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Art: A Sex Book Paperback – October 27, 2003
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About the Author
With hits such as Hairspray, Pink Flamingos, Serial Mom and Pecker, John Waters - dubbed by William Burroughs 'the Pope of Trash' - has consistently shocked, outraged and amused film audiences around the world. He is about to start shooting a film about sex addicts. Bruce Hainley is the author of monographs on Christopher Makos and Tom Friedman and is a contributing editor of Artforum.
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But even if the illustrations bore you or turn you off (as many of them do me), you might still find the text--a series of dialogs between Waters and Bruce Hainley--to be of interest. He has some very interesting and worthwile things to say, and should not be totally dismissed by those who have other ideas about art or sex.
Their conversations introduce the reader to wide range of artists working in many different media, many of them well informed by LAs seedy past and gay culture.
For anyone looking for a sharp witty overview of the names to watch in contemporary art, this is incredibly accessible yet never dumbs down its subject.
The only problem? Now I want to collect works by everyone they described...
Overall, I didn't like it. It wasn't what I thought it was going to be and on that basis, I can't recommend it. I'll donate my copy of sell it on eBay. Again, where's the art? Where's the sex? It's basically garbage. I can't believe something like this gets published.
Check out the cover image. What you're looking at is a middle-school kid's drawing in a text book. "As a pre-pubescent, I just discovered that things can look like other things." This definitely sets the tone for the book.
For some reason, John Waters apparently decided to release a book. For some other reason, he called it "Art: A Sex Book". I don't know why; it contains very little of either.
Page 29 is a picture of a low, free-standing wall of a dark purple shade, in the middle of a cultivated lawn. That's it. Page 34 has a photo, from behind and to the side, of a girl sticking her tongue out at a power outlet. Page 37? A small raised platform on a wood floor with a mirror-paneled box on it. Page 53, books stacked like rectangular stone blocks. Page 48, a naked man lying on his back, spraying ink/paint/I-don't-want-to-know-what out of his .. Well, I can't say what, because while you can print a photo of that body part, to use its proper name appears to get your review rejected.
I'm particularly fond of the morbidly obese naked mother and daughter fondling themselves together on a couch. At least, the title is "Mother and Daughter on Couch". (And yes, I do get the idea of the "If you think you're sexy ..." concept. That isn't the predominant factor that makes me twitch at this image.) The nude man with his ankles tucked behind his head and "Molly Ringwald" written across his buttocks (with the "O" oh-so-cleverly drawn around his body-part-you-can-photograph-but-not-name) certainly inspires me. The airport runway with a police car, truck, and American Airlines jet liner really .. oh wait, it's supposed to be phallic imagery? How novel! I also found a high degree of eroticism in the art form of a person waddling while leaving a (apparently) world-record-making line of "waste matter" on a bowling lane. The one with a man stretching his loose-skin-containing-sensitive-male-components over a small dog's head leaves me wondering why I don't send money to PETA right away.
Is there ANY art or ANY sexually titillating imagery? To be sure. Somewhere between the scatological, the incestuous, the bestial, the degrading, the infantile, the bland... SOMEWHERE, tucked in amidst the death screams of trees wishing they were turned into political flyers instead of these pages, there are pictures of something qualifiable as "art". There are even a few erotic images, scattered here and there. And while I don't share the same interest in young males as our authors/compilers, even I can tell some of their pictures would be arousing and fascinating.
After flipping through this book, however, I have come to a particular conclusion. There is a large number of these images which are left named as "Untitled". And I really mean a LOT of them. It leaves me thinking that even the self-proclaimed artists themselves realize they're just BS'ing everyone. After all, why bother spending the time to come up with a name, or even pretend there's a deep and important meaning in the image, when as the creator you, too, think it's all just a scam.
I suppose if your tastes tend towards male eroticism, scatology, disturbing or just plain absurd imagery -- basically, if you actually get a thrill from stuff like Stile -- then this book belongs at your bedside. As for my copy, you'll find it on a Popular Second-Hand Website soon enough.