Vintage Nude Photos On Display In Berlin’s Photography Museum

nude photos
The Museum of Photography in Berlin has just opened an exhibition of nude photos from the turn of the last century.

“The Naked Truth and More Besides Nude Photography around 1900″ brings together hundreds of nude photos from an era we normally associate with old-fashioned prudery. In fact, nude photos were incredibly popular at that time. They had existed since the earliest days of the medium, and by the 1880s it was getting much cheaper to reproduce photographs. This led to a boom in the distribution of all photos, nudes included.

Soon nudity could be seen in magazines, advertising, postcards, collectible cards found in cigarette packs and large-format posters. The exhibition looks at a range of different styles and purposes of nudes, ranging from artistic studies to the blatantly pornographic. Rural images and scenes from Classical myths were also popular, as were photos of the nudist movement, which was seeing its first wave of popularity at this time.

%Gallery-187444%The explosion in nudes led to society questioning their traditional assumptions. The marks that corsets left on the flesh made some question whether they should be worn. Homoerotica became more widespread and the first homoerotic magazine, Der Eigene, started in 1896 and published many male nudes.

People who wanted to buy or sell nude photos had to skirt the law. By dubbing the images “for artistic purposes only,” they could claim their interest wasn’t prurient, a bit like how head shops nowadays label bongs “for tobacco use only.” The police did make frequent busts, and one of the largest collections of nude photos from this era is housed at the Police Museum of Lower Saxony, which supplied many of the more risqué photos for this exhibition.

Then as now, there was a continuous debate over what was or was not obscene. Simple nudes were generally considered acceptable, especially if they were artistic studies or images of “primitive” peoples. Surprisingly, images of nude children were also more acceptable than today since they were considered images of innocence. While some child nudes are on display at the museum, none appear in this article.

“The Naked Truth and More Besides Nude Photography around 1900″ runs until August 25.

[Photo copyright Heinrich Kühn, copyright Estate of the Artist / Galerie Kicken Berlin]

Naughty Roman Frescoes Uncovered In Colosseum

Colosseum
Archaeologists working on a conservation project at the Colosseum in Rome have discovered ancient frescoes of gladiators and erotic scenes, Agence France Press reports.

The brightly colored fragments were found on the walls of a corridor currently closed to the public for restoration. The scenes show gladiators being honored with laurels. There are also erotic scenes, although the researchers didn’t go into detail about what they showed.

The popularity of erotic art in the Roman Empire has led to the perception that it was a permissive society. Actually that was only half true. Many Romans were straight-laced and sexually conservative. A good parallel is the modern United States, where a large number of people frown on public displays of nudity or sexuality, while on the other hand Americans produce and consume vast amounts of pornography. Often these are the same Americans. A 2009 study found Utah has the highest per capita consumption of online porn.

Archaeologists are still working on uncovering the delicate pictures and hope to have them preserved and on view to the public by 2014.

Ancient, Renaissance, and early modern graffiti was also found, raising the question of how old graffiti has to be before it stops being vandalism and starts being of historic interest.

The Colosseum has been quickly decaying in recent years, with bits falling off and archaeologists discovering that the building is beginning to lean.

[Image of gladiator fresco from the Roman amphitheater in Mérida, Spain courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Galley Gossip: Can Passengers View Pornography on the Airplane?

From time to time I get questions from readers who want to know what the rules are regarding viewing pornography in flight now that Wi-Fi is available on board most airplanes. Thankfully, it hasn’t been much of an issue (knock on wood). But planes are crowded, personal space barely exits, and when passengers do things they shouldn’t, well, they usually get caught.

Last week on a flight from New York to Fort Lauderdale, a coworker had to ask a 10-year-old boy to turn off the erotica and to fasten his seatbelt. On either side of him sat his younger brother and sister. Across the aisle were his parents who had no idea what was going on until we informed them why he may have been holding the computer screen so close to his face. On a different flight another passenger was caught reading a Playboy Magazine. Next to him sat his young son. What gave this man away was the opened centerfold he was eyeing up and down. When a flight attendant politely asked him to put it away, he yelled at her for embarrassing him.

How common is it to see someone watching something rather risqué on a laptop, iPad, tablet or even the in-flight entertainment system in the air? I can only think of a few instances I’ve seen something that might raise a few eyebrows. When this happens, I’ll gently inform the passenger that there are children on board and remind them that other passengers seated nearby might find what they’re viewing distasteful. Nine times out of ten they’ll either fast forward through the scene or turn it off – end of story.

Do passengers ever complain about the content of something that a different passenger is watching? I’ve never had anyone rat someone out for watching pornography in flight. But I do get a lot of complaints about kids watching movies or playing video games that are too loud. Most parents forget to bring headphones for their little ones. I always hate having to tell a nice family to turn it down, but rules are rules and they apply to everyone, even those under 2 feet tall.

Is there a firm policy on how to handle passengers who are watching adult content openly? Pornography is not allowed on the airplane. If a flight attendant does come across it, we’ll discreetly ask the passenger to put it away. If that doesn’t work, we might issue a written warning. The warning informs the passenger what will happen if they choose not to comply. Refusing to obey crew instruction is a federal offense.

Australian customs pushes foreigners on porn

Tourists and business travelers are getting annoyed with the Australian government. Hey, nobody likes airport security and customs employees in any country, but this time, the Aussies have just gone too far. In an attempt to pacify fundamentalist Christians in the country, the authorities decided to target porn.

And hilarity ensued.

According to TechEye, “[S]ince that would not go down well with your average Aussie, they decided only to scare the hell out of foreigners coming into the country.”

Basically, porn is only bad if it’s carried by foreigners. Australian-carried skin flicks are good to go. There’s no indication of whether the fundamentalists weighed in on this. But, it’s safe to assume that it really is the foreigners that make porn bad, not the locals.

So, how can you get busted for toting the collected works of Seka down under? First, you’re asked to ‘fess up on the landing cards. And, they want to know how you’re bringing your nightlife substitute porn into the country: computer, camera or phone. The risks associated with lying are high, TechEye notes: “The risk for a tourist was that if a border patrol sniffed their computer and found boobies they could be deported, or fined on the spot.”This is pretty much where the hilarity kicks in:

According to the Australian Sex Party spokesman Robbie Swan, one case involved a couple on their honeymoon, who thought they had to declare naked iPhone pictures of themselves after reading the incoming passenger card.

This does sound like a pretty awesome fmylife submission … especially because the couple was forced to show the photo while in line with other people.

Unsurprisingly, the government realizes it may need to change the rules, at least because the average foreigner probably doesn’t know how “pornography” is defined under Australian law. So, they either need to show their material to someone in a face-to-face situation or rely on the ol’ Justice Potter Stewart standard, which has served the United States so well … “I know it when I see it.

[Via The Awl, photo by lucyfrench123 via Flickr]

Minnesota porn ban to spank some hotels, except when too expensive

If a porn ban in Minnesota‘s Winona County passes, hotels will have to operate under a “clean hotel” policy. County employees wouldn’t be able to stay at properties that have adult fare on the menu, though there are some specific exceptions to this rule. Ostensibly, this measure is intended to lower incidents of sexual and domestic violence, which the county says has a link to porn according to some studies (though there are indicators the other way, too).

According to a Winona Daily News:

“In and of itself, this policy is not a cure-all,” the document reads, “but it is an important effort to help prevent a social disease and its related costs to the public.”

Winona County officials believe that keeping porn out of hotels will alleviate the $221 million spent on issues related to sexual violence (in 2006). They feel that this form of prevention will lead to lower law enforcement costs. Winona Daily News continues:

“It is logical to assume that prevention of certain criminal activities would reduce the costs of providing these services,” the issue paper states. “Prevention would also prevent the much greater social cost to the community.”

In an effort to keep county workers from viewing adult entertainment – and banning local hotels from selling it in order to get county business, the state could be doing far more harm than good. The question staring me in the face is a simple and important one: does the county bring hotels more business than porn?

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For county workers, hotel stays entail local travel, so the business opportunity can’t be terribly high. The Winona Daily News notes that “law enforcement officials and other employees often require they spend the night in a hotel.”

Meanwhile, in-room adult entertainment is good for some big cash. The Family Research Council and a dozen other anti-porn organizations estimate that this form of entertainment is good for 60 percent to 80 percent of in-room entertainment revenue (though this is a dated estimate). Of course, the opponents of the freedom to view adult entertainment have had a tendency to pump up market size and other business-related numbers (as I found during four years of covering the business side of the adult entertainment industry) in order to emphasize its reach and influence. So, it makes sense to take a look at another source.

J.W. Marriott, whose background makes him no fan of adult content, is pretty clear on the importance of steamy televisions to his business. He wrote to the American Decency Association:

“If we were to eliminate R and non-rated offerings, the systems would not be economic [sic]. We believe it is more practical to have a system available through a wider variety and to allow our guests to make their own selections.”

Of course, the choice between county cash and porn cash may not be necessary. Given the nature of the hotel market in the state and the existing porn options, the measure may be close to irrelevant. Already, more than 480 “clean hotels” exist in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. And, the rule only applies if a property is the “host site” for an event that the county employee is attending. Also, money does talk: if staying in porn-free digs would cost at least 15 percent more than staying at a porn-friendly establishment, the cost of “morality” isn’t worth it.

[Via USA Today, photo by Steve Zak Photography]