Part 1 of our vintage season was published away back in March. There hasn’t been a part two (or beyond) since then due to the usual distraction factors. We write about something else…the RL European naturist season occupies us, a whole variety of reasons.
But in the meantime I’ve been stockpiling some vintage related posts and adding as I’v gone along.
I still think there’s a beautiful innocence (yet daring aspect) to retro/vintage nude photography, a theory I’ll expand on throughout this post.
Received wisdom might be that, 100 years ago, ‘good girls didn’t’, while the photography of the era suggests that good girls could and did pose for nude photography. Again, received wisdom is that some historical nude photography would have featured prostitutes, who certainly did. But the vast amount of that photography that exists suggests that it wasn’t just prostitutes who’d pose for a few francs or Deutschmarks, but that good girls could be persuaded to take their clothes off for the camera too.
Many early naturists have been photographed throughout the years, in an era when it was a bit more daring to be involved in such a thing than it is now. Clubs operated under secrecy, often, and there’s evidence of members being known to each other under their nom-de-nu, if I can call it that, or being attributed a name steeped in classicalism. Thus you’d have people called Calliope or Thespis.
Thespis was a Greek dramatist, I think, from which we get the word ‘thespian’, to denote an actor. And Calliope was said to possess a beautiful voice.
So at your interview to join a nudist club (yes, you were interviewed at length, depth and with some vigour), you’d be asked about other pursuits. You didn’t need to be an opera singer to be attributed the name ‘Calliope’, for example. Being in the local church choir, and therefore a singer, might get you that name. It was all about guesswork, assuming you even could be bothered guessing, about other club members.
With naturism becoming a lifestyle (in Germany, certainly) in years just after the Victorian attitudes that prevailed across Europe, not just in England, and when the sight of an ankle was ‘shocking’, stripping fully nude was a radical act, and one that history records as being more the preserve of a radical middle class than the working classes.
The author Virginia Woolf went skinny dipping with poet Rupert Brooke in 1911, for example. These are the sort of people for whom skinny dipping would have been an attractive, radical idea amongst the middle classes or the intelligentsia.
That’s not to say that skinny dipping didn’t occur in the working classes. There’s also evidence of street urchins swimming naked in reservoirs around London, simply because swimming costumes were an expensive, unnecessary luxury.
But both classes approached the concept from different angles.
The whole sense of Greco-Roman classicism also fed into nude photography. Almost certainly all produced for the early pornography trade, it nonetheless can be seen to be feeding backwards and forwards into some aspects of the values of the early naturists.
There’s plenty of evidence of photography mimicking that classical style, with women (and men) dressed up in a certain way to look Greco-Roman. I’m guessing that, while this was definitely part of the general education of the middle classes, well versed in classicalism, around Europe, there might also have been a sense of ‘mounting a defence’ against the authorities. What better way to throw one’s hands up and say ‘it isn’t pornography, Constable, it’s a depiction of life in the days of Rome (or Sparta, or ancient Athens).
Let’s look at this : publishing a magazine called ‘The Greco-Roman Lifestyle’ (all well documented in literature) stood a better chance in court than publishing the same photos in a magazine called ‘Naked Women’ or, worse, ‘Naked Prostitutes paid to pose’!
Astonishing numbers of early 20th century nude photographs feature models pose in all manner of classical poses, draped in something diaphanous, across chaises longues, and with various classical ‘props’.
Many esteemed, celebrated photographers earned a reputation in this sort of work.
While all of the photographs in the post thus far feature women, the male was just as readily photographed in similar poses and props.
I’m not an expert on pornography by any stretch of the imagination, but from what I know of it, exclusively as a result of researching this blog (porn never held any appeal to me), it appears that almost all pornography -oral sex, penetrative sex, heterosexual and gay sex, was pretty much codified in image 100+ years ago (longer if we factor in painting and figurative art as accurate description). Images of which are readily available on the internet. It’s beyond the remit of this blog, and not something that excites me, so if you wish to explore more…explore it at your own leisure.
Note how, in many of the photos, the (French) word ‘artistique’ appears.
Much of what we know today was codified 100 years ago, and hasn’t changed.
I’m not adding any SL related content to this post on the basis that there’s a few more Vintage Season posts to follow, and SLN has got models and photographers out there inworld replicating RL for SL as I type…
I’ll be picking this up over the weekend with ‘Vintage Season Part 3’ (and beyond) and I intend to focus on ‘the vintage’ between now and the end of the month.
After that…it’ll be all manner of SL freebie goodies (in a naturist context) being blogged.