Orgasm on Aisle Three

‘Whore Foods’: Employees Getting Nasty Among the Produce

It’s very easy to steal from the salad bar in the Houston Street Whole Foods in Manhattan. Take one of those brown to-go containers—small, medium, or large—fill it with your choice of food, walk up the stairs, through the toiletries section, into the seating area. Eat your food, then exit via the stairs that deliver you past the cash registers.

Poet and perfomer Laura Warman—or rather, her narrator avatar—steals time from Whole Foods—or, as she disguises it in her novel Whore Foods, Organic Grocery Store. Unlike me, she’s not a potential customer—she’s an employee. She spends her work hours fantasizing about fucking coworkers and customers. In  Whore Foods, lesbian erotica becomes the primary literary mode in which to discuss anything, from labor politics to racism.

 

Midway through the book, Warman says, “I am about to reach my third year of employment. They have begun inventing excuses to prevent me from getting raises. I am surprised every day when I am not fired.” Earlier, Warman describes a customer making fun of construction workers “for not being white…and I can’t say ‘That’s racist’ because I’m on the job.”

Even the act of cutting an avocado becomes erotic: the knife slices through its flesh, then into the pit. The narrator extracts the pit from the flesh, whacking the pit into a trash can. Another woman scrapes the flesh into a metal bowl. Warman goes on to eroticize the cutting of mangoes. One of her coworkers, known simply as B, slices her finger while cutting mangoes and “places a small blue finger cot over it. A finger cot looks like a tiny condom and B moves her cut finger like a dick.”

Sometimes Warman is a top and sometimes she’s a bottom. In one scene, an anonymous woman eats her out at work with “period blood bunch[ing] up in my labia.” In another, she makes a customer, eating a chicken salad, come, using her foot. “It is terrible to try to seduce someone,” she writes. “To want someone so much you must get another girlfriend to forget the girlfriend you want.”

I read Laura Warman’s Twitter. She has posted a screencap of a text message that reads “I have a girlfriend now, [b]ut I’ll always remember you as my first.” It’s unclear if Warman sent or received this text. I look at Laura Warman’s Instagram. She has posted a picture of herself wearing a striped polo shirt, captioned, “your boyfriend’s worst nightmare.”

The various vaginas that parade throughout the book taste like things available for sale at the Organic Grocery Store: papaya, salt, orange, seaweed, hummus. Midway through, assholes begin the parade as well: the narrator begins fingering a woman, known as Y, in the pasta aisle of the Organic Grocery Store, then moves her finger to Y’s asshole before Y warns her about her IBS. “I like her shit as much as I like her clit juice,” says the narrator. “It’s all orange and vegetable.” She goes on to twin the bliss of shitting and coming: “It is a pleasure to shit. It is a pleasure to come.”

Throughout the book, the narrator makes multitudes of coworkers and customers come, or denies them orgasm, or they give her an orgasm, or deny her one.  But “Her,” who at first only ever appears on the narrator’s phone, triumphs over them all. They text, they fuck over video chat. Then, the Her multiplies and begins to envelop all of the coworkers and customers that the narrator wants to fuck, or is fucking, at least in her fantasies. “I wonder where Her Her Her and Her learned how to be erotic,” writes Warman. “Did their mothers teach them? Did they learn at school?”

The narrative culminates in an orgy in the produce fridge. The latex gloves that the women wear to chop fruit and vegetables become sexual items, meant for finger fucking. “I put one latex gloved finger up her vagina and one up her asshole. I am spinning the fingers slightly. Then two fingers then three fingers. L’s mouth opens more each finger I place.” The “new supervisor who will arrive to work in 20 minutes” limits the orgy. As usual, an hourly schedule limits the erotics of work. Sex happens at precisely prescribed times, resulting in a timetable of work, sex, work, sex. Just another day at Whore Foods.

Clara Lou

Clara Lou is an artist and critic. Her first solo show, The Furniture Supper Club, was presented at Motherbox Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in March of 2018. Her writing has appeared in Lemonhound, Queen Mob's Teahouse, and BOMB.

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