Oct 232018
 

Bettie Page with camera and photographer

Now that A Lover’s Pinch is out, I want to continue working. It’s not the only book on BDSM I want to write. While I don’t have any response from a publisher yet, I want to get to work on my next product, The Celluloid Dungeon. Students of queer film and history will doubtless notice the resemblance to the title of the classic book, Vito Russo’s The Celluloid Closet. I hope this will do the same for BDSM in film (primarily American).

There are a few problems to consider. First, I would like to have a lot of images in this book, but I run into two problems. First, getting the rights to film images via Getty or other services can be very expensive. Whether I self-publish or go through a publisher, I’ll have to pay for that myself.

Second, a lot of very old images, such as from the silent era, may or may not be in public domain, and good luck finding who owns the rights to them. For instance, I’d like to use stills from the old Irving Klaw bondage stags, featuring Bettie Page, but I’m not sure if they’re public domain or who owns the rights if they’re not.

Images are not essential to a work like this, but I think they would increase the customer appeal.

I also need to work on a clear thesis that will help organize the material.

Jun 182018
 

What are the sartorial origins of the black-clad dominatrix? I will skip the more familiar examples from recent years and try to find the earlier examples.

Certainly everyone will remember Diana Rigg as Mrs. Emma Peel (“Miss SM Appeal”) in the UK spy TV series The Avengers. Her most overtly kinky costumes were features in the episodes “A Touch of Brimstone” and “Death at Bargain Prices.”

Woman in black leather suit with zippers

Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in The Avengers, wearing the leather jumpsuit costume from “Death at Bargain Prices”

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Dec 152017
 

Tom of Finland (2017). Directed by Dome Karukoski, written by Aleksi Bardy and Dome Karukoski. IMDB

I only know the broad outlines of the life of Touko Laaksonen‘s, AKA Tom of Finland, so I can’t attest to the historical accuracy of this film. It is definitely a biopic, not a documentary.The film spans a considerable span of time, from Laaksonen’s furtive outdoor experiences during WWII to his celebrity in HIV-era America.

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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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Jun 072016
 

Lying somewhere on the boundary between affectionate fetishism and domestic violence, spankings between lovers or would-be lovers were a staple of Hollywood romance movies. Jezebel has a pictorial and essay on the subject, by Andrew Heisel. This was reflected in real-life practices of the time, when husbands were expected to treat their lives like children.

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Mar 152016
 
  • An article (part 1, part 2, part 3) on a body modifications blog covered an alleged Victorian fad for nipple piercing. The source is letters published in correspondence columns in magazines, which as we have seen in the Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine and others, are questionable to say the least. They’re more indicative of interest and fantasies than actual practice.
  • Jahsonic’s list of sadism and masochism in mainstream film brought me to Senses of Cinema’s article “Whips and Bodies: The Sadean Cinematic text” by Lindsay Hallam, on the influence of Sade’s work on film. “It was Surrealist Luis Buñuel who first introduced Sade into the cinematic realm. In the 1930 film L’Âge d’or, Buñuel chose to end his tale of erotic passion with a scene taken from Sade’s novel The 120 Days of Sodom. The scene takes place after the male protagonist has been betrayed by the woman he loves – that is, normal, heterosexual romance has failed. In fact, as the intertitles state, it is at “that moment” of betrayal that “the survivors of the Chateau de Selliny were coming out, to go back to Paris”. The intertitles further explain that: “Four well known and utter scoundrels had locked themselves up in an impregnable castle for 120 days to celebrate the most brutal of orgies”.”
  • Another short history of bondage imagery in mainstream film and history, mostly damsel-in-distress-type stuff.
  • Conspiracy theorist and professional crank Alex Jones was inspired by the debut of Caitlin Jenner to spit out this bizarre claim about the transabled sub-sub-culture: “Or they like to get shot,” Jones said, “With .357 magnums through up under the chest, but missing the heart to blow a huge shrapnel hole in the back, and those are real sexy supposedly… This is the new big push and you’re not cool enough to understand how wonderful it is to be shot with a .357 magnum or how cool the bullet holes are… It’ll become sanctified. It’ll become a religion.”
  • The contract Leopold von Sacher-Masoch had with Fanny Pistor, compared to the contract from Venus in Furs.
  • Bitch Media covers the history of anti-abuse activism in BDSM, specifically the conflict over Fetlife’s policy against accusing people of abuse.
  • A short, anonymous history of Numa Shozo’s masochistic novel Yapoo the Human Animal.
  • Annalspornographie has a three-part article (part 1, part 2, part 3) on the life and work of the Marquis de Sade, including some vintage images.