Saturday, June 3, 2023 Jun 3, 2023
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Five Questions With Taschen’s Sexy Book Editor Dian Hanson

Get to know the art book publishing maven.
By Caitlin Clark |

How exactly does one become a “Sexy Book Editor?” A few lucky attendees at The Joule’s Naugh-Tea this Saturday may get an answer from publishing doyen Dian Hanson, but so will you, dear reader. We were lucky enough to catch the author of such sexually oriented titles as The Little Book of Butts and The New Erotic Photography on the phone last week to ask her the aforementioned question, plus which of her titles she would suggest for “sexy book” beginners, and what she considers her most prized possession.


Photo by Ed Fox
Photo by Ed Fox
How did you come to be the “sexy book” editor for Taschen?

I was the editor of a fetish magazine called Leg Show, which was sold in Germany. I picked up a German fan around 1990 named Benedikt Taschen. He loved the magazine and finally tracked me down in 1994, though I’d never heard of Taschen at the time (the company was much smaller), and we became friends. He was always asking me when I was going to come work for him, and I always said never. I loved my job in magazines. When my publisher died in 2000, I finally decided I was ready.


How has your work changed since you started with Taschen?

The thing that really bothered me in the beginning is that it takes forever to make a book. I was accustomed to putting out three magazines every month for twenty-five years. When you’re working with books, you spend years on them and nothing seems to happen. I started to have an identity crisis. I felt invisible. How would anyone know me if I wasn’t putting anything out?

But writing books does give you more time to perfect things. I have the time now to do a lot of research and make sure I’m creating something that will have lasting value.


If someone wanted an introduction to reading Dian Hanson, what book would you recommend?

My best selling book is The Big Penis Book. I think it says a lot about Taschen that we could publish a book like that with that title. Before I came to Taschen, people thought something like that would be crass or not artistic enough. That’s the kind of challenge I like to take on. Let me take something crass or worrisome and make it artistic.

My next pick would be The Big Book of Breasts. A lot of women want that book. The breast is the female equivalent of the penis. People put a lot of anxiety into the breast and how they look. I think women like the kind of images they see in that book—many of the women shown are a size 12.


Are you working on any new for Taschen? 

1000 Model Directory. There was a photographer in Los Angeles named Bob Mizer who photographed body builders and military men on Muscle Beach in the ’40s. His subjects were heterosexual, but they liked to have their photo taken by a respectable men. Mizer published a little catalog called 1000 Model Directory. I went to the archives in San Francisco  and all the pictures were taken by 4×5 negative film—fabulous, big negatives with great quality. Over the course of a year, I would go up to the archive every month, and went through about a quarter of a million negatives. It took long time, but it was fun work.


What is the most prized possession in your home?

There’s a photographer who I have loved since childhood, William Mortensen. He was a pictorialist during the Ansel Adams era. Pictorialists manipulated their photos and their negatives to make them look more like a painting or etching. He specialized in nudes and monsters. A few years ago I saved up my money and bought a photograph by him, “Human Relations, 1932.” It’s framed in my dining room and is probably my most prized possession—apart from my husband and my cat.

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