A great new resource capturing the life and work of the late Robert Mapplethorpe was recently unveiled by the art-via-internet access project, Artsy. At Sex Across America, we are honored to support their mission of helping to make all art accessible to everyone through the web—and in particular by highlighting such an innovative pioneer for both the art world as well as for positive sexuality: Robert Mapplethorpe.
The online Mapplethorpe gallery can be viewed here. We highly recommend sharing the resource far and wide throughout your social circles. Thank You.
(1/1/16) It wasn’t really all that long ago that kink was considered uber-taboo. Fortunately though, the masses appear to be finally waking up and smelling the 21st century. What was once strictly confined behind tightly sealed doors or within close-knit underground communities has garnered much more sunlight in recent years and even become rather fashionable.
To be sure, kinky lifestyles are nothing new, but there does seem to be a new, more positive trend emerging when it comes to exploring them. With the advent of the interwebs, access to lifestyle information became much easier. Additionally, for those trying to keep their exploration under the radar, the anonymity offered on the net afforded reasonably safe access. The flipside, however, is that it also enabled a lot of misinformation and, in many cases, unnecessary confusion. That said, the upside is that more and more people feel less alone and isolated in discovering and acknowledging their feelings and sexuality.
While there are way too many factors to list involved with how things got from there to here, suffice it to say that various forms of media played a large role. In the 80s and 90s, authors such as Anne Rice, John Warren, Jay Wiseman, Jon Jacobs, Will and Gloria Brame, Philip Miller and Molly Devon were instrumental in capturing a wide range of concepts and making them understandable to the masses while pioneering filmmakers such as Bruce Seven, Ernest Greene and Luc Wylder (who directed the widely acclaimed The Master’s Choice series) helped pave the way with kink-lifestyle portrayals on the screen. As these efforts gained increasing interest, more widespread attention built through such mainstream projects as 9 1/2 weeks, The Story of O, Secretary and Stanley Kubrick’s epic, Eyes Wide Shut among others, culminating with the recent 50 Shades frenzy. Whether reality or fantasy based, as these works expanded imagination and understanding, they inspired a new generation with willingness and confidence to push their own perceived boundaries in safe and fun ways.
Ironically, with all of the wonderful information out there now, the trick today when you think kink is that there’s no singularly universal way to go about it. Even the word itself means something different to different people. Therein lies the beauty–and the challenge. Pushing yourself to find the unique things that really turn you on beyond the common and mundane is a highly personal and intimate experience–and one that’s unique to each person. As long as the activities involved are among consenting adults and reasonable precautions are employed to ensure that no harm occurs, just be yourself and resist any temptation to have to justify yourself. It’s your life and you have every right to seek out experiences that bring you joy and fulfillment in whatever way works best for you. People, being funny animals, tend to prefer putting things (and occasionally, other people, for that matter) into neat little categorized bins, but that’s counterproductive for both creativity and confidence. Forget the labels. They’re generally useful as a common frame of reference in communicating, but beyond that, they belong on jars, not on people.
So, confidently shake off the imagined shackles of Boringville and start heading towards the growing understanding–and acceptance–found on the road to Kinkytown. The time has never been better to Think Kink.
(5/26/14) Art and publishing trends are really no different than those for style and fashion in the sense that they’re usually ever-moving targets that are often influenced by whatever’s the flavor of the day in the media, among celebrities or the prevailing technology at the moment. It’s the nature of the beast, fueling entire industries focused on market analysis and data crunching in order to predict–and perhaps even set–whatever wave is coming next. The irony of it all is that the so-called “trend experts” are usually wrong and most waves are only identified in the crystal optics of hindsight, often influenced by some unforeseen confluence of unrelated aspects. In a way, it’s good that logical algorithms cannot precisely account for the unpredictability of what a multitude of humans will choose to care about (or not) on any given day. While it thwarts a foolproof formula for what will cause something to go viral, it at least keeps us one step ahead of becoming one with a hive mind. Perhaps it’s a small step in the grand scheme, but an important one nonetheless.
In any event, hitting that moving target is not nearly as easy as most would have you believe. Take trends in published erotica, for example. While there’s much to be said of general market predictions in the 21st Century’s inaugural decade, few (if any) envisioned that women would be driving the major economic growth areas. It may have been a reasonable presumption to think otherwise, but ultimately the miss was based on flawed thinking and incomplete information. For one thing, it seemed a bit unlikely fifteen years ago that extreme elements of the genre would become more accepted in the mainstream so quickly. Additionally, a key missing ingredient back then was a viable e-reader. Ubiquitous today and getting better all the time, it really hadn’t hit its stride before Y2K, so it likely didn’t factor at all when many were trying to discern what the erotica market might look like in the years just ahead.
While women have historically outnumbered men in favoring written forms of erotica over image-based, it’s only been a short time where the difficulty (and perhaps, perceived embarrassment) of locating and purchasing intriguing (and increasingly, more risqué) fare has been mitigated by electronic means. As convenient and generally anonymous personal device technology advanced since the millennial turn, many women have taken full advantage, passing up any potential “risk” of being discovered by local busy-bodies hovering in “that” section of a bookstore and opting to point, click, plug and play instead. Through virtual systems, supply is significantly increased, access is now much easier and, in many cases, much less expensive; three economic factors leading to exponentially greater consumption–by mostly women.
Since the “50 Shades” phenomenon hit just a couple of years ago, many publishers have not only reported a steady stream of new erotica titles being submitted, but also a distinct movement towards more explicit content. Couple that to recent survey data compiled by Pew Research indicating that women outnumber men in recreational reading along with figures showing “Romance and Erotica” currently as the most popular e-reader genre and it’s pretty easy to see where this is all going.
Well, that is, unless the target moves in yet another unpredictable way again.