Reviewer 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. Her novella called Bending is out in Susie Bright's book Three Kinds of Asking For It (published by Simon & Schuster and can be found at amazon.com). 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 AdultFriendFinder. You can check out Ms. Christina on her web site, gretachristina.com.
by Didier Carre
Edition Skylight, ISBN 3-03766-558-0, $35.00
Available at Last Gasp, www.lastgasp.com, at www.amazon.com, and others.
There are times when you want inspiration from your erotica. And there are times when you want it to plant unforgettable images in your mind: to insinuate itself into your imagination with brilliantly clever seduction, or to beat down your barriers like a battering ram with the sheer power of its vision and passion.
And there are times when you want to see photos of naked girls with their legs open.
For those times, we have Stainless Ladies.
Stainless Ladies is an erotic photo book consisting entirely of photos of women with their legs spread wide open. There's no teasing, no pretense, no coy buildup from half-nakedness through various stages of concealment up to the final explicit exposure. In photo after photo, on page after page, women open their legs to the camera, boldly and brazenly, with no hesitation or shame. The photographer knows what folks want to see -- a lot of folks, anyway -- and he serves it up on a silver platter, in generous portions. The cover photo is by far the least explicit of the lot, and I get the feeling it's in the collection just so they'd have something to put on the cover.
The book has a surprisingly elegant quality to it. The fact that it's all in black-and-white helps, keeping it from having that garish, medical quality that extremely explicit porn photos so often have. And while the photos aren't exactly shining with artistic genius, they are skillful, with attention to things like lighting and shadow and composition. In fact, the sheer skill makes for quite a compelling show, even an unsettling one at times -- the graceful, formal, almost tasteful style, juxtaposed with content that couldn't be more pornographic if it tried.
The content is truly filthy. You don't just have women lying on their backs and opening their legs (although you do have quite a bit of that). There are women using their fingers to spread their pussies open, giving the audience an even more generous view. There are women turning away from the camera or hoisting their legs in the air while they spread themselves apart, offering their assholes to the camera along with their cunts. There are women with dildos in their pussies, or their assholes, or both -- dildos all made of glass or clear plastic, so as not to obstruct the view. The women are all completely naked as well; there's a bit of jewelry or a pair of high heels here and there, but nothing obstructing the view of the female body. And the women are all completely shaved, so nothing whatsoever is left to the imagination. This is porn with a single-minded purpose -- to provide images of women who are ready to be fucked. Now.
It's true that I normally prefer porn made with artistic passion as well as sexual passion, and with at least some sort of teasy foreplay-like buildup -- neither of which I get from this book. But I do have a certain respect for the purity of its pornographic intent. And I have to admit that the book is hot. It's both embarrassing and fascinating; it sat on my desk for weeks (full disclosure: I work for a company that sells and distributes Stainless Ladies, which is how I found out about it), and everyone who opened it flipped through it nervously for a few seconds and then put it down like they'd been burned. And that included me. It's such a blatant appeal to the most prurient of prurient interests, and looking at it makes you feel almost as naked and exposed as the women spread out in its pages. For all its stylish black-and-white artiness, it ultimately has no pretense of being anything other than a direct beeline to the crudest and hungriest part of the libido.
Which you really have to admire.
I do, anyway.
Now, there is one genuine downside to this book -- but unfortunately, it's a substantial one. And that's the almost clone-like physical similarity of the models. Without exception, the women in Stainless Ladies are tall, long-legged, and rail-thin -- in some cases, disturbingly so. Maybe I'm out of touch, but I don't find protruding ribcages and incipient anorexia to be even remotely sexy.
Though the smart and funny and filthy-minded will almost always get me off, regardless of the package it's in, I prefer curvy and soft to lean and mean. So I'll admit that part of my frustration with this book is personal preference -- alarmingly super-skinny women aren't my thing.
But even if I did have the hots for tall and bony, I'd still find the physical repetitiveness in this book irritating -- simply because it is repetitive. I have this kinky fetish for variety, simply for variety's own sweet dirty sake. And when you have so little variety in both your content (naked women with their legs spread open) and your style (stylish and Spartan black-and-whites, a la Helmut Newton), you desperately need some physical variety to break the monotony. And you don't get it in this book.
Yeah, sure, there are different poses. And it is rather astonishing, actually, to see so many poses and postures all displaying the female genitalia: women on their backs and their fronts and their sides; on sofas and chairs and beds; with their hands on their pussies and on their ass-cheeks and wrapped around their ankles; yada yada yada. In spite of all, however, this overriding sameness allows a certain sense of ennui to creep in after the initial prurient fascination wears off.
It's a common failing among adult photo books. All too many erotic photographers seem to choose their models for their adherence to a freakishly specific physical standard, without much attention to their sexual energy and expressiveness. Lucky for this book, it's not the kiss of death. As crudely obvious as its pornographic appeal is, Stainless Ladies is still unusual and distinctive, with an undeniable erotic punch. Its very obviousness is unusual and distinctive, and is a big part of its erotic punch. And it's not like I think all porn has to aspire to great artistry -- I think aspiring to great smuttiness is a perfectly worthwhile goal. I just think that a little physical variety could have catapulted Stainless Ladies from good smut to great.
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