Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thank you, Edeltraud and Charles.

Translated into more than twenty languages and remaining on the New York Times best-seller list for more than ten years, Dr. Alex Comfort's The Joy of Sex set a new standard for sexual awareness when it was first published in 1972.

But as the BBC recently reported in an interview with artist Chris Foss, finding models for the now-famous illustrations was quite the task to accomplish.

"We were a bit nervous when we took this on," Foss tells the BBC. "The publisher had to write a contract which confirmed that they would pay our defence if some old fart decided to make an issue out of it."

Add to that the fact that prospective models were challenging to work with, eventually leaving Comfort and the publishing team in frustration... until the edition's colour illustrator, Charles Raymond, and his German wife volunteered to help out. Hurriedly posing for a series of photographs as they lovingly boinked, Foss would later select choice images to redraw for the coming book. Illustrations, rather than photographs, wouldn't break the then-current English obscenity laws. And the end result was a series of erotic art pieces that, arguably, have been among the first, most informative, and iconic sexual works of its time.

"They are obviously having a relationship. You can just tell by the way her body lies. I think the fact that they were in love had something to do with it," Ross says.

But current and future editions of the seminal work (nyuk nyuk) are likely to feature other couples in its illustrations, or even colour photographs, which are more commonplace in contemporary sexual instruction texts. Charles, with his beard and long hair, and Edeltraud, with her oh-so-European underarms are, apparently, too... what, exactly?... for current book buyers.

Harumph, says I.

"The bearded man was an icon, but he was a '70s icon," opines relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam, who added more of a female perspective on sexuality in in the 2008 edition. She has since "reinvented" the classic book with her own New Joy of Sex.

So it seems to me that a moment of appreciation is due for the loving couple who showed us so much back in the day. Thank you, Edeltraud and Charles. You guys were, and remain, gorgeous.

1 comment:

Kerdra said...

Its odd how "hair" of any nature has become a big issue in sex and sexuality and can really mark the decades. I find it very interesting that porn of late is actually leading the way to the resurrection of pubic hair on both genders. Although still neatly trimmed and only in the top half of the genitalia, its most certainly made a come back and I wonder if in today's world where most people of a younger age who are used to seeing the complete removal of body hair in general is what is driving the ideal behind changing these images in this book (and I like the illustrations too). Personally it always sadden me when men shave their chests. I would much rather touch some soft sexy chest hair then stubble.