Category: Submissions

Porn Digital Art, Habits of Highly Erotic People

I enjoy sharing blogs and articles I think the attendees of the Erotic Literary Salon will appreciate. Nerve and The Paris Review are today’s blog contributors.

The Habits of Highly Erotic People

What can the French teach Americans about sex?

vintage french adFrom a 1923 French advertisement

Last month, as the New York Post went into paroxysms over the latest French presidential love triangle, we found a more academic comment on French habits of the heart, thanks to our attendance at a panel on “The Art of Sex and Seduction,” sponsored by the Alliance Française. On the first of its three nights, entitled “Did the French invent love?”, Catherine Cusset, a former professor of French literature at Yale, told a story:

A countess invites a young man to her house after running into him at the opera. After a stiff meal with her husband, who retires to his private apartments, the countess leads her guest down a secret passageway into a bedroom. The walls and ceiling are covered with gilded mirrors. Sexual frenzy ensues. At daybreak, the giddy, exhausted young man emerges from the den and runs into a marquis who has just arrived. The marquis thanks him profusely. The young man realizes that he has served merely as a decoy to distract the count from his wife’s true lover. The husband appears for breakfast and greets the marquis cordially. The last line of this story—Vivant Denon’s No Tomorrow, first published in 1777—reads, “I looked for some moral to this adventure and … I could find none.”

“There is no moral lesson,” Cusset said pointedly, and a communal gasp could be heard in Florence Gould Hall. Throughout the series, the audience was susceptible to gasps, audible stirring, and sudden eruptions of laughter. The French and American panelists, who included historians, scientists, sex therapists, and journalists, spoke about vaginas and orgasms in that purposefully blunt way one always expects and yet can seldom prepare for. Here’s what we learned about the difference between French and American sexual customs and attitudes, with a few startling facts about tout le monde.

  • “Love, for the French, is tied up with adultery,” explained Marilyn Yalom, a feminist scholar at Stanford. Marriage in the Middle Ages, as least in the upper classes, was a contract related to the exchange of rank and property. Love was, therefore, to be found outside the marriage, leading to the mythic French threesome: the husband, the wife, the mistress.
  • Studies show that Americans and French have similar rates of infidelity, but the French, “marathoners,” have longer, and therefore fewer, affairs. Americans are “sprinters,” with more frequent but shorter trysts.
  • Older French women are considered sexual beings. A nonagenarian is to be respected as a repository of sexual history. When Colette was nearing fifty, pointed out her biographer Judith Thurman, she had an affair with her sixteen-year-old stepson, among other men-children.
  • Cusset once assigned Woman Destroyed, the novella by Simone de Beauvoir, in a class at Yale. The diary of a woman who discovers her husband of twenty years has been unfaithful, it records a gradual nervous breakdown. Cusset was surprised by her American students’ reaction. “They thought she whined too much. They didn’t understand that you can be broken by love.” Love as the loss of control—whether it brings ecstasy or devastation, within or without marriage—is a French ideal. Total surrender is too much for an American. We prefer to check boxes for the ideal mate.
  • More casually accepted notions in France: When a woman has married and produced the heir and a spare, she is free to live her own sexual life. A lover outside the marriage can save a marriage.
  • Marie de Bonaparte, a great-niece of the emperor and a student of Freud’s, was convinced that her frigidity was the result of an anatomical defect. After measuring the distance from the clitoris to the vagina in a group of women, she found that those with a shorter distance were more orgasmic. She had surgery to shorten hers. It didn’t work. She did it again, with no better luck.
  • Forty million Americans describe themselves as sex-starved. According to Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers and chief scientific consultant to the dating site, it is often a question of mismatched libidos—an adventurer paired with a traditionalist, for example.
  • Studies show single Americans are having sex especially rarely. An audience member blamed Internet porn; the American sex therapist Ian Kerner theorized that everyone was too tired.
  • Women who had their cervixes wired for signs of stimulation were shown images of heterosexual, gay, and lesbian porn, and one image of bonobo chimpanzees having sex. The women claimed not to be excited by anything but “appropriate” images, but the instruments showed otherwise. The women were turned on by all the images, including the monkeys. Men, subjected to the same study, were excited by the predictable, and mostly said so. None of them reacted to the monkeys.
  • In a survey of five thousand Americans, 70 percent said they experienced sexual boredom in their relationship, but eighty percent of married couples said they would remarry the same person.
  • Women get bored sexually with the same partner much sooner than men. According to one study, women experience “a catastrophic decline of interest” after three years whereas men show a much more gradual erosion.
  • Studies and anecdotal accounts show rape fantasies to be ubiquitous among women.
  • In France, “flirting is a civic duty.” Flirting is playing with le fleuret, the tip of the sword.
  • There is a point of no return in the process of seduction, wrote the French eighteenth-century erotic writer Crebillon Fils, which is when the woman signals that she won’t say no.
  • As human animals, we have our own observable sexual cues. Females tend to tip their buttocks up during courting. There is also the “copulatory gaze,” during which the pupils dilate.
  • Manon Lescaut and Dangerous Liaisons were named the sexiest works of literature. Also, The Story of O still stands as a minor erotic masterpiece.
  • Why the French are not as morally conflicted about sex as Americans: “The French are keenly aware of the brevity of time and the immediacy of pleasure.”
  • For the French, love is “embedded in the flesh.” Americans “prefer to imagine love without the body.”
  • According to a French audience member in her twenties, there is no French translation for a date, as in the official dinner/movie outing, which she clearly thought sounded deadly.
  • A French therapist would not necessarily encourage, as would an American one, more “communication in bed.” Mystery, or what the French call le non-dit (“the unspoken”), is a better aphrodisiac.
  • An eager young woman had a question “from some friends.” Her “friends,” a new couple, were in love and very attracted to each other, but the man wouldn’t “release his inner wild man.” “What should she do?” the woman inquired, almost desperately. “She is ready for anything!” “When a man gets to know a woman, “ said the expert, “sometimes he becomes self-conscious about objectifying her that way. He thinks it’s wrong.” There was a silence as we considered the sensitivity of this hypothetical male. Then the American science writer suggested talking dirty to break the ice.

On all three nights, the audience was about fifty percent male, which surprised us. The third night, entitled “Behind the Boudoir: The Secrets of Sex Appeal,” attracted an especially attentive group, most of whom appeared in their seventies. The French audience members, whom we might assume to be appealingly jaded, were just as riveted as everyone else. Throughout the series, the ubiquitous French affirmation c’est normal (“that’s normal,” or “we are only human”) hung in the air as we delved into the often bizarre complexities of sex, and for a moment, we felt a uniquely Gallic pleasure: exulting in the complexity of a problem rather than searching for its solution.

Someone asked what Americans could teach the French about sex and seduction. There was a puzzled silence. Finally, the cultural historian suggested that French men could be encouraged to help out more with household tasks, with an important caveat: “Egalitarianism is wonderful in the kitchen but boring in the bedroom.”

Making Porn into Digital Art (NSFW) – Nerve

Italian artist Dom Barra works in the emerging field of Dirty New Media Art. Jon Cates, a professor at the Art Institute of Chicago says Dirty New Media’s mission is “to express a contrast with the kind of cleanliness that is [associated] with more commercial or corporate styles of digital art and design. It refers to a menagerie of alternative practices and subcultures spanning from punk and digital sampling to piracy and pornography.” Barra says this is done through, “using softwares not designed for the image editing task such as text editing and music softwares. Through these process I manage to corrupt/glitch digital format such as .jpg, .gif, .avi, .bmp, .raw, .tif, .iff and so on.” Barra says of his subject matter, “I work with porn because I think it fits well with the glitch art aesthetics, that feeling of stolen images, corrupted TV signals from a dystopian cyberpunk scenarios. I also believe that sex is the best expression of the human body and its power and energy. I love the way it shows these qualities in a glitched picture/video/gif.”


dom barra - untitled 4 - pirate porn material (1)

Dom Barra - untitled- Dirty Process series
dom barra - untitled - a picture is never private (1)

dom barra - untitled

Dom Barra - Untitled - Red Link District

dom barra - wrecking penis - the thin line between porn and pop

dom barra - untitled 4 - red link district

dom barra - untitled - pirate porno material

dom barra - untitled 2 - red link distric

dom barra - untitled 3 - pirate porn material

Fuck Yes: Sex-Ed Series for Adults

New sex-positive videos by F*ck Yes!


“With issues of consent at the center of so many conversations lately, F*ck Yes is just the kind of raw, honest entertainment we need.”

A couple negotiates what it might be like to incorporate a little porn into their sex life.

Things have gotten hot and heavy, but there’s no protection in sight. What’s a couple to do?


Lesson: If you ask for what you *actually* want, you might *actually* get it.


Consent is still sexy, even in a long-term relationship.

Free Sample-Orgasm Command-Erotica Audiobook, Next Tues-Jan 19-The Erotic Literary Salon-Live

Irene Reinke will dance while balancing this scimitar on her head.


Remote control vibrator in sync with erotica books. My friend Essemoh Teepee narrates his ebooks, free sample of Orgasm Command (He has an unbelievably sexy, British accent.)


Recommended For Women

Narrated by Essemoh

Come hard for me now! Let ‘The Master’ guide you on a journey of pure pleasure. You can try to resist your lover’s command if you want, but it is futile. Besides, why would you want to? Writhe, beg, plead but you will give in and be very glad that you did. Part of the Original DEV series, this early audio helped shape DEV© into the pleasure powerhouse it is today.

Reminder – Next Tuesday, January 19 – The Erotic Literary Salon-Live

Featuring Fusion Tribal Belly Dancing and Flamenco – Sword Dance by Irene Reinke.

2 FREE Videos-Sex Inside The Vagina & New York Public Library’s Erotica Collection

NSFW Video – “There are lots of ways to watch sex in this world, but here’s a unique and illuminating perspective: sex from inside a vagina. Highly informative, yet in no way safe for an open-office floor plan, this clip — narrated by scientists who explain the body’s various contractions, secretions, and reactions…. The final result is a video that was made purely for scientific study, showing every moment of their encounter.

More at: 

Lifting the Veil on the New York Public Library’s Erotica Collection

***, the symbol was called.

When *** was handwritten on books and periodicals in the New York Public Library’s permanent collection, it meant one thing: supervision required.

The triple-star code, created some time in the first part of the 20th century, identified the printed works that were considered too hot for the general reader to handle.

Playboy was once classified with a triple star. So were raunchy pulp novels, fliers for Times Square massage parlors, business cards offering phone sex for $2 a minute, even playing cards with illustrations of naked women.

For decades, they were kept in locked cages, accessible only with special permission and viewed in a small, secured area in the main research library.

More recently, hundreds of works that make up the triple-star collection have been liberated from the restricted controls. An adult with a library card can simply fill out a request and peruse the material on the premises. (The library maintains a filter system to restrict access to erotic materials on the Internet.)

“Erotica was not something we were particularly going after, but we needed to collect life as it was lived,” said Jason Baumann, a collections curator. “We needed to understand and document for history what the city of New York was like. That meant collecting the good and the bad. It was always part of our mandate.”

The triple-star collection is a miniature version of the vast archive of erotica at France’s National Library. That collection, called “L’Enfer” (“Hell”), dates from the 19th century, when the library, in Paris, isolated any work considered “contrary to good morals.” In 2008, the National Library mounted its first major exhibition of highlights from the collection. It drew record crowds; no one under 16 was admitted.

The New York Public Library, by contrast, has never had a similar exhibition. The materials are not as rich, and the standards of what is considered proper for an exhibition in a public institution differ in France from those in the United States.

And unlike France’s National Library, whose sexually explicit material is contained in one archive, only a part of the Public Library’s erotica was designated triple star. The rest is dispersed in other collections in the building, including in the Berg Collection of English and American Literature (rare books and manuscripts) and the Spencer Collection(artists’ books and illuminated manuscripts).

A guided visit to the library revealed some of the richness of its erotic (or pornographic, depending on who was doing the classification) material. The works are hidden treasures, many of them awaiting discovery. Not even the curators and librarians know everything that is there.

“There were many materials in the library’s special collections that I had never seen before,” Mr. Baumann said. “The range and depth of our collections never ceases to astonish me.”

The main building of the Public Library had such an impact on the neighborhood that there was once a massage parlor a block away on West 43rd Street named the Library. A 1976 flier in the *** collection advertised its $10, tip-included service, with “7 Beautiful Librarians to Service You.” The flier shows a longhaired “librarian” dressed in a necklace and high heels. A large bunch of feathers covers her private parts.

As part of the library’s mandate to collect life as it was lived, small teams of librarians were dispatched in the 1970s to Times Square pornography shops to scoop up representative samples of the latest erotica. Among the paperback titles in the collection: “Animal Urge,” “The 48-Hour Orgy,” “Beach Stud” and “All Day Sucker.”

“The bookstore owners hated it when we showed up,” said Christopher Filstrup, a former librarian who was part of the shopping brigade. “But we loved it. Books and magazines were organized just the way librarians do it, by subject — fetish, S and M, black and white, that kind of thing. Since I was head of the Oriental Division my assignment was Asians.

“Oh, I did chubby, too.”

The pulp novels and sexually explicit how-to books were printed on such poor-quality paper that the bulk of them were preserved on microfilm; the original books were discarded.

But hundreds were kept, including books disguised as sociology whose aim was titillation. They had titles like “Mass Orgasms: A Study of Group Sex Activity” and “Fornication and the Law.”

The library was one of the first major American institutions to invest heavily in the collection of erotic gay and lesbian literature, and it now boasts one of the country’s finest collections in American gay history. “We collected in the heyday of midcentury gay erotica,” Mr. Baumann said. “Looking back, we were pioneers.”

The library’s collection was enhanced in 1988 when it was given the archives of the New York-based International Gay Information Center, much of which dealt with gay and lesbian sex and sexuality.

The library has highbrow erotica as well. Deep in the Berg rare book collection, for example, is a work that has never been publicly displayed: William Faulkner’s pencil drawings of him and Meta Carpenter Wilde, his mistress, having sex.

Ms. Wilde gave the drawings to the library on condition that they remain inaccessible until the death of Faulkner’s daughter, Jill Faulkner Summers, who died in 2008.

“No researchers have been in to see them, but they certainly could do so,” said Isaac Gewirtz, the Berg’s curator of literary manuscripts.

Asked why the library had not publicized the availability of the drawings, he replied, “I thought it would be unseemly, since we know the identity of the persons in the drawings. They’re listed in our catalog for anyone to see.”

Mr. Gewirtz displayed the drawings on a long table along with other prizes in his collection, including Henry Miller’s typewritten manuscript for “Tropic of Capricorn,” with his handwritten edits; a 1947 humorous, pornographic cartoon by the novelist Jack Kerouac; a first edition of a pornographic poem by W. H. Auden; a first edition of Vladimir Nabokov’s English-language novel “Lolita,” published in Paris in 1955 after Nabokov failed to find a publisher in the United States.

Also in the Berg Collection, in the archived papers of Terry Southern, the writer, is a carbon copy typescript of the comic, erotic novel “Candy,” with emendations in Southern’s hand.