Aug 192019
 
  • Vice has a photo essay on the latex dominatrixes and fetishists of Russia.
  • The deceased alleged child molester Jeffrey Epstein purchased multiple books on BDSM slavery via Amazon, including SlaveCraft: Roadmaps for Erotic Servitude by Guy Baldwin, SM 101: A Realistic Introduction by Jay Wiseman, and Training with Miss Abernathy: A Workbook for Erotic Slaves and Their Owners by Christina Abernathy. (Rolling Stone, The Cut) Once again, we kinksters have to explain that just because abusers claim some link to consensual BDSM, it doesn’t indict BDSM as a whole.
  • A female dominant describes how she sees herself reflected in porn and mainstream media, and it’s not flattering. “What I gleaned from this and pornography is that femdomming was a very specific thing based on coercion, humiliation, and exploitation.” Medium
  • Slate has an article on the Chinese bondage community, and its struggles in a deeply conservative and heavily surveilled state. “BDSM and bondage are not illegal per se, but China’s laws are vague, and wording like ‘public promiscuity’ in Section 301 of the criminal code can be interpreted in many ways.”
  • Andrea Zanin, aka SexGeek, wrote an essay on a kind of internalized respectability politics among kinksters, with scene players being suspicious towards lifestylers. “…over the decades of kink’s further mainstreaming, what’s happened is that kink hobbyists have drastically multiplied, and perhaps because of those numbers, many of them now see themselves as safer, saner and more consensual than full-timers because of what they perceive as built-in healthy limits on what they do.”
  • Cools magazine has an interview with model Kimberly Mae that covers how latex fetishism has moved from Fetlife to Instagram. “Around five years ago an online migration in the fetish community began. Due to data breaches and other reasons, many visual fetishists (think rubber, leather, shibari, etc.) moved away from the Fetlife platform and on to Instagram. I think because we have so much more visibility on Instagram, particularly the latex style is becoming more and more mainstream.”
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.
Jun 172019
 

May 232019
 
Apr 172019
 
Mar 162019
 
  • Cleo Dubois has been involved in the BDSM community going back to the 1980s, and also a major player in the body modification/modern primitive community, not to mention married to the late Fakir Musafar. The Mike Mantell Show podcast has an in depth interview with her.
  • The Advocate has a set of rare photos from a 1962 gay motorcycle club event.
  • Iceland’s entry for the 2019 Eurovision song contest is Hatari, a self-described “anti-capitalist techno BDSM band”. They had retired for failing to destroy capitalism. Now, they’re back, and they’ve challenged the Prime Minister of Israel to an Icelandic wrestling match for the right to found “the first ever Hatari sponsored liberal BDSM colony” on Israeli soil. From Pink News.
  • The Imaginary Worlds podcast has a profile of Margaret Brundage, 1930s pulp magazine cover artist, many of which had sadomasochistic themes.
  • They say every generation has its sexual awakening movie. According to this Indiewire article, Millennials were taught sex positivity by Cruel Intentions (1999). “Millennials may be having less sex than previous generations, but we are talking about and embracing kink, BDSM, role play, and queerness with an openness and lack of judgment that is irreversibly influencing media and culture for the next generation.”
  • More changes in San Francisco’s landscape could squeeze out the city’s leather district, which was and still is the major incubator of the greater BDSM culture. The Catalyst will have to find new space by the end of 2019. This comes after designating the leather district and setting aside a leather pride mini-park. I fear that in a decade all that will be left will be the monuments and memorials, while the living heart will be gone.
  • In NYC, Charlotte Taillor’s kink collective and residence has run afoul of objections from her neighbors in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. New York Times, Gothamist, New York Daily News.
Feb 162019
 
  • I’m old enough to remember how different and exciting the Internet was in the 1990s. So does Violet Blue, who lays out just much has changed for the worse since then, especially with the censoring of Tumblr last year. “I can tell you for a fact that Tumblr helped a generation of frightened, isolated kids trying to figure out their sexual identity.” Her essay on Engadget.
  • David Wraith has an overview of how terrible the SESTA/FOSTA laws are, stifling freedom of expression on sexual matters while subjecting sex workers to greater danger.
  • On the brighter side, England has reviewed its obscenity laws and a number of kinks, including spanking, BDSM, and female ejaculation, are now okay in porn, as long as they are shown as consensual.
  • Kink Guidelines is a project “to explore what constitutes clinical best practices in working with those who are interested and/or involved in kink, BDSM, and/or fetish eroticism.
  • The city leaders of San Francisco have approved the construction of Eagle Plaza, a small park commemorating the Eagle bar’s contribution to the LGBTQ and leather/kink cultures.
  • Lupercalia, the ancient Roman festival that loosely corresponds to Valentine’s Day, was known for men playfully whipping women “believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy”, according to Plutarch. Today, whipping rituals are a part of fertility festivals in parts of Europe, Mexico and Asia. From Vice.
  • Even though Walmart, regular drugstores and other mainstream retailers now stock vibrators and other sex toys, sex products are still caught up in controversy. Producers risk rejection from retailers, payment processors, crowdsourcing platforms, and advertising venues. Sex toys have to toe the line of being for “health and wellness”, not for pleasure, which would be prurient. The Verge has more.
  • Puppyplay for gay kinksters seems to be on the rise lately, and Slate has a profile of a San Francisco polyamorous pack.
  • Kerrang has a list of BDSM-themed songs, including the classic “Venus in Furs” by Velvet Underground.
Jan 222019
 
  • The Divine Deviance documentary, in which I am a contributor, is holding another round of fundraising. Even a small contribution can help make this valuable documentary possible.
  • The University of Guelph is running an anonymous survey on kinky people and their relationships.
  • In the UK, BDSM is still technically illegal, ever since the case of Brown 1993, also known as the Operation Spanner case. Samantha Pegg, a criminal law lecturer, discusses the possible legal reform regarding BDSM, while still emphasizing that consent should not negate all legal liability.
  • Cosmopolitan UK has a frank discussion of a woman’s involvement in BDSM as a way of processing her earlier rape.
  • Narratively has a feature on an AA meeting held in the basement of a fetish shop in NYC, and addresses the difficulty of kinky people hiding or revealing their kink in therapy or recovery settings. Starting in the 1950s, Alcoholics Anonymous refused to list gay meetings in their literature. This policy did not change until 1974. It’s also important to remember that a lot of NYC kink venues in the 1980s had a lot of liquor and drugs around.
  • Modern Meadow is a biotech company pioneering a kind of artificially-grown leather. Instead of a plastic like pleather, this is an organic material grown in a factory. This has several advantages over conventional leather production: less environmental impact from caustic substances, less animal cruelty, and it can be grown in large sheets to order. How this compares to conventional leather in terms of fetish or fashion remains to be seen. “Modern Meadow is not… actually out to ape leather. Rather, the firm’s aim is to produce a new material in its own right, complete with brand name.” The company’s line of materials is called Zoa. Perhaps some future generation of fetishists will prefer it to leather.
  • Slave Play, by Jeremy O. Harris, is a dramatic look at possibly the most emotionally and culturally charged form of kink: raceplay. Three couples (two hetero, one gay male) flipflop between antebellum fantasies of racial domination and modern scenes of couples arguing. Interview with the playwright (video)
  • We’re facing a new rising tide of online censorship in online communities like Tumblr and Facebook. Gloria Brame has a few tips on surviving this. Race Bannon discusses how, like it or not, social networks like Tumblr and Facebook have replace physical gathering spaces for connecting, organizing and discussing our sexualities. The moral panic over sex trafficking has led to SESTA/FOSTA and the subsequent restrictions on social networks, as covered by Cookie Cyboid on Medium.
  • The mainstreaming of (a heteronormative subset of) kink in the form of Fifty Shades Darker coincided with Fetlife deleting a large amount of images and groups, and Kink.com moving out of the Armory building in San Francisco. MEL magazine covers the economic and social fortunes of the kink world.
  • Waterboarding as a form of torture goes back at least to the Spanish Inquisition, but I would hazard there’s been an increased interest from the kink community in the last couple of decades. It’s been banned by the United Nations and classified as torture by the UN, and the US government has forbidden it. That adds an additional element of taboo to this technique, which would explain its popularity with certain edge players. It’s also more dangerous than some people think. Rolling Stone covers the controversy.
Dec 162018
 
Nov 192018
 
  • Fetish art master Eric Stanton had a daughter, Amber Stanton, who is an artist in her own right.
  • Speaking of Stanton, I just got Richard Péres Seves’ new biography of him, and it looks great. Here’s the review on The Fetishistas.
  • The Sexing History podcast has an episode on the new medium of phone sex in the early 1980s. One of the topics the interviewees discuss was that for a lot of gay men in the period, who weren’t in major cities, this was the first chance to talk to another man about their sexuality. This probably also helped people who had kinky, non-normative sexualities like BDSM and fetishes too.
  • On a related note, the Wellcome Collection has a display of the 1980s UK practice of phone booth sex work solicitation cards. Just over half of them included BDSM services.
  • A few months before the launch of A Lover’s Pinch, I got a call from the NPR show Radiolab. They asked me about the evolution of ideas of consent in BDSM, and while they didn’t use any of my interview, I did get a “thank you” in the episode notes of their three-part series on sexual consent (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). I was puzzled by one of the interviewees in the third part talking about how she was reluctant to use a “red” safeword in a public scene even if the situation called for it, because it could lead to her top being ostracized even if there was no negligence or malice. I had always understood that calling “red” does not necessarily mean the top did anything wrong; it could be because the bottom is experiencing something unexpected.
  • In New Zealand, which has much more liberal laws regarding sex work than the USA or Canada, sex workers are taking the lead in teaching about consent.
  • Aeon.co has a more in-depth discussion of sexual consent.
  • Kinkly provides another, going back to 1990.
  • One of the things I’m curious about is BDSM in non Western cultures. Desiblitz has a profile of Asmi, an Indian submissive female. I don’t have the cultural context to assess this in detail, but I am curious about how Asmi’s submissive desires interacts with a culture with more traditional views of female roles.
  • Paste magazine has a list of BDSM mainstream films, including a few I hadn’t even heard of but sound interesting for the Celluloid Dungeon project.
  • Dazed magazine has another list of sexually experimental films, though only some could be described as “kinky.”
  • Gloria Brame’s Educators Directory just posted the Mistress Michelle Peters collection of vintage BDSM photography, pulled from straight and gay magazines from the 1960s to the 1990s. Most of them don’t have dates or identifications of the people in them, but definitely a source for future research.
  • With all the talk of mainstreaming kink and BDSM, in mass media products, it’s easy to lose track of BDSM’s queer radical history and revolutionary potential. When Pat Bond, Terry Kolb, Cynthia Slater and others were putting together the first modern kink organizations in the early 1970s, there were pretty far from what most people would have considered “normal.” Slate has a short essay on the innovations made by kink communities and their value in a heteronormative, vanilla-normative society.