Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kiddie Porn



Ah, you kids today. You have it so easy with your fancy-pants computers and such. If you feel like seeing a picture of a naked lady, well by golly all you have to do is type in "naked lady" and there they are, more pictures of naked ladies than there actually are ladies on the planet. And you can get as specific as you want. If you're in the mood to take a gander at a huge-breasted Portuguese gal or a seventy year old blonde midget with green eyes and buck teeth, all you have to do is type it in and voila! there you are.

Well let me tell you, you're all spoiled, spoiled rotten I say! If we had ever had such a device when I was a kid our heads would have exploded in joyous amazement. Why don't you whippersnappers put down those smart phone doohickeys you're always gawking at and gather around the potbellied stove here. Grandpa is about to tell you about a time long ago when gas was twenty-six cents a gallon, you listened to music on a transistor radio and if you wanted to see a picture of a naked lady you had to work at it, goddammit!

And here were some pretty good places to start:


NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

The classic. While it was nearly unheard of for any other mainstream magazine to publish photos of a naked female breast the folks at National Geographic got away with it all the time. You see, they were not showing photos of white women dancing on tables or spread out seductively on a couch, No, no, these were shots of women from foreign lands, garbed in their traditional clothing, what there was of it. Through these photos of tribeswomen, usually African, we learned about their culture, beliefs and traditional ways. You see Kids, these were not just some regular breasts which we were looking at for prurient reasons, these were educational breasts!


SEARS CATALOGUE

No, there were no naked women in the Sears catalogue, but there were lots and lots of underwear ads. For an eleven year old kid it was a veritable wonderland of bras and panties, in any color and style you could imagine. And each new edition brought more, delivered right to your doorstep. The Sears catalogue was such a prized piece of erotica that for a period of time my brother slept with one under his bed. Mom and Dad thought this was funny, no doubt believing that he must be fascinated by the huge selection of Craftsman tools or pre-fab sheds. Perhaps their son would one day become a great builder! But me, I knew better. To my credit I kept my mouth shut--until this very moment in fact--but I knew what the little pervert was leering at. And it wasn't sheds.


HARRIET CARTER CATALOGUE

In fact, to a young boy the Harriet Carter catalogue was a small yet frightening sort of publication. It contained a good many products that were clearly geared towards old people. Products that promised relief from such alien and disgusting ailments and afflictions as corns, cracked skin, nostril hair and back pain so intense it appeared that little lightning bolts were shooting out of that grimacing woman's spine. A single pass through this book and you knew one thing for certain: you never wanted to get old.

One thing that might give a young boy pause as he flipped through this dreary catalogue, however, was the "slumber bra." A jaunty little number, it was modeled on a seemingly-headless woman and appeared thinner and lighter and just more fun than the average restrictive brassiere. And best of all, if you squinted at the photo and the light was just right you would swear you could see the faint outline of an actual honest-to-goodness nipple! Whoa! I'd gaze longingly at the unfamiliar body part for long stretches of time and then I'd pray: Dear God, I only ask that you keep me alive long enough so that I become old enough to one day remove one of these slumber bras in person. Amen. Of course, even in my vast brassiere-popping experience, I have yet to come across a real-live slumber bra, much less remove one. In fact, I've never been with a woman who sleeps in a bra of any kind. You lied to me, Harriet!


PENS

They're still around. You know, those pens that feature a picture of a rosy young woman who looks like she escaped form a 1940's Coca Cola ad. Then you turn it upside and SHAZAM! the clothes magically disappear and you're staring at a one and a half inch tall naked lady. The problem with seeing naked ladies in this manner, of course, is that the pen was usually owned by somebody else, and you were most likely viewing the show with a group of other hornified young boys. (Which may be your idea of a good time but it sure wasn't mine.) And asking to borrow the pen so you could view it in the privacy of your own locked bathroom was out of the question, for both social and hygienic reasons


ARCHIE COMICS

Yes, those Archie comics. No, of course there was no nudity in them. But there were the nubile and voluptuously-drawn bodies of those two oversexed teases, Betty and Veronica. And do you know that by taking a fairly thin sheet of paper you could actually trace an outline of one (or both!) of these lovely ladies, to which you could easily add nipples and a belly button? The more adventurous artist could even take his best guess and contribute a simple vertical line in an attempt to create something nearly authentic to what it might actually look like "down there." And so for the price of a twelve-cent comic book, pencil and piece of paper you could create your very own naked ladies! Or so I'm told. Ahem.   


PLAYBOY 

Well sure, of course. At least we had Playboy. Or did we? Not as young boys we didn't. Oh we knew they were out there, but how exactly does a kid get his grimy little mitts on this hallowed tome? For the most part, he didn't. In fact it was years after my National Geographic and Harriet Carter experiences that a quick guilty glimpse of a Playboy centerfold caused me a major upset. For up until then, God as my witness, I had absolutely no idea that women had pubic hair. It was quite a shock for such a young innocent lad, let me tell you. Happily I've since recovered from that long-ago trauma. For the most part, anyway.


LOOK

Look was a general interest magazine that was considered a "poor cousin" to the more popular Life. The two magazines enjoyed an almost identical lifespan, from the late 1930's until the early 1970's. It was a nice magazine to thumb through, with lots of color pictures, and Mom was a regular subscriber. As were most of the proper housewives in the neighborhood. Yes, Look magazine was good wholesome family entertainment. Until...

I didn't understand it then and I don't understand it now, but somewhere in my youth Look published "the issue." Out of nowhere, it seems, Look had decided to do a feature on Rudy Gernreich's newest fashion creation, the topless bathing suit. With photos. Never had the name of a magazine suddenly become more appropriate, at least around my neighborhood.

And these were not some coy, peek-a-boo shots of implied breasts, no siree. These were the real thing, boobs right there for all to see. And they weren't sagging tribeswomen boobs either, but those of beautiful young models. The only concession to modesty was that the most revealing photo had been shot underwater. Nice, clear water.

And don't kid yourself. That these pictures should appear in the uptight suburban neighborhood of forty years ago was nothing short of a miracle. Imagine a man crawling across a desert when suddenly a Slurpee machine drops out of the sky. In his favorite flavor, no less. That's what it felt like.

A few days later I saw our issue of Look on a pile our trash. This was nothing out of the ordinary, that's where all magazines ended up. But somehow it didn't seem right for this particular issue to be treated with such disrespect. I wanted so badly to pick up the magazine, cuddle it in my arms and bring it back home to keep under my bed forever. (Let my brother keep his lame Sears catalogue.)

But alas, I hadn't the courage to make such a move. I was afraid I would be seen. And that's not paranoia talking--this was a repressive, stifling world where virtually everything you did was seen, noted and more often than not reported. Two hours later I returned to the trash to find that the magazine was gone. There was, apparently, a boy in the neighborhood who was braver--and sneakier--than I, and he had absconded with my naked lady magazine. Still, I wished him well.

So be grateful for your computers, Kids. 

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