Thursday, May 29, 2008

Movie Review: School Days

Pain4Fem (released in 2007)

Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:
Schoolgirls throw paper balls, get punished

Victim Appeal:
The video stars Charlie (aka Zuzana P.), Sandra Sanchez and Angela, three Czech pornstars. Mind you, I don't watch many vanilla skin flicks, as most of them are just too formulaic and boring. But I do love the meticulous cyberdetective work of identifying girls. "See? She has a totally different look and hair colour, but the mole under the left breast gave her away!"

More often than not, hiring vanilla models to do kinky work yields rather underwhelming results. They tend to be pleasant as pure eye candy, but it's obvious that their heart isn't in it. Compared to some other examples I could name, though, the performances in "School Days" aren't all that bad. While the girls would certainly be useless in a werewolf-style production (both in terms of toughness and acting ability), they do a tolerable job as stereotypical naughty schoolgirls. There is some chemistry between the three of them, with a lot of cocky smirks and shrugging of the shoulders while confronting the authorities. They seem to be having fun acting out the prank scenes. Not too much fun during the spankings, but that's the point, isn't it?

Gratuitous Sadism:
The story follows the traditional ABAB composition: offense, punishment, offense, punishment... It opens with the girls alone in the classroom, causing a bit of mischief. I never got the appeal of throwing paper balls myself, but then again, I was one of those elitist nerds in high school (you can probably tell). Anyway, the teacher comes in and straps the pupils' hands a bit. Then they get caught using cheat slips during their exams, which earns them a trip to the headmaster's office and a hand spanking. The next scene is a back whipping with the martinet. I don't recall the offense for that one, maybe it wasn't given. Finally, after another paper ball battle (these brats never learn, do they?), the three young ladies get the cane.

The punishments are all pretty light. While the canings are fairly long (33 strokes for Charlie, 38 for Sandra, 32 for Angela), the strokes are tame. On the plus side, the sequences are all well-filmed, using a variety of angles. And the victims get some visible marks, simply because their bottoms aren't used to this kind of treatment.

Best Reactions:
The girls all react in a very similar way, so I'm hard-pressed to pick out one of them. Probably Sandra Sanchez. Her "Owww!" and "Aaaah!" moans are a tad better than those of the other two. Besides, she's blonde, and admittedly, I have a genetic predisposition towards that particular phenotype... (which reminds me, why haven't I reviewed anything with Amelia-Jane Rutherford yet?)

Best Line:
Hm. Well... Ah yes. "Please don't disturb me for the next 15 minutes." The headmaster, on the telephone while he gets ready to spank the girls.

Nice Psychological Touch:
They had a skeleton in the classroom. You know, for biology. One of the lasses is fooling around with it during the opening scene. I liked that. There is just something about a 20-year-old girl shaking the hand of a skeleton... Another kinky movie waiting to be made, about the finiteness of our earthly joy...

How Good Is It Really?
This is one of the lesser efforts by Pain4Fem, but made with their usual technical proficiency. If you like schoolgirl scenarios, eye candy and lighter spankings, it is definitely worth checking out.

What You Learned:
In addition to the cane, some schools use the whip.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Readers Have Spoken

...and most of them are cruel ungrateful bastards.

So this is what I get for toiling week in, week out to provide you with fascinating philosophical insights, witty movie reviews and in-depth interviews with famous models. The first chance you get to hand me over for a thrashing, you take it with both hands.

Very well, an understandable choice. As an unapologetic sadist, I would have done the exact same thing in your position. At least I seem to be writing for the right kind of audience! Thank you for the reassurance.

And truth be told, I probably deserve the verdict. I felt a tinge of bad conscience myself after my April Fools' Day joke and subsequent teasing of Niki Flynn. My "bonsai" remark, albeit made in jest, was insolent and over the top. I realize that, too, and I'm going to pay the price for my behaviour. Painful as it may be, it is the right thing to do.

Still, I couldn't just surrender without a fight. Especially not when the adversary is Niki, "an instigator and conniver" who will usually "make the situation out to be far more hurtful than it actually was" (her brother's words, not mine). So, instead of letting my cherished (and sadistic) friend decide the amount of revenge she felt entitled to, I insisted on a neutral arbiter. Who better than our blog readers? Whatever the outcome, they would be the ones passing the sentence, not Niki. I could live with that, at least she wouldn't get the full "judge and executioner" package - a bit too much responsibility for the American brat, don't you think?

As you know, we agreed on the following four options:
A - No punishment
B - 6 cane strokes on the jeans
C - 12 cane strokes on the bare
D - 30 severe cane strokes on the bare

The first two were just there for the sake of completeness (surprise of surprises, noboby voted for them). Obviously, it was going to be a race between C and D. I don't need to tell you what Niki's preferred outcome was. She may talk about "quality over quantity", but if she really didn't care about the number of strokes, why try to introduce a "cumulative option"? As for me, I was expecting D and hoping against hope that, maybe, I would get away with C. The 18 additional strokes were less frightening than the prospect of having to admit total, unmitigated defeat.

Predictably, my Your Vote Counts post attracted a lot of interest (as did Niki's companion piece on her blog). Discounting my own contributions, I got 39 comments from 24 different posters - a record that won't be surpassed anytime soon. More than half of them were first-time commenters, too. Speculate about the origins of the kinky mind, and you get a handful of polite replies. Set yourself up for a caning, and the jeering mob comes breaking down the doors. Well, I'm happy about so much attention, regardless of the motivation behind it! A thank you to everyone who took part.

In total, 24 votes were made. I have to declare 3 invalid for formal reasons, but that doesn't change the outcome. Here are the results:

3 invalid votes:
Anonymous (voted D, but didn't leave a name)
Leia-Ann Woods (didn't select an option)
michaeld (voted C, but on Niki's blog, not here)

7 votes for option C:

Pandora Blake

14 votes for option D:
Adele Haze
Amy Hunter
Emma Bishop
Lucy McLean

Therefore, the majority verdict is: "It was a serious insult to Niki. As well as that, Ludwig deliberately fooled all of us with his Kinky Siberian Holiday story. Give him 30 cane strokes on the bare, and make them hard!"

Can't say I'm thrilled with your decision, but I respect it. To be honest, it's along the lines of what I would have given out as a top for a similar offense. While the "bonsai" remark in itself isn't all that bad, the circumstance that it was made in public, in front of others, does warrant a severe thrashing. That would have been the deciding factor for me.

In light of this, it is only fair that Niki should get to execute her retribution in public, too. Besides, I don't switch often, so if I'm going to do it, I might as well have something to show for it. That is why you will see a video of the event. I didn't mention it before because I felt it would bias the vote even more in Niki's favour. But it was always the plan. The video will be available as a free download. See how good I am to my readers, and how you treat me in return (can you even sleep at night?).

As for me, I feel strange. I always expected The Dreaded D to win. If anything, I was surprised by the high number of C votes in the first few days. For a while, I actually believed that I might get off lightly after all. But it was a false hope. The worst case scenario became a virtual certainty on Friday. So I can't say that I am not prepared. Still, now that the result is final and the punishment truly inevitable, I feel a quality of nervousness that wasn't there before. What used to be abstract is now immediate and palpable, and all the worse for it.

I can't decide what the most painful part is. The caning itself - I've had severe ones before, but 30 strokes never fail to get one's attention. The knowledge that Niki will gleefully follow the "make them hard" instruction - she can dish out werewolf-style, I've tried a sample, and this occasion will be much more serious. The admission of utter defeat - I lost this one all the way, there is no sugarcoating that. The taunting comments - I thought that letting the readers (not Niki) speak the verdict would lessen my embarassment, but now it has only increased.

It's true, schadenfreude is a German word, and the worst of it is yet to come: Miss Flynn chastising me with everyone here watching. Again, I knew this was coming, but now that it's official, 30 strokes on the bare, in front of the virtual audience, seem like a rather humbling prospect.

Anyway, too late to get cold feet now. At least there won't be any half-measures. Niki gets her full wish (my congratulations for that), and I get my full comeuppance. It will be memorable for sure. Afterwards, when it's all over, I will look back on it as an exciting and valuable experience.

Looking forward to it, though, that's the awkward part. You know, like when you've just cracked a joke at someone's expense, and their stony silence suddenly makes you realize that they don't think it was funny at all.

Yes, that's the kind of awkwardness I mean. **gulp**

Friday, May 23, 2008

Book Review: Venus in Furs

Time for another novelty on this blog, a book review. I wanted a classic for the first one, and my choice of author came down to the Marquis de Sade or Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. For a sadist like me, the natural choice would have been to start with the Marquis. So I decided to review Sacher-Masoch first - I can't just do the obvious, can I?

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-1895) was an Austrian writer from Galicia, then part of the Habsburg Empire. Most of his literary output consists of folkloristic novellas in the Slavic tradition, and he was quite successful with those during his lifetime. Of course, his most famous work today is "Venus in Furs": a story about a man so infatuated with a woman that he becomes her slave and begs to be abused by her in increasingly cruel ways. Since its release in 1870, it has been reviewed a thousand times. I don't presume to add anything in terms of literary criticism - there is a lot of great material already out there.

But let me give you a summary of the plot for those who really haven't heard it before: it opens with a framing story about a man who dreams of discussing love with Venus. The goddess is wearing fur - ostensibly to protect her from the earthly cold, but more importantly, as a symbol of female power and cruelty (that fetish pervades the entire book, of course).

The unnamed narrator mentions the strange dream to a friend, who gives him a manuscript titled "Memoirs of a Supersensual Man". It tells the story of how the friend, Severin, once met a young and rich widow named Wanda von Dunajew. He was in his twenties at the time and had always had a fascination with despotic women. He falls in love with Wanda, who reminds him of a Greek Venus statue, another childhood obsession. But when Severin asks to marry her, she hesitates and suggests a one-year probation period instead. In time, Severin begins to tell Wanda of his "strange part", as he calls it, his fantasies of being whipped, tormented and eventually betrayed (the ultimate humilation) by a woman he worships.

Wanda is liberal and hedonistic, but not a despot herself, so she is neither shocked nor attracted by the kinky ideas. She wonders if she really loves Severin enough to marry him, anyway. When he realizes this, Severin offers to become her slave instead, to suffer whatever she does to him if only she doesn't drive him away. After some reluctance, Wanda agrees, because "it would be rather entertaining to have a man, who interests me and loves me, completely in my power."

They sign a "slave contract" and travel to Italy, where Severin poses as Wanda's butler, taking the generic Russian servant's name Gregor. Wanda gets progressively inventive in torturing and degrading him, but while Severin's deepest fantasies come to life, all is not well. He is unable to deal with Wanda's numerous admirers and grows especially jealous as she begins to fall in love with a stereotypical masculine Greek war hero, a man who awakens her own desire for submission.

I'm not giving anything away by telling you that the relationship ends badly, very badly - Severin says as much at the beginning of his story. Wanda ends up betraying him in a wickedly humiliating way, which serves as a reminder of the old adage: be careful what you wish for, it could come true. Severin is cured of his submissive "strangeness" and becomes a tyrant himself, returning to his family estate and torturing his servant maids. He believes that true equality between man and woman is impossible. A man has only one choice: "To be the tyrant over or the slave of woman. As soon as he gives in, his neck is under the yoke, and the lash will soon fall upon him." Severin, on his part, has found that it is better to be "hammer" than "anvil".

A rather sobering end, the kind you often find in Sacher-Masoch's stories. Disappointment seems to have been a constant factor in his life. The reasons for this are complex, but lack of kinky play is certainly not among them: actually, his exploits are legendary. It goes without saying that the author was himself "afflicted" by the fantasies he describes so vividly and acted them out quite a lot.

Sacher-Masoch loved to be tied up, degraded and punished by voluptuous ladies dressed in furs. He submitted himself to intense physical pain, dressed up as a domestic servant, played a hunted animal, always sought out new roles. He signed slave contracts, too - actually, my edition of "Venus in Furs" includes two of Sacher-Masoch's real contracts which make for interesting reading in their own right.

Still, he resented having the psychological kink "masochism" named after himself. Presumably because, as a generalization, it put him into a group with various people and fetishes he didn't have a lot in common with. As well as that, Sacher-Masoch feared that the medical term would become more famous than his own literary work. Which it did, of course. Today, the average vanilla person can give you a (more or less accurate) description of what a masochist is, but they stare at you blankly when you mention the name of this obscure Austrian writer. In this regard, history was kinder to the more glamorous Marquis de Sade.

A pity, because "Venus in Furs" is one magnificent book. Personally, I think it is required reading for every kinky person, enough said. Those of you interested in the philosophical and psychological framework should also look into Gilles Deleuze's landmark essay "Coldness and Cruelty" about Sacher-Masoch. I don't agree with all of his insights, but they are never less than thought-provoking.

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

I can't add anything as highbrow and structured as that. Actually, I could probably give it a good try, but I'm too lazy right now. Let me close with some disjointed personal thoughts about the book instead, random things that got my attention:

1. "Venus in Furs" was supposed to be the first part in a cycle of novellas called "The Legacy of Cain". When I named my little treatise on the kinky disposition The Mark of Cain, I had no idea about this. Sacher-Masoch uses the figure of Cain in a somewhat different way, of course, but it's still an interesting coincidence.

2. Another intriguing oddity I just discovered: at one point in his life, Sacher-Masoch corresponded with an enthusastic admirer of his work who wrote letters under the pseudonym "Anatol". The fan was never conclusively identified, but Sacher-Masoch believed (and cited some evidence for the theory) that it was King Ludwig II. of Bavaria. I have my doubts about this, but the anecdote certainly made me smile. I hadn't heard that one when I named my alter ego.

3. If you read "Venus in Furs", don't expect in-your-face naugtiness. It is a far cry from de Sade's "porn". One critic remarked that "no other author has ever gone so far with so much decency". There is no description of sexuality, hardly any nudity, and even the kinky action scenes are rather bland: "She struck me with the whip", that sort of thing. Sacher-Masoch has a beautiful sensual writing style, but he focuses on the appearance of his characters, their demeanor and clothes, on certain locations, and most importantly, on the inner turmoil and conflicting emotions of his protagonist.

4. Sacher-Masoch's fantasies are about the abstract, the sublime, rather than the carnal. The physical interaction is just a means to an end while the real excitement comes from the relationship between mistress and slave, the act of worship and submission. Severin says: " I want to adore a woman, and this I can only do when she is cruel towards me." Note that this adoration is the real goal, receiving cruelty is the path.

5. By "supersensual", Sacher-Masoch literally means "above the senses", above the flesh. He is interested in the psychology, not the pain. Of course, as kinky people we all know what really matters, but it's stillimpressive to see how Sacher-Masoch almost eliminates the "crude" physical realm completely. His kinky scenes have an air of almost religious purity and restraint, and yet, the final catastrophe that befalls Severin is harrowing indeed.

6. Severin has two female ideals, the loving wife and the cruel mistress. It seems as if he actually prefers the first one when he says: "If I cannot obtain the one that is noble and simple, the woman who will faithfully and truly share my life, well then I don't want anything half-way or lukewarm. Then I would rather be subject to a woman without virtue, fidelity, or pity. Such a woman in her magnificent selfishness is likewise an ideal." Is the loving wife really "first choice", or is this an act by Severin who secretly wants to be a slave all along? Wanda suspects as much. Interesting question.

7. "Venus in Furs" may be the earliest recorded example of something we all know: you can't shape a vanilla person into a good spanking top. Severin tries this with Wanda, and of course, she's not into it at all. Actually, she commits the ultimate cardinal sin: after the first whiplash, she timidly asks "Did I hurt you?" Many times, Wanda states that she would prefer to "be reasonable " and lead a normal relationship. After a while, she claims that Severin has woken up hidden cruel passions in her, which she was previously unaware of. She becomes a credible and rather inventive mistress. But in the end, we (and Severin) find out that it was all an act. Wanda just went along to fulfill his fantasies, and when she leaves him, she inflicts the final brutal act of humiliation merely to cure his "insane passion".

8. Actually, there is not one true sadist in the book. Wanda is decidedly vanilla - being a mistress is an amusing pastime for a while, but she doesn't really get anything out of it. As for Severin, he becomes a "top" who whips his maids - but his kind of "sadism" has nothing in common with that of the Marquis. Gilles Deleuze argues that de Sade and Sacher-Masoch are not complementary opposites - instead, they stand for radically different universes, alien to each other. Sadism and masochism are about the mindset, not about which side of the whip you are on - you can be a sadistic bottom or a masochistic top. Actually, I've been toying with a similar theory myself for some time.

9. Some people (the usual zealots who don't get the point) have accused Sacher-Masoch of being misogynist. Indeed, quotes can be found about women being "cruel by nature", "subject to their whims and passions" (as opposed to rational men), and so on. However, these lines are spoken not by Sacher-Masoch, but by his protagonists, who stand for a "Christian", "Northern", "love is duty" worldview. He contrasts it with the "pagan", "Mediterranean", "love is passion" worldview symbolized by Venus. The goddess says: ""We [women] are faithful as long as we love, but you demand faithfulness of a woman without love, and the giving of herself without enjoyment. Who is cruel there - woman or man?"

10. Actually, Sacher-Masoch was a supporter of women's education and suffrage. He wrote several progressive magazine articles about the subject. His alter ego, Severin, believes that woman and man can be companions under certain circumstances - but not in his own lifetime. Here is what he says at the end of "Venus in Furs": "Woman, as nature has created her and as man is at present educating her, is his enemy. She can only be his slave or his despot, but never his companion. This she can become only when she has the same rights as he, and is his equal in education and work."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Your Vote Counts

(Edit: If you want your vote to actually count, please select one of the four legal options given below: A, B, C or D. Niki in her usual mischief is trying to derail the orderly process, but I will not tolerate anarchist infiltration on my blog! Votes for non-existing options, and anonymous votes, are invalid.)
This week, dear readers, we have another first in the history of this blog. You get to cast your vote. Not in some cute little opinion poll that we have seen a thousand times before, like: "What is your favourite spanking implement?" But on a matter that will seriously affect someone's life. My life, to be precise.

As usual, the one getting me into all this trouble is Niki Flynn, my favourite American brat. Actually, the story begins with some very good news: Niki and I will get together again this summer. We've been planning it for some time and are both looking forward to what will certainly be a memorable week. Knowing her, I don't expect the days to go by without the occasional cheeky outburst. If it gets out of hand, I'll just have to deal with it the old-fashioned way, won't I? Naturally, you will read all the juicy details here. So much for what we originally had in mind.

But now, Niki seems determined to unleash her own sadistic side on me. She has that, too, in case you didn't know, and it can be quite vicious when woken up. Well, it's running wild at the moment and her sights are set on me. Niki claims that her motives are just. Personally, I think it's a cheap ploy to reverse the natural order of things and get some revenge for the rightful punishments which she is liable to receive. But I will let you judge the details for yourself.

(Niki doing her best "Werewolf from the East" impression, courtesy of RGE Films)

Last month, as you probably remember, I played a little April Fools' Day prank on you. I claimed that I was leaving for a Kinky Siberian Holiday, visiting a "therapeutic caning institute" in Novosibirsk, among other things. Of course, the whole story was bogus. My reasons for writing it were rather simple, really:

1. As you may have noticed, I do a new post every four days. Regular intervals, like a Bavarian cuckoo clock. When I saw that the next one would be due on April 1st, I thought to myself: hm, why not use the opportunity?

2. I didn't have anything else ready at the time. I had a lot of half-finished pieces, as always, but I wanted to do some more work and save them for later. On the other hand, writing a short little April Fools' Day joke wouldn't take a lot of time.

So I went through with the idea, knowing full well that given the sadistic perverted nature of most of my readers, I could conceivably get in a lot of trouble. But life isn't fun if you never take a risk, right? Besides, I was convinced that no one would take the story seriously, anyway. Going to Siberia for kinky play? Give me a break!

Honestly, no one was more surprised than me when many of you seemed to take my fictional travel plans at face value. At first, I thought you were just being nice and playing along. But apparently, there is nothing far-fetched about the idea of Ludwig journeying to Novosibirsk for a spanking. I am considered just about insane enough to do that. It fills me with a strange sense of pride. And I must confess that I felt greatly amused, having successfully fooled my readers in this matter. It was certainly unexpected, and all the more fun because of it!

I read your increasingly puzzled comments with polite mirth before revealing, the next day, that it had all been a joke. Niki, who had already announced that I would be "in soooo much trouble" if this turned out to be fake, was the first to respond: "I've made a note, mein Herr. You're for it." I'm afraid that I was still in a rather carefree mood after my little jest, so I added insult to injury and wrote:

"Niki and her devices. Uh oh. And it looks like she's mad at me. Little Niki. All 50 kilograms of her. Boy, am I in trouble now... *snorts with suppressed laughter* A woman built like a tree! They called her 'Bonsai'!"

It was all good fun among pals, and Niki knows this, of course. But being her usual mischievous self, she now pretends to be sulking and insists that, humorous or not, I won't get away with my condescending comment that easily. While Niki doesn't mind being chastised and abused, the one thing she cannot stand is when someone belittles her skills. She has decided to view my innocuous teasing as such an occasion. Even among friends, she says, that kind of jibe deserves serious retribution.

Molehills and mountains? I think my mistake was that I spoke in public, so you other readers could egg her on: "Hey Niki, are you going to take that last comment lying down? I think you need to show big bad Ludwig what you're made of." Why, thank you! Now it's a matter of personal pride for her.

As for me, I deny any malevolent intentions. Honestly, folks, the April Fools' Day story was meant to be a harmless gag. I didn't even expect anyone to fall for it. Yeah, maybe my "bonsai" remark to Niki was a bit out of line, but we're pals, aren't we? Can't people take a joke anymore?

Admittedly, our actions can have unintended hurtful consequences. As spankos, we know that they deserve the same strict punishment as conscious wrongdoing. I accept that and I'm not the kind of man who shies away from deserved correction. True, I'm the top most of the time and I don't switch often, only under unusual circumstances. But I willingly submit to a thrashing when one is really in order. It's the responsible thing to do, and as a dominant type, I must apply the same strict standards to myself that I expect from others.

So the question is: does this particular incident warrant corporal punishment? Niki thinks so, of course, but I'm reluctant to agree. Not so much because of the painful prospect, but because I simply don't believe it is called for. I still suspect that she is exaggerating her indignation to take a free shot at me. We are at a deadlock and no one wants to back down. No surprise there - we share many traits, stubbornness being one of them.

Therefore, we leave it to you to decide what should happen, and we are counting on your unbiased judgment. You have heard the whole story and know enough about both of us to make an informed decision: mercy, a severe thrashing, or something in between.

In open discussion, there would never be a final outcome, so we have narrowed the choice down to four possible options. Three of them involve the cane. It is Niki's favourite instrument (giving and receiving!), so in case of a guilty verdict, it would obviously have to be used:

A - "Niki, it was all in good, harmless fun. No punishment is needed. Forgive and forget!"

B - "Let the punk get away with a warning. Six cane strokes, on the jeans."

C - "Joking or not, it was cheeky behaviour and deserves a proper response. Twelve cane strokes, on the bare."

D - "It was a serious insult to Niki. As well as that, Ludwig deliberately fooled all of us with his Kinky Siberian Holiday story. Give him 30 cane strokes on the bare, and make them hard!"

You can cast your vote, with the appropriate letter, in the comments section. The poll closes at the end of the week. Anonymous votes don't count, please leave a name.

When Niki and I meet in the summer, we will follow the course that you recommend. It will be fair this way, with our mutual friends choosing the outcome. We can both live with that, and we are grateful for your help.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Movie Review: Prison Canings

Miss Marchmont (released in 2002) (the DVD can be purchased here)

Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:
Prisoners get thrashed because of new corporal punishment law

Victim Appeal:
Writing my recent Bars and Stripes review, I was reminded of this little gem. It is a fabulous video and has a place on my list of Kinky Island Discs. Much of my fondness comes from the interesting cast, three kinky British ladies by the names of Candy Pierce, Emma Carrington and Kate Mc Croy. This is the only film I've seen any of them star in, but it's readily obvious that they are all brave girls with a passion for severe chastisement. Emma Carrington wrote the script herself, and if what I read years ago on the British Spanking Community is correct, one of the victims complained afterwards that the thrashing she received wasn't quite hard enough. That's the spirit!

In any case, the three spankees seem to have put much heart and soul into the production, and it shows. The final result feels like someone's intimate fantasy come to life, a far cry from the assembly line CP action we get from some other companies. The victims' demeanor (I hesitate to say "acting") is natural and unforced. They all look genuinly nervous, scared and subtly excited. The chemistry between tops and bottoms is sublime, with a lot of erotic tension and intense anticipation in the air. As well as that, the girls have a pleasant delinquent-next-door look that fits the setting and is quite beautiful to me, in a quirky sort of way.

Gratuitous Sadism:
Here is the story: in an effort to curb crime, the government introduces a controversial policy. Each convicted criminal is caned immediately upon arrival in prison, and any misbehaviour there also results in corporal punishment. Pierce and Carrington play two new inmates who get the new welcome procedure. In seperate scenes, they are made to strip out of their street clothes, get a fully body search and don their prison uniforms. After that, the girls are tied over a stool and caned on the bare. For the final scene, Mc Croy takes the role of a veteran inmate who is birched for molesting other prisoners.

The action is the real deal and not for the squeamish. The three segments are not overly long, but crisp and effective - a welcome illustration of the fact that CP scenes don't need to show 50 or 100 strokes to venture into seriously severe territory. Quality always surpasses quantity, and a properly applied classic "six of the best" can delight the most fastidious sadist. The two canings here are a prime example: Pierce takes 14 strokes and Carrington 11. Not extravagant amounts, but every single one is unabatedly vicious and given with masterful accuracy. Each girl receives a wonderfully sexy, evenly spread set of stripes, on the verge of drawing blood. Focused and intense, one of my favourite scenario types.

The two doms do a magnificent job and revel in their duties with obvious sadistic glee. While one thrashes the victims with enviable skill, the other ogles their reactions, often squatting in front of the girl, grabbing her hair and holding her head up to savour every grimace and yelp. There is a lot of cruel banter between the prison guards: "Make her jump, I want to see that twist!", "Is she feeling these now?", "I knew she would sing!", "Watch her suffer!" and many similar lines. It's all rather mean and in-your-face, but naturally dominant and not without a sense of subtlety. I certainly found it entertaining.

Best Reactions:
Emma Carrington takes the prize. Not only is she a pretty blonde with gorgeous pleading eyes, she also shows the most satisfying reactions to the punishment: vocal, agitated and thoroughly contrite by the end of it. No surprise that the guards seem very pleased with their work, as one of them even adds a hint of tenderness to his stern routine - taking the girl's face into both of his large hands and stroking her cheek for a moment.

Best Line:
At the end of Candy Pierce's segment, when she has clearly reached the end of her tether, the caner casually asks: "One more for luck?" His buddy replies: "One more for me!"

Nice Psychological Touch:
The second new inmate, played by Carrington, tries to bribe one of the guards. She gives him a (simulated) blowjob in the hope of avoiding the cane. Needless to say, it doesn't work and she ends up getting beaten even harder: "You want to be a slut, you'll be treated like a slut!" As an extra touch, the guards stuff her panties into her mouth as an impromptu gag (she spits it out after a few strokes). Guard number two, who naturally played along with the "bribe attempt", jovially reminds the girl of her foolishness: "I promised. I lied!"

Carrington wrote the script and apparently found it exciting to take on the most "sluttish" role among the three. Catharsis or just tongue-in-cheek fun? Probably the latter, but an interesting little question.

How Good Is It Really?
Miss Marchmont always had fairly high standards, and this is one of their best titles. True, it is a straightforward "women in prison" scenario without any novelty value, but competently filmed and acted. There is a palpable ambition for authenticity and procedure that gives the movie an almost documentary feel. The CP action is pleasantly realistic and severe, too.

What elevates "Prison Canings" to the status of an excellent film, rather than a merely good and interesting one, is the chemistry: all players seem completely absorbed in their roles and I think it is safe to say that everyone involved had a jolly good time. On the surface, the prison setting and no-nonsense plot make for a nicely dark and brooding experience - especially as the girls appear genuinly and understandably nervous through most of it. But underneath, one can sense much edgy fun and excitement. It's very watchable and, as I wrote in the beginning, feels like intimate fantasy come to life - one of those spanking movies where the final result is probably very close to the original vision.

What You Learned:
I hadn't seen "Prison Canings" in years. Digging it up again for the review, I was reminded, once again, that the demise of Miss Marchmont is a very sad loss for the spanking community. Our world became a less interesting place when this talented and all too short-lived team disbanded, and you couldn't say that about every producer.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Three Strike Policy

Do you know this joke? Obviously you don't, it is my own creation. But maybe you have heard the "public domain" original which I modified to make it kinkier:

Victorian England. An eligible young lady of good standing is married to an arrogant baron. As usual in those times, it is an arranged relationship, and the two of them don't know each other all that well. Just after the wedding ceremony, the baron takes his bride to his estate. On horseback, of course.

The two of them are riding on one horse, you see, and the animal isn't used to that. Whether it is because of the increased weight or simply because of the unfamiliar situation, the horse suddenly makes a false step, shaking the baron and his wife. Annoyed, the baron loudly calls out: "ONE!" The bride is a bit puzzled by this, but doesn't think to ask what the exclamation is about. Later on, as they ride along a forest path, their mount stumbles again. Clearly irritated, the baron shouts: "TWO!" Again, the girl doesn't dare to speak up and wonder what it is about, with her husband in such a huffy mood.

They reach the estate, but just inside the gate, the horse makes yet another false step, eliciting an angry yell of "THREE!" from the baron. He asks his bride to get off the horse and, after she complies, begins to viciously flog the luckless animal with his whip. Again and again, the baron brings his arm down with unabated fervour while the horse is rearing and whinnying in pain.

Needless to say, the girl is horrified by this display of brutality. She screams at her husband, pleading: "Goodness gracious! Please, stop hurting the poor horse! Can't you see it is suffering!" The baron stops, glares at her and slowly says: "One!"

I know, it's a groaner. Not exactly laugh out loud hilarious, but the original version managed to get a mild chuckle from me. Hey, that one was even worse, about a cowboy who ends up shooting his horse! The scenario is not even in my ballpark, because if there is one thing I cannot stand, it is cruelty against animals. I'm a kinky sadist who gets off on abusing defiant cheeky lasses, not a sociopath! Yes, there is a difference between the two... But hey, as for the animal abuse, it's just a lame joke, anyway.

Unfortunately, I don't really know any spanking-themed jokes. You can see that, can't you? If I had a better one in my repertoire, I would have used it! I'm hard-pressed to think of anything that I could misconstrue as kinky. If you have an idea, you can leave a note here.

Speaking of which: I recently changed the preferences of the blog. Silly me, I only noticed a few days ago that only readers with Google accounts were able to leave comments. I had never tampered with the settings before, and I always assumed that the default is "open for all". But apparently, it was more restrictive than that. So, just in case you wanted to write something before but couldn't because you did not want to bother with the registration: from now on, with the new settings, anyone can comment.

Another movie review is coming up on Thursday, and on the Monday after that, I have a special treat in store for you. You'll probably want to get involved in that, so watch this space.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Long Live the New Flesh!

Last Saturday, I met Tom of Punished Butts and "terror bunny" Pinkie Pain. They were visiting Munich for a day and, happily, we found time for coffee and a chat. Be sure to take a look at their websites - both are wonderful kinky people and have a lot of fine imagery to offer. And they're film buffs, too, so naturally, that was one subject of our conversation. As usual, Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch came up, two directors everyone seems to like (everyone with a shred of good taste, that is).

One name I didn't mention on Saturday, but could have: David Cronenberg. I just watched some of his work again, and no matter how often I see it, I'm blown away. Certainly one of my favourite filmmakers and another guy I'd love to have coffee with. For me, Cronenberg is the undisputed "king of horror" of the past 30 years. Of course, he is much more than a genre director. His horror is not the easy, superficial scare of the slasher, but the intellectual kind, the dark, frightening abyss of the human mind. In one way or another, most of Cronenberg's films deal with sexuality, body modification, violence and control. How our primordial impulses are barely kept in check by the bounds of civilization. How mind and matter interact. How quickly the tenuous border between sanity and madness can be crossed (and how do we tell the difference, anyway?). How technology can change our perception of reality and, therefore, our reality itself.

In light of the subject matter, it goes without saying that kinky themes can be found here, there and everywhere in Cronenberg's movies: Shivers (1975) offers an interesting variation on the zombie film, where the residents of a high-rise apartment complex are infected by parasites that turn them into sex-crazed maniacs. Rabid (1977) features porn star Marilyn Chambers in a surprisingly well-acted performance as Rose, a girl who undergoes experimental plastic surgery and, as a result, develops a taste for human blood. After his divorce, Cronenberg made The Brood (1979), a film about murderous mutant children and a man strangling his institutionalized wife.

The Fly (1986) is a hilarious (and pleasantly disgusting) remake of the cheesy 1950's mad scientist movie (Cronenberg has a brief cameo as a gynecologist). In Dead Ringers (1988), Jeremy Irons plays identical twins who are both doctors (gynecologists, of course) and share everything in their lives, including women (easy when you look the same!) and insanity. Crash (1996) deals with car wrecks, the beauty of injury and lots of sex, in an artistically successful manner and to the outrage of moral guardians everywhere.

The list goes on and on... It's hard to pick a favourite, but if I had to, I would probably select Videodrome (1983). It stars James Woods as Max Renn, a "sleaze and violence" TV programmer who starts hallucinating and losing grip on his life after he discovers "Videodrome", an underground torture and murder broadcast. His girlfriend Niki... err, Nicki Brand (played by Deborah "Blondie" Harry) has a knack for masochism and goes off to audition for the show. But as if that wasn't good enough, one character I can really identify with is Professor Brian O'Blivion (sic!), a futurist scholar who only appears on screen because "the monologue is his preferred mode of discourse". He rambles on about TV as "the retina of the mind's eye" and how it will create new human organs in the brain. Wonderful stuff.

As for Max Renn, he realizes much too late that the makers of "Videodrome" are even more sinister than the "torture show" exterior would suggest. But by this point, he can't be sure what is real and what is video hallucination. The same insecurity applies to the viewer, and therein lies much of the appeal. In summary, we have a film that is delightfully ambiguous and paranoid, covers a philosophically interesting subject (perception, reality), has a healthy dose of dark humour, a moody brooding soundtrack and some very disturbing scary scenes. Required watching.

Those of you who still remain unconvinced that "Videodrome" is worth a rental can take a look at the following trailer. It contains some glimpses of the underground TV signal. According to a Cronenberg interview, one of the actresses got really into the whipping... And is it just me, or did Hostel copy the apron outfits of the torturers? Later on, there is an SM-themed scene with Max and his girlfriend, followed by one of his hallucinations. Flogging a TV set - if that's not kinky perverted stuff, then I don't know what is.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Website Review: Bars and Stripes

Among spanking / CP paysites, Bars and Stripes is the ultimate "women in prison" resource. But regardless of what your favourite setting might be, it is well worth checking out for its impressive cast of models, large amount of content, good technical craftsmanship and a strong sense of individuality that sets it apart from most competitors. For those knowledgeable about the kink scene, the aforementioned virtues do not come as a surprise - after all, the site is the brainchild of Michael Stamp and Leia-Ann Woods (read my interview with her if you haven't already).

The unique character of "Bars and Stripes" is readily apparent in the terminology and the layout. Members are welcomed as "governors". The video and picture archives are divided into sections like "Cell Block", "Intake Office" and "PT Room". There is also a latest news section, a "prison diary" kept by Mrs. Woods and a suggestion box for members (excuse me, governors). Overall, there is a greater feeling of interaction between the production team and the audience than on most other paysites, which is refreshing to see. The prison theme is elaborated on with many different facets and a charming love for detail and procedure.

The list of inmates reads like a who is who of English (or better, English-speaking) CP performers. In addition to Leia-Ann, there are famous names like Adele Haze, Amelia-Jane Rutherford, Amy Hunter, Niki Flynn and Pandora Blake. For me, the many familiar faces are one of the main attractions. It's just more exciting to watch a scene when you know a bit about the model from her blog, when you have some idea of her personality and favourite fantasies. "Bars and Stripes" do their best to enhance this aura of intimacy. Each inmate has her own profile page with mugshots and information about her in-character background, her crime and sentence. It all adds up to a rather nice women in prison soap opera with a sense of immersion and continuity, starring fleshed-out individuals instead of nondescript bottoms.

There are some 80 scenes in the archives at the time of this writing, each one divided into several video segments - usually around four or five, but sometimes up to eight. The average scene is 15 to 20 minutes long, so you have hours of material to watch, with new clips added regularly. "Bars and Stripes" can easily hold its own against other "high content" sites. My only gripe is that there are no full video files to download, but this is a minor complaint - nothing that a freeware joiner program can't fix. All clips are in .wmv format and the resolution varies - sometimes 352 x 288 pixels, sometimes 720 x 576. The camerawork and editing are solid and professional, with the CP action captured from different angles (separate "face reaction" clips are available for some sessions). In addition to the videos, there are picture galleries for most of the scenes.

"Bars and Stripes" sessions tend to be longer than what you find on other paysites. Some are spanking movies in their own right - like "Jailbirds", which features three girls and runs for over half an hour. The time is well used: most scenes have a fair amount of exposition and buildup to the actual punishment. With the often snappy dialogue between tops and bottoms, these opening shots add nicely to the intensity - of course, "Bars and Stripes" aren't the only ones who do this, but they do it very successfully and with good dramatic effect. You get the impression that most of the players know each other and feed on each other pretty well.

Obviously, all scenes take place in the context of the prison, but there is quite a wide variety of themes and scenarios: prisoner intakes, inspections, a cavity search, bitch slap catfights between inmates, solitary confinement, visits to the "Punishment Room" and so on. About a dozen different locations, some outdoors. Both M/F and F/F action, with many sessions featuring several tops and / or bottoms. Infractions are avenged by hand, flogger, strap, crop or cane - the whole array. Some punishments are over the knickers, some on the bare, some fully nude. Positions range from the classical OTK or bent over a table to restraining devices such as the one found in the "Punishment Room".

There are quite a few hand spankings and most implements are used in the light to moderate fashion. Severity freaks might be a bit disappointed with "Bars and Stripes", but that is not the point of the site, which has a lot of other strengths. Besides, some of the canings with Leia-Ann are quite vicious and her reactions are always wonderful to watch. And there are enough other "proper thrashings" to keep sadists entertained. The prison setting offers plenty of oppressive dread without venturing into the territory that some continental European producers visit.

Overall, an excellent site and highly recommended. It remains to be seen how "Bars and Stripes" cope with the recent loss of their main star and co-founder Leia-Ann Woods. Can they do what Pink Floyd did after Syd Barrett? I like that comparison... Anyway, it goes without saying that Leia will be sadly missed. But given its creative strength in depth and its cast of other fabulous performers, I see no reason why the site shouldn't continue to put out high quality work for a long time to come.