Charles Bukowski on the worst sex of his life.

Written by Cole Schafer


Writers have been trying and failing to write about sex for decades.

This might be from lack of sexual prowess, cultural taboos or simply tremendous difficulty in finding the words to describe the act in such a way that doesn’t read like a raunchy PornHub title.

Regardless, even the world’s greatest writers seem to draw blanks when their characters find themselves stumbling into the bedroom.

Ernest Hemingway would often pass over these acts in his books entirely, leaving the reader’s imagination to fill in the gaps.

While this forgoing seems to have worked out quite well for him, I think it was more of a crutch rather than some sort of well thought out literary strategy.

Two writers who wrote extensively on the subject of sex were Charles Bukowski and James Salter.

Bukowski wrote of sex with a brashness that at times feels like you’re reading a beautiful train wreck you can’t pry your eyes away from. While Salter, approached sex poetically, almost whimsically, leaving the reader feeling as if she is trapped in a dream.

To put it bluntly, Bukowski fucked and Salter made love.

In this piece, we will be focusing on the former…

It’s nearly impossible to get a dozen pages into any of Bukowski’s novels and not find yourself peering, sheepishly, over your shoulders.

However, a jarring passage I recently read in Factotum, sums up his visceral sex scenes wonderfully…

Warning: this isn’t for the squeamish.

*Charles Bukowski is writing now*

"My penis rose; she groaned, bit me.

I screamed, grabbed her by the hair, pulled her off. I stood in the center of the room wounded and terrified…

Before I could move she was down on her knees and on me again. She gripped my balls mercilessly with both of her hands.

Her mouth opened, she had me; her head bobbed, sucked, jerked. Giving my balls a tremendous yank while almost biting my pecker in half she forced me to the floor…

I felt as if I were being eaten by a pitiless animal. My pecker rose, covered with spittle and blood. The sight of it threw her into a frenzy. I felt as if I was being eaten alive.

If I come, I thought desperately, I’ll never forgive myself.

As I reached down to try to yank her off by the hair, she clutched my balls again and squeezed them without pity. Her teeth scissored midpoint on my penis as if to slice me in two.

I screamed, let go of her hair, fell back.

Her head bobbed remorselessly. I was certain the sucking could be heard all over the roominghouse.

“NO!” I yelled.

She persisted with inhuman fury.

I began to come. It was like sucking the insides out of a trapped snake. Her fury was mixed with madness; she sucked at that sperm, gurgling it into her throat.

She continued to bob and suck.

“Martha! Stop! It’s over!”

She wouldn’t. It was as if she had been turned into an enormous all-devouring mouth.

She continued to suck and bob.

She went on, on.

“NO” I yelled again…

This time she got it like a vanilla malt through a straw.”

Jesus Christ.

*Cole is typing again *

Charles Bukowski reminds writers that art can be made from life’s good, bad and ugly, and that in the circumstances where we are faced with the bad and the ugly… describe them with as much exuberance as we would the good.

But, I digress.

By Cole Schafer (but mostly Charles Bukowski).

P.S. If you’re more of a romantic, I highly recommend you explore how James Salter’s writing style on the subject of sex differed drastically from Bukowski’s.