Stacked Decks: The Art and History of Erotic Playing Cards 

Mark Rotenberg
Quirk Books

True to its title, "Stacked Decks" is a coffee-table book depicting the history and evolution of playing cards adorned with photographs of nude women. However, if kids are in the house, rethink the coffee table.

Arranged chronologically, the book begins with cards so chaste, one wonders how they ever were considered erotic. Tasteful illustration gives way to early Playboy-styled voluptuous, girl-next-door innocence that, while bringing new meaning to the term "full house," is tame in today's eyes. The most interesting cards are actually cartoons "? specifically, Bill Wenzel's "Peppy Comic Cards" "? which tease with their ribald, now-antiquated gags.

With expertly designed pages and just enough text to shed perspective on this oddball industry, "Stacked Decks" is fascinating as cultural history and as pure kitsch.

"?Rod Lott

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