Songs for the Struggling Artist


Shakespeare Wrote Porn
October 6, 2008, 4:10 am
Filed under: art, business, Entries with songs attached, theatre | Tags: , ,

I’m not kidding. I’m reading Germaine Greer’s Shakespeare’s Wife right now and it’s her assessment that Shakespeare’s best-selling poem, “Venus and Adonis” was Renaissance porn. It’s not EXPLICIT porn and it’s couched in a beautiful metaphoric form but yeah, I can see how it could be interpreted as porn. I’d put it more in the lyric erotica category myself but it was the 1590s after all, so who can say?

It seems that during the plague when all of the theatres were closed and Shakespeare had no income coming in, he composed these erotic verses to bring in some much needed cash. Greer points out that “Venus and Adonis” was widely read, had at least eleven reprintings in Shakespeare’s lifetime and that most of the copies remaining had been handled so much that they were in tatters. Greer makes a lot of fascinating arguments around this idea (about Ann Hathaway, older women, sexuality and patronage) but what I’m most interested in at the moment is that this, our most treasured playwright, turned to this form in times of economic hardship. He wrote a best selling erotic poem when he couldn’t pursue his work in the theatre.

I too am short on cash and while no plague has closed down the theatres (gratefully!) they may as well be closed to me given the level of my current access to working in them. SO, I’m thinking about going the way of Shakespeare and Anais Nin and who knows who else and selling my art in a new form. Of course, if I’m going to do it their way, I’ll need a patron first, I guess. And I don’t really relish the idea of writing porn, per se. Maybe I’ll write some good feminist erotica instead.

On a podcast of Radio Lab (my current favorite radio show) they talked about this archeological dig in Egypt at the start of the century, which is essentially an ancient garbage dump. Among the fragments of gnostic texts and gospels of Jesus, they found lots and lots of the same scraps of paper. Something that had been sort of mass produced, and clearly very popular. Guess what it was. That’s right. Porn. (Here’s the show if you want to hear the story: egyptian trash )

I suppose all this makes me wonder what else I could do that might be in this neighborhood. I mean, I’m not going to make a porno, clearly but how can I sell out just a little bit just like those that have come before me and my hero, Shakespeare?

Here’s a pretty “Venus and Adonis”-y type song although instead of horse metaphors, I’m using something a LITTLE more contemporary. It also has pretty silly instrumentation. Listen here: Laptop

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