Friday, February 29, 2008

Interview: Leia-Ann Woods

Leia-Ann Woods doesn't really need an introduction. She is one of the most prolific spanking models and creative minds from England, home island of the cane. As a trained ballerina, she has the "best touching-toes posture in the business" (Niki Flynn's words). When she is not busy donning a prisoner's uniform and getting delightfully thrashed, Leia studies for a PhD in Chemistry and reads the autobiography of T.E. Lawrence. In other words, a wonderful subject to kickstart my series of CP artist interviews.

Leia's most well-known work can be seen on the site Bars and Stripes, which she co-founded with Michael Stamp. She has also shot with Miss Marchmont, Firm Hand, Stictly English, Northern Spanking and other producers. Moreover, you should check out her personal website and her blog Leia-Ann Woods Diary [edit: has since been replaced by Leia's New Musings]. And, if you are so inclined, her recent scenes with The English Mansion, where she shows a lot of promise switching to the dominant side.

There are other interviews with Leia on Spreview and at The Spanking Spot. I tried not to repeat any of the previous questions, so they make good additional reading. As does her Kinky Island Discs entry on Prefectdt's blog.

You've had fantasies about spanking and CP from a very early age. Can you remember a specific moment when you discovered your kinky side? Any particular stories that you read or heard about as a child, which attracted you?

Leia: Ah, that famous question. Yes, my kinky side came out very young. I remember because we were still at our first hotel in Brighton, it was summer and I had been given a whole load of Enid Blyton books to read. The two sets were Malory Towers and the St. Clare’s series. Also, I had been given Roald Dahl’s Boy. All these books had small scenes of spanking in them and I found myself getting excited by these scenes, reading them over and over again, even adopting the positions described in the books from time to time. I was too young to know this was a sexual thing, only that I enjoyed it... Hence I badgered mum to go to boarding school, just like in the books!

So, were you disappointed when they didn't actually use CP at boarding school? In my own high school days, whenever a girl in my class got extra homework because of bad behaviour, I secretly thought to myself: wouldn't it be cool if she got a paddling or caning now? Even if I didn't get to see it, the knowledge about it would have been exhilerating. Did you have similar scenarios going through your mind at that time in your life?

Leia: At first I did, yes. I did find actual life at boarding school to be not what I hoped. However, the camaraderie was great! The disciplinary measures at school were mainly “gating” (like being grounded but at school), which did not work for me because I did as I saw fit when I saw it! I could have done with better discipline, I can assure you! Later on as ballet life really took over, I immersed myself in that and my fantasies abated for a while... Until I left ballet for good.

I've had the fantasies for as long as I can remember, too. Even though I had no concept of "BDSM" or "sadomasochism" at the time, I knew that it was unusual and that other people didn't get turned on by these things at all. For some time, I wondered if I was the only one in the world who had such strange thoughts! Did you believe that, too? When did you find out that there are others out there?

Leia: I did believe I was the only one and from about 16 to 20, I hid my thoughts very well and did not pursue them, thinking myself to have some form of mental problem with sex and that I must stay away from it because I am a danger. Despite a single experience at 19, this feeling did not fade. However, as I got older, the ability to control how I felt became less and less and I needed to explore. One day I took this massive plunge and googled "spanking". I was amazed by what I found and pulled an all nighter to read the web pages I had just found... I was so relieved and began, just began the slow process of accepting who I am.

You accepted it and your "inner feminist" doesn't have a problem with your submissive fantasies. Is there anything you want to say to other young women who have the same secret desires and are struggling with them?

Leia: The feminist campaign started so as to give us the same rights as men. We have those rights now, so now people are banging on about equality. We are not equal to men, because we are not the same as them. If a male is a sub and the woman a domme, how is that more accpetable and not sexist in it’s own theory? Being free to express ourselves is what it was all about. To work, to vote, to have all the privileges a man had. We attained that, so if a woman wishes to express herself in a submissive manner, where it is her fantasy to do so, who has the right to stop her? Is she no longer feminist?

Since you are a scientist, you are bound to have an inquisitive mind. Do you happen to have any theories on why you, Leia-Ann Woods, became a CP enthusiast? Or are you not really interested in the "Why me?" question, and you just do what you enjoy? In any case, I believe you were never spanked at home, so that couldn't have been a factor.

Leia: You are right, I was never spanked until I was 19. We all know that story! So there was nothing from my childhood in the form of actions that should have got me into spanking. Why become a CP enthusiast? I think it is the way I am wired. It must be because it has been in my head ever since I can remember. I still had a nightlight when I was playing out spanking scenes in the dormitory in my head!

As you just said, your first real-life spanking came at the age of 19, when a boyfriend gave you a few smacks in a pub - with the other guys cheering him on! You described that scene in your Spanking Spot interview. Was that an event that sent you on your way, so to speak? That made you decide to explore the scene and find like-minded people? Or had the thought been lurking in your mind before?

Leia: Actually that scene, while so brilliant and thrilling for it’s humiliation and public shaming factor, probably slowed my exploration down as I was still mentally beating myself up... Even more so after this event, as while I hated it at the time, the after effect was fantastic and I masturbated about it for some months. So, because that happened it was to be another couple of years before I took the plunge... At university.

After you had started to meet people in the scene, you were approached by Miss Marchmont who asked you if you would like to do a movie for them. Had you always been a fan of CP movies? Do you remember the first one you ever saw, or any that impressed you in particular?

Leia: Christ, they approached me at pure innocence stage. At the second or third Fetish Fair I had ever been to, so I had not even seen a spanking movie at the time. Lucy and Master Kain (who became my Master soon after that meeting) did show me some of theirs and I loved them. I think they had me simply because Master Kain hit upon one of my favourite (non prison) scenes of all time: the Mis-Used Victorian Maid.

As we know, you took up the offer from Miss Marchmont. Was it out of general curiosity, just a fun thing to do? Do you have an exbitionist side that you wanted to live out? Was it the creative process that interested you, the desire to collaborate on a movie with others? I'm wondering about what held the main appeal for you.

Leia: At first I was highly reluctant, thinking of all sorts of things that could go wrong as a result of diving down that particular rabbit hole. However, because Master Kain approached me with “The Way of a Man and His Maid” as part of my first shoot, I could not help myself but to say yes. By the time we shot he was my Master, which simply made the fantasy all the more erotic... Something we continued to play out for the rest of the evening. Off camera sadly, folks! So it was simple, really – my heart led me.

So that was the first film you ever made. What memories do you have of the shoot and of the things that went through your mind that day?

Leia: Actually, the first film we made (same day as the "Maid") was "The Finishing School". I am not sure if you have seen it, but that was my first. And I was terrified. Petrified. In fact, so terrified that the CP I was used to from Master Kain by now really, really hurt! But oh my! The buzz afterwards... I guess that is why I had to make more and eventually, after recovering from illness, became more involved. I did not have too much time to think on it, as the next film was to be made that same day... I was so thrilled at the end of it, though!

A few years ago, you created your own movie site Bars and Stripes. You say that you've always been attracted by women in prison scenarios and that it sterns from your own time at boarding school. It seems that you get the biggest kick out of being completely at someone's mercy, like a prisoner is at the mercy of a guard. Could you talk about that a bit, and why it is such a turn-on for you?

Leia: Yes, I did, didn’t I... Well, not on my own. I do Bars with Michael Stamp, who is our Number One Governor on the site, and I had much help from Lucy and Paul of Northern Spanking. Yes, it is a power exchange thing. I really get off on having no power over a situation, and a prison is a real killer for that. There is no escape, nowhere for you to go. You must accept what is coming... Sink or swim so to speak! I also get a kick out of “non-consensual” roleplay. Which is of course consensual, but for the fantasy it is not. For instance, I filmed a joint cavity search with Saffy, where Matron was really evil to me after finding “contraband” in me... Even before the resultant strapping and double caning began, I had an orgasm on the set... For the psychological darkness of the scene and the fact that I had been forced to submit to the search and its humiliating outcome. Fantastic! I love being a writer!

Are there any significant personality differences between your real self and your "girl in prison" persona? Where you would say: "I'm not really like that at all, but it's a fun thing to play!" Or is she a mirror image of yourself, just in this fictional environment?

Leia: No! She is very different from me. I for one am not nearly so bloody minded. I would have submitted to the system by now and immersed myself in the library. Mrs Woods appears to be intent on causing nothing but trouble and running her rackets! She is also much colder. If I were someone of influence in prison, I would want to help the more vulnerable ones, not exploit them. Finally, I think I would make a pass at Matron, not try and attack her!

What do you enjoy most about your movie work today? The actual filming, immersing yourself in the scene? The creative process before that, coming up with new ideas?

Leia: All of what you have listed gives me great pleasure. Holding the camera, learning about getting the right shots. Learning how to use cameras and being given a chance to be behind one at a CP shoot has so much to it. Although potentially more stressful, I love shooting as a camerawoman for Northern Spanking most of all, because it is for someone else and so is a challenge in its own right on that point alone. The creative process can be fulfilling but hard. For Bars and Stripes I have paced up and down my lounge so much over a script that I should have worn the carpet out! Writing a soap is not as easy as I thought!

You did ballet at boarding school. Obviously, it is an art that requires a lot of discipline - the constant practice, the perfection of the moves, the right diet. Do you see any parallels between ballerinas and spanking models? The need for self-control, the quest to push one's physical limits? Or do you find that they're two totally different occupations?

Leia: Hmm... Not so much with spanking modelling. However, ballet has helped me to be graceful in how I bend over for punishment and I have a real thing for ritualism in CP. The correct position being held in the correct way. Legs correct, and back arched where necessary. Ballet has also come out in my other side which is as a lifestyle slave. Slavery also requires discipline and grace, pushing of the limits and of course self-control! Without ballet I am not sure I would be the slave I am, but I guess I will never know!

After you gave up ballet, you took up chemistry. Quite an unusual progression. Would you say that you have two seperate streaks, an artistic and a rational one? Or do you find them to be two sides of the same coin? I've heard many scientists say that what attracts them to a particular theory is its "beauty", among other things.

Leia: Unusual in its way, yes. Ballet to me had its scientific elements, though. Take virtuosity and turning. If you think of torque and angular momentum, you can work out how to turn on point more efficiently! Likewise, the sciences have their artistic side... Take, for example, emulsions and paints. Understood and made better by scientists. The two sides mix well and I find people try to separate them all too often.

I agree, but let's stay with the "separation" point of view for a moment. When it comes to CP, is it more of an artform or a science to you? Or something else entirely?

Leia: It is both with an extra something mixed in that I never seem to be able to put my finger on... Artform can be the postion of your body, the smothness with which you move from each position to the next in a ritual scene. Science is understanding velocity and how that changes from the handle to the tip of a cane when you apply a stroke.

You said in another interview that CP is more than just a physical interaction, it is also a psychological mindset. What aspects of the psychology fascinate you the most? Which scenarios are exciting to you, apart from the "women in prison" theme that we have already mentioned?

Leia: I guess it is as I said before. Power exchange, so any situation where I have no choice - and I mean no choice! - is a real turn-on for me. So because of that I love the mistreated Edwardian maid, the interrogated captive, the girls at a boarding school and the army cadet. What does not work for me is “either you take a spanking or you loose your job”. After all, I just want to tell them to keep the job then!

You've worked with Northern Spanking, Firm Hand and other British producers. Do you like any of the videos from continental Europe, like Girls Boarding School, Pain4Fem or Lupus?

Leia: Yes, I do in a way, although some can be too severe for me. Not if I was taking it, but to watch... You see, I have a problem. I can’t stand watching girls receive too much pain! Odd, really, when you think of what I will do on film! I was a while back thinking of shooting with Lupus, but was discouraged by my CP friends and then lost the time to do it. I may however go east for my swansong as a bottom!

So, what is the special ingredient that makes a spanking film truly memorable? Where you say, this is what separates the merely good ones from the genuine masterpieces?

Leia: The story. I know many people like to get straight to the action, but a good story, in a setting where CP could genuinely happen, where there is little option but for the spankee to take it, is very important. The spankee must react well, too... Be really into the scene and let go, not worrying about her reactions being seen. For this reason, there is a film I did with Northern based on customs. I am looking forward to that one coming out. I believe it is the first time you will see me cry after a punishment. I may be wrong there as I know Strictly English have some footage, too. But I am not sure if it is released.

As a switch, I'm always intrigued by others who enjoy to be on both sides of the cane. Most of your modelling work is submissive, but you've also done scenes as a domme. Did you always have that side in you, or was it something you discovered along the way?

Leia: (laughing out loud) God knows... I had to become a slave to learn about my dominant side. Seriously, I did! I started getting into a bit of it at Yorkshire Spanking parties, and then I was booked to go the The English Mansion and film with them. Yes, Lucy Bailey again – always first to film me in a particular role! The first filming was CP only, but the next... Well,that was broader as my experience has developed.

What excites you about being a top? Is it the control issue again, having someone in your hands? Is it the physical aspect, do you have a sadist in you who enjoys to inflict pain? Where's the fun for Leia the Domme?

Leia: At the moment, I guess it is the understanding of how the bottom is feeling, and knowing that if I take them to the right part in their head, they will get a real buzz. So in a way, I am still submitting, wanting to give to them. I know I am an odd one. Do I like to inflict pain? No, not for the hell of it. I will punish if a direct order from me has been disobeyed, but not really in a sadistic way. Another fun aspect has to be the learning it all, learning how to use equipment and all such manner of toys. I love that!

Since you've worked with many different tops, male and female, and as a domme yourself, I'd like to know: what, in your estimate, are the most essential qualities here? What distinguishes a good master or domme?

Leia: Oh, I think that is mostly subjective and dependent upon the situation of both top and bottom. A domme should be able to understand her sub/slave, encourage them to talk about their thoughts and feelings so the path chosen in their training is the most beneficial. On a practical note, if you are a domme who plays on the more extreme, a good knowledge of first aid is very important. Play must be safe. Finally, be prepared to learn from those more experienced. It is all too easy to end up with “arrogant domme syndrome”!

You've mentioned elsewhere that one of your main hobbies is reading. Could you name some of your favourite authors or books?

Leia: A well, I am particularly eclectic. I love most books from thrillers and erotica to historical novels. It is well known that my favourite is Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Mr Lawrence is a man I would dearly love to have met, particularly to discuss his time with the Turks and what happened to him – most of all how he felt about it. Sadly, that will never happen.

And when it comes to mainstream movies, what sort of stuff do you like? Any particular genre or director? Apart from prison films, I mean - we know that already!

Leia: (laughing out loud) Yes, there are other interests. I like films that draw from life, such as Fried Green Tomatoes, The Remains of the Day, The Shipping News and Notes on a Scandal. Well, actually, anything with Judi Dench in it – I admire her so much as an actress.

You've mentioned how you enjoy learning the instruments, and of course being a writer. Exploration seems to be a big theme for you. So, where do you see yourself going from here? Any particular, tantalizing scenarios or fantasies that you didn't get to do yet?

Leia: There is one fantasy that I must play out soon. An Interrogation. I have discussed this with my friend Mistress Switch, where myself and other ladies are captured and interrogated by a foreign entity. They are questioning me in a language I don’t understand. They are pushing harder and harder for answers as they do not believe that I do not speak their language. They try all sorts of punishments and tortures to get me to speak... But to no avail...

Let's hope that you get to play that out soon - for all of us to see, of course. And thank you very much for the interview, Leia!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Prospero's Whips

There be some sports are painful, and their labour
Delight in them sets off: some kinds of baseness
Are nobly undergone, and most poor matters
Point to rich ends. This my mean task
Would be as heavy to me as odious, but
The mistress which I serve quickens what’s dead,
And makes my labours pleasures.


This delicious passage from the Bard is probably the most concise (and certainly the most poetic) characterization of the kinky mindset that I've ever seen. I don't want to claim that venerable William was into whips and chains himself (or was he?), but it is the hallmark of great art that you can read all kinds of juicy interpretations into it. For me, this one certainly fits. And there are many other reasons for why "The Tempest" is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays. It is exotic, fantastical, richly layered, funny and arguably his most enigmatic work.

You probably know the plot. Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, is deposed by his jealous brother and left on an island with his daughter Miranda. The good news for Prospero is, he brought his books! Posessed of magic powers due to his great library and learning, he commands the spirit Ariel and other creatures of the island, like the native beast-man Caliban. They serve him reluctantly and in fear of the sorcerer's powers. When his brother, the usurper Antonio, sails close to the island on a voyage, Prospero raises a storm and makes the ship run aground. As Antonio and the other survivors find themselves stranded, the magician sets his next grand plan in motion...

(William Maw Egley, "Prospero and Miranda", circa 1850)

Sorcery is the pivotal theme, really. Because of his magical powers, Prospero controls pretty much everything from start to finish - he commands his slaves, creates the tempest, foils his enemies' plans and manipulates all the happenings on the island. Some interpretations see Prospero as a version of Shakespeare himself, the omnipotent playwright who is master of everything and everyone in his world. It has recently fallen somewhat out of favour, but I think it's an interesting angle.

At any rate, Prospero is a real kinky guy. That much is obvious. Here is how he threatens his unruly servant Caliban:

PROSPERO: If thou neglect’st, or dost unwillingly
What I command, I’ll rack thee with old cramps,
Fill all thy bones with aches, make thee roar,
That beasts shall tremble at thy din.

Hell, that's what I call majestic intimidation! Have you ever been dominated by someone this classy? I didn't think so. I used to believe that "Over my knee, young lady!" sounded pretty stern, but this stuff is way cool. And I have to admit, out of my league. No wonder that Caliban is as meek a submissive as you'll ever meet:

CALIBAN: How does thy honour? Let me lick thy shoe.

However, my favourite quote has to be from Prospero again. I'm still searching for the appropriate CP movie setting where I can use the following line:

PROSPERO: Thou most lying slave,
Whom stripes may move, not kindness!

Speaking of movies, there are several intriguing adaptations of "The Tempest". The great Derek Jarman made a free-spirited homoerotic version. Then there's the sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet, also loosely based on the play. Probably the most eccentric, flawed but compelling take: Prospero's Books by Peter Greenaway. It's a difficult, visually complex film starring John Gielgud and many, many naked people. If you can stomach two hours of unrestrained art cinema weirdness, you will find moments of genius here. Greenaway focuses on the "playwright as magician" theme, and the control freak in me is loving it.

I was reminded of all this when Prefectdt asked me if I wanted to do a segment for his Kinky Island Discs series. Like most brilliant ideas, it is fairly simple: kinky bloggers and celebrities get to choose what DVD's and other items would keep them entertained if they had to spend the rest of their lives on a desert island. Naturally, I love the series and jumped at the chance to be a part of it. You can read my contribution here.

I wonder if there are any spankable natives on the island. My Girl Friday? But while Robinson Crusoe is a great novel, I'm more of a Prospero at heart. Mad King Ludwig, master of everything he surveys! Holding the creatures of the isle and even nature itself at his beck and call with his knowledge and wondrous powers! That's my kind of megalomania.

So I've re-imagined "The Tempest" as a corporal punishment play. In my version, the servant spirit Ariel is named Adele, and Caliban becomes Leia-Ann. Another difference is that I don't force them to obey with "old cramps" - a few proper lashes of the whip will suffice. When a ship crewed by a squad of famous spanking models sails close to my island on a luxury cruise, I conjure up the storm and things really get interesting...

You may leave your applications to star in the play in the comments section. I haven't decided on a title yet - it will either be "Prospero's Whips" or "Tempestuous Canings".

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Movie Review: Elite Club Special Case

Elitepain (released in 2007)

Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:
Girls submit to torture to help their loved ones.

Victim Appeal:
The flick features two Hungarian sexpots by the stage names of Hillary Frank and Rose Sardy. Their acting is atrocious and the dialogue delivered in a flatly droning manner, but it only matters during the brief exposition. Here is what we get in terms of story: the girls visit an Army Colonel's office because they want their loved ones to return home (boyfriend and brother, respectively). After initial reluctance ("This is not in my hands"), the Colonel offers to help them in exchange for a perverse favour. He reveals himself as a member of a secret club where young women are tortured for pleasure, and if they are willing to submit to that, he will heed their pleas. Shockingly enough, the girls agree!

Both young ladies are red-haired, slender and pretty to behold. Once the need for acting is removed, they turn in a fine (i.e. resilient) performance. Rose Sardy, in particular, is stunningly gorgeous, and I can't seem to get enough of her lovely, whimpering reactions. So while the appeal is superficial, it is definitely there. Quite a lot of it, actually.

Gratuitous Sadism:
The Elite Club series has a stronger "BDSM emphasis" than the average traditional CP movie. Canings and whippings (severe ones!) remain the center of attention, but we are also treated to various additional forms of abuse. While still in his office, the Colonel forces Hillary to give him a blowjob. I can do without hardcore sex in kinky films, but it was a brief scene and fits with the exploitation motif. In the club segments, we have some bastinado with a crop and a bit of genital piercing. Yikes!

Not quite my line, all of this, so let's move on to the nice old-fashioned butt lashings. The welcome news is that "Special Case" features several good scenes, including one that is truly outstanding. Rose Sardy gets 32 strokes of the cane while tied up on all fours, over a bench. Hillary Frank gets 20 in the diaper position. Afterwards, it is Rose's turn again. She is whipped with a single tail, on the X-Cross, 30 hits in total to both her front and back. For the finale, the girls are tied together, back to back, and given 60 with the single tail, "package style". Marks, howls and pleas for mercy abound. In the sum of its parts, a lighthearted feel-good romp.

Best Reactions:
The first CP segment with Rose Sardy. For me, that is the whole reason to see the movie. It is as perfect a caning scene as I have ever watched, and simply because of these few minutes, I count "Special Case" among my top five favourite videos of all time. Where to start? The girl is drop-dead beautiful. She gets some 30 strokes, not excessive by Hungarian standards, but each one is severe. Fine classical position, bent over and tied up. Her tormentor, the Colonel, wears a monk's robe! The rhythm he applies is exemplary - slow and spacious, savouring each lash, but just quick enough to keep the scene from fizzling out. Rose gets vivid, gorgeous welts on her ass, one angry red stripe developing after the other until she is thoroughly covered. The whole sequence is photographed nicely, with good lighting, camerawork and angles.

As if all of this wasn't enough, Miss Sardy's reactions are simply stunning. She may be forgettable as an actress, but her natural behaviour here is nothing short of ideal. If I had to pick a textbook example of what excites me as a sadist, for spanking models to watch, I would choose this scene. Of course, there is no point - reactions need to be genuine! In this case, they are both genuine and awesome. Rose is in a lot of pain, and she makes it known, but she doesn't scream her head off. I find excessive volume irritating. No, she cries and whimpers and yowls, loud and heart-wrenching, but always somewhat suppressed. She's neither too stoic nor too hysterical, and the result is a wonderful blend of vocal distress and struggle for composure. A struggle which she only loses towards the very end, with the last few strokes. Great crescendo, great finish. A classic, intense, highly arousing scene.

Best Line:
If you haven't guessed it by now, there is no intricate story here, no humour or psychological drama, and no memorable dialogue, either. Rose Sardy screams "Don't! I'm begging you!" during her caning. Several times, at the top of her lungs. So that would have to be the main line, I guess.

Nice Psychological Touch:
I liked how they tied the two girls together for the final single tail whipping. There is a German proverb saying: "Shared suffering is only half the suffering." Judging by their agonizing unisono cries, though, I am not sure that it is true.

How Good Is It Really?
You've read my rave review of That Perfect Caning. Personally, I rate it among the best ever filmed. The rest of "Special Case" is okay, but unremarkable. No story worth the name, wooden acting, and while the other CP scenes are good, they are not brilliant, either. Not nearly as much as Miss Sardy's heart-rending howls. So it comes down to the question, is the video worth checking out for that segment alone? For me, it is, but prepare to be less impressed by the remainder.

What You Learned:
Sometimes, five and a half minutes out of 45 are enough to create a classic spanking movie. And I really want to go to Budapest. On foot, wearing a monk's robe.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Mark of Cain

Cain said to the Lord, "My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me this day away from the ground; and from thy face I shall be hidden; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will slay me." Then the Lord said to him, "Not so! If any one slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who came upon him should kill him.

Book of Genesis, Chapter 4, Verses 13-15

(Gustave Dore, "The Death of Abel", 1866)

It is said that after Cain slew his brother Abel, God placed a curse on him, forcing Cain to wander the earth for the rest of his life because he would be unable to grow crops. He also put a mark on Cain as a warning that whoever harmed him would face God's wrath. To this day, there is debate among Biblical scholars about the passage. What exactly did the mark look like? Was it visible or more of an "aura"? Was it to alert others to the presence of the murderer? And why did God keep Cain alive and protected?

Even as a non-believer, I find this Bible tale quite intriguing. Especially after I heard in a literature class that the German writer Klaus Mann considered his homosexuality to be a "Mark of Cain". He felt that, rather than being shameful, it was something that enobled him and made him a member of an exclusive elite. I don't know if Mann ever used the specific term himself, but the comparison with the mark has stuck with me ever since.

Somehow, it appeals very strongly to me as a spanko. Kinky people aren't murderers, of course, but we are still seen as immoral or objectionable by some groups. We don't have a visible mark (although we sometimes use handkerchief signs), but in a way, we are like Cain - he was unable to grow crops and thereby lead a normal life, we are unable to be fully content just with vanilla sex. So we often become wanderers and seekers, in a metaphorical sense. Whether it is true or not, I also liked the story about Klaus Mann and how he turned the (even worse) prejudices of his time around - choosing to view his "affliction" as a blessing rather than a curse.

I think it's a question we all ask ourselves at some point: why am I different? Why am I turned on by spanking, corporal punishment or bondage when most people are not? Why do I gleefully fantasize about whippings or torture when I certainly don't support the real, non-consensual thing? What is it that "marks me out"?

Scientists have dozens of theories, but no consensus on the phenomenon of BDSM. Psychologically, it is often categorized as a "disorder of sexual preference" - not a full-blown pathology that is harmful and needs to be cured, but unusual none the less. We knew it's unusual, but how does it arise? And how much can science tell us about our strangely ineffable desires, anyway? Isn't that a fruitless approach, and moreover, doesn't it threaten to take away the mystique we hold so dear?

Personally, I think scientific theories are interesting and have their place. Needless to say, they don't explain "everything". But they don't diminish the fascination of erotic CP for me, either. It's simply another angle of looking at it. Take another example: imagine that you're looking up at the stars in the night sky, and it fills you with awe. You could describe everything that is happening here in scientific terms: stars are huge masses of mostly hydrogen and helium, they produce visible light through nuclear fusion, the light hits your retina and causes impulses that are transmitted to your brain through the optic nerve, those result in certain neurochemical processes, and that is why you feel the way you feel.

I wouldn't say that this is a "wrong" description. It's certainly valid in its way and quite informative - but also very incomplete. Third-person science can never capture the human experience of what it's like to see the night sky and feel this tremendous wonder. That's not even the scientist's job, really. His task is to give us one very specific type of account that explains certain aspects of what is going on. But you can't simply "reduce" the phenomenon to a purely scientific description, because a lot of questions remain open - and usually they're the real interesting ones. Like, why does it feel like that to see the stars? And why should it feel like anything at all? How can we even bridge this mysterious gap between the physical world and our subjective mental states?

Before I get all philosophical, let's return to BDSM. It's really the same thing in regards to scientific theory. One popular approach focuses on endorphins. Your brain produces them when you experience pain, and it's somewhat similar to a marathon runner's "high" or the afterglow of orgasm. We even know that just looking at another human being in pain, or fantasizing about it, can have a similar effect - a sort of sympathetic response. So maybe that's part of the reason why we are "floating on clouds" after an exciting scene or why we enjoy watching spanking movies.

I think all of this is fabulously interesting stuff. But again, it's a very limited way of looking at erotic CP. Like the "nuclear fusion" description of the night sky, it only covers one particular aspect. To say that we spankos are "endorphin junkies" by another name would be a gross over-simplification. Not only because it fails to even approach the complexity of the experience, but also because a lot of important questions remain. If we all have largely the same brain structure and even the same reactions, why do only a select few of us ever get into erotic corporal punishment? Why not all? Is a spanko's brain just "wired" a little differently? Doesn't seem like a very satisfying answer to me.

I can't rule out that part of it is genetic, but I find it more promising to go beyond mere biology and into psychology. For most of us, the fascination starts at a very early age, even if we are never spanked at home. There could be other childhood experiences like just hearing about spankings or witnessing one, as I did. I will write about this another time. Still, it remains a mystery to me why I found it arousing when most others probably wouldn't have.

At the end of the day, we should simply acknowledge that we have the Mark of Cain and that we'll probably never fully understand why or how that is. What matters is that we make the best use of our gift. Klaus Mann gave a very good example, I think.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Psychic Girl Gets Spanked

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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Movie Review: Wild Party

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Super Tuesday Serenade

It's Super Tuesday in the US presidential election year, and you know what that means: no other date could be more appropriate for me to pay my respects to the Greatest American Woman who ever lived. So I wanted to use the opportunity, and indeed I feel very proud and privileged to call her a partner in thoughtcrime and a much loved, cherished friend: Niki Flynn.

My fellow spanking fetishists, there are many among you who have grown dear to me over the years in my exploration of the erotic CP world. Who made a difference in my life and inspired me to get where I am today. But if there is one person without whom this blog would not exist, it's Niki (so, if you don't like my stuff, you can send the complaint mails straight to her - it's no problem, she loves to be scolded).

I first heard about Niki in 2004, pretty much at the beginning of her modelling career, when she had just done her debut movie The Exchange Student with Lupus Pictures. Actually, before I saw that one, I noticed the West Meets East column on their website. My first thought was: "Wow, this is cool! A British girl working with Lupus! And she writes well, too." At the time, I was under the impression that Niki is English, in a classic confusion of character and actress. So that was my original introduction to Miss Flynn: a dark-haired, pretty, petite girl-next-door type with a big grin and a sleeveless manga t-shirt, who sounded like she had some very interesting things to say.

I've loved her work ever since. Of course, I never dreamed that I'd ever meet her or that we'd become friends. That was just an impossible concept, out of this world. Niki was a star, an unapproachable icon, while I was just another guy with a passion for erotic corporal punishment. She probably received a dozen mails from guys like that per day and put them straight into the trashcan. No reason to even blame her for that - I imagined that as a spanking model, for each message from a genuine affectionate fan, you get ten from heavy-breathing sex maniacs. Why would you even look at your mailbox anymore when you're famous, you're making movies all over the world and having all this kinky fun?

On the other hand, Niki din't seem all that remote - she posted on the British Spanking Forums and I always enjoyed her "Dances With Werewolves" wit and sense of humour. So one day two years ago, I just decided to send her a message saying that I like her work and wish her all the best. It was important for me to do that, just to say thanks, and I wasn't sure if she would find the time to respond - she was probably at Heathrow Airport right now after an evening as the main attraction at "Night of the Cane" and boarding a plane to Prague.

Imagine my joy when I did receive a reply, and a very nice one at that. Not only was it the end of my erroneous belief that Niki is British, but we've been penpals ever since. The next welcome shock came a few months later when she wrote: "I have a photoshoot in Germany, would you like to get together and hang out a bit?" Needless to say, I was enthusiastic to chat about anything she deemed worthwhile (no matter if it's BDSM stuff or Mickey Mouse comics) as long as it meant an opportunity to meet the Great Flynn. So I took a day off from studying and got on the train to Cologne. I didn't dare to expect anything more than talking a bit and having a good time, and that alone would have made me more than happy. But I do admit that I took along one of my favourite canes "just in case".

So we got together and had a great, albeit somewhat rainy day in Cologne. Niki was likeable and funny and full of wit, just as I expected her to be from her movies and mails. I set out to meet a star and found a good friend. We explored the tourist sights a bit, with me trying my best as a guide, and we chatted about all sorts of things - ourselves, mainstream movies, horror stories, music, politics, and believe it or not, erotic corporal punishment, too. I love people who can carry on an interesting conversation about pretty much everything, and Niki is just that.

As the evening approached, she brought up the swell idea of being spanked by me. The only thing she insisted on was: "If you're going to abuse me, it has to be in German." You see, Niki has this "A Fish Called Wanda" arousal thing with foreign languages. Needless to say, I felt supremely qualified. So the cane got to see some action, and I am pleased to report that Miss Flynn's pronunciation of all the German numbers from 1 to 30 is top-notch. I wonder where she picked that up - do Rammstein have a song about counting?

After that, it was my turn to do some basic mathematical additions, and wouldn't you know it - it's a side of Niki that you don't see too often in her mostly submissive work, but her dishing out technique is just as good, and she has a genuine, playfully sadistic streak to go along with it as well. Which reinforces my long held conviction that those who switch (and really know the instruments first-hand) are among the best tops. In fact, my only gripe is that I actually got it quite a bit harder than she had. Next time, I'll go first, and afterwards the little bitch will receive a full measure of revenge.

But I really can't complain at all. I mean, we are talking about Niki Flynn here. And she was the second woman I ever caned (plus the fifth one who caned me, if you must know). The second! That's like being a fumbling young actor, and all of a sudden, you find yourself doing a scene with Marlene Dietrich. No wonder that I found the experience intoxicating.

After dinner, two bottles of wine and more pleasant conversation, I went back to Munich the next morning. I was already toying with the idea of doing a website or blog of my own one day. Not just to brag about my famous exploits, mind you, but also (and more so) to give something back to my friends and to our community. What I found in Cologne is that, whether we play in private or for all the BDSM subculture to see, we are all real people who share the same passion. And that is a good thing to know and tell the world about.

So here is to a wonderful little fish called Niki, who is not only a great friend to have, but also an embodiment of the real American values - freedom, exploratory spirit, likeable personality and not letting anyone tell you how to run your life. Take that, Hillary Clinton!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Non-BDSM Guide to BDSM Terms

Alright, after the lengthy introductions, it is high time for a bit of fun. Needless to say, I am a fan of fun. Do you know what kind I like best? Apart from decorating a shapely female bottom with marks and welts, that is. What I really like is educational humour - you know, the kind where you acquire some interesting tidbit of knowledge in the process. After all, this blog is intended as a resource of learning and character development. Particularly for those readers with shapely female bottoms (the guys will benefit from it, too, though - I don't want to discriminate against anyone).

Speaking of bottoms, it was Pandora Blake who inspired me to do the following piece. In one of her recent blog entries, she had written about the importance of elucidating those who are not in the BDSM lifestyle on what we do and what our kink is all about:

"I do feel that because my sexual preferences are easily associated with misogynistic acts, I have a responsibility to make the distinction as clear as possible... I'd love to see more models - male and female - adding their voices and telling the world why they do what they do, and what they get out of it."

This is a noble undertaking. However, it can also be a very difficult one - not just because the fetish itself is strange and alien to outsiders, but also because of some very basic terminological barriers. Did you notice that BDSM people and vanilla people actually speak two totally seperate languages? It's true, and it happens whenever cultural groups with vastly different backgrounds and experiences try to communicate with each other.

Your background shapes the associations and expectations you have whenever you hear a specific term. For instance, when a mathematician hears the word "triangle", he will usually assume it to mean a basic shape of geometry ("polygon with three sides"), while an orchestra musician will probably think of the percussion instrument first. One word, several meanings. Ambiguities such as these could pose a severe hindrance whenever we spankos try to engage in discourse with the rest of the world.

To solve this crippling problem, I have started work on a "Non-BDSM Guide to BDSM Terms" - a sort of translation manual. It will examine a list of words and give the first association that the average vanilla person and the average kinky person is likely to have. As you can see, these associations are usually very different.

(Picture courtesy of Spanking Online)

Vanilla: An erotic practice that is all very well for the folks who like it...
Kinky: A broad generalization of limited value

V: The highest point of a building or mountain
K: A dominant person

V: Buttocks, rump, arse
K: A submissive person

V: A mechanical device to connect and disconnect a circuit
K: Someone who likes being both dominant and submissive

V: The Thirteenth Amendment. Or was it the Fourteenth?
K: see "pet"

V: Cats, dogs and goldfish
K: see "slave"

V: Submarine
K: Submissive

Ditto: Ice cream
K: Someone who is not in the BDSM lifestyle

V: To chew with vigorous working of the jaws
K: see "vanilla"

V: A French coffee brand
K: A female professional dominant

V: The opening hours of many shops and services these days
K: A BDSM relationship in which protocols are in place continuously

Topping from the bottom
V: A cooking technique
K: Doesn't really work

V: A device for propelling and steering a small boat
K: A device for punishing unruly submissives

V: A short staff to assist one in walking
K: see "paddle" (but even more fun)

V: Where you put troublesome football players
K: Where you put troublesome slaves

V: Are you religious?
K: see "bench"

V: Your dog wears one
K: Your slave wears one

V: A primitive form of religion
K: Neat clothes!

V: No, I never got into that nerdy Dungeons & Dragons stuff...
K: A room with BDSM equipment and play space

V: A part of a film or theatrical play
K: A time period of BDSM activities

V: When musicians gather for jamming or recording
K: see "scene"

V: Naked chicks
K: Well-thrashed naked chicks

V: Budgets. Poker. Speed limits.
K: What a BDSM person won't do or is hesitant to do

V: Politicians talk about it a lot but never reach it
K: Mutual agreement to the terms of a BDSM scene or relationship

Consensual non-consensuality
V: An oxymoron
K: A turn-on

V: A secret government agency?
K: Safe, sane and consensual

V: A form of regressive psychotherapy or some such shrink nonsense
K: Oh, daddy, no! Pleeease! Don't put me over your kneee...!

V: Something for children
K: Something for kinky adults

V: What Charlton Heston and the nutters at the NRA do
K: The practice of including actual (or simulated) firearms into a scene

V: Immature people
K: Parent/baby role playing

V: An industrial rock band from Florida
K: A BDSM practice

V: Computer Based Training
K: Cock and Ball Torture

V: A Japanese cartoon character
K: Human platters

V: The reason why I could never be a monk or priest
K: A form of erotic sexual denial or orgasm denial

V: Ancient Egypt
K: Wrapping your sub in plastic sheeting

V: A scientific term coined by Stephen Hawking
K: A "natural high" that a submissive gets during a scene

V: A metereological anomaly characterized by rapid cooling and violent snowstorms
K: A physical condition experienced by some submissives after an intense session

V: A woman from Greek legend. She had a box.
K: A well-known spanking model and blogger.

V: Thatte whyche prevents rogues and arrant knaves from burgling Ye Olde English Tea Shoppe
K: Fiona Locke, a writer of spanking fiction

I hope you will find this little guide useful. I came up with all of the entries myself, which is why most of them suck so much. Feel free to add your own if you like.