Sunday, January 31, 2016

"Do you mind eating while I smoke?": Food in Pornography

The Artist at the Table, A Project of this 
food in the Arts blog

     In the opening scene of the 1973 porn film, "Behind the Green Door" (directed by Gerard Dammiano,1972), the viewer sees an enormous red neon sign announcing "EAT", which, turns out to be a roadside advertisement for a nearby diner. We then join two two drivers and a cook, and it is among the three men sitting at the counter that this pioneering film story unfolds.The film is generally believed to be a story by an anonymous author at an earlier date. I think that may be true because I read a typed copy in 1950. Steamy!

Does any of this discourse apply to art?  Film, Performance Art, Photography?

Dieter Roth, Banana Peel Under Glass,  1991

Dealing with the phenomenon of Death and Decay

Carl Marcucci, From the Banana Factory
Commenting on the chemical contamination of foods, the price we pay for wanting food the appears fresh and perfect

  Below:  Robert Mapplethorpe (b.1946 -1989), Banana, 1985  

In his photographic work, Mapplethorpe strove to present 
images that many would conceal.  If you consider a banana suggestive of sex, you are stating your need to hide certain aspects of life that are harmless and find them dangerous.  Mapplethorpe considered them natural, therefore acceptable. His photo technique is never faulted.

By contrast, below right:  Robert Mapplethorpe's Controversial 'Man in Polyester Suit', 1980-81

                                                                           Robert Mapplethorpe, Aubergine  

 Historical Notes:

  In 1920, psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud supposedly made the following remark, "Gentlemen, a cigar is sometimes just just a cigar."
We might add to this, "A banana is just a banana."
 Above right: “Man in Polyester Suit,” a black-and-white image from 1980 depicting a black man wearing a three-piece suit, with his penis exposed, was estimated at $250,000 to $350,000.
In 1922 “The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis” published an article about the symbolism of cigarettes, cigars, and pipes by Eric Hiller. The article made clear that the phallic symbolism of smoking was established by the 1920s. The cover page of the journal proudly displayed its connection to the founder of psychoanalysis with the statement “Directed by Sigmund Freud” [IJPA]. 


Readers truly interested in this genre should peruse Joan Smith, Hungry for You: from Cannibalism To Seduction: A Book of Food

    Picturing lovers gathering over food as a literary device is very old. In Tom Jones, Henry Fielding describes the sexual attack by Mrs Waters:

 “The fair one, enraged at her frequent disappointments, determined on a short cessation of arms. Which interval she employed in making ready every engine of amorous warfare for the renewing of the attack when dinner should be over.

 It is Chaucerian.
 The Miller's  tale is based on a popular fabliau (also the source of the Sixth Story of the Ninth Day of The Decameron) of the period with many different versions, the "cradle-trick." Chaucer improves on his sources with his detailed characterization and sly humor, linking the act of grinding corn with sex.

Sylvia Ammary:  (The Influence of the European Culture on Hemingway's Fiction, 2015). Hemingway relates food to sex in two ways: either he relates eating a meal a prelude to the physical act that invariably follows, or the meal becomes a symbol of the act itself, or synonymous with it.

"Do you mind eating while I smoke?"

     The title of this blog post is this famous and long-remembered question posed in "Deep Throat"  by adult film star "Linda Lovelace (aka Linda Susan Boreman) or her co-actress, Dolly Sharp. "Eating", of course, is slang for cunnilingus.

     The scene is a modern kitchen in which Sharps is being serviced by a typical Los Angeles stock character, the Mexican pool boy, who will do anything in exchange for an unlimited number of Oreo cookies. Dolly perches on a kitchen counter, relaxing with a cigarette and the joys of expert cunnilingus.

    The same delight can be found in painting:
       Below: Achille Deverea (b. February 6, 1800, Paris - 1857)  Cunnilingus.
  He was a French painter known for his images of sexual acts. The work is not illicit or evil   Yes, It is erotic. And it is French.

     If this is porn, French artists of that era disagree, as does the Tao. Cunnilingus is accorded a revered place in Taoism. This is because the practice was believed to achieve longevity, and the loss of semen, vaginal, and other bodily liquids is believed to bring about a corresponding loss of vitality. Conversely, by either semen retention or ingesting the secretions from the vagina, a male or female can conserve and increase his/her ch'i, or original vital breath [Wikipedia]

Other Contexts:


"I'll have what she's having", bestows humor and style upon the political-sexual issue. And I mean Estelle Reiner's unforgetable response to Meg Ryan's orgasm scene in the 1989 film, When Harry Met Sally at Katz's Delicatessen.
      Ernest Hemingway's famous short story, "The Killers," (Scribner's magazine, 1927) takes place entirely in a diner that becomes the stage, situated in a small, out-of-the way Midwestern town. A good place for an out-of- luck boxer to hide out from the mob. Or, so it seems. 

     In The Odyssey, food is a recurring temptation, particularly for Odysseus crew in the Land of the Lotus Eaters (Consider the slaughter of the Helios flock). Their lack of restraint is shown even more strongly when they encounter Circe, who offers both food and sex to Homer.
     Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger (Gotham, 2004).  

     This incredible autobiography offers a scene that is the most convincing argument for the sex appeal of appetizers.  It occurs during a scene that takes the idea of "food porn" to a new, smuttier level, and shows Nigel getting naughty under the sheets, with only a cookbook and a flashlight, loudly moaning. The boy attains a kind of "maturity" after learning about homosexual affection AND good cooking... both from the same guy.

       The film, Flashdance (1980) presents Jennifer Beals at an up-scale restaurant, distracting a divorced man from his alluring ex-wife and winning his support for an important dance recital.

     The gangster-mistress scenes in the Japanese film, Tampopo (directed by Koji Yakusho,1980), hilariously combine sex and food via a white-suited gangster's sexual techniques employing raw egg and ice cubes.
, Kōji Yakusho

   In the novel, Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel puts an entire community into a sexual frernzy through her introduction of a certain ingredient in a celebratory meal.

      The memorable 1963 film, Tom Jones, directed by
Tony Richardson,
is based on a novel by Henry Fielding (1749) and served many of us as a lesson about an interest in eating, an opening event, as a sort of foreplay, through the cooking,presentation and consumption of food.

 Kitchen Porn:
    The traditions of pairing food and pornography becomes more interesting with the rise of the term, kitchen porn, a way of hawking  expensive kitchen designs and kitchen implements. Everything from made-to-order stainless steel oven hoods to artist-created ceramic mixing bowls and professionally custom-designed wall paper. The idea seems to be that the new kitchen will raise one to a level of ecstasy that is comparable to good sex.

    Should one feel the need of a good example of porn, scan this passage

So there I was, perusing the Perfex salt grinders at my local Williams-Sonoma store, when I overheard an excited thirty-something shopper exclaim breathlessly as she walked by the $1,999 Jura-Capresso Impressa S8 Super Automatic Espresso Coffeemaker, "Oh, this is pure kitchen-porn. Get me out of here."

To be a bit more specific: 
    Thorstein Veblen called it "conspicuous consumption," but we might embellish that with:

    Acquiring real or imagined personal control that is engendered by exclusive, high-priced culinary materials and home kitchen design, that conveys a sense of control and affective experiences in ultra-realistic and highly-charged cooking environments. The practice is pursued in much the same manner as arousing pornographic films [and other sexually explicit visual aids]. In addition to its use as a retail kitchen design medium, the term "kitchen porn" has recently been tagged by the adult porn community that produces films about actors having sex in a kitchen situation.

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