In researching the history of consensual sadomasochism, there isn’t a comprehensive body of knowledge to draw upon, no established canon of reference works, no Journal of Sadomasochistic Studies.
Instead, I have data points: case studies, books (often anonymous), anecdotes, images, etc. I’ll admit that sometimes what is and isn’t a data point is decided on the “I know it when I see it” principle. Connecting those points requires a certain amount of guesswork and judgment calls.
For example: Dr. Samuel Johnson, English man of letters of the Enlightenment, and his relationship with his close friend Hester Thrale. The latter’s posthumous effects, sold at auction in 1823, included a padlock and fetters. Thrale identified it as “Johnson’s padlock, committed to my care in the year 1768.” In 1767 or 1768, Thrale wrote that “our stern philosopher Johnson trusted me… with a secret far dearer to him than his life”. On other occasions , she wrote that “this great, this formidable Doctor Johnson kissed my hand, ay & my foot too upon his knees!” and quoted him saying, “a woman has such power between the ages of twenty five and forty five, that she may tie a man to a post and whip him if she will.”
A little rope-play & sex from 1920s France… this is from a antique erotica photoseries that I’ve been trying to complete the past few years. And lo & behold – just a couple weeks ago I purchased a vintage porn photo collection dated at 1927 with several more of this couple, so just a couple more photos to go! If anyone has more images in this series, please do feel free to drop me a line…
LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- Six months after the remnants of a sado-masochistic swingers club were discovered in the sub-basement of a building on Louisville's historic Whiskey Row, the club's paintings have survived the interior demolition of one of the buildings.
"I was surprised they were still here," said Judson Baker, the artist who led a team of about five people painting the sub-basement's brick wall in the late 1990's.
I’m a fan of the American actor William Holden, and last night I caught up with a 1962 film of his that I never saw before. The Counterfeit Traitor is the story of a American-born Swedish businessman (Holden) who becomes a spy for the Allies during World War 2, gathering information since as a neutral Swede he can travel back and forth to wartime Germany. It’s quite tense and exciting, and thoughtful about the nature of human responsibility as well.
But for the purposes of this blog, what stood out in the film for me was a scene where Holden was walking through the streets of Hamburg seeking his contact to help him get away from Germany and the Gestapo. It turns out that this contact is a dominatrix who sits in an open window advertising her stern services, played by the German actress Ingrid van Bergen.
Having a bratty girl-child mouth-off to her master may be cute, but underneath it all lies -- as sure as those ruffled panties -- the idea that she will eventually heel and heed her master. Or, if she does not, then he is less-than-a-man and plays cuckhold to her charms. Sure, all this can only make it funnier; but did they get it?
There is evidence of BDSM in artwork and literature throughout history. Probably the most famous descriptions come from the works of the Marquis de Sade (from whom the word "sadist" is derived) in the late 1700s, however there are countless other examples to be found in books, illustrations, and early photography. Unfortunately people of color were sadly underrepresented in most cases.
One of the most resented stereotypes about BDSM is that the only person who would willingly consent to it must be “a damaged victim choosing submission as a way of healing from or processing past trauma." But what exactly is the objection to people...
If there’s a predominant theme in Cole’s book on the history of gay fashion in the twentieth century, it’s that gay fashion is always imperfectly mimetic, a tangled mix of “passing, minstrelization and capitulation”, to quote sociologist Martin P. Levine (pg. 3)
Even before the trial of Oscar Wilde, there was the trial and acquittal of Ernest Boulton (aka “Fanny”) and Frederick Payne (aka “Stella”) in 1871, two homosexual men who were also crossdressers and sex workers (Pg. 15-16). Ever since, those three categories have been conflated in the public mind (sometimes with justification). Gay men have overlapped with and been in fashion dialectic with other marginal groups (sex workers, soldiers, sailors, aristocrats, police, punks, bikers, artists, etc) for a variety of reasons: camouflage, recognition both covert and overt, political statements, defensive intimidation, generational differentiation, heightening male beauty, conspicuous consumption, personal fetishes or parody.