Lasting Marks is a short documentary on the infamous Operation Spanner case, in which gay men in 1980s Britain were arrested and tried for consensual sadomasochism. I should point out that the documentary is mostly scans of newspaper articles and legal documents, with a voiceover interview with one of the accused.
One of the best things about subcultures is that it is possible to meet all of the major people involved in them. In the case of the micro-field of sadomasochism history studies, it’s possible to get the leading people sitting around a single table.
I was deeply honored to be sitting at the same table as the people whose work I had read and built on for many years: sexologist & Center for Sex & Culture ED Carol Queen, academic & activist Gayle Rubin, ONYX founder & Mr World Leather 2006-07 Mufasa Ali, anthropologist & historian Dr. Robert Bienvenu, and academic & author Rostum Mesli. The shoot was at the Catalyst playspace in San Francisco.
The shoot took about seven hours, including lunch breaks, but all of it was fascinating. A lot of the discussion revolved around what exactly BDSM was, and what wasn’t BDSM, and whether certain activities and cultures grouped together really had anything to do with each other. This also raised the question of, when we looked into the past to find antecedents of modern BDSM (whatever that is), do we find anything, or do we see something else that only superficially resembles modern BDSM but isn’t actually. A lot of my thinking on the subject was put to the test, in a dialog that refined everybody’s thoughts.
It was also just a pleasure hanging out with people who have lived through some of what I have been studying. Not only did I meet Carol Queen and Gayle Rubin, one of the producers was Race Bannon.
My thanks to Race Bannon, Jörg Fockele and the other producers. I look forward to further developments in the Divine Deviance documentary series. Donations would be greatly appreciated.
Dressing For Pleasure is a 1977 25-minute documentary directed by John Samson, who made a career out of films about outsider topics (e.g. tattoos, competitive darts, the sexual lives of disabled people).
For a while, I’ve seen references to a 1980 documentary about kinky people, aired on public television station KQED. Online searches turned up nothing, but I finally put in the effort to look up KQED and see if I could somehow get access to it, if only partially. After a few emails, they were kind enough to give me access to a stream of the 36-year-old documentary. I had to sign a fairly restrictive agreement, so I can’t share any of it.
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.
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.
A short video on the great gay male artist known as Tom of Finland, whose impact on all BDSM art, not just gay male art, is immense.
TLC: Year with a Leather Club (1996) is a documentary film just released totally for free under a Creative Commons license.
The documentary, produced in 1993-96, looks at the Tarheel Leather Club, a Greensboro, North Carolina based leather/sm organization involved in community education, fundraising, political awareness and mutual spport among LGBT fetishists. The documentary was mastered for DVD from an original Hi-8 master of the work and runs approximately 80 minutes. It is unrated, but recommended for mature audiences.
You can view more supplementary materials, interviews and information about the documentary at http://www.coolcatdaddy.com/. This documentary and dvd image are copyright (c) 1996-2009 by Randy A. Riddle and the Tarheel Leather Club.
Graphic Sexual Horror (2009), dir. Barbara Bell, Anna Lorentzon IMDB
“I’m looking for something that’ll… break through, you know?” Videodrome, 1982, dir. David Cronenberg
In the mid-90s, bondage photography was still stuck in the glamor-based, damsel-in-distress style mode that Harmony Concepts had been putting out since the 1970s.
Then came the notorious website Insex.com, hardcore bondage shoots that owed more to crime scene photos than Helmut Newton. Insex was also new in that it was designed for the web: downloadable clips instead of mail-order DVDs, and live chats. It was created, almost on a whim, by PD, also known as Brent, who cited his experiences during a tour in Vietnam, when he saw a bondage show in a Japanese nightclub. He also cited his bondage-influenced performance pieces.