A guide to nudity in mainstream movies was a brilliant idea, but one soon made obsolete by technology.
The Bare Facts Video Guide by Craig Hosoda arrived in the space in popular culture, around the turn of the century, between the dominance of Mary Whitehouse-style puritanism of the right and PC-style puritanism of the left. Its mission? To instruct the reader where he could find his favourite actresses naked on videotape, down to the exact minute, nay, second. This was before DVDs took over and before the internet got properly chugging, before nudity was just a click away; nowadays, sites like Mr Skin and The Fappening not only tell you where your favourite actresses got nude, but show you. Back then, though, The Bare Facts was the best that could be hoped for, an exciting emporium of celebrity skin data pitched at the video renter in search of the good stuff.
It’s a hefty tome, split into two sections: first the actresses, and then the films, so information is repeated. Even so, the logistics are astonishing – in the ‘titles’ section, there are around 400 pages with roughly twelve films on each, making a total of about 4,800 movies. There is – not surprisingly – no hardcore stuff but there are, besides normal movies, the likes of Penthouse and Playboy video spectaculars. Scenes are marked with one, two or three dots, one denoting “Yawn”, two denoting “Okay”, and three denoting “Wow!” It’s a sort of dirty-minded (or, you might think, single-minded) Halliwell’s, or a Maltin’s with added usefulness.
There seem to have been seven UK editions of the book, the first published in 1995, the last in 2001. Early editions also featured information on naked actors – a very foolish idea! It’s no surprise the chaps were dropped. The author could have saved himself the trouble if he’d read the psychology literature, which says that men are more aroused by visual stimuli, whereas women are more aroused by, as science journal Nature puts it, “concrete, auditory, olfactory, touch and emotionally relevant sexual stimulation”. But then Ogas and Gaddam’s A Billion Wicked Thoughts wasn’t published until 2012.
The Bare Facts is a heck of a thing for the devoted flesh-hunter, if not perfect. There are plenty of movies that have nude scenes in them that aren’t mentioned, and the filmographies – or nude-ographies – are not complete for several actresses: Brigitte Lahaie, for instance, has dropped her delicates in tons of flicks beyond her hardcore work, but the guide lists just three. But in general, it’s pretty concise. It’s a remarkable book, really, for its diligence, its dedication, its awareness of its reader’s wants, and for its chutzpah (there was also a CD-ROM – remember them? – that you could additionally purchase that had extra content).
About a decade ago I really wanted to interview Hosoda for a movie bookazine I was editing, but I had no luck when I got in touch with publishers Titan, who pointed out that it was too many years since it came out. I was disappointed, because I had so many questions for him, and I still do, such as:
What did your family think of you doing this?
Did you watch all of these films through?
How could you make it pay? Renting or buying those films must have cost a packet – how could book sales offset the cost?
Has this not turned you into a furry-palmed, cellar-dwelling, social misfit?! (Okay, I might have phrased that one slightly differently.)
Some of these questions are perhaps part-answered for me inside the book. On the Thanks page Hosoda writes: “First of all, I need to thank my children, Christopher and Melanie, for giving me something to work for. Thanks also to my parents and the rest of my family for all their help and support.”
He also thanks eleven friends who, I guess, may have helped by viewing some of the movies, but then says on the opposing page that some readers have sent him nude information that he needs to personally verify before inclusion. So maybe he did watch all of them personally.
Intriguingly, he also thanks many ‘personalities’, who are all women, most of them actresses in erotic films. And as for whether it made him money, well, I guess the fact that there were several editions (more in the US than the UK, I think) proves that where there’s muck, there’s brass. Incidentally, while writing this article I looked up Hosoda on the internet, and he’s on LinkedIn: he’s apparently a director at a graphics and technology company, and the only reference he makes on his CV to The Bare Facts is that he once wrote and self-published “a video guide book”. Hopefully, this article is not going to revive something that he wants to keep buried for professional or personal reasons.
As for me… despite the abundance of information now available at the click of a mouse and removal of the safe search restrictions, I still go back to the book now – not so much for directions for viewing, but to read the descriptions of the flesh-flashes, as they can be pretty funny, and sometimes a little dark. Such as:
“Left breast sticking out of her top during fight with Scarface.”
“Buns and lower frontal nudity on bed when Guido rips her clothes off and rapes her.”
“Breasts in shower when water turns blood red. Great shot, but ruined by the red water.”
“Very, very brief right breast in bathtub getting electrocuted.”
“Nude, after taking off her dress and dancing in front of Wheeler. (He pours beer on her.) Long scene.”
The publications giving favourable quotes on the back cover is an eye-opener. Lads’ mag Loaded, predictably, offers, “Probably the most valuable reference book of the year… a masterpiece”, but then there’s Sight & Sound (“Exhaustive and exhausting”), Empire (“A monumental work… It’s a tough job and thank God Craig Hosoda’s doing it”), Entertainment Weekly (“After all, what’s a pause button for?”). My favourite is the blunt and reverential “Seminal” from the unlikely source of the Glasgow Evening Times.
Ah, days of honesty! Before men and journalists had to start pretending that they didn’t like looking at naked women. And can you imagine woke publications like Sight & Sound and Entertainment Weekly even mentioning such a book now, let alone giving it a glowing review? Indeed, can you imagine finding this book nestling on the film shelves of your local book shop? Be it Waterstones or a thoroughly right-on indie shop, it seems unlikely that such a book would be given mainstream shelf space now. The Bare Facts was a bold venture even for its time, but nowadays could you see any publisher giving such a project a second glance? Its young staff would all be in tears if it did.
Copies are fairly cheap on eBay and Amazon. Grab one. It’s a fascinating snapshot of where pop culture was about 20 years ago – and, of course, you’ll also discover where to find your favourite actresses nude on video.
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