I’ve been interviewed on the history podcast Betwixt the Sheets, which is full of interesting looks into the past of “sex, scandal and society”.
- Slate magazine considers the way sex is depicted in current TV shows like Euphoria, And Just Like That and the like. “It’s as if the wide availability of sex—and porn—and frank discussions of various sexual lifestyles have all combined to render purely hedonistic or transgressive approaches to it as retro or passé or even quaint.”
- The Betwixt the Sheets podcast has a fascinating look at medieval sexuality, which was quite different from what most might think. There was a lot of discussion about “sodomy”, which then could be defined as any sexual activity other than coitus for the purposes of procreation. It included manual stimulation of the self or other persons, and “femoral intercourse”, i.e. a penis pressed between a person’s thighs. This was also when women were seen as the more sexually active gender, not men. It shows that our modern views of sexuality are not universal.
- Evie Lupine provides a video update on the BDSM-related court cases in the news, such as Arnie Hammer and Marilyn Manson situations.
- Gayle Rubin speaks on the Feminist Sex Wars of the 1970s and 1980s in a presentation recorded at Cornell in 2022.
- The Washington Post mused on the juxtaposition of Balenciaga’s BDSM/fetish themed fashion show being held on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Is money the ultimate fetish?
Peter & TammyJo discuss “Going Under” (2004): The Celluloid Dungeon
My friend TammyJo and I discuss Going Under (2004), which I previously discussed.
Aired April 7, 2011 IMDB
“Unleashed” is the first Lady Heather episode without William Peterson as Gil Grissom, after the actor’s departure from the show. It also retreads some of the same ground as the notorious “Fur and Loathing in Las Vegas” episode (to be discussed).
This time, the dead body is a woman in a leotard who got mauled to death by a mountain lion in the woods. The woman shows signs of having been beaten and restrained.
Further examination reveals feline dental prosthetics and signs of being hit by a stun gun. ID’d as Iona Vail, who ran a battered women’s shelter. The co-manager of the shelter, Debra, says Iona left weeks ago.
Examining the victim’s address book reveals she was seeing “Dr. K”, which turns out to be Dr. Heather Kessler, formerly “Lady Heather”. She now has a PhD, a certificate in sex therapy, and an office that shows her taste for Victorian furnishings.Continue reading »
CSI S09E05 “Leave Out All The Rest” IMDB Aired November 6, 2008
The discovery of a dead body (what else?) with the marks of S&M leads Grissom back to Heather Kessler.
In this case, it’s a set of markings from needle play around the man’s nipples, out of place next to all the corpse’s other injuries.
Grissom: “S and M?”
Willows: “Gone very, very wrong.”
ME: “These stab wounds are brutal, random and postmortem”,
Willows: “Which is inconsistent with S&M.”
ME: “Well, it’s hard to take pleasure in someone’s pain once they’re dead.”
Willows: “Which is the ‘gone wrong’ part.”
After the low point of the last episode, in which Heather was offering herself up to be murdered for money to provide for her grand-daughter, she’s somewhat recovered. No longer a dominatrix, she’s finished a Masters in psychology and is a practising therapist.
Heather’s transition to therapist from dominatrix who acts like a therapist makes a degree of sense. It’s consistent with the trope of pro-dominatrix-as-caregiver that turns up so often in mainstream media. (E.g. Going Under, Personal Services). It further desexualizes an already desexualized character. In this episode, Grissom is grieving his beakup with Sara Sidle, and his emotionally stunted interactions with Heather are with her as a caregiver, not a lover.
Also note that after being much more mobile and active in the previous two episodes, Heather reverts to being stationary in her home.Continue reading »
- The Kinkycast has re-published their interviews with three pioneer female dominants, whose careers go back to the 1970s: Sybil Holliday, Dr. Charlayne Grenci, and Cleo Dubois.
- Reason magazine writes about the rise and fall of the sexually diverse Internet, epitomized by PornHub and Tumblr, both of which have been massively censored. Conservative activist groups have pressured the commercial middlemen of the industry to make it financially precarious.
- The American Sex Podcast interviews Susan Wright of the NCSF about decriminalizing BDSM.
- It’s Pride season again, which means another season of arguments about whether kink belongs at Pride. OUT magazine reviews the argument.
“The Good, the Bad and the Dominatrix” Aired May 10, 2007, IMDB
In Lady Heather’s previous appearance, we learn that her deceased daughter Zoe may have had a child. The fourth Lady Heather episode follows up on that plot thread.
This time, Lady Heather meets an unknown person in a Wild West theme park. The man strangles her, and she passes out. The night watchmen finds her unconscious and calls the police.Continue reading »
CSI:Las Vegas S06E15 “Pirates of the Third Reich”: The Celluloid Dungeon
“Pirates of the Third Reich” aired February 9, 2006, IMDB
Jerry Stahl returns as co-writer for the third chapter in the Lady Heather saga. The director, Richard J Lewis, also directed “Lady Heather’s Box”.
“Slaves of Las Vegas” normalized Lady Heather in her conversation with Catherine Willows, as a business owner, career woman, and single mother. This episode throws that into ruin. Zoe Kessler, said to be going to Harvard in Lady Heather’s first episode, is found dead in the desert: emaciated, poisoned, shaved bald, branded with a number, and missing her hand. This marks the fifth person in Lady Heather’s immediate circle who is murdered.Continue reading »
IMDB Aired February 13, 2003
Melinda Clarke returns as Lady Heather. (Also features a cameo of Elizabeth Berkley of Showgirls infamy.) Note that this episode’s story was co-written by Josh Berman, who also wrote the episode of Bones focusing on ponyplay, “Death in the Saddle” (S03E03).
A pair of male sex workers murdered by injections of insulin lead the CSI team back to Lady Heather’s house. It appears they got the same house for interiors and exteriors as the previous episode.
Just as before, Lady Heather is completely cooperative with the authorities, and readily acknowledges the men were on her payroll. It isn’t clear what they did, however. Also, the staff and clients are completely unconcerned with police officers walking around.
Detective Brass astutely points out that these are the second and third people in Lady Heather’s employ to end up dead in suspicious circumstances.Continue reading »
IMDB Aired November 15, 2001.
Co-writer Jerry Stahl also wrote the notorious CSI episodes “Fur and Loathing in Las Vegas” (2003) (dealing with furry culture) and “King Baby” (2005) (dealing with infantilism). He also co-wrote the screenplays for the cult porn films Nightdreams (1981) and Café Flesh (1982), under the pseudonym Herbert W. Day.
Melinda Clarke makes her first appearance as Lady Heather. She also played a brothel madam in the Firefly episode “Heart of Gold” (2003) and the body-modified zombie lead of Return of the Living Dead 3 (1993).
As so many of these types of episodes, it begins with the discovery of a dead sex worker. In this case, it’s a nude young woman found buried in a sandbox. Also typical, the victim’s body is treated as a puzzle to be solved that will lead to the discovery of their true identity.Continue reading »