The Library of Spanking Fiction: Wellred Weekly

Wellred Weekly
Volume 1, Number 11 : October 21, 2012
Items of interest regarding all things spanking

Spanking in Photography (cont.)
by Jameslovesbirch

Irving Klaw and Bettie Page
In the early 1950s, Bettie Page became the first well-known mainstream model to pose for erotic fetish photos. Working for New York photographer Irving Klaw, Page appeared in hundreds of bondage and spanking photos as well as dozens of short 8mm stag films (non-pornographic film-loops featuring bondage, female wrestling, pony play, and foot-fetish scenarios). She alternated between playing the stern, punishing dominatrix and the helpless victim who gets tied up and spanked. The photos and films were sold out of Klaw's store and by mail order.

It should be noted that Klaw got into the fetish business totally by accident. He began selling conventional movie star stills and cheesecake pin-ups. But an increasing demand from his clients for kinkier fare led him to create his own brand of iconic fetish photographs and film-loops. The transformation of his business reflects a cultural shift that was just beginning to emerge from the shadows.

Adult stores selling erotic books, comics, and nudist magazines gradually began to openly display what were called "art photos". These were usually 3x5 inch black & white prints of nude models, including "exotic" sets with a bondage, spanking, or fetish-wear theme. They were often sold in sets of around 5 to 10 photos. An example captured on film occurs in the 1966 sexploitation movie Maidens of Fetish Street (which also contains scenes of spanking and whipping). One scene is filmed inside an actual Los Angeles sex shop that has fetishistic $2 photo-sets covering its walls.

Underground magazines
The late 1940s saw the sudden rise of countless underground fetish-lifestyle magazines. The majority came from New York and Los Angeles. Many were covertly published under fictitious names. These under-the-counter, digest-sized booklets featured a variety of kinky black & white photographs of bondage, spanking, domination (male and female), pony play, doggie training, and other fetishistic subjects.

F/F bondage and spanking scene by
John Willie, from Bizarre magazine
By the 1950s titles appeared such as Ultra, Unique, Masque, Exotique, and Connoisseur. Perhaps the most well-known of this genre is Bizarre (1946-1959), published in New York by artist John Willie. Bizarre is distinguished by Willie's vivid, realistic artwork as well as its fetish photographs, some of which were purchased from Charles Guyette's burlesque and BDSM equipment store.

The more permissive climate of the sixties led to a sharp increase in kinky imagery of every type in nearly every medium. The new wave of "roughie" exploitation films, underground 8mm fetish (and pornographic) film-loops, spanking/bondage novels and comics, girlie magazines and lurid "true adventure" and gory crime periodicals, and even mainstream magazines and movies became increasingly daring. All of this had an effect on spanking photography.

By the mid-sixties, single-issue specialty magazines devoted entirely to spanking photography began to appear, albeit covertly, at newsstands and adult bookstores. Perhaps the first ongoing all-spanking magazine was Corporal (c. 1967-1974) from New York publisher Leonard Burtman. The number of publications increased over the next three decades. Three of the best-known British magazines of that era were Janus, which began in 1971, Roue, and Kane produced by Harrison Marks in the 1980s.

Another interesting change that occurred in the sixties is the sudden appearance of ethnic models in the heretofore all-white world of erotic fantasy. African women in particular make frequent appearances, usually playing a dominatrix or "switch", in spanking magazine layouts, 8mm stag films, and sexploitation movies. This trend toward diversity, and gradual increase of Asian models, continued into the next decade.

Influence of videos
In the early 1980s the booming home video market ushered in a new era of fetish photography. Nearly all of the major producers of erotic bondage and spanking videos (London Enterprises, House of Milan, Harmony Concepts, Nu-West/Leda Productions, Shadow Lane, et al.) as well as many smaller companies began publishing their own photo-magazines.

Nu-West was perhaps the first to sell illustrated catalogs for their videos. These were small, cheaply produced booklets with black & white photos. The more ambitious (London's Spank Hard, for example) produced glossy full-size periodicals that copied the format of mainstream lifestyle magazines. These were loaded with spanking photos (usually a mix of color and black & white) and sometimes included amateur snapshots sent in by their readers.

Professional bondage models, and other adult entertainers, made the quick transition to making fetish videos, and many became well-known stars in this particular niche industry. The video producers were quick to capitalize on their popularity and sold photo-sets featuring their new stars. Some sets consisted of still photos taken from video productions, while others were created from exclusive photo-shoots.

Various "tie-in" magazines were also introduced to promote videos and create a second product line from a single source. Instead of posed photo-sessions, these consisted entirely of stills taken during the filming of a video. London, once again, was at the forefront of this concept. Now one had the option of buying, for example, London's Bondage Cheerleaders video or its companion magazine (also called Bondage Cheerleaders) which was packed with photos from the movie and a bit of narrative text.

However, this is not an entirely new idea. Irving Klaw did the same type of cross-promotion back in the 1950s. While making his 8mm bondage and spanking film-loops, he would simultaneously shoot hundreds of still photos. Many of these photographs became best-sellers and helped to increase sales of his stag films.

One negative result, among companies with less diligent quality control than London and HOM, is the intrusive clicking and whirring of still cameras and the glare of flash-bulbs going off during a video. This can be distracting as well as destructive to the fantasy the film has tried to create. The low-budget videos from Nu-West in the '80s and '90s are especially noteworthy for this practice.

Realism replaces fantasy
While spanking art photos have always been staged, today you can often see close-up views of bottoms that show real or realistic looking cane or whip marks. In an interview with veteran fetish actress and bondage model Kiri Kelly, she revealed that the standard practice among models is to paint on welts and bruises with rouge make-up. She, however, always insisted on getting a real spanking that created genuine red markings.

The increase in more realistic and severe-looking spanking imagery is largely due to the influence of video-based magazines that published, for the first time, vivid, color photos of actual punishment sessions. This, along with an overall demand by the public for more realism a small part of a great cultural shift in mainstream entertainment has made significant changes in the industry.

Although the depictions of corporal punishment are primarily authentic, fantasy scenarios are still being used, especially in videos. Elements of pop culture, films, television programs, history, and folklore remain the subject of parody.

Child spanking photos are rarely taken today. Most of the few around are either vintage or digital stills from mainstream movies, or fun spanking pictures.

The Internet
Erotic adult spanking photos of every type and description can be found on the Internet. An increasing number of amateurs post their own photographs on personal websites, spanking blogs, and shared image sites.

There are thousands of free spanking sites of every variety as well as specialized spanking pay sites. Countless online databases of historical, as well as contemporary, photographs can be accessed for free or for a nominal membership fee.

The main difference is today one usually purchases viewing access instead of buying individual photos. Online access allows the user to print out images or download them onto their computer where they can be stored, uploaded to other websites or manipulated in a variety of ways.

Most producers of fetish/spanking DVDs also sell photographs (still photos taken from videos as well as posed pictures) directly from their websites. They also tend to display a great number of free pictures used to promote their videos. Some even offer customized videos or photo-sets based on specific client requests. And many professional spanking models and actresses, as well as a wide variety of amateurs, have personal websites from which they sell exclusive spanking photos of themselves.

Jameslovebirch is a regular contributor to the Spanking Art Wiki

PinkAngel said...
I enjoyed reading about the history of these photographs and how things were done in days gone past. Very informative, thank you.
22 October 2012 18:58
Alef said...
Very informative and interesting. Thank you!
22 October 2012 20:17
sixofthebest said...
Bravo, Jameslovebirch. Your article on the history of Spanking Photography, is most profound. Yes, we 'spanko's', must thank our pioneer forerunners, to bring us to where we are now., For in our case, There must always have been a beginning, to a woman's or man's 'bottom,' so to speak END. BARE END. SPANKING BARE END.
22 October 2012 22:24
canadianspankee said...
Interesting to read the history, I never realized that things went back as far as they did. I knew things were in use after 1945 but had no knowledge of how extensive things were previous to that. Of course the internet has changed the world in many ways and spanking sites are a sure sign of that. Photographs I am afraid might be on the way out with all the videos etc on line, but one never knows. Well done article and well written, thanks for the history lesson.
23 October 2012 06:32
opb said...
An interesting article documenting the post-war industry.
I'm sure that fetish photography occurred much earlier than the 40's, ( possibly from the dawn of photography, what better subject to point one's lens at after all?)

I wonder if there was a hiatus in spanking photography during the early part of the 20th century?
23 October 2012 08:13
potterstoke said...
Thanks for such an interesting and informative article. Over the years I've collected 'vintage' spanking and CP images, mostly from the first half of the C19th. It's interesting to note how important costume was to support the story being conveyed my the image and, as you indicate, that story is often 'tongue-in-cheek' or satirical. They have an appeal, perhaps it's a sense of a lost era, that modern and more graphic photographs cannot match - plus the fact that none have tattoos on show! I have often wondered if there were also English spanko photographers who produced and sold to a very exclusive, affluent market!
24 October 2012 09:28
suemary said...
I have seen many drawings that depicted flagellation/CP/spanking sometimes involving wives or young women but quite often nuns. These belonged to an era before photography. Clearly there was a great market just waiting for modern media to exploit. A fascinating article.
26 October 2012 20:32
bendover said...
I really enjoyed the history in this article. As a young man I was thrilled with looking at spanking photographs no matter who was getting spanked. I have to agree that Bettie Page was one of the early best at it. I also bought a few videos, but I was completely turned off by the horrible acting, and a bit too much talk. Overall, this was very informative, James. Thanks for the input.

26 October 2012 21:25
meander said...
Thanks for the knowledgeable overview. Vintage photos - especially pre-1950's - have a painting like stillness to them that makes me appreciate every inch.
27 October 2012 21:28
rollin said...
Just a note---Ed Lee, founder of Nu-West has just announced his retirement. Nu-West produced the best still photography for TTWD that I've ever seen.
28 October 2012 00:27
dougnic said...
Thanks Rollin and a very great thanks to Ed Lee.What a fighter and what a spanker! He pushed back the boundaries!
28 October 2012 03:09
islandcarol said...
How I enjoy viewing spanking and bondage photos from the 1800s. The medium was new and exciting and there were no limits. Women's bodies reminded me of art from the classic Roman/Greek style, romantic and lyrical. The posed figures were only the natural bodies without an airbrushed sheen. Internet BSDM images leave nothing to the imagination. They are objects to be consumed, not to inspire.

Your article is well researched and contained a number of clues regarding how spanking photography was influenced by world events. The development of the art now makes more sense to me. I appreciate the broad view you offer.
30 October 2012 12:44
barretthunter said...
Some twenty years ago a French brandy was advertised in London by a series of big posters on the Underground. I'm convinced they were deliberately evoking these classic spanking photos. The picture was in old-fashioned sepia and showed two shapely young women in tight riding-britches and with old-fashioned hairdos walking with a horse towards a gate. One of the women was holding a switch so that it angled just under her buttocks. The horse's hindquarters neatly set off the women's.

Of course if challenged the company could have denied that the poster had any sexual content at all...
31 October 2012 12:17
Sammi11205 said...
I am a big fan of erudite studies such as James Birch's work here. Kudos to him for doing the research, and for Wellred Weekly for providing a forum for such thorough and thoughtful analysis.
2 November 2012 01:02
spankingdude said...
Interesting looking at whats been available in previous decades and what is now available from the internet. Great article.
3 November 2012 02:58
Brucie said...
The best of the online spanking galleries are in a league of their own when it comes to quality photos. As much as I loved the writing in magazines like Janus and Kane, the photographic images were rarely anything special. Often, just showing a bare bottom at some stage in the punishment process was thought to be good enough.

Websites like Spanking Online and Punished Brats have generated probably thousands of creatively conceived and carefully crafted photos showing naughty girls having their bottoms warmed in vivid detail. They've shown me many of the finest spanking images I've ever seen in some 45 years of looking.

In all of that time, I've also seen virtually nothing memorable (I'm being polite) in the way of F/m spanking photos, be it in magazines or online galleries. Why the spanking of naughty boys has never been given anything like the same artistically serious attention as girls, I honestly don't know. It's partly why I finally started photographing my own bare/spanked bottom. If the spanking trade couldn't be bothered to give naughty boys their visual due, I'd make my own pictures.
22 June 2013 05:54
jameslovebirch said...
Reply to opb: All spanking photography is fetishistic so, not sure what you mean. Pseudo-literary bondage scenarios with historical trappings (mostly copying Andromeda & Greek/Roman slave paintings) crept in around the 1880s. There was a steady increase in quantity and daring over the years (no sign of a lull). By the '20s we start to see fancy leather and rubber fetish wear in Paris-based photos. The '30s saw overt BDSM dungeon & dominatrix images with no literary context -- besides the growing underground CP novel industry. After the disruption of WWII (1940-45), The thread was picked up, mostly in the less war-weary U.S., in the 40s and 50s. By the '60s it was pretty much fetish-a-go-go all over the world, especially Denmark, Sweden, Germany, etc.
16 July 2013 15:53

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