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Body Alchemy: Transsexual Portraits Paperback – October 16, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 100 pages
  • Publisher: Cleis Press; 1st edition (October 16, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573440620
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573440622
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 8.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,161,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The idea of gender is no long as fixed as it once was: Tootsie, La Cage aux Folles, and Milton Berle saw to that. But none of this has prepared us for Loren Cameron's amazing portraits of transsexuals. Beautifully reproduced and complemented with notes and short essays, these portraits of women who are now men may startle, but they will also make you marvel at the genuine complexities of life, sex, and desire. Body Alchemy might have been a curiosity, like Diane Arbus's photographs of those outside the physical and cultural mainstream, but Cameron's art is so empathetic, so precise, that we are left in awe and with a new understanding of the realities of being human.

Review

"Amazing..." -- The Advocate

"An irreplaceably valued documentation of a cultural moment" -- Diane Middlebrook, author, Anne Sexton: A Biography

"Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Dianne Arbus among many others have all trained their lenses on the transgendered figure. Never have the transgendered seriously photographed their own. Not until Loren Cameron, that is." -- Kate Bornstein, author, Gender Outlaw

"At just the moment postmodernism would have us believe there is nothing photography hasn't already shown us, Loren Cameron's images defy all expectations. Welcome to the future." -- Doug Nickel

"Cameron's strategy is to allow his subjects to speak for themselves, creating an informative and emotional document that is likely the first of its kind." -- Barbara DeGenevieve, Camerawork

"I was so drawn to Loren Cameron's photographs that I went to see the original exhibition on which the book is based several times. Like all good art it demystifies its subjects. Where other photographs of transgendered people, even those taken by talented outsiders, inevitably emphasize their 'otherness' and view them theatrically, Loren Cameron makes them seem so immediately familiar (even when the poses and nudity could seem, in other hands, shocking and confrontational). Perhaps because the subjects themselves are so comfortable with their own bodies and with the participant-observer, we are comfortable with tehm, too. No matter how distanced and detatched we may feel when we start to view these works, it is simply impossible to 'gawk' at them, to remove ourselves from the intimate experience we are witnessing." -- Richard M. Levine

"Loren Cameron's razor-sharp vision compels us to focus on the complex transition from which transsexual men emerge. Cameron's photographs are as exquisite as they are meaningful." -- Leslie Feinberg, author, Stone Butch Blues and Transgender Warriors

This collection of transsexual photos and interviews is not recommended for general library purchase, but any collection specializing in sexual/gender issues and any personal collector will find this a unique, intriguing survey of the transsexual experience. Anticipate graphic yet artistic black and white photos. -- Midwest Book Review

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 21 customer reviews
This book comes in a couple sections.
Jack Warlock
I recomend this book to anyone dealing with transgender issues- whether they be trans themself, a realtive or friend of a trans person, or just plain curious.
Yankee girl
These photos and stories are emotional and beautiful.
Anna OZ.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Yankee girl on November 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was one of the greatest gifts I have ever gotten myself. When I finished reading and looking at the beautiful photographs, I hugged the book to my chest.
This book not only told me thru writings but also showed me that I wasn't alone. This book meant the world to me as a bigendered female. I had only read about others transgender people, but had never seen anyone besides myself.
Thank you Mr.Cameron. :)
I recomend this book to anyone dealing with transgender issues- whether they be trans themself, a realtive or friend of a trans person, or just plain curious.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
Young isolated FTM guys... BUY THIS BOOK. The before and after portraits of the guys will comfort and inspire you like nothing else will. Transitioning can be done... There are others like you... and they look great!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By mosquito on March 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
I'm a minority. I am very much outside this book's intended audience, to say the least. I am a straight bio-male. And I can say without any homosexual tension, that Mr. Cameron you are built like a god.
The photos border on Arbus-esque but offer a more compassionate less spectacle treatment of the subjects. I guess that's a point well demontsrated when the phographer spends as much time in front of the camera as well as behind. You are more inclined to look at these unusual subjects with reverence not repulsion. The book overall is beautifully put toether. Sparse and poignantly so.
Now the "green with envy" part. Even if Cameron is 5'3", for me to stand next to him would be totally emasculating. There aren't a lot of "real" men out there who are willing to go out to the gym to look that ripped. I feel so flabby.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Knight on December 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book as a gift for a f2M friend of mine who drew a LOT of hope from it. Loren's camera and words have a strong impact. Understanding one's self, our true nature, is vital. Body Alchemy is a valuable lesson in that.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
A seminal book - a powerful photographic record of ftm transsexuals in society. This is the book that first made me acknowledge my own transsexualism - the mirror I had been looking for all my life. Cameron's photography, both of himself and others, is stark black and white imagery of the anger, pain and emergent joy associated with transition. A wide variety of men of different ages, backgrounds, jobs, families, apperance, likes and dislikes, all sharing one common thread. Text in the book is minimal but well written and apposite, autobiographically topped and tailed by Cameron. Includes some pictures of genital modification - very well received amongst the transmen I know as no-one else has ever compiled a readily available book showing what the results of these surgeries can look like. Fascinating, triumphant, joyful - this is the book that shows the liberating experience of finally becoming oneself after years trapped in the wrong body. Well done, Mr Cameron ! ! and thank you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 1998
Format: Paperback
"Body Alchemy" fills a much-needed niche in the word of transgender literature: a photography book dedicated to the female-to-male individual. It is also a very touching (no pun intended) portrait of it's author, Loren Cameron. Check out the book, of this wonderful FTM photographer.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Cameron has done something special for all FTMs. He has given us the hope and the realization that we can do it. We can look at those that went before us and know that we can become the person we are meant to be. This book is an inspiration, and it's so beautiful. I've looked at it so many times, and I never fail to feel the hope it brings to me.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. Ito on August 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
What can I say that hasn't already been said before?

The photography is beautiful, the subject is very well presented and the amount of courage to open up like this is unbelievable.

I would recomend this book to anyone interested in photography and/or transgender issues.
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