Erotica for the blind

A Canadian photographer's 3-D book is the latest contribution to the rise of special needs porn

Published April 13, 2010 3:55PM (EDT)

Tactile books are a common feature in the children's department. See, you can pet the fuzzy duck! Oh, the turtle's shell is bumpy! Don't look now, but here comes a scratchy-pelted cow! You get (and feel!) the picture. They're less common in the adult section—until now. Canadian artist and Braille expert Lisa J. Murphy is applying those technologies to a more adult end, using upraised thermoformic imaging to make upraised pictures of nude figures to create "Tactile Minds," (Not really SFW) what she claims is the first ever nudie book designed for the blind.

Though Playboy printed copies in Braille from 1970 and 1985, Murphy takes is a step further, including 17 softcore 3-D images along with the racy text, including a muscular-chested man with pierced nipples and naked women in a disco pose, wearing only a cardboard mask and a belt of paper stars. (All of the figures in the book, interestingly, wear masks or have their faces obscured.) One description reads thusly: "A tactile picture of a naked man dressed as a bunny rabbit. He wears a paper bag mask, maxi pads across his chest, and a toilet paper roll with cotton balls around his penis. Paper hearts decorate the background."

The books aren't exactly flying off the shelves, but that's probably in part due to the steep price: Each one is handmade, and retails at $225 Canadian. Murphy, who learned how to make tactile graphics by creating those same touchable images of animals for children, considers herself a bit of a pioneer: "We're breaking new ground," she told the Toronto Star, saying that she created the book after noticing that the "blind have been left out in a culture saturated with sexual images"

Murphy's certainly making a contribution, but she's far from the first to recognize that those with special needs have, well, needs. The website Porn for the Blind (NSFW) offers free transcriptions of adult videos in mp3 form, narrated by volunteers. (These often are, unfortunately, hilariously unsexy.) And in 2008, Deaf Bunny, (again, really, NSFW) a porn company for deaf people by deaf people, was launched, incorporating American Sign Language and subtitiles into hardcore flicks like "Naughty Deaf Roommates." Of course, thanks to the wilds of the internet, there's a growing market for porn of every stripe and fetish imaginable. The ever-expanding democracy of porn is a place where all kinds are admitted, if not treated equally. "Tactile Minds" is just one small step for porn, but perhaps it's a giant leap for the blind.


By Margaret Eby

Margaret Eby has written for the New York Times, The New Yorker, Salon and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she now lives in New York City.

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