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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Oct 072015
 

Berlatsky, Noah. 2015. Wonder Woman: bondage and feminism in the Marston/Peter Comics, 1941-1948. New Brunswick, New Jersey : Rutgers University Press

Wonder Woman spanking a man in Roman soldier uniform

Wonder Woman spanking a man in Roman soldier uniform

Growing up, I had the notion that Wonder Woman had been created in the past as a perfect feminist icon, and only later was the character sexualized by other creators. In fact, Wonder Woman was “always, already” as much a figure of fetishistic fantasy as she was a feminist role model, patriotic symbol, or heroine for children. The original seven-year run of comics, written or co-written by William Moulton Marston and illustrated by William Peter displayed the kind of deep psychosexual weirdness usually only found in 19th century children’s books. (I say that as a fan of deep psychosexual weirdness.) Noah Berlatsky’s book explores just how queer and feminist those stories were; as the author puts it, “a flamboyantly gendered mess.”[Pg.169] Continue reading »

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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Aug 182012
 

Look at the kink tag on Tenebrous Kate’s blogspot and you’ll find a delightful array of vintage kink, flagellation and bondage material. The only question is where to begin?

Here’s a glimpse into “Le Musee des Supplices” (translation: “The Torture Museum”) by Roland Villeneuve, published 1968.

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Just your daily dose of WTF

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Oct 242011
 

Lois_Lane_73

From the goofier end of the Silver Age comes this little oddity. The image reads a little like a dream, with the dreamer’s aggression directed at the image or effigy of the beloved, instead of the beloved itself, who watches heplessly.

Aug 092011
 

Silk Spectre: Did the costumes make it good?

Silk Spectre: Dan…?

Night-Owl: Yeah.

Night-Owl: Yeah, I guess the costumes had something to do with it. It just feels strange, you know? To come out and admit that to somebody.

Night-Owl: To come out of the closet.

–Alan Moore and Frank Gibbons, Watchmen, Chapter 7, pg. 28

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Apr 202011
 

The Hooded Utilitarian has a series of posts on the deep, deep psychosexual weirdness of the early Wonder Women comics, mainly from a post-Freudian perspective.

wonder woman

The writer argues that Marston’s ideal of “loving submission” is a parent-child relationship, distinct from the usual patriarchal “rule of law”. It isn’t enough to obey the law and keep your own thoughts; you must love your authority figure (shades of the ending of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.)

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The impression I get from reading writer Marston’s stories is instability of roles and relationships. Wonder Woman shifts from dynamic omnipotence to helplessness and back in an instant. In one panel, she’s throwing around war profiteers like they were children, in the next, her mother Queen Hippolyta shows up and lifts her up like she’s a child. Harry Peter’s art accentuates this by playing fast and loose with perspective and scale. In the aforementioned scene, Diana is drawn as if she were child-sized relative to Hippolyta.

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Ideas like this, of sexuality sublimated into fantasies of mind control, hypnosis, disguises, role-playing, transformation and the like, permeated much of popular culture, waiting to give people their first taste of kink.

Mar 212011
 

The promotional website for the book Permanent Obscurity has a brief history of fetish and bondage artist Eric Stanton and his business relationship with Irvine Klaw.

Biographical facts about his life are often contradictory and murky; and sometimes he would contribute to this misinformation personally. There’s even some question of his real name: was he born “Ernest Stanzoni” as claimed in the huge Eric Kroll coffee table book? Or is his birth name “Ernest Stanten,” as claimed by Belier publisher and personal friend and associate, J.B. Rund?

Most of what I know about the sexploitation era and the subgenre of what was then labeled “bizarre,” which today would be assigned fetish culture or kink, I’ve learned through tracking Stanton. He remains, in some strange way, a central figure for me (my own personal Dante) whose life intersected with other curious characters of the day, artists and business people, gangsters and hacks … shadowy and mythologized figures I’ve come to admire and who I never grow tired of hearing about: Irving Klaw, Bettie Page, Gene Bilbrew, Lenny Burtman, Eddie Mishkin, Stanley Malkin…. And then, of course, there’s Steve Ditko, Spider-Man co-creator and Stanton’s friend-as well as his studio mate of 10 years.

(ellipsis in original)

According to this, Stanton would self-publish and self-print his own works with his own photocopier. I’ve always been interesting in the means of production and distribution for works that had such a huge influence on the history of kink, and it seems fitting that so much of it was produced on a shoestring, in a confluence between people who were seeking a market niche and people who were seeking their kink.

PS: I’d be interested to know what Ditko, known for espousing a harsh Objectivist philosophy in his work, would have made of Stanton’s fetish art. Then again, there’s something a bit kinky in Ditko’s Objectivist characters. The Question wore a rubber mask that made him look like he had no facial features at all, just smooth skin. Mr. A, an even harsher character, wore a steel helmet that gave him unmoving, impassive features, as well as steel gloves that locked on. It struck me as fitting that a character so committed to an ideology would go to such extremes in concealing his own humanity and in not having to touch the messy, complicated human world. (Both characters were the inspiration for Rorshach in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen.)