First published in 1962, Eros was a stunningly designed hardcover "magbook" devoted to eroticism. The design of Eros by Herb Lubalin has made it a clean, elegant literary and lithographic work of art. It has an oversized format and printed on both matte and glossy paper, and with hardback covers, making it more like a book rather than a quarterly magazine.
Art that addressed the extent to which the erotic was a theme, throughout the ages, by major painters and sculptors, were shown in Eros, along with bold and sensitive layouts for photographic portfolios by modern photographers.
Eos, was shocking and titillating erotica for the time but mild by today's fare. Eros was the Greek god of love, and Ginzburg's magazines were devoted to stories and articles about love and sex.
While Playboy and other men's magazines of the time catered mostly to male fantasies, Eros (named for the Greek god of love and desire) covered a wide swath of sexuality in history, politics, art and literature. Mr. Ginzburg valued good writing, and his contributors included Nat Hentoff, Arthur Herzog and Albert Ellis.
Eros magazine is significant in American publishing history as it covered and helped to incite the sexual revolution, while it also contributed to the formation of counter-culture in the late 1960s.
Ginzburg he had a talent for the mail-order business, especially writing attention-grabbing promotional advertisements. He wed his business and publishing instincts to social activism.
Eros, which was sold only through the mail, was conceived in a hardcover rather than a softcover format as a marketing ploy to extract a hefty cover price. Mr. Ginzburg hired the leading mainstream advertising typographer/art director, Herb Lubalin, to create innovative layouts for Eros. It cost him a lot of money to produce and never rose out of the red.
Ginzburg attempted to peddle subscriptions to Eros by sending unsolicited racy requests to possible upscale buyers/readers. Many of those who received the mailings were outraged and reported the solicitations to the post office.
Eros challenged the taboo of interracial love in a photo essay by Ralph M. Hattersley Jr. and published a previously suppressed portfolio of nude photographs of Marilyn Monroe, taken by Bert Stern.
No. 1 (Spring, 1962) The cover was mustard-coloured and featured "an embossed playing card of Bluebeard and one of his maids". The issue included short stories by Ray Bradbury and Guy de Maupassant, an extract from Eric Partridge's "vulgar dictionary" and poems by John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester.
No. 2 (Summer, 1962) The cover of No. 2 pictured a young couple in swimsuits, kissing passionately; it was printed in two colours, black and greenish-yellow, with a red-orange logo. The inside covers repeated the theme in red (front) and blue (back). It featured photo essays about John F Kennedy, French prostitutes and erotic statues in India, the first publication in a magazine of Mark Twain's short story "1601" and "an antique patent submission for a male chastity belt".
No. 3 (Autumn, 1962) Issue No. 3 was centred on an 18-page photo shoot of the recently deceased Marilyn Monroe (the pictures were taken by Bert Stern six weeks before her death). It also featured a piece by Bonnie Prudden, an extract from Fanny Hill and an article on Samuel Roth.
No. 4 (Winter, 1962) This issue published a letter by Allen Ginsberg, a profile of Frank Harris, and 'an eight-page "photographic tone poem"' titled "Black and White in Color", featuring a nude couple, but with no pubic parts shown, with an African-American man and a European-American girl. It has been contended that the magazine was persecuted on racist grounds, under the wave of mass racial violence in the South of the United States, and that there would have been no such persecution if the photos had featured a couple of the same color.
Full Archive - http://eros.110west40th.com
When the fourth and final issue appeared (a fifth was prepared but never published), Mr. Ginzburg was indicted on charges of violating a federal statute that regulated obscene advertising. His publications (Eros; Liaison, a biweekly newsletter; and "The Housewife's Handbook on Selective Promiscuity") were deemed obscene "in the context of their production, sale and attendant publicity." After various appeals, the case was argued before the Supreme Court in 1965, and in 1966 Mr. Ginzburg's conviction was upheld.
“After all the legal, moral and psychological arguments are done, the fact remains that a man is going to prison for publishing and advertising stuff a few years ago that today would hardly raise an eyebrow in your dentist’s office. This is the folly, the menace of all censorship — it lays down rules for all time which are ludicrous a short time later.
“If it is right that Ralph Ginzburg go to jail, then in all justice the same court that sentenced him should proceed at once to close down ninety percent of the movies now playing and the newspapers that carry their advertising. Compared to the usual run of entertainment in this country, Ginzburg’s publications and his ads are on a par with the National Geographic.”
From January 1964, to August 1967, Ginzburg published a quarterly magazine named fact:, which could be characterized as a humorous, scathingly satiric journal of comment on current society and politics. fact: had surprisingly little erotic content.
From 1968 to 1971 Mr. Ginzburg also published Avant Garde, an art and culture magazine designed by Mr. Lubalin, whose logo for the magazine was the basis for one of the most popular typefaces of the era. Although Avant Garde included erotic material (an entire issue was devoted to John Lennon's erotic lithographs), this time the focus was more on radical politics, including the "No More War" poster competition.
Herbert F. "Herb" Lubalin was an American graphic designer. He collaborated with Ralph Ginzburg on three of Ginzburg's magazines: Eros, Fact, and Avant Garde, and was responsible for the creative visual beauty of these publications. He designed a typeface, ITC Avant Garde.
Lubalin’s private studio gave him the freedom to take on any number of wide-ranging projects, from poster and magazine design to packaging and identity solutions. It was here that the designer became best known, particularly for his work with Ginzburg.
His ability to manipulate letterforms and his handling of the positive and negative spaces in typographic design led to the creation of many outstanding layouts, logotypes and letterforms.
Lubalin said, “We've been conditioned to read the way Gutenberg set his type, and for 500 years, people have been reading widely-spaced words on horizontal lines...We read words, not characters, and pushing letters closer or tightening space between lines doesn't destroy legibility; it merely changes reading habits.”
Lubalin joined with phototypography pioneer Edward Rondthaler and typographer Aaron Burns in establishing the International Typeface Corporation (ITC) in 1970. ITC was founded to commission new and redrawn typefaces for computerized photosetting; it gave designers copyright protection and royalties for the first time. With Lubalin as design director, ITC began a journal, U&lc, to publicize and demonstrate its typefaces and license them to subscribers.
“He gave form to thought and thought to form, and in doing so, made his talent and gift a gift to us all.”