Pandas, Vibrators, And Bai Ling: The 4th Annual That’s Shanghai Erotic Fiction Competition

The lovely judges (from left to right) Bai Ling, Monica Liau, and Linda Jaivin (photo by Anthony Tao)


It’s not just every night that I walk into Glamour Bar and hear someone talking about figs mixing with the juices from their crotch. Well, all right, pretty much any time that I went I could hear that, but it’s too expensive for my nightly apertif. Still, an old friend was in town and wanted to meet there, and after all, it was only five minutes from my office, so I found myself at 3 on the Bund listening to all of the erotic fictions that Shanghai — and even one from Beijing – has to offer.

I regretted, momentarily, that I hadn’t submitted an entry myself. After all, eros is about play, and I like playing, especially with the sensuous form of Shanghai (albeit a form that lately has seemed a bit cold and dirty, but then, that’s what happens to lovers, with age). I ordered a gin and tonic and started chatting to some ladies I knew (I had interviewed with one of them for a job, and then accidentally run over a small dog on my bike, with her riding on the back seat), while waiting for J. to arrive.

In my younger days (I’m 27) Shanghai was a palette for my most extravagant ideas about eros (and fiction); in fact, I convinced myself that Shanghai is a fiction, it doesn’t actually exist, it’s just a stage set for unrealizable ambitions. Sex can only make it better… or, at least, relieve the monotony. So I was prepared to relive erotic reveries while listening to the storytellers in this place which recalled to me nights of whirling and staring across the room, black dresses, and people falsely claiming to be models. Sadly, the night began with a distasteful man describing his preference for anal sex; which is fine, but I’d really rather not think about it. Eroticism is supposed to be a bit subtle, I guess; it decidedly is not a synonym for fucking.

Boredly gazing through the crowd, next to That’s editor and emcee Ned Kelly, who was wearing a suit made out of red tablecloths, and judges Linda Jaivin and Monica Liau, I noticed a familiar face: actress Bai Ling, a pioneer of Asian erotic journalism — in fact, the first Asian woman to appear on the cover of Playboy [NSFW]. Some friends of mine who do fashion are obsessed with this person, partly because she has a face from outer space. My evening immediately gained coherence: I would take a goofy photo with Bai Ling and send it to my friends in New York. The stories continued… about pandas, about whores with hearts of gold who nonetheless give corrupt cops AIDS, marking this on the mirror with lipstick (so basically, a page from the copy of “101 urban legends” from the middle school library, plus Hengshan Road in the 90s), and most vividly, about aliens who had sex with strangers in M1NT. As the competition heated up, Danielle Leclerc and Anthony Tao got physical, playing rock-paper-scissors to resolve a tie for the rights to a vibrator. The writer of the story about aliens, Meredith, rightly won the performance and audience prizes (both vibrators); although I would have liked to hear the famous shark tank in M1NT get a shout out.

Things wrapped up, my dream of Bai Ling giving me a photo op came true… J. and I headed to the burlesque club where she’d danced for years, as I began, ever the romantic dreamer, to send Weixin messages to Bai Ling. And on to another year of erotic fictions…

Jacob Dreyer’s first book, The Nocturnal Wanderer, is upcoming from Eros Press. You can reach him at

The author with Bai Ling

The author with Bai Ling


Ned Kelly in his very red suit

That’s editor Ned Kelly in his very red suit


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