Preaching to the Perverted (IMDB) is a 1997 romantic comedy written and directed by Stuart Urban, starring Guinevere Turner and Christian Anholt.
Preaching has a lot of similarities to Exit to Eden. Both are romantic comedies that try to present BDSM to the mainstream. Both feature dominant women who are rulers of kinky realms (with female aides de camp) who have difficulty opening up to intimacy until a special man comes along.
Preaching is a superior film in many ways. There’s no extraneous MacGuffin plot grafted on. Exit tried too hard to soft-pedal kink for a mainstream audience, and barely showed anything. This film has lots of different kink activities and more queer content. It at least considers the political realm, as the police and government act against Tanya’s parties.
Tanya Cheex (Guinevere Turner) is a notorious American performance artist who does elaborate stage shows at UK fetish clubs. A tabloid newspaper gets photos of this and editorializes about who will control this American filth. (Like the British need any foreign influence to be kinky.) Conservative Member of Parliament Henry Harding decides to make her a target of a moralistic crusade, and recruits a young Christian computer tech, Peter Emery (Christian Anholt) to infiltrate the fetish underworld with a hidden camera.
- Article on the history of the Carter/Johnson Memorial Library
- The Marysue covers how health authorities are asking people to change their sexual practices in light of the new monkeypox virus.
- Poly.land writes about the history of polyamorous and non-monogamous films.
Exit to Eden (IMDB) is a 1994 romance/comedy/thriller movie, based on the sadomasochistic novel by Anne Rice.
Exit was the first feature film released based on an Anne Rice novel, mainly because Interview with the Vampire was tied up in development hell for a long time. I suspect this was a case of the author selling the film rights on the assumption that it would never actually get made into a film. Rice wrote and published Exit to Eden between the second and third books in her original Sleeping Beauty trilogy, and it’s full of hardcore sex, hetero and otherwise.
Even more bizarre, the film was directed by Garry Marshall, a guy with a long background in American sitcoms. Why would the guy who created Happy Days direct a movie about BDSM? The Bad Gay Movies podcast suggest it was because of the commercial success of Marshall’s film Pretty Woman (1990), which managed to be a sweet rom-com about LA street prostitution.
Marshall had his work cut out for him. Exit is about Elliot, a war photographer, who travels to the Club, an elite BDSM club on a tropical island, on a quest for self-knowledge. There he meets and falls for Lisa, the head trainer.
- Research into Devil Girl from Mars (1954) and the dominatrix-ish costume of the title character lead me to an in-depth exploration on Scifist.net. The costume was designed by Ronald Cobb. He had only one film credit, but had a long career designing sexy, fetishistic costumes for cabaret shows at Murray’s Club in London in the 1950s.
- The Projectionist Booth podcast has an in-depth exploration of The Duke of Burgundy (2014), including an interview with the director, Peter Strickland.
- On the 20th anniversary of the landmark BDSM film Secretary, the BBC discusses what made this oddball film a surprise hit, and how it walked so Fifty Shades could run.
- Kitty Stryker talks about queerness, BDSM and respectability politics.
- Vintage Fetish Art has collected the artwork from various editions of the Marquis de Sade’s novel Justine, from 1799 to 1965.
My friend TammyJo Eckhart and I go in-depth on the 2014 film The Duke of Burgundy, including topping from the bottom, shapewear, and what’s with all the mannequins.
Here’s our next video discussion the Australian coming-of-age movie My Mistress (2014).
- Kinbakunomicon has another translated Japanese article about bondage, and accompanying art, from a 1960 issue of Kitan Club.
- Los Angeles magazine looks at how the LA BDSM scene has been affected by COVID and how it is recovering.
- Russia Beyond profiles the Godzhi BDSM hotel in Moscow, one of many across Russia. It circumvents legal restrictions by listing rooms as “fitting rooms” for devices it rents out.
- Lisa Duggan on Substack writes about the relationship between Lydia Laurenson (aka “S&M Feminist” Clarisse Thorn) and “computer engineer, Thielworld monarchist and neoreactionary luminary” Curtis Yarvin (aka “Mencius Moldbug”). “Whatever impact Laurenson may have had on Yarvin’s ideas about sex and gender, she certainly has not mitigated his devotion to Thielian techno-corporate monarchism.”
- Dr. Mark Griffiths has been researching the more obscure corners of human sexuality for years, and his blog provides some insights on Nazi fetishism.
Mercy (2000) (IMDB) is a late entry in the erotic thriller genre that dominated in the 80s and 90s. This kind of movie was getting stale by the turn of the millennium, and many scenes seem strongly reminiscent of Body Double (previously discussed) and Se7en.
It starts, as usual for this kind of film, with a dead body. This time it’s a nude woman, one of a series with signs of being tied up, bite marks all over her torso, and her eyelids cut off. Detective Catherine Palmer (Ellen Barkin) forms a relationship with Vickie (Peta Wilson), a friend (and likely more) of the victim, Dorothy.
Palmer searches the victim’s home and finds a hidden briefcase full of BDSM toys, and pictures of the victim being dominated by a masked man. She calls up a pro dominatrix via Vice and visits her dungeon in an upscale building.
Palmer: “And what’s your area of expertise, Terry?”
Dominatrix: “Japanese silk ropes and the finer psychological aspects of the relationship between the players. I can tie you so you can’t twitch your ass cheeks. Of course it’s time consuming. It’ll cost you a couple of grand. Mostly the businessmen like that.”
- The newly launched Zipper magazine has a feature article on “How the Pandemic Made Us Kinkier“.
- Cornell University has an online exhibition on the making of On Our Backs magazine, the pioneering lesbian sex magazine in the early 80s.
- Get Your Hands Dirty has an essay on the history of bootblacking, going back to our friend Hannah Cullwick, and the rise of bootblacking contests in the 1990s.
- I had long thought Robert Yang’s Hurt Me Plenty was the only videogame to incorporate BDSM themes directly into the gameplay, but further research led to Mighty Jill Off, a platformer game that makes playing it an act of masochism, and Consensual Torture Simulator, a text-only game about a sadist negotiating with a masochist.
- By 2022 standards, the nude photos published in Penthouse that cost Vanessa Williams her title as Miss America back in 1984 were a bit tame, and the controversy even more quaint. What I didn’t realize was that the images had her in black leather boots, harness, cuffs and collars, in other words, BDSM gear. Penthouse has always been a little racier than Playboy (within the constraints of the heterosexual male gaze), and would tiptoe onto the side of fetish and kink imagery. Perhaps that was what pushed the pageant into de-crowning Williams. A black Miss America was already a stretch, but one who associated with deviant sexuality was too much.
- My interview on the Betwixt the Sheets podcast introduced me to another historical figure with at least an interest in kink: Christian apologist and fantasy writer C.S. Lewis, best known for the Narnia books. He was one of those individuals whose sexuality was hard to pin down; was he closeted homosexual, closeted bisexual, asexual, or just upper-class British? Regardless, he did have an interest, if only theoretical, in the idea of whipping beautiful women, including Lily Greeves, the sister of his friend Arthur.