A couple of days ago, Taschen sent me a review copy of the new trade edition of their infamous 2007 publication, Vanessa Del Rio: Fifty Years of Slightly Slutty Behavior, an autobiography cum coffetable art book dedicated to the life and career of the legendarily nasty 70s porn star, and edited by Taschen’s “sex editor” Dian Hanson.
Vanessa Del Rio: Fifty Years of Slightly Slutty Behavior is one of the most extraordinary pop culture products that I have ever beheld. It’s also one of the filthiest things I’ve ever seen. At once, it’s a gorgeous and glossy volume, a high class, high end, object and just the nastiest and most prurient porn you can possibly imagine. That’s a neat trick and no mean feat to pull off. The 1970s vintage of most of the photographs is probably what allows this enterprise to (just barely) be categorized as “acceptable,” because there was zero attempt made to censor any of it, I can assure you.
The book is a heavy, oversized 12” by 12”, full-color, 328 page paean to the pussy power of one of the most sex-crazed super sluts who has ever lived. Let me rephrase that, Vanessa Del Rio is a self-created sex-crazed super slut, someone who foresaw her future slut-dom whilst still in her early teens. She became who who wanted to be, that much can’t be argued. The exploits documented here (street-walking in Times Square, bondage films, steroid abuse, jail time) would see a sailor blush, and yet, in Del Rio’s voice (captured well here), her mis-adventures command respect. The woman is hardcore! Say what you want, this hot and spicy Latina chica from the Bronx sucked in what life had to offer her and she swallowed every last drop.
It would be tempting to call Vanessa Del Rio: Fifty Years of Slightly Slutty Behavior a “survivor’s tale,” but it’s not anything of the sort. It’s the story of one of life’s winners and in Del Rio’s case, she’s beat the game on her own terms and no else else’s. Her tale is a fascinating one and now it’s been set down for posterity in this wild, wild book. It’s not for everybody, certainly not, but if you suspect this book might be for you, then it probably is!
The deluxe edition of Vanessa Del Rio: Fifty Years of Slightly Slutty Behavior consists of 200 copies, which sell for a whopping $1500. Each comes in a special box, is signed by Del Rio and contains a lithograph of her drawn and signed by Robert Crumb. It also comes with a DVD, which includes several of her most notable sex scenes and anecdotes about some of her wildest sexual experiences. There are additionally 1300 copies that sell for $700 each. These are signed by Del Rio, but lack the Crumb litho. In one of these 1500 copies there lurks a gold lottery ticket ala Charlie and the Chocolate Factory whereby the winner gets an all-expenses-paid night “out on the town” (read into that what you will) with Vanessa Del Rio, to be captured on film by a noted photographer (probably noted pervy photographer Terry Richardson, who took photos in 2005 of Del Rio as she sucked his dick). As of today, the winning ticket remains unclaimed. The trade version is a bargain at $59.95, but no gold ticket, sorry.
That she can take images that were once sold from under the counter in Times Square smut shops and denounced by the Meese Commission and somehow recontextualize them as art or anthropology and as something palatable enough to be sold in respectable bookstores is a testament to Dian Hanson’s editorial genius. And that he entrusts and supports Hanson to do such work is a tribute, too, to Benedikt Taschen’s prowess and creativity as a businessman. To turn this it doesn’t get any filthier 70s smut into a $1500 coffeetable book is an alchemical transmutation of considerable brilliance.
The clip below is NSFW, so be warned!