Erotic Arts Facts
Oldest sex manual
The oldest sex manuals in the world can be traced to China, more than two and a half thousand years before the birth of Christ. Huang-Ti (2697-2598 B.C.), the legendary Yellow Emperor, has been regarded as the originator of the traditional sex practices and beliefs. The ancient "Handbooks of Sex," composed nearly five thousand years ago, anticipate anything produced in the West by well over two thousand years.
Most famous sex manual in Rome
Ovid wrote his "Ars Amatoria" (The Art of Love) about the time of Christ. One writer (H. Montgomery Hyde in "A History of Pornography") has characterised the book as an "immoral book" representing the art of love as "the adulterer's art rather than the husband's art." Renaissance humanists praised the book. It begins with the words - "If anyone among this people know not the art of loving let him read my poem and having read be skilled in love. By skill swift ships are sailed and rowed, by skill nimble chariots are driven: by skill must love be guided."
Most prolific Chinese writers
In the Eastern Han Dynasty (A.D. 25-220), a group of Taoist philosophers created Yin Taoism, firmly rooted in the importance of human sexual expression. This school of Taoists wrote volume after volume of sex manuals including "Su Nu Ching" (Manual of Lady Purity), "Yu Fang Mi Chueh" (Secret Codes of the Jade Room) the "Art of the Bedchamber" and "Yu Fang Chih Yao" (Important Guidelines of the Jade Room). To give their works authority and to exert influence on the emperors the Yin Taoists attributed the key points in their manuals to Huang Ti (the Yellow Emperor) and the ancient authority Peng Tsu who was said to have lived to 800 years of age.
Oldest Indian sex manual
The oldest and best known Indian sex manual is the "Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana", written about 1500 years ago. It has been pointed out that this comprehensive volume summarised many earlier writings on sexual topics dating back as much as three thousand years. The first English edition of the "Kama Sutra" was privately printed in 1883; the Indian "Ananga-Ranga" (or "The Stage of Love", also known as "Kamaled-hiplava" or "A Boat in the Ocean of Love") was translated into English ten years before the "Kama Sutra". This latter, more important work, is the first full manual from India devoted exclusively to the subject of human sexuality and in particular to the relationships between the sexes.
First Indian sex manual translated into English
The "Ananga-Ranga", published three quarters of the way through the nineteenth century, was to have appeared as "The Kama Sutra", or "The Hindoo Art of love". Alas, the printer, after reading the galleys, lost his nerve and refused to go on with the job. A consequence is that the proof copies in existence are extremely rare. Arbuthnot and Richard Burton translated the "Ananga-Ranga" - which was not written by a holy man (as was the 'Kama Sutra") but by a poet named Kalyana Mall. It has been published into many languages under a variety of titles "The Pleasures of Women", "The Form of the Bodiless One" "The Writ of Desire", etc.
Most important sex manual in mediaeval India
In the words of one jacket blurb: the "Koka Shastra" (Trans. A. Comfort, Allen & Unwin, 1964) and its associated texts are to mediaeval literature what the "Kama Sutra" was to ancient. When Kokkoka turned in the twelfth century to the themes of love and sex the move was audacious: for a thousand years the "Kama Sutra" representing the summed wisdom of earlier times, had been supreme. What more was there to say? Mediaeval India was different to the India of Vatsyayana. "A new approach was needed yet the early pages suggest that we are reading a new abridgement of the classic work, a sibling rather than a sequel." And Kokkoka frequently expresses his debt to the earlier master. The abiding value of the Sanskrit texts, as of many other ancient works, is the positive attitude to human sexuality.
First manual to deduce sexual attributes from a woman's face
According to "Yu Fang Mi Chueh" ("Secret Codes of the Jade Room"), a Taoist sex manual written not long after the birth of Christ, it is possible to judge a woman's sexual features by scrutinising her face"A woman with a small mouth and short fingers has a shallow porte feminine and she is easy to please. You can be sure that a woman must have big and thick labia if she has a big mouth and thick lips. If she has deep-set eyes, her porte feminine is bound to be deep too... if a woman has a pair of big, sparkling eyes, her porte feminine is narrow at its entrance, and yet roomy in the inner part... A woman with two dimples is tight and narrow down below..." etc., etc. It is interesting to note that some of the superstitions of ancient Chinese are current in modern Western society.
Highest circulation sex manual
In this permissive age it may come as a surprise to many that perhaps the best selling sex technique book of them all was first published in 1926. Written simultaneously in Dutch and German, and quickly translated into many languages, "Ideal Marriage" by Theodoor Hendrik van de Velde (1873-1937) went through forty-two printings in Germany alone between 1926 and 1932: it was suppressed in 1933 when Hitler came to power. By the 1970s the English translation, published by William Heinemann in 1930, had gone through forty-three printings totalling an estimated 700,000 copies. In America more than half-a-million hardcover copies had been sold between 1945 and 1970; a revised edition was published in 1965.
Most comprehensive modern manual
The most comprehensive of modern sex manuals is "The Joy of Sex" by Alex Comfort. A subtitle on the book is "A Gourmet Guide to Love Making." Thirty two colour prints are included and more than a hundred black and white illustrations. In The Washington Post Anthony Storr rather pompously remarked that ". . . the illustrations, of which there are many are frankly beautiful and entirely lack that kind of surreptitious, suggestive titillation that characterises pornography."
First expose of sex in the confessional
The Roman Catholic confessional has often intrigued those who have little or no experience of it and some of those who have an intimate acquaintance with the device. From time to time exposes have appeared of what actually takes place in the confessional; after all, in more dissolute times the confessional was used by randy priests as a means of recruiting likely women. In the nineteenth century a number of publications, mostly of poor quality, appeared claiming to reveal what went on in nunneries, monasteries and the confessional. One such was the "Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk": the author claimed to have been a nun in the Hotel Dieu in Montreal. Her disclosures, first printed in New York in 1836, were reprinted again and again in the U.S. and Europe and by 1851 more than a quarter of a million copies of the book were in circulation. A leading Catholic called the book "blasphemous fiction" and it was mentioned during debates in Parliament. In 1874 a certain Father Chiniquy published a book called "The Priest, The Woman, and the Confessional:" harrowing accounts were given of sex in the confessional. A more sensational book had appeared in London ten years earlier - "The Confessional Unmasked: showing the Depravity of the Romish Priesthood, the iniquity of the Confessional and the Questions Put to Females in Confession."
Largest sex book collections
There are sex books and sex books! There is all the difference between a piece of cheap nineteenth-century pornography and a detailed research publication in sexology. Prudes have often failed to make a distinction, and when a distinction has been attempted it has often been bogus. The biggest sex book collections in the world contain all types of sexual literature - from the simply titillating to the driest scholarly tome. The leading sex institutes associated with the names of Bloch, Hirschfeld, etc. - all had associated libraries. The Kinsey Institute (more properly The Institute for Sex Research) has around 20,000 books of all sorts as does the British Museum. According to H. Montgomery Hyde, the Vatican Library tops them all with something like 25,000 volumes.
Sex book: Longest title
We have already met a number of book titles that seem needlessly lengthy. The longest I have come across is the one by Schurig (it is apparently typical of his book titles in general) MULIEBRIA Historico-Medica, hoc est Partium Genitalium Muliebrium Consideratio Physico-Medico-Forensis, qua Pudendi Muliebris Partes tam externae, quam internae, scilicet Uterus cum Ipsi Annexis Ovariis et Tubis Fallopianis, nec non Varia de Clitoride et Tribadismo de Hymen et Nymphotomania seu Feminarum Circumsisione et Castratione selectis et curiosis observationibus traduntur. A. D. Martino Schurigio, Physico Dresdensi... MDCCXXIX. After which you may feel there is little point in reading the book!
Largest human penis in fiction
In fiction and legend the human penis can be any size. Malinowski wrote of the Legend of Inuvayla'u, who was the head of his clan and possessed of a remarkably long organ. When the women of the tribe were cleaning the ground or weeding he would stand behind a fence and push his penis through a convenient aperture. It would wriggle along the ground like a snake, and when the women went bathing the penis would chase them through the water like an eel. Eventually he left the village, before he went cutting off his penis and testicles: they turned to stone as they fell. The testicles can still be seen, as large round boulders; and the glans penis is a pointed helmet-shaped piece of coral. In the "Arabian Nights" many vast organs are paraded. In one of the stories there is a description of a zabb, "as great as an ass's or an elephant's, a powerful sight to see." In another of the stories a man is able to wish for a large penis, whereupon the zabb grew enormously until it resembled a calabash lying between two pumpkins. The weight was so great that the poor fellow could no longer stand. And at a more mundane level we have the straightforward exaggerations common in pornographic fiction of all ages. In de Sade's "The 120 Days of Sodom" Hercule boasts a 13 in. long penis. In Chinese fiction there are similarly impressive items of equipment, with organs invariably described as of "incredible length," "bigger than a sea cucumber" or "too thick to be encircled by a lady's fingers." The hardness of such monsters was comparable to that of an iron post, and such organs could support, when erect, a bushel of wheat hung from the end!
Earliest penis transplant in fiction
In a seventeenth-century Chinese tale Jou-pu-t'uan, there is an account of a penis transplant, or, perhaps more accurately, a penis graft. A Scholar inquires of the Master of Medicine how a gigantic organ can be acquired. One technique, as carefully explained, is to make use of the erect organ of a dog. It is arranged for the dog and bitch to copulate; in the midst of the act the Master of Medicine cuts off the penis of the dog and, slicing it up, inserts the parts into the incised organ of the man requiring a larger member-"With luck, there will be a perfect grafting of man and dog."
Most frequent male orgasm in fiction
Some literary accounts of sexual experience may or may not be true. It is not a field where men are apt to be modest. Boswell gives us a nice account in his "London Journal". In one encounter, which took place with Louisa on 12 January 1763, he was "fairly lost in supreme rapture" no less than five times, and the worthy Louisa declared him a prodigy. Atkins suggests that "Boswell was probably truthful."
Debate about frequency of orgasm often centres on six or seven times as remarkable. In literature there are many examples around such figures - in Teleny, "As true votaries of the Grecian god, we poured out seven copious libations to Priapus." In Catullus, a bigger figure is mentioned
...and bid some servant bar the door;
and don't rush out to call or shop,
but nicely wait for what I'll bring,
and then - nine hugs without a stop!
And Ovid, though growing old, managed it nine times with Corinna - but he is not at all satisfied. In de Sade's Juliette, Minsky never goes to bed without first discharging ten times ("It is a fact that the inordinate amount of human flesh I eat contributes greatly to the augmentation and thickening of my seminal fluid"). Such men are weaklings compared with the performers of Arab and Japanese legend. In the "Arabian Nights" one man manages to make love forty times in one night; Japanese sexual athletes are similarly insatiable. And there is a pleasant little joke I cannot resist including - An English sailor got into an argument with a Chinese sailor in Shanghai, each boasting how many times he could do it. They decided to put the matter to the test. Each took a girl to bed. The Englishman performed once, then again, and finally - with difficulty for he had drunk too much - a third time. He marked each one on the wall with an upright stroke. In the morning the exhausted Chinese crawled into his room. He looked at the Englishman's tally and exclaimed - "One hundred and eleven ! Beaten by one, by God!"
Most prolific sex translator
Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-87) was one of the most accomplished and many sided men of the nineteenth century. As well as being a man of action (explorer, swordsman, etc.) he possessed immense intellectual ability - as ethnologist, linguist, poet, amateur botanist, zoologist, and geologist. He published forty-three volumes describing his travels, two volumes of poetry, and more than one hundred articles. In particular he translated sixteen volumes of the "Arabian Nights", six volumes of Portuguese literature, two volumes of Latin poetry, four volumes of folklore (Neapolitan, African and Hindu), etc. In the words of his (perhaps) most skilful biographer (F. M. Brodie, "The Devil Drives") ". .. Burton was no ordinary translator; the inflexible integrity, brilliance, and vigour of his translations are an index to the man himself. One stands in awe of the ease with which he moved from Hindustani for his "Pilpay's Fables" and "Vikram and Vampire" - to Portuguese for his "Camoens" and "Lacerda" - to Arabic for the "Arabian Nights" and the "Perfumed Garden" - to Neapolitan Italian for his "II Pentamerone" - to Sanscrit for his "Kama Sutra" and "Ananga Ranga", and to Latin for his "Priapeia" and "Catullus"."
Foremost 16th century erotic writer
Pietro Aretino has been termed the "greatest erotic writer in Christendom." Perhaps his most famous work is the "Ragionamenti", partly biographical. Aretino was active as a writer for more than forty years, during which time he produced poetry and pornography, plays and theological works, lives of the saints and lampoons on the living. He was a friend of Michelangelo and Titian. He talked with popes. He has been depicted as "the Renaissance counterpart of Petronius in the ancient world, or of the Marquis de Sade in the period of European revolution."
Most famous French erotic novel apart from de Sade
The most famous erotic novel in the French language, apart from those of the Marquis, is "Gamiani", attributed to Alfred de Musset. This book, hardly heard of in modern England, went through forty one editions before 1930. In one preface it is claimed that the author wrote it to prove that an erotic novel could be written without resort to "coarse" words. The theme in "Gamiani" - the title is from the surname of the heroine- is largely lesbian. A young man inadvertently witnesses a lesbian scene, whereupon he comes out of the cupboard and joins in. Most of the book is occupied with the ensuing love triangle. One scene has Gamiani climbing onto the erection of a just hanged man. The plot ends with the two lesbians taking poison and experiencing orgasm and death simultaneously. A happy tale.
Most famous erotic novel
"Fanny Hill" wins this one hands down. Henry Cleland's "Fanny Hill or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure" was first published in London in 1749. The author sold it for twenty guineas to a bookseller, who is said to have made ?10,000 from it. The book was quickly translated into several European languages. The style of the book is simple and artless, and "obscene" words are avoided by means of circumlocution and euphemism. The theme is straightforward to the point of cliche: a young innocent girl journeys to the big city and finds herself in a brothel, whereupon she quickly falls in love with one of the clients. The book ends with a happy marriage. "Fanny Hill" has been represented as the first truly erotic novel, and as providing useful insights into brothel-life in eighteenth-century London. Like all similar famous books of the genre, it has been prosecuted and praised.
First erotic book in Christian Europe
According to one authority, the first book of purely or mainly erotic content to be published in Christian Europe was the "Hermaphrodite" of Antonio Beccadelli, written in 1426. The Latin text was reissued in 1892 with a French translation by Isidore Liseux, the scholarly French publisher of erotica and the literature of love. Beccadelli, who wrote under the name of Panormita, was one of the group of men later called humanist; he modelled much of his work on the writings of the poets of antiquity. Wayland Young suggests that Beccadelli, like Martial, was half fascinated and half disgusted "by women and fucking."
Most uninhibited sexual autobiography
"My Secret Life" by "Walter" is the most candid sexual autobiography in existence. For a start there are no diversions: the work is all sex. In Casanova's "Memoirs" there are many asides, about gambling or magic or some such; and Frank Harris has given us a travelogue as well as an account of personal sexual experience. The 4000-odd pages of "My Secret Life" deal with nothing other than the sexual activities, enjoyments, frustrations, and insights of the author, in this sense the work is unique.
Most expensive sexual autobiography
Walter deserves another superlative! The full eleven volumes of "My Secret Life" are extremely rare, a real collector's item. What the work would cost today, if it were available is anybody's guess, but a copy is supposed to have been sold in 1926 for no less than seven thousand dollars.
Fashion: First brassieres
It all depends what you mean ... In various parts of ancient Greece the brassiere, in one form or other, was employed; paradoxically, in view of the free attitudes towards mixed nudity, naked athletics and the like, brassieres have been associated with the ancient inhabitants of Sparta. They were also used in China and elsewhere. The now almost extinct ancient Chinese brassiere has been likened to a small apron, introduced by Yang Kwei-fei, a concubine of Emperor Hsuan Tsung of T'amg in the eighth century. In fact the charming creature only decided on the creation of a "brassiere" to cover bites made by an "illegitimate" lover.
First topless dresses
The topless dress fashion of a few years ago may have seemed like a new thing. It wasn't. In fact an early purpose of the corset was to show as much of the breast as possible. As early as 1388, Johann de Mussi, a Lombard author, wrote "Women show their breasts and it looks as if their breasts would wish to jump from their bosom". And he adds, reflectively, "Which gown would be beautiful if it did not show the breasts?" The beautiful Agnes Sorel (1409-1450) was said to display her shoulders and breasts, including the nipples. The early Christian Church termed the laced openings to women's bodices "the gates of hell". By the fifteenth century much of the breast was again being shown; and in James l's time young unmarried women displayed the whole of their breasts. John Hill, a sixteenth-century poet comments "That women theyr breastes dyd shew & lay out." But the early Anglo-Saxons were predated by centuries in the use of topless fashions. In various Mediterranean lands of antiquity the exposed breast was a commonplace.
Earliest depicted human coital positions
According to L. Legrain in "Ur Excavations, Vol. III: Archaic Seal Impressions" (1936), the oldest known depiction of human coitus, in the Ur excavations in Mesopotamia, dates to between 3200 and 3000 B.C. But much older than this are the representations of coital activity on the walls of the Grotte des Combarelles in the Dordogne in France. One particular drawing is thought to date from the Aurignacian period of the late Old Stone Age, about 40,000. If there are more ancient depictions than this we do not know of them.
What do we know of the first positions shown for coital activity? In the most ancient drawing, the one in the Dordogne, the woman is shown crouching forward while the man approaches her from behind. According to Havelock Ellis the oldest picture of human coitus that we have - of the Palaeolithic Solutrian age - shows the man as supine while the woman squats (in fact the Solutrian, or Solutrean age, ante-dates the Aurignacian). One prehistoric rock drawing, this time from Bohusian in Sweden, shows two couples standing up and copulating. And the seals from Ur of the Chaldees (around 3000 B.C.) have the copulating pair with the woman on top of the man. Kinsey et al have pointed out that the position with the woman above is common in ancient art, e.g. that of Peru, India, China, Japan and other civilizations. Perhaps the most famous of all the palaeolithic sexual depictions are those to be found in the Les Trois Freres cavern: a human figure, wearing an animal skin and antlers, is crouching, his genitals clearly shown (this drawing has often been cited as evidence of early witchcraft). Elsewhere in Trois Freres is an ithyphallic bison with human legs. And half-human, half-animal depictions are shown to suggest sexual mounting. A bone engraving from the Abri Murat (Lot) is based on the same theme. And in Pech Merle there is a finger drawing in clay of a woman "crouched in a sexually receptive posture beneath animal-like lines". (See P. Rawson, "Primitive Erotic Art").
Oldest Chinese sexual symbols
According to some authorities the most ancient Chinese representations of sexual subject matter date from the Tan dynasty (ca. 206 B.C.-A.D. 24) "Excavations from that period have unearthed bricks from tombs and gifts buried with the dead which show definite sexual motifs." In view of the great antiquity of other aspects of Chinese erotic life these sexual motifs do not seem particularly ancient. The sexual manuals in China suggest that various forms of sexual imagery would have been employed two or three thousand years before the birth of Christ.
Earliest female nude sculpture
The prehistoric sculptures such as the Venus of Willendorf are among the oldest to show the nude female figure. Such works are generally dated to palaeolithic times. The relief carvings such as the Venus of Laussel may also be mentioned (See Edward Lucie-Smith, "Eroticism in Western Art"). Originally deriving from a rock shelter, it is now in a museum at Bordeaux. The figure (about 46 cm tall) was originally carved on a block overhanging a sanctuary, and is probably Solutrian in date. She had been coloured red to signify power and life; and her breasts, belly, hips and thighs bulge with fat. Her hand rests on his stomach, and the pubic triangle is emphasized. Her attributes are clearly sexual. There has been speculation about the relation of the figure with animal fertility cults. What is particularly interesting about these early representations is that they are not naturalistic, in the way that the early paintings of animals are naturalistic. Instead certain sexual features are exaggerated, such as the thighs and breasts. The apparent desirability of fatness, common also to primitive societies in the modern world, has been attributed to the survival value of stored body food. In the late Stone Age an Aurignacian sculptor created what has come to be known as the Venus of Lespugue, a palaeolithic female figure carved in the ivory of the mammoth's tusk found in the
Haute-Garonne in 1922 (See G.S. Whittet, "Lovers in Art"). The period runs from about 30,000 B.C. to 10,000 B.C.
Most famous ancient nude sculpture
The Cnidian Aphrodite (or Venus) of Praxiteles is generally said to be the most famous statue in the ancient world. It has been dated to the fourth century B.C., and the work was seemingly known throughout many of the lands of antiquity. In the tenth century the work, having been taken to Constantinople by Theodosius, was praised by the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus; and the statue, in original or copy, is mentioned by Robert de Clari in his account of the taking of Constantinople by the Crusaders.
Most famous erotic sculpture
The most famous erotic sculpture in the world is certainly that of the Hindu temples of India (See P. Rawson, "Erotic Art of the East"). Most of the best examples were created in the North between the ninth and thirteen centuries A.D., and in the South between the sixth and seventeenth centuries A.D. The sculptures show every imaginable form of sexual activity - different coital positions, oral sex, masturbation, rape, bestiality, etc.
Many temples still used for worship make use of immense wooden-wheeled chariots or "cars," constructed after the pattern of the temples, with high canopies and spires. The chariots are used to carry the sacred images during the festivals, and they are adorned with the same sorts of erotic scenes as are the temples themselves. The carvings, elaborate and meticulously executed, show all forms of sexual behaviour.
Largest organs displayed in erotic art
Some erotic art, notably that of Japan, is characterised by immense exaggeration of the sexual organs. The penis and vulva are often drawn three or four times their proper size: the penis, for example, can resemble a forearm, and the female organ often "assumes the length and width of the folded sleeve opening of a kimono". One extraordinary feature of Japanese erotic art is the depiction of the penis as a duelling weapon. Drawings show two men, both equipped with mighty organs, fencing with the erect members. There are also other forms of penis competitions: men are depicted going along to have vast organs measured to see who possesses the largest. In one drawing a man equipped with a penis about the size of all the rest of him is obliged to support the mighty organ on a pair of wagon wheels trundling before him! A sexual hero of China was said to be able to smash a copper pot with one blow of his penis!
First Chinese erotic porcelain
Sexual designs were used for porcelain ware by the Manchu emperors such as Ch'ien Lung and Hsien Feng, as a form of sexual elaboration. Erotic motifs and designs were used on vases, bowls, plates etc.; it has been established that such designs were painted on earthenware in the first and third centuries. One early Chinese habit was to bury earthen bowls and plates where "future rebel leaders or rulers might be born." It was thought that earthenware carrying erotic designs would bring ill luck to future rulers and thus forestall possible uprisings.
First Chinese erotic jade and ivory
Erotic carvings gradually appeared in Chinese jade and ivory. An eye-witness in the Ming Dynasty described such things from the Ming Palace "The two Happy Buddhas were carved out of two huge pieces of flawless jade. With their sex organs in close contact they gave the viewers the basic concept of the man woman relationship. The eunuch in charge told me that these jade figures were actually left behind in the palace by the Mongols after their downfall. He also said that they had been used by the Mongol imperial family to enlighten their descendants about the facts of life. It is believed that after our empire had been established, these figures continued to be used for the same purpose during the reign of our first few emperors. However, I cannot help congratulating myself secretly for having the good luck to see these finished products of artistic perfection."
First erotic coins
China also boasted erotic coins ("spring coins") as early as the Han Dynasty. On one side of a coin would be words of good omen; on the other, a god and a goddess would be copulating. It was claimed that such coins could dispel evil spirits, as a consequence of which, parents frequently gave them to their children as a form of protection against supernatural forces. By the time of the Sung Dynasty the coins were showing a variety of coital positions: they were no longer called "spring coins" but "bed-curtain-spreading coins." They formed an integral part of a dowry when a daughter married, on the wedding-night the coins would be scattered on the bridal bed. In other cultures with a strong erotic tradition and a coinage system coins were also used to depict sexual activity. For example, in pre-Christian Greece some coins show an eager satyr carrying off a complaisant nymph (mid-sixth century B.C.). And there is a Greek scaraboid of the fifth century B.C., showing a cock treading a hen; an identical scene appears on an Etruscan gem of the same period.
Greatest Chinese erotic painter
Chou Fang is regarded as the greatest Chinese erotic painter. Mi Fei, a famous painter in the Sung Dynasty, held Chou in the same class as Ku Kai-chih (one of whose pictures is in the British Museum), Lu T'ang-wei, and Wu Tao-tzu. The women in Chou's paintings are all rather plump - which relates to the T'ang Dynasty concept of beauty. Chou Fang, in common with many oriental artists, also tended to exaggerate the size of the genital organs: it is said that he influenced Japanese erotic art.
Peak period of Japanese erotic art
Japanese erotic art is generally regarded as reaching a peak during the Edo period, 1600-1868; Edo refers to the small fishing town which was to succeed the old city of Kyoto as capital of Japan and which was to become the Tokyo of today. The Edo period saw a quite unparalleled development of erotic art and literature, one consequence of which was that the Japanese government started to take an interest in censorship!
First reclining nude in European erotic art
It is thought that Giorgione and Titian were the first painters to use a reclining nude woman as the subject of a painting. Where, before their time, such a position occurs, as on some Roman sarcophagi, the figure is only a detail, filling in the corners to complete the design. The use of the nude woman in such a way was secondary to the main design. Giorgione and Titian in both sculpture and painting elevated the reclining nude to a significant status, and this is the teeth of opposition from the Christian Church to all things carnal.
Most famous Spanish love painting
The most famous of the few Spanish love-paintings is the fairy-tale "St George and the Dragon" (c. 1438, Art Institute of Chicago) by Bernat Martorel. The style is linked in its conventions to the illumination of manuscripts. The original Saint George is thought to have died about A.D. 300 at Lydda in Palestine. He seemingly assumed his role of a slayer of dragons from Perseus who slew a sea monster that had threatened the virgin Andromeda. The ideals of courtly love "were exalted to the sanctification of the perfect, gentle knight."
First Renaissance nude sculpture
There are nudes and nudes. Some are desiccated and sexless, others jaunty and provocative. According to one authority (E. Carr, "European Erotic Art"), the first nude of the Renaissance - a nude that is "not unaesthetic and submissive, the usual appearance of the Byzantine and mediaeval Eves" - is Lorenzo Ghiberti's Eve on the eastern door of the Baptistry in Florence, sculptured in relief in 1425. She is given the Hebrew name of Eve and she is being called into existence by Jehovah, but she has the beautiful expression reminiscent of the Greek Venus on the Ludovisi throne and the body is "unashamedly beautiful..." (Ghiberti also wrote the earliest known autobiography of an artist.)
First Italian Renaissance painter of erotic art
Antonio Pisanello (c. 1395-c. 1455) has been taken as one of the first Italian artists to see in the nude form the wide scope for erotic art. He produced copies of the Bacchic Sarcophagi in the Campo Santo collection of antique art in Pisa, and then added to some of these an erotic component, for instance he drew the legs of a young girl to suggest "uninhibited delight in sexuality."
Earliest pornographic artist in England
The earliest pornographic artist in England, with name unknown, functioned halfway through the eighteenth-century. In about 1755 he produced seventeen drawings to illustrate "The Pleasures of Love: Containing a Variety of Entertaining Particulars and Curiosities in the Cabinet of Venus." The frontispiece shows a fat woman, with a basin of cordial in her left hand, the right drawing aside the curtains of a bed on which can be seen four naked legs. On the curtain is inscribed "The pleasures of Love 1755." The book was reprinted in 1881 as "The Adventures of a Rake," and in reprint the book carried inferior illustrations.
Graffiti: Most frequent sexual references by females
Graffiti, as we all know, is not always sexual in nature. It is more often sexual when produced by men than when produced by women. Kinsey and his colleagues investigated sexual and non-sexual graffiti (as they appear to have investigated everything else) and documented and tabulated their results. A high proportion (86 per cent) of the inscriptions on the walls of the male toilets were found to be sexual; but not more than 25 per cent of the toilet wall inscriptions made by women dealt with sexual topics (genitals, oral and anal sexual behaviour, "obscene" words, etc.). Most of the female inscriptions referred to love or names were associated ("John and Mary," "Helen and Don"); the drawing of hearts was common in the female toilets. In 331 female inscriptions, there were 69 per cent depicting lips, 35 per cent making non-erotic references to love with the opposite sex, and 12 per cent making non-erotic references to love with own sex. The scores in the other Kinsey categories were considerably less.
Least frequent sexual references by females
Surprisingly, amongst the 331 female inscriptions there were no references to heterosexual dating (homosexual dating scored one per cent). There were no homosexual references to anal contacts, and only one per cent heterosexual reference to anal activity. Oral contacts scores two per cent (heterosexual) and one per cent (homosexual); "other erotic items" also scored two per cent (both heterosexual and homosexual). Most frequent sexual references by males
The investigators found 1048 sexual and non-sexual inscriptions in male toilets, of which the largest category (30 per cent) were homosexual oral contacts, with heterosexual oral contacts scoring only eleven per cent. Twenty-one per cent of the inscriptions were to homosexual dating and eighteen per cent to homosexual anal contacts.
Least frequent references by men
The least frequent references by men were to "non-erotic" items such as lips and hearts (none recorded). Three per cent of inscriptions related to the genitalia of the opposite sex; and non-erotic references to love (both with the same and the opposite sex) also scored three per cent. Five per cent of the inscriptions referred to heterosexual dating.
Most important poet in Rome
This is Catullus, the first Roman love-poet. He has been considered "more sympathetic to modern minds than all his famous successors; for he is a man, not a rhetorician, and he tells us frankly and beautifully of his passion." Catullus has been seen as bisexual, with the heterosexual side of his nature predominating. Inevitably he has been portrayed as a coarse and pornographic writer.
Most famous "kissing" poet
Robert Herrick has been dubbed the "Kissing Poet." For instance his "Hesperides", 1648, is replete with kisses and kissing. In Catullus there is a kissing poem. Herrick has his own version:
Ah my Anthea ! Must my heart still break?
(Love makes me write, what shame forbids to speak.)
Give me a kisse, adde to that kisse a score;
Then to that twenty, adde an hundred more;
A thousand to that thousand; so kisse on,
To make that thousand up a million.
Treble that million, and when that is done,
Let's kisse afresh, as when we first begun.
But yet, though Love likes well such Scenes as these,
There is an act that will more fully please:
Kissing and glancing, soothing, all make way
But to the acting of this private play:
Name it I would; but being blushing red
The rest Ile speak, when we meet both in bed.
Greatest European sexual-love poet
Greatest European sexual-love Poet
This superlative, like many of the others, is a matter of opinion. But for this one a fair number of people seem to opt for Racine. Racine has been represented as seeing love as a passion - "that is, something suffered by mankind, a thing imposed upon mankind from outside - and ultimately, therefore, an ill."
Most famous sensual poem
If the Song of Solomon is a poem then it qualifies for this one. In the nineteenth century the Reverend E. P. Eddrupp, Prebendary of Salisbury Cathedral wrote in a commentary on the Old Testament "Such a book as the Song of Solomon may not be fitted for public reading in a mixed congregation, or even for private reading by the impure in heart." The first-century Pharisees wondered whether the Song should have a place in the Canon: the problem was that the Song so clearly celebrates physical (or carnal) love and makes no reference to God. Inevitably there were endless attempts to interpret the Song metaphorically or allegorically. It is supposed to have been written about 400 B.C., during the reign of Artaxerxes II.
Foremost 14th century Lyricist
Guillaume de Machaut, born in Champagne around the year 1300, was the dominant figure both in lyric poetry and music in fourteenth-century France. Many of his own poems were specifically arranged for musical setting. In a famous work combining both poetry and music, Le Livre du Voir Dit, probably written between 1361 and 1365, Machaut recounts the progress of his love affair with a young girl called Peronne. At this time the poet was more than sixty years old and blind in one eye. It is likely that the girl was more impressed by the man's reputation as a poet and composer than by the amorous possibilities of the situation. Machaut is considered one of the central figures in the art of courtly love.
First clandestine production of an erotic work
In 1674 an effort was made at All Souls College, Oxford, using the university press, to prepare an edition of Aretino's "Sonnets", illustrated by Romano's celebrated drawings of coital positions. Alas, it so happened that the Dean appeared unexpectedly - with no less than sixty reproductions already produced. Consideration was given to the possibility of expulsion - "And I think they would deserve it, were they of any other college than All Souls, but there I will allow them to be virtuous that are bawdy only in pictures."
First erotic writer in English
This is a debatable one. Atkins plumps for Spenser as "the first writer in English to be consciously erotic." The "Faerie Queen" is represented as a "mine of sensuality." A "Spectator" article is cited to indicate the sexual significance of the Spenser imagery -"You do not need any psychoanalytic training to see here a rather grisly amalgam of the male and female sexual organs," after quoting the description of the lustful monster in Book IV, Canto VII. Now it's Atkins again - Spenser reckoned to be preaching chastity and religion, but he "allowed his imagination to luxuriate in obscenities which would have impressed both Shakespeare and Donne."
First erotic periodical in U.K.
This emerged in 1773, under the title "The Covent Garden Magazine," Amorous Repository, Calculated Solely for the Entertainment of the Polite World. In the words of Hurwood, "This, inauspicious as it may have seemed at the time, the great granddaddy of a multi-million dollar business was born." Ten years later London acquired a new publication - "The Rambler's Magazine": Or, The Annals of Gallantry, Glee, Pleasure, and the Bon Ton; Calculated for the entertainment of the Polite World; and to furnish the Man of Pleasure with a most delicious banquet of Amorous, Bacchanalian, Whimsical, Humorous Theatrical, and Polite Entertainment. As a principal item readers were offered the histories of ladies "whom the attracing charms of gold can conquer," and typical story titles were The History and Adventure of a Bedstead, The Adventures of a Eunuch, Memoirs of Lydia Lovemore, and the Adventures of Kitty Pry. Open the letter.
Most famous 19th century porno magazine
It is difficult to say what the difference is between erotica and pornography. Those who praise sexual manifestations in art will tend to use the former word, those who are perpetually disgusted by all things carnal will incline to savour the latter. To say of a magazine that it was "pornographic" is not necessarily to condemn it, nor, mutatis mutandis, is it to praise it. However, one publication popularly dubbed pornographic in the nineteenth century was "The Pearl" - which carried the happy subtitle, Journal of Facetiae and Voluptuous Reading. The journal appeared monthly between July 1879 and December 1886, and declared as its imprint, Oxford: Printed at the University Press. The entire run, in three volumes contained 36 obscene coloured lithographs - said by Ashbee to be of "vile execution." Six serialised novels were also included, as well as short stories, numerous ballads, poems, "gossip" notes and anecdotes, amounting to a total of five hundred pages. Some items, in translation, were simply stolen from elsewhere. "The Pearl" was neither the first nor the last of its kind; it was the most famous.
First magazine exposure of pubic hair
The first exposure of pubic hair - "albeit modest to the point of invisibility" was accomplished by "Penthouse" (April 1970). The appearance of pubic hair in the girlies is now so commonplace that it is remarkable that there was such a fuss about it in 1970. But at the time the "Penthouse" initiative was seen as little short of revolutionary! Almost all the other "pin-up" magazines followed suit within a matter of months.
First girlie mags
The first "girlie magazines" were intended to be respectable, emphatically not "pornographic". The first magazine to merit the adjective "girlie" was "Esquire", which, in the 1930s, was the only one of its kind. The decision to carry pin-ups was bold and innovative; "Esquire" began, incidentally, as a men's fashion magazine, hence the status title. The first issue of the magazine had a printing of 105,000 copies, 5,000 of which were to be distributed to newsstands and 100,000 to clothing stores throughout the U.S. The first issue was, however, so popular that 95,000 copies were recalled from clothiers and redistributed to newsstands. The first issue was also significant in that it carried George Petty's famous pin-up girl, appearing at first more as a cartoon than a pin-up. She soon represented a singular female type that was destined to become almost as much a legend as the Gibson girl had been thirty years earlier. In early 1941, the Petty girls began to appear regularly in "Esquire's" first foldout pages.
First erotic magazine for women
It is a commonplace of sexological research that women are supposed to be less easily aroused by visual erotica than are men: this is found in the bulk of relevant research from Kinsey onwards, but some of the findings are ambiguous. Recently various women have been involved in the creation of "pin-up" magazines for women. The two most famous of such magazines are "Viva" and "Playgirl". Are women, suddenly confronted with a graphic centrespread penis fastened onto a handsome male, stimulated to lustful urges? I don't know. The only girl I asked declared that it didn't do much for her but she kept looking!
Most famous 19th century female erotica publisher
Perhaps the most famous woman publisher of erotica in the nineteenth-century was Mary Wilson. Whether she published primarily for men or for women is not known, but she produced a wide variety of literature. She was called by the famous "governess," Theresa Berkeley, "the reviver of erotic literature in the present century." Mary Wilson had a number of peculiarities, one of which was an intense dislike of sodomy in any form; she would allow no mention of it to appear in any of her books. She also wrote an essay in a collection called "The Voluptuarian Cabinet"; the piece was called Adultery on the Part of Married Women, and Fornication on the Part of Old Maids and Widows defended by Mary Wilson, Spinster, With Plans for Promoting the same, Addressed to the Ladies of the Metropolis and its Environs. The plan was for the establishment of a palatial brother for women only. It was to be a sanctuary "to which any lady of rank and fortune may subscribe, and to which she may repair incog; the married to commit what the world calls adultery, and the single to commit what at the tabernacle is termed fornication, or in a gentler phrase, to obey the dictates of all powerful Nature, by offering up a cheerful sacrifice to the God Priapus, the most ancient of deities." The plan, alas, never materialised.
Most famous 20th century erotica publisher
The most famous modern dynasty in the publishing of erotica is centred in Paris. Before the war an Anglo-Irishman named Jack Kahane founded the Obelisk Press and published Joyce's "Haveth Childers" (a foretaste of "Finnegan's Wake"), Durrell's "The Black Book", Conolly's "The Rock Pool," and Harris's "Life and Loves". His son, Maurice Girodias, continued the family business and has published Nabokov's "Lolita", Donleavy's "The Ginger bread Man" and Burrough's "The Naked Lunch". The firm now publishes as Olympia Press. In 1972 "Scorpio" ran an article, "Is Maurice Girodias Being Forced Out of Pornography?", indicating the immense difficulties under which he was operating. At the same time there appears to be an increasing willingness to admit that Girodias has made a significant and enduring contribution to modern literature. After all he was even asked to contribute a piece to "To Deprave and Corrupt ...," a compilation including items from such respectable people as Lord Birkett and Norman St. John-Stevas.
Most unexpected appearance of "fuck" in print
In some circumstances the word fuck is used where we more or less expect it - in pornography, modern novels, and "progressive" talk. Historically it has sometimes appeared when least expected: for instance the dread word slipped into the columns of "The Times" (London) on 13 January 1882. The report of a speech delivered by the Attorney General, Sir William Harcourt, included one man's sentiment that "he felt like a bit of fucking." The shock at this in Printing House Square was so great that a full four days elapsed before "the management of this journal" could steel itself to issue an apology - it spoke of "gross outrage," of a "malicious fabrication" that was "surreptitiously introduced" and noted that the matter was under legal investigation - "it is to be hoped that the perpetrator of the outrage will be brought to punishment." "The Times" suffered another terrible blow when an advertisement for a book about the public schools was discovered, after the paper had been printed, to include the line - "With a Glossary of Some Words used by Henry Irving in his disquisitions upon fucking, which is in common use in these schools." And this only a few months after the first incident! Not a good year for "The Times". It is also noted that in a daily paper reporting the birth of a royal child - "the substitution of an F for a B in the name of the palace where the queen was confined gave the heading of the notice a suspiciously suggestive appearance." All in all, Kenneth Tynan's delivery of the word fuck on BBC television had one or two "establishment" precedents.
Most successful erotica promoter in U.K.
Paul Raymond, born Geoffrey Anthony Quinn, the son of a Liverpool haulage contractor, is without doubt the most successful individual promoter of magazine and theatrical erotica in Britain today. His "Men Only" is one of the best-selling girlie magazines in Britain, with "Club International", from the same Fleet Street stable, also chalking up impressive sales. In addition he now has five London theatres, including the Revuebar, the Windmill, and the Whitehall (this latter is said to have cost him ?340,000). His most expensive show - costing around ?300,000 to stage was the "Royalty Follies"; the ?25,000 production costs of "Pyjama Tops" at the Whitehall were recouped in just two months. Paul Raymond - one-time drummer, salesman, barman, and miner - claims he could have sold the Revuebar for ?1.25 million. One Raymond quote - "Tits, bums and a few laughs. That's what people like. That's what I like. I'm not a pornographer, I'm an entertainer. And I have a knack of judging what people want at any given moment. "
Theatre: Most famous nun playwright
The tenth-century German nun Hrot-switha wrote, in Latin, a remarkable series of plays strongly influenced by the pagan Roman dramatist Terence (c. 190-159 B.C.). But she manages to be sexier! In fact some of her scenes are set in brothels. One represents a cemetery where a lover interrogates a sexton. The intruder wants to dig up his mistress's corpse. Go ahead, says the sexton, she's not putrid yet. You'll find her still in fair condition for fornication. Ha, cries the lover, as he seizes a spade, Now I can offer that bitch all the insults I please! (Abutere, ut licet- Nunc in mea situm est potestate quantislibet iniuriis te velim lacessere.)
First appearance of actresses in Shakespearean play
The appearance of women on the stage got under way in earnest when Tom Killigrew, one of the King's best friends produced "Othello" on 8 December 1660. Women had already appeared in plays on the Continent. In England no self respecting young woman would have thought of a career in acting - and so al the casting was done in brothels! The subject-matter of plays being performed was such that whores fitted naturally into the female roles. Theatre thrived on love intrigues, rape, seduction, and the like. I has been said that Restoration theatre"no only fostered lewdness by depicting it in glowing and attractive colours, but it actors spread abroad the corruption it was their business to delineate" - "Their personal character corresponded, in too many instances, with the parts which the performed, and they re-enacted in private the debaucheries which they presented on the stage."
First nude woman on stage
The first time that a woman appeared on the stage completely nude was at the Folies-Bergere in 1912. She was only visible for a moment. It was feared that a scandal would follow but France survived, and after the war every Paris revue featured at least one naked woman.
First presentation of lesbianism
The first major effort to present lesbianism on the American stage was suppressed by the police. This was in 1927, and the play was the French importation, "The Captive," by Edouard Bourdet. The play was devoid of any message. It concerned a love triangle, two women and a man. One of the women, inevitably enough, did not know to which of the others to turn. This evidently, was too strong for the authorities of the day!
Advertising: First instance of sex
In one view, Eve tempting Adam is the first case of sex in advertising, though perhaps this is not normally what we think of by the phrase. Another candidate for the title is a woodcut produced in 1491 by a Belgian publisher to promote a new translation of "Histoire de la Belle Melusine" by Jean d'Arras. The woodcut may be regarded as the first known illustrated advertising poster. Melusine's breasts are exposed (she is bathing), and there is some suggestion of auto-eroticism in the position of her right hand. The text beneath the illustration reads-"A beautiful, pleasing, and most marvellous story of a lady named Melusine, of her ancestors and descendants, and the wonderful and devout works and deeds they wrought and performed. Lately translated from the French into Flemish and adorned with fine personages and scenes as the text demands. This story, as well as a great number of other new books, can be purchased at the price written hereunder."
Most famous sexy "double entendre"
Elliott White Springs, in 1947, shocked the business community in the U.S. with his double entendre concerning the Springmaid name. Making use of sex appeal to sell sheets, Springs - a pioneer of quarter of a century ago- used a cartoon of an Indian couple on a sheet hammock. The caption read - "A buck well spent on a Springmaid sheet."
Photography: Earliest bathing beauty postcard
The earliest postcards of bathing beauties came from France around 1900, and soon after that such cards were made available in England. The first bathing scenes were created by artists. Later, when a camera was used the model was usually posed against a hand-drawn beach background. Postcards in the early 1900s featured "French Actresses," "Japanese Beauties" dressed in traditional costume, "Actresses" in colour, and ballet dancers and bathers posing in tights. Some card manufacturers glued silk, oilcloth, or spangles on their pin-up cards.
First nude calendar
In 1913, the first-known calendar nude appeared, called "September Morn", a reproduction of an oil painting,"Matinee Septembre", by a French artist, Paul Chabas (1869-1937). The painting might have gone unnoticed if Comstock, of the Society for the Suppression of Vice, had not demanded the removal of the painting from the window of a New York art gallery. A salesman explained that the painting had recently won a Medal of Honour from the French Academy, but we may presume, Comstock was not impressed .
First girlie calendar
Brown and Bigelow of Saint Paul, Minnesota, is the world's oldest calendar company. Around 1903 the firm produced its first calendar with a female subject "Colette" (from a painting from Angelo Asti), a "charming but conservative portrait of a young beauty." In the years that followed, "Colette" helped to sell more than 1.5 million calendars. In 1904 the first pin-up calendar indicated that the manufacture of "girlie" calendars could be a lucrative business.
First nude photographer
It has been claimed that the French photographer Lerebours photographed some nudes as early as 1840, only one year after the historic introduction of Daguerre's process (P. Lacey, "The History of the Nude in Photography"). It was suggested that the interest in the nude at this period was not only aesthetic- professional models were among the first live subjects capable of holding a pose for the required five to ten minutes. The Parisian photographers, Nadar and Durieu, were among the first in the world to photograph nudes.
First nude photography magazine
The first nude photography magazine was "Camera Work", founded in 1902 by Alfred Stieglitz. Not all the pictures were of nudes, but nude photographs were frequent, usually in portfolios by such photographers as Annie Brigman, Clarence Whitehead, Robert Demarchy, Renee Le Begue and Frank Eugene. The treatment was such as to suggest "feelings and associations beyond the actual subject." In particular, "Camera Work" included studies by the Photo-Secessionists.
First female pin-up
In 1887, Charles Dana Gibson - then twenty years of age - began a long-term contract with "Life". As a young man, Gibson "dipped his pen in the cosmic urge and tried to draw a girl so alluring that other young men would want to climb into the picture and sit beside her." By the time of the 1890s the Gibson girl was well established, and she was a front-runner for twenty years. In 1903, Gibson signed a hundred thousand dollar contract with "Collier's" (1886-1957) to render a series of double-page "cartoons" over four years' time. "The Gibson Girl was not simply a model but represented a way of life."
First U.K. male pin-up
Paul de Feu, reclining in a suitably modest position, was photographed nude for a full-colour, double-page spread in "Cosmopolitan" (London), April 1972. It was of some interest that Mr. de Feu, aged 36, was married to, but separated from, Germaine Greer, the keen champion of Women's Lib. A construction worker and college graduate, Mr. de Feu described his posing as "striking a blow for male servitude." He was quoted in "Time" (14/2/72) as saying "I'm a guy who likes birds. Normally I'd spend a lot of time, chat, and money taking a girl out in the hopes of getting somewhere with her. This way- being a pin-up - I've got to the clothes-off stage with thousands of birds straightaway." During the same month "Cosmopolitan" (New York) printed a centrefold nude photograph of the American actor Burt Reynolds.
Most famous female nude photographer
There have been a number of distinguished female photographers of the nude in the twentieth century, including Emy Andriesse of Holland, and Nell Dorr and Ruth Bernhard of the United States. Miss Bernhard's work is the best known, having appeared regularly in magazines and books over the last three decades. She has been quoted as saying - "If I have chosen the female form in particular, it is because beauty has been debased and exploited in our sensual twentieth century. We seem to have a need to turn innocent nature into evil ugliness by the twist of the mind. Woman has been the target of much that is sordid and cheap, especially in photography. To raise, to elevate, to endorse with timeless reverence the image of woman, has been my mission - the reason for my work which you see here."
First front page streaker photograph
Streaking - the 1974 fashion of running naked from one point to another- has been variously attributed to "dares" means of raising money for charity, simple exhibitionism, or the more complex motives beloved of psychiatrists. The press loved the streaking phenomenon since it proved an excuse, if any were needed, to supply pleasantly titillating copy and to print nude pictures. The "Daily Mirror" (18/3/74) had the happy distinction of being the first large-circulation newspaper internationally to show us an active streaker on its front page. An attractive blonde streaker called Sally is shown pinned against the wall by a London policeman.
Films: First female sex symbol
Theda Bara was the first screen vamp. She was also the first star to have a screen personality specially created for her. Bara wore erotic costumes which often scarcely concealed her breasts or buttocks. "A couple of loosely spun spider's webs did duty for a bra, or else an asp curved snugly around the contours of each breast, while a few bead whorls appliqued on her hip bone by gum arabic looked like some satyr's erotic doodling." She also had a liking for wearing metal chains against the naked flesh "in a way that carried an undertone of perversion". Theda Bara began her epic career before the First World War.
Oldest woman to become a sex symbol
Mae West has been portrayed as one of the very few stars who was "self-made and self-sustaining," owing her success to herself alone, not to a director, scriptwriter, make-up artist, or photographer. What is perhaps most remarkable about her is that she first arrived at Hollywood when she was forty years of age - "grotesquely late to begin a film career".
First star to use her breasts to arouse
The eroticism of Theda Bara was generalised, with no particular item or mode of behaviour coming in for particular emphasis. In any event her breasts were not vast, so there was little scope for concentration on them! Not so with Jean Harlow. This latter actress usually gets the credit for focussing the erotic interest, for the first time on the screen, on a woman's breasts. At the end of the nineteen twenties it was the flat-chested flappers who symbolised screen sex. Harlow's breasts were only large (34-inch bust) compared to the boyish females who had appeared on the screen before her- but she heaved up her breasts and used them to advantage. Harlow was said to be a compulsive exhibitionist, a "sexual provocatrice who knew the effect her body made on men." Her nipples were supposed to expand as the room temperature went up; and before a Press conference she would rub them with ice.
Most famous sex symbol
This must be Marilyn Monroe, despite the current popularity of Bo Derek. Monroe featured on the most publicised calendar in history, published in 1951 by John Baumgarth Co. The original nude picture was taken in May 1949 by Tom Kelly, a California photographer. Kelly is supposed to have remarked at the time - "This wasn't just another girl. This was a girl with instinct for drama and showmanship. Her lips parted provocatively, her body was arched and magnificent. There was a natural grace about her." A series of later films made Monroe the leading American sex-symbol. Her mysterious death, following rumours of possible liaisons with eminent Americans, added something to her already vast legend. It was a simple matter to declare that she committed suicide. According to one report, however, no chemical "sludge" was found in her stomach after death. This has been held as evidence that she did not, in fact, commit suicide.
Most famous European sex symbol
Brigitte Bardot enjoyed the reputation as the most famous European pin-up girl of the mid-twentieth-century. She had been depicted as "moodier, tougher, more independent, and adventurous than Marilyn Monroe..." Like Monroe she has had a chequered life in private and public. Bardot, however, has proved the more durable.
Most famous male film star lover
Rudolph Valentino began his career as a dancer, then rose to stardom as a dark passionate lover in "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" (1921), "The Sheik," and "Blood and Sand" (1922). When he died in hospital in 1926, thousands of people stopped the traffic. In addition several women committed suicide, 100,000 condolence telegrams were sent, and a monument erected to his memory was set up in Hollywood.
Longest lasting male romantic lead
Cary Grant has been an immensely successful romantic lead in Hollywood for more than thirty years. No other male actor can compete with this record. One of his best known films - "Holiday" appeared in 1938; yet still Cary Grant plays successful romantic leads.
Most notorious U.S. censorship code
In 1921 the U.S. Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America Inc. asked W. H. Hays, a prominent Republican, to be their president in an effort to ward off plans for government censorship. One of the first Hays initiatives was to insert a "morality clause" into all actors' contracts forcing them to maintain at least a facade of clean living. In 1930 his Production Code was adopted by the industry; in 1934 it was made mandatory, with fines and sanctions on any film-maker who ignored it. The Code had a statement of general aims followed by twelve sections of "Particular Applications." These latter included such declarations as "The treatment of bedrooms must be governed by good taste and delicacy" and "Suicide, as a solution of problems occurring in the development of screen drama is to be discouraged as morally questionable." Inevitably, all sex organs - even those of children - were forbidden for screen representation, as were all forms of "perversion." The critic George Jean Nathan has commented that the effect of the Hays Office Code on Hollywood film-making was "to picture most characters in their amorous reactions to each other as practically indistinguishable from little children dressed up in their parents' clothes and playing house."
First breast exposure in modern times
In the silent film days there was nothing to a bit of breast exposure. It was a commonplace of epic and small-scale production alike. In modern times, after a lapse lasting a decade or two, the battle had to be fought all over again, until the breast and other anatomical bits and pieces eventually won through! On 29 March 1965, a Negress in "The Pawnbroker", also starring Rod Steiger, exposed both her breasts to the full, thereby breaking Section Seven, Sub-section Two of the Motion Picture Production Role - "Indecent or undue exposure is forbidden." A commentator wrote - "For the first time in the history of the Hollywood Production Code, official recognition has been given to the good taste and artistic merit with which a subject is treated, not only to whether it hews to the current standards by which the Code is interpreted." A headline in "Variety" noted, more succinctly, "Film Part requires no Bra." "The Pawnbroker" later became the official United States entry in the 1964 Berlin Film Festival.
First exposure of pubic hair
This is another tricky one. Avid researchers into such matters have scrutinised films frame by frame. Was it hair or was it shadow? Not that it matters all that much, but some people find it nice to know the truth. Some connoisseurs opt for "Blow Up": there is a sexy scene in which David Hemmings romps with a couple of naked teenagers. The Catholic Office gave "Blow-Up" a Condemned rating.
Most famous erotic movie star
This is Linda Lovelace, renowned for her performance in "Deep Throat", the most successful "pornographic" film to be shown in America. The film has been the subject of an obscenity charge in New York, a circumstance which may have helped it to gross some three and a half million dollars. The film focused on the discovery by a sex-conscious young woman that oral sex can be fun, and the plot hinges on her singular capacities in this direction.
First U.K. nudist film
There are those people who assert - and we know what they mean - that the nudist films have nothing to do with sex. Well, it may be so for some, but not for others. "The Garden of Eden", appropriately enough, was the first of the nudist pictures in Britain. It appeared in January 1957 and featured Jamie O'Hara. The film was sent around to the local authorities - "They didn't object, and there was considerable public acceptance of the picture, which opened the screens to nudity."
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