Jan 032022
 

Transparent Episode S02E09 “Man on the Land”, aired Dec 11, 2015. 

In this episode, mainly set at a women’s festival in the woods, Maura, a transwoman, has a difficult experience when she finds that the festival is supposed to be for “women-born-women” only, and her adult daughter Sarah hooks up with a kinky woman named Pony (played by Jiz Lee). 

Pony (Jiz Lee) meets with Sarah (Amy Landecker)
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Nov 112021
 

Fifty Shades of Black (2016) (IMDB) is a comedy/romance film directed by Michael Tiddes and written by Marlon Wayans and Rick Alvarez. Obviously, it’s a parody of the wildly popular Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. 

Beyond just parodying Fifty Shades, Black derives comedy from juxtaposing sadomasochism, long seen as a “white thing”, with blackness. 

Moon Charania’s essay “The Promise of Whiteness: Fifty Shades of Grey as White Racial Archive” in Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media (Issue 8, January 2016) hypothesizes that the book and film’s story can only work because the two leads are extremely white and heterosexual. It presents a kind of hetero-white utopia in which all the cultural anxieties of the 2000s and 2010s are almost entirely absent. Almost no non-white people means no racial violence and inequality, and almost no queer and no trans people means no challenge to the primacy of heterosexuality. 

The significance of Grey’s emotional torment, Ana’s romantic attachment to Grey, and the familiarity of white heterosexual domestic love render this (attempted) violent domination both palatable and melancholic. [Pg. 84]

To excite and placate the audience, Ana and Christian as lovers and antagonists could only be white. The sudden excitement found in a powerful white man beating an empowered white woman for sexual pleasure establishes an inextricable link between racial formation and sexual subjectification. [Pg. 85]

In Charania’s view, whiteness excuses everything: Christian’s domination and sadism, Ana’s infatuation and naivete. Remove Christian’s whiteness, his wealth and privilege, from the narrative, and he’s just an abuser. Remove Ana’s whiteness, and she’s just a helpless victim. It’s not a love story anymore. 

So what happens if the analogs of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele, “Christian Black” (Marlon Wayans) and “Hannah Steale” (Kali Hawk), are black?

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Oct 152021
 

The Story of Joanna (IMDB) is a 1975 X-rated drama directed and written by Gerard Damiano and starring Terri Hall in the title role and Jamie Gillis as Jason.

Joanna comes from the “Golden Age of porn” in the 70s and early 80s when some hardcore adult films were made with higher production values for release with X-ratings in mainstream theatres, trying to reach a broader audience. This was also the heyday of mainstream softcore erotica films like Just Jaeckin’s Histoire D’O (1975) and the original Emmanuelle (1974), and edgier material like Nazisploitation classics The Night Porter (1974), Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS (1975) and Salon Kitty (1976). (I’ve heard that Damiano wanted to film Story of O but couldn’t get the rights, and made his own knock-off.)

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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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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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Aug 292020
 

“Miss Rebecca Thrall”, aired October 11, 2017 IMDB

The main plot of “Miss Rebecca Thrall” concerns a scheme by Waterday Financial to take out life insurance policies on poor people, and then bribe police officers with loans to kill them, and collect the money. 

The main agent of this operation is Miss Rebecca Thrall (played by Sarah Wynter) who negotiates with both the victims and the killers. She also keeps a man in a full rubber suit and hood bound to a St. Andrew’s cross in her basement. 

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Aug 152020
 

Bones S10E03, “The Purging of the Pundit”, aired October 9, 2014 IMDB

Unlike in the previous Bones episode, “The Girl in the Fridge”, BDSM is closely integrated into both the mystery and Booth’s character arc in “The Purging of the Pundit”. 

Forensic procedurals are all about the puzzle, and in this case the victim’s masochism provides the puzzle. The body of a right-wing media figure, “Hutch” Whitehouse, is found partially consumed by animals. His corpse shows signs of being bound and tortured, including repeatedly struck in the testicles, but it also appears to be consensual.

Fuentes: “It’s like he was enjoying being murdered.”

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Aug 112020
 

Bones S01E08 “The Girl in the Fridge”, aired November 29, 2005 IMDB

Bones is another forensic investigation procedural TV series. 

The case begins with the discovery of a decayed skeleton in an abandoned refrigerator. The forensic anthropologists determine that the deceased is a missing young woman, Maggie Schilling, who was held for ransom, but then the kidnappers broke off communication. She also had a condition that made her bones brittle, particularly stress fractures in her wrists.

The series’ protagonist, Dr. Temperance Brennan, says:

“She did fight, Michael. They kept her tied up like an animal. But she fought. That’s how she got those stress fractures, because she was bound and struggling.”

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Aug 072020
 

Eurotrip is a 2004 teen comedy. 

Eurotrip is a very parochial movie, with the American teens treating Europe as if it is a terrifying land of threatening depravity. The plot itself is premised on heterosexual gay panic: the protagonist doesn’t realize that he has become email pals with a German girl and thinks a man is propositioning him. When he realizes his mistake, he goes on a trip with some friends across Europe to find his love and make amends. 

Much of the comedy is the characters attempting and failing to enjoy European pleasures supposedly forbidden in puritanical America. (Two of the “vices”, cannabis and absinthe, are now mostly legal in the USA.)

Madam Vandersexxx (Lucy Lawless)
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Jul 272020
 

CSI:NY S01E16 “Hush”, aired February 23, 2005 IMDB

Yet another dead naked woman in bondage. CSIs Aiden and Danny investigate.

It turns out that the deceased was strapped to a device on the front of a speeding pickup truck, House of Gord-style. The truck collided with a tree, killing her. 

An abandoned truck found nearby has a strange device mounted on the front, which includes a label saying, “Place Shoulders Here”. This includes a device with a red button. The truck contains a bag with a latex bodysuit, a ball gag with teeth impressions, and straps.

Aiden: “Pulp Fiction. Nice.”

Danny and Aiden find a toybag in the abandoned truck
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