11 July 2011

Book Review: Taschen's The New Erotic Photography

This is a book that's been vaguely on my shopping list for ages, although it always got ousted by others... perhaps compilations somehow don't seem as focused, but I needn't have worried - rather, am now kicking myself for not getting it sooner. I felt a little sorry for the postman, carrying this large book to my door - approx 32x24cm, with 6 or 8 pages each from over 50 photographers, so over 400 pages; it could even be imposing... if it weren't for Maki Miyashita's (um, perhaps not actually hers?) floral panties hung out to dry on the cover.

Edited by Dian Hanson - formerly editor of Leg Show magazine, now Taschen's sexy books editor (however you wish to parenthesise those last three words) - and fetish photographer Eric Kroll, this is (as the title suggests) a showcase of erotic photography, with submissions from a few photographers familiar to me, and a great deal hitherto unknown ones. Far too many great photos to mention them all, but some of the highlights for me were:
  • My two favourite Japanese photographers - Yasuji Watanabe's modern, contemporary work, and Ken-ichi Murata's gothic - and rather pervy - hand-tinted fairy tales;
  • along with newer photographer Maki Miyashita, whose studies of women in their underwear I found interesting and witty
  • The way that German photographer Markus Amon captures the smouldering eyes of his models (although the nylon and sheer underwear helps too)
  • Susan Egan's very candid pictures of real couples having sex
  • The deservedly popular Steve Diet Goedde being less fetishy than usual - the lovely Emily Marilyn doesn't have a stitch (not even latex) on her
  • A few trademark-style motel-fetish, neo-noir pics from one favourite photographers, Chas Ray Krider
  • Richard Kern's quirky, humourous, documentary-style shots of young, tomboy-ish (as he describes them) women; and Dave Naz's similarly stripped-down, natural girls
  • In contrast, Florian Lohmann reminds me that there's still very much a place in my, er, heart? for ultra glam, styled shots (especially near-naked stewardesses and French maids)
  • Nicola Ranaldi's very erotic close-ups of faces, with lustful looks and a finger slipped between lips
  • And back to Japan for some pics from Joan Sinclair's Pink Box, a documentary book on Tokyo sex clubs - very enlightening, that I shall review sometime.
Given how good - and more to the point, how exciting - the photography is, I almost don't want to admit that the text nearly tore me away from it - there are some genuine insights both in the editors' introductions, and the introduction to each photographer's work. I suspect  the intros were prompted by some standard questions, since there are a couple of themes that keep cropping up. One is the relative merits of film vs digital; opinions are divided, from Bob Coulter's 'Anyone who prefers film at this point is retarded' to Ken-ichi Murata's 'I work only with film because it is the height of quality' - personally, I don't see a distinction, especially to look at eg Will Santillo's grainy, atmospheric images and then read that he uses digital. I guess it's more down to the way the photographer wants to work; the immediate feedback of digital vs having to think and prepare more with film.

More interesting is the concept of the difference between porn and erotica; for me, I do see a distinction, but also think that there's no hard and fast line between them, and I enjoy material that's one, the other and in between - but again, there are some very different views here. Some photographers see porn as a line that they don't cross; Lisa Boyle feels it's any kind of penetration; Didier Carre suggests that in porn, men don't love the models in the way he does as a photographer. Petter Hegre implies very subjectively that visually they could be very similar, but differing in the intention with which the pictures are taken. Photographers like Ed Fox, Dave Naz and Richard Kern - who often shoot for top-shelf magazines - see less of a distinction, the latter saying 'I don't consider myself an erotic photographer and I hate that term - It brings to mind black and white photos of naked people with oil on them'.

Although I appreciate and enjoy the work of all the photographers here, ideologically I'm with that last trio; there doesn't have to be a distinction. If there is one, though, I think Ms Hanson has nailed it in her introduction: 'First, toss out all the bodyscapes' ... 'More important, it must capture some genuine emotion on the model's face'. And, pre-empting balancing my focus here on the photographers, 'If it sounds like I think erotic photography is as much about the model as the photographer, I've made myself clear'.

Anyway, for all that prose, this is a great book of exciting, arousing, thought-provoking pictures, and is thoroughly recommended - a steal at about £15! You can see more pics through Taschen's video of the editors discussing the book.

6 July 2011

Richard Kern - then, now(ish) and somewhere in between

I'm quite a fan of photographer (and sometime underground filmmaker) Richard Kern - he seems to have a sense of humour, and I like his almost documentary-style of shooting, sometimes capturing his models in the oddest of poses. His Taschen book is a favourite, and needs reviewing here sometime soon; and suspect I will join his New Nude City site sometime too. Meantime, a few clips:

Firstly, this interview from 1986, in which he's a bit laconic, and arguably (sorry Richard, I am a big fan, really) a little pretentious:

In total contrast to this video (click on the image to see it @ Taschen), in which he's far more personable and amusing :)

Finally, I chanced upon this from King Missile; if you have a song called Detachable Penis, who better than Richard Kern to direct the video for you?

1 July 2011

Retro Lovely Magazine

Been meaning to post about this wonderful new magazine for a while; it's the least I can do given that, along with Alt Exclusive, they have apparently designed it just for me :)

With issue #6 imminent, Retro Lovely has fairly quickly settled into a style of showcasing the best pinup photography; features largely focusing on photographers rather than models. It's an approach that works well for me; I do like to follow some of the more well-known models such as the Mosh (as regular readers may have noticed), Masuimi Max and Angela Ryan - all favourites who you see on these covers; but just as much, I appreciate the style of individual photographers, and it's good to discover new ones.

Regular photographers include Robert Alvarado's very glossy, very classic and glamorous style; Mitzi & Co's cheekier retro look; Roy Varga's hotrod-inspired work; and the wonderful, inimitable Viva Van Story who has almost redefined and updated the concept of pinup photography. There's also a regular look at community site PinupLifestyle.com, and more great photos from it's creator, Edson Carlos.

There's also a good mix of models; well-known as mentioned above, and those new to me, who perhaps we wouldn't see anywhere else. Highlights from #4 and #5 include the ever-lovely Jade Vixen, shot in pink retro underwear by Gary Heller; Celeste Giuliano's Jessica Rabbit look for Samantha SamSam; Viva's shots of Tali De Mar; DC Imagery's Notorious Ang; bob-haired Staci Louise by Girlie Show, and Vestige Photography's great pics of Kitty Kosmo - who I'd so love to see more of (however you care to interpret that). There are just too many great artists to list, but one more special mention to Mitzi & Co's shot of Angela Ryan - who, despite being fully dressed by Heartbreaker, looks ever, ever so naughty. And of course, no pinup-related post can be complete without another mention of Mosh - who had the cover and a photo feature feature by Redrum Collaboration  in #2, along with a great interview.

The printing also does the material justice; perfect-bound thick, glossy, almost book-quality paper more than justifies the $15 price - although be sure to get new issues as they come out; older ones get pricier as they become scarce! But the price is very reasonable; a magazine like this is not cheap to produce, and each issue certainly deserves its place among my largely hardback racy book collection.

I can only think of two possible shortcomings of Retro Lovely, and those are really just for the sake of argument. Firstly, that there is very little editorial; an intro, perhaps a couple of short interviews, but each issue is pretty much entirely devoted to showcasing the models and photographers... but I'm guessing that like me, most folk are just there to look at the pictures :) The second is that it's not as racy as I'd like - there's no nudity, but everything looks so good, and the models so alluring, that it hardly matters... and besides, this is addressed in Retro Lovely Taboo Edition - which qualifies for a separate, forthcoming, post!

Although I can't claim to have seen every example of the genre, I'm fairly confident that Retro Lovely is the best pinup magazine there is; everything about it is spot-on. Fans of pinup and glamour will love the photography, and the tactile pleasure of leafing through each issue. Recommended; visit Retro Lovely.

28 June 2011

Chinese nylon fetishism @ ROSI.CC

Here's an interesting find from my online travels; a Chinese nylon themed photo site. ROSI.CC is in Chinese only, but via the decreasingly dubious (it's definitely getting better) merits of Google translation, we can determine a little about it - starting with the name of the photographer, Zhang Jing.

Actually, this isn't quite as unusual a site as you might imagine; there are a few Chinese glamour (those I've seen so far are too tame to be really labelled as smut) sites around, such as MetCN (being a blatant play on Met Art) and particularly Beautyleg and TPImage, which go with a similar underwear and nylons theme.

ROSI stands out in a couple of aspects. First, it's free, requiring no subscription - the sets, of are distributed on a couple of Chinese file sharing sites, and free to download. Note that as well as having to find your way around in Chinese, the files are password-protected - use simply www.rosi.cc - and one of the hosts takes exception to a number of the sets, I think finding them too racy. But if you're a nylon enthusiast, these barriers are mere trifles.

The other aspect of this site is the quality of the photography itself. As with some other Chinese sites, we unfortunately don't usually get to see the faces of the lovely (if those incredible, flawless, figures are anything to go by) models; I assume racy modelling isn't really the done thing to be seen to do in China... and/or insert your own Russian reversal-type gag (in Communist China, photo hangs you out to dry in dark room! etc). I don't usually go for faceless pictures, but Mr Jing more than makes the most of it; using overexposure, creative angles and strong bokeh to fetishise various body parts - and, of course, the clothing. There is a varied selection of nylons - tights, stockings, fishnet body stockings - that we often get to see slid down teasingly over thighs, peeled from feet and slick and shiny from the shower; and more often than not, some equally appealing underwear beneath.

The caveat is that it's all technically fairly tame; there's no actual explicit nudity short of the odd hint of pubic hair - but the style and anonymity of it seems to make up for it and enhance the fetish aspect. It's still not quite as racy or erotic as I'd like to see, given the standard of the clothing, models and locations; but it has definitely raised the bar for me from the generic photography I've seen from China so far. Well worth a visit, and keeping an eye on. Visit ROSI.CC.

22 June 2011

Cabaret Desire - new trailer from Lust Films

Via her blog, I've just found this trailer for Lust Films' new Cabaret Desire:

I'm rather fond of Ms Lust; as well as being ever, ever so pretty; she's always hugely cheerful on her blog and on twitter - greeting the world with a sunny good morning from Barcelona. I also like her approach to racy films; arguably feminist porn, with an emphasis on story and eroticism rather than just skin (although luckily there's plenty of that too)... but I don't want to pigeon-hole or label it - if for no other reason that it might appear unmanly to be so excited by it!

The only thing that makes me go hmmm in the clip is the appearance of a vajazzled actress - a baffling phenomenon that does little for me... but I'm sure it won't detract from enjoyment of the film :) Oh, and there's also a making of:

19 June 2011

My new favourite eBay seller: Naughty Nostalgia

My eBay find of the year so far has been 'Legs that Dance to Elmer's Tune' - Taschen's book of Elmer Batters' work, long out of print (Taschen books don't seem to sell long before becoming hard to find). More about the book in a subsequent review, but I will say that it was received, mint as described, from eBay seller Naughty Nostalgia.

I'm quite keen on retro smut. Before the Scandinavian porn of the 70s and later, 50's and 60's racy material was rather tamer than we're used to now. I'm certainly not averse to the more explicit - but with a little imagination, you can put yourself in the mindset of the time; where such stuff would have been considered more illicit than some more graphic porn is today.

Anyway, head over to Naughty Nostalgia's store, where there are some great 50s and 60s magazines for sale, previews of which are just about in keeping with eBay's prudish guidelines :) Expect lots of stockings, retro bras, miniskirts and boots - which can only be a good thing - and some appalling decor.

10 June 2011

Japanese Erotic Photography

I have kind of a love-hate relationship with Japanese smut; on one hand, I think Japanese girls can be stunning and very alluring; on the other, I find very little material that really does their qualities justice. Well, at least as much as we get to see in the west. We get the Gravure idols - beautiful girls shot in various flowery bikinis and the like, beaming at the camera... but despite the perfection of their figures and the revealing nature of their attire, still rather lacking any erotic quality. Then there's the more typical Japanese porn; where the girls (often, seemingly, the same ones as above) seem to get thoroughly seen-to in various ways, and often by multiple guys... I can see the appeal of that too, but I don't really share it.

There seems little middle ground, of creative, inspired and arousing work. There are some notable exceptions, though, and although I don't know enough of them, here are 3 that I do.

I have two of Ken-Ichi Murata's 3 'Princess' books, published by Edition Reuss. His work is unique; hand-coloured, black and white photographs of girls in gothic, fairy-tale situations. It's arguably conceptually similar to John Santerineross; but not quite as dark, and the extra colour - and explicitness - that Murata-san applies makes it more erotic than just art for art's sake.

Also by Edition Reuss is Yasuji Watanabe's Tokyo Girls - a favourite collection of more urban, contemporary photography, ranging from candids, to surreal. Again unique, although this is exactly the level of eroticism that I wish I could see more of from Japan.

And finally, via Taschen's New Erotic Photography, I've recently discovered Maki Miyashita; she's not as focused on eroticism, but as well as gracing the cover, she has some great studies of girls in the disarray of their own rooms; certainly not derivative, but perhaps a Japanese counterpart to Peter Gorman's.

Anyway, it's good to see that it's not all just kawaii girls and orgies in Japan - not that there's anything wrong, per se, with either of those ;) Some writeups of the above books will follow, meantime I'm glad to be following these three very different photographers on Twitter; although I can't read their tweets, links and pictures need little translation!

5 June 2011

Site review: Breath Takers

Breath-Takers is one of a couple of sites featuring the work of UK photographer Michael White. I'll admit that, as with some other sites I've tried, I wasn't quite sure what to make of it, but it was bumped up my list a couple of places by a recent price reduction - but I needn't have worried, since there's some great, fun and sexy photography here.

It's hard to know quite where to slot it; the photography is perhaps a little arty, with frequent bokeh and emphasis on natural light; but I wouldn't call it art-nude (which, at least for me, would make it rather a turn-off if it were). This is, in no small part, down to the emphasis of clothing (and removal thereof) here... art-nudes tend to be just that - nudes; whereas at Breath Takers, many of the photo sets start with a fully dressed model, and follow her teasing the viewer by gradually disrobing. It's made more believable by the fact that the models actually wear appealing clothes; the kind they might actually wear themselves; and similarly underneath we get to see a great variety of sophisticated, sexy lingerie and nylons.

And of course, clad in these are some lovely models; leaning towards UK, but you'll also find French, east European and US girls. There are some well-known models, such as the (deservedly) ubiquitous Ariel and Eufrat; some lovely French models; and some others who I suspect may not be found anywhere else. Particular favourites for me were the very petite, but oh-so-sexy Ayla Sky; the elegant and naughty Joceline Brooke-Hamilton; pinup and fetish model Anita De Bauch; charming and very racy starlet Samantha Bentley; and oh-my-gosh-those-legs Danielle Maye.

The levels of explicitness vary by model here; the majority of sets end up with full nudity but within that, some models are a little coy (you know full-well what I mean) whereas others are less so, and some recent photos and videos are very racy, with some masturbation - which is welcome and adds more to the mix, I appreciate eroticism from the subtle to the not so.

Locations are also good; many photos are within a light, airy, tastefully decorated house, which the photographer makes good use of all rooms of; there are also plenty of other locations, including European villas. Some are outdoor-themed, such as walks in the park with a little teasing; sometimes these are a bit more risqué but I'd love to have seen a few more so! And I like that there's often a theme or narrative of some sort; such as a sexy phone call, reading a magazine or domestic chores - it's all the more fuel for the imagination as you browse.

Technically the site is good too; pics are 3K-5K pixels and videos 720p. There are a few navigation oddities, but it does have a good update shcedule, with 3 galleries and one video per week. And with a few years' material here, it's also easy to see the progression of the photographer; some earlier galleries are too shadowy, perhaps a bit too moody; but later ones are better lit, but still relying on natural light, and not at the expense of the erotic atmosphere.

So although it has a completely different feel to it, it's positioned similarly to Petites Parisiennes, and there are actually a few of the same models on both sites. It doesn't quite meet my one unique quality of PP, which is that there I found something I liked from literally every model; and it's perhaps not quite as sexy - but it's close, and different enough to be complementary rather than competing. Recommended, and I shall return!

Visit Breath Takers - or click on any of the pics for some sample galleries!

2 June 2011

June at Petites Parisiennes - including a hefty price drop

We all know how fond I am of Petites Parisiennes - it's my favourite destination for racy pictures and videos; it's both characteristically French and sophisticated, and uniquely arousing - far more so than most art nude sites. This month we have two new models to look forward to: Erika, a beautiful French blonde model; and I'm particularly keen to see Nina (aka Miss Ting) whose work I've really liked elsewhere, she seems to have a lot of creative input into her shoots.

I'm also glad to see two 25+ models there this month (27 and 28 in this case); the web seems awash nude photography sites featuring an endless array of stunning, perfect, east European girls (if I ever visit the Czech Republic, I suspect I shall be ogling more than just the historic aspects) in the 18-23 bracket. But, lovely as they are, they don't quite have the allure - although this is also down to the strangely somehow explicit-but-sexless way in which they are shot.

Anyway, no such problem at PP; photographer Jam has an eye for atmosphere and arousal. And as if that weren't enough, at the moment, there is a huge 50% off - $15 is shockingly low price for the amount and quality of exciting stuff on offer here. Visit Petites Parisiennes.

30 May 2011

Editions Ragage RIP? My to-read list remains squarely German

Some unfortunate publisher news - Jam from Petites Parisiennes has confirmed that French publisher Editions Ragage has gone out of business. (Oh, and of course - I learned this the hard way, but although their site is still accepting orders, it's not a good idea to place one!) This is a shame; they have an original catalogue of really cute and sexy photobooks, and I've discovered a few great photographers just from browsing (they also have fiction and other writing, for those better-equipped with French than I am). French smut has a unique quality that's very exciting - still glamourous, but much more sexy and arousing than arty material.

I really hope that somebody buys the business and rescues it - although there are so many good photographers and models that we can discover online, there's a tactile, illicit quality to owning and browsing a racy book that can't be beaten. And this leaves the market even more dominated by German publishers... and as if to prove that point, various finds and pre-orders have come to fruition, leaving me with the following four new books from Taschen, Edition Skylight (actually Swiss) and Goliath to set aside time to, er, read. Expect reviews sometime, although I still haven't decided the order to enjoy them.

24 May 2011

eBook review: Quickies In New York, Stories: Winter to Spring

Bit of a departure here, given my habit for erotic photo books. I enjoy physical books; the tactile sensation of turning the pages, not knowing quite what I'll find on the next - it's somehow more of an illicit thrill than looking online. And similarly, I'm usually lowbrow enough just to get books for the pictures; although I know there is a lot of really good erotic fiction around, there's some part of me that can't shake the bodice-ripping stereotype. (Notwithstanding, I have a very good friend who assures me that some recent Mills & Boons are decidedly racy.)

So it's strange to be writing about an ebook of erotic prose... but I'll confess to cheating a bit. This blog isn't intended to be a reference to all things erotic; merely some reviews of things that specifically appeal to the reviewer. And before accepting Guy New York's offer of a review copy, I knew that I'd enjoy it, having previously noted my feelings for the wonderful Quickies in New York blog.

This isn't erotic writing as you'd imagine it; I'm unsure - and unfussed - as to how fictional it may or may not be, but more to the point, it's delivered in very short, discrete, stories that take no more than a few minutes to read. And they are as diverse as they are concise; some very explicit, describing sex from the slow and tender, to the frenzied. Others focusing solely on details; of undressing a partner, deliberately fumbling with clothing to anticipate the sex. Some are simply conversations between friends or lovers, occasional or full-time; and some introspective reflections of love and sex that once, or perhaps never, was.

What they all have in common is that they linger for far longer than they take to read - the writing is always thought-provoking and I've found that pondering them takes as many forms as the stories themselves. Mild envy at the passion of a well-described lover; empathy at love lost; fuel for ideas for my own future encounters; interest and bafflement at some of the polyamorous situations presented (I'm a bit old-fashioned...).

Anyway, rather than try to do it the required justice, I've grabbed a few passages of note. You can, of course, read the full text of most stories at QNY; but even as an eBook, there's a tangible quality, a purity of purpose, to specifically reading the kindle version, as opposed to it being one in a wash of browser windows and tabs.

My only - very minor - issues are that firstly, that there's no navigable table of contents (forgive my pedantry, it comes from working in publishing and having built eBooks); and that it doesn't include any of The Dirty Gentleman's equally erotic, evocative pictures. Neither detract from how enjoyable this is, especially for the ludicrous price of $2 - and as such this is hugely recommended.

As I strongly suspect the mooted physical - and illustrated - book will be!

19 May 2011

Viva Van Story's Everything Mosh

Given my penchant for racy material, be it glamour or erotica, I've found many photographers and models who I've liked; although I appreciate the work of both, I tend to follow photographers more and don't really obsess over models. Obsession aside (although a friend pointed out to me a tumblr blog devoted entirely to her), however, I am hugely fond of Mosh - aside from being stunning, she's hugely inventive, lending herself to pinup, latex fetishism, erotica - and her pictures really give the feeling of being collaborations with the photographer rather than just a model.

Viva's work is equally inventive, and I enjoy everything she does - from the technical excellence of her classic cheesecake to the more contemporary, fetish-y and erotic shots such as as she recently did for Alt Exclusive. The latter, as I mentioned in my review of her book, embodying more the original racy concept of pinup art. Put these two icons of modern pinup together - and fortunately for us, they often are - and the results are a combination of entertaining, exciting, arousing and breathtaking.

So, when I saw industry-leading photographer Viva Van Story had created a commemorative booklet devoted to Mosh, I was (at least I like to think) the first to put my name down for one - and it arrived today! A 16-page booklet showing the lovely Miss Mosh in clad in various states of undress, and in various combinations of retro girdles, latex, nylons and sheer lacy numbers. Some scenes are familiar from Viva's book; and as a volume it is slight; but the print and paper quality - not to mention being signed and numbered by these two wonderful ladies - makes it a collector's item (albeit one to be enjoyed, I'm not precious about such things). I'm even suffering from mailing-label envy, and indecision as to what to do with the Viva's Pinups sticker that was enclosed.

Perhaps my favourite thing about it is the - rather small - 'Volume 1' on the cover, and what that implies. Actually, I think Mosh should have a whole book devoted to her; but meantime, I have a suspicion that we'll be seeing more of her (and Viva) in Goliath's Latex Fashion Photography, and Viva's forthcoming sheer-themed book. The latter being head and shoulders above the top of my must-have list!