By now the format of Clayton Cubitt's "Hysterical Literature" video series has become well-known to its sizeable audience. The tasteful black-and-white setup of a woman sitting at a table never changes. Although the length of the videos vary, the end result never does: The woman reads aloud from a literary work of her choice, while an unseen partner pleasures her with a vibrator beneath the table until she climaxes onscreen, often in the middle of a breathy word. For the most part, the women are Everywomen, not particularly famous and known only by their first name.
Until now, that is.
Yesterday, famed comedian Margaret Cho joined the roster of women who've shared their love of literature and erotic encounters with us on YouTube. Cho took time away from defending her recent onstage "outing" of John Travolta to indulge in a little sexual exploration of her own. She also moved the series away from modern literature toward real erotica for the first time since the series opened, with noted erotic actress and model Stoya reading from the Necrophilia Variations.
Cho reads from The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, the first of Anne Rice's popular erotic Sleeping Beauty trilogy, originally written and published under the pseudonym A.N. Roquelaure. It's interesting that Cho, an outspoken feminist, has chosen a book often decried as anti-feminist for its portrayal of the heroine and her male comrades as slaves destined to submit to a system of servitude, submission, and ultimately the patriarchy itself.
Then again, it's also has been described as "an elegant comedy, albeit one peppered with whipping, slave auctions, and pony play."
Certainly Rice's words made Cho laugh—although that was partly due to what was happening under the table. It could also have been due to the scene Cho chooses to read, in which the heroine, Beauty, licks the boots of the prince to whom she's been ordered to submit, then visits a banquet hall full of submissive slaves like herself.
Like several of her predecessors, Cho attempts to read as much of the passage as she can before her focus leaves her altogether. This leads to her punctuating many of her words with outright cackles, like when she nobly soldiers through the line, "Leon had removed the small sealing wax from her secret core of pleasure, and she felt the first stirring of desire."
Ultimately, it's the comedy of the moment, as much as pleasure, that sends us over the edge along with Cho—a fitting continuation to a series that's explored a range of female desire, but never with quite so much laughter.
Screengrab via claytoncubitt/YouTube