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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Nov 142017
 

Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman (2017). Director and writer Angela Robinson. IMDB

Who was Professor William Moulton Marston? A fantasist in the tradition of Frank Baum or Lewis Carrol? A guy who ruled a secret menage a trois with his wife and his younger student? A failed academic turned huckster and pornographer with a line in psychobabble? A loving father and husband with an unorthodox, closeted family?

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Oct 242017
 

Still from the film. Central is Bella Heathcote as Olive Byrne. In the background is JJ Field as Charles Guyette.

Still from the film. Central is Bella Heathcote as Olive Byrne. In the background is JJ Field as Charles Guyette.

[The film Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017, dir. Angela Robinson) is a “based on true events” story of William Moulton Marston, the two women he lived with, his interest in bondage, and how all of that influenced his superheroine creation, Wonder Woman. The film includes scenes in the 1930s in which Marston meets Charles Guyette, an early pioneer of fetish/BDSM media in the USA. While Marston definitely had an interest in bondage and fetishes, I was skeptical that meeting had actually occurred. I asked Richard Pérez Seves, a fellow kinky historian, and author of a biography and photo collection of Guyette, if this had happened.]

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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.

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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Sep 242012
 


Roman Scandals is a 1933, pre-Hays code musical starring Eddie Cantor and featuring elaborate set piece dance number choreographed by Busby Berkeley. Presumably a parody of Biblical and/or classical Hollywood pictures like The Sign of the Cross (1932), Scandals gives up any pretense of drama and goes straight to the sexual decadence. The means dance numbers on elaborate sets performed by dozens or even scores of women dressed identically (the “Goldwyn Girls”, including a young Lucille Ball). If you want to have large numbers of scantily clad women moving around in a situation of high drama, you can’t go wrong with a slave market or auction scene.

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Aug 192012
 

Amputee fetish site Overground.be has a collection of amputee fetish and letters published in London Life magazine, running from 1924 to 1941 and most signed “Wallace Stort”. Some of the letters also concerned prosthetic limbs, orthopedic boots, crutches and other devices. These were published alongside other types of fetish letters and stories.

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May 102012
 

Gloria Brame posted scans from “Legs and Attitudes“, a leg fetish magazine published in July 1930, Paris.

1930s images of woman sitting and showing her stockings

In 1930, women’s legs and lower bodies were a relatively recent discovery, having been hidden away in Western fashion for centuries. The photos posted seem based on the idea of glimpsing a stocking top or bare thigh in an unguarded moment (in a boudoir, after tripping on the street, a woman carelessly sitting to let her skirt slip), not a brazen display.

Mar 082012
 

The Au carrefour étrange blog has several scans of vintage bondage and flagellation erotica from France. One of them is Les Confidences de Chérubin by G. Donville, originally published in 1939 and featuring beautiful spanking, lingerie and maid illustrations by Cheri Horouard, aka Herric.

Maid in uniform spanking young woman in bed

This is a great reissue the less fortunate will be able to buy, for lack of the original edition that not only is rare but does not approach within 100 euros you.
In addition to this text very pleasant, originally published by the great Jean Fort (Nettles White etc..), Whose narrator, Peter Thiverny tells, from initiation to sensual pleasure in voyeurism (parents) and the discovery of female buttocks (the young Monique and her swing) to various sexual practices including spanking with many companions of passage, and more so, this beautiful edition reproduces illustrations from the original edition (1939) Cheri Herouard (signed Herric).

[via Google Translate]

Man in turban and chains kissing foot of woman in quasi-Oriental headdress

While most of the illustrations are set in the present day, the one above indulges in Orientalist fantasy with the appropriate props.