Feb 212012

One of my favourite podcasts, the Masocast, has an interview with Domina Irene Boss. Boss has been involved in both the pro Domme scene and the BDSM video scene for a long time, and has good historical insights on both fields. She was in both at the ground floor, and was able to vacation in Hawaii from the proceeds of her DVD sales. These days, particularly after the advent of Clips 4 Sale, the video market is so diversified that this isn’t possible anymore.

She also has some inside knowledge of the Other World Kingdom in the Czech Republic, which is about as close to “the Club” or “the Marketplace” or “the Network” as we’re ever going to get in real life.

Feb 282011

Dart’s Domain has a two-part podcast (part 1, part 2) interview with Laura Antoniou, author of the Marketplace series, among other things.

Antoniou seems to be in the awkward position of being forced to debunk the myth she had a large part in reproducing, though not creating.

She also talks about the myth of the Old Guard, criticizing the belief there was an elaborate hierarchy of initiation for gay male leathermen back in the 50s and 60s, and especially critiquing the idea that this way of doing kink, if it ever existed, should be regarded as an ideal today.

What the myth of the Marketplace, and institutions like it, says to me is that a lot of people yearn for initiation. They want somebody out there to recognize their innate specialness, give them the Call to Adventure straight out of Joseph Campbell, and be swept off to the Realm of Magic. It’s what drives Harry Potter and Twilight and The Matrix. While I’m hardly an expert on the Marketplace, I get the impression that Antoniou wrote it in part to critique that myth and ended up promoting it.

Oct 202010

The latest Overthinking It podcast (start at the 30 minutes mark) tangentially ties into the history of BDSM when they discuss the Jackass 3D movie and its relationship to the tradition of mortification of the flesh, which also mentions the Mondo sub-genre of exploitation film and the idea that what we see in the Jackass franchise is really only a pale, watered down of what you can see in the real modern primitive/body modification/shock carnival culture.

This struck me as a parallel to the idea that you can see lots of BDSM/fetish influences in fashion, music videos and so forth, but it’s still toned down and made acceptable to the mainstream. It means there’s still such a thing as alternative culture. (I was made aware of this when I was told that, during my former tenure as communications coordinator for a local BDSM organization, I chose poster designs that were too edgy for our avowed purpose of outreach to new people.)

Nov 272009

Graydancer’s Ropecast has another interview with Master K (starting about 24 minutes in), with some recently uncovered skinny on Nikkatsu, a Japanese film studio that, faced with financial difficulties in the 1970s, turned to big budget, high production value, softcore porn features. These “roman porn” movies were a contrast to the small budget, independently-made “pinku eiga” movies.

Naomi Tani, portraying tattooed Asian woman in bondage


Many of these films were BDSM-themed, and Nikkatsu recruited pinku eiga star Naomi Tani, bringing her to a much bigger audience.

Apr 122008

Graydancer’s Ropecast includes part one of an interview with Master K, who provides the most plausible account I’ve found so far of the history of Japanese bondage (shibari or kinbaku) and its relationship to the Western/American BDSM tradition. K says there was a cross-pollination between John Willie, of Bizarre fame, and the Japanese bondage subculture in the early 1950s, with Willie’s books being distributed in Japan (legally or by piracy?) and Willie having access to books and magazines from Japan. He also says the modern Japanese bondage culture grew out of several influences: kabuki theatre, the military tying technique of hojojutsu, the use of tying as a form of physical and psychosocial torture, the use of tying in many other aspects of Japanese culture, including religion. It makes more sense to me that it would come from multiple sources, and go through an evolution that parallels the Western sadomasochistic tradition.

When non-Japanese talk Japanese rope bondage, the discourse often revolves around issues of authenticity, and there’s a certain jockeying for status in who has the most access and understanding of the “real” thing, complicated by the distance, language barrier and general insularity of Japan. It’s hard to separate this from Orientalist discourse of the erotic, exotic Far East. Graydancer makes a point of sidestepping this issue by calling what he does “Japanese-style rope bondage”

Addendum: Part 2 of the Master K interview

Addendum: Now the complete Master K interview has been posted.