Posts Tagged ‘sex’
August 25, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Early in the fourteenth century, an Egyptian bureaucrat embarked on the kind of project that many of us attempt on nights off: an enormous encyclopedia designed to contain all knowledge in the Muslim world. The book, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition, ran to nine thousand pages, and a part of it will see English translation, after so many centuries, this fall. It illustrates “the sprawlingly heterodox reality of the early centuries of Islam, so different from the crude puritanical myths purveyed by modern-day jihadis,” Robert F. Worth writes. “Reading it is like stumbling into a cavernous attic full of unimaginably strange artifacts, some of them unforgettable, some merely dross. From the alleged self-fellation of monkeys to the many lovely Bedouin words for the night sky (‘the Encrusted, because of its abundance of stars, and the Forehead, because of its smoothness’) to the court rituals of Egypt’s then-overlords, the Mamluks, nothing seems to escape Nuwayri’s taxonomic ambitions.” (We’ll have excerpts on the Daily after Labor Day.)
August 16, 2016 | by Anthony Madrid
If “porn poetry” is defined as poetry that’s supposed to turn people on, then we have no tradition of porn poetry in English. What we have instead is a bunch of what might be called “exhilarating nastiness”: poetry that’s basically a revenge against sex, a way of processing anxiety.
Don’t get me wrong. The material I seem to be dismissing is my favorite stuff in the world. Rochester, Swift, Seidel: they are disgusting and great. I have no real complaints about these guys. They speak to my concerns.
Still, these days, I’ve become interested in expanding my borders beyond what I call “therapeutic art.” My anxieties ain’t going nowhere; they’ll be here when I get back. How about some poetry that comes straight out of delight and high spirits? Poetry that never heard of revenge or consolation. Read More »
August 12, 2016 | by Caitlin Youngquist
“He only knew a drawing was good if it got him hard,” writes Dian Hanson of Touko Laaksonen, better known as Tom of Finland (1920–1991). I’ve been spending my evenings drooling over “Tom’s men,” as they’ve come to be called—famously erotic, fabulously gay, and achingly virile. Tom’s is a métier that worships the male form. Sculpted, brawny bods dress up in archetypically masculine uniforms—men in uniform were a fetish of Tom’s—and frolic across the page to bone.
Since the late fifties, when a (comparatively tame) drawing of his was featured on the cover of the muscle mag Physique Pictorial, Tom and his drawings have risen to an iconic status—and there’s a whole cottage industry of ToF merch, from fire blankets to anal beads, to prove it. But I, bashfully, have only just found him. I owe much of that to Taschen, who have, to mark the quarter century since the artist’s death, published a handful of books comprising much of his delicious oeuvre—a retrospective culminating in the reissue of the Holy Writ of all ToF books, Tom of Finland XXL. Among the collection is The Little Book of Tom of Finland: Cops and Robbers, one of three in the Little Book series, and my favorite of the bunch. Read More »
August 11, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Some asshole on Ninth Avenue grabbed Mary Karr’s crotch and that was a really, really, really dumb thing for him to do: “I came to and shouted from the doorway, ‘Not today! Not this bitch! You picked the wrong woman to fuck with today!’ … Around Forty-First Street, a cop car pulled up, and I hopped in and recounted it all as they peeled out like they do on Law & Order. The female officer riding shotgun radioed the description I gave her to other cops, who nabbed him and hauled him, handcuffed, before me outside the Port Authority. ‘That’s him!’ I said. He was blank-eyed, as if this whole thing were happening to somebody else. His buddy was amped up, though, claiming his friend hadn’t done anything. I shot back that was horse hockey—yes, he had—and the buddy walked off as an officer put the Grabber in the back of a cruiser.”
- In 2013, Hawaii Sign Language, or HSL, became the first new language discovered in America in eighty years. Problem is, it’s on the verge of extinction. A new project hopes to document “what may be the last-ever conversations of native HSL signers … Like every natural language, HSL is the evolved product of a specific history, the unconscious creation of a community. For it to survive, local signers will have to make a deliberate choice to use it. The same may be increasingly true of Deafness itself. The story of HSL raises crucial questions in an age of globalization: Do cultures on the margins have a future? Will enough people choose to be that different, and will they do it together?”
- In the Victorian era, electricity had a lucrative sideline in its applications to the human body: “In one popular demonstration, a young woman stood on a stool holding the chain from an electrical machine. As long as no one touched her all was fine, but when a gentleman was challenged to give her a kiss the sparks flew. Then there was medical entrepreneur James Graham’s Celestial Bed. In 1781, based at his Temple of Hymen on fashionable Pall Mall in London, Graham charged wealthy childless clients £50 a night to have sex in the electrified dome and forged a link between electricity, sex, and fertility that would persist throughout the Victorian era.”
- In the thirties, Wallace Stevens published a poem called “Sad Strains of a Gay Waltz”: “There are these sudden mobs of men, / These sudden clouds of faces and arms, / An immense suppression, freed, / These voices crying without knowing for what … ” David Bromwich reflects on the meaning of these lines in the age of Trumpism: “The qualities of the mob I think Stevens meant to evoke were anger and a somehow warranted self-pity. Those outside are unequipped by nature to enter into the mood. But these sudden mobs don’t want our pity; they are made out of feelings that are intoxicating, and the feelings are their own reward. And never pretend that self-pity is a contemptible thing. It is the most popular and contagious of emotions. ‘The epic of disbelief,’ Stevens concluded, ‘Blares oftener and soon, will soon be constant.’”
- Here in America, we know that customer service is about pitching fits, pointing fingers, and ruining a total stranger’s day because the ice in your Frappuccino was kind of chunky. In the UK, though, people have so much time to kill that they actually compose funerary poetry with their customer-service representatives. It all started when a guy found a dead worm on his cucumber in Tesco’s, and it goes, and goes: “Although life takes funny old turns, we can all learn from William the Worm … ”
August 3, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- In the early sixties, the London Review of Books’ Mary-Kay Wilmers was working as a secretary at Faber, where one of her superiors was T. S. Eliot. His managerial style left something to be desired, she writes: “I had some bad moments with him. I hadn’t been there more than a few months when he caught me looking out of the window onto Russell Square. I had my back both to my colleagues and to the door, and I was saying: ‘Look at all those lucky people in Russell Square doing bugger all.’ My colleagues were silent and when I turned round I realized why: Eliot had come into the room and was glowering at me. I might as well have been tearing at the grapes with murderous paws. After I’d graduated to blurb-writing he showed all the directors a blurb I’d written, saying: ‘Surely we can’t publish this.’ It was for Ann Jellicoe’s play The Knack and I’d said that the knack in question was the knack of getting girls into bed. Once, early on, I pointed out a discrepancy between two printings of one of his early poems—I can’t remember which. I was quite proud of myself. He said it didn’t matter.”
- While we’re on Faber—in Eliot’s day, they declined to publish Basil Bunting’s poems. But now they’ve put out a long-awaited critical edition of his work, which corrects, as Christopher Spaide says, a decades-long oversight on the publishers’ part: “Bunting’s arrival at Faber comes with a certain poetic justice: after enduring a stinging rejection by Eliot, the former Faber editor, in his lifetime, he has now been published alongside scholarly editions of Eliot’s work, and he looks every bit the major British poet. The editor of the new edition is Don Share, a poet and the editor of Poetry magazine. Over the phone, Share suggested that Bunting ‘is more important to us, and even more legible to us, now than he has been, because he was right about so many things early on.’ Specifically, Share brought up Bunting’s reliance on performance (‘He was kind of a proto-performance poet’), his gratitude to small presses, and his grounding of global concerns in a local community.”
- One of many reasons that Japan is culturally superior to the U.S.: its citizens are presently in the thrall of an existentially despairing egg yolk. “Meet Gudetama, the anthropomorphic embodiment of severe depression. Gudetama is a cartoon egg yolk that feels existence is almost unbearable. It shivers with sadness. It clings to a strip of bacon as a security blanket. Rather than engage in society, it jams its face into an eggshell and mutters the words, ‘Cold world. What can we do about it?’ … How did a sad little egg win so many Japanese hearts? Why did a billion-dollar corporation decide to market a character embodying depression? And what does Gudetama’s appeal reveal about Japan’s culture?”
- Boyd McDonald had a passion, and that passion was publishing one of the best fucking gay-sex magazines ever to see a printing press: “He found his calling in the early 1970s after he got sober, dropped out of straight life, holed up in a New York City SRO, and began publishing the zine Straight to Hell, a compendium of real-life gay-sex stories that is still being published today, more than twenty years after his death. Though Straight to Hell was mainly composed of stories sent in by anonymous contributors, it was always inflected with McDonald’s own dexterous wit, radical politics, and unashamed obsession with the details of sex. Straight to Hell painted a world full of glory holes, where around every corner men were having every kind of sex. A reader once called it both ‘fantastic jerk-off material & consciousness-raising stuff.’ ”
- Then, on the other hand, there are teens. As if to take a perverse pride in the fact that nothing is sacred in this world, that no norm can go unchallenged, today’s teens have decided they no longer enjoy sex. “Noah Patterson, eighteen, likes to sit in front of several screens simultaneously: a work project, a YouTube clip, a video game. To shut it all down for a date or even a one-night stand seems like a waste. ‘For an average date, you’re going to spend at least two hours, and in that two hours I won’t be doing something I enjoy,’ he said … He has never had sex, although he likes porn. ‘I’d rather be watching YouTube videos and making money.’ Sex, he said, is ‘not going to be something people ask you for on your résumé.’ ”
July 21, 2016 | by Naomi Fry
In Brushes with Greatness, Naomi Fry writes about her relatively marginal encounters with celebrities.
In Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s oral history of punk, Please Kill Me, the ’70s LA groupie Sable Starr recounts the excitement she felt the first time she slept with David Bowie:
Upstairs at the Rainbow they have just like one table. Me and David were sitting there, with a couple of other people. And to have all your friends look up and see you—that was cool. That was really cool ... Back in the hotel we were sitting around. I had to go to the bathroom, and David came in and he had a cigarette in his hand and a glass of wine. And he started kissing me—and I couldn’t believe it was happening to me, because there had been Roxy Music and J. Geils, but David Bowie was the first heavy. So we went to the bedroom and fucked for hours, and he was great ... I became very famous and popular after that because it was established that I was cool. I had been accepted by a real rock star.
I’ve always loved this description because its sexiness sits very comfortably alongside its bluntness toward power grubbing. It’s really the perfect teenage fantasy: you’re having what appears to be very enjoyable sex with an extremely attractive person while simultaneously rising in the eyes of your peers thanks to the immutable laws of starfuckery. An inextricable part of sleeping with famous people is the encounter’s visibility to others, and the higher the celebrity’s rank on the fame totem pole, the better. It’s only science. Read More »