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