Monday, May 31, 2010

Kaelah's Corner (May 2010):
Almost (Un)real

Ludwig and I recently talked about what our kinky alter egos mean to us. That has led me to a couple of different little topics I would like to discuss here on the blog. EmmaJane and Graham both wrote a post about the question of how open they are on their blogs and how much they show of themselves. I would like to look at that topic from a slightly different point of view. So, the question for today’s post is: How “real” are the kinky personas on the web? Obviously, there are different possible ways of dealing with one’s second identity, depending on one's type of person and what someone uses his or her kinky personality for.

On the one end of the scale there might be people who just need a protective shell allowing them to chat openly with strangers about their interest in spanking. They might not even see their kinky profile on the net as another identity, but just as a nickname under which they can write about intimate thoughts without the risk of someone using the knowledge about their sexual preferences against them. On the other end of the spectrum there might be those who create a complete new identity like in an online role play, a character enabling them to live a second life on the web which might be quite different from their offline life and personality.

The percentage of matching between the kinky character presented on the net and the real person behind it might vary a lot then, depending on the background for the kinky persona. And the character developments we see can either just reflect personal developments or be part of a planned character development path. I think that many kinky alter egos and their development might be a bit of both. And to my mind the quota of both parts might change depending on how long a second identity exists and how much it presents a public persona.

I’m of the opinion that most kinksters at first just need a nickname to take part in the online discussions and to chat with like-minded people. Those who then become more active members of the community by chatting a lot and/or meeting other spankos might start to think about what to tell about themselves in their profiles and whether they want to write comments rather from their own perspective or from the perspective of for example their favourite kinky role play character. It could also be a mixture, depending on the topic and type of discussion. For some people then comes another step, when they decide to write a blog and maybe also publish photos and spanking clips. I guess at least then the question of how much to show of oneself occurs, and quite literally. I can’t really imagine that there are bloggers out there who don’t ask themselves: “Is my writing and am I (or is my online character) interesting enough?”

Last but not least there is the group of kinky professional spanking models and others who work in the business. They might not even earn their livings with that job, but nonetheless they have to get people’s attention in order to sell their products. I don’t think that has to mean that professional models per se see their kinky identity as a kind of movie character rather than a reflection of their real personality. But to my mind working in a business that is supposed to sell dreams and fantasies and having a public persona in that business environment requires much more thinking about how to present oneself on the internet than being for example a kinky hobby blogger does.

So, how about Kaelah? First of all, I’m very happy I’m just a hobby blogger and don’t earn any money in the spanking business. Not because I have any moral objections against the production of spanking porn, not at all, but because it gives me the freedom to write and post only what I want, when I want and the way I want it without feeling any obligations. Given that spanking for me is something very intimate, personal and wonderful, being free of obligations and doing only what I really like to do and sharing only what I like to share is very important to me in that field.

The main reason for me to create a personal profile in the first place was that I wanted to chat with other kinky people. I chose a name telling something about my character and interests (being a trekkie and having a weakness for warriors), hoping that like-minded people would notice. My aim was to get a close, personal contact to others, not only touching the surface in the chats, but going deeper. It still is my main drive today. That’s why there isn’t much difference between the public persona Kaelah and my private persona. I think I actually write very openly about my thoughts, hopes, fears and my weaknesses.

But when I started writing for the blog, there was a second motivation – I love writing and not only entertaining people but also providing them with some thought-provoking fodder. If that leads to thoughtful responses and a dialogue that gives me new ideas, well that’s perfect! But I definitely have a kind of exhibitionistic streak especially in written communication. And in addition to that I always wanted Kaelah and Ludwig to reflect the eye-to-eye relationship the two of us have offline, which meant to me that I wanted to be accepted as Ludwig’s equal partner in the spanking community. That led of course to thoughts like: Which kind of topics would be interesting for the blog readers? Is my writing good enough for Ludwig’s blog? Will the readers and Ludwig’s friends in the community accept me? And: Should I publish pictures of myself and maybe also spanking clips, so that the readers would have a visual impression of me like they had of Ludwig?

As you know, I made the decision to post photos and Ludwig and I have also filmed two little clips which will hopefully be published this year (the editing requires a lot of work). Visually presenting myself like that might be the one thing that is much more a part of Kaelah than of the private me. First of all, that’s because Kaelah allows me to make experiments in that field which I wouldn’t exactly call one of my core competences. As a matter of fact I hadn’t felt very womanly or sexy before I started living out my kink. Secondly I don’t think it is a big surprise that an alter ego I use on an erotic blog is naturally more focused on sexual topics than I am in my normal all-day life.

But I don’t think I’ve created a “character”, meaning that Kaelah has personality streaks or opinions which I don’t have in private. And I don’t think that I’ve got a clear kind of development path in mind for Kaelah. After having done that very hard scene last December, I thought: Oh, now there won’t be any climax possible concerning the severity of the scenes I’m going to write about. And I hoped the readers wouldn’t be disappointed. But still I had done the scene when it felt right for me, not when it might have been more interesting for Kaelah’s “character development”.

I have to admit, though, that the thought of having the chance to blog about it afterwards makes certain private play sessions or personal developments more attractive, because I like the thought of sharing a special experience with others or presenting myself in a certain new way. One example is that I would like Ludwig to give me a training in topping and the handling of different implements. It’s something I would like to do, anyway, but the thought of using the training for a little series on the blog, showing me in a different position than usual, makes it all the more appealing.

So, in conclusion I would say: Yes, I do care how Kaelah is seen and accepted by the blog readers and the community. Yes, I think about the question whether something might be interesting for the blog readers when planning special private kinky activities. And yes, certain developments I would like to make are more attractive when they allow me to present another facet of me on the net. But, no, Kaelah isn’t a kind of online role play character and I’m not “playing” her. The thoughts, ideas and fears I write about are 100 per cent me. Kaelah is closer to being just a nickname than a second identity. When I want her to be accepted it translates into me wanting to be accepted. One thing I have decided to do, though, is not to show everything online that belongs to the private me. But that’ll be the topic of another rambling blog post...

So, how about you? How do you see your kinky internet persona? What is it good for? Have you maybe got more than one kinky online persona, using different identities for different purposes? How big is the difference between your online presentation and your offline personality? Has the way you’ve seen your kinky identity changed over time? All ideas and thoughts are welcome!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What You Say Is What You Get

The following pictures were taken during our photo shoot with Peter and Roberta. I tied them together with a little story. Enjoy!
"Model for art photography", the ad sounded really good. And the payment it promised wasn't low, either. So, she finally decided to call the number. The phone was answered by a man, maybe middle-aged, with a deep friendly voice. She said the ad in the local newspaper had caught her attention and told him about the jobs as an amateur model she had successfully done before. He listened, asking some short questions, and then told her that she would be very welcome if she wanted the job. "There's no nudity involved?" she asked, to make sure she wouldn't suddenly find herself in a photo shoot for some icky porn magazine. It was absolutely unclear to her, how other models could get themselves into situations like that involuntarily, just because they didn't ask enough questions beforehand. She heard a mild, friendly laugh. "No", he answered, "our model is supposed to wear a ball gown throughout the whole shoot." That sounded convincing. So, she told him she definitely wanted the job, and was given date, time and address for the shoot. "One last question," he said, "you are in a healthy physical condition, aren't you? The shoot is going to be demanding, you know." She didn't hesitate: "Yes, I'm totally healthy and fit and I can take a lot." "Good, very good", he sounded content, "we're looking forward to meeting you, then."

Several days later she stood in front of an old, beautiful manor. A look on her note confimed that this was the correct address. She felt a bit nervous now, not knowing what she had to expect inside. When she rang the bell, the door was opened by an elderly, white-haired man in a black suit. She was led inside and welcomed by a group of twelve men and women, all of them aged between maybe 50 and about 80 years and classically dressed; obviously a sophisticated group of people. She was told that they had learned to know each other through common interests, one of them being amateur art photography. After a short, polite conversation she was handed the ball gown she was supposed to wear for the shoot. And what a beautiful ball gown it was! She got dressed in a separated room and then returned to the crowd, somehow feeling a bit like cinderella now. The conversations stopped immediately when she entered the room and twelve pairs of eyes looked at her. She got a lot of smiles and some ohs and ahs, too. "Are you ready?" "Yes", she nodded. She was led to a big lounge, furnitured with an old piano, an elegant table with comfortable chairs, two leather sofas and a fire place.

The shoot started in front of the piano. She tried to follow all the commands given to her by the big group of photographers. The ladies and gentlemen were definitely excited, but still very disciplined, avoiding bustle and chaos. So, assuming the right positions and creating the pictures the photographers had composed in their minds worked very well, despite of the big number of people involved. She was highly concentrated, but emotionally relaxed because of the warm and friendly atmosphere.

She was a bit surprised, when she was asked to pose for the next photos sitting on the chair in front of the piano with her wrists tied together by a rope. Okay, after all these are artsy pictures, she thought. And somehow it also made her smile that these elderly, gentle people came up with such slightly weird ideas.

After a couple of minutes involving different positions, the first part of the shoot was over. She was asked whether she needed a break. "No, we can go on straight away", she answered, being in the right flow by now. She was led into another, smaller room, with her wrists still tied together. The room was nearly empty, except for a strange construction standing in one corner. It was a wooden bench, consisting of two parts with different heights, both covered with leather cushions. She was instructed to kneel on the lower part of the bench, resting her arms on the upper part. Assuming the described position she was surprised how comfortable the bench was. Still, this was somehow feeling stranger now. Even more so when she was tied to the bench and blindfolded by a red, silky scarf.

Her thoughts started running wild. On the one hand she felt extremely sexy and like a real model, hearing all the cameras clicking accompanied by whispered comments like "beautiful" and "extraordinary". On the other hand she felt as vulnerable and exposed as rarely before in her life. Even though she was completely dressed! But being in that special position, surrounded by strangers, not seeing what was going on around her, created a kind of vulnerability that had been unknown to her. It was a strange mixture of excitement and fear. What was going to happen next? She knew, when she suddenly heard the sound of something moving fast through the air and felt a sharp pain on her bottom.

At first, she was much too surprised to react at all. Then, as stroke after stroke fell, she hissed the air through her clenched teeth and tried to cope with the pain. But still she didn't complain. This was too unreal! She tried to figure out what was happening to her. Obviously she had fallen into the hands of old perverts! But then, they were so friendly, and she could still hear the cameras clicking and people saying admiring words about her. And it was the same with her own feelings. While the smacks hurt and she wanted it to end as soon as possible, it somehow felt, well... GOOD? Before she could think much more about it, the spanking stopped, she was untied from the bench and the scarf taken from her eyes. She looked into happy and friendly faces, getting some curious looks from the crowd, too. Still she didn't know what to do or to say. Somehow it it felt weird to even look at the people around her at all. Had they seen her mixed reactions? Did they recognize her arousal? Her thoughts were interrupted by a question, breaking the silence. "Are you ready for the last part of the shoot?" When she turned around and saw the cane in the hand of the woman behind her, she knew that she would ask more questions the next time before going to a shoot. Would she???

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Old Man and the Sea

One of the great things about writing a blog like this is that you get to correspond with, and sometimes meet, plenty of interesting people you would never have known about otherwise. People who would never have known about you, either.

I have a truly international readership here. Most of my readers are from the UK, the United States and Germany - the "big three" countries which, I am told by several producers, are the most important markets for corporal punishment movies. But I have also received comments and reader emails from Sweden, Norway, Spain, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Finland, Canada, South Africa, Australia and a few other places (I sometimes wonder if all of my readers really live on the same planet as I do, but let's not get into that).

The internet not only brings people from different countries and different continents together, it also bridges gaps in social background and status, to a certain extent. If you're on welfare, you probably don't have a PC, but pretty much everyone else in the Western world has one today. It bridges gaps between the generations, too, and this is perhaps most interesting for me as a historian. My readers range from age 18 to 88. That is not a metaphorical statement. As you will find out in this post, it is very literally true.

The beauty of communication on a blog like this: "People are judged by the content of their contribution, not by age or any other circumstance unless they choose to confess." Those are the words of Peter, one of my commenters and email correspondents who became a very good friend. I would like to tell you a bit about him today.

Peter and I "met" on the (now defunct) blog of Niki Flynn, where he commented as peter8862. He has a fetish he calls "ripping 4 whipping": women getting their sexy clothes cut and torn up during a CP session for the mutual enjoyment of both parties. "Mix with this the eroticism of long slinky silk evening gowns and the vulnerability of girls in simple bondage" Peter says, "and you have a heady cocktail." Before long, he was leaving comments on my blog as well, and we started writing each other emails. I learned that Peter was acting out his ripping-for-whipping fantasies with a kinky lady he had befriended, who owned three wardrobes bursting with clothes she once wore as a dancer and didn't know what to do with them. Which gave him "ample scope for research", as he put it.

When you are a fetishist, details matter, and Peter is no exception to the rest of us. He has very clear ideas about what constitutes a perfect scenario: "Eroticism is probably limited to fragile silk-like materials such as satins and taffettas. Crisp cotton for summer dresses also has an appeal; thicker, un-ironed wool and cotton the least or none at all. [...] The sound of tearing fabric is enormously erotic. Knives and scissors should therefore only be used as a threat and to start a cut, leaving the rest to brute force, which makes such an evocative swish. [...] The remnants should be left hanging from the shoulders as long as possible, the aim being to achieve the maximum dramatic contrast to the original perfection."

Very few of my readers - or fellow bloggers, for that matter - are as evocative as Peter when describing their most tantalising fantasies: "To my warped mind, woman never looked lovelier or more desirable than when dressed in colourful silk or its nylon equivalent. [...] It’s the liquefaction in the silk of a Burgundy red taffeta ballgown, playfully hiding a shapely girlish figure, coupled with a thin whippy cane in my hand, that sends urgent signals to my nether regions that can only be satisfied by much touchy-feely between cane strokes, using the delicate dress material to caress the tethered girl in all the most exciting places. Which neatly leads me to my final conundrum in this mad but tremendously exciting perversion. I hate waste and the more attractive the girl in her gorgeous dress, the more impossible it would be for me to spoil it. Yet I confess that to slowly and deliberately cut, tear and rip that dress and those undies to shreds in preparation for a sharp caning and caressing would be the ultimate in eroticism for me. And after burning the rags, I would bitterly regret the loss."

And so our correspondence unfolded. At that stage, my own contribution to it largely consisted of recommending CP movies with good clothes-ripping scenes to Peter. Which was the reason why he had originally contacted me, me being one of the resident movie critics of the kinky blogosphere. Then, one day, Peter closed one of his emails with the words: "Can I say what a pleasure this correspondence has been - seventy years ago I spent six years dodging U-boats, caught up as we all were, including the U-boat crews, in an insane holocaust. Each side lost some thirty thousand men. Friendship at the other end of life is so vastly more satisfying! One up for a common interest and the Internet that makes it possible."

Wow, I thought, and did some quick calculations. He explicitly said that he "spent six years" in the war, which meant that he was in the armed forces from the very beginning in 1939. Which meant that he must have been at least seventeen or eighteen at that time. Which meant that he was... in his late eighties now! Good lord. I had certainly not expected that. Actually, I had never given much thought to how old Peter might be. I knew he was from the UK, and from the way he wrote, I had quietly assumed that he was middle-aged, probably in his forties. In his fifties at the most, because that was the upper age limit of the readers I had encountered so far. Well, not anymore!

When I mentioned the point in my next mail, Peter had a good chuckle about it and revealed that he had recently celebrated his 88th birthday. I was still a bit flabbergasted by it all. But needless to say, it was a very pleasant surprise. I thought it was wonderful to see that the kinky community was not restricted in age to just one or two generations. Which is something you know instinctively, of course, but you rarely encounter it first-hand. Most people I knew who were Peter's age had no idea how to switch on a computer, let alone how to surf the internet. And here he was, not just writing online, but also still active in the real world. From what Peter told me, he was in good health, lived on his own, regularly visited friends and did a fair bit of travelling. If I live to be 88, I thought to myself, that is the way I would like to do it. When I wrote as much to Peter, he concurred and said that he indeed considered himself very lucky.

After Peter's "dodging U-boats" remark, we also found a new favourite topic of conversation: the history of naval warfare. While his personal experiences had made Peter even more opposed to war than most of us, he'd retained a lifelong interest in that particular subject. I am by no means an expert on naval history (I come from landlocked Bavaria!), but I know a bit about the parts involving Germany, and I am passionate about history in general. So we had a lot to talk about, which delighted me all the more because Peter had witnessed so much history with his own eyes. In one email, he jokingly called himself "a rather ancient mariner". (Actually, "The Ancient Mariner" was going to be my title for this post, until Kaelah thought of the much superior "The Old Man and the Sea". Hemingway won out over Coleridge in this case.)

Mind you, I never thought of Peter as ancient. With his cheerful wit and curiosity, he remained younger at heart than many people I knew who were younger on paper. It's a cliché to say that you are only as old as you feel, but like most clichés, it contains some truth. Peter is a good illustration of the truth in this one. Our correspondence often gave me new ideas. Once Kaelah became active on the blog, Peter started exchanging mails with her as well. As with Peter and me, the things they talked about went beyond kink. Kaelah would tell me of thought-provoking conversations they had about life, family, love, death and belief. On a lighter note, they also discovered that they shared an interest in the subject of dancing.

This spring, Peter invited Kaelah and me to visit him in the UK for a few days, which we gladly accepted. He was a lovely host and lead us on a tour of all the local historical sights that would have put any professional guide to shame. Our daily excursions also confirmed that Peter is indeed almost frighteningly fit for his age - I think Kaelah and I were getting more exhausted from all the sightseeing than he was. But we had ample opportunity to recharge our batteries during dinner every evening, accompanied by stimulating conversation, wine and jazz music on the stereo. We also watched The Cruel Sea one time, an old war movie about the Battle of the Atlantic.

One day stands out in my memory in particular because it was such an intriguing sequence of events. In the morning, Peter woke us up as he always did, by bringing two cups of tea to our room (Kaelah commented on what a different it was to being woken up with a spanking, which is apparently how Henry Higgins wakes up Emma Jane). After breakfast, we went to church, which is something Kaelah wanted to do, to see an Anglican service. Sounds like a typical kinky day so far, right? We had lunch at a local restaurant and later met Roberta, a friend of Peter's whom we had already heard a lot about. Roberta is a sweet young lady in her seventies. She and her husband are into CP as well and occasionally get together with Peter for that purpose (since both Roberta and Peter are tops, one of them has to switch every time they play together).

Unfortunately, Roberta's husband was feeling a bit unwell that day and couldn't join us on our excursion, so it was only the four of us. We went to a museum ship which Peter was very fond of, where everyone marvelled at how technologically advanced the vessel had been for its time. Well, except for Kaelah, who seemed much more interested in the fact that the exhibits in the prison cell section of the ship included a scourge made out of heavy ropes. Evening was approaching by now, so we went back to Peter's place.

Kaelah and I don't really engage in private play with others at this stage in our still young relationship, and we kept it like that during our trip. However, while there wasn't any actual play with Peter or Roberta, Kaelah tried on a ball gown which Peter had prepared for her that evening, and posed for a few harmless photographs. Perhaps not all that harmless, actually - before our little photo session was over, it came to include some bondage, Kaelah draped over Peter's whipping bench, and Roberta posing next to her with a couple of CP implements. You will get to see some of the results on this blog very soon, so you will be able to judge them for yourselves.

To round out an already very varied day (church, ships, kinky photos...), we had dinner and then sat down together for nightcaps. Suddenly, Roberta asked whether Kaelah and I knew any German songs we could sing for her. Peter had already informed us that she is a very avid singer. So Kaelah and I looked at each other, and after some deliberation proceeded to demonstrate (sometimes quite well, sometimes a little out of tune) every German folk song, children's song and Christmas song we could remember. Roberta contributed renditions of a number of English songs, with the rest of us joining her sometimes. And so the four of us sat there singing Christmas songs, mostly, for well over an hour. I'm still not sure which of our activities that day was kinkier, the photo session or the singing. Probably the latter.

It certainly was a very pleasant trip, that much should be obvious by now. So, thank you again for your kind invitation, Peter. Kaelah and I had a wonderful time and we would love to see you again. Perhaps in Germany the next time, like we said. In the meantime, we look forward to your comments and correspondence as always. As you rightfully said in that mail of yours once: "One up for a common interest and the Internet that makes it possible."

Monday, May 17, 2010

No Resolutions for 2010?

If you've been reading my blog for a while and are among the readers with a long memory, you will undoubtedly recall that I made some new year resolutions back in January 2009. You might have asked yourself: what became of those resolutions? And why didn't I make any (at least not publicly) for 2010?

To answer the second question first, I didn't make any resolutions this time around because, well, I simply didn't feel like it. I don't normally do it, anyway - making some public, kinky new year resolutions on the blog last year was an experiment of sorts, and now that I've done it once, I don't have an overwhelming desire to repeat it. Also, generally speaking, I am busier than I was last year. My academic work has become busier, I have my relationship with Kaelah which I didn't have when 2009 started, and I still have the blog and the email correspondence with fellow spankos, which are as time-consuming as ever. So I'm not keen on artificially inflating my things-to-do list even further. If I manage to make roughly the same number of blog posts this year as in my first two years (70+), I'll be happy enough.

Actually, this is the one, late new year resolution which I am going to make for 2010: at least 70 blog posts. Kaelah's count as well, and with her help, that should be doable. Also, I want to correct the irregularities that have crept into the harmony of my celestial spheres: at the end of the year, I want the number of reviews to be exactly one third of the total number of blog posts again (from the beginning in 2008 up to the present). Moreover, I want one fourth of the reviews to be website reviews, the other three fourths movie reviews. Did you get that? Probably not. Nobody cares about it except me, and understandably so. But I need to have my spheres in harmony again, so I am going to work on that as well (as a result, you will see some further irregularities in the near future to offset the old ones, and then I will hopefully be able to return to my beloved anapestic tetrameter posting rhythm).

For today, let's take a look back and find out what became of the new year resolutions for 2009. I should have done that in January this year already, but I was busy with other things, so I'm doing it now. Here, for your recollection, are the "kinky goals" I had set myself for 2009:

- Attend my first spanking party in the UK
- Try out at least two new CP implements (one actively, one passively)
- Add at least one more nationality to my list of victims
- Make more spanking videos than in 2008
- Review more spanking videos and websites than in 2008

The first resolution met with resounding success when Kaelah and I went to Haron's birthday party last autumn. It wasn't an open-for-all party (which is what I really had been thinking of when I made the resolution), but it was definitely a party, and a great one at that, and it was in the UK. Outcome: success.

(By the way, Haron recently revealed to the world that she is Adele Haze, so I no longer have to pretend that they are different people. Yeah, we were visiting Adele and Mr. Haze, really, and it follows from there that it wasn't the first time we met them, either.)

Kaelah and I had a little private session at that party, and it was then that I tried out a couple of implements which I had never used before as a top, on her or anyone else. I'll single out the tawse here, but there were others, too. So, thanks to Abel's / Mr. Haze's wonderful implement collection, I managed to fulfil one half of my second new year resolution. Not the other half, though, because I didn't try out a new implement passively. Actually, I never switched at all during 2009. I would have if Niki Flynn and I had resolved our football bet. The martinet would have been a new implement for me. But Niki retired, and I never felt like switching for another scenario. Outcome: partial success.

The third resolution was a complete success again. I added not just one, but two new nationalities to my list of CP victims. Hungarian at the Mood Pictures shoot, Czech at the Lupus shoot. Another reason to be thankful for the fall of the iron curtain. Outcome: success.

Resolution number four, "make more spanking videos than in 2008". Now this is a tough one to assess, because of the unclear wording "make". Does that mean "to film" or "to publish"? I filmed a number of video clips with Kaelah last year which we intend to post on the blog eventually, but we haven't got around to it yet. How do I count that? And what about the Farewell to the Final Girl videos with Niki? I posted them in September 2009, but they had been filmed one year before. What about Almost A Birthday Spanking? Posted in February 2009, filmed the previous year, it was new, never-before-seen footage from a scene that had already been published. How the hell does that count? Finally, does my guest role at Mood Pictures count as one video or as two? It was filmed in one (very long) shoot, but they put it out as two separate videos.

In any case, I would have needed to make at least seven videos in 2009 to meet the resolution. But regardless of whether I take the videos I filmed or the ones I published, I can't get to seven. Even with a reasonably "optimistic" count (taking the Mood video as two, for instance), I only get to six in each case. I could be really generous and count the last three little clips with Niki Flynn as three seperate videos, but then I would have to do the same for the Spanko-Style Advertising clips posted in 2008 (I had counted them as one video in my original calculations). So that doesn't help, either. Well, I guess I failed with this particular resolution, albeit narrowly. Outcome: failure.

Last but not least, I had set myself the goal of reviewing more spanking videos and more websites than I had in 2008. The count is easier this time, and I have to say that I failed with that, too. I was reasonably close - 18 movie reviews I did vs. 20 I should have done, and 6 website reviews I did vs. 7 I should have done. I could easily have made it, had I not had two blogging lapses in May and November, with only a small handful of posts in each month. But "would have, could have" is no good. Outcome: failure.

Overall, though, considering the fact that the resolutions were fairly specific and not all that easy to meet (as opposed to fluff like "I want to enjoy life more!"), I would say that two and a half out of five is not bad. Not great, either, but I am reasonably content.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Website Review: Paingate

Paingate is not really about spanking, it's about whipping. While purists will bemoan this state of affairs, those whose fascination with corporal punishment extends to more than schoolgirls-and-canes scenarios should love the site, because it is one of the best of its kind on the net today - arguably the best whipping site in existence, that is, and one of the premier CP sites overall. Among all the sites I've reviewed so far, Paingate is perhaps the ultimate guilty pleasure.

It was started in 1998 by a group of Germans who had met while living out their kinky fantasies in private. At first, they only starred in the videos themselves, then other like-minded individuals joined their circle, and as the site grew over the years, dozens of new models were attracted by word of mouth. Paingate have a reputation of doing relaxed shoots where everyone is having fun, including the victims. When they found that they were able and willing to shoot ever larger amounts of content, they opened a sister site called Whipped Women to make the costs worthwhile (Whipped Women was, not without reason, the first site I reviewed on this blog). The type of content is virtually the same and the concept behind both sites is simple. In the words of one of the producers to me: "The focus is on the whipping of, without exception, beautiful young women in various scenarios, with and without bondage."

Indeed, the main strength of Paingate in my view is the... ahem... quality of the models. I once wrote in my critique of Spanking Server that theirs was one of the most consistently attractive sites "in terms of pure, unapologetic eye candy", but I now have to say that the real prize in that category belongs to Paingate. At the time of this writing, they own the most exquisite candy store of all. Which is not to say that other CP sites don't have beautiful models - any site starring Pandora Blake, Irelynn Logeen or Amelia-Jane Rutherford certainly does. But the key word here is consistency: I believe that, in terms of how good the "average" model looks, a case can be made that Paingate are ahead of everyone else. Tastes vary, of course, and judgments about physical attractiveness are even more subjective than anything else in these reviews. But when I observe how incredibly popular Paingate are with the (almost exclusively male) video freak faction on the net, I note that I don't seem to be alone with my sentiments.

One thing I especially like about Paingate is that the models look like women, not like cute little dolls. That is one key difference distinguishing them from other eye candy sites like Spanking Server. Another is that the people running Paingate are themselves genuine CP enthusiasts who do what they do because they like it, whereas the commercial aspect is secondary. This seems to apply to many of the models as well - while the site has its share of "hired hands" like most others, the on-camera demeanour and the interviews accompayning some clips suggest that there is a fair share of full-blooded kinksters among the victims.

The members section is divided into several "gates" with different themes. The "Top Gate" features the most recent updates while the "Favourite Gate" brings back popular older videos. The "Extreme Gate" has some of the hardest and / or longest thrashings on the site. You can imagine what the "Prison Gate" and the "History Gate" are all about. The latter showcases some nice costumes and wigs. Last but not least, there is an "Amateur Gate" with some very old clips from the early days. The video quality ranges from tiny Real Media clips for the most ancient releases to .wmv files with a resolution of 720 x 576 pixels for the more recent years. The camerawork and lighting are good. They usually do a nice job of showing off their female talent and capturing the effects of the beatings, marks as well as reactions. For each video, there is also a large gallery of photographs.

Paingate do not have their entire back catalogue online on their servers. As they add new content, they periodically take down some of the older clips, which will then reappear one day in the "Favourite Gate" or some other section. Even though the amount of content available at any given time is still immense (I counted 108 individual scenes when I did the review), this is a drawback compared to sites that offer their entire back catalogue. My other, and very minor, point of criticism is that the older video scenes could do with some cleanup. While all the new videos are available in one single file, the old ones are split into several parts, often averaging 2 MB in size. That really isn't up to date anymore. They should be joined and re-uploaded as single files.

Such nitpicking aside, the content itself is marvelous. I already went on about how hot the models are. Many of them can also take an impressive beating. Even though Paingate do not approach the severity of the Eastern European companies (which will be a good thing in the eyes of many), these are serious, no-nonsense thrashings that produce ample marks and genuinely pained reactions. As well as that, they tend to go on for a while: scenes frequently show over a hundred strokes. The buttocks are only one target zone among others. The victims' backs, breasts, bellies, legs and genitalia also get their share of attention, sometimes two or three of these areas in a scene, sometimes all of them. Full nudity is the norm rather than the exception. The most common implement is the whip in various forms, but I also saw floggers, crops, canes and switches in action. Paddles and hand spankings seem to be non-existent - as stated previously, this is not a classical spanking site. The majority of videos is between 15 and 20 minutes long, a bit longer perhaps than the industry standard.

Most of the action is M/F. The site's two main tops go by the nicknames Machine and Stiker. They often appear together. Various other male tops have contributed to Paingate over the years, some with masks over their faces to protect their identity. There is also F/F action from "the Instructrice", a native English speaker (all the dialogue is in English). One feature that sets Paingate apart from most other CP sites is that they have an unusually large amount of videos with more than two participants. Many involve several tops and / or victims. Numerous scenes have an entire on-set audience - of models, tops or simply "guests" - sitting around and gleefully watching the whippings. As an avowed fan of the "audience in the video" concept, I enjoy this a great deal. It's fascinating to observe all the different parties, their reactions and interactions, from your "fly on the wall" perspective.

There are those producers whose clips are "mini-dramas" in their own right, where the thrashing is only one segment between an exposition and an aftermath. Most Paingate videos are about the thrasing alone. When they have an exposition, it is often one showing off a model's body while she is stripping, dancing or taking a bath. However, while they don't film elaborate stories, it is clear that Paingate try to put some creativity into their videos. Aside from scenarios that simply involve a "master" and a "slave", there are historical scenes ("The Guillotine", "Pain Castle Horror"), prison scenes ("The Escape"), military scenes ("Paingate Boot Camp"), interrogation scenes ("East German Inquisitor"), and so forth. Some of the scenarios are quite unique - where else can you watch a "Bullwhip Duel" where two models are chained to each other and hitting each other? The variety of settings and punishment positions is impressive: stockades, whipping posts, "wheels of torture", hanging bondage, cells, factory halls, outdoor scenes, you name it.

Moreover, these are not mute, mechanical beatings. While Paingate certainly focus on the essentials, they do have a fair amount of dialogue and top / victim interaction. And while they don't produce mini-dramas, they have an undeniable knack for erotic, inspiring setups that tickle the imagination. It's obvious that this is a labour of passion by people who are into the kink, and that is what makes Paingate truly interesting, beyond the fine-looking models and the gorgeous whip marks. The site is a guilty pleasure alright, but one that has a soul.