Synopses & Reviews
Though you might not encounter the subject in Artforum or stumble across it at Sotheby's, the thriving business of erotica is a mixture of sophistication and seduction, an underground world of eccentric artists and serious collectors.
In Sex Collectors, Geoff Nicholson hunts down an assortment of these obsessives around the world. From the Florida grandma with five million dollars' worth of sexual collectibles to Third Eye Blind's manager, who owns more than eighty thousand men's magazines, Nicholson celebrates these collectors and the occasionally beautiful, frequently bizarre, and always fascinating objects they have amassed.
He accompanies Linda Lovelace, the star of Deep Throat, as she is taken on a tour of a collection devoted to her. Days spent in the Kinsey archives reveal the cultural artifacts resulting from the sexual awakening of public America, as well as boxes with labels such as Phallus with Agricultural Tools and Scarf Trick when Folded. Nicholson journeys to Germany to visit with the legendary Karl-Ludwig Leonhardt, sex collector extraordinaire of first edition volumes such as Flagellation pour couples pervertis and Tender Bottoms, erotic Picassos, and notes handwritten by the Marquis de Sade.
Throughout his exploration of some of the wildest collections in the world, Nicholson's discussion of collecting as an expression of self and psychology goes hand in hand with his gleeful discovery of the seventh giant phallus used in Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, Hitler's creepily erotic personalized bookplate, and a woman who has a plaster cast of Jimi Hendrix's penis. Sex Collectors is a winning story of one man's attempt tocollect collectors, to reveal the neuroses that drive some people to collect, and to have good, dirty, high-minded fun while doing it.
"Though Alfred Kinsey has been in the spotlight recently, collectors of sex-related objects generally receive little attention, perhaps because they tend to be secretive, and virtually anything can be erotic to someone. Nicholson, author of 13 novels including the Whitbread-shortlisted Bleeding London, defines 'sex collector' so broadly that he includes those who collect printed material, art, films, sex toys and even fingernail extensions and Lotus shoes, worn by Chinese women with bound feet. Many readers will be happy to accompany Nicholson on his visits to various collectors, famous and not. In Florida, he finds a grandmother with a $5 million erotica collection, whereas in Paris, he tries to convince Catherine Millet, author of The Sexual Life of Catherine M., that she is indeed a collector of erotic adventures. But serious erotologists may find this book dilettantish: sparsely illustrated with black and white photos and lacking an index and a list of collectors, dealers, museums and other resources. Nicholson is aware of these shortcomings: 'I know it's partial, prejudiced, incomplete.... Exactly like any other collection. It's easy to imagine bigger, better, more inclusive, more gaudy collections. The only problem: they wouldn't be mine.' 15 b&w photos. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Whatever the sex collectors' particular passions, Nicholson found them to be 'a literate, articulate, and well-read bunch,' albeit with fixations that most of us will have trouble comprehending." Washington Post
"Nicholson scrutinizes more than a few specific items in delicious detail: Chinese lotus shoes, finger guards, plaster penis castings, graphic automata and the Holy Grail of possessions: the human foreskin." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Geoff Nicholson is the author of fourteen novels, including Hunters & Gatherers and Bleeding London, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize. He divides his time between London and Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
An Introduction: The usual throat clearing, my father's gnomic wisdom, anal retention, less than full disclosure, living with and without a sex collection.
2 Women and Museums: Wilzig, Kubrick, Evans, Homer.
3 Some History, Some Theory: Hair, horn, holy foreskins; Benjamin, Freud, Marx, Aljasmets. Aljasmets?
4 Collecting the Self and Others: Lotus shoes, fingernails, art, the penis in plaster.
5 The Numbers Game: Hatred, repellent behavior, a scoreboard, a garment of shame, a melancholy archive.
6 Some Erotic Bibliographers -- Bloomsbury to Santa Rosa: An erotomaniac and an erotomane.
7 Ex Libris and an Ex-Actress: The commissioner and the commissioned.
8 New York Boys and Girls: Connoisseurs, trade, sanity, and order.
9 The Dealer and the Dealt With: Statistics, aesthetic consolidation, cynicism, the conveyor belt of acquisition.
10 What I Did at the Kinsey: A belief in data, increasing your happiness, the Documentary Collection, the missing "Spicies."
11 The Fatherland, the Mother Lode: Porn art, an old Etonian, a book club, some barbed wire, a failed collector.