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Underground erotica: Konstantin Somov’s secret stash of gorgeous gay art
06.22.2016
01:22 pm

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Art
Queer
Sex

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The Boxer (1933)
 
Russian painter Konstantin Somov isn’t very well known for the dreamy, homoerotic portraits you see here. He was a successful commercial artist from an artistic family, but his most acclaimed work might better be described as “retro,” or even “camp.” Somov was essentially a Rococo revivalist, forgoing the somewhat harsh realism that was popular in Russia at the time for a whimsical gouache and watercolor style that was nearly 200 years old—think big wigs and giant skirts, a lot of fussy-looking depictions of 18th century aristocracy. In some ways, his commercial work was even gayer than his gay boudoir scenes.

In Russia, Somov was an integral part of a thriving and lush arts community centered around a publication he co-founded—World of Art, which also included lavish costume and set design for the Ballets Russes. There were a lot of gay men involved in World of Art, and its predilection with fantasy and luxury were very much out of step with the 19th Century Russian Realism. After the Russian Revolution, Somov likely anticipated his work being denounced as decadent so he immigrated to the U.S. and then Paris. His commercial work is auctioned off for millions at Christie’s, but it’s his underground gay portraiture that’s got the cult following.
 

Naked Young Man (1937)
 

Portrait of A Man (1933)
 
More after the jump…

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HUH? Kirsten Dunst made a sexy cover of the Vapors’ ‘Turning Japanese’
06.16.2016
09:36 am

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Art
Music
Sex

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At the “Pop Life: Art in a Material World” exhibition that ran at London’s Tate Modern in 2009, there appeared an unusual video in which a major movie star vamped and pouted in the middle of a busy Tokyo thoroughfare while singing the Vapors’ surprise 1980 hit “Turning Japanese.” (You have probably heard the song on the radio countless times if you don’t also recall its use in comedy classics like Sixteen Candles and Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion.)

The video showcased Kirsten Dunst, a multi-million-dollar Hollywood star best known for her appearances in the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man franchise. It was directed by McG (Charlie’s Angels, Terminator 4: Salvation) and produced by prolific Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami, whose signature “superflat” style involves heavy use of turbo-sexualized images of women dressed up as little girls and women with exaggerated cleavage. Basically, Murakami’s work is like an overdose on the saccharine and cartoonish side of Japanese sexuality.
 

Murakami and Dunst cavort during the video shoot
 
True to form, in the video Dunst is wearing a neon blue wig, pink high heels, and revealing blue tights and is toting a parasol worthy of Penelope Pitstop herself. The video was shot in the hectic boulevards of Akihabara, a crowded and pulsating shopping neighborhood in Tokyo where electronics and video games are available.

As McG said at the time,
 

What made us select Akihabara for the filmis that it is a unique expression of Japanese culture that’s not derivative of an American domination. Of course you flip it by getting a very Anglo woman to play the part of the magical princess.

 
Watch the video after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
TV taboos: Things you can’t do on television, 1949 edition
06.08.2016
02:01 pm

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Drugs
Sex
Television

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I don’t know who wrote and photographed this guide to “Television Taboos” but it seems to have appeared in 1949, just as the new household technology of television was on the verge of staging a massive takeover of the American mindshare.

Taking a cue from the Hays Code that enforced strict standards of chastity and morality in the movie industry after 1934, TV producers after World War II were worried that a reputation for indecent programming would cause a severe backlash among the American viewing public. You may think of these censorious regimes as having died out long ago, Jimmy Fallon still can’t say the word “shit” at 12:25 a.m. on NBC—even in 2016. These taboos are deeply embedded. 

At the same time, it’s fun to imagine the gales of laughter you’d elicit if you tried to tell the producers of True Blood, Girls, or The Americans that they are henceforth forbidden from showing “too much leg” or sweaters that are too tight.

I really appreciate the tongue-in-cheek tone of the captions, which make a show of agreeing with the TV censors while winking at the reader (and showing exactly the things that TV isn’t supposed to show). Here are a few samples from the captions, all of which cleverly start with the word “TOO”:
 

TOO-HOT KISSING is a major television “Can’t Do!” Here she is wearing too little clothing. He isn’t allowed to put his hand around her waist. She mustn’t swoon.

TOO MUCH BUST is revealed in this shot, as you can see by the shocked expression worn by the director. Also she isn’t permitted to adjust her stocking on television.

TOO-GAY DRINKING scenes aren’t permitted by television censors for fear they’ll give the viewers some ideas. The actors mustn’t enjoy drinking.

 
Here’s the full magazine feature, just to remind you what not to do if you ever find yourself on TV in 1949…....
 

 

 
Much more after the jump….....
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Sex, drugs and terrible things: Lurid and decadent poster art from the bad old days
06.07.2016
03:16 pm

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Art
Drugs
Sex

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A Socialist “Murder of Crows” poster uses the horrors of war for its political agenda.

Thomas Negovan, the gallerist behind the quirky Los Angeles-based Century Guild specializes in Art Nouveau and the Symbolist movement. He’s an expert at tracking down weird and wonderful things and now he’s offering new “Patronage Prints” struck from rare images from his archives. The prints are produced in small editions and prices start under $50. The idea is to support the research and also make it so that affordable versions of what would otherwise be ungodly expensive can be appreciated without spending your life savings. (And if you want to do that, no problem, he can sell you the originals.)

The originals of these posters are excruciatingly rare works on paper; in some cases, the ones Century Guild have exist in quantities fewer than five and they’re primarily in museums.  They’re true “underground” modern art. When they were created, they were meant to be destroyed, not kept, but their designs and sensibilities permeated the underground art culture and informed works that blossomed decades—or a century—later. Their common thread is that they were once trash, but we recognize them today as incredibly modern treasures—and the reason is because of that underground influence.

They’re printed on 11” x 14” archival paper. Order from Century Guild.


Decadent Weimar-era icon Anita Berber seductively reveals her heroin injection marks in a 1919 film titled ‘Prostitution,’ its racy subject matter disguised under the auspices of being a “social hygiene film.”
 

A giant poster celebrating a 1907 novel studying the life—and death—of Nostradamus.
 

White Slavery was a hot button in popular culture, capitalized upon in this 1927 “grand adventure” film by legendary political illustrator Mihaly Biró.
 
More mayhem after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The delightfully sleazy sex paperbacks of the 1960s
06.03.2016
09:39 am

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Art
Books
Sex

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Last week I hipped a book dealer friend of mine to a decent estate sale score. As his “tip” to me for the heads-up he gifted me a nice-sized box full of old pulp fiction titles with an emphasis on lurid covers.
 

A few of the titles in my gift box.
 
The very same day, synchronicity dropped the new expanded edition of Feral House’s exhaustive study of Sixties sleazy sex paperbacks, Sin-A-Rama onto my doorstep.
 

Now available via Amazon.
 
If you have an interest in vintage erotic paperbacks, either from a literary standpoint or as a connoisseur of the tacky cover artwork, this book is an absolute must-own.

The bulk of Sin-A-Rama consists of hundreds of cover reproductions with date, publisher, author and artist credits. The photos alone make this worth the price of admission—so much delicious eye-candy. But what makes Sin-A-Rama an important work is the twenty-two essays on various aspects of the filthy book business, covering publishers, writers, artists, and themes. The majority of these essays are written by dirty novel experts Earl Kemp and B. Astrid Daley who clearly display an affinity for their subject through their comprehensive research. Sin-A-Rama also contains an index of publishers and authors (with their pseudonyms). The new “expanded edition” contains profiles on “Occult Sleaze,” “Swinging Sleaze,” and the “tawdry taboo stuff that sleaze literature fell into during the 1970s”  that were not included in the original edition.

There are so many titillating, shocking, and hilarious titles on display in Sin-A-Rama—so many I’d love to have in my own collection. Until I find that mother lode of sticky originals at some dirty old man’s garage sale, I’m satisfied to have the cover reproductions included herein.

Dig these kinky covers with their vivid depictions of lusty, busty sexpots:
 

 

 
Many, many more lurid pulp paperback book covers, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Henry Rollins and Lydia Lunch in the erotic, violent ‘The Right Side of My Brain’ (NSFW)
05.26.2016
02:14 pm

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Art
Movies
Music
Sex

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Richard Kern was a big part of the underground cinema of the East Village in the 1980s. Among other things, he directed videos for Sonic Youth’s “Death Valley ‘69” (which featured Lydia Lunch, of course) and King Missile’s ”Detachable Penis.” Kern was very much a part of the same scene that was more or less defined by Nick Zedd. He made many experimental and sexual movies on Super-8.

According to Richard Kostelanetz in A Dictionary of the Avant-Gardes,
 

This fascination with the dark side of looking—with the dynamics and aesthetics of voyeurism—is Richard Kern’s theme and it runs through his films and photography. In many ways, Kern’s work is a culmination of self-referential approaches to depicting the artist’s relationship to his “subject.” And his subject is a kind of seeing. ... In many ways his movies are responses to popular film and commercial culture as a whole.

  
One of Kern’s early movies was The Right Side of My Brain, a 23-minute black-and-white experimental movie that is unabashedly about sex, violence, and control. This movie is about as NSFW as anything we’ve ever presented on the site.
 

 
The whole movie is told from the point of view of the character played by Lydia Lunch in a dreamy and sexualized and insular mode that was well-nigh invented by Maya Deren in 1943’s “Meshes of the Afternoon.” Lunch’s character goes through a series of assignations that involve varying degrees of violence. Around the 10th minute an actor credited as Clint Ruin (actually the musician J.G. Thirlwell) shows up and he proceeds to dominate Lunch’s character somewhat, after which she gives him a blow job. Yes, you read that right, most of that highly X-rated act is captured in the movie.

The bulk of the movie was shot in some claustrophobic NYC tenement, but in the sole outdoor sequence—possibly shot in Central Park?—Henry Rollins appears and follows the Lunch character. They too start making out and then the Rollins character has a kind of tantrum.
 

 
By the bye, when this was shot Rollins had the “SEARCH AND DESTROY” part of his back tattoo in place but not the rest. At one point Lunch is shown wearing a T-shirt with the Einstürzende Neubauten homunculus on it.

The images of sexual violence are, of course, disturbing; many ladies in the audience will enjoy the three smoking hot dudes in various states of undress.

The Right Side of My Brain is available on Blu-Ray in Hardcore Collection: Director’s Cut.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Awesome cheesecake photos from the weirdest, kitschiest ‘sex hotel’ in Colombia
05.19.2016
01:12 pm

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Art
Sex

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Here’s a fascinating collection of pictures from Kurt Hollander, a photographer originally from New York City whose current base is Mexico City.

Recently Hollander visited Cali, Colombia, in particular a remarkable “sex hotel” called the Hotel Kiss Me, each of whose 180 rooms is painted and decorated according to its own different theme by local artists. Hollander was given the run of the place for two weeks, during which he invited some female friends of his—they’re not prostitutes—to pose in the rooms as if they were seducing a lover.

To be clear, while prostitution is legal in Colombia, the main purpose of the Hotel Kiss Me is to serve as a venue for a sexual getaway for couples.

While the purpose of the Hotel Kiss Me is certainly interesting, it’s the vibrantly decorated rooms that are the real star. “Kitsch” might be too bland a term for the hilarious and lovely rooms on display in Hollander’s pictures—many of the rooms are based on representations from a certain country, and the artists were just as likely to stick in an image of Adolf Hitler saluting a Volkswagen Beetle as they were to put Saddam in the Iraq room next to an image of burning oilfields. (One of the rooms has an image of 9/11, which you can see at Vice.)

Hollander’s show about the Hotel Kiss Me is called “The Architecture of Sex” and can be seen at Proyectos Impala in Ciudad Juárez until May 25.

He’s an interesting fellow. After a nasty case of salmonella, which led to severe chronic ulcerative colitis, Hollander wrote a memoir called Several Ways to Die in Mexico City. He’s also published a book of photographs documenting the rough-and-tumble streets (really, they once were that!) of downtown Manhattan called Low Rent: A Decade of Prose and Photographs from The Portable Lower East Side.
 

 

 
More from the Hotel Kiss Me after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Girls & guns: Outrageously sexy pulp illustrations from vintage ‘men’s interest’ magazines
05.18.2016
09:39 am

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Art
Sex

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‘Surf Pack Assasins’ illustrated by Earl Norem from Male magazine, 1967.
 
Earl Norem was one of many illustrators whose work was featured in various popular “men’s interest” magazines such as Man’s Life, Men, For Men Only, and Action for Men back in the 1950s and 1960s. You may also be acquainted with Norem’s work for Marvel Comics if you were (like me) a fan of comics featuring Conan the Barbarian or He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
 

‘Carnival Wife’ illustrated by Earl Norem in For Men Only, August, 1970.
 
Norem’s career as an illustrator and painter spans 50 years—and as glorious as his colorful illustrations of a shirtless, musclebound rescuer of half-naked women Conan the Barbarian are in my eyes, it is his illustrations that accompanied the lurid tales within the pages (and on the covers) of the old-school men’s interest mags, that are a real turn on. I mean, how great is your job when you get to illustrate stories titled “Blonde Sex Machine” or “Surf Pack Assassins?” The answer has to be pretty damn great.

Norem retired due to issues with arthritis in 2005, citing his belief that young art buyers didn’t want “anything to do” with an 81-year-old artist, and would instead paint for his own amusement and for his grandchildren. The artist passed away in June of 2015 at the age of 92 leaving us with a vast body of work filled with multi-generational appeal. What’s not to love about a man who fearlessly illustrated a story about a circus bear that assassinated the Nazi Butchers of Stalag 13 (which appeared in the men’s interest magazine “True Action” in 1976)? Nothing, that’s what. The far-fetched, sexed-up, and flat out balls-out illustrations from Earl Norem’s more adult-oriented body of work follow (slightly NSFW).
 

Man’s World, ‘Nazi General Who Ran The World’s Biggest Vice Ring,’ 1963.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Private Parts’: Trippy animated short features cartoon penises and vaginas talking about sex
05.17.2016
10:29 am

Topics:
Animation
Sex

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“Private Parts,” a loose and funny short about sex directed by British animator Anna Ginsburg, was released today by the arts blog It’s Nice That in collaboration with the British TV network Channel Four.

Ginsburg made the movie by collecting a series of frank conversations about sex and then having them animated, only with genitalia standing in for the people in the dialogue.

One vagina says it’s sad when you masturbate to a fantasized projection in your mind as opposed to the lover you’re with; one glum wang receives the advice to “just be who you are” in bed—“you do you, you do yourself, you get me?” One willy compares a woman’s vagina to a “Rubik’s cube ... sometimes it’s, like, quite straightforward, sometimes it doesn’t work like that!”

The animators who participated in the short, which alternates between many different styles and feels something akin to a Sesame Street-style short, only about sex, were Ginsburg, Moth Collective, Peter Millard, Loup Blaster, Will Anderson, George Wheeler, and Mark Prendergast.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Try not to think of sex: Pictures of enormous zeppelins entering their enormous hangars
05.16.2016
01:10 pm

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History
Sex

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If there can be said to be a “golden age of the zeppelin,” it would be the 1920s and 1930s—a more precise span would be 1910 to 1937, but World War I interrupted widespread adoption of the primarily German technology. The year 1910, according to Wikipedia, marked the first time that zeppelins were flown commercially, by a company called Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-AG (DELAG). Over the next four years, DELAG would transport more than 10,000 fare-paying passengers on over 1,500 flights.

The end date of the period is pretty obvious: May 6, 1937, when 97 individuals decided to collaborate on some extremely expensive album cover design when a zeppelin known as the Hindenburg caught on fire in Manchester Township, New Jersey:
 

 
If you want to know more about the history of the zeppelin, you could almost certainly do worse than Zeppelin! Germany and the Airship, 1900–1939 by Guillaume de Syon.

As with any other form of airborne transport, there had to be a way of storing the vehicles overnight in such a way that they were protected from the elements, so along came the advent of the zeppelin hangar. These enormous structures were created to house the enormous rigid airships (yes, “rigid airship” is the name of the class of vehicles to which zeppelins belong), and pretty much any photograph of a zeppelin in its hangar is extremely likely to make observers think of sex. 
 

 
More smutty pictures of zeppelins after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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