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.)
Belle De Jour (1967) is a French drama directed by Luis Bunuel and starring Catherine Deneuve.
Note: quotes are from the English dubbing, not the subtitles.
Deneuve plays Séverine (a name probably chosen for its link to Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs), the beautiful young wife of a surgeon, Pierre. They seem to have the perfect life, but Séverine is sexually unresponsive, what at the time they would have deemed “frigid.” (“Frigidity” is not a term used any more, at least not clinically.) The only way she can be aroused is by imagining herself in scenarios of degradation and slavery.
Weighing in at 6,100 words, “The Velvet Underground” covers roughly 1945-1970, including the gay male leather culture; the fetish porn production business centered around NYC with artists like John Willie, Eric Stanton and Gene Bilbrew and models like Bettie Page and Tana Louise; and a little bit about the contact-service-based heterosexual kink scene. I would like to do more about the heterosexual scene as it existed then, but I just don’t have the references yet. Thus, the chapter is a little shorter and rougher than I would like.
I want to cover Story of O (1954), but it doesn’t fit in a chapter largely about American pulp porn. I may need to do a chapter about high literary kink porn, like O and The Image.
The other problem I have to face is I kind of skipped over the 1910-1945 period, apart from a few bits in the fascism chapter, and I don’t have enough material to make a strong theme for a chapter. It would be a grab bag/”and then…” chapter. Friends have counseled me that it is better to admit the limited availability of source material and cover what I can than just skip over it.
Next up is chapter 10, roughly 1970 to 1990, which covers the first aboveground kink organizations and the articulation of the kink ethos; the professionalization of the kink porn industry; the punk-kink dialectic; and the influence on the mainstream, such as fashion and movies like Nine and a Half Weeks.
I think that pushing forwards to a complete draft by the end of the year might be feasible, but it has other values in that it shows me areas I need to research, and just having something I could show to prospective publishers with the caveat “It needs some work.”
Here’s a blog post on the work of artist Allen Jones, best known in kink circles for his sculptures of women as furniture (aka “forniphilia”), but also a designer of fetish attire.
The sculptures appeared in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, and Jones also designed some costumes for the film that weren’t used.
My Retrospace has a gallery of spanking scenes from vintage American comics.
I found another page on the Stalag novels, a sub-genre of porn/pulp novels published in Israel in the 1960s, and featuring sex-and-violence adventure tales set in concentration camps.
Being Canadian, I’m always interested in Canada’s contributions to the sexual edge of culture. I was delighted to stumble across the story of Justice Weekly, a true crime tabloid newspaper published in Canada that frequently included fetish letters. “…popular topics were discipline, punishment and humiliation of males (especially ‘errant husbands’ and spoiled post-adolescent children) by authoritarian/domineering females, transvestites and authority figures such as school principals, judges and law-enforcement officials.”
While we’re talking about Lenny Burtman, here’s a few clips from a film he produced, Satan in High Heels (1962).
The theme of violence against women is front and centre in the Mad Men episode “Mystery Date”, and what leads into that phenomenon is a tangled web of fear, anger and desire.
The episode is haunted by the Richard Speck rape-murders in 1966, an incident which its own Gothic details: sexualized violence, women in danger, etc. The lone survivor of Speck’s massacre of student nurses escaped by hiding under a bed.
At the SCDP office, Joyce, a journalist friend of Peggy, brings in a sheet of photos of the Speck crime scene not fit for publication. Joyce describes the crime in melodramatic detail, as if imagining herself as the sole survivor and de facto hero of the narrative (Cf. the Final Girl of slasher filmes). Peggy and the other creatives are gruesomely fascinated and study the pictures. It’s new copywriter Michael Ginsburg who looks at the pictures but then denounces the others as “sickoes”, and says he wishes he hadn’t looked at them.
From the Old Erotic Art Tumblr:
This image, presumably the cover of an old men’s adventure magazine from the ’50s or ’60s, is puzzling initially. Why the shaving brush and scissors? Guerilla barbers? This is almost certainly a reference to les femmes tondues. In post-liberation France, women who allegedly collaborated with occupying fascists (especially “horizontal collaboration”) were publicly shaved bald. Like the “Nazi dominatrix” trope, this is the conflation of deviant politics (collaboration) with deviant female sexuality (“slut shaming”). Women are used as ritual scapegoats for a community’s problems (in this case, the legacy of occupation and collaboration in France) and symbolically “killed.” See Frost’s book Sex Drives
Interesting to see women-in-danger in the context of anti-fascist, “good guy” forces like the French resistance. This can be applied to just about any conflict, or to put it another way, any conflict or social anxiety can provide a framing narrative for the scene of woman-in-distress.