Friday, March 27, 2009

Farewell to Josephine

So here it is, the final post in the Josephine saga. It covers not only the ending, but also, and more so, the beginning of our story together - as recently promised in Whatever Happened to the Cyclist Girl?, I will give you the full historical account and a prequel of sorts to The Perils of Josephine which I have shared with you on this blog. It will be a proper farewell now that our play relationship has ended and the two of us have moved on in different directions. Putting it in writing is important to my heart.

I have to go back almost three years, because that is when I first met Jospehine. At a "munch", as the English slang term goes, one of those meetings for BDSM people in a vanilla place, like a pub or a club. It was only the third such gathering I ever went to, at a time when I had just started exploring the local kinky scene, making the transition from internet voyeur and spanking movie buff to active participant. Josephine was her usual self - loud, outgoing, cheerful and hyperactive. Actually, she wasn't my type at all as a prospective victim! But she was likeable and interesting to talk to, and I sensed that there was a very thoughtful mind behind the buzzing puppy dog exterior. We ended up exchanging email addresses, having a couple of long chats on the phone (highly unusual for me, but not for Josephine), then meeting one on one. Just to share a snack and talk.

Josephine had been in the kinky scene for years and had a lot more experience than me. She was looking for a top, and the man of her desires was hard to find - the naturally and thoroughly dominant type, with no playing or pretending, someone who just exudes this massive aura of authority twenty-four hours a day. Alright, I thought to myself, that's definitely not me (which was fine, because I wasn't even interested in Josephine on that level). I always thought of affectionate sadism and the intriguing psychology behind it as the core of my kink, not the craving for authority or control. And I certainly never regarded myself as "naturally dominant", whatever that is. I was a novice, anyway, and I wanted to experiment, try things out, explore kinky fantasies... The kind of 24/7 relationship Josephine dreamed of, with "real punishments" for "real offenses" and all that, was not something I could imagine ever being into. As play, perhaps, and for a certain amount of time - but not in this absolute, all-encompassing way she seemed to want.

At first, I wasn't Josephine's type, either - an interesting guy for sure and great to talk to, but too distant and reserved. We both took a while to discover that there was a certain mutual attraction after all. One day, we just played together. She was the first girl I ever spanked and caned. Obviously, that is something you never forget, and I'll have to write a wholly separate post about it someday. To cut a longer story short, we both liked it, so we played again and it only got better. In time, it developed into a pretty regular relationship.

There were some revelations along the way. Josephine got to know the affectionate, protective streak behind my reserved demeanour. I found her to be amazingly perceptive and insightful on an emotional level, which one wouldn't necessarily expect in such a happy-go-lucky, at times reckless girl. In our kinky play, and to my considerable surprise, Josephine got exactly the kind of top she wanted. To this day, she swears that I'm one of the most dominant, most controlling people she's ever met, only I'm too clueless to realise it. I say she simply hasn't met any truly controlling people - all I did was help her along with advice she explicitly asked for, about things she wanted to do, anyway!

Whatever innate or perceived dominance I had, I didn't regard it as much of an achievement. I was only being myself, which is the easiest thing to do! In the process, though, I discovered that I enjoyed this type of kinky relationship after all, the constant power dynamics, the correction of "real offenses", the job of being an authority figure. What I was really after was living out my sadistic desires, and expressing my affection for Josephine through them. By contrast, the day-to-day authority was more of a side effect - but it was an interesting side effect, and I liked it a lot more than expected.

With hindsight, I think I had been pretty naive about this aspect. After all, I had tutored fellow students at university and enjoyed it. In a way, what I did with Josephine wasn't all that different - just a sterner, stricter version, including the power to give out punishment. For me, the most gratifying thing about it was not the control or the position of authority - sure, it was fun to be "in charge", in a playful sort of way. But again, that was incidental. What I really loved about it, the role of an authority figure, was the same thing I had loved about being a tutor - seeing that I was actually able to help Josephine, that she benefited from our time together.

She successfully made some changes which she had wanted to make for a long time, but where she had always lacked the last necessary ounce of motivation. Nothing drastically life-altering, just small, but significant things - getting a little more organised, a little more focused, a little more responsible here and there. My mere presence, the fact that someone was there to look over her shoulder (and never faltering in the duties he had committed to), was all she really needed for that. Every once in a while, I had to throw in a spanking, but it was the exception rather than the rule. So we didn't actually play very often, only about two or three times per month. When we did, though, it was always meaningful and pretty intense. I was fine with keeping it a deliberately special rather than a regular thing, anyway.

To witness these changes and Josephine's contentment about them was a beautiful, rewarding experience. Some of them, I'm happy to say, outlasted our time together and became permanent. And we had a lot of wonderful, unadulterated kinky fun along the way. Beyond this symbiosis, we were as different as two human beings can possibly be. Josephine is very much an outdoor girl who loves hiking, climbing and all sorts of physical activities, I'm the bookish monk who locks himself up in his library for days on end. She needs to be with people and around people constantly, I need my time alone (I like socialising and I'm usually in the last group to leave a party, but I can't do it without substantial recovery phases in between). She isn't a computer person and gets nothing out of surfing the internet, I do most of my work at the PC and still write a spanking blog in my free time.

Our tastes in non-kinky pursuits, movies and music were totally different. There were some novels we both liked, and we actually read a couple together (meaning, I read them to Josephine for hours while she kept begging for "Just one more chapter!"). But even those were few and far between. Our backgrounds and our vanilla environments, the circle of friends each of us had, were radically different as well.

For a while, even a very long while, a play relationship (which wasn't, after all, a "full" one) worked well in spite of this. We liked each other, we were friends and we had the kinky stuff to explore together. That was enough. But ultimately, our differences caught up with that part of our lives as well. The point is that Josephine's type of kink, the "guardianship" she desires and the strong attachment to a mentor figure, is most ideally fulfilled in a complete, proper boyfriend / girlfriend relationship - that is the natural destination of the whole thing. I'm not saying that this is the case with everyone who craves a kinky authority figure, but it was certainly true with Josephine.

We told ourselves that the "professional" mentor / student relationship we had between us worked so well because we were just friends, not soulmates or lovers - that this was a good thing, actually. But we were wrong. It worked as well as it did, for as long as it did, because we had a very keen insight into each other, despite our differences (maybe because of them). However, it wasn't something that could truly last. For that, it would have needed to go to a level that was not open to us. We didn't have the common ground for a full relationship, no passionate common interests outside of spanking or dreams which we shared. More importantly, we simply didn't feel that kind of attraction to each other. They say that opposites attract, and this is true sometimes - but not when almost everything is opposites!

After a year of being friends and playing, we first drifted apart in mid-2007. The reason was that we were both extremely busy with our work, nothing more. Still, the fact that it was so easy to take a long break - just like that! - should have been telling. We got together again the next spring. I had started the blog by that time and Josephine had enrolled in an economics course. It was great to see her, she asked me to play "motivational coach" during her studies and I was happy to sign up for the job. The first time I spanked her again, which I wrote about in Careless Cyclist Caned, was one of the best sessions we ever had. We also went to the annual BoundCon fetish convention in Munich (Conventional Weekend), another memorable occasion because it was the first time either of us had played in such a public fashion. Blogging about it added a whole new dimension as well, at least for me.

However, when these novelties wore off, our fundamental differences remained - if anything, they were increasing. It's not like we were arguing constantly or having a bad time, far from it. We enjoyed each others' company, having dinner together and chatting. But both in our conversations and in our play, there was a certain, limited level of connectedness which we could not exceed, because we lived in very different worlds - and our desire to change anything about that was lower than ever. Josephine was very busy with her studies, anyway. I think we only played about half a dozen times during the entire semester, and we didn't see each other much more often. We were on the phone frequently and I checked on her exam preparations, made some suggestions and tried to calm her nervousness. That gave me joy, but really, I was back in my old job of being a university tutor instead of a top - my "motivational coaching" grew more and more disconnected from our kink, while the kink disappeared.

Then it was School Report Time, and when we started with the canings resulting from Josephine's exam grades (The Fantasy of Real Life), a feeling became impossible to ignore that had already been there in all our (limited) play after the BoundCon weekend: it simply wasn't all that exciting anymore. The action itself was pleasant enough, with Josephine getting a nice sore bottom and me getting to try out some new canes which I had ordered at the time - but the edginess, the fascination, the electricity in the air was pretty much gone. We weren't fully there in our heads because we had both moved on. So a few weeks later, we decided to acknowledge reality and officially called it quits.

In the previous six months, I had become totally focused on blogging, penpals, role-playing, making videos - more than ever, my kink was about that kind of exploration and artistic endeavour. Actually, Josephine and I were toying with the idea of doing a role-play or two with some mutual friends, but I could tell that she wanted to try it only as a favour to me and her heart wasn't really in it. So I didn't insist, and we never got around to it. Meanwhile, after playing with me and others for years on end, Josephine had reached a point where she felt she had done everything. She was never a role-player or a CP movie buff to begin with, and she wasn't at all interested in kinky experimentation anymore. What she wanted to do was go back on the search for the top of her dreams, plus the boyfriend of her dreams, and settle down with him.

And so we went our separate ways. It was the right decision - I'm very happy where I am today, and when I look at Josephine, I believe she feels the same way. Sometimes when we talk on the phone and a kinky topic comes up, we reminisce about some spanking or caning from the old days, we joke about it and there is quite a bit of nostalgia. But neither of us wants to go back. That time is over for good, and I'm glad that it is. I think we did exactly what we were meant to do, for as long as it was meant to last. Despite the many polar opposites in our lives and in our kinks, we learned some important things from each other. And we have fond memories aplenty. I'm grateful for that, and I look back with great warmth in my heart.

Lebe wohl, Josephine.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Website Review: Realspankings

After reviewing half a dozen paysites which are based in the UK or continental Europe, I'm going to take a look across the Atlantic this time. Realspankings is one of the largest and most well-known corporal punishment sites from the US, and a very popular destination for spankos around the world. I first subscribed to it some six years ago and keep checking back every once in a while. The site got a major facelift recently, with various new features and improvements to the navigation, so I think it's time for a critique.

Realspankings was founded by Michael Masterson aka Mr. M and his wife, two kinky enthusiasts from Colorado (read a mainstream press article about the company in The Denver Westword here). It started out as a tiny showcase for photos of the two of them and eventually grew into a multi-website empire with dozens of models and gargantuan amounts of content. Spanking Teen Brandi, Spanking Teen Jessica, the RS Institute etc. are all part of the network, but Realspankings is still the flagship. Its picture and video archives go back to the year 2000. At the time of this writing, there are over 1,000 distinct scenes, featuring over a hundred different girls and twenty spankers - in other words, members can expect to be busy for a while. New updates are added three times per week.

You can navigate the scenes by model ("Models Index"), by date (an "Updates Calendar" listing everything by year and month) or by theme (sections such as "Cheerleader Punishments" or "Bare Breasted Teens Spanked"). In addition, there is a search function that lets you look for a specific girl, spanker, implement, position or combination thereof. Members also have a personal "My Favourites" folder where they can put models and scenes they like. Overall, the layout is exemplary - despite the huge cast of players and endless tons of clips, Realspankings in its latest guise is one of the most uncluttered and user-friendly spanking sites I've seen. Other producers planning a redesign of their own archives would do well to take a look.

Most scenes (except for a couple of "Photo Stories" and such) include both video and still photographs. The video is usually split into several parts and comes in Real Media format, the old clips with lower bitrates like 150 kb/s or 350 kb/s, the newer ones with 700 kb/s. Scenes are usually between 5 and 15 minutes in length, with longer sessions split up into several updates. Sometimes, there are different perspectives, one clip showing a closeup of the action and another the facial reactions. From February 2008 onwards, there are also streaming flash versions in addition to the downloadable .rm files. It must be said that while the video quality is decent, it is not up to the standard offered by numerous other website producers nowadays. I hear that the Realspankings Team are considering an upgrade to .wmv or .mp4 format, presumably with a higher resolution and bandwidth, which would be a step in the right direction.

Needless to say, an archive of this size and age contains an immense variety of material. You will find all the usual, classical CP instruments, positions and settings: over-the-knee spankings, discipline at home with the belt or hairbrush, various paddlings and strappings, a cropping in the diaper position, an outdoor punishment with the birch, and so forth. There is a pretty even balance of M/F and F/F action. Most scenes have domestic and school settings like "spanked for drinking", "caught eavesdropping" or "cell phone bill". Quite a few have little or no fictional background at all, they are simply sessions of exploration and experimentation between a top and a bottom. Judicial punishments and BDSM-type dungeon scenes also exist, but they are considerably rarer. By and large, Realspankings has the feel of a very traditional spanking site evolving around traditional themes, with a distinctly American culture.

The cane is used less frequently than on most European sites while many sessions feature the strap or all kinds of paddles (wooden, leather, lexan, et cetera). Hand spankings are the most common type of punishment and make up about a third of all the action. Another noteworthy characteristic of Realspankings is that chastisement is often given over the panties or jeans. Spankings on the bare exist aplenty, of course, but there is a significant number of scenes which forgo the titillation of nudity in favour of a more believable domestic or school scenario. The level of severity is light to medium, with a smaller number of sessions that are pretty hard. The focus of the site is not superficial stimulation or sadism for its own sake, it is authenticity and the psychology of the players. Even though the average Realspankings clip is a bit shorter than what you get elsewhere, there is always a solid amount of dialogue and interplay.

Every model has her own personal introduction, a "Punishment Profile" scene where she is interviewed and receives her first on-camera spanking. Interviews are also fairly frequent in other types of sessions, like the "School Swats" and "School Strokes" series which aim to recreate the experience of realistic school CP (often over the jeans, with the model pulling down her pants and showing off the marks afterwards). Before and after the action, the girls talk about their thoughts and feelings on the matter, and about any real-life experiences they may have had with such a punishment. In time, you get to know them pretty well, especially the regular Realspankings bottoms like Brandi, Jennifer, Kailee or Monica, all of whom have shot some 40 or 50 scenes. But even with the less prolific models, you get a delightful insight into their personalities and individual quirks, which is a far cry from the anonymity of some other sites I could mention.

It's obvious that Realspankings care deeply about the human aspect and about the quality of their work. The result is a great site with some great content, and more. Watching their videos isn't just exciting, it is
interesting - at times, quite thought-provoking. While kinky porn is, in principle, an ideal medium for that, it's a quality you find all too rarely in practice. On that note, I also have to mention The Spanking Blog by Michael Masterson. In addition to the expected previews and updates on what's going on with the site, it contains good and insightful writing on the subject of spanking in general, the work of making videos, the people behind it and so forth. The Realspankings Team also run the World Spanking Forum, which is fairly active and well worth a visit.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Whatever Happened to the Cyclist Girl?

Whatever happened to Josephine? A reader asked me that recently, after I very briefly mentioned her in part three of my behind-the-scenes report on Mood Pictures. Those who have been following the blog for a while will know that the subject of the inquiry is a kinky friend of mine, whom I've done some private play with over the years. I wrote about her a couple of times:

The Perils of Josephine
Careless Cyclist Caned
Conventional Weekend
School Report Time
The Fantasy of Real Life

The short answer to the question is that Josephine and I are still good friends and still in contact, but we don't play together anymore. The reasons for this are a bit more difficult to put into words. Basically, we have both moved on in different directions. She's a bottom, I'm a top, and we both have a fondness for hard, painful CP. But beyond that, our kinks were always quite different, and these differences have grown over time as each of us developed. Eventually, we realised that we had taken the play relationship between us as far as we could, that there wasn't really anything more we could explore together, and that it was time for the two of us to go our separate ways.

It was not a conscious decision as much as a discovery with hindsight, after we had drifted apart over a period of time - and found that, truth be told, we didn't feel an overwhelming urge to get back together. So we said: "Alright, it was great while it lasted, and there are some truly special memories, but we are both looking for something else now - let's say goodbye and wish each other well." We parted on good terms and are pretty busy with our own activities these days. We are on the phone semi-regularly to chat and find out what the other one is doing, but it's been a few months since I last saw Josephine in person.

The last time we played was half a year ago - actually, only a week or so after my post The Fantasy of Real Life. Josephine had finished her first semester of economics and performed below her expectations in the exams. It fell to me, as her "motivational coach", to give her the six canings for the six written tests, with the number of strokes determined by the formula we had agreed on. In a nice turn of symmetry, she'd had two good grades, two mediocre ones and two that were decidedly unsatisfactory.

(Picture courtesy of Spanking Photography)

We ended up doing four of those sessions eventually, but they were overshadowed by a nagging feeling that had already been there the last couple of times when I spanked her - the feeling that, somehow, it simply wasn't as exciting as it used to be. Neither of us was fully "there" in spirit and there was a growing sense of simply going through the motions, accompanied by the knowledge that the problem was more fundamental than just a series of bad days. The truth was, we had lost the interest in playing with each other. We had both felt like that for a while and silently hoped that it would change, but it had become impossible to ignore. After the fourth exam caning, we had to take a longer break because of our respective schedules, anyway. When we got in touch again after a few weeks, we agreed that it was a good time to call it quits and move on.

It very much felt like the right thing and we didn't have any second thoughts afterwards. The bottom line was, even if we rediscovered the spark between us, there wasn't really anything left to do - we had already exhausted most of the fantasies and scenarios where our two kinks overlapped, and both of us wanted to go on to other things which we couldn't get from each other. Therefore, it was a natural and largely painless parting of ways. Of course, there was some sadness about the fact that our path together had come to an end. But it wasn't like we were giving up on each other prematurely. Our play relationship had simply run its course, we had explored all the avenues, and now it was over. The overwhelming feeling was one of looking back happily, with gratitude and a bit of nostalgia, but without regret.

Well, almost without regret - the one thing that annoyed me was that the relationship had "fizzled out", so to speak, instead of ending with a proper occasion. But alas, episodes in our lives don't usually have neat, crisp endings. The same goes for epochs in history - we only construct their boundaries with hindsight, which is part of my job as a historian. I wanted such a boundary, saying: "From here on, Josephine and I went separate ways." I wondered if we should play one last time, as a celebratory farewell of sorts. We would wrap up the exam punishments, and then I would blog about it... But obviously, that wasn't a very compelling rationale for intimate, kinky play. Yes, the top in me disliked the "loose end" of not finishing my stint as motivational coach with all six sessions. But there simply was no point to it anymore. We had lost the desire for it.

So I came to terms with the "fuzzy" ending. What really mattered was that it had been a good phase of our lives, one that left us both with fond memories. Maybe if I write about some of them here, it will be the proper celebratory farewell I wished for. I think it's a good idea, at what I feel is an appropriate point in time. In another post, the final one in the Josephine saga, I will tell you how the two of us met, how we started playing, what we found out about each other and about ourselves along the way, what worked for us and what didn't... The full historical overview, if you will, and a prequel to The Perils of Josephine. Stay tuned for that next week.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Infectious Royal Friendship

Prefectdt aka Spanked Hortic has tagged me with another one of those virulent internet memes. On this blog, we already had the Seven Deadly Sins and 7 Facts About Yourself (why this frequent association between digital chain letters and the lucky number seven?). The latest meme is called "Friendship Awards", and it goes without saying that I am pleased to receive from Prefect such a token of appreciation. Thank you, that is a nice gesture.

Not everyone wants to be friends with a mad king, you know, and those who do often have ulterior motives - like Richard Wagner, who used my name patron to pay off all his debts, finance his opera productions and live in sumptuous luxury (he thanked Ludwig by having a rather indiscreet affair with a friend's wife, Cosima von Bülow, which scandalised Munich at the time). It was cool in one way, because we probably wouldn't have Wagner's fascinating and hugely influential late works otherwise. But I'm still going to make sure that I exercise a greater sense of circumspection when I choose the next round of recipients for the awards.

As you can guess already, the concept is fairly simple - you get an award, you (optionally) pass it on to other bloggers you like, the meme spreads. Here is the official wording:

“These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandisement. [Note from Ludwig: Actually, I love self-aggrandisement! But I try to go about it in a charming way.] Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers.”

"The Rules to accepting this award: Deliver this award to eight bloggers who can, if they like, choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."

So this time, it's the mysterious number eight instead of lucky seven. I like that. Now, for this meme, I'm not going to select the usual suspects like Pandora Blake or Adele Haze, bloggers who I link to fairly frequently, anyway. I'm using the opportunity to promote a couple of blogs which I haven't really mentioned before because most of them are pretty new:

The Little Red Schoolhouse by Abby Williams - Actually, this one goes back to mid-2007, so it is hardly new. The only reason why I didn't add it to my link list when I updated it last autumn was that Abby's blog was dormant at the time. However, there has been an upturn of activity in the last couple of weeks. Let's hope that it lasts!

Getting It by Caroline Grey - A twenty-something bottom from the lovely green isle of Ireland, Caroline has recently shot her first spanking video clips for Sound Punishment. Welcome to the wonderful world of porn stardom! I'm looking forward to seeing and reading more about her adventures in the future.

The S Word by Graham - Graham (sic!) is the scene name of an American girl currently living in Eastern Europe and writing about the English vice while she plots to make her first real-life spanking experience. The blog is only three weeks old, but quite interesting already. I thought I'd assist the push out of the starting gate.

Freshly Spanked by Irelynn and Smudge - When they are not plotting to take over the world or threatening to smite their readers, these two kinky university students are busy adding post after post to their excellent blog - almost 200 blog entries in the past six months and no sign of slowing down yet. Your majesties, your royal cousin sends his greetings from Bavaria!

My Dirty Little Secret by Jenni - Jenni is an American college student exploring the art of spanking. Like me, she started her blog in January last year, but I rarely see any links to it anywhere. Which is a pity, because the writing is good and the presentation is very stylish. Even the music is okay - and I usually hate it when people put music on their blogs...

On the Way of Exploration by Kami Robertson - The professional spanking victim with the sweet, innocent face and the thoroughly perverted mind has recently started her own blog. I'm very happy about that, all the more so because I was one of the people who suggested the idea to her. Keep a good eye on this little snake.

Shakespearean Kink by Ophelia, Feste and Puck - Ophelia is a real-life friend of Pandora Blake who writes about spanking, acting and her polyamorous relationships. Another relatively new blog and an interesting concept, I'm curious to see where it goes.

Radspace by Radagast - One of the very few blogs by a fellow male top, and a well-written one at that, so I read it frequently. There seem to be quite a few differences between Rad's kink and mine, but that only makes it all the more enlightening.

Be sure to check out all of these writers, they are well worthy of the friendship award and of your attention.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Movie Review: Strict Prison 4

Pain4Fem (released in 2009)

Entire Story In Fewer Words Than Are In This Sentence:
Two prisoners caned after failed escape attempt

Victim Appeal:
Normally, I don't review the later installments of a numbered video series until I have covered all the previous ones, but I'm making an exception for "Strict Prison 4". There are two reasons for this: Amy Hunter and Pandora Blake. This is one of the rare P4F films where the "victims" are genuine spankos instead of hired vanilla girls, so along with "The Spy" (starring Niki Flynn), it is one of their most interesting releases in terms of cast. Amy and Pandora travelled all the way from the UK to Bratislava to work with Peter Schober and company, and this is the first full-length movie I have seen with either of them. That's why I wanted to give it a critique right away. Besides, this is spanking porn, so it's not like you won't be able to follow the plot unless you've seen "Strict Prison 1-3"!

What we have here, then, are two spankees who not only look sexy, but put a lot of heart into the film, both with their acting and with their willingness to take a proper thrashing for the enjoyment of the audience. Naturally, they play inmates at the prison, and according to the official synopsis on the P4F site, they have "too much time on their hands" (you don't say!). Pandora is the more active of the two and initiates a breakout attempt. Her lines are a bit difficult to understand at times, but it's not as bad as she made it sound in her self-critical rant on her blog. Actually, I find that the lazy mumbling adds to her "tough girl" character, which contrasts nicely with Amy's more emotional and fearful portrayal (moreover, P4F were kind enough to add subtitles for the viewers with less than stellar English listening comprehension).

Gratuitous Sadism:
As the movie opens, Amy and Pandora are sitting in their cell while the sounds of a girl getting beaten and screaming can be heard from another part of the prison. Apparently, the two are no strangers to the corporal punishment in this institution themselves. "Suppose they come back and do what they did last time?" asks Amy, frightened and in tears. Pandora tells her to calm down while she is trying to come up with an escape plan: "We've got to think of something... I can't stand to listen to your snivelling any longer!" Confident that they could pick the door lock with a suitable metal object, Pandora feigns stomach pains to get to the infirmary and have a look around. Amy is hesitant, but goes along with the plan, calling the guards for help.

They take the prisoner to the infirmary, examine her blood pressure, give her a vitamin injection and take her temperature (surprise, no fever). The scene is filmed with Pain4Fem's usual fondness for slow procedure, and Pandora makes some cute, pitiful "I feel so terribly sick!" faces. The guards tell her that she can stay in the room for an hour. They will see how she feels afterwards. When they leave, Pandora springs into action. Despite being handcuffed to the bed with one hand, she manages to obtain a small piece of metal.

Claiming that she feels better, Pandora is escorted back to her cell. She proudly hands the smuggled object to Amy, who starts picking the lock. However, one of the guards has his doubts about the stomach pains episode. When he and his female colleague go back to have another look, they catch the prisoners red-handed (guess they should have waited until nightfall, eh?). "You know the consequences: a punishment!" barks the guard. "We will come back." Time for Amy to do some more crying.

Needless to say, the punishment is of the "ferocious beating of the buttocks" variety. The two inmates are sentenced to 35 strokes of the cane each for trying to break out. In addition, Pandora gets 15 whip lashes on her back for the mischief in the infirmary. She takes the whipping while tied to the cell bars. Afterwards, Amy is caned, followed by Pandora. During the main punishment, a rather elaborate restraining frame is used, the same one as in The Spanking Machine. It makes for a highly sexy "standing on two feet while bending slightly forward" position. The thrashings dished out by the male guard (Peter Schober) are towards the upper end of the P4F spectrum, making them pretty hard overall - not the super-severe level that some other Eastern European filmmakers are infamous for, but vicious enough to produce nice marks and plenty of genuine distress.

Best Reactions:
Sadistic viewers should find themselves thoroughly entertained. The punishments are applied with a slow, steady rhythm and deliberate gusto, and they are recorded from a good variety of angles. Departing from the usual P4F custom, both spankees count the cane strokes aloud. Amy's reactions are tearful and openly anguished, with a lot of sobbing and howling. One time, after stroke 21, she adds a polite "Thank you!" even though she wasn't asked to - such are the habits of being the Head Girl at Northern Spanking for all these years, I guess. Her cries reach fortissimo during the last five, extra hard swishes, which are "special", as the guard puts it.

Pandora is the more restrained of the two - while her reactions are no less vocal or pained than Amy's, you get the feeling that she is trying a bit harder to keep her composure. There is always a hint of anger in her cries, and it is delightful to listen to. She only gets three of the "special" strokes (pity), but they are very nice indeed. I especially liked the out-of-control, piercing scream after the last one, followed by a suddenly very meek "Thirty-five...!". When the guard is through with her, the tougher of the two prisoners is "snivelling" quite a bit herself.

All scenes are good, including the back whipping, but I have to give the nod to Pandora's caning. As a matter of personal taste, I just like the subtly defiant reactions better. Moreover, Pandora is fully undressed during the punishment (Amy simply has her prisoner's gown pulled up), and she gets more vivid welts, including a bit of blood.

Best Line:
After Pandora is brought back to her cell from the infirmary and the guards leave, she signals to Amy that she has indeed found a suitable object to pick the lock. She starts searching in her bra and jokingly asks her cellmate: "Do you want to have a feel?" I'm going to select that little flirtatious remark as the best line of the film, even though Amy's laughing reply ("You dirty bitch!") is pretty good, too. I liked the whole moment because it looked genuinely spontaneous rather than scripted.

Nice Psychological Touch:
Of all the CP movies with a prison setting that I've seen over the years, I think this is the only one featuring an actual escape attempt. I'm sure other stories like this exist, but I don't remember any right now. In any case, "Strict Prison 4" is one of the more elaborate examples. It's funny that we don't get to see this plot line more often, isn't it? Nine out of ten mainstream prison films are all about the big breakout. But not in spanking porn. Maybe it's because, in the porn version, the outcome is too foreseeable. Obviously, the inmates have to be caught and soundly thrashed! It's a bit like watching Titanic - you know the bloody ship is going to sink, so whatever suspense there is has to come from the details.

I certainly enjoyed the details of this story, with the feigned illness, the trip to the infirmary and all that. Even though you know exactly what is going to happen, there is a certain tension. Actually, it's a pity that Pain4Fem didn't make more of the idea and let the prisoners get caught before they even manage to leave their cell. There is unused potential here. I'm not asking for outdoor scenes, search dogs and helicopters. But a scene with Amy and Pandora sneaking around in the building would have been a lot of fun. Maybe there is an idea here for the next team of inmates, in "Strict Prison 5".

How Good Is It Really?
A very watchable title from Pain4Fem, chiefly carried by its excellent cast. Amy Hunter and Pandora Blake are a joy, both during the acted scenes and the CP segments. Obviously, this is an absolute must-have for their fans, but it is also a good video in its own right - coming with the usual proficient craftsmanship of P4F, an entertaining little storyline and two great, fairly severe caning scenes.

What You Learned:
When you handcuff Pandora Blake, make sure to tie both hands. Or, better still, leave one free, but arrange to have a surveillance system in the room - then thrash her for whatever mischief she gets up to.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hostel III: Preparing for the Mood

(This is the third part of my behind-the-scenes report on Mood Pictures. The first two parts were The Hungarian Hostel and Hostel II: The Revelations of Guard #3.)

(Download the HQ version of the "Inmates - Part 1" trailer here)

The first part of my spanking film with Mood Pictures is out, titled "Inmates". It will introduce you to Harastopol State Prison, Eastern Europe, where corporal punishment is still used to this day. You can get the movie on DVD or as a HQ download. As it turns out, I'm not Guard #3 after all - the credits list me as "Guard #1" and "special guest star", ahead of Lady Jessica Lee. Not bad, huh? However, I don't have a lot of screen time in this one. I am in a couple of shots, taking a new prisoner's fingerprints and such, but you will have to wait a little longer to really see me in action - both of the thrashings I administered will be in "Inmates - Part 2", which will come out in the second half of March.

In the meantime, I can at least begin to tell you what it was like to swing the cane for Mood. I've decided that there will be a fourth part of my report after this one - I'm expanding the originally planned trilogy to a tetralogy. This way, I'll have something to accompany the release of the second video, and there is still so much to write about, anyway - easily enough material for two more (hopefully interesting) posts.

Part one dealt with the prehistory and part two with the filming of the non-action scenes, so this and the final segment will focus on the CP action. It was, of course, the climax of the shoot. Especially for me - since I didn't do any acting worth the name, the caning was my only real task as a top, and I wanted to do it well. Actually, it was inspirational to focus on nothing but this one activity. I approached it like a Zen ritual. Needless to say, I was greatly looking forward to the wicked sadistic fun of it. But I also relished the challenge to my technical skills.

It was a question I had often wondered about: could I dish out a thrashing at this extreme level of severity, and do it accurately? Some of the Mood or Lupus Pictures tops hit insanely hard, but their accuracy is shaky. I wanted to have both. My role models were caners like Pavel Stastny from the Headmaster's Study series, who is not only very severe, but also on target - and he looks elegant while he's doing it, which constitutes the third important ingredient. Could I do all of that? I hadn't even administered such a hard beating yet. I had done some pretty vicious stuff with Josephine, who loves strict, painful discipline, but never quite on this level. And not in front of a camera.

So I practised more than ever in the weeks before the shoot. I put a pillow over the back of a chair and beat the living daylights out of it for a solid hour at a time, hundreds of strokes, until my right shoulder was numb and my hand had blisters just from holding the cane. My dummy has a striped pillowcase, and three stripes together are roughly the height of an average girl's bottom from the tailbone to the lower end. You can practise aiming high, central and low. Or, if you really want to test your accuracy, you can try hitting the edges between the stripes.

When I started out as a top, I hadn't done any proper exercise, only toyed around a bit with a cane. It was alright at the time because I was careful and didn't hit very hard. But I still find it difficult to watch old videos like The German Lesson with Niki Flynn today, where my technique was utter crap (Niki insists it was okay, but she is far too nice to be trustworthy as a critic). I only got serious about caning skill later, when I realised that it took a lot more than simply watching spanking films. I practised while holding a book under my arm to focus on the elbow movement and the wrist flick that gives the cane its unique bite. It was the first in a line of "Aha!" moments.

Later, I started using my shoulder as well - if I wanted to measure myself against the true champions of severity like Headmaster Stastny, I would of course have to do full arm strokes like they do. The physical force is awesome - shoulder, elbow, wrist, all adding up. I destroyed a whole bunch of canes, and several pillows, too. The accuracy, on the other hand, was pitiful at first. But it improved rapidly when I stopped trying to imitate Pavel's posture and discovered a different one that came more naturally to me - left foot forward, striking at a low angle, really leaning into the strokes. I felt like I was finally beginning to find my style. More practice followed. By the time I boarded the train to Budapest, I was confident that I could do the job.

But you never really know until you try it on a living target. That was the challenge. There were other things I didn't know, such as what position the victim would be in. Mood Pictures use a wide variety of restraining devices. I only hoped that it wouldn't be the "diaper" position, with the legs up - some kinky people love it, but it does nothing for me, I just don't find it erotic or visually exciting at all. Sure enough, when I chatted with Pablo before the shoot, I found out that the canings were supposed to be in that very arrangement. Ugh... I asked him if the girl could just be tied while bent over in my scene, since I preferred that. Sure, he said, that is possible. But why didn't I like the legs up? "No good reason, to be honest, it's simply a matter of personal taste," I replied apologetically. "Different people like different things..." Pablo looked puzzled: "Okay, but everyone likes the Ferraris and Lamborghinis, no?" Not everyone, I shrugged.

It was agreed that we would use the more classical position I desired. "So, which one of them you want?" asked Pablo. It was clear that he was referring to the models sitting in the entrance room. Wait a minute, I said - do I get to pick the girl myself? "Yes. Which one you want?" I was surprised: "Hm, I haven't really looked at them in any detail yet... I'll tell you in a bit!" I grinned gleefully and walked over to the other room while Pablo roared with laughter behind me.

There they were, the whole dazzling bunch. I leaned in the corner and tried to look casual while typing some nonsense text "message" into my mobile phone. In the meantime, what I really did was observe the girls. Blonde, blonde, dark haired, blonde, dark haired... How do you pick your victim? Interesting question. Even in a shoot like this, where all I knew about them was what they looked like, it wasn't only about eye candy. I also watched how a girl carried herself, how she talked, how she seemed to relate to the others. I was trying to get some vague notion of what she might be like, as a person. The whys and hows are difficult to explain, but I just "liked" some of them more than others. I started making my mental list. I chose not to talk to any of the girls myself. I just wanted to decide as the detached observer (then cane her...).

Damn, what an exciting position to be in. I was teasing myself for enjoying this macho nonsense as much as I did, but it felt undeniably powerful. And it was intriguing, too. I knew how rewarding it is to make a video with a friend and a fellow spankophile, to plan a scene together, to collaborate, to connect. Now I found that picking a random, anonymous "victim" from a lineup had a fascination of its own - altogether different, but perhaps no less compelling. The slave market, the torturer at Hostel, the deranged kidnapper... It was the ultimate "hunting" fantasy come to life. How very interesting. I began to suspect that, in addition to the obvious sadistic fun, the shoot might turn out to be more psychologically memorable than anticipated.

Before I could make a selection, I was called inside to see Max Lomp, the man in charge of directing the tops. Back when I arrived on the set, the first thing he had done was examine all my canes with professional curiosity - he seemed particularly taken with a thick senior dragon cane which I had brought along for laughs, but without intending to use it (not whippy enough for my taste). I was making my first film with Mood, and the two young dommes playing other guards were still in "training mode", as Pedro put it. Therefore, the three of us now got the official walkthrough from Max. One of the models acted as a dummy target with a pillow tied behind her ass while he demonstrated how we were supposed to hit. It was pretty self-evident - not too high, not too low, and not too fast (Mood want approximately 5 seconds between cane strokes). Then he watched us following his example.

I did some full-arm swings and a couple of others using mostly the lower arm and wrist - which is lighter, but more accurate, to "fill in the gaps". I asked Max if it would be okay to use both techniques. He held a pillow behind his back and wanted me to do the wrist flick, to see how much power I could generate. Satisfied that it was hard enough, he said it would be fine. An assistant translated: "It's your technique, and it looks good. He thinks you are, what is it, a-some? Awesome, yes! And you will do it on a real person."

While we were beating the dummy girl, I had thoughtlessly placed one of my rattan canes in the corner of the room. The female translator brought it back to me and said: "What do you call this in English?" That's a "cane", I replied. She nodded: "Okay. Please do not take this... the cane... to the land." Confused, I asked her if she could say that again? "Do not take the cane to the land," she repeated earnestly. After some explanation, it transpired that she meant "don't put it on the floor" - because it was dirty and they didn't want a model getting an infection. The "contaminated" cane was immediately taken out of the pool of useable implements for the shoot. It was one of the little episodes illustrating that Mood Pictures are, in fact, very thorough about safety.

Nelly had been watching the training. She is a young brunette woman with glasses who does the casting for Mood Pictures, and she was also in the film as an extra. But while Nelly wasn't going to get thrashed this time, she is a genuinely kinky girl and asked me for a demonstration stroke over her jeans. Full force, please! Her wish was my command. Nelly screamed and jumped around the room, shrieking something to Pedro in Hungarian. He laughed: "She says you hit very well."

I don't know if it was Nelly or the "dummy girl", but someone must have talked to the other models. Three of them approached me with an assistant named Sarah. They wanted to know who I was going to cane. I admitted that I hadn't decided yet. After the translation, they looked at each other. Sarah whispered: "They are a bit scared of you." Noting my perplexed expression, she continued: "Well, you are very serious-looking... Maybe if you smile a little?" I really had to smile at that, genuinely. I asked her to let the girls know that I'm quite harmless, really. We chatted a bit. They seemed almost convinced, but not fully. Still scared? Sarah nodded: "But it will be good for the scene..."

It was almost too nice a compliment to be true. For an instant, I had the silly idea that the whole thing was a show designed by Pedro and Pablo to make me feel at home. But that was nonsense. The girls really were nervous, and visibly so. Again, I had to tease my inner sadist for feeling so intoxicated by it. I wondered how they would have fared at the sight of Pavel Stastny, with his bald head and piercing eyes. Would they have fled in terror or simply fainted right away? Who knows. They're scared of me... How cute was that!

I was getting apprehensive myself when the time came to film the CP. Gosh, I thought, I hope all the practice pays off. Don't let me screw this up... Victoria Young was the first girl to get it, a single-tail whipping from Max Lomp. The room was crowded by over a dozen people - Pablo and his assistants, the camera operators, the still photographers, the nurse, the makeup assistant, Lady Jessica and the two dommes, Nelly... Except for the other models, everyone was there, either at work or watching with polite glee. The tension was palpable. Had it not been for the crack of the whip and Victoria's monumental wails, you could have heard a pin drop. Max did a fine job. They had to pause and redo Victoria's makeup several times because she was crying so hard.

The whipping was recorded on the "prison cell" set, with Victoria tied to the bars. It was moved forward in the schedule because she had to leave early. We still had to do some non-action scenes afterwards, then all the equipment was moved to the next room where the other beatings would take place. When everything was finally ready, it was past midnight - Pedro told me that they usually got to the canings around 10 PM, but this was a bigger, longer production.

I didn't care, I had far too much adrenalin to feel any tiredness. I remembered the tension on the set when Max had whipped Victoria, in front of some fifteen rapt spectators. The voyeur in me loved it, watching the beating, and watching the others while they watched... Just being in the live audience was awesome. Now I couldn't wait to go under the spotlight myself. With the victim of my choice.

At the same time, I felt a surge of stage fright at the thought that all these eyes would be on me soon...

(Another cliffhanger ending, but this is the last one, I promise - you will read all the rest in the fourth part of my report, when "Inmates - Part 2" is released in late March.)