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Related Categories: U.S. | Arts + Action | LGBTI / Queer
Sex, Art & Politics Takes on John Ashcroft
by Susan Wright, Spokesperson, NCSF
Monday Aug 30th, 2004 5:59 PM
Mark I. Chester and Dr. Carol Queen's Center for Sex and Culture announce a series of events in September on radical sex photography and artistic freedom featuring New York City photographer Barbara Nitke to coincide with the Folsom Street Fair.
Nitke will visit San Francisco for a whirlwind tour including an exhibition of her work, slide show talks at various local groups and organizations, book signings and benefits to raise funds for the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom ( lawsuit challenging John Ashcroft and the Communications Decency Act ("CDA"), in which she is a co-plaintiff. While sections of the CDA were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1997, the court left other provisions that allow local community standards to be used to define obscenity on the internet, thereby removing its First Amendment protections.

"By allowing the most restrictive jurisdiction to define what speech can be banned from the internet as obscene, the CDA allows one community to limit what the entire nation is allowed to discuss, to read or to view," says John Wirenius, the attorney for the lawsuit. "The First Amendment does not allow any one locality to impose its morality on the nation." Additional info on the lawsuit can be found at

Freedom of sexual and artistic expression is at the core of Barbara Nitke's work, which has explored issues of sexual relationship and desire through photography since 1982. Hailed by The Village Voice for her quest "to find humanity in marginal sex," Nitke has gained worldwide attention for her affecting and powerful photographs chronicling relationships between consenting adults engaged in sadomasochistic activities. Her new book of fine art photographs, Kiss of Fire (Kehrer Verlag 2003), celebrates a romantic view of sadomasochism.

"My goal has always been to capture not just the deep intimacy and trust between lovers, but also the intense energy and passion of SM practices," says Nitke. "Everyone I've photographed has taught me something new about the nature of sexual desire, humanity, and the fact that no matter how we're wired to express love, freedom is having the courage to be who we are."

President of the prestigious Camera Club of New York, Barbara Nitke is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts in New York. Nitke's photographs have been shown in one-person and group shows around the world. For additional information, publishable press photos, books for review and requests for interviews contact Mark I. Chester, 415-621-6294. Or contact Barbara Nitke directly at barbara [at]

Calendar of September events with Barbara Nitke

Sat. Sept. 18th - 7pm-midnight - opening party for a joint exhibition of Barbara Nitke's black and white loving SM photographs ( and the color digital photographs of bondage ecstasy and sculpture by photographer Michael Blue and bondage rigger Midori ( at the Mark I. Chester studio, 1229 Folsom St. 415-621-6294 ( The artists will attend and Barbara's new hard cover book, Kiss of Fire, a romantic view of sadomasochism, ($40) will be available. A bondage performance by Fetish Diva Midori and other entertainment. Suggested donation $5-10+. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Sun Sept. 19th - 2pm-4pm - Nitke will present a slide show talk for the Society of Janus, San Francisco's oldest pansexual educational and social SM group ( at the SF Citadel, 245 8th St. ( on her life in photography, her sexual and SM photographs and the NCSF (National Coalition for Sexual Freedom) lawsuit challenging John Ashcroft and the Communications Decency Act. Open to anyone 18 years and older with a sincere, positive interest in BDSM. Doors open at 1pm. $15 for the general public. $5 for Janus members and reciprocal organizations. The Nitke/Blue-Midori exhibition at the Mark I. Chester studio can be viewed by attendees from 4-5 pm at 1229 Folsom St, which is very close to the SF Citadel.

Sun Sept. 19th - 7pm-10pm - house party sponsored by Mark I. Chester & Dr. Carol Queen at the Mark I. Chester studio at 1229 Folsom St.. 100% of proceeds will benefit the lawsuit. Call 415-621-6294 for an invitation. Nitke and other special guests

Tues, Sept. 21st - 8pm-10pm - Nitke will do a slide show talk and book signing for her new book of loving SM photographs, Kiss of Fire, and talk about the lawsuit at Good Vibrations (, 603 Valencia St. at 17th St. 522-5460. FREE

Wed, Sept. 22nd - 7-10pm - Celebrating Radical Sex Photography - in words and images - a community benefit co-sponsored by Mark I. Chester and Dr. Carol Queen's non-profit Center for Sex and Culture ( 100% of the profits will go to support the lawsuit. A slide show panel discussion with keynote speaker Nitke, featured photographers Mark I. Chester, Michael Blue/Midori, Charles Gatewood, Fakir Musafar and Phyllis Christopher and other emerging photographers. At the SF Citadel, 245 8th St. Open to the adult public. Suggested donation $10-$20+. No one turned away for lack of funds.

Sat/Sun, Sept. 25th/26th - 11am-6pm - open viewing of the exhibition of Barbara Nitke's loving SM photographs and Michael Blue/Midori's photographs of bondage sculpture and ecstasy at the Mark I. Chester studio, 1229 Folsom St. 415-621-6294. Sun. 9/26, the show will be open during the Folsom St. Fair. Mark I. Chester will also be doing digital pix in his studio.
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