THRILLVILLE: Will "the Thrill" Viharo's weird, wild world of Pulp Fiction, B Movies, & the Lounge Lizard Lifestyle.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sex & Monsters: the Erotic Fantasy Art of Boris Vallejo


Most people think about sex and death much more than they may care to admit, and it's perfectly natural, since at some point, we all experience them at least once. These contrasting themes of pleasure and pain - one that potentially perpetuates life, the other ostensibly ending it - are common in all forms of Art across the spectrum of our collective culture and history, ranging from the Bible, Ancient Greek and Roman Mythology, and Shakespeare, right up to my personal favorite exponents of exploitation, B Movies and Pulp Fiction. It does seem odd that so many citizens in our schizoid society fear sex even more than death. Personally, I prefer the former, though the hint of violence and danger does often ironically increase the intensity of sexual desire. 

When I was growing up in the 1970s, I was captivated by the (reprint) paperback covers painted by the likes of Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo, mostly for the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Lester Dent, and Robert E. Howard, but also a variety of science fiction and fantasy books, lending the contents a suggestive sense of sophisticated sensuality that perhaps wasn't originally envisioned or intended by the authors, but certainly augmented their success in both conservatie or liberal eras, since sex always sells any product. These provocative  covers literally seduced the reader, fueling my young fevered imagination with dark, disturbing imagery of forbidden passions laced with bestiality and monstrous mating. Much later, I would infuse my own fiction with these elements, most radically in my recent novels A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge and Freaks That Carry Your Luggage Up to the Room, which freely and fiercely combine horrendous horror and extreme eroticism, but in a dreamy, often nightmarish context of surreal sensuality. 

Much of my inspiration comes from these early impressions. In this blog, I'm paying visual tribute specifically to Boris Vallejo, with a gallery of images culled from a long out-of-print book given to me by a girlfriend in the early 1980s. Mister Vallejo is still alive and working, along with his beautiful wife Julie Bell, and they offer many iconic prints for sale directly from their website.  He has rightfully enjoyed a long, lucrative career as a commercial artist, working in many fields, including movie posters, which are all equally impressive and bear his uniquely sensuous, rawly realistic stamp. The images below have stuck in my mind for years - decades in fact - and if they inspire you the way they inspired me, that means we have something in common, and I'm happy to share them with you. It also probably means you'd enjoy my own work, too. Here's to Sex, and the artists who make it so beautiful, mysterious, alluring, and haunting. Cheers.