by Shelley Munro, futuristic (2006)
Ellora's Cave, $5.95, ISBN 1-4199-0424-8
Sex Idol is exactly what you imagine it to be: a book version of surely one of many adult films "satirizing" that you-know-what TV show. Set in the "near future", that TV show has taken the country by storm. Sasha Greenacre, one half of one of the most successful teams in the sex competition circuit, actually opens a successful school where you can sign up and learn better coital skills to win contests. She'll go around reprimanding her students when they are not performing oral sex on each other up to her high and exacting standards, "Have you both climaxed? No? I want to see at least one orgasm each before the timer goes." After all, she wants her team to win the contest this year.
Oh look, I can see some people wondering how they can sign up themselves or their significant others for this school already. Don't look at me, people, I am not the author of this story.
Sarah's partner - former partner, actually - is Antonio "That Man Is Hunkermondous!" Perez. They break up both professionally and not-so-professionally when she realizes that she's falling in love with him and love can get in the way of a professionally choreographed sex session. She ends up becoming a professional coach after retiring from the competition circuit. You know, people always tell me that dancing and sex are very similar. I never really understand what they are telling me until I read this story, I tell you.
As Sarah gets ready to push her students for the big O, she gets an unusual request from Tony: this year, he wants her to train him for Sex Idol, apparently the contest that every professional fu- I mean, sex-er wants to win. Apparently Tony wants to retire with a big bang - no pun intended - and winning Sex Idol is the way to do this.
And then Sasha agrees on the condition that he gives her a baby and my mood deflates faster that the poor fellow in that crucial scene in that movie The Crying Game.
Still, this book is funny. I love the fact that there is a chaperon in the school to make sure that nothing funny is going on while you are going down on your fellow student. I don't know what to say when Antonio trains for the solo category and talks about hitting targets held by members of the audience. I really don't know what to say when Sasha tells him that the best way to get into the voters' heart - for the want of a better word - is to show them a "clear view of every ridge and vein in a cock and the glistening hood of the clitoris". I try to imagine how that will look and I fear I will have some nightmares of being chased by giant penises when I sleep tonight. I am also tickled pink by the fact that kissing is a no-no on these sex contests because you can die from the "kissing virus". Alright then. Just lube up and stick ten of them up the backdoor and we'll call it safe sex as long as we don't kiss. Got it.
As for the romance, I am not sure. For example, Antonio wants to have Sarah back in his life as partner and more. Ms Munro fails to show me why he can't just send her flowers instead of having to go through all the pretense of wanting to be taught by Sarah and, worse, getting his professional partner Bridget to show up under the pretense that she's still his partner. Since when is having sex with another woman in front of the woman you want to woo a reliable way to win that woman's heart? This man seems to be purposely setting himself up for all kinds of unnecessary problems. What's wrong with flowers and a nicely-worded card asking Sarah to reestablish their professional and personal relationship? Worse, Antonio says that honor forbids him to sever his professional relationship with Bridget. What honor? It's spelled "C-O-N-T-R-I-V-A-N-C-E"!
There's a subplot about a guy pressuring Sarah for all kinds of "You'll be mine! Bwa-ha-ha!" fun but frankly, the romance is far from the best thing about this story. The characters often behave in ways that are unnecessarily tortuous or designed to complicate matters in a contrived manner. Failure to communicate is a frequent problem in the story. Late in the story, Antonio experiences a little bit of epiphany which suggests that he may be a little bit more human than the walking adult movie cartoon character I think of him as but on the whole, the characters remain one-dimensional.
Sex Idol is more interesting as a novelty read because some of the scenarios in this story are inspired in how funny and twisted they are, such as the kissing virus thing. Unfortunately, the Sex Idol contest doesn't feature acerbic judges who say things like, "You call that shagging? You need a penis pump! I can tell she's faking it. Absolutely dreadful!" Instead, it's all about people cheering when Antonio blasts Sarah right in the chest and gets what I suppose are bonus points from the audience for being a perfect shot.
Sex Idol isn't a bad book but it's better as a story to read and gawk at in an "I don't believe this!" manner since anyone looking for a love story will most likely be disappointed by how contrived the romance between Antonio and Sarah is. Then again, I suspect many people won't be looking for a love story when they pick up something with a title like Sex Idol. You know me, I'm probably too much of a Simon Cowell for my own good, so who knows, if you're in the mood, you'll get all Paula Abdul over this book. For what it's worth, I love many of the scenarios the author has set up in her dirty futuristic world. I just wish I love the story and the characters just as much.
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