Erotic art by Phyllis Christopher
Sextrospective: A Decade with San Francisco’s Sexiest Lesbians
A DVD Collection
These photographs are a small sample from a body of work entitled, Sextrospective: A Decade with San Francisco’s Sexiest Lesbians. The decade was the 1990’s and I was a privileged participant and documentarian of the sexual adventures and explorations of what many would call the lesbian sexual revolution. The dykes in San Francisco stopped arguing about whether pornography was inherently abusive towards women. We picked up the cameras ourselves. We stopped worrying about whether our fantasies were patriarchially driven, and started to publicly explore our darkest fantasies. I was fortunate enough to meet women who wanted their lives documented. We were starved for images of dykes, let alone sexual images of dykes. I remember an almost desperate attitude coming from the women I would meet. They wanted their pleasures depicted, and for little or no pay. These are not professional models posing in this body of work. This work is about really brave women who were giddy with the discovery that sexual empowerment brings, and they wanted to share their gift with other women, and the rest of the world, why not — if they cared to look.
The lack of realistic and sexy images of dykes when I was coming of age seemed to say to me “You are not worth photographing. You are ugly and still need to be hidden and silenced and ashamed. As a young woman, I was hungry for images that reflected my experience of being with other women. I was having a really good time. I wasn’t seeing that depicted often enough, and that’s why I started taking the photographs in this DVD. The earliest of these photographs starts about 1989; before the Internet, before the gay publishing boom, before lesbian chic, before Ellen, and Melissa coming out, and before Madonna’s Sex book.
Photographing something implies it has value. To photograph somebody implies they are important. Images are powerful. They help to define a community. Look at us. We exist. We exist gorgeously! These photographs validate one of the most beautiful aspects of our being lesbian — our desire. My photographs document erotic moments between women. They have let me into their bedrooms and the photographs we make are like our little babies. Later they will look back and remember the joy they were experiencing at that time in their lives. Can you understand why the bravest among us would want to document one of life’s most beautiful aspects? I have photographed people who are still together and people who were having brief connections at the time, and both documents carry intense memories: This is magic. This happened. This could happen again.
What is being said about Phyllis Christopher’s Sextrospective:
“Phyllis Christopher’s photography defined my generation’s sexual revolution in San Francisco . Her images capture the women who turned the world upside down about dykes. Her artistry made us the superstars that we really were, but didn’t know it. Who needs Warhol when we had Phyllis?”
–Susie Bright, www.susiebright.com
“Phyllis Christopher’s clear-sighted and original vision has made her one of the most talented photographers working today. Her work is challenging, erotic, ambiguous, and fresh. This is a DVD to savor, to think about, and dream over.”
— Patrick Califia, author of Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex
“Phyllis Christopher’s photos are as imaginative as sex itself. Consider her subjects: punky San Francisco dykes, women peeing on the kitchen floor, flamboyant femmes, garish glamazons, and butches from basic to baroque. What could end up seeming merely bawdy or rebellious in another camera becomes, in Christopher’s hands, daringly fresh, stunningly exotic. Even in her straightforward portraits you glimpse a touch of wickedness. Her work has the power to change your ideas about women, sex, reality and art. As a DVD, it can heat up a room or inspire conversation like nothing else.”
— Marcy Sheiner , author of Sex for the Clueless
“This collection portrays more than a decade of dyke sexual exploration. Our San Francisco fog ensnaring the back of your neck couldn’t make these nights more real than experiencing Phyllis’ images. You’ll feel the wet pavement under your boots, the belts around your wrists, the gasp in your throat, the sneer on your lips, the nails on your back, the tongue on your high heel.
No model ever “posed, we lived. Magical Phyllis with her camera succeeded in freezing in time what even the naked-eye-witness might not have seen: the desire coursing through our veins.
Welcome to our world.”
— Shar Rednour, www.sirvideo.com
Much of Phyllis Christopher’s prolific body of erotic work has been published in periodicals such as Cupido, On Our Backs, Quim, and Blue. Her work appears in the books Nothing But The Girl: The Blatant Lesbian Image, I Am My Lover: Women Pleasure Themselves, and the anthology Photo Sex: Fine Art Sexual Photography Comes of Age. She has been featured on HBO’s “Sexbites, Canadian television’s “Sex TV, and the documentary film Erotica: A Journey into Female Sexuality. Her work can be viewed online at: www.thesexystuff.com and www.phyllischristopher.com.