You Can Almost Touch It
BY Matthew Breen
March 09 2011 5:00 AM ET
Taschen’s sexy-book editor, Dian Hanson, made a big, big splash in 2006 with The Big Book of Breasts and decided that the only way to follow up such a book was with The Big Penis Book — which, when it came out in 2008, was so popular it was even picked up by stores that had never before carried male-focused erotica. To anyone who has seen the trouser-rousing book of ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s photos, it’s not surprising that this is Hanson’s best-selling title to date.
The porn doyenne is an unabashed fan of cheap thrills, including the rockets and spears — not speaking metaphorically — of 3D movies, so the decision to combine fantastic phalluses with the follow-you-around-the-room effect of 3D images was a no-brainer (and not just because these images encourage the blood to run out of one’s brain in favor of other regions).
The result is a 220-page hardcover special edition, The Big Penis Book 3D (Taschen, $39.99), featuring 96 images from the original book plus eight new bonus photos, all transformed into eye-popping 3D—and it comes with a pair of red-and-blue anaglyph glasses. By design, the images from this book and its 2D predecessor are old-school erotica. “These were made as pornography,” says Hanson, “without the earmarks of fine art.” The images are not from the likes of artistic photographers Greg Gorman or Robert Mapplethorpe but rather from Bob Mizer of Athletic Model Guild, David Hurles of Old Reliable, Colt, Falcon, and other smut purveyors.
Taschen selected Jon Schnitzer and the Brain Factory to transform the images, due to the ingenuity of Schnitzer’s technique, one resulting in an effect very unlike that of most other 3D books: The images look great with the glasses on, but the transformation is subtle enough that the photos are still very viewable without the specs. (The Big Book of Breasts 3D is available now as well, also $39.99.)
The technique, changing all color images to black-and-white before transforming them into anaglyphic images, meant that not every photo in the original book was a good candidate for 3D. Photos awash in too many gray tones didn’t appear to have enough depth, and images in which an arm or leg was blocked by a flat surface or extended outside the frame often made the subjects look like amputees. Hanson recalls a call from Schnitzer in which he told her, “I know they’re from the ’70s, but no more hairy guys!” Hanson explains that Schnitzer had “to create a red-and-blue image for each individual hair,” adding that perhaps owing to the intensity of work involved, “some of my favorite images are the hairy guys.” Indeed, the devil is deliciously in the details.