The man is walking along the corridor. His expression shows anything but happiness, yet he goes on head strong with a light, almost imperceptible grin on his face. It is not the first time he’s looking at those walls. They’re quite familiar to him; many a time he’s been judged and condemned in that very place. But he’s not concerned about things to come. Not at all. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. The faces of the two guards at his side are indifferent, controlled by years of routine.
“Let the culprit in” – a voice says.
The trial begins.
The corpus delicti is an illustrated magazine, “Folies de Paris et de Hollywood”. It sells very well but some issues are blocked and seized by the police. Needless to say, it’s not the usual magazine that middle class families like to be found at their homes.
Less than fifty minutes later, the defendant is charged with several crimes, all connected with the word ‘decency’.
The year is 1957 and the place is Paris. The man is taken away from the court and arrested but he knows he’s going to be out of jail within three weeks. As a photographer, he considers himself an artist. Taking pictures of naked women – completely naked – is part of his art, part of his talent. How can they expect him to stop using his talent just because they deem it ‘offensive’ to public morality? It’s never going to happen, of course.
The problem is that we are in the Fifties and showing pubic hair in a nude picture is considered a proper crime, according to French law – especially when a lot of the girls depicted look so much more like typical girls-next-door than actual experienced models. This is totally intolerable to the bourgeoisie of Paris, a city ironically well known for decades of licentiousness.
The man grins, thinking about himself appearing in the papers, often described as a ‘subversive’, while his hands are soaked in the photo-processing liquid, lifting the paper from one basin to another and contemplating the images emerging from the white.
Another set of pics, another girl, another issue of “Folies” ready to be printed with its sexy contents. And – probably – another charge with offence to public morality. There’s nothing he can do about it: he loves women and he loves the way he can celebrate their beauty through his very own vision of sexiness – a sexiness often blatantly exhibited but also ironic, suggestive, sometimes even poetic. From time to time he also becomes the subject of his shots, being photographed with his models.
The photographer produces a huge quantity of pics during the years, out of the Fifties, straight into the Sixties, Seventies and so on, a true, original agent provocateur of sensuality, establishing – very much like Russ Meyer – a new direction for erotic imagination. As times get more tolerant, he finds himself less involved with courts and judges – a sort of victory, we’d say.
Is this the end of the story?
No, it’s just the beginning.
And, by the way, did I not mention the man’s name?
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