Held at Effraspace, a yoga, pregnancy, birthing and parenting centre owned by Pinter and Martin, Laura’s publishers, we convened in Brixton and made our way over to the venue. Rows of books lined the bright reception area and owners Martin Wagner and Maria Pinter hosted the evening, juggling wine, nibbles and ultimately book sales and Laura’s signing.
There were over 100 people in attendance, mostly participants, friends and family. The atmosphere was joyous. Martin Wagner introduced Laura and spoke about how Laura had approached them with a view to publishing her previous book Bare Reality. At that stage, they turned her down but the demand was obviously there with Laura raising her target through crowdfunding within 24 hours. Manhood itself sold out before the launch!
Bare Reality which I took part in, focused on breasts and how breasts are perceived in society. Laura interviewed 100 women of varying ages, encompassing different demographics and sexual identification. In my opinion in contemporary society, the dialogue around manhood and masculinity is even more important than how breasts are perceived and often sanctioned, hypersexualised and derided. Manhood embodies the personal stories of 100 men of varying ages and sexuality, focusing on the penis.
I’ve not dared pore over the stories which I’m so keen to work through because my daughter’s partner took part and Laura addressed my copy to Adam at my request so when I next see him we can trade for his unsigned copy.
I’m precious about books. I hold them in reverence especially signed copies and first editions so I want to hand him a pristine copy, not one besmirched by my grubby fingers so it’s tantalisingly out of reach, inciting me to open it like the snake in the Garden of Eden but I’ve resisted – to date.
At least I can show you some pictures from the evening itself which was very much a celebration of manhood and masculinity.
Laura spoke with great presence and tenderness.
Ernesto appropriately, who was hilarious and compelling in his rendition, bared his body along with his soul. As naturists we know from a textile perspective, the shock of seeing someone nude dissipates in a matter of seconds. My friend alongside me was a bit startled initially but soon forgot the fact he was naked.
Laura and some of the Manhood participants have been on a whirlwind of PR since the launch. Watch out for the reviews as they come in and prepare to be moved by the deeply personal accounts Manhood charts. Well done Laura and thank you for inspiring the dialogue that will undoubtedly ensue.
What photographing 100 naked men taught me, Laura Dodsworth The Telegraph 12/6/17
Me and my penis: 100 men reveal all, Laura Dodsworth The Guardian 27/5/17