Whitehot Magazine

Nasty Women: Marilyn Minter Interview Part 2

Installation view, 2020, Marilyn Minter, SCAD Museum of Art


Marilyn Minter: Nasty Woman
SCAD Museum of Art
Feb. 11 - Aug. 2, 2020

Kicking off her heels to walk several exhibitions at the 11th edition of SCAD deFINE ART annual program of exhibitions, lectures, performances, and public events highlighting artists and visionaries at university locations in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia Whitehot's Petra Mason talked to SCAD deFINE ART honoree Marilyn Minter about decades of making art, activism, pubic hair and porn. Part 2 in a 2 part interview: 

PM: You’ve said how the artworld ‘beat you up’ in terms of how you identify women’s sexuality and sensuality. Personally, having authored books about vintage female pin-up photography I notice there is still resistance to women talking about women’s sexuality. 

MM: Have you noticed how pin-ups are now fine? Yesterday’s smut is today’s erotica. There is still a huge glass ceiling for women working in sexual imagery. And I’ve been asking questions since 1989 but I never had the answers. I was not condemning sexual imagery. I thought it was important for women to have images for their own amusement and their own pleasure. I want to change women owning the agency of sexuality. 

I believe nobody has politically correct fantasies. I am still asking those questions: why can’t women own sexual agency, why do other women attack them? 

What I’ve learned working with sexuality is there is no generalization. If there are any rules at all you will have to make an exception. If you make rules, rules will spit in your face. There is no universal anything when it comes to sexuality. I find if you try and put everyone and everything into categories and you think everything is black and white, nothing is black and white. Maybe death, And the sun rising (laughs).

Petra Mason with artist Marilyn Minter.

PM: Your first limited edition artist’s book ‘Plush’ celebrates pubic hair which is considered ‘shocking’ in this day and age as pubic hair barely exisits, particularly in contemporary pornography. 

MM: I did it for fun to remind people there is nothing wrong with it (pubic hair). I have students I teach -- and I knew these girls were lasering off their pubic hair. I am like, jeez! fashion is fleeting. I remember plucking my eyebrows and they never grew back. With ‘Plush’ my aim was to show that public hair is a beautiful thing, not a terrible thing. Dye it green but don’t laser it! Groom it or whatever you want to do but lasering it is forever!

PM: What do you consider your defining moment (of visibility) in the art world?

MM: Ultimately, artists have to make what they make and work for their own pleasure and vision. Sometimes the artword and the zeitgeist cross each other. So what you’d been saying you may have been saying all along but no one could see it. You’ll notice all of these artists who are dead or almost dead, usually they are female -- then they get ‘discovered’. I became the poster child for the ‘youth driven’ Whitney Biennial ‘Day for Night’ in 2006 while I’d been 'plumbing the depths of (al) chemical beauty (and its breakdowns) for a very long time'.  WM


Petra Mason

Cultural historian and vintage photography book author published by Rizzoli New York. Founder Obscure Studio and ArtHit. Whitehot arts and culture contributor since 2016.

Photography by (c) Thekiso Mokhele / Obscure Studio


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