Today in Madonna History: October 21, 1992

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On October 21 1992, Madonna’s “Sex” book was released by Warner Books, Maverick and Callaway Books.

The 128-page coffee table book of erotica and sexual fantasies was written by Madonna, with photographs taken by Steven Meisel and film frames shot by Fabien Baron.  The book was edited by Glenn O’Brien.

The spiral-bound, metal-covered book was wrapped in a silver mylar bag and included a copy of the “Erotic” CD single (an exclusive version of the “Erotica” song).  The package also included an 8-page comic book and it was priced at $49.95 US.

How old were you when you first bought or read through Madonna’s “Sex” book?

Today in Madonna History: October 20, 1992

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On October 20 1992, Madonna’s fifth studio album, “Erotica” was released by Maverick Records.

Music critic Sal Cinquemani commented on the album’s impact:

By 1992, Madonna was an icon—untouchable, literally and figuratively—and Erotica was the first time the artist’s music took on a decidedly combative, even threatening tone, and most people didn’t want to hear it. Erotica’s irrefutable unsexiness probably says more about the sex=death mentality of the early ’90s than any other musical document of its time. This is not Madonna at her creative zenith. This is Madonna at her most important, at her most relevant. No one else in the mainstream at that time dared to talk about sex, love, and death with such frankness and fearlessness.

Today in Madonna History: October 15, 1992

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On October 15 1992, Madonna threw a “Sex” book pre-release party at New York City’s Industria Superstudio, and signed all the invitations under her alter ego”Dita”.

During the party, Madonna showed up dressed as Little Bo Peep and carried with her a stuffed toy lamb. 

Madonna’s publicist Liz Rosenberg showed concern at first worrying “what the parents of America’s impressionable teens will soon be thinking” but later said that it “all depends on your idea of lovemaking, which in Madonna’s case, should give new meaning to the word erotic.”

Both Waldenbooks and Barnes & Noble prepared corporate statements that their store managers could share with customers who were offended by “Sex. Both statements defended the right of bookstores to provide “diversity and choice” to customers and say censorship is not the role of bookstores.

Bookstore owner David Epstein stated that “The feeling of most people who have ordered the book is that Madonna is something special, that this is cutting-edge art, they’re not the kind of people who are buying it because it’s smut and dirty pictures. People are interested in it as art.”

Today in Madonna History: October 13, 1992

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On October 13 1992, the “Erotica” single was released. Originally credited to Madonna & Shep Pettibone, Pettibone’s partner Tony Shimkin was later granted co-writing credit for nearly all of the Pettibone collaborations on the album, including “Erotica.” The debut release to feature the imprint of the fledgling Maverick Records, the song was produced by Madonna & Pettibone.

As several leaked demo versions of the song can now attest, the track had gone through numerous incarnations before Madonna settled on lyrics that positioned her in the perspective of Dita – the alter-ego she had created for her Sex book. The song’s original chorus (“You thrill me…”) was reincorporated into the song when Madonna performed it during her 2006 Confessions Tour. Alternate verses were also used to create the track “Erotic,” which was included with the Sex book – these lyrics were also featured in a William Orbit remix that was included on the “Erotica” maxi-single.

French art director and photographer Fabien Baron designed the artwork for the single, the album and the Sex book. He also directed the “Erotica” music video, which included footage he had shot on Super 8mm during the making of the book. Baron recalled his first meeting with Madonna to discuss their potential collaboration in a 2009 interview with Hint Fashion Magazine:

“I met Madonna at her home on Central Park West to talk about working on her Sex book. It was very comfortable but very uncomfortable at the same time, which is a very interesting feeling. She’s very imposing and knows what she wants. She’s very informed and opinionated, which makes her genius. She takes you in and swallows you up — and you don’t mind it –  you actually enjoy it. There’s an unspoken seduction that goes on. I was young…she was young, too – and beautiful. That was an unforgettable era. She put that book out at the best moment. She timed it very well…she knows what she’s doing. And such drive. Some people want to lift stones to see what’s under them. She’ll be on a beach with millions of stones and want to lift every one of them.”