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.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
Note: I do not speak Korean, and I’m going entirely by the dubbing and subtitles. There are likely many cultural and linguistic nuances I am missing. E.g. “Master” is frequently used, but not “Mistress”.
Jung Jihoo transfers to the public relations department of a corporation, where he meets a woman with a nearly identical name, Jung Jiwoo. She’s highly intelligent and competent, but ignored or belittled by the department’s sexist boss. Jihoo is actually her superior in the hierarchy, but he tries to listen to her and compromise.
Jiwoo is attracted to Jihoo, but is reluctant to act on it. Her mother and friend both urge her to act on it, but in a stereotypically “feminine” way, which is at odds with her direct personality.
Because their names are so similar, Jiwoo accidentally picks up a personal package delivered for Jihoo, and finds a studded leather collar and leash with the nameplate “Miho”. Jihoo tries to cover for this, but she figures it out, and says nothing.
I discuss the BDSM-themed Korean romantic comedy Love and Leashes with my friend and colleague TammyJo Eckhart, a historian and author.
Currently on Netflix, Love and Leashes follows a submissive man and and a dominant woman as they learn about each other and deal with a prejudiced society. You can also read the English translation of the original webcomic.
Story of O (1975), dir. Just Jaeckin
[Note: all English quotes are from the English dub.]
The relaxation of film censorship in the 1960s and 1970s, both in the US and abroad, created an interesting period in mainstream films were much more daring in terms of sexuality and violence, while some porn films had bigger budgets and higher production values to play in mainstream theatres and reach a larger audience. Naturally, someone would try to adapt arguably the most famous novel about BDSM to the big screen, Histoire d’O by “Pauline Reage” (aka Anne Desclos), published 1954.