Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Kaanga: Jungle Queen?

Click on the pic to see a full size version of the image.

When I did the Wonder Woman story, I found many non-bondage or non-Wonder Woman images that really deserved commentary, or at the very least some snark, but I couldn't use them for various reasons, such as, "too much work for one story."

But now that I have a blog, there's no reason I can't haul them out for some fun as occasion demands.

Take this cover from Ka'anga the Jungle King for example. Now am I wrong, or is Ka'anga looking a little Jungle Queenish here?

Maybe it's the unfortunately full, unfortunately reddish lower lips on Ka'anga -- a very femme look. Or maybe it's his extremely regular features -- he's boyishly, almost girlishly handsome.

But mostly I think it's the way he stares off into the distance instead of at the damsel he's rescuing, and that fakey beauty queen smile he's wearing. It's like he's posing for a photo.

I mean, he's in the middle of climbing a limb hanging across a waterfall to rescue a bound and bikini clad damsel from certain death as the canoe she's in is just beginning to plummet to its doom, and he can't be bothered to even look at her in all her nubile helplessness or at what he's doing as he rescues her. It's like he's saying, "Hey, sorry I've got my hands full at the moment rescuing this ditzy chick from doom and all, but the important thing is, let's make sure we get my good side for this cover shot."

The damsel also seems to be almost smiling. Nobody is taking plunging to her doom thing seriosly, including her. It could, of course, be a matter of perspective -- don't look at all carefully at the various items in the foreground and background and then especially don't think how they might relate to one another. The canoe, the waterfall, the branch Ka'anga is hanging from, everything is wrong. The waterfall is too far away. The branch looks like it's growing from a tree hanging in midair over the waterfall. The canoe looks like it has magically adhered to the damsel because it's been quite awhile since either was near the waterfall.

All in all, a very disquieting image.

Monday, December 24, 2007

BUSTED: Busty Neighbors and Busty Models

This is Glorianne Gilbert. She is an actual busty model. She doesn't look anything LIKE the stars of "Busty Neighbors" and "Busty Models." They are not busty. (Click on the pic to see a larger image.)

So I did a fast-forward scan through a Skinamax flick called "Busty Neighbors" via cable on demand, and I gotta say, I was disappointed.

The title had aroused certain expectations, you see. Namely, that a large proportion of the actresses in the film would be ... you know ... busty. Large racks, that sort of thing.

Sorry, it was not to be. All of the leads had very nice breasts, but none of them had large breasts.

There were only four characters in the film that had large breasts, which sounds like a lot, but "Busty Neighbors" was a clip show, and it had a couple of dozen characters appearing in it, mostly in the form of brief clips of them having sex, which was the case for all four of the actually busty women who appeared in "Busty Neighbors."

The four women who served as the plot device for stringing the clips together, who got a lot more screen time, were all notably NOT busty.

Frankly, if you're going to do a flick called "Busty Neighbors" your hosts should be, I dunno, Kim Dawson, Nikki Fritz, Rebecca Love and most of all Glori Anne Gilbert.

"Busty Models" is another similarly misleading title. There is one woman in it who may be called "busty" by any reasonable standards, and one of the female leads is well-endowed enough that she could be called "busty" by non-porn standards, but ... "Busty Models" IS porn, and she's not busty by porn standards. (However, her breasts are naturals, so I will WILLINGLY call her busty.)

I think you an reasonably say that porn-standard "busty" is a woman who, if she is wearing a T-shirt, is IMMEDIATELY identifiable as having a large rack the moment she enters a room. Male eyes are drawn to her breasts almost without any willpower at all.

That said, every other female sex actor in the movie is modestly endowed -- beautiful breasts, in all cases, but not "busty" by even non-porn standards, in fact, mostly A-cups if you know what I mean.

So why do these filmmakers call their movies "Busty" when that adjective is just plain misleading? One suspects a cynical notion that their videos will get more buyers if they are called "Busty Models" rather than "Modestly Endowed Models," which is probably true, but still, it's bad marketing. As I explained in my article on the swift demise of the Birds of Prey TV series, if one markets a TV show or a movie as having a certain appeal, then you have to follow through on what that appeal is if you plan on marketing anything like it in the future, because of course the people who find what you are marketing appealing will notice that it isn't there, and will avoid your future products thereafter, having been hosed once by you.

Thus, I would advise anyone reading this column who finds "Busty" to be attractive, to be very leery of "Busty" anything movies, with the exception of "Busty Cops I" and "Busty Cops 2," both of which I have seen and both of which feature actual busty actresses playing the lead roles.

This has been a regulary-guy public service message.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Are Gor novels or Ginger movies possible nowadays?

I was thinking .... would it be possible to create a book/movie/TV series like the Gor novels or the Ginger movies, which are chock full of bondage scenes, but are not clearly recognized as being all about the bondage by the mainstream folks? I mean, the first Gor novel was written back in 1967, and the first Ginger movie was made in 1970, when kinky stuff Just Didn't Happen in the mainstream, or if it did, it was as an example of psychologically disturbed people being psychologically disturbed (see: "Story of O").

I think because the Gor novels were first accepted as mainstream SF, and the Ginger movies as standard sexploitation detective movies, they gave viewers and readers who would never ordinarily touch an overtly kinky title a certain license to read a Gor novel/watch a Ginger movie. Kind of the way a lot of guys who'd never be seen buying a copy of Maxim or FHM will buy a copy of the Sport Illustrated swimsuit edition because it's not not a men's magazine, it's Sports illustrated.

(I've got something more along these lines coming up, just can't decide if it's for the website or the blog.)

But things were different back then: the common perception was that bondage was something only practiced by beret-wearing beatniks in New York City with the aid of capri-pants wearing hotties like Bettie Page. It wasn't something that people expected to see in mainstream books and movies, unless presented specificaly as a bondage story, like "Story of O." So when they watched Ginger or read the Gor novels, they didn't really see it.

Of course, people are a lot more sophisticated about bondage nowadays, but they're also a lot less sensitized to it in certain respect. That is, during the recent episode of "Desire" where the bad guy spent so much time fondling and gloating over his bound victim, there's a DEFINITE sexual bondage subtext going on there. I think modern audiences would tend to note and not be particularly upset about this because it's just something a director might do in an edgy damsel in distress scene. Their awareness of sexual bondage has in a sense desensitized them.

So, the quest is, could someone do a bondage series of some kind now in a mainstream venue, without having it immediately recognized for what it is? Would the increased awareness of sexual bondage make them more apt to catch on, or would the desensitizing of audiences to sexual bondage imagery make them less apt to catch on?

And for bonus points, what sort of venue might work? That is, what sort of mainstream movie/TV/novel genre might work as effectively for bondage imagery as John Norman's sword and sand fantasies, or the Ginger movies' detective genre?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tina Louise And the 40-Year Bitgag Gap

Over on my website, I've got an article about the first-ever -- and just about ONLY bit gag to appear in mainstream US TV. (The article includes vidcaps, of course.) It was worn by Tina Louise on an episode of Bonanza back in 1968. Yes, THAT Tina Louise. She was doing a guest shot as an abducted frontier hottie, probably in preparation for her later role as a castaway on "Gilligan's Island."

The weird thing is, there were no bit gags seen on American TV until Fabiano Udenio wore one on the "Amazon" TV series in 1999. Practically another century -- certainly, another half century.

I'm not sure if there's any historical verisimilitude to the whole Indians/bit gag thing, especially since the tribe on Bonanza was clearly Hollywood Indians ... I mean, they can hear a squirrel coughing in the woods three miles away, but they don't NOTICE a bunch of burly white settlers sneaking up on them? Riiiiiight. Plus, being Hollywood Indians, they were probably mostly Jewish -- very characteristic of that tribe.

In any event, I doubt the historical use of bit gags by actual Indians on logical grounds. Either they needed to silence their captives or they didn't. And the thing is, bit gags won't silence a captive. They do almost nothing to control screaming. So I don't think they would have been used. The only reason I can think the director of whomever thought a bit gag would be right would be that it had that Western look so prized by pioneers and Indians in the old days. I mean, wood, leather straps -- it's practically a farm implement as it is.

Pity that line of thinking never caught on.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Culture, Politics and that other thing

Culture and politics have an uneasy and complex relationship in human society. At times, culture determines what is politically possible. At other times, politics determines whither the culture goes. I could make a case for its all being incredibly complex, but if we look at an example or two, it should be fairly clear how things work.

Take the Hayes Code which imposed a censorship system over American movies from 1934 to circa 1965. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Hollywood culture was leaning strongly in the direction of making movies that were riskier, edgier and, well, sexier than anything had come before. As I showed in my reviews of "Roman Scandals of 1934" and "Sign of the Cross," themes of female nudity, lesbianism, and kink were being explored, subtly by modern standards, but by the standards of the 1930s, in a very direct way.

Some Americans were ready for this -- such films tended to do very well at the box office. It was the culture of the times that made them ready for it -- there were no laws or policies requiring them to like sexier, edgier movies.

Some elements of the American public didn't like these edgier, sexier movies, most notably, the Catholics. The Catholic Church was of course free to ban members from seeing any movies they liked, and they did ban a lot of movies. But they didn't like the fact that the movies existed at all, and the fact that non-Catholics could see them. They felt the movies were having an ill effect on American culture and so they formed the Catholic Legion of Decency, later renamed the Legion of Decency so that Protestant fundamentalists could get in on the er, "fun."

The fun of course lay in forcing those who liked edgy, sexy movies to forego them. The Catholics and the fundamentalists had been decrying the immorality and such they saw in movies for decades, but with no success -- people kept rewarding filmmakers whose works featured near-nudity and sexual themes with money.

It wasn't until the League got with the Protestant fundmentalists and got organized and political that they started having an effect. Congressional leaders responded to their pressure by making noises about instituting some kind of censorship system to keep the immorality in Hollywood in check.

When the Hollywood studio heads figured that they were on the verge of having to submit their films to a government bureau before distributing them, they did the smart thing and instituted their own film censorship board, the Hayes Commission, named after Woody Hayes, a popular bureaucrat selected to head the Commission.

All of this was politics, of course. The League of Decency had gained adherents and developed political clout, political leaders followed through by pressuring the Hollywood studio heads into developing their own censorship body, and the studio heads, whose culture was all about making money, set up such a body to avoid having the clumsy and not-so-profit-oriented hand of a government bureaucracy intruding in their affairs.

Hayes was inclined to regard the post of head of the Hayes Commission as a sinecure, and did little or nothing to institute any effective censorship regimen in Hollywood. The studio heads were quite pleased with this -- their culture was about making money, and Hayes was inclined to let them make whatever kinds of films made money. All was well -- unless you were a True Believer member of the Legion of Decency or similar organization (and there were a lot of similar organizations) and you noticed that movies had only gotten raunchier since the Hayes Commission went into effect.

That changed when Joseph Breen, a "stealth" Catholic (he acknowledged his Catholicism but kept his personal connections to the leadership of the Legion of Decency under wraps) who took over when Hayes retired. Breen brought the hammer down hard, developing the infamous (link to Hays Code here) Hays Code (it could more accurately be called the Breen Code) and enforcing it. For the next three decades, American films would be censored to a degree almost unimaginable in modern times.

This was a purely political effect, it had nothing to do with changes in culture. The people who were happy to shell out money for tickets to films that featured near-nudity, sexiness and general edginess, did not go away, nor did their tastes changes. They were prevented from seeing the movies they would have wanted to see by a bureaucracy created by political pressure. These people just watched other films -- wholesome, often boring films that reflected the sanitized values of the Hays Code.

Thus, American films reflected a very conservative culture for 30 years, and it can reasonably be argued that this was an entirely artificial political effect, because in other media that were not so heavily subject to the yoke of censorship, things definitely got riskier, edgier and sexier.

For example, I've already written about the way comic books went wild with the BDSM imagery during the 1940s under cover of showing just how nasty those Nazis and Japanese Imperial Army types were. And books, the other major media of the time, were the subject of sporadic attempts at censorship, but were basically able to portray stuff that filmmakers couldn't even THINK about. Think, "Tropic of Cancer," "Little Birds," most anything by D.H. Lawrence, John Willie's "Sweet Gwendoline" comic, Irving Klaw's "Movie Star News," and "Playboy" all of which (and much more) developed while movies labored under the heavy hand of the Hays Code.

The Hays Commission ruled, and the Hays Code stayed in effect until the mid-1960s. The cultural enlightenment that began in the late 1950s and burgeoned in the 1960s meant that there was little or no support for the stodgy values of the 1930s that were preserved like fossils in amber by the Hayes Code. Plus, European films, unburdened by the Hayes Code, most especially with respect to the little matters of sex and nudity, and with a sufficiently recovered market that they didn't have to go after American audiences to succeed, were starting to make inroads on American markets with films like "I Am Curious Yellow" and "Sweet Ecstasy."

Well, when the Hollywood power elite saw their lunch being eaten by the Europeans, even though it was a very tiny portion of their lunch, that pretty much doomed the Hays Commission. It was disbanded and replaced by the MPAA, an organization that purportedly didn't seek to censor movies, but to simply provide a guide to the nature of their content so people could decide whether they wanted to see the films (and whether they wanted their kids to see the films).

(Of course, since movie theater chains wouldn't show any films that the MPAA rated X, there was still de facto censorship in place, but the "R" rating under the MPAA became a broad umbrella that included sex and nudity, just no shots of genitals "in action" as it were.)

All these changes are instances of political and organizational forces struggling to keep up with the culture. The Hayes Code froze official morality in the mode of the 1930s, and when the 1960s happened, there was a lot of catching up to do. The production code people and the Hollywood studios were so taken aback by the cultural changes they'd missed out on that they pretty much let directors do whatever they liked, and since the studio system was pretty much dead by the 60s, this ushered in a golden age of filmmaking that has not been equalled since and probably will not be equalled for some time to come, since much of the "gold" was filmmakers' dreams and ideas which had been long suppressed under the Hayes Code regimen.

I think by now you're probably getting the idea about culture vs. politics: generally, culture is the voluntary expression of the hopes, ideas, aspirations, interests and whatnot of people.

Politics is people banding together and imposing their will on other people, generally in a way that doesn't involve bloodshed, which often necessitates compromise (though not always -- the Hays Code, for example, wasn't a compromise of any kind).

Some interesting points: the degree to which cultural beliefs are reflected in politics is very roughly consistent with the degree to which those beliefs are widespread in the culture, but there are some important exceptions.

For example, back in the 1920s there were probably a lot more people who liked edgy, sexy movies than those who disliked them, but the people who didn't like sexy movies were the ones who won out. Why? Because they were ORGANIZED. They had a Legion of Decency and quite a few other organizations aimed at promoting more moral uprightness in their fellow man, especially when it came to nudity and S-E-X in the movies.

They just liked edgy movies. They weren't BOTHERED by the fact that other people didn't like edgy movies. It wasn't a big deal to them. They just liked 'em, they weren't living for the next one or anything. So when the censorship types decided to have themselves a culture war over the immorality in Hollywood, the other side didn't show up on the battlefield, and the censorship types won pretty much by default. (This is a slight exaggeration, of course. There were some writers viewing with alarm the rise of censorship in the 30s. But they never got any traction because most people who liked sexy, edgy movies just didn't care all that much.)

The pro-censorship types also benefitted from having the hierarchical organization of the Catholic Church leading the political drive (by all accounts, it was the Catholic Church leadership that really made the Hays Code happen). They already had a great deal of political clout and they knew how to get a message out to their congregations. (My deeply cynical mind also suspects that even back then certain Catholic preists might have had very good reason to want to keep knowledge of the full range of human perversity out of the public mind -- and that bit in the Hayes Code about not questioning authority -- very nice indeed for a kiddy-diddling preist.)

So politics is people banding together to impose their will on other people without actually invading their lands and putting everything to fire and the sword, and culture is the way people express themselves within a group. The more organized and politically oriented the group is, the more likely it is to be successful.

Culture is the voluntary way people exress themselves within a group -- the unwritten rules that people obey because they think they are right, whether or not the law demands that they obey them. Politics and culture can work together or in tandem to affect how societies work. The political side is generally pretty clear. But the cultural side can generate considerable murkiness. (Most of the perceived murkiness of politics is really culture imposing itself on politics, or working in opposition to it.

Cultural effects on society can be and often are murky and hard to understand because cultural rules are not always explicitly spelled out. In fact, people do not always understand the rules they are operating under.

There's a classic example of this from the early days of feminism in the 60s and 70s. Many men of the counterculture, as it was then called, embraced the concept of free love wholeheartedely, and feminism with it. But female feminists noticed a discrepancy among male counterculture types -- while they were completely down with the whole "free love" concept in the beanbags, when it was time to get organized and do things, it was "You'll be the secretary for our group, Wanda," and "Fetch us some coffee, Doris."

The counterculture guys had embraced the "free love" meme because it led to their getting laid a lot more often and more easily. But many of them had not embraced the whole "women as equals" meme that came with it under the rubric of feminism. The notion that women were best suited to certain roles in any group was still deeply embedded in their minds.

This wasn't intentional hypocrisy in many cases (it surely was in some cases). For many guys, their notions about the roles of women in groups went unrecognized and unexamined.

Even though they consciously embraced the ideas of feminism, the old memes about relations between the sexes, being part of their culture and therefore not explicitly spelled out, remained in their minds. It was a classic case of a deeply embedded meme remaining in someone's mind even though they had adopted beliefs that contradicted the meme. It happens a lot.

Got news for you. It's still happening. The Grand Kahuna of memes still lies buried in the psyches of people on both the right and the left, and they have no idea it's there, or how to deal with it. More on that later.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dangerous Attraction

If there's one characteristic that sorta defines B-movies it's that even when the filmmakers have something on the ball, they've only got half of it on the ball. Their plotting and characterization are often really strong in one area, only to be incredibly weak and cheesy in another, or the story starts out really strong and dissolves into so much Silly String mush halfway through.

So it is with "Dangerous Attraction," an erotic thriller starring Andrea Roth and Rae Dawn Chong. There's some promising development of the main character early on. Some of the minor characters are interesting. There's an interesting relationship between the main character and her female boss. Andrea Roth's character gets bound and gagged with duct tape -- but the film could have been so much more! I have a review with caps at my website.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Roman Scandals

Over at Bondagerotica I have a well-vidcapped review of "Roman Scandals," a weird Eddie Cantor comedy that slipped a load of nudity, bondage, slavegirls and general kinkiness into the American movie scene just prior to the descent of the infamous Hayes Code in 1934. Much of the stuff that's touted as pre-Hayes Code raunch could be aired at 8 p.m. on any weeknight and no one would even notice ... or watch -- even the Flanderses who claim to like censored stuff so much, because by modern standards it's pretty dull, for the most part, women thinking about having sex but not being seen doing it or getting naked or anything.

This movie delivers on the nakedness, to the fullest extent possible in 1933.

It even features a young Lucille Ball as a naked slavegirl. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Lifespan: Sibari From the 70s

Shibari, aka kinbaku in its consensual sex fun form, has been around in Japan since at LEAST the 17th Century and probably well before that. But it never made it to a mainstream venue that US audiences could enjoy until the 1970s, in the form of an odd little scene in an odd little European SF flick called "Lifespan." It seems that the local hottie who's been sleeping with all the smartest mad scientists has been sleeping with a mad scientist who has discovered what might be the key to immortality. It has something to do with DNA and the double helix, all very scientific you know, and not a mere excuse to show the exquisitely beautiful Tina Aumont tied up in shibari bondage because it contains the "double helix knot."

There's an article about it on my site, with pics of Tina all shibaried up. Check it out right here.

Oh, and the truly weird thing: despite the vastly increased awareness of Japanese bondage practices thanks to the success of adult manga and anime in the US, it hasn't showed up in a mainstream venue again since "Lifespan." Weird, eh?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

If I Ruled TV

What if all the network and cable TV programmers were all struggling to create programming that suited YOUR tastes instead of that mysterious 18-35 retarded male that they seem to like? How would that change TV?

For instance, take my tastes: news programs would be very different. Anytime a political or social figure made a statement it would be rigorously truth-squadded immediately after the statement was aired. Statements contrary to fact or egregious attempts at spin would be relentlessly exposed.

There would also be an ombudsman segment where egregious lies by political commentators on other channels would be truth squadded.

Any failure to do this would be considered cheap, shoddy journalism.

Most entertainment programming would be SciFi, fantasy and action/adventure programming of the sort that used to be commonplace on TV but has disappeared lately in favor of dull reality shows and CSI stuff. The programs would have predictable plots so you could have them on in the background without paying much attention to them while you did interesting stuff on your computer. Whenever anything interesting is about to happen, there'll be musical cues to let you know that a fight or a sex scene or a sense of wonder scene is about to happen, so you can watch.

Oh, there'd be sex scenes alrighty, but not enough to slow down the plot. Plenty of nudity, too. Maybe there'd be a secret code you could enter to blip that stuff out if you objected to if. But they'd be there.

The most popular cable channel would be Naked Women Dancing with naked women dancing to excellent pop, rock, jazz and so forth music. Maybe a separate Naked Women Dancing Channel for difference kinds of music.

The next most popular channel would be Half Naked women dancing. 'Nuff said.

There would be a Mythbusters Channel where the "mythbusters" approach of testing various and beliefs and assertions to see how they jibe with reality. It would take on controversial topics like Intelligent Design, the benefits of jailing drug offenders, etc., testing assertions for and against various beliefs as well as is possible and presenting results. There would be plenty of followup shows where objections raised by viewers to procedures, etc., could be dealt with.

There would be porn comedies with interesting characters and good plots. They would actually be funny. Those who didn't like them could use the secret code.

That oughtta do it for now. Many of you might have other ideas on how TV would be different if your tastes controlled the medium. Your call, of course.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

'Tis the Season!

An article on my website, "Tis the season" documents a weird outbreak of binding and gagging that took place on U.S. talk shows this August. Bondage scenes involving talk show hosts are quite rare on talk shows, puzzlingly so given the frequency with which people express interest in gagging various TV talking heads. There have only been dozen bondage scenes on talk shows worldwide in the last 50 years or so, according to the Brianspage database. (Note: "worldwide" in the case of the Brianspage database means mostly English-speaking countries, European countries, and a couple of European countries. There may be a news show in Ougadouga where the newscasters are bound and gagged at the end of every broadcast -- considering what I've read about Third World censorship, I'd be surprised if there wasn't -- but if it's not in the Brianspage database I don't know about it.

So, anyway, this August there were no less than four talk show host bondage scenes, two of them involving ballgags, one involving nude bondage. One of them involving the binding and gagging of a Fox propagandist (not Ann Coulter, no such luck, but still, a very attractive propagandist).

Considering the relative dearth of bondage imagery on talk shows, four such scenes in a single month is ... impressive. Read the article, complete with images of the talk show hosts bound and gagged, here.