Not particularly timely update here, but just to log this in the way of eight-newscycles-late blogging lethargy, I co-wrote a fun piece with the great Laura Helen Marks that wound up on Salon on Christmas Day: “Merry XXX-Mas: a brief history of Yuletide smut“!
Better late than never. Laura does great work on pornography and Victorian adaptation–you can check her stuff out at the Rialto Report, Art Decades, the scholarly journal Sexualities, the book Neo-Victorian Cities, and, later this year, a collection on pornography and the 1970s that I’m co-editing with Carolyn Bronstein. Her own book is in progress and will be a major contribution to Porn Studies, with some really smart insights into how the erotic investments of the 19th century translate into late-20th century representational fetishes of their own. So it was an honor to co-author with her–and cool to be in Salon again, though the one downside is that they’re not an image-heavy venue, and we had some great pics (why they went for a Bad Santa header, I know not).
So, I’ve put some images below–a few explicit, so reader beware–but first, a quick shout-out to Amy Stone and Jaime Cantrell, co-editors of Out of the Closet, Into the Archives: Researching Sexual Histories, an amazing collection that SUNY Press just put out, focused on queer archival research. There are essays about organizing the immense homophile material at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives–a place I used a lot as a grad student, and ever since, and love dearly–by Craig Loftin, who wrote a great book on gay and lesbian experiences of the 1950s (and also has an endlessly readable blog about queer MTV!); pieces about the Lesbian Herstory Archives, Thomas Painter’s log of male hustlers at the Kinsey Institute, the Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria, and even the vibrator that shows up in Minnie Bruce Pratt’s papers at Duke!
It’s a great moment for queer archival studies–witness recent issues of Radical History Review and TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, Zeb Tortorici’s recent piece on “archival seductions,” well, etc.–and Out of the Closet is sure to be a centerpiece of the new field. I love this book, so it’s a real thrill to have a piece of my own in it, about the enormous Gay Male Pornographic Video Collection at Cornell’s Human Sexuality Collection, and its anonymous donor, who spent years writing a lovingly obsessive index for his hundreds of bootlegged VHS tapes. I found this collection when I was lucky enough to be a Zwickler fellow there in the summer of 2009, and have returned to it a few times over the years, but could never quite figure out what do with it (though I talked about it at the NYC Porn Film Festival in Brooklyn last year, which was fun), so when I saw the CFP for this collection, it was a eureka moment–until then, it was more like a personal relationship with a secret archival collection that just got me. It happens.
Somewhere I have a short DIY video of myself watching bootleg smut in the Kroch Library basement–not as exciting as that time actual DIY smut was shot in other Cornell libraries, probably–but it’s lost on an old laptop, alas. So to return at last to the visual promises, here are some historical Christmas smut pieces, some courtesy Gill Frank and others taken from Shaun Costello’s Passions of Carol by Laura, and then some bootleg VHS erotics of another sort–the nerdy object-fetish variety. Here’s to Porn Studies and queer archive studies in the new year!