Mar 202019
 

High Anxiety (1977) (IMDB) is a comedy film, directed by Mel Brooks, written and directed by Mel Brooks and Ron Clark.

High Anxiety is Mel Brooks’ parody of Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers, which often had some psychosexual weirdness driving their plots. E.g. voyeurism in Rear Window, gender confusion in Psycho, fetishism in Vertigo. In this case, it’s female sadism and male masochism.

Nurse Charlotte Diesel, played by Cloris Leachman
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Mar 162019
 

Cruising (1980) is a thriller directed and written by William Friedkin, based on a novel by Gerald Walker.

William Friedkin, well known for directing The French Connection and The Exorcist, already had history (not necessarily the good kind) with LGBTQ topics when he directed The Boys in the Band (1970), released only a year after Stonewall. Even before it was made, Cruising was controversial, and gay activists repeatedly interfered with the filming. However, the film also included many patrons of gay leather clubs in the club scenes.

Steve (Pacino) slips into the New York leather scene.
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Mar 052019
 

8MM (1999) (IMDB) is a mystery/thriller film directed by Joel Schumacher and written by Andrew Kevin Walker.

Tom Welles (Nicolas Cage) is a private investigator for upper crust clients. An elderly widow, Mrs. Christian, says she found a roll of 8mm film in her late husband’s safe, which appears to document the murder of a young white woman. Wells is skeptical, saying it’s probably fake, but the widow hires him to find the girl.

Welles (Cage) watches the film apparently showing the murder of an unknown girl (Jenny Powell).
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Feb 182019
 

Not all of the works I plan on exploring in The Celluloid Dungeon will have BDSM as a primary or even secondary theme. Some will have BDSM in a single scene or even a single moment.

Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects, a 1989 crime thriller starring Charles Bronson, is not a good film, by most standards. It’s mainly about an older racist cop, Lt. Crowe (Bronson), harassing and brutalizing non-white people in Los Angeles in pursuit of an exploitative pimp, Duke. That story is awkwardly spliced with another story about a Japanese salaryman, Hada, who moves with his wife and two daughters to Los Angeles. Hada’s elder daughter, Fumiko, somewhere in her early teens, is kidnapped, raped multiple times (offscreen, thankfully) and pimped out, before Crowe rescues her.

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Feb 072019
 

Payback (IMDB) is a 1999 neo-noir crime thriller, starring Mel Gibson.

In The Celluloid Closet, Vito Russo talked about the phase of American movies in which queer film characters existed mainly as dramatic or comedic foils to the straight characters. Whether they were swishy nellies or twisted sadists, they were a simple object lesson in proper and improper gender roles. That extends to the present day, though perhaps a little less overt: heroes are associated with heterosexuality, monogamy, vanilla sex, and other normative sexualities, while villains tend towards bisexuality, non-monogamy, and fetishes and kinks.

Pearl (Lucy Liu) stomps on Val, while Porter (Mel Gibson) watches
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Dec 162018
 
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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