Posterior Posterity

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Succeeding Breasts, Big Penises and Legs, the fourth installment in Dian Hanson’s Big Book series covers, or rather uncovers, the female derrière. How legs preceded butts in a series of fetish books (which, unforgivably, is still missing feet) will forever puzzle me, but the delay paid off: The Big Butt Book is a fine tribute to the callipygian cult, with a wide coverage of ass fetish.

As with the rest of the series, the book starts with a look on the prestige of rumps throughout history and in different cultures, proceeding to interviews with celebrated enthusiasts like porn director John Stagliano, cartoonist Robert Crumb and filmmaker Tinto Brass. A breakdown by decade traces a panorama of buttocentric erotic photography since the 50s, featuring well-chosen angles of Josephine Baker, Bettie Page and Vanessa del Rio, with specific chapters dedicated to hip hop muses Coco and Buffie, spanking legend Eve Howard and recent Brazilian phenomenon Andressa Soares, the Watermelon Woman.

This is where your reviewer’s Brazilian background comes in handy: while the chapter on Soares covers her life and career quite exhaustively (not a big stretch – she rose to fame in 2006), it fails to mention the many fruit-themed dancers and models that followed her: the Strawberry Woman, the Melon Woman, the Apple Woman and the more exotic Jackfruit Woman. Considering it’s Brazil we’re talking about, you can imagine what these ladies have in common. Other legendary, less fruity Brazilian backside muses, like Rita Cadillac and Gretchen, are entirely absent, too.

This largely brilliant tome has a couple of faults. Many of the models named lack surnames, rendering the true connoisseur unable to investigate them further – what a disservice to their careers! And Alexis Texas, arguably the most celebrated butt in porn nowadays, doesn’t get a single line of comment, despite supplying the cover image. A bit of an oversight, considering that two hip hop models get their own chapters.

The Big Butt Book’s redeeming trait lies in its pictorial diversity: unlike The Big Book of Breasts, which only featured seriously oversized cups, this one runs the gamut, welcoming more modest tush like Pamela Anderson’s and Nina Hartley’s. This book’s variety serves the series well. It is, after all, a celebration of gluteal glory, not of the measuring tape.

The Big Butt Book by Dian Hanson; Taschen; ISBN 978-3836511155; £34.99 at www.taschen.com

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