It’s hard to believe, but once upon a time celebrities didn’t get famous by having their sex tapes stolen. But it was twenty years ago today that Madonna released her explicit photo book, Sex, and sparked a controversy the likes of which we just don’t see anymore.
The book, a companion piece to the album Erotica (which was released the day before), featured the Material Girl performing (or simulating) R- and X-rated sex acts—watersports, rimming, cunnilingus, etc.—with models, porn stars and celebrities including Isabella Rossellini, Naomi Campbell, Big Daddy Kane and Udo Kier.
While pop stars have ramped up the sex and kink factor since 1992, it’s been in a carefully packaged, corporate-approved way. (Think Rihanna’s bubble-gum hit “S&M”) Any one of them might flash a tit, but RiRi, Nicki Britney—and, yes, even Gaga—haven’t claimed ownership of their sexuality the way Madonna did with this controversial tome. Shot by Steven Meisel, Sex made Madge Public Enemy Number One among Christian conservatives and even more of a rebel icon among her gay fans.
Do you think it still hold up as boundary-pushing twenty years on?