Feb 122015
 

As of this writing, Fifty Shades of Grey holds a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a 47 on MetaCritic, and a 3.1 on IMDB. Suffice to say, it won’t sweep the Oscars next year. I do predict it will do well at the Golden Raspberries. Its loyal fanbase will probably guarantee a commercially successful opening weekend and a lot of DVD sales, but I suspect it will do poorly in the long run.

I am a little disappointed we won’t see little CGI chibi versions of Dakota Johnson’s subconscious and inner goddess hopping around.

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Jan 152015
 

I haven’t updated this in a long time, in part because my energy has gone into actually working on the book instead of blog posts. The good news is that I’m getting close to having a complete rough draft of the entire manuscript, one that I can send to beta readers, agents and publishers. I completed Chapter 13 on the political/legal status of BDSM, weighing in at 10,300 words, which brings the total word count to over 100,000 words. All that’s left is the conclusion, which I’m currently banging my head against. Once that’s done, I can resume sending out proposals. (I’d like to do a chapter on the Japanese parallel evolution of BDSM, but that’s on hold until I can find more research material.)

I am presenting my History of BDSM talk at Westward Bound, a three-day conference presented by Metro Vancouver Kink. My presentation will be at 9am, Saturday, January 31st. I haven’t done this presentation in a while, and my ideas and knowledge has changed so much that I may have to start over from scratch.

I have another presentation later this year; more details later.

Better late than never: check out the Tyee article about Jian Ghomeshi affair and its link (or lack thereof) to the BDSM scene:

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Sep 122014
 

I’ve completed chapter 9, coming in at about 9,000 words. Technically, I completed it again, but I reshuffled things around a bit. Chapter 8 is now about the relationship between BDSM and fascism/militarism. Chapter 9 is now about the early 20th century. Since so much of that is influenced by the aftermath of the Great War, and the forces that led to the next war, I decided to put it after the fascism chapter.

To be frank, I’m not completely satisfied with my work. This period was something of a gap in my research, between the relatively well-documented Victorian and post-WWII periods. I have a few leads, such as Edith Kadivec and William Seabrook, and a few documented cases (Percy Grainger and TE Lawrence, for example), but not enough substantial material. Nothing like the Munby-Cullwick relationship, and nothing to really tie it all together.

I’ve also cheated a bit and referred to questionable sources like the Spanking Art wiki on subjects like early French bondage photography studios and the life of Edith Kadivec.

However, the goal now is to complete a rough but finished draft I can show to prospective agents and publishers. The sections with dodgey sources can be edited or cut later.

As the project currently stands, the next two chapters cover the Internet Era (c.1990-2000) and the post-Internet Era (2000-), with an emphasis on the BDSM community as a political entity and the attacks against it. After that comes a foreword, an afterword, and possibly an appendix on Japanese sadomasochism. My current goal is to finish a presentable draft by the end of 2014, and I actually feel fairly confident that I can achieve that.

In the meantime, I am also editing the Master-slave history anthology.

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Aug 142014
 
  • Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York blog has a post on the lost gay leather clubs of New York City, and what has replaced them. I was fortunate enough to visit Manhattan in 1997 and visit the Hellfire Club, the Vault, and a few other venues, all gone when I returned in 2005.
  • Researching William Seabrook, Man Ray and Lee Miller brought me to Silent Porn Star’s post on the psychosexual impact of the First World War, leading to masochism and even effeminization in the male psyche. You’d have to include the cult of Rudolf Valentino as a counter-movement towards a new masculinity.
  • Brian Donovan’s book White Slave Crusades: Race, Gender, and Anti-Vice Activism, 1887-1917 looks like an interesting account of woman-in-captivity fantasies.
  • More than 20 years ago, Wired ran a piece on then-obscure newsgroup alt.sex.bondage
  • A biography of Edith Kadivec (or Cadivec), flagellant, author and child molester in the early 20th century. This is one of those frustrating articles that presents a wealth of detailed information, but no sources or author.
  • Likewise, this history of the House of Milan, producer of bondage magazines and videos, lacks sources and attribution.
  • A mention of the 1980 sadomasochism-themed issue of the art magazine ZG brought me tantalizingly close to this lost artifact. One of the few references I could find:

    Its central theme-sadomasochism-would be interrogated through conflicting inquiries into “violent images of sexuality” as they manifested themselves in film, fashion, art, and music. To my sixteen-year-old eyes (and mind), ZG`s “sadomasochism” issue was incendiary. It opened with “Mistaken Identities,” Dick Hebdige`s account-interwoven with a textual collage of contemporary news reports-of the brutal and sordid death of Sex Pistol Sid Vicious`s muse and partner in crime, Nancy Spungen.

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Mar 162014
 

Mileaf, Janine. Please Touch: Dada & Surrealist Objects After The Readymade. Dartmouth College Press, 2010

As I’ve observed before, there’s a relative lacuna in BDSM history, between the Victorians and the post-WWII era. The first half of the 20th century is relatively undocumented, though I have found a few exceptions.

Man Ray, Woman in Bondage, c1930

Man Ray, Woman in Bondage, c1930

Artist and photographer Man Ray made several sadomasochistic photos in his career in the 1920s and 1930s. He was also a devotee of the works of the Marquis de Sade, and made portraits of the Marquis. Man Ray was one of many artists of the time interested in “the primitive”, taking inspiration from aboriginal people around the world, and seeking truth through extreme mental and physical states.

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Feb 192014
 

I finished Chapter 11, “Unknown Pleasures”, with it coming in at 8,600 words. It covers roughly 1970-1990, including the rise of aboveground kink organizations like TES, Society of Janus, GMSMA, and PEP, as well as the unfortunate decline of the gay male leather culture due to AIDS and other factors. The second half covers kink’s infection of/appropriation by mainstream culture, through music and fashion.

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Feb 162014
 

The Kink Realm has a list of daily links for February 2013 and February 2014, on the history of black people in BDSM, including profiles of Viola Johnson and Mollena Williams, discussions of the issues of bottoms with darker skin, Marvin Gaye’s little-known song “Masochistic Beauty”, and more.

I hope to see posts on fetish artist Eugene Bilbrew (aka “Eneg”) and actress/singer Eartha Kitt.

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Feb 142014
 

Brown, Carolyn E. “Erotic Religious Flagellation and Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure”, English Literary Renaissance, Vol.16, Iss. 1, Dec 1986

Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure (first performed in 1604) links religious asceticism and flagellation with deviant sexuality and political tyranny. The Duke of Vienna, the judge Angelo and the novice nun Isabella claim to be pious and chaste, while their sexuality is repressed in such a way that it emerges as indifferent voyeurism, aggressive sadism or masochism, respectively. “…by drawing parallels to historical or topical events, Shakespeare suggests that the protagonists’ very asceticism, ironically, causes this deviant desire and that they associate their austere religious practices with pleasurable feelings.”

Woman in nun's habit kneels facing away from man in suit, sitting on couh

Isabella and Angelo

The plot revolves around a couple, Claudio and Juliet, who have not properly observed all the rules of engagement and marriage. While the Duke travels through Vienna in disguise as a friar, he hands power over to the judge Angelo, who decides to make an example of Claudio and condemn him to death for fornication. Claudio’s friend Lucia asks Isabella, the novice nun and Claudio’s sister, for help. Angelo offers to free Claudio in exchange for sex with Isabella.
The trio of the Duke, Angelo and Isabella are all ascetics (though none are actually clergy), and are hostile to sexual desires, believing that “pain kills the libido and thus subjecting themselves and others to physical abuse.”

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Dec 312013
 

Let me come clean and say I didn’t finish a draft by the end of 2013, nor am I particularly close. I am closer to completion, having made significant progress by finishing a few chapters. Furthermore, I have a clearer view of the path ahead.

Currently I’m working on the chapter that covers about 1970 to 1990, the post-Stonewall, pre-Internet era. This will cover the rise of aboveground kink organizations like TES, Janus, Samois, LSM and GMSMA, and how they coped with the AIDS crisis and other challenges. One of the interesting dynamics of this period was how the previous generation of gay leathermen interacted with the new crop of straights, bisexuals and lesbians. The post-1970 BDSM culture was built on the infrastructure of leathermen, both their venues and their expertise. Which is not to say that other communities didn’t have their own stories to tell.

In that light, it’s a bit sad that the relationship was always a bit unstable and didn’t last. In the 1980s, the impact of AIDS and the gentrification of leatherman districts in San Francisco and New York City decimated those communities, and straight/bi organizations basically split off from the leatherman culture.

I’m in touch with some of the founders of TES and GMSMA, and they’ve provided some much-appreciated resources. This is also a bit dicey, as I’m describing people who may still be alive. By necessity, this book will be a broad and not particularly deep.

I definitely think I can finish a draft this year, and then start sending queries to agents and publishers.

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