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Sylvia Plachy, a photographer for the Village Voice, and James Ridgeway, a reporter for the same publication, have delved into the depths of the pornography trade to explore and explain both its allure and its vulgarity. There is a sense of shock value in exposing the most lurid of fantasies--a man who has his dominatrix mummify him in concrete--that is tempered with theories as to how such an industry could have evolved. We also get to meet for ourselves those in the trade, providing a walk on the wild side within the safe confines of photographs and words.
The sex industry, declares Village Voice Washington correspondent Ridgeway, is an agent of social control, a safety valve for a repressed, confused patriarchal culture that transforms the hunger for sex and power into a commercial product laden with worn-out male fantasies of a prefeminist world. This survey of the sex business combines Ridgeway's essay incorporating strenuously nonjudgmental interviews with prostitutes, porn-video makers, actors, strippers, topless dancers, a dominatrix and other sex workers in the New York metropolitan area with arty, often explicit photographs by Village Voice staff photographer Plachy. Some interviewees speak of sex work as a socially valuable or personally empowering profession; for others, it's a way to get by. Ridgeway looks askance at an impersonal industry where contact with another human body is increasingly replaced by electronically enhanced onanism, but he is equally critical of the "sex police," by which he means law enforcement agencies, often in league with conservative family-values groups and antiporn activists. With its jazzy layout and garish photos, this volume comes across as a celebration of an arena it purports to analyze.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.