In the late '70s and early '80s, the Southern Californian photographer Jo Ann Callis made a name for herself as a pioneer of fabricated photography. Though less well known than some of her successors (Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, Gregory Crewdson), Callis was one of the first photographers to work extensively with constructed sets, arranging models and tactile objects in ambiguous, often unsettling tableaux. In 1981, her work was included in the Whitney Biennial, and has since been widely exhibited at MoMA, MoCA, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Getty.
As suggested by her focus on the domestic sphere — she’s best known for her dreamlike interiors and uncanny still lifes — Callis’s trajectory as a photographer is a bit unusual. Born in Ohio in 1940, she was married with two children by the time she was 23. It wasn’t until her early 30s that she completed her undergraduate degree UCLA, where, under the instruction of the legendary photographer Robert Heinecken, she first learned to use a camera.
She continued to study under Heinecken for next three years, who encouraged her to work with sets and props to create staged scenes. “I was trying to get out of my marriage and get a divorce, and the time was such that everyone was trying all kinds of experimentation,” Callis told the Cut. “I wanted to set things up, I wanted to make a world of my own.” Under Heinecken’s influence, Callis spent much of her time in grad school working on what she now calls her "fetish project." The resulting photos — an evocative collection of anonymous models in semi-erotic poses — are her most sexually explicit imagery, and the subject of her latest book, Other Rooms, out this month from Aperture.
The photos, taken between 1974 and 1977, are some of Callis’s earliest work — which she’s largely kept a secret until now. “I put them away for a very long time,” she explained. “I started working at CalArts in 1976, which was a very conceptually oriented school, so I thought these pictures didn’t fit what they might be looking for — and I really needed the teaching job.” Even more recently, in 2009, when reviewing her oeuvre for a retrospective at the Getty, Callis kept the photos under wrap. “I remember Judith Keller asking me, Are there any other pictures we haven’t seen? And I said, No, that’s it,” Callis recalled. “I just pretended they didn’t exist, because even at that time I just didn’t think this was appropriate to show at the Getty—and I didn’t think they would be interested in it.”
Recently, at the suggestion of collectors, Callis brought the early photos to Rose Shoshana, the founder of Santa Monica's Rose Gallery, where they are now on view. Callis spoke with the Cut about motherhood, anxiety, and why she kept these photos secret for so long.
What was it about these photographs that made you feel like they shouldn’t be seen?
Well, at first I thought it was because they were too “hot.” Or they were too emotional — they weren’t cool like a lot of the conceptual work. They were very formal, aesthetic — all the things that weren’t in vogue at the time. So, that was initially why. But mostly I was just interested in other things. I went on using some of the same ideas: like tactility, how something feels, and how you can represent a thought in a photograph just using a straight negative — not putting it out of focus on purpose, just seeing what kinds of metaphors I could create. But I think it was the sexuality in them, and I just lost my nerve.
You’ve said that you never wanted your work to be overtly sexual. Why not?
Well, these pictures are the most obvious forays into that subject matter. But that theme — either sexuality, or sensuality — is used throughout my work. Even with objects, I’m looking at them in a way that I’m caressing them with my eyes — that’s how it felt, anyway. But it’s hard to put that out publicly. Now I feel a little bit less vulnerable to criticism or what people will think. I still care, but not nearly as much, since I’m just older. ...
Amid increasing tolerance for non-traditional relationship, non-monogamy loses its stigma.
Polyamorists are coming out of the closet.
Non-monogamists have remained largely underground to avoid social disapproval, but increasing national acceptance of Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) relationships have encouraged some polyamory supporters to go public about their growing communities.
Leon Feingold, co-president of Open Love NY and a licensed real estate broker with Masonic Realty, confirmed Tuesday that 13 of 15 apartments have been rented in Brooklyn, NY at Hacienda Villa, an apartment complex dedicated to the polyamorous and to those who accept polyamory.
Feingold told National Review Online that there is “absolutely” a growing trend of openness in the polyamorous community and of accepting attitudes toward it. He added, “A lot of people have misconceptions about what polyamory is.”
“Polyamory” does not refer either to polygamy or to a “swinging” lifestyle but to “responsible non-monogamy,” Feingold explained. Open Love NY is a New York-based organization for the polyamorous community. It plans various educational and social events for its members and encourages “a public climate in which all forms of consensual adult relationship choices are respected and honored.”
A frequently cited estimate of the number of U.S. polyamorous households is 500,000, which first appeared in a 2009 Newsweekarticle but has since been removed (the article was last updated in July 2011).
Diana Adams, the other co-president of Open Love NY and a founding partner of a New York City law firm serving LGBTQ and non-traditional clients, has worked with polyamorous households. Sometimes she helps draw up agreements between married poly clients to prevent marital problems from arising because of their sexuality. ...
Sex is like a lifelong normalcy contest. To find happiness, you should spend every day worrying about the kinds of sex you like, and whether you'll ever meet someone else who shares those likes. Then you comfort your untouched body by rubbing your hands all over it, wet though they may be with the sweat of anxiety and sadness. Ha! No, don't do that. That sounds awful, and besides, if you spend all your time worrying, when will you have time to bone? You won't! You will remain unboned, maybe forever.
So here's my real-life advice for you, which I want you to remember forever -- instead of worrying about what kind of sex you like (or, even worse, what kind of sex other people like, because nothing could ever be less important than something you don't want to see and no one wants to show you), use this rule of thumb: "The freakier the sex, the better it is for me, according to science." For example:
#5. BDSM Is Good for Your Psychological Health
"BDSM" is an acronym that covers every weird, outlandish, disgusting, terrifying, and degenerate sex act that everyone you know is intimately familiar with (yes, everyone). If you're a freak, then you know exactly what I'm talking about, and if the only thing you like is missionary position while a saxophone plays, then you're the only person like that, and we're all a bit scared of you.
I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this, but everyone fucks weird. I seriously can't stress this enough. The next time you're in the living room of a friend or family member, look around. The old high school heirlooms have been in asses. That "funny" horse mask has been worn while boning. Why would anyone own more than one scarf if they weren't using it to tie people up? Every belt is a collar, every tie is a blindfold, every sock has been stuffed into someone's mouth. A friend of mine once asked me to help him move his dentist chair into his new apartment and no one even asked for or offered any explanation, because we all know what's up with that, don't we. OK, I'm lying a bit: I wasn't sorry to be the one to tell you that at all.
Folks who indulge in BDSM are psychologically healthier than people who don't. That's right: Everyone who got irrationally angry at those last few paragraphs are less sane than the people who didn't, and that's the least shocking sentence I've ever written. People who indulge in the ol' spanky-spank (or whatever) are more extroverted and open to new experiences (duhhhhhh), but also less neurotic, anxious, and paranoid. They were also more secure in their relationships, though that may have been because their partners were currently chained to their bed and hahaha, what a dumb and obvious joke.
#4. Polyamory Makes for Stronger Relationships
"Polyamory" is a fancy Greek word for "open relationship," which is a fancy English phrase for "We can fuck whomever we want, but we still love each other." I am not a polyamorist, mainly because the very idea defies the real, human emotions that form the foundation of every relationship: jealousy, possessiveness, and not wanting your partners to enjoy themselves unless you're sweating all over them.
Why It's Secretly Good for You:
Science says that polyamorous relationships are the best kind, but why would I trust Science? He's just the guy who hangs out behind the 7-Eleven near my house and sells me experimental bear tranquilizers. He says all kinds of crazy shit. So I did some research and discovered that Science is, perhaps coincidentally, totally right. The reasoning is pretty simple: Because both parties are out there sowing their wild oats, or having wild oats ... sown in them (I'm not sure what the female version of the euphemism is), communication becomes even more necessary.
For example: Polyamorous Charlie will say, "Hey, I like to fuck all the time, but sometimes you're at work or whatever, so how about I fuck other people?" and then Polyamorous Ashley is all, "Hey that's cool, dawg," because that's how they all talk. Bam. Communication. And as we all know, communication is the most important part of a relationship. ...
Forced to build a pool, dig ditches, non-stop chores. While it may be hard to understand, Facebook pictures from the victim in the Natchitoches human trafficking and slavery case imply she didn’t hate her arrangement. She even posted a picture of her slave barcode as her profile picture. According to a woman, who wished to have her identity withheld, who knows the BDSM lifestyle, that’s not uncommon. "Being tattooed or marked is not even considered a negative thing. Among the slaves that's kind of a mark of acceptance."
The victim had a high enough status within the BDSM community to come to parties in Shreveport. That’s where our unnamed source met Ambre Lomas and Christina Harper, two of the three accused of kidnapping and beating the victim. While she only spoke to Lomas for a minute, “I talked to her briefly, but to be honest, I couldn’t even tell you what we talked about. She did, however, get to know Harper somewhat well. “I spoke with her several times, at several different things, and she seems like a regular, nice person. She has her own fetishes, but she was a nice normal sounding person. Nothing to me that would strike me as something like this, you know, would do anything as outlandish as that.”
So how did she feel when she heard that Harper, along with Lomas and George Rodriguez, are accused of locking the victim in a storage unit and forcing her to drink urine? "Flabbergasted. I just couldn't believe that anyone..much less someone who's in the community. I just couldn't believe that that was what happened." That’s because within the BDSM community, there are limits, and when a person says stop, things must be stopped.
The victim told law enforcement she was punished excessively for trying to leave. However, within the BDSM community, there is a different story. "Most of the people were saying that she was in the group. She was with them, and they were asking her to leave. She had a very, shall we say, negative reaction to that."
However, law enforcement doesn’t necessarily care about the reason, abuse is abuse. Detective Tim Key of the Natchitoches Sheriff’s Office went into detail about of the abuse he was most troubled by. "When the 35 foot chain was placed around her neck and she was placed outside in the woods for two days and nights with no food or water, nude, and then an additional 6 days inside of a building"
That’s why, whatever the reason behind it, law enforcement is calling this one of their most disturbing cases ever.
Authorities say a transgender woman from Minnesota was held as a slave in rural Louisiana for two years.
The woman escaped captivity in Ajax and was picked up last week by a Robeline assistant town marshal at an Interstate 49 exit in Natchitoches.
The woman came to Louisiana from Minnesota after meeting her captors online, according to authorities. The victim, in her early 50s, is in protective custody.
Natchitoches Parish sheriff's office Detective Tim Key told the Pioneer Press he hasn't seen anything like the case before.
Authorities are not releasing the woman's name, Key said. He and Gregg Dunn, chief investigator for the sheriff, declined to disclose where she lived in Minnesota.
According to the sheriff's office, the investigation began when the victim was spotted by a town marshal on I-49 and Highway 6 West near Natchitoches the night of May 3. A logging chain attached to a bucket was around her neck. She had been able to free herself from her captors' residence and had driven one of their vehicles to the interstate.
"Just real frantic and a lot of fast talk," Assistant Police Chief Shelby Borders said of the encounter. "And it was just kind of hard to believe at first."
Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Victor Jones Jr. said David Rodriguez Jr., 37, one of three people arrested in the case, tattooed the woman and registered her as a slave on a website that bills itself as only registering people for consensual submissive or slave relationships.
"In this particular case, the victim probably had some depression, going through the sex change, being disowned by her family," said Carey Etheredge, criminal investigator and forensic examiner with the Natchitoches Parish sheriff's office, when speaking to the Town Talk newspaper of Alexiandria, La.
"Suspects prey on people in this situation. They know how to talk to them, what to say to them to make them feel comfortable and make them think they're coming to live a different life." ...
Atlanta Polyamory Conference is "Bringing Sexy Back"
by Winnie McCroy
Fans of relationship diversity will gather on June 6-8 for the Atlanta Poly Weekend, now celebrating its fourth year. This year’s theme is "Bringing Sexy Back."
"Atlanta Poly Weekend is a celebration of relationship diversity," write organizers. "Successful, intimate loving relationships come not just in couples, but sometimes in triads, quads, and larger networks -- ethically and transparently, with the full knowledge, consent, and well-wishing of everyone involved. That’s polyamory."
The three-day conference will give participants the unique opportunity to attend a wide variety of sessions on everyday poly living, group communication skills, activism and community organizing, radical theory, and more -- in lectures, workshops, discussion panels and sharings of personal experience.
Participants will explore the intersections between the polyamorous community and other sub-cultures and movements, and will discuss mainstream culture’s growing awareness of polyamory and the impact of this awareness both on polyamorous individuals and society as a whole.
Guest speakers include sociologist Dr. Elisabeth Sheff, Ph.D; author and activist Franklin Veaux; Nichole Little, Executive Director of the Sexual Health Education Research & Outreach (SHERO); Dr. Ken Haslam, MD Kinsey Institute; and over 15 others.
The Atlanta Poly Weekend is being presented by Relationship Equality Foundation, a Georgia Non Profit. Sponsors include the Relationship Equality Foundation and the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom. Proceeds from the event will benefit Lost and Found Youth Inc., Atlanta’s only housing facility for Homeless LGBT Youth.
The Atlanta Poly Weekend will be held from June 6-8 at the Holiday Inn Perimeter Chamblee Dunwoody RD, Atlanta, GA U.S.A. Admission is $60 per person.
Cassie Fuller is a teacher. She holds an education degree and has years of teaching experience. One of her favorite things is learning from her students.
No need to call her Ms. Fuller — it’s Madam Cassie to you.
Fuller, 30, is a kink instructor who teaches classes like grappling and struggling, polyfidelity and how to pleasure a woman. She likes to focus on “kinking responsibly.”
She’d like to expand the instruction of kink to those outside the tight-knit, secretive, kink community.
Kink is a softer way of saying BDSM, which Fuller says often has negative connotations. “You say BDSM and people start thinking dungeons and dominatrix. People in kink are your neighbors.” She defines kink as “anything that you add to normal, regular, missionary sex” including “eating strawberries off of your lover” or pulling someone’s hair while kissing them (with consent, of course). ...
Fuller explains that people are beginning to try kink at home, but there isn’t a great way for them to learn how to do so safely. She concedes there are “very good books” on the subject but “a book can’t tell me, ‘Hey this rope is a little too tight.’” She adds that the public is “going to try it with or without the education” and she’d like them to be informed properly on how to kink.
Her Baltimore-based business, TTB Ventures, teaches sexy education classes at kink conferences around the U.S., and began reaching out to the mainstream last year with a conference called Touch of Flavor targeted to people interested in learning about kink. Approximately 400 people attended. She also set up a booth with four other people at Baltimore’s Beer, Bourbon and BBQ festival teaching people how to do a rope tie.
“We had lines of people who were waiting to be tied up by us,” she says.
While interest is high, Madam Cassie’s mission isn’t without challenges. Her first Touch of Flavor conference had to be rescheduled when the venue’s management abruptly canceled the event because of its “adult topics” focus. Twitter and Groupon would not advertise her upcoming Touch of Flavor event in July, due to the content. These kinds of judgments from mainstream institutions are why the kink community remains tightly private about their interactions. ...
People don't necessarily give up their ability to consent to sex — including sadomasochistic encounters — when placed under the legal conservatorship of others because they are considered unable to handle their affairs, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled Monday.
Lawyers in the case had said they couldn't recall any legal precedents in the country on whether mentally ill and disabled people can consent to sex or sadomasochism.
The state high court's decision came in the case of Greenwich resident Mary Kortner, who filed a sexual battery and assault lawsuit in 2006 on behalf of her now-dead daughter against fellow Greenwich resident and corporate executive Craig Martise.
Kortner said her daughter, who was mentally ill and partially paralyzed from a stroke in 2001, wasn't able to consent to the sadomasochistic sexual relationship she had with Martise over several months in 2003. But a jury determined in 2009 that Kortner's daughter, Caroline Kendall Kortner, was able to consent and found in favor of Martise, a married father of four who was never criminally charged.
Kortner, whose daughter died in 2010 at age 39 from an undisclosed illness, appealed.
The state Supreme Court granted Kortner a new trial on a technicality, saying a letter her daughter purportedly wrote in 2003 about unwanted sexual advances by another man was mistakenly given to the jury for deliberations despite not having been properly admitted into evidence.
Two of the seven justices were against granting a new trial. But the court was unanimous in its opinion that it is up to juries to decide if people are able to consent to sex, and the fact that someone is under a conservatorship doesn't automatically mean they can't consent.
While sadomasochism was glamorized in the popular book trilogy "Fifty Shades of Grey," the practice has long been on questionable legal ground. Some lawyers believe people can't consent to being assaulted or abused under common law, while others say established legal principles provide sexual rights to most people, including the elderly in nursing homes and the mentally ill.
Messages seeking comment were left Monday for Kortner and Martise.
Kortner's attorney, Christopher Burdett, said he disagreed with the court's finding on the consent issue, but he looked forward to a new trial.
"The fact remains that Craig Martise did something absolutely horrendous to Kendall Kortner and probably destroyed the last few years of her life, and he should answer for that," Burdett said.
Martise's lawyer, Philip Russell, said he and Martise are disappointed with the high court's decision, and he's worried about Martise having to endure another trial.
"It's devastating," Russell said. "He's a hardworking guy. He's a solid citizen. And he's worn this scarlet letter now for 11 years."