Penthouse Variations on Oral

Penthouse Variations on Oral [review]

A huge “Thanks!” to Cleis Press for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. You can order Penthouse Variations on Oral directly from Cleis Press’ product page or from other book retailers, such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

…Oral sex isn’t something to be rushed through or performed out of some sort of duty. –Barbara Pizio, Executive Editor of Penthouse Variations

Penthouse Variations on OralReleased in October 2014, Penthouse Variations on Oral is the first in a series of erotica
published by Cleis Press and Penthouse Variations magazine. Having next-to-no
experience with Penthouse, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect with this anthology. To be honest, I kind of feared that it would be ‘all blow jobs, all the time.’ But Cleis Press is one of my absolute favorite erotic publishers, and they are responsible for such a wide variety of quality fiction & nonfiction that I was excited to read and review this new book for them.


Penthouse Variations on Oral was not a work of purely male fantasy and pleasure. The 22 stories are evenly split between male & female authors/narrators. Cunnilingus and fellatio both get their fair share of attention, and both acts are equally enjoyed by everyone involved. There were also a lot of good examples for not only communicating with a partner by telling them what you desire/enjoy but also, like in Screaming Orgasm by Chloe Parker, by directly showing them. Overall, I appreciated the normalcy and enthusiasm with which these characters approached oral sex.

There were also a few passages with, what I consider to be, exceptional (and rather hot) erotica writing.

And each time she told me what to do, I granted her request, because each of her demands mirrored my own desire as well. The desire to please her, to thrill her, to hear her scream when the pleasure broke within her and those walls came tumbling down. –Secret Appetites by Adam Vane


I felt that skillful writing was the exception rather than the rule among the authors in this anthology. Most distracting for me was the prevalence of ridiculous sexual metaphors. (If you’ve read my reviews for erotica before, then you know that this is my biggest pet peeve.) Petals, berries, pearls, and nectar were everywhere! Oral sex was related to food, eating, and being hungry until I lost my appetite. (I may have also screamed out “Cannibals!” when author William McLoughlin wrote that his characters were “eating each other…literally” in Icing on the Cake.)

Other prime examples? Thanks to a rather strange metaphor by Gary Holmes in Deep Hunger, I can now say that I have yelled “Your cum is lava!” at my partner. I had to momentarily stop reading Elisa Nolan’s Mouth to Mouth in order to text the terrifying phrase, “buzz-sawing my clitoris.” And Peter Berman’s Cabin Fever sent me into a fit of giggles with, “I vacuumed up her free-flowing honey.” Indeed, I was more amused by this selection of erotica than I was aroused by it.

But beyond the fact that the writing lacked a certain elegance…There was simply no variety to these stories. You may be thinking, “It is a book entirely about oral sex. What more do you want?!” However, if you’re going to make an entire anthology about one topic (oral sex), shouldn’t you find a way to keep things interesting? Shouldn’t you try to approach your topic from several angles, so that every single story doesn’t blend into the next? This is the grand mistake of Penthouse Variations on Oral.

The entire collection can best be described as vanilla & heteronormative. There are absolutely no gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans characters in any of the stories. When you do get physical descriptions of the straight and cisgender characters, words like “thin,” “lean,” and “tanned” are plentiful. They are cookie-cutter depictions of stereotypical beauty standards — and nothing more. There is also a surprising lack of casual sex partners. The majority of stories feature couples, a few follow co-workers who have had their eye on each other, and even some of the stories that start with casual sex end in “finding love.” Talk about conventional.

As for the erotic scenes that these characters engage in? After just a few stories, it was painfully obvious that I was going to be stuck with the same 4 sex acts: cunnilingus, fellatio, 69, and penis-in-vagina intercourse. The most risqué activity that these characters ever engage in is a little outdoor sex/exhibitionism and manual or oral anal stimulation. (Oh, and there was that one time when toe-sucking got included, and I got way too excited that maybe it was the sign of a foot fetish. Anything to break up the monotony!) Perhaps it’s due to my love of fetish/BDSM erotica, but I simply found this collection boring.

My advice…

If you’re really into male/female oral sex with no frills and no deviations from “the norm,” this could be the book for you. (I’d still recommend not reading more than a couple stories at a time, though, so they don’t start blending together.) Otherwise, I’d suggest sticking with some of Cleis Press’ other erotic anthologies.


Penthouse Variations on Oral

Book Giveaway: Penthouse Variations on Oral

Big news, erotica lovers! 

Cleis Press is pairing up with Penthouse Variations magazine for what is set to be a 6-part series of erotic anthologies featuring both new and established authors. Always a fan of themed erotica collections, I was excited to see that each individual book will focus on one specific pleasure — the first of which is oral sex. Penthouse Variations on Oral: Erotic Stories of Going Down was released just last month. Although I have yet to receive my review copy, and I don’t have any personal experience with Penthouse Variations magazine…I can say that I simply adore Cleis Press. Whether gay/lesbian or heterosexual, vanilla or kinky, a reader of erotic fiction or educational non-fiction on gender & sexuality — they have published something for everyone. They are the people to turn to for quality books on sex! Penthouse Variations on Oral

In this collection of short stories, lovers explore the delicious ways oral sex can be an act of affection and tenderness, a testament to devotion, or an expression of pure, hot lust. Going down is an experience meant to be savored… and shared.

Cleis Press has been kind enough to donate a copy of Penthouse Variations on Oral for a giveaway here at EROcentric! The giveaway is open worldwide and the deadline is Sunday, November 30th at 11:59 pm EST. Participants must be 18 years or older. At the end of the giveaway, I will e-mail the lucky winner to enquire about shipping information. If I do not get an e-mail response from the winner within 3 days, another winner will be chosen. 
This giveaway has closed. For a review of this anthology, please click here
A big thanks to all who entered and congratulations to Sand for being the lucky recipient of Penthouse Variations on Oral! 

Thank you, Cleis Press for donating to my very first giveaway! 

Blow Jobs: Choose Your Own Adventure

Rarely do I hear a woman say that she simply feels “so-so” about fellatio. It’s always a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ opinion. I can’t help but wonder if those who hate it have ever had a considerate partner who gives them their share of control over the situation. I worry that simply because one person is receiving physical pleasure during oral sex, it is often seen as a selfish, one-sided sex act.

Blow jobs don’t have to abide by pornographic standards. They do not have to be an exercise in male dominance and female degradation. (Although for some couples, this agreed upon power dynamic is really hot.) As with any sexual act, blow jobs should be an experience of shared enthusiasm & pleasure where the comfort levels and limitations of both partners are acknowledged and respected — and compromises are often possible if you communicate.

“I hate the way it tastes.”

This is probably the #1 complaint that I hear when discussing blow jobs. I’m going to assume that most of the time this is in reference to the taste of ejaculate. (I hate to think that men are commonly presenting their partners with sweaty ol’ genitalia. Wash up, boys!) It’s important to remember that allowing your partner to cum inside your mouth is not the only acceptable way to end oral sex. You have options. For example, it’s really easy to switch from oral sex to a saliva-lubricated hand job at the end — especially if you’ve been incorporating your hands the entire time. If you’re concerned about being able to gauge your partner’s arousal (and trust them to be honest with you), ask them to tell you when they are about to cum so that you can switch.

Another great option is … condoms! A lot of people forget that oral sex can be dangerous too. Not only will using a condom protect you from STIs, it also allows you to finish a blow job with your mouth without worrying about the taste. You definitely don’t want to choose just any condom for this, as the taste of many will not be an improvement. However, there are several brands that make flavored condoms for this very purpose. Or, if you have a flavored lube that you enjoy, you can try pairing it with an unlubricated condom.

If you are comfortable enough with the taste to do a little experimenting, you and your partner can always discuss dietary changes that are said to improve the taste of ejaculate (less meats & beer, more fruits & veggies). Or you can try aiming at parts of the  mouth without tastebuds (back of the throat, under the tongue, etc).

“It makes me gag.” 

Repeat after me: “The partner who is performing fellatio is in control.” They should have the power to decide how much penis is entering their mouth, how quickly or how forceful, and when to take a break or stop altogether. If you are the receptive partner, thrusting, pushing the other person’s head down, or “mouth fucking” are off limits unless your partner explicitly gives you the okay. If thrusting is a reflexive action when climaxing, wrapping a hand around the base of the penis will help limit the depth of insertion and prevent activating the gag reflex. This is also a helpful technique to use with well-endowed partners.

What about deep throating? We obviously do not live in a Deep Throat fantasy land where a woman’s clitoris is at the back of her throat. In fact, not only does the performing partner not experience physical pleasure, but gagging is almost guaranteed and bruising is possible if the insertive partner is too rough. Still, it’s a huge turn on for some individuals — men and women alike. If you are interested in trying the deep throat technique, start by finding a position that creates a straight path from your open mouth to your throat. (Lying on your back with your head hanging slightly over the edge of the bed is common. You can still control the action by pulling your partner into you.) Also, relax. You may never be able to master your gag reflex, but it will certainly be easier if you can remain calm.

“My jaw gets sore.” 

As someone who is pretty sure she has a mild case of TMJ (an often painful disorder of the jaw joint or surrounding muscles), believe me…I understand. In my experience, variety is key. Forget the idea that a blow job is only ‘sticking a penis in your mouth and moving up and down.’ If your jaw starts to get sore, take a break! Rely on your hands for a while, or move to an area where you can concentrate on licking more than sucking. For many men, the urethral opening or meatus, frenulum (where the foreskin attaches), and corona (the ridge around the glans) are all sweet spots for this type of stimulation. Ask your partner if they like their testicles being touched or licked during oral sex — same with their (clean) perineum or anus. Maybe, despite everything popular magazines would have you believe, they even enjoy some light nibbling! Don’t be afraid to mix it up. It’ll relieve your jaw of a lot of physical stress and keep you feeling enthusiastic about what you’re doing.

Closing words for the receptive partner… 

Recognize that your partner may still be turned off by the idea of giving oral sex. Make sure that you are really hearing what they have to say on the matter. Are they willing to find a compromise under certain circumstances — or is that action completely off the table? For a pleasurable experience, everyone involved has to want the sexual activity in question. Do not try and pressure, force, or coerce a partner into anything they are uncomfortable with. Think about it: How sexy is it, really, if the person you’re with is miserable?