Porn Pathos

porn and portraitSomething different today. I found an in-congruently charming archive of vintage pornography photos from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The sex and bodies depicted was fascinating in their lack of varnish.

But more fascinating were the faces of the women. I went through the archive that depicted actual acts of intercourse (no mistaking it for modeling or art photography; these were 19th century prostitutes have sex for a living) again and again, just looking at faces.

Got inspired. Not in the way my husband would hope. I made this collage. Three-quarters of these faces belong to prostitutes engaged in a sex act. Below the cropping there is concretely obscene exploitation pictured, by women on the lowest rungs of society, even though in some photos their hair and clothes (from the neck up) are styled to look respectable. The other quarter are a mixture of art poses and candids from the same era; of women no one would mistake for a whore. Can you tell the difference? Name the non-porn in the comments, I’ll tell you if you’re right in a few days.

I don’t know what if anything I’m trying to lay out here. Maybe you can tell me why I spent two hours putting this together, (it would have been quicker if I knew how to computer good) because I’m still not sure.

The woman in the top right corner, her face, started me doing it. I’ll give that one to you; she’s a prostitute. Her prim black dress is shoved around her waist, exposing her vulva and a round swell in her belly that could be her build, or her baby. A man is between her legs, but she’s not paying him any attention. She made me want to catch her face, save it, with all the others, and compare them side by side for signs of…I don’t know.

I don’t know.

3 thoughts on “Porn Pathos

  1. Everybody is born alone, lives alone, dies alone. Making love is supposed to break down the walls between two people so they feel NOT-alone. But for your gals, “love” isn’t transcendent–it’s a transaction. For them, love isn’t a blending of souls, it’s a blending of body fluids. Your gals believed in Santa Claus, but now they know they were lied to by everyone since the day they were born. Maybe that’s what you see in their eyes.

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