A few weeks back I was generously sent a copy of the 60th issue of ‘Skin Two’ (thanks guys!). I’ve been holding off blogging about it until I had time to write a proper post on the text. It takes a different format to past issues which were in a magazine format. I’ve never seen one of those but this copy, a hardback book priced at £25 or $50 is a quality production. The website claims it is a coffee book and it’s a very accurate description of the text (provided your visitors are not overly sensitive). Many so called coffee table books are quality productions but can sometimes feel a bit of a rip off. I have to say, this feels worth it. It has terrific and wide ranging content. The bag of the book includes advertisements for a number of latex, rubber and fetish stores but it’s perhaps a tribute to the scene that these are great compositions too. There is erotic fiction and some amazing art. A couple of pictures by James Stiles are included which are in the Mapplethorpe tradition. Mapplethorpe himself features pretty extensively in an earlier section of the book entitled ‘From Mapplethorpe to Mosley’ written by Daryl Champion. It’s a well written short overview. it’s followed by what I would regard as something of a coup and worthy of much wider dissemination – an interview with Peter Knight who as Vice Chancellor of the University of Central England, Birmingham (now Birmingham City University) defended the right of his library to hold Mapplethorpe, a large black and white collection of the artist’s photography. It is a work of brilliance and was rightly defended from Government and Police censors who were seeking to destroy the book under Obscene Publications legislation. This area of law is then brought right up to date by John Ozimek who considers the new extreme porn law. Alex Henderson writes a thoughtful piece exploring whether the English law could have an impact across in the USA and considers the 1969 Supreme Court decision in Stanley v Georgia. You’re probably getting the idea, this is not a wank mag. it’s a serious but entertaining piece of work. It’s also beautiful.

It has some terrific photography by Will Santillo who designed the cover shown on the right, and some photos that I loved by Mark Varley who explores rope bondage. He travelled to the homes of 18 women and ‘introduced them to his style of rope bondage’. This takes the form of women tied to kitchen tables. There are wonderful pictures that are clever and engaging.I have to confess I have fallen in love with some work by Silent-View, a photography project led by a German photographer and model. The artist produced the gas mask/cup and tea photograph which I’ve posted here. The only picture I could find is in black and white but the original is in colour and it does make a difference. I adore the intersection of gender, sexuality and domesticity portrayed in the image which somehow reminds me of the quite different American Gothic by Grant Wood.

There are more pictures and comment sections but the book begins with photos from various balls and parities. The pair at the top of this picture (which I rather like for reasons that I consider obvious) are from the San Francisco Fetish Ball.

The whole thing has been put together and published by Tim Woodward and it is a brilliant production. It can be bought on the Skin Two website which has a host of links, materials and an online store. It can be viewed here.

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