The Leather Archives and Museum did an interview with Chuck Renslow who was a major organizer of the gay male Leather Scene going back to 60s.
My apologies for addressing the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey so late. I obtained one copy of the film through admittedly dubious means (let’s just say the text messages are in Spanish), and another in which the subtitles were in originally in, I think, Thai, then covered up by another layer of subtitles in Spanish, and all the explicit sex was cut.
Beyond all that, I could only watch about five minutes at a time. Somebody asked me how I got through the film and I joked, “I kept a fifth of Scotch handy.”
One of the first academics to study the San Francisco gay leather culture, Gayle Rubin, gave a two-part interview at the San Francisco Leathermen’s Discussion Group back in 2012. In particular, she references her classic essays “Elegy for The Valley of the Kings” and “Thinking Sex”.
An assortment of podcast episodes on the history or society and culture of consensual sadomasochism.
An interview with a veteran professional female dominant, Tara Indiana, who talks about the changes in the New York prodomme scene since the 1990s.
A two-part documentary on the idea of consenting to bodily harm, and the ramifications in BDSM as well as in sports and other realms. Includes an interview with Andrea Zanin of Sexgeek.
A short cultural history of professional female dominants.
The second half of this episode is about the mobilization of the kink community in response to the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon.
- 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.
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.
Artist and photographermade 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.
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.
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.”
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.”
I want to give some signal boost to True Stories productions’ documentary-in-progress Black Pervert: the f***ing history of a double minority, both because I like to support BDSM history projects in general, and because POCs deserve more representation and recognition in kink. I look forward to seeing this.