Saturday, December 25, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
As seen today in Wired : Jon Traven does not look like a sex-machine inventor. He looks like a cowboy. But the divorced Christian homesteader from Idaho is one of many makers of garage-built erotic devices featured in Sex Machines: Photographs and Interviews, a book by Timothy Archibald that documents the secretive subculture of hobbyists whose creations bear names like The Thumpstir and The Gangbang. "Here I am, this divorced Christian guy, not promiscuous at all, and here I am with a sex machine," reads Traven's monologue in the book. "It was an idea I came up with in the last year or two of the marriage, as a last-ditch attempt to save whatever we had ... our sex life, if nothing else. She actually pushed me for a divorce before I could finish it and give it to her."I will require anyone ordering a machine from me to provide proof of marriage and a signed statement of intent to use only within that marriage. Kind of like a gun dealer that requires proof of age and proof of passage of a firearm safety test before selling someone a firearm. Sexual arousal is a doorway to a person's very soul and isn't to be messed with lightly." Archibald shot Sex Machines on a medium-format Hasselblad camera, relying mostly on ambient, natural light. The resulting aesthetic is unstaged and unblinking. It's as if you've stepped into the kitchen of the Hide-A-Cock's inventor, and the machine were there staring right back at you -- from between a Pop-Tarts box and a half-eaten bag of Tostitos. Think American Gothic with giant mecha-dildos replacing pitchforks, or a Norman Rockwell print of the dirtiest thing that ever crawled out of an id. But despite the provocative title, Sex Machines is not intended to titillate, explains Archibald. "Porn is theater," he told Wired News. "I was more interested in documenting these people's lives." The project began when the San Francisco Bay Area editorial and commercial photographer received a magazine assignment to photograph the inventor of a foosball-like game popular in Silicon Valley dot-com lunchrooms. "The invention was his passion, and he was so proud," Archibald recalls. "He said, 'When someone's playing and captures a goal, you gotta capture that look on their face!' And I'm thinking -- they're not that into it, it's just foosball. But he believed in his invention so much. "Archibald turned online to research DIY inventor culture and computer modding in hopes of finding similarly enthusiastic subjects. He ended up stumbling on listservs for sex-machine inventors. "They posted photos of their machines in the forums, but the backgrounds in those images told something even more interesting about the inventor's life -- an empty yogurt container, a blender, a baby carriage. Mundane details everyone could relate to. The machines were anthropomorphic, alien, with fleshy appendages -- like nothing I'd ever seen before. "Archibald's e-mail queries to anonymous machine makers were politely but uniformly rejected. Most weren't selling their wares, and had no interest in giving up their privacy. A year later, Archibald contacted the operators of machine-sex porn site Fuckingmachines.com (NSFW), who in turn pointed him to inventors they thought might be interested in opening up their lives and studios. Soon, e-mails were cautiously returned, and some phone calls were answered, but one question remained: Just who were the people behind these machines?"I figured I'd ring the doorbell and some guy would answer in a leather zipper mask -- they'd all be people who lived in basements and couldn't relate to living, breathing women," says Archibald. "But no -- they were just like me. OK, not just like me, but I could relate to the tension between their ordinary lives and their unusual fascinations. "Archibald traveled around the country, shooting both machines and makers. When the idea for a book project materialized, he approached photography book publisher Taschen."I can still remember the rejection letter," he says. "It went, more or less, 'For us to publish something it must have high artistic merit but be hot enough to jerk off to. This book is the former, but not the latter.' As disappointing as it was, I felt like I'd finally hit just the right tone."
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Because It is Christmas (in case you forgot this week), let’s talk about a special present that will please the ones like me who have no special connection with all the things you can hear and see at this time of the year. I talk about all the songs you hear endlessly since weeks in every store, supermarket, street, radio …, all of a sudden, you dream you live in the forest alone, away from any stereo. This is it : the best of the worse Christmas songs. The people of Bulgaria took some advance last week because 28000 people elected Wham’s “Last Christmas” the worse Christmas song of all times. Frankly said, even the video clip should receive some reward as well. “All I want for Christmas” sung by Mariah Carey arrives without difficulty at the second position. Strangely, those two songs are also the most downloaded. A good one is also John Denver’s “please Daddy (don’t get drunk this Christmas) followed by Miss Piggy, Cyndi Lauper, Kenny Rogers and Wynnona Judd, Dennis Waterman and George Cole. Not yet being bored, listening all this ? go further with Dean Martin and Joni Mitchell. Try also a duet with Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing “little drummer boy". One of the worst, also denied by Its composer Bob Geldoff, saying that his song is unlistenable, is “Do they know It’s Christmas”, even classified by AOL one of the 100 worst song ever. Let’s do it the Lady Gaga’s style who simply says, destroying a teddy bear on stage with her high heels “I hate celebrations, I am lonely and unhappy”. What about France ? well, don’t be surprised, we also have our national disasters, for example with La compagnie créole and of course the beloved Tino Rossi’s Petit papa Noel that we sung and sung and sung again. You also can try “si j’étais le Père Noel” of Frédéric François. Finally, The best of cover would certainly go to Siouxsie and the Banshees, one of the punk founder and who sung (with Robert Smith) “il est né le divin enfant”. If you still have ears, don't miss Dorothée, Demis Roussos and Franck Michael. Merry Christmas to you all !
Sunday, December 19, 2010
- An unique airport near the city centre, situated in the non-resident zones of Brandeburg, is a complex equation. Especially for the ones who live there who demonstrate more than 30 times those last weeks. Among claims : the noise of course. The anger against the new airport is growing stronger because of the administrative clumsiness. The routes of the plains and where they have to land have been changed and now the near cities are inside the plan. As if there was neither dialogue nor transparency. It is said that administration did not take care of the disagreements of the project. Far away of being isolated, the anti-airport receive support from the locals. 2/3rd of the people think the actions are justified. People demonstrate to not have planes at 600 meters on their head. For those people, the solution is simple : cancel the two paralell roads for the planes. But It is unlikely. The number of flights, concentrated on this airport will be so numerous that those two road are necessary early morning and late evening. People try to move the airpot more south. Though some would like to solve the conflict quickly, It looks like not so easy. There is no question to move the airport which has to stay near the center. Some try to study a plan to preserve the zones where you find residents, for example by forbidding the night flights, or to make arrangements to the houses. If this situtation lasts too long, It can cost Its seat to the mayor of Berlin who wishes to be reelected. Also if you take flight company like Ryanair, It says that one airport is not good for competition between companies, looking at what’s happening in Paris or other capitals in Europe. If the taxes are too high, Ryanair is planning to leave berlin. Which can cost their job to people when the city desperately seeking for employment.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
6 :30 a.m. : only the sound of the vaccum cleaner disturbs the felted atmosphere inside Artemis, one of the biggest whorehouse of Berlin. 4000 sq. meters “of relaxing mood and pleasures”, open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. The clean lady says that at the beginning, It is surprising to work there and you should not look too near what you’re cleaning but mentions that the girls are nice and the salary pretty good. Opened in 2005, the building is located near the motorway on the west side of the city that counts in total 700 houses. Inside, the atmosphere is more fine parties than heavy stuff : dim lights, Italian Renaissance paintings, and double windows. Not to mention 2 cinemas and the wellness space which offers hammam, massage or saunas. In the bedrooms, you will notice a discrete sign : “we kindly ask the girls to be careful with the paper tissues”. Decried for the football cup in 2006 for its chain work, Artemis can welcome 600 customers for 100 employees. Mostly people don’t talk about whorehouse but FJJ club, for Frei Körper Kultur (free body culture, popular in Germany) because the girls are naked. The staff is multicultural, the work as well : Französische (blow job with or without condom), or Griechische (anal). Prices are made by the house : 30 minutes costs 60 Euros. After having paid a entrance fee per day of 90 Euros, the girls keep the money of their “services”. Here, no need of training, trial period is 2 days, followed if It is good, of a hiring with a work contract, social security and retirement points. Since the law legalized prostitution in 2002 in Germany, prostitutes are workers like anybody else, assimilated with the status of independent. Sex as freelance opens rights to unemployment insurance and social security. More than 450 000 prostitutes are numbered in the country, against 15 000 to 30 000 in France. Management say that criteria of selection are not based on the face. The girl needs to be nice and mostly discrete. In the wardrobe of the house, baby sitters addresses, HIV tests and acupuncture trainings are indicated where the girls, between 18 and 40 years old, change their jeans and civil identity for leather sighs and stage name. Waiting on the sofa with her robe opened on an integral tan, M. waits to take her position. She’s typing a message to her son with one of her two mobiles. Aged of 29, coming from Romania, she takes the opportunity of closing hours to go shopping at the nearest supermarket. She generally comes 3 days per month in Berlin where she has her room at the top floor. She says It’s clean and she is free of her work hours and her clientele. Less modest body culture, naturist movement or political influence of the feminists favorable to the legalization, in Germany, prostitution is no taboo. The mercantile connection with sexuality is more common than in France. The Schröder government made a lot to legalize prostitution, social and legal. It is the contrary of France which condemn, thanks to the law voted under the influence of our actual president (internal affairs minister at the time) when 59% of French people would accept the re-opening of the whorehouses. This is all the paradox with France : prostitutes pay their taxes but their activity is forbidden. Security, hygiene, protection of the girls against pimps or networks, in Germany, the majority of prostitutes work in houses, massage rooms or bars. Only 3 % work on the road. Police statistics show tha t criminal activity linked to the mafia is diminishing since 2002. But the sex workers would also be more : affected by economical precariousness, a lot of girls coming from Easter Europe are now in the business, encouraged by this normalization. Someone’s working to help the girls working on the street says that legislation did not change much. Prostitution is not like any job and never will, in a house or not, legislated or not. The real problem comes from the economic crisis. Following estimations from taxes office, a prostitute receives 110 Euros per day of work, far away from the same amount in Deutsche Mark (the double) for one job. So the girls accept what they don’t really like, only to be able to pay the rent. Some of the house lost this year 50% of their income because competition is hard : almost 700 houses, massage salons or hostess bars are known and you don’t count the occasional prostitutes. So It is quite difficult to compete with a company like Pussy club which open last summer Its flat rate : unlimited sex + drinks + food, the whole thing for 70 Euros. The local sex industry is not missing of imagination to seduce the customer, where you can find some special rates for the seniors or for the unemployed ones. Some houses refuse to be a meat industry. Last spring, one made a green price, dedicated to customers who come with their bike but was not a great success. In the small salon close to the rooms, one is eating her kebab, wearing her panther thong. For five years, she took a one way from Cuba to Berlin to follow her man. Now she is a single mother. She speaks fluently Spanish, german and English. She numbers her hours spent at the house to which she gives back 50% of her gains. Her monthly salary, that she sends a part to her family, is about 2000 Euro net. The past years, we could earn until 5000 Euros. Now It’s all over but I will never go back in the street.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
On Friday, if you were going to the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, you could see a giant penis! It was drawn into the snow covering the grass. A Dutch tourist took a picture and posted it on Twitter. Amazing view! But what if it was a PhotoShop? To be sure, I called the store which is a the first floor of the Tour Eiffel, and I was confirmed the masterpiece was still here, making everyone laugh. Unfortunately the garden department of Paris city hall told me they would soon rake it up.