I'm a big fan of photography books ... when it's a subject I enjoy. Doris Kloster's Demimonde: A Visual Exploration of Fetish is one of those books. Not that I'm the kind of guy who likes to dress up in leather chaps or be with a woman in some uniform (unless it's an SS uniform -- for some reason women are sexy in those, and I'm no Nazi sympathizer). I just happen to enjoy the visuals, and this book captures the fetish aspect quite well. You've got prostitutes, spankings, Catholic school girls, and so on. I wrote a positive review of it for Amazon four years ago, and I stick by it. Yeah, it's a coffee table book, but not one you want to leave around for your mother (unless that's your fetish).
Few people seem to understand that costumes and erotic photography can actually be art. They see somehow bound and gagged and immediately think porn. Yes, it can work as porn, much like the Victoria's Secret catalog provides masturbation material for thirteen-year-olds without the Internet or friends. It goes beyond that, though, and isn't meant to be a self-pleasure aid, though I'm sure the photographers wouldn't mind if it were used as such.
Right now I'm working on a manuscript where one of the characters is a fetish photographer. I've known a few of those, along with the models they use. They are always interesting people. I would even say that most of the ones I've met are fairly well-grounded, but open about their desires and their own fetishes. Some look at this as a job. Some are exploring their passions. All of the photographers I've met treat it as art, while only some of the models share that sentiment.
I have book shelf space dedicated to art books and erotica. (Oddly enough, there is only like one category separating them.) Kloster's book is firmly in place in the art section. One friend who happened to glance through it said it should definitely be in my "porn spot" (which is a highly inaccurate description). We argued a bit about it until she admitted that she did find the pictures kind of a turn-on, and that's what made her think they deserved to be in the "porn" section.
Some people will never get it. Some people will get it all too well. Either way, I'm not moving it.
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