It’s all the rage at the moment, stirring the halls of power in certain countries, and satisfying some sense of puritanical virtue. Bonking is off the cards for politicians – at least in certain contexts, and some states. In Australia, the issue of the Deputy Prime Minister’s relationship with an ex-staffer whilst married persists in gripping politics with what is now a deadening hand. Not, however, for a certain Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
To pay homage to an inspirational woman such as Josephine Baker was a daunting prospect, and something I put off for a while. Not only because of who she was in terms of the history of dance, show biz, and her relevance in black culture but also the political statement of the piece. Firstly I needed to bring together all the elements of the act. The right music, the correct moves and, of course, the persona. I enlisted the help of a dear friend and the head of the Bees Knees, Aliya Floyd. Her expertise in Charleston and the popular dance moves of the time were perfect in what was needed to make a true salute to Josephine. Naturally, I studied her range of facial expressions as well, which I feel is her signature – and a whole piece of choreography within itself.
London, 9 August, 1967. At the height of his short-lived fame, Joe Orton – anarchic playwright and cause célèbre of the English theatre – is found murdered at 25 Noel Road, Islington, his brains bashed in by his long-term lover and one-time collaborator Kenneth Halliwell. Divided in life by Orton’s hard-won success as a writer, the two are forever united in death when Halliwell savagely bludgeons Orton with a hammer then takes a fatal dose of sedatives.
Righteousness is never pretty, and it tends to often respond after the fact. The fallen hero, or at least the figure shrouded in mystery, is suddenly found to be a creature of ill repute, tarnished, and therefore, in need of emotional and psychic exile. Works, and the man, need to vanish. Such a figure is Donald Friend, advertised on the chat show circuit in Australia as the country’s greatest paedophile artist. (He has been regarded as the finest of figurative draughtsmen.) The title is, in a sense, a typical introduction to what is an old confusion: is the art of an immoral, criminal artist to be treated as its creator?
Now, you want to know how many years in jail your collection of internet pornography is worth. Of course you do. (Your dead-wood porn is quite safe. Nobody has been prosecuted for having feelthy postcards since Pontius was a pilot; it’s all internet stuff these days.) I am here to tell you.
What connects Madonna, the latest Wonder Woman film, Halle Berry, 80’s boy band Bros, fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger, photographer Herb Ritts, Cher, Hussein Chalayan, Alexander McQueen and Pop artist Allen Jones? Whitaker Malem.
I was never really one for comic books. Both of my brothers would read them avidly: everything from Marvel comics to Manga, but personally I found them boring and stereotypical. Even as a child, I could see that their representations of characters, especially female ones, were unrealistic. Wonderwomen with tits like artillery shells, virginal Lois Lanes – they all seemed entirely geared towards men and their desires, masquerading as action comic heroines. Of course, there were powerful women within them – Captain Marvel and Black Widow to name but a couple. But despite all their super strength and heroic aura they were still drawn with the sort of overtly sexual features that men find sexually titillating.
'Performance and satire can give us kind of a cathartic feeling that there are people concentrating on calling out this move to the right but really it’s what we do with that feeling. I hope my shows inspire people to be more thoughtful and plant a seed in their brains and bodies to take action and pay attention to people and political movements that have caused these things that I satirise.'
Abigail Ekue is a New York-based author and one of ER’s favourite photographers. In the summer of this year the Erotic Heritage Museum presented Bare Men, her first exhibition outside New York. Abigail Ekue Photography has been featured in The Huffington Post,PAPER, Refinery29, The Creators Project, Séparée (DE), Erotic Review Magazine (UK), WideWalls (CH), The Naked and the Lens andMath Magazine and she’s appeared on various media outlets including W Radio Colombia, VICE, SiriusXM and Madhouse TV. She has participated in various group exhibitions and has had photography exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York and Musée du Louvre. The first edition of her book, Bare Men was published in 2016.