Erotic depictions of women in drawing, painting, sculpture and photography from the dawn of man to the present.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Venus Reprieved?

Thanks to whoever pointed out that Google have, apparently, reversed their decision to ban sexual images and graphic nudity (whatever that is) from Blogger.

They have stated:

Hello everyone, 

This week, we announced a change to Blogger’s porn policy. We’ve had a ton of feedback, in particular about the introduction of a retroactive change (some people have had accounts for 10+ years), but also about the negative impact on individuals who post sexually explicit content to express their identities. So rather than implement this change, we’ve decided to step up enforcement around our existing policy prohibiting commercial porn. Blog owners should continue to mark any blogs containing sexually explicit content as “adult” so that they can be placed behind an “adult content” warning page. Bloggers whose content is consistent with this and other policies do not need to make any changes to their blogs. Thank you for your continued feedback. 

 The Blogger Team

Well, while this seems, initially, good news for our Venus blogs, being an old cynic we will see how it pans out in reality.  We can't help thinking that there is a team at Blogger HQ working out how they can restrict things more than in the past and that this is just an interim climb-down.  Also we will need to see how the anti-erotica (how can anyone be anti-erotica?) brigade counter-attacks ,having been crowing with delight earlier in the week (yes, The Guardian newspaper we mean you). It seems, however, that now their primary targets are those blogs which post excerpts from videos and picture sets which link to commercial sites.  Triple P doesn't have any problems with this.  Their rules have always been that making money from adult content on Blogger wasn't allowed anyway.

A lot of what Blogger responded to was those who used "sexually explicit content to express their identities" meaning, we suppose people who have "alternative" sexual lives or interests.  Yes, Blogger, not everyone has sex in a family unit in order to, primarily, procreate.  Also, one commentator said on the Guardian website "why does anyone need porn?".  Well, erotica is designed to induce feelings of arousal.  This, we believe, is a good thing in itself.  Why do so many people look at porn?  Because they want to be aroused.  It's a nice feeling.  It does not, as the Daily Mail seems to think, then make you want to go out and rape people.  There is still this strange bracketing of "sex" and "violence" and anti-porn campaigners try and persuade people that porn and violence against women are synonymous.

There is another key issue and that is that many people do not have a sexual partner.  Not everyone is in a relationship.  Triple P knows several intelligent, well-off people who haven't had sex for decades or, even, at all.  There really is nothing wrong with them.  They don't look like trolls, they aren't weird they are just, in some cases, painfully shy and lack confidence in themselves sexually. For many people their only form of sexual arousal is, therefore, provided by erotica.  Now part of the demonisation of these people, of course, is caused by the peculiar attitudes to masturbation that exist, certainly, in the UK which are caused, in turn,  by the old-fashioned legacy of pronouncements by the church.  The message has, slightly changed from "this is wrong and will cause you physical harm" to a sort of "this is a bit tragic why haven't you got a partner like everyone else because you are encouraging the porn industry?"

Anyway. what concerns Triple P, still, is that even Blogger are calling this a change to their "porn policy" which makes no allowance for the many artistic nudes that are part of Venus Observations ambit.  While some of the images we use were originally produced as pornography we thing that much of what we feature was not.  Where, for example, would they classify sexually explicit drawings and paintings made by the likes of Jean-Adrien Mercier, Paul-Émile Bécat or the Japanese Shunga pictures we have featured in the past?  What about photographs of nudes by the likes of Sam Haskins?

Part of the issue, of course, is that, increasingly, all erotically stimulating material (and a lot that really isn't) is labelled "porn".  Which today basically means "something I don't like" or "something that demeans women" or "something that threatens our children's innocence".  So you have a a whole raft of pressure groups working together, whose views on many things do not mesh at all but who know what they don't like.

The purpose of these blogs (which we never imagined would be viewed by more than a few close friends) was always to celebrate sexuality and the beauty of the naked form.  We still don't think either of these things are rude, destructive or evil.  What we do think, increasingly, is that those who do want to enjoy these aspects of life are under increasing attack by those who espouse some of the views mentioned above.

We have recently been watching the fourth season of the excellent TV series Game of Thrones.  There were several pieces in the British press about lovely actress Nathalie Emmanuel because she appeared naked in a bathing scene.  Absolutely nothing about the appalling physical violence in the show ever seems to appear.  No, its all about sex and nudity, as that is much worse!

Oh, well.  One thing about this incident is that we have been very touched by the messages of support from our readers and the number of people who signed up to be members of the blogs if they went private.  Thank you all! Hopefully, we will now be able to continue as we were!

Monday, February 23, 2015

No More Venuses!

Triple P has just received the following email from Blogger.

In the coming weeks, we'll no longer allow blogs that contain sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video. We'll still allow nudity presented in artistic, educational, documentary or scientific contexts, or where there are other substantial benefits to the public from not taking action on the content. The new policy will take effect on 23 March 2015. After this policy comes into force, Google will restrict access to any blog identified as being in violation of our revised policy. No content will be deleted, but only blog authors and those with whom they have expressly shared the blog will be able to see the content that we've made private.

So, in essence, Google has surrendered to a minority of people who see sex and nudity as evil and something to be banned.  We will be unable to post any more in our Pubic Wars series or any other magazine pictorials.  Hopefully we will be able to continue to post images of art and, hopefully "artistic nude photography but the term "graphic nude images is terrible vague.  How do they define "graphic" and who defines it?

Google say there is a way to download your blog content but it doesn't work, needless to say. I am hoping to remove any "offensive" images from The Adventures of Triple P and Cavegirls in Fur Bikinis by the cut-off date to keep them going as they are.

We have set up a site "More Venus Observations" on which we will continue to post about art and art photography, if the ayatollahs at Google will let us.  

The really worrying this is, what is next?  Sexually explicit stories?  Any nudes? Anything else they don't like?  This is the sort of thing countries like Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia or China do.  

I believe that the blogs will not be deleted but will remain "private"  which means we can grant permission for individuals to see our blogs.  If you would like to continue to see our blogs after 28th March we will add your email address to the blog members list.  Please email Triple P at agenttriplep AT yahoo dot co dot uk.  If there are enough subscribers we might be able to continue blogging as a private members blog.

Update: 21 people have signed up so far!  More than enough for me to continue working on it!  Thank you all for your kind words of support!

For everyone else, thanks for your interest over the years.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Venus in Black Stockings 10: by Guy Bourdin for the 1980 Pentax Calendar

Our last Venus in Black Stockings featured the work of San Haskins who shot a lot of the Pentax calendars in the seventies and eighties.  However, although Haskins did most of them during this period, the 1980 edition was shot by French photographer Guy Bourdin (1928-1991). Bourdin was two years younger than Haskins but was just as influential (if not more) in the world of fashion photography.  He is less well known because of his aversion to publicity. A protégé of surrealist Man Ray his pictures often have a slightly strange eroticism.  A pioneer of using fashion photographs to tell a narrative (however inexplicable) here we have a naked girl in stockings lounging on an inflatable ring and holding a rose in her gloved hand.

There is an exhibition of his work on in London at present so Triple P will go along to see it and we will no doubt have more Bourdin in due course.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Venus in a Vest 6: Priscilla Wright

We usually prefer our Venuses in white vests but there is nothing wrong with the odd splash of colour once in a while, so here is Playboy Playmate of the Month for March 1966 Priscilla White in a green one.  

Alright, it might be more in the nature of a sleeveless jumper but the effect is just as delicious thanks to her perky points.

We have featured Miss Wright before but have just expanded her post to include all the pictures of this lovely girl (including these) we could find.  Originally the post was a "Venus by Request" but now we have made it part of our main centrefold series.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentines Day!

Big day for florists

Now an excuse for shops to try and shift anything red or pink in the dead retail season between Christmas and Easter, we have Chaucer to thank for all the romantic aspects of the festival but the giving of cards, flowers and confectionery, in Britain at least, goes back to the eighteenth century.

We hope, that if you have a loved one (or two or three) you get some special time with them today.  If not, perhaps you should eelebrate the fact that you don't have to spend a lot of money on them and get something nice for yourself!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Centrefold Venus of the Month 69: Amy Channing, February 1976

Well, shockingly, we have decided to post a centrefold girl from the actual month we are in.  We still have a lot of holes that need filling (so to speak) but at least this one stops the backlog getting worse.  In fact we have thirteen centrefolds to post to get up to date but we will have a good go over the next month and are already well on the way with January's

It's back to February 1976 for this one and Men Only, which was always our favourite of the UK magazines.  This comes from a transitional period as regards pictures in men's magazines in Britain.  Initially led by Penthouse, but pushed by Fiesta as well, in 1976 the UK magazines had started to show explicit shots of the models' vulva which had actually been re-touched up until this point.  These came in gradually, with just an occasional pictorial in each issue.  In this magazine most of the girls were just as they would have been in 1972 but Amy's was the most explicit in the issue.

Initially we see Amy (we have been unable to find anything out about the model) behind a stand of leaves in a very Penthouse-style voyeur shot.  As was becoming more common at the time, her fingers are down at her pussy.

More palm frond foreground foliage in this one but also the first proper look at Amy's striking above the knee socks.  These really are the distinctive feature of the pictorial and are the main reasons that Triple P responds to it so well.

We've always had a thing for girls in long socks and, like stockings, it is all about the tactile experience of contrasting texture but that tactile experience is even more pronounced with woollen socks.  We had a girl friend, about four years after this pictorial came out, who had long woolen socks which she held up with a suspender belt.  Were they stockings or socks?  We spent many happy hours exploring them without reaching any clear conclusion.  Suffice to say that if the lady stripped of all her other clothes we would insist on her retaining her socks.

The final shots in the pictorial feature actual stockings but with nicely retro garters.  Amy also displays the hint of a smile, which is always alluring.

This final shot from the Men Only pictorial has her boldly displaying her rear end at a time when shots of the models' anuses were very unusual.  So we get just eight shots of Amy for her centrefold feature.

Fortunately, we get another dose of Amy, as the following month she was also the centrefold in the US Club magazine, which re-used Men Only pictorials but often included some rather more explicit shots.

The first shot in the US pictorial was exactly the same as in the UK magazine.  However, the second photograph, while also being a shot of Amy in the chair taken through the palm fronds from the same place, has her displaying not only her labia but her anus too.  The innocent finger in her mouth mirrors the questing finger of the other hand delving down towards her vulva.  It is a classic example of the more explicit shots shown in Club.

The next picture was also new for the US magazine, although this time her hand is confined to her stomach; with only the tip of one finger grazing her curls.  It's a nice contemplative shot and also gives us our first unobscured shot of Amy's splendid bust.

This one is similar (but flipped) to one in the Men Only pictorial, where she has one stripey leg up in the wicker chair.  She has another nice expression here and is showing a bit more than in the UK feature.

As we shall see, Club went for a different centrefold pictue from Men Only but they still used the UK centrefold shot in the pictorial, although slightly less cropped.

Another, and final, shot of Amy in her striped socks was this one of her boldly displaying herself, contrasting with the "innocent" finger in the lips pose again.  Too assertive for the UK at this point in time.  She has a beguiling quality to her eyes.

Amy gets one more picture than in the Men Only pictorial but apart from the centrefold and the title shot they are all different.   This is similar to her UK rear end shot but is flipped and she displays herself slightly more.  

The final shot before the centrefold is Amy's most assertive with her touching herself above her slightly gaping vaginal entrance and displaying one of the boldest arsehole shots to appear in the magazine so far.  Many more rear ends would feature in Club over the next few years, as they became the most bottom focussed of the major men's magazines on sale in the US.

Finally we have the different centrefold shot and the only picture of her in black stockings. She really is a very lovely girl and it is a shame she didn't appear in more magazines that we could find.  Definitely one of Triple P's favourite Men Only girls of the seventies and a great set by Clive McLean from just before he left for America to work with James Baes on Hustler.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Venus in Black Stockings 9: Gillian Tanner by Sam Haskins (1928-2009)

Someone commenting on our recent Lucien Clergue post mentioned the great photographer Sam Haskins, whose name we had completely forgotten, so we thought we would correct this omission forthwith.  Triple P remembers the name in conjunction with pictures from his Asahi Pentax calendars, that appeared in Amateur Photographer in the seventies and eighties.

This striking image features Gillian Tanner and comes from his breakthrough 1962 photographic book Five Girls.  Haskins was born in South Africa in 1928. Despite a teenage fascination with the circus he took arts and photographic courses at Johannesburg Technical College.

Starting his career as an advertising photographer in 1953 he had his first one man show in a Johannesburg department store in 1960.  The following year he shot the pictures for Five Girls, one of whom was a teenage art student Gillian Tanner, who just turned up at his studio one day, and demonstrated a natural affinity for the camera.

Five Girls was a hugely influential book of nude photography, not just because of the style of the pictures but also the design of the book.  It certainly influenced many other photographic nude books including Wingaite Paine's The Mirror of Venus.

Five Girls was originally turned down by dozens of publishers and it was only through the hard work of Haskins' wife Alida, who acted as his manager throughout his career, that it was eventually published.

Playboy April 1963

The book was an instant hit, although not in Haskin's or Tanner's native South Africa where it was banned.  Playboy, forever on the look out for a lovely girl, featured a shot of Gill by Haskins in their April 1963 issue in their Girls of Africa pictorial.  Gill was a big a hit in the magazine.  

Playboy August 1963

The letters page of the July issue featured Don Coviello of the University of Connecticut writing: "We love her, we love her, we love her, we love her, we love her, we love her.  More, please."  James Foltz, strangely also of Connecticut, wrote: "The magnificent picture of Gillian Tanner is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in your marvelous publication."

Playboy August 1963

Playboy promised that Gill would return in August and, indeed she did, in a full pictorial  by Haskins.  In the Playbill section of the magazine that month they wrote that Gill was the "most popular of The Girls of Africa, photographed in a five-page photographic encore herein in response to reader raves." 

Playboy August 1963

In the text accompanying the pictorial they wrote that the "lion's share of praise was dedicated to a comely South African miss named Gillian Tanner."  "Bravo for enthroning this African queen," Playboy claimed one admirer had written and "we have never seen such a beautiful creature." said another.

Playboy August 1963

The article revealed that she was not a professional model but now, at nineteen she was working as a commercial artist for a department store and that she was 5' 10" tall.

Playboy August 1963

More appreciative letters appeared about Gill in October's Playboy.  "She is an unusually provocative creature of rare beauty and has been portrayed with sensitivity and taste," wrote Charlie Mayes of Texas, before asking who the photographer was.  Haskin's name had appeared in the August issue but only in tiny type on the credits page and not in the article itself.

Playboy August 1963

David Yetman, of North Carolina, wrote: "Your delightful pictorial portrayal of this charming miss has suddenly thrown the old adage, "the bigger the bust the better the broad," into hopeless obsolescence."  We couldn't agree with Mr Yetman more; shape being more important than size and Miss Tanner having a beautifully shaped, perfectly perky bust.

Playboy August 1963

Despite her nice bust and cute dimples it's that full-lipped mouth, beautiful face and enticing eyes that make Miss Tanner so desirable.   Five Women was, apparently, very popular with American troops heading off to Vietnam.

Coming full circle, we return to an image of Gill in her black stockings (or socks; there seems to be some disagreement).  In 2008 a band called The Last Shadow Puppets produced an album called The Age of the Understatement and used one of Haskins' images of Gill on the cover.   The group was one of those composite ones formed from the members of other groups.  Alex Turner of The Arctic Monkeys was behind it and it was his then girlfriend Alexa Chung, who chose the image for the cover.  Chung is one of those women who the press claim is famous without it being very clear as to what she actually does apart from being a clothes horse.  Still, we can't fault her taste in retro pictures.  

This picture of Gill, also from Five Girls, was used on the cover of a single from the album.  The success of the album, which went to number one in the UK, rekindled interest in Gill, who, it turned out was a full time artist and grandmother still living in South Africa.  She must be over seventy by now but her image as a gamine teenager lives on as one of the lesser known style icons of the early sixties, thanks to Sam Haskins' luminous photography.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Aquatic Venus 2: Née de la Vague by Lucien Clergue (1934-2014)

On our post on The Mirror of Venus back in December someone suggested a post on the book Née de la Vague (Born of the Wave) by French photographer Lucien Clergue, who died last month at the age of 80.  Coincidentally, Triple P was watching an episode of one of his favourite TV programmes, Great Contenental Railway Journeys,  a few days after this comment was left and presenter Michael Portillo visited Arles and actually interviewed an obviously ailing Clergue in his final months.  This was too much of a coincidence to ignore so in this post we will look at  pictures from Clergue's 1968 book Née de la Vague.

The book has  nearly 100 pages and is made up of photographs of female nudes photographed on the coast of the Camargue in the South of France.  There is no text at all.  It opens with a series of pictures of waves crashing on the shore with no figures in sight.

The first figure is almost invisible behind the flying sea foam; literally emerging from the water and the page as a shadowy shape.  Shape is absolutely what this book and, indeed Clergue's photography of women generally, is about.

These really are, appropriately for this blog, Venuses emerging from the waves.  The faces of his models are never visible; their bodies become abstract shapes.

Now, not photographing their faces makes his studies completely about bodies  and is really the ultimate objectification of the female body.  His figures become sculptural forms and the black and white photography, which removes any skin colour, means that they merge with their backgrounds; both emerging from and becoming part of their watery element like Ancient Greek water nymphs.

While the lack of faces works to make the bodies splendidly abstracted forms Clergue admitted that he partly didn't how the girls' faces because they were mostly friends of his and they wanted to remain anonymous.

Although the book was published in 1968, many of the pictures were taken four years earlier than that, when the attitudes to nudity, even in France, were very different.

These are some of several shots in the book of a girl with unshaven armpits. Some giels, if you look carefully, have unshaven legs too.  It is difficult to know how many different models Clergue employed for the photographs in the book.  Probably today they would have been named but again, these girls were likely amateurs not professionals.

Although there are some particularly outstanding busts on display Clergue doesn't ignore the contours of his models' bottoms either.  His models are all remarkably curvy; their ripe forms emphasised by the way the sunlight strikes their wet bodies.

Clergue was born in Arles in 1934 and after his parents divorced worked at his mother's grocery shop where one of his jobs was making deliveries, including to the local brothels.  It was these visits, he later said, that opened his eyes to the allure of women.

Clergue was a keen violinist but he couldn't afford to continue his studies and took up photography instead.  As a nineteen year old he was taking pictures at a local bullfight when he ran into Pablo Picasso, who lived nearby.  Picasso saw something in his work and asked to see more, encouraging Clegue to devote the next year and a half to his photography so as to be able to present a strong portfolio to the artist.

Clergue remained friends with Picasso for twenty years until the artist's death in 1973.  Picasso also introduced him to Max Ernst and Jean Cocteau.  His early work featured the characters who inhabited that part of Provence, bullfighters, acrobats and gypsies.  His portraits of gypsy flamenco guitarist Manitas de Plata helped contribute to his fame in the sixties.

Clergue consciously modelled the approach to his nudes on that of Edward Weston but developed his own distinctive, easily recognisable style.  He carried on photographing nudes on the beach in the Camargue until the end of his life.

Some way through the book, in keeping with its theme of emerging from the waves ,Clergue presents the first photographs of his models' pubic hair.  Initially no more than an enticing texture, barely showing through the bubbles of foaming water, gradually this still, at the time, very forbidden area makes its appearance.

After their brief time on shore it is as if, like mermaids, the women must return to their element.  Having fully revealed their bodies to us they must disappear once more until they emerge to be re-born again in the future.  We anticipate their return with relish.

At the end of the book the bodies, mirroring the opening gradually, disappear in a show of light, shade and texture.  The final shot of a woman is just her shadow, a memory of a corporeal presence to be replaced by just the waves on the sand.

More aquatic Venuses by Clergue another time.