I remember having many discussions while in college about obscenity and what is and isn’t obscene. I always argued on the side of freedom of expression and everyone’s right to decide for themselves what is and isn’t obscene. I honestly thought I would get inspiration for the guest blog post from Veronica Lake as I was immersed in a night of movies starring the peek-a-boo blonde but sadly, that’s not where inspiration struck.
It was the day after my blonde immersion while posting on Facebook where I found fodder for this blog. I love photography. However, I find most erotic photography to be a little blah. I don’t know why. I mean you can only pose a naked man and woman so many ways before it becomes redundant. I am rarely struck dead in my tracks by erotic art so when I came across a photo of two men; one dressed as a cop, (well a kind of dominant, jock strap wearing cop) and the other on his knees naked with a gun to his head and obvious bleeding wounds on his back I was forced to stop and gaze at the image. My first thought was, wow, that’s intense, and they are pushing the limit of erotic, dangerous, disturbing, and sexual.
I really found the whole picture a phenomenal use of fear, excitement, danger, and the taboo. Yes, it was disturbing. But, isn’t that what art and photography is about? Shouldn’t it make you stop, think, and maybe arouse something inside you? It isn’t all about sunshine and lollipops, and believe me, I have a fondness for both. I think creative expression is about sometimes dragging, sometimes leading, and sometimes tenderly leading your audience into the light and the dark. One of my favorite artists is Georgia O Keefe. I find her work both beautifully rendered reflections of nature but also there is darkness to some of her work. A longing and a sense of encroaching shadow and even death, a flower is a flower but she saw more. I recently visited her museum in Santa Fe and what I loved was she is quoted as saying she painted flowers because they were cheaper than models and could stay still longer. I think she also was quoted as denying sexual innuendo in her flowers. We as a public infused the flowers with sex. Fascinating.
The picture of the two men struck something in me. But, having worked in the adult industries for as long as I have and styled and set up more adult photo shoots than I care to recall, I also know these are two models who were paid and there was a makeup artist, someone doing lighting, wardrobe, etc so I can separate myself and not be offended or disturbed to the point of wanting it censored. Some people cannot do this. They can’t get past the visual impact and being disturbed I believe means the image, the idea, the sound, etc lingers in your mind until you either rebel against it or face what it is about said image that bothers you. Wow! Not an easy thing to admit or accomplish.
Granted, what I find disturbing may not be what you or anyone else finds disturbing but I certainly find the horrors played endlessly on the news far more frightening than an image in a photograph. I think the rainforest disappearing is terrifying. I think child abuse, animal cruelty and minorities being repressed is far scarier than two grown men paid to act out a sexual fantasy.
I am a firm believer in the idea of “safe, sane, consensual, and legal” is it sane to be posed with a gun pushed against the side of your head? Debatable. I doubt the gun was loaded and even if it was…well, I’m reminded of a book I came across called Celebrity by Thomas Thopmson. I happened to open it to a passage where a man is fucking a woman with a gun. Talk about impact, I remember it so clearly and the impact it had on me as a writer. I paid homage to the scene in my novella Dutch s Boy and must say found many people arguing on both sides of the fence about the inclusion of a certain “gun” scene. To me, it’s not about the gun. Not in my story not in the photo, I mentioned. It’s about what the gun represents. It’s about the words Thompson used to create a scene of violent but erotic and sensual danger. The woman wasn’t being raped; again, it wasn’t a hateful scene. In the photo it’s about the composition, it’s about fear, submission and sexual power and facing all of those heady themes.
I think it’s masterful of a photographer, artist, or writer to be able to combine dangerous ingredients and come up with something viable and powerful. It’s artistic alchemy in a way. And what’s wrong with a little alchemy?
Check out my latest release The Birches and come on by my website for magic, mayhem, and yummy things.
The Birches Info and Excerpt
Perfection isn’t everything, although it’s everything Leo wants. His desire to become the perfect chef may keep him at the top of his class, but it drives his friends and family crazy while keeping love and passion on the back burner. That is until he meets Dock, owner and chef of the new and popular restaurant, The Birches. Although Dock isn’t a trained chef, Leo finds the food he cooks delectable and the man behind the food irresistible. The lessons taught at the hands of an untrained cook may be just what this uptight chef needs to let go.
He pulled into the parking lot of The Birches and sat on his bike a minute. He felt nervous, like he was about to meet a celebrity and the self-doubt that plagued him made him queasy.
“You gonna sit outside or come in?”
Leo jumped at the sound of the man’s voice. He pulled his helmet off and looked around, but didn’t see anyone.
Leo looked just past his left shoulder and saw a man emerging from the nearby woods that surrounded the little restaurant.
“Oh, hey,” Leo called out, his voice cracking.
“You looking for something to eat?” the man asked, coming closer.
Leo was shocked to find himself riveted to the spot, staring at the man who came towards him.
The man offered Leo a rough, calloused hand. “I’m Dock,”
“Hey,” Leo managed weakly.
“I was out back, picking blackberries, they grow wild around here. I thought they’d make a great dessert. Don’t know what kind of dessert, but how can you go wrong when you have stuff like this?” He said as he offered up a large, wooden bucket half-full of dark, purple black berries.
There were purple smears across Dock’s white tank top that seemed barely able to contain Dock’s impressive chest. There were several brown freckles on Dock’s shoulders, next to where the strap of tank top clung to his body.
“Lucky berries,” Leo said under his breath.
Sweat ran down Leo’s back, he felt so nervous. For a brief moment, he thought of hopping on his bike and taking off. Instead he said, “Um, nothing, sorry, I just wanted to come by and–”
“You want to come inside and have an iced tea or something?” Dock asked, “It’s hot as hell out here and I know I need to cool off.” He swiped a hand across his face and left a smudge of blackberry juice across his cheek.
Leo’s heart was pounding, what was it about this place, this man?
Where to find Xavier Axelson: