Nov 152023
 

I Love a Man in Uniform (also released as A Man in Uniform) is a 1993 Canadian psychological drama. IMDB

Henry Adler, a bank clerk and would-be actor, witnesses a police officer be shot. He seems excited by this.

Henry auditions for a secondary role, Officer Flanagan, on a TV cop show, Crimewave. He shows an aggressive and domineering side as he pushes around a female production assistant.

Continue reading »
Aug 142023
 

L-R: Josef von Sternberg, Marlene Dietrich, on set

Dishonored is a 1931 spy thriller directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Marlene Dietrich as Marie Kolverer, aka “X-29”.

Set in during the First World War and loosely based on the life of historical spy Mata Hari, this is the third of seven collaborations between director von Sternberg and star Dietrich, following The Blue Angel (1930) and Morocco (1930). Dietrich usually played remote, independent and seductive women in these films.

Continue reading »
Feb 042023
 

O Fantasma is a 2000 Portuguese film directed by Joao Pedro Rodrigues. It concerns Sergio, a young man working as a night time garbage collector in Lisbon, and his sexual development.

Sergio is, to say the least, alienated. He inhabits a largely empty night-time world. While he flirts with a female co-worker, Fatima, his main sexual connections with others are wordless, anonymous sexual encounters with men. Not only does he connect to the company’s mascot dog, he’s animal-like himself. He rarely speaks, and often sniffs and licks people and things. Sergio just doesn’t have the social vocabulary to express his sexual identity. He operates more on intuition.

Continue reading »
Dec 172021
 

Hooven, Valentine. 1997. Tom of Finland: his life and times. New York: St Martin’s Press.

One thing I’ve been curious about in the life of Touko Laaksonen, better known the world over as Tom of Finland, is did he participate in BDSM?

Hooven’s 1993 biography explores the deeply closeted, all-male, outdoors world that formed Laaksonen’s sexuality. There were a handful of bars and cafes in 1940s and 1950s Finland that catered to gay men, but they upheld a culture of effeminacy he didn’t care for. (Hooven makes the point that the “queen” stereotype was a way of asserting gay identity publicly in decades past.) His way to be gay was to partake in furtive, anonymous, nighttime encounters in parks, bus stations and the like.

Continue reading »
Aug 202020
 

Sex and the City S02E12, “La Douleur Exquise!”, aired August 22nd, 1999 IMDB Title translates to “the exquisite pain”

Sex and the City was a popular dramedy series about single women in New York City around the turn of the millennium. 

The opening narration of this episode makes it clear that BDSM is just another aesthetic to be adopted, consumed, and abandoned, befitting the series’ consumerist ethos. 

Carrie (vo) “New York City restaurants are always looking for the next new angle to grab that elusive and somewhat jaded Manhattan palate. Last year it was fusion Cajun. Last month it was mussels from Brussels. And tonight, it’s S&M.”

Continue reading »
Jun 152020
 

Gates, Katharine. 2000. Deviant desires: incredibly strange sex. New York: Juno Books.

Gates’s book is an exploration of a particular phase in Western sexual history. This is the pre-Google, pre-Facebook, pre-Fetlife Internet, when finding people who shared your kink was more a matter of luck and word-of-mouth than just typing something into a search bar. The people Gates interviews are an assortment of eccentrics who put their kinks out in early Internet forums, self-published newsletters, magazines and videos. Most of these media channels are hobbies and labours of love; a few attain the level of cottage industries that might break even some day. Some might even be seen as a kind of outsider art, fascinating precisely because of their lack of commercial slickness.

The why of fetishes has puzzled sexologists and psychologists since the concept was developed. Is there some deeper symbolic meaning to a fetish, or is it just a matter of a person randomly imprinting on a particular stimulus? Gates’ approach is primarily anthropological, not psychological, but she still tries to decode some fetishes.

People like to say that there are no new kinks under the sun, but the balloon fetish proves them wrong. Every era seems to have a fetish that is uniquely their own, and there’s something so post-modern/pop culture/McDonaldsTM/VH1 about balloons that the idea of eroticizing them feels particularly contemporary. […] It makes sense that the balloon fetish is such a new thing; after all, rubber latex toy balloons were not even invented until the 1920s, and have only been a routine part of the American suburban home since the 1950s. And although there exist looners as old as 70 years of age, most balloon fetishists are in their twenties and thirties. It’s really a baby-boomer and Gen-X phenomenon.

Pg.74-5

Many of the fetishists interviewed cite some childhood experience as the moment of recognition of their kink, such as seeing something in a seemingly innocuous film or TV show. E.g. the scene in the 1971 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in which a girl blows up into a sphere is well known to body inflation fetishists. However, most don’t see those moments as causing their kinks.

The first time Inflate 123 say the film at the age of five he cried inconsolably. […] By the third time that he saw it he just shut up, stared, and kept his fascination to himself. “It was the first external ‘proof’ of the concepts that were already swimming around in my head.”

Pg.99

A giantess fetishist has a similar belief, that such moments only catalyze or activate something that already existed in the person.

Ed [Lundt] doesn’t think that seeing growth stories in his childhood caused him to be a giantessophile, however. “I think that somewhere in the soup of one’s subconscious all these elements are floating around and the trigger just acts like a magnet drawing iron filings together. I starts to form a thing, and as you get older you see Village of the Giants, and it forms even more. When you hit puberty, you add on the sexual aspect and then it becomes the sex fantasy.” Ed feels that people become macros because of a combination of genetics and circumstances.

Pg.117

Twenty years later, it’s clear that Gates was definitely thinking ahead.

The sexual conversation is changing, and it’s changing rapidly. With the desktop publishing revolution and the advent of the internet, millions of people have suddenly gained access to previously unavailable information about non-conformist sex. New erotic communities are forming every day. Deviants with the most obscure and specific kinks — who always thought they were alone in the world — can now communicate with likeminded poeple.

Pg. 11

Today on Internet porn sites like Clips4Sale, you will find media catering to a mind-boggling variety of hyper-specific fetishes. Nonetheless, it is interesting to look back at this era, when the sexual frontier was charted and settled by people following their bliss, not bent on making money by exploiting a niche fetish.

May 172020
 

“Escape from the Dungeon!”, aired September 26, 2010

Bored to Death is an American comedy TV series (IMDB) about Jonathan Ames, a struggling writer who moonlights as an “unlicensed private detective”.

In “Escape from the Dungeon!” (S02E01), Jonathan meets Drake, a mounted NYPD officer, who needs his name removed from the hard drive of the BDSM dungeon he frequents before it is raided by the police. He says the dungeon is involved in money laundering, not that it will be raided for sex work charges.

Mistress Florence (Kristen Johnson) is not impressed with Jonathan
Continue reading »