Feb 142014
 

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.”

Woman in nun's habit kneels facing away from man in suit, sitting on couh

Isabella and Angelo

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.”

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Dec 102013
 

Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975) dir. Don Edmonds IMDB Amazon

Arguably the best known Nazisploitation film (though Love Camp 7 (1969) is usually cited as the first), Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS was a US-Canadian production (and shot on the exterior old sets for Hogan’s Heroes, according to one source). It starred Dyanne Thorne as the titular concentration camp commandant, impeccably crisp in a black, white and red SS uniform.

The women sent to Ils’a  camp are divided into two groups. One gets sent to “work details” of serving the men in the guard house. The other gets beaten, electrocuted, boiled, suffocated and more in “experiments” overseen by Ilsa and her female assistants. Ilsa’s ostensible reason for all of this is to demonstrate that women can withstand as much pain as men, and therefore prove that women can serve the Reich by fighting on the front line.

The male prisoners each get one night with Ilsa, after which they’re castrated.

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Nov 162013
 

Though it took longer than I thought, I did finally finish chapter 8, which covers the relationship between fascism/militarism and BDSM, roughly running from WWI to the second Gulf War. This chapter cuts across historical periods quite a bit.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I can’t include everything. Much as I’d like to talk about things like TE Lawrence’s kinks or the psychodynamics of fascism in literature, there just isn’t room. I’m telling a story, and that involves deciding what is and isn’t relevant.

Next is chapter 9, which starts with the post-WWII period (early gay male leather culture, the Klaws, John Willie’s Bizarre) and ends circa 1972 (professionalization of BDSM porn industry, first above-ground BDSM organizations). Structuring this chapter will be a little tricky, as there are several different movements in parallel that only slightly interact with each other.

My goal is to finish some kind of rough draft by the end of the year, which means three chapters plus the introduction and conclusion in a month and a half. That looks pretty daunting, particularly as this is the period that I know the least about.

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Aug 092013
 

Magillow, Daniel H., Bridges, Elizabeth, and Vander Lugt, Kristen T. Nazisploitation! the Nazi image in low-brow cinema and culture. Continuum Books, 2012 Amazon

Nazisploitation, or sadiconazista, is one of the most scorned film genres, and also one of the most complex. The films grouped under that heading may share a common aesthetic but have very different productions and meanings, which this anthology tries to map.

…the standard tropes, settings and narrative conceits of Nazisploitation cinema [include]: sexually perverted, calculating and sadistic Nazi officers, prisoner-of-war and concentration camps, medical experimentation and prisoner rebellions. [Pg.2]

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Mar 172012
 

From the Old Erotic Art Tumblr:

Half-naked women being threatened with head-shaving

This image, presumably the cover of an old men’s adventure magazine from the ’50s or ’60s, is puzzling initially. Why the shaving brush and scissors? Guerilla barbers? This is almost certainly a reference to les femmes tondues. In post-liberation France, women who allegedly collaborated with occupying fascists (especially “horizontal collaboration”) were publicly shaved bald. Like the “Nazi dominatrix” trope, this is the conflation of deviant politics (collaboration) with deviant female sexuality (“slut shaming”). Women are used as ritual scapegoats for a community’s problems (in this case, the legacy of occupation and collaboration in France) and symbolically “killed.” See Frost’s book Sex Drives

Interesting to see women-in-danger in the context of anti-fascist, “good guy” forces like the French resistance. This can be applied to just about any conflict, or to put it another way, any conflict or social anxiety can provide a framing narrative for the scene of woman-in-distress.

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Mar 112012
 

House of Self-Indulgence has a summary of another Nazi-exploitation film, The Gestapo’s Last Orgy, which by its description sounds like a take on The Night Porter. The framing story is two people walking around an abandoned concentration camp, years after the war.

Of course, I’m not saying it should be taken seriously as an accurate account of daily life at your average concentration camp during World War II. However, it’s way more honest and straightforward than the majority of the pro-war propaganda Hollywood has been warping minds with over the past seventy years. Your typical war film, especially the ones that are set during the post-war era, seem to glamourize armed combat, which I find tasteless and obscene. On the other hand, the films that make up the Naziploitation genre have a purity about them. The sole purpose of these films is to shock and offend all those who lack the common sense to stir clear of their wicked glow, and the good ones do so with no apologies.

The driving force of this film seems to be frustrated sadism.

Even though he was eyeballing her while she was being examined by the camp’s doctor and during the slideshow/rape orgy, it’s at the end of the cannibal dinner party that Conrad, and his trusty Luger P08 pistol, finally become acquainted with Lise Cohen and her dogged brand of spiritual fortitude. Frustrated by the fact Lise won’t flinch after repeated attempts to unnerve her (he does everything his drunken Nazi mind can think of to scare her), Conrad decides right then and there that his new mission in life is to make her scream for mercy.

This reminds of earlier discussions about the difference between genuine sadists and “bureaucrats of torture” in totalitarian societies. A bureaucrat just doesn’t care about the other person’s subjective experience. A sadist needs to know he or she is having an impact.

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Sep 112011
 

For a while, I’ve been aware that Nazi imagery pops up in Japanese and Chinese culture every now and then, such as this set of pictures in the Daily Dot. I attribute this not to fascistic tendencies or even ignorance, but a historical and geographical distance so great that swastika armbands and black SS uniforms carry no real semiotic meaning, and signify nothing in particular. They’re just another fashion note, like the Chobits-style ear horns the “bride” wears in the above picture.

Contrary to what you might thing, people in Asia don’t just shrug this off. From the comments to the Chinasmack blog post:

To say you are mentally retarded doesn’t seem appropriate for your age . . . So, in the end I won’t be describing you both but instead wish for you: That the guy will forever remain a virgin, that the girl also forever remain a virgin, that you will be hit by a car when leaving your house, that you will be electrocuted when you bathe, and that for all of your offspring, the boys will from generation to generation forever be slaves, and the girls will from generation to generation forever be whores.

What’s the difference between this and someone wearing a [Imperialist] Japanese military uniform to take photos?

Asshole, your ancestors just rolled over in their graves.

I also wonder if there is some kind of “beautiful loser” thing going on here. We view these signifiers in the context of the defeat of fascism decades ago, so we can see them as signifying tragedy, of good people in bad situations. For example, here’s the Wikipedia plot summary of the “Slipstream” segment of The Cockpit anime:

A disgraced German fighter pilot is assigned to escort a captured American B-17 bomber carrying his childhood sweetheart, her scientist father and a fearsome secret cargo – a Nazi atom bomb. The night before the mission the pilot’s sweetheart begs him to let enemy planes destroy the bomber before the cargo can be used, even though she and her father will die with it. On the next day, After shooting down two of three RAF attackers by using the brand new Ta 152, the pilot allows the third Spitfire to destroy the bomber.

Here’s an inherently dramatic situation, a character torn between duty and humanitarian concerns, opening up the possibility of masochistic sacrifice and redemption in annihilation.

You could also see this as a way of Japanese people thinking about their nation’s legacy as a defeated, surrendered power by displacing the narrative onto another defeated military power, Nazi Germany.

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Jul 272011
 

Nude woman bound to tree, nude man standing nearby, black and white

Back in 2004, German novelist Thor Kunkel claimed that he had discovered a secret chapter in the secrets-filled history of pornography: porn produced in Nazi Germany. From UK newspaper The Guardian:

Before submitting his manuscript to his publisher last summer, Kunkel had researched long and hard into one of the most subterranean aspects of the Nazi era – a series of erotic home movies known as the Sachsenwald films, shot secretly in 1941. Officially, pornography was forbidden under the Nazis; in reality, however, the films were not only screened privately for the amusement of senior Nazi figures, but were also traded in north Africa for insect repellent and other commodities.

Kunkel discovered two of the black and white films – the pastoral Desire in the Woods and The Trapper. In one of them, a man ties a naked woman to a tree. Incredibly, Kunkel tracked down the actress some 60 years after her woodland nude scene, living in an old people’s home outside Hamburg. “I found her via a photographer who had known her since she was 14, when she posed for nude photographs,” Kunkel says.

The 83-year-old was slightly taken aback by the novelist’s visit, but agreed to help. She could recall only two “polite, charming men” who approached her outside a tobacconist’s kiosk in Berlin. The men had driven her and her sister in a black Opel Admiral – the saloon car favoured by the Gestapo – to the woods outside Hamburg. There she had disrobed.

“She told me she and her sister had had a threesome with a man. I found this a bit surprising,” Kunkel says. The novelist never did discover who the director of the film was, but he used the movies as the framework for his 622-page manuscript, which his publisher, Rowohlt, had originally lauded as a “packed, minutely researched portrait of morbid Nazi society … and the demise of the Third Reich.”

Kunkel also interviewed 57 elderly German soldiers who had served with Erwin Rommel in north Africa, where much of the novel is set. They confirmed what he already suspected – that during the second world war, the German military traded Nazi pornography with the locals. The Sachsenwald films even ended up in the hands of the Bey of Tunis, a regent with a legendary collection of pornography. “It was the thing the locals were most interested in. In return, the soldiers got food, water and supplies,” Kunkel says.

There seems to be very little about these films, at least in English, and this whole thing might turn out to be a fabrication or exaggeration.

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