- The Historical Blindness podcast has an episode on the Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, an absurd porno-Gothic piece of anti-Catholic propaganda from the 1830s.
- German industrial metal band Rammstein has a long history of sadomasochistic themes in their lyrics and music videos, along with other transgressions.
- Earlier this year, Jack Thompson made history as the first trans person of colour to win the title of International Mister Leather. “I am all the things I am all the time.”
- Bustle has a short history of the corset, though it skims over the more fetishistic aspects.
- One of the more disturbing developments I’ve witnessed in the past few years is the rise of choking, and specifically non-consensual choking, in vanilla sex. Breath control is risky and frightening enough when done with proper consent and technique. But this is men incorporating it in sex with women with none of that, says the Atlantic.
- Videogames are a relatively young medium, and only recently have people begun using them to explore issues of identity and sexuality. Bobbi Sands’ “visual novel”, Knife Sisters, covers kink and BDSM, but has a hard time buying advertisements or getting funding because of its sexual content, even in relatively liberal Sweden.
- The blog The Elephant in the Hot Tub: Kink in Context has its own interesting study of the history and psychology of sadomasochism.
- Leo Herrera, who made the gay alternate history film The Fathers Project, wrote an essay considering our present, possibly-post-HIV world, and its increasing cultural conservatism in the form of “community guidelines” on Tumblr and Facebook.
There were two films titled Venus in Furs released in 1969. This is the one also known as Paroxismus, directed by Jesus (aka Jess) Franco, and starring James Darren, Barbara McNair and Maria Rohm. It has little to do with Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novel Venus im Pelz (aka Venus in Furs). (The other 1969 Venus was directed by Massimo Dallamano.)
Not every film I study in this project has a lot to say about sadomasochism. In some cases, these may be single scenes or even brief moments.
Dancing at the Blue Iguana (2000) is a semi-improvised drama about the exotic dancers at a club and their various struggles in life.
The Mask of Fu Manchu is a 1932 adventure thriller.
Many other people have written about the racial and gender politics of this film. Suffice it to say, they’re awful. This was at the peak of “yellow peril” racism in America, portraying a world on the brink of a cataclysmic war between West and East. Asians are portrayed as both vicious and weak, needing a leader like the Western-educated Fu Manchu to lead them.
This was also before the Hays code was put into effect in 1934, and it displays a degree of sex and violence that is still surprising today.
The two villains are both portrayed by white people in yellowface: Boris Karloff as Doctor Fu Manchu and Myrna Loy as his daughter Fa Lo See (“fallacy”?). Before Loy was the ideal American wife Nora Charles in the Thin Man movies, she played “exotic” or “ethnic” women in brown, yellow or black face.
- It’s Pride month, at least in the United States. One of the ongoing controversies is whether kinky people belong in pride events (as recently asked on Twitter), and if so, whether that includes kinky people who are heterosexual.
- The Advocate says there’s no way kink should be banned at Pride.
- Gay Star News says “the kink community and the LGBTI community is inextricably linked“.
- Dazed says “The event should be as inclusive as possible, but raucousness, provocation, and fucking are important too; reconciling these things might be complicated but banishing kink isn’t the answer.“
- Race Bannon, who has been involved in the kink world since 1973, talks in a column for RECON about the number of kinky men he knows who don’t seem to be involved in the public kink culture. He cites the research of clinical psychologist Russell J Stambaugh, PhD (blog), which suggests that the majority of kinky people aren’t involved in any kind of organized group, and perhaps as few as 10 per cent of kinky people are involved in organized culture. (Not clear if this is referring to kinky gay men or kinky people in general.) (This agrees with my own hypothesis about “dark matter”, the unknown number of kinky people who are not involved in groups.) If so, kinky organizations as we know them only reach a minority of their potential audience. The remaining 90 per cent are served by social networks like Grindr, RECON and Fetlife.
- Black is the colour most often of fetish clothing, but it is also associated with mourning dress. Bellatory offers a quick history of black mourning dress, once required of the upper classes by law, and later imitated by the lower classes.
- To paraphrase the British comedy team Smack the Pony, “Nuns… Haven’t a clue what they’re for, but aren’t they kinky?” (video) Nuns have been associated with deviant sex since at least Boccaccio’s Decameron in the 14th century. Vintage Fetish Photos has a collection of erotic nun images from the early 20th century.
- Dr. Mark Griffith’s blog has a piece with citations on the fetishistic art of Allen Jones, which links to the BDSM-themed music and art of Adam Ant, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, and forniphilia pioneer the House of Gord.
Peter Samuel Cook was a serial rapist who attacked women in their homes in Cambridge, England, between October 1974 and April 1975. He was known in the press as the “Cambridge Rapist”.
There was a peculiarly theatrical quality to Cook’s crimes. Today, we are still grappling with the idea that most rapes are committed by people the victim knew. Cook fit the stereotypical view of a rapist at the time, a socially marginal figure who broke into homes and assaulted strangers. Reportedly, if he didn’t find a victim, he would write taunting messages on their bathroom mirrors.
What’s significant for this discussion is that he work a black leather hood with the word “RAPIST” literally written across the forehead. What puzzled me was, why and how did Cook get a leather mask? An ordinary cloth or wool ski mask or balaclava would have sufficed to conceal his identity.
Belle De Jour (1967) is a French drama directed by Luis Bunuel and starring Catherine Deneuve.
Note: quotes are from the English dubbing, not the subtitles.
Deneuve plays Séverine (a name probably chosen for its link to Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs), the beautiful young wife of a surgeon, Pierre. They seem to have the perfect life, but Séverine is sexually unresponsive, what at the time they would have deemed “frigid.” (“Frigidity” is not a term used any more, at least not clinically.) The only way she can be aroused is by imagining herself in scenarios of degradation and slavery.
After a chance meeting with Dan Savage on the way to Kinkfest 2019 in Portland, OR, he agreed to interview me about my book for his weekly Savage Lovecast. The only hitch is that the segment with me in the for-pay Magnum edition, not the regular edition. You have to subscribe.
Personal Services (1987) is a comedy-drama directed by Terry Jones.
The DVD I had begins with text that says “This film is a fiction. The author’s inspiration was a book about Cynthia Payne. However the events recorded in the film and the characters who appear in it are wholly fictitious. This is not the life story of Cynthia Payne.” This is a bit disingenuous, as Payne, a notorious UK madam, is listed in the credits as “Consultant.”
The People Under The Stairs (1991) is a horror film written and directed by Wes Craven
Though categorized as horror, People is better understood as a contemporary Gothic fable. A young African-American man, known by his nickname “Fool”, is desperate to help his poor family in the ghetto. He breaks into the sprawling home of a wealthy couple who are the neighborhood landlords. The couple, who call each other “Daddy” and “Mama”, look and act like they stepped out of the 1950s, but they and their house is not what they seem. (They’re a bit like Paul and Mary from Eating Raoul, just taken a few steps further.)