Peter Tupper

Jul 162019
  • 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.
Jul 152019

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.)

Wanda, aka Venus (Maria Rohm)
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Jul 142019

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.

Jo (Jennifer Tilly) has a smoke break outside the Blue Iguana
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Jun 252019

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.

Introduction of Dr. Fu Manchu (Boris Karloff)
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Jun 172019

Jun 162019

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.

Black leather hood of the “Cambridge Rapist”
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Jun 122019

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.

In Severine’s (Catherine Deneuve) fantasy, Pierre (Jean Sorel) oversees the men whipping his wife.
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Jun 102019

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 police raid the establishment of Christine Painter (Julie Walters)
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Jun 052019

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.)

“Fool” (Brandon Quinton Adams) confronts “Daddy” (Everett McGill)
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