Gamblin’ bar room nudes – is the title of a triptych by Alan Dedman based on miniature, pornographic playing cards which fell from the roof space above his studio. The building had previously been used as a bicycle repair shop; upstairs served as a respite area or den for the proprietors/mechanics.

colour pic of gamblin bar room nudes by alan dedman, showing tryptich of paintings
Gamblin’ bar room nudes by Alan Dedman

The title is derived from a song by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (SAHB) from Glasgow, ‘Gamblin’ bar room blues’ which celebrates extreme drunkenness. Like the playing cards upon which these artworks are based, the SAHB represented high 70s attitude. Pippa Perry (partner of Grayson Perry) turned a tv series about the decade, into a feminist soap-box (yawn). Anyone who lived through the 70s knows there was more to it than sexism, in both directions.

Our neighbour once had me ‘help her into her bra’ when I was nine (everyone knows a woman in her mid-thirties needs assistance with that sort of thing, especially from a young boy). Sometimes we skived off lessons at school. On one occasion I passed out in a garden shed, due to an excess of ‘Clan Dew’. Luckily, one of my friends came to look for me and swotted away a girl who tried to have sex with me (without my consent) while I was unconscious. Flip the genders in both instances and what’ve you got? A bleedin’ crime scene!

The Sensational Alex Harvey Band

70s culture was dubious and simultaneously innocent. People were unaware of what was going on much of the time. The playing cards which fell on me were straight from that era, showing a series of game ladies in states of wanton nudity. They remind me of my own ‘development’.

My first encounter with porn was when a girlfriend gave me a copy of Playboy in the hope it would lead to something else (was this an act of sexual aggression !!? was she corrupting me?) Before I could look at it, my mag was confiscated by my mother. Little did I know, seven years later I would be minding strippers and hookers in Soho. School mates would acquire pornography. I used to observe one of my friends tossing himself off in his wank-den. After which he boiled his spunk in a teaspoon over a candle while smoking Embassy King Size – as you do when you are twelve years of age!

Embassy King Size beer mat for Gamblin' bar room nudes by Alan Dedman
Embassy – the best in smoking

The pastiches I’ve made are in oils on board, A4 size. The presentation of ‘Gamblin’ bar room nudes’ in my show at the Wayward Gallery makes the work appear larger than life. I reproduced their beaten up feel, using a photo-realist style of painting with three lively ladies, playing to the camera. No doubt these statements objectify women, but bear in mind for every porn shoot there are always willing participants. Perhaps ‘objectification’ is something which occurs around male ways of looking and perceiving. It comes as no surprise that only a couple of my previous girlfriends made their own porn imagery, which I consider to be creative and liberated of them.

An art school colleague of mine used to swear by porn for a healthy male life-style. Once he’d wanked himself inside-out, he had no compunction to molest someone AND it is good for prostate health – but who gives a toss about that eh? (no pun intended) One thing overlooked by constant media prattle about men and women is the fact male sexual function is dependent on orgasm whereas female sexual function isn’t. Imagine a World where women have to orgasm in order to menstruate.   

four of hearts porn pastiche by alan dedman
Four of Hearts

Porn becomes a contentious issue when it is deemed ‘harmful to society’. But who is making such judgements?  Men can determine for themselves what they find erotic or attractive about their opposite sex. The challenge today is for heterosexual males to form meaningful relationships with heterosexual females, beyond Platonic ideals and the corrosive effects of heterophobia.

The Incel movement is not a good thing; internet porn is wildly in excess of what anyone imagined to be possible. The printed material which inspired ‘Gamblin’ bar room nudes’ was once all there was, for the ‘smutty, sexually depraved’ males of the 1970s. I don’t enjoy painting in a photo-realist style and it was hard to stick to the brief and complete these artworks; however it allows me to reconsider what went on during the 1970s.

The result is in yer face, spritely, colourful and has an air of Pop about it. The paintings look good as a triptych and are emblematic of a more colourful time in our history. Now everything has faded to fifty shades of Farrow and Ball grey.

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pic of SAHB from ‘At the barrier – live music, reviews and opinion’