February 16, 2021 Joanna Angel – Club 42: A Choose-Your-Own Erotic Fantasy (Book Review)
For many of us, Joanna Angel’s name is synonymous with sex, tattoos, and some incendiary yet divine beings. An award-winning adult film star, director, producer, best-selling author, and entrepreneur, she initially burst onto the scene in the early 2000s with her unique response to the alt-model craze, single-handedly changing the look of the adult film industry. But that was many costume changes ago, and now Angel is about to deliver her second work of erotic fiction, entitled Club 42: A Choose-Your-Own Erotic Fantasy. Cleis Press will publish the light-hearted romp in paperback, as well as offering a Kindle edition, on Tuesday, February 16, 2021.
Definitely not a vapid rom-com, Club 42 is a spontaneous adventure that leads to self-discovery for a hopeful millennial. Call her something that rhymes with Cardi B, or LeClaire, or Mistress, but Naomi is open to living her life to the fullest—and she also just really, really needs to pay her rent. When the Westchester-born Brooklynite loses her job as a barista, a chance encounter with a free flyer inspires her to step inside Club 42, an all-nude strip club-cum-juice bar in Times Square. What happens next, well, that’s in your hands.
Club 42 offers a multitude of experiences, depending on how you play your cards. Throughout its myriad of story lines, we are introduced to characters such as TJ the DJ, Rob the rock star, Messy Jessie, and MILF Melody. Some bring joy to Naomi’s life, and others, well, they simply provide a convenient ashtray or a giant eggplant. Whatever the case, they all assist the author in exploring topics ranging from the magnetic draw of musicians (and American Pickers) to the business side of stripping, Brooklyn hipster culture, and how Nickelback is capable of inspiring flesh-slapping. Throughout all of this, Angel manages to raise such pertinent questions as: Who puts bronzer on to study? Why is Marc Jacobs not appropriate stripper gear? And how are lap dances similar to speed dating?
At 347 pages in length, Club 42 never skimps on humor. From witty double entendre to blatant observations on the minutiae that often wafts through women’s minds when we’re attempting to be sexy, Angel takes a candid and conversational tone with her readers. Offering an unfiltered look inside Naomi’s mind, she doesn’t waste time attempting to create a flawless female. Instead, the barista-turned-stripper is initially naïve and a bit self-conscious, but she evolves into an empowered woman, one who embraces all of her choices with gusto—even if she eventually concludes that something does not work for her. The author delivers all of this with a sense of humor to the material that makes the mood playful and sex-positive rather than cheap and tawdry. Which, considering Angel’s body of work, makes perfect sense.
As with any Choose-Your-Own style book, a physical copy of Club 42 is a necessity, as jumping around to the varying prompts becomes a little more complicated on an eReader. And without going into explicit detail, just know that throughout these pages there are a plethora of sensual experiences that cover a multitude of tastes, from the passionate to the raw, leather to lace.
Attempting to appease a broad spectrum of fantasies while crafting a candidly amusing first person narrative, and peppering endless pop culture references into the text, can’t be easy. Though Angel manages to do so with an effortless chic that makes her main character so utterly likable. Sure, we can’t all stumble into a strip club and get hired on the spot, but the talented writer makes the fantasy believable, almost #goals, as she presents her readers with an upbeat look at fumbling your way through life while balancing on a stripper pole. It’s not Nobel Prize-winning literature, nor is it intended to be. Simple and to the point, but embellished with enough real-life drama, personal quirks, and passion, Club 42 is a rare gem that is apt to excite readers while keeping them laughing. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Club 42: A Choose-Your-Own Erotic Fantasy 4.5 of 5 stars.