Jan 152024
 

Police Woman S03E21 “Bondage”, aired March 1, 1977, dir. Arnold Laven, wri. Irv Pearlberg & Frank Telford

Police Woman was a 1974-1978 cop show that starred Angie Dickinson as Sgt. “Pepper” Anderson, set in Los Angeles. Episode “Bondage” involved Pepper infiltrating the porn industry.

The opening scene is set in an old-timey looking room, with a woman tied up by the wrists, standing. A maid (in a completely ahistorical uniform) comes in to help her “Countess”. (The background sound of a camera whirring betrays that this is a performance.) A man in period-ish wig comes in, dismisses the maid, and rips the back of the Countess’ nighgown. (No actual nudity, of course.)

Manny the Director: “And cut!”

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May 262023
 

NYPD Blue S04E13 “Tom and Geri”, aired January 28, 1997

Geri, a police administrative assistant, has had an un-returned crush on Detective Andy Sipowicz. (In a previous episode, S04E06, she told him she was wearing rubber underwear.) The B story of this episode is that Geri tells Sipowicz that a friend she knows, Tom, has died in bondage gear in his apartment. Sipowicz, who wants nothing to do with Geri, hands it off to his superior, who in turn delegates it to a pair of female detectives, Russell and Kirkendall. Even at this stage, Geri seems distrustful of everyone.

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May 252023
 

I’m giving a webinar on kink in mainstream media on 18 June 2023 at 10:00 AM Pacific. This is based on my ongoing research for The Celluloid Dungeon. I’ll be digging deep into the history of kink in film, going back to the dawn of the moving image and showing some of the moments and images and individuals. Admission is free for CARAS subscribers and $25 for everyone else.

Apr 192023
 

Lost in Space is a science fiction TV series about a family stranded in deep space. Episode S02E25 “The Colonists” aired March 15, 1967.

Many science fiction or fantasy TV series would include episodes that featured amazonian or matriarchal societies, doubtless for an element of sex appeal and the carnivalesque pleasure of inverting gender roles.

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Apr 082023
 

Aired May 10, 1994

Roseanne was a popular sitcom in the 1990s, built around the stand up comedy of Roseanne Barr.

Roseanne’s elderly mother suffers a minor hip injury and has to move into her daughter’s house to recover, causing friction with Roseanne and her family. Bev’s friend Jake from the retirement home drops by and reveals that Bev injured herself during sex with him. Roseanne struggles with talking about sexual topics with her mother, and Bev is equally uncomfortable, after a lifetime of sexual ignorance and bad experiences. Roseanne and Bev awkwardly talk it out.

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Apr 062023
 
Marika Engelhardt as Lindsay and Nicky Excitement as Hugh

Easy is a 2016 dramedy series about modern sex and romance. It’s loosely an anthology: most of the stories are self-contained, but certain character recur.

“Private Eyes” (season 3, episode 2, aired 10 May 2019) follows Hugh (Nicky Excitement) a technician who works for a private security company. Hugh is a kind of awkward guy, like an overgrown teenager with a fixation on martial arts. He goes on two dates, which end with polite but firm rejections by the women.

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Oct 102022
 
Publicity still of Lillian D’Arc and Corbin Bernsen. Note that we do not see the actress in this outfit in the episode.

L.A. Law S07E10 “Spanky and the Art Gang”, aired January 14, 1993

L.A. Law was an ensemble dramedy about a Los Angeles law firm. LIke detective procedurals, legal procedurals bring the characters into a variety of situations, and one popular topic is BDSM, usually in the form of pro dominatrixes.

In this case, the law firm takes as a client Claudia Von Rault, aka Mistress Zenia (played by Lillian D’Arc). She’s charged with involuntary manslaughter of Eric Schuller, who died during a session. The lawyers are initially reluctant to take the sensational case, but the deceased had business entanglements with the firm’s partners and they want it handled in-house. 

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Apr 292022
 

Aired April 7, 2011 IMDB

“Unleashed” is the first Lady Heather episode without William Peterson as Gil Grissom, after the actor’s departure from the show. It also retreads some of the same ground as the notorious “Fur and Loathing in Las Vegas” episode (to be discussed). 

This time, the dead body is a woman in a leotard who got mauled to death by a mountain lion in the woods. The woman shows signs of having been beaten and restrained. 

Further examination reveals feline dental prosthetics and signs of being hit by a stun gun. ID’d as Iona Vail, who ran a battered women’s shelter. The co-manager of the shelter, Debra, says Iona left weeks ago.

Examining the victim’s address book reveals she was seeing “Dr. K”, which turns out to be Dr. Heather Kessler, formerly “Lady Heather”. She now has a PhD, a certificate in sex therapy, and an office that shows her taste for Victorian furnishings. 

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Apr 272022
 

CSI S09E05 “Leave Out All The Rest” IMDB Aired November 6, 2008

The discovery of a dead body (what else?) with the marks of S&M leads Grissom back to Heather Kessler. 

In this case, it’s a set of markings from needle play around the man’s nipples, out of place next to all the corpse’s other injuries. 

Grissom: “S and M?”

Willows: “Gone very, very wrong.”

ME: “These stab wounds are brutal, random and postmortem”, 

Willows: “Which is inconsistent with S&M.”

ME: “Well, it’s hard to take pleasure in someone’s pain once they’re dead.”

Willows: “Which is the ‘gone wrong’ part.”

After the low point of the last episode, in which Heather was offering herself up to be murdered for money to provide for her grand-daughter, she’s somewhat recovered. No longer a dominatrix, she’s finished a Masters in psychology and is a practising therapist. 

Heather’s transition to therapist from dominatrix who acts like a therapist makes a degree of sense. It’s consistent with the trope of pro-dominatrix-as-caregiver that turns up so often in mainstream media. (E.g. Going Under, Personal Services). It further desexualizes an already desexualized character. In this episode, Grissom is grieving his beakup with Sara Sidle, and his emotionally stunted interactions with Heather are with her as a caregiver, not a lover.

Also note that after being much more mobile and active in the previous two episodes, Heather reverts to being stationary in her home. 

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Apr 152022
 

“The Good, the Bad and the Dominatrix” Aired May 10, 2007, IMDB

In Lady Heather’s previous appearance, we learn that her deceased daughter Zoe may have had a child. The fourth Lady Heather episode follows up on that plot thread. 

This time, Lady Heather meets an unknown person in a Wild West theme park. The man strangles her, and she passes out. The night watchmen finds her unconscious and calls the police. 

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