|Sex Files||Dec 22 2017|
We recently showcased Berlin based art publishers Goliath's latest release Photographia Erotica Historia, a collection of erotica in a unique mini book format, and over the years we've talked about four other releases by the company. Today, in the while-we're-at-it category, we wanted to take a quick look at Goliath's 2016 compendium History of German Porn. Culled from the Gretchen Kraut Archives, the book is more than 200 black and white photos and drawings with explanatory text, and in size is like a thick paperback novel. Where Goliath's 2014 collection Private Pornography in the Third Reich dealt with German sexual culture from around 1920 until the end of World War II, this subsequent collection starts in the 1800s, squeezes Third Reich porn into a chapter, and continues until the 1960s. Along the way it looks at parlor photography, gay/lesbian erotica, ethnographic nudes, amateur erotica, naturism, and more.
It's a lot of material, much of it highly explicit, and it could serve as a launching point for any number of discussions. But for us, as an art history site, we're reminded once again that nothing is really new. Whatever the particular kink, photographic evidence proves that people the age of your grandparents have already done it, and we can safely assume all the practices go back for centuries. Every variation, every position, every combination, already done. Consider the sexual imagery on Greek urns, and in the Kama Sutra. There's nothing new. Roman historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus observed way back in the first century that Germans were a tough and wild folk, perfectly content to roam naked through the wilderness, but not particularly lustful. The images in History of German Porn cast doubt upon Tacitus' assessment. They suggest that the German reputation for sexual coolness doesn't quite fit.
Having spent some time in Germany, we don't think it fits either. Consider the fact that freikoerperkultur, or nudism, is more embedded in German culture than that of other western nations. There are parks in Berlin where one can lounge naked. German cities have brothels the size of malls. Sexual decadence, though mostly underground, was a hallmark of the Third Reich years. Munich, Berlin, and Hamburg were notorious for their exclusive erotic stage shows. So perhaps what History of German Porn teaches us is merely that overt sexual expression in Germany is pushed more toward private realms such as naturist retreats and sex clubs. Or maybe it teaches us that sexual reputations are misleading, and all of us respond to the same stimuli. But ultimately, there's no need to probe that deeply into the implications of History of German Porn. As pure art, as photographs of nude young bodies, as tableaux merely to regard and enjoy, the images are more than worthwhile.
|Intl. Notebook||Nov 20 2017|
The miniature format was chosen by Goliath as homage. Mini books were popular in the late 1800s when erotic images needed to be easily concealable. Such items are collectible today, as are the individual studio photos and naturist shots from which much of Photographia Erotica Historia's content is culled. As a bonus you get some drawings and ink renderings to go along with the photos. The version you see above has French text, but the volume is available in five languages, including English.
Goliath publishes an array of material, but its erotic output is our favorite because it makes people challenge their own assumptions about art, sex, desire, and the idea of the past as a place where people were less devoted to matters of the flesh. Spoiler alert: maybe they weren't, as a scan through Photographia Erotica Historia will illustrate. Our previous Goliath books—which we tend to leave laying around when guests come by—have provided endless hours of conversation and entertainment, and we expect this one to do the same. We have a few sample photos below, and you can visit the Goliath website here.
Photographia Erotica Historica
|Sex Files||Oct 25 2014|
Of all the books Berlin-based publishing company Goliath has produced, perhaps none is more essentially pulp in nature than Private Pornography in the Third Reich. 1950s and 1960s men’s adventure magazines were obsessed with Nazis, and Third Reich spies littered post-war pulp fiction. The stories and art were often sexual in nature, such as here and here, sometimes hinting at or portraying depravity behind closed doors. With Private Pornography in the Third Reich the doors are closed no more. Stepping into forbidden salons, we’re presented not only with challenging images, but the social questions pornography raises, plus the specter of Third Reich authoritarianism and eventual war.
|Modern Pulp||Sep 25 2014|
The good people at Berlin based Goliath Books sent us one of their 2014 publications, Chas Ray Krider’s Dirty Rendezvous, the third and final book in his motelesque trilogy. The first two entries of the trio were Motel Fetish and Do Not Disturb, and Krider’s meticulously staged scenes in book three continue to conjure the retro chic of those lonely highwayside stopovers of American lore. The images nod strongly toward mid-century film noir and melodrama. Anything from The Postman Always Rings Twice to Psycho could apply, but soaked in deep, lush color. Krider’s women are the dangerous type—smokers and drinkers garbed in fetish wear, and often lavishly tattooed. Despite their tough looks, there’s an undercurrent of romance—the isolated motel is linked in the American psyche to freedom, adventure, and never knowing what you’ll find past the next solitary mile marker. Or who.
But while motels suggest travel by road and the exhilaration of unexpected encounters, the title Dirty Rendezvous and the models’ elaborate garb speak of illicit plans and long guarded secrets. Not random meet-ups, but carefully woven webs of deceit—wives lied to, hats pulled down low, furtive glances in the rear view mirror. Krider has deftly achieved all these sensations and more, and when you add in the fact that his motel sets are as clean and carefully arranged as pages from vintage furniture catalogs, the result is guilty sleaze done with considerable class. Dirty Rendezvous is a book depicting the moments just before wicked acts are committed with soul-freeing joy. You imagine Krider's women checking in wearing demure garb, then transforming once concealed in the room. Of course, the desk clerk doesn’t care either way. He smirks when guests register under obviously false names and pay with cash, but all that really matters to him is that they don't wake the family in 3B. It's a futile wish—3B is about to hear things they never heard before. Get more info at the Goliath website here, and the artist’s blog here.
|Modern Pulp||May 23 2013|
Last week we shared a few images from a new bondage collection called Strictly Bondage created by Berlin-based publishers Goliath, and mentioned that the book we received was one of two. Above you see the cover of the second collection—Kinky Bondage Obsession. How different can two bondage books be? You’d be surprised. Shot by Jim Weathers, Kinky Bondage Obsession is of course about the restraints, but more so than Strictly Bondage, it’s about color and texture. Weathers’ models are beautifully garbed—clad in metallic purples and shimmering crimsons, sheathed in skin hugging vinyl and nylon. Rubber, faux fur, PVC, and patent leather abound. The action takes place in opulent, suede-walled salons appointed with wooden accessories. In fact, the book could double as a catalog for expensive bondage outfits and shabby chic home decorations.
The press material references David Lynch and that’s easy to see. Weathers has made Blue Velvet with the lights turned up a notch, before Dennis Hopper barged in, screamed amyl nitrate-fueled filth and ruined the party. An all female party, by the way, which is another contrast to Strictly Bondage. The lack of men in this thick book may seem to bring the threat level down, but on the other hand, since most of the four-hundred-plus shots are solo—that is, they feature only a bound woman—you have to wonder who exactly is doing the restraining. Possibly it's you, you kinky devil. But some scenes do feature a dominator, always another woman, and the implicit question presented in those deals with gender expectations. Beyond the technicolor outfits and opulent interiors, do you see pure domination, mutual consent, or mere artifice? The answer may reveal your attitudes about women and power. You can read more about Kinky Bondage Obsession at the Goliath website.
|Modern Pulp||May 15 2013|
A long while back we mentioned the Japanese art of kinbaku-bi or shibari (we won’t get into the debate over which term is more correct) and said we’d discuss it again, but of course never did. Well, we were reminded of that promise when Berlin-based rebel publishers Goliath sent us a couple of their books. Ostensibly, they’re coffee table volumes, but of a rather provocative type, dealing with bondage as art. Today we’re looking only at Strictly Bondage, and we’ll get to the other book Kinky Bondage Obsession later this week.
The book’s foreword asks: “What is art? What is erotic? What is porn? What is interesting?” Strictly Bondage is a little of all those, and it’ll be living on our coffee table for some time, or at least until our friends bring their kids by. We have several of the tamer images from the book’s interior below, and you can learn more about Victor Lightworship and Strictly Bondage at www.goliathbooks.com, and at the photographer’s site here.