by Miriam Heddy
There's a Swiss roll in the middle of the room. Now, the question that
concerns us is: Does Bodie eat it?
Now, under normal circumstances, we would look to canon, which says, "He bloody well does!" After all, the Swiss roll is there, innit? If not Bodie, then who? If not now, then when? If a Swiss roll is in a flat, and Bodie doesn't eat it... well, then Bodie isn't Bodie, is he? And this isn't The Professionals.
Not very difficult, that. It's a matter of characterization. Canon. The little things we fans latch onto that tell us who these men are, and what they desire. And desire is a very important thing in fanfic, most especially in slash. Desire and appetites. Orality. Pleasure.
Am I turning you on yet?
In the kitchiest catalogs, the most embarrassing of novelty stores, they sell writing instruments that do a neat trick. Inside the top of the pen, there's a small, clothed woman. Turn the pen over, and the woman quickly and magically disrobes. Pens are interesting things to a slash writer, even one who uses a computer. They are phallic objects, of course, and we slash writers tend to be rather fond of phallic objects.
But these pens in particular are interesting, because it is the act of writing which actually disrobes the little bodies trapped inside the pens, and I've noticed that writing slash seems to often perform a similar magic trick on male bodies.
A man who seems familiar to us, like Bodie, falls under the spell of a slash writer, and miraculously, magically, can gets an entirely new body.
It's a two step process, and if you blink, you might miss it.
First, the pen tips, producing a magic in which Bodie's clothes disappear.
Quite a nice trick, in fact. I like it when this happens slowly, one article of carefully chosen and stylish clothing at a time. Or it can happen quickly. I like that, too. Ray Doyle tearing off Bodie's clothing in a frenzy of animal passion, popping buttons, ripping fabric, exposing naked skin...
Where was I?
Oh, yes. The second step. Now, watch carefully, as this is the tricky bit.
The clothing comes off, exposing naked skin...
But wait! Where's that Swiss roll? I would've sworn I saw him eat it. And wasn't there a pint of bitter in there as well? And a liver sandwich. No, wait. He didn't actually eat that, did he? That was, I think, the only thing he has turned down, and he fought with himself a good deal over that, didn't he? Really had to set it aside several times before it took.
So what happened? And why did it happen?
Whenever I see a woman being sawed in half, my first thought is to wonder how it was done, and only later, still very much admiring the illusion, do I find myself wondering why anyone would *want* to cut a perfectly lovely woman in two.
Now Bodie is lovely. Bodie is, in fact, quite stunning. Bodie is magnificent. Brilliant. Classically handsome. Pale and dark haired, with eyelashes...
Where was I?
Oh, yes. Bodie's body. Or rather, his bodies. He seems to have two. Perhaps more, if we were to count "the taller one" (in those stories where Doyle, upon disrobing, becomes an elf or sylph) and counting also those other blokes who pop up in the occasional B/D.
I'm hesitant to offer an explanation, as I'm sure that someone out there has the equivalent of rose-colored glasses and really does, honestly and sincerely, attempt to convey just what she sees on screen. It just happens that she can only see Bodie during that brief period of time during which Lewis Collins was quite unusually thin. She can't really help that, can she?
We all have our blind spots. Our pink elephants in the middle of the room. We are a whole fandom of blind writers, each of us feeling a different part, each of us saying, "I know what that is. It's Bodie's body. And it looks like..."
I could offer another explanation.
Maybe only thin, strong men with hard toned abs and rippling muscles are sexy. Maybe there's a correlative between taut abdomens and potency. Maybe a Bodie with a belly is impossible.
Perhaps the eroticism would come crashing down under the sheer weight of reality.
In our rapture with the written word, we might forget, for a moment, that bodies are matter. That bodies do matter. Bodies are flesh and blood, skin and bone, tendons and muscles and fat. And ink and pixels, of course.
Now I have to admit, I'm no expert to the rules of slash, but perhaps there is a law, a physic of physique, that says that, just as it appears that one man in any m/m pairing must be smaller than the other, that both men must be thin. Studying this phenomenon at some length, I've noticed that "lean" and "delicate" and even "frail" men have sex in stories. Muscles do appear to be optional.
Yes, I have seen a few scattered mentions of flesh. But where are the odes to it? Where the celebration of lushness?
Eroticism seems to thrive on difference--on variations on a theme. For every tall man there must be a shorter man. For every curly top, a partner with straight hair (ideally blonde if the other is dark, but we can be flexible about these things). If one is talkative, the other is silent. If one is a health nut who deprives himself of indulgences, the other, more often than not, indulges in the hedonistic consumption of snack food, junk food, and sweets of all varieties.
Sex is more than cookie cutter bodies inhabited by voices and minds. Slash is more than Tab A in Slot B. Bodies, like characters, like personalities, are distinctive, individual, sensual, sensuous, and unique.
As are our stories.
And slash is about pleasure, about hedonism, if it is about nothing else. It is about indulging in our fantasies, yes, of indulging in a perfect world of pleasure, a mutually constituted Xanadu, where the climaxes are superb, where oral communication is the meeting of skin on skin, mouth on cock, where the language is hedonistic, unbuttoned and set free.
There is pleasure in bodies that are soft and lush and there is an eroticism that is still waiting to be written.
There is a Swiss roll in the middle of the room, and nobody is talking about it. Until now. We may think that we can just make it go away, if we stay silent.
But some of us are ravenous, consumptive, insatiable. Some of us are hungry.
Some of us know that pleasure cannot truly be set free until bodies are.
Until Bodie is.
Until we set ourselves free, remove our stays, and taste the forbidden fruit.