Feb 052021
 

The third episode of Bonding has the least to do with BDSM so far. 

Tiff and Pete struggle with their inhibitions. Tiff avoids giving a class presentation on why she wants to be a psychiatrist, while the jock-ish guy who has been flirting with her gives a heartfelt, vulnerable speech. Meanwhile, Pete still hasn’t called the guy who gave him his number.

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Feb 042021
 

Pete backs out of going on the stand-up stage. Tiff gets him to admit that he’s turned on by feet, and says that arousal helps people “zombie out”. She takes him back to the dungeon and gets him to do his stand-up routine in front of the staff and clients. 

Tiff’s professor speaks about the emotional hazards of psychotherapy and the necessity of distance and control, while hypocritically flirting with her and another female student. 

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Feb 012021
 

Bonding is a dramedy TV series, launched in 2019. (IMDB)

Tiff, a grad student who works as a pro domme, recruits her friend Pete as her driver and assistant. Pete, a milquetoast, sexually inexperienced gay man and would-be stand-up comedian, is our window into this world. He is overwhelmed and confused with this new underworld, though that seems to be his response to everything. We see his discomfort with his roommate’s sex life and his inability to go on stage as a comedian. 

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Jan 302021
 

John: “Elizabeth, I don’t want to negotiate with you. Now crawl.”

Nine and a Half Weeks (IMDB) is a 1986 erotic drama/romance film, directed by Adrian Lyne, starring Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger. Written by Patricia Knop & Zalman King and Sarah Kernochan. 

Adrian Lyne previously directed Flashdance (1983) and later directed controversial, sexually-charged films like Fatal Attraction (1987) and the remake of Lolita (1997). He learned filmmaking as a commercial director in London. 

Zalman King, the driving force of the film as one of the writers and producers, is an interesting figure in the history of visual erotica. He had a middling career as an actor, going back to the 60s. After Weeks, King started directing softcore erotica features, borrowing a lot of Adrian Lyne’s style. In the 1990s, he created the adult anthology series Red Shoe Diaries, which pioneered a particular style of high-gloss softcore erotica suitable for the mixed gender, home-viewing audience, and the later Chromium Blue series. For better or worse, Lyne and King defined what some people thought “visual erotica” should be. 

Hallmarks of the Lyne-King style: Heterosexual, with occasional girl-girl scenes. No frontal male nudity, and definitely no erect penises. Definitely going further than network TV, but stopping before hardcore porn. Loving high-contrast closeups on consumer goods like CD players and food. A middle-class aspirational aesthetic.

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Jan 052021
 

Crash (IMDB) is a 1996 psychological drama written and directed by David Cronenberg, based on the novel of the same name by J.G. Ballard.

Crash was a highly controversial film when it was released, and that is worthy of its own post. This post will focus on the film itself. 

The film concerns James Ballard (James Spader), a film producer who, after a car crash, is drawn into a cult of car crash fetishists (for a lack of a better word) led by a visionary named Vaughan (Elias Koteas). 

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Nov 212020
 

Going Under is a 2004 drama film directed by Eric Werthman and written by Werthman and Jessica Gohlke. IMDB

Peter (Roger Rees), a married therapist, regularly sees a pro dominatrix, Suzanne (Geno Lechner), with the permission of his wife. On a summer when Peter’s wife is out of town and Suzanne has quit the business, they try to form a romantic relationship outside the dungeon. 

Peter (Rees) in session with Suzanne (Lechner)
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Oct 252020
 

Cleopatra is a 1934 historical epic/romance, directed by Cecil B. DeMille. It came at the end of the pre-Hays Code era, when American films could be more sexually explicit. Just to be clear, it is also far from historically accurate. 

The film sets up a contrast between austere and republican Rome and the decadent and autocratic Egypt, personified by Claudette Colbert as Queen Cleopatra in a series of extravagant, revealing dresses. We’ve seen this divide before between the West and the Orient. The film also borrows a lot from the Orientalist art tradition of the previous century, with Cleopatra lounging on silken beds, surrounded by slave girls in chains. 

After the credits and a quick shot of the pyramids and palm trees, the first thing we see is a nearly nude woman (in silhouette) in chains, standing and backlit. Sex appeal is front and centre. 

The title shot of the film.
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Oct 172020
 

The documentary Bloodsisters, covering the San Francisco leatherdyke community in 1995, is currently streaming online as part of NewFest, New York’s LGBTQ+ film & media festival. The streaming will last until October 27, 2020.

You can view the trailer and some supplemental interviews and other materials on Vimeo. There was an online discussion with the director, Michelle Handelman, and others in August 2020, available on Youtube.

NOTE: I attempted to view this stream in Canada and was refused. It may only be available for viewers in the USA.

Oct 022020
 

POSE is a drama series set in the ballroom culture of New York City, set in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In contrast to the beauty and glamour of the ballroom scene, the performers (mostly poor, non-white, and queer/trans) make their livings through work of varying legality. The second season features a plotline about working as a pro domme. 

Elektra (Dominique Jackson) at the Hellfire Club.
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