May 102012

Gloria Brame posted scans from “Legs and Attitudes“, a leg fetish magazine published in July 1930, Paris.

1930s images of woman sitting and showing her stockings

In 1930, women’s legs and lower bodies were a relatively recent discovery, having been hidden away in Western fashion for centuries. The photos posted seem based on the idea of glimpsing a stocking top or bare thigh in an unguarded moment (in a boudoir, after tripping on the street, a woman carelessly sitting to let her skirt slip), not a brazen display.

Mar 082012

The Au carrefour étrange blog has several scans of vintage bondage and flagellation erotica from France. One of them is Les Confidences de Chérubin by G. Donville, originally published in 1939 and featuring beautiful spanking, lingerie and maid illustrations by Cheri Horouard, aka Herric.

Maid in uniform spanking young woman in bed

This is a great reissue the less fortunate will be able to buy, for lack of the original edition that not only is rare but does not approach within 100 euros you.
In addition to this text very pleasant, originally published by the great Jean Fort (Nettles White etc..), Whose narrator, Peter Thiverny tells, from initiation to sensual pleasure in voyeurism (parents) and the discovery of female buttocks (the young Monique and her swing) to various sexual practices including spanking with many companions of passage, and more so, this beautiful edition reproduces illustrations from the original edition (1939) Cheri Herouard (signed Herric).

[via Google Translate]

Man in turban and chains kissing foot of woman in quasi-Oriental headdress

While most of the illustrations are set in the present day, the one above indulges in Orientalist fantasy with the appropriate props.

Jul 272011

Nude woman bound to tree, nude man standing nearby, black and white

Back in 2004, German novelist Thor Kunkel claimed that he had discovered a secret chapter in the secrets-filled history of pornography: porn produced in Nazi Germany. From UK newspaper The Guardian:

Before submitting his manuscript to his publisher last summer, Kunkel had researched long and hard into one of the most subterranean aspects of the Nazi era – a series of erotic home movies known as the Sachsenwald films, shot secretly in 1941. Officially, pornography was forbidden under the Nazis; in reality, however, the films were not only screened privately for the amusement of senior Nazi figures, but were also traded in north Africa for insect repellent and other commodities.

Kunkel discovered two of the black and white films – the pastoral Desire in the Woods and The Trapper. In one of them, a man ties a naked woman to a tree. Incredibly, Kunkel tracked down the actress some 60 years after her woodland nude scene, living in an old people’s home outside Hamburg. “I found her via a photographer who had known her since she was 14, when she posed for nude photographs,” Kunkel says.

The 83-year-old was slightly taken aback by the novelist’s visit, but agreed to help. She could recall only two “polite, charming men” who approached her outside a tobacconist’s kiosk in Berlin. The men had driven her and her sister in a black Opel Admiral – the saloon car favoured by the Gestapo – to the woods outside Hamburg. There she had disrobed.

“She told me she and her sister had had a threesome with a man. I found this a bit surprising,” Kunkel says. The novelist never did discover who the director of the film was, but he used the movies as the framework for his 622-page manuscript, which his publisher, Rowohlt, had originally lauded as a “packed, minutely researched portrait of morbid Nazi society … and the demise of the Third Reich.”

Kunkel also interviewed 57 elderly German soldiers who had served with Erwin Rommel in north Africa, where much of the novel is set. They confirmed what he already suspected – that during the second world war, the German military traded Nazi pornography with the locals. The Sachsenwald films even ended up in the hands of the Bey of Tunis, a regent with a legendary collection of pornography. “It was the thing the locals were most interested in. In return, the soldiers got food, water and supplies,” Kunkel says.

There seems to be very little about these films, at least in English, and this whole thing might turn out to be a fabrication or exaggeration.

May 122010

Debra Hyde’s blog has a quick look at Iwan Bloch’s Sex life in England (1934), including scans of some of the art.

Iwan Bloch was a noted author and sexologist from pre-Nazi Germany. He was a contemporary of fellow sexologist, Magnus Hirschfeld, and Sigmund Freud considered his contributions on homosexuality key to looking at sexual orientation from a non-pathological stance. I suspect it gave some level of legitimacy to Falstaff Press in the eyes of government suppression, but not much, given the fervor of the law. Although he was responsible for discovering the presumed-lost manuscript of The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade and he was an early biographer of the notorious figure, so who knows.

I’d like to see this book and have a good insight into pre-WWII European sexual culture.

May 142008

Frost, Laura Sex Drives: Fantasies of Fascism in Literary Modernism, Cornel University Press, 2002

I once interviewed an elderly French woman who had been a courier for the Resistance in occupied France. In Paris, she was captured by the Milice, French fascist collaborators, tortured without divulging anything and held prisoner for months. A Milice officer named Cornet would visit her cell and point her out, saying, “That one didn’t talk. She has courage.”

One night, Cornet and she drove to a nightclub for Miliciens and German soldiers, the Green Parrot, which she soon realized was also a brothel.

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May 172007

Silent Porn Star pointed me at an interview with a woman artist who created some of the covers for Weird Tales in the 1930s, Margaret Brundage.

Weird Tales

As kinky as these and other covers were (check out Dian Hanson’s books on post-WWII men’s magazines), they seem to have been created by people who had no particular kinkiness to them.

Everts: Do you recall the most controversial Weird Tales cover?

Brundage: We had one issue [the September, 1933 issue] that sold out! It was the story of a very vicious female, getting a-hold of the heroine and tying her up and beating her. Well, the public apparently thought it was flagellation and the entire issue sold out. They could have used a couple of thousand extra.

Everts: Did you choose that scene to illustrate?

Brundage: You see, I would submit about three different pencil sketches. And they would make the selection of the one I was to do in color. Once in a while I would suggest a little color in my sketches, but most of the time [pause] well, they were very rough. And yes, they chose the scene. I didn’t. Having read the story, the thought of flagellation never entered my head. I don’t think it had theirs either. But it turned out that way.

Everts: What inspiration did you use for the exotic covers, the clothing, the monsters?

Brundage: In almost every instance, just off the top of my head.

Everts: Were you ever asked to start covering your nudes a bit?

Brundage: I was never asked to, no. One funny thing did happen. One of the authors — well, Weird Tales asked me to make larger and larger breasts — larger than I would have liked to — well, one cover, one of the authors wrote in and said that things were getting a little bit out of line. And even for an old expert like him, the size of the breastwork was getting a little too large.

So, a magazine with two scantily clad beautiful women, one holding a whip, on the cover, and the public “thought” it was about flagellation?

It’s weird that there’s a whip (technically a cat or flail) in the illustration, yet Brundage takes no responsibility for it. Neither does she put the responsibility for it on the magazine’s editors and publishers. It sounds like it just appeared there spontaneously. Maybe it did, in the sense that people do include things unconsciously in their art.

I suspect that these types of illustrations were an American manifestation of memes bubbling up from European erotica/porn, but also American illustration traditions as well. Maybe kink is a kind of strange attractor which keeps pulling minds toward it, even if they’ve never heard of it before. Pauline Reage claimed she had not read Sade before she wrote Story of O.

See Yankee Classic for a collection of Weird Tales covers.

Apr 042007

Thanks to eBay, I now own two copies of London Life magazine.

London Life was what succeeded The Englishwoman’s Domestic Monthly and The Family Doctor in sustaining England fetishist population. It was a popular magazine: maillot-clad bathing beauties (the bikini hadn’t been invented yet), Hollywood gossip, short fiction, etc.

It doesn’t get really interesting until you get to the letter sections. Then you’re hanging out with:

BROKEN SPIRIT: “…I act as lady’s maid to my mistress, and also to her friends when she entertains. I have to practically put on and take off every garment she wears. Every time she takes a bath I have to get everything ready, bath her [sic], and rub her briskly with a hot towel until my arms ache fit to drop off.”

VELVET CORDS: “Since we have been married we have both worn corduroy a great deal – my wife wearing costumes and skirts, generally in black or brown, and I wearing shorts, jacket and breeches whenever circumstances permit.”

MOUNTED MANNEQUIN: “After being unhorsed for so long, it is simply gorgeous to have my feet in the stirrups again, and to feel a horse’s ripping [sic] muscles between my knees….Naturally enough, my spurs came in for a good deal of attention. I am afraid I could not scrap any of these; but I found they could all do with new straps and buckles to smarten them up, and two pairs needed new rowels.”

ONE LEG: “No one appeared to take undue notice of my one-leggedness when in my bathing costume. Needless to say, I was very glad of this, because it gave me encouragement to bathe and sun myself quite oblivious to any missing leg…. I brought back from Paris six lovely slender crutches, black, blue, brown, and grey, for day use, and a red and green for evening wear.”

MALE CORSET WEARER: “Recently, however, a champion of the much-maligned waist compresser has arisen, who declares that if only men would take to wearing corsets, baldness would promptly cease to exist at all.”

BAS DE SOIE: “I love the costume of a French maid above all other styles, and because I first me my own sporty little wife at a private fancy dress ball, where whe was dressed in the most chic and daring French maid’s costume you cold imagine.”

MURIEL: “I was priveleged to witness an exciting wrestling match at my home the other evening between two of my friends, Betty, a typist, and Hazel, a shop assistant.”

WETTING PARTY FAN: “What has happened to ‘P.R.’ who used to write such thrilling letters about the wet and muddy exploits of Gwen and Madeline?”

BROWNIE: “I am awfully keen on mackintoshes, and so is my boy friend, who is a sailor in the Merchant Service. He is a great big he-man, and loves to dominate me. He likes to see me completely mackintoshed; and though at first I must own I did not like being dressed up in rubber clothes, I am now an ardent mac fan, and I realize that macs have a fascination all their own.”

STRICT MISTRESS: “If I were to employ females to slave for me in this way I should not get anything like such a thrill and ‘kick’ out of the practice that I always experience when ordering men and boys to do my bidding.”

All of these letters are written in a dead-pan, humorless style, no matter how outrageous the content. I’m going to give these letters the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were written by readers and not fabricated in house. However, how true to life they are is anybody’s guess. Some are plausible as treasured real-life incidents embroidered over time by fantasy, and some are pure wishful thinking. I also won’t speculate how many of the letters with female bylines are actually written by women.

After all, would you believe Hannah Cullwick and Athur Munby were real people if they had written into magazines instead of having their journals published decades after their deaths?

There’s a wide range of fetishes on display: amputees, shoes, boots and hosiery, corsets, French maids, wet and messy, silk and satin, etc. These days, these people would have blogs and MySpace pages and Yahoo groups. Back then, all they had was London Life.

However, this generation of fetishists differed from the Victorians. The people who wrote into the mid-nineteenth century magazines were on the extreme end of the “normal” end of the spectrum. Tight-lacing corsets, for instance, were just barely on the edge of fashion then. By the 1930s, when fetishists had pretty much taken over the reader-contributed sections of London Life, the female ideal was the supple, athletic flapper, and wasp waists were completely off the range of fashion. This was when the culture of fetishists started to evolve.

Incidentally, there was a fair amount of kinkness in the features too. One story, “Les Dance Apache!”, is about an Englishman on vacation in Paris who falls for a woman who does “le danse apache“, a stylized combat between a pimp and a prostitute (example video). However, it turns out the woman and her dance partner are running a variant of the Badger Game on the poor schlemiel.

I’ll try go get some scans up soon.

Aug 092006

There was a certain odd gap in my research. I had plenty of material on the Victorian era: Munby and Cullwick, Sacher-Masoch, Krafft-Ebing and My Secret Life, just to name a few things. After WWII there’s Willie, Stanton and Bilbrew, the biker/leatherman culture, L’Histoire de O, the Profumo scandal and so on.

But what happened in kink in the Interwar period? There’s the Weimar Republic of Germany, as documented by Mel Odom’s Voluptuous Panic. I also want to work in William Charles Moulton and his creation, Wonder Woman. And what else?

Furthermore, what happened in America all those years before the 40s? Why was the US apparently so vanilla compared to Europe?

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