Femmes Fatales Jul 31 2021
RAW HISHIMI
Yuriko gets fresh in her bestselling photo book.


We could have gone several directions in posting a photo of Japanese actress Yuriko Hishimi, who appeared in such films as Kôshoku: Genroku (maruhi) monogatari, aka Diary of a Nymphomaniac, and Chikyû kogeki meirei: Gojira tai Gaigan, aka Godzilla vs. Gigan. We have shots of her in swimsuits, in flannels, in motorcycle leathers, in auto racing gear, in a nurse's outfit, and more. But underneath all those, there's this. Even then there are many choices because she has entire books of nudes. Well, one third of one book, and all of two others. One of her solo efforts, a big seller, was called Yuriko 1967-73, and this is one of the images from inside.

Japanese actresses posed nude often, which is why we have so many of the shots on our website. They were made, on average, fifty years ago. Today, in our current era, photos of nudes cause debate. Are they artful, or are they exploitation? If they differ from a nude Rodin or Modigliani, is it because of their realism? Is it because of their easy replicability? Or their existence outside a museum setting? Then what of a shocking museum Mapplethorpe or Schiele with the subject's exposed genitals? Perhaps nudes are exploitative only when distributed for profit. But if profit condemns a nude, then what of the profits of galleries and museums? Are nudes exploitative because of their tendency to arouse? Then what of Rodin's famed “Le Baiser”? Since our species owes its very existence to the drive for sex, if nudes arouse, isn't that a celebration of our ultimate purpose on this planet?

These are questions that interest us, which we attempt to ask with each nude image. Opinions differ, but for our part we don't believe there's anything inherently exploitative about the nude form, though clearly the production of such images can lead to that. But we don't live in an all-things-are-equal world, which is to say, for some it's easier to categorize and condemn all of something than try to understand which things might actually be in one category and which might be in another. We believe some nudes are exploitative (such as revenge porn), but not all. The photo above is a Rodin with a knowing look. It's erotic, playful, and a little shy. It's pure art. Which is why we have a similar bonus shot below, and more from Hishimi here.

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Vintage Pulp Oct 14 2015
THE LIMITS OF CONTROL
Yet another attempt to constrain a woman’s sexuality ends in disaster.

Kôshoku: Genroku (maruhi) monogatari, aka Story of a Nymphomaniac is the tale of a free-spirited woman living during Genroku era Japan who wants to be happy but can’t seem to find the right guy. Natsu, played by the lovely Yuriko Hishimi, who you see in a promo shot below, is always horny (she believes semen nourishes her), and always conniving (at one point she pretends to be pregnant—complete with a pillow under her kimono), but her troubles don’t stem from her sexual urges. No, they stem largely from male assumptions that she’s available to any of them.

Indeed, the fictional character of Natsu may live in the 1600s, but her problems are very 2015. Yet she isn’t blameless. She digs a kimono merchant and won’t leave him alone even though he’s married. Bad things are bound to happen. Turns out matrimonial vows are elastic to him too. Bad things are really bound to happen. While all this is done with utter seriousness, there are also bizarre comedic bits here. What can you say about a movie in which a snake crawls in a woman’s pussy and she thinks it’s her lover getting frisky? Words fail us.

A direct translation of the movie’s Japanese title would be “Amorous Genroku (secret) story.” Well, there’s no secret here—Natsu is a nympho. But despite all her ups and downs she comes away feeling just fine about herself. And so do we. Kôshoku: Genroku (maruhi) monogatari premiered in Japan today in 1975.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
January 21
1950—Alger Hiss Is Convicted of Perjury
American lawyer Alger Hiss is convicted of perjury in connection with an investigation by the House unAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC), at which he was questioned about being a Soviet spy. Hiss served forty-four months in prison. Hiss maintained his innocence and fought his perjury conviction until his death in 1996 at age 92.
1977—Carter Pardons War Fugitives
U.S. President Jimmy Carter pardons nearly all of the country's Vietnam War draft evaders, many of whom had emigrated to Canada. He had made the pardon pledge during his election campaign, and he fulfilled his promise the day after he took office.
January 19
1915—Claude Patents Neon Tube
French inventor Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube, in which an inert gas is made to glow various colors through the introduction of an electrical current. His invention is immediately seized upon as a way to create eye catching advertising, and the neon sign comes into existence to forever change the visual landscape of cities.
1937—Hughes Sets Air Record
Millionaire industrialist, film producer and aviator Howard Hughes sets a new air record by flying from Los Angeles, California to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes, 25 seconds. During his life he set multiple world air-speed records, for which he won many awards, including America's Congressional Gold Medal.
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