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Sex Machines: Photographs and Interviews [Hardcover]

Timothy Archibald
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2005
Through astonishing images and the surprisingly touching words of its subjects, 'Sex Machines: Photographs and Interviews' explores the new sex machine underground in America and the homespun inventors and users who propel it.

After contacting an active but intensely private Internet community of sex machine inventors, photographer Timothy Archibald eventually won their trust and was invited into workshops and homes. The resulting book is a powerful document that is by turns thought provoking, humorous, and always fascinating.

'Sex Machines' celebrates the American spirit of invention while exploring the desires and confusions that exist between men and women in our changing culture. Many of the inventors seen within these pages are otherwise ordinary family men who were inspired to help repair strained relationships or simply enhance their wives' sexual pleasure. Some inventors have expanded their hobby into thriving cottage industries, selling their creations on 'eBay' and adult stores online.

Archibald covers the broad spectrum of the makers-from the elusive creator of the Sybian, the forefather of sex machines, to lesser-known inventors like Paul Gaertner, who, laid off from his job in the high-tech industry, founded a new business by transforming a thrift store pasta maker into a high-powered sexual appliance. After receiving an apocalyptic vision of a future without men, Louis Walker constructs a sex machine prototype for the women survivors. Eric Reynolds credits his apparatus for saving his marriage, and Jon Traven uses his sex device as a form of Christian-based marriage counseling.

Like the work of Bill Owens, Studs Terkel, and Diane Arbus, Archibald's photographs and interviews find unexpected beauty and mystery among the lives of regular people-this time, as they engender a new form of "marriage enhancement" and sexual liberation in the suburbs and small towns across America.

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Product Description

About the Author

Timothy Archibald is an editorial and commercial photographer based in the San Francisco Bay area. His work has appeared in The New York Times Sunday Magazine and Outside magazine, and is included in various public and private collections. He lives in El Sobrante with his wife Cheri, two sons, Elijah and Wilson, and dog Weegee.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The search for fluid dynamics Jan. 26 2008
Who knows what goes on in the suburban garages across the Nation? This intriguing book reveals what goes on in some and probably right now, too. The fifty-one photos celebrate good old American know-how to reveal thirty-three sex machines. Considering they are all narrow focused on the pleasure principle I find it amazing that they all look so different: from Tony Pirelli's tracked robot to Jessy and her simple pneumatic drill unit.

The book is a cut above the usual photobook because of the interviews. Mostly this kind of publication is just photos and a page at the back with captions but Timothy Archibald realized that these folk have a story to tell and he gives them the space. The photos are no-nonsense reportage style (though I thought the cropping could have been a bit better on some) and do exactly what they are supposed to.

A quirky fun book that could hardly be improved on.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sexual Inventiveness Nov. 6 2005
By R. Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
In the hilariously over-pedantic penultimate chapter of _Ulysses_, Joyce describes human copulation as the "energetic piston and cylinder movement necessary for the complete satisfaction of a constant but not acute concupiscence resident in a bodily and mental female organism." Everyone is interested in sex, but only some concentrate on the pistons, and by pistons here, I am not being metaphorical, but literal. The inventors depicted in _Sex Machines: Photographs and Interviews_ (Process / Daniel 13) by Timothy Archibald are almost all piston men. Archibald stumbled upon their works when doing research on independent inventors in general, and found that though the community of sex-machine inventors may be small, it has some cohesion. There are sex machines for sale on eBay, for instance, and web circles of specialists who invent, sell, and collect the machines. The invention of such things has gone on for centuries, as Archibald discovered in browsing Patent Office files, but current technology within the machines as well as within communication between the inventors has brought this particular endeavor out into the open. The result here is a funny book of pictures and interviews that is a small celebration of a peculiar American endeavor.

The photographs, color and full-page in a large format book, do not show any of the machines in action; there is a little tasteful above-the-waist nudity in the pictures, but most concentrate on the machines and the inventors. The pictures often have the machines in just the right environment, the garage or workshop where they were born. Many sit on workbenches as if awaiting the next tweak that will bring the device closer to perfection. Some are on beds. One is on the living room rug, with sawdust and power tools around it, as if we can just anticipate the (one hopes) mixed reaction of the woman of the house when she gets back. The inventors are there, each welding on his machine, or adjusting it, or leaning against the wall with an "Aw, shucks" modesty. Even if you have never seen machines like this, it will be quite obvious what each one does. Every one of them has at its action end some sort of phallus, and perhaps because men are the ones tinkering with them, the phalluses are substantial in length and girth. Some are obviously powered by motors from household appliances, and one uses the motor of a KitchenAid mixer. This has the advantage that you can detach the sexual attachment, put the mixing blade back on, and make cookies. The Cadillac of such machines is the Orgasmo, selling for $6969. The inventor is proud of his work: "I've heard the other guys bragging. I'd be glad to take on their machines anywhere." He describes a highly successful product: "It does everything you want it to: it angles, it raises, it lowers, it vibrates, it thrusts, it's fast, it's slow... it does everything but snuggle with you."

Which, of course, is the ambiguity of success with machine sex. In this book, few women are quoted as reflecting negatively on the devices; one says dismissively, "Here you can just get yourself off, you don't need anyone else... Working through problems helps us grow as a species." None of the women seem disposed to give up men, men who might be too tired, out of Viagra, or otherwise indisposed, for a machine that never tires out. Machines featured on films on the websites often look intimidating, as if they are just one more power thrust (sorry) by males over females, but most of the women quoted in the book are appreciative of gadgets that are meant to deliver nothing but fun, and the inventors seem intent on making gadgets that deliver fun reliably and efficiently, Plenty of the men seem devoted to their own marriages and to marriage as an institution. If the machines are bizarre, that just shows in contrast that the inventors are, as good tinkerers in garages ought to be, optimistic. Let the world beat a path to their doors.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The America you didn't know existed Sept. 20 2005
By Alison Gentry - Published on Amazon.com
I first saw the author's project on the web a few years back. Forgot about it and then stumbled upon the book last week at work. It's beautiful and cool and surprising all at once. Right now I think its my favorite book of the year, I luv it. Some backround: The author went out across the US to meet inventors of these home made machines. Rather than a freakshow, he finds this collection of everyday people that have curious tales to tell about themselves, their lives and everything else in between. The photographs themselves look like they are from the American heartland, as if the author tapped into America's little secret, this thing we had no idea existed.

The photographs and stories are sandwiched between two essays, but the real stuff is in the middle: the tales the subjects tell, honestly, all in their own words.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great photography Dec 5 2005
By Andrew J. Epstein - Published on Amazon.com
it is not what I expected! It's great when I am surprised.

It is so "cute" looking. Kinda like a kids book, all fresh colors.

At first glance it is naughty, but unthreatening, which is the beauty in

it's concept. Not what I expected at all, I love surprises.

The lawn mower really sets it up.

The hidden lives of suburban inventers.

Tim's style of very clear slightly detracted shots really adds to the

simpleness of the topic without judgment or guilt. You don¹t really even

feel like you have crossed a sexual boundary. Simple folks inventing, like a

science project, or fixing the mower.

But then I put it down for a few days and then looked at it again. It is a

really weird book! And that's coming from someone that haunted the NYC sex

clubs with Mapplethorpe and Tom of Finland.

All those little background elements, a fire extinguisher, and the shot with

the two and the camper is just a great shot, love the vacuum cleaner. (he

looks like one of my ex's) and his interview is terrific.

Once I got past the whole concept and design it all comes down to great

photography, and documentation of something very unusual, and probably very

American, and he u got it first!"
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVE THIS BOOK Oct. 17 2005
By C. Crary - Published on Amazon.com
I am one of those people who love Americana. As an Americana lover, I have always been curious about fellow American's sexual exploration. Timothy Archibald has discovered the seemingly underground, grassroots, world of "Sex Machines." However, Timothy Archibald has revealed a lifestyle that more and more Americans are making part of daily their routines.

"Sex Machines" illustrates that, "Sex is important to people, sexual freedom is important to people, sexual scientific advancements should be praised and the acknowledgement sexual freedom is an important step in today's society. And for that, I thank you Mr. Archibald.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and... Educational! Oct. 18 2005
By Stanley J. Banos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Sex Machines by Timothy Archibald is an interesting and strangely beautiful piece of work to be sure. It portrays a small subculture of seemingly nondescript citizens who have a rather unique avocation- the building of phallic sex machines. The guys involved range from religious zealots and minivan driving family men to outright voyeurs.

The book can be divided into portraits of two categories: those of the participants, and those of the machines themselves. While some of the former portraits offer a tell tale nod and wink as to what their subjects actually delve in, others seem quite detached from the matter at hand, and their interviews are similarly businesslike. Meanwhile, the machines are as disjointed and incongruent as the "portraits" that feature them-mechanical conglomerations of metal gears and pulleys of various Rube Goldberg designs that all culminate in the odd angled and absurdly life like dildo set against the most domestic of backdrops.

The effective use of color provides a warmth and dimension to the subject matter that would have otherwise proven just a tad too clinical with B&W. And the 2 1/4 format simplifies the compositions by cutting to the chase and letting the viewer concentrate on the essentials. I don't know if I learned much (or care to) about this particular mindset, but it was a fun errr... ride!
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