Three Photos in No Need of a Punchline


They pretty much speak for themselves. They come from around the world, and all three involve matters of questionable taste as locally defined.


1. For anyone who missed this sign in front of the Bella Vista Baptist Church in Edgewater, Florida, which went TV viral in early November, here it is. For the rest of you, here it is again. It seems like the kind of double entendre that might once have remained confined to the gay community, where its unintended meaning would immediately be clear. The fact that the rest of America is now hip to the perils of oral sex is perhaps a sign of progress.


2. From the town of Mariano Comense in northern Italy: controversy erupted when the grave of one Carlo Annoni materialized in the local cemetery—a flamboyant affair, to say the least, amid the somber tombstones. In fact, it was a self-consciously “gay” statement by the deceased and his surviving husband to tell the world of their “colorful life” together over 36 years. One resident found the grave “too showy and colorful,” while a town notable said it was “in bad taste and too glamorous.” One can imagine Carlo’s reply: “Too glamorous! How is this even possible?”


3. This one needs a bit more explanation. The pictured piece, titled Domestikator, by the collective Atelier Van Lieshout, was pulled from a show at the Louvre, which deemed it “sexually explicit” and thus verboten. The art world reacted in disbelief, as well it might, not only because any possible sexual meaning is pretty darn abstract, but also because the pictured objects really aren’t capable of having sex. Louvre art director Jean-Luc Martinez offered the usual explanations about how the work might be “misunderstood,” adding that it had “a brutal aspect”—a word that in French comes closer to our “bestial” or “beastly.” In other words, it’s how animals do it. Perhaps the safest assumption would be that M. Martinez just isn’t a fan of doggy style.