Steampunk is sexy. Naughty girls in dirty lace and goggled heroes committing indiscriminate acts of derring-do are the stuff of great adventure and epic fantasy. Which makes Steampunk Erotica simply the next logical step. So let’s look at some of the ways steampunk can get cozy with its erotic side and maybe offer a little inspiration along the way.
Victorians loved their gadgets. The Industrial Revolution brought with it a mania for electricity and clockwork. Doctors tired of manually treating women for “hysteria” eventually turned to a device that could achieve in minutes what it took them hours of work to bring about: the g-spot orgasm. The vibrator was considered the miracle cure for all that ailed the Victorian woman. The advertisements promoted them for back health, and headaches, but they also mentioned vibrating chairs… Imagine what joy these women could have had with even more advanced technology. And the men! Automatons have always had potential for the busy gent. Imagine a clockwork mistress for every wealthy man-about-town, and his lady at home, vibrating demurely while about her sewing. No venereal disease to worry about, and no jealousy to come between husband and wife. The sunny Victorian image of family could be a reality at last! Both parents content and sexually satisfied, and the children in the nursery, playing with gear-driven toys and dreaming of one day taking to the skies.
Thank you, Jules Verne. You brought us improbable vehicles run on steam and gears, and the harrowing adventures they led to. All the submersibles and balloons led us to the grandest quest-seeker of them all: the airship. The dream of flight was a heady one in the nineteenth century, and mastering the skies was the great dream of men (and some women) everywhere. It’s only logical that our heroes of the time-that-never-was would gallivant over Europe in ships run on sheer will. And who could crew such magnificent vessels but the most sturdy and able-bodied men and women the Victorian era wishes it produced? From the staid and mysterious Phileas Fogg to Abney Park’s one and only Captain Robert, airship pilots can be counted on for competence, courage, and creativity. They navigated a country and community of flight, whether in service of the Queen, or in rebellion against her. They were soldiers, adventurers, rogues, and scoundrels. And, well, there’s something about a man in leather hanging from the rigging…
Which leads us to corsets. So many corsets. And as if the corset isn’t hot enough, put a redhead woman in it and give her a revolver. The women of steampunk are not interested in parlours and dance cards: they have inventions to finish, terrain to cross, or men to save. And damn it, they’re going to look good doing it. It doesn’t matter that they show up covered in coal dust with their hair unbound and their skirts torn: they calmly accept whatever adventures come upon them and, like Scarlett O’Hara, they can shoot straight if they don’t have to shoot far. Part of the appeal is, of course, that you know they’re not supposed to be doing this. For all of the differences between the lady of high adventure and the “angel of the house” one thing doesn’t change: the corset stays on. And the corset is the archetypal symbol of feminine repression in the Victorian landscape. Therefore, it is all the more delicious when some make it into a uniform for rebellion.
And after all, what punk really all comes down to is rebellion. The Victorian era was one of incredible oppression and deep and wide class divides. The people below the wealthy middle class could not even dream of escaping the lives they led, so they read the adventures of people who were doing what they never could. Steampunk is the descendent of those tales. Although Verne was always more interested in technological wonders and the hope they could bring, H. G. Wells was more realistic, using his adventure stories to decry some aspect of his world he knew was unfair. And every man and woman in these stories who dons the goggles or shortens the skirt is spitting in the face of the world that raised them. By taking to the skies or freeing the people of the streets, they use their extraordinary talents to bring grief to an establishment that would rather see them dead. It’s moving, thrilling, and arousing. They are people we want to be. They are people we want in our beds and they are the stuff of erotic fantasy of the highest order.