This magazine is responsible for the landmark case that ended with it’s publisher, Ralph Ginzburg in jail and helping the Supreme Court defining obscenity.
Eros magazine was first published on Valentine’s Day of 1962 by Ralph Ginzberg. A lavishly produced quarterly bound in hard covers, only 4 issues of Eros were produced. Ginzberg had initially promoted the magazine by sending three million direct mail circulars. In response to this, Ginzberg received approximately 10,000 unsolicited letters expressing opinions both pro and con with regard to the proposed magazine. In addition, the Postmaster General received 25,000 letters of complaint from citizens who had received the mailer. Soon thereafter (with a 5th issue of Eros in production), Ginzberg was served with an indictment accusing him “sending obscene matter through the mails” in violation of the Comstock Act of 1873. The indictment was based on a book published by an affiliate of Eros magazine though Ginzberg believed it was an indirect attempt to hamper the production of his magazine.
In December of 1963, Ginzberg was sentenced to serve 5 years for sending “obscene” literature through the mail. The trial and subsequent appeals dragged on for another 10 years. On February 17th of 1972, Ginzberg began serving a five-year sentence at the Lewisburg Penitentiary in Pennsylvania. He was paroled eight months later.
Vol. 1 No. 1 includes a “A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue”, beautiful prints of ribald playing cards depicting imagined scenes from Renaissance Florence, Madam Teller’s Brothel illustrated by Edgar Degas, and an absolutely gorgeous photographic essay by Garry Winogrand called “Love in the Subway”.
Vol. 1 No. 2 examines the charismatic and sexual allure of President John F. Kennedy (‘We all love Jack’), an American history of the Contraceptive industry, a postscript to the Lady Chatterley Trial, the sex lives of Native Americans, and a photo-essay on prostitutes on the Rue Saint Denis. Most amusing perhaps, the replies sent back to the editors in response to their invitation to take out a subscription to the magazine. Whilst they stress that overall reaction was favorable, the responses of the detractors make for hilarious reading, and they are reproduced in facsimile.
Vol. 1 No. 3 features Bert Sterns famous photographs of Marilyn Monroe, taken 6 weeks prior to her death. Taken in an improvised studio, in a room in the Bel Air Hotel; Marilyn Monroe created these beautiful revealing photographs as she listened to her favorite Sinatra recordings. 15 full page photographs in black and white, and color. Transparent orange crosses (and even scratches) made by Marilyn, on photos (contact sheets) where a hair was out of place, or she thought the pose was awkward. Quotes by famous people, “She could have made it with a little luck,” Arthur Miller. End papers double page close up portraits of Marilyn’s face, in black and white. Also in this issue, 8 pages of black and white (nudes) French Postcards from 1900, a short story from Ray Bradbury, an extract from Fanny Hill, an article on Sam Roth, and Aphrodisiac Recipes.
Vol. 1 No. 4 includes “Love in the Bible” and features a photographic article on The Jewel Box Review, a female impersonation show; a letter to Eros from poet, Allen Ginsberg; an article about Frank Harris, author of My Life and Loves; Memoirs of a Male Chaperone, by John Sack, illustrated by Milton Glaser; The Long After Midnight Girl by Ray Bradbury.