|Title: Burning Angel
Author: Joanna Angel, photography by Brenda Staudenmaier
Genres:: Straight Photography, Memoir
Reviewer: R.W. Hulme
Joanna Angel, photography by Brenda Staudenmaier
Reviewer: R.W. Hulme
In 2002, a skinny Jewish girl living in Brooklyn started a website called ‘Burning Angel’ – dedicated to ‘alternative’ icons of feminine beauty. "I think it's a movement,” she professed, as the website snowballed in popularity and reputation. “I think I've started something."
Burning Angel the book, published by Goliath, is an anthology of BurningAngel.com’s first six years; crammed from cover to cover with gorgeous photos of tattooed, pierced, dyed and dynamic models who are about as far away from the typical bottle-blond porn star as it’s possible to get.
Joanna Angel, that same skinny Jewish girl who dreamed up the concept, explains the attraction of the girls she picks for Burning Angel in a short, but sweet introduction:
“We look for that irresistible spark of attitude and self-expression. This is the core of a Burning Angel model.”
Burning Angel is a treasure trove of classy soft-core shots featuring dozens of Burning Angel’s most popular models; all shot against the edgy, dystopian backdrop of Brooklyn and Manhattan. It’s a wonderful collection; featuring shots that are fun, freaky, cheeky or sullen – but never alike.
And despite featuring explicit nudity, there’s something very classy about this book. It’s not so much erotic as aesthetic; a coffee table tome for the extremely open-minded. Just as the models themselves are as far removed from the cookie-cutter stars of the San Fernando Valley, this is a book that’s going to appeal to the kind of people who just don’t get off on generic, dick-in-pussy, mass-produced pornography.
At almost fifty bucks, though, I suspect this is a book for dedicated Burning Angel fans only. It’s nicely put together, with beautiful printing and a gorgeous hard-cover, but there’s something deeply impersonal about it. Joanna’s introduction is short and concise, reprinted rather coldly into five languages and clearly intended for an audience that want to flick through the pretty pictures rather than ‘get’ the concept of what Burning Angel is all about.
In any event, it’s a real treat for fans of Burning Angel or advocates of Joanna Angel herself. For me, the real appeal, however, is just what kind of statement it makes about contemporary erotica.
Just like centerfolds from the 50s and 60s are peered at with almost anthropological interest these days, Burning Angel is ultimately an edgy snapshot of post-millennial pornography that’s going to be a real collector’s piece a few decades down the line.
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