Kids Have It Way Too Easy When It Comes to Porn
In seventh grade, my friend Brian found his dad’s porn stash.
It was in the underwear drawer, a classic hiding spot for suburban fathers to keep their dog-eared fantasies. We breathlessly flipped through his dad’s three or four issues ofPlayboy—not knowing exactly what to “do” with the porn we had unearthed, we just looked at it, marveled and had to rearrange ourselves on account of our tiny boners. Then we heard a car door slam. Brian’s dad had come home early from work.
My friend hustled up the stairs to his parents’ bedroom, with me right behind carrying the precious contraband magazine we’d been poring over. (I remember Jenny McCarthy was on the cover.) As I bounded up the steps, I felt something seize my ankle—Brian’s dog had been spooked by our sudden frantic movements and lunged at what his stupid dog mind thought was a new intruder. As I fell back down the stairs, I frisbee’d the magazine to Brian, who avoided the fluttering pages and caught it by the spine. He placed the stash back in its proper place and stacked the underwear on top, just moments before his dad walked in. “What are you guys up to?” he asked.
“Nothing!” was the only appropriate reply.
I was in a mall bookstore’s magazine section, trying to be casual. This meant picking up an issue of Spin and flipping through it absentmindedly to give anyone watching the impression I was just another music-obsessed kid. In reality, my eyes were scanning the rack in front of me in search of a rare phenomenon. While most “adult” magazines were wrapped in cellophane—and are therefore impossible to secretly unwrap—every now and then some brave soul “stuck it to the Man” by ripping one open. That’s what I was after.
The Art of Taboo – Ren Hang
Being a radical artist in China is a pretty tricky prospect. Considering censors banned paradigm of inoffensive banality Katy Perry from the country’s airwaves for supposedly being too vulgar (and not forgetting that time authorities made Ai Weiwei disappear for posting seminude photos of himself online), you would have thought that Chinese photographer Ren Hang would lay off filling his portfolio with gaping buttholes and models pissing on each other, or sustaining his unparalleled level of dedication to photographing erect penises.
But he hasn’t, which is a good thing, because his photos are great—somehow managing to desexualize naked bodies and turn them into sometimes funny, sometimes beautiful, sometimes gnarled, hairy, human-shaped sculptures that make you want to get naked with all your friends, paint your dick red, and hang out on a roof in Beijing. Which is basically the end game all photographers are going for, right? I wanted to talk to Ren about his work, so I did. Here’s that conversation.
VICE: First off, why is everyone naked in basically every single one of your photos?
Ren Hang: Well, people come into this world naked and I consider naked bodies to be people’s original, authentic look. So I feel the real existence of people through their naked bodies.
Is that why the bodies aren’t presented in a kind of conventionally “sexy” way, even if the photos are sexual?
No, I don’t take photos with any particular purpose or plan—I just grasp whatever comes into my mind, arrange that in front of me and take a photo of it. I don’t pay too much attention to whether a scene is sexy or not when I’m taking photos.
Yeah, a lot of the bodies end up looking more like kind of grotesque sculptures.
That’s not really intentional, although I do consider bodies as sculptural—or, as you say, grotesque sculptures—so I suppose the sculptures exist because the bodies exist.
It’s no great secret that VICE loves Richard Kern. Why? Because he’s one of the hardest working and smartest photographers shooting today. Stop asking stupid questions. Tonight, Richard is having an opening for his newest show, “Medicated, etc.” which features some totally new work, including the unveiling of Richard’s film, Medicated, which features cute girls talking about all the prescription pills they take. You can check out the unreleased trailer of it below. He also gave us these fantastic double exposures, which allow you to experience the X-ray vision we all wish we had. We think they rule, but hey, we like cute girls. And Richard. Go to the show!
131 Allen Street
Opening 6 to 8 PM
Today, Thursday, September 5