Photo by Lance Loud, courtesy of Kristian Hoffman
Brian Eno’s reputation as an aficionado of rather extreme pornography is by now well-known, but at the time of future Pretender Chrissie Hynde’s 1974 profile in the NME, he was just letting the cat out of the bag. What an extraordinary thing for a pop star, even one with Eno’s avant garde pedigree, to admit to in 1974!
But what’s even stranger is the casual reference to Eno being an “elite” film star. What the hell does that mean? Is he referring to actually being in the films himself?
“It’s a burning shame that most people want to keep pornography under cover when it’s such a highly developed art form - which is one of the reasons that I started collecting pornographic playing cards I’ve got about 50 packs which feature on all my record covers for the astute observer.
“There’s something about pornography which has a similarity to rock music. A pornographic photographer aims his camera absolutely directly, at the centre of sexual attention. He’s not interested in the environment of the room.
“I hate the sort of photography in Penthouse and Playboy which is such a compromise between something to give you a hard-on and something which pretends to be artistic. The straight pornographers aim right there where it’s at.
“Which is analogous to so many other situations where somebody thinks one thing is important, so they focus completely on that and don’t realize they’re unconsciously organizing everything else around it as well. I have such beautiful pornography - I’ll show you my collection sometime.
The last guy invited me up to see his etchings.
“One theory is that black-and-white photography is always more sexy than colour photography. The reason for this is provided by Marshall McLuhan, who points out that if a thing is ‘high definition,’ which colour photography is, it provides more information and doesn’t require participation as much as if it is ‘low definition’.” I.e. a horror play on the radio is always very, very frightening because the imagery is always your own. If youUre choosing your own imagery, you’ll always choose the most frightening, or in the case of pornography, the most sexual.
“The idea of things being low definition has always interested me a lot - of being unspecific - another thing which is a key-point of my lyrics. They must be ‘low definition’ so that they don’t say anything at all direct. I think the masters of that were Lou Reed and Bob Dylan (on “Blonde on BIonde”). The lyrics are so inviting.
“DO YOU KNOW WHAT ‘burning shame’ is by the way? It’s a pornographic term for a deviation involving candles.
“Very popular in Japanese pornography. They’re always using lit candles because Japanese pornography is very sadistic, partly because of the Japanese view of women, which is a mixture of resentment and pure animal lust.
“In the traditional view, a woman is still expected to be at the beck and call of her husband, so that manifests itself in that kind of pornography. Of which I have a few examples, of course.
“Mexican pornography is an interesting island of thought because they seem to be heavily into excretory functions. The traditional American view is that anything issued from the body is dirty. It’s incredibly puritanical and it resents bodily fluids, so if one is trying to debase a woman, you cover them with that and hence you get the fabulous term ‘Golden Showers’ - the term for pissing on someone, which some well- known rock musicians are said to be very involved in . .
“Here come the warm jets?”
“That’s certainly a reference.”
That he’s considered to be a film star of sorts in a few very ‘elite’ circles. - Any chance of him making a comeback to the Screen?
“Some of the movies I did were very funny - they had to pretend to have a plot. Ha ha. [Emphasis added]
“Can I show you my pubic area?” (! ! !) He exposes his stomach down to his, ah - about six inches below his Navel. “Absolutely bare! Now I’ve got this beautiful bare belly! I’ve got this new Japanese thing, you see and the Japanese don’t have much hair on their bodies ‘Japanese culture I tip as the next big thing.”
I glance nervously over at the flickering candle on the windowsill. Out of nowhere, Eno produces a very extraordinary looking object which he explains to be the ‘Double Punkt Roller’, a massage device used in Victorian times. I marvel at its aesthetic qualities and he assures me that it can only be fully appreciated when used on the bare buttocks. We conclude that art which demands participation holds the greatest appeal.
I have a friend who swears up and down he once saw Eno in a sleazy mid-70s porno loop, in a big “daisy-chain” orgy scene (“Who else had such a hairstyle back then?” he’d ask). I always dismissed this, but maybe he was right?
Everything you’d rather not have known about Brian Eno by Chrissie Hynde