Barbarian Geisha

An Elizabethan captee learns the pillow arts

By William Wetherall

First posted 20 October 2006
Last updated 20 October 2006


Charlotte Royal
The Barbarian Geisha
London: Black Lace, 1998
252 pages, paperback

This work of "adult fiction" is billed as "Erotic Fiction Written by Women for Women". Basically, though, it could have written by anyone for anyone who gets off on verbal voyeurism featuring all manner of sexual behavior.


The back blurb teaser reads as follows.

'The English woman is a wild and savage creature,' said Nakano to the newcomer. 'She is untaught in the pillow arts, yet I desire her.'

'A barbarian geisha? Impossible!' he replied.

Nakano smiled. 'Don't be so hasty, by friend. As soon as I touched her, I knew she could be trained.'

When Annabel smith is driven to jumping overboard from her father's Elizabethan sailing vessel, she expects to die but is instead washed up on the shores of feudal Japan and into the hands of brutal warlord Nakano. Enchanted by her naked blonde beauty, Nakano takes her to Shimoyama, his fortress home where the Mamma San is to teach Annabel the art of giving pleasure. Shimoyama is a world of political intrigue and Nakano's brother warns Annabel of the dangers that surround her. Will she ever be accepted as a barbarian Geisha, given that her sexual appetites are ravenous and go against the rules?

The advisory on the back cover -- "The publishers recommend that this book should be sold only to adults" -- is an admission that "erotic" means "pornographic". Adult bookstore fiction gets only marginally harder than this work, which might be found on the "Erotica" shelves of a general bookstore.

Unconstumed drama

What sets this story off from numerous other works of erotic and pornographic fiction set in Asia is its historical period. Annabel is naked when she washes up on the shore of a fishing village, for she had removed her "stiff Elizabethan dress" to join two men in a bisexual orgy shortly before the captain, her father, breaks in on the trio.

A gale is threatening the ship, and Annabel's father, who thinks she has jinxed the voyage, threatens to cast her overboard as a sacrifice to the sea. Having lost her mother, depressed with her lot, and thinking the ship is about to go down anyway (page 35),

Annabel laughed, stretched out her arms in a wide cross, and stepped willingly into the all-enveloping glassy-green embrace of the killing comber that was bearing down on them all" (page 35).

A fisherman finds the body on a beach, and after close inspection and confusion, he realizes it "belonged to no superhuman denizen from the sea but to something infinitely more frightening: a gaijin -- an outside person -- a woman from the world outside Japan" (page 7).

The use of "gaijin" with this meaning is a few centuries too early -- as is the appearance, later in the story, of the "Mamma san" who trains the captive barbarian blonde as a geisha. Apart from the costumes that drop to the mats every few pages, this truly steamy "east meats west" story is a very contemporary romp through ageless racial stereotypes about bodies and sex.