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Hedonism VII: Sex you up

Latest in series shows the hottest is the funniest

Certain things are to be expected in an art exhibition about sex: breasts, fishnet stockings, glossy lips, various approximations of gettin' it on.

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There's not always a whole lot of novelty to conjure when it comes to probably the most relentlessly explored subject in our sex-addled world. Everything has been done, so to speak, and shows centered on eroticism often can suffer for being both too obvious and trying too hard. But the real buzz kill for much of the work in Hedonism VII: The Peep Show at Apache Cafe is the false conceit that because everyone has had sex, everyone's an expert – the assumption being that anyone with access to a hot guy or girl can easily render "desire." Not so. Sex-outside-the-box takes a bit more finesse, wit and charisma than some come-hither glances and a pair of stilettos.

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In truth, too much of other people's idea of sexy-sexy is like watching someone's endless vacation slide show. Fun for the host, maybe, but not such a gas for the rest of us.

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Americans tend to pursue sex like they do sports and work: with a nose-to-the-grindstone avidity, and this Hedonism is no different. With such a variety of deadly serious eros, cheeky humor comes as a blessed relief in the case of Natasha Pantelides. A designer by trade, Pantelides has created a wallpaper featuring sexual couplings incorporated into the damask pattern.

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Though hidden away in a refrigerated case when you first enter Apache, photographer Jenn Alexander's sultry babes also carry a whiff of humor. Alexander features unexpected images of women infused with some of the winking attitude of burlesque, like the photograph of a woman's legs, panties at her ankles, as she sits on the toilet.

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With so much hot-and-bothered T&A on display, the assertion that eros is not always where you expect to find it is one of the pleasures – along with great painterly technique – of several of the artists' work. Lauren Thie's wonderfully milky-soft hues and renditions of unexpected play areas like feet suggest a different notion of an erogenous zone. And Maxwell Sebastian's blushing, carnal-pink color palette is equally pleasing. Sebastian renders a bevy of naked, fleshy models posing for the artist, but they tend to own their bodies more than flaunt them for our pleasure. What a difference that attitude – both the artist's and the subject's – makes.

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Hedonism VII: The Peep Show. Through May 7. Mondays, 7-11 p.m., through April 30. Apache Cafe, 64 Third St. 404-876-5436. www.apachecafe.info.



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