“Punk was often read as an almost asexual movement on account of its brutal aversion to romance”, writes archivist Toby Mott in the introduction of his new book Showboat: Punk / Sex / Bodies. Because punk wasn't bothered with mainstream recognition, it was able to subvert censorship and explore sex how and when it wished. Whether that was through Johnny Rotten’s vivid description of sex as “2 minutes and 52 seconds of squelching noises”, or through the sadomasochistic and bondage outfits that streamed out of Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s infamous King’s Road shop, SEX.
Sex was inherent to punk, but punk didn’t want to hold your hand like The Beatles in the 60s, nor did it glorify sex as a godly act as hip hop and rap artists would go on to do in the 80s onwards. Instead, punk was raw and dark – opting for porn, theatrics, politics and fetish over romance and ever-lasting love.
Through Showboat: Punk / Sex / Bodies, Mott and an array of contributors provide anecdotes, lyrics manifestos, personal essays and historical overviews – including filmmaker Bruce LaBruce, Sex Pistols’ Paul Cook, photographer Bob Gruen and writer Will Self – that explore "sex in punk and punk in sex”. Chronologically spanning from 1972 to now, posters, flyers, record covers and various ephemera from Mott’s ever-growing archive, The Mott Collection, are surveyed.
Designed by Dazed’s own Jamie Andrew Reid – who has colour-coded pages to differentiate between contributions (yellow) and archival material (pink) – Mott adds, "What we hope we have created is a visually-led celebration of punk culture, which examines the historical relationship between punk and sex, as well as punk’s legacy and enduring influence on our contemporary positions on sex and sexuality."
Showboat: Punk / Sex / Bodies – published by Dashwood Books – will be released as 1,500 copies, available via pre-order or at the NY Art Book Fair in September. Find out more about The Mott Collection here