In 2000, Natacha Merritt became an instant girlpower sex icon with the release of her debut photo book,Digital Diaries. The book documented Merritt’s sexual history through intimate portraits of herself and her friends having sex. Think bondage, blow-jobs, self portraits of Merritt masturbating in the shower, and a peak into her involvement in San Francisco’s BDSM scene. Digital Diaries was the first book of entirely digital photography ever published, and went on to become a best seller. Next, Merritt proceeded to do what every rising photography star does after her first book: she went back to college to study science.
Now ten years later, after taking a time-out to become a biologist, Merritt is releasing her second book,Sexual Selection. The book contrasts the sexual intricacies of plants and insects with images of people (again, herself and her friends) having sex. The juxtaposition of the images is incredible; it makes you view the human body in a totally different light. Like, you know how when you’re having sex while you’re tripping, and you look down and see yours and your lover’s sex organs colliding and everything suddenly becomes a bit too real, and you’re like, “Wait… eww” but you’re also like, “Wow, the world is pretty amazing.”? Well Sexual Selection is kind of like that.
The book’s introduction is written by Richard Prince. According to Merritt, when she contacted Prince about writing the intro, his reaction to her work was, “Oh my god, I love it, I want to hang the book on my cock and walk around with it like an appendage!” The staff here at VICE had a similar response.
VICE: Was science something you were interested in while you were making Digital Diaries?
Natacha Merritt: It wasn’t. Digital Diaries happened because I just had a great sex life, and I wanted to document it. I was taking photos of strippers and dancers in the San Francisco S&M, slut-sex scenes, and having a great time, but there was nothing intellectual behind it. I was a wild child, like, “I just like to shoot sex and I don’t know why!” But now, having studied biology, I understand that sex is actually the most interesting thing we do as a species, so my photographs have more of a context. What turns me on now is more complicated, and often more twisted.
What was your involvement in the San Francisco S&M scene?
Mainly photography, and then within my relationship there was some cock and ball bondage and mild dominatrix stuff. So I wasn’t fully in the scene, per se, but I was definitely inspired by my environment.
Why did you decide to put your sex photography on hold to study biology?
Well, I found that over and over I was asking myself questions like, “Why does this turn me on?” and “What do I find fetish so interesting?”, and I found the answers in biology. I took my sexual investigation all the way down to the genetic level. And then it clicked: all of our fetishes and perversions are justifiable, and we’re not even close to as kinky as so many other species, and evolution is the ultimate art form!
D-3 Photo of the day. ‘Sexual Selection’ out 7th May: http://bit.ly/zpiv49
D-4 Photo of the day. ‘Sexual Selection’ out 7th May: http://bit.ly/zpiv49
D-6 Photo of the day. ‘Sexual Selection’ out 7th May: http://bit.ly/zpiv49
D-7 Photo of the day. ‘Sexual Selection’ out 7th May: http://bit.ly/zpiv49
Watch the official trailer for Natacha Merritt’s new book ‘Sexual Selection’ out 7th May 2012!
Pre-order the book at http://shop.bongout.org/p-1450-pre-order-sexual-selection-natacha-merritt.aspx
Head on now to the Bongout webstore to pre-order Sexual Selection, featuring an introduction by Richard Prince!