Title: The Rotenberg Collection: Forbidden Erotica
Published: Taschen, 2000
Edited by: Mark Rotenberg & Laura Mirsky
ISBN: 3-8228-6413-7
Physical: 511 pages, softcover.

Porn as depicted in the book

When you think of the first porn ever produced, you probably think of sedate missionary shots and maybe some raunchy french-maid costumes (well, I used to, anyway). The Rotenberg Collection: Forbidden Erotica is a book of images and postcards of original porn from 1840 to the 1950s- and boy, those old guys were just as sex-crazed as everyone on E2 seems to be.

The most common pictures are of fellatio, but there's quite a liberal sprinkling of not-so-common images: golden showers, S & M, anal, outstanding orgies in seemingly impossible positions... the whole kit and caboodle. There's full nudity, and the photos show just as much labia and penis as Penthouse does today. Staged scenes involve costumes and props, such as one naked woman impaled on a statue of the Eiffel Tower (ow, pointy), and a broom going somewhere cleaning tools don't usually go. Homosexual and lesbian acts also abound.

The majority of women rarely look aroused or pleased, suggesting the faux-excitement of the Playboy and Penthouse models is a reasonably new development. The "ho-hum" look on the faces of the women is probably a result of the predominantly unattractive men they are copulating with (most of the men have large bushy handlebar moustaches and a smirk- mmm, my favourite kind of man).

The women are all different shapes and sizes; tall, short, thin, plump, obese, curvy, straight, feminine, masculine, etc, which is a nice change from the modern silicone babe.

Added extras

Forbidden Erotica begins with a 12 page history of printed porn, and then moves onto a 9 page interview with the curator of the Rotenberg Collection, Mark Rotenberg. In it, Rotenberg describes the difference between porn and erotica, saying that porn "gets one's juices flowing... gets your temperature cooking and your blood pressure goes up a point or two" (page 19). Then the pictures of porn begin.

The Rotenberg Collection: Forbidden Erotica reminds us that our generation didn't invent sex: it's existed, in 'kinky' and erotic forms, for god knows how long. The porn depicted is more explicit than it is now, and, if published in a modern magazine or on a website, the images would be considered "hardcore".

And it reminds us there's more than one use for the common kitchen broom.

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