Apr 152013

Pleasure from MARC CAMPBELL on Vimeo.

Despite Vimeo attributing it to Marc Campbell, IMDB lists it as Dressing for Pleasure (1977) directed by John Samson and Mike Wallington, about the 1970s UK leather/rubber/latex scene. Including interviews with John Sutcliffe of Atomage fame, and a clerk at McLaren-Westwood’s SEX shop.

I like the framing device of the models posing in and around a giant book printed, as if the people in the photos and illustrations of something like John Willie’s Bizarre or an Atomage catalogue magically came to life.

Mar 032013

Here’s a blog post on the work of artist Allen Jones, best known in kink circles for his sculptures of women as furniture (aka “forniphilia”), but also a designer of fetish attire.

The sculptures appeared in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, and Jones also designed some costumes for the film that weren’t used.

Dec 172012

Paul Gormanis’ blog has complete (albeit low-res) scans of a feature from a 1976 Forum (a UK adult magazine) which profiled the proto-kink store SEX founded by punk leaders Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood.

Four women and one man, posing in a row with bare buttocks and

Photo detail (from left): SEX customers Danielle, Alan Jones + Chrissie Hynde; Vivienne Westwood; assistant Jordan.

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Sep 202012

Comics Alliance has an essay by Sarah Horrocks on Guido Crepax’s trippy bondage/erotica comic Bianca.  Crepax is probably best known outside of Italy as the artist of the Story of O and Emmanuelle comics adapations.

Like Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie’s Lost Girls, Bianca is more obsessed with artistic execution than with sexually arousing its audience. In fact, I think that for the most part, Bianca fails as porn. Indeed, if it were more successful as porn, it would probably be in print in English.

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Jun 262012

Being Canadian, I’m always interested in Canada’s contributions to the sexual edge of culture. I was delighted to stumble across the story of Justice Weekly, a true crime tabloid newspaper published in Canada that frequently included fetish letters. “…popular topics were discipline, punishment and humiliation of males (especially ‘errant husbands’ and spoiled post-adolescent children) by authoritarian/domineering females, transvestites and authority figures such as school principals, judges and law-enforcement officials.”


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Apr 112012

Two women in fetish clothing, one bound

The Seduction of Venus blog has a more detailed discussion of Penthouse magazine’s first BDSM pictorial in the February 1976 issue. It includes some unpublished photos from the same shoot.

Taking a very different approach to the likes of Jeff Dunas’ and Earl Miller’s location-based, soft-focus romanticism he [photographer Stan Malinowski] posed his unnamed models in a studio with just a standard studio backdrop and bright, even harsh, lighting.


The text, as it is, consists of a number of four line verses of poetry (you can see some examples further down) which are very much themed on the idea of one woman inflicting pain on the other. No lovey-dovey “friends who became lovers mush” or, indeed, any suggestion that really the ladies, of course, prefer men, as most of the other girl/girl sets suggested. So the text is as radical for Penthouse, as the pictures.

While it may be a bit of a stretch to associate Penthouse with progressive views of female sexuality, this pictorial and its accompanying text at least breaks with the idea of female-female sex as an adjunct to heterosexuality or associated with pastoralism and coy “friends become lovers” narratives. Despite apparent reader approval, Penthouse did not take a turn to the hardcore after this.

This is obviously a much more professional piece of work than was probably common in BDSM porn of the time, and also in a publication that had a much wider distribution and larger readership than your typical under-the-counter bondage magazine. It may have been the first-encounter for a lot of people.

Sep 132010

This personal account comes for VioletWanda, posted on Fetlife as Violet_Wanda (reposted with permission):

I lived and traveled in Europe for several years [1976-1980] and while in Germany, married a very kinky gentleman who introduced me to S&M. The only place to find the toys, the tools, or the experiences, were through specialty operations in the red light districts. That’s right, you PAID. You paid to receive from a pro, you paid to rent a space or a room or a cabin, you paid to rent or buy the toys to do to someone. The sex trade was (and is) legal in certain areas and S&M was an inseparable part and parcel of the sex trade.

Not every op catered to S&M but you only had to ask around to find those who did, and it wasn’t hush-hush or dark or requiring passwords or rituals or secret knocks on doors. All it took was cash and you could be participating or watching, doing to or having done to. You could fulfill any fetish, including those very touchy ones illegal here (though they are cracking down on those too in Europe now) and the extreme ones that are on very few ‘DS limit lists’. There was no separation of areas of the sex trade; gay sex, escort service, prostitution, pornography filming and theaters, virgin bidding, kink from scat to scarring, dwarfs, amputees and animals–all were under one big umbrella and all could be easily found within the zoned areas if you wanted to. You literally walked down the streets in the zoned areas..sometimes in smaller cities there was just a red light on a building exterior. In larger ones it looked like any other party district where crowds bar-hop and bouncers stand at the doors, sounds spilling out into the streets. You entered, and there was always a bar with overpriced drinks to entice you while you waited. You discussed what you wanted, agreed on a price, introduced to the person or people participating in your experience, and went into mazes of (often) not-quite-hidden back rooms meant to entice you to new experiences (and new ways to dispose of your discretionary income). I chatted often with waiting prostitutes who were as curious about me as I was about them.

My worst experience..a cold quonset hut beside a small airstrip in southern Germany where they were doing scat behind flimsy partitions. My best..a very nice place in Amsterdam that was better and cleaner than most high end hotels. My longest lasting..In Frankfurt I saw my first violet ray (violet wand grandparent) and I was hooked on electricity! I brought two German violet rays back to the US with me. One I still have, the other I broke down to learn how to make them, and make them stronger and safer.

I had a vanilla marriage in between and when I resurfaced after the vanilla divorce circa 1995, there was this ‘BDSM’ in the US which was touted as a lifestyle or relationship model and separate from the sex trade. It makes sense to me, having seen Europe’s end, that servicemen who enjoyed Europe’s RL districts and were able to freely engage in everything from gay sex to sado-masochism without reproach or reprisal, may have brought a little of those experiences or influence back with them to a less enlightened society.

I think the basis that made the short-lived ‘European houses myth’ possible is probably rooted in Amsterdam. There are places that are very high-end that look like fine homes with no outward indication that they are businesses. They cater to a more discerning and affluent clientele. No secret handshakes though; just more money.

VioletWanda’s account doesn’t mention any non-commercial BDSM culture in late 1970s Europe. We know that the Society of Janus and TES started in the early 1970s in America, so there must have been a non-commercial BDSM culture in the US. (Or rather, a non-commercial culture in parallel/symbiosis to the commercial one.)

Fetish Diva Midori once reported that the non-commercial BDSM culture, of munches and non-profit groups and so on, doesn’t really exist in Japan. Such a culture, Midori speculated, is a product of the North American do-it-yourself, third-place ethos. Perhaps the same thing is in effect in Europe?

There’s a long historical pattern of Europe having a somewhat more relaxed attitude to sex and sex work, relative to the UK and USA, going back to the mid 19th century. (However, don’t forget that this image is perpetuated by travelers taking the opportunity to cut loose in foreign climes.)

VioletWanda also reports that BDSM activities weren’t a separate subset of the sex trade, which squares with some other observations I’ve collected over the years.

Likewise, the “secret BDSM heterotopia/European houses” myth goes back at least to the days of The Mysteries of Verbena House in 1882, if not earlier. VioletWanda does provide a good explanation of a real world phenomena (high-end European brothels) that contributed to this myth.

Violet Wanda has also written a short history of the violet wand, from quack cure-all to sex toy.