Test your subliminal smut quotient: can you see the hidden porn in these famous images?

To celebrate the fact that spring seems to be here at last – and the fact that I’ve finally managed to transcribe the interview with Wilson Bryan Key – the world’s pre-eminent expert on the use of subliminal coercion – here’s a brief test.

Following are eight famous images, all of which have been argued – by Key, and others – to contain subliminal images. Click on each image to enlarge it, then take a long, hard and see what filth leaps out at you. What is really going on? Answers are below each image.

The Photos

Explanations

World Trade Centre.

This is the famous image that is purported to show a demon in the sky, laughing as the twin towers burn. August Bullock, author of ‘The Secret Sales Pitch’ (Norwich Publishers, 2004) explains how to view it:

“The head of the monster is looking directly at the camera and is formed by the circular ball of smoke on the far left side of the photograph (to the left of the building). The creature’s right eye (the left as you look at it) is a small dark area that touches the edge of the picture. Its left eye (the right as you look at it) is a dark area towards the upper center of the circular ball. The mouth is a larger, dark area, and the bottom center of the ball. The cloud of smoke in the upper/center of the picture forms a giant hand about to snap the top off the Empire State Building. The small amount of smoke visible on the left side of the tower forms the monster’s thumb. Light coloured portions of the smoke on the right side of the tower form the creature’s fingers. Its hand is connected to an arm that is connected to its body. The creature’s shoulder is hidden from view by the building.”

Absolut Vodka

Again, Bullock explains:

‘[T]he ad…is quite provocative. The bending stem resembles a developing erection. The light colored shape in the interior of the container looks like a hot flame, or perhaps a woman’s vulva. The most intriguing aspect of the picture, however, is a figure-ground illusion… If you focus on the light coloured space behind the glass for a few moments, the shape of a woman’s buttocks will emerge. The bottom rump is especially clear. It is formed by the lower edge of the bent glass; the dark shadow along the bottom of the container erotically forms the dark space between the woman’s cheeks. The woman’s skin has been extended slightly over the edge of the glass to accentuate the illusion. The upper cheek is enhanced by an almost vertical curved shadow inside the glass, to the left of the flame.’

Betty Crocker MMMM Moist

According to Key:

“There is something dissonant about the slice of cake on the fork… Look at the slice of cake. Either that slice is the size of a postage stamp or the fork is the size of a hay fork. You cannot have it both ways.’ But there is further trickery afoot. ‘Don’t strain! Relax!’ advises Key. ‘Let your eyes play over the picture… Notice casually…what has been sculpted into the icing on the cake. Any standard anatomy text will confirm that the shape painted into the icing is an accurate tumescent female genital. “Super Moist” [the slogan beneath the picture] at the portrayed state of excitation, constitutes a normal physiological event” [The Con in Confidence, the Sin in Sincere, Key, 1989]

[see close-up].

Camel Cigarettes

See the Wilson Bryan Key interview:

 

“If you look at the camel, it’s facing to the left and if you look at the forelegs of the camel, there’s a little man standing there, looking to the rear of the camel. His hand is on his hip, his right leg is formed by the camel’s left foreleg, his left leg by the camel’s right foreleg. He is looking backwards, with his hand on his hip. He has an erection. And that’s been there since 1913. In 1950 they went back and they gave him a longer pecker and they gave him a more conventional head. It used to be more triangular.”

Gilbey’s Gin.

Another Key favourite.

Look at the ice cubes in the glass. The second cube from the top appears to contain the letter ‘S’, the third down an ‘E’ and the bottom one an ‘X’. The ‘E’ is clearest; you’ll have to use a little imagination to find the ‘S’ and the ‘X’. Again, there is further manipulation afoot. The top ice cube contains a face, looking down at the three below it and winking. Why? Well, says Key, something distinctly smutty is going on. The cap of the bottle represents a penis. The melting ice on the cap ‘could symbolise seminal fluid… the green color suggests peace and tranquility after tensions have been released.’ To Key, the conclusion is clear: ‘Therefore the scene is likely after orgasm, not before… At this point, if you are curious and broad-minded, you might look between the reflection from the tonic glass and that of the bottle. The vertical opening between the reflection has subtle shadows on each side which could be interpreted as lips – vaginal lips, of course. At the top of the opening is a drop of water which could represent the clitoris. If the scene were put into a story line, this still-open vagina is where the discharged penis has just been… There appears one additional female genital symbol horizontally drawn into the tonic glass reflection. The vagina is closed, suggesting the owner might be lying down awaiting her turn.’

Soft Whiskey a La Mode

This ad, according to Key, contains a mass of subliminal trickery. So much, in fact, that I’m going to let him explain it for himself:

Judas Priest

The cover of the album Stained Class, apparently responsible for the attempted suicide of James Vance and Ray Belknap.

“Stained Class’ record sleeve features a metallic-coloured human head with what appears to be a bullet, or a laser beam, entering the left eye socket and exiting the right temple. A dark red substance flows from the right eye. Key thought that this was suspicious: this album had apparently encouraged two teenagers to shoot themselves in the head, and its cover featured a facsimile of a human head with a projectile passing through it. Then he saw something else and, excited, called Ken McKenna. In the bridge of the nose of the head, he said, was a smaller image of a human silhouette, facing downwards. The laser beam (or projectile) passed directly into the front of this head. The back of the head was blown away, with what appeared to be fire, or blood, all over it.” [Brainwash: The Secret History of Mind Control, 2006]

Le Reve

From the Key interview:

 

“And of course you find Picasso. We’ve just had an exhibition in Las Vegas – 14 paintings, including Rembrandts and Picassos, a billion dollars worth of art. And the Picasso, I’ve used in one of my books, it’s The Dream. I’ve seen the original in New York several times. To see the original was remarkable. There were some changes: in the original, all the prints that were made in the painting show the penis on the head as purple. And in an art department, purple is usually known as a genital colour. The original of that somehow has faded, somehow it’s almost brown now. But in the reproductions of the painting, that thing appears purple. Very light purple. It’s fascinating to see.

But here again, we went – and I had students at the time, I was a professor. Students dug up about 50 reviews of that painting ‘Le Reve’. None of these reviewers, including Life Magazine, that reproduced it full-page back in the nineteen thirties, no-one mentioned the penis. No-one mentioned there were 6 fingers on each hand. No-one asked the simple questions! If someone had asked me, I would have asked those questions from the beginning. No-one asked. Either that, or at the end, beside: ‘The thing you cannot deny [pointing at the Picasso painting] is that that’s a prick on the top of her head, and that she’s masturbating. It’s clear. You can see it, you can explain it, you can deal with it. And you didn’t know it was there before I told you! 30 years from now you will look at that painting and your eyes will go straight to the top of her head. You can’t help it. That’s why it’s subliminal. Nothing is hidden in these pictures. Nothing. Except what you have hidden from yourself. Perception is total.”

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