Category Archives: women

Bettie Page (Innocence courting the Dark)

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I have been a fan of Bettie Page since her resurgence in the eighties. She died in 2008, and was a sweet Christian little old lady. Bettie had an innocence even when posing completely nude and in suggestive ways. It is hard to get to the bottom of her appeal. There were many pinups in the fifties, but Bettie stood out. I think it is because when men looked at her nude photos it was as if they had violated Bettie herself. She seemed sweet and innocent, unaware of the lustful intents of her fans, and would have been shocked if she knew what men did as they viewed her photos. At least this is what men wanted to imagine. Women who no longer felt the slightest shame and viewed sex completely as a necessary commodity in order for them to live, in other words, whores, were not much of a turn on to men who wanted to dominate their women. Bettie seemed to invite such domination.

But of course all of this is nonsense. Bettie knew what she was doing, but it is true that she might have developed a split personality isolating the naughty Bettie from the God-fearing Bettie. She claimed to see nothing wrong with what she did, but I am not sure I believe her. She took her Christianity very seriously, perhaps too seriously. I don’t know any of the particulars of why she spent time in a mental hospital, but I suspect it may have been the conflict between her religious values and her livelihood may have sent her around the bend.

Bettie was sexy in a kind of effortless way. She seemed to keep a bit of herself hidden from view, pure and unsullied. We could lust over her lovely body but not her soul. Sex should never become ordinary and unremarkable. There should be a dark thrill at the sight of a woman’s pubic hair. It brings forth the desire to possess, to conquer, to rape and pillage. Pure naked lust married to aggression is the driving force behind the appeal of Bettie Page’s fetishistic work. It is disguised as playful, but this stuff is dark. It involves degradation and humiliation. Sexual pleasure becomes confused with these things, and with physical pain itself. It is curious that Bettie appeared to embrace this lifestyle, given her near obsession with Christianity. I am sure she claimed she didn’t really understand what all the bondage stuff was about, but I think that is disingenuous. She knew. She liked it. Then she could no longer accept this courting of the Dark, and reinterpreted her life to preserve her innocence. At least this is how it seems to me.

This still doesn’t get to the bottom of her appeal. She is naughty in a non-naughty way. She was a way of satisfying one’s prurient desire while pretending to have only an ‘artistic’ interest in Bettie Page. This is true even of this post. Is she really the icon of hip female sexuality? or is she the icon of the rape of the innocent and the subjugation and humiliation of women? Perhaps both. Bettie was the beginning of the metrosexual. A culture in which it is cool to find pleasure in pain, and that your body should be a banquet for all your admirers to feed upon. Having said all that I am still a fan of Bettie Page although I admit to having mixed feelings about it, as I have mixed feelings about any pornography. But this isn’t pornography, I can hear some of you saying. Sure it is. If you are getting a boner looking at it, it has excited your prurient interest. Not necessarily a bad thing. Do I feel some of you squirming as you contemplate your values. Good. I have achieved my purpose.

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Sex Death

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Just look at her and think, I mean really think. This is the face of death, not the face of pleasure, or of sex, just Sex Death.

This is a difficult piece to write. I noticed that stellamarr was following stockphotogirl, one of my other blogs. If you haven’t checked out that blog you should do so before finishing this piece so you will know what I am going on about. And so I checked out her blog, and in turn I checked out the secret diary of a Dublin call girl. This is not easy reading, especially for a man. Stella Marr is an ex-call girl, now a writer. I know next to nothing about the sex industry to be honest, although I have very liberal views about sex, and about women. I am dead set against the exploitation of women in any form, and yet am I exploiting stock photo woman? When she posed for those photos she understood that her image would be used for advertising, but not to illustrate a work of fiction. I wonder how she would feel about my whole series. Would she feel abused? But more about that later, my focus for this post is on the horror of prostitution, and the world of call girls. The photo above says it all as far as street prostitution is concerned. She is anorexic either due to drug use or just because she thinks she needs to be super thin to be a suitable commodity. Whatever is the case, I am literally sickened by the fact that sex has become a means for demeaning and destroying the lives of millions of women, and actually, to a lesser extent, the men who prey on them. When I read blogs like the secret diary of a Dublin call girl I want my penis to shrivel up to the size of a pea and then fall off. It makes me ashamed of my sexuality. Young women are perceived as sex objects every minute of their lives, usually in more subtle ways than what is involved in outright prostitution. I think it comes as a shocking discovery to many young men that women are in fact human like themselves, and exist for reasons other than sexually satisfying men. A lot of young and older men never make this discovery. I have a very hard time of it, because I have unwittingly used women. I try to redeem it with the writing itself, transforming stock photo girl into an actual human being. At least, I hope I have succeeded in doing this. But that whole thing is based on an infatuation I had with that model, so sex is it’s underpinning. I would not want to demean or embarrass that model. But am I anyway? Am I being demeaning in ways I don’t understand or detect? This is the problem for many men. We can’t always tell when we are being thoughtless towards women. Or am I being unduly harsh on myself? In the one sexual scene I wrote with stock photo girl, she was not used or abused in any way. He didn’t pay for sex, the fantasy was consensual, in fact it had been her idea. Plus I deliberately stood on it’s head the usual expectations of a male reader regarding sexual encounters. Women being in awe of a man’s sexual prowess just isn’t my bag, I can’t write that crap.

I would recommend that men read secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress, which is Stella Marr’s blog, as well as the secret diary of a Dublin callgirl. Because we need that perspective. When we get caught up in our sexual fantasies this provides a bit of realism. Women do not exist for our sexual pleasure. They have lives which have nothing to do with us, which we should familarize ourselves with. Some guys get really pissed off by these women, if you are the sort of man who can’t handle ‘uppity’ women, you should steer clear. Now, as I have made clear on several occasions, I am a bit of a pervert, I have a perverse imagination to be sure, so don’t think from what I have written here that I am some kind of holy saint. Or that I am a feminist. No. My misogynist roots are deep, and it takes blogs like Stella Marr’s blog or Margaret Cho’s blog to help dig those roots out. In a word, dear reader, you have no idea, really no idea just how degrading prostitution is for all concerned, but especially for the prostitute. It is Sex Death as far as I am concerned. It kills all the pleasure anyone might obtain from sex. Now I recognize that there may be exceptions to this, but they are exceptions that prove the rule. I’m talking about the scummy underbelly of the sex industry. The part that industry prefers you not know about. Now I am not a psychologist and I can’t examine what causes women to take that road, sometimes they really have no choice in the matter. They may be literal sex slaves, prostitutes because they would be killed otherwise, or it may be because they see no other option. Sex is the most powerful drug on Earth, when you harness sex to other needs it is damn near impossible to deal with. It takes over your life, It ceases to be a source of pleasure, and empowerment, and becomes an agony, a sex death. It makes me want to be celibate, and never write pieces like “An Indecent Proposal” again. But after a bit, I gain some perspective.

I should not be ashamed of my love of sex. But I should keep a good eye (my one good eye), on my intention. What am I trying to achieve with sex? Is a woman’s body a commodity? Am I redeeming myself when I take an obvious commodity such as a Stock Photo Woman and attempt to make her a real character? While I definitely have the hots for that model, I also wonder about what she is like as a person. Am I exploiting her? I would like to think I’m not by virtue of how I have used her image. To be honest, the entire fashion industry is founded upon women as sex objects, and very particular sex objects at that. If a woman doesn’t look like the beautiful, perfectly crafted stock photo women they see everywhere, then a man is sorely disappointed. Guys????? Hello????? These women are pure product, as far as the image is concerned. They don’t exist in real life. Take a look at the actual women you see every day, in the flesh. My intention with Stock Photo Woman was to repurpose all of that nonsense. Far from making her an empty shell, I have endeavored to sabotage male expectations. But I am a flawed man. I do not pretend to be free of male chauvinism. I am not a champion for women’s rights necessarily, although I do support that. I am just an older man with a crush on a stock photo woman. Does this make me a punter?, I wonder. A punter is a john in case you were wondering. And if you don’t know what a john is, then you are too young to be reading this material, go back to bed young man!

It is hard to have a sense of humor about these matters. I have to admit, I wonder at why Stella Marr would want to follow my stockphotogirl blog. Does she genuinely enjoy it? or does she want to see how this punter exploits an innocent model who didn’t ask to be in his story. If ever I get a complaint from this model, believe you me, the posts disappear just like that. I have no desire to hurt anyone. Or am I just full of shit, as usual? Let me know. Especially you, Stella Marr.

The Harlot’s House

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Lady Lilith by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (face enlarged)

THE HARLOT’S HOUSE

by: Oscar Wilde

E caught the tread of dancing feet,
We loitered down the moonlit street,
And stopped beneath the harlot’s house.

Inside, above the din and fray,
We heard the loud musicians play
The “Treues Liebes Herz” of Strauss.

Like strange mechanical grotesques,
Making fantastic arabesques,
The shadows raced across the blind.

We watched the ghostly dancers spin
To sound of horn and violin,
Like black leaves wheeling in the wind.

Like wire-pulled automatons,
Slim silhouetted skeletons
Went sidling through the slow quadrille.

The took each other by the hand,
And danced a stately saraband;
Their laughter echoed thin and shrill.

Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed
A phantom lover to her breast,
Sometimes they seemed to try to sing.

Sometimes a horrible marionette
Came out, and smoked its cigarette
Upon the steps like a live thing.

Then, turning to my love, I said,
“The dead are dancing with the dead,
The dust is whirling with the dust.”

But she–she heard the violin,
And left my side, and entered in:
Love passed into the house of lust.

Then suddenly the tune went false,
The dancers wearied of the waltz,
The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl.

And down the long and silent street,
The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet,
Crept like a frightened girl.
‘The Harlot’s House’ was originally published in The Dramatic Review (April, 1885).

Lady Lilith, 1866-68 (altered 1872-73)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)
Oil on canvas, 38 x 33 1/2 inches
Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935

Lilith, the subject of this painting, is described in Judaic literature as the first wife of Adam. She is associated with the seduction of men and the murder of children. The depiction of women as powerful and evil temptresses was prevalent in 19th-century painting, particularly among the Pre-Raphaelites. The artist depicts Lilith as an iconic, Amazon-like female with long, flowing hair. Her languid nature is reiterated in the inclusion of the poppy in the lower right corner—the flower of opium-induced slumber.

http://www.delart.org/collections/preraph/lady_lilith.html  The Link is for the Delaware Art Museum

This is the first of my attempts to put together art, poetry, and music of the same period, in this case the late Nineteenth Century. The music is by Richard Strauss, Dance of the Seven Veils.

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

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Rossetti: Proserpine

 The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of painters, poets, and critics formed in 1848. They wished to restore art and literature to a more spiritual form of expression, instead of the rather formal constraints of academic art. Certain simple conventions prevailed in art beginning with Raphael. There was a tendency to avoid ostentation or excessive realism in any form. The Pre-Raphaelite wanted to return to a style that sought to depict nature as accurately as possible with extreme detail, realism, and spectacular color. All of this was in the service of a more spiritual result. They were in the vanguard of the Romantic movement in the arts. The Brotherhood didn’t last that long, by the end of the 1860’s they had more or less gone their separate ways, but their work inspired the later Symbolists and eventually the Decadence movement. The primary artists within the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and Daniel Gabriel Rossetti. What I really like about these artists are how they depict the female form. They conveyed the magical quality of a woman’s face. There is a rich sensuality to their works due to the hyperrealism (my term. they were HD before the term existed). and vivid use of beautiful sexy colors. Beauty and sex are so closely related it is hard to separate the two. Sex is the desire to become one with the beautiful beloved, to merge together forming a new, uniquely beautiful and sexy being, and on it goes. From my perspective, art can serve a magical purpose, allowing the viewer to access parts of his or her self in ways not possible in any other way. Besides, it is awkward and rude to stare at a beautiful woman, however a painting of a beautiful woman can be stared at with delight, with no ill consequences. Alas, in some respects, all realistic art is pornographic. This is why realistic art was banned in the middle ages. I used to think they just didn’t have the skills, but no, the simple unrealistic forms are deliberate. Notice Rossetti’s use of the pomegranite (at least, I think that is what she’s holding). An unconscious association is made with the vagina. In the world of the pre-Raphaelite and even more so, the Symbolists and Decadents, objects and settings are symbols of other things or ideas. The paintings are a way of pointing to experiences that cannot be shown or heard, the spiritual realm if you will. It appeals to both my spiritual and perverse imaginations. There are many artists which have been considered Pre-Raphaelite who actually painted much later, such as John William Waterhouse, Gustave Moreau, These painters often used ancient myths and medieval tales as source material. Carl Jung would have said they were giving form to the universal archetypes of the collective unconscious. Freud would have said these paintings were a way of giving expression to their overflowing libido. They could both be right. All I know is that I can stare at these paintings for hours, lost in a reverie. For me, the experience is akin to the transformation of the senses which takes place when you fall in love. Everything becomes transformed, there is a special quality to the light, and the colors are magnificent when you are in love. I think that experience lies at the heart of pre-Raphaelite paintings. Then add a little Lord Byron, Shelley, or Yeats, and it is a veritable orgy of Romanticism. Perfect for young lovers!

Millais “Autumn Leaves” 1856

 Check out Proserpine by Rossetti above, do you see the hair? Rossetti could depict such rich, lush, hair better than anyone! You feel as though you could reach out and stroke her thick lovely hair. And the look within those dark eyes cannot be fully expressed. It depicts someone in deep thought, tinged with melancholy, and yet it is relatively subtle compared to the melodramatic style of the Symbolists. That is a useful distinction between the pre-Raphaelite and Symbolist. The Symbolist creates pure icons, divorced from that super realistic style of the pre-Raphaelite. The pre-Raphaelite uses nature itself to create that spiritual tipping point into blissful or perhaps mournful reverie. We have all had those pre-Raphaelite moments if you will, within our daily lives. Moments which are indelibly pressed into our consciousness. John Everett Millais, on the left, depicts what is for me an incredibly poignant scene, but not maudlin such as you might find in a Norman Rockwell print of the same kind of scene. Once again the effect is subtle but powerful. The light in this painting evokes autumn perfectly, and the expressions on the girl’s faces evoke a slight melancholy, but also pleasure. There is a hint of sadness even in the landscape. This is how autumn feels. Millais is a bit more conventional, not resorting to the hyper realism of Rossetti. You might say Millais preferred using more of a soft focus in his work. But I still can’t get over the exquisite use of color! One good thing about the internet age is the fact that you have entire art galleries at your fingertips. Of course it isn’t the same as having the paintings right in front of you, but at least you can access vast archives of paintings. I would encourage you to google these artists and see what you can find. Your computer monitor can serve as an imaginary light table bringing those paintings to life!

William Holman Hunt: Isabella and the pot of basil 1868

 Finally, for this post, I include one of the many wonderful paintings by William Holman Hunt. Look at the richness of detail and the sensual colors. It convinces me that ancient light was filled with delight. The face is a real face. This could easily be a HD digital photograph, the attention to strict realism is that good. Hunt’s women are voluptuous and invite lust as well as intellectual appreciation, Pre-Raphaelites delighted in the senses. They wanted us to see what they saw, touch what they touched, and feel what they felt. You feel as though you could reach out and hold that tablecloth in your hands! The pre-Raphaelites were not appreciated in their own time. They became very popular in the nineteen sixties drug culture because this kind of vivid realism and rich sensuality matches well the kind of languid eroticism produced by the ingestion of the best cannabis. I think the hippie subculture could also relate to the spirituality of these paintings. Spiritual eroticism! I suppose that could describe many of the pre-Raphaelite paintings. I will try to post more about the later Symbolist and Decadent schools of painting that owe a substantial debt to the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Enid

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Enid my Eternal Muse

This post is in praise of Enid, a character from Daniel Clowes’ graphic novel Ghost World, which was made into a great cult film starring Thora Birch and Scarlett Johannson. Thora is brilliant in this film. I fell in love with her portrayal of Enid. Enid is me. I am Enid, She is my inner female, without a doubt. If I were a woman, I would be Enid. She is witty, sexy, and kind of otherworldly. You can’t hope to really get to know her, you can only marvel at her existence. Daniel Clowes’ version is a bit darker than the film version. Thora brings a sweetness to the character, hidden beneath her constant stream of sarcasm. This is the Enid I prefer. She wants everyone to think she doesn’t give a damn, but secretly she cares. A lot! Just like me.

Hey! Look! I'm Batgirl!

Enid spots this fetish item in a porn shop and cannot resist putting it on. She sees humor in the sordid, as do I. Hey, look I’m Batgirl! She doesn’t say that in the film, but she should have! Daniel Clowes created an enigma with the Enid character. You want to get inside her head and examine her brain. She is drawn to the rejected, the lonely, the crazy lost souls of Ghost World. Ghost World is clearly her world. She is vibrantly alive, surrounded by ghosts.

I was struck by the scene shown below, in which Enid and her friend talk to the crazy old guy that always sits at an abandoned bustop. They try to explain that the bus doesn’t stop there anymore, but he insists it does. At the end of the film, a bus does arrive at this bustop and Enid boards it. This bus is from ‘another place’, as David Lynch would put it, and now Enid is where she belongs, far far away from the dismal Ghost World the rest of us have to endure. She is dressed in red, which is rich in symbolic meaning which I won’t go into here.

I feel as though I know Enid, as though she is a real person. I can feel her presence, commenting acidly on our current cultural stupidity. She pretends to be shocked, but she never is. Nothing gets past Enid.

Bustop in Limbo

The movie doesn’t give us the pleasure of seeing Enid as a little girl, although Clowes’ did a few Ghost World comics with little Enid. I bought a great Little Enid action figure which I have to share with you, because it is unbearably cute.

Isn't she cute?

It was unfortunate that the film did not include the reason for the film’s name. The name Ghost World came from graffiti the girls saw scrawled on a garage door. I love that image. It could have been at the end of the opening credits or something. If only they could have had me there to advise them!

Finally, I will leave you with a great shot from the film. The genius of this film was in capturing how kids fresh out of high school really look and act. Enid is the essence of cool, but also a confused young woman too wise for her years.

Supergirl foils me again

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She has super intuition? Who knew?

Someday Supergirl will be mine!! I was going to post this great story about how Stock Photo Woman (see earlier posts), is actually Supergirl’s alter ego for the twenty-first century. I had caught her peeling off the fake black eye and..my God! Is that an S on her chest? Now that the real Supergirl is on to the hoax, I’ll have to say that the S stands for Stock. Oh, well…it was such a clever hoax. But it never pays to mess with Supergirl!! I didn’t count on her super intuition. She has super intuition? Who knew? Curses! Foiled again!

I have had a crush on Supergirl since I was a boy. It was that sexy little miniskirt she wore. Be honest, fellow baby boomers, didn’t it drive you nuts, too? I was just talking to Superman the other day (sure we know each other, why wouldn’t we?), and he told me that when he was Superboy, he’d fly behind her and try to catch a glimpse of her…” “Why didn’t you just use your x-ray vision?” I asked. “Oh I tried all that, but she wears lead-lined underpants!” “Smart girl!” I said, smirking. “You know, Russell, I could just give you a slight smack and your head would sail off and be in orbit in a fraction of a second!” “Yeah, but you won’t do that!” I said unconcerned. Superman is always making those idle threats. He should just grow up! Ok, I admit it. I made all that up.

But seriously, I have always been obsessed with the idea of a strong powerful woman. Without going into all the gruesome psychological underpinnings of this obsession, let’s just say I had a dominant, outgoing powerful mother. My Dad? He was shy, like me. I’m sure my mother was his Supergirl. But I loved it when women would kick butt. Wonder Woman was awesome too, but you had to be extra careful around her. You couldn’t be having all those horny thoughts about her nearly naked body because she might whip out her magic lasso and force you to tell the truth. Oops! How embarrassing! Catwoman was nice too, what a fox!, I mean cat, oh whatever. She was especially sexy with that whip. Who knew comics could be so kinky! But I really loved Batgirl, something about a girl in a cowl…it’s totally hot! Girls intrigued me from a very young age, I always wanted to know what they were thinking. They lived in a strange enchanted world, off limits to grubby little boys. Guys? They’re just guys, what can I say? I don’t know what women see in them really. I mean I like guys, I am one myself, but there is nothing mysterious or erotic, for me anyway, about guys. Women? Quite a different matter. They fascinate me! That is what lies at the heart of my when-is-this-going-to-end? Stock Photo Girl/Woman series. I just love thinking about beautiful women. You notice I never show my own picture? Why ruin a great romance with my ugly mug?

But I got off track, as usual. Supergirl knew this would happen. I would just end up humiliating myself yet again. Super intuition. Damn! How can I get around this problem? Wrap my head in aluminum foil? Nope. Tried that. I guess I will just have to get used to Supergirl knowing my every move. Oh, Supergirl! I just want one little ride on your back! Is that too much to ask? I know she heard me, she has super intuition!

Tough break Brainiac 5! I know how it feels.

All comics are the property and copyright of DC Comics.

Return of Lolita

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Recently, I have been writing an ongoing series called Stock Photo Girl Fantasy and today, I considered whether or not to include the fact that I am 58 years old and Stock Photo Girl looks to be in her mid to late twenties. It would give the story a strange twist, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there. It definitely reminded me of one of my favorite movies of all time, Lolita. Not the recent one, but the original Kubrick film. I even considered having her co-workers tease her and call her Little Lolita. In the Stock Photo Girl saga, I am definitely Humbert Humbert.

I agree with David Lynch that Kubrick’s Lolita is a perfect film. Everybody in it does a superb job! James Mason conveys perfectly just how hopelessly in love he is. It is a love that Lolita cannot understand, but she is nevertheless touched by it. But, of course, getting seriously involved with a man old enough to be her father is out of the question. It is natural and understandable that she would settle down with a man close to her age. Peter Sellers is also brilliant, and I can’t help thinking that he deserved his fate. But my heart goes out to poor Humbert Humbert.

Why are older men so attracted to young women? Well because, first of all, they don’t feel old inside. Their bodies played a dirty trick on them, growing old like that, and it is a difficult thing to accept sometimes. I can recall vividly my younger years and the experiences I had with younger women when I was young as well. It was this that I put to use in my Stock Photo Girl series. In my fantasies, I am young again! Also, when I gazed at the photos of Stock Photo Girl I felt young again. It was like a tonic. Older men lust after younger women because they lust after their own lost youth. It was a time when they felt vibrantly alive and didn’t worry about the future as much. A younger woman can bring back some of that. But it only lasts for a while, as was the case in Lolita. The younger woman gets bored with all of the obsessive attention, and after all, an older man may be intriguing, but they aren’t sexy. However, I wasn’t clear about the age of Russell in my Fantasy, and of course you never see a photo of him, so he could be older. It might be interesting to explore how a relationship between two people of such different ages would play out, after all it’s a fantasy. It would make the whole thing much more poignant, as it is in the film Lolita. The temptation to give my fantasy a happy ending is pretty strong, but I keep finding as I write that Stock Photo Girl keeps forcing me to keep it real. She may not allow me to be older, or if she does, I will have to pay the price, just as Humbert Humbert did. I will say this however, no one will die in my Fantasy, that is much too dramatic for a tongue-in-cheek series. Ah! Lolita, if only she understood how I felt! Life is so cruel!!