“Cupboard #205”

Image of Dahlia Grey and Anita Blond from this new Andrew Blake gallery.

I really want to go to the British Museum and the British Public Library after reading Rude Britannia: Erotic secrets of the British Museum (entertainment.timesonline.co.uk). From what I understand, as an author I actually can visit the British Public Library — which I think I’ll try do do when I visit the UK in December! Here’s why I want to go:

The British Museum and British Library have some of the biggest collections of smut in the world including S&M magazines

As the heavy doors of Cupboard 205 swing open in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, I can’t believe my luck. This is my exclusive peek inside a piece of antique furniture that, for many decades, has been privately known to the department’s staff as “the Porn Cupboard”. This is where stacks of racy and disturbing pictures, regarded as unfit for public attention, have traditionally been kept out of sight.

The British Museum has a strict duty to preserve objects — even pornographic ones — for posterity. A historic object isn’t any less historic because it causes offence, and the guardians of our cultural heritage can’t suddenly start behaving like the Taliban. So exactly how much controversial material has the museum collected? What’s on Her Majesty’s top shelf?

Most of the Porn Cupboard’s contents today look respectable: here are printing plates for the reproduction of thoroughly decent works by Turner and Dürer. That’s because, since the latter part of the 20th century, a lot of erotic material has been removed from the cupboard and repositioned in the department. “We’ve been integrating the contents of it into the main collection,” explains Sheila O’Connell, assistant keeper of prints and drawings. For instance, there used to be a Rembrandt etching in the cupboard called The Bed, depicting a couple making love, with the man on top of the woman; but that is now with the other Rembrandts in the museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings, on the fourth floor. You can request it and, as long as nobody else is busy looking at it, they will show it to you. There used to be sheaves of banned Georgian cartoons by Thomas Rowlandson in Cupboard 205, but now, providing you have come of age, you can go to Prints and Drawings and study Rowlandson’s images of gentlemen and saucy wenches having explicit intercourse on beds, on road journeys, and beside gravestones. (…read more, entertainment.timesonline.co.uk)

* More new Andrew Blake hotness — of babes and books, with a girl with glasses — featuring Nicola, Adriana Sage and Justine in this fresh video.

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