Of cabbages and kings (essay)

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Title: Of cabbages and kings
Creator: anonymously credited here on Fanlore
Date(s): April 24, 1994
Medium: online
External Links:
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Of cabbages and kings is a 1994 essay that was posted to Virgule-L. It is quoted anonymously with permission here on Fanlore.

Some Topics Discussed

  • opinions about the difference between porn and erotica
  • too many artists trying to create Suzan Lovett-type art
  • there was more variety in explicit fan art in the olden days
  • disliking poor photo reference use
  • why many fans are uncomfortable with explicit fan art but not explicit text
  • text allows for more imagination


I use porn as opposed to 'erotica' because 'erotica' is so often used to make 'it' nice, something with meaning and value and the sort of things nice girls might just be allowed to find interesting and the teensiest bit exciting. Well, I like porn. I don't care if it has not one iota of redeeming social content, I don't care if it's dirty and raunchy and utterly without saving graces. Erotica is also frequently applied to the very soft (if you'll pardon the pun!) end of the market, and I prefer very explicit material.

Not only do I absolutely adore the written dirty word, I adore videos and pictures (and live shows, oh, yes, please!) too. I like very explicit art also, which is why I dislike so much of current fan art. I know this is a minority opinion, but I *like* the naughty bits and I like illustrations of them actually going at it. A lot of early K/S art (a heartfelt nod of thanks to our very own Gayle) did this, from erect nudes to penetration pieces to fellatio -- the lot.

There was also plenty of portraiture and implied sex (Southern Comfort did a lot of those -- remember [File:Firsttimefourteen.jpg Kirk and Spock in evening clothes tangoing]?), but what really did it for me was the graphic stuff. However (and i'm going to sound like Lezlie here--help, help!), there was a lot more variety back then, in my as-ever unhumble opinion. Now, when I walk through an art show, it seems as if every piece is either a Lovett or a Lovett-wannabe. Or more accurately, the current trend in fan art taste is for Lovett-like art, with a similarity of style, design and construction. Unfortunately for me, this is *not* my preferred style of fan art. I really don't like pieces where I can recognise the perfume ad the pose was taken from -- and the proportioning that should have been changed to fit the male but which still has, instead, a female pelvis. I don't like pretty borders and fussy backgrounds, and I don't like cluttered, multi-imaged smorgasbords. With very few exceptions, the art I see these days doesn't stir me one ounce, and that is mainly because a) the eyes (and therefore the personality) are dead and b) they are sooooo tame! One exception recently has been Shelley (Sheryl?) Butler (Baker?), who showed some *wonderful* K/S pieces at Escapade. Now, they were definitely my cup of tea. Full of passion and emotion, pictures that told stories, illustrations of the moment -- and sexy. Oh, yes, wonderfully sexy. Aroused men acting on their passion for each other, with their personalities on show as much as their bodies, and not one piece drowning in rococo.

On wondering on why so many slashfen are either disinterested in/unwilling to discuss/uncomfortable with explicit art, my theory follows:

1) It's simply not their cup of tea. It doesn't press their buttons the same way that blonds might not do it, or bodybuilders.
2) It's one thing to say, oh, yes, excellent story, great characterisations, good plot development--but who's going to buy that when you're standing there, flushed, in front of a picture of Kirk with Spock's cock in his mouth, or Bodie on his back with Doyle buried in him up to the hilt -- or Avon on his knees with Blake taking him from behind? Not too long ago, it just wasn't the done thing to admit to liking slash for the sex - -perhaps for some people the same sort of thing still applies to the in-your-face (we should be so lucky!) art.
3) Most fan art is limiting rather than inspirational, in that the picture is there, static, defined, all the details given, which takes away the freedom to imagine and therefore, the inspiring thrill of adding your own sexual preferences. A story, with the right use of words, gives texture, emotion and guidelines, but the reader is the one who supplies the exact facial expression, or decides precisely what shade is meant by 'alabaster'. Equally, an artist who adds a 25 year old swimmer's body or a 17 year old girl's hips to a piece has taken away the options of the viewer, whereas a story allows the reader to decide just how much trimming shall be done of Blake's waist etc.
For me, a personal peeve: uncircumcised cocks. As far as we know, Bodie and Doyle are not Jewish, so therefore, the chances of *both* of them being cut are *extremely* slim. It's that sort of detail that can make the fantasy go kathud to the ground, and while one or two words in the middle of a sex scene aren't necessarily going to ruin it, it's much, much harder to ignore a flaw in a drawing. I don't usually mind if the writer forgot to take someone's trousers off (or does it twice! -- mea culpa), but it absolutely ruins it for me if I look at a piece of art and oops, his neck would have to be broken for his head to be at that angle.