There’s a definitive line separating erotica from porn for writer Kwame Stephens. According to him, it all comes down to a compelling plot — something he’s aiming for with Dark Hard Chocolate, his collection of sexy short stories about ebony dudes getting it on.
He’s never found a shortage of black men in conventional spank-bank material, but what’s always been missing, in his eyes, was a representation of the black-on-black experience in Toronto. True to the city’s diversity, Chocolate features men from Jamaica, Ghana, South Africa and Canada, each at a different phase in negotiating his sexuality.
“Street” follows a young guy who ends up working as a stripper after his mother finds porn on his phone and kicks him out. “Thabo’s Secret” looks at a couple struggling to negotiate their sexual relationship when one of them refuses to suck dick. The title story picks up where Stephens’s 2011 play Man 2 Man left off, reconnecting readers with Damien and Emmanuel: two guys who met and fell in love at church, now about to get hitched and head out on their honeymoon.
The stories, in keeping with Stephens’s tenets on erotica, aren’t pure wank material. His characters struggle with family, abuse, loss, health, history and cultural identity. With all those extra issues, is Dark Hard Chocolate pure intellectual stimulation or something you can genuinely get off to?
“How can you tell a black gay story without talking about dick and ass?” Stephens asks with a laugh. “Seriously though, you should have some lube and tissues available while reading.”