According to some, erotica is what women, who lack the balls to refer to it by its real name, call pornography.
However, they contend that erotica differs from porn in that it is ofter, warmer, fuzzier, and feels better on the lips and tongue than pornography tends to feel.
Some individuals also contend that a number of its characteristics further define erotica, distinguishing it even more from pornography.
"Erotica can be romantic," Pamela Anderson says, "whereas porn is just lewd and crude." Her movie roles, she claims, are "erotic," whereas the home videos that her former husband, rock star Tommy Lee, filmed of her performing fellatio on him are "just lewd and crude."
By contrast, the Babe Watch actress contends, "Erotica makes you feel good all over."
An equal opportunity art form
Another distinction that some people make between erotica and porn is that the former features both males and females, whereas the latter tends, more often, to showcase only women. "Erotica," Anderson says, "is an equal opportunity art form."
"Erotica is tasteful," the late Linda Lovelace, star of ''Deep Throat'', once suggested to an interviewer, "but porn is tasteless." Erotica," she said, "tastes somewhat buttery, "like semen."
Both in painting and in photography, erotica is identified by certain artistic techniques that are typical of its execution.
Many erotic images are blurred and indistinct, photographer P. Niss declares, or use props to conceal the genitals. "Think Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden," he suggests. "Artists may show a pair of breasts or buttocks--a little T & A--but a leaf, a shrub, or a tree branch is always going to make sure that the couple's private parts remain private. Also, Eve isn't going to look too hot." In pornography, by contrast, Niss says, "We're going to see not only the full Monty, but also the couple coupling, and Eve is going to be a real hottie."
Erotica tends to be more ambiguous than porn, too, Niss says. In a portrait of our primeval parents, Adam may be shown as extending his hand toward Eve's upper body, as if to keep her away from the forbidden fruit, but there will be the suggestion, too, that maybe he's reaching for her breast, and the voyeur--I mean, the viewer--will have the option of imagining either possibility, or both."
Artistic vs. commercial appeal
Richard D. Parsons, chairman of Time-Warner, which makes billions of dollars promoting porn over the Internet, says, "Here's the real difference: in erotica, women are objects of art; in porn, they're sex objects--they're commodities. Give me porn over erotica any day!"