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 Moreover, you should check out her personal website and her blog Leia-Ann Woods Diary [edit: has since been replaced by Leia's New Musings].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!


Anonymous said...

I used to have "The Way of a Man with a Maid", but I've sadly lost it. I *loved* that one. But I do have "Military PT". It's one of my all-time favourite CP films.

Virtuosity and turning... Torque and angular momentum... I can't help picturing you in a lab coat and glasses trying to explain all this to your geeky female research assistant - the hard way. **waves hand madly to volunteer for the job**

Thanks for a fantastic interview, Leia!


That was a "kick ass" interview. It was refreshing to see the questions getting away from thew standard formula, a thing I've only seen Padme Amedala (journey to the dark side) do before in a blog interview.

The last question - That scenario would be well worth watching!


Karl Friedrich Gauss said...

Talk about "in-depth"! Not many interviews like that around the web. Great work, Ludwig, and thanks for being so forthcoming, Leia!

Leia-Ann Woods said...

Hi glad you liked it....and thank you Ludwig for honouring me with an interview with you....I really enjoyed the different style of questioning.

Dave said...

Your interview questions certainly go beyond the standard cliche questions, such as the ones I typically ask! very impressive article :-)


Anonymous said...

A very inciteful and intelligent interview. Thanks Leia

Anonymous said...

Leia Great interview. I just love the prison scenarios. Let's see if we can get the Interrogation scene inacted for real after the Summer


Anonymous said...

Daily Mail done sold you out