5 Recommendations for Life: Freedom of Expression Edition!

By Karley Sciortino /

A couple weeks ago, I took over Purple magazine’s PURPLE TV, with a week of videos on censorship and freedom of expression, curated by me. In case you missed it, I’ve condensed it to my 5 favorite highlights, now watchable below, including an extract of an early Russ Meyer skin flick that helped change the censorship laws in Hollywood, to the activism of early Playboy, to John Waters just being his progressive self… and more!

Censorship has been a hot topic in the media recently—the continuing battle against government censorship of the internet, and the recent UK porn ban are two topics currently under heavy discussion. Sure, we’ve come a quite a way since the time of book burnings, and whitewashing pieces of history from children’s textbooks. We congratulate ourselves for our freedom to speak. And yet on a daily basis we are consuming and sharing information through the heavily patrolled, omnipresent censor-world of social media. Below, I’ve selected five videos that look back at censorship throughout the decades, and the pioneers who helped fight for out freedom of expression. Watch and learn!

1) John Waters on Free Speech and Censorship

This is a speech given by JOHN WATERS—the iconic filmmaker, and one of my heroes—about free speech and censorship. As always, Waters is insightful and so funny, discussing everything from porn, to rap lyrics, to RICHARD PRINCE.

2) Immoral Tales (extract)

WALERIAN BOROWCZYK‘s Immoral Tales (1974) is a series of four erotic short films, strung together into a feature, that tell somewhat bizarre tales of incest, lust, jealousy, masturbation, loss of virginity and bloodlust. Borowczyk made the film as a reaction to censorship laws becoming more lax. This is one of those four shorts, that involves an art-orgy, of sorts. lol.

3) Huge Hefner Interview – Playboy, Activist and Rebel

Today, a lot of people think of HUGH HEFNER as a creepy old man in silk pajamas. What we forget is that Hefner was a major social pioneer of 20th century, as well as a campaigner for freedom of censorship, human rights and abortion rights. This 5 minute news interview is a brief history of the social sexual and values of early Playboy, and even shows Hefner’s romantic side.

4) The Immoral Mr. Teas, by Russ Meyer (Extract) 

Directed by the king of sexploitation films, RUSS MEYER, The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959) is about a man who sells dentistry appliances, who sees hot naked women wherever he goes—though only in his imagination. It was the first American movie to show female nudity outside the context of naturalism (i.e. a nudist colony), and is considered to be the first commercially viable American “skin flick.” Its success helped pave the way for more lax censorship rules in Hollywood, which at that point were still enforcing the production code (a code enforced in Hollywood that was intended to uphold “moral standards,” but was essentially just used to censor filmmakers). This film played a big part in liberating Hollywood, and the emergence of more risqué adult cinema from then on.

5) Interview with Margaret Sanger, Pioneer of the Birth Control Movement

MARGARET SANGER was the lead crusader of the birth control movement in America, and is literally the baddest bitch who ever lives. She devoted her life to this fight, and went to jail 8 different times for her efforts. She opened the first control clinic in the United States in 1916 (for which she was quickly jailed), but the organizations she eventually established evolved into Planned Parenthood. Throughout her life, she continually fought censorship in the name of social freedom. This is a 25 minute interview with her from 1957.

Art, Periods and Censorship on Social Media

By Karley Sciortino / above artwork by Richard Prince /

Over the past week, people have been sounding off about how Instagram censored the below photo of a fully clothed woman on her period. Dark times, huh? The photo is from a series of artworks by the Toronto-based poet and artist, Rupi Kaur. In her original artist statement, Kaur said the objective of the work was to demystify and destigmatize the female body — to make viewers “realize these are just regular, normal processes,” nothing to reject or shame. Well, sorry–Instagram disagrees with you! Your period is gross; remove this unsexy image at once. Continue reading “Art, Periods and Censorship on Social Media”

Pulp Fiction

Richard Prince and the Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society, reading copies of The Catcher in the Rye, By Richard Prince

Last week I hung out at Richard Prince’s private bookstore, Fulton Ryder. The store’s shelves are full of Prince’s amazing collection of old pulp novels, and the walls are covered in original pulp cover art. The books tend to favor themes of drugs and sinful lesbian affairs–two of my favorite things, especially when combined—and have catchy names like LSD Lusters, Gay Interlude, and Pussies and Pot.

Sexy drug stuff:

Also casually hanging at Fulton Ryder was the Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society, obviously. TPF are a group of girls who hang around with their boobs out reading pulp fiction, as I suppose their name makes pretty clear. Their motto is “making reading sexy,” although I might amend that to “making reading sexier,” as we all know reading is the sexiest extracurricular activity (way sexier than football, which is actually quite violent/scary). As John Waters said, “We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them!”

The girls spent the afternoon sexily reading selections from Prince’s pulp collection, and eating cupcakes. The group generally do their topless reading in public, mainly in parks, as a way of taking advantage of the (rarely exercised) right of women to go topless in New York. This isn’t the case everywhere in the USA—remember the Open Carry Topless girl? She’s the girl who protested New Hampshire’s open carry law by walking around topless with a pistol strapped to her waist. In NH it’s legal to casually walk the streets with a loaded gun in your hand, but illegal to show some nipple. (#America) Thank god for NYC, where we are free to bralessly read romance novels wherever we please.

Anywayz, I really enjoyed hanging out with the TPF because they’re all really sweet, and also because it was just cool to be the most-clothed person in a room for once.

Prince surrounded by topless babes reading copies of his appropriated novel, The Catcher in the Rye, by Richard Prince:

Pulp babes posing in Prince’s studio, next to some art-in-progress: