It was the book that broke social barriers and appalled many when it came out. Today, it is the highest selling coffee table of all time. Despite attempts by several organizations to boycott the book, 150,000 copies (each at $50) were sold in one day in the USA. All 1.5 Million copies of the book were sold out worldwide in just a couple of days. Phil Hartman as Charlton Heston reading the book on SNL was voted one of the most memorable SNL skits.
The book was Madonna’s simply and provocatively named Sex, created to provoke thoughts about sexual preferences and body image. Madonna was already known for her controversial nature and sexual upfrontness, but the book which was released on October 21, 1992 (a day after her fifth album Erotica was released) broke all boundaries with the book. She revealed herself in a way that no other mainstream artist had revealed him- or herself before.
All photgraphs were taken by Steven Meisel and a film of the photoshoot was recorded by Fabien Baron. Madonna wrote the book from the point-of-view from a ficitional character Dita (inspired by silent film star Dita Parlo) in an epistolary form to another fictional character Johnny. Her producers forbade Madonna from including any photographs depicting religious imagery, bestiality, or child pornography. However, Madonna did include two photographs that subtly broke the rules—a photo where she is tied on a cross-shaped table under a large crucifix, and another photo that presents the illusion of a dog giving oral sex to her. (On a closer look, Madonna is not straddling the dog’s head, but rather kneeling on both knees beside the dog.)
The book came packaged in a sealed silver mylar-wrapping showing an image of Madonna. The book itself comes with spiralbounded metalcovers with the word ‘Sex’ embossed on the front and a punched ‘X’ on the back. Each copy of the book comes with an individual embossed number on the back. Also enclosed with the book is a Photo-Comic called ‘Dita in the Chelsea Girl’ and a CD Promo-Copy of the song Erotic (which is a remix of Erotica featuring alternate lyrics).
Other celebrities featured in the book included Isabella Rossellini, Udo Kier, Naomi Campbell, Tatiana von Fürstenberg, Ingrid Casares, Joey Stefano, Big Daddy Kane, Tony Ward and Rapper Vanilla Ice.
See all scans from the book here.