Smoota's Nightstand by Smoota


People (mostly virgins and idiots) say there is no such thing as bad sex or bad pizza. More accurate is to say that average sex and average pizza are both satisfying, especially when you're in Italy. 

Perhaps inspired by this idea, Chicago artist Jason Salavon found the average look of Playboy Centerfolds for the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s by digitally averaging the images. The result, Every Playboy Centerfold, The Decades (normalized), from 2002, is below. It's a cool idea, and the results are beautiful, but apart from the gradual slimming of the body and the use of brighter lighting over the decades, there is not much to conclude other than that, on average, centerfolds have great posture.

The 1960s--->70s--->80s--->90s

Perhaps more relevant is Salavon's 2001 piece 76 Blowjobs, his averaging of 76 "found" fellatio photos. It's a great representation of how even though you may never forget your first time, by the 76th, it all becomes a blur. Plus, of course, that an average BJ is better than no BJ at all.


Johannes Kahrs and the erotics of framing 

In most still-photo erotica, as exemplified by the Playboy centerfold, the composition is well-balanced. The sexual object is perfectly framed. The face, the torso, the crotch are centered. The object of desire is laid bare - there is no obscurity in what the viewer sees.

One reason erotica is so important is to give us this unobscured view of bodies - a view we so rarely get in real life. Even with a fully-nude lover, lights are often dim.

But this perfectionism to much erotica is what makes it so often seem clinical and unerotic. Unless you're a gynecologist or a bodybuilder, you rarely see bodies so well lit and well-framed in all their glory. It's the dim light, the obscured view, the accidental glance, the quick flash that arouses us in real life. 

German painter Johannes Kahrs shows how the unbalanced frame creates more sexual tension than the centerfold. It's the combination of what we can and can't see that drives us wild.

This is why the peeping tom has more fun than the gynecologist.

Man Ray's Mr and Mrs. Woodman 

It is always enlightening to analyze human sexual behavior through another form (e.g., Fritz the Cat and other R. Crumb comix), so I'm grateful to my friend Margaux for telling me about these strange wooden sculptures by the great Man Ray, one of the most sensual of all 20th Century artists. Made in 1947, these figurines give new meaning to the term sex toys, and like the most effective sex toys, these are simple and elegant and innocent enough to not be recognized for what they are by your grandmother.

Keep in mind these figurines are married - Man Ray named them Mr. And Mrs. Woodman.

The male gaze 

Putting a woman on a pedestal is never the best strategy for winning her long-lasting devotion, but gazing at her often as if she belongs on a pedestal is rarely a wasted act.

For guidance, check the gaze of this man in Larry Fink's 1977 photo inside New York City's Club Cornish.

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