A lot of intellectual nonsense gets written about the differences between pornography and erotica.
The argument always springs from the position that Pornography is bad and unacceptable (its supporters degenerates), and Erotica is somehow less "crude" and more artistic (its supporters socially acceptable).
It's all semantics. The same wankers who argue for a divide between the two will also tell you that Charles Dickens wrote literature, while Stephen King's work isn't.
The sexual response is totally subjective.
What turns on one person makes another person gag.
What the covers of these long-out-of-print porno novels do (and do brilliantly) is suggest worlds of sexual anarchy where there are no limits.
They capture, totally honestly, the male sexual mind (and perhaps the female mind, too).
Primarily, though, they are aimed at men.
The fear and negativity associated with sex, an impulse as natural as hunger, has been fanned by religion. And it's easy to see why.
Sex has the power to control the mind (at least until the urge is purged somehow), so it's a threat to anything that's attempting to do the same.
These potent, iconic images of rampant, unfettered sexuality possess a savagery and purity that celebrates our basic primivitism, a primivitism that cannot be denied.
Sexual fantasy has never been more threatened than it is now; its purveyors have never been more unjustly demonized by the hypocritical mainstream.
Fortunately, few subjects were taboo in the world of the Great American Porno Novel, which enjoyed enormous success in the 70's and deep into the 80's.
Explicit sex on videotape and DVD, which depicts everything and suggests little (with some exceptions), destroyed the porno novel.
It's a terrible shame.
An entire corner of sexual expression has been lost, although the emergence of explicit e-novels and writers like JW McKenna may signal a resurrection.
Filmed sexuality is a very different beast to illustrated and written sexuality. It serves the same end purpose, but it provides a very different journey to that end.
These wonderfully lurid covers (many are superb works of illustrative art) are pregnant with the power of desire.
They don't attempt to legitimize lust or fit it into a neat, acceptable box that mass media can gobble up and regurgitate as sanitized visual diarrhea.
No, the sexual artisans behind the covers of these novels portrayed sex as "dirty", raw, intense, and all-consuming. They knew what great sex is.