Now that 2019 is ending and Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP is selling bondage gear and floggers, it’s important to remember that, not that long ago, BDSM was seen as a sign of mental illness. Case in point: The Sensuous Woman by “J”, published in 1969.
The Thing That Turns Him on You Think Is Sick
If he wants to resort to whips and chains or have you urinate on him or something of that nature, I agree with you, I think he’s sick — and he should let you alone and go find a simpatico sickie or, better yet, get professional help.
Note that the author assumes that the reader will be turned off by such activities.
In my discussion of Pets, I neglected to mention that it was based on an off-Broadway play. The Temple of Schlock has a post on the history of the original work and its adaptation into film.
Pets was originally three one-act plays, first produced in May 1969, all based on the idea of women being kept as pets.
It’s not surprising that few critics gave PETS a clean bill of health. Newsday‘s George Oppenheimer summed it up by writing, “Mr. Reich has given us three playlets which, to put it kindly, stagger the imagination,” while Daphne Kraft of the Newark Evening News commented, “PETS, the three one-act satchels of emotion which got hurled on the stage of the Provincetown Playhouse last night, suffers from bad dialogue. The plays sizzle like wet firecrackers and make all of life look like exercises in hysteria.” In the Manhattan Tribune, Clayton Riley wrote, “Nothing to recommend but a superb air-conditioning unit at the Provincetown. Doubtless it will outlive, by a good while, Richard Reich’s slender trio.” Worst of all were the opinions of a critic in Cue: “Richard Reich is a playwright who has discovered a fascinating new toy — sadomasochism. So enthralled is he by the S&M mystique of discipline, power, sexual mastery and submission, torture and self-flagellation, that he has written no less than three one-acters in which people cage, whip, stab, and rape each other with gay abandon, all the while pontificating in language duller than an Abnormal Psych textbook.”
The film combined the three young women characters into one character, Bonnie, combined two older women into Geraldine, and added a few other scenes.
One Shocking Moment (IMDB) is a 1965 exploitation drama film, written and directed by Ted V. Mikels. Unlike some other movies discussed in this project, it has a coherent narrative and recorded dialog.
Newlyweds Cliff and Mindy leave their home town so Cliff can get a big corporate job in LA. They settle into an apartment complex. This is the sleazy side of the sixties when everybody smoked like chimneys and drank like fish, and men cheerfully belittled and objectified women. Cliff even does so right in front of his new wife, with only her mild objections. Cliff starts an affair with his boss’ secretary, while lonely Mindy drifts into an implied lesbian affair with her neighbor Tanya, a lesbian nightclub owner.
The Girls on F Street, also known as The Maidens of Fetish Street, is a 1966 exploitation film (IMDB), directed by Saul Resnick. A lot of the film is padded out with the voiceover sermonizing, and shots of 1960s downtown Los Angeles, including landmarks like the Flight of Angels inclined railway.
The Abnormal Female (IMDB) is a 1969 exploitation film, a collection of softcore sexual vignettes loosely tied together by the voiceover narration of a psychiatrist and his female patients talking about their sexual experiences and fantasies.
In BDSM terms, the only segment of note is the first, in which a brunette woman known as Vickie, said to be a sadist, describes dominating a man. The film shows her doing just that, wearing a black leather minidress and boots, and carrying a bullwhip. However, she doesn’t actually use it as a whip, and instead uses it to tie a man’s arms behind his back. She rips off his clothes, forces lemon juice into his mouth, rubs pieces of fruit on him and ends with implied 69. It’s not clear in the diegesis if this is actually happened or is something she’s imagined.
This is the only known film work of the director George Rodgers. None of the actors turn up anywhere else (likely pseudonyms). The Abnormal Female came at the end of the softcore sexploitation era, just before the hardcore era of the 1970s.
The Girl on a Motorcycle, also released as Naked Under Leather, was a 1968 romance/psychedelic film directed by Jack Cardiff and starring Marianne Faithfull. It was the first movie to get an X-rating in the USA.
The framing story is that Rebecca, a young, recently married woman, leaves her husband Raymond in bed, dons her one-piece black leather riding suit (and nothing else), revs up her motorcycle, and rides through France and West Germany to her lover Daniel.
Satan in High Heels(1962) is a drama/exploitation film most notable for being produced by Leonard Burtman. Burtman was a major publisher and entrepreneur in the American fetish scene in the 1950s and 1960s. This film and a 1953 film short called Cinderella’s Love Lessons, starring Lili St. Cyr, were his only producer credits. Jerald Intrator, the director, had previously made Striporama (1953), featuring Bettie Page, Lili St. Cyr, and other 50s burlesque queens.
If Bonanza and The Andy Griffith Show were 1962 America as it dreamed of being, Satan in High Heels is the seedy underbelly. Stacey Kane (Meg Myles), a burlesque dancer on a skeezy midway, robs her junkie ex-husband and heads for the big city, where she becomes a nightclub singer and gets involved in the twilight world of quasi-mobsters and sexual deviants. Everybody in this movie smokes like a chimney and drinks like a fish.
As far as I know, this is the first feature film adaptation of Venus in Furs, or more accurately the first to bear that name. (According to IMDB, there was a short film released in 1965 titled Venus in Furs, though the description sounds nothing like the book.) It was also released the same year that the Velvet Underground released their debut album (having been formed in 1964), which featured the song “Venus in Furs.” I don’t know if there was any direct connection between the two.
There were two films titled Venus in Furs released in 1969. This is the one also known as Paroxismus, directed by Jesus (aka Jess) Franco, and starring James Darren, Barbara McNair and Maria Rohm. It has little to do with Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s 1870 novel Venus im Pelz (aka Venus in Furs). (The other 1969 Venus was directed by Massimo Dallamano.)