PRIVATE COLLECTION 1970-1980 / THE PRIVATE COLLECTION 1980-1989
first encounter with the work of Berth Milton- the grubby patriarch
behind the notorious Private pornography empire-
came during a youthful visit to Amsterdam in the mid-eighties.
What I found most shocking about his magazine (beyond the compellingly
lurid photo sets) was the confusing bi-lingual narrative which
accompanied the gritty visuals. Seemingly written in esoteric
code, not unlike the Nadsat droog speak in A Clockwork
Orange, the written content always felt like it was authored
by someone with a profound case of pornographic dyslexia. On revisiting
the magazine, in the form of this beautifully designed Taschen
set, my initial assessment still holds true. Over its 960 pages
there is much talk of ‘heavy shag scenes’
and the joys of ‘punk cunt’, a textual dynamic
that makes the written content appear more like experimental poetry
then a literal interpretation of the sexual gymnastics happening
on the page.
Luckily, this provides a degree of comic relief which helps distract
from Milton’s meat and potatoes approach to documenting
the myriad of ways which humans can copulate. Younger readers
will no doubt be shocked by just how raw the visuals around this
time could be. The girls have a lived in look that just doesn’t
exist in the smut production lines of today. It seems Milton wouldn’t
give potential models a second look unless they were carrying
excess weight, facial blemishes or caesarean scars as thick as
Cuban cigars; meaning that whilst this collection proves useless
as wank fodder, it does provide a fascinating insight into the
aesthetics of European pornography at the time. The sole exception
to this rule being a raunchy shoot from the 80’s that features
Scottish born tit queen Stacey Owen.
set contains five separate small format, hard cover books that
include eight photosets, along with Milton’s ‘hey,
let’s just fuck yeah’ editorials and vintage advertising.
The design quality, as always with Taschen, is fantastic throughout.
If nothing else you have to respect the publisher for having the
balls to deliver a warts and all (quite literally in some cases)
package that is unlikely to appeal to any mainstream audience.
In this case the term ‘coffee table book’ is something
of a misnomer as only the most shameless pervert would keep these
on open view. Despite my raging biblophillia I have no idea what
to do with mine. In fact I find myself hiding both sets at the
highest reaches of my book shelf. Mostly because I’m struck
by the fear that a casual acquaintance might pick one them up
and be scarred for life by the sight of a leotard clad, platinum
blonde from Oslo getting soiled by the watery secretions of a
pack of overly hirsute males. Ultimately Milton should be praised
for his battles against censorious forces, but this reader just
wishes he had invested in some hair trimmers, wet wipes and soft
focus lens gauzes before he started clicking away.
The Private Collection 1970-1979 (UK)
The Private Collection 1980-1989 (UK)
The Private Collection 1970-1979 (USA)
The Private Collection 1980-1989 (USA)