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Toga Pr0n

I've been getting back into ancient Roman stuff lately, as a friend of mine (who used to write for La Femme Nikita- w00t!) has been encouraging me to write this novel about Cicero and Clodia, an idea I've been discussing for a while (more information here). It's been a bit hard, since I'm trying to avoid a Certain TV Show- One Which Shall Remain Unnamed- since I dislike it intensely, for various reasons I don't want to get into in this post. However, with much valiant effort I have been able to resuscitate my interest in Roman crap, which was the love of my life when I was in high school.

And so I'd like to share a few examples of a genre which I call "toga porn," which I read by the truckload when I was 15.






This is a fun, trashy bodice (or stola) ripper, with an awesome cover painting by James Bama- who, hilariously enough, is better known for his paintings of cowboys. Here, Messalina is not only into whips, but she's clearly having lunch in the middle of the Forum. Like you do...




Here's another "naughty empress" book, which in itself is a subgenre within the toga porn category. A better title of this particular epic would be "Poppaea does Rome." I don't know who did the cover- there's no credit anywhere in the book- but it's a nice painting, with lots of well done, if completely random details. (For example, note the parrot and the Mycenaean vase in the foreground on the front cover.)




And we've got Cleopatra! She doesn't look like Liz Taylor, but she looks almost exactly like Joan Collins from "Land of the Pharaohs." I'm not sure what actor Julius looks like. Lee Marvin?




And last but not least, we have "The Ravishers," with cover art by Manuel Sanjulian! This was not one of his more prestigious jobs (it doesn't figure anywhere in his galleries), but I know his style anywhere. Although "The Ravishers" (written by Virginia Coffman, under the name of Jeanne Duval) is a stereotypical 1970s stola-ripper about some luckless girl who bounces from the bed of one emperor to the next, and who is eventually reunited with her True Wuv just as Vesuvius blows its top, it's more amusing than most books of this type. It features some memorable scenes with an aging Nero as comic relief, and the Christians are portrayed as annoying simps. It's a sequel of sorts to an earlier book by Coffman aka J. Duval called "The Lady Serena," which is also is memorable in that Nero is portrayed positively.

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
dieppe
May. 14th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC)
Well... stola if she were married. This in an interesting page on Roman clothing. Actually those clothes don't look too difficult to make. And, it does sound rather confusing all these clothing rules. It'd be like "Married women must never wear blue jeans" or something. o.O

Very interesting though.. who knew there was such a genre?!
suburbanbeatnik
May. 14th, 2008 01:27 am (UTC)
Well, I guess I could have said "tunic-ripper," if I wanted to be pedantic... But "stola-ripper" sounded funnier to me. :P

Yeah, one would think that Roman clothes would be easy peasy to make, but it seems the simpler the clothing, the more they're screwed up. You really have to pay attention to every last detail to make a really nice looking Roman costume.
dieppe
May. 14th, 2008 01:31 am (UTC)
I've been in the SCA for about the past two years (basically kind of middle-ages/renaissance recreation) and I've seen women wearing, well Roman garb. The trick, they say, is in the pinning. ?

What's interesting, or maybe less so, is the one man I know who wore Roman garb, also didn't wear undergarments. I've never been a victim of "seeing too much", but people have told him that he needed to be more careful when sitting down to cross his legs, etc. He recently started wearing later period Venetian clothes, and we were all relieved because we knew that we'd be seeing "less of him". ;)

suburbanbeatnik
May. 14th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC)
I used to be in the SCA in Washington state in the mid 90s, but I never saw any Roman recreationists (if that's the word). I saw some Byzantines and a lot of Vikings, but that's about as early as people went.

Yeah, the pinning is v. important- plus, the fabric is absolutely crucial. Also.... NO TAILORING! Tunics weren't gowns, in the modern sense of the word. They didn't have hooks or zippers or separate bodices or plunging necklines. I could go on and on about this subject, but I'll stop myself...

That's a bit scary about the no-underwear guy. Didn't he have a handy loincloth? :P
dieppe
May. 14th, 2008 01:50 am (UTC)
The no-underwear guy... he claimed that he was being authentic.


And yeah, the fabric is quite important. As in... no see-through dresses! Which, well, as a guy I'll admit I don't actually mind as such, but it's still a little tacky when the whole world sees.

Well, we do have a decent SCA kingdom down here in Caid. My guess is that you probably either burnt out on it, or it was one of those "when I was in college I experimented with the SCA" kinds of things? ;)

And SCA Romans are rare, but sometimes the clothing shows up because it's easy to make. And one could assume that people in 500AD might have worn costumes of the Romans after all.

Oh yeah, and with these various Roman clothes.. no bodices or plunging necklines and they really need to be careful with wearing something like a bra underneath. Again, most people don't really need to see anything on accident either... O.O

suburbanbeatnik
May. 14th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
The no-underwear guy... he claimed that he was being authentic.

Yeah, right! :P

And yeah, the fabric is quite important. As in... no see-through dresses! Which, well, as a guy I'll admit I don't actually mind as such, but it's still a little tacky when the whole world sees.

No see-through fabrics? Well, that would be authentic... if you were a Roman hooker!

But one look I always thought was cool was the layering of translucent fabrics. I wish I could see that done more in film. That would be way sexier and more authentic that the fantasy pin-up clothes worn by certain actresses in That TV Show Which Shall Remain Unnamed.

Well, we do have a decent SCA kingdom down here in Caid. My guess is that you probably either burnt out on it, or it was one of those "when I was in college I experimented with the SCA" kinds of things? ;)

Definitely the later! I did go to a RenFaire in Phoenix recently, although I was cringing the entire time. ;)

And SCA Romans are rare, but sometimes the clothing shows up because it's easy to make. And one could assume that people in 500AD might have worn costumes of the Romans after all.

Well, I'd say it would be deceptively easy. Good fabrics are hard to find, and it's not like there's a lot of extant costumes available for study. Also, fashions had changed a lot by the 4th century- for the rich. I suppose it would be probable for a poor person to wear a standard issue tunic. But clothes for the wealthy were moving towards the more modest, heavily ornamented Byzantine look.

Oh yeah, and with these various Roman clothes.. no bodices or plunging necklines and they really need to be careful with wearing something like a bra underneath.

Roman women did wear strophium, or breastbands... Even prostitutes in Pompeii are painted wearing their primitive bras, even while boffing their johns. Go figure!
rufinia
May. 18th, 2008 04:05 am (UTC)
No, there aren't a lot of extant stuff, but there's lots of statues and mosaics and lists of fabrics and Cato bitching about what the kids are wearing these days... there's LOTS to play with. Especially the bitching.

I did a class at Pennsic last year about Roman women's underwear. Good times strutting around with my chiton around my waist so ev eryone could see my strophium...

suburbanbeatnik
May. 31st, 2008 11:06 am (UTC)
I was actually reading up on Roman underwear for my novel. I was quite impressed by the leather briefs (worn by acrobats?), and of course I always enjoyed reading about the ubiquitous strophium. (It's too bad you don't see that in films more often, but I guess they aren't sexy enough.)

By the way, what are your favorite sources for clothing?
rufinia
May. 31st, 2008 03:42 pm (UTC)
I believe that as a rule, women didn't wear underpants. There are a number of works of art that show women in various states of undress (usually while about to have sex) that show them without underpants but with a strophium. I agree that the leather panties were probably athetic gear in one form or another.

Most of my clothing research has been looking at statues and other artworks and trying to figure out how to make things look that. This book, The World of Roman Costume is pretty good, but I am not terribly impressed with their "reconstruction" section.

http://www.amazon.com/World-Costume-Wisconsin-Studies-Classics/dp/0299138542/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212247878&sr=8-1

I really like The clothed body in the ancient world, but it's hard to find.

http://www.amazon.com/Clothed-Body-Ancient-World/dp/1842171658/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212248450&sr=1-1

suburbanbeatnik
May. 31st, 2008 06:35 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the recommendations! I used to read everything I could find about Roman costume, but that was 15 years ago, and my memory has gotten a little fuzzy on a few things. "The World of Roman Costume" sounds like a good toga reference, although judging from the reviews on Amazon it doesn't sound like it does so well on womens' costume.

So, are you involved in Roman reenactment through the SCA?
rufinia
May. 31st, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
Not a lot of things do so well on women's costume, I'm afraid. A lot of the roman re-enactment groups focus on military stuff, and leave the women off to the side. Which is one of the reasons that yes, I do my stuff through the SCA. I am working on a Quick and Dirty How to Dress Roman guide because our Prince right now is Roman, and some people like to dress accoridngly.

I did find your post through the Smart Bitches (how I love them so). Would you mind horribly if I friended you?
suburbanbeatnik
May. 31st, 2008 07:07 pm (UTC)
I so wish I could remember the books I read when I was a kid. There was one that really beautifully described how Roman fashionable women dressed, with the layered tunics of thin fabrics, of contrasting colors. Your Quick & Dirty guide sounds very interesting- when do you think you'll have it done?

I love the Smart Bitches too- I'm actually working on a job for them at the moment (I'll post more about it when it's completed). I wouldn't mind at all if you friended me- I was actually thinking of friending you as well! I'm planning on posting a few more Roman-centered posts soon.

By the way, are you a big Law & Order fan? I really like your "doink doink" icon.

rufinia
May. 31st, 2008 07:09 pm (UTC)
I love L&O, but I mostly use that icon when I'm talking about work. I work for the public defenders office here in Boston.

I am shooting to have it done this weekend. It might even happen!
(Deleted comment)
suburbanbeatnik
Jul. 5th, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)
Aren't Jeremy Sisto and Linus Roache awesome in the latest season? XD
fendergal
May. 14th, 2008 03:16 am (UTC)
To-ga! To-ga! To-ga!
shadowdryad
Sep. 3rd, 2008 02:02 pm (UTC)
suburbanbeatnik
Oct. 8th, 2008 02:36 am (UTC)
That's hilarious! Lego toga porn-- that's an inspired idea. Do you have any more of those?
shadowdryad
Oct. 8th, 2008 05:45 am (UTC)
meritahut
Dec. 21st, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC)
I also posted this as a reply to a comment you made over in SPQR Blues, but just in case, I'll add it here in Ye Olde Poste, too:

The Private Life of Julius Caesar, with cover copy: "sensuous women from many lands in the arms of the fabulous Julius!"

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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