Erotic Publishing: Deliciae Vitae
It’s part two of our flick through the high end world of erotic publishing and this time we spoke to the founder of one of magazine publishing’s best loved and most missed titles, namely Kinder Aggugini of Deliciae Vitae.
Where did the idea for Deliciae Vitae come from and when did you first think of it?
When I was a teenager, I approached one of Europe’s leading publishers of adult material with my idea for a stylishly superior men’s publication. I knew there was a market for an international magazine that was classy, luxurious and sexy but which was fundamentally not about porn. I mean if that’s all you want you can get it anywhere, right? They laughed me out of the building...
Another 18 years on, the culture of photography and publishing has come a very long way. Having worked as a fashion designer for much of the intervening period I’ve been struck how much fashion, and particularly fashion photographers have embraced sex and sexuality in advertising and editorial fashion shoots for men and women.
Ultimately, as the fashion industry knows very well, it’s the image - the way someone (or something) is photographed - that makes them desirable. The medium - as they say - is the message. Which explains why certain fashion photographers have become as famous as film directors.
See some of our favourite spreads from the three issues of Deliciae Vitae
It was a pioneering magazine that caused a huge stir and continues to be very influential - why did you only publish three issues?
Time constraints. At the time I was a ghost designer with an overstaffed office. A few years ago I started my own collection and had to keep DV on the backburner, until I find the right publishing company that could help to share the workload.
Why do you think it had such an impact?
It is a unique product, generated by people who have a strong sense of aesthetic or are brilliant writers. We all work in fashion and I wanted a magazine that was the equivalent of a fashion show, with glamour, sex, elegance, beauty and visually stunning. I would have put a soundtrack to it if I could have.
I’ve heard you had some outrageous offers from stylists and photographers – what was the most extreme?
When dealing with sex we all have very different ideas of what’s too much or not enough. The difficulty lies in finding the right balance. For this reason, when assigning a brief, I leave ample range to all contributors, setting only a few specific guidelines. Invariably I have been offered work that broke all the rules but never in bad taste. So much so, that one specific shoot had every contributor in awe, whilst at the same time they all wanted to remain anonymous had it gone into print.
Sex is obviously very subjective as to what people find attractive, erotic and even acceptable – were you to remove the fashion element would it just become soft porn?
It would become just boring. This is not straight porn. This is the prelude to a kiss. This is the moment you look at someone and find them irresistible. Their smile, their neck, earlobe, hands, body language. The way we use fashion, adds to that. Take it all away and all you have is a naked body.
Like a fashion show with no fashion. Just bodies.
Why is female erotica so attractive to women and men but male erotica only has a relatively small market?
Ha ha ha!! I have a feeling it must have taken you hours to formulate this question to make it P.C. In a way you already have the answer. Women tend to be more metaphysical than men they can find eroticism in a phrase a song or a colour. The male erotica available today is often aesthetically poor and lacks the symbolism necessary to make it of a broader appeal.
Why do you think erotica has such a vintage element – if anything it only seems more appealing with age – can sex ever seem outdated?
Not at all, but our pudic sense changes through the eras so invariably we look back at what was once erotic and find it nostalgically appealing. For this reason we seem to push the boundaries further so that for many years we were trying to shake the canons of decency in order to become free from the taboos we were imparted. Nowadays we rediscover sensuality as a stronger medium to sex. Never outdated, always improved.
How do you think erotic publishing has been affected by the internet?
The good thing about eroticism is that it transcends languages and therefore the internet is the perfect vehicle for it. Best of all the vast quantity of publishing makes it diversify more and more. The only problem is that unless you know what and where to look for, you might find yourself lost in a forest of smut.
Is there any erotic publishing that you turn to now?
There isn’t a specific publication but I keep looking at the new work of young and established photographers and continuously witness a flourish of erotic creativity.
If you relaunched DV now, how would it be different?
I plan to work with a publishing house to launch an annual bible, a big book that comes out every November and will be available in bookstores and on the internet. Over 500 pages, mostly pictorial, with writing from the best journalists around. It will be a showcase of the most talented photographers with luxury as the visual guidance. I feel that if you have to buy printed-paper it has to be of the best quality and of the kind you never throw away.