Somehow I missed this article when it was originally published, but it is definitely a must read. The BBC spoke to Chris Foss, an illustrator of The Joy of Sex to tell the fascinating story of how the sex manual’s iconic images came into the world. Like many people, these drawings emblazoned themselves on my psyche when I first snuck a copy of the first edition off of my parent’s book shelf.
The article tells about Foss’ fear of legal repercussions for obscenity and the difficulty of finding models to enact the numerous poses that were then illustrated for the book. As some folks probably already know, one of the illustrators (not Foss) ended up posing with his wife for the reference photos. This led to an obvious sense of intimacy in the illustrations themselves. The article also contextualizes these images within the history of explicit imagery as well as the social context where The Joy of Sex was so well received. Looking at the illustrations inside of many of the contemporary sex manuals we carry, you can see the impact of The Joy of Sex’s ground breaking imagery.