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2006 Authors Insider Tips

Beyond the Basics
With Tulsa Brown
The 30-Second Solution
Backstory vs. Flashback
Intimacy Begins With "I"
Hit the Ground Running
Make the Reader Leap
Meaningful Dialogue
Pulling the String
Central Image
Elegant Smut
Better Plots
Bitch Power


The Write Stuff
From Ashley Lister
Predefined Your Goals
Spell Ink Miss Takes
Plotting & Planning
Character Building
Speech Therapy
Talking Sense


Two Girls Kissing
With Amie M. Evans
Intro to Lesbian Erotica
3-Dimensional Characters
Submitting for Publication
Five Year Writing Plan
Setting Up Your Plan...
The Power of Naming
Language of Lesbian...
Sexual Description
What Can I say?


Hard Business
From Greg Herren
What Are Your Priorities?
How to Edit an Anthology
Follow the Guidelines...
A Cock is Just a Cock
But is it Still a Story?
Who Am I Fucking?
Potential Material
Rejection ...


The Business End
By Kate Dominic
Effective Cover Letters
How to Lose Contracts
Contracts: Agent Issues
Contracts: Read It!
Double Duty Bios
What's Sex?


Literary Streetwalker
By M. Christian
Ground Rules for Writers
No Muse is Good News
Effective Cover Letters
Location, Location
Say Something!
Dirty Words


The Erotic Book Docter
By Susie Bright
Marketing Your Book
Submission Concerns
Promotion Strategies


2006 Smutters Lounge

Pondering Porn
With Ann Regentin
Babes & Hunks of Erotica
Fantasy, Reality & Rape
Selling Ourselves Short
Selling Smut in Motown
The Frankenstein Bride
Frankenstein Revisited
Porn and Perfect Shoes
Porn's Passionate Pull
Instruments of Joy


Get All Worked Up
With J.T. Benjamin
Orwell's Eerie Parallels
Redefining Marriage
The Porn Menace
High-Quality Porn
About Profanity
Dirty Laundry
Big Brother
Sluts


Editorials

Wrong Reasons to do SM
by Midori

Sex Collectors
The Secret World of Consumers, Connoisseurs, Curators, Creators,
Dealers, Bibliographers, and Accumulators of Erotica
by James William Johnson


Book Review by Rob Hardy



It is not surprising to come across a person who collects things: stamps, coins, books. No one considers such collecting remotely abnormal, even though a person might get so focused on collecting as to be unable to talk with interest about anything else. Then there are the people who collect erotic items, and that makes alarm bells go off. Of course, the erotica collectors are not as likely to bore us with their collections as, say, Barbie collectors are. For one thing, erotica is interesting to almost everyone who will admit it. For another thing, such collections are usually covert, and for yet another, even though the collectors might be obsessive, they don't get tedious with their stories about their treasures, since they are usually not a topic of conversation. Geoff Nicholson has seen lots of such collections, and gotten the collectors to talk, and reports back in Sex Collectors: The Secret World of Consumers, Connoisseurs, Curators, Creators, Dealers, Bibliographers, and Accumulators of Erotica (Simon and Schuster). It's a funny, genial guide to odd (but not sociopathic) people and strange pursuits; Nicholson has seen plenty of eye-popping material, and while he candidly admits that there are some things he has seen that he wishes he could excise from his memory, he does not include such stuff in his descriptions. The book reflects his experience in researching it: "I've seen a great many things that were sexy and fun and beautiful and fascinating, and I wouldn't have missed them for the world." His enthusiastic book is much more about collecting than it is about erotica or sex. In fact, he dismisses the argument about differentiating between what is pornography and what is art by saying that it doesn't make a difference for the purpose of the book; what matters is that someone is collecting it.

Who is doing the collecting? Generally, people with a lot of money, for originals are not cheap and the collections are often extensive. Take Naomi Wilzig, of whom the National Examiner headlined, "GRANNY Proves You're Never Too Old for PORNO!" She is welcoming to Nicholson, even inviting him to stay overnight in her guest bedroom. Perhaps it was jetlag, perhaps it was just the objects themselves, but instead of sleeping, he begins cataloging the room's décor: "Pre-Raphaelite nudes in sylvan settings, and in a more modern style there's a painting of a pair of naked women scrambling down a steep rocky slope. More modern still, and way more garish, is a painting of Bettie Page done in electric primary colors…. There's plenty of overtly gay male stuff…." He gets to see many of the other things Wilzig has collected, but realizes (as he does over and over in other collections) that he is barely seeing the tiniest sample. She has, for instance, a huge white phallic object that is the one that Alex wielded as a bludgeon in A Clockwork Orange; it isn't the actual one from the movie, but seems to be a genuine version by the original artist. She has lots of junk, like replicas of figurines found in Pompeii or a piggy bank shaped like a sperm, and also fine French Art Nouveau. She is able to finance her collection because her husband was a millionaire banker; he had no interest in her collection, and since they didn't get along well, she may have accumulated in order to annoy him. Nicholson explains that like other collectors, she enjoyed that her collection "… made her special, unusual, a little bit notorious, and it guaranteed that she got attention." She enjoys showing the collection in her home, but is having a museum built so that we can all see it someday.

Another great collector was Alfred Kinsey, although he is better known, of course, for his interviews and his reports on the sexuality of Americans. "Kinsey believed in data," Nicholson writes, and was trained as a biologist; he collected hundreds of thousands of gall wasps, his specialty, and when he moved into investigating sex, he collected anything having to do with it. The enormous collection at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction in Bloomington, Indiana, includes "…erotic artworks and artifacts, about seven thousand items, everything from Picassos to pornographic ashtrays. There are about seventy-five thousand photographs, professional and amateur, arty to obscene. In addition to the films shot by the institute under Kinsey's direction, there is footage of animals mating, anthropological movies, porn films, erotic 'art' movies: eight thousand films, four thousand videos." The collection is a scholarly one, but scholasticism is hindered by its current means of accumulation; Kinsey collects no longer, of course, but people donate to the Kinsey Institute, and they often do so anonymously. "People donate to the Kinsey having reached the stage of their lives when they want to get rid of their collections." Also, police departments donate sex-related materials taken from offenders. Nicholson gets a tour through a few of the innumerable boxes of the collection, guided by the institute's curator, who wears cotton gloves to protect all the objects she handles for display.

If there are collectors, there must be dealers, although "each considers the other a necessary evil". Some of them enjoy wonderful items going through their hands and being passed on (at profit) with no impulse to own any of them; others buy and sell to make a living, but also to improve their own collections. Such a collection is Eros Archives, run by Joe Zinnato and his longtime girlfriend. Running such a business is not without its risk; when Zinnato's name was found in a pedophile's address book, the Los Angeles cops barged in in the middle of the night, grabbing whatever they wanted from his stock and also from his personal collection. Zinnato is careful not to carry child pornography, but that did him no good. A long legal process got him his stock back, but not all of it. There was one box that the cops were very eager to have him take back, but his lawyer advised him to leave that one on police shelves; it seemed likely that they had planted something they wanted to arrest him for. Zinnato has racks of nudie playing cards, photos, erotic figurines, and plenty of magazines like Bizarre, Bondage Life, and so on. One thing he does not have is Playboys. For the serious collector, it is worth having the first Playboy, the one with Marilyn Monroe, and maybe the one with Bettie Page in it, but the rest are worth little. He typically gets a call from someone who wants to sell his all the Playboys he has bought and lovingly cared for over the years, and when "… Joe fails to salivate at the chance to buy the collection, the seller asks what he should do with it. Joe suggests the Dumpster."

There are many other collectors and collections here. Cynthia Plaster Caster has spent decades making plaster casts of famous people's penises, and has branched out into breasts. There's the small collection of lotus shoes, the kind that were worn by Chinese women whose feet had been bound. There's a collection of 80,000 girlie magazines. There is a large group of people who collect erotic book plates, and commission them. Nicholson eventually helps us realize that we are all sex collectors; we may not look for something to put on our shelves, but we do, if health and opportunity allow, amass sexual experiences. He also comes to the conclusion that he is a bit of collector himself, not necessarily of the type of item the more generous of the collectors profiled here sent him away with, but a collector of sex collectors, an activity that has involved such familiar endeavors as finding interesting examples, doing negotiations, lucking out on good finds, and other things that collectors here do. His is a unique collection, and it is generously shared in a breezy, amusing book.


Sex Collectors by Geoff Nicholson

(Simon & Schuster; May 23, 2006; ISBN: 0743265874)
Available at: Amazon.com / Amazon UK

_______
© 2006 Rob Hardy. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.



About the Reviewer
Rob Hardy is a psychiatrist who lives in Columbus, Mississippi, with his wife, two terriers, five cats, and goldfish.

He reviews nonfiction for The Times of Acadiana, but has been reviewing books as a hobby for years before that.
Email: Rob Hardy



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