Jun 212022
 
Palmer and Vickie get to know each other

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.”

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Jun 102022
 

IMDB

My Mistress is a 2014 Australian drama film. A teenage boy, struggling after the death of his father, forms a relationship with a lonely older woman who turns out to be a pro-dominatrix. 

Despite the title and the promotional images, My Mistress is not primarily about a BDSM relationship. It belongs in the category of films about the male fantasy of being initiated in sex by an older attractive woman. E.g. Private Lessons (1981), Class (1983), My Tutor (1983), They’re Playing with Fire (1984), and even Weird Science (1985). Right away, we’re getting into some difficult areas about consent and double-standards about sex between younger men and older women. (For the record, the age of consent in most of Australia is 16.)

Charlie, a teenage boy, aimlessly bikes around his neighborhood. He sees an older woman with a French accent, Maggie, move into a house nearby. He returns home, only to find his father has committed suicide. Soon after that, he learns his mother has been having an affair. 

Distraught, Charlie forms a casual relationship with Maggie. He bikes to her house and goes inside. He goes upstairs to find her playroom where she is in full dominatrix dress and in mid-session with a man. He runs off. 

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Apr 292022
 

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. 

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Apr 272022
 

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. 

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Apr 152022
 

“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. 

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Apr 132022
 

“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.

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Apr 122022
 

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. 

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