Greta Christina has worked in and around the sex industry for over a decade writing about it, editing books about it, and living it. She edited Paying For It, a collection of articles by all kinds of sex workers: dommes, escorts, peep show girls, T-girls. She's got a novella called Bending coming out this July in Susie Bright's book Three Kinds of Asking For It (published by Simon & Schuster). In response to overwhelming member requests for reviews of sex toys, sexy films, and other sex whatnots, Ms. Christina brings her girl-about-sex wisdom twice monthly to Adult FriendFinder.
by Peter Gorman
Goliath Books ($39.95)
Photos of pretty naked girls. It's not like these are rare or hard to find. And I'm not even talking about the Internet. There are about eighty jillion books of photos of pretty naked girls -- and the overwhelming majority of them are sadly mediocre and all sort of the same. Some of them show pretty naked girls in stockings and high heels, and some show pretty naked girls from Eastern Europe, and some show pretty naked girls in bondage gear, and so on and so on. But despite these little distinctions, most of them look pretty much alike. And when Stripped Naked first crossed my path, I was ready to write it off as another one of these generic porn books, just another indistinguishable drop in a river of naked bodies. It did seem like that at first glance.
Until I opened it up.
What makes this one different?
For starters, photographer Peter Gorman took the pictures of the women in their own homes, in their living rooms and bedrooms and bathrooms and kitchens. While this isn't unheard of in porn photos, it is unusual -- especially for porn photos in books -- and it's strangely hot. It gives the pictures an immediacy, a sense of being right there in the room with the pretty naked girls, and it makes the pretty naked girls seem more real. The girl bent over her desk with her leg splayed out and her hand on her pussy -- she's bent over her actual desk, a desk with a phone book and a stack of junk and an overflowing wastebasket. The girl pulling down her pants in front of her closet mirror has notebooks and shoes and things neatly stored in that closet. The girl in the crinoline and boots and no panties is showing herself off in front of an overflowing bookshelf, with her foot propped up on a cheap office chair. And the girl sitting naked in front of a fan isn't doing it so her hair will blow back dramatically -- she looks like she's doing it because it's summer, and her apartment is hot. Women get on their hands and knees, or pull down their panties, or spread their legs and their pussies -- and the beds they do it on are unmade, or piled with laundry, with sheets that bunch up and wrinkle.
In other words, these aren't photos of an impossible dream world. The models don't seem like unattainable fantasies of perfect beauty and willingness, or like equally unattainable "bad girl" fantasies of insatiable sleaze, or even like your stereotypical sugary-sweet "girls next door" (a porn archetype that's somehow turned into another out-of-reach fantasy). They seem like real people, with real personalities, real sex lives, real pleasures and kinks. And consequently, they seem like women you could actually fuck. It feels like you could crawl inside the pages and grab them, roll around with them in their rumpled sheets, chase them across their messy floors, grind up against them on their thrift-store furniture. It's a fairly unusual quality in a dirty photo book, and I think it makes the book unusually good.
But while Stripped Naked is a good dirty photo book, I don't think it's a great one. There's a lot of little reasons for this, but there's mostly one big one: The models are physically too much alike. While the girls aren't as rigidly conformist as your standard nude models or porn stars, there is a pretty basic similarity to their bodies. They're all young -- I'd bet $100 that none of them is over 30. Almost all of them are white. And absolutely all of them are slender or skinny.
Now, bear with me for a moment. This isn't going to be your standard rant about body fascism and unrealistic expectations and increasingly narrow beauty standards and yada yada yada. I can certainly make that rant if anyone's dying to hear it; God knows I've made it before, it's not like I don't agree with it. But that's not my point here. My point isn't that the narrow range of body types in Stripped Naked is unhealthy, or un-feminist, or un-PC.
My point is that it's kind of un-sexy.
Here's what happened when I looked through Stripped Naked. I paged through the first half of the book with excitement and enthusiasm and an intense desire to shove my hand into my pants. I was eagerly flipping to the next picture to see what dirty ideas it might plant in my head, and mentally filing away my favorite images for future, uh, reference. But by the time I was halfway through, I found my attention wandering. It's not that the girls in the second half of the book are less beautiful, or that their poses are less enticing. It's just that they all started to seem like more of the same. The book's intimacy and immediacy and quirky personality began to fade, and it started to feel like just another indistinguishable bunch of photos of young skinny white chicks.
See, here's the thing. Out of all the fetishes that crowd my overstuffed libido -- girls being bent over, motorcycle boots, spanked bottoms, corsets, cocksucking, spread labia, pants pulled down halfway and no further -- the one fetish I treasure above all is variety. And that includes physical variety. Maybe it's because I'm part of the short-attention-span TV generation, or because I've seen too much porn and have gotten a bit jaded; but unless something really interesting is going on, too many naked women who look too much alike gets me bored pretty quickly.
This isn't a hard and fast rule. Take the renowned/beloved/infamous Porn Art and Porn Art 2, for example. Photographer Dahmane has filled two entire books with photos of just one model, Chloe des Lysses -- and it doesn't get tedious or repetitive for a second. Between the strikingly beautiful composition of the photos, and the startlingly dirty things that Chloe does in them... well, even with just the one model, the Porn Art books have enough, shall we say, variety in them to keep my hand in my pants for hours.
But while Peter Gorman is a good sex photographer, he isn't a great one. He doesn't have the imagination, or the technical virtuosity, or the taste for seriously perverse extremity that Dahmane and Chloe show so exuberantly in the Porn Art books. And while Stripped Naked certainly has more variety than many naked-girl photo collections, it doesn't have quite enough to push it over from good to great.
That being said, good is certainly better than not-good. And if you don't have my fetish for physical diversity, Stripped Naked may even get you off or linger in your mind and haunt you a little bit after you've put it down.
[Visit our reviewer, Ms. Christina, at her web site: www.gretachristina.com]
Home is Where the Naked Girls Are by Greta Christina
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