Nude art and censorship laid bare

Censorship is age-old. Shadowbanning on Twitter, discrimination on Tumblr, censorship on Facebook etc., are just the latest symptoms in an ongoing battle for freedom of expression…

An exploration of the historic ties between censorship and nude art.

Source: Nude art and censorship laid bare

If you subscribe to the aphorism that sex is really about power, Ireson suggests another reason to why Modigliani’s nudes were so shocking: “These women are overtly sexual and that really connects with the way women were troubling society at the time. These pictures were made during the First World War, when more women were working, more women were living independently … there really is a social anxiety about that.”

My Swedish sex toy was made in China?

Nea sounds like Neo? Really?

90% of toys are made in China, which technically makes the Chinese elves.

Sean Lock

A version of this post was originally published on October 13, 2011.  It has been edited and updated for MichaelSamadhi.com.

no deposit – no return

There are few guarantees when purchasing adult toys.

For public health reasons, returns are almost always forbidden by local law.  I think even my most staunch libertarian friends would accept that role for government regulation.

Who really wants a used dildo anyway?

(Btw – don’t answer that… you don’t want to go there… there are people who pay for used panties after all.)

Most adult toy makers offer no warranty on their goods.  But, there are a few higher end manufacturers offering a year (or perhaps two) of limited protection against failure.

This also makes sense to me.  Would you be ashamed to return some cheap ‘Johnson’ made by Doc Johnson?  I would.

Some toys are like a really bad one night stand.  The kind where it’s best to cringe, walk away, and pretend nothing happened.

Some things aren’t worth returning…

Sex toys have long since graduated from the floppy rubber things you hide in your bedside table to beautiful works of interactive art

Gwyneth Paltrow

it’s made where?

I recently had an experience with a warranty return on one of those higher end products.

It’s a really nice piece from an established and respected European company in the $100+ price range.

The toy’s name sounds a lot like a role once played by Keanu Reeves. (See subtitle.)

Please note that this particular company proudly advertises manufacturing all of it’s products ‘in-house’.  (edit – At least that was the claim when this article was first written.)

That leads me to believe, for instance, that if this particular company is headquartered in Sweden, then it’s gear would also be manufactured in Sweden.

Suzhou – Shanghai – Anchorage

Imagine my surprise then when the FedEx tracking for my warranty replacement originated in Suzhou, China.

That is not a typographical error either.

My package then transited through Shanghai.  Then to Anchorage.  Before finally making it to the mainland USA, and on towards the humble abode I call Chateau Samadhi.

this is Sweden – it’s a part of Europe

this is China, it’s not a part of Europe

We live in a day and age where good numbers of Chinese exports have been discovered to be tainted with heavy metals.  Poisonous chemicals, like diethylene glycol, have also been found in products from China.

For no other reason than that, I do my best to avoid purchasing products that wear the “Made in China” label.

And, health concerns are not my only worry.

political and religious prisoners

I’m also concerned about the common use of forced labor (i.e. political and religious prisoners) in Chinese manufacturing.  Estimates of the total number of Chinese political and religious prisoners run as high as six or eight million.

The use of those prisoners in manufacturing is both well documented and common.

Some of those individuals are imprisoned simply for their faith.

Most famously, this includes practitioners of Falun Gong.  But, they are not alone in suffering from Chinese persecution.

That’s a pretty disturbing thought for a blog author who believes that BDSM can be a spiritual activity.

As if being inducted into the “Made in China Prison Industrial Complex” wasn’t enough…

It’s said that religious prisoners receive the longest sentences, and worst treatment, once inducted into the Chinese penal system.

You may be reading this on a smartphone, while flying on a plane, or while nibbling on a bit of chocolate. And therefore, a new study asserts, it’s entirely possible that you’re enjoying the products of slave labor.

Jay Busbee

Yahoo News

like blood diamonds

I knew a girl who wouldn’t accept a $10,000 engagement ring without certification.

She had to know it was not a “blood diamond” used to fund some evil insurgent or warlord before ever wearing it.

Her poor unknowing fiance had to return the first ring he bought her…

Do you really think folks like that are going to take kindly to the possibility that the “Sweedish” toy humming in their vagina was made in China?

Can you imagine how she might respond if she found out the vibe was some kind of “prisoner dildo” fostering Communist repression?

Somebody’s got some ‘splaining to do!

God made everything that has life. And the rest is made in China.

Kcee Cunanan


Michael’s Way 2017

Outside of some relatively minor editing, everything above this point was written in October 2011.

I added a few links, illustrations, and made some formatting changes.  Shortening a few of the original’s run-on sentences was another goal of the revision.

I remain especially concerned today about human rights violations in China.  It’s a country where there are only five officially sanctioned religions.

Any spiritual/religious practice outside of those five ‘state’ religions is forbidden, not to mention punished.  Tibetan Buddhism is among the persecuted practices, which is a serious problem for me. 

You can be sure that it was made to look like an accident.  That it was a set up.

Peng Ming

Chinese dissident - predicted his own death in prison

made in China

I’m told that most of the world’s vibrators are made in China.  It’s said that the reason is economics.

I can’t say that I have direct evidence that adult toys are being produced by slave labor.  It is, however, very certain there are huge economic advantages for the Chinese economy in employing slave labor on such a massive scale.

When millions of individuals in your labor force are a ‘captive audience’, it’s relatively easy to produce a product that’s inexpensive.  Especially compared to the wages and benefits necessary for workers in European manufacturing.

Once upon a time, I collected nearly every offering produced by a certain Swedish sex toy company.  Since I discovered that their products were made in China, that’s no longer true.

all those damned quotes? why?

"Life itself is a quotation"

-- Jorge Luis Borges

The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotation.

Isaac D'Israeli

quote of the day

I’m sure you’ve noticed my Quote of the Day feature.

It’s rather hard to miss.

A friend of mine asked the other day why I was cluttering up my blog with all the quotes.

Their point was that the blog is called Michael’s Way.  Not DeSade’s way.  Nor Antoniou’s way.  Not Califia’s way either.

So why?  Why are there all those damned quotes?

Bear with me please, I’ll answer that question in a moment.

But, right now, I must admit that quotes make up about 60% of the posts.  That’s a ratio that certainly won’t get any lower as long as I post daily quotes.  And, you should know, the percentage of quotes might go higher still.  

Creating good content takes time.  It takes inspiration. It’s not likely I’ll keep up with the nearly post a day pace I’ve set so far.  At least not for long.

So, no matter how well I do with writing, the Quote of the Day feature will always be the (numerically) greatest part of Michael’s Way.

Perhaps life itself really is a quotation.

A fine quotation is a diamond in the hand of a man of wit and a pebble in the hand of a fool.

Joseph Roux

Meditations of a Parish Priest

collecting quotes

I’ve been collecting quotes since I turned 21.

That’s more than 30 years (and counting.)

Back in the day, as I read, I would fill notebooks with quotes.  Everything was “fair game”.  Anything I poked my nose into.

From Dumas’ Three Musketeers, to Thoreau’s Walden, on to No One Here Gets Out Alive, and Up and Down With the Rolling Stones.

Anytime I found a tidbit of wisdom (or perhaps obvious stupidity) I’d grab a notebook and pen, and faithfully copy the quotation.

I always felt that this practice made my reading more mindful.

It seemed that reading carefully enough to cull good quotes also facilitated better comprehension.

Well, the notebooks are long gone.  I think they disappeared during a big move.

But, the passion for collecting quotes remains.

Your host, Michael Samadhi

Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

about Quote of the Day

My hope is, when I share each Quote of the Day, that the words will have potential meaning for somebody.  Anybody.

I expect that the original author’s message will strike a chord.

Provoke thought.

Provide inspiration.

That’s exactly what the quotes do for me.

In fact, I’ll share a little secret with you — the quotes really aren’t for my readers.

While I happily share them with my friends, their real purpose is more personal.

Most of the quotes have some kind of unique meaning to me.

Perhaps it’s a special memory surrounding me from when the quote was discovered.

It’s may be that the quote is a signpost, or remembrance, from my journey.

Sometimes a quote serves more as a reminder.

Maybe of something I hope to change in my own life.

Or something I know, but hope to reinforce.

Really, my personal purpose in sharing a quote could be almost anything.

Regardless of whatever they might do for me, I hope the quotations I share do something for you too.

Getting fucked and being owned are inseparably the same.

Andrea Dworkin

Dworkinisms

Believe it or not, Dworkin’s quotation (above) was the original inspiration for this post.  My writing took on an unanticipated direction from there.

That happens.  When words start getting transferred from my brain through the keyboard, intent and direction will sometimes shift.

But, there’s no escaping that this post was inspired by Dworkin.  It was originally intended to explain why I’d quote someone I do not respect.

My feelings about her run strong and deep.  Saying, “She was not my cup of tea,” would be a serious understatement.  Andrea’s an individual I never met, never would have wished to meet.

Sat down, alone in a room with her when she was still alive, I’d call a safeword within moments.  Yes, it’s really that bad.

You see then, perhaps, why I’m just not comfortable quoting Andrea Dworkin without significant explanation.

A post was necessary to explain the context of her statement.  A disclaimer was needed to assure readers I don’t agree.

porn wars

Andrea is a warrior from the “porn wars” days that I mentioned in my review for The Price of Pleasure.  She’s anything but sex positive.

Seen through her eyes, sex is always about …  Violence.  Oppression.  Rape.

She once wrote that intercourse is a – “Means of physiologically making a woman inferior.”

Wow!

Before learning of Dworkin, I never imagined anyone could make the “religious right” seem tolerant and sex-positive by comparison.  She makes it look easy.

Did I say, “Wow!”?  Yes, I certainly meant it.

I clearly don’t agree with her.  So, I quote Andrea Dworkin, not to give traction to her words.  Instead, they are here for education and discussion.  In order to grapple with a mindset like Andrea’s, we first must examine it.

Yes, there really are people out there who think that sex is violent, oppressive, and never joyful.

I can’t help telling them how wrong they really are.

I’m not a fan of Dworken, which should come as no surprise. She always was, it seems, anything but sex positive. For instance, she once wrote that intercourse is a – “means of physiologically making a woman inferior” – a statement with which I would strongly disagree. I’d argue that intercourse is a means of making a woman physiologically superior, as no man alive is capable of having ten orgasms in a single lovemaking session.

As I’ve alluded to before, in the mindset of spiritual sex, we become God and Goddess incarnate when we make love. Yes, I desire to captivate my partner. I wish to enthrall and engage, excite and delight, and yes, of course, possess her too. But the idea of making her mine isn’t to diminish her in any manner.  Instead, it’s meant to elevate us both!

Michael Samadhi

unpublished essay

Before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it.
You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.
You know, they’re standing there with no clothes.
‘Is everybody okay?’
And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.

Donald Trump

the Donald

Donald Trump’ is another individual I wouldn’t dream of quoting without explanation.

I’ve wanted to post this particular quote for some time.  But, I just couldn’t do so without a note explaining my thoughts on the quotation.

Yes, what the Donald said is despicable.  Deplorable.  Unjustifiable.  Wrong in so very many ways.

With all of that said, if we set aside the revulsion many people feel towards Trump.  If we set aside the non-consensual nature of his peep show behavior.  And, we pretend for just a moment that his behavior wasn’t predatory.

We view his words from a different angle …

What he’s describing is pure voyeurism.

And, it’s also a very good metaphor for the inequalities and injustices of society in the United States.  If a poor person confesses to being a peeping tom, they get a trip to the big house.  They are suddenly registered as a sex offender.

When Donald Trump makes a similar confession, he gets a trip to the White House.  Not fair!

his harem fantasy

Looking at it from yet another perspective, the quote transforms into something different still.

Seen through the eyes of an unrepentant kinkster, without the predatory context, Trump’s recounting is essentially a harem fantasy.

I touched on those briefly while discussing Jean-Léon Gérôme’s exotic art.  It’s a relatively common male fantasy.  Harmless as long as it remains a fantasy.

He’s not a sultan by any means, but Trump did have the resources to purchase a beauty pageant.  That bought him access.  Donald’s one of the few individuals on the planet with the revenue to live out even a portion of the harem fantasy.

Still, it’s despicable that he gave into the temptation to walk into the woman’s changing area.  Deplorable that he acted on the impulse.  Worse still that he bragged about it after the fact.  Obviously, Donald’s behavior was anything but harmless.  

He victimized an entire room of young women.  Bad.  Very bad.

But, as a quote, it was hard to pass up …

Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve seen it all before.

Donald Trump

it’s still Michael’s Way

Hopefully, my friend (if they read this) now realizes that quoting Antoniou or Califia doesn’t make this blog about their way.

Afterall, I found and selected the quotes.

Their messages all have significant meaning to me.  For some of the quotations, that meaning is very profound.

And, in one way or another, they are relevant to my journey.

I often deliberately interpret the quotes, at least in my mind, through the eyes of an unrepentant kinkster.

I’m not always interested in the author’s intent when posting the quotation.  I find my own.

If you are willing to look deep enough, you may also find the quotes are relevant (and have meaning) for your journey too.

Quotation, n: The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.

Ambrose Bierce

The Unabridged Devil's Dictionary

A quotation in a speech, article or book is like a rifle in the hands of an infantryman. It speaks with authority.

Brendan Behan

An apt quotation is like a lamp which flings its light over the whole sentence.

Letitia Elizabeth Landon

When one begins to live by habit and by quotation, one has begun to stop living.

James A. Baldwin

A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.

Dorothy L. Sayers

Gaudy Night

[A] quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business. A.A. Milne

If I May

Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.

Oscar Wilde

Exploring Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Exotic Art

slave auctions, harems, hookahs

art

Jean-Léon Gérôme is not a name I knew.

Not before a few years ago.

I’m no art critic.  Art is not a subject where I’m inherently knowledgeable.

I was a science guy.

I’m the only person to ever graduate from a certain college prep school without a single art class.

Art was a prerequisite for graduation.  Not just a semester, or two.  The requirement was two full years of art classes.

I was inherently strong in the natural sciences.  A perfect ACT score on that subject.

So the art requirement was waived.  Not at my request.  I wanted the art classes.

The school, however, wanted me taking science.

Slave Market in Rome by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Harem Pool by Jean-Léon Gérôme

The influential French writer Émile Zola famously remarked that there wasn’t a living room in France that didn’t have an engraving or print by Gérôme during the late 19th century. Michael Brand

Director, J. Paul Getty Museum

art of the odalisque

A gentleman named Tanos, a well-known figure in the BDSM community, initially turned me onto Gérôme.

I don’t know him personally.  Tanos hails from across the pond in England.  But, going back for 20 years, he’s developed websites on some serious BDSM related topics.

I’ve read his writing on a concept called ‘Internal Enslavement‘.  Ideas there influenced my own thinking about M/s relationships.

He also has a serious interest in odalisques.

Perhaps you don’t know what an odalisque is?  Neither did I before I first ran across an entire website centered around the concept.

On Odalisques.com, Tanos says:

This site explores the imagined world of the Near East, especially of Ottoman Turkey and Egypt, created by mostly western painters and writers and centered on the figure of the odalisque – a female slave in a harem, trained to serve her Master’s pleasure, and assigned to sexual rather than domestic duties. Rather than a faithful record of these Near Eastern cultures, it was a deep and penetrating reflection of often unacknowledged desires in Western audiences connecting sex, power and sensual pleasures.

 

This Odalisquian world has many elements which we would now identify with BDSM, especially D/s, M/s or O&P relationships, and this appreciation of Odalisquian imagery lives on within the modern BDSM scene.

Phryne before the Areopagus by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Venus Rising by Jean-Léon Gérôme 

I really enjoy the fantasy.  I also have a great appreciation of odalisquian imagery.

Obviously then, it was on Tanos’ site devoted to female harem slaves that I discovered the art of Jean-Léon Gérôme.

Selling Slaves in Rome by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Jean-Léon Gérôme the man

I’m told that Gérôme was a French painter and sculptor who lived from 1824 until 1904.

Born in Vesoul, a modest size town in eastern France, not far from the Swiss and German borders.  He died in Paris.

Jean-Léon was a very prominent figure in the art movement known as academicism.

I could try and explain what that means, but folks who have had an art appreciation course already know better than myself.

From my research, I know that a vase he painted was offered to Prince Albert by Emperor Napoleon III.

I assume that sort of gift not only honors the recipient, but also the artist.

The vase hasn’t been discarded by any means.  It’s now a part of the Royal Collection at St. James’s Palace in London.

I also understand that Jean-Léon Gérôme’s influence extended far beyond his own work.

A good number of students, from his time teaching at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts, rose to prominence on their own merits.

Orientalism

In 1856, Gérôme visited Egypt for the first time.  This trip became a major influence.

Hereafter, one of the important artistic styles he adopted was Orientalism.

Individuals with a simple art appreciation course under their belts can probably explain that style better than I.

It’s said, at least in some art circles, that Jean-Léon Gérôme’s greatest works are from his Orientalist period.

That’s also the area where Tanos’ interests seem to intersect with the artist’s.

Mine too.

Gérôme created many paintings that I most of them displayed here.

While not all of them had an Eastern influence, I would tend to agree about the period of his greatest creations – Orientalism.

To my eye, his best erotic masterpieces are depictions of harems.

I have to add, I’m also quite struck by his portraits of slave girls on the auction block.

As I’ve already pointed out, I’m no art critic.  I have no formal training in understanding or appreciating art.

I’m just a man who knows what he likes.

I get the feeling that Mr. Gérôme certainly knew what he liked too.

Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Femme nue (Nude Woman) by Jean-Léon Gérôme

The Dance Of The Almeh by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Grande Piscine de Brousse by Jean-Léon Gérôme

I hate imitators, people who put works together out of older works, these men are blind unless they are looking with someone else’s eyes, and who produce only the mistakes of the master they draw from. These, one doesn’t even want to talk about; one must simply call them ‘Eunuchs’. Jean-Léon Gérôme

Allumeuse de Narghilé (The Teaser of the Narghile) by Jean-Léon Gérôme

do not misunderstand

For folks who might be reading this that don’t already understand BDSM.

Or harem fantasies.

Or, who are perhaps horrified that an individual like myself might enjoy the spectacle of a slave auction?

It can’t be stressed strongly enough that everything I do is 100%, without question, totally consensual.

I only do what I do with the willing.

I also cannot stress this point strongly enough — I find no excitement in the specter of real life human trafficking.

It’s difficult for me to watch television shows, or movies, that include women being trafficked as sex slaves.

Those kinds of themes upset my delicate sensibilities.

The mere thought is absolutely abhorrent to me.

Slave Market (or For Sale) by Jean-Léon Gérôme

The Serpent Charmer by Jean-Léon Gérôme

 

When you draw, form is the important thing. But in painting the first thing is to look for the general impression of color … Always paint a direct sketch from nature every day.

Jean-Léon Gérôme

it’s fantasy (a good one)

On the other hand …

The fantasy of having a slave auction involving consensual slaves who are willingly put on the auction block – that’s hot!

Fantasy.

Consensual.

Willing.

Under those conditions …

Hot.

Don’t believe me?

Ask Laura Antoniou.

Laura’s Marketplace series of books is based entirely on the fantasy of slaves being trained for service.

Having dreamed of willingly, even enthusiastically, puting themselves on the auction block.

In the Marketplace, slaves are valued quite highly.

But their terms of service are not unlike a strict business contract.

Albeit, a contract with corporal, rather than corporate, punishment.

To my mind, Antoniou is by far the most successful BDSM author of my generation.

By success, I mean greatness.

In the end, however, it’s all a fantasy.

An excellent one.

Very Hot.

But, just a fantasy.

Achat D’Une Esclave (Purchase Of A Slave) by Jean-Léon Gérôme

A Bath Woman Bathing Her Feet  – Harem Pool by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Moorish Bath by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Jean-Léon Gérôme – kinkster?

For reasons already explained, I can’t speak intelligently about Gérôme in terms of art criticism.

Understanding and analyzing fine art isn’t part of my personal skill set.

I am who I am.

My knowledge is concentrated around the interests I’ve decided to pursue.

But I do know kink.  I know it well.

I understand people with a kinky bent.

Folks with fetishes.  Perversions.

In Jean-Léon Gérôme I sense a kindred spirit.

Jean-Léon certainly had a great appreciation for the feminine form.

His portrayals of women are beautiful. Sometimes stunning.

an artist’s fetishes

I get the feeling Gérôme has more than a little fetish for bathing women.

That particular subject is revisited time and again in his work.

How advantageous must it have been to be a renowned artist?

“Hello, my name is Jean-Léon Gérôme.  Yes, the celebrated artist.”

“I need access to your harems, and private baths, so that I might record their majesty for posterity … “

Obviously, something like that worked for Jean-Léon.  He accessed locations entirely forbidden to most men.

Gérôme’s also repeatedly chooses slave auction themes for his paintings.  Those subjects cross multiple cultures and eras.

With that in mind, it’s not hard for me to believe Jean-Léon had some sort of slave auction fantasy at work.

El rey Candaules by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Bathsheba by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Bathing Scene by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Working in Marble by Jean-Léon Gérôme

The End of the Sitting by The End of the Sitting

Gérôme’s success brought academic painting to an artistic pinnacle—having an immeasurable impact on future generations of artists as well as to the new mass entertainments of the 20th-century, especially film. Michael Brand

Director, J. Paul Getty Museum

Pygmalion and seraglios

There is no escaping Jean-Léon Gérôme’s love of the harem as subject matter for his paintings.

Called the seraglio, serail, or zenana in some cultures; harems are a specialized form of women’s quarters.

Considered a sacred inviolable place, harems house a man’s concubines (and wives) away from the gaze and desires of other men.

As I said before, I will always be astounded at Jean-Léon’s continual ability to access such private areas for his work.

It must be a great honor to be invited for a glimpse of an empty harem bath, let alone to be allowed to stay and paint.

For men, having a harem, or some sort of facsimile, is a relatively common fantasy.

It’s also one of those things that are easier said than done.

Even if it were possible to build a harem in this modern day; it would be a rare man with the money, power, and appetites necessary to keep it in place.

Still, it’s another nice fantasy.  And, it’s one I have to believe I share with Jean-Léon.

statues come to life

Here was an individual who worked as both a painter and a sculptor.  In combining his love for both mediums, Gérôme returned time and time again to a classic tale from mythology.

Pygmalion.

It’s a story with some serious legs.

Dating back to Greek mythology, told most famously in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, it’s been portrayed in a variety of forms.

For instance, Disney’s Pinocchio is little more than a bowdlerized and embellished retelling of Pygmalion.

Disney couldn’t have a sculptor feeling romantic love for his work in a G-rated movie for kids.  (We were thankfully spared that kind of romance for an inanimate object until Andrew McCarthy in Mannequin.)

So, Pygmalion morphed into Mister Geppetto.  Romantic love for a statue was switched off in favor of fatherly love for a puppet.

It’s a sweet story either way.  And it’s a story that clearly fascinated Jean-Léon Gérôme.

Was he fascinated to the point of fetishizing statues? Perhaps his dream was a harem of statues coming to life?

Those questions will likely remain forever unanswered.

narghiles and hookahs oh my

Jean-Léon was a 19th-century man with more than enough fetishes to flesh out a FetLife profile.

With as many seeming fetish interests as I’ve already covered, I can see one more potential kinky interest for our friend, Jean-Léon Gérôme.

It certainly could be argued, from the frequent appearance of hookahs in his paintings, that the renowned French artist may have had a touch of a smoking fetish.

Granted, narghiles are relatively common in a good number of Orientalist paintings.

Certainly, the appearance of a hookah immediately identifies a painting as portraying a scene from the East.

Perhaps Gérôme was intrigued by the culture surrounding drugs like hashish?

Perhaps he was enthralled with seeing beautiful harem ladies smoking?

I’ll never know for sure.  But, it’s just one more potential kink to add to Jean-Léon’s list. 

La Vérité sortant du puits by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Corinth by Jean-Léon Gérôme — tinted marble, colored marble, gilt bronze, enamel, and semiprecious stones.

Moorish Bath by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Almeh by Jean-Léon Gérôme

The Slave For Sale by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Jean-Léon Gérôme

Jean-Léon Gérôme

As a very unorthodox academic painter, Gérôme knew how to represent history as a dramatic spectacle and, by creating particularly convincing images, could make the spectator an eyewitness to events ranging from Classical antiquity to his own times.

Musée d'Orsay

fetish photographer?

I have to think, that in today’s day and age, Jean-Léon Gérôme’s primary profession would be fetish photography.

Of course, that’s pure supposition.

But, it seems to be a fairly well-educated guess.

During his lifetime, Gérôme expressed admiration for, and great confidence in, the photographic medium.

Although it was in relative infancy at the end of Jean-Léon’s life, he envisioned photography completely overtaking his style of realistic painting.

He was quite correct on that point.

It would be perfectly natural for a man of Jean-Léon Gérôme’s talents to adopt the photographic arts.

Fetish photography would well suit his artistic eye.

And, it would give him potential access to the secret places that exist in the modern world.

After all, the man would have to fulfill all those fetishes somehow.

So, I see a modern day Jean-Léon Gérôme as something like a supercharged Eric Kroll.

However, I’m not sure that working exclusively thru the lens of a camera would be enough to satisfy a man like Gérôme.

A man with so many talents.

He would need more.

I think a good secondary avocation, for a modern day Jean-Léon, would be producing exquisite sculptures of exotic subjects.

Some things never change …

Socrates seeking Alcibiades in the House of Aspasia by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Getting Inside Deep Throat

dinner and a pair of movies?

Helen: Mind if I smoke, while you’re eating?
Man: No, not at all.

Deep Throat (1972)

finding Deep Throat

It’s said that Deep Throat made pornography what it is today.  That it changed the nature of pornographic sex, from art to money.

I can’t say if that’s true from personal knowledge.  The movie was ever so slightly before my time.

When Deep Throat was originally released, I was 9 years old.  I was a precocious lad.  But, not quite that precocious …

I do remember hearing Deep Throat jokes and innuendos on late night television.  I asked my Dad to explain them.  He didn’t.

Dad was usually pretty straightforward with me.  Not this time.

It only made me work harder to find out what the movie was about.

I found out …

Linda: Suppose your balls were in your ear?
Dr. Young: [pause] Well, then I could hear myself coming!

Deep Throat (1972)

Linda: It makes me feel tingly all over and then nothing… There should be bells ringing, dams busting, bombs going off.
Helen: Do you wanna get off or do you wanna wreck a city?

Deep Throat (1972)

renting Deep Throat

I did get to finally see Deep Throat when I was 22.

It was available from a back room – not much more than a walk-in closet really – at the local gas station/video rental store.  Believe it or not, that was the “classy” option to rent pornography in Rock Island, Illinois, back in 1985.

One Friday night, a friend from my school days rented some movies from the infamous “back room”.

I bought the beer.

Perhaps it was the other way around.  That part is a little bit fuzzy.  Beer will do that to you.

That night, and over the next few weekends, we planned to tour the “Golden Age of Porn”.

That era, from 1969 to 1984, hadn’t been given any particular moniker as of 1985.  But, my friend was a serious porn connoisseur.

My school buddy intended to introduce me to all the films he considered to be the “classics”.

In case you were wondering, for the first night he picked out four films: The Devil in Miss JonesInsatiable, Behind the Green Door, and Deep Throat.

It was a long night …

Wilbur Wang: [on the telephone with Dr. Young] You gotta help me. I’m in love with Linda. We want to get married… thank you. There’s only one problem – she needs a nine-inch cock.

Deep Throat (1972)

It led to the porno business. Linda Lovelace and Deep Throat turned it into an industry. And like it or hate it, that’s what she’s going to be remembered for, forever.

John Waters

watching Deep Throat

In the event that you aren’t familiar with the movie, the concept is simple.  Linda Lovelace’s clitoris is not located in the normal position.

Instead, her clit is found to be nine inches deep in her throat.

What I remember most about the movie was the cheesy attempts at comedy.  All the bad puns.  The horrid use of cliches.

I watched it again last night, just to refresh my memory.  Time hasn’t been especially kind to this sort of skin flick.  It looks, sounds, and feels dated.  But, it was still rather enjoyable.

The attempts at comedy seem even more dated in 2017 than they felt in 1985.  I guess that should come as no great surprise.

Still, it’s nice to see porn acted in a camp style.  Certainly, not every adult film should be a comedy.  But, that doesn’t mean comedy can’t be fit into an erotic film.

I should also note my belief that the comedic elements are what likely allowed Deep Throat to have such wide appeal.

Laughing at the cheesy jokes served to relieve the uncomfortable sexual tension that can happen when groups watch strong sexual content.

I also think that being a comedy greatly helped Deep Throat become a media sensation.

Comedians (like Johnny Carson) and TV shows (like Sanford and Son) probably felt comfortable poking fun at the movie because Deep Throat was itself a form of comedy.

At least, that’s my theory.

Linda’s special skill

Overall, the sex scenes are not too bad.  Some are fun, some are erotic, some are silly.

It’s not especially well acted.  What porn is?

The sex seems authentic.  For the most part, everyone seems to enjoy themselves.

And yes, I have to say it …

Linda Lovelace is a real sword swallower.

Quite obviously, the movie was built around, not to mention named after, her special skill.  The entire plot is built on finding ways to show that skill off.

She can take a long dick all the way down into her throat as well as anyone.  Very impressive.  In a different time, she might have worked in a circus as a sword swallower.

When people talk about the movie, they talk about Linda. 

Harry Reems plays Dr. Young with a camp style that makes him the second star of the movie.  It had to be great fun to play that role.

Perhaps I should say that Harry’s cock is the movie’s second star.

While he actually appeared in some mainstream movies, his prolific porn career certainly seems to be as much about his equipment as his acting.

The movie became ‘pornographic chic’ in New York before it was busted. Mike Nichols told Truman Capote he shouldn’t miss it, and then the word just sort of got around: This is the first stag film to see with a date.

Roger Ebert

I defended Harry Reems because Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty did. That’s that basis of all my decisions, what those guys do, both then and now.

Dick Cavett

Inside Deep Throat

My first observation is that the use of Dennis Hopper as narrator for this documentary is a plus.  I’m a fan.

But, I wonder if perhaps they were paying him by the word.  It seems his interspersed comments are pretty sparse.

Looking back at that decade, the news clips etc., it does bring back memories.

Nixon was ugly, not just physically.

The feline with the mustache named Hitler was, however, quite cute. And, Harry Reems is still an awesome porn name.

Watching a simple adult movie cause such controversy is a little unsettling.

Seeing the FBI get involved is more than just unsettling.

I’m (obviously) a free speech advocate, so seeing the government charge everyone on down to projectionists with some kind of crime is anything but a hoot.

The government in my bedroom is bad enough, but seeing the mob get involved is scarier still. One theater owner refused to pay his cut, his movie house burnt down.  Or, so the story goes.

Creepiest of all is Larry Parrish, a former federal prosecutor from Memphis.  His obvious zeal to impose his extreme Christian morality on everyone is very disturbing.

Belay that …

feminists and Lovelace

Creepiest of all is Linda Lovelace on stage, with feminists clinging to her.  Claiming to have been a hostage throughout the whole thing.

It’s rather difficult to accept her assertion that, “Everyone that watches Deep Throat is watching me being raped.”

I’m not sure what to make of that.

Individuals involved with the making of Deep Throat insist that Linda was a very willing performer.

Yet, more than her share of bruises are evident in watching the film.

To my eyes, that might be a good metaphor for the entire Deep Throat, aka “porn chic”, era.

Law enforcement and prosecutors were, no doubt, abusive to an entire industry.  It’s possible that stars like Linda were themselves abused.

Then there’s the mob, and their influence in the making and distributing the film.

Deep Throat was a very special film that had a unique influence on society.  It seems like it ushered in a magical time for porn, when anything was possible.

Unless you look in the shadows, that is.  Perhaps the picture isn’t so pretty there …

At one point, Deep Throat was banned in 23 states.

Inside Deep Throat (2005)

In the beginning, Gerard Damiano was a hairdresser. Listening to his clients talk about sex, which in his salon was apparently all they talked about, he realized that pornography had crossover appeal. All you had to do was advertise a movie in such a way that couples would come, instead of only the raincoat brigade. With a budget of $25,000 and an actress named Linda Lovelace, he made “Deep Throat” (1972), which inspired a national censorship battle, did indeed attract couples and grossed $600 million, making it the most profitable movie of all time.

Roger Ebert

Deep Throat bullet points

  • 2002 Hollywood released 467 films. 11,303 adult films were released that year.
  • The obscenity laws used to prosecute Deep Throat’s makers remain unchanged when the documentary was made.
  • It was one of the first hardcore sex films to be shown in mainstream movie theaters.
  • Deep Throat was chosen as one of 100 landmark films of all time in the new “Radio Times Guide to Films 2007”.  The list was selected by the magazine’s film reviewers and staff. Radio Times’ editor Andrew Collins justified the selection by saying their list is not about cinematic quality, but more about the influence a film had on society. “Deep Throat is not necessarily recommended for everyone.  It’s a quite badly made film, but to deny its influence would be pure snobbery,” Collins said.
  • Deep Throat is a landmark pornographic film that launched the brief “porno chic” movement in the `70s.  During this time it became fashionable for couples to attend porn films like Behind The Green Door, Debbie Does Dallas and The Devil In Miss Jones.
  • Celebrities like Johnny Carson, Jack Nicholson, and Barbara Waters admitted to attending adult films during the porno chic era.
  • Filmed in only 6 days, with a total budget of $22,000.
  • As of 2002, it was reported to have grossed $600 million.

Deep Throat forged the sexual revolution, for good or bad.

Larry Flynt

THE END and deep throat to you all!