bulldagger of the season
1981, honey lee cottrell
“the context that I created for the bulldagger centrefold was lifted from the playboy centrefold. the response to that picture was amplified by the context of presentation in a lesbian sex magazine [on our backs]. those of us who are urbane east and west coast dwellers were prepared to take it in their stride; but those in the heartland couldn’t tell if it was ‘real’ or a joke. I think it must’ve been painfully confusing for those people who couldn’t figure out what the intention was.”
“what would I do if I was a centerfold and how can I reflect back to them our values [as lesbians]?”
honey lee cottrell was a phenomenal butch lesbian photographer whose work was groundbreaking in its exploration of authentic and blatant lesbian sexuality as erotica, defined by an incisive feminist and beautifully raw perspective.
bulldagger of the season operates on multiple levels, and differently depending on the viewer, but not least to consider is its erotic appeal to fems – for its bold and sensual depiction of a confident butch, and also for its subversiveness and politically radical statement, the undertone of playful humour, the keen intelligence, and how brazenly she signals her sexual competence throughout. honey lee’s list of lovers was a who’s who of fem icons – amber hollibough, susie bright, tee corinne. she knew what she was doing. she comprehended her own power, and the power of the lesbian gaze:
“the lesbian gaze meant that there was a contemplation, a restraint, a sincerity and a warrior-quality. this lesbian look was compelling. while your heterosexual woman model might compel the rest of the world to look at her, a lesbian was addressing you.”