I don’t know what it is about abandoned buildings – the older the better – that gets my imagination fired up, but its seems I’m not alone in my fascination. Who doesn’t love those renovation shows where hidden rooms are discovered in historic, long-abandoned houses? I adore George Clarke’s Restoration Man.
Recently, while researching the setting for my latest story ‘Pokerface’ I found this glorious old theatre on YouTube.
This one is much larger than the one in my story, which is host to an underground poker game with an unusual prize, but the atmosphere and decor is perfect!
PS See my last post if you’d like to read more about ‘Pokerface’
And if you’re looking for it at one of the many ebook retailers, click on the cover:
I’m still watching the Hugh Hefner Story (boy, is it in-depth!) The latest episode, dealing with the ‘Pubic War’ between Playboy and Penthouse magazines during the 1960s and 70s (and Playboy’s first full frontal nude centrefolds) got me thinking…
Seeing all that rampant pubic hair can be a bit confronting in these times of brazillian waxes and careful pubic grooming. How times have changed since that first risque centerfold in relation to pubic hair and our preferences.
As always, I had fun Googling this and found a fabulous article. Apparently there is a hardcover book with every one of the 734 centerfolds, and someone wrote about perusing them all in one sitting!
“The most obvious signifier of the passage of time, and the thing every person has asked about when I’ve mentioned this book, is pubic hair. For the first two decades of centerfolds, there was none at all because it was obscured by strategically placed pillows, undergarments, or even roomy-cut khakis. Bits of hair didn’t start peeking out until around 1972, but by the mid-’70s, bushy vulvas were showing up in almost every photo. A decade later, hairstylists started to groom the puffs, though it wasn’t until the mid-’90s that what’s now known as a “landing strip” hit the runway. The relative newness of the thing about 84 percent of women now do to their genitals was a life-affirming revelation for this millennial, who suffered puberty in the aughts, or as Maureen Gibbon’s essay in The Complete Centerfolds dubs it, “the decade of the smoothie.” After enduring the entirely bare, child-like crotches of the 2010s, flip back to July 1977, where one magnificent image of pubic hair straight-up poking out of a butt crack will restore your internal calm.
“But for all the differences that emerge while flipping through generations of nudies, the similarities stand out far more. After looking at 734 photos of naked women, one can’t help but conclude that the human body has some very strict limitations and the human mind lacks any substantial creativity when it comes to sexy poses. There are only so many ways to slightly part a set of lips, only so many ways to mimic the act of putting clothes on or taking them off, getting in or out of a body of water, and stepping onto or off of a surface that looks reasonably prepared to support sexual intercourse.”
I particularly loved this comment, which reflects the theme of most of my short stories:
“The effect is a creeping feeling that any place can be a sexual place, and any activity a woman does—even those performed in the course of her job—can be a sexual activity. Playing golf, taking your order at a diner, exercising on a Stairmaster, applying a lure to a fishing rod, cuddling with akitten, delivering the nightly news at a TV station—if you look hard enough, with a few years of Playboy centerfolds filed away in your brain, these everyday pursuits are actually a kind of foreplay. That cyclist lady is naked underneath her flannel, you know.”
What I Learned By Looking at 734 Playboy Centerfolds in One Sitting Christina Cauterucci
The French are known for their enjoyment of all things sensual – food, wine, art, sex… and its not only a recent phenomena. Some of the most daring, expressive and indulgent creations originated in historical France. Poets, writers, artists, chefs… and magazine publishers.
I love browsing through the titillating old covers of La Vie parisienne (the Parisian Life) magazine. Founded in 1863, it was published without interruption until 1970. When the magazine changed hands in 1905, the new editor Charles Saglio changed its format to suit the modern reader, transforming it from a general arts magazine into a mildly risqué erotic publication.
I imagine one of the main attractions for readers were the covers and full page color illustrations by popular Art Nouveau and Art Deco illustrators of the time such as George Barbier, Chéri Herouard, Georges Léonnec and Maurice Milliere.
If you like a your art a little bit naughty, you can immerse yourself in one of the largest collections of La Vie parisienne magazine artwork in the UK at The Advertising Archives
I had the privilege this weekend to view some beautiful paintings, including a striking and sensual work in pastel, by artist Kate Smith. The local gallery I visited is a feast for the senses, with a lush garden outside and eclectic décor inside, but this one piece captured my imagination.
My attention was initial drawn by the jewelry, makeup and hairstyle, so richly evocative of the Jazz Age (my favorite historically period) but it was captured by the sensuality of her expression and pose.
“Master pastellist Kate Smith has for years been famed for her depiction of fascinating women. In this captivating piece, Kate conveys the sensuality of womanhood … The soft pastel medium is skilfully blended so that the rich chocolate tones in the background meld into the soft mauves and purples of the drapes that gently flow over and caress the model’s body. The provocative placement of a long strand of pearls over the woman’s breast enhances her sensuality…” Tiffany Jones, fine Art Consultant.
Slow and sensual in a sun-dappled park; enthusiastic and artless on the banks of the Seine; fast and furious down a cobbled lane-way … Paris is the ideal place for kissing, and has been for decades (or centuries?)
There are many gorgeous images of passion in Paris, captured on paper, canvas, or through the lens of a camera, but there is one that—for me—captures the essence of the City of Love.
Le Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville (The Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville) was taken by the great French photographer Robert Doisneau. It’s a photograph of a couple kissing, in the midst of a crowd. The image was captured on the corner of rue du Renard and rue de Rivoli, across from the town hall, in the Spring of 1950.
Doisneau’s pictures made the private and the personal visible, focusing on people to make a connection with the viewer. There is an excellent article about how he used friends and actors as models, in response to privacy laws (yes, even back in the 1950’s).