Monday, December 29, 2008

Movie Review: Caning International

(Picture courtesy of Punished Girls, where you can download the movie)

Calstar (released in 1999)

Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:
An aid worker and a refugee get spanked

Victim Appeal:
This movie supposedly takes place at a missionary station of some kind in Africa. You wouldn't really know it, of course, because all of the action was filmed at two of Calstar's usual indoor locations. But kudos for coming up with an "international" alibi story for the thrashings this time. The video has two episodes, both of them starring the curly-haired English domme known as Lady Vernon. Naturally, she plays the director in charge of the station, or the camp, or whatever strange outfit they're running down there.

In the first part, she punishes a female missionary worker for screwing around with the local chief's son and generally behaving like a slut (sounds like this employee is in the wrong job line). The victim has straight blonde hair and a big, round bottom. In episode number two, the lady has a very frank and open chat with a refugee girl who has hoarded more than her assigned share of food rations. That is against the regulations, and we can all imagine where things go from there. Fittingly, the model is black, or perhaps half-black, as her skin is a relatively light brown. Like the other victim, she has an inviting, spankable bottom.

The acting of the three participants is rather wooden and the lion share of the video is taken up by the action, anyway. So there isn't really much to write about beyond the physical attributes. Neither of the two spankees, it must be said, is spectacularly beautiful in a classical sense, but I thought the black girl was cute in her own way. As well as that, they both take a reasonably hard beating.

Gratuitous Sadism:
The two CP sessions follow the same sequence of implements as most other Calstar movies: hand, leather (or rubber) paddle, cane. To start things off, the blonde missionary worker goes over the lady's knee for about five minutes. She is spanked over her dress, then over her panties, then on the bare. Afterwards, she has to strip off for the rest of the punishment, which consists of a four-and-a-half minute thrashing with the paddle while she is kneeling on a chair, another four and a half minutes with a longer, thinner paddle while bending over a table, and last but not least, a caning. The girl is made to touch her toes during the finale, which causes her some discomfort ("Can't, Miss!", "Don't say 'can't', touch your toes!"). As usual, Calstar repeat some of the cane strokes from different camera angles. By my count, she gets 10.

Next, it's the refugee's turn to be chastised. Same progression: first, a six minute OTK spanking, over her skirt, over her panties, finally on the bare bottom. All clothes go off for the subsequent action with the paddle, some seven and a half minutes (she only gets one of the two paddles). The girl bends over a chair for that part, and also during the caning that ends the session. Not counting the repetitions, I believe she takes 12 strokes.

As is her custom, Lady Vernon (or whatever her name is supposed to be here) isn't too tender with her victims and gives them a proper, no-nonsense thrashing with the paddle and cane. The former instrument leaves their bottoms visibly reddened while the latter produces a nice set of welts. A middle of the road video in terms of viciousness, not super-severe, but hard enough to be satisfying for the sadistically inclinced viewer.

Best Reactions:
The blonde model from the first episode is by far the more vocal of the two. Her reactions to the beating run the gamut from short, sharp cries to surprised giggles to tearful sobbing by the end. On the whole, I found her pretty annoying, though. She is too squeamish for my taste and flinches too much. Especially during the caning, when the "Touch your toes!" command is quickly forgotten while she jumps around and frantically rubs her bottom.

The black girl takes her punishment with more restraint. She definitely feels the pain and starts crying halfway through the session, but soldiers on without too many complaints. I like that, and I like how she sobs and squirms under the cane strokes, but ultimately manages to hold her position. Finally, after 11 strokes, she has been on her limit long enough and meekly asks for a bit of mercy: "Not so hard, please!" In response, Lady Vernon gives her an especially harsh final stroke, and the girl lets out a loud, pitiful "Ooow!". It's a delightful little moment and a good ending to the better scene in the video.

Best Line:
There isn't any truly memorable dialogue here. One exchange I recall is when the refugee explains that she hasn't really been hoarding food out of her own initiative - one of the relief workers gave it to her because he fancies her. Lady Vernon bluntly replies: "I don't see why he would fancy you, I certainly wouldn't fancy you. The only thing I fancy doing to you right now is punishing you..."

Hardly a great line and pretty mean, actually, but it was kind of cool how the domme said it. As well as that, I like how she - the director in charge of the missionary station! - basically lets on that she does fancy women, as long as she finds them attractive.

Nice Psychological Touch:
When the director lectures her promiscuous employee that she is not supposed to have sexual relations with the "natives", she declares: "As a missionary, you are here to show these people a very cultivated way of living, do you understand? Instead of being barbaric. And you are not at all coming across as a Westerner..." Then she proceeds to beat the girl into obedience. Hooray for enlightened Western values! A nice, brief touch of irony for those who have an eye for it.

How Good Is It Really?
"Caning International" is an average spanking video and fairly typical for this producer - not a classic or a must-see, but not bad, either. There isn't really anything that stands out about it. Except for the backstory, perhaps, which is even more preposterous than usual. However, I like the domme, she is always fun to watch and probably my favourite top from Calstar. There is a kind of rustic elegance and sex appeal about her. Moreover, she knows how to wield a cane, clearly enjoys her work, and even though she is not a superb actress, she usually has good chemistry with the spankees.

What You Learned:
Judging by the lady's fondness for making girls strip, female missionaries are gay, too. Which is not a groundbreaking new insight, I know. But I couldn't think of anything else.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Cattle Prod for Christmas

Normally, it would be time for a movie critique. If you've been following this blog for a while, you will have noticed that every third post is a movie or website review - it's part of my intricate numerological system that keeps the cosmic spheres of my world in harmony and me happy. However, I'm Bavarian, not Prussian, so I do break from my rigid routine on certain special occasions. Christmas is one of them.

Mind you, I haven't really celebrated Christmas as such since I was a child. I just have a nice dinner nowadays. Nonetheless, in the spirit of the season, I thought that this would be the perfect time for a gift to you, the readers. As a thank you for your interest this past year, for your comments and emails, and for generally making me feel that I'm doing a good job (actually, to be honest, I know that myself, but it's nice to see that it is being noticed). So here's your gift - if you are an agnostic like me, you can treat it as a worldly, secular offering among friends.

Instead of a movie review, you are getting a movie today: the next installment of the "Niki & Ludwig Show" (or "The Caning Saga", as some of you call it). In this newest morality tale, we learn what happens to naughty girls who zap people with cattle prods. Remember, they are for cattle, not for human beings. And especially not for tops.

AVI format, resolution 720 x 576, 140 MB: link

(Click on "Free Download", wait for the counter to count down, then solve the captcha and download the file. The video uses the Xvid codec and MPEG Layer-3 for audio.)

We filmed the clip in the summer, when Niki (along with Amelia-Jane Rutherford aka Ariel Anderssen) came to Germany to work with SM-Circus and Loge Cologne (I wrote a behind-the-scenes report about the pet girl shoot here). It was only two weeks after the Ludwig's Comeuppance video had been recorded, and while the cane marks had faded by that time, the memory was as fresh as if it had been yesterday. In other words, I was itching to get some revenge on Niki ("to restore the natural order of things", as I like to describe it in cosmic harmony terms). I got a first taste of it with the Who has the best football team? clip, an idea of the Loge Cologne director which I gladly helped to realise.

Which would almost, under normal circumstances, have pacified me for the time being, at least in terms of swinging the cane. But by that point, Niki in her usual restraint had already decided to up the ante with a little stunt she pulled off in the morning - by using me as an unwitting test target for a cattle prod she found lying around on the set.

It was pretty funny, actually. While the crew are getting ready for the shoot and the rest of us are waiting around, I suddenly hear Niki's voice behind me: "Hold still." I turn my head around and see her touching my right leg with a pole of some sort. I look down at the device with polite, befuddled curiosity. One and a half seconds later, before I can even begin to wonder what it is, I feel a searing jolt of electricity and jump three feet in the air. After I land and get my wits together, I stare at Niki, and she looks back at me with an expression, it must be said in fairness, that seems like genuine surprise and embarassment. "Oh!" she says, wide-eyed. "Is it charged...?"

It was, and it produced quite an impressive shock, even through the jeans. Nasty little tool. Later, one of the guys gave Ariel a demonstration jolt on bare skin. She let out a blood-curdling shriek and collapsed to the floor, where she stayed for about a minute. Ariel subsequently declined to have the prod used on her during the Loge Cologne shoot. Niki declined to even submit to a one-off demonstration (wimp).

She did submit to a spanking and caning courtesy of yours truly the next morning at the hotel, though. After all, that little episode with the cattle prod deserved a proper response. All things considered, I think Niki got off pretty lightly with a quick OTK spanking and a dozen moderate strokes of the cane (13, actually). But she had already been abused non-stop the previous day, so I felt uncharacteristically lenient.

Even so, I managed to spring a minor "shock tactic" of my own on her. Quite unintended, too. I simply ordered Niki to strip off for the finale and, honestly, I didn't expect her to be much inconvenienced by it. I mean, she had been naked for most of the previous day's shoot. But this morning, she was utterly unprepared for it and made her objections loudly known. I like how she says "No!" six different times in six different tones of voice, from surprised to indignant to defiant. Didn't help her much, but it sure is fun to listen to.

It's a beautiful moment, I think, because it was neither planned nor acted. When Niki made me strip in the "Comeuppance" video, I feigned surprise, but it was part of the script (I think most of you can guess as much, so I'm not destroying too many illusions here). In this case, however, Niki's vocal "I'm not doing this!" reaction is absolutely real. Which, of course, left me no other choice but to insist all the more. Had she calmly said "Look, I don't really feel like getting naked this morning, can we please do it another way...?", I might have relented. But open, foot-stamping refusal is a challenge that cannot be ignored.

On a related note, the immortal line "All dress must down!" seems to be becoming a running gag on our show. But like Niki before me, I couldn't resist quoting it. If we keep it up, we'll have to start paying royalties to Maximilian Schubert.

You don't have to pay anything, though. It's a Christmas gift, another free spanking clip and you better well like it. In a couple of days, I'll do the movie review that normally would have gone up today, and that will be my last post of the year. I wish you all happy holidays, and I'll see you in 2009.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tales of the Two Peters

This clip is one of those bizarre accidental finds from YouTube. You start out looking for something, and a mere three of four mouse clicks later, you are on a totally different subject - one that is worlds removed from the original search terms, but intriguing nonetheless. In this particular case, I went from the Roman empire to Peter Ustinov and eventually ended up with these two little tales about sadistic headmasters in the school days of old.

It was a couple of months ago and I don't remember how the chain of links went exactly, but I was reading something about Rome and it reminded me of the movie Spartacus. During a break, I started looking up scenes on YouTube (saves the time of fetching the DVD). I'm a big fan of old sword and sandal epics (as silly and historically inaccurate as they often are) and this is one of the crown jewels of the genre. Starring, among others, the late and great Peter Ustinov in a famous performance as the slave dealer Batiatus (he also played emperor Nero in another Roman epic, Quo Vadis). Naturally, I'm also a fan of Ustinov, and before long, I was looking for clips with him.

There are few people to whom the three-part description "great actor, great comedian, great human being" applies as thoroughly as it does to Sir Peter. He was a brilliantly gifted man and everything about him seemed to be larger than life - his unusual family background, his cosmopolitan charm, his sophisticated humour, his inexhaustible wealth of anecdotes. There is a lot of hilarious stuff with him on YouTube, including African Customs, Former Yugoslav Partisans and the Bach Cantata Parody.

One of the things you don't think of in association with Peter Ustinov (at least I don't) is spanking. But sure enough, I found a TV show from the 1980's, and in it he talks about his stern headmaster from school. No actual beatings are mentioned (only a threat thereof), but it's a great little story. Ustinov's genius for voices and accents is well in evidence even in this little clip. The other guest chiming in with his own headmaster impersonation is Peter Cook, whom I hadn't heard of before, frankly. Apparently, he is another British comedian, and quite a well-known one at that.

It shows you how many of these old schoolteachers must have been closet spankos. It also raises the question what they would say about the society of today, post-sexual revolution. Back then, a photograph of Betty Grable in a bathing suit was enough to cause scandal at the boys' school. I hadn't heard of her, either, but as it turns out, she was the number one pin-up girl of her time and wildly popular with the American GI's during World War II.

Which, by the way, makes me wonder if Ustinov remembers this part of his story correctly: according to some mini-biographies I read, Grable didn't start pin-up modelling until the 1940's. By that time, Ustinov (born 1921) was already a grown man, so she couldn't have been on a poster during his school days. Then again, he has been known to occasionally spice up his tales by mixing fact with fiction. And when the results are as entertaining as here, who wants to argue (except for the detail-obsessed historian in me).

My resarch also reveals that Peter Ustinov was educated at Westminster School in London, while Peter Cook (born 1937) went to Radley College in Oxfordshire and to Pembroke College, Cambridge. That gives you a bit of context (maybe someone can find out the names of the headmasters at the time!). Obviously, the most prestigious, most venerable schools in Britain also had the kinkiest teachers.

I cut the clip out of a longer interview on YouTube, but even though it is off-topic, I left in the ending. In it, after another headmaster story, Ustinov talks about new year's resolutions - the show was recorded around that time. The next year is comng closer here as well, so that is a fitting conclusion (to the video, if not the year itself). Sadly, Peter Ustinov did not reach his goal of living until 2005. He died in March 2004, and our world is poorer for it.

Cook is also no longer with us, and in a way, it reminds us that their memories of school are from an entirely different era. Fortunately for the kids of today, corporal punishment is now a thing of the past, at least in most of the Western world. But in its time, it certainly produced a couple of intriguing anecdotes for spankos like us.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Insulting the Flag?

(Philipp Veit, "Germania", 1848)

Remember the football-themed spanking clip I posted recently? If you haven't seen it yet, you should, it's a fun little video starring Niki Flynn and yours truly (you can also read a bit of backstory on how it came into existence here). As usual, I also uploaded the clip to Spankingtube to get a bit of extra circulation.

Interestingly, one of the commenters there by the name of Cinderella complained that the clip "insults the German flag" because we used it as a CP implement (presumably, therefore, we also insulted the Union Jack, but she didn't mention that). Later, Cinderella elaborated: "As a German, I don't want to see a flag symbolizing the proud [sic] of my nation in a clip with sexual contend [sic], furthermore beating [someone] with it." She also sent me a rather angry email the next day.

It would be amusing to quote from the letter, which contained little in the way of argument, a lot of venting and one beautiful self-contradiction. But I don't want to be mean, and honestly, I don't believe Cinderella's remarks in themselves deserve more attention than I already gave them on Spankingtube and in my reply to her mail. But as I said, I did find the whole thing fairly interesting, because I think it reveals a kind of schizophrenia that is not uncommon in the kinky community.

Before I come to that, though: does our clip really insult the German colours? Or the British ones, for that matter? Needless to say, I don't think it does. Neither did the director who came up with the idea, or the rest of the crew, despite the fact that all of us are German (some of us Teutonic sauerkraut-eaters have a sense of humour after all). It certainly wasn't our intention to sully the "proud" of the nation when we shot this silly little video, and I think this should be obvious to most people who watch. Had I burned the flag while spouting inane anti-German slogans in some political (or pseudo-political) context, that would be another thing. But we didn't do that. We used it as a nonsensical spanking implement in an equally nonsensical and light-hearted clip - about football, of all things. To take this seriously in the first place and to claim that it constitutes an insult of some kind requires a great deal of imagination, or pomposity, or both.

In any case, Cinderella is the only one who complained so far. But I think her reasoning is worth examining, because it exemplifies the schizophrenia I spoke of: "I don't want to see the flag of my nation in a clip with sexual content." The natural question to ask is, why not? What is wrong with that?

One possible answer she could give is that she finds sexual content distasteful or even immoral, and therefore, she doesn't want to see the flag associated with it. But I don't believe that this is her opinion. After all, Cinderella is registered on Spankingtube and has watched 80 plus clips according to her profile, so presumably, she does not object to spanking porn in principle (otherwise, why is she watching it?). But if spanking porn is okay, and if flags are okay, then why is spanking porn plus flags not okay? Double standards or just plain confusion?

Another possible argument would be to say: while sexual content is not distasteful to me or immoral, and while I like watching it, I nonetheless consider it to be something "low" and basic. So therefore, it should not be combined with "exalted" things like the flag. This is probably closer to what Cinderella is trying to say. But such a position is problematic. For one thing, these terms are diffuse and the value judgments expressed by them are quite subjective. It's debatable if a flag is really such an exalted object (whatever that means, exactly) that it must never be used in an erotic (or humorous) context. It is also debatable if porn is inherently "low" and primitive - personally, I don't see it that way at all.

Moreover, even if you hold that porn is primitive, you can ask yourself if it is any worse in this regard than football. Isn't that a somewhat "bawdy" pastime as well? But people take lots of flags to the international football games, they even wear them as clothing or hats. So why not complain about that, too? Of course, you can argue that football stands for noble values like competition, skill, strategy, fighting spirit, physical exercise and so on. But that is precisely the point I am trying to make: what an activity stands for, and what using the flag in such a context stands for, is always a matter of interpretation. On my part, I could say that spanking films represent some equally exalted things to me: creativity, wit, humour, self-exploration, excitement, interesting psychology, even art.

Mind you, the "Who has the best football team?" clip wasn't Great Art and wasn't intended as such. But neither was it intended as an insult to the flag, and the vast majority of viewers didn't see it as such. As for me, I have nothing against flags. As elements of cultural identification in an increasingly globalised and homogenised world, I am actually quite fond of them. Moreover, I'm a historian, so unlike most of my countrymen today, I know when and how the black, red and gold colours of the German flag originated, what they symbolise, who wrote the national anthem and where the melody it was set to comes from. By contast, it has been my experience that, ironically, many of the self-proclaimed super patriots around the world are woefully ignorant of the history behind the national symbols they hold in such high esteem.

At the end of the day, symbols are just that: a representation of something. The important part is what they stand for, and that is what patriotism is really all about: not symbols, but values. In case of the Federal Republic of Germany and other democratic, pluralistic societies, one such core value is freedom. Which includes the freedom of art and even the freedom to use the national flag in a humorous or "casual" way. In an enlightened philosophy of the state, a flag is not some hallowed or untouchable thing. It's not a holy symbol like a Christian cross or an Islamic star and crescent. And fundamentally, there is no contradiction whatsoever between what the German flag stands for and kinky play among consenting adults.

Cinderella not only exemplifies a view of national symbols that is more at home in the chauvinistic 19th century than in the Europe of today, but also a strange double standard which I have seen, in one form or another, with quite a few kinky people. "I like spanking and spanking porn, but it's still a dirty and lowly thing somehow, and we have to separate it from the 'nobler' aspects of life..." I don't claim to know the exact pathology that lies behind this kind of thinking in every case, but it's not unreasonable to assume that, most of the time, it simply comes down to discomfort with one's own erotic fantasies and a feeling of guilt about them.

These people have my honest sympathies, and as a blogger, I'm quite willing to help them come to terms with their fantasies and show them that there is nothing shameful about being kinky. But what I'm certainly not going to do is censor my own fantasies to conform with their convoluted views.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Website Review: Spanking Server

Spanking Server is a paysite run by the producers of Pain4Fem. It offers short, action-driven spanking clips instead of their usual full-length movies, but they use the same models, props and locations, and the general feel of the material is very similar. Basically, it's your average P4F video reduced to the bare (ahem!) essentials, without any story or scripted dialogue. As always with this producer, the girls are gorgeous, the technical craftsmanship is good and the results are really easy on the eyes.

The site has been online since early 2006 and there is a huge number of "Spanking Server" clips, but only a fraction of them is available in the archives at any given time. Actually, the way in which the content is posted and changed needs a bit of explanation. To begin with, there is the recent material. The advertising claims that the website features "a never-before-seen clip for every day", and indeed, a selection of seven new videos is added every Friday. It replaces the one from the previous week, which is taken down.

In addition to the weekly videos, the members area has three permanent "monthly packages" of old material from the beginnings of "Spanking Server". Each package contains 28 clips (four weeks, hence four times seven). Moreover, there is a growing number of high quality picture galleries, some 11,000 photographs at the time of this writing. They are permanent as well. Last but not least, there is some rotating content: one more package of 28 old video clips, and one full-length Pain4Fem movie for download. The package is changed on the 1st of every uneven month (January, March, and so forth), and the full-length movie is changed on the 1st of every even month (February, April...).

In other, simpler words, this is what you get during a one-month subscription: 28 recent video clips, between 112 and 140 archived clips, one or two free Pain4Fem movies, and countless picture galleries. Of course, if you continue your subscription, you get more. But you can't download everything from "Spanking Server" all at once, unless you pay extra for their older clip packages.

I'm in two minds about this. On the one hand, I'm not a fan of blatant "keep your members subscribed and paying" schemes. Like everyone else, I prefer a complete archive, which is what most spanking websites have. On the other hand, it must be said that there is still a lot on offer here: at any time, you will find 150 clips, thousands of photos and one full-length movie. Which is not a bad deal for the price, especially considering the high quality of the material. As well as that, I expect them to add more permanent stuff as the site grows.

In terms of pure, unapologetic eye candy, this is certainly one of the most consistently attractive CP sites on the net. Most of the girls are Czech vanilla pornstars like Angelika, Belicia, Billy Raise, Daria Glower, Hannah Black, Katerina, Kitty Saliery, Lucie Kr., Rachel Evans, Sandra Sanchez, Sunny Jay, Virus Vellons... I don't watch all that much regular porn anymore, but even I recognise some of them. Anyway, the list goes on and on. As we all know, you can't live on candy forever, but viewers looking for a quick and glamourous "eurobabe fix" will find that "Spanking Server" does the trick.

There is also a lot of variety in the action. Hand spankings, strappings, paddlings, canings and all the usual chastisements are available. In addition, there is a fair share of single-tail whippings, something you don't normally find on spanking sites (on the other hand, many sites featuring the whip don't offer this much classical spanking material). As far as the number and the even distribution of implements is concerned, "Spanking Server" surpasses most of the competition. Moreover, the videos show many different CP positions, ranging from OTK to "hands above the head" floggings. Caning benches, wooden horses, pillories and other restraining devices are used frequently. The majority of punishments is administered to the bottom, but there are also back whippings, breast whippings, pussy spankings et cetera.

While the variety is impressive, the clips themselves are short (usually between three and five minutes) and straightforward. They only feature one girl, one implement and a minimum of fuss. The victim is lead into the room, the clothes go off, she is restrained, spanked for a while, then she is untied and gets dressed again, and the scene ends. There is little or no dialogue and we don't know why the punishment is taking place. Pain4Fem seem to have an "all or nothing" approach: they either produce this, or they produce elaborate full-length movies, with nothing in between.

Company leader Peter Schober and his well-known female companion from the P4F films do most of the topping on "Spanking Server", but the girls themselves also swing the whip or cane once in a while. Overall, there is a good balance between M/F and F/F action. In terms of severity, most of it is fairly light to moderate. Harder scenes do exist, but they are pretty rare. It's the drawback of using vanilla pornstars: not all of them want to take a proper beating, and the ones who do are often saved up for the longer productions.

The videos are in Real Media format, the older ones with a resolution of 400 x 320 pixels (700 kb/s), the more recent updates with 720 x 576 pixels (1000 kb/s). Together with the numerous photo galleries, they make for a polished, pleasant and high-quality spanking site. Despite shortcomings like the rotating content scheme or the lack of story, "Spanking Server" is well worth checking out and an absolute must-see for Pain4Fem fans.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Kill the Competition

Are you in the Mood for a bit of movie buff detective work? Want to try to win a free spanking video in the process?

After my recent review of "Sweet Revenge" by Mood Pictures, Pedro (the director and producer) suggested the following competition to me: the first blog reader who spots the one direct reference to Kill Bill in the video is going to get a free Mood Pictures spanking movie of his (or her) choice. On DVD or as a download, whichever you prefer. All you have to do is post a comment here and name the little Easter egg we are looking for. If you get it right, we will do the rest per email.

I already noted in my review that "Sweet Revenge" is an homage to Quentin Tarantino's "woman on a revenge spree" epic, and it should be fairly obvious to anyone who has seen the original. However, Pedro put one detail in his film that goes beyond the basic similarity of the story or style. At one point, somewhere, there is a very specific reference, something directly out of "Kill Bill". But you have to watch carefully to find it.

To be honest, I didn't notice the Easter egg while I was watching the video for my critique. Then again, I wasn't actively looking for such a detail at the time, and moreover, it had been years since I had seen the Tarantino movie. Now that I know the reference is there, it is impossible to miss! However, let me emphasise again that you need keen eyes and ears, and that you need to know the original pretty well. The hidden homage you have to find only appears for a couple of seconds.

Of course, Mood Pictures aren't everyone's cup of tea. They are among the hardest, if not the hardest CP videos ever filmed. As a self-admitted sadist and severity freak, I think that's pretty cool, actually (even though I am critical of the inaccuracy of some Mood dommes). But I know a lot of people are squicked by the graphic ferocity and the bleeding welts, and that's alright – at the end of the day, it is simply a matter of taste. Therefore, not everyone will want to enter the competition (or watch "Sweet Revenge" in the first place).

On the other hand, Pedro's movies also have plenty of fans. And like Tarantino's work, they are more interesting stylistically and artistically than a superficial first look suggests. As spanking videos go, there are few that are more vicious, but many that are more mindless. Mood Pictures aren't all about brutal gonzo torture. They are ninety percent brutal gonzo torture, plus one neat little idea somewhere (like the "Kill Bill" homage). Lots of action with just enough creativity to make it "meaningful". The results work pretty well, I think, and they are sometimes surprisingly absorbing.

Pedro is the first to admit that he isn't interested in telling stories like some other producers (as in "a beginning, a middle and an end"), but by his own account, he is highly interested in situations. As a consequence, while the focus is on the CP action, the scripts aren't elaborate and there is little to no dramatic development, most of his videos have a fairly original premise and setting. Basically, it's "high concept" in spanking films, with all the appeal and the shortcomings thereof.

If you like that approach and don't mind the severity, you should give "Sweet Revenge" a try. It is one of Mood's best videos this year, and moreover, if you find the Easter egg, you will get another title of your choice for free. The competition is open-ended, it will last however long it takes for the first blog reader to spot and name the "Kill Bill" reference. I'm curious to see if anyone can do it.

(Picture courtesy of Mood Pictures)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Night of the Krampus

Tomorrow, on the 6th of December, the Germans and other central Europeans traditionally celebrate St. Nicholas Day ("Nikolaustag"). In Bavaria, the day before that is "Krampustag", the day of the Krampus, named after the sinister sidekick of St. Nicholas. By the usual custom, both figures appear together on the evening of the 5th of December to bring gifts to the good children (and to punish the bad ones). As the Krampus is a horned demon-figure commonly depicted carrying a birch (and not afraid to use it), this is an intriguing bit of Alpine mythology especially for us spankos.

(An old German Christmas postcard depicting St. Nicholas and his helper Krampus, whom some call "the missing link between Santa and Satan")

As a historian, I'm always interested in traditions, anyway. The one of St. Nicholas goes back to Nicholas of Myra, a Greek bishop during the 4th century who lived in what is today Turkey (back then, of course, part of the Eastern Roman Empire). There are not many historical sources about his life, but all the more legends - Nicholas was said to be a worker of miracles and a bringer of gifts. In the latter capacity, he is one of the most popular saints among Catholic and Orthodox Christians today.

Nicholas of Myra is also the basis of the Santa Claus figure popular in American culture. But there are differences. Santa Claus is the giftbringer on Christmas eve while St. Nicholas is not directly linked to Christmas - he has his own day in early December (in Germany, the Christmas gifts are the job of the "Christkind", the Christ child, instead). Another significant difference is that Santa Claus does pretty much everything by himself. He brings gifts for the good children and coal or sticks for the naughty ones. However, in the St. Nicholas tradition, the duties of reward and punishment are divided: Nicholas rewards the good children himself, but he has a companion to deal with the others.

In Bavaria (also in other central European regions like Austria, Hungary or the Czech lands), this companion is the Krampus. His name probably comes from the Old High German word "Krampen", which means "claw". There is also a Bavarian slang term "Krampn", denoting something lifeless, dried up, withered (I've never heard that term myself, but then again, I'm a city slicker from Munich, not a hillbilly).

What exactly is a Krampus? Well, he (naturally, they're all male!) is a scary, bad-tempered demon who usually looks something like this: humanoid form, but very big and tall, hairy goatskin, ugly face with glowing eyes, large horns like a goat or ram, and a tail. The inventory he carries consists of cowbells and rusty chains to make lots of noise (in addition to his incessant growling), a kind of backpack (called "Butte") which he supposedly uses to take naughty children away, and of course a birch for some spanking action.

The Krampus tradition originated in the Alpine region and probably goes back to some old, horned forest deity who, like other pagan figures, was eventually incorporated into local Christian mythology. Many scholars believe in a connection to the Greek-Roman god Pan / Faunus. Reminiscent of such ancient rites, young men would wear costumes with furs and horns for festive Krampus processions. For a time, this was outlawed by the inquisition, because they considered it a crime punishable by death to dress up as a devilish figure. But ever since the mid-17th century, the tradition that still continues today began to take shape, where the Krampus became a helper creature for St. Nicholas.

(Another Krampus postcard, this is an Austrian one from 1901, featuring a rather grownup-looking damsel in distress and St. Nicholas peeping through the window)

My parents were never big on religion, but whether you were a believer or not, it was simply considered part of the Bavarian Christmas season to have a visit from the Nikolaus for your children on the evening of December 5th. So one year, I must have been around six or seven at the time, they organised one. The two young men who came to our house dressed up as the saint and his furry sidekick were probably university students in their early twenties making a bit of extra money.

St. Nicholas himself was quite impressive, actually. He didn't have the typical red and white "coca cola outfit" of Santa Claus, but looked more like a proper bishop out of legend, with long white, gold-adorned robes and a crooked shepherd's staff. Plus the fake white beard, of course. Unfortunately, his companion in the Krampus costume was very slim and short, barely over five feet, and his acting wasn't great, either. It just wasn't the right role for him I guess (maybe they should have switched?). My mother told me years later that she had to do her best to play along and not burst out laughing while the poor guy was trying to be menacing and failing miserably. As for me, I don't remember being scared. Actually, I don't remember many details of the Krampus at all, only of St. Nicholas with the beard and robes.

I had no reason to be scared, anyway, as I was a pretty well-behaved child most of the time. And even if you weren't, the Krampus wouldn't actually use his birch - it was just a prop they carried for show, really. Then and now, the usual custom in Bavaria is that the Nikolaus and the Krampus play a kind of "good cop, bad cop" routine. They ask you if you've been nice during the past year, the Krampus acts all threatening and eager to spank you, and then the Nikolaus calms down his assistant ("Well, I think we have a good child here...") and gives you some presents. Only in my case, the bad cop was rather pathetic, which is why my parents never bothered to arrange such a visit again.

Ah well, I guess I didn't miss out on anything. While I already had my first secret kinky fantasies around that time, I certainly didn't envision getting a spanking in front of my mom and dad! For some reason, that particular scenario didn't seem attractive or "appropriate" to fantasise about. But the birch, as such, was an exciting tool to look at. I guess it's impossible to be a kinky guy or girl from these parts and not associate that instrument with the whole Krampus tradition, on some level.

In some places, especially in Austria, they still have proper Krampus processions where you can see entire groups of the cute little devils. It's a common, humorous test of courage for bystanders to try and provoke the Krampusse (plural!) without being caught and hit. Because during these processions, the men in the costumes do like to use the birches, especially on young women. Which, I believe, also goes back to an ancient fertility ritual where it was considered good luck for a girl to get a few symbolic lashes. Or maybe the Krampusse just think that whipping young women is fun (can't imagine why).

I've never been to such a procession, but I'd like to see one sometime. Maybe next year I'll have time to travel. It would be fun just to watch as a voyeur, waiting for some Krampus/F action. Or should I dress up myself? Hmm, it seems like a very odd, rural thing to do for a city slicker. Goat horns, give me a break! Then again, at least I'd be over a foot taller than the guy who failed to scare me when I was a kid. And I'm well-practiced with spanking implements, even though I haven't used a birch before. Don't know. I guess I'll just watch as a bystander next year, and see how I like the general idea.

(A group of Krampusse during a procession, complete with birches and chains)