21 Oct: Madonna’s Naked Photos

Berated by the tabloids as exhibitionist pornography, Madonna’s coffee table book, ‘Sex’, quickly sold out upon its release on 21st October, 1992.

Influenced by artists Robert Mapplethorpe and Cindy Sherman, the book included images of full-frontal nudity, simulated gay sex, mixed race couples, threesomes and trans imagery. Madonna vigorously defended it, in a series of interviews, as a portrayal of female sexuality.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly ask if Madonna was fighting an uphill battle to be taken seriously; debate whether the book was art, a smutty publicity stunt… or both; and consider whether a particularly sensational spread involving a canine companion was taken out of context… 

Content Warning: discussion of erotic imagery, including abusive sexual fantasies

Further Reading:

• ‘How Madonna Turned Controversy Into a Best-Selling Book’ (Entertainment Tonight, 2020): 

• ‘25 Years Later, Madonna’s ‘Sex’ Book Is Still Pop’s Most Radical Moment’ (HuffPost, 2017): https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/madonna-sex-book-25th-anniversary_n_59e9f8f1e4b0f9d35bca11e6

• ‘Madonna’s ‘Erotica,’ ‘Sex’: Misunderstood Masterpieces’ (Rolling Stone, 2017): https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/madonnas-erotica-sex-why-musical-masterpiece-defiant-book-still-matter-200685/

There are FIVE MINUTES MORE – in which the team consider eBay resale value, spontaneous nudie snaps, and the role of Madge’s boyfriend of the time, Vanilla Ice – available exclusively to our show’s supporters. Join us via Patreon*, or subscribe via Apple Podcasts, to hear it – and more bonus material ever single week!

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Emma Corsham.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2021.