Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Pygmalion and Galatea by Jean-Léon Gérôme (ca. 1890)

My Fair Lady (1964)

Weird Science (1984)

Dollhouse Joss Whedon (2009)

Pygmalionism is the love and sexual attraction to a creation of ones own making, usually a statue or a doll. The Greek mythological character Pygmalion was a king of Cyprus and a sculptor who created a beautiful statue representing his ideal of womanhood. He then fell in love with his work of art and in an answer to his prayer, the goddess Aphrodite brought the statue to life.

Kink is a creative process. There is something incredibly sexy about starting with a "lump of clay" and turning someone into exactly what you want them to be. It's more complex than just being a "sex toy" or simple objectification. It's about process, change, development and creation. It's an investment.

In Hitchcock's Vertigo, Detective John Ferguson haunted by the death of Madeleine, a woman he was hired to follow. After a stay in a mental hospital, he spots another woman who looks like Madeleine and begins a relationship with her. However, he is still consumed with guilt and begins to meticulously transform her into a replica of Madeleine. He buys her clothes that match Madeleine's to the smallest detail, he has her make-up done to look more like her and finally dyes her hair blonde, like Madeleine. Once the transformation is complete, he falls in love with her.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wonder Woman

With her patriotic, waist cinching bustier, her metal arm cuffs, and her "lasso of truth", Wonder Woman (Amazon goddess / crime fighting superhero) as super dominatrix , is pretty obvious. But the character makes even more sense when you learn about the man who created her in 1942. William Moulton Marston was a psychologist, a feminist and polyamorous. He dreamed of a utopian society where women would "use sexual enslavement to achieve dominance over men, who would happily submit to their loving authority."

He also invented the lie detector.

Wonder Woman: The Complete History by Les Daniels

Monday, November 23, 2009

Giving Thanks

Joseph Beuys, Matthew Barney, Kiki Smith, Kara Walker, Lorna Simpson, Fred Wilson, Louise Bourgeois, Stefan Sagmeister, Neville Brody, Peter Saville, The Bauhaus, Bruce Mau, Irma Boom, Droog Design, Experimental Jet Set, M/M Paris, ACT-UP, Man Ray, Carrvaggio, Gerard Richter, Thomas Struth, Ray Johnson, Charles Schultz, The Smiths, The B-52s, Cole Porter, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Bauhaus, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Edith Piaf, David Bowie, Chet Baker, The Free Design, Peaches, Nouvelle Vague, Nina Simone, The Pixies, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Bronski Beat, Mos Def, Derek Jarman, Catherine Breillat, Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, David Cronenberg, Wim Wenders, Isabella Rossellini, Divine, Viktor & Rolf, Commes Des Garçons, Helmut Lang, J.K. Rowling, Truman Capote, Chip Kidd, Italo Calvino, Raymond Queneau, Charles Bukowski, E.M. Forester, Mary Renault, Henry Miller, Max Huber, Sheila Levrant de Bretteville, Tibor Kalman, Emigre, Ray Gun, Bradbury Thompson, Sister Corita Kent, Paula Scher, Eero Saarinen, Wim Crouwel, Karl Martens, Aubrey Beardsley, Kiki Smith, Jenny Holzer, Pipilotti Rist, Annie Sprinkles, Francis Bacon, Banksy, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ryan McGinness, Kehinde Wilye, Walker Evans, Robert Mapplethorpe, Philip Lorca diCorsia, They Might Be Giants, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Dave Brubeck, Duran Duran, Fischerspooner, Laurie Anderson, Grace Jones, Boy George, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubric, Frederico Fellini, The Criterion Collection, David Cronenberg, NPR, Bruce La Bruce, New Order, Joy Division, Joan Jett, The Chemical Brothers, Bjork, Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes, Donna Summer, The Dresden Dolls, Tom Waits, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Goldfrappe, Blondie, Tom of Finland, Toulouse Lautrec, Henri Cartier-Breson, Judy Chicago, Carolee Scheeman, Henry Darger, Nayland Blake, David LaChapelle, Jenny Holzer, Pierre & Giles, Nan Goldin, Catherine Opie, Bureau of Inverse Technology, Jeff Koons, Pageant Print and Book Shop, Subway Inn, Tramway Diner, Lever House, The Segrams Building, The Chrysler Building, The Ambassador Bridge, The Museum of Jurassic Technology, Warehouse, The Dock, Limelight, NASA (the nightclub), Downtown Beruit, Pyramid, Khaldi's, Highland Coffeehouse, Beat Club, Bar d'O, The Frying Pan, The Roxy, The Electric Company, Solid Gold, Dance Fever, Absolutely Fabulous, Chuck Jones, Catherine Deneuve, Christopher Isherwood, Dorothy Parker, Anais Nin, Anne Rice, Michael Chabon, i-D, Interview, The Face, David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, Augusten Burroughs, Albert Camus, Ayn Rand, Shelley Jackson, Jean-Paul Sartre, OuLiPo, J.D. Salinger, Vivianne Westwood, John Gallianno, Mr. Pearl, Alexander McQueen, Karl Lagerfeld, Rufus Wainwright, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Stevie Wonder, Isaac Hayes, George Clinton, Radiohead, MIKA, The Go-Go's, MTV (1981-1994), Tracey Ullman, The Simpsons, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Amy Sedaris, French and Saunders, The Young Ones, Josaphine Baker, Pam Grier, Dogs in Space, Le Tigre, LCD Soundsystem, Scissor Sisters, Eryhah Badu, Klaus Nomi, Dally in the Alley, Amanda Palmer, Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, Magnetic Fields, Future Bible Heros, Detroit Institute of Art, Sam's Jams, Moss, The Fox Theater, Royal Oak, The High Line, Michael Clark, Joey Arias, Justin Bond, Murray Hill, Lady Bunny, Leigh Bowery, Matthew Bourne, Dan Savage, Isabella Blow, Ayrton Senna, Ira Glass, Paul Rand, Ellen Lupton, Paul Elliman, Edward Tufte, Saul Bass, Lester Beall, Charles & Ray Eames, Diller + Scofidio, R. Buckminster Fuller, Apple, Olivetti, Zaha Hadid, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Antonin Artaud, Otto Dix, Marcel Duchamp, Marlene Dumas, Marcel Dzama, Robert Frank, Edward Hopper, Eva Hesse, Ellen von Unwerth, Sophie Calle, The Guerrilla Girls, Joseph Cornell, Wallpaper, Alain Robbe-Grillet, George Perec, Jean Genet, William S. Burroughs, Luc Sante, Dennis Cooper, Thomas Mann, Paper Magazine, Life in Hell, Cabinet, David Rakoff, Raymond Carver, Flannery O'Connor, Geoff Ryman, Will Self, Anne Rice, John Rechy, John Waters, John Hughes, Tilda Swinton, Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham, Mondo New York, Sifl and Olly, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, Kyle Cooper, Bettie Page, John Willie, Mae West, David Byrne, Will Shorts, Martha Stewart, Mr. Holstien, my 7th grade science teacher who taught me how to tape music off of the radio...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nayland Blake

Restraint Chair

And speaking of that Times piece on Lolita, that handsome gentleman at her side is none other than Nayland Blake.

One in 8 Million

Photography by Todd Heisler for The New York Times

is one of my favorite people off all time. I strive to attain half of her moxie. Well done!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Field Trip: Walsh Metalworks

I like metal. I mean, I really like metal. Last week Sullivan Walsh kindly opened the huge steel doors of Walsh Metalworks and allowed me to poke around his workshop.

Walsh Metalworks specializes in the custom made furniture, ornaments, and accessories and it's all handcrafted in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The piece that initially got me curious was the bondage bed. It blurs the line between "sex life" and regular life and I'm a big fan of sex toys you don't have to hide when the parents come to visit. It's lovely in and of itself and still utilitarian in the best possible way. It's a bed with a wink and a nod.

I'd like to see what he could do with a desk chair.

Collar and wrist cuffs

Historic reproductions of a slave collar and mask.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kink For All_1

This is the slide show I gave at the first Kink For All. Click on the images to view larger.

The secret password is "orgy".

I was dating a guy who was pretty vanilla. He wasn't completely green about kinky stuff, but it became really clear that he just wasn't into it. Or at least into anything I was into. So, I said to him, "This stuff isn't really your thing, is it?" And he said:

"Not really. I just like the way it looks."

At the time, I knew exactly what he was talking about. I got it immediately. But it wasn't until later that I stopped and thought, what does that mean? What does kink "look like"?

When I was younger, this what kinky used to look like for me. "Story of O", "Sleeping Beauty". Very Helmut Newton. Everyone was rich and spoke French.
Ellen von Unwerth / Revenge

These images have been in the culture as early as the 1930s.
Charles Guyette

John Willie / Bizzare

Bette Page was created out of a customer demand for BDSM-like images in mainstream movies. While the outfits and the photos were created and sold underground for a audience of practitioners and fetishist, the style would make it's way back into the media.

British shoe makers, Anello & Davide designed Emma Peel's boots for The Avengers (and shoes for The Queen of England). They also crafted high-heeled, thigh-high fetish boots that appeared in fetish magazines.

I remember the news footage of long lines and crowds in suburban bookstores when this was released. It sold 150,000 copies in the US on the first day. All 1.5 million copies sold out worldwide in 3 days.
Madonna / Sex

Getting it right: high quality photography by Steven Meisel, sophisticated and innovative design.

Getting it wrong: initially filmed as a dramatic, straight interpretation of the book, Exit to Eden the script was heavily re-written by the studio and a comedic sub-plot with O'Donnel and Aykroyd was tacked on.

Like any once subversive subculture, eventually it will be co-opted by the corporate mainstream and commodified.

Stock photography as a cultural indicator.

The people buying these images are not individuals looking for porn, it's marketing and design firms, publishing companies and advertising agencies...
Getty Images

Luxury kink: no longer regulated to mail-order catalogs and SM leather shops, kink turns boutique.
Kiki de Montparnasse, Coco de Mer

Now, there are friendly starter kits and bachelorette party gifts sets complete with blindfolds, feathers (for some reason) and comfortably cushioned handcuffs.

Even material created by kinky people, for kinky people uses the same imagery and symbols. Considering the variation and complexity of sexuality, maybe a more realistic representation of kink is something like this:

The End

For more information: The Development of Sadomasochism as a Cultural Style in the Twentieth-Century United States by Robert Bienvenu