rumors* but not first hand accounts.

    So there’s my account.

    Personally, several others have confided their own accounts so I know this wasn’t an isolated incident. However, they told me in confidence and I won’t break it to relay more accounts.

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  100. Shiloh Walker
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:44:30

    (also a female-someone I don't know personally) who then selected a young man with Down's syndrome and proceeded to flog him until someone else became angry and stopped the whole thing.

    Then I say good for the angry person! Not too many things will set me off, but if I’d seen that, then I would have been exploding.

    Not only is that inappropriate for ANY arena, it’s cruel.

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  101. Janet Miller/Cricket Starr
    May 06, 2008 @ 16:58:25

    Hi Shiloh,

    Thanks for sharing and for confirming that it was someone other than one of the EC cover models who touched you. I know I would have been as upset as you were if it had been me.

    Oh, and anyone looking for confirmation on who was actually arrested, go to the Smart Bitches website. Sarah reported on all of that and she got the word from the RT staff. It was a man in the Mr. Romance competition, again, not one of the Cavemen, a man with apparently serious mental problems.

    There have been a number of unpleasant comments made about what happened at the convention this year and laying the blame on ECPI. Now I know someone who used to go to the RT convention back in the 90′s. When I first talked of going to the convention she told me about women trying to press room keys into the hands of the cover models. She said that some of the younger cover models would bring their mothers with them to run interference from aggressive women.

    This is before EC even existed, before the Cavemen were part of the convention, before erotic romance was even a presence in the industry. The RT convention has always attracted a few “types”. Even if ECPI pulled out altogether, those folks would still go and there would still be incidents.

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  102. Nora Roberts
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:01:33

    ~Three people, (two men, one woman) showing off their “equipment” and talking very loudly about it. Not dressed up, they just carried the stuff.~

    That this could and would happen, that anyone felt it was appropriate or all in fun–and those involved must have–says volumes to me about the tone.

    As does this:

    ~One of the models, it was a model-not one of the Cavemen, decided he could go sliding his hand down my back as I passed out the door.~

    I don’t take some of the justifications I’ve heard–men and women mixing at a con, alcohol involved, erotic romance–as viable on any level.

    This is just wrong.

    Simulated sex, in public–regardless of the ’12″ apart”–at a romance con is just wrong.

    As for the camera incident. Using someone’s camera to take armpit shots so they appeared to be genital parts? What are we, twelve?

    That’s my opinion, and I don’t apologize for it.

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  103. Lynne Connolly
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:01:43

    The people using the floggers were not connected with the organisers or the ‘official’ attendees. They paid their money and got tickets. So what do you suggest – that every attendee be asked if they plan on behaving badly, bringing their own equipment?
    It happened on one night and was swiftly dealt with. I didn’t see the attendees in question after that so maybe they were asked to leave, or maybe they were asked to keep their stuff for a more appropriate place.
    They might turn up at Nationals next.

    Now, if someone can clear up the professional association of the cover model arrested. Most people jumped to the conclusion that he's a Caveman (because, hey, he's behaving badly so he must be associated with EC), but I've heard that isn't true.

    Can someone confirm or deny?

    No, not a Caveman. He was a Mr. Romance contestant called Jesse Payne. He shared a room with Chris Winters, who eventually won the title, but the men were put in with each other, they didn’t know each other beforehand.
    At the Wild and Wacky party, there was a Tell the Truth session, where he confessed that he’d once been an inmate at a mental institution. So what, most people said. A lot of people go through that.
    But his behavior became erratic towards the end of the week and the competition. He didn’t win. When he got back to the room, he attacked poor Chris. So they sent for the men in white coats. By the time he was wheeled out on the gurney, he was smiling and waving to everyone.
    Here’s his myspace page.
    http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=81896196

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  104. Shiloh Walker
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:04:24

    Thanks for sharing and for confirming that it was someone other than one of the EC cover models who touched you. I know I would have been as upset as you were if it had been me.

    Janet, I just want to make clear that I’m not doing this in defense or support of any group/organization/astrological sign, etc.

    I’m pretty much about as non-partisan in this thing as a person can get.

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  105. Ann Bruce
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:09:00

    Thanks, Shiloh. Had it been me, I wouldn’t have checked my elbow. I REALLY don’t like people invading my personal space.

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  106. Shiloh Walker
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:13:39

    Thanks, Shiloh. Had it been me, I wouldn't have checked my elbow. I REALLY don't like people invading my personal space

    I don’t either. But considering the fact that I learned my elbow via several years of Taekwondo, off and on for 12 years now, I don’t think just a friend being goofy would really deserve it, and in all honesty, that’s exactly what I thought it was.

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  107. (Jān)
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:18:38

    but the flogger was promptly claimed by another individual (also a female-someone I don't know personally) who then selected a young man with Down's syndrome and proceeded to flog him until someone else became angry and stopped the whole thing.

    That loud crash was the sound of my jaw dropping. I’m glad to hear that people stepped in and stopped it. But I’m dismayed that convention attendees would even do that to begin with.

    Clearly EC has chosen to market itself to people to whom this kind of behavior is acceptable. I think Jane is correct in questioning whether or not that marketing strategy, because of the type of behavior it encourages, is causing a problem for the rest of the convention goers.

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  108. Tawny
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:21:02

    I totally agree, Robin.

    Wrong time. Wrong place. Wrong choice.

    Some things have not been talked about much in blogland–like this incident. But I can’t point any fingers at a specific publisher, or group of people, or even RT and say this was their fault.

    It happened in the hotel lobby, was not an RT sponsored event. I don’t see how RT, or any of the official RT workshops/parties/mixers encouraged this kind of behavior. I didn’t attend any events that included live demonstrations of flogging techniques. And after attending the EC party, I wasn’t inspired to pull out any whips and perform for onlookers.

    Quite the opposite, when I’m at a convention, I watch my actions carefully, knowing there are onlookers everywhere, armed with cameras and ready to capture my image if I act like a fool.

    Should this have happened? Absolutely not. But I can’t hold anyone accountable except the people involved. It was the unfortunate result of some individuals making terrible choices.

    Lynne and Tawny, both of the descriptions you offer don't, IMO, make the event look better -’ quite the opposite, in fact. To me, they just bolster the argument here by Jane and by others elsewhere that the whole tone being set at RT is not one of respect and does not represent the kind of fun that should be had in the public spaces of a major hotel.

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  109. Nora Roberts
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:21:05

    ~They might turn up at Nationals next.~

    Of course anything is possible. But I don’t believe the overall tone of Nationals lends itself to this.

    RT is a different kettle entirely, and certainly it’s good that the matter was quickly dealt with. I’m afraid it’s my opinion that the tone of the con opens the door for this kind of behavior.

    You are unlikely to see flogging demos at the bar at Nationals, or simulated sex acts in public. You’re also unlikely to see men in constumes dancing for a crowd of women, or competing for a title, or having to decide how to handle it when women get too familiar with them. Or women having to decide how to handle it when men get too familiar with them.

    They’re different animals entirely.

    I certainly don’t think the officials can or should vet very attendee, but when it’s all in fun to have chocolate dildo and condom sucker give-aways, and some attendees claim there wasn’t enough flesh on display, it’s my opinion you’ve opened the door to inappropriate public behavior.

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  110. veinglory
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:23:22

    I, personally, think this post serious confuses two issues. One the assumption that somewthing can be romance or porn, but not both. The other is that what people write has anything to do with how they behave. EPIC is about 50% erotic romance by volume and none of this salacious stuff goes on–people go up and accept their erotic awards looking pretty much like the granny next door–there is a party, people dance, the models are polite and fully dressed. I write romance porn, but I am not an exhibitionist, strip club patron or sexual harrasser. My fantasy fiction is fiction, it is a thing I write, not do. I don’t think having crime novels at a convention means I should expect to be mugged. So why should having pornographic subgenres have anything to do with my chances of being groped?

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  111. Janet Miller/Cricket Starr
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:31:40

    I probably do come off as partisan. And it is true that being an ECPI as well as NCP author, it does bother me when folks start throwing around accusations that all someone like me does is write smut and that means I don’t know how to be a professional.

    Yes, I write erotic romance and sometimes I write non-erotic romance. Depends on the story as to where the sexuality level takes me. I have a stack of writing awards that says my stuff is romance in the eyes of several RWA chapters and RT has given a couple of my books Top Picks and nominees for their reviewers choice award. So saying that because I write a kind of romance that some people object to means I’m scum and shouldn’t be allowed to go to a romance convention kind of upsets me.

    I also know that the vast majority of authors at my publishing houses behave themselves at the convention. We don’t have to act out our fantasies, we write them down for others to enjoy.

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  112. Shiloh Walker
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:32:26

    I don't either. But considering the fact that I learned my elbow via several years of Taekwondo, off and on for 12 years now, I don't think just a friend being goofy would really deserve it, and in all honesty, that's exactly what I thought it was.

    Guh, just occurred to me that this sounds very condescending-sorry, Ann.

    Basically, all I was trying to say is if I’d done what I was in the middle of doing, and it hit somebody unprepared, it’s all too likely I could have caused damage.

    Some guy copping a feel? Deserves it.

    But one of my weird friends who just likes to jerk my chain? Nah. And for some odd reason, I have a lot of those friends. ;)

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  113. Ann Bruce
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:35:53

    Guh, just occurred to me that this sounds very condescending-sorry, Ann.

    No worries. I have a few years of hapkido under my belt and understood where you were coming from.

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  114. Shiloh Walker
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:37:43

    So saying that because I write a kind of romance that some people object to means I'm scum and shouldn't be allowed to go to a romance convention kind of upsets me.

    Understandably so, Janet.

    What a person writes doesn’t really define that person. Who that person is, how they conduct themselves should do that.

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  115. Robin
    May 06, 2008 @ 17:52:25

    It happened in the hotel lobby, was not an RT sponsored event.

    As Nora Roberts said, it’s about tone, and that isn’t an issue of “fault” or of whether or not it was only the Cavemen who acted out. It’s an issue of how people attending the con felt empowered to act based on the overall ethos of the event, something that is often communicated most powerfully on non-verbal levels.

    Julie Leto said something interesting a while ago that I thought was interesting:

    it seems to me that the people who love the oiled male bodies and simulated sex acts and chocolate shaped penises don't really go to the conference to meet authors and talk about books-well, they do, but that's not their only reason-they go to attend a three-day bachelorette party on the premise (er, excuse?) that they are going to a romance writer's convention.

    None of this makes EC or RT “bad,” it just reflects the shift that people have noticed in RT over the past few years, a shift toward a more sexually saturated party environment that some people love and some people don’t. But whether it’s good or bad or to one person’s taste or not isn’t really the issue — the issue, IMO, is whether that atmosphere is generally representative of Romance fiction. IMO it’s not. Or at the very least, the Romance genre orientation is becoming secondary rather than primary. As Emily Veinglory said on Karen Scott’s blog, “The genre is the words printed on the page and the covers printed on posters-not a performance art.”

    As to getting more first hand accounts online, with what happened to JC Wilder in the wake of her blog post, I’m not at all surprised more people aren’t coming forward to detail specific incidents. I would imagine that not only are people afraid of backlash, but I’m thinking they may not want to tell what happened to them because they want to protect RT or EC or the conference as a whole.

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  116. bam
    May 06, 2008 @ 18:22:25

    SERENITY NOW!

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  117. Anon76
    May 06, 2008 @ 18:38:14

    As I said on Karen’s blog; The situations are escalating. Tawny’s own account of the flogging incident which then spilled over to a young man with Down’s syndrome is a perfect case in point…though I know she didn’t mean it to be.

    Each year the “acceptable behaviour” line is getting pushed. And I in no way blame it on the contents of the books, rather, I blame it on the escalating free-for-all that RT has become. A few “oily chests” has progressed to simulated sex, loud foul language, and groping (be it either by male or females in attendance.)

    I think I’m going to go over and see just how many authors who signed this year (besides the EC faction) write strictly the hot stuff. I’m not in any way knocking the hot (I wish I could write it well), but it would be interesting to see the proportions.

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  118. Ann Bruce
    May 06, 2008 @ 18:40:45

    None of this makes EC or RT “bad,”

    Robin, unfortunately, not everyone is you.

    In some people’s minds, EC is a smut peddler (yes, an RT attendee used this exact phrase in an e-mail to me) that has dragged RT down into the gutter because (1) it hires models who have no self-control and sexually harass women and (2) attracts an undesirable readership and encourages this readership to behave like it’s spring break in Fort Lauderdale. RT is ruined and it’s all because of EC.

    To put it mildly, that kind of thinking bothers me.

    I’m going to listen to Bam and withdraw from this discussion because I feel like I’m going in circles.

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  119. Kim
    May 06, 2008 @ 18:48:46

    Ann, I was groped. A few years back I attended my first RT. My roomate kept wanting to get my picture with a cover model, and I didn’t want to. Nothing against them, but the cover models just aren’t my thing. So at one of the evening events, she appears before me with one of these guys and said she wanted my picture with him. Not wanting to be a bad sport, I said okay, and stood up from the table. I said hi to him, and introduced myself. You know, polite things that people do when they meet someone they don’t know. So we stand side by side, with his arm around my shoulders — and then as soon as she takes the picture, he split-second grabs me by the waist, and drags me in front of him, saying, “Or how about a shot like this?” He very roughly shoved me, face down, onto the table we were standing beside, one hand planted against the middle of my stomach, pulling my butt against him (yes, against his penis), and the other grasped around back of my neck. You know, like we were having sex. And again, all this happened very roughly, and in a matter of seconds. Just as quickly, he released me, laughed, and backed off and told us to have a great rest of the night. I pushed myself up off the table, too stunned to do anything but stand there. Everyone was staring. My face was burning and I was shaking. I felt sick, and furious and humiliated, and needless to say, my night was over. I’d never been touched by a man with such disrespect or outright aggression before, and never have again. This guy, I believe, was a cover model contestant, but after the conference I saw him on numerous erotica covers online. Yes, I should have reported what happened to me to someone, but half the people around us cheered, which only made it worse for me. I got the feeling that if I didn’t want to “party”, then I shouldn’t have come. In the end, I just wanted to go home, and forget the night had ever happened. So have I gone to RT again? Once, because my out-of-state crit partners were attending, and it was a half hour from where I lived. I attended only the day events, panels, etc. So that’s my groping story. I’m only including “Kim” as my name, but I’m happy to verify my identity to Jane if needed.

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  120. Gennita Low
    May 06, 2008 @ 18:55:34

    Hey Jaci,

    Can’t wait to see you at RT next year! I live by the beach ;-), so we can go riding around my place if you and your dh like.

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  121. Kim
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:02:47

    I want to say something that I didn’t say in my earlier post. I’m not saying RT wanted this guy to manhandle me. I’m not calling RT the Devil. But I did feel that in my situation, things were out of control, if only for a few seconds, and unfortunately it tainted my ideas about RT.

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  122. Kim
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:04:47

    Hmmm, sorry guys. Somehow my “earlier” post did not show up. I’ll give it some time to see if it does, before I repost.

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  123. Jane
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:07:31

    Let me turn it around. What if an inspirational publisher was the predominant publisher hosting events at RT? What if people went around handing out religious pamphlets and in the elevator people tried to testify to you about coming to Christ?

    What if Bethany House hosted a prayer party where everyone who came was provided with the opportunity to be photographed next to the 700 Club emblem and were treated with revival preacher and speaking in tongues and the laying on of hands? What if, in the middle of a restaurant, three people began to stand up and preach the gospel, read scripture verses? What if there was a re-enactment of the death of Christ and the resurrection and religious motifs dominated author alley?

    It’s the extreme – the elevation of one element of the romance genre above other elements.

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  124. Shiloh Walker
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:11:33

    What if Bethany House hosted a prayer party where everyone who came was provided with the opportunity to be photographed next to the 700 Club emblem and were treated with revival preacher and speaking in tongues and the laying on of hands? What if, in the middle of a restaurant, three people began to stand up and preach the gospel, read scripture verses? What if there was a re-enactment of the death of Christ and the resurrection and religious motifs dominated author alley?

    I can guarantee you that many, many, many people would go ballistic, Jane. I’m certain enough that I’d bet next month’s royalty check on it-and that’s my vacation money. ;)

    That’s how certain I am.

    Sex and religion, these are two things that will cause extreme reactions in many, many, many…many people.

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  125. Robin
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:16:55

    Hmmm, sorry guys. Somehow my “earlier” post did not show up. I'll give it some time to see if it does, before I repost.

    Kim, I pulled your post out of the spam folder. I hope everyone reads it, especially those who think everything was in good fun. What happened to you went so far beyond that, and I can’t believe you are the only one who has a story like that to tell. Thank you for having the courage to post.

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  126. Shiloh Walker
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:20:45

    Everyone was staring. My face was burning and I was shaking. I felt sick, and furious and humiliated, and needless to say, my night was over. I'd never been touched by a man with such disrespect or outright aggression before, and never have again. This guy, I believe, was a cover model contestant, but after the conference I saw him on numerous erotica covers online. Yes, I should have reported what happened to me to someone, but half the people around us cheered, which only made it worse for me. I got the feeling that if I didn't want to “party”, then I shouldn't have come.

    Kim, this is just plain sickening. Beyond sickening and so far beyond wrong, I can’t even get my mind around the fact that anybody could assume something like this happening is ‘okay’ or to be ‘expected’.

    I am so sorry something like that happened to you.

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  127. Janet Miller/Cricket Starr
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:25:33

    Ann, I was groped. A few years back I attended my first RT.

    Kim, that was reprehensible and I’m appalled that it happened. Which year was this?

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  128. Ann Bruce
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:26:46

    Ugh! Kim’s making a liar of me because I have to make a final comment.

    You’re right, you should’ve reported it. That guy deserved Shiloh’s elbow or worse. And I have no words for the people who cheered.

    But I have to know, what year did this take place? Just asking because the assumption is bad behavior started with the participation of EC, even though some people have contradicted that.

    And feel free to tell me to go to hell if I’m coming across as insensitive.

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  129. Robin
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:28:39

    I can't even get my mind around the fact that anybody could assume something like this happening is ‘okay' or to be ‘expected'.

    And yet,

    half the people around us cheered

    My first thought reading that description was of the bar scene from The Accused. It’s the collusion of the spectators that’s almost as horrifying as the assault itself (and yeah, this reads much more like an assault than anything else).

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  130. Jaci Burton
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:30:30

    Kim, that’s awful. You should have filed assault charges or at the very least reported his behavior. I’m so sorry you had to go through that.

    Shiloh, I can’t believe that happened to you either. You used amazing restraint. Too bad you didn’t know who it was behind you.

    No man should ever lay hands on a woman he doesn’t know without her permission.

    That’s unnacceptable, no matter where you are.

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  131. Jaci Burton
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:31:01

    Gennita, you’re on.

    Julie, I’ll email you too.

    :-)

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  132. Shiloh Walker
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:37:58

    Shiloh, I can't believe that happened to you either. You used amazing restraint. Too bad you didn't know who it was behind you.

    Shoot, what happened to me is nothing compared to what happened to Kim. I was just irritated as hell. Had I been treated to something like what happened to her, I’m not sure an army could have pulled me away until the fool was either a carcass or screaming for me to please return his penis.

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  133. Shiloh Walker
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:40:21

    No man should ever lay hands on a woman he doesn't know without her permission.

    Oh, absolutely, but I’d have say that goes across the board. I know at least one guy, a nice, decent guy, had a woman shove her hand down his pants.

    How completely wrong is that?

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  134. Shiloh Walker
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:40:56

    And sigh…. my other comment got eaten. This blog is hungry tonight.

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  135. Robin
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:45:14

    And sigh…. my other comment got eaten. This blog is hungry tonight.

    I think it’s the “P” word that lands the comments in the spam folder. I had to fish one of my own comments out of there today, too. Anyway, yours should be posted now, as well.

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  136. JulieLeto
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:46:45

    I in now way blame the EC authors or their books for the tone of RT. However, I do throw some blame the way of RT and EC (the publisher) because of the events/promotions they have sponsored which, in my opinion, have taken the sex out of the romance and put it on display in all its gaudy glory.

    But look, EC didn’t do this on their own. They did it with RT’s seal of approval (cha-ching) and to the obvious delight of a lot of people. All I’m saying is that I and quite a few others are not delighted and therefore, are likely better served by not attending so long as the bar of classiness continues to be lowered.

    In the end, this free-for-all, sex-on-the-brain attitude is bad for all of us, though, because it perpetuates the very stereotype (romances are all about sex) that we all know to be untrue.

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  137. Shiloh Walker
    May 06, 2008 @ 19:49:06

    I think it's the “P” word that lands the comments in the spam folder. I had to fish one of my own out of there today, too. Anyway, yours should be posted now, as well.

    LOL. Okay, that makes sense. I knew I should have used pathetic, mangled mess of former manhood.

    Thanks, Robin!

    edited to fix my italics :|

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  138. Kim
    May 06, 2008 @ 20:38:52

    Ann, this took place a good eight years ago — at the Houston 2000 conference. So yes, a good chunk of time has passed. But I wanted to share my experience given the topic of conversation. I was very new to the romance industry at the time, and I think EC was just starting to be a presence. I don’t think the situation had anything to do with EC. I do think it had to do with the wrong individual being invited to participate — someone who assumed that because I was at RT, and because I was a female, I wanted to get physical with a cover model.

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  139. Kathleen MacIver
    May 06, 2008 @ 20:57:18

    Robin said this better here, than I did:

    IMO RT should be fully in charge of its event, and if they are letting ANY publisher take the wheel, that's a problem, whether it be an Inspy house of an ER house.

    This is exactly what I feel. As Jane said:

    Let me turn it around. What if an inspirational publisher was the predominant publisher hosting events at RT? What if people went around handing out religious pamphlets and in the elevator people tried to testify to you about coming to Christ?

    I’m more likely to end up writing for an Inspy publisher than an ER house, yet I don’t think this scenario would be right either. It simply wouldn’t be an accurate representation of what the romance genre is. I believe that RT should, as long as they claim to represent the entire romance genre, work to make sure that their public image reflects the entire romance genre. It’s not necessarily about whether those that go can or can’t avoid behavior they’re not comfortable with (although they SHOULD be able to more easily than they apparently can)… it’s about how the public – including the vast majority who WEREN’T there – perceives the conference. That’s how many of them are going to think of the romance genre as a whole.

    If RT wants to continue to swing farther to the Erotica side of things, they are certainly free to do so. I would simply ask that they then only claim to represent Erotica. I suspect that if they chose to swing to the Inspy side of romance, that EC authors would make a similar request.

    PS. (I don’t write Inspy.)

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  140. I. Daco
    May 06, 2008 @ 21:19:33

    Great site..just started reading and I totally agree with you that romance is being totally misunderstood.

    For example, I caught my brother the other “reading” my books (meaning skimming) and I asked him why the sudden interest. He says one phrase, “Where’s the sex?”. Lordy, did I almost blow a vein. I could probably excuse him since at times being a man affords you a few brain cells less than us women (especially at his age) BUT I get flak from practically everyone around me. I could read a Nora Roberts book (who’s front covers are tasteful btw) and be sneered at–like I’m some sex-crazed weirdo. I think this is the result of oversexualizing the covers and even the titles of some books! But to hear the RT condones this behavior? I love this genre, its all I read but this kind of promotion just shades us in ways that would only hurt us.

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  141. Ann Somerville
    May 06, 2008 @ 21:22:20

    I write romance porn

    You know, this is a contradiction in terms.

    I joke with people in my circle that I write ‘gay porn’ but I would never seriously describe what I write as pornography (as I always say, if I wrote porn, I’d make more money out of it!) I write love stories about gay, lesbian and bisexual people, focusing on plot and relationships, which may or may not include some explicit sexual content in the context of their relationships, which almost always end in a Hopefully for Now or Happy Ever After. That to me is romantic writing.

    I don’t want people to read my stuff with one hand down their pants, thank you. Just because the focus is on GLBT characters, doesn’t make it ‘homo porn’ – and if it’s romance, it’s not porn, simple as that. Porn isn’t romantic. Porn isn’t about the people.

    To me, EC has a public image which is so close to being pornography, the difference is unimportant. I could never write for them. I don’t want to be associated with that image in the least.

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  142. JulieLeto
    May 06, 2008 @ 21:34:31

    Kim, I just wanted to say that I am outraged on your behalf. I doubly outraged that none of your so-called friends or people who were there were outraged. Cheered? Good God. And this was eight years ago. Clearly, things haven’t gotten better.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I only wish I’d been there to lay the guy flat while you recovered from shock.

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  143. Robin
    May 06, 2008 @ 21:35:54

    and if it's romance, it's not porn

    Yes, I believe this, as well. And I’m not trying to create a hierarchy of value here, just a formalistic distinction. Romance has the element of love, of a happy ending for the couple, and of an emotional bond. Pornography is about physical stimulation above all else, often with no emotional connection or relationship whatsoever. That doesn’t mean Romance cannot contain very explicit, very graphic, very extensive sex; it just means that Romance is different in its aim and its structure.

    And this was eight years ago. Clearly, things haven't gotten better.

    Between Kim’s story and the anecdote on Karen Scott’s blog about the cover model overheard talking during one conference in graphic detail about how he tortured a neighbor’s cat (the details of that one will haunt me forever), I can only imagine what else has gone on, and on how much things have escalated such that people finally started speaking up.

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  144. Janet Miller/Cricket Starr
    May 06, 2008 @ 21:43:29

    I will point out one thing about the cover models. The men in the Mr. Romance competition are there on their own dime. They pay for their costumes, pay their way to the convention, and enter the contest in the hope of winning a modeling contract.

    The men of Ellora’s Cave are there as representatives of the company. If there is a problem with any of them people should bring it to the attention of ECPI who will deal with it. They don’t want the guys doing anything to cause ill will.

    My understanding about the simulated sex scene was that it was an impromptu performance by a Caveman who should have known better and probably now does. No further incidents happened with the guys and there was a reason for that.

    I suspect next year things will be a lot less… well, less for various reasons. For one thing ECPI covers Cerridwen and Lotus Circle books, neither of which are erotic content. This includes the Cotillion line of sweet Regency romances and there is apparently going to be a new line of Young Adult books. The company has already told us that we will be sensitive to those authors at the party. So forget about the sexually explicit items because I don’t think they’ll be there.

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  145. Sara Dennis
    May 06, 2008 @ 22:24:18

    Cerridwen Press and Cotillion already exist. I don’t know for sure whether any Lotus Circle books are out yet. However, if those lines didn’t stop things from happening this year, why would it in the future?

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  146. Robin
    May 06, 2008 @ 22:57:12

    They don't want the guys doing anything to cause ill will.

    I’m surprised EC hasn’t made a statement to this effect, then, because the one indirect statement they’ve made — Patty Marks’s email to the EC loop posted on Karen Scott’s blog — sounded *really* cavalier about some of the complaints posted publicly. And seriously, if I had attended the conference and seen that email, I wouldn’t at all think EC would take any complaint I may have had seriously. That may not be the real case, but it sure is a strong perception, given that both Patty Marks and RT’s Kathryn Falk (also quoted in the same email) thought everything was hunky dory.

    The sense I get, especially after the backlash against JC Wilder, is that there is a tacit pressure NOT to complain. And I think the concern that some people have is that if the stuff that Kim, for example, said was happening eight years ago, why in the heck is the conference continuing to expand that aspect? Because even people who loved this year’s conference have admitted that it’s gotten “wilder.” I think that’s one of the reasons people are looking so closely at EC, especially with the close relationship between EC/Tina Engler and Kathryn Falk (which was just bolstered by Falk’s insistence that she loved the “Chippendale action” at the conference). Whatever EC’s influence on the environment of the conference, and on the ticketed attendees who thought it was okay, for example, to flog a person with Down’s Syndrome in the hotel bar, I think there’s a growing cynicism about RT’s intention to curb anything, and certainly the comments from Marks and Falk seem to support that idea. Which, given the level of discomfort a number of people felt this year (so much that they really started talking about it publicly), casts doubt on the notion that EC and/or RT is really open to hearing about people’s negative experiences and perceptions.

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  147. Janet Miller/Cricket Starr
    May 06, 2008 @ 23:12:13

    I am not a spokesperson for ECPI. I don’t represent the company and can only answer for what I will be doing in the upcoming year. This year my giveaways were mini-costume kits featuring a dolphin or fish tattoo and a set of vampire fangs that glowed in the dark, pens with my name and website, and small foam gliders attached to a post card. Pretty tame stuff. Next year will likely be something similar. I’m involved in a number of parties at the convention which are already in the planning stages and how much wild sex we can fit into the corners of the ballrooms has not actually been a consideration.

    From what I can gather most of the more critical people here aren’t planning on going to the convention anyway so there isn’t much use in discussing this further. Perhaps after Orlando is over we can all talk about this again. In the meantime, take care.

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  148. Karen Scott
    May 07, 2008 @ 04:19:33

    From what I can gather most of the more critical people here aren’t planning on going to the convention anyway so there isn’t much use in discussing this further.

    Wow, what a an extraordinarily dismissive comment. There’s no point talking about this, because the people complaining wont be there next year?

    Nice.

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  149. Erastes
    May 07, 2008 @ 05:22:41

    While I wouldn’t have enjoyed the strippers, and the buttock clenching embarrassment of (probably gay) men being paid to pretend to have sex in public, I can’t agree about your comparison about “what would people think if…” because sheesh – men have been objectifying women as sex objects and using them in a sexual manner to sell everything from toothpaste to muscle-cars since time immemorial. I’m not saying for one moment that to do the same is therefore a good thing, I don’t think it is, but it’s still been done is still being done.

    However – I’m rather confused how you get from discussing romance vs porn to male and female rape in two paragraphs.

    Regarding covers, it’s not just the ones that have naked people on them that “hint” at the sexual act. Even books with the dot dot dot sex scenes are adorned with women with their skirts around their thighs and the hero with his pecs out. It’s been argued a billion times before, but those covers make most people laugh and spork, rather than actually enjoy them, and they hint at scenes in the book which may not be there, so they are selling an image, not of romance, but of sex.

    Romance is not necessarily porn. But erotica can be and is, in a lot of cases. Romance is not heterosexual monogamous marriage, either, by the way.

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  150. Nora Roberts
    May 07, 2008 @ 05:56:31

    Kim, what an awful, and scary, experience. And all the worse as people cheered.

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  151. Ann Somerville
    May 07, 2008 @ 06:37:28

    Romance is not necessarily porn

    This is a nonsense. Romance is not ever porn. If it’s heavy on the sex, then it’s erotic romance. But actual porn is the antithesis of romance. A story can be sexy, and not be porn. Romance can include sex, and not be porn, but if it really is porn, it can’t be romance.

    This is what really irritates me about the whole EC thing, the oiled chests, lollipop condoms and so on. It’s reducing relationships to who screws who and how often, as if that’s all a ‘romance’ is about. A story can be deeply romantic and not include so much as a kiss. I really resent this idea that romance has to be about, or include smut. To me, a good romance is about the delicate process of two people coming together, overcoming difficulties, personalities and circumstance, to form a hopefully enduring bond. Yes, one assumes they’ll be sexually compatible, but you don’t need to show the couple screwing like bunnies to make the romance realistic. And you can make a romance deeply sexy without so much as a turgid manhood or pert breast in sight.

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  152. Shiloh Walker
    May 07, 2008 @ 06:52:40

    From what I can gather most of the more critical people here aren't planning on going to the convention anyway so there isn't much use in discussing this further. Perhaps after Orlando is over we can all talk about this again. In the meantime, take care.

    Janet, that seems a rather limited way of looking at it.

    If some people feel that a change is needed, then the only way to really push for change is open, honest and objective discussion. I’ve gotta say, I’m one of them who feels this needs to be addressed.

    After what Kim posted, and the horrible, disgusting (sorry, can’t even be diplomatic here) deal where somebody felt it was ‘okay’ in any light to flog somebody with Downs and think it was all fun and games?

    I don’t hold EC responsible for either of these.

    I don’t hold any one individual responsible for it, other than the individuals who committed those acts-or those who cheered while looking on.

    However, if these are swept under the rug and not addressed, it is tacit approval.

    If a public commitment to future attendees isn’t made-regarding an intent to oversee the safety and respect of all, many people are going to view it as tacit approval and the behavior could either never change or worsen.

    Regarding the man with Down’s, I will state I never saw this. I never heard about it until recently. He could very well have been high-functioning and whomever did this could say he is capable of consent. This is possible-but unless every soul that witnessed this knows the man, knows is capable of consent in the truest meaning ( and not just to make people happy-but really and truly wants it), then it still way beyond inappropriate.

    Nearly every person with Down’s that I know is the happy-go-lucky sort who seeks approval, even if it something they’d rather not do. What was done was a slap in the face to that individual and in part, because it made him a source of amusement and chances are this individual just wanted to please.

    That’s not ‘fun and games’- that is demeaning, and it dehumanizes that individual.

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  153. Anon76
    May 07, 2008 @ 07:48:41

    “From what I can gather most of the more critical people here aren't planning on going to the convention anyway so there isn't much use in discussing this further. Perhaps after Orlando is over we can all talk about this again. In the meantime, take care.”

    Wow, Janet. Though I know you didn’t mean to, you proved the point of those “on the other side of the coin.” That the erotica/romantica authors attend the conference in full force, and if you don’t like what occurs, stay home. That all authors of the other romance subgenres should just take a hike and find their own con.

    Sigh.

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  154. Emmy
    May 07, 2008 @ 07:50:10

    Romance is not ever porn

    Hate it when people make sweeping generalizations. What is romance? Does porn have to be two strangers oofing in a one night stand? Can’t two people in a monogamous relationship who love each other deeply have hot monkey sex too? Why can’t that be romantic?

    I personally prefer to not read an explicit description of Tab A going into Slot B, but I don’t see why it couldnt be romantic too.

    Re: the whole ‘if you know what happens at the con and you don’t like it, dont come’…why not rent a suite and have the hookers and strippers perform there for the delectation of whomever might be interested rather than the common area everyone has to share? You can make it official and turn it into a workshop. Groping/Flogging/Lap Dancing 101: Ur Doin it Wrong.

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  155. Nora Roberts
    May 07, 2008 @ 07:59:28

    ~Can't two people in a monogamous relationship who love each other deeply have hot monkey sex too? Why can't that be romantic?~

    Ansolutely. Relationship would be the key word for me. Porn is about the sex. Romance is about the relationship–and can have plenty of sex, some sex, no sex, whatever. Porn HAS to have sex, and does not have to have any emotional or love-based relationship between the characters involved.

    Sex doesn’t equal porn.

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  156. Corrine
    May 07, 2008 @ 08:11:29

    My real question through all of this is why do we have to have half-naked men involved at all? They’re on the covers, in the Mr. Romance competition, and the EC men — but why? Because they attract more female readers? Well, on the opposite side of that coin, they probably repel a lot of readers too because it lessens the real message behind romance.

    I think if we just got rid of the half-naked men period the romance genre would be taken a lot more seriously and garner a lot more respect.

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  157. Emmy
    May 07, 2008 @ 08:24:25

    …why do we have to have half-naked men involved at all? They're on the covers…I think if we just got rid of the half-naked men period the romance genre would be taken a lot more seriously and garner a lot more respect.

    I agree. We should have full on nekkid men. I have yet to read a ‘romance’ book that didn’t include nekkid manflesh- either stated or inferred. Why stop at mantitty? Show the rest too, dang it.

    Seriously, what do you want on the cover? A plain piece of construction paper with the title and author?? They make those too, yanno, for peepo who wanna cover up the fact that they reading romance on the bus or train. Sex, as the cliche goes, sells. If people didnt wanna see or read about smexing, there wouldnt be this whole industry out there. The only way to get the romance industry more respect is to take the romance- and any overt/covert sexual references- out of it.

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  158. Anya Bast
    May 07, 2008 @ 08:37:51

    I’ve been to RT four times and have never seen anything like what has been described. I believe the accounts, since no one has a reason to lie. I believe they happened, I’ve just never seen it with my naked eyeballs. Maybe I’m always in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Actually, that would be right place/time). I even missed the controversial part of the Fantasy Party because I had to go back up to the room for a few minutes.

    There have been several “groping” incidents in my life, but none of them occurred at RT. Once was an old man in the produce section of my grocery store (thus proving it can happen anywhere), who just turned around and cackled at me when I stared slack-jawed at him in disbelief.

    I go to RT to meet with readers and see my writer friends, and I always have a blast. My expectations are low (mostly, I just want to socialize). I attend the workshops that catch my fancy, hang out in the bar, do Club RT and attend the nightly parties. This year I even co-hosted a very successful reader appreciation party. In short, I do it all. And STILL I saw nothing like what has been described.

    I will always dress like and act like a professional where there are readers around me, but I enjoy RT because it’s more relaxed and low key than Nationals (both cons are very different and each have merits). Mostly I like RT because there are READERS there. That’s the key to true value for me.

    Anyway, RT hasn’t lost its “innocence” for me (I do eye old men in the produce section of Kroger pretty carefully, though). I’m not sure RT ever had “innocence” in my mind. It’s always just been a big party. I’m looking forward to it next year.

    ETA: That doesn’t mean I condone the flogging of those with Down’s Syndrome, unwanted groping, or fill-in-the-blank-with-non consensual-acts-of-bad-taste. There are idiots with impulse control issues everywhere and RT is no exception.

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  159. GrowlyCub
    May 07, 2008 @ 09:20:16

    Anya,

    There are idiots with impulse control issues everywhere and RT is no exception.

    I think the point that people are trying to make is that while that’s true there are also environments and attitudes that make certain events more likely.

    It’s unlikely that something like this will happen to you again in the produce section at Kroger (the mind boggles), it’s also pretty unlikely that it will happen at RWA Nationals. It seems it’s more likely that it may happen at RT.

    All folks are asking for is that the organizers consider whether this is the direction they want RT to go into, and if so, to communicate this clearly so that all potential attendees can make up their mind about whether or not they a) want to attend and b) want to be associated with such an event through advertising in the magazine, etc.

    Personally, I would go further and would want RT to consider how much damage they are doing to the image of the genre with their laissez-faire attitude with seems to me the point of Jane’s post.

    We get enough bad press for reading and writing romance as is.

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  160. Janet Miller/Cricket Starr
    May 07, 2008 @ 12:20:56

    “From what I can gather most of the more critical people here aren't planning on going to the convention anyway so there isn't much use in discussing this further.”

    Wow, what a an extraordinarily dismissive comment. There's no point talking about this, because the people complaining wont be there next year?

    Just out of curiousity I decided to check back up on this. I am part of several groups planning stuff for the convention. One is the ECPI party as one of the authors putting together stuff for the goodie bags, and the others have no erotic orientation at all. So I might be in a good position to judge how little erotic content is being planned and why.

    So if I say I think there will be less next year, that’s what I mean. I say that and immediately two people argue with me. Perhaps my saying I don’t see the point in arguing further is dismissive but at this point I don’t foresee changing anyone’s mind. I’m sorry if that bothers anyone but when you say one thing and everyone interprets it in a way you didn’t mean or simply calls you a liar it does get frustrating. Best I should say nothing further.

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  161. Robin
    May 07, 2008 @ 13:02:20

    . . . men have been objectifying women as sex objects and using them in a sexual manner to sell everything from toothpaste to muscle-cars since time immemorial. I'm not saying for one moment that to do the same is therefore a good thing, I don't think it is, but it's still been done is still being done.

    Although I’m not a big fan of clinch covers and the like, I think there’s a difference between trying to sell a book (a commercial endeavor) and selling sex at a Romance reader and author conference. And even with a book, the reader brings it home and gets something of Romance between the covers. But what, exactly is being sold here (and I’m not talking necessarily about sexy posters and cards and book covers and the like)? The whole transactional undertone here is, I think, one of the things that concerns me the most. IMO, if RT believes that they need to sell the conference, and in this way particularly, then I think they need to do some hard thinking about what ails them that they cannot draw authors and readers united in their love of Romance fiction there without this. Already there are high profile authors like Lori Foster, who don’t go to RT or won’t be going again, and there are readers who are turned off, as well. As several people have noted, at what point will most people attending RT be doing so not for the mutual love of Romance fiction, but for something else entirely? And I don’t think this is really about erotic Romance or erotic fiction, either, because I know a number of ER readers who have no interest in this kind of conference environment, and a number of ER authors have indicated that they don’t, either. Much of what has been described is beyond Romance entirely, whether it be erotic or so-called sweet.

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  162. Anon76
    May 07, 2008 @ 13:54:10

    “I'm involved in a number of parties at the convention which are already in the planning stages and how much wild sex we can fit into the corners of the ballrooms has not actually been a consideration.”

    “So if I say I think there will be less next year, that's what I mean.”

    Fine, I understand you now, but your other post did not “state what you mean.” You are an author, and words are power. Put the ending of your one post in the middle of these two quotes, and you can see how people could be saying, “well, hummm. I never saw the link to being on committees and party boards to saying less sex next year.”

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  163. Ann Somerville
    May 07, 2008 @ 17:09:00

    Hate it when people make sweeping generalizations.

    It’s not a generalisation. It’s a fact. No one has denied romance can have very explicit sexual content. But as Robin said above:

    Romance has the element of love, of a happy ending for the couple, and of an emotional bond. Pornography is about physical stimulation above all else, often with no emotional connection or relationship whatsoever.

    In porn, the people aren’t important. What they’re doing to each other is. In porn, we don’t even learn the names. Try passing that off as romance to a romance reader. Unfortunately, there’s too much porn being labelled as romance, which confuses the issue. Labels don’t make it so, though.

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  164. Lynne
    May 07, 2008 @ 18:28:42

    I keep coming back to this report of the young man with Down Syndrome who was flogged in the bar at RT. What the fuck, people? Who would do something like that?

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  165. GrowlyCub
    May 07, 2008 @ 18:54:42

    Hi all!

    This link came through on one of my erotica lists.

    http://kdka.com/local/romance.novel.conference.2.701398

    Fairly neutral reporting and decent interview with 3 authors who attended.

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  166. GrowlyCub
    May 07, 2008 @ 18:56:08

    Darn looks like the spam filter got my message with the TV report link.

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  167. flip
    May 07, 2008 @ 19:13:22

    Aren’t we talking about two different things. When it comes to books, be it romance, erotica, or porn, the reader has control over what they want to read. Whether or not I like a certain genre or author, I should not try to control what others read. People should have the freedom to read.

    The offensive public behavior described seems to be rampant in our culture, not just the RT Conventions. I love New Orleans, but I would never want to go to New Orleans during Madri Gras. I don’t want to see public sex acts. Likewise, spring breaks have become a continuous Girls Gone Wild video. I certainly don’t want my son or daughter going to any of the Spring break hot spots. Not to mention, the incredibly tawdry reality shows broadcasting on basic cable. Is it fair to blame the romance industry for what is a cultural problem? For some reason, too many people think that it is daring and cool to engage in tawdry behavior in public.

    Whether RT is responsible for the offensive behavior, I do not know. I do know that a wise person would stop it immediately. Like I said, I avoid certain situations because I know bad behavior will prevalent. I do know authors who have stopped going to RT due to the bad behavior. I don’t think that this is prudish or uptight. I don’t care what people do in private. But when people engage in this conduct in public, they force everyone present to become unwilling participants.

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  168. Gennita Low
    May 08, 2008 @ 03:42:25

    I thought it would be interesting to add some links to blog entries by someone who was reporting from RT for the first time. This reader appeared to have gone to many of the daytime and night time events and her observations should give those who have never been to RT a fairly good idea what the convention is like. She also wasn’t in costume for the parties:

    Day One

    Day Two

    Day Three

    Day Four

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  169. Lori Foster
    May 08, 2008 @ 10:54:19

    I’m coming in late here to reply, and I really can’t stay long and talk too much. I have a deadline for the 30th of this month, and it’s been a very rough couple of months, so I’m behind.

    Anyway, I did NOT see sex in an elevator. I saw two people groping and carrying on, giving the image they wanted to have sex. Yes, the elevator was crowded and you could smell the sweat on the guy. He was definitely supposed to be a model, but whether one from RT or EC, I don’t know. I don’t know any of the models well enough to say.

    I’ve been called 3 times now by RT people – once by Jo Carol, and twice by Carol Stacy. They were extremely nice and cocerned, and they have indicated to me that they truly care what happens, and that they want to curtail inappropriate behavior. I would say that through the discussions, it became clear to me that their idea, and my idea, of inappropriate behavior differs – not that it matters because I never wrote my blog with the intent of trying to coerce RT to change in any way.
    A LOT of people love it just as it is. I do not. So I won’t attend, and as far as I’m concerned, there won’t be any hard feelings.

    However, Carol told me she had no eye-witness accounts of anything I posted, so how could she address the issues?
    If you have an eyewitness account and if it matters to you, please contact her.
    I have sent her links to where such accounts are posted.
    I have shared with her all that I can.

    My most notable experience with the “Cavemen” concerned foul language at the booksigning. Yes, some of them were wearing “Got Sex” T-shirts. I was told that no, they were definitely not because EC didn’t sell them this year, then later RT reps said okay, some of the older models showed up with shirts they already owned and mingled.
    I had several readers approach me and express that they were dismayed with the atmosphere – and this was at the signing, not a party.

    I was not in the conference hotel (booted to the Omni) so I wasn’t in the con hotel all that much, and usually only on route to a meeting or interview. But I saw plenty. How anyone missed it, I don’t know. I’m GLAD that many did, and that they had a wonderful time.
    Maybe I just paused to say hi to friends at all the worst times.

    In my blog, I spoke at LENGTH about the good experiences I had there – hooking up with readers and author, booksellers and industry people, the interviews I did, dinners with friends, etc… Yet folks are making it out like my entire blog was a bitchfest, and a couple of times I’ve been outright called a liar.
    One person suggested I was making it all up to steal RT attendees so they’d come to my June event instead. Whatever.

    My overall feeling about things is that a certain tone is set by parties and promotional items, not to mention models (some of them strippers, yes, and that WAS confirmed.) Carol told me that some of the promotional materials that she, too, found offensive, were given out at private parties and were not meant to infiltrate the entire conference.
    However, when you hand folks certain things early on, they WILL show up later in the conference.
    The condom suckers were at the signing.
    And yeah, I don’t get it. How do condoms promote your books?
    No, I will never understand that. But again, to each her own.

    To my knowledge, the chocolate dildos were a year or two ago.
    Whether or not they were solid chocolate, I dunno. I didn’t take one. LOL I HOPE I was polite in saying, “No thank you.”

    The worst thing I saw/experienced was during the book signing when a reader sat in an author’s chair to my left. I didn’t look directly at her, so I’m not sure exactly which author’s chair she had.
    In the loudest, most enthusiastic and energetic way, she described how her new boyfriend spanks her, and how much she loves it.
    Good for her.
    But I feel that should be kept behind closed doors, not discussed in such a way as to draw attention, and not in the audience of PROFESSIONAL writers and their readers.

    The scary part is that several readers approached her, thinking she WAS the author, and only then were told that no, she’s a reader waiting for the author.
    So yeah, I don’t want there to be a chair waiting for me, with my name in front of it, where anyone can sit and tell such stories to give ANYONE the impression that it might be me.
    :::Shudder::::

    Yes, she was one person. But the overall tone of the convention was such that she felt perfectly at ease relaying the details of what should have been a personal thing.

    So there you have it.
    I wish you all a great day and lots of smiles!

    Lori

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  170. Jane Dancing
    May 08, 2008 @ 13:02:23

    Am I to understand that women who were groped did not file police reports? Did not scream bloody murder? Did not hand those men their asses back to them?

    And these are adults, right?

    I find it very curious that all of this “writers gone wild” is coming out from onlookers. I have yet to read a first-hand (or is that first-groped) account of this so-called foul fraternity fondling.

    So my question is… who started this game of “Telephone” and why? What is the real purpose behind it?

    So I’ll just keep cruising these blogs and shaking my head at adults playing children’s games.

    If someone inappropriately touched me, I wouldn’t be kvetching about it in a blog. I’d be going over the police reports with my attorney.

    Erotica is porn is erotica. I don’t care how you spin it. You like it. Buy it. You don’t like it. Don’t buy it.

    But for the love of God, shut up about it if you weren’t one of the ones touched.

    And quit using a three-day convention as a platform for your angst about your books not selling as well as something you want to label as “bad”.

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  171. GrowlyCub
    May 08, 2008 @ 13:09:36

    And here we thought the thread had run its course. Oh silly us. :)

    Jane Dancing, you must have overlooked the first person accounts in this 170 post strong thread (Kim’s in particular, Lori’s, Shiloh’s). One wonders if you bothered to read the posts that you claim aren’t available?

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  172. Jane Dancing
    May 08, 2008 @ 13:16:11

    Kim said “Ann, I was groped. A few years back I attended my first RT. ”

    Hmm, correct me if I’m wrong, but if we are discussing RT 2008 groping, we might need accounts from this year?

    Lori said nothing about her being groped. She said something about what I would consider highly inappropriate behaviour between two adults in a public situation.

    Still, if one of those adults wasn’t screaming… can we assume they were engaging in a consensual manner? (Note: I would have said something to them along the lines of GET A ROOM. Then again, I like personal responsibility.)

    Shiloh said, “One of the models, it was a model-not one of the Cavemen, decided he could go sliding his hand down my back as I passed out the door.”

    She did not address the issue right then and there or, it seems, afterwards. I can imagine being in shock that someone would do that. I can not imagine not following up on the inappropriate touching.

    My point remains…if you were at 2008 RT and were inappropriately touched, why did you not file a police report. Seems to be a waste of time doing it in a blog. Oh silly me.

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  173. GrowlyCub
    May 08, 2008 @ 13:34:13

    Jane, do you mean to say that it’s less of an issue because Shiloh didn’t file a police report, that you would only consider it a valid point if she had? Does it happening at all illustrate any less the laissez-faire atmosphere that folks are describing because no police reports were filed? And while Kim’s experience wasn’t this year, it just shows that this permissiveness was already around 8 years ago and the discussion is about how RT and the events at RT may or may not reflect the romance genre as a whole, in the past, currently and in the future and whether or not we as readers and authors want it to go there.

    It’s pretty easy to say I’d have done this or that or dismiss the severity of an event because something you consider necessary to make it valid didn’t occur.

    My first reaction when reading Kim’s experience was to think I’d have turned around and kneed the slug in the privates and then thrashed him within an inch of his life while he was down. Knee-jerk reaction.

    And then I remembered how I felt when I started getting obscene phone calls. *I* hadn’t done anything wrong, but this guy kept calling and I was paralyzed whenever it happened, absolutely paralyzed and I felt dirty and I felt guilty, which is totally irrational, but women are still indoctrinated that if something happens to them they don’t like they must have somehow initiated it. And the reaction of the phone company which belittled me and implied that I must have come on to the guy did not make me feel any better.

    Btw, I don’t see how a discussion on professional events that cast a light on our reading and writing preferences can ever be a waste of time.

    I don’t appreciate your point of view and most especially the mode of delivery. I really don’t like folks who tell me to shut up – so impolite, that. But unless we engage each other in some kind of discussion we can never understand where the other party is coming from.

    I still don’t agree with you, but hey, you got to say your piece and I got a chance to do the same.

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  174. Jane Dancing
    May 08, 2008 @ 13:42:48

    I’m sorry you felt a need to personalize it. I do not belittle Shiloh’s account. In fact, I am sad for her. that sort of thing is an ugly thing to be a part of and hard to react to in any situation. What I’m saying is that not doing something about it is also a bad thing. She was inappropriately touched, right? And did nothing? That is a hard thing to do. I know that i would have said soemthing to someone who could make a difference–not a blog ful of intimate strangers.

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  175. Lori Foster
    May 08, 2008 @ 13:56:34

    It’s very easy to say you would or wouldn’t do when you aren’t the one in the situation. Maturity has taught me that unless I’ve been through it, I really don’t know. There are certain ways I would hope I’d react, but no guarantees.
    Many times in a large, festive crowd, we hesitate. Very few want to be the center of attention by strongly reacting.

    The overall point here is that SO many kept telling me there were no eye-witness accounts.
    Obviously there were.
    Even if some want to call me a liar (which they have) it’s got to be difficult to believe in a broad conspiracy where SO many are making things up.

    Also, Carol Stacy and Jo Carol said they’d love to hear from people, if anyone is so inclined. I’ve more than done my part – which in my mind started out as just a simple telling of my experience at the 08 RT convention.
    I had a good time.
    I ran into some glitches.
    I saw things I disapproved of.

    Lori

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  176. Robin
    May 08, 2008 @ 15:01:30

    I don't appreciate your point of view and most especially the mode of delivery. I really don't like folks who tell me to shut up – so impolite, that. But unless we engage each other in some kind of discussion we can never understand where the other party is coming from.

    Here’s how I see it: first Wilder posts her blog and gets booted from the EC loop and is basically called a liar in public. EC issues an email to its loop about how nothing untoward happened, inclusive of an enthusiastic message from Kathryn Falk about the conference. Lori Foster — who I wouldn’t characterize as an agitator in any way — speaks out and is accused of being too old and of having an another agenda. Then the strategy switches to protestations that there were no first hand accounts. And when some are provided, now it’s “why didn’t you call the police or complain?” (let’s analyze the entire rape prosecution system while we discuss the answer to that one), as if that’s the measure of accuracy or authenticity of these accounts.

    Putting aside the way women generally feel intimidated in complaining about harassment, especially at a conference where the behavior seems to be officially sanctioned by the sponsor of the event and at least one publisher, there’s the example of what happened to JC Wilder after she made what is IMO a relatively mild blog post. So at this point, I accept that there are some who, for whatever reason, will never be willing to accede what others are saying they saw or experienced. To me it just comes across as *more indirect pressure for people to remain quiet.* And except for Lori Foster’s posts, who would know that RT is interested in hearing people’s complaints? I understand it if people feel they have no reason to trust that it’s safe to complain (especially if you’re not a well-respected, long published author for a press other than EC). The more that comes out, IMO, the more pressure there will be to keep the lid on.

    Part of me feels that people who want to see the male models continue to be included would be the first ones to step forward to support those who were treated offensively and ask RT to pay closer attention to the atmosphere of the conference. But I also think that there might be some self-protection from people who did enjoy the conference and who feel that future years of more of it will be jeopardized when others speak out. And you know, maybe it will take a serious police complaint for someone to take note — although if I ran the conference, I’d sure want to intervene before the conference became publicly associated with that.

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  177. Jane Dancing
    May 08, 2008 @ 15:15:17

    Robin said, “And you know, maybe it will take a serious police complaint for someone to take note -’ although if I ran the conference, I'd sure want to intervene before the conference became publicly associated with that.”

    I seem to be saying my words porrly. This is what i am meaning to drive at. If these things are as bad as they say, whey are not the police involved? If people who are actually touched do not do something in real life and not just kvetching in blogs, then nothing will happen.

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  178. Nora Roberts
    May 08, 2008 @ 15:30:52

    ~But for the love of God, shut up about it if you weren't one of the ones touched.~

    Well, this is incredibly rude. I have an opinion–and if I wish to express it, or to respond to another poster who’s related an experience, I don’t expect to be told to shut up.

    When I’m told to–or when I’m part of a group being told to shut up–when opinions and observations are so completely dismissed by someone who appears to disagree with them, I have no respect that that person’s opinion any longer.

    A great many women (people for that matter) might find themselves caught in a terrible position (battered wives, for instance) and not report to the police. Many of us may think–why? Get help, take action. But many of us have not been in that terrible position.

    But it strikes me that someone who feels entitled to come on someone else’s blog and tell people to shut up will probably lack the compassion to understand that.

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  179. Nora Roberts
    May 08, 2008 @ 15:34:22

    ~And quit using a three-day convention as a platform for your angst about your books not selling as well as something you want to label as “bad”.~

    Who’s doing that?

    Boy, from the tone of your posts, you’re a seriously arrogant and mannerless piece of work. And one who seems to feel entitled to give orders to ‘intimate strangers’.

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  180. Robin
    May 08, 2008 @ 15:39:47

    If these things are as bad as they say, whey are not the police involved? If people who are actually touched do not do something in real life and not just kvetching in blogs, then nothing will happen.

    I think the reason people haven’t called the cops or something similar is that these are loyal Romance folks who don’t want to embarrass EC or RT and/or subject themselves to the kind of comments that have circulated on the blogs toward people who complained (e.g. prudes, liars, ‘if you don’t like it don’t go). Plus, women often diminish the effect of their own traumatic experiences, believing, at some level, that because they are women they need to put up with some level of harassment. And then when you look at how reluctant women who have been out and out raped often are to come forward, I think you can see how women who were “just groped” (as some might have it) would also hesitate. So I think some of the logic in talking about this on the blogs is to bring it out into the open so that eventually people do speak up (seeing that others are doing so) and that a public record is available to those who don’t believe it happens. Because when you have a publisher who sponsored some of the guys in attendance insisting that nothing bad happened, it looks, IMO, like they’re not particularly open to people coming forward. So if it takes a lot of public conversation to change that perception, then all this talk will help something significant happen. And when there is tacit pressure to remain silent, talk can itself be something significant.

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  181. Lori Foster
    May 08, 2008 @ 16:27:29

    YOu know, much of the groping I complained about wasn’t “forced.” It was just that it was out in the open, where everyone could see, and I felt it was brought on by the overall tone.

    I *think* that some of the women who got groped unexpectedly and without warrant, didn’t complain because while it was nasty and intrusive, it wasn’t an actual assault.
    Did they like it or want it? No.
    Did it require police involvement? Maybe not.
    Not everything is a matter for the law – but it DEFINITELY crossed the boundary or proper and professional.

    I honestly feel that some of the guys were reacting to the overall atmosphere. It’s tough for “models,” especially strippers, to know where to draw the line when in the private parties, the mood was so different.
    (I’m trying to say this without insulting anyone.)

    We’ve heard women already saying that they would have preferred more skin to show, more risque behavior, and more risque promotional items – so if the guys knew this, I can see where they’d be confused as to the role they were to play.
    Not excusing them – just saying that to solve what I perceived as problems, there has to be better guidelines overall.

    I’m not sure any of the models would have come into a totally professional organization and behaved that way.

    Lori

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  182. Nora Roberts
    May 08, 2008 @ 16:45:39

    So. I don’t attend RT, and haven’t for many years. I don’t subscribe to RT. I don’t have any agenda or particular interest in RT as an organization or magazine.

    It was reported–by several people–that certain activities, a certain tone, certain events happened at this convention. A convention billed as a Romance con–whether it’s for readers or writers isn’t particularly relevent to me as it’s billed as Romance.

    Some people objected to these reported activities, tone, events. Some didn’t.

    Those who did object or questioned were labeled by others as: Too old, prudish to get it. As liars, as someone with a hidden agenda or purpose.

    I was told on Karen’s blog by a poster that I had an attitude and was nasy because I objected to being told it was an age thing.

    Those who expressed opinions have now been told to shut up if they weren’t on the scene. Those who were on the scene and felt upset with inappropriate behavior–ito–have now been dismissed as they didn’t call the cops. Some who discussed are again dismissed as not agreeing with having sex as a selling point, or ‘angsting’ because their books aren’t (supposedly) selling as well as those who do use sex to sell.

    JC Wilder reported her observations and her opinion, in pretty much the mildest way possibly. And has been banished from one of her publisher’s loops, and her credibility and motivation called into question.

    I didn’t attend, I have nothing to do with it. Want nothing to do with it. I’m fine with those who do. But I object, strongly, to being told I’m too old, too tight-assed to get the fun. I object to being told to shut it because I wasn’t there to see it with my own eyes. I object to having women who might have been touched or offended dismissed because they didn’t take action. I object to having people I respect called liars for stating their observations and opinions.

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  183. J.C. Wilder
    May 08, 2008 @ 16:50:19

    I’ve avoided commenting on the blogs for a lot of different reasons but I feel I have to say this –

    Thank you, Nora – your comments are on point and much appreciated.

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  184. Michelle
    May 08, 2008 @ 19:34:48

    I have to ask a question about the sweat. I’ve seen a couple of people say they smelled sweat on a guy in an elevator and assumed they’d had sex. I’m not sure I get it. Because he smells of sweat he had sex? Has anyone stopped to think that maybe people were sweating because they’d been dancing? I know I broke a sweat dancing. I would hate to think I stepped into the elevator after dancing and because I was sweating a little, people assumed I had sex.

    Am I missing something? Is there more to it?

    I didn’t see any of the stuff people are talking about. I wasn’t groped, I didn’t see the floggers or the naked men and I attended all the events, even the night time ones. I stopped going to RWA due to the whole us verses them theme that seems to find it’s way into every discussion about romance anymore.

    If the more erotic romance didn’t sell or wasn’t wanted, then New York wouldn’t have picked up on it and started their own lines or went into partnerships with the Ebook industry to buy up their novellas (Pocket parnering with EC and Kensington parnering with SamHain.)

    Blogs like these take the behavior of a few people and assume the whole conference is like that when it’s not.

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  185. Angela James
    May 08, 2008 @ 19:40:27

    If the more erotic romance didn’t sell or wasn’t wanted, then New York wouldn’t have picked up on it and started their own lines or went into partnerships with the Ebook industry to buy up their novellas (Pocket parnering with EC and Kensington parnering with SamHain.)

    Though this doesn’t really pertain, I have to correct it because it’s not accurate and it makes my skin itch to let misinformation spread when I can correct it. We (Samhain) partnered with Kensington for stand alone titles (not novellas) and since we publish all genres of romance, it will be all genres of romance we do, not erotic focus, and actually, it will mostly be sexy or sensual, but not erotic, to start.

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  186. Michelle
    May 08, 2008 @ 20:10:34

    I stand corrected…:) as far as Samhain, but the erotic side of the industry is picking up.

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  187. AnonForThis
    May 08, 2008 @ 20:13:01

    “Still, if one of those adults wasn't screaming… can we assume they were engaging in a consensual manner? (Note: I would have said something to them along the lines of GET A ROOM. Then again, I like personal responsibility.)”

    You can assume all you want, but you’d be wrong. When I was groped at the department store I worked at the first thought that went through my mind was whether or not he had a weapon on him. Then the security cameras, and then the fact that if I hit him I could be banned from the mall for a year. Considering the fact that I worked there, my job would’ve been at stake. It happened right in the middle of the Misses department during Christmas when we had a few moments of peace one night. I had only worked there for two months. I was alone and there were no witnesses. So, no just because someone can manage to stay somewhat calm in a situation like this, doesn’t mean it was consensual. I wanted to quit my job over it.

    Also, I did report the incident to Assest Protection. Once the guy was kicked out of the store, it was completely swept under the rug until nine months later when he came back and did it again to another associate. He was more aggressive than he was with me. When she reported it to AP and then to the police herself, our store manager blew it off. Everyone was judgemental of her “for putting herself in the situation”, yet she was doing her job. Their tunes changed real fast when they found out that it had also happened to me. By that point, I was a respected employee, so no one questioned it. The same store manager actually apologized to me for AP’s mishandling of the incident because he realized the police should’ve been called.

    Oh, and the security camaras? They just so happened to not be taping those departments when the incidents occurred. When I worked there, they only had two or three VCR’s taping for the entire store, so a lot goes unnoticed.

    While this isn’t an example of what allegedly occured at RT, hopefully you have a little more understanding of why women don’t come forward easily or feel the need to justify their reactions on a blog when approached in a condescending and catty manner.

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  188. Lisa
    May 08, 2008 @ 20:32:25

    I am just a reader, not an author, and have never attended an RT con but having read all of these comments, I want to add my 2 cents.

    The problems that have occurred are the responsibility of RT and not of certain vendors, publishers or event organizers. RT owns the event and is ultimately responsible. No, they can’t prevent or foresee every possible incident of “bad behavior.” But they set the tone and decide what events are in keeping with the image they want to present.

    Many of the stories that have been related would not have happened IMO if the participants had not thought that such behavior was acceptable. No matter how horrifying (or even criminal) some behavior was, the individuals involved thought that it was appropriate for the occasion.

    That is a huge problem and is the crux of the problem for RT.

    They need to decide if this is a romance author/reader conference or a flip on Girls Gone Wild/quasi leather party. If it’s a leather party that’s fine, but make it clear in advertising that this conference is a walk on the wild side and the complaints will cease. Of course, one can suppose that many authors and readers would not be comfortable with this and would choose not to attend, and that’s fine, there are other venues out there. Likewise there would probably be others who would be happy with the change and would start attending.

    Trying to have it both ways is obviously not working.

    Jane Dancing says that she is not belittling anyone. She needs to go reread her previous posts. She is in effect telling people: nothing happened; if something happened and didn’t happen to you, you need to shut up; if something happened to you and you didn’t report it to the police, then shut up.

    It’s not time for people to shut up; it’s time for RT to speak up.

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  189. Michelle
    May 08, 2008 @ 20:49:39

    But is it fair to make RT label their convention as a girl’s gone wild because of the bad behavior of ten people out of a total of 1500?

    When you get that many people together and then add alchohol, it doesn’t matter what kind of event you’re at, you’re going to get some bad behavior. I’ve even seen it at an RWA event in the bar late at night when the romance attendies mingled with a group of males that were there also for another event. Should RWA add a warning to their brochures? Possible bad behavior in the bar after sanctioned events, attend with caution.

    Perhaps we should put a warning on everything. I saw a couple kiss at walmart this morning. Should walmart post something on their door warning me this could happen?

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  190. Ann Somerville
    May 08, 2008 @ 20:56:03

    Should walmart post something on their door warning me this could happen?

    Absolutely. The moment Walmart starts handing out condoms that look like lollipops and have their staff walking around bare-chested and oiled, they should tell their customers that if you would prefer your purchases made in an atmosphere that is welcoming to everyone and not just those who think sex and erotica are all there is to shopping, you should take your business elsewhere.

    I must have missed the memo which said kissing was somehow innately wrong or offensive, though.

    Jane Dancing, I literally felt sick to my stomach when I read your reply. You sound like every man who ever responded to a complaint of sexual assault or harassment with ‘what’s the big deal?’ I hope you’re actually a bloke because the idea of a woman saying that to her sisters is just revolting. (And can I point to the comments to this news blog as evidence of how far women have to go to be taken seriously by anyone, let alone men):
    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2235529.htm

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  191. Michelle
    May 08, 2008 @ 21:12:40

    Who was oiled?? No one at the RT convention was oiled.

    For starters walmart isn’t going to hand out lollipop condoms. Secondly, you’re an adult. If you, as an adult and fully capable of reading, walk into a party you know fully well is hosted by a publisher that specifically publishes EROTIC romance, then you shouldn’t be surprised when you see stuff like that. That’s like walking into an adult toy store and not expecting to see dildos.

    Everyone seems to be taking a couple of events, that apparently very few people saw and assuming the whole convention is an event that needs warning labels posted all over it. If that’s the case, then every convention should carry a warning because I doubt that there’s any convention held anywhere that at least one person wouldn’t find something about it or it’s attendies offensive.

    And that’s pretty damn sad.

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  192. Lori Foster
    May 08, 2008 @ 21:27:44

    Aye yi yi. Some folks just don’t want to get it. And that’s FINE. But please don’t put words in my mouth. I never said that being sweaty meant they’d had sex. I said that being cramped in an elevator with the sweaty guy who was having a mutual grope session with someone was offensive.
    I don’t know how he got sweaty, but she didn’t seem to mind. :-/

    Also, it was more than a few incidents, seen by a few people. Does no one read the posts? Or do they read one, then start typing without really seeing EVERYTHING that’s currently on the net.
    I guess we’re all just nuts, or somehow driven to sabotage the event for personal gain? What?

    Most of those who experienced things have done what I’m now going to do – shut up about it. It doesn’t matter to a lot of people – so be it.
    Many are in denial. Fine.
    A lot of you LIKE the “sex book” mentality. A-okay with me.

    All I’ve ever said is that it wasn’t my thing, and I’ve given the reasons why. But SOMEONE continually wants to question my motives, like… I’d have motives? For what purpose?
    And SOMEONE continually wants to rephrase what I’ve said.

    It doesn’t matter to me anymore. Go. Have fun.
    I’m guessing it’ll all be there, maybe amped up a bit more, next year.

    Lori

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  193. Nora Roberts
    May 08, 2008 @ 22:09:21

    ~If the more erotic romance didn't sell or wasn't wanted, then New York wouldn't have picked up on it and started their own lines or went into partnerships with the Ebook industry to buy up their novellas (Pocket parnering with EC and Kensington parnering with SamHain.)~

    I don’t understand what the sales of erotic romance, or NY partnerships, have to do with the reports of questionable behavior or objections thereto at RT.

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  194. Michelle
    May 09, 2008 @ 03:38:05

    I never put words in your mouth. I asked about the sweat thing because more than one person mentioned it and not just on this blog. I also never said anyone had an agenda. Of all the blogs I’ve read it’s the same events, which are a very few, that everyone is complaining about and the majority of the people complaining weren’t even there.

    Something starts out with ‘the ec men took their shirts off’ then it explodes into ‘oiled me stripping’. What?

    We’ve become so politically correct, so worried we’ll offend someone. It doesn’t matter what we do or what we say, someone will be offended.

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  195. Lori Foster
    May 09, 2008 @ 06:44:03

    I said:

    Anyway, I did NOT see sex in an elevator. I saw two people groping and carrying on, giving the image they wanted to have sex. Yes, the elevator was crowded and you could smell the sweat on the guy. He was definitely supposed to be a model, but whether one from RT or EC, I don't know. I don't know any of the models well enough to say.

    Michelle said:

    I have to ask a question about the sweat. I've seen a couple of people say they smelled sweat on a guy in an elevator and assumed they'd had sex. I'm not sure I get it. Because he smells of sweat he had sex? Has anyone stopped to think that maybe people were sweating because they'd been dancing?

    Check it out. I never said he was sweaty because he’d had sex.
    Don’t know where you got that.

    I also never said anyone had an agenda.

    Others have. Absurd as it sounds, some accused me of trying to steal attendees from RT. Course it was an anonymous person.

    I think everyone should agree to disagree. This is a sinkhole of endless proportions. Those who maintain nothing was out of line, will never agree with those who saw inappropriate behavior, and vice versa.

    I’m just glad that the RT people were more willing to listen, and to address possible problems. NOT saying they’ll make major changes – but they are aware of concerns.

    Lori

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  196. Serena G.
    May 09, 2008 @ 08:27:04

    I'm just glad that the RT people were more willing to listen, and to address possible problems. NOT saying they'll make major changes – but they are aware of concerns.

    And maybe the fact that they are aware and if more people voice their concerns rationally it will be a first step to getting the convention to a place where people can begin focusing on the positive aspects instead of the negative …

    Not saying they’re going to please everyone – because you can’t, but maybe they need to take a good look and make adjustments to the things that they can control – such as promotion alley and what is handed out.

    Just my 2 cents.

    SG

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  197. Carol Stacy
    May 09, 2008 @ 16:53:11

    SerenaG.

    The two conversations I had with Lori were to find out exactly what she saw so that I could address what she witnessed moving forward because we as an organization care. I only wish that Lori had come to us as it was happening so that we could have addressed the objectionable behavior as it was going on.

    As I explained to Lori we were not aware of the incidents that she (and others) witnessed nor do we condone that behavior. Now that we are aware that a handful of people have been offensive we will put policies and measures in place to ensure that it does not happen moving forward.

    As for Promotion Lane, I have to agree that X-rated items should NOT be offered in this forum although only a small handful of authors in the past have used them. But moving forward we will now monitor the items carefully. We are working on a form that will go out to all authors who want to place promotional items in this area that states all items MUST BE PG. This does not include book covers because if someone is promoting erotica the cover will pretty much be very sensual.

    As I said to Lori WE WILL make major changes for next year. Lori said she hoped we were not changing things because of what she said. Well, we will make changes because of what she said because she raised some very serious issues. I am grateful to her for coming forward (although I would have preferred her to do it privately but I understand the nature of blogging).

    Sometimes we (RT) are too close to the event and busy just trying to make everything run smoothly to see some of the other things going on in the hotel public spaces.

    Because of the hotel fiasco I, along with all of my convention colleagues who worked tirelessly to make sure the workshops and events went as planned, never made it down to the lobby and the bar lounge in the evening. Had we witnessed any of what Lori and others saw we would have intervened.

    Our intention is to bring authors together with fans and booksellers for the purpose of celebrating books -’ ALL BOOKS. Romance is definitely a part of our convention but we also celebrate all types of women’s fiction including mystery, thriller, sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy and yes, erotica.

    The fun parties that we have are for the fans and only one-’the EC Fantasy party– out of 25 is being deemed questionable which I attended and can say with all sincerity I DID NOT WITNESS any lewd behavior. Again if I had, it would have been addressed. I was with Janelle Taylor, Jennifer Blake and Bertrice Small whose 85-year-old husband was dancing up a storm having a great time. Bertrice, Jennifer and Janelle were also dancing. I was not. I was just observing everyone having a great time and saw NOTHING lewd or objectionable. Lori told me she was not there to witness what had been said but I WAS THERE and saw nothing that was described in some of the blogs.

    We are a reader organization. We try to give readers an incentive to come to the BOOKLOVERS convention and they love the themed parties and dressing up. They love the Mr. Romance Competition and they love having the former Mr. Romance winners there, all of whom I can personally vouch for. Collectively they are sweet guys who have come to love the RT family. When they attend they help us in any way we need them and are always willing to assist as escorts for the ladies to get up on stage for the parties and the awards ceremony. The guys in question (as Lori stated) were NOT Mr. Romance contestants or former Mr. romance winners.

    By the same token, if things are happening during our event that we are unaware of that are objectionable and offensive (no matter who it is that is behaving badly male or female) then WE WILL take action moving forward. I promise and anyone who knows me knows I am a woman of my word.

    I regret that all of this negativity came out of what was otherwise a very successful convention. Dozens of devoted people worked extremely hard to make it such and I feel terrible that they are on the receiving end of the piercing accusations. They do not deserve it. I take full responsibility for not being on top of what was going on in the public spaces but it just was not possible. Next year we will have the public spaces supervised and will be ready to deal with things as they may occur.

    As I said, there will be restriction on Promotion Lane next year and other than explicit cover there will not be offensive promo items on display nor will they be allowed at the Book Fair.

    By Lori’s own admission there were many wonderful events, workshops and good old fashioned networking. Hundreds of readers and booksellers got to meet the authors which is the highlight of the convention for them.

    It’s a shame that a few bad apples diminished all the good that went on at our convention. I know better for next year and there will be changes.

    Sincerely,
    Carol Stacy
    Publisher of
    Romantic Times BOOKrevies and Convention Organizer

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  198. Serena G
    May 09, 2008 @ 22:24:40

    Dear Ms Stacy

    Thank you for posting, it is nice to see that concerns are being addressed in an effort to make the convention a place where everyone is comfortable and can focus on the positive.

    I look forward to going to Orlando – if for no other reason than to see what the convention can be in a setting that benefits it.

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  199. Jane
    May 09, 2008 @ 22:32:19

    I agree with Serena G. I really appreciate you posting, Ms. Stacy, and appreciate hearing that people’s concerns are being taken seriously. I think that if EC had stepped up and posted something akin to what you did, this whole debate would have been nipped in the bud.

    As I am considering going to Orlando next year with my family, I appreciate the efforts to make it PG – at the least the public, visible events.

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  200. Robin
    May 10, 2008 @ 11:06:02

    By the same token, if things are happening during our event that we are unaware of that are objectionable and offensive (no matter who it is that is behaving badly male or female) then WE WILL take action moving forward. I promise and anyone who knows me knows I am a woman of my word.

    I am grateful to her for coming forward (although I would have preferred her to do it privately but I understand the nature of blogging).

    If you mean what you say about trying to make sure that everyone is safe, etc., and people see that you are serious, then, I think, they will feel comfortable coming to you privately. But if people feel rebuffed or judged or rebutted, even if it’s just by their own publisher, then they won’t. So you absolutely have the power to set that tone of safe confidences, and I think many people will be happy to see it working. I hope people get a chance to see this statement.

    Obviously you will never be able to bring taste levels into complete alignment, and what you see as no problem in one event might be a problem for someone else (and vice versa), depending on expectations, experiences, and taste/tolerance. But again, if people feel comfortable saying their piece and really feel heard, I think that’s sometimes enough to assuage bad feelings before they build up and boil over.

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