Art Voyeur

Visual titillation

The Fantasy Art of Artemis Elena

Sexploratorium is showcasing the work of local artist Artemis Elena on the walls this month. On Friday July 17th from 5-9pm, Artemis will be hosting a reception with additional affordable prints for sale, refreshments and live conversation.

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We chatted with Artemis about her work and her life for the Sexploratorium Blog. Here is what she had to say.

What inspires you artistically? 
The human form, especially the female form, is my greatest inspiration. Sometimes I’ll be speaking to someone and I’ll start noticing the way different light sources are hitting them, and it’ll make it hard for me to concentrate on the conversation without daydreaming about committing the sight to paper.
As far as other artists go- Alphonse Mucha, the grandfather of the Art Nouveau movement is my biggest idol. My erotica pieces also owe a debt of gratitude to classic American pin-up artists, with Vargas and Gil Elvgren having the greatest influence in that category.
What inspires you sexually? 
Power exchange and rope bondage are the two big ones for me-
Especially shibari rope bondage, which I consider to be beautiful beyond words.
I discovered my interest in BDSM shortly after hitting puberty. I figured out pretty quickly that kissing my girlfriend felt way better if she was on top of me, pinning me down while she did it. We started experimenting with simple tie-downs and took turns being in charge. To this day, I delight in both sides of the D/s coin and place myself mentally in the role of both sub and Domme when creating an image that depicts bondage.
How does this inspiration manifest itself in your work? 
My sexual awakening was something that occurred secretly, but even so, I had the courage to accept myself and my interests. Many of the people I’ve met along my journey haven’t had that advantage and some of them have spent years suppressing their desires out of shame or denial. I find it hugely satisfying whenever I’m able to help someone learn to accept themselves and to find safe ways to indulge their fantasies.
I get a similar rush whenever I complete a new commission, since I’m helping my client bring their fantasies to life in a way that they cannot accomplish on their own. Making dreams come true, even dark ones, can be such a lovely thing. I’m thankful to be able to devote my artistic talents to that purpose.
How are your sexuality and your art related? 
It’s all about connections.
Art is a way for me to understand the world, to create a window that looks out onto a concept or a memory and to let others look through the window with me. Sex can be a means of understanding oneself and delighting in the joys of the flesh, but if done right, sex can be so much more than that. It’s a way of connecting with your partner(s) on a chemical and emotional level that is unlike any other tool we have at our disposal.
How does the work you do now compare with the work you did five years ago? 
My erotica pieces are more well informed now than they were in the beginning, which definitely makes a difference. And my technical skill has improved greatly over the years as well, which it makes it possible for me to tackle more complicated anatomical situations that I ever could have pulled off successfully when I first started out.
My artistic development over time will be something viewers can see for themselves at this show, since there are pieces on display from as far back as 2009 (Hedonism) and as recently as last January (Wonder Woman & Hawkgirl).
Around 2011, I started working with a client who had an interest in superheroine-themed “Damsel in Distress” pieces. He’s a gentle person who isn’t comfortable with causing any actual distress, so these commissions became a way for him to have an outlet for those desires. The D.I.D. pieces have changed noticeably over time, with the earliest one having a far heavier emphasis on distress than they do now.
I’m not super comfortable with depicting non-consentual activities in my artwork, even as part of a fantasy, so I found ways to give my client what he’s looking for without having to ignore own feelings. The damsels in my more recent D.I.D. pieces are still being roughly dominated in circumstances that were likely not of their own choosing, but their expressions have changed. I try to put a certain spark in their eyes that captures that “I don’t want to like this, but I do and I want more” moment that comes with humiliation.
Where do you see your work taking you in five years? 
I’ve been starting to refocus my attention on art projects that hold a personal interest for me, rather than simply taking on private commissions for the paycheck. I’ve been getting better at saying no to projects that don’t excite me. So, I expect the coming years to bring with them an influx of new artwork centered on my own personal kinks. I’ve always enjoyed drawing erotica and I expect the future to contain more Artemis Elena pieces, perhaps with a heavier emphasis on shibari rope bondage.
Also, I’ve noticed that although I take great pleasure in dominating men (or people who tend towards the masculine end of the spectrum), it’s a topic that I haven’t ever explored in my artwork. I may consider expanding into this new direction in the future.
How do you define erotic art? 
Any image that is created for the purpose of arousing one’s primal drives or to breathe life into a sexual fantasy, while simultaneously celebrating the natural sensuality of the human body. An image that depicts more than the purely physical act of sex or foreplay, but contains something of the emotional and spiritual in it as well.
What are the most prominent erotic elements in your art? 
The inherent power of feminine sexuality, both in Dominance and in submission, as well as the natural beauty of the female form (regardless of body type).
My interest in the concept of the primal Goddess may have worked it’s way into my art as well. I’m drawn to Goddess figures who are both creator and destroyer, so more Shiva than Gaia. Duality has been a long-time fascination of mine, especially when expressed through art, and I relish the occasions when I get to explore it in my work.I know for a fact it’s why I enjoy drawing the character Poison Ivy so much. She’s equal parts earth mother and enemy to humankind. Her sexual power is palpable in a way that her equally sexualized counterparts (Catwoman and Harley Quinn) just can’t match.
What are the erotic messages in your current collection? 
Sex and power are inseparable.
Tell us about each piece in the show: 

Kneel was created using reference photos taken in the aftermath of my first suspension experience. I was sky high on endorphins and feeling completely immersed in sub space. I wanted to immortalize that moment, so I used the photographs from that evening and to create a piece of art nouveau inspired iconography which celebrates the ecstasy of giving oneself over completely.

 Handling Lex’s Light Work was the first in my Damsel in Distress series, originally a commission completed for a client-turned-friend who loves seeing beautiful women in nylons and bondage. In this image, Superman’s two lady loves (Lana Lang and Lois Lane) have been kidnapped by Lex Luthor. However, Lex is a busy guy and snatching up two svelte women is hardly something deserving of his time. He’s delegated the task to his assistant Mercy, who is menacing the frightened beauties and man-handling them for fun while she waits for more instructions from the boss.
Midsummer Night’s Dream was my contribution to a Shakespeare inspired anthology. It is, quite simply, Midsummer Night’s Dream as seen through the lens of a steamy romance novel. In the final version, I’d digitally patched it onto a book cover and titled the tale “Legend of The Ass Man”, which makes me giggle every time I think about it.
The image depicts the unlucky actor Bottom, being attended to by the handmaidens of Queen Titania after his head was transformed into that of an ass by the faerie Puck. After changing Bottom’s form, Puck also put a spell on the Queen to make her fall in love with the strange donkey-man hybrid. Titania appointed a group of faeries to attend to his every wish and after he’d been doted upon (and assumably fluffed), she took him into her bower and slept with him herself.
Karnilla’s Captive was the  second in my Damsel in Distress series, this image is set inside the dungeon of Karnilla, Queen of Nornheim. She’s holding Lady Sif captive and has stripped the proud Asgardian warrior of her armor and weapons, which lay discarded in a heap on the floor. Sif is helpless against the sexual advances of the Queen and resisting her own desires towards the noble woman, but as one of Karnilla’s fingers slide slowly into her, she whimpers and gives in to the sensation. She fights to keep her balance as her knees grow weak.
The Kiss is actually about the moment of anticipation before a kiss. Ivy deals in desire all the time, so she knows the drill, but sweet Harley is putting her trust in her friend. In this moment, Ivy is considering what comes after the kiss. She’s thinking about how far she’s willing to take this. Harley isn’t thinking about anything past the here and now. She’s just excited to be getting some attention for a change.
As a side note- I absolutely love this pairing. Their personalities compliment each other incredibly well. I am SO happy that it’s finally canon in the Batman universe.
The prompt I’d received for Phoenix Rising was to create a nude portrait of Jean Grey as The Phoenix at the peak of her power. And, for added challenge, the client wanted her pubic hair to be shaped like a firebird. I decided that I’d burn away the majority of her clothing and I did my best to make the pubic sculpting as natural and believable as possible. After that, it was simply a matter of conveying the power and strength of will inside that character. Beautiful and terrible as a thunderstorm.
 
Wonder Woman and Hawk Girl captures a moment towards the beginning of an encounter between Wonder Woman, princess of the Amazons, and that winged aerial warrior, Hawkgirl. They’ve been kissing for more than a few moments now and the heat between them is starting to build, their hands starting to wander. They’re both warriors and extremely strong willed, so I didn’t have any specific power dynamic in mind when I started this. I like that they both have dominant body language going on, but I think that Hawkgirl has a very slight upperhand. She’s at a moment where she seems to be growing hungrier for more contact, while Wonder Woman is just about to start melting against her.
 
Diana in Distress is most recent addition to my Damsel in Distress series, this image depicts Wonder Woman at the mercy of her age old nemesis, Circe. I knew I wanted to tie Wonder Woman up with her own lasso in this piece, so it gave me a good excuse to work a lovely shibari chest harness into the design. I also threw in a little extra foot bondage for my client, because hey, why not?
I love that Diana is tied up with the lasso of truth, while Circe covers her mouth. It drives home the point (both to the viewer and to Wonder Woman herself) that Circe doesn’t care one bit about what Diana might have to say- She’s not interested in a confession. Circe’s posture is both commanding and somehow intimate. She’s interested in using Diana’s vulnerable state to her advantage and Diana’s eyes contain surrender instead of rebellion at the idea.
Hedonism depicts a scene from bacchanal. The followers of Dionysus are already half-intoxicated. They’re whispering secrets to a new initiate, tempting her and teasing her and drawing her into the same wine fueled trance as the rest of them.
 
Babylon the Great mother of whores and abominations of the earth, is a character I’ve been fascinated by since High School. She appears in the Book of Revelations, riding in on a seven-headed beast and getting drunk off the blood of saints, but I always thought she got dealt a bad hand.
If you believe in the omnipotence of God and the literal truth of the Bible (which is especially inadvisable where the Book of Revelations is concerned, since it’s all metaphor), then Babylon was cast into that role by God himself. She isn’t a human being, with free will and the ability to choose sin. She was born into it, like a fish to water. So it struck me as incredibly unfair that everyone should revile her name when it really wasn’t any fault of hers that she was evil.
I realize now that my childhood fascination with this character was my way of working through certain anxieties I had towards my sexual identity. I was a bisexual Catholic teenager with a sex drive that outpaced almost every boyfriend I’d ever had, trying to come to terms with the patriarchal social conditioning and slut shaming of society in general, and the everything-shaming of Catholicism in particular.
I was worried about being a nymphomaniac, simply because I had a sex drive, and girls weren’t supposed to feel that way. I was frustrated that God would command me to think only chaste thoughts, but then construct me in such a fashion where that was absolutely impossible to achieve. I was angry about being set up for failure and afraid that there was something inherently wrong with me.
And then came was Babylon- She was clearly a metaphor for Rome, but she was also a queen and a powerful, explicitly sexual woman in a book that has precious few of those. I considered Babylon amoral. She was not actively evil in the way that a tornado cannot be evil. She just was. A primal force of hedonism that could not be contained. I connected with her on a personal level in a way I didn’t consciously understand until I started writing this.

The Hometown Beat: Paddles by Drew Lynford

Here at The Sexploratorium, we pride ourselves on carrying uniquely crafted, high quality BDSM toys– and we comb through many potential designers to find the few we truly call artisans. One of our newest members to that fold is Drew Lynford, maker of exquisite and unique wooden paddles.

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Lynford is a hometown kind of guy– all of his beautiful designs are conceived and formed right here in Philadelphia and all of the wood used is Pennsylvania lumber sourced out of Boothwyn, PA. Even more exceptional than the wholly local origins of these pieces is the craftsmanship of each. Designs range from simple elegance to true showpieces– a gorgeous and surprising addition to a toy bag and certainly worthy of wall mounting!

As he expands on his time in his workshop, Lynford plans to be able to offer custom work for a truly more personal touch to your not-so-gentle caresses! Whether you crave Curly Maple or have a passion for Purpleheart, Lynford’s designs are sure to satisfy your aesthetic desires.

Available exclusively at Sexploratorium!

Fall Erotic Art Sale!

As part of the South Street Headhouse District’s 4th Friday art walk, Sexploratorium is proud to announce it’s first-ever Fall Erotic Art Sale at 317 South Street, which kicks off on Friday, September 27!

Whether you crave kinky, anime-inspired, fetishistic  fan art or classic fantasy erotic illustrations to bring  orgasms to the walls of your bedroom, home or playspace, shop from the varied collections of art we have amassed during our many years of travelling conventions and hosting the Aprhodite Gallery.

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Positively Sexy Performance: Gaga for Lady Gaga!

Since last year’s Grammy awards, we have asked our customers to nominate music videos that send a “positively sexy message” celebrating pleasure and body/gender acceptance.  Our original concept was to name a “winner” and give and “award” at the end of 12 months of nominations. Alas,  we have fallen behind in posting all of the nominations, and it turns out that many “old school” videos were nominated with a backlog of at least ten nominations. For the new year, our goal is not to create an “award” or a “competition” but simply to celebrate the performers and performances that send positive sexual messages.

Of the nominations we received, wanted to acknowledge the many  and mentions  sex-positive influence of Lady Gaga, especially for “Born this Way”.

Since the award winning “Born this Way” video became an anthem for the LGBT community, we decided to feature the gender-challenging  video for “You and ,” along with the groundbreaking live performance and interviews that resulted from its production. We’d like to give “Born this Way” some breathing room and revisit the positivity in its lyrics and video in the future, when a reminder would be more welcome and less “overloading.” This seems fitting, especially in light of the fact that “Born this Way” resulted in the MTV Video Music Award and ensuing performance that brought the newer and very different, “You and I” into public spotlight.


Bringing a new level of awesomeness to award shows, Lady Gaga completely reinvented themselves from the her famously femmetastic stage-show grandeur that  and performed in full drag at the MTV Video Music Awards last August.

In addition to her performance, Gaga remained in character through the end “You and I” video she has been interviewed in character as “Joe Calderone,” creating buzz and raising a bit of controversy about gender roles and “proper etiquette.” But by and large, the performance and her alter-ego were widely received with love, especially from the lgbt advocates interviewed by MTV.

For more information and news about the world’s favorite pop diva, visit the Lady Gaga Official Site

What’s your favorite video that sends a positive message about sexuality and sexual expression? Nominate your favorite here!

Rob Liptak’s Erotica in Wood

If you haven’t managed to get in to see visiting artist Rob Liptak’s work, you only have another week or so to experience this Ohio-based artist’s magical wood sculpture and implements.

Rob Liptak's customized wooden spoon-style paddles are only $36- Choose your illustration!

Don’t miss your chance to take home a souvenir of this memorable exhibit.  Aphrodite Gallery is open daily from noon-7PM and the show remains on the walls/ shelves of the gallery through October 31.

Please note: All art purchases are set up as lay-aways. Art must be picked up within one week of the show’s closing.

Most of Rob Liptak's miniatures sell for well under $200

Friday artists reception: The Photo Erotic

Join us Friday evening, July 22 for a group reception of The Photo Erotic a group show featuring your friends and local amazing artists Gary Deal, David Swift, Amber Kirylak, J. Isobel De Lisle, Robert Neroni, Joe Beaulieu, Christopher Sonzogni, Lisolette Gilcrest, Jimmy Lin, and Andrew Kist and others!

We hope to see you there! Dress to distress for arts and merchandise discounts (and photo opportunities- there will be 8 photographers in-house)!

Get Eco-Sexy at Sexploratorium

In celebration of Earth Day, Philadelphia’s Sexploratorium is going Eco-sexy from April 20th to the 30th (and beyond).

Hot off the presses, the new book Eco-Sex is out on the shelves this week.  Buy your copy at Sexploratorium and you will save 10% off any quantity of the following items (in addition to affiliate discounts or brand promotions):

  • rechargeable vibrators by LELO, We-vibe and Fun Factory
  • Steel cock-rings by Gear Essentials
  • Organic lubricants and massage oils by Sliquid, Hathor, Intimate Organics, Earthly Body and more.

Look around the entire store for special tags and discounts on locally made and earth-friendly toys including:

  • Fillable (hot or cold) ceramic dildos  are 20% off
  • Sustainably grown Nob Essence wood sex toys are 10% off
  • “Strapless” and other locally made glass toys by Tami King are buy one, take a second home for 20% off.
  • Recyclable, renewable glass toys by Phallix are 25% off. We just received a special shipment of 100 pieces in order to offer this amazing discount so there is more selection than ever!

Additionally at both PASSIONAL stores:

  • Bring in a reusable bag or luggage for your purchases receive an extra 5% off your entire order (in addition to affiliate discounts and promotional offers). Or pack up your luggage in a reusable toy case, and receive an additional 5% off your entire order.
  • Ask PASSIONAL staff to recycle bottles and cans you may collect while shopping in our neighborhood.

Special Eco-Sexy events

Thurday April 22, 7-9PM
Green Sex  with Juicy Justine

Celebrate Earth Day with a special $10 class with Juicy Justine

Consider getting involved with official Earth Day Initiatives

In honor of Earth Day, this special $10 class earns you 10% off any purchase of rechargeable, glass, ceramic, meatal or wood sex toys and organic lubricants/ massage oil, which more than pays for itselfLearn to save the planet and have better sex! In this workshop we will discuss ways to make your sex life a little greener for a more eco-friendly and sustainable sex life.
Juicy Justine
is a highly trained Sexuality Educator with her Masters in Human Sexuality Education. Justine currently presents workshops on a variety of topics related to sex and sexuality in a fun and interactive format for individuals of all ages.

Artist’s Reception for Ren Clark


Check out Aphrodite Gallery, where sexy abstracts by local artist Renae Clark are on the walls with a special reception on Friday, April 23 from 7-9PM. Meet our Philadelphia-based artist and enjoy local wine and treats.

Tami King Trunk Show:

If you can dream it, draw it and let Tami bring it to life! She can even repair and alter existing glass toys, so if you have one you want modified bring it in (clean) and talk to her about the possibilities during her April 30 trunk show.

Homegrown glass goddess Tami King is offering buy one, take a second item in her collection for 20% off from April 20-30. Looking to customize your glass toy? Did a vision the perfect non-porous partner come to you in your sleep? Draw a sketch and meet the artist at Sexploratorium during a special trunk show reception April 30 where you will save 10% off your custom order, plus 20% off an in-stock piece from her collection if purchased at the same time (in addition to affiliate discounts). Originally from the Pittsburgh area, Tami King obtained an associates degree in graphic design from Butler County Community College.  In 1997, Tami transferred to the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and received her BFA 2000.  She attended Salem County Community College in the Scientific Glass Technology program and the Glass Arts program.  She as well, works as a volunteer in the glass studio at Wheaton Arts in NJ doing hot glass demonstrations.  Tami was selected to participate in the female flame off in Philadelphia, has demonstrated flame working at Salem CCC, Banana Factory and Wheaton Arts.  She teaches flame working and glass with copper classes at the Banana Factory.  Her current interests include sculptural approaches that primarily utilize glass and copper.  She has also been working with copper in many of her glass crafts, such as; beads, pendants, vases, goblets and paperweights.  Recently was chosen for the Women in Glass of 2009 edition of Flow Magazine for flame working.

Make sure to stop by Sexploratorium to shop from our entire collections of featured ec0-aware merchandise with these special offers available to you every day from noon-10PM April 20-30. Free meter parking below Bainbridge on Sundays and throughout the district on Wednesdays after 5PM. Also free lock-able bicycle parking in front of both stores!

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If you cannot make it in to experience these special eco-sexy offerings in person, you can order the items linked above and receive free shipping plus any applicable in-store discounts by typing the code “eco-sexy” in the “comments” section of your order form.

And don’t forget about all the other fun stuff that can be purchased on the Sexploratorium site.