A Girl Walks Into A Bar
Helena S Paige
(Publishers/Delta Books, R95)

“I’m prepping for an erotic fantasy,” I growled huskily, explaining to a friend why I couldn’t do tea. “But it’s Pensioners’ Wednesday and there’s free chocolate cake!” she squeaked.

This brought me back to earth with a bang. I don’t think the 60-something reader is quite the niche market the authors had in mind for A Girl Walks into a Bar.

However, I had zipped through the Fifty Shades trilogy with panache and pizzazz, earning me the dubious honour of resident guru in the chick-lit-with-a-dash-of-soft-porn department.

Luckily I’m a firm believer in the “fake it till you make it” philosophy. Soon as I could find my reading glasses I was good to go.

As the reader you are the main character and narrator in this novel. You get to live out your desires, your fears, your obsessions and your fantasies. In desperate pursuit of The Space Cowboys drummer who introduces you to the delights of body shots? (Don’t ask. It involves tequila.)

Fast-forward to page 52. Turned on by the barman who looks like “sex on legs”? Flip to page 57. Game on! You soon get the hang of it.

You also call the shots as far as the plot is concerned. Well, sort of, because you’re picking from multiple wild sexual adventures pre-selected by the authors.

But who in their right mind would decide to go home over hooking up with a George Clooney look-alike? And when you discover this involves a session with whips and handcuffs, you go for that, too. (It’s fantasy, remember.)

I’m not sure if any red-blooded female would actually want to miss out on any of the action.

In the interests of a balanced review I decided to have it all.

This includes a rock star with a shower fetish, a bodyguard who lets you drive a 350Z convertible, a sushi chef who plays a mean strip poker game, and an exotic lesbian dancer. No, not all at the same time.

At first the novelty factor played a huge role in keeping my interest.

But I soon realised all these saucy storylines climax (sorry!) in the same fashion, just with different playmates involved.

There are only so many shuddering, earth-shattering orgasmic experiences a girl can take in a night.

Even worse are the zoomed-in, close-up, Technicolor body parts on show, accompanied by appropriate panting and groaning sound effects. My prudish nerd was starting to come out of the closet.

After bumping and grinding my way through several erotic episodes, I was drained. And frankly, gatvol. But the novel does have a feel-good ending (or endings) with a few nice twists, and I enjoyed the way the writers poke fun at arrogant males.

The inspiration for this choose-your-own-erotic-destiny technique came about when three Cape Town writers were chatting about how great it would be to work together on a fun project.

Helena S Paige (pictured) is the combined pen name of award-winning copywriter and Sunday Times columnist Paige Nick; poet, activist and academic Helen Moffett and screenwriter and novelist Sara Lotz.

With the slogan “Your Fantasy, Your Rules” emblazoned on the cover, A Girl Walks into a Bar falls into a genre dubbed “empowerment erotica”. I’ve also seen the F-word (that’s Feminist) bandied about.

The notion that women enjoy sex is not new. Forty years ago feminist Erica Jong wrote Fear of Flying, in which she coined the “zipless f**k” phrase.


Keep in mind it’s all a game. Go with the advice you give to the cute virgin bartender: “Just relax, go with it, have a good time”. I don’t think there’s any need to delve for meanings and messages.

The writers must have had a ball.

Already they’ve produced two more in the series, so the idea looks set to become a money spinner.

Way to go, girls!