Some people are watchers, others are doers.
In Kohei Yoshiyuki’s iconic 1979 series, Kōen, meaning ‘park,’ everyone – including audience and photographer – is both. Using infrared bulbs in his 35mm camera, manufactured by Kodak in the ’70s, Yoshiyuki captured couples having sex and the people that watch them in Tokyo’s Shinjuku and Yoyogi parks.
While the couples sometimes obscured, reduced to an arm here or a pair of legs there, the spectators are creepily mobile. Yoshiyuki has suggested that the couples – who were real people just trying to find a private place to have sex – were often unaware that they are being watched.
The ’70s and ’80s were without a doubt the golden years for New York’s nightlife. Studio 54 being the place of all places to be and be seen, actors, celebrities and beautiful people were running loose. Drugs, sex and disco, ruled the night. Lesser known but clearer in purpose was Plato’s Retreat. Opened in 1977 in the basement of the Ansonia Hotel by Larry Levenson, Plato’s had strict rules about what could and couldn’t be done inside it’s walls. In essence a sex club housing three swing rooms, heated pools, private cubicles and disco music (a later addition of a buffet), couples were free to do almost anything their hearts desired. A hedonistic haven for ‘free thinking’ couples, Plato’s was a hit.