I have studied erotica and erotic artists extensively. I plan to write a review monthly. So far, these have been shared: Pierre Louÿs; Gerard Damiano; Pietro Aretino; the Turin Erotic Papyrus; Terri Hall; D.H Lawrence; Shunga; John Cleland; Le Crazy Horse; the Rolling Stones; Moche Ceramics; Julien Mandel; Elizabeth Bennett; Redd Foxx; Q; Molly Bennett; Oh! Calcutta; Milo Manara; Stoya; Amateur Allure; Dita von Teese; Henry Miller; Jamie Gillis; Marquis de Sade; Kiki of Montparnasse; Inanna & Dumazid; the Kama Sutra; Mihály Zichy; Violet Blue; Ovid; Early Films; Hot Girls Wanted; Pompeii and Herculaneum Erotic Art; Sappho; Anais Nin; Prince; Michelangelo; William Shakespeare; Homegrown Videos and more.
Please note: I have stopped posting reviews on the Reviews page. Check out the Blog page for new reviews.
Pierre Louÿs (1870-1925) was a French author, poet and photographer. He explored various aspects of sexuality, especially focusing on lesbianism. Among others, his works included Astarte; The Songs of Bilitis; Aphrodite – Ancient Manners; The Adventures of King Pausolus; The She-Devils; The Woman and the Puppet; Death Watch and The Young Girl’s Handbook of Good Manners for Use in Educational Establishments. He was greatly influenced by the classical Greeks and by the Parnassian and Symbolist schools. As well, he took over 10,000 nude and erotic photographs.
Louÿs was a best-selling author of his day. He was made a Chevalier, then an Officer of the Legion of Honor for his contributions to French literature. Based on his work, Debussy scored the musical accompaniments Songs of Bilitis and Six Antique Epigraphs; Bunuel made the film That Obscure Object of Desire; and Honegger composed the operetta King Pausolus. Many artists illustrated his writings, like Barbier, Foujita and Manara. He was a close friend of Wilde, Valery, Mallarme, Gide and Debussy. The Daughters of Bilitis, a pioneering lesbian organization, was named after The Songs of Bilitis.
I enjoyed Louÿs work. I thought his style was exquisite, if a little ornate. He wrote lightly but seriously about sexuality. The Songs of Bilitis is an elegant collection of verse by a Greek poet, c. 600 BC, centering on her love for other women, with Louÿs as translator. (A sensation when published, it was ultimately revealed that Louÿs had actually written it). Aphrodite – Ancient Manners tells the sensuous story of a courtesan in ancient Alexandria. The Young Girls Handbook is a raucous parody of instructions for female students. A remarkable achievement: a widely-read and critically-respected writer of erotica.
The poem “To Her Breasts” from The Songs of Bilitis:
Flowers in flesh, oh my breasts! How richly voluptuous you are! My breasts in my hands, how you have softness and mellow warmth and youthful perfume!
Formerly, you were icy like the breasts of a statue and hard like insensible marble. But since you have become yielding, I will cherish you more, you that were already loved.
Your sleek and rounded shape is the honor of my brown body. Whether I imprison you under a golden fishnet, whether I set you free naked, you precede me with your splendor.
Be then happy this night. If my fingers beget caresses, you alone will know them until tomorrow morning; for this night, Bilitis has paid Bilitis.
(Translated by S. Gray)
Gerard Damiano (1928-2008) was a director and writer of erotic films. His works included Deep Throat, The Devil in Miss Jones, Memories within Miss Aggie, The Story of Joanna, Let My Puppets Come, Odyssey, and The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue. Originally a hair-dresser and then the owner of beauty salons in Queens, he overheard sexual gossip by his clients, and this led him to conclude that an erotic film that appealed to couples would be successful. He also stated that being a hair-dresser gave him a deeper understanding of women. He began in films as a crew member for sexploitation movies, before moving onto erotic films in the late 1960’s. From 1969 to 1991, he directed more than 50 films. Occasionally, he also appeared in small roles in his movies.
Deep Throat was his most famous film. The premise of this comedy was that a woman was unable to have an orgasm. She discovered that her clitoris was actually in her throat. She could only climax through fellatio in which the erect penis reached down into her throat. Linda Lovelace and Harry Reems starred. Shot in Miami and New York City in six days, it cost $25,000 and went onto gross, by some estimates, over $600 million. The budget was supplied by the Columbo crime family. Plot, character development and high production values were featured for the first time in an erotic film. It was prosecuted for obscenity several times, sometimes winning, sometimes not. It was also condemned by religious groups and damned by feminists. (Linda Boreman, appearing under the stage name Linda Lovelace, claimed that she had been forced to perform in the film by her abusive husband). The XRCO Hall of Fame inducted it as their first film. Dubbed “Porno Chic” and the “Gone with the Wind of Pornography”, it was wildly popular with the public.
I felt a lot of respect for Damiano’s work. He was one of the pioneers of the erotic film as art. Deep Throat was cheesy but funny. The Devil in Miss Jones was a tragic depiction of lust. The Story of Joanna was a seductive exploration of submission. Odyssey was a fascinating look at sexual difficulties. (It was the first erotic film I ever saw).
(A link to Deep Throat: http://www.xvideos.com/video4915112/deep_throat).
May 2016 (designated for the April 2016 column)
Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) was a poet, playwright, satirist and letter-writer. He is known as the father of modern literary erotica. Among his works were The Lust Sonnets; The School of Whoredom; Discussions; Marriage Woes; The Courtesan; The Secret Life of Nuns; and The Secret Life of Wives. His writings usually took the form of dialogues, with a satirical edge. He also wrote many non-erotic pieces, especially plays about the poor and the working-class. His work greatly influenced the Elizabethan dramatists.
Aretino was a man who lived by his wits. He depended on his patrons for support and protection, among whom were Pope Clement VII, Pope Julius III, Frederico Gonzaga II and Giovanni de Medici. He was also a blackmailer, who used information he collected by leading others into vice. Called “The Scourge of Princes”, because of his blackmail and his satires, he was very feared in the arts and politics. (And, as a result, despite his patrons, he was almost murdered once and had to flee for his life a few times). He was the friend of Titian, who painted him. A legend exists that he died of laughing too much. His tombstone carried the epitaph “Here Aretino, the Tuscan poet, lies, who all the world abused, except God. Why? He knew him not”. (The epitaph was later removed by the Inquisition).
Aretino ranged widely in erotica. The Lust Sonnets were poems describing lovemaking positions. (They were created to accompany The Sixteen Pleasures, Guliano Romano’s erotic drawings). The School of Whoredom was a conversation between a prostitute and her daughter about the tricks of the trade. Discussions was an account by Roman prostitutes about the immorality of rich men in their city. Marriage Woes told the story of a man who is over-joyed to discover that the woman he was forced to marry is actually another man. (Aretino was bisexual). The Courtesan featured a Cardinal who is taught to lie so he can win himself a mistress. The Secret Life of Nuns and its sequel The Secret Life of Wives recounted the sexual adventures of women in those roles.
I found Aretino’s work wicked and sarcastic. His style was polished but the intent was raw and blatant. With The Lust Sonnets, however, he created the first modern literary sexual art.
From The Lust Sonnets:
Let’s fuck, my soul, let’s fuck right away,
Because we are all born to fuck;
You adore cock, I love cunt,
The world is nothing without this.
(Translated by S. Gray)
(Titian’s portrait of Aretino is displayed above)
TURIN EROTIC PAPYRUS
The Turin Erotic Papyrus is a collection of sexual illustrations. The artist is unknown. It was created in Deir el-Medina, a village near Thebes in Egypt, about 1150 BC, during the reign of Pharoah Rameses the Great. The area is more familiarly known as the Valley of the Kings and was inhabited by the workers who built the royal tombs there. The papyrus was discovered buried in a vase in 1820 and taken to the Egyptian Museum in Turin, Italy. It was kept locked away, visitors having to register to view it. Only in 1975 was it displayed publicly.
The Papyrus is a scroll containing 12 erotic drawings. The first third depicts animals engaged in human activities (playing music, hunting, besieging, etc.) The last two thirds show couples making love. (Humans engaged in animal activities?) Balding, middle-aged men and beautiful, young women have sex in various positions, including in a chariot. Both indoor and outdoor scenes are included. An assortment of items surround the couples (a rattle for the god of love Hathor; musical instruments; jars full of wine and beer; huge phalluses, sometimes supported by women; lotuses, considered symbols of fertility; perfume bottles, often balanced on women’s buttocks, et. al.) Genitals are shown, the men’s penises enormous. Dialogue is scribbled in the margins (“…come behind me with your love….it is agreeable work”). The scroll is 8 ½ feet long by 10 inches high. It is meant to be read from right to left. The illustrations were drawn in black ink and colored in. Over the centuries it has been badly damaged but now has been reconstructed.
The Papyrus’ purpose is unclear. It may have portrayed the gods, priests or the Pharoah making love. Most likely, it represented scenes in a brothel, either as a sort of Kama Sutra or an aid for arousal.
The reconstructed Turin Erotic Papyrus is a gorgeous work of art. The couples look like they are enjoying themselves. It is also humorous. (One man appears to fall out of bed, exhausted). A fascinating piece of sexual art: one of the oldest in the world.
Terri Hall (1953-1995) was an actress of the Golden Age of Erotic Films. She had been trained as a dancer and performed with the Harkness Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet and the American Ballet Theater. Interested in acting, she was cast in The Taking of Christina, her first adult movie. She made about 50 erotic films from 1976 to 1985, in lead or supporting roles. These included Farewell, Scarlet; The Story of Joanna; Suzi’s Take-out Service; Alice in Wonderland; Ecstasy in Blue; Oriental Blue; Odyssey; The Opening of Misty Beethoven; et.al. A talented and professional actress, with a powerful presence, she became a star. Unfortunately, she is less remembered than others from that period.
I have always thought that Terri Hall was the foremost actress during the Golden Age. She combined a sensual face, wispy voice and lithe body for a sizzling sexuality. Also known as National Velvet, she closely resembled Elizabeth Taylor. The first time I saw her was in The Story of Joanna. An unforgettable performer.
A clip from Misty Beethoven: http://www.xvideos.com/video19661675/teri_hall_loves_jamie_gillis
D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930) was an English novelist, critic, playwright, essayist, and painter. His central theme was the damage that modern life inflicts on people. His style was personal and confessional. Among his novels were Sons and Lovers; The Rainbow; Women in Love; and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. His books of criticism included Studies in Classic American Literature, which figured largely in the rediscovery of Melville. As well, he was known for his travel books, like Mornings in Mexico and Sea and Sardinia. Toward the end of his life he painted in oil.
Lawrence was the first mainstream writer to write about sexuality directly. Women in Love focused on homosexuality. Lady Chatterley’s Lover depicts lovemaking plainly. “The Noble Englishman” and “Don’t Look at Me”, poems, were sexual. His paintings, like Boccaccio Story, were erotic. Because of his sexual art, he was persecuted and censored by the British government, misrepresented by critics, made to live in poverty and forced to flee into exile. Even his paintings were seized in a raid at London’s Warren Gallery. (In addition, he struggled to write while suffering from a variety of respiratory illnesses most of his life). In a trial in the United Kingdom in 1960 the court found Lady Chatterley’s Lover not guilty of obscenity. This led to the challenge of its ban in many countries and the freedom to publish literature concerned with sexual art.
Lawrence was perhaps the finest writer of his generation. An admiration for fascism and an acceptance of male supremacy led, however, to an authoritarian vision. But that a writer of his importance wrote erotica was significant. He was a breakthrough as a sexual artist. While I am dismayed by the darker aspects of his creativity, I respect his gift and his pioneering work.
Shunga were drawings depicting lovemaking that were created by Japanese artists. The name translated as “pictures of spring”, spring being another name for the sexual act. They were a type of ukiyo-e, that is, idealized portraits of life. Shunga showed heterosexuality, homosexuality, masturbation and bestiality. Sexual positions were acrobatic, and genitals were often placed close to the face as a result of those positions. Because nudity was not considered erotic in Japan., figures were clothed. (At the communal baths everyone was naked). Genitals, however, were exposed, and their sizes were exaggerated. (They were called “second faces”). Shunga mostly showed ordinary people. Courtesans, actors and the upper class were also occasionally portrayed. After the opening of Japan, western dress and haircuts were sometimes included. Text and dialogue accompanied the drawings, and symbols were inserted, like plum blossoms for virginity and tissue for impending ejaculation. They were also sold as books called empons, containing twelve unrelated images. As well as for pleasurable viewing, shunga were used for sex education. They were considered lucky charms, too.
From the 8th to the 12th centuries shunga were painted scrolls. During the 17th to the mid-19th century they were colored woodblock prints. This was the Golden Age, and all classes of people enjoyed them. Government censorship to suppress them was widespread but ineffective. In the late 19th century and early 20th century shunga declined because photography (and erotic photos) was introduced into Japan. Nowadays they continue to influence hentai (video games, manga, anime), and a small subgenre of hentai consisting of shunga exists. They are still prohibited in Japan.
Most Japanese artists painted shunga. Probably the most prominent artist to do so was Katsushika Hokusai. As well, Kitagawa Utamaro was famous. Also known was Yanagawa Shigenobu, Keisai Eisen, Miyagawa Isho, Koryusai Isoda and Hishikawa Moronobu. Because of official repression, these artists often had their names hidden or symbols representing them inserted in the pictures. Contemporary shunga are still created by Hajime Sorayama. Pablo Picasso painted at least one, and their influence persists on David Laity and Masami Teraoka.
I have always loved shunga, particularly by Hokusai and Utamaro. Their colors are glorious. And the lovers are intense in their lovemaking!
John Cleland (1709-1789) was an author and philologist. Poor most of his life, he had also been a soldier and civil servant. His works included Fanny Hill: or, the Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure; Memoirs of a Coxcomb; The Woman of Honour; The Surprises of Love; Titus Vespasian; The Ladies Subscription; Tombo-Chiqui, or, The American Savage; Dictionary of Love; The Times!; and The Oeconomy of a Winter’s Day. He also wrote three books arguing that the Celtic languages were the basis from which all other languages derived; translations; reviews for the Monthly Review; letters for the Public Advertiser; and two medical works. A difficult, quarrelsome man, he was, nevertheless, a friend of David Garrick, James Boswell and Samuel Johnson.
Fanny Hill, published in 1748-9, was Cleland’s most famous book. The story recounts the life of an innocent, uneducated country girl who becomes a prostitute in London. It is unusual in that the point of view is female. Fanny is bemused by men but appreciative of them. A strong, liberated heroine, she feels no guilt about her profession and ends up with a loving husband. The book takes the form of a letter-novel and is told in retrospect. Its central themes include sexual education as the basis for all other knowledge and an acceptance of sexuality if it is not carried to an extreme. Fanny Hill is sometimes thought to be a homoerotic work because the book features what was a rare description of homosexuality in those times; Fanny is obsessed with penis size; and rumors persist about the author. The book also includes bondage and voyeurism. It was written on a dare from a friend to show that erotica could be created without swear words. (Sexuality is only described with metaphors). Cleland’s obituary stated that he received 100 pounds in a yearly annuity from the British government not to write any more erotica, though this was probably invented by the eulogist.
John Cleland, along with his publisher and printer, were prosecuted for obscenity because of Fanny Hill. He noted that he “wished, with all my soul that the book be buried and forgot”. The book was officially suppressed but it was republished the next year in a censored version and thereafter became a best seller. The original version remained illegal until 1966 with the U.S. Supreme Court judgment of A Book Named “John Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure” v. Attorney General of Massachusetts, which held that under the U.S. Constitution a modicum of merit precluded its condemnation as obscene. A few years later, it also became available legally in the United Kingdom.
I loved Fanny Hill when I read it some years ago. Playful, elegant, it depicted a world –and a woman –free of Puritan repressions. We are closer to that outlook now, thankfully.
LE CRAZY HORSE DE PARIS
Le Crazy Horse is a cabaret in Paris renowned for its chic and elegant eroticism. It was founded in 1951 by the late Alain Bernardin. Thirty semi-nude dancers as well as one or two variety performers are featured. The dancers are uniform in appearance (thin, pert breasts, long legs) but originate from many different countries. Often coming from a ballet background, they receive intensive additional training at Le Crazy Horse. They wear custom-made costumes and specially-made “Crazy Red” lipstick, and stage lights bathe them, also creating part of their outfits. The dancers perform in acts with storylines. After their first show, they are given stage names, like Ero Tikka, Candy St. Louis and Daizy Blu. Celebrities sometimes appear, among them Dita Von Teese, Arielle Dombasle and Pamela Anderson. Magicians, mimes, jugglers and dancers are featured as variety performers. Collaborating to create the show are prominent designers, choreographers and composers. The venue is a former wine cellar with a red motif, accented with plush velvet, lacquered wood and huge mirrors, and it is intimate, a small space with modular tables and chairs. An additional show called Crazy Horse Paris is staged in Las Vegas.
I visited Le Crazy Horse in Paris in 2009 and was enthralled with the show. The dancers were stunning. Roman and Slava, twin tap dancers, were hilarious. The space was gorgeous, like a jewelry box. What a perfect blend of sophistication and sexuality!
A link to a scene from Le Crazy Horse:
THE ROLLING STONES
The Rolling Stones are an English rock-and-roll group. Founded in 1962 in London with various personnel, their classic line-up emerged in 1963: Mick Jagger, Keith Richard, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman. Mick Taylor and Ron Wood later joined the group. Ian Stewart and Darryl Jones were involved as regular sidemen. Coming out of a Chicago blues background and heavily influenced by the Beatles, in their glory years the Stones were referred to as “the world’s greatest rock-and-roll band”. The albums recorded in that period (Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Get Your Ya-Yas Out, Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Goat’s Head Soup) are considered among the best of popular music. In 2016 they are still creating music with their latest album, Lonesome and Blue.
The Rolling Stones composed several songs about sexuality. These include: Let’s Spend the Night Together (lovemaking); Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow? (female prostitution); Stray Cat Blues (underage sex); Cocksucker Blues (male prostitution); Brown Sugar (interracial sex): and Star, Star (groupies). The songs are very direct and streetwise. Unfortunately, they are also occasionally misogynistic. Even the non-sexual songs, drawing on that blues background, tend to be touched with lust. (The Stones logo is a big, lapping tongue).
I have always liked the sexual songs of the Rolling Stones as I have their music in general. The songs are very erotic and knowing. Their anti-woman edge, however, has always been off-putting for me.
A link to Star, Star: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1zgmM2lalo
MOCHE EROTIC CERAMICS
Moche erotic ceramics are pottery with figurines perched on top. They are made of clay and painted. Often used as a pitcher, their spouts are usually in the shape of a penis. The figurines are naturalistic and explicit and typically engaged in a sexual act. Depictions include fondling; kissing; fellatio; masturbation; vaginal intercourse; and anal intercourse. Also featured are coupling between animals; between women and mythical animals; and between women and skeletons. Faces of the figurines are sober, though now and then a grin breaks out. Oddly, while they make love, the woman frequently breastfeeds an infant. As well, vaginal intercourse is rare, though anal intercourse is common. In the ceramics that survive, there are no examples of cunnilingus, female masturbation, gay sex or lesbianism. The pottery was produced in Moche temples and has been found only in the graves of nobles. Their purpose was unclear, though there are some theories that they are religious. The Spanish destroyed most of them, scandalized by their eroticism. Five hundred pieces rest now in the Museo Larco in Lima, Peru, and in private collections.
The Moche people lived on the northern coast of Peru, their civilization active from about 100 to 800 AD. They constructed huge pyramids and extensive aqueducts and were skilled metalworkers. Though they had no written language, they recorded their lives in murals and ceramics. The murals and ceramics displayed a huge range of activities, including war, birth, crafts, hunting, sacrifices, and, of course, sexual acts.
I have always loved the Moche ceramics. At the university I attended, I taped a photo of one of them –a man with an enormous penis protruding from his body –to my dorm room door. I still have the picture!
(Below are two examples: a couple making love and a penis).
Julien Mandel (1872-1935) was a French photographer of nudes. He posed his models in classical poses, both in the studio and out-of-doors. (One of his models was Alice Prin, the famous Kiki of Montparnasse). He was active in Paris from the 1910s to the 1930s. His work was published by Alfred Noyer, Les Studios, P-C Paris, and the Neue Photographische Gesellschaft. The photos were postcard-sized, though they were not meant to be mailed. (The cards were considered to be obscene). “J. Mandel” was stamped on each postcard. The cards sold in large numbers and are now considered collectable items.
Mandel wanted erotic photography to be seen as an art. He created exquisite photographs, painting with tones of light. His work was art.
Elizabeth Bennett (b. 1943) is a painter of erotic nudes and other subjects. Her work is rendered in pastels. It has been featured in Playboy, Cosmopolitan, the New York Times and various publications. In 1981an exhibition of her pen and ink portraits that had been published in the New York Times was staged at Niagara Community College. Born in New York City, she always knew she wanted to be an artist. She began painting at age 5 when she was given a set of oil paints by her parents. Later she studied at Parsons School of Design. Chuck Natoli, the fashion illustrator, was a mentor, and she was a trainee in the fashion advertising department of JC Penney’s. For a time, in the 1980’s, she lived in Hong Kong. Later she had a home and studio on the East Coast.
I have loved Bennett’s nudes since I first saw them in Playboy in the 1970’s. They are gorgeous. An artist who should be better-known.
Drawing is very intimate. The women you see here were friends to begin with or they become friends. Many of them agreed to pose in return for one of my sketches. We exchanged time. Every drawing was a cooperative effort, something that we worked toward through the evening. Something worth sharing.
I call these sketches exploratory drawings. I wanted to study the peaceful eroticism that comes over a women’s body in repose. The models would arrive at the studio about 10 PM. We’d share an Irish coffee, look at first editions of Beardsley, Rackham & Dulac, then they’d relax, fall asleep, dream. The transformation was close to the change you see in a lover after making love. The devils in them would disappear. Sleep is a mystery. Sometimes I would work until morning, trying to capture that magic, that beauty.
Frank Harris (1855-1931) was a British writer, editor and publisher. He wrote many books, including The Bomb; The Man Shakespeare and his Tragic Life Story; The Yellow Ticket and Other Stories; Contemporary Portraits; and My Reminiscences as a Cowboy. He edited a series of London papers including the London Evening News; the Fortnightly Review; and the Saturday Review as well as the American Pearson’s Magazine. Known as a great talker and contrarian, Harris was variously a conservative, socialist and anarchist. He was the friend or acquaintance of many famous people, including Bernard Shaw, Wilde, Crane, Whitman, Crowley, Churchill and Wells. A notorious womanizer, at one time he maintained two separate families and appeared to have had children by several other women.
My Life and Loves was Harris’s autobiography. It was published in four volumes from 1922 to 1927, with a fifth volume, based on notes found after his death, published in 1954. He wrote it, he noted, to see “if a man can tell the truth naked and unashamed about himself and his amorous adventures in the world.” Writing it was also his response to becoming sexually impotent. The book contained zestful descriptions of his lovers and their lovemaking. It also included boastful explanations of his role in history as well as vivid portraits of the many famous people he knew. (H.G. Wells called his books “….writing that was loud talk in ink”). Some of My Life and Loves was clearly imaginary. (As Time magazine reflected in 1960, “Had he not been a thundering liar, Frank Harris would have been a great autobiographer….he had the crippling disqualification that he told the truth, as Max Beerbohm remarked, only ‘when his invention flagged’.”). The first volume was burnt by customs officials and the second volume resulted in him being charged with corrupting public morals. The New York Supreme Court ruled the book ‘unquestionably obscene, lewd, lascivious and indecent’, and it was banned in several countries.
Harris also created a card game called Dirty Banshee. The art on the cards showed satyrs and goddesses engaged in assorted positions of sexual intercourse.
I was fascinated with My Life and Loves when I read it years ago. It was refreshing to encounter a book that wrote explicitly about sexuality, instead of tip-toeing around it. But I was aware, even then, that at least some of it was invented. A unique book.
Redd Foxx (1922-1991) was an American comedian and actor. He was famous, of course, for his role as Fred Sanford on the TV series Sanford and Son. He was also, however, known for his raunchy comedy. In the 1950’s he began appearing in nightclubs. Very quickly he was signed to Dootone Records and went on to release more than 50 albums. Known as the “King of the Party Records”, he influenced a generation of comedians, including Richard Pryor and Chris Rock. Foxx was one of the first black comedians to appear before white audiences. He used his success to get jobs for other people of color, like Slappy White, LaWanda Page, Gregory Sierra and Pat Morita. His films included All the Fine Young Cannibals, Cotton Comes to Harlem, Harlem Nights, and Ghost of a Chance. He died of a heart attack on the set of the TV series The Royal Family. It was a routine he had faked on Sanford and Son so, at first, the other actors thought he was kidding.
A Redd Foxx joke, as quoted in the James Ellroy novel Blood’s a Rover:
Foxx delivers a eulogy at the wake of a murdered rogue LAPD detective including the line, “Scotty Bennett was fucking a porcupine. I gots to tell you motherfuckers that it was a female porcupine, so I don’t see nothing perverted in it.”
And a link to “Jokes I Can’t Tell on Television”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0N9uOXdiEU
Q, also known as Desire, (2011) is a French film about a young woman named Cécile. After her father dies, in despair, she turns to promiscuity. Her encounters include friends and strangers. Sexual acts portrayed are fellatio, cunnilingus, intercourse and masturbation, both of self and others. Filmed in Cherbourg, during the 2008 Great Recession, its characters are young people trying to survive through poorly-paid jobs or crime. An older married couple also figures in the story. The characters’s frustrations and disconnectedness is the movie’s theme. Surprisingly, it has a happy ending. (Or perhaps not so surprisingly: the film is dedicated “To Cyril Collard, and to all those who still believe that love means something”). Laurent Bouhnik wrote and directed. Actors featured are Déborah Lévy, Hélène Zimmer, Gowan Didi, Christelle Benoit and Patrick Hauthier. None of them have appeared previously in adult films.
I thought that Q was a remarkable movie. A mainstream film, it depicts sexuality openly. The possibility existed during the Golden Age of adult films that sexuality would begin to be woven into mainstream films, instead of being hidden. Unfortunately, this has rarely occurred. It was refreshing, then, to see a movie that accomplishes this and so beautifully and matter-of-factly. And it has a striking opening, repeated periodically: women in a shower talking but filmed only from the breasts to the thighs, in tones of blue and gray.
A warning: Q is not subtitled in English. With my rudimentary French I was able to parse the film, however.
A link to the movie, with Brazilian subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V54yhhoqc6U&t=4786s
Molly Bennett (b. 1993) is an adult film actress. She is tall, voluptuous, blonde, green-eyed tattooed and pierced. She is also the epitome of the “girl next door”: friendly, down-to-earth, a bit nerdish. The captain of the flag team at her Los Angeles high school, she said that she “hung out with the band geeks”. (She is a sort of openly sexual Alyson Hannigan). Though she has a reputation for being innocent, she notes that she has a dark side, too, occasionally asking her boyfriend to choke her and pull her hair when they make love. Bennett began working in adult films in 2012. She got involved in them by chance, after being offered a fellatio scene and enjoying it. Her over 100 films include She’s So Cute!, I Know That Girl, Perfect Blondes, All American Girls, College Daze, et. al., for a variety of companies (3rd Degree, Adam & Eve, Mile High, Elegant Angel, Twisty’s, FTV, Reality Kings, etc.) Moreover, she is a Ganja Girl, appearing on that website to promote recreational marijuana. On set she is known to be cheerful and cooperative.
Molly Bennett is one of the most erotic actresses in contemporary adult films, certainly the best performer in the “girl next door” genre. She should be better known!
A link to one of her videos: https://www.xvideos.com/video6607714/cute_blonde_molly_bennett_enjoys_having_super_passionate_sex_with_her_man
Oh! Calcutta was a theater revue created by British drama critic Kenneth Tynan. The show consisted of brief erotic sketches and featured nudity. It debuted off-Broadway in 1969 and has been revived off and on ever since, making it one of the longest-running revues in Broadway history. For several years it was also staged in London. The show’s name was based on a pun of the title of a Clovis Trouille painting. The title was “O quel cul t’as!”, French for “What an ass you have!” The painting depicts the tattooed behind of a young woman and was used as a backdrop on the stage.
Sketches were written by Samuel Beckett, John Lennon, Sam Shepard, Dan Greenburg, David Newman, Robert Benton, Edna O’Brien, Jules Feiffer, and Kenneth Tynan. Peter Schickele, Robert Dennis and Stanley Walden composed the music. Jacques Levy directed, and Margo Sappington choreographed. Among others, at various times, the cast included Raina Barrett, Mark Dempsey, Samantha Harper, Patricia Hawkins, Mitchell McGuire, Gary Rethmeier, Nancy Tribush, Margo Sappington, Bill Macy and George Welbes. A film of the stage version was released in 1972.
Oh! Calcutta opens with a slow striptease by the cast. Sketches that follow include a fairy tale ending with a rape; a suite of singers using material from sexy letters to the editor; lovers arguing about experimentation; different generations of swingers clashing; Victorian bondage going awry; and a sex experiment becoming a burlesque. Following the intermission, sketches include nude cast members free-form dancing; a son telling his father what he likes about sex; and a group masturbation falling apart. The finale consists of cast members singing, dancing and stripping and then yelling out comments reflecting what they suppose the audience is really thinking about the revue.
Oh! Calcutta is a sexy, pleasant show. It has a feel reminiscent of 70’s adult films, though the sex is simulated. All the sketches are at least mildly entertaining. It is refreshing to see sex explored in the theater.
A link to the 1972 film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAWUqvgtniY&t=2636s.
Milo Manara (b. 1945) is an Italian erotic cartoonist. His comix depict beautiful, elegant women caught up in unlikely situations. Click, for example, features a woman who becomes overwhelmingly aroused when a button is pushed. His works include Jolanda de Almaviva, The Adventures of Giuseppe Bergman, Butterscotch, and Indian Summer. His most well-known series is probably Lo Scimmiotto (The Ape). He has illustrated a number of erotic literary works, including ones by Jonathan Swift,Pierre Louÿs, Apuleius, and the Vatsyayana. Manara has also illustrated a variety of comics, including superheros, westerns, myths and horror. Especially noted are his X-Men: Ragazze in fuga; The Sandman: Endless Nights; and his variant covers for issues of Marvel Comics. As well, the animated characters for the series “City Hunters” were developed by him. He has also designed a motorcycle helmet for the rider Valentino Rossi and drawn record covers for the band Biffy Clyro. While Manara has often both illustrated and written his work, his collaborations with others have included Frederico Fellini, Hugo Pratt, Pedro Almodòvar, Chris Claremont, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Neil Gaiman. He has been honored with a Yellow Kid Prize; a Gran Guinigi Prize; a Harvey Award; and an Eisner Award and has been inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame.
I have always enjoyed Manara’s work. I remember stopping by Virgin Records while wandering around Times Square in New York City, just to leaf through the latest issues of his work in their book section. Though somewhat adolescent in theme, his illustrations are consistently gorgeous.
(Illustration at right is from Click).
Stoya (b. 1986) is an adult film actress, director and writer. A tall, pale brunette, with a dancer’s body, she is known to be intelligent and articulate. In 2007 she began working in the alt-porn genre, films which explore sexuality in off-beat and creative ways. Her movies include Voracious, Pirates, Nurses, Watch Over Me and Skip Trace, as well as the series Around the World in 80 Ways. The podcast Aural Spaces is co-run by Stoya and Mitcz Marzoni. At one time she was contracted to Digital Playground and was the co-owner of the website TRENCHCOATx with Kayden Kross. She has also appeared in several non-erotic, independent movies, like Ederlezi Rising, The Kingpin of Pain, Leaving Circadia and The Pilgrim. Stoya has written on erotic subjects for the New York Times, Vice, Esquire, Playboy, The Guardian and Nylon, as well as on her blog Hello, Stoya. She also writes a sex-advice column for The Verge. Her awards include a 2009 AVN Best New Starlet Award and a 2012 AVN Award – Hottest Sex Scene (Fan Award).
I love Stoya’s films. They are edgy and sexy. And so is she!
A link to “Classic Stoya”: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=stoya+porn+masturbation&&view=detail&mid=37233E6788E9DD5B603B37233E6788E9DD5B603B&FORM=VRDGAR
Amateur Allure is an adult entertainment website featuring young women with the “girl next door” look. The female performers either are appearing in a sex scene for the first time (and may never appear again) or they are brand new to the business. A man called “Thomas”, who handles all the production tasks, is the male performer. The format: a short interview; a display of physical attributes; oral sex; and intercourse, usually doggy-style, followed by missionary. Occasionally other routines spice things up: threesomes, foursomes, holiday themes, costumes. The women are treated respectfully and affectionately. Production values are high. The women are elegantly made-up with attractive haircuts and clothes. The setting is a stylish apartment. Camera work uses a soft halo effect and includes the camera swooping behind or alongside the woman as she performs fellatio. As the website’s signature move, the man releases in the woman’s mouth and asks her to show the results on her tongue. The site won the 2015 Adult Video Network Best Pro-Am Release Award.
Amateur Allure is the best adult entertainment site for the “girl next door” look. Highly recommended.
And a link: https://www.amateurallure.com/tour/scenes/Cadey-Mercury-and-Jill-Kassidy-POV-Horny-Schoolgirls-Love-to-Suck-Cock_vids.html
DITA VON TEESE
Dita Von Teese (b. 1972) is an erotic dancer, model, designer, singer, writer and actor. She is best-known as one of the stars of Neo-Burlesque dancing. Trained in ballet, she began performing striptease in 1992. Her look is retro: a throwback to 1940’s glamor, though with a hint of the fetish culture. (She designs her own costumes). Her dance routines are imaginative: lounging in a giant martini glass, riding astride a giant carousel horse, displaying herself wearing nothing but $5 million worth of diamonds, etc. In 2006 she was the first guest star to perform at Paris’s Crazy Horse revue. Von Teese’s modeling has included both magazines and the catwalk. (Her first fame came about through a 2002 Playboy cover and pictorial). She has modeled for top designers like Gaulthier, Jacob, Vuitton and Valli. Von Teese has written two books: Burlesque and the Art of the Teese/Fetish and The Art of the Teese and Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Beauty. In the past Von Teese has performed in soft-core, fetish films, like Romancing Sara, Matter of Trust, Pin Ups 2 and Decadence, and in recent years in mainstream movies such as The Death of Salvador Dali and Saint Francis as well as in television shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and America’s Next Top Model. Her videos include work with Green Day, Royal Crown Revue, Thirty Seconds to Mars and Marilyn Manson. In 2015 Von Teese released a self-titled album. She has also been active with the animal rights movement and in the fight against AIDS.
Dita Von Teese is a delight: sexy, entertaining, creative. Still performing at the age of 45, she notes that her idol Gypsy Rose Lee had a long career because she changed her act based on her age. “So who knows?” she says, smiling. “If you’d asked me when I was 21 what I was going to be doing now, I would have said, ‘There’s no way I’ll be doing a feather-fan dance with hardly any clothes on….! That’s so old!’”
A link to one of her martini glass routines: https://www.xvideos.com/video24074471/dita_von_teese._sexy_dance_strip
Henry Miller (1891-1980) was an American writer and painter. His many books included Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn, The Cosmological Eye, Quiet Days in Clichy, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare and The Rosy Crucifixion trilogy. He wrote about his life in New York and Paris, especially his sexual life. Developing a new literary form, he combined story, social criticism, philosophy, free association and mysticism, and he blended fiction and reality. He also wrote travel memoirs and literary criticism. He greatly influenced a number of writers, especially within the Beat Generation. His painting was mostly done in watercolors.
Miller was groundbreaking in the depiction of sexuality in his books. His language was explicit, and the acts described were graphic. Tropic of Cancer, his first published book, was published in Paris and banned in the United States and Britain on the grounds of obscenity. Several subsequent books were banned but smuggled into the US, earning him an underground reputation. Finally, in 1961, Tropic of Cancer was published in the United States, leading to a number of obscenity trials and culminating in the 1964 Supreme Court decision in Grove Press, Inc., v. Gerstein that declared the book a work of literature. It was a watershed moment for sexual art.
I have always been ambivalent about Henry Miller’s work. While I value its vitality, I have often been revolted by its grossness. But, with the 1964 Supreme Court decision that began to free sexual art in the United States, no one can deny its importance.
Jamie Gillis (1943-2010) was one of the premiere stars and directors of the Golden Age of Adult Films. A classically-trained repertory actor, in the early 1960’s, in New York City, he answered an ad for nude modeling and then became involved first in peep show films and later in the Golden Age erotic films. His 470 movies included The Story of Joanna; The Opening of Misty Beethoven; Barbara Broadcast; Coming of Angels; Through the Looking Glass; Oriental Blue; and Ecstasy Girls. As a director, with his On the Prowl series, he created reality erotic films. (This inspired a scene in the movie Boogie Nights). He also co-produced The Dirty Debutantes series, the first casting series. Bisexual, he appeared in a several gay scenes or films. Gillis appeared in live sex shows, reciting Shakespeare soliloquies to provide a “socially redeeming purpose” and avoid obscenity charges. He appeared in some mainstream films, like Nighthawks, as well. A member of the Adult Video Network and the XRCO Hall of Fame, he was the recipient of 12 of those organization’s awards. He was a talented raconteur, who had wanted his ashes scattered in Times Square but years later changed his mind, declaring that the cleaned-up Times Square would contaminate his ashes.
I first saw him in The Story of Joanna and thought he was remarkable. His pioneering work on reality and casting erotic films was a breakthrough. A great sexual artist.
A clip to Story of Joanna: https://www.xvideos.com/video30075655/the_story_of_joanna_vintage_movie
MARQUIS DE SADE
The Marquis de Sade (1740-1814), real name: Donatien François, was a writer, philosopher and criminal. He was infamous for his libertine sexuality. At various times, he raped and tortured men, women and children. His best-known books reflected his life, blending erotica and violence. They included Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man; The 120 Days of Sodom; Histories, Stories and Fables; Justine; Aline and Valcour; Philosophy in the Bedroom; Juliette; and Secret History of Isabelle of Bavaria, Queen of France. Most of them were published anonymously. As a result of his actions and writings, he spent 32 years in prisons or insane asylums. (Many of his works were written there). His name, of course, inspired the noun “sadist”.
I am appalled at the Marquis de Sade’s books. In those that I have read all gentleness and love are absent. With 120 Day of Sodom, for instance, De Sade wanted to write “the most impure tale that has ever been written since the world exists”. His works have an abstract value –as a sort of turning the world upside down –but they also inspired Nietzsche, who in turn laid one of the philosophical foundations for Nazism. What a waste of paper.
KIKI OF MONTPARNASSE
Kiki of Montparnasse (1901-1953) was a French artist, model and muse. Born illegitimately, she was raised by her grandmother in poverty. At the age of 12, she arrived in Paris and worked in a series of low-paying jobs. She began posing nude for a sculptor in her teens, quickly becoming a popular model, though she was sometimes still homeless. Among other artists who painted or photographed her were Soutine, Mandel, Foujita, Modigliani, Picabia, Cocteau, Breker, Calder and Kisling. She was the lover and muse of Man Ray, who photographed her extensively. (She also had a lengthy list of other lovers). Kiki appeared in several short films, including Léger’s Ballet Mécanique and Ray’s L’Étoile de Mer. A sold-out exhibition of her naïve paintings was displayed at the Galerie au Sacre du Printemps in Paris. Her autobiography was published as Kiki’s Memoirs, with Ernest Hemingway and Tsuguharu Foujita providing introductions. (The book was banned in the United States immediately and not published here until 1996). Kiki’s music hall performances in scanty lingerie featured risqué songs. Finally, she collapsed and died in the street from alcohol and drug complications.
Kiki was a marvel: bawdy, loud, free-wheeling and more than anything else a liberated woman. She didn’t give a damn! As Hemingway wrote, she was “about as close as people get nowadays to being a Queen but that, of course, is very different from being a lady”.
(At right are two views of Kiki).
INANNA AND DUMAZID
Poems about the goddess Inanna and the god Dumazid are the earliest erotic literature. They were written about 2500 BC. The goddess and god were part of the Sumerian religion. Inanna symbolized the Lover while Dumazid represented the Shepherd. Their interactions are depicted in a number of poems, some erotic, some not. There are many erotic verses about them, and they are preserved indirectly through Assyrian and Babylonian copies. During the Akitu festival, embodying Dumazid and Inanna, the Sumerian King legitimized his reign by engaging in ritualized sexual intercourse with the High Priestess. (Some scholars, however, think that this is based on a misinterpretation of Sumerian texts and may never have happened). Inanna was later referred to as Ishtar or Venus; Dumazid was later referred to as Tammuz or Adonis. Their stories were reflected in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Bible, Greek myths, and Assyrian and Babylonian literature. Milton also wrote about Dumazid (calling him Tammuz) in Paradise Lost. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem may have been built over a shrine to Tammuz. The Sumerian religion survived in the Middle East until the 18th century.
Below is one of the poems:
My vulva, the horn,/The Boat of Heaven,/Is full of eagerness like the young moon./My untilled land lies fallow./As for me, Inanna,/Who will plow my vulva?/Who will plow my high field?/Who will plow my wet ground?/As for me, the young woman,/Who will plow my vulva?/Who will station the ox there?/Who will plow my vulva?
A fascinating early relic of sexuality….
To the right is a Babylonian depiction of the sexual intercourse between Inanna and Dumazid.
THE KAMA SUTRA
The Kama Sutra is a philosophical treatise by the Hindu scholar Vātsyāyana. The book focuses on the relationships between men and women. In part, it contains advice about sexuality, including lovemaking positions. Its seven sections include: general remarks; lovemaking; marriage; wives; other women; courtesans; and sexual energy. The Kama Sutra is a prose work with occasional poetry. Originally it contained no illustrations, though many have been added subsequently Based on several earlier texts, it was compiled about the 2nd century AD. It was introduced to the West in 1883 by Sir Richard Burton and has gone through several other translations.
The Kama Sutra is a fascinating work. In line with Hindu belief, the book sees correct relationships between men and women, including sexuality, as a path to escaping rebirth.
Mihály Zichy (1827-1906) was a Hungarian Romantic painter. Among his works were “Lifeboat”, “Autodafé”, “Drinking Bout of Henry III”, “The Victory of the Genius of Destruction” and “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin”. He also painted portraits of Queen Elisabeth and Prime Minister Lajos Batthyány. As well, he worked as an illustrator (The Tragedy of Man by Madách, and twenty-four ballads of János Arany); a retoucher; and an art teacher. For Tsar Alexander II, he was a court artist. Zichy traveled widely in Europe, though he spent most of his life in Paris and St. Petersburg. Influenced by the politics of the era, he supported anticolonialism and antimilitarism. He founded a society to support impoverished painters.
Zichy drew numerous erotic sketches in ink. They varied widely (foreplay, masturbation, cunnilingus, fellatio, mutual masturbation, intercourse). His sketches are exquisite. He captured lovers realistically, and he conveyed them with intensity and passion. They look like they were partners in more than just their bodies. He also created many lovely drawings of female nudes.
Violet Blue is an American writer on sexuality, technology and privacy. She is the author of numerous books, including The Smart Girl’s Guide to Porn; The Ultimate Guide to Sexual Fantasy: How to Turn Your Fantasies into Reality; The Ultimate Guide to Cunnilingus: How to Go Down on a Woman and Give Her Exquisite Pleasure; The Ultimate Guide to Fellatio: How to Go Down on a Man and Give Him Mind-Blowing Pleasure; How To Be A Digital Revolutionary; and The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy. As an editor, she has produced Best Sex Writing 2005; and Best Women’s Erotica, years 2006 to 2011. As a journalist, she has worked for CBS Interactive and Geek Entertainment Television and written a sex column for the San Francisco Chronicle. Blue maintains a blog at www.tinynibbles.com, covering a wide variety of sexual topics. Her podcast Open Source Sex also explores these subjects. Her Digita Publications releases DRM-free audiobooks and ebooks on sexuality. Blue has lectured at San Francisco Sex Information. Among other media, she has appeared on BBC, CNN and Oprah Winfrey as well as in Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal. In 2006 and 2007 she was honored with Independent Publishers Book Awards, erotica category.
Violet Blue is one of the best contemporary writers on sexuality. Her tinynibbles contains smart and accurate information about sexuality. Her Open Source Sex and Eye Candy, the latter a part of Open Source Sex, are eye-opening sources for current erotica. I love her work! She is a treasure!
Ovid, formally Publius Ovidius Naso, (43 BC-17 AD) was a Roman poet and playwright. He wrote verse on various topics, though much of it was about love, especially erotic love. Among his works were Women’s Facial Cosmetics; The Cure for Love; Metamorphoses; The Festivals; and The Ibis. His erotic poetry included The Loves and The Art of Love. He was enormously popular in his lifetime and was a major influence on Shakespeare, Marlowe and Cervantes. He is now considered one of the foremost Latin poets.
The Loves is about the poet’s relationship with his mistress Corinna. It consists of 49 poems, in three books, in elegiac couplets. Some of the verse is sexual. In the piece love triumphs over people, a first use of this plot. The Art of Love is about seduction. It consists of 57 poems, in three books, in elegiac couplets. In turn, it teaches how to seduce women; how to keep women; and how to seduce men. Much of the poetry is sexual. The erotica depicted ranges from deep love to wild desire.
Ovid’s poetry is a delight. It is knowing and witty. An excerpt from The Loves:
I snatched her gown, being thin the harm was small,/Yet strived she to be covered therewithal, /And, striving thus as one that would be chaste,/Betrayed herself, and yielded at the last./Stark naked as she stood before my eye,/Not one flaw on her body could I spy./What arms and shoulders did I touch and see?/How likely her breasts were to be pressed by me?/How smooth a belly under her waist saw I?/How lovely a calf, and what a lusty thigh?/To leave the rest, all liked me passing well;/I clung to her naked body and down she fell. /Judge you the rest./ Being tired, she bade me kiss.
Please note: no authentic portrait of Ovid exists. The picture at right is from a fresco by Luca Signorelli.
Erotic films started to appear virtually with the invention of motion pictures. They were shown in brothels, private clubs and homes. Filmmakers found that there was great profit in their production.
Softcore films began to be shown in 1896. Le Coucher de la Mariée, a French film, featured Louise Willy doing a striptease and was directed by Eugène Pirou and filmed by Albert Kirchner. The Coochie-Coochie Dance, an American film, had the belly dancer Fatima gyrating. The Kiss, an American film, showed May Irwin and John Rice performing the very first kiss on film and was directed by William Heise for the Edison Studios. Beginning in 1906, the Austrian films Das Sandbad, Baden Verboten, Das Eitle Stubenmädchen, Beim Fotografen and dozens of other movies exhibited nude women in various scenarios. They were created by Johann Schwarzer and his Saturn-Film Studios.
Hardcore films are rumored to have been first shown about 1900. South American brothels are said to have displayed them about that time, though none survive. A L’Ecu d’Or ou la Bonne Auberge (c. 1908), a French film, depicts a soldier and two servant girls having oral sex and intercourse at an inn. El Sátirio (c. 1908), an Argentinian film, has a woman and the devil performing 69 and intercourse in the countryside. Am Abend (c. 1910), a German film, displays a woman masturbating in her bedroom, then a man joining her for fellatio and intercourse. A Free Ride (c. 1915), an American film, has a man and two women engaging in mutual masturbation, fellatio and intercourse in the woods.
The early erotic films are fascinating to watch. They display, in a crude version, the same cinematic techniques used in later erotic films. Well-worth viewing.
A link to Free Ride: https://www.xvideos.com/video1994497/antique_porn_1915_-_a_free_ride.
HOT GIRLS WANTED
Hot Girls Wanted (2015) is a documentary about young women who work in the adult film industry. It features Stella May, Lucy Tyler, Ava Taylor and Jade, the last of whom does not use a surname. They are all brand new performers in adult movies. Managed by Riley Reynolds of Hussie Models, they go on shoots, shop, club or hang out in rented rooms at Reynolds’ home in Miami. One young woman visits her family back in Texas and ultimately drops out of the films. Another explains the bottom-line: “Are you kidding me? I made $900 in five hours. I’m going to go home and make $8.25 an hour? No. No, no, no, no.” In pursuit of that, some of the young women decide to appear in abusive videos. Hot Girls Wanted was directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus and was written by Brittany Huckabee. Among others, Rashida Jones produced.
Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On (2017) is a spin-off miniseries exploring further aspects of the adult film industry.
Hot Girls Wanted is a fascinating look behind the scenes of adult movies. Instead of the fantasies that show up onscreen, the realities of these young women are depicted. They are hopeful, bored, innocent. More than anything, they are normal young women struggling to become adults. Highly recommended.
POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM EROTIC ART
Erotic art was discovered in 1752 at the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. They dated back to 79 AD when those cities were destroyed by a volcanic eruption. Originally they were placed in the Secret Museum section of the Naples National Archaeological Museum. Due to the shock at their eroticism, for most of the years since then, they have been shown only to a handful of people. They are now available for viewing to all. Minors, however, are still only allowed entry with an adult or written permission.
The erotic art recovered included sculptures, frescoes, mosaics and household objects. Graffiti was also found. The sculpture perhaps the most famous was “Pan and the Goat”, which depicted them engaged in intercourse. Frescos and mosaics featured Priapus, the god of sex, and other deities as well as people in various sexual acts. Household objects were mainly phalluses, used as windchimes, lamps, decorations, etc. Graffiti was diverse but often offered services: “Euplia sucks for five sesterces” or “If anyone is looking for some tender love in this town, keep in mind that here all the girls are very friendly”. In addition to brothels, the art was located in homes, gardens, judicial courts, theaters, public baths and even in the streets. Straight sex, gay sex, group sex and bestiality is displayed.
The erotic art of Pompeii and Herculaneum offers a complicated view of sexuality. It is straight-forward, reflecting the open attitude toward sexuality in Roman culture of the late first century. Interestingly, instead of focusing exclusively on the pleasurable element, as is the current view, it also represented fertility. The art, especially the sculpture, is often exquisitely-made. But most of the women and some of the men depicted in the frescos and mosaics look oddly joyless, if not grim. (They were slaves, who were used as sex workers). Strangely, their customers also appear unhappy. One is left wondering exactly what these Romans felt about sexuality.
Sappho (c. 630-570 BC) was a Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. Little is known about her for certain. She is said to have come from a wealthy family, with several brothers. She is supposed to have been married and to have had a daughter. She is believed to have run a finishing school for young women and to have been exiled to Sicily about 600 BC, though she was later allowed to return to her home.
Sappho wrote poems mainly about her love for other women. She explored this both romantically and erotically. She also wrote verse about family, marriage and old age as well as elegies. Her genre was lyric poetry, verse recited to the accompaniment of a lyre, solo or in a chorus. One of the first poets to use “I”, she adopted a personal tone, and she wrote with simplicity and clarity. Her language was Aeolian Greek. Sappho’s collected works contained around 10,000 lines, though only one complete poem and several fragments survive, numbering about 650 lines. Widely popular and respected for her verse through the centuries, she was known as “The Poetess” and “The Tenth Muse”. One admirer said of her poems, “Are you not astonished?”
Sappho’s erotic poetry was exquisite. Intense emotion was a hallmark. It is a tragedy that so few of her poems still exist. I wish I could listen to her verse as it was meant to be heard: accompanied by the lyre, much as a singer-songwriter performs with a guitar or piano nowadays.
From Fragment 31, as Sappho watches her beloved talk to a man:
That man to me seems equal to the gods,/the man who sits opposite you/and close by listens/to your sweet voice and your enticing laughter—/that indeed has stirred up the heart in my breast./For whenever I look at you even briefly/I can no longer say a single thing, but my tongue is frozen in silence;/instantly a delicate flame runs beneath my skin;/with my eyes I see nothing;/my ears make a whirring noise./A cold sweat covers me,/trembling seizes my body,/and I am greener than grass./ Lacking but little of death do I seem.
(Above is a painting of Sappho on pottery created by the Sappho Painter, c. 510 BC)
Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) was a French-American writer, dancer, actor and therapist. She wrote novels, short stories, criticism, essays and erotica. Starting at age 11 and until her death, she kept diaries, and these became her best-known books. Surrealism and psychoanalysis greatly influenced her writing. She also brought a strongly feminine viewpoint to her work. In the 1920’s Nin trained as a flamenco dancer in Paris with Francisco Miralles Arnau. Her films included Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome; Ritual in Transfigured Time; and Bells of Atlantis. In the 1930’s she studied under psychoanalysts René Allendy and Otto Rank. She was a friend or lover of many famous people, including Henry Miller, John Steinbeck, Antonin Artaud, Gore Vidal, Lawrence Durrell and Carlos Castaneda. In 1974 she was elected to the United States National Institute of Arts and Letters.
Nin wrote three books of erotica: Delta of Venus; Little Birds; and Auletris. A wealthy man paid her to produce the works. None were meant to be published, though the first two were released in her lifetime and the last posthumously. Because of her feminine viewpoint, a focus on the senses, feelings and relationships was prominent. Her style was elegant and without obscenities. Topics explored were sometimes extreme, however: prostitution, incest, threesomes, rape, pedophilia, bestiality, sadomasochism, etc., etc. Incest, the third volume of her diaries, details the sexual abuse she suffered from her father. Other diaries recounted her extra-marital affairs and bigamous marriages.
I have always enjoyed Anaïs Nin’s erotica. It is beautifully-written. And the way it communicates a woman’s viewpoint about sexuality is a breakthrough in erotica. On the other hand, I have been put off by some of the subjects she covered, as referenced above.
“I had a feeling that Pandora’s Box contained the mysteries of woman’s sensuality, so different from a man’s and for which man’s language was so inadequate. The language of sex had yet to be invented. The language of the senses was yet to be explored.”
“Only the united beat of sex and the heart can create ecstasy.”
Prince (1958-2016), real name: Prince Rogers Nelson, was a musician, producer, actor and filmmaker. A multi-instrumentalist, he played guitar superbly and could sing from falsetto to baritone. His music was a blend of many genres: funk, soul, jazz, rock. Prince released 39 albums, including Controversy; Purple Rain; Around the World in a Day; and Diamonds and Pearls. Among his hits were “1999”; “When Doves Cry”; “Let’s Go Crazy”; and “Raspberry Beret”. His 1984 film Purple Rain was autobiographical. Prince won eight Grammy Awards; six American Music Awards; a Golden Globe Award; and an Academy Award, and he sold over 100 million records. In 2004 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Prince was famous for his flamboyance, both on and off stage. His wild fashions, favoring the color purple, and his prominent make-up gave him an androgynous look.
Prince composed numerous erotic songs. Among them were “Darling Nikki” (masturbation); “Head” (oral sex); “Jack U Off” (handjobs); “Sister” (incest); “Erotic City” (intercourse); “Sugar Walls” (vaginas); “Orgasm” (orgasms); and “Uptown” (orgies). His work explored the connections of spirituality and sexuality. At times he saw them in conflict with each other. At other times he felt they meshed perfectly. Toward the end of his life, however, he became a Jehovah’s Witness and toned down the eroticism of his songs.
I always loved Prince’s music. They were a backdrop for the 1980’s for me. I also respected that his music continued to develop in subsequent years. And I remain fascinated by his investigation of religion and eroticism.
“Hard to say what’s right when all I wanna do is wrong”.
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, known by his first name Michelangelo, (1475-1564) was an Italian sculptor, painter, poet and architect. Among his most famous works were the statues Pietà and David, the frescoes Genesis and The Last Judgment and the designs of the Laurentian Library and St. Peter’s Basilica. As well, he composed over three hundred sonnets, elegies and madrigals. Michelangelo was called Il Divino (“the divine one”) by his contemporaries. He is considered by many as the greatest artist who ever lived.
Michelangelo often focused on beautiful men in his art. He portrayed them nude both in his paintings and statues, and he frequently made presentation drawings to give to them. He also hired young men as his models. (Some of them became his lovers but then blackmailed him or stole from him). But it was in his poetry and letters that he most explicitly displayed his passion. He wrote especially about and to Tommaso dei Cavalieri and Cecchino dei Bracci.
I am a resolute heterosexual but I first got some inkling of what a gay man feels when I saw David. It is a gorgeous, voluptuous figure. What a gift from Michelangelo to have communicated to the world the love he felt for men.
Below is an excerpt of an elegy to dei Bracci and to the right is David.
the flesh and bones are here in the earth/without those beautiful eyes and pretty face/remind me about what was graceful in bed/that embraced, that lives in the soul.
(Translated by S. Grey)
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was, of course, the greatest writer who ever lived. His works consist of 39 plays, 154 sonnets and two long poems. The plays fall into three categories: comedies, dramas and histories. Touching on practically all aspects of life, Shakespeare created a universal art. He is considered England’s national poet. Many of the lines from his writings have entered into common usage. His works have been translated into every language and are performed more widely than any other playwright’s.
Shakespeare wove erotica throughout his writings. This ranged from romance to gender roles to sexual violence. Romeo and Juliet focused on young romance. The Sonnets showed his lust for a married woman and his desire for a young man. Comedy of Errors played with gender. Venus and Adonis described seduction. The Rape of Lucrece recounted a rape. Raucous sexual puns are also scattered throughout his works.
I have always loved William Shakespeare’s writings. When I was 15, I had a lucid dream about meeting Shakespeare, and I took it as a sign that I should be a writer. What a delight to come upon the erotica in his plays and poetry.
Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry/Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie.”
I Modi (The Ways) is perhaps the first collection of erotic drawings in the modern era. The 16 illustrations of sexual positions were published in 1524. Guiliano Romano (c. 1499-1546) drew the pictures, based on a commission from Federico II Gonzaga. Marcantonio Raimondi (c. 1475-1535) got hold of the pictures, made engravings of them and had them published. In response, Pope Clement VII had Raimondi jailed for obscenity and most of the copies of I Modi destroyed. Romano was not arrested since his work was not meant to be publicly displayed. Pietro Aretino (1492-1556) composed sonnets to accompany each drawing for the second edition in 1527. He also got Raimondi out of prison. I Modi’s second edition was also largely destroyed, however. Agostino Carracci (c. 1557-1602) made engravings about 1590, using the Raimondi drawings. Today I Modi is known through the edition created in 1798 by Jacques Joseph Coiny (1761-1809), based on the Caracci engravings. Several other editions exist, including an anonymous 1550 woodcut and one by Jean Frederic Waldeck. The Romano drawings do not survive. Only a few original fragments of the Raimondi engravings still exist.
I Modi portrays sexual positions, employing classical mythology and history. Famous lovers are depicted, like Antony and Cleopatra, as well as gods and goddesses, like Mars and Venus. The bodies of the lovers are reminiscent of Greek statuary. Settings are stage-like. Intercourse shown is both soft-core and hard-core.
I am not a fan of Renaissance painting. But there is a grace and intensity to the I Modi pictures. Fascinating works.
Homegrown Videos is an adult entertainment company that releases amateur erotic videos. Everyday people film themselves engaging in sex. It was the first company to distribute this kind of video and remains the premier company to do so. The company was founded by video store owner Greg Swaim in 1982 in San Diego. Video cameras and VHS tapes had recently become available. Swaim used them to film his locally popular sex parties, then began encouraging people to sell him their videos. He offered the videos for rent at his store. In 1993 Swaim sold the company to Tim Lake, an erotic movie performer. Lake expanded the business by distributing the videos world-wide and taking them onto cable television and the internet. Homegrown Videos has won 11 AVN Awards and 2 XBIZ Awards for Best Amateur Release, Best Amateur Series and Niche Studio of the Year. It is the longest running series of erotic videos in history.
Homegrown Videos provides a refreshing take on erotic videos. Attractiveness of the performers vary. But their passion (and their humor) is very real.
PARIS EROTIC MUSEUM
The Museum of Eroticism (Musee de l’Erotisme) in Paris housed erotic art from around the world. Pieces included paintings, photographs, films, pottery, toys, cartoons and sculptures. They ranged from classical to contemporary times. One floor was devoted to the legal French brothels of the 19th and 20th centuries and included Polisson et Galipettes, erotic short films shown in the brothels. Seven stories high, the museum was located in the Pigalle district of Montmartre. Alain Plumey and Joseph Khalifa were the founders. Sadly, it closed in 2016.
I visited the Erotic Museum in 2015. I was charmed. The museum was a marvelous collection of erotica. It will be missed.
Cadey Mercury (b. 1996) is an American cam girl. She is slight, tom-boyish, tattooed, pierced, and currently blue-haired. She was active in the adult film industry from 2015 to 2018, with 22 movies to her credit, including Helping My Roommate, Nuru Massage, Natural Beauties 6 and Cat Burglar. Among the companies she worked for were Vixen, Burning Angel, Amateur Allure and Pure Taboo. Mercury is now retired from adult films. Her cam site is at cadeymercuryx and is available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings and occasionally other nights. She is also active on Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
Mercury is a quintessential “girl next door”, appealing, playful, outgoing. Her audition for newvideogirls.com was remarkable for its low-key naturalness. Another performer who should be better known!
NINON DE L’ENCLOS
Anne “Ninon” de l’Enclos (1620-1705) was a French courtesan, writer, teacher, salonnière and patron. Determined to remain independent, she became a courtesan at the age of 18. Her wealthy and powerful lovers included many members of the royalty and the clergy. Witty, charming and intelligent, she had a talent for staying friends with all of them. A philosopher, Ninon saw lovemaking as sensuality with no strings attached; regarded women as absolutely equal to men; and believed that there was no God. She wroteLa Coquette Vengée, which detailed these views, though some doubt her authorship.She had a vast correspondence, which also reflected these beliefs. Ninon’s salon was a gathering-place for some of the foremost minds of her generation, such as Descartes, Saint-Évremond, Racine and de Maintenon. As well, she ran a School of Love, open to both men and women, where she presented lectures on lovemaking and all its aspects. Ninon was the patron of Molière and Voltaire. She died at 84, greatly respected in French society.
I was charmed by Ninon de l’Enclos’s refreshing view of sexuality. A rare mind.
And a quote: “Much more genius is needed to make love than to command armies”.
Il Decameron is a collection of 100 stories by Giovanni Boccaccio. Some of the tales are erotic. They are told by seven women and three men, who take refuge in a villa outside Florence, over a ten-day period, during the Black Death, c.1350. Il Decameron was written in Italian, rather than in Latin, an early example of the use of the vernacular. The book was composed about 1352, with revisions around 1371. It was greatly influential, inspiring writers, like Chaucer and Shakespeare.
Typical of the erotic stories is the Masetto tale, the first story shared on the third day. Masetto, a young man, gets a job as a gardener in a convent. He pretends to be mute and slow to gain sympathy from the nuns. He ends up having sex with all of them, including the Abbess. Worn out finally, Masetto reveals that he is not disabled and begs the Abbess for a way to service all the nuns without exhausting himself. After the Abbess and the nuns devise a schedule for him, all are happy. The story ends with Masetto old now, the father of many children by the nuns.
Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) was an Italian writer, scholar and diplomat. Besides Il Decameron, his many works included Il Filostrato, Teseida , Il Filocolo, La Caccia di Diana, Comedia delle Ninfe Fiorentine, Amorosa Visione, De Claris Mulieribus, De Casibus Virorum Illustrium, Esposizioni Sopra la Commedia di Dante and Corbaccio. Boccaccio was especially concerned with the oppression of women. He was close to Francesco Petrarch, another Italian writer, and the two greatly influenced each other.
Il Decameron is a delightful book, if a bit outrageous at times. Very bawdy!
(Above is a still from Piers Paolo Pasolini’s film of Il Decameron).
Blue Movie (1969) is an erotic film written, directed and produced by Andy Warhol. Louis Waldon and Viva starred. In the movie, in a New York City apartment, two people talk about the Vietnam War, marriage and other subjects; watch television; shower; dress; and cook. At one point they make love. The film appeared to be blue because Warhol accidentally used film meant for night shoots. (The title was a double entendre, “blue” referring to both erotic movies and the film’s color). After being shown privately at the Factory, it was screened publicly in theaters. The New York City police raided the Garrick Theater and seized the film in July 1969. The New York Criminal Court found it obscene, and the theater’s manager was fined. Blue Movie, a book with dialogue and stills, was published in 1970.
Andy Warhol (1928-1987), of course, was the American artist prominent in the Pop Art movement. He created paintings, sculpture, photography and films that explored advertising and celebrity. As regards his films, he wanted to avoid interpretation and to show the act itself. He said about Blue Movie, “”I’d always wanted to do a movie that was pure fucking, nothing else, the way Eat had been just eating and Sleep had been just sleeping.” (Originally the film was titled Fuck). He also noted, however, “Blue Movie was real. But it wasn’t done as pornography—it was done as an exercise, an experiment. But I really do think movies should arouse you, should get you excited about people, should be prurient. Prurience is part of the machine. It keeps you happy. It keeps you running.”
Blue Movie was the first serious erotic film shown in theaters. It was a landmark event and led to the “Golden Age of Porn” in the 1970’s. An interesting film well-worth seeing.
Egon Schiele (1890-1918) was an Austrian expressionist painter. Influenced by Gustav Klimt, he mainly created self-portraits and paintings of women. The works were colorful and angular and infused with sexuality. He portrayed nude women frequently, often in masturbation or lovemaking, straight and gay.
Schiele’s paintings were extraordinary. The eroticism of his paintings of adult women are breath-taking. His other paintings were disturbing. Among his first works were his sister in the nude and others showed underage girls. (He committed incest and pedophilia and was, in fact, arrested for the latter).
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FLEA
The Autobiography of a Flea (1887) is an erotic novel by Stanislas de Rhodes. The story concerns Bella, a young and innocent woman used sexually by various men, including clergy. The narrator is a flea, “a wonderful and exalted insect”, as he describes himself, present on different bodies during the lovemaking. The book was made into a film in 1976, the first adult film directed by a woman.
The Autobiography of a Flea is yet another manifestation of that odd Victorian eroticism: sensuality breaking through repression. Well-worth reading.
Gabbie Carter (b. 2000) is an American adult film actor. A tall, well-built blonde woman from Austin, Texas, she is one of those “girl next door” types so popular in erotic films nowadays. Carter began working in erotica by posting photos of herself on reddit, then selling her panties online. She has appeared in over 30 films, including Sex Machines, She Was Me, Bounce Bounce and Inauguration. She also did a photo shoot for Holly Randall and cam shows through Camsoda. While working on set, she is thought to be friendly and down-to-earth. Matrix Models represents her.
Gabbie Carter is considered the newest sensation in adult films. Her freshness and her looks have made her very much in demand.
Hazel Honeysuckle is an American dancer. Her style varies from classic burlesque to wacky nerdy. Known as “The Delicate Flower”, she has headlined on stages across the United States and Europe. She has toured in the revues Twirly Whirly Burly-Q and Mason Dixie Burlesque and has performed in the shows Erotic Broadway: Vintage Variety, Absinthe and Wasabassco. As well, Honeysuckle is an actor, who has appeared in the television series House of Cards and Orange is the New Black and in the documentary Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story. She is also a model, having worked in shoots for lingerie, pinup, fashion, etc., and been featured in the New York Times Magazine and a commercial for Michelle Jonas. A creative designer, Honeysuckle sews her own and other’s costumes. Her awards have included a Golden Pastie and “Princess of Southern Exposure”. She has also been named one of the worldwide Top 50 Burlesque Performers by 21st Century Burlesque.
Hazel Honeysuckle is one of the premier burlesque dancers. Her talent and inventiveness as a dancer is delightful.
A link to a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywzHpnWBu30
Playboy is an American men’s entertainment magazine. It was founded in Chicago in 1953, primarily by Hugh Hefner. Its theme is hedonism, that is, life is there to be enjoyed, and it portrays women as girl-next-door types, who like sex. Playboy became famous for its centerfolds of naked models, many of their pictures taken by prominent photographers. As well, it was known for its short stories and cartoons by notable writers and cartoonists and its interviews of public figures. Over the years Playboy expanded to the Playboy clubs; other magazines, like Oui, Special Editions and the international editions; erotic videos; and Playboy Plus, an online service. The magazine’s circulation reached a peak of around five million in the 1970’s. Competition from other magazines, videos and the internet -and finally the recent plague -have resulted it now being published only online. Though criticized by some on both the left and the right, Playboy had a significant role in the sexual revolution.
Playboy was my introduction to erotica. It was the first place I saw pictures of nude women. It remains an elegant and enjoyable magazine.
Sasha Grey (b. 1988) is an American adult film actor, model, director, musician and writer. Her 190 erotic films include Fashionistas Safado: The Challenge, Babysitters, Pirates II: Stagnetti’s Revenge and Throat: A Cautionary Tale. She was especially known for her bondage and sadomasochism work. In 2009 she left the adult film industry. Subsequently, Grey appeared in the films The Girlfriend Experience, Open Windows and Black Licorice; the TV series Entourage; and videos for The Smashing Pumpkins, The Roots and Eminem. She directed the films Birthday Party and The Seduction, and she voiced the video games Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell. Among others, Grey modeled for Penthouse and Flaunt and for Azria, Kern and American Apparel. Her discography, with the band aTelecine, includes aVigillant Carpark, …And Six Dark Hours Pass and A Cassette Tape Culture as well as solo appearances.She published the booksNeü Sex and The Juliette Society trilogy. In 2008 she won the Adult Video News Award for Female performer of the Year and in 2009 AVN Awards in 15 categories.
I had seen Sasha Grey in The Girlfriend Experience. I had never seen any of her erotic work, however. She was considered a sensation in adult films. After I looked at some of her work, I can see why. She is torrid. A very interesting artist.
STORY OF O
Story of O (1954) is a French erotic novel by Anne Desclos, under the pseudonym Pauline Réage. The book recounts the tale of O, a gorgeous Parisian photographer, who allows herself to be made a sexual slave to René, her lover. Over time she submits to other men and even lures other women into sexual slavery. Various endings exist. In one version she asks for permission to kill herself, which is granted. The sexuality described is various. The other actions include stripping, blindfolding, chaining and whipping. O’s anus is widened with plugs; her labia are pierced; and her buttocks are branded. Story of O won the Prix des Deux Magots, though the government also brought obscenity charges. The charges failed in court but the book was banned for several years. Several films, including The Story of Joanna, were inspired by the book. Guido Crepax created a graphic novel version.
The Story of O is a remarkable novel. Superbly written, it details the degradation of a person. Excuses are made for this evil. In the end I found the book repellent.
X-Art is an internet website featuring erotic videos. It was created by Brigham Field and Colette Pelissier Field in 2009. Their intent was to create an elegant and intimate eroticism on film. The sexuality is various, including intercourse, oral sex, masturbation, threesomes and lesbianism. Many of them runway models and some of them couples in real-life, the actors are gorgeous young men and women. Most perform only in X-Art films. Many of the women do not allow ejaculations into their vaginas. (The semen displayed is actually conditioner). Since they are rising film talents, some of the directors are anonymous. X-Art’s production values are high, including filming in foreign locations, such as Ibiza, Madrid and Prague. The cinematography is thoroughly professional, and the stories avoid the usual adult film clichés. With the film “Farewell” in 2012, they moved into feature films.
I have always enjoyed the art-house quality of X-Art’s films. They are beautifully-made and powerfully-arousing works.
James Deen (b. 1986) is an American adult film actor and director. Known for his “boy-next-door” looks, he has become a top star. His many films include The Art of Romance, Married with Boyfriends, New Sensations, The Innocence of Youth, Boss Lady and Polyamory. His honors include several Adult Video Network awards, including Male Performer of the Year, Most Outrageous Sex Scene and Best Group Sex Scene. He has also appeared in some mainstream films, such as The Canyons. At the invitation of educators, he has spoken about sexuality, legislation, contraception and other topics to college students. In 2015 several women made allegations of sexual abuse, including rape, against Deen. The allegations do not seem to have been resolved, though he was dropped by several companies for whom he was endorsing products as well as the Adult Performer Advocacy Committee, a trade organization.
I had been unfamiliar with James Deen. I did watch a few videos of his for research. They were full of rough sex. I found them troubling as I did the allegations against him.
WowGirls is a website featuring adult film videos. The site began streaming in 2012 and is associated with the sites Wow Porn, All Fine Girls and Ultra Films. The models are young and gorgeous, a mix of new actors and famous stars, all from eastern Europe. Production values are high. Scenes include intercourse, oral sex, lesbian and group sex. Female masturbation, solo and group, is especially showcased.
I enjoy WowGirls. Its videos are passionate and elegant. Highly recommended.
Candida Royalle (1950-2015) was an American actor, director and producer. She became the first prominent female director of adult films, after a career as a performer. Her works included Afrodite Superstar, Caribbean Heat, Sensual Escape, Femme, Urban Heat, Eyes of Desire, Three Daughters, A Taste of Ambrosia, Stud Hunters and One Size Fits All. Her films were made for women and for couples, and they did not demean women. (For example, she refused to allow ejaculations in women’s faces). Writing, acting and production values were excellent. Femme Productions, her company, included the Guest Director Series, through which other women were able to direct erotic films. Royalle created a line of sex toys named Natural Contours, one of which was the first vibrator that rejected the standard penis shape. As well, she wrote the book How to Tell A Naked Man What to Do and spoke frequently at universities and conferences. Royalle belonged to the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists and was a founding board member of Feminists for Free Expression. Her honors included the X-Rated Critics Organization Hall of Fame Award, a Free Speech Coalition Lifetime Achievement Award for Directing and a Doctorate in Human Sexuality from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality.
Candida Royalle was a remarkable pioneer in erotic films. Her female sensibility added a new dimension to this genre.
“Humans have been curious to look at erotic art and explicit sexual art since they etched and carved images into caves on walls, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. What I did feel is that these movies were being sold on the backs of women, and there was nothing about women’s sexuality. Women had no voice in the movies, and it was time for that to stop”.
Skin Diamond (b. 1987) is a dancer, actor, director, model and musician. She has been an exotic dancer in London’s fetish clubs. She has also appeared in over 150 erotic films, including Shut Up and Fuck, Black Diamonds, Mind Fuck, The Walking Dead, and The Doctor Whore Porn Parody. Much in demand due to her exotic background -Ethiopian and Danish, among others -and her alternative look -tattoos, piercings, shaved-on-one-side haircut -she was one of the most popular adult film actresses. She also directed the erotic film The Dollhouse. Her Adult Video Network, X-Rated Critics Organization and XBIZ nominations and awards numbered over 50. Diamond was also featured in the magazines Bizarre, i-D, and Penthouse and in ads forLouis Vuitton, Atsuko Kudo and American Apparel. As well, she posed for the character Echo in Marvel Comic’s Daredevil” End of Days. Diamond retired from performing in erotic films in 2016 and is focused on songwriting and mainstream acting currently. She has released a single “Fire” and has appeared in the Showtime series Submission.
I had been unfamiliar with Skin Diamond’s films. I had seen her photo, however, and was drawn by her beauty. After watching some of her videos, I saw that she is stunning: passionate, quirky, gorgeous.
VENUS OF HOHLE FELS
The Venus of Hohle Fels is the oldest figurative sculpture in the world. It dates from the Aurignacian period, c. 40,000 to 35,000 B.C.E. and was created by the first Cro-Magnon humans in Europe. The sculpture was assembled from six fragments found in a cave near Schelklingen, Germany, in 2008. It depicts a woman with enormous breasts, belly, vagina and buttocks, with the left shoulder and arm missing. Instead of a head, perhaps to allow it to be worn on a necklace, there is a small, perforated nub. The sculpture is 2.4 inch high and made of mammoth ivory. It rests now in the Prehistoric Museum of Blaubeuren.
The Venus figurines were found mainly in Europe, though some have been unearthed from as far away as Siberia. About 200 have been discovered, most dating from the Gravettian period, c. 26,000-21,000 B.C.E. They are made from soft stone, bone, ivory or fired clay and range from one to twenty inches in height. As with the Venus Hohle Fels sculpture, female attributes are exaggerated. Often arms and feet are absent, the legs taper to a point and the head is small or faceless. Their purpose is unknown. They may have been a representation of a female God; an expression of fertility; or a self-portrait of the artist. What the artists called them also is unknown; archaeologists named them Venuses.
The Venus of Hohle Fels is a remarkable object. It is a gorgeous piece of sculpture. And it is the oldest sexual art in existence.
The Satyricon (c. 60 AD) is a satiric Roman novel written by Gaius Petronius. It details the adventures of Encolpius, a retired gladiator, and his friends. The work contains prose and verse and serious and comic incidents. It also includes erotica (pedophilia, orgies, homosexuality, dildoes, prostitution, straight sex). Though a satire, the book is a valuable record of everyday Roman life. The Satyricon is one of the few Roman books that survive. (Some sections are missing, however). It inspired many modern works, especially 18th century English novels and 19th century French novels and the film Fellini Satyricon.
Gaius Petronius (27-66 AD) was an official at the court of Nero. He advised the emperor on fashion. His life was devoted to indulgence, especially sexuality. Accused of treason, he committed suicide.
The Satyricon is a fascinating depiction of Roman sexuality. (It is not entirely accurate, however. Sexuality among the Romans was more restrained than it is usually shown). The book is witty, vivid and wide-ranging. It remains an enjoyable read.
Chloe Morgane (b. 1975), aka Camille Crimson, is a French-Canadian adult film actor. Chloe Morgane, her website, features oral sex as well as masturbation, intercourse and sixty-nine. She creates the website -coding, editing, acting, filming, marketing -entirely by herself. Her boyfriend performs with her. As well, she occasionally writes an advice column on Peeperz. Morgane also has the websites Dolorem, The Art of the Blowjob, Pornographic Love and Slow Motion Blowjob. Her honors include a Feminist Porn Award and the Fleshbot’s Crush Object of The Year. A self-confessed geek, at the same time she is an avid motorcyclist.
Chloe Morgane is a gorgeous, redheaded cougar. Her websites are professional and sensual. Highly recommended.
“No two people/penises are exactly alike”.
THE AIN SAKHRI SCULPTURE
The Ain Sakhri sculpture, also known as the Ain Sakhri Lovers, is the oldest depiction of sexual intercourse in the world. It depicts two faceless and genderless figures, their arms and legs wrapped around each other. Depending on the perspective, it also resembles a vagina or penis. The sculpture is made of calcite stone and is about four inches high. An artist from a people called the Natufians created it. Discovered in the Ain Sakhri caves near Bethlehem in the early 20th century, it dates from about 11,00 B.C.E. It rests now in the British Museum.
The Ain Sakhri sculpture is not only erotic but touching. It shows two lovers together, thousands of years ago but timeless.
John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester, (1647-1680) was a British poet and playwright. He was notorious for his erotic verse and plays, most of which were published posthumously. (A complete collection was issued only in the 20th century). His verse was explicit or as one writer pointed out, he was “always more than happy to call a dildo a dildo.” Among his poetry was “The Imperfect Enjoyment”, “Song”, “A Ramble in St. James’s Park”, “A Satyr against Reason and Mankind” and “On Nothing” and included in his plays were Sodom, or the Quintessence of Debauchery. (Sodom is attributed to Rochester, though his authorship is not certain). Wilmot was also infamous for his libertine life, full of sex and violence, and he was a noted bisexual. A prominent figure in the English Restoration, he was especially dedicated to opposing the Puritans. He died at a young age of syphilis and alcoholism.
I did not quite know what to make of Wilmot and his poetry. While I enjoyed his bluntness, I was dismayed by his detachment. He appeared to look on other people as things to be used.
From “Regime de Vivre”:
I rise at eleven, I dine about two,
I get drunk before seven, and the next thing I do,
I send for my whore, when for fear of the clap,
I spend in her hand, and I spew in her lap.
(After passing out)
If by chance then I wake, hot-headed and drunk,
What a coil do I make for the loss of my punk!
I storm and I roar, and I fall in a rage.
And missing my whore, I bugger my page.
Le Lit (The Bed) is a series of four paintings depicting two women. They include Le Lit, Dans Le Lit, Au Lit: Le Baiser and Au Lit: Le Baiser, the last two with the same name but different paintings. Bright red and yellow and dark grey, green and blue colors are used. The paintings were created by Henri Toulouse-Lautrec about 1895. He had been inspired by his time decorating a Paris brothel on the Rue d’Ambroise. They hang now in the Musée d’Orsay and in private collections.
I was very moved by these paintings. The affection and desire of these two women is plain.
To the right is one version of Au Lit: Le Baiser.
TOM OF FINLAND
Tom of Finland, formal name Touko Laaksonen, (1920-1991), was a Finnish artist known for his erotic art. He drew hyper-masculine, working-class men. He also created comics and took photographs. His Tom of Finland Company collected, preserved and exhibited gay art while his Tom of Finland Clothing Company produced a fashion line. Among other places, his work now rests in the New York City Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. Tom of Finland’s art was of seminal importance in its representation of gay men as strong and dangerous as opposed to the previous stereotype of weak and effeminate. (He also drew erotic pictures of Nazis, though he vehemently opposed fascism. He said, “They had the sexiest uniforms!”). As well, his influence carried over into gay culture.
I was very impressed with Tom of Finland’s art. It is beautifully done. (He called them his “dirty drawings”). Like the Michelangelo sculpture of David, it gave me some inkling of what gay men feel about one another.
Karen Finley (b. 1956) is an American performance artist, sculptor, musician, actor and poet. Her work focuses on sexuality, especially on disenfranchisement and abuse, and often employs nudity and profanity. It also tends to be raw and transgressive and is used as activism. Her performance pieces include Shock Treatment, Reality Shows, Artist Anonymous and Written in Sand. Her books include Enough Is Enough: Weekly Meditations for Living Dysfunctionally, Pooh Unplugged, and A Different Kind of Intimacy: The Collected Writings of Karen Finley. The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry features her verse. As well, she appeared in the film Philadelphia, and she recorded the single “Jump in the River” (with Sinéad O’Connor). Finley has won a Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York State Council on the Arts Fellowship and the Richard J. Massey Foundation Arts and Humanities Award. In 1990 she was rejected for a National Endowment for the Arts grant due to right wing attacks. Her work is in Centre Pompidou and the Museum of Contemporary Art. She is now a professor at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
I had been unfamiliar with Finley’s work, though I had heard of her. Her art is fascinating; it is an exploration of the edges.
Sheela-na-gigs are erotic carvings found mostly on churches in western Europe. They depict older women spreading their vulva, usually looking gleeful, and are positioned over windows or doors. Occasionally they seemed to be masturbating, and sometimes they are joined by male figures. The meaning of the name Sheela-na-gig is unknown, and even its spelling is unsure. Their purpose is uncertain. It is thought they are symbols of fertility or, conversely, warnings against female lust. They may have been charms to ward off evil, too. As well, the Sheela-na-gig’s origins are unclear. It is thought that they may date from pagan times, though it is possible that they only began appearing in the 11th century.
I was charmed by the Sheela-na-gigs. I loved their grins.
Sharon Mitchell (b. 1956) was an American adult film actor and director from the 1970’s to the 1990’s. As well, she has been a dancer, singer and dominatrix. A lean, fit woman with a punk rock appearance, she didn’t look like the usual erotic film star. Her over 600 movies included A Sex Odyssey, Brief Affair, Carnal Games, Dangerous Assignment and The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue. After a rape by a stalker in 1996, she stopped performing in films. Mitchell went to earn an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and to found the Adult Industry Medical Health Care Foundation, which offered STD information and testing to adult film entertainers. Among her honors are membership in the Adult Video News Hall of Fame and the X-Rated Critics Organization Hall of Fame.
I have always loved Sharon Mitchell’s work. She brought a sizzling and off-beat sexuality to her films.
A clip of Mitchell, toward the end of her career: https://www.xnxx.com/video-6vl0xef/sharon_mitchell_sucks_cocks.
Jean Malin (1908-33) was an American entertainer and one of the first openly gay performers. He became famous during the brief “pansy craze” of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. Appearing in clubs, on Broadway and in Hollywood films, he was known for his brilliant and risqué wit as an emcee and female impersonator. Malin had roles in three movies: Arizona to Broadway, Dancing Lady and Double Harness. (He was cut from the latter film, however). As well, he recorded the songs “I’d Rather Be Spanish” and “That’s What’s the Matter With Me”. He died in an accident when he mistakenly reversed his car off the Venice pier and was drowned.
Jean Malin was delightful. His early death was a real loss.
A clip from Arizona to Broadway:
And the song “That’s What’s the Matter with Me”:
EROTIC SCULPURES OF KHAJURAHO
The erotic sculptures of Khajuraho are sandstone bas-reliefs adorning 22 Hindu temples in Madhya Pradesh, India. They depict individuals engaged in lovemaking: straight, gay, group and bestial. Only about 10% of the statues are sexual; thousands of non-sexual statues also decorate the temples. Not emphasized, the erotic sculptures are integrated with the other statues. The Chandelas, the ruling dynasty, had the statues made between 885 and 1050 AD. Their purpose is unknown, though it is probable that they reflect the sexual aspects of the Tantra religious tradition. Speculation also exists that they represent myths, good luck symbols, sexual education or abstinence encouragement. Many of the sculptures were damaged or destroyed over the centuries. After the jungle overgrew the temples, they were only rediscovered in the 19th century by the British. Today they are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Khajuraho sculptures are stunning: part sexual, part religious, part art.
Henry Paris (1929-2017) was an American adult film director. Among his movies were Camille 2000, The Lickerish Quartet, The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann, The Opening of Misty Beethoven and Barbara Broadcast. An importer of foreign erotic films, he became a director of soft core and hard core movies during the “Golden Age of Porn”. His films were marked by superior production values, witty screenplays and skillful camerawork. Paris won several honors, including an Adult Film Association of America Award, an X-Caliber Award and an Oldenburg Lifetime Achievement Award. His movies have been the subject of retrospectives at the UCLA Film and Television Archive and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Some of them rest now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Henry Paris was one of the top adult film directors. His films were stylish and provocative. They were also honest, showing sexuality, instead of hiding it as in mainstream films. Moreover, along with a handful of other directors in the 1970’s, he made films that were not just depictions of sexuality but works of art.
“When I was coming of age, eroticism was always in films, but eroticism was punished. The promiscuous girl never got the leading man, the woman who sold her charms, always had a bad fate. The “good girl” always achieved ends the bad girl never did. As a reaction to that, I tried to do the opposite. You could have a free attitude and behave in a free way and not be punished. A parallel to that is that it could also be light. It didn’t have to be tragedy. You could look at [sex] in a fun way. That was a personal thing, to work against the clichés in cinema when I was growing up”.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND: AN X-RATED MUSICAL COMEDY
Alice in Wonderland: an X-rated Musical Comedy (1976) was an adult musical film, based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The plot concerns a young woman who is prudish but journeys through Wonderland and comes to accept and enjoy her sexuality. Scenes included masturbation, fellatio, intercourse and lesbianism. Fully-orchestrated, the film featured actors who could dance and most of the singing was re-recorded by professional singers in post-production. Kristine DeBell starred, and several other adult film actors appeared: Bree Anthony, Juliet Graham, Nancy Dare and, most notably, Terri Hall. Bud Townsend directed; William Osco produced; Buddy Schwab choreographed; Peter Matz composed the music; and Bucky Searles wrote the screenplay, based on a concept by Jason Williams. Shot in ten days, R, X and XXX versions of Alice in Wonderland were released. The film grossed $90 million. An Off-Broadway stage adaptation appeared in 2004, and Ken Russell, the director, had plans to shoot a remake.
Alice in Wonderland: an X-rated Musical Comedy was one of the first adult films I ever saw. While I recognized its limitations -everything in it is sort of cheesy -I was also charmed by it. Kristine DeBell brings a freshness and innocence that was remarkable. That an adult film should be created that offered more than just sexual action was delightful.
I AM CURIOUS (YELLOW)
I Am Curious (Yellow) (1967) was a Swedish adult film. Lena Nyman and Börje Ahlstedt starred; Vilgot Sjöman wrote and directed. The plot centers around Lena, a young woman involved in social issues, who spends most of her time interviewing people. Among the interviewees are Martin Luther King, Jr. and Olof Palme, and footage of Yevgeny Yevtushenko is included. She also struggles with various romantic relationships, during which soft core and hard core sexuality are featured. A ”film with a film” framework is used, as well. Released in the United States in 1969, I Am Curious (Yellow) was banned in Massachusetts. After legal proceedings, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals found the film not to be obscene, which became part of the legal basis for showing erotic films openly. I Am Curious (Yellow) was the highest grossing foreign film up to that time. Nyman won the award for Best Actress at the Fifth Guldbagge Awards. The film was a companion piece to I Am Curious (Blue).
The first adult film that I ever heard about was I Am Curious (Yellow). I did not watch it until recently, however. I found it a fascinating period piece with some erotic appeal.
A link to the film:
Romance X (1999) is a French adult film recounting the story of a woman in a relationship with a man who refuses to have sex with her. Frustrated, she turns to other men, engaging in pick-ups, sadomasochism and prostitution. She is also raped. As well, a brothel fantasy, a gynecological exam and childbirth are included. She murders the man at the film’s conclusion. Much of Romance X uses a voice-over from the woman, musing about her sexuality, especially her feelings about her body. Caroline Ducey and Sagamore Stévenin star; Rocco Siffredi, the adult film actor, plays a minor role. Catherine Breillat wrote and directed. Oral sex, intercourse, masturbation and bondage are featured.
Romance X is a dark but fascinating film. Ducey is haunting. Much recommended.
Louise Brooks (1906-1985) was an American dancer, actor and writer. She performed with the Denishawn School of Dancing, George White’s Scandals and the Ziegfield Follies. In the 1920’s she appeared in several Paramount films in Hollywood, including Beggars of Life, It’s the Old Army Game and The Canary Murder Case. Brooks also acted in three movies in Berlin and Paris: Pandora’s Box, Diary of a Lost Girl and Beauty Prize. Returning to Hollywood, she made bad career choices, though, and was forced to retire from acting. In New York City, out of money, she became a call girl. Brook’s films were rediscovered by French film historians in the 1950’s. Living on stipends from past lovers, she began writing essays about movies, later collected in the book Lulu in Hollywood.
Louise Brooks was the most erotic woman to ever appear in films. Her German movies, especially Pandora’s Box, are extraordinary. She radiated an intense sexuality, without any overt acts on her part. Free-spirited, hedonistic, bisexual, she was a woman who always went her own way.
A link to Pandora’s Box: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x–yOptUXlE.
Pimp (1967) is the memoir of Robert Beck, also known as Iceberg Slim. It recounts his career as a procurer of sex workers in Chicago from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. The book shows him as a violent, ruthless man, who beat and manipulated women.
Robert Beck (1918-1992) was also an author. His books include Long White Con, Mama Black Widow and Airtight Willie and Me. Beck’s books sold well, with printings of several million copies and translations into nine languages. Backed by the Red Holloway Quartet, he also recited sections from his autobiography on the album Reflections. His Trick Baby was made into a film.
Pimp is a horror. The treatment of women in it is revolting. It is also a revelatory picture of the actual life of a procurer. Like the works of Genet for thieves and Burroughs for addicts, the book is completely honest in its depiction. And it tells a vivid, powerful story.
Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) was a British illustrator and writer. He drew in black ink and depicted historical and mythological subjects, his style influenced by Japanese art. His drawings often featured enormous penises or gorgeous Pre-Raphaelite women. Beardsley was the art editor of the magazine The Yellow Book and was famous for his illustrations for the play Salome. A leader in the Aesthetic Movement, along with Oscar Wilde and James McNeill Whistler, he helped develop the Art Nouveau style. His writings included Under the Hill and “The Ballad of a Barber”.
I have always enjoyed Aubrey Beardsley’s drawings. I first knew them as part of the psychedelic art of the 1960’s. (Beardsley appeared on the cover of the Beatles’ Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band record). His illustrations, especially the erotic ones, are exquisite.
A quote: “I have one aim—the grotesque. If I am not grotesque, I am nothing.”
And to the right is “The Lacedaemonian Ambassadors”.
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Photo of nude statue above in preface from: