AURORE | USA
read our interview with Carly below
HOUSE OF THEODORA CHATS TO CARLY PIFER
CARLY PIFER RUNS AURORE, A WEBSITE DEDICATED TO PUBLISHING REAL, RAW, NON-FICTION EROTICA. WE SPOKE TO HER ABOUT HER JOURNEY INTO THE WORLD OF EROTICA AND HER LOVE OF GOOD STORYTELLING.
Who is Carly Pifer and how did she become so interested in erotic storytelling?
I was writing erotica years before I realised it, as evidenced by very many diary entries I’ve revisited since I began writing AURORE stories, but my official foray into erotica was inspired by a trip I took through Europe the summer of 2016. I was at a life crossroads, so I bought a one-way ticket to London, as a jumping off point. Because I didn’t want to fully indulge in an endless summer vacation, I gave myself an assignment to use Tinder to go on dates and interview people about sex and dating in their respective cultures. I had done quite a bit of sex and dating writing, and I thought this would eventually make a good pitch or some kind of book.
It gave me purpose while I traveled, and I met some really special people. I didn’t expect the interviews to get so intimate, but they did. I let my dates interview me, too. At the end of several hours of baring souls and talking about sex, it felt natural to sleep together. Unlike so many first dates with internet strangers, sex happened as the result of vulnerability, emotion, and connection, not as a test for a future relationship that may or may not foster those ideals. It was like an entire beautiful relationship enclosed into a single day... Actually, the first story I wrote for AURORE is Two French Boys, One Day, where I detail the genesis of the project. It’s amazing how deep you can go with someone so quickly if you do it for art. Art allowed me to let down my walls, and focus on finding beauty and connection with another person...or more than one, as it happened in Paris.
I only really tackled transcribing these interviews and writing these stories last summer. As I was writing about my experiences, I realized I wanted to include the sex. It was part of the story, and to leave it out felt a disservice to my experience and what I shared with my dates. The stories I was writing were more lyrical than clinical. It wasn’t an investigation into sex and dating in different cultures as I designed. It was the story of travel, food, and sex. Three of my favourite things. Without sparing any details. It felt indulgent and new. That’s when the concept of AURORE materialised.
You request that those that submit on Aurore write their own stories as opposed to fiction. Why is that?
Enough pornography exists already supplying us with impossible fantasy, whether it’s a tired plotline like fucking the pool boy, or a ridiculous body that’s not created by nature. I crave the truth, vulnerability, and complexity of real stories featuring real, flawed, humans. And how wonderful to read about others most private moments? It’s the ultimate voyeuristic exercise, and so incredibly cathartic for writers to share. Even when writers are sharing fantasy scenarios, you can feel the fact that they’re rooted in truth and about people who exist. There’s an emotional element that fiction can’t touch.
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In what ways do you believe erotic fiction and erotic non-fiction differ in their ability to tap into our sexual desire ?
I have trouble getting turned on by erotic fiction unless its super well written. A lot of it doesn’t feel believable, and it really takes me out of the moment. Plus, in fiction, we’re prone to reiterate a lot of difficult, ingrained ideals, and encourage bad behaviour. With erotic non-fiction, we can be inspired by the accessibility, relatability, and also receive an education. I happen to think AURORE pieces are more than sexy, they’re literary marvels, good reading...another way of “reading for pleasure.”
Reliving our sexual experiences through story can be incredibly fun but also help us process our thoughts around power and gender and pleasure. Did you envisage that Aurore may be a place to not only imagine but heal?
Initially I didn’t imagine AURORE would become a space for healing. But my first writers were friends, and witnessing them process their sexual histories for AURORE stories was tremendous. Once I fully realised the power of writing non-fiction erotica, I developed an erotica writing workshop series so we could share the powerful healing with a supportive community.
Everyone knows writing is an amazing way to process complex emotions, but writing about sex in particular is incredibly helpful to encourage communication and consent, educating yourself and others about the different ways pleasure and desire manifest. Writing for AURORE allows people to rewrite their memories. Our romantic and sexual memories are often very delicate and painful—AURORE offers you the chance to reimagine your experiences, including things you wish you’d said or done differently, which can soften the remembrance. It’s real magic.
In your view, what does it mean for a woman to be sexually empowered?
For one, asking for and creating the type of sex she wants, whether that be through writing, filming, nude selfie-ing, or consuming an alternative type of pornography like AURORE, and simply by telling her lover exactly what she would enjoy sexually. Sexual empowerment means owning your desires and not judging yourself, and encouraging others to access that power as well.
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How would you recommend women go about introducing erotic literature into their sexual repertoire?
Read it like you would anything else. If you feel inspired, take things to the next level. I like reading AURORE submissions in public places because it feels “naughty”.
What does pleasure mean to you?
To quote the late, great Toni Morrison, from her novel, Sula:
“She lived out her days exploring her own thoughts and emotions, giving them full reign, feeling no obligation to please anybody unless their pleasure pleased her.”
What does erotic literature have that traditional porn lacks?
Intellect and emotion. Complex people turn me on, so it makes sense that I prefer complex characters in porn. It’s been hard for me to locate that in traditional porn.
What are your top 5 tips for writing erotic literature?
I always say you need to be turned on to write erotica, as evidenced by our writing workshop series called “Get Turned On”.
So, smoke a little weed, masturbate, fantasise, read through your old diaries, place yourself back in the memory you want to recount.
Location: New York, NY
Submission guidelines: 800+ words. Aurore stories are very specific. They need to be more than sexy. They need to have a story, complex characters, palpable emotion. But if editors see potential in a piece, they will work with the writer through several rounds of edits.
Submission wait times: 2 - 6 weeks