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.


Karl Friedrich Gauss said...

I thought I'd heard that Realspankings had been sold a few years ago. Is Mr. M back running things again, or are these just photos from the olden-times archives?

Fine review Ludwig!

Anonymous said...

I was a member of all the RS sites in 2006, at the time when there was a lot of fuzz with new owners and certain main actors were fired.
Now, it is my impression, looking at the presentations of updates, that it is true what people have been saying, that all recent updates are old shoots. With actors who were fired in 2006, still wearing the same combinations of dress and jewelry...
So, have you asked the site owner if they really make new shootigs?
Or what have you observed yourself?
- I must add that I still go back to view a lot of very good updates from the early years that I downloaded in 2006.

Ludwig said...

I forwarded your questions to Mr. M, and here is what he wrote to me - I'm just copying and pasting from his email:


"I thought I'd heard that Realspankings had been sold a few years ago. Is Mr. M back running things again, or are these just photos from the olden-times archives?"

All content ever posted on RS is original content. Yes, there is content that was filmed several years ago, but it is all new to the web. We have always been at least two years ahead on content. Yes, I am running things again. We have never recycled any content on realspankings. We are shooting new content in our brand new 11,000 sq ft studio. I post pictures from all new shoots on the worldspankingforum.com hours after the shoot is completed. Anyone can look and see that this new content is filmed in our new studio. We have also added some new models. Updates are a mix of content previously shot and our latest work. I am not only running things again, I also own 100% of the company.

"I was a member of all the RS sites in 2006, at the time when there was a lot of fuzz with new owners and certain main actors were fired."

There was a change in ownership three years ago, but I never gave up controlling interest in the company. Operations were taken over by our senior VP, so the company was never sold to an outside entity. Lady D moved on and was not fired.

"Now, it is my impression, looking at the presentations of updates, that it is true what people have been saying, that all recent updates are old shoots. With actors who were fired in 2006, still wearing the same combinations of dress and jewelry..."

Models come and go, no one is ever really fired. There are many models who did 100's of shoots with us in which those scenes are just now being used as updates. Previous models, old location, still new content never before seen on the web. We are currently shooting 2 times a week in the new studio as we move into a more active production schedule. Anyone can go to realspankings or realspankingsinstitute and look at the updates in the free section and see what has been filmed recently in the new studio. We still utilize many of the outfits in our wardrobe, such as the schoolgirl uniforms or the cheerleader outfits. New studio doesn't mean all new wardrobe.

"So, have you asked the site owner if they really make new shootings?"

Anyone who doubts that we are shooting new content simply need to visit the free area of the sites. In addition, for each new shoot there is an active thread on the worldspankingforum.com in which they can view the pictures and read comments from members who have watched the videos.

Our new studio is giant and we are really working to produce some cutting edge new content. We are currently finishing our judical sets, which include a full on prison setting with multiple cells for the naughty young ladies. There are free clips on the forum that show some previews of our latest judicial punishment scene. We are actively shooting with many models, some from the past such as Betty, Monica, Raquel, Bailey, Kailee, and others. In addition, we have already posted many new scenes, from the new studio, with new models that are already becoming quite popular.

We are experimenting with new spankers, but for the most part, most new scenes feature me as the spanker. Unlike the time period of 2004-2006, in which I was too busy running the business to be a part of the shoots, I now script and direct all scenes. There has not been a new scene filmed in which I was not in the room directing the action. Our newest content has much more of the feel of our early days in which I was directing all scenes. We are currently in the process of upgrading the bit rate of all new videos, and very soon all content will be close to high def, and more than double are current resolution.

Hope this helps.

Michael Masterson