De Sade administers shock treatment in new art book from Goliath.
Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade, was a French nobleman, revolutionary politician, philosopher, and author of novels, short stories, plays, dialogues, and political tracts. But he's best known, of course, for his libertine sexuality. Since his death in 1814 he has continued to enthrall scholars, social critics, and historians. Now Berlin based art publishers Goliath, a group always fascinated by the sexually bizarre, have taken their own careful look at de Sade, publishing Marquis De Sade - 100 Erotic Illustrations, a collection of art from various Marquis de Sade books, put together as a hardcover volume.
Goliath points out that everyone knows what sadism is, but nobody actually reads de Sade. They've solved that problem by doing away with text entirely. It's a canny choice, because for all de Sade's renown, critics remain passionately divided over his literary worth. There are those who say his writings were merely a fig leaf for his obsessions. If that's the case his fig leaf has been ripped away in this book, and you get a set of ink drawings that detail everything he loved without trying to intellectualize, condemn, or justify it.
The illustrations are shocking, of course, but de Sade lived to shock. He'd probably be thrilled to know he still manages to do that more than two centuries after his death, as well as to learn of his influence on Japanese roman porno cinema, women-in-prison movies, bondage literature such as Fifty Shades of Grey, and other odd niches of modern media.
Considering de Sade's fame, those who don't know his history might assume that French society was hopelessly depraved to tolerate his acts. Actually, the opposite was true. He spent thirty-two years of his life in prisons and asylums, and escaped having his head and shoulders separated by the guillotine—more than once—due only to political upheaval.
When examined by psychiatrists the diagnosis was that de Sade was “insanely obsessed with vice.” There can be little doubt this diagnosis was spot on, as he gambled away his fortune, consorted with prostitutes, staged orgies, forced servants and maids to perform sexual acts, drugged the unsuspecting, indulged in corporal punishment, and of course engaged in every sexual variation and deviance known.
Though 17th century France didn't find much humor in de Sade, with the passage of two hundred years the illustrations in Goliath's book do provoke a few laughs—from us at least—as lords and ladies relentlessly diddle, fondle, suckle and paddle each other. We don't mean to make light of de Sade's crimes—the French were probably right to stuff him away. But considering the fact that his work has been routinely banned and burned—even by his own son at one point—it's instructive to be able to look at the contents of a mind that has had such an influence on our own weird and depraved age. You can find more information about Marquis De Sade - 100 Erotic Illustrations on the Goliath website.
Marquis De Sade - 100 Erotic Illustrations
Goliath Books examines a century of German erotica.
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.
History of German Porn
Goliath goes miniature with a new collection of vintage erotica.
Nobody makes erotica quite the way Berlin based art book publisher Goliath does. In the past we've featured its erotic photo volumes Private Pornography in the Third Reich, Strictly Bondage, Kinky Bondage Obsession, and Dirty Rendezvous. Now Goliath has a new collection out called Photographia Erotica Historia, a compendium of hundreds of vintage erotic images compiled in mini-book format. It's leather bound, just about three inches high, close to 400 pages in length, and stored in its own snazzy little slipcase.
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
Goliath Books exposes Third Reich porn to the light of day.
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.
According to Hitler’s formulation, the perfect Aryan female was a mother. His Nazi state gave medals to women who had eight children or more, as long as mother, father and offspring were of perfect Aryan stock. It bears mentioning at this point that increasing numbers of modern day scientists have done away with race because it seems less and less to exist biologically. It is, evidence suggests more each day, an entirely social construct into which humans willingly and unwillingly self-organize. Hence there was never a master race. The theory makes as much sense scientifically as the theory of a master wizard.
But racial purity was Hitler’s obsession, and to force procreative sex on a country he felt needed to replace millions of military age men killed in the Great War his regime repressed the idea of recreational sex, driving sexual freedom and sexual expression underground. Prostitutionwas banned, sending an estimated 100,000 women and 35,000 men into the shadows. But as always, the rich, powerful, and connected could obtain whatever they wished. Secret dens of sexual performance and prostitution sprang up, and a black market in pornography blossomed, gaining momentum once it became clear that selling it outside Germany was an efficient means of accessing foreign currency.
Private Pornography in the Third Reich is sliced into ten sections: postcards/portraits, nudism, petting, oral sex, heterosexual intercourse, lesbian couples, lesbianism with toys, sado-masochism, and threesomes. If that sounds like a lot of photos, it is—200 images in digest size from a collection originally put together by Hans von Bockhain. The book contains only a brief introduction then presents its photos without captions or explanations. But none are needed—if pornography is the sexual id of a society then what we see is a pornographic subculture in a bread-and-circuses moment, indulging in wild diversions as the grip of an authoritarian state tightens.
In another few years the Reich would have near total control of life in Germany, and operate a chain of concentration camps in which those deemed sexual deviants could be imprisoned. As a historical document of the sex industry during the anti-lust years leading up to that period,Private Pornography in the Third Reich is fascinating. The subject is taboo, the photos perhaps more so. They range from artful salon compositions to raunchy reverse cowgirl penetration shots, which means it may not be coffee table material for everyone, but for the adventurous it’s certain to live up to aesthetic expectations, and provoke vigorous debates as well. Read more at Goliath Books.
Need to rendezvous in secret? Chas Ray Krider shows you how.
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.
The name’s Bondage, Kinky Bondage.
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.
Publishers provocateur Goliath release a collection of Japanese-bondage-inspired art photos.
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.
Strictly Bondage, a compact volume of black and white images derived directly from the Japanese bondage arts, was shot by longtime bdsm photographer Victor Lightworship. Like the master or kinbakushi who restrains women in kinbaku-bi, Lightworship uses ropes in some of his photos to suspend his models. He appears in many of the shots, and while he goes through the motions of dominating his models, the content doesn’t overpower the compositional beauty of the tableaux. Or put another way, while the book generates some raised eyebrows when visitors pick it up from the coffee table, they quickly become aware that they’re looking at the output of someone with talent and a finely honed aesthetic.
Lightworship has been at this for thirty years, even studying kinbaku-bi under a rope master, so the sharpness and cohesion of this collection is no surprise, nor is the fact that he can walk a tightrope between the disturbing and erotic so deftly. Some of his non-Strictly Bondage work goes farther, so the effect achieved here is deliberate and is partly due, we think, to the array of expressions worn by his models—sometimes a sort of overacted b-movie terror, but other times a resigned serenity comically juxtaposed against the most elaborate of subjugation. We see the latter in the shot below featuring porn actress Jay Taylor as human luggage.
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.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1935—Four Gangsters Gunned Down in New Jersey
In Newark, New Jersey, the organized crime figures Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at the Palace Chophouse restaurant. Schultz, who was the target, lingers in the hospital for about a day before dying
. The killings are committed by a group of professional gunmen known as Murder, Inc., and the event becomes known as the Chophouse Massacre.
1950—Al Jolson Dies
Vaudeville and screen performer Al Jolson dies of a heart attack in San Francisco after a trip to Korea to entertain troops causes lung problems. Jolson is best known for his film The Jazz Singer, and for his performances in blackface make-up, which were not considered offensive at the time, but have now come to be seen as a form of racial bigotry.
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
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