RULES FOR READERS: How To Slam Successfully

It’s always good to have new readers at a DSW slam. Well, nearly always. So far, with over 20 gigs having taken place, I’ve only had to step in and call a halt to someone’s performance once. (No need to go into identifying detail. The offender won’t be asked back and is unlikely to show up at anyone else’s slams, either.) I would have to admit that the fault on that occasion was partly mine, because I clearly didn’t give that person enough guidance before the slam took place.

Helen J Perry has some very good advice for live readings, so I won’t rehash her points on technique and practicalities, but I do think it’s worth bearing in mind the following suggestions if you’re going to be a live reader.



Photo taken at Smut Manchester last October.


  • Consider your audience.
    Is this an open-to-all fiction slam, or is it a slot at a fetish fair? Unless the bulk of the audience – or the whole lot of them – are people you know are open-minded, sex-positive and kink-friendly, skip the hardcore breathplay, dubcon or cock’n’ball torture.
  • Don’t frighten the horses or attract the po-po.
    What you choose to write, for your own pleasure and that of readers who are going to buy your book or browse your website, is up to you, particularly if you self-publish. If you’re performing your work at an event, stay off the sort of stuff that most mainstream erotica publishers don’t like and that has potential to cause trouble for everyone in the venue: no incest, underage participants, bestiality or extreme violence.
  • Try to aim for a couple of laughs
    That doesn’t mean you have to take the piss out of your work or the genre, of course, but if you can manage a humorous moment or two in the extract you read, it’s going to make the audience warm to you. If your writing tends towards the bleak or disturbing, be extra careful with what you choose. People attending slams generally want to have a good time and maybe get a little turned on rather than face the horror and futility of human existence.
  • Enjoy it
    It’s supposed to be fun.

If you’re tempted to have a go, get in touch, obviously…

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