She’s On Top

Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Reviewed by Coco La Creme

When I was asked to review She’s On Top for I felt like quite the lucky girl indeed.   Read a book full of sexy stories and write about it? 

Uh, yes please! 

Having read Cleis Press collections in the past I knew to expect strong storytelling with a sharp erotic edge.  What I did not expect was that She’s on Top, a collection of stories about female dominance and male submission put together by star erotic editrix Rachel Kramer Bussel, would make me examine the subject of female dominance in a whole new way.  From beginning to end this book is packed with stories that titillate and provoke the mind just as much as they do the tender parts below. 

Exploring themes of feminism, sex work, communication and relationships from a dominant female perspective, She’s on Top places compelling characters into relatable dilemmas.  What kinky person can’t relate to the frustration of having a partner who won’t come clean with their desires?  The toxicity created when communication and honesty are lacking in a D/s relationship is laid bare in the story His Just Rewards written by the editor herself.  As the main character metes out the final punishment to a submissive that she no longer loves, or respects, her helpless rage at the wasted potential of their relationship is palpable. 

The above story stands in contrast to the humourously presented dilemma of the couple in The Queening Chair whose love for each other overcomes the fact that they are both hardcore dominants who must, for the most part, get their sexual needs met outside of their partnership.  Both stories are vivid and unabashed in their descriptions of kinky sex but while they’ll each have your hand sneaking below your waistband, the issues they explore will linger on long after the orgasmic bliss subsides.

Also noteworthy is the number of stories examining sex work and the different perspectives that they offer.  In The Mistress Meets her Match by Kristina Wright we meet Kate a professional Domme who is happy in her work but unfulfilled in her personal life.  The sex she has with her lover Stephen is flat and passionless until he helps her realize that in trying to create the necessary separation between sex life and work life she is cutting out too much of herself.  When she accepts that the kinky play isn’t just for her clients to enjoy their sex life soars to new heights. 

In contrast, the professional in Room 2201, by N.T. Morley, is keenly aware that her clients help satisfy her own need for adventure.  She delights in taking them right to the edge and even gets her own bisexual lover in on the fun.  Finally, there is the privileged and curious college student in Shades of Red by Lisabet Sarai, who decides to experiment with sex work by renting a window for a night in Amsterdam’s Red Light District.  Her experience dominating a novice trick is just as much a revelation for her as it is for him.  Financially unconstrained she is free to use sex work as means to act out and discover her own desires.

There is so much more that this collection has to offer.  Lisette Ashton’s Victoria’s Hand in which a 19th century society girl humourously puts her future husband in his place.  The workplace dalliances of Suit and Tie by Donna George Storey as well as Pinch by Tara Alton which are encapsulated by necessity but no less intense for their short duration.  The domestic bliss of the couple in By a Firm Hand by Debra Hyde in which the wife delights in humiliating her pantywaist husband and they both look forward to her becoming even more wicked as they happily grow old together. 

The authors selected for this collection while disparate in fetish, storytelling style, and tone, nevertheless have one thing in common: the keen desire and ability to explore the female dominant mind.  To present honestly the drug-like rush that results when you realize that a vulnerable and trusting human being has revealed to you their darkest desires.  The responsibility that is felt towards a submissive who has given themselves completely over to your hand to pleasure and punish as you see fit.  The dire consequences and incredible rewards of pushing yourself to the absolute limit in the pursuit of ultimate sexual fulfillment.  And, of course, the humour and silliness that is just as much a part of BDSM as the pleasure and the pain. 

If you want to see where it is possible to go, how deep and dark the waters can get, then take the time to savour this collection.  These women are dominant, unapologetic, and deliciously sex.  These stories can be enjoyed by both tops and bottoms.  Inspire your own sex life with the cerebrally sexy She’s On Top.

COCO LA CRÈME is a dazzling shaker and maker who performs burlesque both as a solo artist and with Skin Tight Outta Sight.  She has a reputation as a go-go dancer of legendary stamina and sex appeal.  CoCo teaches burlesque at the Good For Her sex shop, is a published poet, has moderated the panel at the Feminist Porn Awards for the past six years, and writes a column Love Coco at

Tune in to Wednesday August 24, 2011 for an interview with Rachel Kramer Bussel and a photo essay of Coco La Creme dominating her slave. 


About Black Coffee Poet

Black Coffee Poet is a mixed race poet, essayist, and journalist who focuses on Social Justice, Indigenous Rights, STOPPING Violence Against Women, Film, and Literature.
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