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The transgender women of Singapore’s ‘Boogie Street’
01.28.2015
06:59 am

Topics:
History
Queer
Sex

Tags:
photography
transgender

Bugist1980s(5).jpg
 
Singapore’s Bugis Street was renowned as a meeting place for trans women to mix, mingle and have fun during the 1950s-1980s. Each evening, a fabulous parade of glamorous trans women would walk up-and-down the rundown streets at Bugis Junction, flirting with tourists, sailors and G.I.s, often charging them to have their photograph taken, inviting them to a bar for a drink, or taking them to a quiet room (or rooftop) for sex.

Bugis Street was a popular area for touring British servicemen in the 1950s, who became fans/lovers of many of the trans women, and rechristened the area “Boogie Street”—a mispronunciation of the district’s name that stuck in 1970s with the rise of disco.

For thirty years, Bugis Street thrived as a haven for trans women and their admirers, until the government cracked down on what was described as “shameful” and “lewd behavior” in the 1970s. Many servicemen were arrested at gunpoint, tourists were threatened and frightened away, the bars were closed and many trans women were arrested. Eventually the hard-line puritans won and old Bugis Street was demolished in the mid-1980s and replaced by a shopping mall and entertainment outlet.

In December 1980, French photographer Alain Soldeville was on a two-year trip to Asia and Australia when he arrived in Singapore. After a few days sight-seeing, he headed out one evening to Bugis Street.

Within an hour, strange androgynous creatures arrived by taxi. Dressed in sexy, tight-fitting dresses or satiny pants, wearing heavy stage makeup and high heels, they took over the territory. The street seemed to belong to them and their dramatic entrance was followed by scrutinizing eyes. It appeared that most visitors were there to watch the show that had just begun.

I stroked up a conversation with Anita who was of Malaysian background. She was 23 years old, with a clearly outlined masculine face, tall, thin and muscular. She wanted to know where I came from, how long I was going to stay in Singapore. During the following weeks, I became close to Anita and she introduced me to her friends: Amina, Danita, Delphine, Rosa and Susanna. They liked having me photograph them and would strike natural poses.

After five or six weeks in Singapore, short of money, I had to leave for Australia. I would return in 1984 only to learn that Bugis Street was about to be torn down to make way for the subway.

Bugis Street still has its glamorous legend, and a moderately successful film was made about the transgender women of the area in 1996. Soldeville forgot about the photographs he took in 1981 of Anita and her friends for over twenty-five years, until he rediscovered them in storage. Since then, they have been exhibited in France and Thailand.
 
Bugist1980s(6).jpg
 
Bugist1980s(2).jpg
 
Bugist1980s(8).jpg
 
Bugist1980s(10).jpg
 
More pictures of Bugis Street, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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John Waters calls ‘Fuego’ ‘a hetero film for gay people to marvel at’
01.27.2015
10:13 am

Topics:
Movies
Sex

Tags:
John Waters
camp
Fuego


 
From the Dangerous Minds archives: For those of you snowed in today, here’s a sizzling hot cult film to keep you warm. Highly recommended!

I first heard about Armando Bo’s lusty 1969 Argentinian sexploitation film Fuego (“Fire”) due to John Waters championing of the film, but I didn’t actually get to see it until last night. I’m always interested in seeing something that John Waters is enthusiastic about and I reckon that quite a few of you feel the same way. If so, then you need to watch Fuego toot sweet.

It does not disappoint.

Fuego stars the outrageously hot, extremely well-endowed Isabel Sarli, who has the sort of “brick shithouse” build that Russ Meyer was so very fond of. Fuego and Meyer’s Vixen would make a great “ants in her pants” double bill, but a more appropriate match-up would be Female Trouble and Fuego, which now that I’ve seen it, was obviously a big influence not only on John Waters, but also on Divine. Much of Dawn Davenport—the character’s fashion sense, walk and bouffant hairdo—would appear to be closely modeled on Isabel Sarli. Sarli was also an outrageously hammy actress and Divine just took her already over-the-top “undulating” acting style and turned the volume up to 11.

Sarli plays the insatiable, irresistible Laura and in this role, lemme tell ya, she is perfectly cast. Laura is a complete uninhibited and naturally this gives Sarli plenty of excuses to doff her duds, which she does constantly and we see her engaged in trysts with both men (any man seems to do, her catchphrase—normally screamed—is “I need men!!!”) and with her older, lizard-like lesbian maid. A wealthy businessman named Carlos (director Armando Bo, who also wrote the script and the insanely incessant music) sees some girl-on-much-older-girl action on the beach and later attends a party at Laura’s boyfriend’s house. Soon Carlos is seeing Laura, but he has no idea what he’s gotten himself into. She roams the streets flashing her tits and he is constantly catching her in bed with other dudes. It happens a lot.
 

 
The first part of Fuego is where most of the skin is shown, whereas the later half is talkier, more melodramatic and way more nuts. Laura realizes that her uncontrollable urges are causing her husband grief when he nearly kills an electrician he catches her bonking. They go to a “sex expert” to discuss what can be done about her “condition” (a Pocket Rocket might help...) During a gynecological exam, Laura has a thundering orgasm. The pair travel all the way to New York where Carlos is told by a doctor there that the only thing that can save Laura is his unwavering love.

I won’t tell you how it ends, but when you know in advance that Armando Bo and Isabel Sarli made 27 films together—with her rolling around with little to nothing on in every single one of them—and that they were famously lovers for years (although he never left his wife for her), you can start to project all sorts of psychological things onto Fuego. First off, Bo wrote the script and so he therefore wrote the cuckold role for himself. There’s also the voyeuristic aspect of Bo arranging to see his woman getting her tits out for so many other guys.

There’s a certain “subtext” to Fuego, let’s just say.

Waters calls Fuego: “A hetero film for gay people to marvel at” and truly, it’s a movie that covers all the bases. I’d recommend watching it in a group, like Birdemic or something like that. It’s enjoyable no matter what, but like most “so bad that it’s good” movies, experiencing it for the first time with other people is the way to go. I also recommend the dubbed version (below), the actors obviously had fun with it.

Armando Bo died in 1981 and Sarli stopped making films. She is now a cult figure with a devoted following. Sarli was feted at Lincoln Center in 2010.
 

 

 
The NSFW trailer for Fuego:
 

 
In the clip below from his John Waters Presents Movies That Will Corrupt You show, the Fellini of Baltimore waxes poetic about one of his favorite films, admits that he “stole” a lot of stuff from Fuego and you can see some of the opening titles:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Mickey Rooney was a FREAK! His EXPLICIT stories of Ava Gardner, Lana Turner & Judy Garland


 
I have such fond memories of Mickey Rooney—or rather, I had such fond memories of Mickey Rooney. Whether it was his understated performance in The Black Stallion or his maniacally enthusiastic chemistry with Judy Garland in Babes in Arms (Hey gang, let’s put on a show!), his work left an indelible mark on my childhood. However after reading excerpts from his biography Life Is Too Short, I want nothing more than to scrub that horny little perv from my brain. The book (which was written right as he coasted into his 70’s) isn’t exactly “tell-all”—and it’s certainly not mean-spirited—but man, does it have an air of “inappropriate grandpa” to it! We get it Mickey—you got a lot of tail! But why did you have to put it like this?!?

[Lana Turner] wasn’t the kind of girl who had much to say or had to say much. Her body said it all, and I got the message, loud and clear. Her auburn locks, her deep green eyes, her long lashes, the tip of her nose, her pouty lips, her graceful throat, the curve of her shoulders, her tiny waste, and, yes, the nicest knockers I have ever seen. When I first saw her at the malt shop on Highland Avenue, she was not wearing a tight pink sweater; this was before her Hollywood handlers put her in sweaters—and I thought, Here is a woman.

My fantasies about her soon came true. When I asked her to go out with me, she said yes. And I soon found out that she was as oversexed as I was, warm, passionate, soft, and moist in interesting places. You may wonder what she saw in me. I don’t know. You’d have to ask her. I do know that on a dance floor I could make her breathless.

I don’t want to ever hear the phrase “moist in interesting places” from anyone that isn’t describing a steak. Also, I understand there’s a temptation to take artistic license recounting one’s own sexual history, but that little humblebrag is fooling no one. Mickey also doesn’t quite get Judy Garland right.

[Judy] always idolized her own charming father—only to learn, after she’d grown up, that he was a homosexual. She couldn’t accept that in him. And then, she had an even harder time accepting a trace of that in herself. She had an affair with a female singer and, caught up in the guilt, couldn’t accept herself. So she tried to lose herself in a never-never land where reality faded and her dreams drifted, just out of reach.

I still think I could have helped Judy, but she kept dodging me. I guess she felt guilty about her addiction. She should have known that being hooked on barbiturates didn’t mean a damn thing to me: after all, I ad been there. I understood what she was feeling. So, in fact, did many of her fans. They, too, would have understood. And they would have been far more loving with her than she was to herself.

Oh come on, Mickey! As studious Tumblr fact-checkers have already pointed out—Judy Garland knew her dad was gay from a pretty young age, and while she was conflicted and confused, it was no great source of guilt-ridden anguish, nor were her her (alleged!) lesbian affairs. This is just bitchy, speculative gossip, Mickey—for shame! But the absolute nadir of tawdry is his account of Ava Gardner—do not read further unless you are prepared to have your idea of a lovable old Hollywood icon sullied beyond repair.

We were both athletic in bed, and pretty verbal, too. Once Ava lost her Southern reticence, she seemed to enjoy using the f-word. And I didn’t mind a bit, when, for example, she would look me straight in the eye, raise a provocative eyebrow, and say, “Let’s fuck, Mickey. Now.” Some years later, Hedda Hopper would say of Ava, “That girl was made to love and be loved.” I had to agree with that judgment.

Oh, we told ourselves that we were very much in love, and our sex life helped us in that particular piece of self-deception. Once Ava got into the spirit of things, she wanted to do it all the time. And she quickly learned what it was that turned me on about her. Let me count the ways: a smoldering look, a laugh, a tear, kicking off her shoes as soon as she got in the house, getting all dolled up, not getting all dolled up, coming down to breakfast in a pair of shorts—and no top at all. In bed, let’s just say that Ava was…well, she had this little rosebud down there at the center of her femininity that seemed to have a life of its own. I am not talking about muscles. One gal I knew had trained her muscles, so that she could snap carrots in her pussy, not hands. But Ava had something different. She had this little extra—it was almost like a little warm mouth—that would reach up and grab me and take me in and make my, uh, my heart swell. She also had big brown nipples, which, when she was aroused, stood out like some double-long golden California raisins. And I sucked those warm breasts, I did taste her mother’s milk.

Ewwwwwwwwwww!!!

Mickey Rooney’s sex life is explored in this marvelous animation from new Dangerous Minds contributor Cris Shapan:
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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X-libris: Awesome vintage erotic bookplates
01.23.2015
09:21 am

Topics:
Art
Books
Sex

Tags:
ex libris


By Jozsef Farkas for Alfred Fährmann
 
I’m a bookish sort, to be sure, but the whole concept of the “ex libris” bookplate seems from a wildly different time. I never related to them, but that’s probably a generational thing—I stopped writing my name in my paperbacks when I was a teenager, so the concept of glueing in a large sticker with your name on it ... seems like a very outsize, unnecessary gesture. They make me think of my maternal grandfather, who grew up in Vienna in the early 1900s—he had a huge library of leather-bound books and I wouldn’t be surprised if he used bookplates, although I couldn’t say I ever saw one.

Ex Libris is a Latin phrase that means “from the books.” So to say “Ex Libris Carrot Top” is to say “From the library of Carrot Top.” I didn’t realize how popular these bookplates must have been, but I stumbled on a massive gallery of adult-oriented bookplates and that’s just a tiny percentage of the whole, you’d have to think. It apparently was a thing, you’d open to the inside front cover and there would be a charming image of an amorous couple in the throes of passion or a little doodle of a male appendage—or a whole field full of male appendages!

Martin Hopkinson is the chief chronicler of the development of the bookplate, as is evident from his book Ex-Libris: The Art of Bookplates. We’ve selected some of the more fun images, but there are lots more where these came from, as you can see for yourself if you click over to this fantastic page at ex-libris.net.

Needless to say, it probably isn’t appropriate to look at these images in many workplace settings. Or a library.
 

By Miro Parizek
 

By Christian Blæsbjerg
 

By Franco Brunello
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Snatch and the Poontangs: Johnny and Shuggie Otis’ filthy, hilarious blues/soul party record
01.23.2015
07:32 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music
Sex

Tags:
Shuggie Otis
Johnny Otis


 
In 1969, an eponymous LP appeared by “Snatch and the Poontangs,” first as a self-release (catalog number SNATCH 101), and later on Kent Records. Given the band’s name and its unabashedly profane and oversexed lyrical content, there was no chance of airplay for the record even in as indulgent a period as the late 1960s. The band was doomed to obscurity until it came to light that Snatch and the Poontangs were in fact the great R&B producer/bandleader/impressario Johnny Otis (credited as “The Hawk”), his gifted guitarist son Shuggie Otis (“Prince Wunnerful”), and vocalist Delmar Evans (“The Mouth”), which made the album a collectible. The misapprehension that R. Crumb drew the cover surely moved a few copies, too, but he did not. The artwork is by Johnny Otis himself.

As bluesy rock of the period goes, the album (there’s a 7” single as well, but it may be a later release, I can’t find information on its provenance anywhere) is fairly unremarkable—buying it because you like Shuggie Otis’ Inspiration Information might be ill-advised, though talented, he was still only 16 when this stuff was recorded—but the outrageous lyrics do the heavy lifting of making the record totally worth it. Check out “Hey Shine,” a ribald re-working of Otis’ classic “Willie and the Hand Jive.” Do I even still need to tell you it’s NSFW at this point?
 

 
The album opens with a lengthy version of the classic “Signifyin’ Monkey,” an American adaptation of an African trickster story. The trio had already recorded it a year earlier for the Johnny Otis album Cold Shot!, and a version would be released by Rudy Ray “Dolemite” Moore only one year later, on his second LP.
 

 
And the audacious album-closer “Two Girls in Love (With Each Other)” is little more than Shuggie meandering on guitar and organ (heh) while two women moan orgasmically.
 

 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Designer uses notorious ‘Christmas tree’ to make anti-terrorist statement at Paris Fashion Week
01.22.2015
08:29 am

Topics:
Art
Fashion
Sex

Tags:
Paul McCarthy
Walter Van Beirendonck


 
It’s been a heady few weeks in Paris, ever since the murder of twelve employees of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo by Islamist gunmen on January 7. “Je Suis Charlie” has been on everyone’s lips, and a few days after the attack, a massive protest was staged with a multitude of world leaders (noticeably not including Barack Obama).

Now Paris Fashion Week is giving politically minded designers an opportunity to air their views on the situation. Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck decided to reference Paul McCarthy’s green Christmas tree installation, which, after it was unveiled last October at Place Vendôme, reminded a whole lot of people of a popular toy designed to fit into a human orifice. The tree lasted a day before someone deflated the tree.

Van Beirendonck adorned his models with large bald eagles with “Christmas trees” hanging from them that look exactly like miniature versions of McCarthy’s sculpture. The symbol of the eagle was apparently chosen as a reference to McCarthy’s nationality. In fact, nearly all of the clothes on display incorporated McCarthy’s design in one way or another, according to Expatica.
 

 
The first image of Van Beirendonck’s show was a model wearing a translucent top with the message “Stop Terrorising Our World” on it, which provided the necessary context to turn the colorful eagles into an authentic statement about freedom of expression.

According to Expatica, Van Beirendonck said: “Initially I didn’t want to make statements. But when you see what is happening in the world you have to react. ... It’s almost a homage to him [McCarthy]. Because I know him, not very well, but I know him. ... I believe no-one has the right to tell anyone else that he can’t show what he wants to.”
 

 
via ANIMAL

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Forty glorious minutes of seedy footage from Times Square in the early 1980s
01.21.2015
11:51 am

Topics:
Crime
Drugs
Movies
Sex

Tags:
Times Square
Charlie Ahearn


 
Everyone agrees that the changes that occurred in Times Square during the early 1990s were emblematic for the city, regardless of what you make of it. For tourists and the local suburbanites, cleaning up Times Square was a prerequisite to visit. For many Manhattanites, the signs portended a neutered, sterile city geared to the wealthy and lacking all noteworthy spark or grit. The best treatment of the changes in Times Square is most likely Samuel Delany’s 1999 meditation Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, a book that my friend Lawrence Daniel Caswell has urged me to read but I haven’t gotten around to yet. (Do check out Caswell’s account, told in comix format, of the meaning of Delany’s book as applied to Cleveland, courtesy of that city’s Scene alt-weekly a couple weeks ago.)
 

 
Those who are old enough will remember the enchantingly seedy—and dangerous—Time Square of the Mayor Koch years (ahem, that’s the 1980s in case you didn’t know). I barely caught the tail end of it, starting to hang out in Manhattan in a serious way in 1988, when I was a teenager. But college and travels abroad intervened, and by the time I came back for another look, it was 1995 and Times Square was very, very different. (The vast majority of the shuttering of the smut shops and sex cinemas took place in a matter of months—with movie marquees that had once advertised Cannibal Holocaust and Inside Seka turned over to artist Jenny Holzer for her brand of signature sloganeering. It was not a long drawn-out process.)
 

 
Doin’ Time in Times Square, which we found courtesy of Gothamist, is an artful montage of footage that movie director Charlie Ahearn took from his apartment building on 43rd Street. This footage was shot between 1981 and 1983, the exact period during which Ahearn was working on the groundbreaking hip-hop classic Wild Style featuring Fab Five Freddy, Lady Pink, the Rock Steady Crew, and so on. In between the surreptitiously recorded scenes of religious freaks, cops, and a handful of epic, er, disagreements of a physical nature, Ahearn throws in some moments from inside the apartment as his family members celebrate birthdays and the like. A godforsaken New Year’s Eve gets its due as well, no worries.

Doin’ Time in Times Square has been dubbed “the home video from hell” for a reason. It appeared at the New York Film Festival in 1992, and you can get it on DVD here.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Dirty Teletext pages from Germany
01.20.2015
12:25 pm

Topics:
Advertising
Science/Tech
Sex

Tags:
sex
Teletext


This lady has an “Apfelpo”—that is, a butt like an apple
 
These images require some clarification. Roughly a decade before the rise of the World Wide Web in 1995, citizens of Germany and Austria (I’m not sure where else) could access through their TV sets a digital mode of information dissemination known as Teletext, a system that had been developed in the U.K. during the 1970s. If you had the right kind of TV with the right kind of remote control—and they weren’t uncommon at all, loads of German speakers know about this—you could switch your TV into an interactive mode where you could dial up certain basic, updated information such as headlines, weather information, sports scores, traffic updates, and even flight departures and arrivals at airports.

Many channels (ZDF, 3sat, etc.) have their own Teletext systems, and by punching in “100” you could get the homepage; other 3-digit numbers would be displayed on the screen for other forms of information, and if you typed in one of those numbers, you would get a page dedicated to this or that story or perhaps a list of cities and temperatures or the like. What was charming about it was that it was pretty resolutely low-bit—the screens would often use a crude form of ASCII art for logos. Furthermore, the system scarcely seemed to change over time—during an era in which incredible resources were being thrown into improving and maximizing browser technologies, poky old Teletext just stayed the same year after year. You could look at a Teletext display from today, and it would look about the same as an equivalent display from 1990. The fact that Europe was so far ahead of the U.S. on such matters was not lost on me, I would sometimes tell Americans, prone to gushing about U.S. tech superiority, about it.

I’ve spent a lot of my life in Austria, particularly in the pre-WWW years of 1992 to 1995, when I lived in Vienna full-time (although I didn’t own a TV set), so all of my associations with Teletext are uniformly from that country. Here’s a “normal” Teletext screen from ORF, the Austrian news organization, with headlines (Schlagzeilen) about military helicopters (101), terror arrests in France (127), Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann (115), a demonstration in Leipzig (133), something about the Swiss Franc (117), and Argentina (134).
 

 
Every one of those numbers will lead to a “story” that is parceled out in screens of no more than 12 or 15 lines at a time, and maybe 35 characters across. It’s a little like trying to read a newspaper on a clam phone—it’ll do in a pinch, but not really satisfying. Useful as Teletext may be—and it is useful—it’s also unremittingly boring. Once you find out about the immediate news you were seeking, there’s almost no way to spend more than about 10 minutes fiddling with Teletext on the TV.

I didn’t know until today that there exist XXX pages on Teletext, when some of them popped up on a blog I sometimes look at, text-mode, which is dedicated to ASCII art and anything that has a remote resemblance to pixelated art (certain kinds of weaved tapestries, for instance).

I found these Teletext pages funny, and I thought you might as well. If it’s not entirely obvious, these are ads for phone sex workers
 

I suspect that the numerical string “80085” does not require translation, but for those of you without a calculator, it’s “boobs.”
 

“AV-Spass” = “AV fun,” where “AV” means “Analverkehr” or nevermind…
 

“Dauergeile” means “constantly horny,” “stute” means “mare,” so it’s like you’re boning horny mares. Eesh.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘How to Undress in Front of Your Husband’: The exact opposite of a feminist film
01.19.2015
07:10 am

Topics:
Feminism
Movies
Sex

Tags:
John Barrymore
Dwain Esper

How to Undress in Front of Your Husband
 
The short film you’re about to take a look at is more than just a cheap, extraordinarily sexist exploitation film from 1937. Indeed, How to Undress in Front of Your Husband is most certainly that, but if you can put the stupidity of the attitudes expressed in the film aside momentarily, you’ll notice that it also happens to be surrounded by a bunch of weird, perhaps even interesting facts. Case it point: It involves the huckster distributer of Reefer Madness and his salacious screen writing wife, the film bears a mysterious similarity to a LIFE magazine article featuring photos of ex-burlesque stripper, June St. Clair made in the same year, one of the lead characters (such as there are characters) is the fourth wife of John Barrymore and the other lead character was an ahead-of-her-time suffragette.

I’m not a big fan of Internet lists, but I’m presenting the following one as a matter of expediency. Believe it or not, there’s a lot to cover here for a smutty little fourteen minute film.

1. How to Undress in Front of Your Husband is an exploitation film: To cut right to the chase, this movie is about a lecherous, camera-wielding Peeping Tom and two different women taking their clothes off in preparation for bed. According to the film’s male narrator, there is a right way and a wrong way for a woman to do this if she wants to properly entice her husband, and each woman demonstrates her pre-bed ritual as the narrator looks on through a key-hole. It’s really an awful flick, but notable if you’re interested in this particular fringe nook of filmmaking, truly the bottom of the creative barrel.
 
Reefer Madness Poster
A reproduction of an original Reefer Madness poster.
 
2. The Reefer Madness connection: How to Undress in Front of Your Husband was directed by Dwain Esper, the same fiendish mind who brought us everybody’s favorite joint-sploitation film, Reefer Madness along with Maniac, Sex Madness and Marihuana. Esper was a sleazy but fascinating persona. A serious snake-oil-salesman-type, he traveled around the country “four walling” his racy films in rented tents and theaters in order to work his way around the 1934 Production Code that wouldn’t allow his work to be distributed through conventional channels. In fact, the very title of the film may very well have been part of what was a typical strategy for Esper to get around movie censorship. By billing his screenings as “educational,” as in WE’RE HERE TO EDUCATE YOU ABOUT THE HORRORS OF OPIUM!!!!, he and others like him could attempt to pass off their salacious materials as important public service announcements. After taunting entire towns with tantalizing “Adults Only” promotions, Esper would screen whatever piece of smut he was pitching for a few days, count his money, pack up his gear and get himself the hell out of Dodge, preferably before the town’s morality police could do it for him.

Esper’s wife Hildegarde Stadie, herself an ex-carnival performer who in her younger years often posed nude with a python around her neck to entice people into buying her Uncle’s cure-all tonics, wrote How to Undress in Front of Your Husband as she did many others in the Esper repertoire. Neither of them actually wrote Reefer Madness, by the way. Esper simply bought the film, originally funded by a church group with the intention of legitimately steering people away from the deadly smoke. Esper realized how much of exploitative payday would come from screening the very bad but very “shocking” movie. You can read three Esper screenplays in Marihuana, Motherhood & Madness from 1998.
 
Dwain Esper
Cinemaniac Dwain Esper
 
3. The LIFE article: Interestingly, an article, also from 1937, appeared in the February 17th issue of LIFE magazine depicting almost the exact scenario of the Dwain Esper film and pictures from the article have circulated around the internet over the past few years. Promoting one Allen Gilbert who was ostensibly trying to get the word out about his “Manhattan School of Undressing,” the article shows two different women in the act of preparing for bed, one clumsily, the other, ex-burlesque stripper June St. Clair, gracefully. The conceit of the article is that because of rising divorce rates, women needed to place to go where they could learn to be more sensual when getting ready to slip into bed with their husbands. No mention is made of the husband’s role in the pre-bed ritual, although, due to reader demand and, in some cases, outrage, a subsequent issue of LIFE included an article with men in the same scenario. It seems almost impossible to imagine that the article and the film below weren’t somehow related, although I can find no evidence to substantiate that claim.
 
How to Undress
The right way for a woman to undress in front of her husband according to a 1937 article in LIFE magazine.
 
How not to undress
The wrong way for a woman to undress in front of her husband according to a 1937 article in LIFE magazine.
 
4. John Barrymore’s fourth wife: Yes, the lead role the film went to Elaine Barrie, alcoholic actor John Barrymore’s fourth wife at the time. Famously, a youthful Barrie (she had the last name of Jacobs at this point) kindled her relationship with Barrymore through a letter asking for an interview with the aging Svengali actor who was in the hospital attempting to dry up at the age of 53. Barrie continued to “interview” Barrymore, and the two eventually married in 1936. Their relationship was a press free-for-all (Barrie was 30 years younger than Barrymore and their relationship began when Barrymore was still married to his third wife) and the Espers were almost certainly capitalizing on her new-found national attention when they cast Barrie in the roll of the ideal wife in How to Undress in Front of Your Husband. The film’s narrator vocally ogles and hubba-hubbas his way through Barrie’s downright scandalous-for-1937 appearances in the film as she sensually quaffs her hair, applies pre-bed perfume, rolls down her stockings and shimmies out of her clothing while strategically never becoming completely nude. The purveyor of the pervy voiceover is of course pleased. “She not only knows how to get a husband, but how to keep him,” he says.

5. The suffragette: Last but not least, one of the most interesting things about this weird little piece is the appearance of former stage and vaudeville actress, Trixie Friganza. She plays the role of the not-so-sensual clothes remover; the representative of “how not to undress in front of your husband,” and the narrator says some truly vile things about her while she goes through her supposed pre-bed ritual. Really, it’s cringe–inducing and mean-spirited. Friganza, a large woman, seems to have made career out of poking fun at her own size, but she was also an outspoken women’s rights activist often using her public notoriety to speak about the arts and for economically downtrodden. She was progressive for the time, even keeping her maiden name and continuing to work after marrying in her early life, a fairly bold statement in the early 1900’s. Friganza’s on screen appearance in How to Undress in Front of Your Husband was one of her last, as she ended her film career in 1940 due to complications with arthritis. After a long career she died in relative obscurity in 1955.

So there you have it, everything I know about the oddball film. For better or for worse, here’s How to Undress in Front of Your Husband in all its schlocky glory.  It skips just a tad at the beginning, but extensive Internet searching yielded this as the best copy. 
 

Posted by Jason Schafer | Discussion
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‘Gay Semiotics’: Hilariously deadpan taxonomy of San Francisco life in the 1970s
01.16.2015
08:53 am

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Hal Fischer


 
Post-Stonewall. Pre-AIDS. Thus is defined a period, which we can for convenience also term “the 1970s,” that has special significance for homosexuals in the United States. The genie of liberation, especially sexual liberation, had been loosed from its magic lamp, but the devastating toll of plague had not yet made its mark. Under those circumstances, while still enjoying or enduring marginalization in society, homosexual males could engage in behavior that was at once highly promiscuous and yet highly coded. The task of melding one’s own interest in, say, cowboys or sports and more generic signifiers of homosexuality created the possibility of a developed taxonomy of gay life. That is, you could be “gay” but of the butch/leather/jock/urbane type, and so on. During this time, it’s safe to say that many homosexuals became highly attuned to such signifiers.

Into this situation wandered a photographer named Hal Fischer, who published a monograph in 1977 with the provocative title Gay Semiotics based on pictures taken in San Francisco, especially Castro Street and Haight Ashbury. In it Fischer presented straightforward photographs of aspects of homosexual garb, etc., complete with explanatory labels, quite like a museum exhibit.

I can’t remember ever seeing this exact tone before, so deadpan and dry that the material is effectively turned inside out. Taxonomizing people isn’t necessarily the nicest impulse in the world—think of racist representations of African-Americans in the 19th century or Nazi depictions of Jews in the 20th…. Less harmfully, think of countless spreads in MAD Magazine that are funny and harmless but still not necessarily so nice. Nobody likes to be defined to that extent, one can almost hear the pushback…. “Hey, I’m gay and I don’t care about red handkerchiefs!” or whatnot. However, at this point in the development of gay culture, it seems that the trinkets had taken on iconic value within the culture and this winking look at it was most likely seen as funny and not malign.

We’ve supplied some of the more amusing pictures and captions here, but you can see the entire (I believe) book at the Queer Cultural Center. The book is hard to find and currently sells for $500.
 

BLUE HANDKERCHIEF
Handkerchiefs signify behavioral tendencies through both color and placement. A blue handkerchief placed in the right hip pocket serves notice that the wearer desires to play the passive role during sexual intercourse. Conversely, a blue handkerchief placed in the left hip pocket indicates that the wearer will assume the active or traditional male role during sexual contact. The blue handkerchief is commonly used in the treatment of nasal congestion and in some cases holds no meaning in regard to sexual preferences.

RED HANDKERCHIEF
Red handkerchiefs are used as signifiers for behavior that is often regarded as deviant or abnormal. A red handkerchief located in the right hip pocket implies that the wearer takes the passive role in anal/hand insertion. A red handkerchief placed in the left hip pocket suggests that the wearer plays the active role in anal/hand insertion. Red handkerchiefs are also employed in the treatment of nasal discharge and in some cases may have no significance in regard to sexual contact.
 

EARRING
An earring in the right lobe may suggest that the wearer prefers to play the passive role during sexual activity. Conversely, an earring in the left lobe may signify active behavior on the part of the wearer. Unlike the other signifiers, however, Right/Left placement of the earring is not always indicative of Passive/Active tendencies on the part of the wearer. Furthermore, the earring or stud is often adopted by non-homosexual men, thus making the earring the most subtle of homosexual signifiers.
 

KEYS
Keys are an understood signifier for homosexual activity. A key chain worn on the right side of the body indicates that the wearer desires to play a passive role during a sexual encounter. Conversely, keys placed on the left side of the body signify that the wearer expects to assume a dominant position. Keys are also worn by janitors, laborers and other workers with no sexual significance intended.
 

AMYL NITRITE
Amyl nitrite is a prescription capsule drug used in the treatment of angina pectoris (heart disease). Amyl nitrite, or “poppers” as it is known in slang terminology, is inhaled through either the nose or the mouth. After inhalation the user experiences a quickened heartbeat and the sensation of blood rushing to his head. Amyl nitrite is especially popular on dance floors and immediately prior to sexual climax. Since Amyl Nitrite is available only by prescription, manufacturers have created a number of commercial substitutes as well as a variety of inhalers. Although Amyl is used by heterosexuals, its immense popularity among gays has earned it the title “The Gay Drug.”
 

STREET FASHION
BASIC GAY
 

STREET FASHION
JOCK
 

ARCHETYPAL MEDIA IMAGE
WESTERN
The western or cowboy prototype is identified by articles of clothing: cowboy or western boots, jeans, flannel or western style shirts and in some instances hats. When the image appears in gay magazines the settings are usually barns, corrals or fence posts. The cowboy represents the frontier and a male-only society. The machismo qualities of the western archetype are vigorously exploited by advertising. Modern cowboys are used by the media to play up masculinity and sexuality in ways that are subconsciously understood by the gay populace.
 

ARCHETYPAL MEDIA IMAGE
LEATHER
The leather prototype is the most easily recognized look. Black leather items include everything from hoods to jackets, pants, caps and underwear. Accoutrements include motorcycles, chains and various sexual items. In the gay media black leather becomes a symbol for the unknown or untried. It is entirely, vehemently, macho in appearance. While the other archetypes have their roots in myths accepted and celebrated by the culture-at-large, the leather cult, like its straight counterpart is rooted in non-acceptance and non-conformity.
 

BONDAGE DEVICE
MEAT HOIST
 

Cover

via Tombolare

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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