“State your fancy…” reads the subtext of a 1977 Royal College of the Arts punk promo poster for band Adam and the Ants.
“Breasts, bottoms, rubber, squatting, stockings, suspenders, domination”, it continues as these visceral imaginings of sex linger above a sketch of a domme spanking a ‘naughty boy’. Here the marriage between punk and sex beams so boldly, it illuminates the intextricable link between the provocation of subversive sex, and the revolutionary essence of punk.
This exact spirit lives on in the Museum of Sex’s current show Punk Lust: Raw Provocation 1971-1985, running until 30 November in New York. Featuring over 300 pieces of lustful punk ephemera from across the decades and the globe including posters from the Sex Pistols and costumes from the estate of Malcolm Mclaren (to name a few), the show is a powerful assertion of the liberating power of sexual subversity. Divided into four sections, Punk Lust demonstrates how the auditory and visual language of sex was used by early 1970s-80s punks to defy gender constructs, class boundaries, musical restrictions, and societal codes of dress and aesthetics.
To get an insider insight into the exhibition, read an interview below with its two curators Lissa Rivera and Serge Becker.
Firstly, how did punks harness the language of sex for their cause?
Lissa Rivera & Serge Becker: Punks appropriated pornography and fetish imagery and language to express their rebellious stance. Malcolm McLaren harnessed this energy—orchestrating a campaign of provocation starting with the Sex Pistols and his Sex clothing store, amplifying the message of rebellion into a worldwide phenomenon