They Canceled the Bad Sex in Fiction Awards, so We Made Our Own

Authors from T Kira Madden to Rebecca Makkai fill the gap (if you will) with their own awful sex scenes

A woman in a purple satin bathrobe reading a book
Photo by Tasos Mansour
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We’ve learned to live without a lot this year—movie theaters, indoor dining, Thanksgiving with family, bars. But the news that Literary Review would be canceling the annual Bad Sex in Fiction awards was too much to take lying down (as it were). The judges offered the justification that “the public had been subjected to too many bad things this year to justify exposing it to bad sex as well,” but come on—the bad things we’ve weathered in 2020 are exactly the reason we need to laugh and cringe at phrases like “Her vaginal ratchet moved in concertina-like waves, slowly chugging my organ as a boa constrictor swallows its prey.” Where will we get our vaginal ratchets now???

Well, we’ll have to invent our own.

The Literary Review judges admonished writers not to take the cancellation as “a license to write bad sex”—but they abandoned us in our time of need so we don’t have to listen to them. In the spirit of the awards, which have gone to such luminaries as Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer, we’ve assembled a group of extremely legitimate writers. Not at all in the spirit of the awards, we’ve asked them to deliberately write something embarrassing and awful. (We’ve also included one actually-published scene, from Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi, but he volunteered it!) The results are hysterically funny, mildly-to-extremely upsetting, and not at all hot, which is exactly what we’d hoped for. Also, one of them has an interactive element, which we could never have predicted. At this Bad Sex in Fiction awards ceremony, we all win.


T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls

Georgia used to knock my rocks in the Oregon Theater. On the big screen porno girls squeaked like rubber pool toys on the hot, balmy, iridescent, saccharine summer days of my youth, vibrant beach balls buoyant in the chlorinated water which—come to think of it—remind me of Georgia’s breasts in her Contempo Casuals halter top, the one she wore the first time she dove down into the cave of me like a spelunking girl in The Descent, my ankles around the C of her neck, hooked all the way around, the tectonic edging of that O—that’s right—that’s how it was before I opined about retirement plans and a shared family sofa and she screwed off, like, chill, like, you’re ruining it, but before that we had days in the AC of the Oregon Theater sprawled out in the roped off Couple’s Section, everyone jealous (no one was jealous) the squelch of Georgia’s desire as she snapped the nylon harness around my hips saying this doesn’t exactly even fit, the tip of my silicone dick dipped in corn starch for better friction (and quality assurance) see I had her once, had love, had a lover, had a glistening purpose right in my lap, the way she called me daddy before the theater shuttered last year, an artisanal tea shop, now, where the building once stood, where my slick candied destiny once lived before melting like a cheap lawn chair—all tongue and hope and America! that’s the kind of love it was!—come to think of it, the pool toys always had bite marks in them. 

Alissa Nutting, author of Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls

He took off my panties and parted my outer lips. “Open up, little piggy bank,” he whispered; “let’s see if we can find any stray quarters!” His searching fingers pushed inside me, probing my walls as if hunting for spare change. I grabbed the tip of his cock and ran my fingers across the papercut of his urethra until the tiniest bead of precum appeared. “You’re drooling,” I said to his cock. “Perhaps there’s something you’d like to say?” With my index finger and thumb, I pretended to make its drillhole open and close like a tiny mouth. “If that’s the bank, then I’d like to make a deposit of valuable cum,” I mumbled in my best ventriloquist voice. He let out a moan not unlike a throaty elk bugle. “Yes,” he agreed; “my moneybags have grown so full and heavy.” I reached down and cupped his balls to confirm, weighing them in my hands. “Oh!” I replied. “Someone’s been saving up for days!” 

Courtney Maum, author of Touch

I bet we won’t even get to breakfast before my lover ravages me. My lover is actually my husband but we’re so wild for each other, even after nine months shut inside, that I’ve started to call him that: lover. Roar!

Lover knows how much I miss the croissants at Balthazar so he has bought me some at CVS from their “Last Chance!” aisle because CVS is open and Balthazar is not. I used to get the fresh squeezed grapefruit juice for eleven dollars but Tropicana makes me hot. Lover asked me if I’d dress up for him one of these long, hot mornings as the Tropicana girl and I was like, first of all, she’s underage, and also like, Hawaiian or something, and cultural appropriation is gross!

I have on the same pair of Target panties as I did last night, only inside out.

As we sit at the breakfast table that is also our workspace, I can almost feel my lover-husband’s hands between my thighs, questing for their prize. He has to get through my sweatpants and my long johns to discover my morning treat: I have on the same pair of Target panties as I did last night, only inside out.

He climbs on the table and begins wilding his way toward me, the six-pack of expired croissants and Zazzle holiday cards be damned. My lover’s tongue tastes like coffee grinds and desperation: I swallow his tongue like a stimulus check. The breakfast bell has rung.   

Kiik Araki-Kawaguchi, author of The Book of Kane and Margaret

Kane and Margaret put out their lights at six o’clock. Then at ten o’clock they revived to fuck each other with everything they assumed was the power and frenzy of a newly-married couple. Some nights Kane wrote a script. Margaret insisted the Nakamuras and Otas hear them call out disturbing things to each other. She claimed she was out to spoil their libidos. 

“You feel so tight,” Kane yelled. “God, a woman of your age. Still tight as a baby kitten.” 

“Not so deep,” Margaret exclaimed. “I’m getting raw. I’m raw as an open wound. You’re making ground hamburger of me!”

“What is that smell? Something in here smells like tanning oil and bleach.”

On nights Kane and Margaret felt too tired to make love, they lay beside each other and groaned loudly until they fell back asleep. Over time, as it felt a bit insincere to groan without touching, they held hands until their groans reverted back to snores. Shortly after the start of their routine, the two slept soundly enough so other couples never reawakened them. 

Amber Sparks, author of And I Do Not Forgive You:

He’d been with many women in his life, women of all shapes and colors and ages, but he had never been with one who moved like this. She was a shapeshifter, this young student of his; instead of multitudes, she contained animals, a stable full of them. She moved on top of him like a snake, her long gleaming body slithering, sliding, moving down his length, as he slipped in and out of her. She was a tiger, biting, roaring, tearing. She was a panda, delicately nibbling, content and placid, breasts hanging pendulous yet pert. She was the gazelle and he the apex predator, and together they rode the hotel bed like a savannah: he consuming, she submitting. As she moved through this dance of beasts, he was exhausted, invigorated, insatiable. It was like fucking Noah’s Ark. 

Jason Porter, author of Why Are You So Sad?

My nipples were pounding through my natural E cup bra like sexy worms rising from the earth after a rainstorm.

We met on the downtown express bus. I admired the geology of his firm bottom through his form fitting work chinos. It made my lady parts howl in moisture. Thank god it was too loud on the bus for anybody to notice. Except for him. He had the jawline of a foxy first term senator who had been a star in law school. I imagined his imperial chin soaking itself at the pleasure of my fresh scented labia as well as those other parts I forget the names of. Just thinking of being wet made me super wet. So wet if felt as if I alone was responsible for the rise in sea levels. As passengers boarded he made his way back to me. I could feel my nipples wanting to introduce themselves. They were pounding through my natural E cup bra like sexy worms rising from the earth after a rainstorm. We both knew we would get off at the same exit. And boy did we. We are married now. And ten years later I still adore his knowing pumps to my insatiable vagina. The end. (Whenever I dictate the words “the end” to my topless lesbian stenographer I think of his manly hindquarters, chiseled out of hot flesh, they’re just that fabulous. The end.)

Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers

The secret to a good Zoom call, Evelyn knew, was a great ring light. Waiting for Brad to join the chat, she adjusted her bosoms in her lace camisole, letting the light caress them from every direction. Lighting really was everything. She was a fruit tree, her bounty these two illuminated orbs. And suddenly, there was Brad, ready as a migrant orchard worker to harvest her fruit. 

Of course, he wasn’t really an orchard worker but a dental hygienist, one who had first won Evelyn over with his gentle caress of her gums, his deft work with the waterpik. He’d said of the mouth-suctioning tool, “We call this one Mr. Thirsty.” Then he’d said, looking deep into her soul, “Don’t swallow till I say so.” They’d only shared one wild March night on his couch (“We call this one Mr. Thirsty,” he’d said again, no dental tools in sight) before the virus forced them apart. Now he masked up daily to see patients, while she worked alone from her basement. 

Here he was, his lighting not as good as hers, but what did it matter if the shadows of his supply closet and the poor camera quality of his phone rendered him grainy and small? In these three square inches in the middle of her monitor, he was here, and he was hers, and she had ten to fifteen minutes to coax from him a stream of creamy foam, one infinitely lovelier than any of the foamy streams of toothpaste and saliva that Brad shepherded into basins all day.

Evelyn lowered the camisole and released her fruit. Here was the ripe flesh; here were the small, hard pits. The ring light ringed both breasts in rings of light. 

“I think you’re muted,” Brad said. 

“I’m not muted,” Evelyn said. 

“I can’t hear you,” Brad said. “And you’re frozen.” 

Calvin Kasulke, author of Several People Are Typing (forthcoming):

Quick caveat: The below sex scene wasn’t really written by me. It was written by a predictive text keyboard, which is just like the predictive text feature in your cell phone’s texting app—except this keyboard’s only source material is all of the Bad Sex Award-nominated scenes highlighted in Literary Review since 1993. I used this keyboard to generate a bunch of sentences, which I then lightly edited for tense-matching and punctuation. You can try it for yourself here, and learn more about the Botnik predictive keyboard here.

He was in her and sort of jiggled there.

When Pete swallowed her panties he felt her hands gripping his shoulders and guiding him into her pubic assemblage. His dick had grown inside of her vaginal corners, gyroscopically guided by little pleasure sounds.  

Thick typewriter testicles iridesced in alternation and he came hard in her mouth and pulled his tail out of her buttocks without interfering in her now restored geography.  She sucked on her genitals and he came again and he was in her and sort of jiggled there and she gasped like he was giving her a supplemental oxygen of her body. Her breasts spilled on her shoulders.

Lisa Locascio, author of Open Me

In a room choked with the smoke of hand-poured soy candles scented with cedar and Fritos, Alamar and Trudie entered their fourth hour of lovemaking. Theirs was a polyamorous relationship, very glamorous, because they were both not only disruptive tech CEOs but also heirs to great old houses of Europe, living in a funky fourteen-thousand-dollar-a-month loft decorated with many affirmations. 

Trudie’s super long hair was so abundant that she had an assistant whose sole job was picking its leavings off her pert tits and who now stood facing the wall in her hooded brown jute shroud. Alamar’s endless pecs were covered in a coat of fine, shining down that most people mistook for baby oil. They were definitely real people who loved licking each other out. 

From hole to hole their mouths roamed, serene Roombas, hoovering effluvia with no care for the clock. (It was large, and chimed their progress in the voice of Chandra, the hot AI Alamar designed as a two-week anniversary present: “Trudie is now reaching plateau ecstatic biorhythm. Increase ministrations.”) 

How rimmed each orifice, how frilly its little skin doily. Thoughtfully, Trudie had had her labia skin trimmed into mafalde, Alamar’s favorite pasta shape. Over, and over and over, and over they turned, or attempted to turn, Trudie’s shoulder almost dislocating behind her head but not, because she did so much Pilates. Alamar was hard, but her workouts were harder and it was true: nothing tasted good as being thin felt. 

She longed for him to fill her Venusian canyon with his hot love lava. But that wouldn’t be for hours yet. They were never so louche as to orgasm without first engaging in six hours of Tantric Processing™, a modality created by Alamar’s partner Dot.

“I am certain that the jealousy I feel that you began a new intermittent fasting regimen with Reginald without my permission is a sign of my unevolved spirit,” Alamar gasped, thrusting off-center, shocked by Trudie’s stubble, but trying to be a feminist about it.

They were definitely real people who loved licking each other out.

“I feel grateful for this recognition of your inherent problematics,” Trudie sighed, casting a sidelong glance at their Tibetan terrier Drone, who sat perched on her synthetic suede throne, gnawing a yoni egg. Inspired, Trudie began a series of kegels that ejected Alamar’s shrinking tumescence. In the light from the Himalayan salt lamps, his member was truly the “small log” of which bards had sung. They stared at their phones, scrolling the latest Brene Brown clips until they were horny enough to resume processing.

Kelly Conaboy, author of The Particulars of Peter

His touch was but a whisper… but the daylight was a shout. No, this wouldn’t do at all. Vanessa made her way to his exquisite drapery and asked, her honied voice dripping with honey, “How about we… close this drapery?” His response came in the form of a gruff laugh. She knew what it meant. He wanted her to close the drapery. She liked following his orders. Seductively, Vanessa untied the little decorative drapery tie, only briefly wondering if it was actually meant to be untied or if it was all just decorative and there was another way of blocking out the daylight there, like blinds, and then they were cloaked in darkness. “That’s better,” she said. He laughed. He was always laughing, in a manly way. 

She felt around in the darkness until they could feel each others warmth once again. “Touch me where it feels good,” he said. “Here?” she said, touching his shoulder. “Lower,” he said. Vanessa slid her fingers down his his bulging bicep. “Here?” she said. “Lower,” he said. She moved her fingers about an inch down his bicep. “Here?” she said. “No… much lower than that.” Okay. She crouched to the floor. “Here?” she said, touching his toes. “Well, no but… I mean, since you’re—” “Okay, here?” she said, touching the floor. “What? No—” “Here?” she said, as she picked up a floorboard. It seemed to open into a secret room. She lowered herself into the ground as he watched her, hard as a rock. “HERE?” she said once she was completely hidden within the floor. “No!” he shouted down at her, “I can’t even see what you’re touching!” But it was too late. He already came.

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