Older readers may remember one of Madonna’s (many) memorable moments. One that saw her letting it all hang out all over the shop.
In 1992, Madonna released her coffee tables tome entitled ‘Sex’. It consisted mostly of Madonna hanging about the place in the scud, with famous snappers taking photos of her. The tabloids were horrified and a reviewer in Spin magazine declare that Madonna was “…becoming the human equivalent of the Energizer Bunny”*
Most of the people I knew were mildly amused for about 5 minutes but not especially bothered one way or another. One person I knew, Sean Forbes from Rough Trade, AKA Big Sean, and his band of merry men, responded with a style and panache rarely seen in indie-land.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Wat Tyler’s ‘Sexless’.
Wat Tyler was one of those eighties/nineties punk bands that played crusty places like Club Dog at the George Robey and bounced about on various labels releasing whatever they fancied, without seeming to bother their heads about what the rest of he music biz was doing.
Released in 1993, ‘Sexless’ saw Wat Tyler picking up the gauntlet thrown down by Madge, giving it a sniff, and wiping their bums with it. And then, probably, giving it another sniff. It consists of a booklet of ‘erotic’ images paying homage to her Madge, and a 7″ single.
Madonna’s original was made with aluminium covers with the name stamped in the centre, giving it a high end, hard edged, somewhat fetishistic feel. Each book reportedly utilised a pound of aluminium resulting in a $100+ price tag.
Indie bands, and indie fans, just can’t run to that kind of money so, as a token, each release contained a little piece of tin foil with a hand-written message. Mine says “Brown love”. I’m just going to assume that that’s rude.
So what’s inside?
Madonna’s book featured the lady herself in a state of undress and in a range of increasingly provocative poses. Working fetish looks, exploring erotic fantasies, and simulating sexual acts of all kinds. Madge was joined by her, then, beau, Vanilla Ice and a cast of famous supermodels, socialites, porn stars, and other assorted publicity-hungry types. But where were the Wat Tyler lads going to find models willing to strip off and stand about in the street having their pictures taken? For no money?
Where Madonna’s publication revelled in shiny, stylish, stylized erotica, Wat Tyler were a bit more…earthy.
One of the images was later released on a picture disc so you could watch it going round and round, but I don’t have that (I don’t think so anyway).
I don’t know how Sean feels about this now, but I think it’s a masterpiece from a Master Piss-taker.
*This image is from the Wiki entry for Madonna’s Sex. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_(book)