Asses. That's what I'm looking at inside the Taschen Store in Beverly Hills, all night. This life — it's such a struggle.
Taschen, the publisher devoted to culture both sensuous and sensationalist, increases its focus on big body parts with The Big Butt Book, the latest in its series of erotic-art books: The Big Penis Book. The Big Book of Legs. The Big Book of Lofts.
It's a hefty volume, stuffed to bursting with more than 400 photos by Elmer Batters, Richard Kern, Terry Richardson, Ellen von Unwerth and other noted perverts. Unsurprisingly, it is this attention to the tail that lures some 300 people to the shop tonight for the book's premiere.
Despite the word big in the book's title, it's not restricted to the steatopygic fever dreams of Italian director Tinto "Caligula" Brass and cartooning ass man Robert Crumb. It is, in fact, a celebration of that most sensitive and sensual part of the female form — be it big or small, attractive or beautiful.
Dian Hanson, the editor of Taschen's "Sexy" book division — as opposed to the editor of Taschen's $12,500 Muhammad Ali book division — sits with demure grace at the desk alongside cover girl and cul du jour Alexis Texas, both signing copies of The Big Butt Book.
Texas is a vivacious blond and proud possessor of a rear end constantly threatening to escape the filmy, flimsy material of the dress confining it. She greets everyone in line with a windswept, sensual air and a chipper bounce. This is, after all, a book about female asses.
The crowd downs cocktails named Booty Shaker and Thigh Slapper — apparently, a Butt's Fizz was a bit much — served by the Beautiful Bartenders. They're an international cabal of barmaids who, in a stunning death struggle between the tragic and the ironic, are outfitted with the least flattering panties in existence.
Doubly ironic: Sitting behind the girls behind the desk, I'm the one who sees the most of Texas' big butt as she and Hanson assess asses. Indeed, while signing, they're also evaluating.
The room brims with Playmates, Cover Girls and beautiful actresses whose names one cannot recall and whose faces rush past in a hazy cavalcade of loveliness. Hanson explains why: "You know what the problem is? When you've got Alexis, it's like there's no other booty in the world." She pegs Texas as an "11," in a continued admiration dynamic that's as religious as, well, ass worship.
We look for worthwhile asses around the room. I feel a little like the mad doctor in The Brain That Wouldn't Die, driving around looking at asses on bodies suitable enough for his fiancée's decapitated head.
The women who find themselves judged by Hanson and Texas generally rank around a 7. Texas pouts, "We had an 8 earlier, but it was on a white girl. There are no booties from black girls that I've seen yet."
A girl bursts through the crowd and disagrees strongly. "I'm a CSU Northridge track runner — go, Matadors. We try to get rid of the ass, so I'm the black girl who's trying to get rid of the ass."
"So you're running your booty away for education?" Texas asks incredulously.
"In about a couple years," the track star promises, "I'm going to stop track, and I'm going to do everything I can to get some boobs and ass. I'm black, so it just kind of comes naturally."
Hanson brags, "The great thing about Alexis is that there are a lot of women today who are augmenting their butts in one way or another — some of them legal, some of them illegal; some of them reasonably healthy, most of them not really healthy. Alexis' is a true phenomenon of nature."
What was the most difficult aspect of making the book?
"Having to go through a hundred times more photos [than published] to find good vintage booty shots because people [back then] did not shoot booty," Hanson says.
What constitutes a great ass?
Hanson thinks for a moment. "Projection, size, and it has to be framed — so you need a small waist above, you need a curve in the spine to project it naturally, and you need good skin."
Did she look at her own ass in the editing and writing of the book?
"I unfortunately did have to look at my own ass. I find my own ass wanting, but the great thing about being a writer and an editor is that I don't have to have the parts I write about in order to celebrate them."
Are saggy asses irrelevant?
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"You know, we can't help having saggy asses," Hanson says. "The great thing about the human being is that a human in love will forgive everything, so the saggy asses out there can still find love. You do not need a perfect ass to be loved."
What constitutes a great ass? Hanson thinks FOR a moment. "Projection, size, and it has to be framed — so you need a small waist above, you need a curve in the spine to project it naturally, and you need good skin."
"The great thing about the human being is that a human in love will forgive everything, so the saggy asses out there can still find love."