Songbirds and Genuine Chemistry – More Flappers Inspiration

Cover for Flappers, Jazz and Valentino - edited by Jillian Boyd and published by House of Erotica

Continuing the Flappers, Jazz and Valentino release fest, we’re talking about inspiration behind the stories. Blair Erotica and Annabeth Leong share what made them submit to the anthology.

The story ofSongbird by Blair Erotica

Ziegfried Follies publicity shot of Fanny/Fannie Brice - photographer unknown and uncredited
Fannie/Fanny Brice, in a Ziegfield Follies publicity shot.

I grew up listening to music of all types and many of my favourite tunes came from the twenties. I devoured biographies of the musicians and singers. Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Fannie Brice and Sophie Tucker all left their mark on me. So, when I heard about this anthology, the first thing I thought of was the music and the people who performed it.
My brain can’t separate the twenties from New York, Chicago and Paris. It’s as if those are the only places where the twenties really happened. That’s another fiction, of course, but it holds a truth. For jazz musicians of the era, and especially for the black musicians and singers, Paris was the place they could be truly recognized as performers. Race music was just music there. That meant that the freedoms that came with such a roar in the twenties were amplified for black performers in Paris. And if the twenties was about anything, it was about pushing the limits of the social envelope.
My story attempts to capture the joy, the confusion, and even uncertainty, that came with that upheaval. The little songbird finds her way in an increasingly crazy world.

Excerpt from Songbird

Maurice had found the knots on the thin straps on her dress and in the soft light he undid them with painstaking slowness as Francine kissed her, putting her soft red lips on Isa’s and kissing her more tenderly than she could ever recall being kissed. Maurice slipped the top of her dress down and the night air ran thrillingly over her bare nipples. Francine touched her breast, then bent her face down to suck the erect nipple into her mouth. Maurice stood behind her, his breath hot on her neck, his hands warm, gentle and exiting as he slowly pulled her dress down over her hips.
Surrounded by this exciting city her new friends were taking her on a new adventure that made her grow moist in anticipation.
Maurice removed her dress and then stooped to remove her panties while Francine undid her own straps and let her dress slip down her body and form a puddle of silk on the ground, leaving her pale body naked and beautiful. Isa put her hand on the white skin of her breast, ran the tip of her finger over the pink nipple and watched it grow hard.
“I’ve never made love to a woman,” she said softly.
“I will enjoy introducing you to many new pleasures,” Francine said and kissed her again, this time more fiercely. Maurice and trailed a string of kisses soft as pearls down Isa’s back until he reached her buttocks and then he knelt and kissed them in turn as his hands melted her inner thighs.
Her legs grew weak as they swept her into the apartment and onto a downy bed. She floated on it naked with her legs apart as Francine climbed up, knelt head to toe with her and lowered her face to Isa’s pussy. She cried out at the first touch of the woman’s hot tongue as it delicately parted her cunt and favoured her with its loving heat.
Maurice stood by the bed stroking her thigh and watching Francine eat her. The magical things that Francine was doing to her, touching in new ways and in exciting places that seemed to never have been touched before, were transporting her. She wanted to come, but she wanted to float this way in this sensuous pleasure garden forever and never come. Gerald had a wonderful tongue, lips that savoured a woman’s flesh, but Francine was a witch.
She looked up. Francine’s hungry cunt was above her and she thought she should touch it, kiss it, but she didn’t want to break the spell. Then Maurice moved behind his lady. He knelt on the bed and brought his face to her ass. She watched his hands and tongue as they opened Francine’s pussy and began to excite her.
What Maurice was doing made Francine redouble her efforts, probing inside Isa with urgent fingers. She could linger in her lovely limbo and Isa sank back in the downy mattress and let paradise come to her, which it did, with a rush, and the sound of drums pounding out a primal beat.
Hands and mouths worked over her body and then Maurice was lifting her legs. She opened her eyes and saw him naked. He had a long and magnificently hard prick. Francine had Isa’s legs, bending her in half, pulling Isa’s legs back toward her as Maurice rubbed the head of his cock on her cunt before working it into her tender flesh and driving into the wetness inside.
Francine put her fingers where they touched Isa’s cunt and brushed against his cock as he took Isa for the first time. “Beautiful,” Francine said with glee.
It was that and more.
The night became a blur of flesh on hot flesh, of tongues and fingers. She remembered the salty, musky taste on her tongue she got when she buried her face between Francine’s legs and licked her, feeling the woman’s long fingers hands press her head tight into her hungry pussy. She lost count of the kisses, embraces. She wasn’t sure of the number of times Maurice spent in her. The delicious night was unreal and surreally beautiful, like she imagined an opium dream might be.

Fascination Leads to “Genuine Chemistry” – by Annabeth Leong

The gorgeous cover of Flappers, Jazz, and Valentino caught my eye right away—there’s a way that I wanted to write a story as soon as I saw that woman’s haircut. As I began to research the era, however, what drew me in the most were the fascinating contradictions of the 20s.

Let’s talk perfume. Here’s a fascinating quote from the Wikipedia article on the iconic Vintage ad for Chanel No5 - CCscent Chanel No. 5:

“Traditionally, fragrance worn by women had adhered to two basic categories. Respectable women favored the pure essence of a single garden flower. Sexually provocative perfumes heavy with animal musk or jasmine were associated with women of the demi-monde, prostitutes or courtesans.[2] Chanel felt the time was right for the debut of a scent that would epitomize the modern flapper that would speak to the liberated spirit of the 1920s.”

Chanel No. 5 blended the floral scent associated with innocence with the sexually charged musk. Similar changes were happening for women in all kinds of ways—no respectable woman would have worn makeup at the beginning of the decade, but by the end of it, they did. At the beginning of the decade, underwear was still an elaborate Victorian getup, but the 20s also witnessed daring bathing suits that left women barelegged.

I wanted to write something about the increasing sexual freedom of the time while also remaining conscious of class and other constraints. My main character in “Genuine Chemistry” has carved out a niche in a small town that allows for a transformation from Renée to Rennie, accompanied by a change to trousers and utilitarian short hair. Over the course of the story, however, it becomes clear that there’s only so much leniency Rennie will get from the neighbors—and it doesn’t extend to loud sex with the beautiful, high-class heiress Mira Van Womack.

Mira has troubles of her own. Her wealth and status afford her a certain amount of freedom, but not enough that she feels free to admit her true sexual orientation.

Rennie and Mira are able to step outside the expectations of society to a certain degree—and the rollicking atmosphere of the 20s has made a lot of that possible—but the real challenge for them is whether they can step outside enough to find a place where they can be together.

I loved writing about them—and I especially loved the research process. I got to look at all sorts of great pictures, collect a bunch of interesting slang, and don’t even get me started on the cars…

Excerpt from Genuine Chemistry

The first time I saw her, she was leaning against a bright red Duesenberg, and I remember thinking that the bowtie shape of its front bumper matched the curve of her upper lip exactly. Her short hair wasn’t like mine. Far from utilitarian, it was crimped into feminine waves that flowed over one side of her forehead. The chassis – on the woman or the car, take your pick – was the sort of sweet elegance that could make a man cry. She’d painted her face boldly, and there was a world-weariness in her eyes that belied the softness of her cheeks and jaw. She looked expensive. She looked like trouble. She was looking at me.
I’d just finished a long shift at the factory. Machine grease fouled my hands and probably my face as well, and I’d been looking forward to canned corned beef and an early bedtime. Since the heat had come for my brother, I hadn’t been much for company. Ducking my head, I tried to blend in with the others.
“Are you Renée Savona?” I froze at the sound of my original, female name, pronounced with a French “r” that tarted it up beyond recognition.
The boys started razzing me, of course. “Oh!” One joker shouted with a fake Parisian accent, hand placed dramatically over his chest. “Oh, Renée! Renée, you must cherish my poor heart!”
I glared at him, but there was no hiding now. I shoved toward her. “You can call me Rennie.”
“Care to go for a ride, Rennie?”
The entire work force whistled at that, and I narrowed my eyes. I couldn’t believe she was innocent of the spectacle she was making, a Sheba at the gates of a factory after-hours. To get by without incident, I habitually piped down about the details of my life, but this bird apparently flew by a different philosophy. I considered refusing her request, but I’d learned a long time ago that money can be dangerous, and she obviously had plenty. Not to mention that the thought of sitting beside her in that luxury vehicle – well, let’s just say that if the car weren’t a self-starter, I would have been.
I lifted my chin at her. “Where to?”
“Just a meeting.”
The guys stiffened up at that. I hadn’t taken her for a gangster’s moll, but I looked again. My dabbling with moonshine had never seemed significant enough to get the attention of the big boys, but I’d had to rethink a lot since my brother’s trip to the Big House. “A meeting where?”
“Can’t you play along?”
If she’d been offering a game of struggle buggy in the backseat of that Duesy, I could have played with the best of them, but there were plenty of other games I’d worked hard to avoid. I stepped closer. “You’re not making it easy, sweetheart. What’s your name?”
She told me, and I almost fell over. Mira Van Womack was no gangster’s moll. As the widow of Albrecht Van Womack, she’d inherited The Heavens, the most elegant of the palatial summer “cottages” in Newport. The house – and the fortune that went with it – was so famous that even I’d heard of it. There were songs on the radio that referred to it, and to her.
“You’d better close your mouth and get in the car,” Mira said. I was so stunned that I did.

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