He would woo her with love letters that were folded into little squares and stuck to the locker of her high school in Michigan, USA. Sunny Leone’s tryst with her first boyfriend had all the ingredients of first love — romantic gestures, lying to parents and sneaked moments of intimacy. Just as the first kiss happened, Leone heard someone striding down the hallway. “Gogu,” a voice thundered and, to her horror, she realised that her father had caught her kissing a boy. “That’s the most horrible experience you can have with your dad,” she says as a prelude to discussing an e-book of short stories, Sweet Dreams, which she has written.
Publisher Juggernaut describes Sweet Dreams as “delectable stories about passion and play”, hinting at their erotic content. While a quick read reveals that the stories have enough intimate moments, what’s surprising is how some of them are straight-up love stories. In fact, in some stories, the erotic moments are by-products of the romance between the protagonists.
One of the biggest indicators of the popularity of Leone came at the end of last year when Google announced that she was the most searched personality of India in 2015 — pipping Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the second place. The actor has been forthcoming — and unapologetic — about her work as an adult movie star and her sense of dignity has won Leone support from fans as well as Bollywood heavyweights such as Aamir Khan and Priyanka Chopra.
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Leone has penned 12 stories, of which seven are being released at an introductory price of Rs 49.50 till the end of the month. After that the price will double. The stories are meant for the Indian market, large sections of which are, perhaps, still not entirely comfortable with the idea of reading erotica for erotica’s sake — at least not in public. Leone talks about working hard to make the stories “culturally relatable”.
Most of the stories play safe — they feature consenting adults, who are respectful of each other. Even though some of them feature one-night stands and extramarital affairs, there’s something almost vanilla about them. Leone says, “Every woman fantasises about getting intimate with a man that she really likes, but it’s also wonderful to have that develop into something more. I love the idea of a man who, even if he is physically attracted to you, is willing to wait for you. He respects you as a woman and wants to do everything right and is such a gentleman.”
Explicit words that usually pepper such narratives, have been elided. “I didn’t want it to get so uncomfortable for readers that they would think ‘I don’t know if I want to continue’,” she says.
As for her first love — did the paternal interruption kill it? “No one can tell me what to do. The relationship ended later, only when we moved out and I gradually lost touch with him,” she says. She still has the letters. “They were just so sweet,” she says.