Sunday, May 5, 2013

Wonder Woman

Sensation Comics #19 (July 1943)  / Linda Carter, 1975 / 2010

Kink has been seeping into our culture for a very long time now and there are somethings that are more obvious than others. Perfect example: Wonder Woman with her waist chinching bustier, bullet-proof cuffs and lasso of truth there's a lot of pervy stuff to work with. When you know the background of her inventor it all becomes clear. William Moulton Martson was a psychologist, feminist, and inventor who lived in a polyamrous relationship with his wife Elizabeth and his research assistant Olive Byne. His relationship with these women would influence his development of Wonder Woman. He believed that submission to women was a noble and potentially world saving practice that would lead to the establishment of a ideal matriarchal society.

He once wrote that "erotic love is the emotional source of that all-important social trait, willing submission to other people." He was convinced that as a political and economic equality became a reality, women could and would use sexual enslavement to achieve domination over men, who would happily submit to their loving authority.  – Wonder Woman: The Complete History by Les Daniels

He also invented the lie detector.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Hot Topic of Kink

Malcolm McLaren and Vivianne Westwood's shop, 1974-1976

There's a new exhibition coming up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the influence of punk in fashion called Punk: Chaos to Couture. It brings up a lot of issues on the appropriation and commercialization of a subculture. What does it mean when "punk" is The Ramones, Vivienne Westwood and April Lavigne (I'm no expert, but doing infomericals for an acne treatment is not punk rock). In a New York Magazine survey, "punk" was defined as: a type of music, a political act, a lifestyle, a state of mind and a way of dressing.

And all of the above.

I think the same thing can be said for BDSM. I consider BDSM to be a sexual activity, a political act, a lifestyle, a state of mind, and a way of dressing. But I identify as kinky and those in the survey identified as punk. What about people who don't? What punk was and what punk is are different things. Or are they?

CBGBs is a JohnVarvatos store and The Hellfire Club is a Dos Caminos restaurant and I was too young to go to either of them in their heyday. If only there was a kinky Jane Jacbos around to fight for the preservation of New York BDSM clubs

I was having a conversation with a friend on whether or not kink is going "mainstream". I don't think so. 50 Shades of Grey is the Hot Topic of kink.

I think the popular conception of BDSM is very focused on what people do and wear and not so much about what it means psychologically or emotionally. Having a mohawk and a safety-pin through your nose doesn't make you punk rock and owning a flogger and a leather corset doesn't make you kinky. Sales of fake handcuffs and butt-plugs might go up for a bit, but I don't think more people are going to suddenly become sadists, masochists, dominants and submissives. I think some people might think it's weird, some people might try it out once or twice on Valentine's Day, and a few might think, "Yes! This is it!".

What I hope is that BDSM becomes more accepted and kinky people less marginalized. But I'm not all that worried about it becoming mainstream. The day I see Madison Young in a Proactiv commercial is the day I'll start getting worried.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Origin story

I had the pleasure of giving a class on the Perception of Kink in Popular Culture at Dark Odyssey Winter Fire in February and as I was preparing my presentation, it occurred to me that I really think this could be a book. I'm not sure what exactly it will be, something in between an academic exploration and a Taschen book. So, I'm going to be using this blog as a kind outline and a place to organize my ideas and thoughts and hopefully get some inspiration and information from all of you.

So here's where all of this started for me:

There were three things I can trace back to the origins of interest in BDSM.

Allen Jones, Table, 1969

The first was this photo of this Allen Jones (1969) sculpture. I'm not sure where I saw it, I'm assuming it was from one of my father's art magazines. I don't remember what I thought of it at the time or what I thought it meant, but it stuck with me and has never really left.

The Jones inspired Korova Milk Bar scene in A Clockwork Orange, 1971

The second was the nymphomaniac scene in Fellini’s Satyricon. Here, the hero who is suffering from some erectile dysfunction is sent to a man in the middle of the desert. To cope with his wife's uncontrollable nymphomania, she is kept tied up in a wagon, available for the use of any man who wants her.

Fellini’s Satyricon, 1969

The third is My Fair Lady. With it's blatant pygmalionism and dominant / submissive power exchange, I always thought it was one of the kinkiest movies ever made.

My Fair Lady, 1964

Bill Ward

Then I discovered porn, Anne Rice and the Sleeping Beauty trilogy and I started to learn what S&M was "supposed" to be and the visions I had in my head were replaced by what was essentially an Ellen Von Unwuerth photo.

Revenge by Ellen von Unwerth, 2003

That picture in my head turned out to be the picture in most people's heads, too. An ex-boyfriend once told me that he wasn't kinky, he just liked the way it looked. I understood what he meant immediately. I had a pretty clear image in my head and you probably have a similar image in your head, but then I thought what does that mean?

What does kink look like?

Human Fetish

Doujin Kim

Friday, December 28, 2012

What if Kate Spade designed a dungeon?

I was shopping for a wallet the other day. I'm one of those people who consider gray a color and the majority of my wardrobe is black with the occasional splash of color and that color is usually red. However, these days I keep leaning towards yellow. Bright, blinding, sunshiny yellow.

Cute right? I think my subconscious is rebelling against the overwhelming use of black and red in all things sexy and kinky. One of the reasons why I started blogging about this stuff was because I was frustrated with the seemingly limited visual vocabulary used in dungeons, clothes, websites, book covers... anything related to BDSM. If it was kinky, it was in black and red. I get it completely, both colors signify an after-hours sultriness. Black is sexy and dangerous, the color of leather. Red is bold and visceral, the color of blood.

Color is a tool for communication and one important aspect of branding is being able to "own" a color: Herm├ęs orange, UPS brown, Tiffany blue. Halloween has orange and black. Christmas owns green and red. Sex seems to be red and black. But is that it? Is there room for a color palette that represents the vast spectrum that is human sexuality? The hanky code is a great example but seems to be limited to the bandana in the back pocket. I'm not personally into Littles, but at least they wear bright colors!

I always find it interesting that in most clubs if you are not in fetish wear the minimum requirement is to be in all black. What if my fetish is for tweedy English professors or jockeys? I've had this vision in my head of a dungeon that was on the top floor of a building, with huge floor to ceiling windows with sunlight streaming in and billowy white curtains flowing through open windows, and all my play parties would be on a Sunday afternoon, after brunch, and there would be Kir Royals and fresh flowers... but I digress.

Is someone wearing all pink automatically assumed to be channeling a little girl? Would a sadistic dominant wearing all bright green seem as authoritarian?

Writer Sarah Vowell told a story on This American Life about getting a "goth makeover". Part of the process was choosing a "goth name". Vowell chose Becky. Her stylists said that she had transitioned so past the obvious and went right into the heart of darkness. They called this being "in the pink".

I was once at a kink event and walking around the dungeon was a young man dressed completely in white. He seemed so much more transgressive and subversive than everyone around him. I also bet he could find his clothes in the dark faster than anyone else.