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Category Archives: Erotica

The pornographic potency of pinups…

We tend to look on vintage pinups from the 40s through the 60s via a nostalgic rose-colored lens, but what is forgotten is that these charming and skillfully rendered images were regarded in many quarters as pornography in their day. Nobody talked about masturbation openly in the peak era of Gil Elvgren, George Petty, and Alberto Vargas, but these pictures undoubtedly inspired many a spurt of lust.

I was reminded of this by a beautiful Elvgren pinup posted on Twitter by GracePheesh here and here, who frequently posts the delightful work of this fantastic artist. At first glance this is classic Gil, leggy, flirty, and the colors beautifully balanced to give the most sensual and pleasing impression…

But I was reminded of the pornographic potency of this pinup by the coincidence of seeing a woman display herself just this way on July 4th, the day before I saw this pinup online. On Independence Day I was sitting in a park in midtown Manhattan, enjoying a cup of coffee, when a woman about thirty sat down at a table with her boyfriend or husband. I believe they were European tourists. They were about twenty-five feet away from me. The woman had honey blonde hair and tawny skin, and wore a colorful and flowing dress that looked as if it were a giant kerchief which had been designed as a garment. When she sat in her chair, she leaned over and it was hard to miss the deep cleavage of her breasts in the low-cut decollete.

She and her man were about to eat breakfast sandwiches. But before she began to eat, she hiked up the skirt of her dress very high, presumably (I figured) because it would drag on the ground when she was sitting. The revelation of her thighs was startlingly erotic: they were lush and golden, and her curvaceous legs tapered down to bare feet which were on tiptoes in her flip-flops as she sat.

What struck me immediately as a coincidence was that she wore pink nail polish on her toes and fingers, which was the same shade of light pink that I had used the day before (on July 3rd) in designing the logo for a new femdom erotica ebook cover.

The revelation of her thighs is exactly replicated in the pinup above, which I saw on July 5th on Twitter.

She didn’t keep her thighs uncovered long; perhaps no more than a minute. Then she lowered the skirt, perhaps deciding to tolerate the hem touching the asphalt. I don’t know if she’d seen me looking at her; our glances never met, for which I am glad. I was in no mood for her to see my admiration; her man was bulky, muscled, and heavily tattooed. Ogling, I sensed, could have been met with conflict, even though it was hard not to want to look at her.  I mostly returned to my newspaper with only an occasional glimmer of yearning surveillance out of the corner of my orbs, even as a few minutes later some friends joined them and, finishing their breakfast (the woman devouring her long sandwich wrap with gusto), they all wandered off further into the park.

But wow! The baring of her thighs was startlingly exciting, a moment of lush tease. Whether such tease was unintentional, merely the result of a utilitarian lifting of her skirt from the sidewalk, or a moment of conscious or unconscious flirtation (perhaps she had seen my gaze of appreciation and wanted to torture me—and any other nearby thigh-gazers—with her unavailability), it was instantly cemented into my memory bank, and was reinforced powerfully when I saw the Elvgren pinup.

As well as when I saw the pink logo of my upcoming erotica ebook, just like the color of her toenails…

The whole situation could be the beginning of a fictional story of erotic cuckolding: a woman tantalizing a solitary middle-aged stranger in the distance in the park and then going off with her own man, leaving the stranger to think…dream…and then write a blog post about it! 😉

No, only kidding; an actual piece of erotic fiction about such a cuckolding would require a little more action than the aching ogler just sitting at a laptop later and blogging away the frustration!

In any case, I’ve chosen to blog, this time, instead. Plenty of other opportunities for cuckolding tales, of which I’ve written a number…see my Amazon store here

 

…and is a theme touched upon in the new book as well. I’ll be announcing its title very soon.

Back to the pinup: note the perky nipples pressing against the blouse of the Elvgren girl, too—an unusually explicit detail for this artist, who was oftentimes a bit more subtle or didn’t allude to stiff nubs at all.

So the next time you hear someone talk about the “innocence” of vintage pinups…well, just remember that their potent pulchritude could inspire the most throbbing daydreams! Just like the things that happen in real life sometimes… 😮

 

 

 

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Remembrance of New York City dungeons past…

Folks were recently chatting on Twitter about the differences between the online femdom scene of today and the old days, back when dungeons and dommes had to be sought out in a more stealthy manner, when most mistresses made their money by doing real-time sessions rather than having the option of concentrating on filming clips and getting financial tributes via the Internet.

My British artist colleague Sardax just did an excellent post about seeking femdom experiences over in England back in the pre-Internet days. You can find it here.

For me, back in the 70s through the early 2000s, a femdom experience (and they were always commercial ones for me) could first start with a perusal of SCREW newspaper, which featured classified ads that tempted me into the ladies’ lairs. (Yes, I know the word “lair” is a melodramatic one, but that’s what they felt like to me in my nervous anticipation of my forays therein.)

 

 

Later I discovered the fetish-oriented femdom tabloids like DOMINANT MYSTIQUE and THE VAULT, which more specifically showcased the BDSM scene, often with large, tantalizing, and beautifully done photographs. I also looked at femdom magazines which very much got me into the mood for a real-time experience.

I never had these encounters when I was in an intimate relationship with someone, though. I kept them separate. There was a wide chasm between my attempts to have a “vanilla” existence and my expeditions into the kink world.


Once I was unattached again and decided to visit a mistress, it was then a matter of finding a phone booth from where I could call anonymously to get more information about her (nobody used the term “domme” then, as far as I knew) and where, approximately, to go for the scene and how much it would cost. I was paranoid about calling some total stranger from my home phone (there was still no *69 yet to block one’s own number); and of course there were no cellphones decades ago.

Once an appointment was agreed upon, the actual location of the dungeon or private studio would only be given to a first time visitor right before coming for the session, usually by calling the dungeon from a specified phone booth across the street, where the mistress could perhaps see you on the street from a window and, presumably, size you up. Once in the dungeon or studio, you’d get undressed, hand over the fee (over the years from mostly the 1980s to the early 2000s spanning $100-200, plus a tip afterward), then discuss the scene with the mistress and get down to it. It’s been quite a few years since I last went to a pro-domme, but that’s basically the routine that I recall following.

In the years afterward, I became more comfortable discussing some of my submissive fantasies with the dancers in strip clubs, and began to get my femdom thrills during the private $20-per-song dances instead. I also had some erotic femdom roleplay in the 80s and 90s in the “one-on-one” booths in Times Square, where the customer would be on one side, the performer on the other, and you’d watch her through glass and talk to her via a telephone. Actually, those were pretty hot experiences and I should really write an entire post about them sometime. Economical, too. Those booths used to cost only about $1 a minute (designed to use as tokens the one dollar coins with the image of feminist Susan B. Anthony on them). Since the scenes usually took about ten-fifteen minutes, the cost was around $20-$25, including a ten dollar tip. Not trying to reduce things to dollars and cents, but sex history is also economic history…

Anyway, going to professional dominatrices in dungeons was a mixed bag for me. As I came to realize, looking back over the years, I never enjoyed paying for erotic experiences very much; I did it (repeatedly, of course) because I was young, horny, and the women were so physically alluring and tantalizing to me (and usually much more glamorously attractive than those I could meet in my day-to-day life); but there was no way I could rationalize the ego-deflation I felt by being a “trick” —as I called myself in the spirit of being “realistic” about what I was actually doing.

You see, I never thought of myself as a “client” of a dominatrix but always as a “john.” I grew up in a conservative Midwest Jewish background (not overly religious, but sexually and psychologically uptight) and my erotic adventurousness was badly tempered by feelings of shame and guilt that I was not living up to the image of “being a good boy” with which I was indoctrinated. So I always felt there was something “wrong” with me because I had to “pay for it”–not to mention that I was paying for female domination (!), which was really considered beyond the pale thirty, forty years ago. I went to therapy for nine years and one of the topics I always brought up was how I could act more “normal.” Didn’t happen. 😉

Now, I’m not making a value judgment about pay-for-play; in fact I am grateful for the encounters which relieved many a lonely hour; and I believe in sex work decriminalization. I am simply expressing here what I felt about my personal experiences with it. So even though I did have fun now and then, the femdom sessions I had in dungeons or, earlier, New York’s apartment brothels and massage parlors, seemed to have very little resonance in my imagination or fantasies. Instead, I mostly fantasized about women whose pictures I saw in magazines, or in videos. I also liked written erotica; art (by everyone from Stanton to Bilbrew to Harukawa to Sardax); short stories; and audio files by femdom erotica creators ranging from Keri Pentauk (of WHAP Magazine fame) to Goddess Lycia; still do. Yes, I have always been partial to the erotic world stimulated between my two ears.

Some of the best femdom experiences I ever had in real-time, real-life, were with a beautiful and very intelligent Asian-American stripper in the early 2000s who came to understand my fantasies. In a friendly yet professional way, she asked me what I liked and then indulged those preferences in verbal roleplay while she gave me lapdances in a midtown club. I did not feel paying for lapdances or drinks was as hurtful to my wobbly self-esteem as going to dominatrices or, earlier, to those apartment brothels where I first explored some of my fetish and submissive desires; so for quite a few years the strip clubs became my venue of choice to explore my submissiveness. I only really stopped when the sex magazine business in which I worked began to crumble in the wake of the Internet, and my income declined. Simply, I could no longer afford the indulgence of spending money on twenty-dollar lapdances or on the dancers’ expensive drinks.

Often when I left a dungeon I would feel glad that I had gone; it was cathartic and I usually enjoyed the encounter with the mistress. Now and then a session wouldn’t be good, but generally the ladies were friendly and decent even if the chemistry was lacking in our session. But being playfully dominated in the strip club setting became more enjoyable for me, partly because I could spend less and I ended up preferring that. Also, in the strip club, I felt as if my desires were more integrated with the rest of my life—I just walked in, hung out for awhile, and left— whereas when I went to a pro-domme or a dungeon (or to vanilla hookers before that), I felt as if I were going into another, faraway zone (calling from a certain phone booth, etc.) and it was more stressful to me.

On trips to dungeons I only even took the bare minimum of identification in my wallet in case I was somehow going to be robbed during the session (which had happened to me in the 70s once). Maybe that was paranoid of me, but I thought I was being prudent too. And, even if the places were friendly and well-run, for me trips to dungeons or studios felt secretive and shameful; and, after I went to a couple of places that did not seem any too clean (including one very famous dungeon), possibly not all that hygienic either. And again, I don’t mean to sound judgmental; I am just describing my probably over-neurotic feelings for the sake of honesty and a sex history perspective. Looking back, I think I was overly fastidious—but returning to the subject of my background, I grew up with hypochondria and “germ-consciousness” in my family life. It’s a wonder, in fact, that I even could have even started going to hookers or mistresses at all, given my hang-ups; but one can never underestimate the horniness of the young, especially when gorgeous streetwalkers in hot pants and platform heels patrolled Eighth Avenue in its last fabled years of rich raunchiness, the ladies flaunting their wares to the lonely, the throbbing, and the susceptible.

I noticed in Sardax’s piece on this topic of bygone days (again, you can find that here)  that he discussed the idea of meeting people through contact ads. That was something I never tried to do; I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea of writing a letter to a stranger about the fantasies of sexual submission I felt so ambivalent about. That’s undoubtedly why I just focused on commercial transactions with professional dominatrices. I did once go to a meeting of The Eulenspiegel Society, the well-known BDSM group, thinking perhaps I could meet a mistress that way; but I couldn’t get into joining or participating, I was still too unaccepting of my feelings and still wishing I could be “vanilla.”

This post was difficult for me to complete. I’ve been working on it since March 2019 and only finished it because Sardax’s post inspired me to finally get it done. I wish I could have struck a lighter tone, as he did. Anyway, forgive me if I went off on personal tangents possibly unrelated to the topic, but I decided to leave them in to give you a sense of what it was like for me, one person, to deal with the fulfillment of these submissive desires in the days before the easier-to-access pervy plenitude on the Worldwide Web.

 

 

 

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Elizabeth Taylor and The Cleavage of Cleopatra…

Elizabeth Taylor’s epic starring vehicle Cleopatra came out in June 1963, but I didn’t see it until 1964, for a fifty cent ticket on its third run in a small theater on the North Side of Chicago. I was almost thirteen years old. I remember thinking the movie was pretty good, even though people had said negative things about it. And I remember saying at the time that fifty cents was really a good price to pay for a four hour trip into the ancient world!

I hadn’t seen the whole film again since, so when Turner Classic Movies ran it the other night I gave it a watch from start to finish. I enjoyed it, although I didn’t think it was a great film. But its mix of politics, romance and spectacle was absorbing.

But what most struck me now was how it was quite a showcase for Taylor’s cleavage.

The admiring fellow is, of course, Richard Burton as Mark Antony.

I wonder now how that cleavage affected me back in 1964. Cleavage displayed like this was not something that I saw much of growing up in the sexually conservative Jewish middle class neighborhood of West Rogers Park. So the constant focus on boobie vistas in Cleopatra may well have blown my mind at that tender, impressionable age. As it also did in June 2019 when I watched the film again from beginning to end.

As Cleopatra gives Caesar daring political advice, Mark Antony (out of frame) falls for her hard.

Now I can’t help but think that Cleopatra may have had something to do with my utter fascination with cleavage in recent years, a fascination which really didn’t start until I was in my late forties/early fifties after I got an amazing lapdance from a stripper with two utterly beautiful large natural breasts. Until then, I think a fetish for cleavage existed “underground” in my subconscious, and I’m not sure of the reason(s) why. Perhaps the ubiquity of cleavage in the media and on the street nowadays is what brought it back to the surface for me, big time.

Cleopatra in her regal finery, cleavage dazzlingly displayed!

 

In any case, I therefore conclude that perhaps my long-ago viewing of Cleopatra on that fifty cent ticket (plus a dime for buttered popcorn) had something to do with my writing of femdom erotica ebooks like this one…available on Amazon here…try the free sample just by clicking…

One of my best femdom ebooks. Yolanda is charmingly merciless with her “boob for boobies,” the haplessly cleavage-addled Orwell Jarvis.

 

…and the imprinting of Cleopatra’s CleavageScope (oh, that’s just my silly invented word!) probably had something or other to do with my ever-burgeoning admiration for the gorgeous and b-b-busty Goddess Lycia, about whom you can learn m-m-more here. And I want to emphasize that her talents are by no means limited to her sharing tantalizing glimpses of her, um, her c-c-cleavage, but are but one aspect of her entrancing hypnodomme erotic powers as conveyed through her skillful writings, striking images, intoxicating videos, and especially her mind-enrapturing audio files. For adults only, of course.

Goddess Lycia is a true Mistress of the Selfie as well as of men’s minds.

 

Back in the early 2000s, there was a magazine entitled Cleavage put out by one of the publishers I worked for. It never seemed to hit big, perhaps because the magazine showed full bare breasts, instead of obsessively concentrating on the tease of cleavage alone. Although it probably wouldn’t have been practical on the marketplace to do an adult magazine without showing some bare tits and nipples, I would have photo-edited it very, very carefully to emphasize tease over exposure and nudity. And given the way I feel about cleavage, it might have been a success like the other fetish magazines I did for many years: the ass-crammed Cheeks (1988-2005), the toe-and-sole utopia of Leg World (2004-2010), and the mature ladies sexual paradise of Girls Over 40 (1988-2008).

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Images of Goddess Lycia are ©GoddessLycia and used by courtesy of Goddess Lycia. Screencaps of Cleopatra, 1963, by yours truly. And the photographer’s credit for my ebook Rule By Cleavage is prominently displayed right on the excellent cover above.

 

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The great face-slapping fetish novel of the 1940s

I took some time off over Memorial Day weekend, urgently needed relaxation. I saw friends, watched movies, took some walks, and sat in the pleasant spring shade and read…

The book was wild and grim…

 

…but the day was sunny and warm.

 

BEHOLD THIS WOMAN was noir specialist David Goodis’ melodramatic saga in richly entertaining purple prose about Clara Ervin, a malignant, monstrous narcissist of a woman, who dominates her husbands with all the techniques at her disposal: lush redheaded beauty, entrancing eyes, a mindfucking manner of taking control of conversations, an erotic style of cigarette smoking, and most dangerous of all, a penchant for doing whatever it takes—from cuckoldry to murder—to get where she feels she deserves to be in prestige, money, and luxury.

But what makes BEHOLD THIS WOMAN even more extraordinary, and it’s something I haven’t seen written about before (although I may have missed it since so much has been written about Goodis since the rediscovery of his work here in America in the 80s with the Black Lizard reprints): this is also a fetish novel, and the fetish is face-slapping.

Now, I had first read this novel around 1996, when I got my copy at a paperback collector’s show. Oddly, though, in the intervening years I just seemed to remember that Clara had just slapped around her defeated husband, backhanding him too. But when I re-read the novel Memorial Day weekend, I discovered anew that Clara not only slapped her husband, but also her lover and her stepdaughter, and repeatedly, in long richly detailed scenes that (as a writer of fetish fiction myself, of course) I recognized as designed to be erotic, definitely for the author and for all other connoisseurs of face slapping action. The result of all the slapping is to so discombobulate her victims that they are then ripe for “Stockholm syndrome” style capitulation to her control, wherein they turn from fear to zombie-like submission to her will—and even a sick kind of adoration or love (in the case of the stepdaughter). Although in the case of her husband, the face-slapping does wake him up to the true nature of this woman by whom he was once so entranced. The scene of their first date, wherein she entices him both with her eyes and cigarette smoking, is a classic of subtle seduction by a dominant female over a susceptible male.

In the intervening years since I first read the novel I also became far more knowledgeable about the femdom and fetish comic art of Eric Stanton, particularly where women are fighting other women or abusing men—and BEHOLD THIS WOMAN has the equivalent in scenes so vividly described it’s almost as if they’re drawn, not written, because you can see them so clearly. Clara Ervin would not be out of place in a Stanton story of female domination. There is a physical confrontation between Clara and her stepdaughter that could have been drawn by Stanton.

This vintage drawing by Stanton, which was posted online at Twitter by the German writer/photographer/model Pitt Prickel here, perfectly captures the kind of face-slapping with which the book is filled:

This is the kind of feminine fury captured in Goodis’ prose. I wonder if Goodis knew of Stanton’s 1950s and 1960s artwork, which came long after the 1947 publication of Behold This Woman. It’s possible.

 

This bizarre and entertaining novel—which is also very alarming and disturbing in its relentless portrayal of how narcissistic personalities manipulate and conquer more reasonable  types of people—came out in 1947, the same year as BORN TO KILL, a film noir starring Claire Trevor as another psychopathic female. Goodis was working out in Hollywood as a screenwriter at the time, and as I read the book it occurred to me that Claire Trevor would have been perfect casting as Clara Ervin. And Phillip Terry, who played her handsome, even-tempered fiance in BORN TO KILL, could have been excellent casting as Clara Ervin’s besotted and befuddled lover Leonard in a film version. But it was never made. Here is the poster for BORN TO KILL; Claire Trevor really looks like the embodiment of Goodis’ femme noir, although since Clara as described is a bit on the plumper side, Trevor would have had to pack on a few more pounds to be letter perfect physically.

BEHOLD THIS WOMAN is currently out of print, and that’s a crime in itself. This saga belongs in an affordable reprint edition or ebook so more people can see what it takes to stop a narcissist like Clara Ervin: a comeuppance so grotesque it borders on something out of Hieronymous Bosch! Which isn’t a spoiler because damn you know it’s coming and hell you know Clara deserves it!

Here are two other editions of BEHOLD THIS WOMAN. First, the 1949 Bantam paperback cover:

The man looks suitably awed and astonished but Clara looks too svelte and posed here.

 

And this is the original dust jacket of the 1947 hardcover. This perfectly captures Clara’s red hair and charismatic and overpowering personality, but she still a bit too trim! The book definitely describes her as curvy and plush in her contours and flesh.

Clara Ervin: master manipulator of men and women, and one of David Goodis’s most memorable creations.

 


If you’d like to read more about David Goodis and the strange backstory of how he came to write BEHOLD THIS WOMAN after an unhappy marriage to a woman who, apparently, intensely teased and dominated him, you can find the story in the legendary 1984 French biography Goodis: A Life in Black and White by Philippe Garnier, which is now available in a recent English translation here.

And visit a webpage here , which I just found, that gives excerpts of BEHOLD THIS WOMAN that give a good flavor of Clara Erwin’s dominating power.

And if you want to learn more about Eric Stanton, check out Richard Pérez Seves’ incredible new book Eric Stanton and the History of the Bizarre Underground here.

 

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Start your morning with a sexy chuckle…

I went to an antique postcard collector’s expo here in NYC over the weekend and picked up this cute item. I love these funny risque British postcards and have collected several. It gave me such a chuckle I wanted to share it here. Have a pleasant Monday and a good week!~~Irv

 
 

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A passion for Japanese erotica…

Over the last couple of weeks, on Sundays, I got a lot of views on this blog from Japan, many more than I’ve gotten in a long time from anywhere. On our blog dashboards, we can see where the views are coming from and how many we get.

Japan, the land of Aoi Sola, one of my favorite adult actresses ever! Her combination of warmth, humor, friendliness and thrilling lack of inhibition on-screen made it easy to develop a crush on her and seek out her many sinematic performances. I’ve always regretted not getting to see her in person at NYC’s Japan Society when she turned up several years ago for a talk. I wrote about that here in 2011 in the early days of this blog. And here is a good recent article from TheCultureTrip.com about Miss Aoi for those of you who don’t know about her unusual career and a crossover from porn to the mainstream that eclipses any such professional segue we’ve ever heard of in the adult field, including Jenna Jameson’s here in America. And here is a 2015 article from Tokyo Weekender.com about her popularity in China. Her name is also spelled as Aoi Sora, but with either spelling it means “Blue Sky,” a most appropriate choice indeed given the sunny feelings (among various emotions) that her work can inspire.

 

Anyway, back to the subject at hand: I got the feeling that perhaps one Japanese reader was going through my entire blog these last two weekends. I don’t know for sure, and it could have been multiple readers, but not knowing why I would suddenly get a lot of views from Japan, I guessed it might have been one reader whose curiosity was piqued by my posts. I really appreciate the interest and hope that, whoever you are, you’ve enjoyed my work!

For my part, I find Japanese erotica some of the most entertaining, stimulating, and creatively realized. I’ve enjoyed looking through beautifully edited Japanese men’s magazines, full of their gorgeous photography of pretty girls. Even when the photos just showed the models in swimsuits, they always had an especially resonant sexiness.

Movie-wise, some of the best and most memorable porn scenes I’ve ever watched were in Japanese hardcore videos over the last ten, fifteen years. I have a friend who watched an incredible number of these movies himself and would direct me to some really excellent videos. We had long and enthusiastic discussions about our favorite actresses like Rei Himekawa and Sakura Sakurada. I wish I could tell you what the titles of these movies were, but most of them were in Japanese on the boxcovers, usually with no English translation! Elsewhere on this blog here I’ve written about the stars I admire like Megu Hagiwara or Kaya Yonekura.

Here’s a nice photo of Sakura Sakurada which I found at the AsianBabesDataBase.com here.

Moving into more niche interests, with my obsession for femdom erotica, I’ve long been a huge fan of the art of Namio Harukawa too, reveling in his atmospheric depictions of amazonian ladies subduing slaves with big butts, powerful thighs, and, of course, their indomitable will to rule men. In fact, I believe I wrote one of the first American articles about Namio, back in 1988 for an early issue of Cheeks magazine, which I started editing that year (and continued to edit until 2005).

Another Japanese femdom artist whom I like, I only know by the name Harukano:

As far as mainstream Japanese movies dealing with femdom, my absolute favorite is Moonlight Whispers (aka Sasayaki) which I’ve written about here (in what has been by far the most popular post on my blog over the years); and I also enjoyed a film called New Love in Tokyo, which had some of the best and most evocative dungeon scenes in the context of a dramatic movie.

In the best scene in New Love in Tokyo, a dominatrix breaks down a cynical visitor to the dungeon by playing on his weaknesses until he completely surrenders to her. She leaves him alone in the dark for awhile, and that’s when she finally gets to him. It’s been a long time since I saw the movie, so I may be vague on these details, but I never forgot this film. You can read more about it at TheSameCinemaEveryNight.net here, where I found the poster art above. I can’t believe I saw it well over twenty years ago!!

Lately I haven’t gone much to strip clubs, but in recent years my favorite dancers were Japanese women who were working here in NYC as exotic dancers. Sometimes we discussed  BDSM fantasies, but for the most part I used to just visit them to talk and get a few dances. I became quite friendly with two of them.

Finally, one of my favorite writers is Junichiro Tanizaki, regarded as one of the greatest of the 20th century. He also frequently dealt with fetishism, female domination, and even the cuckolding scenario in his famous novel Naomi and foot fetishism in Diary of a Mad Old Man. The poster of the film version of the latter, which I found on IMDb, is below.

 

In fact, I gave one of my Japanese stripper friends a copy of Tanizaki’s terrific book of bizarre stories, Seven Japanese Tales, to read when she took a break from the club for a few weeks. It contains his great story about a woman with a spider tattoo who ends up conquering the man who gave it to her. Ironically, though, my dancer friend thought the book was a little too kinky and strange! That surprised me because she was the one who told me her fantasy was to be a mistress and lead me around on a leash, a revelation that certainly kept me interested in her for quite awhile, hoping this fantasy could someday be enacted (alas, it never was, except perhaps figuratively in that she certainly kept me on an invisible psychological leash with me constantly coming back as her customer.) Anyway, I was disappointed too because I had re-read the entire book to discuss it with her on her return from her break, but she had almost nothing to say about it other than it was “weird!” Well, I couldn’t argue with that. It was weird…but also great. Maybe she wasn’t much of a reader, either…but she was a fun companion in the club, which was the most important thing.

Well, I’d love to go to Japan someday and, among many other sights, see some of its erotic culture up close and live, and not through only magazines, pictures, or videos. Perhaps I’m a bit of a mad old man myself now! 😉

 

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Jane Dickson’s art reminds me of lively lonely nights in sleazy old Times Square…

I recently caught up with “All That Is Solid Melts Into Air,” an exhibit of paintings by Jane Dickson which bring to life the Times Square of the old sleazy era in the 80s and 90s. Her style is her own but its impact reminds me of Edward Hopper’s, evoked primarily through urban night scenes; as in Hopper’s works, deserted streets and places have a loneliness that’s not entirely sad, but also thoughtful, introspective, almost peaceful, and sometimes even inviting—as in this picture of a guy with a placard for a club called Dreams (I vaguely remember that club’s name, although I don’t remember if I ever went there)…

Jane Dickson: “Dreams” 2018

Dickson’s paintings in this excellent show at the James Fuentes Gallery on NYC’s Lower East Side (on display through February 17, 2019) feature a woman’s face looking through noirish Venetian blinds; a boy at a bus stop in an ominously red full face mask; a girl dancing in peep show with a customer on the other side (we get the peep show’s window eye view)…

Jane Dickson: “Peep,” 1992-96

 

There’s a painting of a low angle on a woman navigating a baby stroller down a stairs; the front of the big Peepland that was situated mid-block on the south side of 42nd between 7th and 8th Avenues; cops running on the street in some kind of frenzied police action; an evocation of the Terminal Bar that used to be (if I recall correctly) at 40th and 8th Avenue; and my favorite painting, showing a long hallway leading to the “employees only” area of a strip club, with a solitary half-naked dancer, almost out of eye view, leaning against the wall–you can almost imagine the rasping sound the linoleum would make beneath her high heels…

Jane Dickson: “Employees Only,” 2000

The colors of Dickson’s paintings and their varying sizes suggest indirectly a complex mix of personal emotions, those of the painter or (more vaguely) of the subjects of the pictures, just as Hopper paintings do for their era. One painting I also particularly liked, and one of the largest, was a vertiginous angle on the stairway/escalator leading downstairs in the old Nathan’s Hot Dogs that used to be at 43rd and Broadway…

Jane Dickson: “Nathan’s,” 1984-86

I went down that stairway many a time to eat a frank in the forlorn expanse of the lower level dining room (I lived in Times Square myself in the 80s, only a few blocks up).  This painting in particular reminds me how the old raunchy neighborhood (I never called it “The Deuce” myself back in the day) might have made you feel lonely, or was a place you went to hang out when you were already feeling lonely (or horny); but it didn’t necessarily make you feel ashamed of being lonely (or horny), as the new overly technological tourist-filled Disneyesque miasma of 21st century Times Square does for me. Once you were allowed to sit in your solitude in Times Square, perhaps feeling forsaken but not defective for not having a wife or family in tow; knowing that you could find distraction only steps away in any number of strip clubs or peep shows or in library-like adult bookstores where you could stand wordlessly side-by-side with other strangers and browse through assemblages of erotica that sometimes, depending on the particular store, could appear to the scholarly-minded almost Smithsonian in their range. After all, it was in places like this that I found rare mint copies of the original John Willie BIZARRE magazines from the 1940s, at prices so low it was clear the merchants had no idea of the value of what they were selling.

So if you have a casual interest, a deep nostalgia, or a fascinated yearning for the bygone Times Square depicted in HBO’s series The Deuce (see my own thoughts on the show here), check out Jane Dickson’s beautifully evocative paintings at the James Fuentes Gallery, located at 55 Delancey Street. Here is a link to more info, and another link to an interview with Ms. Dickson and a preview of the paintings. Also check out this interview by Ben Yakas in The Gothamist on the occasion of the publication of her book of street photography and art, Jane Dickson in Times Square, which you can find on Amazon here.

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Postscript: It’s funny, but I just realized, in looking this over as I was editing, that my selection of the pictures to illustrate this review really evokes a typical night for me back in the 80s or early 90s. I didn’t assemble the pictures consciously with this in mind, but studying them now I see how they match the pattern of my many lively lonely travels through Times Square. Seeing a guy advertising a club, I might have gone to the venue, or maybe first to a peep show, then to the club; later, in the strip joint and having had a few beers, I would invariably head to the men’s room and might well have seen a dancer having a cigarette back near an “Employees Only” area; and finally, having had my raunchy fun at the club (or even been disappointed, as could frequently happen), I’d stop at Nathan’s for a hot dog and Coke…a meal that could be lonely, yes, but also satisfying in a quasi-Romantic “I’m a lone wolf” kinda way…  😉 You know, “lone wolf” as in David Janssen in the great old 60s tv series The Fugitive? Except that I was probably just running away from having to spend too much time alone with myself…

But that’s the subject for another post someday.

 


All examples of the paintings shown here are by Jane Dickson, as displayed at the James Fuentes Gallery NYC January 16 through February 17, 2019.

 

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