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Home / Art, Culture, Literature / Interviews / Spreading Sugar: Vancouver based artist/ pornographer Robin Bougie talks Graphic Thrills, Cinema Sewer and the lost art of XXX posters.

Spreading Sugar: Vancouver based artist/ pornographer Robin Bougie talks Graphic Thrills, Cinema Sewer and the lost art of XXX posters.

graphic thrills vol 2Diabolique Magazine were lucky enough to catch up with the Vancouver based artist, journalist, pornographer, Robin Bougie, recently to ask him all about his latest book project, Graphic Thrills Volume 2 American XXX Movie Posters 1970 To 1985 (out now via FAB Press), Cinema Sewer and his love for vintage XXX poster art. Here is what he had to tell us…

 

Diabolique: Before we get on to your latest book, Graphic Thrills, you have another edition of your magazine Cinema Sewer in the works, when is that going to be arriving?

Robin: It’s going to the printer today,  it will probably be coming back in a week or so, but yes it’s leaving my hands today which feels pretty exciting.

 

Diabolique:What sort of content can we expect in this issue?

Robin: It’s a bit of a mixed bag, as they always are. I don’t do too many themed  issues, but it’s got my diary from Fantasia film festival back in July 2015. That happens in Montreal, I took a flight there and took in a whole bunch of movies over a series of days, so I am excited to be featuring that.  This is the first edition I’ve made in the new studio space I got back in November. I’ve been drawing and writing Cinema Sewer on two desks in my apartment for the last 20 years, it’s neat to be creating in the new space, which weirdly changes things slightly, because your space is an important part of the creative process.

 

Diabolique: Let’s talk about Graphic Thrills then, this is Volume 2 isn’t it?

Robin: Yes, it’s Volume 2 of the Graphic Thrills series, which is out in both hard and soft cover. It’s a fancy book all about the history of American adult movie poster art. Each book has a big intro in which I cover the entire history of the form; then with each page having full reproduction of an adult vintage adult movie poster. There is a  lot of writing on the creation of each  poster, or if I don’t have information on that process then I review the movie.

 

Diabolique: Did you restore the posters yourself?

Robin: Yeah I did most of them. I used to work as a photo retoucher, so I was actually trained to restore photos. I’ve never actually had anything to use that skill for after I left that job. What I used to do was restore graduation photos; clean off acne from wedding and graduation photos. So this is a little different.

 

Diabolique: And what would that process involve?

Robin: The way I was originally trained was to use giant magnifying equipment and a brush with six hairs on it. You were working in super miniature. Then as the years went on Photoshop came in and they trained me with that. So now it’s all done in Photoshop. And what you trying to do is restore the art to how it originally looked but without altering it in any way.

 

blue-magic-movie-poster-1981-1020214078Diabolique: Have you got a personal favorite in the book?

Robin: There’s a bunch of them I really like.  Oh man, it’s like choosing your favorite child!  [laughs]

I can tell you one I like a lot, the Blue Magic one (page 109). That was painted by an artist named Tom Tierney and the little interview I did with him ended up being the last one he gave. It’s quite sad, but he died not long after I contacted him. And to the best of my knowledge I was actually the only person to interview him about his work on poster art. He was actually much more famous for doing paper doll books. His poster for Blue Magic (1981) has a really unique look to it, that’s what I love about it.

 

Diabolique: So where does your obsession with vintage posters come from?

Robin: I think being an artist myself, and I also love the art of advertising; especially vintage art. Back when when it was much more common for everything to be painted, and there were less photos. I’m fascinated by the way it can be used in terms of selling things. When it comes to the genre of adult films that is also something I’m really interested in as well. So those two things go hand in hand for me

 

Diabolique: What is your first memory of coming into contact with the world of adult film?  On an episode of your Cinema Sewer podcast you were talking about when you were a kid you would sneak out and go on on these wild city adventures, exploring the red light district at night, was this where it all started?

Robin: [Laughs] That was earlier, I think before I’d seen any adult films. I think I’d seen some porn magazines at that point, but not films, not when I was sneaking out to go and try and hang out with prostitutes in the middle of the night [laughs]. What brought that on was, I loved  Miami Vice, a lot, that was like my favourite thing. So I would  imagine I was Crockett or Tubbs when I went on these adventures, they were always hanging out with prostitutes. I was fascinated with that adult world. I thought if I could somehow make myself part of it, then I could understand it better.

 

Diabolique: So do you remember the first adult poster art that made an impression on you?

Robin: It was maybe for Pretty Peaches (1978), There’s a really great painting Desiree Cousteau, and it used to be on the VHS cover as well. I remember seeing that when I was quite young. She’s got that bob haircut, actually it’s like a bowl cut that isn’t really a popular look anymore, but I remember I was really into that look, girls with short hair, so I would look at that and say “wow”.

 

Diabolique: What came first, the art or the smut?

Robin: The art first. I was a real comic book guy. I loved drawing comics when I was younger. However, then it was all about superhero comics. As I got into my early teens, I started to become really fascinated with the world of self publishing; indie Comics, alternative Comics, just the whole concept of creating a character, taking it to the copy shop, photocopying it and being your own distributor, making your own comic book shop, doing every single element of the job yourself. So that was my basis for starting Cinema Sewer Magazine. That was really where the whole idea of molding the comic and film journalism together came from, and then Graphic Thrills just grew out of that.

 

Diabolique: You have been doing Cinema Sewer a long time now haven’t you?

Robin: This year is the 19th anniversary

 

Diabolique: You keep going, like a one man band, do you find it a struggle having to compete with the internet to stay in print, or do you find that it helps you?

Robin: It’s a double edged sword. The Internet killed off all of the retail stores that used to make Cinema Sewer successful. Now the Internet is the only thing that keeps Cinema Sewer alive. So you either let it kill you or you let it work for you. I just let it work for me.

 

Diabolique: Talking of the Internet I’m going to have to ask this; how many times have you been banned from Facebook for posting your art now?

Robin: I think it’s about five times now and I’ve had a few warnings over the most ridiculous things as well. The problem is once you have been caught a couple of times they will start throwing the book at you over every little thing, the tiniest infraction. If you have seen my drawings you will know I can draw in a cartoony style and I can draw in a more realistic style. However, even when I draw in a realistic style, it’s just lines and dots. So the idea of banning me for my drawing of a nipple is hilarious to me. It’s literally like a little circle, a little O [laughs].

 

Diabolique: So would you consider yourself a pornographer?

Robin: Oh absolutely.

 

Diabolique: You say that so proudly

Robin: Yeah, I know. I’m proud to be a pornographer.

 

Diabolique: A very polite pornographer.

Robin: [Laughs]

 

Diabolique: So if “the powers that be” on social media deem your art “offensive” do you find you have a hard time marketing it through that platform?

Robin: Totally, although I try and censor them as much as I can, but I can’t keep them happy all the time.

 

sugarspreadcover_originalDiabolique: Talking of “offensive” art, can we talk about your coloring book?

Robin: Yes, I’ve got a new coloring book that just came out called Sugar Spread. It has about 40 pages inside, with a series of my illustrations to color. When I started putting it together I put a lot of thought into the idea of what would be fun to sit down and color, and brought that idea to my style of pornography [laughs].

 

Diabolique: Colorable pornography, that’s got to be first, right?

Robin: Actually, there’s a thing called The Cunt Coloring Book from the early seventies but mine is one of the first in the new wave of adult coloring books. There’s been a real resurgence in adult coloring books over the last year or so.We’re having a little launch party for it in a few days in downtown Vancouver. I’m actually going to have a coloring contest, we have a whole bunch of tables set up, the first prize is going to be a piece of original art.

 

Diabolique: Let’s talk some more about Graphic Thrills then; do they go by year?

Robin: They both cover 1970 to 1985. There’s so much from that time that I could easily do just four books of that period. So each book is chronological but they both cover that same period of time.

 

Diabolique: How did you source the posters? Are they from your personal collection?

Robin: It was  several different things really. From my personal collection, from Harvey Fenton—  the publisher at FAB Press—  his personal collection. Then he’s also got sources from around the world, with various poster collectors. It  was him saying to me “what’s your wish list? What’s your ultimate want list?” I would go back and say,  “I want this, this, this, this, and he would go, “I’ll be right back”. Then a week later, once he checked his network of collectors, he would come back and say “this is what I’ve got”.

 

Diabolique: Talking of FAB Press, are they doing any more Cinema Sewer books?

Robin: Yes,  I’m working on Volume 6 right. That should be coming out in 2017.

 

Diabolique: Will that be new content, separate to the zine?

It’s both. Each book is around  200 pages. About 120 will be the best of the magazine,  then about 80 pages of brand new material that’s never been seen before.

 

Diabolique: Tell me a little bit about the other artists  you have worked with on your book projects…

Robin: I have an artist named Ben Newman. He’s really fun to work with, he’s from the  UK. I’m really fond of his work. He has been  doing illustrations for the last few issues (of Cinema Sewer). I love his artwork a lot . He also did the cover art for both Graphic Thrills books. He’s really talented. I found his work online. He was doing these really sexy illustrations. He does a lot of smutty stuff, so I was really drawn to him.

I’d also love  to mention Vince Ruarus who does the covers for the Cinema Sewer collector’s books (from FAB). He’s from Holland. I just love his work. I’ve been lucky enough to get him to do all the covers for the first five Cinema Sewer books.

 

Diabolique: Back to the subject of poster art, these days it’s a bit of a dying art form, how does that make you feel as an artist?

Robin: It makes me a little bit depressed when I think about the state of the poster art these days. I’m not particularly fond of a lot of modern movie posters. I think a lot of the artistry involved has gone away. So it’s a bit depressing for me. When you look at the way in which movies are marketed these days, or DVDs or Blu-rays too, ( for many of them) it’s just garbage. It looks like somebody made the covers on Photoshop in five minutes on a laptop or something. And they probably did.

It’s kind of funny because a lot of modern horror movies use the same copyright free art for their posters. I saw on a thread on Facebook recently, which I found funny, somebody had copied examples of the image of the same girl that had been used on all these different things (she is crawling on the ground on her belly). People were  sending in various book covers, DVD covers, album covers, that were using this exact same image of this same girl. Why would you use the same photo?  You are just going to be one of dozens. Why wouldn’t you want to have an original piece of art on your cover?

But yeah, it’s just a different world. I’m not one of those people who is afraid of change. I’m OK with change, but at the same time I’m not immune to critiquing it either.

 

Diabolique: Back in the day, you could get the most awful film, but it would have the most amazing poster art to lure you in. Did you find that was the case for any of the films you researched as part of putting Graphic Thrills together?

I watched pretty much every movie in the Graphic Thrills books, although some of the films are lost, but yeah, in a lot of cases some of them are completely unwatchable, I mean really bad, but they have these beautiful posters. Someone must have spent like a week designing them, or  however long it took them, and there has been a lot of love and care and work put into them. In some cases maybe the poster took longer to make than the film!

If you want to know more about Robin and his work you can check out his Journal here. For more information on where to buy Cinema Sewer and Graphic Thriller, check out FAB Press here, and the official Cinema Sewer website here. 

 

About Kat Ellinger

Kat Ellinger is the Editor-in-Chief of Diabolique Magazine, and the co-host of their Daughters of Darkness podcast. Her writing has appeared in the pages of Fangoria, Scream Magazine (UK) and Gothic culture magazine Carpe Nocturne. She has recently worked a number of liner notes for cult home video label Arrow Films, as well as appearing on camera for them, written for Senses of Cinema and is currently working on a book on Daughters of Darkness (1971) for the Devil's Advocates Series (Auteur).

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