- Did any one woman do more to popularize fetish fashion than Diana Rigg, who passed away on September 10, 2020? The Guardian looks at how she became a fetish style icon as Mrs. Emma Peel on the cult UK TV series The Avengers.
- Though just about everyone has heard of the term “masochism”, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch himself is a largely forgotten literary figure of the 19th century. I found a couple of articles, from Forgotten Galicia and The Wave of Things, that reveal a few tidbits, such as he had a desert cake named after him, and there is a Café Masoch theme bar in the Ukrainian city of L’Viv.
- Dangerous Minds has a feature on Possibilities! an art book (with more than 1,300 images) and biography of fetish/BDSM pioneer John Willie, aka John Coutts. It includes a short summary of Coutts’ life. Published by Belier Press.
- The BBC has a quick look at the history of latex in fashion.
- Another Man magazine has another history of leather in fetish fashion.
- The BDSM culture has a knack for adapting to and eroticizing social anxieties. For most of 2020, we’ve been anxious about the COVID-19 pandemic, and naturally that fear has been eroticized. Insider talks with pro-domme Victoria Rage about how she has catered to new requests from her clients, such as kinky “CDC inspections” and even mock executions.
- The famous Hedonism II adults-only resort in Jamaica has also adapted to the times with branded masks and hand sanitizers, social distancing markers, regular temperature checks, on-property quarantining rooms, and banning the foam party and “human car wash” events.
- In the UK, a new domestic violence bill has been hailed as “ending the rough sex defense”, which may also mean that even mild, consensual “actual bodily harm” – such as bruising or scratching – could be seen as assault.
iZombie, “Spanking the Zombie”, aired May 2, 2017 IMDB
iZombie is a TV series about a world in which an infectious disease gives people a craving for brains, though some can retain their human intelligence and appearance. The protagonist is Olivia “Liv” Moore, a police forensic scientist who investigates murders by literally eating the brains of the victims and inheriting their memories and personalities temporarily.
In this episode, the victim is Roxanne Greer, who worked as a pro dominatrix known as Sweet Lady Pain. This is literally all we know about her. Even though Liv has access to some of her memories and behaviours, all we see is a few visions of her interacting with clients. We learn nothing else about her, not her family, her background, how and why she got into this business, what she thinks of the work or the men she sees, or what she is like when she’s not being a dominatrix.
“Miss Rebecca Thrall”, aired October 11, 2017 IMDB
The main plot of “Miss Rebecca Thrall” concerns a scheme by Waterday Financial to take out life insurance policies on poor people, and then bribe police officers with loans to kill them, and collect the money.
The main agent of this operation is Miss Rebecca Thrall (played by Sarah Wynter) who negotiates with both the victims and the killers. She also keeps a man in a full rubber suit and hood bound to a St. Andrew’s cross in her basement.
Sex and the City S02E12, “La Douleur Exquise!”, aired August 22nd, 1999 IMDB Title translates to “the exquisite pain”
Sex and the City was a popular dramedy series about single women in New York City around the turn of the millennium.
The opening narration of this episode makes it clear that BDSM is just another aesthetic to be adopted, consumed, and abandoned, befitting the series’ consumerist ethos.
Carrie (vo) “New York City restaurants are always looking for the next new angle to grab that elusive and somewhat jaded Manhattan palate. Last year it was fusion Cajun. Last month it was mussels from Brussels. And tonight, it’s S&M.”
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- Here’s a 2007 interview with Tim Woodward, founder of Skin Two magazine, in which he talks about Operation Spanner among other topics.
- I’ve often commented on the use of eroticism within propaganda, and I found a prime example in the Honest Erotica page on Austrian artist Gottfried Sieben. After traveling through Eastern Europe, at the time dominated by the Austro-Hungarian empire and threatened by the Turkish empire, he self-published illustration portfolios showing fez-wearing Turkish soldiers capturing and raping shapely, nude white women.
- The Loose sex history podcast has a great episode on brothel culture in the Storeyville district of New Orleans at the turn of the century. Inspired by the recent world’s fair, sex workers leaned heavily into performing the sexual stereotypes of nations of the world, and certain sexual kinks were coded into certain nations. E.g. “French” women provided oral, and the supposedly savage “Viennese” (i.e. German) women would eat raw meat or make a fake cow out of cloth and tear it to shreds before onlookers.
- It looks like COVID-19 will be an issue for another year, at least, and that affects the kink culture like everything else. In Germany, a Berlin bondage club and erotic massage club, Quälgeist (“Tormenting Spirit”) won a court case to reopen. However, the court decided that both customers and employees must keep their faces covered. The state-sanctioned brothels, by comparison, must stay closed, as BDSM sex work is deemed safer than other forms of sex. (New York Daily News, Irish Times)
- London After Dark was a 1954 British paperback written by Robert Fabian, who worked as a police constable and detective. His book included a chapter titled “The Problem of Perverts” which described a sex worker known as “Red Katy” who specialized in humiliating male clients. “They pay her hundreds of pounds per week, to the accompaniment of a stream of vituperation and abuse from her—and they like it!” Fabian also described the “queer” districts where men posted personals like “Female impersonator (amateur) wants instruction in escapology,” and claimed that sadistic men would invariably escalate to the murder of children.
- Vice looks into the history of leather chaps as fashion and fetish. They began as a practical item to protect horse riders from heavy bushes, and were linked to the swaggering outlaw machismo of bikers in the 1950s, and therefore to gay men. This eventually led to Christina Aguilera’s leather chaps in her infamous 2002 “Dirrty” video.
Bones S10E03, “The Purging of the Pundit”, aired October 9, 2014 IMDB
Unlike in the previous Bones episode, “The Girl in the Fridge”, BDSM is closely integrated into both the mystery and Booth’s character arc in “The Purging of the Pundit”.
Forensic procedurals are all about the puzzle, and in this case the victim’s masochism provides the puzzle. The body of a right-wing media figure, “Hutch” Whitehouse, is found partially consumed by animals. His corpse shows signs of being bound and tortured, including repeatedly struck in the testicles, but it also appears to be consensual.
Fuentes: “It’s like he was enjoying being murdered.”
Bones S01E08 “The Girl in the Fridge”, aired November 29, 2005 IMDB
Bones is another forensic investigation procedural TV series.
The case begins with the discovery of a decayed skeleton in an abandoned refrigerator. The forensic anthropologists determine that the deceased is a missing young woman, Maggie Schilling, who was held for ransom, but then the kidnappers broke off communication. She also had a condition that made her bones brittle, particularly stress fractures in her wrists.
The series’ protagonist, Dr. Temperance Brennan, says:
“She did fight, Michael. They kept her tied up like an animal. But she fought. That’s how she got those stress fractures, because she was bound and struggling.”
Eurotrip is a 2004 teen comedy.
Eurotrip is a very parochial movie, with the American teens treating Europe as if it is a terrifying land of threatening depravity. The plot itself is premised on heterosexual gay panic: the protagonist doesn’t realize that he has become email pals with a German girl and thinks a man is propositioning him. When he realizes his mistake, he goes on a trip with some friends across Europe to find his love and make amends.
Much of the comedy is the characters attempting and failing to enjoy European pleasures supposedly forbidden in puritanical America. (Two of the “vices”, cannabis and absinthe, are now mostly legal in the USA.)