Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dirty, Raw, and Consuming

A lot of intellectual nonsense gets written about the differences between pornography and erotica.

The argument always springs from the position that Pornography is bad and unacceptable (its supporters degenerates), and Erotica is somehow less "crude" and more artistic (its supporters socially acceptable).

It's all semantics. The same wankers who argue for a divide between the two will also tell you that Charles Dickens wrote literature, while Stephen King's work isn't.

The sexual response is totally subjective.

What turns on one person makes another person gag.

What the covers of these long-out-of-print porno novels do (and do brilliantly) is suggest worlds of sexual anarchy where there are no limits.

They capture, totally honestly, the male sexual mind (and perhaps the female mind, too).

Primarily, though, they are aimed at men.

The fear and negativity associated with sex, an impulse as natural as hunger, has been fanned by religion. And it's easy to see why.

Sex has the power to control the mind (at least until the urge is purged somehow), so it's a threat to anything that's attempting to do the same.

These potent, iconic images of rampant, unfettered sexuality possess a savagery and purity that celebrates our basic primivitism, a primivitism that cannot be denied.

Sexual fantasy has never been more threatened than it is now; its purveyors have never been more unjustly demonized by the hypocritical mainstream.

Fortunately, few subjects were taboo in the world of the Great American Porno Novel, which enjoyed enormous success in the 70's and deep into the 80's.

Explicit sex on videotape and DVD, which depicts everything and suggests little (with some exceptions), destroyed the porno novel.

It's a terrible shame.

An entire corner of sexual expression has been lost, although the emergence of explicit e-novels and writers like JW McKenna may signal a resurrection.

Filmed sexuality is a very different beast to illustrated and written sexuality. It serves the same end purpose, but it provides a very different journey to that end.

These wonderfully lurid covers (many are superb works of illustrative art) are pregnant with the power of desire.

They don't attempt to legitimize lust or fit it into a neat, acceptable box that mass media can gobble up and regurgitate as sanitized visual diarrhea.

No, the sexual artisans behind the covers of these novels portrayed sex as "dirty", raw, intense, and all-consuming. They knew what great sex is.


  1. Great post. Very, very well-said. You & I see eye-to-eye perfectly.

    I love these covers by the way. Great art.

    Very subversive. Which is interesting, when you think about it, in that they shouldn't have to be subversive. They're only subversive when you consider the puritan ideology regarding human sexuality that much of the society we live in perpetualizes.

    I think its also interesting to note, for the sake of arguing against those who might find this sort of thing "offensive" (god forbid, right? ...friggin' P.C.-nazis) that at least one of the writers featured most prominently in this book series is very blatantly female (Kathy Andrews). There may be more, I don't know (I'm not familiar with any of these names), who have chosen to use pseudonyms, but Andrews, clearly, has no qualms of being a woman writing "deviant" porno-novels.

  2. The identity of Kathy Andrews is unknown.

    Could be a female. Possibly not.

    Porno publishers sometimes reasoned (rightly, I say) that men enjoyed reading porno that was written by a woman.

    I react similarly when I see women in extreme fetish material. Even if the material itself is visually repulsive (I'm sure you know what I'm talking about), I'm turned on by what is obviously going on in the woman's mind. You can't fake an interest in this stuff (not for any money).

    For centuries, men have been told that "women don't think like that". So, when a man comes across someone who does, the trigger is pulled.

  3. As if I wasn't already impressed with your I'm addicted...

  4. Great post Phantom!
    You chose some great titles, as well as covers, in which to discuss.
    Very enlightning!

  5. this is first rate stuff. well done

  6. This is incredible stuff! Very enlightening and informative. For myself, I love the Tijuana Bibles; my own personal bible is the key work on the genre- ' Tijuana Bibles: Art and Wit in America's Forbidden Funnies, 1930s-1950s' by Bob Adelman. Check it out if you haven't already- it, along with Danny Peary's stuff, Sleazoid, Psychotronic, Barefot Gen, Ritchie's samurai stuff etc-is indispensible.

    Thanks for a sterling blog.

    'Sterling Blog'? Sounds like the name of a Pommy WWII fighter pilot or similar military hero, a la Colonel Blimp??

    Time for a 'Blimp style' re-boot in the wake of 9/11 and the age of Terror??

    In the words of Patrick Bachau in 'New Age', 'live with the question'...