Curioser and Curioser: A Peek at Lickorish

Lickorish.com is a curious site indeed; imagine erotica conceived by Lewis Carrol and L. Frank Baum, and you are part of the way there. Some of the work makes me think of signboards for a Barnum and Bailey circus sideshow, but then, some of it wouldn’t go astray in an Art Nouveau exhibition, or even hung alongside M. C. Escher or Andy Warhol, and some of it is just…itself.

Is the creator a man or a woman? Yes, is the cheeky answer given in the Q and A section. Whoever it is, they have a fine eye for the female form, and don’t mind showing men in sexually subordinate positions, but will also portray women in bondage if the mood strikes them. So I am guessing it’s…a woman. Or a man. If you can’t tell, it shouldn’t really matter, but still, I am curious…

One aspect of this work I particularly like is the way that ‘erotica’ is depersonalized through the use of a style suggestive of old-fashioned modernism and mass production, and ‘kink’ is almost de-kinkified by being used as insignia for advertising. This is not done in a way that makes the viewer feel used or betrayed, or that kinky sexuality has been used to manipulate them into buying a consumer product. Instead, the style assists in the depersonalization of the submissive subject by rendering them as objects not only of the power of the dominant figure, but also of commercial exploitation, and of our own gaze.

The submissive figures on the site are often depersonalized to the point of being only semi-human, by being rendered as a conglomerate of body parts, or as human furniture; the dominant figures, although usually pictured as whole and normal, are also highly impersonal, their gazes uncaring and inhuman, their pleasure private and internal. This is perhaps the most highly stylized and ‘mass-consumer’ view of female dominant sexuality I have ever seen.

Some images here are taken from the member’s section. It’s free, but you need a password to get in there – this is obtained by e-mailing the artist and awaiting a response. In addition to the more ‘risque’ of the drawings, you will also get to take a look at the more revealing photo manipulations; another aspect of the artist’s style. Here, s/he gives full rein to the fragmentation and distortion of the human form into shapes that are at once submissive and provocative:

There’s plenty more, but hopefully you are curious enough now to head on over and see for yourself.

One final word – the artist has a Cafeshop site selling not just private wear like boxers and thongs, but very public wear such as t-shirts and hats, as well as mundane items such as coffee mugs, mouse-pads and even lunchboxes kitted out with kinky / female dominant insignia.

The sexy thing for me about this aspect of Lickorish is the way the taboo against female dominance hasn’t so much been challenged as blithely ignored, as though it never existed. It asks us: “what could be more normal, more embedded in popular culture, than a dominant woman?”

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