Criticizing Pornification (avant la lettre)

He who fornicates in front of a crowd publicizes the most detailed account of his personal technique and renounces mystery forever, giving up the enigma of intimacy that once depended on the (not impartial) testimony of a single witness. That was long ago, when we entrusted others with our intimacies. Never again. It’s my intimacy and I’m going to show the world.

This is by the late Carlos Monsiváis, pulled from Nightlife, an essay discussing live sex (i.e. copulating on stage), a practice that he says popped up in Mexico City’s nightlife in the Mid-1990s.

This was long before YouPorn (heck, the Web was barely invented back then!) and while amateur porn is proliferating, live sex seems to have almost died out. There’s but one cabaret still presenting it in Hamburg’s infamous St. Pauli district, I’m being told … however, Carlos Monsiváis‘ words still ring true.

Despite being considered a great public intellectual in several of his obits (Monsiváis died in 2010), one of them acknowledges: »The writer was not well-known outside Mexico. Translation of his work is very limited.«

There are a few translated pieces to start with, though: Monsiváis‘ essay Nightlife is included in The Mexico City Reader edited by Rúben Gallo. Also, Verso has put out an English anthology called Mexican Postcards.

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