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From The Vault Of Art Shay: Sexy Masters And Johnson

By Art Shay in News on Sep 26, 2013 4:15PM

(Legendary Chicago-based photographer Art Shay has taken photos of kings, queens, celebrities and the common man in a 60-year career. This week, Art recalls his time covering the legendary "sexperts" William Masters and Virginia Johnson.)

We are imminently in pleasant danger of being invaded on TV this, er, coming Sunday by the orgasm snatchers. It's also the time of sudden rebirth for a much touted 2010 sex book Masters of Sex by a markedly good writer, Thomas Maier, fingered as literarily orgasmic by Hugh Hefner, Oprah's magazine, The Daily Beast, the sexy Economist, The Library Journal and Discover.

The book and attendant TV orgy—Masters of Sex is also the name of a new series on Showtime—tells the story of sexperts, Drs. William ("please call me Bill, Art") Masters and Virginia ("Hey, I'm Gini, and is this blouse OK, Arty?")Johnson. Very informal people just now to me, the man sent to their St. Louis sexquarters to put them on the cover of Time. Me. As Nabokov has said in his own sexy vineyard, "Let me pass out a few cards."

Bill Masters picked me up at the airport in his white Ford beater asking if I was happily married—I gathered he wasn't and would be marrying Gini shortly. When I averred I was ecstatically married, he asked if Florence was good in bed, as casually as asking if she knew how to cook spaghetti. I told him the truth—Florence was the best—and asked him about his wife and Gini.

He said, "We never did a trio; did you?" But I got the idea that he and Gini had, but not Billy boy and his unimaginative wife, married 29 years. Driving past the sex lab in which (mostly) unpaid volunteers toiled to produce orgasms with sexually troubled patients he said if Time wants you to shoot pictures in there, watch for the blush of red that comes over the breasts and upper bodies of the successfully orgasmic women. Alas, Time demurred on behalf of their readers. The damning phrase used by Time and Life editors was: "Nobody likes to see a picture or article with his (always “his”) breakfast showing a mouse being mutilated by a new kind of trap." Hardly enough time, as Hemingway observed ironically, after a short wild orgasmic stay in Greece, to learn much about the country.

I shot my cover then for a souvenir photo with the experts, posed for a hard orgasmic-case housewife, waiting for the bus to take her to be orgasmed at the clinic by a lucky volunteer. She used one of my cameras shyly. At first gingerly then joyously handling the short telephoto lens very well, I noticed.

Published with permission.

If you can't wait until this time every week to get your Art Shay fix, please check out the photographer's blog, which is updated regularly. Art Shay's book, Chicago's Nelson Algren, is also available at Amazon.